Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How do you get over feeling like you're a failure, and that everything you touch or dare to dream about will only end in failure?

Have got to get a handle on this. There isn't much life left to waste.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Beginnings of a Very Bad Science Fiction Movie

The office chair has been purchased. If I had the funds I'd get two or three more. I checked out my backsliding ways and decided that I've slid far enough, it's time to get back to the grind. I haven't been dedicating myself to writing the way I should, so here I am. There's also a facebook group/yahoo group/loose federation of writers on the internet that is nudging me every now and then, so more regular writing and (gasp!) even more fiction writing is on the horizon. I'm keeping a pad and pen by the bed so I can jot notes down as I'm getting ready for bed. For some reason that's my most productive idea time right now. It probably has something to do with my penchant for last-minute stuff. The short story I'm working on has been kicking around in my head for a while, so it's time to get it pixelated so I can move on to developing other ideas.

Right now, in between bouts of computer surfing and blogging, I'm dealing with a run-away sourdough starter. The fungus that develops both breads and beers has to be kept fed and in an environment that will keep it happy, so every day I add a little flour and a little warm water and stir vigorously. However, I haven't had any time to bake in the last few days, so right now I have probably half a gallon of sourdough starter, maybe a little more, and the beginnings of what looks like a very bad science fiction movie. Today there will be baking, even if the Banshees aren't going to be available to eat much of it (yes, you guessed it, chores not being done, personal hygiene either barely or non-existent, lots of Monster High play time. I loathe Monster High. Have I mentioned that?). I don't know how many loaves of bread or batches of sourdough pancakes or -- hmm, I wonder if sourdough crackers would be possible? -- whatever else I can dream up to get the starter back down to the size where it can fit back into its little quart jar. Sourdough bread takes me a little while longer than my usual add everything together, mix vigorously, let rise & bake regular white bread. I add flour, water, and starter. And wait. Then a little more flour and a little more time. Then a bit more flour and a wodge of salt and a smidge of sugar. And wait. Then a little oil and the rest of the flour, and if I've read the starter right and the moon is in the seventh house and all the stars are aligned in the heavens, it will rise into a real live loaf and I can pop into the oven and actually get bread. I've been working on sourdough on and off over twenty years and mostly it has been off. Way off. But I think I'm improving and from lots and lots of experience I really don't think I'm going to let it go until I'm either dead or routinely successful. It took me more than 25 years to figure out how to knit (self taught from books and woefully stubborn), so I know that some problems I never truly let go of, even if I've thrown them in the back of the closet for a couple of years (knitting, not sourdough. There are limits, even for me.).

The One Thing I did yesterday was get the weather-worn-out tarps and one disintegrating pool into trash cans and out to the curb. Yay! The Wilderness still is weedy, overgrown, junked-up and unappealing, but it is less so than it was yesterday. Today I need to finish up cleaning our little ice chests and putting them up and I'll probably put the soaker hose out where I need to dig post holes. Tomorrow...well, tomorrow I hope I've got the wherewithal to actually dig a post hole. I've got the rebar. I've got the cement. I've got the bents. I've got chicken wire and bird netting and every other darned thing necessary to get started with Chez Quackers II (except the ends. No doors or framing for doors or experience in framing for doors or hanging doors, but by the end of CQII I'll have experienced every how-not-to-do-it possible, so there's that) and no excuse at all to not do anything.

Okay, maybe one excuse to not work as vigorously as I'm used to. A couple of weeks ago I started up with a not-so-much lower back pain as a really-high-up pelvic pain, as in, it hurts where the pelvic bone joins to the spine. After three or four days of that, I got a little sharper than ache pain all the way down my left leg. And the day after than, no pain but numbness all the way down the outside of my left leg down into my foot. It's very bizarre not being able to feel bits and pieces of yourself. It's probably sciatica, and I'm doing a round of ibuprofen, ice, and gentle exercise. My favorite activity of sitting in front of the internet all day is probably out for a while. Or should be. I still indulge far more than I should, but I'm trying to be a good person about it all and pare back. I think the universe is gently poking me and reminding me about all of the time I retrieved since I went on strike, and suggesting that I quit wasting it by checking G+ and Facebook and Andrew Sullivan nine zillion times a day. Okay, universe, I'm listening. Or trying to anyhow. Maybe I should do some before, during, and after pictures of The Wilderness as I try to persuade it to be Hopping Goose Farm.

I'm still stumbling along with the whole Teach Your Banshee Drafting Techniques. Part of that is that I have to go check the metal shed to see if my old apprenticeship books are out there, and if so, how badly I want to battle the black widows for possession. I'm temporizing by seeking out lettering and drafting technique books on the used textbook market and finding, I'm hoping, some amazing bargains. I have no issues with thirty-year-old texts; right now I can't afford Autocad or any of its cousins so all of the texts on those are moot. A thirty-year-old text is right about my technological level. Besides, my Banshees already know how to deal with computers. They really need to learn how to control a pencil better and the lettering should help with that.

Yesterday I realized that I may have stumbled upon a unit studies sort of situation. Technical drawing has applications in any direction you care to throw a rock at. MB wants to build a full-scale Dalek and I have been tearing my hair out in frustration trying to explain the concept of detailed drawing to the boy. Ah. Hm. Perhaps learning the ins and outs of technical drawing might help? The idea I had to teach them how to imagine and draw up a floor-plan has morphed into the idea that, with the proper drafting techniques, we could attempt to draw up and then build just about any building in history, from ye olde mudde hut to the Great Pyramid at Giza. Sounds like fun to me, although I'm more likely to work on barrel vaults and domes. Architecture has a reason behind most of its idiosyncrasies, and I'd like to know more about what lead up to those characteristics. VoilĂ , history!

I'm still turning it around in my head. Like welding, technical/mechanical drawing touches every aspect of our lives. I don't know how or even if I'm going to be able to get this up and running. It is, however, a subject that I find very interesting and that may be the best way of dragging the Banshees along for the ride. Find a subject, light a passion, feed the fire. If done right, if the fire gets lit, there may be very little dragging involved.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

10 minutes and the wrong way to go about things

MB is a talented person. Highly talented in several areas. One unfortunate aspect of his multiple talents is that he can get me into a position where I forget every single strike principle I forged over the last few weeks. That child can yank more chains, pull more levers, and push more buttons than his sisters, his father, and his uncle combined. Defin'tly.

So yesterday I had one of those 48-hours-in-24 days, with lots to do and a limited amount of time and sanity to accomplish anything. In the top 3 priority list was new shoes for everyone -- hey, I've got two adolescent Banshees and one pre-adolescent (and I use this in the physical development sense, not exactly chronological age. Bear with me!) and the growth spurts are astonishing on occasion. MB has the feet of a hobbit; big, broad, sturdy constructions set under a spindly critter not yet five feet tall. He's at the stage that scares most penny pinching parents, a massive growth spurt that causes the huge amount of food I keep on hand to look almost foolishly paltry on occasion and causes various bits and pieces of him to multiply in size on a weekly basis. Good grief, I thought I was going to have to hem those pants two days ago. And, of course, whaddaya mean your brand new shoes are too tight?!?

Also, over the weekend the Banshees managed to get away with a large amount of murder because MB had a birthday one day and another the family had friends over. I relaxed some of my rules and predictably, the Banshees ran with it. When Tuesday rolled around with with its list of to-do's longer than my leg, Banshees one and Banshees all decided that 1. chores were back on the 'suggested' list and 2. personal hygiene? What's that? And there was no bigger protester than MB, the same MB who has been begging for new shoes for quite a while now. All morning it was a constant refrain of "When are we going? Are we going shoe shopping now? When are we going to go get shoes, Mom?" Meanwhile I'm looking at a tousled head that hasn't seen a brush OR a shower with shampoo involved in days, and the kitchen is looking more and more like a missile testing site, and the room MB currently resides in...well, that really would take a trained archaeologist at this point.

We have a lot to do, so I broke the first rule: I nudged. I reminded. I set out hints large enough to make an elephant shear off. And got exactly...nothing. Not a twinge. Not a peep. Not even a vague hint of recognition that something big and gravity-disrupting might have entered the solar system. After the fourth hint and no clue, I finally asked MB what the terms and conditions were to go anywhere in my company. "Ah. Um. Chores? Personal hygiene? Homework?" Yes! Recognition! Maybe we're getting somewhere! So off he goes to run himself through the shower, after which he comes out, sits at the table and...reads a book. For a long time. While his hair dries in tangles and nothing. else. gets. done. It is now 11:30 a.m. and I have shoes to buy, groceries to get, a new office chair to acquire, a soaker hose, and that list of things to do hasn't gotten any shorter than my leg. Maybe even a bit taller. The rest of my Thou Shalt Not list shattered. Thou shalt not provide carrots. I reminded him that we were waiting on him to get his stuff done so we could get him shoes. Thou shalt not lose thy temper. Oh. Big time broken. Thou shalt not lecture. I lost track of time. It's easy to do. Thou shalt not accept half-measures, haphazard, or last-minute as actually done, done correctly, done on time. I had places to go and it was not one of those days I could leave Banshees behind. Thou shalt enforce Consequences fairly and calmly, and let those Consequences speak for themselves. Yeah. Not today. Probably the funniest -- okay, it was more humorous later but that's how these things go -- part of the whole affair was how that, while I was white hot frustrated with MB's behavior, I was even angrier with myself for letting him get to me like that. He's only half-way to being an adult and is still being trained for the position. I AM the adult, and I know better.

I have learned that there are certain patterns I need to avoid or change to be healthier. When sleep deprived I'm irritable to the point of psychosis and therefore not a good mother, so I learned that sleep is an imperative I cannot ignore. I have known for ages that I'm an introvert that needs a certain amount of alone time to be able to function as a good parent, but only recently has it been brought home to me just how important solitude is to me and how much the lack of it has damaged my ability to function at all. Squalling like an amped up Klingon has never been productive in this household -- but it's a pattern I learned in childhood and it's the pattern I have used for much of my children's childhood, so breaking it is going to take time and a nearly infinite amount of patience, and the ability to forgive myself for screwing up on occasion. Deep breath. Get up. Try again.