“A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
G. K. Chesterton

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

The planks and bricks came home today and boy am I exhausted.
the workshop ate my homework
Fri 2015-06-26 23:56:01 (single post)

Pictured at right is a large part of the reason that the July 26 Friday Fictionette will be late. This is the walking-in-the-door view of our storage closet, which is located downstairs in the parking garage. Every unit in the building gets one. Bigger units presumably get bigger storage closets. Our unit is a 2-bed 2-bath, which apparently corresponds to a huge storage closet.

It was also a huge selling point for our new home. From the first time we looked at the address's listing online and saw pictures of all the rooms and amenities, John declared that, if we did buy the place, the storage closet would not be used exclusively or even primarily for storage; it would in fact become his new workshop. He has all kinds of DIY projects in various stages of development, and he needs a place where he can store all their components and work on them in comfort.

If he were that sort of a dude, this would be his "man cave." But he is not that sort of a dude (I probably wouldn't have married that sort of a dude), and he finds the whole gender-normative and gender-restrictive idea of a "man cave" to be repulsive. Scrapping and woodworking and electrical projects aren't just for men. And, as he was quick to point out, the workshop/storage unit isn't just his. Some of my DIY is down there too: fleeces I have yet to card and spin, used roller derby equipment to be donated or upcycled, my homebrew equipment for when I finally contemplate making mead again, & etc.

John's been excitedly showing me every step in the ongoing process of organizing and furnishing the place. Like when he brought home that work bench from Home Depot (you can barely see it on the left in the photo) and pointed out where he was going to hang a peg board. And how he met a neighbor who's put his own storage closet to similar use, and got some useful tips from him.

Today we went to the rental storage unit and, together, ferried back four 8-foot planks and a whole bunch of cement blocks. Back at the old place, these used to be part of our entertainment center, where we kept and used our TV, computer, phonograph and records, CDs, and video games. Now they've been erected as storage shelving. See how well they work?

After bringing those things home, I was officially beat. I have no idea how John found the energy to go down there, put a bunch of things on the shelves, sand his workbench to a satiny finish, sweep the whole place out, and make a first pass at staining the workbench. Me, I was flat. It also bears mentioning that in addition to the planks and bricks, we brought home two boxes of paperbacks, and I wasted no time picking out one to reread. So I wasn't just flat, I was flat with my falling-apart copy of Patricia McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe. I had the self-restraint to put it away after fourteen chapters and several hours of on-and-off napping. Would that I had not picked it up in the first place, but it was probably unreasonable to expect me to resist that much temptation.

(Books! Books are coming home! We have a house full of books once more!)

We don't have a name for the workshop besides "the workshop," other than agreeing, with much rolling of the eyes at the mere mention, that it is not "the man cave." But we do have a name for the house. We came up with it last week: The Conservatory. It is phonetically similar to the previous place's name (The Observatory), and it makes reference to almost all the senses of the word we can think of:

A solarium/greenhouse. We've got the herb and vegetable container garden out back, the tropical plants indoors, and the flowers on the front patio.

A place for the performance arts. We've got a number of musical instruments, many of them real (piano, guitar, hammer dulcimer, cornet, etc.) and a few of them fake (Rock Band 2 and 3 on the Wii). Transitioning from a third-floor unit with neighbors below to a street-level unit with nothing underneath but a parking garage has made us much more free to indulge in melodious noise-makers.

A sunroom. AKA the back half of the house. Since the summer arrived in earnest, it's gotten quite bright and warm. The plants are happy, but we find ourselves retreating to the office, kitchen, and front patio for a little relief.

A pun on "conservation." I've already made mention of the wildlife in the neighborhood, specifically itinerant whitetail and mule deer. And then there's the bird-and-squirrel TV on the back porch. We get house finches, sparrows, and the occasional grackle on the feeder. Then there's a very timid bird, somewhat smaller than a sparrow, that visits the feeder quickly and stealthily, almost before I can get a good look at it. I think it's a black-capped chickadee. Squirrels show up to eat whatever winds up on the deck. Sometimes the squirrels investigate our garden, at which point we chase them away with brooms. It'll be a pleasant surprise if any of our sunflowers make it to the flowering stage.

The most recent bird drama has been a family of grackles--possibly more than one family--the adolescents of which have been doggedly resisting their parents' attempts to teach them self-sufficiency. They yap and yap until the adult birds shove a mouthful of suet cake into their faces. Or until the parents make it clear they are not going to do this anymore, but instead showily demonstrate how one goes about getting one's own damn mouthful of suet cake from the feeder. Today, the youngsters have been shyly arriving on the back porch, unchaperoned and determined to figure things out.

Best of all today was the dragonfly swarm at dusk. I don't generally get to see dragonflies in Boulder in anywhere near the numbers I would back home in New Orleans. Usually I just see one or two, mostly out by the small private lakes, along the creeks, or in the pocket "wetlands" where the cattails grow. But as I walked down the block to go see how John was coming along in the workshop, I happened to look up at the place where our building separates into two "towers," into the space in between that's open to the sky, and in that narrow alley was a mob of dragonflies, all swooping and diving and hunting their prey. John came up with me to see the spectacle. We went up to the second floor walkway for a better look, and it was that much more amazing--especially when some of them repeatedly swooped at our faces. I only wish I could have seen their colors better; at twilight, small things turn monochrome.

Well, I also wish I'd gotten a picture, but I doubt my crappy 10-year-old Kodak would have done the scene justice. Maybe I'll try anyway on Sunday. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow's bout day. Come twilight I'll be skating roller derby at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. (If you would like to see this for yourself, doors open at 5:30 PM and tickets are $15; I'll be in the second bout.) But I'll be home at twilight on Sunday, unless plans should change.

Sunday is also when I'm hoping to post the July 26 Friday Fictionette. Monday at the latest. (Sorry again.)

So that's the week, that's the news from the Conservatory, and that's it for me for now. Good night!

sneaky hobbitses is thirty-nine now precious
Thu 2015-04-23 23:59:59 (single post)

Totally spaced that today was coming up, since a whole bunch of other April dates have overshadowed it, but--today is "no longer 'almost'" day. Which is to say, I am no longer almost 39. I can own that number, y'all! Woot!

I had rather a hobbit's birthday. Have I got that right? It's been a while since I've read the source text, but, isn't it hobbits who have the tradition that when it's your birthday, you give other people gifts? It was kind of great. I had occasion to bring flowers to one person and cake to another. The reason for the cake was a lot happier than the reason for the flowers; nevertheless, bringing people nice things is fun. Flowers are pretty. Cake is tasty. I like hobbit birthdays.

I am less fond of the stereotypical attitude toward women's birthdays: "remember the date, but pretend to forget her age." Feh. Other way around for me. I don't want a big deal made out of the day--I prefer to let it sneak by people like Bilbo with the ring on--but I do want full credit for every year I've been alive, please and thank you. In tabletop role playing terms, those are experience points. Respect the experience points. They get funneled into awesome stats.

My parents called, of course. Dad mostly wanted to hear that I came through the tournament without breaking myself this time. I don't think he fully realized that this absurd new hobby his daughter picked up comes with a real risk of injury until I sprained/tore my ACL early this year. I could hear him sort of pull up short when I told him about the MRI and diagnosis and recovery plan. Like, woah, shit got serious, I'm suddenly not OK with this. I think he needs more reassurance now because of that. Oh, and my brother texted. That always makes me smile.

I did give myself a present--well, I tried. Events of the day intervened in the implementation of the intent, but the intent was good. The intent was to figure out how best to schedule my work days so as to make them comfortable, productive, fun, and as little stressful as possible. And, well, I came up with a good schedule, but the universe reminded me that, as they say, life is what happens when you're making other plans. That's OK. The plans can be reused for many days to come.

The plan goes something like this: Two and a half hours of writing in the morning, ideally from 8:30 to 11:00, then two and a half hours of writing in the afternoon, ideally from 2:30 to 5:00. Tying the writing sessions to actual times on the clock helps it all get done before derby or other evening activities, and it gives me permission to tell people, "I'm at work right now." True, sometimes I can't bring myself to say that, mainly because some requests are too important to turn down. But most of the time those random things that come up can be put off until the lunch break, which I've made deliberately long precisely to accommodate those random things along with the more predictable day-to-day household administrative duties.

So that's my plan for tomorrow. That and maybe a nice evening out. We'll see what I'm up for.

It's hard to think about being up for anything when you're dead exhausted. Tonight's roller derby scrimmage was a bit under-attended, what with the Bombshells being just back from Indiana and the All Stars preparing to go to Idaho. We had only enough skaters show up to field a single line-up for each team over and over and over again. It was a great endurance work-out, but we all got tired and sloppy toward the end of the night, and that can get scary. When it seems every jam is ending in a messy pile-up, and everyone's getting a bit of someone else in the face at high speed, you start wondering how long before someone sustains actual damage. So I was glad when they declared the third period over while the tally remained at the bruises-and-scratches-and-aching-muscles level.

Which is a long way of saying I go collapse now, K? OK.

There is a stack of notebooks and manuscripts under that manuscript-sized box on the right half, too.
you're gonna carry that weight for a long time
Thu 2015-04-09 23:49:57 (single post)
  • 59,193 wds. long
  • 128.50 hrs. revised

As expected, I haven't been able to write much this week. Any time not spent sleeping or at derby practice, has been spent moving items from our old address to our new. There have been many carloads, and each carload required multiple trips up and down the stairs that I'm so pleased to leave behind. I can almost do those stairs blindfolded by now: Eight steps down, three paces to U-turn on the landing, another eight steps down and another landing worth three paces, one last bunch of eight and three paces forward to finally descend the three steps of the front stoop.

Most of those carloads have been packed solo, either because John did it while I was at derby, or I did it while John was working. A solo carload takes longer, and it takes a higher toll on the person making it happen. I was done today an hour before we had to leave for practice and scrimmage, but it was an hour spent half asleep because I simply had nothing left for anything more productive.

Today was mostly me, and my goal was to completely empty the office closet. Six clear-bin stackable plastic drawers plus a Rubbermaid bin and a couple bags full of crafting supplies, three stackable plastic file cabinets, two big boxes of miscellaneous removable data media (CDs, DVDs, 3.5" floppies), another box full of "all manner of useful cables" according to my Sharpie memo to myself, a great variety of stationery...

...and a surprisingly large amount of my own writing. Early NaNoWriMo novel drafts printed out for revision. Copies of my short stories with critiques scribbled between the lines and in the margins. Spiral notebooks with drafts, writing exercises, and notes toward rewrites. The three chapters of The Drowning Boy that went with me to Viable Paradise in 2006 and came back looking like they had bled from innumerable cuts. (Not that they all bled red. But oh, how they bled.)

There were in that great mass of paper several copies of other people's stories that they chose to share with me or to send by mail as part of a critique exchange. But for the most part, the author whose works were contained in that box was me.

It was almost too heavy for me to lift. But I managed. I got it down the stairs and into the car without breaking either it or me. I felt strangely reassured by both of these things. The weight of that box was a reminder of how prolific I really have been. And yet I am capable of lifting the weight of my own words. There's something symbolic in that.

Still, when I pulled up to our new front door, I was happy to accept John's offer to take one end of that box and help me lift the load. Just because I could do it alone didn't mean I'd always have to.

There's something symbolic about that, too.

scenes from an unofficial house warming
Wed 2015-04-08 23:59:02 (single post)

Things Become Irrelevant. The housewife contemplates the laundry machines. She has options now. She can run a small load on half the water. She can tumble her yoga pants and sports bra on an hour of the air dry setting. It won't be a waste of quarters. Quarters are no longer of pressing concern. Maybe there doesn't need to be a quarters jar anymore, just a single jar for all the household loose change. Later, the housewife will realize that she forgot a load of T-shirts in the dryer. There will be a moment of panic before she remembers she can leave those T-shirts there all night long, and no neighbors will care.

Meeting the Neighbors. The roller derby skater opens her front door, expecting nothing more than a brief wait for her ride to practice. Instead she encounters a pair of young deer. They stare up at her from the sidewalk, as though caught in the act of daring each other to ring the doorbell and run. Skater and deer simultaneously engage in a pretense of nonchalance. If it's a contest, the deer win. They amble away towards a not-very-distant lilac bush. The skater is too delighted to keep a straight face. She watches them snacking on the shrubbery until her teammate arrives to pick her up.

Care and Feeding of Your First Hot Water Boiler.
"Help! I can't get any hot water for the tub!"
"What?"
"I need a hot bath, and the water's coming out lukewarm!"
"I... just can't. I don't know. I'm tired and I need to eat. Can I not deal with this?"
"Wait, it's OK--there's this dial thingie on the boiler thingie, and it was set to VACATION. When I turned it, it started a fire! Look, it's all blue and stuff!"
"Good. That's good. Good for you. We're good now, right?"
"Yeah, I set it somewhere between WARM and HOT."
"Good."

Paradigm Shift. The author sits at her desk, writing with teal ink in a spiral notebook. It is her desk. On the desk is her computer, her printer, her electric kettle and her favorite cup of tea. The routine has been enacted countless times before. But all these things are in a room that is entirely new to the author. Thus she is writing at her desk in her office for the first time. She remembers a previous move, when the cats slinked and yowled in the empty rooms of a new apartment, how they only began to settle down when the humans unloaded the cats' familiar, beat-up, second-hand arm chair from the U-Haul trailer. How they gravitated to it immediately, how they curled up around each other on the stained and much-scratched cushion. The author understands them better now. The move wasn't real until the desk arrived. She can finally convince her habitual self that this isn't a hotel, they won't be packing up again and going home. They are home.

this piece of paper pleases and frightens me greatly
Wed 2015-04-01 23:47:25 (single post)

Today we closed on the sale of our home of fifteen years. Put that way, it sounds like a nostalgic, bittersweet occurrence. It's not. We are so, so ready to move. Although at this point it's less a matter of dissatisfaction with certain features of the property as it is just eagerness to finally see the end of a process begun in August of 2013.

A year and a half ago.

A year and a half ago, we said to each other, "You know, we could move out. That really is an option that is open to us. Let's go talk to someone about that." A year and a half ago, we wandered into Pedal To Properties and met a realtor who began demystifying the process for us. A year and a half ago, we began gleefully carting box after box of stuff--mostly books and media and also shelving--to a newly rented storage facility unit. We were going to de-clutter and tidy and clean and get the place ready to be listed.

And then the storm of September 2013 hit. Water soaked through the roof and ruined a bunch of our home's innards. It was clear we wouldn't be selling the place any time soon.

It wasn't until April 2014 that our roof was replaced. Then it wasn't until August 2014 that our unit's interior got repaired and renovated. And then, because we had not, admittedly, been using the intervening time wisely, it wasn't until mid-February 2015 that we finished our own personal hand-wrought home improvements (e.g. OMG THOSE CLOSET DOORS) and were ready to put the place on market.

And then on February 19 and 20 we hosted about a million walk-throughs, received a bunch of offers, and accepted one. Everything just followed schedule from there. Which is how we wound up, today, very briefly, for the amount of time it took us to drive from the title company's office to the bank, with custody of a check made out to us in an amount that gently exceeded that with which we'd actually bought this place 15 years ago.

That's a weird feeling. It's not so much Daffy Duck crowing "I'm rich! I'm rich!" and diving through piles of gold coins, right? Because for one thing, it's all going toward the closing costs and down payment of the purchase of our new home. It won't be ours for long. And for another thing, it's frankly terrifying. Like, I have a piece of paper worth MY FUTURE sitting in my bookbag, all fragile and easily lost or stolen. We got to the bank and we were all HERE PLEASE TAKE THIS OFF OUR HANDS AND PUT IT SOMEWHERE SAFE IT SCARES US.

And then we had lunch. And we crowed a bit.

Now there's just the aforementioned closing next week, and then the moving-in operations. Which, to be honest, don't look so daunting now that yesterday's great big to-do list is to-done. All the wheels are in motion and all we have to do is ride them out.

By Sunday the 12th, the process started in August 2013 will be over (give or take a few weeks of leisurely emptying out our storage unit). I'll finally be able to breathe.

And, y'know, maybe write a little.

The pretend business card features public domain images by openclipart.com and the phone is a 15-year-old radio shack model.
this fictionette needs a check-up and also some quiet time
Fri 2015-03-06 23:42:09 (single post)

Please welcome the latest Friday Fictionette to the family, "Please To Confirm Your Appointment With BRIGHT SMILES!," an excerpt of which you may read here. It was a lot of fun to write. I should warn you, though, it ends on a cliff-hanger. I have several ideas for what happens next, any of which could supply the material for a full-length short story. Deciding between them, now, that's the trick.

Conlorado weekend continues; the whole gang's in town now and they're over at a friend's house playing games. I'm at home because after trips to the airport and the liquor store I was kind of tired, and I'm also rather enjoying the empty house. For a little while, the whole gang was over here in our tiny living room/dining room area, and I was hiding in the bedroom with a book. I like to hear a house full of happy people, but I get overwhelmed by the bustle and crowd very easily. Most of the afternoon they were playing a game of Paperback, which looks like a lot of fun--it even has a writer theme to it!--but I couldn't see my way to squeezing into the group who were already sitting shoulder-to-shoulder around the table. So I just listened in and enjoyed things vicariously.

Yes, in fact, I proudly and cheerfully accept the label "introvert." I suggest printing it in bold-face capitals, possibly ones constructed from bright flashing neon tubes. But not where I can see them, because argh, blinking lights.

We had some delightful surprises at the liquor store. Hazel's is a great place for delightful surprises, because they have everything. They had Abita's Grapefruit Harvest IPA, which I didn't know ever made it out of Louisiana. It's one of the few IPAs I will willingly drink. They also had in their soft drink section four different handmade flavors from the Rocky Mountain Soda Company. We brought home the "Evergreen Elderberry" and the "Breckenridge Blackberry."

"We brought you local sodas!" John crowed to our friend who'd asked for interesting caffeine-free soft drinks. "It's the Boulder Way!"

And now I had better hurry up and do my PT before I go to bed--

About that. Alas, the therapist did not clear me to skate yesterday. I came in complaining of cripplingly tight calf-muscles and stabbing pains in the quads of the affected leg. ("I have this terrible pain in the diodes down my left side...") He determined these were normal reactions from the muscles surrounding an injured ligament as regular work is once more required from them and they're grumpy about it. So I have another week of strengthening things up, plus daily foam roller sessions on quads, calves, and IT bands to work the kinks out.

Thus, Foam Roller Hell, here I come!

you still get the day AFTER tomorrow
Mon 2015-02-02 23:20:25 (single post)

Despite appearances, I am not dead. Thursday I got home dead tired, Friday I may have wished I was dead, but I did not in fact die. Hello!

The thing about Friday was this: I woke up with two or three headaches going on, all at once. They tag-teamed me all day long, laughing derisively at every dose of ibuprofen. I spent the day trying to stay unconscious and reading whenever I couldn't. John helped me out with the loan of a heating pad and also with the most marvelous massage, both of which helped mightily to loosen up the muscles of my back, shoulder, and neck. But it wasn't until eleven o' clock at night that I woke up from another nap to discover myself pain-free. And at eleven o'clock at night, what do you do with your sudden sense of well-being?

Stay up until three aye em, what else?

I've never had much use for the advice to "live each day as though it were your last." If I knew I was on my last day, I wouldn't just "type a little faster"; I'd resign myself to leaving projects left unfinished, because who needs the stress of FINISH ALL THE THINGS on their last day on Earth? No, I'd spend the day saying goodbye to my loved ones, putting my affairs in order, and having as much fun as I could in what little time remained. (Robin McKinley got this one absolutely right in Sunshine.)

But you know what saying I could really get behind? "Work each day as though you were going to be too sick to work tomorrow." That's how I wish I'd worked Thursday.

Thankfully, Friday was a fifth Friday, so no Friday Fictionette release was planned. (Friday Fictionettes are not weekly occurrences. They happen every first-through-fourth Friday.) And I was feeling a lot better Saturday, so I had no trouble releasing January's Fictionette Freebie to the unsubscribed masses. You can download it by following that link and clicking on the Adobe PDF icon that you see just beneath the cover photo. (Patreon makes that slightly unintuitive). You can figure out from there whether you like that sort of thing enough to subscribe.

What else? I could whine about my knee some more and about how exhausting PT is and how I wish I could have skated in the first team practice of the season Sunday, but who really wants to hear that? I don't, and I've been listening to myself whine for three weeks now. So how about I quit while I'm ahead?

Less whining tomorrow. More writing. Until then--!

that nasty habit of unnecessary limping
Wed 2015-01-28 23:30:23 (single post)
  • 4,820 wds. long

All right, it wasn't a full five hours today, but all the tasks got done. The next brick in the story-wall got mortared into place, exactly as I said it would. And I suppose I could stay up and put in some more time--but I am freakin' done with this up-til-four-aye-emm business. Especially considering I didn't sleep well between then and when I got up at ten thirty this morning. I'm exhausted, y'all. Time to shift my work days back to diurnal standard time.

I'm actually quite pleased. Getting to all my usual writing tasks, and my usual Wednesday tasks, and my unusual Wednesday-the-28th tasks (well, one task and one social outing), is kind of a feat. Go me.

Speaking of which: My first physical therapy appointment went well. For one thing, I have been commanded to stop limping, dammit. It's the two weeks of hobbling around and not using the knee's full range of motion that's got things all tight and grumpy around the patella. So I don't have to be quite so protective of the joint. I'm not to run, jump, or make lateral movements ("cuts"), but I've been encouraged, nay, urged to walk normally. And I've been reassured that it's perfectly safe to straighten out the leg, and have indeed been assigned to do so in the context of several exercises. The knee brace has been downgraded from "as much as possible" to "only for extra protection in uncontrolled environments"--crowds, walking on icy sidewalks, anywhere where I might unexpectedly slip or stumble.

I'm to apply compression so as to help the fluid work its way out of the joint. To that end, I'm wearing one of my 187 Killer Pads gaskets--the neoprene sleeves I wear under my knee pads when I skate--until I've got time to pick up an Ace bandage. It feels weirdly comforting to be wearing a piece of roller derby gear during my enforced off-skates recovery.

I've got loads of PT homework. Going off what I remember of each exercise's hold time, repetitions and sets, I estimate that I've been assigned somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour of exercise every day. I'll start on it tomorrow. Today was already full up. Plus the physical therapist worked my knee a good deal already. I'm exhausted. It's amazing how tired a body can get just lying down and being worked on; see also dental visits and MRI appointments.

Back to the writing for a moment. I've got further thoughts on Anti-BIC Week, flavors of writing advice, and possibilities for blending work with play, but, again, I'm exhausted. I'm doing all the item's on today's list (except, alas, for the one about five hours of writing), but at this point I'm taking as little time on each as possible.

So it's only a brief(ish) status report today. I'll make up for it tomorrow with a long-ass post full of philosophizing and woo. Whether that's a warning or a promise is up to you.

Today I learned how to use the GIMP's Fog filter. Also, click to view original empty office photo (license: CC BY-SA 2.0)
this fictionette is not safe for work. no, I mean dangerous
Fri 2015-01-23 23:12:55 (single post)

It's Friday, so I have done my duty. Again, it is ridiculously late in the day. It almost isn't Friday at all. But the Fictionette is up, and you can see its stats at left and its cover image at right. Excerpt is here, downloadable PDF available to Patrons pledging $1/month is over here. It's horror again, but more of a lighthearted piece of horror than last week's Fictionette. Of course horror can be lighthearted. Think Good Omens and that gut-churning scene with the telemarketers. Well, I was thinking about it. It probably shows.

Yesterday I expressed a hope that my energy level would continue at yesterday's highly productive rate; it did not. Not that I was entirely unproductive, mind you. John and I met the realtor at a nearby property viewing--not because we seriously thought we might jump on something now, but to give the realtor more of an idea of what we liked and what we didn't and what we'd settle for and what were dealbreakers. It was pleasantly close to our current neighborhood, it was huge, it came with a lower H.O.A. fee that neveretheless covered more features, and it had a wood fireplace. These are pluses. On the minus side, it was expensive (as you might imagine, given the size), it was oriented for east/west light rather than north/south, and it had a rather claustrophobic if well furnished kitchen.

Then we went to McGuckin for the polyurethane I need to put a sealant coat on the newly stained kitchen cabinets and panels. Then I went downtown to pick up the remainder of our MMLocal share. Then we came home and I put the final coat of paint on one of the office closet door bifolds.

So I guess it's OK that I fell over for a three-hour nap at that point.

I may have mentioned that I've purchased a destuckification product from The Fluent Self recently? Right. Well, the physical item has yet to come in the mail - it sounds like Havi had post office bureaucracy nightmares which I wouldn't wish on anyone - but I have received the ebook component. The ebook is her Book of Rally Keys (BORK) and I spent about an hour or two reading it last night when I should have gone to sleep already. It is getting into my brain in healthy ways.

One of the healthy ideas that BORK has put in my brain is the idea that naps aren't something to be ashamed of. They can be expressions of terrified avoidance, or they can be expressions of the need for replenishment; in either case, they're entirely natural and they indicate a need. I expect after yesterday and this afternoon my need was very great. So I'm practicing being gentle with myself and accepting my need to nap.

There was another BORK/Fluent Self idea I wanted to mention, but it escapes me at the moment. So I'll let it run free for now, trusting that it will come home again and let me turn it into a blog post sometime soon.

Meanwhile, I have just finished eating the entire jar of Pears With Rosemary, and, now that we're all going to bed and will therefore be unlikely to absentmindedly lean against various kitchen surfaces, I am going to paint polyurethane on various kitchen surfaces.

Not pictured here: The hinges, because they are filthy.
when cliched platitudes are startlingly spot on
Thu 2015-01-22 23:14:20 (single post)
  • 5,653 wds. long

I'm happy to report that I met today's small goal. I made a copy of the scene-to-be-rearranged, and I moved paragraphs around like Lego. Or, actually, more like wooden blocks; the bits aren't "snapped" together like Lego are. They're like a stack of bricks with no mortar. But that's OK. That stack of bricks was what I wanted to accomplish today.

Tomorrow's small goal is as follows: Take that first brick in the stack and turn it into a plausible story opening.

Meanwhile, today saw an upswing in the rate of home improvement projects. I realized all at once this morning that there's no reason not to run the various projects on parallel tracks. While waiting for stain or polycrylic to dry, why not get to work painting the office closet doors or re-staining and finishing the weathered kitchen cabinets?

Why not, indeed. The usual "why not" is an extremely limited energy budget. If I can manage to do one coat of stain on a closet door in a day that contains writing, roller derby, and volunteer reading, not to mention household chores and trips to the grocery, I'm doing good.

Then it occurred to me: I can't skate roller derby for at least a month, and my first physical therapy appointment isn't for a week. My schedule is miraculously clear right now. And for all I complain about the stairs, I'm reasonably able-bodied for an injured athlete. I can move around unassisted. I can sit, stand, kneel, or sit on the floor. I can paint and stain and sand and whatever. And now I have the time to do it in.

It's not just a platitude. This injury really was the Universe's way of telling me to slow down. The silver lining, it has been spotted.

The other thing holding me back was a mental block. I kept looking at the kitchen and all I could see was a fractally complex job involving bits and detail and impossibility. But today I gave it a shot. I removed one of the under-sink cabinet doors, the one with the worst staining and the most deteriorated finish, and I washed it off, and I sanded it some, and--with several prayers to any Gods that might be listening--applied Minwax wood stain.

This was nerve-wracking. For one thing, I knew that I hadn't removed all of the surviving finishing coat from the wood. I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to try. That level of comprehensive detail work would put the project way outside my ability, patience, and time frame. And if you don't get rid of all the previous paint and stain and finish, maybe the new stain doesn't sink in so good. Still, I reasoned that any place where finishing coat survived probably didn't need new stain anyway.

Secondly, matching stain colors is an iffy process. Even having brought one of the cabinet doors that was in like-new condition to the store with us, we weren't very confident that the tin of Minwax "Lt Pine" we'd chosen was going to be the right stain.

Turns out we'd chosen just the right stain. How do you know you've chosen the right stain? When you brush it on, you think, "Is there any color in this liquid, or did I get scammed into buying a tin of water?" Seriously, it just looked like I'd gotten the cabinet door wet.

In my excitement at how easy this turned out to be, I did the second under-sink cabinet door and the entire panel surrounding them. Pretty much the whole area bounded by the dishwasher, the sink, and the oven. It's the most important area, being fairly central, thus right where your eye first falls upon entering the kitchen.

The realtor came to visit today to help us get back on track for a mid-February listing. He looked at the cabinet work and pronounced it likely to "pop." That's realtor speak for "will give a potential buyer a great impression." He said that the refurbished and newly stained/finished living room closet doors also "pop." I'm pleased to hear it.

Between today's progress on the living room closet doors, the kitchen cabinets, and the office closet doors--not to mention today's work on the short story revision--I'm feeling pretty darn accomplished tonight. I just hope I can keep up this level of accomplishment for the next couple of weeks, is all.

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