Retreat

Every five years or so, the people of my spiritual path gather together in southern Pennsylvania for a long weekend of reflection, worship, fellowship, and meetings. Between these major retreats, there is a weekend for the leaders within the tradition; a sort of leadership conference where decision-making happens, policy is discussed, and techniques are shared.

This past weekend, HRH and I attended one of the latter retreats. It was the first event I’d been able to attend in seven or eight years, thanks to a variety of instances that prevented me from getting to the others (financial crisis the day before I was to leave, health crises associated with scheduled childcare so I stayed with the kids while HRH went alone) so this weekend fed my soul in a very particular way. I saw people I hadn’t seen in person for almost a decade. I participated in seminars and worship services that I didn’t lead — a rarity for me. Not having to facilitate anyone else’s experience allowed me to actually look to my own, a luxury I am rarely allowed.

The weather was stifling, and the ten-hour drive down and back was not fun. Travel steals a lot of the energy I need to function on a daily basis (thanks so much, fibro), as does dealing with heat and humidity. The metal folding chairs were murder on my back. But I am so very grateful that the universe made sure I could go this time. What I got out of it was immensely valuable to me. I reconnected with other people who practice our tradition. I reconnected with the source of our path. I did some soul searching, and had a couple of revelations that I need to meditate on some more.

We stayed at an absolutely wonderful B&B in Harrisburg, the City House, and after the day’s activities we returned there and walked to pubs or bistros for light evening meals. Our last dinner was at a locally famous steakhouse with nine other conference attendees, and it was good to be with them.

Grandma came to stay with the kids, and they had a fabulous time with her and their grandfather, who came over during the days as well. We are very grateful to them. I missed the kids, but a couple of days without them went a long way to recharging my parenting batteries, too.

Owlet: 59 Months!

Crazy full-time work project happened, other writing died. Sigh. This week I want to go back and at least put together a picture post or two for April and May.

This morning I was buckling Owlet into her car seat, and she said, “Oh no, Mummy, I forgot to make my bed! I’m sorry. I’ll do it as soon as I get home, I promise.” I blinked, and said, “Okay, thanks, honey,” wondering why it had come up. She usually doesn’t remember to do it (or rather, someone else gets there first), but today, for some reason, she remembered an hour after she got up, after she had left the house. And then promised she’d do it later. I’ll be interested to see if she does remember.

I haven’t been noting down the amusing or interesting things she’s been doing. On one hand I gave myself permission to forget (I only have so much brain), but on the other… the idea with both kids was to keep track of the little things because it all changes so subtly over time.

She’s so much better in the pool and with water in general this summer. She got a pair of goggles along with some outgrown swimwear from the Preston-Leblancs, and she puts them on, holds her breath, and bends over to stick her face in the water. “Did you see me? Did I disappear?” she says breathlessly when she stands up again. She and Sparky play like otters in the tiny pool, making the most of the space they have. And she is okay with sprinklers this year, too, which is new!

Music class ended at the beginning of June. She hasn’t shown particular interest in anything she played, but it has taught her to be enthusiastic about any instrument she meets, reaching for with while exclaiming, “Can I try it?” Which is good, I guess. (Sparky is taking violin for two weeks this summer at camp, and he is showing us what he learns every day on our adult-sized viola at home. I may need to add a violin to the bash-about instruments on hand, because Owlet wants to do it too, and the viola is what she uses as a cello, so holding it on her shoulder is really not possible.) She’s determined to do ballet this fall, and she’ll be old enough for the 5+ age group, so that’s a go. And next summer she can go to Sparky’s day camp as well, albeit in the junior division.

She currently very into Mia & Me, which I am fine with because it isn’t a heavily licensed show, thank goodness. Speaking of licensing, she got her first Lego set this month and spent an hour and a half putting it together; Lego is now on her birthday list. (Here we go.)

She plays with Sparky more intricately all the time (he is sucking her into Pokemon, which is problematic only in that Pokemon asks the player to read a lot, and she’s not there yet), and it’s great to listen to them playing. They do get frustrated with each other when someone doesn’t follow the script inside someone else’s head, and there are times when I have to separate them. But in general? They’re great together, and I’m so thankful for that.

Everyone is still very into Hamilton, and the two of them can go through entire songs trading lines back and forth.

Big news this past month was going to the cinema for her first movie on the big screen! We saw Finding Dory, and it was a terrific experience. We taught her how to stay to the end of the credits in case there was a post-credit sequence and were rewarded. Then she turned to me and her face crumpled, and she said, “But it was special, and I don’t want it to be over!” I cuddled her and promised we could go see other movies because she was old enough now; she just cried and said, “But what if I don’t like them? I liked this movie!”

There will be other movies, and they will be as enjoyable. Promise.

And now we’re into a thirty-one day countdown to five years old. It doesn’t seem possible, does it?

Tour de Fleece 2016: Day 1!

They ride bikes, we spin yarn. It’s all wheels, right?

I wanted to have my wheel clear for the first day of the Tour, but yeah, that didn’t happen. I handed the manuscript of the book in Thursday evening, and Friday was a blur, really. I slept horribly and so I was having trouble staying awake in the afternoon. And then there was that concert thing Friday night, it being Canada Day and all. (It was excellent. Really great. And our replacement principal cellist asked if we’d be interested in a cello club, a monthly get-together for playing stuff. Um, yes? Sign me up. I love group classes and cello choirs.)

So Day 1 of the Tour had me plying the last 3/4 of my FatCatKnits BFL in the London Fog colourway in order to clear bobbins.

It went from this:



To this:

Before a wash to finish the yarn, it’s 466.5 yards, 20 wpi. I loved the experience and the feel of the finished yarn, but I’m not thrilled with the colour. The three-ply barberpoling from a randomly applied colourway… I’ve got a greenish pinkish greyish yarn. If I do this colourway again — and I probably will, because I loved the original braid and it was on my wish list for over three years — I’m going to either split it lengthwise so the plies match up, or spin end to end and then chain ply it.

Whatever. It will make a nice shawlette to tuck into the neck of my velveteen fall coats. I was hoping for socks, but I think it’s too soft. Even though I plied it super tight.

Still In Moderate Disbelief

One of Sparky’s friends came up to him the other day and said, “Hey, hasn’t your mum written books?”

To which Sparky said, “Yeah, I think she’s written two or three.” (Six, kid. Not counting the anthology. Please keep up. The shelf with all of them is right outside your bedroom door.)

So the kid searched, and came back with huge eyes. “Your mum is on Google! She’s everywhere!”

Nice thought, but no, I’m not. Not the way you make it sound, anyway. An author’s name will pull up links to their books being sold all over the place.

This fall, something totally different will come out with my name on it. While I’ve mainly worked in commercial publishing as writer, editor, and copyeditor, I’ve also worked in the video games industry a few times. Names in game credits are harder point at. But this fall, a project that intersects my two fields is launching.

Right now I’m just really tired, because of crazy deadlines and schedule. But each day when I open my Work folder of bookmarks and click on this particular link for research, I still get a little cooled-out shiver of Is this actually my life right now?

And that is good. As long as I’m still excited about what I’m doing, then I’m doing the right thing.

I’m looking forward to sharing it with the world this fall. It’s probably going to confuse the heck out of people who only know me from my titles about alternative spirituality. But I’m allowed to have different areas of interest, and to apply my professional skills to those different subjects. It’s part of what makes me an interesting person, right?

Sparky: Eleven Years Old!

We are into our second decade, people.

Eleven years ago, during a humid heatwave, we unexpectedly found ourselves with someone who wasn’t scheduled to arrive for another nine weeks. In those nine weeks, I had to correct the galleys of one book, deliver the first draft of another, unpack from the move, create a nursery, and perform in a rock concert. All that was rearranged, rescheduled, or cancelled (for me, anyway): the galleys were corrected in the hospital (yeah, I’m hardcore that way; HRH FedExed them to the publisher for me as soon as they were done), t! took my place onstage with Random Colour (I dictated basslines to him over the phone from my hospital bed), the delivery deadline for the first draft of the other book was moved (bless my editor at the time!), the nursery was hastily finished while Sparky was in the neonatal unit, and unpacking happened when it happened.

One…

Two…

Three…

Four…

Five…

Six…

Seven…

Eight…

Nine…

Ten…

ELEVEN!

Eleven years ago he was born nine weeks early, and we’ve been trying to keep up with him ever since.

What is he into these days? Robotics, reading, Pokemon (some things don’t change), Portal, Animal Crossing

Lego is still huge, but instead of kits, he uses it to build original stuff from movies or games. He’s crazy good at looking at a piece and using it for something imaginative that it wasn’t designed for. He reads incessantly (no change there) but it’s even more fun to discuss storylines with him, or hand him a book I love and have him come back to enthuse about it. He loves to help people with video games, so my investment in my own secondhand 3DS and both a Pokemon and Animal Crossing game gives us even more stuff to share and talk about. (Did we both preorder a copy of Pokemon Sun and Moon? Yes, yes we did. He is so excited about doing this together.)

Sparky’s still really enjoying his weekly art classes, especially sculpture; I think he’s done two and a half years of it now. School is going well. He loves it, which is what’s most important for me. Decent grades are a bonus, but I’d rather lower grades and loving it than higher grades and being miserable. He’s excited to learn new things. He really has trouble thinking through the several steps required in complicated math problems, for which he now gets extra help at school through the resources program. (And just let me say that I wish they’d spend more time establishing a firm foundation in the basics rather than pushing ahead into stuff that I didn’t address till two grades later.) He started learning how to play the flute in music this year! And he registered to learn violin and try drums again this summer at camp.

And speaking of learning new things, he (finally) learned how to ride a bike this spring!

He’s in size 2 or 2.5 shoes, large youth shirts, and trousers are a shot in the dark because if it’s long enough, the waist is too big. (If we can find a tall/slim combo, he’s fine.) And after ten years, his hair is stubbornly trying to part on the other side. We’ve given in.

He’s still working on his self-confidence and allowing himself to feel fear of making mistakes and forging ahead anyway. That perfectionist streak undermines him a lot. We were so very proud of him for trying rock-climbing with a friend, even though he froze up halfway through and needed to leave to have some alone time.

He’s turning into a great person. He’s always been great, but the older he gets, the more I recognise the person he’s becoming is grounded, kooky, imaginative, inquisitive, supportive, and helpful. We’ve come pretty far in teaching him how to divert negative self-talk this year, which has been a rough ride. Do we still have to work to do on self-discipline, patience, self-esteem? Sure. But we all have to keep working on that; we’re all works in progress.

Kindergarten Prep

Today was our school’s Teddy Bear Picnic, the orientation session for soon-to-be kindergartners and their parents! Owlet is super excited; she was already excited going in, but when I picked her up from the kindergarten room afterward, she was even more excited, because: “Mummy, they have a dollhouse! And Lego! And we did ART!”

The one thing she’s not thrilled about is learning French. “I already KNOW language,” she said. You can’t really argue with that logic. Sparky had similar resistance, so I know it will all turn out fine. In fact, Sparky gave her a pep talk this morning about how awesome it is to learn a second language — except he did it in French. It made sense to him to do it that way, and it was a terrific gesture, but it was mostly lost on Owlet, who was annoyed that he wasn’t speaking to her in “language.” Although she has independently asked how to say certain things in French the past few days — hello, goodbye, my name is — so there is hope.

Digging Out

Look at that, it’s been two months since I posted an update on, well, anything. (ED: I have since noticed there was a draft of an April 12 post sitting in the drafts folder for over a month, so that’s been posted.) I promised myself I was going to at least post one round-up a week, and yeah, that’s really not happening. There’s a reason.

Remember back in late 2004/early 2005, when I was contracted to write my first two books, and the deadline for each was three months? Good times. (No, actually, they weren’t. For the first book, I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, falling asleep at my computer, and I don’t remember much of that time because everything was either writing or sleeping. And for the second book, I corrected the page proofs in the hospital after he was born, then sent HRH to a FedEx outlet to courier them back. It certainly wasn’t boring.)

ANYWAY. I’ve done it again. Or rather, I’m doing it again. I love this project fiercely. I’m working with a company I’ve worked with a handful of times before, with a team who is phenomenal, on an intellectual property I enjoy. But wow, yes, again with the really super crazy deadline. I’m writing a book in about two and a half months. The publication schedule is insane — the target publication slot is November — and the IP team is already swamped with other projects. I have no idea how they do what they do without falling over dead. They’re superheroes.

My job is to read and absorb a truly terrifying amount of existing material, make sense of it, pull out the most important bits, and write about them. And history — so much history. I am not shy about saying that I’m really good at what I do. However, I do have an absorption threshold, and when I hit it, I can’t sort through all the information I have to condense and present it in an easily digestible manner. It’s like decision paralysis on several levels at once. And because I’m not fully fluent in the IP, having jumped on board only recently, I can’t easily pull out what’s actually important. Things that seem important to me aren’t necessary critical in the overall scheme of things; some stuff that doesn’t jump out at me is actually super important.

I’m learning. And it’s why the IP team reviews my stuff two chapters at a time to say, “Yes, no, we need to tweak this, drop this part, this bit needs a lot more exploration.”

So, that’s why I haven’t been around so much. All available writing energy is being used up elsewhere. The last part of the first draft is being handed in around June 1, so I may have more time then? But rewrites. So probably not.