Happenings

As I write this I’m sitting at the desk we set up in our bedroom recently. My mom brought me all of my childhood furniture (which was her childhood furniture), and since it is much better quality than what Big Country and I had, we’ve switched out all of our clothes and we’re using the dresser (yes, we’re sharing a dresser… is that weird?) instead of the two smaller dressers we had before. We went through our clothes again last week and yet again we’ve got four trash bags full of clothes to donate. We’re really on a live simply and with less stuff kick. We’ve gone through our bedroom and the guest bedroom closet (which was full to bursting with stuff), and I am greatly enjoying being this pared down in those spaces.

We would have gotten further with the paring down except we’ve all three been absolutely slain by a stomach virus this past week. Peanut picked it up at daycare (his first time throwing up ever, which apparently is a very traumatizing experience, poor kid), I followed suit, and now poor husband has it. I haven’t felt that sick in years and I’m glad it’s over. I was completely useless yesterday, sleeping for most of it and barely moving from the bed/couch. We’ve all been so sick we didn’t even open the brewery today because it just wasn’t worth it. But enough about being horribly ill.

It’s a little strange being surrounded by my childhood furniture again, like going back in time in a way, but comforting too. I’m planning to sand it down and re-stain it at some point in the future because I don’t like the color of the stain and never really have, and I’ll update the pulls. They’re very old-fashioned and show their age. But I’ll probably hang on to them because who knows, they might come back in vogue before we know it. I’ll take pictures of the furniture soon and post the “before” photos. I am going to stain the furniture, not paint it, because I think some furniture just shouldn’t be painted, and because this furniture will in a few years become Peanut’s, once he’s big enough to need a dresser, desk, and twin bed. I suppose Big Country and I will need to get an actual nice dresser for ourselves at that point.

It’s nice to have the desk because it’s going to be my special writing space. If I’m going to be a writer, I need to actually write every now and then, wouldn’t you say? The only way those novels in progress are going to get finished is if I set aside time nearly every day to just write! How did Ernest Hemingway put it? Writing isn’t very hard, one just has to sit down at the typewriter and bleed… or something like that.

Here’s a picture of the view from my writing desk (houses below the trees edited out):

TeakettleNot a bad view at all! It’s especially beautiful with the sunset light like in this photo.

CottonwoodsThe past week we’ve been having a cotton snow storm every day, with little cotton snowdrifts gathering on the edges of the lawn, caused by the large old cottonwoods surrounding our house. It’s actually been a comfort, staring out the window at the trees and watching the cotton drift lazily by, as I’ve drifted in and out of sickness stupor.

HoneysuckleI’ll leave you with a picture of a honeysuckle bloom that’s coming along quite nicely in the front yard. Look for a couple more posts this week about garden progress and hops!

 

 

 

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Winter time

For me, winter is about reflection on the past year, letter writing, curling up with a good book and some hot chocolate, and projects. Let’s start with the last first and move backward from there. (Trying to make up for my lack of posts here with a long one with lots of photos, folks!)

I taught myself to crochet in October and have been pretty much a crochet fiend since then. I made almost all of the Christmas presents I gave this year, and while that did add to my stress load a bit as the holiday approached (pretty much spent all free time crocheting), I’m glad I did it. Homemade gifts are far more appreciated than store-bought ones. Of course I forgot to take pictures of all the different lovelies I created because I was more concerned with getting them done than snapping photos. Wish I’d been more diligent about my picture taking but well, next time. I made crochet snowflakes (both with crochet thread, which is quite time-consuming, and with worsted weight yarn) for my grandmothers, ear warmers for my female cousins and sister (they all matched, but were different colors: blue, orange, 2 purple, pink), and cowls/scarves for my mom (wave stitch in a delightful autumn red), a friend (double crochet fans), another friend and my step-mom (broomstick lace in china blue). Here are photos of a couple of them:

Crochet thread snowflake

I have a whole new appreciation for these crochet thread snowflakes. They take forever! I think each of the two I made took nearly three hours.

Crochet yarn star

These yarn snowflakes on the other hand I can whip up in about 15 minutes.

Scarf for Elise

Broomstick lace cowl

Matching headbands for cousinsThese are my two of my cousins and my sister (in the middle) with their matching ear warmers. Here’s where I found the pattern.

Currently I am working on a hat for a friend who is expecting a daughter in February, two sweaters for my son (one knitted, one crocheted), and finishing a star garland that is holiday festive. I plan to have the latter finished by tonight or tomorrow afternoon before the New Year’s Eve party my husband and I are throwing. We’re excited for the party and for the fact that we’re going to celebrate the new year at about 7 p.m. so that all of our friends (the majority of whom have babies/kiddos) can go home and go to bed. When you’ve got a little boy who wakes up between 5 and 6 a.m. every day, watching the ball drop at midnight (oh and we don’t even have a TV to do that, whoops) is pretty unimportant compared to 8 hours of sleep.

I love these little projects. I’m a stay-at-home and craft all day sort of person, but I only allow myself to do that sort of thing in the winter months because it’s just too nice where I live in the summer to stay inside and craft. Summer is for gardening and hiking.

I’ll post more about my star garland soon. I’m going to post something of a tutorial for it. I found the tutorial elsewhere, but it’s in Australian crochet terms, which are a bit different than American, and I’ve streamlined/made less confusing some of the steps. I post a link to the original, of course, but I’ll update the tutorial. It’s a quick and easy garland that can really add some festive this time of year.

Stars garland beginnings

So on to reading and hot chocolate. Where we live, it snows a lot during the winter (and is currently), so we spend most of our time inside (though we love to ski, snowmobile, and snowshoe too!). And since it’s dark so much here in the northern U.S. (sun sets by about 5 p.m. and doesn’t come back up ’til 8 a.m. or so) in the winter, there isn’t much to do in the evening hours but craft and read. Here’s a photo from our living room (oh right, it’s been so long since I posted I forgot to tell you all we moved to town!)

Snowy view

My reading has changed a lot since my son was born. Used to be that I could dash through two or so novels a week. Now if I finish a novel in a month, I’ve clearly had a lot of time to read! I’m re-reading Little Women right now, which is one of my favorite books (and movie! – the one with Winona Ryder) for sentimental reasons. I love that my copy of the book has an inscription from my aunt, who gave me the book a decade ago.

Little Women inscription

The inscription reads: “Christmas 2002, To our dear Kelley, It has been such a pleasure and delight to watch you grow up into such a fine young woman. We hope you will enjoy these books just as I did as a young girl and pass them onto your own one day. We wish you all the best, Kelley, and love you very much. Auntlee, Uncle Chris, Kylee & Hali.

I have ever so many other books on my reading list, and am supremely grateful for the Amazon gift card I received for Christmas for buying books! I try to use the local library as much as possible, but with my reading time so brief every day I often have to return the books I’ve checked out before I’ve finished them (or sometimes even cracked the cover). And I also try to patronize our local book stores (we don’t have a box chain bookstore here anymore… which is so completely awesome) too, but you can’t argue with gift cards! I need to be better about updating my “What I’m Reading” tab on this blog… but I don’t get much reading in these days so that’s why it doesn’t change much! I also have subscriptions to the New Yorker magazine and High Country News magazine, so I try to get those read too.

Rounding the corner to writing letters: I love to write letters (the snail mail variety) and trade frequent letters with a friend who lives in the mountains in Colorado. We’ve been writing each other letters since college. I have a shoebox stuffed full of letters from her and need to catalogue them in a binder one of these days. I also try to write semi-frequent letters to my grandmother, and to several other friends who I know appreciate that sort of thing. I just picked up a new pen for my letter writing and can’t wait to bust it out (yes I have to have a specific pen for letter writing or it’s just not as enjoyable). I also have scads of thank-you notes to write for Christmas presents. I was raised that one MUST write thank-you notes for Christmas and birthday presents and while I loathed writing thank-you notes for years, now I’m appreciative of the fact my mother made me write them. It’s a little gesture that means a lot. Just like a letter.

Finally, winter is a time of reflection. It’s for thinking about the year gone by (and holy moly was this an epic year), and thinking of the year to come. It’s for sitting in living rooms watching the snow fall. It’s for visiting friends and talking about what they’re reflecting upon to. Few things are closer to heaven for me than sitting with good friends engaged in good conversation in front of a fireplace or wood stove while the snow falls without. Seriously blissful.

I have two New Year’s resolutions this year. And I’m not a resolutions sort of person, but this year it just feels right.

1. Do yoga 2-3 times a week. There’s a yoga studio/wellness center in my town that has yoga classes three times a week for $7 a class. I can’t wait to start on Wednesday. For me, yoga is good, low-impact exercise. And I need flexibility and centeredness back in my life.

2. Write. Every. Day. EVERY DAY. I have three novels in the works (one fiction, one historical fiction, one gothic children’s fiction) and they’re never going to get done if I don’t work on them diligently. So my goal is 500 words (one page in Word) every day. I’ve already started this resolution and today is day three of success.

So there, I did it. Snuck a post in this December. Whew. It was getting down to the wire there, folks.

Happy New Year! I have a feeling 2013 is going to be pretty rad.

Researchin’

Well, I obviously haven’t been putting a lot of time into updating this blog lately, now have I? It’s going to happen soon, though, I promise. Encountered a road block earlier this week when I spilled ice tea all over my computer. Horror of horrors! After a very frantic phone call to a friend in California who’s a computer whiz, I removed the battery, turned the computer upside down and pointed two fans at it on high for 8 hours. Followed that with submerging the computer in a bag of rice to draw out the moisture. Three days later, hallelujah, the computer lives!

In the meantime, computer-less (which is strangely like losing a limb), I’ve finally had the motivation (read: nothing to do without the computer) to get my hind end over to the town archives (which is really, really cool) to start doing research for a historical fiction novel idea that’s been taking up space in my cranium for a while. Not going to divulge the secrets of the novel here on the blog, but I’ll let you know that I know quite a lot about prostitution in the early American West now!

I have scads more research to do (which is a bit overwhelming), but I am making some definite headway, tackling the information subject by subject. Historical fiction is HARD, folks. A writer can take some liberties, but not too many. It’s important to get all the little details right, down to the way interiors of houses looked during the selected time period, to what people wore, to how people spoke. But on the other hand, there’s something really cool about taking history and making it into something new. I’ve got tons of ideas buzzing around in my head now that were inspired by true events that I’ve begun to learn about.

The hardest part, of course, is writing. Getting those ideas to translate into words and sentences and paragraphs that sound coherent. And writing a lot of those words and sentences and paragraphs. Which is a stretch for a journalist who is used to writing stories in 30 inches or less! But I have lots of free time these days and I’m itching to be productive. Hopefully all this hard work pays off!

In other news, summer has arrived in earnest in southwestern Montana. It’s been pretty hot here the past week (mid-80s, which yes, is freakin’ hot by my definition). And so lilac season has ended (sadness). But not without some photos:

Remember to stop and smell the lilacs!

You’ve got to hold me to it

OK, blog friends, are you ready for this? I’m participating in NaNoWriMo this year. That’s National Novel Writing Month. That means writing 50,000 words in 30 days, or 1667 words a day. Yikes! I already write for a living, so I’m crossing my fingers that I can pack another 1667 into each 24 hours.

So why am I telling you this? Well, the folks at NaNo recommend that writers tell everyone they know that they’re participating in the novel writing so we’ll be shamed into finishing our novels. Can’t tell everybody we’re writing a novel and then not live up to that standard, you know!

There’s a lot of criticism of NaNoWriMo, and rightly so. Not everybody is a good writer. Some people are just really good at churning out a whole lot of garbage (well, OK, I was an English major). What I hope to gain from NaNoWriMo is a serious kick in the pants. I have an idea for a novel that I think is pretty good, yet I keep backing away from it. “Oh, I don’t have enough time,” and “I’m a journalist. Anything longer than 30 inches is asking quite a lot,” and “It’s just going to be drivel anyway, so why try?” have been holding me back long enough.

Here’s what my novel is going to be about: A young journalist returns to his hometown of Two Ocean in northwestern Montana for a job at the local newspaper, the Two Ocean Times. He discovers a new side of his town, and learns that while a place like Two Ocean is hard to leave, it’s even harder to stay.

So, I expect that the vast majority of what I write will indeed be drivel, but I’ll have a solid start and clean up and edit from there.

OK, here’s the part where you all promise not to laugh at me in the middle of November when I’m insufferably whiny. As of right now, though, I’m insanely excited!