Friday, April 12, 2019

Blow up the TV (yay John Denver)

Stacy Stimpson at the senior kegger 1977
Debbie Hedrick, Monty Ostrum & Jerry Jenks
in background.
Bottom picture is Scott Whitman,
same time, same kegger.
Here are some fun photos from back in the day. Remember, this is before digital cameras, so I had a little Instamatic & spent all my money on film & developing. The senior kegger was a good time.

I have since continued to take pictures, but lately I've been focusing on writing. Except...I found I didn't schedule in time for deep focus, no distractions. It was too easy to check email or facebook, play online poker, watch TV. I don't have any streaming services, but ION television can suck you in with an endless stream of reruns.

So, I decided on No Screens Saturday. I check the email & wish happy birthday on facebook, but then I put the phone over on its charger stand behind a coaster for Boneyard Beers, which has a skull & crossbones on it. I set the TV remote upside down next to the tablet, which warns me away from the poker. Besides that, I have the TV under cover of its cozy. No screens until 10 pm. Sunday, I'll do the same morning routine, but I'll lift the screen moratorium at 7 pm, when 60 Minutes comes on.

I can read or walk or do housework or writing or art. No grocery shopping or other lengthy errands. This is a brand new technique, just started last weekend, so tomorrow is only the second No Screens Saturday. How did I do? Well, Saturday was less productive than I had hoped. (I cleared off the clothes tree & did other tasky things. Plus a friend & I used prompts to write poetry & short short stories together, which I then entered into the computer.) But Sunday I got some good revision done on a novel that's been gathering dust & worked on a short story.

So, I'm looking forward to another productive weekend.

Blog alternative:
328. Carve out a bit of screen free time to work on projects dear to your heart.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Holm & Klages Rock the Boat--& the World

Here's a little colored-pencil on a placemat picture.
A self portrait on a foundation of House-In-Order.

I've recently read many brilliant words (& a bunch of so-so words) from a variety of authors, courtesy of the fact that I am reading a short story, an essay, & a poem every day after I do my morning pages. (Part of the Bradbury Challenge.) Okay, so sometimes I cheat on the essays & read part of a nonfiction book. I did that with Walden, by my beloved Henry David Thoreau, breaking it into bite-sized chunks. & I always read more than one poem a day...

I have quotes from two sources to share today.

First from Bill Holm, from the book Coming Home Crazy: an Alphabet of China Essays. Bill Holm was a good friend of my good friend, John Calvin Rezmerski, aka Rez. (R.I.P.) Rez may even have given me this copy of the book. Here is the quote that spoke to me this morning: "Beware the single idea. There is a loaded gun in it, anywhere on earth, pointed directly at your head." In context, he was talking about the translation of a collection of British literature, slashed & burned & reinterpreted & annotated to support the political stance of a particular time in China. But anything will do, if it is the sole guiding force that attempts to force all there is into its own image.

The second is from another good friend, Ellen Klages, from the title story of her collection Portable Childhoods. I reread the book a few months ago & was enchanted anew. But one paragraph stopped me in my tracks, a mother thinking of her beloved child & also of the child she used to be & of the never ending dance of parenting, of life. "Baggage left unattended will be confiscated. Oh, if only that were true."

Wow. I say again, Wow. It isn't automatically confiscated & checked for bombs or dangerous drugs. No, we get the chance, over & over, to see the baggage we've been carrying around, intentionally or not, & unpack it & sort through it &--if we're wise & strong--to actually discard parts of it. Then maybe we can have room for things that actually enhance our lives & the lives of those we love.

Blog alternative:
327. Look through your "baggage" & see if there's something you can get rid of. Perhaps the single idea?

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A castle in the sky--or at least a chair

A long time ago in a galaxy--oops, state--far away, I bought a Sky Chair. We hooked it to a ceiling joist in the Winter House & I was very happy. Until the drop ceiling...

Ever since then, I've carried the Sky Chair with me wherever I went, with never a good place to hang it. Minnesota to North Carolina & back to Minnesota & a stint in Montana & a couple different places in Oregon. No place for a Sky Chair. Sob. So, I bought a C-stand to hold it & I can happily sit in my living room & look out the sliding glass door at my nice view of bamboo & trees & mountains & sky. The above picture shows my feet on the ottoman as I relax & write or read.

It's a good productivity tool as well, since the computer lap desk fits very nicely. I've already written a cool little flash fiction piece. 750 words that just jumped out of my fingers. Whee!

So now I've got the hammock stand outside & the Sky Chair inside. I am well suspended.

Blog alternative:
326. Are you carrying something around with you that can't use right now? Figure out if there's a way. & if there isn't, consider releasing it to someone who can use it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

In the way, just like I don't like it, which is a good thing...

So I had this paper project going, after I'd ripped dozens of old notebooks (some from high school) to recycle the angsty bits & the to-do lists & save stories & poems & ideas. I was putting them in sheet protectors & binders. But then I was going to have the poetry group at my house & things needed to be made more presentable. I did it. I made it way too presentable. The paper project stalled. Big time.

I decided I needed to get down & dirty. I moved the detritus to a way less convenient location, so I would have incentive to get it cleaned up. So far, so good. I've recycled a whole bunch of paper & put some few pieces in sheet protectors. I even found an unsent letter to a friend from the spring of 1977. It's in an envelope & ready to hit the post office tomorrow. Yay me. The theory of having the task to be easy to get at & annoying if I didn't get at it has been working well.

Blog alternative:
325. Pick a stalled project. Move it so it's enough in the way that you are almost certain to act on it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Pocket handkerchief not required

A pewter goblet, spilling adventure
out into the universe.
In case you're feeling the urge to run off with a bunch of dwarves & no pocket handkerchief--I might have a partial explanation. Yes, spring could be involved, or the hope that the idea of spring is not mythical, that it will in fact occur this year, preferably before the fourth of July...

I had a little empty alcove on top of my cabinet & had the hankering to put a new container up there. What better than a pewter goblet filled with adventure!

So, if you've got a little extra adventure spilling into your soul, or into your life, here's a possible explanation. I toast to the adventurer in all of us.

Blog alternative:
324. Come up with a good adventure. It needn't be something you'll actually do today, or in the near future, or, even, ever, but something that gets your soul stirring. Look at books that inspired you when you were younger, current movies, an old daydream. Who knows, you might even want to take a little action step...or leap off a cliff into--what?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Or, you can have what's behind the curtain...

Here are a couple other little productivity tricks I use. I couldn't take a true picture of the first one, since the little sticky note heart with NOT YET on it goes on the face of the very thing that takes the pictures. (A phone has a hard time taking its own selfie...) So I stuck the note on my charger stand as a stand in. When your phone is telling you not to mess with it, you don't check your email, your texts, your facebook. Works like a charm, if your charm is made out of a pink heart-shaped sticky note. Just started, but it is already a winner.

The other technique is one I've used for a long time: the TV cozy! This one is a cool wrap-around skirt. If you see me at a con sometime, you might be taken aback & ask why I'm wearing my TV cozy. I have found that if you have to unwrap something to use it, you think about it before you act. Do I really want to watch TV right now? Might I do something else? The answers are frequently NO & YES, in that order.

Blog alternative:
323. Put a cozy on something that gets a little more of your attention than you really want to give it.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

And now, during the word from our sponsors...

A fun bumpersticker:
We have enough youth. How about a fountain of smart?
For a long time I gave up broadcast television. I'm afraid I was a little (or a lot) "less-viewier-than-thou." Grin. I've since gotten back on the bandwidth wagon. The commercials do annoy me, but if that's what it takes to watch The Voice or various flavors of NCIS or Bull, so be it. (I just have an over-the-airwaves antenna, so no pausing for me.) (& I purposefully have NOT signed up for streaming services, as I already watch as much TV as I want to fit into my schedule by taking in what's limited-ly available.) So, commercials it is.

Except last night I utilized the commercials in a very productive way: entering poems/story parts/ideas from a notebook into a computer file. I'd been procrastinating, but heck, I could type stuff in for the length of a commercial break. It was awesome. & I'm already planning using the TV marketing to do my own marketing, once I'm caught up & have things in files & revised. I have been known, once or twice, unlike all other writers, (grin), to shy away from submitting poems & stories & novels. (If by shy away, one means run screaming in the other direction & then hide under the bed.)

This could be very commercially successful! Bite-sized chunks. I couldn't write during commercials, but interruptible tasks are great.

Blog alternative:
322. Come up with a good task for the commercial breaks. It could be as simple as folding towels. Maybe doing laps in the living room. (Walking laps, rather than swimming, unless your living room is a lot different than mine.)