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.)

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Imaginary Selves Taking Up Storage Space...


Cathy Tenzo, who is also in decluttering mode told me about an article from Miss Minimalist. I'll put the link at the bottom, for anyone who wants to take a look. The theory is basically that we have fantasy selves with baggage. Perhaps one of them is a crafter. Or a knitter. Or does drag. One of my fantasy selves has--had, as the photo from above shows the bottom of my garbage can--a bunch of makeup that I never wear. Not that I don't wear makeup. I do. Eyeliner. Specifically, Avon Glimmersticks. (But not the waterproof kind.) Pretty much always when you see me I will be Glimmersticked. Glimmerstuck? But mascara & blush & lipstick? Nope.

I thought about keeping some of it for a while, having a playdate with my glam imaginary self, but none of the makeup is very new (in fact some of it came from when Katie Stehn & I tried out for Rocky Horror Picture Show in Rochester, Minnesota, before I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, in 2006) (& some of it is older than that) so I just let it go.

I take that back: I have some assemblage ideas for the nifty little cases that some of it came in, so I scraped/washed the makeup out. But I have an expiration date. If I haven't used them to make cool things by June first, they're gone. I think the expiration date for art supplies may be a good idea & I intend to apply it to other things as well.

Blog alternative:
321. Think about some of your fantasy selves. Is one of them hogging shelves or drawers that you, who you really are right here & now, could be using to better effect? Throw or give away at least one thing...


Article about decluttering fantasy self


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

All Good Things, Overflowing

I have bowls on top of my cupboards. Every time I look at them, or think of them, I feel the words I have assigned to them. I imagine those concepts spilling from them, filling my home, my city, my planet, the universe. Two are bamboo, one is wood & one is glass.

Peace is a shallow bowl. It doesn't take much for it to spill out. A moment of alignment. A breath.

Prosperity is deeper. You have to trust the workings of it, know that it's rising &--in good time--will overflow. You have to trust that you don't know all the ingredients. It's there when you can't see it.



Mystery. A tiny dark wooden bowl. Every life needs mystery. But perhaps not as much as some of the other necessary things. Grin.

Inspiration is crystal clear, comes in & out from the sides as well as from overflowing.

I wish for you Peace, Prosperity, Mystery & Inspiration.

Blog alternative:
320. Put a container, small or large, in a high place. (Sure, it can be an imaginary container!) What would you have it spill out into your life--& into the universe?


Thursday, February 7, 2019

Spoiler Alert: Boring story. Nothing much happens. Yay!


This is a picture of my mommy & daddy at Christmas time. Laughing & happy. But my dad was having some issues with not feeling up to par so he was scheduled to have a looksee (technical term) in the bloodways (another technical term) around his everloving (& that's a lot of loving) heart. If they found blockage, they could potentially put in a stent.

Not an uncommon procedure. Usually goes well. Still, when it's your everloving daddy...

Cathy Tenzo made me laugh when I told her about it. "I hope it's a boring story," she said. As in, nothing much happens & the characters don't get too stressed out & there are no plot twists or complications & then someone eats a sandwich & watches TV & goes to bed early.

I had the feeling it might be that because my brother Mikol was going to call me if there were problems & wake me up, but if it was all copacetic, he was going to just text me & let me wake up at my own time.

Yay, hurray, that's what happened. No drama. One longish stent that took care of 2 blocks. Everything seems to be going well. He should be feeling better after this.

Blog alternative:
319. Tell yourself a story about some upcoming event that's been on your mind. Make it really boring. No drama. No hoohaw. No folderol. I came, I saw, I sat on a park bench with a delicious snack after it was all over. I didn't litter. Went home satisfied, in time to see Vanna's dress on Wheel of Fortune.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Quick! Is there a Placebo in the house!

I recently read an article on the effectiveness of placebos, even when one knows the treatment in question is a placebo. It has something to do with ritual. The author of the article got a prescription from his doctor for pills to alleviate writer's block. Had them made up &--warned that they may not take effect immediately--had some success with them.

I think perhaps my Oura ring helps me sleep. Knowing that it's on my thumb--the best-sized digit--& ready to monitor heart rate & determine wake-ups & REM sleep & deep sleep gets me tuned in to sleep mode before I even lie down. Or before I lie down to sleep anyway. Frequently I'll read or watch TV or play poker on my tablet (play chips only, but I've got over 20 million...) before I yawn & roll over & put on the eye mask to keep morning from deciding I should be up.

Blog alternative:
318. Think of some issue you just wish you could take a pill for. Then make up a pill. Scrunched up bread perhaps, if gluten doesn't bother you. Figure out a good dose & tell yourself, hey, it can't hurt. Might even be beneficial. After all, it's a placebo!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

The View From the Grave


This is a picture of me sitting on my own grave. Grin. It's in the cemetery at Nye, Montana, where sister Shelly's ashes were interred. Two to a plot for ashes, so voila! Mom & Dad will be next to us & my brother Mikol & his wife Amanda on the other side. Sister Tracey & her husband Mike will hang out at the Rancher Cemetery with a bunch of other relatives. It's practically spitting distance from their farm.

My mom is not the most adept cell phone picture taker & besides it was blowing like crazy & we were freezing, so we didn't linger to take a better one. But the view is great!

Blog alternative:
317. Pick out a few places you might want for a final resting place. A teaspoon at a time, you could spread yourself around--or, rather have someone else spread you around.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Brought to you, in large part, by Henry David Thoreau


In going through my books, I unearthed the copy of Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau that I read & reread & underlined & circled while I was in high school. If I had to pick one book that made me who I am today, it could be this one. Fortunately, I don't have to pick one. I gulped down so many with my hungry eyes.

But Walden was special. I was going to be a poet & a hermit. I even had a place picked out, a cabin with green tarpaper on the walls, on the east side of the mountain. I was going to run a bucket down to the Stillwater River to haul up drinking water. Once my sisters & I swept about a billion dead flies off the floor.

The cabin no longer exists, being part of the tailings of the platinum & palladium mine. The house I grew up in was right where the main adit for the mine went in. Goodbye big front room. Goodbye patio. Goodbye Secret Garden. Goodbye Pete's house. Goodbye guest house outhouse & garage. The pink house still exists, in another location, but the others are only in our memories.

Blog alternative:
316. Think about the books (or movies or songs, if you're not so much of a book person) that created you, challenged you, blew the top of your head off. Reread if you dare. Some of them hold up & some of them, well, you had to be there, & you were, but you aren't any more...

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Closet versus Duffle Bag (the battle continues...)


I am back from the holidays in Montana. I packed super light going there & super heavy going back. Earlier this year, my mom & sister & some others got together & cleaned out my sister Shelly's closet, so I knew I was coming home with some very nice clothes. (Sister Shelly was one stylish chick.) I wore one shirt out here & a pair of (what turned out not to be very comfortable) jeans. Besides that I just did your basic socks & undies & black leggings/long johns. (A base layer, I believe, is the technical term.) The jeans did NOT come back with me, but a duffel bag full of other wonderful things did.

Except my closet was already pretty full, so---

--some of the results you see above have already been dropped off at GoodWill. Still more sorting to go, but I didn't get back until Monday night & it's only Wednesday, so I'm feeling productive. I took ALL my clothes out of the closet (I don't use dressers) & started with ginormous piles in the living room/dining room. Still some on & around my table, but the others to be evaluated are in one neat stack on the painting table, which is right next to the closet.

Had a really lovely time in Montana, part of which was caused by bad roads & nasty weather. I played a ton of pitch (a really good 3-person card game) with my folks. Dad ended up our lengthy series 9 games ahead of me & 4 games ahead of Mom. (But hey, we made serious progress. There were times when he was 25 games ahead of us...) He also finished 9 games ahead of me in cribbage, & absolutely slaughtered me & an aunt (first Aunt Juanita & then Aunt Carol) in pinochle, with the help of Uncle Will. Shoot! But so much fun.

We hunkered down over New Year's & held a belated party at my sister's farm, which was really delightful & didn't require staying up late, since the rest of the country didn't delay the holiday.

I also discovered that I hadn't properly scheduled my blogs to post while I was gone, so bing bang bong, here are 3 at once, even if a couple of them claim to be Decemberish.

Blog alternative:
315. Take something out of your closet & do something to get it into someone else's hands. Or throw it away, if it's no longer useful. My red leopard print tights will hit the trash, as I discovered (while wearing them Christmas Eve) that the waistband was shot & they had the unfortunate tendency to head for my knees. Fortunately, my dress was longish & I could hit the restroom & pull them up. Grin. What could you possibly get rid of? Things that were more appropriate to a past version of you.