Monday, October 31, 2011

Novels and Scrivener

Tomorrow, NaNoWriMo begins. I'm a bit nervous about it since I have NEVER tried this before. I've been writing my entire life, I've started numerous books and novels, and I have been working on the same book for six years running. I finally decided to buckle down and get one done.

It's not the book I've been working on for six years... Instead, I am going to start a new one to slam out in one month. This is going to be an interesting exercise for me. I have to keep up with an average of 1667 words per day to meet the 50000 word count goal. I want to do it. But will wanting be enough?

Likely not. However, I have to admit that I finally caved and went to a novel writing software to help me. I ended up with Scrivener (they're offering a special trial through December 7th for NaNo writers) and I have to admit... I'm in love. For someone with ADHD, one of my biggest stumbling blocks are the several different documents I have to have open to track characters and settings or scrolling through the story to remind myself how I want things to go.

Scrivener keeps me in one program and flipping through the items is as easy as clicking a mouse. It even comes with a "corkboard" to place idea cards. It keeps my attention focused on the scene I'm writing, preventing me from scrolling through everything I've written to try and revise. I know better than to revise as I write, but I still attempt it anyway. Not anymore! Tomorrow begins a new writing dawn. A novel writing dawn one might even say... (how droll).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Fall

"Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower." ~ Camus

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Brief Post and pictures

I'm coming down with something, so I think today's entry, by necessity, must be short. It's times like these I begin to feel my growing age.  Sleep is difficult, rest is difficult, and I'm not the 18 year old I still see in my mind's eye.  Things ache and crack and pop now.  They didn't always.

It was a busy and pleasing weekend.  We even took Little Guy to Zoo Boo on Sunday and had a blast.  He's going to be Darth Vader for Halloween, so it was great to see him get dressed up.  He was excited to go and, I believe, more excited to see the animals than to go trick-or-treating.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Viva la yarn revolution!

It's been a busy week. After the rally on Saturday, I attended another Assembly on Sunday and I knew it would be too busy a week for me to do much else on the ground. In my spare time, I did get another hat done for the Occupiers and a set of mittens as a special request.
I'm not sure that mitten is what you think it is...

The mittens look like they just should not work. The thumb looks odd, the pocket for the fingers looks way too long, but I tried them on, and they are actually comfortable. They should also do well at keeping hands warm. The oddness comes, I believe, from making this up as I went along.

I tried to follow a pattern, I really, really did. I went and looked at no fewer than 10 patterns, trying to find one that didn't seem ridiculously complicated for a MITTEN. I was unsuccessful in my search. Me being me, I decided the best thing to do was DO IT MYSELF. So I did. I took bits of one pattern and bits of another pattern and decided to fake it. The result, as I said, was odd looking but functional. It won't win any awards for prettiness, but it should keep fingers from falling off.

So how did I make such an...interesting piece of crafing? Well, I started by creating a base chain. I stitched 10 and then started crafting around the base chainUsing the last two as a turning chain, I single crocheted along one side, putting two stitches in the final link and then stitched back around the other side, creating an oval. When I reached the other end, I put two stitches in that too, so I created a increase. It worked. I kept stitching and increasing until I felt the mitt was wide enough and then just crocheted a tube.

The thumb was going to cause me difficulties, I knew it. So, when the mitt pocket was long enough, I pulled a lesson from another piece of crocheting I had don and began to crochet in lines again, back and forth, creatiing a gap to go around the thumb. When it was wide enough, I slip-stitched the edges back together and continued to finish the palm. For the thumb, I went back to my gap and basically did the reverse of the mitt. Instead of increasing, I decreased every row and ended up with a thumb. Even more shocking, it worked. Mind. Blown.

I then attached a cuff to the bottom and voila... A mitten. I'm rather proud of myself. Boy, does it look MESSED UP.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Solidarity

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men - Abraham Lincoln

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy South Bend rally wrap-up

The rally I attended on Saturday was awesome.  There's nothing like working with people towards a common goal to make your spirit feel empowered.  I crocheted a hat, made and flew signs, participated in a march, and enjoyed the company of an amazing group of people.  It was truly an amazing experience.  I encourage everyone to get out there and take part.  These people are protesting for your rights. 

The detractors seem to be missing the point of the movement. These are not people looking for a handout, many of them have jobs (some more than 2 or 3), the ones that don't have jobs (lost when the economy collapsed beneath them) have been actively looking.  This isn't about politics.  This is about stopping the progression of our country from democracy to corporatocracy. 

The threatened clean-up of Zucotti park is a prime example.  It's a public park, right?  Wrong.  Even though everyone is TOLD it's a public park, it's owned and run by a private corporation.  Brookfield said that their agreement with the city required the park be used for free enjoyment of the public...  That is, until the public don't toe the company line and then they have to go.  Indiana's toll road is another good example.  It was built with public funds but is now owned by a corporation.

How much more do you want to give to big business?  Tax dollars saved them when they were "too big to fail".  The hope was that by saving them, the government would be saving and creating jobs.  Tell that to the people who have been unemployed for over a year because companies have learned that their workforce is so desperate to keep their jobs that the employees do 5 times the work for half the pay. 

This is what the movement is about.  People are angry about the state of the country.  And they should be.  The government (all parts of it) and the corporations are in bed together.  Companies don't differentiate between Republican or Democrat, they'll give money to both to guarentee that the laws passed benefit THEM. But governments shouldn't work for companies.

Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address that our government was "of the people, by the people" and most importantly "for the people."  When did that stop?  When did the government give up on the people and become "for the corporations?"  We've let it happen.  But as the situation degenerates, I believe we need to avoid violent revolution and take part in non-violent, constitutionally granted ways of changing the system.  An Op-ed piece in the NY Times calls this America's "primal scream."  We need to scream our heads off before things get worse.

Occupy Together

Occupy Indiana: Occupy South Bend

Facebook: Occupy South Bend

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Krafty Kitten

I don't normally bring politics on this blog.  There really isn't a need or a purpose to it.  However, something is going on in America right now that is affecting me and should affect you.  The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is being compared to the riots and revolutions in the Middle East earlier this year, and, honestly, was sparked by the same reasons. 

For three weeks the movement occupied Wall Street with no word from the media.  Twitter, Youtube and Facebook were the only outlets for information (much like the riots in the Middle East).  Once the police started beating and pepper spraying the peaceful protestors, the media started reporting on them.  But the news has been disingenuous at best and deliberately misleading at worst. However, this debacle of reporting has led to something amazing - the spread of the movement across the United States.  There are Occupy movements in many cities across the United States, even here in South Bend, Indiana. 

Now, I have been called a hippie by many people.  I believe in the power of voting and, if that fails, peaceful protesting.  I believe in taking care of the weaker members of society - children, the elderly, and the infirm.  I believe in helping people and working together to create a better world.  I also believe that our society, for all its advantages, has failed to help the people who take part in it. 

We have teachers struggling to teach kids on reduced salaries which were forced upon them due a lagging economy, we have people losing their jobs and having to find new and creative ways to feed their families, and we have people dying because they cannot receive proper medical care due to exorbitant costs and prohibitive insurance.  We also have created a ruling upper class with our democratic society.  We elect politicians based on our belief that they will support their constituents only to discover their masters are really the 1% that controls most of the country's wealth.  People grin sardonically at each other when discussing politics because they are aware that the government has failed.  "But what can I do about it.  My voice doesn't count.  My vote doesn't matter."  So make it matter.  It worked in the 50's and 60's.  It can work today.  But you have to DO something, and this is your opportunity to take your stand.  Find your local Occupy group and, even if you can't protest, show your support.  The protestors need food, water, tents, sleeping bags... 

As far as what I will do for them, this weekend I am going to the protest in downtown South Bend, labeled a dying city by Newsweek.  I am going to stand with my people and protest the injustices.  I strongly believe this is necessary, and I strongly believe we can make a difference.

Occupy Together

Occupy Indiana: Occupy South Bend

Facebook: Occupy South Bend

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Timeline

I'm going to take a break from my usual mommy talk to actually go tech for a bit.  Believe it or not, I am a bit of a techie.  I don't need the latest and greatest, but I do like playing with things to figure out how they work... (That could be taken in so many ways)  Back in high school, I taught myself HTML 4.0 and I have a tendency to poke through programs and find all their secrets.  Big Guy also has me figure out how things work for him because he's turning into an old fogey. 

So, when Facebook changed AGAIN, I was annoyed, like everyone else, but not too put out.  It would take a day or so, but I would get used to it.  However, when they announced the advent of  Facebook Timeline, I was definitely intrigued.  When I discovered that you could actually implement the timeline before it went live, I knew I had to try it. 

I hunted down the instructions and discovered something amazing. 
My Cover Pic and Profile Pic

I love it.  Seriously.  I absolutely LOVE the new Facebook Timeline.  I know people are going to totally flip out when it's officially implemented because it IS a departure from the norm.  But, and here's the thing, the timeline makes your profile more personal by giving you more control. 

You don't just have a profile pic anymore.  You also have a cover picture to help lend a slightly more personal or creative touch to your page.  And the timeline doesn't just go back to when you JOINED Facebook, it goes back to other major events as well...  Like the births of children and siblings.  You can still choose what people see, and you can also feature certain stories on your timeline. 

What Zuckerberg and his team have managed to do with the timeline (impressively enough) is actually make Facebook feel both streamlined AND more informative while avoiding a generic blocky page.  It's smooth, slick, impressive...  How did this happen? 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What I did with my weekend

This USED to be a tree

So did this (but I fixed that)
The weekend after Big Guy and I moved in, the mulberry in the backyard leaned into the neighbor's yard. It was rather startling and horrifying for us since we had JUST moved in and we were getting a call about the tree deciding it preferred another yard to ours.  We had several tree companies come out and look it over.  All of them recommended removing the tree entirely.  Apparently, while mulberries themselves are delicious and sweet, the tree is crap.

They removed the tree this week, so our backyard is now treeless and very, very bright.  Big Guy and I cleaned up the wood pieces while Little Guy ran around the yard.  Then we put him down for a nap because he desperately needed it and we needed to not worry about potentially chopping him in half.  We got the logs split, stacked and then enjoyed the evening in the back yard around the fire pit.  Check that.  Big Guy and I enjoyed the fire pit.  Little Guy enjoyed running around the back yard in the dark with his fake pet squirrel.  He loves that squirrel.
Captain Squirrel of the Furred Fleet 5

I set up a website through Google Sites for tutoring.  I'm rather amused, and slightly alarmed, at how thoroughly Google managed to infiltrate my life.  Youtube, Blogspot, my phone number, email, and now my business website are all run through Google.  I hear they are awesome to work for though, so I guess I can throw business at them. 

As we settle in to Fall at the new place, I keep telling Big Guy how happy I am.  Part of that may be the wine, but I really do love the house.  We have a great little porch area set up.  Sitting out there, cup of coffee (or tea) in hand and surveying the neighborhood is remarkably relaxing. The past few days have been warm and relaxing, so I want to take advantage of it while I can! 
A Cup of coffee, a book, and me...  Heaven.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Winter is coming (nerd)

This bush was once green.... 
Fall approaches. The leaves are changing, the heavy, sweet scent of smoke and dead leaves hangs in the air.  Today was warm, but there's still that underlying knowledge that the colder days get closer.  It's nice to be in a place where the walls aren't likely to radiate cold.  (Big Guy complains that is an inaccurate term, but I disagree.  It's a perfect description for the trailer walls.  You could feel the cold winter air pour off of them, even when there were no windows.)
Hey, orang-ish ones!

In an effort to drum up more money for the home, I've thrown my hat into the tutoring ring.  Using Google, since they seem to have all the cool stuff, I designed a website and advertised on Craigslist.  We'll see what I can bring in. 

Other than the usual difficulties, we're settling in rather well.  Our oven went out, but our Landlord has already ordered a new one and it should be installed next week.  The cats seem to be handling this well too.  I was afraid Caitlin wasn't going to handle the stress of moving well, but she's handled it better than Tiger!  Caitlin got here, poked around the place, and then has settled in nicely.  Tiger, on the other hand, yowled non-stop in the car, hyperventilated when we got here, hid in our closet and has spent the days since then trying to get out of the house.
Caitlin wasn't aware Tiger was under her

Little Guy loves the house too...  But he's driving me nuts with the stairs.  He loves them.  He slides down them on his belly or he hops down them, one step at a time.  I am terrified he's going to break his neck.  Big Guy and I are still bumbling our way through boxes, one at a time.  At the rate we're going we may be unpacked by.... 2015. 

Even with the tightness of life, Big Guy and I are thrilled and happy to be moved out of Elkhart and into a house that doesn't threaten to re-enact the house scene from The Wizard of Oz.  Our library is close, we will have heat, and we always make it work.  We always do.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Because we must

Nicole over at The World of My Imagination wrote about writers and blogging... Her conclusion is sound... Writers need to blog. Why?
Writing - copyright J. Paxon Reyes

Well, I firmly believe that writers blog for the same reason they write. They must. It's similar to mountains and mountain climbers. It's there, so it must be climbed. The words exist, so they must be put down. Hell, I've been writing stories since elementary school. In my case, I always felt the stories churning around in my head and had to get them out on paper. It's like a sore in your mouth. You know it hurts to touch it, but you still poke at it with your tongue.

I can't help but write. I get antsy if I don't write, but I also have a love-hate relationship with writing. I'll go through spurts where I write nonstop. I throw every word in my head onto the page and then some.... And then I look at what I've written and trash it because I am convinced it sucks. I feel like it is the worst writing that has ever been since the first caveman (or woman) spit paint around their hand. I understand this is a common problem with writers. We are our own worst critics.

I haven't figured out how to get past that yet. I'm open to suggestions, because I have several half-started books kicking around and random story bits that never seem to get finished. Part of it may be my ADD/perfectionism, though. I have so many partial projects and so few completed ones. It's scary. I think that's where my difficulty in applying to grad school is stemming from as well. What if I get in, and I'm told my writing sucks. I can take constructive criticism, but to be told that I CANNOT write would be horrible.

It doesn't even matter that I know I am at least a passable writer. It doesn't matter that I have had people nag me to finish stories so they could read them... I still am convinced all my writing is horrible... So I hide it away and only let it out occasionally. I want to finish my book(s). I know where I want the stories to go. Unfortunately, I sit down to work on them and end up getting distracted by revising... Which leads me to reading them... Which causes me to think: "This is horrible! No one wants to read this!" And then I abandon writing it for another few months, only to start the process again.

I think, this November, I am actually going to buckle down and do NaNoWriMo... Anyone want to do it with me?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Krafty Kitten is taking a huge leap forward, as you can see.  I've changed the formatting (a bit) and I am hopefully improving the content.  The change reflects (in a way) the changes we've been going through around here.  Aside from the move, Little Guy has started being homeschooled, Big Guy is still the house-husband, and I, the intrepid instructor, am trying to talk myself into going back and getting my Master's degree. 

Right now, my vacation week is winding to a close.  I had a great time at home with my guys.  We were productive indoors since it rained most of the week.  Hopefully, we'll be able to enjoy the outdoors in the next week.  I'd like to have Little Guy look at trees as the seasons change from summer to fall.  I have grand plans that will probably never quite work the way I want them to.  Such is the price of having a Little Guy like mine. 

Tonight, my last night, I am cooking dinner and then showering since I spent the whole day putting together next month's plan for my class.  I have a few new tricks up my sleeve and I really needed this break to recharge those creative juices.  The dinner I put together was quick and relatively easy.  Big Guy had cooked bacon and eggs for breakfast and we had a pan with bacon grease on the bottom of it.  I took chicken breast tenderloins and fried them, onions, garlic, green beans, and spices in the pan.  Then I boiled some angel hair pasta, drained it, and tossed it with the chicken mixture and fresh basil.  It turned out really well though I may have over done the red pepper a smidge. 

The shower will be appreciated since I feel like I'm coming down with a cold.  Perfect timing.  I'll pop some cold meds before bed and hopefully kick this before it starts.  I hate being sick, and being sick while teaching is a full measure of suck.  We do what we must though and I am determined to make this an excellent month. 

One final note, I did get my interview published on Mommy Page.  It even has a picture of me!  SO EXCITED!