I came on here with the intention of recording my day, thinking that this “journal” hadn’t been used in far too long, only to discover a delightful entry from Lady … Continue reading Procrastination and Productivity
Category: daily life
Life of a Writer: May 5th
Per a request and subsequent suggestion of the other two authors on this blog, I am conducting an experiment. Namely, if I track my writing days…aka, write down everything I do…will it make me more productive because I am, essentially, making sure I look good? The answer is almost certainly going to be yes and therefore, in an attempt to make sure I am as productive as possible in the next couple of weeks, I am going to do seven days in my life as a writer. Yup. Seven. Business days, of course. So below, find Day One.
8:45 AM: I finally dragged myself out of bed after once again staying up too late the night before, making my way to a shower. It constantly amazes me how much just some warm water improves ones’ outlook on life.
9:17 AM: Having thrown on jeans and a green shirt that was technically purchased for my winter wardrobe, telling myself for the third week in a row that it is time to bring out and sort through my summer clothing, I go downstairs, delighted to hear Mr. Darcy (our most frequent cardinal visitor) chippering away outside at the bird feeder, despite the constant drizzle of rain. My mind will not stop reminding me that we are out of cabbage soup and need it for lunch, so I make myself some coffee and get to work chopping vegetables even as I berate myself for not doing it the night before, which would have allowed me to sit down and get right to work on this, my first of seven days of journaling my day.
10:20 AM: Two big pots of cabbage soup are simmering on the stove, which ought to get us through the next two weeks (part of our weight-loss strategy). I ignore the mess in the kitchen, do my first set of pushups for the day, and then settle in at my computer in the breakfast nook so I can keep an eye on the soup, while sipping the smoothie Daniel made us for breakfast.
Ignoring my email, I dive straight into my social media posts for June’s trip. I am currently (and have been for weeks) writing rough drafts of each day’s blog post for June so they will be easy to fill in with details while we are traveling, thereby hopefully taking less time of our trip. I am about halfway through, and think maybe I can finish them today.
11:40 AM: I took a stretch break to check on the soup, which is finished and admirably spicy, if I do say so myself. So, I turn off the burners, push the pots to the back of the stove to cool, and do a set of tricep extensions before getting distracted on Facebook for just a few minutes…in my defense, I was tagged in the writing group I am in, and that usually means the author who runs it needs me to answer a question about schedules.
11:50 AM: Back to blog posts! Now that I am at the California portion of the trip, I have high hopes the rest will go quickly since I no longer have to research the historical aspects of each wagon train stop to write the posts.
1:10 PM: It’s done!! I can hardly believe it. I have reached a milestone. After weeks and hours upon hours of work, I have the rough draft of 26 blog posts finished for our June trip. Now I am going to go see if Daniel is at a good stopping point for lunch.
One to three minutes later: He is finishing up a project, so I run upstairs to change into workout clothes and clean up for a few minutes while I wait for him. We have discovered that if we work out before lunch, we actually do the work outs pretty consistently, so that will have to come before we eat.
2:00 PM: We finished our workout -today’s being our least favorite as a 30-minute strenuous strength workout with cardio woven between the strength sets, and includes another set of pushups, and after catching my breath, I went ahead and reheated a couple bowls of the newly made soup for lunch. Or rather, I start to heat them up and then my sister called, so I picked that up and Daniel finished reheating them.
2:50 PM: I spent the last 45 minutes eating while working with my sister to look at and offer feedback on the children’s book she is self-publishing, and then paid a bill that has been staring at me all day. And now, I am headed up to my writing room to do my Bible reading for the day, trying to remind myself that the most important part of my life as a writer is to consistently spend time with the One who instructed me to write in the first place.
3:30 PM: I finished doing my daily Bible reading, did my creative journal entry, and was halfway through my devotions for the day when Daniel appeared to ask if I wanted coffee and to do our [almost] daily walk around the yard to admire our flowers and plants routine. Which, of course, I did. I also took advantage of the break to empty the dishwasher and do another set of tricep extensions.
4:00 PM: Back to my devotions!
4:40 PM: Completed devotions, prayer, and meditation and am now going to do my writing exercise before I forget.
4:45 PM: I plan to spend the remainder of my writing day working on editing my book.
5:15 PM: After making very minimal progress on editing that scene, and racking my brain for social events for the wealthy in the 1850s other than balls (apparently my mind really gets stuck on balls), I did a quick French lesson on Duolingo, and put rice on for dinner.
And that was my day of writing! And yes, in case you were wondering, having to write down precisely what I was doing at each moment DID keep me actually working. I am not sure if my evening activities were supposed to be a part of this daily journal, but I am assuming not since they aren’t really related to my life as a writer. Well. Most of the time. In summary, in case you were counting on finishing the day out, the rest of my evening consisted of:
- Making and eating dinner
- Doing our canoe exercise workout and the rest of my pushups and tricep extensions
- Doing some yard work
- Deep cleaning the bathrooms and hallway
- Talking to my mother
- and collapsing on the couch at 10:00 PM to play on my phone and type this up
I apologize for the insanely boring nature of this, but it really did help keep me on track. Maybe I will reconsider doing this on instagram…pictures have to be more exciting than this, right?
A Snowy Hike…and a Brush with Death (in my dramatic mind)
Even though I am henpecking this post due to injured fingers, I thought it was worth this writing out while still fresh in my mind.
Daniel and I have been going on hikes lately, for anyone who doesn’t know, while increasing weight in our backpacks to increase stamina in preparation for Daniel’s trip to the boundary waters in the fall. This month’s goal was to fit in two 4-mile hikes with 20/30 pounds. Well, it has been snowing almost non-stop, which is highly unusual for Virginia, and Daniel was concerned about going for a hike in the snow and ice. I apparently have more Minnesotan in me than I realized, because I insisted that was just an excuse, and we would be perfectly fine hiking in the snow. We did, however, agree to try a different trail than the mountain we usually hike – a trail closer to us and hopefully less – mountainous.
Everything started out perfectly fine. With some effort, we managed to find the trail we thought we wanted, and set out on our quest for fitness. It was certainly snowy and icy, but a lot flatter than the hike we normally take, so I think we were both pretty pleased. The trails at Ball’s Bluff apparently overlap quite a bit so there was lots of twisting and turning and consulting the trail map as we tried to figure out which way to go. The flat trail became more and more steep and we were both grateful for the myriads of footsteps that had gone before us that allowed us both to see in which direction to go, despite the lack of markers, and gave the trail more traction. It was simply gorgeous, though, and for someone who hates winter, I was beginning to think winter hikes might be my new favorite thing.
At some point, the hills got really steep and we both looked over the edge of the path and shuddered to think what would happen should anyone ever fall. We were a good hour into the hike, bemoaning the fact that our legs hurt and we were barely half through our four miles, which seemed absurd considering how far we felt like we had come, when it happened.
The sun had been going steadily down and though it was still quite light out, it was getting cooler and the snow was getting harder and more icy. One moment, we were following footsteps and the next the footsteps were gone and Daniel had slipped, fallen on his behind, and begun sliding. For the briefest of moments I was ready to laugh and tease him for falling…until I realized he wasn’t stopping. The snow was too crusted over with ice – there was nothing to hold onto, no traction to slow him. As if in slow motion, I watched him hurtle faster and faster to the steep, icy hill below us as I screamed at him to grab something. He flailed for some brush, grasped it, and it tore through his hands even as it flipped him to his stomach; he reached up and, just as he passed under, grabbed a branch and jolted to a stop. My heart skittered as I watched his water bottle fly past him, going past his dangling feet to the hill beyond, so steep I couldn’t even see the water bottle as it descended to running brook at the bottom, and I had images running through my mind of Daniel’s body lying down there if he hadn’t grabbed that branch. Then my stomach twisted as I realized he wasn’t out of danger yet.
One hand clung to the branch while his feet and the other hand, covered in blood, felt desperately for a hold so he could hoist himself up. But there was nothing. The snow was too hard – there was no place to dig in.
“Hang on!” I called. “What can I do?”
“I don’t know.” he grunted as he began pounding the snow with his boots, trying to create a foothold where there was none. I unclasped and took off my giant backpack with the vague thought that if I could get close enough to him, I could use a tree for leverage and toss him one of the straps and haul him up.
“Is there a path under me?” he asked, still clinging with all his might.
I looked closely and sure enough, the path wound narrowly under him.
“Yes,” I said. “You might be able to lower yourself, but be careful or you’ll slip right over it.”
He began kicking his feet again to get a foothold and, with more hope for my backpack plan when there was a path to help me, I sat down so I could inch my way to the path. All it took was a couple of scoots and as surely as if I were on a toboggan, I started sliding. It was both surreal and terrifying at the same time, as though it couldn’t possibly be happening to me even as I began assessing my options.
Surely the flat surface of the path would stop me, my brain reasoned even as I whooshed past Daniel and flew straight over it. I caught a brief glimpse of the icy hill, the scattered trees, and the creek filled with rocks waiting for me below as I grasped some brush. It flipped me over as it tore out of the ground. I spun as I grabbed for first one nonexistent hold, then another, alternately glimpsing the approaching bottom, with all the rocks and brush in the way, the rocks waiting to bash my head in and then watching my scrambling hands trying to save me as I spun yet again. Daniel said something about me hitting a rock and flying a few feet but I don’t remember. Suddenly I was almost at the bottom and there was a tree headed straight for me. I reached out my hands to grab, felt my face smash into it, slid around it and landed face down, half my body in the creek, the other half in the snowbank.
Three thoughts ran through my head simultaneously.
- I should be dead.
- I should definitely be unconscious.
- I would have to go back to the dentist because I doubtless had some broken teeth.
Not going to lie, in that moment, I was most annoyed at the thought of another dentist appointment.
I heard Daniel’s desperate cry from above asking if I was okay and knew I should respond but couldn’t bring myself to move. I laid there, still stunned, my face still in the snow, afraid to move. At his second (or was it third?) call, I forced myself to my knees so he would know I was alive, and fell back down as a wave of dizziness hit me. He yelled again and again I forced myself up and called back with no amount of certainty that I was okay, I felt around my nose and brought my glove back, fully expecting blood. Nothing, but considering how wet I was, I wasn’t sure I would see it anyway. I looked up and was relieved to see Daniel had safely made it to his feet at the top of the hill. I called up, asking if he was okay and he responded that he was. I looked around me, located and grabbed Daniel’s errant water bottle, tried a couple steps, got dizzy, and leaned against the tree that had decided I needed another dentist appointment before gathering my courage and feeling my face again. No moisture, or even pain around my nose. I poked at my teeth and was stunned to realize they seemed as sturdy as ever. I decided at that moment that God had an angel sliding down that hill with me. There was no earthly reason or way for me to be this okay. Accordingly, I shouted back up at Daniel again that I was all right in response to his repeated inquiries, more sure I was telling the truth this time.
Like another miracle, just like that, my head cleared and I could think again. I started to try and find a path back up, and Daniel shouted to me that if I followed the creek, I would hit the red trail and he could meet me there. He just had to figure out how to get my backpack, still above both of us at the spot I had started sliding. I waited for a sign of success before I started walking, and became aware of a throbbing in my finger. I pulled off my glove and grimaced as I saw the nail half torn off and, as if it had just been waiting for an audience, blood began filling up under it. I frowned at it even as I acknowledged how blessed I was, should that be all that was wrong with me, and then felt the finger in my other hand begin hurting. Pretty sure I knew what was coming, I took off the other glove and, sure enough, that nail was also hanging half off. I will say now that it had torn only about a quarter of the way down but it certainly felt like more. Of course, once off, I couldn’t get the soaking wet gloves back on without severe pain, so off they stayed. I then became aware of a developing fat lip and a pain in my side which later examination would prove to be some sort of ice rash- my shirt must have come up while I was sliding and my side got skinned as I slid.
Rather than stand there miserably, I decided to trust that Daniel would get the backpack safely, and begin trekking towards our meeting spot. I realized quickly that if I tried to walk along the snow next to the bank, I would just slide straight in, so I sloshed through the creek itself, figuring I was already wet enough that it wouldn’t matter, and my author’s mind, now that we were both okay, began assessing the best way to fit this scene into a book. I had gotten several feet upstream when I heard another skittering sound behind me. I swung around, and saw my water bottle making its way down the hill to the spot where I had just lain. Daniel was standing at the top, looking down, and rather needlessly called out that he had dropped my water bottle. I probably should have just left it, but I liked that water bottle, and I figured it would take Daniel awhile to get to the meeting spot anyway, so I sloshed back straight through the water, and grabbed it, and then began my trek back again. That was apparently the extent of my hiking boots’ waterproofness because they promptly began filling with water. I reached the meeting spot long before Daniel because he still had to descend the icy hill with two very heavy backpacks, and no path to speak of since it had all iced over. For the next half hour, he chipped holes into the path with the heel of his boot to safely walk, and, on the actual descent, used one of the weights from our bags to pound in handholds in the ice so that he could scoot down safely.
I paced back and forth as I watched him nervously, becoming aware of throbbing in my nose, trying to ignore the sloshing in my boots, and how cold and painful my hands were.
After what seemed a lifetime, he finally made it safely to the bottom with both the packs in tow, and I promptly flew into his arms and started sobbing. He comforted me, telling me how glad he was I was alive, though we didn’t linger too long, because it was cold, and would be getting dark soon, and we still had to figure out our way to the end of the trail in wet clothes.
He pulled out the medical kit that we were wise enough to bring along, and I turned away so I could grimace privately as I finished taking off the partially torn nails, and he then helped me bandage them up. He wiped off the blood on his hand, and I was relieved to see it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had looked. Just some very painful skin lacerations from the brush that had cut through it.
After completing treating our extremely minor wounds considering how dangerous our accidents had been, I pulled on the spare gloves I happened to have in my pocket, and we took off again. It took a considerable effort to keep going because it was becoming increasingly colder and even more icy, if that was possible, but God had His hand around us. We made it to the car in another half hour or so. By then, I couldn’t feel my toes, so Daniel helped me remove my boots and my sopping wet socks, since it turns out it is hard to remove shoes and socks when both your pointer fingers are out of commission, and they warmed up nicely under the car heater.
Finally, we got home, crawled into warm, dry clothes, took ibuprofen, drank some hot chocolate, thanked God for protecting us, agreed on no more winter hikes on steep hills, and sat in front of the fire, watching TV and sipping whiskey the rest of the night.
And that, dear friends, is probably the closest thing to both an adventure and a brush with death I have ever had, and I am still amazed that I appear to have escaped unscathed, other than a quickly healing fat lip, two painful fingers, an incredible amount of bruises, and one very sore nose.
As a whimsical lass of 14, I started writing an annual letter to myself ten years in the future. I’m a terrible correspondent. I haven’t even opened a letter from … Continue reading Correspondence
A Fireplace Type of Day
Today seemed like a good in-between day. Neither too lazy nor too productive, so I thought I’d write about it.
I slept in, I will admit, until 10:30, and it felt really good. After struggling last week with very bad insomnia (try unable to sleep until 5:30 or 6:00 multiple nights), to feel like I slept well was a breath of relief. Discounting my dreams, of course, which involved a holocaust in the USA targeting children.
Following the necessary cup of coffee, and answering a few annoying emails–including one that was NOT helpful for resolving insurance coverage for the rental car I crashed, I decided to start the day with reading a fun book rather than diving straight into any additional emails. Since my sisters and I are rereading all the Jane Austen books together, and Northanger Abbey is up next, I grabbed it, curled up on the sofa next to Daniel, who was working, and read until the chimney sweeps came about half an hour later. Then I went through the rest of my emails, and closed it to do my devotions. I decided last week that, as I tried to get back on something of a schedule, I should do devotions after I caught up on email/social media so God could calm down any ruffled spirits.
By the time I finished that, the chimney sweeps were done, and it was time for me to actually contribute to the Gibson Girl story – as you both well know. So, I stared at a blank document for awhile, then got up, made some tea, set a timer for 15 minutes, and managed to get over 400 words done. Since that seemed to be the extent of my inspiration, I took a break to light a fire in the newly cleaned fire place, and sat in front of it while I slowly tapped out another 500ish words.
Feeling ridiculously tired after this very minor activity, I laid down for a few minutes, drifting in and out, and then sat up, inspired. I ran upstairs, grabbed all my Oregon/California trail books, a few writing books, and then my planner, poured myself a whiskey and coke, and laid down on the floor to plot out an exact timeline for editing Picture of the Past (spoiler alert: if all goes well, I plan to solicit beta readers in March). I know, I’m a type A to the core.
Around 6ish, I put all that away, played the piano a couple minutes, put a couple puzzle pieces in place, and then Daniel and I ran some errands. Once we got back, I re-lit the fire (because I’m obsessed with fires now), turned on Bones Season One, and am now writing this extremely boring post because I’ve not written anything in here in a long time.
So that was my boring/typical day as I slowly go back to being a productive person.
A Jonah Kind of Day
Yesterday was a Jonah day, to quote Anne. And therefore I have to share it with my best friends.
The morning started deceptively well, kind of like Jonah probably thought as he successfully boarded that ship. We woke up late, and got up with the happy thought that pancakes were in order for the day. So, I went down to start making them, only to realize that, of course, we didn’t have milk. But, happiness! Daniel had leftover “Just add water” pancake mix from his last camping trip, and it was just enough for a batch! I also found some chocolate chips, so went ahead and threw those in, mixed up the batter, and started them on the griddle.
At which point, Daniel came up from the basement, where he had been putting laundry in, and looked at me with great unhappiness. Apparently, there was a dead mouse behind the water heater, and the question was whether he had to take it out before or after breakfast. That was our first hint of our Jonah day. He decided to get it over with, carried the dead mouse out the door on a shovel, and washed his hands thoroughly.
Thankfully, the pancakes were ready by the time he finished, and he was much happier as he sat down to those chocolate chip pancakes shaped like Mickey Mouse, and dug in.
About halfway through, I hear a horrified gasp from him and look up at his even more horrified eyes. He lifted the bite on his fork so I could clearly see the legs on the stink bug that had been cooked in the pancakes, and apparently looked just like chocolate chips in the thick batter.
The bite I was currently chewing turned to ash as I stared at that specimen, and sat there for awhile as I tried to determine whether it would be worse to swallow or spit. I eventually convinced myself that if there had been a bug in my bite, it would have crunched, and forced myself to swallow, and then Daniel and I went to the other room, and thoroughly washed out mouths and then then our stomachs with whiskey. I don’t know how long we sat there, staring at each other, our stomachs roiling, But three conclusions were reached.
- There are legitimate excuses for drinking whiskey in the morning.
- We were never again eating Daniel’s camping leftovers, particularly when it involved pancake mix.
- We might never eat pancakes again anyway.
Once we could force ourselves to move again, we began cleaning the house, in preparation for both our 3:00 PM meeting with a notary to finish the refi on our house and because we were having guests at 7:00 PM to try the whiskeys we bought in Kentucky. Around 2:30, we got a call from the notary who told us that the title company had never uploaded our paperwork, so we couldn’t close. Which means we have to hope that we can get it straightened out before we leave again in two days. or we won’t be able to close before next year.
Finally, we took off to run some errands before our guests arrived, went to Costco, Daniel went to get gas, and. . . the car died. Died so thoroughly, in fact, that he couldn’t even get it to jump.
On the upside, we were at Costco, so he unhooked the battery, carried it into the tire center, and got a new one. FYI, it is unwise to travel in winter without mittens or scarf, no matter how quickly you think your errands are going to go. . .amazing how fast it gets cold when you are working on a car outside.
And thus our Jonah day ended. Apparently, God decided we had had enough because the rest of our errands went well, and we got back home with fifteen minutes to eat dinner before our guests arrived.
Operation Christmas Child Packing Party
Saturday, we conducted our annual Operation Christmas Child Packing Party! Now, most years, we order like 100-200 boxes, invite 100-200 people, prepare several bucket-loads of food, and get 1-2 families. . .3 at the most . . .coming out to help, and have enough leftover food to last us the entire rest of the year. No complaints – we usually still get between 75-100 boxes done; it just takes hours.
So, this year, because of COVID, we cut the invite down to five families, expecting at the VERY most, two of them to come, and I planned a minimal amount of food and we only ordered 100 boxes (just to be safe, you know). Also, just to be safe, we ordered 75 boxes worth of the “essentials” (soap, washcloths, toothbrushes, etc). In case I haven’t explained this to you before, our general method is to provide the shoeboxes, food, and essential items, and ask people to bring toys. Of course, we also go buy a bunch of toys – usually enough to fill 50-ish boxes – and then we count on everyone else to bring the rest.
My friends, I would like you to know that out of the five families we invited, four came. FOUR! Either everyone is tired of being stuck indoors or we no longer live in the city . . .we were delighted, of course, but also…Daniel had to assure me over and over again that we had enough food, and we got 95 boxes packed in 3 hours, stopping only when we ran out of toys.
Clearly this means that next year we should order 400 boxes and invite 100 people again. Our house can fit that amount, right?
I will say the most adorable part was watching the children pack boxes for children. One friend’s little girl (3 years old) ONLY wanted to pack boxes for girls her age. Her mother would occasionally convince her that they should pack a boy box, or maybe even an older girl box, and then they would get the toy sections, and she would instantly renege and go back to a little girl box. And by the end of the day, she was pretty good–I would watch her settle on the floor, squishing that washcloth around that doll until it was good and tight before reaching for something else. I really wish I’d caught a picture of that.
Oh, the food? We had enough, but only just. We had only enough leftovers for two days.
And that is my weekend update.
P.S. No, I did not get any writing done.