Nothing says Valentine’s Day like more snow

If you’ve paid attention to the news this past week (or if you’re on the East Coast yourself), you know about the blizzard this week. I’m getting kind of tired of all the snow days the kids have had (two last week, two this week, more snow coming next week — I think we’re around twelve snow days for the year so far?). There’s no question that they’ve been warranted, though. A foot of snow and ice? Yeah, you don’t want kids walking to school in that, or school buses trying to drive in it. So, for your viewing pleasure, the latest shots of the yard. Continue reading

Today’s weather

20140205-072213.jpg
We’re on the lower band of the current storm, which means wintry mix instead of the snow people farther north are getting. We got snow early, followed by sleet and freezing rain. That pretty dogwood I posted yesterday? Snow’s gone, and it’s coated with ice.

Shoveling’s not going to be fun today, but the college my husband works at only has a two-hour delay, which means he does have to head out. This in turn means the driveway does need to be shoveled.

On the other hand, I’m not driving anywhere on the icy streets today, and our son has yet another snow day.

How’s your Wednesday shaping up?

My own personal Janus

me with purple hair

Looking back (last year)

me with green hair

Looking forward (the coming year)

I’ve switched from twilight to growth. Or perhaps I was blooming, and I’ve deadheaded the old blooms to encourage production.

Or maybe I’m just a writer stretching for a metaphor because that’s what we do, and the truth is I changed my hair from purple and red to all-over green.

Any changes you’ve made to start the year?

Happy New Year!

We sit balanced on the cusp of another arbitrary circuit around the sun. It is a time for reflection and preparation. Many will set goals, craft plans, or make resolutions.

Wherever you are right now in your personal journey, I wish the best for you. At this time next year, may you be in a better place in whatever way matters to you — professionally, personally, financially, emotionally, productively, healthwise, or any other way that speaks to you. May your year be bright and sprinkled with pleasant surprises and dreams fulfilled. And may you give others hope and joy all the coming days.

Happy 2014!

Happy birthday to me again

So last year on my birthday, I said I wanted to lose a pound a week. Didn’t happen. In fact,I’m pretty much at exactly the same weight I was last year at this time. I’m grateful I haven’t gained weight, at least. Guess we’ll have to see what this next year brings.

(Not today, though — my younger brother baked me a birthday cake, and I intend to enjoy it!)

Meanwhile, I’ve had a full year with ups and downs, as most years are. I’m a year older, a year more uncertain of my skills, a year more aware of how much I don’t know and never will. May I have many more such years.

Parades and plotting

Today was the Bethlehem Halloween parade. My son marched in the parade, and my husband drove the support van for the band. Logistically, this required that my husband drop our daughter and me off downtown to amuse ourselves until the parade started.

On the way downtown, the girl was asking how Cinderella’s real mom died, and then how her dad died. I told her the story doesn’t say but that I could pretty easily write a story where the stepmother poisoned everyone — except not Cinderella because the stepmother liked having a servant. (The girl is now referring to this story as basic fact — “in your story.” I guess this means I should start outlining it.)

Then we got to downtown, where as I said, we had to amuse ourselves. Given that the Moravian Book Shop (the world’s oldest bookstore) is there, this was not hard. We looked at books, ate lunch at the cafe, and bought her a small coloring book to amuse her while we waited outside.

I also bought myself an aspirational pin:

20131027-170755.jpg

Then we went out and found a tiny unclaimed wedge of sidewalk in front of a pair of parking meters, and the girl settled in to color her ballerinas. I pulled out a notebook and pen and started writing about the discovery of a dead body at a parade. I’m sure it’s just as well that the people around me didn’t know I was sizing them up as potential victims and suspects.

All in all, not a bad afternoon. Few hours of fun with my daughter, a couple of new story ideas, and a pin to remind me of one of my down-the-road goals.

How’s your Sunday afternoon been?

Friday no flash

It’s been one of those weeks — actually, it’s been a pretty busy month, with back-to-back proofreading deadlines followed by being sick all of this week (because October and November, I always get attacked by the multi-week cold), plus tons of family stuff to do. (October is the busiest month for my son’s school band.) So I thought I’d just catch you up on a few things today, starting with stuff about my friends. (Or, er, more than a few.) Continue reading

Looking at the path to take

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about work, freelancing, and writing — and money. The love of money may be the root of all kinds of evil, but the lack of it is the root of all kinds of stress.

Freelancing is often a feast-or-famine work arrangement, and more than once I have burned myself out taking on too much work to make up for times when I don’t know there will be money coming in. Globalization and the current publishing climate haven’t really helped — freelancing gets outsourced to places where bottom dollar is still good money, imprints get sold off, publishers go into bankruptcy. There are self-publishers looking for copyeditors, sure, but they don’t want to pay New York publisher rates — which means taking on more work to make the same amount of money.

I’ve poked around lately, looking to see what “real jobs” might be out there that I can do. Not a lot of call here for someone with a masters degree in molecular biology — and even less for someone whose skills are fifteen years out of date. Looked into publishers — nearest magazine publisher isn’t hiring copyeditors or proofreaders at the moment, and the nearest book publisher that wants to hire an editor requires a bunch of software I have no experience with. Which pretty much leaves me looking at administrative assistant positions, places I can use Word and Excel and stress out all day over using the phone.

Of course, working such a job would mean major changes. Wardrobe, clearly. Hair color, possibly. But it would also kill family flexibility, the ability to get either child at a moment’s notice if they’re sick, time spent volunteering at the boy’s school, and the occasions when I pick up the girl because my husband has to work late. Oh, and forget errands in the middle of the week! It would completely uproot my life.

… but it would be steady income and less stress worrying about how much money would be available any given month.

So I look.

On the other hand, I also just scheduled two proofreading jobs for next month, and I have an index penciled in then, too, without specific dates.

What I really need, what I really want, is stability. I’d love for my writing to be bringing in enough every month so that I know at a minimum all pre-existing bills will get paid. Then the freelancing works as a cushion and to take care of extras. And I can see me getting there — in time. The tricky part is that I need to spend time writing now so I can build to having that then, and I need to do this regardless of whether I’m seeing immediate results. So I’m trying to figure out how to balance writing for the future, doing the freelancing, spending time with my family (crucial) — and maybe a part-time job on top of it all.

While mulling this over, I’ve run across several posts and thoughts about life and work:

Sylvia Plath in “The fig tree” said that I have to choose — I can’t have a “husband and a happy home and children” and be a famous writer (okay, she said poet, but I don’t expect to ever sell more than a handful of poems; it’s not where I put my effort).

“There can be no joy in living without joy in work.”
– St. Thomas Aquinas

“Dare to be strong and courageous. That is the road. Venture anything.”
– Sherwood Anderson

Seth Godin recently said, “Your drudgery is another person’s delight. It’s only a job if you treat it that way.”

And then there’s Gretchen Rubin, creator of The Happiness Project, who coined as one of her Secrets of Adulthood: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Or, as she rephrased it in a recent post, “If I die tomorrow, will I be glad I took the time to complete this task?”

What it comes down to, think, is I have to build the life I want to live. Maybe that means a part-time job that still gives me family flexibility and time to write or do freelance work. Maybe it means working full-time for a year or so and writing evenings and weekends. But it definitely does not mean giving up the writing, no matter how stressed I am.

Here’s a song that helps me remember things will get better.

What themes have you been running across in your life lately?