Summer News (June Edition)

Author’s Note: I wrote this as a draft at the end of June, but it’s taken me a bit to get up the courage/energy to post it here.

This summer’s going to be a bit of an odd one.

After nearly a year of doctor’s appointments and referrals, it became clear last week that the lump growing above my collarbone is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ugh. It’s stage one*, and the outlook is very good, but I’m nervous about starting Chemotherapy at the end of July and disappointed to have to take the rest of the summer off as the receptionist at the Veterinary Hospital. I mean, what the heck, bod.

The focus this quarter is to maintain my health as best as I can and to have patience with myself while my body heals. I’ve got a wonderful family and amazing friends to help me through this,  and while I’m sure there will be ups and downs I’m optimistic about the future.

In brighter news, we’ve adopted a new kitten!

We brought her home last Saturday and named her Lydia. She’s a scoundrel and a dear and we adore her already—a weird looking tuxedo with the sweetest mew. She loves to be around people. Grade A kitten. Would recommend.

I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again this July. I’ll be working on Coral & Bone, my queer-romance novel about a saboteur mermaid and the emotionally distraught whaler who falls in love with her. It was fun to dip my toes into the story this past spring and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with the characters I’ve made. I’m not used to writing romances, but it’s been a fun challenge so far. Also there are kelp forests and whale magic and bar fights and a pet octopus. It’s great stuff.

The veggie garden is looking great after a bit of a slow start. It’s been a spring of extremes—either very hot and dry or quite wet and cold—and while the plants didn’t appreciate the swings they seem to have forgiven and moved on. This spring, John built us a pair of rather cleverly designed raised beds with chicken wire cages on hinges, and it’s been enough to keep the deer and raccoons at bay. Time will tell with regards to bears.

Now, off to work on a novel!

*Whoops, turns out it’s stage II, but the prognosis is still good and we’re still aiming for a cure, it’s just likely going to take 6 months of treatment instead of 4. Bummer.

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Quarterly Goals: Spring 2017

Update on Last Quarter:

Winter was a bit of a toughie, but I did pretty well on my quarterly goals. There were a few slip ups, to be sure—I canned nothing, revised only one short story, and my blogging fell by the wayside when my mood disorder flared up—but I still ticked most of the boxes I set out to…. I had more game nights and watched more new films. I read 6 books. I learned three new recipes, one of which even earned a permanent home in my go-to collection. I wrote letters and short stories and holy hell I even finished a revision pass of my latest novel, Steep. I wrote every day, finishing the quarter with a total word count of 68,126.

2017’s theme is SIMPLIFY—and part of that means downsizing our possessions so that we (a) don’t’ have to pay to haul them across the country and (b) don’t have to pay to put them in storage once we get there and into our much-smaller home. With the big move happening next year, I’m particularly cognizant of just how much crap we have tucked into the nooks and crannies of our current home.  I ‘m a dyed-in-the-wool packrat, and getting rid of things can be painful, but I trounced my goal for getting rid of stuff. Not just 12, but 17 bags of clothing, yarn, and assorted items left my home and were donated, as well as two pieces of defunct furniture and a half dozen bags of papers to be recycled. Feels good.

This Quarter:

I’m keen to keep up my momentum on downsizing, and maybe even pick up the pace with the advent of open windows and longer days. Here’s what I want to accomplish this spring:

  • Write every day
  • Complete Camp NaNoWriMo
  • Watch 3 new films
  • Read 6 books
  • Print a new zine
  • Try 3 new recipes
  • Seed the front lawn
  • Knit a sweater
  • Giveaway or recycle 12 bags of stuff
  • Have 6 dedicated game nights with John
  • Write or revise 3 short stories

After clearing out a bunch of my yarn stash, my knitting slate is also clean. I’ve got a couple of patterns on my wishlist of things to make, and I’ve got a new Cobblestone Pullover planned for my needles this spring.

Writing every day has become easier, in part due to the Magic Spread Sheet. I’m also getting back into drawing and having fun doing it, and I’d love to take part in a couple of zine shows this summer and fall. It feels good to be stretching my creative muscles after a dull winter, and I foresee the next three months being full of new creative endeavours.

Here’s to spring, and to the fresh start it provides!

 

 

Quarterly Goals: Winter 2017

It’s the start of 2017’s Winter Quarter, and here’s what I’m attempting to pull off over the next 3 months:

Read 6 books

I fell a little behind on my goal of reading a book a week in 2016, so I’ve set my total a little lower this year. I’m using Karen Kavett’s ‘Don’t Break the Chain’ calendar to track my resolution of every day throughout the year, which is all the easier with the little e-reader I bought for myself as a New Year’s gift.

Write/revise 3 short stories

This is an area I really want to focus on improving – and will be a challenge as I’ve been neglecting my short stories while I work on a novel. Rewriting/revising is not my strongest skill, but I’d like to get some shorts up to snuff for posting online (as well as submitting some for possible publication) and putting it off isn’t helping anybody.

Complete an Online Course via Coursera

I absolutely loved the Chicken Behaviour and Wellness course that I took last summer through the University of Edinburgh’s Coursera module, and I’m looking forward to doing another course this winter. Maybe Paleobiology?

Can 3 recipes

I expect I’ll be talking here more about canning this year as it’s a growing interest. My fall fruit preserves were a success and I’m excited to try some condiments and brines this winter. Mustard is very much on the to-do list.

Finish 3 knitted objects

I blew my knitting goal out of the water last quarter (the only goal I actually met/surpassed) but I’ve set it a little lower this time around to leave room for some larger projects – namely another hard-wearing pullover.

Write 6 letters

I’ve got some fantastic new penpals to add to my buddies that I write to, and I managed 8 letters last quarter (not including Christmas cards), so this goal is not daunting.

Learn to make 3 new meals

I recently scored a cast iron skillet at 70% off and I’m enthused about learning how to cook with it.

Complete my QoL score every Sunday

I’ve written before about the Quality of Life Score tool that I use to help manage the symptoms of my mood disorders. This one’s straightforward, but important.

Watch 3 new movies

I don’t watch many films. The last movie I saw in a theatre was Pacific Rim. I would like to watch more films. I should be able to manage one a month, right?

Play 12 gaming sessions with John

We got some great new board games for Christmas, as well as the beauties already present in our collection, and while we play pretty often, I’m aiming for a game at least once a week this quarter. Some current favourites: Mysterium and Sushi Go Party.

Send out the first chapter of Steep to my Beta readers

I’ve been dragging my heels pretty hard on this one. It’s a missed goal from last quarter and the quarter before that. Right now I’m struggling with whether the manuscript actually still needs work or if I’m just scared to get feedback. I’m giving myself to the end of this quarter to figure that out.

And that’s what I’m aiming for this winter. If you’d like to share some of your Winter Quarterly Goals, please do so in the comments below – I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

 

Quarterly Goals: Fall 2016

Autumn is my favourite season: sweaters and socks are once again an option, the air smells like woodsmoke and leaf mould. I can turn off the AC and turn open the windows, and drink as many hot beverages as I like; things are good.

This fall is my first using the quarterly goals system and since fall is (usually) my most productive time of year I’m looking forward to seeing just how much I can tick off my to-do list over the next three months.

Here’s what I’m planning:

Complete Current Revision of Steep:

This one is going to be my biggest challenge. I’m currently about a tenth of the way through revising (and retyping) my last manuscript, and to get this done in time means that every day is going to feel like NaNoWriMo from now until December 31st. I’m making good progress and gaining speed, so I’m optimistic that I can have this thing ready for Beta readers at the start of 2017.

Four Short Stories Revised:

Revising my current novel, Steep, has really hamstrung my gumption to revise anything else, and first drafts of short stories continue to pile up. I’d like to take a look at a few of these this fall and get them closer to human consumption.

Four New Recipes Learned:

Pretty straightforward. I’ve been honing my skill at canning these past few weeks, and I’d like to continue that trend by learning a couple of new canning recipes, as well as a new dinner or two.

Twelve Books Read:

While I’m still about a month behind on my 2016 year-long challenge to read a book a week, I’m hoping to keep up my current momentum until the end of the year. Shouldn’t be too hard considering the quality of my current TBR pile.

Twelve Letters Written:

Postcards count, too. Between some new penpals, reconnecting with old penpals, and my usual correspondence with friends and family this should go off without a hitch. I’m planning on trying a few new tricks with formatting (like cross-writing), and excited to break out my Halloween-themed postage stamps.

Twelve Game Nights w/ John:

My husband and I are both avid gamers, but our daily work schedules are quite different. This can make it hard for us to sit down for an hour or so at the same time and move some pieces around a board, so I’ve added this to my quarterly goals with the hope of finding a rhythm that works for both of us. We’ve purchased some great new titles recently, including Mysterium and Concordia, and I’m looking forward to further exploring their mechanics.

Eight Dog Hikes:

I walk the dogs multiple times a day, but my favourite outings with them are the woodsy, dirt-trail hikes that we do on weekends. With the weather getting colder, and my dogs getting older, hiking every weekend this quarter might not be an option, but I’m sure we can get some good ones in before the snow flies. This past Saturday we hiked a new trail, got a little lost, and found a cool footbridge I’d like to visit again, so. . . *tick*.

Two Online Courses Completed:

I enjoyed taking some free courses through Coursera last quarter, and have my eyes on some paleobiology and history courses this fall.

 Six Finished Knitted Objects:

With the cooler weather comes more comfortable knitting. I’m aiming to have a few more pairs of socks and a couple of new sweaters completed by the end of the year, plus an item or two to give away at Christmas.

Practice ukulele for a half hour, twice a week:

Would love to learn a few new strumming patterns – and get better at playing an E chord!

Repair rust damage/scratches on Beetax:

Our car, Beetax, is 16 years old and needs some TLC before the road salt goes down. The garage got cleaned out as per last quarter’s goal, so they’ll be stabling indoors this winter.

Send out Christmas cards to family and friends:

Last year I did hand-drawn cards. We’ll see.

Organise creative supplies closet:

I have a closet full of papers, paints, supports, clay, fabric, you name it, and it needs a good revamp to make everything more accessible.

Print, frame, and hang photos for picture collage:

Pretty self-explanatory. Bought some frames a month ago and would like to get them on the wall.

Operation Stashbuster – all yarn must fit neatly in steamer trunk by year’s end:

I have an obscene amount of yarn. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except that it’s all over the place and a lot of it needs winding/sorting into cakes or skeins. I’ve got a few good patterns for stash-busting in my arsenal and I’m using them this fall. If what’s left doesn’t fit into the huge steamer trunk that it calls home by the end of this quarter I’m kicking it to the curb come January 1st.

Phew! It’s going to be a busy quarter, but I’m confident that I can achieve my goals if I put my mind to it, and all the extra caffeine and sugar that the season brings can’t hurt. I’m debating whether it’s a good idea to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, considering I’m still waist-deep in revisions of last November’s project, but I’ve taken part every year of the past 8 (with 4 wins under my belt), so it’s  a tough decision. I guess I’ll need to do some soul-searching.

If you’ve set yourself some quarterly goals, be sure to comment below – I’d love to see what you’re working towards.

Happy autumn!

 

Featured Image: “Halloween Wishes” by Miwok is licensed under CC0 1.0