Nano Day 12 and Pantsing 101


I’ve been somewhat off my game the last few days. I only got 2,000 words over the last few days for several reasons.  The first is DC weather.  This time of the year is always hard on the sinuses.  The winds kick up and knock the leaves off the trees, and all the dust flies around.  Having problems with sinuses can suck the energy right out.  Today was much better, though I had to stay inside most of the time to keep out of wind.

But the other reason is that I started a–diet is the wrong word–a way of eating that’s different.  It had a detox effect for the first few days, and I was really tired by early evening, as in struggling to stay awake at 6:00.  I’m trying it actually because I don’t want to spend from November to April struggling with my sinuses, and I don’t want to go the drug route.  The plan is in a book called Eat Fat, Get Thin, which I ran across in the Washington Post (in the context of the election of all things!).  I eliminated dairy last year because I’m lactose intolerant and was much improved.  This plan includes eliminating dairy, wheat, and sugar–and eating more fatty items.  It was kind of scary at first because I was eating so much food.  I did a trial run for one day, and the next I went a last time IHOP for pancakes.  For the first time, those pancakes did not taste good!

After only one day.

Pantsing 101

I’m all over the place today.  I’ve always needed to write in order because that’s how my character development progresses.  Because this is a series and I already know the characters from the last book, I’m putting scenes into Scrivener in no particular order and writing them.  My creative side is driving this.

Most of the scenes are not complete, and my critical side is trying to nose its way in by telling me that I should fill out more details.  I’m having to trust that it’s okay not to describe something yet because I’m still processing what the story needs.

Scrivener for Windows is a really good program for this type of writing.  You just put your documents in the binder and move them around as the story realigns.  I remember working in Word and trying to shuffle a chapter.  It was cut the chapter, scroll to the point where it needed to go (hoping the power didn’t go out), and then paste it in.  Okay with a handful of chapters, but clumsy if the book’s over 100 pages.

I worked both on Collision, and a second project called Time Management in Chaos, a non-fiction book.  I’m not an expert on time management, but I have a job that’s chaos.  It’s the one that doesn’t fit any of the molds of time management experts.  Those books often tell me to create systems (theirs, of course) to manage time and email, and I’m so overloaded that I wouldn’t be able to create any of their systems or maintain it.  So, the book, which I will work with on and off.

I might have more words later this evening, but in case my sinuses go on the fritz, I’m posting this early.

Day 7-11 Word count: 2000

Day 12 Word Count: 1000 (Collision) and 600 (Time Management Chaos)

Story Total: 8000

 

The Magic of First Experiences


We always get a day like today in Washington DC once fall sets in for a stay. The sky goes very blue, and the winds start up, scattering brown leaves all over the streets. I usually have to stop visiting any parks at this point because there are so many leaves on the ground that I can’t see tree roots or rocks that would cause my ankle to turn.

But streets are fine because they’re always nice and flat, even when it’s a hill. I’m not going to find a tree root poking up in the middle of the street.

So I picked this one street and followed it, looking at the houses and watching the squirrels dash around in search of nut prizes to bury. There was this one garden next to the sidewalk. Nothing spectacular, but it was bordered by white quartz.

It reminded me of when my family first moved into the house I grew up in, the Los Angeles suburbs. I had to be in kindergarten, so a lot of things I saw were still firsts and new experiences to me. At that point, I’d lived in an apartment, so a house was a new thing.

It was a slab house (concrete base; no basement), and stucco, which was common in Los Angeles. Painted Pepto Bismal pink, and still is. It might have been two bedrooms at one time and had an attached garage converted into a master bedroom. The master bedroom had that garage shape and a strange built in working surface that seemed more for tool tinkering than for a bedroom.

The backyard was huge. Not like the postage stamp-sized ones so small it’s hard to garden. This backyard was big enough that we could have put a swimming pool in if we’d wanted. At the time, behind the house was a gigantic vacant lot that stayed that way for quite a few years. Now it’s a bunch of condos.

Anyway, the yard consisted of a small hill in the back with a stand of paddle cactus, a century cactus, a stand of bamboo, and a whole lot of tall, yellow grass. Los Angeles is always in draught, so when it rains, the grass grows really fast, then goes yellow and dies. When I walked through, the grass would always leave little rocket ships of foxgloves in my socks, which are how it moves seeds around.

And, of course, this vast backyard, was something to be explored. So I’m on a mission into the unknown to find out what was out there, and I discovered treasure!

It was kind of a dirty yellow crystal, scattered all throughout the yard. In hindsight of experience, the crystal was probably a quartz used as part of a garden. I remember bits of concrete stuck to some of the pieces. But I’d never seen anything like it before, so it was part of the adventure of exploring and discovery.

As adults, I think we sometimes forget that there are things that still need to be discovered, even if it’s a new experience that we haven’t had that just shakes us up a little and gives us something new. There’s still room for a lot of firsts, even if it is just seeing a black squirrel for the first time or watching the leaf truck suck up leaves.

On the exercise front


Let’s start with the fact that I’m still doing the exercises, which has kind of amazed me. I really haven’t stayed on anything for that long.

I’m also continuing to enjoy it, which is very surprising. I’ve always associated anything exercise related as “not fun.” It’s kind of hard to find something fun when the elementary school team captains saved me for last selection and then argued over who got me, because neither one wanted me.

I did have to go off the videos online because Me.TV stopped at 20. I thought I would get bored repeating the same ones over and over, so I got two books by Jack La Lanne. Then I promptly did bad things to my feet, legs, and back, all parts of my body that I’ve injured over the years, probably due to my flat feet. I want those to improve, if possible, but it’s been hard figuring out how not to overdo it!

So getting the videos will help me better with the progression.  Until I get them, I’ve been sort of rotating between the exercises—not counting sets, but listening to when I feel the muscles starting to fatigue and then doing two reps past that.

Meanwhile, the Washington, DC weather is starting to shift into fall. It’s actually been doing that since August (so my sinuses have told me), but we’ve had largely good weather. It was gorgeous for the Pope’s arrival, and after he left, then it got colder. Coincidence?

The leaves are starting to change. However, we didn’t get any rain for almost a month, so we might not have good colors this year. A lot of the leaves seem to be going right to brown and dried and dropping off.  Hopefully that doesn’t bode for heavy snow this year.

Tales of the White Cat


This has been a nice fall so far.  The weather in Washington, DC usually bounces up and down — gets really cold, then gets really hot, and then everyone gets sick.  It’s been cool, with the wind a bit gusty, like nature knows it has to come along and blow the leaves off the trees.  Not much in the color changes yet though.

So I went out early in the morning for a walk around the neighborhood.  The gray squirrels were busy digging at the grass with their tiny paws and burying nuts.  Up ahead of me, I saw this flash of white on the street:  A cat.

Okay, I definitely wanted to stop and pet the cat and say hi.  I figured the cat wouldn’t go near me.  You know how cats can  be.  I kept walking on the sidewalk and calling to the cat.  He disappeared for a moment, and I figured he’d gone under a car.

One of the squirrels darted in front of me, so I stopped and waited for him to finish his squirrel business.

Four houses away, the cat appeared on the sidewalk and headed for me.  At a cat walk.  Not the slinky walk cats have when they’re not in a hurry.  It was more of a fast walk, like when food is coming out.

So I stood there and waited, and the cat trotted right up to me with some serious head bumping, and his engine got started right away.  He was a bit chunky for a cat, but had feathery white fur.  Very soft.  He got some serious spoiling, and we both enjoyed every minute of it!

Caught in a storm at Arlington Cemetery


Most of the time in Northern Virginia, you can tell when a storm is coming.  It’s summer, and a thunderstorm usually comes when humidity is heavy in the air.  It feels almost like the air is about to burst open.  Then the winds come in, and the trees sway.  The black clouds come in with the winds, and then the rain starts.

But I was visiting Arlington Cemetery in late November, well after summer and nearing the end of fall.  I’d just gotten my new tennis shoes that were made for flat feet, so I was partially trying out how well they work.  But I was also doing research for a writing project.  The very striking thing about the cemetery is that the graves all identical.  Go to a church cemetery and the graves are all different shapes and size.   But at Arlington Cemetery, it’s an overwhelming number of rows of white grave markers.

Because I was so early, workers were out spraying down the graves with a high powered hose.  All the grave stones are white, and all but the oldest are a pristine white from all this cleaning.  Another worker was using a leaf blower to clean the many two lane roads throughout the grounds.

I visited John F. Kennedy’s grave, and then watched the soldiers standing their watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  This is a very special duty for the soldiers, and they’re out there no matter what the weather is.  Only three of the sentinels have been women, the first in 2001.

The sharp clear notes of a bugle drew me to a military funeral for an enlisted soldier.  The bugle has a certain kind of lonely, mourning quality to it.

As the ceremony ended, I noticed that, in the distance, the clouds had gone black, contrasting with the sharp blue of the autumn sky.  It hadn’t been like that when I’d arrived, but now it looked like something evil was coming in over the land.

I started back, but I’d really walked further than I thought (the shoes were very comfortable).  While I had a jacket on, suited for the cooler temperatures of autumn in Virginia, I didn’t have an umbrella.  I walked quickly, but the storm clouds loomed overhead, and then it started to pour.  All I could really do was keep walking.  It was a cemetery.  There wasn’t exactly places to duck under to wait the storm out.  By the time I got back to my car, I was a soggy mess.

And then the storm disappeared, like it had never happened.

A behind the scenes of the sentries for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

;

From The Daily Post prompt:

You’re at the beach with some friends and/or family, enjoying the sun, nibbling on some watermelon. All of a sudden, within seconds, the weather shifts and hale starts descending form the sky. Write a post about what happens next.

Fall Colors in Washington, DC


Usually we don’t get much of the fall colors in the Washington, DC area.  Either it rains too much and the colors are muddy, or it doesn’t rain enough, and the colors are dried out.  This year, the leaves have been spectacular.  My favorites have been the scarlet leaves, because the colors are so vivid.

A series of trees in blooms of scarlet red and pumpkin orange.
This tree hits all the glorious colors in nearby Glencaryln Park.

 

Close up of some flaming pink-red leaves
Close up of some flaming pink-red leaves

 

 

Reflection of the fall colors in Holmes Run.
Reflection of the fall colors in Holmes Run.

Thanksgiving During War


We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

A pilgrim woman holds a pumpkin, with a turkey in the foreground.  A banner says, "Thanksgiving Joys."I always think it’s strange to have a sit down Thanksgiving indoors.  When I was growing up in Southern California, our neighbor had a potluck outside — yes, outside!  We’d haul out the lawn chairs or sit on the asphalt as Candy, their black dog, wandered around, collar jingling.

But when I was in Desert Storm, Thanksgiving was another thing entirely.  We’d been over there maybe a month and were still at the exposition center in Dhahran.  We called the building “the white house,” because it was white, because it was air conditioned, and because the officers took it over.  We stayed in tents on the sand and ate meals in a gigantic tent.  Meals were catered, and repeated themselves about every three days.  Usually chicken, salad, and fingers of cake.  The food was pretty good, but tiresome because it was always the same.  No fresh fruit because of the heat — everything went bad too fast.

But because we were in Dhahran, we had the opportunity to see President Bush when he came to visit the troops.   Each platoon picked a person to go, and I got picked.  We had to stand in a long line that ran next to a runway.  Air Force One sat on the runway, sharply outlined against the blue sky.   It was hard to believe I would be so close to the President of the United States!  Granted, President Bush was too far away from me to see much more than an ant-sized version — there were a lot of soldiers out there!

Afterwards, we were treated to a huge Thanksgiving feast — really, all you could eat.  They’d done a lot of work getting all the food out to us and serving it to us.  A table in the center of the tent had Thanksgiving decorations, and scattered at the base were Mars Bars.  I hadn’t seen candy bars in a month, which doesn’t seem long now.  But then, time was longer because each day was the same.  It felt like ages.  So I was pocketing as many as I could manage for later.  Then, at last, the meal was over, and we all had to return to reality.

 

Linda Adams – Solider, Storyteller

Cover for A Princes, A Boatman, and A Lizard, showing a silhouette of a princess holding a lizard in the palm of her hand.Yay!  My short story “Six Bullets” is now available from Starcatcher Publishing in the the anthology A Princess, A Boatman, and A Lizard.