Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Editing::Networked Ladies

For the past few months I've been attending monthly Xperience Connections networking events hosted by Carole Cheatam. Each time I go, I meet new, interesting ladies, all entrepreneurs from a wide variety of industries, many of them active moms or grandmothers.


The Group! My webmistress, Sarah Greer, is down front.

I like the XC format. Each event is a ladies-only "closed" network, which means only one representative from each industry may be represented (no competing with the gal sitting next to you). It's a "pay per event" arrangement, rather than a fixed monthly or annual membership. And you can attend as many or as few events as you like. Our area has several leaders, all of whom have regularly-scheduled events, and you decide which one(s) you want to attend. You're not required to show up to every weekly or monthly meeting.




My new networking buddy Sandra Rogers

I especially like Carole's events. Hers are in the evening, so you're not interrupting your business day. We begin with socializing and a light supper (always creative and yummy) prepared by Carole. During the "formal" part of the meeting, we each give a three-minute presentation about our business. When that's done, there's more socializing.



Kimberly Fodrie (Snellville's leader) and Carole)

If you've got your own business, I highly recommend attending an XC event in your area. If you're shy about going to new places on your own, bring an entrepreneurial friend or associate. I was introduced to the group by my Personal Banker, Amanda Hayes at SunTrust. She's the Queen of Networking (that's a lot coming from me). If the other groups are even half as lovely as ours, you'll be comfortable whether you bring a friend or not.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The End of an Hair-a

Thomas as been letting his hair grow out for a few years now. He's got this thick, dark, curly hair, the kind any woman would kill for. But, as anyone with long thick hair can attest, it takes a lot of work to maintain, and is hot in the summer. Lately he'd been asking me to braid it for him when it needed to be under control.

I was a bit surprised when he came home from his painting job with short hair. He says it feels much better, but it certainly will take a bit of getting used to.



Snarl of curly locks




Friday, September 1, 2017

Editing:::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow: It Sneaks Up On You

Sometimes a thing just looks like an ordinary thing...



Oh, what a nice little table and lamp.

Until you get closer...


Hmmm...there's some sort of design on that table.
And closer...


Wow...that looks like it's handmade. And really complicated. What is that?

 And closer...


Holy crap, that's a bunch of different peices of wood all fitted together to make a butterfly.



Marquetry is one of those extraordinary traditional talent/skills that is easily overlooked and shouldn't be. Please take a few minutes to watch a demonstration of the process. Let it sink in how excruciatingly detailed this work is. And then take another look at some of the pieces I've posted during this writing retreat.

Then take a moment. Take a look at what's around you. Is there some human element that you hadn't noticed before and can now appreciate?

You might be surprised by what you find.


Editing:::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow: No Words Necessary

Well, I might have a few words...



Lake.


Boat.


Dock.

 
Saint.

  
Cats.

 
Clock (the other one that doesn't run, but these words don't count because they're in parentheses).

 
Medallion.

 This is Moon Shade Hollow and The Little House. Go there. You'll thank me.

That is all.



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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Editing:::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 4

It rained all night, which made the insomnia almost pleasant. Craig didn't want to prop the doors open (as I tend to do at home when it rains) because mosquitoes consider him a rare delicacy and behave accordingly. So I made do with having a few windows open all night for the coolness and the lovely sound of the rain.

I gave up on sleep pretty early on last night (even watching a subtitled crime series in Icelandic didn't make me drowsy) and did some work instead. I got some glitches on this blog sorted out, streamlined my new posting process, and set up a bum-load of draft posts that just need "the words part" so I can hit the "publish" button.

Now you know my secret: I don't actually blog, I write.

(I would say something cynical about Blogger and their messing with my process, thus forcing me to come up with a new process, but that wouldn't be classy since I'm using their free platform.)

It's so quiet here that I find myself tiptoeing around even when Craig's not sleeping, and I have to remind myself to raise my voice a bit if I expect him to hear and understand me (especially when he's using earbuds to drown me out).

BTY, why is it called "tiptoeing" when you don't actually walk on your toes (that would be "en pointe")? Just wondering.

One of the things that lends The Little House to creative work is the lack of a functioning clock. There are two beautiful clocks, but neither of them are running. There are clocks on the stove and the coffee pot, but they both refuse to give me the correct time. It's not that I'm not aware of the time--it's displayed on every device I work on--but somehow when there's a clock prominently, incessantly, and even mutely announcing the time, my eyes automatically wander over to it more frequently than I care to admit.


One of the timeless clocks.

The lake and kayak were calling me after I'd been up for a bit, and I was seriously contemplating enjoying some on-the-water solitude. But I sent them both to voicemail when this happened:




I did some more work instead, with my "office" window open of course.

My totally chill work space.

I have to tip my hat to the designer and builder of this little gem of a cabin (Billy and his dad) for including a generous overhang on the roof. No matter where you are, you can open a window and not worry about the rain coming in (unless there are gale-force winds, in which case you really don't want the windows open anyway).

Although we got started a bit later than I intended (easy to do when you're up half the night writing), we spent the afternoon working. I'd gotten the manuscript draft 95% completed yesterday and we decided to do a read-through. Craig was on his laptop at the breakfast counter reading aloud, and I was in my totally chill work space making corrections and notes as we went.

Reading aloud is a technique used by editors to check for flow and awkward phrasing (and other highly technical stuff that might confuse the average mortal), but I'd never considered having the author read their own manuscript. Craig intends to make an audiobook of the finished manuscript in addition to the e-book and paperback, so the benefits of the read-aloud are twofold (or threefold). Four eyes and ears are better than two. Since we both wear glasses, I guess that's eight eyes and four ears.


Craig multi-devicing.

At home, Craig's process involves taping pages to the wall in the living room and/or kitchen. I'm not entirely sure how that works, but he brought his particular brand of mojo along with him to the cabin. (Don't worry, he uses painter's tape so the wall surface isn't marred.)



Craig's process, plus a map of the Appalachian Trail

Here are a few more details of The Little House before I move on. Billy's father was a master of marquetry, and there are about a dozen of his masterpieces prominently scattered around the cabin. And not just on the walls (more on that later), so you have to keep your eyes peeled to find them all.



Marquetry: elaborate wood inlay to create a pattern.

I particularly love the simplicity of this arrangement and the statement it makes. It makes one wonder if these tools were used to build this cabin.


Tools of the trade.

We're still getting rain on and off, so we're mostly staying inside the cabin. Ahhh...the sacrifices we make for our craft. ;)




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IPod Case Redux

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, people had iPods. No, really. They did.

Back when I actually had an iPod (which was not as long ago as you might think since I'm a Late Adopter), I got this little black case to hold my device and earbuds. It worked great. Until I no longer had an iPod.

Don't ask me why I kept it because I don't know. I'm not one to hold onto STUFF once it's outlived its usefulness or stops giving me pleasure (don't go there). But, there it sat in my bedside-table drawer (again, don't ask me why) for years until I randomly rescued it from oblivion (I just can't bring myself to comment on that particular design bomb).


The Little Black Case enjoying time in The Little House

What do I use it for now? My iPhone certainly doesn't fit into the main compartment (they just keep getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger, don't they?). The smaller outer compartment is supposed to hold your earbuds all nicely looped up so they don't get tangled.



What could possibly fit in here?

Even when I'm not on a writing retreat, when I'm editing (and other times as well) I move from device to device as I work. I've got my desktop for the heavy lifting and for tasks that don't work well on a mobile device, my tablet for lighter work (first-run edits, reading newsletters and blogs, some correspondence, and writing), and my phone for keeping track of what I'm "supposed" to be doing, communication with the outside virtual world, and looking stuff up (mostly Merriam-Webster's dictionary and Wikipedia). And occasionally playing certain app-based games and puzzles when I need a brain break.

So, throughout the day I find myself migrating from my desk, to the loveseat, to the comfy chair (all in my office), and sometimes even to the kitchen. And there are all those little things that I need to have on hand in each spot. You know, the stuff that gets lost between the loveseat cushions and drives you crazy because you need it and it's sitting there quietly taunting you ("You can't find me, you can't find me, nanny nanny booboo"). 

Solution: The little stuff goes in this cute little black case, and the black case goes in the pocket of my favorite cargo shorts (that's a topic for another day). In the case are earbuds, small post-it notes, an ergonomic pen, and a small stylus (yes, I know, dinosaur).

Before you start chastising me for using earbuds because they isolate everyone from everyone else, allow me to point out one of the best aspects of using them: concentration. This has been made apparent to me on this trip thanks in large part to Craig.

Craig has a tendency to occasionally get temporarily diverted in the middle of a conversation or task. Just as we've been doing at The Bear Den for several years, when I want to gently point out that he's off topic I just say "squirrel." Then he blushes prettily and we get back on track.

I think Craig may be getting tired of hearing me say "squirrel," because he's spending a lot of time with his earbuds in. I don't know if he's completely concentrating on the task at hand, but he's getting his homework done and we're not "squirreling" each other (yes, I did just use a rodent as a verb).

Conclusion: It's not the tool that's the problem, it's the way the tool is used (like you've never heard that before). If you've got a tool that's not serving you, find a way to make it serve you.

Hopping off the soapbox now...


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 3

Work, work, work. That's all I do around here. ;)

But, seriously, Craig and I spent nearly the entire day in The Little House with fingers flying over keyboards and mice flashing across pads. (Well, Craig is working on his laptop, so technically he doesn't have a mouse.)

We did take a short break to visit the dock before the rain started in earnest.

The rare and illusive Mo, captured on film for the first time in years.



With Hurricane Harvey finally breaking up and moving out of Texas and surrounding areas, Georgia got a nice, quiet, steady rain. It wasn't until after sunset that the rain became solid enough to make a delightfully comforting, steady sound on The Little House's roof.


(That's not actually the moon, but looks kind of like it.)

Oh, yeah. Work. Craig finished his homework, and I managed to get all of the new material incorporated into the manuscript (Hawaii was a bitch and took more than her share of my attention.)

The sole agenda tomorrow is a complete read-through (or as nearly as we can manage) of the manuscript with me making corrections and notes as we go. The next phase once I return to The Real World is a full edit.

I feel I should mention that Craig has been the "wife" on this working vacation. He did all the meal planning and shopping in preparation, and has cooked every meal since we've been here and cleaned up after half of them.

My nemesis


To my credit, I did manage to figure out how to use the intimidating and poorly designed coffee maker, and I walked up to The Big House to fetch some ground coffee. (Why is it "ground coffee" indicates "before brewing" and "coffee grounds" indicates after brewing? They're the same bloody words.)




Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 2

Last night, I set out my game plan for today. Craig had the punch list I make up for him and was ready for some serious (squirrel!) work. I had a few administrative things to attend to, but most of the day was dedicated to rewriting the new material Craig was creating.


Morning view from the Dock


But that doesn't mean I couldn't take a bit of time to myself to enjoy paddling around the lake before I got to work this morning.

The Dock


We got a LOT of work done. Kit and I drove to Lawrenceville to attend an Xperience Connections networking event hosted by Carole Cheatam while Craig stayed "home" to continue with his homework. It was my third meeting and Kit's first. Kit's presentation was met with enthusiasm, and we both made some nice connections.

By the time we got back to Moon Shade Hollow (about 11 pm), Craig had finished 3/4 of his homework and was taking a nap.


The Big House



Tomorrow will be a full, uninterrupted (I hope) day of writing, rewriting, and editing. My goal is for the manuscript to be complete by the end of the day so we can spend Thursday doing a full readthrough with notes.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Editing::Writing Retreat at Moon Shade Hollow Day 1

Craig Sotkovsky and I drove up to Moon Shade Hollow for a writing retreat. We're so close to getting the first draft of his memoir completely finished, one last push should do it. We chose The Little House for our labor of love. (See what I did there?)

Even after the one hour drive, settling in, visiting with Kit and Billy, and dinner, I was pleasantly surprised how much work we got done. I worked up a punchlist of Craig's homework (sections that needed to be written) and organized my approach for tomorrow.



The fellow who greeted us when we arrived...in the bathroom

P.S. Be sure to click the link and choose "view photos" so you can be totally jealous you're not here.

Homemade Gas Mask

Michael set about making a gas mask to protect his eyes when he's cutting onions (he cooks a lot) and his nose from barking spiders (farts). He worked through several iterations to get something that works.



Prepared for any number of noxious fumes.

It works.


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Monday, August 21, 2017

Tree Eclipsed

For weeks everyone has been agog about the solar eclipse. Special Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses were being sold in grocery stores and other retail outlets. There was a panicked rush to YouTube to find instructions for making Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes when the Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses sold out.

Being a good homeschooling family, David took up the challenge and helped the boys build some Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes. Then we headed to our local park for a bit of sun gazing.

The Homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Boxes were a bust, but Michael had brought along his welding goggles (don't ask why he has welding goggles), and those worked pretty well. I did manage to get a picture...of the sun, not really the eclipse. The horizon line must be an optical illusion.



I did NOT look directly at the sun. My phone did.

The most interesting part of the eclipse for me was the shadows being cast by the tree leaves. They were all crescent-shaped and looked three-dimensional.



Not the surface of the moon.

That bit of science lesson being concluded, we headed back home. The only question I have is, what is everyone going to do with their special Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses?


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Friday, July 21, 2017

Transportation Freedom!

After overcoming an impressive number of road blocks (see what I did there?) the Focus is now in our name and insured, and Thomas has his license. That means, Thomas now has his own means of transporting himself. Between his jobs and theatre activities, it's come just in the nick of time.



Taking ownership

Mom & Dad's Uber Service now has one less customer.

Taking his wheels for a spin







Saturday, May 6, 2017

BooBoo's Passing

We lost BooBoo last night.

After a month of TLC and hanging with his mama every day, he had another blood clot. David took him to the vet, who kept him overnight. He came home yesterday morning, rested all day, then went into distress again last night. We agreed that it was time to let him go.

BooBoo was one of the sweetest creatures I've ever had the pleasure of knowing and sharing life with. There's an empty space in my heart.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

BooBoo Sitting Pretty

It's been over a week since BooBoo's emergency hospitalization. Now tell me, does this look like a cat who's on the brink of death? I think not. He's getting around pretty much normally, eating and drinking normally, and (we presume) doing his business regularly (it's hard to tell with indoor/outdoor cats). There hasn't even been a personality change, like can sometimes happen when an animal has a traumatic event. He's still our boy.





























Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Not As Expected

File this one under "things that don't end up like you expected. Last night we expected that our visit to the vet this morning would be to say goodbye to BooBoo. As it turns out, he made a turn-around overnight. He was walking around and gobbled down all of his breakfast. The vet put him on blood thinners to address the clotting issue, and we took him home.


BooBoo at the Vet, ready to go home!
There's a very good chance that, even with treatment, he'll have another blood clot within a year or so. He's got an underlying heart condition that caused the clot, so he's not as healthy as he seems. Sending him to a feline cardiologist (I din't even know there was such a thing) for diagnosis and treatment is beyond our budget, so we're going to have to work with what we've got. Considering most cats don't recover from this particular condition, I think BooBoo's chances are better than average. We'll take him for a follow-up on Friday, and in the mean time spoil the snot out of him.


Resting at home under my desk.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Losing BooBoo

BooBoo dragged himself into the house from outside this evening, his back legs not working, and clearly in pain. David and Michael rushed him to the emergency vet where he was diagnosed with Saddle Thrombosis. It's related to heart disease, but is virtually impossible to diagnose before an attack. He's got a blood clot stuck in his femoral artery that's cutting off bloodflow to his legs. The prognosis for this medical condition is not good. Cats most often do not regain use of the damaged leg(s), and it is extremely painful. We're leaving him with the vet overnight, and will make a decision in the morning. Considering the quality of life he's likely to have if he survives, we're leaning toward letting him go.


Our boy, BooBoo.

BooBoo's allergic to mosquito bites...ears torn up.

Snuggling with his mama.

Helping Mom with her editing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Something Old is New Again

Michael has had a fascination with the old-style Jiffy Pop, and finally got one to try out. He was very excited about doing it on the stove; he read the directions and everything. It worked, and now he has successfully scratched that itch. What more is there to say?

Before


After

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Editing::One Thing Leads to Another

I've been fussing for a while because I needed to reorganize my primary workspace (desk, top of desk, areas around desk, etc.), but have not made time to do that (somehow working on my clients' projects was my priority...go figure). But, a series of unfortunate events (name that series) led to and supported putting organization closer to the top of my to-do list.

First and foremost: my printer. I'm pretty sure this was the hand-me-down from David when his company upgraded his printer, so that would make it about ten years old. It's a color printer, but it gave up printing blue before it was passed on to me. That was fine, because I just figured out which colors not to use on documents if distinguishing colors was important. Then, the red gave out. That left black and yellow. That's just not okay. My business' signature colors include magenta, purple, and green. Just can't make that happen with black and yellow.

Second, I realized I'm going to have to copy and/or scan every single cashier receipt for both my editing business and David's remodeling business, because the ink on those suckers fade pretty quickly and certainly would not survive the requisite seven years recommended by the IRS. That in itself was not an issue, but having my printer/copier on top of my roll-top desk (where I cleverly put it to keep it from taking up valuable workspace) made making numerous copies of receipts problematic. This issue became a bit more urgent since I need (or want, depending on how process-oriented you are) to copy/scan every receipt for both businesses from 2016 before I send all my "stuff" to our accountant to prepare income tax statements for said year.

Taking "first" and "second" together, there was no sense going through the burdensome process of moving a printer/copier that needed to be replaced anyway. So, it was time to get a new printer (business write-off...yay!). Since my business is still "blossoming," being thrifty was important. But, it needed to be reliable and print in color (what's a spreadsheet without color?). Print quality wasn't much of an issue, but speed was a consideration. Where do I go to find such a printer along with consumer reviews? Amazon, of course.

I found it with about 30 minutes of poking about. It was less than $60. I ordered it. It was on my doorstep in two days. I don't care how many people insist Amazon is Satan come to destroy humanity, I love Amazon.



Opening the box is always a gleeful experience.
The reviewers on Amazon may have overstated the simplicity of setting it up. There were two pages, back and front, of the "Getting Started" guide.


Simple Set-Up Instructions

When the printer and the online set-up instructions (in addition to the aforementioned printed instructions) failed to agree with one another, I called on Thomas to finish setting it up. Which he did, because he a good son who loves his mother.


Ready to go.

It now works! I can reach printouts from my yoga ball (without falling off of it), and it's easily accessible for copying! Yay!

So, the resulting benefit of this whole exercise was reorganizing my workspace, which happened (the first photo above). My desktop is uncluttered in a wonderfully peaceful and focus-inspiring way (I can actually put an open MS binder in front of me and work onscreen at the same time). I can get to my pen-and-ruler drawer (doesn't everyone have one of those?) without having to move my stand-up organizer. All of my reference books are within easy reach and I don't have to unstack eight of them to get to the ninth. All of my client files are in an actual filing cabinet where I can easily reach them. I can look up from my computer screen and see my most favorite painting (reproduction) when I need a moment of contemplation. I found the perfect spot for the Family Dictionary. And (covered with a protective hand towel) the new printer has become a favored perching spot for Bagheera and BooBoo (because many writers and editors need their animal spirits).

What more can an editor ask for?

My Zen inspiration corner: Cool antique-y lamp. Origami cranes from dear friends' wedding celebration. Mama Bear pencil/pen/ruler cup. Dinosaur skeleton model (guess where that came from). Incense pot. Reading Girl in the background. Perfect. Back to editing...



Saturday, February 4, 2017

Puppy Love


Jenny (12) and Ruger (4-ish)

Friday, February 3, 2017

Helping with the Laundry


Biscuits