edenfalling: circular blue mosaic depicting stylized waves (ocean mosaic)
I got up at 4:00am EST on Thursday, so as to shower, eat breakfast, finish packing, and set up my apartment before heading outside shortly before 5:00am to wait for my cab. In the event, the cab was about ten minutes late, but I still got to the airport and through security in plenty of time. The flight from Ithaca to Detroit went smoothly, and I made my transfer with several minutes to spare even though they were slow to unpack the plane-side checked bags. (These are bags that would be carry-on items in larger planes, but small jets have small overhead compartments so they basically wrap a tag around your suitcase handle, stash it in the cargo compartment with the actual checked bags, and then hand it back to you at the end of the flight.)

cut for length )

As for my reading: I got through the entirety of C. S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain, which was one of my "I am not entirely sure where I picked this book up, but I should probably read it before donating it" books, and another several sections of Religion in the Japanese Experience: Sources and Interpretations, a textbook composed of various themed excerpts from other works and brief explications thereof.

Lewis is, as always, infuriating because I disagree vehemently with a number of his assumptions, with most of his theology, and with a bunch of his implicit politics... and yet he keeps coming to conclusions about human experience and what a good life should look like that are unnervingly close to my own in some respects. So it's a constant swing between, "yes, exactly, that was beautifully put!" and "but HOW can a reasonably intelligent and well-meaning person be so WRONG?!?!" Some other day I should probably quote one of the passages I thought was most apt, and also take a stab at analyzing one point where I think he went most terribly awry.

(Also science has marched on and Lewis's chapter on animal pain and consciousness is consequently even more awful and wrong-headed than when he wrote it, though I think I would have considered it awful and wrong-headed even decades ago because he's arguing from a foundation of theological assumptions which I utterly fail to share. But that is something where I could point to actual science to prove that he is talking through his hat, whereas the other point is more of a philosophical/ethical thing, and thus less subject to hard proof... though one could probably cite various studies on criminal justice and prison reform which I believe tend more toward my side of the argument than toward his. Hmm. *makes note to look into that* But anyway, I'd want to do more research and marshal my arguments in logical order before venturing into that particular alligator swamp.)

And that is what I have been up to for the past three days. :)
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Mom had a small pile of stuff she wanted to give me, which she set aside in a safe place so she'd remember to bring all the items up to Ithaca last weekend when she and Dad visited. Of course this meant she forgot to bring them. *wry*

Anyway, yesterday I received a very carefully packed and taped box containing:

1. A current registration card for the Camry (Ardis's old car, which has become our family's pass-around extra car), to replace my expired one from last year.

2. Two small square bars of Erbario Toscana soap, one orange and one yellow, because I like fancy scented soaps for my bathroom handsoap and Mom had no use for them.

3. Various newspaper clippings she thinks I should read.

4. A bottle of vitamin E nail and cuticle oil, which supposedly helps with both brittle/fragile fingernails (not a problem I have) and overly dry cuticles and surrounding skin, such that they tend to spontaneously split and bleed (a problem I definitely DO have). Mom started using that this past winter and now swears by it.

5. Three pages of terrible poetry I wrote in purple pen and then gave to one of my grandmothers, probably when I was twelve or so. (I have no memory of the poems, but I was really into purple ink for a couple years in my early adolescence and I think my handwriting looks about right for that age.) I think Mom and Dad wound up with papers from all three of my grandmothers, so I'll have to ask to figure out who I inflicted this stuff on.

6. A white tablecloth Mom took to NJ after Thanksgiving to wash and forgot to give back until just now.

7. Two pairs of trousers and one t-shirt for me to try on.

8. A box of four Cadbury Creme Eggs, because they are my delicious and terrible downfall. :)

...

I kind of want to transcribe and post the poetry, just as a reminder to myself and the world that thirteen-year-old kids tend to get terribly overwrought about EVERYTHING. It's embarrassing in retrospect (and sometimes even at the time), but it's normal and over the years I've come to look back on my younger self with at least as much affection as pained winces. *wry*
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1. Last-minute apartment cleanup before my parents' visit, i.e., I cleared and organized the piles of stuff that had collected on my coffee table, living room table, and kitchen counters over the past few months, and temporarily stashed some other stuff in my bedroom to free up my armchair for people to sit on. Also I dusted a few shelves, because reasons.

2. Collected trash from wastebaskets and took the combined bag to the trashcan outdoors. I think one more bag and the can will be ready for curbside pickup -- so, maybe early June?

3. Paid my monthly internet bill.

4. Welcomed my parents and Dottie! ♥

more items under the cut )

14. Peeled the moldy layers off my sprouting onion and sprayed the thing with diluted anti-fungal solution. Hopefully this will help more than it hurts. (It did not seem to cause any harm to my pepper seedlings when I sprayed their little peat cylinders back in March, since they'd acquired fungal spores while they sat in storage for a year.)

15. Dumped the resulting gunk and some other compost into the communal bin.

16. Baked brownies for church coffee hour tomorrow morning.

And I think that's about it! It was a very full two days. :)
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1. Called Cat Saturday night to catch up, since I was too buried in work to arrange a call over the past few months.

2. Boiled a dozen eggs.

3. Went to church Sunday morning to hear Rev. Weis preach. Then attended the special congregational meeting, in which we voted (98.6%!!!) to call her as our new settled minister. She accepted! \o/

more items under the cut )

20. Cleaned AC and otherwise prepped for installation on Friday.

21. Organized another coffee table box (this one containing hundreds of photographs and some photo albums) into a nice basket. I still really need to get the rest of my Germany trip photos from the 90s into the albums and label all of them, and then do something to organize all the others -- because they are completely disorganized. But that is a project for another day. (Uh. Days, probably. Whatever.)

22. Called parents to organize a few more details of their visit Friday and Saturday, which is a thing that is happening. :)
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1. Wrote a tiny story (742 words) as an entry in the 2017 John Mosedale creative writing contest, which is run by the Loon (the annual newsletter/directory of the Star Island Protective League). I then ran it past Vicky for approval, since although the starting inspiration was my recent obsession with maybe purchasing a tiny fruit tree for my kitchen, it then veered into some stuff drawn from conversations I've had with her this past year, and I didn't want to just throw that out for anyone to read if she'd be uncomfortable with that. But she said it was cool, so I submitted it.

2. Shoveled my front steps and sidewalk AGAIN, because when I got home from work on Friday they were buried under a foot and a half of snow and ice, which had taken advantage of the lovely sunny afternoon to depart the roof en masse.

3. Baked brownies!

4. Helped Miss Cactus decorate the rental office counter for spring:


paper flowers and leaves on a black background . paper flowers and leaves on a black background



The leaves are leftover shamrocks from our St. Patrick's Day display, which I did not bother to photograph since it was not terribly exciting. Miss Cactus and I reused them rather than cut out entirely new leaves to go with the flowers. Most of the flowers are colored paper with a bit of Sharpie marker in the centers to make them look a bit livelier and less monochrome, but a few were printed on white paper and given unique coloring jobs, because we could and because arts and crafts are fun. :)

[[original Tumblr post, for when the embedded images inevitably break]]

more items under the cut )

And now I think I will go to bed, because I am kind of brain-fried for no identifiable reason, and I figure sleep is more likely to help than staying up for another hour and trying to force myself into being productive.
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Aunt Jan sent me and Vicky an email last month, the text of which is as follows:

Attention Writers: Loon News postcard just came. The John Mosedale creative writing prize of $50 is still on. It will be give to "the best short fiction, non-fiction, poetry or memoir" - 750 words maximum. Due March 20 if you happen to get inspired.

Also the Loon Theme is "Whimsical or realistic, painted, colored, drawn, photo or digital, anything goes because you've captured what is special about TREES. No larger than 8 1/2 x 11.


(The Loon is the combined annual newsletter and directory for the Star Island Protective League: it contains reports from the League meeting, reports from the Forest Service, photos and yearly updates from each cabin/family, creative works, obituaries, a phone directory, emergency information, an island map, and so on.)

I could maybe flip through my photo archives to see if I have any particularly good tree photos, but there is no money associated with the images.

The Mosedale writing prize, on the other hand...

I won that in 2010 for my poem Inland, Walking South. I have not been able to enter in a bunch of the intervening years (there is often an age restriction on the contest), and did not win the one time I did enter, but I think it would be fun to try again. :)

Jan says the theme only applies to visual submissions, but I figure to be on the safe side anything I submit should also be tree-related. Now I just need to figure out something to write...

Hmm.

Suggestions, anyone?
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Photographed my peppers.

2. Changed the scented wax in my wax melter.

3. Bought, wrote, addressed, stamped, sealed, and mailed birthday cards for my sister and my cousin Ben.

more items under the cut )

14. Made a functional (albeit sketchy and a bit slapdash) outline for Vicky's super-belated gift story. Took a few stabs at making a similar outline for Susan's super-belated gift story, but stalled out since I am still not entirely sure what kind of weirdness I want to use in the worldbuilding. Maybe if I pin down some stuff about the main character and her life/friends, that will constrain the shape of the world around her. *ponders*

In any case, if anyone has suggestions for either story, I am all ears!

Bonus 15. This actually belongs on my previous 'stuff done' post, but since I forgot to write it down there, I will mention it here. I read The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, which I bought for Dad as his Christmas present and then asked to borrow once he was finished because I wanted to read it too. It is about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two Israeli psychologists whose work is at the foundation of the study of humanity's systematic errors in judgment and decision-making; it is both about their theories and about their unlikely friendship. Michael Lewis writes readable and engaging prose, and doesn't get in the way of his own (fascinating) topic. I recommend this book a lot. :)
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Okay, so, outlining! I'm going to think out loud at the internet for a bit, and if you have any constructive feedback, I am all ears. :)

-----

the prompt )

-----

My opening paragraphs are as follows:

I'm not going to tell you the story of how I met Icky, because it's long and embarrassing and mostly irrelevant. What I AM going to tell you is how we helped the Golden Rider fight the evil cleaning lady of the Montana badlands and unkidnap my little sister.

(This is also an embarrassing story. But not quite as much.)


-----

brainstorming and outline )

-----

I am notoriously terrible at estimating story lengths, but I think this should wind up somewhere between 15,000 and 30,000 words. Which is a bit long but totally doable, and also this story is already two years late (and may well be three years late by the time I actually get it written) so I figure I owe Vicky something relatively substantial. *wry*

-----

random points )
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
1. Did not go to church, because the weather was terrible and also it turned out to be a drama/improv program week for the high school kids, which confuses me since I am pretty sure the schedule I was given in December said this was supposed to be a regular week with drama/improv next week. As this is the second time I seem to have been wrong on my dates, I am beginning to suspect that the DRE just straight-up gave me the wrong schedule. I must ask her for the real final program date at tomorrow night's planning meeting, since that's kind of relevant for my Not the IRS availability.

2. Put away the parts of my laundry that were air-drying.

3. Continued tidying my apartment in preparation for company, which included collecting trash from my wastebaskets and taking a bag out to the trashcan.

4. Family visit!

more items under the cut )

...

And now, I think, to bed, because I am very tired.
edenfalling: stylized black-and-white line art of a sunset over water (Default)
Okay. In order of priority, my current writing project lineup goes like this:

1. Finish Cotton Candy Bingo prompt for [livejournal.com profile] wistfulmemory. I know roughly where it's going (as in, I know why the unexpected ambassadors are in the Mountains of Morning, and I know Kazul's going to generally agree to their request/offer), and I have finally managed to find the right arrangement of story elements to lead up to that conversation, but I still need to fit some other stuff around the edges in a hopefully logical way and come up with a good closing paragraph or two, so... a few more days' work, probably. (It's currently at ~1,850 words, FYI. It needs at least 500 more to wrap up, quite possibly more like 1,000. We'll see how that plays out in practice.)

2. Finish editing "Second Chances." Again, I know roughly what I need to insert, and where; the trick will be making it all read smoothly without disrupting what's already there. Another few days.

3. Quick-sketch outline for Susan's very belated gift story. Just set up the scenario, the main characters, and the problem/resolution so I can run them past her and make sure I'm hitting the requested trope correctly without veering into tropes she doesn't like as well. Actual writing will hopefully happen sometime this summer.

4. Quick-sketch outline for Vicky's very belated gift story, because evidently trying to write without one does not work in this particular case. Whimsy needs a framework, or else 'this could go anywhere!' rapidly turns into 'and therefore I have no reason to care.' Again, actual writing will be put off until summer.

5. Start work on Fandom Trumps Hate fic for [personal profile] mme_hardy. We've already emailed a few times to pin down a general prompt and some ancillary details, but I need to work that into an actual outline that can sustain at least 6,000 words of story. And then of course I have to write the story, since I'm not postponing this one until summer! That won't be a hardship; I like the prompt a lot and it involves a bunch of affectionately teasing conversations, which are always fun to write. :)

6. Anything else if inspiration strikes and refuses to go away, but I'm tired enough (argh, work) that I don't think that's terribly likely. *sigh*

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Elizabeth Culmer

June 2017

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