Wednesday, January 31, 2007

794 Words, All About Eula

I added 794 words to my novel today. In my sidebar, I've added a little chart to show my novel progress. (HT: A Stop at Willoughby) Chapter Six has been a challenge, but I now have seven of the planned 15 pages written. And the final eight pages are outlined, so it looks like I'm on target to complete the chapter by Friday, as planned.

My character, Eula, was not supposed to be a major character. But she apparently has a mind of her own. Those 794 words were all about Eula.

This writing thing is hard. It took me three hours, including procrastination activities of reading e-mails and Googling old friends, to write those 794 words.

I really need to be more disciplined.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cookies

So I had about 45 minutes between my physical therapist appointment and a conference call. And I'd already gotten everything ready for the conference call earlier this morning. And George was tired from a morning workout of Bach.

What to do, what to do?



I have no self-control whatsoever. I think I'll take these naughty little delights (if there are any left) to the bookstore tomorrow. And leave them there.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Still Life: Zested Orange

I don't know ... I just thought this was one cool-looking picture of an orange.


Monday is E-mail Day

Monday is a day for many things. Monday will especially be e-mail day for me. I've fallen behind in my e-mail correspondence again. It's just that I want to write so much to so many people, so I "wait" until I have time ... and meanwhile, the e-mail falls deeper and deeper into my mailbox.

So, I'm going to mark these out as I write them on Monday.

Cami
Robert
Mark
Jan
Luci
Gary
Rob
Amy
Christi

But I can't write any e-mails until I've spent three hours with my novel. Goal for the week: finish Chapter Six!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Running Again

It looks like I'll be able to run again. A cranial sacral physical therapist straightened out my twisted pelvis. I ran about a half-mile today, partly because I didn't want to overdo it, but mostly because it's all I had time for. I know. Pitiful.

Here's another scene from a recent run attempt. This particular run/walk took place at Lake Junaluska. Pretty, huh?



That lake will probably be frozen tomorrow morning, and those mountains covered with snow.

Very Belated Merry Christmas Cards

I just realized that we haven't sent our Christmas cards and Christmas letters yet. And I'm not sure where they are. But we wrote a letter. We printed out a bunch of copies. We addressed a bunch of envelopes. But we never mailed them.

Guess I'll look for 'em this weekend, revise the Christmas letter to a late-January letter, and mail 'em Monday.

If you're on our Christmas card list, be expecting a little holiday spirit in your mailbox next week!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Six Weird Things About Me

Amy tagged me a few days ago. I am to write six weird things about myself. It's taken me nearly a week to think of any. Here's the best that I could do:

1. Whenever I get scared or nervous, I mutter "Lulu Kitty, Lulu Kitty" under my breath. Like it's a mantra to calm me down. It kind of is. (I got Lulu Kitty when I was 14. She died when I was 30.)

2. Sometimes I hold my cell phone to my ear and pretend to be engaged in conversation, even though no one's on the other end. I do this only in public places when I don't want anyone to talk to me. (I don't know if this is weird. I think a lot of people probably do this.)

3. I think potatoes for breakfast are just ... wrong. Might as well have rice or pasta first thing in the morning. Yuck.

4. If I use the microwave or an "instant" mix, I feel like I'm cheating.

5. I was brainwashed by a guru an arrogant, misguided fundamentalist-Christian-megalomaniac type when I was 21. It's one of those "I-really-ought-to-write-a-book-about-this-someday" things.

6. Nearly every piece of clothing I own is blue. Even though my favorite color is purple.

If you decide to do the "Six Weird Things About Me" meme, let me know, and I'll link your list here!

I Miss My Uphill Runs



I see the physical therapist today. I'll let you know what she says. Personally, I think I have a twisted pelvis. (Sounds bad, doesn't it. But it's not. Just a little painful. And running makes it hurt more.)

I saw a medical doctor on Monday and she had no clue what was wrong with me. She couldn't tell that anything was really wrong. She thought I might have a sprain of some sort. And that my thigh pain "definitely isn't related" to my lower-back pain.

Hmm. Coincidence that they just started at the same exact time?

So I'm going to a not-so-traditional PT. I really hope she can fix whatever it is. I need my running fix!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

So I Was Somewhat Productive

My novel now has a working title. If this were a nonfiction book, I'd announce the working title to everyone. But I'm feeling secretive about it right now. Why is that?

I went to a social function last night, and I have another social function to go to tonight. And I had another social function this morning.

Maybe that's why I'm so depressed. Too much sociability for this introvert.

Regardless, I must say this: working on my novel, and getting a title, did not lift me miraculously out of the encroaching depression. But it did help me feel like I could make it through the rest of the day.

Sinking Back Down Into It

I hate to sit here and write on and on about my own problems ... so I'm not going to do it. But I do seem to be sinking into another depression. I've tried to write several posts, but they end up going nowhere. And I know I owe several e-mails ... I'll get to them in time. Please don't take it personally if you're one of the people waiting for me to respond.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try and be productive.

New Link in Sidebar

The Sacred Everyday is a beautiful new blog from Tonia and Ann V. These are two of my favorite bloggers; I first discovered Tonia (a.k.a. Sparrow) of "Intent" back in my Cubicle Land days, and I found Ann V.'s wonderful blog last year. I'm still trying to figure out how to put the image/link combo in my sidebar using this newfangled Blogger template. It'll be there soon.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Piano: Finally Making Some Progress

Yesterday was my piano lesson. It was a good lesson. A great lesson. I didn't want it to end.

We started with the usual scales and arpeggios. They're sounding good. Finally, after over a year (or has it been two?) of this contrary-motion work, the scales and arps are starting to feel as natural as parallel-motion scales and arps do. I never, ever dreamed this would happen.

I've been practicing the Bach Prelude (No. 3, C# major, WTC I) in rhythms, working on speed. Finally. I finally have all the notes. I finally have all the articulations and dynamics down. I can finally start thinking about speed. So I played it at piano yesterday, and Deborah noted the big improvement over last week. Yes! Only problem: I'm playing it too ebulliently. She said to think divine joy when I play, and I said, "I am! I'm imaging I'm playing it at the beginning of a church service. I'm imaging a cantata, with all of these people singing joyfully of the risen Christ." Ah. That was the problem. I was thinking cantata when I should be thinking keyboard. In addition, I'm letting my excitement and joy overflow (which is not a bad thing, but not a good thing in a Bach prelude apparently), whereas I need to exercise more emotional control and let the music itself do the emoting. In other words, I think I'm playing it like a Baptist when I should be playing it more like a Lutheran.

So my job is to learn to trust the music. To trust the line of the music. Now that I have the notes and everything else down and I work more toward speed, I need to change some of the ways I envision the music. (Oh, I could say, "But I'm an artist! This is the way I envision it!" And I do say that sometimes. But Deborah knows more about this stuff than I do, and I'm trusting her.)

We didn't work on the fugue. It sounds horrible. I'm getting it, but if you've ever worked on a fugue (or listened to someone practice a fugue), you know that it can sound really horrible. I begged off for this week because I want to work on a few other sections before we go over it again. She said okay.

Then we moved on to Liszt. It sounded muddy, oh so muddy. I have a lazy foot. I'm not quite picking the pedal up all the way, so the breaks between measures and phrases and chord changes aren't clean. I know this is because George's pedal is different from that of Deborah's Steinway Grand. I practice on George, then I have to make adjustments on the Steinway. But that's no excuse.

So it sounded muddy. That was one problem. The other two: My right hand is wallowing, and my left hand is plodding. She said the right-hand problem is a common problem with beautiful romantic music: it's so beautiful that we want to stop and milk every beautiful little passage for all it's got. But that's akin to leading people (listeners) on a hike, then stopping to admire every beautiful flower, every interesting tree trunk, every single fern. It's nice, but your listeners start to get impatient: "Get on with it already!"

So I need to keep the "line" of the music in mind. Keep that melody going. Save the slow-downs for the really big moments so that the really big moments really stand out from the rest.

My left hand is plodding, marching along, oom-pah, oom-pah, oom-pah, as if someone was marking time. Now, within the context of the LINE (the right hand), which is to keep moving along, I need to exercise more freedom in the left hand. Not play the left hand so strictly. But, at the same time, don't let the right hand lose its momentum.

This is a challenge. If you're right handed, have you ever tried to keep time to a song on the radio with your right hand, and tap to the melody in with your left hand? It's kind of like that.

So. Deborah was worried that I'd be discouraged because, even though I have both these pieces down cold as far as the notes are concerned, I still have a ways to go ... and the work I have to do is more brain-work than finger-work.

No, I'm not discouraged. I've been wanting to be at this level for a long time. I'm finally getting there.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Running Update

Yep, it's about time for a running update. Tomorrow is my first "long run" since the half-marathon last month. I'll run a whopping six miles at a nice, slow, leisurely pace.

I'm a little worried, though. This thigh/back thing keeps coming back. It hasn't kept me from running, but on the mornings after I run, I definitely feel it, particularly in my lower back. Here's what's really stupid: I'm scared to go to a doctor because I think she'll tell me I have to quit running. But I'm going to set up an appointment (again) next week. I promise.

I just love running. Tonight Deborah and I had double-chocolate cake with Rice Dream (after a dinner of salad, cornbread, and butternut-hominy stew). And I so enjoyed dessert because I knew I was going to run off most of it tomorrow.

Hub and I are planning a brrr-cold-weather backpacking trip in February, maybe to celebrate Valentine's Day. Running has made me so much stronger ... I'll be able to backpack up those hills with no effort at all. (Heh ... we'll see.)

Anyway, that's the running update. Have a good weekend, y'all.

Don't Forget ...

... to wish Mr. Hugh and Mrs. Gwen (my parents) a

Happy 50th Anniversary!

You can do so in the comments, if you feel so inclined.

Note to Belinda the Winner

Belinda, please e-mail me so I can get your address and send you your prize. Thanks!

That Fractious Chapter 6

Chapters 1 through 5 went amazingly well. I predicted that I would have the rough draft of the whole novel written by the end of February. Then came Chapter 6. Folks, I started Chapter 6 a month ago. It hasn't been easy.

See, my "mom" character made a comment in Chapter 3, a totally wrong, out-of-character comment. And then the daughter-in-law responded in a ... well, in a "Waterfall" way. Not cool. Waterfall responses are much too wimpy for novel material. And this response was also an "out-of-character" thing for this particular character.

So I went on to Chapter 4 (which introduces new characters who don't interact with the Chapter 3 characters) and Chapter 5 (which addresses a completely different situation), and then Chapter 6 (where I return to the Chapter 3 characters) ... and I was stuck.

So here's what I had to do the other day: Go back to Chapter 3. Rewrite whole parts of it. Fix a few things in Chapter 4. Don't worry about Chapter 5. And get started (again) on Chapter 6.

So I wrote about 1,100 words of Chapter 6, re-read what I'd written, and thought, "No. No, this still isn't right. Some of it's right, but Main Character (MC) is taking on a characteristic that I find extremely offensive. Not that I'm against creating offensive characters, but it won't work for MC--my protagonist, for crying out loud--to be like this. MC will have faults, to be sure, but I would have a hard time accepting this one.

So I sat down today, sans word processor, and opened my old-fashioned college-ruled notebook. I asked myself some old questions: Why am I writing this? Why does this novel want to be written? What's important in this story?

So. I came up with some answers. They included some creative-writing terms, so I apologize for sounding like I'm in a fiction-writing class. But some of the books I've read lately have been more "plot-driven" than "character-driven," and my vision of my novel from the beginning has been to have it be "character-driven." And I think I was trying to force a "plot-driven" flavor to the scene. I don't know why. I really don't enjoy plot-driven stories nearly as much as character-driven.

I supposed melding the two could work, perhaps, if I were a more seasoned novel-writer, but the result was that the story became more exciting but the characters flattened right out. Not good. I want the story to be interesting enough for readers to want to keep reading, but I don't want to sacrifice the integrity of my characters in the process.

I wrote a rough outline of Chapter 6 (again), but this time I thought seriously about character, about internal conflicts, and less about "plot appeal." The characters can make the plot, if the characters are worth their salt. That's where I need to work on things.

So. I've spent the morning unraveling, then setting things up to start weaving again. I've nothing to show for it on the page, but the pages should come easier tomorrow than they've been doing for the past month.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Belinda, You Are A Winner!

Belinda, as winner of the "Name That Goo" contest of last week, you get to choose a prize. Below are your choices. Please let me know what you would like! Note: You MUST choose from the choices below!

Prize #1: Goody's Headache Powder! This stuff works. Of all the headache medicines in the world, this one's my very favorite.

Prize #2: Your very own Kit-Kat bar, bought by me at the Texaco in historic yet touristy (or touristy yet historic) Cherokee, North Carolina.



Prize #3: A signed copy of The Hubster's very own book, America, One Step at a Time. It includes the chapter where he and I fall madly in love. Don't worry, it's PG-rated.



Prize #4: A lovely pocket-sized Spanish-English dictionary. (Note: You should only ask for this if you can read fine print.)



So, Belinda, what'll it be? Take your time ... I know it's hard to decide when you have so many tempting choices!

You can thank Linda for the idea of giving out such larger-than-life prizes. Don't you wish you could "be Linda"? Har har har ...

How Well Do You Know Me?

Leaderboard
Create your own Friend Quiz here


I predict that Gwen will get the highest score.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

It's a Beautiful Thing

My first made-from-scratch Mardi Gras king cake, pre-icing (click on photo for a close-up of the baby):



My first made-from-scratch Mardi Gras "King J" cake, post-icing, and post pre-icing theft:



My Mardi Gras "King J" cake, surrounded by other lovelies at this weekend's Southern Ruck at Nantahala Outdoor Center:



It was really good. Luckily, the cake thieves did not kidnap the baby.

Friday, January 12, 2007

And The Winner Is ...

The winner of the photo contest is Belinda, who correctly guessed Answer C, that the grey goo was frosting made to celebrate Ohio State's victory over Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

If you follow football, then you probably know that Ohio State lost miserably to Florida in Monday night's game. I don't follow football (unless it's LSU), but I'm married to a dyed-in-the-wood Buckeye fan, which means ... I know when Ohio State wins, and when they lose. And they lost Monday night.

But before they lost, I made a Waterfall-original Ohio State Buckeyes cake. It featured the school's colors, scarlet and grey.



Hubster loved his cake, which was shaped like an "O" for "Ohio."



Beneath the grey icing was a luscious red velvet cake.



If that wasn't enough, Hubster hung up his Ohio flag in our living room. This flag was a Christmas present from Yours Truly.



Congratulations, Belinda! You've obviously had much greater luck than the hapless Buckeyes this year. I'll look for the perfect contest prize for you this weekend and will post it on Monday.

Thanks for playing, everyone! This has been such fun!

And the answer is ...

Several of you correctly guessed the identity of the grey goo of my picture contest. Dana, Jammie J., Dulciana, and Linda all guessed it or were closer-than-close: it's frosting.



Miz Delphi Chassis and Linda win honorable mentions for their creative, cat-related guesses.

But no one guessed what this grey goo would be used for. So I'll give you a multiple choice test:

a. It's not cake frosting; it's hair frosting, a special kind that actually hides the grey in your hair.

b. It was for a birthday cake for a friend who is turning 40; the theme of the party is "Old and Gray."

c. It was made to celebrate Ohio State's victory over Florida in the BCS Championship Game.

d. It was part of a fun little party to celebrate the long-awaited completion of our bathroom remodeling. It was, indeed, meant to look like spackling. Other "snacks" included "baseboard cookie bars," "rain-showerhead cookies," and a bowl of punch with a rubber ducky swimming around in it.

e. It wasn't supposed to be grey. The color was actually a mistake. I should just use the canned Duncan Hines stuff in the future.

Correct guess wins a PRIZE!

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Fifty Things We Learned in 2006

Here's a list of 50 Things We Know Now--things that were discovered, learned, or otherwise hypothesized in 2006. A few examples, with my comments in parentheses:

2. The part of the brain that regulates reasoning, impulse control and judgment is still under construction during puberty and doesn't shift into autopilot until about age 25. (Why am I not surprised?)

4. The 8-foot-long tooth emerging from the head of the narwhal whale is actually a type of sensor that detects changes in water temperature, pressure and particle gradients. (I have always wondered what it was for ...)

6. Cheese consumption in the United States is expected to grow by 50 percent between now and 2013. (So Americans are getting cheesier than ever, heh heh.)

19. Red wine contains anti-inflammatory chemicals that stave off diseases affecting the gums and bone around the teeth. (I'll drink to that!)

25. Women gain weight when they move in with a boyfriend because their diet deteriorates, but men begin to eat more healthy food when they set up a home with a female partner. (Yes. Experience has proven this out for Hub and me.)

48. Red wines from southwest France and Sardinia boast the highest concentrations of chemical compounds that promote heart health. (I'll drink to that ... again!)

Link found at 2Blowhards.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Pictures

It has been brought to my attention that I don't put enough pictures on this blog. Pictures are, indeed, worth a thousand words. I just prefer to write the thousand words. But here are some pictures for your amusement and edification.

This is a picture of the rotted woodpile formerly known as Our Deck:





This is Hideaway, also known as the Little Goosey, taking a nap on Hubster's ratty pillow that he won't throw away.





This is jambalaya.




These are some people I've never met some of my favorite family members: Hubster, me, Mrs. Gwen (who will hate this picture because she always hates pictures of herself), Mu, and Stu.




Now, here's a mystery picture. What fun! Who wants to guess what it is, and what, specifically, it's used for? First one to get the right answer to both will win a PRIZE!



If you'd like to wager a guess, leave it in the comments and I'll let you know if you've won!

Sunday, January 7, 2007

I'm Changing My Name

I'm not really changing my name. But I've decided to start going by my real name (Nina) rather than by my trail name, Waterfall. It's not like I've ever truly been anonymous here, anyway.

Oh. It's pronounced Nee-nuh, not Nye-nuh.

Hubster's still Hubster. I actually call him that in real life, and not just on this blog. :)

Out O' Touch

Do I owe you e-mail? Probably. Have I commented on your blog lately, dear reader? Probably not. I am deeply sorry and humbly repent. I have no excuse, other than I'm never online. I have lots of things going on in the universe of my noggin, though.

For one thing, there's this Relay For Life thing. It's about two or three hours' worth of work each week, which is not much, but there's a lot to keep up with, between contact people news deadlines, events, etc. Even though the official kickoff isn't until Tuesday, this thing definitely kicked off for me several weeks ago.

Then I'm madly gathering things together for a proposal for which I'd be writing technical stuff on a contract basis. If we get the contract, that means I'll be working in Asheville, eight hours a day, five days a week, for part of the summer, doing technical writing work.

Things are slow at the bookstore, now that the halfbacks have flown south and the holidays are over. (Halfbacks are people from up north who retire to Florida, then buy a summer home in western North Carolina.) We start on inventory and some remodeling in another week or so. I'm looking forward to it. I also need to start planning the creative-writing workshop I'll be teaching here in another month or two. I almost forgot about that.

My novel is still in the works, though I've let writing jobs, the bookstore, and the holidays get in the way of it. Tomorrow I'm starting back on my three-hour-a-day fiction-writing schedule.

Piano is going well. Again, I've let non-piano things get in the way of it in recent weeks, but am settling into a regular piano schedule for 2007. Finally.

I've been cooking a lot of comfort-style food: ham-and-bean stew, chicken and dumplings, coffee cakes, and such. Tomorrow night I'm making a big pot of jambalaya. Hubster invited some friends over to watch the Ohio-Florida game. The introvert in me is terrified at the idea of having people over, but the cook in me is reassuring her that everything will be fine because the jambalaya will do all the talking for me.

We're almost finished remodeling the bathroom. It's taking forever. Mike the Plumber comes over tomorrow to tell us if the sink we bought will work in our bathroom. It might not.

We've thrown away a lot of stuff lately, and we've delivered several big bags to Goodwill. Hub and I have done a LOT of cleaning, organizing, and straightening out lately. It's amazing how we can accumulate so much junk. And my books are procreating again, I've discovered. I think it has something to do with the fact that I'm working at a bookstore.

I've been running short distances. I ran five miles a couple of days ago, the most I've run since the half-marathon last month. I'm ready to start building up my mileage again, though I don't feel any great desire to train for another race. I just want to run.

That's about it. I'm sorry to have been such a boring blogger, and such a horrible blog-reader of late. Things'll get better, I'm sure. More later!

Friday, January 5, 2007

This Old Thing?

My old hat is for sale! I wore this headpiece in 1988 as the "Maid of Fire" in a Mardi Gras ball.



And here I am in all my fiery glory.


Yes, I was an extremely shy, quiet person. Still am.

So ... do you think Clinton and Stacey would let me keep this outfit?

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Relay For Life

Since I didn't have enough on my plate (ha), I've agreed to be the marketing chair for my county's Relay For Life efforts in 2007. It's a volunteer position, and I wasn't sure if I needed yet another unpaid job on my agenda, but I decided to take on the responsibility anyway, as a way of honoring Cyril Ann McBride and Steve Cavanaugh, both friends from Louisiana, both of whom lost their lives to cancer in 2006.

So, during the next four or five months, you'll see references to Relay For Life among my blog posts. I'll mostly be writing about Relay For Life from a newbie marketing person's point of view, but I'll also point you toward ways that you can help support the American Cancer Society through RFL efforts, if you're so inclined.

My RFL update for today should be titled "Stumbling and Bumbling." I'm a writer, not a phone conversationist, but a lot of this job so far has involved calling people up on the phone. Fellow introverts, you know what a joy it is to call complete strangers on the phone and discuss things that you yourself are just learning about.

It's going to get easier, though. I'm excited about playing a role in this effort. I'm making lots of contacts with news media, which is a good thing for this freelance writer. More importantly, I'm glad to be able to honor the memory of friends and family whose lives have been shortened by cancer.

Relay For Life is the major fundraiser of the American Cancer Society. You can read more about it here.