I Do Not Make A Good Invalid

You would think that three straight days on the couch at the end of February would be a great chance to get caught up on my finish-first-draft-before-March goal, wouldn’t you?

Wrong.

Turns out three straight days on the couch is really good for re-watching Firefly, reading library books that don’t actually interest me very much, and fretting about the dishes and laundry.

Sigh.

I wasn’t really sick – just some weird hormonal imbalance stuff – so I also spent most of the time feeling guilty that I was doing nothing when I could, technically, have been up and around and Being Productive. Never mind that said productivity would have resulted in me getting sick, likely, and for much longer than three days. I’m not particularly good at taking care of myself.

Nor, it appears, am I particularly good at creativity when under (self) enforced rest.

I did manage to get a tiny bit more work done on Baby Niece’s quilt. With luck, she might get it in time for her first birthday next October.

On the bright side, I am doing much better today, and can even get off the couch long enough to wash a few dishes and fold a few pieces of laundry at a time, and maybe, just maybe (don’t jinx it, Louise!) get a few words scribbled in between.

Fingers crossed!

(Carl and the girls are heading out to get groceries this afternoon, and on the bottom of the list I included, in CAPS, a request for potted daffodils or crocuses or SOMETHING spring-like. I do love winter, but my eyes are craving color.)

Scrolling through last March's photos, apparently my desire for daffodils is not limited to this year.

Scrolling through last March’s photos, apparently my desire for daffodils is not limited to this year.

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Art

Right now, we have three Ralph Masiello drawing books (Farm, Ancient Egypt, and Fairies, which book I’m going to have to buy because my girls wail whenever we have to return it to the library and risk SOME OTHER KID borrowing it before we can re-borrow it and renew it a thousand times again), two Learn-to-Draw book (forest animals and farm), one Dover drawing book (flowers), and one Encyclopedia of Drawing scattered across the dining room table.

My girls would spend hours every day drawing if I let them, especially Joy. Most of the time they just want to scribble the same picture on a hundred different pieces of paper (which drives me MAD), but they are also very insistent on wanting to have all these art books around, JUST IN CASE they want to use them. And Joy is, in fact, using the Fairy drawing book even as I type, to draw a ballet fairy for her dance teacher. My brother-in-law’s Christmas present was a portrait of the Tooth Fairy to hang in his new dentist office, painstakingly drawn with the help of this same book.

They aren’t, generally, into coloring. We have plenty of crayons, markers, and colored pencils, but for the most part they only want to draw. Unless they are offered Mommy’s colored pencils, of course. That’s a horse of a different color.

I have tucked away somewhere Joy’s first filled sketchbook, Gracie’s first picture of people that actually looked like people, certain treasured drawings that they couldn’t bear to let me throw away. Most papers, however, get filled with drawings and then tossed out at the end of the day, or week, or whenever the apartment starts feeling like it’s overflowing with paper the same way Strega Nona’s home overflowed with pasta after lazy Big Anthony got hold of the magic pasta pot.

And it feels like a waste, like we’re destroying trees and wasting time and never going anywhere. “These scribbles aren’t helping them become better artists!” I fume to myself. “The 50th one looks exactly the same as the first! The drawings from this month look the same as the ones from a month ago! They aren’t developing.” (I am SUCH an American in my ingrained ways of thinking.)

Yet somehow, in my heart, I know that this has value, it isn’t just wasted time or paper, any more than time spent creating imaginary worlds and games is a waste, any more than hours spent in incomprehensible-to-adults play is a waste. I may not be able to reason myself into a place where logic makes sense of it and sees a purpose in it, but I can, at least, shut my brain off and leave them to create their own magic while I pursue my own affairs.

Which, ironically enough, often include scribbling how many words that might seem to many people to be a complete waste of time and space. Value, you see, doesn’t come from other people understanding and approving of our actions. And so without understanding, but with instinctive sympathy, I close my mouth and let them scribble.

And this spring, maybe, we’ll plant some trees to make up for the ones that’ve gone into all the paper we’ve used.

Olympic Writer-in-Training

Me, in December: I’ll have this first draft finished by the end of the month, and then I can start on the book I’m supposed to be writing!

Me, in January: Uh … I’ll have this draft finished by the end this month. Or … maybe February. Yup. No problem. And if I don’t, then it’ll have to be set aside until I’ve finished the first draft of the book I’m supposed to be writing. Pinky swear.

Me, partway through February: After all, the Olympics only come once every two years. Writing can take a back seat for a couple of weeks. I really need to watch this sport … what’s it called again?

Me, one week before the end of February: So … maybe I can squeeze in 20,000 words in eight days? How badly do the kids need schooling? And what’s wrong with frozen dinners? Who needs clean clothing anyway? Can I squeeze my self-imposed deadline into March? Why do I need a deadline, anyway? I’m an indie author! It’s not like I have a contract to fill! Maybe I can write three books at once. Sure. That’s not so hard, right?

Sigh.

I’m tired.

But the Olympics have been awesome. I just need to figure out how to apply half of the drive those athletes have to my own life, and I won’t have to wrestle with these sorts of problems anymore.

*Snort*

Valentines

I sliced my thumb pretty badly Thursday evening as I was chopping onions for supper. After I bled through multiple layers of bandaging, Carl took over the rest of the food prep so we could eat. Then last night, as I was bemoaning the state of the kitchen since I hadn’t been able to wash dishes for two days and we had company coming today, he without saying a word took a break from necessary studying to wash all the dishes.

I didn’t plan to incapacitate my left thumb right around Valentine’s Day, but it certainly did give Carl a wonderful chance to show humble, everyday, extraordinary love on the day set aside to celebrate such things.

It was even better than chocolate.

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I’ve been watching the Olympics for less than one week, and I’m already convinced that I never want to see another commercial. My thoughts are more disjointed, my head is filled with annoying jingles instead of real music, I am more snappish and on edge than usual. I hadn’t even realized how much calmer and more grounded of a person I am without advertisements until I started seeing them again. I love the Olympics, but I will be glad when they are done and I can go back to my (mostly) TV-free life.

And so will my husband, who is even more anti-TV than I am.

My kids are crankier these days too, but as much as I would love to place that blame squarely on commercials, I suspect it has more to do with the fact that it’s February, it’s cold, and we haven’t been able to spend much time outside for about three months.

If the weather cooperates and stays snow instead of ice, we’re taking a break this afternoon and going for a winter walk. I’m hoping it does us all some good.

TTT: Books That Make You Swoon

I usually let a few more days pass between posts, especially when my previous post was SHERLOCK!!!!!!!! … but once again, I couldn’t resist the topic.

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Books that make me swoon! I wasn’t sure at first if this was romantic swooning, or just “I adore this” swooning, or swooning over characters, or what. But I glanced at a few of the other posts, and it seems people are interpreting it however they wish, so I will too. Ha! It’ll be mostly “I adore this” swooning, but occasionally romantic swooning over characters as well.

1. Gaudy Night, Dorothy L Sayers It’s no secret that I am head-over-heels for Lord Peter Wimsey. Talk about swooning! But it’s this book, where the stormy relationship between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane comes to a conclusion, that gets me the most. Not just the characters, but the way they settle their struggles, and the overall relationship and respect between them. The scene at the river’s side? *Faint*

2. Rilla of Ingleside, LM Montgomery I don’t care so much about the romance in this one, though as a kid I always had a crush on Walter. But the sad goodbye to one era, the hopeful looking toward a new, the slow, sorrowful, strong growing-up of Rilla, has always made me very swoony over this book.

3. The Castle of Llyr, Lloyd Alexander Taran Wanderer is my favorite of the Prydain Chronicles, but this one is definitely the most swoon-worthy. A quest to save Eilonwy, who in the end has to make the most gut-wrenching choice to save those she loves. Ah … perfection.

4. North & South, Elizabeth Gaskell Margaret Hale. John Thornton. This book is incredible, you guys. The mini-series BBC did was pretty darn good, too. Richard Armitage as John Thornton? Please excuse me while I go faint quietly in the corner.

5. Persuasion, Jane Austen I adore Anne Elliot. Captain Wentworth’s letter is pretty much the best romantic gesture ever. The scene between Anne and Wentworth at the concert in Bath is one of my favorite scenes between two romantic leads I’ve ever read. I love this book.

6. King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner *Do not read this entry if you’ve not yet read the Queen’s Thief books. PLEASE. I’m as fond of spoilers as anyone, but don’t, don’t ruin this for yourself. Just trust me on this.* It’s not just the relationship between Gen and Irene that I love in this book (although that alone would be enough!). It’s the relationship between Gen and Costis. The relationship between Costis and Teleus. Between Teleus and Irene. Irene and Relius. Relius and Gen. So many relationship, you guys. And all of them heart-rending.

7. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones Sophie. I love Sophie, and I love Howl, and I love Sophie and Howl, and I love this book. Love, love, love.

8. Betsy’s Wedding, Maud Hart Lovelace This picture of the first few years of marriage between Betsy and Joe has always filled me with great joy. And them coming back from their honeymoon? Yes, definitely swoon-worthy.

9. Seaward, Susan Cooper Far less known than her Dark is Rising series, this book is eerie and lovely and sad, and just beautifully written.

10. Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold ISTA. Ista is the best. I love Ista. I want to be Ista. Well, no, because her life was horrible, but her strength and courage and humor are amazing. And her romance, while secondary to her adventures, is highly satisfying.

There you have it! My top ten swoon-worthy books. Head over to The Broke and The Bookish to see what others picked!