What Careful Soil Testing Revealed About My Level of Patience

Soil testing in my garden accurately measured the level of my patience.

Listen to me read this post:

Dave tested his soil and found out that it was very low in phosphorous. He went to a seed plant, bought some, and added phosphorous to his garden. Now his potato plants are three feet tall.

“Do you want to borrow my kit?” he asked and so I did. I went out to the garden and dug down about four inches into what I considered to be the most depleted soil in the garden plot. I brought a trowel full of soil into the house to dry overnight.

The next morning and according to instructions, I mixed one part of the soil with five parts of water, swirled the mixture gently in a jar, and waited for the dirt and water to separate out a bit so that I could retrieve a small, fairly clear sample.

Dave’s phosphorous-filled garden soil produced beautiful vegetables.

The instructions included with the kit said that this separation could take as little as half-an-hour (Perfect!) or as long twenty four hours. “Twenty four hours!” I cried out in disbelief and felt the impatience start to gnaw. The next morning the soil still hadn’t settled to the bottom of the jar and the water was murky as heck. Still, I took a sample using the eyedropper provided and filled the plastic tube to the fourth line with the muddy water.

I was testing for phosphorous first hoping this might get me three feet tall potato plants like Dave’s.

Carefully separate the two halves of one of the capsules. Pour the powder into the tube.

Step 2 of the phosphorous test sounded pretty easy. I retrieved a conveniently coloured-coded blue capsule, grabbed each end and gave it a gentle twist. This caused a bend in the plastic, but the capsule didn’t open. Next I tried to snap the capsule in half at the spot where the two halves had been originally joined. Again, the capsule bent but didn’t open.

Finally, I took out a cutting board, placed the mangled blue capsule on it, and started stabbing at it with the pointy end of a sharp kitchen knife. This made a hole large enough for me to expand the opening by twisting the knife blade farther into it. By now, the only thing about the misshapen capsule that resembled its former self was its colour.

I held the capsule over the tube which held the water sample, turned it over, and spilled most of the powder on the kitchen counter. I muttered a phrase of which my mother would not have approved and spooned as much of the powder as I could off the counter and, bit by bit, into the tube.

After placing the colour-coded cap on the tube, I gave it a gentle shake, and placed the tube in its holder. Almost immediately this experiment determined two things:

  1. Our garden soil contains almost no phosphorus.
  2. My husband is in charge of opening any remaining capsules needed for testing.

Following this single test, we went away for a week. I put the jar containing the dirt and water mixture in the fridge hoping that the soil would settle and the water would rise while we were gone. When we returned home I flung open the fridge door to see my jar of test water as muddy as before. Impatience visited again. “It’s been a week!”

Still, I thought I might as well use the sample to try another test. I filled one more tube with murky water and asked my husband kindly to open an appropriately colour-coded capsule.

Cap the tube and shake thoroughly.

I got a bit dizzy but the motion really relaxed my muscles. Then I realized that the instruction’s author was referring to the tube. Shake the tube thoroughly. After I regained my balance, I did.

Allow colour to develop for 10 minutes.

Ten minutes. That sounds about right. I set the timer on the stove and counted down. When the timer went off, the water had not changed colour.

“I bet the cold fridge killed whatever was supposed to show up in this test!” I proclaimed with no science to back my theory. Science doesn’t matter these days. No one with a different education knows more than me. What matters is what I believe in my gut and I believed that the soil sample was ruined. I’d have to gather a new sample and wait twenty four hours before doing anymore testing.

And so I tossed the soil and water mixture into the garden with disgust and rinsed out the jar. Then I saw that the liquid in the tube had turned green. Soil testing proved that our soil is full of alkali and I am full of, among other things, impatience.

Speaking of patience…

I received a note in my mailbox recently to inform me of an upcoming inconvenience. The brief notice closed with this:

Thank you for your patients!

Editors always notice things like this. Mostly I think it’s funny but I don’t laugh too long because it’s also humbling. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when writing and I plan to continue.

This topic reminds me of my second year of university during which I did not give a hoot about academics. Obviously. One morning, I wandered into my English class to see that the professor had scrawled across the whiteboard a very embarrassing phrase I’d misused in my most recent essay. Mercifully, she didn’t reveal the identity of the student who produced that phrase which, in turn, produced a lot of laughter.

Partly because of this experience, I laugh shortly and correct gently.

If you’re writing something, a piece as short as a newsletter or a project as long as a memoir, I can help. I work as both a content writer and as an editor.

Thanks for reading. Take care and keep safe. ~ Lori

Pigeon-holed

Open_cardboard_box_husky

Here’s a repost all about how I don’t like being categorized as one type of writer or another. I can’t choose between genres and I can’t pretend to be one thing. I’m multi-facetet, so take what you like and leave the rest.

We try to sort people into boxes and when they don’t fit, we are not that happy. Human beings sure don’t like surprises when it comes to human behavior. Good luck controlling and predicting that. I learned a lot when I wrote my novel Denby Jullsen, Hughenden about how folks are disappointed when they don’t get the behaviour they expect.

Before writing Denby, my first book-length fiction for adult readers, I’d worked for several years for The Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune as their weekly faith columnist. This was great! This position kept me writing and ultimately it led to the publication of my first book.

Listen to me read this post:

A friend of mine who had been a faithful follower of my faith column felt proud when I released Denby. She lent the book to her friends, older women who had also enjoyed my column. They were not impressed. What had happened to Lori? She never made references to sex in her weekly column, she never wrote about drinking, and she certainly never swore in her faith pieces.

IMG_6676
A recent picture of me. Now I’m used to disappointing others.

My friend and her cohorts had inadvertently tripped over one of the differences between a newspaper column and fiction for grown-ups. The borrowed book was unsettling. Feathers flew in the henhouse.

Again, more recently, someone else expressed disappointment with the sexy bits in Denby. It’s been a few years now and I’ve had to explain to some ruffled readers that, if a writer does it correctly, characters in books behave like actual people. They have physical relationships, experience lust, and then lose interest. Some characters drink too much and even swear occasionally while others appear as straight as pins. Later on, those straight characters are the ones who go right off the rails.

Does the writer always get to choose how her creations will behave? Heck no. I try to fit my characters into boxes that suit the plot. I slot them into a timeline and place them on a carefully-mapped trajectory. They usually get to where I intend them to go, but they do unexpected things along the way. They swear, have sex, and have a drink, those unruly, realistic characters.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Fictional characters aren’t the only ones we like to strictly categorize. For years, I tried in vain to neatly compartmentalize myself. “From now on, I will act this way.” It rarely worked out for me. The container into which I stuffed myself kept expanding and changing shape. I’ve accepted now that this will be the case until I’m placed in that final box and dropped into the ground. In fact, now I see all this changing and shifting as something to celebrate, but it took a long time to foster that point of view.

Throughout my life I’ve watched as others like me have tried unsuccessfully to fit into too tight a niche. They believe they should be a certain way. It never quite works out for them, either. I’ve also witnessed people confined by the rigid expectations of others. Living under the weight of cruel control is a joyless, soulless existence.  I’ve had the sorrow of seeing some die while still trapped by their restrictive designations, and I’ve felt my heart soar at seeing others break free of their restraints and fly. It can go either way.

Denby CoverI know I’ve said it before and it’s still true. People are complicated. We are full of surprises and often hard to predict. Yet, we try to mold ourselves and others into what we expect. This leads to a range of reactions from mild disappointment to full-out fury. To avoid disappointment and anger we could learn to accept our changing, unsteady human nature. But that would mean tearing down a whole lot of walls and gaining a fresh new perspective.  Sometimes it’s just easier to pigeon-hole ourselves and everyone around us.

If you haven’t signed up to follow my blog by email or here on WordPress, please consider doing so. If you’re signed up, you won’t miss a blog post. Thanks for reading and take care. ~ Lori

Misplaced Identity

Wallace Stegner House
The Wallace Stegner House where I got to stay for two weeks one summer long ago.

I love rereading my own posts sometimes to see what has changed in my life and what has stayed the same. I wrote this post last April, so not that long ago. I feel much more like writing now than I did then, but I am still label-less. Sometimes friends or family members introduce me, casually mentioning that I’m a writer. They have the best intentions, of course, and likely think it’s interesting. It has been interesting at times. Mostly though, being described as a writer or author or any one thing makes me just a bit uncomfortable. I suspect that’s something that will never change.

I hope you have a very happy Friday and a lovely weekend! ~ Lori

Different things matter to me now. I realized this when I opened up this old scrapbook full of articles about me and emails congratulating me for winning awards, and for almost winning awards. The article was great, so I cut it out carefully and scanned it so I could share it with you, dear reader.

Listen to me read this here:

Back in 2005, the summer after I bought Grandma’s house but wasn’t yet living here, I was awarded a two-week stay in the Wallace Stegner House in breathtakingly-beautiful Eastend, Saskatchewan. (Arguably it’s the east end of nowhere but, as I mentioned, it’s an astonishingly lovely bit of nowhere.) The Wallace Stegner House is a retreat for artists of all genres. Poets, sculptors, novelists, painters, and playwrights apply to stay in this house and some lucky ones are granted the opportunity.

stegner_150-53fd9cc7e0c2817e5842c16de494867cdca6c7f3-s6-c30
Wallace Stegner, from quotesgram.com

Wallace Stegner was born in 1909 and died in 1993 at the age of 84. He won several awards for his writing including the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the National Book Award in 1977. In his autobiography, Wolf Willow, Mr. Stegner tells about the childhood years he spent in Eastend, Saskatchewan. While growing up, he also lived in Great Falls, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The best thing about this article is that it’s an interview with me conducted by me! I’d forgotten I’d done this. The folks who support and manage the artist retreat, and keep it full of interesting residents, wanted to somehow promote my stay. Being a newspaper columnist at the time, I offered to do a write-up about myself. I thought it was more engaging to write it interview style than as a bio piece. I laughed out loud when I found this old article this morning that was full of me talking to myself. Not so different than many of the days I spend hanging around the house by myself lately…

As I flipped through that old scrapbook, I remembered how important becoming a writer had been to me. The scribbles and comments, the letters and emails that filled those 40X30 cm. pages told of a young woman who was striving to establish her dream identity. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer. More than anything, I craved a solid, successful identity.

LoriWallaceStegnerHouse

 

This morning, this obvious desire that I used have to become a certain “someone” surprised me a little. I mean, I recall wanting it, that badge for myself, that title. What I can’t quite pin down is when I lost track of that identity. When did I un-label myself? When did I lose my writer identity? Somewhere along the line, I simply stopped caring about being a writer.

People change. Sometimes change happens overnight and sometimes it happens over years. For me, the need to establish and maintain my writerly identity faded gradually, so gradually, in fact, that I never really noticed it happening. I don’t miss it, that leaky little life raft that my ego clung to, that fragile identity which now I seem to have misplaced. I think I’ll be just fine without it.

If you liked what you read here, please feel free to share it to your own social media networks. That would be great. Please also consider following me right here on WordPress or through your email account. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next time. ~ Lori

“Yesterday’s over my shoulder, so I can’t look back for too long.” – Jimmy Buffett

 

What Really Matters

Official Grad

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a good long weekend. This is a re-post of an earlier article. As I wrap up two weeks of vacation, it’s good to remember as I head in the direction of home, what really matters. Take care and enjoy!

Starting a business is hard! What’s more difficult yet is trying not to become completely self-absorbed while working to start a business. These nights, I dream of advertising. My thoughts constantly turn to content marketing and customer-engagement strategies. I can get a little too focused when undertaking a project. This is both good (if you’re my customer) and bad (if you’re me attempting to live a balanced life).

When reading another writer/editor’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that being able to pursue a meaningful career is a privilege. The blogger reminded me that I’m educated and live in a wealthy part of the world. This gives me a head start. He went on to say that there are people all over this big old world for who job success means survival, getting enough food and water to make it through another day. His blog post put things in perspective.

Listen to me read this post:

These days, it’s easy for me to lose perspective, to become caught up in the small things. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. It’s not difficult to know what really matters, but it does take stopping for a moment to remember.

IMG_1809
Deer on a hillside during an autumn evening walk.

Peace of mind matters.

Peace of mind and heart really matter. If we have these things, we are a benefit to the world. When we lack happiness, we contribute to the overall miserableness of the world. I don’t think the world needs our contribution in this area. But the planet and its inhabitants need our happiness, our support, and our encouragement.

Helping others is fulfilling.

Helping others matters. I was lucky this summer to get in touch with a charity that supports a cause that’s important to me. I do some volunteer editing for them and though it’s a cliché, I get way more out of this experience than I put into it. Editing and writing is what I do, and it’s fulfilling to use my skills to help.

Getting off devices and into the real world matters.

Being in the real world and off of devices really matters. As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time on my computer. That’s how it goes, and having begun my career using an electric typewriter, I’m grateful for a word-processing program.

IMG_4157.jpg
A lone, frosty tree.

Thankful for technology or not, I try to get out and walk every day. I crave the touch of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. I like to feel my muscles moving my skeleton along the sidewalks and country roads. I love the soft sound of wind in the grass and of crows in treetops plotting their next migratory move. Technology helps me work and social media give me a little rush, but being outside makes me feel alive.

Quiet contemplation matters.

While getting outside is important, so is going inside. For me to realize what matters in life, it’s most useful to just sit quietly and clear my mind. I like looking at my thoughts, watching them swirl around and finally settle as I relax. Quiet contemplation restores peace of mind and makes room for perspective. This is how I stop to consider what really does matter.

Me in a big shovel
Me experiencing the real world.

It’s a rare privilege.

It’s so easy to start striving for what I think I want and to forget that being able to run down a dream is a rare privilege and a wonderful opportunity. A very few of us get to even try to do what we want with our lives. Today, I was reminded that I am one of the fortunate few.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Please follow my blog here. Sign up to receive my latest posts right in your email inbox. Thanks for being here with me!

~ Lori

 

 

 

 

 

Misplaced Identity

Wallace Stegner House
The Wallace Stegner House where I got to stay for two weeks one summer long ago.

I love rereading my own posts sometimes to see what has changed in my life and what has stayed the same. I wrote this post last April, so not that long ago. I feel much more like writing now than I did then, but I am still label-less. Sometimes friends or family members introduce me, casually mentioning that I’m a writer. They have the best intentions, of course, and likely think it’s interesting. It has been interesting at times. Mostly though, being described as a writer or author or any one thing makes me just a bit uncomfortable. I suspect that’s something that will never change.

I hope you have a very happy Friday and a lovely weekend! ~ Lori

Different things matter to me now. I realized this when I opened up this old scrapbook full of articles about me and emails congratulating me for winning awards, and for almost winning awards. The article was great, so I cut it out carefully and scanned it so I could share it with you, dear reader.

Listen to me read this here:

Back in 2005, the summer after I bought Grandma’s house but wasn’t yet living here, I was awarded a two-week stay in the Wallace Stegner House in breathtakingly-beautiful Eastend, Saskatchewan. (Arguably it’s the east end of nowhere but, as I mentioned, it’s an astonishingly lovely bit of nowhere.) The Wallace Stegner House is a retreat for artists of all genres. Poets, sculptors, novelists, painters, and playwrights apply to stay in this house and some lucky ones are granted the opportunity.

stegner_150-53fd9cc7e0c2817e5842c16de494867cdca6c7f3-s6-c30
Wallace Stegner, from quotesgram.com

Wallace Stegner was born in 1909 and died in 1993 at the age of 84. He won several awards for his writing including the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the National Book Award in 1977. In his autobiography, Wolf Willow, Mr. Stegner tells about the childhood years he spent in Eastend, Saskatchewan. While growing up, he also lived in Great Falls, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The best thing about this article is that it’s an interview with me conducted by me! I’d forgotten I’d done this. The folks who support and manage the artist retreat, and keep it full of interesting residents, wanted to somehow promote my stay. Being a newspaper columnist at the time, I offered to do a write-up about myself. I thought it was more engaging to write it interview style than as a bio piece. I laughed out loud when I found this old article this morning that was full of me talking to myself. Not so different than many of the days I spend hanging around the house by myself lately…

As I flipped through that old scrapbook, I remembered how important becoming a writer had been to me. The scribbles and comments, the letters and emails that filled those 40X30 cm. pages told of a young woman who was striving to establish her dream identity. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer. More than anything, I craved a solid, successful identity.

LoriWallaceStegnerHouse

 

This morning, this obvious desire that I used have to become a certain “someone” surprised me a little. I mean, I recall wanting it, that badge for myself, that title. What I can’t quite pin down is when I lost track of that identity. When did I un-label myself? When did I lose my writer identity? Somewhere along the line, I simply stopped caring about being a writer.

People change. Sometimes change happens overnight and sometimes it happens over years. For me, the need to establish and maintain my writerly identity faded gradually, so gradually, in fact, that I never really noticed it happening. I don’t miss it, that leaky little life raft that my ego clung to, that fragile identity which now I seem to have misplaced. I think I’ll be just fine without it.

If you liked what you read here, please feel free to share it to your own social media networks. That would be great. Please also consider following me right here on WordPress or through your email account. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next time. ~ Lori

“Yesterday’s over my shoulder, so I can’t look back for too long.” – Jimmy Buffett

 

Gus Tullson – Chapter One

Hello everyone! Here’s the first draft chapter of my upcoming novel called Gus Tullson. You can read the first little bit here and listen to the whole thing right here, too.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by my site. If you haven’t already followed me here on WordPress, please consider doing so. It’s the best way to make sure you don’t miss any new posts.

Thanks for listening and reading. I hope you enjoy meeting Gus.

Warmest wishes,

Lori

Prestlin Garage 1920
Preslin’s garage on Hughenden’s main street, 1920.

Chapter One – Gus

After all he’d been through Gus Tullson didn’t expect much from life. This was probably best as the years ahead didn’t have much better in store for him than the years behind. Not that there weren’t moments of joy for Gus Tullson. There were many. They came with the birth of his child, with the first snowfall each year, and with the death of his wife.

Yes, there were many times of happiness, several tastes of sweet pleasure in Gus’s life. These times didn’t outweigh, could never outweigh, the tragedies that befell him. It’s arguable whether Gus’s death was the greatest tragedy of his life. I suppose that as the reader, you’ll have to make that judgement for yourself. It’s what we all have to do regarding any circumstance, isn’t it?

WW1 Propaganda 3

Gus Tullson, being the youngest son of four, said goodbye to his friends and family and boarded that ship from Norway with so many other hopefuls, and arrived on the Canadian Prairies in the spring of 1914. Of course, he had no money of his own. That’s why he needed to leave Norway, needed to strike out on his own. There was nothing left at home for him and maybe, just maybe something to be discovered in this bright land, shining with equal parts wheat fields and optimism.

Work was easy to come by for a strong-backed twenty-one year old, and Gus worked hard building fences and repairing boardwalks. During his first summer in Canada, he painted the exterior of  the hotel in Hughenden and during the day for a few weeks following that job, he washed dishes in the kitchen there. He shoveled out the stalls in the livery barn, and stacked and loaded wood in the local lumberyards.

CPR Station

He didn’t say much and this seemed just fine with everyone Gus met. They filled the silence left by Gus themselves, if they were the sort, with conversation, jokes, gossip or complaints. If they weren’t the sort, they nodded grimly and moved on. These were the folks Gus preferred…

 

Listen to me read the draft of Chapter One:

IMG_6459

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pigeon-holed

Open_cardboard_box_husky

Here’s a repost all about how I don’t like being categorized as one type of writer or another. I can’t choose between genres and I can’t pretend to be one thing. I’m multi-facetet, so take what you like and leave the rest.

We try to sort people into boxes and when they don’t fit, we are not that happy. Human beings sure don’t like surprises when it comes to human behavior. Good luck controlling and predicting that. I learned a lot when I wrote my novel Denby Jullsen, Hughenden about how folks are disappointed when they don’t get the behaviour they expect.

Before writing Denby, my first book-length fiction for adult readers, I’d worked for several years for The Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune as their weekly faith columnist. This was great! This position kept me writing and ultimately it led to the publication of my first book.

Listen to me read this post:

A friend of mine who had been a faithful follower of my faith column felt proud when I released Denby. She lent the book to her friends, older women who had also enjoyed my column. They were not impressed. What had happened to Lori? She never made references to sex in her weekly column, she never wrote about drinking, and she certainly never swore in her faith pieces.

IMG_6676
A recent picture of me. Now I’m used to disappointing others.

My friend and her cohorts had inadvertently tripped over one of the differences between a newspaper column and fiction for grown-ups. The borrowed book was unsettling. Feathers flew in the henhouse.

Again, more recently, someone else expressed disappointment with the sexy bits in Denby. It’s been a few years now and I’ve had to explain to some ruffled readers that, if a writer does it correctly, characters in books behave like actual people. They have physical relationships, experience lust, and then lose interest. Some characters drink too much and even swear occasionally while others appear as straight as pins. Later on, those straight characters are the ones who go right off the rails.

Does the writer always get to choose how her creations will behave? Heck no. I try to fit my characters into boxes that suit the plot. I slot them into a timeline and place them on a carefully-mapped trajectory. They usually get to where I intend them to go, but they do unexpected things along the way. They swear, have sex, and have a drink, those unruly, realistic characters.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Fictional characters aren’t the only ones we like to strictly categorize. For years, I tried in vain to neatly compartmentalize myself. “From now on, I will act this way.” It rarely worked out for me. The container into which I stuffed myself kept expanding and changing shape. I’ve accepted now that this will be the case until I’m placed in that final box and dropped into the ground. In fact, now I see all this changing and shifting as something to celebrate, but it took a long time to foster that point of view.

Throughout my life I’ve watched as others like me have tried unsuccessfully to fit into too tight a niche. They believe they should be a certain way. It never quite works out for them, either. I’ve also witnessed people confined by the rigid expectations of others. Living under the weight of cruel control is a joyless, soulless existence.  I’ve had the sorrow of seeing some die while still trapped by their restrictive designations, and I’ve felt my heart soar at seeing others break free of their restraints and fly. It can go either way.

Denby CoverI know I’ve said it before and it’s still true. People are complicated. We are full of surprises and often hard to predict. Yet, we try to mold ourselves and others into what we expect. This leads to a range of reactions from mild disappointment to full-out fury. To avoid disappointment and anger we could learn to accept our changing, unsteady human nature. But that would mean tearing down a whole lot of walls and gaining a fresh new perspective.  Sometimes it’s just easier to pigeon-hole ourselves and everyone around us.

If you haven’t signed up to follow my blog by email or here on WordPress, please consider doing so. If you’re signed up, you won’t miss a blog post. Thanks for reading and take care. ~ Lori

Blocked

 

1921-Ford-Coupe
1921 Ford Model T “Doctor’s Coupe”

It’s not writers block.

I don’t have writers block. If anything, I’m blocking the characters. They’re ringing the doorbell and thinking it’s broken, they knock loudly. Some of them are peering into the lower windows and I’m lying on the floor in front of the couch praying they don’t see me. Next, I hear them trying the doorknobs, checking to see whether the house is locked. The backdoor knob turns and Gus, my main character, pokes his head into the porch and calls out, “Hello? Lori? Are you in there? We’re all ready to be written!”

It’s avoidance.

Still, I don’t move. I wait here quietly hiding on the living room floor until, after a bit, I hear their retreating footsteps move down the sidewalk and away from my house. I get up a little stiffly, make myself my one hundredth and one cup of tea for this morning and check my email for the billionth time since seven ‘o’clock. Good times.

Listen to me read this post:

I’ve got a million valid reasons not to be writing. The lawn isn’t going to mow itself, and that cookie dough isn’t going to line up in correct formation on a sheet and set its own temperature. There are weeds in the garden and books that need to be read. And God only knows that my social media network would shrivel up and die without my nearly-constant attention and input. What can I say? And if I’m not watching music videos on YouTube, who is? I mean, someone’s got to do it.

WW1 Proganda 1

Busy doing nothing.

I’m a desperately busy woman under the pressure of a thousand invented responsibilities.

This would be all well and good except for one thing: My time is running out. Hold on. Before you text someone to let them know I’m dying, please pause and read on. My time to write is running out. The hours and days are evaporating, and even as I write this post (anything to avoid the novel), I feel sick to my stomach at the thought. Soon I’ll be back in the classroom and other duties, real ones, will fill my weeks and months.

I miss my audience when I write a novel!

There’s an audience I write for. Probably all writers have this, a person we picture to whom we’re speaking as we write. Of course, I write for a wider audience, but when writing, I keep in mind this one person and write as if conversing with them. It works for me. Trouble is, I can’t picture my audience reading this novel because it will take so long for me to create it. It’s easy enough to write blogposts because these are instantly available to my audience, and therefore I can feel that the conversation is just rolling along. There’s some satisfaction in that. But when it comes to the slow unfolding of a very long story, I’m mired.

WW1 Propaganda 2

I’ll get it done. I think.

Will the book get written? I believe it will. The stories are there and the characters are clamouring to be heard and acknowledged. They want to come into existence as badly as I want the book to be born. But between me and that novel are many lonely, desolate hours of research and writing dependent upon an ocean of self-discipline and a truckload of imagination. In short, lots of work with no promise of anything at completion – other than completion, that is. For this writer, completion is enough, though. I could live very happily with these stories out of me and onto paper or onto screen.

I’m lonely and distracted.

And so, working against a ton of distractions and without the company of my audience, I will continue to work bit by bit on telling Gus’s tragic story of deep loyalty repaid with the darkest betrayal. I hope one day, dear readers, you will get to know Gus as well as I do. He’s quite a guy. For now, though, I’m pretty sure there’s something I need to be watching on YouTube.

WW1 Propaganda 3

If you liked this post, please consider following my blog and maybe even supporting my work on Patreon. I would sure appreciate it.

 

 

 

Summer Mourning

Harvest Time
Grain ready to be harvested.

Today I’m in mourning. I’m mourning the fresh fruit and vegetables, the dewy morning grass, the towering sunflowers. I’m mourning time alone and time spent with friends. I’m mourning sweet, summer wine and long, golden-lit evenings. I’m mourning summer’s loss.

Maybe it’s the weather…

Perhaps it’s the cool, dull weather making my heart ache – nine degrees Celsius and rainy. I’m neither productive nor focused. I’m all over the place, doing a little of this, a little of that, and nothing much of anything. I’ve left and returned to this piece of writing five times now, and writing this still feels like walking through deep mud.

Listen to me read this post:

Every year summer leaves.

What’s going on with me? Every year summer leaves. That’s just how it goes. It’s a short season in this part of the world. I should know that. I do know that, but today this knowledge isn’t helping me any.

IMG_6625
Once-green leaves, now turned red.

I had a great summer. I suppose if it had been a miserable summer I might not be experiencing this mild agony now, this longing for something not yet departed but on the verge of leaving.

For almost half of this summer I traveled and during those travels I visited in the most satisfying way with friends and family. I saw some old friends and through those experiences, felt like I’d made some new ones. When I wasn’t traveling, I was at home nurturing my garden, nurturing my writing, and nurturing myself.

Sweet summer, bitter fall.

This summer, I think I may’ve become too attached to the season itself, and allowed myself to get too used to the colour green spread out beneath cobalt blue. I forgot to build my immunity to falling leaves and falling temperatures. I forgot about the deep, white world that will cover the very spot where the sweet peas are blooming now and where the raspberries already have had the good sense to start dying. Today, I am remembering all these eventualities for which I am sadly ill prepared.

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Orange sunflowers in autumn.

If I can let go, though, and wave a fond farewell to summer, maybe then I’ll remember the sweetness of autumn: the comfort of routine, the orange of pumpkins and of mountain ash leaves, the soft yellow of harvested fields. I may even consider the white wrap of winter surrounding my cozy house, giving me permission to hibernate on a Saturday morning. Slowly, slowly spring will come again and thaw the frozen earth, the same earth into which I’ll drop the sweet pea seeds that soaked overnight in a bowl on the kitchen counter.

But today, in the rain and alone with my thoughts, I don’t want to let go.

 

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What Really Matters

Official Grad

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a good lomg weekend. This is a re-post of an earlier article. As I wrap up two weeks of vacation, it’s good to remember as I head in the direction of home, what really matters. Take care and enjoy!

Starting a business is hard! What’s more difficult yet is trying not to become completely self-absorbed while working to start a business. These nights, I dream of advertising. My thoughts constantly turn to content marketing and customer-engagement strategies. I can get a little too focused when undertaking a project. This is both good (if you’re my customer) and bad (if you’re me attempting to live a balanced life).

When reading another writer/editor’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that being able to pursue a meaningful career is a privilege. The blogger reminded me that I’m educated and live in a wealthy part of the world. This gives me a head start. He went on to say that there are people all over this big old world for who job success means survival, getting enough food and water to make it through another day. His blog post put things in perspective.

Listen to me read this post:

These days, it’s easy for me to lose perspective, to become caught up in the small things. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. It’s not difficult to know what really matters, but it does take stopping for a moment to remember.

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Deer on a hillside during an autumn evening walk.

Peace of mind matters.

Peace of mind and heart really matter. If we have these things, we are a benefit to the world. When we lack happiness, we contribute to the overall miserableness of the world. I don’t think the world needs our contribution in this area. But the planet and its inhabitants need our happiness, our support, and our encouragement.

Helping others is fulfilling.

Helping others matters. I was lucky this summer to get in touch with a charity that supports a cause that’s important to me. I do some volunteer editing for them and though it’s a cliché, I get way more out of this experience than I put into it. Editing and writing is what I do, and it’s fulfilling to use my skills to help.

Getting off devices and into the real world matters.

Being in the real world and off of devices really matters. As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time on my computer. That’s how it goes, and having begun my career using an electric typewriter, I’m grateful for a word-processing program.

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A lone, frosty tree.

Thankful for technology or not, I try to get out and walk every day. I crave the touch of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. I like to feel my muscles moving my skeleton along the sidewalks and country roads. I love the soft sound of wind in the grass and of crows in treetops plotting their next migratory move. Technology helps me work and social media give me a little rush, but being outside makes me feel alive.

Quiet contemplation matters.

While getting outside is important, so is going inside. For me to realize what matters in life, it’s most useful to just sit quietly and clear my mind. I like looking at my thoughts, watching them swirl around and finally settle as I relax. Quiet contemplation restores peace of mind and makes room for perspective. This is how I stop to consider what really does matter.

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Me experiencing the real world.

It’s a rare privilege.

It’s so easy to start striving for what I think I want and to forget that being able to run down a dream is a rare privilege and a wonderful opportunity. A very few of us get to even try to do what we want with our lives. Today, I was reminded that I am one of the fortunate few.

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~ Lori