Do you pick one word or phrase as your focus for the upcoming new year? Choosing a word can work as a meaningful guide throughout the year and be a compass for your goals.
Old friends Colleen and JB live far from one another, but for the past several years they meet on January 1st via telephone for their annual “summit”. They discuss their goals and dreams for the future. They come prepared with lists, notes, ideas for “word of the year” as well as a glass of champagne to make an optimistic toast.
The discussion always includes the usual topics like diet and exercise goals and often include budget/debt worries, creative ideas and travel plans. They bring their calendars to plan out a few trips to see one another (well, not this year!). It’s really refreshing to share a friend’s dreams and commit in writing to creative projects or specific action plans. They talk again frequently to check in on progress and offer support.
This year’s words:
Colleen ~ BREATHE. It’s been a stressful year with more to come, and the isolation has her wound up tight. Family health issues are all consuming and make her feel like a little helpless. Big on her action list are meditation, creativity as a release, and taking a good deep breath often.
JB ~ GRACE. Adopted from a book by Melanie Dale Calm the H*ck Down acronym “Gratitude, Read, Adapt, Create, and Engage.” All needed right now to navigate through this unusual and unknown territory ahead.
During the Pandemic, I’ve been fortunate to receive photos from family and friends who live in different locations. They contribute to the blog and add interest. This is a collaborative effort by neighbors in Massachusetts.
I received a photo of an owl sitting on a snow covered wall from my longtime friend Linda Dempster.
Later Linda sent me another photo of the owl who’d flown up in a tree. She’d received it from her neighbor. I asked her to ask the neighbor if they’d consent to the owl in the tree photo being posted on the blog. So thank you Linda and neighbor Anne Laibe Bertalino for the interesting owl photos and being the guest bloggers today.
In 2012 my most popular post was from guest blogger Shuey in Florida with his barred owl photo.
In writing, there are plotters – people that plot out their stories and follow that plan – and there are pantsters, which are kindly called “discovery writers.” This pantster signed up for National Novel Writing Month 2019 (NaNoWriMo).
I had an idea, a “what if,” and I had a deadline. Every night that November, after the kids went to bed, I followed my characters around for approximately 1800 words. Some nights it took an hour to meet my wordcount; some nights it took four. It was stressful, and I was tired, but it was only 30 days. I tried not to think about it during the day.
As a “discovery writer,” I honestly had no idea what was ever going to happen next. As I typed, I’d suddenly realize something about a character’s past. Or I’d leave a note to myself in all caps that said, “HOW LONG TO GET TO MARS?” – because now they were going to Mars (unplanned by me, but that’s where they were going, so I should probably find out more about it if I was really going to write this ridiculous book). I did research as I went, and kept a spreadsheet of links to NASA, MarsONE and studies about soil bacteria, which had – also against my will – become an issue on the space shuttle, and one that I couldn’t fix for months. I wasn’t in control.
The story went off in weird tangents – not my story, because my story was never supposed to be about space and soil – it twisted and turned. I wrote completely without a plan, without an ending in mind, and somehow, I managed to type my last word – my 50,083rd – just before midnight on November 30th.
It wasn’t the story I had planned to write, and they weren’t perfect words but there were 50,000 of them. I put it away for a month, then read it with fresh eyes, and while it was still imperfect, it wasn’t terrible. Over the next six months, in lockdown, I revised, expanded and rewrote while my kids sat and homeschooled beside me.
NaNoWriMo was a grind, but it gave me the reasonably short timeframe and the motivation I needed to finally write a novel. I even sat down to do it again this year. I wrote another 50K words in 30 days, but this time I was prepared. I wasn’t a pantster this time: I had an outline, almost chapter-by-chapter, of what I wanted to happen and what I wanted to develop. This story wasn’t going to go rogue on me (though it did, here and there), but I discovered something else: it wasn’t as much fun.
Ground Control is being published in e-book, paperback and hardcover formats in the Spring
A fellow knitter hailing from Maine responded to my post of Fels-Naptha Soap
Here is Carrie’s recipe for Homemade Laundry Soap with the accompanying photos she sent when I invited her to be the guest blogger.
“Loved your blog, sorry to text so early. Wanted to tell you it cost 2.75 to make a 5 gallon pail. If you used 1 cup per load it would be approximately 80 loads using 8 oz. Cost per load is about 3.5 cents” Carrie. I had the wrong cost of ingredients you don’t use the entire box.
Thanks for being guest blogger, Carrie.
HOMEMADE LAUNDRY SOAP
2 cups Super Washing Soda
1 cup Borax Detergent Booster
1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap
5 gallon pail with lid
½ to 1 cup measuring cup
Stir Paddle that attaches to electric drill or large sturdy stir item.
Grate 1 bar of Fels Naptha Soap with a cheese grater and place in a saucepan. Cover soap with approximately 3 to 4 inches of water. Heat on stove at a low simmer until soap is melted, stirring constantly with whisk.
Add Borax Detergent Booster and Super Washing Soda to 5 gallon pail. Fill 5 gallon pail to ¾ full with hot tap water. Attach paddle bit to drill and begin mixing the powder and water until combined and powder has dissolved.
Then slowly add the melted soap mixture to the pail, while stirring with the paddle. Next fill remaining pail with hot tap water, till it reaches 3 inches from top of pail. Continue to mix until smooth.
Mix it several times over the next few hours until it has cooled. This will produce a smooth pail of soap.
Use ½ to 1 cup per load of laundry.
** For use in top load washers, for front load washers, please check your manual.