Category Archives: blogging

Tea Lights to Shakespeare (And other ways I force myself write)

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My writing space.

You know what’s worse than writing? Not writing. And it’s something I perform a good deal of self-flagellation over. Life is a mercilessly busy thing with so much to do! It’s hard get myself at my desk writing, especially when I’m out of the habit. Which I am! What do I do?

Space-Time holds the planets in orbit. I need it for writing too. My little Space. This is my spot in the pic above. It’s one of favorite I’ve ever had. It’s a work in progress, but it’s got the basics. Firstly, the desk:  I use the same writing desk I used growing up, which gives me a sense of continuity. Then I added a laptop, somewhere to put Mr. Tea (it’s a Mr. Coffee cup warmer that I use for my tea), and charge my vaporizer batteries, and a lamp.

But honestly, what is my writing desk without a plant, my Sherlock Holmes magnifying lens, some calligraphy, and my bust of Shakespeare? It is definitely corny, but it’s part of my thing. You do your thing and don’t hate.

Shakespeare is up there for obvious reasons, but the other thing he really helps with is that Time bit, through the candles I light to him. I mean, if the problem is time, make a timer, right? I write in tea lights to Shakespeare. Sometimes I write longer. But seriously, if I do one tea light, I feel like I’ve done something. Some work. Thus, I am liberated from hating myself for not writing for at least 12-24 hours. That’s a lot of time to hate myself for other reasons!

I also plan time to write. I just figure which days I can get a tea light of writing in, and I put it in my little coloring-planner, et voila! For me, it shifts the focus. I plan when to do other stuff around my tea-light writing time, as opposed to looking for that elusive moment when I don’t have other work to do, and I can write.

It also seriously helps if I know I have leftovers or something in a crockpot. I mean, just because I don’t think about eating until I’m ready to chew my arm off, doesn’t mean I can’t learn to take some consideration of the basic needs of life. I just have to plan it out a bit. It’s actually possible! And here I am, not dead of starvation, and with both arms.

But, ehy am I writing this? To remind own damned self, of course! I didn’t even blog for a few months between last May — when my dog died and I moved — and last fall. I managed to write in my journal, The Red Book of Westmarch, but no other writing. And recently I’m thinking/writing about and looking over my other writing projects, and it seems they were either finished or begun ages ago.  I haven’t finished a project in a year, and I was doing at least two or three a year until then. I had a stable routine. There were dry spells, but man, not like this past year.

I eventually started blogging again sitting on my front porch. Then in the unboxed living room. Or at the finally functional — and not covered in random crap — kitchen table.  Then one day I just picked a spot in my front room, cleared and cleaned it up, put up some curtains I had, and put my desk there. Shakespeare, plant et al went up. And there ya go. I felt like uber-writer right then and there, yo.

I made it a nice place to be, although I will not reveal the reverse shot of my little angle-in on my writing corner because Oh dear genius of the place, give me the strength to make book shelves! Or give it to Stan, rather. I can’t walk in straight line, nevermind hang something in one.

But, you know, I had forgotten something until today — which is obviously why I am writing this — Oh! Can you guess?! (It’s the tea light.) Yup, tea-light timer, which feels as though it’s burning longer today. But, in all fairness, it’s a votive and not a tea light. Votives burn longer.

Anyhow, so yeah! Tea lights! You can get a bag of a hundred of them at the dollar store. Or at least at those dollar stores that aren’t really dollar stores. My point is they’re cheap.

So yes, my friends, I am feeling better after my tea-light — which did burn out! — session despite the hectic nature of the earlier part of the day and week. Join me next time! Or even better, do your own version of tea-light to Shakespeare time.

Share what your version of tea-lights to Shakespeare time is in the comments. I won’t hate. 😀

*I’ve gotten some fun questions and responses to last week’s post. It was a little story challenge I asked a friend to give me, which was surviving after an EMP apocalypse. So I imagined myself years hence as a post-EMP apocalypse survivor, smoking homegrown tobacco with a homemade pipe, with (more) wild, staring eyes, reflecting back on my life. I had fun with it. But I am so stuck in not writing descriptions anymore from writing screenplays. I forget I can describe things in prose stories. Throw me short story challenge in the comments so I can practice! 

While you’re here:  Check out my Instagram! There are pictures of things I like and hate! 😊

While there: check out my BFF’s Instagram and share some love.

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Updates “About Me”

 

Lake Redman

Catching a beautiful sunset.

It has been too long since Molly died, and I’ve moved into a for real house and got a new pup. So to break my long spell I updated my About Me page. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Check it out here.


Making Time

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Tock-tick

Pink Floyd are bastards. You’re listening to Dark Side, get all snug and sleepy from Breathe, and then ALL THE CLOCKS IN THE WORLD wake you up for a lecture on wasting time. But they have got it right. You need both. The space to breathe and be, and that little clock in the back of your mind that reminds you time passes.

Clocks, particularly alarm clocks,  were made by monks you know. It was to help them observe the proper prayer for the time of day. So, no matter what their daily business: farming, sleeping, eating, writing, counting money, making beer or wool; the clock made certain that they took the time to greet and witness each part of the day with the proper ritual in worship of God, which was their real job. And then they approached each bit of the day and it’s work in the frame of mind of worship. They went about all this walled off and ignoring the crazy nonsense of the world.

And that’s how it works. That is how you make time. One part ritual, one part work, one part ignoring everything else.

I do a lot of dumb stuff. I do a lot of housework, cleaning, animal tending, bill-paying stuff. But I chose that. It’s the easiest stuff to do, and no one else wants to do it. That’s my in! What I do I get back? Time to think. When I’m walking dogs, cleaning the tub, doing dishes, taking a shower…my body goes into auto-pilot, and I can think. That’s when the knottiest problems get worked out. Not sitting about.

I have considered that this is a form of “mindless” living. But no! The exact the opposite. I shower in the exact same way — same steps and soap, shampoo, razor in the same place every day — so I can shower without missing any bits.  I LOVE my showers. Because the rest is automated, my brain is free! I made a routine, a ritual to make time to work. Coloring is my new favorite time-maker! How wonderful to let the mind wander to color, movement, and some music!

I do it on social media, too! Prentend every comment or response is a little exercise in thoughtful writing. I’m practicing. I also try stuff out. Oh, perhaps I’ll write like Spock with a foul mouth? Maybe Dickens with anachronistic references? I was going through a big laconic phase a short time back. Sometimes I just make stuff up. Little “words of wisdom” I just pulled out of my… brain.  Caption this picture for best effect! This is what I do. It’s free practice. It’s fun. And that’s my “social time.” Oh dear!🤓

But then, it comes Time. The Time to do the real deed of writing. Now, here again, ritual is big. It’s a habit, but it’s also a ritual. I have certain things to hand. Vaporizer, extra fluid, at least two beverages, chapstick, and music. Now I can do that part anywhere. In fact, some of my best stuff I’ve done in bed on my phone. (I have yet to determine the causal correlation there. It may be coincidence. Further research is clearly required.) But, you know what? Nine times outta ten, I gather all of the above at my little antique letter-writing desk here (which must have been made for a child or a young woman because it is the perfect height for me), and I light a tea light under a bust of Shakespeare. I shittest thou not! BUT! (big butt) all I have to do is write until the tea light burns out. I normally lose track and it’s long out before I’m done, but yeah, that’s my timer. If I do that much, I win! I can go back after a break, or not. But yeah, I work one tea candle to Shakespeare at a time. And it’s all I need. It’s just a little measurable moment I have saved up and prepared for myself.

I ignore a lot. I might be worse than the monks in that regard. They did charitable works, I presume. I have no idea what the monks did. I know what’s going on. I read the news in the morning (with the coffee, it’s a ritual). Then I forget it and go about my own business! If I’m talking to you, I really care. “I give you my most precious thing, my Time,” is what Dad used to say.

I generally decide on giving a damn status fairly quickly. I am a hermit. I talk to my animals more than actual people…or digital people. I actually only “talk” in “meat-space” to about three human beings regularly. One is my therapist. So you know, if I get out of my house for you (or let you in) I am already way out of my norm. I need like 24 hrs of Netflix to recover from large get-togethers. 😂

Oh yeah, this wasn’t about what a weirdo I am, guess that happened though. It was about making Time. But that’s part of how I do it. My area of giving a damn is really slim. And the rest is all up in the old noggin there. And in my thought-filled dog walks and showers and tub cleaning. And in the ephemeral pixels I manipulate against mortality. And the scrawl of half a page of scribbled lines…that I put into Evernote, set a timer and tag a goal and a project for…

“Far away, across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell”

– Time, Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon, 1973

*note to self: add back-up battery for vaporizer to writing materials to avoid getting up

 


Skin a Cat

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Fish, cook, eat

OK. So I’m an avid outdoorsman and fisherman. Probably going to start a separate blog about it with a YouTube channel and the whole thing.

Anyhow, this is a question I get a lot, so here is the answer in one spot:

How to Skin & Fillet a Catfish:

First off, don’t keep a cat under 9-10 inches. Unless you’re really hungry. A lot of a catfish is the boney head and gill plates. I’ll do two fish of at least a foot each for two people.

Second, you’ll need these things:
a hammer
framing nails
a 2×4 or a tree or wall
needle nose pliers,
a rag
sharp fillet knife

OK, the fun bit.

Get Started:

1) grip the fish under the boney bits behind its gills with a rag
2) nail its head to the plank
3) cut along the boney head and gill plates just enough to split the skin
4) insert your knife in the fish’s underbelly and slit open its gut
5) pull out all its innards, cut out the heart etc. Check for roe! (Sacks of fish eggs. Usually light orange in color. Save to cook. It’s caviar!)
6) wash out the cavity

Grip and Strip

OK. So now grab ahold of the fish with your rag. Then take a corner — just under where you made your cut around the head and gill plates — of the skin in your pliers and give a good, long pull. You may need to start on each side of the head, but literally just grab the skin in the pliers and pull it off like a stocking. Pull off skin to the tail.

Let Your Knife Do the Work

Filleting any fish is all about a long, flexible, flat, sharp knife.

Hold down the tail of the fish. Lay the knife with the blade even with the base of the tail. Then just slide it up the side of the ribs with a nice fluid stroke. Don’t saw, just let the middle of the knife bend a bit under your weight and let the knife slide on up.

Finishing Up

Now repeat that on the other side of the fish, and voila! Two nice fillets! (Hopefully it will be necessary to repeat on more fish!)

Well, that’s the basics. I guess I’m obliged to do a video on this now. That’ll be for another blog and another YouTube channel.

Hope this helps. And if you’re interested in fishing, camping, outdoorsy stuff, fire starting, DIY, cooking outdoors, GoPro, vids, photography — and would be interested in sharing content for a new site, contact me or leave a comment below!

 

 


Per Ardua ad Astra

per ardua ad astra edit 2

Through struggle, the stars

 

I didn’t write or blog this week. I got a cold, slept and watched TNG on Netflix. I did keep waking up from cold medicine dreams to type ideas in Evernote. When the Dayquil wears off I’ll see if they’re any good.

Today I got a haircut. So I don’t look like Seasons 4-5 Daryl anymore. But it’s rainy and crap and now I’m going to take a nap. I despise unproductive weeks! It’s hard to rest now that I’m well after being sick all winter. I have so much to make up.

But seriously I’m going to take a nap. Then be up all night listening to SPQR by Mary Beard having asthma/panic attacks. Give me a few days. I’m a terminator. I’ll be back.


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