Monthly Archives: December 2012

The clock is ticking…

…only fourteen and a half hours left of 2012. Sorry, fourteen and a quarter.

All right, let’s try for realistic plans for 2013. One thing I’ve finally learned over the past year (and about time, too) is that there’s a limited number of minutes in a day to get things done, and a limited amount of mental and emotional and physical energy to use for doing them. So it seems like a good idea to tackle only one large new goal at a time.

The two things that have to continue are writing and providing support for my mom. I’ll certainly continue with the weekly 100-word challenges – they’re fun, they’re good practice, and I enjoy seeing what other people come up with based on the same prompts. I’ll go on blogging regularly. And, above all, I’ll keep chipping away at the boulder of book-length fiction, trying to sculpt it into finished work of my own.

What should I tuck into the corners of the day around that central core? Probably the thing I want to do least: clean the horrible house, because the inconvenience and irritation of living in this mess is getting to me. And what that needs to start with is getting rid of lots and lots and lots of stuff – we own too many things to organize them all.

Once the mess is under control, I can free up time for regular exercise, something I’ve neglected lately. And make sure I’m eating good food, not junk. Will I lose weight? Probably not, but I’ll be healthier.

And, since at least one New Year’s resolution should focus on something you want to do, I’m going to finally make time for knitting experiments – trying out odd stitches and construction methods that I’ve read about here and there. Blog posts, yes, there will be blog posts. With pictures.

(And also, I’ll go on looking forward to posts from the many varied bloggers I follow. Some of you have become online friends, and all of you brighten my day. Thank you so much!)

Only one more day of 2012!

We’re staring 2013 in the face.

I don’t usually write about my problems here, mostly because I don’t have much that’s fresh and insightful to say about the subject. But the end of the year seems to be the traditional time to evaluate our lives and make plans to improve them.

And what did I accomplish in 2012? I started off with grandly overambitious plans – “finish writing at least two books; be thin; live in a tidy house; rebuild my savings account; learn to draw; and, for the heck of it, finish several reading challenges.” It’s been a sobering year.

My house is as messy as it’s ever been, possibly worse. I’ve gained five pounds. I don’t have the free time to concentrate on drawing. The reading challenges petered out midyear, largely because I found other topics to post about, so I don’t really care about that failure. Have I succeeded in anything?

My main accomplishment, one I didn’t realize I was facing a year ago, has been to keep my mother out of the hospital and the nursing home, living quasi-independently in her familiar house with her familiar belongings and as many of her familiar routines as she feels up to bothering with. And it’s stressful for everyone involved, and pretty time-consuming.

But what about my January pipe dreams? Well, there’s writing. Writing fiction is something I’ve made progress on. No, I haven’t finished two books in the past year. In spite of my high hopes a month ago, I haven’t even finished one; it turns out that my mother now gets very upset by the prospect of Christmas (with all the things she feels she ought to do and can’t do), so upset that soothing her leaves me emotionally drained for most of the day. So that will have to be factored into future plans: December is a washout.

Even so, I’ve learned a lot – partly by participating in Friday Fictioneers and the 100 Word Challenge for Grownups – about writing: structuring plots, developing characters, keeping a story moving. Well before spring I really should have the current fantasy-in-progress rough draft written. (Pause for cartwheels.)

The score for the year? I guess I’m keeping up with the absolutely essential top-priority things. Almost top-priority, not so good. Tomorrow I’ll inflict a post on you about where I go from here.

(On a different subject, I just got home this afternoon from a two-day trip – my husband and I decided to give each other a mini-vacation for Christmas. I think I’ve caught up on all the comments people made on my posts while I was away; I know I have dozens and dozens of your posts to read. I’m looking forward to them, but it will take a while to get through them all. You may still be getting comments in February 😉 )

100 Steps: Winter in the park

Another entry in the 100 Steps series started by Myfanwy Hart, taken in the park near my home –

100December01There was a surprising amount of noise coming from these bushy weeds, or weedy bushes.

100DecemberBirdInBushBy approaching slowly and quietly, I was able to spot this little fellow as he caught his breath. There were lots of other similar birds sheltering or feeding, but they stayed in motion or out of sight.

100DecemberNestA reminder of warmer days, high in the bare branches.

100December04These plants have a very different palette from my first picture, a wintry grey-white-brown look. (And apparently they’re less attractive to small birds.)

100December05Still, there’s nothing wrong with a few accents in red!

Thursday’s Windows: Christmas

A “third day of Christmas” post for Sandra Conner’s Thursday’s windows series –


Friday Fictioneers: Coffeeshop

This week, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields has a cheerful prompt for the Friday Fictioneers to use as inspiration for another 100 word story –


I didn’t want to spend this weekend going from store to store. But what can you do when you’re stuck with returning a dozen failed Christmas presents? The wind whipped my ears, slush leaked into my boots, heavy bags pulled at my shoulders.

Finally my hands were empty. Time to head home. That’s when I saw the sign, with a cheerful sun rising behind a steaming cup of coffee or tea or soup or – well, something hot. I couldn’t resist.

Inside, I found a table next to one of the big potted trees and let the warmth thaw my face. I think I’ll stay right here till April.

* * *

Tell me what you think!

100 Word Challenge for Grownups: Guests

This week, Julia gave us a seasonal prompt – “twas the night before Christmas.” As usual, all we have to do is add 100 words to it for a ministory. What I came up with was this tale of a woman who’s feeling overburdened…please tell me what you think of it!


Twas the night before Christmas. Sarah’s house was bursting; she was fuming. “It’s David’s fault,” she told her neighbor Abby-the-gossip. “Invites every no-good who claims to need help to stay.”

“Looks like you’ll have one more soon,” smirked Abby, glancing at a very-pregnant girl.

She was right. Sarah would have liked to order Abby out when the girl’s labor started, but Abby was a good midwife and she needed the help. At last it was over. Abby peered at the newborn. “This one’s a troublemaker. Look how he’s started,” she said happily.

“Oh, nonsense.” Sarah smiled at the weary mother. “He’s a miracle, like all babies.”

Holy Night

ChristmasNightMerry Christmas to you and yours.

And if Christmas is not a day you celebrate, may you have a joyful day and a wonderful 2013.

100 Christmas Steps

Another try at Myfanwy Hart’s 100 Steps series, with a Christmas week twist –

(I don’t usually take pictures of houses in my neighborhood, but I didn’t think people would mind having their decorations photographed!)

Philadelphia Victorian, part 2

When I was in Philly last week, there was one building in particular that I couldn’t stop taking pictures of.

LocustStreetCurtisInstituteOf MusicIt’s right next to – maybe part of – the Curtis Institute’s Lenfest Hall, and someone was careful to make Lenfest Hall match the red stone of the older building,

LocustStreetCurtisInstituteOfMusicLenfestHallbut they couldn’t be more different in style.

LocustStreetWindowFrameThere’s the relatively simple window frame

LocustStreetWindowSupportand the scrolled supports under the windows

LocustStreetPorchSideand a side view of the more elaborate porch roof above the door.

LocustStreetBirdThere are the birds that embellish the extended window sills, one at the corner of the building and one next to the door.

LocustStreetInsideDoorFramsBut for stonework run delightfully amok, you have to stand inside the porch and look up at the scrolled supports on either side of the door

LocustStreetAboveDoorand finally, amazingly, at the last place anyone would be likely to look: straight overhead.

I love this building.

Have a….

Mayan1Happy 13th Bak’tun!Mayan2

(That should see you through to sometime around about
March of 2407.)