Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Weekly Roundup 4: Correspondence


The long month of January winds down today! I think I've appreciated the slow pace more than usual this year. But I'll still be happy when spring comes.

Correspondence: I was browsing through the library and came across the newly released Remembrance - Selected Correspondence of Ray Bradbury. Bradbury has always been one of my favorite authors. He was a very prolific writer of fiction, poetry, and screenplays, and apparently letters, too. The book, which I've just started, includes letters written from Bradbury's teen years into his 90s. There are a lot of authors and editors, but also family members, friends, political figures, etc. Here's an excerpt from a letter written to the Republican party in November, 1952, that feels all too relevant today:

"I have seen too much fear in a country that has no right to be afraid. I have seen too many campaigns...won on the issue of fear itself, and not on the facts. I do not want to hear any more of this claptrap and nonsense from you. ... I do not want any more lies, any more prejudice, any more smears."

But back to correspondence. I use and appreciate technology every day, but that doesn't mean I don't miss things that fall by the wayside. Case in point, handwritten letters. I appreciate them for their historical importance--my husband has family letters dating back to World War I--and for their glimpse into a particular person's mind on a particular day in a particular place. The handwriting, the paper and ink, the stamps, they all preserve a moment in time. A few years ago, my sister and I started exchanging letters. We write one letter on alternating months, so we each send and receive six letters a year. And I still get excited when I see her envelope in my mailbox. 

Thankfully, the internet has plenty of information on letter writing groups and societies for anyone who wants their correspondence to include more than texts, chats, and emails.

Candlelight dinners: Ingrid Fetell Lee is a designer, author, and expert on the aesthetics of joy. Her latest newsletter had a blurb about her 3-year-old son asking if they could light candles at dinner. It reminded me that we used to do the same thing when my boys were young. Even though I got tired of sweeping up little bits of broken wax picked off by busy fingers night after night, we all loved having dinner by candlelight. Even though the flames are small, the light and warmth bring people together in a special way.

I hope January treated you well! See you in February!

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Weekly Roundup 3: Yellow Snow

Hello there! How's your week going? Have an eye on the January finish line? It's coming! In the meantime, sports fans have plenty to keep them interested, what with NFL playoffs and the Australian Open and college basketball. When I sit down to watch sports, I'll often have a book in my lap. It feels more productive that way, even if I have to read the same page more than once or keep asking my husband what happened in the game/match :-)

Submission Sunday: To keep my word of the year at the front of my mind and action list, I've made it my mission to not let a Sunday go by without submitting something I've written to someone, somewhere. It makes me feel better to start the week with at least one under my belt.

Fail to Plan, Plan to... I'm trying to make the most of my desk planner calendar, not only for my daily schedule, but also tracking my writing time, submissions, inspirations, exercise, etc. It's a binder style, so I can add pages and move sections around. I write with colored markers, and it's kind of fun to look back at the end of a week and see something other than, ugh, the dreaded white page. (Although I still have some of those, too.)

Yellow Snow: Scientists have discovered what makes snow yellow! Well, actually they discovered the enzyme that turns bilirubin into urobilinogen, which is what makes pee yellow. And that enzyme is produced by bacteria in the gut. This article from EarthSky is a fascinating look at a process that helps keep us healthy.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Weekly Roundup 2: Cold Snap Edition

It feels like January around here! We've been below zero and in the single digits for a few days now. Not as bad as some parts of the country, but it has definitely put me in hibernation mode. 

The question of value: Since the new year, my husband and I have been working on clearing out things we no longer have a use for. This has forced encouraged me to think about what I value and why. Is it practical value (things I use and/or enjoy regularly), sentimental value, or actual (monetary) value? I'm surprised at how often I feel a sense of obligation to an object, usually because someone gave it to me, sometimes because I've just always had it. The process is occasionally challenging, but at the end of the day, it feels good to be able to let go.

Writer to-do list: This is not really a new year thing, because I always have a to-do list going. The current one includes finally doing a proper website, continuing to slog my way through a challenging (but mostly fun) first draft of a manuscript, working on picture book projects, connecting with various writing communities, and of course submitting, since this is my word for the year. I still struggle with time/life balance, so I'm hoping to pick up a few helpful tools and pieces of advice along the way.

Death of Peregrine: The Peregrine moon lander had a successful launch but has been doomed by a propellant leak. Instead of the planned lunar touchdown on February 23, it appears that Peregrine will reenter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up. It's carrying (among other things) pictures of footprints, messages from children, and human DNA samples, including one from science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke. RIP Peregrine!

The most wholesome thing I saw this week: Tidy Welsh Mouse

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Weekly Roundup 1: It Begins!

Welcome to 2024! Last year was my all time worst for blogging, so I'm jumping in with a fresh start. I considered trying to stick to a theme for the year but instead decided to wing it (because we all know how well that works for me lol). As 2024 unfolds, I'll be posting every Wednesday, with a little bit of this and that from near and far.

Let's begin!

Writer Word of the Year: Last year's word was climb, and I did some of that. I also hit a lot of plateaus, where I wandered about as if my GPS had lost its signal. Well, it happens. My word for 2024 is submit, because, strangely enough, my writing hasn't learned how to jettison itself out into the world yet, and I can't afford a personal assistant to do it for me. As my sister pointed out, submit also means to subject oneself to a process, or to surrender after resistance. All of these meanings feel appropriate.

Reading: I choose Chuck Wendig's Black River Orchard as the best book I read in 2023. I'd call it a dark contemporary fairy tale, with a great cast of characters and enough horror to make it creepy but not terrifying. Next up, The Eyes and The Impossible, by Dave Eggers, "a heroic dogs account of a thrilling adventure" for readers of all ages. Sometimes, that "of all ages" makes me suspicious, but I think this one has potential.

Sky Stuff: January 11 is the first new moon of the year. I love a good full moon as much as the next person, but I appreciate the new moon for its reminder that once a month, we can all hit reset button. According to people who follow this kind of thing, January's new moon in Capricorn represents recharged energies and new perspectives.  

Trees: That's my favorite tree pictured above on January 1. It's a big old cottonwood a short walk from my street, and I love watching how it changes throughout the year. 

I hope 2024 is agreeing with you so far! See you next week!