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Showing posts from 2012

Mouse View/Eagle View: Life Balance

Stress, exams, deadlines, holidays, parties, shopping, spending: that's what the end of the year typically brings to those of us living in North America. And then there's the looming new year and all its expectations: Lose weight! Get fit! Make more money! Life balance: yeah, right. "You have to balance client expectations with personal needs." "Too much work and no play." "Family time, couple time: they have to balance out." If it's helpful to you to think of balance, great; go right ahead. But at any particular moment, I don't particularly want to be "balanced." I want to be enthusiastic, passionate, productive, energetic -- or contemplative, resting, processing, mellow. Intense, tense -- relaxed, loose. Or something completely different, something that can't be measured on a binary scale. Like I want to be listening, witnessing, watching, looking, tasting, luxuriating, sharing. For me, balance does

Mouse View, Eagle View: Rejection

"Rejection is just part of the life." I haven't met a writer who hasn't said that, nor have I met one who can accept rejection without a twinge of "hey!" One strategy that's helped me handle having writing rejected -- which, yes, is inevitable in this line of work -- is to remember to work both the mouse view and the eagle view. For the past several years, I've tried submitting something every month. Often I submit more than one something. Often I re-send a returned piece (in what I call a "boomerang" submission), but sometimes I make "rules" to force myself to send something new (or newly revised), and sometimes the "rules" include trying a publication I haven't tried before. Over the years, I've found it helpful to have many pieces "out there" under consideration -- that's the eagle view. I have twelve opportunities, at minimum, in a year to see a piece land in a publication. In

Mouse View/Eagle View: Whazzat?

It's that time of year. I'm sending invoices, finishing projects, meeting deadlines. It's time to see what worked well in 2012 and what might help me be more successful, however I define that, in 2013. As I start winding down -- or winding up, depending on whether I feel clock-like or thread-like, I guess -- I find myself thinking a lot about mouse view and eagle view. Here's how the basic concept works: Mice see things at ground level. Eagles see things from a higher perspective. Mice see blades of grass; an eagle sees a meadow. We live at mouse view; we dream and set goals at eagle view. Of course I didn't invent the concept -- I first heard it at some corporate training something-or-other back when I went to those things. Here's an explanation of how you could apply those two perspectives at work. . Getting Things Done, summarized here , talks about runway view, 10,000-foot view, and up to a 60,000-foot view.  Whatever the name, mouse

Good Company

I'm thrilled that my essay "Words" came second* in Room magazine's writing contest! It will be published in issue 36.2, due out in the summer of 2013. For more about the contest and a full list of winners, click here . I'm especially pleased that this essay received recognition and will be published, because it (also) relates to my mother's Alzheimer's disease. I'm also excited that my essay will appear with this one, " Loving Benjamin ," so brave and honest! I'm sure the rest of the issue will blow my socks off, too. Thanks, Room , for sponsoring the contest every year and for all you do to support women's writing! *Did you hear that? "Came second" is a Canadian construction, much like "I had to be there for 8 a.m." vs. "I had to be there at 8 a.m." Am I...morphing?

Strawberries

A couple of weeks ago, I bought strawberries. From that experience, I learned a couple of things. 1. Don't hoard. Use what you have. Because the strawberries are getting expensive, now that their season is done, I was saving them, doling them out a few at a time instead of just eating them daily for breakfast. (I know. Doesn't make sense. My parents were big on "saving" things as "treats," so at least I come by it honestly.) Anyway, the strawberries: they got furry. I wish I had just eaten them, savoring them as I went along. When I'm writing, I sometimes resist an urge to include an image. "I'll just have to take it out later," I think. "It's too many ideas," I think. And maybe I'm right. Maybe I will have to take it out later. But that's not what I'm doing -- I'm not revising. I'm writing. Maybe it won't fit -- but maybe it will inspire the image that does fit, perfectly, the element t

What's That You Say?

While I was gone last month, I caught up on a couple of podcasts. One in particular has had me thinking ever since. CBC's Under the Influence is about advertising, marketing, business, communication, and even some history of those general topics. I like this program, and its predecessor The Age of Persuasion, because they help me, the fish, stop and think about the water I'm swimming around in. I haven't listened beyond this episode, It's the Little Things , because I'm not done thinking about it yet. Late in the show, host Terry O'Reilly quotes Isadore Sharp, the founder, chair, and CEO of the Four Seasons Hotel Chain: "We are only what we do, not what we say we are." Of course we've all heard "show don't tell." Show the antagonist kicking the cat. In the movie Titanic , the bad guy grabs a kid so he can get near a lifeboat. (Not subtle, but what about that movie is?) Still, I think it's true: we really *are* what we d

Walk on By

I'm part of an informal group that's working through Julia Cameron's Walking in this World , or as I like to call it, Walk Like an Artist (because then I get to do the Bangles Egyptian hand). We are part of a private Facebook group and check in periodically. I'm not even sure we're on the same chapter -- which doesn't matter in our universe. A long time ago -- wow, at least 15 years -- I was part of a more structured, facilitated group that worked through The Artist's Way . I uncovered a lot of desires and fears during that process, many of which poked, prodded, and finally kicked me into pursuing the life I now live. Walking like an artist has been a gentler journey for me, but still oh-so-valuable. What I'm discovering likely won't upend my life (I hope; I like my life a lot), but even in a life that's essentially supportive and rewarding, it's good to take stock. Through the exercises, I am remembering various interests from other

October's Wonder

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Every month, I show the photos I used in my family's calendar for this year. You can find previous photos and a link to the text they illustrate here . I'm not a big fan of scary movies. I am a huge fan of wonder. Also awe. And I found three illustrations of those emotions for this month's calendar page. And by the way, this last one? It's a bear. Playing with a garden hose, right out here on our septic field. She first stopped by the side door to the house, where she left a nose print. The door was locked, or else she might have had a close encounter of the sisterly kind with my own sister, who was working in room just inside the door. Wonder. Awe. And also a little awww. Though not much. That's a bear, after all.

New Appreciations

The seasons are changing. While I was gone, the trees shed their leaves. We don't have snow here, but it's chilly and grey and wet. This time of year, I think back to the trees that fell in the spring and summer (and even into the fall), over the driveway, over the paths, in inconvenient places. I appreciate them in a new way because we're now burning them, as much for the cheerful crackle of the fire as the warmth it produces. I've picked up a book I tried to read last year. Last year was the wrong time. Now it's the right time. I'm pursuing opportunities, both creative and remunerative (and some that are both!), that weren't right for me before. I enjoy the challenges even as they also daunt the heck out of me. I'm opening a (virtual) filing cabinet and re-imagining a few stories. Two years ago, I did all I could to get them to a certain point -- and I knew that point wasn't an effective point, one that told the story well. I appreciate the

Opinions Worth Having

I'll start with the obvious: an election is looming in the U.S. I've already voted a backup ballot. If my regular ballot, which I have also completed, doesn't get there in time, I'm covered. In other words: I'm done. Being in the U.S. for a week gave me lots of opportunities to experience others' opinions. Most noticeably and loudly, opinions about political candidates and ballot initiatives. But also opinions about * window, aisle, or middle seat? * near the off-duty pilot or in a row that might, if you're lucky, remain empty? * red or white (customer service reps at Oregon wineries are such good sports) * celery or no celery? Celery? Really? Yes. I have met two people with a distinct dislike of celery. To me, this is a little like disliking water: maybe not the most exciting thing ever, but not much to object to, either. But everyone has different palates, different likes and dislikes, different buttons that are pushed by different things. I use

Clearing the Cruft

For the last couple of weeks, I've been working primarily to others' deadlines. Nothing wrong with that, at all! I enjoy working for clients. I've even managed to get some of my own writing done, though of course not as much as I do when my clients are scrambling around at their end. A side effect of working to others' deadlines is that I can start to feel...important. I may be working during a 25-minute break between meetings and pick up an email from a client who wants me to get something back to him about 30 minutes after my next meeting ends -- something that's do-able, but just, and only because I was actually available to pick up the email. I saved the day! Yay me! It's sorta like being a business person in a movie. Only early in the movie, before the business person (Sarah Jessica Parker, Tom Cruise) learns to slow down and smell the roses and take care of their new love's kid. Although I like the work and I don't mind at all being responsiv

Healthy Gums

I've been a whirling dervish of activity in the past few weeks -- publicizing this, starting that, finishing the other (or "finishing," more accurately, because it might come back rejected), sending things out, receiving things, considering future things, scheduling things (and laughing ha ha ha because you have to laugh when you schedule), and generally verbing all over the place. Today, I am experiencing a slight lull, during which I need to switch gears. I will walk in a moment, because that is the ultimate gear-switching activity for me. But another activity that I enjoy is thoroughly flossing and brushing my teeth and gums. I didn't always feel this way about oral hygiene, as the shining cavities inside my mouth show. But ever since my hygienist suggested a gum brush, and I discovered the pleasure of sending it on a leisurely trip around, between, and among my teeth, I've been hooked. This has nothing to do with the fact that I have a dental check-up sc

September Song

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This year, I've been showing the photos I used in the calendar I create every year. You can find previous months and a link to the text they illustrate here . As you can imagine, northwestern Ontario is lovely in September. I always have more photos to choose from than room to show them. This month, I used these. Photos of places so familiar in summer, but now with signs of changing leaves and dying grasses, are extra special, rather like seeing someone you love with new eyes. I don't have kids, but I get the same feeling when I see photos of my parents when they were young -- far younger than I am now. "Oh,  the handsome fellow in his tux, the young girl in overalls posing hands-on-hips -- they are part of who you were, too!" It's no accident that songs about September are often poignant. It's hard not to look at the sun and wish it would hang around on its summer schedule for a few more months -- and it's hard not to feel that sense of summer

New Year

Fall is still a new year for a lot of us -- whether it's a religious holiday or just the tradition of starting school. Notebooks, crayons (or colored pencils), sharpeners, erasers, glue (or glue sticks). New books, new ideas to write in them, new problems to puzzle over and (it is to be hoped) solve. Along those lines, Quinn McDonald, a writer and creativity coach based in Arizona, recently wrote a post called  Re-Packing Your Brain . In it, she says, "Every time we start a new project, change our business, choose a new perception, we have to 're-pack our brain.'" Wait...we choose our perceptions? And re-packing our brain around new perceptions can, in her words, give us a "new-found eagerness"? How potent that is -- but yeah, isn't that what new starts are all about?  In the past few weeks, I have adopted a new routine (still doing that 25 minutes of suffering!) and, wonder of wonders, I have been writing in the morning. I'm not

Just Because

I have written before about transcending my upbringing . I have also written about zentangles in the context of projects that don't go the way you think they will . Recently, I've noticed another way in which  zentangles  help me (in the words of a former boyfriend, long ago) "get over my own bad self." I draw zentangles for no reason. Just because. I do it to do it. I have no plans for them beyond the doing of them. It's PLAY. Hear that? That noise you heard was transcendence, folks. In my family of origin, we had activities and we took lessons. (We also had time for lazing around, dilly-dallying, reading, and dawdling, when we could escape our mother's watchful eye. Thank goodness for siblings.) As we got older, we were expected to become more serious about our activities. I swam competitively; I took music lessons. I was expected to practice these pursuits as regularly and conscientiously as I did homework (which was top priority in our home). Becau

August Company

It is, of course, September, but I couldn't resist the title.  In August, I learned that my essay "All I Can Say" will be included in   The Best Canadian Essays 2012 , published by   Tightrope Books . The book will be available in stores in October. This essay was also shortlisted for the   2009 CBC Literary Awards   and appeared in   Room 34.3 .  My thanks go out to ClĂ©lie Rich and the other editors at Room , and to Chris Doda and Ray Robertson of Tightrope Books. I am also extremely grateful to Eric, an extraordinary teacher and human being, and to my friend, poet   Veronica Patterson . One afternoon over coffee, I said, "I went to the funeral of a service dog last week." She leaned forward, eyes wide, and said, "And what was THAT like?" By way of answer, I started this essay. 

Timing

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This year, I've been showing photos that I used in the calendar I make for my family every year. You can find the previous months, along with a link to the text that they illustrated this year, here . August is the month I most closely associate with being here. We couldn't vacation before August -- my parents taught summer sessions; the competitive swimming season didn't go on hiatus until the end of July. August gave us a few short weeks of freedom before school started again, for all of us. I try to keep these familial biorhythms in mind as I make this calendar every year. Sure, my siblings and I are all (ostensibly) adults and have been creating our own families and vacation traditions for decades. But I suspect that August  in Thunder Bay is a default setting for them -- it is for me. And here's the view that I most closely associate with August. It's one of my default shots. I take about a bazillion pictures from this beach at all times of the year, ever

Lingo: A Patterned Dish Story

Don't you love the English language? I've written before about my devotion to reruns of high-art TV like America's Next Top Model . I have recently discovered Canadian home style icon Sarah Richardson and her "design sidekick," Tommy Smythe. You can watch reruns of Sarah's House at this link . I find the show immensely entertaining, even beyond its content. Sarah and Tommy are funny. The show isn't a competition, so the half-hours don't include catfight scenes. Clients, tradespeople, and others on the show don't always agree, but they remain respectful and get a job done. They also work in the "real world," with actual concrete items (which I talked about briefly in relation to my summer, here ). Plus, the language! All specialists use language in specific ways. Scientists, politicians, MBAs, therapists, lawyers -- and yes, artists, writers, and designers. My sister often emails phrases from clothing design shows, like Proj

Heft

One of my favo(u)rite aspects of summer is working outdoors. No, I don't take my computer outside -- I do (some) outdoor work in what is commonly known as "the real world." I also go outdoors in winter, but it's more often related to play. My husband does the shoveling and snow-blowing. So when I'm out, it's to go skiing or sledding, to take pictures, or for some other recreative purpose. Like doing nothing. The summer is different. Waaaay different. In the summer, we maintain structures, mow grass, deal with trees. (In the winter, we clear downed trees off the driveway, but otherwise, they stay where they are until the snow melts, the sap runs, and we deal with them. Or not.) And by "maintaining structures," I mean -- well, a lot of things. Painting, cleaning, clearing, re-roofing, draining. Lots of verbs. My point is that unless it's raining, there's always something "productive" to be done outdoors in the summer. And I al

Yes! That One!

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This year, I've been showing images from the 2012 calendar I make for my family for Christmas. A link to previous months (that also includes a link to the text I illustrated) is  here . When I put together a calendar, I start by making a folder in Picasa with candidate images. I try to mix winter and summer shots; I try to find pictures that are different from those available in commercial calendars. And of course, because my audience is my family, who experienced this place in the summer and have warm feelings for particular scenes and views, I include a fair number of those. Sometimes I have text first; sometimes I find it later. I have a couple of candidates for 2013 already, but I'm always on the lookout. After I have the file of images and the text, I set aside uninterrupted time to read the text while looking through the assembled photos -- usually at least double the number that I can possibly use -- to see what speaks. When I got to July, I knew immediately the

What's a Meta-Phor?

Last week I mentioned activities that don't show results until they do. Namely, rowing. I've spent more time in a rowboat in the past couple of weeks than in the previous 12 months. Rowing is a lovely activity that engages body and spirit, while leaving the mind room to play. Ergo, I've had plenty of time to consider nautical metaphors. Like: Ships are safe in a harbor, but that's not what ships are built for. Before your ship can come in, you have to send it out. Rowers are natural historians, because they always look at where they've been; canoers (or kayakers) are natural explorers, because they always look at where they're going. But mostly I've been thinking about the point in a long project when I despair of ever seeing progress. In the boat, it's the spot when I'm rowing out toward an island in the bay (a convenient destination for the family since 1925), and suddenly I hit a hole in the space-time continuum and ... stop ... moving. O

Notes

While I've been attending to visitors and taking a little vacation, I've also been taking some notes. 1. Mosquitoes just don't give up. How can I be more like a mosquito, except less annoying? 2. The beach never changes -- the big rocks at either end sit where they were in my grandmother's time here. But the beach is also different every day: a sunny morning feels different from a breezy, cloudy morning. The beach is different at 5 p.m. than at 10 a.m., especially if you've created artwork in the morning and a storm blows in. But the beach's essentials are unchanged. How does it do that? 3. So many activities don't seem to show results until they suddenly do. Like taking branches off trees, or pumping water up from the lake with the hand pump in the breezeway, or rowing across a broad expanse of lake, or even raking detritus off the beach. "You are what you do every day" and all that. 4. Going swimming is always worth the messing around it

Gone Fishin'

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And by "gone," I mean, of course, that I'm not gone. I'm here. Just not at my desk very much, because of having company. Same goes for "fishin'": I don't fish, though I eat it (see "Kayaker" fish sandwich, below). I am, however, well-fillin'. Also stomach-fillin'. Hope you are the same.

Two Helpful Hints

These days, I split my time between writing and working. Not "split 50/50" (or "split half in two," as the charming expression from the southern US goes) -- just split, as in divided, probably unequally. My schedule depends on the weather, because a lot of the work I'm doing is outdoor stuff. Ah, the weather: unseasonably hot and humid. Suddenly the things I have to do outdoors (scrape, prime, and paint buildings, this summer) can't be scheduled into "afternoons, I'll paint." I look at the sky and feel the air. Is it both cool enough and dry enough this morning to paint? Is it too hot to be outdoors between 10:30 and 4? Is the wind shifting, thus dropping the temperature five degrees in ten minutes? While I've been out and about (and inside staring at the sky), I've learned a couple of things.  Hint #1. Write where it's physically comfortable. Or in my case recently, where it's cool. My office is in our walk-out baseme

Moon, Spoon...

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For the June page of my calendar, I used these three photos. As I write this, the weather is unsettled, with high humidity and temperatures to match. Outside my office window, the grass is tall but too wet to mow -- a far cry from the doe/snow and ice/sunrise shots. I love looking closely at the calendar photos throughout the year, especially when the seasons in the photos don't necessarily match the real world outside.  The pictures remind me that  seasons can change, but beauty remains. 

Creative Writing Plan, Part 3: Accountability

I recently made a plan for my creative writing life. No stranger to unsuccessful planning efforts, I have found this particular planning process to be extremely helpful, and I have been sharing the reasons. This is the third and final post in the series. Part 1 is here ; Part 2 is here . In my first post about this plan, I talked about how setting limits helped me gain focus and (finally) some success in planning my creative writing. Last week, I described how expectations and timing worked to my advantage as I created this plan. Now: Accountability! Most goal-setting literature tells you to become accountable in some way: get an accountability buddy, a mastermind group, a workout partner, whatever. This advice always made hyperventilate. I'm introverted. Sharing something deeply personal with someone else is not a step I take lightly. However, I have found personal accountability helpful in some situations. For example, if you want to play an instrument, joining a gr

Creative Writing Plan, Part 2: Expectations and Timing

With a writing friend, I recently made a plan for my creative writing life. No stranger to unsuccessful planning efforts, I have found this particular planning process to be extremely helpful, and I have been sharing the reasons. This is Part 2. Part 1 is here . Last week I talked about how beneficial it was for me to limit this planning process, and consider only my creative writing, leaving out issues of exercise, spirituality, and kale. The basic format we used for creating our plan is at the top of last week's post. This week, I look at two related considerations -- expectations and timing . Expectations. In my previous attempts to create a cohesive plan around my creative writing, the vision statement tripped me up. Anything I wrote seemed so...grandiose? egotistical? ridiculous? impossible? Oh, vision statements. I've been part of reorganization/restructuring efforts at two large public organizations and a smaller private company. I've jumped off a cliff

Creative Writing Plan, Part 1: The Freedom of Limits

A writing friend and I just completed a brief planning process that addresses our respective creative writing lives. Here's the outline we used, along with some completely made-up examples: Vision statement: "In five years, I am...." [statement of your writing self in five years. Example: a writer of poetry and mystery novellas who is confident in my use of form and imagery.]  Goal statement: "In five years, I will have:" [bullet list of projects completed/underway. Example: completed four 20,000 word mystery novellas, completed a revision of my sestina-based collection "Lilacs and Lavender," drafted four other novellas, experimented with up to three writing schedules and committed to pursuing the most successful for a full year] Milestone statement for this year: "This year, I will:" [bullet list of projects to complete. Example: complete the draft of novella #2 and revise #1 and #2, use mind-mapping to generate 50 images rela

May, May Not

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Here's my 2011 calendar shot for May. It's one of my favo(u)rite scenes -- all mist-erious. Is the shot from May of  last year? No. That's ice in front of that island. It's from sometime in March. But what I like about the shot is the light,* and to me, light speaks of coming into the "yang time" of the year, when things you've been working on in the dark months see the world.  One of those things, for me, is a sort of five-year plan for my creative writing. More about that later. *Or at least that's what I like about it now. I reserve the right to let it tell me something different when I'm at a different point in my life and am listening for a different message. 

Reframing Rejection

Writers get rejected. That's how it goes. Someone else is picked for a project. A different style of work is a better "fit" in some intangible way. Your work wasn't quite what they were looking for. Recently, I've heard "no" again, after a spell of silence. I didn't enjoy it -- but I did enjoy hearing something. My family upbringing trained me to say, "Well, that's a setback, but I can get back on track" -- and resume doing whatever I was doing, only more of it and for longer hours. But not this time. Instead of powering through a blue period by pretending I didn't get rejected or otherwise relying on willpower, I'm reframing , which is a fancy-pants way of saying "looking at things from a new perspective." Rejection is information. I can learn something from it. At the same time, I don't have to kill myself trying to figure out "what this means." A rejection might tell me that 1. before I sen

Just How Easy is that Livin'?

It's not summer yet but you can see it from here. Even I have taken the faith-filled step of washing our winter hats, mittens, scarves, etc., figuring it's probably safe to put them away. And once the grass dries, it will need cutting -- a sure sign of summer. Summer = vacation for those of us still on school calendars, whether mentally/emotionally or practically (by teaching, being in school, or having school-aged kids around the house). But when you work for yourself, whether you have paying clients or just write for (soon-to-be-less-)imaginary (one hopes) readers, how do you know when it's time to quit? Not quit working -- just quit for the day, quit for the weekend, quit for the summer? Do you take work on vacation? I recently went away for two weeks. "Recently" meaning "last month." I didn't take work -- a couple of things found me anyway, but I mostly punted them until I got home. It was refreshing. On the daily level, I usually find it

Boy oh Boy, Girl

A few weeks ago, I got some interesting feedback on a short story. The story is written from the point of view of a guy. (Although the character is male, I would not call him a man.) The woman who read the story -- someone I'd never met before -- said that she was sure it had been written by a guy. I took that as a compliment, because she obviously meant to indicate that the character rang true to her -- not that she found it astounding that any female person could create a convincing man (or guy). But it reminded me of an old podcast I'd just heard: "Mad Women," an episode of  The Age of Persuasion on CBC radio. The program looks at advertising, as does "Under the Influence." Both interesting programs. "Mad Women" features work from women in advertising throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. The podcast goes into more detail than the material on the website and is worth listening to. I don't buy into the idea that "only wo

Taking Stock

In March 2010, I received a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to support the creation of a short story collection. Since then, five of the ten works I proposed in the collection (and revised extensively, thanks to the $upport) have found homes. * "Iceberg," The Blind Hem www.theblindhem.com , May 4, 2012. * "Improvisation," chosen as part of the Liar, Liar project of Northern Mosaic, an integrated arts organization based in Thunder Bay. * "Walking Out," South Dakota Review 49.3 (Fall 2011).  * "MacDonald Variety," Prairie Fire 32.3 (Fall 2011). * "Thirty-Two Faces," 11th edition of Ten Stories High , the annual anthology of short fiction published by the Niagara Branch of the Canadian Authors Association. I have nattered around before about the difficulties I get into when I try to apply the mindset and metrics from "writing as a day job" to writing fiction and essays. However, taking stock is one activity

Fashionably Recognized

My short story, "Iceberg," is featured at The Blind Hem today and throughout this weekend. You can find it here:  http://www.theblindhem.com/1489/iceberg/ The Blind Hem is a site related to fashion. Let me repeat that, for those who have seen my extensive collection of jeans and t-shirts (and flipflops, though they are mostly for show up here) and may doubt the validity of that statement.* Fashion. The clothing kind. Oh, here, I'll let them tell you: Our mission is to portray fashion and personal style in an intelligent & honest way, through words and art. We believe in diversity, inclusivity, feminism and truth. Our features range from non-fiction to fiction to art and photography. We are interested in the different lenses through which personal style, feminism and society can be viewed – and we are interested in the stories behind the clothes. Go there and read -- and although it would be great for you to read my story (and send your friends to read it, too)

Tick Tock, Drip Drop

I've written before about time, and about how suffering for 25 minutes works for me. (Thanks, Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project .) It still works for me. Doing the taxes this year has been far less difficult (one country down, one to go). I maintain some knowledge of the complex financial tapestry that is my life, 25 minutes a week (Money Monday). I've worked through nearly all my photos and have a list the length of my arm of other projects to assign to a day. Little bits of time add up. Recently, I noticed that process in reverse. The other day, I used the last coffee filter in the package. (Yes, we use paper coffee filters. We're quirky geezers in some ways, and dadburnit, we like our paper coffee filters. Also our traditional 12-cup coffee makers.) The last coffee filter: one of those moments I wasn't sure would ever occur, which is why I noticed it. We (I) go through a carton of milk in less than a week, so I'm always aware of the milk supply.* We b

April: the true Janus Face

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So here's the deal. I'm home from vacation in Tucson, which I enjoyed mightily. It was a well-filling experience. But, as an adult with allegiances in two countries, I allocate the entire month of April to income tax. Actually, I pay someone else to do my Canadian taxes, which helps, but there's still a lot of paperwork to assemble.  Plus, I have this "thing" about paying someone else to help me tell the US IRS that I don't, in fact, owe taxes, because I pay up here and the two countries have signed a treaty. Therefore, I do my own US taxes. Which mostly involves whining, since the paperwork is all assembled for the Canadian accountant. But it's still a project.  All of which is a big over-explanation of why today is another picture day. Two pictures, actually -- taken the "Day of Two Sunrises." Sunrises actually aren't straight "up" from a spot on the horizon (a factoid I didn't really understand till I lived

What Month is Like a Command? March

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The specific day that's like a command: March 4th. Thank you, Peggy of Otowi Station Bookstore . Here are the two shots I used for my family's calendar in March. If you've only been here in the summer, it's hard to imagine scenes like this. Which is why I include so many winter shots.

I Love I Love I Love My Calendar Shot: February

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As I mentioned last week , I'm vacationing. (Strange concept for a writer.) While I'm gone, I'm sharing photos from the calendar I create for my family every year. I should mention that, being a word person, I often include words with these shots. In the past, I've used poems that were meaningful to my mother and grandmother, and excerpts from various other bits of writing that my mother left behind. This year, I used a quote for M. Scott Momaday, which you can read here . I divided the last three statements on the page among the twelve months of the year.

Of Calendars and Photos: January

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I live in a spot that's near and dear to me and my siblings, so every year their Christmas present from me is a calendar. The old-fashioned, paper kind. It's retro! This month, I'm taking a bit of vacation and thought I'd share some of the calendar photos here in the meantime. (You can share, too -- just link to this, please.) January's sunrise shot, taken in September, 2011.

Walked Out

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In the mailbox yesterday: That, my friends, is the cover of the South Dakota Review, issue 49.3, which contains my story "Walking Out." South Dakota Review is going through what it calls "an ambitious transitional phase," so now would be a really good time to subscribe or submit ! Of course, you should read a sample issue before submitting. Why not this one ?? On the "subscribe" page, you'll find that the "most current" issue is only $10. Less than the cost of a movie ticket, and many more hours of entertainment. Thanks, South Dakota Review!