blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Dev had a minor car incident last night, driving home from AwesomeCon.

He hit a pothole. The option was to swerve into oncoming traffic or into the ditch. I'm so thankful he had the skill to stay on the road (and so thankful my dad taught him how to drive your way out of an accident).

Hitting a pothole in a low profile car is a matter of major suckitude. It looks like it'll be Wednesday before the adjuster can come take a look. At first, I thought the damage was fairly minor. But now... well, I just don't know. We'll see.

Oh, and we will be filing a claim with the city. A little investigation today shows this stretch of road is a known, and unaddressed, problem.

Poor Dev felt awful about it. But really, from what he described, he was taking precautions and didn't really have any options. And I can't emphasize enough how grateful I am that my boy made it home.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Tonight is Prom Night. Dev just headed out to pick up his date for dinner before prom. I think he's most excited about the fact he gets to drive his own car.

Last year, he went to prom with a girl he'd known for years AND needed me to be the driver. This year he just... drove off. :) Thus I had to grab a few pictures before he headed out, and hope he gets at least one picture of him with his date!

Pictures! )


My handsome boy!
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I just put my father on a plane for home. He stayed an extra day to help Dev tinker with the car and to take him out practice-driving a little more. (The car is a manual.)

Dev's new car is now fully operational, and he drove it to work on his own for the first time. We are both excited about the freedom this gives us. No more are we forever tied to the intricacies of each other's schedules! No more will we miss our individual events because the car must be used by another! No more will I be paying for his gas! (Okay, so that one makes only me happy, but hey.)

Here's the pic we took last week:

100_2487

In other news, almost no progress was made on the writing front since Thursday. There were simply too many other things to do, including spending time with Dad. But the novella shouldn't take more than a couple days to get into shape, as I've had plenty of driving-hours to think through the changes I want to make and how I want to make them. Not enough time, though, to come up with a new title...

Once the novella is out to betas, I'll start working through beta-feedback for Sand of Bone. And when that's done, I'll send it off for proofing and start on Breath of Stone.

Speaking of beta-readers... I feel bad asking those who have just finished/are still finishing the beta for Sand to pick up yet another piece. If you're up for it--cool! If not--that's cool, too! :) So if there are folks out there who'd be interested in beta-reading a 23K fantasy adventure novella that's fairly traditional, set in a desert culture, let me know.

But now, I've thirty minutes before I head out for tonight's teaching. It's women's-class night, so I'm looking forward to it.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
So... Dev had his first little accident last night. He didn't cut the corner tightly enough when pulling into a parking space, and his front bumper clipped the hubcap of the car beside him. He did everything right--went into the restaurant, asked the staff to help him find the car's owner, exchanged info, and spoke with the officer who happened to be there.

Then the poor kid called me and burst into tears while giving an incoherent explanation filled with apologies.

The damage to our car is so small--a dent about the size of a baseball on the bumper and a couple smudges on the paint. It sounds like the other car had damage only to the hubcap. The officer was very helpful and supportive to Dev (who was, apparently, shaking like crazy). The driver of the other car was nice. Since she was driving her parents' car, too, I've put in a call to them so we can all discuss the quickest way to settle the matter. I'm guessing the damage is going to be way below my insurance deductible.

The crappiest part happened when the owner of the car parked on the other side of Dev tried to blame Dev for pre-existing damage to his own vehicle. Fortunately, the officer stepped in to point out there wasn't a smidge of damage on that side of Dev's car so there would be no taking advantage of the situation.

Now my son is totally depressed today over what happened, and what he might have to pay. For him, this is a HUGE deal--something I have to remind myself of so I don't minimalize his feelings by using my own yardstick for measurement. Considering what I and my sister pulled as teenagers--things my parents knew of, and things they never heard of--an accident such as Dev's would have been the smallest of blips, discussed over dinner and pretty much settled by dessert. But Dev is such a good kid, the accident is the worst thing he's done in years!

I'm glad he had work today. Physical stuff has a way of purging self-accusations sometimes. Hopefully he'll talk with Grandpa tonight, and that will help him stop beating himself up.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
The dogs started their raw food diet last week, chowing down on chicken quarters every morning. Yesterday they had rack of lamb as a treat. In the evening, they have a raw apple, carrots, or banana. They both believe this raw food thing is the bestest most wonderfulest idea ever.

Despite all the reading and research I've done on raw feeding over the last year-plus, I still couldn't shake my fear of feeding the dogs raw chicken bones. Thus I sat on the back porch as they ate, ready to intervene at the first sign of trouble.

Hah.

Ty the Wonderdog had no trouble at all--expected, since he lived on the farm for years and dined on... whatever he and the other farm dog sniffed out in the woods. Seriously, there was a patch of meadow up the hill from our house we nicknamed The Bone Yard because it was the dogs' favorite place to stash their treasure when they could eat no more. I once found a... a thing that so grossed me out, I was determined to get rid of it. After a couple attempts the dogs foiled, I decided to dump it in the fast-moving river, figuring the coyotes that roamed in the woods down there would eventually grab it. That was not to be. Instead the dogs swam down the river to retrieve the thing and return it to The Bone Yard.

So yes, Ty is quite accustomed to raw food.

Gambit was another matter. He was absolutely certain he should love-love-love the chunk of raw meat in his mouth, but he couldn't figure out how to eat it. By the time Ty was licking his lips in satisfaction, Gambit was just starting to experiment with tearing off little nibbles. Ty looked on as Gambit went from nibbling to gnawing. I'm sure he would have pitched in to demonstrate technique, if I hadn't been watching. But in the end, Gambit succeeded in finishing his meal.

Seven raw meals later, it's obvious they're not having trouble with bones, or any other part of the meal. Gambit still takes longer to eat his portion than Ty, but danged near any creature would take longer to eat than Ty.

As for the miscellany:

I've been scolded about working my arm too much--a scolding brought about because I was stupid and re-injured it and am back to wearing a soft brace all the time.

Related to the above, I'm sitting on the Black Belt Review Board today--very excited to watch one of my students test, and excited/sad to watch three adults of my own cohort test because I was supposed to be testing with them.

We shall see how much progress I can make on Crossroads before the end of November. Yesterday was my day to believe everything I write is junk. Stupid junk. Stupid, derivative, incomprehensible, boring junk. But I've been here before and, just like my occasional certainty I'm a clumsy and substandard karateka, the feeling passes.

The above feeling was shown the door this morning, when I got a note from a friend that said his coworker liked my first book and wanted to know when the next one would be coming out.

And, in the most important news of all... DEV PASSED THE WRITTEN DRIVING TEST AND NOW HOLDS A REAL LICENSE. This means that, on Sunday, I can hand him the car keys, he can drive himself to and from work, and I can stay home.

It also means the beginning of fret-festivals every time he leaves the house on his own. I'm assuming the edges of that worry will dull over time, much the same way as every other fear.

Lastly, and least importantly, I've been feeling restless again. Truly, I should have figured out how to have a career as a travel writer. It's been months since I've traveled more than 50 miles from home. I'll be heading to Denver in December, but will be staying with family, so that doesn't really count.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
I always feel a bit out of sync for the week after karate camp. The camp facility has a decent internet connection, and though I tend to read postings and such during the week, everything but the training and the teaching seems so very far away.

And this time, I've a shiny new kata to work on alongside the other three I'm fine-tuning. By the end of August, I'll need to add polish to two additional weapons katas as well.

My teacher would really, really like to see me test for Sandan in November. I would as well, but those weapons katas aren't anywhere near where they ought to be.

And Dev needs a resume, and still needs to get his driver's license (a matter he seems strangely under-motivated to address). And we're finalizing his upcoming school year's commitments.

So I'm back, and full of ideas, and wanting to finish a couple short projects, yet the actual production end is veeeeeeery sloooooow.

And I'm still trying to unwrap my head from karate long enough to make interesting responses to emails, posts, and such.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Today the 30-day blog challenge is to describe a typical day from my life.

I do not have typical days.

The best and the worst thing about being self-employed in three different fields--karate, wellness, writing--while also homeschooling a teenager is that no two consecutive days will be alike. Toss in a sister who works as a flight attendant while parenting my little nephews, parents who love to spend time with extended family, and two crazy-sweet dogs, and it is guaranteed days will be interesting in the ancient proverb sense.

Let's take today, for instance.

Up at eight in the morn (because I suck at early rising) to get laundry rolling and hoe the garden before it gets to muggy. By nine, the garden has been weeded, laundry is well underway, breakfast has been eaten by human and canine residents, and I've settled in to answer wellness emails while Dev works through his assignments in algebra and economics. We talk about Doctor Who somewhere in there. At a few minutes after eleven, Dev and I head out the door, with Dev driving. (We're trying to figure out how to get the time for his driving test in before the end of the month.)

Dev sees his econ/algebra teacher for two hours. In that time, I run to the printing shop to pick up karate-related stuff, then see a karate student at his own factory to provide a private lesson on kata and kicks. We finish ten minutes late, which means I barely make it back to the teacher's office in time. But the teacher is also running late, so all's good. I return phone calls while I wait: a client looking for info on digestive enzymes, the mechanic trying to schedule what might be an all-day job for my car, someone seeking information on karate classes.

By the time we return home, it's a little after two. The dogs dance on their back legs as if we've been gone forever and threatened to never return. Fortunately, the Lab didn't find any unattended food items to devour, and the Bull-Boxer-Rotty didn't tear up anything in his crate, so their greetings were well-received. We indulge in many minutes of playing with the dogs because it makes the entire day better for all involved.

Then came the midday ninety minutes with Dev, when we make something quick and easy for lunch before sitting down to watch one of the nighttime shows we record to watch together. Today was the most recent episode of Falling Skies. I ate a Sloppy Joe and salad. Dev had the Moo Shu left over from last night and a banana.

After the show, we chatted for a bit before Dev had to start his government assignment and I had to be out the door. I reached the dojo just five minutes ahead of both my instructor and my sparring partner. Fifteen minutes of kata work and forty-five minutes of sparring followed. Less than five minutes after the end of practice, I bowed beginning students on the mat for the first class of the evening. Four hours later, around nine, I bowed my last students off the mat. In between, I taught some students a new kata, others a new throw, then worked as both teacher and uki for an hour of multiple-attacker self-defense.

Upon arriving home, a shower--quick and cold--was the second order of business. The first was to hug Dev. Since Dev is working on a Minecraft something or other video and chatting with his international friends, I am left to my own devices: more answering of email, petting the crazy sweet dogs, and writing this post. By eleven, I'll be settled enough to get some fiction in before my eyes begin to cross. By midnight, I'll curl up in bed with my yet-nameless Kindle, and read until I fall asleep somewhere around one in the morn.

And that's about as typical as it gets around here. Tomorrow I'll teach karate again in the evening, and Dev and I will still spend our midday time together, but everything else will be different.

That midday time is most precious to me. Because Dev and I often work evenings, we can't have dinner together very often. Instead, lunch is our time.
blairmacg: (FeatherFlow)
Just a general round-up:

1.  Dev and I are both so very relieved and happy to "take back" our homeschooling plans.  Schooling through Indiana University seemed like a good idea, and probably would have been great about five years ago.  Alas, their class work and degree requirements shifted toward "Common Core" at the same time the university cut its staff.  We were left with extremely limited class options (no more ability to take dual credit courses, no more flexibility for degree completion, a mere handful of electives) while paying way too much for what had become, essentially, lessons I had to mostly teach anyway.  Besides, most of the classes were simply classroom-based methods jammed onto the internet.  Online classes must be structured differently to be effective!

After a great deal of research--and confiming of said research with outside sources--I decided to quit fretting over "accredidation" and focus on, y'know, the learning.  An increasing number of colleges and universities are standardizing the process of evaluating homeschooled students for admissions, and we have guidelines now on how to prepare and present a homeschool transcript and portfolio.  We already have our reading lists, textbooks on every subject but biology and chemistry, an excellent math tutor who can't wait to see how far Dev can go, free courses available online through awesome colleges and universities, and a variety of community professionals who have agreed to show Dev different parts of their career and business.  And in August, we begin the homeschool version of Rosetta Stone's Italian.

2. Dev is heading to aviation ground school for high schoolers this summer.  My father has taught at this program for years, and Dev would have attended last were it not for a conflict with karate camp.  (Last year was his tenth year ata karate camp, and he wasn't about to miss that!).  Dev is thrilled, and so am I.  For five whole days, I will have nothing to worry about except my own appointments and classes.  Woohoo!

3.  I'm still coming around, mentally, from the loss of Patricia.  Just a few months ago, when it seemed the cancer had been fought back yet again, she and I were discussing moving in together again in about a year and a half.  I suppose both of us should have known better than to hope for such time, but neither one of mentioned a second thought.  Maybe we both simply needed to believe it.

4.  Related to all of the above, everything related to writing is taking far longer than it should.  It isn't a matter of inspiration or willingness.  It is time.  Effing time.  One of the things I'm doing to address that is cutting my garden size in half.  This is not the year I can spend oodles of time out there during the growing season, or many hours processing the bounty of a large garden at harvest time.

5.  Should the universie be willing and Dev be on his game, he will have his driver's license sometime in the next thirty days.  We'll do the road test likely in the last week of May, and the written test the second week of June.  Dev wants more car than he can afford right now, so we'll likely share a vehicle for awhile.  This won't be an issue over the summer--when he plans to stack up a bunch of hours--though I can't see us going much beyond November without a second vehicle.

6. And the dojo? Still humming along. I'm averaging between five and six new students a month, though that will likely drop to one or two over summer months. We're now gearing up for summer camp, less than two months away. Part of me does wish I could attend as a mere student again. Since I'm running the dojo, running Dev's schooling, running my own publishing, and running my new (in development) wellness project, I'm getting tired of being in charge of something all the time!
blairmacg: (Default)

I spent over an hour cleaning out my car.

Well, that's not exactly true.  I spent twenty minutes cleaning out the car and trunk, ten minutes wiping down all the surfaces, and forty-five minutes vacuuming dog hair from the seats, floor, and crevices.  Gambit--boxer and hound--sheds hardly at all.  Ty Handsome--all Lab--sheds so much, one might believe tribbles were taking over the home if dog-hair removal isn't practiced daily.  It doesn't help that the unseasonable warmth caused him to throw his winter coat early.

But enough about dreary chores performed for the love of dog.

Dev was driving us down a two-lane state highway, and there was a fair bit of traffic in both directions, all at fifty-five to sixty mph.  He had to make a left turn.  No stop sign, no stop light, not even a turn lane.  I tried to coach him through it, but he fixated on the dump truck coming up behind us, and couldn't make a decision quickly enough.  When I told him to slow down, he asked why--the worst thing a learning driver can do in the moment.  He ended up coming up to the turn way too fast, then missing the turn, then panicking, then stepping on the brake. I admit it: I yelled.  I yelled really, really loudly.  Something along the lines of, "GoGoGoGOOOO! MOVE or the FUCKING TRUCK will HIT US!!!!!!"

Dev got us down the road without a collision.

After extracting my fingers from the car's roof and retrieving my heart from the dashboard, we had yet another discussion about why he shouldn't ask why before following driving directions.  "No one stops so you can figure out the answer," I told him.  "You don't have a lot of time, so if I say you need to slow down or stop, it's because you need to do so right that moment--not after you weigh the options and determine I might be right."

(Okay, I said 'I told him' when I really should have said, "I yelled in a shrill voice that sounds way too much like my mother."  And the exclamation marks used below are an understatement of the conversation's force and volume.)

"But I've never made a turn like that before!"

"Even more reason for you to do what I told you to do, without arguing about it!  Let's go try it again."

"I can't!  It's freaking me out too much!"

"You have to learn how to do it!"

"No way!  I can't do it!  The trucks go too fast!"

"Dev, you can't go through life making nothing but right turns!"

Then there was a long pause, during which I assumed he was weighing my words and preparing to face his fear of the horse that had just thrown him.  Ha-ha-ha.

He says, "Actually, Mom, there was a study showing you could make all right turns, and get better gas mileage.  I think it was Mythbusters."

Miscellany

Apr. 1st, 2012 01:14 pm
blairmacg: (Default)

1.  I have 100 itsy bitsy seedlings on my dining room table, and another 100 to set today.  With all the warm weather, it's hard to remember the usual planting date for summer crops is still six weeks away.  By then, though, I should have hardy starters to set in the ground.

2.  After the last post, I had a friend ask if my feelings toward self-publishing had changed.  Nope.  Self-publishing has become an awesome option--one I plan to utilize for a mix of projects.  If they don't succeed...oh, well.  They likely wouldn't have succeeded in traditional publishing, either, and it's not as if trying a couple projects will "use up" all my ideas.  It isn't for everyone, and the burden of responsibility is greater when one self-publishes, but there are obviously opportunities there that didn't exist a couple years ago.

No, the last post was merely intended to point out the industry as a whole isn't dying.  It is changing and evolving and, just like smart folks who want to succeed in any field, it behooves us to understand the industry on our own rather than rely upon one-sided interpretations of others.  I read stuff I agree with.  I read stuff I think is bullshit.  I read stuff that's written with tact and stuff that's written with snark.  I read it all because confirmation bias is a very real phenomenon.  It's good to see what facts and angles both sides think worthy of mention.  Doveryai, no proveryai.

3.  A big hang-up on the forward motion with the wellness books was managing citations and such.  Stupid me, I was working from the pattern of paper books.  Academic paper books at that.  After downloading a reviewing the formatting of ebooks on similar topics, I quit worrying.  Pages should proceed with much greater speed now.

4.  In my little dojo, where I now have an almost even number of male and female students, the social limitations and expectations of gender are fading away.  It's pretty danged awesome, and fascinating to realize what subtle and common phrases/actions/beliefs are no longer spoken/practiced.  More on that as I figure it out.

5.  And to all writers--for the love of Pete, there ought to be more in a fantasy character's medicine bag than white willow bark.  Really.  When I see a character use white willow bark in combination with some other made-up assortment of natural remedies, I know the writer either didn't want to bother with looking up specifics, or doesn't know enough to understand there are other specifics.

So I'm putting this out there to y'all: if you need information on herbal medicine and/or healing foods for your characters, ask me.  This gives you the added advantage of discovering which traditional remedies have proven value and which ones don't, knowing what the herb will taste like, what its side effects may be, and what it actually does. 

No, it's not the same as asking a doctor.  Doctors aren't given coursework in the use of supplements and herbs.  Even the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is woefully incomplete at its most basic levels.  I teach classes--sometimes to medical professionals--on this stuff.

(True, most of your readers won't care.  But most readers don't care about whether you get horses, guns, and fight scenes right, either, and I've yet to hear anyone advise a writer to just not worry about it.)

6.  I really wanted to go hiking today.  But it's raining sporadically, and we'd have to drive an awfully long way to find a non-muddy place for us and the dogs.  Maybe it'll just be a Sunday drive kind of day, which would give Dev a couple solid hours behind the wheel.

7.  For the record, nothing here is related to 04/01.  Just sayin'.

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