Tag Archives: blogging

Rearview Mirror on a Summer

IMG_20170720_165323549

Long Beach, Vancouver Island

September has come, it is hers / Whose vitality leaps in the autumn…*

Except that my vitality ain’t doing too much leaping at the moment. I’m still scrambling to catch up with the long, busy, and, above all, “away” summer – you’ve seen a few of the pictures. We left home on July 9th; spent two weeks in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island; came home; then after all of two days I hopped on a plane (or rather, a series of them), and headed for Europe for a month. A few days of sightseeing in Munich; three weeks of family stuff (helping with a move, to be precise); then to cap it off, three glorious days in London.

IMG_20170729_111301263_crop

Marienplatz, Munich, with Mary’s Column and Old Town Hall

Six weeks, 1500 photos, a wealth of experiences and memories. My house and garden, meanwhile, went to pot. As for my writing – well, I was going to say that nothing happened on that front, either. But that would actually be quite untrue. No, I didn’t really put any words to paper (or screen, as it were). But among those 1500 photos are quite a few that I took specifically as references for my WIP (that’s short for Work In Progress, for the un-artsy of you). The whole time in Germany I was soaking up atmosphere, sounds, tastes, sights – all with a mind to how that could be put to paper. My hotel in London was a converted Regency townhouse – inspiration pure (I might just have to write a Regency novel one of these days just so I can set it in that street; it was called Burton Crescent in those days).

IMG_20170820_192842281

Cartwright Gardens, Bloomsbury

IMG_20170823_074633372

I want to go back…

One street over, Tavistock Square, was where both Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens lived for a while and wrote To the Lighthouse and A Tale of Two Cities, respectively. Five minutes walk up the street was the British Library – I got to see original manuscripts by (i.e. stare in awe at the notebooks of) Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Oscar Wilde; my jaw literally dropped when in one of the gorgeous glass cases I saw the Lindisfarne Gospels, and in another the Codex Sinaiticus… But I didn’t just revel in high-brow literature – I stopped in at King’s Cross Station and took a look at the Platform 9 3/4 store with its trolley stuck into the wall, too.

IMG_20170822_171838645

The one and only portrait of Jane Austen, by her sister Cassandra. National Portrait Gallery, London.

I drank Bavarian beer in Munich, Württemberger wine in Stuttgart, and English cider in London; I ate pork roast with dumplings in the Hofbräuhaus, lentils and spätzle in the old part of Stuttgart, and beef-and-ale pie in a pub by King’s Cross. I got claustrophobic in the Bloody Tower as one of the bloody masses of tourists and sat in silence in the Stiftskirche in Stuttgart among a few other visitors stopped in to pray. I revelled in train rides and was moved to tears by world-famous paintings. And in between, I packed boxes and unpacked boxes; walked to the grocery store, walked to public transit, walked to visit people, and on Sundays went for walks by way of recreation.

IMG_20170821_184154644

Beef pie and Symonds cider, in honest-to-goodness London pub

And now I’m back home in the land of peaches and salsa and grapes, where one has to take the car even to buy a jug of milk. I have limitless wi-fi again, so I’m catching up with what I’ve missed on the internet (which I haven’t actually missed that much – I’m considering making this a lifestyle). And I’m bound and determined to get back to writing. I have great good intentions to regularly sit down and work on my, well, work. One can always be optimistic, no? I certainly have enough inspiration to carry me along for a while.

Life, the Universe, and a Long Busy Travelling Summer. Now to process all those impressions…

IMG_20170729_165944949

Franz Marc, “Birds”. Lenbachhaus, Munich. So beautiful it made me cry.

*opening line from a poem by Louis McNeice, Autumn Journal

Advertisements

6 Comments

Filed under life, this and that, travelling, writing

Jill of All Trades

IMG_20160616_074600

Way back, when I first started blogging, I took a blogging course. If you want readers, the teacher said, make your blog be about something. Have a focus! But I didn’t. Because I can’t.

There are lots of blogs that are about one thing, and one thing only. I have friends who write about sewing or knitting. There’s several blogs I follow that are all about fairy tales (like this, or this one). Writers, of course, have blogs about writing. There are great blogs about food (incredible numbers of them! reams of them! mountains of them!). Or Jane Austen. Or photography. Or Norfolk in the 18th century.

To be honest, I feel a bit inferior to those bloggers, if not a bit jealous of them. They’re serious about what they’re doing. They have lots of followers. They know their stuff; their blogs are interesting. But mine… Well, there’s food. And fairy tales. And photos. And Austen, and writing, and pottery and soap-making and history and gardening and cats and herbology and musings on mental health; and then the occasional interlude with a small stuffed bear (he’s been there from the very beginning).

IMG_20170609_062438594_HDR

Chive vinegar I made yesterday

Stick with one thing? I’m sorry, I can’t. Never have been able to. No, I don’t have ADHD (Squirrel!) – more like CCS, Chronic Curiosity Syndrome. There are just too many interesting topics out there for me to restrain myself to just one. I’ll get bitten by an interest bug, and then I’m utterly passionate about it for a while – and then I lose interest, and move on to something else.

Some fifteen years ago, I was crazy about fish – as in, aquaria, not the kind you cook. I’d haunt the pet shops, drooling over the nice setups with the 30-gallon tanks and live plants. A few years before that, it was heirloom sewing and embroidery – hand-stitching clothes with no sewing machine whatsoever (I made some tiny little night gowns for my new baby, and a couple of rag dolls). Cooking. Quilting. Bread making. Soaping. Painting (both walls and pictures – the latter in watercolour, oil, acrylic, pastels…). English history. Calligraphy. Jewellery making. Dollhouses. Furniture building. Art history. Guitar (and recorder, percussion, harmonica; even a tiny bit of piano and pan flute…). Growing herbs, and using them for food and medicine. Been there, done that, all of it; and plenty others besides.

Very Small Ink People Crop

“Very Small Ink People”, 2011. Ink & Watercolour, 8×10″.

I am, indeed, a Jill of All Trades. But you know the rest of that saying, don’t you? Jack of all trades, master of none. That’s because Jack never sticks with anything long enough to get really good at it.

That’s me – there’s a lot of things that I know how to do or know something about, but it’s all at the level of a first-year apprentice. I play guitar quite well, but nobody would come to hear me in concert. I can paint, but no one is beating on my door begging me for another piece to add to their collection. I’m a darn good cook, even if I say so myself, but I’m not about to open a restaurant. I can make pottery dishes, but they’re none of them exactly the same size or shape, or else great one-off pieces of art. I’m a mine of trivia on history and Jane Austen and fairy tales and herb lore and folk customs, but I’m not going to write books on any of those topics.

Well, maybe not books – but I can write blog posts. Snippets of any and all of these things. That’s why this blog is called “amo vitam” – “I love life”. Some of everything. Jack of all trades, master of none.

Actually, I do have a Master’s degree. But guess what it’s in? I’m a Master of Arts, in Integrated Studies. I got a degree in not making up my mind; I’m a Master of Some-of-Everything-Please. Jill of All Trades, Mistress of Mixed Pickles.

And so that’s what this blog is, too: a great big crock of mixed pickles. (Hmm, crock. Sauerkraut. I want a Sauerkraut crock, one of those straight-sided buff stoneware ones, for making and storing homemade Kraut like they did in the Old Country. I should make myself one. Let’s see… Oh! Oops, sorry, where were we? Right, blog. Mixed pickles.) Yes, I know that it won’t make my blog one of those go-to ones for expert information; that it won’t be one of those sites that people quote in academic papers. And you know what? I think I’m okay with that.

Life, the Universe, and Everything. It’s always been about that.

IMG_20170609_114336360

Steve and some patriotic flowers.

 

8 Comments

Filed under life, this and that

This and That

We just spent a few days away, south of the border (they call washrooms restrooms there, and Mars bars are Milky Ways), which meant I didn’t have time to read all the blog posts that dropped into my inbox for the last few days. Which, in turn, made me realise just how prolific my bloggy friends are and how un-prolific I’ve been on the blogging front myself this summer.

But then again, that seems par for the course for me in summer. It gets hot and I get miserable, plus there’s all the canning and other food processing to do, plus there’s company, and trips away, and…

But I’ll spare you further excuses. And just so you can’t say that I never say nothin’, here’s a post for you today. With a picture, no less – highly symbolic, I’m sure: a guy painting a house a brand-new colour, right in the middle of Vancouver. New beginnings. From dated sky-blue to a tidy neutral white. Plus, the painter looks so decorative standing there on his ladder, like somebody put him there just for the sake of the composition. So that counts as significant and meaningful by way of a blog post, no?

painter

Life, the Universe, and New Paint on an Old Building. Happy September, what’s left of it!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, this and that

How to Handle Writer Jealousy

This is such an excellent post by Kate M. Colby, I had to reblog it to share with you all. Her advice is actually good for all kinds of jealousy, not just that of one writer for another (so don’t think you have an excuse not to read & apply it). I shall now try to stop feeling jealous of Kate’s writer & blogger success, and do something about mine instead…

Kate M. Colby

envyWe’ve all been there.

Your classmate’s story is praised in workshop, while yours is torn apart.

“Poorly written” romances dominate best-seller lists, while your science fiction novel languishes in Amazon’s 2,000,000 ranking spot.

The author you follow on Instagram posts their third cover reveal this year, while you struggle to finish your manuscript.

There’s a thousand ways that we writers experience jealousy of other authors. We constantly compare ourselves to our peers in writing groups, our Internet friends, or the hallowed greats like Stephen King. We long for the secret to their success. How do they write a first draft so quickly? How do they have so many Pinterest followers? Where do they find time to publish and write a daily blog?

We take other writers’ successes as inherent failures in ourselves as creatives. Newsflash: art isn’t a zero-sum game.

Let me get personal for a minute. Throughout high school and university, I longed to…

View original post 896 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under life, writing

Wordy Wednesday

It seems time is just slipping through my grasp these days. Time, and the ability to generate words. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, but somehow, sitting down at the computer, opening a document, and putting those things into actual words and coherent sentences seems to not be happening.

There’s just been too much other stuff occupying my time and, more importantly, my headspace. For one, there’s a new project I’ve got in the offing which I will tell you about soon. [By the way, did you know that the word “offing” means “the horizon on a sea shore”? So if something is “in the offing”, it’s just showing up on the horizon and about to sail into harbour. I learned that from the annotations the last time I had to read Heart of Darkness in lit class. Anyway…] There’s stories to edit and get ready to publish – yes, they’re still coming. Soon! I promise! And then there’s ordinary life – you know, dust bunnies, family meals, laundry, emails… Between all of that, somehow, elaborate erudition on this blog has been elusive.

Hence the “Wordless Wednesday” posts; one picture being worth etc. etc. And it’s true – sometimes you can say so much with just an image. Why bother spoiling the impact with excessive verbiage? That’s even true for the writer’s craft: sometimes one single verbal image is worth more than pages of exposition (it’s what’s known as the “Show, don’t tell!” rule).

And even right here – I’ve run out of things to say that actually make sense. But I just didn’t want to leave you hanging in cyberspace, thinking that I’ve abandoned you all and gone off to party with the cyber fairies (they throw mean parties, those little critters). I hope that my thoughts will, soon, gel into sense again, so I can once more drop my pearls of wisdom (or witless waffling?) into your path.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with a picture worth of Wordy Wednesday – another act of random refrigerator poetry:

IMG_20160109_220123
And that, today, was Life, the Universe, and a Wordy Wednesday.

6 Comments

Filed under blogging, life, Wordless Wednesday