Beginning and Ending

Though it may be another month before we see flowers…we know it's coming.

Though it may be another month before we see flowers…we know it’s coming.

The wind is roaring in the night;
ice-laden branches tremble.
Try to remember the beauty of the snow,
its existence is fleeting, though long and nearly over.
Under its blanket, the earth is stirring —
can you feel the seeds beginning to quiver?
Cells itching to divide,
roots stretching, testing their strength,
though the soil is still frozen and unmoving.
Do you smell the meltwater
as the icicles crash their rippled spears to the ground?
They form again, smaller;
Winter does not give up its rule easily,
But the wind is from the south,
And the sun is stronger.

These huge reminders of the cold fell from the roof today. The days are mild enough to avoid wearing a coat for a quick trip to the store. The snow is turning to slush, though there is ice underneath. All signs are good...

These huge reminders of the cold fell from the roof today. The days are mild enough to avoid wearing a coat for a quick trip to the store. The snow is turning to slush, though there is ice underneath. All signs are good…

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Funky Reading Time

My son has joined a reading club at school, to increase / improve his French. He’s committed to reading 15 min a night for the next several weeks, and is tracking how long it takes him to read a book for his teacher.

I miss reading every night for my own pleasure. I put a goal on my Goodreads to read 25 books this year, and so far I’ve only read 5. I’m halfway through one right now, but I find that at the end of a day, my impulse to lose myself in a book is curtailed by exhaustion. I used to read every night, when I was younger. During dinner. In the bathroom. So what happened?

And how do I change it back?

I’ve started by stacking my to-read list, which is close to 50 now, and putting all of the print books I have bought in the last year but have yet to read next to my bed. If I’m too tired, or my husband is trying to sleep, that’s okay. It’s a step.

We’re looking at buying a “cuddle” chair — a lovely big round chair that I can curl up in completely with a good book and a cup of tea. I have problems getting comfortable on our couch or our loveseat, simply because I’m tall. I would love to have a designated “reading corner” with this cuddle chair, next to my plant stand. There is enough room under and among the plants to stack a number of to-be-reads, store my Kobo, and so on. I’m anticipating, too, that composing my own fiction would be nice in a big round comfy chair.

Imagine being curled up with a good book and a cup of tea in this lovely chair...

Imagine being curled up with a good book and a cup of tea in this lovely chair…

I can imagine my dog wanting to enjoy it, too. And maybe children fighting over it.

Of course, I realize that I don’t really need a new comfy place to sit in order to lose myself in a book. Maybe it’s that I haven’t been really grabbed by anything in the last two weeks. It could be part of my annual SAD, the exhaustion of work getting in the way, or parenting itself. I get awfully grumpy when I am disturbed in the middle of a good read, so I don’t like to sink into a book when my children are still up and needing attention. On the other hand, it’s good for them to see me reading, and I take the time to read with them, as well. (And then I end up getting grumpy when one of them interrupts with questions. “No book for you! Come back, 1 day!” [50 points if you can name the pop culture reference here, lol]

Strangely, I’m not really one for audio books, either. I’ve tried, but again, interruptions make me angry. Like being caught on a swing in mid-curve, or being jolted out of a daydream, jostled when getting in line or hitting an unexpected pothole while riding a bike. I guess maybe that’s why I’ve been avoiding reading lately. When I get into a book, I want to read it for hours. Finish it in one go, if I can. As a parent, I don’t get to do that. It’s a bit frustrating.

So, dear friends, what do you do when reading is in a rut? How do you get out of your funk? What books do you turn to for escape? And, do you have a special place for reading? What are you reading, right now?

Tonight, I shall resume my reading of Stained, by Ella James. And maybe finish it by the weekend.

Hopefully, anyway!

Pick up your copy of this most excellent anthology!

Many Voices: An Anthology of Student Writings

Written by the Students in Writer's Craft at KLDCS, 2012-2013

Written by the Students in Writer’s Craft at KLDCS, 2012-2013

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Many-Voices-Anthology-Student-Writings/dp/1482520028/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361839986&sr=8-1&keywords=many+voices+an+anthology+of+student+writings

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Many-Voices-Anthology-Writings-ebook/dp/B00BEMNAW8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1361839986&sr=8-2&keywords=many+voices+an+anthology+of+student+writings

I know the writers of this anthology — they are wonderful! And the proceeds are going to charity: SickKids Foundation, to support the best children’s hospital in North America.

I write down my dreams, and I look for balance

I had a fabulous dream the other morning, right after I turned the alarm clock off (it was on the weekend) and before I actually woke up enough to get out of bed.

I dreamed about time travel, in two or three different scenarios. There was a small machine rather steam-punk in design, which looked kind of like an old-fashioned camera. It accidentally sent a young man back three hundred years to a pirate ship. Somehow, he was either recalled or managed to trigger a return switch he’d carried with him — the details are fuzzy — but when he came back, he was pleased to see evidence of his journey had ended up in a nearby museum: his name carved into a piece of the ship, a sketch by the ship’s doctor, various souvenirs which gave credence to his claims. His friends were amused, but the creator of the time machine, overhearing his stories, became obsessed with finding out how to work the thing again. My protagonist refused to assist, however, being well aware of the potential ramifications of attempting to change history, even as a witness — that had been one of his primary concerns, as well as getting home. The scientist/inventor only wanted to go see the painting of the Mona Lisa, he pleaded, but my hero saw through the ruse and smashed the steam-punk time-travelling device to pieces.

I try to write down my dreams as often as I can, on the excellent advice of my dear friend Tara Fox Hall, but I don’t always have the chance. I dislike the potential of waking up my husband in the middle of the night. My children take up much of my attention first thing in the morning, and then I’m on the go throughout the day (in spite of my frequent appearances on FB & Twitter). But I think it’s important to try to record my imagination’s wanderings as much as I can. It’s intriguing to see where my unconscious goes…what characters from different movies, tv shows, real life, and books will appear, whether I’m seeing the world as myself or in a different body, and even the settings are significant. I often dream of myself in a place I’ve once lived, but sometimes I am in a setting only viewed in a book or on screen. If I dream of tornadoes, it’s typically because of stress.

I haven’t had many stress dreams lately. Been managing this winter considerably better than the previous year. We’re almost through February, the weather is becoming milder, and I’ve had many positive things to keep me going: good friends, anticipating the release of Wind and Shadow in April (waiting with bated breath to hear from my cover artist and my editor!), and helping my students to complete their class anthology. I’ve gotten through my children’s birthday parties, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s… I’ve also amassed a significant number of dreams as story starters. And I’ve been going to the gym, trying to improve my fitness levels.

As always, though, finding an effective balance remains a challenge. I’m not sure I’ll ever find a satisfying way to do all the things I need and want to do in a week or a day. But I continue fighting the good fight. It’s all I can do, right?