My Beardie is making me eat healthier!

I realized this the other day: because Elizabeth Reptile eats fresh endive, fruits, and berries, in addition to crickets, I’ve been picking up small packets of mixed whole fruit pieces and berries every few days. She doesn’t eat them all, of course — I learned that the hard way, when I thought a tray of raspberries would last for her, and the majority ended up going bad. So we get to enjoy! And it’s much better to keep the fresh stuff on hand than cookies or doughnuts.

I went through an overdose of chocolate right before and the week after Valentine’s Day. Hubby’s been making me big baggies of vegetable sticks (carrots, peppers, celery, cucumbers) to take to work, when he has the time and we’ve been shopping to get them. I should start planning out my box gardens to produce my own, although I won’t be able to do anything for months yet. We might be fortunate enough to see melting in March, but even if the snow goes by April, nothing can go in the ground until May. And even then, there’s risk of frost until well into June.

So goes life in Northeastern Ontario.

It was a lovely day for skiing today, and this is why my thoughts are turning to spring. I may have gotten mild frostbite on my cheeks a few weeks ago, possibly when I was downhill skiing and my face was uncovered. (Skiing plus scarf over face near glasses = Tori can’t see worth a damn going down the hill.) There’s this feeling of dampness, icy and unpleasant, when my face gets cold outside, as if snow is melting there that I can’t wipe away. Or a feeling of mild tingling. I’m fortunate that it’s not worse than an annoyance: I haven’t experienced any peeling or visible irritation, but it’s a reminder to me to be careful and find a better way to protect my skin. I’m going to have to look into vented goggles for next year, too. But the good news is that we’re coming out of February and into March. It’s rather like moving “from the freezer and into the fridge” (Icequake). I’m optimistic that we might have seen the last of the -30 C temperatures for the year. Today it was a balmy -7 C on the hill, just gorgeous. Tomorrow should be more of the same.

I almost didn’t go skiing today, though. Woke up feeling grumpy and wiped out and I wanted to ignore the sunshine and blue sky. But having to pick up the fresh food for Elizabeth, and take Bridget to her ski lesson, got me moving. And at first, I figured I wasn’t up for skiing, myself — I’d just take a book to read, bring my knitting, do some marking. But by the time I got home with the goodies and was loading up the vehicle, I figured I should put my own equipment in the car in case I changed my mind. And by the time we arrived at the hill, after a nice warm drive in the sunlight — after I’d gotten more sun on my face and the fresh air — I was getting my own boots and skis on as soon as Bridget was off on her lesson.

Oh, but funny thing: while I was enjoying my afternoon (that hour of skiing went way too quickly this time, I could have happily stayed out all day), I wanted to take some pictures of the animal tracks I’d noticed in the otherwise unmarked snow next to the T-bar lift trail. So I pulled out my phone and pretty immediately dropped it. No stopping to pick it up — all I could do was watch helplessly, craning my neck behind me, as the T-bar pulled me further up the hill. The young snowboarders behind me saw the the phone (thank heavens I’d dropped it case-up, so its TARDIS design¬†was highly visible) and tried to get it, but they missed. I decided to wait at the top of the lift to see if anyone else would see it and grab it, and fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. But I decided not to try getting pics again. It’s too bad, because those tracks are really neat. I think I was seeing stories about mice foraging and chipmunks evading capture from foxes. I downloaded an app to help me identify the tracks. Maybe next time, I’ll hold my phone in my bare hand and do video instead — no messing with gloves, no clicking, just keep it smooth.

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An absent computer cord, an evening of skating, and a helping of parental guilt.

Left my computer cord at work, so this post is being composed on my iPhone.

I’d rather be typing on a keyboard. Oh, well. 

Had a small attack of the guilts tonight while watching our daughter in her skating show. I was sitting next to our teenager, who expressed a bit of jealousy and a wish that he had gotten involved in skating lessons this winter when I had first offered. So now he wants to try a month in the spring session, which I’m happy to provide. 

The guilt comes from not insisting that he continue the skating after his one year of lessons, when he was 7 or 8, or that I didn’t decide for him that he should be in lessons this winter. I think he would have enjoyed it. At the same time, Jack has karate twice a week and archery on Fridays, so his concern that he might end up doing too much — especially when we added skiing to the mix — was likely valid. On the other hand, he’s a very creative and highly expressive individual. He’s also waffled over going back into dance. 

Guilt, guilt, guilt . . . I don’t want him to be overwhelmed either, yet I want him to get involved with physical activities that he’ll enjoy and will add to his skill set. Bridget, too. But there were a few years when they were both small where I was barely keeping it together, let alone having enough energy to do activities. So I didn’t insist that he keep going in skating, or guitar lessons, and maybe I should have. 

I told him tonight, though, that it’s not too late to start. So hopefully he’ll give it another shot next month, and he says if he likes it, he’ll do skating next year. 

Or dance. 

I’m so tired . . . 

Meanwhile Bridget did very well. She’s made progress in leaps and bounds (mostly figuratively), and even helped the younger ones. So proud of her! 

I’ll try to post some video tomorrow, once I retrieve my damned computer cord.

And today, a Vlog: in which I explain 3 different ways to Roll Up the Rim*

So I decided to experiment with the vlogging format, playing around with the editing features and software. I often recommend video logging to my students but I realized I really should be trying it out myself so I can give them suggestions, caveats, advice, and so on. Plus, it was kind of fun!

*It’s a Canadian thing. ūüėČ

So, what did you think? I might use this idea for a lesson now and again, especially if I’m going to be out of the classroom. Next time I should try it with the camera pointed at the board, while I’m doing notes or diagrams . . .

Spin, spin, spin, and breathe, you silly woman!

I’m actually catching up on some marking tonight (it’s a miracle!) but the price is I haven’t gotten to work on the snowmobiling story. Yet.

I really need to figure out a title for that WIP.

Been having that hamster-wheel feeling again. The world turning without a break, no time to stop and catch breath. I do anyway and end up wrestling with guilt over what I haven’t accomplished. I’ve made some lists and few items get checked off before more gets put on. The pile of stuff to get done grows like the layers of clean laundry thrown on top of the dog’s cage, waiting to be dealt with and staring me in the face.

And there’s a divide between work stuff and home stuff. Some of it blends — I can make phone calls for appointments on my lunch break or prep period, and I can bring marking home or plan lessons on my computer. I know of some professionals who leave work at work, and concentrate on home at home. I don’t seem to be able to do that a whole lot. I’ve been marking my Writer’s Craft students’ flash fiction horror stories since they were submitted on Feb 9, and I’m still not done. It takes me an average of an hour to an hour and a half per story, going through it for constructive feedback on how well the story communicates the genre and theme, how effectively the writing process and collaboration were used, and the degree to which the individual reflected on his/her process. After one or two of those, I just can’t do any more for the day, or even the next day. Editing fatigue, perhaps. Right now, I’m taking a break on multiple-choice quizzes from my grade 9s, on conflict in literature and points of view, making sure they understood the concepts before we move on. And all three classes have progress reports due on Monday, with summative tasks being submitted on Friday. Plus Friday is my daughter’s skating show in the afternoon and evening, which means I have to run to her school on my lunch to pick her up and deliver her to the skating rink, make sure she’s in the right place (I’ll be asking some friends I’ve made, other parents whose children are in the skating lessons, to supervise¬†her for the duration), and then dash back to the school for my afternoon class.

Even though the 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge is done, and video posted, nothing has really slowed down. The next projects were lining up even before that was finished. (Breathe) I started looking into accommodations for the Ottawa ComicCon trip, only to find out that the ideal location — Carleton U — doesn’t take school groups until after the date of the convention. There’s also Sears Drama Festival, which I’ve committed to helping with (I said I’d organize the maps and goody bags for each participating school, and assist / supervise training the stage manager and the technical needs of the play being done), and I was asked last night if I wanted to run a drama program for a summer day camp in the area, in July. (Breathe) On top of that, I still have to sign off on my students’ IEPs, submit my emergency lessons, assess my students’ blogs, and run off the progress reports.

And Bridget still needs me to help her finish her sewing project.

And Jack needs a shelf for his room.

And the house is steadily declining in the clean we had achieved for my mother-in-law’s visit.

There is good news in all of this, though. After many weeks of waiting, our snowblower was finally returned to us, fixed, and Hubby used it today to smooth and enlarge our parking area. I’m enjoying my new purses — the Bag of Holding Con Edition, and the white bowling-type bag — plus my new Book Bag came in today, along with a Book Pillow for my desk at school. And it hit me the other day just how much I’ve done so far in this school year.

And there’s still my third novel to come out. I’m just waiting for the edits to come back to me, and the final copy of the cover, so I can delve into publicity once more. (Breathe)

And that’s why I’m a bit frustrated at myself for not getting back to the Snowmobiling Story tonight. Writing is one of my escapes. This one is particularly important, as I’m using it to reach those struggling grade 11 readers. (Breathe) I’d really like to know, one of these days, why I keep putting these things on myself. I am a glutton for punishment. An auteur of overachievement and guilt when I want to back away from being an overachiever. Maybe I’m trying to assuage some guilt by doing things, or maybe it’s just that doing things gives me an excuse to avoid housework.

One thing I do know: the things I put together with my students make a lot of people, including myself, feel pretty damned good.

They like it! They really like it! (It = the snowmobiling story)

goodnewseveryoneI showed my struggling / reluctant readers what I have so far on their snowmobiling story, and they loved it! They especially liked the dialogue about going to get beer — apparently I nailed it. And when I related the anecdote to the administrator, she said, laughingly, “You know what’s really scary? That you can get inside the head of a sixteen-year-old!”

Made me feel pretty good, I have to admit. But it’s only just starting. They gave me some great slang to use in the story, and explained how to drive a snowmobile. Also suggested that I look up videos on YouTube (why didn’t I¬†think of that?) I promised them dialogue tonight, more movement in the plot, and I haven’t done anything yet. Plus I’m still working on the video that wraps up the 24 Hour Playwriting Challenge, and I brought home marking and I haven’t taken it out of the bag . . .

So I’ll keep this post short, I think. Get the video done, and go to bed early for once. Busy day tomorrow: my daughter has her final skating show practice after school.

Snowmobiling story, exposition continued. Still have to get the students’ opinions…

Case in point: Danny never stopped flirting with Penny, even when he knew it pissed Adam off. Or maybe he did it even more when Adam got mad. His gut twisted thinking about it, and his hands tightened on the handlebars of his Skidoo. Penny didn’t say that she minded it, but every now and then¬†he’d seen a shady look on her face when she moved away from Danny’s hand on her shoulder, pushing him back when he was begging for a hug, or when she caught him staring at her as he sipped from his drink. Adam would shove him or give him a semi-playful smack on the shoulder and tell him to stay away from her, but the guy just laughed it off.

“I’m just kidding! Relax, man!”

Sometimes Adam wondered why they were friends. Or, rather,¬†still friends. They’d known each other since they were two, been to each other’s birthdays every year since then, learned how to fish and shoot together, and Danny had helped Adam to build his snowmobile practically from scratch.

Adam could see his buddy up ahead, veering his 2016-model Summit X T3 880 up the drifted slopes and taking jumps that left wings of powder hanging in the air. What Danny wanted, he got, and therefore a lot of kids wanted to be in his circle.

It just sucked that being in this particular group meant you had to show you had balls. Turning around halfway through a run did not show anything but being a wuss. Adam sighed, anticipating the bad-mouthing he was about to get. But there was no help for it; the needle had already moved on the gas gauge, giving him about ten more minutes before he’d have to turn around.

The good news was Danny had already started slowing down, signalling a stop. If he was really lucky, he wouldn’t be getting back on fumes.

————-

Okay, readers, I’m stepping out of the story here. I honestly don’t know where it’s going right now. Not used to writing in this genre or style and I’m worried about sounding contrived. There are a few directions it seems to want to explore: the harassment of Penny by Danny, the peer pressure, Adam having to go back to town early. I can see the other boys wanting to make it all the way to Rouyn to buy beer before going to a party, and of course, giving Adam a hard time about leaving. I’m not sure how the dialogue should go, though. I’m thinking of maybe printing off what I’ve got so far and then asking the students I’m targeting to come up with the dialogue for me. Or deciding what should happen next.¬†

I’m fairly certain, though, that the inciting incident will be Adam taking a shortcut to save gas and going through the ice on a shallow lake, ending up alone in the dark and soaking wet. He’s got to get to a warm place before he freezes to death, plus based on Danny’s behaviour (and maybe some off-colour remarks) toward Penny, he’s going to feel a need to get to her to protect her.¬†

I also see Danny as being a smoker. But if I write the character like that, am I encouraging smoking? Or seeing the antagonist realistically? 

Last year, I made a list of slang that I heard being used regularly in school, but I know some of it’s changed by now. Smoking is often referred to as “bangin’ darts”, unattractive girls are “ratchet”, and something bad or frustrating is “burnt”. I’m caught up in a cycle of self-doubt on whether I should use these in the dialogue or not. Oh, what the hell . . . The worst that can happen is they tell me it sounds dumb and then I make them rewrite it! Or give me suggestions and I’ll do it.

————————-

Adam parked his machine in beside the other three and raised his helmet so he could speak clearly. ” ‘Sup, boys?”

“Smoke break,” Danny told him, grinning. “Want a dart?”

“Naw, you know I’m quitting.” Adam waved him off and looked away.

“Yeah, you keep saying that,” Steve said. “But I keep seeing you in the smokers’ pit at school.”

“That’s ’cause that’s where all you losers hang out, dumbass.” Adam propped one knee on his seat. “Listen, what’s the plan here?”

“We’re heading to Rouyn, gonna pick up some two-fours and head back to AJ’s for a party,” Danny said. He exhaled a long puff of grey-white smoke mixed with the condensation of his breath.

Throwing caution to the wind . . .

Okay — I am diving into the snowmobiling story for my students. I’ll try to do a bit on it every day, keep it to a novella, and see how they respond. Not enough time to do more exposition tonight, but at least it’s a start!¬†

———————-

Adam¬†glanced down at the gas needle and wished he’d had enough money to fill the tank all the way before hitting the trails. He had a good half of a tank in his snowmachine, but his buddies weren’t following the plan they’d all agreed on, turning left at the fork behind Northern College instead of looping around the lake in one quick trip. Danny¬†was in the lead, and Adam¬†knew he had a habit of making changes on the fly. They might be going halfway to Rouyn for all he knew.

Danny kind of pissed him off when he did stuff like that, but it was exciting, too.

If he’d only filled up the tank all the way . . . Adam¬†cursed under his breath, adjusting the speed of his vehicle while leaning into a curve on the track. He had stuff to do that afternoon, stuff that required money. His next paycheque wouldn’t come for another week, so he was trying to be good and make the cash last. Danny, Steve, and AJ didn’t have to worry about working; their dads all had good jobs and gave them money pretty much whenever they wanted. They didn’t have to think about budgeting. Maybe that explained why they could just change their minds at the last second and do whatever suited them.

He looked at the needle again and decided that as soon as they stopped for a break, or if he went down to a quarter of a tank, he’d turn back. No sense in being stupid.

His mind made up, Adam focused on keeping pace with his friends. It was a perfect day for snowmobiling, so no wonder they wanted to do more than a loop and back to town again. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, just an expanse of deep blue overhead that reached from one side of the snow-covered forest to the other. It was damned cold out, but thanks to his mom landing some good deals during Boxing Day sales, Adam’s new skidoo suit and gloves kept him from feeling the worst of the chill. -35 C was too cold for downhill skiing, which is what his girlfriend Penny would have liked to have done that afternoon, but it was perfect for hitting the trails: the Arctic temperatures made the snow sparkle in the sunlight, especially those crisp bits that flew away from the speeding vehicles’ tracks and blades. It was absolutely gorgeous.

Too bad Penny didn’t like hopping on the back of his machine and going with him. It was the one thing — well, maybe not the¬†one thing, there were other things they didn’t have in common — but the main thing that they had different between them. He wished she was with him now, riding behind him, but he understood that he couldn’t force her to like it. Maybe, eventually, she’d want to try it out and he could take her for a ride.

Just not with Danny around. That guy was his friend, but also an idiot.