Tick tock, tick tock

Not the most decorated we’ve had this place, nor the tidiest, but there is a satisfactory collection of tributes and tokens to each other under the tree, and few remain still needing to be wrapped, thanks to my hubby’s efforts to reduce my stress this year.

It would be nice to have more greenery around, more candles lit and clouds and sparkles. But this is also okay. It’s good. I want it to be good.

And the wind is blowing outside, moaning over what remains of our unseasonably shallow snowpack, bringing rain in its wake. Tomorrow morning I am hoping to hit the stores for a few remaining purchases first thing in the morning, before they get crazy busy. Supper with the folks tomorrow night. The kids still have gingerbread houses to make, and there still much cleaning to be done.

I want it to be good.

The Return of Furniture Tetris

Started to reclaim the hallway by the front door, and it only took me an hour! Took out two old and half-broken coathooks from the doorway facing the living room so I could move an old bookshelf in there for storage. Left behind some tools and things that hubby needs to put away where he will remember them. 

I refuse to be the walking inventory of things in this house! 

Tomorrow, I think, I will pick up more coathooks to replace the broken ones in different places around the hallway, to make sure there are lots of spots to hang coats, bags, scarves, and hats. 

Baby steps, right? 


A handful of days

The last few expected packages are trickling in this week. The wheel has turned again and Solstice arrived, ushering in the official start of Winter, and all the inherent celebrations. I am managing a small dent in cleaning every day, a few tasks completed here and there — now that it’s been three days since my virus was beaten (hooray!), I don’t want to relapse. Haven’t celebrated Yule in the manner I wanted, but that’s par for the course. 

I did manage to walk with my dog this afternoon, though. It was lovely. The air was cold but mild, the snow responding by getting sticky, and I worked up a sweat. It would be nice if I could actually stick to a commitment of daily long walks with her.

It’s tough staying out of the pit this week. I could make a list of the things my brain wants to berate me about, the stuff that threatens to overwhelm me and bring me down. As it is, I’m managing to hover. That’s why I’m trying to focus on the little victories rather than massive strides in progress — those massive strides I wish for are just too much right now, too ambitious, and not achieving them will be more damaging than anything else. Sometimes it’s better to step back, regroup, and start again.

And yes, in that spirit, I unraveled my double-sided knitting square to start again. I think it’s going to go much more smoothly this time around. 

I figured out that every time I had taken out rows and gone back, putting the needle through the loops had resulted in some unappealing twists, making the rows and columns uneven and chaotic. This time is much better. Unfortunately, I had to cut the yarn when it knotted during the unraveling and winding process, but I think I will be able to just tuck those new knots away. 

Wish I could put this energy into working on the next novel.

Productivity achieved!

I have finally, finally packed up two sets of the Talbot Trilogy to send to readers, a job long overdue. And I finished adding a frog button to my great-aunt’s hat, wrapped it up, and wrapped a set of books for her as well. 

Been trying to get this double-sided knitting square done, too. Rows go in, then I see mistakes, and rows come out. 

I had that upper right bubble done earlier today, but there was a problem with the bottom edge of the left bubble, and then some of the counts were off, so I pulled out five rows and started redoing it. (Sigh) I’m going to need more caffeine to finish this caffeine molecule!

Update: got pissed off and took out five rows again. Why am I torturing myself with this thing?!? Seriously contemplating ripping it all apart and starting over.

I take it back. (Spoiler-free!)

Writer’s brain has been at work re: a certain character who shall not be named in Star Wars: The Force Awakens — I’m now seeing a possible reason (damned good one!) for ______ being ——‘s father. Only another 510ish days to see if I’m right! I will post my theory in a few weeks, after spoiler danger has passed.

Non-spoilery thoughts on Star Wars: the Force Awakens

I loved Episode VII, and there is a laundry list of elements to love about it. But on our hour and a half drive home, rehashing key moments and plot developments and characterizations and character growth, we started to critique it on bits and pieces that may in fact have been redundant.

I think it’s important to remember that Star Wars is primarily a fairy tale, so it has a recognizable pattern or formula. Screenwriters and directors play with that formula at their peril: purists, like my hubby, might find themselves a little turned off by certain choices or interpretations. 

For example, there are some terrific comedic moments in the film — lines delivered at just the right time or with a certain inflection, body language and movement — and it’s definitely a trademark of JJ Abrams in the delivery. Hubby felt that there was too much “funny” and that Star Wars isn’t meant to be funny. It’s a space opera, after all. My counter to that would be that the original, Episode IV: A New Hope, had comedy in it as well but the funny parts fell a bit flat because George Lucas’s strength is not in comedy. Scenes like Leia’s rescue, when she tells a disguised Luke, “Aren’t you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?” And he responds, exaggeratedly, “Hunh? Oh, the uniform.” That’s supposed to be a bit of comedy, in my view, but it didn’t work. JJ Abrams is simply better with drawing out his actors’ timing and reactions.

Hubby also didn’t like some of the design choices of certain uniforms and weapons, and I kind of agree — what is ever the point of having soldiers in armour, be it chain mail or futuristic moulded material, that can’t take or deflect a hit and save the life of the wearer? That trope gets annoying after a while. But that’s really my only beef about the designs.

I knew there had to be a cliff hanger at the end, but it wasn’t where I had expected it to be. And I found that I didn’t like how easy the final problem was to solve. It was almost as though the McGuffin wasn’t needed at all! Or, at least, not in its perceived form. What good is a trail if you can tunnel straight to the end? What point is there to having place markers if you are going to bound right over them completely? And if the enemy has a gap in their information, shouldn’t they be able to exploit that missing piece by searching where the dead end leaves off?

I know, I know — as my son repeated back to me from previous story-related conversations, without these complications, there might not be a story to tell. But I think these problems over-simplified things. I would have preferred the cliffhanger to be five minutes earlier, or the McGuffin to have been less of a red herring. Kind of felt like a Dora the Explorer moment, to be honest, and then less than that, because even Dora has to work to reach her objective. That effort would have been terrific subject matter for the next film. Too bad for that missed opportunity.

Anyway, that is as much as I dare discuss without getting overly revealing. I still highly recommend the movie as an amazing ride, a very satisfactory follow to Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. And I’m very, very glad we made the effort to see it tonight.

May the Force be with you!

Oh, one final note, on the record: I do NOT think that ——- is _______’s OR _______’s child! Something else is going on there. I do think that _______ knew ——– in their respective childhoods. Shhhh — can’t name the names right now . . . 

Parents — how many of us think we are ready for change in our kids?

And then suddenly, growth and development happen, like a quantum leap in the brain (army hubby and I used to describe it in our kids). Helplessness and curiosity become problem-solving and mission-focus. Conceptual misunderstandings are clarified in sudden sunshiny blasts of comprehension.

And personalities try on different ideas, methods, mannerisms for size. 

I thought I was going to be ready for the teenager’s mental/emotional growth spurt. I’ve been waiting for it for at least a year, watching for the signs that he is pulling away from the sweet, affectionate, good-humoured boy and his closeness with me. Watching for moodiness, secrets he’s no longer willing to share because they are no longer for me to know. And it’s hit me this fall, in little bits at first that I somehow ignored or denied but that I can no longer push aside, that the transition is happening. I see him acting the way I did, when I was 13-14-15-16. And I hear my mother and my father in my voice, attempting to reach, teach, and guide, with patience and not a little exasperation or confusion as the child reacts differently than he used to do. 

I get it, now. I got it then, too, but it was easier (?) to be sullen or withdraw than accept the love and attention. It felt . . . awkward. Those strange years caught between child and adult, when you want to set your own boundaries but you need the safety net and the rules in which to try different things — I must not lose hold of those. They’re my key to keeping up with him, and in a few short years, Bridget.

The good news is that my boy and I and his dad still have a close bond. The sticky part is that the bond’s parameters are shifting and we are moving into new territory. The stuff I could joke about or inquire after last year is rapidly becoming off-limits. I’m so used to it, being able to laugh with him on certain levels or about different things, having him confide in me, it’s like a change in g-force on an unexpected hill or valley in the highway. Do I need to change how I relate to him, adapt my way of being and my conversation? Of course I do — I’ve done so already, at different stages of this game. 

But it’s just like when he was a baby, when I would finally recognize a pattern in his behaviour and be able to interpret his cries, and then whoop — he’d go changing them again.

I told a student today to have patience with her parents, whom she felt were becoming a little too overbearing and annoying. I said, “Parents need raising just as much as teenagers do.” I wasn’t even joking. Like Red Green used to say to his buddies, we’re all in this together. 

Parents of teens, who were formerly teenagers themselves — I’m pulling for you.