OK, not really famous. But I did manage to wrangle a guest post at Confident Writing. In keeping with the "freedom in writing" theme going on over there, it's about how a structured writing schedule can free you to be more creative. Head on over and check out Structure = Freedom and feel free to join in on the conversation. Leave a comment over there and let me know how you free your creativity.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It's been a while since I've done a Wednesday Round-up, and today is the perfect Wednesday to start again. I'm going to combine it with a CSA report, since I'm not sure when I'll get a chance this week to post again.
First, the CSA haul:
- 1.5 lbs. Swiss chard (thanks, yet again, to members who aren't interested in chard)
- 2 heads red leaf lettuce (one of which is being donated to a co-worker since I'm so. sick. of. lettuce.)
- 1 head garlic
- 1.5 lbs blue potatoes
- basil, sage, mint
- about 3/4 of a quart of blackberries (which I got to pick myself...lessons from the blackberry patch coming soon)
- 1 medium zucchini (abt. 0.5 lbs)
Now for the round-up:
- Thanks to all the visitors that have entered my giveaways. I do plan to come by and see you all if I haven't already. Hopefully I'll get there before your giveaways are over, but if I don't, I'm sorry! Too much to do, too little time.
- If you haven't entered for your chance to win Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yet, there's still time. The giveaway closes at 11:59 PM ET on Friday, August 1st.
- There's also a great giveaway at Write Out Loud for all those writers out there.
- If you're looking for help with your diet, you can enter for a chance to win a personalized nutrition consultation with Feed the Soul, too. If I could win, I'd totally be entering this one!
- Writing really is my life these days. It's been work, work, work for more than a week now. Even my weekends have been packed with projects. I'm not complaining, but it would be nice to be able to read all weekend or just watch movies all Sunday. I could do this now, but I'd totally feel guilty come Monday when deadlines would have been missed and schedules would be all off kilter.
- I'm turning into a dress girl. I've never been much for dresses, but I found two great ones on clearance when I went home to visit my family and have several in my closets that I don't wear as often as I should. For some reason, I've had to resist wearing a dress every day this week. I guess I'm just feeling particularly feminine. That, or the humidity makes me want to wear as loose and airy an outfit as I can find.
- I saw The Dark Night on Thursday with My Love. I thought it was great and would even like to see it again. There was this one particular scene...well, I'll let you see it yourself.
- I got the new Alanis Morissette CD (Flavors of Entanglement) right before I went home for the wedding, and I can't stop playing it. I think I'm going to have to re-purchase Jagged Little Pill now, too. Not sure when or how, but I seem to have misplaced it.
- And last, but not least, Verizon is yet again on my list. My internet connection is slower than molasses in January. Ugh! Just checking my email in the evening is a chore. At least it keeps me from using the internet as a distraction from work. Except that in some cases, it keeps me from getting work done, too. If anyone from Verizon is out there, know that I'm seriously considering leaving you for the competition.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I learned last week that this week is the Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival. I've been thinking about doing a little giveaway here and over at Write Out Loud, and there's no time like the present.
I wanted to give away something that reflected me, my blog and what I've been writing about lately, so what better than a book about local eating? Here are the details:
What You Can Win
A copy of Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. This book started me on my local eating journey with practical information and tips on living a local lifestyle, and I'd like to pass it on to someone else. In the name of being green I'd like to say you'll get a used copy, but since I got it from the library originally, you'll receive a new copy sent straight from Amazon.
How You Can Win
Simply leave a comment on this post mentioning why you'd like to receive the book or what you're doing to support your local food economy. Only one comment per person, please. I'll use random.org to choose the winner after the contest ends.
Who Can Win
You don't have to have a blog to win. Anyone with a valid email address that has a mailing address in the U.S. or Canada (sorry Internationals!) is eligible. I'll contact the winner via email for an address, so please make sure your email address is available in your profile or leave it in your comment (Blogger doesn't allow me to see your email address even though you enter it). If I am unable to locate an email address for the winner, I will be forced to draw another commenter.
When the Carnival Ends
Comment by Friday, August 1st at 11:59PM ET to be entered in the drawing. Any comments received after this time will not be considered.
So that's the deal. If you're a regular reader here, good luck! And if you're visiting via Bloggygiveaways.com, welcome to Writing: My Life. I hope you'll comment for a chance to win my giveaway, and I hope you'll take a look around. Enjoy some posts about local eating or browse my archives for my thoughts on everything from weight loss to writing to the books I've been reading.
Now what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and cross your fingers!
If you're interested in a writing-themed giveaway, head over to Write Out Loud and leave a comment on the giveaway post there.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
For those of you interested in the kitten saga, here's how it played out.
Tuesday evening when I called the vet to make an appointment, they recommended that I not bring the kitten inside until it had been checked out, so as not to risk infecting Gizmo. Agreeing that it was probably a better idea to leave it outside, I did what they said.
I woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of a thunderstorm and pouring rain and immediately started worrying about the kitten. I tossed and turned until my alarm went off and as soon as I was dressed I went out to check on the little kitty. It was no where to be found. I called for it, and I left water in case it came back. I even drove up and down the alley before leaving for work to see if I could see it in someone else's yard. I didn't see it, but I secretly hoped it would come back. It didn't. It never came back. I was a bit sad, but I reasoned that Gizmo would probably be happier having me all to herself, anyway.
Then Friday night I went across the alley to visit my favorite neighbors and who came rubbing up against my legs but Squirrel. (He really does look like a squirrel with his pointy ears and bushy tail.) Apparently he took shelter under their neighbors' fuel-oil tank Tuesday during the storm and they found him the next morning. He's being well cared for by my cat-loving neighbor. I can see him whenever I like, and Gizmo gets to keep her reign over the house.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Before I go any further, I have a confession to make. I skipped OLS last week (Week 7 for those keeping track) out of pure and utter laziness. I had plenty of local food in my refrigerator, but little time or energy to get creative and make a meal. So while I ate a lot of local stuff, I never managed to get a full meal out of it.
This week, I decided to use up a good deal of the pound and a half of swiss chard I got from the CSA (thanks, person who didn't want any) and some really ripe (and therefore discounted) tomatoes I picked up at a local farm stand. I sauteed the chard in olive oil with chopped onion and garlic, then added two chopped tomatoes and a bit of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. When the chard was wilted and the tomatoes were warm I tossed in a bit of fresh oregano and basil. The result was delicious and I ate it over non-local rice last night. But for lunch today I had it over a couple of baby white potatoes left over from last week's CSA share.
Last night I also made a wonderful tomato and scallion salad reminiscent of the tomato and onion salad I made a while back. It was very simple--just chopped tomatoes, chopped scallion, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper--and oh-so-good. Especially today for lunch with my chard-and-tomato topped potato. An easy and local meal at my desk. (Local except for the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, that is.)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I'm sure you're probably not as excited about this as I am, but things are starting to crank up at the CSA. The variety is getting broader, and the expectation of new foods is getting higher. And while they're not all that interesting, these posts do have a purpose. I'm trying to keep a record of what I get throughout the season to compare to future seasons. I am, after all, expecting the CSA to be a fixture in my life for as long as I'm living in this area. I couldn't possibly go back now that I've discovered the benefits.
So without further ado, here's the haul this week:
- 1.5 lbs swiss chard (my 1/2 share plus someone's unwanted full share)
- 1.5 lbs potatoes (white and blue)
- 0.5 lbs carrots
- 1 small head garlic
- 2 heads leaf lettuce (my 1/2 share plus someone's unwanted 1/2 share)
- 2 sprigs basil
- 1 sprig sage
- 1 sprig oregano
- 1 bunch beets (about 3 with their greens)
- 1 lb white potatoes
- 0.5 lbs swiss chard
- 2 small yellow onions
- basil, oregano, mint
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Or rather, what found me. I got home on Sunday and went down to the basement to feed the cat and I could hear meowing. I had just seen Gizmo upstairs, so I knew it wasn't her. I looked out the basement window, but couldn't see anything.
Later, when I was in the kitchen making dinner I heard the meowing again. I still couldn't see anything, so I figured it was one of the neighbors' cats. The meowing didn't stop, though, and when I went out to water the plants at dusk, this is what I found:
I ignored it, and I haven't fed it, but it's still here. This morning when I went out to water the plants again, the cute little kitty followed me around rubbing up against my legs every time I stood still. It's clearly used to being around humans, so I'm guessing that either someone dropped it off nearby, or some little girl has lost her precious little kitten. I've posted a Found Cat notice on Craigslist and will probably print up some flyers tomorrow, but I'm almost completely convinced that this is a sign. I've been thinking about adopting a cat to keep Gizmo company for quite a while now. And this one is so adorable that I can't stop thinking about it. My only concern is that Gizmo might not be interested in a new brother or sister.
Just in case I decide to keep it, I made an appointment to get it checked out at the vet, but they couldn't get me in until next week. In the meantime, it's really hot out and I'm not going to leave the poor thing without water and food. So, it looks like I'm adopting a new cat unless someone claims it soon.
I'm also planning to get a separate litter box, food/water dishes and toys for the new cat tomorrow--just in case--and if I bring it indoors before the appointment next week, I'll keep it separated until it gets checked for any diseases. Other than that, I'm not sure how best to go about bringing the two together. Has anyone out there had experience with introducing a new cat to an older one who's had complete rule of the house for more than three years? I'll take any tips I can get. And if you think I should just take it to the SPCA and be done with it, let me know. Everybody needs a reality check once in a while.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
As usual, the anxiety of seeing my family and the anticipation of being put on the defensive was completely unfounded. My own insecurities got the best of me again; my own critical voice telling me that I haven't done enough, become successful enough, achieved enough. Sure, there were questions, but never once did I feel like I had to defend my answers or prove myself. I especially enjoyed the time I got to spend talking with cousins I haven't seen in years. I'm always surprised by how well I fit with these people that I see so rarely. Genetics really are a powerful thing.
And now, I'm back, safe and sound. I'm glad to be home, but it's hard not to be sad that my family is so spread out, that we see each other so little. I always find the return drive so bittersweet. My family in the rear-view as I head south, away from the country life I know so intimately and yet toward the city life that has become so perfectly mine. If only I could have both at the same time.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I'm taking tomorrow off from work to make the 6 1/2 hour drive to my hometown. There, over the span of 2 days I will attend a wedding, have a business meeting, make Dad a birthday dinner, spend time with Mom and Stepdad, and--hopefully--relax a little. Right before I turn around and make that long drive back.
While I'm looking forward to seeing everyone, and to celebrating birthdays and marriages, I'm not exactly looking forward to the questions (When are you getting married?; When are you going to finish that book?; When are you going to have a baby?; When are you going to move back home?). I'm trying to learn how to be present, and these questions do not aide in my journey. My family has no shame. They will ask, whether or not I want to hear the question. They will expect answers. And I will, inevitably, provide them, although my responses are just buying time. I don't really know the answers to most of the questions they ask (the same questions, if I'm honest, that I ask myself rather regularly and fail to answer). The anticipated awkwardness makes me uncomfortably anxious.
Don't they (I) realize I'm just feeling my way, living as best I can, taking one small step at a time? Don't they (I) know that my destination is not "married," "finished with the book," or "a baby"? How I answer the questions they (I) ask me doesn't really matter. My destination is now, or at least it should be. The rest will work itself out. I want to relax and enjoy here, this moment in time, this page of my personal history. Is that too much to ask?
Even if it is, I'm going to try anyway.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
I saw this meme at Bleeding Espresso the other day and knew I'd get around to it eventually. Since I'm in a time crunch to get a bunch of stuff done (including a couple of guest posts to be published soon at a blog near you) before I head out of town for a wedding this weekend, now seemed like the perfect time to take advantage a good old meme.
1. One book that changed your life: Bridge to Terabithiaby Katherine Paterson This book is the first book that I remember really affecting me emotionally. Not only did this book make mortality real to me, but it made me want to be able to tell a story that MOVED people. I loved books before this one, but when I read this book I wanted to DO that.
2. One book you’ve read more than once: To Kill a Mockingbirdby Harper Lee. Another book that had a profound effect on how I saw the world.
3. One book you’d want on a desert island: I don't think I can pick just one. Seriously. But if I have to, I'd have to copy Bleeding Espresso and say The Complete Works of Shakespeare. At least it would take me a while to get through.
4. One book that made you laugh: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faithby Anne Lamott. Almost everything I've read of hers has made me laugh.
5. One book that made you cry: I already mentioned Bridge to Terabithia, and there have been many others, but I'll have to say Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
6. One book you wish you had written: Good in Bedby Jennifer Weiner. In fact, the whole time I was reading it I kept thinking, Why didn't I write this? It seemed like a story I could have told.
7. One book you wish had never been written: Can't think of a single one, although I'm sure there are some out there.
8. One book you’re currently reading: Ah, but there are so, so many right now. I've told you about a couple already. How about How to Write a Book Proposal by Michael Larsen
9. One book you’ve been meaning to read: Randomly picking one off my shelf...Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. There are at least two dozen more in my possession, not to mention the others I don't own.What books are on your list?
In other news, I've got a new article up at Radiant Magazine Online: Getting Back to the Source.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
It occurred to me today that I hadn't managed to eat a single completely local meal all week. So much for "getting a bit easier with each week." You can't eat locally without thinking about it, apparently. So this morning, I quickly did a bit of a copy-cat meal and made up a kale and onion frittata with new potato homefries. Relatively easy and I used up some of the leftovers from the week.
Despite the fact that I hadn't eaten a completely local meal all week, I did eat a number of local side-dishes and used mostly local ingredients in everything I ate. There was plenty of basil and parsley from my tiny little garden. From the farmer's market I had:
- zucchini and squash
- freshly baked rolls
- red new potatoes
- white peaches
- Bing cherries
- Swiss chard
- kale (left over from the previous week)
- 2 small heads garlic
- 1 lg. bunch scallions
- 1 lb. red new potatoes
- 1 head of lettuce
Saturday, July 12, 2008
On Thursday I posted a writing exercise at Write Out Loud. I suggested that limiting ourselves can be helpful in freeing our writing. The exercise was to write one sentence about a belief or lesson you've learned. These sentences can become jump-off points for a larger piece, or they can simply be stream-of-consciousness thoughts. The point is to get something on the paper without the pressure of producing a complete piece. Here are a few of the belief/lesson sentences I came up with:
Children should not have to fear their parents.
Love can blind you, but it can also open your eyes to the beauty of the world.
There is truth in the world around us—in nature, technology, imagination, words—if only we could be aware enough to see it.
Is this really a world where parents kill their babies, people live on the streets in poverty, and a hurricane-ravaged city is left to die?
I also suggested that anyone who was interested should take on Liz Strauss' challenge to write 25 words of wisdom. For this exercise, I took one of my sentences from above, expanded it and then edited it back down to 25 words:
Love can tie you up in knotsAfter doing all this stretching of my writing muscles, I decided to take on a bigger writing exercise and headed over to Feeless Free Writer and picked a prompt. I plan to get through all of these soon, but for today I decided to use Free your ride #2:
and blinding you, but it can also
open your eyes to the beauty
of the world.
I crossed the bridge every day for a year, on my way to school in the morning and on my way back to the farm in the afternoon. I loved it in the morning, with it's dirt path and dark gray metal sides, cool to the touch before the day's heat could warm them. But in the afternoon, as I dragged my feet through the gravel and dust, I hated that bridge. The rusty rails made me want to scream.
The farm was the last place I wanted to be. If I could I would have stayed at school, slept in the boiler room with the mice and spiders. If it weren't for school I'd be in the fields every day, planting and weeding with the farm hands. It was bad enough that I had to help with the evening milkings. They took away from my time reading. When I was in my room with a book, the farm wasn't so bad. I could forget then why I was here in this godforsaken place, living with a family I didn't know, wearing clothes that weren't meant for me. But in the barn, with the cows, mooing and grunting, all I could think about was where I should have been and what I had lost. Sometimes in the barn I would bellow and grunt and moo along with the cows, tears streaming down my face. No one could hear me over the sounds of the animals on the farm anyway.
Lots of free-writing today. Getting the creative juices flowing so that I can be productive tomorrow. Hope you're all having a great weekend, writing or not.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Woman with No Regrets tagged me yesterday for a meme that I've seen all over the place, but don't think I've ever done.
Here's what I have to do:
1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123
3. Find the 5th sentence
4. Post the next three sentences
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.
Since I'm currently reading several books in tandem, the closest book could have been one of many: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals; Six-Figure Freelancing; and A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. And that's not to mention the chance that the closest book might be one I haven't started to read yet, of which there are too many to count right now. Anyway, it turns out that I had just been reading A New Earth the night before and it was still on my coffee table next to my laptop when I read No Regret's challenge, so that's what you're getting.
A bit of A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle:
The ego doesn't know that the more you include others, the more smoothly things flow and the more easily things come to you. When you give little or no help to others or put obstacles in their path, the universe — in the form of people and circumstances — gives little or no help to you because you have cut yourself off from the whole. The ego's unconscious core feeling of "not enough" causes it to react to someone else's success as if that success had taken something away from "me."I actually haven't gotten to this part in the book, so when I read this page in it's entirety last night, it just so happened that my writing critique group had been having a similar conversation a couple of hours earlier about our tendency toward jealousy of other writers' successes. How's that for synchronicity? Apparently the universe is trying to tell me something here.
I know most of the people I read regularly have done this, so if you want to do it again, consider yourself tagged. If not, that's fine, too.
In other news, if you haven't already visited there this week, there's a new post up at Write Out Loud. It's about the freedom that we can find by limiting ourselves and I included a writing exercise inspired by another blogger. I'll be doing both my own exercise and the one that inspired it this weekend (if all goes well), and I'll post the results. So stop by Write Out Loud, check it out, give it a try, and post your results in the comments or on your own blog (don't forget to leave a link to it, though). I can't wait to see what you all come up with!
Oh, and please ignore all the mixed up colors. I'm still playing around with the color scheme and design, trying to make it match my website a bit better.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
I was on my way to work this morning, stopped at a stop light, when a woman stepped into the crosswalk talking up a storm. She was by herself, and she wasn't holding a phone to her ear. I knew that wasn't necessarily proof she was talking to herself--Bluetooth headsets are all the rage these days--but I wondered just the same if she was mentally stable. By the time the light had turned green, I was sure she must have been talking into an ear piece that I couldn't see. She was dressed nicely, after all, clearly on her way to work. Right?
Probably, but it didn't take me long before I had convinced myself I was being too quick to judge. I've been reading Eckhart Tolle's The New Earth and listening to the Oprah webcasts over the last few weeks and I could hear Tolle's voice in my ear: "That's your ego. " I knew what I should do--recognize my judgment as part of my ego and release it, without judging myself for the thoughts. But I couldn't. I was ashamed by my behavior. Just because she was dressed well didn't mean she was mentally stable. And if she had been dressed in dirty rags, would that have made a "crazy" judgment anymore acceptable?
Who am I to determine, based on a 5 second glance through my windshield (or my rose-colored glasses, for that matter), who someone is, where she's from and what she's been going through? I'm trying to let it go, to practice presence and know that I am not my thoughts and judgments. I want to move past them. I don't want to hold onto them anymore, not the ones against others and not the ones against myself.
"The first step is becoming aware of these thoughts," Tolle would say. I hope he's right.
If you're interested, I've got a totally unrelated post up over at Damsels In Success--Lessons from the Networking Trenches.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Somehow I've turned into a sports enthusiast. I'm not a fan of any one sport in particular, but I watch whatever is on with interest and excitement. How did this happen? I guess it doesn't really matter, but I'm pretty sure I can blame My Love, who knows just about everything there is to know about most sports out there. He can enjoy a football game or a round of golf just the same. I used to think this was crazy. Now I kind of understand it.
I spent much of my non-writing time this weekend watching the Olympic trials and Wimbledon. There's a lot to learn watching sports like swimming, track and field and tennis--and I'm not just talking about how to score a tennis match, which I think I'm finally getting the hang of. Life lessons abound when you watch athletes pursue their sports with passion. Here are a few of the things I took away from this weekend of competitions:
- Be a good sport. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal fought long and hard for the Wimbledon championship, making the record for the longest tennis match in history. And when Nadal finally made that championship point and took the title, he actually thanked his competitor and said, "I am very happy for me, but sorry for him, because he deserved this title, too." Federer, while disappointed, took the loss with grace and style, praising Nadal for his excellent play.
- Don't let an injury discourage you. Sprinter Tyson Gay was all set to make the Olympic team for the 100 and 200 meter races, but after qualifying for the Olympics in the 100 meter race, things changed. Within seconds of starting the 200 meter qualifier, Gay was on the ground writhing in pain. He apparently pulled a muscle and, because of the one-chance nature of the Olympic trials, the favorite sprinter and world champion lost his opportunity to compete for two Olympic metals. You wouldn't know it from listening to him, though. He was all smiles in an interview today and was looking forward to Beijing without any regrets or complaints.
- Age means nothing. Going into the Olympic trials this weekend, 41-year-old Dara Torres knew that if she won her races, she would be the oldest American swimmer to ever compete on the Olympic swim team. But she didn't let that keep her from trying. Torres has been to the Olympics four times, and Beijing will be her fifth. Until this weekend, she hadn't competed since the 2000 Olympics and yet she won the 100-meter freestyle and set the American record for the 50-meter freestyle. How's that for acting your age?
Friday, July 04, 2008
Introducing...Write Out Loud.
After working almost a full day today, I spent the evening/night working on my "professional" blog. I'm very excited about it, but I'm too tired to coax you into visiting there now. Trust me, just check it out. Then please let me know what you think (either here or there). It took me a long time to come up with the name and theme, so any constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated.
My goal is to post there twice a week with ideas and prompts to get us writing, information on the writing business, and tips on finding markets for our work. If you're a writer, I hope you'll join me there for some fun and inspiration.
OK, enough shameless self promotion. Hope you had a great holiday (or weekend if you're not here in the US)! Goodnight, all!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
As you can see by the new banner and new profile image, I've decided to change things up a bit around here. That change includes my name. Yes, it's time to come out from beneath the imaginary invisibility cloak I've been hiding under.
Many of you out there know me as smtwngrl. When I jumped ship at Spaces and decided to become a Blogger blogger, becoming smtwngrl was my very weak attempt at anonymity. I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking, since I directed everyone from Weight of My World--where I was known by my first name--to join me here at Writing: My Life. Once here, I didn't try particularly hard to dissuade people from calling me by my first name--and I even linked to my professional website in the sidebar eventually--but I wasn't exactly forthcoming with the information, either.
With some of the additional blogging I've been doing under my real name--often linking back to this blog--and having realized that my name is pretty connected to this blog anyway, I've decided to get rid of smtwngrl and claim my name. There's no sense in trying to keep up the charade any longer. From here on out, feel free to call me...Ami.
If you weren't already, that is. If you were, consider yourselves ahead of the curve.
I managed to make good use of my plentiful CSA haul last week. I still have some garlic and the chard left, but other than that, everything was consumed. This week's share, on the other hand, didn't impress me as much. I got extra kale and lettuce because others passed it up again. I may be getting sick of it, but I'll use it (or freeze it, if possible) just the same. In any case, the share was more of the same this week:
- 2 bunches of kale
- 1 small bunch of scallions
- 2 heads leaf lettuce (2 different types)
- 1 head of new garlic
- a handful of garlic scapes (free-for-all item)