Saturday Sundries

It’s been a busy week, and I just couldn’t come up with a topic for today’s post. So what the heck. It’s Saturday and a good day to putter around the house. Why not do the same on the blog?

Thank Yous

First I’d like to thank everyone who read last Saturday’s post about my crankiness with WordPress and other technological change for the sake of change. And an extra thank you goes to those of you who took the time to leave such thoughtful comments. I tallied up the word count on my replies—nearly 4,600. If only I could do that on a WIP every week. And, of course, thanks again go to WordPress for listening to me and others who wanted the old functionality of “Comments I’ve Made” back in our dashboards!

Thank you 2

What Season Is It?

Despite the date on the calendar, Spring hasn’t really sprung in Maryland. And my creative mind is still in hibernation. Work on the day job has also picked up, which leaves me with fewer hours for writing than before. That’s no excuse not to at least write something each day, but we all go through periods when we slow down. Or even stop. Only time will tell if we pick ourselves up again or if we move on to something else.

Real Life

Speaking of the day job, my life imitated Meghan’s this week. No, I didn’t find an unexpected skeleton! I spent Thursday in Fairfax, Virginia, researching the ownership of a historic period site where we’re doing some test excavations. Much as historians and genealogists enjoy the hunt through old documents, the courthouse experience isn’t always fun. Some staff ignore you. Others act like you’ve asked them to move heaven and earth when you only asked where to find the grantor-grantee indexes. This was my first trip to the Fairfax County Courthouse, so I didn’t know what to expect. I’m happy to say the staff there get perfect marks. Everyone was helpful and cheery, from the security folks at the front entrance to the desk staff in the land records research room and the historic documents annex. If only every experience was like that.

Fun Life

Last Saturday was warmer than expected, but cloudy with showers. Still, we had tickets for a concert in DC and reservations for dinner, so we set off on the Metro for my favorite city. Dinner was near Eastern Market, which is in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, one of the oldest in the city. It’s a vibrant area with great shops, restaurants, food market, and flea market. Sorry, no photos. I didn’t bring a camera because of the rain. Dinner was at Ambar, a newly opened Balkan restaurant. It features modern takes on traditional dishes, and the food and wine were delicious. I can’t wait to go back.

The concert was the Chieftains with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Appropriate for the evening before St. Patrick’s Day, don’t you think? The program was a fun mix of traditional Irish music with guest dancers and musicians from the DC area. All in all, a great day and evening despite the weather.

Saturday Sit Down

Are you about to release a new creative work? Or has one come out recently that you’d like to talk about? If so, please let me know if you’d be interested in a Saturday Sit Down post. They’re a fun way to introduce your work to a new audience.

Onward

I’ve puttered enough for the day. Time to do some housework and run some errands. If we’re lucky, it’ll be 50 and sunny today—a brief taste of spring before Monday supposedly brings 30s and snow showers. What season is it again?

Do you have any fun weekend plans? Are you still hunkered down in a wintry place? Or are you enjoying warm fresh air and blooming flowers?

40 thoughts on “Saturday Sundries

  1. We start our official spring cleaning tomorrow. The closets will be first, and they’ll likely be the biggest chore. I figure if we have to suffer another week of 30 degree weather and chance of snow, then I might as well lighten my home. 🙂

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    • It’s not spring-cleaning weekend for us, but it is a major housecleaning one. Bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming … not my favorite things to do. 😉 Next spring may be a big purge since we’re thinking of buying again next summer.

      This winter just doesn’t want to let go, does it? Even though we’ve had hardly any snow, it’s been cold, gray, and windy. And this latest snow might reach us, too. More likely, it’ll be more slush. What I wouldn’t give for a week of sun and 60s!

      Have fun with those closets—maybe they’ll give you some post ideas! 🙂

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    • Well, I’m taking a brief break here from cleaning—not the most fun weekend activity in my book. 😉 I’d rather be writing or reading! I’m glad to see you’re getting that much-needed snow. A year without horrible fires would be nice, although I don’t think it’s shaping up that way.

      You have a great weekend, too!

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  2. Seeing as how we got 15 inches of snow with this last storm, I’m still feeling the winter doldrums. I guess the only thing I can tell myself that at least we’re in March and not November, so I know spring is coming soon.

    This was a fun, laid-back post, JM. I know what you mean about struggling for material. It’s hard to come up with meaningful blog posts on a weekly basis, let alone twice a week! I’m always impressed by bloggers who can post multiple times each week.

    I’m covered for blog posts for the next few weeks, but I do worry if I’ll run out of things to say that people will actually care about, or that people will find helpful or inspirational or meaningful in some way.

    You’ll know that when I start posting about my cats that my muse has gone on vacation. 🙂 And don’t laugh, that post is in ‘draft’ form!

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    • Hey, you never know—that cat post may turn out to be a reader favorite! A lot of times, it seems to me like the laid-back posts are some of the most popular ones. They give people that glimpse of the person behind the blogger. Not that they’re easy for introverts to write. 😉

      I’m not sure what I’m going to do when Meghan’s story wraps up. I know I need a break from writing a story live on the blog, but what to replace it with? I’m still pondering that….

      Some trees are starting to flower here, and the daffodils and snow irises are going strong. I’m sure the crocuses are, too, but I just haven’t seen them. Normally, we would have had some really nice days by now, and that just hasn’t happened. There’s a chance the latest storm will drop some snow on us, but I sure hope not! I wish we could send it to the drought-stricken places that need it.

      One of these days, winter will pass. And then I really hope the Muse and Maddie and Jack will come back from their tropical beach and drinks. I’ve done no writing except Meghan’s story and no revisions on the WIP. Not a good way to start the year.

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    • Can anyone dislike cleaning as much as I do? 😉 I love when the house is clean, dusted, and vacuumed, and everything is put away. But getting it to that state? Yuck! We probably need to invite people over more often. That’s when I’ll go all out on the job….

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  3. I’m spending a lot time in the RUC and this weekend is no different 😉 The roof is on and the monsoon rain was kind enough to wait until it was finished. I think they’re ‘lifting’ it into it’s permanent position next week (I say ‘think’ because this depends on the weather). Once that’s done it’ll be painting and flooring – what a huge project! 😀

    Have a great weekend and I’m so glad WP listened to you 😉

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    • I’m glad the monsoon stayed away long enough for you to get the roof on. That would have been an unwelcome bump in the road! I have a pen pal in Melbourne from my high school days, and her daughter and new son-in-law just purchased a “fixer upper” that needs a lot of work. You’ve both used the word “stumping” in this context, and I have no idea what that means!

      Now, if WordPress will continue to let me see other people’s comments, I’ll be happy. 😉 You have a great weekend, too, and I hope the weather cooperates with lifting your RUC!

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      • I actually didn’t realise that ‘stumping’ is probably an Aussie thing 😀 The house sits on wooden stumps at the moment, but it will soon be placed on long metal poles to keep it high in the air and up out of any flood waters that may happen in the future. When they attach these poles and cement them into the ground it’s called ‘re-stumping’ 😀

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    • I didn’t think so, but it sure isn’t generating many views or comments…. Oh well. I didn’t see a lot of posting yesterday, so maybe folks are busy doing spring things.

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      • You know, it has seemed to me that, all a person has to do is click to a post for a “view”. When those don’t happen, that means people are not coming to your blog at all that day. I have been trying to look a few days later to see if they come back to that particular post or not.

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        • The other possibility is that they’re reading via the WordPress Reader. That will not show up as a view, even if someone leaves a like. Only if they click through to the post to leave a comment will a view be recorded in the stats. That’s one reason why I don’t like the Reader. It means the view stats are really inaccurate.

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  4. Cold and windy here too (in CT) but the sun was out on Saturday and I was looking for signs of spring everywhere. I didn’t find many – three in total: one tree in the distance with fuzzy yellow (I was driving so couldn’t look for long but I got a glimpse), the green tips of our hyacinths sprouting through the mulch and one forsythia bush in early bloom. That made me so happy! 🙂 Hope the cleaning is going well – not fun, but has to be done … I guess.

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    • They’re calling for another rain/snow mix for us tomorrow after rain later today. I’m hoping the 2-4 inches of white stuff doesn’t materialize! This winter just keeps going and going and going…. I’m afraid we’ll have two weeks of spring and then dive into summer. The flowers that are blooming now look so cold. 😉

      House cleaning’s almost done, but I’ve got some other stuff I really need to do, too. Not a terribly relaxing weekend. But let’s cross our fingers that this is winter’s last gasp. Really. This time for sure. Right?

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  5. I love the graciousness in this post! 😀

    JM, I genuinely look forward to reading your work. Your style is well realized, but it’s also clear, and honest. And, kind. It might sound silly to others, but I appreciate so much more authors like you who are real people, with a sincere love and compassion for your work, the world around you, and the people you meet.

    Reading something like, “Everyone was helpful and cheery, from the security folks at the front entrance to the desk staff in the land records research room and the historic documents annex….” is so…uplifting, I guess, is the appropriate word. Sure, you have frustrations and complaints once in a while, but the majority of what comes across in your work is full of this wonderful verve. I’ve loved catching up with these posts from my favorite bloggers. It’s a horrid day outside (I wonder if you’re seeing the slushy mess we are this Monday), but reading these posts is making me smile.

    Thanks!

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    • Thank you for the kind words, Mayumi! I know I’ve been a bit cranky in recent weeks, due in large part to the cold gray winter and some Seasonal Affective Disorder. And the snowy/rainy/gray weather continues today. I decided some time back that if I’m going to be honest on the blog, I have to include the “down” times, too, even though that’s difficult for me to do. I tend to be very reserved about my feelings with people around me.

      I also think that, as a culture, we’ve become too focused on the negative things around us. Television, films, books, and the news (just to name a few), are filled with depressing, hateful, pessimistic, and violent stories. There is a place for those. But there’s also a place for uplifting, positive, and peaceful tales. I think if we had a better balance of them presented to us, people might be more optimistic and less aggressive.

      So when good things happen, I do try to thank people and smile—and let others know about them. I can’t change the world. But if I can brighten someone’s day, then I’ve done something positive. And every little bit helps. 🙂

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  6. The Chieftains sounds like a lot of fun and the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Still hunkered down in a wintry place here – spring is really just in my mind so far. 🙂

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    • The concert was so much fun! And dinner was wonderful. 🙂 I’m fairly sure the good restaurants around here are the reason I can’t lose the last few pounds I want to shed! Of course, the work week’s off to a wintry start here, too. We woke up to heavy snow on the trees, bushes, and ground (and cars, and roads…). If the forecasters are finally right, things start improving tomorrow. Fingers crossed! 🙂

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  7. I’ve had the flu since Saturday morning. Three days now of decanting from the bed down to the couch, and then decanting back to bed later. Can’t look at the computer screen for too long before my head pounds so I’m a bit behind on my blog reading! Anyway, next time you go back to Ambar, can you get me an order of the spinach risotto with baked shrimp, and also the grilled asparagus, and ship it over please (it should survive the trip right?), thanks 🙂

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    • So many people I know have had nasty colds and flu this winter. My husband’s nearly 3 weeks into his cold. It slooowly gets a little better every day. I hope you’ll be feeling better quicker than that!

      The risotto and asparagus would probably help you feel much better. 🙂 I also recommend the cheese pastry. That was sooo good! Maybe we could get Ambar’s owner to ship you some—or open another restaurant in England. But only if he keeps the one in DC open!

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  8. When will spring spring?! We are still in snow up here in CT. I’m ready for it to be gone. I had periods when I worked full time where I couldn’t write. It happens. And we have to accept it. And sometimes those breaks and sabbaticals reaffirm why we write. 🙂 The itch to write comes on so strong after a few weeks or a month, we know it’s who we are.

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    • I think a combination of factors have really led to my writing stall. Of course, it’s not like I’ve stopped writing entirely. There have been the weekly installments of Meghan’s two stories. But those aren’t my novels. I’m hoping some real spring weather (which may follow today’s snow) will help. But I suspect there will be a round of spring fever first—for me and a lot of other writers. 🙂

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  9. This is such a great post, JM! You sound so busy, so productive. I find it hard to get my butt into gear sometimes, spend too long procrastinating. I’m impressed by your dedication and also think it’s great that you were away researching in a different place, that’s brilliant! 🙂

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    • Busy and productive? Fooled you! 😉 I’m probably productive everywhere except my writing. And how much of that productivity is really a purposeful avoidance of the WIPs? I’m somewhat serious about that. I’m at a stage where 1) I’m afraid I can’t make Crossroads a marketable story without turning it into a different book from the one I want to write, and 2) I’m afraid I don’t know what to do to take Death Out of Time to the final version that really works.

      I’ve just got to find my way through and choose a path that works. Maybe a long break is what I’ve needed….?

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      • I think a break is good, especially when you have a busy mind. You’re having to make big decisions, but I think it’s important to realise that there can be an experimental aspect to your writing. They’re your babies and if you want to try something new with them and you don’t feel it works, then it’s totally fine to go in a new direction. Just remember to save your different drafts under different file names! 😉

        You’ll work it all out… 🙂

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  10. In the southern hemisphere we’ve just moved into winter or fall as you know it. We had lovely weather over the weekend and the Easter weekend is looking gorgeous, at around 30 degrees Celcius. Not sure what that is in Farinheit. Spent Sunday planting seedlings, very productive and looking forward to when the veges fruit. Lovely post. Thank you.

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    • You can grow vegetables even in the winter? Our area can be mild then, but not that nice! I’ve refrained from posting photos of the snow that fell yesterday. 😉 Luckily, it’s already melted today, and our temperatures are moving to more spring-like highs by the weekend. My fingers are crossed that we really have turned the corner! I think that will help me write more positive and optimistic posts. 🙂

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      • We are fortunate our winter’s are not as cold as what you get 🙂 Fairly moderate but do get days where the max may fall below 10 degrees Celsius. Not often thankfully. 😉

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  11. I like the Chieftains–I would love to see them in concert. They are legends.

    Sounds like you’ve got a fun gig in Fairfax. One of my undergraduate degrees (and that sounds like I have a post-grad degree, which I don’t; just two BAs) is in history, and I thought at one time that what you’re doing now might be my life’s work. It wasn’t for me–as much as I like writing, talking and thinking about history, I found that the down & dirty work of poring through primary sources wasn’t for me. Sometimes I enjoyed it. I wrote my undergrad thesis on British missteps in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915.

    You might find this amusing. Sometimes its fun to read primary (and sometimes secondary or even tertiary if they’re old enough) sources that get something completely wrong. Two I can think of off the top of my head deal with “political deaths.” The first is from my Gallipoli research. As you may know, Winston Churchill was centrally involved in the strategic planning of the attack and in the conception of the “Third Front” notion, and the resulting debacle proved disastrous to his political career, which saw him as a relatively obscure back-bencher for the next two decades. Underestimating the man, at least once source from the time stated matter-of-factly that Churchill would be at best an historical footnote, and if he were remembered, would be remembered as a bumbler.

    Another fun one was from a political science text written sometime between 1976-1980. It mentioned Ronald Reagan as challenging Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. Reagan got only a handful of electoral votes, which according to the text, “ended Reagan’s career as a politician.”

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    • Those examples also remind me of the classic photo of Harry Truman holding up the Chicago Tribune issue with the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline. Oops. The Trib needed only a few hours, not years, to be proven wrong.

      Sometimes, those historic documents provide some entertainment to weary researchers. I remember going through the 1860 census for a city where the enumerator was obviously working through “the waterfront” part of town. Notorious areas, right? There were several “households” listed consecutively which had a rather large number of women living in them. By most of these, the enumerator had written a note saying “house of ill-repute.” But by several, he wrote “well-known house of ill-repute.” After reading a few of those, I muttered, “And just how do you know how well-known they are?”

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      • Ha! That’s awesome.

        Also, I understand that the reason for the “Dewey Defeats Truman Headline” (I love Harry’s grin) is that, the election was already close, but the paper decided to conduct its last poll via telephone, and the results indicated that Republican challenger Thomas E. Dewey would win. But in 1948 the telephone wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and was much more prevalent in wealthier homes. Wealthier people tended to favor the Republican candidate, and so the data was skewed.

        We may never know for sure, but I love that story. Harry S Truman is in many ways an inspirational figure. If he’d died at 35 he might well have been considered a failure in life. Always underestimated, had he run against Eisenhower in 1952 (he chose not to–he was the last president who could have served more than two terms) he would have been beaten to a pulp. Leaving office he was unpopular. But history has been kind to Harry.

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