Monday, June 25, 2012

To Do Lists

Do you have a To Do list?

Scratch that. Most everybody has one, but some people keep theirs in their head. Others - like me - know from experience that some things will ‘disappear’ and be forgotten if I keep my list in my head, so they go for something a little more tangible, like a grocery list.

My To Do list is on my computer. It’s the file I open first in the morning, and one of the last I close in the evening. It is currently 9 pages long. There have been times when it was 12 pages long, so I must be making progress, right?

Oh, not really. It’s time for my quarterly addition of tasks for another quarter. Once I’ve done that, it’ll be 11 pages, at least.

Some people think a list that long must be depressing. Some days it is, but I’m prone to depression. But I think of this list as a guideline. And at the end of each day, when I remove the items I’ve crossed off for that day, and transfer them to my Journal document, it serves as a reminder of what I’ve accomplished.

How could I possibly have a list that long? A lot of the ‘chores’ are repeating, and need to be done every day, or every week. And it covers every aspect of my life.  I list all my medications, and cross them off as I take them. I break down which room to clean which day of the week, and even that is broken into separate chores, like vacuum, clean windows, and so on. I might not get all those separate chores done each week, but I get some of them. Otherwise, I go into that room and am overwhelmed, wondering where to start. I keep track of which writing project to work on which day. (I typically have 2 I’m working on at a time; a rough draft and a rewrite.)

That list also includes doctor appointments, errands I need to run, projects for MoonPhaze, projects for my own marketing, projects for various organizations that I’ve volunteered to do....

I even have a reminder on there that we’ll probably need a new dishwasher in 2016.

Okay, so I have a long list. It’s long because I don’t want to forget anything, even the things I don’t really want to do. It’s how I keep myself organized. Sort of. Sometimes I have to put something off for a day because I underestimated how long I would need for something else. Like this blog post, which was supposed to be written yesterday.

No, it’s not perfect. But it’s mine.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Odd Earth Plants

If you want a cool type of plant to inhabit your world or universe, sometimes all you have to do is look around Earth to find some interesting possibilities to ponder. Just think about it, there are Earth plants that live floating in the seas, submerged along coasts, in marshes, bogs and swamps, in rain forests, deserts, steppes, mountains, prairies, tundra … even surrounding underwater volcano vents as well as land-based geysers and hot springs. It seems like whatever the type of climate and topography where you want plants to grow, Earth might have some plants that would give you possibilities to consider.

But besides trying to figure out if your alien lawn is going to be more like grass or moss, just a little bit of looking around at Earth plants might give you some extra thoughts to ponder. How do your alien plants scatter their babies for the next generation?

Earth plants have a variety of methods; air, land and, uh, animals. By air, we’ve all seen dandelions in their final stage, and any little breeze sends those seeds scattering over the neighbor’s lawn. By land, wild strawberries nearly took over my lawn last year, sending ‘runners’ between the grass blades to create baby plants. And plenty of berry plants rely on birds and other animals to eat their berries and then ‘deposit’ the un-digested seeds in another location.

I just read about one of those plants. The sweet mignonette can only survive in certain conditions, and obviously, if one has matured and produced berries, it has found those conditions. The soil a few feet away might not be as good a location. Mignonette berries are sweet, but its seeds – if chewed – are referred to as ‘mustard bombs’. Mice eat the berries and spit the seeds out near the base of the parent plant.

I’ve also heard of a plant that doesn’t rely on any of those unpredictable methods; it bends over and pushes its own seeds into the ground.

So, as you think about the plants on your alien world, have some fun researching some of the ‘odder’ Earth planets for useful ideas.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

HOT Vacation Notes

You’ve seen it in movies, read it in books; an intrepid band of adventurers (or maybe just one) must travel through a desert with the clothes on their backs and few or no supplies. As one expects in the desert, the sun beats down, and after a full day of traveling, at least one (probably only one) adventurer is ‘severely’ sun burnt. Maybe s/he falls into an exhausted sleep of fevered dreams. Maybe, if they find an oasis, someone places cool damp cloth on the reddened face. If natives come to their rescue, the tribal healer may give the burnt one an ointment to help the skin heal.

Other than those few bits I’ve mentioned above, the affliction of sunburn is not mentioned, and doesn’t affect the abilities of that person beyond the first day.

You’re not going to see sunburns treated so cavalierly in my books.

Hubby and I went to a water park during our vacation. I’ve been told all my life that I have skin like a redhead’s, and I’ve said for decades that I ‘burn at the drop of a sunbeam’. When we go to a water park, I try to find someplace I can entertain myself in the shade, with only occasional short stints in the sunlight. By the time the rest of the family is ready to leave, I hopefully only have a pink bit of sunburn to contend with.

I forgot all that, I guess. Oh, I started on the not-so-lazy river, which has large stretches of shade, but then I wandered to the ‘wave pool’. After 2 hrs in the mid-day sun, I could tell my face was burnt, so we left. By the time we reached our room, I was in PAIN! My face felt like it was on fire, my soft cotton t-shirt scraped my shoulders and back into agony. I slathered on moisturizer several times the rest of that day, and poured ice beverages down my throat, hoping to give my body the water it needed to repair this fiery damage. At least, I did those things until I developed the shivers so bad, all I could do was curl up inside a blanket on the sofa. I was still shivering when I went to bed.

The next day, I stayed indoors, continued with the moisturizer and iced beverages. And ibuprofen to fight off any more fevers. My face still burned. My shoulders, back and upper chest gave sharp protests whenever I moved an arm. On day 3, the burn on my face was pink on the lower cheeks and chin, but still red across the forehead, cheekbones and nose. The other burnt areas were much the same as Tuesday, except my back and collar bones - although still very tender - started to itch. And so my recovery continued slowly, a mixture of pain, tenderness, care and irritating itchiness. I still hadn’t gotten to the peeling stage.

And mine would not be considered a ‘severe’ case of sunburn, since I didn’t have any blisters that first day to indicate a 2nd degree burn.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

More Vacation Notes

Another week in Orlando. What has happened that might have any bearing on writing?

We do theme parks a lot. That’s one reason why we come to Orlando; between Walt Disney World, Universal, Sea World, Cape Canaveral to the east and Busch Gardens to the west, we can keep ourselves entertained. Another reason we come at this particular time of the year is because of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday for 4 weeks, you can get free autographs from the Star Wars guests on hand that weekend, shop in the special Star Wars store, and line up to see special stage performances by the Star Wars guests. Oh, yeah, there’s a bunch of costumed characters on hand for photo opportunities, too.

The problem is that you have to have a special fastpass to be assigned a time to get those autographs, and people start lining up for the next day’s fastpass hand-out as early as 9 PM the night before. We don’t sleep on the concrete to get our spot in that line, but we have gotten up as early as 4 AM to get into line by 5. This is fine for Hubby, who wakes up with the sun anyway. He’s an Early Bird through and through. But I’m a night owl, and getting up that early is a killer. With my bad knees, standing in line for those fastpasses is, um, a killer. I’ve taken to reading fantasy while standing in line, to distract myself from the various aches and pains.

Things to keep in mind for my characters while writing: 1) Sleep is good, 2) water bottles are good, 3) rain can be a bummer when you’re caught out in it, 4) sun block is good when it isn’t raining, 5) DISTRACTION can be a really good thing when the alternative is to find yourself focusing on discomfort.

Still more to come!