Comfort Zones

Photo by Owen CL on Unsplash

Just the other day I was off to see one of my doctors, a three hour drive away. Now I love this doctor. he is a dream, he is so sweet, nice, good at what he does, good looking…. married. <– Total bummer.

Anyways, one think that I have found over the years is I need comfort zones and surprisingly, I don’t need much to put me in it. For the doctor’s visit, all I needed was one of my favorite shirts, a necklace and a pair of earrings. That was it! Granted, my metal crow feather necklace is pretty unique and I use it lots of Saturdays when I write. It’s kind of my statement piece of jewelry. My earrings were my ‘silver’ square columns that are about  two inches long and a quarter of an inch wide. They have heft. They are cool. They are not silver despite ebay saying they were, but I love them anyhow. They give me comfort.

I have comfort books too. Those books you know you need to take with you even if you don’t ever plan to read it, but you know you could pick it up in a flash and you are okay. For me it’s my paperback copy of Here Comes the Sun by Emilie Loring (there Patty, I’ve mentioned EL after a dry spell of not bringing her up at all!) That book will always make my life more relaxed. Sometimes I put it in my purse (it’s more of a bag) even if I have another book or two in there just because I want that comfort zone. I know, weird, but I always take too many books with me, especially to doctor’s visits. This last week I took three books and my kindle… which has a ton of books on it.

Another comfort author is Janet Dailey’s Americana series. The books are short ish and I have almost the entire paperback collection.

I have comfort zones in my house. Sitting on the couch on the front porch, being in the blueberry plants, my chair at the kitchen table that can be pushed back to sit over the wall heater in the winter.  I have comfort clothes; that perfect pair of jeans, certain shirts, a purse I love, even socks! Gotta have a comfy pair of socks.

I gravitate towards turquoises and coral pinks for my comfort colors. Colors are a huge comfort zone thing that most people don’t even realize they have. First off, did you know that your eye color is going to determine your comfort color? Most people with aqua colored eyes, will pick that tone, or variations of that tone and wear it, or want to decorate with it. Same for blue eyes, hazel, brown. Take a look at what you would pick in an instant as your comfort color. I bet it’s close to your eye color.

Music is a huge part of comfort zones for me. There are songs that I can always turn on and just sink right into it. I keep a lot of those on my mp3 player for when I go somewhere and need a pick me up. Currently Miles Davis’ ‘Nature Boy’ has become a huge favorite. But I have had all kinds of comfort zones.

I think even in our writing we step into a comfort zone at times when we just need to write. I ramble and make short fragment statements, puttering with word sounds and rhymes or assonance. Or is it alliteration? One or the other. It just happens. I the we default back to comfort zones and what makes us feel ‘grounded’ more often than not.

I’m curious what other people find to be comfort zones. Do you have clothes you just have to wear every time you go somewhere? My friend Dona in the writing group always wears her Jane Austen ring (reproduction) and her owl earrings. I try to always have a certain pen. Some people need a specific water bottle when they go out.

What is your comfort zone? And do you need it to write?

Even the picture I used for this post is a comfort zone. Leaves in the early fall when they days are still warm but are changing…. oh yeah, the entire fall is a comfort zone.

Kate

My Little Part in the Local Summer Reading Program

I have been involved with donating a prize for the Summer Reading Program to our small town library for the past few years now, and this year I decided to go big. Past years have seen jars of little origami stars, yarn pom-pom bookmarks, there was a set of books and a wooden cobra.  Little things. Nothing that was terribly extravagant because I could never get my butt in gear to get anything done.  Running the produce business with my mom during our busiest season didn’t afford a lot of time for making things, and I rarely like to purchase anything for reading programs, coming up with something fun on my own. The origami stars in a jar were always fun, especially with little quotes about  the stars and such. Easy to do, since I spent my tv watching time folding them and it was something I had jars and jars of.

But this year, I decided that I wanted to go big. I was flipping through a Southern Living  or something along the lines of that, I can’t remember now, and in one of the articles, there was this image of a Jenga game. And not just any Jenga, but a giant one. One made with two by fours. One that was super classy looking with nautical colors, being played on a lake dock, mind you. It was so cool.

So I started hunting for two by fours at our local cabinet shop since they tend to throw out a lot of scraps. No dice. I found nothing but some two by sixes or eights. It would have required a lot of ripping and sanding and futzing with. As it was, I was enlisting Mr. B’s help in the process because hey, he’s the one with all the tools.  So I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, because purchasing the wood isn’t cheap. They say it might cost you around $25, but that’s only if you are probably getting the inexpensive, twisted 2×4’s.

Then serendipity struck. Mr. B has been hard at work cleaning out his garage filled with, well, stuff. A lot of stuff. Mostly wood stuff. Boards, trim, blocks, wood.  And he had been collecting really pretty plywood with nice veneers for a while. We are talking cherry, oak, birch, poplar, douglas fir, etc. Nice stuff. Really nice stuff.  Well, he was going to just burn it or chuck it, when I asked, “hey, could you use this?”

Turns out you could. So, after a lot of cutting (57 blocks because hey, he thought we needed more) and a lot of sanding (a LOT of sanding) and painting (after I finally found what paint I wanted at our 2nd hand store) and painting some more (and having my librarian ask when the heck I was going to have my project done… okay, she was a lot sweeter about my dilly dallying than that statement) and finally making a carrying case (Mr. B couldn’t just make a box, no, we ended up with a snazzy tool box carrying case)….. And almost a month into the whole thing, the project was done.

This is a heavy , outdoorsy, cool game that turned out so cool. I mean, I wanted to keep it it was so cool, but I was also afraid to play it because if you know Jenga, you know it eventually topples.  And I’m working with a stack that is probably around 10-15 pounds. (the case and game all together are pretty hefty)

But this thing turned out so incredibly well! I’m excited to have made it. I may never do it again, but still.  It looks soooooo cool. And I have specific family I hope wins the thing since their kids are readers….. But we shall see.

What do you think? You can see several stages of the game below. Pretty nifty, huh?

 

So, I’m pretty happy with the whole thing. Now I need to start now, thinking about what I’m going to do next year….

Kate

Getting Smacked in the Face by Censorship in Today’s Society

Over the years I’ve read about censorship with books, from the Nazis burning books, to various other books being banned throughout our country for various reasons. Books, like Harry Potter and Maya Angelou’s ‘Why the Caged Bird Sings’.  Books that were banned for their content, for no other reason than the content made someone uncomfortable.

But I thought in our ‘enlightened’ time of free speech (though I have seen plenty of instances where even that right is protested by the youth of today…) that censoring books was gone. Don’t get me wrong, I have had people gasp that I read and like Harry Potter, yet they are perfectly okay with The Lord of the Rings……. crickets chirping…….. really people, there is no difference other than J.R.R. Tolkien was a catholic…   I never thought I would run into ‘hiding books’ because they were a certain kind of book.

Last week I wrote about my book display the librarian allowed me to set up, see the post Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys, and how the prudish women volunteers (yes, I am going to call them that even if the title hurts) were uncomfortable with romance books being set up on a table that had, in the past, been used in the children’s section. See the display made them uncomfortable…….

Censorship at its best all starts with someone being uncomfortable.

‘I don’t like what that book is about’,  ‘I don’t want to read about racism in our country’,  ‘I don’t like hearing about childhood rape’, ‘Sorcery is a bad thing, children can’t read about that’, I don’t have a romantic life, I don’t want to read about romance and possibly hot sex’……..  The last line is my own addition to what I feel might be the root of the problem in my case. Am I trying to be mean? No, just making an assumption. Because not wanting romance sitting out where everyone can see it, (Come on people, children are oblivious to A LOT!) says to me that you have a more psychological problem with sex and romance.  Which is rather ironic in my mind because I can bet you, had I put a display of Shakespeare’s plays out, no one would have said a thing.  Or maybe a display of Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Steinbeck, who are considered some of our greatest writers who wrote about love and sex! I’m sure a display of those would have been fine.enhanced-buzz-11259-1379943626-5

Again, it goes back to one’s perceived discomfort with something. As a whole, people don’t want to be around something that makes them uncomfortable. We avoid it and try to stay as far away from it as possible. As a voracious reader, one whom the volunteers at the library have dubbed ” one of our best customers”, I have read my fair share of things that have made me uncomfortable.  Eli Wiesel’s ‘Night’ comes to mind as a book I highly recommend and everyone should read it, but it gave me nightmares and a case of depression for weeks.  See, the things that tend to make me uncomfortable tend to deal with the sufferings of mankind. Not a sexy bed scene. Sure, I have read graphic murders in a mystery book— won’t read about that again— and some sadistic sorcerer murders in another young adult book — definitely won’t read that again— but that’s all you do. You put the book down.

You say, “Oh, I can’t read this anymore.” You don’t go out and try to ‘burn’ all those books you don’t want to read. You don’t tell someone they can’t read such and such because it makes YOU uncomfortable. You just deal. Life is about dealing with uncomfortable things, not letting them define you, but realizing that they are out there.

There will always be books that are going to make you uncomfortable, and books you don’t want to read.  That is your choice. Your freedom. But it is also the freedom for others to read those same books and for you to not tell them they can’t.

CensorshipNow my display was ‘ruined’ and the attitude of those involved with removing the display and the librarian compromising to the point of a form of censorship, is not okay. Granted the books are still out, albeit, high on the top shelf where no child could, gasp, reach them, but still….. Children are going to be confronted with romance books. Go to any grocery store and, gasp, the romance books are where children’s books are. The grocery store isn’t going to hid the adult books from kids. And we are not talking porn magazines and such.

This image was borrowed from Melville House, where it illustrates an article  if you click on the image. garydrobson.com

Romance, love, sex, are all part of life…… uh and the reason we have kids…..   Hiding it in itself is childish.

Again, I will clarify the fact that I kept the more questionable romances in the back of the library, I.E. Fifty Shades, etc. But to remove the other normal ones from any child’s eyes is so ridiculous. Again, it is showing your issues.

People tell me to keep fighting, Mims and Shala, thank you, and others, Dona, who understand my not wanting to offend people. My first post/rant was not posted on Facebook because I’m connected to the librarian and others that are part of the library. But as someone reminded me today, none of these volunteers cared about offending me. SO this is one post that is going up on Facebook because this is a bigger issue than just my feelings getting hurt or my display and ideas being moved.

Censorship is clearly alive and well, unfortunately so. And there is a good chance you will find that in rural areas people’s ideas and beliefs trump the right o read what we please without interference.

Not that anyone has ever stopped me from reading whatever the heck I want, but I don’t need to be judged by it either.

Oh, and the whole point of the library is to encourage people, not just children, to read, including books that have been banned……….

Kate

PAD Day 25 – Exercise – Exercise in Restraint and more poems

So my first thought this morning when I was thinking of exercise, the PAD prompt of the day, I was thinking running. Because running is an exercise in mental and physical ability. Running is how I lose weight. Nothing else burns the fat off quite as quickly. But the downside is I am not a very good runner. I have to use an inhaler for breathing, a form of exhalation asthma according to my doctor. I get worn out super fast, I can only run on a good day about two miles…. Three miles is the most I’ve ever pushed myself and it’s amazing, because I hit my wall at about a mile and a half to two miles.  So if I can get past that, well whoo hoo!  I need to get out running because this winter I put on at least 10 pounds. Even my comfy jeans are getting a bit snug…. Sigh.

But then I was walking to the library and I realized that I have to restrain myself when I go the the library. I would check out so many books, but my card has a limit. A twenty item limit. I can’t whip out my card like a credit card and just check out anything.  Lol. I would if I could and I would be carting home too many books!

And lastly, a bit of minor slam-ish poetry about how after the first four days in January, your New Year’s resolution is almost kaput.  So enjoy today’s three poems

Exercising Book Restraint

It’s an exercise in restraint to book shop
at my library when the new rotation
fills up the shelves in flashy covers
and my fingers itch to pull them down,
stuff them in my bag, greedy-like
then whipping out my library card
like it’s a platinum credit card
with no limit and endless funds.
Sadly my card is usually maxed out
at twenty items which is never enough.
New covers and new stories are my bling
my guilty pleasure, my food of living
Exercising restraint takes all the fun
out of library book shopping.

Running – Said on a Epithet

My feet hit the pavement with a slap
the rubber of my shoes absorbing impact
a hint of pain vibrating up to my knees
Running. Said on an epithet
It’s the agony that makes me cringe
the pain radiation from my shoulders out
and down to my calves that makes me
cringe and resist the exercise.
The endorphin’s buzz isn’t always enough.
Running, said on a sigh, now that’s
what makes me pull on my shoes
once or twice a week in the summer.
Knowing I’ll be in shape if I keep it up.
Running; is a casual thing for me.
Or jogging since I only run a ten minute mile
on a good week, or month, or never.
I love running the track field. Around
around, around till I hit three miles.
That magic three makes me dance and explode
in pure happiness as I pass my wall.
That stupid wall around one and a half to
two miles, and a flushed face, and a
wheezing set of lungs and the promise
of a damn good cup of coffee at home.
But three is my number, my goal, my
challenge and delight and reward.
Summer is coming and the running is
nagging me like a child tugging my skirts.
I’ve yet to acknowledge it other than
a passing glance, or a taste of guilt.

Exercise on a Slam

January — stack up the exercise books
pull out the free weights and yoga mats
Your New Year’s resolution is taunting you
You made the promise in a drunken flash
fool that you are, ignore the chip stash.
Don’t you know that booze lies?
But you are determined to win, goodbye fries.
The battle of weight and outta shape
You can ignore the cookies on the plate
Stretch and flex, you can win
It’s been four days, don’t give in.
Stick to your guns it’s only pain
and muscle you will eventually gain.
Others around will lose this battle
Heck, this lugging around isn’t just for cattle!
So step up the pace and push yourself on
Five days isn’t that far gone……..

Purple Mountain’s Majesty – Flash Fiction

Here is a piece I wrote just this weekend during my local writing circle. I have been making up my own writing prompts using scrapbook paper  and a prompt, a color, and a number on the little slip of paper. For those wondering about great colors… Try Crayola colors on Wikipedia. I love the titles, always have, Midnight Blue being an absolute favorite, along with Mint Green and Chartreuse.   Or try paint chips. A wealth of color names and ideas come from paint chips. Well, the writing prompts went over great, and one of the ones I chose had Crayola’s purple crayon, Purple Mountain’s Majesty, on it. So here’s the inspired piece of flash fiction.

Via Robby Hare blog

She sat at her morning spot, the nook on the east side of the house. Not really a nook so much as a seat under the window with a wide enough ledge to set her coffee cup. It was her time of  uninterrupted moments. Her time without a husband calling for something to be ironed or where were his cuff links. It was before the mountain sunrise. It was almost before the stars had set. The time between time.

She sat reading Amar Singh’s Diary about Imperial India. She had picked the book up on a whim at a library book sale. Maybe the color had intrigued her. Or maybe it was because it was about India. She always wanted to go to India but had never really put the idea into motion. So she read about it.

While she read, she idly flipped one of her son’s crayons over and over in her left hand. Somehow, her nook had been confiscated recently to be an art studio. There were crayons in cups on the window sill and abstract drawings taped to the wall. Jeremy was a mini Picasso. Or just a very ordinary five-year-old boy.

She glanced at the crayon in her hand. Purple Mountain’s Majesty was the color. How fitting to be holding a color that matched what she could see and what was her favorite view. A shadowed purple, not as clear as Lavender or lilac, but so pleasing. The color was waxy and warm in her hands. She set the crayon down just as the first diamond ray of the sun peaked over the jagged mountains.

Yes, the view was most definitely Purple Mountain’s Majesty.

 

Enjoy.

Kate

Down Time, Not Writing Time – Writing 101 Day 9

When I’m not writing. Well, that’s pretty much just my life.  I get up, I take care of the house, I fix meals, I garden/farm… I exist.  Life is rarely me going from one point of writing to the next. It’s more of a “Oh, yay, I have five moments of time in between what I need to do and what I have to do.”  Right now, as I type, the timer just went off reminding me to swish the hand laundry. The delicates that have been piling up for way too long and all us girls in the house are completely out of favorites. It’s a desperate time. It really is quite traumatic when we run out of that favorite blue thing…

There, I have eight more minutes to type before the timer goes off again. My life has down time, for sure, but it’s sporadic. Right now, because it’s cold and wintery, I have evenings as my down time. I don’t take the daytime as I am usually rushing to get everything done before 4pm when I have to get outside to cover rows and rows of plants growing still, and finish up taking care of the chickens for the evening. Basically I have an hour and a half of time shot every evening…. Pardon me, there goes another timer for the washer…… And today it will be even worse as it’s supposed to be even colder, so everything needs a bit more cover tonight.

But when I do have down time and I’m not writing, I do have some other things I like to do. Usually they relate to writing, or reading. I read whenever I can. Right now I have about five books started and very little hopes on finishing any of them. I have a hard time finishing books now because 1. I write more than anything so books get put to the wayside; and 2. I don’t like half the books I start. The one exception this year was the Vampire Academy series and The Lady In Gold. Other than that, I can’t think of a single other thing I finished from the library.  I did have my book review books.

I visit the library whenever I can, but I haven’t taken much time to sit down and just read there lately. I get caught up visiting the ladies and I don’t sit down and read. Granted, it was summer mostly so I couldn’t take the time earlier this year. But I love to browse the shelves of the little library. Shelves I know so well. I could close my eyes and you could put me on any isle and I could tell you what was in front of me. Most likely. I might be a little off since they changed the shelves a little and moved everything over one shelf.

I enjoy puttering outside in the sun, but usually there is something that needs to be done so puttering is more of an actual job that needs doing. Yesterday it was spreading mulch and burning.  But when I can, I have my camera with me and I am busy snapping away for anything from the business, to my cards, to just fun. I enjoy getting up close and personal with things.

Life gets in the way of a lot of writing. The fact that I’m taking time out of my day right now to write is crazy. I should be vacuuming something or picking up something else. There is enough clutter right now to make a OCD person go completely insane.

But not writing gives me a chance to mull over ideas. Which I’ve said in the past. And usually after I do a bunch of writing challenges, I need a break. I should have probably taken a break after October and writing every day, but I liked the idea of a poetry challenge. And I liked keeping up the pace, even if I don’t post every day. If I just sit down and work on a sonnet, it’s still writing. So every day I’m trying to do that. I love it. And while sometimes I get a little burned out, it doesn’t happen enough to give up writing something every day.

Kate

Unmotivated Me

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about. It’s not even that I don’t have the time…. Okay, well time is limited right now. But I’m just not motivated to write.  I have a two book reviews I need to post, a book I need to finish reading before I can write a review, letters to friends, ideas for writing, a blog post on haying season, pictures….. The list goes on and on.

But right now about all I’m interested in doing is daydreaming and reading. I haven’t even written much of anything. Okay, that’s not true. I did write a poem just this last week titled “Elephants”. I should type it up and share it because I’m kind of proud of how it turned out.

I have been dabbling in a new piece of fiction which was inspired by ASMR and The French Whisperer over on Youtube. I seriously suggest if you are interested in ASMR to check his channel out. The tingles this guy can put up my spine….. Whew!  Magic. Puts me to sleep every time I listen to him at night.  Recently I listened to his take on the History of the Palace of Versailles.  That was really interesting for one, and really relaxing for another.  And I’m going off on a different tangent.

My reading has consisted of a bit of poetry; Rumi, Billy Collins, Rilke; an Emilie Loring, a few random fiction books, and the desire to read A Farewell to Arms and The Great Gatsby.  I have failed to finish anything nor get very far in anything.

One major reason for all this lack of motivation is right now the farming is in full swing.  What with watering, picking, and the heat….. well there isn’t a lot of down time. I am getting to the point of the season where I can spend two to three hours picking blueberries. Not to mention a few hours watering, oh and I cook two meals a day and do the laundry and pick up the house… Okay the house is kind of a joke right now.  There is way too much dust in all spots and I would NOT want anyone to come over.  Some places make me want to scream.

California is in a serious drought so watering is a conscious effort to not waste water.  Lawns? Pshaw! Those are going by the wayside except for where there are fruit trees because anyone who knows anything about gardening knows that fruit tree roots extend beyond what you think.  So the lawn around the trees gets watered.  And because this is a very dry year, the spider mites have set in.  On the positive side of things, the spider mites are the reason we have had burnt looking leaves on several plants for several years.  One would think it would be crazy to say that was a positive thing, but now I know that it wasn’t my fault in how I watered. Okay, indirectly it was because lack of water leads to the mites coming in, but it wasn’t like I wasn’t watering good enough, it was more that it wasn’t quite enough to deal with the infestation.

So, as you can see, it’s rather busy.  I hope to get a book review for a Christian romance up this week. And also Persephone Books let me read their book The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.  Marvelous book. I have been a bit behind with getting that review written as well.  And lastly, my post on haying season with pictures…..

So, hopefully soon this blog will be back into ship shape…. Excluding my random pages that need a serious updating.

I need a maid.

Le sigh, as Jules says.

 

Kate

Her Reading Room – Flash Fiction

LQ4d15U-9780She had a reading room all her own, filled with books she collected over the years. Dusty old tombs from the library book sales. Discarded books that she wanted to give a home to. Unloved books that needed the warmth of a loving soul that would give them new life.

She had new books. Crisp pages and unmarked paper. Stiff spines and smelling of glue and wood pulp.  The old books smelled of time and dust and people. The new held the smell of adventure.

She had picture books and encyclopedias. Fiction, non fiction, how to books. She had books on gardening and sewing. Books on Asian culture and mythology; Greek and Nordic mythology. Fairytales ruled a top shelf that was colorful and arranged like a child would.

Some of her shelves held neat rows of books from a series, while others were arranged by her favorites. One shelf was devoted to books she had plans to read. That shelf was getting more and more full as time went on and she visited more book sales. This book thing was an affliction in some ways.

She had her big open windows to let the gorgeous sun in with a comfortable chairs set so that whatever her mood, the light was just right for reading. The shelves themselves were big and filled one whole wall. In the back corner she had her writing desk and a big bulletin board she frequently had filled with thumbtacked pages of some idea she was writing. The cork board was always cluttered with notes and ideas.  However having the books around her and the dark corner, made writing so much more simple since she couldn’t get distracted.

An up to date sound system, with speakers that were tucked away, filled the room with music from Debussy to One Republic. It all depended on the mood. Sometimes you need a bit of pop music to read by.

And since there was nothing like having tea or coffee while reading, she always kept an electric kettle filled on a small table with cups and tea and instant coffee. Granted, most of the time her drink of choice was cold by the time she actually finished it. When one met the man of their dreams on page 150, tea became unimportant.

Yes, this room was magical, opening worlds she could only dream, or read, about visiting. Her room became the 10351141_814052365327874_232371573355012167_nTardis.

 

Okay, I was inspired by the image of the personal library, to write a bit of flash fiction about it. And as for the last line, I saw this marvelous picture and it has stuck with me. I get shivers looking at this picture.

Enjoy my rambles, dearies.

Kate

 

I’m Not Going To Feel Guilty!

Okay, so a week or so ago I posted a Barnes and Noble blog post on the perks of dating a non reader, The Non Reader & Me.

Points 4, 5, and 9, are what have been getting to me lately.  I feel guilty that I’m not reading new books from the library. I’m not finishing books from the library, and I just feel like my own stack of Emilie Loring’s and less deep books.  I just want to putter with books that have no due date or anything pretentious about them.  (the points, by the way are : 4. They never judge any of the books you’re reading, even your guilty pleasure beach reads. ,5. You’re never obligated to read books they’ve recommended to you instead of the books you actually want to read., and 9. They never judge you for the books you haven’t read.)

I feel like I should be reading new books, not old books that are comfortable like a friend or curled up in that chair you love. The guilt! Oh the guilt. I can’t be a true reader if I read books that I’ve read over and over, can I?

But this is silly.  Especially when you see my two stacks of books to read…. Oh pardon, it’s three stacks.Second Stack Stack to read

But I’m worrying about having things to read. Yes, I will admit, this is slightly insane, the guilt that is…. Though the stack of books is really ridiculous.  So, I am going to sit back and relax….. (I feel like Matthew Mcconaughey is in my head as I say that)  And just try to read my stacks of books.  That being said, I just checked another Emilie Loring book out of the library today, even though I have several of hers in paperback…. Just not the one I wanted….

I’m not going to feel guilty!

Signing off

Kate