Finding the Balance

Life is a balancing act. You have to balance work and play, work and family, diet and exercise and for me, at least, work and writing. Even in writing, there is a balancing act that authors do when writing fiction. It’s called tension and that is what drives the work, you balance the information you give your readers very carefully. in dieting, you need to balance your caloric intake with what you spend. In the working life, some people take their work home, which encroaches on their family life. Work and play are equally important. Too much play and the work suffers. Too much work and the play suffers, causing work to suffer. Play rejuvenates us. People who don’t play enough tend to die young.

If you are working eight hours a week, you are not playing enough. The number of heart attacks and strokes would go down, if people would just lighten up and play a bit. Playing is good. There’s a reason “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is considered a truism. It is true. Jack also runs the risk of health problem. Where’s the fun in that? nowhere, that’s where.

As far as dieting goes, too much activity is just as bad as not enough activity. Not enough activity can make you fat and prone to health issues. too much activity and you may not be able to get enough fuel to continue. Either way, you end up with health issues.

Writing is a sedentary occupation, so I have to balance it with some kind of activity like mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or just plain going for a walk. With my tablet, I can walk and write at the same time. I usually don’t, but I could. What I usually end up doing, is composing things in my head as I walk, then come back and write it down. The rough draft is mental, so to speak, because when I write it down, I inevitably change something. it works well enough. That’s the key. Find a way to combine your needs into one thing and you can do more with the time available. With writing and walking, you can do that, although you should also remain alert to what is going on around you.

Most of the time you can’t combine two activities like that. I might walk in the rain, but I wouldn’t take my tablet out in the rain. I suppose you could walk and eat at the same time, but, really, that is not recommended. I’m not entirely sure why that would be a problem, unless it could lead to issues with digestion.

So try to find a way to balance the various aspects of your life. Only you know what works for you. In the meantime, I’m still looking for what works for me.

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Posted in General Opinion

Replacing a Window Screen

Sometimes it’s necessary to replace the screening in your windows. It’s not hard to do, but you will need materials. You will need screening of course. I used the nylon stuff although the aluminum stuff would last longer, the nylon stuff is easier to work with, it’s your choice. You will need a roll of spline. Spline is a kind of rubbery cord that fits into the groove around the window frame. That is what holds the screen in place. You will probably have to replace it along with the screen. They do not last forever.

It’s not as hard as it might seem. Your first step is to remove the screen from the window. You should have a flat surface ready for when you do this. You will need to rest the screen frame on the flat surface to re-spline it.

Lay the window screen on a flat surface and pull out the spline. You might need to use a screw driver to pry the spline out of the groove. Then take out the screen and discard it. Lay the roll of new screen over the frame and unroll it to cover the entire frame. Then you simply cut it to fit. That’s why nylon is easy to work with – you can use scissors to cut it. Then you take the roll of spline and put one end into the groove of the frame, with the screen between the spline and the frame. Take the spline tool, which consists of a hand grip with two wheels on either end. One of the wheels is convex, while the other is concave. Use the convex one to push the spline into the groove. You use the convex one to smooth it all out. Make sure you have a taut screen while you are doing this. Go down the side of the frame, along the bottom, up the other side and across the top. Then you are done.

Things to be aware of, cats like to sit in the middle of the screen while you are trying to hold it taut, so make sure to shoo them away. If you try to work on the floor, keep your dogs away as well. They will be curious and step right in the way on their way to getting in your face.

Take your time with this task. Speed is not your friend here as you can easily pull the screen loose before you get it completely pressed into place. This is the Voice of Experience. If you hold the screen too taut, you will pop the spline out of the groove on one side even aas you are doing the other side. Make sure that you leave enough edge to hang onto while you are pressing the spline and the screen into the frame.

Once you get the screen splined in, and it is nice and taut, just trim off the excess screen, put the newly screened frame back into the window, and enjoy the fresh air. That’s all there is to it.

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Posted in General Opinion

Feline Freedom League July Report

From: Agent Mulder To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 6 July 2014
Subject: July Mission Report

Agent Cuddlebug only proved that he is going senile, in my opinion. I think he was trying to prove that he is still a vigorous agent, but that was sheer stupidity. He went through the stiff stuff that covers the window over an imagined slight by Agent Alistair. Now I had been in for interrogation. This is so wrong. I had nothing to do with Agent Cuddlebug’s bid for Stupid Agent of the Year. that was his idea and his alone. I got interrogated anyway. I gave up nothing, by the way. The humans still do not realize that we are as organized as we are. Our secrets are still ours. As usual, I have stood strong. They will never learn our secrets from me. I am immutable. They will never break me. I am no pampered feline to be won over with special treats. Did I mention that they tortured me? They stuck a sharp thing into my backside but I gave them no satisfaction. They learned nothing.

From: Agent Probie To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 6 July 2014
Subject: July Mission Report

Agent Cuddlebug is awesome. I didn’t know he could move like that, but he really held his own with Agent Alistair. I learned some new words that Agent Luna says I can’t ever say. Agent Cuddlebug said them. I guess he hurt himself because he was limping afterword and the humans took him for interrogation. I was surprised when I went to interrogation as well. I didn’t go at the same time as Agent Cuddlebug but I was interrogated. They poked me with the sharp thing and it hurt. I didn’t tell them a thing though. it wasn’t like the other times I was interrogated. I remember everything they did. Agent Storm says that’s normal. They usually don’t make us forget the interrogation. I’m not sure why they would want us to forget one interrogation and remember the rest, but Agent Storm is older and knows about interrogations. He’s been to enough of them.

Agent Snickers was importuned loudly the other night. Agent Alistair scared her, the little canine I have been cultivating and the older female human. I’m not sure what his aim was. Agent Snickers wouldn’t talk about it. She just told me to mind my own business. She seemed almost embarrassed. Agent Cuddlebug’s leg did get better, but he still tries to milk it. That’s all I have to report this month.

From: Agent Smudge To: Mr. Whiskers Date: 6 July 2014
Subject: July Mission Report

Agent Mulder is too kind. The old tom should retire and be confined to a home. He’s stirred Alistair up enough to try to break into this place – what’s wrong with Alistair? He should be glad to be free. Anyway, I too, was interrogated. I told them nothing because I had nothing to tell. They will have to satisfied with that. as for telling them of our secrets and strategy, I volunteered nothing and they asked nothing. They didn’t even ask about Agent Cuddlebug’s bid for freedom – or his insane attack on Alistair.

I was poked with the tiny sharp twig a well. it is not really an act of bravery to endure it. the pain is sharp at the time, but quickly fades. I’m certain that it is not a form of torture, but a method of using drugs to make us talk. I fear that eventually, they will come up with a formula that will force us to talk. Perhaps we should invest in some countermeasures to that eventuality. Is there something in progress? of course such a thing would be top secret. I will keep my speculations to myself going forward. In the meantime, would it be possible to have Agent Cuddlebug committed for evaluation. I think he is senile, or headed that way.

Michigan Humane Society: Somebody here needs you.

The Animal Rescue Site
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Posted in Feline Freedom League Report

Finding Your Balance

Life is a balancing act. You have to balance work and play, work and family, diet and exercise and for me, at least, work and writing. Even in writing, there is a balancing act that authors do when writing fiction. It’s called tension and that is what drives the work, you balance the information you give your readers very carefully. in dieting, you need to balance your caloric intake with what you spend. In the working life, some people take their work home, which encroaches on their family life. Work and play are equally important. Too much play and the work suffers. Too much work and the play suffers, causing work to suffer. Play rejuvenates us. People who don’t play enough tend to die young.

If you are working eight hours a week, you are not playing enough. The number of heart attacks and strokes would go down, if people would just lighten up and play a bit. Playing is good. There’s a reason “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” is considered a truism. It is true. Jack also runs the risk of health problem. Where’s the fun in that? nowhere, that’s where.

As far as dieting goes, too much activity is just as bad as not enough activity. Not enough activity can make you fat and prone to health issues. too much activity and you may not be able to get enough fuel to continue. Either way, you end up with health issues.

Writing is a sedentary occupation, so I have to balance it with some kind of activity like mowing the lawn, vacuuming, or just plain going for a walk. With my tablet, I can walk and write at the same time. I usually don’t, but I could. What I usually end up doing, is composing things in my head as I walk, then come back and write it down. The rough draft is mental, so to speak, because when I write it down, I inevitably change something. it works well enough. That’s the key. Find a way to combine your needs into one thing and you can do more with the time available. With writing and walking, you can do that, although you should also remain alert to what is going on around you.

Most of the time you can’t combine two activities like that. I might walk in the rain, but I wouldn’t take my tablet out in the rain. I suppose you could walk and eat at the same time, but, really, that is not recommended. I’m not entirely sure why that would be a problem, unless it could lead to issues with digestion.

So try to find a way to balance the various aspects of your life. Only you know what works for you. In the meantime, I’m still looking for what works for me.

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Posted in General Opinion

Marie Joseph BUTEAU

My fifth great grandmother was born on 24 June 1744. Her name was Marie Joseph BUTEAU. I am stunned to realize how little I know about her. I know her birth date, but I have no idea where she was born. I do know that she was the daughter of Pierre BUTEAU and Magdelene CHAVAUDIER, but that’s all I have on her until she married my fifth great grandfather, Michel CAMPAU. They were married in Detroit in what is now Michigan, USA, on 7 February 1739 or 1740. They had ten children, Jeanne, born in 1741; Michel, born in 1742/43; Marie Joseph, born in 1744/45; Pierre, born in 1746/47; Charles, born in 1749; Antoine Jacques, born in 1752; Therese, born in 1754; Marie Elizabeth, born in 1756; Francois Rene, born in 1761; and Marie Jeanne, born in 1764.

Obviously, I have a lot of work to do on Marie Joseph. The problem is that there is just so little available on line beyond the bare bones I’ve given above. That just means I have to roll up my sleeves and work with collections that others may have access to. I also should be looking outside the usual places to research. French Canada had a good system of law, nearly all activity that might possibly involve the law was documented by notaries. That’s the next place to look. You can learn a lot from the records of the notaries.

You can find marriage contracts for instance. The French were big on those. You can also find inventories of the dispersal of goods when a person dies. In French Canada, a woman was known legally by her maiden name, which is a boon to genealogists. It means that I can look for her in the notary records and likely find some trace of her. I may even learn when she died, if not precisely where.

My family history research is a work in progress. These profiles that I am writing are helping me to learn what I do know about a particular ancestor and what I still have to learn. I have a possible birth place for Marie Joseph. It’s Detroit, which was part of Quebec at the time of her birth. Where the records are depends on the time. I could look for her baptismal record in the records of Ste. Anne du Detroit, the second oldest parish in the United States. I could even find her burial record in the registers for that parish. I know where to locate those records, I just have to find the time to go to the Detroit Public Library (DPL) and search them.

I will have to plan a trip to the DPL. I will have to make a list of the people I want to find in that particular parish record, or in any church records in Detroit that the library holds. I may find some people I’ve been hunting for over a long period of time. Sometimes you just have to start again from scratch.

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Posted in Family History, Hobbies

You Can Fix a Lot in Revision

It’s true, you can fix a lot in revision. I am working on a case in point. I have a lot of work to do on the novel and I know that I need to fix several things before I can publish it. That’s why we call the rough draft rough. It gets the story down. Think of it as a piece of carved wood furniture. The initial cut of the carved portions are sharp and rough. It takes a lot of sanding to smooth the angles into graceful curves. That is what revising a rough draft is. It’s taking the parts that should be smooth and making them smooth. I’ve carved the story. Now I have to sand it into a smooth whole.

I started by reading the piece through and making notes on what I meant with each scene. I also made some decisions on placement. Then I got out my rough grit sandpaper because this first part is the rough sanding, where you decide whether you really need this scene or that one. Maybe the scene works better earlier or later in the story. you move whole blocks of text around. Then you move down to more fine grit sandpaper to some the roughness a bit more. That’s dealing with smaller blocks of text. Then you go to the finest grit possible, that’s when you begin working with sentences rather than blocks of text. In my current novel, I’m not to that point yet. I am still at the medium grit sandpaper stage. I’m sanding the roughness out of the plot, smoothing its lines refining twists and turns. That’s a long stage in this particular work. It’s moving, but slowly. Once I get this one done, I’ll be reading the work over and making notes. Then I will start the fine detailed sanding, the polishing stage.

That’s where you read each sentence and decide if it should be changed, moved, or left alone. If you’ve sanded it correctly in the earlier stages, you will have more that you simply leave alone. However, there will be places where you will change the sentence. Maybe you can make your meaning a little clearer, or you can increase tension by changing a word here or there. This is a painstaking process and you shouldn’t rush it.

Taking your time with the revision makes your work better. That’s not to say that you can’t overdo it. Humans can overdo anything if they set their minds to it. The same is true with the fine grit polishing of your piece. You have to go through it once, let someone else read it and tell you it looks good. If they are confused about something, go back and polish it, but don’t keep doing it forever. You’ll never publish your work if you do that. You need to choose a deadline and when that deadline arrives, assess your work. Do you feel it can go off into the world? Then let it go. You’ll be glad you did.

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Posted in Writing Techniques

Colonoscopies

A colonoscopy is not fun. I’m not one hundred percent sold on them being necessary, but I did it anyway. After all the doctors are the ones who went to school to learn about the human body. I don’t want to have colon cancer. That would suck. It could also be fatal. Fatal diseases are to be avoided, remember that. The procedure does not take that long. It only took around a half hour. I took the day off work because I knew I’d be worthless after all that. The preparation time for the procedure took a week.

My procedure was on a Friday. The Monday before, I had to stop my vitamins. That left me dragging and tired all the time, since I am also on a diet. Tuesday, I had to stop my healthy snacks of carrot chips, celery sticks, bananas, and apple slices. I don’t eat all that for one snack, but I have a variety. Wednesday, I suffered hunger pangs like you wouldn’t believe. Thursday, I ate Jell-o and chicken broth three times that day. The jello was lemon, I couldn’t have red jello because the die would interfere with the procedure. My goal there was not to have to go through this again. Then I drank thirty-two ounces of the laxative mixture in two hours, which was no big deal. I can drink thirty-two ounces of soda in an hour. I’m not that fond of sports drinks, but the mixture wasn’t that bad. It was a laxative, however, and I am not going into the next bit. I’ll leave that to your imaginations. I got up at three on Friday morning so that I could drink the rest of the laxative mixture, another thirty-two ounces in two hours. Then I was ready for my procedure.

I couldn’t have coffee after the laxative. That sucked. I need my coffee. That’s the thing, I didn’t get my full caffeine fix, but I focused on getting that after the procedure. My sister came and took me to the doctor’s office where they did the procedure. Then I was free of that dietary restriction and back to my regularly scheduled diet. Incidentally, I did show a nice weight loss that week. I had a smaller loss the next because I didn’t have that strict diet of clear liquids. I don’t know, maybe it would be good for me to do that once a month. It would clear me out and… I know, I wouldn’t put myself through that. I’m just glad it’s over. I don’t have to have another one for ten years.

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Posted in General Opinion
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