crane

Spring Cleaning

Been crazy busy for the last two weeks: finishing the second to last edit pass for Hearts Under Fire before handing it off to the editor to look over for a July release, dealing with the garden, helping Jet with Odyssey of the Mind and his science project, working out a trip to Florida for a friend, managing my eye, dealing with the anniversary of the death of Tasha, drinking a box of PG Tips teabags to figure out several puzzles, and working out what has to happen for the Biloxy trip we're leaving on in two weeks.

Trying to paint, get some Winter War done and dreaming about Twin Souls, and then John decided he was tired of how many of our books are doubled up in our library.



Upended Library
This is John in the midst of the chaos, which actually involved three different rooms in the house, four desks, half a dozen seven foot bookshelves, my entire workstation, John's workstation, and possibilities for another craft workstation setup.

It started, I thought, with the fact that we had four sets bookshelves (two six footers and two seven footers) in our library, one set in the closet of our upstairs office, and far too many of my art books upstairs for the places there were to store them. My painting paper rolls were taking up the shelves I had and they were stacked up only two high or else they'd get deformed. John wanted to add two more sets of bookshelves to the library, and when he went to buy one he found a used desk that was big enough for him as well. It had a power strip, plenty of space to spread out financial forms, and lots more drawers.

Two of the desks in the office were pulled out to make room for the newer desk. One was just a computer hutch, the other a two-tiered desk that could be used for crafts and/or Jet's homework. The hutch found a new home in another person's house, via Craig's List, and two-tiered craft desk is now in the play area.

The new desk allowed old drawers to be emptied, and one of them was big enough for my paper rolls, so in they went, and all my books got put on the shelves. One of the shorter sets of shelves from downstairs went upstairs to boot, so everything in the closet came out into the light as well. John bought another seven footer for the library, so with four seven-footers (which were also 48 inches wide, not just 36), we had a lot more room in the library itself. One whole seven-footer went where my desk used to be, and we've filled it completely with all my notebooks and sketchbooks; manga; writing books; books on Chinese poetry, novels, and translation; and the books I'm reading right now. The rest went up against a wall, and got filled with what else was in the library.

Last week we also went through all eight big boxes of comic books I collected for over fifteen years, and we sorted through all of them so that Jet could read some of them, we'd know wahtI had, and what was a complete collection and what wasn't. Jet's decided he wants some of them, and is reading Usagi Yojimbo and The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was odd to see all of The Watchmen, the first few years of Sandman, and all of Grendel in plastic jackets. We may take it all to Mile High Comics and see what they actually want of it all, but maybe we'll wait another decade and Jet can see what he wants then and what he really wants to sell.

John also went through all our VHS tapes, getting rid of nearly everything, and we reorganized all our DVDs as well. All the video games were put on shelves and the big chest they were in now resides as an end table to my new workstation, which is setup in front of the window instead of to the side. With just a bit more wall space by my new bookshelves, we put up a cork board, where I can put up all my notes, cards, and other things as well.

Whew.

John did a lot of this on St. Patrick's Day, and Allie and I finished the last of the editing on Wednesday and went until nearly 2 am on my end. I was up at 7 on that day, to make corned beef hash and eggs for John and I, from the corned beef I'd managed to make the day before. It was really good, and with a whole pot of coffee, Allie and I got the art request together for the novel and sent it off.

Lake Macintosh. The water level was very high tody and it was warm and windy ou
I was just up for the day, and I helped John with some of the moving about, rearranging, and planning. It was like one huge puzzle. *laughs* After lunch the two of us walked Lake Macintosh. It's about three miles, with a lovely view of the mountains, the lake, and the houses about there. Half of it is paved, the other half is dirt, and all of it is very well maintained. The water was very high today and the air actually smelled of water. That is unusual for here, but beautiful. After editing for a week, it was nice to get out into the fresh air and just walk and talk with John for a good long while, too.

Getting home, I made myself a pot of tea. Ever since grey_lady visited, I've been drinking British tea every afternoon, after my coffee. Between incandescens's good graces and a few visits to the British Pantry in Seattle, I have a rather extensive selection of British breakfast teas, PG Tips, Tetley (from the UK which is fresher than anything in the US), Typhoo, Yorkshire Gold, and Yorkshire Red (or just the regular stuff). British tea isn't anything like the rare Chinese teas that I often drink: Silver Needle, various Pu-erhs, half a dozen oolongs of various oxidation levels including Monkey Picked TieQuanYin, or any of the Iron Goddess of Mercy's, Dragon Well, or Jasmine Pearls. It's all fannings, all black teas, and all fairly close together on a taste spectrum, and all a bit better with some lemon or with milk and/or sugar. It's just a comfort thing when hot, and I love brewing it in a pot.

It's been cool being able to compare and contrast them all and realize it isn't really a matter of specific flavors or characteristics, but of memories and desires. I'm realizing that I like the Yorkshire Red much better than the Gold, that Tetley reminds me of all the trips John and I made to England and Scotland as that was what was in most of the Bed and Breakfasts, and that I like Typhoo, loose, better than all of them. I have a mixed attitude toward PG Tips, as I know they're supposed to be what real British people drink, but I far prefer Yorkshire Red, Tetley, and Typhoo to them.

The funny thing is that I bought a box of PG Tips tea bags in Seattle, and have been drinking them as I do a "no action" meditation on an emotional matter. I figured if I get through all 40 bags while pondering I'll probably get to a far more proper action than if I'd jumped in when I was angry, hurt, or reactionary. It's fun to actually meditate on things, especially once I was given the key of "meditation is so you can get all your thoughts and everyday things out of the way so you can figure out what you really do feel and think." An I Ching I threw (using the three coins, not the yarrow sticks) included the advice "Meditation is the key to a complex problem." And it's been good to realize that the advice was good.

And it got me to realize that yeah, it's been a year since Tasha died, and I've done a lot since then and have changed a great deal. Realized one of the things that she really gave me was making Ezra the leader, in many ways, of Kalin's Pack, that she let me lead in ways I might have needed then, even though she was the more experienced of the two of us. Just as Ezra was the younger of the two of them, his needs and hurts were what Kalin addressed first.

I might just write something of the two of them to help me deal with it all. Plus, I do have to setup all the things I need to do in order to do a sky dive in her memory and honor.

I spent the evening and late afternoon, between helping Jet with homework, doing one last reading pass on the manuscript. Dinner with the boys was pretty good that night, and then Allie and I sent off the manuscript, talked about all kinds of things, and she was actually the only one to remind me on St. Patrick's Day that it was the anniversary of Tasha's death. She did it in a way, though that I'm very grateful for... saying that finishing a novel and getting it to the publisher was a great way to celebrate the date.

She was right.

Jet's Odyessy of the Mind
Jet spent the last three or four months meeting up with his team for Odyssey of the Mind, I guess after my stories about being a judge the previous year, he decided he wanted to participate this year. They wrote their own script, did their own Rube Goldberg Machine, and put together all their props in the weekly meetings. It was a lot of work, and it really showed during their little performance. All of them were really clear with their lines, and it was fun to go to the school where they were competing and just watch.

With the writing I didn't volunteer this year. I don't think I regret that at all. *laughs* But it was interesting to see the week by week progress, and drive Jet to a lot of the meetings and have the evenings open.

They got fourth place in their problem in their division, which means that they're going to the State competitions. That should prove interesting, and it's up in Loveland, during the time John and I are going to be in Biloxi, so John's parents will take Jet to the competition. That should prove to be a lot of fun for them, I hope.

CSAPs were this last week, too, so Jet got through all the standardized testing, and, today, came down with a fever that had him complaining of headaches when we went to Empty Bowls for lunch. My bowl, this year, didn't make it into the auction, but I was almost relieved as it wasn't that good, though other years, bowls I had just done for the laughs of it had made it in. So it wasn't really a question of merit or not, just a question of what caught the judges eyes, and what packages they had for sale, as most of the bowls now come with other donated art, packages of stuff, or things like "Beer for a Year" deals. It's a way the OUR center can make more money, which is what it's all really about... lol Or I'm just rationalizing away my mild disappointment, and I want to do better next year.

I'm also starting a different style of painting, lately. It's the fine line or gong-bi style of painting, with lots of fine line work to outline the detailing of the painting and then layering on colors, shading, and detail work on top of sized paper. I'm using one of the lessons from Oriental Art Supply for their plum blossoms painting and it's coming out beautifully. It's almost the exact opposite of the "do it all in fifteen minutes" method I've done up to this point, but it's kind of soothing in its waves of small work. There have already been seven layers of shading, and there will be three more, and each of them has to dry before the next can be applied; but I'm already thinking about how it could be used for something like pine trees or outlined chrysanthemums or peonies, which would be much better done like this.

I should have pictures next week. I hope. *laughs*
Tea is one of my great pleasures in life - British tea and American tea and Canadian tea and not-actually-tea (herbal blends, I know enough Brits to not dare call it tea).

I actually have a small packet of Iron Goddess of Mercy which I bought for the name alone, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet - I'm horribly lazy and usually make pre-bagged tea rather than the loose ones I have (that, some apricot-peach black tea, and Clipper's Alice blend)
Mmmm... yeah... it's good to have small pleasures.

I love Iron Goddess of Mercy, it's one of those lovely, burgundy-like oolongs, winey and rich and lovely for multiple steeps in Yixing teaware. *laughs* I used to be able to do Chinese old man tea service at the drop of a hat, and now I actually have to measure and time things with a timer rather than with my breaths...

I am very impressed by all the work. (And do let me know if you want more tea, and what sort! Your supplier is always ready. :))
Whee... I shall be very happy to. *grins*

I think you might like how the painting turned out as well. Tell me if you like it and I'll happily send it along after I've backed it...
*goes wow atcha* Busy!

I want to get our basement done enough to reorganize the library around... *sigh*
Very! It's good to have the time and room to do it all in. Whew... and amazing what it does to book accessibility when they're not ALL doubled-up.