Fascinating: Aphantasia

A few weeks ago, MC came and started talking about this test. It kind of reminded me of the “what color is the dress” thing from a while back. The question was to picture a red star in our mind. Then he showed us a grid of options and we had to pick out the one we’d pictured. MC, Hubby and I were all doing this and BG was upstairs. The three of us all answered the same and with what seemed crazy obvious to us, a red 5 point typical star shape. Then MC went and asked his sister what she saw. I was absolutely stunned that she picked a blank, black square. I didn’t get it or understand it at all.

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One of Those Days

The picture here is of some flooding in the area and fits perfectly with how I feel today… overwhelmed with just too much!

I had a plan for today. I had a list of things I needed to do and was well on my way to getting them done. Mostly basic things like getting some cleaning done because MC is having his crew over for a gaming event/night. I also had an appointment to get a bid on one of two needed house repairs (that of course cannot be inexpensive ones). Then I get an email from the school.

Actually, Hubby called to ask about the email because he got it first. It was about getting MC’s senior pictures taken, but it was incredibly vague other than dates (tomorrow and Thursday) and a phone number. I was in the middle of cleaning and said I’d deal with it when I was done. Then MC is coming and saying that his friends are telling him those are the actual picture days. Mind you, this is the first and only senior picture communication we have gotten from the school.

I finish what I’m doing and call the number. Sure enough, some brain trust set up automated appointments (meaning they set them up for you and you are just supposed to show up) for all yearbook photos in the middle of summer and don’t bother to let anyone know until the day before you are required to show (two if you are lucky). This isn’t in any newsletter or email from the district. It isn’t on their website or calendar (I looked), it doesn’t exist outside of this one email. I did get them to say they would be at the school again in August where students would have to leave during class or lunch and get their photos taken then, but… missing class, having to wear the photo getup to school and keep it looking decent until photo time, not a great option.

Since MC is so not a dress up kinda kid, that meant a rush shopping job so that he actually has something to wear. Did I mention that there was zero information included in that lovely email? As in, not one word about dress code? When OC went through this a few years ago (same district, same school), there were some very specific rules on what could and could not be worn for these photos. Granted, those rules really do not fit with kids these days and, from the pictures in last year’s year book, they have not been enforcing those rules, but I had no clue what to get. I cannot imagine MC in a suit and tie or even just a shirt and tie. He couldn’t either, so we just decided to go with it and he found a nice polo, which is still dressier than some in the year book. I can only hope this does not cause problems.

I also have to get his hair trimmed up tonight since his friends will be here tomorrow and overnight. And I still have a couple things I need to do to get ready for that crew. We kind of lucked out on this for a couple of reasons. 1) We are here and can actually make his scheduled appointment. I feel bad for those families that are gone on vacation right now or those that have to work and can’t get off because they have no options other than the August date. 2) These are only for the yearbook photos. You can work with them to set up a time for a longer, more personalized session, but MC decided months ago that he wants me to do his senior portraits for him (not that I’m thrilled with that as I don’t do photos of people well, but… I’m gonna give it my best), so we only have to worry about the yearbook photos.

What is really stupid about this whole mess is the utter lack of communication or any kind of standard process. The district has been using the same photography group for years, so why in the hell have you not established a regular, workable plan and stick with it? The kids told me they did it entirely different last year, which was different from when OC did his. I get it. Most families around here go with their own photographers for senior sessions (if they do them at all) and only use the school photographer for the yearbook photo, but you can still not make it into this convoluted mess to get those done.

Planning

This is an older image taken on a previous trip, but it feels fitting as it was probably one of the best family vacations we’ve ever taken. We are deep into the planning stages of our summer vacation. We still have to make a couple of decisions before we can actually book anything, but we are miles closer now than we were even a week ago. I also went out and, FINALLY, got myself a good pair of hiking boots, so now I’m more than ready.

One of my goals for any trip we take is to at least have a couple of amazing photo opportunities. The other is to get at least a snippet of time to spend with my amazing cousin. Everything else will just be icing on the vacation cake. We can’t do a very long trip this year, just a few days or so, because there are so many other things going on, but I’m determined to make the most of those few days.

Fingers and toes are crossed that nothing new pops up between now and then, but… that kind of isn’t how my household and life tend to work.

Moment of Gratitude

I had this moment of realization yesterday when I was contemplating writing my review for my first ever ARC. I am kind of living in this moment of fantasy right now. I am at a place in my life I never dreamed I’d be outside of those “Wouldn’t it be nice?” kinds of thoughts. Yet, here I am. And I am astoundingly grateful for it.

I have now gotten a second ARC approval and it is another book on my list of “I’d LOVE to get, but probably never will.” This was part of that moment of realization. Yes, it is only two books, but… I am now getting books for the express purpose of reviewing them before most people get their hands on them. That is an amazing thing to me.

I have also actually done something I never thought I’d EVER do: I wrote and published my own book. And it is selling. It is making the kind of impact with readers that I’d hoped for. It may still be very much on the tiny scale of things, but it is on the scale. This is also stunning to me.

As a person that has spent the bulk of their adult life focused on being Mom and struggling for years with who I am outside of that role, these things are massive for me. I am in awe that these are now facts in my life, that they are a tangible part of that life. It is though I can feel how these seemingly small things are cementing their place in who I am.

There have been so many things over time and throughout my life that have been damaging and hurtful. Because of that, I have actively spent the last several years trying to find the positive things, the things that bring me joy and most days, I’m good at finding those things. Photography has been a huge part of that for me. So have my kids and my Hubby. But these things? They feel different. They feel healing in a very different way. They make me feel a little bit more solid in who I am.

And I am massively grateful.

Fangirl Moment of SQUEEE!!!

HOLY CRAP!! I’m kinda freaking out at the moment. I’ve JUST started requesting ARCs via NetGalley, not really expecting to actually get approved. I’ve even gotten a rejection, so it kind of confirmed for me that I probably wasn’t quite in the position that publishers are looking for when it comes to handing out ARC copies for reviews and that I needed to do some more work towards getting there. Apparently…

Not only did I get an ARC book, but I got one that I never in a million years expected to get approved for but thought, “What the hell! Can’t hurt to ask!” and requested it anyway. It is my first ever ARC and I’m over the moon giddy over it and what book it is.

Now, I’m not 100% certain on ARC etiquette and how to handle this awesomeness. Do I get to scream about the fact I got an ARC and the book it is? I know about the writing a review piece, that should be the easy part, but there are more things I think that I don’t really know and now I need to dig in and do a bit more research so I don’t goof and this ends up being the only one I get.

If you are an ARC reviewer, please feel free to chime in and give a newbie some much needed advice! Now I’m going to go try to bust my family’s ear drums with some more screeching and freaking, then I’m going to calm down and get to reading.

Stop And Smell The Roses

I had fully intended to post a book review after I finished painting today, but I’m done in. I am so not nearly as young or as in shape as I used to be and all that climbing and crawling and pretzel twisting kicked my old ass. I’m just gonna give you some flowers instead then find the least movement inducing thing I can until tomorrow.

The bathroom looks killer, by the way. I wasn’t sure how good it would be with her already rather vibrant room, but it actually works. Besides, she loves it, so that is all that really matters.

Painting Day

I’m finally getting around to doing something I promised BG a year ago or more. Painting her bathroom. I am so not looking forward to it because it is a small space with not a whole lot of solid wall. That means there is going to be a crap ton of up and down on the step ladder, crawling around on the floor, hugging a toilet and basically bending myself into a pretzel to get it done because it is almost all edges, hence the nearly a year to get around to doing what I said I would.

Hopefully I wont kill myself in the process and can actually get to writing that book review I need to do. So far, this summer has been a series of stuff to do and interruptions and sickies and weird, random allergy outbreaks on both BG’s part and mine. I am ready for things to get to some semblance of a normal summer routine, but I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen this year.

Original for the above manipulated image:

Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms

Review Rating Thoughts: Adjustments

After spending some time with this and tossing around ideas, I think I may have come up with something that works for me on my new rating process.

My biggest issue with the way I had set up the new system was the equal weighting across all areas of evaluation. That just doesn’t work for me because not all of those areas are important to all books. I do think that there are a few that are critical, no matter the book.

At the same time, I really liked how that specific breakdown helped me to look at the book from a more structured place rather than strictly opinion and emotional reaction. I liked how it helped me to put some of my thoughts into words.

From those two perspectives, I think what I’m going to try out is narrowing down which areas I feel are critical, at least for me as a reader, to all books and use only those as the basis for my SPA. For now, I am going to try to keep it to just Characters, Believably, and Personal Opinion. I want to keep the other areas for evaluation purposes. If one in particular, say my peeves, plays heavily into my reaction to a particular book, I will include that in the SPA as well.

All the others, I will still give star ratings to, but they will not impact that overall average. I can really love or hate a cover of a book and not have it  impact my enjoyment of the book, but I love book covers and rarely ever find a way to talk about them. The same could be said for any of the other areas, that there was something I want to point out, but it may not play a role in what I thought about the book.

There is a chance I’ll leave a section out of a review because it just doesn’t apply. I might even modify or remove a section or two because there seems to be so much overlap at times. When you are talking about characters and believability and your opinion on a book, you are invariably also talking about plot. That is the big area I’m not entirely sure what I know what to do with, which is kind of crazy because plot is a huge part of every single book.

Whatever I decide, I’m going to need to play with how I lay it all out to make it clear which areas are being included in the SPA and which are not. I am also going to use the write up in the Personal Opinion portion of the review as kind of the full overview as that seems to work best for then being able to transfer my review to Goodreads or Amazon.

I’m sure it will take a time or two running through to see what kinds of issues I may have or what I’ll still need to tweak, but this gives me a starting point for what I feel I want to change. My hope is that these changes will still give a more merit based opinion, but still feel like the rating range I would have been giving books before this revamp.

Now I just need some time to finish a book without having a dozen things interrupt me or distract me.

New Pretties!

I wanted more variety in my plants and flowers so I have more options for pictures. I also have an area we are working on trying to fill, but it stays super wet all the time and our options are really limited. I only managed to find some hostas I wanted and none of the other plants I was looking for, probably because we aren’t in the right season for some of them. I did find this pretty flower that I plan on putting in one of my beds. I’ve seen purple balloon flowers before, but never a pink one, so I was really excited about this. Sadly, this means I have to actually get out in the yard and dig. At least I’ll get some pretty out of it.

Sorry! You Went to Spam!

For any of you that have commented recently, but didn’t ever see your comment show or hear back from me… I am SO SORRY! WP apparently decided that some of you were spam and dropped your comment in my spam folder. I do check that semi-regularly, so I caught them, but it took a bit. I’ve approved and responded to the ones I found. If I missed you, please send me a message or try commenting again. Sometimes technology sucks!

New Rating System Thoughts

Having done a couple of reviews under my new system, I’ve seen a few issues with it that have bothered me and I need to figure out a way to tweak it to work better. I do think it does what I intended in the sense that the final rating is more than just a blanket, subjective opinion. It is a result of a more thought out analysis based on what I consider important in a book. At the same time, I feel like any book I attempt to rate under this system is going to hit an SPA of 3 or very close. That kind of defeats the purpose. At least from one side.

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Summer Break and Plans

It is officially summer break for my kids and I have zero actual plans. We aren’t a “book every moment of summer” kind of family. My kids like to chill, hang out in their spaces playing games or listening to music, so it isn’t exactly a really busy time for us. That said, BG has gotten way more social over the last year and I have a feeling that is going to extend into summer. She is also talking about doing at least the summer dance workshop at her studio because she is interested in becoming an assistant next year. That is all still open and not decided just yet.

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One of Those Days… Updated*

Today is trying really hard to be a grumpy day. I feel like that has been me a lot lately, which is frustrating because I try really hard not to be so negative. I can see the positives in today in that even though we are soggy as all hell and you can’t walk in the yard without sinking a couple of inches into what is beginning to look more like a swamp, we are safe, our house is whole, and we didn’t get a flooded basement like I suspect some of our lower lying neighbors did. Some people not that far from me cannot say the same this morning and what is making me grumpy is petty whining in comparison.

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Quality of Work?

This is a subject that has been rolling around in my head for a while now and I’ve gone back and forth debating with myself over whether I wanted to post about it or not. Are we diluting the quality of our literature with the advent of self-publishing? Yes, I’m actually asking that as a self-published, indie author.

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Drenched

It has been raining and storming for nearly 24 hours almost non-stop (still a few hours shy of that, but it’s close and we aren’t anywhere near done yet). Normally, that isn’t that big of a deal but that rain has been coming down in buckets that entire time. Oh, and the storming part. Yeah, that part was super fun to try and sleep through. I couldn’t decide which was worse. The wind sounding like it was going to blow the roof off or the massive claps of thunder that shook the foundation for extended periods of time feeling more like an earthquake than thunder. And it is COLD! I actually had to turn the heat back on. I don’t think I’ve ever done that this late in May.

Between the lack of sleep last night and the night before (thank you lack of grace for giving me achy muscles and a banged up elbow!), I’m struggling to not be grumpy. I can say the positive in all of this is that, fingers and toes crossed, we haven’t seen any leaks. I’m kind of shocked by that. I don’t think that we’ve had a crazy heavy rain like this in the 15 years we’ve been in this house that didn’t give us at least a small leak somewhere. Today, I’m taking the positive where I can and running with it.

Now if I could just find a book to read…

Recital Aftermath

That is one more dance recital in the memory books. As always, I’m left with this lovely mix of feeling glad the chaos is over for a year and sad to see one more year gone. The end of recital night seems to come with lots of talk about plans for next dance season and tons of high energy from all the adrenaline and tears from the older girls that this was their last. This recital drove home for me that BG only has 3 left if she continues to dance through senior year as she plans. In 3 years, she will be one of those girls.

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Recital Bouquets – 2019!

I got them finished and they turned out really pretty. I had done the ribbon inserts last night, so all I had to do today was put them together. There are small things I’m not thrilled with, but I was sort of limited by what I was able to get. Working with the large ball hydrangea blooms also limited my options. Considering BG wanted the two different colors… well, it was an interesting challenge.

When we were looking at the flowers last night, I was really frustrated with the quality of my choices. I finally found the colors I wanted, but the one collection (the peachy hydrangea and the purple/white daisy), there were only two bunches and both had issues. In one, the daisies were perfect, but the hydrangea was a little… anemic looking. The other bunch was kind of the opposite. And… I needed to make two because I was making one for BG’s dance friend. I was really worried I wouldn’t be able to get two really nice ones out of what I got. Thankfully, the blue hydrangeas were sold individually and I had several to choose from, so that helped. So did the fact that everything filled out overnight after I got them out of their packaging and in water.

And yes, I did say the costumes were all various shades of blue, but two of those blues leaned towards the purple end, so that helped. It isn’t a perfect match, but I knew that wasn’t going to happen with these colors anyway and why I always do the ribbon inserts. I think I did okay.

2019 Recital Costumes
2019 Recital Costumes

Now I’m going to chill out until the kids get home and the whirlwind of getting everything packed up, hair and makeup done, then the race to get dinner eaten and us all out the door without losing my mind kicks in. And all of that is just the trial run because we have to do it all over again tomorrow for the recital.

Showtime!

Well, it’s almost showtime. I have to do recital bouquets first, which is what is on my to do list for the day. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a hard time finding flowers for a project. Granted, trying to create a bouquet that reflects this year’s costumes when the costumes all are some form of blue isn’t exactly the easiest thing in the world. I went to 3 different places last night before I found flowers that would work and that satisfied BG as I let her pick them out.

Now, to see if I can pull off arranging them in a way that doesn’t make it look like a disjointed mess. You’d think that after all the inspiration the pointe costume gave me this year, that it would be easy. Apparently trying to add in the others is blowing that creative streak.

Sounds of Nature

This image is an old one, but it fits perfectly.

Something we had in all the years before they developed and built behind us was this amazing symphony of sound at night in the spring and summer when the windows were open. There were several little gullies or ditches that frogs liked to gather in and you could hear dozens of them every single night. All of them sounding as if they were hanging out just outside the window, and sometimes actually were as those little suckers love to climb on the house. Besides the frogs you’d get the crickets and the cicadas and all the other nocturnal noisemakers.  Continue reading “Sounds of Nature”