The Tax Man Cometh …

OH … GROAN. THIS IS THE TIME of the year I dread. Every. Single. Year. I’m not exactly aces where numbers are concerned … and the older I get—on top of the math inadequacies—the less organized I seem to become. I promise myself I’ll do better. Every. Single. Year.

Yup.

At least, this year, I’m getting things together sooner—I should have it all gathered together and “handled” before the end of the month—I’m hoping, at least … or at the latest, by mid-March. Haven’t managed that in quite a few years. Matter of fact, I’ve had to do extensions the last two years due to serious cases of procrastination.

Baaad girl!

I need this done so I can get back to working on my book(s) … so Mischiefmaker can be neatly tied in a bow and out of my hands before I step onto the plane to visit the UK (including Scotland and Wales). Plus I must focus on the artwork for the book … and continue my work on book five. (There’s some serious stuff building up in my story, ready to happen—hopefully you will think it’s as amazing as I do—and I really need to carve out some large chunks of time to get it right …) That’s pretty good incentive, don’t you think? I know my trip abroad will really help my imagination gel ideas for book five (no official title as yet, but—hmm … I think Redemption sounds about right). I am getting excited … and I have no clue what’s about to happen (oh … if you didn’t already know, I do not outline my stories—it’s a seat-of-the-pants experience, all the way—insert maniacal grin here)!

I must confess: the release of my book has been pushed back till this fall, but I’m okay with that. I want to make it the very best—no throwing things together for my readers. Never! Need to keep it cohesive … and on the right path. I still don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as a finish-line for the series. My characters are keeping mum about that. I’m okay with that too. It will happen when it’s “right” … right?

In the meantime, I have to get my mind completely wrapped around numbers and organization of receipts … I’ve already found myself avoiding the pile by doing other things—including this blog. These are all things that “need doing” but, really. The priority is (shudder) tax prep. I’ll attempt to make this short and … well, maybe not so sweet a blog (ooh—I could digress to something else by the end of the week because it is only Saturday … insert huge grin here …). Um … I’ll just have to play this one by ear.

Ooh, gotta laugh, because almost as soon as I wrote the above, my allergies decided to kick in. Not too bad at first, but by Monday … ugh. A full-blown sinus infection was on it’s way to rear it’s ugly head. I did manage to make it into Open Ground Studios for a bit, but … have not laid one finger—or eye—on my pile of receipts … except to add to it. Found two more piles: stuff from the early part of 2015 and some 1099s, which Kaeli (my sweet ol’ dog) proceeded to nibble on. Heart failure, for sure! Thankfully, the important bits are still intact.

It’s now Thursday and I’m finally feeling a little better, so I’ll be upstairs finishing up the sorting, then start (maybe) the number crunching. Yes, this is the part (well, one of them) that I hate. I have to add stuff with a calculator (with tape) two or three times and hope the results are the same. This is where dyslexia is not my friend (transposing numbers from what I see to what I enter … groan). Yup. Real fun.

Whilst I was wallowing in pity over feeling so lousy, I managed to cheer myself up by starting to peruse the possibilities of when and where I will visit once across The Pond. My head was too fuzzy to work on numbers, but not to surf the web for things to do (checking prices) and locations to stay. That cheered me up immediately. Now I’m chomping at the bit to finalize my itinerary … but, that’s another blog, entirely!

So … yeah. Short and (hmmm) sweet? It’s my life and I’ve gotta live it—I’ll take the bad with the good.

…So onward.

May your day … and the week ahead be blessed with sweet circumstances.

Distractions …

I SHOULD BE WORKING ON THE FINISHING touches of my next book, but I’ve just discovered a new camera app that has be quite distracted. Camera + is the name and it’s for the iPhone 5 on up. I’ve only just begun playing and am thrilled with it.

Becoming distracted is very easy for me … and gets me into trouble all the time. At least I stay focused whilst in the car, driving down the road … well, my daughter may feel that’s a bit overstated as a fact. That’s only because we get to talking (some wonderfully deep conversations at times)—so 99.9% of the time, I’m on the road in the car all by myself and perfectly safe to be around.

Back to the camera and photography. Or, was it distractions …

Yeah, about that. I’m feeling terribly goofy right now, so maybe I should go get distracted by something else for a bit. Gee … and I haven’t even had any wine

Port Wine and a Distraction

Mulling over quotes for next year’s Dr. Who con ribbons.

(wink)—oooh! There’s a good distraction. I’ll be back—later. There’s some port with my name on it …

Now that I’m a bit more sensible (it’s only Monday), I still find myself being distracted. Deliberately. There’s book four pulling at my thoughts, this blog … and a myriad of chores around the house and yard harping at me, begging to be worked on. So, I chose to flit between several of them to keep me “fresh”. Especially the writing items. I can easily shove off the house and yard work (except, the laundry really does need to get done if I want clothes for tomorrow—giggle). I’m finding it easy to bounce from one writing task to another, keeping me engaged. When my mind struggles for an idea, then I step outside with my iPhone—with it’s newly acquired app and search for a worthy subject. Sometimes

Nasturtium in the Yard

A delightful twist of colour from the normal red-orange. And the new macro app on my iPhone makes up close a delight.

Freshly Emerging Mushroon

I’m loving the macro capabilities of the iPhone app, allowing me to easily capture the gills of the mushroom.

I’m successful, sometimes not. But the process sharpens my mind and I’m ready to write again.

My cat is another distraction. Sebastian can be quite entertaining. He is equal to—or better than any TV show, that’s for sure! Demanding at times, too. When he wants your attention, he will get it, one way or another. I’ve had my back to him when he’s wanted attention. He decided to be my “cat shawl” … jumping on to my shoulders and lounging around as I went around doing what needed to be done—or like this morning: I was trying to “sleep in” (after having let Kaeli out, dishing out her morning meal) when he started making all kinds of racket. Playing with the blinds, tearing from

Sebastian ... Up Close

Though he’s not amused by my attempts to catch him taking a cat-nap on my chest, I love that I’m able to do so with the new macro app.

one high spot to another—quite noisily (he can be the stealthy ninja type when he wants), and kneading something that sounded expensive—which was what finally got me out of bed … very quickly. Turned out to be the lovely ancient handed-down-to-me wool blanket. Glad I caught him. He obviously wanted something. I decided to check on his food dish. Yup. Empty.

So much for lazing about after that. I did manage to muck about most of the morning, not getting much done, other than surf through Facebook posts of friends, reposting the appropriate ones, commenting on others … Facebook in an excellent (if you can label it as such), time-sucking sponge. Facebook does have it’s good points, but I’m presently at a loss to list anything beyond keeping in touch with friends and associates.

Are distractions a nice way to say procrastination? Maybe. Well … most likely. And, of course, I am quite good at procrastination, aren’t I (insert grin)? Is that something I should be proud of? Hmmm. Ooops—probably not … or at least shouldn’t be.

Well, procrastination or distraction, I do it not (grin)—at least not presently (it’s still only Monday). I finished the final edit on book three and will give myself a days rest (Tuesday’s a busy day, anyway), then start with the gathering of promotional blurb/bio, etc on Wednesday to submit to my publisher. Then I’ll come back to this, add more thoughts, then polish it up and add a few photos and have it ready for Friday. I love my life … as crazy as it is.

Wednesday found me almost as busy as Tuesday. I was definitely busy gathering

My Ducks in a Row

Compiling all of the things needed before I submit to my publisher … time consuming!

and honing the blurbs to be submitted, searching for other items in vain, so I did not get everything completed as planned. Distractions abound—and I grabbed every opportunity to indulge, simply so I could take breaks from the frustration. More photography, a few errands and more snapping photos—and with one of those errands, I garnered yet another temptation to dangle in front of me to

Sherlock Holmes Stories

A trio of non-Conan Doyle stories of the famous Sherlock Holmes, by Hugh Ashton. I’m looking forward to delving into these new mysteries. But, it must wait. Perhaps as a reward, after I send off all my materials to my publisher…

distract me from work: a newly purchased book.

It will have to wait in the queue with my others since I am determined to get all required bits and pieces off to the publisher as quickly as possible. My readers are waiting after all. When I come down “to the wire”—sometimes, it takes that extra “push”—all distractions and procrastinations are put aside so that I can finish my tasks on time. Most of the time I am successful (every once in a while, I’m not). I try to stay focused on the successes and move forward.

Through the ups and downs, mires of procrastination and distractions, I persevere—and succeed. With these last few lines, the blog is done; later today (or Saturday at the latest) I should have all the information together for the publisher … and tonight I will enjoy celebrating a two year birthday for Open Ground Studios. There will be an artist opening, music, food and socializing. A grand time to celebrate.

May your Friday—and weekend—unfold into a blessed time with family and friends.

 

 

Taxes and Death

“IN THIS WORLD NOTHING CAN be said to be certain, except death and taxes” was written by Benjamin Franklin in 1789. And before that, in 1726, Daniel Defoe wrote “Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d”.

I actually think I like Defoe’s version better. It takes a much broader view of life, using death and taxes as the balancing mechanism. Franklin twisted the phrase to state that death and taxes are the only things that are certain.

These two things, basically “carved in stone” must be dealt with—in the case of taxes, with every purchase Uncle Sam takes his share and more precisely every year we must make an accounting—to pay even more or be given back what is rightfully ours. That’s what I’m dealing with right now. Taxes. Shudder. The clock is ticking and here I am writing a blog instead of working on my yet-to-be-complete tax return. Um, can we say “Procrastinator”? Yup (I’ve written about this before—insert grin). I’ve heard another word for it: Parkinson’s Law. It’s the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. April 15th isn’t here yet, so …

Well, maybe it’s not quite accurate for my “problem”. I’d rather be doing anything else rather than sifting through all of my receipts, crunching numbers (I am dyslexic and numbers are not my thing—at all!) … I can honestly say that I hate this time of year. Really hate it. Can’t I just wave a wand and have some magical fairy come in and do the sorting and posting for me? There must be one of those floating around, eager to do my bidding, right?

Every year at this time, I promise myself I’ll be more organized so it won’t be such a painful task. But I’m already a quarter into the year and look back at the pile of receipts I’d have to organize and shrug it off … “later”. And later never happens. Another year passes and I’m back to that same spot, promising myself next year will be different. Well, maybe.

So, I’ve procrastinated long enough. My accountant is waiting patiently for my pile of numbers and receipts, and the sand in the hour-glass is nearly gone, so I guess … I must move to the analytical side of my head (oh, so small … kinda cramped in here!) and get the task done.

I certainly hope you are doing better at this than I am. And for those of you just beginning to take on this daunting annual task—be smart. Keep good records, file early and stress less.

May your April 15th be sweet.

 

Good Intentions and Detours

A WRITER FRIEND OF MINE POSTED on FB recently—something about procrastination—that she normally doesn’t and cannot understand the reasons for those that do.

As a confirmed procrastinator, I—perhaps too proudly—responded with my affirmation and preceded to explain why it happens with me.

And that got me to thinking—always…I repeat, always a dangerous thing 😉

My life is filled. Filled with lists of things to do, places to go, things to see, people to talk with, books to read (not necessarily in that order) … so much stuff. My intention is to get it all done. But, I find it seldom works out the way I plan. Life happens. Maybe, for lack of a better word, doldrums sets in, or pain happens or things explode (figuratively, of course) from out of nowhere. Or, I simply get lazy. Yes, I said lazy.

Hmmph. Not being accountable to anyone but God can and does make me lazy sometimes. It shouldn’t, but it does. Free will can definitely have it’s bad side. I can see Him staring down at me, slowly shaking his head when I choose to chill rather than be doing something—anything—on that long list of mine. My excuse—and yes, it is an excuse (even if it is legitimate)—is my pain. And/or fatigue. Once upon a time I’d just “do it” anyway. The heck with it—”…till you drop” is the way I used to go. But the level of pain and fatigue I’m willing to live with is beginning to be my decision maker. The big question is, should it be??

So, with these ideas fresh in my mind, I set out to knock out one or two of my “to do” items on my ever-growing list. Mind you, I was not looking at priorities, because if that was the case, I’d be working inside on my taxes. I wanted to be outside. It was beautiful. Not too hot, not too cold. “Just right”, as Goldilocks would say.

At first, my body resisted the idea of getting outside to weed. I couldn’t find the hula-hoe (this is an amazing little device—every gardener should have one!) … had to do some serious searching and wondered if it was worth it. Yes. But, I think I unconsciously chose the closest thing that needed weeding—just to get it done. It also happened to be one of the hardest bits of dirt around the yard. Filled with base rock (can you say cement??) I’m laughing now, but at the time … oh, the moaning and groaning (insert huge sweaty grin). It didn’t take too long—perhaps ten to fifteen minutes—of hard labor. It was just a tiny patch, under the eaves along the kitchen wall. Maybe a foot wide and twenty feet long. I drug myself back into the house to have a drink of tea and rested. Serious rest. Complaining all the while to myself at how out of shape I was. Panting, shaking from such little work. Honestly …

But, once I was feeling better, I cautiously went back out and looked at what I’d accomplished. Not bad. I felt good about it. So good that I went to work on weeding a much larger area out by the driveway. Last year I’d planned on creating a parking pad near the front drive’s gate … with a retaining wall, a plant-arbored gate … didn’t happen. I think I may actually get it done this year (insert grin)—yep, it will get done. I’m sure. When I finished the area, I was tired and sore, but felt very good about what I’d accomplished. It is nice to see the results of hard work.

I rewarded myself with lunch (and a yummy dessert—I’d burned enough calories to enjoy it without feeling guilty) and pondered what else I could do. The tax return—piles of receipts waiting to be sorted and recorded—was still waiting for me, quietly tapping me on the shoulder. I vetoed it. The mind-numbing number crunching would have to wait for another day. I went back out and did a bit more weeding—well, raking with a sort of thatcher rake (not sure what it’s real name is)—in the patio/”lawn” area. Not quite as much enthusiasm as before, but I was definitely getting excited at all of the “improvements” I was seeing. Did I mention I have a tendency of going overboard. I was going to do more, but my energy levels were diminishing fast.

And, I was also starting to feel the consequences of so much work. Not muscle pain from unused muscles—I keep myself busy enough so that is not much of an issue—but rather, flat-out fatigue … and my arthritis rearing it’s ugly head. This is the reason I usually try to reign in how much I do and when I do it. The problem is, when I’m really excited about what I’m accomplishing, that kinda goes out the window.

The same “bout of excitement” happened the Saturday Open Ground Studios was up for an award—while other members helped kids/adults paint and print things, I spent the whole day standing (a no-no) or bent over (a really bad no-no) working with kids and adults making accordion books. We all had a blast making our presence known and our director, Denese—and Open Ground Studios—won … and it took three days for me to recover from the enthusiasm. So worth every bit of the pain!

Then, yesterday I completely ignored everything on my to-do list—especially the piles of tax receipts—and spent a lovely late afternoon and evening with a friend. That’s important. I don’t have it on the to-do list, but it is equally important to spend time with friends. A delightful and necessary detour in my busy life. We had a grand time … dinner at the Fishwife Restaurant in Pacific Grove, then we braved blustery, chilly—no, rephrase that—icy cold weather as we climbed over rocks and across sand to get the perfect pictures of a moonrise, crashing waves and finally, a sunset (and I will reward you with a few shots taken yesterday). They are not perfect, as I still have not had the camera cleaned (insert huge frown).

Sunset at Asilomar

One of several view of a sunset along the coast of Pacific Grove

Rocky Vantage of Sunset

Playing with angles, ragged rock in foreground

Moonrise at Asilomar

Playing with surroundings to capture the moonrise

Moonrise at Asilomar2

More playing with imagery

Waiting for Sunset at Asilomar

Blustery weather as we waited for the sun to set along the coast

Moonrise and Chain Fence

Love capturing the landscape surrounding a moonrise or sunset

Procrastination has presented me with a mile long (and then some) list of things to do, in no order particular of priority or preference. I do an internal check of my energy/pain levels and decide from there. I used to get very frustrated at how much I could not accomplish. Now, I just go with the flow. Things will get done—eventually. And I’m happy when they do. No stressing now. That’s all that matters for me. In any case, I’m not sure I’d defend procrastination for others, but I do see that it has it’s place—at least in my life—if one doesn’t fret about the list that grows. And grows.

What’s on your procrastination list? And do you fret about it or take my philosophy?

May your days be filled with a list of blessings, peppered within your “to-do” list.

Back at the Keyboard, Finally!

Oh, my. I have been negligent. Not spending time with my business website, not posting blog entries…

I’m sorry. I’ve been a bit absorbed with my young hens (acquired this spring) and loving every minute. But soon…oh, so very soon begins NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  This is the month of Literary Abandon — abandoning everything so that you (anyone that loves writing) can concentrate on just that–write. That is what November means to me. Obviously, I cannot “abandon” my Girls, or my other critters and I certainly will not forsake church–and, oh bother…Thanksgiving falls in that month too, but just about everything else will be put aside. I WILL post excepts (unedited, so please be nice) of my writings from NaNoWriMo.

The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days. I’m hoping to reach it this year!!

If you love writing and/or have thought about participating, now Is the time to go to NaNoWriMo.org and sign up!  Do yourself a favor and give it a try.

So, here are my official first entries, originally posted on my Facebook business page on the 9th & 11th.  After today, I will post directly to this blog (wonder how close to “daily” I will get)  and my FB Friends will need to follow the link to this blog.

9 Oct 12

My mother tried. It was the 50’s after all, when boys were boys and girls were girls. And she already had two boys. Now, she had a girl. Images of frilly things and girl-time must have danced in her head.

She tried very hard:  Frilly dresses, dolls of all imaginable sizes and shapes.  One doll was as big as I was. Most had eyes that opened and closed, one even wet it’s diaper & could be fed a bottle.  I even had a Barbie doll when they first came out.  I cut it’s hair to match my short, tightly permed hair.  A play house and all the girly goodies that go with it.  Yup.  The life of a girl in the 50s.

But I think my mother grew tired of mending my store-bought clothes. They weren’t made for they way I played. She began sewing her own; frocks that were not quite so frilly for me, with seams reinforced, hoping that they would withstand my rough play. Climbing trees is hard to do in a dress. Always stepping on the hem, tearing it at the waistline.

Even the reinforced seams didn’t work.  And by then, I really didn’t want to be in a dress.  Jeans were in — it was almost time for the Flower Child stage of my life.  Jeans–torn at the knee were really cool.

And playing rough was too.  Well, with four brothers by then, I was a full-blown Tomboy and loving every moment.  Though, I bet the required caring for my baby brother & diaper changes were a last ditch effort by my Mom to instill some sort of “womanhood” in me.  Didn’t work.

Climbing trees, arm wresting, romping through poison oak (and paying for it later), playing Cowboys and Indians (I was never a squaw…always a hunter/gatherer), wanting desperately to go hunting (no, that’s for boys…) with my dad and brothers…(but, I did get to learn how to shoot a rifle) — that is all I ever what I wanted to do.

Rough housing was standard fare at our house.  I could definitely hold my own against my brothers.  One of my brothers still sports, to this day, an ‘L’ shaped scar on his back from the time we were rough housing and while I was on the ground, he lunged at me.  Without thinking, I responded by using my legs to catch and repel him across the room — onto the corner of a table.  Oops.  It took him a little while to catch his breath (I was definitely concerned & promised not to do it again).

I’ve always been strong — thanks to my brothers, I think!  The arm wrestling and climbing certainly helped.  In high school, I signed up for shot put.  Definitely not the average sport for a girl.  I still like to do things — and it continues to surprise men — that requires more strength than is expected of me because of my gender, age and/or perceived physical abilities.

And their response always makes me giggle — oh, now there is a ‘girl’ trait! And finally, after all these years of jeans & tennies, climbing & rough housing, I am finding I am enjoying getting dressed up in frilly things and wearing makeup (occasionally).

Well, guess Mom finally won out.
Maybe.

Hope she’s smiling up there. ♥

11 Oct 12
Daily blogging takes more time than I thought. I certainly have the time, but putting all those little bits together to create enough space in time to sit down, uninterrupted, and pull my thoughts from the space between my ears and up into the Internet is more difficult than I thought.

Same with photographic blogging. I had challenged myself in June to do a “365 photo blog”. That’s one photo a day. Simple, right? Starting it on my trip overseas was a great way to start — plenty of photos, but finding the time to sit down, download the photos onto the computer and then sharing the meager Internet connection with my fellow travelers to upload to my Flickr account proved to be my downfall…and once I got home, I had so many things on my plate…so, I am sorry I have not followed through with it. Perhaps soon, I will be able to resume the photo blog. I promise. I keep my promises — eventually.

Time seems to be an illusive creature for me. Beautiful, fleeting…trying to harness it to work in my favor is a daunting task. I look around me, often wondering how some people are able to accomplish so much even when their “plate” is fuller than mine.

Secretly, I do know why I seem to have such a hard time. I haven’t told anyone, but I’m sure they can see it. It’s that dreaded Procrastination Monster. It hovers menacingly over me constantly. It weighs heavily on my shoulders–no wonder they ache so much. I make mental lists (oh, for those of you that know me personally–this should be a no-no) and begin my tasks, but the list vanishes into thin air, gobbled up by the Monster, even before I have completed the first thing on my list.

So, forgetting the list, I find something to entertain me — presently, that would be socializing with my sweet, sweet Girls…a dozen beautiful young hens (pullets, actually). We talk, my Girls and I, mostly about how they should be giving me more of their scrumptious, brown (and blue) eggs. They happily chatter back to me and amongst themselves, probably giggling at how this Human is demanding something they are not capable of performing quite yet. After all, the youngest is just coming up on 20 weeks and may require a few more weeks of maturing to produce her beautiful fruit. I do get presents of 4-6 eggs a day, but greedily hunger for more. What can one person do with so many eggs?  I eat them — too many, my doctor says. And, well, I do have friends, after all, so now they are getting even more now. Believe it or not, the Girls even get some too!

As we chat, I look around at all the incomplete projects and remember that I had a list going somewhere. I say adieu to the Girls and start searching for the List. Not finding it, I decided to create one on paper. But paper can be misplaced too. That Monster follows me everywhere!

Even when I am trying to run my errands efficiently, I discover I have left some important item needed (the List, perhaps?) at home. So, back I go. Now, I use my cell phone’s memo pad for my lists and I am less likely to misplace it. But still…

All of this takes time. My day is filled with free time, but it is stitching together those bits is the trick. I guess I would make an awful seamstress.