Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A Matter of Detente

Today's post isn't about writing except that I'm writing it. You see, this week I've been traveling. In fact for a small town girl, I've done a lot of traveling in my lifetime. In that time I've seen a lot of public toilets and this has resulted in a pet peeve, actually a couple of them. The first one is toilet paper. Yes, toilet paper.

I'm not sure you're aware but all toilet paper is not created equally. Americans have vastly improved toilet paper and I believe this is probably a solution to world peace. If everyone had soft toilet paper, there might not be so many wars. Let's face it, corn cobs and something approximating sandpaper were the thing until the 20th century when Northern produced what they called the first splinter-free paper.

Wars until then were pretty rampant. I suspect that European toilet paper may have been a major factor in WWI, WWII, and probably the Korean War. This is not to belittle the horrors of those wars but had someone come up with something more humane for personal hygiene, perhaps all those crazies that started the messes might have been happier. Who knows the emotional and mental damage of getting a splinter, well, where the sun doesn't shine. I'm so happy Northern took the initiative. They should have won a Nobel Peace Prize but it hadn't been invented yet.

Of course, I don't think the war changed things in some locals. When we lived in Frankfurt, Germany in the 70's I was horrified at what passed for toilet paper in public restrooms or WC's as they call them across the pond. It was more like construction paper with a texture of crepe paper. I kid you not. Needless to say, I bought my TP at the Army Commissary. When I came back to the states I was relieved (no pun intended) to find that particular European fad had not caught on in the US. While US TP in public restrooms is not quilted or squeezable, it is also not an art project. It is more like an experiment in the theory of melting. I think they've mastered the process of getting the paper to dissolve quickly and completely in fluids. They forgot the purpose of the stuff.

This brings us to my second pet peeve which, if I'm truthful, should be my first one. Number 2 (again, no pun intended) is toilet paper dispensers in public restrooms. Yep. Those honking big clunkers hung on the wall of every public restroom in America are my number 2 pet peeve.

This week has opened my eyes to the horrible conditions in public restrooms across America, particularly in State rest stops. I mean, come on. We're the nation who created the Empire State Building, The Arch in St. Louis, the Hoover Dam, and the Golden Gate Bridge. You'd think we'd figure out how to hang a toilet paper dispenser. Really. We landed the first man on the moon, for heaven's sake! This is not rocket science.I mean, who hangs these things?

The ADA has a set of specifications for making a bathroom accessible for handicapped persons. Their recommendation for TP is 18" from the floor. I am willing to bet even handicapped folks have problems with the toilet paper in restrooms. I mean, 18 inches isn't even above the toilet seat.

Another problem is that it seems 18 inches means different things to different people. I have had to perform some ridiculous acrobatics to obtain toilet paper. Once, I had to actually bend over and reach about 7 inches below knee level and up into the dispenser to get the paper out. Another time, I could rest my arm on the top of the thing. That time, I had to lean back and reach behind the dispenser to get to the paper.  Once I visited a restroom that was a single toilet. The dispenser for the toilet paper was across the room, three feet away. The list goes on.

Correct placement
I'm not sure there is a solution to this massive problem but I'm advocating immediate reevaluation of this guideline and retraining of all maintenance personnel in the correct method of hanging toilet paper dispensers. In fact, I have a simple method that, if followed, will ensure that all dispensers will be located where everyone can easily access the contents. Hang the stupid things four feet off the floor and just ahead of the toilet seat. That's it. You just reach out and grab the paper.

I know many of you will not take this seriously but I do not believe I'm the only person in the world who has a problem with these things. Another thing you should remember is that Freud attributed criminal and deviant behavior to problems in potty training. Imagine how many people are being scarred by the struggle to obtain toilet paper. I'm telling you. War could be imminent.

Friday, June 1, 2018

First Interview & Other Minutia

I feel so important now. Fiona Mcvie just posted an author interview with me on her blog! It is so thrilling. My first interview. OK, maybe I'm over-reacting but really, it was a lot of fun and now I feel like I can do this.

I've been running around for a few days now and having a hard time remembering what day it is. Sarah is out of school and without that schedule to keep up on track, we're both asking all the time "What's today?" I don't feel so bad when she asks, too.

I've still got some painting to do to the chairs but I have to go buy more paint. At the moment, I'm working on a child's park bench that belonged to Sarah when she was a tot. It is really a lovely bench and made of oak and iron. Rather than sanding and staining the slats, I'm painting them a hammered bronze color. I'll post photos when I'm done.

It has rained so much that the ground feels a bit spongy. The heat and humidity are miserable for more than a few minutes so I'm painting in bouts, coming in to cool and dry off. We did need a good soaking rain and I believe we got it. I just wish it had cooled us off.

Guess what I did today? Put away laundry! Yes! Yes! I did it. I still have some sheets and towels to do but I can do that sitting and watching t.v. later. I got everything hung up and just have to move it to the closets. It didn't take long, a surprise there, and I was so relieved. The only drawback is the severe pain in my trapezius that is setting up a migraine. I've discovered that is one of my triggers.

Sarah is leaving next week to go to Arkansas for two months to spend time with her Dad. She always looks forward to seeing him and spending time with him but she hates to leave home. I'll miss her terribly and I know her mom and other grandparents will as well. I won't have to get out of bed early until August unless I just want to get up.

Had a weird experience yesterday. I was exhausted because I had not had enough sleep the night before and went to sleep in the recliner. When I woke up I could see fine out of my right eye but my left one was as blurry as if I'd been wearing the wrong glasses. It took three hours to clear up. I'm wondering if it was a visual migraine. I started having them about 5 years ago and they're very odd and frightening. Today, I have a real headache just over that eye. I'm about to take some meds for a migraine in a few minutes. No, I didn't call the doctor. There was nothing to show them. I just couldn't see, even with my glasses. But you know what, I could feel the difference in the eyes.

I'm off now to wait the meds out and see if I can organize a writing project I've set for myself. Everyone have a wonderful weekend. Just use caution in the heat.

Do visit Fiona's blog and read the interview. Read several and leave her a comment on them if you enjoyed it. Well, leave me one, too!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Atmosphere Is Everything

I have tinnitus as a result of some of my medications, so I'm a sap for background sounds when I'm reading, writing, cleaning, and even sleeping. Every night I have ocean sounds playing in my bedroom. I find it much easier to focus with these sounds in the background as I go about my day. The sound helps mute the ringing in my ears.

When I want to relax and get cozy with a book in my favorite chair, the thrashing, smashing sound of a thunderstorm or the crashing of ocean waves as they throw themselves against the shore sets just the right mood. A soft summer rain calms me. At night, I fall asleep much faster with the sound of rain or ocean waves. When I'm writing, I've found that the background noise actually helps drown out other distractions and creates a relaxing atmosphere in which to work.

Unfortunately, you can't call up a rainstorm every time you want it and I'm far from my beloved Gulf Coast. So, I searched for and found tons of sound videos on YouTube. Another discovery is Noisli, a website that lets you set up your own background sounds and provides a timer you can set for a specific time. They also provide a blank page you can write on, distraction-free and it will even change colors across the spectrum. You can turn off both the time, sound, and color change. Their  Chrome plug-in lets you play the same background sounds while you're on the computer. If you want to write with sound for 30 minutes, just set the timer.

If you like using a headset it makes the experience more profound. You can't hear anything but the sounds. Use caution, since it can prevent you from hearing alarms in an emergency. My computer speakers are very good and serve me well enough. As I write this post, I have a summer storm playing on Noisli for Chrome.

You can buy sound CD's at Wal-mart and other stores and I have a couple of them. Or you can purchase downloads for your MP 3 player. In case you don't have the money to buy sounds, you can go to YouTube and search. You may go to Noisli.com and use their free features or get the plug-in, too. If you don't want to commit to all that work, I'm giving you links to my playlists of sounds and to Noisli for you to try.

I know many people who have music playlist they use when writing. I've used music for cleaning house and writing but I find if the music has lyrics it is more distracting. So I generally stick to classical or instrumentals.

Ambient sounds may not be for everyone but I'm fairly sure someone will find it useful. One thing I've done is looks for sounds that go with what I'm working on. Is my story in a city? I chose a city sound. Are my characters in a diner? I pick sounds you hear in a diner. Does the action take place in the forest? You got it. I have several forest sounds on my lists.

So, try it out. I'd love for you to come back and tell me how it worked or didn't work for you. I've picked sounds I like but you could make your own playlists with different sounds. There are plenty of them online, particularly on YouTube.

Online Background Sounds for Writing

WebPlug-InPlug In for Chrome

Noisli - I believe they have an Apple app but not positive.

My Background Sounds Playlists 

Ambient Sounds
Nature Sounds

Here's one of my most favorite sounds. When I was growing up in South Alabama this was what you heard every night of the summer out in the country where we lived. It is a sound that even today, makes me happy. I could sit on my porch in the city, close my eyes, and listen to this. I'd be home instantly.

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Mad Passion

The struggle to write is an ongoing one for me. So many things conspire to hold me back: fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, fatigue, family responsibilities; but they never quench the craving to write. Even when my body aches and my hands don't want to operate I have this urge to write. The frustration of not being able to write is depressing.

For about a week now, I've been better, so much so I could gets several things done. I even started walking again and today I walked .7 of a mile. Although it was difficult, I pushed ahead and did it.

Why can't I do that with my writing?

This isn't a hobby so much as a necessity. This is my voice, putting words onto paper or the computer screen. If I lose that, I will lose my voice and who I am becomes meaningless.

The emotional connection to writing is as strong as any love you will ever experience. The passion of shaping a world, creating a character, describing the sunset is as powerful as that first kiss. The first time I wrote a story I was in the 8th grade. It was a class assignment but when my friend read it and raved about it, there was this amazing feeling that I can't begin to explain. When I was a couple of years older, I started a novel and that feeling grew. Now, each story is a new relationship filled with excitement to discover what happens next.

Of course, after you finish a story the real work of the relationship starts. Sometimes I wonder if that it why I struggle to finish my stories. I don't want the passion to die. I want to keep that fire in the belly and the excitement of discovery. Finishing it will mean the relationship is over.

Today, as I sit here and shape this post into something someone might actually find interesting, I'm itchy to write because I have a story only a few thousand words shy of done. I am going to finish it. I could be done this week. Just the thought of that makes my heart speed up a bit and knots twist in my stomach. You'd think I had some special man at the front door. I don't. I have a story waiting for me to finish it, to make it a living breathing thing to send out into the world and give someone pleasure.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Painful Rambles

I had an idea, a plan, and a strategy when I got up this morning. I put away some of the growing pile of laundry. Sarah actually helped me wash some of it yesterday. I swept and vacuumed every room.

My next move (it was 10:30 a.m. by then) was to get my stuff together and go into the yard and get the flowers planted. I figured a couple of hours would do it. I would go for my walk when I go to get Sarah. Then, I'd have writing time this evening. It was brilliant.


Today my plan was not a success. I had to sit down after sweeping because it always hurts my lower back. Today the pain is extreme. Generally, once I finish with a room I have to sit for up to 15  minutes, particularly if it is Sarah's room. That didn't help today.

Next, I tackled as much as I can before I had to sit again. It is sweeping, vacuuming and mopping that give me the most trouble but it knocks me for a loop. Anything where I've got to lean slightly forward is exceptionally bad. I need to mop in the worst way but that is not happening. It is so bad today that I decided to go get something to eat and come back. So I did. It didn't help. Not only is my back unhappy, my left shoulder and arm are in a very bad way.

What I am feeling is extreme pain. Lower back, shoulder pain, nerve pain in the arm and hand, and last but not least, pain going down my leg. I've taken the medicine I usually take for that leg pain but I think I'm hurting so bad in general it isn't helping.

This is all compounded by the fact that, yesterday I had to spray bug spray around the house to start working on keeping the ants at bay and I had to put out weed killer to kill weeds until I can get a trimmer (which I probably won't be able to use because of my back!). Anyway, that little exercise caused pain in my forearms. Remember, I've been sitting on my laurels for nearly 9 months. I'm not in good shape to say the least. I walked for several days this past week but at the moment, I'm not thinking about walking.

What I do think, is that writing might not happen. I'm also supposed to skype with a writer friend online tonight. We do this twice a month when we can. I don't know if I handle it. Sitting is the worst thing you can do it you have back problems.

I like to think that I'll get some writing in. I mentioned that I had written 371 words in one of the ending chapters of The Long Summer Run. It got me excited and I am eager to get back to it. I could be finished in a couple of days with the first draft. That's amazing.

For now, 30 minutes ago I took two acetaminophen that last 8 hours. I'm hoping this helps the overall pain. Some of the pain in my back seems to have started to respond to it. There is one huge drawback to all this. There is a storm front headed our way. It is possible that all this pain is in response to that approaching system. Yes, I know it is farfetched, just take my word for it. It happens.

It has suddenly occurred to me as I write this that I can ramble on for hundreds of words about pain. I'm so tired of it. Since it is painful to type right now, I'll stop here.

Photo Attribution

I've tried to attribute all photos to their sources. Should you find an error, please notify me.

If known, unless otherwise noted, all photos are either my own or from Pixabay.com. You may not copy, download, or otherwise use my personal photos. Visit Pixabay.com for information on their photos.