Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Preparing for NaNoWriMo 2016

This is the first year I'm heading into NaNoWriMo with an outline. In the past I usually knew the premise and a few characters from the story I planned to write, but not much more than that. I've been experimenting with outlining recently, and I think it is working for me.

This NaNo novel will be a sequel to the one I finished up a couple months ago and am now revising. The timing worked out well for me, which is unusual. I generally suck at timing.

So, if you're participating in NaNoWriMo this year and need a writing buddy - I'm karabu on the NaNoWriMo site. Let's go!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

I Didn't Mean for it to Become a Trend

I'm six weeks post-surgery now, so I'm allowed to start exercising and doing things again. So I've started up my Couch to 5K running training program. Today, I was looking over my outline as I prepare for NaNoWriMo. Then I realized I had linked these two events together yet again.


When I wrote those two previous posts, I'd thought it was sort of a humorous coincidence, and I liked the similarity in the determination and self -discipline I needed for both activities. I didn't mean to forever attach them to each other.

I'd really love to believe this is the last year they will be attached. Not because I don't love them both. I just hope to stay well enough to not need to restart Couch to 5K from the beginning again. The other times, I knew I wouldn't be able to finish the program due to health restrictions. Now, however - I hope I remain hale and hearty and running well past the end of the program. If anything, maybe I'll be looking into a program to take me from 5 to 10 K next year. A girl can dream.

I do plan to keep participating in NaNoWriMo ever year because - why not?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Working on a Mystery Quilt

Years ago, I found a pattern for a 'Mystery Quilt' online and it sounded fun, so I made it. When you make a mystery quilt, you have instruction for making each block, a step at a time, but you don't know what the whole quilt will look like until you finish. I made that first mystery quilt when I was just learning how to quilt still, and it was a lot of fun. I don't have a photo of it - I gave it to my mom - but I'll try to get one. I really liked how it turned out.

Our local quilt shop closed awhile back, but only their physical store. They have managed to keep an online shop going and they also design and sell patterns. They put out a fun weekly newsletter, and once in awhile they have free patterns or mystery quilts there. So I decided I'd like to do one again while I was recovering from my first surgery.

I was slow, and got way behind, so I had only finished a few weeks worth of blocks when the finial reveal came along in the newsletter. It wasn't what I had hoped for. Thimble Creek Quilts usually just blow me away, but this one was just - okay in my personal quilting tastes. So I didn't really work on it anymore. But now I have a bunch of blocks that I like from that project, so I might as well do something with them. So, while I'm not going to make the whole quilt, I will probably still go ahead and make the tree blocks to add to what I have done, then put them all together in a smaller version of my own.

The pattern isn't available for free anymore, but can be purchased here. Although if you are a quilter, it would be worth your time to get on their email list for future free patters and such.

Here are a few of my favorite blocks from the mystery project that I've finished so far:

photos by Kara Hartz

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Ileostomy Free

I've had my ileostomy reversal surgery and am home recovering. Generally, my recovery is going well. Compared to how I was feeling before surgery, I'd say it's going great.
Before my surgery I had hit some more complications with my ostomy - I'd developed pressure wounds next to my stoma from wearing my support belts too tight. Healing those turned out to be not an easy thing. They also interfered with how well my bag attached. So I was back in a bit of a bad place with leaks, and now wounds, etc. to deal with.
Because the surgeon had these wounds to deal with on top of the regular ostomy to close, she decided to leave an open wound that could drain since it would end up being a larger opening than normal. The size of the open wound freaked me out a little when I saw it - much larger than I had expected at about 5 cm square, and about 5 cm deep. Now, at almost 3 weeks post-surgery, it is quite a bit smaller. I have a wound nurse still helping me weekly, but my husband and I manage the daily bandage changes on our own. The huge hole is actually much easier to deal with then the ostomy was.
My strength is slowly returning, and the rest (well into TMI territory) is improving over time as well.
I'm looking forward to putting this behind me.
And probably using it for story inspiration.
A character with an ostomy perhaps. . . ?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Diapering the Bob

Bob the cat photo by Kara Hartz

I've written before about my cat, Bob. For a little background though - Bob has a broken spine that left him with a dead tail (that was amputated) and he has fecal incontinence. This all happened to him when he was about 1 year old. He is now 19, and things in his back end have been slowly deteriorating over the years. 
He has always been prone to urinating in the wrong place, but in the past year or so it has become more clear that this is only sometimes a choice, and sometimes seems to catch him completely off guard. We tried different ways to deal with the urine and still keep Bob around. We've tried just keeping him out of rooms with beds in them, and we haven't owned a sofa in years. For awhile we tried putting him in a portable dog kennel when no one would be home to supervise him. All of these things helped with the accidents, but didn't stop them.
Then I had the idea to diaper him, and I wonder why I didn't do this first. We could have skipped all those years of suffering (for us and for Bob).
Now, he certainly didn't care for the diaper when we started. It bugged him. But I saw at once that it bugged him less than not being allowed to lay on a bed did, or even worse, to be kenneled all the time. After a couple weeks, he no longer seems to even notice it. And - Oh! The freedom! - for us all. 
I originally bought him doggie diapers. Then a helpful review on Amazon suggested that human baby diapers could have a tail hole cut in them, and were a heck of a lot cheaper. So that's what I use now. I ended up picking a size based on the weight range on the package for lack of another idea, and that has worked well. The size 1 diapers fit him great. I've even stopped bothering to cut the tail hole since his remaining stub is so tiny it never stayed in the hole, and since he can't feel his stub it doesn't seem to bother him to just have it covered up. 
I'm sharing this information:
1) because is he not the cutest diapered cat you've ever seen?
2) Hopefully this will help someone else who may be struggling with a partially or fully incontinent older cat. If I can help a cat and person avoid all we went through, and save their relationship - then I want to do so. 
Bob the Cat photo by Kara Hartz

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Last Chance for Eye of the Beholder, and other stories Ebook for Free

From July 9th thru the 11th, my ebook, Eye of the Beholder and other stories will be free on Amazon. I'm using my last 3 free Kindle Select days as I will be leaving Select to go wide in August. So now is your last chance to grab it for free.
(And if you enjoy it, please consider leaving a review!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Learning Spanish

I took 6 years of Spanish in Junior High and High School. I remember almost none of it because I never used it. Now I have a little Junior High schooler of my own and we are starting up the language lessons. I still feel that Spanish is a useful second language for Californians despite my own history.
From the recommendation of a friend, we are trying out Duolingo. I'm moving along fairly quickly through the basics levels so far, so maybe all those past lessons haven't completely vanished from my brain. What I like is: that it's free, that the kids and I can all have it on our own devices to work at our own level and pace, but I can create a 'classroom' to see what they're doing and how often they are working on it, it's simple to use and fun enough they are doing lessons without my nagging.
The plan was to just try it out over the summer, but I already like it enough that I'm sure this is what we'll use for the school year as well.
Duolingo tells me I'm 4% fluent in Spanish so far and offers to post this info to LinkedIn for me. Do you think anyone would find that impressive?