Not much and yet maybe too much.
A couple of months ago I signed up for SmokeLong Fitness Community Workshop. It’s all flash, all the time. I’ve since learned that I can write to prompts quite happily if I’m given an example of a response. My creative battery is apparently sparked by other people’s creativity. We’re given relatively small word counts (for example, less than 500 words), challenging us to make every word count. The word counts also make it manageable to read and comment on my group’s drafts.
I participated in September and October and am taking November and December off to work on my so-called novel. I do miss the community. Although we were put into different writing groups at the beginning of each month, each group quickly created a safe, supportive environment.
The other big thing I’ve done was write letters for Vote Forward. The organization provides the letter template and voter names and addresses. In turn, I provide a handwritten message encouraging the letter recipient to vote as well as envelopes, stamps, and the printer to print all the letters. (If you cannot afford to buy your own materials, Vote Forward has letter kits you can request.)
Based on their research, Vote Forward found that voters who receive these handwritten, personalized, and NONPARTISAN messages are more likely to vote. Yeah, I cannot encourage anyone to vote a certain way. Just. To. Vote. I managed to send out 250 letters on October 29 to voters in Florida and Pennsylvania.
Currently, Vote Forward has a call out for letters to Georgia. Guess I’ll have to participate in that too.
When not writing, I’ve been playing with photography. Although my husband knows I’m saving for an iPhone 14 (for its mega-megapixel camera), he’s
given loaned me his last acquisition: a Lumix GX85. It’s smaller than the Canon T3i that I bought years ago and is fitted with a macro lens. The key is learning how to use it. In fact, he handed it over to me because he got impatient with trying to figure out how to use it. I have a steep learning curve with this one, but I’ve started playing around.
Below is a photo of an orb-weaver that has built a home between a corner of our house and a Sabal palm. This was taken with my iPhone 8 Plus, using the wide-angle lens, and is about the closest macro shot I can get with good detail.
Now here is the same spider with the Lumix:
Obviously closer, but still not as detailed as I’d like.
But I’m working on it. The next two photos were also taken with the Lumix. I edited them slightly.
Finally, here are a couple of photos I took of the Blood Moon with my iPhone and my husband’s big-ass binoculars.
I’m really not a morning person, but given that we could see the moon from our driveway, I got up with my husband at about 4:30 AM to watch the eclipse and take photos.
This brings me to the other “thing” that’s been going on with me: my chronic neck pain. It was pretty bad a few weeks ago, enough to send me to the chiropractor for treatment and guidance. During the next two-and-a-half weeks I applied a heating pad to my neck for 20 minutes several times a day and did stretching exercises. I also tried an assortment of anti-inflammatory drugs and CBD salve with mixed results. Trial and error. Finally, we got me to a point where my pain has lessened and my range of motion has improved, but I’m not 100%. In all likelihood, I will never be 100%. This isn’t “woe is me.” Now that the worst is over, I can always say it could be worse.
What I need to do–besides taking NSAIDs intermittently and applying heat and stretching regularly–is avoid activities that aggravate my arthritis. Activities like looking through my husband’s big-ass binoculars at the Blood Moon or working too long at my computer. I have to remind myself to take a lot of breaks … something I’m not really good at.
And, last but not least, I’m still grieving. Some days I’m okay. Maybe I can say most days I’m okay but as I type this, I feel the tears start to well up. Writing helps somewhat and since my last blog post, I’ve written two more essays about my sister for my publication on Medium:
Thank you for reading. I leave you with the two amigos.
Marie A Bailey
Writer, blogger, knitter, cat lover, and introvert.