Saturday, October 22, 2016

My Brain on Books XVII

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next month.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey

 3:33 PM - It's been awhile since I checked in.  I have been reading for most of that time.  For the last three hours I've been laying down resting my eyes while listening to Joyce Carol Oates short stories on my Library of Congress Talking Book machine.  The collection High Lonesome.  JCO is me favorite writer and probably my strongest influence.  I root for her to win the Nobel Prize every year.  But I was extremely pleased when Bob Dylan won it this year.  The first lyricist!  He and Emily Dickinson are my two favorite poets.

I think I'm going to return to The End of All Things, the Donaldson book I mentioned above which I'm close to finishing after spending two hours with it this morning.

5:00 AM - this is set to auto publish at 4:44.  I'll be back to do the intro meme eventually.  I may read in bed on my Kindle for awhile before getting active on here.

7:00 AM - I read in bed until the house heat had been on long enough to prevent feeling chilled while walking about or the need to wear a coat while sitting at my desk.

Intro Meme:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
Longview, Washington USA.  On the north side of the majestic Columbia River approximately 22 miles from the coast and 50 miles from Portland, Oregon as the crow flies.

From my Mom's house.  The house I lived in from age 18 to 21 and again since January 2013.  See earliest posts under the label Lifequake for explanation.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
For fiction: The Last Dark by Stephen R. Donaldson.  The final book of the final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Unbeliever.  I'm about 100 pages out from finishing the third book in this, the third series set in The Land.  Two trilogies preceded it.  I was re-reading the first trilogy for the thon a year ago and the second trilogy last April.  This is my first time through the Final Chronicles.

This has been a project related to one of my own stories as Greg in my story Blow Me a Candy Kiss is passionate about the Covenant Chronicles, thinks in the metaphors, symbols, and images of the story.  I'm trying to get inside his head to prepare for another story featuring Greg and Iris from his POV. Four or five more stories after that alternating between POV would make a novel I'm thinking. I'm hoping to make that my NaNoWriMo project next month but I'm not sure I'm ready to write it yet.

For Nonfiction: I'm eager to advance in Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel.  I like to have at least one book in the mix that is about books or reading.  And in October when prepping for NaNo I like to have one about fiction writing.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
Stuffed Crust Garlic Chicken Pizza

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm legally blind from RP aka Tunnel Vision with less than 2 degrees of vision left.  I can no longer read even large print with my left eye.  I now prefer ebooks for the ability to enlarge fonts and control line width so I don't loose my way between end and beginning of lines.  I used to read nearly 1K words per minute but now read slower than I talk.  Very discouraging.

I've had a mood disorder since childhood featuring depression, anxiety, panic and insomnia.  Several times professionals have considered the possibility of bi-polar but finally ruled it out definitively just over a year ago when they diagnosed me with High Functioning Autism aka Asperger's.  Over fifty years of feeling 'wrong' and not knowing why.  I've spent the last year reading nf about the autism spectrum and novels and memoirs featuring autistic individuals which has gone a long way toward helping me understand much that once confused and shamed me.  Since I have several of those books in progress I'll probably dip into them today.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
Last April I elected to spend the 24 hours in the tent down in the back yard where my husband has slept since March.  I imagined it would be a cosy, quiet private place where I could focus on reading.  ROFLOL.  It rained.  I spent several hours over the course of the day cleaning up water and wet things, moving stuff from damp to dry spots and trying to block the leaks.  And then there were the necessary excursions upstairs for the inflow and outflow of nutrients, the adding and subtracting of layers of clothing as temps fluctuated between 40 and 60 degrees over the 24 hours--tasks that tripled or quadrupled in time investment because every time I had to do something I couldn't do from my nest I had to extricate myself from blankets and pillows, device cords and lap boards, and sacks of books and snacks and then on my return climb back in and get it all rearranged to my liking again.  Even if I was only in the house five minutes I was away from reading for at least 35. It was during one of those treks upstairs that the worst downpour started and I had forgotten (or been in too big of a hurry) to zip up the tent door and the window flaps were down because the sun had been out long enough to make the tent feel like a sauna.

So yeah.  The tent is still there but I'm not in it.


Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Serenity -- Celebrating a Life

Bernie Altman with Marcia
his wife of 69 years
Longview lost one of its heroes last month--one of my heroes--and yesterday I attended the Celebration of a Life service held at the Kelso High gymnasium in Kelso WA. A forum necessary to accommodate the size of the crowd turning out to honor this man whose heart was bigger than any I've ever encountered before or since.

Bernie Altman, advocate and teacher, dies at 92 | Local |

'via Blog this'

Bernard Altman (May 9, 1924-September 8, 2016) was born and raised in New York City and met and married his wife Marcia while they were both teaching at a four teacher school in a small Montana town.  They moved to Kelso where he taught history and government at Huntington Jr. High until his retirement in 1976.  Close to a third of the attendees yesterday stood up to identify as former students when asked.  A remarkable indicator of the positive influence on lives in our community which he wielded.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg because he didn't conduct himself as a typical retiree--sun and surf and RV vacations, TV game show marathons and recliner snoozing?  No!  He would have none of that.  He set out to make his retirement years as significant and as time and energy intensive as his three decades of teaching.  He became a political activist and an advocate for social justice and those in dire straights.  Especially those unable to advocate for themselves--the mentally ill and their families, senior citizens, the disabled and the homeless.

I'll refer you to the obituary for the details of his advocacy work--the organizations, committees, support groups, newsletters, conferences etc.

It was in his capacity as organizer and moderator of a support group for depression and anxiety sufferers that I met him in the late 90s and learned to admire him and care for him and Marcia as deeply as any of my grandparents.  For nearly a year of the several that I attended that weekly group he and Marcia picked me up and delivered me back home.  Both to take that burden off my parents and to encourage me to participate more openly with the group as it was his insight that their presence was inhibiting me.

It was Bernie's words early in my attendance of the group that lifted the burden of shame I'd carried for decades over this dark nemesis that had plagued me since my pre-teens.  He called it a disease that, like diabetes, was a chemical imbalance that left untreated was likely to be fatal.  Those words probably saved my life.

He also said that, in spite of popular opinion, depression was no more of a character flaw than diabetes or a broken leg.  Because of this I was eventually able to seek professional help.  One of my regrets now is that I never got around to contacting Bernie last year to let him know that I'd finally gotten the definitive diagnosis that had so eluded the many professionals I'd encountered over five decades--high functioning autism aka Aspberger's Syndrome.

At the time I bid farewell to the group when my husband got the Silicon Valley job in 1999, Bernie expressed his pleasure and pride in me for how far I'd come since the beginning.  A few weeks before that he'd demonstrated his belief and confidence in me by turning the duties of moderator over to me for one of the rare occasions he could not attend.  That contributed significantly to a sense of personal competence that carried me through the month that I had to live alone to pack up and close down our house while Ed was in California starting his new job and preparing for my arrival.  Something I could not have come close to accomplishing three years earlier.

Bernie was also the first--and still only--editor to accept and publish one of my poems.  He was for some years the editor of a special senior citizen newsletter insert for the Longview Daily News and the poem he published was one I'd written to honor my parents fortieth wedding anniversary.  Talk about a morale boost!

Bernie's motive for his vigorous advocacy was the impact of mental illness in his own family so it is a sad irony that his death was the result of injuries sustained at the hands of his own son, who has since been deemed not competent to stand trial due to mental illness. I know that Bernie's love for his children was steadfast and that for his son would not have been diminished one iota over this but I also know that he believed that in cases where someone was an imminent danger to self or others they needed to be committed to treatment and if necessary confined and medicated even against their will. He advocated for a better responsiveness from the system to information provided by family and others who know the ill individuals and who are in a position to know when there is a dire need to intervene.  In this case the sluggishness of the system failed the community as well as the Altman family--the son as much as his parents and sister.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

My Brain on Books XVI

I am reading for The Office of Letters and Lights the folks who bring us NaNoWriMo today as I love what they are doing for literacy with their Young Writer's Programs and because I've participated in NaNo every year since 2004 and will again next month.  I have been blessed to have it in my life and would like to give something back if only kudos and link love.  I'm putting this plug at the top in hopes some who stop by will check out their site and see all the great things they do to foster love of reading and writing and story in kids. 

This post will be organized like a blog inside a blog with recent updates stacked atop previous ones. I may be posting some updates on Twitter @Joystory and the Joystory fb fanpage. But this is where I do anything more than a line or two.  Including mini-challenges unless required to have a separate post..   

Be sure to scroll to bottom of this post for advice on how to ward off those scary nap attacks. You won't be sorry.

Ode to Dewey
by Joy Renee
We Miss You Dewey

10:00 PM - This day did not go as I planned.  And no matter how flexible I tried to be about it, adjusting my plans and expectations, events would NOT cooperate. Don't want to waste anymore reading time giving the play by play so suffice it to say it involved malfunctions.  Many, many malfunctions--of the connection, of the clumsy fingers, of the eyes, of the tent door, of the sky, of the memory, of the wardrobe...

Well, I guess the sky was functioning within normal April parameters and it wasn't its fault the tent door had lost its defenses.

The story I started to tell here promised to be a bit of a hoot but I could tell it would take me the rest of the thon to do it right so I cut it out and pasted it into a new post.  Watch for it sometime this week.  I can't promise it for Sunday or Monday--tho I may surprise myself--as I'll be in the throes of a Thon hangover.  No I'm not drinking alcoholic beverages.  It's the fact that I did not sleep the night before the thon started so I passed my 24 hour awake mark at about 10 AM.  Which could explain a whole lot of the malfunctions related to memory, clumsiness, staying on task, OCD and ADD moments and such.

Well, I'm going to post this update and then settle in with a book until my eyes or my consciousness gives out.  My husband's asleep, the kids in the treehouse next door are asleep and their parents have banked the campfire and taken their murmurs and chuckles inside.  The sky is behaving itself and I've got a good hour before I'm forced by nature to fuss with the malfunctioning tent zippers and make the trek up to the house.

I'll probably make only one more update--the wrapup and I can't promise it will be before I sleep.  I want to devote as much as possible of the remaining time to reading.

5:00 AM - Good morning fellow thoners.

I'm going to be reading on a theme today: Reading about reading.  Like Jane Smiley's 13 Ways of Looking At a Novel, Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer, and Mortimer J. Adler's How to Read a Book to name just a few of such titles I have at hand.

I'm not limiting myself to that tho.  I'll also be spending time with a stack of library books recently checked out--browsing in them for the most part unless one of them reels me in for longer.  That is my way with a new stack of library books.

I will also be reading the third book in the second Thomas Covenant trilogy by Stephen R. Donaldson, White-Gold Wielder.  I began the re-read of these high-fantasy novels over a year ago as a project related to a story I'm writing in which reading the trilogies together played a big role in a young couple's courtship and throughout their marriage creating shorthand references in their communication.  I need to re-read them especially as a way to get inside the head of the husband who so strongly identifies with Covenant he re-reads the whole series nearly once a year and communicates even with himself in the story's language and symbol in an attempt to make sense out of his life and the world.

If I finish White-Gold Wielder I may move on to the final four book series The Final Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.  Those will not be re-reads for me.  But because of my purpose in reading the Covenant series I am reading at less than half my normal fiction speed, taking notes and highlighting so I'll be allowing myself to break one of my 'rules' and start another novel I can just loose myself in and maybe read a few short stories.  I generally dislike having more than one novel going at a time.  That's why much of my reading today will be in NF and my way with it is just the opposite.  I flit among them like butterflies in flower carpeted meadow.

Some of my reading will be with audio so I can crochet or exercise or eat while I read.

Now I'm going to read for bit and then go check in at thon home and do the intro meme questions.

Fighting pose


Saturday, January 02, 2016

On the Move

Crocheted Headband and Hairbow Set
 This headband and hairbow set is two of the thirteen fiber art WIP I've finished in the last two weeks.  See my albums on fb (WWF and Crafty WIP)  I'll probably bring most of those photos into upcoming posts but by then the fb albums will have new stuff as I've taken to posting my current craft endeavors to share with my crafty cousins.

Today we had a family gathering at my brother's house in Portland OR to celebrate our Mom's 84th birthday.  Tomorrow is her actual birthday so I'll save pics of her and the gifts for tomorrow's Sunday Serenity post.

Tonight I'll share the three fiber art WIP I worked on today.

Crocheted Belt to  Go with Headband and Hairbow

This is the belt made with the same yarn and same stitch pattern as the headband and hairbow I finished the other day.  it is now 30 inches long.  it will need at least another ten for a buckle belt and another twenty for a tie belt.  Which one it becomes may depend on how the yarn holds out.  The ball is shrinking fast..

I worked on this for the hour or so we waited for dinner to be served.  I worked on it a bit turning the game of Telephone Pictionary we played but put it away when I realized I would need to start measuring it frequently from that point on.
A Crocheted Granny Octogon Slouch Hat (maybe)
I ws working on this one in the car on the way to Portland. About an hour's ride door to door.  I'd put half a row of white in before realizing that I'd left off last week at the spot wher I change color.  So I took out the white and started working with the pink.  I didn't wind the white back onto it cake, thinking that since I was sitting in one place in the car I should be able to put in the row of pink and then switch back to the white and use up all the loose white well before we arrived.  But I was having issues with sun glare.  I kept making mistakes and having to take out an average of half of all the stitches I put in.

Then less than a third of a row around I discovered that the pink thread had been dragging up globs of the loose white loops and there was a snarl forming.  I spent the rest of the drive and about twenty more minutes sitting in the car in their driveway before I was able to get the yarn gathered up in such a way it wouldn't get worse if handled carefully.  Needless to say I left that project in the car.

I'm not sure what it is.  I started out with the concept of making a granny square slouch hat.  But when I put in the second row I put the six stitch set in all of the chain spaces of row one.  Instead of taking it out I decided to see what a granny octagon would look like.

Well after row five it already had a significant ripple so I started decreacing by skipping the chain space in the middle of each side.  After three rows of this it was starting to lay flatter again but it was also pulling the middles into Vs making the octagon into an eight-pointed star.  I kinda liked that look

On the pink row I'm now working I have stopped decreasing and in fact increasing by the granny square rules.  I'm sure it will start rippling again in two or three rows.  I'm thinking the ripples will look fine on a sluch hat tho so I'm strongly leaning that way.

It took me an hour to get the snarl out after I got home last night.

Crocheted Infinity Scarf
This was the one I worked on the longest from the lateafternoon through the late evening when we left my brother's home in Portland where we'd been celebrating Mom's 84th birthday.

This is an infinity scarf I'm crocheting for myself from a lace weight merrino wool and silk blend with a metalic thread.  Handpainted in shades of teal.  The pattern is puff stitches joined with chain loops.  I started out following a stitch pattern called ZigZag Puffs but I tweaked it and ended up with something that looks like eyes with the puffs as pupils inside a chain frame.  I call it Puffy Eyes. :)

This was one of the yarns I bought on my birthday excursion to a boutique yarnshop in November 2014.  See my November 13th post for pics of the haul of unique yarns I made that day.  Most of them lace or fingerling weight.

This was the skein I tangled the day I first tried to start this scarf late last sinter.  The entire skein.  All 400 odd yards was one big snarl.  It took me months to untangle.  I blogged about it at the time it happened last winter and again when I finished winding the ball.  I suppose this is where I should go find those links.  But I'm too wiped.  Just put 'snarl' in the search box if you want to see pics.

The ball looks to be a little more than half gone and I intend to put the whole thing into the scarf.  I had been thinkinh a hat also but I don't think that tinsil thread would wear well in a hat that would need to be washed more often and encounter more friction and rough handling.

I'm determined to have this finished in time to wear it before it's too warm.

One Word:

All in all it was a good start to my 2016 One Word.  (see yesterday's post) I was on the move all day from getting ready to go to traveling and socializing.  All removed from my comfort zone.  I caught myself in several acts of spontaneity. Even surprising myself by interjecting comments into the conversation multiple times.  The work I did on the three WIP gives me a nice feeling of accomplishment and sense of having moved forward toward my goals.

Today was my second day on Zoloft and I'm wondering how much of a role that played.  They say you aren't supposed to notice anything for several weeks but the last time I was on it in the late 90s I swore I could tell immediately.  At least for the anxiety.  Maybe it took much longer for it to affect my depression that time but it was like an off switch for the anxiety.  And my behavior in a crowd of a dozen noisy people and a dog today is hard to explain otherwise.

One of the reasons I settled on 'Move' as my One Word is that my last time on Zoloft turned me into a couch potato.  I need to fight that this time by consciously putting myself in motion.  I mean exercise but I mean much more.  My med nurse thinks that the Adderall  will counteract that lethargy and feels it is important to address the anxiety and OCD which is not being touched much by the Welbutrin.

The anxiety and OCD are both rooted in the autism spectrum sensory processing issues.  They are both exacerbated by sleep deprivation and yet also cause sleeplessness.  It's an infinity loop.


Friday, January 01, 2016

Putting the 'MOVE' in 2016

Peacock--the symbol of 'joy' in India.

This is my third year participating in One Word, an alternative to New Year's resolutions.  I kept 2014's word thru 2015 mostly because 2013 was more than half gone when I signed up but also because I felt I still needed so much work on that issue.  The same is true now so I was tempted to stick with 'joy' for another year.  But I decided instead to find a word to focus on that contributes to or is a component of 'joy' for me.  As of late last this week I'd narrowed it down to a handful of possibilities: accomplish, spontaneity, passion, breathe, belong and home.

While talking via vid chat with my husand the other day he asked if he could make a suggestion.  There was a word, he said that fit the criteria of being a component/contributer to 'joy' in his opinion and it was something he wants to encourage me to include in my life plus it could be said to subsume all six of my possible words:


accomplish = move toward my goals
spontaneity = move on a whim
breathe = moving air in and out of my lungs via exercise or meditation
passion = the energizing emotion that 'moves' one to act on desires
belong = to acquire my longed for sense of 'belonging' requires me to move out of my comfort zone
home = to move back 'home' which is not a building but wherever my husband is and to live with him and be homemakers together again that is my top priority for the year as it has been for two years running.

I will be doing a followup post or posts to explain the meaninfulness of each of those six words.  But one more thing I can say that is true of each of them (besides contribuing to 'joy' and involving some kind of movement) is that they each represent a particular challenge related to how the autism spectrum manifests in me.

My diagnosis in September has been both disconcerting and a relief.  Why it was disconcerting is probably obvious--it would throw any fifty-something for a loop.  But a relief?  well after several months of reading, research and processing of information and emotions I realized that so many of my shortcomings are not character flaws, were never about will power.  Many otheres were imaginary based on unrealistic images of unattainable perfection.  And yet others were never shortcomings in the first place.

Now that I've had time to process the diagnosis I'm starting to sense a direction in which to move in order to accommodate this reality.  I'm hoping that means I will be ready to blog more regulary again.  And not just about autism/Aspberger's but about all the things I used to blog about: reading, writing, research, videos, music, fiber art, crafts, LOLs, ideas, spiritual path and Joy's story.  And let's not forget words!

Best Boy
by Eli Gottlieb
My first book of the year i Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb.  it was one of the titles that came up when I put autism in a search box.  It was one of the few novels I found that way and I'm very interested in seeing how autism is represented in fiction.

I've not finished it yet so this is not a review and I'm adding this commentary as a post script to this post because of the 'First Book of the Year' meme at Sheila's Book Journey.  A bit of a last minute thing as it isn't even still January 1st where Shelia lives.

I also added it to this post instead of in a separate post because images from the story kept intruding as I was writing about 'move' above.  I realized that the narrator/protagonist in Best Boy, a man in his fifties who'd been committed to an institution at age 11 after his autism diagnosis, had been on the move from page one.  He was moving both physically and emotionally, including in both cases outside his comfort zones.  He was moving into new social circles and he even moved off the compound property (ran away) and walked the highways toward 'home' his single minded goal.  The courage he exhibits through all this is amazing and something I aspire to.


Monday, November 30, 2015

All Out of Words

NaNoWriMo Win 2015

I'm all out of words.

Plus I was supposed ot be packing for trip home.  And spend last evening with Ed.

Questionable priorities.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Yeah. I Know. I Know. Finish Something Already!

Scarf Crocheted with Diversity Yarn
 This Diversity brand yarn has an elastisity to it and they call it memory yarn.  I ti lace weight and soft enough for baby  blankets.  This is another of the yarns I got on my 2014 birthday shopping spree.  I began this scarf for myself in January.  Had hoped to have it done before it was too warm to wear it last spring.  Ha.

I decided i wanted a hat to go with the scarf but wasn't sure one skein could do both so I tried to find more online.  Could not find the Zebra but I did find this:

And these are the colors of somebody on my list so I got it.  I'm winding it into a cake on my winder tonight and hpe to start a scarf tomorrow.

Yeah.  I know.  I know.  Finish something already.


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