Tuesday, November 25, 2014

temp garden - a photo essay: getting ready to move on

This amazing garden is mine for only a few more weeks. And then I'll be getting another but permanent plot to call my own.

The garden I have right now stretches down from the front of the house, round the side over a plush velvet lawn of moss and grass, down flagged pathways to the labyrinth and garage at the back lane.

There's a hug fir tree at the edge by the lane. We're keeping our car there right now - after storms, if I want to drive the car, I need to spend several minutes brushing needles off the windscreen.

Two squirrels fight over the garage roof and up the fir tree, disturbing the magnificent blue jay and the crow.

Two fruit trees press up against the verandah outside the kitchen windows. Covered in moss, they are playgrounds for the tiny chickadees as they hunt for bugs.

And you know about the labyrinth.

The fuschia bent to the frost, but these might be winter blooms about to burst.

I'm not sure if the tree near the front door is dead or not. Are those catalpa pods, or is it the fruit of the vine rambling, strangling up its trunk? I should take a stroll past the house in the spring to find out more.

I will miss this garden when we leave. Though it's essentially dormant right now, it has been a beautiful space to explore. I shall miss this place.

Monday, November 24, 2014

midlife monday: time in motion - time and motion

the daily pussy: bathtime
having the cat clean the bath helps with the chores
Time just vanishes.
I look back at my day and wonder why I didn't achieve more. Where did the productivity go, and how much did I earn? Why don't I feel more accomplished? What do I have to show for my day?

Today I kept a record - time, motion, tasks, much Facebook?

In terms of hours billable = 115 minutes
In terms of non-billable work = 120 minutes (though some of this will eventually convert)
In terms of tasks completed = 4
In terms of dollars earned = almost on track for my daily rate
But in terms of hours available = 7.5

But if I look at what I did do today, it might not be so bad.
In addition to almost earning my target daily rate, I also baked bread, managed about 30 minutes of volunteer work (mostly social media sharing), put out the recycling, presudaded the Neato/Roomba to wheeze around the house without getting lost, tackled some homework, checked in with the Realtor, popped in to the local bike shop to order panniers and rack for my own bike, and a widget or whatever for the Wee Guy's, caught up on correspondence, arranged a furnace service, restocked groceries, completed preliminary reading for three projects and browsed through some more science news, picked up the Wee Guy from school, baked muffins, made dinner and watched an episode of Dr. Who with the boys.

Keeping an eye on tasks done through the day, I noticed the following:
  • Around lunchtime I'm at my least creative and most likely to drift off into the blogosphere (where I read science news, catch up with friends, find interesting things to share ...). Although I tend to get the automatic jobs done first thing, maybe it would be better to tackle these during the midday slump.
  • Would assigning a dollar value to the non-billables like research, preliminary reading motivate me more? 
  • Domestic tasks tend to scatter throughout my working day - they are disruptive, and I should corral them into a defined day/hour. This is a danger of working from home I guess. Would it be better for me to step outside, work somewhere else if I feel too distracted?
One freelancer I heard presenting at a conference warned not to expect to bill for every single available hour - it was more likely to be half, and therefore adjust your rates accordingly.
If that's true, then today I was right on track.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

sunday scribbles

This week's writing revealed!

  • Only one piece of science copywriting: using a new workflow to characterise a common post-translational protein modification, phosphorylation, in the search for new ideas in pancreatic cancer in Pancreatic Cancer Phosphorylome and Potential Drug Networks. Looking at how cancer alters the basic shapes of cell proteins can hold a key to novel treatments, or give new biomarkers for earlier detection.
  • Not really writing, but more marketing - the Blackberry Artist's Christmas Marketplace is now open for your gifting pleasure until December 21st.
  • A brief post on how much the Philae landing and subsequent shutdown affected a bunch of hardened science communicators - Lost in Space #philae
Happy reading!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


A recent flurry of news on a study out of Harvard had me nodding my head in agreement this week. The research, which surveyed Harvard business grads, found that it wasn't kids and family matters that derailed women in forging ahead with career advancement - well, not directly.
No, the real culprits were the women's partners, thus proving the old advice to career-minded women to marry down if they expected to get ahead professionally.
There are certainly still enough barriers to women achieving work-wise - the #shirtstorm debacle summed most of these up in a nutshell, without even touching on the mummy track, the mummy penalty and all the special penalties due post-baby.
Being at the frontline of trying to create some kind of career in, around and in spite of my family, I can certainly vouch for the partner obstacle theory. And it's not done deliberately from what I can see - it's pure ignorance, rather like hapless Matt Taylor and that bloody awful shirt. There just isn't a clue.
While Dr. Taylor should have been a little ore self-aware on his choice of clothing, I'm not heaping 100% blame on my obstructing partner - his failure is mostly ignorance thought I suspect it's wrapped up in a good dose of higher earning power compared with my paltry work-from-home hourly rate (which I happen to think is pretty damn good btw - I'm very proud of getting here and I love my work).
The ignorance is cultural, and it manifests as extreme obliviousness to all matters domestic. I'm not going to even try to list the niggles, but suffice to say, initiative is seldom taken and I'm blown away by how little her considers. Again - not totally his fault as I don't think many men are wired to think domestically. I sort of guessed it would be difficult for him with me moving back into paid work since it would mean that technically I wouldn't be so available to manage the domestic/childcare duties ... or at least I naively thought that we would move into a more equal arrangement ....
OK - I've certainly made things easy by picking up the slack on groceries, meal planning, childcare, the school run, school admin, scheduling, housework, organising leisure activities and dates, laundry, household maintenance ... wait! this wasn't going to be a list.
It wasn't until we went through the selling process and the renting process and the packing to move process that I realised what a craply disproportionate load of the whole affair I was shouldering (I think I gave a blast of it on the blog at rock-bottom).
The problem with shouldering the domestic load is that it is energy-draining, mundane and monotonous - there's no respite, it is time-consuming, and it is not that rewarding. The rewarding stuff should be spending time with the Wee Guy, my work, being creative.
I should have enough energy to build on my fledgling career, tiny and limited though it is, there is real potential for it to grow into something intensely rewarding for the long term.
I should have energy and feel energised to appreciate time I do spend with my son, rather than have half an eye on a work assignment, finish off the housework while he does homework, or otherwise be so distracted when he's around.
I should feel that the parenting and the domestic stuff and the household income earning is being managed equally, instead of lopsidedly biased in terms of an hourly rate lording over actual hours spent.
I should have energy for leisure time - damn, I should have leisure time period. I keep mumbling vaguely about getting more exercise - it never happens.
What I shouldn't be feeling is constantly overwhelmed, snappy and exhausted.
I have cut so much out of my life to make time already that this is now all I'm down to. But maybe I should give up the work and the art, to concentrate on the domestic - it would certainly free up some time. I could ask for more help (again) - I could nag. I could instruct, draw up lists, project manage ...
But is that really all I'm here for? This is the 21st century after all and we are grown ups.

Friday, November 21, 2014

friday forte: and on to new worlds?


Thursday, November 20, 2014

spt20nov14: let christmas commence

where's Waldo Amanda?
Since I finished a huge whack of my college assignment last night, burning the midnight oil just a tad, I rewarded myself by going out this evening. Christmas Marketplace opened at the arts centre - ahem, the 18th annual Blackberry Artist's Society Christmas Marketplace to be specific.
It's a Christmas tradition in the Tri Cities, and one that I'm very lucky to sell at, since I am a member of the aforementioned artist society.

This year is our first selling out of the new shop space. It's a bright and airy space at the front of the arts centre facing onto St. Johns Street. There's more wall space for the visual artists and some central display space for larger pieces. It's usually pretty zen in there, but this evening - standing room only, and not for too long. Works were flying off the shelves!

This year, since mr ebb, the Wee Guy and I are in the middle of two moves, I don't have a huge amount of inventory in the marketplace right now. I have enough to "pay my way" but of course I'd like there to be more.

The society is more than just retail space though - it's a community too. We're a small group but oh so talented! At meetings and opening receptions such as this evenings, I'm surrounded by a very creative, friendly and supportive bunch of people.

Thirteen years ago, when mr ebb and I left the UK and moved to Vancouver, I lost my community, leaving friends and work colleagues back in London. I did it again when we moved to Port Moody nine years ago, losing contact with a lot of the new network I'd worked so hard to create on immigration here.

And this year, I nearly did it again. We were seriously considering moving back to Vancouver, for big city/small housing life. It nearly happened peeps! *gives self smack upside head*
This time, this move, I realised that for once I will not be giving up my network and won't face starting all over again.
I have my network right here and I'm staying. No hunting for a new grocery store or doctor.
I have my community - they are my knitting pals, the Blackberry artists, shop owners I say hi to, friends I leave my dying plants with, friends I bump into at events around the city, businesses I've interviewed and reviewed, the post office clerk who knows who I am when I turn up for parcels, ...
This is where I am me, and I'm not leaving.

... and i promise i will collect the plants ...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

wordless wednesday: silhouettes


ebb and flo by pomo mama design click to shop pomo mama design online!