Since the FBI announced this week that starting in the new year it will begin tracking cases of animal cruelty nationally, it feels appropriate to share Jane Goodall’s quote about recognizing not only that our daily lives make an impact on the world around us, but also that we must choose what kind of difference we would like to make. Long-time readers know my heart is with the animals in that regard; one of the (many) reasons Gayla is firmly in BFF-land is her choice to support foster and rescue efforts in her small town. This year, now that we have a little extra (thanks to everyone who’s been buying my books recently!), I plan to up my support of Best Friends–a no-kill shelter in Utah dedicated to saving all unwanted pets. In fact, there’s a holiday gift match in place there this month, and I highly recommend their programs and philanthropy.
The other impact I can have is supporting hubs as he ramps up his practice in our new location. So that meant this week we spent a lot of time revamping his patient materials and adjusting some things in the house to make new patient experiences here convey properly on a more professional level.
What that meant from a practical standpoint: The majority of my non-day job, non-sleeping/eating hours were not available for fiction writing. All told, I added 1,038 words to my WIP this week. I finished NaNoWriMo with a whimper, not a bang, my biggest achievement having been adding at least a few words every day for the 30 days of November. I keep looking at pictures of Maine Coons to keep me motivated to continue. (If, someday, The Builders is a real novel, you’ll get to read about Bear, the Maine Coon in it.) By the end of the week, we were both so exhausted, we only had energy to cuddle and watch movies.
The first was “Philomena“, apparently a Steve Coogan passion project, as he co-wrote, starred in, and produced the movie. It told the story of a young Catholic girl abandoned (disowned by her family) to a home for fallen women, where she surrendered her much-loved son in a forced adoption. This was paralleled by and contrasted with the journalist who only half-willingly takes on her human interest story after he’s sacked from his position. This is another instance of a brilliantly told tale in the understated British style of unfolding events logically, grippingly, and with no need for special effects, chase scenes, explosions, or other normal cloak and dagger story add-ons. The level of investment we both had in the main characters by the end of it was profound–and deepened the impact of such memorable lines as: “‘I forgive you.’ ‘What? So that’s it?’ ‘Don’t dismiss me so easily. That was hard for me. I don’t want to be like you.'” Thinking of that seminal scene still brings tears to my eyes. And the follow-on, in the midst of those profound emotions was a snicker line hubs and I are still quoting to each other. It’s very worth watching in its entirety.
The second was a Shirley MacLean film, “Elsa and Fred“, which documented the late-in-life relationship as it budded between the two titular characters. We had high hopes for it given the long list of great actors involved (including Christopher Plummer, Marcia Gay Harden, Chris Noth, and Scott Bakula), and it was an interesting story… but it felt somehow ungrounded. Which may have been the point: It seemed to still be trying to live in “the real world” while its characters lived internal, somewhat disoriented, deteriorating lives–and who were therefore enthusiastic about grabbing what joy they could in the moments remaining them. It was like a teenage love story for the 70-+ set, and worth supporting just because it’s nice to see mature actors in non-caricature roles, but hard to endorse with much enthusiasm because of some of the incongruities in the characters themselves. If anyone else has a different take, I’d be interested to hear your perspective.
News that didn’t involve shooting and killing was again hard to come by this week, but I did run across one story that kindled some interesting background thoughts for my Red Slaves series: There was a tribe of Pazyryk people in the Altai Mountains of Siberia. They buried their women with pomp and circumstance, and further investigation of one of the burials uncovered this week pointed to the proof of existence of transgendered/sexually fluid individuals 2,500 years ago. I don’t know if it will actually make it into the book currently underway, but it’s certainly food for thought.
As for the walking goal… Also short. I ended up with 36,665 for the week, which means I’ll need to walk at least 46,170 steps next week to reach the end of the challenge. Luckily, hubs’ ankle is healing and we took our first longer walk in a few weeks yesterday. We have plans to up that pace this week, so I may be able to catch up.
This week should be less hectic, so I hope to return to my previous fiction and walking productivity. In the meantime, check out how my ROW80 companions are doing with their goals.