Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Posts Tagged ‘gru

First revision of a short story – still more work to do!

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UntitledI just finished the first revision of my short story that I’ve been working on for awhile. First I scribbled all over it in red pen, then I set to typing up all of those changes. Since I was adding a character, many of the changes involved writing new stuff, and that’s where I always get stuck. I think, “I’m supposed to be editing!” and I get myself into a different mindset than the one that allows me to freely write rough drafts. I stuck with it, though, and now I’ve gotten one step farther in the process. I’ve only ever finished one short story before, and that was because it was for a class. Doing it again paves the way for more successes, since I’m learning more about my process and what works for me and what doesn’t. My hope is that eventually the process will go faster because I’ll be more used to it and it will become more of a habit.

Camp NaNoWriMo is just around the corner, and I’m trying to prepare myself to be immersed in my novel again. I have a lot of changes I have to make, and it will be mostly a complete rewrite. This is technically “cheating,” since the rules of NaNoWriMo are to write a new novel, but I am using NaNoWriMo as a motivational tool. Camp NaNoWriMo is cool because it puts you in a virtual cabin with cabin mates. When I first signed up, it was too early to have cabin mates, but now I have them! I’d better go introduce myself soon.

Last week, we had some spectacular thunderstorms. Gru is afraid of the thunder and lightning, but we enjoyed the storms. Storms are a perfect opportunity to hang out in a cozy coffee shop and write, or have a fire and hang out at home and write. See picture above: fire, wine, writing, and scared dog. A perfect memorial day weekend!


Written by nikkinbird

May 30, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Being busy and making kids cry

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Today was just one of those days. In the two separate half hour chunks of time I had to get things done, I couldn’t do it all, and felt pulled in so many different directions. Then I finally reached the home stretch. I prepared little baggies of goldfish for afterschool classes. I checked in all the kids for Homework Club, then marched them up to my room instead of the Library, because I’d forgotten that a staff meeting was using it today. Finally, to top it all off, I made two kids cry during homework club, one of whom was still crying when his mom came to pick him up. I felt horrible. And I still have about 5 different things I’d like to have done by tomorrow, which I’m not going to do tonight because my head feels like it’s going to explode.

On top of that, the Destination Imagination tournament is coming up fast (on March 10) and in trying to schedule extra meeting times for the teams, I’m seeing just how few calendar weeks are left for these kids to work on their projects, which they’ve barely started. I also had hoped that none of my teams would make it to the state tournament, because the fees get expensive. I found out, though, that one of the teams is almost guaranteed to go to state, because they are the only elementary team to pick the challenge category they’re in! So they are competing against noone and will advance by default!

Here is a picture that I like:

Written by nikkinbird

January 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Spinning tricks: spinning wheel mat and drying handspun yarn.

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It’s a delightfully rainy and stormy day here in Duluth, MN. Chris is out of town working so I’m left to entertain myself. I wanted to get out of the house, so I’m at Dunn Bros enjoying a latte. Yum! I’ve been spinning this weekend, and wanted to share a couple of tricks that I use when I spin.

On Saturday, I brought out my spinning wheel for the first time in almost a year. Since we’ve moved I kept putting off getting rubber feet to keep it from sliding on our hardwood floors. I tried some rubber feet Chris had bought for something else, little bubble-like things, but they kept sliding off because they weren’t sticky enough. I thought of getting a bath rug with a grippy bottom, but thought the wheel would slide across the carpet, too. Then, I thought of the perfect thing:

It’s grippy contact paper from the kitchen cleaning aisle at Target.

Another trick I thought I would share is how I weight the yarn when I dry it. I must be getting better at spinning, because my plied yarn seemed fairly balanced and not twisty this time, but I still hung it the way I usually do. I put one end of the wound skein around the top of a hanger. I used to put a soup can or other heavy can through the bottom loop, but recently have started hanging another hanger in the bottom to weight the skein. To make the hanger heavy enough, I put a folded towel on it. This way, the water that drips from the bottom of the skein drips onto the towel instead of the floor as it dries.

Puppy News
Gru is getting along just wonderfully at our house, and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog. The other night, when I went to Target to get my spinning wheel mat material, I brought Gru. Little did I know, I was driving straight into a thunderstorm. I could see it in the distance when I parked the car, and by the time I got out of the store it was right over us. I came back to no dog in the back of my wagon – he’d climbed over the seats and was huddled in a ball in the driver’s seat! He’s afraid of thunder, lightning, and, by association, camera flashes.

When Chris is gone, Gru sleeps on the bed with me, and he woke me up with a nose in the face this morning to let me know there was more thunder. Every time there was a boom or a flash, he paced nervously around the bed. Finally, in search of a small space to curl up in, he jumped from the bed to the top of his kennel.

Here he is looking very sad, trying to be in a small space between the wall and the clothes hamper:

I had to pick him up and put him back on the bed, and I finally got him to lay down by petting him. He’s gotten better about storms since we first discovered his fear. The first time we figured it out was because he woke us up by scrabbling under the bed. Now, he comes to us to be comforted, and will just lay on the floor as close to us as possible while making sad faces.

Spinning dog fur

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Last night I sat down to brush Gru for a bit, and I got so much fur I couldn’t stop. The craziest part was, I just kept brushing the same spot on his haunches over and over, and kept getting fur! He’s in full-on spring shed mode. This pile is just what I got from the right side of his butt. Just think what I’ll get as he starts shedding everywhere else, too! I plan to experiment with spinning his undercoat into yarn on my spinning wheel. See that look on his face? He’s afraid of cameras.


Written by nikkinbird

May 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Rainy day, sick day

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I guess I’ll take advantage of this rainy day to update my sad blog. I must get back into the post a day spirit! I would be working today, but I had to call in sick because of a bad stomach bug that’s going around the daycare. I came home last night after a day of twisting sharp pains in my stomach and fell asleep from 6:30pm to 7am. Over 12 hours of sleep, and I slept straight through!

It’s been busy around here, but sadly not busy enough in the crafting department. The good news is, I put in my two weeks notice at my part time job. It’s also sad news, because I’ve been at that place for a long time, and it’s a great place to work. However, I need my weekends if I’m going to make any kind of headway in my goals to start selling my crafts. On top of that, I’ve begun teaching community ed classes. This week and next, Chris and I are teaching an iPhone and iPod Touch Basics class. I was really nervous for the first one, but it turned out great! Then, the next two weeks, I have a beginning knitting class using my Beginner’s Garter-Edge Mitts pattern. I’m excited for that one, and for the possibility of doing more classes.

We’ve also been going on some nice hikes on the trail near hour house. These pictures are from a couple of weeks ago, when we still had some fresh snow on the ground. And we could still get more snow, here in Duluth!

This is Chris with Gru and our friend’s dog, Dak. We were dogsitting for a day. We went for a short hike on the Tischer creek trail, a little hidden gem in our neighborhood.

And here Gru is enjoying a sip of water from the creek. We’re so glad that he’s turned out to like water, because he’s going to get awfully hot in the summer! He likes today’s gloomy, chilly weather, and is currently sitting outside sniffing at all the fine scents in the breeze.

But don’t even let me get started on the fact that it turns out that he likes to chew wood knitting needles.

Written by nikkinbird

April 30, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Sunny Saturday

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Today was a very full day. Despite a couple of inches of snow that we woke up to Friday morning, it’s starting to smell like spring around here. Most of that snow, and the accumulated snow from all winter, is all melted away now, and it was 44 degrees today! Yep, that’s right, in Duluth, when it gets to be 40 degrees, we all crawl out of hibernation and do things outside like take walks by the lake and wear shorts. Well, I myself do not wear shorts, not even in the summer, but other people were.

Anyway, this morning started with a fiber rummage sale. I wouldn’t have even known about it if Chris hadn’t spotted a sign on the side of the road! The fiber rummage sale was held in the Duluth Art Institute’s building in west Duluth. It’s an old vine-covered brick building that used to be a library. It’s awesome! I grabbed up a whole bunch of fun stuff.


Various types of yarn. Big cones of wool, smaller cones of cotton, one of which is labeled as “rug warp,” balls of “weaving wool,” and three things of linen yarn. I’ll probably weave more scarves with the wool. I got the bag of cotton yarns because I’ve been wanting to try out tablet, or card weaving. I got the book Card Weaving by Candace Crockett last year and then later happened across a pack of pre-made cards for it, so I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. Inexpensive random yarns from a rummage sale seem like just the thing to practice with!

Then, for a total of $8, I got this:


and this:


The first one is labeled “raw wool” and the second is alpaca fleece. They both need to be washed and processed before becoming spinnable, but I decided this will be a learning experience. I figure that there’s a high chance that there won’t even be any very good, usable wool in that $3 bag, but it was a $3 bag of wool! It’ll be a good summer project to learn to wash and process it. I have high hopes for the alpaca, too. It’s full of VM, or vegetable matter, but already feels super soft.

After our short stint at the fiber sale, we went out for lunch, then ran home and got the pup for a walk. We went down to Canal Park and walked him on the lakewalk. We discovered that he likes going in water. Many huskies do not. Gru made many friends, human and canine, on our very long walk today. He’s so pretty and then when people approach him he flops right into them to get pet, so he’s a charmer. We couldn’t have asked for a better dog.


All in all, a very nice sunny Saturday.

Written by nikkinbird

April 3, 2011 at 12:35 am

Finishing mittens just in time for spring.

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Remember these mittens?


I started them back in…what? October? I remember bringing them to knit on during my breaks at my brand new job at the nursery school. Then, one day, I discovered that the second mitt was noticeably smaller than the first. I was knitting it at a tighter gauge because I’d gotten used to the two color knitting. Apparently, this disheartened me so much that I had no desire to work on these mittens all through the winter months, even though I had no other mittens. Yes, I got through the winter with a couple of pairs of fingerless mitts. Which, when your outdoor activity mostly consists of walking from the house to the car, and then from the car into work, suffices even in a Minnesota winter. I did also borrow some mittens from Chris when I needed them, so I’m not that crazy.

Now that we have Gru, I’ve been borrowing Chris’s mitts every day when we take him on cold spring walks in the morning and in the evening. So I decided it was high time I revived the mitten project.

Now, after a couple of days, my mitts look like this:


I started them up again just in time, too! We have a blizzard warning in effect for tonight and might get up to 11 inches of snow! The snow hasn’t started yet, but it’s been super windy all day, more so as the day went on. The wind practically pushed me to the door when I took the garbage out tonight. After work, Chris and I drove down to Brighton Beach to watch all the big waves roll in. Now, I can enjoy the sound of the wind pounding at the doors and windows from the couch, knitting and tea in hand. Mmmm.

Written by nikkinbird

March 23, 2011 at 1:51 am

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