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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Leonardo da Vinci and Ritalin

If Leonardo da Vinci was an American child in the 80s, 90s, or maybe even now, it’s a good chance he would have been diagnosed with ADD: attention deficit disorder. Clinically, that means the person has a problem, that he has trouble concentrating and controlling impulses. To me, it just means his brain is working faster and over a wider spectrum than ‘normal’ folks. The standard ‘remedy’ for this is medication. I don’t believe this lack of focus is a fault, but only a character aspect. And if it’s not broke, don’t (try to) fix it. 

{Note: I’ll probably get lots of flack about this. But opinions are like nose hairs, everyone has at least one. If you don’t agree with me, so be it.}

Leonardo is my hero. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I think of how much this guy did. And no, I don’t think he was, or needed to be, medicated. So what if he couldn’t/wouldn’t focus on whether he wanted to be a painter, mathematician, inventor, sculptor, cartographer (map maker), geologist, musician, engineer, writer… He still accomplished a lot in his short (67 year) lifespan.
Shoot! Sympathize with him?—I identify with him! Do I want to be a gardener, author, photographer, create hundreds of gluten-free recipes, quilt, compose songs, cross-breed roses, invent a fool-proof gopher/slug/deer deterrent, sell tractor parts, design web pages, crochet afghans or sweaters… Nope, I can’t/won’t focus, either.

I felt so strongly about the bad press that ‘over-stimulated’ folks received that—while in author mode—I made sure some of my characters had that same trait.

Here’s an excerpt from Aye, I am a Fairy:

“You know, it may seem like I’m a bit hyper,” she said suddenly. “I mean, look at me; I’ve got at least five different projects going on here. But it’s okay. When I get bored or stumped with one, I just move on to the next one. Mom told me it was because I was ‘highly intelligent.’ She didn’t believe in all that attention deficit disorder stuff. She had the same thing going on when she was in school. She’d finish her work early, get bored and start doodling or daydreaming, and then miss what the teacher had just said. Her mother told those teachers that they weren’t going fast enough for her daughter, and if they wanted to really help her, they would give her something else to do when she was finished with the assignments. So, they let her go to the music room and play the piano. The music teacher showed her the basics. Mom took off from there with just a stack of music books to guide her. Man, she was motivated. She’d rip right through her schoolwork just so she could go do her thing in the music room. Her grades went up and, even though she never did anything with it, she learned how to play piano pretty well. Me, I just drew and doodled until high school. Then, once I started being home-schooled, I dropped the doodling and blasted through everything so I could go to college early, get my degree, and make enough money that I didn’t have to worry about bills.”
Oh, and I created a time traveler named Leonardo da Vinci the elder. Look for him in NAKED IN THE WINTER WIND, the first book in The Fairies Saga series. He’s not the same as his son, my renaissance hero, but quite the character, just the same.

Yup, writing novels doesn’t produce new hardy and unusual roses, nor will it cover my lap with warmth like a quilt or afghan (unless my laptop overheats), nor will it produce fantastic gluten-free brownies, but it does let me implant personable or irritating traits in people whose body size, color, and gender I determine. These folks may lack social security numbers, but they will definitely raise a heart rate, cause a tear, or illicit a chuckle.

And I couldn’t have done any of it if I had been able to focus.

Dani Haviland is author of The Fairies Saga. Time travelers, interacting with 'fictional characters,' bouncing between the 21st century and 1780s North Carolina (and later Australia!).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunscreen or scarf? Tanktop or hoodie?

Spring is here in the Lower 48. What to wear wasn't a problem when I lived in least for nine months out of the year. Now that I'm in Oregon, getting dressed for the day isn't so easy.

Yesterday, the sun was shining, I had four young folks from my church coming over to do some yard work (establishing the innards of my new raised bed garden plot: weed barrier and compost/soil mix), and I made sure I had cups of ice and loads of drinks to choose from for the hard-working crew.

Maybe I should have made hot cocoa instead. One minute, we're all in tee-shirts or other short-sleeved wear (my ever-present scrubs), the next minute, all but one of us had donned hoodies. I'm sure Joseph would have, too, but he didn't come prepared.

Erratic weather is everywhere. The same northwest weather pattern that blew so hard, it doused the electricity in my neighborhood for seven hours and dropped the morning temperature to 33 degrees also brought a late dump of snow to my old place in Alaska.

Is it global warming?

Nah. It's been going on for glacial generations. Call it what you will, but I say it's like false labor pains: just getting us ready for the real deal in a few weeks.

Plant the peas, but hold off on transplanting those tomatoes that are straining at the sides of the cut-down milk carton. Real summer will come eventually. Unless you're in Alaska. But even then, the relative warmth of that welcomed growing season will arrive.

But just to be sure, make sure you have both sunscreen and a hoodie nearby.

Pictured below is the first peony of the year (April 21) to bloom at my new old house. I don't know the cultivar, but it is an herbaceous variety, grew on old six-foot tall wood, and is huge. That's my wrist pulling it down so I could snap a shot.

Show your support of growing and reading by following me here:
Writing will have to wait until the sun goes down.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Goldilocks Syndrome

Okay, I’ve been MIA for nearly four months now. This Connecticut-born lass who grew up in the Arizona desert, then spent the last twenty-three years in Alaska has moved to Oregon. 
Yup, I'm in Eden. 
Arizona was too hot, and after all those years, Alaska just became too dark. A change was needed.
Actually, my dear husband spotted the signs of SAD in me. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder for those who don’t know. That means the lack of daylight brings on depression and lethargy. If one gets lots of exercise, works or plays outside to make use of the limited amount of northern winter sunshine, it isn’t a problem. I don’t ski or ice fish, and haven’t shoveled snow or made a snowman in a few seasons. I remembered to take my vitamin D daily, but the real thing was needed.
I’m content in my new, old (built in 1900) home. Actually, I haven’t officially ‘moved’ from Alaska. I’ve seen too many people say, “I’m outta here; too much cold,” and then return in less than a year. The usual complaint is that people ‘Outside’ are mean or rude. Alaskans are friendly, but so are Oregonians.
And  here I have sunshine and more flowering plants than I can count.
I’ll keep you posted, but it may be that the folks in Oregon, at least in my area, are just as nice as Alaskans. And that’s saying that they’re some of the greatest folks around.
Oh, and I can see the stars at night here. There was never enough dark in the summer for that stellar blanket to show in the Anchorage area, and in the winter, my frosty breath kept me from getting a good look. I’ll miss the northern lights, but they weren’t showing off every night. 
Instead, I'll cultivate, cut, and share the flowers that bloom, even in winter here.
(That's me last week in front of a 10' tall red camellia bush. It's sister plant, a pink camellia, was blooming in January!)
Enjoy yourself, wherever you are. And remember, unless your feet are planted in the ground, you, too, can relocate.
And maybe you can find your own Eden, Goldilocks.