Scrivener On The iPad

Scrivener On The iPad

Literature and Latte have just released the iOS version of Scrivener. I’ve touted the wonders of Scrivener elsewhere (here and here), and while I still use it extensively, I no longer use 750 Words. I still think it’s a valuable service, but I’ve moved all of my writing to Scrivener. I use Jarte for quick notes, which I later import into Scrivener, but all of my blogs are done in Open Live Writer and then copied to Scrivener. And now that I have Scrivener on my iPad, I’ll be reversing the process and doing everything in Scrivener, then copying it to Live Writer to post to my blog.

Let’s face it: as handy as they are, most of us don’t carry our laptops around with us everywhere we go, right? We have tablets for portable computing. My iPad Mini is my faithful companion (I’m going to ask Santa for a full-sized iPad Pro), and until now, getting articles from the WordPress app into Scrivener has been an arduous, complicated task. But no longer!

I’ve got Scrivener on both my PC and my iPad configured to save their files to DropBox, and to send backups to my iCloud account. I also have a 3 terabyte external drive that automagically saves all of my files, so I am in full compliance with Robyn’s First Rule of Computing. Remember that one? It says Be Paranoid and Compulsive!

The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Or, in my case, about 2,600 miles. Next month will find me on the road (well, to be honest, the rail) to Seattle, WA. Stacey and I have finally decided the time is right to head home to the Upper Left Coast. I’ll be traveling by Amtrak, and I’m bringing my iPad, laptop, and camera to document my journey. Stacey and Fyona will follow later by car.

Once again, I’ll be handling the entire project in Scrivener. It will go a long way toward weaning me completely off MS Word, which with each “upgrade” becomes harder and harder to use.

But more on that in a future post.

My Name is Robyn, and I’m a Bookaholic

My Name is Robyn, and I’m a Bookaholic

I guess it started in the second grade. That’s when I realized that I had an unusual talent: I could read out loud better than most of the others in my class. So much better, in fact, that when it was time for reading class, Miss Sullivan would hand me a book and send me down the hall to read the book to the kindergarten class.

That was when I realized that I had a problem: I was addicted to books.

As I grew older, the problem worsened. A typical day in high school would find me in the library after school, devouring book after book, desperately trying to slake my thirst.

Novels were my drug of choice, although a good story line, like that in “Cyborg,” would send me to the encyclopedia, where I would search to see if the plot was reasonably accurate. (Incidentally, that book, written by Martin Caidin, was the basis for the hit television series, “The Six Million Dollar Man.”)

I think I read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon in two afternoons.

The Fault, Dear Brutus

The fault lay not in my stars but rather in my genes. My mother was a genius who could read an entire novel on the subway ride from Hunter College to her home on Kingsland Avenue in The Bronx, and I inherited her love of reading.

Couple that with the grandparents who had bestowed on me the entire My Little Golden Books library, along with a doting aunt whose favorite gifts at birthdays and other gift-giving occasions were books, and I didn’t stand a chance.

No, I’m not blaming them for my addiction. At worst, they were merely enablers. I and I alone am responsible for my inability to cope without the crutch a good book furnishes.

And now it seems I’ve passed my addiction on to my daughters, one of whom seems determined to pass it on in turn to her children.

How To Tell If YOU Are An Addict

It isn’t hard, but if you’re not sure, let me direct your attention to this page.

Here’s another clue:

dream home

This is all you think about when you picture your “dream home.”

Well, I’ve got to close for now: it’s almost time for my bookaholics support group meeting…at the city library.

Robyn

And So Another Journey Begins

And So Another Journey Begins

I’m about to undertake another journey. But this time it’s an actual—as opposed to metaphorical—trip.

The time has come for us to bid farewell to Rochester and return to the Pacific Northwest. Or, as I usually refer to it, The Upper Left Coast. Seattle, Washington to be exact.

I was born in New York City, and I’ve lived on the East Coast for many years. But I’ve spent the majority of my life west of the Mississippi, and I’ve always considered myself a West Coast kinda girl.

Stacey and I have resolved most of the issues that brought us to Rochester in the first place. My daughters are in Seattle, as are our three grandchildren. It’s time to pack up what we’re taking with us, give notice to the landlord, and head home.

There are things I’m going to miss about Rochester. Volunteer work at Strong Memorial Hospital. Fun times at the Gay Alliance. Great coffee at Equal Grounds. Walks along the Genesee River, or through Mt. Hope Cemetery.

But then there’s Pike Place Market, or Snoqualmie Falls. Ferry rides to Bainbridge Island. Gaslight Park. Old friends I’ve known since the early ‘70s. Family.

The Logistics

Since the vehicle I’m driving is on its last legs (I don’t dare drive it outside of Rochester, or on the Interstate), I’m going to sell it to a junkyard and take the train.

The last time I took a train anywhere was from Lake Bennett, Yukon Territory to Skagway, Alaska. And since we had just come off 5 days hiking the Chilkoot Trail, we were relegated to the baggage car.

Before that, it was 1959 and we had just returned from Japan. We took the train from Oakland, California to Kenosha, Wisconsin where my dad took delivery of a 1960 Rambler station wagon from the factory.

Why the train? In a word: baggage.

Careful searching might find lower air fare, but the train lets me take 6 pieces of luggage in addition to my carry-on bags. And when you’re moving an entire household, that’s important. Stacey says we should sell or give away everything but the essentials and replace them when we get there, and I’m down with that.

Another benefit to the train: free Wi-Fi. 3 days is a long time without the Internet when you’ve nothing else to do. Besides, ground-level photographs are much more interesting than the same view from 30,000 feet.

And So It Begins

It makes more sense to start packing and cleaning now, doing a little each day, than it does to leave everything to the last minute, so that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll get back to you later.

Robyn Jane

Let’s Talk About Smoothies

Let’s Talk About Smoothies

But first, what are we talking about? I’m going with the MacMillan dictionary’s definition: a drink made from fruit, milk or cream, and ice cream. But I always say if there’s ice cream, it’s a milk shake.

Smoothies are all the rage these days, as if they’re a brand-new discovery. Don’t make me laugh. I had my first smoothie in 1972, and Mediterranean and Eastern cultures have been pureeing fruits and vegetables for centuries.

What makes smoothies so popular today is, I think, a combination of factors:

  1. Decent home refrigeration
  2. An increase in the interest in healthy eating
  3. Inexpensive home blenders
  4. The fact that while we have gotten older, we ‘60s hippies refuse to die

So What Makes a Smoothie a Smoothie?

As Hamlet said, “Aye, there’s the rub!” What is a smoothie, anyway?

I’d say that there are as many “official definitions” of the smoothie as there are varieties and recipes. And there are tens of thousands of recipes on the Internet alone, which doesn’t include recipes in people’s card file boxes.

A smoothie can be made with anything, but for the purpose of this post, I’m going to insist on some basics: fruit, liquid, veggies. I’ll also allow some options: sweetener, flavor, and some energy. Finally, if you like it creamy, go for it!

image

In addition to an energy boost, many of these ingredients also add a nice hit of protein.
And there you have it: a smoothie!

Blenders For Smoothies…and Milkshakes, Juices, Etc.

When it comes to mixing drinks or creating smoothies, two kinds of blenders come to mind: countertop and hand-held (also called immersion) blenders.

Countertop blenders can be heavy-duty or conventional. Heavy-duty blenders are designed to hold up under constant use, and are usually the kind found in commercial establishments. Conventional blenders are best for low-intensity tasks, such as making smoothies or milkshakes.

A newer type of personal blender has made an appearance on the scene. These are basically conventional blenders designed for lighter use, mainly for creating smoothies. Their mixing chamber doubles as a to-go container, allowing you to make your smoothie at home and take it with you.

Immersion Blenders

Also called hand-held or stick blenders, these are designed to be placed right into the mixing container along with the ingredients:

image

 

I use an immersion blender, only because my wife has a conventional blender, and we don’t wish to duplicate appliances when we rejoin households. In addition to the cutting/puree blade shown here, it also has a whisk attachment.

And while I don’t endorse any particular brand over another, I would like to direct your attention to this article at Bon Appétit which will show you the advantages of using an immersion blender.

I will say that my immersion blender was a low-end device; I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that I was only going to use once or twice. But I’ve had it for a week, and I’ve used it several times each day. It makes excellent smoothies, and I’ve used it on frozen fruit, baby carrots, bananas, and baby spinach leaves with no problem.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to use my immersion blender and make myself a Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Milkshake.

A Letter

A Letter

(Today I received a copy of the eulogy delivered at the interment of my father’s ashes in the cemetery of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Albrightsville, PA. My stepmother was find enough to send them to me.

This was my reply.)

29 June 2016
Rochester, NY

Dear Joyce,

I received your letter with the copy of the eulogy at St. Paul’s today. Thank you for sending it.

Although it’s been almost five months, I still find myself crying from time to time whenever I think of my beloved father. Today was one of those times.

The one thing I never told him, and the one I wish I had, was that he was my hero. Although we didn’t always see eye-to-eye on many things, he was the one who inspired me to be firm in my beliefs. He often thought he was a failure at being a father; I remember sitting in John’s living room in Berkeley, California, one year and him telling me that he knew there had been many times when he had been too strict with me. My reply was that there were many times when he let me get away with things I would never have let my own daughters do.

I think Dad’s biggest disappointment was that none of us followed him into the ministry. I cannot speak for my brothers, but in my own case it was because I would have forever been trying to measure up to the high standards he had set…and knowing that in my own mind, at least, I’d have found myself wanting. Sadly, I was never able to find the right words to explain this to him.

It’s funny how families change from generation to generation. Their mother and I raised our daughters to be seekers of the truth, to stand up for what they believed in, and never to let anything hold them back. As a result, they grew up and rejected most of my core beliefs, and changed their religion. Yet I could find nothing wrong in this, nor even complain about it because, after all, it is exactly the way we raised them.

Joyce, I’m 66 years old now. I have struggled with clinical depression since birth. Add some PTSD, ADHD, agoraphobia, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder into the mix and I am truly amazed that I have managed to last this long. My life has been a long series of half-starts and failures. I cannot look at my life objectively and point to anything I have accomplished or succeeded at. I have been in and out of psychotherapy and hospital psychiatric wards. I have attempted suicide so many times that I’ve lost count. And yet…

And yet.

“Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

“I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.” William Faulkner, Nobel Prize acceptance speech, 1942.

These words are just as relevant today—perhaps even more so—today than they were in 1942. We live in a world where religion—originally devised as a way to unite people—is used to separate and divide them. It is a world where wars are being fought over which pre-literate society’s book of myths is truer than the other one.

We live in a country where you can be pro-war, pro-capital punishment, pro-hate, pro-racism, and still be considered pro-life. A country that was founded my people in order to exercise their rights to practice the religion of their choice, and whose descendants now use those same religions to deny other people their basic human rights. A country where a legislator can earn a quarter of a million dollars a year for working less than 2/3 of the time, and then say that $7.50 an hour is too much to pay a single mother who works 60 to 70 hours a week just to feed her child.

We put bumper-stickers on our cars that say “HUMAN RIGHTS ARE GOD-GIVEN RIGHTS” when we mean MY rights, and screw yours, Jack.

It’s a country where the Supreme Court has ruled that broadcast news media have the right to lie to its viewers (I’m looking at you, Fox News). A country where blowing the whistle on criminal wrong-doing by the government is itself considered a crime.

Our society loves to blame victims. The only way that I can understand why we do this—despite what every religion teaches us—is that we are only religious when it suits us. I honestly believe that no member of any religion—be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism or whatever—reads their sacred scriptures. Rather they treat them like a software End User’s License Agreement: nobody reads them; we just scroll down to the bottom and click “I Agree.”

And so I write. I write every6 single day of my life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a letter, a journal page, or a blog entry. I write to keep my sanity. It is the only form of long-term therapy that I have found to be of consistent benefit to me.

It keeps the demons at bay for just one more day. And puts off once more the question of “to be or not to be,” for as Hamlet told us,

“But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveler returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”

Forgive me, Joyce, if I have introduced dark clouds into your otherwise-sunny day. I’m afraid that this letter has turned out to be—like so much of my writing—a rather cathartic therapy session.

I miss my daddy. Even when we weren’t speaking to each other, I still loved him, and I missed him. Thank you for being such a wonderful part of his life, for the joy and happiness the two of you shared. And thank you for being a loving grandmother to my baby girls.

With sincere affection and gratitude,

Robyn