Stately

Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

Some Kittens Have Names!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Two kittens, in Amazon boxes:

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Amazing what Amazon delivers.

So, some kittens have names. We've named the Aby Daenerys and the tortie Arya. 

Arya was pretty evident. She's a fierce little kitten with claws like needles. And she buries her business in the box like she buries her enemies.

Dany is apparently the Mother Of Mousies. We've never seen a kitten get so attached to a catnip mouse before.

More kitten shenanigans coming. But of course.

Filed under: Cats   Pictures         
4/16/2019 4:54:09 PM
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Say Hello To The Newest Kitten!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Finally, the Abyssinian has arrived!
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Isn't she a cutie?

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Of course, the first thing she did was find a high perch. What do you expect from an Abyssinian?

More later, including kitten names!

Filed under: Pictures   Cats         
4/16/2019 4:44:11 PM
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Meet The Kitten

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


You knew we couldn't be without cat for long. Meet the new kitten!

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She's a muted tortoiseshell, and if you know us with cats, you know we don't have a name yet. We're kind of waiting on her to tell us. Names usually become apparent to us at some point.

Have some more kitten pictures!

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That's probably enough cuteness overload for now. As always, check out the Facebook page for cat pictures and other things going on at Stately Barrett Manor.



Filed under: Cats   Pictures         
3/30/2019 3:08:51 PM
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Signs Of Spring

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


It's cold, but here are a couple of pictures to warm you up!

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Something is blooming in the front yard, and it looks like it might have survived a couple of nights of frigid temperatures. It's been in the lower 20s here the last couple of nights.

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Shadow on the fence.

Now I'm going to warm up so I can leave the house again. I have stuff to do!

Filed under: Pictures            
3/5/2019 11:52:40 AM
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Another Nostalgia Section Update!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Post Cards from Maryland and the Washington, D. C. area.


We lived there for a bit when I was younger. I'm glad we had the opportunity to visit Washington.

You'll find links to these cards on the travel page.


Filed under: Nostalgia   Houskeeping         
2/22/2019 3:20:47 PM
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New Stuff in Nostalgia!

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett




These items are from a cache of greeting cards that my Grandmother exchanged with friends around 1900. I handled these with care so you don't have to.

Enjoy!

Filed under: Housekeeping   Nostalgia         
2/21/2019 4:31:20 PM
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RIP, Midnight

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett



Midnight Louise joined our household in September of 2000. Each of the cats has had different personalities, but Midnight had some interesting quirks. She came to be known as Geek Kitty for her mixed feelings of curiosity toward and healthy fear of electronic gear. Whenever we got new tech in the house, she had to be there to check it out. When it got right down to it, she just wanted to be part of what was going on.

Except when she wanted to be left alone. 

Her favorite spot in the house may have been Paul's lap. He was most definitely her human. 

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I would often catch Midnight hanging around by the patio door as it approached time for Paul to arrive home from work. For then it meant Treats.

Midnight was most certainly a creature of habit. Things had to go according to procedure. And if she was displeased, she let us know - at high volume.

In fact, the last year or so The Song Of My People has been a fixture on my Facebook feed. Whenever Paul left for work in the morning, she would walk into the office, sit next to his chair, and complain at high volume. She would demand handouts from and complain when she didn't get them, meaning those complaints were frequent.

Unlike Abby, who loved the camera, Midnight would often shy away when someone wanted to take her picture. This is why I don't have as many pictures of her to share. Abby seemed to know I was going to share her pictures with her adoring public, so she took the time to pose. Midnight was just not interested. I have more shots of black blurs in my photos folder than I can count. Her reticence also made it a little difficult to keep up the Catmas Card tradition, but we managed.

For all her quirks, Midnight was a loving cat. She would come sit with someone when they were sick. And she was almost always available to be petted. 

Midnight also ended up as the mascot for Steam Cat, my handmade goods business. You can check out her and Abby as Steampunk cats in our 2009 Catmas Card.

Midnight was 18-1/2, and until a couple of weeks ago she could still jump up on the bar stool for treats.

Enjoy cavorting in the land of endless treats, Midnight. And say hello to the other cats while you're there.



Filed under: Cats            
2/4/2019 3:41:06 PM
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Pay The Writer. And The Artist. And The Freelancer...

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


I'm killing some time until I the current batch of coasters can be moved indoors to finish drying. So, a rant, of sorts.

Harlan Ellison famously ranted about paying the writer. He was not wrong. You should pay the writer. Or the artist.

When you see someone at a table at a con drawing complex sketches with seemingly little effort, you don't see what got them there. Study. Practice. Enough wadded up bits of paper to recycle into a couple of reams or more. Supplies, which tend to get more expensive as the skill level improves. And you think a buck is fair for that sketch?

When you read a work of fiction, you don't see all the writer went through to laboriously craft that work. All the education, reams of paper, the drafts, the trunked manuscripts, the proof reading. And, if they're self-published, the hours of formatting it so your e-reader doesn't fall over and crash into the swamp when you open the file. Do you think a buck is fair?

To be fair, that writer may have the opportunity to sell many copies of that work. (And yes, there are many nuances to e-book pricing. I get that. The point is, the writer has bills to pay just like you do.)

What about the writer of copy? This is something I've done for years, though not as much these days because everyone's charging $5 for hours of work. Let me tell you what I do when someone asks me for copy for a product or for an ad:

1. I sit down with the client and talk about the product, the audience they're trying to reach, the publication(s) that the ad may be intended for, and so on. They may present me with market research. That's awesome, and saves me some time. If I don't have to do that, my next step is:

2. Research the competition on my own. Look at the language in ads targeted to the same demographic. Is that ad successful or not? Is someone using the same words or imagery that I had in mind? If so, then I need to look at different ways of presenting the information. If the client wants me to go in a different direction from their competitors, I have to know what those competitors are doing so I can take a different path.

3. I sit down and write copy. I usually have to go through several drafts. When I have something about ready to take to a client, there's one more thing I have to do:

4. Use a search engine. Is anyone else using those slogans I came up with? Did I inadvertently use something that's Internet slang for genitals or a sexual act? Or something that someone considers racist or otherwise offensive? Our language is changing at the speed of the Internet. Our slang is changing just as fast. It's important to be sure I don't make my client a laughingstock. And then, should they ask why I didn't use that awesome slogan they suggested, I can say, "well, about that..." 

5. Polish again.

6. Turn it in to the client. This often leads to more edits, more massaging of the copy. It's not easy to hit a bulls-eye the first time because I'm not clairvoyant. The client may have changed their mind on something, too. If I'm doing an ad for a tech product, it's possible the specs changed. (I used to work in that biz. Happened all the time.) 

7. Final approval by the client.

9. Invoice for the amount previously agreed upon, which is a lot more than five bucks.

10. Payment. Ker-ching! 

And I hope 10a doesn't come into play: Dunning the client for payment. Honestly, the vast majority of my clients have paid up and on time. I've had some ask me to hand deliver an invoice, and I would leave with a check. It doesn't get much faster than that, save immediate electronic payment. 

Anyway, when you see an ad in a publication or online, you probably don't think about all that went into making that happen, and the people who need to get paid for their time. Unless you're a freelancer like me. 

In that case, don't nod your head so fast. It might fall off. ;-)



Filed under: Writing            
1/28/2019 3:48:19 PM
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Bad Dreams Are Made Of Win - Sometimes

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Last night I had what I call the "horror movie" nightmare. I'll spare you the scenario, but I was with three people and I left two of them in a safe spot in order to rescue someone who had been removed from the group. We were on our way back and were surrounded.

No way out.  

This is the moment when I woke up with my heart pounding and my lungs working overtime. It was one of those situations where I couldn't shake off the dream and kept trying to figure out an exit. "You're supposed to be a writer, dammit, you can do this." Of course, that just brought on another level of stress, so I picked up my tablet to read and was out again in maybe ten minutes. Distraction is good sometimes.

Most of answer came to me this morning while I was brushing my teeth. I was trying to do the self-rescuing princess thing. Is it okay to be rescued sometimes? I came to the conclusion that of course it is, particularly when it leads to major character development on the part of the rescuer(s). The other two people happened to be women (as was the person I rescued), but one of those two would have to overcome some almost paralyzing fears in order to even leave the safe spot, much less take part in a rescue mission. The other woman was someone we had picked up along the way, so they had little idea of how to motivate the other person, much less get them to calm down in a stressful situation. 

Tension! Conflict!  

But also, teamwork. This would mean that my job was to stave off the monster attack for long enough for the other two team members to do the job. 

So, how do they do it?  

I have some ideas. This is a story I probably won't write, but it applies to a WIP right now, so it's worth at least trying to think through it. I tend to overthink things when I put my protagonist in a bad situation, and so this gives me hope that I can move forward. 

Win.

Filed under: Writing   Life         
1/6/2019 12:12:36 PM
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My Not A Resolution For 2019: Respect

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett


Hey, I managed to type that title without messing up the year! Score one for me, particularly since I was just looking at an envelope with a 2018 postmark. I'll take the small victories.

I dislike making resolutions for a number of reasons, but the top one is that most fundamental changes that people make don't depend on the turning of a calendar. If you can make resolutions and get them to stick, more power to you. The first time I even hiccup after making a resolution I tend to beat myself up, which brings me to the Not A Resolution for 2019:

Respect.

Respect, in my mind, is at the root of so many problems. Not just personally, but in America, in particular. I'm going to be skirting on the political with this, but bear with me. Just look at the comment section of your local newspaper or on social media. Someone has an opinion, and the attackers pile on. There's very little respect for differing viewpoints, and I have to wonder if that's rooted in a lack of self-respect. People attack others to feel better about themselves.

Respect isn't just lip (or keyboard) service. If an employer respects an employee, shouldn't they pay that person a wage that covers at least the basics? A minimum wage can't cover the rent in many areas now. Yes, I know all of the arguments. Why, prices will go up! People should get a better job! Or a second job! Are there no poorhouses? I have to think that people who feel disrespected have trouble respecting themselves. It's a downward spiral that's tough to break free from. I know this first-hand.

And this is where my Not A Resolution comes in. I've dealt with a lack of respect for several years. Respect for my time, respect for my talents. There are people who seem to think that since I (or someone like me) works from home, that they won't mind taking on this big volunteer job at the last minute because someone else has something important to do, or just doesn't feel like doing the task. I find myself avoiding some social situations because I know someone is going to try to push something on me, or demand to know why I haven't done that thing they pushed off on me. There are people who think that thing that I'm selling for barely more than the cost of materials is too expensive. I've lowered my prices to make more sales, and it's getting me nowhere. There are people who think it's perfectly fine to pay five bucks - a month down the road - for a day of work. 

None of this pays the bills. All of it wears me down. Why should I respect myself if no one else will respect me?

Let's make no mistake that I bear the fair share of the burden for this situation because I've allowed it to happen. I've taken on things when I shouldn't have for several reasons. Sometimes I hope it will raise my profile. It rarely does, at least not in a helpful way. Sometimes it just makes the "sucker" target on my back larger. And yep, I want people to like me. I'll spare you the angsty childhood stories, but suffice to say that this has always been an issue. So maybe I just need to learn to like myself.

Here are the things I'm going to be doing this year:

  • Learning to say no, and how to do it with respect for others.
  • Taking more care with how I interact with other people.
  • Valuing myself more. This may mean raising my prices. It's certainly going to mean putting myself first a little more often. This isn't being selfish. It's what's now called self-care. I put off doing things just for me, like taking a break or going for a walk because I've let myself get talked into doing things I shouldn't even be doing. And then when it comes to doing the things I need to do, I shoehorn them in or drop them entirely because there just aren't enough hours in the day. I'm stressed all the time because of this, and that cannot continue.
  • Buy more things from indie artists and writers. I've already started down that road, but I intend to keep on it. But hey, I have to earn some money so I can buy some things!
  • Step back a bit from social media. Not only is it a time sink, but it's not good for me. I need to get some different perspective. 

So, that's my Not a Resolution for 2019. 

Filed under: Life            
1/2/2019 3:48:24 PM
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