Monday, December 29, 2014

My Plants Are the Addamses

This weekend, we welcomed a new plant to our household, courtesy of my youngest sister. I've been thinking about getting more houseplants for a couple of weeks now, so this new addition was quite timely.

I've decided to name this round of houseplants after characters in the Addams Family, 'cause those are holiday movies, right?

Meet Cousin It. He hangs out in our bathroom and helps us with styling our hair.

Gomez here helps me write action scenes and rakishly good looking male characters. He also helps with choosing just the right cigar and playing with sharp pointies.

Last, but most certainly not least, is Morticia. She's all about being a muse and helping me with the more feminine aspects of life. Y'know, like organizing games of Wake the Dead and helping children choose just the right weapo-...err...TOYS to keep themselves entertained.

Hey, if I can't have a Gothic house with hidden rooms and trap doors, at least I can give the houseplants a little Addams flair, right?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - The Return

Now that the holidays have passed, maybe I can get better about responding to comments in a timely manner and visiting more blogs. These past two months have wrecked me.

Anyway, today is indeed Friday, which cues Friday Fictioneers, courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

Today's little story kind of makes me want to hop ahead in the series I'm currently working on. I'll have to file the ideas away, for now, since there a few things I need to get done before doing any more writing today.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright -Björn Rudberg

Genre: Speculative Fiction/Fantasy(ish?)
Word Count: 99 (Thanks, Rochelle!)

The Return
            How his former home had fallen into ruin.
            His father had built the stone wall with his own hands. Frederich remembered scampering up the stairs as a boy, eager for his mother’s stew.
            Life was simpler back then, before the years’ weight. His talent for the Unseen Arts had taken him far away from home. His training had granted him near immortality.
           Still, some questions held their answers in the beginning. His throat tightened with memory, as he trod upon the stairs. Nature had softened the rock he remembered under his feet.
          Nostalgia did the same to his heart.

(By the way, this epic music always gets me in the writing mood.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Modest Yule Celebrations This Weekend

Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice, fell on this weekend. I didn't attend any big ceremonies or anything, but I did celebrate in my own humble way with the hubby.

So many of the traditions viewed as Christian this time of year were actually taken from the various pagan celebrations. Those long ago conquerors did this as a way to perhaps ease the transition from the usually more naturalistic beliefs into a monotheistic point of view.

Those pagan roots are what I remember when I put my Yule tree up over the solstice, with a big star on top. Evergreen trees, like pines and spruces, represent everlasting life. They stay green throughout the winter, while other trees "die" by losing their leaves. For me, the star represents the return of the sun. (So glad the days will be getting longer again.)

The ornaments I put up were all either gifts, remnants of my childhood or things I made myself, like that white garland. That history adds another layer of personal meaning to the tree.

Yeah, we have a fake tree. Real trees are far too much work for my taste. And of COURSE we have a dragon and TMNT on our tree! Why wouldn't we?
For me, the act of taking the tree down after January 1st symbolizes saving the positives which had entered my life the year prior. Between then and Yule, it's a little reminder to celebrate what this life has to give us.

There was also a bit of cooking involved, since what's a celebration without some sort of feast? Hubby made an outstanding brisket with potatoes and green beans for dinner, and I baked another batch of muffins for breakfast with the last of the pumpkin puree.

Now to find more muffin recipes.

On the occasions I do cook, I do my best to put intentions of joy, good health and nourishment in with the physical ingredients. Naturally, I include gratitude to everyone/thing who sacrificed something to allow us sustenance, be it effort, life, expertise or anything else. Over the course of my ongoing studies, I've found many belief systems do something similar, but I first learned about it in my studies of Wicca and kitchen witchery.

Why shouldn't we add a little magic to our every day lives?

I think this batch is the prettiest to date. The two that came before didn't rise as nicely. I hadn't been filling the cups with enough batter before sticking them in the oven.
Finally, we invited dear old St. Bernie to the celebration.

St. Bernardus Abt 12 is extremely good beer. It's full of balanced flavor, and for something with 10% alcohol by volume, it's surprisingly easy on the belly. We found this bottle at Costco, but if you happen upon the chance to try it, I highly suggest doing so.

Out of curiosity, I did a little research on the St. Bernardus brewery. It's Belgium based, as indicated on the label, and actually originated as two separate Abbeys in France. Due to some political issues, they moved to Belgium, and eventually the brewery came from a union of ideas and recipes.

I did a bit of research into St. Bernard, too. I didn't care for a lot of what I found, namely his role in the Second Crusades, but two positive things stuck out to me. First, he denounced the massacre of Jews in the Rhineland* during that period of time, and when his words didn't do anything to stem the carnage, he personally attended to remedying the problem.

The other is his reverence for the Virgin Mary. It's thought by many people that Mary is the Christian embodiment of various Goddesses, and embodies the divine feminine within us all.

There's a lot we can learn from history, both from the overall story, as well as fractions of it.

All that from some truly excellent beer.


I hope everyone else who celebrated the Winter Solstice this weekend had a good time. I also hope all the Hanukkah celebrations out there are going swimmingly, and that the future holidays, like Christmas and Kwanzaa, go smoothly.

*I'm pretty sure the Rhineland refers to what's now western Germany, but names changed and boundaries so often redrawn back then that I'm not 100% on that.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Insect Underground (Aracnaphobes Beware)

First reaction to this week's prompt for Friday Fictioneers? "What is THAT?!" That was followed immediately by the image of a spider with a tiny cowboy hat yelling, "YEEHAW!"

And, yes. All spiders are named Floyd.

Thanks, as always, to Rochell Wisoff-Fields for hosting!

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Douglas M. MacIlroy

Genre: Um...buggy...fiction? (Who knows what they do when we're away)
Word Count: 100

Insect Underground

       The crowd of crickets rubbed their legs together in excitement and flies buzzed their wings at the announcer’s buzzing proclamation of victory. Every summer, when humans leave for their annual trip, insects of the yard gathered around the Web Arena to witness the battle between the generations of Spider and Cockroach. Ants ran contraband to the shady pillbugs, while butterflies circulated with offerings of nectar to more law abiding insects.
       When the humans returned, clunky feet and all, it would be back to business as usual. Bugs need to party, too, right?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesdays - Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences

So very tired this morning! Yesterday wasn't overly stressful, until just before the
webinar I attended about dyslexia.

Our pet rat, Mothra, has been sick for quite a while. Rats don't live very long, four years at the most, sometimes five, but often they only last two to three years. Our little Mothra was about two years old when she finally passed away in hubby's arms last night.

They're good pets, but I'm allergic to them. When I hold one, nine times out of ten, I break out into hives, and when I change a rat cage, I need to wear a dust mask to prevent an asthma attack. This little girl will hopefully be our last one for a while.

Anyway, on a more cheerful note, today's Tuesday, and we all know what that means! (Thanks go out, as always, to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting this super fun game!)

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"I don't think of dyslexia as a deficiency. It's like having CAD [computer-aided design] in your brain." - Neurodiversity: Discovering the Extraordinary Gifts of Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, and Other Brain Differences, by Thomas Armstrong, PhD

For those not in the know, one common trait shared by people with dyslexia is the tendency to think in pictures, otherwise known as being visual thinkers, which is why fields like graphic art, architecture, and highly visual forms of science (surgery, engineering, etc) tend to have a higher percentage of dyslexic workers than other fields.

Unfortunately, mainstream schools are geared almost exclusively towards verbal and logical thinkers, which means many dyslexics are left out in the cold from an early age.

Though I was fortunate enough to be identified as dyslexic at a young age, and enrolled in a decent public school, I still experienced a fair amount of that othering personally. If the topic interests you, I write quite a bit about my life as a dyslexic over on Alternative Wiring.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Unexpected Messages

Fitting prompt, today. For some reason, I've had messages in bottles on the brain, and this pic gives me a good excuse to get a little bit of that out of my system.

Friday Fictioneers couldn't happen without the awesomesauce Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

PHOTO PROMPT - Copyright – Sandra Crook
Genre: Realistic Fiction (Hey, it could happen)
Word Count: 100

Unexpected Messages

            Whenever she needed to heal, she went to the beach. Foaming waves comforted her, and the sand under her feet always cured her blues.
            Janie stared at the rolling water, wishing it could wash her problems away.
            “What’s the point?” She asked the sea and sand. “Why bother with anything when everything turns out wrong?”
            Something glistened in the last wave’s leavings. Curiosity overtaking frustration, she strolled over and picked up the object - a bottle with a screw top protecting a rolled up paper.
            When she removed the paper, Janie stared at its single line.
            “Tomorrow will be better.”

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Will this be a cold? A flu? Neither?

I could get all deep and philosophical about the chaos in the world today, but I'm wiped out today. My throat is sore, my sinuses are irritated, and it feels like my body's fighting something in my chest, too.

So, I'm addressing this problem in a multi-pronged manner.

First and foremost, I call upon the lieutenant of my White Blood Cell Army (WBCA) - LARRY THE LYMPHOCYTE!


Next, I'll continue with my homemade soup, and doing a few of the remedies I'd written about here. Though I may also pick up some Bronkaid to see if it'll head off the asthma attacks this thing likes triggering. I'd rather save my albuterol for the nastier attacks.

Lastly, I'm trying to take it relatively easy. This entry has been the most successful writing attempt of the day. The outline I'm putting together for my next hub is a complete mess.

I'm almost afraid to run spell check on it.

By the way, feel free to check out the new BookPal deal in my side-bar. They're offering up to 55% off some of their books.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Homemade Cleaners Quick-And-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes

Over the past year or so, I've been transitioning away from commercial cleaners to things like vinegar, baking soda, lemon and essential oils. This is because my body's always been sensitive to chemicals and strong smells. I mean, when I was little, overly processed hot dogs would give me terrible headaches, much to the annoyance of the adults in my life.

As I get older, I make more connections between what I've been using to care for myself and my home with chronic physical symptoms. I've realized that cleaners like bleach and chemical air fresheners trigger asthma attacks which leave me lethargic for days afterwards, and certain, mostly processed, foods mess with health in unsavory ways. So, in addition to cutting as many preservatives out of my diet as I can and trying to exercise regularly (HAH - winter has thrown a wrench in THAT), I've been transitioning away from commercial cleaners. I'm hoping that today's Topic Tuesday book will help me with that ambition.

Thanks go out to MizB at Should Be Reading for hosting this awesome weekly exercise!

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"In the Roman Empire, lead poisoning was a significant problem. Citizens boiled sour wine in lead pans to sweeten it, generating lead acetate, which was referred to as 'sugar of lead.'" (Page 17 of the Kindle e-book.) Homemade Cleaners Quick-And-Easy, Toxic-Free Recipes, by Mandy O'brien and Dionna Ford

Just the informational parts at the beginning of this book has already meshed with what I've studied in the past. I think I'll enjoy this book.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Monday's Unconscious Mutterings - Running Behind!

This week, I've decided to put myself on a schedule, so I could get all three blogs updated in the mornings, and work on fiction in the afternoon/evening.

Welp, that didn't happen today. It was because one entry took twice as long as I thought it would, but I guess that's just part of the challenge of time management. I've never been very good at estimating how long things will take.

Anyway, today I bring you the usual word association, Unconscious Mutterings hosted by Luna Niña.

  1. Fantasy :: Anime (I've been watching Sword Art Online lately. Not a bad show.)
  2. Square one :: Bingo?
  3. Impostors :: INTERLOPERS! (It sounds funnier in my head.)
  4. Hydrate :: Water, water, water
  5. Card :: playing
  6. Respects :: Last
  7. Big city :: NYC
  8. Alert :: Red
  9. Scrabble :: My nightmare game (dyslexia doesn't go well with spelling games)
  10. Neighborhood :: very interesting
Hope everyone's Mondays are going as well as can be expected!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Winter Woes

Lil' girl, you have no idea what adulthood has in store for you.

Friday Fictioneers couldn't happen without the wonderful talent and hard work of Rochell Wisoff-Fields.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright Janet Webb

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Word Count: 100

Winter Woes
            The dried petals reminded her of butterfly wings under glass. That’s what winter felt like to her – as if the world had died and was pinned in place. The pristine snow masked the springtime life she craved, like the colorful wings hid the insect’s stolen essence.
            She hated winter almost as much as the beautiful displays of death her father covered the walls of their otherwise cozy home with. Just a few more months, and she can play outside instead of being imprisoned in this warm cage, forced to trudge her way through homework.
            Being a kid was so hard.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Reproductive choices? We still have those?

Once I got the furnace working again today (fuse blew, and I didn't realize it until I talked to the hubby about it), I logged onto Facebook and saw the following post from one of my state reps.

I have a hard time trusting members of either big party, but Keith Ellison is one of the few I genuinely like. Sure, he's done a few things I don't agree with, but this sort of thing makes me glad he's still in office.

Anyway, between the family/wedding shenanigans last week, and the way the situation in Ferguson has so thoroughly saturated my news feed, I had no idea anything big regarding women's rights was even going on. So, to Bing I went, and found this article on the pregnancy discrimination claim being heard today.

It turns my stomach that this sort of thing is still going on. So many people are vehemently against birth control that health insurance companies don't need to cover it, and many of those same people are so anti-abortion that buffer zones around clinics which provide the service are now eliminated in Massachusetts.

Yes, because places like Planned Parenthood don't provide health services like pap smears, breast exams or ways to get in touch with low cost medical institutions for those who aren't lucky enough to have a high income. Now, you get to undergo abuse from overzealous strangers before an uncomfortable, but potentially life saving, preventative medical procedure! Huzzah!

But of course, if you're pregnant, heaven forbid you try working or ask for doctor recommended accommodations. My husband's knee injury ensured him lifting restrictions during his recovery period, but if I were working a physical job, and we decided to have a baby, would I be afforded similar restrictions? It would be my physical health at risk, as it was in my husband's case, but it would also be the life of my unborn child, too.

So, basically, these stories are telling us that we shouldn't be allowed to decide on when or if to have a baby, while others (perhaps some of those same parties) say we shouldn't be allowed to care for a wanted pregnancy while we work, because it shows some warped version of "workplace favoritism". Of course, NOT working is out of the question, because then we'd be leaches on society.

Ok. Got it.

So, basically, those of us who have uteri are super humans, right? We can will ourselves not to get pregnant without aid of contraceptives ('cause, y'know, if we DON'T have sex whenever our partners want it, we're frigid bitches, and if we get raped, it's our fault), and when we DO decide to let ourselves get pregnant, we have absolutely NO symptoms of said pregnancy until the baby magically appears in our arms. Then, we can return to work right away, because the almighty bottom line is more important than the needs of a newborn. I mean, birth is EASY, right? No chance of complications, either. Nope. None at all.

Yeah, I don't know what world these people are living in, but it's sure not the one I'm in right now.

I guess I shouldn't be all that surprised. I mean, the US is the only developed country that doesn't require paid maternity leave, after all. Even the job guarantee part of the federal law isn't applicable if the company has fewer than 50 workers or the pregnant person hadn't been a full time employee for 12 months before the pregnancy. And those federal breast feeding protections? They're only good for the first year of life (despite WHO recommendations for supplemental breast feeding until the age of 2), "reasonable breaks" don't need to be paid and there's no consequences to breaking the law.

Ugh. This is so frustrating. At least there are people fighting to make this entire situation a little better, even if they do have centuries if ingrained sexism to battle against.

For what it's worth, Peggy Young, I stand with you on this one. Here's hoping the case is resolved well, and some sort of positive change can be made.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Official Character Book SOULs.

I'm taking a break from putting my house back in order to do my Teaser Tuesday for the week, hosted, as usual by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

This week's book is a bit different than most of them, since this is actually an official character book for the Bleach manga by Tite Kubo. Yeah, I read manga and watch anime, but it takes characters which resonate with me and story lines I enjoy to keep my interest.

There's a lot about Bleach that I don't care much for, but the main characters, sense of humor and overall story hooked me from day one. Plus, it revolves around the junction of death and life, which is a sure hook for me.

Some folks might find it a bit morbid, but I've been fascinated by the topic of what comes after death since seeing a deceased great-grandmother coming down our stairs, and smiling at me when I was a little girl. Of course, I didn't realize it was her until I saw her picture a few years later, but I did know she wasn't exactly like my living family when it was happening. I wasn't scared, because she had such a kind, loving sense about her.

...anyway. I should save my ghost stories for future entries, huh?

In the meantime, here's the teaser, followed by a lovely illustration Kubo included after the full color character spreads.

"The world changes. It turns. Each time it touches the sun and the moon, it takes a new shape. The one thing that does not change is my powerlessness." SOULs. by Tite Kubo

(By the way, I'll respond to comments as soon as I can this week. I was exhausted yesterday, and coughing since Sunday, so if I can pace myself, that would be ideal. Thanks so much for your patience!)

Monday, December 1, 2014

Monday Mutterings - Lazy Day

Today's the first day in almost a week that we haven't had company or social obligations. It was wonderful having family here, but there's no denying the disorder our house has been thrown into, or the drain socialization puts on my energy levels.

Ah, well. It was worth it.

Anyway, today I'd hoped to get everything cleaned up, furniture back in its places and make a dent in the writing I have to get caught up on.

Did that happen? HAH. Nope.

Hubby also had today off, so we curled up together for a few movies, then ran a couple of errands, and now I'm updating this blog, procrastinating on the cleaning I have to do, munching on deviled eggs while eyeing the novel I'm reading.

Does that count as keeping myself busy?

Just so I can say I got SOMETHING I should be doing done, I'll wrap this entry up with this week's installment of Unconscious Mutterings, hosted by Luna Niña.

  1. Smug :: Mug
  2. Swan :: Song
  3. Ginger :: Bread
  4. Doctor :: Who
  5. Handshake :: Headshake
  6. Studies :: Religious
  7. Pond :: Across the
  8. Register :: Cash
  9. Surgery :: Brain
  10. Compass :: North

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thoughts on Black Friday

So, as with the past couple of years, Black Friday has already started in some places. With that ever earlier opening comes all sorts of controversy.

There's one corner that says retail employees should be allowed to spend the day with their families, while there's another that sides with the stores, and a third that just doesn't care.

Personally, I hate Black Friday. That's only partially because I worked in retail for over five years, and grew to despise the commercial side of the holiday season. Overexposure does that to a person. Terrible customers and poor management only added to my personal distaste, as does the feeling of having a religion I don't believe in aggressively shoved at me from every direction.

Do I look down on people who go out for it? Not at all. Have fun. Just leave me out of it (unless you like me enough to get me something).

My thoughts on the early opening? Well, that depends on the store's employment practices. Unfortunately, I know way too many stores force their employees to work this huge sales day, because it's the biggest one for them of the year. I've been personally put in that position a few times.

Work it or lose your job.

I don't agree with that attitude at all. Employees, even those who work in the service industry, should be allowed to have some down time with their friends and family. If they're fortunate enough to have a loving family with which to spend the day, they should be allowed that.

However, there are other stores that have other systems in place, such as having employees volunteer to work for the extra hours, and that sort of thing. Not everyone has people to celebrate with, after all, and the holiday is very tough for many folks. If they'd rather earn a few extra dollars, why shouldn't they?

For those of you who may be thinking about extra hourly holiday pay, like time and a half, that's not necessarily a thing in all retail environments. I've worked in some stores that offered it, but in others that didn't. It depends entirely on the store in question.

The core of the issue is how people are treated.

If you're a Black Friday shopper, respect the store associates. They're doing the best they can, most likely under pretty terrible circumstances. Do your best to be kind to them, and if they make a mistake, be patient.

If you're boycotting Black Friday, I urge you not to be cruel or degrading to those who want to take advantage of the deals. Many people can't afford the things on sale that day any other time of the year, and it could be the best opportunity they have to get things they need or want.

Low income does not mean sub-human, and luxuries here and there are essential to mental health. Even then, a lot of what's bought may be essentials, like clothing, shoes or winter wear.

We can't know anyone else's circumstances without knowing them personally, on a long term, sometimes intimate bases. The job markets in various places are far more brutal than a lot of folks realize, especially when barriers like prejudice (conscious and subconscious), lack of transportation or medical conditions are involved.

Please, endeavor to be kind, especially during this stressful time of year..

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Help For Ferguson, MO

Being white, I don't feel as if I can say much about what's going on in Ferguson outside of:
  • Black Lives Matter
  • It's utterly disgusting that racism is still the problem it is today
  • I agree with the National Bar Association that the prosecutor should recuse himself
So, instead of adding another opinion, I'm compiling a list of practical ways to help people in that area.

St. Louis Area Food Bank - I've heard quite a few kids from Ferguson rely on school lunch for their daily meals, and food is hard to come by when you don't have good transport. Donating to the food bank is a fantastic way to make sure more families get the food they need.

Ferguson Youth Initiative - This organization offers the youth in Ferguson a chance to get meaningfully involved in their community, and gives them the opportunity to use their voices.

Ferguson Municipal Public Library - From day 1, this library has had a huge presence in the community. It's offered classes when school was closed, and provides a haven for the residents. Apparently, they've seen a huge spike in donations, but libraries are always good options to support, especially this one.

NAACP Petition to Secure Justice for Michael Brown - This is an online petition sponsored by the NAACP for the Department of Justice to continue their investigation into Michael Brown's case. Just because the jury didn't indite Darren Wilson doesn't mean the legal options are completely exhausted, yet. It takes a second to sign, and doesn't cost a penny.

United Way Ferguson -They're offering assistance to people effected by the goings on in the Ferguson area. Tumblr user Anne Agnes was thoughtful enough to check them out on Charity Navigator.

Homeless Shelter and Supportive Housing

Domestic Violence Center

These all seem to be very reputable places, and I hesitate to support independent charities without checking them out thoroughly, but if you have any to share, feel free to comment, and I'll add more listings as soon as I can.

I can't promise that it'll be any time soon, since there's a lot going on in my personal life right now, and I have limited time for the internet until Monday morning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - The Housewife Assassin's Handbook

It's been a long day. Lots of cleaning, moving furniture and generally getting set up for company for the rest of the week. Yeah, I'm tired and in a little bit of pain.

Scoliosis and already weak wrists. Not a good combo.

Anyway, this week's teaser comes from The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, by Josie Brown. Thanks, as always, go out to MizB at Should Be Reading.

"The one you choose should be biodegradable, hypo-allergenic, and EPA-recommended, to ensure that it is devoid of phosphates and surfactants. A laundry detergent makes a great weapon, too! Just stuff it into the nose and mouth of your victim."

Yes, I'm enjoying this book greatly. You can find it for free on Amazon, by the way. (Perfect price.) I may need to check to see if there are any more available in the series.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Unconscious Mutterings - Mondays Need More Coffee

Happy Monday, all! Not a whole lot to say right now, so I'll just hop along to the Unconscious Mutterings, courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. Seal :: Cute, floppy animal
  2. Grown up :: Not me
  3. Rags :: to riches
  4. Collar:: shirt
  5. Fears :: too many
  6. Yellow :: Power to take down the Green Lantern
  7. Link :: Zelda
  8. Patrol; :: Car
  9. Fancy :: Feast
  10. Ears :: What'd you say?

Sunday, November 23, 2014


I'm so sorry, kitty.

I know you're the best kitty you can be, but...

...sometimes I just can't help myself.

I pet other animals, and whatever I do, I can't hide it from you.

If the fact you're curled up under my foot is any indication, at least you're quick to forgive my terrible transgressions.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - The Scent of Romance

As promised, a day late. Thanks go out as always to Rochell Wisoff-Fields for hosting Friday Fictioneers. If you zoom in on the picture, you'll see the two white signs on either side of the doors are for a bistro.

Nothing says romance quite like the Michelin Man.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Claire Fuller
Genre: Realistic Fiction ('Cause apparently that place exists)
Word Count: 100

The Scent of Romance
            Fumes from oil and gasoline burned her nose. The little candle in the dirty holder flickered in the dim lighting, and Margie worried the place would go up in flames. Why would anyone think to combine an auto repair shop with a restaurant?
            An even better question was, why would they think this would be a good place for a date?
            She managed a polite smile as a slab of greasy pizza was placed in front of her. Matt, the blond boy currently digging into his slice, was nice enough, but future dates were now out of the question.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Forced Vacation Day Today - Sort Of

Yesterday, I won NaNoWriMo! Yay!

Over 50K in under a month? Not bad, especially for a dyslexic like yours truly. I have a few more events to tackle in that particular story before I can actually say the zero draft is done, but 50K is a pretty decent milestone.

As an added bonus, getting started with this book has helped me figure out how to end the one that comes before it. Once I get this story done, I think I'll tackle that one, and whip it into some sort of presentable shape.

So, I took a break from writing, today. My mind's still on finishing the story, but my brain is grateful to have a break from writing. My poor hands and wrists needed the break, too. That carpal tunnel in my right hand began acting up towards yesterday evening, which was the final deciding factor in stepping away from the computer. Most of the feeling has returned, and pain levels there have declined considerably.

Good call on my part.

Today, I applied henna to my hair, did a tiny bit of cooking and a bit of cleaning, so there was some productivity involved.

Three things about henna:

1. It is HEAVY when it's setting in your hair. It's basically a thick paste applied generously to your entire head. My neck is very unhappy with me right now, and that discontent is migrating into my head. (Like, ow, 'n stuff.)

2. It takes forever to wash out. I'll need to give my hair another wash tomorrow. I didn't manage to get everything today, and didn't realize it until my hair was mostly dry. Ah well. That happened last time, too.

3. It takes a few days to fully settle. That's ok with me. I'll end up with some nice auburn hair, which works pretty well with my coloring.

Here's what it looks like as of a couple minutes ago:

Wow. I look pale. That probably has more to do with the fact I'm leaning toward my white desk light and less to do with ill health. I still wouldn't mind a hot cup of coco and some quality time with one of the books I'm reading, though.
At the moment, the red shows most in the places the sun had bleached my hair blond, but the rest should warm up relatively soon. It also does a great job of smoothing this mess into something relatively attractive and turning winter frizz into the natural curls I get in warmer weather.

Henna is great, even if it is something of a pain to use.

Anyway. Friday Fictioneers will happen tomorrow, along with scheduling a few blog posts, hopefully in the morning sometime. I have a fair amount of cleaning left to do, but at least it's nothing overwhelming.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Transgender Remembrance Day

Every year, November 20th is a day of remembrance for transgender people who have died of violence that year. This day should be filled with sadness, grief and rage for anyone who cares for their fellow human beings. These deaths happened due to the ravages of ignorance and fear of anything different.

It's absolutely horrifying that these terrible acts of violence are still happening, especially when they're prompted by nothing more than gender expression. That's no reason to attack or kill someone. That's no reason to treat anyone poorly in any way.

May those who have been robbed of life rest in peace. May all attacked recover quickly, and may the world at large become more accepting of those whose genders don't match with their bodies' sex.

To my transgender friends and acquaintances - thank you for allowing me to be a part of your life, no matter how small. You're all beautiful and worthy of celebration.

And to my readers who may not know much about the transgender experience, please find some time to listen to and read transgender peoples' stories. It takes a lot of bravery to talk about many of the issues they've been forced to face throughout their lives.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Open Lines of Communication

November's been a rough month, so far. Besides the cold and assorted stressors, my husband has been
Pick up the phone, shoot an e-mail, if something's bugging
you, talking it out might help.
[Public Domain] by Jonathan Valesquez
acting like something of a jerk. He's been having a hard time at work, our car would fit better in a junkyard than on the road, and next week promises to be very stressful, though fun. So, I've been doing my best to be supportive and tolerant.

Still, It's all been getting me down, but I don't think he'd really realized it until last night. This morning, he apologized for his behavior and thanked me for doing what I do for him. I do feel better, now, and hopefully, the day will mark better times. This evening is reserved just for us. No computer for either one of us, just a movie, popcorn, maybe a beer or two and kitties, should they deign to join us.

But this little hiccup highlights just how important communication is in any relationship, especially close ones. I'll freely admit that I'm pretty terrible at it. Ironic for a writer, huh?

I'm one of those people who internalizes things, puts up with the bad stuff in the relationships that matter the most, and eventually breaks down under the pressure. I've been like that since childhood. I like to think I'm starting to get better, but I still have a long way to go.

Now, I'm not a big New Years Resolutions girl, but if I were to make one, I think becoming a better communicator would be it. The others would be things like exercising every day, making enough from my fiction to support us and ending world hunger.

As for now? I need to get back to my NaNoWriMo project. I know I'm going to break 40K words today. Hopefully, I'll make it past 45K. I have a few more plot bunnies to nurture, and a story to resolve in just over 10K words. I plan on getting that done this week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Raker

And here we have Tuesday, the day of Teasers! Today, I bring you a teaser from the short story, Raker, by Christopher Gray. I haven't had the chance to get very far with it yet, but hopefully, that'll change soonishlike.

Thanks go out to MizB over at Should be Reading for hosting Teaser Tuesdays!

" "When can we discuss this?" Emerson asked as Plato walked out into the hallway.
  "I'm sure we already have Doctor. In another universe." "

Ah, sci-fi. You're so fun.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Unconsious Mutterngs Take An Unexpected Turn

Monday, Monday, can't trust that day...

Ah yes. It's Monday, and you know what that means!


Lots and lots of coffee.

Also, Unconscious Mutterings, courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. Drive thru :: theater (which, oddly enough, I've never been to)
  2. Horse power :: of the vehicle parked at said drive thru theater.
  3. Plates :: Of food, in said vehicle parked at said drive thru theater
  4. Coffee break :: Taken, while balancing food in said vehicle parked at said drive thru theater
  5. Dress :: Worn by people taking the coffee break while balancing food in said vehicle parked at said drive thru theater
  6. Ferrarri ::  The type of car in which people wearing dresses taking the coffee break while balancing food at said drive thru theater sit.
  7. Bangs :: Getting in the way of the dress wearing people sitting in the Ferrarri parked at the drive thru theater during their coffee break while balancing food on plates.
  8. Charisma ::  Lacking in the people whith bangs that need a trim, wearing dresses, sitting in the Ferrari parked at the drive thru theater during their coffee break while balancing food on plates.
  9. Muffler :: Of the Ferrari in which people with long bangs, wearing dresses on their coffee break who balance food on plates while parked at the drive thru theater.
  10. Crossroads :: Where the deal was made to get the Ferrari the people with too long bangs wearing dresses made before they took their coffee break and balanced food on plates in the drive thru theater.
Odd how everything circled back to Supernatural.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why "grow up"?

Earlier this month, there was a BlogHer prompt asking about how we felt about aging. I can't remember the
In my thirties and still not sure of how to do my hair
well. This is a passable first attempt at formal styling, at least.
exact question, but it seemed relevant to my month, since I have a birthday next Saturday.

So, how do I feel about aging? Like most people, it's a mixed bag. I look back at years past, and wish they would have gone differently. My twenties were full of depression, varying degrees of trauma and a dogged determination to survive, much like my teens were.

My thirties, so far, have been better. I've begun to understand myself more, accept my shortcomings, work on my strengths and discovered the root of many of my depression problems. Oddly enough, I've noticed more issues with anxiety, now. I can generally keep a lid on it, but I have been thinking of finding someone to talk to about it.

We'll see how it goes.

Overall, though? Aging seems to be doing wonders for my mental development in general, which is what I think should happen. I've successfully completed the zero draft of one novel, and have three others in various stages. Hopefully, next year will be the year I start approaching publishers and writing agents. As it is, I've been entering contests and submitting work to various places.

I've had blog entries and articles featured around the internet, had readers around the world see my work, and seen gradual improvement in what I can do.

Physically? On the one hand, I'm healthier than I had been during my depressed years. I'm cooking more, eating healthier, and am at a much safer weight. I don't exercise as much as I'd like, but who does? Yoga a few times a week will hopefully become yoga every day, and multi-mile walks will hopefully resume once I get the will to face the winter cold again.

Still, traditionally negative signs of aging have begun. They're subtle, now. A few grey hairs, some fine lines here and there, a couple more aches and pains; nothing too dramatic. They don't bother me as much as I thought they would.

There are days when I see them and think of the finality they represent, but mostly, they're badges of honor. I've survived long enough to develop them. Like the scars I've earned from various experiences, they tell a story of life.

Will I dye my hair? Well, yeah. I'd ordered a henna kit last week, because I love red hair. Once that grows out, I'll stay natural for a while again. I fully plan on eventually becoming a blue haired old lady decades from now. On purpose.

I'm thinking electric blue.

If I'm lucky enough to have kids and grand kids by then, I'd hope I'll have raised them to embrace the fun that comes with age. I'm quirky now, and I only hope the increase the free spiritedness that has finally broken away from the negativity that had knocked it into oblivion in my younger years.

For now? I'll do my best to enjoy my 30s. Then my 40s. And however long I'm lucky enough to live. My body may get older, but my mind will only continue to evolve, if I have any say in the matter.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Friday Fictioneers - Foiled Again

Alright, today I come to you from an actual computer!

Then again, my little smart phone is basically a small computer in its own right. Technology is amazing.


This Saturday, I bring you yesterday's Friday Fictioneers! Thanks, as always, go out to Rochell Wisoff-Fields.

(I may or may not be channeling some feelings about winter in this one.)

PHOTO PROMPT -Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Genre: Realistic Fiction
Word Count: 100

Foiled Again
It was mid-December, he was from North Dakota, and he came to California to escape the cold sent with love from Canada. All week, he’d haunted the forecast for Hollywood. He was looking forward to days in the in the high sixties, and sunshine.

Is that what he got? No.

Instead, the snow followed him. As people around him waddled in every article of clothing they owned and rejoiced in the half inch that had fallen for the first time in a decade, he sat on a bench and glared at the world around him.

He should've gone to Hawaii.

Friday, November 14, 2014

I feel so high tech!

Look at me updating my blog from my phone. I've finally joined the 21st century.

Either that, or I'm fighting some writing burn out, while still trying to get ahead on NaNoWriMo.

Y'know, one of the two.

Extra entries will be posted this weekend.

In the meantime, have a picture of the truly excellent soup I made today.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Book Review - The Janitor's Secret

This book review's been sitting in my draft folder since, oh SEPTEMBER, so it's about time to publish it,

The Janitor's Secret is written by a fellow dyslexic, Cornell Amerson, who suffered through a horrible schooling experience. He inserted some of his experiences into the dyslexic janitor character, but the story is told through the eyes of a neurotypical man switching to a job in janitorial work. I picked it up in an effort to support the author, and the high rating on Amazon had me looking forward to reading it.

Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. There's a huge amount of potential within this book, and the author is obviously an intelligent, spiritual person, but he needed to go through the manuscript quite a few more times before publishing it.

There were few spelling errors, and some grammatical problems. There were also formatting issues, which may have to do with the publishing platform. I ended up skimming most of it, because the repetition was so bad and the dialogue so unnatural. Most of the characters were incredibly shallow, especially the villains.

I also found myself a bit disturbed at how he portrayed women. They had three roles - the mother/nurturing figure, the villain or the authority figure. The men seemed to be either saviors or victims. This problematic view of the two genders makes me wonder how the author himself relates to men and women.

There were also parts where I felt I was being preached to, which is never a pleasant sensation. I have no problem with including religion in the story, but it becomes an issue when it starts taking over. Maybe it would be different if I were Christian, but since I'm not, it only served to take more away from the piece.

The plot itself, however, wasn't too bad. It was predictable in parts, but there were a couple of twists that I didn't see coming.

However, the point of the book, raising dyslexia awareness, is an extremely noble cause. If the author put some more work into editing, and worked with another writer on his technique, this book could be worthy of a high rating.

I was impressed, however, with the author's bravery in publishing his school records and his own story at the end of the book. He also provided some wonderful tips and Dos and Don'ts on how to help dyslexic individuals.

If he puts out another edition, after working on his technique, I'd be happy to give it another read through. The story touches on many important issues, including the complacent attitude towards education, the unfair treatment of those in disadvantaged situations, the poor treatment of single fathers in the welfare system and poverty.

While the book itself is surely a great personal success for him, and I don't blame him for that at all, I wouldn't suggest it for a casual reader. If you would like to support this individual author's personal efforts, though, check it out.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why I Don't Get the Flu Shot

Ah, yes. It's the time of year where everyone and their mother feels the need to pressure everyone else to get
There's snow on the ground, and flu season is upon us.
the flu vaccination. Yes. We know. Everyone knows. Enough, already. I can't begin to tell you how tired I am of getting that message from every corner of my life.

Why? Put simply, because not everyone SHOULD get the flu shot.

I happen to be one of the minority who has an ongoing asthmatic reaction to the shot. I've tried two types, and each time it triggered an attack, which then led to at least two weeks of being hyper-reactive to everything. That, in turn, puts me at risk of serious infections, in addition to worsening attacks and lung damage. The only reason I got the second one, was because I foolishly listened to the doctor who probably thought I was overreacting to the first one's side effects. So glad I found someone who seems to take me seriously.

Asthma can be a deadly disease, and the best way to manage it is through a combination of trigger avoidance, healthy lifestyle and medication, the last of which has its own set of problems.

Something in at least two of the available shots triggers some of the nastiest asthma reactions I've ever experienced. Why should I submit myself to the certainty of a serious attack and weeks of sickness in order to potentially avoid catching the flu? I don't know if it's eggs, which have caused similar reactions when I eat too many, or the preservatives, which my body is also apparently sensitive to, but it's just not worth it for me.

Bear in mind, there is also always the chance of catching a strain not included in the flu shot. The yearly vaccination is created with what are projected to be the most common strains of the virus that year, so it will usually work against those. In fact, the 2012-2013 vaccine was estimated to be 56% effective, which isn't too bad. However, 2007-2008 was a rough year for virus matching. It just goes to show, even if you get the shot, you should still take extra measures to avoid infection.

Does this mean I'm telling no one to get it? No, not at all. If you can get it, and your personal ethics don't contradict the shot, by all means, go for it. It is safe for the majority of the population, after all.

Just please, please stop spreading the message that everyone should get it, because not everyone should. And, for pity's sake, don't automatically vilify those of us who don't get vaccinated, especially when there's a valid medical reason. Vaccines have done a lot of great things for humanity, but they're not 100% safe for everyone. That must be remembered.

By the way, if you or your child does have a severe or uncommon reaction to the flu shot, or any vaccine for that matter, you can report it to the CDC and FDA on VAERS, their vaccine adverse event reporting system. If the reaction has long term effects, results in hospitalization or death, you may be able to make a claim to the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, which was funded to assist with severe reactions to vaccinations while avoiding lengthy legal proceedings against medical organizations.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Teaser Tuesday - Angels & Demons

Quite a late start to writing today, but errands really needed to be run, and the snow slowed me down a little
Irritating as it is, snow is rather pretty.
more than I thought it would. I can feel that my legs and back are going to be pretty sore. Trudging through the stuff is a lot more work than walking on bare pavement, and it's even harder when you lug however many extra pounds I carried home.

Anyway, I'd like to send out a big thank you to everyone has served in our armed forces. I have a number of family members who are veterans, as well as a bunch of friends who are, as well. Personal connections aside, I'm grateful to all who have sacrificed in order to serve our nation. It may not be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love the positive parts being American includes.

As for NaNoWriMo, I'm actually a tiny bit ahead of the official goal. Hopefully, I can get a few days ahead tonight. The story finally took a more concrete shape in my head, and now it's just a matter of getting it written. By the way, I've been posting regular writing updates to my fundraising page. If anyone's interested in sponsoring my efforts, I'd greatly appreciate the support. The page tells more about what the folks behind NaNoWriMo do to promote literacy around the world, too.

Lastly, it's Tuesday! Since I've finished two books since the last time I've updated, I'm starting a new one after hitting/surpassing my writing quota for the day. It's one of the freebies from the convention I went to in July. I'd heard favorable reviews of the author's other book, so I figured I'd give this one a shot. It'll hopefully be a nice change from sciency stuff and fairy tales.

Thanks, as always, to MizB from Should be Reading for hosting Teaser Tuesdays.

Here are the rules:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"On televisions all over the world, larger than life, the camerlengo raced upward out of the Necropolis with the antimatter before him. "There will be no more death tonight!"
But the camerlengo was wrong."

Angels & Demons, by Dan Brown (Yeah, so that's three, but this guy seems to have a thing for short sentences, so a third was needed.)

Stay warm, all!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Monday Unconscious Mutterings - An Unsavory Start to the Week

Spike the Guard Tortoise isn't happy about the snow outside. He misses his post at the corner of our house.

If I can get my gut to calm down enough, I'll have to get some shoveling done. At least the pathway from the house to the garage, and part of our driveway. I must have eaten something that isn't agreeing with me, since I've been running to the bathroom all day today.

Ugh. I sense lots of water in my immediate future.

Anyway. It's Monday, which means Unconscious Mutterings, as provided by Luna Niña.

  1. Fencing :: Three Musketeers
  2. Mediocre :: My cooking
  3. 19th :: Century
  4. Candy :: Ugh. No. Nonono. No.
  5. Scorch :: and burn
  6. Allergies :: No thanks, I've had more than my fair share.
  7. Swirl :: Swirly!
  8. Level up :: FIGHT! (Cue Mortal Combat theme music)
  9. Modern :: Era
  10. Tasty :: Treat

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Here Comes Winter

Keeping these seedums for winter interest, though.
Ah, Minnesota, ye of sudden drops in temperature and turns in weather.

This morning, I headed outside to drain and put our garden hose in the garage, plus cut down a few plants. I was warm enough not to need a jacket as I worked, which strikes me as odd, because we're in for our first winter storm of the season.

According to, it's 40 degrees out there, but the temperature is supposed to drop over ten degrees overnight.

Meh. I've lived here for 15 years, now. I should be used to it.

That doesn't mean I have to like it, though. I do, however, reserve the right to roll my eyes at the news casters freaking out over snow in November. Anything but snow in November! It's terrifying! It's unheard of! Zounds!

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that we've had snow in September before, but hey, who remembers that?

Ah well, shooting for at least 3500 words for my NaNoWriMo story before heading for bed. It'd be nice to surpass that number, though.

We'll see what happens. I do still have some domestic responsibilities to take care of. Maybe I'll pound out a couple of chapters, before taking a break to do a few more chores.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Beautiful Writing

I stayed up until about three in the morning, last night, working on my project for NaNoWriMo. Since I was still nursing a migraine hangover for the majority of the day, I ended up minimizing my time on the computer
by doing my writing by hand.

As I wrote, I remembered how lovely the physical act of writing is. The elegant sweep of the pen followed by a clean line of ink has a certain romance to it. Even when the resulting handwriting is as juvenile as mine is, I still find the act enchanting.

I also enjoyed the play of shadows on the empty, white page, and the intricate motion executed by the hand manipulating the pen. I've noticed the loveliness in that movement years ago, but I've never really talked about it.

Typing is somewhat hypnotic, as well, especially when the typist is trained in touch-typing. It's a different sort of aesthetic, though. Typing is relatively new, where writing has been with us for centuries in various shapes and forms.

Like clothing making and cooking, writing is one of those ancient arts often taken for advantage today. Perhaps part of why I enjoy the act so much is because of that connection to generations past.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Friday Fictioneers: That Old Car Smell

The first thought I had to today's Friday Fictioneers, courtesy of Rochell Wisoff-Fields prompt was, "WHAT is THAT?" Because.

Wow. That's...that's...quite an automobile.

My second reaction was to burst out laughing.

My third was to write the following story, based off the fact the front of that car loosely reminds me of the plows that'll be roaming the local streets altogether too soon. I realize that sucker would be more suited to construction than snow removal, though.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Jean L. Hays
Genre: Realistic Fiction (As realistic as I can get, anyway.)
Word Count: 100

Title: That Old Car Smell
Danni realized cost effectiveness was important. She did. New cars were expensive, especially when used for commercial plowing, but this?
“Frank,” she began.
“Yeah?” Her employee grinned at her, his mustache flickering absurdly under his nose.
“Well, you said you didn’t want something too new, so I figured this would fit the bill.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. “This wasn’t what I had in mind.”
“C’mon give it a test drive. You’ll love it.”
She watched him before opening the driver’s side door. “If this thing kills me, my funeral’s coming out of your paycheck.”