Saturday, January 31, 2015

Friday Fictioneers - Unplugged

I can't begin to express how glad I am to see January go. It's been a horrible month, and I hope February will be the mark of better times to come.

Today, I've been updating my affiliate links here, as well as on Alternative Wiring and Random and Crafty, brainstorming writing projects to come, doing some job hunting and assorted other things.

One of those possible projects might require a little bit of crowd sourcing. Ever since writing Famous Female Scientists and Their Contributions and Women Warriors in History, over on HubPages, I've had the idea of self publishing a book or two about remarkable, diverse women overlooked in history.

I'd enjoy doing the research, the writing and the primary editing, but I'd still want to hire out for the cover art and subsequent editing. Plus, of course, there's the matter of publishing costs. Naturally, that means money, which I don't necessarily have to spend.

I don't know. It's something that bears more thought, because it will be labor intensive, and we do need to eat 'n stuff.

Meh. Anyway. Since I missed it yesterday, here's my offering of Friday Fictioneers, generously hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

PHOTO PROMPT - Copyright Ted Strutz
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Word Count: 100


            “I just don’t get it,” my brother growled. “It won’t turn on!”
            “Is it plugged in?” I eyed my freshly baked muffins, and debated which one to take first.
            “Of course it’s plugged in!”
            “Geeze, you don’t need to yell.” I leaned against the counter, warm pastry in hand. “Did you try hitting it?”
            “Just because you abuse your appliances doesn’t mean I should.”
            I snorted. “Who do you think I learned it from?” Rustling sounded in the background, before a mechanical whirring. “Fixed?”
            “Well? What was wrong?”
            Only the whirr spoke for a second. “It wasn’t plugged in.”

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Does a "Typical American" Look Like?

During my brief stint in college, I worked as a tutor in the school's writing center. It
didn't pay much, but it was still one of my favorite jobs. Being dyslexic, I have a somewhat unique appreciation of how challenging English is, and it was great helping others get a better grip on it.

Sure, we got clients who only came because their teacher required it, but the majority of our repeat people were learning English as a second language. For the most part, I enjoyed helping them the most. With a few exceptions, they worked hard and were genuinely grateful to have our service available.

There was one young woman who I was lucky enough to work with a number of times. One day, while I was looking over her work, she inquired, "Can I ask you something?"

I glanced up, thinking she was going to ask about the assignment, and replied, "Sure."

"Where are you from?"

The question threw me, since it seemed a little random, but I answered, "Upstate New York, mostly. Why?"

She looked a bit surprised for a moment. "So you're from the US?"

I can comfortably say I'd never been asked that question before. It's a part of my white privilege, though I do wonder if she subconsciously picked up on the German features prominent in my facial structure. I was born in the States, have never been in another country and have been told I have a pretty obvious American accent.

I set the pen down and nodded. "Well, yeah. Why do you ask?"

After I assured her I wasn't insulted, she finally replied, "You don't look American."

She couldn't articulate what 'American' looked like, outside of the fact I didn't wear name brand clothing or makeup, but the question has stuck with me.

What exactly does American look like? The more I think about it, the harder it is to pin an answer down.

I guess you could define it as those whose families have never lived in another country, but that invalidates those of us who were born here after our families arrived in the country, and those who immigrated within their lifetimes. The media seems to define American as white Christian. Obviously, that's problematic on a huge number of levels. Obviously, not all Americans are white and not all are Christian.

For me, and for the young woman who posed the question originally, those criteria are too narrow.

To me, there isn't really one type of person who embodies what it is to be American. We're not of one skin color, ethnicity or religion. In a country as diverse as this one, there can't be one set of features that are strictly American.

Are these falls just south of Minneapolis
any less American than New York City?
It's like asking, "What landscape embodies America?" There are mountains, beaches, lakes, forests, desserts, cities and many more ecosystems that make up this country. In Minnesota alone, there are cliffs carved by glaciers, marshes, lakes, water falls, rivers and flat lands. That's just one state. No one landscape can really sum up the country, can it?

The question itself makes me uncomfortable, because the minute you start isolating a specific set of features as "true American", you're automatically excluding huge numbers of people who are also United States citizens or residents.

Maybe it's just one of those questions that don't have one single answer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Not So Fairy Tale Marriage

I just came across the concept of the "First Fight Box". It's a box that the newlywed
If we did have a First Fight Box, the cat
would probably take it over before we could
use it.
couple puts love letters and a bottle of wine in before nailing it shut. When they have their first fight, they open the box, pour themselves glasses of wine and wander off to read the letters separately.

The idea is to remind themselves of why they're together in the first place.

Yeah, it's very romantic, and sure, maybe it'd work for some people, but my first thought was, "Why would you marry someone you've never had a fight with?"

It's a bit of an odd thought, but the thought process behind it is that if you haven't been with someone long enough to see what they're like during a disagreement, how do you know marriage would be a good idea?

I was with my husband for around three years before the marriage question even came up. Those three years were full of massive changes, turmoil, stress and, of course, the occasional fight. While the majority of stress was from external forces, like family issues and work troubles, health issues, both mental and physical, played into our troubles, as well.

Still, we somehow managed to hang on. As a result, we weren't blinded by the idea of "Happily ever after" when we did get married. We knew we were making our commitment to each other official in the eyes of the law. The piece of paper, rings and tiny ceremony didn't change our lives much.

For us, that wasn't exactly a conscious decision. It just sort of happened, but looking back, I'm glad we waited for as long as we did.

I do know there are people who rush the decision to get married. It's not my place to judge anyone, and I'm sure that works for some folks. It just wouldn't work for me.

I do wonder how much of the rush to get married has to do with individual relationships and how much of it has to do with the stories we're regaled with since childhood. Boy meets girl, they fall madly in love, get married and live happily ever after.

In reality, there's no such thing as happily ever after. There will always be conflict, struggle and new challenges. Getting married won't stop that. In fact, marriage brings its own problems, which rarely get addressed in the mainstream world outside of daytime talk shows and magazines marketed to a female audience.

Don't get me wrong, though. There are joys and comfort in knowing there's someone there for you. Romantic moments crop up, and love grows with the people involved. Like human beings, marriage isn't static.

If I hated being married, I wouldn't keep working with my husband to maintain our relationship. Why would I?

As cute as the idea of the "First Fight Box" is, it wouldn't have been of much use to us.

The concept, though, is a valid one. When disagreements crop up, it's easy to lose sight of the wonderful things in the relationship. There's nothing wrong with reminders when things get rocky.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Unconscious Mutterings - And Now, the Weather

I spent a fair number of my formative years in a very snowy area. That town was right on the edge of lake effect snow territory, and we'd get a minimum of two feet
Taken not far from my house several years ago.
Gonna have to get some more pretty snow pictures
whenever we get hit again.
of snow a year. Now, I live in an area that can get as much snow, but is more likely to dip into hyper-sub-zero territory.

Yeah, I'm still trying to figure out why I haven't moved to a warmer climate, yet.

That's why I have a hard time taking the whole "SNOW STORM OF THE CENTURY" thing the media's harping on very seriously, especially when that area's prepared for winter weather.

I can understand the fear if it happened further south, in areas that usually only get rain in the winter, but New England? Seriously? Outside of travel dangers during the storm, most of those folks are probably pretty prepared for what's coming.

That said, I do hope the homeless population and others vulnerable to the elements are able to find some havens.

Meanwhile, in Minnesota, our snow's melting and our walkways are solid ice in the winter. There's not really much I can do about it, either, until it starts getting cold again. Snow melt will just wash the salt away.

Anyway, it's probably a good thing it's so warm here for us, since hubby had to shut our hot water off due to a leaky pipe he has yet to fix. Warmer weather means no frozen pipes for us, at least.

Let's just chalk this up to how great January has been for us.

Well, weather rambling aside, it's Monday, and you know what that means: Unconscious Mutterings courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. Astrology :: Fun stuff
  2. Funeral :: Less fun stuff
  3. Candor :: the Condor
  4. Dynamic :: Entry! (Guess who's been watching Naruto)
  5. Oh my god! :: Becky, look at that butt. (And now I have an ear worm.)
  6. Cancer :: Wishing for a cure
  7. Ross :: Friends (not sure why I think of that show right away - couldn't stand it)
  8. Heroes :: Shrek
  9. Rachaell ::
  10. Effortlessly :: Confused

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dreaming of Forbidden Things

Dreams are weird. I love them for that, but they can still be downright strange. The

ones that puzzle me the most, though, are the ones in which I'm doing something that could kill me, like smoking or eating seafood.

Well, I guess that sounds a little melodramatic, but cigarette smoke triggers my asthma, and I have a pretty nasty allergy to seafood. Just a couple of bites of something contaminated by fish or shellfish will send my asthma into overdrive and set my immune system on high alert for a good half month.

Judging from how I react to second hand smoke, I'd imagine smoking a cigarette would probably land me in the ER, so I figure I should avoid that particular habit, y'know?

That doesn't stop me from wondering what seafood dishes taste like or, apparently, dreaming about smoking. It's always weird when my subconscious teases me with those things, though. Maybe the curiosity about those experiences are what drive the dreams. My poor husband has gotten rather good at explaining tastes and textures when I ask.

It makes me wonder what my mind is trying to tell me when it happens.

Do other people with sensitivities/allergies experience that, too? Or is it just another one of my strange quirks?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Fictioneers - Making Waves

Wow. It's almost the end of January, and I haven't even done a single Friday Fictioneers, this month.

Bad, bad. This poor health stuff just obliterates fiction writing for me, I guess.

Well, that'll change today. Tea with lots of honey is brewing, compress for my head/eyes is cooling and there's a boat waiting for a story.

Thanks, as always, goes out to Rochell Wisoff-Fields for hosting.

PHOTO PROMPT – Copyright – Georgia Koch
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Word Count: 99

Making Waves
            Diana stared at the boat moored to the rickety dock she crouched upon. Her pointer finger caressing the polished blue stone just above the pommel of the blade sheathed at her right side.
            Breathing in the humid air, she concentrated on summer’s balmy scent. Bright eyes slipped closed and the sensation of salty sweat trickling down her temple consumed her.
            As she exhaled, consciousness rippled outwards, and the still water surrounding her filled her with mystery.
            She dipped her left hand into the drink, and with it, a wave of willpower.
            Her turbulence bumped the boat against the dock.


That's my girl. Once I'm feeling better, I'll get more work done on her origin series. As for now? A nap and that cool compress are calling me.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

We're just a couple killjoys

My husband and I are both sick. We have that nasty sore throat/stuffy
By Tvabutzku1234 (Own work) [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
nose/congested chest/pounding head thing that's going around, and it's just generally rather gross in our house, at the moment.

Since I was on antivirals for five days the bug hasn't been able to get a toehold on me earlier, so his infection's on its way out, while mine's still in the 'getting worse' phase.

Yesterday, we caught The Wheel of Fortune. One of the prizes was a cruise, which did little more than remind us of all the news stories about ship related problems over the past couple of years.*

Here's the conversation we ended up having:

Him: You win a cruise! This one hasn't even run aground!
Me: This time with less norovirus!
Him: No flu included!
Me: *laughs*
Him: We're single handedly funding the tissue manufacturers. Maybe we shouldn't be joking about being sick.
Me: *extended coughing fit*

I think this virus has moved into our brains.

*I'm sure the majority of cruises go off without a hitch, but the news just had several field days with what's gone wrong with trips in recent years. Personally, I'm not a fan of boats, so I don't have much interest in going on a vacation on a REALLY BIG boat, anyway.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Wild Winter Weather

I'm struggling with this whole winter thing, so I thought I'd look up (and share) some videos of awesome winter nature phenomenon.

Ice circles are so cool. They form when currents in a creek or stream get caught and swirl slowly. I've only seen small ones, but the big ones look incredible.

I'm a little surprised this guy didn't start cursing! I had to laugh at his reaction.

But, yeah, this is called thunder snow. The atmospheric conditions way up in the atmosphere are similar to thunder storms, but the temperature closer to the ground is cold enough for snow. Last year, we had a bit of this, though it wasn't nearly as dramatic as in this video.

It confused me more than anything, since I'm so used to hearing thunder in warmer weather.

I had never heard of a frost quake until now, but now I'm going to keep an ear out for these booms when the freeze/thaw cycle hits.

I'd already known that freezing water can cause structures to fail and cracks to open up in the ground, but I hadn't realized it could cause a boom and the ground to shake! How neat is that?

I remember seeing scenes like this on the news, last year. This is what's called an ice shove, and it happens when the ice on lakes is pushed onshore by strong winds.

Last year, it was so bad in places that peoples' homes were at risk of being damaged by the incoming ice. Gives a person second thoughts about wanting to live on a big lake.

Nature's amazing, isn't it?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

An Open Letter to 2015

Dear 2015,

You and I have not gotten off to a very good start. Between the shingles and now this respiratory infection, I very much hope you're just getting the painful/uncomfortable part of the yearly program out of the way early.

I hope you're doing the same for all of my friends and family who are facing pending medical procedures, or have already gone through them. Same goes for those who have already fallen victim to theft, job problems, emotional issues, mechanical breakdowns and other unpleasant happenings.

I realize winter isn't meant to be the most cheerful of times. We're lucky to live in the era we do, what with modern conveniences and medical advances, of course, but that doesn't mean it has to be quite as difficult as it has been.

So, 2015, I hope you have something better in store for us. Your first month has been pretty rocky so far, but I'm willing to give it a pass if you're up for offering some cheer for the rest of the year.


P.S. In all fairness, I had the feeling I'd catch whatever this bug is as soon as hubby came home with it after the first of the rash started showing up, but couldn't it have waited until I recovered a bit more? Yes, 2015, this is on you, too.
C'mon, Larry. Hop to. I'm tired of feeling sick.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Monday Unconscious Mutterings

January hasn't been kind. So many of my friends and family are having a hard time, and I've been sick for most of it, so far. Why is my husband so generous with his germs? Ugh.

Here's hoping 2015 is just getting the unpleasant parts out of the way first, huh?

Anyway, thanks to Luna Niña for hosting Unconscious Mutterings.

  1. Language :: Arts
  2. Obvious :: facts
  3. Skull :: cap
  4. Insidious :: movie
  5. Struggle:: of a lifetime
  6. Unspeakable :: crimes
  7. Orchid :: flesh eating ( clue where that one came from)
  8. Fish :: death (I'm allergic)
  9. Annoyingly :: ill
  10. Payroll :: money, money, money

Friday, January 16, 2015

Three thoughts


2) Prescription bottles from Target are pretty neat looking.

3) Falling asleep in 3...2...zzzzz

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Readicus Onicus

Not the only book series I own, but it's probably
the most well loved.
These past couple of weeks have made me rather irritable. So, instead of spreading my annoyance at the world in general around, I thought I'd take advantage of one of BlogHer's prompts. "If you had to read the same book year after year after year, what would it be?"

I suppose I could try being all sophisticated and say something like "The Art of War", "Midsummer Night's Dream" or even "Snow Falling on Cedars", but I'd be lying. I've read all of these and enjoyed them immensely, but I don't think they'd stand up to a yearly reading.

No, my yearly read would probably end up being the Harry Potter series. It doesn't matter they're geared towards young adults, or they're not college level reading. Every time I pick them up, I spot new aspects to the story or writing itself that I'd missed before.

This series truly embodies the beauty of good fiction: it grows with you.

I find it fascinating that as I change as a person, so do my favorite stories, even if the words on the page are the same. My filter develops with every year, and as that happens, fresh lessons give old experiences new life.

Rowling managed to fit so many different elements into her world that these books endure time for me. I can pick up the first book and sink into the familiar story.

It's a little like watching favorite movies. There are always details you've missed the first thousand times, and when you notice them, they give you an extra thrill.

As a writer, I love these kinds of books, because they help develop my personal style. They offer insight into what makes a great story and engaging characters. The way the words are woven together help guide my hand when I work on my own tapestry of text.

That and, y'know.

They're fun.

I'm still trying to figure out how to do the magical housekeeping Mrs. Weasley is so good at.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In the news today...

I've known for a long time not to trust the big news channels for unbiased
Well, y'know. Gotta use that left over newspaper
information. I could go into it more in this entry, but I've already covered my reasons and how I gather info in this article. I was reminded of the issue on Monday, though.

I'm sure most of my readers remember the huge ebola scare just before the midterm elections. You couldn't turn on the television, radio or computer without hearing something about how terrifying it is, how we all need to be on high alert and blah, blah, blah. Once the election was done, it magically vanished, despite the fact it is still a serious problem in parts of west Africa.

Don't get me wrong. Ebola is a terrifying bug that impacts a massive number of people every day, but my personal chances of getting it are next to zero. Since I'm not in one of the impacted countries, and I was coping with my own problems, it wasn't on my mind until I reached the clinic on Monday.

Right outside the door sat a poster-sized sign informing me to tell the staff if I've been out of the country and was feeling ill. Once I went in, there were no fewer than four more of the same signs scattered throughout the entryway. When I checked in, the lady asked me if I had been out of the country. Since I was there for a doctor's appointment, it was probably a given that I wasn't feeling all that great.

Yeah, ebola is still a concern. Plus, my area has a huge immigrant population, so it's hardly surprising that the local medical community is taking precautions, as well. For my part? I'm not all that worried. As scary as the disease is, I know the chances of getting it anywhere in the US are extremely slim, and simple hygiene lowers that already minuscule risk even further.

It's just interesting that it's gone from eating up the majority of airtime to nothing overnight.

Those signs and questions are good reminders that just because the big news outlets stop covering something doesn't mean it's not happening anymore.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thinking about meds, affordability and health insurance

I am such a nerd when it comes to health stuff. Since getting that diagnosis yesterday, I've been doing all sorts of research into the drug I've been put on and the disease itself. In fact, I've put together this article about shingles and how to treat it.

I guess it's a good thing that I want to be as informed as possible about this stuff, but I'm still laughing at myself about it. It's the same with my asthma, scoliosis and dyslexia, though I wouldn't classify dyslexia as an "illness".

Anyway, the antiviral pill the doctor put me on is called Famciclovir, which is also used for people with herpes and HIV. It is pretty safe, and the only side effect I've experienced so far is some drowsiness.

Hey, that's fine with me. I have the luxury of being able to nap, and when I'm sleeping, I feel no pain.

Anyway, what caught my attention right away was the retail price. For 15 pills, it costs $110.99 before insurance. I only paid $33.33, since I have health insurance.

My brain automatically went to those folks who weren't able to get insurance, due to their preexisting conditions, though. If they're on a pill a day for 30 days, they'd have to pay over $200 for this drug alone.

That's just awful. I can't imagine needing to shell that much out for one drug. It's not like most people purposefully go out to get these viral infections.


I know many people hate the idea of Obamacare. There's a lot about it that I personally don't approve of, but making it illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions is something I stand firmly behind.

Humans get sick, and healthcare shouldn't be a luxury. Cars are luxuries. Privately owned technology are luxuries. Cell phones are luxuries. Even working from home is a luxury.

Basic healthcare, food and shelter are all necessities. So, why does it seem like the reverse is true?

Monday, January 12, 2015

What do I have in common with the roof?

We both have shingles.

I had my suspicions, but it's good to have them verified.

I'm on an antiviral medication, famciclovir, for the next five days, and I think I'm going to try using a baking soda paste on these blisters as suggested. The doctor said this should clear up in about a week, and I have a low risk of permanent nerve damage, due to my age. The shingles infection usually happens only once, so hopefully this means I'll be spared a flare up later in life.

I'll still probably see a few more blisters pop up, and the marks they leave can last for up to six months. Good thing I wasn't planning on entering any beauty pageants.

It'll probably hurt for a few more days, though, and I think this first dose is starting to make me feel a bit sleepy. Then again, I was already pretty tired, since my slumber hasn't exactly been ideal lately. Gonna have to stay away from pregnant people and kids who haven't had the chickenpox, or the vaccine for a while, too.

So, there's that.

And it's Monday today, so that means Unconscious Mutterings, courtesy of Luna Niña!

  1. Decree :: There must be more degrees outside.
  2. Seats :: On a plane
  3. No no no ::What kinda language is that?
  4. Fess up :: I know you did it.
  5. Construct :: Deconstruct
  6. Page :: Turner
  7. Laughter :: best medicine
  8. Audience :: Here's hoping they're doing number 7
  9. Freezes :: As soon as you step outside
  10. Stuck up :: Where the sun don't shine
Oh, right, and before I forget, I'm offering some commissions for knit and crochet goods to help pay for some unforeseen expenses. If interested, I've posted the details here.

And now? A couple more things on ye olde to-do list, and then a nap.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Painful Ramblings

I keep meaning to write up a post for Friday Fictioneers, but it just hasn't been happening.

To be honest, I've been in a fair amount of pain for the past five days. Some sort of rash has appeared on my stomach, and when it's not burning like crazy after anything brushes against it, it's itching or tickling.

I'm headed to the doctor tomorrow. Hopefully, they can figure out what it is.

Of course, when the human body's in pain, the natural reaction is for the muscles to tense up. I tend to carry my stress in my upper back, partially because that's where my scoliosis curve is.

Today, my husband was nice enough to give me a massage. When I say "massage", I don't mean of the gentle variety, either. When this happens, I need deep pressure to release the tension. Naturally, that hurts, but in a good way.

It's just so weird. The skin pain does nothing but make me feel horrible, but the pain from those massages always sends endorphins roaring through my bloodstream.

I wonder why that is. Wouldn't pain just be pain?

Maybe the actual sources are what set off the internal chemical reactions off.

I don't know, but I DO know that I hope the doctor can help me figure out how to get rid of this rash and start functioning normally again.

As for now, I think I'm just going to awkwardly curl up on the couch again for a while.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

You Know You Need Some Kitty Cuteness

Winter's cold and dark, so I thought I'd send you all some warm fuzzy thoughts in the form of the adorable felines I'm fortunate enough to be controlled by.

Otherwise? It's been something of a lazy day, today.

Sort of.

It's actually been rather stressful around here, lately. I'm working on remedying that, at least.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Yoga and Asthma Progress

As I'd mentioned before, as of the beginning of the year, I've been doing yoga
The white line represents my peak flow readings.
The green is my highest personal reading, while the
red and yellow are indicated on my peak flow meter.
It's from a free app called Asthma Tracker through
the Amazon store.

every day and tracking my peak flow readings for my asthma.

It was a little rough in the beginning, since I had an attack due to dust on the second, another attack due to not taking my inhaler before going out to run on the third and the final attack on the fourth, because I was still pushing myself too hard.

Since, then however? My breathing has been getting progressively better. Despite the dip in readings on the 5th/6th, I wasn't having trouble breathing on those days.

I've discovered that part of my problem has been that I habitually breathe more shallowly than is natural.

Apparently, that's a common problem in asthmatics. It's a little odd, right? Breathing is an unconscious action, so why does that happen?

I guess the nature of the disease comes in. When someone's having an asthma attack, the problem isn't breathing in, despite how it feels. Air actually gets trapped in the chest, which is why it's hard to get a deep breath. When someone has a prolonged attack, their ribcage actually becomes distended because of that. We end up breathing shallowly, because that's all we can do.

Once airways relax, swelling goes down and mucus is thinned, we can finally exhale the stale air to make room for the fresh stuff. Asthma literally sucks.

Interestingly enough, I've actually had a chiropractor end an attack I didn't realize was taking place. She noticed the right side of my back was hard to the touch, and when she pressed down, the air was forced out. Suddenly, I could breath easily again.

Anyway, I guess our bodies get used to the shallow breathing we're forced to do during an attack, even when we're not having acute problems.

That's where the yoga comes in. A big part of that particular discipline is concentrating on getting full, deep breaths. That's why other breath intensive activities, like the martial arts, swimming and choir, are so great for asthmatics. To do any of these things, you need to learn how to concentrate on using the full lung, which helps form the habit of healthy breathing.

Since catching on to that, my readings have improved, as you can see from the chart above. Up until yesterday, the highest reading I've gotten was 450, but yesterday I managed to get up to 500.

It should be interesting to see how much yoga actually improves my breathing.

As for running? I haven't been out since the third. The temperature dropped dramatically, and it's too dangerous for me to go out unless I need to. Once it gets a bit warmer, into the 20s (Fahrenheit, that'd be above 6 Celsius) at least, I'll start that up again.

I'll still have to think about ice, but at least I won't be at quite as much risk of another attack.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Name Through the Centuries

When I was young, I used to enjoy walking in graveyards. I know that may seem a little morbid, but it was peaceful, cemeteries are rather pretty, and it's interesting
The cemetery was off part of this canal. The water
itself is now paved over, but the route is still used
as Erie Boulevard.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
getting a peek into every day history.

Not far from one of the houses I grew up in was a small graveyard. This particular cemetery dated to the early 1900s and late 1800s.

It was on a hill right off of the main road, which had once been the Erie Canal, and had the coolest stone wall separating it from the sidewalk with a stone staircase leading to the entry.

You could almost taste the history. I hadn't known at the time, but the associated religious institution, DeWitt Community Church, was one of the first in the area.

History and beauty aside, I frequented the cemetery in a bid to get a little peace in my tumultuous adolescent heart.

One day, as I wandered, I noticed one of the small stones next to the family marker. It had my name on it, spelled "Emilie", as it should be. Since my particular spelling is the older, rarer version, it didn't surprise me too much to see it on a grave from the early 1900s.

My attention caught, I looked up at the family marker. "Peck".

At the time, it didn't make much of an impact, since I didn't know my current husband at the time.

Years later, after I was married, that memory came drifting back, and a chill shimmied its way down my spine.

I wish I had taken a picture. There were so many years between then and now that I can't be sure of whether the memory is fully accurate. However, through the magic of the internet, I discovered that there was at least one Emilie Peck born in 1905.

I don't think she's the same lady as the one lain to rest in New York, but it's always a bit unnerving when you find someone who lived with your name decades before you were even born.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Reading and Writing Just Didn't Happen Today

My dyslexia is atrocious today. Even just replying to comments has been a misadventure in word recall and spelling.

I guess that's why I've been knitting today.

I think the fact I've been dealing with what seems to be some sort of skin allergy for the past few days has something to do with it, too. There's this little patch of dermatitis that appeared the day before yesterday, got very painful, but started getting better today before I could get to the doctor.

The area's still a little puffy, red and bumpy, but it doesn't itch or hurt at all anymore. The Cortizone cream that I forgot we had seems to help.

Still, I have no idea what caused it. It's on my stomach, so there's not a whole lot that area gets exposed to. It IS winter in Minnesota, after all. No midriff baring shirts for me, and we haven't changed laundry supplies or soap recently. My diet hasn't been all that fantastic lately, but I haven't been trying new foods or anything.

Bah. Maybe I should schedule that allergy test.

Ah, well. Tomorrow will be a better day for writing, and hey, yesterday I submitted three stories to a place. That's something, at least.

These burnout phases happen sometimes, but they're usually followed by a good period of productivity.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Teaser Tuesday - From Chocolate to Morphine

I've only just started reading this book, so I don't really know what to make of it, but the subject matter is interesting.

Personally, I'm not a fan of drugs, regardless of whether they're prescription, over the counter or illegal. They do have their place in treating illness, but they're an absolute last resort for me, and I think our culture has become over-reliant on them. I will take them with caution, after research, when I need to, but if I can avoid them, I do.

That said, I'm still very interested in how they work, the social challenges around them and their history. The history of marijuana in the US is especially interesting, and it's a shame the plant itself isn't explored more extensively for its medicinal uses.

Thanks, as always, goes out to MizB over at Should Be Reading for hosting this game.

"Whether a drug is legal or illegal, approved or disapproved, obtained from a physician or bought on the black market, if the user is aware of its nature, can maintain a useful effect from it over time, can easily separate himself or herself from it, and can remain free from adverse effects, that is a good relationship with the drug.
Bad relationships with drugs begin with ignorance of the nature of the substance and loss of the desired effect with increasing frequency of use, and progress to difficulty in leaving the drug alone, with eventual impairment of health or social functioning." - From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind Altering Drugs, by Andrew Well MD & Winifred Rosen

Monday, January 5, 2015

Unconscious Mutterings - Wishing It Was Summer Now

I haven't really been doing all that great a job of keeping up with Monday Unconscious Mutterings, but ah well. It happens.

Thanks, as always, goes out to Luna Niña for hosting!

  1. Note :: To Self
  2. 2015 :: ALREADY?!
  3. Earlobe :: Piercing
  4. Sunburn :: Probably not this time of year
  5. Hashtag :: Abuse
  6. Special :: Needs
  7. Spacious :: House
  8. Happening :: NOW!
  9. Blank :: Stare
  10. Humid :: I wish
Not a fan of winter, apparently.

By the way, if you'd like to see the tutorial I put together for the skirt I posted yesterday, you can find it here.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Look What I Made

Been keeping busy today. Errands, cleaning, and a bit of sewing. I'll be posting how I made this skirt tomorrow on my craft blog.

As for now? I really need to eat something. So hungry!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wait, breathing? Why would I need to do that? Silly body.

Life with asthma can be so frustrating. For some reason, I decided to try going on
My bronchial tubes are plotting against me.
By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
my run today without taking my inhaler first.

Now, that was a stupid idea.

Between the cold and the exercise, the attack when I got home was no surprise. I'm ok, now.

I know for a fact that an attack will happen after cleaning if I don't take precautions. Eventually, my lungs will get strong enough to need meds before running, but for now? I need something to keep them open.

I'm also doing daily peak flow readings and recording them on a free app I downloaded at the end of December. It's kind of cool, actually. You input your peak flow readings every day, as well as the zones you've established with your doctor, and it'll automatically convert the successive readings into a chart.

You can also log asthma attacks, and make notes of where you were at the time, what you were doing, and how you treated them. Since I've had asthma for over 20 years now, I'm familiar with my triggers, but logging in more detail might help me identify more ways to manage the disease.

I'm sure the yoga and running will eventually have a positive impact on my breathing. Stupidity-induced attack from today aside, I do already feel a bit of an improvement.

I'm still going to keep wearing my dust mask when I clean, though. It's annoying, but since dust is my number one trigger/allergy, I need to at least try keeping it at bay. Of course, that stupid mask is why I haven't done the cleaning related tasks on this weekend's to-do list. It helps, but it's uncomfortable.

And, honestly. Dust? Why? Why does my body freak out at dust mites, even though they've surrounded me my entire life? You'd think by now that my immune system would realize they're not a threat.

It's kind of like my husband's new bee sting allergy. He's been stung countless times before, but that last time had his immune system overreacting. Now, he carries an epi-pen and antihistamines when he's working outside. Or rather, I hope he is. I can't know, since he's a landscaper, and I'm not with him 24/7 during the season. When we're out together, I carry his meds in my bag, since the epi-pen is a double pack, and too big for his pockets.

The human body's so weird.

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Cat is Not a Yogi

I've been doing yoga on and off for a few years now, and every time I start again, I
Oh, yes. Those glowing eyes show just how
mischievous this little guy is.
seem to forget how sore I end up the next day. It's a little shocking how quickly your body becomes unaccustomed to those poses.It'll pass, but that's not the happiest of feelings.

Anyway, at the end of my morning routine, I lie on the floor and meditate a little bit.

Currently, we have three cats. Two are pushing 13, while the third is only 3 years old, so he still has a lot of kitten to him.

The two older cats will watch me for a while, provided they feel like my company at the moment, but generally write their human's weird behavior off as whatever cats write it off as.

The little one? He's very interested in what I'm doing. Generally, he just sniffs at me, winds his way through my legs or headbutts me. Typical curious cat behavior. If I happen to be doing push ups, he'll lie down under me, because apparently I make a decent living blanket.

This morning, he didn't like my meditation. I felt him sniffing at my wrist, but ignored the sensation as best I could. His little nose bumped my skin just before his teeth tentatively closed in.

"Ow!" I reflexively yelped, though the nip didn't hurt much, and watched him sail right over my body, tail hooked playfully as he bolted under our Yule tree. He then proceeded to play hide and seek with me for a while.

Every time I tried sitting down, he'd peek around the corner, chirp at me, and go running off in a bid to get me to play as soon as I stood up.

Who knew yoga could rile cats up like that?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Hello there, 2015!

I downloaded this calender here.
Ah, the New Year. Time of resolutions, hope and dropping balls.

Also hangovers. I'm done with drinking for a while.

Suffice to say, I didn't do so well with upholding the schedule I'm trying to get in the habit of sticking with today. Ugh.

Last night was pretty fun, at least. We rang in the new year with a combination of Alaska State Troopers, champagne and Kung Fu Hustle. Oh, yeah. We're total party animals AND dignified to boot.

You're all jealous. I know. It's ok.

Anyway, this year, I'm trying this thing called "Don't Break the Chain".

Long story short, the idea is to determine something you'd like to do regularly, and mark off every day that you actually manage to do it.

I'm going to do yoga every day and walk/run every other day. I don't know how well it shows up in the picture, but I've established a gold X for yoga, and a green circle for running. I did both today, so tomorrow will be my off day for running.

While I'm not one for resolutions, I do know that January 1st is a convenient way of kicking off new habits. That said, here are a few of the things I hope to accomplish this year in addition to making my lifestyle a bit more active:
  • Finish the zero drafts of two partially completed novels in the five part series I'm working on
  • Get at least one short story published in print (though I won't argue with more than one)
  • Place in at least one contest
  • Bring in some more money, since I didn't bring in as much as I would have liked during 2014. That'll probably involve getting a part time job outside the house in addition to my writing.
So, there we have it. I wonder if I can find a way to display those goals prominently in my home as reminders.

Hm. Might need to get crafty with it.

I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years, and I wish you all a joyous 2015!