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Monday, May 31, 2010

A Sleepy House

Last week, I mentioned the sleeping cats who got to stay home while I went out to earn their daily bread. Just before I left, I snapped a few photos.

Simon woke up for his picture. He was kind enough not to move.

Skamper did not wake up. He is well-accustomed to having his picture taken. He's the most photogenic of the house. It's a good thing, too, or no one would believe he exists, since he hides when humans other than me come into the house.  

Sweetie hates the camera, but she was sound asleep when I started. If the camera were a little faster, her eyes would have been closed.

Skuttle has started sleeping here since the weather warmed up a bit. Three years she's lived with me, and I've never seen her do this before. Cats continually surprise you if you pay attention.

And Mica was just nodding off. I'd been in that chair prior to the picture taking. I ran out of memory or I would have shown you Caleb staring out the kitchen window. Toffee vanished when I took the dog's picture. She doesn't like the camera, either. 

On the day I get to stay home - you know, Saturday - they all end up in my room for their naps. It's odd. I have a small house, yes, but they could be anywhere in it. Turns out, they generally pick spots within 10 feet of me. It's flattering. Some days it's annoying, but mostly, it's flattering.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Doctor Delivers

I love the new Doctor Who! An episode with the Daleks and the Cybermen? Stuff of legend. The return of the Master? Brilliant! (I knew it was him. I knew if anyone could survive a Time War, it would be that slippery ...) Well, brilliant. The Master likes teletubbies. That alone should prove how evil he is. And pulling out a bag of jelly babies just before the killing starts? Ha!

You can tell the writers love this show. They love everything about it, bless them, like J.J. Abrams and the newest Star Trek. It could only have been written by someone who loved the original.

Rose has gone and left a giant, bleeding hole in her wake. I don't think the Doctor ever felt for another companion the way he felt for Rose, not even Leela, and they were together a long time.
Rose's final episode was heart-rending. That moment when they are pressed against the wall... heavy sigh. If grief could kill, they'd both be dead. Beautiful.

I've been glued to the screen as the Doctor ignores his newest companion, Martha, and finds himself in continual trouble. He's been struck by lightning, nearly incinerated by a solar beast, and dropped into a black hole to meet the devil (that's out of order, but how we would know? He's a time traveler). Really, it is exhausting just watching the guy. I can't imagine following him around. Not the life for this turtle.

The episode with the weeping angels was terrifying. How can you not blink? It was like The Grudge without the ticking. Or the killing. Shiver.

And Jack Harkness. Ha ha! Brilliant use of a plot twist to connect dots. Did they know what they would do, that first season, or did they improvise? Who cares? It works.

But this new Doctor - he's more than just adventure. He's sorrow, and hope, and ... Time. He is the embodiment of this show's concept of time - all wiggly-woggly, timey-whimey, in a sort of non-linear ball. That's him. Amazing.

I wish I could write like this.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I am starting this post Thursday night. Inspiration struck while washing dishes. I intend to finish Friday morning. We'll see how the thread goes.

I can't remember if I've posted on this topic before, and I'm too tired to reread my posts to see if I have.

Character strengths must be balanced by character weakness. I learned this, as I learned most of my character development skills, through role play. Specifically through the previously mentioned Marvel Comics Role Play Handbook. The game insists on limiting character strengths (a bit too much, in my opinion, considering the Marvel Comic hero pantheon) by including weaknesses.
Without those weaknesses, you have a "perfect" character, and those can be pretty boring. Superman is amazing at first glance, but he needs his kryptonite or there's no reason to turn pages.

I mentioned my Doctor Who companion Amy a few posts ago. Her strengths are immortality (more or less), photokinesis, mechanical empathy and beautiful eyes (I call them "crystal green"). Her weaknesses, however, are an emerging awareness of her lost humanity and a longing for the missing race that created her. Her story is one of perfect contentment shattered and the resulting chaos of picking up the pieces to discover, under all the genetic modifications, she is human.

I have another character, Catspaw, who is a chemical mutant. After an explosion altered her DNA, she developed hyper-elevated senses, iron-laced bones, and lightning fast reflexes. However, her hyper-sensitivity leads to migraine-like paralysis, pain and coma; her bones gain their iron from her own blood, which requires massive doses of iron supplements that cause other medical problems, and the trauma of the explosion creates a multiple personality that ricochets from manic to berserker as her blood pressure rises (something blood pressure tends to do in fights). In short, she's a mess: physically, emotionally and mentally. She's also a blast to write about, although I doubt I'll ever write anything for publication with her in it. She's one of my "for me" characters. Her strengths make her cool, but her weaknesses make her accessible. Without them, she's...too alien, even though she's human.

Caissa is educated, blessed with perfect recall, and physically tough as prairie scrub. But she is narrow-minded, naive and selfish. Those are the problems she carries with her into every dangerous situation in the book, and those are the problems that make the story interesting.

I've read books with characters who are too perfect. All the problems they face in the story are external. There's nothing wrong with that. Bad things usually happen to good people. But even good people have problems, and the better they are in some ways, the worse they should be in others.

I write stories about flawed people. All of them have something going on (even Indira, and she's the closest to perfect you'll find in Star of Justice). Yes, it does cause some sleepless nights, wondering how they're possibly going to make it out of those natural consequences, but natural consequences are interesting. And natural. And, consequently, naturally interesting to the reader.

Double-check your characters. The greater the strength, the greater the weakness. Give it try. You may hate me for suggesting it, but your readers will love you for writing it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Oops, I Did It Again

That is hopefully the first and last time a Britney Spears' song will be mentioned in this blog.

I left the food bowl out again, and again was awakened at 3:15. Oddly enough, this morning, Mica did not sit and cry at me. Perhaps it was Simon's huge bulk parked at my head that stopped her. I don't know why, though; he's never stopped her from doing anything before. 

I'm making slightly better use of this morning than yesterday. I took pics of some neighbors' farms and they'll be up at Virtual Buttercups in the coming weeks.

See, it occurred to me some neighbors are proud of their farms and might like a little showcasing to those who don't farm. I enjoy all my neighbors, but there are certain farms that are a delight to visit. I'll be putting some of those up, hopefully with minimal psychoanalysis. Hehe! I get permission from the neighbor first. Only seems fair.

I won't be getting to bed early as planned because I joined a pattypan co-op that even when planted at 4:30 AM comes due at 10:30 PM. They only needed 250 plots to finish with a gold and I could provide those. You're welcome, My Dear Friend. May the mail truck be yours. In gratitude you can join my grape co-op starting tomorrow morning. I want another grape sheep.

I can guarantee I'll be making up the sleep come Saturday. Mom, be warned.

So, I'm going to make my fourth cup of tea for the morning, and you can wander over to my real FV blog to read about Teresa S and her parks. Here's a preview:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm a Little Tired

When I fall asleep before putting Mica's nighttime food bowl back in its drawer, the result is her waking me up at 3:15, her bowl being empty (thanks to one of the other furry household stomachs) and the means of filling it being one floor away. You might think Mica would wait for me to get up at 4. You'd be wrong. Nothing can shut that cat up when she wants something and there is nowhere in my house where she cannot be heard.

Since there's no way to get the food, wait for her to eat and then go back to sleep in 45 minutes, I got up at 3:15.

I'm a bit tired this morning. I doubt I will get less tired as the day progresses.

I considered three cups of tea to help with the perking up, but the second cup had an ant in the bottom of it. While I noticed no difference in the taste, it put me off that third cup.

I currently have Little Brother in my lap, kneading his complete set of claws into my arm as I type. He really wants the chair. He's putting up with my lap until I leave.

So, here I sit, surrounded by sleeping cats and a dog, wishing I were one of them. But to work I must go. Thus begins Wednesday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nothing To Say

It also occurs to me I may not be posting regularly here because at the moment I have nothing to say here. Nothing profound. Nothing particularly interesting. Nothing but daily comments on my daily life, which is, for the most part, quiet.

I've enjoyed stepping out of a hot shower into a warm bathroom the last two days. It was 83 in my house last night and I slept like a baby.

See? Quiet. Boring, really.

I'll post when I have something better to say. Check out Virtual Buttercups if you miss me too much. And Old Fashioned Thoughts got updated yesterday.

Later, faithful readers.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Don't Do Poetry

We've just passed the Psalms in our daily Scripture readings.

Perhaps it's odd for someone who loves language to dislike poetry, but I do. When I see words broken into stanzas or -worse- italics, I shudder. I tend to skip poetry in books. I don't think I've read any of the poems in LOTR since the first time when I was 12 and I realized they're all off topic.

This may smack of heresy to some folks. Psalms seems to be the favorite book of the Bible for many people. Not me. I'd rather read the narratives. Even the genelogies don't bother me, because I look for character names.

Give me solid prose with a sprinkling of snappy dialogue and I'm perfectly content. In fact, I prefer reading levitical rules to reading psalms.

I do enjoy Proverbs, though. Years ago, I started reading one chapter of Proverbs a day. There's 31 chapters, so most months it works out perfectly for a simple daily devotional time. They don't stick with me, either. Many proverbs are similar. A few are identical, so it's hard to remember exactly which one said what. But when I read them over and over, the themes sink in and those pop into my head at opportune times.

Like "a fool shows his anger, but a wise man holds his tongue." Not a quote, but a theme. It's kept my mouth shut on a few occasions, I can tell you.

So, if you like Psalms and think I'm nuts, join the club. If you feel this way too, just know you're not alone.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


The day is warming up nicely. Huzzah!

I am the most patient person I know. I don't know how this happened. Most brats are incredibly impatient. It's part and parcel with the brat package. But I can wait. I can wait a loooooong time. Perhaps it's part of being last born. I knew if I waited long enough, everything would be mine. And it is, so I was right.

I once waited for ketchup to pour out of a new bottle by itself at a restaurant. My Grandfather Byrd -one of the impatient people in my life - was squirming in his seat watching me. He didn't want the ketchup. He just wanted me to hurry up.
I bring this up because I used to think The Flash was patient. Not so much anymore. I made her (yes, I made her. Mean Aunt Robynn, remember?) get on FV this week to collect and use all those nursery items I've been sending before they expire.

Good heavens! The impatience displayed with the entire process was maddening!

To be fair, she might have been annoyed that I was making her do it. But I was getting annoyed watching her do it, and I rarely get annoyed with the nieces (only twice that I can remember. Most of the time they amuse the snot out of me). The entire zen of FV seems to have completely escaped her. And her sister. My Lamb compared FV to a video game! Snort, scoff, hrmph. Video game. Bite your tongue.

I've always thought of My Lamb as being like Mom and The Flash as being like me. Now I'm reconsidering. Her impatience with the game was very much like mom's impatience with the game (she's fine as long as everything does exactly what she wants it to). Perhaps all impatience looks the same.

My conclusion in the matter is this: if the nieces don't want to play, I will accept that as fact and let it go. This will be something we do not share, and that is fine. Sniff, snort, grab tissue.

And, patience is a muscle. You must practice it to have it. So get practicing already. Sheesh.

Friday, May 21, 2010


I can see the sun this morning. I take that as a good sign.

I apologize for beating this ice dragon, but growing up in Kansas is about the sky. Wide, open sky with a blazing sun beating down on your skull. I don't live in Oregon for many reasons, but one of them is the weather. I need the sun. I need the warm. I need the blue sky.

The weathermen agree (Why wouldn't they? They're all in it together) the next few days should be hot, humid and sunny. I pray that is true. I am not the only one suffering from weather-related doldrums. Even the migratory folks from northern climes are starting to notice the prolonged Winter here in the Sunflower State.

Not that the cool and the moisture hasn't been good for the garden. My ivies have never been larger (including the Poison variety), and we continue to harvest spring greens and spinach from mom's garden daily. Unfortunately, I don't want salad when my teeth are chattering, so it makes it hard to eat that lovely lettuce.

I plan to spend time outside in the heat, pulling weeds at mom's farm and on my real estate, which is slightly smaller than the first plot you get when you start FV. I don't care. In the real world, that's all the space I can handle by myself and sometimes more than I can handle. My real Sweetie is not nearly so much help as my virtual Beryl, and my real neighbors, as I've posted before, are odder than their virtual counterparts. 

If the mood strikes, I may even vacuum my car for the first time ever. That should be interesting.
I will wash my blankets but I will not put them away. Kansas has fooled me before, and I'm not falling for it this time.

So for today, hello, Mr. Sun. Welcome back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Can Relate to David's Sin

I'm not talking about Bathsheeba. Why is that the one everyone thinks of first? David sinned a lot, but no one has made a movie about the others.

No, I'm thinking about the census. David decides to count his army and the result is God sending a plague that kills 70K people. This is one of those passages where scholars debate over exactly what the sin was because the text isn't clear. Was David being proud? Was he putting his faith in his armies instead of God? Don't know.

I do know that a couple months ago I put up a poll to see how many people read my blog daily. I should never have done that. Thankfully, plague hasn't hit my household, but famine has visited this site.

It wasn't a scientific poll. I did it on a lark. But after I saw the numbers, I lost motivation.
That's when I stopped blogging daily. I've been blaming FV, but it isn't the farm. It's me. It's me thinking "Why bother? Nobody's reading it anyway." 

Now, mom, I don't want you posting some comment about how special I am. And for my few faithful readers, I don't want you to feel guilty. Sadly, this has nothing to do with you. It's all about me.
My sin is pride. My pride was hurt, and the result was inconsistent blogging. I'm asking forgiveness of God and my readers, and we'll start again.

I'm not promising to resume my daily blogging ways, but I will try to get back in the habit. I've blogged more than half a year now. I see no reason to quit.

Oh, and I noticed yesterday that Kristen Stieffel mentioned me and Star of Justice a few days ago in her blog at the New Author's Fellowship. Thank you, Lioness, for the mention. May both our days of publication come in God's time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

More Rain

I am most certainly suffering from SAD. Yesterday was great, with the shining sun and the warmer wind. Today is once again supposed to be cloudy, rainy and cold. Like Fredrick the mouse, I'm trying to remember the feel of the sun to get me through the next two days. Our...insert something uncomplimentary... weatherman says this weekend should be sunny and mid-80s. He's only right 50% of the time. In my darkest moments, I plot unhappy things for him.

Kansas didn't used to be this way. I remember when I first moved into my house about 9 years ago, I was out in the mornings in March pulling weeds in 70 degree weather. April was the rainy month and then it rapidly climbed into the 80s and 90s and stayed there until October 31. (See, in Kansas, Halloween is always the first really cold, rainy day of autumn. Why parents haven't figured this out, I don't know. Kids should be wearing Eskimo outfits for Halloween because all those little princesses and ninjas and Harry Potter's get covered up by parkas anyway. Just call the kid an arctic explorer and save yourself 50 bucks.)

I once role-played with a character who was affected by the weather. Turned out she was part-dragon. The GM had to give us a weather report every "morning" so she could decide her mood.

I heard a sermon this weekend about how American Christians are always asking God to make things easier for them (I think it was Chip Ingram). He suggested that's a selfish and ineffective request. Rather, Christians should be praying that God will give them the strength to praise Him through all circumstances.

Ken Hutcherson of Seattle, Washington is a living example. He's a former football player, father of four, outspoken defender of the faith and founder of the free adoption program for Washington state. He's also been suffering from stage four cancer for the last several years. He's on experimental treatments and according to medical science should be dead.

He praises God continuously for allowing him to be a witness to those medical folks during this time. He continues to pastor his church, dressing up every Sunday and preaching a sermon even when he'd rather be retching his guts out from the chemo. When interviewed last year by James Dobson, he could not stop praising God for trusting him with this trial. He is counting it all joy to serve God.

I'm ashamed of my rainy day mood swings when I think about men like Dr. Hutcherson. The shame doesn't really help with the mood swings but it does help me to shut up about it.

Thank you, God, for the rain as well as the sun. Help me to praise you about both.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I'm trying to be cranky today. Actually, I'm trying not to be cranky, but circumstances conspire against me.

My forecasted 70 degree, partly sunny day has become 66 and cloudy with showers. I stayed home under the covers most of yesterday for less. Where is my gardening weather?! Our local weatherman tells me I may see sun this weekend, but I'm not falling for his rose-colored viewpoint anymore. He's lied to me once too often this year.

While arranging my hair, which continues its 10 day streak of annoying me, I cricked my neck and now I can't turn my head without pain. It's working its way into my shoulder. Yippee!

Mica insists on following me around this morning while screaming at me, and I can't figure out what she wants. She's about to get a boot to the head. (Not really. She's so tiny there's no point. A finger flick could knock her over and she'd still be crying, so why bother?)

I have no idea what I'm going to wear to work, but that's nothing new. I've already donned my thermal underwear. If I add a sweater and wool pants, I might be able to get by without turning on my space heater.

I have a battery that tells me it needs changing, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to disconnect it to replace it. It's stopped beeping anyway. I don't know if that's good or bad. I don't really care.

In The Lost Princess, the Wise Woman tells Rosamund she can never be a princess of anyone until she is princess over her moods.

Well, I'm trying, ma'am, but it ain't easy.

I'm going to do my best to spend the day praising God. Thankfully, He never changes, no matter what mood I'm in.

I'm going to cook some breakfast. If I don't manage to burn my house down, I'll hopefully have something more positive to post tomorrow.

Stay warm.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Immortality, part 2

Here's hoping I can pick up where I left off. I've slept since then.

First, some explanation. It was pointed out to me I was using geek jargon in yesterday's post. STNG is Star Trek Next Generation, the one with Picard. It is my favorite version of Star Trek, even if the first couple of seasons were excruciatingly dull the majority of the time and only survived because we fans believed they could do better.

The Trill are slug-like creatures that live very long lives inside of the bodies of humanoids from the same planet. The name "Trill" applies to both races, but the Trill we happen to meet on the show are "joined" Trill, meaning a slug and its host. The STNG episode where we meet them has Dr. Crusher falling in love with a Trill without realizing it's a slug, then finding out, then the slug has to join with Riker to complete a treaty negotiation, and...well, the soap opera goes on from there. But it was the first time I remember thinking "Who wrote this?" about a Star Trek episode with a sense of awe.

"Photokinesis" is the ability to manipulate light. Amy can not only create laser beams from her hands (which she almost never does, actually), she can absorb radiation without harm or subsist on sunlight like a plant. These are useful skills to have when traveling with the Doctor. "Mechanical empathy" is the psionic ability to understand and communicate with any form of machine. It came in very handy with the TARDIS, the Doctor's biomechanical spaceship. See, I stole Big Brother's Marvel Comics Role Player's Handbook and took it to heart. If you can find a copy, I highly recommend it.
On with today's post.

The human fascination with immortality is one of the reasons I believe death itself is a cheat. If humans weren't immortal, we wouldn't mind death so much. And, boy howdy, do we mind.

The new Doctor Who is having a real go 'round with this idea of singular immortality. The Doctor has faced it with meeting an "old" Sarah Jane (the original actress is 40 years older and looks great, by the way), by admitting to Rose that he will ultimately abandon her because she will age and he will not, and by meeting a woman who lives life so fully she dies at 43 from exhaustion. Actually, this makes the season sound like a downer. It isn't. I've enjoyed every moment. I've even logged out of FV to watch.

When I created Amy, I wanted a creature that had the lifespan to interact potentially with every incarnation of the Doctor. I've written blurbs of her with Doctors 3 - 6, and I want to write some with the new Doctors but I'll refrain. I have other uses for my writing now.

In fact, I liked Amy so much, I ended up modifying her just a bit and adding her to one of my worlds. Should I ever write A Star to Sail By about Jessica Travis the Illushan Orphan, Amy makes an appearance in book 3, The Longest Voyage.

My point, I suppose, is that we long for characters that can live forever but we also see the severe disadvantages to doing it alone. Elfquest writers Wendi and Richard Pini knew this when they made the Wolfriders the only mortal elves. Anne Rice suspected this problem in her novels about the vampire Lestat. Buffy and Angel, anyone? How could that possibly work?

In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or The Restaurant at the End of the Universe - I honestly can't remember), Douglas Adams introduces us to one of the handful of the only Truly Immortal Beings in the Universe. This guy was mortal and through a freak lab accident becomes immortal. Adams tells us it was Sunday afternoons that did him in, "that long, dark teatime of the soul when you've taken all the baths you can usefully take for the day" but it isn't yet time for dinner. To give his life purpose, he decides to insult the entire universe personally and in alphabetical order. He insults Arthur Dent twice. I would say Adams has found the trick to immortality. You have to have something to do. What's the point of living forever without a purpose? It would eventually get boring, like an unending vacation.

In Elfquest, the Wolfriders' mortality makes them strong. In Anne Rice's world, the vampires who survive are those who continually adapt to a changing world. Buffy and Angel break up - although that could have been because Buffy was changing networks.

The Doctor solves it by focusing on the positives - the endless ingenuity of the human race and his unfailing ability to get into and out of trouble.

Writers who choose to create immortal characters, I caution you. Your readers may love you for it, but we as a culture have become quite familiar with the "boredom of eternity." Even immortal creatures will need some troubles.

I feel I should also point out as a Christ-follower, I don't fear immortality. If God can create this world I love so much with all its flaws, I have no doubt He can create something that will keep me interested for eternity.

Friday, May 14, 2010


One of the generally unexplored themes of the original Doctor Who is immortality. The writers didn't beat this horse, but the viewer knows the Doctor is quantifiably different than most humans in length of lifespan. Yes, he regenerates into a new person, but that person contains basically the same knowledge and interests as the old person. The face may change, the attitude may change, but the Doctor remains the Doctor.

(Rabbit-trail, if a turtle may be permitted a rabbit trail: This concept is similar to the Trill from Star Trek, the Deep Space Nine Trill, not the STNG Trill. While STNG introduced the Trill as a race, and is one of my favorite all time STNG episodes simply on the strength of the script, the Trill were originally more parasitic than symbiotic. I'm glad DS9 took the time to explore that race through Curzon and Jadzia Dax.

Rabbit trail #2: This also provides a wonderful example of character consistency. What immutable character qualities does the Doctor possess that continue despite the change of actor? Concern for humankind, concern for well-being of companions, unquenchable curiosity and a tendency to be flippant in the face of imminent death are a few. Resume topic.)

During the course of the show, we are introduced to Gallifreyans who, because they don't wander about severely damaging themselves every 13 or 26 or 50 episodes, have lived for 1000s of years. The Doctor and his race are nearly immortal. Add time machines to that near immortality, and, well... you have the potential for a very long-lived TV show.

I've admitted my first writing ventures were rewriting TV shows. Sometimes these rewrites were to correct glaring script errors (like bad plots), but sometimes they were simply to insert my own characters into those shows. One of my first character creations was Amy, and she was designed specifically to interact with the Doctor on the subject of immortality.

Originally, Amy was human. She was was picked up by those abducting aliens we hear so much about (can't remember if they're green or gray) and got caught in an intergalactic battle and killed.
Other truly immortal aliens found her mostly intact corpse. Having no previous knowledge of humans and a somewhat flexible moral code, they resurrected her as a kind of experiment and infused her with their own immortality. She has no conscious memory of her human past, and behaves as one of these aliens, but she looks human except for a faded pigmentation (see? easy on the make-up folks should the BBC ever learn of my wonderful creation).

She also provides a perfect thread of continuity for the Doctor's gallivanting ways, since she is a perfectly preserved, completely unchanging being. I even found a spot to insert her in the TV show timeline - right after the Doctor's 4th regeneration when he's still a bit fuzzy from all that molecular rearranging. I mean, if he has the time to mess up Leela's civilization during that five second disappearance of the TARDIS, he could have another single episode adventure, right? Sure he could.

So Amy was born - an immortal, immutable, utterly unique individual. Did I mention she's also photokinetic and mechanically empathic? Yeah, I was young. But I balanced it with emotional autism that causes problems in later adventures, so I forgive myself for the superpower overload.

In the new series, the Doctor's lifespan has become a conspicuous theme. Thanks to the Time War, he is now completely alone in the universe for real. No other Gallifreyans exist. No other creatures understand what it would be like to go on indefinitely while the universe dies around you.

I'm guessing some other youngster realized the waste of melodrama fodder and is now writing for the show as a grown-up.

I hope to continue this train of thought tomorrow. I'm out of time today. heh.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'll Choose...Ethics

The majority of my FV neighbors have reached levels I can no longer access easily. This is a good thing for my blog readers because it means I will be blogging in the mornings again. It is a bad thing for my FV neighbors because I cannot help them as much as I would like. Such is life.

I have many topics running through my head this morning. It's been a while since inspiration has struck so forcefully but it makes it hard to pick just one.

The new Doctor Who continues to fascinate me. His writers chose to explore the ethical implications of cloning for research purposes (unlike James Cameron's Avatar) even though the Doctor has no appreciable grounds for ethical behavior. His "morality" springs from nothing more than a general desire to "do good."

(I could diverge into the argument that the concepts of "good" and "evil" can exist only within the framework of a moral law, and a moral law can only exist if there is a moral lawgiver, but Ravi Zacharius does it so much better, I'll leave it to him.)

Suffice it to say, the Doctor had a problem with humans being grown solely for research purposes and so do I. As I think about it, in another episode, he refers to using the "souls" of humans as well as their minds to solve an unsolvable problem. Interesting. The pre-2000 Doctors would never have allowed for such a metaphysical possibility as a soul. Perhaps post-modernism has reached a point where no viewpoint consistency is required at all. Or, England is swinging back to some form of conservative sanity. I suppose anything is possible.

Which starts me on the path of consistency. I was recently arguing in Sunday School (yes, I argue in church; deal with it) about how the post-modern lack of consistency has wormed its way into nearly every form of entertainment media. I've spent a few (wasted) hours watching the Disney Channel with the nieces and I can personally attest to the complete lack of logical consistency or even natural consequences in the majority of those shows. It's no wonder children today don't relate actions with consequences. When do they ever see the two linked?

(Does anyone else have a problem with the use of the word "kids" instead of "children?" I personally hate the word when applied to humans, but I must admit, when trying to refer to children between the ages of 10 and 18 as "children," I now feel personally uncomfortable. Thank you, political correctness. And don't get me started on the use of "he or she" instead of "he." Stop messing with my language!)

Where was I? Oh, right. Post-modernism.

For those who don't know, post-modernism is what happens when ultimate truth is rejected as a concept. Our society is smack dab in the early middle of the consequences for said rejection. It's how someone can say, "Well, I don't personally agree with abortion, but it's not my place to tell a woman she can't have one." Right...because murder is okay as long as someone else does it and you wouldn't personally.

Unfortunately, ethics is something being lost, ignored and just plain rejected today. Jeff Goldblum's (oh, that irony!) Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park said it very well: "You were so busy trying to see if you could, you didn't stop to think whether you should."

But maybe the Apostle Paul said it best: "Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial."

'Nuff said. For now.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Love Who

I grew up watching Doctor Who. PBS showed half hour installments at 4:30 every weeknight, right before dinner, and the entire 2 - 2 1/2 hour episode at 10 PM Friday nights. I wasn't allowed up past 10 except for special occasions, so I rarely saw an entire episode at once.

Here's the premise: a nearly immortal alien called a Time Lord (his race is Gallifreyan although not all of them are Time Lords) hijacks a time machine and wanders about the galaxy meddling in stuff his people won't touch and basically saving bits of this and other universes in every episode. He has a special fondness for humans and tends to hang around them a lot, usually hosting one or two as companions on his travels.

Time Lords look human but they aren't. They have two hearts, some telepathic ability and instead of dying, they regenerate into new bodies with their old memories, more or less. This is the truly brilliant idea of the writers, because it allows them to change actors without the audience crying "foul!" Need a new Doctor? Easy. Severely damage the old one, and he'll regenerate into somebody else. The Doctor gets to be the tragic hero, and the writers have a whole new actor to abuse.

Doctor Number Four was who I started watching (Tom Baker for the real fans). Most folks would recognize him if they saw him, even though they might not know who he is. Floppy hat, big nose, buggy eyes, exceptionally long scarf looped around his neck three or four times - yeah, him. That's Doctor Who.

He doesn't always look like that.

I've watched John Pertwee (#3), Peter Davis (#5) and Colin Baker (#6). They did cast a Doctor #7, but I saw him in two episodes and he was so awful I prefer to gloss over him entirely. It would seem the BBC felt the same way because they ended the show with him.

I should pause to say there was an oh-so-terrible-made-for-US-TV-movie however long ago starring Paul Gant and Eric Richards, but they messed with the story line, made the Doctor half-human (ridiculous!) and actually tried to introduce a love interest. I scoff at their pitiful efforts.

Then in 2005 the BBC resurrected the Doctor. They thankfully forgot about Doctors 7 and 8 and moved on with Christopher Eccleston as the unnumbered Doctor of now. Originally, Time Lords were allowed 13 regenerations. This limitation hasn't come up yet, and I'm willing to leave it alone. The Master survived far longer than that...though, to be fair, he was an evil Time Lord.

PBS actually ran the first 13 episodes of the new Doctor Who, so I was able to see and covet. Then funding stopped (I won't complain; I don't support PBS' liberal agenda) and so did my access to the new Doctor Who.

Thanks to Elder Brother - will I ever stop being thankful to him? - I have the next installment.

I adore Christopher Eccleston's Doctor. He's just the right mix of goofy intensity with an occasional unprecedented hardness to him, no doubt brought about by the total destruction of the rest of the Time Lords by the Daleks. I love him, naturally. I love all the Doctors (except 7).

But David Tennant's storyline brings a bittersweetness to the Doctor I find irresistible. It is the same bittersweetness that caught my attention in the first season of Monk. The awareness of mortality and loss. You know, the things that make being human seem horrible and being not-human seem better.
I've watched 5 episodes now, and I can't help but feel it's preparing me for something I'm not going to like. The exit of Rose the human companion, for example.

You see, the Doctor changes companions more easily than he changes bodies. To my knowledge, only one companion has ever died while in the Doctor's company (that was Adric and Doctor #5) but companions do get returned home (Sarah Jane Smith and Tegan), left on other planets (Nissa, Leela and Peri) or occasionally shuttled off to other dimensions (K-9 and Romana, the only other Time Lord to travel with the Doctor for a time).

I will miss Rose. She's a fiesty little gal and I hope she ends well.

I hope the Doctor never ends.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Islands and Bridges

This post idea has been knocking about my brain for some time. I suppose it's time to get it out.

Remember that old Robin Williams' movie where he becomes a hotel owner in the Caribbean? Yeah, I barely remember it myself. But there's one piece of dialogue I do remember. Someone tells him "no man is an island."

"What does that mean?" he replies. "No man is a woman, either."

I love Robin Williams.

Anyway, I think people fall into two categories - islands and bridges. Actually, I think they fall into way more categories than that, but for the sake of brevity, I'll confine it to those two today. (Which reminds me of a Robin Williams' quote from another movie: "There's only two kinds of people - those who smoke and those who don't. Figure out which one you are and be that." Where's it from? Hehe!)

So we've got islands and bridges. What does that mean? To me it's a description of introverts and extroverts.

Introverts are islands. They are content in their own inner world and it is difficult to lure them out of the jungle.

Extroverts are bridges. They are so interested in other people's lives it's almost impossible to get them to pay attention to their own. They certainly don't spend any time navel gazing. They have no idea what keeps introverts so introverted, so they push and prod and pinch until the introvert is forced to walk out to the beach and smack the interlopers.

Both types are necessary. If not for bridges, no one would connect to anyone else. If not for islands, no one would get any work done. Islands are notoriously good focusers on things that interest them. Bridges...not so much. Unless it's getting islands to talk to them.

Not a great post, I'll admit. Not terribly profound or even interesting, but I suspect it will come up again, so I wanted to get it out there.

In college, I had a roommate with whom I was very close. At times, we would look at each other and ask, "Did I tell you this or just think about telling you this?"

Now I've told you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

You may be expecting something profound and heart-felt. I'm not sure I'm up to it.

I have the best mom in the world. Many people say that. I suspect it's true of anyone who does say that. I believe God puts each person in exactly the right family to teach them everything they're going to need to know. If that is true, then each part of that family is "the best" for every other part.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you've figured out my mom is important to me. We are, without a doubt, enmeshed. That's a clinical term often described with a hand gesture. Take your outstretched fingers (jazz hands!) and fold them together so that the fingers of one hand are interlocked with the fingers of the other. That's enmeshment.

It's not necessarily a good thing. It is something that can happen when your spouse and father dies and there's only two hurting people left in the house. It certainly happened to us.

I didn't mind. I never planned to marry, even when dad was alive. I expected to live with my folks forever. Mom tells me Dad would not have allowed that, but I'm thinking I could have convinced him. I'm very persuasive.

What it did was turn a parent-child relationship into a friendship. I'd always been the "little adult." Mom says I was 15 going on 50. My step into adulthood was smaller than Neil Armstrong's step onto the moon.

As the years have gone by, our enmeshment has loosened a bit. She lives 20 minutes and a phone call away. She has a new, wonderful husband. She has her own interests and friends, and so do I.

It's cliche, but there are no words to describe how much I love and value her. Yes, she can annoy me faster than any human on the planet, but she can also comfort me just as quickly. I cannot imagine a world without my mom, and I don't try. I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

Those who are close to their mothers will understand completely what I am writing. For those who are not, I am sorry. I hope God puts someone in your life to provide that kind of equal parts support and irritation. Everybody needs at least one friend like that.

I love you, mom. Thank you for my life.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


This is a difficult time of year for me. Tomorrow will be the 23rd anniversary of my father's death. Yes, he died the day before Mother's Day. Therapists (myself included) will tell you a death near a holiday or other day of celebration (like a birthday) is never a good thing. Of course, therapists should also tell you it's always a holiday somewhere, so suck it up.

You may have heard the old proverb "time heals all." That's a load of compost. Time may put distance between you and the event. Time may provide a crop of memories between you and the event. Time doesn't heal anything.

I miss my dad. Twenty-three years later, I miss my dad. I miss him for different reasons now than I did years ago. I wonder what he would be like. If he would even be alive now if not for that accident. What would he think about current events in this country? How many cars, planes and boats would he have built by now? Would I have married if he'd been here to give me away? That kind of stuff.
I don't wonder if he would be proud of me. That's a nonsense question, as far as I'm concerned. He's my dad. Of course he'd be proud. I'm wonderful.

Have you ever heard "death is just a part of the natural order?" That's a load of compost, too. If death were so natural, I wouldn't have this gaping hole in my heart that my father used to fill and nothing else fits into. That hole exists because my dad isn't here anymore, and that's unnatural.

God created us as eternal beings. He meant for us to exist forever, and we will, either in heaven or hell. For those who've experienced the loss of death, take it as a warning. Pray for your loved ones. Never stop praying for them.

My dad knew Christ as his Savior. He is in heaven. I have no doubts about that. I will see him again, and I'll just have to miss him in the meantime. The Bible tells us we do not grieve as those who have no hope. I don't despair. I don't sob uncontrollably into my Cheerios or go off food for grief because there's no point. I will see Dad again, someday. Just not today. At least, not to my knowledge.

One more piece of advice from someone who's been there. My last words to and from my dad were "I love you." I encourage you to make those your last words in every conversation.

Except maybe with your boss. Something polite will no doubt serve in those instances.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Do Movies Run Through Your Head?

I was lying in bed, regretting that late night M&M Sonic Blast as only the lactose intolerant can, mentally reciting lines from Conan the Destroyer when it occurred to me not everyone may do that.

A few weeks ago I started posting a daily "where's it from?" movie quote on my FB wall. Now, I write it early in the morning, so it's likely many of my Friends don't even know it's there. Elder Brother has certainly failed to chime in on occasions when I know for a fact he would recognize the quote, but he has other things to do.

I've been surprised by who knows which movies. I've been amused by a few who've never seen the movies but feel compelled to answer. Seems you can find just about anything with Google nowadays. Is it cheating? Shrug. Only if I gave a real prize instead of a "well done!"

Fact is, every quote I post is one that happens to be running through my head at the time. In my life, I've watched 100s if not 1000s of movies, and I remember stunning amounts of trivial information from those I like.

I am an audio/visual learner. One of the reasons I did so well in school. Auditory learning is my main strength. Couple it with watching a teacher do stuff while droning on, and you have a student who can ace almost any test given within a few weeks of said lecture. You also have a human who imprints movies like a duckling imprints its mother upon hatching.

I suspect I can quote nearly verbatim any movie I really like. So I Married An Axe Murderer was memorized in two sittings. The Money Pit, Galaxy Quest, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (the live action version from 1980 complete with soundtrack) - no problem. I actually hold back my quoting capacity in company "because I'm tired of being stared at (where's it from? It's a paraphrase)."

I've done this most of my life. Decades ago, a friend finally figured out that "key words" trigger this knee jerk need to quote. I suspect I could speak only in movie quotes for some time. Add in TV shows, and I would never utter another original sentence. Remember that Star Trek NG episode with the aliens who only spoke in metaphors? Like that.

But I don't. I keep it for those few close friends who don't stare, and the late night Sonic Blast regret sessions. How about you?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Only So Many Words

Have I learned an unflattering truth about myself? I want the instant gratification of a FB response.

I love to blog. It appeals directly to my need to connect with people yet maintain a comfortable distance from people. I'm a little weird.

But my couple of faithful readers may have noticed a change in my blogging schedule. Now yesterday wasn't exactly my fault. Mom spent a day in the hospital (she's fine and back home as of 5 PM yesterday), but I was a bit tired from the sitting around in cold waiting rooms and the sporadic bursts of weeping, so I didn't feel much like posting. However, that's only happened once in the last two weeks, and I've missed more days than that.

I could blame my schedule on FV, but I don't think that's it anymore. I bought a tractor, so the planting is happening much faster, and thanks to the advent of warmer weather and longer days, I'm getting up at 4 AM every day, so I have an available hour to blog.

No, I think it's the FB posting. I can get instant comments from my FB Friends on whatever I say on line, and I like that. I like being noticed. See? Not flattering. Add to that my awareness that many of my readers are interested in my writing career which is on hold until high summer, and I feel no particular need to spill my guts every morning on subjects that interest me and no one else, which is odd because I would think I'm more self-centered than that (that was a really long sentence). My life - the dichotomy between intimacy and control.

I probably have no excuse for not posting regularly except at the moment I don't have much to write about. But I did add a reader (a FV neighbor) so I'll try to do better. I promise nothing profound. I am cutting back on FB time, so we'll see if it translates into resumed blog time. If it doesn't, I have no reasons or excuses left.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Are These People?

I've reached an age where the layers of my life are starting to blur together.

It may surprise those who have met me to learn I am an introvert. I have this on the authority of the Myers-Briggs personality testing tool I had to take for both degrees, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate. According to this test, introvert was defined in a way that made total sense to me. An introvert is someone who is more comfortable inside her head than outside it. That is me.

I do not measure my life by the events that include other people. I generally measure it by what I was reading or watching at the time. Age 6 to 12 was Star Trek/Doctor Who/Anne McCaffrey. Age 13 to 15 was The Dark Crystal/Quark/Lord of the Rings. Age 15 to 19 was The Money Pit/Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy/1000+piece puzzles. I know people were around during those times but very few of them made an impression on me. Even fewer are still part of my life.

College was when I began to realize other people could be interesting, but I was unprepared for paying attention to them. I did learn some memory skills that have served me well during the years, but I was still in the habit of finding one person and using them as my bridge to life outside my head.
The problem with using someone else as your memory is you lose that part of your life when you lose that person.

As I've gotten more involved in FB connecting, I'm "finding" people I know I should know but I don't know why or how I know them. The worst part is, I think a few years ago I would have been able to remember. Now I can't.

Am I getting stupider? I suppose it's possible. I did watch that 15 minutes of Teletubbies one time. I'm sure I lost IQ points doing that.

In the years since college, I have tried to pay more attention to the world outside my head. It isn't easy. I am quite fond of my own mind and spend a great deal of time there (Caissa and I do share this trait). But I have learned the outside world can be interesting, too. One Christmas I gave The Flash a journal and encouraged her to use it (I'm sure she hasn't) because I see those same introvert traits in her. Quiet as she is, some of her questions have convinced me she runs deep, and I hope she shares Aunt Robynn's ability to learn from the mistakes of others. It is a far easier way to live.

Last night I pulled out my high school and college yearbooks. It is amazing how many people I used to walk past. What happened to them? How many keep in touch with each other? How many are dead? How many are parents or grandparents now?

An extrovert would go out and look them all up. Being an introvert, I'll just wonder. Being a writer, I might make up some stories about how their lives continued after our paths diverged. Being stupider thanks to those Teletubbies, I'll probably forget all about it after I publish this post.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Our paster is expounding on 1 John. In the nearly four years I've attended this church, I've yet to hear him finish a sermon outline, so I have no idea how long this will take. The concept of chiros at its best. I think I spelled that right. In Greek, you have chronos, the kind of time measured by a watch, and chiros, fulfillment time or when it's ready time. The pastor will be done when he's done and maybe not then.

This is part of a series on how you know you're saved. Remember: John was one of the 12 disciples, and one of the 3 often found with Jesus during the big stuff. He wrote the book of John as well as I and II John.

I John 5:1 says "Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him." My pastor's first point is you know you're saved when you love Jesus.

Interesting question for me. I don't know if other people are put together like me, but there is very little I would say I love. (I could include food, but I'm trying for a more serious tone).

I should probably define love before I continue. So many definitions, after all. I believe the pastor is using it as a sense of affection and duty that encompasses your entire being. The old "love the Lord your God with all your mind, heart, soul and strength" from Deuteronomy. The Hebrew shema (that's for you, Mr. Isom!).

In this sense, I love my critters, too much, probably. I sometimes wonder if they are my stumbling block. God and I had a falling out over one of them several years ago. He's since resolved it - I certainly couldn't have - but my attachment to them may not be a good thing. I cannot stop it, and I wouldn't want to be the kind of person who doesn't feel that way about her animals, so I guess I'm stuck.

Using this definition, I love my family, and using this definition, family is a tightly defined word that includes my immediate biological family and a very few extremely close friends. I may be fond of others. I may go out of my way to treat them well, but that is a dutiful love, done because it is right, not out of any particular sense of good will on my part. This admission of want of feeling may make me a horrible person, but there it is. If I'm going to bring it up, I'm going to be honest about it. Perhaps others out there function the same way.

Dr. Gary Chapman wrote an interesting book called The Five Love Languages. I purchased it as a wedding gift and read it before I gave it (it's always a good idea to read a book before you give it to someone). My love language is quality time. I feel loved when someone shows interest in me, and I express love by spending my time with someone else. It's very simple. If I take the time to be with you, I love you. There is no other reason for someone as self-centered as I am to spend time with another person.

All of those with whom I spend time may now be assured of your place in my affections. For the rest, well, I'm not nearly as wonderful as I think I am, so don't worry about it too much. And if it does worry you, just give me an Oreo and tell me how great I am. I'm obviously fickle.

So, do I love Jesus? I practice a dutiful love toward Him. I know what He requires and I try to do it. But I don't always feel love toward Him. In fact, I rarely feel it. I suspect it's because I can't sit face-to-face with Him and talk. I can read His book, but it's not the same. I can pray to Him, but often that feels like talking to the ceiling or, worse, myself. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation of God within me, and He's supposed to comfort me and answer me, but, again, it's not the same.

So I must admit, I don't love Jesus the way I love the physical people in my life.

Let me pause to point out, Jesus is physical. He is alive in heaven and occupying the first physical, resurrected body, so I could touch Him if He chose to let me (Thomas did). But He remains in heaven until the Second Coming, so I must muddle through for now with a concept instead of a construct. That's scriptural, too, though. Paul says our faith remains in the unseen, because what is seen is not faith. Jesus Himself blessed those who would believe without seeing Him.

I suspect once again, praise is the key. "He inhabits the praise of His people." Perhaps I would feel more love if I spent more time thinking on why He's worthy of love. Perhaps I would feel more love if I spent more time getting to know Him through the resources He's given me: the Bible, the Holy Spirit and other Christ-followers.

I have no excuse for not loving Jesus. He's certainly shown a great deal of interest in me. That should appeal directly to my fickle nature. "The fault is mine and so must the remedy be."

Forgive me, Jesus, for not loving You as much as You deserve, and help me daily to love You more. Amen.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Today was just warm enough for me to be outside without a coat. I spent several hours in my real garden, moving fallen tree branches, pulling enormous dandelions (boy, have they enjoyed the rain) and mowing.

The mower seems fixed. Why none of my FB Friends suggested adding oil is a mystery, and I will be asking them later tonight while I'm harvesting FV crops. At least Wordcrafter asked if it had gas. I take no offense at such questions. Sometimes the obvious escapes us until someone else points it out. Getting mad at them is silly. I'm the idiot who didn't see the obvious.

Fortunately, I had lawnmower oil and thanks to Big Brother's example of turning the mower blades by hand -or in my case, by kicking - I was able to get the thing started. I mowed both front and back yards, and it started both times. I can't tell that I've put enough oil in so I'll add little bit each time I mow until I can tell. Summer is looking up, and the grass is standing down.

The dandelions have finished their first set of seeding, so technically it's past time to pull them. I don't care. I won't use herbicides and I don't mind dandelions. They're the first thing honeybees use in the spring, so I leave them until other flowers have started.

Iris are up all over the yard. I have several varieties of purple, white and yellow. Normally, they would be dead already, but the cold mornings and excessive clouds have slowed them down a bit. The peony buds are swelling. I can't wait for those babies to open. All of mine are what I call "common pink." They have big, fluffy heads and an overwhelming rosy smell. Mmmhmm. I do love peonies.

Now my back hurts from bending over, although mostly I knelt or sat on my weeding blanket. I'll keep stretching tonight to hopefully ward off the worst of tomorrow's aches.

In short, it was a good first day of May. The dog is tired and so am I. With clear weather on the horizon, we should make it through the night without a weather radio alert.

A good day, indeed.