Writing is a journey, not a destination.

Search This Blog

Friday, July 30, 2010

Go To Bed

Why is our culture so hostile to sleep?

I like sleeping. I like dreaming. I like 4-hour naps with the cats surrounding me and the dog beside me. I don't always get those, but I like them when I do. I guard my sleep time, sometimes with sleep-deprived hostility.

I seem (once again) to be the exception. My Lamb has fought sleep all her post-womb life. My Friends regularly post to FB in the wee hours of the morning, and I'm not talking my wee hours of 4 AM, 'cause that's when I get up. For these folks, if they're posting at 4 AM, it's because they haven't been to bed yet. According to the ratings, somebody is up watching The Tonight Show. Is that really necessary?

I learned in college that sleep prior to midnight is worth more than sleep after midnight by a 2-to-1 ratio. One hour of 10 PM sleep is worth two hours of 2 AM sleep.

It's no wonder the world is so cranky. I'd suffer from road rage, too, if I'd had a three-hour nap where my good night's sleep was supposed to be. I'm cranky right now after two days of missing my bedtime deadline by more than an hour.

I recently heard this author on Focus on the Family. He recommends turning off all stimulus at least one hour before bedtime. That means radio, TV, computer, IPhone: all of it. We can't sleep because we don't give our brains time to slow down and get ready for it. I can attest to that. After a day of inputting, I need some time to process. If I don't get it while I'm awake, I pay for it at bedtime.
It was a fabulous interview, and, I suspect, it is a fabulous book. You can also get it through Focus on the Family.

Anyway, that's my musing for the day. I have to decide whether to see My Lamb's play tonight and miss my bedtime or tomorrow night and miss my bedtime.

Tough choice.

Just saw this on FB. My thanks to David James for putting it up there. Takes about four and a half minutes. She does mention sleep...

Baby Girl Babbling About Some Hilarious Topics

Just click on the link and enjoy! Then go to bed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Normal? Not Me

My parents were relatively normal. I had a relatively normal childhood. My brothers... well, they're not that normal, but they do seem able to integrate into normal society with little fuss.

Why, then, do I continue to be the weird one?

Is it my firm belief that most people are, at the least, unaware, and therefore I should not model my life after theirs?

Is it my belief that current culture is inherently unhealthy in every sense and therefore should be eschewed?

Is it my determination to live my life according to natural and Biblical principles because I've learned doing so allows me to function at my best?

I don't know.

I do know I go to bed when it's dark and get up when the sun rises, whenever those times happen to be. I could never live in Alaska. I'd go insane.

I know I keep my house at 82 in the summer and 68 in the winter because seasons exist. Having the technology to maintain a constant temperature doesn't make it right to do so. (Doesn't make it wrong, either, but why live in a place with seasons when you ignore them?)

I know without enough sleep I get cranky, baggy-eyed and haggard. Don't call me after 9. I'll be in bed, and I will make you pay for the interruption.

I know practicing respect for all life makes me calm. I don't allow flies to live because I think they're reincarnated souls. I allow them to live because killing them harms my soul. I hate death. I hate contributing to it.

TT: Oddly enough, I am not a vegetarian. I think God's permission to eat animals was real. But I do advocate the respectful treatment of animals, even those we raise for food. And I could never eat an animal I've known. If I had to kill it, I would starve to death.

So, I remain Weird Robynn (or Weird Aunt Robynn to the nieces). I'm totally okay with that. Normal is vastly over-rated in my opinion.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Told You So

I knew it was coming. I said it was coming. Guess what? It's here. The Time Crunch.

Crafting Cottages appeared finally (WOO-HOO) on FV, but all the recipes have 6 hour maturation rates. That's not okay for those of us (I use "us" loosely) with a real life. It hasn't stopped me from making 4 batches, but, still...

Plus, some of my neighbors are stumped by the Cottage concept, so I wrote a quick primer late last night on Virtual Buttercups and posted it to FB. Later than usual for me, but apparently I care enough about FV to stay up. If only that were true for things that really matter.

It's the first time I've posted something to FB from one of my blogs. I've added buttons that let anybody do it, so, if you're a FB Friend and you think I've written something your Friends would want to read, feel free to post it to your Wall.

It's one week before the Kansas Primary, and all the campaigns I work for need that last-minute volunteer push to get people out and voting (hopefully for the right person, but, hey, who am I to know who that is?). We decided last night to hold two rallies in the next 3 days. That's time. Time well-spent, I hope, but time.

Allow me to put in a little plug for Kris Kobach, running for Sec of State. He is the guy who helped Arizona write the new immigration law that's causing all the fuss. He is also the guy who will work to safeguard Kansas elections from voter fraud. He's spent his entire professional career doing just that as a Constitutional professor and lawyer. I personally agree with him that voter protection is a civil rights issue. If my vote can be cancelled by a dead person, my right just got infringed. I'm not okay with that.

And, last but not least, the revision bug is biting me about Elementals. I read the mss this weekend. I have some work to do and I'd like to get it done and move on to Past Ties.

I was listening to an interview yesterday with a Christian author who has written 49 books. After the interview was over, the interviewer was joking about writing two books at once and getting the plots confused. It was a silly joke (sorry, Tim) but it was true. I could not possibly write two books at once, any more than I can ride a bike and drive a car at the same time. I doubt any author could do it (or do it well). But I also don't believe people can "multi-task." Everybody does one task at a time. Some may do it faster. Some may do tasks within tasks, such as washing and folding clothes. But it is still one task at at time. Anyone who can do something else has a brain disorder. That could be my professional opinion.

So, I will focus on my one task at a time, doing my best to use each minute well.

I wish I were the kind of person who could put my unrushed time to better use. But this is why I would make a lousy vampire. I need the deadlines, and they have to be imposed by someone else.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Win

Over the years, mom may have regretted giving me this book as a child. I took it to heart. It's the story of Helen the Spider, who started life as a boy's pet and ended up Queen Spider at the zoo, keeping everybody happy by catching mosquitoes.

Seems it's out of print now. That's too bad. It was a good book with a "green" message I can actually support.

I have spiders. I'm an organic gardener, and that means I want spiders in my yard to deal with insect pests. Spiders do that, you know.

At one time, my house was surrounded by trap spiders. I call them "tunnel spiders," although I'm not sure that's what they are. Their webs form tunnels that drop the prey into the spider's waiting jaws. They are hunting spiders: long, lean and scary-looking.

Over the last few years, the trap spiders have vanished. I don't know why. I leave their egg sacks when I find them. I rarely kill them. Even the ones who find their way into my house get escorted back outside with the help of a glass and a thick piece of paper. Maybe it's the cold weather.

Now I have garden spiders. But they are weird-looking. The first time I saw one, I thought it was a spider eating another insect. Garden spiders have giant, round abdomens, but these guys have abdomens shaped like a Minbari bone crest. But, they're spiders, so I leave them alone.

Except, two of the little critters have been spinning their webs across my front door. I have a porch with a post outside my door. You can approach the door from two sides. The post hosts a huge Jackmani clematis (and a tunnel spider at the very top). These little spiders have each taken a side of the porch on which to spin their lovely little webs.

As I said, I don't kill spiders. I try not to kill anything (that's another post). I've been trying to convince these little guys to spin their webs somewhere else. Even three feet higher would do. It's a bit of a gamble. Every time I destroy a web, I'm destroying its food source and forcing it to use energy to spin another web. I've done my best to be very careful to keep as much of the web intact as possible when I move it. Yes, I'm weird. We've established that.

Yesterday, I succeeded. One spider has found enough bushy bits of clematis to hold a respectable web, and the other has moved its web up about three feet. I haven't been out this morning, but I'm hoping this is still true.

They aren't Helen, but they could be her cousins. And they're welcome to all the mosquitoes they can catch. I have 15 bites on me that attest I have more than my share available.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Little Depressed

Over the last week, it's occurred to me, I've been a little depressed.

Well, yeah, you're thinking. Your grandma died.

Yes, she did, and that's part of it. But Grandma is in heaven. Her troubles are over. Mine just keep on going.

Not that I have it bad. I have a job, a home, family that love me, money in the bank. I live in America, the greatest country in the world, even if I'm the only one who thinks so. And I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, which pretty much trumps everything else.

So what do I have to be depressed about? Let's see.

My job is becoming more stressful by the day (in this economy? Shocking!).

I worry about my home, what will happen to it and my little ones if the Cap and Tax bill gets pushed through Congress this winter as predicted. I'm already bracing for my employer to drop my insurance and force me into a government plan (what employer wouldn't? Keep my insurance, my big toe). A useless government plan that won't cover the mammograms I'll need to find the breast cancer I'm 65% likely to develop in the next 10 years or the treatments I'll need when it is finally found. Which is fine, because who wants to live as a socialist anyway?

My family and friends are facing their own stresses: some economic, some relational, all difficult. They aren't my problems, but they feel like my problems because I love these people.

Money in the bank never feels like enough. That's the problem with trusting in money.

America is falling into such a state of decadence and decay we may never recover. I turn on the news or the radio and I see and hear evil. I don't want to live in the end times, but I wonder if I am.

I tend toward the melancholy naturally, and when I look around, it is far too easy to see the bad things. Makes a turtle not want to get out of bed in the morning.

But I'm not called to look around. When Peter got out of the boat to walk on water, all he had to do was keep his eyes on Jesus. It was when he looked around that things got troublesome.

So, I'm going to keep my eyes on Jesus. Doesn't mean I'm going to hide in my shell and let the world do what it wants, but it does mean I don't have to be responsible for everything and everyone. Shoot, I'm barely responsible for myself.

Reading Elementals, a book I wrote while studying the power of prayer, I am reminded of God's awesomeness. He is where we are not. He sees what we cannot. His plans will unfold in His time and His way. And as His child, I may suffer here, but I will glory there.

Go away, Depression. I don't have time for you anymore.

Later that day...

It occurred to me the bad hair could be a major player in this. I had no idea just how vain I was.
How depressing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Best Friends

I am blessed to have several best friends (three at the moment, and one pending). I know technically there can be only one "best" of anything, but I have no other way to describe them.

A best friend is one who knows what you're thinking before you open your mouth.

A best friends puts up with your rants until you're done, then reminds you to grow up and get over yourself when you're ready to hear it.

A best friend gives you her FB password without hesitation.

A best friend understands why you're upset.

A best friend knows how much you can take.

A best friend listens even when you're rambling a bit.

A best friend takes 3 tries to actually hang up the phone.

A best friend doesn't pay attention to distance or time. Neither have any relevance to true friendship.

I don't know why I have best friends. Some days, I don't know why I have friends at all. I certainly wouldn't put up with me if given the choice.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It Starts

I cannot think that sentence anymore without hearing Nathan Lane as Timone from The Lion King. You know the line. It's right after Simba abandons them to hang with Nala. I can't reproduce Lane's accent, but it does play in my head, every time.

Thanks to Elder Brother, I've loaded Word onto my new computer, and subsequently, all my Word files, i.e. stories.

I can't find my printer software, so I don't yet have the ability to print from my new computer. That is a problem. Oddly enough, whether I intend to print or not, not being able to print bothers me. I do my writing on the computer, but my editing is done on paper. This problem will eventually be overcome, I'm sure. Even if I have to buy a new printer.

Kansas primary elections are August 3, and I support several candidates who have primary competition. The next week may be quite busy. After those votes, election season will begin in earnest for the general, unaware population, and I suspect my weekends and probably evenings will be spent walking, calling, emailing and praying for candidates. I would hope my readers' time will be similarly spent in their own states. This is not an election to ignore in favor of FV. None of them are, really.

Which is unfortunate, because FV is getting ready to release the much-anticipated (by me) Crafting Cottages, and those will take play to a whole new level. A friend of mine posited that FV is controlled by liberals trying to keep conservatives occupied while they take over the world. If the timing of the Cottages is any indication, she may be right.

All of these converging events mean I will be possessed by the Muses shortly. They always show up when I don't have time for them.

That's okay. As long as I'm writing.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Bad Hair

I am not a fancy lass. I don't wear makeup. I prefer soap to perfume. I have no piercings to fill. I wear two rings and a 10-year old watch. I keep my hair long for two reasons: it's cheap and it's easy. Kinda like me.

Long hair doesn't have bad hair days. Worst comes to worst, you gather it into a ponytail and wait 'til the next day to try again. Actually, Phoebe Buffet and the late 90's are the best things that ever happened to my hair. With the emergence of decorative banana clips and artistically mussed stylings, I gained the confidence to try French twists, quick buns and dangling side tails. They were fast and they worked, two things I like in a hairstyle.

Earlier this year, I got it into my head to cut my hair short. The last time I did this was November 27, 2003. I'd just put my dog Wicket to sleep, and I performed the American equivalent of shaving my head in grief. I donated the hair to Locks of Love.

It was a great cut. I blew it dry with a brush, the hair curled under in a perky pageboy without effort, and I got loads of compliments I believed.

I let it grow out because...it's cheaper and easier. I have better uses for $25 a month than my hair. Feeding six cats to prevent them from eating me in my sleep comes to mind.

So, when a co-worker who is also a stylist told me she'd cut my hair for free, I considered it. What did I have to lose? I kept thinking of that famous philosopher from King of the Hill, Bill Deauterieve, the Army barber. He told Hank's niece not to worry about cutting hair because "it will grow back." No matter what happened, I thought, it will grow back.

I got the cut. I liked it. It was shorter, it was perkier, and I could still pull it away from my face if it was acting naughty. Then I got a little crazy. Hoping for a repeat of 2003, I cut it short. Very short. Too short.

My hair isn't what it was seven years ago. I've gained wave and coarseness and neither of those are inclined to settle into a perky pageboy. Add that to the five cowlicks (I just realized I don't know how to spell that) dotting my head and you have a recipe for disaster.

I should point out I also cheated on my stylist by going to someone else for this Very Short Cut. This daily exasperation may be my penalty for folicular adultery.

My bad hair day became a bad hair month, bad hair quarter and looks to be a bad hair bi-annual event. My hair is refusing to grow back. Shocking that The Billdozer could be wrong. I've had 3 cuts in the meantime to shape and trim the ends in the hopes that this will encourage new growth. These are little, bitty trims, too. I'm talking millimeters here, not inches. Nothing. I still have to shave my neck before I leave the chair.

The compliments I've received in the meantime only make it worse. Those who comment are either a) commenting because they noticed the cut (how could they not? We're talking 18 inches of hair gone) and know a comment is expected, b) not really looking at the hair or c) dumber than I thought they were if they think this is an improvement. Okay, "c" is snotty, but four months of bad hair has made me extremely cranky about the subject.

I've tried hair dryers, curling irons, flat irons, mousse, gel, hairspray, smoothers and leave-in tonics. My 60 second hair care routine has become 20 minutes of swearing at the mirror every morning only to finally pull the top section into a barrette anyway. The same barrette. Only one is the right size to hold such short hair. The rest of the hair curls and twirls every which way unchecked and infuriates me whenever I see my shadow. Have I mentioned it's been sun and clear sky since The Cut? Mr. Murphy had something to say about that phenomenon.

Commenting on my hair has become a life-threatening event. I think mom actually pulls people aside to warn them now.

I hope one day to awaken and find my hair finally brushing my shoulders. I suspect at this point everyone hopes that.

What have I learned? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And, most importantly, if they have to shave something, it's too short. That's true for more than hair, by the way.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Behind the Scenes

When I was puppet director for our church puppet team, I added a special performance to our general offerings. If our team was performing for an audience without children, which we did on occasion, we would perform one song twice - the first time as usual and the second without curtains. For those who aren't familiar with puppetry, the curtains hide the puppeteer. We used two sets of curtains, higher in the back for the tall puppeteens and low in the front for the shorter ones. I wonder if I can post one of our videos here. I wonder if I have one of our videos. We were quite something. Hmm.

Without fail, the performance without curtains got the most attention. I chose our "coolest" song - the one with all the puppets, all the signs, all the special effects - the song that people generally loved and talked about afterwards when performed as usual. But seeing the behind-the-scenes of that song brought a whole new understanding to our viewers about puppetry, and hopefully a whole new appreciation for the skill required.

My father was a hobbyist photographer. We have many beautiful pictures of skyscapes he took while on the islands. One picture is of another friend, Don, lying flat on his stomach in a field of grass, camera aimed as sweat pools along his back under the tropical sun. What could Don be going to all that trouble to capture?

Turns out - nothing. We have Don's picture from that time. It is of grass. Not even interesting grass. Now, maybe whatever he was trying to photograph wandered off while he was getting ready, but the two pictures tell very different tales.

I love the SPFX shows from the 80's and the special features of today's dvds that give back story to the movie. I love to know how the monsters work, and the inspiration for the various wardrobes, and how the actors get into character before filming.

I am curious, but not about the kinds of things most people find interesting. I don't care how old your children are, or where you went on vacation (unless it was the moon), or what kind of car you drive. I want to know how FV programming works, or why words mean what they do, or how that guy inside the giant cloth slinky makes it move like that (you've seen the youtube video. I know you have).

TT: Oddly enough, this does not translate into a desire to know how magic tricks work. Yes, I'm weird. Get used to it.

This blog is my behind-the-scenes. Here you will glimpse what goes into that story you hopefully enjoyed so much. Maybe knowing how I struggled to write Elementals will make it more special for you. Maybe knowing my writing process will help you find your own. Maybe just knowing there is someone weirder than you in the world is worth the price of admission.

I have no other reason for writing here, really. If it doesn't work out, I can always go back to puppeteering. I was pretty good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Horror Novel

I have an idea for a horror novel. It started as a nightmare - a real, honest-to-goodness nightmare where you wake up all sweaty and heart-racing and grab for the nearest dog or cat just to know something alive is nearby.

Once I turned on all the lights and checked the doors, I jotted down some notes. I saw potential.
But the story remains unwritten.

Those who know me will think this is just my normal procrastination kicking in. A little, but not as much as you might think. Fact is, after reading the wonderful book How To Survive a Horror Movie, I got the urge to write a humorous horror novel. I'm pretty sure I could do it, too.

Yet, I hesitate. Why?

My answer may amuse those of my readers who are familiar with my fictional work, but I don't want to put horrible images in people's heads.

Yes, I remember the slaughter of Laos in Star of Justice, and the vermin hunt from Elementals. Those are horrible images. I grin and apologize at the same time. However, a horror novel exists for the sole purpose of exploring horrible things. They aren't addendums or side trails. They're the whole point. I don't know that I want to do that to a reader, even one who picks up the book after seeing the scary cover or reading the ominous title.

TT: Oddly enough, I don't have a title for that story. I just call it "horror."

One image from my nightmare is so awful I get goosebumps thinking about it right now. Shudder. Do I really want to share that with another human being? Would that be okay? Even if it turns funny later? I don't know.

So, the story lurks in my file cabinet like an alien in a service shaft.

I'll let you know when it comes out.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blah Blah Blah

This blog's one year anniversary is coming up (I don't remember when exactly) so I've been thinking about it a lot, even though I haven't been writing on it so much.

Have you noticed a change in my tone? Those of you who've been with me from the beginning, and I'm happy to say that's most of you, may have. I certainly have.

Ever since I lost my spellcheck, which would be when I added the Amazon linking capability (and, boy, what a great idea that was, she types with sarcasm), I have completely let my writing style hang out. I don't bother to check myself anymore for the most part. I do a quick preview if I have time and then publish away and move on with my life.

Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be with a blog. I recently read a post on Facebook from a link by Grace Bridges of Splashdown Books (now that's a long string of qualifiers) that was making fun of blogs. I hadn't read any blogs prior to starting my own, and I only read the blogs currently listed on my "blogs I follow" list, so even now I don't know much about how they run or what they're supposed to provide the reader. But this particular gentleman was explaining how he didn't blog because he didn't share every stupid feeling he felt or rattle on about the foods he liked or praise or complain about TV shows. Well, I've done all those things on this blog, some of them with some extremely humorous results, if I do say so myself.

That could be a good thing, like I'm doing what bloggers do, or a bad thing, like I'm doing what bloggers do. Anyway, add it to the disheartening realization that I do seem to be typing to read myself type, and it's enough to make me throw away my passwords.

Then I think about The Least Read Blog on the Web, who's been doing this for years without apparently needing anyone to read him, and I have to cock my head and wonder what's wrong with me that I need so much attention? Or perhaps, what's wrong with him that he needs so little?

Anyhoo...for those few faithful readers who do bother to scan this little site, I want you to know this blog is not representative of my fictional writing style. In my fiction, I write in character and the character determines the writing. I apply proper grammar standards, but otherwise, I do very little as I do here. Except for the funny. I manage to be funny, for the most part. My readers tend to laugh in the right places, anyway, and that's enough for me.

I also avoid first person like the plague in my fiction, but it's kind of hard to write my viewpoint from third person. I probably could but...too much work. Yawn.

This blog is my speaking voice, not my writing voice. This blog is a future fan's glimpse into the scary workings of this creative mind, should a fan ever be fanatical enough to care.

Believe me or not. A few of my readers - mom, Elder Brother, My Dear Friend, The Lioness - can attest that these posts are not like my books. Not yet, anyway. I have a few stories up my keyboard that sound more like this, but they are probably years away from being written. Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe it's just a thing.

So, that's my rattle on for today. We'll see what strikes my fancy tomorrow.

And you can be assured the muse is prodding me because I have about 4 other things that really need doing right now. Time to pick one.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Heaven's Lounge Singer

This morning I had the great pleasure of listening to Wade Daniels, currently worship leader of First Southern Baptist Church of Bartlesville, OK. He was passing through our city on his way to a worship leader conference in KC and was gracious enough to stop in and lead our Sunday service.

I have never heard a worship leader like Wade. He originally came from Texas, but he could have come from Vegas. He was as comfortable with a piano as I am with a fork.

At one point, he asked for hymn requests from the congregation. Not only did he recognize every hymn by title, he had them memorized and played them in what I have to call "lounge singer style." They weren't just chords. They were dips, arpeggios, little chirpy notes for In The Garden - it was one of the most amazing things I've ever witnessed.

I do not understand music. The writing of songs is as foreign to me as math. I can pluck out a tune on a piano, but I will never play well. Not if I practiced every day for the rest of my life. I don't have it in me.

God created this beautiful world in all its diversity. He gives to each as He sees fit. I'm just glad when one of His own decides to give back that I am there to witness it.

If I don't see Wade again in this life, I know I will be visiting his mansion in heaven. His room will have a piano and possibly some tiki torches, and he'll have to throw me out when it's time for bed.

Thank you, Wade, for using your gift.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Lousy Vampire

Have you noticed the general state of "enlightenment" in today's vampires? A secular humanistic worldview would posit that, given an eternity to fill, naturally good humans would seek to improve themselves (also seen in the movie Groundhog Day). Since "the new" vampirism has removed the demonic aspects, we are left with extremely long-lived humans, after all, so why not let them be Renaissance undead?

Dracula is the ruler (as in measuring device, not leader) when it comes to vampires, and he did show a certain amount of class. Yes, he was a little behind the times, but he ventured out of his castle when he realized it was stay and perish. Anne Rice's vampires, starting with Louis and Lestat, discovered their vampirism was caused not by a demon but by a spirit that happened to crave blood. It was neither good nor evil, and a man remained what he was before he was infected. Poor Louis. But it did allow vampires who managed to survive more than one human lifetime to adapt and "better themselves."

Nick Knight in Forever Knight, that so-melodramic-but-somehow-hypnotizing-anyway Canadian offering of the 1990's, was 800 years old, spoke multiple languages, played piano and had a hidden fortune of several billion dollars which he used to keep himself in electronic window shades and out of pesky databases. He made excellent use of his immortality, even though he wanted to become mortal again.

We have the vampires of The Kindred, who ran banks and bars and playhouses. They didn't seem to be immortal -just long-lived- but the show only lasted 8 episodes, so who knows? And don't forget Moonlight, another melodramatic, incredibly painful to the ears, short-lived show with vampires who'd been around since Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. That was the only mildly interesting twist in the whole poorly-written time-waster (yes, I watched every episode).

So, what have we learned by this walk down Hollywood Boulevard? Today's vampires are chic, savvy investors who make excellent use of their endless days by learning a musical instrument and relying on compound interest to line their nest eggs. What you don't see is a vampire on a shrink's couch pouring out his lament about the long, dark teatime of the soul and wondering how many roads must a vampire walk down.

My conclusion? I'd be a lousy vampire. I barely have the motivation to get out of bed some mornings, even on a workday. If given all the time in the world, I wouldn't learn piano or another language. I wouldn't seek to better my eternal self. I'd sit in a recliner and watch QVC until the cable ran out because I forgot to pay the bill.

I would make a great zombie, though. I barely pay attention as it is, and I'm always looking for my next meal. Since I've already determined I'm unlikely to survive a zombie attack, I'll consider this good news.

On a side note, I think of all the Hollywood offerings, Joss Whedon got it closest to what I consider a real vampire - a demon in human form. Demons don't think about the future. Demons don't invest in mutual funds. Demons rip your neck open and drink your blood even if you are the last human on Earth, and they'll starve to death without you. That's what demons do.

So, if we use Joss' vampires, I'd probably do okay because it wouldn't be me trying to fill a potential eternity of laziness. It would be a demon with my memories just moving from meal to meal. But, again, that's pretty much a zombie.

This post is brought to you by a strong determination to procrastinate on beginning revisions of Elementals. I'm making excellent progress so far. Now, where's the remote?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Family of Talkers

Today is the final day of memorial duties for Grandma Byrd. I am glad. While I appreciate all the food, it is not on my diet and I am suffering from wheat, vinegar and potato overload. Yes, I could just not eat it, but that would be rude. And, while seeing family is good, seeing too much of family can be bad. I am ready for my life to return to some semblance of normal.

When Dad died, there was no semblance of normal. We had to make new normals for everything. I wonder what "normal" without grandma will be like.

Yesterday's memorial service was the funniest I have ever attended. Remember that line from The Addams' Family when Morticia is reminiscing about meeting Gomez at his cousin Balthazar's funeral:  "Your eyes, your mustache, your laugh."

Grandma was a funny lady, and I think she would have liked that her funeral was full of funny stories, heart-felt appreciation and deep respect. I didn't cry until the last song "Abide With Me." I've never heard it. Why was it special to grandma? What meaning did it hold for her? I don't know. I can't ask now.

My cousin Bil...what is the verb?...presided? performed? conducted? the service. He did a fantastic job. This is only the second time I've heard him preach, and the first was at his other grandma's service. If he continues to do well, he may be conducting services for all our family members. I write the obits; he performs the service. What a legacy.

Two family members spoke about grandma, and spoke well. As they talked, exceeding the 3-minute time limit half-heartedly set before the service, I realized we are -with a very few exceptions- a family of talkers.

I remember taking friends home to meet The Fam and having them complain about everyone talking at once. Well, at the Byrd House the only way to be heard was to be louder. If you didn't interrupt, you didn't speak. This is in direct opposition to how it's done in some other homes, I learned. I had one friend whose family spoke together almost like a scene from Pride and Prejudice, waiting for the eldest to pronounce judgment and then chiming in in chronological order. I found it weird.

Grandma rarely talked with me. If I understand yesterday's stories, she was mostly a listener. I tried to be interesting for her in those last years when she was homebound. I tried to tell her about my life and the world outside. I don't know if she heard me. Mom tells me grandma enjoyed it when I was there, 'though I couldn't tell. In the end, I would just sit on the bed while she watched infomercials.

I didn't know my grandma like other people knew my grandma. I shouldn't be surprised by this. I rarely do things like other people.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Turtle's Thoughts on a Grandmother

People think I was close to Grandmother Byrd. They would be right if they meant physically close. I lived within a mile of her. I drove her and her friends to lunch every Sunday for 7 years (only missed 2 days due to sickness). I resembled her so much I have a picture of her at my age and we could be the same person. Her wedding ring fits my finger as if made for it.

But Grandma was a hard person to be close to - for me, anyway. I can't speak to anyone else's experience. Here is the sum total of what I learned about her over those seven years of Sundays:

She gave advice better than she took it.

She liked sweet and sour shrimp, Applebee's riblets and Taco Bell tacos. She preferred almost anything to rice, but mashed potatoes were her favorite. She liked applesauce, jello fruit salad, and corn.

She didn't like small children or animals, although she pretended to like both, and pretended very well. I'm sure most people were fooled.

She traveled a lot, but she was a homebody at heart.

She hated chit-chat. She would rather read the newspaper aloud than make small talk. She would also hand off the phone to anyone else in the room to make the small talk for her and then ask for the pertinent parts of the conversation after the call was over.

She didn't like to be hugged, except by very specific people on very specific occasions. Most people did not qualify, even when they took the liberty.

She loved coffee and missed it terribly when she had to stop drinking it.

She embarrassed easily but covered well.

She paid children to be cute.

And that's about it. 

She was a very private person, my grandmother. Bless her heart, she tried to open up, but it wasn't her cup of coffee.

I don't know if this post would embarrass her. I've debated whether or not to even post it, but it seems to be part of my healing process. I would hope it would not lead anyone to think less of my grandma.
She was an elegant lady who spent her life serving others, even though I sometimes wonder if she would rather have been left alone to read a book. If that's true, she's an even better person for doing the right thing instead of the selfish thing. And that, I know, is something about her to emulate.

See you on the other side, grandma.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My First Publication

I wish it were a different topic. My family asked me to write it, and it was printed in its entirity in the Topeka-Capitol Journal:

Naomi Kopanger High passed away at McCrite Plaza Retirement Community on July 2, 2010, surrounded by family.

She was born July 12, 1914 in Bloomfield Township, Traill County, North Dakota in the farmhouse her Norweigan immigrant grandfather, Jens A Kopanger, homesteaded in 1871. She was the daughter of Joseph Christian Kopanger and Selma Opheim Kopanger.

Skipping several grades, she graduated from school in Hillsboro, ND in 1931 and from St. John’s Hospital Nursing School in Fargo, ND, in 1935 with her RN degree. She married William L. High in Carson City, NV, on November 23, 1937. She worked as a nurse in hospitals in Fargo, ND, and St. Paul, MN; and as a surgical nurse in Ft. Dodge, IA; Reno, NV; Las Vegas, NV; and Roseburg, OR before moving to Topeka in 1947. She worked in the VA Hospital in Topeka, KS, and worked with iron lung patients during the polio outbreak of the 1950’s. She was a nursing supervisor at Christ’s Hospital and a special nurse at Stormont Vail Hospital before retiring professionally. She remained willing to offer medical opinions for the rest of her life and taught her grandchildren how to make "hospital corners" on beds. An oft-heard quote in her later years was "I'm a tired and retired nurse."
She was a member of Quota Club International and a 60 year member of Eastern Star Loyal Chapter #176. She was also a member of Fairlawn Heights Wesleyan Church. Her true passion was ministering to the families of recovering alcoholics, a 50-year pursuit that continued even to a few weeks before her death.

She is preceded in death by her husband Bill, who died February 3, 1999; her sister Muriel Mast of Reno, NV; her sister Juletta McGuin of Reno, NV; her son-in-law, James I. Tolbert of Topeka, KS; her step-son, William Richard High of Knappa, OR; her step-son, Donald “Donnie” High of Astoria, OR; and an infant grandson, Daniel Joseph High, Jr. of Garden City, KS.

She is survived by a sister, Winifred Jane Kopanger; a son, Daniel High and his wife Deborah of Branson West, MO; two daughters, Sammy High Tolbert Peck and her husband Ed of Tecumseh, KS, and Julie High Thompson and her husband Stanley of Topeka, KS; a step-son, Kenneth High of Orem, UT and his wife Arlynn, a step-daughter-in-law Shirley Romm High of Knappa, OR; 30 grandchildren; 19 step-grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, 31 step-great-grandchildren, and countless others who benefitted from her listening ear and wise words.

Donations may be made to Heart of America Hospice or Topeka Rescue Mission.

The irony? Grandma never read any of my stories.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who Is My Audience?

It is my understanding, the age of the main character determines the age of the reader. Hero's age - 3-5 years = age of audience. That means I wrote Star of Justice for 18-20 year olds. Elementals was written for 10-12 year olds.

Why, then, are the people who enjoy these books the over-50, don't-read-fantasy crowd?

My uncle, who is a bit over the 50 mark, started reading Elementals this weekend. He swears he couldn't put it down and was unwilling to leave town without a CD of the manuscript, even though it's technically a first draft.

On the other hand, I took my dummy notebook to the nieces and was met with dull-eyed stares and raised eyebrows about the size. Doesn't matter that the word count is likely lower than the first Twilight book. They wanted nothing to do with it.

Which leaves me with a quandry. One, how do I get some young readers to give me feedback? I don't, probably. I can't even get them to feed my chickens and that takes about 90 seconds.

Two, how do I market a book about teenagers to adults? I can't change the age of the protagonists. It wouldn't work if they were older. Are the themes too adult? It's basically a coming of age tale, but in a harsh, short-lived society, where children have to grow up fast and young.

The age of my main characters will incline many publishers to see "Young Adult" and reject it out of hand. However, the darkness of the story itself may frighten off traditional Christian publishers, although the secular books my nieces read sound far more objectionable to me. No one is using meth in Elementals.

I suspect the nieces would like it if they would just read it. Maybe if I dedicate it to them, and tell them it's about them. Hmm.

I'm hoping my uncle's infatuation is just that I wrote Elementals as a "fast read." I stepped hard on my natural desire to describe and wrote in broad swathes, sort of a charcoal sketch instead of an acrylic painting. It was not easy. In fact, I imagine it was like galloping a mustang while sawing on the bit. It was so uncomfortable to write, in fact, I've been having trouble picking it up to revise. I know I have to do it, but I'm a little gun-shy.

Anyhoo, I'm left with the trouble of finding a publisher. Again. I may resolve the whole issue by just self-publishing. Then I'd only have to find some writers to help me edit.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Shelled Up

Dealing with some personal issues I don't feel are appropriate for sharing on the blog at this time. See the tortoise? That's me.

My apologies. I hope to be back at the keyboard shortly.