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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Practicing Forgiveness

Every decade or so my world gets shaken. It's probably more often than that, but I'm trying to be positive. Usually this shaking comes in the form of someone doing something that is completely out of the character I understand them to have.

I'm not a good judge of character. I have no instincts, no intuition. I measure folks by one yardstick, really - me. What would I do in a similar situation? Which is why I often get the hell shocked out of me when someone doesn't choose the path I would.

Most of the time, this is surprising but not world-shaking. Most of the time, this doesn't cause a problem. Every once in a while, though, this surprise leads to shock, disappointment and anger.

Had one of those happen recently, and I'm struggling to deal. This is the time to apply that "forgiveness" lesson I learned last November.

See, forgiveness is a choice. It's me being aware a wrong was done, but not marking it in my Book of Wrongs and reviewing it nightly as I plot revenge. I know the wrong occurred. I will take steps to deal with the consequences. I will not brood over how I was wronged and how that person should now burn in hell for eternity.  I will not allow one wrong to ruin the rest of my life, or the rest of my relationships.

It's hard. I don't have good instincts, but I have an excellent memory. Burn me enough and we are done. Not because I hate you, but because I won't live my life in a fireplace. I doubt that's how Christ would do it, but I'm not Him yet.

Anyway, today is a day of forgiveness. No wrong done against me will destroy my eternity, and I will trust the real Judge to deal with true wrongs in due time. God has my back. I don't have to waste another emotional minute on this.

Happy Hump Day, dear readers. Choose to forgive today, for your sake, not theirs.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Out of the Study

If my WIP were a sketch, I would have rubbed through the paper by now. I have written, re-written, pondered, procrastinated and persecuted my brain for how to get them out of there. I can't gain enough traction to propel my people out of this scene.

They're close. The door swings open, inviting. They just have to walk through it - against all common sense and leaving Obvious Danger to stab them in the backs. No thinking person would do it and these are thinking people.

I'm almost ready to just write the next scene. No transition, no idea of how they did it, just the assumption that they did on the hope that somewhere in the future a brilliant and obvious "of course!" moment will wake me at 3 AM and I'll actually get up and write it down before I forget.

However, if past is prologue, the moment I move them on without regard for how they get there, some snag will arise that makes where they move impossible and I'll have to rewrite anyway. Obvious Danger must be outsmarted or defeated or neutralized for the time being.

Good Lord. I just thought of how to do it. Literally this moment thought of a way. Gotta go.

Happy Friday, dear readers. May you find inspiration in your most frustrating moment. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Answer

I am officially The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything. Yes, today I am 42.

This will be the first birthday I do not eat an entire 3-layer German's chocolate cake in celebration.

I don't have a good track record with birthdays. They tend to be all about me. Yes, I know that's how they normally work, and for normal people, that system works well, but for an egomaniac like myself it leads to tantrums, unreasonable demands and self-indulgence of truly epic proportions.

No more.

I am now The Answer. Today I shall be gracious. Today I shall be kind to all those who are not The Answer. Today I am All There Is, and I have no reason to be petty about it. Today I will march out my door with a Pan-Galatic Gargle Blaster under my belt, my Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses on my face, and my towel firmly in hand.

Don't panic. I am here, and I am The Answer.  

Oh, and regarding all those previous birthdays...

"We apologize for the inconvenience." 
Douglas Adams 
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall in The Swamp

I'm learning my ideal gardening environment is 45 to 65 degrees on partly cloudy days. The lower the temp, the less "partly" on those clouds, please.

It's been a looooong time since I've tried "Fall-cleanup" in The Swamp. Not sure if I've ever really tried it. It's more the kind of thing vegetable gardeners do than flower gardeners. While the weather has been kind with mild temps and sunny days, the sun rises after 7:30 AM and sets around 7 PM, so it's a race to get home and get dirty while I can still see the shovel.

The asparagus bed with added space for garlic.

I've moved the raised bed dirt into the flower bed and the "almost finished" compost into the raised bed. I've dug up the 10x10 Wild Plot in the middle of the yard and seeded with fescue, mostly because I can't maintain all the beds I want to have and Sweetie does need a bit of lawn for butt-hunker running purposes. That sounds so easy. This is the part of the yard most destroyed by the arborists, so with every shovel, I'm hitting rocks and buried tree branches. Fortunately, I've forgiven that crew, so I'm not furious anymore.

I expanded the asparagus bed slightly to allow for a garlic bed, too. Seems you have to leave garlic alone for a while if you want multiple cloves.

I'll seed this swath, too. No more vegetables so far from the house. I'm considering making a dividing line of ornamental grass (you can see the grass I'd use just behind the tomato. I'd do that in the Spring.

I tore out the disappointing tomato plant last night. It tried, poor thing. It just couldn't get any traction with the weather. Next year, I'll go back to "Early Girl," even if I have to buy two because the first one dies. There's something to be said for an indeterminate tomato.

Up here, maybe it won't be so frost-susceptible. It will certainly be easier to smell.

I transplanted half my lilac bush closer to the house. I meant to move the whole thing, but lilacs sort of turn into masses of suckers, so I took a mass of smaller suckers and moved them. I may move more in the Spring to the south side as part of the "green screen" I'm planting between me and the Neighbors to the South. The ornamental grass from last Spring is doing it's bit, but everyone appreciates a well-planted lilac bush.

That's lemon balm and lamb's ear in front of the lilac. Both are "weeds" and should provide plenty of ground cover for next year.

I hope to switch out some peonies for lamb's ear in the rock garden. The peonies don't get enough water back there and the lamb's ear is a bee friendly weed, so the move makes sense. I also plan to transplant autumn sedum (or live forever, as we call it around here: a Kansas weed sold in garden catalogs to other States) to the back because butterflies love it and it can take the sun and heat. Don't know why I didn't think of doing it before.

If I can remember (and resist), I won't buy annuals next year. I should have enough self-seeders to keep the flower bed going and I'll transplant herbs to fill the bare spots. My annuals just didn't like the weather this year, and I did not get my money's worth. Considering the number of volunteer basil and dill that came up from two plants in 2012, I shouldn't have to buy those ever again. I hope.

That's a quick summary of how I'm spending the dying light of an evening and the daylight of a weekend. I'll be suiting up in winter gear to collect leaves, too. My compost bins are empty and momma needs brown stuff.

Happy Hump Day, dear readers. Get out while you can. Winter is coming.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Stupid Humans and the Zombie Apocalypse

Season four of The Walking Dead is underway. Two amazing episodes so far. Here's hoping they can keep up the tension.

I'm not generally one for end-of-the-world story lines. I hated Stephen King's The Dark Tower as soon as I read the back explanation. I completely avoided the Left Behind series. If it says "dystopian" in the blurb, I walk away.

Until you add gore, I guess. Something about decomposed bodies going splat as they fall from 20 foot heights piques my interest.

Four seasons of this show have brought home one stark reality, though: no one can survive a zombie apocalypse.

Let's assume for a moment that a zombie virus only affects humans (true in The Walking Dead, not true in Resident Evil, another series of zombie movies I love for the fight scenes). You still have 300 million - give or take maybe 20,000 - Americans now morphed into mindless, unstoppable killing machines. We'll ignore the rest of the world for the moment.

Those unstoppable killing machines eat anything that moves. That means all land animal life will eventually be eaten by zombies. All the mammals, for sure. Massive extinction in a relatively short amount of time. Add that all living humans now carry the zombie virus and automatically become zombies at death and you're beginning to understand the meaning of "apocalypse."

Survival for humans would depend on three things: food, shelter, and killing zombies. That's really the only things anyone should focus on. No in-fighting. No political systems. No "does she love me or my best friend?" musings. Unless killing zombies is high on the list of priorities, you will run out of food and shelter and you will die. And become a zombie.

By this point in the show, the zombies are at least 10 months old. They're getting pretty rotten. They're still dangerous, and I'm glad to see the survivors are more cautious than ever, probably because they're tired of watching people die. But no one alive should walk away from a moving zombie. The goal of every mission out should be 1) search for supplies and 2) destroy as many zombies as possible. You have 299 million (assuming we've lost 10K live humans in the last three seasons) to dispatch. It's more than a job; it's a career.

Our survivors on The Walking Dead haven't quite figured this out yet. Maybe they don't want to face that truth. Maybe they're tired. Maybe they tried during the spring hiatus and they've decided it's too costly. It doesn't matter how costly it is. It's the only chance humans have.

I don't worry about it too much. According to a Facebook quiz, I won't last 16 hours into the zombie apocalypse because I won't leave people behind.

Happy Monday, dear readers. Enjoy your lives while you have them. The zombie apocalypse is coming and we won't get out alive.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another Way to Flesh Out a Character

Spent a little time last night with Creating Characters: Heroes of Legend by Paul Jaquays and my old gaming dice (and an extremely pupil-dilated Caleb when those dice hit the desktop). With some help from my former DM, I found a clear downloadable version of this out of print book (at least, I couldn't find a recent copy or an old one for less than $50).

Once upon a time, this book helped create Caissa, Kirk, Galena, Rhami, the Harvarkoset children, Raven and Horus. Every character from Star of Justice I first role-played or used as an NPC for a role-played character.

See, some characters spring to life fully formed in my brain. Some need a little help. Like Merritt's mom and siblings. Didn't know he had siblings, did you? Well, he does, but I couldn't quite get them to step out of the shadows of his past and introduce themselves.

We writers are encouraged to know our characters well (some more than others). We're not supposed to write everything we know into the story, but we should know more than we tell you. I can't always pull "fun facts" out of thin air, and a character generator program doesn't give me the specific, hands-on control that I prefer. They also don't go as deep as I like to go into a character's history.

This book is made of tables. Birth Circumstances. Childhood Occurrences. Skill Sets. Blessings and Curses. All kinds of fun and quirky bits that can spark imagination and make a two-dimensional character way more fun.

TT: Remember Raven's reference to her "third birth?" She wasn't talking conversion, folks, but I won't spoil that story just yet.

Merritt's mam is first on the list and coming along nicely. If I want to be slightly more focused on my WIP, I should roll for Gowan Rudebeck next, but Jezreel MacEwan has been bugging me about her backstory anemia longer, so she gets first turn.

Anyway, should be a clickety-clackety weekend as I role those d20 and 2d10 and whatever else Paul wants me to throw.

Happy Friday, dear readers. May your character creation be fruitful and your 20's excessive.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Doctor, Doctor, Leave Me Alone

Yesterday, a FB friend asked for testimonies concerning holistic medicine.

My doctor is an advocate and practitioner of healthy lifestyle choices as both preventive and curative, which matches my philosophy if not my habits. I don't know if that makes him holistic or not, but it means I will go see him if I'm on the brink of death because I don't think he'll push me over. OK, maybe 24 hours after the brink of death. I mean, I might get better on my own. Why not? I got sick on my own. No point rushing it.

I don't trust doctors in general. I consider the majority of them to be pill-pushing shills of the drug companies, much like the FDA. How else can you explain 60 second commercials for new pills where 40 seconds are warnings about all the horrible things the pills can do to your major organs, immune systems and anyone "who has been to certain regions where certain fungal infections are common?" What on earth does that even mean? These commercials are then followed by the ambulance chasing lawyer commercials asking if "you or a loved one have suffered" any of the list of symptoms, including death, while taking any of these medications because "you may be entitled to a large cash settlement" so contact them right away.

Yes, I watch too much cable TV.

I don't think doctors mean to be pill-pushing shills. It seems to be a matter of training. "You're already 200 lbs overweight, pre-diabetic and don't listen to me anyway, so here's a pill covered by insurance that masks most of your symptoms. Let's see if that helps. Of course, your liver might stop working and you could go blind, but at least you can keep eating pork ribs." So we take Tums instead of avoiding the BBQ with the fiery peppers in it. Maybe your body doesn't like fiery peppers. Maybe that acid reflux is an honest reaction to a stupid action and if you stop the stupid action, the symptoms will stop.

Obviously, this isn't every doctor or every patient. I'm using sarcasm because I'm feeling better.

This vertigo thing has me thinking I do need to see a specialist. I should make sure it's the congestion holdover from a cold that I think it is and not a tumor or alien implant or brain-eating pre-zombie virus I might hope for. My current method of slow-and-steady treatment producing slow-and-steady improvement seems to confirm it's congestion. I'm on day two of no morning wobbliness or nausea. That means it took six days to feel improvement on a condition that probably took six days to reach its apex of discomfort. I'm OK with those numbers.

I am blessed to have a relatively healthy life so far. If family history is an indicator, breast and colon cancer may be in my future, as well as hip and knee replacements, but I'm doing what I can to prevent those. TV has convinced me a major step is to avoid taking or using anything approved by the FDA in the last fifteen years.

For those of my friends currently experiencing serious health issues, I am truly sorry and I am praying for relief for you and wisdom for your doctors. On the one hand, we live in an age where actual cures exist. On the other hand, finding them may be as deadly as the disease.

Happy Wednesday, dear readers. Thank God for the health you have and pray for someone who suffers more than you do.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vertigo Continues

My thanks to those of my readers who now recognize my whiny-day rants as little more than over-reaction to sleep deprivation (either that or you're all so busy having real lives you barely noticed me - good on you!). Those self-pitying bouts rarely last more than 24 hours.

The sleep deprivation continues, however. The antihistamine is helping, but I won't take it at night anymore. I don't know exactly when my eyes opened last night, but I'm guessing 2 or 3 AM when the time-released meds time-released. I don't know for sure because once again I couldn't turn my head or body without turning the world upside down. Getting very tired of that. So there I lay for hours, motionless, unable to sleep or get comfortable, waiting for something to happen. Preferably an asteroid, but, you know, I'm flexible.

When the alarm went off at 5, I sat up carefully like yesterday and thought I did a good job - until the cold sweat kicked in. No idea where that came from but I sat completely still for about 5 minutes while sweat poured out of me and soaked everything. I managed to get a trashcan in place because what usually follows sweating is puking but that didn't happen. My temp was normal: 97.4 (that's normal for me).

A quick check of webMD says it could have been anemia, low blood pressure, possible mini stroke or motion sickness.

I'll choose motion sickness for $500, Alex.

I don't remember a sickness where I felt worse lying down than standing up, but I'm getting mighty tired of that, too, in every sense of the word. Tonight I'll go back to the Benedryl and motion sickness medicine combo that worked a few days ago. The Turtle needs sleep.

I've avoided wheat like the plague, and I'm eating pretty much rice and green vegetables trying to get rid of the mucus in my head. I am better during the day. It's night that has me flummoxed. Stupid night.

Happy Friday, dear readers. Keep your heads up and your noses clear.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Justice for My Characters

I could turn over last night without wanting to throw up, and I was able to sit straight up this morning with only a little dizziness. The Wal-itrin-D is working its generic drug magic. I'm not pushing it, but I may just survive this bought of vertigo.

I took my own advice about my WIP. You know, that advice I told myself last week about not focusing on what I couldn't do but considering what else I could do? I rearranged the scene slightly and the difficulties have smoothed out. Most recent hurdle jumped. Check. While I did it, I realized I've forgotten yet another plant I'll have to add to previous scenes. I never had this trouble with Star of Justice.

Do you ever feel like you're not doing your characters justice? I was thinking about Patrick Carr's second book and how he had all the makings of a really great story and fell just a bit short. Will I do that? Will I fail to give Kiven and Lucki all the room they need to be truly brilliant? I love these characters. I want other people to love them, too.

I understand why George Lucas keeps going back to original Star Wars (I despise him for it as only one who shares that log in the eye can, but I understand). As often as I sit at my keyboard and compare what I'm doing now with Star of Justice, I want to give up. That book wrote itself. I didn't have to decide what to do next; it just happened.

Frankly, it was too easy. It didn't prepare me for the bleak reality that some stories have to be planned. They need plotting and research and rewriting and adding plants and a ton of other stuff my arrogance thought I was past.

For all my admonitions and complaints about the hard work of writing, I hadn't realized it gets harder every book. I hoped at some point some of this would become old hat. I suppose if I wrote to formula, it would.

But I want to dazzle. I want unique, and plausible, and humorous and bittersweet and all that other nonsense I promised myself I would never worry about. I want better than Star of Justice, but apparently it's going to be harder than I expected and without any of the joy I once experienced. Writing isn't fun anymore. I dread opening the manuscript. I fear the second book syndrome. I'm paralyzed by indecision, like Sarah with the Helping Hands. "Which way do you want to go?" 

In short, I care too much what other people may think. I hate you all a little for that. Why did you have to like my book? Why couldn't you have ignored it or stopped reading at chapter three? No, you had to keep going and tell me how much you liked it. You had to tell your friends. You had to congratulate me and give five stars.

I'm glad you enjoyed it. It may be the only thing you get from me in your lifetime.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. Hope your day isn't starting as whiny and self-loathing as mine.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Vertigo and Self-Medicating

Woke up with vertigo yesterday - severe enough I fell over instead of getting out of bed. This isn't unprecedented. With my history of motion sickness and allergies, every so often the head plumbing gets clogged and the balance gets wonky.

Haven't fallen over before, but I'm getting older, so why not? Of course, lying there until I starve isn't an option. For one thing, those dogs won't let themselves out. By the third attempt I was on my feet and not tossing cookies, so I downed a motion sickness pill to at least prevent the puking and made plans to swing by the pharmacy on the way to work.

Last time this happened, the doc prescribed an antihistamine. Once I halved it so I didn't drop unconscious half an hour after swallowing the pill, I was on the road to recovery. That was years ago.

This time I went with a non-prescription antihistamine, although it was still behind the counter and I had to show my photo ID and sign away my firstborn (if I ever have one) to get it. Sorry, future child of mine, mommy needs to walk upright. I chose the 12 hour non-drowsy because I want to be drowsy at some point during a 24-hour cycle. Mine tends to come at the 3 PM long, dark teatime of the soul, but I continually hope for that 9 PM to 4 AM slot.

This left 12 hours when I wasn't covered by the antihistamine. What to do? Take a motion sickness pill to attack the symptoms, or take a decongestant to attack the problem? Yes. I took both, and lived to blog the tale.

This morning I only fell over a little. Thank You, Jesus. Motion sickness is bad enough when you caused it by sitting in a rocking chair. Experiencing it while sitting still is beyond annoying.

Happy Hump Day, dear readers. Keep those kleenex handy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Editorial Preference and Feet

Got inspired. Thought I'd share it with the folks over at

Why, Why, Why Did I Put Them in the Study?

This is driving me crazy. I thought I'd kept the "plant" details sketchy when Caissa mentions that insane man and his non-magical construct in Star of Justice, but I was wrong. So wrong.

I shouldn't have put them in Gamaliel's study.

I did it because the scene at the time had them in Gamaliel's study. I hadn't written the rest of the book, but that scene seemed pretty clear cut. I mean, Kiven and Lucki had to be there, and they had to have met both Gamaliel and Caissa, and the study was the most obvious place for that meeting to occur.

Until I rewrote the scene. Now it's like trying to put Skamper into a cat carrier. Lots of push but no progress.

I remember observing Big Brother teaching an aikido class. His sparring partner grabbed his wrist, and Big Brother asked the class if that was a problem. "Am I under control?" or something to that effect.

A chorus of "yes's" from the young pupils.

"Nope," Big Brother said. "He has my wrist. He doesn't have me. I can do anything I want with my brain, with this hand, this foot or that foot, my torso, even that hand he has." Then he did one of his little aikido moves and his partner hit the mat and proved his point.

I'm in the same place. This one little snag has my wrist, but it doesn't have me. It doesn't have the power to stop me unless I give it the power to stop me. The mind leads the body. My mind must agree this isn't the huge problem I'm making it out to be, apply a little kote gaeshi and drop this sucker to the mat.

Easy to say. Harder to do.

Happy Friday, dear readers. You have options today. Exercise them. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Difference Between Cats and Dogs

Sweetie the dog and Simon the cat both had dental work done in the last six weeks. This is the first time for both, and both had known dental issues when they went in. They're about the same age, although it could be argued since Sweetie is a big dog, she's older than Simon the cat.

Sweetie had one tooth pulled and came home with heavy duty pain meds, extra antibiotics and obvious pain for the first 24 hours. She wouldn't open her mouth, so I dissolved her meds in water and used a syringe to squirt them in the opening between her back teeth. Give it two days, and she was better. A week later, and you'd think we'd knocked five years off her age, the sweetheart.

With this recovery curve in mind, I was extremely reluctant to put Simon through that. Cats don't take meds like dogs do. I knew Simon had at least two cavities, and that means extraction. If my sweet girl had such a hard time the first week, what would it be like for spoiled Little Brother, who can be a real toadmonkey even in his best mood?

I read an article in the Tufts University cat magazine Catnip that claimed cats do very well with tooth extractions. For most, it's a new lease on life.

OK, that's most. What about my guy? Would he be "most" or the "least?" The article was convincing and my vet is skilled. I took the chance.

I can't believe how true the article was. Simon came home without pain meds, without extra antibiotics, and other than a severe case of the tipsies that had me running after him to prevent landing slippage, no apparent side effects at all. I even fed him a little wet cat food that night, probably more than I should have, but it was either feed him or put him in a carrier to prevent him from searching the house like a dopehead on a munchie binge.

If your pet has cavities, spend the money and vacation time and get them out.  Yes, it's harder on the dog than the cat, but bad teeth cause all kinds of other expensive problems no one wants to see. I wish I'd done it sooner for Little Brother. He probably does, too.

Happy Thursday, dear readers. Hug those furry family members and check their teeth when they aren't looking.