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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye, 2015. You Were Wrong

I don't mean wrong as in right vs. wrong. I mean wrong as in "unsuitable or undesirable." I tried very hard to get along with 2015, but my feelings say I hated it.

The weather was wrong. Too much rain, too many clouds, too mild. No wind, except for the severe weather threat (meaning strong tornado chance) every 7 days starting in March, taking a brief break at the end of September into October, and ramping back up with tornado outbreaks from Thanskgiving through Christmas. That's insane. Normally, I catch a break in winter and summer to recover from from my tornado issues. No break this year.

The social climate was wrong. Everybody's upset about something and bitching about it at the top of their preferred social media. Can't get on the computer without reading about who hates what, or who's being intolerant or how suicide and gender-swapping surgery are admirable, and if you disagree, you're a bigot and deserve to be beaten with a rubber hose.

My attitude was wrong. I spent the first five months of the year furious, and the next three grieving. Thankfully, God reminded me about forgiveness, so I've been working through all that, but strong emotions take a toll.

My body was wrong. My back has twinged before, but this year it decided to become a full-blown weather barometer, and I've had to adjust my definition of pain. My mouthpiece stopped working for reducing jaw and neck pain, which is fine because the crown made it impossible to wear anyway.

A few good things happened, mostly in the last three months.

Forgiveness, for one. That's a daily exercise, but totally worth it.

Daily exercise is another. I found Miranda's Classical Stretch in late September, and I'm growing longer and more flexible all the time. Days started with stretching are good days.

As a result of the increasing hostility on Facebook, I quit Farmville and limited FB and computer game time. That has made such an improvement in my overall mood and cognitive capacity, I strongly recommend all my Friends start reducing their online and/or gaming time and see what happens. I'm almost convinced that my general depression was being fed by too much mindless computer time.

I now have a line-of-sight end date for the mortgage payments, which gives me a short-term financial goal and a wary hope for the future. It also gives me something to work toward for the next 3 - 6 years, and I like that idea a lot.

I started reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. That book has made such a dramatic impact on my mental state, I'll likely devote several posts to it. Next year.

In short, a few good things crammed at the end, but mostly drawn-out, emotionally exhausting wrongness. Not my favorite year.

Goodbye, 2015. Let's not call each other.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Blog Review

I've noticed a few things as I've been reviewing this blog.

I usually post when I'm cold and unhappy in the dark of Winter, occasionally upset by current events. If I'm too upset, I don't post at all because I don't want Mom thinking I'm suicidal.

The fact is I was suicidal once, and I never will be again. I'm not chemically unbalanced, and my life is lived on the melancholy side of things. It doesn't bother me anymore. Not in a kill-myself way.

I do have an obsessive bent. Blogs topics focus on one thing for two weeks to a month and move on. Thankfully, I have the self-control to not obsess with money on a new thing. If I can hold off buying for one month, I usually snap out of it and move on. Things that stick with me longer than that are life habits. The Blood Type Diet (11 years this January), cats, excelling at my day job. Essential oils and "natural" living (like bone broth) are the newest at slightly over two years, but they've stuck.

I want to add "writing" to that list, but I've almost decided to give it up. It doesn't make me happy, and I've chronicled my growing aversion to the task over the last four years, using every excuse in the book for why I have trouble producing. On the other hand, I've written stories for most of my life, and perhaps one "season" where my writing happens more at work than at my home computer isn't a failure. And it has definitely been happening at work.

I'm not nearly as detailed as I thought I was in this blog-journal. In my quest to avoid unprofessional TMI, I've left even myself wondering what I'm referencing on some of these posts. Something was going on, but I can't for the life of me remember what the fuss was about. That's probably good. Do I really need to dwell on past unhappiness when I have a whole world of future unhappiness to anticipate?

Finally, I worry. A lot. That and pride are my big Jesus-working-on-it issues. They're kind of the same thing. Pride says I can control everything in my life. Worry says I control nothing. A kind of inner tornado that never lets me rest.

Ah, well. If I were perfect, I wouldn't still be single.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Monday, December 28, 2015

I Hate Waiting

I spent yesterday waiting for the winter storm to arrive. Woke up at 2:47 AM and waited to hear if the storm would affect when I had to go in to work (it did), and now I'm waiting to go in to work.

Normal people slept through the night, woke up just enough to hear "work delay" on the TV or radio, and went back to sleep for two more hours.

I'm not normal. I can't go back to sleep once I wake up, especially if I'm waiting for something to happen. Not only did I not sleep after 2:47 AM, I can't take a nap until I have to leave. So I blog.

Reading through this blog, I realize I've been waiting for a while. Years. At least 20. Not sure exactly what I'm waiting for, but I suspect it's the end of the world. I've pretty much expected the world to end in my lifetime, and I keep being surprised it hasn't happened yet. It's why I never wanted to marry. Why I never wanted human kids. What's the point? The world's going to end.

I go through the motions of living. I bought the house. I published two books. I keep a job so I can feed the furkids. I mean, if I'm wrong and the world doesn't end, I have to live. I'm not willing to kill myself.

But it's just motions. None of it means anything to me. I have no sense of accomplishment. Just the waiting.

Paying off the mortgage has become my "next step" goal. Something to keep me occupied while I wait for the end. Not the best goal, maybe, but it has possibilities.

Anyway, happy Monday. If you're lucky enough to be normal, enjoy your life. Never know how long you'll have it.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Vomiting Cats

I said on Facebook I was tired of vomiting cats. What I meant as an adjective reads as a verb. I was (jokingly) advised to stop eating cats.

Little Brother and I have been fighting over his weight. For nine years, he's been my Chunky Monkey, and the struggle was to keep his weight down to something between 19 lbs and 15 for what is a 13 lb body frame. This year he seems to have developed chronic pancreatitis, and the struggle is to keep food down and his weight from dropping like a dead sparrow. His last weigh-in was 12.3 lbs, and I'm doing everything I can to keep it there, including giving him Pepcid daily, moistening his food, and feeding him six to seven times a day in smaller portions so he doesn't throw up. When he feels good, he beats up Caleb. When he feels bad, he's better behaved. Not the best punishment-reward cycle for keeping him healthy.

Miss Kitty has joined the vomiting crowd, mostly because she wants to eat her entire daily intake at breakfast, and her tummy isn't big enough.

Skuttle has projectile vomited weekly all her life, but because she's very overweight, it's hard to get a vet to pay attention. She should be a 10 lb cat, but she's probably 13 lbs with a pouter-pigeon figure. Even when I do get some weight off, only her waist gets smaller. Adding a splash of water to her food right before I serve it has helped slow down her eating and slow down the vomiting, but it hasn't stopped entirely. I suspect there's something wrong with her intestines, like a kink that would require elective surgery to find and unknot. That isn't going to happen.

Add Skamper and Caleb, who also eat too fast and too much, and some days I am cleaning up everything I've just fed them fifteen minutes before. Those aren't good days for any of us. Especially at $70 a month for prescription food.

But this is my hell. I chose it. I have no business being upset about it. I have eight years left with Simon at best. Less, if I can't get him stabilized. That thought brings no comfort, either.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Why I'm Too Old to Go to Theaters to Watch Movies

I said I'm too old to go to the theater to three different people, and all three asked "What does that mean?"

Theaters are too loud. I don't live my life with earbuds implanted in my aural canal at volumes intended to melt my brain. I don't need Dolby surround sound for anything that happens on screen. I resent surround sound in real life. It keeps me awake. Even if I take ibuprofen before going in, I always leave with a splitting headache that lasts the next 24 hours.

Theaters are too cold. The kind of cold that requires a coat, and a face mask if I thought I could get away with it and not be shot for a terrorist. I don't like being cold, and I don't like shivering in the cold for two and a half hours in summer. I have this problem at work, too, but I get paid to be there.

Theaters are too crowded. I don't like to be jostled. I don't like stepping over or around people. I don't like people bumping into me as they step over and around me. I am not a rat on a sinking ship. I will not tolerate feeling like one. Addendum: sitting absolutely still to avoid touching my neighbors exacerbates the back pain I will automatically generate by sitting for more than an hour. Ibuprofen doesn't prevent this, either.

Theaters are too sickly. When was the last time you went to a movie someone didn't cough through? Usually the someone right behind you. Not that I can hear them. I just feel the spray.

Movies are too high-flying, twisty-turny, upside-downy camera work. Seriously. Think of a recent movie that didn't have at least one scene where someone dangles from "fill in the blank" while the camera flies all around them, presumably on the back of a deranged fairy. Add the "shaking" of a hand-held camera (a pox on The Blair Witch Project for that little indie affectation) to up the excitement level, and my fellow patrons will get more half-digested popcorn excitement sprayed on them than they bargained for. I've spent good portions of movies with my eyes closed to avoid motion sickness.

Movies are too dependent on the special effects or soundtrack to be enjoyable with my eyes closed. Guardians of the Galaxy, the last movie I saw, is a perfect example of a so-so movie made ridiculously popular because some people can't get over the 70's. I was over it the minute I was born in it.

Finally, it is too expensive. I am not willing to pay $11.50 for a matinee show where I will be yelled at, frozen solid, alternately pummeled and stretched on a rack, exposed to Typhoid, nauseated and bored for three solid hours.

When I want all that, I can ride the bus to work.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Colossal Failure

The Guest Room didn't work. Twice I awoke to Caleb pawing at the door with enough force to rattle it in the jam. It was just as irritating as him sleeping on me, and he seemed to take his new quarters as undeserved banishment.

To be fair, I don't know if the second awakening at 2 AM was because of Caleb, the furnace kicking on, or the pain.

The furnace now regularly comes on at night because the furnace guy said keeping it much lower at night than during the day was hard on the machine. Well, not lowering it at night is hard on me because I wake up from both the sound and the sudden flush of heat. Maybe I can close the vent before bed.

The pain wasn't just my back but everything connected to my spine. My feet, my hips, my back, my shoulder blades. Even my crowns. Which doesn't make me happy because the next step for those are more expensive root canals. I'll be putting that off for the mortgage's sake as long as possible. I finally got up around quarter to 3 to slather pain lotion on myself. I think I slept a bit after that before the alarm - and Caleb - woke me up.

Shouldn't the stretching be helping with the pain? Isn't that the point of exercise, to make me healthier? Are the exercises causing the pain, or would the pain be even worse without them?

This is the fourth time this year my pain levels have been there. The first three came before weather fronts that did not lead to severe weather for my area, btw. I haven't been watching TV so I don't know if there's a system moving through or not.

Miranda says being fit doesn't stop back pain because she's flexible and strong, and she still suffers. I guess this is just the way it's going to be for the Turtle.

I'm annoyed about the guest room. I wanted to move the other cats upstairs in the winter, but if Caleb without claws can keep me awake, what would six cats with claws do? Sorry, Jackson Galaxy, I don't have 12 days to go without sleep while they get trained.

Push button. *yawn* Receive bacon.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Journal of My Life

Caleb has a better than 50% chance of sleeping in the guest room tonight. At least 3 times I awoke from a sound sleep to a 19 lb cat squeezing me off my twin bed. Even when I shooed him to the foot, he was creeping back up to my shoulder before I fell asleep again. With my new back issues, I have to be able to roll over when the pain starts, and I can't do that when he's occupying my space.

Our agreement is he can stay upstairs at night as long as he acts like the dog he's named for and let's me sleep. If he can't uphold his end, I see no reason to uphold mine.

I started rereading my blog from the beginning, adding spaces between paragraphs for easier reading, and, yes, correcting spelling, even though six years ago I said I wouldn't correct stuff. I'm sure I didn't mean spelling.

I didn't know what I would do with the space six years ago. I have come to appreciate it for the journal it is. I don't share a lot here, because some things are too private or too unprofessional to puke onto the internet, but, for the most part, this is me working stuff out by writing it down. I don't really care anymore if anyone else reads it. I'm not giving advice to anyone but me. I'm not trying to spark discussion, because I've found most written conversations on the internet to be extremely uncomfortable and prone to misunderstanding.

I'm just trying to cage a few thoughts before they're gone forever.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hump Day

This year is rapidly spinning to a close, and I'm glad. I've tried very hard to get along with 2015, and all it's done is give me colossal wedgies. Fine. You'll be dead soon, and I will dance on your grave.

I'm training two people at work on two different jobs. Neither of these jobs is my job. I just know how to do them, and I know how to teach people. I am fully capable of training with grace and accuracy, and occasionally humor. However, the last two nights I've awakened from dreams where I'm doing some endlessly repetitive work task. Meaning, my conscious mind isn't feeling it yet, but my subconscious is telling me to take it easy or I will blow an artery.

Happily, I've felt no desire to return to Farmville. I've not immersed myself in solitaire, bubble spinner, TV or chocolate. Instead, I've classically stretched, I've resumed writing, and I've added an official prayer time to my day, in addition to my regular conversations with God when I'm alone but doing physical tasks that don't require deep thought (like driving, dressing, and walking). I'm petting and snuggling cats rather than yelling at them.

So far, my jaw, neck and back pain have not increased, and I'm not using any pharmaceutical pain management.

Consciously, I'm doing what I can to manage stress. God will have to manage the subconscious.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Turtle Tale

After everyone ate dinner, I opened Scrivener and found a place to start writing. I added maybe five sentences. They're garbage, they took an hour of procrastinating to write, but they're something. The story moved forward. Then I went to bed.

Once upon a time, I wrote. All the time. I kept a paper notebook and a laptop handy and I used both constantly. I never finished anything, but I started lots of things. I wrote my million words. That was twenty years ago.

I got a job, I bought a house, I adopted a couple cats. I stopped writing because I was busy and exhausted and I never finished anything. What was the point?

One summer I had some time, and I was curious if I had matured enough to finish something. I wrote Star of Justice. A monster book that poured out of me in a few months (and then got polished for years). I finished it. I felt like a genius, and a real writer, and I was satisfied.

I wrote Daughter of Anasca. It was much harder, but I did it. I felt like a genius, and a real writer, and I loved my second book as much as my first, although in different ways.

I tried to write the next book, but I couldn't gain traction. I couldn't pick a plot. My new job took far more energy than my earlier job. My couple of cats turned into a demanding clowder, and they didn't like it when I wrote. I remembered how obsessive I was writing my books, and I didn't want to fall into that pit again, even though I have no reason not to because everyone else I know is moving on with their lives without the Turtle.

I stopped writing. For years. I let my brain atrophy with computer games and weekend TV commercials.

Last night, I started writing. It was hard. It felt horrible. I didn't like it. I did it anyway. I'm going to keep doing it until I have a crappy first draft that I'll shove in a drawer for a year while I write the next crappy first draft.

Somewhere in there, I hope I start enjoying it again. Or maybe the world will end and save us all. Might as well write while I'm waiting.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cutting the Cable

I have proved to myself that too many hours of computer games is bad for the Turtle. Went overboard yesterday morning, and by 5 o'clock, I was irritable, depressed and apathetic.

I play games when the TV is on, or I turn the TV on when I want to play games. Probably chicken and egg. Except for The Walking Dead and The Librarians, during which I never do anything except watch, I'm not actually watching TV. I'm listening, and I have a radio for that. I also don't watch new shows because CBS canceled three shows in a row after three episodes each years ago. I learned not to trust networks or their audiences. 

I don't DVR. If I don't have time to watch it when it airs, why would I have time later? With Cox's switch to all digital, I'm paying full price to watch one TV when I'm home. It makes no sense. 

I'm steeling myself to give up cable TV. I got it when the government forced all TV off antenna channels because The Swamp gets no reception for the new kind of antenna, and my weather issues require access to TV during bad weather. On the other hand, the more paranoid station in this area has moved most of its weather coverage online, so I may be able to do it. 
I've heard Cox had a basic, basic package of just local channels in 2012. I don't know if they still offer it because their website blocks any service less than I have now. Whatever. I know where their store is, and I'm not afraid to use it. 

Friday is the day I will either downgrade to local channels or remove TV altogether from the Turtle household. I can use that money to pay off the mortgage faster, and avoid the temptation to fry my brain cells on the weekends. That's a win-win. 

Applaud the jellyfish. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Dangerous Hope

Now that the initial terror of an emotionally measurable end of the mortgage has ebbed ('cause we all know it will be back), I'm getting a little excited about the possibilities.

Excitement makes me nervous, and not in the synonymous way. Keeping my expectations low is what keeps the Turtle happy with life. I'm a born cynic, after all, and I can make the return of Christ a gloomfest if you give me half a chance. The moment I make actual plans, life will smack me with a 4x4 (such as Lavender Squeak the Van), and I will not pass "go" and collect my $200.

However, since life will progress until I die, I may as well have a sketch for the future. I'm already considering how to shave down that six years without eating beans and rice, or cats.

There are only 3 things to do with money: save, spend and give. A balanced life does all three.

Save: Without the mortgage, I could get my retirement up to 15%. I could get my emergency fund to what I consider fully funded. Dave Ramsey says everyone has a "security gland" that begins secreting anxiety when certain things happen, like the emergency fund being too low. I haven't yet experienced what I consider the "right amount" of emergency fund. I suspect six months of expenses in cash would do the trick, but I don't want to be greedy.

Spend: I could vinyl-side the house. I could build that screened-in porch I crave, and maybe add a foot or two to the kitchen while I'm at it. I could take friends to lunch and pay for both of us, or bribe the nieces to visit me. I could be a Realm Makers sponsor and force them to come to Topeka for a conference.

Give: I could give equally to my current charities, and maybe add one or two to my monthly giving instead of just what I can manage here and there. I could give spontaneously to those opportunities I hear about on AFR, or be that anonymous matching donor for pledges. Who doesn't want to be that anonymous donor?

Well, we'll see how life goes. No point getting too excited. Something horrible is bound to happen and screw it all up.

Happy Friday! Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


I stopped Farmville a couple weeks ago. I have no concept of time, so I'm a little fuzzy on the when. I also drastically reduced my bubble spinner and solitaire time, aiming for no more than an hour during the week and an hour or two on the weekends. No point giving up one thing to replace it with something equally bad.

I did this because I was worried about my brain on constant computer games. I noticed the day after a solid day of playing games was an irritable, weepy, pain-filled day. Took two years to notice, but I blame the self-induced decline of my mental facilities for my lack of perception.

The increasingly depressing and volatile Facebook atmosphere finalized my decision. Have you noticed how angry Facebook is lately? Everybody's upset about something. Where are all the funny cat videos? And I mean funny videos, not people scaring cats with cucumbers.

I backed away. Time to remember my computer is for writing, not "push button, receive bacon" stimulus-response. I want my brain back

TT: Y'all do understand the "push button, receive bacon" thing, right? It was one of those amusing sign manipulations about the hand dryers in restrooms? I'll have to find the thread and post it.

I resumed blogging, unless the morning just gets away from me as mornings sometimes do. I've been reading books instead of turning on the TV. I'm currently reading Randy Alcorn's Heaven, which would explain my numerous references to the Cursed world. It's rather soothing and hopeful overall. Helping me rebalance my bleak perspective.

Anyway, last night... I picked up my WIP (laughable designation since I haven't progressed in a year) and typed the outline into Scrivener. I didn't get any farther because the Spawn of Satan I call furbabies all decided to come see what Mom was doing and stop it immediately. However, I did something. More to the point, I wanted to do something. My brain is waking up.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Wonder of Vitamin D

I'm a sunshine girl. That's why God put me in Kansas. I don't care if the sun is "up there somewhere" behind a mile of clouds. If I don't see it, it may as well not exist.

Three years ago I learned about vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin -, but the lesson didn't stick because 2 years ago I forgot about it and turned into one of the non-Reavers by January. You know, the ones who stopped. I scared a few co-workers and one boss before Mom reminded me about vitamin D again.

That's what life with no sun does to the Turtle. It qualifies as "depression" if you use the dictionary meaning of being squashed or flattened, in this case by never-ending cloud cover. It doesn't qualify for the mental health definition because, while I quickly pass through irritable and weepy, I always land at an emotional dead zone of zero energy. I'm not actively suicidal, but I'm also not actively alive. Life without sun is pointless.

TT: There is a DSM-IV diagnosis for such a state, but the DSM books are coding manuals for how to bill insurance while treating a client, so I don't take them seriously most of the time. I don't take much seriously anymore.

Vitamin D doesn't cause euphoria. It doesn't replace the sun, or make me want to see it less. It does allow me to continue living. I get up and move around when I take it. That's a miracle.

The recommended dose is 5000 IUs a day. It is possible to overdose and cause liver damage, but you really have to try. I started in October, and I haven't lost the will to live yet, even through that seven day ice/rain storm at Thanksgiving.

Kansas winters have been gloomy and snowy in the past years. I believe this is a cyclical occurrence, not global climate change, because I remember winters of my childhood being gloomy and snowy, but not winters of my twenties and thirties. What goes around comes around. Of course, I'm also willing to believe it is the birth pains of a world nearing the end, and that works, too. I'm tired of living in a Cursed world, as tired as Rand when drawing on a tainted Source (Wheel of Time reference there).

Good thing I have that vitamin D.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Number of Man

Every year or so, I evaluate my financial goals. I've learned not to do it more often because either 1) I get depressed, or 2) I seem to trigger a universal "you're not allowed to get ahead" reaction that causes my plumbing to go south within a month. When it happens enough, I can be taught.

If my math is correct, and we all know my hate-hate relationship with math, there is a reasonable chance I could pay off my mortgage in the next six years. As in, own my own home free and clear.

This terrifies me. Seriously. Weight in the pit of the stomach, trouble breathing, hard to concentrate on anything else fear.

I should be thrilled. From the day I signed those papers, I've paid ahead on principal deliberately to shorten the life of the mortgage. I got rid of PMI early by refinancing so I could pay that amount on principal instead. I know that if you only make the "scheduled" payments, you end up spending way more for your house in interest than most people ever think about. Like up to a third or half of the loan over 30 years.

TT: I wasn't listening to Dave Ramsey when I bought this house, but I followed the advice of his mentor, Larry Burkett of Crown Ministries, to buy a 30-year, fixed rate mortgage with a payment I could easily afford (not the loan the mortgage company is willing to give but far lower) because houses create their own expenses. Had I known Dave at the time, I would have lived in a low-rent apartment without animals and saved every penny until I could either buy a house with cash or pay half in cash, finance the rest for 15 years and pay it off in 7. Sounds impossible, but people do it every day. Just not the people on those home shows we all love to watch.

Six years is a third the life of a cat. It's a first grader. It's the shelf life of a Twinkie. It's just not that long. But a lot can happen in six years. I could lose my job. I could suffer a serious disability. The house could get hit by a meteorite.

Worse, I could actually pay it off, and have what I've wanted since I started listening to Dave Ramsey - that mortgage payment available for other things, like retirement, charitable contributions and new sneakers every year.

Going back to the first paragraph, I can be taught, and what life has taught me so far is anytime I come into money, I run headlong into an expense that takes that money away. I should be grateful that God provides a way to meet my needs without debt, but I worry. I worry about what I will need that mortgage payment for in six years.

Randy Alcorn says we don't get to know security in this life because it would prevent us from relying on God. If that's true, I should expect my life to be one continuous struggle after another.

Maybe the jaw isn't nausea after all.

Push button. Receive bacon.

PS. Randy Alcorn was quoting C.S. Lewis from A Problem of Pain. Gonna have to reread that.

Friday, December 4, 2015

I'm Not Rigid; I'm Nauseated

Yesterday morning was so chaotic, I didn't get a workout, and I felt it all day.

This morning, I decided to join Miranda's "zero-impact cardio" workout to make up for it. I believe this is the same workout I tried two months ago and nearly puked five minutes in. I decided at that time it wasn't my lack of fitness that caused the nausea, but motion sickness. Cardio without jumping means a lot of rotation of the body in the same place, and that is bad news for the Turtle.

So, this morning, while trying to keep my head absolutely still while spinning the rest of me, it hit me. I'm not rigid; I'm motion sick.

I live my physical life by two rules: 1) Eyes forward. 2) Don't change the angle of my head.

If you suffer from actual motion sickness - and aren't just using that excuse to sit in the front seat - you know that the fastest way to empty your stomach is to turn around and look behind you while moving. Or glance to the side. Or, change the angle of your head while moving so your ear fluid is no longer level with the horizon. The severity of your condition chooses under what circumstances these rules come into effect. For me, it's any time I move. I've actually caused an attack by tipping my head back too far while lying down.

I puked my way through life for 13 years while my friends' parents threw me in the backs of their 70's station wagons on the way to somewhere. When the inevitable happened, sooner rather than later, and spoiled everyone's trip, I wasn't invited back. Which is fine, because I don't want to hang with people who don't believe me when I tell them something so crucial to my own well-being, such as "If I don't sit in the front seat, I'll throw up."

It's no wonder I've developed neck muscles that lock my head into an "eyes forward, head level" position. It's self-defense. The wonder is that it's taken me this long to realize it.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stress Release

Yes, I promised an AT&T rant, but I'm not in the mood.

This morning, Miranda and I did a "stress release" workout that left me impatient and annoyed. I didn't want to breath deeply for two minutes, or align my spine for five minutes, or any of the stuff she wanted me to do. I wanted my stress released now without all the silliness. I did not feel calmer at the end. I felt like I'd wasted my time.

One of the reasons I'm staying away from computer games is this growing impatience issue of mine. I have wondered too many times in the last couple of years if the ease of "click" to reshuffle, or "click" to harvest, plow and plant is creating some kind of instant gratification expectation that real life can't meet. When expectations aren't met, frustration results. And yelling. And neck pain.

My turtleness includes patience - unless it's food-related, then get out of my way because I will hurt you to reach the buffet table. This loss of patience has me flummoxed and, naturally, impatient with myself.

This year I have had trouble breathing. More than once I haven't been able to "fill my lungs" enough, for days at a time, unless I open my mouth. While it might be a deviated septum, it's not asthma, or heart issues. I'm perfectly healthy, and have no trouble working in The Swamp, even though the mold out there should have killed me a long time ago. I believe this shortness of breath is a pre-pre panic attack kind of thing, an early warning system that I have to get my stuff together before I lose it in a real way.

Please forgive me as I dabble a bit in nonsensical eastern philosophy stuff for a moment.

I did a (very) little research into chakras when I started with essential oils, mostly because while I was familiar with the concept, I wanted a bit more general knowledge. I took a test that told me my yellow chakra was blocked. That's the energy one that relates to breathing and living life. A block here can result in rigidity and failure to enjoy life. Sounds familiar.

I learned this after I was noticing my breathing issues, so it isn't a self-fulfilling prophecy kind of thing. While I don't intend to find a guru and spend my life under a baobab tree examining my navel, when I start hearing the same thing from multiple sources, I try to listen. Two physical therapists have told me I'm too rigid. This test told me I'm too rigid. My own body is telling me I'm too rigid to allow breath into my lungs. It's a problem.

Adding daily exercise is step one. Reducing computer game time is step two. Practicing breathing may have to be step three. 'Cause life only gets worse, and I'm not one to take Valium.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rain, Freezing Rain, and Ice

That's been the weather since Thursday night. No sun, temps at the freezing mark, and every form of miserable precipitation no one would want on a four-day weekend of travel.

I have nothing to complain about. I was home from Thanksgiving dinner (with leftovers for the weekend) before the rain started, and haven't had to leave the house until this morning. I've watched the ice build up, and I've chipped it away under a gloomy sky. I'm fully stocked on vitamin D - the Sunshine Vitamin - and I'm taking it like my sanity depends on it. Which it does.

Everyone else I know and love weren't so lucky. Big Brother works holidays. Elder Brother and WGR were out and about for church. Mom and Second Dad needed a doctor visit and antibiotics during the worst of it.

I hate inclement weather. Tornadoes are my particular demon, but icy roads are a close second. I sing the same song everyone does. "I know how to drive; it's the other idiots who are the problem." Yeah, well, we're all idiots when it comes to ice on the roads. I'm grateful my commute is only 14 blocks.

I'm less grateful Solar Roadways don't exist yet.

I heard a rumor the rain ends today, and the sun comes out tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it. At least it's above freezing.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, November 26, 2015


I'm in one of those "every silver lining has a cloud" moods, but a true princess is a princess of herself regardless of her mood, and gratitude shouldn't be mood-dependent anyway.

I'm thankful that these moods pass.

I'm thankful I have a job I generally like, working with people I generally like, doing what I'm generally good at. I'm thankful I can come home at lunch to let Sweetie out and feed the cats, and that I've never had to learn that utility bills come in different colors. I'm thankful my van runs, and that Second Dad fixed the lift gate.

I'm thankful for nature. Trees, birds, insects, worms, clouds - the whole package. I'm thankful for The Swamp, even if it hates me. I'm thankful I finally figured out I like working in a garden.

I'm thankful for my family. Brothers I respect and love, sisters-in-law I like, nieces and a nephew who don't suck. Cousins who turned out really well, and all the rest. A Second Dad who does a great job with a Fourth Daughter. I'm glad we know each other. I'm thankful for Mom, but that should be obvious.

I'm thankful for God. Even when I'm so mad at Him I could spit, I can't imagine what my life would be like without Him, and I don't want to.

I'm thankful for my friends. We may not spend as much time together as we used to, or would like to, but you are all in my thoughts and prayers more often than you might think.

I'm thankful for Kerby Anderson, and Joe Christiano, and Gary Young, and Miranda Esmonde-White. They've all brought good into my life.

I'm thankful I have no human children.

I'm thankful for the books I have written. They're good, and I'm proud of them.

I'm thankful I gave up Farmville on my own.

I'm thankful I've never had to face a problem alone.

This isn't helping the mood as much as I would like, but I'm glad I did it. By tomorrow, this mood will have passed, but my thankfulness goes on.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers. May all your dinners be exactly what you wanted, not what you expected.

Almost forgot. I'm thankful for The Librarians, which has become the TV equivalent of a bowl of fruit-shaped Trix for me. It just makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Holy Spirit

We don't talk about Him much. He sort of gets slapped on at the end of a blessing, or honorable mention at the deity awards. Most Christian fantasy authors leave Him out altogether (kudos to Lioness for remembering Him in her Trinity). 

Who is this guy? Is He the third wheel of the Godhead? There's God the Father, Jesus the Son, and Holy Spirit the Uncle No One Talks About.

As far as I can tell, He's actually kind of important. From www.biblegateway.com:

John 16:6-14New American Standard Bible (NASB)But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the [a]Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 
I understand that to mean the Holy Spirit is who allows a Christian to know truth as God sees it.

When I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior, something supernatural happened. The Holy Spirit literally possessed me.

This is where non-believers and even a lot of Christians will roll their eyes, shuffle their feet, and either decry me as a kook and a holy-roller or try to change the topic. Sorry, guys, some things have to be said.

I'm not saying I had convulsions or spoke in Tongues or let poisonous snakes bite me. I am saying something more happened than me just making a decision and choosing to act on it the rest of my life, although that happened, too.

When I accepted Christ, I accepted the whole package. That includes God as my Father, Jesus as my Master, Savior, Redeemer, brother (this list goes on a while, so I'll stop there), and the Holy Spirit as my personal God-interpreter. The Holy Spirit sits inside me and whispers stuff, 'cause He's not a shouter. When a nasty thought comes into my mind, the Spirit nudges me. When I behave badly, the Spirit points it out (and I've found "badly" changes meaning the longer I'm in this marriage).

This interpretation works the other way, too.
Romans 8:26-27New American Standard Bible (NASB)26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the [a]saints according to the will of God. 
The Spirit talks to God for us, filtering our childish ramblings into something God can understand.

I have more to say, but there's stuffing to be made this morning.

Keep the faith.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Red Pumpkin Chili

Most of the ingredients are orange, but the beets turn everything red, so I went with easy nomenclature. All amounts are approximate, 'cause I never measure anything.

2-3 cups beets, chopped
2-3 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup chicken broth (I used homemade bone broth but this could be left out)
1 can pure pumpkin
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
enough water to cover the vegetables
salt to taste - I start with 1/4 teaspoon and add as it cooks because I over-salted once. Never again.
2 cloves of garlic, minced - jar or fresh. Could go more on this if you like garlic.
2 tablespoons chili seasoning
1 tablespoon wing sauce (that's what the label says. I'm thinking "buffalo wing sauce"?)
1 drop oregano oil
1 drop thyme oil
Shredded or diced chicken

The beets and carrots take a while to cook, so next time I'll use a crockpot for 4 hours instead of my NuWave at 180 for 3 hours. It will be thick and a little blurpy when it's done, and the carrots and beets should be tender with no crunch.

The beets and carrots are also very sweet, so the chili powder and wing sauce are for balance. Thinking it still needs a bit more on the savory side, so maybe up the ratio on those ingredients. Or find something else to add and let me know.

The diced chicken is a nice touch if you have it, which I did since I just made bone broth, but it would eat fine as a vegetarian dish. Use as a main dish, or as a side dish to something of a more savory nature. Yes, you could add cheese. Something sour, like Parmesan.

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how much you like it.

The bone broth doesn't add anything tastewise to the chili, but 'tis the season I step up my bone broth intake (for immune boosting), so I tend to put it in everything short of my Lucky Charms.


Breaking Legs and Burning Cars

Focus on the Family aired a chapel service given by Jay Carty last Friday, and again this morning. It was the same program, so I don't know if it was a mistake or a God-reminder, 'cause I wanted to blog about it at the time.

Carty's talk was about how nice people will go to Hell, and how we who call ourselves Christians are more concerned with people's lives than their souls. I can't find a link for it, but if you want to listen, I'm sure it's on the Focus website somewhere.

He illustrated his "life vs. soul" thesis with the idea that we will inflict multiple cuts and a broken leg to get a trapped person out of a burning car because those injuries are nothing compared to being burned alive, but we won't go out of our way to save a soul on its way to Hell.

I hear you, Jay, but I have to point out that it's far easier to pull a body out of a car than to stop a sinner intent on continuing in sin. In fact, it's not possible for me to stop another human from going to Hell, no matter how many legs I break.

I should pause and say that "sin" has been defined in a lot of ways. When I use it, I mean any action or thought that falls short of the absolute holiness of God and results in me being separated from Him for eternity. That pretty much covers being alive and conscious. I'm not holy, and I can't attain holiness on my own, and that's why the Jesus part of God came as a human, managed not to sin (still don't know how He pulled that off), and died in my place. The whole New Testament is about how and why that worked, so I won't go into it right now.

Even though Jesus did all this, I have to accept it for it to work. I have to accept that 1) I'm not acceptable to God on my own, 2) Jesus wants to be in relationship with me, 3) Jesus' sacrifice was enough to heal our relationship, and 4) I will spend the rest of my life becoming better friends with Him and God.

I can't make those choices for another person, which is why we have the phrase "God has no grandchildren." He's either your dad or your judge.

I have the responsibility to tell people about Jesus, to live the best life I can in His name, and to pray for people's hearts to change, but ultimately, it's up to them. The hardest part of being a Christian for me is knowing that people are trapped in Hell-bound cars and won't let me help them get out, because they can't see the danger.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Angry Moods

Do you ever wake up angry? I can't be the only person that suffers from this.

Sometimes, I wake up yelling. The smallest things set me off. The "FEED ME!" yowls I hear every morning are intolerable on these mornings. The scrabble "to eat everyone else's food and ignore my own" is too much, even though it happens every day. The "I want to sit in your lap and I will fight with anyone who is already there" cannot be born.

And I run around screaming like a banshee, and cursing them and everything else as Spawn of Satan determined to destroy me. Of course, they ignore me, because they're spawn of Satan and determined to destroy me.

On these days, my tea turns out wrong, my clothes don't fit, and more often than not, some part of me hurts like a big dog in a wheelbarrow. But I have days where all of that is true and I manage with grace and patience and silence.

Is this static buildup of tiny evils that explodes into big evil? Is it too much TV, or computer time rotting my brain and destroying my self-control? Maybe. Maybe this is why I need to stop playing computer games, even solitaire. Or, maybe, like Bad Hair Days, this is the inevitable cost of living in a fallen world. Some days are just bad days.

I pray. I eat chocolate. I close my mouth so hard it hurts, but for the most part, the mood has to dissipate on its own, like hiccups, usually hours later. The only thing I can control is the screaming, so I try to control that, with varying degrees of success. I suppose I should be grateful I'm only screaming at cats and the dog (who really never deserves to be yelled at, she's such a good girl) instead of humans who will hold it against me, but I actually feel more guilty. It's not like they can help who they are, and I'm the pinhead who chose to live this way. It's not their fault I can't take it some days.

I don't have a trick to help, or advice to give. I'm not even looking for advice. It's just one of those mornings, so I decided to write about it.

Hope your day starts well and keeps going.

Push button; receive bacon.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Money Musings III

This year has seen a noticeable uptick in my pain levels. I think it was two Augusts ago that my neck pain reached proportions that made me willing to try physical therapy. Expensive physical therapy. That did nothing to alleviate the pain. I was told I am too rigid and should learn to relax (my paraphrase of more tactful, technical jargon).

Thanks. I'll get right on that after I pay you out of pocket.

I learned at my last splint check I have worn that mouthpiece for six years - the first four relatively pain free, the last two, not so much. I was warned I might get another one to two years more years of wear until I need to shell out $650 for another one, coincidentally about the same amount I paid for the non-helpful therapy.

Well, that crown I am one week away from getting and paying for? Is on an upper tooth, and my mouthpiece conforms to my upper teeth. Meaning, my mouthpiece doesn't fit anymore, and I haven't worn it in 13 days. My "one to two more years of wear" just vanished. I'm going to call and ask if there's a chance this mouthpiece can be salvaged, but I'm guessing the answer will be "no." I could be wrong.

I am surprised I haven't yet awakened in the night from the pain of biting too hard on my temporary crown. Maybe my back pain is preventing me from sleeping that deeply. However, as the days creep by, my left jaw and neck pain are increasing. Is this because I'm wearing a temporary crown, because I'm not wearing my mouthpiece, or because I'm stressed out with all the money my body is costing me? I don't know. The jaw pain has always been on the left. Maybe it's from carrying my purse.

I do know my mouthpiece seemed to decrease in efficacy the longer I wore it, and the cost to tweak it increases every two years. I know I have more fillings in my upper teeth that may need crowns in the next six years, or even more expensive root canals. and it will only take one to make my equally expensive mouthpiece utterly useless.

So, do I buy a new mouthpiece for $650, and hope for the best, even though I'm not sure it will work anymore? Or do I go without and let my teeth just grind against each other until none of them are left?

Because "relaxing" isn't going to happen. Turtles are rigid, from base of neck to base of tail, and that ain't never going to change. Coincidentally, that's exactly where the pain originates. Lot of coincidences in this story.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Money Musings II, or Why I Should Get Rid of Cable TV

To paraphrase those famous words from Airplane!, looks like I picked the wrong week to quit Farmville.

Not really, but last night was the first night this week I didn't have something to do as soon as I came home. This will be the case for most of Winter. I have no Swamp to play in physically, and my brain is tired after eight hours at work. The TV goes on, and the desire to start mindlessly clicking emerges. I played solitaire for an hour before I made myself stop, turn off the TV, and read.

I have watched too much TV my entire adult life. I picked up the habit of having it on in the background from mom, who has tinnitus and uses the noise to distract herself. I don't have tinnitus, and I'm opposed to noise in general, so it makes no real sense for me to do it. I'm increasingly annoyed by the change in volume from show to commercial.

I finally bought cable when the government forced everyone into digital TV. I can't get digital reception on an antenna in a storm, and as a lilapsophobic (yes, I finally looked up the official term for fear of tornadoes), I have to have access to weather information. This incredibly stressful weather year has seen most weather information move online, so I am seriously considering doing away with cable TV altogether. That would save me a bit of money every month that I could use to replenish my emergency fund, remove one of the Farmville triggers, and remove one of the impediments to writing. Should cable prices go up again this year, and I can't imagine they won't, I will say goodbye to TV.

I hope the more I say that to myself, the more likely I am to follow through.

Since I have found a morning routine that, for the most part, fills my time with non-Farmville activities, I am sure I can find some evening routines for Winter. At the very least, I can add a second Classical Stretch program.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Money Musings

Two weeks ago, my dentist said that magic word "crown." This will be crown #2. I have slightly better dental insurance than I did for crown #1, but the bottom line is a large sum of money will be leaving me in a bit more than a week, and it was money I didn't plan to spend.

That's what emergency funds are for, Dave Ramsey would say, and I agree with him. That's why I have one. I even use it for actual emergencies - things I couldn't have known about and planned for - like a filling giving out and requiring a crown to replace it.

OK, I suppose I could have anticipated that someday I would need another crown, but, come on. Do I really need one more thing to over-control in my OCD life?

Anyway, money keeps coming out of my emergency fund, and it is very hard to put back. I have made a concerted effort this year to put money in, and I've done fairly well, but Murphy keeps showing up - in alien van invasions and crowns and sewer stack replacements. It's tiresome.

Does anyone else have trouble reconciling the Proverbial ant vs. grasshopper with Jesus' "do not worry about what you will eat or what you will wear?" I mean, Old Testament teaching is "plan for the future." New Testament teaching is "God will take care of you." No offense, Jesus, but you were a bum. You had no job, no house, no dependents, and you lived off the generosity of various women, like Joanna and Martha and Mary. Yes, all Your needs were met, but I don't want to be a bum.

I guess that would make me one of the various women.

Just a few thoughts as I balance my checkbook.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Of course, once I decide to avoid Facebook for a while, I start thinking up catchy one-liners to post. Homeostasis is a powerful force. One to five hours a day mindlessly clicking on things is a lot of training to undo. That's just weekdays. Yes, I have a problem. I'm working on it. And, no, I haven't posted anything. I don't think...

I'll apply the 80/20 rule: do beneficial things 80% of the time, and save the 20% for messing up. As far as I can tell, I'm not jonesing for Farmville. It's more "what can I do with all this free time that doesn't involve thinking?"

And that's the point. I've been training myself not to think in my "off" hours. It is far easier after eight hours of applying energy to other people's agendas to play a game. But I am convinced life isn't supposed to be easy. Not under the Curse.

Walking with Jesus is hard. It demands that I go against every natural instinct in my selfish self and follow the Holy Spirit's guidance into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control. -I'm missing one... Faithfulness. That's embarrassing.- Those fruits don't come naturally to the Turtle, although I'm pretty good at kindness, and I used to rock patience to sleep at night. For a disciple, ALL the fruits are required, and all of them should be practiced daily.

Baby chicks have to break out of their shells, or they're not strong enough to survive once they're out. Butterflies have to struggle out of cocoons to pump juice into their wings or the wings never work. Bones and muscles have to be used and pushed to remain strong, as Miranda Esmonde-White, 64!, reminded me this morning. Life is struggle.

There were times when my catchy one-liners could have been blog posts, but it was too hard to come up with a title, and extra words. Resuming blogging is one way I'm pushing back against Facebook/ Farmville-playing homeostasis. While I do love my one-liners, that's not the kind of books I used to write. And if I'm ever going to write another one, I have to wake up my brain.

Push button. Receive bacon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Facebook Hiatus

I'm on Facebook for two reasons: Farmville, and funny posts. I prefer playing Farmville with Friends, and many of my Friends are funny, so I consider this social.

However, in the past few months, I've noticed some changes in Facebook.

One, my Friends don't really play Farmville anymore, and I can't find the feeds of the ones that do. That means I can't play with my Friends. It must be a problem for other people, because Farmville started this "make Neighbors who aren't Friends" thing earlier this year, but that has all kinds of bugs with it and basically doesn't work.

Two, I'm not finding funny posts anymore. I'm finding rants, and articles about social issues, and inappropriate video shares, and outrage over everything from animal abuse to red cups, but nothing funny. I don't watch communist TV (some people call it Mainstream News) because I don't agree with the communist worldview, and I don't want it spouted in my living room until Big Brother truly does own everything. I also don't want it plastered on my Wall. But that's what I'm getting, no matter how many Cats Sleeping in Awkward Positions pics I "like." I used to scroll past them, but I can't seem to get "past" anymore. They just keep going, like a red Energizer bunny, without a single Farmville post to break the monotony.

Every day. No Farmville. No funny. Just communism. Or socialism, which is communist-lite. Or social justice, which is a lie of Satan - that's it's possible to undo the Curse through government intervention. Only Jesus can do that, and He doesn't do it with Other People's Money. He does it through you, His slave, doing His will, one person at a time.

I'm entering my Dark Time, aka Winter. I don't need to be angered or grieved every time I get on my computer. I don't need it, and it's what I'm getting.

You might see me occasionally, testing the waters, but I don't plan to be on that much. I'm going to spend a little time reprogramming my brain manually. My love to you all.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Classical Stretch Continues

If my math is right - and let's face it, that's a 50/20 chance - this is my seventh week of working out with Miranda every workday and most weekends. I've even had a couple days when I wasn't going to get up but I did anyway because I didn't want to risk breaking the habit.

With the change in weather, morning workouts are getting a bit chilly. Also, I prefer "lengthening" workouts to "strengthening" first thing, so I bought season 10 on DVD. Now I control the vertical and the horizontal, and am not confined to whatever PBS is airing.

After 7 weeks, I am noticing a change. My limbs - including my toes, of all things - are skinnier. My potbelly is shrinking. Charlie horse and foot spasm incidents are way down. My shoulder-rounding is reversing, which has been the best benefit so far. I still have back pain attacks, two of them more severe than I've ever had, and I haven't yet found the magic formula for complete neck pain relief, but overall, I'm more fit and flexible than I have been in years. Every week, I keep up with Miranda a little better than the week before. She remains upbeat and non-judgmental.

In short, I'm glad I found her, and I'm glad I'm sticking with her.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Classical Stretch

I'm turning 44 this month. In my family, that means I have more than half my life ahead of me, barring accident or apocalypse. This is the first year I've started wishing that isn't true.

I may have had aches before, but this is the year I've noticed. I went to physical therapy for the first time for neck pain (didn't help). I've been using oils, back and body aspirin, NSAIDs (not all at the same time), and glucosamine chondroitin. Hasn't helped. I wake up in the middle of the night with back pain, if I'm lucky, because not waking up then means I wake up with worse pain when the alarm goes off.

Many of my Friends suffer chronic pain. I'm not saying I hurt like they hurt, but I don't like hurting at all, so a 3 - 4 on the pain scale is way more than I want to experience in a normal day. Especially when I haven't done anything to deserve it aside from folding laundry (the latest cause of my latest back spasm).

Working in The Swamp helps, but that is a one to two season activity at most in Kansas. Winter and Summer just don't lend themselves to Swamp activities on a daily basis. I used to do yoga, and I've considered Tai Chi, but I have reservations about meditation practices of false religions, even if they might help my back. The mind leads the body, but the body leads the mind, too. Paul the apostle's words in Romans about eating meat sacrificed to idols being meaningless when you give it no meaning is one thing, yet I notice that was one of only two practices forbidden by the early Church for both Jewish and Greek converts. Is my faith really greater than Peter's?

Shuffling around the house about a month ago, lamenting the state of my back yet again, I accidentally turned on PBS (a channel I strenuously avoid nowadays). I caught the tail end of a Miranda Esmonde-White Classical Stretch routine. Zero impact cardio - fabulous for my rickety knees and traitorous hips. Lots of stretching - like yoga without the religion. She emphasizes relaxation, something I've had several highly paid professionals confirm is an issue of mine.

I found two reasonably priced used DVDs for core strengthening and back pain relief on Amazon, and set my alarm for 4:45 so I could be up and ready when her PBS program comes on at 5 AM. I've been working out with her for 7 mornings now, and twice this weekend when the DVDs arrived, and it has helped. My posture is better, the pain is less when I wake up, and I feel more relaxed.

Once again, I run the risk of being the alcoholic who knows everything after one meeting (or, in this case, 7), but this may the exercise habit I've been looking for. I'll let you know in a few months.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fear As Sin

"Fear is a sin." I've heard this a number of times. Jesus tells us not to fear, the Bible tells us 365 times not to fear; therefore being afraid is a sin. I read it in an article yesterday. I'm thinking I've heard it from some big name evangelists I otherwise tend to agree with.

I've thought about it a lot. I was dangerously close to developing a medication-requiring storm phobia a few years ago, so I had to think about it. If fear is a sin, and any hint of severe weather sent me into freak out mode, was I adding insult to injury?  How could I ask God for help with my fear if I was sinning against Him by feeling fear in the first place?

Fear is an emotion. Emotions, by definition, are out of our conscious control. They are physical reactions to circumstances. Fear involves a perception of danger followed by an adrenaline rush. Depending on the severity of perception and the duration of adrenal stimulation, "simple" fear can become panic attacks or PTSD. Are those sins? Should I feel guilty every time a tornado warning siren blares and frightens me?

I agree that I know I have no reason to fear. God is bigger than any problem I will ever face. However, I have this earth suit that responds to perceived threats with adrenaline, shortness of breath, increased heart rate. I will experience fear at some point, just as I experience anger, grief, and happiness. I believe the sin part comes with the action that follows the emotion.

I cannot stop an adrenaline surge. I can choose what to do with it. I can choose to take the 10 seconds to breathe deeply, to pray and give my fear to God. I can focus on the cause of my fear or the cause of my salvation. That's where the risk of sin lies: in the action.

"Worry" is another issue. I agree that worrying is a sin, because worrying is a controllable action. I choose to worry when I dwell on what frightens me instead of who delivers me. I am a champion worrier, but I am retraining my brain to focus on God instead of worry. I thank Him instead for all the ways He cares for me. Sometimes I have to start very small and silly to grease the wheels of gratitude, but that's OK. I'm learning, and the psalms tell me God not only knows my every thought, He's OK with me telling Him about them.

Fear feeds itself. The more I fear being afraid, the more afraid I become. "Fear is the mind-killer." Better to face my fear, let it wash over and past me, and know that I remain securely inside God's plan. Fear grows less, and love grows more.

Sin or not, God is the only remedy. Turn to Him.

Keep the faith.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Doing Nothing on Vacation

I took vacation time this week. As far as I can remember, this is the first time I've taken a whole week at once. I got a few surprised looks from coworkers when I announced my intentions. Normally, I take a Friday or a Thursday-Friday if the weather is supposed to be especially nice. Why so short? 1) I like working, and 2) too much time off leaves too much time for someone else to mess up my job while I'm gone.

Mom suggested a week would let us goof off like we did when I was in college. But Mom wasn't taking her plantar faciatis into account, and she's been laid up and sleeping while her foot heals. That's cool. I'm self-entertaining. But I can't lie down for more than a few hours at a time anymore without my back screaming bloody murder (as the last two nights attest), so that option is out for me.

I don't have the money to do all the things I could be doing this week, like replacing window sills, replenishing my delicates drawer, or purchasing shoe inserts to help with growing hip/ knee pain, so I have to prioritize.

I have The Swamp to keep me busy, but that only works for so long (because it's hard, exhausting physical labor) and depends on the weather. Yesterday's weather turned out to be rather mild considering the hype, so I'll be out there soon. Days are shortening as I type, and I don't have the lights to work in the dark.

I have a van to fix, too. Can't find a service shop willing to help, so I've turned to Google once again. I finally have a day that won't roast me like a dog in the backseat while I work on the trunk latch. Haven't been able to open the back in two months, and what good is a minivan with a back gate that won't open? Of course, the obvious answer is a minivan with a back gate that won't stay closed, which is another reason I haven't tried to fix it myself. Ah, well. Nothing ventured...

I have a vent fan in the bathroom that likely needs a screw installed at the outside exhaust end, but that requires not only a cool day but a willingness to remove everything from my closet, climb into the attic with or without a multi-cat escort, and wade through blown insulation over ceiling joists to install that one screw. If only I'd done it the first time I was up there. One of my big life regrets.

The sun is finally cresting. That cold front brought 50 degree temps, so today the mosquitoes will have to work around layers for their blood. They're Swamp mosquitoes. I'm sure they're up for the challenge.

I find I'm looking forward to returning to work. This doing nothing on vacation is just too hard for a Turtle.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Still Not a Feminist

I've refused to identify as a feminist, even when Mark Ruffalo called me names.

A Friend posted an article about a normal (as in not overly political or activist-ish) dad who reared feminist daughters by encouraging them to follow their dreams, ignore stereotypes and be independent. OK. That could be my dad. Maybe by that definition, I'm a feminist.

Another Friend on another post pointed out that there are more flavors of feminism than we see on the news (most of which I call "femiNazis" because that's the kind of bias I have) and posted a quiz/survey she endorsed as helping fill out those flavors. I respect this Friend, so I clicked on the quiz just to see what kind of feminist I might be. And lost interest within seconds.

The last question I remember was along the lines of are animals rights a feminist issue. *insert blank stare* Animal rights? Some people think that female animals are more oppressed/abused/neglected than male animals? Or do they mean women do/should care more about animal rights than men? I don't remember the other questions, but they were equally ridiculous to me, and I returned to Farmville.

Which leads to my conclusion that I simply have no lens in my worldview arsenal that highlights "women's issues." I don't look at any given scenario and think "that woman is being oppressed." I do often think "wow, she made some bad choices," or "that is an abusive situation," but that's as far as my feminism goes. I don't believe woman are oppressed more because they're women. I believe everyone has it bad because of sin. Women may experience the consequences differently than men, but I don't find that offensive.

I do find it offensive when "women" are lumped in with "diversity," as in a business is required to have a "diverse" workforce with "minorities," including "women." I'm not able to land and maintain a job on my own merits? I'm hired as a concession to social engineering?

Maybe that's my blind spot regarding feminism. Maybe I couldn't possibly have gotten a job before the whole "equal rights" thing because a man wouldn't give it to me. Seems reality changed that perspective in World War I (or II, I really can't remember when the Rosie the Riveter era happened - probably because I'm not a feminist), making necessity the mother of equal rights, not feminism.

Frankly, I'm tired of the subject. Unless some new evidence comes to light, I consider this matter closed. I am not a feminist. Bully to those who are. Glad you've found your cause.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Finish What You Start

I'm sure I've said this before, but experience is teaching me how true it is.

Finish what you start writing.

It doesn't matter if it's a lousy first draft with terrible characterization and a sappy ending. What's important is that it's equally lousy throughout.

If you don't finish, then you get a hunchback of Notre Dame kind of monster where parts are extremely overworked and polished, and parts are spindly and lousy, and parts are just missing, and who wants to attach garbage to fine jewelry? It's paralyzing.

Nope. Better to puke the whole mess out at the start and work on cleanup later when you can stand to look at it again.

That's not really the best analogy, since most people don't make sculpture out of vomit, but it's the best I can do this morning.

Finish what you start.

Thursday, May 21, 2015


A tiny garden spider took up residence in my bathroom several weeks ago. No idea where she came from. One morning, she was there in the corner, sitting in her invisible web. It was cold outside, and she had caught two ants, so I let her be.

She later caught another spider. She was earning her keep, and staying close to her web, so I let her be.

In the last week or so, she has caught nothing. The ants aren't coming inside anymore. I worried about her. A spider has to eat to live and spin webs. The longer she went without food, the less likely she became to be able to do anything about it. I should move her outside.

But she's a house spider. She doesn't know The Big World. She isn't prepared for temperature extremes or thunderstorms or birds or bigger spiders.

What spider is prepared? Spiders know only what God programmed them to know: survival. They do what they can because it's all they have.

This morning, I caught her (very carefully, because a spider can get trapped in her own web) and took her out to the compost pile, where I hope ants are plentiful enough even for a starving arachnid, and there is some shelter from rain until she gets established. I hope she does well. I hope she grows and meets a mate and has a sack full of baby spiders. I have no way of knowing, but I choose to hope, even though my heart says I waited too long and her best hope is to be eaten quickly.

I wish I didn't care so much about spiders and wasps and flies and earthworms and crows and - well, you get the idea. I wish I didn't believe from my heart that all life comes from God and is therefore precious and deserving of respect and kindness. I wish I was OK with nature's cruelty, and didn't believe it is only a result of The Curse that Adam and Eve and every human since brought down on creation.

If wishes were fishes, we'd all eat steak.

God's blessing, little spider. By His grace, we'll meet again, and you can tell me your adventures in The Big World.

Friday, March 27, 2015

I Am Not a Feminist

With the release of Daughter of Anasca, this suddenly seems important to say. DoA has many capable female characters, so it's tempting to think I'm all about woman power.

I'm not. I'm about people power.

I don't think woman are oppressed any more than anybody else. I don't think we need special laws, or special interests, or special salaries, or whatever. I think every person is responsible for himself (yes, I even still use the masculine as a generic pronoun because that's how English works). I hate things like that test - whatever it's called, starts with "B" - that women dreamed up to quantify how much time women spend talking to each other about "not men" in movies. Every time I see a reference to that sort of nonsense, I want to put on an extra bra in protest. Stop telling me I'm oppressed. I'm not.

If I'm anything, I'm a female male chauvinist, because I do believe whenever possible, men should be "in charge." I find it sad that we live in a culture that thrives on emasculating men. This is a worldview issue for me, created not only by my family of origin, but my training and education. I wish more men would step up and stop letting the women do all the work.  

I didn't write DoA as a book about oppressed women overcoming society's unfairness, although I understand if some readers take that away. I wrote about two girls and two boys growing up. I put Cahnar and Spidraax in there because boys grow up, too, and they also have trouble doing it. 

That's all I have to say about that. Today, anyway. Breakfast is calling.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Procrastination or Inspiration?

With the release of Daughter of Anasca and my current Farmville fast, I have no excuse not to be writing. My official WIP is Dangling Justice, the prequel to Star of Justice.

However, I just read a not-good book by a best-selling author about psychics in New Orleans, and it left me with a strong urge to write something better. I haven't felt an urge like this since college, when I listened to secular music and got writing ideas all day long.

TT: I've tried listening to secular music nowadays, but the stuff is so coarse and inappropriate, I don't want to write any stories it might inspire. 

The prequel to Dangling Justice, and the story that really started it all, is Past Ties. This idea also sparked 20 years ago, like Daughter of Anasca, and could be considered the first story I ever "finished." It was about 50K words and ended on a cliff-hanger, but I'd never written anything that long before with a continuous timeline.

Past Ties is more sci fi than fantasy, set in future Kansas and involving time travel, psychics and cyborgs, inspired by Arnold Schwartzenegger's Total Recall, Jon Larroquette's Second Sight, and a campy B movie called Jack's Back starring James Spader as identical twins (that remains unavailable on DVD, even though I check Amazon every year). Originally it was set on Mars and Earth. I ultimately scrapped it because a) it was melodramatic crap that served mostly to boost my word count to the magic one million, and b) because I didn't want to do the loads of research necessary for all that egghead stuff.

Anyway, I've realized a couple things. One, I write space opera, not sci fi. I don't claim to prognosticate the future or even accurately describe current scientific possibilities. All I want to do is suggest that certain things might be possible, and hopefully not be too wrong. Two, and I give credit to Kessie Carroll's guest post on NAF for this, I don't have to write a brick to tell this story. It might make a fine novella. I did have plans to write two other books to complete the story, so three novellas might first be ebooks and eventually, a combined print novel.

Finally, and most importantly, Past Ties makes Dangling Justice make sense. It introduces the main characters in their own element and explains why they end up causing so much trouble in Ah'rahk in the first place.

So, there's a good chance Past Ties will appear as an offering to the reading public. It may be the death blow to any future non-fantasy writing attempts on my part, but it might not. I do know a few die hard geeks I suspect would be happy to provide some balance on the science. Or mock the compost out of it. 

I'm transferring the file to Scrivener. I'm determined to let go immediately of every 20 year old word that doesn't fit in my new idea of what this story could be. I will accept the challenge. I will Spock my own fiver.

Applaud the jellyfish.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spock My Fiver

I saw this article on Facebook shortly after the death of Leonard Nimoy.

"Spocking the hell out of fivers" instantly became my happy thought of the day, combining both the idea of the stereotypically infinitely accommodating Canadians bucking the system and my favorite Vulcan (sorry, Tuvok, I loved Spock first) and his foray into the world of bad language (even-numbered Trek films don't suck). It also became my mission.

I began a one-woman campaign to bring "Spock my fiver" into the American lexicon. To do this, I offered definitions. The phrase must be useful, but also respectful of both the human Leonard Nimoy, and the Vulcan philosophy of logic and order.

"Spock my fiver" is the positive, which connotes "icing on the cake." To Spock my fiver is to do me one better, take it to the next level, put bacon gravy on those biscuits. It can also connote friendly one-upmanship, as in "you did that? I can Spock your fiver. I did this."

"Don't Spock my fiver" is the negative, which is still respectful but in the other direction. Telling a story and someone else finishes it, probably better than you would have? "Man, don't Spock my fiver." Akin to "Live long and don't steal my thunder."

I will autograph books to young writers with "Spock my fiver" as an encouragement to dream bigger than my success (not hard at the moment). I've already signed one, matter of fact. I will use it in at least one of my books, right alongside Solar Roadways.

I have made progress. Today, a co-worker used the phrase in context. Several Facebook Friends seem intrigued by the idea. I hope they, too, are spreading the seeds of the Canadian Vulcan fiver mythology. Perhaps, one day, it will find it's way into a Heavens to Betsy book. Dare I dream the Turtle may even have a footnote? What a fiver that would Spock.

Spread the word, my friends. Spock my fiver. Spock the hell out of my fiver.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Daughter of Anasca

It's done. And by "done," I mean Daughter of Anasca is available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Unlike Star of Justice, this is a young adult fantasy, suitable for ages 12 and up (maybe younger, depending on the child). I wrote it as a stand-alone, but I have a few ideas that could end up a sequel.

I plan to offer it on Barnes & Noble in print and Nook-compatible, but that "next thing" involves another learning curve. I'll tackle it with the slow and steady approach.

Here's the print link and here's the Kindle link.

This all happened this weekend when, quite ahead of schedule, my second proof copy got delivered on Saturday. Since it looked fine, and I'd done everything else, I clicked "approve proof," and BAM!, it was published. Bit startling, really.

I now have to figure out if there's a way to order bulk copies that doesn't involve me paying taxes twice. Until I've solved that conundrum, which involves reading a 52-page pamphlet (HA!) by the Kansas Dept of Revenue, I won't be ordering bulk books. If you want it now, order it from Amazon, and I'll sign your copy next time we see each other.

I did want to post a little excerpt from the book:  

Special Thanks

To my final proof readers, Theresa, Kat and Hilary, who found everything from missing periods to giant plot holes.

To my friend, Grace, for all her encouragement and help.

To Matt, for swooping in like a tech-wielding superhero,

To Larissa, who not only read the first and final drafts, but provided the accountability to finish, and

Finally, to my God, for limitless love and grace. 
Thank you, also, to my fans, whoever you are. This story isn't set in Caissa's world, but I hope you like it, too. My next project is back to Ah'rahk for the Star of Justice prequel.

Keep the faith.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Progress Report

You all know I'm trying to self-publish. This is a thing at least a dozen of my author friends have done, so it shouldn't be that hard.

Enter the Turtle.

I am not an autodidact (self-teacher). Thank you, Katherine Coble for an introduction to that word. I am a teacher. I would rather teach a man to fish than fish for him, but everything I know I learned from a teacher somewhere in my life. I don't forge new paths. I don't test every button or option in a program to see what it does. I don't fiddle with every setting because I can't remember how to replicate those results. I follow the manual.

Grace taught me the margins that have worked for her in the 28 (?) books she has published in the last six years. I discovered my ancient Word program doesn't convert to PDF specs that CreateSpace wants. I could just keep sending huge files to all my friends to convert for me, but I don't want to do that for the rest of my publishing life. I found a Friend who helped me find LibreOffice, free software that does convert to CreateSpace specs. Fabulous.

New hurdle: the LibreOffice converted files add 8 pages to the finished CreateSpace project and I can't figure out why, how, or if it matters. It does matter a bit because it makes the book bigger, which affects cost and cover size (a whole other learning curve). Are eight pages that big a deal? Not necessarily, but before I just sigh and accept, I'd kinda like to know what I'm doing or not doing that's causing it.

I'm not suicidally frustrated, like I was when Star of Justice was being prepared. The benefit of total control is I can walk away and sling mulch if I need to. But I really thought this would be easier - the number one cause of conflict in life, by the way: false expectations.

I'm going to keep trying, like Edison with his light bulb, and tonight I'll convert and upload the 18th (at least) attempt in the last six days to CreateSpace. Eventually, by accident, I'll stumble on the right magical formula to please the Machine Overlords, and with my newly acquired experience points, I'll  move on in the Publishing level of the writing game I call The Swamp.

On a more satisfying note, God finally provided a dump truck load of free wood chippings on my lawn, so I have plenty of mulch to sling when it all gets too be too much.

Keep the faith.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Greatest Fear

I am a worrier. I try very hard not to be, but I come from a line of worriers so it's a nature and nurture thing. I worry about weather, cost of living, icy roads, and a whole bunch of other things that are outside my control. This leads to me being a control freak about things I can control, like having a multi-step tornado safety plan, and an emergency fund that would make Mrs. Ramsey proud.

However, what's harder to see from the outside is that all my worrying and control freakness stem from a single source: what will happen to my animals if something happens to me.

If I lived alone, I would be carefree. I think I'd be so depressed and miserable on a regular basis I wouldn't get out of bed other than to go to work, but I wouldn't worry anymore. Frankly, I'd be waiting impatiently for God to take me out of this increasingly insane world.

I worry about how I can protect my charges during disaster or emergency. Or Rapture. The Rapture bothers me a lot, but so does being dragged off to jail for being a Christian with my door open, and my little ones left to fend for themselves. That thought makes it hard to breathe on my best day. 

They're just things, Turtle.

No. I have things, and I don't care about what happens to those when I die.

Animals are not things to me, no matter what the law says. They're lives. Too many lives, it can be reasonably argued, but lives nonetheless. I won't abandon them in case of fire. I won't get myself downstairs if one of them is upstairs. I won't risk an auto accident if it means I become paraplegic, and they go to the shelter to die ('cause that's what happens to 99% of cats in shelters. They die).

Is this a stupid way to live? Yeah. My head knows that, but my heart runs these things, and I don't know how to control my heart. I can't be the person who thinks only of herself when seven other lives depend on me for their subsistence and overall protection. I don't want to be that person.

So I worry. I know it's a sin. What I don't know is how to apply God's grace to cover my critters. He and I have talked about it a lot, and the conversation shows no sign of concluding.

Just know, if something happens to me, my one and only remaining concern is that my critters be cared for. This is why I made a will. This is why I won't commit suicide (because they wouldn't get their hefty insurance payment that will provide for them for the rest of their natural lives). This is why I wrote this post.

My first Bible study of this year will be "peace." Seek, and you will find. I'm seeking, Lord. 

Keep the faith.