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Content: Ode to NaNo

Quoting my friend Calley, and sharing a smile. Calley is my co-ML (Municipal Liaison in NaNo Speak),, so we share the fun and pain of November starting in October. Enjoy!

Abstract

Image result for nanowrimo 2019 banne Photo Cred: NaNoWriMo.org

I’m back from not-hiatus, and ‘TIS THE SEASON, FRIENDS!

When someone new gets to know me, there are three undeniable truths about me that they generally pick up in the first three days.

  1. My favorite animal is undeniably, vocally, incontrovertibly, emphatically the majestic and graceful sea turtle.
  2. I can’t tell a short story to save my soul.
  3. NaNoWriMo is my own personal month-long holiday.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, or NaNo for short) is an annual challenge to write 50,000 words toward a novel in the month of November. It’s like a fiction writer’s equivalent of a marathon. You train for it. You prep for it. You do it. Then you sleep.

More about NaNo in this post from nearly a year ago! Suffice it to say, it’s one of my favorite events for many mushy-gushy reasons I’ll explain in a few weeks. A little-known fact about…

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NaNo Calls and I must go

Yes, it is that time of year again. The insanity takes over and those of us who must write will take part in National Novel Writing Month. (Google NaNoWriMo.org if you need to know more.)

My local group met for a write-in tonight and all but one of us could not believe how crazy this first day had been. Every thing tried to derail us and yet, there we were, ready to write on Day 1.

Join us if you can!

A shout out to my friend Teagan Geneviene (http://teagansbooks.wordpress.com/) – Happy NaNo Girlfriend! Hope all is well in Atonement!

Issue 2 Available

So while 1Q 2014 has not been my most prolific on this blog, at least I managed to get a couple stories done for the anthology. Thank you all for your support. Have a great day!
-Lynn

Published! Endless Gateways, Volume 1, Issue 1

Dear Readers,

I am happy to announce that the anthology from my writers group is now available on Amazon and Smashwords. It is listed on Barnes & Noble, although I couldn’t make the link work to buy a copy. 😦

You can also visit our website: Endless Gateways.

My stories are under my pen name, Madame Terzo Occhio (MT Occhio for short). Please take a look, pick up a copy, and leave a review when you’re done.

Thank you all for your encouragement and your friendship.

Have a wonderful day!

Lynn

The Dragon’s Loyalty Award

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With sincere thanks to Shaun at Praying for One Day http://prayingforoneday.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/the-dragons-loyalty-award-3/

Rules of this award:

1. Firstly, display the Award on your site (see Award page or sidebar!) You earned it and you deserve it!
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award in your acceptance post;
3. Nominate 15 well-deserving bloggers for the Award and let them know the wonderful news by sending them a message on their site;
4. List 7 interesting facts about yourself

Seven things about Lynn

1. I am a happy person.
2. I love animals and currently have 3 cats and 1 dog.
3. I love ice cream.
4. Dead people see me.
5. I would rather have a great meal with good friends than buy a new toy.
6. I love music. I am classically trained in voice and have sung with rock bands.
7. I want to make people smile.

I now nominate 15 VERY LUCKY PEOPLE! 

1. http://teagansbooks.wordpress.com
2. http://danthonybrown.com

3. http://www.susanwingate.com/

4. http://tracyleekarner.com/

5. http://trishapearson.wordpress.com/

6. http://projectlighttolife.wordpress.com/

7. http://cristianmihai.net/

8. http://barefootbaroness.org/

9. http://thinkingfromtheheart.wordpress.com/

10. http://doncharisma.org/

11. http://vegetarianmadeeasy.wordpress.com/

12. http://www.mtntophermit.com/

13. http://reachingutopia.com/

14. http://jtweaver.net/

15. http://endlessgateways.com/

NaNoWrimo – On Fire

Many thanks to Teagan for providing a soundtrack for NaNoWriMo!!

Teagan's Books

hunger gamesYay!  This week I took leave from work for an entire week of “stay-cation.”  And i’m excited to say that I’ve been on WriMo fire!

So I couldn’t resist a new theme song for today.  I’m with The Doors again.  Can you guess which song?

WriMo-Fire!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MifWlrkEBD4

Light My Fire

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Ever have one of those days…

I know it’s Friday. My brain is fried.

I signed up for two websites this week and forgot to record the passwords. I’ve wracked my brain and no clue or hint has remained behind to lead me back. Normally I record them in a spreadsheet designed specifically to aid my memory. These two aren’t listed. At all.

Yesterday, after getting dressed for work, I stepped out of the bedroom and realized I’d forgotten a critical undergarment. One I never forget in normal circumstances. And one which I cannot remember ever having forgotten before in my life.

I have no excuse for these lapses. Or at least none that I like.

Aging, perimenopause, and lack of sleep are possibilities. And I do not like any of them. I’m not ready to be “old.”

Birthday Celebration Philosophy

I recently celebrated my birthday. The wishes trickle in both before and after the actual date, with apologies for not being on the actual date. So I remind them, when I turned 50, I got 3 months to celebrate. A quarter of a year for half a century seems reasonable. And when I turn 80, I intend to celebrate every day. If anyone lives to be 80 (although I might have to up it if everyone starts living that long), then every day is a new chance. We are already on borrowed time, so why not enjoy it?

I’m planning to go into new restaurants and tell the young staff I am celebrating my birthday. I am even considering buying or making a party hat to sit on my gray head to emphasize the point. And they will smile and ask me how old I am, and I will tell them “I am 80 years old.” And they will coo over me as if I am their grandmother.

I will eat dessert first and then if I am still hungry I will order appetizers. Tasty little bites of this and that. Whatever strikes my fancy. And then perhaps another dessert. I will ask the young server ever so coyly if they do anything to celebrate birthdays. And if they bring me a cupcake with a candle or a scoop of ice cream, I will giggle in appreciation and gobble it down and maybe even lick the plate. And if they offer me a free drink, I’ll slurp it noisily. They will not know I choose to portray myself as an old fool for their amusement. Meanwhile, I will be entertaining myself with free goodies at every opportunity. Everybody wins!

Time for a Theme Change

My ignorance of most things regarding WordPress has necessitated a theme change. Apparently, not all themes are compatible with mobile devices – who knew? So in order to allow anyone who wants to see this blog on a device other than a normal desktop, I have changed my wicked ways. This theme is supposed to be “responsive” and should reformat to fit whatever device is being used. Please let me know what you think.
I hope you won’t find it too obnoxious.

Blame it on NaNo

Many of you will recognize that NaNo is short for NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month (www.NaNoWriMo.org). Because I am in the throes of trying to write a “novel” this month. (Whatever that means!) I have been negligent about my posts here. My sincere apologies.

My hope is that I will find some portion of my NaNo material that I can also use here. Yes, I still hold down a day job. Yes, I still have family to care for. Yes, I hold chronic pain at bay (sometimes). So you see, we can’t do it all, no matter how much we try. At least I tried and I learned I can’t do it all. (I really should let the rest of you speak for yourselves. Some of you are really impressive!)

Thank you for your readership. I promise to post something more interesting by the end of the week.

Short Story – random prompt

Our usual story prompt service (www.katfeete.net/writing/specific.php) was down, so we created our own using random internet lists and 20-sided dice.

Story prompt: The story’s protagonist is female and an engineer.  A number 2  pencil plays a significant part in the story. The story is set in Club Atomic in the past. The story is about magic and sorcery.

*******

Deirdre pushed her glasses back up her nose and squared her shoulders.  She had to go in the door of Club Atomic, and to do it, she needed all her courage. She didn’t fit in and she knew it. But a dare was a dare, and a double-dog dare was do or die.

The guys at work had been egging her on all week. They were waiting inside to see if she’d really do it.

Being an engineer automatically made her suspect and a female engineer was unheard of. She had two female classmates the entire time she was in Michigan Tech. So when she got to Breuer and Sons, she came highly recommended, and immediately became the target of her male coworkers. She couldn’t bring herself to call them “men” because none of them had grown up except the owner, Mr Breuer. Unfortunately, he wasn’t around to protect her from the daily barrage of practical jokes. Deirdre was used to it. The guys at Michigan Tech were the same way:  All nerds who acted like they’d never seen a woman before. Well they were going to see one tonight.

She watched as other groups of women and couples entered the club until she had a feel for it. Then walked up to the bouncer. He looked her up and down carefully.

“You might want to lose the glasses, sweetie, if you want to see any action tonight.”

Then he pulled back the rope and let her pass. She knew the glasses didn’t match her outfit, yet she needed them to see, so she was at a disadvantage. Deirdre shouldered her way through the crowd, keeping a tight grip on her purse as she moved toward the bar. The music was pulsing so loudly, it thudded in her chest. When she reached the bar, she struggled to make herself heard above the din. She had never ordered a drink in a place like this so finally she just pointed to an evil looking concoction with black liquid that glowed in the dark on a passing tray and the bartender nodded. He brought it back to her and hollered “Twenty-one!” She looked at him with a puzzled expression. Finally pointing to her purse and repeating the number, he made her understand he needed $21 for her drink. Shocked at the price, she opened her bag and pulled out her wallet and carefully counted out fives and ones for exactly $21. He looked at the money she’d laid on the counter and looked back at her. She blushed when she realized she’d forgotten a tip. So she reached in her wallet, threw down a couple more singles, then quickly took her drink and backed away as he just shook his head.

Now to find The Boys, as she called them in her head …

She struggled toward a wall where she could get a good layout of the club. The dance floor ceiling appeared to be at least 4 stories high with hanging platforms and cages and balconies on each floor that surrounded the dance floor on three sides. The dance floor itself glowed and pulsed. Part of the lighting must include blacklight bulbs she realized as anything white took on an ethereal glow. Where would a bunch of engineers be in a place like this …

She studied the room and each level of balcony. Then she saw them. Directly above a woman with a very lowcut dress that appeared to be in danger of a wardrobe malfunction at any moment. Typical! She looked around for a path to their level. No obvious staircases or elevators. Then she saw the ropes. They glowed when the blacklight hit them, but she hadn’t realized they were moving and people were being pulled up and lowered down. She watched a woman walk up to the rope, wrap her right leg around the rope just above a large knot, then balance her drink and her handbag on her left side before grabbing above another knot with her free hand. No sooner had she done so than she started to glide upward until she was pulled through a hole in the floor of the next level. Guys gathered right below to look up her dress as she ascended.

Shit! This was what she had to put up with every day, why, why, why did she put herself through this on her day off. Gamely, she made her way to the rope and tried to copy the woman she had just watched. She didn’t quite have the knack so by the time she reached the next level her dress had slid up to reveal her lacy black bikini underwear through her pantyhose. She heard wolf whistles and clapping. Thank goodness she’d managed not to spill her drink! Although she had been tempted to pour it on the gawkers right beneath her, she didn’t want to waste her money or have to buy another one.

When she finally reached them, they were still so busy watching the woman below that they didn’t notice her at first. Then Burt happened to glance her way, did a doubletake and nudged Norb, who nudged Dick. Then George let out a low whistle and said “Baby you just turned my floppy disk into a hard drive.” She tensed as they started to surround her, and then she realized they didn’t recognize her. She decided she was going to have some fun with them. She dug in her purse and came up with a pencil and small notepad.

“P-p-please, you will h-h-help m-m-me?” she stuttered with a strong European accent she had learned imitating her grandmother. They gathered closer, nodding and murmuring assurances that they would LOVE to help her.

Ohhh Kay. Please my English is not too good. Please to give me phone number for, how do you say,  polizei?

Oh nooo, baby. Why do you need the police?

I have…. how do you call it… problem?

What problem, baby? You’re with us now, we can fix anything.

Anyting?

Yes, yes, anything.

She switched back to her normal voice while putting her glasses back on, “Then how do I get rid of the circle of assholes that is surrounding me?”

They all jumped back and gasped. “You!”

“Yes, you jerkwads, it’s me, Deirdre.”

“But, but, but, you look so, so, so…. so pretty.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… tell it to your shrink. Now each of you knuckledraggers is going to write down your home phone numbers using my little pencil here. And don’t try to give me a fake one.”

Burt took the pencil and notepad first and started to write then yelled, “Ouch!” And started shaking his right hand, although it was quickly apparent that he was trying to shake something off. “Get it off me!”

“Stop yelling! I told you not to try giving me misinformation. Please write your correct telephone number and the pencil will release you.”

“What the?!” Finally realizing she was probably telling the truth, he complied. Once he had finished writing the pencil no longer clung to his fingers, so he attempted to hand it to George. George leaned backed saying “No way! I’m not taking it!”

“You have to,” Deirdre reminded him. “If you don’t, you won’t be able to leave this circle.”

Of course, George tried and found his feet firmly glued as did the others. Only Burt was able to move outside of their tight group.

“I’m going home.  I’ll see you guys next week. Here, George. Take the pencil.”

George hesitantly took the pencil and pad and quickly wrote his number and handed off to Dick. Dick reluctantly took the pencil and pad. Then paused to examine it.

“Looks like an ordinary Number 2 pencil. Why is it sticking to my hand?”

“Just write your number and pass it on, Dick.”

When Norb had written his number and given the pencil and pad back to Deirdre,  the rest of the men prepared to leave. She placed the pencil and pad back in her bag.

“Wait – what are you planning to do with our numbers?”

“I’m making sure you guys go home to your wives and that you are really nice to them for putting up with your philandering asses. Now scoot!”

As the last one headed for the door, she took a long pull from her drink. It was extremely tasty. Hmm… as long as I’m here, I might as well enjoy it.

*******

With thanks  to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

What do you think? Did I honor the spirit or the letter of the writing prompt? Enter your thoughts in comments below.

Voodoo Doll

Last night it happened again. Every nerve in my body fired at a different time and for a different reason. An itch here. A pang there. A cramp. A twinge. A poke. After four hours I swore someone had a voodoo doll of me and just kept poking it and twisting it so there was no way I could get comfortable.

I could blame the invisible aliens like they had in Star Trek Voyager where only 7 of 9 could see them torturing and experimenting on her crew mates.

It may be ghosts or otherworldly beings trying to get my attention. Problem is, I’m much more receptive to them when I get at least halfway toward a sleeping state.

And it always stops at dawn. As soon as the light comes I can sleep easily and then the alarm goes off and I drag my weary self into the day.

Mom says it’s because she worked nights while she was pregnant with me. So I am programmed to be awake at night and sleep during the day.

It doesn’t help. I can be dog tired and still unable to sleep. Some nights even sleeping pills don’t work. And I rotisserize and dream about sleeping.

I wonder what it would be like to sleep undisturbed from night until morning. Actually, lately I wonder what it would be like to just sleep undisturbed for more than two hours.

The Golden Bubble

Recently a friend of mine was talking about her six children, all of whom are homeschooled. She worries for them, because they have a more limited exposure to the world, that others may try to take advantage of them. And I was reminded of a tool given to me by one of my teachers, the Golden Bubble. Also called the Golden Egg, this tool is a kind of forcefield that helps to protect the energy of the one enclosed and also helps those around them.

The principle is, by completely surrounding oneself with a golden mesh that allows only love to pass through in either direction, the wearer protects her/his energy from psychic attack. In addition, because the mesh works both ways, the wearer cannot issue an attack on others.

It is important to ensure that the bubble or egg is a complete form with no gaps under the feet and no areas that are scrunched or wrinkled. The sphere or ovoid should be whole and should completely and smoothly enclose the wearer. The form is infinitely flexible and can be visualized in any way that helps to convey the concept. Some children may find the idea of a forcefield to be easier to understand. Others may find a soap bubble like the ones they’ve blown to be a better way to see it. Some may think of it in terms of golden light or an aura. And still others will relate more closely to the eggshell. It doesn’t matter how the concept is taught as long as they get the idea of a golden glow that protects the wearer and spreads light and love.

Mothers, fathers, or other caretakers can create a bubble around the ones they love and wish to protect before sending them out to face the day. And anyone can learn to put one on for themselves. A child who knows how to create the bubble for herself will recover more quickly if she feels the one her mother made has worn off. And anyone who suddenly finds herself or himself in a fearful situation can put on the bubble to gain courage to do what’s right.

Yesterday, my friend reported back to me that she had taught her children to put on the Golden Egg at my suggestion. And one day when they had company, her daughter Annie, who was usually so good, was acting up, so my friend grabbed her daughter and took her upstairs and demanded to know what was going on.  Her daughter blurted out “I’m sorry, Mommy. I forgot to put on my egg.” Relieved, my friend helped Annie put on her golden egg, and they both returned to the family room in a better frame of mind.

So my reminder to myself is to put on the Golden Bubble.  It’s not about me (most of the time) and I can be more helpful to others (and myself) if I am able to Spread the Light. 🙂

********

This link from ROFLCat.com may bring a smile:

http://www.roflcat.com/images/cats/I_Has_A_Force_Field.jpg

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 5: The Ring

She killed the engines allowing drift and gravity to pull the ship into the outer ring of the space station. She pulled together her equipment and costuming and entered the air dock.

Looking out the viewer she was struck again by the darkness of space, which is only broken by points of light. The space station was also dark with only enough light to keep visitors and staff from running into walls or each other. She followed the curve of the outer wall around to the main passageway to the inner ring. Entered the main terminal through the bioscanner ring, which validated her identity and her permission to be on the station.

This space station was referred to as Brachynexus Terminus V. Not terribly creative, but functional in that it referred to the station number and gave a rough orientation in the galaxy from Helios 1 and its third planet, ignominiously named “Earth.”

Sometimes she worked with the local replicators and holographic projectors, although in this case she was not familiar with their systems and since they seemed to be conserving power, she felt more secure carrying her gear. At least then she knew what she had to work with and she could generate enough energy from her pocket pack to manage her performances for the evening.

As she reached the hub, she found the requisite directioning personnel to tell her where to go and she proceeded down yet another dark corridor to the distraction center. These centers were designed to provide station personnel with entertainment and other means to distract themselves from being stuck in a space station millions of miles from the nearest inhabited planet. Since there is no such thing as being “off duty” when you are this far from the nearest colony, there were always station staff entering and leaving based on the current need for their services.

The first biped she encountered was female.

“Do you come here often?”

“No, it’s my first time on this station.”

“What would attract you to this bleak outpost?”

“Work.”

“They must pay you well. Do you offer androgenic tension relief?”

“No and no.

“Then what do you do?”

“You’ll see soon enough. Although a quick search of the universal tracker would give you the basics. Now could you please point me to the central emination point.”

“It’s right over there.

“Thanks.”

She set up her equipment and quickly changed her costume. Then she tapped into the ship’s communication center so that everyone would be able to hear her voice and anyone who was near a monitor would be able to see her, too.

“Hello everyone! My name is Desdemona and I will be your storyteller for this period.”

All around her glowed a ring of light that attracted them like moths. They walked, ran, stumbled and fell under her spell. She brought them to a different place and made them forget their dark circles.

Then she got in her ship and went to the next station. Spreading the light…

*******

With thanks to The Speculative Fiction Muse http://www.katfeete.net/writing/specfic.php

Story-A-Day Challenge is courtesy of Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

And to my writing partners, Mary C Sutton and D Anthony Brown danthonybrown.me for the support and the laughs.

With gratitude

To everyone who has read a post here or liked a post or commented, my sincere thanks.

This blog is an experiment for me. A way to start having my name out in the world attached to my writing. So anyone who helps me as I grow and change and still manages to follow my meandering posts is my hero, and I am grateful to you.

My parents found me challenging, my siblings probably more so. It’s not that I’m trying to be difficult, it’s just that I see things differently than most people and I will point it out. Probably when you least expect it. And you will think long and hard about whether the things I ask you to consider are worth the difficulty of thinking about them. Some of you will give up and leave. And I am still grateful that you gave me what you could.

That thought…

I’ve never had that thought before… I’ve always been able to rise above, to consider that “this too shall pass” and, yet,  it came, unbidden, as I was sitting at the dining room table one day not long ago – “I don’t think I can live like this.”

That thought hasn’t appeared again. It never occurred to me before. What has changed? Maybe it’s perimenopause. Maybe it’s something else. Maybe it’s true?  No, I don’t think so… at least not today.

I’ve lived with diagnoses of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis (and a few other things) for more than 10 years. I’ve worked 40+ hours per week. I haven’t asked for or really considered disability. So why did I have that thought? My marriage is basically happy. My life is pretty good. And yet, on that day, in that moment, I considered another option.

And then I felt guilty. I am not dying of an incurable disease like ALS or cancer. I do not have a progressively worsening diagnosis such as MS. And yet the pain can be so debilitating that in a moment of weakness that thought occurred to me.

The strange weather this season has taken a toll on everyone I know with chronic pain such as  migraines or arthritis or anything else. Here in tropical Minnesota  it was 80 degrees F (or maybe it’s 80 F* degrees?) on March 15th!!  Not normal weather for this part of the country.  Of course, within two weeks there were severe frosts that took out a lot of budding fruit trees.  On April 19, 2011, I documented a snowfall on my digital camera. And the weather has bounced around from Summer to Winter then briefly to Spring. Those kinds of atmospheric changes wreak havoc on anyone with chronic pain.

And the thunderstorms these last few nights kept me awake… which adds to the cycle – lack of sleep, increase in stress, increase in pain.

One of my favorite speakers, Dr Edward Creagan of Mayo Clinic, gave a presentation this week and said the basics to reduce stress  include: walk 30 minutes a day; strength training; restorative sleep (and he added “which most of us never get”); plant-based diet.  When a woman asked him about insomnia, he suggested winding down for 30-45 minutes before bed.  I wanted to ask him “What about when the hot flashes wake me up?”  “What about when the pain wakes me up?” “What about when the I-just-can’t-get-comfortable rotisserizing starts?” And I know the answer is “Go back to the basics.”

It’s that simple — if only it were that easy…

Story-A-Day Challenge Post 1 – An Un-Fairy Tale

What makes a fairytale? And in contrast what makes an “unfairytale”? or is it “unfairy tale”? (is there a difference?) or perhaps “unfair-y tale”?

Never was there a time… A man never lived… or Never lived a man…

There was a fairy who wasn’t fair – not fair of face and not fair in his dealings. He struggled to face himself in the mirror every day because he was homely and because he knew he was not kind to himself or anyone else. He was selfish and it showed in his ugly countenance. Now if this were a true fairytale, he would be redeemed by the end of this story. He would learn his lesson and perhaps with the improvement in his outlook his appearance would change, too. Since this is an unfairytale, we do not find any such redemption.  He continues in his wicked ways unchecked throughout his life and dies miserable and alone. We could go through all the nasty things he does to others, the ways he tries to make them as unhappy as he is, and yet he never succeeds, so why bother describing his actions. The others go on with their lives, slightly disappointed in the moment they encounter him and still manage to maintain their equanimity. He never understands why he is the way he is. He never knows that his treatment of others, although rude and hurtful, is never enough to truly ruin their lives in the way that his is ruined. And he never comprehends that his life could have been different.

He lives a very long time because the powers that created him wanted him to change.  They wanted him to understand that his life could have meant something other than as a trial to those around him.  They wanted him to have redemption. And somehow he stubbornly persists until the very end. Even in death he is not repentant and not worried about where he will go after he dies. Of course, there is no hell, so he passes to the next world. And because that very passage brings with it the awareness of why one has lived and died, he is finally shamed by his behavior. He has no chance to make amends for the wrongs he has caused others. And no opportunity to atone for the sin of selfishness. He realizes he has only harmed himself and his progress. And so he chooses to spend the interval in solitude to contemplate how he could have changed and how he can correct himself and his path so that when he is given the next opportunity he can use it to its fullest. He won’t waste another chance and he will prove to them that he is deserving of that chance. His next life begins in abject poverty in the gutter of a large Asian city. And he is happy to be there.

So perhaps, since he is finally redeemed it has become a true fairytale. Maybe there is no such thing as an unfairytale after all. The End.

With thanks for the inspiration to D Anthony Brown http://danthonybrown.me/

and for the Story-A-Day challenge at Forward Motion for Writers http://www.fmwriters.com/

How do you know when it’s the last time?

It feels like the season of loss… My dad left us at the end of March 2010 and we lost Delilah two weeks later.  In Spring 2011 we lost Jezebel.  And this year we lost our baby –  a beautiful black and white tuxedo named Thomas (after the main character in “The Aristocats” – “Abraham Delacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O’Malley, O’Malley the Alley Cat”).

We were given his mother, Lucy, while she was pregnant, so we were there for his birth and held him within moments of his entry into this dimension.  And now we’ve held him as he left it again.

Thomas had so many endearing habits – if you walked by his corner of the kitchen counter he would reach out a paw to grab your clothing and pull you toward him at which point he would vigorously lick your nose. When I took a shower he would wait patiently for me to come out and express his concern that all that water wasn’t good for anyone. And he would try to help by licking the water off an arm or a cheek.  He didn’t feel well enough to do either of these things for the last month. His most unusual habit occurred when I sat on the toilet – he would crawl into my pants down by my ankles and snuggle in and purr. The only way to get away was to pull my legs out of  my pants and leave them and him on the bathroom floor to pick up later.

The Saturday before we let him go I had just returned from a trip to Vienna, Austria, and had been hoping he would have the strength to make it until I got home. He looked so weak and yet he was obviously glad to see me.  He gifted me with his pants stealing habit one last time on the Saturday before we let him go.  And I recognized it as “the last time.”

Sunday night we had left him in his heated bed in the bathroom. At 4am we were awakened to his pitiful cries.  He had dragged himself out of the bathroom into the hallway.  So I went and picked him up and brought him into bed with us.  So he snuggled down between us under the covers purring – one last time.

The Loss of a Mentor

I lost a mentor this week. He didn’t know me and wouldn’t recognize my name, and yet, I thought of him as a guide, a teacher and a friend.

He was influential in our neck of the woods, and not only through his audience with the local newspaper, but also through his neighbors, his activities with local sports and politics, his garden, his church and his family.  He took the concept of community seriously and devoted himself to our city with a passion that’s hard to match.

I’d say “Rest in Peace” although I can’t imagine he would recline on his (plentiful) laurels even now – there’s too much to do!

Fare thee well, Greg! We miss you.

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Caffeine fueled encounters

I love my writing friends and the inspiration they offer.  That being said, when I ask for the word for reading someone else’s mind, the answer is not “transvestite.” And while I’ll admit that Max, my data retrieval system (see “Random Access Memory” on this blog), had already convinced me the word started with “trans,” he still did not come back with “transvestite” as an option.

Since my ability to read my own mind (ie, my memory files) was obviously not working efficiently, it took a little bit to come up with “telepathy.”  Which opened the gate for “transvestite” and shared tales of past encounters.

Then I made the mistake of asking for a synonym for “experience” and the options offered by http://www.dictionary.com included “combat” “savoir-faire” and “perspicacity.”  So we discussed labeling that section of a résumé – “Previous Combat” or just “Combat.”  Somehow it didn’t translate directly, and again I was offered “transvestite.”  Since I have no idea which writing project my friend was working on, I will have to guess that it involved cross-dressing…

As an homage (and in dubious gratitude for the “inspiration”), please see:
http://danthonybrown.me/2012/03/09/hair-accessories-mind-reading-and-transvestites/

And please offer suggestions for tags by commenting below – what random thoughts occurred to you?

Darkness

The nightmare is always the same – I am in the dark and I cannot summon the light. The light switches don’t work. The daylight is gone. It’s twilight and getting darker. Soon I will be unable to see…

Insufficient Illumination. Inadequate Luminescence. Not enough LIGHT! It is so easy to let the darkness seep in. To let it color the world.  Bitter, lonely, tortured darkness doesn’t really suit my personality. So I keep it confined and when it manages to seep out, I seek out the light.

Most recently I compared the muddy chocolate ooze at the bottom of my hot cocoa to the darkness in my soul – kind of sweet and gooey. That’s my kind of darkness – tempered with sweetness (and chocolate).

With thanks to Scott Adams for Dilbert and Phil the Prince of Insufficient Light who first appeared in this strip <a href=”http://dilbert.comhttp://dilbert.com/strips/comic/1989-05-03/” title=”Dilbert.com”><img src=”http://dilbert.com” border=”0″ alt=”Dilbert.com” /></a>

and to my friend David http://danthonybrown.me/ for the inspiration…

Random Access Memory

The storage facility now rivals the Smithsonian for content and size, although it was once a lot smaller.  The original caretaker was youthful and spry, retrieving facts and needed data seemingly instantaneously.  Things have changed…

There is an old man with a walker who wanders the aisles of the Smithsonian-sized warehouse retrieving facts for me. Everything I’ve ever known is in the warehouse. Everything. And the old man moves up and down the aisles pulling random files, peeking at their contents and shoving them back onto a shelf in another place. Sometimes he carries the files around for awhile before stuffing them into a stack on the other side of the building. His walker has those yellow tennis balls on the back two legs and a handmade bag with his name stenciled awkwardly on the front by one of the residents at the nursing home on craft day and hot-glued hook and loop tape to hold it on the front bar of his walker.

He wears a hearing aid with the volume turned down so he doesn’t accurately hear the requests that come in over the loudspeaker. If the overhead asks for “sneakers” he might hear “squeakers” or “peekers” and he’s off down another aisle, pulling files reciting a portion of the contents out loud and moving on.

In the bag on the front of his walker are objects that he has found as he has traversed the warehouse over the years. There is a crystal that used to hang from the rearview mirror of a 1993 Ford Escort 5-speed manual Sports Edition. There is a button from a sweater (might have been his sweater). He won’t give up his treasures and he rarely shows them to me.

The warehouse gets larger every year and he can no longer keep up, although he keeps trying. Pulling the files he thinks I need and never quite finding what I’m seeking until hours later – often in the early hours of the morning or when I’m taking a shower. He works best when I am not under pressure because he can’t stand stress. And since the files are not ordered chronologically or alphabetically or according to any known method of _____ (insert word which he won’t tell me at the moment meaning “sortable” and “orderly”), he works best by wandering around and pulling out whatever intrigues him.

The newer items are stacked in baskets near the front door and every once in awhile he goes up and gets a few items, takes them back into the stacks and shoves them into shelves with a logic known only to him.

When I am actively trying to recall the name of the book that so piqued my interest 10 years ago we play charades and I start guessing “sounds like” “starts with” and tossing in movie titles or song lyrics that are somehow in the same file folder on a shelf he has just accessed. If I am lucky it will be the correct folder although I still have to guess the other objects in the folder before he gives me the information I want. I can’t fire him. He works very hard and he knows these stacks better than anyone else. You see, he is my data retrieval system – my random access memory.

Pain

Like many of you,  I  live with physical pain every day. The multiple diagnoses include osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia as the primary causes. Such pain is labeled “chronic” because it is always there, and yet “chronic” doesn’t even begin to describe pain.

Pain has layers. Three basic layers come to mind, although there are many other levels along the spectrum. There is the top acute layer, which screams the loudest and seemingly hurts the most because it gets the most attention. There are the middle layers of nagging ache that are more evident when the top layer has been appeased. And then at the very bottom is a throbbing discomfort that may not even manifest in the brain as “pain” per se and yet it won’t allow the sufferer a comfortable position and insists on intruding into even the deepest repose. Many drugs will address the top layer, some will actually start to work on the middle layers, and none ever seem to address all the layers simultaneously.

A change in the weather brings more pain. And yet, my pain, unlike someone with bone cancer, is not a harbinger of death or worsening disease. Sometimes I hurt so badly I am unable to think and yet I know it will subside at some point. Hopeful that it will not rise again only to be proven wrong. Pain wakes me from sleep and sometimes prevents sleep altogether, and yet sleep is supposed to help relieve pain. In my experience, sleep only provides a brief respite where I escape the confines of my physical self to the place where I can run and even fly.

So I try to remember that feeling when the pain h

as weighed me down… somewhere, somehow, I can fly 🙂

Motherly goats (for David)

There are things that happen when writers start talking… random things that reflect a certain state of mind (or lack thereof)… tied into procrastination and FB and other places that tell of a trail of thoughts winding with the evening breeze through a busy restaurant and past a cup of coffee or two.  And you arrive at “motherly goats” which make you giggle every time.

So much for monthly goals… that Trello board (www.trello.com) will never be the same now that David has re-christened it.  (I hope Mary won’t be too offended since we share that particular board…)

On cats

This week two blog posts from others caught my eye: “Thinking Outside the Cat Box” on February 6th from Susan Wingate (http://susanwingate.wordpress.com/muscle-up-the-gut-of-your-novel-writing-instruction/) and “Ball of Yarn” on February 7th from D Anthony Brown (http://danthonybrown.me/2012/02/07/ball-of-yarn-on-smashwords/).

So what inspired these two writers to use cat-themed posts in the same week?  Perhaps it is the bleakness of winter and the fact that we all spend more time indoors.  We watch our cats do their thing and with the restlessness of cabin fever we pay more attention to their idiosyncrasies.  Their feline quirks then feed our creative process inspiring analogies to the existence of these little Zen masters living in the moment.  A sunbeam calls them to lie down and absorb warmth and light.  A sudden movement grabs their attention and prods them to discover its source.  A can opener, shaken treat jar or other familiar sound tweaks their ears to turn and follow the noise.

And just so, my attention was drawn to posts on cats…

Write your own story

Recently a friend reminded me that we each write our own story every day through the messages we give ourselves. “Thoughts are things” and have a way of becoming the truth of our lives if we let them get out of hand.

Another friend of mine does me the service of showing me how this works – every time she gives herself a negative message I cringe, because it almost invariably comes true. She is better at self-sabotage than most people, so while I love her dearly, I sometimes worry about her, and thank her for the reminder to write the story the way it should be or at least the way I want it to be.

On Duality

Like you, I often feel torn in two directions (sometimes more).

Wanting to be more available to spend time with my mom and wanting to spend more time writing.

Wanting to grow my hair down past my waist like it was in my college days and wanting to chop it short and dye it purple just to shock people.

Wanting to spend more time on my music and wanting to read more novels.

Wanting to look for a new job and wanting to create that new job.

Luckily I never want to spend more time cleaning  (although I sometimes wish I wanted to spend more time cleaning).

Seasoned Greetings…

As I sit down to write this missive, I do as we all tend to do, and think backwards instead of forward. (Although if the quantum physicists are right, it doesn’t matter which way you go on a timeline.) In many ways 2011 was a banner year, and in some ways it was quite ordinary.

We have lost two more of our furry children:

Jezebel in May at the ripe old age of 19 people years and Samson in July just two days after my fiftieth birthday. Samson and I had been together for more than 14 years and the vet estimated that he was at least 2 years old when I adopted him. Jezebel and her sister Delilah (who passed in 2010), kittens born in July 1992, were a housewarming gift from my mom.

Recently I read that the loss of a pet is harder than the loss of a human friend, because we spend more time in the company of our pets than even our closest human friends. From the moment we wake up in the morning they are with us until we leave the house, through the toothbrushing and dressing and breakfasting. Then as soon as we come home again, they are there to share the mail with us, and sit by us as we prepare dinner or work on the computer. We think of our departed friends or family members when the big events that mark our lives happen without them there to share. Pets fill our lives in the small moments that we don’t even think to count and they are always, always there hoping for a tiny bit of our attention. And it is those small moments that feel so empty when we lose them.

After Samson died, Steve was hoping we would not get another dog for awhile. And one fateful night in August when the moon was full, something crossed the road  and then it went back across the road and soon was obviously a dog trotting down the road ahead of us, desperately searching for something. After watching the dog for a little bit, I pulled the car over and got out. And then I couldn’t see it anywhere, so I softly called, “Come here, baby” and a little nose poked from behind the back of the car. I opened the rear passenger door and invited the dog to “Jump in.”

Soon we were back on the road and I called Steve, stopped at my house long enough for Steve to come out with a leash and then I took Mom home. By the time I got back, Steve had determined that the dog was an intact male with a docked tail and while he had an expensive spiked leather collar, there was no identification of any kind – no tags, no phone number written on the inside of the collar, nothing. I called the vet to see if she could squeeze in a visit on Monday and started posting on lost pet sites and sent pictures to local rescue agencies. On Monday, the vet checked for a microchip with no luck and suggested that we foster him for as long as possible because the shelters were all jammed full. So we learned all about belly bands to keep boy doggies from watering inside and waited for the owner we were certain would contact us to get back such a sweet doggy. Two weeks later with not so much as a nibble, we took the plunge and got him neutered and gave him the name Buddy.

For ourselves, we have used the year to try to develop our skills and start moving in the path we have seen laid out for us. My first step outside my comfort zone was to take a class on social networking through my job at Mayo Clinic. So you can now find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress and Twitter. In addition, I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (www.NaNoWriMo.org) with the goal of forcing myself to do what I’ve always wanted to do – write. It worked and I was able to complete the task, ie, write a novel of 50,000 words in one month from November 1 through November 30. I met some great people in the process and really enjoyed myself. Yes, I wrote a lot of crap – it’s one of the things they tell you will happen, because you have to put away the inner editor and just pound out words in order to get it done in a month (while still working a full-time job). I also have some gems that I can use to seed other projects and I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year.

Steve, after much soul searching and thinking, buckled down to put his design in motion and applied for and got a conditional patent on his cat bowl design, so he is hopeful that he will find a company willing to produce and market it. If you know anyone in plastics who could help, please share Steve’s email (pcbcraft@yahoo.com).

As we begin a New Year, we wish you blessings and the drive to accomplish great things.
And if it all ends by this time next year as the doomsayers predict, then may you go out with a bang and no regrets!

and so it begins…

my foray into blogging…. with a trip and a stumble and some muttered epithets…

My hope, my wish, is that I am somehow able to achieve my purpose – to Spread the Light.  To bring a smile. To lighten a load. To brighten a day. To remind myself that we are here to help each other.