Friday, May 25, 2018

Getting Out Alive

When I was eighteen and could walk miles without really thinking about it, I never ever considered the day might come when it would take a major effort to walk down a partial flight of stairs. Oh, how the mighty are brought down.

A few weeks ago, the hunk went to the doctor for a stomach infection and ended up going for a bunch of tests because his EKG wasn't normal. This week, both of us went to see the doc for our six-month check-up. The hunk was sent to a cardiologist because he has significant blockage in a couple arteries.

Then the doc concentrated on me. My EKG was not normal. The doc shook his head several times and repeated that. "This EKG is not normal." Yeah, I got it. So in the near future, I'll be off to have a CT cardiology angiogram. Whatever that is.

I put out a feeler about getting rid of some of my meds because of the brain fuzzies I have. After some discussion, he added a brain MRI to my ongoing to-do list for the near future. Yeah...maybe a little mini-stroke or some such in there.

I asked him to look at a spot on my toe. Uh-huh. After more discussion, we added a trip to the skin doctor as little black spots on the toe are unusual enough to warrant more in depth study. And since I was going, why not have the doc check out a couple other spots?

By the way, it's time for my annual mammo which it so happens can be scheduled the same day as the MRI. See how convenient that is?

And wasn't it fortunate that I fasted before my appointment so the daytime vampires can take a hefty blood donation? Also...here's a cup. Please pee in it for us.

Stomach issues are lurking in the hinterlands...colonoscopy, endoscopy, whatever else they dream up. How about that liver? Is it still ticking along? Don't forget the bone density test that's overdue. On the up side, I lost another 1.6 pounds. That's something good, right?

So...I anticipate a busy week or two, what with one thing and another. They say getting old is not for sissies and that's the total truth. Of course, it's better than the alternative. Every single day.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

The OTHER Day

Yep, it's that time again. Mother's Day...or as I like to call it, Other's Day. It's not a Hallmark Card moment, you know. For most of the women in this country, it's another day that just emphasizes how very unimportant we are.

I'm not mad at my kids. I'm not mad at the Hunk. I want to speak a truth most folks don't want to speak. Many, many years ago our family was in counseling. We'd been in counseling for quite some time. One afternoon, our counselor turned to me and said, "You don't seem very happy. What's on your mind?"

And for once, I told the unvarnished truth. "I feel like if I walked out the door today, none of my family would miss me until they ran out of food or clean clothes."

The counselor turned to my husband and children and asked, "What do you have to say about that?"

And they all agreed it was true.

That was a turning point for me. That was the day I finally realized other people--no, not even your husband or children--will not value you, if you don't value yourself. If you sit back and allow them to walk all over you, treat you like a rug (a tattered, filthy rug), then that's what you'll get. People like to say you have to earn respect, but my friends, you can't earn it by groveling.

I cannot tell you how many posts I've read on social media where women are moaning about not receiving cards or flowers or blah, blah, blah for Mother's Day. Their kids don't call. They don't write. Oh, woe is me.

I don't remember the last time I received a Mother's Day card. Sometimes they call. Sometimes they send me a nice posting on Facebook. And that's all okay. BECAUSE it's an artificial holiday. What I need from them isn't some big deal on one day a year. I want them to send me a quirky card for just because. I want them to call me because they want to talk to me. I want them to send me pictures or pages my grandkids have colored for me.

One day does not a relationship make. It's what happens on all the Other Days in our lives that counts.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Talitha Cumi

The first Talitha Cumi in our family married Andrew Martin in Arkansas in the early 1800s. Andrew and she had seven children before he died at the close of the Civil War from pneumonia. One of their daughters was also named Talitha.

Since then, in every generation, there has been a Talitha. My daughter and granddaughter are both named Talitha. My cousin is named Talitha, though she uses her first name. And my cousin's mother was named Talitha Cumi, just like her ancestor, though she mostly used Tye for her name.

This morning, very early, Aunt Tye died at age 92. She had a long, productive life. It wasn't easy, but like all good women, she persevered and kept on keeping on. In my family (both sides) the folks are long-lived. That's a blessing, mostly. But that extra long life means you have so many more memories and so much more to miss when they are gone.

So blessings and memories abound on this day when we all say goodbye. We loved you well, Aunt Tye.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Birth of Ideas

Adjusting to the vampire life can be difficult. Are you one of the new undead? You say your sire doesn't have time to teach you everything you need to know? Enroll in the Vampire Bootcamp course at the Others Lifeskills Institute. Our vampire instructor, Julian Taglio will teach you the important facets of the vampire lifestyle. Our new semester begins soon. Register at www.otherslifeskills.com

One of the questions writers receive more than any other is, "Where do you get your ideas?"

The idea for Alpheli Solution came from one of my occupations in a past life. I taught a course titled Computer Bootcamp for adults moving into the brave new world of computers in their workplaces. It was back when 3 1/2 inch floppy discs were brand new. And I had to explain the care and feeding of a mouse--one of those with a little ball inside.

One afternoon while sitting here in my office, I thought what if there was a bootcamp class for new vampires? What would they learn in the class? And...well, you can see how there would be a lot of directions you could go from there. Danamara, the new vampire in Alpheli Solution has all sorts of problems after her sire turns her, then abandons her in an empty parking lot. Miraculously, she survives the initial turning. And now she has questions. Lots and lots of questions.

That's how it works. You take a mundane idea and ask the question, what if? All of my books have been 'what if' books.

What if a hiker ends up in a valley with no way to get out? What if the inhabitants of the valley are all blue? Mystic Valley series.

What if King Arthur didn't really die? What if Merlin and the queen kidnapped him and returned him to the planet Avalon? What if...the story wasn't quite like we think it was? Flowers of Camelot series.

What if the Tuatha de Danann legends were real? What if an archeologist found the Lia Fail (stone that speaks)? What if Danaii wants her treasures back? Tuatha Treasures series.

The question isn't where the ideas come from. It's what happens after that? 

Sunday, April 29, 2018

BICHOK

When I was a newbie writer, BICHOK was a favored recommendation. For those who don't know, it stands for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. It implies that simply staying there will somehow produce work. And it's wrong.

Writing isn't something you do because it's there. Especially, when you're just totally blank. I'm not talking about inspiration here. I'm talking about getting your brain in gear. And sitting won't do that. Staring at the computer screen opens you up to spending time on the mindlessness of social media. If you're not ready to write, if your brain is not engaged, then get up and find something else to do. Goodness knows, there's a limitless number of chores most of us have waiting.

Go do them. Vacuum, mop, clean the toilet, do the laundry, make dinner. Bake bread, go for a walk, pay the bills. Clean the closets. Purge your files. I guarantee by the time you do a few chores, you'll be more than ready to BICHOK. Drink a couple glasses of water. Clear your desk so there are no distractions. And finally, set a timer for thirty minutes (after the two glasses of water you may not need the timer, but it's better safe than sorry!)

Then sit down at the computer. Jot down some notes about what you want to accomplish. And begin. If you've accomplished nothing in that first thirty minutes, get up and go back to the chores. After a while, you'll have a clean house, clean clothes, a cooked dinner, and who knows? You might even have a chapter or two. For sure, you won't feel guilty about all that other stuff waiting for you.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Cabin Fever

Rain, cold, rain, snow, rain... After a while, you wonder if you're doomed to never see the sun. Well, the sun is shining today. Naturally, we have a slew of errands to take care of, starting with dental hygienist visits. Yuck. Then, there's grocery shopping. And possibly a haircut. We'll round out the day with weigh-in at Weight Watchers and dinner.

The interesting thing is I don't necessarily want to go OUTSIDE. I just like to see the sun through the window. Going outside requires getting dressed. Taking a shower. Brushing the teeth. Putting on the outside, walking around glasses so I can see where I'm going.

I'd rather stay inside where I'm comfy. Where I can wear my sports bra and shorts and slippers. Where I can read or write without feeling like I'm rude.

Cabin fever? What cabin fever?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Opinions

“People can tell you to keep your mouth shut, but that doesn't stop you from having your own opinion.”
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl 
 
Social media is all about having an opinion. People post zillions of opinions everyday, mostly with no facts to back them up. That's the beauty of the internet. If you don't have your own opinion, you can always borrow someone else's.
 
Opinions now days are pretty interchangeable with beliefs. I think if we called them beliefs, fewer people would state their opinions because there's something about that word 'belief'. It implies a greater commitment than the word 'opinion'. Reality is most opinions are rock solid beliefs. And beliefs are much harder to change than a wimpy little opinion.
 
Maybe...maybe we should try a time-out for opinions and only have beliefs. I wonder how that would work out? 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Waiting

The hunk and I have a slew of appointments this week and next. Each one pretty much wipes out the day--not because the actual appointment takes so long--but because of all the OTHER stuff. You know. Get up. Take meds. Eat breakfast. Shower, times 2, dress, collect all the paperwork, then drive to the appointment. Depending on the time of day, etc., this can take a while.

Wait in the waiting room. Wait in the examination room. Ah-hah! The doctor arrives. Ten minutes later you walk out with another sheaf of papers. Drive back home. Collapse from exhaustion.

I don't know why the entire process is so tiring. But it is.

We try to fit in a side trip or two. For instance, after today's appointment, we'll do a quick pass through BJ's...if such a thing is possible. And of course, that will mean hauling groceries into the apartment and putting them away.

Every time I see one of those programs about online doctor appointments, I wonder how that would work. Would we still wait, except at home?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Lessons

Back in the day when I first married and anticipated the joys of parenthood, my thoughts were all about the things I would teach my children. Kindness, love, fairness...you know, 'parent' things. I didn't even consider what I might learn from them.

The number one, absolute top lesson I learned is child logic is completely different from adult logic. The hunk and I were once awakened early on a Saturday morning by frantic knocks on our bedroom door. Sleepy inquiries elicited the information that there was a fire in the boys bedroom. The hunk leaped out of bed, starkers, and rushed to their room. Sigh.

The mattress was smouldering. Next to the bed, a merry little blaze was gaining ground...a campfire. Sticks. One of the firestarters I'd made for camping from paper egg cartons and wax. And a wide swath of newspaper.

The hunk carted the mattress outside, dumping it on the patio, while I smothered the fire with some baking soda. Once the fire was out, we cleaned up the mess. Score? A burnt mattress, scorched carpet, and two scared kids. In the 'discussion' that followed, one bit of logic came out that still stuns me to this day. WHY were there newspapers spread under their campfire?

To keep the carpet from getting dirty.

Number two--they have no comprehension of greater consequences. When our children were young, super human television stories were popular. Bionic Man. Wonder Woman. Our son leaped from the roof (how he got up there is a different story), because? He was the Bionic Man, of course. Naturally.

Another time, after taking the kids to the circus, we found the boys standing on their dresser, holding on to a piece of twine they had tied to the overhead lamp (another story for later). They were prepared to practice trapeze moves. Yes, I know. Twine does not equal a sturdy rope, but there's that consequences issue I mentioned.

And then there's the time our daughter walked out into the street in front of a car. Fortunately, the driver wasn't going fast and stopped in time. When she (rightly) yelled at our daughter, she and I were both dumbfounded by her little girl logic. Yep. You guessed it--she was Wonder Woman so the car couldn't possibly hurt her.

Number three...children have no filter when it comes to talking about their home life with outsiders. Sometimes, this is an excellent thing especially if they are in an abusive situation. Other times, well, let's just say it can make things iffy if someone decides to call in the authorities.

Take the time someone gave us a couch. We stashed the old one out in the garage until we could arrange to borrow a truck to take it to the dump. During this same time period, the two boys were going through a very normal stage where they didn't want to share a bedroom. Our older son decided he would sleep on the couch in the garage. No problem. We left the house door to the garage unlocked, and I figured the new arrangement wouldn't last long.

That wasn't exactly the way it went. He went to school and excitedly shared the new arrangement with his fourth grade class and teacher. Only what he told them was he now slept in the garage. Period. A very nice CPS lady came out to check out the situation. After an exhaustive discussion over coffee and cookies and a good laugh, she went off to file her report, clearing us of any wrongdoing. And a couple weeks later without comment, he decided he'd rather sleep in the bedroom with his brother.

My children are all grown now, some with children of their own. I freely admit I have a private laugh when they call me, ready to pull out their hair over something their children have done. They do say what goes around, comes around.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book of the Day

 Recently, on my Facebook page I've started a Book of the Day post. It's not long. Book of the Day. Title. Author. And, just to be clear, these are not books I've written. They're books from my library.

It used to be book recommendations were passed along by discussing books over coffee or at a party or heck, even in line at the grocery store. That doesn't happen much, anymore. Some people check out on-line book groups. I don't. Many are genre specific and others are...unfriendly. I tend to talk about books I've read on a face-to-face basis, even if that is on social media.

So. Each day I'll post a title and author from my own library. Perhaps a reader will reminisce about the enjoyment they received from reading it. Maybe someone will discover a new-to-them author. Why some folks might even step out of their comfort zones and try new genres. I hope so.

This is my way of spreading the wealth. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Grandmother

When I was ten my mother died in a car accident. My family was literally in the process of moving from Arizona to Indiana when the accident happened so on top of losing my mother, I also lost home, friends, and all that was familiar to me. When we settled in Indiana, my grandmother lived with us as a surrogate parent/caregiver. I didn't know her as we had lived too far away to visit very often.

My grandmother taught second grade for many, many years--long enough that the grandparents of her current students frequently showed up to remind her she had also been their teacher. My mother was the quintessential stay home mom so I was unfamiliar with a female role model who went to work every day. We had the summer to get to know each other and then in the fall, it all changed.

Dad was home in the afternoons, still grieving and mostly hibernating, while Grandmother went off to work each day. I vaguely remember that my brothers did not adjust well at all that year to all the changes. I was too busy dealing with my own problems. Fortunately, I discovered the bookmobile and books became my salvation.

But, I did learn important lessons in that year after my mother died. I learned to be independent. My mother was a model mother, cooking, cleaning, doing everything and expecting nothing from us kids. It was pretty normal child-rearing for the 50s. The thing was--we didn't know how to do anything. We never learned.

On the day my mother died, my father was caught up in trying to find a place to unload our possessions so he could use our pickup truck to drive back to Arizona for my mother's funeral. I vividly remember him handing me a can opener, a can of tuna, and a loaf of bread and telling me to feed my brothers (who were all younger than me). I had no idea how to use a can opener. I had no idea what to do with the tuna. I had no basic survival skills.

Well, that summer I learned. My grandmother was not one to do all the work while idle hands were available. Her teaching method was basically, learn by doing. And there was a lot to learn. It had never occurred to me to wonder how food arrived at the table. Oh, I knew my mother did 'stuff' out in the kitchen and then 'poof', food was ready. My grandmother involved me--willy-nilly--in the whole messy process.

I learned how to wash dishes. I took out the trash. I made my bed. And helped with the laundry. All normal things to learn at my age, but let me tell you, I wasn't impressed. I wanted to go back to the old model where I played or daydreamed or read all day and I wasn't happy when I realized that life was over. Grandmother was firm about her expectations. Everyone works. Everyone. Even my little brothers learned to pick up after themselves.

The other thing I learned was personal responsibility for my behavior. I remember pounding into the house, all hot and bothered about something a friend did, just bursting to share my story. Grandmother listened. Then she told me to sit at the table and she pointed out several problems with my story. She showed me the event wasn't one sided. And when I wanted to argue, she shut it down. "If you can't say something good about your friend, then keep it to yourself. That way you won't have to apologize later for hard words you wish you hadn't said."

Unbeknownst, that was a lesson I was already dealing with. The day before my mother died, I was angry with her and shouted out, "I wish you were dead!" Months later, Grandmother's words reinforced the painful lesson.

Grandmother is long gone now. All my grandparents are gone. They were a powerful influence in my life. And I'm so thankful I was privileged to know them.  

Friday, April 6, 2018

How'd you like it?

One thing I have learned in the last eleven years...never ask a reader how they liked my books. They might tell me--and if they were 'meh' or worse--I don't want to know. I suppose I should clarify here. If I'm asking an editor/beta reader for their opinion, it's an effort on my part to improve my writing. I do want to hear what they have to say. I am actively soliciting their opinion.

But once the book is published, I won't ask for a review. I gratefully accept all reviews. But asking (for me) borders too close to expecting a positive outcome. Several years ago, when I first started my blog, I did Friday reviews of my fellow newbie authors' books. I saw the reviews as a way I could help out other new authors.

A very wise friend pointed out a huge pitfall in my Friday reviews. What would happen when I read a book I didn't care for? Then what was I going to write? After all, there's a big difference between a friend reviewing a book--and a professional reviewer. For one thing, that reviewer doesn't know the author. A friend? Well, that's different.

It's the same in reverse. What will they say if they don't like the book? New writers, in particular, have very fragile egos. A bad review can be devastating. A good review might be a lie.

I confess I love a good review. I'm enough of a perfectionist that I agonize over a four-star review, wondering what I could have changed to elicit a five-star review. And the truth is it's all subjective at best. It so often depends on how the reader feels that day, what their past is, what the weather is like...

I once received a one-star review because the book was too short. It was a book advertised as a 'quickie'. Another time I received a one-star review from a woman who totally trashed my book, then concluded by saying she had cramps and couldn't sleep so she was looking for something light to read.

There's only one way to deal with a bad review. Read it carefully to see if you can learn any thing from it. And then, walk away. Some bad reviews are simply irrational. There's nothing you can do about them.

And for the rest? Enjoy the good ones. Ignore the bad ones. And move on.