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Rated: 18+ · Book · Contest Entry · #2087862
Life with Jody--former Soldier (medically retired), writer (in training), and lots more
This blog tied for 3rd Place in the June 2016 "The Bard's Hall Contest

This is a non-specific blog about me and my life, the things I do, the problems I cause, and the trouble I manage to escape. Topics that may be covered include but are in no way limited to food, animals (especially farm animals), war, the military, photography, North Carolina, medical problems and medical care, religion, writing, and examples of extreme laziness.
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June 23, 2016 at 10:12pm
June 23, 2016 at 10:12pm
Dear Friend,

How are you? I am fine.

Hahaha...kidding. Well, I AM fine, but anyway, this isn't a letter...exactly. lol

Today my visiting friend, Karen, and I went to the Western North Carolina Nature Center. http://www.wncnaturecenter.com/. It was nice and peaceful, save an occasional howl or scream from something wild, but most parents usually kept their kids in check. HAHAHAHA I crack me up!

ANYWAY, it's kind of like a zoo, but with North Carolina animals. There were otters (didn't know they lived in NC, but apparently), mountain lions, coyotes, grey wolves, red wolves, and even possums. (There were others, but you get the point.) In fact, the possum had previously been a pet and thus was tame so we got to pet it. Pretty cool. Just so you know, they aren't that soft. Not super rough, but not like a cat--more like a dog, sort of. Also, who know, possums clean themselves and are actually very clean animals, minus the crap they'll eat. lol

We also learned that red wolves were almost extinct at one point. It's estimated there are less than 100 left in the wild and many of these were released from captive bred wolves in an attempt to reintroduce the red wolf to the wild. The red wolf is smaller than a grey wolf, but larger than a coyote. Interestingly...and inconveniently, they've started cross-breeding with coyotes...not what we'd like to keep them from becoming extinct.

One of my favorite parts was the petting zoo. Not because I got to pet the animals, though that was cool. But because over half of them were on the Livestock Conservancy's list for being at risk for extinction. (Fyi, as you might guess, the "Livestock Conservancy" is trying to conserve livestock, so we're talking endangered breeds of goats, sheep, etc.) For examples of breeds of livestock at risk for extinction, check out http://www.LivestockConservancy.org.

This evening we went on a haunted trolley tour of the city. It was really interesting to hear all the stories of haunted places and they things that ghost hunters have found. One place was an old insane asylum (mental hospital, but insane asylum sounds scarier) that burned down when Willie Mae, a former patient, set a 3rd fire that year. Apparently, when patients started doing better, they could actually be discharged and start working there instead. It seems Willie Mae wasn't doing as well as everyone thought. Nine women died in that fire, including the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda. Our tour guide said when EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) were recorded there, all they got were screams. The coroner's report said some of the women had been strapped down at the time of the fire and some had screamed so hard they "broke their vocal cords." Sad.

Here's a link that briefly discusses the fire and also shows a picture of a yellow house. The house (currently used for administrative purposes) is for sale. It started at $1.3 million but is now listed for under $700k because it's also haunted. People's desks will have everything shoved off of them and the files will be thrown out of the file drawers in one of the rooms. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/asheville/hig.htm Beautiful building. Anyone looking for a steal? *Wink*

Tomorrow we'd decided to ride in a hot air balloon. Why? As someone scared of heights, I HAVE NO IDEA! Did I mention I'm doing this blog because of peer pressure? Well it's worse in real life. lol Anyway, THANKFULLY, it's too windy tomorrow and I've been saved! Whew! Oh, but the lady who texted to cancel said to let her know when we'd like to reschedule. DOH! (Cue funeral dirge...)

TTFN...or should I say, it was nice knowing you... *Wink*
June 22, 2016 at 6:12pm
June 22, 2016 at 6:12pm
TOTALLY forgot yesterday, as a part of my "Newbie Merit Badge Project to earn a Virgo merit badge, I'm supposed to write about Virgo personality traits and behaviors in my blog. Conveniently for me, my best friend in the world (and since I was 2) is a Virgo, so lets compare, shall we?

First off, I found that which traits you find for a Virgo depends on which site you look at. So, I found a site with a long list, giving (in my opinion) the best chance for a complete/accurate list. Sort of like the more bullets you shoot, the more likely you are to hit the target. *Smile*

I got my list from this site: http://www.compatible-astrology.com/virgo-traits.html

We'll use black and maroon (okay, they're red) checks to mark. Black is for my BFF (note the B's for memory). Maroon (red) is for Me (not the M's). I'm feeling fauxly scientific, how about you?

The date range is August 23 - September 22 and her birthday is September 12, so she's not "on the cusp" which could allegedly alter the results. Fyi, I'm an Aquarius, but semi-on the cusp with Pisces as my birthday is February 17.

Intelligent *Check* *CheckR*
Analytical *Check*
Introvert *Check*
Sensible *Check*
Practical *Check* *CheckR*
Realistic *Check*
Loyal *Check* *CheckR*
Responsible *Check*
Down to earth *Check* *CheckR*
Cautious *Check* *CheckR*
Patient *Check* *CheckR*
Self disciplined *Check*
Dependable *Check*
Flexible *Check* *CheckR*
Adaptable *CheckR*
Curious *Check* *CheckR*

Over analyzing things *CheckR*
Uncreative / unimaginative
Skeptical *Check* *CheckR*
Inflexible (How is it that she's supposed to be both flexible and inflexible?)
Narrow minded
Can seem cold (aloof or unemotional)
Can seem indecisive (due to heavy analysis) *CheckR*
Self indulging *CheckR*
Tendency to procrastinate (because they always set the bar so high for themselves) *CheckR*
Flighty *CheckR* (Not sure how you can be flightly AND dependable, but whatever.)
Restless *CheckR*
Pessimistic (tend to dwell on errors and imperfections) *CheckR* (My own errors and imperfections.)
Nosy *CheckR*

If I counted right...
Positive Trait Totals: *Check* (my BFF) 15/20 *CheckR* (me) 9/20
Negative Trait Totals: *Check* 1/18 *CheckR* 9/18

Hmmm...not sure I like how those negatives added up...in my defense, I'm a very different person since deployment and not necessarily all in good ways. For example, I used to be much more dependable and less flighty before Iraq.

So, still not sure I believe this stuff works. Perhaps I just see only the good in my BFF. (Finding 15 positives and only 1 negative could support that hypothesis. lol) Perhaps we'll have the opportunity to do this with another zodiac sign. I'm trying to earn all 12 badges. *Smile* In any event, I'm glad I picked a long list. One list I looked at had almost no traits of hers. Much like in reality, I know how to make bullets hit targets. lol (In the Army, I pretty much always shoot expert on the first try. Fyi, and I'm a girl! *Wink* )

"Buying badges"--That's what I call it when you can donate a certain amount of gift points and you receive a badge automatically. In theory, I think this is wrong. In fact, the first time I saw this, I swore I would never do that. However, over time (3 weeks lol), I've found that in reality I'm not as against "buying badges" as I am in theory. Weird how that works when you get badge-greedy. Hahaha So, I just asked if I could get 7 badges for a donation of 400k GPs. BAD JODY! If I had a rolled up newspaper right now... In my defense, I'm legitimately working on a badge right now--note the top of this post. *Bigsmile*

I wrote most of this post yesterday because I had a busy day today culminating in a friend coming this evening to visit for several days. I thought I'd get a jump on the post. *Smile* Well, I'm glad I did because today was a bad day. Not that things happened like I got a ticket for jay walking (I know folks who've had that happen) and the dryer shrunk my favorite sweater, but my minor traumatic brain injury and my post traumatic stress disorder were a real problem.

I ended up having a panic attack in my VA arts and crafts group because I couldn't understand how to sew together my journal we were making from scratch. It was a simple task, but sometimes simple isn't simple for me anymore. I was already upset when the lady helping told me to calm down. Oh. Gee. There's an idea I didn't think of. Then because I couldn't calm down when she told me to, I got more wound up and things got even worse.

In her defense, she didn't say it mean or mean anything bad by it. But something I was told a long time ago, when someone is upset, don't tel them to calm down. It only makes things worse. Turns out they're right.

Now I'm exhausted and just want to sleep (things dragged out and I ended up getting upset several more times after that because once I slip, it's nothing to slide down farther). But my friend is coming, so I have to be okay. We'll see how this goes... On the good side, she's a real sweetheart. I'm glad she's my friend!
June 21, 2016 at 9:09pm
June 21, 2016 at 9:09pm
Howdy! Me again. *Smile*

I wonder if after 10 days of writing, this blog will become a habit... (Yes, I know I'm supposed to write out the word 10, but I don't want to. Everybody sing *Music1* "It's my blog and I'll do what I want to, do what I want to..."*Music2* lol) Though honestly, I don't know why I entered. Well, I do--boredom and peer pressure. lol But still. There are quite a few entrants now, greatly reducing my chances... So, I just checked out the competition...okay, one look each and to be honest, I didn't even read them all, but in some cases I feel better and in others, I'm more worried. lol If the competition reads mine, I'm sure some will feel one way and some will feel the other as well. Hahaha

Well, my genius strikes again! First, we can now alphabetize our Favorites links for convenience if that helps anyone. (Helps me and at least one other person. lol) Now, me, Sally , and some other folks are batting around my idea of a "Contests Ending Soon" page or calendar or something. I think that would be handy for those bored moments when I want to write something NOW but don't have a specific plan. *Smile*

DOH! LOOK AT THE TIME! (7:22 pm) Off to my cult meeting...

Okay, I'm back. Yes, I said cult and I think it's about time I withdraw. Let me back up briefly. Many years ago a friend told me about a cult she'd been in while living in the Carolinas. She told me how she'd accidentally ruined a man's life and afterward decided to get out.

Fast forward to about a month ago and I met this guy in my apartment complex and he invited me to his place for a Bible study he does with his wife. Not having anything better to do and hoping to make friends while learning more about God, I agreed to attend. While there, I noticed everything seemed to be stamped with the name of what I thought my friend called her cult. They even had a big poster in the living room.

Afterward, I called and asked her and she said it was indeed the same group. She said that they meant well and were generally good people, but not to attend more than 1 thing a week with them and definitely not to attend church services.

Well, today may be my last visit with the cult. I missed last week's Bible study, but since the week before they've instituted speaking in tongues (and interpreting their own speech--most denominations I know say to have another person interpret) and taking up a collection. A collection?!? Really?!? I've been to a LOT of Bible studies in my time and have never experienced that unless we got a meal...and usually not even then. Meh, the Bible study always made me uncomfortable anyway...nothing I can put my finger on, but whatever. Now, how to bow out gracefully...

Alrighty, that's enough for now. I hate to wear out any readers before next time. *Wink* TTFN (Ta-ta for now)
June 20, 2016 at 7:32pm
June 20, 2016 at 7:32pm
Today was a big day--at least it was for me. Then again, "big day" has very different means depending on if you're looking at my pre-Iraq life or my post-Iraq life.

Anyhoo, I went with a group from the VA to visit the studio of artist Jonas Gerard http://www.jonasgerard.com/. Decades ago he painted things that your average person would actually consider "art"...landscapes, portraits, etc. Now he paints modern art. You know, the splatter, looks like a 5-year-old did it kind of modern art. My favorite thing about his studio was that we could actually touch the art, mostly acrylics. However, when he talked about how he made his art, he said he didn't know what it would look like before he got started. He just turned on some music (really loudly) and "let the paint brush talk." Funny, though, that he said there's no "wrong" brush stroke. To me, art is art because it was done in a certain way, even if that way is planned splatters of certain colors. He also said some of the paintings he had hanging in the gallery were "ugly." Yet, they weren't priced as such. A one foot squared painting was over $500 and several larger ones were over $10,000. Most of his paintings were over $1000. The smallest ones, just three or four inches square, were still over $300. To me, the only thing that makes it all okay is that I saw in albums that he has a talent for painting more realistically so maybe that talent translates somehow. However, if you have no plan, there's no wrong brush stroke, and some of them are ugly, what makes them art instead of play or junk? I will say some were very beautiful, though. Others, not so much.

On the other hand, it was very kind of him to allow a group of wounded warriors to come visit his studio and watch him work. He did a question/answer session afterward and even had a canvas and let us each paint on it some, then let us take it back to hang at the VA. Fyi, I think it's pretty ugly. You know the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the soup"? Well the same goes for paintings. lol

So, the whole event was interesting, but also pretty stressful for me. After Iraq, I get overstimulated pretty easily. Most of my clothes aren't even bright colors anymore. lol In his studio, between the bright colors, blaring Hispanic music, and his forceful demeanor, it was a bit much. I spent almost half the time there pacing in the back. But I made it through. It's good for me...even if there were a few tears. Exposure therapy! *Smile*

I've also had a pretty productive day on WDC. I did a Welsh poem "Welsh, several reviews of British-esque writings, and wrote a quiz on the United Kingdom "A Very British Quiz. Basically, I completed my "A Very British Challenge!" YAY ME! I would say this calls for a celebration, but as a pre-diabetic, there's really nothing in the apartment to celebrate with. I ate it all--probably how I got to be pre-diabetic to begin with. lol

And I won't keep you in suspense any longer. For those none of you are waiting with bated breath, no spider sightings of the runaway from yesterday. I prefer to know they are in their web, but much like "no news is good news," no spider is good spider. TTFN! (Ta-ta for now!)
June 19, 2016 at 10:48pm
June 19, 2016 at 10:48pm
Okay, blog 1! So, Shsssh, It's Just Me! sent out a call for bloggers to join "The Bard's Hall Contest and I'm a sucker for peer pressure, so here I am. *Smile*

First, a little about me, though probably the only folks who will be reading this will be The Bard's Hall Contest judges (and maybe a competitor). Alas, if words were only meaningful if they were read by others, half of what's written wouldn't stand. Thankfully, words are a comfort, a security blanket, a friend, and so I write, along with millions of others tonight, putting words to paper, or computer screens, as the case may be, only for our own enjoyment. But if we can't enjoy our own words, what good are they?

Enough philosophy? So, I'm a Soldier medically retiring because of injuries (mostly mental) from Iraq. I love God and my country and I'm pretty fond of chocolate too. Alas, I was recently told I'm pre-diabetic, which came as no surprise to my friends since I'm so sweet. lol

I moved to North Carolina (that's in America, on the off-chance a foreigner ever reads this) with plans to start a farm, but that got thrown out the window thanks to someone else (perhaps meat for a future blog), and I spent my first few weeks here depressed about losing my career, losing my love (the Army), and losing my sense of pride and purpose.

However, I'd had 5-6 people in the few weeks prior suggest I get back into writing since I used to enjoy it. I finally decided, one too many people had suggested it. Perhaps it was a sign. I began my search for a simple repository for my writing. Perhaps if I'd googled "writing repository," I would have found something different, but I couldn't find a place to simply store my writing. All I kept finding were these stupid writing communities. Who cares? I just wanted to mope and write and ignore the world. Alas, twas not to be.

I found writing.com and suddenly my world changed! I had purpose, entertainment, motivation, and whatever other good words you care to fill in. By no means am I saying that all my problems have been solved, but simply that thanks to WDC, they aren't the only thing in my life and through the lens of my computer screen, they're a little more in focus.

Okay, that last sentence doesn't make sense, but it's sort of poetic and for me, poetry often doesn't make sense, so I'm just going to pretend that sentence was a beautiful poem that makes sense to other people. lol

Well, I'm a talker, so I'd better wrap this up. Besides, I have a crisis on my hands! I'm taking a photography class (not the crisis) and was going to practice taking pictures of the spider in its web in the bathroom and the camera-shy arachnid has up and vanished! WARNING! WARNING WILL ROBINSON! (You young folks won't get the Lost In Space reference, but believe me, this spider is every bit as terrifying as those fake monsters on the old 1970's show!) I must go and prepare for battle...or retreat...whichever...

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