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My thoughts about things.
A place to put my thoughts about various stuff.
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February 8, 2023 at 10:51pm
February 8, 2023 at 10:51pm
A song comes to mind. It's a favorite of mine.

Fair warning, I am about to link to a Jimmy Buffett song.

Whether you like his music or not (it seems to be polarizing - love it or hate it), it's the lyrics that fit this time of the year for me.

Or, here are the lyrics, if you care to read them instead of listening to the song.

Lyrics to the song Boat Drinks by Jimmy Buffett

I actually love winter, but by this time of the year, even I am craving the beginnings of Spring. The trees are too bare, the grass is too sparse and brown. And most of all - we are ALL driving each other NUTS! *Smile* I tend to be the diplomat in the house (until I can't take it anymore), so I've been averting skirmishes, fistfights, brawls and outright war for long enough. Mother Nature, could you please kick Phil in his cute little groundhog behind and get this season going?!

Yes, yes, I know. The trees and grass are still sleeping. Enjoying that last bit of slumber before they awaken and bring forth the madness that is allergy season. And bees. And mowing. And pollen covered vehicles.


Ok, fine. We'll ride the rollercoaster that is this time of the year. Highs of 50s one day, 20s the next. Sunny with the windows open, then close them tight for another round of snow. March 21st is coming, it's just around the corner from St. Patty's day. But, first...

We must pay homage to the bare-butted cherubs that take pleasure in shooting people in the arse with their heart-tipped arrows. Sneaky little buggers. One of them got me nigh on 26 years ago now. I am ever grateful to that little scamp.

So, to keep myself busy, I shall bake. Bake cupcakes, I say! *CupcakeP* *CupcakeV* Chocolate and yellow with pink and red frosting and sprinkles!! So many sprinkles. These shall be gobbled up by myself, the love of my life, and our two wonderful angels (that use their powers for good the vast majority of the time). Another round of chili, and soup, and all of the comforts we so enjoy on these cold days... because they will come to an end, soon.

This time of the year when it feels like Christmas is just at the far end of my peripheral vision and the 4th of July is getting ever closer. When I take the car through the carwash but know that the days are coming when I can eschew that cost and have the fun of washing it in the driveway (or have fun watching the kids wash it in the driveway *Wink*). I can put away the sweatshirts and get out the shorts!

We are getting there, folks. Slowly, but surely.

Until then, I'll try not to shoot six holes in my freezer.

January 20, 2023 at 10:35am
January 20, 2023 at 10:35am
I woke up this morning and found myself pondering chaos.

It felt like my life was filled with it. Laying there, trying to get back to sleep or at least relax for another hour or so, my body rested somewhat while my mind refused to settle down. I tried a few mental exercises to try and convince my brain that it should agree with me about the relaxing part, but it just wouldn't have it.

So, I went with it. Sometimes it's not worth the energy spent to go against the grain than just ride with it.

Everything I thought about seemed chaotic. From the small details of my life to the ones of the world at large. I felt like everything was whirling around and as soon as I tried to concentrate on one piece, it spun off and something else came into view. It was frustrating, disorienting and well, annoying to be honest.

I like to make order out of chaos. It's something I tend to be good at and enjoy.

Now, I'm not talking about being OCD or something like that. In fact, taking a glance at my life, it would be easy to see that I am not that.

No, what I'm talking about is more fluid. I actually pride myself on being flexible (well, mentally at least! *Laugh* ). Normally, I don't mind chaos, in fact, a lot of the time, I thrive on it. Give me a load of laundry to put in order. A basin full of dirty dishes to clean. An evening where everyone has tasks and responsibilities to complete before we can all settle down together. A classroom full of rambunctious kids that have anything but learning on their minds.

All of those things give me the opportunity to wade in and start organizing, and I don't just force things.

I like to find the flow that works best for everyone (if possible). Laundry doesn't have to be folded the same every time. Dishes can soak so they are easier to get clean. I get everyone settled (or driven to) where they need to be so they can complete their stuff and then make sure we are all back together, tasks done and have some time to enjoy whatever part of the evening that we can before bed. Students respond to individual attention, but also the ability to work in (productive) groups. They also appreciate a little bit of time to just talk and not have it be all work all the time - I mean who doesn't?

It's all a balance, like a beautiful never ending unrehearsed dance where the beat will always be shifting to whatever meets the needs of the moment. And usually, I love it. Love being immersed in it. But most recently, there have been a few occurrences right on top of one another that have worn me down, worn me out. And I'm tired.

So, how do I handle that then? In the past, I would have just added more and more stress and tried harder. That most definitely does NOT work anymore. Not that it ever really did, right? Yeah.

The reality is that... order is chaotic, and chaos is in itself a kind of order.

The events that have happened recently that seem to have knocked me off my so-called balance aren't anything out of the ordinary. They are what I would term 'big' events that just have happened to coincide together. Some good, some bad. The events won't change. It's me that has to adjust. Oh, boy. Yeah, there's the underlying reality that I want to slap away and give dirty looks. The woman that claims to be flexible is now growling at the fact that she has to be... flexible. Ha, ha. Very funny, life. You got me.

I have to quote something from a Marvel movie now. (Granted, I love those movies, but I don't put stock in that it was in a Marvel movie. I just take words for what they are regardless of where I find them, which is why I really loved this line.) In "Avengers, Age of Ultron", at the end, part of what Vision says is this, "Humans are odd. They think order and chaos are somehow opposites and... try to control what won't be."

For many of us, me included, order is what feels right. It comforts us and makes us feel more secure. Thinking that we can organize and create order where there initially doesn't seem to be any, makes us feel in control of what's happening... when in reality, control like that simply does not exist. Somewhere along the way, I have forgotten that part. I've become more complacent with thinking that by influencing certain situations, I am actually orchestrating them.

I'm not. I know that. I've known that all along. I just needed to remember it and accept it again. A little easier said than done, but I've got this.

Like a bird rides the wind and dolphins ride the waves, I can be fluid and adjust course as needed. I can't see what's coming, but I can choose how to deal with it once it's here. And recognition of that reality, reminding myself of it, is what will help me regain my ever-shifting place of 'balance'.
January 13, 2023 at 9:14pm
January 13, 2023 at 9:14pm
Today is Friday the 13th. It's also a member of my family's birthday.

It's something they have been teased about since they were young. They take it in stride and this birthday that comes by every so many years passes for them again, until the next time.

I have another member of my family that, for the most part, absolutely believes in superstitions. Yes, Friday the 13th, plus breaking mirrors, black cats crossing your path (or in general), don't walk under ladders (this is just practical advice, in my opinion), don't open umbrellas indoors, don't rock empty rocking chairs, if you spill salt throw it over your left shoulder using your right hand (or is it the other way around?) .... The list could go on and on, but I digress.

I'm not firmly in the disbelieving or the believing category. I tend to take things as they come. Do I knock on wood after saying something that could incur bad luck? Yeah, sometimes. Have I owned a black cat? Absolutely. He was one of the best damn cats I've ever had and sweet as could be. I miss him every day. Do I try not to step on cracks in the sidewalk? Yep, but I also have a tendency to stumble, so ... again, practicality. *Wink*

I think, for me, this falls under the 'to each his/her own' category.

It's definitely not healthy to be so paralyzed by these possible unknown consequences of our mostly inadvertent actions. I imagine it would turn a person's life into this perilous daily journey filled with anxiety and depression, when quite frankly life has some very real consequences in store for everyone that we usually don't see coming ... and if you are spending so much time watching for these possible supernatural occurrences, then you might not see the very real mistakes you are making that will lead to something very real and very bad happening.

Personally, I like the light-hearted approach to Friday the 13th. And if you see me throwing some salt over either shoulder or purposefully taking a stroll around a ladder, rather than under it, well ... the floor needed seasoning and practical safety measures around construction equipment is just good sense.

Still, I am glad that my birthday is on any other day than the 13th. Putting up with people purposefully trying to annoy me just isn't my forte.
December 29, 2022 at 7:15pm
December 29, 2022 at 7:15pm
For the last 28 days, I have looked at that reminder that says, 'Hey - you haven't written in your blog! WRITE IN YOUR BLOG!'

Ok, so it doesn't say it that way. *Smile* But to my eyes and ears, it seems to be in that tone. And for the last 28 days, I have sighed and passed it by because there wasn't anything that I really felt like putting here. Not that I've been having a bad time, I haven't. I've spent a lot of time with family and worked on various projects, plus had the chance to do a lot of reviewing. It's been great.

Still, I want to be able to write here regularly. I am just not ok with slapping together words simply for the sake of a post.

So, here's where my idea for today's post came from - The Writer's Cramp last week of poetry challenges hosted by Bianca. I normally do not write poetry much. When I do, it is usually for a good cause, such as something for a family member. I've never felt compelled to search out the dynamics of poetry. I guess all of mine is what would be called free verse. It works well enough and those on the receiving end have always seemed happy to get what I've created. It helps that it comes from the heart.

I've had the time and opportunity to explore two different poetry styles this week: Breccbairdne and Dutch Tanka. These were two styles that Bianca set forth for poetry week of Writer's Cramp. I have to admit that when I read through the guidelines for the Breccbairdne, I sighed and closed the page! But being stubborn as I am and intrigued, I came back later and read them through again with a fresh eye. Temptation overcame reluctance and I wrote my first one! It was a fun challenge and had me so enthused that I returned to try the Dutch Tanka poetry style. This one was somewhat easier to follow, and I wrote a poem that was one of two that won for that day!

I have never been attracted to much poetry. Most of it feels like it twists my brain and makes me wonder if I am constantly missing what the poet is really trying to convey. However, these two opportunities have helped me overcome some of that feeling and not only enjoy the works of others, but also attempt and achieve written poems of my own. For my own writing experience, this has been a remarkable feeling, especially for it to happen the last week of the year. *BigSmile*

I also had the inspiration today to start another novel on here! I have it kept for my eyes only for the moment as I write the prologue, but once that is done, I will post it so that others might pop by and review it.

2023 - wow. I can't believe it is almost here. There are a few events that are on my mind for the coming year, some concerning and some celebratory. Mostly, I want to be able to live in the moment, while planning for the future. I have a tendency to live in the past or future and that is a recipe for stress. I am definitely looking forward to all of the WdC fun that will be had as we make our way through the new year!
December 1, 2022 at 9:38pm
December 1, 2022 at 9:38pm
I always think this every year, but how did we get to December so quickly? It really does seem like just yesterday it was New Year's.

December 2022 has been ushered in with stress, happiness, problems, celebrations, and change. Of course, that's the only thing that stays the same, right? Change. For a long time, I have felt more stressed and on edge because - frankly - every time I let myself get comfortable, something happens to spur on change in my life. Most of it turns out to be good change, even if the beginning of it is all chaos and heartache. My family and I are good at being flexible and sticking together to get what needs to be done, done. Even though we are all feeling weary and have our own individual issues to address, we have once again pulled together to support one another and provide reassurance that everything will be ok. And the simple truth is that it will be, one way or another. The sun sets tonight, it rises tomorrow and another day full of possibilities will begin.

One day earlier this week was a particularly long one that was filled with different kinds of stress. I had made it to the evening and still had things to do, but I grabbed just a few spare minutes time to sit down and read a couple of items posted on here and do reviews for them. For just that brief amount of time, I was separate from everything else. I set down my burdens and found joy in the words of others, feeling what they had written and experiencing the worlds they created. I'm pretty sure it dropped my blood pressure by a significant amount. I literally felt more relaxed, more focused and refreshed with a renewed sense of optimism.

I really enjoy reviewing items on WDC. I have felt guilty because at times, when I am tied in knots from trying to put words into my own projects, I will pop out and do some reviewing. The thought repeats in the back of my brain that I should be writing, but the truth is that I am writing, just in another format. It's all exercise for the brain... and if it can provide some true stress relief, then - yes, please! It also leaves me feeling lighter and in a better frame of mind to go back to my own writing.

Writing - oh, how I love to write. Seriously, I do. It's sometimes more of a need than a desire. I feel better afterward. I sleep better. My mind feels less cluttered and there is a wonderful sense of accomplishment to get those characters out of my head and onto the page. But there is stress with it. I edit while I write and then end up writing very little. I get frustrated with a storyline, so I choose another to work on instead of sticking it through with the current one. I'm still trying to figure it all out and the trying to figure it out is driving me batty. URGH.

But. Here I am on the first day of the last month of the year. I have made progress. I am improving. It's a process and it's one that I am going to enjoy being here to be able to continue working on. If the only thing that stays the same is change, then I choose to do my best to make those changes count for something worthwhile.
November 26, 2022 at 7:27am
November 26, 2022 at 7:27am
Where do we get the names for our characters? What is it about those names that make them fit the person we have created? Who could imagine anyone other than Harry Potter being the boy who survived? If you look into the details of the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings, you'll find that Tolkien did not originally intend for Frodo to be the ring bearer.

There is a favorite romantic comedy movie of mine that has a scene where this is highlighted, only it is the character that changes and not the name. In Alex and Emma, at one point Alex is describing a character in the book he is writing. Emma remarks that she 'hates it when authors do that'. He asks what and she says give a character a certain name because it puts her in mind of how he looks, and it is completely different than what Alex describes. For the sake of humor in the book, Alex ends up changing the look of the character.

But there's a good thought - beauty (or what the character looks like in this case) is in the eye of the beholder (our readers). Personally, I can ignore what a character is described as and think of them as the way I want them to look, if I am so inclined. This is why I love books over movies for the most part. But if it is the other way around, I can't just rename the character as easily.

It goes to pointing out then that perhaps the best 'check' for us then is to have multiple test readers of different types. The feedback would hopefully help point out any glaringly bad choices for certain details, including names. However, in the end, I do believe that we have to be true to ourselves and our creations. That can mean that we choose the name that may not go over as well, but we know that it was the right choice.

So, I started with the second question that I posed in the beginning of this blog. Now, on to the first.

Where do we get the names for our characters? If we are struggling, how can we figure it out?

I know that there are times when the character and the name pop into my head as clear as day without any prompting. I have that feeling and know that it is right. Other times, I struggle to put a name to a face, so to speak. So where do I go when I'm having trouble?

I have 3 good fall backs for me.
1. The alphabet game: I start with A and go from there thinking of different names that start with each letter.
2. Baby names lists: These aren't just for naming your child. I pop out and skim through for ideas.
3. Rolling movie credits: I would imagine that I might have actually read the names of more key grips, boom operators, hair/makeup professionals and costume designers, etc. than most individuals. There is a wealth of different names that can be mixed and matched.

In the end, I believe we have to go with our gut instincts (along with a healthy dose of advice from test readers), so hopefully we create characters whose names will stick in our readers memories long after they have finished our books.
November 13, 2022 at 8:43pm
November 13, 2022 at 8:43pm
Why do I write? Why do I want to write?
I've thought of these questions off and on throughout my life.

As a student, I wrote for academic reasons: book reports, essays, term papers, creative writing assignments, articles for the school newsletter, etc. These were all reasonably public regardless of whether I wanted them to be. At the least, they were shared with the teacher, sometimes shared with a group of students or the entire class or in the case of the newsletter (a part of a class I took) the entire school.

Some of those assignments I enjoyed. Some of them I despised. All of them were growing experiences for me, even if I didn't realize or appreciate it at the time. None of them contained my full potential. Why? I was too shy to put myself out there and take a chance at shining brighter, or perhaps brightest. There was always a little, most times a lot, that I held back. Always choosing the more mundane topics or themes, the ones that guaranteed I would get a good grade... and also remain just another kid in the crowd.

I had stories that I wrote on my own and they were for no one but me. Until one day, a friend accidentally got ahold of one. I can still recall the sinking feeling of dread as they asked, "What's this?" I couldn't even say it was someone else's. It was in my handwriting.

After preparing for the worst, I fessed up to it being mine, tried to dismiss it as something ridiculous I had just doodled out and should probably be in the trash. To my utter surprise, they had said, "It's really good, like 'in a book' good. You should keep going and finish it." Those words are held near and dear in my heart like they were emblazoned in gold on a plaque and put on a wall with a light shining down upon them.

I never did finish that story. Life happened, as it usually does, and by the time I even contemplated finishing it, I realized I had outgrown the storyline. But... I still remember it. I hold it close, like the words on the plaque.

Why do I write? Why do I want to write?
Because I need to, want to, in some cases... almost have to.

Writing can be confounding and frustrating. It can make me want to bang my head against a wall, or pull my hair out, or find an open field to scream my lungs out. It can take every bit of energy and bleed me dry for more until I need to step away and let myself rejuvenate only to go back and give even more. There are days I stare at a screen and curse the fact that I can't find a few words, let alone tens of thousands.

And yet...

Writing can be cathartic and healing. The act of doing it challenges me like nothing else in this world. I have characters that are not like old friends, they are old friends. They travel along with me, sometimes growing and changing, sometimes staying the same, but always there. Putting words to paper (figuratively speaking these days) can let them get out of my head or heart. It can be affirming or revealing; at times it is the only method I have to purge the darkness that dwells within and bring it to bear the light of day.

So, though writing may be a constant struggle between flowing rivers of words and stagnant swamps of doubt and uncertainty... it always has been and always will be a vital part of my happiness and an essential part of my life.
November 8, 2022 at 9:48am
November 8, 2022 at 9:48am
We went to vote early this morning. It's a good feeling to have it done and see so many showing up at the polls. Regardless of who you support, it is important to exercise a freedom that not everyone in this world gets to experience. The atmosphere was nice. Quiet, but some people chatting and friendly with one another. Got in and out in 30 minutes, so not too bad.

Before all of that, we got up to see the blood moon that occurred last night/early this morning. It was hard to see, but definitely visible. And a huge plus was we saw a shooting star, too! Very interesting start to the morning!

I'm ok with saying that I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I geared myself up for it, but then just felt worse trying to force it into my schedule with very little planning. So, I am focusing on the positive. Since joining WDC about a month ago, I have written more often than I have in years. I've written new and interesting pieces, gotten feedback on them, and gained new insight into writing in general and for my big projects that I have planned. It's all good.

Looking forward to getting our turkey! It's exciting to put it in the freezer and count down the days for taking it out to prep. I've already started stocking away the things we'll need for Thanksgiving... and I've bought a few Christmas presents to hide away, too.

It's all coming together, just like every year, even if it feels so different for this one. One day at a time. One moment at a time. Breathe. *Smile*
October 30, 2022 at 9:21pm
October 30, 2022 at 9:21pm
Well, it's that time of year again, the start to my favorite collection of holidays *Pumpkin* *Turkey* *TreePine*

The irony never escapes me of how a good portion of us (myself included) wish for the colder weather during the heat of the summer and then turn right around and wish for the heat when we are shivering our butts off. I've always enjoyed the fall and the lead up to the colder weather. I can say that as I am getting older, it's not so pleasant. But, I still love the change of the seasons.

Halloween has always been fun. When I was younger, my older sister went all out for a few years. She took yarn and had a spider web on the front porch, with a painted cardboard spider on it. She made tombstones complete with 'scary' funny names and made ghosts that hung from the hooks where mom's potted plants had been during the summer. It was my older brother who helped me learn to cut out the shapes on pumpkins easier by doing them smaller pieces at a time, which still got the effect you wanted without breaking the surrounding pumpkin.

Once they were up and out of the house, though, mom and dad weren't much for Halloween. I tried to keep things up for a time, but then it just faded away. Then, we had our kids. From little bitty costumes to ones that are now, partially at least, scary, I've gotten the chance to watch ours enjoy the holiday and have them experience our stories of past tricks or treats. This was our first year just handing out candy instead of walking around and, though there weren't nearly as many kids that came by, it was really nice to stay in one place.

I've always enjoyed anticipating this time of the year and this time, I even started decorating the first week of September. Tomorrow will be fun, but also bittersweet because it's one holiday down already. New Year's is awesome, but it also signifies that another round of these is done and gone, never to return. I usually feel a little glum, but more so lately I give myself a kick in the pants to get on with it because all in all, we only have so many of these left and none of them are ever guaranteed. (Sounds depressing maybe, but it's what gives me my better perspective.)

National Novel Writers Month

Ok, how have I never heard of this before?

They say 'right time, right place', but this October I guess I have had a pretty pointed experience of that occurring. (The other time in my life was when I met my wonderful husband.) I've done research on writing before but have never come across this website or that program.

I guess I need to stop pondering over not seeing it prior to this and just get started!
I have so many beginnings to different books that I've lost count over the years. There is one main storyline that has stuck through all of that time and a second one that has been formulating for a couple of years now. Tomorrow, I plan on picking one of those and dedicating myself to it for the month of November. What the heck, right? Maybe having that drive to meet the requirements will get me to actual make headway. I really, really hope so!

I wish myself and everyone else out there the best of our abilities (luck, too, but hey - it's us that does the work, not the luck!)
October 26, 2022 at 1:40pm
October 26, 2022 at 1:40pm
Villains, Antagonists, BAD guys

So, it's interesting to me how different villains can be depending upon the genre, or author, or time period that the work was produced, among many other things that affect them. They each have their own degree of 'bad guy'ness that is appropriate for their audience.

We have our Bond villains - obsessed with taking out their prime nemesis and also (usually) bent on world domination. In the older movies, they can be quirky, even humorous at times. They are certainly memorable.

There are the Shakespearian antagonists - malicious in their own right, but also very classy and refined in their speech and sometimes their methods. Et tu Brute?
For me, these bad guys are relatable to the black and white movie gangsters that spray a barrage of bullets (producing no blood, but lots of dramatic deaths) and the 70s/80s villains that could kick, punch, or shoot straight and true and have the same effect (no blood, lots of twitching usually). They serve their purpose, usually delivering a lesson for the audience, but aren't all that scary.

Disney villains! Let's see, Snow White was actually a pretty good depiction of a Grimm's Fairytale, in my opinion. There was nothing about the Evil Queen that made me think, "Hey, I can relate to her. She has a good point." That's what it feels like to me that most children's cartoons/stories have become. They tend to make every bad guy morally ambiguous, which certainly is not the case in real life. There are some real bad people who - for whatever reason - just want to hurt people. I think we could do with a little more Grimm reality and less "let's make an entire set of movies about the backstories of our villains so that we can understand them better".

That being said, I mostly love the humor that has been injected into the new kid's movies. It makes them much more pleasant for the grown-ups! And no, I am not saying that we need to take adult level bad guys and stick them in cartoons - but I do think that we could find a better balance.

Dystopian worlds - here we go for megalomaniacs and their cover stories of, "Do what I say because it's for the good of humanity, but really I'm doing this for my own amusement and because I want to control everyone and everything!" I mean at least the Bond villains are good enough to just come right out and say they want to rule the world. President Snow's games are in another realm compared to sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads. (sorry, had to do a 'nod' to Dr. Evil)

Lastly (and ghastly), we have our horror story villains. From psychological to blood, guts and gore - these are the ones that I, personally, have no interest in watching or reading. I have never been a fan of horror and don't enjoy being scared.
That being said, if I watched/read these, I would prefer the ones that are geared towards your mind rather than just slash 'em and hack 'em.
I do prefer supernatural reasoning, too. Actually - I can say that I have watched the new It movies. I read most of the book but ending up putting it down - no offense to Mr. King, he's a terrific author - because it wasn't worth it for me to finish it any longer. My time is better spent towards pursuits I prefer.
It was an intriguing concept and definitely a genuinely disturbing version of a villain - one that cannot be reasoned with, preys on its victims in ways that cannot be readily anticipated and cannot be defeated by traditional means. Throw in the fact that its preferred prey is kids, he came up with one seriously unique and memorable character.
Also, it had the thing I want the most - the bad guy gets it in the end!

For my own personal writing experiences, I have to admit that I do not like writing a villain's part, especially if told from a first-person point of view. It doesn't go with my personality and can be a challenge. I have been told I can write their part well, but quite frankly, it always leaves me feeling bad and I have to distance myself from it for a while to get back my balance.

Maybe that's an indication that I am successful at it? I do know that I want to be true to all of my characters. I want the audience to feel a part of the story and that requires breathing life into these two-dimensional beings that we shape with letters and spaces on a page, even the ones that make you itch to reach the finale, so you can end the miserable existence of the life you created for them.

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