Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Breather!

Christmas in Bear Ridge is finished and I’m super happy about that. Hopefully, my readers will be too, when it’s ready. I’ll be getting back to my other books here soon enough but this weekend is crazy busy and I think I need a little brain flossing. So, I’ll read a book instead of writing one and paint the big blue can I bought at a yard sale for umbrellas and my canes. The problem is that I have no idea what I want to put on it. I can make it pretty or I can make it interesting or I can make it fit with the rest of my weird and cover it with comic book pages. Or I can do something sort of like my shoes. Or I can continue my pattern of late and slap a raven on it. The husband says to decorate it with famous people who used canes but I’m not good at people and the only people I can think of are fictitious and Scrooge, John Hammond, and Willie Wonka.

My father-in-law is having a bit of a thing this weekend and the family is coming in from all over. I come from a teeny tiny family and I married into an enormous one – it’s a bit unnerving sometimes for me. I always worry because I can’t keep names straight when my brain is working right let alone when I’m having short term memory problems. But, I’m going to at least try to make my house presentable just in case people show up here at the house. I’d rather sit here and write but, it is what it is! Maybe I’ll crank up the record player and see just how much I can get done before munchings and crunchings.

Monday is soon enough to get back on track to get three books finished this year. I’ve got one down, two to go and I’ve got a decent start.

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Teachers Matter – Part Two

We’re several days into the Teacher’s strike or work stoppage or whatever you want to call it. I have so many words to say about the subject – most of them are cursey, yelly words directed at the State Senate. I’ve made my position on education quite clear over the years and it will never change. Education is incredibly important. Not all education comes from books or classrooms and right now, we are all getting a hell of a lesson in how government works and how easy it really is to shove a stone in the cogs and bring everything grinding to a halt.

I absolutely stand behind our teachers. WV has one of the lowest pay scales, is 45th in education, and currently has a teacher shortage in the hundreds. There are hundreds of vacant positions, hundreds of teachers who are desperately needed but no one will fill them. Why won’t teachers come to West Virginia? See that pesky pay scale thing. Why are teachers leaving in droves? Again, see that pesky pay scale thing. That is all before we throw in the insurance issue which is ultimately what this whole kerfluffle is about when you boil the numbers down. It’s so bad here, they’re discussing lowering the requirements for teachers. How can we compete nationally when we can’t get teachers in our classrooms?

The State Senate is holding every child, every parent, every teacher hostage and they will likely never suffer any consequence for it. It’s a game, a power play, and it isn’t fair. Not to the teachers, not to the kids, and not to the parents. We haven’t seen the end of this, not until the Committees have met, discussed, brought the right bill to the vote and actually passed it and the Governor has signed it. Then we’ll get back to normal. Then we can look to the future and hopefully start filling those vacancies and bringing up that 45 number.

There are a number of people where I’m at who are floating a petition so the kids don’t have to make up the time in June. I disagree with that personally. I think our kids deserve to learn those days worth of stuff. I’ve got a kid who needs to take his SATs and AP tests so we can start looking at colleges for him – maybe he doesn’t need those days, those lessons, those discussions, but maybe he does, maybe his friends do. Some people might think that’s punishing our kids, making them go into June but it isn’t. It’s investing in their future. There are plenty of places where kids are in school to mid-June. You want to keep your summer plans, call the Senators, call your Representatives and tell them. Get angry at the people who are really holding everyone hostage by dickering around and trying their level best to destabilize our public school system. It might not be perfect, it might need a lot of work, but it’s better than the alternative.

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Lessons Learned

We’ve come to the part of the year where I over-analyze everything and, since I happen to be laid up a bit, I might as well share more than I should. Every situation we come to is an opportunity to learn something. It may not always be something you wanted to know, but the truth remains. Just the other day I learned that I know way too many obscure Christmas facts and, according to my son, no one ever remembers who wrote what. Even if it’s Charles Dickens. And far too few people have seen one of our family favorites, Olive the Other Reindeer. This bit of knowledge makes me very sad.

I’ve learned a lot this year and very little of it did I want to know.

Good things I learned: I can laugh at almost anything. My stepmom has a really great family. My kids are awesome when the chips are down, even if they really worry too much. I was incredibly fortunate to have the parents I did. It is absolutely ok to stand up for yourself when people are being unkind or cruel, even if no one else sees past the official public face of said people.

Less than good things: Ibuprofen makes me rashy. There are not enough handicapped accessible facilities when you are limited in your mobility. And I was only on crutches – I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to try and get around when you’re in a wheelchair though the time may come when I find out. Prednisone makes me ragey and weepy. Some people are just plain compelled to one-up you in life, even (sometimes especially) when it’s about the terrible things (Is Munchausen by bragging a thing?). I do not understand that one. And the past never really goes away, ghosts crop up to clang their chains and muck you up just because they can when you least expect it. I also learned that even the smallest injuries can take me out now – for DAYS.

I like to sandwich the ick with better so I’ll go back to the good now. There are support groups out there for RA that don’t require me to physically go anywhere and they’ve helped me immensely in figuring this all out, especially understanding my bloodwork. I’ve learned by necessity to try and drink more water in the day before my bloodwork also but it really does make it easier and so much less ouchie. And best of all, though maybe bittersweet, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by, some ghosts still come to visit and I embrace them, even conjure them through perfume and shirts and I will never ever not want them to come and tell me stories in my sleep.

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Best Laid Plans

Today is a bit of a mixed bag – I got myself a compliment on my not quite day job, I made my very first Etsy sale (whoo-hoo!), and the upcoming lady’s night event got itself canceled. Which is fine, I’ll just put the stuff I was working on towards the Peach Festival in August and up on my Etsy. I have two new brick books (A Child’s Garden of Verses and The Secret Garden), a bunch of dragons egg pendants, and some vases. I also got a not quite rejection as the whole market sort of folded before it could get off the ground which is a shame because it looked interesting. Like I said, a mixed bag but one that’s definitely leaning toward the positive.

The day’s not over just yet but most of my evening has been earmarked for writing and spending time with my family. I’ve got a bit of an earworm story wise that I need to sort of see the shape of.

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Time to Have The Talk

Probably not the one you think. I would just like to urge everyone to talk to their at risk loved ones about the scammers that call and try to tell you that their computer has a terrible virus and they need to pay them right now to fix it. If I hadn’t called at exactly the right moment, my stepmom might have bought it. They can be very convincing. Not only is that not how it works but, if she did have a virus or malware, we’d have that taken care of locally by people we know and trust. So, consider this a PSA, please talk to your at risk loved ones – anyone who might fall for a telephone based scammy scammer or a popup scammy scammer and put a plan in place so that they know what steps to take in the event of a virus. Even if they forget about the scams, they aren’t going to pay someone over the phone if they know to call your local fixitallperson first.

Seriously, why do people have to be awful to each other? It’s not like my poor stepmom hasn’t had enough to deal with this year.bah. I do hope karma has something to say to them eventually.

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Merry Christmas!

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday surrounded by love, family, and friendship. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. I enjoy making things for the people I love. There is nothing better in the world than watching a kid’s face light up like the sun finding something they never knew they wanted.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, happy Kwanza, Happy Yule, and blessings to you for the upcoming year.

 

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Traditions

My family has a lot of Christmas traditions, mostly passed down from my mom. I’ve talked before about making presents, a thing I’m doing my best to pass along to my kids. I’ve talked about the movies and the music, if not here than on the old LiveJournal. Someday I’ll talk about the candy making and the books. Tonight, I want to talk about the oranges.

When I was very little, I was given a book. It was a book about a baby bear discovering all the best smells of Christmas and the very best smell wasn’t the pine of the tree or the sweet of the cookie or the bright mint of the candy cane. The very best smell was the orange in the stocking. I always agreed with Tiny Tim from my favorite Christmas movie ever (Scrooge), I would always rather have the oranges. I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t an orange in my stocking when I was very small.

During some of those years, we lived in Washington. I was about 7 when I first discovered the tiny, super sweet, peel in one orange ribbon Japanese oranges (sort of like what they call Cuties now but smaller). I could eat an entire crate of them all by myself. It remains to this day the only food outside of coffee that I ever asked for for Christmas. There was at least one year where I got my box of oranges (and I didn’t even have to share them!).

As I got older, the oranges turned chocolate. Neither of my kids took to oranges early so their oranges started out chocolate but they are there, without fail on Christmas morning.

I still have my copy of the Sweet Smell of Christmas though the scratch and sniffs have long since faded. My kids have a copy too, though I doubt they’ve read it in a few years, I bet at least the youngest could still recite it.

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Day Five

Yesterday I fell behind and discovered that I’m not exactly digging the start point for Crow Queen. I’m not fixing it right now but I do figure I’ll probably cut out a lot of the first few days work. That’s really pretty normal for me though. I did manage more than the minimum for today but I’m still technically behind. I’m hoping to catch up tomorrow. But I need to do a good bit of thinking on the next step for my characters. Fortunately for me, that’s what I use sleep for! I’m at 8170 but my goal is to pass up 11k tomorrow if I can. Hopefully everyone will cooperate.

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Afoot afoot afoot

sort of like amuck amuck amuck only different. There are some interesting things in the pipeline coming up soon. I have a very long list of things I need to do in preparation but very soon things will start happening. There’s a new release, a new monthly, a revamping of a website, and maybe something visual too. That last one will entirely depend on how it turns out – if it comes even half-way to what I have in my head, it’ll be very interesting.

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Secrets in the Peat

I am a curious sort. History, science, anthropology, archeology, philosophy – part of writing is researching and maybe one of the reasons I love what I get to do so very much is that my love of all the archaic things can be justified with the word – research. Even if sometimes I think my search terms probably get my name put on some watchlist somewhere in the depths of big brother’s brain. Today, I want to talk Bog Bodies!

I am greatly interested by how different cultures perceive death and go about mourning and caring for the dead. I understand it is a bit morbid maybe but it’s always been a part of my life. My grandfather was a mortician and these things always intruiged me. I understand mummies. I understand burials. I understand mourning. There is something about the bodies found so well preserved in peat bogs that just speaks to my imagination.

If you look up these bodies, you can see them so clearly down to the wrinkles on their faces. The most interesting thing to me (of course) is how violent the deaths seem to be – like sacrifices or warriors left on the fields. It is possible that the bogs were used a bit like a potter’s field, a place to lay to rest the unwanted, outcasts, and criminals. One bog body in particular has a rope around his neck.

There are books, movies, and documentaries about the bog bodies. I’ve got a story I’ll write someday about them myself (it’s not ready to put to paper yet). In the very late 90’s there was a movie called The Eternal or Trance which was really quite fun (from what I remember – I need to watch it again). Not only is there a bog body who happens to be a druid, there’s Christopher Walken too! Phil Rickman has a book about bog bodies that I haven’t gotten to read yet but it’s on my list. There have been some excellent documentaries – at least one of which has aired a couple of times on PBS.

I think what intrigues me the most about the bog bodies is just how well preserved they are without any real preparation. In some instances, even the stomach contents are preserved which means that the peat must have stunted the decaying process entirely. That, to me, is incredible. Morbid maybe but so interesting. It’s easy to see how bog bodies make excellent stories.

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