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Serial Story: Don’t Look Away, Ch. 31

This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!


Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1
Chapter 31

Twenty-four long hours later, Shelley walked into her apartment and bolted the door behind her. Tossing her keys on the table beside the door, she kicked off her shoes, went to the couch and collapsed into the soft cushions.

It all seemed so surreal now – like she’d laid down for a nap and dreamed the whole crazy week, and now she was just waking up and waiting for the nightmare to fade. She glanced around the living room, saw bits and pieces of Tabby’s life strewn about, and almost thought maybe she’d just walk through the door any second, plop down on the couch beside her and hand her a cup of that too-expensive coffee-shop tea she brought home when she’d gotten herself a tall latte.

They’d talk about Shelley’s crazy dream, about meeting some hot guy speed-dating and how Tabby ran off up a mountain with another guy and ended up with her leg cut off and how Aunt Jane disowned Shelley and that hot guy’s ex was really a stalker who he’d ended up shooting in the end…

And then they’d laugh, and Tabby would punch her arm and tell her that she’d just this morning set up a speed-dating event for a local bar next week, and would Shelley please, please come with her because it would be so much fun and maybe Shelley would meet that hot guy after all?

Groaning, Shelley laid down on the couch. Her ribs still hurt, but now that she was sitting and alone, everything else was starting to hurt too. As much as she might want to, she couldn’t deny that everything she remembered had actually happened, and now she was alone, her body beaten up and her spirit not in much better shape.

Nothing would ever be the same again, and she was tired. So tired.

She’d just about drifted off to sleep when her phone rang. Jerking upright and then wincing from the pain, Shelley grabbed her cell off the coffee table and answered.

“Shelley – thank God! I wasn’t sure when you were getting back, but we could sure use you around here, if you’re up to coming back a day early.”

She sighed. “I guess I could do that.” She looked at the clock, tick-tocking at her from across the room. Life goes on. “Give me an hour – I need to clean up first.”

Disconnecting, she rubbed her face with her hands and forced herself to her feet. The warmth of the shower felt good sluicing over her body, and she lingered longer than she should have, but what the hell. She’d get there when she got there, and they’d be grateful. She was still technically on vacation, after all.

She did her hair and makeup and got dressed, all the while feeling like something wasn’t right. It was all just so…shallow. So mundane.

So lifeless.

Her phone rang – the ride service she’d ordered was waiting. She’d have to call the insurance company too, see what she could do about a new car. Tomorrow.

Four hours later, she was back in front of her apartment building, staring at the front door as if it was her arch-nemesis. She didn’t want to go in. Didn’t want to be reminded of everything she’d lost.

The door opened and Dillon came down the stairs toward her, slowly.

“I was hoping you’d be back soon,” he said, his lips quirking up in a small smile. “I was worried when you weren’t here, actually. Are you okay?”

She stared at him for a moment, and then shook her head, the tears starting to fall.

“No. I’m sorry. I’m trying, but I’m really…not.”

He nodded, took another couple steps forward and pulled her into his arms. She laid her head on his shoulder and let the tears fall.


Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 32!

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Exercise, Focus, & House Names

I tend to think of my brain as the “command center” for my body – I think we all do, at least to some extent. And in a lot of ways, it is. But as with so many things in life, it’s more of a symbiotic relationship than I generally like to admit. If something’s wrong with the body, or the body as a whole isn’t getting what it needs, then the “command center” won’t function properly. The only way to ensure optimal “processing power” between the ears is to make sure everything below the neck is in good functioning order as well.

The command center only works as well as the body allows it to. Which is why I should not be surprised (but somehow always am), when taking better care of my body results in more focus and disciplined decisions coming out of my brain.

I started last week like always, trying desperately to find my way back to more disciplined, focused writing sessions morning and night. And failing to really focus well, though I did get some writing in. Then cooler weather hit mid-week…cool enough that I could walk the dogs a decent distance in the evening, and it was like a switch flipped in my head – when I sat down in front of the laptop later that night, it was much easier to just ignore the browser and email client, open my writing program and start typing.

Incidentally, I also work out in the mornings right before I do my half-hour writing stint, and just after a workout, I’m alert and focused, and find it much easier to resist the temptation to scroll.

We got a walk in the next night as well, and once again, opened the writing app right away and got to work, no fuss. This week, I’m going to start doing a small set of squats and/or crunches mid-way through my late night writing time, and see if that helps boost the focus even further.

I’ll admit, I did cut out my crochet time in favor of “screen time” as well (cell and TV), so I didn’t feel so much like I was “missing out”, which undoubtedly contributed (crochet will just have to be a weekend activity). And I also made sure to get my kitchen chores done early so I could have a full hour late at night. But I’ve done both of those before and still had a hard time focusing on writing rather than just surfing…the activity was the only real difference last week.

I’m still not losing the weight I need to lose, and neither is hubby, so we may shift back towards a low carb diet and replace white breads for wheat/whole grain for at least a little while and see if we can’t break the plateaus we’re on. That will be a gradual change over the next few weeks. I’m betting it will help even more with the focus and discipline issues. I’ve always done far better on a very low to no-carb diet, which sucks, because it’s kind of boring, but if it’s what my body needs, then so be it. There will be more probiotics in my immediate future too. A daily dose of yogurt isn’t something I really notice eating, but my whole body notices when I stop for even just a few days. Details, details.

Because while I do worry about my body, my genes, and triggering latent cancer cells, I also really want my brain to work as well as possible for as long as possible. And the health of the brain is largely determined by the health of the rest of the body, inconvenient as that is.

In other, writing-related news, I was alert enough last week that I actually caught up on several other blogs as well, so if you’re so inclined, go check them out (links below). My “theme” for the week was named houses in fiction, inspired by this article I read early last week: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/29/pemberley-manderley-howards-end-real-building-fictional-houses

I’m working on changing my own perspective to see settings in fiction as “characters” rather than just window-dressing for the characters, and starting with something very solid and normally tangible made sense to me. And the more I thought about it, the more of an “a-ha!” moment it became, and it feels like something has finally clicked into place that I can actually use in my writing. A very good feeling indeed.

You can check out the other blogs for more in-depth info (and an example) at these links:

Alex Westhaven (one of my alter-egos – you’ll recognize the name of the town where this fictional manor sits)
The Writer’s Desk (my writing blog)
Snake Bites (the BSB blog)

Yes, three. So I get a little excited when I figure something out. Also, themes make writing all those posts easier. I may just do that every week, at least when I can… 😉

Poetry & Taxes

April is National Poetry Month, which I normally kind of ignore. It’s not that I don’t like poetry – I like some of it quite well, in fact. Shakespeare’s sonnets were instrumental in shaping romance in my 12 year old heart (that actually sounds sort of scary now, but it’s true), and while I didn’t do well in my poetry classes in college because I had no time to do the assignments with work and other classes (well, and I had issues with some of the analytical methods, but I’ve always been rebellious like that), I still loved reading the poems and have kept those textbooks all these years.

All that said, I’m really not much of a poet. I’ve always been more of a prose kind of girl, and found poetry difficult to write. But considering I like to read poetry, and I think poetry could help me write better prose (whether I can write decent poetry or not), I decided to attend a free Poem-A-Day Challenge kickoff at a local bookstore this past Saturday afternoon. We talked about poetry, heard some poetry, and even wrote some first lines and a poem to start.

By the end, I’d talked myself into paying for the daily writing prompts and online workshop. Which is complete madness, because I have *no time* to work on a poem every day and still work on my prose writing. No time!

Alas, I signed up, so now I have to figure out how to make it so. Which is why I’m missing out on my reading time tonight to write this blog post – I spent my post-writing time finishing the poem I needed to write for Sunday. But I really can’t do that every day this month – that reading time is very important to both my writing and my sleep patterns. So I have to figure out some other time to work on poetry, and not spend too much time dilly-dallying with it.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

In any case, my best buddy Carol who has agreed to write a poem per day with me this month, insists that we can’t just be trusted to write poetry daily – we have to prove it. So we are sending each other our poems every day, and then we’ll both post all the poems from the week on our respective blogs once weekly for the month.

I’ll be posting my weekly collection on Saturdays, so if you want to read what I’m working on this month, by all means, feel free to stop by. It will be…well, interesting, I hope.

In other news, I still have to do my taxes. I always do them at the last minute, because we always break even, so there’s really no point in doing them early. This past weekend, I downloaded all my various sales reports, and Friday night I’ll need to get those entered into my accounting software so I can aggregate the information I need, and then next Sunday will be tax day around here. *sigh* TurboTax makes it easy-ish, but still. Does anyone actually like doing taxes? I think not.

Is there anything remotely poetic about taxes? We just might see…

That Could Cause Cancer, You Know…

…and water is wet, and the sky is blue.

But we’ll get to my rant on supposedly well-intentioned cancer warnings in a minute. First, a bit of blog news:

If you were/are a fan of my blog serials, I have good news! I’m around 6 chapters into my next romantic suspense novel, and I’ve decided to serialize it again. One chapter every Friday, right here on the blog. Keeps me motivated and accountable, even if I know there are only two people reading. And since I rarely look at my stats (too lazy), I can pretend there are at least two people reading, which keeps me writing. Ignorance/fantasy is bliss, you know.

So, if you’re interested, stop back on Friday for Chapter 1 of…hmm. That’s a pickle. I should probably pick an actual title for this book, eh? I’ve been calling it Rattlesnake Falls Book 1, because the series will be Rattlesnake Falls, and this is the first one (I know, so logical). But I haven’t come up with an actual title for it yet. I’ll think on it, and hopefully have one by Friday.

I currently have subscription options for either “all posts” or “non-fiction only”. I’ll have a “fiction only” option as well by Friday, so those who prefer to get each chapter (but not these rambly weekly posts) via email can do so.


Alrighty then. Admin business done, now back to the rant o’ the week:

As I understand it, cancer isn’t really a disease so much as a cell mutation, and the things that turn it on/off are varied and individual to specific people depending on their own genetics and lifestyle. Cells mutate, and those mutated cells spread through the body and left unchecked, it will eventually kill us. Odds are incredibly good that a high percentage of us will eventually be killed by cell mutations (cancer) at some point (hopefully very late in life when our bodies are worn out, but that’s if we’re lucky).

Why am I thinking about this, you ask? Because I was challenged about my tattoos twice last week, and one of the arguments used was “tattoos can cause cancer, you know – and especially lymph node cancer”. The reason that last part was tacked on, obviously, is because Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma runs in my family, and it was an attempt at emotional manipulation. Scare tactics. Needless to say, I didn’t appreciate it, nor do I respond to such things all that well.

There are a *lot* of things out there that can cause (trigger, really) cancers. And we have a lot of warnings all over the place alerting us to that danger. The main cancer that runs in my family is genetic, and has a tendency to hit the same oldest (or only) child of the family in the same place on the body (lymph nodes at the side of the neck) at the same time in life (one week before a 50th birthday). It’s been very predictable for at least three generations on my dad’s side, and I’ve lived a great deal of my life knowing that one week before my 50th birthday, a lump will probably appear on the side of my neck, and it will be my turn to get radiated/chemo-ed/poisoned/whatever-the-current-treatment-happens-to-be in order to keep my body from killing me in the process of turning into a giant mass of monster-cells.

We humans are nothing if not hopeful, though, and to that end, I’ve done and continue to do a lot of things in order to reduce the risk of my genetic switch from “flipping”, or at least to prolong the process. With the occasional lapse, I workout fairly regularly and do my best to keep my weight under control (all previous generations where the cancer triggered, the “victims” were quite overweight). I eat as healthy as I can stand to, which is pretty healthy and includes a high-fiber, low carb diet, I stay away from most extra sugars, all artificial sweeteners, and I try to keep my indulgences to a minimum. I drink the equivalent of six cups of tea per day, no sugar added, and I do my best to get a proper amount of water for good hydration.

I read labels religiously, do my best to avoid potentially harmful chemicals in skin care, makeup, soaps/cleaners, household cleaning products, and personal care items. I use herbal-only hair dyes, and my nail polish is all “big-three-free” (which means it has less toxic chemicals, but it’s still not perfect). I don’t use plastic water bottles or storage containers if I can help it – everything is metal, glass or ceramic. I stay away from commercial drugs as much as possible, and use herbal/holistic remedies whenever I can.

You’d think I’d be confident in my ability to prolong or circumvent my family’s genetic curse, but honestly? I have no idea whether or not any of it will even help. And there’s a very good possibility that nothing I can do will stop that genetic mutation from triggering in my body in exactly the same way, at exactly the same time as my dad, and his mom, and her dad before that. Even if I can prolong it, there’s no guarantee that it won’t trigger differently, maybe at some other time, in some other place. That’s the thing about cancer. If the genetics are there, there’s no guarantee that anything we do differently will ever be able to stop it from actually manifesting.

I have tattoos. One of the few things I indulge in knowing full well that it isn’t the healthiest thing for my body, and that some of the pigment particles *will* settle in my lymph nodes. And I fully plan on getting more tattoos. Because I love them, and because no one can guarantee me that any of the things I do to keep my cells in line is actually going to work against my base genetics. I could live as pristine a life as possible, and still end up with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma one week before my 50th birthday. Or, the curse could mutate differently in me, and manifest as some different sort of cancer at some different time of my life too. Earlier, later…impossible to say. The potential is there, dormant (hopefully) for now. The possibility that something will eventually trigger it is high. If not my tattoos, it will be something else.

At some point, you have to just stop worrying so much, live your life, and deal with things as they come.

Well, you don’t have to, I guess, but it’s sure a lot more fun/less stressful than constantly worrying about every single thing that could go wrong and trying to control things that really are pretty much out of your control.

I’m keeping the tattoos and nail polish, thanks. My two main unhealthy vices, and the nail polish has been one since I was a young kid, way before they thought about things like avoiding toxic chemicals (nail polish is derived from automobile paint, you know, and then there’s polish remover, of course…), so I’ve certainly absorbed my fair share of those along with all the tattoo pigments.

Yes, I know tattoos could/may trigger cancer, thanks. I’ll take my chances.

Well Alrighty Then

It’s hard to know what to say after a week like last week. Here in the US, we elected a new president, and the results were rather…unexpected (even for the winner, methinks). There’s always some grumbling and complaining after an election, but this time, things are worse. Much worse. Which leads to a whole lot of ugliness that begets a whole lot more thinking and internal processing (or external, judging by my Facebook feed, but that tends to muddle things even more, from the looks of it. I’m not brave enough to check Twitter, which I hear is worse).

Humans can be incredibly cruel to each other. More cruel, I’d argue, than at least some of the fictional killers I’ve written about. But we also tend to be our own worst enemy (individually speaking), and therein lies the rub.

However, there are still plenty of good, decent, kind people out there, and I personally know several. So that gives me hope.

In any case, last week wasn’t really a great week for getting stuff done. In addition to all the election madness, I only worked two days, and while they were quite a bit more productive than my days off, it was still less than I’d wanted to accomplish.

Here’s hoping this week I can find a better groove. Though I will say that the Shinedown/Sixx:AM concert we went to last Weds night was stellar…

I am hopelessly behind on my NaNo novel, and the reason is pretty simple – I’m not making it a priority. And in order to make it a priority, I have to de-prioritize something else, and at present, I really just don’t want to. I need sleep, I still need a tiny bit of reading time, I need to exercise and cook dinner, I need to work (obviously)…and there are only so many hours in the day. Plus I have a novel to proof-read before publication (not mine – another BSB author) and get it off to the format-er, hopefully next week. And then there’s my children’s book that just needs to be edited, formatted, and covered before I release it…

So…there’s really no way I can “win” NaNo this year…and that’s okay. Priorities are made for a reason, and this year, mine just have to be different. I’m still writing regularly again, and that’s really the most important part. I’m keeping my normal writing time, so it’s not like I’m not writing, just…not pushing to get a certain amount of words done quickly.

After dealing with some back and ankle issues last week, I really need to re-prioritize my morning yoga too .I’ve been slacking on that, and it’s painfully (in the literal sense) obvious.

This week, it’s all back to normal – normal schedule, normal routine. I’m going to be cutting out a lot of my “idle” online time (ie, time scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds) because it’s time I could spend actually being productive (or resting, which is important too), and also because it’s hard on my eyes. I need to get back to scheduling days too…on paper, I mean. I’ve fallen away from that, and I really do think it helps.

So…lots of focus on getting myself back to where I need to be, mentally and physically this week. That’s never a bad place to start.

And I need to make Murphy-dog a coat, too. We’re expecting snow on Wednesday, and I, for one, am ready. 🙂

Self-Sufficiency in a Loom

Last weekend, I went to a Fiber Festival here in town (the first one I’ve ever heard of). No, it didn’t feature prunes, beans and high-fiber foods…we’re talking textile fibers. Alpaca, yak, sheep and various blends of wool, plus silk, bamboo and other fibers that people who work with yarn like to turn into clothes, blankets, bags and other fun stuff.

In any case, there was an overwhelming amount of beautiful handspun and dyed fiber there (and raw fiber too, for those who spin), and I brought home several skeins of wool and one of cotton, and left a silk and bamboo blend one there that I really wish I’d picked up too. But it was expensive, so probably just as well I didn’t nab it. *sigh*

Anyways, at one of the booths where I bought some wonderfully thick and soft black handspun, the woman had a small “lap” weaving loom for sale. I thought about it, and thought about it some more, and ultimately decided not to buy it. And then I kicked myself for leaving it there the whole rest of the weekend. I even mentioned to my spinning/knitting friend at work that I couldn’t stop thinking about this loom, and how much fun it might be for the thinner lace-weight yarns I have but don’t want to knit or crochet with (I prefer thicker yarns – the small hooks/needles hurt my fingers).

As it turned out, my friend knew the woman selling the loom, and contacted her to see if it was still available. It was, and long story short, I sent a check, and the loom was delivered to my house this past Saturday. An hour, maybe 90 minutes later, I’d learned a whole bunch of terms I didn’t know before, and had woven my first inch or so of fabric from some recycled silk yarn I had in the closet.

My first weaving project - some recycled silk fingering-weight yarn.

My first weaving project – some recycled silk fingering-weight yarn.

I was actually kind of surprised, to be honest. The method described in the instructions made the motions far less tedious than I thought they might be, and I found the whole experience very relaxing. I spent another hour weaving another couple of inches yesterday, and again, found it a very calm and restful activity. It does take a lot of time, especially with the thin yarn I’m using, but it’s relatively mindless, and will result in a gorgeous piece of fabric.

While I ran the threads back and forth, I thought about why I was so drawn to get the loom and learn to weave. Or why I’m interested in any of the fiber arts I take part in – crochet and knitting, mainly. I mean, I do them because I enjoy the work, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that not only do I feel a sense of connection to the past when I do these types of crafts with my hands, but it also gives me a feeling of self-sufficiency.

I’ve always been a very independent person (too independent, says my mom), and I’ve also always been interested in homesteader-type activities. Crochet was one of the first hobbies I learned as a child, and it feels good to know that I can make both warm and useful things with just some yarn (or whatever) and a hook. I started knitting just because I think knit stitches are better for clothing (tighter), and weaving will broaden what I can make even more, in terms of household items and possibly even blankets and scarves.

Making things with my hands using simple tools gives me a sense of connection to the past that very few other things do. These crafts have been passed down for generations on to the next, and there’s just something that feels very important about keeping the hand-made version of them going as people cycle in and out of life. Not just because there’s value in knowing how to take care of ourselves without the technology of mass-production, but also because of that feeling of self-sufficiency that comes with knowing how to take raw materials and turn it into something useful and practical (as well as beautiful, in many cases). The more self-sufficient I feel, the more confidence I have, and that applies to all areas of my life, not just my homesteader-style hobbies.

Which is justification enough to learn how to spin my own yarn one of these days too, right? Although we may need a bigger house…

But I draw the line at raising sheep outside an actual apocalyptic-type situation. I helped a friend with 4-H sheep in high school. They’re cute, but stupid. I’m not a fan.

Alpacas have personality, though…

Patience, Grasshopper

Grasshopper_Ladybug

Patience isn’t an easy thing for most of us. When I was young (say, elementary school through high school), I always wanted time to move faster. I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and get to college. And then in college, when I realized I still couldn’t really relate to people my age for various reasons, I wanted *that* time to move faster, so I could move out of my parent’s house and get a single, glorious job that would cover all my bills and still leave me free in the evenings to…you know, watch TV and sleep. Then I graduated, and got the job, but had to stay with my parents for two more years before I finally had enough money saved up to buy a house. I got a better job on the same day I got the house, and life was finally good. I’d finally reached the point where I wasn’t constantly wishing things would hurry up and move faster.

Nowadays, I’m less impatient with time itself, and more impatient *with* myself. Every time I have to learn something or figure something new out for my job, I think I should just be able to automagically access the data and apply it like a pro – like a digital download to the brain, Matrix-style. And with writing, I feel like I should be able to learn new concepts and apply them perfectly right away, instead of constantly botching it up, trying again, getting a little better, trying again…etc.

Of course I can’t…I have to figure out what I need to learn, and then read about it, and then apply it, and fail, and try again, and fail, and go through the same process everyone else does. Which is absolutely logical/normal, but with writing especially, I wish I could grab those relatively abstract concepts and apply them without so much floundering. Database stuff is far more logical than writing (which surprises no one, I’m certain).

It’s all ego, of course – thinking I should be able to just learn new things with a simple “make it so” command. Knowing that doesn’t make me want it less though, and I’m constantly repeating the phrase from the old Kung Fu TV series to myself:

“Patience, grasshopper.”

Which reminds me, of course, that there are steps to learning, and no shortcuts, and the “journey” of learning something is often a lesson in and of itself. So might be said of the journey of simply waiting for something to happen – or to see if something will eventually happen.

Life itself is more about the journey than any particular destination, methinks.

And that is why I had a grasshopper tattooed on my forearm a little over a week ago. The ladybug is for luck, which…is a philosophical discussion for another day.


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On Notes, Ink, Postcards, & Peace Camp

Funny how the first three title subjects have something to do with writing, and yet for the purposes of this post, it’s the most tenuous of threads…

The Note(s)
My Note 7 showed up on Wednesday to brighten up a rather gray week, and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. I love it, and though I still have a few things to get working correctly (like photos saving to Dropbox, etc), it’s functioning mostly like the Note 3 did. I factory-reset the Note 3 for my husband, who is actually using it to make lists and such, which is impressive. So we’ll see if he gets as much utility out of such a handy device as I do or not.

Note7

The screen is especially beautiful and clear, and the camera is pretty awesome too. Great low-light photos…they weren’t kidding!

It took the better part of an evening to get everything transferred over, and then part of another to get all my passwords put in (and I’m still not sure I have them all yet). Then there’s tweaking the settings for things, and turning notifications on and off, and figuring out the blue-light filter (which is awesome, because it makes the screen so much easier on my eyes). I can, indeed read on this screen with the filter on, which is awesome.

Fun, fun, but time consuming. Between that and work, the rest of the week flew right by.

The Ink
Saturday I got one of the two tattoos planned…there wasn’t time for two, but Andrew did a really amazing job on my barn spider in just an hour and a half. Meet Earl…Charlie’s new “arm-mate”:

Earl

Isn’t he cool? He’s still a bit swollen (takes 3-4 days for the swelling to go down), but I can’t wait to see how he turns out once he’s all healed. I’ll go back in two weeks to get my grasshopper/ladybug on the upper side of my wrist, and then I’ll let this arm heal for several months before doing anything else with it.

One more tattoo on the inside of my other forearm, and that will be it for this year. Fun stuff!

The Postcards
Then Sunday, I finally sat down and got several postcards ready to mail out. One for my own postcard exchange, and seven for Postcrossing exchanges. Apparently there are a lot of postcard collectors/swappers in Russia, because every one of the names I drew this time are from there. Hopefully next time I can draw a better mix? Not that it matters too much, I suppose…I sent them all a small bit of Montana.

8_29_2016

Peace Camp
So when I sat down last night to write this post, I had the TV on for noise (the dogs are used to it being on in the evenings, so they settle better when things are “normal”). I turned the channel to PBS World, figuring it’s normally politics and world news, so there wouldn’t be too much to grab my attention. Alas, I should have left it on a stupid sit-com or something, because it ended up being a documentary on this Peace Camp that brought together a group of girls from different parts of the middle east and basically worked with them on learning how to communicate, and how to respect other people’s beliefs even when you know you won’t agree, and how to be okay with that in a non-violent way.

It was fascinating, and it followed the lives of these girls for quite a few years after and how some of them struggled to keep in touch, and never gave up trying to communicate and come together. I couldn’t help but think that we all could use more of that – face-to-face time in small groups of people who believe differently, moderated so no one group can gang up on the other, with exercises that make us admit to/acknowledge the “human-ness” of the people on the other side of the wall, so to speak.

Kids need this. All kids, in my opinion. These were teens when they started, and I think that’s the perfect time to really instill that respect for other humans, especially those who disagree with our personal beliefs/philosophies.

I have more to say on the matter, but will wait until I can distill it into a less chaotic set of thoughts in my own head and give it a separate post. The documentary really made me think though, and gave me hope for future generations even in the midst of such unrest. I’m glad I got distracted by it, even if it did make this post late.

The Plan
Sneaking in one more section here – I’ve been seriously slacking lately. Too much unproductive time, which just leads to more unproductive time and less productive thinking. It’s a bad downward spiral that I really want to spin the other way. So I’m working on not just being more productive this week, but also giving certain projects less time. Which sounds counter-productive, but the less time I have to work on something, the more focused I am while I’m working on it and in a lot of cases, I get more done because of that.

So the hope is to get more done on the projects I need to get done during the week, leaving more time on the weekends for stuff I do just for enjoyment (without the guilt). Call it an experiment. Hopefully a productive one…


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Gone to the Dogs: Behold the Gates of Hell

Innocent1

Murphy sez: I had no idea that the entrance to the underworld was right at our front door, but last Sunday, this guy I’d never met before walked right in (J let him!), and the next thing I know, Mica and me were squaring off over who got to get petted first. At least I think that’s what we were fighting over. Hard to say, since I was so excited and all.

Mica sez: That human is really fun. He loves us dogs, and he’s got a loud voice, and he’s mine. I don’t know why you had to horn in on my fun. I mean, he always makes me sit, but it’s okay, ‘cuz I like him. You were all hoppy and excited, I was jumpy and excited, the entryway is kinda small…

Murphy sez: Yeah, but I’m top dog around here – we already agreed about that. We don’t fight about anything else, so this is stupid. Also, I like humans. And treats. We could share, I guess. But I get to be the greeting committee. It’s my job.

Mica sez: Yeah, well, doesn’t look like either of us is gonna get to do that for awhile, since we had to go another round on Wednesday. It’s not like we knew the mailman was just dropping off a package – he knocked, I thought he was coming in. And greeting should be my job, dang it. It’s been my job for years. Why do you gotta ruin everything?

J sez: Simmer down, boys. You’re both done being hooligans. You’ll either learn to behave when someone knocks, or you’ll learn to kennel up. I’d prefer the whole behaving like civil dogs option myself, but I’m not above crating if need be. Either way, you’ve both got a weekend of intense training ahead. Murphy needs to meet my parents, since they take care of you guys when we’re gone.

I can just about reach 'em...

The infamous gate. And new bowl of treats. I can just about reach ’em…

Murphy sez: Well that sounds ominous. We’ll be good, right Mica? I like meeting new people. Or it seems like fun, anyways. Unless we’re walking. I don’t much care for people interrupting our walks. Can’t they see we’re busy patrolling? It’s serious business.

Mica sez: I’ll consider behaving. The flower stuff J gave me for “calming” kind has me way mellow right now. I think she overdid it. That, or all these sore muscles from rumblin’ with you. I’m not a youngster anymore, Murph. Dang it.

Murphy sez: Me neither, but I have good joint supplements. J should get you some without fish, so you can have some too. That ter-mer-ik seems to be helping though. Good thing she gave you extra last night. She gave me some new flower stuff too – I kinda like it, but too soon to tell if it’s gonna help me with weird noises or not like it’s supposed to. Whatever. It tastes good, anyways.

Mica sez: It’s kind of ironic that we got into a fight when the mailman brought us calm-down stuff. He was probably glad J didn’t get a chance to open the door until he was gone. I don’t think the guy from Sunday will be back anytime soon either. B said we sort of traumatized him with all our yelling. If he does come back, I think he should give us treats.

Murphy sez: I do love treats – yum! I wonder if I could knock that new treat bowl off the shelf by the front gate. I know J put it there to reward us for being nice when we’re in that area together, but it’s not really *that* high up…

Mica sez: Hey Murph – do you realize you’ve been here three weeks now? I kinda thought you were just here for a visit. But seems like you’ll be staying, eh?

Murphy sez: Yeah, I think I live here now. Maybe that’s why we’re both a bit on edge with the door thing. I mean, everyone’s polite while they’re just visiting (or entertaining guests) right? Decide to move in together, and pretty soon you’re wandering around without your socks and chewing each other’s raw bones. Don’t even get me started on bedhead…

Mica sez: *sigh* Neither of us have enough hair for bedhead, Murphy. You’re getting loopy….

CozySnoozin


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to Murphy & Mica’s favorite charities – the shelters that helped them when they needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets

On Mold, Health & Charity

So I went to taste my new jars of sauerkraut last Wednesday and…they smelled like mold. Dammit. I knew it was a risk, because I was using cabbage that had been in the fridge for a few weeks, but I had hoped I’d gotten to it soon enough. Not so, apparently. I tossed those jars out, and bought a couple more heads of cabbage, and will try again one night this week.

No, I’m not giving up. Homemade sauerkraut is good stuff, and good for you – it’s got a lot of great vitamins & probiotics. I also bought carrots and fresh garlic – the very first batch I made included both, and was really fabulous (though the hubby wasn’t fond of the garlic). I plan to start two jars again – one with carrots/garlic, and one just plain. Fingers crossed…

Ironically enough, as I sit here typing late Sunday night, I’m not sipping my normal cup of green tea to go with my standard late-night yogurt/granola/maple syrup snack. No, tonight I have a glass of grape soda at my side, and I’m savoring every sip. Made with cane sugar, of course – because I’d like to breathe when I go to sleep tonight, and corn syrup does really bad things to my sinuses anymore. I used to be able to handle it just fine, but the healthier my diet’s become, the more I pay for the decision to have a standard glass of pop while I’m out and about (I buy Mexican Coke for that occasional at-home craving…made with cane sugar, so no allergy issues).

Truth be told, I really don’t even crave soda much anymore. I’ve been substituting with tea and water and the occasional pineapple juice for so long that one glass of pop will kill the craving for weeks before I want another “hit”. Which is pretty good considering I started drinking pop several times a day before I even hit high school, and kept that habit up until a good year or so after I graduated college.

Thing is, I’m highly motivated to avoid change and inconvenience – both for myself and to avoid creating it for other people. So the cancer avoidance thing is big with me. Obviously.

Last weekend I started making something called “Golden Paste” (seriously – they couldn’t just call it “Turmeric Paste”?) for the dogs. Murphy has a big open wound under the legging he wears most of the time, and I wanted to see if giving him turmeric with his meals would help that to heal faster. Turmeric needs oil and black pepper to be bioavailable, so golden paste is basically just turmeric cooked to a paste in water, and then blended with oil (I use coconut, because – healthy!) and black pepper. I started giving it to the dogs morning and night, and they both seem to be doing really well on it. Murphy’s wound seems to be healing faster – though I’ve tried several other things that I think might be helping to speed that along. I even put turmeric paste right on the wound for a night. It looked much better after that – and a honey/turmeric paste treatment this weekend seemed to hurry the healing up a bit as well.

In any case, turmeric is supposed to be good for a variety of healthy things for humans as well, and one common way to use golden paste for humans is to make “golden milk” (which sounds even worse, I know – seriously, what is *wrong* with just saying “turmeric”?!). Basically, a little golden paste mixed with warm milk and honey. I find it very tasty, and have been drinking just a small cup before bed. I have no idea if it’s doing anything good or not, but I enjoy that little treat while I’m reading before bed, and if it is doing anything good for my insides, all the better.

And that just got me thinking about which mugs I use, which makes me think about my teacups, and how I’m planning to do a post on the meaning of cups soon. Memo to self…

I did manage to get the taxes done this weekend too, and when Turbo Tax asked me about charitable contributions, it made me stop and think for a good long minute. I used to be good about donating here and there as money allowed, but I’ve been pretty tight with things lately. Maybe it’s time to loosen the purse strings a bit, and reinstate that zoo membership, and buy an art museum membership, and set up that ongoing contribution to our local PBS station. I’ll be paying off our second mortgage in another couple of months, so no reason not to put a little cash back into the community, eh?

In that same vein, I’m going to set up some donation links on the Friday Gone to the Dogs posts. People who like the posts and feel like doing so can toss a tip to the charity of either Mica or Murphy’s choice – the shelters that helped them both out when they needed a safe place to stay. Maybe we can give back a little that way too.

Now it’s time to go make my turmeric milk, crawl into bed, and continue reading The Skin Collector by Jeffery Deaver. Interesting stuff. Especially for those of us who are tattooed…