Thoughts on Costumes

It’s so easy to decide what you want to be for Halloween when you’re a kid. Your favorite super hero or cartoon character. Whatever you want to be when you grow up. Whatever bright outfit that catches your eye and is cheap enough for mom to say “yes” too…or a lion, tiger or bear – oh my!

Then you grow up, and you start attaching way too much meaning to the whole concept of “dressing up” as someone other than yourself. Because as an adult, you actually *have* a sense of self, and that sense is naturally kind of weirded out by the fact that you want to be someone else for a night (or maybe that’s just me).

Plus, there are contests. Prizes to win. Other people to impress. It’s a thing. So much more than just school parties and trick-or-treating…and (again, this might just be me), when you get to a certain age, the “slutty-anything-you-can-think-of” costume no longer works with the not-so-beach-body you’re sporting. Besides, low-cut shirts and high-cut skirts are just cold and a pain in the butt, IMO. So basically, my lazy streak is showing again.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my husband and I are dressing up this year. Not for Halloween night – it’s too much to set up the yard haunt and get ourselves dressed in something other than jeans and haunt-watching clothes, normally. But we’re going to a masquerade party at one of our local art museums next Saturday night, and have been sort of agonizing over costumes ever since. There are prizes, of course – and prizes, and we’re totally overthinking it and probably won’t have our costumes sorted until next Friday.

Next Saturday before we go, we need to raise the walls on the infrastructure of our yard haunt, so…yeah. We’ve got this procrastination thing down to a science.

In any case, here are some of the ideas we’ve kicked around:

Alice & the Rabbit (or Mad Hatter)
Little Red Riding Hood & The Big Bad Wolf
American Gothic (the painting)
A Cloud & the Rain

Nothing is quite “gelling” just yet, but we’ll keep looking. It’s been several years since we had a party, and we always dressed up for those. We just need to figure out a personal “theme” of some sort. I lean towards movies and books, he’s leaning towards paintings.

Anyone got any ideas for us? Feel free to jump in…or better yet, tell me what you’re going to dress up as (or what you dressed up as the last time you wore a costume)!

A Writing Jump-Start Day

Happy Columbus or Indigenous People’s Day (whichever you prefer) to my US readers, and Happy Thanksgiving to our northern neighbors!

Whatever you call it, today is a federal holiday here in the states, which means I’m at home on my comfy couch (yes, Mica finally got up, for those of you who saw the pic I posted on social media sites this morning), and I fully plan to use the whole day for writing/writing-related “stuff”.

It’s unbelievably difficult to reclaim a daily writing habit once you let it drop. Or it has been for me, anyways. It’s been nearly a year since I wrote with any kind of regularity (or made much progress on any of my drafts, and I hate that. Nearly everything I’ve allowed to get in the way has been self-inflicted (aside from the dog health problems we had to deal with last year), and it’s time to just get out of my own way and get back to work.

I’ve decided that no matter what happens in the interim (lots of daily writing, hopefully), all remaining federal holidays this year (aside from the two that require family dinners) will be reserved expressly for writing. I suffer from a lot of self-doubt that I’ve allowed to seriously derail me for far too long, but the thing about being bad at something (or even perceiving you’re bad at something) is that the only way to get better is to…you know…work at it.

There was a line on a TV show I watched last night (won’t name the show, so as not to give spoilers) that really hit home for me with regards to writing fiction. I can’t quote it verbatim, but the basic gist is that a good story doesn’t need to tell people who they are – most people already have a decent idea of who they are. Rather, a good story shows people who they *could be*, if only for a little while, in an alternate universe. I’m still mulling over all the implications of that, but it’s a good thing to consider for any writer, methinks.

As for today’s plan, my morning will be dedicated to going through the first manuscript in a new kid’s series I’ve started (not published yet) and writing up a very rough outline plus some notes on character & storyline details so I can move on with the second book and have those notes to refer to in order to keep the timeline & details correct. More details on that process will be on tomorrow’s writing blog.

This afternoon will be all about new words. Probably not all in the same draft, but I’d like to get around 3k words in, which should be enough to get my head back into a few stories again so I can continue working on them throughout the week.

It’s gonna be a good day…

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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


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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Swirly Thoughts

So many topics to choose from given last week’s more-social-than-normal obligations, and as I sit here late Sunday night trying to convince myself that I should have written this post earlier instead of watching that movie, I’m having a hard time deciding what to blog about. Writers of all kinds are often asked how they get their ideas, and the answer is always the same – ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere. The trouble comes in distilling them down and deciding which are actually worth pursuing, and which to leave lying about for someone else to pick up as they go by.

The issue of appearances came up several times last week in a few different contexts, and that always makes me think. How we present ourselves both physically and intellectually is something I’ve been fascinated with since I was very young, and social conventions regarding that topic are varied and complex enough to analyze for years.

And then there’s entertainment and media, which I partook rather lavishly in last week (and enjoyed every minute of it). So much food for thought, both on screen and in print…it was a very creatively rich week, and inspiring as well.

There’s also the fact that I started using my Alphasmart Neo to write with again, and started a brand new romance draft that I feel really good about, and also really odd about, but the important part is, I’m writing again, regularly, and I really, really want to keep that going because I love it.

I hired a part-time promotor for Brazen Snake Books this weekend on a trial basis, which includes a whole lot of mental conflict on my part but also some extraordinarily long-term planning, which is not something I do well or often. But neither is promotion, and I’m already seeing good things happening in that arena, so I’m anxious to see what she can do for both myself and Carol, my best buddy and the other writer who publishes under the BSB umbrella.

That got me thinking about longer-term plans for writing, my pen names, the BSB business, and my day job too. Not conflict, necessarily, just potential progressions of work and life.

Friday was tattoo day, and not just because I finally got the grasshopper/ladybug tattoo I’ve been wanting for the last few months, which took care of the last large open space on my lower left arm. I thought a lot about coverage and perception and appearances (see above) and living in the moment rather than in the future, and my next appointment (which I made after Friday’s tattoo was done).

There’s a lot going on in my head, obviously – which isn’t a bad thing. And I’m not stressed, which is odd, frankly. Normally having this much swirling around at once would be pushing me close to the edge, but I’m surprisingly relaxed. Hopefully I can keep it that way.

Next week, I’ll tease out a topic to go into more depth on. For this week, I’m content to let ’em swirl around unfettered in my brain for awhile yet. They’ll eventually sort themselves out, I’m sure.

This Noisy World

This past Saturday morning I went out to clean up the yard a bit, as I occasionally do. At first, it was cool, quiet and peaceful, and I love being outside when it’s like that. But it never seems to last for long, and as usual, pretty soon I was hearing chain saws, yard trimmers, nail guns, and the occasional motorcycle and loud car driving past.

I can’t adequately describe the effect the sound of a power tool has on my psyche. It’s very close to the quintessential “nails-on-a-chalkboard” analogy. My muscles tighten, my teeth want to grind, and all I can think about is how to get away from the noise. If I’m ready for it, and I know it’s necessary for something we’re working on, I can handle it, but just random neighborhood noise that never, ever seems to quit as long as there’s daylight…it makes me want to move to that oft-romanticized cabin-in-the-woods.

It seems like lately this is an ongoing thing, on the weekends at least. I understand on a practical level – it’s cooler in the mornings, and people need to get things done, but at the same time, I just…want quiet. I want to be able to go out on the back patio, drink my tea, and enjoy the (late) morning without having to listen to machinery constantly grinding at my brain.

The majority of humans do seem to lean toward the “noisy” side of things. I know a great many people who cannot sit in a quiet room for too long without doing something to break the silence. As I write this, my dogs are snoozing and I’m in my quiet living room, the only noise is my fingers tapping across the keyboard…which is how I prefer things to be, perhaps without the occasional shout/yell from the neighbor kids playing in the yard. There is no radio on, no TV, it’s just…quiet. Which is exactly what my introverted little self needs to rest and recharge.

But after I pegged humans as the noisiest living beings on earth, I realized that wasn’t true at all. Nature is not “quiet” either. There are generally always birds chirping, squirrels chattering, other animals talking to each other incessantly (and probably driving other animal-introverts insane). Add to that rushing rivers, waves lapping at beaches, trees blowing in the breeze, grasses rustling, insects buzzing, and wind itself howling along as a merry backdrop to the whole thing. It can actually get quite cacophonous at times, especially when you add in mating seasons and migratory patterns.

Natural noise doesn’t bother me nearly as much as a lot of man-made noise though. I don’t know why.

I was born in the winter, when the natural soundtrack to life is quieter overall, both in the city and out. Snow crunches, ice cracks, cars are out for as little time as possible and people are huddled inside staying warm. For the most part, things are quieter, more muffled. There is no outside construction, no lawn care, no bending nature to our will (okay, the occasional snow-blower or shovel, but it’s as quick as possible, because everyone just wants to go get warm again). And I wonder sometimes if that contributed to why I am the way I am…that is, why I prefer quiet…silence, even, to the hustle and bustle of a summer cityscape.

I do like music, of course, and I like to watch TV, and videos, and I even like a good party here and there. I just wish it was easier to find these quiet times in which to think and recharge and even get things done. I am vastly more productive in a dead quiet environment – and I realize I am in a severe minority on that particular point.

Maybe someday, perhaps when I retire, I’ll be able to live somewhere quieter. Somewhere slower, where maybe new construction and perfectly manicured lawns aren’t the most important weekend activities to complete.

And then I’ll have something different to complain about. Like the fact that the nearest pizza place is a hundred miles away…

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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.


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”:


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.


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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“Pretty-Shinys” and Crow-Like Behavior

Luckily for me, crows are also very smart birds, so comparing myself to one isn’t completely derogatory. But my love of bright, shiny things is a serious issue sometimes. I have such a hard time resisting the pull…

I’ve been lusting after the new Samsung Galaxy Note 7 ever since pictures started to leak months ago. For those who don’t know, I’ve been using a Galaxy Note 3 as a data-only device since shortly after my beloved Palm Pilots went obsolete (I had a brief dalliance with a small tablet, but the pocket-sized format is just so much more portable). In order to “hack” the cell system and get data-only, I got a Verizon Jetpack Hotspot from Amazon with a data plan, and once it was activated, I put the sim card into my Note 3. Voila! Data only cell connection. Works great!

Why data only? Because I’m not all that fond of phone conversations, and I don’t want people calling me when I’m out and about and expecting me to…you know…answer. It’s odd, but when you have a landline and don’t answer, people just assume that you’re out or busy. If you have a cell and don’t answer, they tend to take it more personally. Stupid, but true.

I do respond to texts and Facebook messages pretty quickly for the most part. So it’s not like I’m a total miscreant when it comes to being accessible.

In any case, Samsung’s devices are not cheap, and while I bought my Note 3 outright (an unlocked version used off Swappa), I didn’t really want to spend nearly $1k up front for a new Note 7. Since I have no plans to leave Verizon anytime soon (very reliable around here, though expensive), I figured I’d just buy the Note 7 from them on a monthly plan, and add it to my current data-only plan.

Alas, Verizon is too smart for that, and they would not let me buy the phone without “upgrading” to a new smartphone plan. Dang it. But the pull of the shiny was too strong to resist, and after talking myself through the logic that I could just turn off the call ringtone and not answer actual phone calls (unless I really, really need to for some reason), I went ahead and capitulated like the gadget-loving-crow I am. *sigh*

I figured I could at least keep the data-only plan for my old Note 3, and give that to my husband so he’ll have data and texting too. But Verizon was not playing around, and they went ahead and just upgraded my current sim card to a secondary smartphone line (probably because it was in my Note 3 – I should have put it back in the JetPack before starting this process). So now I have (or I will, when my Note 7 gets here next week) two smartphones with unlimited talk (which will be severely underused, given how little my husband and I actually use the phone) and text (which I’ll use, but I doubt my husband will much, if at all), and 4 GB of shared data for about double what I was paying before with data-only.

And all I really wanted was two smartphones with data-only (texting with Google works just fine for free). I don’t understand why that’s so difficult. No different than a wifi hotspot. Though now both phones do work for that too, which will be handy when Charter goes out here at the house (handier than having to take the sim card out of the cell and put it back in the hotspot, I mean).

I suppose I could call my hair stylist again to set up appointments if I want. Her cell number is her only phone, and it’s long distance, which I don’t carry on our landline (because we never need it). But texting her works well enough, so I’ll probably continue doing that.

I wonder if I can set up specific ringtones just for a few numbers, and then have all the rest silent? Anyone who uses a cell phone know? Immediate family and a couple people at work are really the only people who might ever need to get a hold of me while I’m out and about. I could set ringtones for them (those would be rare calls anyways), silence everyone else, and have the best of both worlds.

In any case, I will soon have a lovely new Blue Coral Galaxy Note 7, and it will be useful in all the ways my Note 3 is now for organization, email and internet “stuff”, and it will have an even better camera, and improved note/stylus functions, and those are the most important things to me. Exciting, I tell ya. So shiny it almost hurts. 🙂

It’s too bad I’m not fond of reading on a backlit screen, because the Note 7 curved edges would provide a nice frame for e-reading. Maybe I’ll try it again. I have a kindle backlog like you wouldn’t believe, because I’ve been reading predominantly print lately.

Is there really anything more fun than new gadgetry?

Tattoos may be a close second…and I have an appointment for two more smallish ones coming up this Saturday. So that will be fun too. Pictures next week…

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Mood Management & Skin-Tight Capris

I’m pretty sure Keith Richards’ lost love was at MontanaFair this weekend.

Let me back up a bit, and I’ll explain.

I was in a pretty serious funk on Sunday…later I figured out it was probably because hubby and I went out for dinner Saturday night, tried to go see the comedian who was here for the fair, got there too late to find parking and went back home, completely forgetting to take the supplements we normally take with dinner. Yes, I realize supplements are controversial, and it was quite some time before I even talked myself into taking a multi-vitamin. But after experimenting a lot on myself, and helping my husband experiment as well, it’s pretty unmistakable that the ones we take do have a very positive effect on our daily lives, and our moods as well.

It’s actually kind of disconcerting, but without my Super B complex and fish oil, I’m an anxiety-ridden mess who can’t focus to save her life. Scary, but true. Skip one day, and I’m merely a grump. I know this because I’ve run out before, and had to go without for various periods of time. Disconcerting, as I said – in an apocalypse situation, I’d be a much less pleasant person to be around in just a week due to the lack of supplements readily available.

So, there I am on Sunday afternoon, limping through the day on less supplementation and less sleep than I should, walking the fairgrounds with my hubby before the concert starts, thankful the crowds weren’t that bad.

That’s when we saw her.

A character so perfect that if I wrote her, no one would find her even remotely believable. And yet, there she was, in the pasty-white wrinkled flesh.

She had to be at least 70 (I’m guessing older), all skin and tiny bones with long, wavy white hair and a thickly-lined expression that said she didn’t care, and she never had cared what anyone thought of her or her choices. Two long, bony fingers held a smoking cigarette that hung down at her side, but it was her choice of clothing that really said more than anything else.

At an age when most people would give up on zippers and anything remotely snug, this lady was wearing skin-tight shiny black capris with white rock-n-roll style crosses on the front of each thigh. And up top, a black tank with more rock-n-roll motifs. I didn’t notice any tattoos, but they certainly wouldn’t have been out of place. And if it hadn’t been rude, I’d have looked closer and snapped a pic, because she is everything I want to be, as far as attitude goes.

Seeing her made my whole day and snapped me right out of my funk – because *that* is how we should all approach life. She was rocking those rock-n-roll groupie clothes, and she clearly didn’t care what anyone else thought about it either. She didn’t let age hold her back, and she is who she is, even after all these years.

And if she’s single, and Keith Richards is looking, I doubt he’ll find a better match…though I dare say she’s probably not always that easy to handle.

In any case, we got some fair food, got confused as to what happened to the main exhibits we normally see (some of which we never even saw), and enjoyed the Theory of a Deadman/3 Doors Down concert even though the sound sucked where we were sitting. Murphy did fine in his cone for the extra time we needed him too (poor thing), and I got home in time to finish the laundry and get this post written/posted before bed.

All in all, not a bad weekend, if it was a little chaotic. I tell you what though – seeing that lady at the fair made everything that led up to us being at that exact spot on that exact day and time was totally and completely worth it. It was one of those pivotal moments in life that sticks with you forever…in the best possible way.

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Elwood & The Art of Naming Things

Elwood the Horned Lizard <br>(still a bit swollen)

        Elwood the Horned Lizard               

Saturday was a pretty fun day (which was nice, considering last week felt like it was never gonna end). Hubby and I dropped in at a retirement party, and then I went straight from there to an appointment with the guy who does my tattoos, where “Elwood” was “born”. He’s a horned-lizard, colloquially called a “horny toad” (I’ve no idea why – they look nothing like toads), and like Charlie, the rattlesnake just opposite him on that wrist, his species is native to Montana.

Yes, I name my animal tattoos. Well, the ones that don’t already have names, anyways. I mean, my skunk isn’t just any skunk, he’s Pepe le Pew. But the snake on my ankle (the BSB logo snake) is named Erwin, the one on my shoulder is George, and the one on my wrist is Charlie.



I kept looking at my new lizard all weekend and thinking he was just so adorably plump (ahem), and the name Elwood just jumped out at me and stuck. Which is way better, in my opinion, than my buddy Carol’s idea of Sam. As in, Yosemite. Sheesh. No. Just no.

I have another appointment on the 27th to get a grasshopper and a barn spider on that same forearm (workin’ my way around), and those two already have names. But I’m not telling yet, because I might do a “guess the name” contest when they are done. I’m still trying to work out what to give away for that. I kind of think I need to come up with a tattoo story (yes, I already have several ideas – ideas are never in short supply around here).

In any case, Elwood, Erwin & Charlie are not named after or for anyone. Those particular names just seemed to fit the images in some way or another. I thought Erwin sounded somewhat “old school literary”, which is a great thing for the Brazen Snake Books mascot, eh? Charlie…well, Charlie is beautiful but deadly, and the name seems to portray that in a sort of “harmless-until-provoked” sort of thing for me.



Elwood…well, it just feels kind of antique and a little bit sneaky but mostly harmless and easy-going, as long as his daily routine isn’t interrupted. Which reminds me of someone, but not an Elwood. Who could that possibly be, I wonder? 😉

George is named for my husband, and I think he was a bit tickled by it, actually. I’d post a pic, but he’s on my shoulder blade and I don’t have the energy to try to bendy-twisty enough to get a decent photo. Maybe next time.

And no, I have no names actually tattooed in my skin, nor will I ever do that. Not my thing.

It’s funny, because I was thinking about names and naming things and characters after Elwood’s name came to me, and it’s odd how much perception can be skewed or manipulated merely by choosing one name over the other. Names tend to evoke a sort of emotional, pre-loaded response to the person on the other end for many of us, which is probably why some people have such a hard time naming babies and pets. Naming (or re-naming, as I usually do) a dog is no small feat. It requires days, sometimes weeks of thought, and about a dozen side-eyed looks at the husband for tossing out absolutely absurd options (as men generally do).

One of the few things that really gives me pause at the start of writing any story is…character names. Because the reader is going to have all these built-in perceptions of a person depending on what their name is, which makes it a vital early piece of information. But it’s not just for the reader – it’s for me too. Because I also have a whole bunch of perceptions attached to any number of names, not even based on who I may have met before, but also on how the name sounds and “feels” when I speak or hear it. And since I don’t consciously “write” my characters…I more just watch them live and transcribe that, the name gives me a whole bunch of information about the character too. Even better if that information turns out to be wrong later in the story…character twist!

Names are important, and have long-term implications. Isn’t that the oddest thing? But if you think about it, it really is true.

Now…about that redhead named Sam in a cowboy hat. I wonder if she’d be the tattooer, or the client? I think I might write her story and find out. Thanks a lot, Carol. There’s another book in my to-be-written queue… *sigh*