Monday Musings: On Toe Blisters, Broken Nails & Fly Dreams…

Part of why I love Montana...

Part of why I love Montana…

No, I don’t have a cohesive essay to post this week – sorry. With last week’s insane cleaning “binge”, a couple busy work days, another day of cleaning “off schedule”, and then a day trip for a family reunion, my mind is pretty much ruined for the time being, and could use some serious recovery time.

It’s both a blessing and a curse being as routine-driven as I am. A blessing because even when I’m not terribly productive, I still get what needs to be done, done. A curse because when I get out of my routines for even a day, it messes with my head until I’m back on track again. Being out of my normal routines for the whole of the past week and a half has me pretty seriously discombobulated, and my thinking patterns are a chaotic mess. When I get like this, I have a hard time focusing on any one thing for very long…it’s like I have a short-circuit somewhere that needs to heal before I can do…stuff again.

As an example, just writing this much, I’ve stopped several times and had to reorient myself due to just losing focus (and it’s not like there’s anything to distract me at the moment). It’ll probably be a few days before I’m back to normal again, which is frustrating.

In any case, a few odd things I’m dealing with this week, as per the title, for your amusement and/or boredom:

I managed to blister the very tips of the toes on my right foot while sitting in the car on our day trip out of town Sunday. I have no idea how I did that, but I had socks and tennis shoes on, and the only thing I can think of is that I had my feet shoved under my crochet bag and around my purse on the floor of the car. There must have been more vibration than I thought? In any case, it’s a very weird thing, since it’s not the bottoms of my toes or the top, but the very tips just under the nail. Crazy.

Also, I managed to either break or badly damage most of my fingernails in last week’s cleaning spree. When I finally got to a manicure this past Sat. night, the only way to fix the mangled ones was to cut them off as short as possible (due to having long, thick nails most of the time, this means a couple millimeters above the actual finger…my tissue grows out that far to support the normal length). This means I’m typing on my fingertips rather than my nails this week, and if you ladies have ever had long nails and gotten used to typing on them, you know how painful and weird it is to suddenly have no nails and feel the keys under the pads of your fingers. It takes a few days to get past that initial over-sensitivity to where typing is comfortable again. And then the reach is different too, so I keep mistyping just because I don’t reach far enough to the key I need…frustrating.

As for the fly dreams…yes, I had a dream about flies the other night. There were five or six flying around my head, and no matter how much I swatted at them or moved or tried to get away, they kept buzzing me, annoying the crap out of me. It seemed to go on forever, and I was actually glad when the alarm clock went off and woke me up. I suppose I could look for some deeper meaning there, but frankly, I don’t have the mental energy. I’m going to go with the theory that it’s because we have a couple flies in the house, and maybe they were bugging me in my sleep. Simple works, right?

And that’s all I’ve got for now. Blistered toes, sore fingers, and flies in my head. I think it’s safe to say it can only get better from here, right?


 

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Serial Story: Under His Wing, Part 29

This story is presented weekly in draft
(unedited) form. Each installment is available for one week until the
next is posted. Miss one? Email me, and I’ll hook you up. Enjoy!


Dunning Manor, Book 1

Under His Wing
Part 29

Peter’s car was the only one in the lot when Katie parked on the street a couple buildings away. It would make saying what she had to say easier, but it was scary too, considering she needed to go in without Thomas so Peter would feel like he was in control of the situation.

She had to convince him to meet her at the site in the woods that they’d set up – the sooner, the better.

“Wait,” Thomas said when she reached for the car door. “I have something for you.” He pulled a large tiger-eye pendant out of a pocket, hanging from a thick dark silver chain.

“Wear this. It will protect you when I can’t.” He held the chain in both hands and she ducked her head so he could put it on. She felt the weight of the stone settle over her heart, and an almost electric buzz settled under her skin, like a force field of sorts.

“It tingles,” she said, rubbing the smooth stone between her fingers as she held it up for a closer look.

He nodded. “Druid magic. You have the instructions for him?”

“Right here.” She retrieved the piece of paper from her purse and waved it at him.

“Then go. Call out if you need me, and I’ll get to you as fast as I can. The amulet will protect you until then.”

She opened the car door, and then at the last minute turned back and grabbed the collar of Thomas’s shirt, pulling him in for a quick, hard kiss. Surprised as he was, he kissed her back, and she smiled as she pulled away.

“For luck,” she murmured, and then got out of the car and strode toward the garage, hoping she looked more confident than she felt.

The bell above the door rang loud as she let herself in, and she could see Peter bent under an open hood in the first bay of the work space. Her skin crawled as she approached him, and the amulet grew warmer against her heart, a reassuring sensation.

Peter stood, a grin spreading across his lips as he recognized her, and he wiped ineffectively at the grease on his hands with a red rag.

“Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in. Need a lube job, sweetheart? You know I’m happy to service you for free anytime.”

Katie fought back the gag reflex and tried to stay focused on the reason she’d come.

“Are you still interested in using me for your artwork?” She cocked her head to the side, doing her best to look curious rather than repulsed. Holding out the piece of paper, she watched the interest flare in his eyes as he took it from her.

“What’s this?” He opened it and scanned the contents, then met her gaze again. “Directions?”

She nodded. “I have something set up for us there. A gift, of sorts. Will you meet me later tonight?”

Peter frowned. “What about your new boy-toy? He doesn’t seem to like me much…”

Katie shrugged. “He’s out of the picture. This is just…us. Will you come?”

Peter chuckled. “Sure. But if you want to make art, darlin’, we don’t have to wait. In fact, let me show you something over here.” He moved away, deeper into the double bay of the garage, and she followed, keeping her distance from him. When he stopped next to one of the oil pumps, she stayed back several feet, knowing it was folly to trust him.

Holding the pump in one hand, he took a lighter out of his pocket with the other, and smiled, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Watch this.”

Squeezing the handle, he started dispensing oil onto the cement floor between them, and then he flicked the lighter to life, setting the oil stream on fire.

The burst was so hot it forced Katie backwards, and she teetered on the edge of the second work pit before catching her balance as Peter laughed. He swirled the oil-fed flames around in patterns, looking as comfortable as a gymnast with a ribbon as Katie slowly backed toward the exit.

“Leaving so soon, Katie-girl? But we’re only getting started!”

“Meet me tonight,” she called out above the roar of the flames. And then she pushed out the door and ran all the way back to the car.

Sweating from heat and nerves, she slid behind the wheel and peeled away from the curb, needing to put as much distance between that monster and herself as quickly as possible. She could feel Thomas staring.

“Is he coming tonight?” Thomas asked, the calm tone of his voice helping to calm her own nerves.


She nodded. “He’ll be there.”


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Serial Story: MacKenzie Saves the World, Part 18

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) format. Each new installment will replace
the one before. If you get behind, email me and I’ll hook you up with the missing chapters!


“Fight Water with Fire” – Part 18

Fifteen minutes later, MacKenzie wasn’t sure what to say. Sitting outside Josh’s place, she want over all the things she wanted to tell him, but nothing sounded right in her head.

Probably because the only thing she really wanted to say was that she loved him, and wanted him back.

She rubbed a hand down the side of her face and then got her wallet out of her purse. The amount she could spare was paltry, but it would have to do as a token amount. She just had to stay strong, and not take no as an answer.

Getting out of the car, she closed the door and went up the front walk, hesitating only a moment before she knocked on the door. Footsteps on the other side made her pulse race even faster and she prayed she wouldn’t do…or say anything too stupid.

The door swung open and Kenzie opened her mouth, only to close it again with a frown.

“Can I help you?”

The woman was tall, even taller in four-inch spike heels, and dressed for a night on the town in a slim black sheath. Her blond hair was piled on top of her head in a way that would have just looked messy on Kenzie, but managed to look sexily tousled on this woman with a few ringlets just casually hanging down here and there.

Her complexion was flawless – the makeup, no doubt since no one was naturally that perfect. Her smile was sincere and patient, her eyes annoyingly intelligent.

MacKenzie blew her hair out of her eyes with a puff from her lips, knowing instinctively that she’d lost this battle before it even started. Of course he wouldn’t just wait around for her. A strong, attractive, well-off man like Josh could land any beauty he wanted, and this woman looked like some gorgeous executive who’d just happened to do a little modeling for spare change in college.

In MacKenzie’s experience, brains could sometimes best beauty, but it was impossible to beat the full package. The blond was talking again, and she chided herself to pay attention. Give Josh the money, let him know she’d pay him back, and get out. That’s all she needed to do. Purely business.

“If you need to use the phone, you can borrow mine…”

Kenzie shook her head. “No thank you,” she said, relieved when her voice didn’t crack. “I actually just need to talk to Josh for a minute. Is he here?”

The woman nodded. “I’ll get him – just a moment. Can I tell him your name?”

“Tell him MacKenzie’s here.”

Leaving the door slightly ajar, the woman disappeared, and Kenzie could almost hear the clock ticking as she waited. Maybe she shouldn’t do this in person. Maybe she should just write a note, and send him the money. She couldn’t very well make a scene in front of his date…or she could, but it was one thing to yell at Josh in private, and quite another to air their dirty laundry in front of someone who looked like she’d never lost her temper in her life.

Turning away, MacKenzie went down the steps. She’d mail him his money, and a frigid little note to let him know exactly how she felt about him paying her way when they weren’t even…

“Kenzie? Did you need to see me?”

She froze at the sound of his voice behind her and took a deep breath. Frigid. She could do frigid in person, even if the mere smell of him on the breeze heated her body by several degrees.

Turning, she gave him a curt nod, and held out the bills she’d taken out of her purse.

“Yes – sorry. I’ll be quick. I can’t let you pay for the finger foods Andrea made for my re-opening. Here’s the first installment – I’ll pay you back every dime, it’s just going to take me a few months. Please don’t do that again. I don’t need your charity.”

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Monday Musings: Confessions of an Unsupervised Wife

Last Friday at noon (okay, around 11ish, but close enough), I dropped my husband off at the airport and wished him luck for the pool tournament in Las Vegas. Having taken that day off work (plus Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of this week – all the days he’ll be gone), I happily headed for the pet store to start working on my list.

What list, you say? Why, the list of all the things I might not do (or at least might think twice about doing) when my husband is available to share an opinion or “help”, of course. And no, I’m not the only wife who does this. I have it on good authority that those who don’t are few and far between. By which I mean, I’ve never met a woman who doesn’t have an agenda when her husband leaves her alone for a few days. But I digress.

I went to the pet store, and picked out all the fixin’s for a new 10 gallon aquarium (besides fish, of course). Sparing all the boring details, by the end of the night Friday I’d put together two aquarium stands (matching for either side of the entertainment center), written a serial scene for one of my blogs, and gotten the new aquarium set up on one of the stands. I’d also done several loads of laundry, doing my best to ignore how high the water bill is going to be next month.

NewAquarium

Hubby will appreciate the new stands – they’re a vast improvement on the TV trays I had in those spots before The new aquarium? Probably not so much.

Saturday morning I got up early, watered the lawns while I wrote my last scene for the week, and ran back to the pet store for fish. Brought home a betta and five cories, got them settled into their new home with “seed media” from the goldie’s tank for a quick cycle and started more laundry. Then I really dug into the *big* plan for the week: The Basement Reclamation Project.

Many months ago, hubby decided he’d reorganize the storage room. Most of our Halloween stuff was already being “staged” in the TV/workout room, but he took the rest of…everything…out of the storage room, resulting in an explosion of…stuff, everywhere. He never got around to finishing that project and I let laundry (blankets and such) and “things to be tossed” pile up in other areas, so the basement’s been largely unusable all year.

So…Saturday, I packed all the Halloween stuff back up and got it back into the storage room. Then I started going through stacks of mail (largely unopened) in the pool room resulting in four piles: trash, filing, recycling, and shredding. I got through three piles, shredded what needed shredding, and stopped for the day.

Saturday night, I had a couple friends over for wine & dessert (cheesecake!) – a nice break.

Sunday I started off by breaking down a bunch of boxes and putting them in the dumpster or recycling, as appropriate. Then I took a ton of stuff to the garbage, including a bunch of stuff my hubby probably won’t notice is gone, but wouldn’t have managed to toss himself. I finished a crochet project, sent a bunch of old printers and other electronic stuff off with my dad for reuse/recycling, fought with the sleeper sofa downstairs to get photos so I could list it on freecycle, and then went through several other boxes, putting things aside either for tossing or storing. Three more stacks of mail/papers completed the afternoon. Had to get a little regular housework in, so I vacuumed upstairs and cleaned the aquariums.

Sunday night, I had another friend over for wine/dessert (flourless chocolate cake!) – another nice break, though the dogs weren’t happy that their last meal of the day was late due to my chatting…

After she left, I started another load of laundry (only 2-3 more to go!), tried yet again not to think about the water bill, and remembered that payday is today (yay!). Got the pill/vitamin boxes restocked for Lucy & I once I remembered it was Sunday, and then sat down to get blog posts done and/or started (this one) for Monday.

This morning was rough. Could have been that I slept too long (or drank slightly more than usual last night – *ahem*), but it’s been tough getting moving. I watered the front lawn (stupid water bill), and I’m behind on nearly all my plans, but I’m not leaving the house, and no one’s coming over, so I should be able to make good headway today. What’s on the list for today? Are you sure you want to know?

(in no particular order – except this post is first)

- Get this post put up.
- Answer a couple of emails
- Email a few roofing companies to get estimates
- Finish the basement laundry (2 more loads, I think)
- Finish dealing with all mail/paper stacks downstairs
- Finish going through all boxes/”stuff” in the pool room and main basement area
- Write one or two of this week’s serial scenes

Then tomorrow:

- Get our insurance checks for the roof signed by both banks
- Buy a few mail-inbox/outbox trays for better mail flow
- Grocery shopping (skipped my normal day, since it’s just me)
- Pay bills (payday!)
- Clean up the basement bathroom so it’s usable again
- Clean out my laundry area and storage cupboards
- Organize the spot under the stairs where we store dog crates and luggage
- Hang up stuff that needs hanging (photos, posters, shadow boxes, etc.)
- Write one or two more serial scenes
- Vacuum & deodorize the basement carpet (I’m not even saying how long it’s been)
- Clean out my mail center upstairs & put new infrastructure in place (hopefully to avoid the insane pile-up of mail in the future)
- Do a manicure

Wednesday morning I’ll take out any extra garbage (Weds is garbage day), and then pick hubby up a the airport around noon. Thursday I’ll be back at work, thankful to be sitting at my desk.

Do I know how to take a vacation, or what? Movin’ right along…

Talkin’ Books: July 16, 2014

Books Finished:
None

Kindle Books In Progress:
Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips
Death, The Devil and The Goldfish by Andrew Buckley
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
Innocent Blood by James Rollins & Rebecca Cantrell

Comic Books:
None

A little less reading this week, and no comic books – what’s up with that? I’m slacking, obviously, but I have four issues of Batman Eternal waiting, so those are up next on my list…

I started Death, The Devil and The Goldfish last week, and I have to say, it’s hilarious so far, in a rather wry, dry way. If you’ve read Ford Forkum (and if you haven’t, why not?), you’ll like Andrew Buckley. It’s great lunchtime reading at the moment.

Dare to Desire was on sale, and while I was a bit dubious after reading the sample in the first Dare book, I decided to grab it anyways. So far, I’m enjoying it…it’s rather intense at times, but that’s what makes it a page turner. We’ll see how it ends up…

I’ve gotten a good start on Innocent Blood too, and…yeah. good stuff. As always. Since my husband will be gone for six days as of Friday (and I’m taking that time off work), I dare say I’ll have a bit more reading time on my hands…this one will probably go quickly in the wee hours of the morning.

So…short & sweet today, but all good books in progress. Anyone out there reading anything noteworthy at the moment?


 

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Monday Musings: On Looks, Perception, & Non-Verbal Communication…

Work Mode/Casual Mode

Work Mode/Casual Mode

I took a “selfie” this weekend…more to show off my new hat than anything else, because it’s a cool hat (in my opinion), and a rare occurrence to get a new one. And once I’d taken it, I decided to replace my current profile pic on my personal Facebook profile with it. For awhile, anyway.

Naturally, this got me thinking (as most things do). Because there’s so much more to taking a “selfie” than just point & shoot, and more yet involved in setting a profile picture. If that’s not the case for you…welcome to my over-analyze-everything brain. Yes, it’s always like this. No, I can’t turn it off.

Smile? Normal expression? Coy? Serious? Straight on? Sideways look? Tongue sticking out? 

Good grief. The whole thing makes me roll my own eyes, for cryin’ out loud. Just get over yourself, woman, and snap a damn pic. So I did.

The thing is, I’m comfortable being around people with make-up or no make-up, hair done or hat on, t-shirt & jeans or work clothes & heels. But people definitely react to me differently depending on whether I’m in work mode or casual. Part of it is who I am – when I’m in work mode with hair, makeup & the whole bit, I’ve got stricter filters (well, usually), and I’m even more reserved than normal. This serves me well for situations where productivity and working well with others is key.

When I’m in casual mode, it normally means a hat, no makeup, jeans or shorts & a t-shirt, looser personal filters and a more relaxed, easy-going vibe (as much as I ever give, anyways). This also serves me well when I’m interacting with people who are more comfortable around a more casual persona. It would not work so well at work – while it would be fine with my colleagues (I work in tech, so it’s a casual bunch), it wouldn’t keep me in the proper mindset for keeping things professional with customers & the other people in the building I work with.  A casual appearance invites people to be casual, a professional one establishes a professional boundary from the start. It’s an instinctual thing – most of the time, we don’t even realize we do it, but all of us react that way to some extent or another.

Note that when I look in the mirror on casual/work days (or even at the above photos – I took the work mode one this morning before work, just for you), the difference I see in my own appearance is subtle. The reactions I get from people used to seeing me one way or the other, but not both, are far more dramatic than I’m usually expecting, because I just don’t see a huge difference, personally. Isn’t it weird how perception works?

When I went to the comic book store the other week in “half-casual/half-work” (Friday) mode (jeans, but hair/makeup done), the poor comic store guy seemed uncomfortable, but he’s used to casual me, and my “work look” puts a wall up that doesn’t need to be there with him. He didn’t even remember my name, when he normally remembers exactly who I am. I actually felt bad for flustering him, but it’s pretty rare I have time to stop in and get my comics when I’m in work mode, so not something that will happen often. When I stopped in this weekend in normal casual mode, he called me by name right away and was his normal, helpful self.

The first time my dog’s vet saw me in work mode, he didn’t even recognize me at first. But even though he’s always a very nice, helpful, respectful guy, he was more professional with me that day than he normally is when I’m in casual mode. In that case, it was a good thing. No, it doesn’t mean I’m going to put makeup on every time I take the dogs in. I’m far too lazy for that. Just an interesting observation.

And it doesn’t make him a bad guy for reacting differently either – it’s a hard-wired, subconscious reaction, not something any of us have control over.

It’s not limited to men, either. Even the ladies who ring my groceries up at the grocery store have commented they didn’t recognize me at first when I stop in after work for something quick, because I shop on Sunday mornings, so ultra-casual mode there. A couple of them couldn’t figure out what was different until I told them (hair/makeup/clothes) – they just knew that something was definitely different. And yes, they treat me differently, to my detriment, much like the comic book store. When I’m casual, they’ll chit-chat with me while checking my order out, just being friendly. They’re much more reserved when I’m in work mode…that invisible professional boundary again. Again, a subconscious reaction on their part – I’m sure they didn’t realize they were doing it, it’s just the result of a change in perception.

What’s all this have to do with my FB profile pic? Everything, really. I normally keep my pics in “work mode” territory, because you never know who will be looking you up, and work mode doubles as “protective” mode in a bunch of relative strangers. It’s the reserved side of me with stricter filters & tighter boundaries, which I exercise more than people probably realize online, and even just seeing my own pic reminds me that I’m in “work mode” online. So to post a casual mode pic…yeah, that required some serious thought. Not because I’m self-conscious about how I look one way or the other (critically, I mean – I look like what I look like), but because it instantly removes some of those “walls” that keep people at a distance, and that’s not something to be taken lightly. I’m still not sure how long I’ll leave it like that, honestly, considering the wide swath of people I’m in contact with as well as people who might just peek at my profile here and there, even if they don’t outright friend me.

I think it’s a very powerful communication tool to take note of how people perceive us, and when it suits our purpose, to adjust accordingly. I know there’s a lot of pressure to “don’t pay attention to others” and “look how you want”, and overall, that’s a good message. But at the same time, paying attention and presenting yourself in such a way as to take advantage of a key tool in non-verbal communication just gives you more power in any social situation. And for someone like me who already sort of flounders socially, it’s good to have that confidence and control.


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Talkin’ Books: July 9, 2014

Books Finished:
Kindle Books In Progress:
Print Books in Progress:
Soon!
Comic Books:
The Amazing Spider-Man, #1.1 & #1.2
BookLove

Wanna know how I remember whether I’ve read a print book on my shelves or not? This photo is a prime example…the book I just finished, and the book I’ll be starting next. I dog-ear the pages too, because I can’t be bothered to grab one of the bazillion bookmarks I own. Incidentally, my husband has read both. He’s much easier on books than I am.

Yes, I’m far more gentle with antique books, and books with leather or other decorative bindings. But mass market paperbacks are my favorite, because we can get all cozy together and I don’t have to treat them with kid-gloves. In my mind, it’s the difference between a friend who keeps an immaculate house and makes you take your shoes off, and a friend who moves last week’s laundry out of a chair for you while their cat/dog/kid shows you their latest cool (and usually slimy) find. They each have their own charm, but given a choice, generally the latter is more comfortable for me.

In any case, I finished The Eye of God, and it’s excellent, and heartbreaking, and romantic, and exciting, and…well, if you like adventure and romance and action and save-the-world type stuff, you’ll love it. Or I did, anyways. And for such a thick book, there’s not an ounce of padding in it either.

*happy sigh*

I finished Lovers at Heart too…and I think I mentioned last week that the heroine had crossed my “TSTL” line (too stupid to live). She sort of redeemed herself, and the way the book played out was the way it had to go, I think, but…I’m still not entirely sure I enjoyed that last part as much as the rest. That doesn’t mean I’m above trying another of her books though…because I am really curious about the other characters, and this is a series, so…yeah. We’ll see how the next one goes.

Jill Shalvis is one of the few authors I’ll actually shell out more than a few bucks for her ebooks, and her latest book, Then Came You, came out last week. I may have sort of mainlined the thing over the course of a couple nights…and her books aren’t all that thin, either. And this one was awesome too, as usual…funny and heartbreaking and relevant and completely romantic (considering it’s a romance, that’s good), though I did have a bad dream after finishing it at 5am Sunday morning and going to bed, because it does involve vets working with wounded animals, and I’m a bit sensitive to that. Still, awesome book – I loved it. Can’t wait for the next one!

Not finding any romances I was really interested in on my Kindle after that, I decided to dive into something completely different with Andrew Buckley’s Death, The Devil and The Goldfish. I’m not very far along, but so far, it’s been really fun, and makes me think of Ford Forkum and his books (these two should really get together for some cross-promo!). In any case, I suspect it’s going to be a wild, unpredictable, and really funny ride.

Lastly, I caught up on issues 1.1 and 1.2 of The Amazing Spider-man, which basically just picks up his story as a teen shortly after getting bit for those of us a little rusty on the whole origin thing. Interesting, but I’m looking forward to getting back to post-Doc Ock spidey. Adults have always been more my speed.

So…lots of good reading this past week…and good stuff going forward too. Anything new and exciting on (or off) your shelves lately?


 

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Monday Musings: On Baseball, Crowd Dynamics & Apple Pie…

Billings Mustangs

The Billings Mustangs at Dehler Park in Billings, MT

Last week hubby was offered free tickets to a local baseball game, and since it was on my “get-out-and-be-more-social list” to attend a baseball game this year, away we went. I hadn’t been to the ball field since they tore down our old Cobb Field stadium, so I was curious to see the new Dehler (pronounced “dealer”) Park, and obviously I hadn’t been to a baseball game in…well, more years than I can remember. Aside from a few years in grade school when I remember proclaiming myself a Dodgers fan (not sure what I was thinking there – a California team? Really?), I’ve always found baseball kind of a boring sport to watch. Then again, I was always bored with golf until I married a golf fan, and now I watch enough that I know the main players and actually find it interesting (when I’m not rolling my eyes/yelling at the idiotic commentators, that is). I can generally enjoy nearly any sport if I know enough about it…the major exception being boxing, which I just cannot handle (turns my stomach to watch people beating the crap out of each other – and I have a pretty strong stomach…I think it’s mostly the head/facial trauma that does me in).

In any case, I wanted to give baseball another shot. It is the quintessential all-American sport, after all (don’t get me started on football – they lost me when players started switching teams every frickin’ year – and I was a Broncos fan through an insanely long losing streak and years of subsequent mocking).

Our minor league baseball team is the Billings Mustangs in the Pioneer League, and they’re a “farm team” for the Cincinnati Reds. I suppose that means if I were to watch Major League baseball, I’d be sort of obligated to be a Reds fan, eh? Except according to my husband, Pioneer League is pretty much the bottom of the barrel, so it’s a tenuous thread, and…Cincinnati, Ohio? Yeah, no. Even if they do appear to be fourth in their division. I say “appear” because I just spent far too long looking at baseball stats and rankings on the MLB site, and I’m still not completely sure I understand how it all fits together. Men say women make things too complex, but seriously…have you ever looked at how sports are “organized”?!

Incidentally, I noticed that the White Sox are playing the Red Sox tonight. Does that turn the field pink if it rains?

Yeah, yeah. I see your eyes rolling…

ANYways…back to our local ball park. It’s been unseasonably cool here, so we weren’t able to stay for the entire game, and left during the 7th inning stretch. But I have to say, I really enjoyed the whole experience, and a big part of that was just the general ambiance of the crowd. It’s the first time in a long time that the majority of people were *not* checking their cell phones every three seconds. In fact, I saw very few phones in hand, even among the teen contingent. It was refreshing. People were talking to each other, watching the game, watching kids run around (and the free-range kids really weren’t bothering anyone…no real whining or screaming, just laughing and busy), and just having a good time.

It actually made me think of my childhood. It felt like a small town rodeo crowd…something I do have a lot of experience with (when you grow up in Montana, rodeo is the prevailing live “sport” to watch). Everyone’s relaxed, laid back, and friendly. I was far more comfortable at that baseball game than I often am in a crowd these days, which was a nice change.

And for the ladies…baseball uniform pants are…thin. If you need a cheap thrill, you can probably find one on the field. Just sayin’. You’re welcome.

We had reserved seating, but we opted to sit on the general admission bleachers instead, since the actual chair-seats aren’t all that comfortable for my husband. Errant balls have a tendency to fly into the section we were assigned as well, and while I know people like to catch balls, I was just as happy to be out of the normal line of fire. We had a great view from where we ended up – both of the field and the crowd – and I was quite surprised to find myself actually enjoying the game itself, rather than being bored. I still can’t tell the difference between a good and bad pitch, but I never could, and that’s what umpires are for. For the most part, I kept up just fine, and it’s always fun to watch a local team because the whole “who to root for” question isn’t one at all – the home team is “yours”.

We had hamburgers on the company that gave us the tickets, but hubby also bought me nachos, which are my go-to concession food at any event, so that was fun. And I was actually kind of bummed we had to leave, even though my feet didn’t thaw out until several hours after we got home (and yes, I was wearing socks and tennis shoes – the first time I dug my birks out this year was July 4th). I’d like to attend once when the weather’s nice enough to stay out the whole evening comfortably.

Believe it or not, when I got home, I was actually craving apple pie. Which is totally cheesy, but it sounded like the perfect end to that particular evening. Maybe because in high school and college, that’s what we’d do after going to something fun like that – hit Perkins for pie or a chocolate chip cookie sundae, and I was already in that nostalgic frame of mind.

Not having any pie, or the wherewithal to make a pie at that hour, I settled for a cup of warm apple cider, which pretty much hit the spot. Next time, I’ll be sure to have pie at the ready. Or convince hubby to stop for some on the way home. Perkins is right across the street from the ball park, after all….


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Talkin’ Books: July 2, 2014

Books Finished:
Dare to Love by Carly Phillips

Kindle Books In Progress:
Lovers at Heart by Melissa Foster
Tatterdemon by Steve Vernon

Print Books in Progress:
The Eye of God by James Rollins

Comic Books:
Batman Eternal #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, & #10

As you can see, I’ve been working through my comic book TBR this week, and finally got caught up with all the Batman Eternal comics I have (there are two more waiting for me at the comic shop by now). The story line’s interesting, but I’ve been a bit disappointed in Batman himself. It seems like the story really centered around…well, everyone else, and he’s been sort of ancillary, although the last two issues I read seemed a bit better in that regard. I don’t know…something just seems “off”, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. We’ll see how it continues…

Dare to Love was a good read – very angsty, but in a very plausible way. I’ll be looking up the next book in the Dare series soon. I generally enjoy Carly Phillips books though…easy reading, deep characters.

I was enjoying Lovers at Heart too, until just today (um, Tuesday, that is). The main heroine just crossed into TSTL territory for me (too stupid to live), and while I’ll finish the book (I think), it feels like the story should have ended already, and now we’re headed into padding territory just to make it a longer book…which never works. Maybe it’ll get better again, or maybe her actions will become more plausible if I keep reading…

The Eye of God is really chaotic, and also really hard to put down. There are things going on in one spot with one Sigma team, different things going on with another team, new members who are dealing with diving into action, several different storylines that I’m sure will eventually converge on each other, I’m just not sure how yet…

Yeah. Last night I pulled the old “just one more chapter” line on poor hubby…and it ended up being three, of course (and I still didn’t want to put it down, and wouldn’t have except for work in the morning). *sigh* I have Friday off from the day job. I suspect Thursday night might be a late one…

This week, I have more comics to catch up on, and I dare say I’ll finish the books I’ve got going (aside from Tatterdemon), and then I have the brand new Jill Shalvis novel to start. And hubby finished with Innocent Blood by Rollins & Cantrell too, so I have that burning a hole in my nightstand as well.

Is there anything better than being surrounded by piles (digital or physical) books just waiting for their turn to be read? Maybe…but not much tops that for me…


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Monday Musings: On History, Ignorance, & a Challenge…

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I spent my 13th birthday at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Looking at that web site (something that didn’t exist back then – whoa), I don’t remember even half of the things they have now. In fact, it was a dreary January day, and we were practically the only people there. I just remember that we took a tour of the factory and bought some souvenirs in the gift shop…including that shirt I’m wearing above. This was the only photo of myself I could find from that day – flattering, no? Incidentally, after looking through my old photo stash, I’ve decided I didn’t start actually having good hair days until I grew mine out long in high school. Even then, it was iffy…but I digress (regress?).

The reason I spent that particular birthday surrounded by chocolate (ironic, since I’m not actually a huge chocolate fan), is because we happened to be living on the east coast for six months that year. My dad had a contract for computer work with a copper company out there, so my mom, sister and I packed up and drove across the country to join him. We spent half a year exploring every state within driving distance of our rental in Pasadena, Maryland (a suburb of Baltimore – or it was then, I have no idea about now). The Chesapeake Bay was quite literally right in our backyard…which was a lot of water to someone from a landlocked state. Honestly, the only thing I really remember about the water was that it smelled bad.

It was during our time there that American revolutionary history really came alive for me. My sister and I were homeschooled, so we didn’t have the limitations of being in a classroom all week. So once or twice a week while my dad was working, Mom would take us…well, anywhere within driving distance. And most of the states are so small out there, there was a *lot* of stuff to see within that particular boundary. On the weekends, Dad would come with, and we’d go farther. We went places like the Baltimore Aquarium (a favorite of mine) or the Washington D.C. zoo, Ocean City’s board walks and beach, Annapolis (where I was beside myself to walk down real cobblestone streets – how completely romantic, and I thought that then too) and the outlet malls, of course (my mom loves to shop). We never went into New York City (my parents proclaimed it “too dangerous”), but we looked down on it from afar, and we did visit the Statue of Liberty, which was quite an experience.

But we also spent a lot of time at historical museums, preserved estates, the various monuments in Washington D.C., and The Smithsonian (which I could very happily wander for years if someone would just make sure I had food and water). Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Colonial Williamsburg and Gettysburg all still stand out vividly in my mind, as well as several places in Philadelphia and Boston. Not that I’d recognize any of it now – I’ve never been back and I’m sure much like Hershey, some things have changed. But I’d like to revisit now that I’m older and more… philosophically mature. Someday, maybe.

In any case, seeing the places our founding fathers lived and worked, seeing the original documents of  the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and just being “steeped” in the rich history of the area…the story of those people’s fight to form their own nation stopped being just a story for me, and started to feel more personal. More like something I would have been proud to have been a part of at the time, and people I respected immensely for not just their thoughts and philosophies, but also their willingness to take the next step and break free in order to make their ideas on how to set-up and run a nation become reality. And they managed to do it, too – even with so many different personalities and ideologies involved, they came together and found a way to make it work.

It’s quite amazing when you think about it, and even moreso if you read the words of the men involved. I went on to study history in college (as my major), and my focus was the American Revolutionary period. I read countless documents from the men themselves – Thomas Paine, George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, as well as a lot of lesser-known people of the day. It’s fascinating and enlightening, and also a little disheartening given the state of what they created as it sits today. Regardless, I’m always in constant awe of what they accomplished together, and that this country they started is still going all these years later, even if we have made a great many mistakes along the way.

I see a lot of political posts in my social media feeds these days calling for all manner of laws to either be invoked or rejected, as per the person’s beliefs. A lot of those calls to action reference the Constitution in some way, but it’s normally a vague reference that leaves me wondering if the person has ever read the document they’re referencing, or if they just assume it says what they think it says. Or what someone told them it says. Frankly, it makes whatever argument they’re trying to make weak, IMO. Because you can’t intelligently propose changes to a document you have not read.

I think that this week in particular with Independence Day coming this Friday, every U.S. citizen who is able to read should make the time to read through our government’s main governing document, whether we’ve read it before or not. It’s not actually all that long, though it does take a little time to “digest”. I’d even go so far as to challenge people to read our Declaration of Independence as well, but if you’ll only read one, make it the Constitution. Then if you’re going to argue for or against changes, at least you’ll know exactly what it is you’re arguing for or against.

Ignorance is not bliss, dear readers. I do believe it’s one of the main things responsible for a lot of the problems we have in our government today.

This is my challenge to you for the week: Make the time to read the U.S. Constitution, and maybe even the Declaration of Independence – I’ll be doing the same. Remember where we came from this Independence Day. Often the solution to a problems lies in going back to the root.

No skimming. I know that’s the way people read these days, but this…this is too important to skip words. Read them all. Get a dictionary if you need to. Discuss it with a friend or family member. Give it at least as much attention as you’d give to a good literary novel.

Read the Constitution of the United States (includes both original and amendments)

Read The Declaration of Independence

And if you really want to go information-crazy, read The Bill of Rights while you’re at it.

Have a thoughtful week…and Happy Independence Day to all my fellow U.S. Citizens.


 

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