Serial Story: Don’t Look Away (Rattlesnake Falls 1), Ch. 24

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!

*Note: Sections denoted with an asterisk are new details that will eventually be added to the earlier parts of the book as well. 

Don’t Look Away
Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1

Chapter 24

“A background check. Do you run one on all the ladies who insult you during a speed-not-dating round? Or was I more suspicious than your normal bar-bimbo?” She reflexively reached up to touch the scar on her face*. Normally it would have been covered by makeup, but that night, she hadn’t felt like putting in the effort. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d been profiled because of it, though, and it probably wouldn’t be the last.

She’d considered getting it tattooed over like the others on her body, but had never been able to go through with it. Maybe it was time.

Dillon shook his head, his expression bland. “Option C. I’ll explain later, if you’re still speaking to me, but let’s focus on one problem at a time, okay?” He turned to the guard and the officer. “Is the license good enough, gentlemen, or do you need more?”

“This looks real to me.” The guard handed the license to the cop. “The woman making the accusations is upstairs, if you want to talk to her.”

The officer nodded. “I think I should.” He looked at Shelley. “Any idea why she’d accuse you of being an impostor? That’s a pretty serious accusation. If the paperwork Preston has here checks out, I bet you’d have some grounds for a suit.”

Shelley sighed. “She didn’t want me to see her daughter – she blames me for the accident. I don’t know why she’d accuse me of this particular thing though. She’s known me since I was born.” She rubbed her head, her limbs suddenly feeling boneless. “I don’t want to sue or anything like that. I just want to go home and figure out what to do next.”

The officer handed her license back. “You’re from Billings, I see. Planning on staying in town for awhile?”

She shook her head. “Not really. We were just up near Rattlesnake Falls for a…vacation.” The statement seemed ludicris now, with all that had happened.

“I own the Rattlesnake Falls Resort just outside Big Timber,” Dillon said. “I can give you my contact information so you can reach us there, if you need to.”

The officer nodded. “Why don’t you both give me contact information, and I’ll take that birth certificate copy for the case file too. If we need anything else, I’ll be in touch. And if you do decide to file charges against this woman, you give me a call.” He held out a card, and Shelley took it.

“Thank you. Right now, I just need to rest. Can we go?”

Another nod. “Just stay in the area for a few days, in case we need anything.”

Dillon held out his hand and Shelley didn’t even hesitate to take it, though she knew she probably shouldn’t after what he’d done. They walked to his truck in silence, and when he opened the door for her, she climbed up and settled into the seat, clicking the belt into place while he walked around to the other side and joined her on the bench seat.

“You okay?” The truck revved with an exuberant rumble that didn’t exactly match her mood, but she nodded anyway.

“I will be,” she said. “I’m just…I don’t know. I can’t believe Jane did what she did, or that you did what you did, or that Tabby believed her, and everything is just all screwed up right now. I don’t even know what to do right now. Or what to think, or what to say, or what to do….” She sighed and looked out the window, watching houses and trees and cars fly by in the early morning light. Surely this was all just a very bad dream that she’d wake up from soon. Wasn’t it?

She closed her eyes.

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 25!

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Convenience vs. Privacy: Smart Speakers?

Amazon Prime Day was this past week (like the “Black Friday” of summer), and apparently their Echo smart home devices were the best sellers. Other companies took advantage of the day as well, and sold similar products (most notably the Google Home) at a discount too. So now we have a crazy number of households with these smart devices in them, all hooked up either to Amazon or Google’s databases, recording pretty much everything said and responding when the AI algorithms tell it to.

Now, I’ve never actually wanted to talk to my computer, Star Trek-style. I’d rather say hello to my dogs when I walk in the house and flip a light switch than actually tell the lights to come on. I’d be okay using an app with buttons to tap to turn the lights on, or schedules to input, but I don’t want to do any of that verbally – I want it all text-based. I am often “verbally challenged” – what I want to say doesn’t come out correctly. So I’m not keen on verbal commands.

*Quick note: as I’m writing this, Evernote keeps blip-ing and telling me it can’t save. This only adds to my conspiracy theorist paranoia…

ANYways. I don’t particularly want all of my appliances connected to one app or main control “unit”. It’s the same reason I still have a landline phone – and not a digital “landline” that travels via digital internet cables and is bundled up with your cable & internet, but a “real” analog landline – the kind that will still work even if all the power is out, internet is out and cell towers are down or whatever.

I don’t ever want a single point of failure for all of my stuff. Nor do I want a single point where someone could hack into my personal “mainframe” and gain control of my door locks, my thermostat, my lights, and my oven/washer/dryer/whatever.

Don’t get me wrong – I love gadgets and convenience as much as anyone else, and the very thought of controlling the whole house via one app is appealing on many lazy levels, I just can’t actually make myself “go there”, because I’m all too aware of how easily it could all turn upside down and work against me in a very short amount of time.

It also makes me uneasy to think that there’s something in my house always listening for verbal cues. Some would argue that my cell is always listening and my laptop probably could too (I should check if it has a built in microphone…probably does!), but I’m fairly certain the cell companies aren’t organized enough with their data to actually make anything of what it hears (I mostly know this because I’ve seen the kind of reports they run…they’re…antiquated, at best). Amazon and Google though? Conspiracy theory hat on again – they are ready, willing and excited to mine everything anyone says in a room with one of their connected smart-devices for every little bit of usable information they can get from it. Much like the whole smart TV fiasco…except those companies were listening without permission.

Amazon and Google have your explicit permission…probably laid out in those “Terms of Service” documents that no one ever reads.

I talk to myself when I’m home alone. I talk to my dogs. When my husband is there, I talk to him, sometimes saying things I wouldn’t say to anyone else. We have private conversations, like most couples probably do. I have private conversations with myself. And the last thing I want is for these discussions to be logged and tagged and cross-referenced and stored in some big data repository where it can potentially be used against me – either by the original collectors, or the hackers who steal it (eventually).

And no, reassurances from the company that they don’t, won’t, would never, ever do that are meaningless, because…well, once the data is out there, it’s out there, and you just never know what the government or other entities might do years after these particular people are long gone.

Understand, I’d still like my washer/dryer to text or message me when they’re done. And I’d like to be able to control the thermostat through an app. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind controlling some of the lights via an app, as long as some are left “dumb”.

I just…have very strong security and privacy concerns with this whole “connect all the things!” movement. And I’m kind of surprised that more people don’t, to be honest. But maybe I am just being all paranoid about nothing. Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

Do you have an Echo or Home device? Are you working on connecting all your “things” to one master controller? Is the convenience overcoming any skepticism you might have, or are you just not worried about what might happen?

Inquiring minds…

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 23

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! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 23

“Just come with us, Ma’am, and we’ll get this all straightened out with the police. No point in upsetting these people any further though. Let’s go.”

The man doing the talking had a tight, grip, but sympathetic eyes, and Shelley quit fighting. She had no idea what the hell was wrong with her aunt, but as soon as she had the cops pull her birth certificate, she was definitely going to get to the bottom of it.

Her guard stopped and turned to look behind them. “Excuse me, sir, but this is a private matter.”

“I’m with her. And until you hand her over to the real cops, I go where she goes.”

Dillon. Shelley wasn’t sure whether to be embarrassed or grateful, so looked over her shoulder and gave him a small smile. He winked at her, and then held up his cell phone.

“I’ve already called a lawyer — he’ll be here in fifteen minutes. Unless you’re taking her directly to the station, in which case I’ll call him back and tell him to meet us there.”

The guard didn’t look pleased. “Follow along then. We’ll wait outside for the cops to get here.”

They made their way down the hall and out the front doors, into the crisp early morning air. A thin thread of orange and pink was just starting to break behind the mountains, signaling a beautiful sunrise on the way. Shelley shivered. A long, sleepless night was no match for a mountain daybreak.

“She’s cold,” Dillon said, holding out his jacket. “I assume you have no objections to letting her stay warm while we wait?”

“As long as you don’t mind if we check it for weapons first.”

Dillon nodded and the guard took it, quickly checking the pockets. Finding nothing, he handed it to Shelley who gratefully pulled it on.

“Thank you,” she murmured, giving Dillon a wan smile. The coat smelled like him, and she pulled the collar up higher to get a better whiff.

Two police cars pulled up without fanfare, and as both officers were getting out, a dark sedan pulled in behind them. One of the officers approached the guard, looking a little annoyed.

“What’s this about, Dan? We were just sitting down for coffee.”

The guard motioned to Shelley. “Family in the critical care unit claims this woman is an impostor, and has been for years. The unit is family only for visitation, and she went against policy and bothered the patient. We had to remove her from the premises until we know for sure that she is who she says she is.”

The officer raised an eyebrow, and then looked at Shelley. “So what did you do to piss your family member off so badly?”
Shelley almost smiled. Thank God. A logical person, finally.

“You might not want to answer that, honey.” The man she’d seen getting out of the sedan strolled up looking somewhat casual in jeans, boots, a crisp white button down shirt and a bolo tie. “Thing is, these gentlemen don’t need to know whether you did anything or not, they just need to know that you are who you say you are, since you were accused of not bein’ that person. And I’ve got a copy of your birth certificate that should clear this mess up, if your driver’s license doesn’t.”

Shelley frowned. How had he gotten a copy of that so quickly? She was about to ask, but the officer laughed, and shook the man’s hand.

“Good to see you, Preston. It’s been awhile.” He turned to the guard. “What’s her license say, Dan? Think it’s a fake?”
The guard looked sheepish. “Honestly, I hadn’t gotten around to asking for it yet. We just got out here two minutes before you pulled up.”

Dillon held up a plastic card. “Here. I got it out of her purse.”

The officer took the card, looking it over closely. “And you are?”

“A friend of Shelley’s. Dillon Riley.”

“You seem pretty confident in her identity. I take it you’ll vouch for her?”

“Yes Sir.”

“How long have you known Ms. Franks?”

Dillon thought for a minute, “Not quite a week. Or maybe just a week. Somewhere around there. It’s been busy lately.”

The officer raised an eyebrow. “That’s barely enough time to exchange phone numbers. How do you know she’s not just pulling your leg like she’s accused of doing with everyone else?”

Shelley waited just as anxiously as everyone else for the answer — maybe moreso. When his eyes met her, they were apologetic.

“Because I had Preston here run a full background check on her the night we met.”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 24!

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Sometimes All You Need…

…is a little “flip”!

Bonus points if you know the movie I’m referencing with the title & first sentence (whether I’m quoting exactly or not is up in the air, but if you know it, you’ll know it).
As you can see, I finished my writing office rearrangement last Tuesday, as per the plan. I can’t even tell you how much just having a clean, well-organized office has helped with the writing. Moving the table to the back wall insulated me from latent noise and activity in the living room, which made a big difference in focus, and just having a much cleaner, larger “open space” on the floor has made the whole room feel much bigger/less closed-in. The armchair is a very welcome addition, and I even used it a couple times last week for both reading and journalling. I think this is going to work very well for a long time. And the hubby is going to build bigger, nicer bookshelves for the “book wall” as well, so that will be much more organized in the near future too.

I also changed my morning routine last week, as I said I was going to. I got up early, played a few simple games to get my brain moving, had my matcha, did my workout, and then two mornings out of three, I had a full half-hour to write before I needed to jump in the shower and get ready for work. And I was awake enough to make productive use of the time too. I’m really going to try to keep that going this week. It was so nice being caught up by the end of last week, instead of behind!

One of the other two notable things that happened this week were that I got another piece of my right arm tattooed, which means I only have one more session, and this arm will be done. It looks great, and as with all the other tattoos on this arm, the new piece has inspired another part of the story I’m just itching to start writing. Soon, my pretties. Soon!

And the last thing is, I got my hands on a public beta of an android app for the first writing software application I ever used, and still compare every other piece of writing software to: yWriter. This allows me to use yWriter on my PC at home, and access (or even edit, though I doubt I’ll be doing much of that on my cell) all my notes and drafts on my cell when I’m not at home. It’s a game-changer for me, and I’m going to switch back to this software for all my writing. I may be posting more about that on my writing blog one of these days.

So, really great week last week. Here’s hoping I can keep the new schedule going this week…

Serial Story: Rattlesnake Falls, Book 1, Ch. 22

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! 

No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….

Rattlesnake Falls Book 1

Chapter 22

“Your daughter is awake, Ms. Thomas.” The doctor held up a hand when Jane started to rise. “But she’s asking to see Ms. Frank. Insisting on it, actually.”

Shelley got to her feet and started walking toward him, but the doctor gave her a slight head-shake. She stopped, confused, until he quickly glanced right before turning back to Jane, who was yelling she would sue the hospital if she couldn’t see her daughter right now.

Turning to look where the doctor had glanced, she saw a nurse in the doorway, holding a piece of paper and gesturing for her to come that way. Moving quickly, Shelley went to her and took the note. There was only one thing on it — the number 206.

Giving the woman a smile of gratitude, she went out the door and down the hall, Jane’s cries still audible as she moved farther away. The numbers on the doors were getting smaller, and finally she turned a corner and there it was. Room 206.

Pausing for a moment, she took in a deep breath and let it out slow. So much had happened since that morning. Would Tabby blame her like her mother did?

She could see her friend through the open window blinds, purple and red bruises stark against the white hospital sheets. And a noticeable space underneath where her right leg should be.

Grasping the handle, she opened the door and stepped into the room.

“Shelley?” Tabitha turned her head, recognition and tears sparkling in her eyes. “Oh my God, Shelley. I’m so, so sorry I didn’t listen to you. I was so scared. There was a bear, and Mike tried to stop him and there was so much blood – it hurt so bad!” She grabbed Shelley’s hand, sobbing. “They cut off my leg, Shell. It’s just…gone now. The bear…what am I going to do?”

Shelley leaned in, hugging her friend tight for a long moment before pulling back enough to see her face. “You’re going to get well, and learn to walk again, and then you’re going to finish school and start that business, just like you planned. You can still do this. You just have to stay strong.” She nodded, and Tabby nodded back, snuffling.

“Strong.” She acted like she was tasting the word, rolling it around in her mouth. “I don’t feel very strong right now, Shelley. I’ve never felt so helpless in my life. And Mike, he tried to get me to come back, tried to keep me safe…”

A fresh waves of tears fell and Shelley pulled Tabby into her arms again. “Shh…it’s okay. You’re okay now. You’re safe, and we’re gonna get through this. I’ll help you, every step of the way.”

Behind them, the door slammed open, and Shelley bolted upright, keeping her body between Tabby and the door.

“There — arrest her. She’s an impostor, pretending to be my niece. She’s the reason my daughter was in the woods in the first place, and she has no right to be here. I want her to stay far, far away from my daughter and me.”

Shelley looked at Tabitha. Her mouth was hanging open in disbelief, and her eyes were wide as saucers. Shelley assumed she was as shocked as anyone that her mother would do such a thing.

“I’ll be back, Tabby — I promise. I don’t know why your mom is doing this, but I swear I’ll be back soon.”

Tabitha slowly eased away, shaking her head. “An impostor? For all these years? That explains so much…”

Shelley frowned and took a step back. “You believe her? You really think I’m an impostor? We practically grew up together! You’ve known me my whole life!”

Steel hands clamped down on Shelley’s arms, pulling her toward the door. “This isn’t right,” she said, not fighting, but not making it easy either. “I’m Jane’s niece, and Tabby’s cousin. Jane just didn’t want me to see Tabby for some reason, but right now it’s her word against mine Don’t you have to have proof before you drag me off to the security guard station or call the real police or something?”

Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 23!

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You Say You Want A Revolution…

Keep in mind that I did warn you a few weeks back that summer is the “pensive season”. Deep thoughts, though Dear ol’ Jack Handy would probably twist them into something vastly more entertaining for us…but you’re stuck with me (if you keep reading, that is).

This week is all about changing my perspective – both figuratively and literally. I’m staging a mental revolution, and fighting for freedom from entrapment (of myself, by myself, for myself).

I’ve been pretty doom and gloom about writing lately…not the actual writing, but the fact that I finally got past the “OMG I suck and should just quit” battle only to fall into the “Why do I even try when I have so little time, and the time I have is the wrong time when my brain won’t work and I’m out of the habit and I’m never going to be able to write all the things I now want to write?” Poor-Me-Black-Hole-Of-Despair (TM?).

Honestly. Sometimes I make myself sick with the stupid pity-party crap.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. No, I can’t do *all the things* (human, no super-powers, etc), but I can write. And I can absolutely carve out just a tiny bit of extra writing time if I want it badly enough. I can also make my writing environment more conducive to getting things done so that when I do have time to write, I’m not as likely to waste it. I mean, I have options here.

There are always, always options. I may not always like them, but they are there, and I can choose to take advantage of them or not. If I know they are there, and choose not to take advantage of them, then Pity-Party Mode is not allowed. Those are the (my) rules.

And this past weekend, my dog pointed out an option (quite by accident) that might help my word count, and last week, I became aware of another option (again quite by accident) that also might help both my word count and my editing/revision progress. I’m still not sure they’re happy accidents, considering the amount of work involved in setting these options in motion, but hey, it’s either that, or…keep on as I am but drop the Pity-Party Mode anyway due to refusing open options.

Tricky, isn’t it?

Since I have to leave the attitude behind either way, might as well try the options, I say. Which in this case means two things: cleaning out and rearranging my home office, and getting up half an hour earlier every morning.

Long story about Murphy-dog and my desk and power cords (if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have seen a pic and read about it), but having to clean out under my desk so Murphy can use that space as a “den” got me to thinking. If I move my desk to the other side of the room, where I can’t see out the office door, and am less likely to hear random noise from the living room, I’m more likely to feel like I’m in a writing “bubble”, which will make it easier to get in the “zone” at night. Also, having a less cluttered office will be less distracting/oppressive. So I started cleaning out my office Sunday, and will finish cleaning/rearranging on Tuesday. I’ll also be adding a sitting area where I can read or write by hand. And I think that will help me make the most of my late night writing hour. Yes, Murphy will still be able to sleep under the desk if he wants.

As for getting up in the morning…I realized last week that I’ve been calculating my sleep cycles incorrectly, and instead of getting up at 6am when I am asleep by 1am, I should be getting up at 5:30am (three 90 minute cycles). I figured that out accidentally when I had to get up at 5:30 one morning, and actually felt way better than when I get up at 6am (which promptly ruined my mood for the day).

Thing is, if I get up at 5:30am, that gives me an extra half hour four mornings a week (I have to be at work early for a staff meeting on Tuesdays) in which I could write before work. I mean, after I’m caffeinated and half-way awake, anyways.

But…5:30. AM. *sigh* Really?! (Shush, morning people.)

Yes, really. Apparently. At least if I’m going to go to bed around midnight and read until 12:30 or so, which is my preference.

So I’m creating a writing “bubble” by rearranging the office, and changing my entire worldview (okay, a small part of my perspective, but still) by getting up earlier to have writing time before work as well. Best case scenario, I’m more productive overall, since I have writing time both late night *and* mornings now.

Worst case scenario, I still can’t mentally wake up fast enough in the morning to actually write, but I have a clean, organized office to work in at night, so the status quo gets a tiny bit better and I can have my pity-party back (if I want it) because I did at least try the options that presented themselves.

We’ll see what my little mental revolution brings about fairly soon, I’d think.

The Most Frustrating Thing

If you’ve been reading here long-term, you’ll know that a few years back, I burned out on most everything due to “stuff” going on that just made all the stuff I wanted and needed to do so overwhelming that I just sort of dropped everything unnecessary, including writing, and did the bare minimums to get by while life was all crazy-like. Part of it was changes happening rapidly and all at once, and part was a mid-life crisis that I’m only now really able to acknowledge for what it was (because no one wants to admit to something like that, really).

Thing is, I persevered, got through it without embarrassing myself too terribly much and without causing to much havoc, and now find myself in a much healthier state of mind (still very pensive and “what if?” centric, but that’s normal for me). And suddenly wanting to pick up where I left off, but with new priorities that keep me from just diving in head first (and also keep me physically/mentally healthier, so they need to stay).

There are so, so many things I want to do. My main source of frustration in life – the thing that beats me up more than anything else in this world, is that I simply cannot do everything I want to do, all at once. Not even a little at a time, because there are just too many “little at a time” things to schedule. It’s just not physically possible.

So I try to prioritize, and that sort of works, but there are still too many things on my “priority list”. And pretty soon I’m only doing one or two things, and fantasizing about doing the other things, and knowing that there just isn’t enough time or energy to fit it all in.

It’s damn depressing. And it’s also the ultimate unsolvable puzzle. Which makes my whole brain just cringe, because that’s what it *does* all day, every day, at work, at home, and everywhere else. I solve problems. I fix things. I find a way to make whatever needs to happen, happen.

But I can’t fix this.

I can’t fix the fact that I’m human. That time and space are limited. That I am interested in way too many things, and far too curious for my own mental health.

Even if I were willing to change my current priorities, I still couldn’t fit everything I want to do into my life. And even as it is now, with the few things I’m prioritizing, I don’t feel like I have enough time to give them. I want more writing time. More reading time. More workout time. More cooking time. More organizing and cleaning time.

But in order to do even that many things, I have to compromise, and give all of them less time than they really need just so they get “some” time.

There’s no happy ending to this, I’m afraid. No diagrams or schedules or 30-days-without-sleep cleanse that could solve this particular problem.

And that, for me, is the most frustrating thing about life.

Transplants, Notes, Tattoos, Robots & Grape Ice Cream Floats

I had a post half-written for this week about talking to people (strangers), getting to know them, working to understand their personal motivations and connecting on a deeper level through quick, “shallow” interactions. I was feeling all community-oriented after a few interesting/nice encounters with strangers on the street, and all pensive about what basic, daily interactions like that could do for us as a society.

And then, between the time I started the post, and this weekend when I planned to finish it, I watched several transplants from out-of-state chatting in different interactions on social media about us native Montanans with the typical dismissive cultural divide dialogue that goes something like: “They do things all wrong here and don’t act how we think they should, they hurt our feelings and they’re just not friendly. We have no idea why they’re so bitter toward us – what did we ever do to them?!”. Needless to say, my warm, fuzzy feelings for community blending/deeper connections cooled quite a bit. I could rant and address those oh-so-common-complaints, but we’d be here all day, and I’m still a bit too annoyed. Maybe some other day.

Quick ProTip: Moving into a culture different than your own and complaining that the way they are and the way they do things is “wrong” or offensive because it’s not “normal” *to you* is not a great way to endear yourself to the people who grew up & still live there. No matter where “there” is. 

No, not all transplants to our state are like that – as a matter of fact, there are several I’m rather fond of (mostly from the East Coast, oddly enough). And the good interactions I had last week were quite possibly with transplants or tourists too (one more than likely, the other…hard to say). Still, the negative tends to overpower the positive, and I need to let all that negative stuff go before I can finish the “mutual understanding can fix a world of ills” post. I’m sure you can see where the conflict is there.

So instead, some other positive things going on that have nothing to do with other people:

– I’ve been using handwritten lists on my Note (cell), with a lot better luck than using digital to-do lists. I still use digital calendars for appointment reminders and recurring events, but there is something about handwriting lists every morning that really make the items stick in my head, and then crossing them off throughout the day that is more satisfying than ticking a box. And with my Note, I’ve got the best of both worlds – digital notes, handwritten on the screen (so no paper to keep track of.

– I’ve also been using my Note 8 tablet for handwriting both prose and poetry, and I have to say, I’m kind of amazed at the difference between drafting on the computer and drafting by hand on the tablet. It’s weird, but again, satisfying. Maybe because I can’t write nearly as fast as I type, so I have to slow down and really pay attention to what I’m writing. It gets frustrating sometimes, but overall, I think it’s a good thing.

– I got another tattoo done last week, on my upper right arm. One or two more sessions, and that whole sleeve will be done. The journey of getting this whole arm tattooed, and the story developing along the way has been eye-opening to me in so many ways. Non-tattoo people are rolling their eyes right now, but I’m ignoring people for the moment, remember? Positive only, and this experience has given me not just pretty patterns in my skin, not just a whole “story behind a story”, but also several epiphanies about who I am as a person and a writer, and also what I need to focus on to make my fiction better. It’s about so much more than a bunch of images and pigment. More than anyone but me will ever understand – which is perfectly fine, because it’s not for anyone else, it’s for me. And I’m glad I didn’t pass up on the experience just due to social constraints/censure.

– Someone has invented a weed-killing robot, and I want them for all of my gardens. These people should get an award, because if those robots work half as well as they claim, they’re my new heroes. Seriously. I hate weeding. Hate it. This could solve my bindweed problem just by working all the time. I *need* at least one in my life, but they aren’t shipping until next May. *sigh*

This commercial made me laugh this weekend…enough that I ordered trial boxes of three of their products. I so hope the products work as well as the commercial is funny…

– We had grape soda ice cream floats Sunday night. Seriously. Yummy. Try it.

– We watched Trolls this past weekend. So adorable they about gave me a sweet tooth. I’m thinking gummy trolls with cotton candy hair. Who’s with me?

Until next week…

The Pensive Season

I don’t know what it is about summer, but warm, sunny weather always makes me pensive. I mean, I’m an over-thinker on a good day, but summer is when “what if” becomes almost a daily mantra. What if I choose this over that? What if I’d made a different choice 20 yrs ago? What would I do if this life-changing event happened tomorrow? Would my life turn out the same no matter what decisions I make, or do I actually have some control over fate/destiny/whatever you call it?

Yes, I know. Exhausting and in the end, pretty much pointless, but that’s how my brain works, and in the summer, it just seems to be worse. Not much I can do aside from indulging it for a little while, and then forcing myself into a different, more productive headspace.

I’ve always been a dreamer of sorts, which is kind of at odds with my otherwise very practical, logical nature. I remember very clearly laying on my waterbed in the basement as a teen, steno notebook and pen in hand, scribbling/lamenting about whatever guy I happened to be obsessing over at the time (bad habit of mine). I’d lay back, close my eyes, and lose track of time day-dreaming about different scenarios involving said guys and wishing I could just stay in that fantasy world forever.

Writing, of course, is a physical (digital?) manifestation of that sort of day-dreaming habit…when I write, I’m basically day-dreaming on paper, just not about myself anymore. Well, not always, anyway. 😉

And of course when I get in these ultra-pensive moods, I tend to slip back into “day-dream” mode more easily, and it makes me want to write more. Which is frustrating because I only have so much time to spend on that right now. Ideas/day-dreams keep piling up, waiting for me to exorcise them from my head by getting them down in book form.

The co-worker who backs me up when I’m out (and I do the same for him) is in and out of the office for the next month and a half. But after that, I do believe I’ll schedule a week off just for writing. Get some of these ideas out of my head and at least started on paper. Perhaps that will ease the pensiveness a bit.

Even if it doesn’t, it will be fun!

Visiting the Past, Sunscreen & Written Lists

Our local Renaissance Festival was this past Saturday, so my husband and I headed out to ZooMontana to partake in the festivities. It’s always fun to watch everyone wandering around in period dress, take in a jousting match, watch the sideshows and do a little shopping at the vendor booths. I’m not one who would really want to live in that time period – I’m quite happy with indoor plumbing and near-daily showers, thanks – but I love the celebration and romanticism that comes with a ren faire. And one of these days I’m going to splurge for something chain maille…

Anticipating this event, I actually bought sunscreen for the first time in years. Last year I burned, and this year I have nice tattoos that I wanted to protect. So I spent far too much time researching natural sunscreens and ended up with naturally bug repellent sunscreen on my legs, and a natural odorless sunscreen on my arms. I put makeup on, since my powder makeup is a physical sunblock like zinc oxide, and off we went.

When we got home, I had a nice, deep tan on my exposed skin…except for the back of my neck. Which was bright, deep red.


We had some shopping to do, so I took the opportunity to get myself a big hat with a brim wide enough to shade both the back of my neck and my nose the next time I find myself at an outdoor summer event (so…next Saturday morning). I’ll also be able to use it for yard work, so a good investment. Kind of a fun look too, if I do say so myself.

Yes, one would think I could just remember to put sunscreen on the back of my neck, but I never have, not once. And I always end up burning it. But I also always wear hats on the weekend (because I’m far too lazy to do hair/makeup), so this is just a matter of remembering to grab the right hat. Challenge accepted!

In other news, I’ve been making use of the Action Memos feature on my cell, and handwriting things like my daily to-do lists, writing schedule, and whatever else I need to keep track of. I still use digital calendars for repeating reminders and appointments, but there really is something about writing things out by hand that makes such a difference, mentally speaking. It’s weird, but for me, it’s working.

Which makes me want one of these “reMarkable” devices even more…but they’re on pre-order only right now, and not due to start shipping until next fall. I got burned for…a larger sum than I want to admit to last summer on a crowd-funding thing, so I’m really not keen on pre-ordering anything at the moment until I know someone else has already gotten one (or more, preferably). Naturally the price will go up once they start shipping, and I probably won’t be able to afford one then, so we’ll have to just wait and see.

Still, I think it’s very cool technology this company is developing, and a great way to combine the best of analog and digital especially when it comes to going paperless both at home and at the office.

And about the time I get one, someone will hit us with an EMP and we’ll all have to go back to paper anyways, right?

Viva la Renaissance! 😉