Monday, December 31, 2012

Mysterious Monday: New Year's Superstitions

Happy New Year to everyone! I dug up a few superstitions related to the turning of the old year into the new.

Make sure to kiss someone you love to ensure warm relationships throughout the year. If you don’t kiss someone you care about, they say that your relationships will be cold through 2013. Wonder what happens if you’re doing the horizontal tango at the stroke of midnight? So to speak.

Make lots of noise to drive away the evil spirits who lurk in the veil between the worlds. At certain points in the year, the end of it being one of those points, the veil between the worlds is thinner, allowing all sorts of ghosts and demons and beasties of a naughty sort to step through. They don’t like loud noises, though, so enjoy those fireworks if it’s legal in your neck of the woods.

If it’s possible, settle your debts before January 1st to bring good fortune in the new year. This is a tough one for many of us. I can only remember one solvent New Year as a married adult. Time to turn that one around. Be careful, though, not to pay anyone off on January 1st as you will not be able to keep money around for the next year.

The first one to enter your house on January 1st should be a dark-haired male if you wish good fortune in the coming year. And don’t let anything out of your house on the 1st without something coming in first—some people go so far as to toss something out the door on December 31st, attaching it with a string and pulling it in the next morning.

For some reason, eating Black Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day is good luck. That’s a stroke of luck I will never have, as I simply can’t stand the things. Honestly, I never even heard of them until I was grown.

Full wallets mean prosperity in the year ahead, as full cupboards mean full bellies in the year ahead. My cupboards are always full—a leftover from lean years when we ate only thanks to WIC basics, care packages from our parents, and the half-priced day-old bread. I have yet to keep full wallets, but perhaps I’ll try putting a bunch of singles in it and see if that brings me prosperity in 2013.

It is said that doing a token amount of work will make you successful in the new year, but you should never take on a project that you cannot start and finish on New Year’s Day.

My favorite one was probably made up by an overworked housewife—it is bad luck to wash clothes or dishes on New Year’s Day; it will “drain away” your fortunes with the dirty water. Whoever made that one up gets my New Year’s kiss!

My other favorites are to drain the dregs of the bottle and to dance around a tree in the open air—kind of go hand-in-hand, yes? I have faint memories of doing such things in the past, though not necessarily on New Year’s Eve/Day.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year's celebration and that 2013 finds you happy, healthy, and prosperous.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wednesday Check In: Post Christmas


The only new words this week were my blog entries. However, I did edit just shy of 9K words in my NaNo project when I realized that certain aspects of the idea were not working for me and were holding me up from adding to the MS. Once the holidays are completely over, and everything is packed away for next year, I’ll be back on track. Until then, editing should keep me busy.


Speaking of off-track… The bad news is that the holiday food added back either 1.4 or 0 pounds, depending on which scale reading you believe. Oddly enough, I got up this morning and threw myself on the scale and it read 209.6; after an hour of trying (and failing) to wake up, I was feeling a bit off anyway, so I decided to go back to sleep. I woke up nearly two hours later and put myself on the scale again, just for shits and giggles--208.2, exactly the same as last week. So no loss, but no gain, either. 

The good news is that the eating part of the holiday is over. No more cookies, no more bread, no more Christmas lasagna (my personal Christmas tradition). The workout remains the same for now, with only increased time on the treadmill (an extra 10 minutes). It really IS easier having my hubby on board with this. He makes some mean lean meals. 


Well, it cooperated Christmas morning and was a bit chilly (don’t know HOW chilly, just that hubby had to turn on the heat). Now, it’s back to warm/hot, with no rain. Until today. This afternoon, we got a bit of rain, the sky remained overcast, the wind picked up, and the temperature dropped. Currently, it is in the low 60s, discounting the wind chill. I actually had to turn the heat on in my car when my younger boy and I were driving around earlier.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Mysterious Monday, on Tuesday: Myrrh

Well, as you can see, I am still not smart enough to write my blogs in advance. Yesterday, we were busy baking cookies, wrapping presents and buying last minute stocking stuffers and such. By the end of the day, I was far too exhausted to write about myrrh.

(Image from an article, photo by Alison Miksch/FoodPix/Getty Images)

As it turns out, myrrh is similar in many ways to frankincense. It, too, is harvested from a hardy scrub-like tree. It also forms a resin that can be burned as an incense or used in perfumes and cosmetics.

Myrrh can be taken internally to treat gastrointestinal problems such as gas and diarrhea. It is not only an anti-fungicide, but an anti-septic and an anti-viral, as well. It stimulates the circulatory system, increasing blood flow, so while it is good for treating uterine problems, those who have heart conditions or who are pregnant should be careful of this resin. Initial trials have shown that chewed myrrh can reduce blood glucose levels (but don’t take it with your diabetes meds, as your blood sugar may dip drastically low).

As a balm, it treats dry, cracked skin, and soothes sores, helping scars to fade. It causes the skin to contract, and so can be used to help the scalp keep a firm grip on hair follicles, or on the gums to help keep them firm around the teeth.

When burned, myrrh’s calming scent helps to center the mind and body, opening the spiritual pathways. Myrrh was used in embalming mummies and the dead were often treated with it before being wrapped in their winding cloths, probably as a way to cover the scent of a decaying body before interment.

So, the three gifts of the Magi were not just randomly chosen items. All three items would have been good for promoting good health and spirituality, as well as being very expensive. I’ll see you all in just a few hours to report on words, weight, and weather.

Oh, and HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Photo Friday: The Christmas Outback

A couple weeks ago, I told you how hubby was so ticked off about our sudden rain. The main reason is this:

Isn't he cute? He decorated his car with garland, lights, and stockings. 

Hard to see the car since it's dark, but the lights can be set to "twinkle" or "steady". The battery packs are kept in the stockings.

Hubby, who usually winds up on my “naughty” list around this time of year for his very realistic portrayal of The Grinch, seems to have finally taken the end of that story to heart. So to speak. Where usually I have to beg, plead, cajole, nag and wind up having my lights put up a mere day or two before Christmas, this year, he got them the week after Thanksgiving week-end.

Unfortunately, the garland lights that the teen loved so much were too heavy for the hangars we had. They came down with the first big wind and just kept coming down. I’m going to ask hubby to put hooks into the concrete for next year; maybe that, with electrical ties, will keep the garland up. This year, I’ll tell the teen to decorate the hall outside his room with the lights or we can put them up in the front room (where there is no breeze and no rain).

Tonight, we finish decorating, except for the tree, which gets finished on Christmas Eve, per my family’s tradition, and one the teen loves—the 12 year-old would have it all decorated the day after Thanksgiving if given his head. I may be making popcorn, as that’s one of his favorite things to do is make a popcorn garland. Actually, he enjoys anything homemade or crafty. Don’t know where he got that gene.

I hope you all enjoy your last shopping week-end before Christmas and I’ll see you all Monday, when I’ll be chatting about Myrrh, the last gift of the Magi, fittingly, on Christmas Eve day.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weekly check-in: the day after

Sorry--A day late and a dollar short this week. Had a busier day than usual yesterday (five hours at the younger boy's school, helping on a teacher appreciation luncheon) and then wound up with technical difficulties. 

I'm still WAY behind on Christmas prep--cards to get written and out, decorations to put up, cookies to make and bake. This Saturday, we go to my in-laws' house for "early Christmas" since they work Christmas day. I'm in direct sales and Sunday I receive my last delivery before Christmas (it will need to be sorted and delivered to customers, hopefully ON Sunday), which leaves only part of Sunday (hopefully) and Monday to finish everything. 

The day after Christmas, my teen is off to another Sea Cadet training class (luckily, this one is only an hour or so away, instead of a full day's drive) and right now we're busy trying to pick up all of his last-minute sea bag items, as well as helping a friend whose daughter is going for the first time to a training.

At any rate, here's the check-in:


Not a whole lot to say, other than “Blech!” I did transfer another fan fic over to AO3—thirty little drabbles worth, but that was it outside of the blogs (1,123 words) and one small story idea that I do not like in the light of day and was only 542 words anyway. That gives me an average of about 240 per day.

Once all this Christmas busy-ness is over, I plan to collapse for about a week before getting ready for taxes and then settling down with a proper writing schedule. My goal will still be 500 words per day, but I'd like that to be the "fiction only" goal, not including the blogs.


Here’s where I shine this week. Current weight:

That's down 3.4 pounds from last week. I’ve been keeping my calories as close to 1200 per day as possible and increased my exercise routine. 

Current exercises:
5 rolling back stretches (on my back, knees bent, roll to first one side, then the other)
5 opposing back stretches (on my back, lengthen one side of my body, then the other)
30 sit ups
3 reps of 10 each flutter kicks
5 push ups (regular)
30 push ups (easy)
5 push ups (regular)
5 switches between child pose and cobra
10 four count leg lifts (on my side—bend the top knee in, then out, then put the leg up, then down; repeat on the both legs)

Stand and do:
10 curls with 2 pound weights
10 side arm raises with the same weights
10 front arm exercises with the same weights (hold arms at shoulder height at sides, bring hands together, back to sides)
10 windmills
30 minutes on the treadmill, beginning at a speed of 2.6, going up to 3.6 at the most, cooling down with a speed of 2.6.

With 34 weeks to go to Chicon, if I can keep up this weight loss, I’ll have reached my goal easily and even gone below. I began this trek at nearly 218, with a goal of getting down to 160/165 by August. My August goal is now 160. I want to be down to 145 by the end of 2013, perhaps a bit lower, but not by much.


As usual, it’s too danged warm to be nearly Christmas in Florida. Yesterday morning, it was a lovely 52F; the afternoon was supposed to have been in the 80s again. Pfffttt! No precipitation of any sort, either. Boring, boring, boring weather. I can’t wait to move north, even though that’ll mean my kids have moved out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mysterious Monday--The Healing Powers of Frankincense

Last week, we learned about the power of gold. This week, as promised, I found out about the second gift of the Magi—Frankincense.

Frankincense is actually a type of resin that “bleeds” from certain hardy trees found in the arid areas of the Middle East. It is harvested by making cuts in the bark—the first bits to ooze out are not the highest value, but the second and third cuts bear a better quality resin.

For over five thousand years, Frankincense, known simply as “incense” has been traded in and around the countries of the Mediterranean. Banned for many years by the Christian churches for its connection to Jewish spirituality, it later became called Frankincense when Frankish Crusaders brought it back to Europe from the Middle East.

The resin burns due to the natural oils present, and was used as an incense in the ancient world, where bathing was not exactly a daily habit. Its piney, lemony smell would cover the scent of your neighbor’s body odor, as well as acting as an insecticide. Good stuff, that, ‘cause if you ain’t bathing, odds are good you’ve got some sort of insect taking up residence on your body without a lease or any sort of permission.

Another benefit comes from the smoke from the burning resin—it is said to be good for clearing out germs from the air, thereby bringing good health to a home in which it was burned every day. The scent is quite calming and is used today in meditation as a way to center the mind and body.

Taken internally, the ancients would use the resin to aid in digestion, as well as for treating tumors, ulcers, and dysentery. Pliny the Elder (who we have to respect—after all, he is an elder) even claims that the resin could be used as a cure for hemlock poisoning. Too bad Socrates didn’t have some stashed in his robes, although from what I hear, it wouldn’t have done him any good with the Athenian people out for his blood.

But if he had tried to escape and had suffered superficial wounds, he could have used the oil of his handy-dandy hemlock to treat those wounds. Also good for acne, and when added to a bath, for the treatment of cramps. The ashes of the burned stuff were used to make kohl to line the eyes of Egyptian royalty and it was also used to mummify them at their deaths (one would hope they were dead, anyway).

For the treatment of acne and cramps alone, I’m thinking of picking up a bottle. For the baby Jesus, there were lots of reason why this yellowish/clear resin would make a good gift. It just would not do for the son of a deity to have zits or smell bad or have a tummy-ache. 

Next week, assuming we all don’t meet our fiery ends on December 21st, I’ll talk about the properties of myrrh, which seems to be a close cousin to Frankincense. 

By the way, if you would like to buy some, too, I found it for sale on Amazon, which is where I got the pretty piccie. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Photo Friday Cancelled this week due to grief

There will be no photo Friday today. I am too shocked, appalled, and saddened beyond grief. I ask instead that we all bow our heads or lift our eyes and pray to our deity of choice that the families and friends of the children and adults murdered by an obviously disturbed young man in Newtown, Connecticut this morning find some peace. Please keep these people in your thoughts and prayers this evening as you go about your business. Don't turn it into a political issue; make it an issue of caring and love, an issue of one human being offering a shoulder to cry on to another who needs it. And hold someone dear to you, for just a moment longer than you normally would. I will see you all again Monday.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday Check In


I did three writing sprints this week, one of which was interrupted by the teen and his date coming home to await her father, who was picking her up. I worked on a Christmas story for fan fiction, featuring Major Lorne of Stargate: Atlantis (Surprise! Not.) and my OFC (original female character). I am polishing it today and tomorrow for posting by the week-end. I also wrote Monday’s blog about some of the non-fiscal properties of gold.

Not including today’s blog, my word count for the week is 2671, which is an average of 381 per day. Not what I was aiming for, but not too bad considering this is my busy season with work (I work out of my home in direct sales and also train new sales representatives for the company). It’s also when I go, “Oh, crap! Taxes!” and run around getting all my papers together so I’m not freaking out on April 15.

This week, I plan on trying to get next week’s entries done ahead of time and then work on the NaNo fic. I would really like to finish it by the end of January and then start the editing process.

Let’s see how big this entry turns out to be and maybe I’ll include it, just for fun. All right, so including this entry, which is 847 words, my total word count for the week is 3518, which is an average of 502 per day. That’s more like it!


Current weight is 211.6. Yay, me! That’s down 1.6 pounds from last week. If I am able to keep up a rate of 1.4 pounds lost per week, I should be at my goal weight of 160 in time for Chicon (August 16-18). I am going to have to really step up my game and quit the yo-yo-ing.

Working out of my house makes it both harder and easier. It is harder because there’s all this yummy, naughty food at my finger-tips. If I feel like being lazy, I can pull up a couch and veg in front of the TV for a couple of hours. It is easier because I also have all this yummy, healthy food at my finger-tips. If I feel like getting in an extra work-out, I can change clothes, get my exercise, shower and be back on track in a couple hours.

Now, I have been watching what I eat, as well as when I eat heavier stuff. I’ve been drinking more water and eating less/no snacks at night. Hubby has jumped on the band wagon, deciding that he should also start eating a bit healthier. He cooked a nice meal last night of lightly breaded flounder and carrots, with salad and crescent rolls (my younger boy, J, made the crescent rolls). I had a nice snack of sugar-free jell-o and light whipped topping.

I made homemade chicken pot pie for the family on Sunday and just put the recipe into the calorie counting site that I’m using. I will not make pot pie again for many, many, many pounds. It was just shy of 500 calories PER SERVING! Mainly from the crust, but still…

This week, I added to my exercise routine. I now do five extra stretches, as well as five more sit ups (for a total of 25 and I’m flying right through them) and five extra flutter kicks (two sets of ten, with a ten-count rest between each, then one set of five). I am up to 25 “easy” push-ups from 20, and can do eight regular push-ups now, as well—not military reg, as I don’t go down far enough, but I keep my back straight and that’s the important part. I do the five push-ups, the 25 easy ones, then three more regular ones. I finish off with alternating between child and cobra pose five times, then do ten curls and ten side raises with two pound weights to try to sculpt my arms a bit. When I finish with that, it’s on the treadmill for 25 minutes of medium-paced walking while I watch Netflix to keep me from getting bored.


Well, last week-end, we had to cut on the air. Monday and yesterday, I cut it off when I got up in the morning and put it on again in the evening, so that it’s cool enough to sleep. Good thing, as we’ve been getting some rain on and off (you’ll see why this annoys hubby no end on Photo Friday this week). Last night, it stormed so hard, complete with thunder and lightning, that it woke me up around 3:00 and I didn’t get back to sleep until after 4:00.

I wound up having to go out and unplug the lights—I know they’re outdoor lights, but I didn’t want to take any chances with the weather being so wild. The forecast is calling for cooler temps (for Florida—it’ll be in the 70s, Fahrenheit) and thunder storms all day. Hubby will not be on his motorcycle. He will not be impressed.

See you all Friday!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Mysterious Monday: Gold

Sorry I'm running a bit late this week. Work was crazy and I'm not smart/organized enough to plan my blogs ahead. At any rate, this week, I wanted to (surprise!) explore some themes to do with the holiday season.

We’ve all heard about the miraculous conception and birth of the baby Jesus. How the three wise men each brought a gift—gold, frankincense, and myrrh. But why those three items in particular? Why not an ancient onesee or extra swaddling clothes or a rattle? In the next few Mysterious Mondays, I plan on finding out more about these gifts and why the wise men thought them to be proper gifts for a new baby.

We’ll start this week with everyone’s favorite—gold. Gold has been a symbol of purity and wealth for millennia. Men fight over it; women crave it. Not me so much, but I’m weird; personally, I prefer silver. There is no denying the powerful draw of gold, though. Countries use it to back up their currency; in times of economic upheaval, gold is the currency that remains steady or at least useful.

Why this popularity? Could it be that, like the popular girl in high school, people like gold just because it’s pretty? No, gold has more depth than that. Gold is like the pretty girl who, when you get to know her, is interesting, too—fun, intelligent, athletic, spiritual.

Gold, when used in wedding bands, symbolizes purity; the band itself is a representation of the nature of true love—neverending. I am not a very good Christian, but I grew up in a Christian household, and I can tell you right now that my minister would say that this is like God's love. 

Gold is said to reflect the wearer’s inner beauty and to fill the wearer with positive feelings; used as a talisman, it is said to ward off negative energy. But who would have wanted to harm the baby Jesus? Oh, that's right, that nasty Herod dude. And I don't imagine that the denizens of Hell were real pleased at his birth, either.

In medicinal uses, gold has also been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and to help with digestive ills. Don't know what that has to do with baby Jesus, but maybe it kept him from being colicky. 

Gold has also been associated with gods and kings, a symbol of their power, their strength, and their wealth. In that light alone, what better choice is there for a gift for a newborn king of Heaven? 

Next week, I'll learn more about everyone's favorite tree sap next to maple syrup—frankincense. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Triple Double-U


Well, of course I haven’t kept to a word count of 500-1,000 words per day. I have, however, finished editing and transferring my Stargate Atlantis fan fiction, In the Blood, over from to Archive Of Our Own, aka AO3 (AO3 is the newly edited version). I also got the last chapter posted on both sites. There was not any heavy editing, but I did need to fix a word here and there, or add a sentence or two. It did force me to re-read the story, something I have not done in ages; I highly recommend it.
I discovered, on reading my fan fiction story, that I really do love language—I love the ebb and flow of the words, the rhythm of that “just so” sentence, the way the perfect simile or metaphor can convey so very much in so little space. I love writing the words, and then delving deeper, to break a scene down into its tiniest molecules.
At first, the idea of finishing my NaNo story and then editing it seemed like a chore; I know some jaded published authors out there who would claim that it is (and when you’re meeting a deadline, I imagine that it truly is a bit of a chore), but right now, in this moment, I look forward to finishing, to polishing, to fine-tuning the story so that it is not just a recounting, but is rather a story-telling that plays like a movie in the reader’s head.  


Things are not going as fast as I would like, but then, they never do, as I’m a bit short on patience in most things. I have been keeping up my exercises, but I have not changed my eating habits much. I am down to 213.2 as of this morning, which is a loss, but only a loss of 2/10 of a pound. I think it’s time to do something a bit more drastic and keep a very, very close eye on those carbs. Being from Connecticut, where there are tons of Italians and good food is everywhere, I tend to love pasta and pizza, so this will be the difficult part for me. I must do it, though, if I’m to not look like I’m engulfing Kavan Smith at Chicon.


Well, nice and cool here in central Florida again today. I’ve had my air conditioner off for a week now and am enjoying the fresh air. It’s been chilly enough in the mornings and overnights that, despite the warmer afternoons, my house stays cool all day. After the massive light bills of summer (which runs roughly from February to October/mid-November here usually), it’s nice to be able to open the windows and cut the light bill in half or more.
And rain—we had a wee, tiny, teeny, weensy bit of rain this evening! We haven’t seen rain in a dog’s age. All the retention ponds are shrinking and we are on rationing (just the usual winter “only water your lawn once a week” sort of thing). I’d love to have a nice rainy day one day here soon. How’s it in your section of the world? 

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mysterious Monday: Aliens

I was born and partially raised (until I was 10) in a small town in New Hampshire. My best friend, Janet, lived on a dairy farm on top of a hill with her family. I spent many a night at Janet’s house in those days, but one night in particular stands out.

It was a clear, cold night in January and we were outside because, well, children don’t always make the best choices. Plus, in those days, people were a little more laid back with their children. We were returning from the barn, where we had just checked on the horses, when a movement caught our attention. That movement wasn’t near the house or in the field or by the trees; nope—it was above the trees.

We looked up, staring in awe, as a light in the sky zigged first one way and then the other, stopping for a moment before zipping off like a kitten on a hard-wood floor. Fear shivered its way along my spine. I knew I had just seen something not of this world. This was no airplane or weather balloon; looking back, distance and size would also point away from it being someone’s RC helicopter.

Now, sure, it was the 70s, but Janet and I were good girls; her older brothers were rarely home, so we were not high on pot, second-hand or first-hand. Her parents ran the dairy farm, so they didn’t exactly have the time to get high, even if I could have imagined Mr. & Mrs. S doing such a thing.

From that point on, I firmly believed that we are not alone in this universe. Many years later, I married and had a child. When he was around 4 or 5 years old, my boy told me of a nightmare he had had. He told me of how someone or something had come into his room and placed a hand on his forehead, then left as silently as they had come in. The night in question, it was neither my husband nor I who visited him in his bed.

We had never watched alien-themed movies or shows around him, nor discussed any belief or non-belief in aliens. He described, in nearly perfect detail, the “little gray men” that people often describe in stories of alien visitations. A large head with large eyes, small, narrow nostril slits and a tiny mouth, a slender body with long arms and hands—my paraphrase of what I got out of his description; these are obviously not the exact words of a 4 year-old.

I showed him a picture in a book from the library and he cried out, “That’s him!” I tried to reassure him that the alien was not likely to hurt him, as it had not done so during its visit, but even so, I slept very lightly, and on his floor, for many, many, many nights after that. He is 17 now, and still remembers that night; he also believes that we are not the only life forms in this universe.

What about you? Do you believe that there are other beings out there among the stars? Do you have hopes that one day, we will make contact or does that idea frighten the life out of you? Do you think aliens will be friends or conquerors?


"Alien Grey" Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

Friday, November 30, 2012

Photo Friday: Success!

Only one photo today; well, six of a similar nature. 

Final word count at validation is 50,160. The story needs heavy editing, a middle, and an end. It'll likely wind up around 25-40K by the time I finish.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Triple W Check In for Wednesday


Current word count, as seen from the widget, is just over 45K. NaNo ends this Friday, leaving me only 5K to go in the next three days. After that, I plan to try to keep to a schedule of at least 500-1K per day.  I’ll continue working on my NaNo book, as most of what I’ve written is unusable, but was written in an effort to keep the word count high. It’s still story, but I don’t think some of it will belong to this story, necessarily. I plan to finish the NaNo book by the end of December.

One good thing about NaNo, regardless of if I “win” or not, is that this story has decided to become a series and I’ve gotten a few other series ideas—one from the story I was originally going to write, one from the story I put in my NaNo profile (but am not writing), one from hubby, and about two or three others that my muse is sending my way for love and attention. Still trying to come up with a name for the series/the current book. May wind up having a contest for help with that. As to word count on the books, it appears as though each story of the series is going to wind up close to 25K each.


Overall starting weight was around mid 216 (pounds, not kilos O_O). I’ve gotten as low as 212.4 and messed it up. As of this morning, I am down to 213.4 again. I stopped exercising last week, with the kids at home and Thanksgiving cooking and cleaning and decorating. Oh my. So long as this sort of trend doesn’t continue over the next few vacations, I’ll be good.

I’ve brought my weight loss goals up to 1.5 pounds per week from 1 pound per week. Starting back this week to exercising, I am doing 5 minutes of warm-up calisthenics (I got up to five regular push-ups this morning from zero just a month ago); I also do sit ups, “girl” push-ups, flutter kicks, stretches and use small weights to try to keep from having the flappy arms. I’ve increased my treadmill time from 20 minutes to 25 minutes of variable speeds. On a sad note, I will have to find a body of water to chuck my iPod into; luckily, being in Florida, that’s not hard to find. The fool thing only lasted eight minutes this morning. Eight! Unfortunately, I do not have funds for a new one at this time.


Nice cool weather today—60s and mid-70s. Was cool enough to actually open the windows up last week, at least until Saturday; had to cut on the A/C for the past three days. It’s actually chilly enough right now with the windows open to think about closing them—despite wearing jeans and having my socks on. Time to snuggle up with a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa.

A friend in Canada is expecting up to 11 inches of snow. I miss my snow in the winter, believe me, but that’s a bit much for my taste. But it did spark a story idea… 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mysterious Monday: The Power of Names

As a young child, I once asked my parents to buy me one of those name plaques at a tourist attraction—you know the ones, that have not only your name on them, but the meaning as well. I came to find out that my name had a Gaelic origin (which pleased me well, as I was über proud of my Irish heritage); it meant small waterfall or a pool of water in a glen. Even before I found this out, I always loved the peace I felt in little glens of this sort.

I read a lot as a child, and in those days, I was overly fond of Irish myths and legends. I found it interesting that, according to myths, a person could have power over a supernatural creature if they knew the creature’s true name. Irish, Welsh, and Scottish myths abounded with tales of this sort.

And so, when I began writing my own stories at the tender age of ten, I was very careful of what names I chose for my characters. Before I could even consider having babies, I had tons of baby name books. My own childrens’ names were chosen very carefully—both have strong middle names and my first-born’s name means, “powerful king”; the youngest’s name means, “gift from God” (although I didn’t think God was the sort to give prank gifts before my Little Bear came along--J).

To this day, I cannot start a story unless I have chosen the names of my hero and heroine. Thank goodness for the internet!

One of my heroes is named Hart—his parents are traditionalists, of German descent. He is well aware of, and has heard, all the jokes and double entendre of his name. His name means “strong” or “brave”, but I also named him this because of the ties to British myth that are in my story. In fact, a white hart represented the otherworld in English myths and since he travels to a parallel universe—or “other world”—I thought the name apropos.

The heroes of my Nephalim book are named Gadri-el and Azazel. According to Wikipedia (I know, great source material, Lynne), Gadreel was the fallen angel who taught men about warfare. My Gadri-el is a general in his army. There is some controversy over this “fact”, with Azazel being the other militant candidate. My Gadri-el and Azazel are half brothers; Azazel serves as a captain in the Nephalim army.

So tell me about you—do you know the meaning of your name? Is it something that even interests you? What care do you take in naming the things in your life—your pets, your children, your characters?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Photo Friday--My First World Problem

As you all know from previous posts, griping about the reasons I am unable to keep up on my word count for NaNo, we were given the gift of a vacation condo stay for the week from one of my clients. It is quite pretty, but is only about 20 minutes away--close enough that you're tempted to run home for forgotten items that you "need", but far enough (and $3 in tolls each way) that it's cheaper to either do without or just buy locally (at the "inflated for tourists" prices). We thought about doing Thanksgiving dinner there, but in the end, decided that:

A) It's our first year in our new home. We'd like to have it here.
B) It would be a pain to have to make sure we had everything there--proper pans, spices, etc, as well as the main courses.

Next year, if she gives us the place again, we might, although that will be the teen's last year with us before he takes off for the Army and basic training. At any rate, what we had to suffer through:

The dining room, which looks toward the living room and the screened-in porch.

The jacuzzi in the master bedroom. 

The king-sized bed in the master bedroom. 

The 12 year-old in the spare bedroom (two full-sized beds). 

We fed bagels to ducks. 

There were fountains.

There was a pool, but I never got to it. I made dinner one night while hubby brought the pre-teen down and another day, the teen brought his brother so I could try to get some work done. So there you have it--our "problem". No weeping for me, now (even if I AM behind by over 5K words with no hope of a catch-up any time soon). :P

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Triple W Check In

Just a quick check-in today, as I have spent most of the day preparing for Thanksgiving, cleaning our stuff out of the vacation condo, and cleaning the house, as well as trying to get caught up on NaNo word count.

First off, words:

I'm behind in NaNo, thanks to all the usual busyness of the season, plus a client who likes to give us her timeshare for a week at this time of year (yes, I know, woe is me). Unfortunately, it's only 20 minutes from our home, which really doesn't make for a vacation. All the back and forth movement between the timeshare condo and our house as we try to keep up on work before the holiday has left me even further behind in everything. Didn't think that was possible, to be honest...

At any rate, current word count is 32,534; today's par for NaNo is 35K. Now, I did write nearly 4K words yesterday to try to catch up--that's how I got to the current word count. 

Last night, hubby and I went out to dinner to celebrate not only his birthday, but our 19th wedding anniversary; tonight, we are going out for the annual "Thanksgiving" dinner with a group of car enthusiasts that we are friends with. Tomorrow, I'll be making the Thanksgiving dinner, but we don't eat until after 4, so I'm hoping I will have time then and/or Friday. Saturday, I may be working and/or conducting a yard sale at a flea market. Sunday, I have to make sure the kids are ready to go back to school (homework completed, bags packed, have clean clothes). Those days will be out for catch-up word counts; in fact, I'll be lucky to make the 1667. 

On a positive note, the story is coalescing into something more than it was, the characters making themselves known, and something that is resembling an outline is forming in the fog of my brain. LOL


Let's not discuss this, shall we? Suffice to say, the pounds that I lost in Connecticut have found their way back to me in Florida. Guess I should've hidden better.


The days have been hovering in the 70s, a bit warmer than I'd like, but the nights are going down into the 50s. Not cold enough to have to wear sweaters and boots, but chilly enough that I can. When I can, I do. I love sweaters and boots. 

See you all at next week's check-in. Have a great week!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mysterious Monday: Thanksgiving Traditions

This is not the usual sort of article I’ll be putting in my blogs for Mysterious Monday, but I wanted to give a nod to one of my favorite national holidays.

I grew up in the New England area of the United States. New England was near to bursting with the traditions of the holiday that had started on its grounds. We would decorate with sheaves of dead corn stalks and cornucopia and Indian corn and gourds of various sizes and colors, along with, of course, the many decorations I had made in school.

We would spend days getting ready for the “feast”, whether it was held at our house or the home of a relative. At our house, my dad was the cook. He would get up while it was still dark outside and prep the turkey—pulling out the giblets and setting them aside for the base to his homemade gravy, stuffing the inside with the bread stuffing he had made up the day before, and rubbing the skin with oil and herbs until it shone like the hide of a horse in a show. He would place the turkey in the big roasting pan, which was only used for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and place it carefully in the oven.

When I was old enough, I helped him in this mysterious task of prepping the festive dinner. Once we had the turkey in the oven, it was time to peel the potatoes, make the dough for the rolls, and start chopping the squash.

Once everything was prepared, and the dishes we had used to that point were washed and put away, it was time to set the table with the good china. Dad would take it down and place it on the table for me and I would carefully separate it—one plate in the center of each setting, a dinner napkin folded into a triangle placed to the left of the plate, the dinner and dessert forks laying on top of the napkin, knife and spoon on the right, an etched glass on the right above the plate. I loved setting the table that everyone would be eating at; somehow, for this holiday, it seemed different from all the other days that I had to set it.

With dinner cooking and the table set, I was allowed to go outside to play. Outside, in those early days in New Hampshire, the wind would howl and sometimes snow would fall, dancing merrily on the wind currents. I would bundle up in my longjohns, jeans, boots, a button-up cowboy shirt under a sweater, and a jacket, mittens, scarf and cap; then, it was outside to run and jump in the leaves or taste the snow as it fell to earth.
After an hour or so, I would come back inside, having had my little adventures, and Mom would have hot cocoa ready for me. The almost painful feeling of that heat enveloping me as I came in the door is still one of my favorite memories of cold weather. I would remove all of my outdoor clothes and slip on a pair of fuzzy slippers (I still love fuzzy pink or purple slippers to this day), then sit at the table while I slowly thawed out, the warmth of the cocoa on my insides and the drowsy, yummy heat of the kitchen on my outsides meeting somewhere in the middle to meld into a very contented little girl.

The smells of cinnamon from Mom’s pumpkin and squash pies would combine with the scents of cooking vegetables and—when Dad opened the oven to baste the turkey—the mouth-watering scent of a roasting bird and baking bread, to drive my poor stomach nearly insane with wanting to eat.  Soon—but not soon enough—Dad would take the turkey from the oven and place it on the carving board. Mom and I would wait for those first few cuts and “sneak” some of the meat, still hot on the bird; for his part, Dad would turn his back on the “thief” and pretend to be shocked to find a piece of meat missing. Mom always said the best turkey was the bits we snuck while my dad’s back was turned.

After dinner, we would rest our poor bellies for a bit, then put away the food. We washed the dishes as a team, singing as we worked to make the chore seem lighter. If the weather was not too horrible, we would take a walk after that, to “make room” for the pies, which were still to come. Pie with whipped cream, and coffee or tea, rounded off the meal of the day and we would all wind up in various states of tryptophan-induced drowsiness while the football game played in the background on the TV.

I miss those wonderful days—the ones spent with just my parents and the later ones, when we would have Thanksgiving with my grandparents and my aunts, uncles and cousins in Connecticut. Every year, I hope and pray that our Thanksgiving in Florida will be a chilly one to recapture some of that flavor of the old days up north. It’s not quite Thanksgiving day, but it is currently 59ºF and my youngest son has just presented me with a “hand turkey” drawing that he made last night when he couldn’t sleep. The mystery of holiday traditions continues. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Devil or Angel?

So last August, my parents got a new kitten, after their old cat passed away a month or two before. We all thought it was a lovely idea. My mother, who has Alzheimer's and is a virtual shut in (not "virtual" as in she's on the computer all day, virtual as in, the only time she gets out of the house is when my dad makes her get out & go with him someplace), loved the new cat. Until she came to the (literally) painful conclusion that kittens are very different creatures from cats. 

The as-of-then-unnamed kitten would claw and scratch and bite her; the kitten was just being playful, but my mother, with her disease, was even more traumatized by the attacks than a healthy person would be. She wanted to keep the kitten, though, because sometimes, the kitten was such a doll. In fact, my son named her "Kisses" because she also has this habit of kissing the person whose arms she is in.

I just came back from a visit to my parents' house and the kitten has grown into a small cat. Now, she looks like this:

Sure, she still looks all sweet and innocent, but when she's closed in her room at night, she sleeps until around 3:00 a.m.--as in 0300, as in one hour after the bars close, two and a half hours before my usual rising time. When she wakes, she proceeds to yowl as though her little kitty heart were breaking. I was tempted to reach down her throat and remove it after day three, just to see if it was indeed broken. Tempted. She is still fine, PETA. She also claws, scratches, and pulls at the door to the bedroom, shaking the door on its frame and making a general racket. If you let her out at this point, she proceeds to run about the house, breaking things.

My parents are old. They have neither time nor patience for what is, in reality, a child who needs not only love, but discipline. They have all the love in the world to give, but Kisses is out of control and they do not have the skills at this point in their lives, especially with Mom's disease and me living 1200 miles away with my own growing family, to take proper care of her. 

My father now has an ad up at his job and he is hoping to find Kisses a new home before the end of the year. At that point, they might--stress the might--go to a shelter and rescue an older, more settled cat; one who can be the companion my mom is looking for, but not the Hellion that a young cat naturally is. As I was looking at the pictures of Kisses this morning, preparing to write this blog, a song by my mom's favorite singer kept running through my head. With that in mind, here's some of the lyrics, feel free to find it on YouTube or somewhere--Elvis Presley's "Devil in Disguise". It suits our little Kisses, that's certain.

"You look like an angel
Walk like an angel
Talk like an angel
But I got wise
You're the devil in disguise"

(And yes, I do know the title of the blog is the title of another song from that era by Bobby Vee. Pardon me while I pull up my support bra and put my teeth in.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wednesday Check In: Words, weight & weather

Word Count:

Currently, I am sitting pretty with NaNo, or at least still seated, with a word count of 21,853, which has me caught up as of yesterday. When you consider that I did not write Monday, except for my blog entry, that’s not bad. 

I only worked about an hour yesterday (I work from home as an independent sales rep for a major company). I did have to do grocery shopping after being away for five days, but when I got home and put the groceries away, it was BICHOK (Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard). I wrote a total of 3352 words yesterday alone. I have yet to write today’s 1667, but I am actually ahead by 187 words, so all I really NEED to write to stay on top of NaNo is 1480. One good hour/hour and a half can knock that out.

Weight Loss:

The plan, while I was in Connecticut visiting my parents, was to take a walk every morning. They live in a perfect area for it—hilly, with some long, steep hills and some short, gentle hills. There are some sidewalks, but traffic is not that much of a problem in general, except when the middle school is starting or letting out, and even then, the school is around the corner, so it’s easy to avoid. That was the plan. My parents’ sleepless, noisy, obnoxious kitten had other ideas. She yowled so loudly every night, pulling and scratching on the door to her room, that sleep was impossible; letting her out only allowed her to make noise by breaking things.

Exhaustion will do bad things for you when it comes to exercise and healthy eating choices. My parents also have a house that’s more full of candy, cookies, and general sweets than the witch’s house from Hansel & Gretel. My mom, who has Alzheimer’s, also has a huge sweet tooth; my dad works a lot and so he keeps the sweets in the house so that she will at least eat SOMETHING when he is not around. Despite this, and the irresistible call of a decent pizza that sweeps over me every time I go home, I managed to lose three pounds (a little over a pound of which was re-gained last night with burgers and fries—one burger, Lynne. ONE burger!). I am now down to 213.8, working hard on getting below that 210 mark before I set my new goal.

I’ve begun planning the menu for the week, so that not only is grocery shopping going to become easier (and maybe cheaper), but there will not be as many “catch as catch can” dinners.  Tonight will be chicken, rice, and broccoli. Water and salad will be consumed first, as an appetizer.


Well, I’m definitely back in Florida. The temp yesterday went into the 80s. No more long pants during the day, at least not at the moment. Connecticut had absolutely beautiful weather while I was there. It snowed the day before my arrival. Each day, the temp went up into the 60s, with night temps in the 30s, which kept the snow around for a few days, even as it slowly disappeared.

I am hopeful that next week, with Thanksgiving here, we will at least see some 50s & 60s during the day. I just want to be able to turn off my air conditioner and open the windows.

Some pics from Connecticut:

My parents' back yard:

Look! I got to wear boots!

A bit of snow on the roof (just like me! :-) )

My boot prints in the snow:

Broad Brook, which flows through Meriden. One of my favorite spots. Took my boy fishing here last trip.

The hill on the other side of the road from Broad Brook. I love the whole topography of Connecticut.

A pond/lake at the base of Meriden Mountain. One of my other favorite spots. When I lived in Connecticut, I would take lunch breaks here whenever I could. When the stress of dealing with my mom's illness got too much a couple years ago, this is where I went to calm down. 

If you had your choice, where in the world would you live? Would weather be a factor or just something to be dealt with?