Monday, April 29, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Searching for Spirituality

I was born into a mixed religion family. My father had been raised Methodist, my mother Protestant, so I was primed for religious open-mindedness right away. This is not to say that those who were born to parents who shared a religion are not; just stating my background and what it means to me.

As a young girl in New Hampshire, I attended Sunday school every week at the local Protestant church. I heard all the stories, I sang all the songs, I held the candles at Christmas and ate the “body of Christ” and drank the “blood of Christ” at Easter. Those are lovely images for young, imaginative children, by the way.  o_O

When we moved to North Carolina, we were unable, surprisingly (not) to find a Protestant church anywhere. There were churches all over the place, but my mother, a good New England Protestant, would never consider stepping foot inside a Baptist church without her being invited by a friend or relative. It just wasn’t in her nature to seek the new, the different. My father in those days was working a lot and so he really didn’t pay much attention. My religious education began to slip.

Less than two years later, we moved back to New England, to Connecticut, but by then the habit of not attending had been established. We became the type of attendees that many people sneer at—the holiday church-goers. We attended every Easter and Christmas—religiously, if you’ll pardon the pun. When I began working at the age of 15, Sundays became a necessary work day since most restaurants require you to work on Sundays or at least be available. When I turned 16 and began waitressing, the lure of the almighty dollar was too strong for me to resist and I volunteered to work every Sunday. My week-ends, starting on Friday night and continuing through Sunday night, were when I made the most tips.

In college, I learned about other religions and began to explore. I dabbled in Buddhism and New Age religions, mixing a little of this with a little of that until I had an unrecognizable form as my religion. I studied astral projection and past life regression and witchcraft. I dabbled in spells (only white, never dark). I realized that there was more out there than just what we could see when I encountered spirits and, once even, a demon. At one point, I almost became a Catholic, because the boy I was seeing was Catholic and his parents would not allow us to marry unless I was Catholic. He caved to parental pressure and I stopped my studies when we broke up.

These days, I call myself a Christian Wiccan. I believe some tenets of Christianity—that there is a higher power and it is a good and benevolent power, but expects us to treat our fellow humans a certain way. I also believe as Wiccans do, mainly their first “law”—“And it harm none.” Recently, I have had my eyes opened once more by a woman who posted that she was a Witch, not a Wiccan. Silly, lightly informed me had thought they were one and the same. It turns out, I am both and neither, with more leaning toward Witch than Wiccan. I do not wait for certain times of the year/moon cycle to cast spells. I do not work from a spell-book. I do not have a Wiccan name. I would love the sense of community that a Wiccan coven would bring, but honestly, I am a solitary person and I find that a lot of times, when you get more than a few women into an organized group, things can go to Hell in a hand-basket rather quickly. Add a few men, and I’m not sure it would be any better.

So, to sum up, I believe in a higher power—call it God, the Goddess, whatever you like. I believe that power to be benevolent. I believe that if we are kind to each other and honest and trustworthy, we are not going to spend eternity in some fiery pit. Neither of my boys is baptized, because we were not able to bring them to a church of our choice when they were babies, but I don’t believe this will have them roaming around in the “in-between” after their deaths if they are good people in their lives. One thing the Witch’s article taught me is that I still don’t know what I think I know, and that’s a good thing. I prefer to be balancing on one leg than standing confidently on two when it comes to certain things; I don’t want to feel so sure of myself that I become obnoxious. This is not to say that everyone who is confident of their religion is obnoxious, but I might be if I wereI have that tendency. Plus, there’s something to be said for constantly learning, constantly opening your mind and spirit to new (positive) ideas.

What about you? What are your religious views? How did you come by them? Do you think everyone should believe as you do or do you follow more of a "and it harm none" sort of philosophy?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday Check In

Well, do you want the good news or the bad news first? I’m gonna start with the not-so-good and finish on a positive note.


Well, I gained a bit back this week and I forgot to take the picture. I am at 194.2. Huge cravings hit me for some reason and I was also sick for a couple of days so I didn’t feel up to exercising. I actually only exercised the last three days of the last seven, except for a small bit on the treadmill on Saturday. I know I can weather this happening once in a while and I don’t feel too bad since I was at my lowest last week. That being said, I am now further away from my next weight goal of getting into the 180s.

And so, I shall have to buckle down once more, just a bit; not punishment, just no seconds. Today. And no eating more than one serving of molasses cookies. Today. And I won’t just focus on the negatives, on the “nots”. I will have a nice, fresh salad today. I will cut up the strawberries and have them with some low-fat whipped cream today. I will have a nice big piece of salmon for dinner, along with some rice and a veg. Don’t care that hubby won’t be home for dinner. I can eat healthy without him, too. This morning, for breakfast, I had an English muffin with peanut butter to ramp up my energy. I’ll buy a cantaloupe at the store later or a watermelon and slice it up.

Since I am bored senseless with my current exercise routine, I am going to clean up my front room (where the treadmill is) and have my son teach me some of his karate moves to spice things up. I’ll ask my other son to show me some of the Marine hand-to-hand fighting that he learned, as well as some of their exercises (that’s where I got the idea for the flutter kicks). I may have the boys teach me to ride a bicycle; it’s embarrassing, but I never did learn. When finances allow, I’ll join the Y to take advantage of their pool. The Y isn’t close, but it’s probably cheaper, and less intimidating, than the hoochie-momma gym around the corner. Still can’t afford yoga in my area, but one day I will.


Well, here’s where I shone this week. I had a story idea that’s been tugging at me for some time, a Western. Yeah, yeah, I know. But it’s not your typical Western; it’s a paranormal Western, in keeping with my blog's theme. No, not Cowboys & Aliens. Just paranormal, involving spirits and mysticism and impossible love made possible. It is currently titled, “The Western”. Real creative for a writer, eh? The problem is, it’s still in its infancy and so it hasn’t given me its title yet. I’ve titled books too soon before and wind up with names that make no sense to the story—I give you “In the Blood”, which has nothing to do with blood. It was going to, but then didn’t go that way. Problem was, I’d already started posting it on the fan fic sites, so I was stuck with the name. The closest that story came (and it’s a stretch) to having anything to do with blood was that the main characters share a rare genetic trait. A single strand of DNA. That’s it.

So, getting back to the writing that I accomplished this week. In the new fic, I managed to get 3117 new words written, 2025 of them in the new fic. This sparked a renewed interest in QK, in which I wrote 1092 words this week. I plan to write up a “plan book” or a “play book” for QK this coming week, in which I put all the info—the players, the tech, the magic, all of it, as well as a very rough outline. I am, by nature, a pantser, but I am finding that a part of me yearns for order. Maybe this is a response to all that’s going on with Mom & Dad, but suddenly, my inner Control Freak is freaking out. She wants to take over. And so, I’ve been having more interest in some sort of plotting of my stories.

This week's prompt:

Vocab: Utopia--a perfect world
Prompt: What’s your idea of the perfect world?   

Monday, April 22, 2013

Mysterious Monday: Lavender

Those of you who have been following my blog know that I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. With my mother’s difficulty adjusting to the nursing home after having to be moved from the assisted living facility, and my father’s stress over that and his brother-in-law’s sudden diagnosis with liver cancer, things have been more than usually crazy around my house. Needless to say, my blood pressure has been on the high end. Some days, I thought I would have a frikkin’ heart attack from the banging of my heart. I hate medicine, even hate taking aspirin or ibuprofen when I have a headache. Many years ago, I turned to natural healing as an alternative.

I began with essential oils and also with minerals, like the love stone of my previous blog entry. Essential oils are one of the ways to use alternative forms of medicine. Essential oils are the concentrated form of the plants from which they are derived. Many of these oils are very, very strong and should be used with caution (and often dilution).  

Lavender is one of my favorites. I love the scent of it and it has a very calming effect. I have used it for many years to help with anxiety. I tend to project and worry even when there is no cause, so you can imagine how much I worry when there is something to worry about. From all that I’ve read about lavender and its versatility, I highly recommend keeping this oil in your holistic medicine cabinet.

Image courtesy of Feelart at

Lavender has helped my sleepless nights. I dab a little on a tissue and rub that tissue along the bottom of my pillow. Lay my head down, inhale, and I’m off to dreamland.

At times when I’ve thought my heart would explode from my chest, I’ve dabbed a little lavender on my wrists and other pulse points. Instantly, I could feel my heart slow down to normal.

Lavender is good for relieving pain. Add a little to a massage oil and work it into sore muscles. Pour a little into the bath and settle in for a nice long soak. Tight muscles? Cramps? Add to a warm compress and apply to the affected area.

Lavender oil is also good for coughs and colds. Add a bit to a vaporizer or put a dollop in a pot of boiled water. Place a towel over your head and form a tent from it with your head and the pot as the joining ends. Inhale the steam. Breath deep.

Lavender oil has antiseptic properties and so is good for minor burns and other skin irritations, including acne. If you use it on cuts or any open wounds, be sure you are using the pure, undiluted, therapeutic-grade oil. Most of the stuff sold in chain stores is not the pure kind. I’ve read that it also can be used as a deodorant, since it kills bacteria.

You can repel insects with lavender oil. Try rubbing some along the window sills of your home, as well as along electric outlet covers and other areas where bugs get in. You’ll keep out the ickies and your house will smell nice and be a relaxing place for all who enter. CAUTION: BEWARE OF USING WHEN YOUR MIL VISITS. SHE MAY FEEL SO RELAXED THAT SHE RETURNS, AGAIN AND AGAIN.  

As ever with these medical posts of mine, bear in mind that I am no doctor. I report things I have read and sometimes learned from experience. Please consult your doctor before using lavender in place of any treatment; if you do not do so, YOU are the one responsible for any negative results, not me or your doctor or anyone else. Also, since lavender promotes blood flow, pregnant women should avoid this essential oil. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Five for Friday: Inspiring Males

As a writer, I need to be able to picture my characters. This is especially important for my main characters, my heroes and heroines. Maybe it’s because I’m visual or maybe it’s because I have a fan fiction background, but actors have always served as inspiration for me. This week’s FFF is dedicated to some of those men in my fan fiction works.

The first romance I wrote was in the Robin Hood BBC fandom. I have always had a thing for men with pretty eyes and eyelashes. Don’t know what it is about them, but it’s one of the features I love best about my hubby (Shh! Don’t tell him—he thinks it’s his biceps!).  Allan A’Dale, played by Joe Armstrong (whose daddy, ironically named Alun, is a well-known British actor) caught my eye almost immediately. His was the first character we met in the series; his face, and those gorgeous eyelashes, one of the first things we see. Allan was the hero of The Thief, my first novel-length fan fiction.

The second book in my Thieves series, Den of Thieves, focused on the growing relationship between Allan and my original character, Deirdre. I did, however, add a secondary love story, as well as adding a bit of a triangle to the Allan/Deirdre romance. The secondary love story had a hard man to love at its center, Guy of Gisborne (I spell it Gisbourne in my series). He was a bit more difficult to work with for me, as I tend to like the sarcastic, cheeky characters a bit more than the serious ones. I paired him with a young woman who's life had already been filled with tragedy, Adelaide. Sir Guy was played by Richard Armitage.

The third angle of my love triangle was my first original male romance hero. At first, no one liked Ruarc O’Brian. He was not only cheeky, he was downright obnoxious. Of course, he was trying to win my heroine, Deirdre, away from the hero, Allan, who was actually a character from the fandom. We later discover why he acts the way he does and he becomes the tragic hero; in fact, many of my readers began to want my heroine to run away with him. Gerry Butler was the inspiration for Ruarc.

Another of my favorite actors is Kavan Smith, who played Major Evan Lorne in Stargate Atlantis. Another man with gorgeous eyes, and another underused character. Lorne was the 21C of the Atlantis Expedition and was always saving the hero of the show’s butt. Major Lorne was usually quite solemn, very dedicated to his job and his position, but the first time we see him, he is trading barbs with another character. Those hints of his dry sense of humor were what drew me to Lorne (outside of the lovely eyes, of course). The first time I remember seeing him was in SGA, despite the fact that his character first appeared in a single episode of Stargate SG1. Evan Lorne became the love interest in my third finished/fourth overall novel-length fan fiction, In the Blood.

Finally, we come to Ryan Robbins, who appeared as Ladin Radim in SGA, but whose character Henry Foss in Sanctuary is the one who actually stole my heart. Henry is definitely a cheeky chappy and we realize this from the get-go. He’ll give you his opinion, but if you don’t want to take it, it’s on you, he’s done all he can. I actually liked Henry more before we found out that he was a HAP (Hyper Accelerated Protean life form)—that’s a werewolf to you and me. I didn’t much care for the special effects of his wolfy form. I have not posted any romance stories involving him, but I have posted a couple of little humorous one-shots (short short stories) with him at the center. If you go looking for them, they are on and Forbidden.

There are other inspirations, both in fandoms and outside of them, but that’s a post for another week. Enjoy!

(All screen shots captured by me from DVDs I own. For entertainment purposes only. No copyright infringement intended. Please buy the DVDs if you are interested in the shows--Robin Hood BBC, Timeline (Ruarc), Stargate Atlantis, and Sanctuary are all available from local retailers or online.)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wednesday Check In


This week was a battle to get my 1750 words, despite being ahead of the game last week. Lots of stress this week, as things went from bad to worse with my mom. Last Wednesday, she was moved from the assisted living facility (which does not accept Title 19) to her new nursing home. She immediately began to have fits of violence, putting both herself and her new roommate in danger. The nursing home had no choice but to send her to the E.R. and she was then brought to a specialized geriatric hospital where they are giving her counseling and adjusting her medications, as they think the balance was off.

Now her meds have been adjusted and she is doing better, much more like her old self. I made the decision, along with my dad’s friends and caregivers, that we would keep this information from my dad for the moment. He is visiting his BIL, who is dying of liver cancer, and does not need the stress of this information, particularly when there is nothing he can do to help (but he will stress over being helpless, too). It is likely that we will tell him soon, mainly because he will keep asking after my mom and he’ll ask specifics, like “how is she adjusting to the new place” and such. I am also worried that he’ll call the new place to check on her and find out she’s not there. So, since she’s doing better now, we’ll probably tell him what happened. He’ll still worry about things he can’t control, as that’s his way, but there’s nothing I can do about that.

At any rate, between the extra stress of Mom’s situation, once more having to lie to a parent, making sure Dad got his tickets and got to the airport okay (making arrangements, as I live 1200 miles away from my folks), being on the phone nearly constantly with the new hospital since I wanted to be put as the contact person to keep Dad in the dark for now, and all of my usual life’s craziness, writing has been forced to the back seat. I have to keep my phone on and by my side constantly, even overnight, lest the hospital needs to get hold of me in an emergency, so there is no “turn off the phone and disappear from the world while I bang out a thousand words” for me right now. Soon.

I am writing this part (and finished the last 100 words I needed for this week’s count) at 6:30 in the morning, on a morning when my teen is home sick with a cough he’s been fighting for a week, so we’ll be off to the clinic later, too. I have to be by my phone and computer until noon, as it’s order day in my sales business and I will have last minute orders from customers, as well as from new reps that are in my group.

It’s no wonder I can’t seem to get even the 250/day done when my pockets of time are under constant threat of being invaded by phone calls. And I have always subscribed to the theory that people are both psychic and mean—I’ll have no phone calls for hours on end while I run errands that need to be run or do chores around the house. The moment I sit down to write, that’s when the phone rings. So I will be very glad when Mom is settled and I am able to resume a bit of normalcy—not just for me, but for her and my dad, too. They need to find their new normal, without living with each other. We have two more hurdles to go—one when Mom returns to the nursing home and the second when she finds out that is her new permanent home.

Long story short (too late!), I did manage to make the 1750 for the week, but just barely. This week, I have to really buckle down and work on the contest entries. I have just a little over a week to finish and return them. Today’s agenda includes transcribing the notes for the two I’ve already judged and getting them back to the judges so they don’t get them all en masse, from me, at least. I also want to finish the third one and get that transcribed and returned and get started on the fourth. Oh, they’re 25 pages each, by the way, not 20. Whoops! Yes, this is on top of the other stuff and trying to get in 250 words of writing to count toward next week’s goal.

At any rate, your prompt and vocab word.

Vocab: execrable: extremely bad or unpleasant.
Prompt: You live in paradise. What could be so bad?


This week has been a struggle with weight, too. Staying on track amidst all that stress when I’m dying to stress eat and binge on pasta and bread has been difficult. Exercising when all I want to do is curl up in a ball and pretend the world doesn’t exist has also been a struggle. On the up side, my monthly has traipsed out the door for the time being.

This week did see me hit two new lows and that is a first since all of this drama with my parents kicked into high gear at the end of February. This despite skipping exercise one day and loading up on bread one evening.

I did try to eat a little better most days, spacing my meals out and eating things (and being filled up by them) that I did not think I would normally. For example, one morning, I had granola and fruit for breakfast. Another day, I had peanut butter on a toasted wheat thin roll with cantaloupe for breakfast. Lunch was just a tuna sandwich on one of the thin wheat rolls (not so unusual, just unusual that it would fill me up), another day, it was just a baked sweet potato with homemade cinnamon butter—the unusual thing were the smaller amount of butter that I used and the fact that I ate the skin, too. Last night’s dinner was steamed fish and broccoli, along with brown rice; I don’t usually eat that much broccoli (at least a good cup, cup and a half) and I don’t usually eat it without it dripping in cheese sauce.

I had no snack last night, as I was so exhausted that I took a nap at 7:00 and didn’t wake up until nearly 9:00. Naturally, there were four important messages on my phone and I had to return phone calls until after 9:30. See? Psychic and mean. I watched a little TV to bring my brain back to calm (comatose, whatever—why mince words?), then tried to write a bit, but my brain was too far gone by that point and my body was crying out to go back to sleep. I think I’m fighting a bit of this same cold that’s been plaguing the teen.

Well, to finish, here is my check-in for the day. A new low--third one this week! See you all soon!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mysterious Monday: the Goddess

Religion is a central or at least very important part of many people’s lives. Nowadays, most religions are patriarchal, or centered on a male deity, but such was not always the case. In ancient times, most people worshiped some sort of female deity, often referred to as a sort of “Mother Goddess”.

Image by Itwasn'tme101 on DeviantArt

Sometimes, this goddess was the head of the religion and was accorded all the respect that is now given to male deities. At other times, the female deity was given equal billing to her “kingly” husband—rarely was she ever considered to have second seat to him, unless, like many wives of today, she just let him think he was in charge. She was the female to his male, the white to his black, the yin to his yang, the peace to his violence.

Mother goddesses permeate many religions, even today. The Mother Goddess, who is sometimes referred to as the Great Goddess, is the central deity of Wicca, a nature religion with deep roots in the past. In this religion, she is often seen as a three-part deity—Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The Virgin Mary, while not a goddess, is often worshipped and prayed to just as a goddess would be, as the mother of the Christ, who could technically be classified as a demi-god.

Triple Goddess by benu-h on DeviantArt

Why this fascination with female deities, though? I personally believe that it has a lot to do with reproduction. Until the last couple of centuries, reproduction was a mystery. I’m sure that the ancients knew that it took a male’s “essence” to impregnate a woman, but for that load of cum to merge with the female and become a living, breathing human being—that was the mystery. Women not only grew the child within their bodies, they brought them into the world in pain and blood (which also have mysteries and religions associated with them—pain transcending a person out of their bodies and blood being such a huge component of life itself). Once the child emerged from the female’s body, she then was the one to keep it alive, using the milk of her breasts.

Men, beyond the first “donation” were not welcome to participate in these events, nor were they likely interested in them. Even today, many men are squeamish about watching their mate give birth—oddly, it’s often the same men who will go hunting and gut an animal with hardly a thought. And so the whole process was given a mystic pedestal to stand upon.

For a time, patriarchal religions ruled the world. Even these days, they are the norm rather than the exception. But the Mother is nothing if not patient (and occasionally short-tempered, but mostly patient). Like water weathering a shoreline to create a new delta, she carries on, eroding as she builds, perhaps not noticed but never able to be completely ignored. More and more people are turning back to some of the old religions, to the old ways, and opening their hearts to the Mother once more, particularly when they find out she is not the evil that she has been portrayed as.

Blessed be.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Winning the Powerball, Part II

Last week, I did a little dreaming, wondering what I would spend the money on if I won the $32.5 million Powerball. But five things was not nearly enough for what I would like to do with that sort of money, and so, as I thought I would last week, I am writing Powerball, Part II this week. With last week’s “spending”, I should have about $12 million or so left.

1.  I’ve been reading a lot about investing for the future lately. With all that my parents have had to go through with “spending down” to qualify for Title 19, you might find this surprising. My parents had a modest little nest egg of under $150,000 socked away for a rainy day. Unfortunately, it poured on them. Even if it hadn’t, $150,000 is not nearly enough to last through a retirement should things go south.

 I would take $4 million and set it aside in investments of various kinds--$2 for hubby & I, $1 for each of the boys. By the time we retire in 30 years, that amount could reach amazing numbers. I used a Roth IRA calculator just to figure an approximate value. If we were to put just $2 million of the $32 million aside, we could have some very golden Golden Years. That investment alone (if you can invest that much in a Roth—I don’t know; I’m just learning about this stuff), would generate a balance of over $5 million and allow us to withdraw $329,000 annually to “live on” when we retire.

Giving that money to the teen would generate just over $9,900,000 by the time he “retires”, allowing him to withdraw over $613,000 annually. The 12 year-old would start his retirement with over $12,600,000 and be able to withdraw over $783,000 annually for living expenses. Makes me wish I had that kind of money right now.

2.  I have loved horses since before I could say the word. Some of my earliest memories are of horses—the Clydesdale that stepped on my foot when I was four and instead of freaking out, I pushed against his leg and he moved. “No big deal, Mommy,” I declared to my frantic mother. The Shetland that I won in a raffle and we couldn’t afford to keep when I was about six; the Arabian filly that I was given for free and we couldn’t afford to transport, let alone board when I was thirteen (Dad put the kibosh on my riding her from New Hampshire to Connecticut, and at the time, I had no idea why).

At any rate, I would get myself a small stable—mainly comprised of “rescue” horses and Arabians. The rescue horses because I could help them, the Arabians for showing and riding. The actual number of animals would fluctuate, but I would have a dozen stalls in the barn. I would have paddocks and trails for riding.

3.  Vehicles. My hubby is a vehicle nut. I would buy at least two or three “fun cars”—the ones you only use to race at the track (not professionally, of course) or to go off-roading in. For myself, I would probably buy an old Mustang (circa 1966) or a Monte Carlo SS (the ones with the straight back window, not the bubbled one), and possibly, just maybe, I might splurge and buy myself a Bughatti Veyron. I love speed and power.

Hubby could finally get his Jeep, and his Subaru BRZ (although with more cash flow, he may change his “dream cars”.

4.  Businesses. I would buy a couple of businesses. Our kids have always been X-sports types. BMX-ing, air-softing, parqour, whatever it is, you can be sure it’s not a mainstream sport with my kids. Well, not mainstream is frowned upon in our society.

One business I would have is to open parks around the country where kids could go and participate in these sports. The very basics would be free, but if they wanted more advanced stuff (mil-sims for the air-softing, for example), there would be a different area and a small fee. They could rent the equipment. There would be food and drink and a place for Mom & Dad for the littler kids.

I would also like to open a combo book store/internet café. I know books are going out of style, but by combining it with the café as a nostalgic place to meet, it could be a viable business. I know Barnes & Noble already does this, but I want my own place—someplace where authors, both famous and local, could come and meet the people, have book-signings, and where those who were illiterate could come to learn to read (offered as a service).

Finally, I would open up a line of non-snooty, just sensible, healthy food restaurants. That does not mean I would be serving the lawn up as a beverage or a main course. I’m not into all that fois gras stuff. Just sensible—fruits and steamed veggies, along with baked, boiled, broiled, and steamed poultry and fish. Rice in many varieties would be offered. Steak and potatoes would also be served in my restaurant, but would cost a bit more. Everything would be fresh. There would be no soda, but water and fruit drinks and teas. I might have Gordon Ramsey come in and prepare a signature dish or two for the place.

5.  I can’t think of any other material things that I could do with the money, and so I will put the final thing as volunteering. With my current schedule of work and kids and work and hubby and work and parents and work and writing and work, I am unable to give any more of myself without coming apart. I would love to volunteer somewhere—a nursing home, an animal shelter, somewhere like that, to give back to the community.  

Oh, and a caveat about the donating money section from last week—on thinking about it, I would very likely just put money aside into an investment account for each place that I wanted to donate to and give them the interest every year, perhaps setting it up as a trust or something. That way, instead of a one-time donation of, say, $500,000, I could give them maybe 5%-10% of that every year for the life of the investment. At 5%, that would only be $25,000 per year, but in the long run, they would receive more. Does that make sense?

At any rate, I think I’m out of money. Hope those businesses do well!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wednesday Check-in

So this week’s check in has some positive news. First, in writing:

This week, I was able to get two of my six contest entries judged. If I can keep on that schedule, I’ll get them all done in time. Despite adding the judging to my already hectic RL, I was somehow able to knock out 2451 new words, including 148 words in a new erotic short. I was also able to keep up on my blog entries, as well as editing and adding some things to my WordPress blog. Last Wednesday evening, I participated in my first chat on Savvy Authors in months, and last Saturday was my RWA meeting. So lots of writing related stuff going on this week. Bear in mind that my word count does not reflect any of the blog writing. The blog writing adds another 2022, nearly doubling the word count; if you include this one, that count goes to 3095, making the total word count for the week (writing related, not including blog responses, ‘cause, let’s not get stupid, here) a whopping 5546.

Most of my writing was actually done in Word at the computer, but just the other day, my newly-employed teen, Mr. Big Bucks, went out and got the smart phone that we said he could get when he had a job. Since they were BOGO, I got mine finally, too, at long last entering the modern age. My phone is a Nokia, a Windows phone, and once I figure it out, I should be able to use Office right from the phone. That will come in handy for those days when I forget my notebook and wind up waiting for one of the kids. The cool thing is, worst case scenario, I can always text myself with a scene—the texting has voice recognition and I may see if there’s a way the Office app can have it, as well. Perhaps I can even find one of those roll-up wireless keyboards that might sync with it—that would be awesome!

At any rate, it’s good to be writing again, even if it’s not every day and even if some might consider those numbers minute. I know some people who are doing a 750 a day challenge, others who write thousands of words a day, either in a setting like Camp NaNo or just as a general rule. For me, with my current life craziness, I prefer the 250; if I go over, I can feel accomplished instead of constantly feeling depressed about not making the higher numbers.

Life may be settling down for a bit now (knock wood), as Mom was brought to her new home yesterday, and my father is nearly done spending down to meet the requirements of his Title 19. We’ll know more when he returns from visiting his dying BIL, an uncle who is dear to me despite my never having had the chance to meet him.

Prompt: You are torn from your own time into another (future or past). When and where are you? Tell us what happens.
Vocab: Temporal: Having to do with time.


This has been a really bad week as far as keeping track has gone. I have gone for days at a time without logging in to MyFitnessPal or logging my exercise, but not my food. Hubby came home from his vacay Sunday night. With fudge. Luckily, most of it was nutty fudge and I prefer either plain or flavored (peanut butter, maple) fudge. Also, my Monthly Monster, who was absent for the past few months, returned first thing Monday morning (welcome home, honey!), bringing with her all the chocolate, sweets, pasta and bread cravings en masse. Rotten little bitch.

At any rate, I have kept up on the exercise, despite the exhaustion of too many late nights followed by too many early mornings; the only day I did not exercise that I should have was Saturday, when I decided to sleep in before my RWA meeting. I wanted to be awake for the meeting, plus I had to leave early to pick up one of my other “sons” at the train station and bring my own kid to work as well as picking him up after midnight. So I knew I was in for a long day—an extra hour of sleep didn’t seem like much to ask at that point.

So there is what greeted me on the scale this morning—not the lowest my weight has been; it’s been a super-struggle since I returned from Connecticut and all the stress of that situation. However, it is a two pound loss from last week. I think what I need to do is just hunker down for the next couple of weeks to break this high-190s barrier. So I will get my butt back to logging every morsel of food that passes into my mouth. I will begin adding to my calisthenics and upping the treadmill time. 

This morning, I spent a full hour on the treadmill, as well as logging extra calisthenics. I did all 40 of my sit-ups at once, without stopping. I got the butterfly kicks done in two sets of 20 instead of four sets of 10. I added five regular push-ups and fifteen easy push-ups. I added a set of butterfly leg stretches and bent knee forward bends to my single set of ten. I added an additional set of ten each of my weight lifting (two pound weights, no bench required). I added twenty jumping jacks that hubby would be most upset to have missed if he knew (he’s such a perve).

The cali routine as of today:

One set of 5 knee bent back stretches.
One set of 5 straight leg back stretches.
One set of 40 sit ups.
Two sets of 20 butterfly kicks.
Two sets of 10 side leg lifts.
Three sets each of 5 normal push-ups followed by 15 easy push-ups (so 5/15, 5/15, 5/15).
(Three diamond push-ups, just for shits and giggles & to see if I could.)
Two sets of 10 butterfly leg stretches.
Two sets of 10 bent leg forward stretches.
Three sets of 10 each: front curls, side raises, side to front curls (arm exercises, done with two pound weights).
One set of 20 windmills.
Two sets of 10 jumping jacks.
Five single sets of alternating child pose and cobra pose to stretch my back and cool down.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mysterious Monday: My Muse

I often talk with my friends about my muse—the amount and quality of my writing is directly proportional to her presence. When she is around and in writing mode, I can get thousands of words written; just check out my NaNoWriMo wins (2 for 2). When she is not around, the words simply do not come. But who or what is a muse?

The muses were the ancient Greek goddesses of the arts & sciences. They were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. One odd thing I found , though, in researching these goddesses, was that there was not a muse of story-telling, per se. Calliope is the closest, as the muse of epic poetry and sometimes also of eloquence.

Clio was the muse of historical poetry, Eratos the muse of love poetry. Any one of these three could be said to be behind my own inspiration, along with maybe Urania, the muse of astronomy. I say this because I write historical as well as science fiction romance.

At the moment, my muse is being flighty. One day she’s here, giving me plenty of writing ammo, the next, she’s nowhere to be found. Yesterday, I had plenty of time to write, but my eyes were so sore and I spent most of the day in a state of physical and mental exhaustion, to the point that this blog entry was all that I was able to produce, with effort. Despite a nap and taking ibuprofen, I was unable to get over the heaviness of my eyelids and the sheer exhaustion. 

Saturday, I was only able to fit in about 150 words in an erotic short. The only thing I could think of that was different from the previous week was that I did not exercise this week-end. I’ve also been waiting up for my teen to get out of work, sometimes as late as midnight, and still getting up between 5:30 & 6:00 in the morning.

This week, my husband is back home and so I will not have to burn the candle at both ends as much. I am hoping that the increase in sleep hours to something resembling human normal will tempt Miss Muse back into the fold. If not, then I will try some exercises that I’ve read about, starting with re-reading and editing a bit of one of my finished stories.

All I need to get back on track and catch up with the Little Bites Challenge is an additional 656 words. I am going to include any side writing, so long as it’s fiction, so in actuality, I only have 508 to go since I am including the erotic short. Just over 500 words if Miss Muse is around is nothing, really. Despite the rest of my life that is whirling around me like the Tasmanian Devil in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Wish me luck—see you all Wednesday!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Five for Friday: If I won the Power Ball/Lottery

This week, the Power Ball is an estimated 31.4 million dollars. After taxes. Dear lord! Hubby and I played it last time, something we don’t normally do. Obviously, we lost. But it did get me to thinking of what I would do with all that money.

First, I’d pay off all of my debt. All of it—house, cars, credit cards, the whole kit and caboodle. Boring? Perhaps, but I’d love to know what it feels like to live debt free. That would leave me with approximately $31.2 million left.

I would then set my parents up in the swankiest nursing home/retirement village I could find. Nursing home for Mom, retirement village for Dad; the sad fact is that they will never be able to live together again, so they might as well each be extremely comfortable. This could leave me at only $30 million or so, depending on the yearly cost and how long they each live.

I would donate probably around $5 million to charities—Alzheimer’s research, diabetes, heart disease, Wounded Warriors, or whatever else I wanted to. Thereafter, I would likely volunteer and/or give some interest income each year to a charity or two or three.

With $25 million left, I would buy a mansion or two. I would have a beautiful old farm house in a small town in New England, and a cabin in the Rocky Mountains.

Lastly, I would take trips. For some, I’d bring the kids—and their new private tutors—along; for others, it’d be just hubby & I. I’d go to Ireland and England and Wales and Scotland; Italy and Greece and Germany and Switzerland; Australia and New Zealand and probably anywhere and everywhere else.

Mind, there’s a lot more I would do, too, living off the interest income, but this is “Five for Friday” not “Six” or “Seven” or “Name a number”. Have a lovely week-end, all! See you next week! Who knows? Maybe it'll be Powerball, Part II. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Check-in

Hi all!

I know I’ve been absent for the past couple weeks. It has been a struggle for me to get back into the swing of things. The good news is, Mom goes to a home this week, and Dad is nearly done with the spend-down, which will help him qualify for Medicaid. My dad is not a rich man, but the government decrees that he has to spend half of his carefully squirreled away savings & investments or they won’t pay for my mom’s care. Weird, eh? This does relieve a lot of the stress that was giving me fits of writer’s block. While my stress still remains (who among us doesn’t have stress and can we trade lives for a few days?), my mind is beginning to clear of the cobwebs of worry for my parents. I know people who have written through the deaths of their parents and, like those women who can work full-time, cook gourmet meals, keep a clean house, and pursue a doctorate degree while raising happy, healthy children and keeping their mates satisfied, I just don’t get it. I applaud them, but I will never be one of those people. As my teen says, “Mom, you’re a worrier.” Worry leads to stress which leads to a lack of sleep which leads to a foggy brain. And weight gain.

For some reason, the picture is not loading, so I'll just tell you the number and add the picture later if it allows me to. I am up to 199.0 again.

Yup. I gained this week. I haven’t seen that number in a couple of months now. I can only blame the stressful past month so much on this one. In all honesty, I gained because I was not careful in my eating. I went back to old, bad habits, and didn’t track my eating so I could ignore the elephant in the room, no fat jokes against myself intended. I ate pasta like the world was ending tomorrow. I ate candy—stupid peanut butter cup Easter eggs. I ate a third of a loaf of French bread on my own. I ate often. I ate late at night. I ate from boredom in the few spates of time I had where I should have been writing or relaxing. Wrong choices, and lots of them, all contributed to my weight gain. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that I kept exercising, through it all. The other good news is that I can come back from this. I feel no need to throw out the baby with the bath water and toss my diet into the trash can. What I do feel is the need to re-set, to start over again. And this is something we can all easily do when it comes to this sort of thing. The past is the past, the future is not yet written; what I do now is what counts. So, I am going to heave myself back onto the wagon of healthier eating and let’s see if I can’t bring some more weight loss back to this blog next week.

As to writing, I have written a grand total of 25 words this month! Go, me! All right, not so great by any standards. I have re-set myself for the writing, as well, and a brand new Little Bites Challenge is now open for April. Those who wish to participate, the goal for the month is 7500 words, which is the 30 days of April multiplied by the 250 words per day. For me to catch up, I will need to write 725 words today, which is doable if I set my mind to it.

I now have received my (six!) twenty page each entries to judge for my local RWA's writing contest which must be completed by the end of the month (the 27th to be exact). This definitely adds to my overflowing plate, but I am glad to do it.

At the moment, I am exhausted (it’s quarter past 10 in the morning and I’ve already been awake for longer than I slept last night), so I’m going to leave you with your prompt and vocab word and meander off for a 15 minute or so nap.

Prompt: Cinderella in Space. Re-tell the classic fairy tale in a sci-fi setting.
Vocab: Vacuum: A lack of air. (While not a very unusual word, it is often misspelled and is appropriate to the prompt.)

See you all soon!