Goodbye Uncle Timmy

Uncle Timmy is gone. That is a hard thing to consider and I didn’t even know him as well as many others. Uncle Timmy was this larger than life person. This everlasting Uncle to everyone. You adopted him as soon as you met him and only realized what happened later.

Uncle Timmy was real life magic. He ran a convention where hundreds of strangers gathered to meet with like-minded individuals and left as family. He had an amazing ability to listen. If you had a question he would listen, pause for a moment and then provide an answer. He provided direction and a sense of support to even those of us who didn’t know him that well. If you were at Libertycon and ran into a problem, you could always go to Uncle Timmy. I never really had to, outside of directions, but I knew that I could if I needed to because Uncle Timmy told me so and he meant it.

Uncle Timmy you will be missed.

 

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You’ve set sail for the Undying Lands

leaving the rest of us mortals behind

The gentle waves carry you onward

as we watch through blurring eyes

You have earned your peaceful rest

though we are left heavy hearted

Wise Uncle and keeper of magics

too soon have you departed

Such loving spark in a human soul

so caring, clever, and so kind

Too soon will it always be

to those who are left behind

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Bad life day

sad-505857_1920I’ve missed a post or two. I meant to write but somehow got sidetracked. Today life keeps kicking me unpleasantly. Not those little kicks under the table but a full out walk-around-the-corner-and-get-kicked-by-a-mule type kicks. The type of kicks that made the physical comedy of The Three Stooges funny.

I’m not laughing though.

I have shed a few tears but mostly I just shoved everything back to deal with later. Now it is bedtime and I feel the restrains I put on my emotions weakening. I want to cry and throw up at the same time. It’s been a rough day.

The Pain of Pancakes

I have a younger cousin in high school, who is a writer. She isn’t published yet as far as I know but she ended up with that creative gene that affects so many in my family. I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. It is actually comforting when one of us is experiencing one of those pesky writer problems and the other knows exactly what it feels like. This kid has such a bright spark too. Her life hasn’t been the easiest but I know one day she is going to take all of that and use it to do something fantastic.

fairy-1181702_1280My eldest child and this cousin are exactly one year and one day apart in age. If this were a fairy tale that would mean joining together on an epic journey to a hopefully happy ending. Honestly, if they ever decide to do comics or something, it could happen. My eldest is an artist. ( And yes, I realize there are more ways for a collaboration between a writer and an artist to happen other than comic books, but I watch Into the Spider-Verse last night and so comics were the first things that popped into my head.)

I am horrible at making pancakes. (Also know as hotcakes or flapjacks.) You are probably wondering what one thing has to do with the other, but stick with me please, I really do have a point.

This past week was filled to the gills with errands and appointments and I didn’t sleep catnapwell all week. I’ve been having trouble with writing because when I sit down to write I know I don’t have the time to just get lost in the words like I prefer. Everyday worries and responsibilities keep crowding in and I lose my focus. Also, I have just been so tired.

I take naps in my car on my lunch break at work because my head is too fuzzy to concentrate. I have trouble string words together coherently and the filter between my brain and my mouth isn’t working correctly either. This has been going on for a while. I’ve been depressed and frustrated with life and it only seems to get more difficult as the days go on.

Last week my annoyance levels hit the “to hell with it mark”. Often, that is a bad thing but it can occasionally be a good thing too. When I reach THWI, I can either go do something stupid or I can stop looking at all I can’t accomplish and start looking for things I can.

UndertowIn this case, I pulled up the poetry chapbook I have been fighting the formatting on for months. I sat down, added another poem, deleted all the pretty pictures I had plucked off pixabay, added some simplistic basic art instead (also from pixabay), and then spent hours adjusting and deleting things. I paid attention to what got me the result I was after and what caused problems when I uploaded my manuscript to Amazon. I came to the conclusion that I was an idiot when I realized I was causing one of the main issues myself. However, I kept plugging away and now I have a new poetry chapbook available.

(Right now I am also working on a book of short stories because I have had some complaints from readers who prefer physical copies. Once I am done, it will include all of the shorts I currently have up on Amazon and even more shiny new ones.)

Once I finished the book and ordered a proof of the physical copy, I got the oil changed in my car and then washed the poor thing. I started feeling better because I could see progress. I still had all of the other obligations that had been dragging me down but now I felt better about my ability to get things done and I managed to get a little more sleep.

This brings us back to pancakes. I truly am awful when it comes to making pancakes. pancake-640869_1920I have heard all the tips and tricks. I have watched carefully as other people make them but my pancakes still turn out barely edible if I am lucky. My kids beg me to buy the frozen kind that you heat up in the microwave so that they won’t be forced to endure my attempts at the homemade variety.

I usually listen to them, but a few weeks ago there was a sale at the grocery store on mixes. I picked up a packet of confetti style and a packet of chocolate chip batter mix. I smiled as I thought about getting up early on a Sunday and surprising the kids with a breakfast of fun pancakes and bacon. If one of the kids had been at the store with me, those packets would have never made it to the cart.

I know I am bad at pancakes but I still keep hoping that one day I’ll get it, that it will just click and suddenly I’ll be the pancake queen. I am awesome at grilled cheese so I don’t understand why pancakes are so difficult. I used to be really bad at scrambled eggs but my sister eventually fixed that, so I live in hope that I one day I will be good at pancakes too.

(If you doubt my inept pancake skills, I have had at least three different friends on separate occasions walk in on me during pancake experiments over the years. Each time they wore the same expression of horrified disbelief before they pushed me away from the cooking surface and took my spatula, then proceeded to churn out perfect pancakes from the rest of the batter. My friend Jessi could even make them look like cute little animals.)

cold-2722002_1920This morning the house was chilly because yesterday was lovely and sunny and I didn’t think to turn the heat on before bed last night. I slept in because warm blankets in a cool house are one of the best things in the world. When I awoke, I laid there in my warm cocoon and remembered the packets of pancake mix I had stored in the drawer. It was a perfect warm breakfast day.

After letting the dogs out and feeding the cats, I pulled together all of the things I would need and carefully read the instructions on the back of the package. My son walked in while the first pancake was in the pan and quickly requested something different for breakfast. I frowned but told him he could have what he was asking for along with the chocolate chip pancakes. (He is on the autism spectrum and it is hard to get him to eat different things.) Defeated, he left me to it.

craft-1423803_1920.jpgThe first pancake was black. I lost track of how long it was in the pan while talking to my son. The second one was less black but still overdone and with tiny bits of plastic stuck to it where the spatula melted. I cleaned the pan and switch to the metal spatula that I should have been using all along. This time I had better results. Still not good, but better. By the time I got to the end of the batter, I managed two reasonably roundish, lightly browned pancakes. I presented them to my son and ate a couple of the more promising failures myself.  We each ate about half of our pancakes because warm chocolate chips first thing in the morning turned out not to be the best idea.

Life is full of challenges like pancakes. It may seem like something simple that everyonevintage-1722329_1920 you know can accomplish without issue. That doesn’t mean you should be disheartened because it is difficult for you. It just means that it is going to take you extra effort to accomplish what seems easy to them. There are probably things that you do without a second thought that others find hard.

Something I hope both my cousin and my eldest child remember as they grow in talent and in life is that it is okay if the first try doesn’t work. It is okay if your repeated attempts don’t turn out perfect. Success is defined by the person who is attempting to achieve it.

In my case successful pancakes aren’t bunny shaped, they are just edible ones. One day that may change. Right now I know what I need to master first; the challenge that is in front of me.

Life right now

Quicksand_9977I haven’t felt much like writing lately. I think my depression has raised its head to torment me because I really haven’t felt much like doing anything. I also haven’t been sleeping well. It just seems that everyone either needs something from me or wants to tell me what to do lately. I just want to hole up in a cabin somewhere away from people. I want to turn my phone off. I don’t want to check social media or talk to anyone on the phone. I don’t even want to text.

When I sleep I have nightmares. When I am awake there is always something I have to do. Reservations for a hotel for Libertycon, change reservations for Libertycon, cancel old reservations (still need to do that), make optometrist appointments for the kids because I am tired of wiring together my son’s glasses with jewelry wire, doctor’s appointments, therapy appointments….the list goes on and on. I just want to be for a little while. I want to just sit here and not worry about work or paying bills or fixing the car or the toilet. I just want to sit still and breathe.

Wind and Rain

ireland-1273293_1920You know how in stories they always say the wind “howled” or “wailed” or “moaned”? For a long time, I considered that a literary device; a way of staging the scene. Then I moved into the house I live in now.

It has been several years but I still haven’t gotten used to the way the wind cries as it whips past my house. I don’t know what causes it. It could be the shape of the house or the configuration of trees in the yard. It could be some hollowed out limb capturing the air as it passes over the branches. I do know that I am secretly thrilled every time I hear it.

Surely it is supposed to be a frightening sound, especially at night to hear the wind wail and moan as it shakes the wind chimes on the porch. You can almost track the sound as if some escaped spector is gliding over the porch and around the corner of the house.thatched-roof-981891_1920 It makes me think of Irish cottages made of stone and thatch. It makes me think of fireplaces, warm drinks, and stories told in warning or to keep the dark at bay.

This is all pure imagination of course. I have never even stepped foot into a stone house but I’ve read about them. I’ve read the fairy stories and I’ve watched movies. There is no Baen Side (banshee) calling outside my window, or at least not that I’ve noticed. (If there was she would be extremely frustrated by now, as I have lived here for at least seven years and I’ve listened to the wail off and on that entire time. Or maybe she is happy someone appreciates her singing. Who knows?)

rain-2362871_1920It is supposed to rain today. And tomorrow. And the rest of the week. There will be flooding. The sky is overcast gray and the wind is shaking the still bare branches of the trees as well as dancing among my wind chimes. I expected the rain to be pouring down by now from the way the weather forecasters spoke. The ground is damp so some moisture has been squeezed from the clouds, just none that I’ve noticed.

The animals have been on edge since last night. Today they are restless, last night they were on self-imposed guard duty.  They paced the hall and watched from the window. Panda, my cat, finally settled enough to sleep but only because she curled up on my pillow and snuggled into my hair.

Last night the air was still and black. No stars shone and the porch light didn’t seem to reach as far as usual. The silence was eerie. To me, that becalmed, breathless, starless darkness was way more unsettling than the howling wind today.background-3394066_1920

A Late Night And A Full Moon

dscn0227[1]Last night I stayed up too late. I didn’t actually go to bed until after five this morning. I took a nap yesterday afternoon because I knew I would want to take a peek at the Lunar eclipse. If I didn’t take a nap, I probably would have been warm and comfortable in my pajamas by the time the eclipse started and then I wouldn’t want to go out into the cold. And it was cold, 18 degrees to be exact.

The moon was full and round, as something called a Super Blood Wolf Moon should be. The eclipse itself was pretty spectacular too. We won’t see another total lunar eclipse until May of 2021.

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I managed to get a few pictures before I could no longer feel my fingers and toes. Some of them turned out pretty good considering my camera isn’t exactly fancy and doesn’t have extra lenses and such. I warmed up with a hot drink then sat down to read since the cold had made sure I was wide awake. I only have one book of a trilogy left to read and then the first one of the next trilogy. After that I have to wait for the author (Yes, still Mercedes Lackey,) to publish more.

I have been able to focus more on writing lately though some places feel like I am struggling through a swamp. I have to write a magic battle coming up next and I need to visualize it so I can describe it properly. However, this is harder than it sounds. At first, my brain kept basically showing me Dragon Ball Z reruns with my characters substituted and I had to convince it that there would be no Kamehameha-ing going on. Now I have an inkling of an idea. I just have to flesh it out.

I am also working on another nonfiction book I hope to have completed by May. If I focused solely on it I could probably have it done earlier, but I have other things I am working on too. I am also thinking about putting out another book of short stories. I haven’t decided for sure on that yet but I am gathering my orphans together so to speak.

Next weekend, if all goes well, I will probably be popping in at a local convention.

We must use time creatively. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

December 23, 2018 Morning thoughts

coffeedeskI am awake. Well, I am faking it to the best of my ability. I’ve had coffee but it really hasn’t kicked in yet. Today is December 23, which means two days until Christmas. I don’t feel ready. Just like being awake, I am doing Christmas to the best of my ability but I’ve got that nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something important and I won’t remember until it is too late.

This year is a lean year. There are more handmade gifts under the tree than usual. I don’t see that as a problem though. It took more time and effort to crochet a hat or scarf than it would have to pick out an item online. I’ve also spent more quiet moments just thinking of the people I care about.

I think my main issue is this sense of worry that keeps lingering in the background of mypaper-933661_640 mind. My muscles are tense and won’t relax. Maybe I have been watching the news too much. The government shut down has me concerned because I know too many people that either work for or are dependant on money they receive from social security. It isn’t hurting those who actually make the rules. It hurts those that live check to check. Maybe everything will be okay by the first or third of the month, but I worry about the theoretical elderly person that spent a little extra this month because it is Christmas and planned on paying their electric bill just a little late.

I know this should be a happy and uplifting post because it is so close to the holiday but these things have been spinning around in the back of my mind and it does me good to let them out. Everyone has been sick in my family so my normal schedule has been completely wrecked, which also accounts for my unease. So far only my sister and I have escaped the flu, and I still managed to catch a sinus infection. Everyone is on the mend now.

plumbing-840835_1920My poor brother even came over with some friends yesterday to fix the massive leaks coming from every faucet in the house. It seems the water company must have turned up the water pressure. They had to crawl under the house to put in a new regulator valve (I think that is what they called it) and take apart the bathtub spout to put in something else. I am down to a trickle still escaping from the kitchen sink but I will take it over the tub full of hot water I was losing every six hours or so.

My brother coughed the entire time but didn’t complain. He should have been in bed with Netflix instead of crawling under my house. The two men who came with him to look things over and help should have been at home with their families instead of helping me, a stranger. I am thankful for all of them. The help they gave was the best Christmas present I could have received. I don’t think they even understand how much of a blessing their kindness was to me. I hope that they receive it back tenfold.

….So that is where my mind is at right now. How about you? Is there something you are currently spinning your mental wheels on? Sometimes it helps just to put things down in words, it doesn’t have to be here but the comment section is open if you just need to lay down a worry or two. You can share good things as well. black-41201_640