Jun 28, 2013

Random Ramblings

Here's the thing. I know I said on Monday that today's Ramble was going to be on social media and socializing, but in honour of the holiday weekend (for we Canadians anyway) I'd like to share a love story with you.

This is Daphne and Donald:

If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you know Daphne and Donald have been visitors to our house for years now. They arrive every spring, visiting the tarp covering our pool a couple of times a day for a few weeks, then spend the rest of the summer elsewhere. I'm assuming that they disappear because they need to stand watch over a nest of eggs in a better location.

Some years (like this year) a second male tries to tempt Daphne, but Donald always manages to chase him away.

Now normally, after the tarp comes off the pool, they'd try the pool for a couple of days and then stick to the small pond in the back of our yard. This makes sense when you think about it, the chlorine in the pool is there to kill off any insect life, and when the pool is cleaned it sucks out any seeds and what have you that the ducks would feed on.

But apparently, Daphne and Donald have developed a tolerance, if not a liking, for chlorine. Not only are they still visiting, they seem to enjoy having a bath in the nice, formerly clean, water. Here's a picture I took of them earlier today in one of their yoga poses:

Now we come to the love story part. Daphne always arrives first, with Donald following behind, and I know why. It's not the pool she's so fond of, it's my husband.

She arrived by herself last night just as my hubby finished cutting the grass, landing in the pool. I stood at the deck door and watch as she splashed herself with water, having a bath as it were. My hubby started complaining about ducks in general, and he wasn't going to all the trouble of keeping the pool clean just so the ducks could use it, etc., etc.

As soon as she heard my hubby's voice, Daphne swam right over to where he was (with his back to the pool). Then she swam along behind him as he walked around the pool. She stayed for a little while after he went into the house, alternately swimming around and resting on the edge, but when he didn't come back outside she flew away.

Clearly, Daphne's in love with my husband.

Jun 26, 2013

Jun 25, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part VII
The Chariot

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers,

The Chariot is a card associated with both victory and control. It indicates a lot of energy, but this energy is controlled or directed towards a goal. When this card appears it means the goal is fairly clear, as are the methods to achieve it. The Chariot can also indicate a new influx of enthusiasm or inspiration to help get you moving towards that goal again.

Although it implies a war or struggle with an eventual hard-won victory, this could be an internal struggle. Unity of purpose is needed, along with control and confidence. A card of contradictions, the Chariot can indicate loyalty, faith and motivation that will lead to victory no matter what, but it can also indicate a ruthless desire to win at any cost.

In the earliest sets of the Tarot, The Chariot was called Lo Caro Triumphale (The Triumphal Car). In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, the charioteer was actually a crowned woman seated in a large chariot drawn by two white, winged horses. The Chariot has been known The Centurion and Victory, and has been represented by an archer, by Thor, and by Ares. In the Thoth Tarot the driver controls four different animals which represent the four elements.

A.E. Waite depicted The Chariot as a king standing triumphant in his chariot, having just arrived from a great victory. He's wearing a suit of decorative armour. The crescent moons on his shoulders face outward towards the formative world. The square on his breastplate represents earth, a symbol of strength of will. A crown of laurels with a star on it sits on his head, representing the attainment of spiritual evolution. In his hand he carries a small scepter.

The canopy above him is covered with six-pointed stars, representing the celestial influences at work. The symbol of Ra (the winged sun) adorns the front of the chariot, beneath which is the lingam and yoni, symbols of male and female sexuality. The Chariot is being pulled by a black sphinx and a white one, representing the unsolvable riddle. The charioteer holds no reigns, just the wand to control them, making him the one who solved the riddle of the Sphinx.

The wheels of the chariot are shown resting on water, meaning strength comes from the subconscious. The rest of the chariot is on the land, a bridge between the conscious and unconscious. Behind The Chariot are the spires of a city, suggesting he may be venture out to a new conquest.

In general this card is about determination and ambition. It's the card of getting things done and proving yourself. Think of it as the sign you've been waiting for to move forward with your idea and give it your best shot. Do the best you can and don't worry about the way others might see your work. Take advantage of the energy you're feeling right now.

In the reversed position, The Chariot may be suggesting you feel you have a lack of control over your life. You may need to take back control of your destiny. Take a hard look at what you can and can not control in your life. Don't worry about the things over which you have no control, focus on the things you can control.

When The Chariot appears in the past, it's referring to past triumphs that led you to where you are today. In the present it shows you are experiencing that triumph right now. It could be something you've been waiting for, or perhaps something that's just been handed to you. You may even have mixed feelings about it if it brings about too many changes. If The Chariot shows up in your future, you can be assured that whatever your goal is, it's attainable. All you have to do is have confidence in yourself.

Jun 24, 2013

Mactation Monday

mactation ~ killing or slaughter of a sacrificial victim

First of all, for those of you who read my Ramble on Friday, here is a picture of the finished terrarium:

And for those of you who didn't read my Ramble, the picture is of an aquarium that I've had sitting in my upstairs hallway, filled with blankets and sheets, for about the last five years. At one time it held a family of gerbils (actually it was a family of ten gerbils), now it holds gnomes and shade loving plants. :-)

Summer is officially here. In the space of two days we've gone from, "Gee it's awfully cool for the middle of June" to "Boy is it hot and humid!". As I sit here late at night writing this, I have the fan on in my office. Normally I write this in the living room while watching TV, but the lap top generates too much heat to have comfortably on my lap for long in the summer.

I got some more knitting in last week. I'm about 2/3 of the way done the back of my sweater. Hopefully I'll get a day next week where I can indulge in a couple of hours of uninterrupted knitting - I'm ready to start the shaping for the arms and I'll want to do that all at once so I don't lose my place in the pattern. Yes, I use a stitch counter, but I'm also doing a lacy stitch instead of a stockinette stitch so there's a lot to keep track of.

I definitely got some work done on the business last week, but not by choice. My daughter took the bull by the horns and, well, to make a long story short, I have a new email address for the business (which I like better than the old one), new brochures, and a Facebook page. God only knows what she'll force feed me this week. LOL

One thing I did last week that I'm happy about, I caught up on my emails. And three of them were emails that required lengthy replies. Now everyone is back to owing me an email. As it should be. ;-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part seven in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot will be The Chariot.
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 72 of Water. Looks like Ravi and Tarja are between a hot and a hard place. How are they going to get out of this one?
Friday: Hmm, I think it's time for a Ramble about social media and socializing in general.

Other Stuff For the Week

This week's focus is the edits for Magical Misfire. This book was supposed to be out by now, and I find myself dawdling over it. I did this with Elemental Fire too. It's like I don't want to finish the book or something. Good thing I'm not this slow with other people's books. :-)

I have a poetry group meeting Tuesday night - I think the poemwork was to write a poem from the point of view of an inanimate object. And I also think I'll be giving the poemwork a pass this time and read the sestina I wrote a while back. You can bet I'll be paying particular attention to this meeting to see what kind of atmosphere we have going on.

I also have a writer's group meeting this week, on Wednesday. I think I should send a group email out to suggest we meet at an alternate place than the one we decided on last time. First, I'm pretty sure it's supposed to rain on Wednesday. And second, we probably won't be able to meet in the park by the waterfront. The annual Waterfront Festival starts Thursday (I think) which means they'll be setting up in the space we used last time.

Other than all of that, I'll be trying to keep cool. :-)

Jun 21, 2013

Random Ramblings

Garden Madness

I know I've been talking a lot about gardens and gardening lately, but . . . 'tis the season and all that. ;-)

Here's where I have to make a confession (I seem to do that a lot, don't I?). I'm a pretty indifferent gardener. Oh, I like gardens and all, I just don't like all the work that goes with them. Especially when it comes to planting them. This is why I use pre-started plants instead of seeds, and no, I do not pre-start my own plants.

So I start out all gung ho in the spring - planning out my gardens, choosing the plants, planting the plants - but then my interest kind of peters out. Which is why I generally try and stick to easy to maintain bedding plants, like the petunias in my front garden:

The rest of my gardens are smaller and even easier to maintain - they pretty much just need weeding and watering. This is the pond in the back corner of the garden:

This garden is named Kelsey park, in honour of our border collie who's buried under the fountain:

And what would a back yard be without planters?

As you may recall, I've been paying lip service to getting some indoor gardening done too. I had planned using some of the extra plants from the garden around the pond for my terrarium, but unfortunately there were no extra plants. In fact, I came up a few plants short. So all I've got so far is an African violet, and sorry, but that's not enough incentive for me to get the tank ready for planting. Here's a picture of the tank:

As you can see, I repurposed it for storage. :-) That's another good reason for not doing anything major with it until I have the plants - I'll have to find a new home for all those linens. But once it's finished, it's going to go in the middle of the top shelf of my very messy bookcase:

It's going to mean some shuffling around, but that's where I had it when it was full of gerbils. ;-)

Finally, last fall I bought a really cool clay pot that I had no idea what I was going to use it for, but I just had to have it:

It's actually a strawberry pot, but I've watched my neighbor struggle for years to grow strawberries. If the forest creatures or birds don't get them, they develop a fungus. I'll stick to buying mine in the grocery store.

But I've always wanted an indoor herb garden, and I figured why not? But a funny thing happened when I started looking at herbs. I saw mint instead. Flavoured mint. So now I have orange mint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and spearmint. I couldn't find any other flavours, so I bought seeds for cat mint and cat nip (which are pretty much the same thing, only different coloured flowers). And then in the very top I planted dill seeds, because I couldn't find a dill plant and I love dill.

So. If my experiment works, and my mints grow, then I can harvest and dry my mints and then create some mint teas for the tea drinkers on my Christmas list. And the cats can expect home made catnip toys for Christmas. 'Cause I have lots of seeds and I'll be growing catnip outside as well as in. ;-)

Jun 19, 2013

Jun 18, 2013

Marjor Arcana of the Tarot - Part VI
The Lovers

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant,

The sixth card of the Major Arcana is The Lovers. While it can represent relationships, this card is more about the choices you make than about love. It can indicate a moral or ethical crossroads has been reached and you must make a decision to follow your own path. It can also mean that a decision in a relationship must be made; perhaps a temptation must be faced or there's a choice of potential partners.

It's possible you are feeling ambivalent about a current relationship or situation. Your heart may be telling you one thing while your head tells you another. The thing to remember here is, always follow your heart.

Along with choice, The Lovers can mean a union, such as marriage, and commitment to choices you've already made. It can represent the forces that draw two people together in a relationship, although this is not always a romantic partnership.

Early Italian decks showed a man kissing a woman during a pageant or procession. In the Jean Noblet Tarot (1650), the card is depicted with a man standing between two women (usually a virgin and a temptress) in a typical love triangle while Cupid hovers above them with his arrow ready to fly. In the 18th century, Antoine Court de Gébelin included a caption, Marriage, which was interpreted as both choice and love. Other decks had a man meeting his mate with the help of a matchmaker.

In the Rider-Waite deck The Lovers are depicted by a naked couple. A tree of flame is shown behind the man while a fruit tree with a snake wrapped around it is shown behind the woman, leading us to believe this is Adam and Eve. There are five apples, representing the five senses, on the tree behind the woman, indicating the importance of sensual romance to her. The serpent wrapped around the tree reminds us of temptation and the fall of humanity from grace. The flames in the tree behind the man represent the flames of passion, the physical side of love.

The ground they stand upon is green and fertile and the mountain rising behind them is an obvious phallic symbol representing physical love. The sun shines overhead, bringing warmth and security. There is a cloud from which an angel is rising, hands raised in a benediction. He wears a robe of purple and has crimson wings; his hair has twelve flames, representing the twelve signs of the zodiac, and his face reflects the yellow sun.

While The Lovers is a powerful symbol for the union between two beings, caution is advised. Love is like a flame, it can ignite a blaze of passion, but it can also consume and destroy if used carelessly. Consideration for all the consequences should be taken before acting. When the card refers to a relationship, that relationship will be a perfect expression of love, usually (though not always) sexual. However, it can also be merely the integration of two warring parts of yourself. Once they're combined you will attain greater wisdom.

At times this card will indicate a moral crossroads. It could be as simple a fork in the road with two paths to choose between, or perhaps it will be a much more complicated decision that will test your strongest beliefs and ideals. The choice indicated by The Lovers is always on the moral or ethical plane. You will need to look inside yourself and trust your instincts. Once you have made your decision, you'll need to stick to your guns.

In a reading, this card signifies the importance of love in a person's life. It could be a new relationship, or a powerful re-affirmation of an old one. Don't be afraid to share your joy - life is wonderful.

When this card appears in your past, it indicates the basis of your current situation can be found in a loving relationship. It may be the foundation of your marriage, or perhaps the relationship you have with your children or parents. These relationships define you.

In the present, the card is telling you that if you are alone, it won't be for long. You might even know this person, but you will still be transformed by a partnership with them. The Lovers in the future position indicate that you need to be very positive about what you want in a relationship. Intense attraction may blind a couple to each other's faults.

Jun 17, 2013

Myomancy Monday

myomancy ~ divination from the movements of mice

I'm starting to see a pattern to our weather. One nice day followed by two of rain, one semi-nice day followed by one of rain, two nice days followed by two of rain . . .

Take the weekend, for instance. Saturday was beautiful, but the rain started late Saturday night and well into Sunday. It cleared up enough Sunday afternoon that we decided to have barbeque for supper, including grilling corn on the cob (a first for us). Just as we fired up the grill the clouds rolled in and it started to thunder a bit and it got cold and, well, we ended up eating inside. *sigh*

Now it's supposed to rain and maybe even thunder a bit today, but the rest of the week is supposed to be sunny and warm. I'll believe it when I see it. :-)

Not being able to count on two nice days in a row, I got some more gardening done on Saturday. This time it was the garden around our pond. I dragged my hubby to several stores to find just the right plants, and I must say it's starting to look good. It could use a few more plants and some floaters in the pond itself, but all in all I'm pretty pleased.

I was less pleased with the bush that attacked me while I was pulling weeds and planting flowers. I'm not sure exactly what this bush is - we've always thought it was a wild rose, but the flowers are really small - but it has thorns the size of javelins! It pulled my hair and put snags in my clothing and put holes in me. I wish I'd taken a picture of it before I took the hedge clippers to it, but suffice it to say I got my revenge. :-)

I made it to both my meetings last week. My poetry group meeting was a business meeting and there were some policies put in place that I'm not agreeable to. I been less and less happy with the group over the last few months - instead of a friendly group of people sharing their love of poetry it's becoming very cliquish.

The library double booked the room my writer's group usually meets in, which actually turned out all right. It was such a nice day out we went to the park instead and had a much better meeting than we would have in that stuffy little room. We decided that from now on, weather permitting, we're going to have our meetings in the park and when the weather is bad we're going to try out different coffee shops. We're done with the library and it's claustrophobic, airless little room.

I didn't get much reading done last week (although I did update my Goodreads with the books I read the week before) but I did get some knitting done. Knitting as opposed to crocheting for a change. I was getting a little tired of snowflakes and decided this was a good time to start working on my sweater instead.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part six in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot will be The Lovers.
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 71 of Water. Will I tell you what made the woman scream at the end of last week's installment? Or will I tell you what's going on with Nereida instead?
Friday: With all the rain we've been getting my gardens are looking pretty good, so maybe I'll ramble about my gardens this week.

Other Stuff For the Week

Working on the business this week. I've been very neglectful in this respect and it's time to get off my lazy butt.

When I'm not doing business stuff I'll be editing and writing, writing and editing. My final round of edits on Magical Misfire are going much slower than I expected. Is it because there's so much to fix, or is it because I'm allowing myself to be distracted by too many other things? Good question. Wish I had a good answer. :-)

I finally had an idea for the genre story I was supposed to write last month for my group, and now I have another one to write that I have no idea for. This time my genre is Romance, which doesn't really fit with the spooky picture of a carousel we're using as a prompt.

For a while now I've been kicking around the idea of an anthology of my short stories. I need to go over the stories I'm going to use and print them out to give me an idea on where I stand with this project. Yeah, I know it sounds like a waste of paper, but that's just the way I work. I also like to work with a printed copy when I do my own editing. Anyone else's I can work with the electronic version, but my own has to be print.

Jun 14, 2013

Random Ramblings

Of Introverts and Forest Friends

I know the last couple of weeks I've been promising to write something about plants, but I didn't get my indoor gardening done this week and we're not going to tackle the pond garden until the weekend. So . . .

I'm going to start today with a word about introverts. And the reason I felt introverts worthy of mention is because (a) I am one and (b) I stumbled across two very good articles about them. The first is There’s Nothing Wrong with You. You’re an Introvert. If you're not sure what an introvert is, let alone whether or not you could be one, this is a must read for you.

The second article, Introverts Explained: Why We Love You But Need to Get Away From You, is the best explanation of why we introverts need our alone time that I've ever seen. If you live with an introvert (or suspect you do) you really need to read this.

On to the forest friends . . .

You've already met a few of my forest friends this year, like Mr. Fox:

And Mr. Raccoon:

And the mallard drakes:

The number of drakes who come visit our pond has doubled since that picture was taken. Apparently the word is out on our pool. :-)

Last weekend I had a chance to relax on the deck. The lady duck, whom I call Daphne, was lounging in the pool when my husband decided to hose down the patio furniture on the deck. What he didn't realize was that as soon as Daphne saw the hose going, she jumped up on the deck to have a shower:

Once the hubby was finished with the hose, she went back into the pool for a bite of lunch:

Later on her mate came to visit, but for some strange reason he decided to run laps around the back yard:

Sorry for the blurriness of the picture, but he was moving at a pretty good clip! I also had at least two, maybe more blue jays pay me a visit. This first little guy wasn't quite sure how badly he wanted one of the peanuts I left on the deck railing for them, so he kept vigil up in the tree for a while:

He finally came down out of the tree, but he still gave me the stink eye:

And at last he posed for his portrait:

When I went inside to get the peanuts on Saturday, I actually got them for my little squirrel friend. He only ate two of them before disappearing, which is when the blue jays swooped in. But he did come back later on, and was a little ticked that I hadn't chased off the jays:

Snooze you lose, my furry little friend. ;-)

Jun 12, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

I think today would be a great day to hang out at the beach. What do you think? ;-)

Jun 11, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part V
the Hierophant

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor

The Hierophant is a card about spirituality and doing the right thing. This is a time to play by the rules and doing what is expected of you. It's a good time to become involved with groups or to follow established social structures and traditions. This is not a good time to be marching to your own drummer or taking chances.

Just as the High Priestess was sometimes referred to as the Popess, the Hierophant was often referred to as the Pope, her masculine counterpart. The card was given the name of the Hierophant in the eighteenth century by Antoine Court de Gébelin, a Swiss clergyman and Freemason.

In the Rider-Waite deck, the Hierophant sits on a grey throne between two grey pillars. He is dressed in a red robe and a three tiered papal crown. In his left hand he holds as sceptre capped with a triple cross which symbolizes his dominion over the three worlds. His right hand is raised in benediction, the same hand that the Magician has raised.

At the Hierophant's feet are a pair of crossed keys representing the balance between the conscious and subconscious mind. These are the keys to heaven and hell and can unlock the mysteries. Because this is one of the teacher cards, he has a pair of students kneeling before him. One wears a robe with roses on it, indicating the path of passion and devotion, while the other wears a robe with lilies on it, indicating the path of renunciation. The tonsures on their heads show they have renounced their materialistic ideals. It is the Hierophant's task to bring these students into the church where they can take up their appointed roles.

According to the Merriam Webster's dictionary, Hierophant means: "The chief priest of the Eleusinian; expositor; advocate". The Eleusinian Mysteries were initiation ceremonies dating back to the Mycenean period and considered to be of the greatest importance. They were held in three phases, which leads us back to the three worlds the Hierophant has dominion over.

The Hierophant can represent those in your life who tend to preach or are rigid in their way of doing things. These people are afraid of any change that may weaken the community or family unit. It could also represent a warning against been too stubborn or fearful of change, especially in matters of theology. Or it could be a reminder that the purpose of traditions is to use them to keep the faith and spirit of a people alive, not just follow by rote.

When things are not going well, the Hierophant quiets the panic and offers good advice as well as spiritual assistance. He's the teacher, therapist, counselor, advisor, or spiritual leader who speaks for the people as well as to them.

When the card appears upright it suggests you need to seek guidance and follow positive advice. Do the right thing and keep the faith. It can also represent a person, a teacher or mentor, perhaps a spiritual or community leader. This person stands out as someone respected by others and is a source of moral authority.

If reversed, the Hierophant indicates a situation involving rebellion, heresy, and non-conformity. The person it represents is again a leader of some kind, but one who is opposed to tradition and conservative values, arousing aggression, fear, and violence. His teachings are flawed because he doesn't really know what he's talking about. He is often a cult leader.

When the Hierophant shows up in your past, it indicates a structured belief system and strong sense of cultural identity. In the present it shows you are following a new belief system or are ready to do so. This may result in the loss of some of your individuality, but it will be offset by the feeling of being part of something bigger.

The Hierophant is most powerful when shown in the future. There will be a strong pull towards someone who can explain the meaning of life, and your role in it, to you. This can be either good or bad, depending on the person you're drawn to. This is not so much a good or bad card as it is a card of wisdom.

Jun 10, 2013

Mucivorous Monday

mucivorous ~ feeding on plant juices

We finally got a nice day last week. Yesterday. It was very good timing. My daughter was making brunch for ten and she was counting on sunny skies so we could eat outside. Guess we know who has all the luck in the family. ;-)

Brunch meant my afternoon was free, and rather than catch up on some of the billions of things I'm behind on, I chose to spend my afternoon out on the deck sipping wine and reading. And taking pictures of the blue jays, ducks, and squirrels who came to visit me. Like this guy:

As of 1:30 a.m. (when I was writing this last night) it's supposed to rain today but be nice for the rest of the week. Cross your fingers for me. :-)

Last week got off to a rocky start. I had a hard time focusing on anything until I finished reading the Key Trilogy, by Nora Roberts. While I really enjoyed the series I was a little disappointed that as well as being experts in their fields, her three main characters were all drop dead gorgeous. I'm sure it could have worked just as well with women who were a little less perfect looking.

I had no social obligations until Saturday last week, so I really thought I'd get a lot of writing done. It's strange the way things work out sometimes, isn't it? In other words, I didn't get nearly as much done as I'd hope to. :-)

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part five in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot will be The Hierophant. You might note that the numbers of the series part now match the card. ;-)
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 70 of Water. Things are hotter than ever for Ravi and Taja. And where is Nereida?
Friday: This week's Random Ramblings will either be about plants or a picture essay on my little wildlife friends. Maybe both. ;-)

Other Stuff For the Week

I've got two meetings to attend this week. One is a business meeting for my poetry group. The other is a meeting with my writer's group.

I finally got a start on the genre story I was supposed to write for my writing group. Will I get it finished by Wednesday? I guess it all depends on how well I can focus.

I've rethought the possibility of a poetry anthology in time for my reading in July, but if there's time to do it I'll have to have it put together this week if I'm going to have copies to sell during the reading. It will also depend on whether or not I have enough completed poems that I like for an anthology.

Weather permitting, I want to spend an hour or so each day out on the deck reading. I tend to binge read, which means I go for days without reading anything, and then do nothing but read for several days. I need to learn to pace myself. And as an added bonus I can soak up some natural vitamin D.

Jun 7, 2013

Random Ramblings

Research of the Weird Kind

As a writer I've had to do my fair share of research on the internet: how to ride side saddle in the middle ages, which poisonous plant will kill you the quickest, how to properly treat a snake bite . . . The list goes on. I suspect that I and many of my writer friends are on some kind of government watch list somewhere. :-)

Take for instance this conversation on Facebook one night:

Writer One: So, I don't suppose any of you guys know the best method for tanning human hide, right?
Writer Two: I'd go with the brains, myself.
Writer One: Indeed. Not sure if it will work, but given the lack of cannibals posting instructions online, I may have to actually go with pure fiction here...
Writer Two: I did find a site where you can buy products made from human leather . . .
Writer One: Well that's disturbing...send me the link?
Writer Two: http://www.humanleather.co.uk/
Writer Three: Research how the Native Americans treated scalps.
Writer One: Oh right! Why didn't I think of that?! I was looking at how they tanned hides, but totally forgot scalps. Thanks!
Writer Two: Just when you thought FB couldn't get any creepier.

That is a real website by the way, go ahead and click on it. People actually bequeath their skin to be tanned by these people.

It sometimes amazes me that the research for a story can be far more time consuming than the story itself. I spent a considerable amount of time and effort researching poisonous plants for a flash fiction story. Far more time than I did on the actual story. But I had to have just the right poisonous plant or the story wouldn't have worked.

In my forthcoming book, Magical Misfire, I have had to do far more research than I expected. It's a fantasy novel, so I can just make up whatever I like, right? Wrong. I have it set in a world that is similar to our Middle Ages, so a lot of my research has to do with things like: how did ladies ride side-saddle, what kinds of food would be served at a celebratory dinner, what were the sanitary facilities like, what would the layout be for a castle and a village. It's all in the details.

Now the snake bite research was for a science fiction novel. The hero was bitten by a poisonous snake and I wanted the heroine to suck the poison out of his leg. Guess what? People don't really do that. In fact, attempting to can actually make things worse. Good thing I checked.

This week my research was bugs. The topic for this month's blogchain for Absolute Write was bugs, and what better source for a scary story is there than bugs? So I did a Google search for scary bugs. The first article I checked out was The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World. Yeah, it was truly horrifying. And I don't just mean the salty language! They have videos. Don't watch the videos. Trust me.

After checking out a couple more buggy websites and stupidly clicking on the Google images for scary bugs, I abandoned my story idea and went with something completely different. In case you missed it on Wednesday, you can find itHERE. In the meantime, I'll be sleeping with the lights on and a can of Raid close to hand.

Jun 5, 2013

June Blog Chain

Yes, it's that time of month - time for the Absolute Write Blog Chain. This month's prompt is:

Yep. Bugs. Simple and easy. Prose, poetry, play. Fiction, nonfiction. It's all good, all bugs.

So without further ado, here's my link in the chain:

Bug of His Dreams

"What is it?" Effie asked, staring down at the 8 x 10 glossy photo.

"It's my dream come true," Albert said with a great deal of satisfaction.

She turned to look at him, raising one eyebrow in the way he'd always wished he could do. "Seriously? You dream of bugs? That's just wrong, Albert."

"What do you know, you're just a girl."

"Now wait just a minute -"

"Just look at her, she's so beautiful . . ." He turned back to the picture, staring at it with an intensity all out of proportion to the image.

"How do you know it's a she?" Effie asked with a hint of amusement.

"Well . . . I just know. That's all." Albert was a little disappointed she wasn't as excited as he was. She just didn't get it. At all.

Effie watched him as he stared with longing at the photograph. When he phoned earlier she thought he was asking her over for a different reason. For a brief moment she'd hoped . . . Well, it didn't matter.

"So where is this bug of your dreams?"

"Some guy staying at the Lucky 8 in Sawyerville found her."

"And let me guess, you need a ride over there."

He turned the full wattage of his puppy-dog brown eyes on her. "I'll make it worth your while . . ."

"Not in any way that counts," she muttered. "Come on, before I change my mind."

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Effie did some quiet reflecting as she drove them to Sawyerville. She's been with Albert for five years now, and never once had he looked at her the way he looked at that damned bug in the photo. She was getting tired of playing second fiddle to his obsession.

How many times had he come to her, all excited, with a lead to a bug a friend of a friend of a friend had heard about? And how many times had she driven him out to the middle of nowhere, only to have him disappointed. Yes, he'd turn to her for comfort but she wanted more than that. She deserved more than that.

"Albert, I want you to promise me something."

"Hmm?" He was still holding the picture, still staring at it. His mind had drifted into a half-formed dream of what it would be like to own such a thing. "Did you say something?"

"If this turns out to be another doctored up picture, if this lead doesn't pan out, I want you to promise me you'll give up this search. You've already got a museum worthy collection, surely it's enough."

Albert looked at her. "But . . . you don't understand. I need this bug. Otherwise my collection won't be complete."

"I can't do this anymore Albert. I can't stand seeing you disappointed time and time again."

He reached over and patted her hand where it rested on the steering wheel. "This time will be different, you'll see." Suddenly more alert he said, "Turn here."

"I can see the sign!" she snapped. Truth be told, she could see more signs than just the one for the Super 8.

They met the man who found the bug and he had them follow him a short distance to well weathered barn on some land he owned. They slipped inside through a side door and there, in all her glory, was the bug of Albert's dreams.

Albert was transfixed. "How much?"

"Albert," Effie cautioned. "Maybe you should have someone check it out, make sure it's authentic."

"It's authentic all right," the man assured them. "Belonged to my grandpa. Been sitting here for more than forty years."

"How much?" Albert asked again.

The man named an astronomical sum.

"Sold!" Albert said, without hesitation.

"Albert! That thing is not worth half a million dollars!"

He shook Effie's hand off his arm. "What would you know about it?"

Effie lost her temper at that. "I know that it's just a car. A car that was conceived by Adolph Hitler!"

"Effie, this isn't just a car, it's a 1967 113 series Volkswagen Beetle."

There was a quality in his voice she'd never heard before. Effie took a hard look at Albert and the way he was gently stroking the hood of the car. Her shoulders sagged.

"I hope you and your bug will be very happy together," she said quietly.

Albert didn't even realize she'd gone. All his attention was focused on the car in front of him. This bug would be the crowning glory in his collection of vintage Volkswagens.

I hope you enjoyed my little story. Don't forget to check out the other links in the chain!

orion_mk3 - http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com ~ link to post
Diem_Allen - http://mindovermistakes.blogspot.com ~ link to post
Ralph Pines - http://ralfast.wordpress.com ~ link to post
articshark - http://www.drslaten.com/blog ~ link to post
Lady Cat - http://randomwriterlythoughts.blogspot.ca ~ YOU ARE HERE
U2Girl - http://ancatdubh.org ~ (link to post)
MsLaylaCakes - http://www.taraquan.com/ ~(link to post)
SuzanneSeese - http://www.viewofsue.blogspot.com/ ~ (link to post)
robynmackenzie - http://iwanttobeawesomewhenigrowup.com/ ~ (link to post)
milkweed - http://www.prairiefibers.blogspot.com/ ~ (link to post)
Sunwords - http://susannedoering.wordpress.com/ ~ (link to post)
Angyl78 - http://jelyzabeth.wordpress.com/ ~ (link to post)
susanielson - http://somesemblancethereof.blogspot.com/ ~ (link to post)

Hump Day Hunk

What better way to spend a hot summer's day than lounging in the sand? ;-)

Jun 4, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part IV
The Emperor

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress

The fourth card of the Tarot is the Emperor. Four is the number of stability: four walls, four seasons, four corners. But while the strength of the Emperor is stability, his weakness is the risk of stagnation.

The Emperor has changed very little through the ages, although in some of the early decks that were subjected to censorship his number was III instead of IV, because of the removal of the High Priestess or Papess card. In some decks he is given the number II because The Magician card was removed as well.

The Emperor is seated on a throne of grey stone that has been adorned with four rams' heads. These heads represent determination, action, initiative, and leadership. The throne faces away from a range of barren mountains along a shore. The sky is orange, but it is unknown whether it's showing sunrise or sunset.

The Emperor himself has a long white beard, symbolizing age and wisdom. On his head lies a crown giving no doubt that he is the ruler. In his right hand he holds the Egyptian symbol of life, an Ankh, while in his left there is an orb that represents the world he rules. We can see under his red and orange robes that he's still wearing his armor, suggesting that although his position on the throne says that the conflicts that put him there are settled, he is still prepared to do battle if need be.

The Emperor is the paternal influence of the deck and most individuals will relate to this card in the same way they relate to any father figure. At his best the Emperor gives his children the structure they need to help them becomes responsible adults, signifying a intelligent, charismatic leader everyone wants to follow. At worst he can be a tyrant, impatient and demanding, imposing his control on those around him. His appearance in a reading indicates the longing to rule over one's surroundings although the subject may need to accept the fact that some things can not be controlled, nor should they be.

The Emperor sometimes represents something that needs to be overcome. It could be a rigid way of thinking that needs a more flexible approach, or it could be there is some external force that must be accommodated. You need to pay particular attention to your organization and follow-through, taking a logical approach. If you're looking for work you need to step outside yourself to see how others see you.

This card can be a warning that the realm you've established has become an unwelcome chore, that you've become a bad leader who's demanding and unreasonable because you're unhappy. It might be time to search for a new realm. Or perhaps you're still in the process of establishing your kingdom and it's time to establish a better plan for the future. Be a leader.

In the past the Emperor represents an authority figure who laid down the law that helped establish your personal code of acceptable behavior. If you're in a secure position right now, you have this person to thank. However, this person could have abused their authority, which is why you now find yourself alone and confused.

The strongest position for the Emperor to be in is the present. It's telling you to have absolute confidence when moving towards your goal. But beware because it could also represent the influence another person has over you right now and you are allowing their way of seeing the world to dominate your own perspective.

The weakest position for The Emperor is in the future. Though the days and weeks ahead are somewhat vague, you should anticipate a change that will happen in a daring manner. New demands will be coming your way in the near future so it's best to be prepared.

Jun 3, 2013

Medicaster Monday

medicaster ~ quack; charlatan

Monday again? Already? It's amazing how fast time passes when you're not paying attention. :-)

The weather has been pretty dicey lately. One day it's hot and humid, the next it's overcast, then sunny and cold, then hot with rain. . . . But the danger of frost has passed so on the weekend I finally got flowers in the gardens.

Every year I forget just how wide my front garden is, until I'm crouching/kneeling down filling it with plants, that is. Six flats of petunias, planted one by one. My gluteous maximus is still complaining. ;-)

But I swore I would get my plants in, come rain or shine, and I got both. It was late afternoon when I started, which meant no shade (and the mosquitoes had an unholy attraction to my sunscreen), and when I was down to just half a dozen plants it started to rain. Just a light rain at first, so I kept going. By the time I was done it was a downpour. Even Daphne and Donald, my two ducky friends who'd wandered into the front yard from elsewhere in the neighborhood, gave up and wandered off again. I was already soaked to the skin so I did the smaller gardens in the back as well. The rain started to let up as I finished, and I was covered in mud, but it's done and all that's left is the maintenance.

I have partially caught up on my Goodreads. *sigh* I was keeping track on a list of the ebooks I read at the beginning of the year, so I updated my Goodreads with them. However, I know I've missed a few ebooks, and I haven't kept track of my paper books at all. This is going to take some work. But once I'm caught up I'll make a concentrated effort to update as I read.

I'm rather annoyed that I still can't get my Goodreads and Facebook to match up. The first time I tried, Facebook created a whole new Goodreads account for me. I thought I needed the names on the two accounts to match up, but apparently it's the email accounts that need to match. Is it worth the trouble? I haven't decided yet.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part five in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot will be The Emperor. There's part of me that wants to re-number the installments of this series because the card numbers and the part numbers don't match.
A new Hump Day Hunk for your viewing pleasure.
Thursday: Chapter 69 of Water. Will Ravi and Taja reach Nereida in time?
Friday: This week's Random Ramblings is so secret even I don't know what it will be. ;-)

Other Stuff For the Week

Didn't get my research on volcanoes done last week, so that moves up the priority list for this week. I'm hoping I'll finally get some use on that set of Geology books I bought from Reader's Digest years ago.

Busy week ahead. I've started getting my writing mojo back so I'll be catching up with my writing and editing. I've been a bit of a slacker lately and it's high time I pulled up my socks.

Among other things I have the genre story I was supposed to write for my writing group - since it was my idea in the first place, I kind of feel obligated to write it. My genre was horror and I have to write it to a picture prompt. I can't remember the kernel of an idea I had for it, so I'll just have to come up with a new one. ;-)

And again, I'm signed up for the monthly AW blog chain. This month's prompt is bugs. I actually did some research on scary bugs and all I can say is: ewww! It's enough to make me want to seal myself inside the house for the rest of my life! It would really be nice to have this piece done ahead of time for a change instead of scrambling for an idea at the last minute.

And I think I'm going to do a project list or a weekly to do list and print it out, or print a couple of them out, to post where I can see it so I don't forget what I'm supposed to be working on.