Aug 30, 2013

Random Ramblings

On minions . . .

Minions can be strange creatures. Mine are very set in their ways. For instance, each of them has a different place they like to sleep during the day: three of them in my office with me, and the other across the hall in the workroom. Let me introduce them to you.

First of all, on the bookcase along the wall in front of my desk, we have Taz, aka the Tazmanian Devil, aka Razamataz, aka Fluffums:

Next, on the chair between my desk and Taz's bookcase, we have Julius, aka Sunny Bunny:

Behind me, in a plastic bin on top of a small desk in the closet, is Dante, aka Double D, aka Sweetums:

And finally, across the hall under the blanket which was put on the futon to keep the cat hair off, is Romulus, aka Romi, aka Quit Bugging Me:

Minions are very useful creatures. For instance, they make excellent alarm clocks. When it's time for me to get up in the morning Romi will sit beside my side of the bed and meow loudly, while his brothers Julius and Dante will pull the covers off me. Unfortunately, their accuracy at telling time leaves much to be desired as they're anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes earlier than I care to be up.

They're usually waiting impatiently for me outside the bathroom door, and then race down the stairs ahead of me. I tried to get a picture but my camera has a delay on it and they're just too fast. :-)

As the resident heavy-weight, Romi is very good at protecting the house from the forest creatures that inhabit our backyard:

Dante, on the other hand, likes to make sure I don't work too hard and is quick to let me know it's time for a break. And since I have to go to the kitchen anyway to get my cup of tea, would I be a dear and toss down a few kitty treats?

Taz, who is the father of the Terrible Trio, keeps vigil at the window in my office to make sure nothing gets in that way:

It's not all work and no play, however. My minions have a basket of toys in the living room, although they're much better at getting them out than they are picking them up again:

I tried to get a picture of my minions in a single group, but the best I could do was three at once. Notice the smug look on Dante's face because he got to the coveted place mat before his brothers:

And there you have it folks, my minions. I don't know what I'd do without them. :-)

Aug 28, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

The sun is out again. Better soak up some of those rays while you still can. ;-)

Aug 27, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XV
The Devil

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XI - Justice, XII - The Hanged Man, XIII - Death, XIV - Temperance,

Card number fifteen of the Major Arcana is The Devil, a card about bondage, but often this bondage is metaphorical. You need to look beyond superficial appearances to get to the deeper truth of a situation. Be honest with yourself. What is it that you desire? That gives you pleasure? What is it that has power over you and will enslave you if you let it?

It is a warning against the destructive consequences when your actions are motivated by greed, lust and power. It's a belief or idea that's preventing you from growing as a person. However, The Devil can also be a sign that you are aware of your weaknesses and addictions, which is the first step to gaining control over them. There's still time to change the course you're on. You always have options, not matter what your situation. It's up to you to free yourself from whatever restrictions are holding you back.

When The Devil card represents a person, it's someone who can be persuasive, or aggressive and controlling. They usually have money or erotic power and are very hard to resist. You need to be careful you're not drawn too far into this person's world.

In the earliest Tarot decks, Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis, this card is called El Diavolo, The Devil. In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, this is the only card of the Major Arcana that hasn’t been preserved, leading some to believe The Devil was never part of these decks

The Rosenwald Deck shows the devil as a man with horns and clawed feet, wearing an animal skin. He holds a trident with both hands and is friendly-looking. The Cary Deck, however, portrays the devil as a cruel, horned creature. He is shown piercing the body of a naked human with his trident, and has other humans in a basket that he's carrying on his back.

In the Tarot de Marseille, Le Diable is shown as an antlered being with the wings of a bat and clawed feet. He has breasts as well as a penis. There is a blade or torch in his left hand and he's shown standing on a block of some kind. There is a mouth on his belly and eyes on his knees, and he appears to be cross-eyed. There are two humans standing on either side of him, both with antlers and tails, and they're tied to the pedestal with a rope.

In the Rider-Waite deck this is one of the darkest cards because there's so much black on it. A sinister creature with curved horns, large bat-wings and clawed feet is perched on a pedestal. He has a reversed pentagram on his head. The symbol for Saturn is carved into the palm of his right hand and he's holding an inverted torch in his left. A naked man and woman stand on either side of the pedestal. The man has a tail that ends in fire while the woman's tail ends in fruit. Both have small horns on their heads and they're chained to the pedestal in such a way that they could get loose if they wanted to.

When added together, the number 15 equals 6, which corresponds to The Lovers. Here the lovers are chained, in bondage to the material and sensual sides of their nature. Their horns and tails show that they are partially transformed into creatures of the underworld, but the chains are loose. They could escape if they wanted to and The Devil's torch can light the way out. But they choose to stay in bondage, of their own free will.

While most cards in the Tarot urge balance, unity and restraint, The Devil is a card representing the extremes, excess and loss of control. At its worst it is the card of the addict, the obsessed stalker, someone who is enslaved or relentless. At its best it's a card about letting go, cutting loose, pursuing those extreme goals.

It's natural to have self-interest, to indulge in excesses or desire pleasure. It might even be good for us at times. But we also have to be honest about our weaknesses and addictions. Denial only makes it easier for these things to control us. It's all too easy to become bound to the power of these pleasures and excesses, and the most powerful person is the one who knows when to indulge, and when to walk away.

The Devil is an inner force within all of us. It is our fears, addictions, and other harmful impulses. He's a master of deception, making it seem as though you are bound to him. But like the figures in the card, you are free to remove the chains and be free through your own will. If you're feeling stuck or restricted in your life, you may believe you're being controlled by external forces when the truth is that you've created your own chains of imprisonment. You fear the worst, and that gives your fears a hold over you, preventing you from leading a more fulfilling life.

While The Devil can reflect actual addictions, such as alcoholism, drug-taking, excessive spending, it could also indicate that you're becoming obsessed with a particular idea or situation. Only you can break free of these addictions or negative thought patterns. You need to acknowledge them and the hold they have over you.

When The Devil shows up in the past position, it means your dealings with a domineering person or situation is over with. The chains that have been holding you down are gone. In the present, this card is a wake up call. You may be involved in something that you're not even aware of, or you could be in denial over an unhealthy situation. You're being held back by something that you willingly embraced, at least initially. But whatever it is, it's the thing that's now holding you back from realizing your potential.

If The Devil appears in the future position, it's a warning that you're setting yourself up for a fall. You're attracting users and takers, which will not help you with what you wish to accomplish. Lying to yourself in order to justify what's going on isn't going to help the situation you're in. You need to be honest and re-examine what's really important in order to move forward with confidence.

Aug 26, 2013

Mellaginous Monday

mellaginous ~ of, like or pertaining to or resembling honey

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't nearly as productive last week as I would have liked to have been. I suppose I could blame the rise in temperature (and humidity) that caused a spat of headaches, but I was also in a funk for the first part of the week and it took a while to get out of it. Just one of those things.

In any case, the big news of the week is, thanks to a shark movie marathon on the weekend (Ghost Shark, Sharkasaurus, and Swamp Shark), I finished my sweater. I had just enough yarn to finish. It may look short, but I'm short waisted and for me the length is just right. However, I did run into a minor problem.

As you know, I was working without a pattern. The idea was to knit two squares (with ribbing on the bottom) and then sew them together. This would give me a boatneck collar and a drop shoulder look. However, the sweater wasn't quite wide enough for the drop shoulder. I had a choice. I could either rip it out, again, or use my mad sewing skills to alter it.

As you know, I've already had to rip this sucker out a couple of times. So I took the sewing option. I just tucked the excess under and sewed the raw edge down. It actually looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. And it didn't turn out bulky either, but gave the armholes a nice stability. And because I know you're curious, here's a picture:

So . . . what else did I do last week? I got more reading in by forcing myself to take a break once in awhile and go sit out on the deck. It helped that I treated myself to a new brand of tea for break time - it's a green tea with lemongrass and spearmint. I went on a baking binge on Wednesday - a double batch of peanut butter cookies using chunky peanut butter; a batch of sugar free, gluten free cookies; and a batch of peanut butter cupcakes. I also caught up on a bunch of emails.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part fifteen in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot is The Devil.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 80 of Water. Finally! They've broken through to the Outside. But now what? You'll have to read it to see.
Friday: This week's Ramble will be all about my minions. Everyone should have minions, right? ;-)

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from August 18 through August 24.

Crafts - 4 hours and 21 minutes ~ down from 6 hrs and 45 min
Emails - 8 hours and 53 minutes ~ up from 6 hrs and 39 min
Games - 5 hours and 55 minutes ~ way down from 12 hrs and 55 min
Reading - 5 hours and 27 minutes ~ way up from 2 hr and 59 min
Non-fiction - 9 hours and 53 minutes ~ up from 7 hrs and 00 min
Fiction - 5 hours and 01 minutes ~ up from 3 hrs and 29 min
Editing - 11 hours and 32 minutes ~ way down from 17 hrs and 26 min

Let's see . . . it makes sense that Crafts went down because I finished my sweater. I think it'll be back to crocheting for a while, at least until I work up the courage to start one of the two Icelandic sweaters I'm doing for Christmas presents.

The Emails time was up - as I said I wrote a bunch of them. And I was really happy to see that the Gaming time went down so much. At first I thought I must have missed clocking some of it, but then I realized I probably had the same number of sessions, I just wasn't spending as much on each one.

More time reading, more time writing, but less time editing. This could be because it was later in the week before I got my editing mojo back. Remember how I told you I was looking for some payback for those 649 comments a certain person made on Magical Misfire? Her novel is half that size, so I figured I owed her at least 325 comments.

Unfortunately, I didn't even make it to 100 comments. I think I'm going to have to go over it one more time, just to be sure. ;-)

Aug 23, 2013

Random Ramblings

On the hell in my head . . .

Yeah, I know. This was supposed to be a grammar related post this week. But when I came up with the idea I'd just come off of some major editing and I was all fired up, and now the fire has kind of fizzled out. ;-)

So instead I'm going to ramble about something that's near and dear to my . . . head. Headaches. I suffer from a variety of headaches, the worst being what's called an ice pick head. It's aptly named, because it feels like an ice pick is being driven through your head over and over again. It usually occurs on only one side of the head, most often behind the ear or eye, sometimes in the back of the head.

The pain itself is intense - we're talking blinding, drop what you're doing intense - but it only lasts for a few seconds. However, like I said above, you'll feel the stabbing over and over - usually over the course of a few minutes, sometimes off and on for an hour or so. And then they'll just vanish as quickly as they came.

Here's the fun part. They have no idea what causes them. There are no triggers, no other symptoms, although 25% of the people who get ice pick headaches also suffer migraines. But because they don't know what causes them, there's no way to prevent them. And there's no point in taking anything for them because by the time a pain-killer kicks in it'll be all over with.

So having been hit by a series of these ice pick headaches this week, along with a doozy of a sinus headache, I decided to do some research on headaches. Below is a list of the 15 most common types of headaches.

Rebound headaches Rebound headaches are chronic headaches caused by medication overuse. Regularly taking any pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) more than twice a week, or taking triptans (migraine drugs) for more than 10 days a month, can put you at risk for rebound headaches in just a few months. Don't try to treat these on your own. A doctor can help you stop the culprit drug, using alternatives until it's out of your system.

Tension headaches This is the most common type of headache, which usually feels like a constant aching or pressure - rather than throbbing - on both sides of the head or at the back of the head and neck. Triggers can include stress, anxiety, bad posture, and clenching your jaw, and these headaches can become chronic, although they usually aren't severe. Experts aren't sure of exact cause, although it may be due to altered brain chemicals or mixed signals in the nerves leading to the brain. These usually respond to over-the-counter pain relievers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen. Stress-relief may help.

Dental headaches There are dental-related conditions that can trigger headaches or face pain, such as bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Bruxism is grinding your teeth at night, while TMJ affects the joints, located just in front of your ear, which connect the jaw to the skull. TMJ can be caused by bad jaw alignment, stress, poor posture (like sitting at a computer all day), or arthritis, which affect the cartilage, muscles, or ligaments in the jaw. Your dentist can help diagnose these types of headaches, and treatment includes stretching the jaw, hot or cold packs, stress reduction, and bite guards.

Cluster headache These one-sided headaches are short-lived (15 minutes to 3 hours), but excruciating. These are so painful they're sometimes called the suicide headache. Cluster headaches recur regularly, even multiple times daily, over a certain period of time and then may be followed by a headache-free period of months or even years. There may be redness and tearing in one or both eyes. More common in men than women, cluster headaches can be treated with triptans or oxygen (OTC painkillers may not help). Triggers can include alcohol, cigarettes, high altitudes, and certain foods.

Migraines Migraines are severe headaches that are three times as common in women as men. The cause isn't clear, but genes do play a role, and brain cell activity may affect blood vessel and nerve cell function. One common migraine trigger is change, including hormones, stress, and sleeping or eating patterns. Treatment can include acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or triptans (such as Imitrex or Zomig), which are drugs that help treat or prevent migraines.

Caffeine headaches You love your coffee, but it can be a cruel companion. For example, if you have two cups of coffee every day at 9 a.m., and then miss those cups when you oversleep on Saturday - boom! - you can end up with a caffeine withdrawal headache. You will be more likely have them, though, if you drink a lot (say, five cups of coffee a day), then go cold turkey. You have two options, you can take caffeine when you normally do and feed the addiction, or quit altogether.

Orgasm headaches Orgasm-induced headaches are caused by, well, having an orgasm. These are relatively rare and are more common in younger people, particularly men. They usually start shortly after intercourse begins and end in a "thunderclap" headache at climax. A dull headache can often linger for hours or a day. There is often no known cause for these headaches and they usually go away on their own. A dose of pain reliever before sex may help ease the pain.

Early morning headaches If you're waking up in pain, there are several possible culprits. Migraines are more likely to happen in the morning, or medication may be waning in your body as you sleep, which causes a rebound headache. Sleep apnea sufferers may also be more prone to headaches early in the day, as are those with dental headaches.

Sinus headaches People with migraines often mistake them for sinus headaches. (One study found that 88 percent of people with a history of sinus headaches probably had migraines instead.) Symptoms like sinus pressure, nasal congestion, and watery eyes can happen in both types. A true sinus headache is related to an infection and comes with nasal discharge that is green or tinged with red. Sinus infections often resolve with time or antibiotics, if necessary, and shouldn't cause nausea or light sensitivity, which are migraine symptoms.

Ice cream headache Brain freeze! Most people have experienced the shooting head pain that can occur while enjoying a icy cold drink or treat on a hot day. People with migraines may be especially prone to them. They have an impressive medical name - sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia - but they're not all that serious. Experts think a cold sensation on the roof of the mouth can cause an increase in blood flow to one of the brain's arteries. The cure? Take a momentary break from the frosty goodness until the pain subsides, or sip warm water to help constrict the brain artery.

Chronic daily headaches If you have a headache at least 15 days per month for more than three months you're considered to have chronic daily headaches. These could be caused by overuse of pain medications (ie, rebound headaches), head injury, or in rare cases, meningitis or tumors. If there is no obvious cause, it could be because your body's pain signals are heightened or not working properly. These headaches may respond to antidepressants; beta blockers like atenolol, metoprolol, or propanolol (used to treat high blood pressure and migraines); anti-seizure medications like gabapentin or topiramate; pain relievers like naproxen (Aleve); and even Botox injections.

Menstrual headaches As if PMS wasn't bad enough, the sudden drop in estrogen right before your period can sometimes trigger migraines. These usually occur between three days before and two days after your period has started. Other women may have PMS-related headaches that aren't migraines. These arrive about six days or so before your period, at the same time as any moodiness, cramping, or other PMS symptoms. Use over-the-counter headache remedies; magnesium supplements may also help PMS-related head pain.

Weekend headaches Some people may experience headaches that mainly show up on the weekend. These are thought to be caused by oversleeping on weekend mornings, going to bed later at night, or caffeine withdrawal. Also, if your stress level is high all week, the weekend release may trigger a headache. Over-the-counter pain medications can be helpful, as can sticking to your regular sleep-wake schedule.

Emergency headaches Most headaches aren't an emergency, but there are a few symptoms that warrant rapid attention. One is a sudden onset headache that is quickly "explosive." Another is when a headache comes with a fever or extreme rise in blood pressure, or if it occurs after a blow to the head or exertion. Other problematic symptoms include vision or speech change, neck stiffness, dizziness, loss of sensation, or muscle weakness on one side of the body. Call 911 if you have these worrisome symptoms in addition to headache.

The above info on the 15 different kinds of headaches is from an article by CBSNEWS. I pared it down a bit in the interest of saving space. You can check out the article in its entirety HERE

Aug 21, 2013

Aug 20, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XIV

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XI - Justice, XII - The Hanged Man, XIII - Death,

Temperance is the fourteenth card of the Major Arcana. To be temperate is to show moderation and self-restraint. This card speaks of an inner calm, your ability to weigh right from wrong, to balance good against bad. It suggests you find the middle way to find balance in relationships - friends, family, romance, work. In a world full of indulgences, finding the middle ground is not always an easy task. Think of Temperance as the eye in the heart of the hurricane.

In the earliest known Spanish Tarot deck, Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis, this card is called La Temperentia while in the early Italian decks it is La Temperanza and the number is VI or VII. The Visconti-Sforza Tarot shows a woman with a bored expression wearing a blue dress that is adorned with golden stars. She is pouring liquid from a decorated vase in her right hand, into another one held at a lower level in her left hand.

The Rosenwald Tarot depicts a seated woman grasping two vases that are connected by a thin spout of liquid. She has some kind of polygonal halo around her head. On the Cary Sheet, Temperance is a richly dressed woman portrayed in profile. She is crowned and has a slight smile on her face as she pours the contents of a vase into a smaller goblet. Behind her is some sort of pillar, which is may part of her throne.

The Tarot de Marseille, is the first deck to show La Temperance with wings. She also has a flower in her hair and is holding two vases that are again connected by a spout of liquid. In the Thoth Tarot this card is called Art, instead of Temperance.

Temperance in the Rider-Waite deck depicts an archangel with a long, white robe, mixing the contents of two golden chalices. The angel is thought to be a hermaphrodite (the child of Hermes and Aphrodite), showing a balance between the genders. The angel has one foot on dry land, representative of the material world, and one foot in the water, representative of the subconscious. It also represents the need to ‘test the waters’ before jumping headfirst into unknown circumstances.

The triangle inside the square on the robe is an ancient symbol of healing, representing the female being protected by natural law. In the angel's hands are two golden chalices. These represent the sub-conscious and super-conscious mind and our emotional attachments. The water flowing between the chalices is actually going from the lower one to the higher one, signifying the rise from a lower plane to a higher one and finding the right balance between two sides.

In the angel's hair is the symbol of the sun and in the background of the card there is also a sun with a crown concealed within it. The red wings of the angel represent blood, life, and the soul which transcends death. The flowers are irises, representing the goddess Iris, personification of the rainbow and goddess of both sea and sky.

Temperance can represent a need for moderation or balance in your life. If you're in the middle of a conflict then you would be well advised to look for ways to compromise and cooperate. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to bring the rival parties together. To temper can mean to modify by adding a new component. By mixing and recombining, the ideal mixture or solution can be reached.

You have thus far been able to take the middle road, avoiding extremes and maintaining a balance in your life. You've learned to keep calm in the face of stressful situations. Don't let things get to you - you've found a place of peace. Your achievement of balance will help you experience fulfillment in your life as long as your temperament remains well balanced.

Rather than rushing into things, you're taking your time to ensure that you do the best job you can. You have a clear, long-term vision of what you want to achieve. You're at peace with what you're doing and it's all starting to come together. The perspective you have on your current situation is very balanced and you're in the perfect position to make the right choices.

When Temperance appears in a Tarot spread it may be suggesting that moderation is required in some aspect of your life. It may also suggest balance in the form of some kind of compromise needs to be reached. If you're having trouble with the blending of a situation - family, friends, a belief system - don't give up. Keep trying and making adjustments until you find the right mix.

In reverse, Temperance indicates that although you may have been putting on a brave face over a situation, the cracks are beginning to show. This can be a good thing. It's only once others can see our vulnerability that we're able to seek the help we need.

In the past position, Temperance shows there is a foundation of calm surrounding you. It could be due to something in your recent past when you showed a great deal of integrity and character in a tempting situation, or it could go all the way back to your childhood, which was the basis for your inner peace.

If you are going through a legal struggle, a good place for Temperance to appear is the present. You will find common ground in a dispute and moving forward things will be equitable. If you abandon your extreme positions you will be much happier. Replace the stubborn side of your character with tolerance.

The best position for Temperance in a spread is in the future position. If you're currently ill, it's telling you that physical health and stamina are on their way. And no matter how much you've struggled in the past or how bad things are now, this card is a promise things will get better.

Aug 19, 2013

Minnesinger Monday

minnesinger ~ medieval troubadour or poet

The good news is, I finally finished the latest rounds of edits on Magical Misfire. The bad news is that I've changed so much (adding 3,000 words in the process), that I'm going to have to go over it again to make sure it makes sense. *sigh*

Wanna see the cover? Silly question, of course you do!

Isn't it awesome? I have the lovely and talented Jamie DeBree to thank for it. So thank you Jamie! :-)

I finished knitting the front of my cotton sweater and it's all cast off. It is just the perfect length (for me) and the stripe looks really good. I've started the back and am about three or four inches past the ribbing.

I mentioned before that I have a limited amount of the main colour of this yarn. I'm pretty sure that originally I had two packages with three balls each. At one point I'd started crocheting octagons that I was going to sew together for a shawl or something, so while the front of the side I've done looks fine, the back is riddled with yarn ends where I've had to splice the yarn from unravelled octagons.

You might need to click on the picture to make it bigger to see the detail of all those loose ends.

I went to a writers group meeting at Tim Horton's last week and we found it was a good alternative to the park. For one thing it had lots of coffee/tea and clean washrooms. ;-)

I also went to a poetry reading where one of our local poets was having a book launch. Everyone seemed to have a good time, although it ran a little on the long side.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part fourteen in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot is Temperance.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 79 of Water. Seriously. No more excuses. They're getting out of that volcano this week if I have to go in and drag them out!
Friday: This week's Ramble will be a grammarly one, and that's all I'm saying at this point. Unless I come up with a better idea. :-)

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from August 11 through August 17.

Crafts - 6 hours and 45 minutes ~ up from 4 hrs and 47 min
Emails - 6 hours and 39 minutes ~ up from 5 hrs and 42 min
Games - 12 hours and 26 minutes ~ way up from 7 hrs and 38 min
Reading - 2 hour and 59 minutes ~ way up from 1 hr and 13 min
Non-fiction - 7 hours and 00 minutes ~ down from 8 hrs and 24 min
Fiction - 3 hours and 29 minutes ~ about the same - 3 hrs and 42 min
Editing - 17 hours and 26 minutes ~ way up from 11 hrs and 36 min

Everything went up except my non-fiction time. But I have to wonder how accurate that particular time is. It's supposed to include research, but sometimes if I'm doing fiction writing or editing I need to look stuff up on the internet, and technically that's research. And I don't bother punching in and out to switch projects when I do. Maybe I need to keep track on a notepad and then add/subtract from the totals accordingly.

Those pesky Fiction times still aren't really moving upwards yet. Maybe now that I'm taking a break from the intensive editing on Magical Misfire I'll be able to focus a little more on some of my other stories

But lest you think I'm abandoning editing . . . I have a juicy novel from my favorite author I can't wait to sink my teeth into. After all, I have to thank her somehow for those 600-odd comments she made on my novel. ;-)

Aug 18, 2013

Bonus Post!

So here's something cool . . .

I got tagged for a meme by fellow writer Murees Dupé of Daily Drama of an Aspiring Writer. It's been a long time since I've been tagged in a meme, so thank you Murees!

The rules of this tag are very simple. I have to answer four of the following nine questions, link back to Murees and then tag four other writers. The tag is above, so I'll skip right to the questions:

1. What are you working on right now?
2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?
3. What experiences have influenced you?
4. Why do you write what you do?
5. How does your writing process work?
6. What is the hardest part about writing?
7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven't yet?
8. Who are the authors you most admire?
9. What scares you?

And here are the four questions I chose, and my answers:

What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm winding down on my science fiction adventure/romance, on-line serial, Water, which is the third in my Ardraci Elementals series, and at the same time putting the finishing touches on my fantasy/adventure novel, Magical Misfire, which will be the first book in the Moonstone Chronicles.

Why do you write what you do?
When I was in high school I had dreams of writing science fiction short stories. However, my stories were anything but short, and my heroes/heroines kept falling in love. At that time I was reading a lot of science fiction, so I guess it's true that you write what you know. However, I find it ironic that since I started writing science fiction romance that I read very little s/f - romantic or otherwise.

How does your writing process work?
I seem to have two methods for writing: serialize the story on my blog and write as I go, or write it all at once during NaNoWriMo. At this point it's only the serialized stories that are getting finished, but I hope to acquire the discipline to change that. Once a story's finished I edit it, edit some more, send it to my awesome Betas who mark it all up, edit it some more, and then hopefully I can call it done. :-)

What is the hardest part about writing?
Finishing. I don't just mean the editing (which can be a right bear) I mean knowing when enough is enough and it's time to just let it go. I'm always wanting to go back and change things, even after I've published them. :-)

So, now for me to tag a few others:

I tag Jamie DeBree, from The Variety Pages, Dolly Garland, from Kaizen Journaling, and Debby Lean, from Midweek Musings.

Aug 16, 2013

Random Ramblings

Just a minor note . . . in the original post I had the year as 2013. I have corrected it to be 2003. Oops!

On power outages . . .

August 14, 2003.

Where were you when the lights went out?

I was in the grocery store. There weren't many customers, and if you were using cash or a credit card you were allowed to check out (the store still had a couple of those old machines that you could run a credit card through to leave an impression on the credit slip). Debit card holders were out of luck.

I remember it was very quiet at home. We sat outside with a fire going, fired up the barbeque to cook supper on. The stars were absolutely breathtaking. Later I read by candle light. It was an awesome adventure.

We were some of the lucky ones in that our power was only out for about twenty-four hours. Some of the over 50 million people affected were without power for two or more days. One of the most amazing things about this power outage was the fact there was no increase in crime in our major city of Toronto. There were street parties, free food from restaurants using up what was in their freezers before it went bad, ice cream places giving out free ice cream, but no reports of looting.

They said afterwards that it was a fluke. It was a bizarre string of incidents that could never happen again. But that doesn't mean that we could never have another power outage on that scale. Threats of terrorist attacks aside, we've been have a lot of extreme weather lately that has been causing a number of small outages. Isn't it just a matter of time before it causes a big one? We were lucky with the outage of 2003, it happened in the summer time. Anyone remember the Ice Storm of '98?

Now, let me as you this. If your area were to experience a major power outage, no matter what season it was, would you be prepared? You can laugh at the survivalists and those who went to extreme measures to prepare for the end of the world in 2012, but as far as I'm concerned, these are the people who will best be prepared when things become unplugged.

Could you survive if the power went out?

Aug 14, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

I don't know about you, but I think today would be a good day to lounge around in bed. ;-)

Aug 13, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XIII

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XI - Justice, XII - The Hanged Man,

The thirteenth card of the Major Arcana is Death. Here we see our greatest fear. We shrink away from the Death card because of what we think it represents. But this card does not embody physical death, merely a transition into a new state. It can indicate endings, changes and all sorts of transitions, or it can simply show that it is time to let go of the past and move on.

Transition can be difficult for some people - the death of the old to make way for the new. The more accepting you are of the changes you will be going through at this time, the easier it will be for you. You may need to let go of a self-limiting belief or attitude. The energy surrounding you is not just change and destruction; it is change and destruction followed by rebirth. One door is closing, but another is opening.

The Death card commonly depicts a skeleton riding a horse. The image can be referenced to the revelation of Saint John: 6:8
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.

The earliest known Tarot deck, Sermones de Ludo Cum Aliis, calls this card La Morte (Death). In the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, the card depicts a creepily grinning skeleton with some kind of flowing veil tied around his skull. He holds a huge, curved bow in his left hand and a thin arrow in his right. Because of the plague in the 14th century,depictions of Death like this one were popular.

In the Rosenwald deck the card shows a robed skeleton that clasps a scythe and rides a horse, trampling two lifeless bodies in the process, while in the Marseille deck the card has no title and was called L'Arcane Sans Nom (the Arcanum with no Name). In the Grimaud deck, the skeleton is missing his left foot and his spine resembles an ear of wheat or a vine.

In the Rider-Waite deck, Death is portrayed as a skeleton because the skeletal bones are the part of the body that survives death. The armour he is wearing indicates that he is invincible - no-one has yet triumphed over Death. The horse Death rides is white, the colour of purity, indicating that Death is the ultimate purifier. The banner he carries is black, indicating an absence of light, but it has a white rose emblazoned on it, signifying immortality, beauty and purification. The number thirteen represents the thirteen moons in a year.

A king is shown lying on the ground, a reminder that Death takes us all equally. A bishop appears to be paying homage to him, faith in the face of death, while a maiden seems distraught, representing the sorrow and pain that often accompanies death. There is even a child, proving that Death does not discriminate between age, race or gender.

The neutral gray of the sky in the background shows Death's impartiality. The sun of immortality shines between two pillars on the horizon. The sun sets, or dies, each evening only to be reborn again as it rises each morning. There is a boat on the water which is the ferry that carries souls across the River Styx. The water itself shows that life will go on - the water reaches the sea, rises to the clouds, and falls again as rain in a continuous cycle.

Death is our greatest fear since it is the greatest unknown. But our minds and spirits die continuously, shedding old beliefs and acquiring new ones, making this a card of transformation. When the Death card appears it means that big changes are heading your way. Usually this refers to an old attitude or perspective that's no longer useful and you need to let go of it. Sometimes it's hard to see how much your attitudes are hurting you, and when this is true Death is your wake-up call.

Change happens for a reason, and Death does not discriminate, it's absolutely fair. Everyone is equal in the eyes of Death. This is a card of endings and new beginnings. Accept that change happens. Worrying about things will get you nowhere. Life is a cycle where nothing is destroyed, it is only transformed.

In a spread, Death represents the ending of something significant in your life that will initiate a great change. It's the end of an era; a door is being closed. But at the same time it is the beginning of something far more significant. You need to put your past behind you and get ready to embrace new opportunities and possibilities. Let go of those unhealthy attachments to pave the way to richer, more fulfilling experiences.

When Death is reversed it indicates that while you are on the verge of a major change, you are resisting that change. You may be reluctant to let go of the past or you may not know how to make the changes you need. Because of your resistance to change, your life is stagnate and you're stuck in limbo. You need to focus on what is preventing you from changing.

Death is probably best when it shows up in the past position in a spread. It indicates you've undergone a traumatic change, but it's all behind you now. This change may be the foundation on which your current situation rests.

In the present position it indicates that you are having to deal with current changes. It could be financial changes, changes within your job, or even changes in the status of a relationship. You may have to just accept these changes as inevitable and work for a happier tomorrow.

When landing in the future position, Death is an indication of the death of a close friendship or previously strong relationship. If you're secure in your job you may want to check again. Let go of past issues that are holding you back.

Aug 12, 2013

Mutic Monday

mutic ~ lacking normal defensive parts or organs

Everyone have a good weekend? I spent the weekend in our nation's capital for a wedding - in other words, I have a legitimate excuse for getting no writing or editing done on the weekend. No reading or crafts either! LOL

I gotta admit, I was feeling a little antsy up in Ottawa. As you know, I am not the most social of persons, and there was way too many people in way too little space. But I was glad to be a part of my niece's special day. It was nice to get home again though.

You know, until I looked at the actual numbers for last week, I thought I was kind of a slacker. Monday was the Civic holiday and we spent it out at the cottage, Wednesday I had company, Thursday afternoon I was shopping in Peterborough, and Saturday I was in Ottawa. So there's three and a half days when I really wasn't able to get much done.

However, comparing last week's total to the week before, there's only about a six hour difference. I don't know if I was more focused or just made better use of what time I had, but I hope I keep up the good work.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part thirteen in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot is Death.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 78 of Water. I'm starting to get the impression this group likes it in the volcano! Guess I'll have to see if I can prod them along.
Friday: This week's Ramble will be another surprise one. One of these days I should come up with a list of topics. :-)

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from August 4 through August 10.

Crafts - 4 hours and 47 minutes ~ way down from 13 hrs and 19 min
Emails - 5 hours and 42 minutes ~ down from 6 hrs and 9 min
Games - 7 hours and 38 minutes ~ down from 9 hrs and 4 min
Reading - 1 hour and 13 minutes ~ about the same - 1 hr and 29 min
Non-fiction - 8 hours and 24 minutes ~ down from 10 hrs and 43 min
Fiction - 3 hours and 42 minutes ~ about the same - 3 hrs and 30 min
Editing - 11 hours and 36 minutes ~ way up from 6 hrs and 6 min

Not bad, not bad at all considering I really only worked three and a half out of seven days last week.

I only spent about a third of the amount of time crafting as I did the week before - that was a big surprise. But I was very happy to see my gaming time went down as well. And do you see? I almost doubled the amount of time I spent editing. Go me! LOL

But ... those pesky Fiction times aren't really moving upwards yet. However, what you don't see reflected there is the split in time. The week before the bulk of my Fiction time was spent on Water. Last week I spent less time on Water, and added a new story to the Fiction total. So technically I got more accomplished.

This week's focus will be keeping those Editing times up, and increasing the Fiction times. Let's hear it for new words! :-)

Aug 9, 2013

Random Ramblings

On knitting versus crocheting ...

I have a friend who enjoys crocheting. Right now she's attempting to learn to knit and she's finding it a tad ... challenging. I have another friend who knits and she's attempting to learn to crochet. Her results are somewhat hilarious. But they're both sticking with it and I'm sure, in time, they will both master these two similar, yet very different, crafts.

And just as I have these two friends who are flexible enough to give both knitting and crocheting a try, I have others who ... aren't. There's a surprising number of knitters out there who look down on the lowly crochet hook, while there are just as many crocheters who will convert a pattern to crochet before attempting to knit it. Each believes their way is the only way.

So what's the difference, really?

Both use yarn to make sweaters, afghans, toys, lace, mittens, scarves ... Both work from patterns that have almost indecipherable abbreviations in them - sometimes the same abbreviations. Both require hand-eye coordination and the ability to stick with a project. And both require patience. Sometimes a lot of patience.

The first big different is equipment. Crochet uses a single hook. It may be large or small, made of steel, wood or plastic, but the basic design is the same - it's a hook. Knitting, however, uses pointy needles. Most commonly these needles will be long with the point at one end, but you can also get double pointed needles (points at both ends) or circular needles (joined by cord).

Both crochet and knitting involve manipulating loops of yarn that build on each other to create rows. But here's where we find the difference. With knitting you keep the active loops on one needle. Each stitch supports the one below it and if you "drop" a stitch (it falls off the needle) the whole column of stitches below it can unravel. With crochet only one loop at a time is active. Again, the stitches build on top of each other, but the active loop is the only one on your hook.

I don't remember learning to crochet, although I'm pretty sure I learned from a book. But I do remember learning to knit. I was pregnant at the time and all my female relatives thought it was appalling that I wasn't knitting my baby a sweater. So I taught myself to knit and made a cute little wrap around sweater with booties to match in the garter stitch (straight knitting with no purling).

So which is better?

For me, it depends on the pattern and the project. For big things like afghans or tiny things like snowflakes, I prefer to crochet. With the afghans they just seem to go faster with crocheting, although I have to admit I haven't knitted many afghans. Probably because I'm afraid of dropping a stitch near the end of the project and having to start over again. And while a crochet project seems to take forever using a tiny steel hook, it's much worse when you're having to use tiny steel knitting needles.

But sweaters, gloves, scarves, or any other medium sized project seems to go quicker with knitting. I actually did try to crochet a sweater once ... it was not a pretty sight. ;-) One of my sisters is an avid crocheter. I remember she once crocheted herself a bikini and cover-up out of cotton thread. I wouldn't have the patience for something like that.

And that, I think, is the secret to my love of both knitting and crochet - patience. I don't have a lot of patience for these things and I tend to stick to rather simplistic patterns. I don't crochet doilies or lace tablecloths, and I don't knit sweaters with pictures on them. If it starts feeling like too much work, it's time to set it aside.

So. Which is better, knitting or crocheting?

Whichever gives you the most pleasure. :-)

Aug 7, 2013

Hump Day Hunk

I think this would be a good day to hang out at the beach, don't you? ;-)

Aug 6, 2013

Major Arcana of the Tarot - Part XII
The Hanged Man

0 - The Fool, I - The Magician, II - The High Priestess, III - The Empress, IV - The Emperor
V - The Hierophant, VI - The Lovers, VII - The Chariot, VIII - Strength, IX - The Hermit,
X - The Wheel of Fortune, XII - Justice,

The twelfth card of the Major Arcana, The Hanged Man, is a metaphor for the turning points in life. This is a time of suspension where a new viewpoint is needed. You might be at a crossroads, one with only two options before you. You may have the urge to "do something" but have no idea what it is. The Hanged Man is telling you to stop and assess the situation. Perhaps you need to let go of an outdated attitude. Take the time to stop and relax.

If you look at the Hanged Man you can see that although he's suspended from a tree, the expression on his face is peaceful. His body and mind are in a state of focused surrender to the flow of the world around him. There are no expectations. By suspending ourselves we can gain the perspective we need to identify the things we're clinging to that impede our progress.

In the earliest tarot decks this card is called Lo Impichato (The Hanged Man), but he is referred to in Italian as Il Traditore (The Traitor). Hanging a man by his feet was a particularly painful and humiliating punishment, reserved for traitors in Italy.

The Visconti-Sforza Tarot shows a young man hanging upside-down from gallows that are set up in the form of a doorway. His feet are crossed and his hands are tied behind his back. The Rosenwald deck shows a man hanging from a horizontal pole held upright by two vertical posts. Again, his feet are crossed, but he is holding a bag of money in each hand.

In the Mythic Tarot deck, The Hanged Man is represented by Prometheus, the titan who is credited with gifting fire to mankind and in turn was bound to a rock by Zeus and had his liver eaten by an eagle each day. The Hanged Man is also said to be a representation of the Norse god Odin, who hung upside down for nine days from the world-tree Yggdrasil.

In the Rider-Waite Tarot, the card shows a man hanging upside down from a tree. He dangles by his left leg, which symbolizes higher awareness, and his right leg crosses behind the left at a right angle, representing a cross-roads. The tree he's suspended from is shaped like a Tau cross, and has leaves on it, showing that it's a live tree. This is the World Tree, rooted in the underworld and supporting the heavens.

The Hanged Man's leggings are red, the colour of fire, and represent human passion and the physical body. His tunic is blue, the colour of water, representing knowledge. Taken together, his clothing represents balance, while his yellow shoes represent his high ideals.

The peaceful expression on his face shows that he is not suffering - it is to be believed that he is hanging on the tree of his own free will. Around his head is a bright yellow halo showing his spiritual attainment, gaining higher awareness and insight.

The chief lesson of the Hanged man is that we move forward by standing still, we control by letting go. This is a card of suspension, not life or death. It's not just a card of rest, it means a new way of seeing things that often leads to new insights or enlightenment.

The Hanged Man is an unsettling card because it symbolizes a paradox - something that appears contradictory, yet is true. Greater wisdom and happiness are accessible, but only if you're prepared to sacrifice something in return. This sacrifice might be something physical, but most often it's emotional, such as letting go of a fantasy or dream you hold dear.

In a reading it suggests that the best approach to a problem is not always the most obvious. When we want to act, that's the time we should wait. You might be better off if you can stall any decision making at this time. Buy yourself time for reflection. The Hanged man is all about suspension and waiting in order to allow new possibilities to arise.

This card can also sometimes indicate that you're feeling stuck or limited in your life. You need to discover why you're feeling this way in order to release yourself from these restrictions. Perhaps you need an emotional release, or to open yourself up to new experiences. The fact that the man hanging from the tree is upside down shows the need for you to look at yourself from an entirely new perspective. Your life is not in a rut, merely in suspension until you recognize what it is you need to do.

The Hanged Man in the past position shows that the situation you find yourself in now began with a letting go of some reward in the past. You are where you are not because of a decision to let go of things or let things settle by themselves. When it appears in the present position it is most often a warning for you to avoid conflict. Someone is spoiling for a fight and the best way to defeat them is to not engage in the battle in the first place. In the future position, The Hanged Man is a warning of a conflict to come. The best victories are the battles that are avoided while the enemy destroys himself.

Aug 5, 2013

Morphallaxis Monday

morphallaxis ~ regeneration in a changed form

Is everyone excited about the new Doctor? Kudos to the BBC for co-ordinating their TV special so that everyone got to see it at the same time, thus eliminating spoilers. To me the 12th Doctor Who looks kind of like the love child of David Tennant and Matt Smith, but much older than either of them. I'll reserve judgement on his suitability as the Doctor until I see him in action. :-)

Let's see, what did I do last week?

I did a lot of knitting. In fact, I started a simple sleeveless sweater out of a cotton yarn and kept at it until I ran out of yarn. Three inches of ribbing (which I hate doing) and about fourteen or sixteen inches of sweater, which was about four inches too short. So I ripped it back down to the ribbing and now I've started over, using a contrast colour to add a stripe to the middle of the left side.

I didn't do a lot of reading last week, but I did get a story edited and back to its author and it's a really, really, really good story. It's a romantic suspense called English Breakfast, by Jamie DeBree, and it will be available August 16th. Definitely something for everyone to look forward to.

In the meantime, try Jamie's latest thriller, Sprouted. It's part of her Death by Veggies series. Trust me, you'll never look at chia seeds the same way again. ;-)

You can download your copy from your favorite on-line book store, or from the Brazen Snake Bookstore. It's a steal at $1.99!

This is a holiday for we Canadians, so everyone has the day off. Okay, not everyone, but most of us do. We're off to the cottage this afternoon for a barbeque. I really hate just sitting around out there socializing, so I will be taking my afghan with me to work on.

Blog Stuff For the Week:

Tuesday: Part twelve in my series on the Major Arcana of the Tarot is The Hanged Man.
A new hump day hunk for your viewing pleasure. ;-)
Thursday: Chapter 77 of Water. I think it's time to get this group out of the volcano, what do you think?
Friday: This week's Ramble will be another surprise one. Hopefully sometime between now and Friday I will be struck by inspiration. :-)

Other Stuff

This week's TraxTime report runs from July 28 through August 3, which means all that editing I did yesterday won't be included until next week. Also, I added two new projects: Research, which is included with the Non-fiction, and New Ideas, which is included with Fiction.

Crafts - 13 hours and 19 minutes ~ down from 18 hrs 28 min
Emails - 6 hours and 9 minutes ~ about the same - 6 hrs 14 min
Games - 9 hours and 4 minutes ~ way up from 4 hr 28 min
Reading - 1 hour and 29 minutes ~ way down from 4 hrs 30 min
Non-fiction - 10 hours and 43 minutes ~ way up from 5 hrs 33 min
Fiction - 3 hours and 30 minutes ~ about the same - 3 hrs 21 min
Editing - 6 hours and 6 minutes ~ up from 4 hrs 13 min

So ... how'd I do? Over all I think I did really well. Despite the fact my gaming time almost doubled, I still managed to get my editing time and my non-fiction writing time up. This week's goal will be to get that Fiction time up too.

Aug 2, 2013

Random Ramblings

On some interesting facts about hair styling . . .

But first a different sort of interesting (or maybe not) fact. ;-)

It occurred to me, as I was preparing for this post, that I do a lot of research on stuff. In fact, I do enough research on various things that I put Research as a project title in my TraxTime program so I can keep track of how much time I spend doing research. And it also occurred to me that maybe I do all this research not just as a form of procrastination, but because I actually like doing research. And that got me thinking to when the daughter was in university and she had a couple of jobs that required a lot of research and I remember her telling me how much she liked doing research and I thought she was nuts because let's face it, research is boring. Or at least it's supposed to be.

Apparently the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

So . . . last week I rambled at length over whether I should get my hair cut into bangs. And as I was procrastinating working on that ramble, I started thinking about different hair styles and wondered who came up with the idea of doing all the various weird things we do to our hair. This, of course, led to, you guessed, research. So I thought for today's ramble I'd share a few of the facts I found out about hair styling throughout world history.

The Egyptians were apparently the first hair stylists. They'd wrap their hair around wooden rollers and let it dry to create a temporary wave, or use combs and hairpins in it. Egyptian women believe thicker hair was best and would use hair extensions or wigs made of real hair or sheep's wool.

Roman women dyed their hair and piled it high on their heads, often tying it around a wire frame. The amount of time a Roman woman spent on her hair was an indication of her wealth and beauty, which lead to some very outrageous hair styles.

In Greece woman would highlight their hair with saffron. Their styles were more simplistic and they most often wore their long hair pulled back in a "Greek knot," which was basically a chignon style bun at the base of the neck.

The Chinese believed it was disrespectful to cut their hair because it was inherited from their parents. Unmarried girls usually wore their long hair in a braid, while married women wore their hair up.

In early Japan, however, noble women wore their hair pulled back tight in a sickle-shaped ponytail. Later they wore their long hair unbound as a sign of beauty and then later still they began to use more elaborate styles involving different buns decorated with ornamental sticks, ribbons, flowers, and combs.

The different tribes in Africa had a wide variety of hair styles. Masai warriors would spend hours braiding each other's waist-length hair and dye it red with a natural pigment that was mixed with animal fat. Women and non-warriors usually just shaved their heads. The Mangbetu women braided their hair into a cone-shaped basket that was held in place by bones shaped like needles. By contrast, the Miango tribe covered simple ponytails with headscarves. The Temne tribe spent hours braiding their hair into fine rows symbolizing the cultivation of the land. This style was known as cornrows.

The Native Indian tribes had many different styles as well. The east coast natives had shaved heads with a ridge of hair growing along the crown, what we today would call a mohawk. Other tribes believed their hair symbolized power and the longer the hair the more wisdom and power a warrior possessed. Their hair would be separated into two braids or a single braid down the back for a more experienced warrior. Women would decorated their braids with jewellery, beads, and feathers.

Just a few extra, really random facts:

Cavemen used sharp rocks, shells or flint to scrape hair from their face and head, although this had more to do with dealing with personal vermin than fashion.

Egyptians used henna to colour their hair.

In Rome, hair colour determined social status. Upper-class dyed theirs red, middle-class blonde, and the lower-class black.

In 1092 A.D. there was a papal decree that demanded all Roman Catholic clergymen must remove their facial hair.

Women of the Renaissance would pluck the entire front of their hairline to give themselves a higher forehead.

The word "hairdresser" first appeared in Europe in the early 1600s.

Charles II of England introduced male wigs in 1660 to cover his own thinning hair.

In the 1700s the "Tower" hairstyle was made popular by Marie Antoinette.

The fad of male wigs ended in 1762 due to the hefty tax on wig powder.

Short hair was extremely popular during the French Revolution (1789).

In 1845, metal hot combs were invented in France to temporarily straighten curly hair.

In 1875 the curling iron was invented by Marcel Grateau.

Alexandre Godefoy invented the first electric hair dryer in 1890.

The first synthetic hair dye was created by Eugene Schueller (founder of L'Oreal).

Bobby pins were introduced to America in 1916.

The "cold wave" perm was invented in 1930 and took only two hours.