Nov 26, 2014

Of An Unpolitically Correct Christmas

I got the following poem sent to me in my email last week and even though it's slanted towards Americans, it struck me as being very apropos to the upcoming holidays, no matter where you live. I don't know who the author of this poem is, so if anyone knows, please let me know.


T'was two months before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a 'Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!

Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was nowhere to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-is-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.

The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say,
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holidays!

Nov 24, 2014

Magniloquent Monday

magniloquent ~ speaking in a grand or pompous style

I must be making progress, not only did I get all of my blog posts written last week, I got them posted on time as well. :-)

Well so much for our snow. There was just enough on the ground for a couple of days to call it winter, then it melted away. The temperature began to rise and we've had rain the last few days. Today it's supposed to go up to 12 C (that's 54 F for you Yankees). No wonder everyone's coming down with colds and flu.

We've also got a wind warning in effect. Remember that wind I talked about Wednesday? To my great dismay it toasted my heavy duty glass wind chimes I had outside. These chimes survived last year's ice storm as well as a whole summer full of wind. Now all that's left is fragments hanging from their shepherd's crook.

I'm finally caught up on my NaNo, at least I was last night as I wrote this post. By the time you're reading this I'll be behind by a few hundred words again, but that's usually the way it goes with NaNo.

I had big plans on the weekend to write until my fingers fell off, but got sidetracked by an extreme attack of tiredness on Friday. So although I got 5,000 words done on Saturday, and almost 2,000 words on Sunday, I got 0 words on Friday, which left me about 3,000 words short of my three-day goal of 10,000 words.

Oh, well. 7,000 words is still nothing to sneeze at, and maybe I can hang onto a little of that determination for the week ahead.

The new baby set I'm working on for my future granddaughter is working up much quicker than I expected so there's hope I'll have it done for the weekend. There's four pieces to it and I'm almost finished the second piece. I started with the hat, which was the most difficult of the four and it's pretty darned cute, if I do say so myself. I wish I could post a picture of it, but I have to wait until after the daughter's baby shower so I don't spoil the surprise. :-)

As I'm sure I mentioned last weekend, I'm throwing a baby shower for my daughter on the weekend, so along with NaNoing and blog posts, I'm also going to have to find time to do a little cleaning up around here. Not everyone enjoys dust bunnies the way I do.

Go figure, eh? ;-)

Nov 21, 2014

What I'm Reading

Did you not get the memo that it's NaNo time? For those of you who have been living under a rock and have never heard of National Novel Writing Month, you can learn about it HERE. And for those of you curious about my NaNo progress, you can read all about it HERE.

Anyway, I've been too busy writing to be reading. Or to do much of anything else, either.

That being said, I did actually get a miniscule amount of reading in. I really, really wanted to read but I couldn't settle on a book, so I started about three different ones but only got a few pages in before I'd give up.

So today I decided I'll pimp out a couple of books by two of my friends instead. That's the beauty of this being my own blog - I can do things like that.

First we have MacKenzie Saves the World, by Jamie DeBree.

MacKenzie Jones wasn't looking for love, just fulfilling her dream of owning a comic book shop. It seems too good to be true when she meets a candidate for her own personal superhero masquerading as a bookkeeper next door. But he holds a villain's secret that threatens to keep them both from finding their happily ever after.

Josh Taylor can't stop thinking about the geeky comic shop girl who's driving his sister crazy with her unconventional marketing ideas. Despite their very different backgrounds, he's more than willing to take a chance on love with MacKenzie. But when his father's business comes between them and a series of accidents nearly ruins both the comic shop and the catering service, it might be more than even true love can overcome.

Pick up your copy today for only $2.99 on Amazon.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Then we have Left In Sorrow, by Deborah Lean.

After almost twenty-five years of marriage, Holly Prentice has settled into a quiet and complacent lifestyle. Believing they had a ‘promise to love and cherish until death they do part’ kind of marriage, she was overwhelmed with grief when, on a snowy February night, her husband is killed in a car accident.

Holly quickly learned that everything she believed to be true about her husband, her marriage, and even herself was based on ignorance and lies.

Richard had been having an affair.

Escaping to the only place she has ever felt comfortable…the cottage, she decides to make the move permanent, and is faced with the challenge of a renovation to make the cottage an all-season home.

Holly feels up to the task, but she’s not quite so sure she’s up to the challenge of Ben MacRay, the contractor she hired for the job. Thinking she was over and done with relationships, Ben shows her the changes that are possible…in the cottage and in her life, and that sometimes with change, you have to take a chance.

You can get this one for free from Amazon. But act quickly because it'll only be free for another couple of days. After that you'll have to pay $2.99.

Happy reading to all!

Nov 19, 2014

On Winter Predictions . . .

As I sit here typing this (Tuesday night), the wind is not just whistling around the eaves, it's roaring around them, just as it has been all day. Only now the snow's starting as well so it's looking rather blizzardly out there right now.

Normally I enjoy the wind, however after listening to it all day I have to admit it's getting on my nerves a bit. However, I digress.

There was a lively discussion at the gym this morning about winter hitting so hard and fast and what that might mean in the long term. Some believe that because we're getting slammed early it won't last. Others believe it's just the tip of the ice berg and we're going to get slammed for the next six months.

So I thought it might be interesting to do a little research on different methods for predicting winter and a few of the predictions for this winter. Let's start with the fun stuff first:

Ways of predicting winter:

The brighter the fall foliage, the colder and snowier the winter ahead.

When hornets, wasps, and bees start building their nests high up in the trees, you can expect a severe winter with lots of snow.

If the animals around you have an unusually thick coat of fur, winter will be colder than normal.

If the migratory birds start flying southward earlier than usual, it means winter weather is on its way early. However, if they're hanging around in late November, it means the winter will be mild.

Buy a locally grown persimmon and cut it open. If the seeds are in a spoon shaped pattern it represents the shovel you'll need for all the snow you'll have to deal with. A knife shape indicates a cold, cutting winter wind. But if the seeds are in the shape of a fork, you can expect a mild winter with only a light dusting of snow.

If spiders are spinning larger than normal sized webs, it means they're preparing for a bad winter.

Check out the woolly bear caterpillar of the tiger moth. This is the furry, black and brown caterpillar most people are familiar with. The wider the black bands on it, the more severe the winter. But if the brown band is wider then you can expect a milder winter.

Look at the moss growing on any nearby tree: the more moss on the south side of the tree the harder the coming winter.

If you notice the squirrels seem to be gathering more food to store than usual, or burying it deeper, it's a sure sign the impending weather will be bad.

Thicker shells on acorns mean an extra cold winter.

Pine trees will produce larger than normal cones to ensure that some seeds will make it to spring.

Thicker corn husks and onion skins also indicate a severe winter is on the way. The thicker skins are meant to protect the vegetables from the cold.

Fruit trees blooming twice in one year are a certain sign the winter will be severe.

If the sun shines while snow is falling, expect more snow very soon.

If there's a ring around the moon, count the number of stars inside to tell you how many days until the next snowfall. If the moon has two rings around it, it will snow within 24 hours.

If you see lightning in winter, it indicates snowfall within ten days. However, if you hear thunder from the east, it means winter is over.

Predictions for this winter:

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the U.S. predicts a warm winter for the western states and possibly a colder one for the south.

The Farmer's Almanac, however, disagrees: With its traditionally 80 percent–accurate weather forecasts, The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that this winter will be another arctic blast with above-normal snowfall throughout much of the nation. The extreme weather will continue into Summer 2015, which is expected to be predominantly hot and dry.

The Weather Channel also predicts a colder and snowier winter than normal. They also predict that January will be the harshest of months, so brace yourselves.

Nov 17, 2014

Morphology Monday

morphology ~ study of forms and the development of structures

Wow. Talk about absent minded . . . I completely forgot I was supposed to write this post last night. Must be snow fever. ;-)

Yes, that's right. We've had our first official snow fall of the season. To be official, there has to be at least a couple of inches, and it has to stick. In fact, there's enough out there to scrape off the front porch . . . if I knew where the hubby hid the snow shovels. I think they might be in the garden shed, but he has it packed with such precision that I'm afraid to look.

That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

You gotta love this Canadian weather. Tuesday it was so nice out I went walking on the beach in my trench coat. Today I had to dig my winter boots out so I could clean off the car before going to the gym. I think it's a little milder today though and the snow is starting to melt. The forecast is for rain mixed with snow today, turning to snow later when the temperature begins to drop and then snow the rest of the week.

For those of you keeping track, I hit a real dry spell writing-wise last week. Not only was I a day late with the installment for Earth, I fell about 5500 words behind on my NaNo. I'm slowly starting to catch up though - I'm only about 4000 words behind now. LOL You can read about it on My Writing Journal. Hopefully I'll be posting another update over there later today.

As you may recall, last Monday I was only about 500 words behind and I tempted fate by pointing that out. I may have strained something patting myself on the back.

I did not get the baby booties done in time for my daughter's shower on Sunday - for some reason the pattern is pretty much incomprehensible to me. But I did get the bonnet done and the set looks pretty cute, if I do say so myself. :-D

Last night I started on a new set for the shower I'm throwing for her in two weeks, but I'm keeping mum about it for now because it's something a little different and I don't want to take the chance of her accidently finding out about it. But in any case, for those crafters reading this, I learned a new crochet stitch - a single double. It's used for decreasing when you're working in single crochet. Fun stuff.

Trust me, if this works out it'll be very cute. If it doesn't . . . well, there's always Walmart. LOL

This week I want to not only catch up on my NaNo words, I want to try writing ahead a bit. I'm throwing a baby shower for my daughter the last weekend in November, so I'm not going to be able to pull my typical all nighter (or two) to put on that burst of words.

What was I thinking??

Nov 12, 2014

Of Lack of Ideas and Having Fun . . .

So here I sit, trying to come up with a topic for today's Wildcard post . . .

I had a great idea last night as I was falling asleep, but of course I didn't wake up enough to write it down and all I remember about it was it was something to do with time. Something really witty, I'm sure. :-)

And then I was thinking of posting something witty - you know, give everyone a much needed hump day laugh. But honestly? I'm not feeling in a very witty mood these days. So then I thought maybe I should post about that - being clinically depressed or suffering from SAD (season affective disorder) is bad enough, but having both at the same time is . . . difficult.

But while I'm sure I could write a nice long blog about the signs of depression and what you can do to combat them, that would be . . . well, depressing. So where does that leave us? With a quiz! LOL

Oh, c'mon. It's been a long time since I've posted a quiz or two.

Hey! It's either that or the long whiny post about being depressed. Your choice.

That's what I thought. ;-)

First we have a quiz that asks Deep Down, Who Are You?

You Are a Poet
You are sensitive and expressive. You feel very deeply, and the smallest things in this world can move you.
You may feel misunderstood by the world at times, so you make sure to understand yourself well at least. You are very reflective.

You are a wordsmith, and you know how to get your thoughts out on paper. You are very eloquent and even witty.
For you, the written word is very cathartic. You always feel better after writing or even just reading a bit.

Next we have one that asks What Kind of Healthy Are You?

You Are Physically Healthy
You treat your body well, and you do your best to make sure you are a top performance. You take your physical health seriously.
It's likely that you know as much about exercise as a personal trainer and as much about eating well as a nutritionist.

You always feel better when you know you're taking care of yourself. You like to be empowered and proactive.
You know that you can't control your health completely, but you do what you can to make sure you're as healthy as possible.

And finally ('cause as much fun as I'm having doing this, I still have a pile of writing to do today) we have What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence
You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convincing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

Now admit it, didn't you have fun? If you want to share the fun, you can always tell us your results from any or all of the quizzes in the comments. Go ahead, it won't hurt a bit. :-D

Nov 10, 2014

Machairodont Monday

machairodont ~ sabre-toothed

Baby it's cold outside!

How cold is it? Cold enough that I've transitioned to my winter coats. Bye, bye, unlined jean jacket; hello ski jacket.

Saturday the daughter and I were up in Peterborough (about half an hour north or here) and we drove through a bona fide snow storm. It started out as rain mixed with snow, but by the time we reached Fabricland it was just snow. Nice big, fat, fluffy flakes that brought a smile to my face.

Yes, that's right. I like winter, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I've always preferred the cold to the heat, and I love walking through the snow. Of course I don't love the shoveling of the snow, but who does?

And yes, you may remind me that I said I like winter sometime in March when it seems like winter is never going to end. :-)

As of the typing of this post (which is late Sunday night) I'm only about 500 words behind on NaNo. This is almost unheard of, in my experience. Normally I'm off to a good start, fall behind, catch up, fall behind, fall further behind, and put on a big burst of words at the very end. This year I've been pretty consistent *knock wood*.

If you want to follow my NaNo progress, check out My Writing Journal. You can also get to it by clicking on the tab at the top of the page. It's not really a new blog, I just revamped my Current Projects. I gave it a bit of a face lift while I was at it and I'm hoping I have better luck keeping it up.

I finished crocheting the pink sweater I've been working on for my future granddaughter. Now I just have to do the booties and bonnet to match - by Sunday, which is when her first baby shower is.

She's getting two showers because she is blessed with a large number of friends and families, and we live in small houses. Which means there's no way we can fit everyone into one house at the same time. So her best friend is throwing the shower for her friends, and I'm throwing the one for family. And now that we've had the first snowfall I need to cross my fingers that the weather's good for it so the out-of-towners can make it.

I finally got my office sanitized, shoveled out, cleaned up yesterday - one of those things I've been putting off for ages. Starting today I'm actually going to try making use of it.

I still have a couple of stacks of boxes to deal with - I need to go through them, label them, and then consign them to inside the bench of the nook. And once that's done I need to organize my bookcases. Nothing too extreme, but I'd like to get all my unread books in one bookcase.

Cross your fingers for me. I have a feeling I'm going to need it to find places for all my stuff. :-D

Nov 7, 2014

What I'm Reading

Reading? Are you kidding me? Who has time to read during National Novel Writing Month?

But I didn't want to just skip Friday altogether, so I decided to entertain you with a little poetry. You can thank me later. LOL

So what brought this on, you might ask? Wednesday I participated in the annual Poet in the Classroom at one of our local highschools. That's not really what it's called, that's just what I call it. One of the teachers has a class called Writer's Craft, and when he comes to the section where he's teaching his students poetry, he gets in touch with a few of us local poets and we visit his class and try and impress his students with how great poetry is.

This year, the school wasn't offering the Writer's Craft class, so instead we spoke with just regular English students. We normally do a bit of a workshop with them, but since they weren't even learning poetry at this juncture, our leader poet (I don't know what else you'd call him) presented a seminar on Haiku, and we broke up into groups to write some.

Do I really need to explain Haiku to you? Japanese in origin, no rhyme, 17 syllables? *sigh* Tell you what. If you really don't know what it is and want to learn all about it, I'd advise you to visit the Shadow Poetry site, which has the most well written explanation I've seen yet.

Anyway, not being one to turn down a challenge, I wrote a few Haiku myself, just to show the kids how easy it was.

Dark clouds scudding fast -
weak winter sun under siege
until spring returns.

Nothing left inside
autumn winds sweep words away -
silence in its wake.

A midnight moonscape
trees tucked under their snow quilt -
mother nature sleeps.

Dandelion head
reflected in the night sky
mirror of the moon.

And there you have it. Four Haiku, just for you, fresh off the pen. :-)

Nov 5, 2014

On Backing Up . . .

I know I've done a post about this in the past, but I've had two friends who've recently lost significant amounts of their work due to computer malfunctions, which wouldn't have been quite the disasters they were if they'd been in the habit of BACKING THEIR WORK UP.

This is called a flash drive or USB key or USB stick. A rose by any other name . . . but it's really an author's best friend:

Once upon a time they were expensive as all get out. In fact, I remember paying $80 for a flash drive that holds 4 GB of data. At the time it seemed like quite a bargain, but now that kind of expense kind of makes me cringe. These days you can get the same thing for under $10 or even 16 GB for under $20.

I think you'd be hard pressed to find one that holds less than 2 GB of data. Do you know how many books are in 2 Gigabytes? According to SearchStorage, 1 Gigabyte holds "a pickup truck filled with books." However, Whatabyte believes you can fit 10 yards of books on a shelf in 1 Gigabyte. In other words, there's more than enough room on one flash drive for your work.

And they come in a wide variety of styles - different colours, shapes, your favourite cartoon character . . . there's something for everyone. So there's no excuse for not having at least one.

I’m a big fan of backing things up. And by things I mean your documents. It breaks my heart every time I read/hear about someone who’s lost that precious story or even the next best-selling novel because their computer crashed or got stolen, or there was a fire or flood, or the apocalypse happened - like spilling a cup of coffee on your lap top.

You never know when disaster will strike. So I tell you all now, BACK IT UP!

But wait! Get back here. Don’t go backing up yet, I have more to say.

Be organized when you back your work up.

*cue puzzled murmuring*

Let me tell you a story.

*waits for heartfelt groans to die down*

I’ll try and keep it short.


Okay, maybe not really. But you need to hear this. So quit belly-aching and just read.

One weekend I decided it was time to get rid of some of the saved documents I had sitting around on my desktop waiting to be backed up. So I pulled out my trusty USB key that I use to back up my documents on to and couldn’t help but notice there were a lot of folders on that key. These folders had names like: short term 1, short term 2, miscellaneous 1, miscellaneous 2, current stuff 1, current stuff 2 . . . I think you get the idea.

Upon looking into these folders I realized that while I was pretty good at backing my documents up, I was pretty bad about doing it in an organized fashion. What I typically did was create a folder on the USB key and then just copy everything (and by everything I mean all my documents, whether I’d changed anything or not) from my laptop into the new folder on the key and called it done. This is called laziness(in case you were wondering). The problem with this method is that it left me with multiple copies of the same document and I don’t know which is the one I’ve been working on. Did I mention I have five USB keys and four of them have all got stuff saved to them in this fashion? And it gets better.

Once I realized what a mess my USB keys were in (originally I had one key for my writing, one for business stuff, and one for other stuff, and two spares, but somewhere along the way I’d stopped being organized and just started saving stuff to whichever key I found first), I realized some organization was called for. And while I was in an organizational mood, I figured this was a good time to get all my files (that I’d saved way back in the stone age) off my box full of 3 ½ inch floppy disks (anyone remember floppy disks? Bonus points if you remember the real floppy disks, the 5 ¼ inch ones). And again, my writing files were all mixed in with research, graphics and html pages.

SO . . . I had one USB key that was still empty so I spent a couple of hours one Saturday copying files from the floppies onto the key. And guess what? These files are all disorganized too. Now I have five USB keys full of files that I need to get organized so that I know what should be saved, what should be chucked, and what should be worked on.

The moral of the story, kiddies, is: Save your work and back it up on a regular basis, but do so in an organized fashion!

Now pardon me while I go back my USB keys up onto a DVD. You know, just in case. :-)

Nov 3, 2014

Moneyocracy Monday

moneyocracy ~ government by the monied classes

Anyone else as happy as I am that October is over with?

October was not kind to me. And last week was probably the unkindest of all. I had great hopes for the last week of October, finishing my two drafts, a little pre-NaNo planning, cleaning up my office . . .

While I did finally get Lucky Dog finished, it took until yesterday. Funny how quickly the words came once the calendar changed months. ;-)

But I still didn't even get so much as a chapter ahead in Earth. In fact, I was late with last week's chapter. I got none of the research or pre-planning for my NaNo done. And my office looks even worse than it did because I did some picking up in the livingroom yesterday and a lot of the stuff ended up on my desk.

So because I was determined to finish at least one of my drafts before starting NaNo, I had a zero word count for the first day. I did pretty well yesterday - another couple of days like that and I'll be caught up. But right now the website is telling me at the rate I'm writing I'll be finished NaNo in January. LOL

But November is a new month and it's going to be a better month, right? Right? RIGHT?? Just lie to me and agree or I'll never shut up. :-)

With the changing of the month came the changing of the clocks. Spring forward, Fall back. The time change always confuses me. It confused the cats as well who couldn't figure out why I was still lounging in bed yesterday morning when I should have been up feeding them.

It also heralded a change in the weather. As in the cold is here to stay. Some parts of Ontario got snow as their Halloween treat. We didn't, but it was certainly cold enough for it. I was out on Saturday and glad I was travelling by car because my coat just wasn't up to the challenge of walking. Time to break out the winter gear.

I made a lasagna for Sunday dinner, from scratch. I have to admit I was trying to be all impressive, but I forgot how much work it is. I used to always make my lasagnas from scratch, and then discovered how much easier and cheaper it was to buy them frozen. On the other hand, it's worth the work. Nothing tastes better than home made lasagna.

This week will be all about getting the things done I was supposed to finish in October, or at least give it the old college try. It will also be about finding my balance - writing with everything else I have going on.

So cross your fingers for me. I have a feeling I'm going to need it. :-D