Friday, October 31, 2014

Game Of Thrones Redux





Love this interview segment with George R. R. Martin. His giggle is infectious, and his love of his written material is apparent every time you engage him about it. Every single time.

I have met George a couple of times at Worldcons -- the science fiction and fantasy uber-conventions that are held every year in a different location around the globe.  Every conversation with him has been a delight, and filled with little nuggets about the craft of writing and the joy that he takes in putting his worlds together.

In 2002, I interviewed George for 3SF magazine.  He was just as wonderful on the phone as he is in person, and we both mutually agreed that Tyrion may be the best character he has ever done.

So fun to hear his giggle with Amy Poehler all over again.  Sometimes, you just hear something that takes you right back.  Enjoy!

(On that note, I really need to get to a science fiction and fantasy convention again.  Am missing that milieu like crazy after watching this!)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Change for the Chilly



























First frost of the season on the car windshield, and a lot of gratitude for the seat warmers on the way over to school drop-off this morning.  Winter is coming, whether we are ready for it or not.

Mercifully, we managed to get some more birdseed and get the feeders filled up this weekend.  The cupboard has been fairly bare for the birdies, and one of the cardinal regulars has been voicing his displeasure outside the sun room windows all week. 

It isn't that I loathe winter.  I actually love it when the snow falls and blankets the town and we are forced to stay in our cozy house, with blankets and cocoa and games and good movies aplenty.  But last winter was long, so very long, and it seems like it just ended and we are already headed for another one.

Doesn't it?

This year is whipping by so quickly, it feels as though I've just blinked and gone from January to close to November in a flash.  Whatever the cause, I need to restock our snow day closet with some crafty goodness. 

Whether I am ready for it or not, the chill in the air and this morning's frosty glitter on the fallen leaves was a good reminder that the season is about to change for the chilly again.

(Photo via Moose Winans.  Love the detail in this shot!)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Falling Forward





















It is that time of year when the leaves have turned past their peak color, and the trees are rapidly shedding their colorful cloaks in favor of the bare branches of winter.  There are still spots of brilliance on the hillsides around town, but they are becoming more sparse as the days wend their way forward to the ice and snow days to come.

This year, more than any other in recent memory, I am feeling adrift. 

Almost as though I were a leaf floating free from the tree, billowing back and forth and buffeted by the wind, not knowing where the ultimate landing spot will be.  All I know is that doing the same things, day in and day out, is dragging me down and wearing me out.  What I need is a new goal to meet and overcome, something that challenges me to do better, be better.

But what?

Whether this is an effect of coming out of the throes of cancer treatment or some larger metaphysical, internal debate, I do not know.  What I do know is that this sort of floating dissatisfaction often leads to a radical change from the inside out.

The question this time is in what form this one will take hold.

It isn't enough to do the same things, day in and day out.  At least it isn't enough any longer.  Based on this itching level of dissatisfaction and chafing at my day to day routines, I am feeling the need to stretch and grow.

What that means is anyone's guess at this point, but it does make for interesting internal times trying to figure it out, doesn't it?  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

In My Life





Bette Midler, with Jake Shimabukuro on the ukelele, singing "In My Life."  Just beautiful.

UPDATE:  Ella gained her angel wings a little before noon today.  Much love to her whole family.

Little Ella, the four-year-old girl I mentioned in a prior post, is losing her fight.  Please continue to keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as they struggle to say goodbye.   Someone asked me via email how they can help, so here's the answer:  The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical and other expenses.

Let this be a reminder to hold your loved ones tight, for they are precious and fragile and our lives are fleeting.  Seize the day today, live with passion and purpose and all the courage you can muster, for you never know when your candle may be blown out.

These are lessons that I learned a while ago from Amy, but it is worth a reminder again of how important it is to live, every single day, with everything you have to give.

Let's start from where we left off:

1) Never go to bed without your spouse knowing how much you love them. Losing Amy was really hard, but knowing that her husband had no doubt in his mind about how solid their love was? Made it ever so slightly easier.

2) Who cares what size you wear, when everyone is really looking at how amazing your heart and mind are.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Good Thoughts and Prayers Needed





















Yesterday, the granddaughter of a friend of ours -- someone with whom my husband has worked for close to 20 years -- was struck by a car on the way to her school bus stop, while walking with her mother and two younger siblings who were in a stroller.

It is tragic beyond description, and the little girl -- who is only 4 years of age -- had to be pulled out from underneath the car that struck her.  We are all in shock and just devastated for the family.

Please say a prayer or send some good thoughts their way.  The little girl is currently in the ICU and we are all pulling for a miracle.

(Photo via Xerones.)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Falling For Fall



























This weekend marked the true beginning of Fall at our house.  The living room fireplace has officially been lit for the first time this season, and hot tea and cozy blankets have become a staple.

It is officially warm soup and hot cider season at our house.

This past week, we trimmed back the rose bushes, paring back the overgrown canes of summer to keep them from snapping under the weight of ice and snow as winter quickly approaches.  The effect of this trim has been very fun for Sheldon the kitty:  he can now peer downward at the delicious morsels from the highest platform on his kitty perch in front of the sun room windows.  He is up there right now, chattering happily away at a fat dove on the feeder and a flock of fluffed out sparrows in the rose bushes below.

The light this time of year is so beautiful, golden and tilted so that the rays slant at just the right angle to illuminate everything with a hint of perfection.  We have had some rain, and the trees are looking full and ready to pop into a million brilliant hues all at once.

The leaves are calling to me to take a walk today in the open air, drinking in Fall's perfection, and saving up the color for the drab days of winter.  How can I resist?

(Photo via Nick Kenrick.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Fitting Another Piece In The Puzzle



















The slog continues.  Trying to do too much with too little in personal energy reserve, I think.  Sleeping for more than 10 hours last night might be a clue.

How do you find a better balance, though, when life is rushing by you at such a high rate of speed?  It isn't easy.

Today will be spent coming up with a better plan: for the house, for getting school work finished, for getting other things done that are longer term projects, for making time for some family fun where we can...all of it is important, but how do we better get things done without running ourselves into the ground with exhaustion?  That's a question that needs to be answered and soon.

More routine, less wasted time may very well be the answer.  But it sounds a little too much like a regimented Martha Stewart lifestyle, and much less creative and carefree than I might like.  It is what it is, right?

Fitting all the pieces together into a coherent whole in this puzzle is a challenge.  But one I am going to master before this year is out.

(Photo via droetker0912.)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Of Ravens and Writing Desks





























Having refilled all of the bird feeders yesterday, the birdies are a happy group at our house this morning.  Including a pair of ravens that dropped by to check out what might have been spilled out onto the ground below the new giant feeder.  To get to see a pair of ravens up close was awfully fun, even if it did send Sheldon the kitty into a frenzy because he could not get out to the giant morsels.

Those ravens would have had him for lunch, but hope springs eternal in kitty minds, I suppose.

What is needed here today is a bit of the reset button being pushed:  some straightening, some planning, some work finally getting finished that has needed doing for a while.  At the end of the day, I'd like a bit of a feeling of accomplishment if that is at all possible on a few tasks that I've put off finishing long enough.

At some point this week, my goal is to sit down and work on some fiction.  I've had a book idea bubbling up in my head for weeks now and it needs to begin to spew out onto the page.  

Illustration above is the Mad Hatter and the dormouse from Alice in Wonderland, as illustrated by the brilliant Sir John Tenniel.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Connecting With Your Child Face To Face Is Important






















Elle magazine has a chilling profile of the Skyler Neese murder that happened in Morgantown, WV, a couple of years ago.  It ought to be required reading for every parent in the United States.

Because what comes across so strongly in this piece is not just a Morgantown tragedy writ large, it is a cultural disconnect that we are creating in the distance we have with our kids as we all sit in a room ostensibly together, but in our own separate bubbles connected solely to our own, individual electronic devices outside of the real world.  That disconnect from reality that this sort of constant "plugged-in" mindset can foster is chilling in this profile, which is why it ought to be a must read for every parent out there.

We can't wrap our kids up in cellophane and keep them away from technology, but we can try to understand their lives a little better and reach out personally more often. This is a good reminder to do just that.

A few days ago, I saw this photograph of a delicate origami crane made of tissue paper and loved it.  But I could not figure out a post to use it until now.  Our children are also fragile, delicate creatures in so many ways, and we shape them with everything we do.  They can be awfully resilient under horrible circumstances sometimes, and snap back even when bent to the brink by tragedy or challenges beyond their control.  But all too often, they snap and fall apart.

So what makes one child resilient while another crumbles far too easily?

I wish I knew the answers on that because we are headed toward the teenage years far too quickly.  What I do know is that some behavior and internal fortitude is the stuff we are born with, while the shaping of us is done through a lot of learned behavioral response a lot of which is picked up inside their own family life.

The thing that I learned when I was doing criminal law day in and day out is this: empathy and an internal moral compass are not innate.  They are learned behaviors.

A child may have an instinct to protect or nurture, but it can be beaten out of them under horrible circumstances in an abusive home environment.  Likewise, you can grow up in a horrible home, but if just one person tells you that they believe in you, that you can choose to do the right thing...and that faith in your own ability to choose "good" sticks?  That can make all the difference in the world.

We have got to do a better job at connecting one on one, in a personal and face to face way, with all of our kids. It is so important. There really is no substitute for it. We also have to make sure we are teaching them to think about the feelings of others, to reach out to help others in need, because that isn't necessarily just something they will "pick up" from someone else.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Ugh



















It has been one of those weeks.  We have been running nonstop, and I haven't been getting enough sleep or rest.  Had some testing done on Thursday -- which came back looking really good -- and then went to a football game Thursday evening.

Woke up Friday feeling lousy, and spent most of yesterday sleeping and running a high fever.  Still fighting back the fever today.

It is definitely a liquids and tissues kind of day for me today.  And I'm sensing a date with a bottle of nyquil for later in the evening.  Hope your weekend is better than this.

(Photo via Chris Costes.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

That Hint Of Fall



















We awoke to a crisp, foggy morning, with the unmistakable feel of Fall in the air.  The sun has yet to burn through the mist, so the birds are wending their way through the hazy chill to our feeders in little dribs and drabs this morning.

There are so many things that need to be done today.  But the chill in the air makes me feel like curling up under a blanket and hibernating.

I have put on my cozy Ugg boots and a heavy sweatshirt in an effort to stave off turning on the heat.  It isn't quite time, yet, but this morning I can really feel that winter is coming.

Today will be spent catching up on laundry and schoolwork, for I am behind on both, with a dash of getting things clean and set back up again for the week ahead.

This school year, it feels like every day is a race to see if I can make it to the end of the week with anything left in my tank.  So far, the answer to that is no.  My doctor told me that the back end of chemo and radiation, especially treatment that came so closely together like mine had to do, may take several years for my exhaustion to ease.  The mental clarity is coming back, but the physical recovery from the breast cancer treatment is lagging.  Not certain what, if anything, can be done about this except to grit my teeth and keep trying to move forward.

Today feels like a good day for some hot cider.  First time I've been able to say that in months.  It really is starting to feel like Fall.

(Photo via Pete.)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Kitty Giggles





Because this morning, I woke up and needed a giggle. I thought everyone else could use one, too.

This kitty is too cute!  Enjoy!