Sunday, November 30, 2014

...and on into my least favorite time of year...

I really hate Christmas.  Not the event behind the holiday, but the holiday itself.  It quit being fun sometime around the point I hit high school--seems to be too much work for little to no fun.  If I could, I'd skip the whole shebang. 

I hate decorating.  It's a mess, and it disrupts the kids' routines, which causes really terrible behavior.  It's pretty for maybe the first day or so, and then it just gets...tired. 

I hate spending time with my family.  I think if you combine two of my aunts' IQ with that of the only uncle left, you might reach room temperature.  And they're closed-minded, to boot: I've been told that I'm wrong because I work outside the home, and that I'm going to hell because I'm not a member of their splinter of a splinter of a splinter of a legitimate denomination of Christianity, and because the kids were baptized as babies. 

I hate the timing.  It's a stressful enough time of the year with the end of semester around two weeks before hand. 

I hate spending money on gifts for people I hold in highest contempt.  I don't like spending money on gifts, period, but having to spend money on people I despise tends to spoil what enjoyment I have in giving the kids things that I know they'll love. 

I hate the music.  It started at the beginning of November, in some stores.  It'll be everywhere, now that Thanksgiving is over.  I have one CD I really like: one of the Christmas albums put out by Frank Sinatra, long, long ago, and the music itself is ruining my enjoyment of the man's voice.  I think the worst part is all of the stupid, secular music.  Maybe I just need to find my Handel's Messiah CD...

I hate all the trappings of the holiday. 

The trappings detract from the reality behind the mess: that the holiday is supposed to remind us of Who was born, supposedly at this time, if you listen to the Church, and ignore the Biblical evidence to the contrary. 

Advent has become more special to me as a meditative period since I had the kids.  Even though both children were born early, I can identify with Mary during her last month of pregnancy: the anticipation; the anxiety, both about birth and about taking care of something so very small and helpless; the weariness that accompanies the last part of pregnancy...and for Mary, knowing that her Child is just that much more special than most.  My children are very dear to me, and I worry and fret over them.  I can only imagine how much magnified that must have been for Mary. 

The holiday isn't the food.  It isn't spending time with family.  It isn't the gifts.  It isn't the music. 

All of that takes peoples' attention off of what it is: the great gift of God's own Son sent to us.

And on this first Sunday of Advent, I find myself despising the holiday that we have even more than usual, and find my thoughts drifting toward Mary, and wondering just how much I had in common with her in my thoughts and feelings during the last months of my pregnancies...and feeling sorrow for how her story ended up, and how much grief the end of her Son brought her.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I am.  Very.  I'm thankful for a lot of things.

I'm thankful for a roof over my head that is paid for except for the yearly expenses in taxes, insurance, and maintenance.  It's a small house, but it's warm, and we can heat and cool it without breaking the bank.  A lot of people don't have that much.

I'm thankful for my pantry.  I have enough that I can wing a Thanksgiving dinner for myself and my family (since my mother and sister are sick).  I'm thankful for that, and for the fact that there's enough in the pantry to get us through quite a few lean times. 

I'm thankful for my friends.  I don't have many, but then again, the ones I have are spectacular. 

I'm thankful for my children.  It's not been easy, the process of turning them from self-centered, unthinking, walking lumps of cuteness to thinking, semi-considerate, walking, talking bits of cuteness, but we've made it this far, and we're still working.  Yes, it would have been easier to just leave them be and let them do what they want, just as it would have been easier and cheaper to put them in public school...but it wouldn't have been the right thing to do, and I love them both far too much to half-ass things. 

I'm thankful for my other half.  Without his support, nothing in my life would have been possible--not my education, not my home, not my pantry, not my friends.  Nothing.    I thank God for him every day.

I am also thankful to have been born in the United States of America.  Without that, there's no telling what my life would have been like. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

random ramblings

Well, two of our friends tied the knot, today.  The pixie was the perfect little flower girl: flinging the artificial petals here, there, and everywhere more gracefully than any not-quite-four year old girl should.  And speaking of that, she did it in heels.  Not terribly high heels, but still.  And she chose the shoes. 

And, after their parts were done, the kids exhibited exemplary behavior.  They behaved, during the service, as well as the adults did. 

Other children attending didn't behave so well.

We have rewarded them for their spectacularly good behavior with cookies and new coloring books.  I'm incredibly proud of both of them. 

Cricket, our black and white cat, just discovered the pixie's shoes.  She's acting scared to death of them.  Just like she is of hairbrushes.

I've collected papers, and have half of them graded.  Yes, this is the last paper for the semester.  No, it's not the last of their work--I have them blogging, now.  500 word posts, due Tuesday and Thursday nights.  

Writing...still behind on that.  I've got some done long-hand, but not a whole lot.

Tomorrow, we have our first round of Thanksgiving visits, to Odysseus's parents.  I've been asked to provide a batch of chocolate peanut butter chip cookies, which will be made tonight after supper, with Odysseus's help. 

And Monday, it's back to class.  Tuesday is the last day of classes for the week for both the imp and Odysseus.  And Thursday, we'll be going to my mother's for Thanksgiving dinner. 

After that, I'll have some breathing room.  And the following week--the first week of December--is the last week of classes altogether for the semester.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stil here...

I'm just a bit overloaded with everything going on, right now.  Odysseus, the pixie, and I are all sick; I have end-of-semester grading between now and the end of semester, which is the first Friday in December; a couple of friends of ours are getting married this weekend, and the pixie and imp will be flower girl and ring-bearer, respectively; and we will be going to our first of two Thanksgivings on Sunday. 

So, for the time being, blogging, writing, (and if I'm to be honest, housework) and everything else that isn't grading, child-minding, or getting ready for the weekend has been put on hold.  I'll be back when I can--hopefully with commentary on the goings-on in the world, because I'm hoping to get a memory upgrade on my laptop that will permit me to surf the news sites again without the computer crashing. 

Monday, November 17, 2014


I was twelve or so when I first realized that there was something wrong with my grandma.  I'd gone to town with her to help her load groceries into the car.  We were on our way into town, and somebody whipped out onto the road Grandma was on, and cut us off.  Grandma laid on the brakes, and laid on the horn, then rolled down the window and stuck her arm out to the shoulder, making gestures I couldn't see from where I was sitting (but I had my suspicions), and using words I didn't think she knew. 

That was the start of it. 

My grandma had Alzheimer's.  She spent the next twenty years in decline.  By the time I was in high school, she was paranoid, threatening violence on all of the adults (but my sister and I were exempt), and forgetting things.  My grandma, who read almost as much as I did, slowly quit reading as she gradually lost the ability.  My grandma, who loved music and played complex pieces on both piano and organ by ear because she never learned to read music, lost her ability to play...although, that was one of the last things to go. 

By the end, she was unable to speak, unable to eat, and unable to move herself. 

And through all of that, my mother and aunts kept her home. 

I will admit that I quit visiting.  It hurt too much.  The grandma I knew and loved had been gone for a long time, but her husk still sat there, confusion in her eyes, and unable to understand what was going on around her, recognize any of her daughters, or remember why we cared that she didn't remember us. 

When I was small, Grandma would spend one day a week doing laundry.  In the utility room, there was a wood cook stove, and in the winter, she'd fire it up, and make bread while she was doing laundry.  I'd come in, half frozen from reading outside because Mom had booted me out to go play, and the room off the garage would be so warm and toasty...and Grandma would see how frozen I was and would get a small pan, put milk in it, put it on top of the stove, and make cocoa from scratch.  The secret to it was a dab of butter--real butter--dropped in after the milk was hot, but before she added the cocoa powder and sugar.  And she'd slice off some of that fresh, hot bread, and put butter and cinnamon sugar on it, and we'd eat that with the homemade cocoa, while the dryer was humming, between loads of ironing. 

This is the woman that was taken from me, long before she actually died.  

For a while, she remembered what she used to be capable of.  For a while, she was terrified...and bitter.  But there came a time when even that was gone.

My husband never met my grandma.  Not really.  By the time he came into the picture, my grandma was losing the ability to speak.  She wasn't the person who'd grown a full acre of garden and canned a bedroom-sized pantry full of vegetables and fruit every year.  She wasn't the person who played concertos by ear, wasn't the person who baked bread and cookies, and made the best roasts and chicken and dumplings.  By the time my husband came into the picture, my grandmother was a woman who was beginning to forget what she'd lost. 

My son never met her at all--she died two weeks after he came home from the hospital, two weeks before the doctor had said I could take him places. 

It's not like he could have really met her, anyway.  Not like she'd have understood that the baby she would have been looking at was her great grandson.

By the time she passed, it was almost a relief.  Closure.  I had grieved her loss for almost ten years before she was finally, truly gone.  Because the grandmother I'd known as a child had been gone for a long time before her body gave up.

She's been gone for almost six years, now.  She died the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2008.

I really hate Alzheimer's.  Were it not for that, I'd have had my grandmother, who I loved dearly, in my life for a full ten years longer than I did.

Because Alzheimer's had taken her from herself--and taken her from the rest of us--long before it took her life..  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

Today isn't just Veterans' Day.

With the quality of history education today, many don't know that, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1818 ended the first World War--a war that devoured the best part of an entire generation of young men.  Britain lost around a million men, most of those from England herself; France lost 1.3 million; Russia, on the side of the allies, lost between 1.7 and 2.25 million.  Our losses, coming in as late as we did, were inconsequential in comparison.  In total, the allies lost around six million years.  The Central powers--the other side of the war--lost around four million. 

WWI broke out in late July of 1914: these young men were lost in just under four and a half years.  

(Just for a bit of perspective, we and our allies have lost just under 10,000 men in the thirteen year War on Terror begun by our enemies on September 11, 2001.)

WWI was the first time chemical weapons, in all of their horror, were used on the battlefield.

Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
That particular poet was killed a week before the end of that pointless war, one that was begun by an anarchist shooting an archduke, immersing all of Europe into a war that none of the nations really wanted, but were forced into by a web of back-room treaties that obliged them to take the actions taken. 

And when it was all over, everything was blamed on Germany in the treaty of Versailles, setting the stage for the Nazi party's ascent to power, and WWII.

When you wear your poppies today, remember those brave young men who were doomed by an inept central command, even as you shake the hands of living veterans and thank them for having served. 

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Happy Veteran's Day

I do my best, every day, to shake hands with every veteran I bump into, look into their eyes, and thank them quietly and sincerely for their service. 

I do not reserve it for any one day.  And I'm running into more and more who are not only wearing the veterans' ball caps, but proclaiming that their service was in Vietnam--something that most of them used to try their best to hide. 

I think, for the most part, my fellow Americans are repudiating the old attitude toward veterans--and all I can say is that it's about time. 

I'll have another post scheduled to come up at eleven o'clock in honor of those 10 million men who lost their lives in a pointless war in the early part of the 20th century. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014


We've got some family issues going on right now.  The kids are fine, we're fine...but my father in law is in desperate need of prayer. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

random ramblings

I really don't have much to say, this week, and not much energy to say it.  I've still got the migraine, although much reduced. 

Odysseus got the kids the third season of Scooby-Doo on DVD, last night, and they watched that last night while eating pizza (the imp) and chicken nuggets, grapes, and cheese (the pixie), while I was laying in bed hoping for some of the headache to ease. 

The kids are having fun playing, right now.  Unfortunately, they're playing loudly, if behind closed doors. 

The cats have been clingy since I woke up with this migraine yesterday morning.  Cricket is easily startled into running away, and if Shadow isn't sleeping on me, she's curled up nearby. 

Thankfully, the week of classes was fairly easy.  I spent some of the time explaining source citation to my students, and some of the time shooing them off to go do research.  Some of them have everything they need, now, and some had to do the research to discover that their topics wouldn't work too well for a research paper, so that they'd switch which point, they found what they needed, and are ready to write. 

I haven't been able to focus on writing since Thursday.  I'm about 10k words behind where I was hoping to be, by now.  I'll try to write later, if I can get this damn headache to release its grip.

Friday, November 7, 2014

FFOT: migraines

They suck.  That is all. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The only chance a constitutional republic has to survive is for voters to make sure they educate themselves about the issues, and about how the government is supposed to work. 

Judging by the commentary on the budget, on amnesty, and on where money should be cut from the budget, and on taxes...we're doomed.  Because the so-called "smart people" have no fucking clue how things really work.

Writing and listening

When I write, I listen to music.  What I listen to depends on what I'm writing.  I listened to a lot of Within Temptation and Metallica while I wrote the Legends books (Last Pendragon, and Pendragon Resurgent), and those with the addition of Korn and Manowar with the Modern Gods books.  With other stuff sprinkled in that suited the moods of the books. 

Detritus is...resistant to being written while I listen to that music.  I've found that our Amazon Prime membership has been incredibly helpful--I have access to things I don't own, like The Pretty Reckless's Going to Hell, which has fit the character and story perfectly.  Another band that suits is The Rolling Stones, but for that, I'm going to have to order a collection, since I can't afford to either go through and buy the albums with the songs I like, or go through and pick and choose individual songs at the prices they want. 

I've learned I write better and easier when I'm listening to the right music for what I'm working on.  If I don't have music, or don't have the right music, the words just don't want to come.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Little boys...

So, yesterday, about 1:30, I got a call from the private school that the kids go to.  They wanted us to come pick up the imp.  There'd been an incident, and he'd been hurt--he'd fallen off of the step-stool up to the sinks in the bathroom, and had hit his head good and hard.

I certainly hope they've checked the bathroom floor for damage, because he has an incredibly hard head. 

When the imp got home, he was a little dazed, disoriented, and drowsy, and that didn't clear up for about three hours or so, but his eyes looked fine: pupils the same size, the right size for the light in the room, and reacted fine to light changes.  And he wasn't really nauseous. 

Thing is, I've seen this child using the step stools I have set up in the hall bath for the kids to be able to brush their teeth.  He doesn't stand still.  He isn't careful.  To the contrary--he dances around, and hops back and forth between his and his sister's.  I have, in the past, warned him that this behavior will get him hurt.

I suspect that it has, as of yesterday.  The good thing coming out of that is that he was very careful using the step stools last night.  Once he hurts himself doing something I've told him not to do, he usually doesn't do it again. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I like not having cable.

A while back, we cancelled our cable.  We got a Roku box, and hooked it up to make sure it worked, then dropped the cable (which had very little we cared to watch) in favor of Amazon Prime streaming video for TV series and movies, Crackle for movies, and YouTube for music. 

We were really happy with the Roku box for a while--about four months--and then...then, it started having issues.  First, it wouldn't log into the internet.  So, we unplugged it, and tried again.  It worked for a while. 

Now, it's not seeing the internet at all. 

I'm thinking about resetting it to factory specs, and re-entering everything, to see if that fixes the issue, since all of the other fixes aren't working anymore.  If it doesn't...yeah.  I'm thinking it's gonna be skeet. 

And we'll move to the Amazon Fire TV box. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Been a long, miserable evening.

We went to see my mom, today.  It was a fairly good visit, and I helped my sister wash my dog.  She's no longer a stinky little Scotty. 

The pixie and the imp ate huge lunches today--roast, and green beans, and macaroni and cheese--and the pixie stole my roll.  I had no clue things were about to go pear-shaped.

We left fairly early in the afternoon, to try to get the pixie a chance to nap...didn't happen in the car.  Poor thing was coughing like crazy.  She'd been doing that a little since Friday, but nothing like the car ride home.  I got her to take a little Mucinex, and put her to bed, and she slept for about an hour.  And woke up feeling terrible.  Running a fever.

It's just gotten worse--she has nightmares when she's sick.  And she's not slept well at all.  I've just given her a dose of Mucinex and one of ibuprofen. 

I don't think she's going to school tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

random ramblings

Happy All Soul's Day, everyone.  Or All Saint's Day, if you're Catholic. 

Odysseus took the kids trick-or-treating last night.  The imp was an absolutely adorable Captain America, and the pixie was a sweet little Princess Sofia (from Disney's Sofia the First series).  The imp was really good about mostly choosing things that didn't have red food coloring when offered the choice.  When they got home, Odysseus went through his candy, and traded him Kit-Kats (his new favorites) for the stuff that was red, orange, or purple. 

I went through the pixie's candy, and took out the worst of the choking hazards.  Do you know how many years it's been since I'd had Runts candy?  Or Gobstoppers?  Yeah, and I didn't get many of the Runts--I broke them up until they were no longer choking hazards, and fed them to the pixie.  The imp ate the green ones. 

Over the last week, I'd gotten two emails from school: the imp acted inappropriately early on, and the pixie threw a fit over being told it was time to pick up the colored pencils and put them away.  So, it has been a not so good week for the kids, and not so good for us, either.  We're apparently rare in that we discipline the children at home for what they've done at school.  Their teachers appreciate it, but are shocked when we do it. 

To be honest, I'm shocked that it's apparently so rare.  I guess I shouldn't be, but...yeah.  Supporting and reinforcing the teachers strikes me as common sense, though.  At least where private school with their carefully vetted teachers are concerned.  Public schools' brainwashing factory is a bit different.

Any case, the imp's teacher has been sending home the handwriting practice and worksheets he refuses to complete during the class days.  He hates homework, and has been bringing home less and less as he does more at school.

The cats have been extra-squirrelly, this week.  It's resulted in them getting shut in the back room during naptime, most days, and sometimes as soon as the kids go to bed.  Because the fuzzy idiots like to run up and down the hall, flinging each other into walls and doors, and trying to climb door facings.  Usually on the pixie's bedroom door. 

My mother says my dog has completely changed how she behaves in the house, going from rude little bitch to a wonderful little dog that follows Mom around.  I'm honestly not sure if I'll still have a dog in a few years, when we're able to take her back.  She's sort of becoming my mom's dog. 

I picked up papers on Wednesday.  I was planning to grade them a few at a time between Wednesday (got them printed on Wednesday, and organized on Thursday) and next week...and then I was informed that Odysseus had a test coming up in auditing next Thursday.  So, I graded half of them Thursday night, and the other half of them on Friday, during my office hours.  Handed them back on Friday. 

My classes were shocked.  That's the fastest turn-around I've had this semester.

I suppose it's mostly to my advantage--I've got all of November to draft Detritus

I have finished the final edit of Fire and Forge, including moving the text into the CreateSpace template, and going through and making sure it didn't FUBAR the formatting.  I'll probably go through one more time before I get the cover art--probably sometime during Winter Break (I'd say Christmas, but it goes from the second week of December to the second week of January--much more than the Christmas Breaks of elementary and high school).  I'm probably not going to get F&F published until sometime late December, or early January--my cover artist is getting married around Thanksgiving, and doesn't have time to do much between now and then that isn't related to wedding plans and arrangements.