Wednesday, February 28, 2007

With Progress and Fortune Cookies You Can't Go Wrong...Sometimes

Today was a late day. Hubby and I are still battling the bug (or whatever it is) we picked up recently. We rose late after staying up late last night reading. Despite having arisen so very late, there was actually progress made on Writing Project #1.

With an editor's hate carefully ensconced upon my head, I went through the pages of WP#1 and did some careful editing. I must admit, I was pleased with the result. The story is tighter and the word count has gone up. It hasn't gone up considerably from yesterday, but it has gone up and the story is moving from point to (possible) point with precision, if not always gracefully.

After taking a break for a late supper of Chinese delivery, I felt accomplished when I reached for my fortune cookie. After eating part of said cookie I looked at my fortune and burst into a wide, happy smile.

It said:

Through greater effort and hard work, a precious dream comes true.

Yeah, I needed that after today.

Current total words for WP#1: 23,319
Words since yesterday: 299

There will be more words later on tonight with another word-count, hopefully, tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book review.

Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter was a so-so read I am sad to say. It sounded as if it would be a really good read according to the back of the book cover:

In a time and place not too far away, Mia Snow is an alien huntress for the New Chicago Police Department. Heading up her expert team of Alien Investigation and Removal Agents, Mia's unmatched at battling the elusive enemy among us, and she's the perfect girl for the job. She's seen hr brother die at the hands of aliens. She's earned each of her scars. And she'll die before she cries. Now, a series of killings have Mia and her partner Dallas tracking alien suspects -- but a sudden blast of violence leaves Dallas fighting for his life.

The chance to save Dallas appears in the form of a tall, erotic stranger. An alien. A murder suspect. Kyrin en Arr, of the deadly Arcadian species, holds the power to heal the injured agent but not without a price. For Mia Snow, that price is surrendering to Kyrin's forbidden seduction...and embracing their electric attraction. She's walking a knife's edge, risking her badge and even her life. The closer she gets to Kyrin, the more Mia learns about her own heart, her human needs -- and the shocking secret that will shatter everything she's ever believed.

The most amazing character was Kyrin en Arr. He was handsomely described and often as "soft velvet over steel" which made me sit up and take notice. However, Mia Snow was a two dimensional Dirty Harriette and was such a hard ass character I simply could not get behind her. Even when she "softened" after many fights with Kyrin (literal fights) and her lineage was revealed (she is half Arcadian herself, and human) she wasn't much of a person to get behind. Quite honestly, I had to make myself finish this book. Why? Because I need to get back into reading and even crap must be finished before you should move on to the next novel or story to read.

As for how the words were put together -- they were put together well, just not exceptionally so. The characters, as long as it wasn't our main character, were good and interesting -- except for Mia Snow. And the plot, well, I figured out what was probably going to happen by the end of the first chapter. It was somewhat predictable.

A friend of mine says she likes "happy endings" in her books. This book has a happy ending all in all, but getting there was a struggle, and as for action, well, there wasn't really. The seduction scenes were well done however, as well as the obligatory love-making scene, but little else was done well in my humble opinion.

Gena Showalter is, according to several, a wonderful writer. It seems I have picked up the lesser of her best to try her out. Out of five stars I give it a two.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Friends arrive strangely....

I had a friend once. We'll call her CountryNurse. We went to college together and were the best of friends. I knew all of her secrets, and she knew mine. She passed away quite suddenly three years ago. This year, 2007, on October 31st, it will be four years. Her husband told me a few days after her funeral because he didn't know how to get in touch with me. Since CountryNurse's passing I vowed I would never let anyone in that close again. I have Hubby, I told myself in my grief, so I didn't and wouldn't need anyone else.

Over these past few years I have worked quite hard to keep people at a distance. I made sure to only listen to them and never share any of my problems. I relied on myself, my priest, my priest's wife, hubby, and my sisters to help get me through as much as I could possibly share with them. However, there are some things you cannot share with family; they are things you can only share with friends.

Slowly, as I grew older and found a path through all that time of grieving -- and there were a lot of people and pets to grieve for at that time -- slowly I began to realize just how much my sisters could be my friends. I learned that, even though I kept other people at a distance, I was always searching for one or two women I could just let myself go with and be a girl and have one of those relationships as close as possible to what me and CountryNurse used to share. I guess I was in denial I needed another woman to talk to, a woman who wouldn't freak out if I mentioned something a little off-color perhaps or when I lost my temper because Hubby was being such a boy, or understood when I said, "I feel fat today."

Well, one has slipped in on me, possibly two. One I know for sure. Oddly enough she is trying to become a nurse. She is filled with laughter and smiles and she has a wonderful heart. We'll call her Sniffles (because she reminds me of the cute little mouse on cartoons of not-too-long ago).

Technically I am old enough to be her mother. Yet she makes me laugh and it isn't hard at all to say, "Today I feel fat" or "This is a chocolate day" or even "Tea?" Her life isn't perfect and she doesn't expect it to be, but she hopes it will get better than all of the stress she is currently under from holding down a job and going to school full time. She sees a path she would like to take and is working towards it, and just living life as best she can as problems arise and adventures present themselves. She is indeed a hopeful creature.

Lately I've been telling myself it is because Sniffles is so hopeful that I am turning more toward hope than I have in the past few years. The truth is, life is finally settling into some strange sort of groove I can follow, even with all of the bumps and twists and turns. I have Hubby to go on the journey with, and I have And I have family. Family that wants me to come and visit and is elated when they discover some changes they have made in their home would make it easier for me to visit.

And there are telephone calls! Calls from sisters! Calls from Hubby! Calls from friends! Voices excited or just voices checking in - it really doesn't matter, because even this is some form of the journey of the groove.

I'm not going to say I'm happy, because I'm not really sure what happiness is any more, but I can say I am...content. Content in that good sort of way where the storms feel as if they can be weathered and there is love helping to hold us in the right groove. I am content being the person I am while working toward the place I want to be. I am content, at last, to have friends again.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

DVRs, Video Games, and Knitting Needles

I have been a very bad blogger of late haven't I. Yes, I know. It hasn't been because I have been too busy or that I haven't been able to hold my head up because of sickness. It has been because of a serious lack of energy. I understand why the "lack of energy" thing happened, so, currently, am taking steps to correct this. No, it isn't life-threatening or anything like that.

What have I been doing, then? Well, I have been recording things on the DVR to watch later and sit in the living room with dear Hubby and knit while he is playing his video games. Since he has finished Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic he has been trying to find another game to finish. Now he is working on a game calledNew Legends. When he stopped playing it before he wasn't that far from the end, so he figured he would finish it. While he has been doing this I have, of course, been knitting.

The baby blanket isn't finished because I have taken some time out to work on a pair of leg warmers for myself. I love wearing skirts and need something to keep my legs warm, so am making leg warmers for myself. Out of real wool. They are warm in making them and I am sure they will be warm when wearing them on my legs. When the leg warmers are completed I will return my attention back to the baby blanket, and then I am seriously thinking about finding more patterns for lace projects, hopefully easy ones.

Speaking of knitting, I have found a book on-line that talks about making yarn from dog hair. Any type of dog hair as far as I can tell. This makes me think about getting a spindle and working on making my own yarn using my girl's hair. If not that, I may try and find some place to get some "un-worked" wool, only wool that has been cleaned and perhaps brushed, and then dye it into this idea of a purple I have and spin it into thread and make something for myself. It is always best to try and make something for yourself first because you can correct things for projects later on down the road.

Wow, according to a friend I just may well be "a textile artist" - it's strange to think of knitting as an art form. How did that happen?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"I put my beliefs into this film.... Everything."

Tonight Hubby and I were finally able to see the last Jet Li wushu film - Fearless because of a late Christmas present to Hubby.
I am not sure what I expected in seeing this film. What I received was a gift of great quality. The fight scenes were spectacular and, according to the bonus features, they were real. They had to be in order to keep the movie as authentic as possible. "Real" is a relative term, I understand, when discussing movies, after all, they are just pretend, but when it comes to true martial arts movies the actors/fighters end up taking a lot of punishment by taking many of the blows. The weapons were real, and quite sharp in Fearless. He used people who had been studying martial arts and weapons forms for years and they went through everything very carefully so no one would get killed because of a stupid mistake. It was pretty real after all.
Jet Li said in an interview section of the DVD we have that he put everything that was "Jet Li" into this film because this was his philosophy about martial arts, about life and it was pretty much like his journey. He said he had been training in fighting all of his life and he finally understood his own worst enemy was himself. He had to be better, do better each day. "I try to do better than yesterday today, and tomorrow I try to do better than today," he said at one point.
And his philosophy of martial arts? That "you can beat up a person's body, but you aren't going to change their heart." Martial arts is there to improve your body, mind, and spirit. So, the better fighter you are should make you a better peacemaker, because you know what all can happen, and how horrible some of the results can be.
This, indeed, was a wonderful movie to view, and I plan on seeing it again just to relish the scenes, music, and the words in self-discovery the main character goes through.
If you haven't seen it. See it. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Beginning of Lent - Forgiveness Sunday

Today is officially the beginning of Lent for us Orthodox Christians. To start things off with we have the "Forgiveness Service" right after vespers. Today neither Hubby nor I made it. I'm sure he could have, but when we both looked up at the clock it was 5:45 PM and the service actually began at 6:00, which was not enough time for him to get from here to there.

At the "Forgiveness Service" the priest asks each and every one of us in attendance for our forgiveness just in case he has offended us or something. The petitioner says, "Forgive me sister (or brother, depending)" and the reply is "God forgives." Then you are the petitioner and ask the other person for forgiveness, which is a most humbling thing. You finish with a "kiss of peace" which is a kiss on each cheek. A line forms as you move along. It is one of the more beautiful of services I have ever experienced in my life. It is humbling in a way that fills your heart with joy, and definitely not pride. I am sorry I did not go, but it was for the best with the snow on the ramp.

With Lent beginning there are all kinds of services. Monday is usually Compline, Wednesday is mid-week service and liturgy; Friday is the Akathist service; and Saturday is Vespers with Sunday being Liturgy. I don't always go to each and every service, but this year I am going to try my best and go to Wednesday services and as many of the Akathist services as possible.

It feels strange for Lent to be here. It is fairly early this year it feels, and we are going to be having Pascha/Easter with the rest of the world. It happens every three years or something like that I believe.

Wow. Lent is here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Baby blanket progress

Here is a picture of the baby blanket I am currently working on. I find it quite pretty and really soft to work with. There will be a picture of the finished project when it is...well...finished.
Not feeling so well today. My head is all dizzy and my tummy doesn't fell all that wonderful. Hopefully I am not coming down with something.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day and more!

It is Valentine's Day and Hubby and I are having one of the more quieter ones this year. It seems we are both tired of "celebrating" with Christmas, Christmas, his birthday and other little smaller ditties in the middle this February 14th has found us quite content to be together and let the celebrating happen all year long instead of cramming it into one mere day. This is the plan at least. I believe it is a good plan.

However, according to something a friend of mine sent me, in Japan, the women are the ones who give out chocolate and the men reciprocate (sometimes) on White Day! Click and read, I find it most interesting.

I hope everyone out there is having a wonderful Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stretching myself and men knitting.

Since I have begun knitting I am being more adventuresome than I otherwise would be in the realm of the knitting itself as well as elsewhere. Can knitting help you overcome some of your fears? I believe so.

Sitting quietly in a room with much going on - or equally nothing happening at all - there is a peace that surrounds you as you knit. Sometimes the needles click against each other and it becomes a beautiful sound. It is almost a sign that God is in Heaven and all is as right with the world as it can possibly be.

When I was younger I didn't understand why or how my mother could sit so quietly for hours sewing. I have fallen asleep many times seeing the needle in her hand catch the light and glisten like something almost alive, or better yet, magical. I've seen her thimble upon her middle finger poised to push the needle through some difficult cloth and hear her humming softly, or singing one of the many songs she knew from church or from before, taught to her by her grandmother which went all the way back to who knows where. I couldn't understand then because life was so new and everything was out there for me to discover. Life itself felt as if it was throbbing in my veins. With all of this happening, how could she sit there so quietly for hours and sew like she did? Now I understand a little more I think. I hope.

Although I have not done everything I have ever wanted to do I can now settle into my own living room and accept I probably never will. It doesn't mean I don't want to do those things still, but am more ready to admit the time for trying to learn to ski has indeed passed me by because my body isn't what it was. Yes, I am only 45, but I have had 45 years of constant pain and I am just glad to be alive at this point. Instead of adventure I want peace and love and a roof over my head and food in my belly. Instead of wanting clubs and fast cars I seem to want, and appreciate smaller things like ink, fountain pens, yarn and needles to work the yarn with. It is good life is moving forward, but it is also good to realize I do not have to move as fast as it does. It is OK to be a little slower - you see more that way.

In being slower in the eyes of the world, I can turn my time to things that are different and challenging, at least for me. One of the things I am going to eventually attempt in my knitting world is lace. Victorian Lace Today intrigued me this Sunday. I saw patterns in there I can remember seeing my grandmother wear. Sadly I never saw her make them. Still, seeing the patterns of shawls and scarves and table cloths so delicate they looked as if a spider had spun them made me want to do them. It made me want to create something so very beautiful I could hand down to children in my family with pride.

Pride and accomplishment. Those are the things that matter to be in my hobbies now, not just being on the latest trend. I want the things I do now to be valued and valuable, not just to me, but to someone else. And, sadly, it is slowly beginning to occur to me that some of these handcrafts I have taken for granted are in short supply, even knitting.

"No one does this any more, and it would be a shame to let something so beautiful and pure go by the wayside." This was a comment made in a blog I read recently of a man who took up knitting. He did it to help calm his nerves during the passing process of his wife. Now he knits because he enjoys it and his wife would be proud of him continuing on the tradition because, as he explained later on, she taught him how.

Always before I have had gender issues where the knitting realm was concerned. Women knitted. Men did other things. As I am now discovering, men have knitted for centuries, just different things. The women have knitted the socks and delicates and the men have knit scarves and socks, and garters, and other things. It wasn't unusual for a seaman in the late 1800s take needles and yarn with him to finish up some socks or repair things he was wearing. Socks were precious items for warmth and since his wife or daughter, sister or mother, had made them for him they were cherished. Can you imagine that? Cherished.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Learning a new process.

Hubby is off work for the moment. The novel(s), however, are not. They still must be written. So, today I thought through the day and its hours and came up with a working schedule for writing, typing, and doing many other things to aid Hubby in discovering a new place of employment. It can be done! I was amazed, mostly because I have become quite used to having my daylight hours to myself to work and do as I needed to do while giving him the hours when he was home from work.

Normally this change would make me quite sad and irritated. This time I am embracing what is occurring and still managing to do the writing and everything else that is needed to continue forward with a day as well as be his support and helper.

Could it be, possibly, I have grown up just a little more than last year? Could it be I am settling into life again after feeling outside of it for so very long? I hope so, because I am enjoying this feeling of newer confidence.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Valentine's Day Approaches

Much to my surprise, Valentine's Day is almost here. Wednesday will see Valentine's Day firmly upon us and this household has a good question running around inside the fair damsel's head wondering what the heck she is going to do for the handsome prince on such a fine day as Valentine's Day. The fair damsel is open to suggestions, especially suggestions that don't require very much money.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Still Cold

It is still cold here in Lexington, KY.


According to it is 26*F. Twenty six. If it was just 40*F our water wouldn't be frozen in the bathroom and we wouldn't have to take pan baths and use lots of alcohol. Twenty-six degrees.

At least we don't have almost 100 inches of snow like New York does!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Knitting Accomplsihments

Here is a nice picture of the fingerless mitts I was able to finish last night. I did it in a double rib and just a little larger for ease of putting them on and off when my hands were tired and so very, very achy. I am quite proud of them. Now that I have discovered how to make them it is just about a "weekend" project, meaning two days' worth of knitting and there they are - ready to wear and keep the hands warm.
This is another set I did. Actually it is the very first set of fingerless mitts.
purple fingerless mitts
They were a little harder to put on than the colorful ones, but they kept my hands wonderfully warm. The sad part is that they were supposed to be made for a friend's sister who works in a very cold office. Since they were so tight, even for my tiny hands, I decided to make her another pair in the purple, which I did, and then kept these and made myself a brighter pair.
I am seriously considering I will use the purple ones for every day and the bright colored ones for when I am out. There should be some positive color in the coldness of winter.

Harumphhhh! Decisions!

I am sitting here just after Midnight. It is cold outside and is somewhat chilly inside. My feet feel like ice to me, but there is little else I can do about that. I should go to bed but that would mean moving. No, not lazy exactly - moving would just mean my joints would also have to move and that would mean pain. I don't want pain right now, but the thought of being under the covers is a wonderful thing indeed, especially with the dogs curled up on each side of me and warming my normally cold appendages. Decisions!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Slow returns and happy moments.

The company has finally left and the house feels strangely quiet. It feels empty. Everything will now begin to return back to the normal I am accustomed to of just me and Hubby and the animals; of me writing and reading and getting worlds built up and written about as well as just being the normal, every day housewife, of sorts. The late celebrations of Christmas are now completely over. In the midst of the Christmas celebrations it has snowed and we have celebrated my loving Hubby's birthday. Yes, we have been busy. Now the busy-ness is going to begin to slow down and then change gears and pick up steam as the rest of the world slowly begins to push its way back into our lives. It just feels odd. It almost feels like a vacation because I am tired from all of the fun and laughter as well as relaxed by it. It isn't something that should really surprise me, but it does.

Now I look around me at all of the writing that needs to be done, the resumes to send out, the query letters, and the short stories to be placed into proper format as well as poems to be written and submitted and it feels like Work. I am fully glad this is not my job but my chosen profession. (A job merely pays the bills.) Actually, it almost makes me feel overwhelmed by it in the most happy and quiet comforting of ways.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Found something new and wanted to share.

While I was trying to find something to do today while my darling Hubby played X-Box and actually relaxed for the first Saturday in ages, I stumbled upon something that everyone has probably gotten bored of, but it is new to me - radio.

The mix I have had today is a wonderful mixture of old and new music. Many I can sing along with, and some that just make me want to dance. If you haven't listened to it before, give it a try and tell me what you think. I believe you will like it.

"Don't Cha" by the Pussycat Dolls was followed by Elvis, David Bowie and then Savage Garden came on with "Truly, Madly, Deeply" and I was hooked. Yeah, it read my mind, or my heart, or something. I think I am going to be listen to it more in the up-coming days.

Friday, February 02, 2007

For the record...

...this is my blog with ideas and things I come up with or am interested in. The piece about the "red Fridays" has drawn some very interesting and quite negative responses. I do not appreciate being called the names I was given from the comments, therefore the comments have been deleted from public view.

It is not my intention to purposely offend anyone with anything I say here or write anywhere else. However, it is also no secret I do not support the war itself, but I do support the troops - they are Americans and they are doing a job no one in their right minds should ever be asked to do, but they are doing it for love of country and, quite honestly, a job. They have a lot on their plates and it is not my intention to ever make their job and task seem frivolous or demeaned. I have the utmost respect for the soldiers over there now (actually any soldier) and those who have made it back alive or dead. If I can show one single soldier support through this little blog then I consider it a wonderful task as this is the only way I can support anyone so many miles from me.

And no, I don't just appreciate and respect the soldiers via the Internet - each and every time I see a soldier in uniform, male or female, I make a point of welcoming them home and telling them thank you with a handshake. Each time I have done this the soldier has smiled and brightened just a little. This entire nation is NOT filled with assholes who do a lot of talking but little action.

For those of you who do not find this blog offensive, I thank you heartily from the depths of my heart for reading. For those of you who may find this blog offensive - you know, you don't have to read it.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Current War and Remembering

The war in Iraq is still going on. It has not been a quick one. I didn't believe it would. It was just a feeling. This still means American lives are being lost and American people are being called to be heroes every day. With hearing of the war so much in the news you almost start to feel de-sensitised to it all.

Today I received one of those "forwarded" emails about passing things along and it made me sit here at the computer and cry. For the life of me I can't figure out why, or at least, I couldn't, until I could just sit for a moment and think about it. I cried because I mourned and I respected what had been lost - an American soldier.

Here is the complete forwarded email. I really do hope some of you copy it and pass it along, and start wearing something red on Fridays, even if it is just a pen or a scarf, or something, even an American flag.

MessageFriends, Pass this along and make sure you read to the end about wearing red.

As passed along: Last week, while traveling to Chicago on business, I noticed a Marine sergeant traveling with a folded flag, but did not put two and two together. After we boarded our flight, I turned to the sergeant, who'd been invited to sit in First Class (across from me), and inquired if he was heading home.No, he responded.Heading out, I asked?

No. I'm escorting a soldier home.

Going to pick him up?

No. He is with me right now. He was killed in Iraq. I'm taking him home to his family.

The realization of what he had been asked to do hit me like a punch to the gut. It was an honor for him. He told me that, although he didn't know the soldier, he had delivered the news of his passing to the soldier's family and felt as if he knew them after many conversations in so few days. I turned back to him, extended my hand, and said, Thank you. Thank you for doing what you do so my family and I can do what we do. Upon landing in Chicago the pilot stopped short of the gate and made the following announcement over the intercom."Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to note that we have had the honor of having Sergeant Steeley of the United States Marine Corps join us on this flight. He is escorting a fallen comrade back home to his family. I ask that you please remain in your seats when we open the forward door to allow Sergeant Steeley to deplane and receive his fellow soldier. We will then turn off the seat belt sign."

Without a sound, all went as requested. I noticed the sergeant saluting the casket as it was brought off the plane, and his action made me realize that I am proud to be an American.

So here's a public Thank You to our military Men and Women for what you do so we can live the way we do.signed: Stuart Margel -- Washington, D.C. Also, here are two very touching photos honored at this years International Picture of the Year.

First Place

First Place

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

When 2nd Lt. James Cathey's body arrived at the Reno Airport, Marines climbed into the cargo hold of the plane and draped the flag over his casket as passengers watched the family gather on the tarmac.

During the arrival of another Marine's casket last year at Denver International Airport, Major Steve Beck described the scene as so powerful: "See the people in the windows? They sat right there in the plane, watching those Marines. You gotta wonder what's going through their minds, knowing that they're on the plane that brought him home," he said. "They will remember being on that plane for the rest of their lives. They're going to remember bringing that Marine home. And they should."

Second Place

Second Place

Todd Heisler The Rocky Mountain News

The night before the burial of her husband's body, Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking to sleep next to his body for the last time. The Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets below the flag. Before she fell asleep, she opened her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted them to continue standing watch as she slept. "I think it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it," she said. "I think that's what he would have wanted."


"No arsenal, no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women." -- Ronald Reagan

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Red Fridays.

Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority." We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or overbearing. Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of America supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -- and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will wear something red.

By word of mouth, press, TV, let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like ahomecoming football game in the bleachers. If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, coworkers, friends, and family, it will not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once "silent" majority is on their side more than ever, certainly more than the media lets on.

The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is ..."We need your support and your prayers." Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example, and wear something red every Friday.