Friday, May 29, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - Pimp My Camelid Edition

This enterprising gentleman took advantage of a long, slow lineup to make a bit of cash.
He dressed up his alpaca in all its camelid finery and worked his way through more than 1,500 people, offering to take a picture of them posing with his very fuzzy companion.
We were waiting to be tendered back to our cruise ship, but the waters were rough and the tenders could only have riders inside, not on the upper, open deck.
It was hot and still where we were and we had no place to go. He had a captive, and somewhat restive, audience. I didn't take him up on his offer, but neither did he make the offer to me. Walked right by in fact.
I expect he made out okay.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I believe I caught someone's soul in flight.

Click to make bigger and see.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Twogether on Tuesday

A pair of tree swallows check out the neighborhood.

I got down to some serious reading this past week. Not in the heavy subjects sense of the word, I mean I took the pastime of reading seriously.
I’ve let it lag these past few years. My eyes bothered me, I spent a great deal of time on the Internet (not like, those two are, like, related or anything) and time sped up and got filled in.
Last week I decided I’d had it with the excuses. I have many books on my to read list and I keep collecting more. The Town is hosting a week-long freecycle event. Books by the boxful are waiting, playful and anxious as a new kitten, to be taken to a new home to be loved and cherished. I’ve been twice already and the event goes until the 30th.

I finished two books I had going and am most of the way through a third. It’s a Zane Grey guns’n’moonshine book as old as I am.
I love it. Wonderful description, zipping story, and dialogue tags few would dare use today like “he ejaculated excitedly.”

For Twofer Tuesday from Zane Grey’s The Arizona Clan, (Pocket Books, Simon and Schuster Canada, 1966. Originally published by Harper & Row, 1958) I offer these two sentences and a bonus in which Dodge Mercer is introduced to the local moonshine, Arizona White Mule:

“A terrific shock, a vitriolic burn, a sudden blindness assailed him simultaneously. A torturing fire seemed to move slowly down inside and to explode. The impact of searing bullets had done less to him.”

As for mine, here’s something from A Fly on the Wall:

“Mrs. Ingetuckle certainly has her own way of expressing herself. What has she got against Norse vegetables?”
“I think she likes the way the words sound. And the image of a Viking eating a salad. She entertains easily.”

For more, or to find out how to participate, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Summer Guests Edition

A tree swallow checks out potential new digs.

Spring is a wonderful time of year. Many of the birds we see in spring and summer have arrived for the season. Trees are a-twitter, the morning sun gets a cheerful greeting, and the world is alive.
A pair of tree swallows has nested close by every year since we moved in to the house in 1995. In past years they've checked out the bird condo out front and beaked around the bird box on our back porch.
Their call is happy and perks me up. Their colouring is beautiful and glints in the sun.
For the past few days the swallow couple has been coming to the box quite frequently. They might move in this year. I hope so and I'd been pleased if they did. I'd love to have them even though it's only for a short while.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Photo-Finish Friday --In The Forest

I spent some quiet time alone in the Magellan Forest Preserve, Chile. The hike was a bit much for me so I rested on a walking platform while the others made the climb to the top.
They fought 60 mile an hour winds at the top to get to a view point. I was relatively sheltered and had a chance to make friends with the trees.
It was a good day.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What We've Got

Some days it's important to sit back, relax, and look down the road at what we've got.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Visitor

Sedation is good.

Sedation is a wonderful thing. I’m all for it. I was sedated a few times during the course of my heart operation last week as opposed to being given a general anesthetic. I slept through most of it though I did awake to experience a few of the highlights. The effects stuck around a while so when I experienced the following guest at my bedside in the recovery room I simply accepted it with little critical thought.

Within an hour of being wheeled back to recovery a woman came to see me. Middle-aged, roundish of build, brown hair and I think brown eyes, wore glasses, and had on a surgical mask. She told me the mask was because she was cleaning beds after patients left and was allergic to the cleaning products. She sat down on the left side of the bed, where there was no chair, and looked at what I presume was my chart.

"I'm March, you're November.* Girlfriend, WHAT are you DOING here?"
So I explained.

We had some more conversation that really doesn't stick with me.
Then she stood up to leave: "Next time, we'll meet on the street. Or in a bar."
I said, "Okay. We'll meet on the street and go to a bar."

She laughed and turned to leave, walked to the curtain (my curtains were drawn for privacy) turned around and blew me a kiss.
I think she preceded it with " Until next time" or "Until we meet again."
Then I went to sleep.

It felt like the X-Files episode “One Breath” where Scully is in the hospital and gets visited by an angel in the form of Nurse G. Owens.
My special visitor looked somewhat like Nicola Cavendish, the actress who played said nurse.

If it was an hallucination, then it was more detailed than any of the regular hallucinations I get from the beta blockers I take. Those come in the night and involved being covered up, which panics me, assorted shapes in the room, and my clock radio not looking right. On one stellar occasion the clock offered me a scrolling newsfeed rather than the time.

Someone cleaning the beds had no reason to come visit me. I was within 10 feet of a fully-staffed nurse's station and I wonder why someone would take that chance. If it was a staffer, then it was a weird-ass psycho lovebitch and I am creeped out beyond all measure.

I am sure it was an angel. A spirit being would know to come to me in a recognizable form, and one that I would accept.
Appearing as a cherub or with wings and a halo would scare me or make me laugh.

It felt beyond this worldish. I am sure it was a member of the angelic realm and I am tickled silly about my special visitor.

*reference is to birthdays

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Much Snow Tuesday

The snow hit yesterday and it meant business. We usually have a snowstorm at or near the May long weekend. I sure hope this is it until, say, next month.

Twofer Tuesday again and I can’t say as I got much writing done. Not a lot of leisure reading either, though I managed a bit on the deck the other day before the snow hit.
More from Delusions of Grandma by Carrie Fisher (Simon & Schuster, 1994): “Once during this whole episode Ray gave her a bath. That really got to her.”

I did string a few sentences together, so here they be.
From A Fly on the Wall:
“The two women conferred in the hallway. Neither wanted to take the chance of being overheard by the hamster.”
For more, or to find out how to participate, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Gratitude Monday – Relaxation Edition

David Thompson Highway at Preacher's Point. Photo is unrelated to post, but is relaxing.

Hypnosis is a wonderful tool when done properly. I studied it 13 years ago and am reasonably adequate at it. I’m pleased and grateful to say that I am really good at self-hypnosis.
This comes in very handy when I have to do something that makes me shudder. I used it to remain calm during laser eye surgery, to relax my body so I wouldn’t gag during dental work, and last week I used it so I could handle getting my throat sprayed.

I had a Transesophageal Echocardiogram prior to my catheter ablation. The TEE involves sending a tiny camera down the throat to sneak a look behind the heart in case there are any nasty clots hiding.

The TEE proper is easy. I was sedated for it and only became aware at the very end when the camera was being removed.
The problem is getting my throat sprayed to make it numb so the camera can slip down to do its work.
The first time I had one of these done it took six shots and involved plenty of gagging.
Because I knew what to expect this time, I knew how to get past it. I suggested I’d remain calm and relax and not gag. I said it would only take one shot. They gave me three simply because that’s what they do, but the first one was easy.

I had to say “aaah” for the next two. This increased the difficulty.
Spray is administered while the patient is lying down on his or her left side. The spray attachment is put toward the back of the tongue. Making the tongue work for this made me want to choke, but I was so relaxed from my hypnosis suggestions it all went well.

I am grateful for that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Out for a Bit

A very pretty bluebird on the Kootenay Plains.

The lights will be dimmed here for a few days. I've left this perky fellow on the post in charge of things.
He'll be watching closely.
It'll likely be Monday before anything fresh shows up.
Talk amongst yourselves.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Twosday Sampler

It’s twofer Tuesday again and I’m pleased to have another post entry for it.

What I read this week was from Delusions of Grandma by Carrie Fisher (Simon & Schuster, 1994)

“All I can say is that dogs and infants rarely lie. Of course, this could also be because they can’t speak.”

And my contribution to the cause this week comes from my current WIP: A Fly on the Wall.

By way of background, Mrs. Inge Tuckle and Mrs. Dotty Phlebos have discovered the recording unit in the mirror. They realize they are being watched. I’m cheating by throwing in a few more sentences for clarity:

“Are you sure? By whom? Is it the government? Don’t they have better things to do? We’re not that exciting. If it is the government, then let’s bore them to tears. I’ll get my knitting.”
Dotty Phlebos reached over to her purse once more and withdrew a sweater and some very long needles.
“Ha! Purl this, bastards.”

For more entries or to find out how to participate, please see the Women of Mystery.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gratitude Monday - Brought To You By Bacon

The bacon I cooked for the batch of beans.

I love bacon. I am grateful for bacon. Bacon makes my day. I don’t eat swine-based bacon so much any more simply because after a few meals of it I feel too greasy. I still love the real stuff, but I’m more likely to eat beef, bison, or turkey bacon. Similar taste, especially the turkey variety, and not as much fat. In a way that’s too bad because fat bacon is so very tasty.
Since the Swine Flu snorted its way through the population we who think have had to put up with a great deal of nonsense, especially the head-shaking announcement from the WHO the other day.
Some gentlefellow suggested that even cooked pork might transmit the disease. Thanks buddy.
That said, improperly cooked meat can make a person sick, and if you’re eating improperly cooked pork, then H1N1 will be a freaking day at the beach compared with what else it will give you.
Sorry. Got carried away. Stupidity does that to me. It was retracted the next day, but the damage was done.
I got so irked that as a gesture of protest I made a batch of beans from scratch the other day. I used a recipe from The Bag Lady that’s so good it will move you to tears, and I doubled the amount of bacon called for in it.
The hog industry had taken a beating for various reasons over the years and this is one more blow.
We raised hogs for a few years when I was young and I rather enjoyed their company. Hogs are fine creatures, smart, personable, tasty.
Hog famers are decent folk who work hard and provide food for our tables. They have enough to put up with; they don’t need fear-mongering and nonsense.
Thank you farmers and thank you hogs.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Photo-Finish Friday --What the End of the World Looks Like at Sunset

Looking south to the end of the world.

Our ship had left the Falkland Islands a few hours earlier on its way to Argentina. It was sunset and cold and beautiful in the way that comes from the starkness of being alone in the great vastness of sea and sky no matter how many others are with you.
The ship, its guests, and crew ceased to exist for me as I looked over the edge of the world.
For as acutely as I felt how small one human is on the planet I was equally exquisitely aware that we are all small, and we all belong here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stuff My Characters Taught Me

Writing novels is getting to be quite the eye-opener for me. I was never sure I could sustain an idea for tens of thousands of words. So far I’ve got two in the first draft stage and a third with more than 16,000 words that I started on April 15. I am having the time of my life with it.
I belong to a wonderful writing site, Absolute Write, and I’ve learned a great deal there from warning signs for lousy publishers and agents to how to write a book proposal to just plain how to write.
What comes up often is how characters reveal themselves to the author. This used to throw me. Before I had two hints to rub together to spark a clue I thought that the author came up with the character and took it from there. Then I read about characters suddenly announcing all manner of interesting things to a tickled, if bemused, creator.
I didn’t understand. Then it happened to me.

This is what characters do. They are their own people. I am just their creator and frankly, there’s not much I can do once I’ve breathed life into them. They get what they want or they punish me.
In my first manuscript I had two characters mostly sorted out until they decided that their species are sex shifters.
Then halfway through the book another character walked out of the bush. It’s the same species, but pre-pubescent and therefore neither male nor female. This was news to me.

I thought I had most things figured out for the second book until one of my characters announced she was a lesbian. At first I tried to talk her out of it because I had no clue how to go about writing about her. She wasn’t having any of it. She is who she is and good for her. It’s better for the story that way. She also likes to wear her boots without socks. I tried that for about an hour. I don’t share the joy of it.

I wrote the second manuscript to take my mind off the first. Just before I finished it I got the idea for the third ms so I got going on it. The characters didn’t say too much to me initially. I had some ideas on my own and wrote them, but that was about it.
Then I made the classic error. I wondered why they weren’t revealing anything. The next thing I knew a kindly old lady in a funny hat announced she had five university degrees and an IQ of 147. Her degrees are in a branch of advanced mathematics, Environmental Psychology, and Cryptozoology. She hasn’t told me about the other two yet. I complain that I won’t be able to write about her properly. She laughs at me.

If nothing else writing books is a wonderful lesson. I’ve learned about sustaining ideas and punting things that don’t work no matter how much I’ve put in to them. I have learned my subconscious will direct me and to put my complete faith in my Muse, Marie-Josee.

And I’ve got to say it, I am having a blast.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mountains Make It Better

Taken near Saskatchewan River Crossing on the Banff-Jasper Parkway just inside Banff National Park. Click, enlarge, enjoy.

I find mountains calming. They have a grounding energy and a quiet, graceful deliberateness that counteracts all the rushing about, worry, stress, and silly need for constant contact we have in our world today.

Give me a lonesome day in the fresh air surrounded by trees and a mountain to sit with and I am happy.

What about you? What brings you peace?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Twosday in Bloom

Two prairie anemones in bloom in our front yard two days ago. The green blades are garlic.

Tuesday is rapidly becoming my favorite day. Years ago a psychic fellow told me that Tuesday would “always be my best day” with the message ostensibly coming from my late mother.Whether it did or not is moot, the fact is I get to inflict my latest creations on an innocent world on Tuesdays and that makes me happy.

The rules of the game are put up two sentences that you’ve read and two that you’ve written.

What I read:

Two enlightening sentences about how the heart works from Understanding Electrophysiology Studies from The StayWell Company, copyright 1995, 1999, 2001.
“Too many signals make the heart beat very fast (tachycardia). Or signals may be sent so rapidly and irregularly that the heart muscle sometimes quivers and doesn’t beat at all (fibrillation). (Bolding theirs.)

My two sentences:

“Mrs. Inge Tuckle didn’t pay much attention to the latest upgrades in technology unless it had something to do with her. It rarely did.”

Many, many thanks to the Women of Mystery for the Two Sentence Tuesdays.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Gratitude Monday – Flat on the Flats Edition

We went for drive out west the other day. It was a beautiful Saturday. We cobbled together some lunch, filled a water jug, and went on our merry way on a 70 mile drive toward a spot out west called Ram Falls.

But we never arrived.

We were about 40 miles or so out driving through a lovely area through which Radiance Creek flows. Horses grazed on the east side of the road, but far enough away to be unconcerned by our trespass on their day.

I’d never seen horses there and have no idea if they’re tame ones left to pasture or transplants from a herd that roams free in Ya-Ha-Tinda 60 or so miles to the south.
We were enjoying the day. We pulled into a fish pond, a reclaimed gravel pit, for a pit stop when we saw we had a flat tire.
It was fresh, still hissing. We could see it deflate before our very eyes.

So my husband reinflated it enough to get us back to the approach where it was dry and then changed the tire. We went straight back to town.
It was still a good drive. It was a lovely day and really quite pleasant.
I’m glad he was there to do the work and I’m glad there was little traffic.
And if you must have a flat tire, is there a better spot?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Photo Finish Friday - A Rock and a Pretty Place

I loved the textured look of this huge rock on the hillside in the mountains out west.
Some day I'd like climb closer to it for more intimate shots of it. It looks like a lovely spot to sit and contemplate the scenery.