Wednesday, December 4, 2019

My Crystal Ball's a Little Cloudy

Thought for the day: Wise old ladies don't plan too far into the future. [me]


Yep. It's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. I'm telling ya, this group offers better support and lift than the world's most expensive bra. (No pesky underwires, either!) To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

Writing is still taking a back seat right now, but with the end of scheduled chemo and radiation now in sight, if all goes well, maybe I can invite my muse back into my life after the first of the year. We shall see.

In the meantime, I'm gonna vent a little. As I write this, it is Saturday afternoon, and maybe the issue will be resolved prior to the publication of this post on Wednesday, but I'm gonna spit it out anyway.

I firmly believe in writing and posting a review after reading a book, because I KNOW how important that feedback is to writers...  especially the insecure ones. (Which pretty much means ALL of us.) Typically, I post on both Goodreads and Amazon, and to date, I've posted a bazillion of 'em with no problems.

Until now.

For some reason, Amazon has rejected my last four reviews. I tried resolving the problem via email messaging with someone in customer service this past week, but that didn't go well. I ended up getting an email the next day from someone with Amazon in INDIA... saying I needed to have a password-protected account in INDIA... and spend such-and-such amount of money per year on INDIA Amazon before I could post a review.

HUH???

Last time I looked, I've never even BEEN in India. (Musta been some other Susan Swiderski...)

My attempt to respond to that email proved worthless, so I hope to resolve the issue via telephone next week. I mean... what the heck? I'm curious: have any of you encountered the same issue? 'Tis annoying...

At any rate, I'm gonna tell you guys about one of those rejected book reviews, because I think You Beneath Your Skin is well worth promoting. It's the brilliant debut from one of our very own IWSG members, the talented Damyanti Biswas. Not only is her book an eye-opener about the horrors of  acid attacks on women and the dismal living conditions and difficulties for the poverty-stricken children of India, but it's also a thought-provoking story of self-identity and inner strength... and it's beautifully well-written. But wait! That's not all...  All proceeds from book sales are being donated to organizations that help these women and children. We can't all be Mother Teresa, but we can all benefit by becoming aware of the issues that so touched her heart. If you treat yourself to a book this Christmas, I humbly suggest this one.

Now, for this month's question:

Let's play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

I think Snoopy's got the right idea.

To tell the truth, I don't look too far into the future, especially since Smarticus got diagnosed. I'm taking each day as it comes and making the best of it. Besides, I'm getting old enough that I have to seriously consider whether or not it's a waste of money to buy green bananas from the grocery store... (HA! Just kidding on that one. It's perfectly safe to buy green bananas, no matter how old you are. More likely than not, they'll be overripe by the time you get them home, anyway...)

Seriously, if I'm gonna imagine the future me living the writer's dream... it'd be great if a kind-hearted publisher read my books and knocked on my door like The Millionaire used to do on the old TV show. He can keep his money, though. I just want him to fall so in love with my books that he wants to publish and promote the second two books in my trilogy. Heck, if you're gonna dream, might as well dream big, eh? (If he wants to toss some moolah into the deal, I guess that'd be okeydoke, too...)

                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.









Friday, November 29, 2019

Getting Old Ain't All Bad

Thought for the day: Gratitude is an attitude.


Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and for those of you who celebrated it, I hope you had a wonderful day. For those of you in other countries who didn't celebrate by overeating until you were miserable, I hope you had a... lovely Thursday.

Smarticus and I have lots to be grateful for. He finished radiation this week... and he doesn't glow in the dark!... and today's his last chemo infusion for a while. And only one more round of chemo to go (Woo HOO!) before a PET scan will determine how effective it's all been. We're optimistic, and we're grateful that it's gone as well as it has. (And we're still smiling.)

Okay, so here's the third and final guest post I did a few years ago for The Really Real Housewives of America. Again, I'll run it just as it appeared originally. I hope you enjoy it.

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Hi-ya. Me again. Back for my final fling as this week's guest blogger. And today... anything goes! Woo-HOO! So what are we gonna talk about? Something you've all heard about before, I'm sure... those dreaded midlife crises. You know, that time of life when we allegedly go temporarily nuts, and do all sorts of wild and crazy things because we suddenly notice we're (gasp!) getting old.  Driven by desperation, we supposedly do anything and everything we can to prove we're still young... even if it's nothing but a silly delusion.


HOGWASH!!!

I don't think that midlife crisis nonsense amounts to a hill of beans. Granted, my hubby and I sped past the mid-points of our lives a long time ago, but we still haven't experienced any great angst about getting old, or behaved any nuttier than we ever have. Know why? Because, believe it or not, this is actually a great time of life. Exhilarating, even. We truly ARE the captains of our own ships now. If we want to do something, we do it. Well into the post-retirement years, our time is our own, and what we do with it is up to us.

If an old guy wants to buy a convertible sports car, why shouldn't he? That doesn't have a thing to do with being in crisis. Doggone it, he worked hard all of his life, raised his family, and now, he can finally afford to treat himself to some of the things he's always wanted. We seniors can indulge ourselves by fulfilling some of our delayed wants, the things we put off all of those years when raising our families, and our careers often took top priority. If an old gal wants to dye her hair purple, why the heck not? Maybe it's her favorite color. If an old guy leaves his longtime wife to run off with a twenty-something bimbo, that doesn't mean he's having a mid-life crisis, either. All that means is he's an ass, and probably always has been.

There's actually a lot of good things to say about getting older. Like we generally have the confidence to stand for more convictions, and the moxie to fall for less malarkey. We may still be competitive, but we also realize being kind is much more important than being right. We've learned it isn't very smart to test the depth of the water with both feet, and we understand that the true art of conversation isn't just about saying the right thing. Sometimes, it means keeping our mouths shut when it's oh-so-tempting to deliver a verbal shot.

You may have heard this quote before. It's been sent to me many times, but without attribution, so I don't know who initiated it, but it's worth sharing: Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, "WOW! What a ride!"

That's our plan. To enjoy the ride as long as it lasts, and to carpe the hell out of each diem. Don't make a big deal out of getting old; just enjoy it. My body parts may be getting old, I may take more pills every day than I ever imagined possible, and the pain under my boob may turn out to be a bum knee, but I'm determined to stay young at heart and in attitude. Is that being sassy? Could be, but I refuse to let aging get me down. (For one thing, it's too damned hard to get back up again!) Be assured, ladies, that no matter how old you are, you can still have the body of a 21-year old, if that's what you want. But (Bada-boom!) you may have to buy him a few drinks first...

In closing, I'm gonna make a blatant plug for a book called Old Broads Waxing Poetic, a compilation of poetry from some very talented ladies. (And me.) Best thing about it? All proceeds go to CARE International, a fantastic organization, so none of us will ever see a penny of it. If you're interested, you can find it on Amazon.


Isn't that cover awesome? The image Forever Young is courtesy of a very generous Italian artist named Francesco Romoli, who immediately agreed to let me use it... for free... when I contacted him.

In closing, I'd like to share one of my poems from that book with you. It's called Ode to Old Age.

I found a hair there under my chin,
And I yanked that sucker out,
But wouldn't you know, the very  next day,
Two more began to sprout.
I don't know what's happening;
It's a perplexing change of pace,
My arms and legs are going bald,
But I've gotta shave my face.

It's such a rotten travesty;
My tummy once was flat.
But now my hourglass is mostly ass,
And my waist has turned to fat.
My body's slowly sagging,
And I don't look so hot;
If a man wants to ogle my bosom now,
I'm afraid he'll have to squat.

But that's okay, 'cause I'm still here,
Of life I'm still a part.
So what if when I bend or stretch,
I leak a little fart?
I've lots of life and love in store,
Though I'm not young and shiny;
If ya wanta know the truth,
Old age can kiss my heinie.

Well, that's it, folks. It's been a pleasure. Thanks to the lovely Tammy for inviting me over to do a few guest posts. Remember: A good attitude is contagious, but for Heaven's sake, don't wait to catch it from someone. Be a carrier.

Best wishes from Susan, longtime housewife, and visiting SOB (Sassy Old Broad)

Susan with her hubby's 1930 Model A rat rod. (Lucky for her, he apparently likes old things.)

If you're a glutton for punishment, and want more of Susan's SOB sense of humor, you're cordially invited to visit her blog I Think; Therefore, I Yam where she blogs most Fridays.








UPDATE: Not much... only that I'm even OLDER now. But we're happy to still be here. Any day we both wake up in the morning is a good one.

                              Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


Friday, November 22, 2019

How About Some Health Tips?

Thought for the day:  I want to lose weight by eating nothing but Moon Pies, which have significantly less gravity than earthier foods such as fruits and vegetables. [Jarod Kentz]

[image courtesy of wikipedia]
I understand the ooey-gooey sugary treats we call Moon Pies in the U.S. are called Wagon Wheels in the U.K., Australia, and Canada. That's kinda cool, but it wouldn't be nearly as amusing to say I wanted to lose weight by eating Wagon Wheels, ya know? At any rate, I don't reeeally want to eat them. I (gasp!) actually like fruits and vegetables...

Okay, this week's post is the second guest post I wrote a few years ago for The Really Real Housewives of America. This time, it's about health tips, and once again, I'll run it exactly as originally published. Purely for your benefit, of course. (Okay, I'll admit it. I'm lazy.) On the personal side, Smarticus is doing well, and next week is his last scheduled week of radiation. (No matter where you live in the world, you'll probably hear us whooping and hollering when we leave that cancer center...) Chemotherapy is supposed to finish up next month.

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Hi-ya. So here I am again. Still a bit saggy... although personally, I prefer to think of it as more of a relaxed fit... and hopefully, still sassy and savvy enough to provide you with some worthwhile wellness tips. Some of these may be old-hat to you, some may be new, and some may even be a bit counter-intuitive, but I'm going to try not to be such a smart ass today. This stuff's as real as the mildew growing under my boobs. Okay, so I totally made that part up. (Just a few squirts of X-14 keeps the mildew problem down nicely.) Okay, another lie. Sorry. But trust me, these tips are on the up-and-up. (Unlike my boobs...)




  • Want to  amp up a twenty-minute nap so it does a better job kicking fatigue in the keister? Have a cup of coffee first. Really. Downing approximately 200 mg of caffeine immediately before catching a few zees is all you need to turn your mini- nap into a super nap. That's because of something called adenosine, which is a natural byproduct of being awake and active. The higher its level, the more fatigued we feel. Makes sense, right? Well, a nap clears that stuff out of our system, and caffeine is an adenosine-blocker, so just as you're waking up from that nap, the caffeine is kicking in, and... ta-DA!... it effectively amplifies the benefits of that nap. 
  • Are you one of those people who is so conscientious about brushing your pearly whites immediately after every meal that you carry a toothbrush in your purse? Hold on. You might want to rethink that, because you may not be doing something quite as good as you think you are. Especially if your meal includes something acidic... like citrus fruit, tomatoes, sports drinks, or sodas. Acid temporarily softens tooth enamel, so brushing too soon, when your teeth are at their most vulnerable, can actually cause damage to your teeth. Bottom line? If you want to still have your choppers when you're as old as I am, best to wait 30-60 minutes before pulling out your toothbrush.
  • Those snack products marketed in 100-calorie packages seem to be a great idea, right? I mean, they control our portion size, and essentially save us from ourselves. (Assuming we have enough willpower to only eat one of them, that is.) The thing is, that small portion of carbs may spike your blood sugar a tad initially, but then you're too soon hungry again... for more carbs. It'd be better in the long run to pass on the carb snacks altogether, and reach for proteins. Something like peanut butter or cheese and apple slices. More calories per serving, yeah, but you'll feel full faster, and stay full longer. That means you won't be tempted to stuff your face with something else, and will end up eating fewer calories overall. 
  • Are you hooked on energy drinks? If you drink them, you probably are. One of those hopped-up beverages has five times more caffeine than a comparable amount of coffee, so no wonder it leaves you feeling nervous, jittery, and irritable, and makes your heart race. In addition to that mega-dose of caffeine, it also contains aurine, a central nervous system stimulant, and upwards of fifty grams of sugar. (That's a whopping thirteen teaspoons!) Yeah, that'll provide a rapid spike in blood sugar, all right, but it'll also lead to an inevitable hard crash, which will leave you fuzzy-headed, groggy, and... in need of another energy drink. 
  • It may sound counter-intuitive, but when you're dragging, exercise can re-energize you. Just thirty minutes of moderate exercise is enough to lessen your fatigue, improve your mood, and get those juices flowing again. Unfortunately, blog-hopping, jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, carrying things too far, dodging responsibility, pushing your luck, and doing diddly squats don't count as exercises.
  • Would you believe there's no evidence that antibacterial soap is any more effective than regular soap? In fact, long-term usage of anti-bacterial products can actually be detrimental to your health. Some of the ingredients in them, particularly something called tricolsan, can lead to hormonal changes in users, and to bacteria with a  higher resistance to antibiotics. Getting the optimal amount of effectiveness from a regular bar of soap requires a certain amount of lather time. A simple trick: To reach that optimal time while washing your hands, sing Happy Birthday in your head... twice.  Well, I suppose you could belt it out loud, but it might get you some strange looks if you do it in a public restroom. Not that (ahem) I know anything about that from personal experience, of course... 
  • Smelling a green apple can help ease the severity of migraine headaches. Certain scents naturally help us relax and reduce tension, and studies have shown the green apple scent to be particularly effective. A chilled cut lime is also reported to reduce headache pain, both by smelling it, and by rubbing it on the forehead or temples. For a select few, squeezing it into a margarita may also be beneficial.
  • Honey is a powerful antibacterial. Just a little dab will do ya before applying a bandage. If you suffer from hay fever, a teaspoon of honey a day is also reputed to reduce those miserable symptoms. Sweet, huh?
  • Cut yourself in the kitchen? (In a minor way, that is; I'm not talking about a to-the-bone debacle.) Rinse the area with cold water, (Use soap if you were handling raw meat.) sprinkle on some black pepper, and  then apply pressure until the bleeding stops. Who'd a thunk it? Good old black pepper has analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. How 'bout that? (Doesn't sting, either!)
  • Looks like I need to increase my intake of spearmint tea. Just two cups of it a day are supposed to help with hormonal problems, like acne or excess hair. It accomplishes this by reducing the level of male hormones in the body. (I'm reeeeeally getting tired of having to shave my darned face!)
  • Having trouble regulating your blood sugar level? Drink slime water! I don't mean you have to sneak out in the middle of a moonless night and skim muck off the top of a dirty ditch, or anything. Nope, you can make your own slime water. I do. Every evening, I wash three pieces of okra, slice off the ends, cut the larger pods in half, and cover all of the pieces with about half a cup of water. (You could use more, but the more you make, the more somebody has to drink.) Refrigerate overnight and in the morning, remove the okra, and drink the slimy water. My husband is the one who saw the tip online, and after investigating it on multiple medical websites, I ascertained that it could help, and most important, it couldn't hurt, so we decided to give it a try. Guess what? At least, for my husband, it has made a difference. Okra water doesn't negate the need for regular diabetes medications, but it has kept his numbers on a nice even keel. (If you try this, drink it all down at once. Then the slime isn't even noticeable.) (So he says...)
Th-th-th-that's all, folks, Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Best wishes from Susan, long-time housewife, and visiting SOB (Sassy Old Broad)

One of the best things about being an old broad is... grandchildren. Susan and Smarticus have thirteen of them, ranging from three to eighteen, but since they can't all fit on her lap at one time, here's three of the younger ones who do fit.

Most Fridays, Susan blogs at I Think;Therefore, I Yam Y'all are cordially invited to come visit her. No telling what the topic might be on any given week. Her body may not be flexible anymore, but her interests still are.



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UPDATE:  Okay, so Smarticus didn't stick with that slime water for long. (And honest, it wasn't because that's what I kept calling it...) Turns out, he was a little slow drinking it one morning. Instead of gulping it right down, which is obviously the only way to get that disgusting stuff down, he took a sip... and the slime kinda hung in one long snot-like loop all the way from his mouth to the cup. Just hung there, all jiggly-looking, with the light reflecting off of it like a prism. And then someone may have possibly laughed. Okay, so it was me, okay? I laughed. Just a little. Okay, so I laughed a lot. I mean, come on, people! It was FUNNY! And what can I say? He kinda lost the stomach for it after that...

As much as I love that picture of three of our granddaughters sitting on my lap, it's unbelievable how much they've grown since then. They're all beautiful young ladies now. Two are taller than I am. (sigh) Time does have a way of flying, doesn't it?

                            Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.




Friday, November 15, 2019

Sassy Tips

Thought for the day: Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving. [Albert Einstein]

I'm such a nerd, I seriously considered buying myself an Einstein bobble-head doll. I mean... c'mon! How cool is THAT? But I controlled myself. I convinced myself it wasn't worth twenty bucks, and besides, we already have way too much stuff around here.

Anyhow, like good ol' Einsten said, you've gotta keep moving, and that's what we've been doing, which means there's little time or inclination to compose a blog post. But I came up with a scathingly brilliant idea. A few years ago, I wrote three guest posts for the blog The Really Real Housewives of America. I think they're mildly amusing, and since most of you guys didn't see them, I figured I'd run them for the next few weeks. They'll at least feel new to you, right? In the meantime, Smarticus and I will keep on keepin' on.

I'm gonna run the posts exactly as they appeared on the other blog, okay? That way, you'll get the, um, full impact, and I, um, don't have to do a doggone thing with 'em...

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It's a real honor to be here with y'all today, but before I share some appropriate (and okay... some inappropriate) handy-dandy tips with you, I feel it is my civic duty to issue a warning. One of the ladies who runs this blog is... now how shall I put this delicately?... a tad underhanded. (gasp!) I know. Shocking, isn't it? When inviting me to serve a stint as guest blogger here, Tammy called me... sassy. Yeah, sassy. Not saggy... sassy. How in the world could an old broad like me possibly say no when she threw a word like that at me, I ask you? It's been quite a few years since anyone associated that word with me, so I'm just gonna wrap it around me, and savor the feeling. Yep, that's me... classy, sassy, and a bit smart assy. Okay, not entirely true. But I am a bona fide smart ass, so you'd be wise to take what I'm about to tell you with a handful of salt.

Okay, ready for some nifty neat-o some-of-'em-even-work time-saving and money-saving tips?

  • Most of the things you waste time worrying about never happen, so cut it out! Worrying causes stress, gives you wrinkles, and wastes valuable time you could be using to do something much more worthwhile, like eating ice cream or sucking face with your fella. Besides, worrying never changes a darned thing. Never.
  • Clean up messes as they happen. I know it's tempting to ignore that mini-mountain of cereal you just knocked onto the kitchen floor, but don't. An even better alternative? Have at least one dog and one cat in your home. Believe you me, pets make an unbeatable clean-up team. Plus, cats with a propensity to arf provide you with the perfect incentive to clean your floors and carpets... one small area at a time.
  • To cut down on mildew, wipe down your shower walls and tiles after each shower. If you have a shower curtain, give it a couple good whacks to knock off excess water, and then leave the curtain closed to allow it to dry more quickly. Better yet? Join a gym. Then you can take all of your showers there, and let somebody else worry about mildew. As an added bonus, you can even spend a minute or two exercising while you're there. Might as well. Or you could do it my way... I do lots of diddly squats around the house every day. 
  • If you insist on wasting money and water by continuing to take your showers at home, rather than join a gym as I suggested, you may eventually notice the shower head isn't quite as squeaky clean as it used to be. I suppose you could go all Martha Stewart and scrub it with a toothbrush or something, but how about this? Secure a plastic baggy of vinegar over the head overnight, and ta-DA! Just like magic, all of the residue disappears. (Even though you want to be frugal and all that, I wouldn't recommend re-using that vinegar in your next salad... it's a tad on the soapy side.)
  • When lemons and/or limes are on sale, buy extra. Squeeze the juice out of some of them and freeze it in ice cube trays. Once it's completely frozen, you can store the cubes in a plastic bag. One cube equals about a tablespoon of juice. 
  • Some recipes call for buttermilk. I don't know about you, but we don't drink that stuff, so it'd be a waste of time and money to run to the store to buy it for a particular recipe, when I know the rest of it would just end up down the drain. No problem. I don't have to go to the store, and neither do you. Just add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup of good ol' normal milk. It's a perfect substitute.
  • Planning a dinner party, but hate the idea of wasting money on fancy after-dinner mints? So don't! Freeze a colorful tube of toothpaste, and then cut the tube open, and slice the paste into wafer-thin treats. Instant fresh breath!  PLUS, everyone saves time by skipping the usual after-dinner tooth-brushing routine. Win-win!
  • If you're in a hurry, or have somewhere you absolutely have to be, never ever make eye contact with your spouse while eating a banana. 
  • Need to drop some pounds in a hurry? Eat raw pork or rancid tuna. You can lose up to twelve pounds in only two days, without having to fork over one red cent on any of those dangerous diet pills. 
  • To save money on toilet paper, borrow it from work. Not whole, unopened rolls, mind you. Just rolls that have already been started. No one will ever notice. And, um, I'm using the word borrow facetiously. No need to return it. When you get down to the empty cardboard roll, you can put that to use, too. If you cut it lengthwise, you can put it around a roll of opened wrapping paper like a cuff. Keeps the rolls looking much neater. If you care about such things. If you don't, just throw it away. No skin off my nose.
  • Wanta save big money on your electric bill? Turn off the lights. Yep, all of them. If everybody wears a miner's hat, there's absolutely no need to turn on a lamp.
  • While we're saving money, here's another handy tip. Don't waste any money on one of those little address books for friends' addresses and phone numbers, either. Don't you get free phone directories? There ya go!  Just cross out the names of people you don't know. 
  • Here's a reeeeeeally big money-saver. When you go out with friends, leave your wallet at home. You can save yourself a bundle! However, you may eventually have to find new friends. 
  • And finally: be nice. Really. Going out of your way to be nice, especially to your spouse, will save a lot of time that might otherwise be wasted in argument. Most of the time, being kind is much more important than being right. (If all else fails, reach for a banana. Make eye contact at your own peril.)
                               Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                                   
   Best wishes from Susan, long-time housewife, and visiting SOB (Sassy Old Broad)

Susan and her husband transferred from Maryland to Georgia in 1971, and have lived in the same so-called starter home ever since. (Too lazy to pack up all their stuff!) She was a stay-at-home mom, and after the kids all flew the coop, she was perfectly happy to continue being a kept woman full-time homemaker, as well as a perpetual you-name-it-and-she'll-do-it volunteer. Since her hubby Smarticus retired fifteen years ago, they've been enjoying plenty of spur-of-the-moment adventures. (With the right attitude, everything is an adventure!) She has written one novel, Hot Flashes and Cold Lemonade, and helped put together a poetry book for charity called Old Broads Waxing Poetic. She blogs most Fridays at I Think: Therefore, I Yam

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UPDATE: It's hard to believe, but Smarticus has been retired even longer, and I managed to write another book. Whether or not book two of that alleged trilogy will ever be written remains to be seen.

                             Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.





Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Fun of Research

Thought for the day: Escaping into a world of our making is one of the best things about writing.
Yep. It's that time again.Time for our monthly IWSG posts. As always, thanks to our fearless leader, Alex Cavanaugh, for founding this fine group, and thanks to all the other nurturing guys and gals who've helped turn it into the thriving community it is today. I'm telling ya, this group offers better support and lift than the world's most expensive bra. (No underwires, either!) To join this super supportive group of writers and to see links to other participating blogs, please go HERE

As to be expected, no writing this past month, either. For the foreseeable future, getting my husband healthy again is my top priority. Today is his 16th day of radiation and chemo, and so far, so good.

Not much time to spare these days, so I'll get right to this month's question: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?


[image courtesy of shutterstock]
The strangest, huh? I can't say that narrows it down a heckuva lot, because I've done some mighty interesting searches, and to me, it's all fun. But if I had to pick just one topic... it'd probably be the research I did on explosives. Homemade explosives. To tell the truth, it was a little scary just how much information I was able to find. Anarchist kinda stuff. (Who knew?) Smarticus teased me about it a little bit, and said NSA or some other alphabet soup government agency was probably watching, but he offered plenty of assurances, too. He said if someone from the government came to the front door looking for me, he'd handle it for me. Yes sirree, he'd direct them right down the hallway to my office...

Not that I reeeeeally thought anyone was following my interesting online searches, but I ended up finishing the rest of my explosive research via some U.S. Army handbooks. (Who knew?) I read about more kinds of explosives, booby traps, delayed time detonations, etc. than you can imagine. Funny thing is, I used very little of it in my book Explosive Beginnings. But for me, the research... no matter what the topic... is always a fascinating pursuit. I figure, it's best to gather much more info than I need and then use a minimum of it, as needed, to properly tell the story. (I mean, you guys didn't reeeeally want to know how to use a light bulb as a booby trap, did ya...?)

                                     Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.





Friday, November 1, 2019

I Can Hear Music

Thought for the day: Hope is hearing the music in the future. Faith is dancing to the music now. [Caroline Pitre-Oaks]

It's been a while since Smarticus and I have danced, unless you count my uncoordinated bopping around to the music while we shoot pool, but hey! Maybe it isn't too late to learn how to torture my favorite Pole with a pole dance, eh?

A couple weeks ago, I said I'd written two rather lengthy posts and then I didn't know where we'd go from there. Well, I know where we're going this week, anyway. A friend sent me some pictures that tickled my funny bone, so I figured I'd have a go at tickling yours, too. Along with the pictures, he posed the question: Are humans regressing?

What do you think? Take a gander...









Well, golly, thank you so much for letting me know. Sometimes, seeing a mountain of peanuts isn't nearly enough for me to correctly ascertain that there's a bona fide mountain of actual peanuts right there in front of me.


Well, darn. I was thinking maybe that was the family reunion-sized version.


Really? I wonder how many people burned themselves by testing the temperature of that fire to prompt the addition of this helpful warning.



Well, that's rather vague, dontcha think?


Awwwww. But it looks so doggone tasty... and I'm too cheap to pay someone for a piercing...




So ixnay on the playing fetch with Fido, okay?


Not the comfiest place to park one's posterior, but it'd probably go a long way toward popping some of those pesky hemorrhoids.




Um... okay. If you insist.






But that would be such a cool way to leave the building...



Whew! Thanks for telling me. Snorkeling on the beach isn't nearly as much fun.














Now THIS one probably has a perfectly logical reason behind it. It's a men's room, obviously, where little boys would also do their thing. All I wonder is how many boys peed into the wall before the sign was installed. (And how many it stopped from peeing into that tempting hole after it was installed...)


Not even through the window? Or the chimney? Oooh, how about the vent in the kitchen above the grease pit... that always works out so well...




Well, the gaping elevator shaft might get me to the ground floor faster, but I believe I'll just take the stairs this time.



Hmmm. Maybe the sign right before this one says Slippery when wet, and this one is simply for clarification?





Yep. And something tells me you don't wanta know what they are.


It does???

(sigh)

All good things must come to an end. Including this post. I hope you got a chuckle or two from it.





But back to the question my friend posed. Is humanity regressing?








                     Me? I say no. As long as we keep our sense of humor, we're doing just fine.


                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

UPDATE: Three weeks into treatment, and we're still smiling... and can still hear the music.

Friday, October 25, 2019

A School with Heart

Thought for the day: Life is a fight, but not everyone's a fighter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species. [Andrew Vachss]

Did your school hold school spirit days when you were a kid? I only remember having them in high school, but evidently, it's common to hold them in elementary and middle schools nowadays, too. Makes sense, I suppose. Building school spirit is a good way to create unity, and we could all use a little more of that, whether you're in grade school or an old broad like me.

Well, recently an elementary school in Alamonte Springs, Florida held a special school spirit day for students to celebrate their favorite college. Yeah, college. Can't say that I cared much about any college whatsoever at that age, but evidently, kids are into that sort of thing now.

[courtesy of Morguefile]
At any rate, students were supposed to wear the school colors of their favorite college, and one fourth grade student was over the moon excited at the prospect of showing off his support for the University of Tennessee. He could hardly wait.

He was so excited, in fact, he not only wore an orange tee shirt, but he designed his very own UT logo with pen and paper and attached it to his shirt, too. His teacher, Laura Snyder, was impressed with his enthusiasm and willingness to go the extra mile, and said he was over-the-top excited about... and proud of... his shirt.

[image courtesy of pixabay]
Then he went to lunch.

Some girls there made so much fun of him and the hand-made sign on his shirt, he returned to his classroom in tears, totally crushed.

His teacher wrote about the incident on Facebook and said she planned to buy him a University of Tennessee tee shirt to cheer him up. I guess you could say her post kinda went viral. Lots of UT fans saw it... and then folks at the university itself. This school, which now may be MY favorite college, then sent the boy a huge box of all things UT, enough swag for him to enjoy personally and to share with his classmates, as well. Can you just imagine how that made that little guy feel?

                                                 But the school wasn't done.


That's RIGHT! The school turned his shirt into an official UT shirt. How do ya think THAT made him feel?

                                                But the school still wasn't done.

Proceeds from the sales of this shirt  (and there's been a LOT sold!) are being donated to an organization called Stomp Out Bullying. The little boy's gotta be pretty happy about that, too, dontcha think?

                                               But wait! The school still wasn't done.

The school recently announced that it's granting this little super fan a 4-year scholarship covering tuition and fees... IF he chooses to attend the school and IF he meets admissions requirements. HA! IF??? I dunno about you, but I think it's a pretty safe bet that this little fella will be starting college at the University of Tennessee in 2028. Who could possibly resist a school with so much heart?

                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

[image courtesy of unsplash]

Friday, October 18, 2019

Cause and Effect

Thought for the day: We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results. [Herman Melville]

Are you familiar with the butterfly effect? I took that picture on the left when we were at a butterfly festival, where a monarch butterfly took up residence on the top of my head for a good while. It was actually very cool, but the effect that particular butterfly had on me after doing his itty bitty business on my head is... when we got home, I washed my hair.

But um, that isn't a bona fide example of the butterfly effect. In essence, the actual effect, or principle, says that a tiny change within a complex system may have a huge effect. Originally, the phenomenon was ascribed largely to weather, in which American mathematician and meteorologist Edward Lorenz, who established the chaos theory, as well as theories regarding weather and climate predictability, offered the metaphorical example of how the specifics of a tornado's path could be influenced by something as minor as the flapping of a butterfly's wings.

It speaks to our larger expectation that the world should be comprehensible... that everything happens for a reason, and that we can pinpoint all those reasons, however small they may be. [Peter Dizikes, journalist]

[image courtesy of wikipedia]
Just to be different, I'm going to go in the opposite direction. Instead of moving from a tiny cause leading to a huge effect... I'm going the other way. I'm going to start with a mastodon. 

Can't get much bigger than that!

Would you believe that something these behemoths did back in prehistoric times contributed to the survival of a tiny butterfly still living in Georgia today?

[image courtesy of wikipedia]

The paw paw tree is fairly common here in Georgia. In the springtime, its flowers are quite lovely, but they, um... STINK. Literally. Kinda like dead fish or rotting meat. Matter of fact, the leaves and bark have the same distinctive stench.

But these trees also produce a fruit, as shown in this picture, and it's the largest edible fruit indigenous to the U.S. They range in color from a yellowish-green to brown, and their insides are creamy and similar in taste to banana custard. Or so I've been told. I've never eaten one.

[image courtesy of wikipedia]
But lots of animals devour them. But they only eat the sweet fleshy part.

See, the seeds range in size from 1/2 to 1 inch, which is too large for any living animal to swallow whole.

Not a problem for our ol' pal the mastodon.


Mastodons gobbled 'em up, seeds and all... and then they continued their meanderings around the state. What goes up must come down, and what went in had to come out.

Meaning, as these mastodons wandered around the state, they um, sowed these undigested seeds wherever they went, and thus assured the spread of this species. The diet and excretion of these creatures from eleven thousand years ago directly led to the paw paw patches that are still seen around the state today. But how about that... tiny effect I mentioned earlier?

[image courtesy of wikipedia]

Meet the zebra swallowtail. Yep, a butterfly.

The only thing its caterpillar will eat is the foliage from a paw paw tree. So, no mastodon poop containing paw paw seeds, possibly no paw paw trees today, and no zebra swallowtails.

One thing kinda interesting about these butterflies. The stink I mentioned from the trees? It comes from a chemical, a naturally-occurring insecticide called acetogenins, and after eating the stinky foliage while in the caterpillar stage, the butterflies retain a trace amount of the substance for the rest of their lives, which provides an effective protection from predators, who evidently, don't like smelly food.



So, in essence, this lovely little butterfly, which we saw at the festival, owes its existence, in part, to the eating and pooping habits of a creature which lived in the very distant past.


Cool huh?


There is a deep interconnectedness of all life on earth, from the tiniest organism to the largest ecosystem, and absolutely each person. [Bryant McGill]

The moment you realize your bones are made from the same dust as the planets, your lungs breathing the air of migrating butterflies, and your blood is pumping because of the love and care of thousands is when you realize you're not as broken or alone as you think you are. You are full of the world. [source unknown]

Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else. [Leonardo da Vinci]

Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe. It is, in a way, the opposite of chaos. It implies the deep interconnectedness of all things. It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together. [Carl Sagan]

                                                Another kind of paw paw flower...

[image courtesy of unsplash]


                                 Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sunshine

Thought for the day:  Don't confuse your path with your destination. Just because it's stormy now doesn't mean you aren't headed for sunshine. 

[image courtesy of unsplash]

There's a certain amount of comfort in knowing that no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is still up there, waiting to shine its rays on us again. Just because we can't see it at the moment doesn't mean it isn't there.

No relationship is all sunshine, but two people can share one umbrella and survive the storm together.

Smarticus and I are huddled under an umbrella right now, but trust me, we're still smiling.

Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face. [Victor Hugo]


[image courtesy of unsplash]



We've been married for more than fifty years, so we've seen lots of eclipses together, and we know that no matter how surreal everything looks while the moon is upstaging the sun, it always steps aside in the end so we can once again see the sunlight in all its glory.








[image courtesy of unsplash]


I have faith that just like an eclipse, this, too, shall pass. But it's gonna take a little while.

When I met Smarticus for the first time, I was 12 years old, and even then, there was something about him that I found irresistible. I mean, he was reeeeally smart, funny, and a bit of a smart ass/bad ass. Even though he was a good boy, there was something of a bad boy aura about him, too. I mean, he worked on cars and smoked, for goodness sake! And ohhhh, he looked so cute with that cigarette hanging from his mouth... Yeah, I know. Dumb. Well, I'm pleased to say he finally quit smoking a couple months ago, but now he's a different kind of bad ass. His body's all marked up. Not with tattoos, though, With markings to show where he's gonna get zapped with radiation. Yeah, I know. Scary. I'm only telling you guys this because I didn't want to simply disappear from the blogosphere without any explanation. To make a long story short, Smarticus begins radiation and chemo next week and it'll be for five days a week, which means we'll both be spending a lot of time at two different medical facilities for quite a few weeks to come. I know some of you have already faced (and overcome!) cancer, and I know we aren't unique. This is just something we have to deal with, and we'll do it as best we can. Whether or not that will include blogging remains to be seen. Not that I don't love you guys. But I love him more.


Honest, I wasn't planning on saying anything about this at all, and he might prefer that I kept it to myself, so I'm not going into any details. (Lucky for me he never reads my blog, HA!) What made me change my mind was a tiny article in the newspaper about a couple of Florida teenagers with Down syndrome, and how the girl's mother took a video of the young man inviting her daughter to the homecoming dance. About how their faces shine with love... and how he asked her to be his sunshine. Just like my Smarticus has always been to me and I think I've been to him. I looked for the video mentioned in the article... and found it. Be ready to smile. The way I see it, love and sunshine are always something worth smiling about...




                                Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
                               
                                           Keep smiling and never EVER give up hope.


P.S. I've already written rather lengthy blog posts for the next two Fridays, but once they go live, anything I write after that may be shorter than usual (Stop cheering!) or might even be re-runs of oldies-but-goodies. For that matter, they may be non-existent. We shall see.