Ponderings from a Procrastinating Prognosticator

Autumn Colours

Posted by samatwitch on November 19, 2012

Burnt umber, polished gold, rusty brown stand out amid the variegated greens of the evergreen trees.  Here and there the brilliant red flames of a Japanese maple punctuate the fall colours.  We may not have the same variety or even vividness of eastern autumns, but the West Coast has its fair share of rioting colour, including late blooming roses of pure white, blushing pink and soft buttery yellow.

Leaves are reluctantly bidding farewell to the branches on which they have made their homes for the past few months, creating a thick carpet of gold on the patio outside my office window.   With the rain we’ve had in recent days, they are not as crisp as I like and don’t crinkle as much underfoot as I shush through them, but it’s a sight I look forward to once fall hits.

Living in the rain forest as we do, the predominant colour of any season is green, even during the winter, and the number of shades of that colour always amazes me.

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Posted in Personal | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

MOTHER’S DAY – PART ONE

Posted by samatwitch on May 15, 2012

Yesterday was Mother’s Day – at least in North America.  Twenty-five years ago, I was sharing a ‘picnic’ supper of bread, meat, cheese and fresh strawberries with my mother, (step)father, sister and the man she married the following weekend, in the rooftop garden of St. Paul’s Hospital.  It was the last food my mother ate as she didn’t want to eat anything and actually only had very tiny amounts that night to please my sister and me.  My mother had leukemia, acute myelogenous leukemia, to be exact.  As it turns out, the kind of leukemia my father had died from 35 years before was a subset of AML, although there is no way to know for sure if it was the same strain that just lay dormant in my mother for all that time.

When doctors say ‘acute’, they know of which they speak.  It was seven weeks from the day my mother went in the hospital in Duncan and was tentatively diagnosed with a form of chronic leukemia, until she died in St. Paul’s.  I was lucky, I had a little voice that told me it was going to be seven weeks so I sat down and decided on what I needed/wanted to say to her or things I wanted to share, questions I wanted to ask and, most importantly, what needed to be left unsaid and unsolved but let go.

At the time, I was working on an on-call basis and so I was available every day for at least part of the day and for the final four and a half weeks, I slept and mostly lived at the hospital.  The one thing I could do for her was to type (and I mean on an only semi-correcting typewriter) the final draft of the book she had spent the past few years researching and writing about the women who came to the coast of British Columbia as teachers, nurses, missionaries and helpmates to their husbands.  They Also Came is the title and she spent many hours interviewing women or their families about the lives of some of these brave women.  One of her close friends who was included in the book insisted that my mother should also have a chapter as she and Dad plied the waters of the Pacific Northwest on the Thomas Crosby V, the United Church mission boat that visited lighthouses, fishing villages, and isolated people on the coast.

My mother didn’t live to see her book in print but she did know it had gone to the printer.  All the money raised went to the Crosby mission fund to support the ship’s journey up and down the coast.  Right to the end – and beyond – my mother was giving.  She died as she had lived, with dignity and courage and love for her family.

Posted in Personal, Writing - Non-fiction | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

WRITING – THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Posted by samatwitch on April 26, 2012

I wrote this for a short story contest earlier this year.  I had a really good opening few pages but had to scrap it all because it was a short story contest, not a novel!  So this was written in the last few hours before the deadline and posted to the contest with one minute to go!  It’s not great, but it is mine.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER

Molly braced herself, then stared defiantly at the boy who had done everything possible to make her life miserable since she and her parents had moved to this small town three months ago.  Gerald and his friend Lewis delighted in tormenting their classmates, especially the girls, but for a few minutes she had the upper hand.

She was enjoying being the helper for the school photographer, even though it mostly consisted of standing beside him and acting as a focus for the students he was shooting.  Somehow it seemed to relax them to see another student in the gym where the photos were taken.  Nobody would call Molly intimidating; she was small for her age, with blonde hair and delicate features.  Along with her shy demeanour, those attributes meant she was usually ignored, except by the bullies in the school.  She smoothed her fingers over the small bottle in her pocket that she carried with her at all times.

The photographer had chosen Molly deliberately – not just to relax the other students, but to help Molly overcome her shyness.   He had seen how Gerald had pinched her and kneed her in the back while they were posing for their class picture and decided to do something about it.

Now he had Gerald in front of him, squirming around in the chair as the photographer readied his equipment.

“Sit still, please, Gerald,” he requested pleasantly.  “I want to make sure I have the perfect shot so your parents will be pleased.”

“My Ma’s not going to pay for any old pictures of me,” the young boy said, “I don’t know why I’m even here.”

“Because everyone is having their pictures taken individually this week and then your mother can decide whether or not she wants to purchase them.”

Finally the photographer seemed happy with his arrangements, staring through the lens for what seemed to Molly to be a long time before finally snapping the picture.

“Thank you, Gerald,” the photographer said quietly.  “You may go back to your group now and send in the next person.”

Gerald seemed to stumble a bit as he got up, but then he walked stiffly out the door.

A few minutes went by and no other child appeared

“Molly, could you go and ask the next child in line to come in, please?”

Molly went to the door and looked out.  The line-up of children were waiting, some patiently, others fidgeting, Lewis as usual trying to intimidate his classmates.

“Andrea, you’re next,” said Molly to her friend who was standing at the front of the line.

“Didn’t Gerald tell you to come in?” she asked as they crossed the gymnasium floor.

“No, he didn’t say anything.  His eyes were weird and he just walked by all of us without hitting or pinching or anything,” she replied.

“Probably the flash affected his eyes,” said the photographer, overhearing as they drew near.  “Some people react badly.  As for not hitting or pinching, I would think that’s a good thing.  He shouldn’t be doing that at any time.  That’s something that should stop right now and I know just what to do about it.”

“Oh, no,” cried Andrea. “If he finds out I said anything, he’ll be worse than ever.”

“Nonsense,” said the photographer.  “That kind of behaviour must stop immediately, but don’t worry, I have no intention of telling him that you said anything.  I’d already seen his bullying for myself.”

Andrea settled down and the photographer seemed to be quite happy with the picture he took of her and the rest of the students that afternoon.

“Is there a student missing, Molly?” he asked. “My list says 32 students but I’ve only taken 31 pictures.”

“Lewis didn’t come in,” she replied. “He was in the line-up earlier but Mrs. Anderson said he left to see what happened to Gerald and he didn’t come back.  They’re best friends.”

Just then Mrs. Anderson bustled in.  “I’m sorry to keep you waiting.  I was looking for our last straggler, but it seems Lewis felt he needed to make sure his friend Gerald got home safely.  He didn’t seem well when he left.”

“No problem,” said the photographer, “I’ll be here all week taking pictures of the other classes.  We can just slip him in during one of the other sessions.  After all, it’s very important he get his picture taken just like all the other children.”

“Yes, I’ll see that he does.”  Mrs. Anderson flitted out the door.  “Molly,” she called back, “you can leave now; it’s three o’clock.”

Molly walked home slowly, thinking about all the things that had happened today.  Who would have thought this morning that the day would have ended so well?  And she was going to be the photographer’s assistant all week.  He had asked Mrs. Anderson and she’d said yes.

Passing by the park, Molly caught a glimpse of Gerald and Lewis standing, huddled together by the swings.  She walked faster, hoping to avoid a confrontation, but they didn’t even seem to notice her.  It looked as if Lewis was doing all the talking for once, but she wasn’t taking any chances.

The next morning when she arrived in class, Gerald was absent.  Lewis was in his regular seat but he looked lost without his constant companion.  Just before the bell rang, Lewis stalked over to Molly.

“What did that photographer do to Gerald yesterday?” he demanded.

“Nothing,” said Molly. “He just took his picture.”

“Well, Gerald was in there longer than anyone else and he wasn’t the same when he came out. His eyes weren’t right and he was just different.  Last night he wanted to go hunting!”

“That doesn’t surprise me,” muttered Molly, somewhat surprised at her bravery.

“With his bare hands?”  Lewis slid over to his seat just as Mrs. Anderson entered the class.

“Molly, you can head down to the gym to help the photographer with one of the other grades today,” she said.

Over the next two days, as Molly stood beside the photographer, she heard whispers and mutters from some of the other classes about Gerald.  Everyone seemed to have a story about what had happened to him.  Some people had actually seen him and said he just stared right through them.  Reports of students’ pets going missing were also circulating throughout the school.  Some people were blaming the latter on Gerald and his strange behaviour.

“Nonsense,” scoffed the photographer when he overheard a couple of students discussing the latest rumours.  “Gerald is probably home with the ‘flu.  As for the animals going missing, it’s probably a coyote or raccoon, maybe even a cougar.  Now one of you come in for your picture.”

“Molly,” the photographer asked at the end of the next day, “Has Lewis been behaving?”

“No, he’s worse than ever.”

“Hmm.  Well, make sure he comes in for his picture tomorrow.  It’s my last day here.”

“I’m not sure he’ll come,” said Molly.  “He thinks you have something to do with why Gerald is acting strange.”

“Really?” the photographer asked in exasperation. “It’s not as if I’m stealing souls!”

Molly looked startled.  “Why did you say that?”

“Some cultures believe that taking one’s picture steals that person’s soul.  We know it’s not true, of course.  Nobody can steal a soul.”  He laughed softly.

“Oh, of course not,” Molly said unsurely. “That would be ridiculous.”

“Absolutely.  You don’t think I did anything to Gerald, do you, Molly?”

“Oh, no,” she was quick to reply. “I didn’t see you do anything and I was here all the time.”

“Good.  I’ll see you tomorrow then – and don’t forget to add Lewis to the list.”

When Molly got home, her parents were speaking to each other in the living room in the low voices that always seemed to be a preface to moving to a new town and school.  She had so hoped that this one would be the last.  In spite of Gerald and Lewis, she was enjoying her time here and had even made a friend, Andrea.

She overheard her name and the words “bullying” and “hurting”.  She heard her mother say that they needed to protect her.

Molly quietly opened the kitchen door and then let it shut firmly.  The conversation in the living room cut off abruptly and her parents came into the kitchen.

“How was your day?” asked her mother as she helped Molly off with her coat.

“It was good,” she answered.  “I’m still helping the photographer.”

“That’s nice, dear.”

“Why are you home so early, Daddy?”

Her father glanced at his wife.  “Oh, I just came home to discuss a few things with your mother and take my two favourite girls out for dinner.”

“We’re not moving again, are we?” Molly asked apprehensively.

“Maybe.  It’s not settled yet, Molly, but we may have to move.”

“I don’t want to move! I like it here.”  Molly crossed her arms defiantly.

“We’ll give it a few days and see what happens.  It may turn out that we can stay.”

“Oh, please, please,” begged Molly, running to her father to give him a hug.  Her parents exchanged looks over her head.

“We’ll see.  In the meantime, why don’t you run upstairs and wash up so we can go out for dinner?”

“Okay.”  She ran off cheerfully.

Her mother looked after her.  “It would be a shame if we had to move again, just when she’s getting settled and making friends.”

“If the bullying continues, we’ll have no choice.”

 

“I know,” sighed her mother as she left the room.

“You seem to be a little quiet today, Molly,” the photographer said the next day. “Are you tired of being my assistant already?”

“Oh, no.  It’s just that my parents are talking about moving again and I want to stay here.”

“Does your father get transferred often?”

“No, he works for himself so he can work anywhere.  It’s just that they don’t like it when I’m bullied so we move.”

“There must be a better solution than that,” said the photographer.  “Running away isn’t the answer.  You must stand up to the bullies and not let them get away with it.”

“Yes, but that’s really hard to do when you’re small like I am and there’s two of them.”

“Gerald seems to have changed his behaviour.  Maybe we can persuade Lewis to do the same.”

“I think that would be a great idea,” beamed Molly.  “Then we can stay here.”

“Let’s see what we can do, shall we?  Why don’t we get Lewis in next?”

“I’ll go and get him out of class.”  Molly almost bounced out the door, while the photographer adjusted his camera.

A few minutes later she was back with a reluctant Lewis in tow.

“Here he is.”

“Welcome, Lewis,” said the photographer. “Why don’t you have a seat?”

“I don’t wanna have my picture taken.  My parents won’t buy it anyway.” He struck a defiant pose.

“Nonsense, I’m sure your parents will love it, so please sit down and behave as if you are a properly brought up young man for once, not someone raised by wild animals.  Come to think of it, wild animals probably treat other animals much better than you have been treating your schoolmates.  Bullying is unacceptable and you need to stop before something terrible happens to you.”

“Yeah, what are you going to do about it?  The same thing you did to Gerald?” As he said those words, Lewis seemed to shrink a bit and his eyes darted to the door.

“I did nothing to Gerald and I wish you would stop spreading stories that I did.  I saw Gerald back at school today and he seemed fine.”

“That’s because you didn’t know him before.  He’s totally different – quiet and just walks from class to class by himself.”

“Sounds like an improvement to me, young man.  Maybe you should do the same.”  The photographer finished adjusting his lens and looked at Lewis.  “Please sit up straight and look straight at Molly.”

Molly stared back at the young man intently, with a slight smile on her face, the fingers of her right hand clasped around the smooth object in her pocket.  Lewis couldn’t tear his eyes away, not even when the flash went off.  The photographer dismissed him without looking up from his camera, but did look over at Molly as Lewis slowly left the gym.

“I hope that’s the end of his bullying tactics, Molly.  I think he just needed someone to point out how wrong his behaviour was.”

“I’m sure you’re right, sir.”  Molly said as she smiled slightly.  “I think he’s learned his lesson.”

“Thank you for being such a good assistant this week, Molly,” said the photographer.  “If I don’t see you again, I hope your life goes much more smoothly from now on.”

“It will, I can feel it,” said Molly.  “Thank you for giving me the chance to help.”

As she left the gym to head back to class, she saw Gerald and Lewis standing in the hallway.  She noticed that Lewis now had the same blank stare as Gerald and neither of them made a move towards her as she walked by.  She waved at them gaily and continued on her way.

Entering her room at home, she took the small bottle from her skirt pocket, swirled the black contents and placed it on the shelf next to a similar one.

“There,” she said with satisfaction, “no more bullying from either of you. You’re souls are safe with me.”

Posted in Writing - Short Stories | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

WRITING – PEACE POEM

Posted by samatwitch on March 21, 2012

 

Today is World Poetry Day and a woman whose blog I follow suggested visitors to her site add a couple of lines in the comments to make a peace poem.  As usual, I couldn’t keep it to two lines.  😉 I’ve also added a few more.

PEACE

Thoughts of peace are often hidden in our tempestuous world

But seeds have been planted.

Tended by gardeners of all races,

Like hope, peace sprouts unexpectedly

In countries throughout the world

Even where it is dangerous to have such thoughts.

But they flourish anyway.

 

Delicate buds with hardy roots

Struggling to reach the bright light of promise,

Fertilised by dreams of a future free of war and suffering,

And supported by hundreds, thousands, millions

With similar thoughts, hopes and dreams.

Posted in Writing - Poems | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

WHAT MAKES ME A BROWNCOAT?

Posted by samatwitch on March 12, 2012

I wrote this for a challenge on the Serenity Board in September 2005, before the movie Serenity came out, but lived up to my name as the Primary Procrastinating Prognosticator of our crew and left it about 1/2 hour too late, so I posted on my blog at the time.

What makes me a Browncoat? To me a Browncoat isn’t just a fan of the television series Firefly. A Browncoat embodies certain strengths and values, such as those portrayed by Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his first mate, Zoë. Strengths and values such as fighting with everything you have when you believe in a cause, never leaving anyone behind, and protecting the innocent and downtrodden. This was portrayed very well by Mal in “The Train Job”, which was the first episode shown on TV. When Mal discovers that what they were hired to steal were medications for a town suffering from a chronic illness, he and Zoë return the stolen goods. In what was for me the defining moment of the episode, the sheriff suggests that Mal had a choice as to whether to keep the goods or return them, and Mal says he didn’t. That scene was what made me a fan of the series.

 I started watching Firefly because I read about it in “TV Guide” and thought the premise sounded interesting, I liked Nathan Fillion, Jewel Staite and of course Ron Glass in other roles, and I am interested in different types of science fiction TV. Most of all, I am interested in watching TV shows – and reading books – about people. I don’t really care what the setting is if the characters are interesting, well-developed and true to themselves. This means you need a good writer who knows and loves his/her characters and is willing, even eager, for them to grow and change, as well as allow them to have flaws. Nobody in real life is perfect, so why would we want to watch characters who are? It isn’t even so much the decisions they make, as it is how and why they reach that decision, and what effect it will have on their lives.

Joss Whedon’s Firefly universe is unique, yet believable. It is certainly within the realm of possibility that China and the United States will be the two major powers from Earth and that they will work together to create a powerful controlling entity. And it is certainly conceivable, some may say inevitable, that we will one day have to leave Earth to find a new home, due to our mismanagement. I don’t have any problems with a science fiction world that does not have aliens in it – the Reavers are terrifying as is the Alliance is a different way. And one of the details I really appreciate in the series is that there is no sound in space. I work in a space science facility and that fact alone made some fans of our staff.

Firefly is an easy series to which to convert fans, especially if they are able to start at the beginning with the original pilot. I have three lending copies of the DVDs, as well as one copy I keep for me, and sometimes all three are out at once. I believe that most intelligent people, and people who are interested in science fiction, become hooked on this series because of the excellent writing, the stories and the wonderful characters that inhabit the Firefly world. Once again, Joss has written about a diverse group of people who come together as a family. It turns out this is one of his recurring themes. (I was a late comer to Buffy and Angel – becoming a fan only after I watched Firefly.) Characters who come together to back each other up, even if they fight among themselves, are characters we want to see more of, to stand up and cheer for, and to wish we could be a part of their universe.

Posted in Joss Whedon, Personal | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My Mr. Toast Collection

Posted by samatwitch on March 5, 2012

In 2008, people and events conspired – in a great way – to get me to the annual San Diego Comic-Con.  It was the first year the con sold out and it was overwhelming, joyous, inspiring, hot, sweaty, crowded, delightful, invigorating, informative, and very well-co-ordinated.  One of the main reasons I wanted to go was to meet some of my online friends who were going and that’s still one of the main reasons I’ve continued to go.  The other main reason was/is to see and hear Joss Whedon in person, even if it’s at a distance or more visible on a big screen.  (Last year I got to sit in the front row for his panel and that was great!)

Before I left, I planned every detail that I could and one of the things I did was make a list of what I wanted to purchase in the exhibition hall – and exactly where those particular boothes were.  Every year, dealers at the Con have exclusives – items which can only – or at first – be bought at SDCC.  The first one that caught my attention was Vampire Mr. Toast.  Although I’m not a big fan of vampires, I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and this ‘doll’ just made me smile.  I had never heard of Mr. Toast but apparently he has many friends. Since then, I have added to my collection each year: Vampire Mr. Toast, Ninja Joe the Egg, Devil Bacon & Frankentoast.  (Last year I also purchased Leif the Leaf and I bought Vampire Candy Corn for a friend.)  Here’s a picture of my collection, along with a rat from Pennsic given by a friend.

 

 

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Writing: The Magic Ring

Posted by samatwitch on February 26, 2012

Apparently, February 26th is National Tell A Fairy Tale Day in the United States, so I thought I’d celebrate in this corner of Canada by posting one of mine. 😉

This started as a short story written for my Children’s Lit class.  The requirements were that it had to start with “Once”, although it didn’t have to be Once Upon a Time; end with “After”, although it didn’t have to be Happily Ever After; the story had to include the colour green, a talking animal and a magic amulet of some sort.  (My original story did end with “after” and not Happily Ever, but I have since expanded this as the beginning of a possible book.  You may recognise Brenna from “Frog For Rent”.)

THE MAGIC RING

“Once you cross the bridge into the woods, you will no longer be under out protection, Brenna,” said the Queen to her daughter.  “We can watch you through our magic mirror, but by the time we reach you, it could be too late.  Wear this ring, and guard it carefully.  If you need help, twist the green stone three times in a counter-clockwise direction and help will come to you.  But remember, only use it when absolutely necessary, as there is a limit to how much magic one person is allowed to use on a quest.”

“Thank you, Mother”, said Brenna,  “and thank you, Father, for the basket of food and the bottle of water.”

“The food and water have been spelled so that you will never run out of either no matter how long your journey lasts, Brenna,” replied the King.  “The folded square of material in the bottom of the basket will open to become a safe tent for you to sleep in at night.  Be careful, my daughter.”

“Don’t worry, Mother, Father,” said Brenna, her eyes dancing in anticipation of her great adventure, “I have Samantha to protect me, don’t I, Samantha?”

Samantha, her tawny and black fur sparkling in the summer sun and her whiskers pointing straight out, looked up and purred her answer, “Always, Brenna.”

And so their adventure began.  Brenna, the eighteen-year-old daughter of the King and Queen, accompanied by her ever-faithful talking cat, Samantha, set out to find her childhood playmate, Trevor.  He had left his home several weeks before, and nobody had heard anything from or about him since.

As they traveled along the path towards the woods, Brenna and Samantha talked about how they would find Trevor.  Samantha could smell his scent, even though it had been weeks since Trevor had traveled this way.  Brenna’s talent was being able to communicate with animals, even if they weren’t magical like Samantha.  Brenna knew Trevor had been going to the neighboring country to seek his fortune, but he had promised to send word when he arrived and she had heard nothing.   That was not at all like Trevor.

All too soon Samantha and Brenna reached the bridge, on the other side of which lay the unknown forest.  Cautiously they walked across, knowing Brenna’s parents could no longer protect them.  They were truly on their own now.

Brenna and Samantha continued along the path, going deeper and deeper into the dark woods.  The farther they walked, the thicker the trees and the closer together they grew, until the two companions had barely enough room to walk on the path.

Startled by a sound behind her, Brenna turned around, only then noticing that the path disappeared as soon as they took a step forward.  It was a one-way path, never a good sign.

Finally the trees seemed to be a little less dense and, in the space of a few minutes, they stepped into a clearing, in the middle of which was a pretty little cottage.  Samantha warned Brenna not to go inside, but when the princess asked her cat if Trevor had done so, Samantha had to admit that he had.  That decided Brenna.

At first she knocked gently on the door, but there was no answer.  Brenna knocked harder.  When there was still no answer, she opened the door and entered the small house.  Everything inside was dainty and pretty, but it was evident that Trevor was not there now.  When Brenna and Samantha turned to leave, however, they discovered the door had disappeared and none of the windows opened.  They were trapped!

Brenna started to explore the cottage more thoroughly and came across a small door, just big enough for her to walk through.  Even though Samantha did her best to discourage her, Brenna stepped over the sill.  Immediately, the door closed behind her, and Brenna found herself in a large, dark corridor, filled with an unpleasant odor.  Having no other choice, Brenna held her breath as much as she could and, accompanied by her faithful cat, she followed the tunnel for a long way before it opened up into a very large cavern.

Her eyes went immediately to a cage hanging on the far side of the room, and she gave a cry of dismay as she recognized Trevor trapped inside.

At the sound of her voice, Trevor looked up in alarm, “Go back, Brenna, go back.  This cave belongs to an ogre who has been keeping me captive and trying to fatten me up for a meal.  I’ve been hiding most of the food and feeding it to the rats whenever the ogre goes out, eating only enough to keep my strength up.  But I’m afraid he’s losing patience and is going to eat me anyway.  Go back before he sees you!”

Just then the ground shuddered and rocks rumbled.  It was too late, the ogre was on his way back into the cave.  Brenna tried to hide, but although the ogre’s eyesight wasn’t very good, his sense of smell was excellent.  Before you could say, “Abracadabra”, the ogre and plucked Brenna from behind the chair where she was trying to hide and popped her into a cage identical to Trevor’s.

“Please, Mr. Ogre,” said Brenna, “please let us go.  We’re really not good to eat.  We’re tough and our muscles will get caught in your teeth.  How about some tasty bread and cheese from by basket?”

“Bread and cheese,” scoffed the ogre, “I want a nice juicy snack, and you look just about the right size.  You’re sure not big enough for a whole meal.”

“That’s right, I’m not,” said Brenna bravely, “but I can help you find all kinds of lovely food that you’ve probably never tried before.”

“Like what?” asked the ogre, becoming curious.

“Like nuts and berries, and honey and … oh, all kinds of delicious things.”

“I’ve never tried any of those things,” said the ogre.  “But I’m sure they’re not as tasty as a young lady such as yourself.”

“Oh, but they are,” replied Brenna, “even more so.  I told you, I’m tough and not very tasty at all.  Why don’t you at least try some of these things?  If you don’t like them, you can still eat us later.”

“Brenna!” cried Trevor, “What are you saying?”

“Don’t worry, Trevor, Mr. Ogre will like the new food so much, he won’t even want to eat us.”

“I hope so.”  Trevor was not convinced, but he knew how determined Brenna could be.  “I hope you have a backup plan.”

“I do,” she whispered, rubbing the green stone of her magic ring.

Posted in Writing - Novels | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Posted by samatwitch on February 15, 2012

I’ve never posted anyone else’s posts here, but this is such an excellently written article equating rape with being stung with bees I had to.

Angie's Anti-Theistic Thoughts

It is simply shocking that in the year 2012 people are still getting stung by bees, even when we all know perfectly well the best ways to avoid this. Clearly, people are being frivolous and uncareful in their personal protection and if they took this kind of threat a bit more seriously, maybe they wouldn’t hate themselves so badly after an attack. So, in the spirit of victim-shaming, let me share with you the best methods for avoiding being stung by a bee. Remember: if you are stung by a bee, you should immediately consult this list to discover what you did wrong. It is never the bee’s fault, always yours. With that in mind, let us begin.

  • Invest in the best locks and doors you can. Never enjoy a summer’s breeze. Having an unlocked or open window is like an invitation to a feisty bee to invade your home and puncture…

View original post 512 more words

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Christine Miserandino’s Spoon Theory

Posted by samatwitch on February 13, 2012

I know, I know.  I haven’t posted here lately.  I actually have a post or two I’m working on but they’re not ready so I thought I’d cheat and steal this from my Tumblr account.  It will go along with the others coming.

This young woman has written an excellent article about what it’s like to live with chronic pain, in her case Lupus.  My pain is nowhere near as bad as hers, or as Maurissa Tancharoen’s, who wrote an elegant post on how she lives with Lupus.  The spoon theory makes perfect sense to me, although I think for me it’s more like a cup of water, where sometimes an activity takes a few drops and sometimes it will take almost the full cup, but for me, I’m usually able to replenish it by resting.

I have degenerative disks in my back which also affect my legs.  On good days, I can walk to work in 15 minutes, walk home in 15 or 20 and sometimes even do a 20-minute walk at lunch time.  On the (thank goodness extremely rare) bad days, it can take me 45 minutes to an hour to get from my bed to the bathroom, into the living room to take an Advil and back to bed, in my small one-bedroom apartment.  (I do keep some Advil and a bottle of water by the bed now.)  I’m fortunate that those days are rare and that I so rarely took even an aspirin for my headaches/migraines/ankle problems growing up that I can get relief from one or two Advil and haven’t had to resort to stronger pain meds – especially since Advil tends to make me sleepy.

Although I don’t have to make the same kind of – or as many – decisions as Christine talks about, there are some I have to make.  Do I need to do laundry tonight or shall I empty garbage?  Both cause me pain so doing only one in an evening is the best choice.  If the arthritis I’ve developed in my left thumb and first finger is flaring up and makes it difficult to cut up meat and vegetables for the stir fry I had planned, I’ll probably have eggs or something simple.  If I lean down to pick up my cat, chances are very good that I won’t be able to do much else for at least half an hour, so she better give me good cuddles! 🙂  (And often she jumps up by herself.)

One of my favourite things to do is making cookies to give to friends for birthdays, holidays, as thank yous.  Standing up to bake and leaning over to take them out of the oven are now things I have to consider with respect to what else I need to do.  The same goes for entertaining.  Because I love to do it so much, I will continue, but I try to do as much as possible beforehand, and I take at least one day after to recover.  Fortunately, sitting is something I can do, which is odd for disk problems, but good for me. 🙂  Therefore, when I’m cooking or baking, I sit for a couple of minutes, usually every hour to begin with, then gradually as the day goes along, it’s about five minutes for every 15 minutes.  But when I sit down to dinner surrounded by good friends, interesting conversations and much laughter – always laughter – my cup is replenished at least half-way and that’s good enough for me.

I’m very lucky, in that I have friends who give me cleaning ‘vouchers’ as birthday and Christmas gifts, who come over to visit and empty garbage and recycling, who do the dishes for me after a big dinner, who will go out of their way to drive me somewhere.  Even at work, my coworkers will lean over to pick up something I’ve dropped so I won’t have to.  On days when I’m well enough to sit up but walking is a problem, my supervisor or a coworker will pick me up and bring me home.  (It helps that I live so close, of course.)

But the ‘good’ days still outweigh the bad by a long shot, days where I’m grateful that I can still walk to work and back; that I’m a long way from having to use a cane or walker or scooter; that I can enjoy the salt air, the beautiful mountains and ocean that I can see on my way to work and the park in which I work, which teems with wildlife – bald eagles, flickers, Canada geese, ducks – for most of which I have been foster mother – and currently five coyotes, not to mention all the dogs, other birds, etc.  I have friends and family that I care about and who care about me, a job I like and an annual charity event that is worth every effort I put into it.

Usually I end up with a ‘cup’ half-full at the end of the day (which is how I’ve always looked at life anyway!), and if I don’t, it’s because I’ve been doing something I love – entertaining, baking or spending time with friends – so it’s still worth it to me.

Posted in Personal | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

POEM: SAMANTHA II

Posted by samatwitch on January 12, 2012

Samantha had a special place in my heart, not just because we were together for 22 years, but because she was very special – and I brought her halfway across the country.  She liked to travel with me – by train or plane or car – as long as she could be with me, she put up with the rigors of travel.

SAMANTHA I

That cosy ball of fur curled up beside me
Twitches slightly in a dream
What kind of dreams do cats have, I wonder?
Chasing mice? Pouncing on toys? Eating catnip?
Or is she dreaming impossible dreams?
Wondering what it would be like
To soar like a bird, scamper like a mouse,
Or dart here and there like a dragonfly?
Could it be she’s dreaming of the kittens
She’s never had nor never will?
Or what life would be like with someone else?
Who can tell what dreams a cat has?
Who will ever know?
But when I move, she opens one eye
And purrs when I pet her,
Seemingly content with the life she lives.

SAMANTHA II

Soft tread of furry paws
Lightly touching the floor,
A faint ring from the bell around her neck,
Then a questioning ‘mrreoow’
As she looks for me,
Even before going to her food dishes.

Always she wants to be near me,
Following me around the house,
More like a dog than a cat,
Then indignant if I trip over her.

Her long silky tabby-striped hair
Needs to be brushed every day,
And she purrs as I hold her on my lap;
Unlike nail-clipping time,
Which started out as a war
For the first few years,
When I had to be covered from head to toe,
Including thick suede gloves.
But as she grew older, she mellowed,
Until it is quick and painless for both of us.

Round green eyes look into mine
And she winks at me.

This is Samantha, whom I taught to sit
In both of Canada’s official languages.
Samantha, who always reacted
To the fridge door being opened,
Right up to the end.
Samantha, who comforted me whenever I cried,
Even if it was because she was sick.
Samantha, who at 21, struggled
To return to health after a stroke and succeeded.
Samantha, who at 22, looked at me
With those round green eyes
And asked me to let her go
And I did.

Posted in Writing - Poems | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »