Thursday, April 26, 2012

Conquering Fear

My fear has a name: Mottephobia. That's the fear of moths.  It has another name at the moment: Miller Moths*.  We're being invaded by the nasty little bastards.  Millions... okay, probably more like hundreds, but it feels like millions... of them have hit this town.  And they're insidious.  Right now, it's beginning to rain and they're scurrying for any hiding spot they can find.  Which means, any hole or dark place.  You know, like my hair or my ears or my mouth.  Either that or they just fly blindly--smashing into whatever happens to be in their flight path.  Like my face or my arms.

Right now, it's hell out there for Mottephobes.

Or rather it would be hell for me if I hadn't worked my ass off to get rid of this irrational fear.  Last night as I stood smoking with my husband under the carport, as dozens of moths battered against me, I realized if this had been ten/fifteen years ago, I wouldn't be just standing.  I'd be screaming and running, waving my arms around my head like I was in a scene from Hitchcock's The Birds.

My family used to laugh at me - which certainly didn't help.  Lucky for me, my husband just shrugged and killed whenever I screamed and pointed.  Either that, or he was nice and let the ebil bastard bug outside.  He's good that way.  It's so much easier for a phobic who has someone around to chase away the scary when it flutters in your face.

Still, screaming and pointing when something so totally harmless comes at you is no way to live.  I wish I could give you all the formula for getting over a minor phobia like that.  (If you have a major phobia, please seek help.)  I don't even remember when I told myself I was going to get over it.  I just did.  Oh, don't get me wrong.  I still don't want them on me.  And I'm sure if I felt something crawling up my arm and realized it was a moth, I'd still scream.  But at this point, I'm a functioning phobic.

And that's how I need to approach my fear of failure with regard to writing.  Failing won't kill me anymore than a moth would.  Plus, holding onto all that fear is stopping me from enjoying my writing - like how fear of moths would stop me from enjoying being outside right now.  Either way, it's irrational and it needs to stop.  Or I at least need to get to a point where I can function within my fear.

Now I just need to figure out how to do it.

What about you?  What are you afraid of?  Have you ever tried to stop yourself from being afraid - at least to get to a point where you can function in the face of your fear?

*I'd post a picture of the miller moth, but I don't want to look at the damn thing every time I stop by my own blog.  :shudder:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Getting Ready to Bloom

With the first iris of the season slowly getting ready to bloom, I'm forcing myself to turn away from the blahs of winter.  Because, let's face it, I've let myself go.  I haven't been keeping up with the blog, I haven't been writing, I haven't been exercising.  Hell, I haven't even been cleaning.  (Lucky for me, my husband has been too busy himself to care.) Enough is enough.

Time to stop laying on the couch, watching Grey's Anatomy reruns and eating whatever I can find to stuff in my face.  Time to create TO-DO lists and then actually DO them.  Yep, it's time to pull my head out of my special place and get to work.

Like the iris, it's time to make with the blossoming already.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Top Ten Lessons in Civility

When I was a kid, my parents taught me certain lessons that seem to be missing from some other people's upbringings.  Here are my top ten lessons. 

  1. If it doesn't belong to you, don't touch it.
  2. Keep your hands to yourself.
  3. If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
  4. It's not nice to spit.  (Unless you've been shoveling out stalls, then it's necessary - but still not nice.)
  5. A lady doesn't swear.  (At least not in public.)*
  6. There are three things you shouldn't discuss in polite society: Sex, Religion and Politics.
  7. A lady doesn't kiss and tell.  (i.e. private things are best left private)
  8. Don't cut across other people's property to save time.  (Refer back to the first lesson.)
  9. It's not nice to talk about other people behind their backs.
  10. Opinions are like assholes - everybody has one.  (This last one was from my father, and he was exempt from the whole swearing thing.)

What are some lessons you learned that you wish other people would've learned, too?

*I didn't learn lesson #5 too well.  I blame Dad.  ;o)

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Can't? Oh Yeah? Watch Me.

There probably isn't much I hate more than being told I can't do something.  I'd tell you to ask some of my old therapists, but the ones who told me that I couldn't do stuff... Well, I fired them. 

Not that I'm irrational.  If someone tells me I can't do something and presents rational reasons, I might be persuaded, but to tell me 'You can't do that' and just assume I'll agree?  Yeah, that doesn't go over really well.  My answer...

Watch me.

So, over the weekend, I was looking for something to bake.  I had a box of cake mix, but I didn't want to make plain old yellow cake.  And I sure as hell didn't feel like baking a batch of cake cookies. Again.  Then I remembered I had a few butterscotch pudding cups in the fridge that we probably weren't going to eat.  And, knowing that people often put dry pudding mix into cake, I wondered whether I could just use the pre-made pudding. 

I went online to find out if it was possible.  First, I hit - my go-to place for new recipes.  No one did anything with pre-made pudding, except for like parfaits and junk.  Then I gave Google a whirl, because ya know, if it's out there anywhere, it's on Google.  Not a recipe to be found for what I wanted to do.  So I typed in something like...

How to use pudding cups with cake mix.

And I stumbled across a forum where some poor woman asked the same question.  The answers she got back: No.  No, it'll be too wet.  There's no way to do it.

Oh yeah? thinks I.  Watch me.

So, I put the cake in a mixing bowl and thought about it for a minute.  Now the directions on the box called for 3 eggs, one cup of water, and a half cup of oil.  Pudding is already pretty wet, so I knew I needed to cut back on that somewhere. I added two eggs (because that's all I had in the house) and a quarter cup of oil.  Then I scooped in two pudding cups.  That didn't seem quite wet enough, so I added another.  Looking good, but still dry and that was my last butterscotch pudding, so, I went back to the box directions and got that cup of water ready.  As I blended, I added water until it looked about the consistency of any standard box mix.  I ended up using the whole cup, so it was perfect.

I poured it into the pan, put the pan in the oven according to the box directions and waited. 

I checked it at 25 minutes.  Still pretty wet in the center.  I checked it again about 7 minutes later.  The toothpick looked clean, the center was firm but not hard, and it was nicely browned.  I took it out and set it aisde to cool. 

When I went back to check it later, the damn thing had fallen down from its nicely curved top to pretty-well flat across.  Truth be told, my heart sunk a little.  I thought it was going to be dense and gross.  Screw it, I thought while I threw some stuff together to make a frosting to go with a butterscotch cake.  Worst that could happen is the texture is off.  I already knew it tasted good from licking the beaters. 

I slapped on the chocolate/butterscotch frosting I threw together and sent a little prayer to the baking gods.

Yep, it was flatter than a normal cake, but oh my god, it was the best cake in both flavor and texture that I'd ever eaten.  In fact, I had a piece last night and two today.  Even now, as bed time is approaching, that damn cake is calling me. 

And to those people who said it couldn't be done?? Eat my cake!

On second thought, forget I said anything.  Keep thinking you can't make this cake, and then it will be MINE, ALL MINE!  Bwa ha ha.

So, next time you want to try something and the world is telling you that you can't do it, give it a go anyway.  You might fall flat on your face, sure, but then again, you might end up with the best thing you've ever had.  And if it's not quite what you hoped, learn from the experience, so in the future, you can tweak your tries.  Sooner or later, you will succeed.

Oh, btw, if the person who told me I couldn't ever write a whole book happens across this... he can bite me.


So, your turn...  Ever do something after people told you that you couldn't do it?  Details, people, I want details.  I can't be the only one who's this bullheaded.  LOL

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Living in the Projects

No.  I'm not talking about government assisted housing.  Even though I don't work (at least not for cashola), we're not even close to the financial straights it would take for us to move into one of those places.

I'm talking about the myriad of little things I'm smack in the middle of.  I do one for a while, move to the next for a while, jump into the next...  So, yeah, I'm living in the projects I've created. 

It's April, so it's Ancestry season.  I'm tracing my tree.  I'm tracing the Hubs' tree.  I even traced my daughter's tree from her sperm donor up (which wasn't easy since there's no one I can ask).

Last month, or maybe the month before, I offered to do some tweaking of my nephew's senior pictures for my mother.  He didn't opt for the retouching.  Hmpfh, boys.  And since I took and retouched Daughter's senior pics, I was the obvious choice for the project.  I got the pics Thursday.  There are only three, and it's not hard, it's just time consuming.

Reseeding the lawn.  It's a yearly thing.  Living out here in the high desert makes keeping even the semblance of a lawn alive a pain - unless you have underground sprinklers, which we don't.  So every year, I pick up a bag of seed and hope for the best.  This year I'm trying a new product from Scott's.  It's the one with the dirt and fertilizer included along with the seeds, so it should be easier.  So far, no baby grasses, but I have hope.

I've also been making short excursions into the countryside.  I've got two goals for this.  Right now the birds are migrating, so I've been trying to see what new birds I can add to my birding lifelist.  And I'm trying to get some quality photographs while I'm out.  Ever since the guy at Cornell argued with me about my sighting of a Western Screech Owl in the area, I'm determined to get photos of the unusual birds that pass through here.  Plus, if any of them turn out really good, I'll print them and frame them. 

Oh yeah, and there's this other thing I'm supposed to be doing.  It's called WRITING.  Remember that stuff?  Yeah.  It keeps trying to make it's way to the top but it just gets shuffled back down again.

We're not even going to talk about the blanket I was supposed to be crocheting for my sister.  The strips are all crocheted.  It just needs to be sewn together and shipped to Michigan.  But it's sitting over there in my crocheting bag.

Of course, there are all the typical day to day things I should be doing as well, but since this is about 'projects', we're just going to forget about those for now.  (Why not, I've been forgetting about them so far. LOL)

And for all that, I still don't feel particularly busy or productive.  Maybe that's because I'm not making writing a priority in all that mess.  :shrug:

What projects are keeping you busy these days?  Anything fun? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Wing Slayer Hunters are Finally Back!

Jennifer Lyon writes this awesome series about a group of guys called the Wing Slayer Hunters.  I'm not the best at boiling stories down, so I'm going to borrow from Jen's own site for more information...

Once they were immortal guardians; hunters of demon witches and protectors of innocent earth witches. For centuries, the hunters and witches worked together to safeguard earth from demons, in particular, Asmodeus.

And then a dark curse destroyed the bond, turning the ancient allies into enemies. For the blood and sex curse cast by demon witches caused witch hunters to crave the power contained in witch blood. If they give in and kill a witch to harvest her blood, they go rogue and forfeit their eternal souls.

The witches that once banished demons and assisted mortals, now have lost their familiars and high magic.

They must hide from the powerful men who once protected them, but now hunt them for their blood.

No one is left to stand between mortals and demons.

Until one group of witch hunters rises to become the guardians once more. With these words:

“I vow my allegiance to Wing Slayer, god of the witch hunters. I take the ancient oath of protection for the innocent and justice for the damned. And I swear to fight the curse to my death.”

They become…

Wing Slayer Hunters

Anyway, a while back, the stupid publisher didn't renew the contract for her series, so people like me who were addicted to the stories were left hanging in the wind.  There were still too many stories left to tell.  What happened to Linc?  When will Ram find his witch?  What the hell happens!?

Needless to say I was sad... and pissed.

Now, today, Jen has released via self-publishing - bless her wonderful witchy heart - Forbidden Magic!  Ram's story.

Wing Slayer Hunter, Ram Virtos, must find his soul mirror witch and convince her to mate with him before his Thunderbird tattoo kills him. But while that witch might be able to save Ram’s life, it is the mysterious Ginny Stone who inflames his passion.

Ginny has been deeply fascinated by Ram for months, but dared not act on it or she’d be torn from her mortal life on earth and thrust into her dreaded destiny as a half-breed angel. But when her beloved brother’s soul is at stake, she must do the one thing she both fears and desires…

Take Ram to her bed.

Sure, these books are a little spicier than I usually go for.  (And yeah, Smashwords has a disclaimer that this is unsuitable for readers under 17.)  But it's not the spice that keeps me reading, it's the plot and the characters and the love stories woven into each book.

Now, if you're interested - and still reading after this long post - Forbidden Magic is available at the deep discount price of just 99 cents until May 1st.  It's Jen's way of rewarding her loyal readers and encouraging people who haven't fallen in love with her previous stories to give her a whirl.  If you have a Kindle or the Kindle for PC program, pick it up at Amazon today.  If you have a Nook, Barnes and Noble finally got the upload, so you can buy it at B&N now.  Otherwise, you can always buy it over at Smashwords.

Help a gal out by buying a copy and spreading the word, thereby making this novella so irresistible they can't help but publish the rest of this series.  Jen will appreciate it and so will I - cuz like I NEED to read the rest of these books.  Not knowing how everything turns out is killing me.

Disclaimer: Jen didn't ask me to do this.  I'm not getting anything for free.  I just love this series and want to see them sell really well so the publisher will keep publishing them so Jen can keep writing them - so I can keep reading them.  That's right.  It's all about me.  ;o)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Picture Pause - I Haz a Cup

The other day my neighbor and I were outside chatting when I heard a commotion across the road.  We looked over to see a squirrel trying to get a styrofoam coffee cup up a really tall tree.  By the time I got my camera, he was already partway up, but it was still the funniest thing I've seen in a while.

What do you think?  Neighborhood Beautification Squirrel?  Or was he just in desperate need of some caffeine?  You can't have a cup of coffee without the cup.  Now he just needs to find some Folgers.  ;o)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Hi all!  How the hell are ya?  Whatcha been up to lately?

Around here, I've been semi-busy working on the genealogy project.  Yesterday, I got the family tree back to the Salem Witch Trials - where my 8th great grandfather was a juror.  (Stupid bastard.) 

On a break from that, I took my camera and took pictures out in the surrounding area.  Got some really awesome shots of a bird I called Unknown Shorebird.  After some research I changed his name to Greater Yellowlegs.  A new bird to add to my lifelist.  Yay!  Plus I got some shots that are definitely worth framing.  Score!

I've also been reading - albeit not at the same rate as last month.  Hooo-eee, I read a lot last month.  Made my eyes go all squonky on me.  I definitely ought to invest in some glasses.  Either that or :gasp: stop reading so much. Perish the thought.

And most importantly, I've gotten back to writing again.  I'm not saying what I'm working on because I don't want to jinx it.  I will just say that as of last night I'm over 6K on it.  Which is more words than I've written in one stretch since like January. 

So, Spectacle readers, whazzup?  Got any news?  Been doing anything fun? 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Chocolate Savoring, Ham Inhaling, Family Togethering, Mind Relaxing Bunny Day

No matter what you believe, have a great day today.

And if you're celebrating Easter, save some ham for me.  ;o)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Picture Pause - Easter Bunny's Pre-Holiday Visit

I started to write a post about how writing is like swinging in the family tree which is like putting together a puzzle... but it got all rambling and by the end, I confused myself.  So, rather than subject any of you to that....

Here's the Easter Bunny when he stopped by the other day, checking out the lay of the land before the big day.

It seems like everything a go for tomorrow.  He'll be hopping his way to your house as fast as his little bunny toes can carry him.

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend - whether they celebrate Bunny Day or not.  

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Back on Track. Kinda.

Hi all.  First off, thanks for stopping by and continuing to hang in there when I haven't been the most consistent blogger.  Also, welcome to the new stalkers... errr, followers.  I hope you enjoy stopping by.

Well, I might not be consistent in my blogging, but I'm pretty consistent in my yearly mid-winter slacking.  For those of you who haven't been here over the years, I get my very own case of S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) after the start of the new year.  I try to write.  I do write.  Unfortunately, most of what I write sucks hard.

But this is April.  Spring is in the air (even if it did snow/slush last night) and I'm finally pulling my head out of whatever orifice it's been residing.  I started back to work.  I even feel good about the words I've put down so far.  Life is good and all that jazz.

As for the 'kinda', I have been working, but I've also caught the genealogy bug again this year.  For the next month, I'll be climbing the old family tree to see what I can find swinging from the branches.  Last year I discovered cousins who married each other, and a tenuous link to Mary, Queen of Scots.  Wonder what I'll find this time around.  I'm still looking for the rumored link to President Zachary Taylor, so maybe that'll be it.  I just wish I read German so I could figure out my father's paternal branch.  Great Grandpa Auguste was in the Franco-Prussian war (on the Prussian side), but he's also the first one here, so the records in English stop with him.

How are things going in your work?  Got anything fun distracting you?  Ever caught the genealogy bug?