return of the blogger

It’s been nearly two years since I last posted. I would claim that I don’t know how that happened, or where the time went. But the truth is that life happened, and time passed, as it is wont to do.

So much happened in those two years, since 2 March, 2014. My mother passed away 12 June, 2014. It was the end of her suffering, but it was only the beginning of what may have been the hardest 18 months that I’ve ever lived through. The nearly five years preceding her passing was hard enough, but I’ve had to learn to really live without her. I’m still figuring it out, and I don’t know if I ever will. Most days I’m fine, but there are times when it really hits me that she isn’t here, and that she’s gone for good. I don’t necessarily cry or get misty-eyed when this happenestead I will feel that distinctive heaviness that presses in when faced with abiding grief. That’s worse, in some ways, because crying isn’t a thing that tends to happen at those times, or at least not for a few days.

But I’m surviving. Right now that’s enough, although lately I’ve felt the need to be something other than depressed. I wonder what my personality actually is when it’s not overwhelmed by depression and anxiety? Will I find that I am actually a naturally bubbly and more outgoing person than I am now, and in that reflect Mom? In any case, I’m tired of the persistent negativity that my brain feeds me, and I am going to force it to work in the other direction, starting by attempting, once again, the #100happydays challenge. During it, I’ll post at least one picture a day to my Instagram account of a moment in time that makes me happy. I’m also going to match each negative statement that I put out into the world on Twitter with a positive one — or more than one, really. But today, I begin.


I’ve always enjoyed history, and studying it. But all of my mental health problems seem to have dampened that, until recently. I resisted for months, but eventually it was blund to happen. I listened to Hamilton, and thus tumbled headfirst into a new fandom. I have so many thoughts about this show, and I’ll be sharing them later. But know that right now I’m starry-eyed over Alexander Hamilton, the War for Independence, Lin Manuel Miranda and Leslie Odom, Jr — and that’s the short list. I wrote the first draft of the post in January, and now, at the first part of April, I can safely say that I still love it, and it is still as amazing as ever.

sunday during the winter that will never end

In October or November of just last year, I was positive that we were headed for a long, hard winter. Thankfully, this hasn’t been as long or hard as the winter of which Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote in The Long Winter, but it certainly has been long enough! This weekend yet another winter storm is bearing down on the Ohio River Valley, and stretches across a good portion of this part of the United States. Right now we’re getting freezing rain, but sleet and snow are also expected. With any luck, the electricity won’t go out. But considering this winter’s track record, we’ll lose power.

Cats Pig Pen (white) and Moo Moo (gray) having a grooming session before their nap.

Today, though, I sit in a house that, even if we lose electricity, will still be warm(er) and will be full of people and conversation. And cats. Can’t forget the cats. They are right now sitting beside me on a blanket on the couch, sleeping. My father is watching the pre-race show, before he takes his nap while watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix today. My niece and her mother are taking a nap. I’m tripping around the internet, keeping an eye on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and tapping out my thoughts here. Moo Moo the kitten has a smile on her face as she naps away the afternoon. Every so often she stretches and whines, gives a little yawn before settling back down to her sleep.

And outside, the rain falls and freezes, and the storm moves through. Eventually there will be snow. It’s a peaceful day, so far.

meet in the middle

Last week, Sarah Green (You might know her husband better. He’s John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars), who used to work for the Indianapolis Museum of Art, debuted a new series on Youtube, in partnership with PBSDigital. It’s called The Art Assignment, and it’s pretty neat. Every week she (and John) meet with artists who talk a little bit about what they do, where their sort of art fits, art historically, and then will give everyone an assignment. If you’re interested, you can watch last week’s video for yourself:

On Wednesday, after I watched the video, I messaged my friend Lori on Facebook. We agreed to do it because Art! and also because we hadn’t seen each other in awhile, despite living within half an hour of one another. So I used the website listed in the dooblidoo (idk what it is, that’s what John and Hank Green call it and I love them, so.) and it told me that the exact geographical midpoint between where Lori and I live is in the middle of the Ohio River. So I googled for a different website, and that one told me that the driving midpoint was on the highway, on an exit ramp.

On the left, the geographical midpoint, which would have put us in the middle of the Ohio River. On the right, the driving midpoint, which would have put us in the middle of a busy exit ramp. Also, possibly illegal to stop there except for an emergency.

In the end, we cheated, just a little. Not even a quarter of a mile away from the driving midpoint was a gas station/restaurant. We decided to meet there, at one p.m., on a Sunday afternoon. Yep, you read that right. We agreed to meet at a restaurant right in the middle of Sunday after-church feeding time. We’re geniuses. Lori asked if she should bring anything with her. I said no. I then changed my mind and said to bring something superhero-related, if she and her husband had anything of that nature laying around their home. (I figured they would. Like me, they fall squarely into the geek-and-nerd category.)

Lori was there first. I parked next to her car and went inside. No Lori. Confused, thinking that maybe the car I parked next to wasn’t hers, I went back outside. And there she was, about as confused as I was. She was wearing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer t-shirt, and let’s be real, okay? Buffy’s got to be a superhero. I mean, super-human strength, witty repartée. I mean, the Scooby Gang were Joss Whedon’s original Avengers (and then he got to play with Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson… that lucky, lucky man). So, Buffy shirt. And I… I was wearing the Captain America hoodie that I got for Christmas. (Lori also brought a Batman mask, so both DC and Marvel were actually pretty well represented here.)

Your fearless heroines, Lori (R) & Jess (L).

We decided to not eat at the Cool Spot — it was too crowded, and instead made our merry ways to Lori and Dave’s apartment. It’s a nice little space, and they’re doing work on it to make it even better. (What I like most about it, though, is that I always feel at home there, and welcome. In the end, we decided to brave town in our search for food — a successful endeavor, I might add — and afterwards, decided to roam around Crafts2000. And fitting, considering the nature of the day.

Lori the Zebra, riding a… horse?

In Crafts2000, you find many things. Most of them are wondrous, indeed. Paints and brushes, beads, flowers, baskets, glass. But our favorites were the foam hats and masks. You know the ones. For kids. We each chose our alternate identities, and while being a pirate was great, I think that Lori probably won this one. But the absolute, crystal clear winner of the day (at Crafts2000, at least, was Diego. Well, he was sort of Diego. Okay, he was Diego, but there was something wrong with him. Almost like he was… hungry. Hungry for… brains. VAMANOS!


So we fled back to the safety of home with our treasures, and since we are all three of us clearly adults, we colored. Why not? We colored and chatted and Dave made candy mustaches — what else are you going to do on a Sunday afternoon? By then it was starting to get dark, the temperature was dropping, and it had been raining for a good part of the afternoon. I had to drive home, and in the interests of Not Totaling the Car and Not Dying, I decided to leave. But not before we put into action the superhero portion of our day.

We’re men! We’re men in TIGHTS!

Like the superheros that we are, Lori and I saved the day… somehow. Even we aren’t entirely certain how, but it definitely included leaping and running and throwing shields and being Batman. We paused for the requisite photos for our adoring public, and then we donned our disguises OVER our disguises and vanished into the night. And that, my friends, is how I completed the first Art Assignment.

Say, Batman, that’s one sweet ‘stache you got going on!

So, what’d YOU do with your Sunday?

the book meme

Just a few weeks ago, there was a book meme running rampant on Facebook. The idea was this: someone tagged you, and you listed ten books that, for whatever reason, have stuck with you. You weren’t supposed to think too heavily on the list, just list the books without any fear of judgement. And in the same post you, yourself were supposed to tag ten other people. I was tagged. Twice. And then I made my list (on my phone because that’s where lists are kept, you know). And then I promptly forgot to post it to Facebook. Oops.

Christmas came (and went, as it does), and now we are into a new year, and I have made some promises to myself. I don’t like using the word resolution because it has generally negative connotations. You know what I mean. You resolve to do something at the beginning of the year that will vastly improve your life, and then a week later, you stop. Boom. You’re done with the resolutions and you go back to Life As You Know It. (Full disclosure: on Facebook I did use the word resolutions.)

My promises were to write and blog more. And to document every single book I read on Goodreads or Shelfari. By default, I’ll be doing this on Goodreads, and I have entered a challenge to read 50 books in 2014. If you want to follow along with my reading journey, I am here. Friend me!

As for blogging more, it starts here and now. I’m writing with a group online, and that is good, but blogging needs to be more of a thing. With that in mind, I now present to you the list of books that I should have posted on Facebook. Only I am going to give a little reasoning behind why with them.

Happy new year, friends!

  1. Incarnations of Immortality Series by Piers Anthony – (This series focuses on a group of five people who take on immortal offices – Death, War, Fate, Nature, Time – and their struggle to keep Satan (Incarnation of Evil) from hurtling the world into Hell.) When I was a teenager, really just discovering that I am a nerd, I discovered Piers Anthony. In truth, he was a good introduction to the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. He opened the door to a lot of authors and series for me, and for that I’ll always be grateful. But he is not an author I would choose today. My reasoning is simple. I am re-reading this series, and while I love the idea and the writing itself is good, I find myself having issues over Anthony’s portrayal of women. I can’t decide if he’s being satirical, or if he’s just being a misogynist. If you’ve read these books, what do you think? Am I reading too much into it?
  2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – This was one of my absolute favorite books as a child. It remains so. Anne Shirley is one of my absolute favorite characters, and I can’t wait to introduce my nieces to these books.
  3. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Grand, sweeping story of the Civil War and Reconstruction South. There are, naturally, issues with the story, but there is something about Scarlett and Rhett that I can’t resist.
  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – A classic, and one of my favorite stories with some of the most memorable characters of all time. What’s not to love? Yes, the language can be difficult to get through, but it’s definitely worth it.
  5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – I love P&P, but Sense and Sensibility is my favorite. I love Elinor and Edward Ferrars’s romance so much.
  6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – Forever and always one of my favorite books, combining two of my favorite authors.
  7. Sarek by A.C. Crispin – I love Star Trek and some of my favorite books come from that franchise. And those books are always the ones that explore the characters’ lives. Sarek is one of the best and most poignant. It tells the story of Sarek and Amanda, Spock’s parents.
  8. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – I was first exposed to the mini-series. Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones will forever be Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call to me, no matter what else they do. It is, literally, one of the best shows I will ever watch. But the book is, if possible, even better. McMurtry created one of the best stories of all time in this.
  9. Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke – I have long grown out of reading these books, and their ilk. But they had a very strong influence on me. With any luck, I’ll be introducing my nieces to them, as well.
  10. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – I can not read these books enough. The world that Rowling created has affected me in so many ways, and allowed me to meet some really awesome and lovely people that I would not have met otherwise. The fact that these people “live in my computer” makes no difference, whatsoever.

What books or series have stuck with you?

kittens and snow help. and mozart.

I am now a few days into week two of NaNoWriMo, and I’ve written a total of about 4,000 words. They were hard-fought, and I earned each of those words.

Unfortunately, if I want to win, I need to be writing a lot more each and every day.

I’d like to win. But it isn’t absolutely necessary. Mostly, I’d just like to write, to feel like this is something that I can do. And I know it is, so I’ll keep writing, chipping away at the ultimate goal, but at the end of the month, I’ll just be happy that I started and that I am trying. And next year I’ll do it again, and with the knowledge that it IS possible. And I’ll win.

Yesterday the kitten was spayed. Poor thing, the anesthesia stuck around for several hours. Today is better, and she is able to move around more. But she is still very cuddly and wants to stick around people. And since I am the one who is home, I am the one she sticks around with. I am definitely no complaining, because even if you are trouble-free, kittens help.

Truth: kittens help.

Also helpful is snow. We had a minor snow event overnight, and this morning I woke up to about an inch of snow on the gound. Most of it has melted, but there is still some on the roof of the back building, and I can some on the ground. Every so often there is a very small flurry. And even if that snow isn’t meant to stick around, watching it fall is nice.

Truth: snow helps.

Yesterday and today I’ve had my internet radio (Slacker yesterday, Spotify today) trained towards classical. It’s nice to listen to because there are no words to distract me, there is just the music to provide just the small bit of background noise.

Truth: Mozart helps.

Things to look forward to this month: Hitting 10,000 words on my novel, which has turned into a Regency historical romance. It will be without the sex, though, because I don’t know how important that will be to the story. And if I don’t know how important it will be, then that means it maybe won’t. Just the story of the boy and the girl who meet and have things to overcome before they find their happy ever after. Happy ever afters are good.

Thanksgiving. Because of noodles and mashed potatoes. And green beans. So, those are basically my favorite Thanksgiving foods.

DOCTOR WHO. 50th anniversary on November 23, which I will not watch on November 23, because I have friends who won’t be able to watch that day for one reason or another, and I will watch it with them, and we will have food and games and Doctor Who and good times.

Writing When I Should Be Sleeping

We’re two days into November, and I am finding it interesting how my brain has slipped into world-building,novel-writing mode. Last night, after completing over 1100 words on my first day’s work on NaNoWriMo, I needed (Yes, needed. It was imperative that I write down these thoughts.) to get down on paper the ideas that were flowing. You know, world-building.

I can now say that I am excited about doing this. I don’t even know how it’s going to end, or even what all is going to happen. But I’m getting characters and places and events and it’s exciting. Naturally, it feels like all of my best ideas come to me just as I am getting ready to sleep. As I am, by nature, more nocturnal than not, I expect it. But when it is necessary that I be up in the morning at a reasonable or even early hour, this is more annoying than not.

As for today, I plan to enjoy it with my oldest and youngest niece, and watch as they play with and probably terrorize the cats. Writing will come later, and although it’s what I want to be doing now, I can live it.

Up, up, and awaaaaaay!


Every year, November comes around and I curse myself because yet again, I forgot to sign up for NaNoWriMo. And every year I tell myself that “Next year, I’m going to do it. I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo!” But it’s always a surprise and I look on in half relief, half envy as my friends type away at what are probably fantastic stories. (I say probably because I haven’t read any of their most-likely-awesome stories.)

This year held true to form. Last night Jillian Kuhlmann posted on Facebook her intention to participate in NaNoWriMo this year, and immediately I had that giddy, anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach. I want to do it this year, I thought. I replied, she encouraged me to do it, even if I were signing up at almost the last moment.

So I signed up. Join me as I attempt to write my first-ever novel.

Speaking of Jillian, she’s written an amazing book called “The Hidden Icon”. You can find out about it here. It’s good, I promise.

Previous Older Entries

POTSy not Potty

A little blog about living with POTS (and some other random musings)

The Sunday Baking Club

Bake. Drink. Share. Eat. Drink some more.

Return of the Girl

Oversharing in Outer Space

Banjos and Bordeaux

going home and going crazy

Pixie from the Sticks

The stories of things that could only happen to someone as aberrant as me.


An Exploration Of My Soul

Let's Radiate Don

One man's journey through cancer in all its glory.

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

A Happy and Thankful Life

My journey to live a more thankful life. News

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