Home

Page the Second

Deus volt; Deus mittit me.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

For Summer's Sake



This sweet little cutie pie is author Amelia Adams' (also known as Tristi Pinkston) great-niece, Summer. Summer's parents were killed two years ago in a horrible car accident when Summer was just one. She was in the car, but was miraculously saved, and she's now being raised by her grandparents, Amelia's sister and brother-in-law. She's the light of their lives.
Now it's time to finalize her adoption. Amelia is releasing her fourteenth Kansas Crossroads novella, A Joyful Noise. Pre-order now, and all the proceeds from the pre-order will be donated to help with the court costs. Any additional funds will go toward Summer's general needs, and the book will be delivered to your Kindle on October 3rd.
Will you help spread the word and send people to this page? Let's help Summer get her forever family!
(Note: No money will be exchanged through Facebook or this blog. Those who want to help will purchase the book through Amazon, and the author royalties will then be passed on to the family.)
Pre-order by clicking here!
Georgia Baker has worked at the Brody Hotel for several months now with only her employers knowing her secret - she's almost completely deaf. It doesn't stop her from doing her job, though, as she has learned how to read lips,…
amazon.com

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Estrella Memories


Estrella War number ??? I fought in 25 of them.
I haven't been to a medieval war in a few years. Before that I went every year and fought in sometimes two wars a year plus tournaments. Yes, I'm a girl, and yes, I fought in heavy armor and yes, I hit them with everything I had...:o)

Estrella War is fought traditionally in Phoenix, AZ at Estrella park, or in a place just outside of Phoenix called Queen's Creek. I've fought in both places. In the daytime it's hot enough to wonder if you'll see lava spilling out of a crack in the ground. At night it gets a little chilly--enough to put on a long-sleeved shirt, especially if you're chilling from exhaustion.
The Black Lance
The night air filled my ears with the sounds of laughter and drinking songs and my hair with the smoke of a thousand fires. The scents of the grass and hay bails mixed with that smoke will always remind me of how it felt at Estrella at night. I'd lie there gazing out at the torch light filtering through our red and gold pavillion, utterly spent, my muscles screaming until late, when the noise settled down.

We will have sat up, talking and laughing, telling the stories of battles and fights--no-kidding-there-I-was stories like the old epochs. Sometimes we'd shrug into our cloaks and go wandering, seeing the sights of jugglers, troubadors, acrobats and actors, or wandering the stalls of the mongers.
Sometimes the rain would patter down, filling the roads with sucking mud and the fighting field with a mass of slipping, muddy fighters, and the tent with a foot or so of filthy water. My armor would smell like muck, sweat, old duct tape, and wet leather. I always went out to fight in it, though. I couldn't sit back in camp and veg out. Not even bruises and (a couple of times) gashes in my head kept me from it.

This was actually a Baron's war.
We would march out in a long line, led by the King and Queen of Atenveldt and their fellow monarchs and retinues. Sometimes there were pipes and drums. Most of the time we sang. The heavy shield would knock against my cuisse and I'd carry my helm on the tip of my sword, slung over my shoulder.

We'd hit the field and find our units. My favorite times were when our commanding officer called our little unit and specifically plugged us into a task, like we meant something and were important to the 'cause'. We would tighten our straps and wield our swords and spears. I'd look left and right, down the long row of men gritting teeth and calling out challenges and insults. We jostled for a good position, trying to keep from getting knocked down and trodden under foot (me) and trying not to be fodder for arrows and rocks when the lay-on was called. You could see the guy next to you, smell his sweat, hear him messing with his chin guard or getting comfortable in his armor.

There was almost a hush before the first horn. Then the yelling and running, the beating of shields, the clash of armor and weapons meeting. We crashed together in a noise like a semi hitting a bus. Bodies and limbs everywhere, swords and spears slashing and jabbing. Sometimes  a man would fall dead and huddle under his shield or stride away with his weapons over his head. Sometimes we had to wait for a horn to blow the Dead-out signal, stacked like cord wood until then.

It was easy to forget that you weren't really going to die. I'd steel myself to berserk and just go plowing through, but mostly I advanced when there was a hole and try to kill and keep from dying. I'd try and partner with someone who knew what he was doing with his spear, and how to use a shield man. Those were the best, because I could shield him, and watch for incoming spears, trying to whack them down so the watching spear man could gack him. The spear, in turn, would shoot over my shoulder and kill people trying to spear me in the head.
The Lance going at it, probably in Baron's War
I knew what it was like to stare up at the sky through the grill in my helm, waiting for six or seven guys to pile on top of me trying to get through the gate--to feel them over me like a pile of smelly, cussing rocks and dirt. I was so thankful for that shiny helm and metal shield.

I also knew what it was like to run across a field, screaming--to then run up the massive shield in front of me and hack at the guy in back of it, until he died. I knew what it was like to charge down the side of a rock quarry, into the waiting shield wall, which we blasted into smithereens, then cleaned up the backfield. I know what it's like to fight at a river (wasn't stupid enough to go into it since I had just fixed my boots) and to fight in a castle. I've waited on a bridge, men so close around me that they could have held me up if I'd lifted my legs. We'd wait for movement, watching for their long spears to pick people off and trying not to be that clueless guy.

Happens to everyone. I've been killed by swords, spears, axes, hammers, a cannonball shaped like a large marshmallow, arrows, rocks, and ballista bolts. I also know what it was like to duck that arrow and watch it sail overhead to get someone behind me.
Waiting for Lay-on with a good friend


 Friday afternoons of the war, after the regular fighting had finished, there would be a Woman's tourney. I always tried to get a little rest and water between battle and the tourney, but it rarely worked. I'd mostly just sit in my armor and stew. 
The tourney was a bear pit, which meant that we paired off and fought as many fights as we possibly could as fast as we could and as well. We'd try to win, or at least to die quickly and win the next one. There were some incredibly talented fighters. I won third once. 
Some of the women wouldn't fight in the battles that day to be fresh. Not me. My fights would come after a full day of fighting. So it was a challenge just to stand up and keep swinging the sword so it would connect hard enough to cleave through her helm, or to out-fox her into letting down her guard.
I loved those tourneys, since most of the girls were at least my height. I could finally get some reach on some of them.

Then after the little awards ceremony, we'd slog home, shield slung, helm on sword or polearm. Sometimes I'd lean on my shield in the middle of the road, just trying to breathe. It would be all I could do to tear everything off before I collapsed in a camp chair and turned to mush. I'd sit and bemoan the fact that I had to get up and make dinner, or lazily chat and laugh with friends, as the swallows dipped and dodged and the pennons snapped above our tent.

After a bit, I'd rattle off to the showers, sometimes to a line in which we'd swap tales and compare bruises. It was always women's dress for the evening. Then I'd slip out of the tent adjusting a cotehardie or sideless surcoat over an underdress. We'd eat dinner and listen to the buzz of a thousand people chatting over a campfire or beginning to drink. We never did, but it was entertaining to watch others. The children would run around doing crazy things. I once watched a boy in my household knock himself out trying to impress a girl with a one-armed push-up. I won't mention his name...rofl


My Squire Brother, Mallock and I in the Atenveldt uniform
I miss the camaraderie. I miss being an integral part of something big. I miss the challenge and the struggle to be better than I was before. I miss my friends and standing in a shield wall with them, knowing they have my side and I have theirs. Knowing that if I drop dead, they might not have any protection anymore and we could find ourselves staring into each other's grills.

I've distanced myself, now, from old hurts and misunderstandings. My friends have mostly moved away or stopped playing. My body tries to betray me at every turn. Getting old, I guess. I still have my armor and recently got it back into fighting shape. I don't know. Maybe there is still a dragon to slay, somewhere. Twist my arm. (But not my knee.) Just don't expect me to hit you hard enough...;op


(I don't have many fighting pictures...because I was fighting, and because I never wanted my camera to get ruined, and because people were taking pictures of their spouses or other friends.)


Friday, September 1, 2017

Salted



This looked better before the camera.

Dreams can flavor a person's entire day. Week. Month. Especially as graphic as this one was:

I had gone by myself to some salt dunes. Miles and miles of hills stark white with salt stretched into the horizon. Even the air tasted salty. The sky seemed bleached bone white by the crystals. Dunes rose sometimes fifty meters in the air. A few people in the distance slid down the sides, using whatever slick item they had. It reminded me of tubing down snowy hills in Colorado. Only salt seemed less forgiving than snow, when we wiped out at the bottom.

I remember feeling utterly alone. It was just me and the sky and the salt. Some of the people shouted for me to come join them. I decided to take them up on it, and made my slow way down the side of the dune, trying to navigate through the sifting granules. For some strange reason, instead of normal play clothes like shorts or jeans, I wore a long pencil skirt that hampered my climbing and trudging ability. It took me quite some time and effort, but the view was spectacular. The breeze whipped sharp crystals into my skin and combined with sweat to make me sticky. Still, I had fun 'skiing' down the slopes.

At last I saw where everybody seemed to be heading. High tides had undercut a giant petrified dune, leaving a veritable mountain of salt which seemed to have stabilized into a sort of half dome with a deep indent. For some reason nobody thought anything of climbing to the top and jumping around. Crowds of them slid down the back side and stood looking out over the water and dunes and calling to others to come and see. 

Even stranger, herds of people walked around inside the undercut beneath the mountain, which formed a sort of giant cavern.

I don't know why I thought it would be a good idea to follow the group into the twilit dimness beneath tons and tons of questionable crystal. Curiosity, I guess. It must have seemed like a viable idea at the time, because I went. I got about halfway to the back, when a chilling thought hit me like a falling safe. 

"This mountain is going to avalanche."

I freaked and ran toward the opening. My skirt sucked onto my legs and tried to trip me. I hiked it up and sprinted full out, my breath scraping through my throat, slipping and bogging in the granules. The people I passed stared at me, their mouths O's of surprise. I ran faster, the salt stinging my throat. I screamed, "Get out! Get out! Run!" as I ran past them. Nobody moved.

About five yards from the opening, I heard it.

A massive, heart-stopping rumble filled the air--the kind a skyscraper might make during demolition. Thick, cloying clouds of salt boiled up. I tripped and dove for the opening, sliding, my arms flailing. A roiling, slithering, pounding avalanche of crystals and chunks caught me, rolling over and around me, filling my mouth and eyes and ears with salt.

The thundering seemed to last forever as the heavy mountain tumbled down on top of me. I tried to swim, like you do if you're caught in a snow avalanche, but I couldn't seem to reach the end. 

Finally quiet descended, almost as choking as the darkness. I couldn't move, see, hear, or barely breath. The weight of the mountain crushed down on me. I panicked, screaming my lungs bloody, until I realized I had to stop. I needed to understand how to dig out. I needed to conserve oxygen. I had to live.

 My first piece of good luck was that the salt somehow managed to form a two foot by three foot pocket around my head and shoulders. I had a tiny air supply. I wiggled until I got my hands free and grabbed my cell phone from a pocket in my skirt--my second piece of good luck (I've never owned a cell phone). 

I tried calling out, but couldn't. All I could do was turn on the light and some music (I don't even know if that's possible). I hoped the music would show rescuers that I was alive and where to find me.

Then I worked on freeing myself. I couldn't move my feet, and I was petrified that scrabbling around would collapse my tiny air bubble. I prayed and prayed that that wouldn't happen as I nibbled away at the outer edges, chipping as far as I could reach, a little at a time.

I could barely keep myself from jabbering in a complete frenzy as the tons of salt pressed on me, squeezing the life from me like a wrung out sock. The closeness robbed me of sanity and tried to steal my hope, nearly succeeding.

The music played on--my sole anchor. 

The light flickered and went out.

I finally heard a couple of people hunting, their voices growing louder and softer as they moved.



I'll never know if I got out, because I woke up. I was so glad to breathe free, unfettered by tons of salt. I power packed oxygen and breathed a prayer of thanks in abject gratitude that I wasn't buried under a mountain of crystals.



Thursday, August 31, 2017

Leptospirosis, Hurricanes, and Books, oh my!



This is a picture of the flooded Houston Temple taken by a Brother Boyd. When I find his first name, I'll post it.
I know. I haven't been here. In my mind, I've been rowing around Houston pulling people off of roofs. Maybe we actually SHOULD take our rowboat over there and help hurricane victims. I'd need new oars first, and a better car. And knees. But really just an offer. Barely even any arm-twisting. Can you get Leptospirosis from that water?

In reality the last two months have been crazy busy. We have a new Temple in town, which means we've been attending the cultural celebration, dedication, and visiting the new facility. It's a GORGEOUS place. More than that, it's a place of deep worship and unsurpassed peace. (It's not the one pictured above. That one is simply tying two thoughts together in a lovely way.)

Actually I don't come on this computer until after I've written all day, usually. I find it's much more productive to do that rather than sit for most of the day and rummage through other writers' newsletters telling me about their 15 new books and how I should join their million-chore extravaganza chucklecopter book giveaway. It greatly cuts down on my own productivity and ability to buy their books.

And what really bites my tail is when these authors decide to use something devastating like the flooding in Houston to sell their books. "I'm giving half my royalties from this book to the victims in Texas." My question is, how do they get their ten cents to where it needs to go? Also, I get my royalties quarterly if I'm rolling in luck. They must either have a better royalty system than I do, or they're just capitalizing on a horrid situation. If the last, I am disgusted by their mercenary practices. If the first, I bow jealously to a superior system.
I couldn't catch the clouds of hoppers that jittered up with every step I made.

The monsoon rains have made our random-generated pumpkin patch (leaves the size of dinner plates) explode, but have now gone away. I'd gladly take about a foot of Texas's water. I had to duct tape the hose back together to water the patch. Anywho, because of these giant leaves and succulent stalks, our yard is now full of grasshoppers. They're EVERYWHERE chomping into the stalks and hopping up my skirt or shirt. Bleah! And the pumpkins are dying off. I'd rather the grasshoppers die than our surprise pumpkins. (We toss our pumpkins off the roof and the spot near the wall is where we tossed the carnage.)

And on to a downward dog position. I'm on here in the morning to research Leptospirosis, a dog/human disease that kills dogs. You get it from dog or wild animal feces or urine. I'm petrified that my sweet dogeroo might have sniffed the wrong puddle. My dog pees on every vertical thing...sigh. I'm sure other dogs do that too. My oldest son kindly took our dog to the park where he loves to chase balls. And pee on things (the dog pees, not the boy). Now the dog is coughing a little bit, has some mild diarrhea, and seems depressed. I wonder how you take a dog's temperature. I'm guessing it's through his bung hole. I think I'd rather row around Houston. We might have to look into a vaccination. And a rowing vacation.

Welp. I'm off to write. And call a vet. And smash about a bazillion mosquitoes. The grasshoppers are a write off. Except I'm smashing the one that just jumped down my cleavage while taking the picture.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

One Wizard's Treasure



Before you ask, I've had an excuse.

I finished writing SLIPSTREAM (cheers and dancing in the streets) and dug into EVERLOST with a vengeance (The first is sci fi and the second is a gamer-geek love story. I'm probably halfway through that one). 

But also there's this:

I was brought up to be clean and tidy. We had to have our beds made and everything in its place. There were consequences if we didn't respond to the PRODDING.

Segue to my married life. I have a lovely husband for whom decades-old dust bunnies older than some of his children don't bother him. Which can sort of be a good thing sometimes. But for a person brought up to clean clean clean, it's nerve-wracking. Picture a wizard sitting in his cobweb-draped (some of them occupied) study with open tomes splattered with candle wax, magic wands, animal skulls, a gargoyle or two, musical instruments, various other interesting objects, and thousands of books. He's also reading a computer magazine surrounded by computers in various forms of undress and viability. This wizard of mine can untie just about any Gordian knot of a problem, but if you touch his stuff, you'll find your hand resting on the floor next to your head.

So imagine my exquisite joy upon surveying the empty room of my recently married daughters. By empty, I mean still full of their extant things but evacuated. Slowly, like a glacier moving, I dealt with it all, moving this to move those things to move that. 

Next I went caving in my room, part of which hadn't seen a dust rag in decades. I found long-buried treasures (Yup. Forget about going for the lost treasure of the Sierra Madres and the lost Teton treasure. Found along with a plethora of single socks whose mates have languished forever in the sock basket) and a multitude of things we'd been looking for.

When I moved the bed, I found we'd had termites and they'd gotten into my school teaching supplies. ARGH! Luckily they had decided they were done and gone the way of the dodo, leaving no extant macaroni sculptures. Because of those, I went and got several plastic bins and loaded everything salvageable under my bed with room to spare. Now people actually realize there was a master bath in there somewhere...:) And it's no longer full of computer things.

I walk around my house several times a day, now, just exulting over the fact that I can see more than a couple of feet of carpet. I try to think up more things to say good-bye to or fix every day. 

I'm going to have a gar(b)age sale and the resultant money will go to sending my son on a mission. And the second reason is that I'm getting rid of loads of treasure (clutter) which I'd stockpiled in my living room for as long as I could stand it. Away go the bunk beds and shoe rack and some clothing, jewelry, roller skates, dolls, toys, electric pianos, and anything else I can get rid of, plus a few things I've been keeping in case of nuclear holocaust or something akin to it.

And there is a den filling with the wizard's paraphernalia. It's very tempting to go in and help him out by dusting or putting things away. But it's his, now, and it has a door with a lock. I don't have to obsess over whether the dust bunny civilization that lives there is going to rise up and strangle us all in our sleep. 

Now I just get to worry about the cupboards falling off my kitchen wall and the microwave that has a hole in the bottom of it that might or might not explode into a major fireball next time I use it.

Breathe. Just breathe and then go in and calloo over the vast emptiness that is our bed room.  And then get back to writing before the hubby gets home and I have to make dinner.


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Turning Molehills into Mountains of Muck



I've been solving problems in my house for...well...forever. It's tiny and full of junk stacked on other stuff and squirreled away. But it's our junk. Mine and The Man's and the kids'.

The problem is this: I'm trying to whittle down the amount of garbage I keep. The kids are too--by shoving it off on me. Which means I'm plowed under by bits of junk everywhere. I should just haul all of this down and donate it. I'm standing with one foot on the precipice of I-no-longer-give-a-crap and the other on
I'm-determined-to-make-some-money-out-of-all-this-muck.

So I've made some difficult decisions for myself, and there will be more in the future. I live with another person who not only holds onto his crud, but hates it if I touch his stuff. It matters not a toenail to him that we have dust bunnies older than most of our kids in our bedroom. It matters not that mice have made two bolt holes amidst his things.

My toleration for filth has come to an end. The fuse is lit and the spark is on its way. How do I remedy this? It's tearing me apart. Either I live in a decades old sea of dust and grime, or I anger my husband, both incendiary possibilities.

A partial not-easy-to-arrive-at solution came to light as our last daughter married and took herself off, leaving the detritus she didn't care about for me to deal with. In fact, she expected me to harbor her junk indefinitely and didn't care to make her own arrangements.

The room which once held three growing girls and their prodigious amount of crap was now available for use. I've worked like a slave to drag everything out of there. Years of things they no longer wish to deal with. It would have been nice to have help, since it's their trash. But no.

So all the things I'm giving away or saving for the garage sale are now in our living room. In a massive Chinese puzzle of move-that-there-so-I-can-move-this-here-so-we-can-move-those-things-over-there, I've managed to puke forth into that finally relatively clean room, the preponderance of the husband's massive collection of computer paraphernalia and much of his other junk.

I've worked like a demon to find new places for things, solving logistics problems that would stump a three star general. In all of this I've gotten very little help and eyeball-deep complaints. "You can't move that there." If I hear that one more time, the answer won't be "Watch me," or "Get the freak out of my way, I'll do it myself," it'll be "Bite me!" And after calming down a ton, I'll say, "As you could see if you opened your ungrateful mind, I've worked miracles everywhere. You should not only be thanking me, but paying me with dates, massive buckets of ice cream, many kisses, and happy complements." (At least I'll say that in my head.)

So now the whole train wreck which has slung wreckage all over my kitchen, living room, the Boy's room, and hallway is waiting on one thing. Hubby must decide on where his massive mountain of magazines will go instead of where it is now. And although we NUMBERED THE STACKS and put every magazine back in the same place it was in before, he won't let me move them again.

Which means I can't move on until his overwhelmed mind is unblocked and he moves the stack. Like I haven't already dealt with enough crap to fuel a third world country. He started to do it and got about seven magazines and some paper moved. There are thousands. I have camp for the next two days and a son coming home from University with his bride. I want the wreckage cleared, but I'm pretty much the only one who cares.

"Sounds like you've got a problem," you say if you are stupid or really good at dodging cinder blocks.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Ghosts of Childhood Gone


Like I ever wore toenail polish to clean.

 I worked like a freaking dog to get all the junk out of the girl's room today. It was especially difficult since I sat in that finally mostly empty, echoing room (mostly—except for the bones of the bunk beds lying stacked against the wall and the school desk that Lon will still use in there when it's his den. Mostly empty) and mourned the tearing out of chunks of my family history. I feel like gaping crevasses have opened in my heart—voids I didn't realize would matter as much. As each person left, because there was still someone else in the room, it didn't sink in as deeply, or ran under the surface like glacier water. But now, sitting here with the vacuum and the dog, I can't keep the emptiness away.
I stare at the nail holes in the walls, remembering bulletin boards full of dance tickets, date souvenirs, goals, pictures of where they wanted to be married, and masquerade masks. Dust fuzzes the wall where the bookcase once sat, full of books anywhere from Good Night Little Monster to Twilight, and vases full of dead bouquets. A spider web waves in the breeze coming from the (low functioning) cooler that would have elicited screams if they'd been there.
That room echoes with violin and cello music and the voices of daughters talking and reading and fighting over whose shoes they really were. It seems like yesterday we were making doll furniture out of found trash, (I found a bag of those furnitures and remembered how hard we worked to make cool things) and they were avoiding playing with or wearing the things I'd given them and writing interesting little hate booklets or painting their toenails (and pictures) while listening to music.
Each little piece of flotsam reminds me in some way of something they did in there, mostly unremarked at the time. Notes about boys, things scrawled on the under side of the bunk bed, loads of glow bracelets they probably used to try and read by, stickers on everything, clothes I'd never seen before or not for a long time. I wonder at the secrets that room holds but can't share. I just sit there and weep as the ghosts slip away into a misty past along with Grandma's doll house full of sunglasses and old jewelry. The house echoes, now, not with laughter and yelling, but with silent memories.
And the worst part is, I think I'm the only one who cares. And it's too late. That life is gone forever. No one is going to come back and tell me they actually want this crap sitting in my living room. They are in the business of shucking it off like moldy corn silk.
But I? I look at each piece of flotsam and make a choice. Will I actually use that? If not, can I call them back for it? Can it bless some other little girl's life (maybe their own)? Should I relegate it to a funeral in the trash? It seems they made these decisions long ago. But I wonder if these shuckings were informed by care and love or by a need to move on and separate? By being born in a different era than mine? 
I actually played with many of those dolls, rather than watching horror movies about them and then relegating them to oblivion because of their “creepy eyes.” I used the cradle with my name painted lovingly on it by my mom when I was three. I think my father built it. I wonder if any of my girls will even want it. Like me, the cradle has little to zero value to them, having been replaced by a cell phone or a computer.
Kids these days have their phones to play on. They actually need little else, according to them. I find that infinitely sad. They don't value the things we learned growing up, as we played with our old fashioned toys. It's a new, slick world, where they grow up way too fast, jammed into another person's set of parameters. They don't need to train their mind's eye to see anything. Someone has already shown them everything through other eyes.
So. Soon there'll be a garage sale. It'll be when the monsoon rains have cleared the air of fire smoke and brimstone. Then some Mexican man will swing by in his truck and haggle his way into taking much of it for ten bucks. Maybe some little Mexican girl will see what my girls have lost sight of.
And I? I'm left with a bored doggy and the regret of chances lost, roads not taken, opportunities fled down the corridors of time. Is the damage irrevocable? How do I live this next annal in my book of life so the pages are less stained with tears of lost years? Who am I, now, without them?
How I probably should clean this place.