Page the Second


A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Friday, July 26, 2013

When All Hope is Gone

We've been watching Shark Week on Netflix; enjoying learning about those sleek, uber-engineered powerhouses of the ocean. We've learned when not to go swimming and where, and the how to survive one of their attacks. Last night we watched a program on the USS Indianapolis tragedy.

I am so in awe of those men who held on past the death of hope. And more than that, helped others to survive. The odds were nearly insurmountable: their ship had sunk, pulling hundreds of men down with it; many were covered in burning oil; hungry sharks circled the entire time picking off the weak and dying; the thirst drove many to drink the sea water; exposure; hunger; and loss of morale. Survivors of this wreck should wear a badge of courage. Maybe not a physical badge, because any decoration would not be vehicle enough to carry all the loss and anguish and sense of deprivation. But they should carry it in their heart. My hat is off to them.

My biggest heroes are those who hang on past all hope of rescue.

Frodo and Sam in the LORD OF THE RINGS, dragged themselves clear to the brink of Doom to toss the ring into the flames. In the same book, it's Eowyn facing down a Nazgul carrying the Witch King, the most fearsome of Sauron's minions ever to have sprung from the foul pits of Mordor.

It's Joe Simpson solo finishing a disastrous climb down from Siula Grande (a peak in the Peruvian Andes) with a badly broken leg. He'd fallen down a crevasse and been left for dead. By the end of his excruciating trail, he was licking snow melt from rivulets coming down the rocks. You can get his book here.

How about Forlorn Hopes, those forsaken men who were sent up the glacis of the castle to scale the walls first. They went up while the ammunition was still plentiful; the oil was boiling, the quivers full of arrows, the rock piles high. They went with the idea that they were never coming back.

700-00275063 (RM)
Artist: Brad Wrobleski
If our Founding Fathers had bailed on the whole America thing because of torture, penury, injury, slander, and the threat of impending death, where would our country be today? Most of those men died penniless and alone. George Washington should never have been able to drag his rag-tag army to a successful finish to the War for Independence. Those men hung on by sweat and grit and an indomitable will to succeed.

It's Natalie du Toit of South Africa, a one-legged swimmer who swam in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, along with the two-legged swimmers. She also won gold medals in the 2004 Paralympic Games and the Commonwealth Games. 
We tend to give up on things when the going gets tough, often way too early. Because we can't stand to be uncomfortable or out of our 'zone', we throw away the right to stand with giants. We let our fears, our insecurities, our whiny laziness win the battle we should have won. I know, I've done it countless times. When I should have put that little extra effort into something, I bail on it for something more interesting.
664-06277797 (RF) 
 Well not anymore. The goal is to be excellent. The goal is to make it to the finish line whether I'm dragging along or not. The goal is to actually RUN tomorrow in my 5K.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bog Rolls and Boiling Frogs

I was thinking the other day about bog rolls (toilet paper for the uninitiated). In my humble opinion the quality of such has gotten steadily worse. We all deplore the lack of cohesiveness, its inability to do the job correctly, its relative expense versus its usefulness. Sure it's soft. Sure we can get rolls and rolls of it. But we have to use so much paper to do what previously few squares did, that economy goes right out the window. Makers of toilet paper are sacrificing utility for the almighty buck.

Which seems to be exactly what is happening in our country. We've become a one-ply country where once we were a staunch two-ply place. Our makers have touted the cushy softness of a one-ply government, while slyly stealing away that whole extra ply to use for themselves. And they couldn't care less that we are left with nothing but shreds and holes.

We have dealt with substandard bog roll for so long, now, that we no longer understand how to stand up and demand that they stop making junky 'toilet paper.' We have been gulled, like the frog and the boiling water.

"Boiled frog?" you ask.

Indeed. The way to boil a frog is not to drop him into already boiling water. He'll jump out. The way to do it is to drop him in nice cool water and turn the heat on low. After a while you turn up the heat. Pretty soon the frog goes from enjoying a nice dip in a hot tub to being a French dude's meal.

That's what's happening in our country. We're about to the boiling point and the frogs are sitting around saying, "Gosh it's gotten toasty."

We need to find a way to get back that better bog roll government--the one which actually gets the job done without fraying to rags. To do that, we might have to sacrifice a little of the softness and security. We might have to step up and turn off the heat.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Change of Heart Interview and Giveaway

Today I'm featuring Roseanne Evans Wilkins' book A CHANGE OF HEART on my blog. I recently met Roseanne through my writing club and she turned out to be my Hubs' cousin! So not only is she a fantastic writer, but we can talk dirt and get away with it.

Today, however, I'm wearing my blogger hat, so strap in and get ready for the ride.

"...by small and simple things are great things brought to pass..." (Alma 37:6)
Christina Andrews, a beautiful college student from a small town in Kansas, is only one insignificant person out of billions of people inhabiting the planet. Not long after settling into her college dorm, she's dating three attractive men. Christina's never spent much time dwelling on her past, but when it comes time to make eternal decisions, the fact that her father was a rapist takes center stage. How can she listen to the whisperings of the Spirit when her father was a criminal? Will she be able to step aside from her past to make the decisions that will ultimately save many lives, and will she be able to find the kind of love that lasts forever?"

Interview to come!

If you'd like to purchase A CHANGE OF HEART, do it here. If you'd like to win a free audio copy, click here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 12, 2013

Nexux Point: The Fall of the Altairan

Well I don't know anything about Altairans falling, but NEXUS POINT: THE FALL OF THE ALTAIRAN by Jaleta Clegg was a smashing book!

I read a fairly significant amount of Sci Fi, so I know of that I speak. On first meeting Dace, the ship's captain and owner, I thought, Boy, this is one brain-dead chick. If I were going to fling my bones into the vast reaches of space in a tiny ship, I'd be absolutely positive my new two-man crew weren't going to waste me. And I'd sure as heck make certain I knew every millimeter of the ship I'd just bought was yar (shipshape). 

Dace didn't.

The result? Her craft fragged to bits and Dace was marooned on a backwater planet. As soon as her escape pod touched down, the poor captain was running for her life--through the front end of the book and clear out the back.

There were slavers, druggies, a fleeing orphan whose dad may or may not have been a galactic-level warlord, debauched monks trying to find someone immune to their drugs, Robin Hood, a mean duchess who dressed like a harem girl, researchers, galactic policemen, and about a gallon of chasing henchmen. I noticed about a teaspoon of blood, no sex, three tons of confused skittering, a pile of wit and snarky comments (though no swearing, thank you), several burning-at-the-stake attempts, lots of boo-boos, plenty of clothes changes, rescues up the wazoo, and no partridges in pear trees.

I found about a page full of I's that drove me nuts. I wanted to scream until that page died. I was just getting ready to slam the book shut. I didn't. I was glad. I think next time Jaleta should watch that. I think there are those who would stop reading at that point. I think that would be a shame.

Other than that one page, the pacing was fast, the repartee witty, the world-building delicious. Her names were...uh...interesting. I'd totally get this book again. Great job, Jaleta!

I have to get the next book and find out whether Dace finally gets a new ship, bashes the daylights out of the drug pushers, and hooks up with Whatshisname. Two thumbs and a pinky up for NEXUS POINT: THE FALL OF THE ALTAIRAN.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Shahira and the Flying Elfs Blog Tour

Today I'm featuring Anna Del C Dye on my blog. She has a new book out called,
SHAHIRA AND THE FLYING ELFS (her spelling). Anna has a way of weaving her tales into rich tapestries full of action.

Author's Bio:
After meeting Rodney, a native of Idaho, in her hometown, two years later, Anna traveled to Utah on Christmas Eve and married him two weeks later. Their love story, WHY HIM? was published by Covenant in the book entitled Tender Mercies. Anna and Rodney reside in Taylorsville, Utah and are the parents of three princes and a princess. They love to camp, canoe, explore ruins and have sword fights.

Heidi,  it’s a pleasure to visit your blog this week. I would like to announce that all those who post a comment will be entered to the contest for a PDF of “SHAHIRA & THE FLYING ELFS” Just leave an email address to be entered. There will be one free PDF for every stop of this book blog tour.

Shahira the new epic tale by Anna del C. Dye hit the market this week. 
Anna, of all the things you can write about, why Elfs?
It is what I am passionate about. All authors who write what they love do a better job than those who don't. It just flows from our veins. :)
Does that mean you'll be writing about elfs all your life?
No, the elf series has seven books and we are on book number six. Next year I will close this journey with my elfs and move to strict YA romance.
When you referred to your YA books the Elf Series as stand alone, what do you mean?
I mean that all the books in this series are stand alone. This includes The Silent Warrior Trilogy. All stories start in the first page and end in the epilogue. The only difference with the trilogy is that we follow the main characters throughout the three books, just at different special times in their lives.
 Are all your books family friendly?
One thing is for sure, you can count that all my books are clean, easy to read, and good entertainment for the whole family. They teach good morals in an non-intrusive way.
What makes your elf stories different from other elf books?
In all my books you will find the good elf race portrayed with precise details and their attributes and flaws fully developed. They are the epitome of love and truthfulness. Their respect and love for their women is what attracts most readers to my stories. And the rest come for the hunger for the truthful ways that is portrayed there... Truthfulness is a feeling no many have in real life.
Are your books romance?
I do not consider them romance, although they have romance in them. You will also find rich battles scenes without the gory details, mystery, adventure, intrigue, courage, and lots of dialogue.
"SHAHIRA & the FLYING ELFS" is book number six in my elf series now available everywhere books are sold.
Here is a teaser:
Flying takes you to new heights, still you don't see if you try not
Shahira is a she-eagle and lives with her father, mother, and baby brother. Her dream is to find a stripling eagle for her mate. But mating is a ritual that happens in the sky and she cannot fly. She keeps telling herself that soon she will be able to, but every time she tries she falls.
The character causing all the problems in this tale is Artoris, an almost wizard that suffers from schizophrenia. He hears and sees people talking to him all the time. This makes him very dangerous, especially as he thinks his brother, the head of the Wizarding School, is against him. A crazy wizard, on his own, pursued by his personal demons, and on a path of revenge, makes for interesting suspense.
Lets not forget Llorradinn. He is the Elf who finds love in Shahira’s nest and who is willing to do anything for her. He even gets back on a eagle after one of the wise birds tries to kill him by dropping him from a league up in the sky.
Shahira & the Flying Elfs is a YA book of high fantasy. Written in the genre and inspired by Tolkien, you will find this tale clean and wholesome for the whole family.

Praise for Shahira & the Flying Elfs
Brilliant writer with an amazing story of intrigue, courage, adventure, and hope. It will keep you turning pages until the very end. I really enjoyed it.
Sara Fitzgerald, sweet romance and Best Seller author for Champagne Books

My books can be found at:
My website: http://www.annadelc.com
Amazon: http://ning.it/19iThs3
Barns & Noble. http://ning.it/1744E2U


This isn't me.
I was over at mothersofbrothersblog (one of my favorites) reading her inspiring post about pool hierarchies and decided I needed to write.

So because our corner of the world is hotter than the inside of the torture oven in Hades, and because our house is even toastier than that, we go swimming.

I sort of feel that I have a little ownership in that pool. The lifeguards are all friends of my erstwhile lifeguard son and I paid a quintillion dollars to get a season pass back when the air was a frigid 30 degrees. So when I walk in there, I feel confident. Until I take off the towel in all my hippopotamic splendor.

It takes me half an hour to scrooch and jiggle and wrestle the blubber into a suit so tight it leaves me breathless. The tags read "figure enhancing". Nice giant balloon animal shape there, Lady. What it really means was that big blobby bits of me boil out every time I dive into the water. I look into the mirror in the bathroom at the pool (after vying for position with the regular nymphs who hang out in front of the mirror when they aren't out pasting themselves to their boyfriends at the ends of the lap lanes), hoping that by some magic, I don't look as hideous as I think I do. Then the bat wings flop out and, well, I take that big gulp and head out anyway, chastened.

Just to take myself out of the realm of possibility (in my head. My actual physique thrust me out of there into the cold hard stare of reality long before), I jam my hair into a swimming cap and pull on the ol' goggles. Now even I don't look at myself as a contender.

I dive into the lap lane and battle through a whole length of butterflies to come up gasping at the end of the length. Bodes ill for the coughseniorolympicscough next year. I have ordered myself to cut my fly down to less than an hour and a half per lap this year, so I can have an iota of self-respect. (Right.) It's just a total brain slam when you come in only seven seconds faster than a 98-year-old lady taking a half day to do the backstroke. I can just hear my children's children's children's children snickering.
Also not me.

My daughter likes to race me, knowing that she'll always be there at the end of the lane, laughing as I thresh through the water trying to catch up. Rub it in, Paste Maiden. I wanna see how fast you swim when you're my age and have six kids.

Yesterday there was a kid doodling around in the lap lane like a waterlogged June bug. I waited until he was nearly to the end before I dove in. Still, I caught him on one of his tight little circles and whacked him accidentlyonpurposebutcertainlypurposefullyaccidentally. I told him the lap lane was for lap swimmers. He proceeded to inform me that he was swimming laps. He simply hadn't gotten to the end yet. At which time I secretly called it open season on June bugs.

So when does it become prohibitive to dive off the diving board? I mean pre-breakage. Certainly breaking the board is a heads-up. But until then, is there a line over which you simply cannot cross? I'm the type of person who will do it just because you told me I'm too old/fat/ugly to--just to prove I can. (Heck, I went climbing for my last birthday. Let's say there were many false starts and scratches.) I like to dive, even though sometimes hitting the water is much like ramming myself into a cement wall repeatedly. Go figure. It remains a challenge to do it with some small smidgen of class.

Neither is this.
There is always the hope that with all the diving off the diving board, the sliding down the waterslide, the random laps, the copious handstands and games of Sharks and Minnows in the diving bay, that my figure will somehow emerge not looking like the Sta-puff marshmallow man. That somehow even though I look like a basking manatee, there could be coolness points in store just because I'm doing it, not just baking on the pool deck with a book and a gallon of iced tea with the Squeamish Moms.

Dream on.
Clearly not me.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Wanna Be Barbie

I was just over at one of my favorite blogs: Crack You Whip. We were discussing Barbie--you know, the doll that has everything--not my erstwhile chemistry lab partner with whom I blew things up in lab on a constant basis.

This is the doll who comes with her own everything. My daughter used to use Barbie's pink Cadillac to whack her brothers over the head. That doll had real light-up lamps, several desks with opening drawers, a bazillion shoes, record players, numerous pets, a four poster bed with canopy, her own princess line phone, Pepto pink dream house full of furniture, along with a full travel agency and matching pink luggage with real closures. And that's not even close to all she has. That's just all we have. I am selling, by the way. Give me an offer.

But what the heck? It seems like kids can't make believe any more. There's no "Pretend like you just floated past Pluto on your way to the outer rim of the galaxy." I asked my daughter why she needed a new Barbie.
"'Cause this doll looks like Queen Amidala (or Belle or whichever other character was new on the movies)."
"Well why don't you just make her a dress that looks like Amidala?" I'd ask.
Then I'd get 'The Look'. The "Oh Mom, you're simply hopeless" look.

What's the deal with her wardrobe anyway? She should just hand over the wardrobe with the travel agency, since she only wears one dress. She never uses the rest of them. One dress and then they replace her with another Barbie in a different outfit. I'm sure glad my Hubs hasn't figured out he could turn me in for another chicklet with a bra the size of a couple of connected hubcaps and a different dress. At least I come with interchangeable apparel.

The most my kids ever did was undress Barbie and do hideous things to her matted hair. They weren't like me and my sister (who, by the way, didn't get a TV until the late seventies). We were constantly playing with dolls. We never had Barbies, though. We had Madam Alexander dolls and Little Kiddles and my mom's old Kewpie dolls (To this day my sister won't have that doll on her shelf because its smile creeps her right out.) and some antique Little Women dolls and a plethora of other odds and ends.

 We actually knew how to really play. We made up stories for our dolls by the hour. We actually didn't mind getting sent to our room because A. there were dolls and B. there were books. Our dolls didn't need their own travel agency. They didn't even need space ships. All they needed were imagination and something to build houses with (covers, books, blocks, your little brother's Leggos, anything). There were endless iterations, scenarios out the ying-yang, and grandiose, marvelous castles in the air.

These kids now, who have grown up on the Internet and ready-made TV and now iPodamusses and iPadillacs and schnoodlygoops and Gooseberries and what all else, don't know how to play. Seriously. They can program the heck out of your cell phone but they can't spend an hour creatively playing dolls. The closest they get is undressing them.

And the boys aren't much different. They have enough Leggos to choke a horse, but they can't build anything that isn't on the box (and that only if they've still got the directions). We bought them scads of Bionicles and the bits just sit in huge boxes or all over the floor, waiting for the unsuspecting walker to fall into their traps. Caltrop anyone? You should have heard them when I asked if their bionicle guy ever went to the bathroom or sat down for a late night snack. They looked at me like I'd just lost the only remaining brain cell I'd ever developed.

It's a crying shame, I tell you. Media is telling them how to be. They learn that to solve a problem, first you freak out, then you consult Google. Then your therapist. Then, if it still hasn't solved itself, you give up.

How did we let this happen? Was it because we were so busy with all the new media that we forgot to make them play? Heck, I remember when they first wheeled in that chuggy new video machine to Bio. "You don't need me to run the projector?" I asked.
"No, but you can figure out how to make this new contraption run."
After that it was all movies all the time. We're stuffed with movies which cram their own ideas of what should happen and how things should look and feel and sound right down our throats. Often we ask them to!

Now kids spend the better part of their day Facebooking friends and Tweeting and texting and a bazillion other things we never even dreamed of, even in our wildest doll games.


But they still can't figure out how to give Barbie more than one dress at a time.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Phone Salesmen Samba


In my house there is a hatred of louts who ring up just to further their own designs, especially if they ignore our repeated pleas to cease and desist. They use our phone to ring a bell in our house that sends a klaxon call ringing through the halls, dragging us from much-needed sleep or dinner or...um...relations of a matrimonial nature.

I'm not talking about normal friends and family and people in our church, whose calls we mostly welcome. I'm talking about people who don't know us and we don't know, who don't care a half-cooked rat what we think or feel or that we are missing a perfectly good hot dinner.

We don't think it's right that they can ring a bell in our house and we just have to come running like one of Maslow's dogs. There have been a couple of times when I've blasted down the hall dead sick with the flu or something, hit the game cabinet, and nearly knocked myself into an alternate reality. My Hubs asked where I got the gigantic bruise the next day, thinking I was still fighting. I had to tell him it was a stinkin' telemarketer. I wished I'd had the chance to knock him out.

That's why it's open season on telemarketers at our house nearly every time they call. It might be different if we'd rung up asking for a quote on quadruple-paned titanium windows with a twenty-nine-year warranty, but with a swamp cooler, you have to crack the windows for air anyway. Airless windows do not a lick of good. 

If we'd called down to the car window insurance place and said, "Please phone us about twenty-three times this week," it would be a whole different taco. But, you see, we don't. We like to do business face-to-face so we can see their lying eyeballs up close and personal. 

We used to have a phone dedicated to the Internet. We knew if someone called us on it, they were A. Not our friends as they obviously didn't know us well enough to call the correct listed number and B. Certainly a telemarketer, who we had no wish to speak seriously to. When that phone rang, we all climbed over each other to get it, eager to try out our current idea. Some of those calls truly rocked.

A guy once called to talk to me about our mortgage. Me: How come you think you can talk about my marriage? That's pretty private. 
Him: No, your mortgage. 
Me: Well I have a pretty good marriage. I don't know why you have to know anything about it. I don't even know you. 
Him: NO your MORTGAGE! 
Me: You don't have to yell. I hear you just fine. You keep talking about my marriage. 
Me: Sorry. You already know I'm not home alone. We've been discussing my marriage all this time. Can't you hear my kids laughing in the background? 
Me: You don't hear all this racket? I sure wish I was home alone. Maybe I'd get some freakin' work done around here. 
Him: Never mind. Would you like to talk to my manager? 
Me: Why? Does he want to be nosy about my marriage too?
By the end of this call both the marketer and his manager had steam shooting out of their ears and we were rolling on the floor in paroxysms of laughter. 

My daughter used to answer that it was the Pakistani Restaurant (in the appropriate accent). She'd offer a whole list of odd foods.

My son perfected his Arnold Schartzenegger accent and went on to add a great Pinky and the Brain voice (sometimes at the same time).

I could go on and on, but I don't want to tell all our favorite prank answers in case one of you intends to ring us up...:o)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Getting Out of the Oven is Not an Option


All right. It's freakin' HOT. I'd get third degree steering wheel burns if I didn't wear gloves. The birds are complaining because their birdhouses aren't air conditioned. I used to wonder why birds flew North for the summer. Now I know. It's because they'd have hard-boiled eggs in their nests. It's so hot that even with the coughworthlesscough swamp cooler on, I look like I just oozed out of the shower. I sure don't smell like it. I smell like I just slogged out of a swamp. Thus the swamp. Not the cooler.

Cooler than what, I ask you? Cooler than the inside of a volcano? Debatable. Cooler than my dad's den after he found out I got a C in Algebra? Barely. Cooler than satan's workshop? Nope. He comes here to get toasty. The Hubs seems to think Death Valley is warmer. I wonder. It can't be all that much hotter. At least there are traveling rocks in Death Valley. Here, nobody does anything outside if they can possibly help it. Funeral for your grandma? Sorry Granny. You're already taking a dirt nap. I'm about to really buy the farm here. See the clothes sizzling? It's not 'cause I'm a babe.

So what's a girl to do? There are just so many clothes you can take off and still be decent. For some reason the kids scream if I wear my preferred outfit. It does tend to scare off JWs and kids selling candy. (Note to self: Stop letting the Hubs answer the door when the Stick Figure comes to sell him stuff.)

We actually went out last summer (a cooler summer than this one, I might add) to the driveway to test my theory that we could bake cookies on the hood of the car. Probably with a few more hours they'd have been done to a nice golden brown. Unfortunately a haboob came up and we took them prematurely inside, not liking gritty cookies. We did try  making scrambled eggs on the car seat, though. They came out grand. There you go. Breakfast in your car on the way to work, if you can do it before your brains boil.

The heat's why they yell around here about leaving your babies (they don't care about the rest of the population apparently), pets, plants, gold fillings, battleships, old refrigerators, iron bedsteads, glass chess sets, welding apparatus, Justin Booboo CD's, and brass pokers in the car. They tend to melt faster than that green witch in the Wizard of Oz. Ever tried to get melted dog off your upholstery? It's miserable.