Archives for May 2013

Phone Post

I didn’t mean to not turn on my computer when I got home from work. But I got caught up in reading an Odd Thomas book (the 2nd to last book in series so far) and had to go ahead and get the newest Odd Thomas book (and read it). Now I might have to wait years before the next book in the series is out, but that’s how things go.

So I’m contemplating going to bed. And NOT turning on the computer at all.

Weird.

I’m falling asleep in the kitchen chair. Guess I should go to bed.

Busy Like a Beaver is Busy

If a Beaver had a computer and crunched the data.

Work is busy. And I’m going to the Maine TweetUp tonight. So I won’t be tempted to turn on my computer when I get home, I’m going to write my blag post now, instead of later tonight.

My goal: to go to sleep as soon as I get home. I am sleepy tired people.

Another goal: to come into work early tomorrow to get a head start – presumably well rested. We’ll see how that goes.

I don’t plan on drinking any alcohol tonight, so I have that going for me.

Welp. Gotta go. Time to motor and all that rot.

Podding

Working on the Podcast tonight. And it’s taking me FOREVER. It’s partly because I waited so long to work on it. Still have a bit of vacation brain.

Mushy mushy vacation brain.

I keep getting distracted, maybe I shouldn’t watch Angel while I’m trying to do other things, like waiting for Levelator to do its magic.

Mush.

Okay. Going to focus on the ol’ podcast.

Right now.

Really.

(Listening to it now, OMG, can’t wait until you can listen to it!)

Community

It is no secret we’ve had a difficult year or so. And that our past two months has been especially challenging. What has made our travails bearable is the community of family and friends that has bolstered us through the hard times. Our Twitter and Facebook Friends. And, mixed in among all of those groups, is the EarthSpirit Community.

I have been a part of the EarthSpirit Community since 1998, the first year I went to their annual festival Rites of Spring, and I’ve attended every year since. I brought Edmund along with me the first year we met, and he loves it as much as I do.

This year we would not have been able to attend Rites of Spring (ROS) without help, we were strapped financially. But we missed the deadline for work-exchange applications, which was on April 1st (the day Edmund’s father died.) I explained our situation, and fortunately we were able to apply anyway; we were accepted.

I am so grateful.

I felt welcomed and enfolded into the community in a restorative and healing way. And by doing a work exchange, I was led to spend more time in community than I had in the last couple of years at ROS. It was just what I needed.

I am grateful.

Although I sometimes forget, I am grateful for my friends and community and family and the love they all show me. I hope I reflect just some of that love back to them.

My heart is full.

Back From Off-The-Grid

Back From Off-The-Grid

Our Sheet door

I didn’t take many pictures this past week. I was too busy talking to people and doing stuff. So not complaining.

We had a great week.

However.

The first two days were great. Until the hail storm. And the tornado warning (which caused us to hide in a crouching-only basement). And the rain. Followed by cold. Followed by cold rain.

Hail on the Mountain

Still, we had fun.

I wish I could be more verbose, but my focus is off. I’m nodding off at the computer.

Rest assured, we enjoyed ourselves. Frozen fingers and all.

In which I discuss World Domination Plans

Circa Last Year. How are your World Domination plans going?

Guest Post: Pat Washburn – Tom Brown vs. Dan Brown

Guest Post: Pat Washburn – Tom Brown vs. Dan Brown

I met journalist and writer Pat Washburn online first, she interviewed me for a news article a few years ago. Then we met in person when she helped me with my nerdy math and computer science homework. Pat has been a great friend to me, especially during the past few weeks. I am so happy she agreed to write a little something for the blag! Here you go.

——————————-
Tom Brown and Dan Brown are both guys from New England who create books. Once you get beyond that, though, the common ground ends.

Dan Brown, of course, wrote the bestselling, much-reviled “Da Vinci Code,” which contained just enough pseudo-historical, pseudo-religious mystery to interest a mainstream audience without actually challenging anyone’s world view.

Tom Brown’s first graphic novel, “Hopeless, Maine,” written with his wife Nimue Brown, is considerably less comfortable. The mysteries are not safely locked away in museums and castles – they’re inside all of us, and particularly in the denizens of a creepy Maine island where our heroine, Salamandra, lives.

In Dan Brown’s novels, the male protagonist routinely falls into bed with the female protagonist without the slightest bit of dialogue or action indicating why they’re attracted to one another. In Tom Brown’s world, there’s no sex – Owen is Salamandra’s friend, not her boyfriend – yet you get to see them grow closer to one another, learning to trust and relate in a way that’s entirely believable. Well, if you can use the word “believable” about a story where the chandeliers have eyes and the dolls have demons.

I read The Da Vinci Code and even, for my sins, saw the movie. Yet I couldn’t have told you the hero’s name until I started looking up links for this piece. Salamandra, though, will stay with me forever.

My point in writing this is not to tell you to read “Hopeless, Maine,” although I think you should. (And look, I totally hate graphic novels. But I can’t stay away from this one.)

It’s to challenge you to take a look at your own creativity.

We’d all like to have Dan Brown’s sales numbers. (See Clive James imperfectly concealing his professional jealousy over the fact that Dan Brown’s new novel, Inferno, is likely to significantly outsell James’ own painstaking translation of Dante’s work. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2013/05/14/clive-james-dan-brown/2155487/)

But would we like them enough to write so badly that we inspire parodies like this one? (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/may/14/dan-brown-inferno-first-look)

What are you creating? Who is your audience? Are you a Tom Brown or a Dan Brown?

This content © 2013 Pat Washburn.

Guest Post: Margaret Miller-Finch – All Kinds of Awesome

I’ve known Margaret since the first time I went to college and she is a delight. Her, read this and you will see what I mean:

All Kinds of Awesome

I’ve never been a guest blogger before, much less a guest blagger. To be a guest blogger/blagger one might want to first admit to being a blogger in the first place. I mean, am I qualified to be a guest blogger/blagger?

My blog, Stationary Unicycle, which by the way has nothing to do with unicycles, stationary or otherwise, is a sporadic effort and I’m prone to confessional ranting or stream of consciousness spewing. I didn’t know when I came up with the ridiculous title, ‘Stationary Unicycle’ that stationary unicycles are a real thing, sort of like Bronies and flying monkeys.

Flying monkeys are a real thing, right? No? Huh…

Who knew?

I’ve always loved to write but I didn’t really think I had anything important to say and it was difficult to call myself a writer with a straight face. Because I didn’t take it seriously nobody else did either.

Lanna was encouraging. Lanna inspired me to break out of the little cell I’d built around myself. The act of writing my absurd thoughts and calling it a blog and putting myself out there makes this intangible writing thing a real thing. It’s like magic. Not real, real. The scale of the endeavor, how far my slightly unbalanced thoughts actually travel, doesn’t matter. The making something real does.

Lanna and I went to college together. She was a wild woman, vivid, enthusiastic. She was a real clown.

No, really, she was a clown.

One of the oddest things I have done in public was perform in a little show Lanna put together. We performed at the Ground Round, the restaurant where Lanna was employed as Bingo the Clown. We put together a show with some other folks and performed it on Halloween. My memory is foggy, so I think that’s how it all went down.

It struck me as completely audacious at the time to put on a show. Only REAL singers and actors can put on a show. I mean who am I? What business do I have calling myself a singer and an actor and performing in front of real live people?! I’m not qualified! I have no right to be doing this!

Well, DUH. You become a real singer and actor by DOING those things. It’s not outside the realm of possibility. You want to be something? You gotta DO something.

You think, hey let’s do a wild show for a crowd. There will be music, singing, and some other general mayhem and hijinx! Let’s make it happen, people! Let’s DO this thing.

That’s how it’s done.

You can’t sit around waiting for someone to hear you performing your cabaret act while you’re in the shower. If you wait around for other people to notice you while you’re singing show tunes behind the shower curtain, you may get squeaky clean, but you’ll also get kind of pruney, maybe moldy, frustrated, and sad.

So, back to the story. If memory serves, people paid money to see our intrepid little troupe chase each other around the restaurant and have fun. At some point in the evening Lanna and I sang Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered while I clutched a large power tool to my bosom. No really, a real power tool.

I may be the only person in the world to sing a duet with a clown in front of an audience at the Ground Round on Halloween while holding a Makita power drill to her bosom.

That’s significant, people. That’s all kinds of significant.

I sang in front of people. I’d always wanted to sing in public but had been afraid to try. It was weird singing with my clothes on and without the sound of running water for accompaniment and the smell of Ivory soap, but it felt good. Lanna made it happen.

When Lanna makes things happen, other people start to think, “Hey! I can take risks, I can be brave, I can rock this, I can make things happen.”

How awesome is that?!

HOW GLORIOUSLY AWESOME IS THAT!?!?!

So, I feel like maybe this blog post, my first as a guest blogger, is a toast to Lanna Lee.

I raise a glass to Lanna, and thank her for inspiring me and countless others on a daily basis. Lanna leads by example, shows shower singers and closet writers how this wild adventure Life is meant to be lived; without apology, with authenticity, creativity, enthusiasm, glamor, grace, and courage.

In case you didn’t notice, Lanna is sort of my hero.

I challenge myself and the rest of you out there who might be reading this to go out into the world and be a hero. Make something audacious, make something beautiful. Be brave. Do not cower. Dream something big and gorgeous and then do something to make it real.

If we do that we might seriously change the world.

It’s magic people. Real magic.

How awesome that?!

All kinds of awesome.

This content © 2013 Margaret Miller-Finch.

Guest Post: Lori Bates Ellison – Life Lessons, As Taught by Jack Handey

I loved Lori Bates Ellison‘s writing, and I am honored to have a guest post from her. Enjoy!

Life
Lessons, As Taught by Jack Handey

 

My personal
philosophy is: “Laugh whenever possible. Laugh when you should. Laugh when you
shouldn’t. Laugh when you don’t think you can. And laugh while you live your
truth, whether anyone else gets it or not. If they laugh with you, you’re
winning.” I’m no Socrates, but that’s a damn good philosophy. Some of life’s
important lessons can be learned from reading the wise words of Jack Handey. Yes, seriously. I know I wouldn’t live my life to
the fullest and find laughter through it all had it not been for his nuggets of
entertaining brilliance. Allow me to enlighten you.

“If you go parachuting
and your parachute doesn’t open and your friends are all watching you fall, I
think a funny gag would be to pretend you are swimming.” –JH

Lesson: Laugh even as you plummet to your demise. Pray
that your final gig makes onlookers join in.

“If you’re robbing a
bank and your pants fall down, I think it’s okay to
laugh and let the hostages laugh, too. Because, come on, life is funny.” –JH

Yes it is, Jack. Yes it is.

He taught me about more than just laughter, you know. He
taught me real words to live by.

“To me, it’s a good
idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way if
someone says, ‘Hey, can you give me a hand?’, you can
say, ‘sorry, got these sacks.’” –JH

Lesson: I can always
say no, even if I have to make up an excuse.

“If you’re in a war,
instead of throwing a hand grenade at the enemy, throw one of those small
pumpkins. Maybe it’ll make everyone think how stupid war is. And while they’re
thinking, you can throw a real grenade.” –JH

Lesson: All is fair
in love and war. Bonus lesson: Confusion is a skill that will assist you in
winning.

“To me, clowns aren’t
funny. They’re kind of scary. I’ve wondered where this started and I think it
goes back to the time I went to the circus and a clown killed my dad.” –JH

Lesson: Your adult
fears are probably born of childhood traumas.

“I love to go to the schoolyard and watch the children jump and scream,
but they don’t know I’m using blanks.” –JH

Lesson: Just because
it’s scary doesn’t mean it’ll kill you.

“I wish I would have a
real tragic love affair and get so bummed out that I’d quit my job and become a
bum for a few years, because I was thinking about doing that anyway.” –JH

Lesson: Be lazy.
Don’t wait for an excuse to take the day off.

“Don’t ever get your
speedometer confused with your clock, like I did once, because the faster you
go, the later you think you are.” –JH

Lesson: Don’t drink
and drive; especially on the day of an important meeting.

“You know what’s probably a good thing to hang on your porch in the
summertime to keep mosquitoes away from you and your guests
? Just a big bag of blood.” –JH

Lesson: There isn’t
one. It just makes perfect sense to me.

“If you get invited to
your first orgy, don’t just show up nude. That’s a common mistake. You have to
let nudity ‘happen’.” –JH

Lesson: I wish I had
read that BEFORE my first orgy.

“I think someone
should have had the decency to tell me that the luncheon was free. To make
someone run out with potato salad in his hands, pretending to throw up, is not
what I’d call hospitality.” –JH

Lesson: Be a good
host. If not, your guests will ruin your party. Every.
Fucking. Time.

“Most people don’t
realize that large pieces of coral, which have been painted brown and attached
to the skull by common wood screws, can make a child look like a deer.” –JH

Lesson: Be creative!
And recycle.

“Before you criticize
someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize
them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.” –JH

Lesson: Some people
need a heavy dose of reality and they’ll probably get mad anyway. You should
strike and retreat.

“If I could be a bird,
I’d be a Flying Purple People Eater. Because then people would sing about me
and I could fly down and eat them because I hate that song.” –JH

Well, I figure we should just do whatever it takes to make
that fucking song go away.

“One thing kids like
is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to
Disneyland, but instead I drove him to a burned-out warehouse. ‘Oh, no’, I
said, ‘Disneyland burned down.’ He cried and cried, but I think that deep down,
he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real
Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late.” –JH

Lesson: Kids nowadays
have a sense of entitlement and need to be brought down a peg or two.

“If a kid asks where
rain comes from, I think it’s a cute thing to tell him is, ‘God is crying.’ And
if he asks why, another cute thing to tell him is, ‘probably because of
something you did.’” –JH

Lesson: If you can’t
figure this one out, you’re probably the reason it rained yesterday.

“I remember that one
fateful day when Coach took me aside. I knew what was coming. ‘You don’t have
to tell me,’ I said. ‘I’m off the team, aren’t I?’ ‘Well,’ said Coach, ‘you
never really were ON the team. You made that uniform you’re wearing out of rags
and towels, and your helmet is a toy space helmet. You show up at practice and
then either steal the ball and make us chase you to get it back, or you try to
tackle people at inappropriate times.’ It was all true what he was saying. And
yet, I thought something is brewing inside the head of this Coach. He sees
something in me, some kind of raw talent that he can mold. But that’s when I
felt the handcuffs go on.” –JH

Lesson: Notice when
you’ve overstayed your welcome. And always leave before the cops show up.

 

I hope you’ve experienced personal growth through these life
lessons. I know they’ve helped shape me into the person I am today. And I shall
leave you with this final thought:

“I hope life isn’t a
joke, because I don’t get it.” –JH

This is the only one Jack and I disagree on, readers. Life
IS a joke. If it doesn’t feel like it at the time, you can laugh through it. I
promise. I’ve laughed through trauma, heartbreak, abandonment, and even death.
Laughter is the best medicine. That and Klonopin, but
mostly laughter.

This content © 2013 Lori Bates Ellison.

Guest Post: Trisha Smith: A Love Letter to LannaLee

Trisha Smith is my BFF, for sure. We’ve known each other since Junior High. I am blessed to have her as a friend. Here is her piece.

I knew she would ask me to write a guest post. She has faith in me, and loves me only like a seriously long-term BFF can. So how could I refuse Lanna Lee Maheux’s request?

I couldn’t. And she assured me that it didn’t have to be fancy. Just some words, electronically delivered, to give her a break while she recharges in the wilds of western Massachusetts. Low expectations, good cause. I’m in!

Lanna and I met in 1980. That chutzpah? Yessah, she had it then, too. She ran for class president with the catchy slogan “Vote for me, Lanna Lee!” Bold as brass, and man! did I love her! As an introvert from a conservative religious background, I found her completely fascinating, daring, and sexy (still do)!

In high school, Lanna created the P.V.O., aka the Perverted Order. She, of course, was High Priestess, and I was High Vice Priestess until her graduation, when she passed the crown to me. The coronation involved me sneaking out (I was grounded for some Lanna-related reason, probably),sparklers on the beach, and cake. Very solemn. My High Vice Priest was Christopher Guilmet, although I’m fairly certain he’s blocked that memory out.

We’ve lost and regained touch several times over the years. I moved away from and back to Maine a few times, as did she. She hosted my baby (then toddler, then kid, then teen, now young woman) and me wherever she was living. I’m telling you, if you don’t feel comfortable around Lanna, there is something wrong with YOU!

I am truly blessed to have Lanna in my life. And even if you don’t know her like I do, you’re blessed, too. She’s luminous!

This content © 2013 Trisha Smith.

Guest Posts Start Tomorrow

Hey. I have a few guest posts coming up, starting tomorrow, which is awesome, since I really needed the help. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed them.

Now I am trying to do a filler post, because I didn’t have anything done for today.

So. On vacation.

Woo.

How’s this working out for you?

Here’s a tidbit, while I write this, I have Angel (the tv series) playing in the background. And I paused it because the episode is stressing me out. What? I’m a weirdo.

And here’s another tidbit, while you are reading this I am ensconced in the woods, traipsing around and getting back to nature.

So there.

Tune in tomorrow for the first Guest Post!

We are are going off-the-grid, and here is the ubiquitous blag post about it

Today Edmund and I are headed up to the mountain to spend time with friends and chosen family.

And given what we’ve experienced lately on the home front, here is an open letter to any potential Ne’erdowellers. You know who you are.

This was recorded a while ago, but it still stands true.

Oh, C’mon

Oh, C’mon

BB hits windowIt gets to a point where so many shitting things happen you think people will stop believing you when you tell them.

Like this, for instance: we came back from Pennsylvania today, after attending Edmund’s father’s funeral, and found that someone shot a BB at our window.

What?

This is the second vandal-type attack in two weeks. (Remember my broken car window? I sure do.)

I am so ready to go on vacation, let me tell you.

Remembering Henry

When thinking of something I might say about Henry at his funeral service, my thoughts kept going back to the picture I saw last night. It’s of Ed’s parents, Chris and Henry, at Chris’ college graduation. They are young and gorgeous, and Henry has a wide grin: he is so happy and proud of her accomplishment. This was Henry. He shared that love and pride for his children, and when I became his daughter-in-law, he shared it with me, showing up at my college graduation in 2011, proud of my achievement.

When I married Edmund, Henry said, now you’re my daughter too. He, and Chris, were as good as his word.

Today I am grateful to have had a second father in Henry, grateful to have had a few more years with him, and grateful to be able to celebrate his life with family and friends.

In PA

Henry’s funeral is (finally) tomorrow. We are in PA right now, drugged up for a good night’s sleep before the festivities.

Good times.