Saturday, July 30, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Today was my birthday, and for me, it's the start of a new year of life. I like that my birthday is about halfway through the year. It gives me a chance to restart my New Year's Resolutions. They're, of course, the same as they were at the start of the year:

1. Lose weight.
2. Write more.
3. Pray more.
4. Meditate more.
5. Just be better.

The usual, in other words. Been reading various books about changing habits and using the Miracle Morning program, but so far, I haven't found my groove. For some people, they say, it takes longer to set good habits. I guess I'm one of those.

Not surprising considering the years I've spent enforcing and living bad habits. The ruts in my subconscious must be deep. Canyons by now. Got to continue filling them up with new better habits.

This coming month will be spent on Blackbirds Third Flight. Time to put the book together. I need to make significant progress next week. I may have to shelf the Today in Art project on Facebook I've been doing until BTF is in the place it should be. Priorities, you know.

Otherwise, it's the usual chores, doctors' visits, and life. What's going on for you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

To-Do

A friend has been calling from Barbados to brag about his amazing vacation. But today, I had to tell him that his house had been vandalized.

Really sad.

Must be sure to remember to go and do that later.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Goober

So I was terribly, terribly hungry and wolfed down my supper. It was hard to stop to give the food time to settle.

"Why am I so hungry?" I wondered. 

"Because you only had two cups of coffee for breakfast and no lunch, you goober," I answered back. 

"No need to get insulting; I was busy, and sometimes I forget to eat even though I know diabetics are healthier with keeping a meal schedule," I replied to me. 

"That's why I called me a goober, you goober," I said. 

Sometimes I'm just not a pleasant person.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Needs a sountrack

Watching the sunrise. Hmm. It's okay.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Help Wanted

I need a maid! And someone to clean my house, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Important question

Why is my coffee cup so empty? WHY? It's enough to make me doubt the good will of the universe.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Yikes

"I do have a set of lovely blue eyes. I keep them in a jar in the fridge." -- Bad first date

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Judge not less...

Just finished reading 142 writing contest entries. I'm supposed to be encouraging, but some of them need to be stopped. ‪#‎forthegoodofhumanity #grammar #spelling #storyflow #ohIamgivingup‬

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's Time

Sometimes you just have to stand up to people and tell them to their face, "Despite everything, you're still loved." ‪#‎standourground‬

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rant 413

Rant start.

Just read a blog post in which the author said women who are overweight were "not motivated" to lose weight and would rather watch TV than exercise.

Ahem.

Since I can't punch the author in the throat, let me instead praise women with a bit of heft.

I know many larger women who raise children, who work jobs, who sing in their church and teach Sunday school, who enjoy life and laugh a lot, who volunteer at shelters and soup kitchens and food pantries, who write poems and books and songs, and who can cook a casserole that will break any diet. They worry about their appearance and they walk and they diet and they do their best, but here's the thing: None of us are going to get out of this life alive.

So if they choose to have that cupcake, they don't need their fellow women attacking them. They already have a society that's trying to say they have to be perfect, and it's almost more than they can bear.

If you can't support them, then get off their back.

Rant end.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The devil's correspondence

Dear Ex-girlfriend,
When you say you still love me after all the lying, stealing, and general badness, that means a lot...a lot of what, I don't know, but it's a lot of it.
Sincerely,
Me

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Often true

A rule of thumb that I have found often true: The phrase "I am not a racist, but..." is almost never followed by something I could imagine Jesus saying.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Not booking passage

In the new Star Trek trailer, they destroy the Enterprise...again. Is that three or four times now? That poor ship. Why would anyone sail on it? It's like the Titanic of space.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Wish List

I think I would like a self-driving car. It would be nice to be able to read or nap or watch a movie. People get upset when I do that now while driving.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Slow murder

Pinterest has been doing NOTHING except sending me diabetic UNfriendly recipes. Massively unfriendly.

I think Pinterest is trying to kill me.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Plain speak

Well, a news organization has announced it was laying people off as part of an "expansion plan." Huh. If they expand more, they may not have anyone working for them. And that isn't called expansion; it's called "closing the doors."

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Query

And how be ye today?

Good?

Bad?

Upset that someone filled your house with happy chickens when you really wanted sad llamas?

Well, make do with your chickens. There are worse beasts in the world.

And they taste good fried!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Once in a yellow moon

I took this picture a while back with an old autofocus camera. Somehow, for a brief moment, it focused. Didn't do it in any of the other 30 shots. Go figure.


Sunday, June 05, 2016

Another scan of flowers


Saturday, June 04, 2016

A scan by any other name

This is actually a scan of a flower with the background (poorly) removed. I do like it, though.


Friday, June 03, 2016

Undying

Let me promote something here: Gail Henderson and I wrote a book of poetry last year. Gail is an incredible poet with a sharp eye for detail and imagery and a sharper grasp on language. I am honored to have poems appear beside hers. Here's the link to the book on Amazon: Undying


Thursday, June 02, 2016

GoT

I'm not sure I qualify for my GEEK membership anymore: I've never watched a single episode of Game of Thrones. I do play World of Warcraft though; perhaps that will allow me to keep my GEEK card.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Amazing Times

In lighter news: Amazon just sent me an email titled "Never Run Out of Toilet Paper Again." Apparently, I can have an Amazon Dash Button that I can press and they will ship toilet paper direct to my house. Hmm. Doesn't say if it will be delivered immediately or not. Maybe a drone would drop the shipment by, but who's going to bring it to my outstretched hand?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Frustrating

Struggling with my health and all my projects wear me down. I know I'm not exercising enough. But I stay too tired to do much. And I often lack the will. The results seem so far off. I truly need to find a local exercise buddy, but the people I know either are much fitter than me or have no interest in fitness at all. Still, buddy or not, I need to be exercising no matter how bad I feel. Easy to type, but hard to do. The story of my life.

If things go according to plan--and we know what happens to the best laid plans--I should publish Floozy Comes Back in July of this year. That's what I'm aiming for. We'll see if I have enough material for the book. Without a weekly deadline, I have not produced as much humor as I have in years past. Something about a deadline--and a paycheck--kept me pounding away at the keyboard. While some of the columns produced during that time weren't that funny, many were.

My problem is willpower or lack thereof. No surprise there. Hard to whip myself or reward myself enough to keep me at the keyboard. That's getting better, but I'm not where I should be.

In other news, I've been looking around for software to ultimately replace Windows and Word. The latest version of Ubuntu has many good qualities, and perhaps if I spent a few weeks with it, I would become accustomed to its quirks and abilities. Right now, I don't have time or the desire to do so. Particularly with all these projects going on. Today was frustrating because I messed with Ubuntu for several hours and could never accomplish what I needed it to do. I'm sure it's possible, but I don't have the hours to spend. My energy is limited right now, and I can't spend it on what doesn't deliver, even though it might in the future.

Eventually, Microsoft will make me mad enough to change over. Their policy of "change for the sake of change" is endlessly annoying. They have design people, though, whose jobs depend on them making changes, even if those changes are necessarily productive or useful. The changes will keep coming. You'd think they would have learned from Windows 8, but the lessons don't seem to have stuck.

This week:
More chores. There are always chores to be done. Always.
More dieting. Low carb. Never craved bread as much as I do now.
More writing. Floozy Comes Back and Murder by the Mile are the two projects that are commanding my time and attention. And both deserve all I can give them.
More editing. I'm trying to edit a story for a friend. It's too long, but I don't want to cut the "flavor" of the piece.

Hope you have a great week! Talk to you soon.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Tech can only take you so far

In years past, I coveted the newest tech, particularly writing programs and faster computers. The idea I had was that "if only I had that writing program (faster computer, larger hard drive, etc.) I would be a successful author." Or certainly more productive.

And some of that turned out to be true. Word processing programs (WordPerfect and Wordstar--remember them?) allowed me to write two of my books (Murder by Dewey Decimal and Murder by the Acre) faster and with less errors than my Smith-Corona electric typewriter. And as those programs added spelling checkers and formatting, they became even more useful. Eventually, Microsoft Word out-marketed them, and I switched and never looked back.

However, eventually you come to the realization that tech has done all it can do. Oh, there are some writing programs out there that offer options for writing in various forms, but they help you only be more productive if you're writing in the first place. They automate tasks that writers do more often than other people, like creating table of contents, indexes, etc. They don't write the book or screenplay or play. Tech only take you so far; ultimately, your success in writing--or in life--is up to you.

This realization was hard for me. For one, it took away my justification for the latest and greatest computer--I had always enjoyed upgrading for the speed and sheer geekiness of it. The second reason it was hard because it placed the onus for my success--or lack of--only on me. It was...painful.

Lately, I have been reading and re-reading Your Own Worst Enemy by Dr. Kenneth W. Christian. The book has the subtitle on the cover: "Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement." As I've worked my way through the book, I've seen myself in so many chapters. It's like he wrote the book for me; I wish I had read it in my twenties. Over the years, I've read dozens of self-help and self-improvement books, but none of them spoke to me the way this book has. I cannot recommend it highly enough for any creative person who is frustrated by how they sabotage their creative efforts.

While doing the exercises the book recommends, I've also been working on three writing projects. I will publish at least one book of my own this year and hope to do two. Your Own Worst Enemy has allowed me to push aside fears and self-limiting behavior. I hope it--or something else--can do the same for you when you're stalled in life.

And besides chores and doctors' visits, that's my life right now. I hope life is treating you well. It not...make it do so!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Publishing news

It's been a long frustrating day, but many things were accomplished, some of which probably shouldn't have been, but there you go. In good news, much planning has been going on for the anthology Blackbirds Third Flight. So far, we have authors Heath Stallcup, Wendy Blanton, Jean Schara, Gail Henderson, and myself in place. We are "wooing" three others who will add new perspectives to the annual anthology. I don't know how people produce a monthly magazine, though. Just getting this out yearly takes a lot of effort!

In personal news, I also wanted to tell you Floozy Comes Back is also on track for publication this year. Yes, another collection of my mishaps and adventures for people to enjoy. It's good to know my bruises and pain are a funny thing for people. But in a loving way, I'm sure. Sort of sure.

And just because I'm sharing writing news: The first five chapters of Murder by the Mile are being proofed. I haven't scheduled that book for publication this year, but it looks increasingly likely that this will be the year of three books for me. Can't promise it, but it looks that way.

Otherwise, I spend too much time at the doctor's office. I don't exercise enough, but I'm trying. Don't eat right, but I'm trying. Don't accomplish enough, but by golly and by dingo, I'm trying.

How are you doing?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Buying a phone and other terrors

I bought a new phone. Control your excitement. As always, switching from the old to the new caused great anxiety. The change was overdue as my old phone—Josephine—could only charge if you bent the plug in a certain way and often would reboot in the middle of calls. Of course, I had dropped her many times, so I’m not blaming the phone, but I would have been content to use her for years more. Alas, poor Josephine had met her Waterloo.

It would have been easier to select a new phone if there weren’t so many models. While selling insurance, I learned to never present more than three plans; too many choices confused customers and left them unable to make decisions.

I determined to not be overwhelmed. I had a plan. I had willpower. Wasn’t I able to reduce hardened telemarketers to tears? Wasn’t I capable of getting exactly what I wanted from restaurants? I marched confidently into the cell phone store. Thirty minutes later, I was draped across a counter surrounded by dozens of phones and calling plans while the evil salesman kept pulling out other options. Black, white, silver, green, hideously pink, red, blue, and purple phones. Large screens, small screens, big bezels, small bezels, less memory, more memory, 12 meg cameras, apps, apps, apps... Shattered, I left the store without buying a phone.

I decided I would have no cell phone. None! But my roomie said I had to have a phone at least for vehicle emergencies. (My car is getting old; there are fewer and fewer places to buy coal for it.) Although I told him I would start life anew wherever my car broke down, he insisted.

This time I went to the people I should have gone to in the first place: my roomie's children and their helpful spouses who do things with their phones that would get them burned at the stake as witches if cell phones had been around when witch burning was a town celebration. Finally, after much deliberation and even more complaining, I picked one, but the sale was over, so I thought I would have to start over. Everyone groaned, and there may have been some weeping.

Fortunately, phone companies have more sales than Wal-Mart. The phone I picked went on a sale at an even better price! I marched down to the store, and an hour later, I owned my very first smart phone with text, Internet, data plan, and more apps than I will ever use.

It’s been a couple of weeks, and I do like the phone, although I have discovered a few things about it that give me pause.

First, since my old phone had the text capacity of a telegraph, I rarely knew what was going. Crisis after crisis was solved with me never knowing about them since I couldn’t read group texts. Now, I’m in the know. To put in my two cents: I don’t think he’s cheating on you; yes, she dyes her hair; the llamas should be set free; he had his neck lifted; and you should see a doctor about that rash immediately.

Second, I’ve had to get used to actually carrying a phone. I rarely had my old phone unless I was in the car. In fact, it was rarely charged, but I had a car charger. Now, I have to keep track of it.

Third, I never worried about anyone stealing Josephine. Who would want the poor thing? And while my phone isn’t an iPhone®—I have not been assimilated by Apple®—it could be a target. More reason to keep track of it.

Finally, sales people are actually calling me on my cell phone. Of course, they rapidly learn that is unwise. And I shouldn’t really complain. There are few things finer than listening to telemarketers weep in the morning.

(Excepted from Floozy Comes Back by Stephen B. Bagley. Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sometimes

Sometimes the sun doesn't break through the thundering clouds.
Sometimes the cavalry doesn't arrive in the nick of time.
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you lose.

God knows I've been there. At times, it's felt like I've lived there. Maybe I still am. Maybe when you've been defeated so many times, you start looking at defeats as the norm. It's the way of the world, you tell yourself. You adopt an ironic attitude with a drenching of fatalism and a sprinkling of desert dry wit. And what you dream...those are dreams for your next life.

I understand this. I know how easy it is to give up and how hard it is to go on when you've learned your dreams are too big and life is too hard. The wind breaks the butterfly's wings; the rain drowns the tiny scurrying hearts.

Still...it's not comfortable accepting defeat. You gain nothing by sitting there in your sorrows except the satisfaction of telling the world that you won't play anymore. It won't have you to kick around. You'll just withdraw. Take your toys and go home.

I guess, for some people, that's enough. The world beat them; they accept their defeat with grace and take pride in that.

But me...I'm stubborn. You're stubborn. There's nothing wrong with taking a break, catching our breath, having a bit of rest to recharge. But we have to get back out there. We have to face the wind and trek through the driving rain. Yeah, our dreams are big, but who wants small ones?

Remember, things don't happen to us; we happen to things. The world has teeth, that is true, but...friends, we got fangs.

(For CK)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Great Quote

"What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. ... Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon." -- Anne Lamott

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Time will tell

Had a productive day today. Very pleased with this. Checked a lot of items off my list.

Wish I could understand how this works. One day I am back in the groove, and then next day, I'm stumbling around again. Today I was in the groove and got a lot done. I would like to get several days like this in a row. That would be amazing.

In the past, I could do that. But for nearly three years, I have not. Perhaps the fact I get the groove days every now and then is a sign that I'm finally...finally...getting my mojo back. Don't want to get my hopes up...hope can kill you, you know...but the possibility is exciting. Perhaps I've finally turned the corner.

Time will tell.

And yeah, I'm hopeful, anyway. Sue me.