Blogging Face Deployed

Or why I was almost late to the bus on Monday

My “this is getting blogged” face doesn’t really work when there’s no one around to see it, as happened this morning. I was leaving home and traveling up the big road that connects to our road.

A bit of explanation for those not from the South: a “big road” is one that has fast moving traffic on it and leads to an “even bigger road.” For those familiar with Greenville, South Carolina, the “big road” in question is Keith Drive, in the Overbrook area.

So back to me traveling along the big road on my way to the four way stop at Lowndes Hill Road. Y’all, four way stops are the absolute bane of my existence because NO ONE KNOWS HOW TO USE THEM. You get to proceed based on WHO GOT THERE WHEN unless you all, miraculously, arrived at the same time. There was no such miracle this morning.

I got there first, then the car in the oncoming lane and THEN the car to my right rolled to a stop…or so I thought as I proceeded into the intersection. Car To My Right pulled out in front of me and turned right, I suppose, because I was moving too slowly for conditions. That condition seemed to be late arrival at work at the Greenville Humane Society, if the next few minutes were any indication.

I texted hubs to ask if he knew of anyone there with a vehicle matching that description and he didn’t, so we moved on…sort of. Y’all…it is not hard to wait your turn. Not hard. The fact that you didn’t make it out of the house on time to get to work is not a Go Through Every Intersection First guarantee. Sorry. I’m just glad I was moving slowly or else I would have known for sure who was driving that car because it would have become part of the front end of my car.

So, happy Wednesday, and if you haven’t already, review the rules on four way stops. This is why our country can’t have nice things like proper roundabouts…there would be carnage.

Coming soon…but not THAT soon.

So you may have noticed that the book I last blogged about was touted as “the first in a trilogy.” As my mother-in-law said, that’s a lot of work, doing three books instead of just one! It was, and it has consumed a great deal of my life over the last decade. See that picture over there? That’s how my books begin their life, as word documents that may never, ever see the light of day. The fact that this one has clip art on the alleged front matter you see there means either that I needed some inspiration or I was trying to hide from the revision process. Or both.

I have a wonderful friend that is serving as my reader and editor. He is not the first to read the manuscripts and give me feedback – the first reader was mostly looking for plot holes big enough to fit a dragon through and story arcs that dived off cliffs, never to be resolved. I’m so grateful to him for his work, too – when you have spent this long looking at a bunch of words on the screen and you know what plugs the holes and ferries the plot back skyward it is often hard to see those issues.

I have an unfortunate tendency to think that everyone knows what is in my brain and therefore does not need to slog through what I think is boring exposition. Not so, advised my second reader/editor. It was his suggestion that some readers like to make organic discoveries about the story universe as they go along that led me to take out a large and unwieldy chunk of Wanderer and rehome it in the novel it was meant to be in all along – Prequel To Be Named Later. These are things that I simply cannot see in my own work, and makes me understand why normal authors that do this for a living have things like agents and editors to help them along.

Second editor (that sounds a bit like second breakfast, doesn’t it?) also helped me with the cover design. This led to major revelation number two: I can let go of control of the Novel Process without letting go of the novel. I don’t need to go full Elsa on it. I need to admit to what I cannot do, and gratefully accept help from those that can do. When I do, I get stunning book covers like the one on Wanderer, and hopefully on the rest of the Orana books.  The swooshy looking thing up there will be replaced by something much better.

So Tempest is away with Second Editor, and once that process is done I will do the revisions needed and hopefully get this beast into the hands of my readers by the first of the year. Impatient Nancy says THAT IS THREE WHOLE MONTHS FROM NOW AND FOUR WHOLE MONTHS AFTER WANDERER WHAT GIVES MAN? But rational me knows that while I say first of the year it will most likely be February if not later. And that’s okay. Mostly. Excuse me while I put Impatient Nancy back in her box.

If you haven’t checked out Wanderer and you have a Nook or a Kindle, give it a go and then let me know here or on Facebook what you think. If you have checked it out, see the previous request for feedback. It is a scary thing to send a piece of work out into the wide world and to have no idea how things are going…if it is drinking or doing drugs, or needs bus fare, or has a mountain of laundry. So while you are discovering Gin and Sath, I’m going to go ring my mother.

Well, it was good while it lasted…

Annoyed face, Louvre, Summer 2012

I was really trying to avoid being political on the Lettuce, but some things are just more important, it seems. Or more obvious. Or…well, I just have to talk about some things, and not into the confirmation bias that is my Facebook feed (for the most part) or my family or close friends.

This is also not an attempt to distract from anything that the Cheeto-In-Chief is doing or not doing to wreck our world via Twitter or his “speeches” or any of that. I was asked a question this morning at work, and I’m going to answer it here because I think it is important enough to answer twice.
I was asked the following question:
“What do you think about the kneeling thing?”
Been under a rock or so laser-focused on 45’s latest tweet-storm implosion that you don’t know what I mean? I was asked about the latest wave of non-violent protests happening mostly in the world of pro-sports: athletes taking a knee during the national anthem at sporting events rather than standing and singing or covering their heart with their hand as is customary in this country.
Quick disclaimer: it is CUSTOMARY but not a legal requirement of any kind. Therefore it is up to the individual. Clear? Good, now we can continue.
My answer, as I was hurrying to class, was two pronged: While I completely understand the reasoning behind the decision to kneel and share in the belief that our country does not represent or protect all of its citizens equally, I also think that the hype over a person’s choice is overblown and probably meant to distract us from what is actually going on in the White House.
You may now don your tin foil caps if you like.
Let’s address “the kneeling thing” in parts, shall we? Firstly, it is because the Department of Defense gives LOADS of money to sporting groups that we have the national anthem performed at the beginning of American football games, basketball games, baseball games, etc. It is not, as some would have you believe, something that the NFL and others do out of a profound and genuine sense of patriotism or national pride. That may be a factor as well, but I’m sure that the money doesn’t hurt.
Secondly, for all those that are touting the mandate to stand and the requirement by law to honor the flag…well…one of the few things that are NOT legally required is to stand or salute/hand on heart if you are not active duty military (or maybe any category of military service). Interesting.
Third, for those loud voices in the back calling this an affront to the sacrifices of our military veterans and those currently serving…they did not do what they have done and continue to do so that you are forced to behave a certain way in a certain situation. Freedom does not have subtext here. They fought so that the people who call themselves Americans can think for themselves and make their own decisions so that they can follow their own beliefs and support or not support things based on those beliefs. So to say that anyone that chooses to protest in this manner is insulting those that fought for our freedom is just plain wrong. Sorry. My father served in the Army, my uncles served in the Army and Air Force, and one of them was a POW and I can almost promise you that none of them thought they were serving in order to make sure we would all be told when to stand, kneel, or salute. I am proud of all of them and thankful for their service, but I’m not going to use their service as an excuse here. Not. Happening.
Finally, my thoughts on the actual thing that they are protesting? I wholeheartedly agree with their message. 110%. Y’all, why would you honor and support and defend a country that doesn’t do the same for you? Why would a Deaf person be bound to stand for the national anthem when no one cares enough to make sure the interpreter is visible during that song? Why would you stand up for a country when you see faces that look like yours being shot by those in authority everyday with little to no repercussion?
This is not a protest directly against 45, but it is certainly fueled by him being in office. His campaign rhetoric and continued pandering to a certain ugly side of our country have emboldened those to come out of their shadows, unfurl their flags, and put on their hoods. They don’t have to worry about immigrants because there will be a wall. They don’t need to sort out interpreters because if you speak English, you don’t need one. Healthcare is a privilege just like a quality education, and if the majority of his base would just work harder then they can afford both. No job you say? No problem… Once we get all the foreigners out of here and look after America First, everyone will have a job and be prosperous.
Also, welcome back to the 1950’s.
It will be very difficult for me to interpret the national anthem when I am required to do so at events on campus, and I feel lucky to have a team interpreter that may be willing to do that for me because I’m not sure I can anymore. I think back to when I was living in the UK and got teary eyed every time I heard the Star Spangled Banner…I still do now, but the sentiment is very different.

Once again, into the breach…err, semester…

Willow-Pickle's head on the dog bed giving me side eye
Trying the blog thing again are you? Pardon me if I don’t stay
awake until you leave it hanging…again… -Willow-Pickle

Here we find ourselves again, dear friends, my handful or so of Lettuce readers, my Lettuce Heads… Oh, I like that, I think I’m keeping it. You are my Lettuce Heads. Yes.

Sorry, moving on…
Here we are again at the beginning of another semester at Clemson. It is fall, so there is the influx of TOO MANY FRESHMEN that makes class scheduling a nightmare at best and my spreadsheet for captioning a never ending work in process.
Welcome to life in Student Accessibility Services, I suppose.
Those lights in tunnels that I spoke about back in May are still burning. GARF was an amazing experience for this seasoned rennie performer that brought loads of new friends and happy memories and bits to try at other faires. The lack of coffee meetings (and overall lack of Daisy) was hard to manage but we moved onward and upward. I’m now on the cusp of the Enchanted Chalice and CRF, and while I am looking forward to again being in my element I’m finding it difficult to bring up the same amount of joy and anticipation that I am already feeling when I think of next year at GARF. I suppose everyone has their niche, and mine is Newcastle.
That makes me laugh everytime I say it, since my parents-in-law live in a village near Newcastle. The real Newcastle. The one filled with Geordies that doesn’t pull a Brigadoon in the mist every summer in June.
Nothing new to report, really, other than general personal growth over the summer. Coffee meetings with Daisy morphed into snuggly telly time with Willow (and Bryn, when she isn’t being ENTIRELY TOO GROWN UP TO MANAGE A SNUGGLE ANYMORE). Work was steady over the summer, so I was out of the house a lot. I missed dance and poi, but that will start back in a few weeks now that I have a steady paycheck. 
Steady. That’s the word for the summer. 
Coming up though? Watch this space, there’s news on the Nature Walker front. That’s all I can say at the moment, but I’m about to burst here. WATCH.THIS.SPACE

Lights at the Ends of Various Tunnels

Me and my girl at GARF,
photo courtesy of the Southern Travel Guide

Yeah, the last post was pretty grim, and if I’m honest, the work situation (that I still can’t talk about) hasn’t gotten any better, but there have been bright spots and that’s what we are going to focus on in THIS post.

One of them is featured in the photo: The Georgia Renaissance Festival. Now, this is not a new thing, not by a longshot, but apparently, the fourteenth year is the charm, hoopskirt issue notwithstanding. I have made friends at GARF in the past, cast members and vendors and directors and the like, but this year just feels different. I feel at home in “Newcastle” in a way I have yet to feel at home in “Fairhaven” after fifteen years in what we refer to as the Northern Kingdom.

What has changed? Me? Having Bryn? I don’t know. But this past weekend, I was able to play, really play, with both the cast and with my partner in crime, Lucy to my Ethel, and the only other member of HOEF that does more than one or two weekends at GARF, Anne. Perhaps it is the beautiful friendship that has formed between her Bo and my Bryn. Perhaps it is Anne’s extrovert that brings my introvert along, often kicking and screaming, to get to know the cast.

Whatever it is, I am profoundly sad on days that I have to miss attending GARF, even though it means a 5 am start every Saturday and a late afternoon arrival back home, dirty and sweaty and hot every Sunday between the middle of April and the first weekend in June. I long to be in the lanes, even though that means pulling turkey tendons out of Bryn’s mouth and replacing steak sandwiches that she snatches in the blink of an eye. I dream of the joust, and of watching with pride as Bryn thumps her tail when her favorite princess rides by, upside down in her saddle, even though I’m fighting the reflection of the sun off the light colored sand which is swirling about in my eyes and nose.

I’m hoping that this feeling of Rennie family will continue into the fall when I am again with my HOEF family in the dog barn on the eastern side of Fairhaven, and that we can project the kind of skilled performance that we are learning at GARF into our wonderfully laid back home at the Enchanted Chalice in Greenville, SC. Vikings ahoy!

I did say tunnels in the title, didn’t I? While GARF is the light at the end of one tunnel, the fact that I only have four days left until my summer break is certainly another. But that tunnel is not quite as bright because I will have several months of empty coffee meetings to look forward to without Daisy. While it hasn’t been easy without her, it has been easier because I’ve had work to distract me. Without my daily commute to Clemson, I am going to have to face what our reality looks like now; no queen on the end of my bed, huffing because I’ve rearranged my legs and accidentally knocked her about. No beautiful blonde/red fawn fur glimmering in the green grass of the back yard as she sunbathes. No teeth chattering in my ear.

But you see that muppet in the picture with me? She is a light of her own, and she and Willow are there to distract me when they can and snuggle with me when they can’t. Their light comes to find me in my tunnel and shines into the darkness to remind me to keep moving forward.

Finally, there is light at the end of the Superginormous Manuscript tunnel…book one in the three book series that it has become is almost ready to go to Amazon, and that is both exciting and horrifying. I took the first Camp Nanowrimo to edit the second book, and am not working on editing/fleshing out the third in between expense reports and mad garb sewing/laundering. So all in all, my life has far more light than dark. I just need to be able to remember that and hang on to it…and keep moving.