Second Serving Sunday: The Greening Up Edition


A weekly peek backwards and a look ahead, from my little corner of the blogosphere

Life Stuff:

My last Second Serving Sunday post: The A-Z CampNaNo Edition

  • Click the link for my recent posting history!

This week was – interesting. Yes. That’s the word I’m going with.

It started with my daughter getting sick shortly after I got home from my write-in last Sunday night. Monday had her on the couch, sleeping on and off all day. I call her the Force of Nature, and not because she’s generally sedentary. The whole vibe shifted, without her kinetic energy bubbling through everything else.

Tuesday was even more interesting. My Accomplice got the stomach bug, just as my daughter was recovering. The aging dog decided that the cat needed chasing – that’s something that happens a couple of times a week. But this time he caught her, and ‘played’ with her. He got a lacerated nose; she hid under the sink for two days before emerging, still stiff and sore, but jumping and climbing. She’s now curled up on my bed, and I’m making a point to wear the dog out more often, to avoid further angst and injury, and promote healthier canine/feline relations (or at least a detente!).

I’m kind of glad the second part of the week was more mellow, you know?

In other news, I’m gearing up to dive into Act Three of my first CampNaNo novel(-la?), Transitions (KIC#1) ; I’ve done the majority of the plotting for Generations (KIC#2). I’m on schedule with my Blogging from A-Z April Challenge,  and I’m planning to finish up and submit my ROW80 sponsor post later today.

And now, last week’s features:

ROW80: The Writing Challenge That Knows You Have A Life.

Eight Sentence Sunday:

  • Introductions” : A young potter named Corinne is introduced to two older men…opening paragraphs of my Kifo Island Chronicles novella-in-progress, Transitions.

Coffee and Conversation:

  • On April hiatus.

WIPpet Wednesday:

  • Until Today? Terrance has suspicions, and what he thought were the unshakable foundations of his marriage might be crumbling. More from Transitions (Kifo Island Chronicles #1).

SoCS (Stream of Consciousness Saturday):

A-Z Challenge: Traveling my Way Through the Alphabet in April!

  • Everglades and Eagles: We travel back to the River of Grass to visit some wildlife; then out west to Yellowstone, for a close encounter of the bald eagle kind.
  • Havasu Falls:  A trip to the place of the blue-green waters, and a new stage in a relationship’s journey…
  • In the Dark: How do you feel about being in the dark – now, how about in a cave or underwater cavern?
  • Joshua Trees:  Music can inspire and transport us to unexpected and wondrous places – sometimes, literally.

What’s Next:

April Focuses:

  • Setting ROW80 goals for Round Two, which starts on April 6.
  • Completing 60,000 words for CampNaNo (roughly two novellas).
  • Draft two Kifo Island Chronicles novellas: Transitions and Generations.
  • Complete the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge.
  • Planning and plotting for Story A Day May, when I will explore more stories for The IDIC Romance.

Sneak Preview:

  • For Coffee and Conversation: C and C is on April hiatus. There will be an A-Z post each week, so feel free to stop by any Monday, and enjoy!
  • For WIPpet Wednesday: New stuff for April – July. I’ll be sharing whatever I’m writing, when I get to Wednesday. This week, one last snippet from Transitions, before I begin drafting Generations.
  • Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS):A post based on the weekly prompt, TBA Friday. Might be fiction, or not, but it’s always surprising!
  • Eight Sentence Sunday: Eight sentences from my Kifo Island Chronicles novellas, Transitions and Generations, throughout April. We’ve got one more from Transitions, and then Generations takes center stage.
  • ROW80 Updates: My progress on my current and/or long term goals for A Round of Words in 80 Days, posted on or near Sunday and Wednesday, beginning April 5, with my Round Two goals post.

In the Wilds of Internet-Land:

May your week ahead exceed your wildest expectations! Spring is finally here, and I’m…


WIPpet Wednesday: Losses and Lateness

Why, hello there! I know, I kind of disappeared for the last couple of weeks. Internet connectivity was almost non-existent while we were on vacation (my one afternoon slated for solitary time at a wi-fi equipped coffeehouse while my family went out on dune buggies was a fail – the Internet was out, and the dune buggies were still closed for the season…

And then, on Friday, right before we got on an airplane in Portland, OR, headed to Chicago, and then Albany, NY and home, I read the news….

Leonard Nimoy had died that morning. For those who read here often, you know this is a Big Deal to me, for many reasons.

And, yesterday, my laptop stopped recognizing its power adaptor. Fortunately, it’s still under warranty, but I’m now using my son’s battered little Lenovo, and it’s – well, not fast.

So I’m a bit…discombobulated. But here, and ready to get back into the WIPpet swing…

Disclaimer: Paramount claims to own Spock – but I think he’s the universe’s, now, if he wasn’t already. I take it as a matter of honor to treat him well.

WIPpet Math:

  • Only the math of grief.

This passage is from my November NaNoWriMo novel, The Earth Doth Move. A very young Spock contemplates his dual heritage, and his future, while he dreams. He’s visited by some important figures in his life…figures with conflicting viewpoints…

Spock dreamed that he was on her world, running with her, in Huntform, through the wild places where she made her home. He dreamed too that she was awaiting him on Earth, that, if he could only reach that planet, she would be there, when his craft landed, and they would be together.

Would he still accept the appointment with Starfleet Academy, if he had no need to reach her?

“Don’t rock the boat, son.” Trip’s voice, or that of his katra, delivering a message that Spock did not wholly understand…but then they were on a rocking boat, moving across a vast Forge made only of water, with no land in sight, anywhere, and Spock felt ill as the craft plunged through wave after wave, cold salted water – WATER! – slapping him, icy and terrifying.

“Don’t rock the boat, son.” Mother stood beside Trip; they spoke together. “It’s impossible to unring a bell.”

Spock wanted to ask them what they meant, because the words made no sense. But, when he opened his mouth to speak, the salt spray drove into him. pouring into his Breathsource, so that he gagged and retched and coughed, and could not speak.

“You will not rock the boat. You will not ring a bell, if it cannot then be unrung. You will meditate, and practice the mind rules until you have mastered them. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the desires of two young ones not yet old enough to decide the details of their lives.”

Father did not speak to him, not as one would to a son. No, he was issuing edicts, as though he were in the Council Chambers, as though he were master of the forces and pulls within Spock, as though being his father- his Vulcan father – made it so.

“Thee dost not- and WILT not master me, Sarek. I am myself; I have the right to myself, to what makes me unlike any other. It is mine; I decide how I shall share it. Not thee. Never thee!”

“Don’t rock the boat, son. It’s impossible to unring a bell.” What did it mean that the only two humans in his life- Mother, and the katra of T’Pol’s dead husband, spoke together, in solidarity, as they shared the human vernacular that was so alien to his ears and his mind. Who were these humans, and why did they so compel him, draw him, toward themselves and their strange wet world? The force of gravity could not pull him from so far away – and yet, it did. Its pressure was a constant force upon him, drawing him nearer, drawing him to a home that had never truly been his, but which was, nonetheless, his birthright, as much as the world of red skies and sand ever honing the sharpened edges of obsidian cliffs.

Humans speak truth; but they speak it in their own ways. Often, they use images intended to be evocative, and sometimes provocative. Their words are intended to paint a picture- not a realistic one, but one that combines senses and emotions blended with cultural awareness. The boat and the bell are metaphors, Spock, and the actions ascribed to these metaphors deepen and shift them.”

As always, there were messages and layers in T’Pol’s words, and her vast stores of life and knowledge offered smoothing. One day, perhaps, he would be as she was – venerable, but not unapproachable; wise, but not unkind; aged, but not rigid of belief.

Which voice should Spock listen to? Would his own be better? Will he succumb to Earth’s pull, or Vulcan’s? His unknown bondmate, and her claim on him?

Of course, I’m not telling yet! Next week, we’ll return to get reacquainted with Tisira, at the moment that precipitates her sudden birth. That was supposed to happen last week, but, for reasons I don’t yet understand, the post misfired…

That’s life, sometimes….

And here’s a treat!

#LoIsInDaBl Day 19: A Whole Lotta Cousins!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Here’s an interesting tidbit about me. On my father’s side, I have 32 first cousins. Yes, that’s right. My grandparents had six children. Between them, they produced 36 grandchildren – me, and my three siblings, and thirty -two others.

What’s this have to do with anything? Well, today at Love Is In Da Blog, Bee prompts us to write about aunts, uncles, and/or cousins.

Most of these cousins are older than me – my father was the fifth of those six children, and his oldest sibling, my Uncle Leo (a former firefighter, and a lot nicer and more fun than Jerry’s Uncle Leo on Seinfeld), is twelve years older. The effect was that Uncle Leo’s youngest child was the age of my older brother, eldest in our family. I barely knew one of the older children until I was a teenager. I played with several second cousins just a few years younger than me.

Most of my cousins grew up far away – many in South Carolina, some in Virginia. I saw them on occasion, growing up, for days at a time, so I knew them well enough to carry on conversations and play with, but not well enough to ever feel – well, casual, I guess – around them.

But we had a helper, in my Grandpa Foster.

For all of our childhoods, Grandpa would take Super Eight silent films as he traveled from family to family, with my grandma until she died when I was nine, and then alone. The main attraction, when he came to have dinner with us, was to have his movie screen set up in the living room after we ate, and it was dark enough for the movies. We’d watch the films as he ran the projector, and it was a huge honor to be asked to be his assistant.

We’d watch the movies of our cousins living their lives, showing off new toys, new skills, new clothes, new teeth…sharing their favorite things. There’d be new movies and old favorites. They’d be spooled together, their families merging with ours, hodgepodge, the way sprawling families get all tangled up together. And, because I saw bits and pieces of their lives in this way, and because my grandfather almost always narrated, I felt that I knew them.

Other times, he’d bring the camera, and something upon which to write the date, and he’d film our lives-of-the-moment, and I could imagine my cousins somewhere far away, watching the movies when it was their turn.

There was an air of magic and mystery to the whole process.

Decades have passed since my grandfather died in 1987, the same year I graduated. Many of my cousins were already adults by then, living their own lives, and, as time passed, we gradually lost touch without the cohesive force he had provided –

The Internet has reconnected me with several of my cousins. It’s a little like those old movies. I get to peek into bits of their everyday lives. I get to know them in a new way. But, this time, they have control of what they share….

And I can share what I want of my life, too…

I think my Grandpa would be very happy about that. =)

Looking for more Love Is In Da Blog? Find it right here! 

Me, as a baby. Photo supplied by my cousin Heather, who lives in Virginia, via Faebook.

#LoIsInDaBl Day 13: Carnage on Love’s Battlefield

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Today, Bee prompted us to write about violence in love, perhaps using this Pat Benatar song as an inspiration.

When I first heard, “Love is a Battlefield”, as a high schooler, I thought of it only in terms of romantic love, and I wasn’t sure I agreed. I imagined a chessboard that took over an entire landscape, rolling over mountains and valleys. It was there that the battle was raged, each time I heard the song- the male and female warriors constantly driving against one another, trying to win.

It would be nearly two decades before I realized that romantic love doesn’t offer the only killing ground. It can be there in any purportedly loving relationship, when someone puts their wants ahead of another’s need, or uses greater power, capacity, or authority to menace and force others to their will…

I couldn’t see it when I lived on the battlefield, but I was raised with the certainty that love can and does hurt, that the powerful would dominate the weak, and that it was self-preservation to always, ALWAYS be wary of the people around you, and the circumstances, because guarded truces and cease-fires could end with no warning at all. Annihilation of spirit and assaults to the body were givens- always just a matter of time.

Our home was love’s battlefield, and the wars couldn’t be avoided.

It’s hard to understand that, if it’s all that you’ve known. It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I began to realize it. Without any intention of doing so, I’d dug trenches, armed myself, and designated front lines in my own home, with my own husband and little children. I didn’t know, really, that it could be another way for us.

I also didn’t know how strongly certain defense mechanisms were embedded in me, and that, when one was triggered, I wasn’t capable of responding with logic or compassion. Nope, it was straight-on fight or flight, just as it had been when I was a kid, and had no way out. Afterward, I’d be sorry – but there was so much I didn’t know that it would happen again, and again.

One of the best things I’ve ever done to learn to build a lasting peace -in my home, my family, and my life – was to read Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames, by Thich Nhat Hanh. It helped me to see my rage in new ways, and to pay attention to it, and what it was trying to tell me, rather than hide from it, or be controlled by it.

When I realized that I was triggered by my husband sighing because my father had often sighed just before he launched into a fit of rage that could end with me on the floor trying to avoid his blows, I was also able to realize that my Accomplice sighs when he’s content, or frustrated, or angry – but that he’s never once laid a hand on me in anger. When we argued, and he stood in the doorway, I wasn’t reacting to him, so much as the old terror of being a trapped child who couldn’t escape what were often untenable and frightening circumstances.

I was unfairly judging my husband on the basis of a family history he doesn’t share and can’t truly understand. And it was causing problems in our marriage, and our family. I’ve since learned that the “fight-or-flight” instinct lasts about 90 seconds. If I can resist it that long, I will be able to think more clearly, and choose more wisely.

It made me see my own responses, and the things that precipitated them, in a new light. It helped me learn to assess each situation only by itself. It’s been a few years, and we now have a far more peaceful home.

Something else came from this learning. I understand my parents in a way I didn’t, before. I think back to my childhood, and wonder how many things each day triggered memories of their own childhoods. There was certainly a “flashpoint” quality to their rages that extended well into my adulthood. I suspect many people may be responding to triggers from their own pasts when they unleash their furies – and that they have no idea, usually, that the problem isn’t nearly so much with the current target of their rage than with the long-ago perpetrator….

I’m estranged from my parents, because there seemed no other way to dismantle the trappings of a battlefield in those relationships. But I don’t blame them for the carnage in my childhood; I think I understand, even if I choose not to engage.

Because there is a choice, for me, now. I don’t have to live out the pattern I was raised within, and love doesn’t have to be a battlefield, here, in my life.

And it isn’t.

It’s a lot more like this (yes, including the wonderful silliness!):

Looking for more Love Is In Da Blog? Find it right here! 

#LoIsInDaBl Day 5: Love, Service, and Paradigm Shifts, Oh My!


Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

How do you show others that you love them? For that matter, how do you know you do? And, while we’re on the subject, just what the heck is this love thing, anyway?

Today, Bee‘s prompt urges us to consider opinionated love – the darker aspects of the feeling. My own idea for the day was to write about love through service. I’m going to combine these ideas.

This last week, I cleaned every piece of the kids’ wooden train set. The kids used it often when they were little, but hadn’t for a while. But when I suggested giving it away, they balked; they still wanted it. So I cleaned each piece with oil soap, and scrubbed the bin, making it usable and inviting again…it was a high-detail, time-intensive activity, and it made me happy.

There was a time, a few years ago, when I saw life very differently. Back then, it seemed that my whole life was wrapped up in maintaining my obligations to my extended family unit. I often felt, hugely taken advantage of, used, taken for granted, and left holding the bag.

My pet peeve was, and, sometimes, still is, cleaning.

All cleaned up! I finished while watching Shakespeare Uncovered.

When I saw so much of life as odious duty, I expected to be appreciated for “getting it done”. When someone made a mess in an area I had just cleaned, I was and furious to have my work “undone”, my limited energy “wasted”, my time “devalued”.

My hard work and constant struggle to live up to standards of cleanliness was in conflict with the realities of my life. And, when it got to be too much, I would explode at the nearest targets.

One night, when the kids were about 5 and 2, my Accomplice came home to find them both sitting on the low steps to our sunken living room, sobbing – and me in the room, screaming and screeching while I gesturing wildly and flung things around. He called me a monster, and I turned on him. I knew what it was to live with abuse; this was nowhere near as bad, and these kids were lucky to have me as their mother.

I thought that I showed my love by being a good mother, and a good wife. I measured my ‘goodness’ by how I kept the house and kids, and by being vigilantly, by instilling values into my children, by doing things that could be easily measured.

But my children were afraid of me when I yelled, and my husband thought I was a monster, and I was echoing things that had been said to me when I was a kid – things I’d sworn I would never say, if I was ever anyone’s mother.

And then I read this amazing post on service.  It changed the way I saw my role in my family. Over time, it’s made a huge difference in the way I approach the matters of home and hearth – what I now call ‘hometending’, to remind myself of what my objective is in doing it.

A new resting place.

Now, I do only the homtending I want to do each day, and, I try to do them with a spirit of service.

I don’t expect things to stay clean forever, once I clean them. Clean spaces are meant for living in, and living, at least here, tends toward a degree of untidiness that can spiral at times of intense activity or intense growth.

Learning how to remain calm when I’m overwhelmed – but I see that learning, too, as a gift of service, not only to my family, but to myself…because it doesn’t help anything to launch into a diatribe about it, and it makes the problem feel insurmountable.

These days, I’m more likely to ask someone to pitch in, when I’m overwhelmed. I accept that ‘no’ is a possible answer – and I accept that I can say no, too. I even do, sometimes, when I can’t bring a spirit of service to my hometending.

And what about the trains? They were almost immediately back in use…after which I found them a new place in my study to live, so that they won’t get grubby again…

Cleaning them was a service – a labor of love, and a way of showing, not that I’m a “good mom” who keeps kids and house clean, because other things didn’t get cleaned while I was busy with the trains – and, let’s face it, it’s rather invisible as efforts go.

I was demonstrating my love, my willingness to go “out of my way” for their benefit. I could’ve left the bin grubby, or given the trains away over protests; there was a time when I would have done one or the other, most likely as a “logical consequence” of some perceived misdeed.

Instead, I cleaned the trains, and got to see the joy they brought Annalise when she was able to use them again. I also got to see her clean them up, without anyone saying anything about it – her own act of loving service.

It’s ridiculously easy to say “I love you.” People say it all the time; they don’t always mean it. It’s not so hard to do things, and say it’s out of love – even when it’s hurting the ones we love.

When I show my love in the form of willing, happy service, magic can happen. I’m filled up by the offering, and again when it’s received. Better, by far, to have a house less tidy, and flowing over with imagination and laughter than one that’s clean and filled with screaming and crying.

I think, in order to truly show my love, I have to live it. I have to be willing to extend myself to and for those I love. I need to see my beloveds, and tend to their needs in ways that honor them – and me.

This post is part of Love Is In Da Blog! Read or join in anytime!

Slightly untidy house, happy train play. WINNING! Photo credit: Annalise S. Burton

#LoIsInDaBl Day #4: What I Love to Do, Snow Day Edition

Put a Little Love in Yours!

Put a Little Love in Yours!

So, what do you love to do? How often do you do it? Do you make yourself to meet some other requirements before you let yourself indulge in it? Why? Do you embrace it, giving it as much time as you are able? How do you feel, when you’re deeply engaged with it?

I love taking pictures. I especially enjoy photographing the simple magic Lovely Chaos, of our lives. And so, today, I offer a bit of Winter Storm Linus, and how it was enjoyed by a certain young Force of Nature at our house…

This post is part of Bee Halton‘s Love Is In Da Blog. Feel free to share what you love in the comments; or in your own post. Join in once or everyday; visit as you will. Spread the love!

JusJoJan Day 20: Our Kinda Economics

Just Jottin’ through January!

Does time move quickly for you, Tempus Fugit style? Or is it doing the crawl, imitating a sloth as it drags along, seeming to have no particular place to go, and no need to get there until it does?

Something in between, that changes along with the mood or circumstances?

Now, what about your finances?

See what I did there? I guess you weren’t expecting that *giggles*.But economics is a part of life, like it or not, and I don’t want to end my ten days of ‘rithmetickling (yup, I totally just made that up – I’m sorry you’re welcome!) without taking a little peek into the fabulous world of money, goods, services, and commodities.

Some things that happened in our family:

  • Annalise, 10, wanted the new Monster High DVD. She was paying back an advance on her allowance; and the family budget was already stretched with the preparations for winter, the dryer that died, car repairs, and holiday plans. We chatted about finite resources, and how she could get this item. We could come back and get it later, or she could put it on her Christmas list, or wait until she’d paid back her allowance – she decided to wait until it’s on Netflix or Amazon. She’s still a little disappointed , but she’s reached a decision she can live with.

  • Jeremiah, at 9, wanted a 3DS. We told him we would get him one for Christmas. He was determined to get it on his tenth birthday, in early September. We told him we would pay for half, and a game, but couldn’t manage more then. With a few months to earn the money, he arranged to do odd jobs for his grandparents. He got up early even when he’d gone to bed late. He worked hard and well, only taking breaks when authorized. And, on his tenth birthday, I took him to the store of his choice to purchase his new 3DS in the color of his choice – as well as that new game to play on it.

I love watching my kids learn about economics. I’m fascinated with how they weigh alternatives, budget their money, debate the relative value of this over that. I’m endlessly reminded of who they are in the approach that they take.

Jeremiah tends toward minimalism, and at the same time has big dreams and high standards. When we offered him offered a reconditioned laptop last year, he declined, because what he really wants is a gaming computer that costs thousands, and we have a hundreds kind of budget. He says he’ll wait until he can buy it himself. He’s eager to get his working papers in a little less than a year, so he can take a regular job, and he still works for his grandfather many weekends when the weather is nice enough for home and yard maintenance.

Annalise is expansive, with many passions. She tends to spend her money quickly, but not as quickly at 10 as she did at 8. She’s always had a discriminating side t- at 5, I would show her all the options for Littlest Pet Shop figures that fit the week’s budget, and she would go through a lengthy process of elimination until she made her selection. She often takes advances, and always knows how much she owes. She’s coming to the realization that she can save some, and still spend some, and to see ways she can get more out of her money. One month, she explored her bank statement, and became deeply interested in the idea of earning interest. She was so captivated that she asked for our family bank statement, and read the entire three pages!

As a child, I didn’t have an allowance, and discussions often ended at, “We can’t afford it,” “That’s a waste of money,” and the seemingly evergreen favorite, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.” My parents handled the finances with their own rituals that didn’t include us, unless we happened to overhear. Money seemed mysterious and rather terrifyingly powerful to me as a child, and it took me well into my thirties to really start to sort out how I feel about it, and how to use it comfortably and intelligently.

It’s cool that my own children will get to adulthood with these and many other small and large experiences with economics already in their experience banks. They’ll have a lot less to figure out later, when the consequences of mistakes could be far costlier.

If you have kids, how do you approach family or personal finances with them? Did you have an allowance as a child? Was it tied in to chores, grades, or behavior? Did you have the power, or do your kids, to make some money decisions independently of adult authority? Did you, or have your kids, set financial goals for yourselves? How did that turn out?

Penny for your thoughts! =)

Shopping at the Erie Canal, fall 2014.