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Going nuts? Just ask a squirrel.

squirrel-therapy

Depression is contagious.  Fortunately, there are now squirrels for that!

*

I read an article today by a mom who describes herself saying, “When Did I Become Broken?” As she lists, point-by-point, her mental health challenges, I find myself lifting an imaginary glass saying, “Amen sister!”* After summing up the depressing qualities of life as a single mom with autism flavorings, I am thoroughly gruntled.

But, like the mom above, I too am enjoying the thrills of DBT Therapy.  I decide to do a homework assignment and galump outside—grumbling the entire way, thinking “f*ck positivity” and dragging behind me a thick cloud of despair like a cloak of wet cement.

As I practice breathing–inhale, hold breath for a few seconds, breathe out–my eyes close and I felt the sun hit my face like a welcoming benediction. I muscle past the pain of echoed despair and drift toward the nearby farmer’s market.

On the way, I pass the same corner house I always do–the one with the scraggly white fence and a host of plants trying to escape through the wide, chipped painted slats. An enormous maple tree dominates the front corner and I am further distracted from my gloomy funk by the chittering of a familiar friend.

urban-squirrel
I call this “Urban Squirrel with Cracker Not Giving a Fu…uh…Fig.”

High in a crook of the tree, the squirrel gives me a concerned look–the kind that just invites you to start talking to him.

“Look at you! So brave. So bold. Not bothered by me in the least.”**

The squirrel is all nonchalance, flicking his head up and back down to me as if he has pressing things to do and I’d better cut to the chase.

I’m admiring his calm when the dog in the house intrudes on our conversation:

“Bark bark, barkety bark bark… woofity, woof, woof.”***

No doubt the dog is letting me know I am in imminent danger of doggy justice…just as soon as he figures out how to use the doorknob. I think he also told off the squirrel, but I might just be imagining the eye roll the squirrel gave me.

“You are certainly braver than me.” I tell the squirrel. “I know he’s behind glass and I’m still scared of that dog!”

The squirrel gives me the bush-tailed equivalent of “What Evs” and scampers away.

I make my way to the farmer’s market which is closing up its stalls slowly enough I am able to grab an impulse cabbage and a bag of reasonably priced Honey Crisps.  Just before I leave, I snatch up a tiny pumpkin for 75 cents.

Back at the office, I place my orange gourd du season on the desk and realize, I’m feeling better–not fixed 100%–but definitely better. I have to wonder that no one has figured out a way to use squirrels as therapy animals.

therapy-squirrel2
Stolen from: evilsquirrelsnest.com where they did a much better job.

So, if you haven’t heard from me in a while, don’t worry. I’m working through some issues. And if anyone asks, I’ll be with the squirrels. Apparently, it’s all the rage:

 

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*All beverages quaffed on this blog will be imaginary unless otherwise designated. They also will come with tiny umbrellas and fruity names like: “Divine Intoxication Infused with Chocolate Dreams.”

**No, I did not say “Squeak….squeak…chitter…squeak.”  I do not speak squirrel.  What kind of idiot do you take me for?

***Or words to that effect. I don’t speak dog either. But I can recognize “Fuck you and the horse you road in on!” in many languages.

 

_____________ You Read This Far Bonus_________________

You want to read more about squirrel potential? Great!  Look no further than a nomination for president to be found at:

Evil Squirrel’s Nest

I highly approve the furry-tailed candidate’s promise to make therapy squirrels available to everyone! The no-parole until they graduate stance on children’s education might be a mite rigid. But, his nutty stand on gun control will at least make you smile.

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CAKE! It’s what’s for breakfast.

Winter is LONNNNNNNG. Like trapped-in-a-conversation-with-someone-who-just-won’t-take-the-hint-that-my-interest-was-over-when-they-brought-up-their-explosive-digestive-issues-and-the-massive-and-highly-disgusting-failure-of-home remedies-made-with-eels-and-cod-liver-oil-for-said-constitutional-problems long.*

That is why CAKE was invented.

Carrot Cake in Progress
OKAY – MAYBE THIS PICTURE WASN’T THE BEST CHOICE FOLLOWING MY INTRO!

I cannot take credit for this recipe. It is a gift from my mother who made it for most of my birthdays and made a giant-sized one for my wedding. I finally made one for myself this weekend and I never want to lose this recipe again. So, I am putting it out for the whole world to enjoy.**

Mary’s Carrot Cake

3 Cups grated carrots (I do mine in the blender and drain well)

2 Cups flour

2 Cups sugar

1 ½ Cups oil

4 Eggs

2-4 tsp Cinnamon (I use 4)

2 tsp Baking soda

2 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp salt

½ Cup toasted pecans (omit if stomach problems)

½ Cup raisins

Mix all dry ingredients (sift) and add the rest of the goods and mix well. Grease and flour baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes in a 9×13 pan.

(I used two smaller pans and it took about 40 – test for doneness as you go.)

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 8 oz package of cream cheese softened
  • 1 stick butter or margarine softened
  • 4 Cups of powdered sugar or a little more if you like it stiffer
  • Vanilla to taste (1 tsp).
Cake - Carrot
CAN YOU SPOT WHERE I CUT A PIECE AND THEN REMEMBERED I WAS SUPPOSED TO TAKE A PICTURE FIRST?

As Dora the Explorer would say: Muy Delicioso!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Like, run-on-sentence long

**You’re welcome.

 

Just a Thought Before I go

A picture...just because.
A picture…just because.

I am writing extemporaneously tonight. I could say I am being introspective, but what I really am is overly tired and desirous of sleep.

I have often mistyped something and decided whatever I wrote must be the title of a book the universe wants written.  So, I give you tonight’s installment:

Seven Deadly Since…

I was typing a search for an article someone referenced and typed ‘SINS’ as ‘SINCE’. So, my question is…what is the universe telling me? What do you think a book with the title Seven Deadly Since would be about?*

Share your thoughts as you may.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*For some reason, my brain is churning out a weird hybrid of Disney’s 7 Dwarves and a Law & Order episode. There would be two police officers hunched over the corpse of a call girl under glass and one of them would say, “I guess we’re looking for a line up of short, pick axe-wielding diamond merchants.”  His partner would crouch and look at the apple left in the victim’s mouth, and say “Hi Ho indeed!”

Fortune Cookie Say: Life Spent Watching Netflix Potentially Wasted, Unless…

In honor of my summer writing apathy, instead of a brilliantly insightful post, I will give you insight into how I waste spend my off hours. Go ahead, make some popcorn. I can wait…

It Is Totally Worth Going Blind Reading Subtitles
It Is Totally Worth Going Blind Reading Subtitles

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I finished an amazing series on Netflix the other day, and now, I am drained. I’ll reference it just so you can decide for yourself whether you’d dedicate twenty plus hours of your life to watching a Korean soap opera based on a novel. The series is called The Moon Embracing the Sun. It is a love lost/love re-captured story set in a mythical court during the Joeson (pronounced Chosun) Dynasty. And it’s entirely in Korean. You have to watch subtitles to understand it. Yeah. That’s how I spent a week of my life. I have no regrets, except that it ended and now I am bereft.

What is it about a gripping story and fantastic cast that weaves a magic spell around the viewer? I can’t say for sure, but I think in this saga it has something to do with life being lived to its fullest and yet always teetering on the brink of extinction.  There is love, passion, intrigue, betrayal, death, re-birth and ghosts. Basically it’s the Pu Pu Platter of entertainment with a little bit of everything to please all palates. You like romance? There’s a new one popping up between forbidden lovers every turn—almost all of it is star crossed or fatally doomed—but it never fails to twang the heart strings big time. Do you want action? Sword wielding maniacs will attack to move the nefarious plot along when it gets a little too saccharine. Hate someone in the story? Just wait. Eventually everybody gets what’s coming to them. It is absolutely delightful and yet still dramatically compelling when it does. And I have given nothing away by tell you this.

So, if you too are dragging this summer and don’t know what you want to do of an evening, might I suggest you find out where to activate your English subtitles and prepare to be mesmerized. And then, alas, desolated when the series ends. And then you’ll be on the hunt for a new epic drama to catch your eye. Beware, not all foreign films rise to this caliber. I made the mistake of watching “White Haired Witch” thinking it would compare. It didn’t.* Unless by compare you mean contrast so much as to make you wonder if good film making is possible. If you are a fan of seriously bad movies, watch it, the war porn is well done. Otherwise, skip the confusing mess. There are much better options out there.

Here’s a list of a few of my favorite foreign films:

Eat Drink Man Woman (Vietnamese)– A small family saga about a father and the three daughters who challenge his world view. Lots of beautiful meal preparation because father is a master chef who is now losing his sense of taste. You will leave the movie hungry for more.

Monsoon Wedding (Hindi) Think Father of the Bride set in India. Let hijinks with arranged marriages ensue. Or catch an even sillier take: Bollywood Bride and Prejudice. If you like lots of Bollywood dancing, this one’s for you. Bonus, both of these have spoken English in them.

Kung Fu Hustle (Chinese) Over-the-top fighting action sequences, totally ridiculous plot—on purpose. It is really a parody of Kung Fu movies. Absolute fun. Nice Matrix tie-in moment.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Mandarin) Truly kick-ass fight sequences, compelling battle of good versus evil all filmed on the backdrop of a mystical, magical China. (The Chinese perfected fighting in tree tops long before the Twilight vampires ever set foot in Washington State.)

Like Water for Chocolate (Spanish) – A woman puts her emotions into her cooking. Suppressed desire sends a naked woman running through the desert after her lover. Need I say more?

Atame (Tie Me Up/Tie Me Down) (Spanish) Bondage and Stockholm Syndrome. Warning, explicitly sexual. Make sure the shades are pulled and the kids are in bed…with ear plugs.

There you have it. I highly recommend the occasional foreign film so that you can feel mildly superior to other people about what kind of brain candy you are consuming.** Please make some recommendations of your own. I really could use another fix like Moon Embracing the Sun. This is how I can afford to travel the world–one delightful movie at a time.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Don’t let the trailer fool you. It seems much more coherent when you aren’t trying to piece together which army is which and figuring out who the rebel infiltrators are actually fighting. Critically stupid ending as well.

**It’s gotta be better than watching reality television anyway.

Take A Hike

I want to be able to link this to an article I am writing…but am too stupid to figure out how to get the ‘short link’ to attach it. So, this is my backward way of doing it. Enjoy this repost while my brain struggles to catch up with technology. Republished from Champions for Community Mental Wellness.

Author: Karen Copeland

For the month of April, I am participating in a writing challenge. Some of the posts will get published, others will not. We’ll see where this goes 🙂 Today’s challenge is to write for 20 minutes about anything. Just write. So, here goes…

A lot of things have been on my mind lately. Most notably is that I have refrained from giving voice to some of the things we are going through, I think because I wonder if I voice them they will become real. They would be out there for any and all to see. Vulnerability. It scares me. As much as my confidence in who I am as a parent and a person has grown, I still have these moments where I feel…not there yet. 

I have been struggling with isolation. We are going through a period of time where we are having a very…

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The Green Study “What’s on the B Side of that 45?” Contest: 2nd Place

I’m a big fat winner! Check out my award-winning (2nd place finish) which can be found on The Green Study or here. Re-blogging my own work feels very meta!

The Green Study

2nd place goes to Kiri at The Dust Season for “Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”. This essay made me laugh, while thinking that I might need a contractor or ten as well.

She was sent one Green Study Coffee Mug, a postcard from Minneapolis and $75 donation was made to the American Red Cross on her behalf to her local Red Cross Chapter.

“Personals vs. Real Estate, Financing Available”

By Kiri at The Dust Season

canstockphoto22518543I have come to the conclusion that, in terms of real estate, I am what’s known as a fixer-upper. Or, rather, a handy-man’s special. Now, before you interrupt, saying, “No, no. You are what’s known as a woman who’s been ‘well-loved’ and ‘priced to sell’.” Let me just stop you there. This isn’t that kind of post.

House hunting has brought me to a new appreciation of the dating site I am on…which shall…

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WHY Are We Writers? Understanding the Why Behind the Buy

Here is the latest from Kristen Lamb. I am stealing….I mean…reblogging in the hopes I will garner fame by association! Bring on the slavishly devout fans…of someone else’s writing. I’m not proud.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.37.39 AM

Now that NaNoWrMo is finished, congratulations to those who WON. I only made it to a little over 34,000 words *sad face*, but I did it with Shingles so I am grading myself on a curve 😛 . As a writer, being delusional is totally acceptable. I’m actually not too far from finishing the novel, so I’m happy I tried.

Anyway….

For those who might be tempted to go back and edit? I recommend stepping AWAY. Work on something different or the odds of you seeing the problems aren’t too great.

Which is why we are shifting gears here on the blog and we’re going to talk about branding and social media. Oh, the cries of despair! Hey, I am here. No worries *hands paper bag*.

Here’s the thing. Nobody has to do social media. I won’t force you. The only writers who need to create a brand and do…

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Book Promotion that Makes an Impression—Don’t Advertise When You Can PADvertise

Okay, while I am not generally a fan of ‘reposting’ this one is too funny not to share. Kristen Lamb may be onto something here.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 7.05.24 AM

Since most of us are neck-deep in work and NaNoWriMo, I thought it was time to talk about something OTHER than writing. How are you going to MARKET that NaNo novel by December 3rd, 2014?

Only amateurs need “revisions” *rolls eyes*.

We all know what we are writing is PURE GOLD begging to be unleashed  available for purchase in time to pay off all the money we’ll spend on Christmas gifts. That and being a NYTBSA by the end of January of 2015 is a great start, right?

Any of you who regularly follow my blog know that I am totally out of my mind a bit eccentric. Saturday, Hubby took pity on me and let us go out to eat (a rare treat around here). As I closed the door to the stall, I noticed all the advertising on the back of the bathroom door. This cluttered wall of…

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Castles in the Sky: The Ever Elusive Search for Free Time

Castle in Clouds
Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net/The Celestial Palace by Sattva

I have barely looked at my novel and I have nothing drafted for the upcoming Nanowrimo (National Novel Writers Month www.nanowrimo.org) adventures*. When I open my laptop lately, I promptly lose myself in the joys of Facebook and reading other people’s blogs. I consume this content with all the attention of someone mindlessly scarfing potato chips in front of the tv. “Munch, munch…reading other people’s issues and triumphs…how delicious. Nom, Nom, Nom!”

In short, I have been a poor writer this week. Before you accuse me of laziness (true) and chronic avoidance (ditto), please be aware that the stress of trying to find a house while also preparing for an upcoming surgery has left me as twitchy as a distressed zoo animal flinging feces at its captors. (It has also left me poorly equipped to draft clever analogies. Feel free to fling your own poo in response.) If, at the end of a day searching for a home, I have no energy beyond channel surfing some form of media, you can’t really blame me. Instead, do what I do: Blame Castle.

CastleIntertitle
If I take it from Wikipedia, is it really stealing?

For those of you living under a rock, Castle is this phenomenally casted show based on the novels by the fictional author “Richard Castle”. (I haven’t read the books, so I have no idea who is the real author behind the fake author.)

Nathan Fillion (ruggedly handsome actor) is living the fictional life I would love to lead.** The character is a recognized author, in a terrific, if episodically challenging, relationship. And apparently he can wander all around town during the day and romance his lady in the evening and the writing somehow magically gets done in the space and time in between. This is where I would like to learn how he does it!***

Where is my magical time of the day where I can squeeze in massive amounts of quality writing? Instead of fine dining and super sleuthing, I wrangle a hyperactive ten-year-old and juggle various responsibilities like an inebriated clown. (I have been known to drop a ball or two…over-sleeping the bus Monday comes to mind.) In the coming month of November, I have sworn to dedicate myself to the act of writing 50,000 words—or suffer the pangs of literary shame. Somehow I will have to find the tenacity, the willpower and the gumption necessary…to put the remote down. Then I can begin building my own castles in the sky. But, it isn’t November yet…and there’s going to be another Castle marathon on TNT starting soon.

* * *

For those of you who want to keep me honest (catch me cheating), view the link to follow my progress during Nanowrimo at the sidebar.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*As we head into Nanowrimo, I feel compelled to notify the blog-o-sphere that I will cease to exist in the month of November. You have been warned.

**No comments from the peanut gallery about me fictionally being a writer already.

***I suspect quantum physics is somehow involved.

Scribo Ergo Sum (Not The Write Stuff)

Scroll Graphic
Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by digitalart

I am a writer. I Am a Writer!  I AM A WRITER. Nope. It doesn’t matter what formatting I use or how much I sit at a computer and bang away at editing books that never go where I think I am sending them, I still don’t feel like a writer.

Presently, I struggle with The Curse of the First Chapter. (Which, if you ask me, really ought to be a Hardy Boys Mystery. It would, of course, involve a Ghost Writer. Ooooh, new tangent…a Ghost Writer who is actually a GHOST Writer. Wait…where was I…?) Right…writing and the joys thereof. Continue.

I have been writing the same series of book for about…three…or ten…years, depending on when you actually start to count scribbling as an real book. I have managed hundreds of thousands of words. And I have re-written the first chapter of Book One about nine billion times now.*

(*Only a slight exaggeration.)

My work does seem to be getting marginally better. I no longer have meetings clogging up my book. (I hate them in real life, why would I write one into my book unless everyone gets blown out an airlock and dies a mercifully swift death?) I am learning to weed out the miscellaneous extra characters that have populated my novel like ants at a picnic. (Don’t worry, there will be a remedial course in over-used metaphors in my near future.)** But I cannot seem to be happy with anything for long.

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by Photo Explorer 

Ant Problem
**Also, I tried to make a pun about nuis-ants at a picnic implying nuisance characters in a book, but even I can see a lead balloon filled with hot air…

And, of course, I refuse to show My Precious to anyone. Copyright infringement notwithstanding, Tolkien wasn’t far wrong about how obsessive someone can get about having the power to rule the world—which is pretty much how I see writing. I rule the universe I have made. I am a petty god and I want sole discretion to build and destroy it at a whim. But like many a creator god, I want a bevy of worshippers to look on my work to fall down in awe and be sore afraid. Just…not afraid to read it.