Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baby Steps

As a registered Independent, socially liberal pantheist, I am the yellow dandelion of Kansas.


On Monday, I sent my letter to the twenty-six members of the House Committee on Federal and State Affairs, the president of the state senate, and the governor's office. I have had one reply so far, and this afternoon I met with the Republican state representative from my district, Mike Kiergerl. We had a nice, civil conversation that lasted almost an hour and a half, and I gave him some things to think about, especially relating to my experience with hyperemesis gravidarum.

It seems like the legislature just passes a lot of these bills through even if many of them don't agree with large portions of it, just so they can move on to the next bill. Amendments and riders really twist things around and he told me how he once voted against a bill he wrote because of the junk tacked onto it. We definitely had things we disagreed on, but he wasn't an extremist in most issues so he was easy to have a discussion with, and I can certainly respect someone who is willing to listen to what constituents of other view points have to say. He also understands the value of math and science, two areas of education I am passionate about. 



He said portions of the H.B. 2598 will probably come up again next year because there were time limits attached to articles such as teaching D&Cs at state schools (it allows medical residents to learn the procedure at other venues until June 2013). Hopefully he'll remember some of the things I told him and use them during future discussions on these bills. He was quite level-headed about the issues and it would be nice if more politicians were, even if I don't agree with everything, or even most things they stand for. People of dissenting opinions need to be both respectful of and honest with each other if any sort of progress is to occur.


Small steps, but hopefully the small steps will lead to bigger ones.  Open dialogues are a great way to come to terms with differences, and I think more politicians would benefit from sitting down for lunch with people of all demographics so they can understand where the other side is coming from.  Even though there will always be philosophical differences where no compromise can be reached, a little respect goes a long way no matter what your opinions may be.

L is for Lunar

The moon at 2:00pm today.
"You are a songbird wreathed in flames, but you need to learn how to slow down and breathe if you're ever going to learn how to fly." Maral, The Crystal Lattice


I've been spending a lot of time reading through the lunacy of this bill.  The language in it is horrific and it's taking some effort to decipher the meandering and often incomplete sentences.  Are all bills this incoherent?  If they are, no wonder our political system is such a mess.

I needed a break and the kids were going bonkers, so we went out into the backyard and set up the tent.  Turbotot decided to run amok and eat dirt while Messy Mouse laid on a blanket and took a nap.  The insects are already swarming, and I had to pick aphids off Messy Mouse's shirt.  We had the little tent out, and when I went back outside this evening to put it away, two rabbits ran out of it.  We are the only ones in the neighborhood without dogs, so the rabbits use our large lawn as a safe haven.  Two years ago, they built a hutch in front of the basement window, and it was fascinating watching the bunnies grow and leave the nest.  We haven't bothered to weed that section of the garden in case they want to use it again.  They didn't come back last year, and I suppose if they don't build a hutch there this year we'll pull up the weeds.

These ferns are really beautiful when they are fully unfurled.  Fiddleheads are edible, but I've never tried them.  I'm not sure if this particular variety is the edible kind, so I am hesitant to try.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Little Lie Won't Hurt


I am meeting with a state representative on Saturday to discuss Kansas H.B. 2598. Right now, I am going to focus on a specific aspect of the bill, an aspect that has already passed in Oklahoma. This bill has far-reaching implications that have nothing to do with abortion. It is potentially family-destroying and will lead to an increase in suffering. There are plenty of disorders that when diagnosed in utero can be treated immediately after birth, but there are also disorders which are invariably fatal.

When doctors are allowed to lie to their patients, not only is trust broken, but families are shattered. The doctor uses his or her faith as an excuse to violate his patients’ trust. The following scenario could become common if doctors are allowed to lie when they think a family might terminate. It may be difficult to read. I know it was difficult to write. No one wants to consider the possibility that something could be wrong with the baby, but unfortunately it does happen. Most families are lucky enough to have healthy babies, but you never know when nature will give you something different than you expected.

* * *

Imagine for a moment that you are a young man living in a state where doctors are allowed to lie to their patients because of their own religious convictions. You get married and decide to have a baby. Maybe it happens right away, and maybe it takes a while, but as soon as you see that little line on the test, you are in love.

You go with your wife to her prenatal appointments, hear the heartbeat at ten weeks, watch her belly begin to round out as she tells you she feels the first little kicks. At twenty weeks, you go with her to the big ultrasound. The doctor tells you the baby is healthy, but was too shy to reveal his or her sex. You are disappointed with not knowing, but at the same time, the surprise is exciting.

You and your wife pick out names. You paint the walls and decorate the nursery, maybe as a birthday surprise for your wife. You have a baby shower, and everyone is excited. Maybe this is the first grandchild on both sides of the family, and you are overwhelmed with baby gifts. You begin thinking about college savings plans, vacations you can take with your child, and wonder what he or she will look like. You can’t wait to meet your baby.

Full term comes and one morning your wife wakes you up to tell you she thinks she’s in labor. When you get to the hospital, you can’t help but notice your doctor appears nervous. You brush the thought of it aside and excitedly support your wife through her labor. You call your family, and they wait for the official announcement. She pushes and the baby is born.

It is a boy! But, something is wrong. He does not cry. He does not breathe. His heart still beats, and he struggles to breathe, but he never will. His lungs never developed because lung maturation requires amniotic fluid, and a baby can’t make amniotic fluid without kidneys.

Your son has Potter’s syndrome. The doctor knew it from that twenty week ultrasound, and did not tell you because he thought you might decide to terminate if you knew. Your family spent forty weeks preparing to bring home a healthy baby, and now you won’t be bringing home a baby at all.

You are devastated. Your wife cries convulsively as the medical staff futilely tries to get the baby to breathe. He is fading and the nurses still keep trying to save him. Finally, the doctor tells them to stop and let your wife hold the baby while he dies. This condition is incompatible with life, he says. You struggle to comprehend what that means.

Your son looks perfect, but he dies in your arms, having never taken a breath. You hear the cries of healthy newborn babies through the walls and see happy families in the hallways. You were supposed to be the happy family with a crying newborn, but instead, your room is silent

You take your wife home to an empty nursery. Her breasts fill with milk, but there is no child to feed. They are engorged and painful, but not as painful as her loss. You are numb as you make final arrangements for the child you wanted and planned for. You call the doctor’s office to get a prescription to ease your wife’s postpartum depression and grief, but they are avoidant and take two weeks to fill a single prescription. The doctor never apologizes for leaving you in the dark. You know he knew. “Potter’s Syndrome” was written onto your wife’s chart at twenty weeks.

You bury your child, the son you were so hopeful for, who you wanted to take fishing and to baseball games. Your family weeps in front of a tiny casket. They had great hopes for him, as well. Grandparents wanted to spoil him. Aunts wanted to snuggle him. Cousins mourn the loss of a playmate. You can’t contain yourself and weep over the casket, which is little bigger than a shoe box. He was to be your future, but he is gone and you are having trouble coming to terms with it.

His death shatters your relationship with your wife. You can no longer look at each other without seeing the baby. You are afraid of having another baby because what if it happens again? What if the doctor tells you everything is going to be all right, when something is horribly wrong? You go to marriage counseling, but the counselor can’t offer you anything beyond, “It was God’s will”, and that isn’t good enough. Your wife blames herself, you blame God, the doctor never apologizes for the lie, and nothing can ever replace the child you lost.

You can’t stand to look at the empty nursery. Your wife can’t either, and she says she can’t stand to look at you anymore. She moves in with her parents and a lawyer arrives with divorce papers. Your marriage is over. You are another statistic, another marriage that could not survive the death of a child.

You move on, but you can’t forget. You cannot bring yourself to trust another doctor, no matter their specialty. What is that doctor not telling you? What if he says you’re fine, but you really aren’t? You avoid them and skip your yearly physicals. If you can’t trust one doctor, you can’t trust any. You develop a dull pain in your abdomen, but still stay home. Finally, the pain escalates and you can’t take it anymore. You go to the ER and find out you have end-stage colon cancer. The doctor tells you to trust in God and pray. You call your ex-wife and tell her good-bye. She sobs into the receiver. She and her new husband bring you flowers, but she still can’t look you in the eye. You still love her. You close your eyes and your last thought is of your son.

* * *

Now, let’s go back to near the beginning and see your world from a different perspective. You go to the twenty week ultrasound with your wife. The doctor calls you into his office and tells you something is wrong. You are told your much-wanted baby has no kidneys and will die soon after birth. You get a second opinion, and the baby is given the same prognosis.

You are devastated. After much soul-searching, research, and discussion, you and your wife decide to carry to term. You go through the stages of grief before the baby is even born. He is still alive, and you decide to celebrate his life, however short it may be.

Your wife decides to be induced so the family can meet the baby while he is alive. You set a date, go over your birth plan with the doctor, and call a photographer from an organization such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. You are nervous and cry over the little kicks and the motions of the baby felt through your wife’s skin. You talk to the baby, sing to him, tell him you love him. You know you won’t have much time.

A sense of peace washes over you on induction day. The delivery room is quiet as the baby is born. The staff and doctors are gentle and they respect your time. The baby is carefully placed on your wife’s chest and she smiles and strokes his head. Her tears fall onto his hair. You take note of him, memorizing every hair, every beautiful finger and toe. You never want to forget. The photographer and the rest of the family come in to meet the baby. They hold him and kiss him. He only lives for an hour and fifteen minutes, but in that short time, all he knows is love and comfort.

It is a sorrowful day, but also a peaceful one. You knew it was coming and you were able to come to terms with it. There is no empty nursery to come home to, no freshly laundered, neatly folded clothes. The funeral arrangements are already made. That hour and fifteen minutes were not full of chaos and fear, because you knew your time was limited and were able to make the most of it.

At the funeral, you celebrate your son’s brief life. The photographer’s pictures were beautiful and you cry over the slide show. You bury your son in a special outfit you picked out beforehand. No one should have to bury a child, and it is never easy, but it is far more peaceful when you know it is coming. Your wife started on antidepressants early. She does not mind looking at you because it brings back memories of your short, yet beautiful time with your son.

A year later, you decide to try again. At the twenty week ultrasound, the doctor tells you the baby is healthy and you are able to believe him. No trust has been broken. You plan for your new baby. Your daughter is born healthy and screaming. When she is older, you tell her about her older brother and show her the pictures. You don’t think anything of going to your doctor when the dull pain starts in your abdomen. You have no reason not to trust him to do the right thing. Your cancer is diagnosed early, treated, and years later, you dance with your daughter at her wedding.

* * *
Because we have ultrasounds (and there would be an uproar if they were taken away), we have the ability to diagnose disorders and defects prenatally. It is unethical for a doctor to withhold vital information from new parents, information that could help them prepare for potential stillbirth, neonatal death, or major surgeries. We can’t take back this technology and pretend it doesn’t exist. It is here, and it has forever changed the way we approach pregnancy and birth. We need to accept that, and be grateful that it can help prepare parents for tragic situations. Trust is so vital in our relationships with our doctors and other professionals, and for doctors to intentionally violate our trust without repercussion is unforgivable.  It is unconscionable to choose to increase a family's suffering when you could have helped ease them into a horrible situation.

This scenario takes into account just one aspect of H.B. 2598, but I believe this alone is reason enough to reconsider the legislation sweeping many states right now. I wrote it from the father’s perspective because most of these legislators are male. I know it was not easy to read, but a little empathy is vital right now.

Monday, March 26, 2012

An Open Letter to the Kansas Legislature Regarding H.B. 2598

Note: This bill, or a very similar one, is now SB142. My follow-up comment is here.

Dear Kansas,
I am a Kansas resident and a married mother of two. I have a college education, but for now I choose to stay home with my children. I pay my taxes, I vote, I contribute to society in whatever ways I can, and I strive towards leaving my country a better place than it was when I was born into it.

            I am appalled by your support for H.B. 2598. Among other things, this bill absolves doctors of lying to women and families if there is something wrong with the pregnancy or the baby. It reveals a glaring lack of knowledge about both medicine and the human condition. You are attempting to strip all trust from the medical field and leave us with no one to turn to when something goes horribly wrong with or within our bodies.

Approximately forty percent of conceptions end in miscarriage. About half occur very early, often before the woman even knows she is pregnant. Up to seventy percent of miscarriages are due to chromosomal errors such as triploidy and trisomies. With the exception of Trisomy 21, these chromosomal errors are invariably fatal, and death can occur anywhere between conception and several years after birth, if the child survives pregnancy and is subjected to extensive medical intervention. The rare child who survives longer, or even into adulthood, is profoundly disabled. The older survivors often have mosaic trisomy, meaning they only carry the chromosomal error in some of their cells, so they are not as severely affected as the children who were stillborn or died soon after birth.

I am not going to debate quality of life for the rare survivors, but instead the quality of life for those who do not survive longterm. What many people don’t understand is the poster children for birth defects and chromosomal anomalies, spina bifida and Trisomy 21, or Down Syndrome, are the best case scenarios. These two disorders should not be used as a baseline for debating pregnancy termination. You may not understand the devastation of severe and fatal disorders if you have never watched a family go through the agony of losing a child either before or after birth to such heartbreaking disorders.

There are far worse disorders than Down Syndrome. In addition to trisomies and triploidy, all of the following disorders are 100% fatal. While uncommon, they are not as rare as you would hope. They are very real, very frightening, and so emotionally wrenching that most people are hesitant to discuss the possibility of them.
  • Anencephaly (lack of brain development)
  • Potter’s Syndrome (no kidneys to create amniotic fluid, so the lungs don’t form properly and the baby suffocates within hours of birth)
  • Acrania (the skull doesn’t develop so the brain is eaten away by amniotic fluid)
  • Limb-Wall Body Complex (very severe limb and trunk defects)
  • Lethal Skeletal Dysplasia (the rib cage is too small for the chest cavity, baby suffocates)
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta, Type II (extreme brittle bones, bones broken in utero, underdeveloped lungs, most die within a year due to brain hemorrhage or respiratory failure)
  • Alobar Holoprosencephaly (failure of the brain to form properly, cyclopia, seizures, baby is stillborn or dies soon after birth)
These are just a few of the thousands of ways human development can go awry. There are thousands of other defects and disorders that vary in severity, but are often fatal and can be diagnosed as such in utero. Some are treatable through medications, therapies and surgeries, some are not and require palliative care.

By allowing doctors to steal knowledge from their patients, you are contributing to the suffering of thousands of families. You are trivializing suffering and not allowing families to prepare for not bringing home a healthy baby. This is unspeakably cruel. Not everyone given a poor or fatal prognosis will terminate. Some families choose to terminate in order to alleviate their baby’s suffering (and many disorders cause intense pain and suffering both pre- and post-natally). Others choose to carry to term in the hope of meeting their baby alive and spending a little bit of time with their baby before he or she passes. It is an absolutely heartbreaking journey either way. The choice needs to be left up to the families, guided by a knowledgeable and honest doctor. It is a difficult decision no matter what, but with the proper knowledge and support, either termination or carrying to term can bring a sense of peace. This peace is replaced by catastrophic surprise and emotional agony when the choice is taken away from the families and put into the hands of politicians.

Modern medicine has given us the technology to allow families to prepare themselves for the death of their much-loved babies in the event something is fatally wrong. It is unethical to withhold such information from patients and pretend nothing is wrong. This shatters the already fragile trust many patients share with their doctors. The goal of a physician is to alleviate pain and suffering, not cause more. It is in violation of the Hippocratic oath to increase suffering, but that is just what H.B. 2598 will accomplish.

H.B. 2598 also seeks to ban the instruction of the dilation and curettage procedure to doctors in training. This measure further devalues the lives of the women of Kansas. While the D&C procedure is used for early abortions, it also has many other medical uses, some of them lifesaving. It is used to remove retained placental tissue following birth, control hemorrhages, diagnose abnormal bleeding, remove tissue from a miscarriage, and diagnose abnormal gynecological bleeding and cancers, and alleviate endometriosis. To ban the instruction of this procedure will kill women.

Perhaps this is more about control than about abortion. The latest political maneuvers in other states include birth control measures designed to limit access to the women who need it most, and to allow employers to delve into employees’ private medical information to determine insurance coverage based on subjective medical need. I hope it does not come to this in Kansas. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a state where her only value is her uterus, but that is what these measures lead to. Women are not chattel. We are responsible, hard working, intelligent human beings who deserve to possess the rights to our own bodies.

Using birth control is not for loose women and teenagers. It is taking responsibility for your actions and accepting your limitations. No one is forcing anyone else to use it, so it is a personal choice and must remain as such. Most married couples use some form of birth control when not trying to conceive because they know their financial, physical, and emotional limits. It is no one else’s business if a couple chooses to have many children or have no children, or chooses to terminate an early pregnancy or a later one with a fatal diagnosis. There is no one-size-fits all for contraception. Some people are allergic to latex, some have horrendous side effects from hormonal birth control, and some women have irregular ovulation patterns and cannot do natural family planning. We do what we can to protect ourselves, but sometimes the unexpected happens no matter what we do. We must be willing to take responsibility for all of our choices, no matter what those choices may be. Ultimately, the decision lies with the individual or couple, and no single religion or political party should be allowed to dictate how non-adherents react to delicate and painful situations.

I’ve heard claims about making exceptions for certain things, such as medical conditions or rape. Well, pregnancy is a medical condition in itself and it can cause serious complications in a percentage of women. Currently, one third of pregnant women end up delivering by Cesarean section, a major abdominal surgery with potential complications, and that is indicative of how serious pregnancy can be. No woman should be obligated to go through a symptomatic nightmare of a pregnancy unless she chooses to, especially if the conception was traumatic. There are members of the Kansas government who believe rape should not be an exception when it comes to abortion, and this shows how little they know of the devastating emotional effects of both rapes and pregnancies, especially complicated pregnancies.

I have never been raped, and it is disgusting to expect me to plan for being raped. I am neither a flat tire nor a farm animal. I have, however, had two traumatic, health-altering pregnancies. I had hyperemesis gravidarum with my first. It was “mild” as far as hyperemesis goes, but I was still vomiting every thirty minutes every day for four straight months. I lost ten percent of my body weight during the first trimester and narrowly escaped needing a PICC line for fluids and nutrition. I fractured five teeth because the acid ate my enamel, and I still have significant damage to my esophagus.

I was lucky enough to escape hyperemesis during my second pregnancy, but I had such severe reflux that I couldn’t lay flat from five weeks gestation on without the contents of my stomach coming up my throat. I passed three kidney stones starting at twenty weeks, a common side effect of pregnancy. I lost use of my hands during the last eight weeks and had severe pain from my neck to my fingertips because my arms swelled so badly that my nerves were compressed. I had difficulty caring for my older child, could barely hold utensils to feed myself, and was kept awake all night by the intense, unrelenting, untreatable pain in my arms.

My point is, I knew what I was getting into and chose to do it a second time. Not everyone can physically or emotionally handle a nightmare pregnancy, and mine were not as complicated or as painful as many, as I was still able to have normal labors and deliveries. Until you have a complicated pregnancy, or watch someone go through one, your opinions on the effect of pregnancy on a woman’s body carry little validity. No one should be forced go through pregnancy more than once or even at all if she does not want to or does not believe her body can handle it. If she chooses not to conceive or carry a pregnancy, she should be able to safely take whatever precautions are necessary and appropriate. It is a private matter between her, her partner, and her doctor, and not any business of the government.

A woman should be able to delay pregnancy if she chooses until she thinks her body can handle it, until she is financially stable, or for any other reason. She and her partner should not have to make a choice between inevitable pregnancy and sterility or abstinence. Many cultures and religions view sex as a natural bonding act between husband and wife instead of an action to be undertaken strictly for procreation. Currently, the conservative Christian culture is attempting to force their own views of sex upon the rest of the population. Babies or abstinence, no other options. It does not matter that Christians are the majority population in the United States of America. The majority has no right to control the actions, beliefs, or sex practices of the minority. We are not a theocracy, nor should we ever strive to become one.
          
Women are not breeder sows. We should not be expected to carry and birth child after child because some people believe birth control and abortions are for convenience. There may be a small population of women willing to be oppressed in such a way, but most of us want to make positive contributions to the world beyond giving birth and raising children. We cannot do that if our rights to our own bodies are stripped from us. There are so many people in this world who are unfit parents but continue to have children anyway because either they can't afford birth control due to lack of insurance coverage, or their culture or religion has convinced them that it is wrong to use it. The result: unwanted, unplanned, neglected children, and over-stressed parents who may become abusive or apathetic. This is the source of cultural decline.
            
It is amazing to grow a tiny new life within your body, give birth to it, and watch it grow and thrive. However, the joys of parenthood do not come without incredible physical and emotional pain and a complete overturning of your life. Not everyone wants to go through that, and they should have the option to abstain from children without being forced to abstain from sex. In an ideal world, couples would only conceive when they wanted to, but since we don't live in that world, we have to resort to medication and medical intervention. We accept the side effects and the stigmas those of differing opinions believe it is their right to bestow upon us.

Kansas politicians, you are not doctors, and many of you are not women. You should not be making medical decisions on behalf of an entire population. Please reconsider your support of bills such as H.B. 2598. This bill would negatively affect both the current generation of Kansan women and the lives of our daughters and granddaughters. Your daughters and granddaughters, included. Do not allow our daughters to go through unnecessary heartbreak or even lose their lives because of decisions made under a sparkling, waving banner screaming “Life”. We are your mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins and friends, and we are worth more than our uteri.


Sincerely,
Courtney Privett
Olathe, Kansas

Sunday, March 25, 2012

K is for Komainu


This guy guards my front door.  I used to have two of them, but the un-gyo (close-mouthed komainu) was broken during a move.  I guess my home is only half-protected from evil since I only have the a-gyo (open-mouthed komainu).

Together, un-gyo and a-gyo (aun-gyo) represent the beginning and the end, infinity.  Evil spirits are expelled through he mouth of a-gyo and good spirits are kept in through the closed moth of un-gyo.

Guardian dogs or lions are common in Asian cultures.  In Japan, they are "Komainu" and "Shisa" in Okinawa.  In China, they are called "Shishi".  In Myanmar, they are "Chinthe".  They are found guarding Buddhist, Shinto, and Ryukyuan shrines, temples, and altars.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

J is for Jovial

Just a little bit of awesome.  I don't make desserts like this very often because I end up eating too much.  We had a vegan potluck tonight, so my baklava came out to play.


Raspberry Walnut Baklava (vegan)

1 package phyllo dough
1 cup non-dairy buttery spread, melted
1 jar of seedless all-fruit raspberry or black raspberry jelly
1/4 cup water
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan.

2. Mix nuts and cinnamon in one bowl and jelly and 1/4 cup of water in another.

3. Place two sheets of phyllo dough in the pan and brush with buttery spread.  Repeat three times so there are eight sheets of phyllo and four layers of butter.

4. Spread half of the jelly on top, and then sprinkle with half of the walnut mixture.  Top with two sheets of phyllo dough and butter.  Then, spread the rest of the jelly and sprinkle with the rest of the walnuts.

5. Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo dough two at a time with butter in between.  Brush remaining butter on the top.

6. Use a sharp knife to cut the baklava into 2-inch squares, cutting all the way to the bottom layer.

7. Bake for 40 minutes until golden and crisp.

8. Meanwhile, make the syrup.  Combine the sugar, water, agave, and vanilla in a saucepan.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

9. Remove baklava from the oven and pour the syrup over it.  It may boil and sputter.  Allow baklava to cool, then serve.
I had to snap a picture before it disappeared.  It was quite popular.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I is for Imaginary


Sketch from my original draft of Mayfly Requiem
First of all, check out my interview on Dr. Jon P. Bloch's page.  While you're there, you should read the interviews of some other indie writers.  They are a varied collection of very talented people from many genres and backgrounds who just want to share their words and worlds with all of you.

It's 2am, so hopefully I make a little bit of sense.

My son has his first imaginary friend.  Its name is Pretzel, but we aren't quite sure what it is because toddlers are hard to understand.  I think Pretzel may be a dog, but Turbotot is afraid of dogs and panics when he hears them barking.

Imaginary friends are really an essential part of a creative childhood.  They are a mechanism for working through fears, anxieties, and new skills, and they can aid language acquisition, social skills, and creative problem solving.  When the fear or skill is conquered, the imaginary friend is often discarded and replaced by a new one.  I suspect Pretzel is Turbotot's way of coping with his fear of dogs.  Now, if only Pretzel helps him with his fear of running water...

I encourage my son's imagination.  He can have as many or as few imaginary friends as he wishes. I occasionally give him a gentle reminder that Pretzel isn't real, but I think he knows that.  He spends much of his day engaged in pretend play, so he already has a good grip on reality versus fantasy.  He pretends his bread crusts are cars, dragons, and airplanes, and races them around his plate.  He makes up stories while he's playing with his toys and fake calls his grandparents on a plastic rotary telephone.  Imaginary friends are just another level of play.  I feel a little guilty sometimes that we don't get out to see his real friends more often, but it is hard to leave the house most days due to the baby's reflux.

I had a whole cast of imaginary friends when I was little.  I didn't have a whole lot of friends and I had a telephone anxiety problem which still lingers now.  My imaginary friends were the root of my early storytelling.  Some were based on real people, some were purely figments.  They helped me learn to empathize with other people because I could see the world from a different perspective.

I still have imaginary friends.

I am not delusional, I am creative.  I can imagine my characters in front of me.  I know they are not real, but invoking my imagination in such a way helps me flesh out my narratives.  I mumble to myself, sometimes in public, because I am working out lines of dialogue and realistic reactions to fantastical situations.  I sometimes sit on a park bench and work through a scene by "talking" to the character involved.  I always have a notebook with me, so perhaps I don't look too much like a mumbling fool.  Writers can easily get caught up in their imaginations and the real world looks a little bland, but as long as they recognize the fiction is not the reality, everything is fine.

If I ever leave rationality behind, we can start worrying about my imaginary friends.  For now, if you ever see someone in public who doesn't appear homeless and is not wearing a bluetooth, but is still  talking to herself, assume she is a writer and move on.  She's probably writing a book, so please don't interrupt her conversation or the inspiration may evaporate.  She'll be angry with you for the rest of the day over that.


I even diagram my imaginary friends on occasion.  Here is another page from Mayfly Requiem, showing my hierarchy of Web deities.  See what talking to myself does?  I'm left alone for a while and I create my own mythology system.
The Web: Malora's Elemental deity hierarchy.  Diagram from the first draft of Mayfly Requiem.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

H is for Hyetal

Tanuki
Holy hyetal hypomania!  His humongous, homochiral hobnobs have hip height, hobbish hereditaments.  How hopelessly hobblededoy!

Thank you phrontistery for helping me with this Wordy Wednesday

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

G is for Gratitude


This is just a quick note because the kids wore me out today.  This blog broke 20,000 page views today, so a big thank you to everyone who has found his or her way here, and especially to those of you who have left comments and helped me know I wasn't just talking to myself.  The majority of the page views were due to To My Religious Friends being linked on Reddit last year, but that's okay by me.  My Twitter and Facebook followers are awesome as well.

Also, a huge thanks to those of you who have read or downloaded my books.  My earlier proofreaders  were great beta readers, but kind of failed on an epic scale as proofreaders, so I had some major typos and missing words in my uploads.  Three of the four books have now been fixed with the help of my not-so-lazy proofreader so the updated versions are on Amazon.  The fourth (The Shattered Veil) should be updated tomorrow once she gets back to me with the rest of the corrections.  I will also be sending her The Crystal Lattice to proofread once I finish it.  It could be a little while since I'm taking my time with it.  It is an extensive rewrite so I need to make sure it works before I take the next step with it.  In the meantime, I'd love some feedback if you've read my books.  Tell me about your favorite or least favorite characters, or anything else that you either loved or hated (proofreading errors aside, since I'm taking care of those right now).  I'm planning another promotion for my birthday, but I won't give details on that quite yet.

Finally, thank you to my toddler for only having a minor tantrum today.  It was raining so we couldn't go outside.  He kept insisting he wanted something called "map" from the kitchen, but I couldn't figure out what he was talking about.  It was only a minor meltdown augmented by a screaming baby, but everyone calmed down thanks to a piece of bread, some hummus, a diaper change, and some mommy milk.

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported me so far.  I started on this wild ride nine years ago with the first chapters of The Crystal Lattice, and I plan to keep on riding until the end of the track.

Monday, March 19, 2012

F is for Finicky


Oy, toddlers!

All toddlers go through phases of loving and hating foods and my vegan toddler is no exception.  We made an effort to introduce him to a wide variety of foods as soon as he started solids at six months.  He loved even stranger things like kale and tempeh until he was over a year old, when he decided all he wanted was crackers, rice, and fruit.  It can be a struggle to get him to eat anything but carbs some days, so I've had to be sneaky to get him eating veggies and beans.  Here are some things that work for us.   But, be warned... what works today might not work tomorrow, and what a toddler won't touch today he might devour the next time it's offered.  Keep offering, it might take a while but my son decided he loved snap peas after I put them in front of him at least two dozen times without him even trying them.

1. Soups 
This is a big one for us.  As soon as Turbotot discovered the mechanics of a spoon, he only wanted to eat spoon foods.  There was a catch, though.  The foods had to be smooth.  He refused chunky soups and yogurts, but would eat any flavor if they were pureed smooth.  I made him cream of broccoli soup and he devoured three bowls in one sitting.  I experimented with other veggies and came up with an all-purpose cream soup recipe that has been a hit with my texture-picky toddler.

Cream of Whatever Soup
1 pound vegetable of choice (broccoli, carrot, asparagus, kale, cauliflower, squash, etc.)
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup flour Or cornstarch
2 1/2 cups fortified plain non-dairy milk
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons basil, oregano, ginger, or other herb or spice of choice
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cut the vegetable of choice into chunks. Put the broth or water in a large saucepan and add vegetable, onion, and garlic.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Put the contents of the pot and the flour in a food processor or blender (probably needs to be done in two batches) and process until smooth.  Return to stove and stir in remaining ingredients.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the soup thickens.

This recipe is very forgiving and you can use more than one pound of vegetables or a combination of vegetables.  Cream of carrot soup with ginger is very soothing on upset stomachs.

2. Dips
Toddlers love dips.  Hummus, guacamole, bean dip, and spinach dip are a huge hits in our house.  I serve them with homemade or store-bought pita bread, crackers, or vegetables.  

Simple Bean Dip
1 can of beans, any variety, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of salsa

Process in blender or food processor.  That's it, super easy and my toddler loves it on toast.  It yields about two cups for far cheaper than the store-bought bean dips, and the texture and taste can be adjusted through using more or less of different kinds of salsa.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

3 1/2 cups flour (a combination of 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat works well.  You can use all whole-wheat, but may need to add more water since whole wheat flour is more absorbent than white)
3 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup lukewarm water
oil

Stir the yeast and sugar into water and let sit until the yeast bubbles.  Combine the flour and salt, then add the yeast mixture and knead.  Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, knead the dough.  Divide into 12 portions.  Roll each one out to make a thin bread.

Heat and lightly oil a skillet.  Cook the breads one at a time for 1-2 minutes on a side on medium-high heat.  The breads should fluff up and create center pockets if the heat is adjusted correctly (this can take some trial and error).


3. Smoothies
Add ground flax seed, a quarter of an avocado, and/or a handful of spinach to fruit smoothies for a health boost

4. Pudding
Head to the nearest Asian market for a healthy, toddler-friendly pudding!  Blend the jelly-like meat of a young coconut with strawberries, cocoa, carob, or banana until smooth.  Reserve the coconut water for a quick electrolyte drink or an add-in for smoothies.  My toddler goes nuts over this "pudding" and calls it "pie".  Young coconuts can be found in some regular supermarkets, but I've found them to be cheaper and fresher in Asian markets.

5. Pasta Sauce
Stir pureed vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, or squash into homemade or commercial pasta sauce.  My toddler is a huge fan of pasta, so this is an easy way to get him to eat veggies.  I also like pureeing beans to make cream sauces as instructed in The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.

I know I have more ideas hiding in my cluttered head, so I'll add to this list if I remember them.  My guy loves whole edamame, mushrooms, snap peas, baked sweet potato fries, and bean sprouts, but we are still trying to convince him to eat other vegetables without having to disguise them.  Do you have any suggestions on how to get toddlers to eat more beans, vegetables, and other healthy foods?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

E is for Emergence

Spring began in November, but it wasn't until this week that color returned.  The winter was warm and dry, and Kansas turned brown instead of white.  Now green is emerging from the dun.  Dormant life bursts into bloom.  Flowers and insects swarm the grass, and rabbits party on the lawn once the sun goes down.  I have a feeling this is a brief transition leading to another brutal summer.






Saturday, March 17, 2012

D is for Dyssomnia

I waltz in a fog, never fully awake, never fully asleep.  I taste sounds and hope the walls don't cave in.
Narcolepsy is life in dreamtime, never fully awake and never fully asleep, coasting through a fog broken by scattered lanterns of full awareness.  A narcoleptic can dream while pretending to be awake.  She can carry on conversations and complete tasks, but her mind fades in and out of the mist of REM sleep.

Excessive sleepiness can overtake her at regular intervals or at random.  She will be alert and suddenly crash.  This does not mean that she falls asleep in her soup, but instead that she becomes so fatigued that she can no longer function normally.  She may need to lie down, or she may go through periods of automatic behavior and not remember how she got from one minute to the next.

If she has cataplexy as a symptom (and not all narcoleptics do), she is careful to guard her emotions.  Laughing, crying, anger, or fear trigger her muscles to respond with anything from dropping whatever is in her hand or a knee giving out to a total body collapse.  She laughs and drops her glass or stumbles on the sidewalk.  She ends up on the floor, surrounded by people who can't figure out what just happened.

Sometimes the narcoleptic swings wildly between excessive sleepiness and insomnia.  The cycles can last for weeks or months at a time.  During insomnia phases, she is alert and productive, but often gets less than four hours of sleep a night no matter what she does.  After a while, the exhaustion phase takes over and she feels the overwhelming urge to sleep as much as possible.  She is too fatigued to function normally so has to force herself to stay awake and accomplish what she needs to.

For most people with narcolepsy, the scariest symptoms are sleep paralysis and hypnogogic hallucinations.  Walls and furniture come alive, floating heads bob around the room, insects crawl through cracks in the ceiling.  The narcoleptic tries to escape, but her body is frozen.  This can happen either on the onset of sleep or upon waking.  The hallucinations very occasionally strike outside of a sleep attack, when the brain slips into REM while the narcoleptic is otherwise awake.

I was diagnosed with narcolepsy ten years ago following a sleep study.  I was in college, and ended up needing to use the university disability support to make it through some of my classes.  Medications ended up either not working well enough or causing severe side effects, so I no longer take them.  My narcolepsy seems to foster heightened creativity, and I have extremely vivid dreams.  I gave my primary protagonist, Sevilen Achara, narcolepsy so I could describe its symptoms properly after seeing so many inaccurate portrayals in entertainment.  It is a life-altering disorder, but not a life-destroying one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

C is for Cat


Cats make lousy writing partners.  They are harsh critics who give their pompous opinions by shoving their butts in your face.  They prevent progress by sitting on your hands or keyboard when you are trying to type.  You begin to formulate a brilliant idea, but they decide they need more food immediately or they will starve to death, so that brilliant idea vanishes into the same memory void as the name of that one guy in that one movie with that thing.
Cats enjoy touching you and each other inappropriately.  They take pleasure from making sweet, sweet love to the legs of the nearest repairman or cat-allergic visitor.  They act like their people never pay any attention to them whenever anyone visits, when in fact they are the ones who ignore their people.  Cats approve of unkempt facial hair and malodorous feet, but turn up their noses at air fresheners.  When they are happy, they will knead your thigh, purring until they catgasm and fall asleep.  If you try to do the same to them, they hiss and hide under the bed.
Cats pretend to hate each other, but sometimes you'll catch them making out.  If they notice you, the immediately switch from furry love-fest to battle mode.  They are embarrassed by their amorous behavior, unless it involves the plumber, of course.

Cats are spiteful brats who destroy your house at the slightest offense.  They tear up your carpet and chairs, pee on the floor if the litterbox isn't just right, and barf on the carpet a mere two inches from the linoleum.  Those tiny holes in your screens?  Those are from cats trying to catch outside bugs or conducting showdowns with neighborhood strays.  Cats are only brave when there is a barrier between them and their intended victims.  Remove that screen, and they cower in the corner and urinate in the closet.
Cats occasionally prove themselves useful.  They are comforting when you are sick or sad.  The more docile ones make excellent toddler victims.  They eat the ants which invade through the basement window.  They make good pillow hats on cold winter nights.  Their purrs offer a soothing distraction from the noisy world.  Cats are only partially evil, so they tolerate us well enough to keep us entertained. So, celebrate Feline Friday by loving your cats.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

B is for Belligerent

Why do people think it is within their rights to interfere with the rights of other people?  Why have groups of politicians declared war on half of the population?  Why are we the ones accused of being intolerant persecutors when we speak out against the religious zealots trying to take control of women and women's rights to their own bodies?  Why, why, why?

We can't win while the zealots are in charge.

The majority of women are responsible and hard-working.  We hold jobs or stay home and the choice should be ours.  We are worth more than the potential contents of our uteri.  At least we used to be.  Now politicians are trying to lower the status of women to walking incubators.  They want us to disclose our birth control status to our employers and lose our medical privacy, they want us to accept our doctors lying to us, and they want us to risk our lives by prohibiting training for D&C procedures, which are used for a lot more than abortions and can be lifesaving procedures.  They are stripping away the already wary trust of the medical establishment and replacing it with justifiable paranoia and fear.

Whoa.  Who voted these sadists into office?

These issues aren't about abortion.  They are about controlling women and reverting to more archaic and reprehensible traditions.  Putting women in their place -- under the men, in the kitchen, and chronically pregnant.  We are neither property nor chattel.  I also have a suspicion that all of this stomping around on top of women's rights is a diversion masking the fact that the politicians have no clue how to solve the real problems of the real world.

No one in the world has a right to tell me how many children I must have, how I can prevent the ones I don't want to have, or who I can sleep with at what time of the month.  My personal life and choices are no one's business but my own.   My body does not belong to them. No one has the right to force others to play by the rules of a religion they do not adhere to.  Are we fooling ourselves?  Do we really live in a theocracy?  It is starting to feel like it, and The Handmaid's Tale doesn't seem so far from reality anymore.

I keep hoping the modern political climate will be revealed as an enormous unfunny hoax, but sadly, it seems to be all too legitimate.  The bills in various state legislatures keep getting more and more oppressive and ridiculous.  And sometimes, they even pass.  In Oklahoma, it is legal for a doctor to lie to his patient about fetal anomalies found during ultrasounds.  Informed decisions no longer apply.  Physicians can legally allow families to believe they will be bringing home a healthy baby even though life-altering or fatal anomalies are apparent in prenatal exams.  How cruel to withhold such information!  A poor prognosis is not a guarantee of termination, and the many families who choose to carry to term need time to mentally prepare themselves and make decisions related to treatments, palliative care, or funerals.  Sonogram laws can be just as cruel when a family is faced with terminating a wanted pregnancy gone awry.

What is wrong with these people?  How can they be so boldly, so proudly heartless?

I don't want my daughter to grow up in a country where religious extremists and their pet politicians have decided her only value is her uterus and her homemaking abilities.  I want her to have the freedom to choose her own career, to get married or not get married to whomever she chooses, and have as many or as few children as she wants.  Her dreams should not be crippled by people who have decided she is not worth receiving basic and preventative medical care just because she doesn't want her fertility to be the deciding factor in the course of her life.

Please help get these people out of office and restore some sanity to the country.  If this continues, we will soon find ourselves stuck in one of the fantastically horrific dystopian fictions which used to be part of every high school curriculum.  Cautionary tales should never become reality.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A is for Abyss

This is a piece I composed for piano while in high school. It became the base for my new Mayfly Requiem cover. Check out my books and all of my new covers here.

Abyss is one of my happy synesthesia words. It is a feather drawn lightly across the skin on my arms. Add a syllable and it becomes "abyssal", an ecstatic shiver and a feeling of warmth at the core. I love how the meaning of the word clashes with the feelings generated by it.

Abyss is a deep darkness and a bottomless depth. It is an alien ocean gulf, a world unfathomable by human imagination. It is something so far-reaching that although we might see it projected on a screen, we have difficulty comprehending it. Deep space and the deep ocean, two universal extremes that carry with them the romanticism of the unknown and unknowable. The music of the universe is overwhelming.

The infinite time of the abyss became the inspiration the cosmic Web, the mythology of Malora. When seen from afar, the hierarchy is mystical and unknowable, but as seen through the eyes of the Aulors, it becomes almost annoyingly mundane. We create and obliterate our own abysses through experience. What was once unreachable becomes comprehensible and we wonder why we had so much trouble understanding it to begin with. Science, emotion, and experience collide into a spectacular fireworks display of epiphanic understanding. We are left humbled by the wonders of the abyssal universe and an overwhelming calm settles over us. Natural beauty as the great tranquilizer.  Perfection in chaos and inevitable destruction. Magnificent.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Walk! The Misadventures of Turbotot, Messy Mouse, and Wounded Knee

We start today with a crash.

Turbotot was sitting on the couch when I went into the kitchen to get him a sippy.  I measured his medicine into the cup, added orange juice and water, and closed the lid.  I turned around to go back into the living room and fell on my face.  Turbotot had crept behind me and gotten underfoot again.  He was completely uninjured, but my knee twisted and screamed at me when I straightened it.  I sat on the couch for a few minutes while Turbotot climbed all over my leg and aggravated the pain.

I suppose I should quickly explain why any knee injury is a bad one for me.  When I was 21, I dislocated my knee and had to have it surgically fixed because the joint locked at a 45 degree angle and wouldn't move.  I ended up having extensive damage to the joint and I'm now missing most of the cartilage, some soft tissue, and a chunk of my femur head.  That effectively ended my running and skating days and I'll likely need a joint replacement down the road.

Back to today's adventure.

I didn't want to let a simple achy knee keep us in the house on a 70 and sunny Monday, so I decided to take the kidlets on a walk.  I put Turbotot in the stroller and Messy Mouse in the wrap and away we went.

At the end of the first block, Messy Mouse spit up on the wrap.  No problem.  She has reflux so spitting up is normal for her.  Turbotot pointed across the street and demanded, "That way!"

At the end of the second block, Messy Mouse spit up again.  I stopped to flip her from forward-facing to facing me.  Turbotot simply cannot tolerate stopping under any circumstances.  He screamed, "No!  Move!  That way, that way!"

Messy Mouse continued to spit up at a rate of one teaspoon per block.  My shirt was a little wet and I contemplated the irony of a "Go Vegan" shirt covered in regurgitated breastmilk.

We reached the halfway point of our route.  The fun accelerated.

My shoe came untied, so I crouched to tie it.  I had to reach around the baby in the wrap without making her head tip back too far.  Meanwhile, Turbotot spotted a group of kids playing basketball in a driveway.  He began to point and scream, "Kids!  Kids!  Play basketball!  I play basketball!"  His "basketball" sounds a lot more like "diaper pail" than anything else.  By the time I stood up, he was tantruming and trying to climb out of his stroller.  I kept limping on my now-painful knee and he kept tantruming.

We barely passed the kids before the next bit of fun occurred.  Messy Mouse gave me a big smile, then simultaneously barfed the remaining contents of her stomach down my shirt and filled her diaper with a grunt and a tremendous squirt.  We still had half a mile to go.

We kept walking, Turbotot kept screaming about "diaper pail", and my shirt was beginning to feel a bit... moist.  And not just from the barf.  I picked up the pace.

Turbotot gave up on "diaper pail" and returned to screaming, "That way!  That way!"  He took off his shoes and threw them into a yard.  Messy Mouse fell asleep in a puddle of her own barf.  I retrieved the errant shoes and slipped them back on Turbotot's feet.  We crossed the street and there were three blocks to go.

Finally, we were on our own block.  Turbotot squirmed in the stroller, whimpering, "Kids.  Kids."  There were no kids outside today on our block.  Spring break whisked them off into the unknown.  We live on the top of a hill and I could barely walk by the time we got to the driveway.  My knee was stiff and swollen in addition to throwing knife-like pain into my femur.

With Turbotot screaming, "Door open!", we went inside.  He laid on the floor in the entry way and cried while I went upstairs with Messy Mouse still in the wrap.  I took her out of the wrap and laid her on the changing table.  I was a victim of the world's grossest wet t-shirt contest.  In addition to barfing all over me, Messy Mouse had experienced an extreme diaper blowout.  Extreme!  I don't know how she does it... Turbotot never had a blowout with cloth, but Messy Mouse does almost every day.  I cleaned her up, managed to get my shirt off without getting anything in my hair, and immediately started a load of laundry.

Now I'm sitting on the couch with ice on my knee, which is starting to bruise.  Turbotot is begging to go back outside.  I don't think so, kidlet.  I don't care if it's only 2:30, Mommy has had enough adventure for today.  We'll do it again tomorrow.  Probably with the same results.  And I'm inexplicably okay with that.  I choose the "Yeah, Whatever" approach, and move on.


This is not my knee.  This is my thigh.  My knee is in another castle.  Someday I will make it through all of the levels of the garage and rescue the pictures of the interior of my trashed knee, because they are pretty cool and worth finding again.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sing for Inspiration


I was four years old when I first sat at a piano intending to learn how to play.  Almost twenty-six years later, I still play.  I've had to modify which instruments I play due to my movement disorder.  When I lost most of my finger dexterity, I traded piano for percussion.  I currently play with the local civic band and orchestra, specializing in mallet percussion.  I also play clarinet and toured Europe playing bass clarinet with a youth symphony, but like the piano, my skills now suffer due to the myoclonus.  The list of other instruments I have played competently is fairly extensive: trombone (my primary instrument in high school), tuba, baritone, trumpet, oboe, saxophone, tin whistle.  I've dabbled with bass guitar, ukulele, and mandolin, but my tiny hands are clumsy on strings.  I was also a deejay at a free-format radio station for five years in college, so I was exposed to a huge variety of music.

Where does this lead me?  Music is the soul of my writing and my life.  I abhor silence, but true silence is rare.  My synesthesia makes listening to music a full-body experience.  The music of nature is not only satisfying but inspiring.  Like Rhodren, I find waterfalls painful but percussive sounds make for a wonderful massage.  And violins always make me itchy.  More on effects of specific instruments can be found on this old post and perhaps this one as well.  I am inspired not only by individual sounds, but by lyrics and feelings within the music.

The Crystal Lattice was resurrected from a half-completed draft by the Muse song "Take a Bow".  I was listening to my MP3 player at work and had an epiphany.  I grabbed a notebook and began to scrawl notes for the rest of the book.  I had no concrete idea of where the book was going when I originally started it in college, but by the end of that song, I knew exactly what I had to write.  Some specific scenes were inspired by Led Zeppelin songs, but the overall book was prompted by Black Holes and Revelations.

Muse has been one of my chronic inspirations.  Mayfly Requiem was inspired by the song "Sing for Absolution".  I was drinking orange juice and coconut rum one night and that song popped onto my playlist.  I put it on a loop and wrote the first three chapters in one night.  Ironically, I had to put away my work in progress, Absolution, to write Mayfly Requiem.  The inspiration was so powerful and overwhelming that I couldn't ignore it.

Echoes of Oblivion has a massive soundtrack.  Individual characters have their own songs, as do pairs and groups of characters.  Here is a partial list:

Tikaari - Norwegian Wood (Beatles),
Aridani - Serenity (Godsmack), I Dare You to Move (Switchfoot)
Moth - Butterflies and Hurricanes (Muse)
Rhodren - Zephyr Song (RHCP), On Mercury (RHCP)
Rastaban - Megalomania (Muse), Roulette (System of a Down)
The Geophorians - Inner Universe (Yoko Kanno)
Ember - Burn it Down (Alter Bridge)
Lirit - Unintended (Muse)
Sevilen - Panic Prone (Chevelle), Anywhere (Evanescence)
Chaos - Where is Everybody (Nine Inch Nails)
Tempo - Vicarious (Tool)

I my full soundtrack is about nine hours long and has everything from Rachmaninoff to Johnny Cash.  I always had to listen to "Inner Universe" to focus myself first before working on Echoes of Oblivion.  Mayfly Requiem didn't really need a trigger, but I usually used "Sing for Absolution".  As for The Crystal Lattice... Led Zeppelin's "Fool in the Rain" is good to get me started.  I'd better get on that now.

Six Sentence Sunday

You are not what you seem to be, Tesji, not at all.  You are caught in a web of stars, fire, and water, and the wind serenades you like a lost lover.


This is probably my favorite sentence from my rewrite of The Crystal Lattice last night.  I didn't get very far because I was finding it hard to focus.  The internet is distracting.  It doesn't really matter because I need to take this rewrite slowly and try to catch all of the problems.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

We took the kids to the zoo.  It's always a bit of an adventure with a nursing baby and a hyper toddler, but everyone had fun.  We have a membership, so we can go whenever we want and today was perfect for it.  We got a new camera right before the baby was born, and spent some time experimenting with it today.



This guy wanted baby for lunch.
On another note, my toddler has finally decided he like snap peas and pineapple after over a year of staring them down with disdain.  I guess persistence in frequently offering him the things he doesn't want to eat is paying off.  He stole all of the pineapple and roasted garlic off my pizza during dinner.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snippet: Shards of Chaos


 Desert sands, desert winds, desert fire. Aumua was earth and fire, the only one of the Web to be two lesser Elements at once. He appeared empty, but he was not barren, for everywhere was life, life and death and frenzied existence hiding in the shade and in the shadows. He was dry but not dead, and life sprang from oases and lonely cacti. Aloes, jumping mice, miniature foxes, scorpions, snakes, palms, desert of the mind, desert of the soul. The Amari Desert was a refuge of wonderful, strange life.
Dunewind was an illusion, a fabled mirage. It rose from the desert only when it wanted to be found. Dunewind had the temperament of a small child – very open and trusting, but only to those it knew and was comfortable with. When Dunewind decided to trust someone, it rose in a magnificent oasis from an endless ocean of sand and wind. To everyone determined distrustful, the city was a glimmer on the horizon, and sometimes a swirling vortex of sand in the distance. No matter how far one walked toward it, it never got any closer. Those allowed into the secret sanctum of Dunewind were rewarded with a magnificent sandstone city surrounding a freshwater spring. It was the last great refuge of the Geophorians. Only a few scattered, hidden villages remained elsewhere in the world.