Thursday, January 29, 2015

Have A Minute to Read A Very Short Story?

You may already know that I am part of a group called The Iron Writers.

Every week there are four or five authors competing in a challenge. The stories can be no longer than 500 words and must contain four specific elements.

This week the elements are:

            This image:

            A Howdah

            A Floor Buffer

            It must be told from the point of view of an alien who views humans as both food and pets.

The title of my story this week is Holiday.

So, if you have a minute, please click here and read the stories. Vote for your favorite (even if it isn't mine, of course).

I appreciate you visiting the website and voting.

If you want to become one of The Iron Writers just let me know or go to the Facebook page and request to join the group. It is a great bunch of people and loads of fun.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hard Days And What To Do With Them

Well it has been a yucky couple of days.

My apartment is not spotless. I am a hoarder by nature and it is hard for me to let things go. My back and neck sometimes hurt me so much that I can barely move, so cleaning is an all day event with lots of rest breaks. My home is messy, but NOT dirty.

Yet when the exterminator, who comes once a month, came to my door yesterday he said it was too dirty. My kitchen was spotless, but it is so small that you can barely see the counter for my appliances - coffee maker, toaster, microwave and the like. My coffee table and dining table were cluttered. This is a small one bedroom apartment with one big room for the living/dining area and a tiny alcove kitchen so you see all this from the doorway.

When he left I called my wonderful case worker, R., and cried to him in a tizzy. He reassured me and said he would be here first thing today. Well, he came by this morning and said that all was okay, just do some decluttering, and he went to talk to the apartment manager for me. End result is she is coming this afternoon to see the apartment first hand. I am very nervous.

But what I am not is a wreck. I had my coffee this morning and it didn't turn into a panic attack. My little meds must be in there working overtime. I am on edge, but not over the edge.

I began to wonder why I am not a basket case. I have come up with a few things that are helping me to keep a panic attack at bay..

  1. I can only worry so much. My mindset today is that I need to wait to see exactly what there is to worry about before I commit more time to it.
  2. If a panic attack starts I can do my best to squash it in it's tracks by taking a few deep, controlled breaths. In through the nose and hold and out through the mouth. This often works to center my mind on something else besides the circles it wants to run.
  3. I accept that I cannot control everything, so I will do my best at the things that I can control, like making sure the apartment is cleaned and vacuumed and dusted.
  4. I was able to talk with a professional - my case worker. He is expert at allaying my fears, giving me something else to concentrate on besides impending doom. And his promise to help no matter what comes of it is one that I can rely on.
  5. There is TV. Yay! I chose The World's End to watch. It is the last movie of the Cornetto Trilogy. And now I will have Shaun of the Dead, the first of the three, on while I compose this and wait for the manager to come. For one, there is the humorous nature of the movies - they make me laugh. Second, I have seen them so many times that they can be on in the background and I can still follow along. Humor is a great blessing all the time, but especially when you are stressed out.
  6. I am trying to see the positive in the situation. This will give me the boost I need to clear out some boxes I have been saving (for what, I don't know) and get my closets cleaned out.
  7. I am writing this post to perhaps give someone else ideas on how to deal with their own struggle. In trying to help someone else, I am making myself feel better. So thank you for being there.
I found the quote by Andy Warhol to be helpful today. In the end, so what.

So what if I have to do a deep clean? So what if I have to pay to have the carpets cleaned? So what if I have to have people come in and help me?

I am not meaning it in a snooty way, just saying that in the end all these things are doable, so why worry about them until they have to happen.

If you are having a hard day I hope one of my suggestions will help you. Please let me know of something I might have left out that would be helpful. What do you do to deal with your hard days?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Little Can

I cannot let today go by without mentioning what national day it is.

It is National Beer Can Appreciation Day!

Before 1935 you couldn't get your beer in cans. Then manufacturing processes made it possible to use sturdy enough materials to form cans. The first ones were made of heavy gauge steel, which could withstand the pressure of carbonation and pasteurization.

The taste of the beer also had to be considered. The American Can Company developed a way of "keg-lining", which was lining the inside of a small can the way that the inside of a regular keg is lined. This was with something called Vinylite that the company Union Carbide had developed. (My father worked for Union Carbide many, many moons ago.) That way the metal would not alter the taste of the beer.

Having beer in cans was great, but how do you open one of those flat topped cylindrical things made of a heavy gauge steel? In 1933 American Can Company's Dewitt Sampson and John Hothersall received a patent for an opener they called a church key which would puncture the top of the can, leaving a triangular shape. Even after the availability of pop top cans you may have used one of these to open a can of tomato juice or good old Hawaiian Punch before the advent of the plastic bottle.

I found a very interesting website that has the illustrated history of the American Beer Can. You can click here to visit it.

I don't drink now, due to the medications I have to take to remain functioning, but beer is still near and dear to my heart. My wonderful friend Mark owns his own brewery. It is Chattanooga Brewing Company. If you clicked on the link, he is the one in the middle of the cover photo. He toiled for years in corporate America and when he saw the opportunity to follow his dream and take his home brewed recipes to the masses he took it. Last year they moved from the small space where the business started to a brand spanking new building and added a restaurant. I am so proud of him.

And they are at a point where they are now going to go into canning the beer. It is still a little ways off, but they will as soon as they are able.

This was not a solo endeavor for him. He has partners and brewers and staff. They are all fantastic people.

So you see why I was compelled to expound on the joy that is the vessel that makes many tailgates and parties so much fun to attend. Or, you can enjoy your beer in your own living room.

And, if you are in Chattanooga, TN, try some of Mark's on tap (soon to be in cans).

Friday, January 23, 2015

Oh, To Write, And On What?

According to today is National Handwriting Day in the U.S.

I had a good day today before I even knew this.

I woke up early, had some lovely coffee, wrote some poetry and rewrote the story for my Iron Writer challenge next week.

Wrote some poetry? Yes! I recently found out that there is a venue for poetry slams very close to where I live (less than two miles away). With it being so close I cannot think of an excuse not to take advantage of it. I will be digging out old stuff and writing more new stuff. I am so excited about going next month that when I started to think in my usual groggy sing-song self this morning I thought, "Well, write that down, see where it goes."

And, unbeknownst to me at the time, I celebrated National Handwriting Day by using pen and paper instead of the laptop.

According to the website National Handwriting Day was started in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association. They chose today, January 23rd, because it is John Hancock's birthday. He was the first to sign the Declaration of Independence. And the term "your John Hancock" has become synonymous with term "your signature". You can read more about the association here.

When writing my short stories, and my blog posts, I will use the computer. But for poetry handwriting just seems to make the words flow a bit nicer.

And for writing letters I prefer a nice pen and some pretty paper. But I have been known to write novellas in greeting cards.

I think that even those who write strictly on the computer have that supply of scribbled notes somewhere nearby. I certainly have a pile of notebooks and scraps of paper with scrawled ideas and half cooked poetry.

I hope that you take the time today to create something handwritten. Even just a grocery list. And it would be the perfect day to pen a letter to someone. It can even be someone you talk with all the time. Just a note to let them know they are worth you taking the time to create something to send to them.

Pay attention to the feel of the pen or pencil leaving it's mark on the surface of the paper. Doesn't that feel good?

So what will you write on this fabulous day?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The New Year

First, I apologize for not having posted in the last month.

The month of December is hard for me. I want to get everything right for everybody. This Christmas I was crocheting many things for friends and family and that took a lot of time. I loved it.

As I write this, my tree is still up. I will be taking it down this weekend and stowing all the decorations for another year.

I have been cleaning my house each week and that is a good thing. On Mondays I will cue up Breaking Bad on the Netflix and have it on while I do housework. Then, when I am done, I stop the show and watch regular TV.

I have to be very careful this time of year.

This time last year I was not functioning quite so well.

This time last year I put Breaking Bad on and didn't get out of bed, just kept watching the entire series over and over. For a month. An entire month.

My little dog Max barely got exercised. My house plants all died. My bedroom became overrun with dirty dishes and other garbage. I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't go anywhere. I occasionally got online, but only for short periods of time.

I found no joy in anything but the knowledge that I knew what they were going to say next in the TV show. It comforted me.

But this year? This year has been great. My doctor says so, my case worker says so. He came to check on me, remembering what had happened last year and wanting to nip it in the bud if it was happening again.

Now you know why it is so important to me that I can turn Breaking Bad off at the end of a day of cleaning. I can use it as a reward, not a crutch.

You may say, well, why not leave the TV show out of it entirely, just don't put it on. I had to, I just had to prove to myself that I was capable of not giving in to giving up.

I am making comfort foods like chili and cornbread in a nice, clean kitchen and the cold, dark winter is kept at bay. I am not eating the junk food I so enjoy when I am down.

I enjoy the cold much more than the heat at this point in my life and going outdoors in the daytime is a treat.

I am hoping that the new year is finding you in great spirits and that everything is going well for you.