Wednesday, November 8, 2017

It's Finally Here! I Was Startiing to Think it Might Not Come This Year!

I'm talking, of course, about the autumn colors. They were expected to show in mid-October, but only arrived in full this past week. I had Collin do the photo honors. And after he was finished, he explained to me that the Samsung Galaxy has a special feature that compensates for shaky hands like mine....


Monday, November 6, 2017

When You Just Have to Take a Break from the Real World....

It's been that kind of a week. It's been that kind of a month.

After Collin's health scare--he still has to have a neuromuscular consultation at St. Louis University on January 16th to verify that whatever happened to him isn't coming back--he's doing well and going back to work tomorrow. A lot of prayer got us through that one and apparently, God is still looking after us (we do need to be looked after). I still have some intermittent speech problems, but have reassurances from my doctors that I don't need to go to the ER every time I trip over my tongue. The rough patch was followed by an unexpected miracle. (Yes, they do happen. You just have to be watching for them.)

Having been through so much, we both needed a  break--from reality. Reality these days is not so great, between our Idiot-in-Chief still being in the White House, shootings at concerts and church services and a terrorist attacking people on a bike path in New York City. I grew up in a world that was a pretty great place. I had hoped it would be the same great place for Collin and any grandchildren I might have in the years to come. Sadly, it isn't.

But that's for another post. Last Friday, we got that desperately-needed break. We went to the movies--to see Thor: Ragnarok. We'd both been anxiously awaiting its release, and it did not disappoint--in fact, it was better than my expectations. The title might suggest a grimmer story than it is. It's got a lot of laughs. It's in some ways a buddy movie focused on Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), once they get that initial beatdown out of the way.  This movie explains a lot of what took place in the two previous Thor movies (I always wondered why Odin (Anthony Hopkins), particularly why Odin was so tough on Thor and his adopted brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). By the way, Loki is no longer the black sheep of Odin's family. Loki's actions were nothing compared to those of their long-lost sister, Hela (Cate Blanchett). 

I've known a lot of dysfunctional families, but Odin's family is far and away the most dysfunctional--but then, they've had thousands of years to build up all that nastiness.

I'll be posting my full review at Rotten Tomatoes later this week.

After the movie, we headed over to TGI Fridays for lunch. And since that day was World Sandwich Day and Subway was offering not only a buy-one-get-one-free deal. they were also making a contribution to Feeding America, we picked up subs for dinner. Any day I don't have to cook is a good day for me!

Oh, and one more thing: for months now, I've been entertaining the idea of getting a buzz cut. I was on the fence at first for a number of reasons. I didn't want to look butch. I didn't want anyone to think I was trying to turn into a guy or something. And I always thought that while it's a look that works great for some women, I don't have the face or bone structure for an almost-hairless look. I didn't want anyone to think I'm sick, either. On the other hand, my hair is baby-fine and has always been a pain in the backside, no matter how I wore it. I always wear a hat or a cap when I go out. In winter, I couldn't wear a knit cap because it did bizarre things to my baby-fine fluff. When we went to get our haircuts last week, I decided to take the plunge. Even so, the stylist was hesitant. She stood behind me, razor in hand.

"Are you sure about this?" she asked.

I was. And I am. I love it. It's so easy to care for. I'm planning to keep it this way for the foreseeable future. I don't have any photos yet, but it looks very much like this character from Marvel's Inhumans....

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

"Next Time You Want to See a Movie, It Had Better be a Disney Movie!"

Happy Halloween, everyone! Today's post is one I've thought about doing for a long time now. It just fits the occasion. Back in 1973, I talked two friends, Shirley and Yvonne, into going to see The Exorcist. They were reluctant at first, but allowed themselves to be persuaded. If you've seen the movie, you know there are a couple of real appetite-killing onscreen moments. During one of those moments, both of my friends abruptly shoved their bags of chips at me. Being stuck in the middle between two unhappy moviegoers can be an awkward thing.

As we were leaving the theater, they issued a warning: "Next time you want to see a movie, it had better be a Disney movie!"

The following year, I transferred from Jefferson College to Saint Louis University. That was where I learned the true story behind The Exorcist. It was legend around the campus. The exorcism on which the movie and William Peter Blatty's novel were based took place at SLU. The details can be found on the University's website, but the child who was believed to be possessed was a boy, not a girl as was the case in the movie. The child, known only under an alias, was from the Washington DC area, but was brought here to a relative's home. The Jesuits performed the rituals at three locations--the relatives' home in Bel-Nor, the Jesuit rectory at St. Francis Xavier College Church on the SLU campus, and at the Alexian Brothers Hospital in south St. Louis. The old rectory was torn down and replaced in 1966; the hospital building where the final days of the exorcism took place was leveled and rebuilt in 1978. 

Yes, I've wondered if the destruction of those two buildings had anything to do with the exorcism....


Saturday, October 14, 2017

New Takes on a Not-So-Old Idea

I did promise fun today, didn't I? Let's see if this post delivers.

I've published (or more appropriately, re-published) six of my previous books with Creativia--but for the new books, which may finally be finished soon, thanks to my wonderful doctors (Dr. P. and Dr. B., take a bow!), Collin and I are considering going it on our own--especially now that Collin and his partner, William, are contemplating an audiobook publishing venture of their own.

I've been playing around with photoediting apps on my tablets for a while now. I posted some of the results here a while back. I decided I'd take a shot at "enhancing" some of Collin's cover ideas. Tell me what you think of these versions of Superhero in Training.

See anything here with potential?

These were just for fun, but....

Two of them are missing...I had one with weird colors, and another with a cat's paw clawing the dog's face....

Friday, October 13, 2017

They're Always Your Baby, No Matter How Old They Are!

The post I had planned for today will have to wait until tomorrow. I promise it will be something fun and Trump-free, so barf bags will not be needed.

I once told Collin that when he's eighty, he's still going to be my baby. His response? "When I'm eighty, you'll be dead." He has so many good traits...but diplomacy isn't one of them. I guess he gets that from me. He calls it like he sees it.

Some of you know that he's been having health issues for the past couple of weeks. He has arthritis in his ankles and feet. We've known that for over a year. He had to quit his job at IHOP because of it. But he actually likes serving, so a few months ago, he went back to it, in spite of my warnings to him that arthritis doesn't just go away. It can be managed (sometimes), but never cured. When walking was no longer easy, I refrained from my usual barrage of "I told you so." (I'm reserving them for another disaster on the horizon, for those who made said disaster possible--thankfully, Collin is not guilty of that one!) 

No, instead of rubbing his nose in it, I urged him to schedule an appointment with his orthopedic surgeon--but first, he had to see his primary care doctor. That appointment was yesterday. He could barely walk. I'd asked our friend Carolyn about borrowing a wheelchair, but we haven't been able to pick it up yet. So as we were walking up the sidewalk to the medical building, Collin lost his balance and almost fell. How I managed to hold him up, given that he's much bigger than I am, can only be attributed to divine intervention. I got him into the building, where wheelchairs are available for patient use. Again, I'm not sure how I managed to navigate it into the elevator and up to his doctor's office on the second floor, but we made it.

Because Collin had been having other symptoms like way too much sleeping, loss of appetite and vomiting, it made sense to see his primary doctor first. She ordered some lab tests--and an MRI of his spine. We had to wait around a couple of hours for the MRI, so Carolyn, who was coming from an appointment nearby, came to wait it out with us...and brought lunch. I tried to stay optimistic for Collin, but I think every imaginable worst case scenario ran through my head in that two hours.

Yep, he's still my baby. And my baby was in trouble.

We got the test results last night. He has arthritis in his spine and a small benign tumor, called a hemangioma, near the T12 (where the thoracic section becomes the lumbar section of the spinal column). What does that mean? I haven't a clue. We'll know more when he sees both of his doctors next week.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Changing Face of Evil--Or Has it Really Changed at All?

The news is currently all about the mass shooting in Las Vegas--over fifty people dead, over five hundred injured. The shooter, by all accounts, has nothing in his background to indicate he would even contemplate such a thing, let alone plan it so meticulously. Will we ever know why he did it?  Even if we do ever discover his motive, it's not going to make sense.

Terrorist attacks around the world...suicide bombers...serial killers...all faces of evil. The loving mother who suddenly murdered her small children...the son who plotted the murder of his own mother...the monster who encountered two young girls hiking in what should have been a safe area killed them after doing God only knows what to them. Again, the faces of real evil. There was a story in the news a while back about a cop--in New York, I believe--who fantasized about raping women, then eating them. If that's not pure evil, I don't know what is.

These acts of evil are becoming more common every day. There was a time they were only seen with any regularity in movies. I'm thinking of the Omen movies as an example.The first movie started with a stillborn baby who was later found to have been murdered so a priest under Satan's control could convince the dead child's father, an ambassador, to pass a baby he was told had been orphaned off as his own. The child's nanny took her own life in a horrific act to open the door for one of Satan's apostates to step in and serve as his protector. When another priest tried to warn the ambassador of what was to come, he died in a freak accident. The ambassador's wife was killed when she became pregnant again. A photographer who stumbled onto the truth was decapitated. 

In the second movie, an executive, a scientist and an elderly woman who controlled a large portion of the family fortune all died in "accidents." A cousin who discovered the truth suddenly collapsed--an aneurysm, according to the death certificate. By the third movie, the child was an adult beginning his rise to power. The US Ambassador to the Court of St. James (Great Britain), suddenly committed suicide in front of a group of reporters--after which Damien Thorn, aka the antichrist, was appointed as his replacement. A group of monks chosen to deal with him were killed, one by one. Anyone who got in his way was eliminated. When he was certain Christ was about to return, he ordered the elimination of all children born on March 24th. Among the executioners were a priest, a neonatal nurse and a pair of boy scouts. weird, huh? Ironically, the antichrist was stopped by the ultimate skeptic--a reporter.

Yes, these were movies. I'm not trivializing what happened in Las Vegas, just making a comparison. Killing without apparent reason. It raises a question that's been asked many times before: does true evil exist?

Many neuroscientists say no. They content that evil acts are the result of a glitch in the brain. Others, like blogger Richard Koch, are more open to the idea. I believe, without as doubt, that evil does exist, and that the potential for both exists in each of us. Which way we go is a choice we have to make. The problem is that too many don't believe evil exists, which makes them more vulnerable to it. Those of us who know it's there are on guard against it. Most of us, anyway. I've seen some, quite recently, who became so sure of themselves and their ability to deal with it, their arrogance inevitably led to their downfall.

Just think about it. That's all I ask.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Barf Bags and Fossilized Pizza

I was going to post this yesterday, but Collin, who never gets sick (I've asked him more than once when the mothership is returning for him), actually got sick. He missed work yesterday and was sent home today, right after he got there. The health department, it seems, frowns upon restaurant employees puking on the job.

He's been having gastrointestinal issues for the past week. Hard to believe, since this is my baby boy, who would put leftovers from restaurant meals in his backpack and eat them a week later, when he remembered he had them. I always thought it would be my cooking or fossilized pizza that brought him down.

He's in bed now, where he's been since he got home. His doctor prescribed a bland diet and lots of fluids for now. A bland diet is good. Easier to clean up when it won't stay down.

Anyway, my post for yesterday--today--was planned to be about my latest visit to my neurologist. Ever since I learned, back in June, that I'd had a tiny stroke, I've been apprehensive. I watched my mom suffer through multiple major strokes until she could no longer do anything for herself and didn't recognize Collin or me. I expected the worst. Going to sleep at night became a cliffhanger. I wondered if I'd even wake up in the morning.

That all changed on Wednesday.

After a thorough examination, my doctor told me that the spells I've been having--periodic speech problems, tremors, zero concentration, short-term memory issues--are not TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) but seizures. Mind you, seizures are no picnic--even mine, which are not the convulsions most people associate with epilepsy--but I'll take seizures over strokes any day. It's like the 2016 election, with Hillary Clinton being the seizures and Donald Trump being the strokes. You don't really want either one, but better to go with the one that will do the least amount of damage. You can't fix strokes.

I told her that I haven't been able to write for some time time now, beyond blog posts and obnoxious comments on Facebook. What once came so easily is now a struggle. I've considered giving up. Actually, I gave up more than once. I considered taking on ghostwriters. I have the ideas, I just haven't been able to turn the ideas into complete novels. And then I told myself it was time to retire, stop and smell the roses and all that.

I told myself the market isn't what it used to be. I'm not the writer I used to be. I'm not interested in doing the kind of books that end up on the bestseller lists anymore. There are more writers and fewer readers now. I've used every excuse in the book. But the truth is, I want to write. I just can't.

My doctor thinks that may not be a permanent issue. Seizures not strokes, right? It can be fixed. I can be fixed. Maybe. A change in meds, and time will tell....