Category Archives: random

Attraction, Inspiration, and Crap I Found on the Road

Here’s the weirdest thing I’m willing to tell you about myself: I collect stuff off the street. Metal stuff, mostly, that looks like it fell off a vehicle.

It’s not as weird as it… okay, it is, but I can explain. I walk a lot. Like, almost every day, weather and health permitting. In the summer I have a lovely local boardwalk around a pond I can visit. And if I’m in the mood for treasure hunting, there’s a rocky beach not far away where I can find sea glass handmade by the ocean from the beer bottles people toss off of the nearby scenic lookout.

But winter means wandering the streets. Not much to see there.

Except that one day I noticed a ball bearing at my feet. I picked it up thinking one of my kids would find it cool. Trucks are kind of his thing.

And I liked it. It felt nifty in my hand. Really smooth and heavy and different.

So I kept it, and decided it would be fun to keep my eyes open for more (while trying not to worry about whatever vehicles were shedding these things around town). Sort of like wandering the beach looking for sea glass and shells, but more casual.

…And with more potential judgement from passing drivers who saw me bending over to pick up dirty metal garbage, but whatever. I have zero reputation to maintain, as far as I know.

Long story short, once I started looking, I started seeing. A lot of it was stuff I definitely didn’t want. Plastic bits (I mean, please, I DO have standards). Other crap that blew out of someone’s trash bags on garbage day.*

But I sometimes find what I’m looking for.

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I mean, not to brag, but guys? I’m kinda the Little Mermaid of crap that fell off of poorly-maintained vehicles. You want thingamabobs? I’ve got… well, three, but I’m getting more. Soon.

There is a point to all of this.

The thing is, I never saw any of this stuff lying around before I started paying attention to it. Just like how I rarely found sand dollars on the beach in Nova Scotia until I decided my prize was there if I kept my eyes open. After that, it was rare that I didn’t go home with at least one.

Same with sea glass.

Same with inspiration.

There was a time when I clung tight to the one story idea I had because I thought it was all I was ever going to get. This was THE THING. The story I had to make absolutely perfect because there was no guarantee that the well went deeper than this. I was miserly. I gave up frequently because the one perfect idea in my head never came out right on paper, and OH GOD WHAT IF I BREAK IT?!

Now? Now I believe ideas are everywhere, just waiting to be spotted. I don’t expect them to be served to me on a silver platter, though sometimes they are.** But I trust that if I keep my eyes open, if I believe inspiration is out there, my brain is capable of taking two random things I’ve seen and making something brilliant out of them.

Or something that’s the equivalent of plastic crap, but the point is that the treasures are out there. But I will never see them if I don’t walk around with my eyes and my mind open, believing they’re there.

I worry less about taking a chance and messing up, because there’s more.

I think this applies to a lot of other things in life, too. Like opportunities. Now, big opportunities are more frequent and easier to accept for some people than others, no question. Different people will have different doors opening for us, and not everyone gets kicked out of the nest with a great education or a “small” loan from his or her parents or a rolodex full of high-rolling contacts. But we all make choices that affect us, and we will have some kind of opportunity for something. But will we see it if we have our eyes closed, expecting nothing good come to us? Or worse, if we believe we don’t deserve opportunities?

I’m guilty of that one, and I’ve likely overlooked a lot of chances for success because I thought they weren’t meant for someone like me. But the times when I have believed in myself and been open to opportunity–to saying no to agents and publishers and going it alone, for example, or to joining in on a *shudder* group project with other amazing authors–have been very rewarding.

And if I believe that I don’t only get one shot, that success is not my only motherf*$%in’ option (contrary to what one Eminem might preach in that one very catchy tune) because I will see other opportunities, I can relax about messing up, take more chances, and dream bigger.

Or luck. If I believe I’m lucky and define luck as finding ball bearings on the street, look how lucky I am! If I believe I’m unlucky and won’t find any, I suspect the odds of me seeing them drop significantly. I just won’t be looking for them if I don’t believe I’m lucky enough to have them appear in my path.

What if I broadened my definition of luck? What if I embraced it and didn’t feel guilty about believing I’m lucky/smart/observant/whatever word I choose for it, and really stayed open to what might be out there?

I don’t know a lot about this law of attraction and manifestation stuff so many of my online acquaintances talk about all the time. Do I think the universe is a big genie waiting to grant my wishes if only I focus hard enough on what I want? Do I think opportunity and inspiration and luck and MASSIVE WEALTH spontaneously appear because I desire them enough?

Not really, no.

BUT.

I do see the underlying, practical logic of it. The psychology of it, maybe. If I focus on the good things in my life, if I’m grateful for what I have, I’m going to be more aware of them. Kind of like how you never notice blue Volkswagens until you buy one, and then they’re everywhere. They were there all along. You didn’t call them into being because you were thinking about them. You simply see what you’re paying attention to.

Inspiration.

Opportunities.

Luck.

Metal crap on the street, man.

So no, I’m not going all woo-woo mystical and trying to like… vibrate… or whatever it is. But I think, thanks to a ball bearing I almost kicked into the gutter a few months ago, that I kind of get it.

Good things are out there. Utter crap is out there, too, if we’re being honest. But I’m trying really hard to stay focused on the good.

Because what I focus on is what I see. It’s what I get more of.

I’m just keeping my eyes open.

——

*Though true story, I once saw an empty Vienna sausage can in a snowbank and sincerely hoped–and still hope–that my mental image of some guy wandering down main street casually sucking tiny processed meat sticks directly from the can as he strolled along and then tossing the garbage aside is accurate. It could happen.

*In bed, once. You can’t beat that kind of service.


Yep, I’m Still Alive

Is the blog dead because I don’t post, or do I not post because the blog is dead?

Hmmm…

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to post about right now. I’m hard at work on a challenging project that’s kicking my ass, eking out writing time in the mornings when I’m still half-asleep but the house is quiet. I’m struggling though a reading slump and a lot of anxiety and a surprising bout of depression (it sneaks up on you!), and trying to plan our first vacation in three years. For anyone keeping track, this means our first family vacation since I started publishing books, and the first time I’ve taken two weeks away from my writing since well before I got edits back on Bound and morphed into the stressed-out “holy crap I have a job now” writer I am today.*

So this should be interesting. I hope it means I’ll be able to let some ideas flow and take a new approach to problems (and maybe get some brainstorming done on the next part of the story that started with the Bound trilogy), unwind, and enjoy life away from work… but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to do two of those things. So we’ll see. 🙂

In the meantime, I did a short vlog post last week, as it’s hard to do long ones with the kids at home. This one has nothing to do with writing, but does offer my favourite cure for hiccups. Hope it’s helpful to someone. 🙂

*For the record, no, I would not trade it for any other job. I just need to learn how to deal with certain stressors and accept my limitations a bit better. It’ll come.


Farewell to a Puzzle

His name’s not really Puzzle–not in our world, though I’ve called him that more than a few times. But the blink-and-you’ll-miss-him black and white cat sleeping on Rowan’s bed in chapter two of Bound, the one who’s a little pissed about having his nap disrupted, has a real-world counterpart.

His name’s Charlie. That’s been his name since before we adopted him from the SPCA 12 years ago, and he’s even responded to it a few times.

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YOU. WILL. LOVE. MEEEEEE.

^This basically sums up our relationship.

He doesn’t go out of his way to be mean, and he has sweet moments with one of our other cats. But he’s generally antisocial, has never liked to be touched our cuddled (save for the occasional scratch under the chin). He jumps at things that aren’t there, and I’m not entirely convinced that he doesn’t think we’re all figments of his imagination. Entertaining, yes. Snuggly… not so much.

He’s been my weirdo housemate for a dozen years, basically Sheldon Cooper in feline form: uncertain of how to give or accept affection (even when he kind of wants it), happiest when left alone to enjoy his favourite spot on the couch. He’s been with us through six moves and three provinces, two kids, four dogs and two rats.

And now it’s time to say goodbye.

Charlie’s had a good life, or at least a contented (if somewhat paranoid) one. But he’s sick. I won’t go into details, but we’ve seen the vet, we’ve tried treatments, they’re not working.

I’m taking him for his last vet appointment at noon today (so 10:30 Eastern, if you want to send happy thoughts). He won’t be pleased to be there again, but I’ll stay with him until the end no matter how cranky he gets.

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And it will be hard. No matter what the circumstances, it’s not easy to say goodbye to someone you love.

There’s no lesson here, no big revelation to end the post. Death is hard, even when it’s merciful, even when letting go is the right thing.

He’ll live on, though, in my heart and on those pages.

Rest well, Puss.

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Crazy for Coconut

(SHORT POST! I have so much reading to do this weekend. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.)

Just so you all don’t think I was lying about trying stuff from that Coconut oil list

Several people suggested that I should try making a coconut oil and sugar body scrub.

And I did.

And I am DELICIOUS.

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I didn’t get all fancy with essential oils to make it stink real purdy. Just white sugar and coconut oil. Mix. Take to shower. Scrub. Rinse.

It’s all pretty simple, really. And my skin felt soft and slippery after. Also made my bathtub slippery, so you’ll want to watch that.

Works well on lips as a pre-bedtime lip scrub, too. Takes make-up off along with dead skin. And of course, tastes LIKE SUGAR AND COCONUT OIL. So there’s that.

As for the cost… I don’t know what prices are like where you all live, but around here, sugar is cheaper than dirt, but coconut oil is pretty darned pricey. I cringe a little every time I use it for anything other than eating. Still, you don’t need a lot of it for this, and it is a nice treat.

Okay. That’s one more done. What’s next?


C is for Coconut (or: Many Coconut Oil. Such Uses. Very 101. Wow.)

Yes, I just used Doge for my title. Stop judging me.

So, coconut oil. It’s just everywhere these days, isn’t it? I know I can’t scroll through my Facebook feed or scan Pinterest* without seeing an article or a list touting the benefits of this stuff. As far as I can tell, it ranks somewhere below unicorn blood and above the fountain of youth in terms of its restorative properties.

Or that’s the claim, anyway.

As for me, I tend to take any news about “miracle foods” with a mighty huge grain of salt… which I’m led to understand is not a SUPER FOOD, but whatever. Still, I have a lot of friends who love this stuff, and it doesn’t look like using it is doing any harm to anyone. I bought some, I cooked with it.

It was FANTASTIC. Never have my yorkshire puddings been crispier, my toutons more tasty, my almond-breaded fried chicken more… well, I’d never tried that before, but it was also amazing.

So I looked into other uses for this gunk, and lo and behold… 101 Uses for Coconut Oil.

Kind of.

A lot of them are repeats. Still, it seems like a good place to start. The thing is, though, that this is no fun if I’m just doing it on my own, and if I don’t get to blow it entirely out of proportion. So here’s the plan: I’m going to go through the “101” uses and report back to y’all. Because why not throw myself in front of a coconut-scented bus for the benefit of all? If these things work, we’ll all know. If not, we’ll expose this ploy by Big Coconut for what it is.

Let’s look at what I’ve tried so far, and I’ll see what I can do for you on the rest of it in later posts.

1. In cooking as a great oil with a high smoke point. Great for baking, stir-frys or as a dairy free replacement to butter.

Well, I guess I’ve done that. Greasing a baking pan, frying, all good. I haven’t tried it as a replacement for butter, except on popcorn (which was DELICIOUS when I used a mix of the two). It’s just… I like butter. A lot. STOP TRYING TO TAKE MY BUTTER, LIST.

2. Taken supplementally for daily energy

3. As a coffee creamer when emulsified into coffee (The only way I’ll drink coffee)

I’ve been putting this stuff in my coffee for several weeks now, which I guess is a form of supplementing. Only a tablespoon per day so far, but I have been feeling more energetic. Like, bouncy at times. Is that necessarily a cause and effect thing? No. But I stopped feeling so darned sluggish around the time I started doing this, and I’m not consuming any more caffeine than I was before. I’m also waking up (naturally) a lot earlier than I used to, and feeling more rested when I do.

Now, if only I could use that energy for good instead of being unproductive in a more energetic fashion…

Oh, but I’m not emulsifying anything. I’m stirring it in and hitting it with my little whisk thing, but not putting it through a blender. That would require EFFORT. And CLEANING. I can handle a little grease skin on top of my coffee. Still tastes good.

4. On the skin as a basic lotion.

I put some on my hands. Well, I tried to. It ended up all the way up my arms, because guys, this stuff SPREADS. And then I kept dropping the dishes I was putting away, because OIL BE SLIPPERY.

Also, I smelled like an explosion at the Hawiian Tropic factory. I’m learning to like the taste of coconut oil, but I’m not crazy about the scent. Maybe I’ll try to find the refined stuff for external use. I’ve heard it’s less likely to make me smell like a bored, wealthy housewife on a piña colada bender.

Skipping to other things I’ve tried, then…

24. Rubbed on lips as a natural chapstick

Greases them up pretty good, doesn’t last long. Also, since they recommend using this stuff as an eye make-up remover, I’m guessing it wouldn’t work over lipstick. I still prefer my eos lip balm, but my lips DO feel super soft after my morning coffee, so there might be something to this if you’re looking for an all-natural lip thingamaboober.

45. As a replacement for vegetable oils in any recipe.

I tried this in cake mix. I know, trying to make a boxed cake mix more healthy is as effective as ordering a diet Coke with your double Big Mac meal, but it was worth a shot. Works great in that and in home-made bread. The only thing you have to watch is the temperature. If you let the melted CO hit cold eggs or a chilly bowl, it goes solid right away. If you don’t want little Coconut Oil Globbies (worst breakfast cereal EVER) in your recipe, keep it warm wile you’re mixing.

46. Better for high-temperature cooking than olive or vegetable oils

Dudes, we covered this in number one. Seriously. Number 78 is the same thing again. Not so much 101 uses, HMMMMM?

66. Can help improve sleep when taken daily

Could be. Again, correlation doesn’t necessarily = causation, and I’d have to get off the CO and see if anything changed before I’d be willing to say that I’m sleeping better because of the CO. It’s definitely not hurting, anyway.

I think that’s everything I’ve tried, unless you count repeats (I say that “use as skin lotion” and “use as hand cream after doing dishes” are the same, as is “rub on baby as lotion,” etc).

Full disclosure: I’m not getting pregnant just to try some of these out. I love you guys, but I’m only willing to go so far for blog content.

But if anyone else is trying this stuff and wants to let me know how that’s working out for you…

Coming Soon: Oil Pulling. Because why would I not want to swish coconut oil around in my mouth for 20 minutes? *expletive deleted*

To see what others are up to for the challenge, click here!

*And by “scan,” I mean “drop in for a minute and waste three hours.”

** As in, a lot.


My Little Loki

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I couldn’t locate the source of the horrible grinding noise I was hearing after I did this. Turns out it was coming from AJ. Apparently me putting Loki on a pink pony is “a travesty” and “just wrong.”

Whatever, it’s adorable. Loki is my new best friend. We’re going to have all kinds of magical fun.


The Rooster Goes Moo

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If only there had been some farm animal with three letters in its name that they could have used as a title…


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