Happy Thanksgiving!

I have swiped this from an email from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, just so you know. I found them after watching “The Big Year” and getting more interested in birding. I still haven’t done much about it, but I do love birds, so…

Greater Sage-Grouse

The Greater Sage-Grouse, by Gerrit Vyn


Just in case you’re grousing (har har) around the interwebs today looking for something to read, here’s the Happy Thanksgiving email from Cornell Labs of Ornithology. I thought I’d help raise their profile a tad:

All of us at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

The Greater Sage-Grouse, featured above, is one of more than 90 bird species that live in the sagebrush steppe, an ecosystem at risk. This fall, Cornell Lab supporters voted the Greater Sage-Grouse as their favorite sagebrush bird, in a poll we conducted to help bring attention to the region’s conservation issues.

The Greater-Sage Grouse is a cousin of the Wild Turkey, making this regal-looking bird a fitting star for our Thanksgiving eCard to thank you for your support during this special time of year.

Every year, we make great strides in advancing research, education, citizen science, and conservation to benefit the birds. We could not do this without you. This holiday season, our staff at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology would like to express our heartfelt thanks for your participation, support, and friendship. Your help and love of birds strengthen our capacity to ensure that humans and wildlife can flourish side by side. Thank you!

Copyright © 2013 Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology

159 Sapsucker Woods Rd

Ithaca, NY 14850

Survival Mode

So here we are, the last week of November, with that-holiday-that-shall-not-be-named right around the corner. Here comes the panic, and the racing around, and the fretting over money we can’t really afford to spend, and ‘To-Do’ lists growing exponentially even though time is speeding up.

Yeah, I really look forward to the holidays.

I gave up on NaNo a couple weeks back when my day-job took a nasty turn and I was too distraught and succumbing to panic attacks to even think about writing. Luckily, the panic attacks have subsided so I can sleep again, an unexpected pleasant surprise on the job front (no, not a new job) gave it an interesting wrinkle. But I’m so far behind on NaNo now there’s just no way to catch up. I can’t possibly crank out 40k words by Saturday at midnight. Oh well, no biggie. I have other things of far greater significance to which to devote my attention.

Those of you who follow me on Twitter have no doubt seen me griping about a co-worker I variously referred to as Ms. Amherst, or Ms. A, or most recently, Princess. She is a suck-up to end all suck-ups, like I have never seen. She got the two top dogs in my department so completely wrapped around her little finger, and they had no idea. People are so susceptible to flattery and schmoozing, it almost made me feel dirty to watch it happen. It still boggles my brain that they couldn’t see through her. Everyone else could. People outside our department would comment that they felt sorry for anyone who had to work with her. (I say this so you know it’s not just me. She had even bragged about how much others outside our department who had to deal with her hated her. I’m sure she assumed they were jealous of her fabulousness).

So here’s the thing: She took another job at our company, and gave notice a couple days ago. After all the cozying up to the department head and office manager, she’s bailing for what she sees as a more ‘important’ position. She just loves to feel important. I could tell our office manager was a bit shell-shocked, and was reeling trying to figure out how this could happen and how she’s going to cope with the loss of Princess. I wonder when (if ever) it will dawn on her that Princess only does what Princess wants to do to advance her own career, and all the brown-nosing and schmoozing were just to ingratiate herself while she had to? But, this is the kind of person that management always loves. Toss out enough buzzwords and jargon and spend as much time as possible hanging around chatting with the higher-ups, and you’re in like Flint. Competence plays no part in career success. And I wonder how long her new boss will put up with her showing up when she pleases, and taking 8 15-minute bathroom breaks a day, along with two trips out for food, and an hour lunch break? But, maybe like my manager, they won’t notice.

I guess going in to my boss and saying “I told you so” wouldn’t be the best strategy here.

I’m still looking for a new job. I suppose I should learn to schmooze but the idea makes my skin crawl. I guess I’m just not corporate material.  What I am doing is looking into finding work doing freelance writing, with an eye to leaving the corporate world behind for good.

In the meantime, I have a short 2-day workweek this week. THAT will be fabulous. With that, I wish you all a lovely Thanksgiving, however you choose to spend it. Enjoy your turkey, or Tofurkey. Chin up, we’ll survive the holidays yet. Click the picture below for a Thanksgiving ecard from me, to you.

Thanksgiving Jacquie Lawson

Time, Time, Time

Someone asked the question on Twitter today: As a writer, what’s the one thing you’d ask Santa for?

My answer: To win the lottery so I could quit my dayjob and have time to write.

I honestly don’t know any other way to get more time. I spend two hours a day physically on the road commuting, and while I know other people have worse commutes, that doesn’t really make it any better. It’s a crazy way to live, giving up 10 hours or more every week to simply traveling to and from our jobs.

I can hear people saying, “Well, if  you really wanted to do it, you’d make the time.”

That’s great that you can function on just a couple hours of sleep a night. Not everyone can.

It’s nearly 10:00 Sunday morning. My ‘weekend’ is essentially over. Time to start laundry, take a shower so I can go to the store and get food and things for the week, do housework, pay bills. And so the week begins again.

Weekly Card – King of Cups

King of CupsThis week we have the King of Cups from the glorious Touchstone Tarot. Cups are associated with the element of Water, and emotions. Here’s a guy who’ll wine you and dine you, nothing’s too good for the ultimate romantic experience. All the Kings are associated with Fire, so this guy is Fire of Water. Steam. He’s no pushover, despite his loving heart. He signifies a successful man, one who is the fatherly type, very concerned with keeping those he loves happy. And this is a guy who’s up to the task. He may even dote on you a little too much, but it makes him happy to see you happy.

This is a good time to listen to the advice given from such a person, he has your best interests at heart. He will lead by example, rather than trying to crack the whip. Pay attention and he will point you in the right direction. I swear he’s been hovering nearby ready to lend a shoulder to cry on.

As a point of interest, the man depicted in the painting is Charles de Solier, Lord of Morette (1534-35), painted by Hans Holbein the Younger.  The original is in the collection of the Gemäldegalerie, Dresden. The rest of the elements – the cup he holds, the pie, the seashells, the table, and the blue curtain in the background – each come from other paintings. Kat Black blended them all seamlessly into this beautiful image.

I hope you all find your King of Cups this week.

Weekly Card – Queen of Wands

Queen of WandsSo this week I had to go with the All Hallows Tarot by Robyn Tisch Hollister. And we have the Queen of Wands. Wands are associated with the element of Fire, and creativity. All Queens are associated with Water, so we have Water (emotion) of Fire (passion, creativity, energy). Competent, strong-willed women who do what they love. The Queens are women of power who have arrived. They’re mature, they’ve achieved both spiritual and professional growth. If you know such a woman, enjoy her company. Perhaps you see a bit of yourself in her.

This week is Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve, Samhain, Summer’s End. To the ancient Celts it was the New Year.

To those celebrating this as the New Year, a blessed Samhain to you, and all good things for the new year. The wheel turns, celebrate the harvest and a new beginning. Start a new project, pour your creativity into it. I’m about to start new novel for NaNoWriMo, so that’s where all my energy will be going for the next month.

Blessed Be!

Weekly Card – Six of Pentacles

Six of Coins FenestraAnd we follow up last week’s Four of Coins with the Six of Coins (Pentacles) from the Fenestra Tarot.

This suit is associated with Earth, earthly concerns, money, practical matters. Literally earthy things like gardening as well. We’ve progressed from the stability of the four through the tempestuousness of the five to the victory of the six. Once again this shows us in a position of acclaim, finding ourselves in a more fortunate position than others. In fact things are going so well we’re feeling generous now that we’re in a position to give back. This may be money, or time, or advice. Be careful not to let someone drain too much energy from you. If you start feeling yourself pulled in too many directions it’s ok to step back a bit. People may be drawn to your strength and charm. Give what you can but it’s ok to say no at some point.

But for the moment, enjoy being the one who has it all.

I’m still plotting the NaNo novel, so I don’t expect to be around much during the week. NaNoWriMo is on in just a couple of weeks! Have a great week, everyone.

Neil Gaiman on Reading

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed.

This is a snippet of a lecture Neil Gaiman gave to the Reading Agency in London, on Monday, October 14, about the importance of reading, libraries, and librarians. Read the rest here in The Guardian. It is a long-ish read, but worth it. Gaiman makes the case for reading, libraries, books and daydreaming better than anyone I’ve ever seen (or read). Pass it on.

Now if only people would put down their smart phones and tablets and turn off the tv long enough to read a book.

book shelf

Meditations on Ray Bradbury

Several weeks ago, I wrote this post about Ray Bradbury for his birthday. In celebration of the anniversary of his birth I treated myself to a stack of his books which I had not read before, chief among them being Something Wicked This Way Comes. I just finished it Saturday night (October 12). Something Wicked

This is an astounding book, the prose is poetry. If you haven’t read it, treat yourself. It’s creepy in the way horror stories should be creepy. The menace to the townsfolk is insidious, without resorting to the slasher/gore that’s so nauseatingly overdone these days. Mr. Dark, the Illustrated Man; Cooger, Mr. Electrico; the Dust Witch with her eyes sewn shut; The Skeleton; the Dwarf; all the freaks in the carnival are macabre and evil. Before people know what they’re doing, they’ve lost their souls to the carnival. One of my favorite lines in it is the last line of Chapter 37 (about halfway through):

Waiting, his flesh took paleness from his bones.

In my other post about Ray I described my dream of him  and how he was laughing and talking excitedly, seemingly full of joy. This is a key plot point in the book for the characters. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet, so I won’t go into detail. Somehow it ties back to the dream of Ray and his mirth and joy as he talked to me. If only I could remember what he was saying. I suppose it doesn’t matter, though. The laughter is what’s important. Everything was ok, was all I can really remember, it’s all as it should be, there’s nothing to fear, be joyful. The dream was just a few days before his birthday, which I didn’t know at the time. I looked up his birthday after I had the dream, which was what inspired me to get this book and read it. Despite my professed atheist leanings, things like this happen from time to time, and make me pause and consider.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks, though, was in the ‘Afterword: Carnivals, Near and Far.” He talks about his experiences as a child with carnivals and merry-go-rounds, and the freaks he actually met. When he was twelve-years-old, he met a Mr. Electrico, but he was nothing like the terrifying villain of the book. In fact he seems to have been a dear old soul, and Ray calls him a ‘Christian mystic.’ He had a profound influence on young Ray. Here’s the part of his conversation with him that he recounted in the book:

Mr. Electrico introduced me to all the carnival freaks behind the scenes, including the Hippo Lady, the Human Skeleton, and the Illustrated Man. We sat on the bench and he listened to my grand ideas about my irresistible future.

When I had run out of gas, Mr. Electrico said, “We’ve met before.” “Oh, no, sir,” I said, “this is the first time I’ve ever talked to you.” “No, no,” he said, “you were my best friend at the Battle of the Ardennes Forest outside Paris in October 1918, were wounded, and died in my arms. And there you are with a new name, a new face, but the light coming from your eyes is the soul of my lost friend. Welcome back to the world.”

Why is this making my heart beat faster? Ray’s laughter in my dream, Charles Halloway’s epiphany in the book, the real Mr. Electrico and his reincarnated friend in the form of Ray Bradbury… It’s all looping together in my brain, the connections and intertwinings. I wonder if Mr. Electrico is back in another guise now, out there somewhere looking for his lost friend. I feel like I’m being led to something, being handed a message.  I hesitate to jump to conclusions, especially when it involves this much ‘woo,’ but I think the message is pretty clear. That said, I think I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Weekly Card – Four of Coins

Four of Coins Nigel JacksonFour of Coins. Sticking with Nigel Jackson this week, I really like this deck.

The stability of the fours this time applied to material concerns. It indicates holding onto your money, not being frivolous and being secure. Often this card depicts a miserly man clinging tightly to his money, but financial stability and frugality are often desirable (ok, when are they not?). There’s nothing wrong with being practical. The only problem comes if you start to value wealth and money over everything else.

I don’t think that’s what this particular card is telling us, however. We need to secure our castles, and the card shows a beautiful vista and dawn breaking to blue skies full of birds. This is a time of achievement, of attaining some financial goal, or getting the house we want. It shows a solid foundation to our lives, a well-ordered existence. Anybody househunting? This could be the week to find the home that’s perfect for you.

It feels like a good week to catch your breath and enjoy some creature comforts. No big splurges, just enjoy the calm after the tumult.