02 November 2015


The problem with writing, with making bad things happen to characters in stories, that occasionally, when bad things happen in your own life, you start to wonder whether or not you have inadvertently cursed yourself.

In my case, it's gone down like this. In Comrades We, when Aiyen received Clarity's Sight, she sometimes suffers from headaches from the visions she has. By the time we hit Ley Lines (planned release: November 30, 2015), Aiyen's headaches have just gotten worse. She's living with chronic migraines, essentially. Whatever potions Maris, Brannan, and the rest of the healers' team at the university can cook up only work for short periods of time before becoming ineffectual. And the visions (and thus, the headaches) just keep on coming.

I'm not dealing with visions, but I am dealing with headaches. About a month ago, a nasty headache precipitated itself into a full-blown migraine on the way home from a trip down to Bellingham. I puked until there was nothing left in my stomach; my eyes and light were a really bad combo; the rest of my digestive system decided it needed to be grouchy, too; and my head wouldn't stop hurting. The next day, I had what essentially is a migraine hangover.

Two weeks of nearly-constant, nasty headaches later, and the doctor was telling me that I had classic migraines. It also turns out that the semi-frequent headaches I've had for years that I thought were sinus-related were actually migraines, so this is not a new thing. The severity is the new bit.
He gave me a trial prescription of some heavy-duty migraine medication, recommended getting enough rest, no skipping meals, and avoiding stress. Caffeine helps a bit, so I've been going through tea and coffee at a much quicker rate than usual. I've discovered that exercise helps moderate the headaches in my case, so more long walks and more yoga have been my answer for the moment. I'm also avoiding alcohol, since red wine triggers the headaches, and other alcohol briefly dulls the pain but doesn't really help (i.e., not a smart coping strategy). The fancy migraine medication works, but it exhausts me and comes with a couple minor side effects that I prefer to avoid if I can.

The migraines have tapered off enough that they respond to Tylenol better than before, and I survived our annual Halloween party with nothing more than a mild headache (unlike a birthday party the week before, where I found myself wearing sunglasses indoors). I keep feeling like I'm fighting a bad one off, though, so E. and I are currently indoors with the curtains drawn, the lights off, and my computer set to "very dim."

I keep wondering if Aiyen's complaint has jumped from the pages of the book into my brain - if writing about it in her story made it so in my own. Oh, I know - magical thinking - absolutely ludicrous - and yet, the power of the human mind is not to be underestimated. If I get the rest of her problems - actually reliable visions of the future - I'll let you know the lottery numbers.

14 October 2015

New sewing things!

My new-ish serger
So, back in August, my parents came to visit. They brought the above with them. It's a serger. To be accurate, it's a Janome MyLock 204D. It was my grandmother's.

I finally gathered the courage and time to pull out it earlier this week and try working with it. The manual is poorly assembled (Language A on page 1, Language B on page 2, Language C on page 3, Language A on page 4, etc), and not as easy to follow as I would like, but I did okay. I've determined that I find it easiest to manage when the cutting blade is disengaged, and I haven't tinkered too much with the tension settings yet (that did become necessary, though, as E. saw the dials and immediately went for them).

When I was a kid, sewing with Grandma, she would usually handle the serger, or she would let me use it with her guiding my hands so I wouldn't slice my fingers on the blade. If the machine she used then had the option to disengage the blade, I never saw her use it. It went very fast and it was very noisy, and I was a little scared of it. She offered me that one when she upgraded to this one, but I was living in a studio apartment at university then and just the regular sewing machine was plenty for me to handle.

This serger doesn't seem as intimidating as the old one did. It's newer, a little lighter (still heavier than my sewing machine), and the threading guide makes more sense. It's still noisy and fast, as that seems to be typical of sergers, and it does the one thing really well. It serges. There's a few other things it can do--serging and gathering at the same time, pintucking, some special hemming options. There are a few other feet I could purchase for it so it would make piping and do beads and gather more easily, but as is, it does what I need it to do.

I set it up on top of my dresser so I can stand and sew at the same time. This option actually works well with my standard machine, too, I've discovered, which means the backache from hunching over my sewing can be a thing of the past. Plus, standing desk. It does go back into the box between uses. I have a climbing toddler, after all.

I used the serger to finish edges for a dress for E., and the next project is either a t-shirt (to see how the serger handles the inside seams) or a pair of jeans (top-stitching and precision sewing on the regular machine, inside seams that need reinforcing on the serger). It's going to take a little practice to get used to using a different machine, but it's not nearly as scary as it was in my head.

True, the serger is obviously not practical for everything. A top I have slated to make for E. next week only requires finishing on the shoulder seams, since the rest is trimmed with bias tape, so I'm going for French seams there. I don't really want to haul the serger out for everything. But it will make some of my sewing with knits a bit easier, and it gives the "how do I finish these seams?" question an additional answer to work with.

07 October 2015

I mostly keep starting posts and then not finishing them lately, which is why I haven't been blogging. The brain, it doesn't always concentrate the way I want it to. Some of that is the process of trial and error involved in finding the right combination of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety meds, and some of that is just me being scatterbrained (I doubt I'm officially ADD, but there are some tendencies. Plus, I live with a man who actually does have ADD, so I'm sure some of that just gets absorbed due to living together).

So, updates: Ley Lines is still in progress. It looks like my cover artist won't be done with the new cover by my initial planned release date, but the bonus of doing this myself (and of having such a minimal following at this point) is that I can reschedule things without a hassle. So we're bumping Ley Lines to a November 30, 2015 release date, contingent on my cover artist getting the cover completed and me getting my act together and finishing stuff. Which means, of course, that I won't even be attempting NaNoWriMo this year (it's a fun idea, though, so I'm going to give it a go another time).

I haven't been blogging in part because I have been feeling unmotivated about writing for no specific reason, and I've been reading a lot more than I've been writing. The reading is good, don't get me wrong, but it does distract from the writing. Add a sometimes grouchy and always bouncy two-year-old, the aforementioned anxiety and depression, the migraines that have been showing up lately, the attempt to knit more socks to replace the ones that are falling apart, and my recent interest in Criminal Minds, and you have a world-class set of distractions. (I mean, Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia? So distracting. I've been forced to wait for Season 2 to show up on the hold shelf at the library for me, and now I get to go pick it up tomorrow. But I will make myself do some writing before I'm allowed to watch "Fisher King, Part 2" and find out what happens).

This weekend is Thanksgiving, and as we have the largest space and the most place settings, we're hosting again. Cooking a turkey grows less frightening every year. So, on Saturday, my sisters-in-law and their partners and my mother-in-law and possibly my aunt-in-law are descending on us. I've committed to doing the pie and the cranberry sauce, J. is doing the potatoes, and we're doing the turkey together. (Wait, that looks dirtier than I thought it would...). The others are bringing assorted vegetable and side dishes and booze. And I have to make sure to have some kid juice for E. so she won't get too grumpy about not being allowed to share.

My anxieties about E.'s language development are slowly disappearing, as it seems like she adds new words all the time, and is putting them together more frequently. Her first sentence using the first person pronoun was "I poop." It's hard to express just how excited I was about that. Now I mostly get to worry about the way she climbs things. The other day, we were in the kid's section at the library, and I was reading a book. Suddenly one of the librarians calls, "Ma'am, that's dangerous!" I turn to see E. dancing on top of a table. I wasn't terribly worried, since it wasn't a high table and she does this all the time, but rules are rules, especially at the library. If there's one place I never want to get banned from, it 's the library.

So, time for me to go make a grocery list and think about getting the chutney started tomorrow. At least chutney's an easy one to make. And I have a sock toe to finish tonight, and edits to incorporate into a short story so I can actually send it out again. Time to try being productive!

14 August 2015


Some nights, I dream that she's still here, that she didn't die after all. That she just went away for a bit and then came back, her heart healed so she's finally well again. And those dreams hurt, because I want them to be true.

I want to be able to share things with her. To tell her stories about E. is growing, to tell her what I've been sewing lately, and to apologize for forgetting to call as frequently during these last few years where my life and mind got busy and frantic. I want to see her again. I want to thank her for the friendship with her cousin who lives nearby, something that feels like the last gift she gave me. I want to hug her again. And I can't.

I sort of believe in heaven. And I sort of don't. I want desperately to believe that I'll see her again, that all that she is and was isn't just gone. And I think I believe that. Sometimes. I don't know.

I love you, Grandma. And I wish you were still here.

05 August 2015

ephemera: July's gone already?

I just noticed that it's been about a month since my last post. Apparently I spaced out and forgot I had a blog for a bit. It's been a busy month.

J.'s grandmother has been in hospital for the last couple of months, and we've been visiting her once or twice a week, which involves a drive to the east side of the bridge and all the way out to Abbotsford every time. A few weeks ago, we showed up to find her not doing well at all and we left feeling like she was not long for this world. But she's rallied and is doing a lot better. The difficulty now is that she can't move back in to her apartment at the assisted living facility she's been at since 2006 because they mostly just do meals, cleaning, and laundry, and aren't set up to provide the level of care she now needs. She's going through an evaluation process so they can figure out what she does need, and then she has to wait for a placement at a facility that offers the kind of care she requires. We don't have the space (or the right kind of bathroom) to take her in, assuming she would let us do so; pretty much everyone in the family who would take her doesn't have the right set-up or room to convert to the right set-up. My mother-in-law said that the estimate they were given is that it might be December before she has a placement, and it could be pretty much anywhere in the province. It would be nice if she ended up in our area so we could go visit a couple times a week without worrying about the bridge tolls.

So, we're getting pretty familiar with the Abbotsford hospital these days. E. really likes the chairs and tables they have for children in the atrium, and is wildly excited about all the hand sanitizer. She thinks it's the best thing ever. The elevators with all the giant buttons are also cool. And the gift shop, which is full of stuffed animals, is another popular destination when she tries to run ahead of us.

There's been the usual anxiety and depression for me that varies depending on whether my meds for the day have kicked in yet, and how stressful everything else is. E. had a throat infection last week and was absolutely miserable and didn't sleep well, so I was pretty miserable, too. Two of my closest friends are both going through some really difficult times, so I'm concerned about them, which ups my anxiety levels a bit.

My parents are coming for a visit on Friday, which I'm looking forward to, but that also means that I need to clean everything up (it's really not that bad at the moment, but the kitchen floor looks pretty gross, especially after I made oatmeal cookies today). And I have to do some decluttering, since they're bringing birthday presents for E., J., and I (all our birthdays fall within the same 3 week span), and my grandfather is giving me my grandmother's serger, so they're bringing that up, too. Time to move stuff around and sort through things again. My to-do list tomorrow includes cleaning the bathroom and going to the recycling centre, and possibly sorting through the compartment under the sofa. I was thinking about going to yoga tomorrow night but I doubt I'll be up for an hour-long class by then.

At any rate, I am tired. And I have a cookie that I need to finish eating, so we'll call it good for now and I'll try to remember to post something with actual pictures soon.

07 July 2015

Lessons Learned from Godly Play: The Creation Story

Last month, I started the training to do Godly Play. Our church is planning to start a program, and I'm one of the people who are going to be heading it up. I was excited about the whole "teach kids about this thing we call religion but through play and encouraging them to form their own ideas" but more than a little apprehensive about how I might feel about the stories themselves. I am extremely ambivalent about the Bible these days, and many traditional Bible stories come with a great deal of baggage for me. I wondered how on earth I was going to teach this version of Sunday school, when I can't, in all honesty, be enthusiastic about many of the Old Testament stories (or their traditional interpretations, which is another post). 

Godly Play is a method for teaching kids about God that was inspired by Montessori education methods. The basic format involves telling a story accompanied by visual materials, followed by encouraging the kids to wonder about the story, to form their own ideas about it, and to come up with their own answers to the questions about the story. They then get to do individual work on art projects, which can include painting or drawing, writing, or a variety of other things (like playing with the story materials to tell it in their own way). The work can be their response to the story or not, depending on what the child wants to do.

Each story in Godly Play tells a story from the Bible or a story about church traditions, but they're not exactly your typical renditions of the story. And this is one of the reasons why I appreciate this method.

During the workshop series, each participant gets the opportunity to tell one of the stories. On the first day, I surprised myself and volunteered to do the Creation story--the very first one. I struggle with the Creation myth, not because it's not an interesting story, but because of the way literal interpretations of it have negatively affected the Church. Because of all the baggage I associate with the story, I have a hard time listening to it and experiencing it simply as story. Telling it felt strange until I hit the wondering questions at the end. One of them asks whether we could leave things out and still have a good story. Another asks whether we can rearrange the days and still have it work.

As I told the story, I rediscovered that sense of wonder in the legend, a joy in it that I lost a long time ago with all the arguments about creationism vs. evolution. I rolled out the felt that symbolized the darkness before creation, and tumbled headlong into the story. I saw the light emerge in the chaotic darkness, and the butterflies and birds arrive on the scene. It wasn't only a source of deep conflict anymore. It was a good story, a myth about how our world came to be. It tells us that our world came into existence through exciting and mysterious processes. We can tell it in other ways, and it's still a good story.

And with that, the creation story in the Bible was given back to me as something beautiful.

25 June 2015

new review for "Comrades We"

My first review! Lady Licata of As I Live and Read has posted a review of Comrades We. The review is available here.

She liked it and it was great to read what someone else had to say about the book. I'm still waiting on some of the other reviewers to work through their backlogs to get to my book, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to say.