Monday, April 30, 2018

Sparks Monday - April 30 2018

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

I am once again sticking with the musical theme. Today enjoy an inspiring remark by the amazing Bruno Mars.

Quote Courtesy of Brainy Quotes
Have you ever heard him sing the Mark Ronson tune ‘Uptown Funk’?


Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Rainbow Snippet for April 28th and 29th

This weekend, my contribution to RainbowSnippets is all about angst. For some reason, I tend to torment these characters. I hope you enjoy this descriptive scene.


He looked toward the window. His lips formed a deep pink slash, almost like a healing knife wound. Would he, or we, ever get a chance to heal?

“Look at me, Nicky.”

Hollow eyes turned to me, bottomless irises and pupils flattening, becoming duller than a mud hole. I couldn’t understand how his mood shifted so fast even with my idiotic reminder of a painful incident.


Have you ever said the exact worst possible thing and hurt the one you love most? I hope you worked it out as these two manage to do.

Hope you enjoyed this and will check out what other authors have shared this weekend. Be well!


Friday, April 27, 2018

My Latest Obsession & an Impluse Buy

Today I spent a few minutes on Instagram and Twitter, mainly to see what’s up with Palaye Royale. That band and its truly kind and inspiring members brighten my every day with their words and music.

And the images! Check out this one of drummer Emerson Barrett holding a stuffed elephant.

How Adorable is This?
This young musician is also an extraordinary artist. And he just came out with his own line of quality sketchbooks. Guess who spent money she really couldn’t afford on the Artful Dodger book pictured below?

I Find His Intricate Creations Quite Hypnotic
But I figured I deserve a treat. SO keeps buying unnecessary stuff for an often expensive hobby, after all. And art of any kind is therapeutic to me, just as Emerson admits, himself a bit reclusive. I feel so fortunate to have met him last month as he is the first in the band to seclude himself after a show.

And the book has seventy pages! That’s not so bad for $30, is it? Let’s just not talk about the $10 shipping fee. Okay?

Have you bought yourself a treat lately?


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Keeping on Target

A fellow local writer once commented that I always seem to stay directly on track during November’s National Novel Writing Month. I tend to do the same in April and July during Camp NaNo since undertaking them.

And that is despite going for broke and setting the more flexible ‘camp’ bar high as November’s fifty thousand words. Below, you can see for yourself my progress.

Each Day I Follow What My Heart Wants to Write
In part I can think early retirement, as I don’t have to spend eight plus hours at a daily desk job. Besides my two aging cats, two tropical fish tanks, and (usually) self entertaining spouse, there are few demands upon me of any sort.

But I am happy to admit that I have met the challenge every time since first joining NaNoWriMo, even while still employed outside the home. Even better, I can say that true fun and joy of writing are my motivations.

On that note, I need to put down the laptop and gather SO for a trip to the grocery store. At least the sun is shining bright for the first time in days, so it will feel good to step outside.

How is your weather today?


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tips and Tricks for Safe Internet Usage (and a Rant)

My spouse spent nearly four hours at the neighbor’s house on Sunday because the guy downloads software without thought that it might carry malicious software. About once a year he gunks up his operating system. This one is so egregious that SO is back over there this morning because the problems persist.

(meanwhile, I can’t get SO to put out a clean water bowl for the cats)

I urge you not to accept ‘free’ software from just any source. And run scans on your computer on a regular basis. This household recommends SpywareBlaster, Malwarebytes, AVG AntiVirus, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer, and CCleaner, all of which offer lower grade versions without a subscription fee.
Partial Screen Shot of My Machine's Desktop
Notice the all important Scrivener and MS Word at top left. Upper and bottom most right icons link to inspirational photos. Thats how I spend most of my research time. ~grin~ And keeping the protective software icons nearby makes sure I dont forget about them.

Each scan takes some time, but at least once a month I try to check for software updates and run them. Perhaps if we paid for upgrading one or two of these systems we wouldn’t need all of them, but our limited income makes the extra effort worthwhile. So I follow my in-house expert’s frugal advice.

Be aware that CCleaner will delete all your remembered sign-ons and passwords. Since that creates an extra hassle, I run that one least of all. And one thing I dislike about Malwarebytes is that the latest update upgraded me to an unsolicited ‘free trial’ which I can opt to purchase in a few weeks.

Guess what
is not going to happen?

New pop up notifications from Malwarebytes are the biggest drawback, a distraction this writer does not appreciate. It was too time intensive trying to figure out how to revert to the original version and I didn’t want to bother SO (unlike our freeloading neighbor). Again, I would rather write.

But I fixed that irritant. This morning I turned off notifications in the Malwarebytes settings just as I had done with every other one of these products. The software creators don’t like that and will try to pretend you’re lowering the effectiveness. Don’t believe them.

Have you ever gotten a nasty computer virus?


Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Rainbow Snippet for April 21st and 22nd

This weekend’s RainbowSnippets showcases a little adult humor. At
least I hope it’s funny. But if literary reference to intimacy makes you
uncomfortable you will probably want to stop reading here. It's not
my intent to upset or offend.

For back story, you need know one shape-shifter has lost her mind
under the animal id in the midst of ill-fated sexual power exchange.
While she retains humanoid thinking and shape, her surroundings
make no sense. And in her mind, her baffled lover has become her
assumed enemy.


I hobbled about searching for some suitable missile. My pathetic
nemesis followed at a safe distance, still chattering in a pointless way,
waving outspread arms.

Among so much human made garbage I discovered a smooth garish
club standing on end. Testing its heft I found the lined grip a little
narrow. Somehow those grooves spun and the thing awakened with a
rattle. To keep it from shaking free I tightened my hold.


Do you know what she picked up? I hope you enjoyed and will check out the Rainbow Snippets Facebook page for a plethora of compelling vignettes.


Thursday, April 19, 2018

Darla’s Discoveries – Embracing Reality & Saving Time, and Breath

No person can truly know another’s thoughts. And I have learned that my spouse could not think much less like me, who forever mulls over stupid things SO wouldn’t consider for a moment.

I am trying to be more like that and obsess less over trivia, wanting to reduce the time thinking about pointless issues. The same goes for talking about them.

Take my realization that my everyday toiletries and skin care products no longer need be on the medicine cabinet’s top shelf. Duh… I’m the short one. While SO has taken to keeping daily medications in a desk drawer for some reason, infrequently used stuff took their place. Moving items seldom used up and the aforementioned stuff brought down has made my mornings that much easier.

A younger me would have made a point of mentioning the decision. But these days I know that SO is not likely to notice, let alone care about the changes. So I kept my mouth shut, saving those precious minutes for talking about our shared interests instead.

Meanwhile, as I typed this last night we were preparing to view another live streamed SpaceX launch. We both geek out over each event.

Are there any little realizations that make your life simpler, whether in dealing with a loved one or how you arrange your living space?


Monday, April 16, 2018

It’s Hummingbird Season!

In my part of the United States, we get one type of hummingbird during summer migration. These ruby throated flying jewels are a joy to behold. I put out my feeder last Friday hoping they will start coming around, if only on their way to more northern climes.
Wish I Could Take Credit for this Image
So today I decided to share a few tips about feeding hummingbirds. No doubt many interested folks already know these, but educating one person is worth the effort.

First, you don’t need to buy expensive hummingbird food. And the fluid doesn’t need to be dyed red. Most feeders take care of that.

Simply mix four parts bottled or filtered water with one part table (white processed) sugar. Do not, under any circumstances, use powdered sugar as it often contains a small amount of anti-caking agent. That is not any better for a tiny bird than the chlorine in my tap water.

I don’t think I need tell anyone not to use artificial sweetener. ~grin~ These flyers need lots of calories.

As for the type of feeder, I prefer the ones with a central water reservoir to deter ants. As shown below, it is also easy to clean. The entire red top with perch lifts off the clear round bottom portion. And the hook unscrews, so the top and bottom units can go into the dishwasher at the end of the season.

Like Many Bird Species, Females and Juveniles Lack the Bright Coloration
And cleanliness is important. You don’t want mold growing on the sugar. And don’t be like me and let the sugar water dry up. ~shakes head~ Check the feeder every three to five days, more often in hot weather, and use a tiny bristle brush for scouring the four feeder ports.

If insects gross you out, be warned that you will find determined critters have made their way down into the ports. I almost always discover little drowned bugs or see them bedraggled and floundering. Never having been bitten or stung in the process, with a gentle pour over the nearby grass I always hope survivors recover.

Meanwhile, I like to mix up a good sized batch of ‘nectar’ and keep it in my refrigerator between fillings. Four cups water and a cup of sugar goes a long way. Oh, and you don’t need to heat the water. Sugar granules dissolve just fine with simple stirring of even the coldest fluid. If you do make it ahead of time, just give a quick stir before pouring out another serving.

Attracting them has been easy for me. There are all kinds of annual and perennial plants that help with this; I’ll let you look them up for your region if interested. And while these birds are territorial, I often get to enjoy their acrobatic aerial confrontations. You can imagine just how adorable I found a nest one autumn. Too bad I missed the hatchlings and nobody returned to that spot since.
Amazing Photography, No?
You can actually sit or stand quite close to the feeder, too, if you’re patient and still. Some folks manage to get them to land on a hat or sleeve. There are even feeder ‘hats’ you can wear.

As for me, I found their buzzing by my head startled me, as I’m usually writing or reading if I sit outside, so my shepherd’s pole supporting the feeder is about ten feet from my patio chair. And believe me, I still hear them buzzing in for a landing to enjoy their presence.

Did you know hummingbirds catch insects while in flight for protein? The potential for them catching mosquitoes is just one more reason to adore them.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rainbow Snippet April 14th and 15th

This weekend’s RainbowSnippets installment features a character in the throes of a nightmare. I hope my words convey his despair and his partner’s helpless witness.


The bleating of a wounded lamb woke me. Bolting upright, I looked
to my side.

Nickolas continued to drowse. His eyelids twitched, hand clutching the sheet higher beneath his chin. His head jerked, a minute move sounding loud with all that hair sliding over the sheets. Taking a shallow breath, letting out a less pained bleat, he stilled.


I hope you enjoyed. Please visit Facebook for links to some stellar writing examples.



Thursday, April 12, 2018

Darla’s Discoveries – Music as a... Mask?

Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me in even a virtual sense knows music is one of my favorite things in this entire world. An inner ear headphone worn back in my office work days helped keep me sane, sometimes with the thousands of songs on random play.

It was amusing to hear a Marilyn Manson tune followed by Mozart, then maybe some hardcore Otep. And something fast paced makes exercising and cleaning a little more palatable.

Now I’m an aging asthmatic early retiree with one creaky knee who found other benefits to playing tunes. Breathing easy but lungs popping and crackling? Turn up The Cure. Queasy over a grinding knee joint ascending the cellar stairs? Put Palaye Royale on through headphones before starting the laundry.

As I type, I’m listening to music from “The Crow” to drown out my rattling exhalations. Maybe after this I’ll put on some KoЯn. That’s always fun writing accompaniment.

KoЯn - Nu Metal Masters
Does your life require a soundtrack?


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pop Evil Punks and a Class Act

On social media the other day I found footage from Palaye Royale’s final show opening for Pop Evil. While the brothers of PR defended their headliners as treating them well, fans shared the fact Pop Evil would not allow the siblings and their bandmates to interact with people between the start and encore of the PE set.

The funny thing is, I’ve waited in line to buy the opening band’s merchandise while rocking out and cheering to the headliner. Doesn’t Pop Evil understand this?

I was lucky jumping in line before Palaye Royale’s set ended that night to meet Emerson and Remington while Pop Evil was getting set up. Otherwise, I might have stayed for the headliners instead of leaving in silent protest as I did. Their greedy jealousy got me home by 10:15, so maybe I should thank the punks.

The clip showcased a rather mean prank. Here you can see a freeze frame of the event.

I Adore Emerson's Classy, Understated Quote
No doubt the guy thought it would be funny imitating Palaye Royale’s opening drum roll in the “Mr. Doctor Man” video with this dousing of talcum powder. And I might have been amused to a small degree had it not been for the fact the band wasn’t done performing.

As the video continued, Emerson stood up, tossed a stick to fans, and kicked over half his kit. I am sure this was in part to clear the toxic cloud away from his face, and no doubt released steam to stop him pounding the jerk into jelly. Afterward he had to get set up again before they could resume playing.

Did you know it’s unhealthy to inhale talcum powder?


Monday, April 9, 2018

Sparks Monday – Wise Words from the King

To quote Annie of McGuffy’sReader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

I remember my precise location when Elvis Presley passed away. Barely tall enough to reach, I was in the basement washing my clothes with the radio playing. When I decided to pay tribute to him today, the following (amazing) quote popped up at the top of the Brainy Quotes website. I’m grateful to whoever took the included photo.

What were you doing August 16, 1977?

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Facebook Poll

An online friend shared something funny the other day that I thought worth sharing. Some of the things on the list are also a little bit baffling.

I'm Surprised it Doesn't Mention Cats
I thought online streaming services were more for the young. And who doesn’t have a favorite mug? Mine has a character from the Judge Dredd comics on it. ~grin~ Ever hear of villain Mean Machine Angel? He had a role in the ill-fated 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie.

Here is my reply:

What do you think of the list?


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Rainbow Snippet April 7th and 8th

Once again I'm joining the delightful LGBTQ+ writers of RainbowSnippets. Here are six sentences showcasing another pair of lovers in turmoil.

View From My Floating Desk

Story snippet:

At that I threw myself into her arms. Her knocked out breath took the form of laughter. I kissed it away.

“I thought you didn’t want…”

“Shut up and make love to me.” 



I hope you enjoyed it!


Friday, April 6, 2018

Joy – One Pretty Boy and a Horse

Last night I was looking at my jacket worn to the Palaye Royale concert thinking it really should go to the dry cleaner. That got me recalling the show and what joy I found meeting Remington Leith and Emerson Barrett. Imagine my amusement upon finding these images of Emerson on social media today.

A Joyful Performer

Seeing him and his brothers happy never fails to make me smile so it seemed worthwhile to share the joy. Gotta love someone who adores horses.

One Happy Boy
Have you ever ridden a horse?
Did the Horse Crack a Joke? Can't Fake that Glee...


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Darla’s Discovers – Feeing a Little Blue on April 5th, 2018

Actually, that title is misleading. I want to talk about… blueberries!

Our local grocery store recently marked down a box of the juicy, cobalt delights. And I, knowing they freeze beautifully (forgive the obscure “Steel Magnolias” quote), snatched them up.

However, when I got them home and rinsed these beauties, something rather unsavory happened on my tongue. It turned out that the spent bloom was not cleaned off the berries, making for a dry and rather dusty finish to the fruit.

See Those Pesky Tufts? They are Easy to Pluck Away
Not to worry! It only took about ten minutes to pluck the dried flower remnants. So be aware but don’t despair! These are delicious in plain yogurt.
Some Neared Half the Size of the Berry - Not Good Eats
Do you like blueberries? If not, I suppose you haven’t read this far. ~grin~ Be well!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Confession and a Snippet

Okay, I have to confess that there does not seem to be a novel in this writer’s brain. Embarking on writing challenges, I’ve learned to embrace that reality and started this April’s Camp NaNo planning to rewrite the end to a story.

Yesterday, day three, I made the decision to shelve plan A and let the idea percolate. What to write now? Reviewing an old, unpolished manuscript turned out to be more time consuming than hoped and that plot is lost in the mists of time. So, why not write from the seat of my pants as usual?

I set up a new story with my character having gotten bad news. If interested, you can read the opening below. The scene evolves into sex, because that never fails to calm her down. ~grin~ This is PG rated, however, and I hope you enjoy if you have the time.

A funny thing is that, over a thousand words into this, I still don’t know what upset her. The fact he wants to talk about it upon waking tells me it was something big. That is all.

Maybe she learned her father is remarrying after a whirlwind romance. What do you think?


“You don’t know what you’re doing,” he said, smirking.

I wanted to wipe that look off Nickolas’ face, and not in a good way. Standing straight, I crossed both arms beneath my breasts. The corners of his lips drew up into a lascivious smile as he watched the mild show my gesture provoked.

“Eyes up here, jerk,” I ordered, and pointed at my face, then the exposed wires sticking out a hole low in the wall. “Anyway, you don’t know any more about this stuff than me. Do you?”

“No,” he admitted.

“So what do you propose?”

“Call the front desk.”

“But then they’ll know I ripped the phone cord out of the wall.”

“Oh, please. Rock bands throughout history have done way worse to motel rooms.”

“But I’m not a rock star. I’m just your photographer.”

“And a very fine one,” Nickolas praised, grabbing me in a hug.


Have a great day!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Worm-Ageddon and Words

Today for my Camp NaNo challenge I decided to leave off what I wrote the last two days. Those words beefed up “Obedience Training” but didn’t provide a proper ending, so it’s time to let that percolate in my brain and maybe work on another tale.

However, when I took a look at a later story, I discovered its plot lost in the mists of time. And reading the over (!) long document, even skimming, would take more time than I care to spend right now. So, I decided to just wing it, and went onto our back patio with my laptop to avoid interruption.

What I found is something pretty sad and disgusting. Worms have crawled onto the concrete to avoid drowning. Between that niggling mental distraction and the fact SO called my cell phone already anyway, plus the fact the temperature is a bit too low with these wet conditions, I decided to share my situation here and perhaps just go inside.

Realizing I didn't know if worms are considered animals or insects, I labelled this post as both to be on the safe side. While I could search the information online, of course I would rather write. ~grin~ Hope you're warm and dry.

What would you label worms?

Ah, Memories... (One Beautiful Day in March)

Monday, April 2, 2018

Positive Sparks Monday April 2nd, 2018 - A Musical Quote

To quote Annie of McGuffy’s Reader, the bright spirited blog where she created Sparks Mondays, “I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. Together, we can light up the entire world!”

First I must share my terrible quip about the leg amputation our friend’s father endured. He is a chatty fellow, our pal Phoenix. When SO told me how well the prosthetic fitting went for his dad, I said, “Phoenix literally talked off someone’s leg!”

Divorce proceedings have yet to begin. ~grin~ Meanwhile, our friend arrived with a big hug for me and promise he would tell his father what I said. And that leads to today’s positive spark. You see, our buddy is mechanically inclined in a way far surpassing what SO or I would attempt. Therefore I asked for help fortifying my busted and fallen metallic wind spinner. Thus you have:

See the Fortifying Wooden Stake? Thanks for the Suggestion, Phoenix
It felt good to take out a power sander, making me think of Pam of Life Through My Eyes. Meanwhile, I’ve since embarked upon a 1,667 daily fiction word journey with Camp NaNo, so I’m back to the more cerebral pursuits. Forgive me if I’m not as present this month.

Do you suffer high winds where you live?


Sunday, April 1, 2018

Duh Moment & Epiphany

Starting today, I am embarking on the Camp NaNo month long writing challenge. My goal is to write 1,667 words a day.

During these challenges, I like to use Scrivener writing software because it keeps a word count at the bottom of the screen. It also allows me to break down the project into days. In past years I went through the painstaking process of naming each day’s file, one through thirty.

Only on Friday before typing this did I realize my foolish error. All I need do is create the first file and call it ‘Day’. Then when I duplicate it, Scrivener automatically names the next ‘Day-1’.

~slaps forehead~

Upon reaching ‘Day-29’, I simply renamed ‘Day’ followed by the ‘-30’ suffix and dragged it into the correct position within the project. Ah, well, another lesson learned.

Simple, No?

That said and done, I also read again my thirteenth “BloodMoon” short story. The ending struck me as having too much exposition. That tale is also around three thousand words shorter than most of the others, plus I discovered a neat little plot twist missed in past reads.

My work fun is about to begin as I rewrite the entire ending. What will stay are the last two lines of dialog, which I like just as they are.
This is About to Change...
Do you tend to sabotage your own efforts and work harder than necessary?

Good grief! How did Easter sneak up so fast? Happy Easter and Passover to all who celebrate!