Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Hodge Podge of Photos


Two months have flown by without any blog posts.  My June was filled with preparing for a 50th birthday party for my husband, saying good-bye to my grandparents, having new flooring installed, and prepping for our 4th of July party.  July has been laid back with a lot of just hanging out at the house.  I have also worked on editing book three.  My daughter and I did go on one adventure.  After taking a few pictures, I realize I haven't shared any of the pictures I have taken spontaneously.  Here they are.
One night in the backyard, I saw this balloon off in the distance.  I have always loved in the summer watching the balloons while driving on the Rims in Billings, Montana on my way to drill.  Attending a balloon festival is on my bucket list.

I loved how this picture captured the heart of my bleeding heart.

I love watching the mountains grow taller as I drive towards them on the Helmview road.

Here is another shot of the mountains and the road I drive at least twice a year.

Every year, the flowers on my chives delight me.  They are so beautiful.

I planted this current bush just last year.  I am excited for them to grow another four feet or more.  They should attract the birds for me to watch in the fall.

My delphinium.

I was delighted when I saw elk on the side of the highway to Libby and there was a turnoff for me to stop and take pictures.

More elk.


My iris was beautiful this year.

I so love my little Leo.

I love to imagine the hopes and dreams of a family when they build a home.  I image a rich history of love and the sound of small feet running along the floors.  I feel sadness at the abandon houses.  For some reason, they call out to me.  I wonder what their stories would say to me.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Miscon 31


Over the long Memorial weekend, the family and I attended Miscon 31.  We have tried to do this every year, but due to a lot of issues, this year was only our third time.  Jerry and Madelle have quite a bit of fun.  They spend the weekend relaxing and playing games.  The two of them get some good father, daughter time.  This year Jerry's brother joined them on Sunday afternoon.

So, what is Miscon?  Missoula Comic Convention is a long weekend of art, role playing games, regular games, art, writing, film, costuming, and strange happenings in the genres of fantasy and science-fiction with the subgenres also represented.  In other words, the weekend is for all of those with a geek side.  The first year I felt completely outside my comfort zone.  Now, I just feel awkward being around a bunch of people I don't know.

While Madelle and Jerry entertain themselves, I go to writing panels.  This year's honored guest was David Farland.  I have followed his blog for quite a few years.  Someday, I will attend one of his week long classes.  I sat in on a number of his talks and other fantasy, steampunk, and science-fiction writers.  Because of following him and a few others, I am finding the general information at the convention are things I have heard in the writing arena.  I also branched out a bit.  I did learn a few tidbits and came to a discovery.

The workshop for marketing left me feeling extremely lacking.  They, of course, talked about networking.  I hate networking.  I am supposed to go to these things and meet people.  Instead, I go to panels, sit off to the side, and take breaks writing or reading in either my room or at a table by myself.  I won't tell my husband yet, but I might try a game next year.  MIGHT!  I also thought more about platforms and joining a Toastmasters group.  Right, with all that free time I have.  We will see.

Writing about faeries also got me to thinking.  One panelist is an expert in all types of faeries from around the world.  A few of the writers talked about knowing how to write well about the way they have been represented in the tales from olden days.  Sure, a writer can do something new, but know the original enough to know why you are changing them.  Explain the change in your story in how people in the past have been wrong all these years or the race has evolved.  I might have stuck with the Twilight series longer if the sparkling vampires would have been explained.

I attended a panel about art being sold.  All the speakers worked in the field of sewing, forging, painting, and glass blowing.  They all attend different events and shows to sell their products.  I have played with the idea of selling my books at Farmer's Markets and the like, but I don't have enough of a variety of my books.  I have thought of also selling my photography.  Unfortunately, I get all nervous about putting myself out there.  I was amazed by one man's advice.  As he said, most of us are introverts.  This can cause problems selling and promoting ourselves.  He said to have a project to work on while you sell.  This gives you and your customer somewhere to start the conversation.  He takes his leatherwork.  The rest of the speakers agreed.  I like the idea, but I can't write, read, or snap pictures while in a booth selling product.

Marketing, networking, selling, promoting, and faeries floated around in my head all weekend.  All the information spoke to me, but I had to figure out what it was saying and what I needed to do.  Saturday night I googled Norwegian crafts.  I found beautifully designed Saami (people from far Northern Scandinavia) bracelets, hardanger, rosemaling, and wood chipping.  Sunday, after talking about faeries, I came up with a plan.  I am going to work the majority of my writing in the culture and mythology of Scandinavia, primarily Norway.  My first series is about trolls with food and terms spicing the writing that all derive from the land of Icordia.  Mjod is one of my favorite drinks, mead.  Bestemor means grandmother and my own grandfather called his grandmother by this endearment. 

Monday I ordered a book on how to make the Saami bracelets.  I can sell these along with my books and photos.  Best of all, I can create them while working with customers.  I want to try my hand at the other crafts as time goes by, mainly for writing purposes unless I get good at the work.  Of course, I believe it is time to start making more Scandinavian foods.  I have also looked for a place to buy the old dresses.  I might have to talk a friend into helping me with that project.

All in all, I am happy with the direction I want to work.  While still raising a teenager, I believe all of this will take quite a lot of time, but I am okay with that for the moment.  Soon enough, I will have all the time in the world.  So, stay tuned for new happening in the life and times of Lisa Nixon Richard barnebarn (granddaughter) to Alton Everett Hedahl, miss you Farfar (Grandfather.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Greg Gianforte


I have never been one to promote violence.  I believe if you have reasonable people you are working with, discussion will fix a situation.  However, the world contains unreasonable people who don't know when to stop.  They don't know how to be respectful.  Sometimes a good fight needs to take place. 

This morning I woke up to the news.  Greg Gianforte body slammed a reporter and punched him a couple of times.  I groaned.  What was I going to do when I enter the Fair Grounds exhibit building  and was handed a ballet.  Yes, I am republican.  Yes, I believe in my rights to bare arms.  Yes, I am retired military.  And yes, I don't believe in sanctuary cities. 

I read one report that was slanted to the left.  I read another report that was slanted to the right.  Neither told me what the question was that the reporter asked Greg.  I scrolled through Facebook.  My conservative friends continue to support Greg and my liberal friends are appalled.  No change there.  I really thought knowing the question the reporter asked would be my deciding factor of making up my mind about how to vote, either for Greg or for Donald Duck.  Writing that, I realize Donald Duck would have body slammed the reporter as well, but I digress. 

The reporter asked a valid question about health care and the budget.  I found this out through Fox News.  I had also read an MSN report and another one that I don't recall from what source.  However, I couldn't ignore the fact that the reporter went into the office without asking or waiting to be invited.  Greg asked him to leave and asked him to see one of his staff members.  The reporter ignored Greg's request to leave the situation.

In April, my daughter had a similar episode happen at school.  The social studies class was divided into groups of four to debate in teams of two about the dropping of the bombs in Japan during WWII.  Madelle was on the side for dropping.  The girl arguing against Madelle had verbally been mean to Madelle in the past.  During the debate, this girl went off about how Madelle is the type to want to kill thousands of people.  Then she went off about how Madelle was a Trump supporter so no wonder why Madelle was so horrible.  One, this had nothing of relevance to the debate.  Two, this girl did not attack Madelle's partner, just Madelle.  This girl singled out Madelle to bully.  Yes, I believe it was a form of verbal bullying.  Madelle told her to shut up.  The girl responded, "make me."  Being fed up, Madelle got out of her seat and tapped the girl on the face.  The girl told the teacher after class that Madelle slapped her. 

Now, in both instances, Greg and Madelle had run-ins with the same organization / person on previous dates.  Obviously, these entities jumped on their last nerve.  Should Greg and Madelle lashed out?  No, there was a better way to handle the situation.  Greg should have called security.  Madelle should have walked away from the situation.  Greg has been charged.  Madelle was given a day of in school suspension.  However, I also believe the reporter and the girl were also wrong.  If someone asks you to leave or stop talking, well, maybe they should be respectful and back off.  These people insist on running at the mouth.  I doubt anything will happen to the reporter.  In fact, he will get tons of hits on his twitter and all that crap.  The girl was talked to.  I am sure that will be effective, not.  However, they may stop and think first when they start to cross the line of politeness.  I can hope.

Both my daughter and Greg made a mistake.  Neither should have their school or political careers destroyed for their actions.  Besides, I like that there are still people out there who will stand up for themselves.  I am also happy to know that there are still people that may still stand up to ISIS and the other wrongs of our world.  Not all action is the right action, but it is action.  And besides, a good fist fight with a bully can go a long way in righting wrongs.  I have been known to get into a couple myself back in my younger days.  But that may be a story for another day.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Beatings


As artists, I don't believe in beating ourselves up. I believe in being
gentle with ourselves. 
Julia Cameron, Facebook, May 16, 2017
        Today when I read my daily affirmations, I hoped for a tidbit of encouragement.  Considering I hadn't read them for six days, I thought surely one would be of help.  Nope.  However, when I checked into Facebook, Julia gave me words to ponder.  She is a writer who helps artists to become unblocked.  She taught me about morning pages and artist dates.  She helped me to become unblocked about eight years ago.  She is fantastic.

Her words are definitely what I need to hear.  I believe them wholeheartedly.  I am just not sure how to apply them.  For the past two months, I have been trying to get back to my writing after my trip to England.  Unfortunately, in all that time, my life has been ripe with a lot of drama.  My daughter's mental illness has skyrocketed.  We had a huge financial scare that will be lingering for the next couple of years.  To prep for that possibility, we are stepping up our house projects that need to be finished.  I have been beating myself up in all of these areas and extremely stressed.  Needless to say, I have nothing left over for my writing.

Each morning, I come to the computer.  I work my morning pages.  I read through the writing blogs I follow if I have the brain power.  I contemplate my work.  Then I promptly runaway from it by doing housework, gardening, or working with my daughter. 

Now, I would think that my house, yard, and projects would be progressing beautifully.  Nope!  I am still working all the projects.  Nothing is finished.  As soon as I get close, I am pulled in another directions for a variety of reasons.  I am tired.  I am frustrated.  I am discouraged.  Yes, I am depressed and angry.

As I stated in the last two blogs, I work my list.  I continue to pray.  This morning I was a bit lost, so I worked my daily tasks of housework that I usually ignore until the last minute.  I worked on the budget which never is the way I want it.  I folded laundry and actually cleaned out the top section of my armoire.  My pile of things to take to the Good Samaritan is growing! 

Once I upload this little blog post, I will do some reading.  This afternoon I hope to plod along in the gardens.  I need to find a place for my cucumbers, pumpkins, and gourds.  I think I will put them in my steampunk garden because I won't be able to get to the retaining wall until this fall or next year.  I also need to mow the backyard and move even more manure.  I am so thankful God has given me the drive to garden and have too many projects to accomplish in a lifetime.  They really help me keep busy when my life feels in shambles.

Friday, May 5, 2017

To Do List


DEPRESSION to do LIST

1.            Read, read, read:  Stephen King is a proponent of this.  So I have a ton of books I want to read.  Here is my list for 2017. 

Patrick, Wizard at Large, Robert Heinlein, Flannery O'Connor, Madame Bovary, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and, a writing book or two!!!

2.            Go ahead - polish the silverware:  Housework and decluttering are on my list.  If my muse is crying, I can let her mourn and throw a fit.  I will clean and get the house back in order.

3.            Garden:  Re-do the wood chips.  Dad's Garden.  The Steam Punk garden.  The Water Heater (paint it for yard art) and side garage garden. 

4.            I might also work on getting my scrapbooking stuff organized to get to work on 2010 and 2016 and England.  I started work on the headboard; I need to get the tools to finish stripping the piece.  The pantry.

5.            Change the scenery and walk:  I am going to lump these together.  I want to walk Lake Helena and both mountains more often this year.  I still need to see some more ghost towns.  Madelle said she wants to go to Garnet.

6.            Research, Study:  This is my own point.  Short Stories, a book or two.

7.            Listen to music: and sing loud.

8.            Play with Leo.

9.            Take a fun outing:  Places to go this summer: Daly museum, Clark Museum, MT Historical Society, Garnet, Bannack, and the Battle of the Big Hole.

10.          Photography:  Lanterns and Lamp Posts!!!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Depression


Stress pounded down on me for a solid two weeks in the month of April.  With the stress, frustration and depression followed in the stress's wake.  I was left in a state of only wanting to read or watch television.  I allowed myself to do just that for a day.  As time continued on, I picked an art project to work on and began my morning journal after taking a few days off.

I worked my depression to do list.  Yep, I do have a list.  However, before I even hit the list, I allow myself to stop all of the items on my regular daily tasks.  That's right, I quite working on editing, publishing, and writing.  I give myself a break.  I took mental health days.  Once those passed, I slowly added fun things into my life.  What is on my list?  Music, reading (granted I never stop reading, but I add more types of things to read), paint, scrapbook, garden, get out and about, clean house (it is cathartic), and photography.

During this round of the doldrums, I worked on a sign for my steampunk garden.  I believe it turned out really cute.  I am excited to put it in the garden though the garden isn't even ready for plants, let alone a sign!


Gardening has been my other project.  Though during this bout of depression, I have related to Job from the Old Testament.  The only problem is I don't have the patience of Job in the area of gardening.  When I went shopping the other day at Costco, I spontaneously bought some flowers: 8 hostas, 3 bleeding hearts, 5 astibles, and 12 lily of the valley.  All of these plants only live in the shade.  Well, my one and only shade garden is small and can't hold this many plants.  Brilliant!  Not!!!  My steampunk garden will hold all of them, but I still need to get the retaining wall built and decent soil added.  Good grief.  So, what did I do?  I stuffed all but 5 hostas and 2 astibles in the old garden.  These I put in the new garden.  If any of the plants survive, I will have to reorganize next spring.  I do cause a lot of work for myself!

My depression isn't completely gone.  Because of the things that happened in April, life is still difficult.  At least three of my seven days of the week, I feel like a failure, but I am back to procrastinating with cleaning the house.  A sure sign of feeling better.  I worked the steps and feel fairly good again.  I gave myself the rest of April to play before diving back into the editing of my novel.  I have a ton of yard work to do.  I also somehow have to start clearing the garage of all my projects.  I am just too busy!

Today I am having a rough day.  At the beginning of the week, today was a completely free day to work on writing and gardening.  The late afternoon my calendar became busy and this morning I had to add an interruption for midmorning.  I want to curl up on the couch and read or watch television.  Instead, I will listen to music and push through the negativity as I write one word after the other.  In afternoon I will dive into my gardens.  This means the two places I have to go this afternoon I will probably have dirt in my hair, but to hell with it.  I have to get plants moved before the weather is too warm to move them.  I also need to pull weeds before they turn into trees!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

London Lanterns

British Flag and Lantern

Royal Lantern

River Walk Lantern

London Eye Lantern

Flowers and Lantern

Friday, April 28, 2017

Edinburgh


My advice to all people traveling to Scotland is to spend quality and quantity time in this charming country.  After about eight days of running all over England, I missed my normal travel routine of staying four to five nights in one area.  I was in much need of some lazy mornings, afternoons meandering through gardens, time out to write for an hour or two, and some pub time to get to know local people.  The next time I go, I will also do a little bit of studying. 

Besides my JK Rowling's fix, the rest of my time was a hodgepodge of wanderings.  I enjoyed the architecture and signs.




On our full day, we toured the castle.  My favorite spot was the Scottish National Memorial.  My emotions overwhelmed me.  The tribute to all the soldiers and medics brought tears to my eyes.  The stain glass windows and bronze depictions took my breath away.  I thought and prayed about all those lost and those who serve today, including my husband, sons, and friends.  I was very impressed.  (Photos borrowed from the internet due to not being allowed to take pictures.)







I thought of my mom as we strolled through exhibits.  During Mary Queen of Scots' imprisonment by Queen Elizabeth I, Mary spent much of her time embroidering.  They displayed a replica of her work.  Very beautiful.  (Photos borrowed from the internet due to not being allowed to take pictures.)




I also enjoyed the little chapel where St. Margaret worshiped in the castle.  I loved her story that I listened to through the headset.  Of course, I have forgotten it at this point.  I will study her life sometime and return.



Edinburgh is a fascinating city.  I enjoyed the Royal Mile immensely.  One store front advertised excursions out into the countryside.  A sign pointed out literary tours to take.  I also pet an owl.  I believe this was the most beautiful of cities I have visited.  Oh, and I plan to go back and stay at the Witchery in the next fifteen or so years.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

JK Rowling


In Edinburgh, I experienced my third amazing encounter in the area of literature.  My first happened to be in Atlanta with Margaret Mitchell and the second in Missouri with Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This time I traipsed some areas of JK Rowling.  And yes, I am a fan.

The morning of our last full day, I woke up excited.  The itinerary combined two of my favorite things, coffee and literature.  My companions stirred us to Starbucks.  Really?  I went along because we ran early and a body can never have too much coffee.  I did get a small cup because I wanted something better.  I thought the walk would take forever.  Finally, I saw the red exterior with gold lettering of The Elephant House.  My hands shook as I excitedly  walked across the road trying to avoid traffic and take a picture at the same time.  Opps, a little fuzzy.




Walking into the shop, I delighted in the décor of elephants everywhere.  I envisioned myself sitting in the shop and writing for hours.  The young lady led us to the back room.  Windows lined the back wall.  Sunlight streamed into the open space giving a writer plenty of light to work.  The view was breathtaking with the castle and kirkyard off in the distance.  What amazing inspiration.  I wandered the shop snapping a few pictures.  I haven't tasted a better cup of coffee.  Back home, I have been to my coffee shop.  I like the atmosphere, but it can't compete.






After breakfast, we continued down the road.  We found Greyfriars Bobby.  He was a little skye terrier who guarded his master's grave sight for fourteen years.  The little dog has a special place in the city's heart. 






We found the kirkyard!  Yes, I love graveyards.  I love the old ones the best, the beauty of the aging headstones, the peacefulness of sanctified ground, the history.  This cemetery held some fun finds.  JK Rowling wandered the grounds in search of names for her series.  I found McGonagall as soon as I entered. 




As I walked around, I wondered if I would find the name that must not be named.  Though not huge item on the to do list, I really wanted to see the grave, but I didn't have time to look all day.  We planned on seeing the castle.  A worker entered a section of the grounds, so I walked over to him.  A little embarrassed, I asked where to find Thomas Riddell.  With a smile, he pointed through an archway.  As I made a beeline to the section, my sister stopped me.  A van with the name Nixon was just a stone throw away from me.  I was so excited by the graves that I don't think I would have noticed.  I took two pictures and disappeared through the arch.




I marveled at the old stones. 




But I had to hurry.  Up and down the rows I walked.  Names jumped out at me, but not the name I longed to see.  I finally said a prayer.  Yes, probably a silly prayer, but God already knew it was on my heart.  I might as well speak it.  I had one more section to search.  If I didn't find it, I had to leave.  As I turned the corner, I saw the stone.  My search complete after a few photos and I was content. 




The experts say not to set a goal of becoming famous like others in your field.  Goals are to be something I can control.  I can't control that readers will like my books let alone them becoming a pulp classic.  The logical side of myself agrees.  So my goals are to write one or two novels a year to publish.  Once my first series is done I will begin marketing.  I can except that.  However, my ultimate goal is to be JK Rowling.  I don't have to reach that to be successful, but hey, I can dream!