Tag Archives: Christmas

Mind: Boggled.

I was going to title this post “Wait, What…?”, but then I realized I’d already written a post with that title four years ago.  It’s tough when you’ve been blogging for so long that you forget what you’ve written.  But these days I forget what I’ve said ten minutes ago, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

What’s truly surprising is that four years have elapsed since I last wrote “Wait, What…?” Considering the number of things that boggle my mind on a semi-regular basis, you’d think I’d have tried to use that title a lot more often.

F’rinstance, the other day I flipped over to Google and started typing ‘how can…’  My original research question vanished into a mind-boggle when Google helpfully offered the following suggestions:

Really?!?  “How can she slap” is the most pressing question on people’s minds?  What does that even mean?  Slap what?  Or whom?  Is this some new kinky-sex thing?  (I may need to do more research.)

And who knew that the compulsion to sing was so powerful and widespread that people are Googling for relief?  I would have expected questions like “How can I keep my spouse from singing?”; or, more likely, “How can I keep Diane Henders from singing ever again?”; but you know you’re in trouble when you can’t keep yourself from singing.  (Maybe try multi-part harmony with the other voices in your head?)

Then I ran across a helpful site listing “Top Website Mistakes Authors Make”*.  I was reading along and thinking, “Uh-huh, uh-huh, nope, I’m good…” when I came to an item that said “As soon as visitors arrive on your site they should immediately be offered more help and a ‘Click here, get this’ offer.”

And I went, “Wait, what?  No!  If I land on a site that shoves spam and clickbait in my face, I’m GONE!”  But maybe these days everybody wants and expects to have their email addresses extorted out of them in exchange for a few paltry facts of dubious value; and I’m just a cantankerous old dinosaur.  (Okay; the ‘dinosaur’ part isn’t a ‘maybe’.)

And my final “What?!?” for the week occurred when I checked last week’s ‘Santa or Grinch’ poll results.  Well, dang.  I’d been so certain of my (made-up) statistics!  But I wasn’t even close:

Click on the image to see the full results. (You may have to click again on the full results to get a readable size.)

So I guess I’ll just have to keep making up fiction — facts are too hard to fake.

But here’s a fact:  Ready or not, Christmas is only six days away.  So… Merry Christmas if you celebrate it; and Happy December if you don’t.  (We’re almost past the shortest day, so that’s something to celebrate right there.)

I’m taking a blogging break between Christmas and New Year’s, so my next post will be on January 2, 2019.  Meanwhile, I wish you and yours peace, happiness, health, and prosperity; now and in the New Year!

I did this little watercolour a couple of weeks ago: “Christmas at Grandma & Grandpa’s”

* I was researching websites because I’m going to have to update this site to comply with modern technology.  So don’t be surprised if things start to look a little different around here!

Book 14 update:  I’m starting Chapter 39 — Kane just made a BIG decision, and Aydan is trying not to freak out about it.  So many threads in this book!  The final edit might cut some out, but so far I’m just telling the story as it unfolds…

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Unpredictably Predictive

This week I was delighted to discover that computers are now capable of writing stories for us using predictive text. I had already suspected as much, since these days my iPhone can pretty much compose text messages all by itself. If I type “Are…”, it will automatically fill in “…you still coming today?”

This is an unavoidable result of dealing with contractors who are genetically incapable of showing up as promised; and it also proves that my iPhone is at least as smart as they are.

Um… no, I’m not bitter; why do you ask?

Anyhow, back to predictive-text stories: Botnik Studios fed all seven volumes of Harry Potter to their computer, and then turned it loose to write the next great Harry Potter saga.

Amazingly, the computer did create a story that has taken the internet by storm. Not because it’s so good, but because it’s so hilariously bad. Check out “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash”.

Better still, talented artist Megan Nicole Dong couldn’t resist the challenge of illustrating the particularly bizarre bits.

Inspired, I turned to my iPhone. Surely it had the world’s next bestseller locked away in its little electronic brain!

Here is its magnum opus:

I don’t know what to tell you about the other day but we’re not going to get any more time. Officially the best thing to do is to get a new job. Jobless claims are still coming up in a couple of months but I haven’t been able to make any changes to the company.

I forgot to ask you about the foundation of your job and how to make it work. The next time we have to make sure you get the house. The beams are not going to make it any better than the last time I had a chance to look at it and I haven’t done anything for the last week. I want to see what we can do to get the job done.

I admit I was disappointed in its painfully dry prose; but at least the whole composition was more coherent than a lot of business memos I’ve seen.

Moving on from ‘predictive’ to ‘predictable’… Christmas holidays are here again!

And that means I’m going to skip next week’s blog post so I have time to remove a few pounds of dust from Every. Single. Surface. In the house.  Including the Christmas tree, all the Christmas decorations, and the (formerly nicely) wrapped gifts, because the contractors (who were supposed to finish a month ago) exploded Dustpocalypse in our house the day before our houseguests were due to arriveGRRR!!!

*breathes deeply through a dust mask for a few minutes*

Okay, I’m all better now.  Ish.

I’ll also be taking time to prepare some festive calorie-laden goodies for my guests.  With any luck I’ll be able to keep the dusting separate from the cooking; but if not, at least I’ll be serving high fibre (if oddly-flavoured) meals.

Merry Christmas to those who observe it; and whatever your December traditions may be, I wish you joy, comfort, peace, and prosperity.

‘See’ you on January 3, 2018!

 

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A Very Vampire Solstice-mas

Woohoo! We’ve made it past the shortest day! I always feel better when we’re on the upswing and I know I’ll be getting more light every day. (As opposed to ‘getting lighter’, which I definitely won’t be doing unless I stop devouring Christmas goodies.)

The darkness of winter doesn’t bother Hubby, but then again, he’s basically a vampire – he’s just beginning to hit his stride around 10 PM every night.  And he loathes garlic. (I haven’t dared to try holy water on him.)

I’d never make it as a vampire – I love daylight far too much. Though, come to think of it, I burn to a crisp in ten minutes or less when exposed to direct sunshine, so I actually may be part vampire. Hmmm…

Anyway, at least the snow brightens everything up and makes the most of the little daylight we have, and we light up the night as much as we can. This video pretty much describes us for the entire month of December.

Okay, we’re not quite that over-the-top – for one thing, our LED lights just aren’t that bright. But they make up for it with the splendour of quantity, since we can now power all 5000+ bulbs off one 20-amp breaker. And hey, at least the City of Calgary doesn’t have to switch over to nuclear backup when we turn them on.

I realize that solstice, Christmas, and blood-sucking soulless creatures aren’t usually combined in the same post, but this is what happens when I get a massive shortbread overdose. And it’s actually not too much of a stretch when you think about it. I’m sure we’ve all been at an office party where we’ve looked around at our blood-sucking soulless co-workers and shuddered.

And now that I’ve made the mental connection, I just can’t get this thought out of my mind:

vampire christmas

I figure one’s social skills would get pretty rusty if one spent all one’s time locked away from the rest of humanity, absorbed in one’s own nefarious schemes…

Wait, why are you looking at me like that? I’m talking about the vampires, not myself. I swear I’ve never fanged an eggnog carton… Okay, once; but there were mitigating circumstances.

Oh, and here’s another digression (what was in that shortbread?!?): Eggnog makes me laugh.  Yes, it’s full of creamy spicy goodness and, if you’re lucky, enough Christmas spirits to make anyone laugh; but here in Canada all products have to be labelled in both our official languages.  So one side of the carton says ‘Eggnog’ and the other says ‘Lait de poule’, which is the French version.  The literal translation is ‘milk of hen’.  Chicken milk. *giggles childishly*

As you can undoubtedly tell, I need a vacation (or possibly an intervention, but those are harder to arrange). So next week I’m giving myself the gift of some uninterrupted writing time on Book 11 – woohoo all over again! My next post will be on January 6, so I’ll look forward to ‘talking’ to you then.

Meanwhile, Hubby and I would like to send our very best wishes to everyone:

Joy to those who celebrate; comfort to those who mourn; and peace and abundance to all, now and in the New Year.

xmas tree

If you celebrate Christmas, we wish you a very merry one!

* * *

P.S. Another cause for ‘woohoo-ing’: I’ve finally finished my cover updates! Here’s the last one:

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Season’s Greetings!

I finished the final draft of Book 9, SPY HIGH, on Sunday and the first beta reader is already finished – woohoo!  Now I’m looking forward to a week of family, food, and festivities.  Merry Christmas if you celebrate it, and general merriness to you if you don’t!

snowscape

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It’s Like Fishing, But Without The Beer

The Christmas shopping frenzy is upon us, and I’m observing the usual gender division.  The women are out in the malls snagging the perfect gift for everyone.  The men are at home watching TV and telling themselves they have lots of time.

On Christmas Eve the tables will turn, and throngs of empty-eyed men will wander the mall ten minutes before closing, reeking of desperation and despair.

And at midnight outside a convenience store, two men will wrestle over the last pine-scented air freshener because it’s Christmas-tree-shaped and therefore vaguely appropriate as a Christmas gift, and they will ask themselves, “Why do women do this?”

Well, it’s like fishing.

If you’re starving and you have to catch a fish in order to survive, it’s not fun; it’s work.

But if you’re fishing for the fun of it, there’s no greater joy than being out on the lake just tossing in your line.  You might not catch anything; you might catch and release; you might catch a tasty fish you’ll enjoy for supper that evening; or you might catch the biggest Holy-Shit-Look-At-The-Size-Of-That-Mother trophy fish of all time.

It doesn’t really matter.  It’s all about the process.  And the bragging rights.  And your buddies.  And the beer.

Some guys would happily go fishing every day, even though their freezer is full and they’ll probably end up throwing away some of the fish.  Some women would happily go shopping every day, even though their closet is full and the clothes will probably be out of style before they get around to wearing them.

Recreational shopping is extremely similar to the actual process of fishing.  We cruise the mall, dipping into the places where our quarry is most likely to lurk.  But sometimes the shopping gods turn their backs, and there’s nothing worth buying despite our skill and patience (no catch).

Other times, we reel in lovely things that are perfect in every way, but we don’t buy (catch and release).

Sometimes, we choose to take that tasty item home.

And every now and then, we score the most amazing deeply-discounted, absolutely perfect article that will be discussed with awe among our peers forever more.  The great grandmammy of bargains.  The holy grail.

Like fishing, there’s much discussion of the one that got away.  Right size, right price, wrong colour.  Screaming deal, sublime colour, wrong size.  The almost-perfection of the item increases with each telling, inspiring heartfelt commiseration from our buddies.

Here’s where the comparison begins to break down for me, though.  Most women are just as happy in a crowded mall as most guys are out on the lake.  I’m not.  The act of shopping simply isn’t rewarding enough for me to put up with a crowd.  I’ll pay for an item or I’ll engage in a fistfight for the item, but I refuse to do both.  I suspect most guys feel the same.

But that problem could be easily solved.

What malls really need is beer.  A mall-wide liquor permit, so you could wander around with a cold one in your hand.  They could set up beer-and-snack kiosks here and there, and put nice little stands next to the changing rooms so you could put your beer down without fear of spillage when you went in to try on clothes.

With a reward like that, I bet even the guys would shop early and often.

Am I right?

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