Category Archives: Arbitrary Thoughts

Broken Bones

I’ve been lucky through my life in the fact that I have never had a broken bone. When I was young I crashed my bicycle on “suicide hill” and only bashed my head up a little. In my early driving career I was in a head-on collision, and a horrific motorcycle accident walking away from both just a bit banged up. I’ve fallen down stairs, ski hills, bike paths, and all the normal places you can crash. My mother always yelled at me to slow down, “You’ll break a leg!”

broken-leg-cartoon

A few weeks ago my luck ran out. I was skiing with my family and didn’t quite get in the chairlift, and was promptly thrown out landing with my full weight on my hand. Even though I never experienced a broken bone before (I’ve had several sprains) I knew immediately that I had broken my wrist. The pain was quite incredible and I could guess a knife stabbed into my arm might hurt a little worse (but I don’t want to find out if that’s true or not).

After a ride off the mountain on a rescue sled, a couple hours in the ski patrol shack*, and then down to the ER near home, I found myself in a splint and no use of my left hand (I’m right-handed so that is one good thing that came out of it). Until now, I never realized how many simple activities required two hands. Putting on socks, tying a shoe, pulling on pants, buttoning a shirt, styling hair, or cutting food for a meal. As the days went by I found more and more things I struggled with. The challenge of shuffling through papers was made worse by my inability to stack them back into a neat pile and refile them.

I’m thankful that broken bones heal pretty fast. I have regained dexterity in my fingers, and have gone from a plaster splint (sorry no pictures of that behemoth!),

to a beautiful purple fiberglass cast,

purple-cast

and now a removable cast complete with a zipper.

removeable-cast

 

 

 

 

My challenge to shower and dress myself has become easier.

My take away from this is that I have a strong appreciation for the challenges faced by people who permanently do not have the use of one hand. I have been introduced to the frustrations that continue every day for them. I salute them and their resolve to get through the minor things in life, that become major, with the use of only one hand.

————————

*I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to the Loveland Ski Patrol. What a wonderful group of volunteers.  Within minutes I was surrounded by carrying and concerned people. My ride down the mountain was smooth,and my stay in the ski patrol shack was actually, kind of fun! THANK YOU for taking such good care of me!!

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Dragon Naturally Speaking

I just bought the software, and thought it would be rather fun to try and do a single blog post without editing without doing anything that that Dragon Naturally Speaking can’t do. So here it is, a single stream of consciousness type of post without using the keyboard. As you read this remember that I’m not using the keyboard I am not making any corrections in my editing so therefore this post will be a little clumsy.

I just got the software yesterday. Install it on my computer. And found it didn’t work. Way? Okay that word that last word was supposed to be “really”. While actually the software did work, it was just my headset. So once I got my regular headset one that actually works, the software kicked into action. My first attempt was to post something on Facebook, doesn’t that just figure? Doesn’t everyone post on Facebook first when they’re trying something new? Pretty simple stuff. I was able to do a post with a little bit of help from my keyboard.

So this is my next test on the software. So far, making this post has worked out quite well. Most of the words I have spoken have come out correctly without with the exception of “the word above” really”. Okay too many quotes. I haven’t quite figured out how to backspace and delete yet so I will work on that one. Back to the subject at hand. It really does pick up the voice quite well, as you can see there have only been a couple of mistakes in this post I’m quite happy with it.

What I find the hardest is when I see mistakes and have to backup or erase or delete or whatever I have not quite figured out how to do that yet. Also being sure that I have all of my punctuation in their quick correctly has not worked perfectly either. Trying to think of what I’m going to say, plus adding punctuation has challenged my brain a little bit.

I will continue to use and learn this program, and work to improve my dictation skills. I find the more clearly I speak, and the more precise my enunciation is, the better the software works. if you are considering purchasing a speech to text type of software I find that this one seems to work extremely well. Although, I don’t have a lot of experience or comparisons to this software. I feel pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a software that does seem to truly know what you’re saying.

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What? Really?

In our house, Easter is a little bit of a non-holiday. I don’t think either of my kids have been to an Easter service. For myself, it has been many, many years. We do have Easter baskets and the Easter Bunny gets a bit of candy and other goodies into them, but beyond that…not much.

My son, who is eighteen and getting ready to move out, asked me today, “What is Easter?”

I replied, “For some it is a celebration of spring, rebirth, and things new. For Christians it is a celebration of Christ’s rebirth. They believe that after Christ died on the cross, God came down and gave him the gift of being reborn.”

With a far off look in his eyes and his facial features revealing nothing, he said, “So he died and then came back to life?” I nodded. “So that means he was a zombie then. I mean, really! Isn’t that what zombies do? They die and come back to life, right? So instead of this being Easter, it’s actually National Zombie Day.”

A brilliant mind thinks of the oddest things.

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85

I’ve always been curious how many books I read in a year and in 2015 it was 85. I was surprised by the number (I actually thought I had read more than this) so I had to go over the previous years as well.

  • 2014 it was 65 books,
  • 2013 I read 56, and in
  • 2012 it was 53, then in
  • 2011 60, but
  • 2010 was the year I bought my Kindle and the end to paper books so only 2 books were read (according to my Kindle, not my library).

319 books in 5 years makes an average reading of 63.8 books per year, 5.3 per month or just over one book per week.

Of all the books I have read here are a few of my favorites (not in any particular order):

  • Scorpio Races
  • Wool (The entire Silo series was excellent but I liked Wool the best), by Hugh Howey
  • Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldon
  • Stephanie Plum series (its good for a giggle so I added it to this list) by Janet Evanovich
  • Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Hunger Games trilogy (these are the best when all three books are read), by Suzanne Collins
  • Divergent trilogy, by Veronica Roth
  • The Uglies series, by Scott Westerfield
  • Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfield
  • Ready Player one, by Earnest Cline
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell (I have to admit I loved this book but I never finished it. It hurt my brain too much.)
  • Lunar Chronicles, by Marissa Meyer
  • Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, By Neil Gaiman
  • Lamb, by Christopher Moore
  • The Hundred Year House, by Rebecca Makkai
  • The Magicians series, by Lev Grossman
  • The Paper Magician series, by Charlie N. Holmberg
  • Once Upon a Heist, by Ashley Hodges Bazer ( I have to thank Ashley for adding this much needed humor during a time when I needed it the most).

I have enjoyed reading all 319 books and I think there was only one that was written so poorly I had to stop. I deleted it from my Kindle so it wasn’t counted.

Some of you might think I consume books, while some may read more than I, but no matter how much or how little you read, it is the fact that you are reading at all that makes the difference.

Do you have any favorites? Please add them to the list below.

 

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Flash Fiction

I love discovering new things and I recently was introduced to a style of writing called Flash Fiction. I had heard of this genre in the past, but never gave it much thought. A writing friend of mine shared a piece by Erica Satifka called, Real Plastic Trees that I had to share with you. A taste of the story is below and you can finish reading it at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

ENJOY!

Real Plastic Trees by Erica Satifka

Bam. Bam. Bam. I throw on my tattered blue bathrobe and hobble to the door. “Hold your horses, I’m coming.”

It’s the New Woman across the hall. Julie, she calls herself. She gets nervous if she doesn’t check in on me at least every other day, and I don’t blame her. I’m an old, old woman now. “How are you feeling today, Mrs. Delacorte?”

I sigh. “Can’t complain. Want to come in for some coffee?”

Of course she does. Julie’s kind can get nutrients from anything on this ruined Technicolor world of ours, but when given the option, they’ll always pick traditional food over Styrofoam and concrete. They’re bred that way, both to fit in with real humans and to, in some way, continue our legacy.

Earth’s dead. The neon crazy-quilt of the atmosphere sees to that. If you’re staying here, you’d better be okay with living behind a six-inch layer of reinforced glass. It’s no wonder that so many humans choose to emigrate to the extee colonies, even with all the hardships involved.

Read the rest at: Fantastic Stories of the Imagination

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The Yampa*

The wagon train had left her station hours ago. She had worked through the rest of the day cleaning the horse dung and the human stench from the walls. Once a month they came through, sometimes twice in a month, and Margo never got used to it. The humans had a smell about them that reminded her of the dead rats she found in the barn sometimes.

Satisfied, she went back upstairs then out the window to sit on the roof. This is where she spent most of her time staring into the sky wishing for home. In the years spent in the southern hemisphere she could see her home cluster in the night sky, but here in the north she could only see the local sun. Only ten more years and she could go back south. Ten more years of being in this dust bowl serving the wagon trains that kept pushing to the west carrying those petty humans into the frontier.

Stirring out of her own mind she turned to go back inside. Mid-stride Margo met the blunt end of a shotgun in the gut. “Hello Margo. Been a long time wouldn’t you say?”

“Kate. What in tarnation are you doing here? How did you find me?”

“You are a slippery one Margo. I’ve been hunting you for the past couple of centuries. I have to admit you found yourself one hell of a place to hide. How did you find this dump anyway?”

Pushing past her, Margo went back through the window. “Believe it or not, I crashed here. Been stranded for at least a couple hundred years.”

“Come on Margo. You can’t expect me to believe that you, our top pilot, crashed on this rock. You’ll need a better excuse than that.”

“You know me Kate. Weird shit happens.”

“Weird shit my ass. Is that your excuse for the string of dead bodies you left all over the home cluster? Is that your excuse for decimating Corkerelle? Give me a break.”

Margo couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “You have no idea do you Kate? You have spent all this time looking for me and never stopped to wonder if it was really me? Wake up Kate. Look around you. What do you see?”

“What are you talking about Margo?”

“I’ve been here for eons watching these humans scrape across their globe. They drag their sorry souls over the land and darken every corner of it. Right now, they drive their wagon trains out west in a thirst for riches and in their wake; they leave only a stench and rot. Did you smell the trash heap on your way in? Did you see what they do? Doesn’t it look even a little familiar? How long ago did Corkerelle happen? Think about it Kate, could I, one solitary being really destroy an entire planet? Think back, Kate. Remember what it smelled like?”

The shotgun began to weigh more than Kate remembered when she first pointed it at Margo. “They came here, didn’t they? They came here to do it all over again didn’t they?”

“Oh, they’ll try alright, but there will be bloody hell to pay before they can cross the Yampa.”

*****

They had celebrated that night once they arrived at the edge of the Yampa. It had been a long trek across the eastern plains and everyone was ready for fresh water and time to dance. They had made it. Living to see the Yampa River was all they had prayed for and here they were. Smiles were served all around and the music played late into the night.

The warmth of the rising sun pushed the gentle breeze through the camp. The air licked at the canvas capes that draped each wagon ruffling the bare threads. The horses had long left the area along with the cattle. A few stray dogs were all that remained behind. Silence filled the morning breeze. The celebrations from the night before were just echoes fading into the distance. Crawling out of the red masses, the tiny machines had done their job and marched back toward the water. The next wagon train was due in just a week and they needed time to recharge.

*The Yampa originally appeared on the blog: KJ Scrim, Writer and is used here with permission from the author.

© KJ Scrim 2015 – All rights reserved – No part of this story may be used or reproduced, graphic, electronic,or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or my any information storage retrieval system without written permission from the Author.

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The Distracted Life

Do you lead a distracted life? You know, that’s when you bounce around like a ping pong ball in small room? You are hyper focused? Well, that’s awesome. If you are hyper focused let me take you on a quick tour of the distracted mind and you will see how lucky you are to be able to sit for hours on end working on a single project without interruption.

I was heading up for a shower. Stopping in the bedroom I dug into my dresser for the clothes I’d be wearing. My husband wandered in asking me to repair a hand brace for him. No worries, I could take care of that right after my shower. Heading into the bathroom I got the heater set up and realized I had left my leg warmers in the laundry room. I have raynauds in both legs so keeping them warm is essential to a pain free life.

The leg warmers were dry and hanging next to the dryer which was close enough to being done so I emptied the dryer, folded the clothes and loaded the next batch of wet things. I left the laundry and on my way past the perpetual calendar I remembered that there had been updates to my work schedule and with the busy holiday season looming in the next couple of weeks I better get that on the calendar. Oh, and my son’s school schedule needs to get on there too.

Next my digital calendar needed to be updated when I realized that there were some conflicts so I went back and changed the perpetual calendar.  Back at my computer my digital calendar was updated, but I noticed no one had replied to my request for coverage at work for this week. I have to have two lumps biopsied tomorrow (yes, this lingers on my mind from my last post on breast lumps). Sitting back down I shoot off several emails nudging people out in the greeting card world that I have three stores that need coverage, who can help?

Another few things have been checked off my list so I head upstairs to take my shower. Back in the bathroom I realize that my leg warmers are still down in the laundry room. Back downstairs, into the laundry room there they sit neatly folded on top of the dryer. Then back upstairs into the warmth of a shower. My progress, such as it is, winds through my mind when I get hit with, “What if it’s cancer?” and I proceed to have a good five minutes of crying while standing in a steamy stream of water.

Stepping out of the shower I find there is a little bit of dirt left in the bottom of the tub from when my daughter had a soak last night. Grabbing a paper towel I try to wipe it out, but it seems I’ll need water. Nope. Need something stronger. In my towel I climb into the over-sized tub and scrub the bottom of the tub then get clean water to rinse to scouring powder off. Back out of the tub and dried and dressed I realize that my venture to take a shower took nearly two hours.

It is exhausting to have a distracted mind and if I had a penny for every added hour of time spent bouncing from one side of the room to another I would have a very large sum of money. Quite possibly I could afford therapy for my crazy way of getting through the day. Now, where’s the needle and thread? I’ve gotta get this hand brace repaired.

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Dread in the Dark

It was three in the morning as I lay in bed staring at the dark ceiling. It is a regular routine for me to  be awake at that ridiculous hour. I followed my usual habit of laying there staring at the ceiling for about twenty minutes then getting up and wandering through the quiet house, eating some yogurt or a granola bar. Then head back up, taking an herb my husband keeps on hand to relax the mind, and fall back into bed hoping for sleep.

This particular night was the same. Nothing new. Nothing different. I was just laying there listening to the creek drifting out of my sound machine next to the bed. Then I felt it. It was a small pain that ran in my left chest and I reached with my right hand to give it a rub. You know how a  quick massage can chase away those little mysterious pains that invade our bodies? That’s what this was. Just a mysterious little twinge.

There it was. I felt it. The dreaded lump. The one every woman quietly worries over throughout her life. Like Mount Everest it seemed to leap from my breast in its vastness. My breathing stopped. I’m sure my eyes must have dilated and I honestly think my heart leaped into the next room. Then something kicked in upstairs and I fell into a full blown state of panic. Within thirty seconds I had run the gamut of dying tomorrow to the whole thing being a cruel trick of my imagination. Quickly I did a double, then triple, then quadruple check. Yep. It’s there. Bigger than life, or possibly even death itself, a lump. I was panting. My heart thrummed in my ears while my body vibrated with out of control nerves.

As the horrific scenarios rolled through my mind an idea formed on the outskirts of the disaster.  I needed information and I needed it now. It was four ante meridiem, and the doctor’s office wouldn’t open for several more hours. For once in my life I was thankful for the internet. I have heard that it is the worst place to go for information about medical issues, but this was one instance I didn’t care. I combed websites for any little clue as to what I had and after nearly three hours I came away feeling a little less panicked. The reel of my life stopped running in fast forward. I could postpone calling an ambulance and wait the hour left to call my doctor for an appointment.

I did get in to see my doc and he is quite sure it is a cyst that has accumulated fluid around it (thus the size of Mt. Everest). He is in the ninetieth percentile of surety. It is that last ten percent that keeps me on edge. I am constantly tempted to get back on my computer to learn about that other ten percent, but I have resisted the urge. The internet contains vast amounts of information on everything related to breasts whether they hang from a woman or a man. There are hundreds of thousands of links that are filled with the good, the bad, and the misinformed. Since I found “Mt. Everest” three days ago I have mostly ignored the internet. It is just too much information. I am working to stay on the normal side of insanity. I have tests coming up soon that will give me the answers that I need. Until then, I have resolved not to let this sap my life away. Why let it? If I fall into the category with cancer then I will do what I have done all my life…cross that bridge if I come to it.

 

*Post publication note: As it turns out this was breast cancer. You can read my story under the cancer tab.

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Take Me to Church

For many years I have been exclusively listening to KBCO radio. I started to tune in when the station was just a babe, and I was pretty wet behind the ears. I have listened in for so long because they are one of the most dependable stations around. The music is a wonderful mix of new rock, old rock, and all around good rock. Although they play more classic rock, they aren’t stuck in the past. I love hearing the new stuff too and KBCO does not disappoint.

Recently I began questioning their choice of music when they started airing, “Take Me to Church” (written and performed by Andrew Hozier-Byrne).  Before I continue with this post my readers might want to understand that I am the kind of listener who loves music with a good, upbeat feel. Damn the lyrics. More times than not, I really don’t know all the words to a song.

The first few times I heard “Take Me to Church” my reaction was, “Christian Rock.  Why is KBCO playing Christian Rock? Are they moving toward a new format in the music program?” Don’t get me wrong. I like Christian Rock. It is an upbeat genre that brings a positive outlook into our sometimes dreary world. Yet, KBCO is not the venue for Christian Rock any more than it is for Country Twang.

Jumping onto my favorite search engine I found the lyrics to this piece of music.  Holy church songs, Bat Man! This is not Christian Rock! Quite the opposite, it is closer to Pagan Rock (is there such a thing?) and spending Sundays rapt in the arms of a sensual woman.

I had planned this post to be a scathing criticism of KBCO and its choice to play a piece of music that is blatantly Christian. Lo and behold I am now congratulating KBCO for their continued success in their choice of good music. Take Me to Church is a great example of the versatility of music choices that can be heard at 97.3FM. Rock on!!

 

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Because you Need Some Finnish

Epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkäänköhän

Finnish for:  questionable this thing being doubtful its non-unsytematization.
~~From Mental Floss

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