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Welcome to Dandelyon's Worlds!

Welcome to my blog
I'll share my creative life
I hope you share too!

I value friendship and good conversation.  I look forward to talking with you all. 

For the 2014 A-Z challenge, I'm doing ficlets in a new fantasy world, featuring catkin and other fantastic beings.  Here is the A-Z prompt list, with links to the posts as I write them. As I write this, I'm still hoping for prompts for many letters of the alphabet.  Thank you in advance for your questions, prompts, and comments!

You can find links to my flash fiction, to my serialized story, Fireborn, and to my poetry and songs over at my new (under construction) website, www.wyld-dandelyon.com.

You can also find some of my fiction, poetry, worldbuilding, and artwork over at www.tornworld.net, along with the fiction, poetry, world-building, and art of my talented co-creators there.

If you miss my old, long-winded landing page, you can find it and the landing pages for various projects by searching on the "landing" tag.

Thank You to everyone who's supported me
with your comments, nominations, and sponsorships!

I look forward to chatting with all of you!
I've been thinking of checking out #FutureChat on twitter for a while now. Today, I was finally at my computer during the chat. I'm sorry to say I was disappointed.

The people seemed interesting enough, but when I tweeted a polite hello and a friendly question about the chat in general, no one responded. I waited a few minutes, then asked if my Tweet had gone through. Still no response. Finally, I tweeted a goodbye. I know that one got through, since someone not actively involved in the conversation favorited it.

The lack of a welcome seemed especially odd since the topic of the day was using social media to reach more readers.

So, much as I'd like to find a new chat now that #sffwrtcht has been retired, I can't recommend #futurechat. That makes me sad.

But today is Friday, so #SciFiChat is happening later, and that will be fun. It always is.


Common Ground

So, I've been thinking about this mass-shooting thing.

There's a few things I think are self-evident, that apparently aren't.

1. I have a lot of friends who own guns, and who have shown me every evidence of being responsible gun owners.
2. I have a lot of friends who do not own guns, who have also shown evidence of being responsible people.
3. I think that all of my friends are good people. In fact, I think most humans are good people.
4. I think demonizing gun owners and demonizing gun non-owners are both bad things.
5. I think we all agree that mass shootings in peacetime are terrible, whether they happen in schools or malls or places of employment or homes or parks or any other place.
6. I think it is morally bankrupt to say, "So, America has more mass shootings than anywhere else in the world, excepting only places actively at war, and I'm OK with that. Let's keep everything exactly the same and watch the killings and their aftermath on the nightly news." (I also think it is morally bankrupt to act like it's OK while saying it's terrible. Doing nothing is, essentially, acting like it's OK.)
7. I do not think any of my friends are morally bankrupt. In specific, I do not think responsible gun owners are morally bankrupt.

Therefore, I believe the gun owners and gun non-owners in this country can find a common moral ground to address this terrible problem.

I know we cannot eliminate all murder or even all mass shootings. But look at the numbers! Mass shootings in this country have gone from rare to commonplace. That is evidence that we, as a society, have screwed up!

Perhaps we need to shift the conversation from "guns" to "violence". What makes a person more likely to be violent? How can we address the things that make a person (whether otherwise mentally healthy or mentally ill) more likely to be violent?

Another thing to look at is responsibility and awareness of consequences. What makes a person able or unable to behave responsibly? What prevents a person from being aware of consequences to his behavior? Maybe more importantly, what makes a person stop caring about consequences?

Empathy is important too--punishment doesn't stop crime, we have more people in jail than ANY other country in the world, and we still have plenty of crime. But a person realizing in the moment that his or her behavior will hurt somebody else, and caring enough to not want to do that--I've seen that stop a lot of people from acting on an angry impulse.

But addressing these basic lifestyle issues is hard--a lot harder than chanting pro- or anti-gun slogans.

But we have, over and over, led the world in succeeding at doing hard things. And we are not a morally bankrupt people.


The news today had a story of a beautiful house that burned. The local police chief said the fire was hottest in an area where there was a TV and computers, and he is ruling it an accidental electrical fire.

It feels like the shadow of a personal alternate history at the moment.

You see, when I woke up, the snakes' terrarium was dark. This isn't good--reptiles are cold-blooded, and we use heat lamps to avoid burning their skin since they don't have the reflexes to get off the nice warm spot if it gets too hot. My first thought was that a fuse had blown. Several trips up and down the stairs from second floor to basement and consulting the "map" for what's on which circuit convinced us that wasn't the case. But there was no power to anything plugged into the surge suppressor.

The next hypothesis was that the surge suppressor had blown. I'd put the surge suppressor there because the terrarium is way too big to let us access the outlet without moving it away from the wall, and with a couple of nails I could plug things in off to the side of the terrarium. Much more convenient! And it's an old house. A little extra isolation between my electronics and the house might be a good thing during a thunderstorm, right?

So we pulled the terrarium away from the wall and put a different surge suppressor (one I'd been using as an extension cord in my office) there. We started plugging things in and cheered--they worked. Well, all but one. Ok, we have replacement bulbs. That didn't help. OK, the lamp itself was dead;they're designed to screw together around a satellite-dish-shaped metal shade, to aim the heat into the enclosure. I unscrewed the parts and found that the had suffered a catastrophic failure, hot enough to turn the modern insulation in the ceramic bit to ash.

I am very glad indeed that I was using a surge suppressor there instead of a simple extension cord. All we lost was the doomed lamp and one surge suppressor--and a surge suppressor's highest honor is to die in the line of duty. The still perfect-looking shade is in the cabinet until we buy a new heat lamp for it, the plastic terrarium is quite unscorched, the snakes were more disturbed by us moving their home around than the potential disaster, and the electric lines in the house were protected from the surge.

So, I'm feeling lucky. Also, the clouds cleared so we could watch the eclipse and the Cubs' season isn't over yet. Maybe we'll get to read how Harry Dresden banished the curse on the Cubs this year! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Why is this so hard?

So we went back to the pharmacy today to get the remainder of the prescription for Mystique that they had to give us a partial fill for, and the one that they said wasn't due yet. And got two partial prescriptions--the rest of the one, and five days of the next one. So now we have to go back yet again, even though they knew three days ago that we would be wanting to fill it today. But apparently the computer doesn't check inventory for a thing until the insurance will pay for it, so (the pharmacist explained) the fact that we told them we wanted to pick up the medication today didn't matter, because they didn't know they didn't have enough of it until we got there to find that they hadn't even tried to fill it until we were waiting at the window. Oh yeah, apparently telling them three days ago that we wanted the pills today didn't even get them to schedule filling it, the computer's not set up for that either.

The whole point, for me, of getting three months' prescriptions is that I can sit down and fill a month or more worth of weekly things all at once, when I'm rested and focused, and be sure they're right. 5 days worth (the most Walgreens will give if they have to give a partial) wouldn't let me fill even one week.

The things that work, more or less, when someone takes one or two pills a day just aren't functional for someone who has to take a lot of pills.


At least I don't need to set up all the meds today, and I can hope they'll get the rest of the pills in tomorrow.

In better news, I'm trying to train the kitten to play fetch. She actually brought the crinkly toy to me three times in a row. Now, she's looking from my hand to the toy, but not bringing me the toy. Was the run of three an accident? Or is she getting the idea, but also getting tired? Only time will tell.


Where Did My Day Go?

So, there I was, happily writing on the current novel, when I realized we had to leave right away (in the middle of a climactic scene!) or we'd miss Mystique​'s doctor appointment. The sun was shining, the cats were playing, and all was well with the world. Well, the outer world. In the world of the novel, all was definitely not well, and was quickly getting worse. I was excited to see how things would play out, and my fingers were flying on the keyboard.

Oh, well, no help for it but to get up and go. Good doctors are like mothers. The more you reliably show up when they want to see you, the easier it is to convince them that there is a real emergency when one happens.

So then it was drive and drive and wait and wait and see the nice doctor (who really is a nice woman) and talk about all the routine boring things that people with chronic illness have to talk to their doctors about.

After that, a quick stop at the natural foods store that is just a couple of blocks from the doctor's office (well, that was the plan). This trip was mostly for my food, so a "quick stop" meant reading all the ingredients (in temporal duplicate) to make very sure there's nothing in the food that I'm allergic to and none of the manufacturers have changed their recipes. Then get in line. Wait and wait. Tell the checker that the fruit isn't black or red plums, it's pluots. Pack stuff into the bags we brought. Then to the pharmacies.

Oh, but first, rush hour traffic. Drive and wait, drive and wait, and then drive and wait some more. I've read that some people plan out their novels while driving; I don't know how they can do that. I'm just fine with talking on my cell phone (hand-free) while driving. That isn't more distracting to me than talking to someone who's physically in the car. But plotting novels? I tried it once, and I got so very, very lost. I do zone out while reading, and apparently also while writing, even the purely mental part of the process. Being totally uninterested in experiencing an automobile accident first-hand, I'm not trying that one again. So, when the rush hour traffic devolved into coast and brake, coast and brake, over and over and OVER again, all it did was waste time.

Then the pharmacies. (Wait--I said that already, and now you're wondering about the plurality.) One pharmacy has a pharmacist who's very helpful, but a computer system that loses one of the doctors' prescriptions. They're not perfect; the pharmacist has been unable to get one of my medicines for over a month, unless I want to buy the brand name at full price instead of the generic with the help of my insurance (though if I was completely out of it, they might approve me making a copay for the brand name at this point). But the nice pharmacist is working on that. The other pharmacy gets the one doctors' prescriptions reliably, but is less helpful in other ways. Happily, Mystique's insurance will cover prescriptions at both locations (unlike mine).

Recently, Mystique's insurance suggested she move to getting most of her meds on a three-month basis instead of every month. That's a good thing, except there seems to always be one or another prescription that gets filled for one month, either due to pharmacy error or a doctor's error in filling out the electronic prescription form, which apparently defaults to a one month prescription. So, go to one place, wait while they fix the one that was filled for only one month, then to the other to find out they didn't fill all of the prescriptions, only about half, so we'll have to wait a half hour while they do their thing. While waiting, get a call from the first place that one of the bottles didn't get put back into the bag when they were fixing the one filled for 30 days instead of 90. Circle back to get the missing bottle, then back again to get the last of the prescriptions, but one of the newly filled prescriptions was only filled for one month! *sigh* How on earth do people who are too sick to think straight or who just lack mental spoons manage?

Eventually, we got home to put groceries away and figure out dinner, and I was very pleased that my reusable cloth bag collection includes a couple of insulated zippered things designed for carrying cooked or cooled stuff to parties or picnics. The stuff we got frozen at the grocery store was still frozen when we finally arrived home.

The cats, who think we should stay home and pet, play with, and feed them on demand all day, were not impressed.

Now I'm yawning, a reminder that I need to make an appointment to try on CPAP masks, since I lost enough weight that the one I've been using isn't fitting so well any more. But it's too late to do that today!

And my poor characters, who are in the middle of confronting the faceless opponent who has been causing them misery for many chapters now, are likely to stay that way until tomorrow. Hang in there, folks, you'll figure it out, I have faith in you.

The Rainbow Bridge Traveled Too Soon

I went to a memorial service on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful service, but it’s hard to write about. It wasn’t someone I was close to, though only because we hadn’t met until recently. I liked him. I knew he was gay and that he enjoyed dancing, though he wasn’t graceful or strong. I knew he was having hard times, since he volunteered for a while at the Habitat for Humanity Restore to have something current on his resume. He was also Hispanic, and suffered from mental illness.

He died because he got drunk and upset one night and took out a decorative sword and someone called the police. Neighbors said they heard 6 or 7 shots. The police said they told him repeatedly to put down the weapon. They said they feared for their lives, though none of the articles I read or TV reports I heard claimed he was attacking the officers or any other person.

I thought of him as a skinny kid, though he was in his 20s. He always struck me as being kind and gentle. I have a very hard time imagining him, holding a sword, as a credible threat against two police officers with guns. He didn’t have either the self-confidence or grace that comes from martial arts training.

I think about the number of friends I have who have swords, people who have had them in hand while drunk and upset, and lived to see the dawn (and suffer the hangover).

I think about the fact that his neighbors reported so many shots. How many bullets can you possibly need to stop one skinny drunk guy from endangering anybody else with an antique, decorative sword? Were these police officers trained at all in de-escalating situations? Did they have any training in how to identify and deal with a person who has mental illness? Did they do anything but bark orders and shoot?

There’s so much I don’t know about what happened. I don’t even know why he was upset.

But I can’t help but think that if he had been white and straight he would still be alive today.

Books, Memory, and the Passions of Fans

It's hot out tonight, and the new kitten is delighted that a moth has found its way in through the window that lets the cats play on the second floor porch. While it's leaping around, trying to catch the moth, I'm sitting here pondering memory, fandom, the nature of proof and the various qualities of internet bullies.

Back in High School, I had a best friend. We talked about everything, even the classes we didn’t share and the books we didn’t both read. Maybe especially those things. We certainly read and loved most of the same stories, each of us lending books to the other. While we shared a similar taste in fiction, it wasn’t identical. There were certain books that were very popular at the time that she enjoyed, but I didn't. After talking with her, I felt blessed that I could properly understand fannish conversations about those books without devoting my limited free time to finishing them. (You don't, after all, have to read an entire book to be certain it's not to your taste.)

It being High School, there were also opportunities to do things like compete for scholarships. One of these competitions was a SAT-like test that included a lot of questions about topics not well-covered in the average high school class, and one of this college's concentrations was philosophy. I scored very high on that test and was offered a small partial scholarship to the sponsoring college. The thing is, I didn’t take even one philosophy course in high school. I didn’t read any of the texts. But because my friend did, and because she enthusiastically talked about how foolish this or that dude was and why, I knew the answers to the philosophy questions on that test.

Now, you say, that’s all very well and good, but what does it matter? Why am I blogging about a long-ago test for a scholarship that I didn't accept because it wouldn’t have covered travel costs to and from the distant college?

Well, you see, there’s these trolls on Twitter who have claimed that I am a liar etc. etc. etc. They assume that I must not have read read certain Hugo nominees because, when asked to name a character in a Castalia Press-published story, I interrupted my work on my WIP to say that I didn't want to play trivia games.

I could simply laugh off the trolls. I'm female and my partner is transgender, so there's no way I could avoid being lumped with the SJWs, after all. But I also heard someone at Worldcon suggesting giving a simple “test” to see if a person had actually read all the nominees as a requirement for voting.

Now, having entertained myself at many convention parties by quietly listening to fans argue passionately about what really happened in one or another book or TV show, I have to say that any such test is inherently flawed. I have heard people argue about the names of characters, the sequence of events, who said what, and even how stories ended. People’s brains work very differently. Some remember names well, others can describe every detail of how the characters dressed, others analyze the plot and ridicule plot holes, others can recount dialogue in detail, and so on.

Forgetting an author’s or character’s name is not proof a person didn’t read something. And the offer of that scholarship (or if you discount my personal experience, the existence of Cliffs Notes) shows that knowledge about a writer's work isn't proof that a person did read it.

As to the bullies--nah. I have better things to do than write about them.

I'll just say that having gotten to sample so much of the output of Castalia House this year in the Hugo voter packet, based on the qualities of the content, I am not the least bit tempted to send any of my money that way in the future. (And no, I am not going to review or discuss those stories. While I enjoy writing reviews of stories I loved when time and energy allows, I have no interest in putting down other writers by publicly panning their work just because I didn't like it.)

Your tastes may differ from mine. That's all right. I never thought that I had to agree with all of my friends about whether a book is worth reading, much less whether it is worthy of an award.

Blue Moon Card Draw

Happy Blue Moon, everyone!  I know that a blue moon is, essentially, an accident of the calendar, but still, it feels magical, so I feel a need to mark it somehow, and sharing some small measure of that magic seems appropriate.

So you're welcome to simply ask for a card or ask a specific question. You can also request inspiration for a creative project, a reading for one of your characters, a guide for a project or time period, or just something to meditate on.

Tips are welcome, but not necessary--I know that often when a person needs inspiration the most is exactly the time that they're pinched financially.  You can comment here on this live journal post using your facebook or via open ID. If you tip, you can also ask for an additional card, or a card from any other deck I have. Not sure if I have a particular deck? You're welcome to ask.

Free readings can be from the Daughters of the Moon Tarot, the Shapeshifter Tarot or the Faeries' Oracle. Alternatively, I can draw you (or your character) a Guide from my combined deck of Susan Seddon Boulet art cards.

Finally, you could ask to have my Torn World character, Rai Kunabei, do a disk reading for you or for a torn world character of your choice. This will take the form of an imaginary visit to Torn World and will feature the divination disks I designed for that world. Feel free to include some details about yourself to help me portray you in this world.

If you can, please consider dropping something in the virtual guitar case below! Readings take time and energy.  Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees) or at least one Torn World credit. If neither of these work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

Signal boosts are also appreciated. If you are tipping or boosting the signal, please include that in your reply here, so I'm not guessing when I sit down to do your reading. If you tipped or boosted the signal, feel free to request a clarification card if you want one.

You can get a private reading if you tip; I'll send the reading to the e-mail you use for tipping or you can send a private message to make other arrangements. I'm also open to doing longer paid readings, for instance Celtic Cross or Wheel of the Year; again, please send a private message if you're interested.

I will do readings promptly, however, life's been complicated lately and there is one final bit of work on my house (a hole in a bump-out roof) that can't wait for me to pay off the other repairs, and if the guy who is to fix it is available (he's trying to schedule around when his wife has her baby) I may need to spend a bunch of time on that project.  I am also making an effort to be very well rested before I make the very long drive to visit my mother, since I'll be driving alone.  (My Angel is staying home to care for the cats and all.)  Anyway, all this means it might take a little time to get to your request, but I will reply to all requests posted here. In the unlikely event that the number of free requests nears my limits, I'll close this One Card Draw (with a nice obvious edit to this post) rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Finally, I want to say, "Thank you" for joining me in my celebration of the blue moon.

As always, in accordance with federal law, these readings are for entertainment and inspiration only. See my "Dandelyon's Readings" page if you have questions.

An Odyssey through a Sea of Clothes

So I got up last week and wanted to wear shorts and something sleeveless (but not one of my fringed t-shirts, which are fun, but not so much when I'm out with garden snips). The urge to shorts was prompted by the fact that controlling blood sugar has led to a somewhat thinner me, enough so that my skirts that used to be out of the way now are loose enough to hang low on my hips and be in danger of being stepped on going up stairs or trying to use a large shovel. (Also, cutting all the gluten and corn out of my diet means I'm not always afraid that putting on something that's tight around my belly will end up being painful or exacerbating gastrointestinal discomfort. I still love skirts and dresses, but other things are less likely to be uncomfortable now.)

Now, I could do a bit of sewing and put new waistbands on the skirts, but that takes time and is only worth the effort on skirts that I plan to wear for something more fun than digging up weed trees, painting my porch, and pulling smaller weeds. So I got in the car and drove to the thrift store, where I gathered a bag of cool things (some cool in terms of summer comfort only, and others cool in terms of being styles I am very pleased to wear. I then came home, my head full of images of the kinds of clothes that I can now fit into or will soon be able to fit into if I keep losing weight, and attacked my closet, pulling out quite a few things that are now too big and relegating them to a new destiny, that of being heartlessly abandoned at the thrift store.

It's not as if I didn't know, before, that I had reached a size where a lot of the fun clothes I love just weren't made in my size, but that knowledge didn't inspire me to eat differently.

You know, I always would have told you that I cared more about my brains than my looks, but didn't realize the proof would be so easily acquired once a doctor told me I had blood sugar problems and I realized (by changing my diet drastically in the weeks before I could get a new primary doc and get that treated medically) that the high blood sugar was affecting my higher brain function. I am writing more now, because my brain is once again holding all the bits needed to shape a story properly; heck, I can even see the difference in my facebook comments!

I'm well aware of the dangers of diabetes--I have a friend whose mantra in the gym, repeated rhythmically, is, "I want to keep my feet." Not getting the blood sugar under control is not an option if I want to continue to be able to walk and do art and see. But bringing it down had an unexpected and immediate effect on my mental acuity that (in my mind) trumped all of those other things. Now, when I look at simple carbs, it's a lot like looking at wheat and corn--when I feel tempted, I think of the results of eating the way I used to and the temptation vanishes. I do sometimes feel sad, but not tempted. I have no doubt at all that it's not worth the consequences. That never happened when I looked at cute dresses and thought it would be nice to be thinner so I could wear them. I guess I have my priorities!

But that doesn't keep me from enjoying packing away all the fat lady dresses (wait--where did that phrase come from? Oh, never mind, it's apt enough, and I'm not judging anybody, not even my former self) into plastic grocery bags and then into the trunk of my car. It also doesn't keep me from feeling glee at going through the old clothes I couldn't fit into but couldn't bear to get rid of (after washing the attic mustiness away) and finding I fit into clothes that haven't been seen on my body since before I became a Mom. Some of those are going into the trunk too, but a lot are going into drawers or my closet so I can enjoy them again.

And as I look at all of the clothes, I'm seeing them differently in other ways too. All the drab office casual stuff that served as a work costume, telling people I was competent and serious and professional, all that can go now, since I'm aiming to be a totally different kind of professional, one where a drab disguise isn't necessary. Not that I wasn't professional and competent and taking people's legal issues seriously, of course I was--and still am--all of those things. But I am so much more than that, and there's joy in embracing that as well.

Later this week, after I finish going through the stuff I dragged down from the attic, I'll take a trunkload (or more--the trunk is nearly full already) of stuff to the thrift store. I hope those clothes will bring someone else joy, as they did me when I needed them, but even if no one else wants them, I'm glad to be giving them away. I have no regrets and no doubts about moving into a future without them.

And that's pretty cool, in and of itself.


Polychrome Wizard

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