Pitfalls of Email, Snowpocalypse and the Fiscal Cliff


Red winter coat

Red winter coat (Photo credit: chlywhite)

Had hoped to avoid all US election related updates until at least this evening, but I was foiled by my gmail account of all things. It contained a less than subdued gloat headline from the Huffpo.

I hate Huffpo but I foolishly linked to it via Facebook once and now it spams my mailbox with its tripe. Not consistently though, so I don’t know if I am actually on its mailing list or if my sporadic following of links back to its equally vacuous Canadian version remind it that I exist now and again, and it feels obligated to send me a missive.

Anyway, four more years. Rah. Rah. Whatever. Nothing has changed. My course is set and at some point next year that course and the United States of America will part ways.

I did chuckle a bit when I read a post at ZeroHedge that noted the stock market reacted to the Obama win by promptly dropping.

Not because of Obama but because the odds of a fiscal cliff nightmare showdown went up and the odds of resolution went down quite a bit. Best advice I saw regarding the personal finance health of all US taxable persons came from Simon Black at Sovereign Man who said,

after December 31st,

- Income tax rates are going up
– Capital gains rates are going up
– Rates on dividends are going up
– Estate and gift tax exclusions are going down. Dramatically.

If you are a US taxpayer, you now have 53 days to get your tax affairs in order.

53 days left! It’s like the anti-Christmas.

Meanwhile, a snowstorm blasts it’s way through our neck of Canada. What began as “possibly 5 to 10 cms” has morphed into probably 25cms with a bit of freezing rain, blowing, drifting and shit for visibility.

Had I not desperately needed the massage I was scheduled for early this morning, I wouldn’t have ventured forth at all. But between allergies and hormonally driven semi-migraines, I was left with no choice.

Once in town, it seemed foolish not to stop at the fitness centre for a brisk walk. Here I found a semi pulling an empty flatbed jacked neatly between the curb and a lamppost and nicely impeding inflowing traffic.

It only got better.

At the Safeway, a young blond woman nearly smashed me flat in the pedestrian cross walk because I nearly slipped and she was driving far too fast for the condition of the pavement.

On the way back to our hamlet, I passed one semi in the ditch to next encounter an oversize cube van blocking the entire road. How he managed to get his back half dangling over the banked ditch and his front half at a diagonal cutting off the oncoming traffic almost completely, I still can’t work out in my mind’s eye. Some people are just very talented winter drivers.

At this point, as I was slowly turning myself around, I realized that Dee’s bus would have to travel this road home plus quite a few other back country roads that weren’t nearly as wide or snow cleared. I headed back into town, swung by school for her and took the very long way back home. Long because it involved using the highways and because the blowing made visibility even worse as town receded and was replaced by fields and little else.

Remarkably I am still maintaining a fair bit of zen about this early winter thing. I have considerably less zen about the gloating on my FB feed and I might need to hide more people. While my conservative friends have kept their disappoint largely under control, some liberal friends have been smug fucks for the most part, but I feel bad for people who are now having to resign themselves to another four years under the boot heel (their perspective) of a guy they loathe. I lived under Reagan, Bush I and Bush II, so I get that. Knowing also that there really is no difference in what now happens as opposed to what would have happened under a Romney win, I see little reason for happiness or sadness but I am inclined to be more tolerant of the sad. For now. I believe in a statue of limitations. A reasonable time frame but one that definitely is finite.

And nobody gloats as cattily or with as much “in your face assholes who disagreed with me!!” as a liberal does. Except maybe O’Reilly, Hannity and Rush – and they are entertainers who are paid to do it. My FB friends are just being mean girls for the mean girls in the choir.

I am tired of hearing about people’s vaginas though. And I don’t want to hear about the prepubescent vaginas of my friends’ daughters. Ewww.

Snow continues to pile as I type. Did we have a storm this bad last winter? Once possibly. I think it might be the norm this winter. Damn my sister and her prescient knees.

The winter that Rob and I met, it began snowing here in early November and just snowed like a bastard all winter long. Shoveled snow piled alongside roads and sidewalks until it was like going through tunnels.

I don’t recall what it was like in Iowa that winter. Not that bad because I was teaching at Hoover High in Des Moines, I am fairly certain I walked outdoors at lunch nearly everyday. It was an icy fucker of a winter though and led to a Noah’s Ark spring that nearly did me in with a basement flooding while I was trying to sell in a housing market with the bubble about to burst.

Memories of fun times. Sigh.

However, I am two for two on the “suck it up and drive; it’s just winter” meter. If a little snowstorm stops you in Alberta, you might as well just make like a bear.

Best Laid Plans


Over the summer I got the bright idea to use one of those white-board calendars to plot my writing course over a three month span of time. I think I made it to week six before illness and deck construction ran me off the rails. But I haven’t abandoned the idea because it helped me complete a revision of a novella I first wrote about 12 years ago and is now sitting, waiting again for a final polish before being shipped off to the wide world of publishing.

I have so much to do despite the fact that in the last week plus I have written two pieces for 50 Something Moms, finished/submitted my flash fic election horror piece for the Apex contest, and created two Facebook groups for my writing groups while helping plan the joint anthology for next spring. 

I am not at all certain why I thought the anthology was such a great project to take on. It’s not like I don’t have a memoir to write for NaNoWriMo in November or another website to administer since I also let myself be talked into serving on the Strathcona writing groups board as the website manager.

I don’t think I was this busy when I had a job.

So, I need my calendar thingy again. Today one of my “to do’s” is the calendar. Another task on deck is getting my blogging obligations outlined and hopefully drafting a few. 

I am up to three blogs that I actively contribute to in addition to this site and not counting the website managing gig or the blog I need to create to go along with that. One would think there should be money in this somewhere, but still I toil in relative obscurity. I guess that is where everyone starts, who isn’t the child or spouse of someone famous.

Sixteen days until I disappear into memoir writing. I am kind of looking forward to writing it. Mostly looking forward to being done with it. Another widow – a 9/11 casualty – whose novel I will be reading and reviewing in December, wrote on her blog yesterday that she was uncertain how to follow the book up. Talk about her search for “happy ever after” or her journey from New York to the West Coast. It got me thinking about the focus of my memoir. I had thought to concentrate mostly on the after. After Will was diagnosed. After he went into the nursing home. After hospice. After death. After the first months of widowhood. There are so many things now that I simply can’t recall with a high degree of accuracy or that are just not share-able. Is that a word? But I am guessing most people know what I mean. Even a die-hard blogger like me doesn’t share everything. Some events are mine or mine and my late husband’s or mine and Rob. I don’t write about those.

Which brings me to the reason I need to organize the memoir’s direction beforehand. I don’t want to spend too much time wandering in the desert. I have only 30 days and hopefully I will surpass the 50,000 words. It needs to really be twice that length which means writing about 3,000 plus words a day. Not out of the realm of possibility. I can easily crank about 2,000 a day if I am focused and have an idea of where I am going.

NaNoWriMo means getting my blogging house in order. I need two pieces a month for both my other blogging obligations, and I have ideas so the thing is to draft/revise before the end of this month and get them slotted. I also need to get a bit of blogging ahead done here. I am woefully neglecting my dear readers and readers, however dear, are fickle and go where there is reading to be done.

I have what feels like a ton of urban fantasy to finish (I discovered during the month I spent at the workshopping site that I am not writing pure sci-fi but in a genre called urban fantasy – who knew?). I am pushing it back to December. One of the things they recommend doing after a NaNoWriMo is putting your manuscript aside for a month and then coming back with fresh eyes to read and revise in January. And that is what I am going to do, therefore December will be urban fantasy month for me.

In between all of this I have writing group business including: monthly meetings, board meetings, anthology preparation, and a publishing workshop. And also the daily life stuff of husband, children, house, dying father, grieving mother, yoga class, and reading.

Man, do I have reading to do. My Bloglines is so backed up it is groaning. I do apologize if I am not commenting much. I just have so much to read that I don’t often get to it all in one sitting and sometimes my mind is too empty to find words. Would a “hi, I was here” be acceptable? Somehow that seems very trite.

A few things before I leave off for today:

  • I am still interested in trading links. Leave a comment if you are too.
  • Please vote for me over at FuelMyBlog if you get the chance.
  • If we are not friends on Facebook, perhaps we should be. Let me know.
And so I am off to organize the writing machine which is me.

Linky Love: A Tale of Catch and Release


I was unfriended at Facebook about a month ago.

To be honest, I don’t remember adding the person to my friend list. I found her inclusion on my list a bit odd as she was someone from the widow board who basically disowned me during the little ruckus* I inadvertently caused last August.

Regardless, I checked in one morning and noted the loss of a friend and was puzzled. It took me a couple of scans through my friend’s list to figure out who was missing, so I guess that sums up how big a loss it really is. Rob thinks perhaps she left Facebook entirely and that it wasn’t simply a case of suddenly realizing she had added me as friend as a mistake.

And it could be.

Still, whether I care or not, being dumped off someone’s Facebook friend list, or their blogroll, without warning bothered me for reasons I was not able to put a full finger on and pin down.

Perhaps it goes back to high school. And here I must pause and wonder – yet again – why those god awful years cause such a life long hangover.

I was not popular, but a friend pointed out to me once after we were well into adulthood that this was only because I chose not to be. She insisted that I could have been a force to reckon with socially, had I been so inclined. It was flattering of her to say so, however I am doubtful.

I am an acquired taste and even people who have managed to learn me well enough to know me can still be amazed by the things I say, do or write.

Anyway, in high school I was not pretty. I did not belong to any organization, club or team that would arouse envy in others. I didn’t date, so there was no chance of anyone coveting my boyfriend. My family was dysfunctional, and well-known for it, so I am certain no one secretly wished to exchange lives with me either.

High school was something I endured and ultimately escaped. I think that is true for most people which always made me wonder, when I was a teacher, why there seemed to be such mystery surrounding the fact that teens seem to learn so little there. High school is like a minimally controlled Lord of the Flies environment. How can anything productive be expected to come out of it?

So my lack of popularity as a teen still stings me now and being cyber dumped dredges all that crap up. Whether it is Facebook or blogrolls or just post links. The motivation is probably nothing personal – but not knowing the motivation – one goes to all the dark deserted hallways of one’s inner high school and feels like the slighted fat girl all over again.

Worse, you feel stupid for caring. It’s not as if anyone on the other side of the screen really knows me, or I them for that matter. You read what they care to tell you and take a shot in the dark when you comment based on the accumulation of what amounts to random data.

But then I read a piece by my wise friend and fellow blogger, Marsha. She had a read a book detailing the friendship between an art dealer and a homeless man. She shared a bit of the story that summed up what I could not pin down:

Denver went on. “I just can’t figure it out. ‘Cause when colored folks go fishin, we really proud of what we catch, and we take it and show it off to everybody that’ll look. Then we eat what we catch…in other words, we use it to sustain us. So it really bothers me that white folks would go to all that trouble to catch a fish, then when they done caught it, just throw it back in the water.”

“So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: If you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend.”

“But if you is looking for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.” (p107)**

I have been caught and released. But I am not a fish. I take it personally. Perhaps I shouldn’t. Some people are not meant to travel the entire journey but simply share roads – some major, some secondary and some will be the meandering little stretches of trail that give us time and opportunity to really connect.

When Will was sick I had a friend who thought she was doing her bit to support me by calling to check up on me every three months. Like clockwork. I had a much dearer friend who decided her church obligations on the Sunday morning before Will died were more important than coming to his hospice room and taking BabyDaughter so she wouldn’t have to witness the terrible struggle her father was in. Later she missed nearly all of his wake because one of her children had a volleyball game. Surprisingly I released the first person and kept the other. Mainly because I realized that the first was someone the circumstances that had linked us were no longer and our relationship road was now just a cul-de-sac we will stroll when we chance to meet up, circular and memory-based. The latter is like my sister – and we can’t choose our family – just forgive them for being as strong or weak as they are because for every instance they have let us down, so there is a matching one of our own failing.

As far as the blogosphere goes, in the future I think I will look more carefully at the circumstances and the level of acceptance before allowing myself to be “caught”. A true friend will accept me for who I am and forgive me for who I cannot be. And will let me know when our paths are diverging in a manner that is not intended to cause pain.

* I was unsympathetic “out loud” to widows who complained about non-widowed whiners when the widow in question whined pretty much about the exact same molehill things – not talking grief issues but just the everyday stuff that widowed think the un-so get too wrapped up in as if we didn’t before there were bigger fish catching fire around us. There is a lot of pot and kettle stuff on the board when it comes to the right to complain. I let myself get drawn in too often. My bad. Anyway, my comment was misconstrued, deliberately, by a woman there who never missed an opportunity to tell me I was horrid and shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion about widowhood because I was such a lousy example of what a “good widow” is. Interestingly, I continue to have this problem. No one wants to ask you what you meant. People prefer to jump to conclusions and, in my case online, give the ultimate cyber-slap – unlinkage. My ever wise husband rolls his eyes at this point and reminds me that most of the people who have done this – never liked me anyway – but it is annoying when he gets linked and I don’t when he is even less sympathetic than I am. It’s also mean to unlink without acknowledgement of said fact, but it is meant that way. I always try to explain when I rearrange or drop links. Some people’s blogs don’t fit or deserve more privacy after all.

** From the novel “Same Kind of Different as Me: a modern-day slave, an international art dealer and the unlikely woman who bound them together” by Ton Hall and Denver Moore.