Feathered Horde & Random Rambles
Better Late Than Never
So far recently, every time I’ve thought that I would be back to blogging often, some weird and terrible thing has happened. Lots of bad things. Now I’m sure that I will be back, even though that’s not to say that everything is all unicorns dancing on moonbeams for me, I’m OK, happy, and I’ve finally realised that change, no matter how toothy and scary it appears at the time, is best embraced and worked with rather than fought with. Change can be beautiful when viewed over your shoulder I think—the trick is to keep on moving no matter what and believe that it will be. Life is often about hard choices, and sometimes life can be so hard that the choice becomes whether to stay upright and carry on walking at all through that terror-filled valley or to find a suitably large rock to hide behind for the duration.
Problem with the rock is that the longer you stay with it the longer you stay in the valley. I reckon too that if you do spend a whole long time quivering in fear behind it, wondering how to get rid of the bulls-eye on your forehead and the sign on your back that says “Kick Me Really Hard All The Time”, you get to thinking that you’ve missed your chance altogether. That’s never true—it’s never too late. The hardest two parts about getting through to the sunshine are probably getting rid of that feeling of waiting for the next disaster, believing that of course more horribleness is surely on the way, and secondly believing that you deserve all horribleness issued to you anyway because you really are not only not fabulous, but you could indeed be the very epitome of anti-fabulousness.
Not easy peasy, but once you transform that rotten duo of beliefs, you might just be able find the rest of the trip not as petrifying as you imagined, and quite a lot of fun. Of course, some people’s valleys aren’t quite so deep and dark, but even though all people will have some level of tribulation in their lives, not all are properly equipped to deal with it depending on what they’ve learned one way or another, so I’m feeling quite excited about my upcoming non-fiction projects. Yes—finally! Late, yes, but at least not never. More on that and also epically late fiction launches to follow.
The past couple of years have been pretty surreal, and I’m really grateful to have actually not totally crumbled and expired. The worst happened this year when I lost one of my feathered horde, who those of you who have followed this blog for several years will know are my constant, very, very much beloved companions and fabulous feathered joy blessings. Little Button zoomed off to await the rest of us in Heaven. The worst thing is the way Jelly still mourns him. Those two little guys used to have the most appalling fights—feathers literally flew—but still, weeks and weeks after the fact, Jelly refuses to go to the places where they sat together, and would not bath in their bath either. I eventually threw it away, and now he will only bath in my cupped palms under running water. He looks at the ceiling fan that was Button’s domain, with a proper look of hope that his buddy will be there, and cried too, for a long time while holding on to one of my fingers very tightly with his tiny claw. I’ve never seen an animal grieve the way Jelly has, but it has taught me that without any shadow of a doubt, those of God’s creatures who we bring into our lives and love so much, will most certainly not “just die”. We will most certainly see them on the other side. I was going to post a RIP Button tribute, but as with when Angus died I couldn’t do it, those things just make everyone cry. I will instead be posting more photies of the whole horde in future regardless of “where” they are. Just the happy guys that they are should be shared. We place too much emphasis on mourning when we lose a love to what we see as the grim reaper, when I believe now that we should rather focus on the joy of their lives, and the knowledge that they really are in another place now—a good place—looking forward to seeing us again. Death is just a doorway, not an ending. It’s our job to move on positively, enjoy the time we have left here, and be as productive, helpful, and loving as we can while we do so.
Weirdly, even though the thought of my little yellow angel is still like a hot knife through my heart, after a couple of weeks of thinking that I would expire too from the pain of his absence, his death kicked me right out of my own weird head thing. Sometimes when the worst thing that you can think of happens, you have to either move forward with joy—or give up and camp out in the valley, forever in pain and misery. So moving on to new things for my horde and I. New things for Jelly will have to be found to take his mind off the past. New joys, and sometimes sadness too, but never hiding too long again behind anything.
I keep in mind now that when you expect only the horrible, the horrible is exactly what you will get. I’ve made a couple of fabulous discoveries—one especially, astoundingly simple, and almost instantly healing—all of which I’m very hard at work compiling into books for this year. Lots of fabulous publishing and design projects have been coming my way from my fabulous Indie authors. Thank you to all of you for your support, for allowing me to work with you on all of your wonderful books, and for your patience the couple of times I dived behind a rock or had a couple thrown at me.
When the trials of life do delay you one way or another, remember that it’s never too late to get moving again. Even if you drop some of your luggage on your way through your wilderness, that’s not always a bad thing, when you walk through the darkness concentrating on the light ahead, often there is a wonderful blue sky waiting for when you take that first step towards the exit of that valley.
After my most epic online absence ever, all I can say really is, Eish! It’s been a little nuts. I live on a game farm now, way out in the bush, and the start of the rainy season brought a few not so pleasant surprises internet-wise. This is a beautiful, huge and rambling place, accessed via quite a long stretch of really bad sand road, which becomes pretty much impossible to drive on when wet, even with an SUV such as I have. The internet hub is situated in the main office, which isn’t a problem at all for me, except that in the past few weeks we’ve had power outages, the most horrendous computer malware attack, and an electrical short which knobbled us all until the electrician could wend his way here. The cherry on the top was that I got a little slack and stopped neurotically inspecting everything I eat and got royally glutened. Very sick puppy I was. Still far from a hundred percent as far as the poor old innards are concerned.
Happily though, I’m still kicking, and the power short/malware/internet/soggy road have all been overcome now. Before all of this rotten divil nonsense struck we had a rhino capture here, which was absolutely amazing (will share pics and proper story about that later), however, there was a documentary filmmaker along with the road crew who (I kid you not) made off with my laptop charger, and it took weeks before I could lay my hands on a new one. In the meantime I wasn’t too perturbed because my friend and owner of this paradise said that I could use her computer in the office. Not a problem then. All I had to do was transfer anything I needed to email by memory stick from my desktop in my chalet to that and tra-la-la. However, and without any delay at all— Enter malware attack and— Celiac attack— Well. You get the picture.
Lately the rain has meant that the cellphone signal has been zero, so VERY few emails have been got to. It’s clearing now and all is fabulous again. I’ll get to all your emails but will take a while, so if there’s anything I need to see now please zoom over a fresh email and I’ll get right on it. So, with all the devilish attempts to foil my scribbling career now properly squished, I shall attempt to move on with some small degree of decorum.
I’m incredibly grateful though. It’s been a pretty rough year—the roughest in my life so far. Terrifying and challenging, and a good couple of times it was very tempting to run and hide, and give up trying in general. I’ve had the most amazing love and support from my friends, who are all angels straight from Heaven in my book, and I reckon that now the worst is over. I could NEVER have done it without you guys. I’m also so grateful for the support of “my” authors who have given me the privilege of working on their books, thereby showing me the way forward, work-wise. Thanks for your support and patience during the growing pains.
I’m hoping to stay right here right through Christmas and in to next year, which I’m hoping will be epic for all of us, only in really good ways. Once I’ve made head or tail of my turgid inbox and appeased anyone who wants me drawn and quartered for my super long absence, I’m planning on getting a little festive in general. Festive and bookish again, with a bit of luck. Please give me reminders of anything I’ve missed of yours for sharing or generally catching up.
Gimme Dat, Gimme Dat Tomato
Meet Sheldon, the guy formerly known as “EEEK BIG SCARY LIZARD – RUN AWAYYY!!!” Turns out he’s just a sweet fellow looking for friends, if a little needy.
His favourite things to eat turn out to be tomatoes, and not me. When I first arrived he would be there, outside, when I opened the door. I wasn’t a fan until my friend Leana, who owns this magical farm, told me that they’re harmless even though large. So now he heads over for munchies regularly and I think he’s pretty cool. Sheldon – needy – hangs around at doors – see what I did there? Always been a fan of most lizards.
Not this guy so much! He fell THROUGH the thatch roof. Luckily he didn’t land on anyone. He’s just a constrictor – not venomous, but snakes are best avoided in general I reckon.
It’s taken me ages to settle down. This year has been pretty crazy, and all my attempts so far at getting back to regular blogging have failed dismally. It’s been busy lately too, but in good ways, and finally slowing down to mild panic rather than insane terror, so I’m hopeful. I’ve started writing fiction again after almost a year of not being able to tackle anything other than non-fiction. I’m going to wait till December/January before I publish anything, even though I do have a couple of things ready to go. The next few months is just going to be about remembering to breathe again, and catching up. Or rather looking ahead, because everything is new now.
The feathered horde have made it through unscathed, if a little ruffled at times. They really didn’t like the big move at all, but are happy little bunnies again. Lots of new places to get into and hang upside down on.
I’ve been flat out catching up with work, so I haven’t been able to explore outside at all yet, but I’ve got a couple of pics of things happening around and about directly outside my window – shot through the window panes so don’t expect fabulous photography with these ones. I’m looking forward to slowing down now, and taking it all in after the wild ride that this year has been. Where I live now is about as close to paradise for me can get. Lots of horizon to look at, and filled with fabulous critters again.
The little fellow above is called a Dassie. There are loads of them zooming around the rocks all day long. Apparently their closest relative is the elephant. More to come on them though – I reckon they have agendas.
Very Quick Quickie
I’ll be back to happy blogland right now. The last couple of weeks have been fabulously insane, but now over. The not so fabulous included a collapsing desk while moving, and huge delay getting my desktop back together again, having my hugest gluten attack ever – really – forearms looked just like chopped liver for a while there, and so on and so on. HUGE APOLOGIES FOR BLOG ABSENCE LAST WEEK! Sorry guys – will catch up with all. All of this fades to pale in the face of the actual fabulousness though.
I’m living on a farm again now – not just any farm though. There are the most awesome critters all over the place, and although I’ve already taken a couple of pics with my phone, I’m not organised enough yet to post, but will do in the next few days. It’s all a bit surreal and idyllic after the insanity of the past year. Suffice it to say, I’m a very, very happy bunny again, and looking forward to life in general.
I’ve got to get caught up a little with my awesome scribblers, but I’ve most certainly got my old zoom back now, so all is great. Phew – looking forward to seeing all the blog news again finally. Lots of amazing pics to follow shortly!
Colouring Isn’t for Dummies
Considering how popular adult colouring has become, I’m a bit disappointed that there isn’t any obvious comment thread that I can see on the good old Telegraph article denouncing it – or rather seemingly denouncing the people who partake in it. I really hope that reading it doesn’t make anyone feel bad about their chosen way to relieve their stress. Any kind of shaming sucks I reckon, and telling the thousands of people who love colouring to “Grow up yer big babies and draw yer own pictures!” isn’t very nice. Maybe people don’t want to colour their own pictures. Maybe having to draw their own pictures will stress them out.
She’s right about the way that many people live their lives. It’s hectic being alive in this age, for everyone mostly, but I think that when it comes to what we do in our own time, for enjoyment or to relax, is nobody’s business but our own. And honestly, if originality is key to being an “adult”, then when you do partake of the suggested allowed for adult fun activities like sewing, cooking, singing and so on, then you’d better be singing your own original songs and making totally original food. Personally speaking, my singing is to be feared by anyone with ears and I can’t really rhyme to save my life. I don’t always want to be making up brand new recipes and designing new things to sew.
There’s comfort in what’s known. Old recipes, knitting patterns, and the remembered comfort in colouring in a lovely shape. Life’s tough enough without feeling the need to shame people who enjoy such an innocent pastime over reading Dostoevsky, learning to recite the Russian alphabet, or some such highbrow pursuit. I don’t consider myself an intellectual cretin, and I really do enjoy study and reading classic and modern great literature, but I also found that these things don’t help at all in times of stress. When I was a twanging bundle of terror after all the break-in attempts in the middle of the nights, the thing that calmed me best was Candy Crush. Sometimes childish—call them mindless if you like—pursuits are exactly what we need. Don’t try and spoil the small harmless pleasures that people seek. There are much bigger problems in our world if you really fancy a nice rant. So I say rock on you colouring book guys. Nothing wrong with it.
Balls and Alarums
Back – again. Finding equilibrium comes in stages I think. Happily, I seem to be finding mine now, and getting used to this new life I’m finding my way to. The Horde are also just settling down properly too, and I’m only now seeing how much their poor little feathers must have been ruffled with it all. Jelly’s exploring properly for the first time, and they’re all getting back to their old crazy selves. The seed ball that I got for them that I thought I’d get major kudos for instantly became the Birdy Horde Destroying Scary Thing of DOOM. Talk about alarums and excursions. So that terrifying thing is going outside to scare the wildlife away instead.
Finally, every day isn’t always a bad hair day anymore, and happy has slunk back up from the basement, supplying laughter and joy once again. I thought that my writing would have changed somehow, but I think it’s still the same old scribbling, from the same places. I see now that we can’t ever say what will happen. No matter what we do, or what our intentions on, our lives will take the courses that they have to, so we may as well enjoy the ride regardless.
My intentions were to be zooming around blogland a lot more than I have been, and that’s still what they are. So let zooming commence. I’m going to take baby steps getting back up to speed with the zooming though. I’m going to aim for three posts a week, and my Epic Comment Catch Up of All Time trip in between. Now that I’m around and about the town a whole lot more, I reckon I’ll take a pile of photos to share of interesting things and people around here. So, with a bit of luck – and elbow grease, I shall see you all in the land of blog all the time again.
I haven’t at all gotten to answer any comments in the past couple of weeks, and I’m SORRY, and I will get there – promise. It’s taken me a whole lot longer than I expected to get back to blogland, and I’m only starting in properly now. It’s been a bit surreal around here lately. I had TWO nasty surprises in the past six weeks, with members of the local bands of rotten criminals trying to open windows at three in the morning, and me seeing them through the windows BOTH times. That brings the number of attempts by them to get in to four altogether, so I must admit that the last one on Good Friday morning knocked me off my perch a bit. There’s something horribly personally, and somehow violently, invasive seeing an actual person right there on the other side of the glass, even if they do run away. Needless to say I haven’t been sleeping the sleep of the just that I so richly deserve, so I’ve been rather bleary. I’m a whole lot better now though, and waiting with eager anticipation for the riot control self defence kit that I ordered, the very presence of which will guarantee me some good snooze time I think.
Other than that I’ve had some lovely work coming my way with many, many thanks to my wonderful supportive friends here, especially Sally Cronin and Chris Graham. I want to give an extra BIG thank you to Chris – The Story Reading Ape for designing my fabulous new logo for my Indie Support Services.
Don’t forget that there are all sorts of things other than covers that he can do for you Indies. From video trailers to banners, maps, and logos like the perfect one he designed for me. Zoom on over and follow him if you aren’t already – he is a wonderful font of help and support for all authors.
It’s so good to be able to finally start getting back to the books I love in all their forms. I found a particularly interesting one called The Voynich Manuscript that I’m sure a lot of you will find fascinating too. It’s been carbon dated to the early fourteen hundreds (1404 to 1438) and is named after the man who bought it in 1912. It’s written in an unknown alphabet – one that to this day has yet to be deciphered even though the most talented code-breakers and linguists have tried since its discovery. It’s filled with drawings of the craziest alien looking plants you could imagine, as well as pictures of women zooming through what appear to be tubes. Then there are astronomical drawings, and finally a couple that look like a combination of plants, the tube zooming females and the astrological designs.
The mind boggles. My mind does anyway. A lot of very staid and well educated personages have found all sorts of realistic explanations for this book, but I’m a writer so not apt to head straight for the boring. I reckon the writer of this most peculiar tome was either from the fourth planet from the central star in the Zerg galaxy, trying to draw a map home because her peers had found a fabulous way to use whacky plant tubes as interstellar transport (I deduce that said writer was female and the reason for the book was that said peers had decided to search for more plant-worthy men on another planet and forgot her behind) or that it was written by an aspiring adult comic book creator born before his time.
Either way—interesting stuff. If you want to download the PDF for a bit of nutty inspiration you can get it at Holy Books. The download is quite big though—over 50MB.
New Places, Old Friends
I’ve just moved home rather suddenly and speedily, and naively believed that Telkom couldn’t take more than a week to transfer my internet. Hah! Anyway, after much gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair they’ve done the deed, and I’m very nicely back online. One of the very many reasons they had not to move my line was that the new area I’m living in can’t get ten meg broadband – only four, which sounded great to me as long as I was connected. Interestingly enough, for whatever strange reason, this new connection is a whole lot better, steadier, and faster than the old one, so I’m a happy bunny.
I want to say a very, very big thank you to my lovely author clients for waiting so patiently for me to get through this without zooming off elsewhere, and a very very VERY big thank you to my beloved friends Sally Cronin, Chris, The Story Reading Ape , and our dear Ronovan Hester of Lit World Interviews fame for their staunch and awesome support during the past two crazy, terrifying months. It’s done now, and the crazy terrifying is too – I’m very sure of that now, and boy is there a book in there!
Anyway. I have some fabulous jobs to do now, and am having a ball getting paid for doing what I love to do – illustrating and generally doing anything writing and publishing related really take me to my happy place. Also, as I settle into my new routine, I’m starting to get some urges to get back to my scribbling again. It was so surreal in the beginning of this trip. I was one hundred percent convinced that I was going to totally crash and burn – the end. I’ve learned though, that it really is true that doors don’t just close without others being opened for you. Fair enough, you have to get over the fear of going through them, but when you do you may just find nothing at all scary on the other side.
I had to find homes for Bella and Freddie, which started off with a whole lot of tears, but ended up perfectly after all. Their new humans are fabulous farmers not too far out of town whose daughter just happens to be a vet. They have hectares to romp around in, and new doggy family too. Both also very happy bunnies now. The feathered horde is with me, of course, and after initially having their beaks well out of joint at having to go in the car again, they’re back to their happy zooming and using my monitor as their personal toilet.
I’ve got a lot to share in the future. I’ve learned so much already, but I know that I still have a whole lot more to learn. For now I’m happy to immerse myself in work till I feel a little less raw, but I think that there can be so much more to our lives than we allow ourselves to enjoy. So many lives are wasted living in fear of one thing or another. So many of us spend years living in regret or anger at some horrible thing that happened to us, and I see now that we not only don’t have to do that, we shouldn’t do that. We should be leaving the most joyful footprints that we can behind us, and making as much as we can of every minute that we have left. Obviously life is never going to be all unicorns and flowers, but maybe with a bit of thought quite a bit of it can be. Right – now I’m off to add some more fire to a hairdo and play with badgers and frogs. I shall see you on your blogs shortly my much loved friends of the screen.
Sorry I’ve been gone so long. I didn’t want to share a whole lot of self-pity and grief here, and after today I’m not going to in the future either. It’s been six weeks since Angus passed away, but it feels like a lifetime ago, so much has changed. I’ve discovered that emotions I’ve believed I’ve fully felt before were really just the tips of icebergs, and that sometimes when you fall and think that no one can halt your plummet, and that you’ll never stop going down, that there are hands that will catch you, and hold you tight until you find the strength to stand again. So now here I am – standing again.
I’m not afraid of dying anymore, because now I know for sure that that isn’t the end at all, and I also know without a doubt that after all my years of intellectually studying the religions of the world, and referring to whatever lay beyond as “The Universe” that I was wrong. God is all around, and so are a whole lot of His angels. I can honestly tell you that He buys you books, finds you parking, and fixes broken washing machines, and a whole lot more that you wouldn’t expect from Him. Don’t worry – I’m not going to start preaching at you. It’s just nice to know, and I’m truly grateful for His very direct and impossible to call coincidence approach these past weeks. It’s all been a bit miraculous.
Angus passed instantly, and I’m absolutely positive that he felt no pain. We had no inkling that he had any problems with his heart, and he generally bounced around like a horse. He was sitting on the chair next to mine drinking his coffee when he said that he felt faint and that was literally the end. I “felt” him leave, and I knew that he never left alone. There is absolutely no doubt in my heart and mind that he is alive and well in another room in this incredible realm of our existence with a whole lot of others already there. There you go – end of preaching.
And now on with living – because it’s important, and we’re supposed to enjoy it. I think that every little thing that we do is important in the grand old scheme of things. We spend so much of our time worrying about things that may never happen. M Scott Peck had a thing that he’d say to his patients when they were fearful or worried. He said that when those feelings arose that they should ask themselves what they’d be doing right then if they weren’t really busy being scared. The answers were always doing something that brought pleasure. The solution, he said, was to just start doing the happy thing.
Right now I’m trying to find my bearings as far as earning my crust is concerned – not overly keen on doing the whole starving and camping out under a tree thing with my feathered and furred horde – but I’m getting there as far as ideas go, so hold thumbs. I’m sure that I have more emails than the Dalai Lama, so please be patient with me while I get stuck in and catch up again. It’s good to be back here with you lovely guys again – I’ve missed you all and hope to be back to zooming.
Farewell my Angus – till we meet again.
What to do When Falling off Wagons
So much for my perky statement last Friday that “Normal transmission will resume tomorrow” hey? I have a whole grocery list of complaints to the Universal Admin Department. Last week took all the cake in all the universes anyway, so hopefully that’s a bit of payback. Firstly, I’ve been getting steadily sicker and sicker over the past few months. It’s partly my own fault, because I knew what the problem was (me falling off the health wagon) and tried to ignore it, and partly not my own fault because of way too much ongoing stress – that stuff will kill you. Eventually the week before last I finally got back on the health wagon properly and promptly got even sicker as the cure started to take effect for my Candidiasis – that stuff will kill you too. And then last week happened. Oh my…..
I’m pretty sure that the whole thing started with the electricity department doing line maintenance around town from the week before that, although that’s just my opinion after watching their gung ho manoeuvres up ladders pruning trees away from power lines while ignoring the branches they themselves were sending down to bounce off those very power lines. So the whole of last week was power failures every couple of hours of every day, followed by power dips, surges, and invisible power bunnies doing the Makarena too for all I know. Not to mention a charger that EXPLODED when I switched it on. Seriously – big scary noise and white light sizzling. That was not cool, and I’m still switching that particular switch on with the end of a broomstick every time I want to charge my phone. All the on off on off, rinse, repeat, resulted in the subsequent conking of my internet system almost directly after my cluelessly perky “normal transmission” statement abovementioned. Which just goes to show – clueless perkiness can get you in trouble, and chargers can probably kill you too.
Which brings me to wagons. What to do when you fall off one? Well – I reckon you try your damndest to get back on it. I’m not glad that I got so sick again from falling off the healthy wagon, but I’m a whole lot better now, and intend to try and stay that way. I am glad that I never published the little book that I wrote on Candida months ago, because this latest run in with the vicious little fungal beasties has taught me so very much more about it. Now I most definitely must share what I’ve learned, so I will update the book and publish it next year. I’m not at all glad about falling off my blogging wagon either, although it did make me realise that life is all about falling off wagons, and I know I’ll catch up eventually anyway because I’m a stubborn old goat. If everything was perfect, and everyone got everything right all the time, there probably would be no purpose to life at all – it’s all about the learning from our own tumbles, whether self or “life” inflicted, and then getting back onto fallen off wagons. It would be well boring too if we never ever went overboard.
Dieting, exercise, taking an incoming nasty life lemon to the noggin – all of these things will hopefully just knock you off some kind of wagon for a while, and with a bit of luck and gnashing of teeth you’ll take however long you need to get back up rather than giving up and ending up totally squished beneath the wheels. Still – here’s to a serious dearth of wagons in 2016 for everyone in general, and me in particular.