I’m glad we’re not without a furnace today. It’s a balmy 36 degrees, and we are currently enjoying a high wind warning. It will be colder tomorrow, with blizzard conditions. And we’re not talking Dairy Queen! It’s probably not a good day tomorrow to take Mom out, I could lose her in the blizzardly winds. I’d have some explaining to do for sure!

I watched an excellent session of my Picture Book Challenge, courtesy of Storyteller Academy. It is very good. Yesterday’s session was Composition Techniques for Illustrators. I learned so much. For a children’s book, you need a focal point, eye path, and storytelling. The first illustration must capture attention, and the main character better be in it. Your story is established then. All eyes of other characters should be cast on the main character and what he/she is engaged in.

The placement of the characters is important, and the lesson about following the characters through the illustration showed the character could show up at many intervals throughout a room. A cat, for instance, could pounce, land, and destroy many things on it’s way through a living room when left home alone. At various stops along the way, the cat destroys a plant, shreds a rug, tangles wires, and many other naughty things. The drawings are delightful.

If you’re an author and/or illustrator of children’s books, there is still time to register, I think. It’s free, and each of five classes is one hour, including questions and answers. Storyteller Academy is offering more in depth classes later this month, hence the sampling now. I take advantage of these free offers. Various companies often reinforce each other’s teaching points. When they do, it’s a good thing.

Today’s episode is Crafting Voice. Your character must have the right voice. It should be another good one. I’ll have to wait for the video again since an appointment starts at 1 p.m., I won’t be able to watch it. We must choose the best words for our characters and theme. Sound patterns are important. Some will enhance our story. It’s important to identify them.

I was surprised to hear sentence length is important, and you must change them up to match characters. I’m sure you’ve heard children’s books are supposed to be lilting, rhythmic, and a pleasing rate. Hard sounds and short words increase speed, soft sounds and long words slow your reading down.

I’m guessing the pace should pick up just before the ending. I’ll find out when I watch class later on. My friends at Pro Writing Aid also had a free training session last week, I missed that one, too. It’s about editing your book once – the right way. I love what I’m hearing here. There probably will not be time for that, either. No problem, I have time to watch it later, too. I’m a member of Pro Writing Aid since I purchased their software last year to help edit my novels.

I’m working on my 500th blog post. It will happen in just a few days, Saturday to be exact. On Saturday, I’ll have some really great news to announce for my writing, especially my children’s book. Don’t forget to check in if you’re not a daily reader. I’m pretty excited about it. Stay tuned for more fun!

Life is really an adventure. We had a new furnace, air, and water heater installed yesterday. The water is HOT!; the furnace makes no noise whatsoever. The old one sounded like putting on the brakes of an old rusty truck, and a series of loud grinding noise. I’m so glad that noise stopped. Turns out, the blower motor was warped and rusted. I knew it didn’t sound right. Thanks, Dad! You taught us to listen to cars, machinery, water, and any kind of motors. I’ve used the skill many times.

Have a beautiful day. I’m off for more medical stuff. Be kind. Be helpful. Be thoughtful. Be happy. It’s such a good day to be alive. See you tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Busy Thursday

Today started early but the blog didn’t. I had a 7:15 a.m. appointment with my neurosurgeon today. More tests are coming to figure out some pesky rib pain. They are so thorough, they read the entire story of me from my chart before they talked to me. I imagine they started early! The history of my spine issues began in 1995, when both I and my neuro guy were young. How great they look at the whole picture, since it is a story where one thing has deteriorated after another, so they need to know the whole thing. I love that. This is not the neuro who did my surgery.

The thought is the ribs are affected by the scoliosis that has developed over the past 25 years. They may be pinching nerves by now. An MRI will tell. Thank goodness for the miracle of diagnostic testing; IF your insurance company approves. C’mon, Aetna! I’ve got a lot to do! I’d like to be a little more comfortable.

While waiting for the x-ray at the surgical hospital complex (this group of doctors owns the whole complex), I was reading Michael J. Fox’s newest book, “No Time Like The Future.” I became very lost in his story.

His description of what the Parkinson’s feels like to his body is amazing. He talks of the amount of planning and execution necessary to walk from his office, make a right turn, another right turn, and a third is masterful. His description of the way his therapy may help him become a multi-tasker again is handled with such grace. My admiration of his fight and positive attitude has multiplied a thousand fold. The chapter, “What to Expect From My Back In The Future,” is so well done. His sense of humor has never wavered. His description of the tumor in his spine caused my mind to flash back to the discovery of my spine tumor. Mine was an arachanoid cyst, his was an ependyoma cyst.

Like mine, his reared it’s ugly head and there was huge risk if surgery was done or not. Either way is a crap shoot. Mine was entwined around the spinal cord, his was right down in the fibers or the spinal cord, and required delicate 5 hour surgery. Mine was an 8 hour surgery. The next day, my face looked like a cabbage patch doll. From lying on my stomach for eight hours and more, the fluids all pooled around my face, which was the lowest point for all those hours.

I was surprised at how emotional I felt while reading this part of the book. I thought it was “handled,” I thought since it was so far back in my life it wouldn’t affect me, but it did. I have often thought how lucky I was paralysis didn’t become my life; I’m even luckier today to still be moving independently. About every five years, I can tell there has been substantial loss of ability and movement with ease. It’s the way it is. I am confident the keen eye and steady hand of the doctors I have will keep me going for a long time. Michael J. Fox may not have that luxury, with his PD advancing so much.

I will read the rest of his story with gratitude, I will pray for him all the way. He has done so much for people with PD, and has done it with grace and humor. He is grateful to his wife for her upbeat attitude when his isn’t. They have had a family while fighting this battle; they have done good for the world while in the trenches. I salute them both, and their children, who are now adults.

While we relax tonight and plan for another day, be kind to your people. Be grateful for your good health. I’m glad the Babe and I started the Keto Diet in November. I’ve lost a little more than twenty pounds, and so has the Babe. Slower than we would have liked, but we’re still having progress. It will help us as we continue aging.

Be Kind, Let’s not argue about who did what in Washington, it will rile up your blood pressure. That’s bad for your health, and arguing only makes it worse. Goading people into arguing is ridiculous. Bad language is not the way. There is plenty of blame to pass around, and many people are guilty of very bad, reprehensible behavior. Pray for our great country. I want her to continue for another two hundred plus years. Let’s help her get there. We are American’s first. Let’s concentrate on that.

Just a Regular Thursday

Meetings tonight at the Post. Then we’re done for the month, we hope. Just listening to some tunes and getting inspired for creating today. I have a picture quilt, a panel I layered and need to quilt. If I can see to thread the machine needle, I believe clear invisible thread (rather than smoky) should give a nice outline.

It’s been another busy week, and I sometimes wish to sleep until I wake up on my own. Does anyone do that anymore? The dogs wake the Babe, and he lets me sleep until 7. I’ve got a lot more pain since the weather turned cold. I expect it, and it’s become a measure of the next level of my disability.

Like clockwork, the updated news presents itself in areas such as what hurts and how much? Does it come and go? Does stretching help? Not so much anymore. Does that sharp pain change at all during the day? How about at night? The ache, how does it respond to ice or heat? Was it like this last year? When did it start? Does it ever stop hurting? And so on. Sometimes I just don’t recall. I should journal these changes, but I just don’t think of it.

Our mom has had her complete life of mobility, few restrictions, and at 91 concentrates a lot on what she can’t do anymore. As a person who has had restrictions from the age of 42 until now, I try to point out to her how grateful she should be. I’m used to things I can no longer do. My height has shrunk so I can no longer reach items on the top shelf in the cupboards. Right now, I can ask the Babe for help. He’s so good to me.

You know, this keto thing is really something. It works. Nothing dramatic like sixty pounds in thirty days or anything, I suppose if you were an exercise nut you could do that, but we’re quite happy with what we are losing. The Babe has lost 20-25 pounds and I’ve probably lost 15 – 20. It really shows. And we feel it. Even during the holidays, I just don’t want the awful stuff we used to fill up on.

We may break the sugar addiction yet! Sometimes I would like to have a Midnight Dark Milky Way bar. I just wouldn’t eat the whole thing at once. Yes, I’d love some nice warm bread with butter melting all over it. Just not now. I have some more pounds to shed. Growing up in the 1950s, they often used food as a reward. Common, but not a good thing to do. Especially when your Mom baked the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. When bullied at school, I’d reach in the cookie jar and take several cookies to my room. I always felt better after that. Our parents would say, “Just ignore them, they’ll stop making fun of you.” It still hurt, although we didn’t cry in front of the bullies.

Retirement. Freedom to Create!

What a glorious thing to come out of what folks are calling the worst year ever. Losing weight and a sugar addiction. It feels good. I can frame 2020 as a horrid year. It’s frightening to look at and wonder where we will be a year from now; OR I can frame this year as a year to be so grateful; we haven’t had COVID; we have lost no one to it, and we have a comfortable life with each other. We’re relatively healthy, aside from aging bodies. We have a firm belief in God and pray. And we trust in God. He knows what’s best.

Goldie LOVES her new Charlie Brown Snowman from Bark Box.

Wherever you find yourself today, be kind. Be thoughtful. Be Courteous. Be Safe. Let’s stay well until we can get vaccinated and build up immunities. Wash up and wear your mask. It’s the least we can do. Keep your spirits up. I’m as happy as Goldie is with her new toy. Thanks and see you tomorrow!