Saturday, September 24, 2016

A system for idiots

When living abroad, it's impossible not to compare the new place with your experiences from the past. During the past eight years I've found many things I like about the USA, and many I just can't stand.

I love flavored coffee and flavored mashed potatoes. I love that gas is cheap.

I am disgusted by the healthcare system, weak animal rights laws, and people's unwillingness to care for the less fortunate. To me, it is self evident that the stronger must care for the weaker. Here, many people have an attitude of, "I don't care - I'm keeping my money." Or, "All the homeless people are just lazy. People on unemployment are lazy and watch TV. Immigrants just come here to get welfare."

I've even encountered people who have asked how I can be good at math when I'm a woman. Because, you know, the female brain would logically be smaller than the male, so women must be dumber.

On the other side of the coin, there are many fantastic, wonderful, dedicated people. So many people do so much good to outweigh the bad, out of no other reasons than wanting to help, that it can restore a person's faith in humanity. People work selflessly around the clock to feed the hungry, build houses for the homeless, and care for those in need.

You don't see that in Sweden, at least not to the same extent, because our society is so different.

One thing I don't like here, and I think it's the root to many problems, is that it's becoming a society built for idiots. I'm not saying the American people are idiots, at least not yet, but so much has been geared towards selling things through relieving people from the need to think.

Religion is an example. In the USA, I have met some truly devoted people who live like they learn and do incredible amounts of good.

There are also huge churches with extremely rich pastors - funded by the congregations - that have nothing to do with faith. Sure, the congregations slap stickers on their cars about, "Keep Christ in Christmas," or "What Would Jesus Do," but what really happened is that they've been spoon-fed tiny pieces of a book. Only pieces that fits their pastor and his or her agenda. They've turned off their brains and have no interest in thinking or learning. Actually, many have told me that learning is detrimental, because knowing things would cause them not to act on faith.

I have met many people who don't have an opinion of their own on anything - they have to ask their pastor what to think.

"What do you think about the price of gas?"
"I don't know. I have to ask my pastor." "

What do you think about the war in [wherever, there's always a war]"
"I don't know. I have to ask my pastor."

I even met one young woman who was falling for a young man in her bible class, but she wanted to ask her pastor if it would be okay for her to date him.

I guess if this makes them happy that's fine, but it is counterproductive for growth. If you have a society with a dictator, it's convenient to have a population who will obey without question. A democracy requires people to think and make independent decisions.

Up until now I still haven't cared all that much about the "system for idiots" because besides being annoying it hasn't affected me personally.

Now, I have to stage my house.

The goal is to get as much money as possible for my home. I get that, and I need money. Since the house is located in the USA, I have to adapt to the real estate market here. I get that too.

It's still stupid.

As a Swede, I consider a real estate transaction an affair that involves real estate. I sell or buy a piece of land that may have a building.  If there is a building, I'm interested in the shape.

In the USA, you sell or buy a dream.

Turn on any home improvement channel and you'll see what I mean. People are herded from house to house, looking at furniture that has been rented for the sake of home staging, saying, "Oh look, I could sit here and read when I come home from work. And look at that table, what a perfect spot for morning coffee."

This is my favorite: someone stares at an antique urn or an expensive sculpture and says, "Look at the decor. This place is beautiful."

You could just as well lead them through a furniture store. I always wonder if they're surprised when they arrive to move in and the house is empty. Because, that's what they bought: a house.

If the house isn't fully staged, because an actual human still lives in it, the comments become even dumber. They look into a closet the size of my bedroom and say, "It looks a little cramped" - because the person living there has more clothes than an H&M store. The point when looking at a closet is, will your clothes fit there?

I suspect these comments and reactions are staged too, because it pre-programs people on what to see when buying, so they will spend more money without thinking about it.

As a Swede, my first instinct when wanting to sell my house is to fix things on it - not rearrange the furniture, rent new furniture, or hang a lamp. When my agent realized I really don't understand, he gave me a list of things to do. Today, I'm taking all my books to storage, and I'm building a fake bed out of air mattresses, so people will want to curl up and fall asleep in the back bedroom.

The inner viking says I shouldn't comply, because doing so is detrimental to the common good, but this time she'll have to sit down and be quiet, because I really need to sell my house. I'm broke, lol.

Consider this: if you never have to think, if you're constantly encouraged not to think and you have everything spoon-fed to you, will you know how to think when you need to? 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Halloween is the time...

I normally try to avoid discussing religion, because it's such a loaded subject. And, in my country it's considered polite to have a "live and let live" approach - you can believe whatever you want as long as you don't involve other people.

That being said, I consider myself Wiccan. I feel that the Scandinavian flavor of Wicca differs from the American, but that's not the point. I identify with many elements of Wicca, such as a reverence for nature and respect for other people. The Wiccan rede is basically, do what's right for you, but don't harm anyone.

The law of threes is also a big thing: whatever you send out to the world will come back to you threefold. Send out love and you shall receive love. Send out malice, and you will receive malice. Send out kindness and joy, you get the idea.

I also carry a pentacle as a necklace. I've carried it for at least fifteen years and I suspect it has become such an integral part of who I am that people don't notice it.

Anyway, today at work I sat in the break room, having lunch in peace and quiet. We were talking about black cats and one of our volunteers said, "Halloween is the time when them witches and covens sacrifice black cats, and there are cat parts everywhere."

That is not a thing a Wiccan would do. Animals are our friends and will be protected. Many wiccans are vegetarians. Remember the law of threes; if you are cruel, cruelty will come back to you threefold.

I guess some satanistic cult might do a thing like that, but not "them witches and covens." And I still have a hard time imagining cat parts everywhere.

"I'm sorry, what?"

He sounded patient. "Where I used to live, them witches and covens sacrifice cats, so no one adopts out cats in the month of October."

I thought, "Do you really not see the huge star hanging from my neck?" but decided to keep a calm and neutral approach.  I said, "That doesn't sound right."

"It's true. I wouldn't believe it either if I hadn't seen it."

I hurried to gobble down the rest of my food and fled back to my desk.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Challenge for the Giving Challenge

In my corner of Florida, there's something called The Giving Challenge where organizations raise money during an intense 24-hour period. This is Cat Depot's biggest fundraiser of the year, and the money helps us help thousands of cats every year.

So far so good.

My problem: everyone at Cat Depot has an assignment: to ask people we know to help. I am awful at this. I hate asking people I know for money, so this will probably be my one big attempt. :-)

What's cool about it is that donors new to the Giving Challenge will have their contributions matched 2:1. That means, if you give the kitties $25, they will get $75. If you participated last year your contribution will still be doubled, so $25 will become $50.

If you participate because I ask so nicely, I'd love for you to do it in memory of Mike. He would have liked that, and it would mean a lot to me. Cat Depot has been my "safe place" during everything that has happened this last year. It is an organization filled with truly dedicated people, creating miracles for cats. If you're in the area, come in and ask for a tour. The building is like a Tardis: definitely bigger on the inside.

The Giving Challenge is active September 20-21. It is possible to pledge now and get a reminder when the time comes.

Thank you!


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Friday, September 9, 2016

Moment of self-insight, lol

I like to think I have a pretty good view of who I am, and of how I will react in certain situations. Today I had a rare moment of self-insight, showing I might not be the great heroic figure my imagination paints out.

Let's back up to the beginning: my daytime job has cats. It's awesome - they're everywhere. 

Cats are agile, many are very curious, and some are extremely energetic. No matter how safe an environment you try to create, some will find a way to get themselves into trouble. We even had one who tried to open doors through balancing on the door handles. Today, fate combined an adventure-cat with a place she shouldn't be and a moment when no one was watching. 

Result: cat stuck in a high place unable to get down.

My roommate's first instinct when we heard was to save the cat. He went to get a ladder.

My first instinct was to grab the camera. I had it in my hand before he'd even taken two steps away from the chair.

I like to think I would have helped the cat. Truth is, it would probably have been after snapping photos, and while grumbling about how scary it is to climb ladders - my balance is pitiful. Odds are I would have fallen with the cat. Or, she would have tired of waiting for me to find the ladder, attempted to jump down, and broken something.

Good thing my roommate was there.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Please vote for Covert Identity!

I got an e-mail from Ind'Tale Magazine today, saying my cover for Covert Identity has been chosen for a contest. Please vote! :-)

The cover is made by Taria Reed, and the book published with Desert Breeze Publishing.

To vote, follow this link: http://indtale.com/polls/creme-de-la-cover-contest

And, you're looking for this:

Sunday, July 31, 2016

What to do now?

After everything that happened, it's too soon to make any major life decisions. But, I must admit I've been longing to go home for quite some time. I miss my country. Florida is hot, muggy, and crowded. Sometimes I think there are more cars in this city than in all of Sweden.

I do like Cat Depot. I like the people at Cat Depot - I have some really great friends there - and naturally the cats at Cat Depot. What else... I like that gas is cheap, and I really like Hazelnut coffee. Gas in Sweden has always been expensive, and unless it made a leap across the ocean in the last couple of years, we do not have hazelnut coffee.

Not sure those things are enough to keep me in a foreign country.

One of my friends asked what exactly I miss. I think she expected me to answer my family or my friends. Of course I miss my mom and my friends. I have some fantastic friends in Sweden.

But, thanks to modern technology, it's possible to keep in touch even with an ocean in between. If and when I move back there, I will miss the friends I had here, and hopefully keep in touch with them too.

I want Swedish culture. I miss the things everyone do around the holidays - our holidays. I miss the taste of Swedish food. I miss vacations and paid holidays. And, I miss the Swedish spirit. It's difficult to explain, but it's the difference between staying to the side in an aisle in the grocery store, making sure you're not in other peoples' way, or running others down with your cart just because you can.

On the other hand, Sweden is cold, dark, and snowy. Sometimes an entire summer rains away. If I move back, I will lose a lot of my English, which will make being a writer more difficult.

Going through Mike's things and fixing up the house will take time. Listing it for sale will also take time. After that, I guess we'll see what happens. Going home and moving my pets home would require a fair amount of money. I am concerned that once I get there I won't like it at all and want to go back here - that could happen.

Decisions, decisions...

 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I'm a widow

When I was a little girl, I imagined a widow as a very old person with wrinkly face, body bent by time, and arthritic hands. In my mind, widows always wore layers of black, and clutched their black veils.

I never imagined it to be me.

A couple of days ago, it happened anyway.

Five-year-old me would have found 44 quite old, but still not old enough to fit her stereotype. 44-year-old me feels I'm decades too young for this. Relationships start and end, it happens all the time, but usually not like this.

Predictably, my feelings are a roller-coaster. Mike spent the last couple of months in the hospital, at hospice, and in a nursing home, and that makes it easier. I was already getting used to him not being here. I still expect him to show up at any moment, or send a text.

Whenever something share-worthy happens, my first instinct is still to snap a photo and send it to him. It will take a long time before that passes.

There is grief of course, and relief. No one should have to suffer pain like he did. He was sick for years, in pain for years.

From time to time I'm angry with him, for many different reasons, and that makes me feel guilty - you're not really supposed to be angry with people who are dead. I'm guessing all this is normal.

I'm spending the week hiding at Cat Depot. It's my favorite hiding spot, filled with friendly cats and people who act normal. I wasn't going to, but when people started texting me about getting Mike's things mere hours after he passed, I decided going to work was the perfect excuse not to have to deal with anyone.

Some people have shown up with lists of items they feel entitled to, because at some point in time Mike mentioned they could have this or that. Of course I'll share memories of him and stuff doesn't mean all that much to me, but maybe give me a couple of days to re-find my footing?

Also, I'm not sure I'm willing to give away the few things he had that are worth actual money when he left me with tens of thousands of dollars in bills. Saying how this expensive item has a great sentimental value to you doesn't give you any points when I'm selling everything I have - items I've had for decades and brought to America from Sweden - to try to catch up.

Oops, guess anger showed its ugly face again.

Mike's family have arranged a get together for Friday. After that, I intend to cuddle my pets. After that, not sure.

I guess I can do whatever I want - it will take some time getting used to that too.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Sorcerer - it's here!

My new book is here! Yippee! I'm very excited about this one.  The Sorcerer is available as e-book now, and should be out as paperback in a few days. 


Blurb:



When Anne accepts a job in a German boarding school for gifted children, her main concern is surviving without California’s sunshine and beaches. She doesn’t anticipate anything more dangerous than getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Nowhere does her work description mention three men betting on who will get her into bed first, or being rescued by the reclusive math teacher David Lindeman, a man her new friends claim is evil incarnate.

The old castle houses many secrets, and as days go by Anne finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality and superstition. She becomes a reluctant participant in an ancient battle between good and evil, and to survive, she must channel a power from deep within herself she could never have imagined. Who can she trust in a world where myths become real and nothing is what it seems?

Excerpt: 


"Go back that way. The third door to the left leads to an old staircase. Be careful, the wood is old. It will take you to a back room in the archive. I'm sure you can find your way from there."
It wasn't the way she came in, but that didn't matter. 
She caught a glimpse of the other man's face over David's shoulder. He stared at her in a strange way, like a famished person who sees food for the first time in days.
"Thank you, Professor. I wish there were a GPS version of you. You're the only one around here who gives directions that make sense."
"Yes, I'm quite wonderful. Now go."
She took a couple of steps, but paused and glanced back. David held his position between her and the other man, and she could swear she saw glowing red eyes behind him.
"Maybe you should come with me?"
"Just go."
He hadn't raised his voice, but he didn't need to. She heard the urgency anyway and hurried along the corridor as fast as she could without running. 
Behind her, she heard David's voice. "No. She is not for you."
The reply sounded more like an animal than a person, and she broke out in a full run.
First door, second door, third door...
The wood was crooked and swollen, and for a panicked moment she didn't think the gateway to safety would open.
David's voice reached her from a distance. "...and I said, 'No.'"
Sounded like a battle of wills. Hopefully, the creepier guy wouldn't win.
She gave one final hard tug and the door squeaked open. When she pulled it shut behind her she thought she heard someone shout.
Just the old hinges and your imagination.
One part of her claimed she should go back and see if David was alright.
A bigger part said she should listen to him and get a move on. If she could open the door, others could too. Other... things.
She stood in a small space barely lit by a dusty bulb. A narrow wooden staircase led upwards, into darkness. 
He wasn't kidding. This thing is ancient.
She scaled it one step at a time like a little girl, testing her weight on each step before relying on it. A couple squeaked too much or felt like they would give way, and she took a large step over them.
The spiders in the corners appeared the size of kittens.
Nothing approached from behind, but she kept glancing back, hearing imaginary footsteps.
It took a long time to get to the archive and from there to the ground floor.

Click here to see the book on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Interesting neighborhood development

If you follow me you've probably seen an extensive amount of whining about my teenage neighbors. They've been up to a lot o no good. I thought they were just annoying, I've assumed they were young and didn't think their actions through. I might have been mistaken.

This evening, I left my house to go visit the husband in the nursing home. Right across the road from my gate stood an unmarked police car. I thought that was odd, because the neighbors who live there are really nice and quiet.

Turning my head ever so little, I saw half a dozen more police cars. Lots of officers with bullet proof vests and masks, and the neighbor kids being dragged away in handcuffs.

I don't know what they did, but it must have been something significantly more than annoying me. There were a lot of deputies.

The youngest boy smirked and seemed to think this was the most amusing thing that could ever happen. The officers did not seem to appreciate that. The older boy's face was set in stone. I always kind of liked him, because he tried to take care of their dogs and keep his friends quiet. One time he helped me gather up another neighbor's Great Danes and fix their fence so the fur-kids wouldn't get out again.

Now I'm worried about their dog. I don't know if anyone remains in the house, but she did come by my place and I gave her a bowl of food. Then, she went home and jumped the gap in their fence. Guess I'll have to keep an eye on that, in case no one takes care of her now.

Getting another dog is the last thing on my to-do list, but if no one else cares for her...?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

They shot my house!

When I bought my house and moved in around three years ago, this was one of the calmest areas in the city. It still would be if it wasn't for the teenage neighbors across the street. I have thought - and still think - they're pretty good kids at heart. They're just teenagers, and don't think the next step when they do something.

Like, if I leave the gate open, my dog will run out and I will lose it, having to go around the neighborhood calling for it at 2:30 in the morning, which will tick off all my neighbors who are sleeping.

You know, that kind of thing.

Lately they got a BB rifle. BB rifles are fun, I love shooting them myself. Though, since I've reached an age of well over 40 I realize that if I miss my target the BB will keep going and hit something further down the road. Thus, only fire airguns - and other weapons - in a secure area.

The neighbors haven't quite reached that level of awareness. Lately they've shot my car - I had to get a new windshield on Monday - and my house. There's a big hole in one of my office windows.

How do I know it was made by a BB?

Well, I found it.

How do I know they did it?

I've seen them with a BB rifle. No one else along the street plays with one.

Naturally, they're mostly out and about when I'm not, so I put a note on their fence asking them to please pretty please stop shooting in my direction and explaining that I can't afford to keep fixing stuff they break. Besides nuisances they're up to a mailbox, a tail light on my car, a windshield, and now a house window.

Yes, I did talk to the Sheriff's office too, and they started a file. I don't want to press charges against the kids just yet, I don't think going to juvie will make a thoughtless 15-year old or whatever age they might be any better, but the deputies did promise to put the neighborhood on their list for increased patrols. Hopefully things will calm down on their own.

Keeping fingers crossed for nothing more being destroyed, and for a calm 4th of July holiday.

Other weird stuff, this showed up in my yard the other day. It was on the lawn, packed in saran wrap.
I take it as evidence that more of my neighbors than just the kids are dingbat crazy.


If you made a sermon you're so proud over that you want to spread it, maybe it would be a good idea to write who you are. I mean, how else will I know who to thank or follow or whatever? I guess it might be mentioned in the sermon, but I'm not putting that thing into my equipment. It could be anything.

It's probably completely harmless, an over enthused religious person preaching about Natalie Wood and whatever, but in an area where people shoot your house, better safe than sorry.
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Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Sorcerer, coming soon!

Life has put up a good fight against writing lately, too much going on, but I accomplished something: the final round of edits for The Sorcerer are done and submitted!

I am very excited about this book and I hope you will be too. To be released early July.

Blurb:

When Anne accepts a job in a German boarding school for gifted children, her main concern is surviving without California’s sunshine and beaches. She doesn’t anticipate anything more dangerous than getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Nowhere does her work description mention three men betting on who will get her into bed first, or being rescued by the reclusive math teacher David Lindeman, a man her new friends claim is evil incarnate.

The old castle houses many secrets, and as days go by Anne finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality and superstition. She becomes a reluctant participant in an ancient battle between good and evil, and to survive, she must channel a power from deep within herself she could never have imagined. Who can she trust in a world where myths become real and nothing is what it seems?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Weird events around my house

I live on a corner lot and my house is fenced in on all four sides. I didn't plan it like this, the house had the fence when I moved in, but I like it. It's great for the dogs, and normally enough to keep unwanted solicitors and religious people wanting to spread the good word away from the front door.

Across the road from me lives a group of unsupervised teenagers. I think they might have an adult living there right now, but they've been alone a large part of the spring. They're sweet kids, but they're also teenagers, and from time to time strange things happen.

Like, one day when I came home to a yard filled with softballs.

For the longest time they didn't have anyone driving, so they would walk to the store, take a cart back, and leave it at my house. Annoying, and if someone dumps a cart a day outside your gate, you get a lot of them quickly.

I went to talk to the kids about it, and they were understanding.

A couple of days later, there was a stack of baskets instead.

Annoying, but also really, seriously funny!

Not so funny was the day when they played football on the road and ruined one of the rear lights on my car along with my mailbox, but that's another story.

This fine evening something else strange happened. I visited Mike in the hospital, went to the store, and came home right after eight. Here in Florida, that's late enough to be getting dark. I was preoccupied by a discussion at the hospital - they want to set up a hospice thing for him in my house and I really don't want that - so I didn't pay attention at first. I let the dogs out and put the groceries away.

When I went back outside to call the dogs, I decided to walk around the house. On a tree in the middle of the yard hung a long, white shoelace. In order to get there, someone must have jumped the fence.

Admittedly, it could have been dropped by a bird, but it was so neat.

Back home I wouldn't have paid much attention to it. I would have assumed the bird-theory was correct. After eight years in the USA, surrounded by gangs and dog fighting rings, and being fed conspiracy theories through the Internet, I'm significantly more paranoid.

And, in my defense, I'm a bit rattled after losing my Bonnie just days ago and Mike ending up in the hospital. The doctors say he's on the last stretch.

I called the dogs inside, muttering, "If you want to steal my dogs you'll have to deal with one armed and bad-ass momma," locked the door, went to get my gun, and called the Sheriff's office.

I said, "I feel like an idiot even saying this, but I have to ask... Is this a sign or something? You know, all the crap one reads on the Internet about dog thieves and such has made me paranoid."

We have the best deputies you can imagine, and none of the people I talked to laughed, even though I really felt like an idiot voicing my concern. They also knew nothing about a shoe-lace gang. We have many, many, many gangs in this city, but none is known for using shoe-laces. Haha.

I'm thinking, either it really was a bird, or the kids dared each other to enter the yard. I'll still keep an extra eye on things for a while. Just in case there are puppy-stealing, shoe-lace-wielding maniacs out there.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My princess is gone

Today was an extremely tough day for me. My Bonnie, my princess, my furry daughter and best friend is gone. 

I knew she was going to cross the Rainbow Bridge sometime soon - her congestive heart failure was getting bad - but no matter how much your brain knows something is going to happen, your heart is never prepared.

She seemed very tired yesterday, but was perkier this morning. We took a walk around the house and had breakfast - I'm very happy I let her taste everything she wanted - and then I set out to the store.

When I returned, she got up to meet me, but slowly. Then, she fell over. I feel that she waited for me to come home, to say goodbye.

In a way I'm happy that she passed at home where she felt safe and happy. That in no way makes me miss her less.

Rest in peace my Bonnie. One day I'll see you again, on the other side. Until then, know that mommy loves you. I have always loved you and I will always love you.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Homesick

I have lived in the USA since 2008, and for the most part Florida agrees with me. It hasn't always been smooth sailing of course, life rarely is, but I was pretty sure I had settled down and wanted to stay.

Good Friday this year, that changed. It was as if someone flipped a switch in my head. We were talking about holidays at work and I said, "Back home, at my old job, I would have worked a half day yesterday, and Easter is a four-day holiday."

I might only be a three-day holiday now, I know we moved one paid day off to get the new national holiday on June 6th, but I can't remember which holiday we took it from. Either way, Swedes like paid holidays.

One of my colleagues said, "Wow. How do you manage that?"

As she finished the sentence I thought, "Damn, I really want to go home."

Just like that I missed everything Sweden.



I missed "fikaraster" - the Swedish coffee break that is protected by law, it's a time when people come together and chat over a cup of coffee. I missed our abundance of vacation days, being able to go to the doctor without worrying about the bill, having all these paid holidays us Swedes love so much, Swedish pizza, tasty water from the tap without chlorine and chemicals, and a million other little things.

I know many Americans will react with a knee-jerk move. "If you like it so much, you should go back."

You know what? I will. I've been thinking about it ever since Easter. I'm not sure how - moving across an ocean with pets is more complicated than it looks at first glance - but it will be my new goal.

I'm just so tired of crowds, traffic jams, people hitting me with their shopping carts in the stores, people waving their religion in my face and screaming I'll go to hell if I don't repent, hatred towards other religions, sexual preferences, colors, genders, you name it.

There are crazy people everywhere, but the average Swede doesn't care what deity you believe in, which restroom you use, or any of all that stuff that gets Americans all worked up. That is, we don't care as long as you leave us out of it. If you try to pull us into your whatever-it-might-be we will resist.

Many things aren't perfect in Sweden. I remember many things that drove me crazy when I lived there. But things aren't perfect here either.

There are a couple of things keeping me here. The husband, but seeing life in a flash of reality, he will either die or get better. Seeing that he currently weighs maybe 90 pounds and is unable to rise up on his own, the former is significantly more likely than the latter. And, there's Cat Depot. I love my job, the cats, and my colleagues. However, with the Internet, it's possible to be friends over a distance.

I'm sure the pets won't appreciate the move when it comes, they'll hate the long flight, but they'll get over it.

As much as I hate snow and being cold, I come from a land of ice and snow, and it's getting time to embrace it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What kind of music do you like?

Music is a big deal to me. It can trigger so many moods and emotions, slow down time, or speed it up. Which type of music depends on the day, but I'm generally a rock kind of girl.

In Sweden we have something called "dansbandsmusik" - I don't have a good translation for it, but I hate it. Refrains can still sneak into my mind and replay themselves at the most inappropriate moments. Weirdest thing.

Like this one. I can't stand this song, but I hear it in my head all the time.

I think my subconscious likes to torture me, hahaha!



Here in the USA, I hate country music. I think it's related to the "dansbandsmusik."

Unfortunately, one of my neighbors loves country - especially the really self-pitying kind with lots of steel guitars and violins. He likes to play it really loud outdoors. You know, to make sure he can hear it in case he goes inside and accidentally closes the door...

Jazz music makes me nervous. It's because of the drummers, they're so syncopated and think they're really cool, but I can almost feel my blood pressure rising. lol!

I also often say that I hate rap music. That turned out to not be entirely true.

Me, in the car. "I really hate rap music."

Husband, "So, why are you listening to this?"

Me, "What? Oh no, this is Mike Shinoda. He doesn't count. I love Mike Shinoda."

Husband, "Oookay."



Five minutes later.

"I thought you said you hate rap music."

"This is Prince and the New Power Generation. Doesn't count. They had melodies and stuff."



Five minutes later, I'm singing along to "Cleaning out my closet" all happy.

Husband, "Again, you say you hate rap music."

"Mm-hm. But I kind of like Eminem. At least some Eminem songs. Catchy refrains. I don't like the kind the neighbor kids play. You know, a guy talking to a bass drum."

Husband rolls his eyes.


Yeah, I'm getting old. Clearly!

What music do you like? What types of music can't you stand?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Catcalling and compliments

I ended up in an interesting discussion on Facebook. One of my friends - female - shared a blog post that included this screen dump of a tweet. My friend added the comment, "Your right to speak to me does not trump my right to feel safe."

Predictably, one if her friends - male - wrote, "You feel safe when someone says you're cute?"

That comment sums up the problem perfectly.

No one answered him, probably a wise decision, but I was in one of those moods when it's hard to shut up. I had to comment, and leaned back to see what would happen. I know no one ever changed anyone's mind on Facebook, but sometimes you just have to, lol.


By now I am well over 40. Life has stacked up more than a fair share of problems, and the mirror shows a tired woman with silver in her hair and sagging boobs. The thing is, at this point in life, I don't care. I have other things on my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, I was dressed up and heading out to an event at work. I was going there to work, taking photos, and I stopped in a McDonalds drive-through on the way, thinking a cup of coffee would help keep me alert.

The young man in the window smiled and said, "Are you going somewhere? Because you look very beautiful."

That was a compliment, said without thought of getting something, and it made my day. I arrived to my event smiling, because he was so nice to me.

Cat calling is something completely different. A couple of weeks before the McDonalds compliment, I went to KFC on my way home from work. 

There was a skinny man, sweaty, lacking most of his teeth. He fixed his eyes on me and said, "You wouldn't look bad if you took care of yourself."

I ignored him and another customer muttered, "Yeah, you're the one to say that."

He stepped closer. "I said, you wouldn't look bad if you took care of yourself."

Am I really supposed to be grateful for that sort of attention? 

A lot of snarky comments came to mind, but I bit them all down and just muttered, "Right."

"What? I'm not good enough for you? c**t"

At that point, the people working in the restaurant asked him to leave. It became my turn, I ordered, paid, got my stuff, and headed for the door. Through the window I could see the man leaning against the wall right outside.

As a woman, you're well aware that men are stronger than you are. Even the small ones. I'm also well aware that I'm not good at running, so if he wanted to keep pushing, I wouldn't be able to get away from him.

One of the other customers - a man - got up from his meal and said, "I'll walk you to your car."

Of course I was grateful. He was probably tired too and had no reason to help me, except for being a good person. It still struck me as sad that as a woman, even in the year 2016, I'm still dependent on the protection of men. If I don't want to argue and don't want to fight, the certain way to be left alone is to walk next to a man.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Save Samson!

When I started working at Cat Depot, a pretty white cat would greet me every morning, meowing until I entered his office. Once there, he'd sit on my lap and snuggle. Samson was my first Cat Depot crush, and I was unhappy when he was adopted. Though, I had only been there for a couple of weeks, and life went on. 

A pretty black cat in the same office took over the meowing and morning greeting, and he eventually became my cat: Koda.

I've heard many writers claim they need a cat to write. Seems to work the opposite way for me; I've rarely been so unproductive as after adopting Koda, but that's okay.

I digress. This is supposed to be about Samson.

For a couple of months after Samson's adoption, I kept my eyes on the cat database, just in case they brought him back. Nothing happened, and I assumed that everything went well. I had a nagging, unpleasant feeling, but time soothed it. After a couple of months, I stopped looking.

Imagine my surprise when one of my colleagues approached me a couple of weeks ago, saying, "Did you know that Samson is back?"

I did not know, but finding him only took a few seconds. He was in a cage in admittance, where they check the health of incoming kitties before they're ready to meet the public.

I pretend that he recognized me. He's a friendly cat who loves everyone, but I'm still pretending he recognizes me and that I'm special.

Be that as it may, Samson had developed a problem. A big problem: kidney stones.

Many forms of kidney stones in cats can be dissolved through diet. Samson's are of the kind that can't be dissolved. Of course.

He has so much kidney stones that they cause blockages and impair kidney function. I'm certainly not a vet - I'm barely qualified to put Band-Aids on humans - but it sounds like something that would hurt.

He was moved to an office, because moving around is better for him than sitting still in a cage. Probably more fun too. I offered fostering him while waiting for treatment, but our shelter vet said he's too sick. He needs to be close by so they can take samples and such.

It's kind of hard to work with that little face looking out at you. Isn't he adorable? Every morning when I come to work, he meows and meows until I go in and visit him.

Then, this happens. Cat on lap!


My friends at Cat Depot have informed me that without surgery, Samson will cross the Rainbow Bridge in not too long. Because everyone needs at least one kidney to survive. He has been to several specialists outside our own medical team, and the shelter vet is discussing with University of Florida. They are prepared to perform the life-saving procedures he needs, but estimate a cost of $5,500.

That's a lot of money.

I'm the grant person. If I can raise the money, Samson will have his surgery and live. 

If I fail, well, let's not think too much about that. Failure is not an option.

If you want to help Samson get the long and happy life he deserves, there's a donation form here. Or, maybe you would please help share him with his link. Spread the word. Together, we can save Samson.

Is one shelter cat worth saving?

Definitely.

Is Samson worth saving?

Oh yes.

This is the nicest, friendliest cat you can imagine. He greets visitors with a little meow, jumps up on their lap, and purrs, purrs, purrs with joy.



Saturday, May 14, 2016

Cover art for The Sorcerer

My next book will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing in July. I found inspiration for it when I started working for a Germany company and researched old German castles. All the images sent my imagination into overdrive. I wouldn't have known where to start making a cover for the story, luckily, talented Gwen Phifer was on top of it. I love it!




Blurb: 

When Anne accepts a job in a German boarding school for gifted children, her main concern is surviving without California’s sunshine and beaches. She doesn’t anticipate anything more dangerous than getting lost in an unfamiliar place. Nowhere does her work description mention three men betting on who will get her into bed first, or being rescued by the reclusive math teacher David Lindeman, a man her new friends claim is evil incarnate.

The old castle houses many secrets, and as days go by Anne finds it increasingly difficult to separate reality and superstition. She becomes a reluctant participant in an ancient battle between good and evil, and to survive, she must channel a power from deep within herself she could never have imagined. Who can she trust in a world where myths become real and nothing is what it seems?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Florida doesn't do anything small

The title of this post may puzzle you if you haven't spent a lot of time in Florida. Everything here is an extreme. I needed a couple of years before I realized the extent of Florida's extremes.

If it looks like a nice, sunshiny day, odds are it's 99 F (37 C). After a while here, you start thinking that 86 F (30 C) is nice and cool.

When I grew up, my mom always emphasized the importance of being outside in the sun and enjoying sunny days. In Florida that way of thinking will get you a heatstroke and possibly skin cancer.

If it's cold, it's probably not all that cold on the thermometer, but the combination of high humidity and being used to 99F makes 45 feel like the coldest it has been anywhere. Ever.



If it rains, you think investing in a car might have been a mistake - clearly you should have bought a boat. Or, built an ark. My current workplace would be understanding if weather prevented me from appearing on time, but I have had an employer who said, "It's just a tornado."



A windy day somewhere else might be an inconvenience. A windy day in Florida will blow the roof off your house.



Plants that barely survive potted in a greenhouse in other places become trees in Florida.

Big trees.



Bugs in other places are small and can be annoying. Bugs in Florida grow to the size of small birds. Or, there's a billion of them. Not joking. A billion.

Since I'm afraid of bugs I'll do everyone a favor and not include a picture of that.

Love bug season sounds cute. It is not.

Snowbird season also sounds cute. It is not. It's hard to find crowds like tourist season in Florida.

Do you have extremes where you live? What's the worst?

Friday, April 29, 2016

My fur kids

I talk a lot about my fur-kids, because they are the center of my life. =) 
Here are some photos of my babies. =)

Bonnie, my princess. She has a heart problem, but I'm hoping she'll hang in and stay with me for a long time yet. 


Topper's full name is Topper Goodbye, because he's such a good boy.


Boo Bear snuggle-bug


Ellie, beautiful girl and explosion of energy


Koda, handsomest kitty anywhere if you ask me

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bathroom-craze

If you're in the USA, you can't have missed the current bathroom debate. If you're outside the USA, let it suffice to say, people have gone insane. 
The big insanity is all about who should use which bathroom. Like, if you're a transgender fifteen year old girl, should you use the men's room or the ladies room. Or, if you're a buff 45-year old transgender man with muscles and beard, which bathroom should you go to?

To me, it seems really easy. Go where you feel comfortable and fit in.

Americans are going bonkers trying to make the girl use the men's room and the man the ladies' room, because that's the way they were born.  Makes perfect sense, right?

First of all, I never thought so many Americans would openly discuss the toilet.

Second, I think the debate stems from people fearing change. Any change. Suddenly the world doesn't conform to their ideas of what it should be, and this makes them uncomfortable. 

A question that arises in my mind is, how will you know? Are you going to lift people's skirts and check what's under them? Force a transgender man to pull down his pants to see what kind of body parts might be hiding there?

I don't care who pees in the stall next to me. I generally don't interact with the person in the stall next to me. I guess I might if there was a real bad toilet paper emergency, in which case I truly wouldn't care about the body of the person who took pity on me and helped me out. 

I do care that a female trapped in a man's body might not want to go to the men's restroom to use a urinoir, because what woman would want to do that? If you had been cursed with a different nether region than the one you have, would you want to do that? 

If it were me, I would find it humiliating and horrifying. 

And then there's the matter of a man born in a woman's body. Do you want these men to go back to using the ladies' room? Think about this before you answer, because any laws regulating these things will go both ways. If you're uncomfortable with having a transgender woman in the stall next to you, how will you feel about having a transgender man there? 

Another thing I care about is moms bringing their little boys to the ladies' room and not looking after them, so there's suddenly a kid peeking up at you from under the stall. Not because I'm shy, but because it's annoying. Children, and moms with sons, and dads with daughters need to pee too, but please stay on your side of the divider. 

And, in the spirit of truth-telling and bathrooms, I have backed away from using a public restroom once. This was in Italy, and the toilet was a tiled hole in the ground with water pouring into it. I couldn't figure out how to use it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Interesting perspective on things

Sometimes life can feel a little uphill, and it's good to put things in perspective. We live on the little dot there. Look how tiny it is. And the sun that looks so ginormous compared to the planet is really just a little speck compared to some of the giant suns out there.

Also, note how small Mars is.



I watched "The Marsian" the other day. Not a bad movie, but I kept getting hung up on problems with the science behind it all. Like, Mars is a small planet with a super-thin atmosphere. The entire premise of the movie stands on a dust storm giving the astronauts trouble, threatening to topple their craft over, and forcing them to leave prematurely.

While I think Mars has dust storms, I can't see how the wind could possibly be strong enough to cause such problems.

I must study up on this.

Yes, sometimes being a geek takes the fun out of things, but it adds a new layer of fun too, so it's all good. =)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Frontier, because it's like the wild west, or what's up with this mess?

Last fall I switched provider for Internet and TV from Brighthouse to Verizon. The main reason was that Brighthouse ticked me off through helping themselves to a large amount of money from my bank account and refusing to pay it back, but there were more factors involved in the decision.

Like, the Internet dropping out on a regular basis, Verizon tempting with a really good offer, and Verizon having a fantastic app that made the husband happy. He likes TV, and suddenly everything worked on his phone. (Brighthouse has an app too, but in our case it was more theoretical than functional, lol.) Since Mike spends so much time in different healthcare facilities, the app made a huge positive impact on his life.

I was very happy with being a Verizon customer.

Everything worked exactly as I wanted it to.

Then, they sent out the message of death: Florida customers would be transferred to Frontier.

I didn't think much about this at first. I actually forgot all about it until April 1st, when everything stopped working. We're now nine days into complete chaos. Frontier's customer service gives elusive answers like, "Everything will be solved by the ninth" - it is not - "We have to transfer millions of accounts" - not my problem - and "We don't know when the problems will be resolved, but we're working on it."

Great.

Because there aren't enough problems in the world without something like this?

Of course it takes time to transfer all these user accounts, but they must have known that before they started, right?

The only thing they seem really interested in is getting paid. I have several times gotten the reply, "But if you need to pay your bill, we can help you with that."

Yes, I'm sure customers are lining up to pay their bills for services that aren't functioning.

Who is your provider? Are you happy with them?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Topper and Koda

I always suspected Topper would be able to get along with a cat, and he and Koda have become quite good friends. In the beginning, Topper was afraid of the cat, but now he has figured out there's nothing to fear. 

Sometimes Koda tries to rub up against him and show love, this still freaks Topper out, but since he's a good boy he just walks away. My boys!


Friday, April 1, 2016

New book in the Embarkment 2577 saga: Interstellar Conflict

The main character in the Embarkment 2577 books - Alex - has had a rough few years. Brewing war does not make things better. Read all about it in the new installment in the Embarkment 2577 saga: Interstellar Conflict.

Blurb:

Running away rarely solves any problems, but that doesn’t prevent Alexandra from trying. Feeling sad and defeated, she doesn't care about the big picture with a galaxy on the brink of war, or about aliens taking over and controlling people’s minds. Her husband Adam hiding in a starship controlled by the enemy is a problem, but he went there willingly and she is determined not to care about that either.

Unfortunately, she may be able to run from home and family, but she can’t escape herself. And, turning her back to the world and its problems would be easier if her loved ones could refrain from throwing themselves in harm’s way.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Random photos

I took my camera out for a joyride the other day. Here are some of the results. =)

I'm normally afraid of insects, but these bees are quite friendly. And cute.





I'm also normally afraid of spiders, but these guys look like they have a smiley face on the back!


We have many different kinds of birds. They all enjoy the bird bath. Sometimes I think it's the only fresh water available for miles, because I need to refill it every other hour, lol!


Saw this squirrel on the beach, enjoying a nut. =)



I can fly!!!



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

I have a cat! =D

Koda on his first day at home,
enjoying the novelty of windows.
When I started working at Cat Depot, it was very clear that I wouldn't get a cat. Four dogs and a sick husband was enough to take care of, thank you very much. 

Of course, I wanted a cat. I used to have a cat and miss her very much. When I moved to the US, leaving her with my ex in Sweden seemed like a reasonable decision - I didn't want her to have to suffer through the long flight here - but this was a mistake. I have often regretted not bringing her.

My parents had a cat when I was born. She was black and white, and named Sputnik. Unfortunately, Sputnik was the only one who ever attempted to defend me against the crazy in the family, and she was put down as a thank you for her efforts.

I was just a baby, I can't remember her, but my mom often told me about her. I wonder if that's when my passion for animals started. I can't thank her or give anything back, but I can help the ones who are here and in trouble now.

Anyway, I digress.

Every day at Cat Depot, I go check who was adopted the previous day. I then share this happy information with the world through our website and social media. Names of the adopted are posted on a board, and the other side of the corridor holds offices.

Offices with cats - and windows.

A white cat named Samson would meow me into the office for cuddles every day. He was my first Cat Depot crush, but being a white beauty, he was adopted quickly. When he left, Koda took over the meowing duty, tempting me in for head-boops and biscuit making.

I thought Koda would be adopted quickly as well, but no one seemed interested. I kept visiting him a few times every day, and he learned to know my footsteps, so he would run to the window of whatever room held him as soon as I approached.

Months went by, and Koda's Cat Depot anniversary came closer and closer. I did everything I could think of to find him a home. I made videos, posters, wrote about him all over social media, spotlighted him on the marquee outside the building, and so on.

Nothing worked.

Koda is on special food for a urinary tract problem, and when the Christmas holiday approached he was the only one in the building needing this special food. Thus, he was alone. I wanted to take him home and foster him for the holiday, so he wouldn't have to spend it all alone, but that message kind of got lost in the holiday chaos, and Christmas and New Years came and went.

In January, he passed his anniversary. I had promised him, promised he wouldn't have to spend a year at Cat Depot.

Had it been up to me, I would have taken him home long ago, but Mike did not want a cat. Being sick has mellowed him, given more empathy for others who are in trouble, and he finally agreed that I could take Koda home, if I kept him in my office in the back of the house.

A sound plan since Princess Bonnie is infamous for not liking cats. And I spend most of my time in the office anyway.

January 9th, Koda came to my house. I worried that he would be upset by hearing the dogs, but he couldn't have cared less. Oh the joy of seeing him explore, and being able to give him his very own cat trees and toys!

Today, he became officially mine. And you know what? I've seen Mike kiss the cat.


Monday, January 11, 2016

It's here! Covert Identity!

I started writing Covert Identity several years ago, I think it was in 2012, and I didn't think it would ever be finished. Now it's not just finished - it is published by Desert Breeze Publishing! This is my first book set in present time, on Earth, in Florida.

If you have read this or any of my other books, please leave a review. It means the world to authors.

Blurb:

Normally, law abiding Sharon Vaughan would have nothing to do with a Harley riding criminal like Jimmy Shaw. The web designer’s life is well organized and arranged just the way she likes it, and that does not include bikers. The loud, large, and sometimes annoying man is still dangerously attractive, and Sharon contacts him against her better judgment. It is a matter of days before she is introduced into the dark underworld of biker gangs and crime.

Despite objections from Sharon’s logical and well-reasoning self, Jimmy is a temptation difficult to resist. She never expected to fall for him, and her new project has secrets. He hasn’t told her the world she has become an unsuspecting participant in holds dangers beyond her wildest imagination. Or, that if she knew everything he hides, they could both lose their lives.