Books by Debi Ennis Binder

Fantasy worlds. Magical inhabitants. Timeless battles between Good and Evil.

Category Archives: Uncategorized

Christmas Shopping

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I’m done shopping! So happy, however, my fingers are so tired from all that Christmas shopping! Yes, I am an impersonal, lazy, online shopper. In the last few years, I have found it quite difficult to handle the crowds in stores. I get all shaky and nervous, then all sweaty and nasty. I finally have to cut it short and get out. Nothing leisurely or happy there.  Once in a while, I’ll try to sneak back into Walmart or Toys-R-Us…but this past holiday season, and the one last year, was beyond description. I won’t ever so into a large store at this time of year again.

So I discovered Amazon (among others), and everyone is happy again! Ok, some people might find that impersonal or lazy, but I spend just as much time shopping online, actually more, than the average frenzied shopper. I do more comparison shopping. I am a happier person and enjoy the holidays so much more.

Before I go, I want to let you know why I wrote this. I am a fairly honest person, and I do miss the smell of the cold and the old nip on the nose when out and about, but I don’t miss the awful crowds of loud people, no where to park, fighting over the last newest high-tech robot-killer, the endless lines at the checkouts. I miss hearing children laughing and seeing new toys, but not the ones screaming abuse at their parents and each other. I guess my point is Christmas was starting to be one long, horrible shopping trip in hell. By going online, in my jammies, with my coffee and cats, I search and pick and hunt. I think of the expressions on the faces of my loved ones when they open their weird gift, or their funny one, or the one they’ve wanted for many years. It was such a joy to finally find it.

My laptop is my new Santa.

Fantasy – Never Call it Dull

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In a recent post from Doctor MC, an author whom I follow, he says, “Lastly, fantasy means a simplified story. To explain what I mean by this, I have to tell you what a “story” is.” And he goes on to define the term story. If you follow me or my blog, you know that my books are primarily of the fantasy genre. Therefore, I felt compelled to write back to the good doctor, and gently correct some of his misconceptions.

You can find his article here: https://doctormcmadscientist.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/on-writing-fiction-and-writing-fantasy/

Here is my response.

Dear, dear Doctor,

I thought you were going to give us your thoughts about writing fiction and fantasy, but I see only your opinions on defining the two genres.

In the dry sense of defining fantasy it can mean a classification of fiction, indeed, but most who read the once-defined “swords and sorcery” kind of fantasy have a much grander of definition, where they know they will see a variety of creatures—non-familiar and not, doing magical things, fighting bad guys, triumphant good guys, all in a world that might be similar to ours, but might also be as different as orange skies and seas, blue people, and dragons soaring across the skies.

But in the sense of writing fantasy, you must first start with world-building. Your fantasy world must be developed and be a place where people can live, work, have families, and do what people do everywhere-exist. You must then create jobs, governments, laws, communities, houses, in fact, everything you would use to describe a city, town, or village anywhere in the world.

Once you have decided where and how your people will live, you must define them. Their appearance, kinds of people, their wants and dreams, what they aspire to and how they plan to get there.

In other words, fantasy must include a place where the reader can find themselves, and live the adventures alongside the characters. Because there must be adventures, that aren’t limited to our world’s rules and confines.

I don’t see a fantasy as a simplified story by any means. If anything, they are more complicated than your average work of fiction, because most of those writers are working with a civilization that already exists. They have only to decide where they will place their characters and plunk ‘em down. Half the work is already done.

You define a story quite well, but you certainly can’t be serious when you imply that fantasy doesn’t meet your definition of a story. How can you say it has no crisis, that it “goes nowhere,” that it is mundane, tedious, or relies solely on some central element that plods along (sex and violence, especially) dragging the poor reader with it.

If the writer’s story consists only of the elements you list, then no matter what the genre, it will not be an interesting story. It won’t take the reader anywhere; that reader will not get the opportunity to take a wonderful journey to a place that exists on pages and in their mind. How boring! I did note that you said ‘simplified story,’ but your sad elements could apply to any poorly written book.

I, too, would read my own books, and love the world-building and characters. Our versions of fantasies, as defined and written, are very different. But the world of books would be boring if they were the same, wouldn’t it?

Ta Da – A New Cover!

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I’m so happy to release the cover of “Summerbird’s Quest,” which will come out sometime in mid 2018. Thanks so much Adriana Musetti Dávila, for your talented, hard work! This manuscript is completed and I’m in the process of editing it so it might come out earlier (I hope!). Don’t forget, Book 1, “Summerbird’s Rise,” is available now, at it’s reduced price, only $1.99, until “Summerbird’s Quest” is released. You can find it on Amazon here:

Enjoy!

Summerbirds-Quest

The Unseelie Audience

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How many writers have ever jumped up in the middle of writing a scene and acted it out? You speak the words–if multiple parts so much the better! You go through the motions, express the emotions, use the proper facial expressions, perhaps even try out multiple ones that might better match a specific tone or words.
And then turned back to your computer to capture the moment–and four cats are standing there watching you. It’s clear from the expressions on their furry little faces that they find you quite fascinating, though not always for the right reasons. No, they are judging you…and finding you somewhat…lacking.

Don’t listen to them. They’re just upset because you weren’t using this time to feed or pet them or pay attention to them in the thousands of ways cat demand. But don’t assume for a moment that they don’t know what the Seelie or Unseelie Court is. Not for a moment…they’re still waiting for you to figure out which they belong to!

So Excited I Can Hardly Sit Still!

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Book Viral’s Magical Layout – Click Here! 

Please open my link and discover a page done for Dragon Rings that has me singing their praises! It’s beautiful and I’m so hoping it introduces my books to others who will walk into the world of Nesht and come out loving dragons as much as I do.

Please leave comments!

“Summerbird Rises” Back on Amazon

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“Summerbird Rises” has been thoroughly edited and is once again available for sale on Amazon, as I continue to edit “Summerbird’s Quest” which is Book 2, of An Act of Entreaty.

I’ve gotten quite a few requests for the second book, everyone wants to know what happened to that crazy Miffin Griffin; was Summerbird able to step up to the plate and stop depending upon the guys to save her butt; and how much magical mischief will Orkey, the cattu, get into, now that she’s met another one of her kind, a male (you have to read the book if you want to know what a cattu is). Sprites are providing too much help, Treaty seems to be deliberately eluding them, and more magical creatures keep popping up–some to help and many to harm. Can Summerbird and her band of questers–with their very strange new guide–survive to battle the evil creature that must have the magic from their homeland to survive?

Summerbird Rises (An Act of Entreaty Book 1) by [Binder, Debi Ennis]

The Dragons of Nesht – Book 2

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Dragon Rings (The Ring-Witches of Nesht Book 1) by [Binder, Debi Ennis]Updated 01/05/2018

His name is Smok, he’s a dragonlet, and he’s a pale color. The females Witches love him, the males…not so much. And the dragons see him as vermin–all he does is eat and sleep; he can’t even communicate with them.

Or can he? Nothing is as it seems, when a wee dragon shows up far away from his native land.

Dragon’s Revenge, Book 2, the Ring-Witches of Neshtthe Witches and Dragons have found their way back to the Ceshon Aerie, and what they find there…is most unexpected.

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Updated: 11/07/17

Ah, plotting, how I love it! I updated the above, added some plot points, and another character–a tiny, black dragon. No name yet, or gender, any ideas??

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As I start on my next book, the sequel to the wildly successful (*snrk*) Dragons Rings, Book 1, I try to remember what my laptop screen looked like back then, when I first started. The cursor blinked at me, as though it had a better place to be, and that white page reminded me of why, before I retired, I always started the development and writing of a new plan or procedure with a yellow or blue screen. White screens are very intimidating, and they don’t seem to help the thinking process at all.

I knew how I wanted to start Book 1, and much of Book 2 is plotted out, but the absolute beginning of ol’ #2 eludes me. So I try an outline. That is a joke! How do you outline a magical adventure that hasn’t even started yet? But a lot of famous writers outline. Ah, I see…the operative word here–famous! I’m not there yet. I need to find fame and a few bucks before I can start outlining.  OK, I’m cool with that. No outlining.

So what do the dragons and the witchlings do now? I need to approach this logically. If you’d just freed dragons and flown away with them, to find the bastards who nabbed their families and turned them into mindless robots, what would you do next? So, the story starts. They’re resting, the humans are sleeping, and Wolfe wants to make love to Mayra. Amidst dragons and witches, that’s all he can think about. I promised myself I wouldn’t make him a “typical guy” but the “typical guys” I know assure me, that’s what he’d wake up thinking about. So, something needs to take his mind off his current problem.  Do you know what a dire-wolf is? It’s extinct in our world, thankfully, but not in Nesht. They are huge and savage and known companions of the blue-skinned humans–the  Phailites–who have imprisoned the females and nestlings of the dragons. And two are about to fall off the back of a dragon into the midst of the human witches camp. Along with their very young master and his very belligerent uncle.

In the meanwhile, Mayra discovers that not all dragon are massive. Or overly intelligent. But…does that matter when it comes seeking her help…and it’s only a baby? Mayra’s heart melts…

Welcome to my world of plotting. Yes and no, cause and effect, why and why not. It’s fun and frustrating, and sometimes I have to go back and make a lot of changes, especially when a new and wonderful idea strikes me. But I love writing; it runs my head and most of my life, and I did want to let the readers out there know, though, that it can be a lot of work!

 

 

 

Dragon Rings–Nice Dragons, but DON’T Make a Reever Angry!

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My second book, Dragon Rings, is now out on Amazon. I had so much fun writing it that the second book is already brewing in my head and on my laptop. Everything about it was enjoyable–world building, populating that world, creating characters and so on–until I got toward the end and had to decide what to do with my bad guy.

In the meanwhile, my dragons are benevolent and love humans. At least, some humans. They learn there are bad ones out there. And the heroes of Dragon Rings aren’t your typical swords and sorcery couple, they have issues–father issues, grandfather issues, brother ones, and trust ones, too. Things can often be worked out, but other times, not so much.

So–back to the bad guy. It took a while, but suddenly, I hit on the perfect solution. OK, it’s grisly, and his father is the one who chose it, but hey, don’t betray your father, your Clan, magic, and your king, all at the same time, or you’re going to pay. And pay hard.

E-Publishing: the New Hell

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Let me start by saying e-publishing is wonderful. It is fun and a very satisfying way to get my work out there and cut out the vicious, grasping middlemen called publishers/editors. Sorry to all you p/e, just sayin’…

But then… we come to my first experience. If there is a way to screw something up, not only will I find it, I will embrace and embellish it! The story of my adventure starts with a decision that I was not going to undergo the torture of trying to get published in the traditional manner. It is just too difficult nowdays. That being said, I then set out to figure out the best way to e-publish. After a fair amount of research, I settled between Smashwords and Kindle. Both had a good amount of written reference, blogs, e-books, etc., that would provide basic guidance to the computer-impeded, such as myself.

Let me interject a comment here: I had already received a fair amount of formatting assistance from a friend, Tom Richardson, unfortunately, I quickly discovered it did not mesh well with Smashwords. Wonderful. This is not a small manuscript.

I tried a Smashwords template and it messed me up even more, mainly by having me first strip every bit of formatting from my document, which fortunately was a copy. You know, it’s hard to remember where every italic was placed, among other things. So, I quickly deleted all things Smashwords and transferred everything to Kindle, which worked quite well with Tom’s directions, and the formatting I had previously used for the manuscript. Kindle works wonderfully with Word 10, which I use. I have always used Word; I suspect that helped a lot with this entire process.

I hiked up my belt (?), reformatted a couple of Styles to align with Tom’s recommendations, and began formatting my book: Normal, Headlines, SceneBreaks, TOC, NormalNoIdent… I did it all! Flinging Styles about like a mad person, I watched my Table of Contents create itself, as everything fell in line like good soldiers… it was magick (spelling error? Not if you read my book!). Finally, over 500 pages later, I was ready to delve into even more magick: Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). What an ingenuous idea! You pull together a book and they tell you how to format, publish, and market it. And you get 70%. Wow! Of course, it’s not all kittens and cupcakes, there are downsides, but I happily ignore them and carry on.

I correct my errors (conveniently tallied for me by KDP) and complete my forms and I… PUBLISH! And I go back to my Author’s Page and I see… MY FIRST NAME IS SPELLED WRONG. Not actually misspelled… you see, I have this relationship with autocorrect. I bow to its superior intelligence and it hates me. Somehow, “Debi” has become “day” and the entire name is in lower case. Frantically, I fly to the bottom of the page, looking for “Contact Us,” and yes! there it is, I dash off an email telling them somewhat sheepishly what has happened and the next day, I receive a message from a nice person named Grant (yeah) who says he will take care of the problem in one to three days. It is now fixed, in some places, and I will have to keep after them, probably with screenshots, but at least they are far more responsive than I expected.

In the midst of this adventure, I was enmeshed in another one, that of my daughter, Leandra, who designed and developed my book cover. She is quite a talented artist, who also happens to be a PhD candidate and a TA. She has nothing but time on her hands! I agreed to pay her to produce a cover, but we both now agree that might have been a little too vague a request. She had no time to read the book, going only by descriptions I gave her and what I wanted to depict. In the end, I think she did a wonderful job, but the road getting there was a rough one, including many emails that asked… cajoled… begged for something… anything to look at. I don’t recommend going through the you/relative/close friend route for something that has a time requirement, but if she agrees… I’ll probably beg, cajole and ask her to design for me again.

So, I let my friends on Facebook know I am a Published Author (eBooks count, too, you know), send out free copies to my beta readers (which I purchased for $2.99 each, but hey, I get 70% out of it!) and settle back, waiting for accolades. In the meantime, I’ve already started the second book in a series of three, according to present plans. I mention this because I am formatting as I go along, and predict it will make the publishing process much easier the second time.

Another note: if you have done this before, no doubt you realize I skimmed over hours of frustration, bad words, cups of coffee, deletes and redo’s. Don’t let that discourage you. Even if I never sell a single copy, I will always have a sense of accomplishment. I did something I wanted to do since I was a kid: I wrote a book.

look inside!

Summerbird Rises (Book 1 of An Act of Entreaty)
Kindle Edition

 

 

 

 

Why oh Why — A Cruise. Or Why I Will Never, Ever Again Travel Further South than San Diego

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A Day to Day Observation of our Cruise to South America. I was going to rewrite some of it because I was so bitchy, but decided to leave it as is. If we had a miserable time, it serves as an expensive lesson learned. But it does prove we need to try a cruise line with a slightly younger passenger list.

Day 1/Nov 16.  Went through the usual  to get aboard: put in the wrong line by uninformed employees. Part of the reason we got a suite was to check into shorter lines and board first. Finally got all that straightened out, hubby called me over and everyone around me in the long line wanted to know what was going on, where was i going? When I said I was in the wrong line, some asked if they were in the wrong line, too. ???? How should I know? Finally reached our cabin, very nice, as expected. We left at 4:30. We awaited our luggage and I unpacked mine and the extra bag, waited for Steven’s, finally he got a call from security, they needed him to come down and open his bag in their presence. ???? Apparently, his mini-fan was causing great consternation among the security folk. Finally he and the fan were released on their own recognizance. The guy with the six-inch blade was also released, sans blade. Time to rest a while. Went to Neptune Lounge for a light lunch, some tuna salad, candies, cookies. We ordered dinner in the room, steak sandwiches, shrimp cocktails and dessert. Went to sleep at 7:30! The seas are quite rough and sailing is like being on a pogo stick. The stabilizers are going at full force and it’s like walking on vibrators. The creaks and groans are akin to a haunted house. To sum it up, we are currently sailing down alongside Mexico on a haunted, vibrating pogo stick. Feels weird! Loooong day…

Day 2/Nov 17. At sea. Went to Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, a little perk, it’s their fancy grill, free for suites for breakfast. Went to casino, meh. Went to Crows Nest, I read a while, back to room where they finally showed up to clean and remove our 3 bags of laundry to press. It’s  getting a little warmer, still rough seas. We ate lunch in Lido, shared a tuna sandwich. Back to casino, sat on deck for a while, too windy! Ate dinner in room again, hamburgers.

Day 3/11/18. At sea and in Cabo.  Day started with a bang, clogged toilet and I have to attend to morning resolutions! So we’re out in the hallway looking for a bathroom, up two decks and found one! Ahhhh… They had it fixed before we even got back, great crew. It’s not even 0700 yet!  We ate in the dining room, I love the bird sounds in the trees over head.

11/19. Mazatlan. Got off the boat to walk around a bit and ended up on a van tour with 5 others from the ship. Very good choice. We spent 3 hours in an AC van, driving around, stopping occasionally, getting out when we wanted, or not! The driver spoke excellent English, funny guy, very proud of his town. Lots of hawkers along the way, Steven bought me a little wooden kitty. Very cute. Came back and conked out for a couple of hours, got lunch. We accidentally walked the length of the ship twice, accidentally because we got turned around and went to one end, then had to walk all the way back so we could go up to the Crow’s Nest, which was way crowded. Back to the room, dinner in dining room again.

11/20. At sea. Went to Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, then to listen to the captain give a virtual tour of the ship. Yawn, but Steven seemed to like it. Each day they give us a list of things going on on the various decks, the movie for the day, etc. From the looks of those lists, this is going to be even looooonger than earlier predicted. Went to a show, left as soon as the chanteuse started shrieking at us in French.

11/21. At sea. Another fun filled day, hot and muggy outside and everywhere else on this floating old folks home. I guess some of the old bones were COLD! So we spent a lot more time in the cold cave of our cabin. At dinner, Steven ordered fish and the waiter came and took away one knife and gave him this weird knife. We discussed it, decided it was a fish knife. Asked to be sure. Yes, it’s a fish knife but we have no idea how to use it, it looks like it’s for stabbing since there is no cutting edge. But that brings me to something that really bothers me about the big dining room. When they seat you, your square, little plate place is totally surrounded  by silverware, glasses and a little plate for bread. So I have a bread knife, a little spoon at the top, two knives on one side and two forks on the other. The waiters then spend the rest of the meal taking away unused forks and knives and putting my bread plate back in its proper place, even while I’m using it! They sneak a hand in and grab a fork and knife, or replace a knife with a sharp one. And THAT one is a story in itself. He brought a knife to Steven and balanced it blade down. Started to turn away. Steven picked it up, looked at it and put it back down. The guys picks it up and rebalances it before fleeing the scene. Thunderstorm tonight, fascinating to watch from the safety of the cabin, the lightning seems to fill the sky and go on forever.

11/22. Hualtco, Mexico. Hell with humidity. We went to breakfast in main dining room, surrounded by two tables of golden oldies, engaged in their favorite past time, out doing each other with tales of past cruises. Occasionally, I will hear an interesting story, but most are so falsely self-deprecating and the resulting titters so patently fake that I usually end up tuning them out. Why can’t they talk about normal thing such as — HOW FREAKIN HOT IT IS!  The poor waiter says there were complaints about how cold the dining room was. I would help him hide the bodies. But back to this little town. We walked around the port until we looked like we’d walked through a shower fully clothed, then headed back through the sales people gauntlet. Took a real shower. No casino when we’re docked. Crap. They had Mariachi night at the pool side, the floor of which is right above our room. We got to listen to the flamenco being banged out on our ceiling for about twenty minutes, loud, but it was quite rhythmic.

11/23. same place as yesterday. We decided to stay on the ship today, as I went out onto the balcony at 0600 and the humidity and heat was already pretty evident. We had breakfast in the Pinnacle Grill, I had banana pancakes and Steven had a Dutch breakfast, some ghastly thing covered in eggs over easy. Ick. He seemed to like it. Went up to Crow’s Nest to enjoy a new sight: the front of the ship. It’s a lot more interesting seeing where we’re going out the front, versus over the sides. As we left this place, we hit a storm with winds >66 mph and I discovered I’m not a steady sailor. It was like being on a roller coaster on water. We went to dinner, but I  couldn’t eat, so we asked if we could somehow take the food back to our  cabin. Of course, yes. But that meant they put my plate on a tray, put a big silver dome on it and an unfortunate waiter was tasked with following us down through winding halls, where I bounced off walls, till we reached our cabin. We won’t be asking for that again. We missed the magic show, but I don’t imagine him being able to perform with the act rolling all over the stage.

11/23, 24. Puerto Chiapas, Mexico. We stayed aboard, read, played cards and walked around the ship. Too hot for much else, esp outside.  

11/25 & 26, 27th, too. At Sea. When will we get there? Spent a lot more time on the deck, because it was very windy, and made it almost chilly. I wore my hoodie outside. We saw 13 turtles, two dolphins and a manta ray going by, plus dozens of birds, catching the fish that jump from the water as the waves crash up on the sides of the ship. Went to see opals being sold extra cheap, the one I picked out was reduced to a reasonable $14000. Who can resist such a bargain? Me, I guess. Reduced to watching world weight lifting on the tv, those are some shapely young men!  We’re planning on eating at the buffet, then going to see some puppet guy. Which is worse, puppets or weight lifters.  Thanksgiving. Went to a nice dinner in the main dining room, where Steven got me to taste a micro-bite of pate! I knew that’s what it was, but  I thought, just maybe it might not be, but we asked and it was. Gross! it was creamy and weird and took a half a glass of water to wash it away. But we had a nice dinner and went back to the cabin. Went to breakfast for the first time at the buffet. it has its points, I don’t have to explain to “concerned” waiters why I don’t want a full breakfast and I can get what I want. So, it seems, does 3/4 of the ship load of passengers. it was crowded! We escaped back to the cabin via the casino, where the ship was having its Black Friday sale and that was where the remainder of the passengers were. If they’re selling a watch set for $19.99, I would recommend you check the case for any inner workings! 

11/28. Manta, Ecuador.  We got off and took a shuttle bus into town. Bought a couple of gifts, walked around the plaza, everything is closed. on a Saturday. We took the bus back, spent  a  few hours wandering around the ship, playing cards, grabbed lunch, left at 1630.

11/29. At sea. Breakfast in Pinnacle Grill. Steven and his inhumanly hot coffee again, the poor server took the cup and steamed the coffee. It was hot enough! I ended the day with a sore throat.

11/30. Salaverry, Peru. This is a primitive little town, the dock is part of a digging operation and it looks like they’ve torn the entire faces off the mountains surrounding the town. It seems to have a really nice beach, but I don’t think we can get there. The only excursions had to do with seeing various small archeological sites. We decided to stay aboard until we get to Lima, tomorrow. Steven put forth a theory that when everyone has purchased their passage, the company creates a bell curve, and at the top/oldest ages, then plays music from that era. I think the jazz/swing era is finally getting to him.

12/1. Lima, Peru. We went on a bus tour, whizzing around this majorly crowded city like crazy people, with a guide who has learned to talk without the need to stop and breathe. She did not stop talking for 4 1/2 hours. Some subjects: Aztecs, terrorists, the corrupt government, taxes, voting is mandatory and what happens if you don’t, earthquakes, pyramids, cats in the park, schoolchildren in uniforms,  or social security, no welfare, street vendors, the exchanged rate and price of gas. Oh, and how much sales tax they pay- 18%.  The list probably goes on, but we can’t remember them all. The driver must be deaf, because he maneuvered us through some of the worst traffic we have ever been in! Going from four lanes to one is like being squeezed through a tube of honking, aggressive drivers who have their kids on their laps and no seat belts! We saw a park where kitties live, someone feeds, fixes and vaccinated them, they just hang around and get petted.

12/2 & 3. Lima, Peru.  Took the shuttle into town, found a mall underground, a grocery store, where we bought deodorant, water, toothpaste, stuff I really didn’t think we would run out of! e walked around the mall, pretty upscale for being an outdoorsy place. Back across the street to catch the bus back, but we decided to catch a cab to the Inca market, another death-defying ride through the streets. We wandered around there for an hour or so, then decided to make our way the “few” blocks back to the cat park. As soon as we dragged ourselves there, I sat down next to a VERY weird individual, Steven had connuptions, but he wandered off to visit the kitties. The odd guy and I had  a bit of a talk, asked where I was from, I said US, he said oh, the greatest country in the world? (Alarm bells), I said no, he said why not, I said every country was great. He asked if I like Lima, said yes, asked why (more alarm bells-vibes) I said I like the people, they’re very friendly and polite, I liked the parks, and so on. So finally he left and Steven came back, and we noticed the kids were noticing him! They would stop short at seeing him, we finally figured out they thought he was Santa Claus. Steven thinks it’s funny! we decided to take a taxi back, the guy said it would be seven soles, we were like, only 7? which is about $1.25. Turns out we were only a few blocks from the Marriot. We caught the  bus back to the ship, ate a hamburger, took a nap, then got up for the next tour, Lima at night! Traffic is just as bad, but at least you can’t see most of the little missiles coming at you. We saw lots of beautiful old buildings and churches, then got out and walked through a water fountain park. A nice walk, leading up to a laser-light show. Finally, back on the bus and back to the ship. We are stuck with some Peruvian money, so we need to go out to the mini-Inca market set up by the ship to hopefully get rid of it. Tomorrow, no tours! No crazy drivers!   

12/4. General St. Martin, Peru. Stayed on board except for a brief visit out to the vendors. Bought a couple of gifts, then hurried back to the room and the AC! We went to see a show (a fiddler) and ate dinner in the dining room. Turned in early.

12/5. At sea. Awakened about 4ish in the morning by some insane person vacuuming the hallway outside our door. Woke up again at 0700 to the same thing. Turns out the cabin next door was flooded by a broken water pipe in the ceiling; at least it wasn’t a toilet! We thought we’d escaped any flooding until I walked over to the sofa, and squishy, sopping wet. Gross, I didn’t know at the time that it wasn’t a toilet until the guy came in and I asked. Yuck. They vacuumed up the water, then turned a huge blower on the area. Very noisy! We got to tour the lower deck, the freezers (including a morgue!) refrigerated areas, Steven went downstairs to see how the laundry is done, then we had an Indonesian buffet lunch. Spicy! Most of the crew is Indonesian, so it was very authentic. it was interesting, it’s quite a bit larger down there than I envisioned. Came back to the room, blower is still going like crazy, so I’m out on the deck doing this. One of the people on the tour mentioned that an officer told him that on the world cruises, they have an average of 5 deaths. This is definitely an older clientele! Saw another happy pod of dolphins. it’s hard to judge how big they are from way up here. But they sure are having a great time out there! I really want to see a shark, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

12/6. At Sea. We went for a walk after breakfast, and went to an out of the way bar to sit by the windows, mainly because it was really cold in that particular spot, uncomfortably so, course, Steven loved it! I mention the cold because they were setting up chairs for a speaker, and the women, mostly, began to drift it and sit around us and at once started bitching about the cold. A lot of them wore sleeveless shirts and no one carried a sweater. There are a lot of cold spots out and about and no one brings anything, they’d much rather bitch about the cold, get the temp raised and make the rest of us miserable. Oh well, the speaker told me more about gold than I ever wanted to know, so we left. Later we went to see a mentalist, apparently the guy who inspired the TV show. It was OK, he was an engaging sort. Lots of reading and hanging out in the room in between. Tomorrow is another day at sea.

12/7. At Sea. I’m embarking on a quest to get two blue HAL bags, which are supposed to be complementary. Supposedly obtained thru housekeeping. I have a few off-white ones at home, but must have a blue one. Supposed to go to the “gala” tonight, but I felt queasy again and Steven didn’t get to go, so I feel bad about it (so instead I’ll have a pity gala), but sometimes this tub starts rolling just a little and it goes directly to my stomach. We’ll have fun tomorrow in Costa Rica, going on a jungle ride. Hopefully, we’ll see a monkey!

12/8. Costa Rica. We left the boat around 0730, it was deceptively cool, boy were we in for a surprise later in the day! I haven’t commented on the buses we’ve been using, they are made for smaller people, and we look like a bunch of sardines. But they are nice, and ride these awful roads fairly well. About an hour’s bus ride later, we were on a boat down a river, probably wetter than the water, cause it was so stinking humid. I haven’t been in humidity like this since living in the South! We saw a little crocodile laying in the bushes, but haven’t decided if it was real or not. Lots of birds calling, saw a few macaws, herons and ibises. We later saw a much larger crocodile. Went to a train then, OMG, what a death-trap that thing was! It was like riding a mechanical bull on rails. A runaway bull. We finally got back on the bus and started back. Saw a howler money hanging out with its buds and a couple of iguanas (which they eat). Seriously, the guide told us there were so many iguanas running around because you’re not allowed to kill any wild animals in CR, they have iguana farm thingys where they raise the critters just like cows on the farm. Very weird. We didn’t get asked to try any, only pineapples. Finished up with dinner in the little Italian restaurant, free to make up for the days of having a high noise fan in our room to dry it out.

12/9. Corinta, Nicaraugua. No plans to go anywhere! Too freakin hot and wet. We’re pulling into the port, the ship is being turned around 180 as it “parks” so here comes the sun! We are gonna scurry back into the room.

12/10. Puerto Queztal, Guatamala. The first mistake was getting out of bed this morning.  Next, we got dressed and ate breakfast, and then decided to go ashore. I have never gotten so hot so fast, in my life! We walked around a beautiful park-like area with a few restaurants and lots of vendors.  By the time we walked around the area we were both soaking wet. Bought some stuff and again, scurried back to ship and into shower.  

12/11. Back to Huatulco, Mexico. I stayed aboard, Steven went down to the beach and puttered around. It is so freakin’ hot down there, I couldn’t take it again! Haven’t these people heard that it’s winter?? Went to a piano show, very nice, and called it a day.

12/12. At Sea.  Went to the ship’s “sale” what a goat rope! But I found a couple of Christmas presents. We went to a magic show, but it was bad, to say the least, so back to the room to watch another Poirot DVD and to bed.

12/13. Manzitilla, Mexico. What a trip; I mean that only as a child of the ’70s can. It was raining when we landed, but we decided to go anyway, figured what’s a few more degrees of humidity gonna hurt. So we wanted to go to the Market the ship indicated was a good place to go, but how to explain that to a taxi driver with no English. We ended up in the god-awful food place, with meat hanging from the rafters and dogs running up and down the aisles. I think they were there more in the guard/pet capacity than contributors to the rafters-offerings, but it was very weird. I am too Americanized to be able to handle that! We went back to the street in front of the pier, where I found a fabric store and the crochet hook I’ve been looking for for over 2 weeks. It was only 50 pesos. I should have bought a set! 

12/14 & 15.  Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We decided once again to strike out on our own with a local tour, only to be stuck in a van with six others from the cruise. It wasn’t like the previous one, but better than what the ship provided (and a lot cheaper – $25 each), because we weren’t a huge busful of people on a huge bus, winding our way through the back roads. We stopped and had lunch in a nice place overseeing the shore, apparently a favorite of the Hollywood set. Ooh, that was the name of the place- Le Set, or something like that. Had chips and quesadillas. Pretty tasty. We then went to a tequila place and had some tastes, pretty nasty, I thought, but what do I know? The flavored kinds were better, they tasted like syrup. As we were making our way on up the mountain, we stopped at some vendors on the side of the road and there, at last, Steven found his ceramic parrot. He’d been looking for one similar to the one that hung in his Mom’s kitchen window for all his life. Guess she got it from Tijuana many years earlier. It does look a little like it. He got her down to $20. We were gone about five hours, not bad. And although our guide didn’t have as much English as I would have liked, it was a whole lot more Spanish than I have! The night was finally cooler and no humidity. Woo hoo! Since the port is directly across from a Walmart, and the addition of the parrot to the trip, we decided to mosey over there today (the 15th), to find another suitcase. So off we went. Boy, were they expensive! Nothing like back at home, we finally ended up with a little duffle bag on wheels for about $33. I got some baby powder and what I hope is gonna dry up my drippy nose. I went back to the pharmacist and sniffed at her; she took me to this stuff. I swear, I gotta learn some Spanish. By the way, just because the Walmart looks like it’s across the street from the 7th deck of the ship doesn’t mean that it is. That was some humdinger of a street! Plus we didn’t scope it out very well, went the wrong way and wound up doing double the walking. So we came back the shorter way and scurried back onto the ship. We leave tomorrow!  Woo hoo!! I hate to be stereotypical, but I’m gonna need time to recover from this vacation.

12/16 & 17. At Sea. Choppy seas– ooh, I’m talking like I haven’t done this before! Steven is out on the deck, hair blowing in the wind, taking selfies. We haven’t had to share our table yet at dinner, you’d think we were antisocial or something. We went to the main dining room for breakfast; the guy who brings around the tray of pastries (yum yums, they call them), had something on his playing the Muffin Man song. It’s an ear worm now for both of us, he keeps whistling it, driving me crazy. I think it’s defensible…  So, we’re dressing up for dinner tonight, Gala in the dining room. I only brought one dressy shirt, so I’ll keep wearing that. Tomorrow is last full day on ship… Yay!!! We had surf and turf in dining room, first time I’ve ever had lobster. It was pretty good, too bad it’s so expensive! Thursday. Time to pack and fit everything we bought off and on the ship into our luggage. We did pretty well considering we had a parrot, two rain god and a wooden warrior and one jaguar god mask to fit. Plus all the other knick-knacks. Bought more than I thought we did! But things were pretty cheap. It’s a lot cooler outside now. Can’t wait until we get back to the cold.

12/18. San Diego. This is the end of this blog. Looking back, I sure complained a lot, but I think I had good cause, cause I’m a spoiled American and it’s what I do. But I never complained about the poverty I saw, only the heat. The people were happy, if a little persistent, in trying to make a dollar… or a peso. They should be happy, most probably don’t carry a scary amount of personal debt, or live in a country that is over 3 trillion dollars in debt, don’t pay through the nose for medical insurance or medication. Most have free public college and very nice private ones. In a lot of way, I envy them. Except for the *^&%$ humidity and heat!  The ship was the usual HAL fare, identical in fact to the other two we’ve been on. The crew on this ship are happy, they smile and sing a lot and I feel it’s real. So…we’ll go back to the desert and be happy again. I’ll look back on this and we’ll reminisce, but probably forget about the humidity. But not the cat park, or the nonstop 4 hours of talking on one of the Lima tours, or the barren land that is being mined to death, or that it is illegal to kill animals in Ecuador. Lots of cool things.

On Being an Electric Boomer

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I rarely, rarely refer to myself as a Baby Boomer, because I hate the phrase. But I so identify with many of their “characteristics” such as rock & roll, accepting the differences of my fellow persons, the commonality of divorce, leaving the past and looking for an exciting future,  and finally, the birth of the wonderful age of technology!

The onset of WWII introduced a great many new and deadly inventions and suddenly we were capable of destroying the world, as the old adage goes. So of course, there had to be a new kind of human, curious and eager to embrace new technology and go forth boldly waving the banner of exploration and acceptance of all that is new and wonderful.

Sheesh, what an image. But we are different from our parents and grands. I mean, REALLY different. Both my husband and I are orphans, so as we go forth learning new and exciting things we no longer have parents to look at us as though we have lobsters coming out of our ears and ask us why in the world we would want to do THAT? Why would we exchange that thing for a new one, we just learned the old thing. Why do we always have to have a new way to do a new thing or even an old thing?

People of my age who are “gadget-minded” exist in the greatest of renaissance the world has ever known. My progression:
– When I was born, TVs were black and white with small screens and huge cabinets holding vacuum tubes and speakers. We didn’t have one. No loss, I think.
— As a child, I read books and played outdoors during the summer from after breakfast to dusk, going home, or to friends’ houses, for food, water and a bathroom break. There was no instantaneous way to be found, but someone’s parent generally knew about where we were playing and could send the appropriate child home.
— As a high schooler, I learned to type on an electric typewriter. I peeked. I also used a huge punch card machine for modern index carding (to what end I still do not know). I learned binary, and forgot just as quickly.
— Once married and settled down, the computer age began to sneak up on us. We bought a Commodore. We used to watch it count numbers?! We played some stupid game I can’t recall, then switched to Atari. First came PONG (OMG) then Asteroids, then … heck, I don’t remember. Since I had plans to be a writer, we next bought an Apple IIc, complete with that miracle, the floppy disk. Take one disk out and put the other in to save, then put the other one back in to proceed. No games, just serious word-smithing. Oh, and we got an electronic calculator!
— I went to work for the Army, in the exciting world of Inventory Control, using a microfiche reader, which was clearly the latest in tracking down who took what where.  Never mind we were all going blind. Changed jobs, went back to the electric typewriter, found myself with child and quit. All of the sudden–CABLE TV! MTV! OMG!
–Time to get a new computer, a PC clone, this time. I had an Apple before, but made the irreversible choice to walk away from Apple. Never looked back. It was a good choice, because….
–Once my daughter started school I returned to work and all of the sudden I knew more about computers than the IT people. I was the go-to person in that job and in the next, where I became the guinea pig for ethernet, a variety of programs, cables, disks, ZIP drives, and everything else they could throw my way. Loved it! Discovered the magic of turn it off, then back on.
— I quickly moved to computerized training programs, developmental tools, data tracking, creating charts and diagrams,  just about anything you could develop, create, track, or modify through a computer, I was ready to try.

And then I retired.  Oh no, I still LOVE electronics!

We now have two cpu towers, one laptop, one mini, one tablet and two smart phones. I am always attached to something electronic and feel incomplete… no, lost, panicked! if I leave my phone or tablet behind. But I don’t mind. I got this way through evolution. I left behind my typewriters for a 2kb,  110kb computer and from then on, I was flying!

So, thank you to my parents for giving me books and crayons and wings. Thank you work, for challenging me and helping me learn a new world alongside you. Thanks to HP and Toshiba for providing really cool equipment and pretty decent customer service. Can’t wait for the next generation of things to come!  Still waiting for a transporter.

My Personal PC Hell…I Face the Facebook Battle

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I retired at a relatively early age (mid-50s). We had, as my Beloved
Spouse so eloquently put it, lived like animals for 20+ years so that we could pay off our house and cars, and live happily on a somewhat reduced pension. And so I left behind the unusual world of working for the Federal government, where we employees mixed corporates and secrets for a dizzying combination of paranoia and studied normalcy, and public scrutiny and keeping one step ahead. But I digress. My point is that I was suddenly free of all the pressures of the Politically Correct (PC) work day!

Gradually, I embraced social media. I chose FaceBook, or FB, as I off-handedly reference it, and my Beloved Spouse (yes, BS), went with Twitter. I reconnected with many of my work friends, and an amazing group of my high school friends and acquaintances. Amazing because I attended a DoD school outside of Tokyo, Japan. I had a relatively unremarkable high school career, focusing mainly on getting out of school and leaving a despised home life. I ran with the odd kids, the witches and rockers, remaining on the Principal’s List while hiding the fact. I married right out of school and am still married to the same wonderful man.

We group up together, raised two oddly dissimilar children and now live with cats and each other. We are happy. He is happy with his Twitter, enjoying the madcap 140ers as they shoot thoughts back and forth, lightly insulting, always insightful; I envy their carefree approach.

FB is Twitter’s darker, wordier uncle. I enjoy sharing everything from cat videos to recipes to photos of relatives, friends, and obscenely-shaped donuts. But at this time in our lives, an ugly inevitability has crept into our lighthearted banter, our friendly one-upmanship.

Politics.

I call myself an Independent, because that is the closest I can come to “don’t give a damn, but I do vote” and still appear legitimate. BS is a veteran, disabled, and worries obsessively about our country, so I will occasionally post things for him to see, but I try to stay inoffensive as I do. That really is getting harder to do.

Which brings me to my dilemma. I ran across a political joke, featuring a picture of a certain Dem female who is running for president, sobbing, while her husband is trying to cheer her up by telling her that a certain African leader had to be in jail only 27 years before he became president. For some reason, this hit my funnybone. I thought it was hilarious. I wanted to run to my faithful Samsung and fling it far and wide to my wonderful FB friends, as well as those who choose not to FB. But I stopped short as feelings of high school rushed over me.  I would offend some of my newly rediscovered chums. I would anger others, make many laugh, and others just: meh. What should I do? I have seen many comments and cartoons lampooning people I admire, or at least don’t hate. I simply pass them by. But I have observed that some people can’t do that, they do get mad, even nasty. I don’t want to go through that again, concerned that I might be “unfriended” might be left behind, no longer part of the old gang. So I didn’t pass it to FB, only to some of my non-FBers. Very well received.

Well, I guess talking this out has helped me resolve this little issue. I am not so concerned about maintaining my friend list as I am having people think less of me because of a silly joke I shared. I have always been that way, through school and work and that’s not going to change. I would never knowingly offend or hurt anyone. And really, is that so bad?

This Blog Will…

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  • Be a new means of communication for me.
  • Probably drive me crazy.
  • Hopefully, be amusing, enlightening, and insightful. Um…for me; you, maybe not so much.
  • Teach me more about the world of on-line-ing. I guess.
  • Deliver my unique and lighthearted musings, observations and counsel to the world at large.
  • Help hook me up with even MORE cats!

And that’s all I have to say about the subject for now.

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