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Month

May 2016

The truth about being poor

This is a hot topic, but here’s something people not on the system don’t realize, I’m sure.

The system is a vortex, and once you’re in it, you can’t get out. Not usually anyway. Go ahead, say it, “If you’d get a job, you wouldn’t be in the system!” Tell that to my legally blind husband.

So, I’m sure you’ve heard my story before, so I’ll make it short. Husband gets laid off from work during the depression (that’s what I call it, I really don’t care what it’s “supposed” to be called). They hire everybody else back BUT HIM. That’s how we got on the system.

“So why don’t you get a job?”

I’m getting to that. I did off and on, but during that time, me getting a job was more of a dream than a reality. Nobody was getting work. We both tried the army, and while they air force really wanted me, they weren’t too happy about Arlis being on disability (what would happen to him and our son if I died?). So we moved to where we could grow our own food.

Now, while making what we make now was perfectly fine, albeit just getting by, in 2009, we haven’t had much of a raise since then. In fact, there were at least 3 years that we didn’t get a raise at all. “What do you mean raise, you freeloader?” The cost of living goes up, so even us freeloaders have to get a raise to make up for it.

Trust me on this one, I’ve got the receipts to prove it. The cost of living (COL) has more than doubled since 2009. That’s right. MORE than doubled. Needless to say, our income did not. Now, first of all, let me explain to you what disability it. It’s an insurance. You, me, everybody, pays a little into it with each paycheck. If something happens, you get disability based on what your income was/aka what you paid in (like, 70% of what it was…maybe) and how many dependents you have. Bare in mind that it will not go over its maximum no matter how many dependents you obtain. That maximum is not as high as you think.

“What’s your point, moocher?!” Getting there, getting there. In steps the vortex. We make so little that we qualify for government funded health insurance. Some of the best in the nation (sad but true, our government’s insurance is better than most business run ones). “So you mean to tell me you’re complaining cause you got all your meds paid for too? Probably selling a bunch of pain dope on the streets with my own tax dollars!” Well no, I’m not, but that’s beside the point.

If I get a job, any job, doesn’t matter if it’s part-time, full-time, whatever, I lose my insurance. “So what? Pay for it with your job!” Um…yeah… Let me explain the real world to you. My husband just got diagnosed with some pretty expensive diseases. If I had to pay for our own insurance, it would be a minimum of $500 a month plus deductibles. Now. I haven’t been able to access that many benefit records, but from what I have gathered, deductibles are usually somewhere around $5000 a year per person before the insurance even starts paying for its 80%, if that. So, that’s $500 a month, plus the $5000 a year for one person (I’m only including my husband here. Let’s assume I don’t have to go to the doctor-which I do btw, but let’s just assume that I don’t) plus the 20% that’s not paid plus the prescriptions. That’s over $11,000 a year just so my husband doesn’t die a very painful death.

I don’t live where jobs are prevalent, and what jobs are available are part time. They rarely provide insurance, so I would have to go with the above minimum scenario. Even at $8 an hour, that’s over 26 hours a week just to pay for having the job. That doesn’t include the expenses of working: gas, clothing, etc. Most part timers don’t provide over 26 hours a week, and the ones that do, work you 39.5 hours just to keep from paying you benefits.

Oh but wait. It gets even better. I have a degree. “You what!!? You mean to tell me I’m paying for some lazy bum with an education!?” Well yes, I do have an education, but I very seriously doubt I’m lazy compared to most people. But again, that’s beside the point. My degree has done me far more harm than it has ever helped me. And this time, it’s preventing me from working. See, my degree isn’t something that’s easily job finding, and what jobs it does qualify me for, it’s too old for. My degree is over 10 years old, and places don’t like that. A stay-at-home-parent returning to the work force is very difficult to achieve. So, I decided to get a certificate that would allow me to get a job that paid enough and provided benefits.

But, due to the fact that I have a degree, that may not me possible. My B.S. prevents me from any financial aide, and therefore furthering my education, therefore getting me out of the system. “Why don’t you get a job and pay for your college like everyone else!” Please go back and reread this post from the beginning. “Oh … yeah. Sorry.”

So you see, once in the system, it is very very difficult and even sometimes impossible to get out of it. Now I have no idea who’s going to win this year’s election, or what’s going to happen to our insurances when they do, but I can guarantee you that if and when government insurances are pulled, employers are not going to magically provide benefits like they used to. They’ve gotten away with it now. Why would they go back?

Been busy of late

I know. It’s an old excuse, but I have been! Other than the “quick” post of yesterday (probably took an hour to do), I have been working non-stop. My video card in the desktop went down. I had no idea how much I relied on that PC! My e-mail is on there, so I can’t look old stuff up. It’s more annoying that you’d think, especially since this happened right in the middle of two credit card disputes.

One of those has been rectified, but I’m still waiting on the other one. Aside from that, I am frantically trying to work on Anya book 3. I have a bunch of events coming up, and so I’ve been in correspondence with them. On top of that, my husband has developed several complicated health issues. He currently has four doctors’ appointments … as of today. My son is starting a new school, and I’m going to be working there to pay off his tuition. (Yes! Praise be to God!) I’ve been having to find him books for it, and I’ve also been on the phone with doctors to pay bills, give insurance info to, etc.

And, oh yeah, our cows ravaged a roll of insulating. We’re praying they make it. And I’m dieting.

So, needless to say, I’ve been very very busy. I can only assume that once my video card comes back from it’s repair (it was under warranty still), and that second credit card dispute is settled, and the figure out more on my husband’s health, that life will once again settle down to a dull roar.

I’m not really complaining, just explaining why I’m not blogging like I would like to be. Oh! And I’m also writing a bunch of shorts. It’s been a while since a wrote a picture book, or at least a story of picture book size/status, and I’m enjoying the change of genre. Makes me think I need to separate novels with a bout of shorts. These shorts are for story telling events I have been invited to. I had originally wanted to put a collection of shorts into a book, since I never got around to making picture books out of them, so this will be a good addition to the small collection I already had.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to type up one of those shorts as we speak.

Farm Shaming

I saw a recent post on chicken shaming and immediately ran to do my own. If I had thought about it more thoroughly, I would have realized that I didn’t need new pictures. I could have just photoshopped the signs in. Oops.

So, I apologize for the bad photos. My chickens are not as tame and nice as the cooped up kind. Mine a little more wild and therefore not only harder to catch, but dang near impossible to keep hold of.

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Oh Tootsie, hold still!

Arthur! Oh, nevermind.

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Food Museum – The Ice Cream Edition

It’s time for more weird food! Who’s ready?

Previous Food Museum post. Next post.

Let’s get shopping:

Woo-wee! I bet that’s tart!

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Oh, no no no no no.

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Whew! At least it’s not pumpkin flavored! This looks pretty good actually.

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More Air Heads? Not sure how well those flavors would go with chocolate.

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DON’T buy these! I did. It was like $3 for this. Who says no to that?

The caramel oat one had oats covered in chocolate, making it look like a goat pooped in my ice cream. None of them had any flavor. It wasn’t worth the money at all.

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And what could possibly be worse? This! My husband loves cookies and cream, and he loves those ice cream bars with the chocolate or strawberry crumb coatings. So I bought him this. He ate it in the car on the way to the next errand. What a commotion he made! He wanted me to try it, but insisted I wait until I was finished driving. It was supposedly that bad.

He was right. It was. I spit it out in the next parking lot and just about threw up. Don’t do it folks!

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See ya next time!

Food Museum – The Beer Can Roaster

It’s time for more weird food!

Previous food museum post. Next post.

I have no words for this.

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Everybody knows I love sushi, and if this weren’t shellfish, I would have taken it home. That’s cheap for five rolls! But, something in the back of my mind says, “Uh, you do know what store this is, right?”

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OK.

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“Local” Indiana farms. Uh… We live in Tennessee. That ain’t local.

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Excuse me, I have to go call Mr Foxworthy.

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Cranberry fitness? And what’s with all the empty space?

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The First Chapter of Anya and the Power Crystal

Coming this August, here is the first chapter of my latest book, Anya and the Power Crystal. Enjoy! (Please note that this platform does not allow the true formatting to display-my apologies.)

Anya and the Power Crystal

CHAPTER ONE: THE SKINWALKER

Azizi walked more quickly than he would have liked down the stone path to his brother’s house. He had no idea how he was going to handle this. The thought of telling the other Royal Wizards had crossed his mind, but he couldn’t bear the thought of that. No, if he wanted to keep his brother alive, his only option was to talk to him alone.

He didn’t want to; no one does. Conversations don’t get much more awkward than this one was going to become. As the door came into view, Azizi’s paced slowed. Maybe he was wrong. Maybe he had completely misread his brother’s writing. Wishful thinking, he told himself. He knew he wasn’t wrong. Caezari had always been power hungry. When their classmates refused to pledge him their allegiance, he carried out his revenge over several torturous months. This spanned from casting the contemptuous spell on the star pupil to dusting Jack-in-the-Pulpit over one poor boy’s lunch. (His mouth had become so swollen he couldn’t eat for a week.) But this! Had his hunger for power become so severe as this?

Casting his doubts aside, Azizi forced himself to accept the truth. He took in a deep breath, his hand reaching for the knocker.

The muffled sound of a few footsteps produced a disheveled man. He was nearly the same size as Azizi, but fairer, blonde, and with a round face. “Azizi! What are you doing here?” the man asked.

“I’ve come to stop you, Caezari.”

“Stop me from what?” Caezari asked with perfect innocence.

“From trying to overthrow Queen Doshishi.” Azizi tried to keep his voice low. The last thing he wanted was to involve the neighbors.

Caezari’s panicked face quickly scanned for bystanders before opening the door wider for his brother and letting him in. He then barred the door behind them and asked in a whisper, “What are you talking about?”

“Your journals, Caezari. I read them.”

“You read my journals?!” No longer trying to stay quiet, the younger brother’s eyes flared with indignation.

“Yes, Caezari. I read them.”

Caezari turned away, his face a display of complete bewilderment. “Wow! I-I can’t believe this.” He walked across the room and braced himself on a wooden desk. “My own brother! Reading my diary.”

“It wasn’t by choice, Caezari. Daniel saw them.”

Daniel. The seer.”

Azizi nodded.

“So, you’re here because of some vision.”

“Not entirely,” said Azizi. “I asked him not to tell the others until I had a chance to confirm it.”

“To confirm what?”

Azizi dropped his guard a little. He held his hands behind his back and paced, stopping at the wall opposite his brother. He planned his words carefully. “He saw me bending over your diary, reading it. But he also saw what it said. And he told me. So, last night, when you asked me to bring you a poultice for your foot, I took it.”

Caezari’s right hand formed a fist. The fingers of his left hand brushed against the wand lying on his desk. His face became timid, frightened.

“I read your plans, Caezari. Though how you intend to become immortal is beyond my understanding.”

The younger brother’s fingers wound around their prize, slowly, and ever so silently.

Azizi continued, “I knew you wanted power, dear brother, but immortality? No man has ever achieved this. Yet your entries sound as if you have found a way! How on earth do you plan to do it?”

Caezari’s hand firmly grasped his wand. His face gradually began to show its true feelings.

“And even if you could,” said Azizi, “why would you want to? Why would you want to overthrow the Queen, disrupt the entire queendom, and force everyone to bow down to you? I just don’t understand why anyone would desire this.”

Caezari smiled at him, but it wasn’t a typical villain’s smile. It was a pure smile, one of actual amusement. Azizi stepped back in alarm.

“Because, dear brother,” Caezari said menacingly, “I like to be in charge.”

Azizi reached his hand behind him, secretly retrieving his own wand. His arm brushed against his brother’s journal that he had hidden under his own robe. “But they will all hate you,” he said. “Is that really what you want?”

Caezari’s smile turned to a look of lust. A lust for blood. Shock could not begin to describe Azizi’s feelings as he was forced to defend himself from his own brother. Azizi conjured a shield just as Caezari’s wand shot out a flaming red bolt. It ricocheted off of his protective spell and set the thatch roof alight.

“What are you doing!?” Azizi maintained his shield; his dark eyes widened with terror.

Caezari bore down on him with slow progression. “But you’ve read my journals, dear brother. You should know what I’m doing!” His face contorted with rage as he drew back his wand. An onslaught of green, white, and yellow bolts shot forth.

Azizi held his magical shield with great skill. “I am not the Queen!” The bouncing spells broke dishes and exploded furniture, causing a cascade of dangerous debris. Some of the wreckage landed on him, drawing blood on his head and neck. “Are you insane!? I’m your brother!

Caezari’s eyes turned black and grew in size. Azizi crouched behind his wand’s shield, truly aghast. This could not be real. But it was real. And deadly. Caezari advanced on him in a towering state of fury. “And that is why I must kill you.”

“You are insane!” screamed Azizi.

A smile spread across Caezari’s crazed face. Giant silver bolts leapt from his wand, faster than before, again and again, with relentless force. Azizi’s shield diverted the hexes away from him, causing detrimental effects to their surroundings. What didn’t melt or disappear ignited. First the roof, then the bed, soon the whole house was on fire.

“Stop, Caezari! I am not your enemy!” Azizi knew what he was going to have to do, but he couldn’t.

“You have always been above me!” cried Caezari. “But now I shall be above you all, and I shall use you to get there!”

“It isn’t worth it!” Azizi couldn’t let him do this. But the thought of stopping him was too painful to accept. He cowered behind his magical defense, struggling with his reality. The pain was too much. His lungs convulsed, his throat constricted, his sharp face gnarled in response to the sobs.

But Caezari didn’t stop. Smoldering straw fell from above. Azizi could smell the putrid stench of his own burning black hair. He could hold out no longer. Hot tears cascaded down his tormented face as he made the only choice that was left. With an anguish so fierce that it ripped his soul in two, Azizi recanted his shield and produced his own red bolt. It flew through the air, as though time had slowed, and hit its mark, killing his brother.

Azizi stood, ever so slowly, still sobbing, still not quite aware of what had just happened. His brother lay fallen, a giant black mark upon his chest. Unmoving. Unbreathing. Unalive.

But before he could mourn, before he could even realize what he had really been forced to do, it happened.

It started with a burn in his chest. A burn so intense, he couldn’t cry out, for he could not indeed breathe. He thought for sure that his insides must be on fire. A piercing pain ripped through his shoulder blades as wings sprang from his back, felling his Wizard’s robe to the floor. Giant red talons exploded from his shoes. His massive, red scaled hands dropped his wand, and he cried out. But his cry did not produce the agonizing wail of a man who had just killed his brother. Instead, long flames blazed through the roof and into the sky.

He thrashed about. His wings catching on the tables, the windows, the floor. Crying out in frustration, more flames leapt from his mouth, touching the neighbor’s house.

Fear encompassed him. He was a danger to everyone now. He jumped, stretched his wings, and flew awkwardly upward. Hovering over his brother’s home, he saddened. He remembered the spell now, but it had never been witnessed before. This must have been what his brother had wanted. To become a skinwalker. A beast so vile it can only be formed by the most heinous of sins, the murder of your own blood. He was lost forever now. Death would have been kinder.

But his time for lamenting was cut short. White and gold sparks struck him from below. The Royal Wizards. They were attacking him. Acting purely on instinct, he blasted his assailants with his flamed breath. He was relieved to see that their magic protected them, but that protection did not extend to the neighboring houses.

He held his breath to keep from hurting them, the pent-up fuel blistering his throat. The Wizards’ barrage continued with ten, sometimes twenty spells hitting him at once. They felt like pebbles being thrown by children. He saw their terrified looks as they realized that he could not be harmed. With one more wail of agony, Azizi shot a flame fifty feet into the air and then flew away.

Crossing the meadow that stretched between the castle and the southern forests, he searched for a place to land, a place to collect his thoughts and figure out just exactly what type of predicament he was in and how, if possible, to get out of it. What would have taken a man days, took him mere hours. He closed his wings and landed at the foot of a timber covered mountain. It had a cave there, and it was large enough and deep enough to hold a dragon. So he stepped inside.

There wasn’t much to it, a little dust, a little moss, and lots and lots of spiders. A couple of short breaths took care of those. He set up house inside that mountain, or as much of a house as a weredragon in a cave can. He learned how to change back into a man, and how to transform himself into the hideous beast that he now was at will. It wasn’t long afterwards that he tried to go back, to make amends, to tell them all what had really happened that horrible day. But he couldn’t. Whenever he tried to get close to Cupola, he would go blind and have trouble breathing. Time and again he tried to force his way into his home queendom, only to be forced back.

So he gave up, became one of the creatures of the forests, a lost legend; and over the next 200 years, slowly lost himself to his walker form, hoarding gold and roasting elk with his breath. Oh, he kept an ear out, of course, and had heard the rumors, how Queen Doshishi had erected a Field of Protection that forced all of Cupola’s magickind to evacuate. Probably to keep him out, he imagined. Probably for the best, he thought.

And then one day, one boring day while he was out hunting his breakfast, he saw a little brown furball in a clearing. Curious, he stopped to see what it was. It was a monkey. He nudged it with his claw. He tickled it behind its ear. Eventually, he blew hot air on it. (He had learned to control himself quite well over the centuries.) It jumped up and backed away, terrified.

Fortunately, he had also learned to control his strength and was able to gently grasp the monkey before it could run away. The small creature thrashed about in a panic. Afraid it would hurt itself in its fearful actions, Azizi changed into his human form. The monkey stopped and calmed down considerably. Azizi smiled and placed it on the ground. “What is your name, little one?”

“SCREECH!!!” The monkey emitted its apparent last bit of stored energy, and then collapsed. Worried, Azizi took the little creature back to his cave and nursed him into the evening. It awoke, frantically screeching as though it didn’t know where it was, and it probably didn’t; but then it saw Azizi’s calming smile and stopped. Azizi offered the monkey some hot cocoa to soothe it. The monkey sipped the cocoa cautiously.

“Now,” Azizi asked. “What is your name, little one?”

“Mmph ha ha ha hee heee.”

“Alexander … Alexander.” Azizi scratched his chin in thought. “Ah yes! You’re the witch Avaline’s familiar, yes?”

“Hee hee ha ha ha.”

“Has something happened to her?”

Alexander told Azizi the story of Avaline’s demise, about how she was imprisoned in Cupola, and how the Field was shrinking.

Azizi’s eyes widened with that last part. “The Field is shrinking, you say. Perhaps it is time for me to make old wrongs right.”

Ratchet and Clank … The Movie!!!

We first heard about them making this movie  I think in 2014. We were so excited! We couldn’t wait for it to come out. For those unaware, Ratchet and Clank first came out on the PS2, where I loved playing it every minute. It has since grown along side its console, even being updated from time to time. Meet the characters—

Ratchet

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A cute little booger known as a Lombax. You play the games to try and discover what he is and where he came from. He believes he is the only one left in existence. Although you start out with nothing but a wrench to fight with (still my favorite weapon), you soon get your buddy—

Clank

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Even cuter than Ratchet, no seriously-he’s adorable, Clank attaches to your back like this—

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This allows you to hover, fly, and do other amazing things thanks to upgrades and abilities you purchase/build for him. Although he is usually attached to you, later games allow him his own freedom—

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Told you he was adorable. Anywho, the games’ cutscenes were so loved, that the makers decided to put them together to form a movie. Yeah, that was my first reaction too, but it wasn’t like that. Although there were scenes from the game, there weren’t a lot. Most of it was entirely new material, and the original scenes were redone, only the script remained the same.

One of my favorite character is—

Doctor Nefarious!! (insert ominous echo)

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You can’t help but love this guy. Look at him! He’s hilarious! Take the quirky funny aspects of the Alan Rickman villains (sheriff of Nottingham, Snape) and multiply them times 5, no 12! And now you have Doctor Nefarious! (btw, he’s played by Armin Shimerman-you know, Quark!)

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The movie shows his beginning. The movie show everyone’s beginnings. I had never seen him as a living person, just the robot. It was interesting to see his birth, and absolutely hysterical. “I’m not a robot! Stop fixing me!”

I will tell you that there were a few changes from the game to the movie, the method of the making of Nefarious for one. But imo, it didn’t stray too much to make it enjoyable. I’ll be honest, I haven’t sat and played a game in years. I just don’t have the time anymore, so I’m not as into the story as I used to be. But my husband and child were, and they said that the changes didn’t matter to them, so we’ll go with that.

So go see the movie! No seriously, go. It’s amazing. You’ll love it.

 

Food Museum-Chicken Mole Bowl

Hello All, and welcome to another episode of the Food Museum.

For the previous installment, please visit here. For the next one, visit here.

This episode, we bring you:

I love both dried cranberries and dark chocolate. These sound wonderful!

0313161300These aren’t actually labeled. I know zucchini fries are the new fad right now, I can only hope that’s what these are. Oh please let that be what these are!

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I’m sure this is supposed to be Chicken in molé sauce, but there’s no tilde. So, the result sounds a bit less…appetizing. Ew.

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I’ve never heard of uncured bacon. And why is love written backwards? And lastly, though certainly not leastly at this point, potatoes!? This whole thing just screams, “Run!”

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Now this is just stupid. No one wants a piece of chocolate that you’ve had your fingers all over. Just make two pieces and be done with it. 0313161302

We bought these. Don’t See below.

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As expected, these are deep fried chocolate things. Supposedly brownie bites, they’re really just cake. This is what they look like cooked.

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And this is what the inside looks like. Yup, that’s raw. I guess it could’ve been supposed to be like lava cake, but it’s not. It’s raw cake batter. While I may enjoy raw cake batter most don’t, and even this was too much for me.

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That’s it for today! Join us next time for another exciting adventure down the aisles of The Food Museum.

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