Dedusted

I actually felt like playing house today and had the energy to do it, so I dry mopped then wet mopped the floor and dedusted all hard surfaces.

Yes, I know — dedusted is not a word, but it should be. The way the word stands, “dust” as a verb is the opposite of itself. For example, when snow dusts the ground, it means that a light coating of snow was deposited on the ground. Some cookie recipes require you to dust the finished cookie with powdered sugar, which means to putting a light coating of sugar on the cookie. I dusted today, but I did not leave a coating of dust on the ground. In fact, the rooms were already dusted with a powdering of dirt particles. So, see? When I cleaned off that dusting, I dedusted. If I had redusted, then I could say I dusted the room, but I didn’t add another layer of dust; I removed what was there.

Look at it a different way: if you bug a room, you place electronic bugs in the room. If you debug the room, you remove the bugs. If you code a text, you put that text into code. If you decode it, then you remove the code to reveal the plain text. If you clutter a room . . . You see where I am going with this.

It is interesting to me though, that a whole slew of words mean the opposite of themselves, not just “dust,” as I pointed out here, but “cleave,” which means both to cling and to unite and “trim” which means to add something or remove something. In fact, there are so many such autoantonyms, they have their own category name: contranyms.

I just realized that spell checker didn’t underline dedust, so I looked it up, and lo and behold, it is a word, and means exactly what I said it should — to remove fine particles and to free something of dust. Who knew? Not me, obviously, because I thought I was being so very clever and whimsical. The truth sort of puts the kibosh on this whole essay, but I’m posting it anyway because whether I dusted or dedusted, the house is clean.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Dark and Dreary

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night, but it was a dark and dreary day, which is almost as bad. I’d planned to clean today, but in the gloom, the dust wasn’t visible, so I put it off. As a friend said, the dust will still be there when I’m ready.

I did go for a walk, but it was just a walk. A grey walk. Skies were gray, streets were gray, the buildings I passed, despite their color, all seemed gray, too. You’d think with all this talk of gray, my perceptions were gray, too, but no. It was truly the lowering clouds that created the gloom. I’m fine, though come to think of it, I am dressed in a gray jacket to help stave off the chill. The house does keep its temperature, but there’s always that spell when the temperature drops and before the heater kicks in to remind me of the cold.

The only thing in my mind of interest — to me, anyway — is my ongoing study of the tarot. (If a few minutes a day can be called a “study.”)

The card I picked today to represent my situation was the 11 of Trumps. In some decks, this card is called Justice, while the 8 of Trumps is called Fortitude. In some decks, the 11 of Trumps is called Fortitude or Lust, while the 8 of Trumps is called Justice. In this deck, the card is called Lust for Life, because supposedly Aleister Crowley, the occult scholar, who updated the tarot at the beginning of the last century, thought that naming the card either Strength or Lust would limit its function in the eyes of many to the material plane. In essence, though, the card is about spiritual strength (linking up with spiritual roots), mental strength (courage and fortitude in the face of difficulties), and physical strength (stamina, resistance to ailments, and applying effort with joyful purpose — hence, Lust for Life).

To me, all this shows the rather arbitrary nature of the tarot. It seems as if most people are okay with the shifting sands upon which the tarot is built, but I need more of a foundation. Without a foundation, one can only blindly follow those who have gone before, who have blindly followed those who have gone before, who have . . . etc, etc. Then you get to people like Crowley who don’t blindly follow, but recreate everything according to his own mystical and “magickal” (the word he used to describe himself) inclinations.

If, as so many books about the Tarot say, that they are a help for mediation, then shouldn’t any stack of cards help? Christmas cards, birthday cards, get well cards — I bet there are enough out there to create a “Hallmark” version of the tarot.

And for those who use the simple explanations of the cards, such as justice or fortitude or strength, when doing a reading, then shouldn’t a plain deck of cards with just those words on them mean the same as the “official” picture/symbol cards?

And if the cards are about getting in touch with our own spiritual roots, then . . . I don’t know. I’m obviously missing a big part of the big picture when it comes to the tarot. I suppose if I stick with it long enough, something will click, and I’ll suddenly get the whole tarot thing, but so far, that’s not happening. Maybe when I find the deck that speaks to me (this particular deck definitely is not it) and stick with it for a while, I might start sensing some of what I am supposed to sense. Meantime, it’s a good daily discipline, as is writing this blog even when (like today!) I have nothing to say.

I do have one thing to add to the “nothing to say.” Not about the tarot but about the gloom. There’s no more gray to this day, no more dreary. Night fell while I was writing this post, and now it’s dark, or as dark as it can be with all the outdoor (and indoor) lighting.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve!

Happy New Year’s Eve Eve! That sounds redundant, but it’s the truth — tonight is the eve of New Year’s Eve. One night, one day, one evening, and then this year will be finished. I don’t know how to feel about that, to be honest. All things considered, it was a good year, but it seems unreal that this year is done for and another year is beginning so soon.

I have no real plans for the new year, just the same plans I’ve had all along — take care of my house and hope that more of my landscaping gets finished by and by, take care of myself and hope that my health holds up, take care of all the little things that arise and hope I have the stamina to deal with them. That’s a lot of taking care and hoping, enough to fill a year — and a lifetime — that’s for sure.

As for the remainder of this year, I expect to fulfill the last two days of my 100-day blog challenge. But that’s a given — not a special plan for these days — as is the continuation of my daily blogging for no other reason than if I took a day or two off now and again, I’d get in the habit of not blogging, and since it’s the only writing I do, I’m not ready to give it up yet. But blogging is all that’s on my schedule for the next two days.

Because this area is going to be subject to fierce winds followed by a huge temperature drop off from a windy high of 60 (degrees Fahrenheit) tomorrow afternoon to a bitter low of 9 tomorrow night (and a high of 19 on Saturday with a low of 0 Saturday night), today I went to the library and stocked up on books, then did one last bit of lawn watering. So for the rest of the year my time is my own with no responsibilities except to stay warm.

I don’t have any plans for tomorrow night, either. There’s no reason to stay up until midnight to toast the new year, though I imagine I will be awakened by all the fireworks set off by witless neighbors. (Witless because they ignore the law prohibiting fireworks in Colorado as well as discounting the fire danger inherent in high winds and low humidity.)

I hope your year end and your year beginning will be as pleasant as mine. Meantime, have a Happy New Year’s Eve Eve!

***

Pat Bertram is the author of intriguing fiction and insightful works of grief.

Truth and Secrets

I came across an interesting quote today: The truth of a person is in her secrets. I know this is true of fiction, especially mysteries and suspense. You learn about a character from what they are willing to do to protect their secrets, and what you think they are willing to do. For example, a reader could think a particular character might be willing to kill to protect that secret, but the character would not take a life under any circumstances.

But is this true in real life? Oh, not the killing part, but the bit about the truth of a person being in her secrets. If so, I have no truth because I have no secrets. I have habits I would prefer people didn’t know about, such as an unconscious tendency to bite off hangnails, and while that might tell you more about me than I would like you to know, it’s not exactly a secret except perhaps from me. If I knew I were doing it, I wouldn’t.

I paused here to look up the definition of secret to see if there is a secret to “secret” I didn’t know that would further explain the quote, but no . . . it’s as I thought. A secret is something that is kept or meant to be kept unknown or unseen by others.

Although I might prefer the people I see regularly to know less about me than I disclose here (though surprisingly, it isn’t as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and in fact, it’s rather nice not having to talk about the minutiae of my life since they already know it from reading my blog), nothing I write about is a secret. When I was writing about my grief, people offline did not see the same sort of grief in me that I wrote about online, but that’s just the way things were. Even if I was hurting, I generally didn’t show it when I was around people. Like every other griever, I soon learned to hide was I was feeling to protect others from having to deal with my pain as well as to protect myself from their well-meaning (and sometimes not well-meaning) platitudes, such as “You have to move on,” and “You need to get over it.”

But as for secrets? Nope. None.

Some people have accused me of being secretive, confusing secretive with reticent, but the truth is that not everyone deserves to know everything about anyone. There needs to be boundaries, and people who try to look beyond the boundaries aren’t necessarily looking for the truth but are simply being nosy.

I do generally answer direct questions, mostly because I am not as devious as I should be and so don’t lie, nor have I ever learned to graciously deflect questions, but I tend to resent probing questions, and it shows. I don’t ask such questions, either, which becomes a problem when I am talking with someone who thinks that probing questions is how one converses. These people generally don’t want to wait until I volunteer information, which I will when it come up naturally in a conversation without the resentment I feel in an “interrogation.” And they feel belittled because they think I don’t care enough about them to ask them questions.

(Jeff and I were both of the “ask no personal questions” school, and yet over the years, we learned almost everything there was to know about each other, the information coming out in myriad conversations.}

This essay has devolved into a discussion of various means of conversing rather than the topic of the truth being in the secrets, but I suppose the two are opposites sides of the same coin. If you don’t divulge personal information, the other person sees secrets rather than reticence.

But it still doesn’t answer the question about the validity of the quote: the truth of a person in is her secrets. I don’t think it can be true except in the case of someone who is nosy enough to want to invade a person’s privacy. The truth of us might be in our most secret self, but that self is for us to know, not for general consumption.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Tomorrow and Tomorrow

Because of various Bob-related issues around town, I haven’t been working much lately, which has been nice. I like having my time to myself to do what I wish (and even what I don’t wish but need to get done).

Sometime during the next couple of weeks, things should settle down enough that we (my fellow caregiver and our client) can get back to our regular schedule, which will also be nice because the extra company is good for me and the extra money helps pay for a few frivolities, such as groceries and grass (the lawn kind, not the erstwhile illegal kind). Still, I’m okay with whatever might happen. Over the past decade or so, I’ve learned to be resilient enough to take whatever comes my way, though I do reserve the right to whine a bit if I feel it.

In two weeks and a day, we start a new year. I’ve never been particularly excited about a new year since basically all it means is a clean calendar and learning to put a different year on the few checks I write. Even worse, we carry our old selves into the new year, so despite all our resolutions (or lack of resolutions), the old year folds into the new one without a hitch. For some reason, though, perhaps because of uncertainties The Bob is still causing, I am looking forward to this new year with a bit of hope, as if it is actually something new.

For sure, it’s a new month, one that will bring me closer to spring and spring flowers to brighten my day. It will also bring me closer to another “elder” birthday, but that’s not a problem. The actual number of years don’t matter, of course, though what all those years have done to me does. I can still do almost everything I want to, but I am slower, and I find myself tilting forward when I stand or walk. It takes a concerted effort to remember to roll my shoulders back and stand up straight, but I can still do that, which is good. (In his old age, my father tilted forward when he walked, too, and I always wondered why. Perhaps our sense of equilibrium goes out of whack like so much else.)

The other thing that the new year will bring is an end to my 100-day blogging challenge, though that won’t be the end of the daily blogging. Although sometimes it’s hard to come up with something to say, it’s still a good exercise for me, so I will continue at least until I reach the 1000-day mark. (183 more days.) Or not. Life itself is a continual challenge, and we never quite know what each day will bring, but if everything goes as planned, I’ll be here every day until the middle of June.

Meantime, there’s the rest of today to enjoy, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

Walking in the Dark

Here I am again, scrambling to write a blog post before the day runs out, though this time it’s not because of laziness or procrastination but because I was working all day and just got home. Not much happens to inspire me on such days, though I did enjoy walking home in the dark. I so seldom get out in the dark any more — there’s generally no need to — so even though I am always offered a ride home (sometimes insistently), I refuse. It’s only two blocks, and the problematic dogs are gone — one moved away with the problematic neighbors and the other canine died. (That woman should never be allowed to own pets. She told me that if she were a dog, she’d rather run free even if she ended up getting hit by a car, and guess what. Since I’ve been here, she’s had three dogs, and all three were killed. Weirdly, I even know the person who killed her last dog. Even weirder, now that I think about it, he knew it was her dog, so her blasé attitude must be well known.)

What I’m getting at is that the walk is as safe as possible. (Obviously, nothing is completely safe, but there are relative matters of safety. For example, there are a heck of a lot of places I’ve lived that I’d never even set foot out of my door in a dark evening, let alone at night.) It’s also fun this time of year seeing the colored lights. There are nowhere near as many here as there were in my dad’s neighborhood — those people must have thought that the only way to offset a non-snowy desert Christmas was to flood the town with Christmas lights. The decorations are tepid here in comparison, but still enjoyable.

The past few years I’ve made a point of doing a bit of inside decorating for Christmas — putting up a small tree and my bowls of lights if nothing else — but I’m not sure I want to make the effort this year. I will be spending the day by myself, and it seems rather absurd to put in so much time digging out the decorations and setting them up just for me, but then, on the other hand, perhaps that’s when it’s most important to make the effort.

I still have time to decide. Or not. We’re already into December! Amazing how that happens — time passing in huge chunks when one isn’t paying attention.

I used to think all those folks who got ready for Christmas early were jumping the gun, but now that I am aware of how fast time goes, I’m surprised more people don’t start getting ready in September or August or July.

But I am digressing. I was talking about walking home in the dark. Not only are the artificial lights pleasing, so are the natural ones — the stars that make themselves seen. You’d think out here there would be more stars visible, but admittedly, the lack could be in me and my old eyes rather than the meager light pollution generated by the sparse street lights. Luckily, there are enough lights to brighten my way when walking home, so I really shouldn’t complain about light pollution.

I got home safely, and in the end, that’s what counts.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

About Passwords

A couple of days ago, I got a security alert email from Google with a list of my duplicate passwords as well as those that were weak. This includes most of the sites I’d signed up for over the years. I suppose it really does behoove me to delete any site I have no more use for, and to update passwords. How kind of Google to send me a list of all those sites as well as the passwords!

I do have two concerns. If Google is privy to all our passwords, does it really matter what the passwords are? Even if they are unbreakable, they are obviously searchable if one has access to the Google cloud or wherever it is they store all their information.

The other thing is that once I have all those unbreakable passwords, they have to be stored somewhere because there is no way they can be stored in my memory — my brain memory, that is. That means they need to be stored on the computer so I can easily copy and paste as needed, which means that all those passwords are doubly vulnerable.

They’d eventually all be stored in my browser, which makes it simpler for me, but makes the sites more vulnerable. Even so, I’d still need a master copy of all the passwords because glitches do happen.

Despite my lack of concern, I did spend some time today with an online random password generator, which means that now there might be a fourth place where my passwords would be stored — on the generator site. Obviously, if they did store the passwords, it’s not that big of a deal since they wouldn’t know what site the password would open. And anyway, that part is easy enough to fix — just change a letter or a symbol. (This is an example of the passwords that were generated: eHLq-B9W. See what I mean about never being able to remember it? They did give a helpful memory hint, but I’d never be able to remember that either: egg HULU LAPTOP queen – BESTBUY 9 WALMART. Sheesh.)

I’m not sure what anyone would gain by breaking into any of my sites. Any online ordering I do is through an account that I keep empty until needed, so there is no way anyone can clear out what little money I have. Only two sites have my social security number (well, any number of sites would have it because the IRS and other government bodies have online sites, but those sites are not under my control, so I’m not going to worry about it). One of my sites already has a strong password, and the other will have one soon.

Other than that, despite my once active presence online, there really is not a lot of my personal information out there.

Apparently, though, stealing personal information is not the only reason sites get hacked. They use the hacked sites for phishing schemes, generating spam, installing malware, and a host of other not-so-nice activities. (At first, when Facebook blocked my blog for being spam, I thought it might have been infected, but if so, Google would have put a warning on the search result as they did once when a bit of code got mistakenly inserted into one of my posts.)

I’d started this article by thinking I’d ignore the password situation and stick with what I have (on the assumption that if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it), but now that I’ve looked further into the matter, I see that it would be a good idea to better secure my sites.

I’ll do it first thing tomorrow.

Or the next day.

Or maybe the day after that . . .

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Facebook’s Vendetta

Facebook is continuing its vendetta against me. It still has my blog URL banned, still say my blog is a spam site, and there is no recourse since they don’t answer emails, snail mails, or online help messages. For a while, I just let it go, figuring if they didn’t want me, I didn’t want them, but a few people mentioned how much they missed seeing my blog on their feed, so I got in the habit of reblogging this blog onto another blog — Dragon My Feet — and then posting that URL to FB.

That worked for several months, but suddenly, all photos that had been part of that reblog — the photos I use to illustrate my posts — disappeared from Facebook going back to when I first started reblogging. I experimented with uploading the photo directly to Facebook, and also uploading a new photo to the reblog, and those photos are still on F. So now I know — they have extended their ban of my URL to any reblogged photo that originated here.

I thought of continuing to upload a duplicate of the photo from this blog to the reblog, but then I rethought that idea. It’s only a matter of time before their bots notice that my so-called spam URL is posted on the reblog, and then they will ban that blog, too. For now, I will continue posting the reblog URL on FB, but for those FB friends and acquaintances who want to read my blog, now would be a good time to sign up to get notifications directly to your email address. (Scroll down to the bottom of the left-hand column and click on “follow.”) As with FB, you can simply “like” a post if you want me to know you were here and don’t want to leave a comment, but of course, I am always appreciative of any comment.

If it weren’t for those friends and a group or two that I keep up with, I’d be done with FB. One of the groups I keep up with is my own Suspense/Thriller Writer’s Group, though I am considering disbanding it or at least denying members the ability to post. It used to be a fun group, but less and less as time goes on because of all the changes FB makes. In fact, FB has been messing with the groups again, so I had to change the group from “public” to “private” because if a group is public, now anyone can join without being okayed, and most of the people who want to join are spammers. Real spammers, not people like me who got caught in the FB fly trap. The problem with disbanding is that first I have to remove all 3,500 members one at a time. I did that for another group I had and it’s no fun.

It’s getting to the point where this blog is my only interaction online. Twitter is absurd, LinkedIn is worthless for my needs, and if there was ever any possibility of signing up with Instagram, it ended when FB bought site. I also lost interest in Goodreads when Amazon bought it.

I suppose I should go through and delete some of those old accounts (Google just emailed me and told me I had too many weak and duplicate passwords, and most of those are for accounts I haven’t visited in years.) Though chances are, I will do the same thing with those accounts that I do with FB — just keep on doing what I am doing . . . or not doing.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Books and Blogs

I seem to be doing my blogging later and later as time goes on. Unfortunately, inspiration is hard to come by when one spends most of one’s time alone. And then there is the matter of laziness, perhaps, or simply a tendency toward procrastination. Either way, here I am with my lights on since it’s dark outside, trying to think of something interesting to say. One of these days, I will give in to the temptation to let a day or two slide, but for now, I’ve committed to daily blogging for the rest of the year.

Just about the only thing I’ve been thinking about (other than that it will be another six months before I can get back into gardening) is the awful book I just finished reading. I could have put it aside at any time, of course, but then the uneasiness fostered by the story would have lingered much longer than it would by finishing it. Normally I don’t read contemporary women’s lit, but I needed a break from my usual diet of murder and suspense, which is a mistake I won’t be making again soon.

There seem to be two types of books that are targeted specifically for women — happily-ever-after stories (romances that tell the beginning of a relationship), and unhappily-ever-after stories, (novels that tell what happens to the loving couple after many years of being together).

This particular book was of the second variety. The main theme was about communication; none of the characters every told their partner what they were thinking. They expected the other person to know what was going on in their minds without their having to say a single word, and each character interpreted their partner’s actions in light of their own insecurities rather than the partner’s.

Even worse, the novel told three very loosely connected stories. The only connecting element was a house that none of them end up with; otherwise, the three stories had nothing to do with one another. Worst of all, there was nothing in any of the stories to offset the growing sense of dread and dreariness as the couples all drifted further apart. Just misunderstanding built on misunderstanding built on misunderstanding.

Simple discussions at the beginning of the book would have swept away all those misunderstandings. But then, there would have been no book for me to suffer through. Nor would I have had anything to write about today.

One of the stories was about a couple who were divorced from their original partners, and who ended up getting married. Since each had children from the prior marriage, and each child brought their own insecurities to the new home, dread was piled on dread. Some of that dread, I am sure, has to do with my own situation. I am at the age where, if I ever ended up in another relationship, it would be complicated by his children and grandchildren and perhaps even a great-grandbaby or two. (Unless, of course, he’s the type to eschew all family, in which case he wouldn’t be worth having.) The mere thought of having to sort out and find a way to combine the baggage of two lifetimes wearies me.

Luckily, I have no interest in another relationship. I have a house (and this blog), and that’s about as much responsibility as I want in my life.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.

Dark Too Soon

I don’t mind being alone, don’t mind the reason behind the isolation (a huge upsurge of Bob activity in this area), but having to do it in the dark seems a bit much. I’m not really in the dark, since I can turn on lights, but the sun sets at 4:44 pm. It seems as if the day is no sooner getting started than it’s ending.

Even that, I suppose, isn’t such big a deal, but when it gets dark too soon and I haven’t done my daily blog post, then I panic. Where did the day go? What did I do all day? How can I write if I can’t remember?

I’m glad, of course, that my days are so uneventful. I’ve had enough trauma to last me a lifetime, and even though some friends are going through disastrous experiences, I am at one remove from their situations. A lesson I learned from my grief days (days? No. Years!) is to let people have their own sorrows. I empathize, of course, but I can’t take on their sadness — it belongs to them. Come to think of it, I’m even at one remove — or several removes — from my own grief. In four months, it will be twelve years, and that is a long time. (To put it into perspective, that’s the time it takes for nine-year-old children go through puberty then the teenage storms and finally to reach adulthood.)

The only thing of note I did today was turn my Suspense/Thriller Writers Group on Facebook from public to private. FB is changing the way they do groups, so now if you have a public group, anyone can join immediately without being vetted. Considering how many spammers find the group (not just robots but also authors who only want to promote their books), it would turn a rather innocuous and inert group into a nightmare. Besides, since my blog URL is still blocked, I have little interest in spending any time on FB. For now, I reblog this blog to another blog and post that URL on FB, but when they discover my ruse, and block the reblog, then I’m finished with them.

Although it’s not particularly noteworthy, since it’s something I do every day, I did go out and water my lawn. It still astonishes me that I did that — add a bit of lawn. I wanted just a small corner of grass in my yard (else what’s the point of having a lawnmower), but since I didn’t know how big of an area a pallet of sod would cover, I agreed to buy the two pallets a local landscaping company had left over from another job. I worried that it wouldn’t be enough to cover the 400-square-foot corner; instead it covered 1,000 square feet, if not more, especially since they had a partial pallet left over they threw in at no cost.

I suppose 1,000 square feet isn’t all that much lawn, though it seems huge when it needs to be watered.

Oh, and I did manage to blow most of the leaves off my rock, but a big wind will simply blow them back. So here’s hoping the winds remain fairly calm until the leaves settle in.

I hope you’re doing better with the early dark than I am. And to think it will continue getting darker for the next six weeks! Hmmm. Perhaps I shouldn’t think about that.

***

What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God.