Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Effing Teacups

The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Assisted living is hosting a picnic and Gummy’s family is coming. It’s a perfect day for it, reminding me of all the huge family reunions and church picnics Gummy has been part of during the years. The staff is taking the memory care patients down to the tents together, but Gummy gets to go down early with her family.

She nearly bounds down the steps, cutting in front of me, her daughter-in-law. She likes taking the stairs instead of the elevator. In the hallways she passes people in wheelchairs or walkers. They’re people who live in regular assisted living, not memory care, senior citizens without memory issues. She’s possibly ten years younger than most of them, and she leaves them in her dust.
          I go to church with all these people.
          You do?
          Yeah, don’t you recognize them?
          They do look familiar.

Today we’ve planned a big surprise for Gummy. For years she collected teacups, hundreds and hundreds of them. Juan managed to get a bunch of them brought here to the shire, along with some of her special teacup shelving, and he and the kids are going to hang them up in her room.

We’re determined to make her comfortable here. It’s a nice place. If you have to be in assisted living with dementia, it’s perfect. Outside there’s a band playing Woody Guthrie songs. It’s Grandparents’ Day and they’ve gone all out. Next to all the tables and tents there are kids playing soccer. There are mountains of good food, including an ice-cream truck. Gummy’s smile grows wider and wider as grandkids appear one by one. She points out familiar faces from the memory care unit, both nurses and patients, and people she recognizes from day club. She tells us she knows them from her church.

This is her element. She eats corn on the cob, chicken, a hotdog, potato salad, watermelon, ice cream, and peanut butter pie. She washes it all down with soda pop. We’re all sufficiently impressed. Throughout the meal she waves at people and makes small talk. The guys sneak away to set up Gummy’s room.

We go for a walk and watch a soccer game. Gummy makes over every little kid and baby. She finds ancient tricycles in the gazebo outside her room and rides one around the courtyard. You heard that right. She's riding a tricycle. 

The guys text us a couple hours later and we take her back to her room. She’s forgotten it and thinks we’re at Burger King.

Shelves and teacups, knickknacks she painted, and favorite pictures from her house now cover her walls. Even her television, with a remote she understands, sets on a stand across from the couch. She stands in the middle of her room and puts her hands on her hips.
          What’s this?
          We decorated your room! Surprise!
          This is my stuff!
          How’d you get my stuff here?
          We brought it to surprise you.
          I’m going to have to take this all when I leave.
          Yep. Don’t worry. We’ll pack it all up for you when you leave.
          Okay. Do you think it’s too much? Do you think people are going to say I have too much nice stuff? I don’t want them to think I’m showing off.
          Oh, I think people are going to like it.
          It is nice.
For a few moments she surveys the room and turns to me.
          Do you see all this stuff?
          Yes, it’s really nice, Gummy.
          I brought this all here and hung it up. It was a lot of work.
          I can see that it sure was.
          It was, but I don’t think it’s too much.
          Neither do I. It’s perfect.
The sweating guys are lying on the sofa laughing.
Life is good. Not easy. But good. 

For the first time I wanted to spank her.
I even asked the nurse for permission.
Are we allowed to spank them?
She winked.
I could look away for a minute.
I think she felt the same way.

Gummy took everything off her walls. I’m talking pictures, sconces, decorations, dozens of teacups and the big heavy rack screwed into the wall. It took the guys hours to put that stuff up. The nurses can’t even figure out how she reached it.
I know how she reached it. She climbed onto the arm of her couch and swung from it like the nimble monkey she is.

Her drawers are a jumble of dirty clothes mixed with clean, with notes, cards, newspapers, pencils, books, teacups, fresh flowers, etc. etc. The place is a wreck.
And she’s ranting. Someone’s coming in taking her pillows—she counts them—moving her stuff, taking her fifty cent school scissors. I didn’t humor her. I counted the pillows with her and confirmed that was the exact number of Target pillows I’d purchased for her. The other stuff? I told her if she’d stop having tantrums and jamming things into pillowcases and drawers, she’d be able to find stuff.
I picked the dirty clothes out, took them to the laundry, and left everything as is. Her move.

She followed me out.
When I get mad I do that.
Hallelujah. I don't know what if anything will come of it, but honesty to oneself must mean something. And I don't blame her for being angry. I do blame her that I have to be the one to put all those flipping teacups back out though. I swear I will never again take the time to match them with the right saucer.
Tonight she can fix them herself. I know her perfectionism won’t allow mismatched teacups and saucers.
Tough love.
Teacup version.
I'm hoping she'll focus on righting her collection instead of packing to leave.

Hope is the thing with feathers, and mismatched teacups.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sometimes I do the Coolest Stuff

The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

It's a writer thing. Writing is what I want to credit for getting to do the coolest stuff, but that's not entirely accurate. A good deal of the cool things I've gotten to do are either because of my previous life in the photonics world, or because I have a tendency to say yes to things that scare me.

This time, however, it's all about the writer world. On a recent wintry weekend I drove my time travel Jeep far far away to attend a dragon-infused book release party. 

If you consider how long it takes to write a book, and how long it takes to get it published, you'd probably understand why some book release parties can equal a wedding in enthusiasm and well thought out details. This one was like that.

It started with a grand entrance. Can you believe this gate?  

My Jeep fits right in parked outside this little country estate, built around 1916, doesn't it look like it belongs there?  

There were no other vehicles when I arrived, and after a cautious moment of polite knocking, I barged right in. The place was entirely empty since I was the first to arrive. When things like this happen, I expect grand adventure. I mean, me alone in the big house. What could possibly go wrong? Or right if you're looking at it from a writerly point of view.

First I examined the outside. And then I simply made myself at home. I dragged my suitcase up a flight of old stairs in the grand hallway, and chose a huge bedroom based almost entirely on the fireplace.

Then I explored as many of the other rooms as I could find. There were plenty of hidden rooms and secret passageways. My real life completely evaporated from my mind. I had so many story ideas jostling for space I nearly forgot that I was there for a book release party.

But soon the dragons arrived. As in dragon cake, dragons made of stained glass, and then, Elle Katherine White, author of Heartstone—the book about dragons that I was there to celebrate. This lovely writer did not disappoint. From each bit of food painstakingly crafted from scratch, to her book reading, music, and camaraderie with a crowd of readers, every detail was top notch and well thought out. 

Maybe some women dream of their wedding day, but I'm going to put this right out there in the world. As a writer myself I did not spend years thinking about my wedding. I spent years dreaming up books and far more time thinking about the details of my first book release than I ever did about my wedding. Sorry Dear Hubby. 

No worries. I think he's cool with it. He was partly the inspiration for the hero in that novel anyway. (For the love of light please do not tell him, there would be no living with him!) I invited him to that book release party anyway, so we're all good. 

This was my first DRAGON themed party though, and I hope not the last. I mean, check out this cake! It was chocolate and caramel on the inside. Made from scratch by the author's bestie. Best cake EVER.  

Can you even believe that Elle Katherine White found a venue with stained glass dragons? It has got to be a heck of a lot of work to match your venue to your book!

Here's a peek at the main staircase. There's a nice spot to rest your weary bones after you get your suitcase up to that point.

And what other creative magic did I find? A unicorn. Have you ever seen a stained glass window like this?

Upstairs, past the old servants quarters, is a bowling alley. This is an excellent touch to the mansion of my dreams. 

And wild dreams I did have when we finally stopped talking books and went to sleep that night. How could I not dream of dragons or dragon riders in a place like this? 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ways to Reduce Stress

S.R. Karfelt, Ways to reduce stress, the glitter globe
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

Stress reduction is my superpower. The trick is to think outside the box. Way, way, way outside the box. I’m an introvert. Too much peopling makes me tired. Supposedly extroverts get energy being around other people, but introverts get drained. I find that to be true. But I love people, so I regularly jump into the fray until my life force is drained and I must recharge.

These are some of the things that I do when I just can’t.

Mental health days. I have been known to spend an entire day in my pajamas lying on the floor in front of a space heater. Usually I’m reading, because when you just can’t, it helps to change universes via a book. A movie can work too, but books work better. I don’t know why, but they do.

Media blackout. No news via any medium. Once I went four years in a media blackout. I missed the entire first four years of the Obama administration. True story. I was running a photonics business, writing a novel, and homeschooling. There was no room at the inn for anything else. I told you this was way outside the box. I’m serious. AND ignorance is bliss by the way.

Clean. This is usually my very last resort. I hate cleaning. I’d pretty much rather do anything on the planet other than clean, but when I do it I feel more prepared. Getting rid of piles of junk or messes makes me feel better. Sometimes I’ll just clean one cupboard or my closet. Anything.

Nap. Sleeping helps. I don’t think any of us get enough sleep. Sometimes I go to a monastery and just stay for a couple of days. (You can do that at a Benedictine monastery by the way, the cost is nominal and they’ll even feed you.) The monks have said that when people come for a retreat usually they’ll spend the first day or so just sleeping, then apologize for it. But they say that is what you need and the first step to finding some peace. So sleep. Just check out for a while.

Sleep with your partner. And by sleep I mean don’t sleep. It helps if you can get away for a day or so. That’s ideal because then you’re not looking at your messy house or the to-do list. Sometimes that’s not possible though, so your home might have to suffice. Shut off all the electronics, and the lights too if the mess is making you nuts. Then smooch that face.

Do something nice for someone else. This only works if you do it anonymously. Shovel their driveway. Catch their runaway dog or their garbage can blowing down the street. Let someone else have that great parking spot. It doesn’t have to be big or cost anything. But it feels good when you’re tucking down for bed at night and you can remember that one nice thing you did today. I’ll warn you that this one is contagious. You’ll start looking for opportunities.

Make something. Paint. Draw. Decorate. Write. Create. Whatever gives you satisfaction. Creating something goes a long way toward assuaging stress. Creativity = Purpose = Inner Peace.

Stress reduction, especially emergency stress reduction when you’re at maximum load, seems to me to be different than doing things to cheer yourself up. Things like dancing, retail therapy, or a day out with friends. Those things can cheer you up, but I’m talking metal-on-metal, bone-on-bone stress, and genuine ways to recharge when your batteries are completely drained.

Leave a comment if I missed any!

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Which I Publicly Discuss Books I Plan to Release This Year

This isn't something I normally do. I prefer to quietly leave my books in the world, and get back to writing the next one. But it's the middle of the night, and this reveal suddenly seems like a good idea. Let's hope my muse and the real world cooperate with me. Like that has EVER happened. But infinite universe and all of that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All The Books Releasing Today That I've Already Bought

The Glitter Globe, S.R. Karfelt, Karfelt,
The Glitter Globe/S.R. Karfelt

A stolen crown. An unbreakable friendship. One big mess in the making.

When Princess Cecily Degalt travels south to wed a prince she's never met, she's ushered into a strange new world alongside her best friend and bodyguard, Rory Castille. With an MIA fiancé, his handsome twin brother, and a kidnapping gone wrong, life in Myrzel isn't quite what Cecily expected.

Rory will do anything to keep Cecily from harm--but when Rory's darkest secret comes between her and Cecily, the greatest danger to the princess might be Rory herself.

Torn apart for the first time, each girl will have to think like the other as she faces not only the darkness of Fangralee Forest, but a dangerous enemy closer to home.

A Stolen Crown is the second novel in the Stolen Royals series - a tale of magic, intrigue, and the power of true friendship.

A debut historical fantasy that recasts Jane Austen’s beloved Pride & Prejudice in an imaginative world of wyverns, dragons, and the warriors who fight alongside them against the monsters that threaten the kingdom: gryphons, direwolves, lamias, banshees, and lindworms.
They say a Rider in possession of a good blade must be in want of a monster to slay—and Merybourne Manor has plenty of monsters.
Passionate, headstrong Aliza Bentaine knows this all too well; she’s already lost one sister to the invading gryphons. So when Lord Merybourne hires a band of Riders to hunt down the horde, Aliza is relieved her home will soon be safe again.
Her relief is short-lived. With the arrival of the haughty and handsome dragonrider, Alastair Daired, Aliza expects a battle; what she doesn’t expect is a romantic clash of wills, pitting words and wit against the pride of an ancient house. Nor does she anticipate the mystery that follows them from Merybourne Manor, its roots running deep as the foundations of the kingdom itself, where something old and dreadful slumbers . . . something far more sinister than gryphons.
It’s a war Aliza is ill-prepared to wage, on a battlefield she’s never known before: one spanning kingdoms, class lines, and the curious nature of her own heart.
Elle Katharine White infuses elements of Austen’s beloved novel with her own brand of magic, crafting a modern epic fantasy that conjures a familiar yet wondrously unique new world.

But can she find her identity in the light
Before she perishes in the dark?

Twenty years have passed since Carrington and Remko Brant’s baby, Elise, was kidnapped and they were forced to leave her captive in the Authority City. Though they fled with the Seers far from Authority reach, they’ve never given up hope of rescuing their daughter from the man who betrayed them. Now Authority President, he’s ushered the city into a new era of “peace”―one where the Scientist Roth Reynard’s Genesis Serum has eradicated all memory of emotion or rebellion.

But the mysterious Aaron and his Seers are once again on the move, threatening the illusion the Authority has worked so hard to build. As the Seers send seven chosen warriors to rescue Elise and bring restoration to the Authority City, the lines are drawn for a final battle between light and darkness. The key to ultimate victory may rest within the strangely powerful girl who has felt forgotten but was never abandoned―a truth she’ll need to wage war against the powerful forces of evil.

Friday, December 30, 2016

There Are No Mistakes in Art

When I walked into my kid's preschool rooms I could spot their artwork even though it usually hung among twenty or thirty like pieces. My girls' work almost always looked bigger and brighter. My boy preferred autumnal shades of black and fangs. Starfish, tacos, planets. They all had fangs.

In later years we had an episode in which I had a disagreement with one of my boy's art teachers. One President's Day when I picked him up at school, he stood outside drooping. He thrust his picture at me angrily. I DID IT WRONG! he said, stomping off to sulk. I had to chase down the teacher to find out how a kindergartner can color Abraham Lincoln wrong.

"He's PINK!" she fussed. 
"Yes," I observed. "And so?"
"I told the class to use flesh tones."
Now I could have pointed out that pink is a flesh tone, or that my boy was colorblind and any shade of pink from Shocking to Pepto Bismal is flesh tone if you can't see the red in it. Normally his mismatched clothing and penchant for picking weedy flowers in every shade of brown were clue enough to how he saw the world. Although the teacher hadn't realized his color perspective, suddenly something else seemed far more important to clarify at that moment. Long before that day I'd adopted a philosophy I'd learned from professional artists, one that seemed most important.

There are no mistakes in art.

Ms. Conformity begged to differ. So in a nod to the importance of following directions whether or not you understand them, we expanded upon my philosophy. While there ARE no mistakes in art, there ARE revisions.

Sometimes you have to follow certain rules.

Those rules come into play when your audience is more than yourself.

That means when you sketch a face and accidentally knock over the bottle of ink onto the page, that we'll now put a tree branch in the drawing. Revision. It also means when your kindergarten teacher gets her knickers in a twist over your pink Abraham Lincoln, that you color a new one in whatever shade she likes. Revision, as your audience demands.

Revision also means you expand your skills and put your best foot forward in your art. 

My No Mistakes in Art philosophy means first and foremost that you don't let anyone suck the joy out of your work. We create with our heart, putting all we have into our work. But writing needs editing both to please readers, and to be certain to please ourselves when we see how what we intended can be expanded upon, polished and grown. Artists and Actors perfect their skills and grow their craft for their audience, and kindergarten students pander to their teacher's ideal of Abraham Lincoln.

Michelangelo is purported to have said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Imagine patiently and confidently chipping away at a block of marble to release the angel within. What would you create if you had that type of certainty? 

Michelangelo's Pieta

Trusting creativity makes me fearless, but respecting my audience is why my writing goes through editors. My No Mistakes in Art philosophy lives on. It's hard to see through all the changes and revisions, but it's there, because if we worry about doing it wrong we'll never create anything. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Floating with Confidence

Karfelt, Cosmos, Greece, Float, The Glitter Globe, SRKarfelt.com
www.TheGlitterGlobe.com/S.R. Karfelt

The cosmos

The world

Apples and pears

Your shape

Limbs and body

Your senses

Time or courage

Joy, holy mother

Years, forever