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Bullying

Bullying has been in the news a great deal recently, with the suicides of young kids resulting from it. If you’ve never been bullied, it might be easy to dismiss it as ‘kids being kids,’ but I can attest to the long-lasting damage it leaves, even when suicide is not the immediate result, because I was bullied for several years.

Our elementary school bully just happened to live across the street from us. He was a big kid, and very, very smart. In fact, I heard that he grew up to be a lawyer. Believe me, I was more relieved than I could ever say when we moved at the end of sixth grade, leaving the eastern US behind to live in Arizona, because I had become his favorite target. If this kid had acted alone, perhaps his harassment wouldn’t have mattered so much, but, of course, he led a group of boys. They clustered together, riding bikes around the neighborhood, running home from school as a gang, and backing up each others’ pranks. Even though these other boys didn’t have his vindictiveness, they still followed him and his sidekick, copying them, repeating their words.

English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...

English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The emotional scars from being tripped constantly in the classroom, from being stalked by his gang of boys, and from their nasty words didn’t go away when we moved. If anything, they intensified as I moved through my teen years, which are difficult enough for any girl, but which were made more difficult because my self-confidence had been eroded day after day for so long. Even though I knew he’d said things to get my goat, even though half the girls in my elementary school hated him and his gang (well, maybe more than half hated him along with a lot of the boys), and even though my brother and others had tried to protect me from them, I’d felt hopeless, helpless, and vulnerable. My mother would tell me not to let his words affect me, but she wasn’t there, dealing with his sneer and his deliberate nastiness.

Looking back, I’m sure he learned his behavior from his older brother and sister, who probably learned it from their parents. He didn’t become that way without suffering under a constant barrage of demeaning words, pushing, poking, and tripping, plus jokes told at his expense. He didn’t seem insecure to me at the time, but no doubt his arrogant stance and behavior hid his true feelings. He didn’t know any other way to behave. As one of the smallest girls in the class, and his competitor for the top grades, I made a perfect target.

All things are fair in fiction. This bully, Kenneth, for no one I knew ever called him Ken or Kenny, gives me wonderful material to use in my writing. You’ll see. Read the next chapter in Golden Threads: Bullies. Or, if you haven’t been following along, find all previous chapters by clicking the novel’s title: Golden Threads.

How about you? Were you every bullied? Did you know someone who was, or who did the bullying? Comments are always welcome. And, yes, I know that I’ve barely even scratched the surface of this topic.

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Teen witches

The next chapter of Golden Threads is up! Come to the New Years Eve teen witch party and have a slice of pizza with them by clicking here.

English: New Years Eve at Hallgrímskirkja Reyk...

English: New Years Eve at Hallgrímskirkja Reykjavik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why have a support group for teenaged witches in this novel? When they turn sixteen, many of them have no idea how to use their magic. Sure, a lot of them have learned about being witches from their parents, but learning how to use and handle magic takes practice. Lots of it. Plus there’s a lot more to the world of witches than magic. There’s herbs, talking to animals and plants, ceremonies, and all of the politics and history. It’s also true that no parent or teacher knows everything. It’s good to share information with your peers, and learn from others just a little older than yourself.

Plus, let’s face it, adults never let teens in on all of the secrets, especially when there’s danger involved. Who is going to introduce a child who has barely begun driving to the race course? Of course, some parents will, but most will shield and protect, just when their kids most want to know about everything. Parents agree to the

teen witch club, because older, more experienced teens are monitoring the activities, and the meetings are held in one of the parent’s homes. The amount of supervision is minimal, but someone is there, just in case a spell goes awry and, say, takes out the power in the entire city (it’s happened more than once). A quick reaction by one of the more mature and experienced witches can get the power running quickly, stop a New Years Eve hailstorm or a July blizzard before it starts, and in general keep the world safe from the explorations of the newest practitioners of magic.

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Time travel

British author H. G. Wells' 1895 novel The Tim...

British author H. G. Wells’ 1895 novel The Time Machine is an early example of time travel in modern fiction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In our last installment of Golden Threads, our heroine and her entourage had escaped her uncle’s clutches and landed safely in 1810 AD, to find the cave full of witches. What adventures await our young sixteenth century witch? How will she adapt as she moves through time? If you’ve been following along, find the next chapter here, or click the Golden Threads link to find earlier chapters.

Why are so many authors drawn to time travel?

You, like me, could probably reel off a list of dozens of books and movies containing some form of time travel. There’s The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells, with its creepy Morlocks, there’s Back to the Future, with the knotty problems caused by meeting one’s parents when they’re your own age, there’s the entire Diana Gabaldon Outlander series, in which people step through a stone circle on the right day of the year and travel backward or forward 200 years, and so on (you can find extensive lists on various internet sites). More recently, there’s Steven King’s novel 11/22/63 about JFK’s murder and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, which isn’t strictly time travel, but has some of its aspects. There are comedies, tragedies, social commentaries, adventures, mysteries, love stories, and scary thrillers. What they all have in common is a fascination with other times and places.

These pieces of fiction ask all kinds of questions:

  • What was it really like then?
  • What will it really be like in the future?
  • If you plunk a person or people down in (fill in the blanks) how will they survive?
  • Will they or can they change the course of history?
  • If someone from another time ends up in our time, how do they fit in?
  • How will they react?
  • If someone comes from the future, will they be evil? Will they have powers we can’t imagine and overpower us?
  • Have people from the future already been here, and, if so, did they affect us (bring medicines, knowledge, etc that we wouldn’t have had)?

I used to lie awake at night and make up stories in which I would go back in time, perhaps as part of a science experiment to gather data, and have all sorts of adventures. I’d pick a time period, perhaps something we’d been studying in school, and imagine going there. Maybe I’d have the right clothes made, and find a little money from the period before going, but I’d always end up in trouble. I’d have to fight with a sword, or I’d come back and organize a rescue operation to save a member of our team who’d been captured, etc. Or I’d fantasize about going to the future, and make up some world where things were really different.

Obviously, the idea of time travel is just one step away from historical or futuristic fiction: instead of just setting something in the past, it adds someone from another time period. But what why do we find it fascinating to imagine ourselves in another time? This fascination isn’t limited to authors. Little kids play games in which they’re Native Americans trying to sneak up on game in the woods, or cowboys battling those Natives, or they’re pirates on the open seas, or grand ladies going to some seventeenth century ball. We like to imagine ourselves in different settings. Perhaps, we’d be better and stronger then than we seem to be now. Perhaps, we could be heroes and prevent a catastrophe or cause one.

I have no answer for the question I’ve raised, only more questions. What do you think? I searched briefly on the internet and found no satisfactory speculation. Maybe it’s fascinating because it’s so very impossible (though physicists keep trying to figure out how to do it, or if it could ever be possible).

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Chapter 6: Invasion

The next chapter in Golden Threads is posted: Invasion

 

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I just read this post by Stephanie Saye. I hope that her courage will inspire all of us to face our demons. Enjoy!

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The Liebster Blog Award

I am so excited to be nominated for the Liebster Blog by The Literary Tiger! I always enjoy her comments about the various books she’s reading (or wanting to read), which range from serious literature to fashion, to YA, to, well, you name it, so I am thrilled that she follows my blog and likes it enough to nominate me for this award (see some of the links at the bottom to others who have previously won the award).

The Liebster Blogger Rules are:  (1) Thank the one who nominated you by linking back; (2) nominate five blogs  with 200 or fewer followers; (3) let your nominees know by leaving a comment on their sites; and (4) copy and paste the award image on your site.

Thank you very much to The Literary Tiger for the nomination. I’m passing on the baton to a few of the lesser-known fabulous blogs I love and follow. I don’t know if  all of them actually have fewer than 200 followers. Congratulations to all of my nominees! 🙂

1. Lisa Hall-Wilson. Lisa, a free-lance writer,  is one of those generous souls who shares her knowledge about writing and publishing with the world through her blog. She also writes about her attempts to live a “Greener” life. Her ideas are fab.

2. KM Huber‘s Blog. Her sweet pearls of wisdom brighten my day.

3. Becca’s Blog. I always enjoy her lightness of spirit and the fun range of topics and occasional bits of fiction.

4. Vie Hebdomadaires. This is a quirky blog that I’ve been following for a while and blogged on for one fun week not too long ago. A new person writes each week, about their lives and whatever they are thinking about. Sometimes it’s photos; sometimes it’s politically charged issues. You just never know. The bloggers have come from all over the world. The current blogger names the next one, so it’s a daisy chain.

5. Novel Girl. Rebecca Berto’s light-hearted blog with writing advice and book reviews.

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Happy Earth Day and Creating Worm Compost

I love eating out of my own garden! I grow more and more food every year, it’s just so great to collect dinner from my yard instead of running to the store. Plus I know that it’s super-fresh and nutritious (every minute something is out of the ground, it loses nutrition. Stand in the garden and eat is my motto) and also pesticide-free.

Today, we emptied the worm bins into our greenhouse and I planted a little cold-weather stuff in there. It’s still too early to risk putting things in the ground outdoors, although it was over 80°F, and we have some over-wintered kale and spinach out there.
I have worm bins for the kitchen waste. I thought that the worms might die over the winter, but they survived. Several years ago I bought 2 large plastic storage containers. One went on the bottom to catch the run off, then I drilled lots of holes in the other. I filled it with wet strips of newsprint and a little dirt and bought a pound of worms from The Wonder Worman. I bury our kitchen waste in the bin and also dump shredded paper on top. With time, it turns into compost. When it got so that the worms had eaten most of the paper, I bought another plastic bin and drilled holes in it and put it on top of the other two (with the lid only on the top one) with wet paper, etc. Then kitchen scraps go only into the top bin. The worms mostly crawled up into it.

Then we bought a second tier of bins, since we had so much kitchen waste and so many worms. Last fall, my partner, who is quite the handy-man, built a structure for the whole thing, so we could get it off of the ground, where it was making a bit of a mess. The tap on the bottom lets us drain off the worm tea, which is a rich fertilizer too.

Our worm system

Our worm system

We emptied the bottom ones today and put the compost out in the greenhouse. Then the top ones went underneath to finish composting and the old bottom ones went on top. It’s a great system (before we added the third bin on top, I used to try to sort worms from compost and that was a pain, believe me. This top bin system worked great. I love it!). I put almost everything in  except avocado pits and skins, mango pits, and anything really hard like broccoli stems gets cut up first. Also, there are certain house plants that the worms just won’t eat. I had read that one should keep onions out, but our worms love them. The biggest thing is to keep the waste covered – you have to bury it or the worms won’t eat it and it will draw flies.

I think that eating local is super-important, and how better to eat local than to make your own compost and grow your own food!

It’s Sunday and time for the ROW80 check-in here.

 

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