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#blogchallenge: Fortune Cookie #30


by Lillian Csernica on May 30, 2018

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Today’s fortune says:

Keep your feet on the ground

though friends flatter you.

A LEAF ON THE WIND

PART II

The night breeze grew stronger, blowing Kathleen’s hair back and clearing her head. She found herself halfway to that weird heat shimmer. She slowed. Leaf moved on, taking three more strides with those long legs before he looked back.

“Kathleen?”

“Yeah, sorry. I just remembered my New Year’s Resolution. I don’t make life-changing decisions when I’ve been drinking.”

“You are nowhere near the legal limit for alcohol in your bloodstream. The food you consumed and the amount of time that has passed are both providing assistance.”

“That’s another problem.” Kathleen backed up two steps and crossed her legs. Why had she walked so far from the car? Stupid stupid stupid. “I need a bathroom.”

“People who camp in this area observe the custom of digging a hole in the ground.”

“Well! Too bad I left my shovel at home.” Like she had any intention of squatting with a total stranger nearby. “Wait a minute. How do you know that?”

“Simple observation.”

“How long have you been watching this area?”

For the first time that Hollywood-handsome face looked shy, uncertain. “It was a routine sweep. Then, one night, I saw you. Sitting on your blanket, drinking something hot, eating chocolate cookies and looking at the stars.”

“When was this?”

“Two months ago. It’s so dull, watching the readouts. The lower life forms go about their eating and mating and territorial battles. And the occasional humans wander through.”

“Like me. All by myself, watching for shooting stars.”

“I–” Leaf held out his hand. “I shared that lonely vigil, that quiet time where the only thoughts you want to hear are your own.”

Kathleen heard real truth, real pain, in that lovely voice. She pulled herself together.

“It’s late. I’m exhausted. I need a bathroom, and I’m not leaving this planet without packing at least one bag.”

“May I walk you to your vehicle? A woman alone at this hour is easy prey.”

That turn of phrase very nearly made the bladder emergency a harsh truth. Kathleen took three quick steps backward and bent to snatch up one of the empty beer bottles. She also grabbed her purse, hiking it up onto her shoulder.

“That’s very thoughtful.” She closed that hand around her phone, ready to hit the emergency call option. “Why don’t you hang back a bit and keep me in sight? That way you can yell a warning if you see anybody lurking.”

It was time to get out of here. Time to go home, lock all the doors and windows, and shut down all her wifi devices. Time to have a real life lock down until she was sure these beer-fueled fantasies had passed out of her body. Maybe she’d wake up with nothing more than a headache and a funny story to tell.

“It would be best if you allow me to take you home. We can retrieve your car later.”

With that, Leaf stepped up to Kathleen, cupped her face in his hands, and kissed her. The sudden rush of sensations left her off balance for a second. Leaf breathed in, sucking the air out of Kathleen’s lungs, then breathed out, blowing his breath into her. A warm fog of drowsiness enveloped her. She sank into the peaceful tide of unconsciousness.

END

PART II

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Filed under Blog challenges, cosplay, creativity, Depression, fairy tales, fantasy, history, Lillian Csernica, love, parenting, romance, science fiction, Uncategorized, Writing

#atozchallenge: Y is for Yokai


by Lillian Csernica on April 28, 2018

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tvtropes.org

The yokai of Japan are many and varied. They go from humorous to horrifying. Some arise from the animistic principle in Shinto. Others are born from the angry, vengeful passions of the human heart.

These are a few of the more unusual yokai.

 

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Dodomeki, the spirit of the pickpocket or thief.

 

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Oni-no-Nenbutsu, the Demon who chants Buddhist prayers

 

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From Ancient Origins:

The baku, otherwise known as the ‘dream eater’, is a mythological being or spirit in Chinese and Japanese folklore which is said to devour nightmares. The baku cannot be summoned without caution, however, as ancient legends say that if the baku is not satisfied after consuming the nightmare, he may also devour one’s hopes and dreams.

 

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yokai.com

This is the Kawataguruma, a tormented naked woman riding on the wheel of an ox cart that’s ablaze. If this reminds you of the wanyudo, you’re right. Apparently the Wheel Monk has a female counterpart who rolls around collecting impure souls and putting curses on people.

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#atozchallenge: W is for William Harrington


by Lillian Csernica on April 26, 2018

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William Henry Harrington was born in London to a well-to-do family living in Grosvenor Square. His father is a banker and his mother the type of woman who rules the social scene with an iron if genteel hand.

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viator.com

A solid education led him to Cambridge, and from there he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. His mild, cheerful manner and sincere interest in his patients’ health quickly gained him a reputation as a reliable, reassuring, and competent physician.

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victorianpicturelibrary.com

Given a choice between law and medicine, Dr. Harrington chose medicine for two important reasons. First, he finds the human body a fascinating subject. Second, studying vast tomes of legal precedent and going through the complex ritual of the courtroom hold no appeal for him. Relieving the suffering of the sick is a more rewarding pursuit than dealing with abstract legal squabbles.

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sow.blog.jp

Dr. Harrington is not totally altruistic in his motivations. He accepted the position in Kyoto because he knew the Far East to have a long tradition of effective if peculiar remedies based largely on herbal preparations. In London during the 1800s cholera epidemics and the prevalence of tuberculosis make a trip abroad, even as far as Japan, highly attractive. Dr. Harrington will do anything to preserve the health and well-being of his wife and daughter, Constance and Madelaine.

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AtoZChallenge: E is for Exotic


by Lillian Csernica on April 5, 2018

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Steampunk is a genre full of wonders. Jules Verne and H.G. Wells,  our literary patron saints, created quite a legacy for those of us who want to write about airships and steam trains and submersibles and the amazing people who crew them.

Most steampunk fiction is set in Victorian England. Now and then you will find some in the United States. 1848 saw the Gold Rush bring people to California from all over the world. The Chinese laborers who built the railroads made a serious contribution to the spread of steam power. The abrupt rise in population created a demand for transportation, accommodation, and recreation.

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factsanddetails.com

1853 saw U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry arrive on Japan’s doorstep with four ironclad steam-powered warships. The Tokugawa Shogunate had no serious navy thanks to closing all ports to foreigners aside from the Dutch who were restricted to Dejima off the coast of Nagasaki. Perry’s “kurofune” or black ships opened the eyes of the samurai class to the wonders of the West. The Tokugawa’s isolationist foreign policy had left Japan lagging far behind.

When the Emperor Meiji resumed power and the Shogunate fell, Japan became a crossroads of competing European influences. The Emperor hired a Frenchman to design the educational system, a Prussian to help with the military, and then borrowed one million pounds sterling from Queen Victoria to bankroll the railroads.

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“View of the Steam Engine at Tanakawa, Tokyo, 1870” by Ichiyosei Kunitero II

Steam power caused a dramatic change in the life of every Japanese citizen. The samurai class in particular were hardest hit. Bushido, the Way of the Warrior, was now a quaint system of physical and mental discipline. Rifles, cannon, pistols and two centuries of military training made the samurai obsolete.

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In times of drastic cultural change and political upheaval, when the Old Guard is willing to fight and die to preserve their way of life, one finds a rich source of material for stories. Japan is an exotic land full of surprises for Dr. Harrington and his family. The key to a good story is conflict. By dropping a Victorian physician into an environment where he knows nothing of the language, the etiquette, or the political and religious beliefs, I’ve created the potential for conflict at every turn.

I hope you enjoy Dr. Harrington’s adventures in Kyoto.

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Reblog: Steampunk Fun in Burlingame


Airship captains, mad scientists and other sundry characters gathered for a weekend of steampunk cheer as Clockwork Alchemy invaded the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame, Calif.

Source: Steampunk Fun in Burlingame

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ME Moments & Other Oddities


I happened across this and found it both startling and reassuring. So this happens to other people too. How bizarre, but what a relief!

As the Fates Would Have It

Some days I feel like I am going out of my mind. No, maybe not quite that far. Perhaps the best way to describe it is that I feel like I’ve stepped into another reality or universe. I don’t even know when it began as I’ve felt odd since around 2012, but I remember the day it finally occurred to me – it was early December of last year (2017). I’d been watching random stuff on Youtube and I came across a video talking about the Mandela Effect or ME.

What is the Mandela Effect?

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon in which a large group of people remember things differently than how they appear now. The term was coined after Nelson Mandela because a large group of people remember him dying while he was in prison in the 80s or 90s, even though he died in 2013. This group…

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Reblog: Obstacles That Stop Us from Decluttering—And How to Overcome Them


Years ago, Cas Aarssen would spend hours looking for lost items, cleaning up and tidying up, and dusting items she didn’t even like. Sound familiar? Sometimes, we get so entrenched in our routines that we don’t see the belongings that no longer belong in our homes. Or we feel too busy, too overwhelmed, too exhausted to tackle a big project like decluttering. We think it’ll require energy and effort we just don’t have. Another obstacle to decluttering is actually letting items go. ‘We are especially reluctant to declutter things that were expensive, have sentimental value or things that we perceive as being useful ‘someday,” said Aarssen, an author and professional organizer. ‘Unfortunately, almost everything can land in one of these categories and by holding onto too many ‘useful’ items, we are making the spaces in our homes ‘useless.” We also don’t get rid of items because our stuff starts to represent different possibilities. And that stuff ends up replacing our actual habits. For

Source: Obstacles That Stop Us from Decluttering—And How to Overcome Them

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The Benefits of Solitude


For creative people, solitude is essential. Here are some excellent and inspiring thoughts on the nurturing power of solitude. Thank you, Kara!

Faith Over Fear

There is nothing I love more than sitting at home, alone on a rainy day, coffee in hand, reading a book or listening to music (which for me means about 90% Lana Del Rey, 10% other artists, lol) while I write. Besides a day spent at the beach or exploring a beautiful place in nature, this is my favorite kind of day. For most people, this kind of day is dreary and boring. And I get why they would feel that way. But for me, spending time alone is one of the best feelings in the world.

If you are an introvert like me, living in today’s fast-paced society can be mentally exhausting. You may frequently wonder what is wrong with you, asking yourself, “Why don’t I like doing what everyone else likes doing? Why don’t I want to go out and party every weekend?” It is easy…

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Journalism: a statement of principle


Caitlin Kelly has my sincere respect and gratitude for fighting the good fight so long and so hard.

Broadside

By Caitlin Kelly

IMG_20170411_131322486My husband’s team Pulitzer prize…

Some of you might be readers of The New York Times, a newspaper some consider the best of the U.S. press, and my husband’s former employer of 31 years. I also write for them, freelance, several times a year.

The paper now has a new publisher, a member of the same family that bought it in 1896.

He, A.G. Sulzberger, wrote this:

The Times will continue to search for the most important stories of our era with curiosity, courage and empathy — because we believe that improving the world starts with understanding it. The Times will continue to resist polarization and groupthink by giving voice to the breadth of ideas and experiences — because we believe journalism should help people think for themselves. The Times will hold itself to the highest standards of independence, rigor and fairness — because we believe…

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Too Much of A Good Thing!


by Lillian Csernica on December 28, 2017

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This has been the year I got serious about weight loss. 80 pounds gone! A great relief, both to my joints and to my various doctors. I knew the holiday season would present an obstacle course of temptations and trials. It would also bring many lovely gifts from the people who know me too well. A life without books, cats, and chocolate would not be worth living.

Here, then, is an account of all the goodies bestowed upon me.

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My Christmas stocking: (Yes, I’m about to turn 52 and my mother still stuffs my stocking.)

  1. Nutella with pretzel sticks.
  2. Necco wafersNecco wafers
  3. European solid chocolate Christmas ornaments.
  4. Two milk chocolate elves

Homemade Ghirardelli brownies

A Harry & David Tower that includes fudge, baklava, chocolate-covered cherries, cookies, and chocolate-covered popcorn they call Moose Munch.

A box of Mrs. Fields cookies.

A big red metal bucket full of four dozen Mrs. Fields cookies.

A Ferrerro Rocher Chocolate Set, dark, hazelnut, and coconut. (18 candies total.)

A Russell Stover Box, the Nuts & Chews.

Homemade Christmas cookies and a bag of homemade spiced nuts.

A Ghirardelli gift set.

Another box of Moose Munch.

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harryanddavid.com

Have I eaten all of this? Good heavens, no! Have I put a dent in some of it? You bet. Those Ghirardelli brownies didn’t last 24 hours. My husband and younger son did have their share. I confess the Moose Munch is all gone. We watch a lot of movies during winter break, and Moose Munch is the perfect snack.

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Soon I must go back on the wagon. Last January saw me commit to the California Medical Weight Management Program. This January I shall continue that commitment. It’s fine to whoop it up during the holiday season, especially when my friends and family were kind enough to give me the really good stuff!

Seamless Christmas borders

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