Thursday, 8 March 2018

Pause and Reflect

Sometimes in life one has to pause and reflect. 

Today was one of those days. 

I witnessed an interaction between two people, where one was explaining a relatively simple concept and the other clearly didn’t have a clue what the first was talking about.  The premise was not too difficult to understand (in my opinion), yet no matter how many times it was explained, the latter couldn’t ‘get’ it. 

Source Unknown
Such lack of understanding used to irritate and frustrate me no end until I paused and reflected (many years ago) and realised a truth which few people consider – a person is only able to understand anything, absolutely anything and particularly what another means, from their own level of understanding (or intelligence).  Thus, a person can be the most brilliant person on earth, with the most incredible teaching skills but will not be able to make another understand something which that person’s brain cannot process.  It all boils down to what is known as the Intelligence Quotient (IQ).  There is certainly a degree of understanding which derives from education.  However, this becomes a circular equation as a person’s learning ability goes around in a full circle to their ability to understand.

A quick search for Intelligence Quotient produced a number of excellent papers.  Wiki is the easiest to read and understand and is the source I reference here.  Please do your own research and never, as I have so often said, believe a word anyone says without thoroughly researching the content yourself.

Since becoming aware of people’s IQ limitations, I am less inclined to become irritated when people appear to be totally obtuse.  I ‘get’ it.  Their understanding can only extend to the limit of their intelligence. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Another Day, Another Sadness

Sadness in a smile
Eyes of brine

Last night I said goodbye to my young spaniel boy, Chester - two weeks after saying goodbye to my great dane girl, Dayna.

He became extremely aggressive a few days ago and attacked our scotty for no known (at the time) reason.  He was being conservatively treated for swollen genitals but on Friday he wouldn't eat or drink and my wonderful daughter-in-law and I took him through to the vet again.  He was put on a drip and medicated over the weekend.  Yesterday, the scan showed that cancer had spread throughout his body and, even with chemotherapy, the prognosis going forward was not good.  It's difficult to think that the cancer was never picked up.  He has been in and out of the vet for the better part of a year.  Not for any disease-related problems but for other things such as yeast fungus and ear infections.  He'd had blood tests at these times but these showed nothing - they didn't even show anything this time.  His bloods looked good.

Chester loved, really loved people.

Just loving his humans

He also really loved cats and they loved him in return.

Chester and Serena - loving each other
 He'll now be running pain-free and grooming his kitty friends across the rainbow bridge.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Everyone's Piece of the Publishing Pie

I've finished my first book.  Let me clarify that.  I've finished writing my first book.  I've also started the process of applying to agents for submission of the book.  
Herein lie a few interesting observations.

In order to submit my book for publication, I cannot apply directly to any 'reputable' publisher.  This has to be done through an agent who will do the submission on my behalf.

In order to submit my book to an agent, I have to market it correctly in the first place so that the agent will even take the time to read it to then consider if it is worthwhile submitting to a publisher.

In order to submit the book to a marketing agent since I'm a marketing idiot, it will need to first go through a final editing stage before they will consider marketing it to an agent, for the agent to consider submitting it to a publisher who may still not find it suitable for their publishing requirements.

In order for an editor to consider editing the book, I will first need to find an editor familiar with the particular genre of the book (Yes, I've had editors who do not understand the genre and they have made a right Royal mess of the editing).  If they are familiar with the genre and are prepared to go through the editing process, the book will then need to be thoroughly reread by me to ensure that, in the editing process, the editor has not changed the context or meaning of any part of the story. This is tricky as editors are as jealous of their editing as writers are of their original work.

All of this needs to take place in a strict order so that:
  1. if the editor does his/her job and the book can be submitted to the marketing agent; 
  2. the marketing agent actually reads the work and is prepared to market it to agents; 
  3. the agents actually read the submission and are prepared to present it to publishers; and 
  4. the publishers actually read the book
there is still only a slight chance that the publisher will consider the concept of the story and the story itself  to be worthwhile to publish.

There are a few things I do really well and a tonne I do badly - marketing and selling are two of the things I do really, really badly so I know that I will have a few challenges getting my book published.  As I said, selling and marketing are not strong points and even if I improve them 1,000%, I will still only be mediocre to bad in them so self-publishing is out of the question.

What to do?  What to do?  I guess the only avenue to follow is to keep knocking on doors and to try, try and try again.  Publishing is not really about the contents of the book, it's about the links in the commercial chain and who can be and how they can be exploited.

As I said, herein lie a few interesting observations.

Friday, 2 March 2018

As we grow older

As we grow older, life changes.  Some of these changes challenge us, others delight us but, as we grow, life changes.  I am an Earth Child and love nature, with all its variety.  This has defined who I am in a very real way. 

Here is a glimpse of the cycle of my life.  I have three children, two boys and a girl (men and woman now :))
The genes run strongly in our family.  I put two pictures side-by-side and was amazed at  how similar my daughter and I look at comparable ages.  I take after my father, as does my elder son, while my younger son looks very much like his father.  My sons will each have their own posts - soon...

Me at 21 - a very long time ago

Lauren, my daughter, at not much older

On my own journey, which is the only real barometer anyone has, there have been distinct and noticeable changes as I grown from a child, to teen, to twenty-something, then to being a wife and mother, to being single again with a career to becoming a grandmother and now, to where I am at the moment. An interesting journey to say the least.

Emotionally, I for one, often but definitely not always, have become more controlled and able to deal with and have a level of tolerance for a lot more of the rubbish people say and do.  It's a case of knowing that no one is perfect and that we are all on our own paths to make life as good as possible for ourselves; I have also developed an understanding that everyone is at their own stage on their own path and that's perfectly alright.  What I haven't managed to control and that's really as it should be, is to block the pain when a loved one is ill or dies.  That loved one can be any living being.  A few Sundays ago, my beautiful Great Dane girl, Dayna suddenly became ill and was rushed through to Emergency.  She spent the night at an emergency veterinary hospital and the next day I fetched her and took her to my vet. She was operated on and, despite all the will in the world, her disease was so advanced, that she couldn't survive.  The vet euthanased her on the operating table.  There are many times when I wonder if I did anything to cause her disease or if I could have prevented it.  That is despite my being old enough to know that no matter what I did or didn't do, what happened, happened and I need to get a grip.  Tears are still close when I think of her, which is often.

Taken one week before Dayna's death

Altruistically, I used to always believe that it was my God-given duty to care for others. I still do in a very real way believe that.  What I neglected to do, however, was to give myself the same care and, it's only as I have grown older that I have come to realise that, in truth, precious few care for others, except as a means to comfort themselves.  There's nothing wrong with this and, thank goodness for it or there would be very little charitable work done.  I am now very selective in the work I do in this regard and am always cognisant of my limits - physically, emotionally and financially.  Here's a little initiative I started but had to stop because those people who should have been distributing the food to those with nothing, believed that they were also entitled and, in fact, more entitled to the food.  The immediate end of the initiative came when I was asked in a very aggressive manner by the people who were charged with delivering the food when I was going to provide them with their next package.  "We want our food."  I decided that I'm just not cut out to deal with the Takers of the world.

Bottled staples ready for distribution to the needy

Recreationally, (my new word for the day :)), although the mind is willing, there are things my body cannot and will not even attempt.  I love ballroom dancing and it's always been my most pleasurable form of exercise.  However, where in my younger days, I had no problem being flung in the air to be caught in the waiting arms of a dancing partner, I would no more dream of doing that, than I would of abseiling again.  Yes, I did do it and yes, I have crossed abseiling off my list of 100 things to do and yes, I never have to do it again because I hated it.  I love river rafting but no longer feel the necessity to test the theory of flesh bonding to plastic as one careens through rapids which have been given numbers to designate their torture level.  I'm now happy to stick to the 'baby rapids' where I'm not in danger of concussing myself or worse if I fall out of the boat/canoe.  I'm really accident-prone and my children are extremely grateful that I have now foregone my adventurous activities.

Technologically, there are times when I feel like such a fool with all the new technology around.  I mean, I grew up in a time when every child had a Playstation - it was called Outside and we were allowed back into the house when the street lights came on.  We didn't live other people's imaginings, we had to make up our own stories for our own games and figure out how to make the props for our games too.  Anyway, where this is going is, a couple of months ago, I noticed that, where previously, my hair was dead-straight, it has now begun to curl naturally.  I'm in love with the look and feel of it but it did take me by surprise.  I was speaking to my daughter about it and she asked me to send her a 'selfie'.  Well - technology-block of note.  Firstly, I absolutely dislike being on either side of a camera and, secondly, I didn't (and still don't) have a clue on how to take a 'selfie'.  So, I took my smart phone, went to a mirror and tried to take a reasonable photo to show my daughter my hair.  Much hilarity but I did get to show off my hair.

Humour has become one of the most important aspects of my life and I find ways, every day and many times a day, to laugh or chuckle.  Laughter really is the best medicine.

Live, Love, Laugh and you'll have an "L" of a Life...

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A Big Freeze in Skodsborg, Denmark

While our weather here in Johannesburg, South Africa vacillates between temperate days, some really hot days, some clouds and a little rain, our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are experiencing winter in the most extreme way possible.  

Our temperature at the moment (15.30 on 1 March 2018) is 26C.  Kirsten, my friend in Denmark sent me the following pics of the sea in her home town of  Skodsborg beginning to freeze in sub-zero temperatures.  Wow!  

Skodsborg was built in 1700 by King Frederick IV as a summer residence and it's called The Whisky Belt by locals because it's the preferred residential area of the very rich.  My friend is privileged to live among the rich and famous in a Spa hotel which has been converted into flats.  Commuting time is 20 minutes into Copenhagen by train.  What a pleasure!

The Converted Spa Hotel where Kirsten Lives

I understand that on a clear day, they can see all the way to Sweden and can even identify a really high building, called the Swinging Torsoe in Malmö, on the South Coast of Sweden.  If you know anything about football/soccer, you'll know that one of Sweden's most famous football stars, Zlatan, Ibrahimovic grew up in the ghetto of Malmö.

Apart from the absolute beauty of the scenary, this is nature showing off in true style...

Amazing to see how the sea is beginning to freeze

Snow white sand with a meaning all of its own

What a sky!

For the ambitious, here's a Wiki link on Skodsborg (Google Translate isn't too bad in translation into English :) )

Monday, 26 February 2018

Escape from Mount Vilipend - Chapter 26 - The Temple of Lighte

Chapter 26 - The Temple of Lighte

The Rending

I have been rent
To the depths of my being
I have been rent
I exist




A tempest of tears
To sense
To sense
In pain
In gloom
In identity
In truth
In sanctity
In power
In all
Alert to
Gossamer rustlings
Fine shiverings
Lightning flashes
A depth of joy
In a flood of Lighte


As Tirǽche walked towards the building, she felt an uncanny influence pulling her and she quickened her steps. The urge to run almost overcame her but she used every bit of her willpower to continue walking and tried to slow her steps.

‘It’s bad enough that this whole landscape has about it an ethereal and surreal feeling, but I’ll not easily be coerced into doing that which is so against my inner wisdom’ thought Tirǽche. Nevertheless, Tirǽche started walking even faster as something within the building drew her inexorably to itself.

Fear trickled into her consciousness and not all her thoughts of the building being The Temple of Lighte lessened it. She was almost at the wall when she dug her heels into the paving and, perspiration beginning to drench her clothing, refused to move.

“You feel you are in the midst of peril and dangerous events. Yet you must remain true to your principles and insightful ideals. You resist. Yet, you resist with courage, Tirǽche Raeldysce. You were ever one to remain faithful to your sense of justice, and in like manner, you are true to your inner being. You will soon find yourself free of this period of adversity.”

All the blood drained from Tirǽche’s face and she felt herself slump to the ground.

‘More riddles’ she thought, but this time, terrifyingly, the words were from a deep, booming voice which reverberated throughout her whole being.

She tried again to get up but, try as she might, she could not raise herself. Tirǽche looked up to ask someone to help her to her feet. There was no one at all. The people who had been walking near her and who had given her comfort as she made her way to the building that she wasn’t on your own, were nowhere to be seen. She was absolutely alone. She stared at where Je Jarc and Ilin had been sitting. Not only were they not there, the whole area was empty. There were no tables and chairs, no people milling around. She was staring at she knew not where but it certainly wasn’t any place she recognised.

Shock engulfed her once more as the thunderous voice continued. “For a moment in time, you shall wait within and occupy yourself only with inconsequential things. You shall be victorious but not yet. Use this period within to question everything you see and feel. You are being equipped and you shall be equipped to suit your purpose and your future. Fear not, Tirǽche Raeldysce, you shall regain your strength and your success shall be the success of all.”

“Who are you?” asked Tirǽche in a tremulous voice.

“Who I am is of no consequence; know only that I am who I am. Who you are is, however, of the greatest consequence. Enough! Stand and enter within.”

As easily as lifting herself on her hands, Tirǽche got to her feet as if she’d never had a moment’s problem in doing so previously.

She looked at the walls of the building which seemed to be pulsing with a life of its own. She could still see no door.

“There is no entrance.”

“Oh child, you are lost indeed. The Darkenighte is accountable for so much harm. Until you are able, I will assist you. Seek for the way from deep within The Knowledge of Ages, Tirǽche.”

Tirǽche did so but found nothing.

She began to say so but saw, to her amazement, that, without knowing how, she was standing within The Temple of Lighte.

She looked around her in amazement and asked “how did I get inside?”

There was no answer and, somehow, Tirǽche wasn’t at all surprised. She was on her own within The Temple of Lighte to find answers to questions she did not even know how to ask.

As she looked around her, Tirǽche thought sadly of Urus, Sháine and Weda’Sel. Would she ever see them again? She missed them so much. Tears clung to her lashes.

She did not understand any of what was happening to and with her since Miralais, Jatan and Je Jarc left the camp with her. Being taken from her loved ones was difficult, yet, if she only understood what was happening in her life, perhaps she could tolerate the sadness. She felt lost and very alone.

Slowly, Tirǽche turned once more to look around her. The Temple was different from anything she’d ever known. Different too from anything she could discern from within The Knowledge of Ages. The hall in which she stood was divided into two sections; an inner area which appeared to be lower than the outer edge. The walls shone golden and prisms of light shone from the iridescent, gossamer drapes which adorned them. The drapes were embroidered with the most beautiful and natural fauna and flora which looked as if they were poised to step out of the material and join her. What was most striking, however, was that the embroidered scenes cast coloured shadow images on to the flawless white mineral floor.

She nodded vaguely to herself as she thought ‘the images themselves appear to be alive’.

Tirǽche was entranced. The effect on her of the beauty within which she stood was truly awe-inspiring.

“I feel like I’m standing within the aura of a faultless universe” she mused aloud as she cast her eyes downwards once more.

She could not take her eyes off that floor.

Images of a crimson and gold fire danced on the floor. Tirǽche could almost hear the crackle of the flames. Fowl of all kind flew through the blue of the sky and then plunged into an indigo sea inhabited by swirling, whirling water creatures. Land creatures too appeared to prance and gambol among shimmering trees and flowers. The ascension of The Lord Dayl shone with such burnished splendour that Tirǽche, who at first found herself compelled to stare at it, had to turn her eyes away, just as she would have done if she’d looked up at The Lord Dayl in all his magnificence in Faeré.

Eventually Tirǽche shut her eyes tightly. If she was ever going to find out what she was doing in the Temple, and as much as she would have liked to have spent her Evertime within the beauty of that chamber, she knew that she would have to start to move around.

Strangely, when Tirǽche opened her eyes, she was still in the same position within the same chamber but nothing felt the same. The scenery was still as breathtakingly magnificent as it was when she first saw it, but she was conscious of, rather than saw, a slight and subtle shift.

‘It almost feels as if I have been absorbed by and am part the vision itself, looking outwards towards the chamber in which I am standing. That can’t be possible.’ Tirǽche laughed mirthlessly, shook her head and said in frustration. ‘Who am I trying to convince? Nothing in this whole place falls into the sphere of ‘possible’ or ‘impossible’. In the words of Miralais, ‘I am where I am’.

As she spoke, Tirǽche looked about her again. She put her foot forward as if to move towards one of the animals. Her foot quivered, became completely translucent and then suddenly went completely lame causing her to fall ignominiously in a heap to the floor.

“What was that?” Tirǽche looked at and held her still translucent and useless foot. She rubbed it to try and get some feeling back into it but she could still see through it. The shock of being able to see right through her foot numbed her. She knew her foot was still there because she could feel its outline, despite it having no substance to it. If she had for a moment thought that the experience was only imaginary, her pain and discomfort disillusioned her of that thought immediately.

“You are looking in all the wrong places, Tirǽche” whispered a calm, quiet voice.

Tirǽche swung around to confront the speaker but there was no one in sight. Before she could say anything, the voice started speaking again.

“If you try to walk away in any direction again” it continued “you will, in the most fundamental manner, find yourself absorbed by your surroundings, Tirǽche. I urge you not to attempt to do so. I tell you this in truth not to alarm you but for you to understand because we cannot allow that to happen. You are a critical pivot and your unique abilities are greatly needed right now in Faeré.”

‘More riddles’ Tirǽche thought as she shrugged, as much a rebuttal of the person speaking to her as for her supposed abilities which were supposedly of such critical importance. If she had had any special abilities, of which she had never been aware, she had no recollection of them. She surmised that had she had weird and wonderful abilities, any such abilities would most certainly have been destroyed during her time in Mount Vilipend and the horrors she experienced while she was there.

Tirǽche needed answers. All she had been given since her abduction by Miralais were riddles and what she perceived to be misinformation. If there were answers at all, there was one place where she would find them and now that she had found her way back to it, she wanted the comfort of its familiar awareness. Tirǽche relaxed and felt herself enter into The Knowledge of Ages as a vibrant fulfilment washed over her. She sank into her memories. Yet even in that sacred place, she found no knowledge of any special talent at all.

She lifted her head to speak but before she could, the voice, now filled with authority, said “You shall not be lost through ignorance, Tirǽche; either your own ignorance or that of anyone else. I shall guide you.”

“If I were in any place other than within The Temple of Lighte, I would have found your words, coming from someone who has not even had the courtesy to show or present themself to me, presumptuous. What is it about you Keepers, because I presume that you are one; that you enjoy keeping yourselves hidden while you spout riddles?” said Tirǽche a little tartly. Before the voice could answer, Tirǽche continued. “Nevertheless, it appears that, for whatever reason, you are more conscious of me than I am of myself, so I accept your guidance.”

“You are without doubt as wise as I have been led to believe” said the voice with a hint of laughter in her voice. “You may not like the situation in which you find yourself, but you will work with whatever solution is available to you. That, Tirǽche, although you may not know it, is an uncommon ability.”

“In your experience, I dare say that may be true” retorted Tirǽche. “If you were to spend any time with those with whom I had been travelling before I was abducted and brought here, you would very quickly learn that what you believe to be uncommon is exceedingly common among my people and my peers.”

“I certainly trust that I will have time to spend with your people, Tirǽche but they are not important for now.” The voice continued over the sharply inhaled breath which Tirǽche simply could not control. “We have no time to discuss the merits or otherwise of what you call you ‘abduction’, Tirǽche. We have a lot to do, for, although not of your making, you have been idle for too long and Faeré has desperate need of you, even though I do know you don’t understand this right now. Sit awhile and rest and then you shall lean on me as we journey. Your foot will recover in time but not now, not yet.”

“Will you show yourself to me?” asked Tirǽche in a far more subdued voice. She was still very aware of how Miralais and the other Keepers had approached Urus and herself, and she could still mentally feel their restraining force and strength. She was out of her depth and, if she’d not known it before, one look at the floor through her translucent foot confirmed it for her. She was not going to attempt anything reckless.

Tirǽche wondered too what could have come over her to react as tetchily as she had done. That was something which Urus would have done but not her. ‘Well clearly it is something which I would have done’ she thought. ‘In fact it’s something which I definitely did do. I shall have to apologise to Urus for thinking that he was unable to control his emotions when Miralais confronted him.’

“To not attempt anything unwise is one of the answers you seek, Tirǽche. To answer your question, I shall show myself to you when you are ready.” The disembodied voice sounded quite gleeful. Tirǽche tried to control her irritation.

‘Yes, I definitely owe Urus an apology’ she thought and then said aloud “That doesn’t really make any sense at all. How can it be an answer if I haven’t yet fashioned a question?” The slight edge she’d uncontrollably had in her voice as she began to speak dissipated quickly as she remembered Urus, and she completed her question sounding poised and interested. The tinkling laughter of the owner of the voice even made her smile. That surprised her.

“Do you have any concept of where you are, Tirǽche?” The unexpected question hung in the air for a moment.

Tirǽche replied quite calmly, she thought. “Yes, I know exactly where I am, as do you. I’m in the entrance chamber in The Temple of Lighte.”

“Do you really know that, Tirǽche? Yes, you are indeed in The Temple of Lighte and yes, you did start your crossing in what you believe to have been the entrance chamber, although it was only you who believed that that was where you were.” The voice chuckled as Tirǽche swivelled her head. “You can look again, and it will make no difference,”

Tirǽche bridled unconsciously. She knew where she was, of course she knew where she was. Everything was exactly as she’d first seen it, except for her foot which was still painful, strangely translucent and not functioning.

“Look around as much as you want to, Tirǽche; you will still believe you are where you believe you are and what you thought you saw when you arrived. Yet where you think you are, although it is certainly somewhere, is now merely an illusion laid bare.”

There was no quiet laughter now from the voice. Tirǽche thought back on something which had earlier caugh her attention. ‘What did whoever owned the voice mean by where I’d started my crossing?’ she mused. The turn of phrase was startling and for some reason which Tirǽche could not understand, it worried her – a lot. She had the impression that there would be no more mirth and that everything from now on would be in deadly earnest.

“It was and it is” said the voice as it responded vocally once more to her thoughts. Tirǽche wondered if she would ever get used to having absolutely no privacy, even in her thoughts.

“When you are ready, you will realise that nothing is truly private in the sense that you understand it to be. True privacy is found in true understanding. False privacy comes from a lack of understanding; and understanding is that which is found in the understanding of that lack of understanding.”

“What I would really like to understand is the riddles in which everyone seems to speak. Is there no natural speaking among you people?” asked Tirǽche.

“What is natural to you may not be natural to others, Tirǽche. Your understanding is coloured by everything which has happened in your life to bring you to where your understanding is at any point. What appears convoluted and requires further thought sometimes proves the easier to understand.” The voice laughed when Tirǽche made a sound much like ‘harrumph’.

“I’ve learned over time that some wise ones have an amazing way of coaxing out the secrets of Faeré to unfold before them, whereas many others have little tolerance for questions, sometimes acting as if natural curiosity were inappropriate prying. Miralais will explain all and you’ll then know that the answers you inadvertently give are truly in response to questions of which you have not yet thought. Until then, let us begin your journey, if you are ready?”

“Yes, I am ready” said Tirǽche with a nod. “If what I am to learn allows me to go back to my life as I knew it, I will willingly do whatever is necessary.”

“Your life as you knew it will never again be as you understood it to be, Tirǽche but you will return to those you love, albeit with a vastly different understanding and power from that which you knew before.” The voice soundly a little emotional but Tirǽche could not quite work out what the actual sentiment was. The voice continued. “This will manifest when there is a need for it. For now, I’m content, Tirǽche, with your reasoning.”

“I thank you. I don’t mean that to be ironic by any means, I really do thank you” said Tirǽche. “If not for your presence, I don’t know what I would do.”

“You are welcome, Tirǽche, but my being here is the reason you are where you are” replied the voice.

“All I ever get from you is riddles” sighed Tirǽche. “Alright, my Guide, do what you need to do.”

“As we begin, you will first need to accept that to develop the courage you require is to present the kindle of your lesser mind to the flames of your will and greater mind. Your greater mind is your compassion, your values, your intuitive awareness, higher consciousness and understanding. All this resides within your consciousness and unconsciousness; what you know as The Knowledge of Ages. Although it may appear to be the peak of your reality, it is simply one state of your ever-unfolding inner nature. Let your consciousness enter into The Knowledge of Ages and lean on me.”

Tirǽche raised herself on her good leg and, as she wobbled, she felt rather than saw the arm take hold of her and prop her up. As soon as the arm had steadied her and she began to release herself into The Knowledge of Ages, Tirǽche felt herself plummet into a void and closed her eyes against the nausea which rushed up to meet her.