Give the Groundhog Lots of Love Today!

Groundhog

Happy Groundhog Day! Doesn’t this groundhog look adorable? Or at least in need of a hug*!

Speaking of affection, you don’t have to wait another six months for the “romantic” holiday known as Valentine’s Day (Or Galentine’s Day)!

So, yes, I did create some lovey-dovey themed horoscopes, and did a tarot card reading…Horror Tree style, of course!

Hope you enjoy–with one click, and a happily-ever-after can be yours…or for your literary characters!

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How will you be celebrating Groundhog Day or Valentine’s Day in your realm?

*Giving random wildlife hugs is not a good idea, in real life. Just in case.

Wednesday-Not-Wandering-Yet-But-Soon!

Okay, so I think I’m almost-getting-there-close to escaping the dreaded Kansas–by a default I can’t change, but still…

So while I always manage to read ya’lls blogs no matter what, I may get pretty sporadic on that front, so I apologize in advance if I’m not there reading and liking. (I could probably just go through and quickly hit likes in the WP Reader, with no-one the wiser, but I’m too much of a Virgo-straight-arrow to do that, although I may not watch the videos as religiously, I at least still read them.)

Anyway, I’m so tired and burned out and feeling my age, and I’m just like “Can I really even do this road trip, much less ANOTHER move?” But needs must. If for no other reason, my kitties have been demanding: “Get us the heck out of Kansas!!!”

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Well, probably not. The last thing they want is another road trip, but they do love our sing-a-longs! Speaking of wandering, perhaps jaunt over to this blog, which has fun things like “Teaser Tuesday” where they post a photo and you gotta guess where it is. They have fun badges and a delicious buffet!

Speaking of wandering, perhaps jaunt over to this blog, which has fun things like “Teaser Tuesday” where they post a photo and you gotta guess where it is. They have fun badges and a delicious buffet! https://onespoiledcat.wordpress.com/

Pining over Squirrels on National Squirrel Appreciation Day…

Every time I prepare to move to a new place, I get sad that I have to leave all my bird and squirrel friends behind. I worry about how they’re faring without the fully stocked bird feeders I had out for them.

I miss my wildlife friends.

Like this one who came to my apartment porch a few times a day.

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Although, admittedly, Moon Pie was less than thrilled at the glass separating her from her potential lunch.

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I’d hoped I’d moved to a place where I could see my wildlife friends return year after year, or stay all year ’round. But even if I were staying, I would lose some of my friends due to the fact that it’s legal here to shoot doves and other like birds. And that’s even more heartbreaking.

I mean, who even still kills birds like that? And why?*

Kansans, apparently. And all the out-of-state hunters they let run amok across the Kansas landscape.

So, given that it’s also National Hugging Day, send out imaginary hugs to all your wildlife friends.

And, please, if you don’t want to hug, them, fine. (It’s not a good idea to actually hug wildlife. Remember, it’s WILD life.)

Just don’t shoot them.

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/january-21-2023-national-hugging-day-squirrel-appreciation-day-national-hyaluronic-acid-day-national-use-your-gift-card-day-national-granola-bar-day-national-fruitcake-toss-day/

*Rhetorical questions, of course.

Nothing is More Gothic than a Hot Summer’s Day . . .

The rise and fall of cicada songs, the mist rising from murky brown swamps, torrents of rain so thick you can’t see more than a foot in front of you.

And curling up with an equally atmospheric book borrowed from my grandmother’s bookshelf; V.C. Andrews, or Victoria Holt.

Even when the sun came out, those summer days still felt very gothic and brooding. There was something about the noisy silence of the swamps and the quiet laziness spent slowly swinging in a hammock that felt both carefree and sinister.

When a cloud drifted across the too-bright sun and everything was thrown into a twilight shadow, I would get this strange sort of chill that would leave me with goosebumps.

On overcast days, the air was thick with humidity–and portent–as I waited for the storm. And, although the sun was hidden by the gathering clouds, the green of the plants and trees became even more vibrant.

Okay, yeah, that was probably a lot of purpling of prose, but reading the stack of E. Denise Billups’s books I got with the Amazon gift card (was it really two winter holidays ago?) took me right back to those gothic-infused tropical summers.

It was even more poignantly delicious to feel like a young child again, staying up way past bedtime to read by the glow of a night light.

For you all, E. Denise Billups’s books may not be as evocative of summer as they were for me, but they’re still perfect for indulgent cozy-in-the-dark-with-a-flashlight reading this January. (Or audio in the dark, even.) Heck, if your power’s actually out due to all the climate-change-fueled winter storming, so much the better to read by!

Here’s the books/short reads that were in my E. Denise Billups’s TBR stack (only 18,324 more TBR books to go!):

The Playground

Chasing Victoria

Off the Grid

Tainted Harvest

Kalorama Road

Rebound

By Chance

Ravine Lereux

Keepers of the Gate: Twilight Ends (Book One)

And, if you want to follow up these author’s books with a spooky chaser from another author, check out As Fast as She Can by E.F. Schraeder.

Now, what’s on your gothic summer TBR wish list?

Whooping Cranes, Walter White, and Other Friday the 13th Weirdness (aka Relocation Part Two) . . .

My “ancient” cell phone starts ringing when I’m actually out and about doing something other than staring at my computer. Even luckier, I’m in a store by the noisy checkout lanes when a call came in earlier today. I’m all like “I’ll bet it’s about a JOB!!!!“, and I try not to sound overly eager when I answer the call.

The conversation went something like this:

“Hi, my name is *garble garble*, and I had your application sent to my desk for the *crackle static crackle* pusher.”

A pusher? What the heck? What do they want me to push? Drugs? Contraband? Hmm . . . maybe . . .

I start daydreaming about being the next Walter White. Or at least about all of Walter White’s ill-begotten gains. “I’m sorry,” I say, “I’m in a store and it’s noisy. Could you tell me who you are with and what sort of position you’re looking to fill, please?”

My phone suddenly behaves itself. “THE CART PUSHER POSITION AT WONDERFUL CHAIN STORE.”

Which, even though I’m not on speaker, everyone within a ten-foot radius can hear.

I get embarrassed and flustered, and I garble something back about I wish I could but I’m not able to fulfill the duties of a cart pusher because of . . . and, luckily, I stop myself before I head off into a TMI ramble about why I can’t move unwieldy objects around. I apologize, but say that I’m open to positions like X, Y, and Z.

(In all my years of working in grocery stores, I have never, not once, heard of that particular job–as a bagger–referred to as a “cart pusher” position. It’s mostly just like “Go out and get carts” and I would race out the door before the manager even got to the word “carts” because, you know, it’s a break from the customers who get oddly irked that you put their bread at the bottom of the bag and pile twenty soup cans on top of it.)

Plus, you know, if I were able to handle a more physically arduous job, it would be this one, without a doubt: https://www.conservationjobboard.com/job-listing-whooping-crane-chick-rearing-apprenticeship-baraboo-wisconsin/3478983987.

Right?

So, yeah, snarky and probably not-very-funny story aside, I put together a wishful-thinking list of the places I’ve gotten travel/relocation packets for, and I was going to do a poll for fun (truthfully, so I could learn how to do it), but decided just to list the potentials. Ideally, I would love to have a water source nearby, or wetlands, and a great library/library system–and be in a Blue state. Classical music, farmer’s market, good track record for animal welfare and advocacy/wildlife protections. I did like Wichita, but my experience in small-town Kansas has really tainted the state for me, sadly.

Willow’s Wishful Thinking Relocation List:

  1. Canada!
  2. Scotland!
  3. Anywhere in Maine (Freeport, Portland, Bangor)
  4. Salem, Massachusetts
  5. Montpelier, Vermont
  6. Oregon (Portland, Ashland, Medford. Bend)
  7. Des Moines, Iowa
  8. Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  9. Yellow Springs, Ohio
  10. Wisconsin (La Crosse County Library seems great! Milwaukee?)
  11. Missoula, Montana
  12. Austin, TX
  13. Detroit
  14. Chicago
  15. Minneapolis
  16. Fargo (Gotta see the woodchipper, right?)
  17. Kansas (Lawrence, Wichita, Kansas City, KS/MO)
  18. New Mexico
  19. Eureka Springs, AK
  20. Deadwood, SD

Annnnddd, I also have more candidates from lists of states/cities that have banned Roundup, and/or are hippie-type places, as well.

In lieu of a poll, feel free to vote by putting your pick in the comments! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go out and get carts, one by one by one by . . .

 

Lollygagging into 2023…

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Photo Courtesy of Canva.com

Recently, I wrote an article over on LinkedIn about how 2023 could be the year of the slowdown (in a proactive way). I’m not slowing down much myself, but I am taking some time out here and there for some fun things that don’t really accomplish anything useful. *gasp*

The pressure is on, though, to get the income needed to help me escape what I’m now calling the Nightmare Hell Zone* (and not in a fun way), so I’ve been applying for jobs in brick-and-mortar locations as well as online remote-work locations. One thought I’ve recently had was that I could maybe get a job with a chain and then use that to transfer to another location in the United States, or, perhaps even more wishful-thinking, transfer to a Canadian locale!

Anyway, until I go figure things out (or win the lottery–the HGTV dream home–Travel Channel Sweepstakes), I’m sharing some links for you to stroll through as you, yourselves, meander into 2023.

(Unless, of course, you just want to stop reading here, and go write a snail mail letter or take a day off next week to hang out with your houseplant BFFs. That’s fine too!)

Here’s January’s “Tarot Card Readings for Inspiration”: https://horrortree.com/january-2023-tarot-cards-for-creative-inspiration/ and their snarky horoscope sidekick: https://horrortree.com/january-2023-horoscopes-tempting-fate-in-the-new-year/.

And if another bomb cyclone is bearing down on you again, check out my “Cultivating Winter Magic” post as well: https://horrortree.com/cultivating-winter-magic-for-writers/. Who says you can’t go out in style, right?

*Want to exercise your creative muscles? Feel free to share (in the comments) your own wild and wacky names for a terrifying town in rural U.S.A.!

To (Not) Boldly Go…

Foundation
This is what futuristic-art book covers looked like when I was a kid.

It’s Science Fiction Day! https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-science-fiction-day-january-2/

There seems to be always something going around the internet about how people in some foregone era envisioned the world in 2023/in future times.

Although I read a lot of science fiction in middle school (ask me how much I regret getting rid of my Isaac Asimov Foundation series!) and I grew up with the excitement, and tragedy, of the space shuttle launches, I didn’t spend a lot of time imagining what the future would be like, in terms of technological advancements.

I did dream about space, though, and I imagined a space travel that was like comfortably swimming through a pool of stars and floating down to the surface of planets.

In order to learn more about the planets in actuality, I had to sneak into my brother’s room when he wasn’t there, and do covert reads of his Our Universe book. Because, you know, science-is-for-boys and all that nonsense.

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But mainly when I daydreamed, it was about past eras in history. Like prehistoric pasts. I only went so far as to hope that future worlds would revert to a natural utopia but without all the consuming-natural-resources-for-people-survival. I did like the concept of the Cloud City (but without the mining aspect) or some sort of self-contained habitat for people, however–a biosphere floating above the Earth biosphere where nature was allowed to do its thing.

How did you imagine the future to be when/if you daydreamed? What sci-fi books were your favourites, or what would recommend?

Oh, and here’s another fun little activity, if you want. Pinterest has released its “Pinterest Predicts 2023” and one of the predictions was that fashion would definitely take a spin around the intergalactic universe.

(My personal prediction is that there will be a “futuristic witch” gender fluid aesthetic emerge sometime. I also imagine that woven textiles and earth tones and such will be used in more urbanish/futuristic type clothing. Like steampunk meets hippie. https://www.pinterest.com/AuthorWillowCroft/2023-pinterest-predicts-sci-fi-fits/)

So if you want to imagine your own design vision for 2023, share the links to your Pinterest page (if you have one) in the comments and I’ll hop over and take a look!

(Which, truthfully, is also a confession that I haven’t managed to gravitate over to Mastodon yet! *smiles*)

Happy Science Fiction Day!

2023 has almost descended!

Happy New Year to those who celebrate it at this time of year!

I’m back from my mini-sabbatical, but haven’t figured out shit, except that I think I really, really want to move to Canada, after an on the fly comment-convo with My Dang Blog, and this post from Christy Birmingham: https://whenwomeninspire.com/2022/12/22/report-womens-healthcare-equality/.

(But that’s a long term goal.)

Anyhoo…I’d figure I’d set you a little fun “game”–make one fortune-telling-esque prediction for 2023–feel free to get as Mulder-out-there as you want–your imagination is the only limit! Please share your prediction in the comments! (Yes, only one!)

Also, I’m pitching this one last time (*laugh*) before I move onto my next kinda-sorta strategy–message me if you want a 2023 fast-track tarot reading–3-card spread for 3 dollars. (I accept payments via Paypal.)

And I got this wonderful planner as a gift over the holiday break (not an affiliate link or any of that stuff). Check it out here: https://nationaldaycalendar.com/store/#!/2023-Planner-for-Entrepreneurs-Marketing-Sales/p/504344692/category=140833111.

See you on the flip side!

Record Player

Pulling the Plug for the Solstice

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Happy Winter Solstice! Merry Yule!

I don’t have anything particularly festive planned, although I did wake up to a world today that looked suitably wintery. The snow had mostly melted, but the trees and bushes were decked out in their finest frost-lace. And the sky was wonderfully grey and gloomy as I spread out the seed and nut feast for the local birds and squirrels.

I have my virtual Yule log crackling in the background, and I’ve got a meditation for Freyja playing softly as well. And, wouldn’t it be nice to have a complete scent “library” from shops like this? https://blackphoenixalchemylab.com/product-category/yule-2022/

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I do plan on spending some time reflecting–I’ve got to come up with a way out of this Kansas nightmare–and I’ll be spending some time doing my favourite thing: organizing!

I’ve been having a nice comment-chat with another blogger about one of their latest posts re: organizing and planning strategies, and, although it appeared in my WP reader, they have grabbed the dubious honour in not only being WP’s longstanding follow/unfollow glitch casualty, but a first-timer in a glitch that has me both following this person, and not following them, simultaneously–and I didn’t even have to open the box!

Anyhoo, check it out–it’s a very funny post! https://stuartdanker.com/2022/12/20/this-is-how-you-overcome-procrastination/

And, Horror Tree never fails to deliver with another insightful article–this one’s about planning as well, in a way: https://horrortree.com/a-fresh-start-to-2023-how-about-we-dont-claim-it-as-our-own/.

So, in the absence of Twitter, I found some colourful days-of-the-week schedule sheets, and I created one for each social media platform/places where I post content (or have planned to post/crosspost content–examples: WordPress, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Horror Tree and…Pinterest!) that I can use as daily reminders, or reminders for tasks that are reoccuring. We’ll see how it works!

Speaking of Pinterest, I was really excited to get the 2023 “Pinterest Predicts” in my inbox! I do love Pinterest; however, I have to admit I actually let it lapse from my regular routine. But now I’m inspired to start exploring it again–and, yes, I did a planning sheet for that platform as well!

And, no sooner than I had typed that, I checked my email for something or other, and saw a notification to this post. Which is perfect in terms of creative-minds type of planning!

Regarding Twitter. Sigh. I went back and forth quite a few times–deactivating my account, reactivating it, etc etc. But then a news piece came onto my radar, and I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been aware of it. I mean, I am even subscribed to news alerts, call-to-actions, and sign-the-petition requests from PETA (and many more nonhuman animal and environmental groups) and I still only  just learned about it a little while ago.

I’ve put in some links that have more information (sensitivity alert).

Here’s the article I first read about this issue. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/dec/05/neuralink-animal-testing-elon-musk-investigation

Another article. theprint.in/tech/elon-musk-called-out-by-peta-for-neuralink-animal-testing/1253973/

PETA’s news release waaaaay back in February of 2021. *gasp* www.peta.org/media/news-releases/peta-to-elon-musk-use-your-own-brain-leave-monkeys-alone/

And, just so you know, I don’t just include animal advocacy in my short stories, I put in the volunteer work as well. For example, I volunteered for call-bank shifts that contacted New Mexico residents and asked them to reach out to their representatives about these chimpanzees: https://apnm.org/what-we-do/securing-sanctuary-for-chimpanzees/.

And, (almost) last but not least, the updates that were part of the inspiration for this post.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2557814/almost-45-alamogordo-lab-chimps-were-denied-sanctuary-in-2019-a-federal-judge-just-ruled-that-wasnt-the-right-call.html

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/12/15/1143143941/judge-former-research-chimps-retire-federal-sanctuary-haven

Okay, so now I’m at the end of this post. Like I mentioned earlier, I knew that Kansas probably wasn’t the best place for someone like me, but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Sometime in the New Year, I’ll post up about the mind-boggling experience that is small-town Kansas. Or at least this small town in Kansas. There’s a certain date that has to pass, and it’s also probably predicate on getting myself and my cats to safety.

It’s felt very terrifying, dangerous, and threatening here–I mean, I grew up in a pretty urban environment, but who knew a small town in Kansas could feel even more scary than that? *wry laugh*

At one point, I was thinking to myself that it could be a good place to be an animal advocate, as there was plenty of work to be done, and progress to be made. But, wow. Just wow.

It’s my plan to unplug from the online world for a few days, maybe even as many as five, starting tomorrow. But, you know, the road to hell, and all that.

Happy New Year! See you on the flip side!

record player

The Pea Soup . . . of Book Reviewing!

I love pea soup.

Both the foodstuff, and the weather phenomenon that moniker now commonly represents. And, this morning, I had the lovely treat to wake up to a delightfully foggy world!

And, as I’ve been wending my way through Blogville, I’ve been seeing posts about Dickens, about The Woman in White, and I’ve had a yearning to immerse myself in that spooky literary setting all over again (I haven’t read many of those classics since I was about eleven or so.).

As fate would have it, I was at the end of a TBR stack that’s been gathering dust for years (I just can’t seem to escape this constant state of upheaval. Sigh.).

The last book (hooray!) was The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd.

Since it’s so foggy out, I doubt you would have seen this coming, but . . . surprise! . . . the book was set in London, in 1850.

I couldn’t have planned my next read more perfectly.*

As I was reading it, a little postcard slipped out. “Oooh, what’s this?” I asked, when I saw the mysterious handwritten note.

It was from Random House, and it was inviting me to “share your thoughts” via @EarlyBirdRead and #EarlyBirdRead.

Oops, I thought, as I checked the book’s publication date. (It was released in 2012.)

I felt really bad.

But, admittedly, that sense of regret was fleeting, as I began to read.

It follows a disgraced detective named Charles Maddox, who now has to take the investigator’s equivalent of odd jobs that draw him even further into seedy back-alley London.

*Intermission*

I’m going to interrupt this Book Talk post to say that I can, and have, written proper book reviews. (Especially if someone wants to give me pots of money for writing book reviews! Cough, cough, hint, hint.) But what it comes down to in the end is: “Is it a book?” and I just love the process of reading a book so much that even if it’s not very good, there’s always something that I take away from the journey. And, if I just can’t get into the book, I set it aside, and wait for the right time to read it.

There’s dimensions to this process, but for simplicity’s (and this blog post’s) sake, that about sums it up.

So, I don’t really do traditional book reviews. Mostly I just five-star it on Goodreads. Plus, I have this thing where I just want people to make up their own minds about the book, and I don’t want to lead them too much.

*lights dim and curtain rises*

Okay, now that I’ve taken my place back in the middle of talking about The Solitary House, I’d suggest not doing what I did, which was unknowingly being in the slightly blasé mindset that I was in for a typical “mystery-set-in-Pea-Soup-London” and I think I skimmed over some of the atmosphere and early chapters when I first started to read it.

Don’t do that. Not even if you’re tired, burned out, and/or preoccupied with life stuff, like me. Take your time, read slowly, and let yourself be immersed in this book.

Because, wow. Especially as the weather (finally?) turns more inclement this week.

Also, I love the unusual vignettes the author has woven in that allow us into the world of key characters.

Remember when I was just talking about the right time to read the book, in the intermission above? It doesn’t throw the reader out of the historical setting of the story, but there’s an eerie parallel to what’s been going on recently, and what is currently going on, to the events in the book.**

I’m even going to take my own advice, and give this book an immediate re-read, despite the stacks of other books that are clamouring to be read (including the ones I got with my Amazon gift card a few years back).

I’m highly recommending not only The Solitary House as a perfect read for the holidays, but I’d even suggest the rest of the Charles Maddox series (even though I haven’t read them…yet!). I’m a “diehard” fan, for sure! (See what I did there? Well, maybe some of you. Maybe . . . one? No?)

*Nothing I plan has even remotely reached within (several) ballparks of perfectly. Just saying. Speaking of not planning, I was thinking of the decor suggestions I put in for my “Cultivating Inspiration for Winter” post over at Horror Tree, and I was thinking of the movie Beetlejuice and how it’s not really holiday-ish, but I somehow always associate it with the winter holidays, and guess what came on 95.5 classical music station I listen to? Yep, the main theme for Beetlejuice! Maybe things are looking up for this ole blogger!

**Okay, maybe a teeny hint-that’s-not-really-a-hint–the first book in the next TBR stack is Sexual Justice: Supporting Victims, Ensuring Due Process, and Resisting Conservative Backlash by Alexandra Brodsky. It’s definitely a fitting “right place, right time” chaser to The Solitary House.

Thanks to Delacorte Press for the copy of The Solitary House!

Rating: Five out of Five “Pea-Soup-London” Days!

Pairs well with: A nice stiff Brandy to settle the nerves, Read in your cozy armchair in front of a crackling fire. Don’t forget your hearty bowl of pea soup!

Links to the book/author website:

https://lynnshepherdbooks.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13147813-the-solitary-house