Category Archives: Music and Musings Monday

Okay now you can start celebrating winter holidays

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It is Dec 1st so now I am willing to listen to Holiday music, start putting up decorations, plotting our Solstice meal, and start making caramels. So many caramels *whimpers*

So here is one of my favorite funny holiday songs for your enjoyment.

Armchair Adventures: Shogun Japan- Samurai, Geisha, and Sake.

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Are you like me? Do you dream of meeting interesting people, trying exotic foods, and seeing places so beautiful they take your breath away? As we wait for unlimited wealth or Dr. Who to make us his new companion (make sure to dress everyday as if today is the day the Dr. comes for you) I invite you to join me on my Armchair Adventures.
This week Armchair Adventures invites you to travel through time to Shogun Japan.

Get something to drink, a snack, and settle in while I give you several book options you can use to travel back to a time full of beauty, ritual, backstabbing, and sexual perversion.


Ronin by Frank Miller
This is a guy’s book. Not that I didn’t enjoy it, but it’s hard to become attached to a Zen Fable that stops, it doesn’t really end because life doesn’t end and honestly I think the ultimate goal of Zen is to drive people crazy. However this is one of my husband’s favorite books so I read it. Like everything else I have read that takes place in feudal Japan there is rape- it is more descriptive then in the other books and was upsetting to me.

I’m not sure what to say, this is the story of a Ronin a masterless samurai, and his journey. He’s an ass, he doesn’t really change. You get a good idea of what life was like for a samurai and village people and was well written. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure I liked it- does that make sense?? No it didn’t for me either.
I say unless rape is a trigger for you, check it out then you too can be frustrated by Zen.

NOTE- My hubby says his favorite part of the book is the story of the boys training. It comes about half way through, and was good, once I dropped my over protective mom-ness.


Autumn Bridge by Takashi Matsuoka

This is a beautifully written book. I felt transported to Shogun Japan as I turned the pages. The customs, dress, and more importantly the Japanese perceptions of white people and what was happening were very vivid.
Because a culture builds upon its past I find understanding Japan and her people during the Shogun helps me to understand the cultural differences now.

Autumn Bridge is not an afternoon read; at least it wasn’t for me. If you are familiar with Japanese history and names then you might get through it faster, but I had to take my time in order to make sure I kept up with who was doing what and where and when we were.

This book jumps between several different time periods, and while it was confusing at first once I became familiar with the names and differences in the time periods I was able to keep up without too much trouble. And the author brings everything together beautifully. I really enjoyed this book and loved getting lost in Takashi Matsuoka’s Shogun Japan.

I do have one nitpick, I wish the romantic relationships had been as detailed as the fight scenes. I don’t necessarily mean graphic in description, but when they do come together I wish the emotion had been shown to us more. That being said, his other book Cloud of Sparrows is on my TBR (to be read) list. This is a wonderful book, and will definitely transport you to the time of Samurai, Geisha, peasants, and western invasion.


Bundori by Laura Joh Rowland

This is the second book of the detective Sano Ichiro series. While reading the first book wasn’t necessary I wish I had because the story is so good that I’m sad I didn’t start from the beginning. This book sends you into the world of 1689 Edo, Japan. The sights, smells, sounds, and tastes are clear and strongly described. Bundori is a murder mystery that kept me as fully entertained and engaged as learning about the world of a Samurai and Ninja. One thing I have learned is people either pretended to follow Bushido, but didn’t and were slimy backstabbing assholes, or you are Bushido’s bitch. No one follows Bushido, you are lying or Bushido rules you. * Hubby laughed but agreed.

I was drawn into this story, hooked into this world, and Sano’s troubles, including a love affair. I was left guessing until the very end as to who had done what and who’s side people were on. While I want to read the first book, the third is currently sitting next to me just waiting to be read and despite ALL the books I have yet to read, I’m thinking I might just go ahead and read this one right away.


The Way of the Traitor by Laura Joh Rowland

The third of detective Sano Ichiro is sent to Nagasaki, the only port in Japan that allowed foreign ships to land during the time of isolation.

It is so much fun to read about Sano as he finally gets a chance to see the ‘white barbarians’. If you have ever wondered how the Japanese viewed foreigners this si the book for you. Another murder mystery drives Sano to find the truth even if it might led to his death. His assistant Hirata, who we met in Bundori, plays a much bigger role and I really enjoyed the chapters in his POV. Like last time I wanted to scream when the ‘officials’ were backstabbing fake Bushido followers, and also scream when Sano’s hands were tied because he did follow Bushido to the letter.
However I want more, and after checking on Goodreads I have found there are 10 books in the Sano Ichiro series, so we can all escape to feudal Japan for a long time 🙂

WARNING all of these books have rape in them in many different forms. Ronin was the most descriptive, while the others books described it in a more detached way. The next time I read a book for traveling back into Shogun Japan I will try and find something that doesn’t include the rape of woman, men, and children. If you want to read these books but are triggered by descriptions of rape email me or leave a comment and I can go into more detail, so you can decide if its something you can handle. I normally can’t, but did fine this these.

Do you have a favorite book which takes place in shogun Japan?

No adventure is complete without food, which I shall explore on Wednesday day. And for the full sights and sounds of Shogun Japan I will have several movies which will make your journey complete.

Because I always offer music to start off your Monday here is a video of Japanese Folk Music Sakura with some beautiful pictures of Japan.

Blame Your Past Life.

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A while back Myndi Shafer tweeted about how she was afraid of libraries, and how this is not good for an author. I offered to create a past life which would explain this odd fear, and she said ‘go for it’. So here is a possible past life explanation as to why our dear Myndi would be afraid of libraries:

She knew it was wrong but she couldn’t stay away. One of the best things about being married was her husband’s immense library. It was against the law for her, a mere woman, to be able to read, but her father had taught her, and now she couldn’t stay away from the hundreds of books that lined the walls; books her husband couldn’t read.
She loved it when her husband left. Not only could she read, but every time he would leave her alone, he begged her forgiveness and promised to bring her back trinkets to prove he’d been thinking of her while he was away. Her uncle had picked a kind man for her to marry, and she was content. However, if her father had been alive, then her chosen husband would be a man who would have also found the law forbidding woman to read foolish and worth ignoring.

Her finger tips were numb by the time she had traced over the leather spines and finally settled on a book, a ghost story. Curled into the furthest corner of the room she hid. The servants knew she liked the smell of the books, that they reminded her of her father. They thought she gazed out the window, depressed by her husband’s absence. Today she brought some embroidery to pretend to work on.

Biting her lip she curled over the book, reading quickly as she feared for the heroine’s life and had to know what happened. So, lost in the story, she didn’t hear the door creak open, the footsteps echo through the room, or the gasp of horror as her husband found her.

The slick cold sound of a sword being pulled from its scabbard did pull her from one nightmare into another.
“Husband,” she whispered. Her mind raced as she desperately tried to come up what she could say to make this all right.

He snarled and in two steps he crossed the floor and ran her through. The book dropped with a splat in a puddle of crimson life. She stared at her stomach. Her blood coated the gleaming metal. “No, wife of mine will disobey the law. It is not proper or safe for a woman to read.” He jerked the sword from her body.

She gasped. Her hands fluttered, and she placed them on her stomach below the mortal wound. Tears ran down her cheeks. “My baby.”

Out of the corner of her eye she saw her husband step back. His voice echoed, but she couldn’t understand the words. Pain shook her body as she fell over. Chaos surrounded her, but all she saw was blood and books.

And this is why Myndi is afraid of libraries. So what do you think? Does anyone have another idea? Or an odd fear that we can make up a past life excuse for?

And some music to for your Monday. Today I have Seth Lakeman Race to be King.

What I Learned from my 30 days of Fruit Only

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Now that I have completed my thirty day cleanse I have gathered up some tips to share and hopefully remind myself of what I want to be doing.

1. If you are planning on increasing the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables you eat, brush your teeth more. The increase of acids can make teeth and gums sensitive. I would also recommend a toothpaste with baking soda; it helped me a lot.

2. If you have decided, or need to for health reasons, cut something out of your diet, don’t try to make new versions of old favorites right away. I’ll give an example. Let’s say you are removing dairy from your diet. For the first month don’t buy the substitute dairy products, or try to make vegan versions of favorite dishes. Make all new things, try different types of foods, and new recipes. The reason for this is twofold. One: if you wait a month, the non-dairy substitutes will taste better because your memory of the ‘real thing’ will have faded some. Second: if you are constantly trying to recreate favorites and they don’t taste the same, you will feel a lot more deprived because of what you are giving up. So for the first month of a new diet (and I mean change to a healthy diet not a fad to drop weight before an event), have fun experimenting with new recipes and wait to recreate favorites until that first month has passed.

3. Greedy eaters (don’t turn away from the computer you know who you are . . . ) You are the person who unfortunately lives with other people, and therefore there are others who eat your food. Normally this isn’t an issue, but when something yummy is served for a meal you overeat so they don’t eat it all! Oh, I’ve been here many times. Rod will serve something delicious for dinner, and I eat it all, maybe even lick my plate clean, and I’m full. But I want more, because it tasted good and because I don’t want my kids to eat it all! So I go and get more even though I’m not in the least bit hungry. Don’t worry, I have a solution: containers. Instead of getting seconds, get a portion-sized container and put some away for later. Don’t worry – if your family twitches when you get the container out of the cupboard, it just means the training with the cattle prod was successful and they won’t be touching your food. 🙂 Now that you have your second serving safely stored in the fridge where no one will touch it, you turn and glare at your family who all twitch slightly. Oh, yes, your food is safe. You can go about the rest of your night. You could eat it later or you could have it tomorrow for lunch. I adore leftovers for lunch. But the point is knowing that you have the option of eating more later will hopefully keep you from overindulging in the moment.

4. Eat the fruits and veggies first. A very common and healthy way to reduce calorie intake is to eat more fruits and veggies, which is fabulous. However, if I end my meal with a salad, I might feel deprived. I find that if I eat my salad first, then ‘fill up’ on the main dish I feel more satisfied. By eating fruits and veggies first I fill up on that lovely fiber. Then when I eat the main dish, I feel full faster and emotionally satisfied. I’m not eating small portions of the food I really enjoy then forcing myself to eat salad after because I can’t have any more. Don’t get me wrong, I love salad, but if I want to eat a small portion of homemade mac ’n’ cheese, I need to eat my salad first. Otherwise, I will go back for seconds.

5. DVR your shows, or watch them on DVD. I counted and in a one hour show there were twelve food commercials. You don’t need those constant taunts from food which typically look a lot better than they taste.

6. Stop watching food porn! As much fun as Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives is, watching it won’t help you stick to your new healthy eating choices. Unless the show is about cooking meals in your new plan don’t watch them, just skip over those channels, maybe watch sci-fi: those movie certainly won’t make you hungry.

7. Listen to your own body and do what is right for you. I know that I feel better when I don’t eat dairy. I am not saying that you must give up dairy, but that is what works best for me. What works best for you? I tried going slow, being gentle with myself, and going for my goal slowly didn’t work for me. I needed something more drastic to help break my unhealthy emotional eating habits. But what do you need? Will adding more fruits and veggies or reducing portions a little at a time work best for you, or do you need to do something more intense? Both are fine as long as you have support and help to make sure what you are doing is safe. Only you know what you need; trust yourself.

8. Buy new dishes, pretty dishes, small dishes. Seriously, perception is everything. If you are used to piling pasta all over a large plate, then you start measuring your portions, you will feel deprived when you see so little on your plate. If you get some nice dishes that are smaller, your new portion size won’t seem as much of a sacrifice.

9. Sleep. Getting enough sleep is so important to living a healthy lifestyle. You might be rolling your eyes, but when you don’t get enough sleep, your body starts looking for fuel to burn, aka food. And I honestly have yet to meet someone who goes looking for a nice salad with lean proteins when they are tired. No, you get a fancy coffee drink, then a huge pastry. But the carb loading doesn’t stop there, because all of that was too sweet so now you need something salty, to balance everything out. Next thing you know, you’re eating a sandwich made of Nutella and potato chips! When tired, your body craves fast-burning fuel, and you don’t have the emotional or mental strength to put a stop to those cravings. Please get enough sleep, it will make everything so much easier.

10. Find a physical activity you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a hard-core cardio or muscle-building activity, just something. As good as it feels to lose weight and put on a pair of jeans that you hadn’t been able to squeeze into for a while, it feels even better to improve in something you love. When you lose weight you are able to walk faster, stretch deeper, you don’t lose your breath as quickly, your movements are cleaner, and all of these little things translate into being better at something you enjoy.

11. Emotional eating is expensive, so why are you trying to make your self-nurturing cheap or free? When I make a list of things I can do to reduce stress, take care of myself, or simply enjoy, I always try to make a list of the cheap or free things I can do instead of emotionally eating, but why? Sure, I can’t afford to get a massage every day, but when I get overly stressed out and turn to emotional eating I don’t buy just a candy bar. I also get a bag of chips, order a pizza, then Chinese food, then I want some ice cream, and the list goes on. Emotional eating doesn’t actually help, so I just keep eating. And this gets really expensive. So imagine you are starting to feel stressed and instead of getting that first ‘treat,’ you make an appointment for a message, or a pedicure, or plan going to the movies, or whatever it is that will help you feel better and truly nurture yourself. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing you were properly taking care of yourself?

I hope these tips for a healthy lifestyle help, and please share your own. What works for you? What do you need to have to stay focused on the life you really want? What tips can you share for living healthy?

I am out of town, we’re taking all the work kids to beach then I go to a drug awareness workshop so I won’t be back until June 22nd. Please leave comments, I promise to respond as soon as I get back! I can’t wait to see what you said.

And of course since this is Monday we need some music. This is one of my favorite Shakira songs, I love playing her music when I clean it makes it go faster and I get some shimmy practice in 🙂

Come My Wonderful Spider Friends

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My poor husband frequently listens to me ramble about my day. He smiles indulgently as I chatter on about irritating children, paperwork, and conversations I’ve had during the day. When I talk about people, he tilts his head a bit to remember the person and get a reference to who I’m talking about. However, due to how frequently I interact with people on the computer, instead of getting a reference hubby’s brow wrinkles and he looks at me needing a context.

I blush and say, “They’re someone I met on the internet.”

Why do I blush?

Because I am old enough to be a bit embarrassed about having friends I’ve only met on the computer. You see, back when I was a teenager, the internet and chat rooms were a breeding ground for psychopathic killers, rapists pretending to be little children, and losers living in their mothers’ basements with skin the color of a mushroom.

Seriously, the internet was full of danger, and you had to assume everyone you met was lying about who they are. It was a scary time. And even though I am past that, it was so ingrained in me as a teenager that I am still a bit embarrassed by having ‘internet friends’.

So I have decided to re-name all of you, from now on you are all my spider friends. Since we met on the ‘web’ it seems fitting, and because it’s such a brilliant name, I wanted to put it out here for everyone to use and so I have proof that I was the first one to think of it. 🙂

So now when I talk about you guys to my hubby and he makes that curious face, I simply smile and say ‘Oh, they’re a spider friend,’ and go on with my riveting tale.

Do you get embarrassed telling people about a friend you only know via the web?

For your music today I have Soluna Samay who made it to the Eurovision finals. I’m sad that she’s trained herself to sing in English without the accent. The outfits are odd, not sure what if any look they are going for.

I am out of town, we’re taking all the work kids to beach then I go to a drug awareness workshop so I won’t be back until June 22nd. Please leave comments, I promise to respond as soon as I get back!

Being self-centered rocks!

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Today during yoga I was totally self-centered. It was just about me and my mat.

I didn’t think about how I looked to others.

Or how I was doing compared to the teacher.

I let go of my desire to push myself trying to prove the tubby middle aged woman does belong in the class.
And while I made a note that I need a tank top under my shirt, I didn’t worry about who could see down it.
Instead I just did yoga. Not perfect, awe-inspiring yoga. My yoga. Yoga that pushed my boundaries and help me connect to my body. Yoga that I did with my eyes closed half the time because it helps me keep my weight even on both sides of my body.

I felt at peace after yoga. I was sweaty, stinky, a bit shaking, and totally happy because I had taken time to be self-centered and focus on me.

It made me wonder what other things should I do while completely focused on me. How could I improve on things if I managed to set aside time and space to do them completely focused on me and not trying to manage kids, keep an eye on dinner, and write.

What about you? Are you ever self-centered? How does it help you?

The song for today is Falling Slowly from the movie Once. I’m sure I’ve used it before, but I just adore it!

A habit to change or accepting it’s who I am?

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We all have things we would like to change about ourselves. If you’re anything like me you have a long list stained with tears of frustration and chocolate finger prints. But how do you tell the difference between a bad habit that you need to change and accepting this is simply part of who you are?

Let me give you an example.

When I am doing something new and scary I hide. Not like curled in the closet under blankets, but I don’t go out, I don’t answer the phone, and I spend as much time reading as possible. I have done this for as long as I can remember.

You can’t see me.

It’s not simply things like trying a new recipe that will send me into hiding, but something big. Putting myself out into the world. A new job. Anything that makes me feel vulnerable, I hide. And as all good hiders know, you need good snacks when you hide; sticking, of course, to the four food groups: salty, crunchy, gooey, and sweet.

Is this something I should force myself out of, or accept? So far the mental berating of getting off my ass and acting like a grown up hasn’t helped much.

I’m not completely dysfunctional. I will go to the gym with my friend. I go to work. And I will still write (sometimes), and, yes, reading is important for a writer. Enough happens that I can put a good spin on the whole event. The few times I have accepted this is part of who I am, the faster I went through the cycle. So I’m thinking this is something to accept about myself, and the next time I know I’m going to feel vulnerable and therefore go into hiding I will prepare, by getting snacks in the necessary food groups that won’t add inches to my waist. Gooey is the hardest to find.

What about you? Do you have a part of yourself that could use some acceptance instead of treating it like it’s a bad habit to be banished?

And for music today I Gaitana from Ukraine

Help me Read Your Books!!!

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This is for ALL authors, so please listen up, this could mean the difference from my downloading your book and actually reading and reviewing it!

When I download books onto my Kindle Fire, I rarely just download one. So as I browse, get hooked by covers, read blurbs, and then buy, who knows how many will wind up in my Kindle that day?

Unlike a regular Kindle, the Fire doesn’t have a way to sort books, which I would do when I bought them if it did. Are you listening Amazon developers? I want to sort my books on my Kindle Fire.

Anyway, after reading Kristen Lamb’s WANA book, I realized it had been ages since I had read any YA books! I know I’ve downloaded a bunch. So I begin to scroll through my bookshelves and this is where the problem begins.

I can’t remember by title and author which books are YA, okay well maybe a few of them, but not most of them.

So I click on them, and I get the first chapter, which is okay, but what would be great? The blurb. Put your blurb on the first page of your ebooks! This way I know what I have bought and why.

If you are traditionally published, ask your agent and/or editor about doing this. If I don’t remember why I bought the book and it doesn’t grab me right away, or if it doesn’t fit my mood ,I move on. And instead of remembering why I got it I’m left with the feeling of not liking it.

THIS IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT IF YOU HAVE A PROLOGUE!!!! Yes, that did need to be in all caps. Quite a few of the books I searched through had prologues, which is either from the main characters past or way back in the past. I won’t know which until I get to chapter one. So I flip through the pages (one prologue was so long I gave up) to find Chapter One and then try to figure out if the book is YA.
This leaves me feeling frustrated by your book, which isn’t want you want.

Please, I am begging on my knees, help me change the way ebooks are formatted, put your blurb on the first page. Help me read your book!

Because it’s Monday- and I think I forgot last Monday I have music for you! It’s ‘I’m a Joker’ by Anri Jokhadze who is the first man to represent Georgia in the Eurovioson song contest! What do you think? Would you vote for him?

Statues and Swedish Pop

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My blog posts that are ready to go are on my laptop- which isn’t working, so yesterday afternoon when I realized I didn’t have one prepped I panicked. I’d been up till 1am the nigh before woke a bit before 6am and worked all day- so my brain is basically mush. So I turn to youtube in the hopes of finding something moving/ gross/ funny whatever to entertain you.
Okay so I have combined my need to research with posting something for today. Here is a video of a couple performing statue, I need to write this from the woman’s POV not sure how I’m going to do that just yet, but hopefully it works out well.

And because it’s Monday we need to have music, so here is the Swedish Eurovison Song Contest performer Loreen with Euphoria. I like the song, the dance is very different- seems like a modern dance which is something I’m not use to with a pop song. What do you think?

I Am Not Perfect

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I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shocking news . . . Better? good. As you know, I have recently published my first novel, which much to my surprise has not blazed across the literary sky crashed to earth and changed our very history.

However, it has been a major catalyst of growth. Not only putting myself out to the world to be judged(ACK!), but learning to let go, trust and face my biggest fear. People have found mistakes. *GASP* I wanted to melt like Elphaba in Oz when Dorothy threw water on her.

But nothing happened.

This was huge for me, because grammar and such is my weakest point, although I must point out the mistakes are things I should have caught, a word that should be plural that wasn’t, an ‘a’ that needed to be in the sentence. Stuff like that.

One problem with being self- published is I’m the only one to blame. At first I tried to be cool about it. It was a friend who gently mentioned it to me. Kind of a whispered, hey your zipper is down comment, one of love and not wanting me to show the world my undies.

So I’m pretending to be cool, then I didn’t get enough sleep, which means my brain starts to spiral down into depression while listing every mistake I have ever made in the past twenty years. This can go on for hours.

So, I forced myself to go to yoga and hated most of the class. I have never hated yoga before, but the teacher was challenging us, and my arms began to burn during the first down dog. See why sleep is important? Then she kept doing high lunge, which is not my pose. I almost cried several times. Had I been at a yoga studio I might have but this is a yoga class at the gym and so I sucked it up.
The teacher says something about going at your own pace, and how challenging these poses are, and that she’s proud of how well we’re doing. And it clicks. It’s more important that I show up, try, and work to improve then being perfect.

I will admit, because we’re all such close friends, that I did wrestle with myself over continuing to wallow in self-pity and pouting for the rest of the day or really accepting this new found grow-up wisdom and moving on. Before class was over I was feeling good again.

Writing, revising, and publishing a book is hard work, and I have learned a lot and will continue to learn a lot. I now have a new plan for editing so hopefully I’ll find these before my book gets to the reader. I am not selling perfection I am selling, I hope, a great story. Now I have read my book out loud (again) and corrected the mistakes I found, because while perfection isn’t the goal, improving is. To keep my fears of failure at bay I remind myself that I wrote 98,000 words, so even if 10% of them are wrong that’s still an ‘A’ 🙂

So if any of you enjoyed my story but felt you couldn’t give it a good review because of the mistakes email me, I’d love to give you a copy of the new improved Phoenix Child for your enjoyment. I don’t promise perfection, but improvement. And for those of you who enjoyed my story and were able to overlook my mistakes, thank you.

How do you deal with failure? Have you ever been afraid of something and then had it happen?

And to lighten our Monday some fun music, these women from Russia are too cute!