Category: personal

What Are You Afraid Of?

I’m not a person who typically scares too easy these days. I still don’t really enjoy purely horror movies, as I don’t like jump scares much at all. But over the past few months, I’ve had two experiences come up that highlighted some areas where I’m more afraid of things than I thought I was.

First, the balconies in Hungary. Two of the apartments we stayed in where on upper floors of the building. Fourth floor or so. And in both cases, they had these long outdoor corridors that had nothing between you and a very long drop to the ground but a seemingly-flimsy metal railing that wasn’t even that high. I found myself practically hugging the wall each time I had to walk down one of those, and I kept yelling at my kids to stay away from the edge. The image of how easy it would be for someone to fall over those railings was just too hard for me to get out of my head. I still shudder to think about it.

The second experience happened earlier this week. I was down in my basement checking my oil tank to see if we were approaching the time when we’d need to fill up. And as I was down there, in that dimly lit space stuffed with storage bins and cobwebs, something . . . scrabbled. Claws on cement. This was too loud for a scurry. I’ve got plenty of experience hearing mice in the walls these days. (Old farmhouse.) No, this had weight to it.

I froze and looked around, eyeing all the places where something my dart out from the shadows at me. I moved a little, and the sound repeated. This time I could tell better where it was coming from. I looked over and saw a large rat crawling up the wall and then streaking off into the crawlspace.

That, my friends, gave me the heebie jeebies.

Of course, I went right upstairs and grabbed the rat trap from my garage, plastered it with peanut butter, and took it down to the basement. But then I had to put it right where I’d seen the rat, and it took a fair bit of effort for me to get the gumption to stick my hand out and place the trap down. I managed to force myself to do it, but I couldn’t dismiss the thought of a rat darting out and attacking me. Never mind the fact that I’ve lived with pet degus for years, and I know how skittish the creatures can be. Down there, the fear instincts were much stronger.

(We’ve caught two rats now, if you’re wondering. And yes, I’m disgusted. But dead rats are much preferable to live rats. One of the things I like least about my house is how easy it is for critters to get in. Not enough to outweigh all the things I love about it, but still . . .

Anyway. There are two irrational fears I’ve recently had. How about you? Anything you’ve caught yourself fearing, even though you know you don’t really need to fear them?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Fun with Canning

We found a wild grape vine on our property last year. A really big one that produces the most delicious concord grapes. Saturday, we picked about 25 pounds of wild grapes. Last year we put them in the freezer and used them for smoothies. This year, we wanted to try branching out some and make juice out of them.

Friends had given us a simple recipe: put 1-2 cups of grapes into a quart sized canning jar. Add 1/2 cup of sugar and then fill the rest of the jar with water. Can it (boiling for 10 minutes), and then wait 4-6 months. Take out the leftover grape bits, and voila! You’ve got grape juice.

I wanted to give it a shot, despite the fact that I have never canned anything in my life. But how hard could it be? You fill the jars, stick some lids on, put them in boiling water and wait for 10 minutes. I know how to boil water, and that sounded like the hardest part of the process.

Denisa assured me it was trickier than that. Jars could burst if you didn’t do it right. They could not seal. Anything might go wrong.

Undeterred, I pushed for us to start right away. DC and I cleaned the grapes while Denisa got the rest of the canning stuff ready. We were sailing along, despite Denisa taking all these silly precautions. Washing the jars multiple times. Trying to keep them warm before we put them in boiling water. This wasn’t rocket science!

In no time, we had six jars ready to go into the water. Just had to wait a little bit for the water to get to a full boil. A few minutes later, we stuck them in all at once. They made a popping noise as they went in.

“See?” I told Denisa. “They’re sealed already.”

“Not quite,” she said. “They’re not supposed to make that sound yet.”

I lifted a jar up to prove her wrong. Except when I raised it out of the water, it was strangely empty. A little farther up, and the cause was clear: the bottom had broken off the jar as cleanly as if it had been cut.

Three of the jars had that happen. The other three were good, but that was a lot of work that disappeared in a quick spray of glass shards. I felt pretty stupid.

Thankfully, it got better from there. We ended up with around 10 jars of juice. Four or six months from now, we’ll know how it tastes. In the meantime, I’ve definitely learned my lesson: listening to Denisa when I’m trying to do something she’s done before and I’ve never tried is . . . definitely a good idea.

Go figure.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

On Turning 40

I’m not typically someone who gets upset with birthdays. In fact, I usually look forward to them. It’s like leveling up in video games, but in real life! Except in video games, when you gain a significant level (like, say, 40), it’s typically accompanied by a whole new range of abilities.

So far, the closest thing I can see to “new abilities” that I’ve gained is the ability to have aches in parts of my body that never ached before. Or for my eyesight to be getting worse. Though I’m getting better at falling asleep in random places, and that’s pretty close to a super power, so maybe that’s what I have to look forward to.

In any case, this birthday hasn’t quite left me as unruffled as the others. Turning 40 feels different. It’s pretty much impossible to pass myself off as one of the young crowd now. I’m 40. Younger than some, for sure, but not even close to anyone in their 20s still. (Though as always, the age that seemed “old” back when I was younger never feels “old” when I get there myself.)

I’ve been shorter tempered for the last few weeks. Broodier. Some of that might be because I’ve been very busy, but each time, I ask myself if it’s because of the age I’m turning. I haven’t been able to immediately dismiss the idea as preposterous, which shows there must be at least a bit of truth to it. Ah well. It happens.

Thanks in advance to everyone for the well wishes. If nothing else, Facebook does a great job of making you feel remembered on your birthday.

I’m having some friends over in the evening. My mom’s up from Pennsylvania, and we’ll go out and do something fun tomorrow. If you want to get me anything for my birthday, leave a nice review of one of my books on Amazon or Goodreads (assuming you actually liked it), or don’t leave one (assuming you didn’t like it). I’m up in Bangor at a library meeting during the day. The illustrious, exciting life of a 40 year old librarian.

Thanks to all of you who keep track of the blog and my life in general. I do appreciate you.

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Becoming a Local

It’s fair week here in town again. This was our 12th year being here for the fair. This time around, Tomas didn’t come with us. He was off at a Franklin Fiddlers practice during the evening, so the stars just didn’t align. The girls had a great time eating fair food and riding rides, as usual. (They also cleaned up in the competitions again. DC won over $30 in prizes, winning multiple first places in arts & crafts and flower arrangement.)

Of course, there’s only so much I can blog about the same event over and over. (I mean, I *could* blog about it over and over, but it’s the same experience year after year, and that’s not quite as fun when you’re not the one actually eating the fresh cut fries and the donuts.)

Instead, I thought I’d remark on a strange feeling I had last night as we were talking to the parents of one of DC’s friends. Suddenly I found myself in the position of having been to the fair many more times than who I was speaking with.

Not that I haven’t been in that situation before, but it’s almost always been in cases where I’m introducing someone to the fair. This felt different. I was talking to just another local, and I’d lived in town almost three times as long as they had. That’s not a usual feeling for me. Growing up, I was seldom in an area longer than a couple of years. Even in high school (the last place we moved), I was there for just five years before heading off to college. Once in college, I was always moving areas, so it never felt like I was one of the long-term residents.

Not that I really feel like one here, either. Maine is very big on making distinctions between locals (people born and raised in Maine) and people “from away.” If you moved here from somewhere else, you’re always going to be “from away.” I think that’s something that other places have largely given up on just because so many people move around elsewhere. Here in Maine, there are many people whose entire families just stay put.

So I’m often reminded I’m from away, and not really a Mainer. But personally, living somewhere for 11 years is the longest I’ve lived in one spot. Twice as long, really. It was a noticeably strange feeling to suddenly realize I’d been here that long.

I liked it.

I like having been around long enough that I saw lots of people I recognized at the fair. Long enough that when a problem comes up, I know multiple people I can turn to for specialized help in solving it.

I’m sure many of you have years of experience being one of the locals, but it’s still new to me. How long do you personally feel like you need to live in a place before you feel like you’re a local to that area? I still don’t feel entirely like a local (and doubt I ever will), but I at least feel more local than some, if that makes sense.

How about you?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

Who’s Your Favorite Author?

I’m not a fan of favorites. It always seems to take too long to decide on just one, and when I do, I feel like there are so many other wonderful things out there that I’m subtly insulting by having One Choice to Rule Them All. However, as I grow older, I’m also discovering that it doesn’t need to be that hard.

“Favorite Movie” is simple and obvious. I watch Groundhog Day once a year and have developed an entire tradition around the film. How could I have any other movie as my favorite? “Favorite Television Show” has also evolved over the years up to now, and it’s clearly The Wire.

“Favorite Song” is much more difficult, and I don’t have anything approaching that. Not even “Favorite Genre” when it comes to music. I have *least* favorite (Country), but that’s not the same thing.

“Favorite Author” always felt like a really tricky area for me. As a writer and librarian, there are just so many to choose from. But today I realized as I was reading that I definitely have a favorite author, and it’s clearly CS Lewis.

One of my favorite series growing up was The Chronicles of Narnia. I read them over and over, and I loved them all. I reread them recently with DC, and I still just adore them. So much fun, and so well done, in such small packages. But if that were all Lewis had to offer, it wouldn’t have been enough to catapult him to the Favorite slot.

But he’s written so much more than that. The Great DivorceTill We Have FacesSurprised by JoyThe Screwtape Letters, and more. He’s an author that appeals to me both for his writing and his thoughts. I can reread what he’s written time and time again. He entertains me, and he makes me think, and he has such a talent for making abstract thoughts understandable and relatable. I find myself quoting him often, both in writing and casual conversation.

So in the end, how could my favorite author be anyone else?

How about you? Who’s your favorite author (if you have one), and why?

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Like what you’ve read? Please consider supporting me on Patreon. Thanks to all my Patrons who support me! It only takes a minute or two, and then it’s automatic from there on out. I’ve been posting my book ICHABOD in installments, as well as chapters from UTOPIA. Check it out.

If you’d rather not sign up for Patreon, you can also support the site by clicking the MEMORY THIEF Amazon link on the right of the page. That will take you to Amazon, where you can buy my books or anything else. During that visit, a portion of your purchase will go to me. It won’t cost you anything extra.

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