Nesting, NaNoWriMo, & Getting Ready For Labor

Tenby Harbor, Wales 2010 (click to enlarge)

I’ve been busy lately getting ready for a month-long project that will likely be a bit painful in its production. For the last three or four years I watched wistfully as others talked about their own birthing experience with NaNoWriMo and wished that I could spend the month of November totally engrossed in turning out at least 50,000 words hoping to have a reasonable first draft for a novel at the end.

Work and travel commitments have kept me from being able to focus on it in the past and even though I now have a part-time job, I plan to work my life around getting this done. I won’t totally abandon my blog, but you may only see me here a few times a week during November.

I’ve had an outline tucked away on my computer since going to Wales last March with John. He took me to his favorite haunts and shared loads of stories about the years he spent there as a teen. One tiny detail in a story he told me lit a spark that has evolved into the beginnings of what I hope will be an exciting, read all night, can’t put down, novel with a twist.

Elizabeth Harper - Tenby 2010

I bet you’re wondering why I’m standing on the steps in this photo … after reading the historical marker above my head, I politely insisted John snap a photo of me standing under it. I’ve had my photo taken in London at another house where this famous female author lived and was excited to see she’d been here too.

I’m not sure whether I’d been touched by the muse at this point in our trip. I can’t remember the exact moment when my idea began to take shape, but I clearly remember what John said that inspired it.

You will too when the story is told as it’s pivotal to the storyline.

George Eliot

When you add up the inspiration, location, and content for my novel …  seeing this commemorative marker makes it feel even more pressing that my story should be completed.

How about you … is anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo this year or do you have any experience with it that you’d like to share?

What I Missed Today

Mist hanging over the Camel Valley 25 Oct 2011 - John Winchurch

John went out for a short walk a little while ago and I stayed in because I have to be somewhere in a few minutes and I thought it might rain.

I wanted you to see what I missed because I was worried my hair might get wet.

What a waste!

I could have gone with wet hair or taken a minute to blow it dry, but I opted to skip the walk instead. In the future, I must remember there’s always more than one option.


I Hate Bullies!

I hate bullies and I’m willing to bet most of you do too.

We tend to think of bullying as something that occurs with children on the playground or at school events, but what happens when bullies grow up and words become fists designed to demean and devalue your opinions as soon as they leave your mouth.

I recently had a multi-commented exchange with someone on a friend’s Facebook page after I commented on a video she’d posted. The exchange got became heated when I got into a back and forth bit with someone listed as a friend of hers. Even though I discerned fairly quickly that he needed to have the last word, I could not help responding to the misinformation and high-handed way he was twisting the truth to suit his argument.

That he tossed the word ‘Rape’ into what he assumed would be the final death-blow to the exchange was no surprise. Having seen the image below on a website bearing his name, I think I can see what he thinks about women and their role.

The name of his website has been removed from the top of the door. (No need to give him anymore attention by sending you there and there’s so little to see that it would be a waste of your time.)

Name Calling

As you can see below, he defaulted to accusing me of name calling when I identified a list of bad behaviors he shared with a few other people who communicated in the same way.

Bullies like MF always try to deflect in conversations they want to win and will say whatever to put you on the defensive or try shock you into speechlessness. Tossing out comments like ” What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen?” tell me all I need to know about him.

And let me say this, if I had been in a name calling mood I could have easily come up with a few ugly and insulting ones beginning with his initials, but you know how I hate to swear on my blog so I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks after you read the exchange below.

My friend Kimberly posted a George Carlin video on her Facebook page that sparked the drama below.

  • MF :This one always makes me chuckle. He will go down in history as one of the greatest observers of mankind and the human condition, and I loved him for it. BUT, when I hear this rant, all I can do is smile and say, that rigged, tilted table worked out pretty good for you, George!
  • EH: I just had a bookstore owner here in Cornwall tell me that one of the biggest problems America had was with the election process. He was amazed by how much money can be ‘donated’ to political campaigns and the impact of all that backscratching later. He moved on to the lack of access for all to health care in the US and why Americans would continue to make snide comments about the British health care system when at least they have access to care. A standout difference for me is that NO ONE loses their house or life here because they cannot afford to pay.
  • MF: No one here doesn’t have access to health care. It’s a myth I’m happy to disprove for anyone willing to make a “field trip” with me. As for no one losing their house because they cannot afford to pay…How profane! Then why in the world would anyone actually pay!??? Maybe I’ve got it all wrong…I mean Europe is in such great shape these days, who am I to question how things get done over on that side of the pond. The brat riots of the past Summer were a blast to watch on TV. Never get enough of hearing “I want, I want, I want” in those cute accents!
  • EH: ‎” No one here doesn’t have access to health care. ” You have got to be kidding! There are plenty of people who fall in between and are not able to have proper health care. Don’t make me spell it out. I too could take you on a “field trip” to disprove what you say. And I see I should have said … those with heath insurance who still lose their homes and everything they have because their co-pay or out of pocket costs exceed everything they’ve saved. Good luck to you or someone you love if you ever need more than you have in your bank account. As for the riots to which you refer, you might wish to read this historical account on London rioting going back to 1189 before you try your hand at humor on the subject. More

  • MF: Hilarious. I doubt you could spell much of anything out to me, much less this subject. Believe what you want. If anyone doesn’t get health care in this Country, it’s because they choose not to go. Doctors give away hundreds of thousands of dollars in free care every year to patients they are forced to treat, or lose standing in the hospitals they work out of. If you don’t get treatment here, you simply didn’t go. I know that’s hard for the brainwashed left to get their arms around…We’re such a mean place and all, but that’s reality, and I pray that at some point folks like you will make some effort to educate yourselves instead of watching Michael Moore movies.
  • MF:  And the list of riots and their reasons is really funnier than the brats of last Summer. I’ll give that one to you. Hilarious stuff you all have destroyed property and killed people over. I mean, from wrestling and hookers, to a gin tax and tailors? Wow! Wish we had TV back then!
  • BBC(Another commenter) I know someone who has private insurance and has paid on-time for all his life. He has AIDS and they changed his prescription co-pay AFTER he renewed his policy. He has to come up with $6000 up front for 3 months of life-saving medication that he only used to have co-pay $200 a month. He can’t afford his mortgage payment or other bills if he buys the drugs. He and his partner are middle class, pay their bills on time and have been screwed by an insurance company they have been loyal to for years. There is a waiting list for the drug assistance program that he does not qualify for because he has private insurance. Their household makes too much money for medicaid and now he is more than 50 days w/o meds that save his life. He could die. Thank you America for your AWESOME health care… This is what happens when corporations are in charge of who lives and dies. They will choose death if it saves them a buck every time…
  • MF: And government would naturally do it better, Beth? What does government do better? Where do they operate more efficiently. Your friend’s story is quite sad. He should have read his contract. That’s what a “policy” is. They can’t “change” anything that isn’t in the policy upfront, meaning there was a clause applicable to co-pay changes. Maybe he didn’t read it or understand it, but it was there. Public health care plans around the world operate almost completely free of any contract with citizens, meaning you really are at their mercy…No contract whatsoever.
  • BBC: Marc, In European countries where they have nationalized healthcare, he would get his meds. Of course he read his contract. They sent him his new policy AFTER he paid to renew by phone after being assured he was renewing the same policy with no changes. Even if he did not, it is wrong for companies to kill their clients out of greed. This isn’t an isolated incident many families who have members are falling through the crack just like this. AND my friend doesn’t give a rats ass about your sympathy – he just wants to li by the live. He has a case to sue but he will likely be gone by then…
  • EH: ‎@ MF~ It depends on the government now doesn’t it. In the UK my drug co-pay is the equivalent of a one time payment of $165 for the year. That’s for any and all meds I might need. Cost of any doctor visits, MRI, CT scans, or whatever else … zero! @ Beth ~ I’m really sorry about the state of things with your friend. Contrary to what MF says insurance companies do find all kinds of ways to cheat people regardless of what’s in their contract with you. It’s a vile industry and they lie! People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.
  • MF: Why would he get his meds in European countries, where they DON’T even approve current U.S. drug treatments for something as “common” as CANCER???

    And I’ve seen the UK plan in action, Elizabeth, it’s no where near what you’re telling us. The waiting list, and number of approved treatments isn’t even in the same ballbark as treatments available in the U.S. But if it’s so good, then Beth’s friend should hop a plane and get treated for free…They do that over there, don’t they? You know, like we do for Mexican citizens here.
    OH!!! And BTW…You all are apparently going broke faster than us! What happens to your plan then? Guess you’ll just have to riot some more…
  • MF:  ‎”People should not have to die or go bankrupt because they are ill.”
    That statement sums up so much…It really says it all.
  • EH: M ~ You have no idea what you’re talking about when it comes to care in the UK! I live here, you don’t, and I’ve seen the plan in action here as well as in the US. I lived with the US healthcare system for 48 years and worked in it as well so I do know a great deal about it. You’re spouting the same crap people like Limbaugh and Beck do to mislead the masses who are too scared or ignorant to discover the truth on their own. You appear to be cut from the same blowhard bullying cloth of misinformation that L & B come from … as least you share the same communication style. Loud, condescending, and obnoxious, with a total lack of empathy or compassion for others … I think that about describes your approach to difficult topics.
  • MF: And so what do all those insults make you. Stay brainwashed. Here’s an easy way to “prove” which one of us is right.

    Where does the world turn for health care? Cuba, Venezuela, Great Britain…HA! I’ve been in our system 47 years so I’measy qualified to challenge this myth. As for your English system and the bureaucracy of the government system…An oldie but goodie that shows just how these bureaucrats run a system:
    And you still can’t come up with an answer about being broke. What’s going to happen to health care when your people finally rape the last wealthy citizen? What happens to all that “free” stuff then?
    As I said many times…If ignorance is really bliss, the Left hails from Eden.
  • EH: No insults, just fact … you showed your colors, I called you on it, simple as that. It’s funny how you can say all that you do in the way that you do and tell me I’m insulting to you! Right! The UK is actually in a much better financial position than the US right now, but it’s not just about US versus UK dollars, most of the world’s economy is in a bad way. I didn’t address it because we were discussing healthcare, the insurance industry, and why you were giving misinformation as if it were a fact. As for your link, I could counter with many from the US including all day waits in the ER’s of America where people died waiting to be seen. No system is perfect, but this one works well most of the time. I can also talk of how I’ve seen air ambulances land in fields in our village to take men in their 80’s to the hospital for a heart attack or a teenage girl who fell off her horse … cost to the patient, nothing. We pay taxes here to support the NHS and it’s not the huge tax numbers that Limbaugh, Beck, and others claim. It’s no more than I ever paid in the US, taxes are just allocated differently in the UK. Medical care is not a big money-making enterprise in the UK, it’s designed to take care of the people, not make them slaves to high premiums and a false sense of security. Now, we’ve cluttered Kimberly’s wall with more than I’d like to admit, so feel free to have the last word. I’m done! My apologies to Kimberly for such a public display in her space.
    MF: No facts; only arrogance. The first defense of the Left for almost a Century. Play it to someone else. You got called, and your refusals answer all I needed to know. Thanks…It was a kick…Don’t break anyone’s windows while enjoying the weekend.

Funny how he keeps bringing up the recent riots over here. Does he have a point or am I just supposed to shut my mouth and concede defeat because he thinks he’s clever?

Listen To Your Heart

John and I went out for a coast path walk recently and had an interesting coincidence occur as we were walking back after stopping for lunch in a pub by the sea. I paused a few times like I always do to snap a photo or two and had to hurry to catch up. I was huffing and puffing as I ran up the hill behind him and said, “Hold on a minute, I need to catch my breath!”

I stepped past while turning to face him and taking his hand in mine, I put it over my heart and said,” Feel how fast my heart is beating,” and just as I said it, I looked to the right of where we where standing and saw the little heart you can see on the tree below.

I couldn’t decide whether it was natural or carved by a lover from long ago, but standing in the quiet woods completely alone with the man I love, I thought it was a sweet affirmation of what you can discover if you’re willing to stop and listen to your heart.

Give all to love; obey thy heart.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Trapped In The Tower – When Your Internet Service Goes Missing

I’m writing this in hopes that someone will see it and know that I am still here.

Most of last week I’ve been stuck in the dark hole of little to no internet service. There are brief flashes where for a few moments it seems as if I’ve been set free by the return of easy fast access to unrestricted updates and contact with friends, but my hopes are continually dashed when the wheel on my computer stays stuck in spin mode.

Except for the occasional Facebook download and the odd email sneaking through I am without contact.

Facebook lets me see a glimpse before shutting down and my internet contact is gone so quickly that I hardly have a chance to say anything in response. Gone is the ease with which I once clicked a LIKE button and only once yesterday was I able to sneak out a message after several hours of rebooting, disconnecting, and reposting my update on my Facebook profile.

If you’ve been waiting for a blog post … this one is likely coming to you by way of Alaska rather than Cornwall, England as I think I shall have to email it to my sister so she can post it to my blog for me.

It’s funny what you miss when you are locked away from access to what you once enjoyed. It feels like a solitary confinement of sorts where I can hear the guards talking to each other about what’s happening in the world, but I’m only able to catch a few words here and there and never enough to satisfy my desire for more information.

While my intention is meant to be funny with this whinging update, I am actually finding little to laugh about during my unplanned withdrawal process.

BT Internet seems to be doing little to rectify the problem and I imagine them sitting somewhere having another cup of tea, checking the Facebook status of their mates content in the knowledge that they are the main game in town and the only real choice for service.

I have to cut this short to see if I can get this out before the wheel begins to spin again, I think I see someone down below that I might be able to hit with this crumpled ball of words if I can toss it far enough to get their attention … looks like they’re turning around, that’s right pick it up, come on … you can do it, please oh please oh please, YES!



Trusting What You Know

I’ve struggled with a couple of decisions lately that might take away from the time and creative energy I give to my writing.

I’ve tried mind-mapping, the Ben Franklin approach, and lots of conversations with people I trust. The decision can only come from me and it’s more complicated than just yes or no.

Normally the first two methods work for me, but if I’m still iffy I like to talk with people who know me well enough to keep me honest. This time I reached out a bit farther offering up a prayer of sorts before I went to sleep a few nights ago.

In the remnants of a dream I remembered this image as I woke. It was so clear I knew it immediately that it was from a photograph I took in 2004. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I had to do a serious search of my external hard drive to share it with you.

Although the spider in the center is ever so slightly soft in its focus, the message is not lost on me. That the focus is off feels like part of the message, and the spider in the photo, it’s known as a writing spider.

I have a few more people I want to talk with, but I think I’ve found the answer.

What do you think?

What I Wanted To Say Yesterday, But Didn’t

Yesterday I wrote a post about turning desperation into inspiration. It was actually a watered down version of what I originally wrote and then edited away thinking as I pressed delete that I had no right to sit on my comfy couch, in a home that I had little fear of losing, with plenty to eat and thanks to the NHS, no worries about my healthcare needs, and talk about what I thought people should be doing to change their thinking, and their lives.

I felt so safe compared to those who actually inspired the post that I honed it to the bone and took out all the personal references to myself and my family and sent out a shadow of what it once was to my readers.

It never felt finished and I debated back and forth as to whether I might take it down altogether until I read this piece by Caitlin Kelly.

Somehow she managed to say what I could not and it’s so much of what I was thinking that I can’t help but wonder if there’s some great cosmic thread that runs through our thoughts.

About an hour ago I received a ping back that led me to her site letting me see that she had linked to my post from yesterday. After reading her post ‘Break The Rules Already!’ I found the courage to come back and complete my own.

So much of what she said was similar to what running through my head, but I didn’t feel entitled to say. I wasn’t brave enough to put it out there because my life bears no resemblance now to those I was really writing it for.

My post was intended for the ‘We Are the 99 Percent’ folks whose faces and stories stayed with me long after seeing them posted by friends on Facebook.

I felt so bad reading about their daily desperation and lack of hope that I began to hide them … clicking them away on Facebook while feeling almost guilty as my life feels so luscious and good now.

I didn’t want to talk about the poor years, the public housing, or free government cheese that I remember as a small child.

I didn’t want to talk joining the Army so I could take care of myself or not wanting to burden my dad and step-mom with my education when they had a four-year old at home.

I didn’t want to talk about how many jobs I worked after the army to get through college or how I passed on things I would have enjoyed like football games and anything else that cost money or took hours away that needed to be spent working.

I didn’t want to mention the debt that came from an uninsured accidental pregnancy and how many years it took to pay that off while paying off student loans or the melanoma that grew because I couldn’t afford to have a suspect mole removed when was still just a suspicious spot that would later grow into cancer.

I didn’t want to talk about when my five year-old daughter and I lived in a house with a hole in the roof large enough that the rain poured in so fast it would fill a five gallon container and spill over to the floor too quickly to empty it.

I didn’t want to talk about when we lived on a $100 dollars a week.

It’s hard to say I’ve been there when you’re not anymore and someone else still is. It’s even tougher to say, ‘This is a chance to find a new way’ when all people can talk about are the old ones that no longer work.

Reading the stories of all who are struggling makes me want to shout … don’t give up, find another way, find each other, come together, rethink what you know and begin again!

When the roof let water into the only home we had and the cost to repair exceeded my ability to pay, I climbed into the attic and built a drainage system to divert the water outside before it could spill through the ceiling below. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked.

I had no carpentry skills and no background on drainage systems or roof repair, but I had a need and I had imagination.

That’s what I wanted to say yesterday, but didn’t.

Should This Be Addressed To You?

Turning Desperation Into Inspiration

We all have moments of being stuck in indecision. It can be like a spinning hamster wheel in your head leaving you circling round and round never moving in any real direction and unable to decide which way to go.

Some people make long lists using a sort of Ben Franklin approach with a line down the center of a page and headings of pro and con to help when making a decision. This may work well if a yes or no answer is required, but most of life’s questions need more than a this or that kind of response.

Sometimes you need a more creative approach to sort things out and mind-mapping is one that works well for me. It offers more than just a yes or no solution and often helps clarify the question.

Internet Image from Wikipedia

Mind-mapping expands rather than limits my options and often uncovers possibilities I hadn’t considered when struggling with a problem. More importantly it takes me out of an energy sapping cycle and gets me moving in ways that are more productive.

Mine tend to look more like the one below with just words rather than the one above with the pictures too.

Mind-mapping Guidelines (Image From Wikipedia)

While there are software programs designed to help with mind-mapping, I prefer the old-fashioned way using colored pens and paper, a technique I learned at my first creative workshop around 1982. It’s been life changing and I’ll be forever grateful to my good friend Bill Merritt, for taking me along that day.

Wikipedia Image

Give it a try if you’re feeling stuck in some area of your life to see what you may discover and if you’re willing to share your results, send me a photo and I’ll post it here.

Strangles Beach – Part Textile, Part Naturists

The lovely and unusually warm October weather made me suggest another beach trip yesterday and after a quick bite of lunch we packed a few things and headed for a bit of sand and surf.

Strangles Beach

My only request when John asked where I’d like to go was to suggest somewhere we had not been before. While we had walked alone the path above Strangles Beach before on our way to Crackington Haven, this was our first time to actually visit the beach.

Strangles Beach - Clothing Optional Side At The Far Right

A walk to Strangles Beach is not for the weak of heart as some of the footpath can be slippery littered as it is with broken bits of slate. From a distance it looks a bit brown and rocky and I wasn’t sure I would like it as much as the last few beaches we’ve been on lately, but as we were making our way down, I found a different sort of beauty in the landscape.

It was a fairly steep and long walk down and this couple seemed content to watch the waves from a distance. Only later did I realize they were sitting in a direct line of sight to the nude section of the beach.

Part way down the slope John pointed up along the top of the cliff several hundred feet above us at some wild-looking goats. I wrote about them here and have some great close-ups of them with the previous post. The best I could do yesterday was the photo below from a distance.

Do have a look at my earlier post about them. I had forgotten how clear and close the photos were from that day.

As we were walking to the beach, John mentioned that he thought he remembered that a part of this beach had a spot were you could nude sunbathe if you wanted to feel a sea breeze all over. It turns out he was right. I went exploring while he was having a swim and discovered a unofficial clothing optional beach that you can just make out the photo above.

It’s behind the big rock and is larger than you see here. I didn’t shoot any images of the size of the beach because I didn’t want to seem as if I was shooting more than the landscape.

If you double-click on this image you can get a feel for how high the walls were around us. There are some tiny dots in the center of this photo that are people. You have to do a bit of wading to get to the nude beach and if you’re not careful you can get stuck there when the tide comes in.

There are loads of rocks on this beach making it a bit slow going if you take your shoes off too soon, but the softness of the sand that waits just past them can be seen around the rocks below.

I love the granite stripes in many of the rocks and I was tempted to pocket a few to bring home.

I caught this photo of John after his swim as he moved towards the beach to dry off and sun a bit.

We stayed until the sun began to change and packed up for the climb back up to the coast path and the car.

You can learn more about the nude beaches in Cornwall by clicking here and there’s an interesting video on the Guardian online news site about the naturists lifestyle. People are shown walking and talking in the nude so it might not be okay to view it at work during your coffee break.

While I am disinclined to take my own clothes off in public, I don’t mind other people doing it especially if I’m enjoying a more isolated stretch of beach where it’s more likely to occur. After a discreet look around it seemed as if most of those going bare were either young and fit or older and very comfortable in their skin. I may get bolder as I grow older.

The view as we were making our way out was lovely and I kept pausing to snap photos every few feet. I think John thought we would never make it to the top, but there was so much to see.

A last look back …

Naturist or Textile

I almost forgot … naturists like to refer to people who keep their clothes on as textiles and I’m curious about my readers … are you a naturist, a textile, or a little of both.

Swimming In Late September Sunshine At Lundy Beach

Mother nature is having a last bit of fun with us these days when it comes to summer weather and John and I have been outside soaking up as much possible to tide us over through the winter rain and grey days to come.

Flowers and plants that normally bloom in the spring and early summer are a bit confused and we’ve seen color that is usually fading or long gone by now popping back out. I’ve even seen buttercups along the way and you know how I feel about those happy spots of sunshine.

We’ve been so busy going and doing that I’ve neglected to do much writing and even email seems like a bit of effort so if you’re waiting to hear from me, please forgive my tardiness because we have another glorious day waiting to be explored.

We spent one afternoon at an almost empty Lundy beach. Only thirteen miles from our front door, we couldn’t resist a trip to get a bit of the soft sand between our toes.

It didn’t take long before John slipped out of his clothes and into a pair of swim trunks. I thought the water was a bit chilly for swimming, but I did a fair amount of wading and exploring while he was enjoying the water.

There were loads of mussels everywhere making us think of food long before it was time for dinner. I don’t eat mussels, but I have seen John work his way through more than a few bowls. It’s usually when we’re traveling so I always associate it with a sweet memory.

 I think I was saying, ” The beach, the water, I need to go in for a swim … “

This look is about pure joy. I was so happy to be having this experience with John. The day was stunning and we were on a huge stretch of beach with only a couple of other people who were mostly tucked away behind their bit of rock making it feel like a private beach.

I think the look on my face tells you all you need to know about why I didn’t go for a swim too. The water was just a bit chilly for my southern blood. I’m more used to the tepid bathtub temps of Florida and there was no way I was going in without a wetsuit.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t play in the surf a bit though and I caught a wave that drenched my backside a bit before going off to explore a little more of the rocky caves along the beach.

I was trying to show John how wet my shorts were, but they look dryer here than they actually were.

  Here’s a shot of John swimming in the sea. Brave man!

There were two dogs who came a bit later that were darling to play with … they loved the beach and were chasing balls and playing with me before the woman they came with went off to a more secluded area to sunbathe and took them with her.

Here’s a cave sort of place I found with walls that became light green the farther in you went.

You can see a bit of the green wall in this photo.

  John took this of me as I was wading back in for a second look.

The water was deeper in some places and I could have gone farther into the cave had I been willing to get wet.

 This one shows you more of the green walls which John thought were probably slate.


After we dried off and John changed back into his clothes, we climbed up onto the coast path and finished our afternoon at Lundy with a short walk of about half a mile back to our car.

The reentry views are just as pretty as the beach ones and time spent along the coast path is always worth the trip.

October may be here, but it looks and feels like a spring morning so we’re off in a bit to be good stewards of this lovely day. It would be a shame to waste it on laundry and other chores so things that “need” doing will just have to wait.

Now if I can find my wetsuit …