Blog Topics; how do You decide?

Complete set of the seven books of the "H...

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When you’re writing a daily blog, how do you decide what the topic will be?  For some folks a specific subject is the foundation and everything else is decided from there.  Parenting, politics, healing, pets, pests, ……………the list goes on.  What about when you don’t do that?  How does a topic become a topic?

It’s not like it’s assigned; like homework or a magazine article.  I think most bloggers are independent writers.  People with something to say and the blogging world provides the venue to say it.  Which makes it all the more interesting to me ; wondering about how topics are chosen.

It’s like imagining how best selling authors come up with stories.  If these folks really write what they know, they lead very interesting lives!  Wouldn’t you like to follow John Grisham around for a day?  How about Dan Brown?  I’ve always been curious what a day in Stephen King’s life would be like, he has a curious, not to say spooky take on most things.  If you assume, as I do, that fiction flows into reality.

And those were only the first three writers to come to mind; there are so many good story tellers!  I love Robert Parks books.  All fast reads and very entertaining.  He did a lot without using a lot of words.  Janet Evanovich  does well with that too.  When the characters step off the page and become three dimensional, escape from reality is complete.

I do seem to have two different modes when reading fiction.  With the lighter more humorous stories, the characters step out of the book.  With the more serious stories, I dive in, like I can be in the middle of things, yet keep the characters contained within the confines of the book covers.  Don’t want some of them in the real world, at all.  I read a lot of murder mysteries and have a fascination with fictional serial killers  and especially the psychologist types that draw word pictures of them.  Profilers!  Most intrigued by the process and ability, doubt I’d ever want to do it myself.  Is it just fiction, or, do you really have to guard against becoming like the monsters you hunt?  Some of this comes from having too much free time on my hands and some of it crosses my mind whether I’m busy or not.

I don’t read much in the fantasy genre and yet I have two authors I read over and over that fall into the category.  Marion Zimmer Bradley and J.K. Rowling.  Okay C.S. Lewis too.  I came across The Mists of Avalon so many years ago, I don’t even remember.  It’s Arthurian legend from a woman’s point of view and I reread it every couple of years, just because.  Bradley has written other books and I’m sure they are just as good and I haven’t read them, yet.  As to Harry Potter, well, that’s a kind of annual thing.  From book one to book seven, one after the other until I reach the end.  Each time something different catches my attention, more details stay with me even after I’ve closed and reshelved the books.  And there is no question of reading only one or two, definitely not out of series.  I don’t care much one way or the other about the movies, just have to read the books, in order, as if the seven were one.  It is all one story, just had to be in multiple books to prevent physical injuries.  My theory any way.  As for C.S. Lewis, his Lion in the Cupboard series was pretty good, I just relate more to Harry Potter.

As long as I’m talking about favored authors anyway, might as well mention James Clavell, Herman Wouk and James Patterson.  These are also authors I will purposely re-read.  There are a couple of writers I find myself re-reading by accident.  See a title and think, that looks interesting and then get a few pages into the book before discovering, I’ve already read this.  Most of the time I’ll finish reading it anyway, cause what I remember tends to build anticipation rather than spoiling the story.  I keep Clavell, Wouk and Patterson on hand, just in case…the world comes to an end and there is nothing new to read, or, I just can’t decide on a book.  Too many choices, what if I pick the wrong one?  These three are guaranteed likes, I know it from the start.  I’ve read them before.

And this just isn’t what I thought this blog was going to be about.  At all!  I had my Melodie Beattie meditation book at my elbow cause I was thinking about the reading for today’s date in Journey to the Heart.  I’d say it’s a good one, if I didn’t say that just about everyday.  To myself ,if not out loud.  She writes in a way that reading what she’s written is like having her in the room with you.  She’s comforting and reassuring without lying!  That’s my take on her writing anyway.  It’s like she hears what’s in your mind and heart and offers perspectives and suggestions for looking at things differently.  Nothing far fetched or difficult to do.  More like the difference between looking at a table setting sitting at the table and then looking at it from across a room.  Perspective.  Sometimes when you’re too close to a thing all you see are the flaws.  From across the room there is a beauty that shines through, even though you know the flaws are there.  The plate still holds food, the fork still picks it up and carries it to your mouth.  All the separate parts are functional and the flaws are minor.  When they’re not right in your face, they’re mostly unnoticeable.  It’s even possible to see the beauty when you stop looking for the faults.  Seems to work the same way with people.  Look too close and all you see are flaws.  Stand just a little away and there is a whole person and really so much more than acceptable.  A dear and loving, loved, lovable friend.  The magic happens when you can do that for the person you see in the mirror.  And Melodie Beattie has been one of my guides down this path.  That is almost what today’s reading was about.

So, I’m curious to know.  Blog topics; how do you Decide?

 

This is only a test!

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007

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Can I really blog from OneNote?

Yes!!! I can!!! It will include categories, just no tags, that I can see .

[tag postaday2011,testing]

Wow, this is way cool!  The second best thing, after my handy-dandy Netbook is having OneNote installed!  It gets better and better as I find new things it can do!  Don’t tell anyone, I really am something of a geek and it only gets worse as I get older.  Especially when I figure out how things work and get them to do what I want!   I can be particularly annoying until I get used to it, or, bored with it!  OneNote has been a constant source of entertainment, involvement and wonder.  Every time  I think I have reached the limit of it’s abilities, I find a new one!  And it’s like getting a brand new toy!!!  So, even after a year, please be warned, I am still annoying.

My friends are probably saying,” thank God for blogs, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard all I care to about that.”  You would swear I came up with it myself ,or, was the ONLY person on earth who has ever heard of it or used it.  I’d apologize, except that I expect to continue the behavior, so it would fall flat.  So, if you’ve already heard (read) as much as you’d care to, now is the time to leave.

When I first saw OneNote  I was thrilled cause it’s like one of those organizers.  And separate notebooks with tabs and everything.  As an admin type from way back it was love at first sight.  I’m not as orderly as I’d like to be, so, it’s nice to have some organization, somewhere.  Wish I could have it real world, not just in the computer.  I’ve still got a couple of things out of place any way.  Must be the rebel in me, or I was in a hurry.  Makes me really glad of the tabs.  And I think it has a search feature too.

I can record video and sound from OneNote also.  I don’t play with that often.  I mostly like knowing it’s there.

One of my favorite features is the clipping tool.  I have used it to send my Dad pictures of his great-grandchildren from Facebook.  He chooses not to have a Facebook account, so, this is the next best thing.  It did take some trial and error before I found the best way to include the pictures in an e-mail.  It was all worth it when it succeeded.  My Dad lives in Illinois and my son and his family are in various places because he is military.  His wife posts lots of pictures so friends and family can keep up with them.  Now, even Dad can.  And I really like that.

Ever tried making a phone list, even with a data base?  getting everything nice and neat and complete can be mind-bending.  I have mentioned that I do a lot of figure it out yourself in a previous post.  Haven’t ever been real good at asking for help or following directions.  OneNote makes it simple, even for hard heads.  It’s awesome.  Creates columns and rows and even column headings.  All I have to do is type!  Use the letter keys, spacebar and tab key. Voila, phone list!

It does schedules, charts, forms…you name it.  I may be reinventing the wheel, but, I’m having a fine time doing it!

How are your math skills?  mine are fair to average, depending on the day and my state of being.  OneNote will do the math for me!!!! You are my very best friend OneNote.  Really.  When I first read about that feature, I didn’t believe it. So, I tried it.  It worked!  Haven’t tried any rocket science or advanced formulas, so, I can’t vouch for the depth of skills.  Guess I’ll find out when I need them.  Haven’t so far.

And…..it’s interactive! whether I’m planning a trip, looking for a recipe, thinking of a book or a movie, whatever, I can search the internet, schedule things, download things, whatever.  And it keeps track of all of it.

I could write things out by hand, in the program and have it turn script to text.  I’m kinda proud of my handwriting, most of the time, yet find I don’t do well using a mouse.  So, I haven’t really used that feature.

Because I have Windows 7, I have a speech to text program as well.  Still need much work with that, unless I’m in need of a good laugh.  Have you ever tried speech to text?  This is my second go around with it and it’s still just as funny as I remember.  My diction must be absolutely horrendous, cause I’ve gotten some stunningly funny results attempting to dictate letters.  I wish I had saved them.  Can’t say for sure why I didn’t.  It could also have been the result of the microphone I was using.  I don’t buy high end stuff for non-professional use.  I’d consider the options of beg, borrow, steal…it’s just not that serious. At the moment.  Maybe later.

I believe this program was designed for students and it almost makes me wish I was back in school.  Except for the classes that didn’t allow recording devices; party poopers!  I take pretty good notes; but who wouldn’t want to have the class at the click of a couple of buttons?  I had one or two deadly dull ones and a nap would have been nice!  I also had a couple of professors who really loved what they were doing.  Some of the best classes I was ever in, it would be fun to revisit them.  Of course, I didn’t get my first computer until long after I graduated.  My computer programming class was on Fortran IV.  How appropriate is that Roman Numeral????  I did well enough to pass the class, doubt that I remember much and also doubt that anyone uses that programming language these days.  It was that or COBOL.  I think i have that right, Common Business Language.  And that is the limit of my knowledge on that particular topic.  Was it being phased out at the time, replaced by FORmula TRANslation?  Or were they just different languages?  The push was for students to learn FORTRAN.  Oddly enough, I NEVER used it again!  What was the fuss about?  Learning logic was helpful, what I remember of it.  Mostly just enough to p___ me of these days.

Of all the programs I have EVER worked with, I like OneNote best.  It’s easy to work in and with and has so many features I really enjoy.  To whoever did all the programming, my hat is off to you.  I even put one on so I could do that!  You have no idea how rare an occasion that is.  I hate Hats!  They often look nice and all, they just don’t wear well.  Your program was worth the temporary discomfort.  If you ever come up with something better, well, okay, yes, I’d like to know.  We just won’t tell my friends about it.  I’d really rather they didn’t avoid me, through the introductory period.  I’d say we could keep it under our hats, except I just explained why that’s unlikely.  Sub rosa?  That might work!

Okay, I’m like 400+ words shy of word count goal here.  This topic went a lot farther than I ever expected and wasn’t even what I had in mind in the first place.  it all started yesterday afternoon when I ran the little mousey over some things under “file” and saw “blog this”.  Say What?  Of course I had to try it.  Wouldn’t anyone?  I know have at least three, maybe four ways to post on my blog.  Maybe more, cause I beginning to think of another possible source.  I ask you, is it any wonder I’m thinking in blog?  It’s EVERYWHERE!

Here’s a taste of what I was thinking about, until I got distracted.  I keep getting these things about SEO and I’m not sure I understand them.  And if I do understand them, I’m just not sure I’m ready for totally amazing blog traffic.  I’m building up to it, just not there yet.  I get so tickled just getting comments.  And I read somewhere it’s a good idea to respond to them.  I definitely respond to the personal ones.  The ones that come with what looks to me like advertising or back link to what looks like advertising I hold off on.  On the one hand, I understand people have to make a living.  As most of this type is caught in my spam catcher I suspect it’s a pay per post thing.  On the other hand, I don’t know what companies and products they are linking back to and I have other priorities that inhibit me from back tracing and researching them.  I am considering whether or not to include a caveat emptor type thing at the top of my page or simply deleting.  Time and space for thinking and considering (praying and meditating as well).  This is so much more than I ever expected and I don’t wish to lose the joy of it!  One thing I would suggest, if you don’t wish to be deleted, yet wish to leave a link, tell me ONE specific thing you like about the blog, or, didn’t like.  Either is acceptable.  Tell me something about what you’re plugging and I’m even more likely to approve.  Legal, ethical, moral…all critical issues.  I write because I love it and would prefer my space to be a safe one for any one that stops by to read.  This is the internet after all.  I was born at night (really) just, not last night.  So, as my Dad would say “play Nice”.

The horse is in the coral at least, food and water.  Maybe get brushed tomorrow!

 

Life is a series of choices ?!

I woke up this morning thinking about choices,open-ended questions and surveys.  I fell somewhat short of the goal of 1657 words yesterday because I just couldn’t think of anymore to say.  It’s true!   Rode that horse as far as it would go and didn’t quite reach the barn.  Over 500 words short, as a matter of fact.  Poor thing would have been left out in the cold, if it had been a real horse.

So, i woke up thinking about choices, etc., as I said.  It presented itself as: if you don’t see the choices….do you really HAVE choices?  How many times have you said, or, heard someone else say “I had no choice” ?Do you believe it?  Whether you are saying it yourself or hearing it said, do you believe it?

Next thought, similar vein; have you ever noticed when people are saying they had no choice, it’s usually in reference to something bad happening?  I can not recall, say, a lottery winner saying, gee, I really had no choice.  Or the bride or groom at a wedding (shotgun weddings excluded).  You might hear it during the divorce proceedings, at some point.  How about getting hired at a new job?  It could happen there, I guess.  Still, more likely to be heard when someone is being let go, regardless of the reason for termination.

I think heroic people have said it; although I couldn’t cite any specific example with names and places.  Just seems I’ve heard it in connection with people running into burning buildings, or pulling someone from an auto wreck.  They were there, saw what needed to be done and did it.  They had no choice.  If they did, they never let it stop them from doing what needed to get done.

Most of the time it sounds like an excuse, to me anyway.  Like, I was just following orders, just doing my job or, the ever popular, it’s just company policy.

Notice, I said “sounds like” an excuse.  Sometimes it’s the short version of: i considered a number of other possibilities and this turned out to be the best.  And how often is that more like the truth?  The short version  is  something like the difference between having your throat cut and being drawn and quartered.  The first is quick and merciful (?) while the second tends to be long and drawn out.  Just guessing here, have no first-hand experience with either.

Sign outside the Hung, Drawn and Quartered pub...

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And, there are people who at times and in situations really do believe they have no choice.  It happens a lot with people who have been beaten down by life, sometimes even when They are the ones beating on themselves.  The more stress a person feels, the fewer choices s/he is likely to recognize.  There are folks walking around with either very strong spiritual muscles and/or great intestinal fortitude and intellectual presence under any circumstances.  These are rare persons, indeed, who can see any number of choices and make wise decisions under fire.  The rest of us mere mortals trudge along , making decent choices most of the time and only occasionally running into an “I had no choice” situation.  When you look back at those situations, from the comfort of your favorite chair, do you still think the same thing?  I can finally say no to that, but it’s a long story, for another day.  This is the blog, not the novel.

The second branch in the river of thoughts was about open-ended questions and how I usually prefer them.  I’m careful to say usually because “why” is an open-ended question that can drive me right around the bend.  And I’m quite comfortable at the moment, thank you.  I also don’t like it when the questions are leading…are they still open-ended, if they are leading?  I am not a parrot or a tape recorder.   I have loathed rehearsed, specific responses to questions for a long time.  Puts me too much in mind of catechism and not being allowed to question the programmed responses.  I won’t say I can’t be programmed, just that it won’t be easy.  Unless you cheat.  As long as I’m allowed use of my full faculties, there isn’t much I take at face value.  Almost nothing I don’t question.  Yes, I was one of those kids.  Although I hold an actual, legitimate four-year degree, most of my education, such as it is, is from the school of hard knocks .  At this point I’m claiming PhDs.   The advantage of typing this stuff is that it’s easier to follow the trail of crumbs back to my point.  I was saying how I prefer open-ended questions.   I have some thoughts on closed ended questions and will get to them when surveys is the topic.

And I think that’s right now, cause whatever else I was planning to say has just fled the scene.

I am not a good person to survey when responses are limited to yes and no.  Doesn’t seem to matter how the question is phrased, I have a multitude of reasons why either answer would be substantially true, or, substantially false and so tend to choose neither.  If caught in a cooperative mood, I might play along, but, don’t bet your paycheck on it.  If the question is both closed and leading it’s quite likely I’ll just decide Bulls___ and stop playing altogether.  Which is how I read most survey questions.  If the surveyors have already decided the results they want it is really insulting to ask questions in the first place.

Ever hear, “there are liars, damned liars and statisticians”?  Mark Twain said that. Thank you Google.  Surveys aren’t the only source of statistics , just a pretty big one.  4 out of 5 doctors recommend_________________.  Have you ever been to a doctor that recommended _____________?  I haven’t.  Not a huge fan of doctors anyway. (another long story for another day)  Point is, I have had occasion to ask doctors about _____________ and they either had no opinion or suggested other alternatives.  Consistently.  All you statisticians out there, what is the probability that I only found doctor #5 each time?  Or, doctor #10 when the range was 9 out of 10.  Yes, I’ve led a very sheltered life.  I believe there ought to be at least a small measure of truth in advertising.  Not naive or innocent enough to believe that there is, just a wishful thinker, idealist.  Wouldn’t it be nice to read or listen to an ad and know what they were saying was mostly true?  Yes, I jumped the divide from naiveté to cynicism too many years ago to count.  bet I’m not the only one!

This line actually led into a sequence of thoughts about reality tv.  The only thing accurate or true about that is tv.  According to me anyway.  And came to mind when thinking about closed questions because they lead to inaccuracy at best and lying at worst.  Most of my cynicism is based on the belief that a majority of publicly broadcast “information” is somewhere on that scale.  From the little I’ve seen of the genre I equate it with American cheese, or, processed, pasteurized , cheese food!!!  Not fit for human consumption.  I was stunned at how rapidly and thoroughly the genre caught fire.  It is my fervent hope that it dies out soon.  Disco came and finally went, didn’t it?  I actually didn’t totally hate disco. I was younger then.

As I briefly peruse what I’ve written so far, what it all seems to come back to is learning to tell the truth.  To myself most of all.  I’ve lied to myself often enough about not having any choice.  I now realize what I really meant, more often than not , was I didn’t really like any of the options I saw.  And I’ve been getting better,  recently, about talking to a live, other person and getting a more balanced view of things.  Often, people outside can see one or two positive options that never occurred to me.  I really do like having choices. Just don’t go crazy with them.  Too many and my head explodes, so, just as bad as none.

I knew there was one more thing. Dichotomies!  Either/Or , right/wrong, good/bad….you get the idea. Only two sides to the coin.  Two major political parties.  When I was a kid, i used to think there were only Catholics and”Publics”  Do they still tell kids in grammar school that there is only one true religion?  I’ve gotten so far away from all that, I honestly don’t know.  There is the theory that kids should receive consistent messages about most things in life.   My cynical mind insists I add, it doesn’t need to be true, it helps if you believe.  What I was leading up to is that there  is so much in life that just isn’t that clear-cut.  There are, in fact, shades of gray, middle of the road choices and ideas and ideals that bear consideration and even follow through.

It is my contention that “the great unwashed” is beginning to bathe regularly.  And why I find Occupy Wall Street such a fascinating phenomenon.  I think people are understanding that change cannot and will not come about through our political system.  There are too many with a vested interest in the status quo.  Money talks!  And parks it’s keister right square in the middle of things, leaving very little wiggle room for those without.  OWS is about choice. About having REAL choices.  And if the money supply and old boy network can be brought to task, if not eliminated, maybe we can get back to a level of prosperity and more full employment.  It just occurred to me, I’ve been saying for years that a revolution is coming.  It’s here!  And, for the most part, not radical, off with their heads rhetoric.  Of course there are trouble makers and rabble rousers.  I’m not sure there’s a way to avoid them entirely.  I am encouraged to see the Occupy movement grow and spread.   I think they know what the Tea Party still doesn’t seem to grasp.  When legislation is for sale, go to the money source!  Just like any good mystery writer says “follow the money”.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved and exceeded the word count goal!  Wahoo!

Preparing for the challenge!

Katie

How many NaNoWriMo participants do we have here?  November first is sneaking up, rather more quickly than I expected.  I’m feeling some chills that have nothing to do with current weather.  What HAVE I done?  What was I thinking? WAS I thinking?  It’s a crazy blend of excitement and fear.  I dread 11/01/11 and I can hardly wait for 11/01/11.  This might be even more fun than blogging!

A fiction novel of 50k words in thirty days!  They even did the math for me.  If I can write at least 1657 words a day, it’s possible.  And they don’t insist that the words make sense!  Seems to be a challenge I’ve given myself.  And those are the challenges that give me the most trouble.

The staff at the site suggest turning off spell check and other machine installed editors and also……………the internal editor!  It will be interesting to see if that happens.  I mean, who do you know that corrects a journal?  It is written specifically for private use.  No One else is going to read it.  Who cares if words are misspelled, punctuation is misplaced or missing altogether?  That would be me.  It only bothers me when I compose on computer.  I just CANNOT leave those squiggly red lines unattended to.  When I’m writing in pen and ink, that’s another story altogether.  Total abandon, seriously.  There is no little red squiggly nagging at me so, I just write on.

Has anyone ever disabled spell check?  How do you go about it? Is it easy to enable again?  Things I have to look into in the next couple of weeks.  Bet I can Google search it!  A friend of mine does it all the time, often her first thought when she comes across something for the first time.   The day may come when I do that as well.  It could happen!

When I went to the web site for the first time I momentarily considered just dropping the idea right then.  They were asking for a title!  In October!  And the request for that information followed me and posted itself at the top of every page I visited.  I’d swear it got there before me!  Like the light in the refrigerator.  Which I’m fairly certain is off when the door is closed, I’ve seen and played with the gizmo that controls it!

I gave my novel a title and a couple of opening lines, phew, that was easier than expected.  The synopsis, however WILL have to wait.  I have a whisper of an idea and a potential second character.  Not too bad.  I won’t be starting totally clueless.

I have been writing three pages long hand each day and have been fairly consistent with Postaday2011 throughout October.  That is encouraging.  Don’t know if it amounts to the daily word requirement, although I suspect it’s a good beginning.

There was a questionnaire on the site and one of the things asked was, musical preference when writing.  Huh?  people play music when they write?  I’m not sure I’ve ever tried that.  I can block out routine noise and activity, but, somehow I think I’d be paying more attention to the music than to words on the page.   Seems I’ll have to try it and find out for sure.  It probably doesn’t matter unless I go to a write in.  Right?

The other matter to run through the mill is a novel isn’t going to be as freewheeling as a blog.  And I haven’t yet needed to consider character development here.  Okay, plot lines  probably shouldn’t be all loosey-goosey either.   Well, we won’t know until we try; will we?

I’m thinking the story will be at least a little bit autobiographical. ( Must be a word, spell check didn’t even blink.)  Obviously, haven’t disabled it, yet.  I promise to any friends reading this, names will be changed, among other things.  This will not be a new century Peyton Place.  I like a good soap opera as much as anyone, if there were such a thing. As a good one.  Really, staging, acting, directing, wardrobe can all be superb, if the characters don’t learn from one day to the next, week to the next, month to the next…….it’s a guilty pleasure at best.  Almost as much fun as watching revenge movies.  There’s a word I’m looking for here and it escapes me at the moment.  Cathartic might apply, but, it’s not the one I’m thinking of.  We’ll come back to it.  Possibly MUCH later.

I seem to have run out of steam on this topic.  For now.  For the next couple of weeks, practice, practice, practice.  Subjects will most likely vary, as the have in the past.  The goals are word count and post. TTFN

How old are you….Really

Old Woman Dozing by Nicolaes Maes (1656), Oil ...

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As I recall, people twenty and younger don’t give a whole lot of thought to age.  Unless they are younger than twenty-one.  Once that magical year comes and goes not much thought is given to age again until thirty creeps up.  From thirty onward one often hears and even sometimes say: “you’re only as old as you feel”.    Have you noticed that?

A few years ago I went to lunch with my Dad and an Aunt and Uncle.  I might not even have been fifty at the time.  Whatever, the conversation was about how old people feel, as opposed to how old the calendar says they are.  I think the conversation started when we were handed “senior” menus.  Oddly enough, the menus were actually rather new.  Doesn’t matter.  What I recall all three others saying was that they were often surprised looking in the mirror.  The wrinkles and white hair HAD to be stage make-up cause the person looking at them didn’t feel any older than eighteen!!!!  These folks had raised 17 children between them.  All the children had graduated from high school and there were even a few college graduates in the mix.  Dad was a great-grandfather.  I’ve had a sense of wonder about the aging process ever since.

The most interesting part of it was learning that people in the generation ahead of me had some of the same thoughts I did.  It just didn’t seem possible.  These weren’t just my elders, they were actual, honest to God, walking, talking human beings!  Truth, how often do you see your parents that way?  All you empty nesters out there, how often do you think of your grown progeny as the adults they are?  The mind boggles.  Both of my “babies” are over thirty and it’s amazing to me how often I need to remind myself not to refer to them as if they were still much younger.  They deserve my respect.  I can’t explain the quirk that keeps them so young in my mind.  They truly do have my respect, they make good decisions regularly.   I love the people they have become.

I also, sometimes, wonder who that old lady is…the one looking back at me from the mirror.  It doesn’t help that my hair is prematurely white/gray.  I do love the color, don’t get me wrong.  Lots of people have asked who colors my hair and I usually reply, God, this is the way it grows out of my head.  Haven’t even been remotely tempted to alter it either.  The thing is, people see white hair and think old….yup…me too.  And it’s unsettling on the days my brain says i’m only eighteen.  However, it is right on time on the days I feel one hundred and twenty.  Which usually come from believing my brain and attempting to do things, work or play, like I did when I was eighteen.  And let’s not talk about humidity!

So, what are your thoughts on age?  How old are you…really!?

 

The Blending Experience

Just a few suggestions for making essential oil blends.

Lavender flowers
Image via Wikipedia

Evidently I must do this without pictures!  Okay, here goes!

Last Wednesday my friend Denise and I pooled our resources and spent a fun afternoon working and playing with essential oils.  Not quite a mad scientists‘ lab, much more fun.  Doubt that we were ever in any danger of blowing ourselves up or gassing ourselves.  We had plenty of raw ingredients and containers to put them in.  Plus, we had recipes we were curious to try, not to mention our own imagination, creativity and curiosity.

Set up took a little time.  Denise already had her act together, impressively organized and ready for blending.  You think I’m kidding, maybe.  She had her oils all in alphabetical order, carrier oils grouped together and bottles with stoppers; all ready to go.  Books and recipes were also close at hand.  Did I forget to mention tags?  She had ’em.  We have talked about doing this since last May, I think.  It was easy to see she was ready to work/play.

All my materials were more or less neatly transported in this cool wooden box that looks like a treasure chest.  My first task was to make an alphabetical list of my collection.  I was amazed how quickly that was done, I’d put it off for so long… can’t say why anymore.  Doesn’t matter now, does it?  When the list was finished, next was carrier oils and other blending ingredients.  As we didn’t plan specifically, I came prepared to blend cosmetic, perfumes or cleaning solutions.  The only thing I was sure of was we were going to blend something.  Last from the chest were my books and recipes, or, and some containers for finished product.  Denise definitely had the better choices, she has been doing this much longer.

The excitement of Finally! doing this was harnessed and we went to work.  We both made a kitchen cleaner deodorizer using lavender, eucalyptus, bergamot and tuber rose in distilled water.  The proportions of oils are determined by the amount of water.   Goes like this:

2 oz distilled water

8 drops lavender

10 drops bergamot

5 drops eucalyptus

3 drops palma rosa

I believe we each did a double batch.  We’re coming into cold and flu season and it’s a good idea to clean the kitchen well.

I made something called Insomnia Buster and neither one of us was sure, just exactly how it is supposed to be used.   A good lesson in gathering info.  It’s a really good idea to gather complete info, or at least note the source in a handy place to ask questions later.  The plan at the moment is to use it diffused.  Could be added to a carrier and applied to bottoms of feet or ear lobes.  Perhaps added to a hot bath.  It smells great!!!

6 drops Clary sage

12 drops lavender

4 drops roman chamomile

12 drops geranium

It is currently in a tightly capped blue-bottle and I think the blending process will have reached peak in the next couple of days.  Once you decide what you are going to blend and then do it, remember to roll or shake the bottle at least once a day for the next week.  The scent alters.  I’m pretty sure it remains the same after that.  I’m learning as I go.

Denise made a blend for trigger finger and, sorry, forgot to get it.  I can if anyone wants to know it.

My third blend was a perfume.  Perfumes are something of a mystery to me and I thought it would be a hoot to try making my own.  Just this once.  If it turns out well, I’ll let you know what is in it.  Too iffy right now and there are still a few weeks before the aging process is finished.  I like it so far.  You do the same with a perfume that you would do with other blends, store in dark glass tightly capped bottle and roll or shake up at least once a day.  Mine is oil based, did I mention that.  I could have use vodka or I think, brandy.  I’m sure the results would be different.  Since I was anxious to try making a perfume and didn’t have alcohol handy, I went with the oil option.  Time will tell.

I am embarrassed to say I’ve forgotten what Denise’s  third blend is!!!!  I took some pictures and was all excited to get this blog written and posted.  Got the pictures to the media library and thought I was all set!  There I go thinking again.  I WILL figure out what I’m doing wrong, until then… As if that wasn’t enough, my handy-dandy little Netbook has been balking at some things lately, or it was a full moon, or Mercury was retrograde, or_____________; end result, I could get to my blog page, just couldn’t do anything but admire it and say, yup, that’s my blog page!  Hurray, today I can do stuff!!!  Not everything I was hoping to, like include the photos from Wednesday.  Oh well, the writing is done!

Essential Oils…how can they help You?

Glass vial containing Neroli Essential Oil

Image via Wikipedia

 

I have delayed talking much about essential oils for a few reasons.  I believe it is very important to be clear and accurate on any information I give out.  Since I first became aware of them I can sometimes, hardly contain myself.  What worries me about talking about them is that in my excitement I may leave out some important bit of information.  The other thing about being so excited is I want to say everything at once and that sure does garble the message.  Here is my attempt to present the information in some kind of order.

The best oils are in dark glass bottles and labeled with the name in Latin as well as English, list country of origin and whether or not it is blended with a carrier oil.  For instance, lavender essential oil is usually  pure, whereas rose absolute will be in a carrier oil, like jojoba.  There are various ways to make an essential oil (draw it from its source), some ways are better than others, depending on the level of purity sought. Cold press is reputed to be best and there is a chemical process that aroma therapists suggest Not to use on skin.  I haven’t attempted this on my own, yet, so I can only report things I’ve read.  Once you have the oil it is best stored away from light and heat.

If you are going to use an essential oil on your skin, most need to be blended in a carrier oil.  The lighter carrier oils, like grapeseed oil, apricot kernel oil, sweet or bitter almond oil are all good choices for massage or bath oils.  If you choose to create your own skin care products you’ll want things like olive oil or jojoba oil.  These two are dense oils and should be used proportionally with the lighter oils.  For instance a TBSP of almond oil+1/2 tsp of jojoba and about three to five drops of essential oil.

Next, especially if you are going to apply them to your body remember that if one drop is good, use ONLY one drop.  More is NOT better!!!!Some of the oils have opposite effects if you use more.  Like lavender.  One drop is relaxing, two keeps you awake and alert.  I am speaking of applying it “neat”, straight from the bottle, no carrier oil.  You can’t do this comfortably with all essential oils.  Citrus oils, if used neat ,tend to produce a burning sensation. Another thing about citrus oils, they produce photosensitivity for some people.  If you already sunburn easily keep looking until you find an oil that will produce the outcome you seek without this side effect.  There are probably several.

I just recently learned that there is such a thing as essential oil poisoning.  If you live with curious, fast moving little children, keep essential stored out of reach.  If you are following a recipe, measure carefully.  If you are using a blend topically stop after about 5-7 days.  Oddly enough the oils seem to continue to work for a couple of days after the last application.

Some authors say don’t take any essential oils orally.  Some suggest adding a drop or two to cold water, or, hot water as a beverage.  I’ve done this with peppermint oil and lemon oil and enjoyed a treat.  I hate plain water.  Had no physical discomfort or alarms as a result of having done so.  What I would say is, try a drop in an 8oz glass of water…if you re curious.  Then you decide.

If you are using oils for pain relief, topical application works best.  I’ve made blends for myself and blends for others.  The blends got used up and each person reported that it worked for what it was designed for.  As a proponent of alternative medicine I find it difficult, yet necessary to refrain from saying too much.  The FDA doesn’t back anything I would say.  And sometimes it’s hard to find suggestions on web pages and magazine ads; what with all the disclaimers required.

Whole Foods has a small section of their stores devoted to essential oils.  Sniff a couple of the testers.  Always keeping in mind any allergies you might have, the scents are intense.  If you really enjoy a specific oil and it is within a price range comfortable to you, try it.  If you don’t like the scent, no matter who told you it’s the best in the world, save your money.  It’s possible you may like it at a later date, then again, you might not.  Meanwhile, there are probably any number of others that you will like.  Those are the ones to try because they are the ones that will give YOU the best result.

Always do a patch test with an oil you haven’t used before or when you blend oils.  I use the inside of the elbow bend. Apply a small amount of the oil or blend and wait 24 hours.  If no itching or redness or other type of reaction my experience has been that it is safe to use.  I believe this is especially important if you are taking prescription drugs.  As a matter of fact, if you are taking prescriptions, find a medical source who has knowledge of both oils and pharmaceuticals.  Better safe than sorry.

There are plenty of books about essential oils.  Read, study,experiment, learn.  Actually, that’s another reason I backed away from the topic.  I’m only a very curious and persistent novice.  My goal here is to offer highlights. I’ve only been actively pursuing the subject for a couple of years.  People have spent entire professional lives in this field.  I feel graced to have found it at all.

There are so many reasons  to use essential oils: health, grooming, gardening, housecleaning, candle making, perfume making, cooking and baking.  They are great to have when travelling.

I find simplicity of use a big plus.  Open the bottle, take a whiff.  If I’d rather not carry the bottle around I put a drop or two on a tissue or cotton ball.  Easier to carry around than a diffuser and always as close as my pocket!  That’s just one example.  So many more come to mind, without effort.  I love essential oils and I’m always finding new ways to use them.

My introduction to these gifts of nature was, most likely, one of the strongest oils for physical wellness.  Oil of Oregano.  I read about it first in a book titled The Cure is in the Cupboard.  It first struck me as a book long advertisement, until I used the product.  Words do not express my delight at the results I got.  I have kept a bottle handy ever since.   The book is available in stores that feature organic products.  I hesitate to say health  food stores, cause I don’t go in them.  In Annapolis, MD there is a store called Earth and Sun; in Severna Park there is a store called Sage.  I’ve seen the book and the product described in both stores.

I just recently started using Zemanta and so there are plenty of places for you to look around, if you are interested.  If you’re not, thank you for your kind attention.

P.S.  the oil shown on the side is Neroli, a citrus oil.  Smells great.  Clear bottle shows color of oil, not good for storage.