Blogging from A to Z April Challenge—Updated May 3, 2017

So apparently there’s this blogging challenge that has been going on for the last couple years, and I just found out about it this year.  There is a different theme every year, and the participants can take it in whatever direction they like on their own blogs.

The details can be found here: A to Z Challenge 2017

I plan to participate this year, although they’re having everyone put clickable links into their posts and  there’s a lot of complaining about that on their site already.  Apparently in previous years there was a list for participants to add their site’s URLs to so people could just go to the Challenge site every day and click on the links, making it easier to find the blogs they wanted to read.  This year they’ve done away with the list, expecting people to go to the Challenge site every day and post the clickable link to that day’s Challenge entry, as well as go through other people’s posts to find the blog entries they want to read for that day.  There have been a few people complaining about this new method, but as the Challenge hosts have explained, it’s less work for them, especially as this way they won’t have to worry about possible broken links on the list.  They also gave clear instructions on how to create a clickable link, which I’ve never done before, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of, but now I’ve got it down, and am actually having fun using this new skill elsewhere, like on Facebook. 😀

Anyone who has known me for any length of time at all will tell you that I am not very tech savvy at all, and my computer skills are severely outdated (anyone remember BASIC programming, from the 80s?  See what I mean?) so throwing all this code at me and going, “Oh, it’s easy, all you have to do is copy and paste and put your own information in here and it’ll be great!” and I was going, “What?”  I’m lucky I figured out PowerPoint in 2011 for my Ivy Tech computer class, and you’d better believe I’ve forgotten every bit of it since.  Why?  Because I never use it for anything, that’s why.  I don’t work in the business world, I don’t run my own business, and even if I did I would have no use for PowerPoint or Access, and the only thing I use Excel for is to keep track of all my usernames and passwords because otherwise I would lose them all and there’s no way I can remember them on my own.  Basically the only part of Microsoft Office I use consistently is Word, and it doesn’t require any special codes to use it, or specialized computer skills.  Even using WordPress isn’t that difficult.  But all these codes that other sites expect us to be able to use?  No thanks.  I’ll leave code writing to Bill Gates and his buddies.

At least, that was my attitude, until I got the hang of creating clickable links.  Okay, okay, so it’s still my attitude as far as code writing in general goes, because it might as well be written in Klingon for all I understand it.  But now that I have this new skill, I don’t know how I ever managed without it up to this point, so if I get nothing else out of this challenge, it will be one positive experience for the month of April!  Wish me luck!

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Hello world!

Welcome to my place!

This is where I will post my thoughts and feelings about all kinds of subjects…my favorite books, movies and music, the stupid things people do that royally tick me off, the funny things my furry kids do on a daily (and sometimes hourly!) basis…just about anything, really!

Disclaimer: I have a tendency to ramble on about all kinds of stuff, and go off on about 30 different tangents, and sometimes I might even manage to get back to the original subject I was rambling on about (although  this doesn’t happen all the time, it has been known to happen, so pay close attention).

Some (but not all) of the subjects that interest me and that I may (or may not) ramble on about here on a semi-regular basis…Star Wars, Star Trek, NCIS (all of them), CSI (all of them), forensics shows (Forensics Files, Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda, Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall, A Crime to Remember, Southern Fried Homicide, Swamp Murders), Ghost Adventures, The Dead Files, Ghost Hunters (aka the TAPS crew), paranormal investigations in general and my own in particular, my favorite book genres/series (mysteries, sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction, Celtic lore/history, U.S. history—especially the Revolutionary and Civil Wars)….and anything else that catches my attention, however temporarily.  You have been warned!

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.  Just remember, “We’re all mad here…”

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Underground Attack (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

A certain sixteen-year-old boy was sitting in the back of a car on the London Underground, about halfway to his destination, when the train stopped and all the lights went out.

Everyone else looked around in confusion, except for the boy, who was filled with a feeling of dread.  This situation was way too familiar… Then the cold set in.

“This is not happening again,” he muttered.  Because of the events of the previous summer, he’d bought a second wand, untraceable to him, and had been practicing nonverbal spells with it, especially the Patronus Charm, Stunner and binding spells.  He had quickly mastered those, then moved on to slightly more dangerous spells.

He surreptitiously removed his backup wand from its leg holster, aimed out the back of the car, and fired off a message Patronus to Hermione, Remus and Tonks, and Ron and Ginny.  He didn’t want the other passengers to see it and be able to recall later the distinctive figure of a stag.  He then Stunned everyone else in the car so he wouldn’t have to Obliviate them later.

Once they were all unconscious, he released Prongs toward the front of the car, sending him after the dementors who had just begun to approach the car, the last one on the train.  Harry didn’t even want to think about what had happened to the passengers of the other cars.  He had to concentrate on his happiest memories—his friends Ron and Hermione, his godfather Sirius, Remus and Tonks, the Weasley clan—and his love for them all in order to keep the Patronus working.

“Tell whoever sent you this time that I’m tired of their games!  If it’s that hag Umbridge, tell her she won’t get away with it a third time, that I’ll come directly for her next time, and if she’s lucky I won’t bring a couple of you with me!  Now get out of here!”  Harry sent Prongs after them again, and Prongs charged into the middle of the group, scattering them.

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Time-Traveling Voice Recorders (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

Splashed across every headline yesterday were the words: Experiment A Success!  First Object Sent Back In Time Reaches Destination!  “Great, now every Tom, Dick and Harry are going to be sending themselves really stupid items just because they can,” I muttered, flipping from the front page to the comics.  After that headline, I could use a good laugh.

 

Today,  I discovered just how right I was.  I opened my front door to see a medium-sized box sitting on my porch.  Curious, I picked it up and read the label.  The handwriting was eerily familiar: it was mine.  “You have got to be kidding me!” I exclaimed, then backed into the house with the package held out at arm’s length, not sure whether it was going to explode or not.

Walking into the kitchen, I used an old pair of scissors from the catch-all drawer to open the box.  Inside was a cloth-wrapped object.  I unwrapped it and found myself staring at a digital voice recorder.

“Why the hell would I send myself this?  These haven’t been used in years!”  Curious, I hit play and heard my own voice coming out of the speaker.  “Listen very carefully, there isn’t much time…”

“Oh great!  I’m not sure if I’m stuck in The Matrix, The Terminator, or Alice in Wonderland….probably Alice in Wonderland, knowing my luck,” I muttered.

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Self-Preservation (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

“Do you understand what the words ‘self preservation’ mean?”

“Yeah, it’s a property of jams and jellies.”

“Merlin, Potter, just how dense are you?  Even the Weasel’s not that thick!”

“Yes he is,” Harry countered.  “He doesn’t know what the words mean at all, let alone how to spell them.”

Draco laughed in surprise at that comeback.  “Good one, Potter!  I’m surprised at you.  I figured you’d defend Weasel with your dying breath.”

“From Death Eaters, yes.  From his own stupidity, not a chance in hell.  He’s on his own there.  After all these years of knowing Hermione, if he hasn’t grown a brain yet, he’s not likely to anytime soon.  There are some things you just can’t fix, and stupid is one of them.  He’s my best mate, and I love him like a brother, but he can be a total moron about a lot of things.”

“Agreed.  If I hadn’t seen first-hand how bravely he fought in the war, I’d still be wondering why he wound up in Gryffindor instead of Hufflepuff.  Not that Puffs are idiots or anything, but intelligence is not high on their list of character traits.”

“No, but loyalty is, and if Ron is anything he’s loyal.”

“So’s a Saint Bernard.”

Harry almost choked on his coffee.  “I just got this mental image of a ginger Saint Bernard following Hermione and me around with one of those barrels around his neck, only instead of alcohol it’s stuffed full of as much food as you could possibly cram into one of those things.”

Draco almost fell out of his chair, he was laughing so hard.  “Merlin, I knew there was a reason I kept you around,” he gasped as he was finally able to pull himself upright.

“Funny, I didn’t think that was the reason,” Harry casually replied as he went to refill his coffee mug.

“What time is it?” a sleepy voice asked from the doorway.  Harry and Draco looked over in time to see Ron shuffle sleepily into the kitchen.  They looked at each other and burst out laughing.  Ron looked between the two of them, confused.  “What?  What’s so funny?”

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Real Treasure (Response to a dialogue prompt found on Pinterest)

“The real treasure was the memories we made along the way,” Harry said.

“I almost died!” Draco fumed.

“Ah, yes, that was my fondest memory,” Ron interjected dreamily.

“Shut it, Weasel!” Draco growled.

“Irritable little ferret tonight, aren’t we, Malfoy?”

“Alright, you two, behave!” Harry interrupted Draco’s tirade.  “Dray, you know he’s only doing it to wind you up, it’s how he relieves stress.  Ron, stop antagonising Draco, you know you don’t mean it and so do we, so quit acting like you do, you prat.”

Ron grinned at Harry, while Draco made faces at him behind Harry’s back, until Harry turned suddenly, catching him.

“Now, if you two children are done, we have some work to do.”

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Quality Time (original idea set in the HP universe)

Harry sighed as he sank back into his recliner.  It had been a long day, and he was looking forward to spending a few hours by himself, reading.  He had discovered a Muggle author named Terry Brooks, and was enjoying reading about Shannara.  There were many in the Wizarding world who would be shocked at the books in Harry’s library; they considered anything not written by someone in their world to not be worth their time.  Harry felt otherwise, he knew that some of the best authors of fiction were Muggles, and he suspected quite a few of them might even be Squibs, the way they wrote about magic.  It would be the ultimate prank on the world, to have magic written about in such a way that everyone would be fascinated by it and want to read everything they could on the subject, while at the same time believing that it wasn’t real even though they might wish it were.  The Marauders would laugh themselves silly at the thought.

Just as he was becoming immersed in his book, the door opened and his oldest son walked in.  “Dad, have you seen my Transfiguration book?  I still need to do my homework for Aunt Minnie, and I can’t find it anywhere.  Al swears he didn’t touch it, but I’ve looked everywhere else but his room, which he refused to let me search.”

Harry sighed.  His boys were finally at the stage where they were constantly pranking each other, and while most of the time their antics were hilarious, sometimes Harry wished they’d just leave each other alone for more than five minutes, so the rest of the house could have peace and quiet for a change.

“No, Jamie, I haven’t, but the last time Al took your school books he put them on the roof.  Have you checked there?”

“No, not yet.  I wanted to check with you and Mum first, hoping one of you had seen it inside.  It’s getting ready to storm, and I didn’t want to be on the roof when it hits.”  James looked put out at the thought of having to levitate himself onto the roof to look for his textbook yet again.

“And Mum or Lily haven’t seen it?”

“They both said no.”

“Alright, let me see if I can find it,” Harry replied.  His magical aura flared around him for a second as he concentrated, then he sighed in relief.  Sure enough, Al had levitated James’ book onto the roof again, right above the library.

“Yep, it’s up there again,” he told his son.  “It’s right above us.  I’ll go get it, while you stand right below so you can catch it when I levitate it over the side.”

“Okay, Dad,” James answered.  “Just wait till I get my hands on him,” he muttered.

“I have a better idea than you killing your brother,” Harry said mildly.  “Why don’t we come up with a prank that will teach him once and for all to leave your books alone?”

James grinned wickedly.  “That sounds like a great idea, Dad!”

Harry smiled to himself as he led the way out of the library.  One crisis dealt with, the aftermath would come much later.

Half an hour later, Harry was back in the library, trying to find where he’d left off reading.  Before he could get comfortable, Lily walked in.

“Daddy, Mummy says I have to ask you for permission to go with Auntie ’Mione and Uncle Ron this weekend.  They’re taking Rose and Hugo to something called a zoo, where Rose said there’s lots of animals.  Can I go with them, Daddy, please?”

“Sure, pumpkin.  Auntie ’Mione has been wanting to take Rose and Hugo to the zoo for a long time now.  They have all kinds of animals there that Wizarding kids never get to see, unless they come from the same countries as the animals.  You won’t see hippogriffs or nifflers or chimaera or occamies or diricawls, because this is a Muggle zoo.  You’ll see Bengal tigers, and lions, and seals and polar bears, maybe even a hippopotamus or an ostrich.  You’ll get to learn about all sorts of animals that we never see in our world, and some of them are really cool.  I’m partial to the lions myself, I wonder why that would be,” Harry said with a smile.  Lily just grinned; she knew the Gryffindor mascot was a lion.

“I like lions, too,” Lily said, then skipped off to tell her mum Dad said she could go and to ask to Floo Rose and give her the good news.

Harry smiled and shook his head; Hermione was in for an interesting weekend.

Next to interrupt Harry’s reading was Ginny, asking him if he’d seen her red jumper, as she was getting ready to go shopping and it was getting chilly outside.

“Yes, dear, it was on the cat last time I saw it,” Harry answered absently, and Ginny left in search of Fluffy, their gray kneazle kitten.  Harry was suddenly struck by the memory of Ginny and Molly having the exact same conversation the first time he visited the Burrow, and chuckled to himself as he settled back in his chair.  Maybe he’d finally get to finish the chapter he was reading before bedtime, if he didn’t get interrupted by any more family members.  “Quality time” in the Potter household seemed to be few and far between these days, and Harry cherished every moment to himself he could get.

A loud crash was heard overhead, from the direction of Al’s room.  “James!  You prat, I’m gonna get you!” Al yelled, and Harry started laughing, picturing the look on Al’s face after realising he’d been pranked by his older brother yet again.  So much for getting to finish his chapter…. Harry replaced his bookmark and set the book on the table by his chair, then stood up, preparing to separate his sons before they tried to kill each other.

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Part of My Charm (Response to a writing prompt found on Pinterest)

“I’m bitter and complicated.  It’s one of my charms.”

“I don’t think you know what that word means.  Or how to count.”

“Sod off, Potter!  You don’t want me to start listing what yours are,” Draco threatened.  Harry just grinned.

“Sexy, charming, gorgeous, great in bed…”

“No, those all describe me.  Irritating, gormless git, know-it-all, superiority complex…”

“No, those all describe you…well, except for the know-it-all part, the only person we know who acts like that is Hermione.”

“Good one, Potter.  She is such an insufferable know-it-all still, isn’t she?” Draco smirked.

“Oh yeah, tell me about it.  I love her like a sister, but she can be really irritating sometimes.  ‘No, Harry, that’s not how you do it…here, let me show you…’  Irritating, I tell you…do me a favour, love…never ask her for advice on our love life.”

“Deal.  That’s that last thing we need her interfering with…besides which, we don’t need the help, we’re doing just fine on our own.”

“Speaking of which… We still have a couple hours before Teddy comes over for the weekend…”

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Weekly Recap (Week of Sunday, 11 June through Saturday, 17 June 2017)

Yay, I finally got the last kitten named!  Akasha was the one that gave me the most trouble coming up with a name for her, but finally I have something to call her besides just “Sissy” (or “sillybutt cat” 😛 ).  Now if I could just get them all fixed, so I don’t have to listen to their caterwauling every month…

I found a few more writing prompts, so I’ve been busy writing my responses to a few of them, and am going to be working on some more this week, so that I have enough to finish out the month with, at least.

I managed to get one of my medicines refilled this week, the liquid albuterol for my nebulizer, but I’m almost out already, so I desperately need to get the last refill for it this week, hopefully today.  Then I’ll need to make an appointment so I can get a new prescription, otherwise I’m going to be in trouble when that last box runs out.  I absolutely cannot breathe without my nebulizer and my inhalers, which I also need to get renewed this week as my current one is almost completely empty (it’s been on “0” for days, but there’s always still enough medicine left over after that happens to get me through another few days before I have to get it refilled…unfortunately for me, that always happens two weeks before I can get the next refill).  This month I’m actually past the date where I can go get my next refill, but my insurance coverage has to kick in again before I can go pick it up, as I do not have the $60 plus it would cost to pay for it otherwise (with my insurance, it’s free).  So I really need the letter from my insurance to show up this week telling me that yes, I’m covered again, so I can go get the medicines I need just to be able to make it through the day.  It sucks not even being able to walk to the mailbox without becoming short of breath, but that’s what happens to me most days, especially with the weather aggravating my asthma.  It was supposed to rain just about every day this last week, but only rained a couple times, once it poured for a few hours and then stopped, the other times it would rain for a couple minutes and then stop, and of course then it would be twice as hot as before it started raining.  We desperately need the rain, too, the ground is way too dry, but every time it rains my asthma acts up ten times worse.  Of course, having it super hot and humid doesn’t help it either, and don’t even get me started on what winter weather does to me….I definitely live in the wrong state!

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