Christmas Puzzle

Usually, every Christmas I break out a new puzzle for something fun to do during the school holiday break. Every year I try to entice my family to join me in trying to put it together. This includes my husband, the kids and their spouses, my parents, sister, brother-in-law and nephew. Usually one or two design to help me with my endeavor. This is also usually done with much muttering and grumbling about how stupid puzzles are. Yet, here they are. Helping me. Go figure! The spouses of my kids help without all the whining or politely decline.

This was the latest puzzle I bought to start…two years ago!

College of Magical Knowledge
by James C. Christensen

Now I knew this 1500 piece puzzle would be hard. There is a lot of detail and the trees alone gave me pause, but I love the picture. So I bought it. It sat until last Christmas when I finally broke it out because, hello! Pandemic! What else were we going to do? Couldn’t go anywhere. Everything was closed. So, open the puzzle it was. Funny thing about this puzzle. The top left corner that is all clouds and blue sky was the easiest part to do!

I think the reason I like puzzles is because you know the end result, you just have to figure out how to get there. Picking apart something that is all tangled up is kind of the same thing. Figuring out how the knots are put together and unraveling them, ending with separate pieces. Only in a puzzle the process is reverse. The pieces are all separate and you have to figure out how to put them all back together. Eight months later…Wha-la! (I have no idea how to spell this word, and I could not find it on Google. :P)

College of Magical Knowledge
by James C. Christensen

Yes, you heard me. Eight months. It is the biggest puzzle I have done in a long time, and I’ll admit, there were times it sat unattended. After working all day, the last thing I wanted to do was something that pushed my brain that had been turned into mush any further. This last weekend I told myself I was finishing it. I didn’t think I would make it, but suddenly I was down to the last two pieces and it was done. Yea! Now it sits on the table and I no longer have to worry about losing pieces or have that nagging feeling in the back of my head that there is something I need to do. At least when it comes to the puzzle. lol. I did think about gluing it together and framing it, but I never liked that look. So, soon I will be putting it back in it’s box and starting to look for another puzzle to do. I have been informed, by my husband, that the next one needs to be easier. We’ll see. he he he

Is there a tradition you do every year during a holiday that is maybe a little funky or fun?

Have a great afternoon!

Heidi

P.S. If you are wondering, I found this puzzle on Amazon. It’s 1500 pieces, 26″ X 32″ finished, and by Sunsout

Summer Reading and it’s Pitfalls

Every summer there is a to-do list that I make. All the things that I hadn’t had time to do or was just too exhausted when I got home to do when school is in session. I try to get most of those things crossed off my list as soon as possible so I can have that needed down time to rejuvenate for the start of the next year. Even with a late start due to vacation NOT in Washington, summer cold that kicked my butt and the loss of our pet, my list is slowly whittling down. All that’s really left is the fun stuff. You know, cleaning out the gutters, washing the windows and skylights. Things when I was 10 years younger I never thought twice about because getting on and off the roof didn’t seem so daunting. What happened to the girl that would skip across decks that were nothing but skeletons (no floor boards), two stories up without a second thought? Funny how age and mortality, or the understanding of it, coincide.

There is one thing that is sort of holding me back from finishing my to-do list a bit faster, and this happens more often than it probably should. I love to read. (I know! Shocker, right?) Well, there is a downside to this. If I am really enjoying the book, nothing gets done until the book gets done. On laundry day that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Start a load, read my book until laundry done, switch to dryer and start another load in washer, read my book…you get the idea. When the kids were home and laundry was an all day thing, it was great! Unfortunately the kids have moved out and laundry ‘day’ has shrunk down to laundry ‘couple of hours’. Not a lot of time for the quality reading I want to do. And if it’s a series…well then we have a problem because there is more than one book to a series.

The worst I think was when I started reading Laurell K Hamilton. A friend lent me the first couple of books of the Merry Gentry series to see if I liked them, so I blame the lack of anything getting done for WEEKS on her. If any of you have read her series you know they are loooong. I think her Anita Blake series is now up to book number 28 with a couple of side stories. Then there is Sherilyn Kenyon. There is not enough o’s to put into the word long for her Dark Hunter and League series, and all the connecting series to those series. If I like the characters and the storylines I want more. It always saddens me when I come to the end of a book I really like and there is nothing more to read about the characters in that book. The two writers I mentioned above have not disappointed when it comes to more. There are a few more writers that I keep tabs on for the next book to be published in a long series, but these two are my favorites.

This summer I found a new writer I have come to like. K M Shea. My husband read one of her series and liked it so recommended it to me. I was looking for something to read so I decided why not. What I didn’t realize was that there was more than the three books that were connected to the particular storyline/world I started. The Snow Queen trilogy, Timeless Fairy Tales series, and The Fairy Tale Enchantress series all intertwine. When I finished that seventeen book series (there is more because the actually storyline is not finished, she just hasn’t written them yet), I found out she had more. The Magiford City has two trilogies that connect, the first being Hall of Blood and Mercy trilogy. The stories are written well, clean love stories with the supernatural elements (which I love!) and funny. That last part kind of gets me into trouble. Especially in the middle of the night when I giggle and it wakes my husband up. He’s not so amused.

There are a couple more trilogies/series from K M Shea that I haven’t read yet, but I decided if I wanted to get anything done they will have to wait. Since I do need something to read before I go to bed I decided to reread something. I do that a lot with books I like. I want to experience a certain feel, if that makes any sense. This series I have read many times. It has helped me through a time in my life when an event threw me for such a loop it took years to stop the world from spinning. Harry Potter. I was reading it when a tragedy that I won’t get into right now hit my family. I hadn’t realized I had kept rereading the books until my husband asked me how many times I was going to read them. I thought about it and realized I was on number 7 of rereads. I think it was because it was safe. There were no surprises and I knew what the outcome was going to be. It actually scared me to read a different book, but I pushed myself to and in a way that new book full of surprises helped me to begin moving forward in my life. I love this series either in book or movie form. I’ve watched the movies many times too, but it’s been a while since I’ve read the books. So, I’m hoping that because I know what is going to happen so I don’t have to keep reading I can put my kindle down and finish my to-do list a little faster. Because on that to-do list is writing and editing my own book. We’ll see.

Have a great afternoon!

Heidi

Summer Vacation

Summer vacation for our school district officially started June 18th. What a year! We are in school, we are hybrid, we are online. And that was just the beginning of the year. When we finally decided that we were all online (or rather the state did) we could finally move forward in one direction instead of trying to set up two different scenarios of what school will look like. (In-building or online.) I was online until October, where I was pulled in-building to work with a special needs student. I was fine with it. It got me out of the house and made the days go faster. Although there were a few added items to the teacher/para dress code.

The last quarter of the school year we started hybrid school. (Half of the students in-building while the other half was online at the same time. They would switch every other day with Wednesdays everyone online.) It was a bit scary because we had not done anything like this before. But we had survived being thrown unceremoniously into online school March of 2020, we could survive hybrid. And we did.

So, now we are in summer vacation, and boy do we need it. All the stress of learning new ways to teach, some of the technology. Do I have covid, do I not have covid? If I do have I given it to anyone else. No, my cough is not covid, it’s allergies! If I don’t go somewhere besides work and home anytime soon I may go insane and commit someone bodily harm….. Well, that last one maybe not so much, but I can see where the isolation and worry would send some into that downward spiral. It’s exhausting because you can’t relax. What did happen is that in order to survive all the unknowns and changes I did not commit to any change because I knew that THAT would change within the next day or so. So why bother? “It is what it is” was something I clung to because I knew what was, is still, happening to the world is not in anyone’s control. All we can do is try to follow the guidelines the experts set out for us and pray we don’t fall victim to something that is so small we cannot see it without some sort of high-powered microscope. Ugh!

I keep digressing. Okay. Summer.

The weekend before school ended we headed to Michigan for our niece’s wedding reception. It was great to see everyone and have some fun. Mask restrictions were lifted for those of us fully vaccinated, which was great with the 90F+ degree weather. Michigan is a beautiful state. The only complaint I have is in the summer when you are in a hot and muggy room and need to go outside to get some relief from the hot and muggy, guess what. IT’S JUST AS HOT AND MUGGY! Gah! Other than that it was a blast. Back to school for a week and then we are off. Freedom!

First weekend, Father’s day and Birthdays. House clean and leftover food and I was set for the next week to do nothing but yardwork and getting ready for our Vegas trip. Unfortunately, our dog, Jack, was diagnosed with cancer. We knew he was not doing well. The last six months his health was deteriorated rapidly. When everyone was here for the celebrations I warned them I was taking Jack to the vets and there was a good chance he was not coming home. He was 17 years old and he had lived a great life. It was also the first time I have taken him to the vet and he was not shaking. I think he was tired of not feeling good and the pain. It was also one of the hardest things I have had to do, but at the same time I was mentally ready for the outcome. Unfortunately it does not help with the pain of loss. He will be missed.

Jack

Vegas was a lot of fun. We walked over 40 miles in one week. We lucked out with a couple of days in the 90s. What was weird was on that Sunday and Monday, we were cooler in Vegas than it was in Washington State! I did not miss that 116F we had on Monday. We are part of that 70% of people in the Pacific Northwest that do not have air-conditioning. Did we win anything in Vegas? We held our own. Ate some good food, did some shopping, sat out by the pool and relaxed. It was a great vacation.

Then we came home and I caught a cold….. (sigh)

I think today I can finally say my summer vacation can start (not including the week in Vegas vacation). Starting a routine of walking in the morning, then writing with what yardwork there is and errands afterwards. The house does seem a bit empty without Jack, but I also have some freedom to be out and about longer without having to worry about him. And I have the Dragon. Not sure she will know what hit her when I start to pay more attention to her. he he he.

Blaze

Have a great day and rest of your week!

Heidi

Thoughts that Wander to the Darkside

In keeping with my promise to myself that I was going to be more of an online presence, I was trying to think of something to write about today and it was hard. I usually like to keep things upbeat, happy when I blog. My poems are another matter, but writing down my thoughts I try to keep at least somewhat cheerfully. Today nothing is coming to mind that’s anywhere near upbeat, happy or cheerful. It’s all darkness, and that’s a bit more scary to unleash upon others. It’s towards the end of a hectic exhausting school year, we are starting our thirteenth month of COVID mind-numbing madness, spring as sprung and, while it is a beautiful season, it’s not my favorite due to allergies and potential migraines. The bottom line is, I’m just plain exhausted. Anybody else?

Okay. Here it goes. This morning I started out with some pretty ugly thoughts in my head. Not about anyone else, but about myself. Thoughts that drag me down as a person, a writer. As someone others want to get to know or be around. This tells me something in my life needs to change. I’m not sure exactly what, but what I did know was my inner monologue was my writer’s imagination drifting to the dark side. Taking random thoughts or observations and spinning them into something that is not entirely true. At least not to the extent they whispered to me this morning. When tears threatened, I finally told myself that I needed to stop. That none of it was true. It was just my overactive imagination trying to bring me down. Then I tried to figure out why I was in the mindset I was in.

Part of it, I think, is I work in a building full of people, but because of restrictions and rules I don’t get to talk to those people like I used to. We are all sequestered in out little areas, keeping contact to a minimum, only really talking when we see each other briefly by email or in the hall, and then usually about the student we work with. All the time in the back of our minds thinking, are we six feet apart? Have we been together longer than fifteen minutes? When can we finally take these damn masks off? There are no lunches together, no real time to just relax around each other. It’s all very isolating, and why I like my alone time, lately it has become overwhelming.

I’m not someone who believes that COVID is all a big lie. That it’s a conspiracy the government has concocted to take over control of us all. I know too many people in other countries that are in the same boat we are. Lockdowns, keeping apart, masks. Some are more strict than others, but it’s out there. EVERYWHERE. As far as the masks, I do believe they work. I’ve been fully exposed to COVID, but we were wearing our masks and most of the time, not all of it, keeping our distance. I know that is what saved me from catching it. But back to my head and it’s dark thoughts.

Tomorrow there will be a change in my routine. I can finally be in a classroom with other kids. (Shots, immunity issues. That is about all I can say with the confidentiality clauses in place.) I don’t mind being in my little room, but I think it’s starting to really get to me. The change of pace, more than just me or my student in the same room (albeit six feet apart) will be nice.

I also think I need a vacation. I don’t mean a weekend somewhere we drive to. We’ve done that over this last year. I mean, get on a plane and GO somewhere that is not…here. We are doing this next month. My niece is having her wedding reception in Michigan and we have the plane tickets. Four days of not being here. I can’t wait! This Saturday is the bridal shower which I will attend via Zoom. It will still be fun because I will get to see people I haven’t seen in a long time. We also are going to celebrate Mother’s day with my family. We are all vaccinated and it will be the first time we have all gotten together since March 2020. We have a few birthdays to celebrate, too.

So while the thoughts were dark this morning, they have become better as the day has gone on. There are other things I could do that I’ve been putting off, like losing weight, getting into shape. I can get outside more and work in the garden. Yes, it rains this time of year in Washington State, a lot, and it won’t help the allergies, but it will not be inside letting my head get the better of me. Writing this out has helped too. Another thing I should start doing again. Putting the pen to paper.

I hope you are staying safe, that you, too, can soon go somewhere that is not here, and have a wonderful rest of your week.

Heidi

© Copyright 2021

Being More Present – Blog

As some of you know, I am a Para-Educator. What that is is a teacher’s assistance of sorts. I help students who need that little bit of extra assistance. Some need more than others. Some just need a person that is paying attention to what they are doing and redirect them in to a direction that won’t lead to a visit to the principal’s office. While at time it can be exhausting and down right dangerous, it can also be rewarding when that student you’ve been helping out reaches that next level of learning, or figures out on their own to follow the path that doesn’t lead to the often embarrassing and frustrating visit followed by a call to the parental unit.

One of the perks of being a Para at the high school level is being able to take, along with your student, classes that you might not have had in your school or have always wanted to take. This year I have had the opportunity to take Digital Photography, Spanish and Social Media Marketing. While my Spanish is…well…we won’t get into just how loooong ago I took Spanish in high school and say it’s a bit rusty. Digital Photography was a blast and I now have Photoshop Elements on my home computer and can actually use some of the expert level features.

At the moment we are in Social Media Marketing. Today we started looking into blogging. For the kids I work with I pulled up this site and had to frown at what needed to be updated and fixed. It made me realize just how far down the work/housework/yardwork/plain exhausted/COVID rabbit hole I have gone. It seems when I get home I have no brain cells left to do any writing, or even think about writing. The characters in my head have been complaining they have things to say, places to go, people to save; yet when I sit down to write I get silence. Or a half hearted attempt at telling me something that won’t work in the part of the story I am currently writing. I think deep down, they too are a little brain dead.

We have seven and a half more weeks of school left. Seven and a half more weeks to survive the crazy schedule of hybrid/online learning we have been navigating this year. Seven and a half more weeks when my brain can maybe breath a sigh of relief and relax enough to start thinking about what is to come next for my heroine, hero and their band of merry if slightly broken immortals. Until then, I am going to try and be more present here. Whether it’s gardening, writing or just plain speaking what’s on my mind.

Until then, and even afterwards, stay safe and have a wonderful afternoon.

Heidi

Copyright © 2021

I Don’t Understand

I don’t understand
why people hate so easily.
I don’t understand
why we can’t get along.
I understand
people are different.
Different colors
different cultures
different beliefs.
I understand
some people do not like different.
Do not like the unknown
do not like change.
I don’t understand
why we hate so easily.
I think many truly do not understand
what hate is.
When I was young, I used the word hate freely.
I hate the color pink…
I hate when it’s too hot…
I hate Brussel sprouts…
I hate…you.
Until…
One glace
from eyes the blue of midnight skies.
One word
falsely uttered with the innocence of a newborn lamb.
One quirk from lips
which truth is as foreign as the deepest parts of space.
Such small simple gestures
sent a tidal wave of rage so strong
my knees threaten to cave.
My site dimmed
covered with the hazy red from the deepest pits
of hell.
My body trembled as if the earth itself
shook with my rage.
My voice squeezed down, down, down
until a hoarse whisper was my only sound.
Those around me did not understand.
Those around me did not see
the man who had destroyed so many lives.
Who had wrote misery and grief
death and chaos
most of all, fear
so he remained free.
Only then did I truly understand
the word hate.
How I had used the word in haste.
In disregard for the power
that single word held.
Now
I dislike pink.
I prefer a warm breeze to the hot sun.
As for Brussels sprouts…well
the word hate may still pertain
or at least a strong gag inducing distaste.
Most of all
I do not hate you.
Not for your differences,
not for your beliefs,
not because your way of seeing things is unusual
to what others may think as the straight and narrow.
I am willing to learn
what I don’t understand
because hate is a word, an emotion
I only reserve
for those people, places or things
that have truly earned the label of
hate.

© Copywrite 2021 Heidi Barnes

Sweet Words Devil’s Work

I ask you
why do you persist?
I ask you
Why do you resist?

You tell me
this is my choice by right
You tell me
this is my soul’s plight

I wonder
do you see the truth
I wonder
does ignorance bleed youth

You follow
walking blindly into darkness
You follow
walking where evil harkens

I see
the danger ahead
I see
the traps they set

You don’t hear
evil’s lies
You don’t hear
angel’s cries

Evil dressed as good
is still evil under the hood
Be careful of sweet words
that pull you into the devils work.

© Copywrite 2021 Heidi Barnes

Spring has Sprung

Spring as sprung

the birds chirp

the frogs burp

Spring has sprung

the grass needs mowing

the weeds are growing…..

Spring has sprung

the sky is blue

the flowers bloom

Spring has sprung

the mood is lite

words at last take flight

© Copywrite 2021 Heidi Barnes

Someone Dies Tonight

Witches scream
fires bright
someone will die tonight.
Chaos reigns
while demons play
there is only one god tonight.
Devil spawn
chant deep magic
as shadows stretch in firelight
dark secrets revealed,
someone will die tonight
Struggling, pleading
deaf ears it falls
Crying out to a god
with words they were taught
who seems to care naught.
You are naïve,
they say
You have hope where hope is no more,
they say.
Give in
give him
your undying devotion
your hope
your soul.
Give him everything you are
you were
will be,
no one will die tonight.
One last chance
one last phrase,
no one will die tonight.
Silence ensues
breath held tight,
cracking flame breaks the night
With one last word
one last phrase,
someone died tonight.

© 2021 Heidi Barnes