Belated Celebrate: Barn Kittens

0729161314The picture above is what happens when a barncat mother of 6 wakes up to find 5 extra kittens in the kitten bed. And it looks like she’s going to have to keep them. Charybdis, first time mama of 6, has to take care of the kittens of Consubstatial 1, who ran out the door and hasn’t come back.

Escaping mama cats is a chronic problem around here. Most of my cats are barn cats, but I bring the pregnant ones in the house so the kittens will be properly socialized. Many people want to get barn cat kittens, but they expect them to be friendly, not the hostile little monsters that you get when you leave barn kittens alone until their mama moves the litter to someplace you can find.

But mostly mama cats come back to my door after an hour or two of freedom. So I’m pretty worried Consubstantial 1’s kittens may be orphans.

These kittens are very young, but not too young to be started on solid food. And Char’s kittens are about 4 weeks and just started on solid food.

Since Char can only feed 6 kittens at a time because she only had 6 nursing before, I’m feeding them in shifts. I put Connie 1’s kittens in the lower bin of the multi-level cat bed, and Char’s on the next level up. When Connie 1’s babies are done, Char’s babies get a turn. And I’m keeping solid food available at all times for Char’s babies and have let Connie 1’s babies sniff at it.

I am hoping that I can manage to keep all 11 kittens going that way if the mama doesn’t come back.

In other cat related news, escaped pregnant cat http://lexacain.blogspot.com/Consubstantial 2 has been recaptured, and this morning had 4 newborn kittens in her nest. I REALLY hope she will stop at 4.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

How to detox after a carb-eating binge

atkins-diet-revolution-1972One of the things most people don’t know when they start a ketogenic or low-carb diet is that you have to STAY on it. The diet changes over your metabolism so you are burning fat rather than glucose. When you overindulge in foods not on your diet— even when quantities are small— it has a big effect.

Why? Because you have changed your metabolism back, and you will have carb-cravings until you change it back. You will start experiencing hunger. After being on keto and never feeling hunger, that will be hard. And you will have a bunch of symptoms because of your indulgence— a carb-eating hangover.

I ate carbs for some days because of my niece’s wedding (and other stresses), and now it’s time for me to detox. I looked up some info on how to do it, and here is my plan. I hope it will help others.

  • Drink lots of water. If your tap water tastes bad and filters don’t help, try drinking cups of plain hot tea. I mean real tea, like Lipton, not tea with flavorings, herb ‘tea’, pre-sugared tea mix. Black, green and white tea are OK. My favorite is Prince of Peace brand pu-erh tea.
  • DON’T drink juices or fruit smoothies. These items are full of ‘natural’ sugars, and they are just as bad for you as eating white sugar out of the bag.
  • Go back to an Induction level low-carb plan as in the Atkins diet books, where you cannot have fruit, nuts, nut flours or other more carby foods.
  • Don’t eat all the veggies allowed on Atkins Induction while you are detoxing. Pick veggies like spinach or broccoli, raw or cooked plain. I’m planning to use wild greens like dandelions for my greens allowance.
  • Eat enough fat. Perhaps try some of the recipes in Dana Carpender’s Fat Fast cookbook— but don’t limit your portions as in the Fat Fast (temporary) diet. You have to get back on your regular keto first.
  • Expect to feel bad, or to have food cravings.
  • Don’t exercise if you are feeling symptoms, or do mild exercise like taking a walk.
  • A lot of things I have read say not to feel guilty over your carb binge. I disagree. If you KNOW keto works for you and is healthy for you, and you have an unplanned carb binge anyway, you made a mistake and you hurt your health and you should have a little guilt in there because of it. A little guilt can keep us from making the same mistakes over again.
  • Make plans to avoid future carb binges— perhaps bringing some foods with you when you travel. Now, you CAN plan to eat some carb food you used to love on certain special occasions, but you have to have a plan or it will turn into a week-long or month-long carb binge.

In conclusion— while a carb binge can be bad, all you have to do is get busy detoxing and you will recover. Your keto diet is not doomed by your carb binge. Hey, if I can (mostly) stick to it, anyone can.

Celebrate: How the writer’s Golden Rule helps your writing career.

Celebrate blog hopThis is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. More information here: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/

Do you remember the Golden Rule? Many younger people have never learned it. It goes something like this: Do to others as you would have others do to you. It’s a sort of mathematics of human social behavior. If you don’t like getting insulted, you can guess that other people don’t like getting insulted either, so you shouldn’t do it. If you don’t like having your things stolen, don’t steal from others. That sort of thing.

But how does that apply to writers? Well, imagine this situation. You have a new book coming out. And there are a handful of writers, most a bit more successful than you, who:

1. Go out and buy your book.

2. Write reviews of it,

3. Who post things on their blogs about the book.

4. Who Tweet about it.

5. Who share it on their Facebook pages and in a couple of appropriate Facebook groups.

How could you make that happen in the real world? Well, you take steps 1-5 and do them for other writers. Now, it won’t earn you much gratitude from the big-name writers like Stephen King or even the lesser-selling writers who are published by the big publishers. And even self-published and small press writers might not notice all the help you are giving if you don’t get to know them first. What you need is to develop a circle of just the right kind of writer friends— writers who are at a similar place in their writing lives, for example. Writers who write in the same or similar genres, or at least appreciate your genre as you appreciate theirs. Writers who understand your point of view— an angry atheist writer and a devoutly religious writer are not a good match, or an erotic romance writer with an Amish romance writer.

Here are some steps to finding your circle of writing friends:

  1. Network with other writers. You can do it by blog hops, or by joining FB writing groups that have actual conversations in them. Show interest in other people’s books and book promotion problems, don’t just write about your own. Make sure to join some specialized groups— mystery writers, science fiction writers, writers with Asperger’s Syndrome, feminist writers, women-against-feminism writers… Just make sure that the group is active and the members aren’t 100% absolute writing beginners.
  2. As you network, look for other writers that seem friendly. If they have FB author pages, like the pages. If they seem interested, make a friend request.
  3. Read the books of these writers and review them. Let them know, somehow, that you have done so.
  4.  Periodically share things that they post on their Facebook page.
  5. If you are on Twitter, follow these friends there.
  6. After a while of trying to be friendly and helpful, see if they are responding. Do they ‘like’ or comment on your Facebook posts? Do they ever volunteer to read some of your work? Do they ever share your Facebook posts or retweet your Tweets? If they are becoming responsive friends to you, you can begin considering them as part of your personal circle.
  7. Continue to do steps 1-5 above for all the friends in the circle. Don’t count the things you do for them and the things they do for you.
  8.  When you have done things for your friends, you might, on some occasions, ask them for favors. Make sure you say that you understand if they can’t do it.

After doing something similar to this for some time, even though I am not a person accustomed to having friends, I have a few good author friends that will help me out sometimes as I help them. Having friends like this may seem like a ‘small thing’ to readers out there who don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome. But for me, it’s a cause for big celebration.


Blogging ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’

Today I have started blogging the contents of my first poetry book, ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows.’  I did not know how to promote my book in 2010 when I published it. So I decided to blog about 1/2 of the poems in this book, and see what happens.

jungle spiders

she was raised among the cannibals
in borneo or was it new guinea— no matter
her father was an avid anthropologist
right up to the day he was eaten
the cannibals don’t kill you
of course but if you die
you shan’t go to waste
he always joked &
he was quite right actually

she was raised among the cannibals
and the chief’s chief wife doted on her
taught her all her best recipes
and the secrets of ruling a cannibal husband
she learned her lessons well
all her husbands said so

she was raised among the cannibals
and that could explain
quite a lot

(c) 1990 Nissa Annakindt
Where the Opium Cactus Grows on Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Opium-Cactus-Grows-Annakindt/dp/0557939135/

 

IWSG: Will all our voices still be heard?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

This is a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Join them here: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

The world of writing has changed. If a big publisher doesn’t want to publish your work, not because it’s bad, but because you don’t fit into their image of what a writer should be, think and write about, you have options— you can self-publish. That makes some of us feel that we are utterly free and can publish whatever we like, no matter what our point of view is on such matters as politics and religion. But that freedom may turn out to be quite restricted.

You may know that the publishing world has become more consolidated. Instead of dozens of independent publishers, there are a handful of publishers with dozens of imprints each. Many of these imprints were formerly independent publishers.

Does this matter if you are self-published? It might. Because the firms we use to self-publish— CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords— are also major publishers likely dominated by let’s-all-think-alike progressives. If you are a successful self-published author but don’t fit in to what big publishers have determined is mainstream enough, there is always a chance that someone might decree that  something you have written is ‘hateful’ or ‘extreme.’

Being careful may not help. During my Youthful Marxist Phase I wrote a sarcastic phrase ‘bullets and ballots mean much the same thing.’ The Communist that ran ‘Struggle’ magazine failed to recognize the sarcasm and rejected that poem on the ground that it was far too ‘extreme’ even for full-on Communists. Anyone can run afoul of these accusations, especially those who are independent thinkers.

Some may feel that the solution is to sell out. Be what the big-boy publishers want a writer to be, even if you are self-publishing. Write another me-too commonplace novel even though it’s something you don’t even want to READ much less write. But that seems to me to be just another way to sell your soul.

So, will our voices be heard? I know that there are a lot of people in the publishing world that would not particularly welcome my voice. I am a prolife Catholic Christian, a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, a chaste-and-loving-it lesbian, and a conservative-libertarian. They won’t know whether to call me a hater or claim to be ‘liberating’ me.

But I have something in me that is not easily silenced. Perhaps it’s just my Asperger’s Syndrome which makes me not know when to shut up. Perhaps it’s just that I want to be myself since I don’t know how to be anyone else. Will anyone hear my voice? If I don’t keep trying, I will never know. I hope that all who read these words will also keep trying, and being true to themselves. Don’t conform, create!

My Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/


Poem of the Day

Here’s one of my own poems that seemed appropriate.

msm

the place was full
of fences
to let us know
where to be

fences
meshing
in our minds
to keep us in
main
stream

(c) Nissa Annakindt

from my book ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’, 2010 edition. The title of the poem, ‘msm’ refers to the mainstream media. Just in case you didn’t guess.

If you can read this, it means you have read this post all the way to the bottom. Thanks! Please leave a comment, and, since you were kind enough to read my post, feel free to link to your book (if you have one) and perhaps give a short (1 or 2 sentence) summary of what your book is about.

Are Utopias Dystopic?

the-hunger-games“Dystopian” fiction is hot right now.  A dystopia is a government/system in which things are bad. Usually one cause is an all-p0werful big government which attempts to control all aspects of its subjects’ lives, and which deals harshly with dissenters.

Dystopian fiction is a form of futuristic/science fiction literature set in a dystopian society. In ‘YA’ literature (fiction for kids from about 9-14) dystopia is a popular theme right now, as in The Hunger Games. There is also dystopian fiction for grownups, such as Richard Bachman’s The Long Walk, Daniella Bova‘s Tears of Paradox, and Marina Fontaine‘s Chasing Freedom. Real-world dystopias include the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, North Korea, and Nazi Germany.

The word ‘utopia‘ tends to claim to be the opposite of dystopia. But I believe that isn’t necessarily true. A utopia is often a top-down society in which the wise king or political leader imposes his vision of a perfect society on his sheep-like people. It’s a perfect society— for the king. But for the ordinary citizen of a utopia, told what crops to grow, how and when he can sell them, when and why to marry (if marriage is allowed), what religion he is to follow (if any), it’s very little different than living in a dystopia. In either case, freedom is lacking, in order to ensure that everyone gets to live the ‘perfect’ life. The leader in both a utopia and a dystopia is doing what he does for everyone’s good- or at least he thinks so.

A real utopia is impossible to achieve outside of heaven, and it’s only possible there because God has the power to change the nature of the inhabitants of heaven so they no longer have the capacity to do violence to one another, steal, seek revenge, and so on. In the real world (except for heaven) people are messy. They don’t all want the same things, and mostly, people want to be left alone to do things their way.

The real opposite of a dystopia is not a utopia, but a free society in the traditional Constitutional American sense. Certain rights were guaranteed, such as freedom of religion, speech, the press…. But there was no big-government out there trying to micro-manage personal relationships, or to ensure that both the industrious and the lazy enjoyed ‘equal’ prosperity. Local schools were organized by local communities, and were there to serve the families that used those schools, not to indoctrinate a younger generation to reject the religion, practices and politics of their parents.

In the US of today, the concept of personal freedom is vanishing. If a person thinks all vaccines are wonderful things, he is not content to use the vaccines himself, he has to demand that 100% of the other people use those vaccines too— even if they have moral objections, as those who won’t use the measles vaccine based on the fact that the vaccine is created using the fetal tissue of a newly conceived child killed by abortion.

Likewise, some people believe that the ideology taught in the public schools is true and wonderful, and so they want 100% of children to experience the indoctrination. Alternative schools such as the Catholic and Lutheran school systems much teach the same ideology or be sued out of existence, and homeschooling— even though it produces better results— must be banned.

One use for utopian/dystopian fiction is to issue a warning about the real world. Some authors may choose to warn against dissenting against their own particular form of faux utopia. Others warn us to fight the loss of freedoms we now experience, lest a dystopia come into being. If you prefer the second sort, you might like the Facebook page ‘Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.’

Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/PageCLFA


ChasingFreedom


Poem of the Day

The Emperor’s Garden

Once, in the sultry heat of Midsummer,
An Emperor caused the miniature mountains in his garden
To be covered with white silk,
That so crowned
They might cool his eyes
With the sparkle of snow.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Poetry Pantry: The Dead are Near Us

the-walking-dead-season-6-b-key-art-rick-lincoln-morgan-james-1200x707-v1

Shared on Poetry Pantry at Poets United

The Dead are Near Us

We are never, ever alone, no
Because the dead are ever near us
Planted in the meadows
Dust scattered on the seashore

Or walking down the alleyway
Knocking over our garbage cans

May 31, 2015
sijo with zombie theme

I am a fan of the television series ‘The Walking Dead’, and this poem is an outgrowth of my zombie-addiction. I like the  image at the end of the zombie as a clumsy nuisance knocking over garbage cans rather than a horrifying destructive force.

The reason I like the sijo form is that it gives you more room to work with than in a haiku. I find the haiku very difficult to write well and it was only after writing many sijo that I finally managed to write haiku that I’m not ashamed of.

Korean sijo are written in three lines— because in the Korean alphabet three lines of the syllable length required would fit on the page. English sijo are usually written in six lines. Sometimes a solid block of six lines, sometimes with a space between each pair of lines, and sometimes as the one I have written above, with the first four lines in a block and the last two after a space.

This arrangement, which I borrowed from my favorite sijo book, puts the last two lines together because those lines are a turning, or counter-theme, or something unexpected, as well as the conclusion of the poem.

I tend to write sijo using a model poem— an old Korean sijo in English translation. I copy the model down, often in handwriting. I note how the model carries out the traditional sijo pattern and I count the syllables in the translation. When I write my own poem, I often have themes or keywords in mind. Sometimes I use some words or patterns from the model poem, sometimes not.

This is the model I used for the poem above:

In a valley where a stream flows,
I built a cottage on a ledge.
When I plough the soil under the moon
And lie down in the clouds there,

Even the sky and the earth seem to say,
Live and grow old along with us.

This is an anonymous poem, found in the book ‘Sunset in a Spider Web: Sijo Poetry of Ancient Korea’, adapted by Virginia Olsen Baron. As you can see I didn’t take much from the poem other than a lesson on how to construct sijo. No death, cremation of zombies in this poem. Sad, really.

 

A basic guide to writing sijo

When coffee is not enough: fighting winter blues & S. A. D.

WinterBluesIt’s winter, and that means that many people are trying to cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or its less intense form, Winter Blues. The condition can make you feel sad or worthless. It can also sap your energy and make you wish it were socially acceptable for humans to hibernate.

For writers and other creative people, these conditions can slow your winter productivity. You may end up spending months not writing, blogging or promoting your books, and feeling hopeless and useless because of it.

Some writers probably try to ‘cure’ their SAD with mass quantities of coffee. This is not a good solution, and not just because excess coffee consumption killed Honore de Balzac. A caffeine high isn’t dealing with the real cause of SAD, it is just (possibly) covering up a symptom.

The problem of the coffee-addicted SAD writer is that coffee can have other side effects that hurt your writing, such as insomnia. And as you get older, your doctor may insist you give up your caffeine habit. What happens to your writing then?

I used to think the only thing that could be done for the SAD person was using ‘full spectrum’ light bulbs. Which are hard to get where I lived. But then I read the book ‘Winter Blues’ by Norman E. Rosenthal, MD. Rosenthal has been involved in research into SAD and the Winter Blues for decades, and he had a lot of research-based advice.

Most importantly, people experiencing depression, even seasonal depression, should seek help for it. He also said that light therapy is a big help, but it doesn’t require ‘full spectrum’ light bulbs.

Instead he suggests the use of a light therapy lamp daily. I bought a Verilux brand HappyLight Liberty 5k lamp, because it was only $39.00. (If it were not for money considerations, I would have bought one of the larger Verilux light therapy lamps.) I sit in front of the lamp every morning and read or blog or something. Rosenthal’s book gives good instructions on how to use light therapy lamps.

Rosenthal also suggests using a dawn simulator to wake up in the morning. I got a Phillips Wake-Up light model HF3520/60. It wakes you with a light that progresses from dim orange to bright white light over 20 minutes. (Time is adjustable.) You can also program it to use a wake-up sound, either nature sounds (birds and ocean surf) or FM radio.

I’m not normally an alarm clock person. When I have an alarm set, I can’t sleep all night long, anticipating. But this ‘wake-up light’ works for me. The first time I used it, I was very overtired from staying up late. I didn’t feel at all like getting up. So I kept my eyes closed and fell back asleep listening to the nature sounds. Those sounds even featured in my dreams. When the wake-up light finally realized I wasn’t going to get up and turn it off, it turned off the light and the sounds— which woke me up. I think it took about an hour to do that, and I was ready to get up by then. So far, I feel better using it.

There is another trick I know to beat depression that works at any time of year. Just go on a low-carb, ketogenic diet. After a short time on the diet, I feel much more energetic and less depressed. There is actual scientific backing for this effect. The problem is, if you start eating carbs again, the effect stops and you may become depressed again.


Poem of the Day

I have no wife, said I.
And so my landlord gave to me
A tiny maiden flower.

haiku by Yamamoto Kakei, (1648-1716.) From the book ‘The Classical Tradition of Haiku: An Anthology’ edited by Faubion Bowers. The book is a Dover Thrift Edition and cost around $3 when I bought it a few years back. Highly recommended.