Thankful Thoughts

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Whale shark and friends by E.A. Schneider

Happy Thanksgiving, dear pond readers! Today I find myself counting my blessings. I’m thankful for my spouse, my family, my friends, my faith, my work, my words, my readers, and this incredibly beautiful world. This post is filled with pictures of some of our magical wild neighbors which I hope you enjoy. Despite multiple setbacks, I’m thankful that I’m still plugging away at NaNoWriMo, slowly but surely (2574 words and counting!), as well as my reading goal of 52 books (43 books and counting!) this November.

This Thanksgiving may be extra stressful for many in the USA because we’re dreading the P-word (P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S) rearing its head over the turkey and sweet potatoes while grappling with the usual stresses of travel, family, distance, and cooking things we only cook once or twice a year. Fingers crossed for no food poisoning or flu! Look on the bright side, given the statistics on political opinion in the USA, odds are high that we’re all stressed out together. If misery loves company, then surely anxiety enjoys a crowd.

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Jellies in the deep by E.A. Schneider

No matter how tough it is or how divided your dining room might be, it is more important than ever to hang on to those we love and find the strength to keep talking to each other. Count your blessings together, I guarantee that you will find many in common if you try. The future may be uncertain with lots of things to be afraid of, but, cultivating a grateful, loving heart can only be an asset. Especially when coupled with yummy food in the company of dear ones.

What are you grateful for, dear readers? Are you in the final sprint of your own NaNoWriMo experience? Are you cramming in some reading time? Or cramming in a new tasty recipe? Please, leave a comment below while you have a safe, happy, and tasty holiday filled with love. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

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Tanuki in Autumn by E.A. Schneider

 

Hope and Forgiveness

It is several days post election and a lot of people are justifiably scared. I have a lot of thoughts about how things turned out, but, rather than share them today, I’m just going to share this quote which has been a source of comfort over the years during times of uncertainty. Since the news of November 9th, I find myself re-reading it often. Hopefully, it comforts you, too.

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.”

― Reinhold NiebuhrThe Irony of American History

If you want to help make your community a better place and help your neighbors, here is a link with some good suggestions about where to start. Together we can dig deep and make a loving world. Take care, dear readers, and thanks for stopping by the pond today.

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Deep blue calm by E.A. Schneider .

Finished some reading!

I got to do some reading the last couple of days, dear pond readers, and I have a couple tiny updates for you.

Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)Changeless by Gail Carriger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series is distractingly addictive and I am thoroughly enjoying every page. Alexia is a fabulous heroine and I can hardly wait to read what further adventures she encounters in book three armed with her parasol, glassicles, and preternatural wit.

View all my reviews

Red Hood's Revenge (Princess, #3)Red Hood’s Revenge by Jim C. Hines

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The stakes keep building for the trio of no-nonsense princesses in Red Hood’s Revenge. I absolutely love how Hines is mining the deep, dark recesses of classic fairy tales to tell these very realistically positive fantasy stories. I can hardly wait for book four.

View all my reviews

I’m over halfway through my goal of 52 books this year with 29 books done. Here’s hoping that I can not only power on and finish some more books but also do a longer capsule review heavy post for all of you. What are your reading and writing goals this Fall, dear readers? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by.

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Budding possibility by E.A. Schneider

 

If you want to support Technicolorlilypond and check out some super fun books, check out these links: Changeless (The Parasol Protectorate) and Red Hood’s Revenge (Princess Novels) Thank you!

Happy 50th, Star Trek!

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All the captains! This image was found using a Google image search.

September 1966 saw the premiere of Star Trek and the world was forever changed. Star Trek brought us a utopian vision of a future that not only included the continuance of the human species but the inclusion of disparate parts of that species in the exploration of the universe. Then and now, 50 years later, that is still a remarkably optimistic vision that continues to inspire countless fans around the world.

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Earth as seen from the surface of the moon. Image courtesy of the LROC mission.

Star Trek inspired my brother, cousins, and I throughout our childhoods. I grew up with the voyages of the USS-Enterprise, the NCC-1701-D, station Deep Space Nine, and the USS Voyager. I can’t begin to count the number of hours we spent playing Star Trek first with homemade models then computer games on top of watching the shows and movies as well as reading the sundry paperbacks. This was a great way to grow up. I took it for granted that people of different skin tones, genders, and species could work together to understand different phenomena, solve puzzles, and broker inter-galactic peace. Of course women were lawyers, archaeologists, engineers, diplomats, admirals, doctors, counselors, security officers, teachers, captains, and mothers. There was no such thing as the no-win scenario. Instead, there was working the problem with your crew using the tools you had. Sure there was heartbreak, there was tragedy, there were sucky episodes, there were logical fallacies, there were disappointments. Aren’t there always? The average of good to bad, hope to despair, quality to hackery, and possibilities to dead-ends has always tilted high and that is where I continue to hang my trust in the franchise that is Star Trek.

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My childhood tribble that lives over my writing desk.

I’ve written about Star Trek a lot over the years. Over at Playtime: an Arts and Culture Magazine, I wrote about How to Be a Trekkie and Star Trek (2009). Here at my pond I’ve done a few crafty posts including both a quillow and a baby gift-set, a two-part viewing guide to Star Trek that included some recipes, and even a fundraiser inspired by my love of Star Trek’s tribbles. I’m cautiously hopeful about the upcoming television series and I’m looking forward to writing about Star Trek for years to come.

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All my homemade plushie tribbles! They are standing by to save my brain from multiple sclerosis. 

Thanks for existing, Star Trek. Thanks for all the inspiration, all the debates, all the laughs, and all the wonder. You helped me think that science was not only cool but achievable. You also helped solidify my conviction that the power of a good story told well can change the world for the better. Here’s to another 50 years of going where no one has gone before.

How about you, dear pond readers? Are you celebrating the 50th anniversary in any particular way? Do you have a favorite Star Trek memory or episode? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond today. Q’pla!

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50 years calls for dancing Picard! 

Reading in the Woods

As you all know, I was able to sell a second short story entitled Kitsune Tea,” using my pseudonym, E.A. Lawrence and it was published in the anthology ROAR 7 edited by Mary E. Lowd.

Prior to going on my recent camping trip, I finally got my paperback copy in the mail. It was a delicious feeling to hold the book in my hands, drink in that new book smell, and caress the pages that held my imagination. Let me tell you, that is the best paper I have ever felt in my life. This whole selling-my-fiction-for-money thing is a dream that I’ve been actively pursuing since I was nine and getting to see my work in a BOOK is a dream come true.  I feel triumphant and energized and hopeful that my story will make people smile. Optimism about this being but one step in my literary journey with more to follow in the not-too-distant future is also revving me up.

Since I got the book in the mail before my trip, I figured that I would bring it along. Why not? Paperbacks are tough and what better place to read a story set in the woods than actually sitting in the woods? I guess that I’m a little method but who cares.

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Campsite by E.A. Schneider

We got to the state park in the upper midwest and set up camp in a nice clearing. Like most state parks there was a picnic table set on more or less level ground and a fire ring. The site was surrounded with a nice mix of hardwood deciduous trees with a full, bushy understory and a wet spot/creek bed running through the area. It was lovely.

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Butterfly feeding by E.A. Schneider

My friend and I did our hiking and came back to camp later than we planned to cook dinner but, no big deal, right? Well…we weren’t alone. Remember all those lovely big trees with a moist bushy understory surrounding our site? At dark  we quickly realized that there was a meso-predator who called the site home and he wanted something besides the numerous cricket frogs in the moist spots to eat. A raccoon wanted in on dinner and was  quite bold about saying so. It was clear that people had fed him. This raccoon approached the picnic table even though we were there and started chewing on the tied up garbage bag before my friend shooed him off.

As we sat at the picnic table eating our campfire food (delicious baked stuffed onions and cakes in oranges), the raccoon kept creeping up. I have no doubt that if we had been less antagonistic in waving our lanterns at him, that he would have felt comfortable sitting at the table and helped himself from our plates. Being us, we disapprove of such shenangins, wildlife should be wild thank-you-very-much, and were careful to clear everything edible up and away in the car for the night. I rather thought that, without anything in sight anymore, that the raccoon would put his energies toward other foraging and leave us to ourselves.

We pulled our camp chairs to the fire and settled in to relax. I had a cup of tea, my lantern, and my book. I even took a picture of the first page of my story for posterity because why not. There were stars gleaming above between the tree-tops, more stars densely packed in that one clearing of sky than you can easily see from my whole backyard, and it was a lovely quiet night.

 

Then my friend saw the raccoon, driven by curiosity to explore our picnic table. He trundled off after we snapped some pictures. The pictures were not terribly good but it had been worth a try. Again, I figured that he would move on and went back to reading my story.

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Raccoon on the table by E.A. Schneider

As I read my story, getting drawn into the suspense and keen to see that the copy was clean, I was startled by that elemental pricking at the back of the neck one reads about in books occurring on my own neck. I heard paws treading into camp. The raccoon was back again to verify the absence of goodies. This time I snapped a decent picture of the interloper, he scampered off, and that’s it, right? Nope.

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Yeah…I’ve been having fun with the Make It Stranger font generator. I love the show “Stranger Things,” and the font definitely captures the suspenseful feelings of the night with some humor.

Again, I was roused from concentrating on my own story, during a chase scene no less, by the shuffling paw steps of the raccoon coming toward our fire from the other wooded side of camp than the picnic table. I could hear the raccoon’s paws moving through the underbrush and leaf litter. I don’t know if he was that loud, it was that quiet, or my hearing is that much keener than I thought. I couldn’t see him, my eyes were dazzled from the whiteness of my page, which only added to the primal anxiety aroused by the situation. My friend and I both jumped, startled from our separate pursuits by the raccoon’s intrusion. Why would he come back? We had no food left out, we were just sitting there. This was incredible. In all my time in the woods over the years I had never before felt the scrutiny of an interested predator, albeit a small one, in my movements, environment, and objects. Feeling encircled and studied by a wild animal bent on exploring our space and stealing our food definitely added an extra dimension to reading my story.  All the suspenseful bits of “Kitsune Tea” had an extra edge to them than there would have been if I had elected to read the story in an armchair at home.

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My favorite picture of the raccoon by E.A. Schneider

I was able to finish reading my story without further interruption by the raccoon and I was happy. “Kitsune Tea”  was as I remembered with a clean copy having nary a typo in sight. I was both pleased and impressed. Going to sleep that night was tough. For one thing I was still excited by the day and having read my story in a book. For another, the night was teeming with sounds from owls, crickets, cricket frogs, cicadas, the murmur of other campers at other campsites, and other unknown rustlings in the woods.

I also kept thinking about the raccoon. How many calories did he get from campers? How did he choose which campers to pursue and which to avoid? From a raccoon perspective, the site was perfect habitat with those trees, water, and frogs so the human element might just be the cherry on top rather than the main draw. It was fun to ponder. I have always been fond of urban wildlife and the ways in which they thrive. A raccoon living in a well attended state park might not be exactly urban but he certainly knew the perks of the human herd. I don’t know if there is a sequel to “Kitsune Tea” in my brain yet or not but, after my experience with that bold little raccoon, I think there very well might be another adventure set in my imagined Maintou State Forest in the not too distant future. We’ll see.

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Trees in the dark by E.A. Schneider                                                                                                                I freely admit that this is not a good picture but I like the different tones of green and I like remembering just how densely packed with stars that little spot of blackness was.

All in all, I have to recommend reading in the woods generally and particularly reading my “Kitsune Tea” in the woods if at all possible. It was fun. I hope that my encounter with a raccoon made you smile, dear pond readers. Do you have a raccoon anecdote? Do you  have a comment or question? Please, leave a comment below and thanks for stopping by the pond today, dear readers.

 

 

P.S.: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you buy this lovely ROAR 7 anthology published by Furplanet publications through this amazon link: ROAR Volume 7, I will get a small advertising fee. I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Tribbles and Troubles

That’s right, dear pond readers, I’m going to write about the cutest Star Trek alien ever: TRIBBLES!

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Kirk covered in Tribbles. Image found in a Google Image Search.

For some background, tribbles were introduced in the 15th episode of Star Trek: the Original series in season two’s episode “The Trouble with Tribbles.” They have no face, make adorable purring noises, make people inexplicably happy, and are practically born pregnant. Everybody loves tribbles except Klingons and they prove instrumental to resolving the conflict in the episode. Tribbles are a perfect invasive species with the capacity to cause major environmental devastation across the galaxy, even if they are addictively cute. Naturally, the Klingon Empire undertook to destroy them from the face of the universe in the name of conservation. Being Klingon, they succeeded. The story of tribbles was continued in the Deep Space Nine season five episode six adventure titled “Trials and Tribble-ations.” The episode was a love letter to ST:TOS and the franchise as a whole while prominently featuring the popular alien pets. I think these two episodes are two of the most accessible stand-alone Star Trek adventures that capture some of the fun of this imagined future, its bureaucracy, and politics with some good comedy.

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Quark covered in tribbles. Image found using a Google image search.

Ever since my first Star Trek convention when I was a kid in elementary school, I have cherished my tribble. I remember deliberating the exact tribble I wanted, debating the merits of fur color and fur length to what was no doubt an irritating extent to my long-suffering father and elder brother, before finally settling on a long-haired chocolate brown tribble. I distinctly remember combing its fur with my Barbie/my Little Pony combs and cradling it through numerous viewings of various Star Trek shows and VHS movie rentals. To this day, it still has its original tags and sits in a place of honor above my writing desk. As far as I know, they only sell officially licensed tribbles at ThinkGeek.com but they aren’t in stock and appear to be in only one color, so my tribble feels a little extra special.

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My tribble on its shelf over my desk by E.A. Schneider

When I undertook to plan a nerdy, board game themed fundraiser this Summer for my walk MS team, Nerds for a Cure, I tried to think of something I could offer as a donation incentive that would be nerdy, recognizable, and easy-to-make. I remembered that I had found this pattern on Craftster.com and thought: I could make tribbles, by jove. Huzzah!

I have to say that, even without quadrotriticale, the tribbles just seemed to multiply. I’m kind of a compulsive person in a lot of ways but I still blame the tribbles: they are just so darn easy to make. Even with the chronic pain in my hands (thanks, Multiple Sclerosis! You suck!), I was still able to make tribbles with relative ease. There is also something immensely satisfying about having a giant tote bag stuffed full of tribbles next to your sewing basket. In the end, I made 30 in four different colors and used up a giant bag of poly fiberfil. At the fundraiser, I’m pleased to say that the giant bin of tribbles did draw several people through the door and they donated specifically to get a tribble. I was extra thrilled to place tribbles in their generous hands.

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Our info table at the Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser. Notice, the giant pile of tribbles in the purple bin with Kirk’s face. Also, the basket of bookmarks.

That said, even though the fundraiser went really well, particularly for a first attempt, I still have a lot of homeless tribbles sitting in my house. While I could be smart and save them for next year’s Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser, I think that I should try to find them homes and I do have fundraising yet to do with only about four weeks left until my walk event. Our fundraising goal is $5500 but right now we’ve only raised $3,851 and I’m not sure we’re going to make our goal.

So what do you say, pond readers? Do you want to donate to save my brain from the horror of multiple sclerosis AND get an adorable tribble friend to keep you company? Now is your chance. If you donate $12 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE! in the  personal note field, I will mail you a handmade plush tribble while supplies last.

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All the tribbles waiting for new homes by E.A. Schneider

Moreover, if you donate $15 to my personal fundraising for Walk MS Waukesha and put TRIBBLE+! in the personal note field, I will throw in three homemade bookmarks from our Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event for you to enjoy with your tribble.

If you want to support my fundraising but don’t want to risk bringing even a plushie tribble into your home (or you just don’t want a tribble), you can donate $5 to my fundraising and put BOOKMARKS! in the personal note field and I will mail you three homemade bookmarks. The bookmarks were made by the talented ladies at the Drunken Library. You might remember the Drunken Library from when my nerd friend, the talented Amber Graham, joined me for a day of Star Trek watching. While I can’t include pictures of every single bookmark (they made 120+), you can see a lot of the designs in the picture below and you can watch their videos about making the bookmarks on their Youtube channel. The square bookmarks fit over the corner of a page and are hard to lose. The rectangle bookmarks are just pretty rectangles.

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Handmade bookmarks courtesy of the Drunken Library

Everyone who donates at any level will get a special Nerds for a Cure MS Fundraiser event pin as a thank you in addition to the tribbles and bookmarks while supplies last. The pins are all 1″ in size.

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Fundraiser event pins!

Finally,  you must put the specified text in the personal note field to be considered for this offer. Without the text in the personal note field, I will just assume you’re a super nice, generous person who doesn’t want any thank-you item and you will only receive a pin with your thank-you note. I have to say, it would be pretty amazing if I ran out of tribbles and bookmarks because all of you in Internet-land decided to donate a little bit to my fundraising.

Here’s a nutshell description of why I’m asking you to care: multiple sclerosis is a super sucky insidious, invisible disease that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. I’m not special, a lot of people are struggling with multiple sclerosis. I bet you know somebody in your life besides me who has been touched by this disease, but, I figure if you’re reading this blog, that you care a little bit about its author being able to continue writing it for your perusal. The National MS Society is doing a lot to fund research that will hopefully not only get us closer to a cure but also improve quality of life for people and their families in the meantime. The organization really makes a difference to those of us living with this disease and I hope that you will help me help them help everyone. You can always help by sharing this blog post and my team links on social media even if you can’t donate for whatever reason.

Thanks for reading my reflections on tribbles and my request for fundraising help. I really appreciate all my readers taking the time to keep reading Technicolorlilypond. You help me persevere. Please, leave a comment below with any questions or comments. Thanks for looking at my pictures, considering my request, and for stopping by the pond, dear readers!

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Muskrat by the Fox river by E.A. Schneider. This muskrat may not be a tribble but he is certainly an adorable little furry creature.

Make it Sew: Nerdy edition

Make it Sew: Nerdy edition

Hello, dear pond readers! I have managed to be a crafty pond dweller between this winter, spring, and summer. Here is the first installment of my adventures in sewing from the last few months and they are all kinda nerdy.

Two of my friends moved into new homes so I made them towels.  Specifically, I made them towels that involved math fabric because they are both engineers and, me being me, I actually had math fabric in my stash. The fabrics are a mix of Moda and Tula Pink. I got a little fancy/experimental with the stitches on the ribbons and I have to say I’m pleased with the result.

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Finally, some geeky friends of mine are having a baby. Naturally, this is a chance to make adorable, nerdy things for a small human. These friends are big Star Trek: The Next Generation fans, one of whom has an especial fondness for Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Being one of the probably few people who happened to have both the fabric on hand and the skillset to make something ST:TNG that prominently features the Crushers, this was my time to shine.

I used Star Trek:The Next Generation fabric from Camelot Cottons (Star Trek The Next Generation Badges White Fabric By The Yard) to make the baby bibs. The bibs are backed with white microplush fabric that is both super soft and super absorbent. I used velcro as the closures because snaps are the devil and I dislike them. Because this geeky couple is very Earth conscious and does not need more tissue paper, I made them a reusable drawstring bag with space fabric as the gift wrap. Finally, I included a tribble because every baby needs a tribble to keep it company in the crib.

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I really like the fabric in the collection. I think the likenesses of the characters is fantastic and only slightly creepy. I particularly like Wesley’s brooding seriousness juxtaposed with Dr. Crusher’s (Gates McFadden) megawatt smile. I confess that I made a couple of Star Trek bibs to set aside in case I get my own little bag-of-mostly-water to raise one day. I anticipate that looking at the crew of the USS Enterprise-D whilst trying to dock the strained peas in the baby space station will be fun.

I hope you enjoy the pictures! Please, share any comments, questions, or Trekkie nerdery in the comments and thanks for stopping by the pond today. Live long and prosper!

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The whole set!

P.S.: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. If you buy this lovely: Star Trek The Next Generation Badges White Fabric By The Yard  

 I will get a small advertising fee.  Even if you don’t pick one up here, I hope that it helps you. If you do pick it up through my link, thank you very much; I hope that these fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!