Monthly Archives: May 2013

I didn’t mean to lie

I really was intending that to be my last post for a while, but the in light of the news I got from the doctor today, I felt that I owed it to my blog-friends to pass on some good news. Whether you have been praying or sending good thoughts, thank you.

The tumor has shrunk so significantly that they were unable to do a biopsy on it today. It is less than a quarter of its original size and did not show up on an ultrasound. My doctor and nurses were so happy that some of them cried a little.

I am grateful to God for His mercy, for my physicians, and for the progress of medical science!

For now, treatment will continue as it is. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are still in my immediate future, but this is a great triumph, and I wanted to share it with all of you and thank you, again, for your thoughts and prayers.

Love and blessings!

Ok, my break starts now, for reals.


Ballooning Part 2

It has certainly taken me long enough to post this. It has been months since my successful flight in a hot air balloon, but I have been dragging my feet in sorting through the pictures. Anyway, I wanted to give you guys some beautiful shots before I take an internet break (for those of you who talk to me through e-mail, I will still check it. I just may be slow in replying).

Every time I say I am going to take a hiatus, people seem to worry, so in advance, let me assure you that everything is fine. The coming month is going to be a busy one, and I need time to read, write, and do odds and ends around the house and with my family. I will probably be gone a month, maybe two.

When I come back, I promise to post pictures of more masks including the ones I am currently working on.

On to ballooning!

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

For those who missed out on the first failed ballooning attempt, there are details here. We had one more failed attempt (making, I think, three for my dear friend) but finally, luck was with us! The basket was very large, made to hold at least eight normal-sized people.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Here is the balloon which was called, if I remember rightly, Spirit of Africa. The first stage of inflation is done with a fan.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Once the fan has blown up the balloon enough to where the flames won’t burn it, the spurting fire thing is used.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

I found the colors quite beautiful.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

My fear of heights made takeoff a bit nerve-wracking. There was someone on board with a worse fear of heights than I have, though, and that helped calm me down.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Once I was over how high we were, I found the flight soothing and I enjoyed the patterns I began to see below. Balloon flight is very smooth.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

This is some of the countryside relatively near where I live. There are some farms left, though not many, some large estates owned by people whose wealth is beyond my comprehension, some forest, and encroaching subdivisions.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

On the whole, it is pretty, though it makes me a little sad to see how it is changing.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

One of the real farms! Those red-ant things are cattle. We flew over horses and deer (who really did not like the roar of the balloon’s blowtorch thingy) and a blue heron in flight, but my shots of them did not come out well.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Looking up into the balloon!

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

And my best shot of that lovely flame. It is loud, and close, but really beautiful. I would not recommend a balloon flight in hot weather, though. It was cold when we flew, and that was the only reason I could bear the heat above me.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

We had some beautiful clouds that day.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Every time we went over water, we saw the balloon’s reflection.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Even with the blur, I find this shot lovely.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Sycamores are as dramatic from above as below.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

I think the trees below look almost like moss and lichen. Beautiful.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Even the horrible subdivisions with their monster houses and boring yards look nice from this height. Great patterns. Notice the interrupted sidewalk.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

The skyline, of course, was gorgeous. All those tree-covered hills fading in the distance to meet the sky, and echoed from above by the clouds.

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

Mmmmm

Photo by Jubilare

Photo by Jubilare

And so, in failing light, we landed. We landed in enemy territory (people who are hostile to balloons) out of necessity, but fortunately no one was home. The team and our pilot broke down the balloon quickly, and we called it a night.

I am very glad my friend gave me the opportunity to do this. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Farewell for now. I’ll be back soon.


Phoenix

Be-kind-rewrite’s Inspiration Monday nudged my muse in a terribly melodramatic way. Apologies in advance for the levels of angst, but the prompt was “can’t stop crying” so it was bound to be either angsty or filled with onions.

In the Center is a thing that weeps. In the darkness surrounding her now, her feathers and her tears are light. Her children return when their fires burn out. It’s over their corpses she weeps, folding them beneath her wings like eggs.
And there, against the mother flame, their life returns only for them to leave again; flying off into the void, bringing heat and light, but leaving her in the Center with her tears.
We have light and life because she can’t stop crying. Yet I have to wonder if one day we will learn the meaning of life without pain.
.

Geographic Confessions

I am not a cartographer.

In high school, my geography teacher did well by her students. I know that there are seven continents (if you include Antarctica, which I do), I have a general idea where most countries, seas and oceans are, as well as the locations of many land-features such as the Alps and the Mohave desert. Our final assignment in geography was to create a relatively detailed and accurate map of the world with certain features labeled from memory.  It was very hard, but rewarding.

You are probably wondering where I am headed with this ramble. As with most things I ramble about, it connects to writing.

Most people who read fantasy are familiar with the attendant maps. Some  even read while referencing the maps to see where they are. A friend recently confronted me with the lack of… I don’t know a word for it. Directionality? He did not have a good idea of the layout of the story’s geography, and it bothered him.

It has been bothering me for a while, too. I have a general idea of the area and the world, but I need more. Like a student in a life-drawing class, I need to understand the skeleton of my subject before I can draw it convincingly.

I need maps.

I need maps that only I can make, and I am not a cartographer. I have been putting it off because I am afraid of backing myself into a corner, making a map that is somehow “wrong.”  What if it is, unconsciously, too like Earth? What if it is too off the wall and ceases to make sense? What if the rain-shadows aren’t where they are supposed to be (yes, I think about things like that)?

But the truth is that I need the framework. The better I know the territory, the world, the more convincingly I can write the characters’ interactions with it. Flopping about in vague mush isn’t going to get me anywhere. Is the story in the Northern or Southern hemisphere (getting my head around Southern-hemisphere mechanics is daunting, but tempting), how many continents are there? What influences the weather-patterns? Where are the trade-routes?

What is an author to do?

In looking for a starting place, I came upon this blog:

http://www.fantasymapmaker.com/free-fantasy-maps/

This lets me know that others have already blazed this trail. There are already tools, such as Campaign Cartographer 3 by ProFantasy. Personally, I really like playing with this free fractal map generator: http://donjon.bin.sh/world/

There are resources for cities and dungeons, too.

But it seems to me that these are only places to start, and most likely other writers out there have discovered other useful resources. And so, I give a shout-out.

If you know any good resources for creating maps of other worlds, let me know in the comments. I will do a follow-up post including them. If you, like me, are intimidated by this problem, at least we can commiserate and then encourage each other. If, on the other hand, you are an amateur (or professional) cartographer, I would love to get your input!


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