Aug 22, 2014

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Marshmallow Creme Recipe & S'mores cake

For my birthday, I made my own cake. I wasn't going to, but then I saw an old double chocolate mix that we had and figured I would. I have been craving S'mores like nobody's bidness. So when I saw the chocolate cake mix I thought . . . well, why not make a S'mores cake! Mmm . . . right?

Well, I didn't have marshmallow creme and I thought the only way to make homemade marsh creme was by using cream of tarter. That was the only recipe I continued to come across. Then I found the one I'm going to write below. I altered it (as usual) and added more powdered sugar because I wanted a thicker creme. I'm not sure if the recipe that uses cream of tarter will make a stiffer creme since I have never made that version. If you have, let me know.

Either way, here is a picture of my cake, and then the recipe for the creme is below. You can see the yummy goodness that happens when it's hot in the kitchen.

The way that I made my cake was with a Double Chocolate cake mix, two 9" pans. Can't remember the brand. It was a dark chocolate with small chocolate chips. Since the mix had been sitting on the shelf so long, the chips weren't really hard.

I sprinkled graham cracker crumbs on the plate, added one layer of the cake, then covered with some marshmallow creme (don't do in a hot kitchen, that's all I'm sayin' lol). I added a sprinkle of graham crackers again, then another cake layer, and followed same process to finish. I think next time I may add a layer of cut bananas in the center layer as well. AND I will make a graham cracker crust inside the pans before I cook, then pour in the cake mix and cook after. Sprinkling the crumbled graham crackers didn't give it enough "graham cracker to chocolate cake ratio" for my tastes.

Marshmallow Creme Recipe
(I doubled the recipe and it gave me two jars, but this recipe alone is great for one cake)

1 egg white, room temperature
3/4 light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 c powdered sugar (down to 3/4 if you like a more liquidy creme)
2 1/4 tsp vanilla

Yield: 2 cups or so

Beat egg white, syrup, and salt until thick and doubled. I went about 5 minutes on HIGH with the handheld. Incorporate the rest on LOW. I mixed a long time at high afterward to keep it getting thicker.

In fridge this will last covered for about 2 weeks, and freezer, 1 month.

Also great for peanut butter and marshmallow creme sandwiches, which has become a favorite for me.

If you've tried anything like this, let me know. I'd love to know your recipe. Have you made homemade marshmallow creme with the cream of tarter? Is it stiff?

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Aug 21, 2014


Who Is C. Christian Andersen?

This question has been asked by many.  My story is long, but it has been an amazing journey.

I was raised on the Old West, spending much of my childhood in places that still depicted a sense of what it was like, and what it is still like in these small farm villages of the Comstock areas of Nevada and California.  I had horses as a child and delivered my first foal by the time I was two.  Horses were my passion and they still are today.  I am involved with the "Let 'em Run Foundation" which was co-founded by my close friend Lacy J. Dalton to preserve our Wild Horse population for future generations to enjoy.
Every year thousands of wild horses are rounded up and sent to slaughter houses.
Wild Horse taken on Toll Rd. on the way to Virginia City, NV
I was less than 5 ft away when I took this photo.
I grew up here, but I haven't always lived here.  My Uncle was a high ranking official in the government, so I spent a lot of time traveling for visits.  I also spent a lot of time around movie sets.  I used to think I wanted to be an Actor, but I've learned that I prefer to be behind the scenes in Production.  My life is a song, so I spend a lot of time hanging out with the Musicians I love.  I love to laugh, so I surround myself with Comedians who make me happy.  I love to read, because it introduces me to the mind of another like me.  I love to write, because it helps me to find myself.

Tag along as I take you on a tour of this life that was granted by a Higher Power, and I will take you to places yet to be imagined.  Welcome to my world.

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Aug 20, 2014

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Ariana's Cafe - Prompt 8 - August 20, 2014

Find us on Twitter @ArianasCafe
I am @arianahbrowning

What is Ariana's Cafe?
Simply put: a place for the creative thinker.

How do I use the prompt?
However you like. Use it as inspiration for a discussion, use it to challenge yourself to blog on the prompt as a subject. Use it to help you with a scene that you're struggling with. Use it as inspiration for a piece of artwork.

Bottom line: use your creative mind to come up with something amazing from this prompt.

Are there any rules?

No captcha. If you want to have comment approval, leave a note near the comments area. Too many people have been losing comments, and if their comment disappears, they should know that it didn't go into never land.

No private blogs. If you share, make sure your blog is public. (You can always use my forum to blog publicly for a post, then share that link here.)

No Grammar Police. A lot of the people who join in are not professional writers. They enjoy writing to share their thoughts. Yes, we all appreciate someone who takes the time to spellcheck and grammar check, but not everyone knows proper grammar. We support with these blogs. Don't critique unless it's asked for.

Share whatever you come up with below in the comments. If it's a blog post, share the link (always write some sort of description on the link so people will know you are not just a spammer). If it's a short story you want to share, again, share the link to it. If it's just a thought you had from the prompt, or maybe a scene that it helped you with, share that too. You do not have to share more than you want to, but even if you gained something from this prompt, I would love to hear it so I know they are of value, and which ones are valued most.

You're welcome to tag me on any social network if you share there. :)

Here is the prompt for this week! See you next week.

Ariana's Cafe

Prompt 8 - August 20, 2014
@arianascafe | @arianahbrowning

I promise . . .

What does this mean? Only you can decide.

Here are some questions if you need help, or mix and match.

Writers: What was the promise made? Which character made the promise? Why is this promise important to the story?

Bloggers: What do you think of the term “I promise”?

Weekly question: Have you ever been promised something that was never delivered? How did that make you feel? What did you learn from it?

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Aug 17, 2014

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Washing the Laundry Pile of Life

I have a question for you. Do You Believe in Yourself?

"We cannot rise higher than our thought of ourselves."
-- Orison Swett Marden

What do you believe ABOUT yourself? If you are experiencing a lack of something in your life, chances are that you hold a belief in your subconscious that says you aren't worthy of having that quality. Write in your journal the answer to these questions for yourself:
 Where are you not good enough, not worthy enough?
 How willing are you to receive?  
--The Daily Guru

"We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit."
-- E.E. Cummings

Now, from the mind of Shine: 
At times I am sometimes a negative person dealing with a lot of negativity in my life and my thoughts. But despite the negativity, there are occasional brief spurts of positive thoughts, wants, and beliefs that come into my clouded mind like a ray of hope--or intent--shining through the settling smoke of emotional defeat. Many say, regarding defeat, that you are defeated only when you accept defeat, or when you are unwilling to rise above it to fight harder. Within myself, while one part of me felt defeated and wanted to surrender, there is another part of me that really wants to rise above it all and seek those things which mean much to me.

Yes, while one side of me is too tired, drained, and unconfident/insecure to try to wash the dirty laundry pile of my life, and would prefer to raise the white flag of surrender...the other side, though weaker in comparison, doesn't want to raise that white flag due to how dirty it is; dirty from being among the dirty laundry pile of my life that I've been too tired and weak to wash. Maybe that's my poetic justification for not giving up completely. There is a side of me that feels, ironically, that I can't surrender with a dirty white (dingy gray, actually) flag of surrender, not until I can at least wash the linens to produce a clean flag of surrender...

...because, perhaps subconsciously I know, once I have finally managed to wash that laundry pile and white surrender flag, there will be the victory of a clean laundry pile which would negate any reasoning for surrendering at all.

Does that mean that I've already won, by refusing to raise the dirty white flag? Perhaps yes from a certain perspective, but it’s no, not yet at least. There is still the chance that I would raise the dirty flag regardless. But there is still the chance as well, that I might find enough laundry detergent to wash the entire pile...and a book of matches to burn the flag to ashes.

I need to take the problems analogous to that dirty laundry pile and Shout it out, seek a Fresh Start, find the Method to Surf the rough waters and turn the Tide, pound with my Arm & Hammer rather than Gentle Care and Wisk the obstacles away, Win the battle, Lift Off the weight of regrets, feel Joy and all-temperature-Cheer in All areas of my life, Bounce back from negativity and be a Dynamo of inspiration in a new Era of positive thought, live in a Good Home of satisfaction, Spray & Wash the stains of discontent, find the Oasis of comfort, Gain the Simple Pleasures everyone wants, and eventually, finally, find that special someone to Snuggle with. And despite life giving me lemons, a little bit of lemony scent wouldn't be so bad, would it?

At times people have said that I have a dirty mind. Hey, not everyone has clean sheets you know. 

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Aug 14, 2014

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The Fossil King

Today I post an extract from the first chapter of my new novel, THE FOSSIL KING, the follow-up to ANCESTOR. 

I’m not dead.
Although the observation is clinical, made with the kind of emotional detachment I used to reserve for patients, it also betrays an element of surprise. This isn’t how things should have panned out. I paid my dues. Settled my Karmic debt. At long last my spiritual balance sheet was in harmony. All things being equal, it should have been the perfect time to cash in my last cheque.
But I did not.
Was there some malevolent force that wanted to extend the rope of life, hoping to ensnare my soul this time? Or was it simply a conspiracy of chance; an apathetic universe too impotent to recognize a moment of poetic justice even when serendipity’s throbbing pelvis was thrust into its face?
I force a mental shrug. Oh fuck it then. I never believed in that destiny crap anyway. Better to analyze more practical matters. Like how the hell I ended up here.
Hmm. Just exactly where is here?
For one, it’s a dark space. So dark, I can’t discern any kind of detail. Not even my hand, which I’ve raised and moved in front of my face.  
My arm flops back to the ground. It appears I’m lying flat on my back. After lifting my head, I blink a few times, but the suffocating blackness remains fairly constant. So much for sight. Which still leaves me with four other senses, if I’m not mistaken. Okay, three if I discount taste, which seems pretty worthless in my current situation.
I sniff the air. There’s a dank, unpleasant smell - like I’m holed up in a musty cellar. I prick up my ears. Blup…blup...blup. A cellar with leaky pipes, judging from the constant dripping. But the surface beneath me is hard and lumpy. Sloped. Doesn’t feel like a floor. Doesn’t feel man-made.
Just where the hell am I?
Hmm. Time to dig around in my memory. See what pops up. Because I needed to have come from somewhere, right? Let’s see. What’s the last thing I remember? For that matter, what’s the first thing I remember, full stop?


I return to the present. In the distance, I hear more noises, akin to rushing water. Someone running a bath? I prick up my ears. No. Sounds too voluminous.
Suddenly a forceful breeze sweeps across my exposed flesh. The draft’s strength means I can’t possibly be within an enclosed space. Then why am I staring at what looks like a solid ceiling above me?
I extend my hands in expanding concentric circles to inspect the lumpy hard matter beneath me. Hmm. Feels like smooth round pebbles, polished by flowing water. I sit up.
The river.
I wasn’t transported that far after all.
By now my eyes have either accustomed to the darkness, or the level of light is slowly picking up. Another few minutes pass and I’m able to confirm. 
Dawn is breaking.
I scan my surrounds. It appears I’m lying on an upward-sloped, extended reach of the riverbank beneath a rocky overhang. Dark-green moss growing on the overhead rock face seems to explain the dank smell of earlier.
There’s no sign of my rescuers. The smoldering, charred remains of a fire within spitting distance suggests they haven’t left long ago.
A crunching sound rings out.
I turn my head. Five small silhouettes are rounding the bend. They seem to be carrying wood.
My mind races. Friend or foe? Instinct kicks in and I drop back onto the pebble bed, my eyes closed. When in doubt, play dead.
The crunching footsteps grow louder as the figures draw near. I can hear a high-pitched babble amongst them – I’m not sure if it’s language -  in bursts of sound I’ve never heard before. It sounds like mice on helium squeaking to each other.
The figures pass and advance higher up the slope. They don’t seem to pay me any attention. Perhaps they really do think I’m dead? After all, if my hibernation reflex kicked in, my heartbeat would’ve been imperceptible. Not to mention a body temperature akin to an icicle. Hmm. Then why drag me from the water, though? And what’s all the fucking firewood for if the cold of night has passed?
I inch open an eyelid. My head is tilted to the side and I can make out the lower portion of someone’s leg standing about two meters from me. But there’s something wrong with the picture. Seriously wrong. Because the leg is tiny. Teensy-weensy tiny. And even though my field of vision is vertically challenged, I can make out a kneecap. Which means the person can’t be more than about one meter tall. A child perhaps? Funny, I remember all five silhouettes being of equal height. And their movement didn’t seem…well, juvenile. There was none of the frantic energy or playful interplay I’d normally associate with children.
Dwarves perhaps? Hmm, they seem too properly proportioned for that. Pygmies? No, even they aren’t this small.
I close my eyes again. No need to jump to premature conclusions. Let’s see what they’re up to first. Maybe the early-morning fire is intended to warm me. Maybe they’re little Florence Nightingales taking pity on an unfortunate stranger.
Suddenly footsteps approach. After a moment of silence, small hands tug at my boots. What the hell? I can feel my one boot slowly slipping off and I’m not sure whether to resist. Maybe my benefactors want to massage my cold feet? How sweet. Then searing pain shoots up my leg as a sharp object is plunged into my flesh.
I cry out in pain and jerk upright. A small figure is hunched over the lower part of my body with a knife-like object in his hand that’s dripping blood.
My blood.
When the wee butcher notices me, he jumps backwards, the knife in his grasp jabbed forward. His four companions are farther away, stacking firewood. An assortment of leaves and roots placed on the ground adjacent look ominously like garnishes and spices, with the lack of a main food item glaring. Seemingly alarmed by my screams and the movement in their peripheral vision, they spin in our direction, wood falling from their grasp as they absorb the scene unfolding in front of them.
The creatures – I can think of no other word to describe them – are the oddest things I’ve ever seen in my life. They’re definitely humanoid, but too bizarre-looking to be classified as pure human. First off, they’re hairy. Like monkey-coat hairy. They also have broad faces, flat and wide noses, weak chins and disproportionately big mouths. Dark button eyes are set beneath protruding brow ridges. One of the creatures opens his mouth in a threatening snarl, revealing disturbingly sharp teeth.
I focus on the one nearest me. His initial shock has apparently faded as he inches back towards me, still brandishing the knife. Although they appear to be a different species, speaking in gibberish, his body language seems unequivocal.
Our food is trying to escape.  
I quickly push off the ground with my arms, trying to raise myself. Despite some lightheadedness, I gain a wobbly upright stance. Then, spreading my feet wide, I adopt a defensive Taekwondo posture. Hopefully all my years of training is finally going to pay off.
As the nearest creature approaches, I run through all the attacking moves I know. Since Taekwondo proponents believe the leg is the longest and most powerful limb in the martial artist’s arsenal, the discipline has become known for its high kicking, especially the dollyeo chagi or ‘roundhouse kick’. Although a difficult maneuver to pull off successfully, it packs a devastating blow if delivered correctly. Given my adversaries’ height and size, a low-flying version seems the most lethal option. 
When the little man steps within striking distance, I spring into action. After raising my knee and crouching down for an instant, I uncoil my frame and explode into a hip-thrusting, leg-swirling swipe. But my limb coordination is rusty and my foot misses its target by some distance. Losing my centre of gravity and balance, I topple over and tumble to the ground; an extended left arm cushioning my fall. Awkwardly braced, I leer at the creatures from a skew angle.
Probably sensing my vulnerability, the knife wielding ‘Ewok’ charges at me. This time I have no opportunity to contemplate my actions. Instinct and muscle memory seize control as I kick out with an adrenaline-focused mind.
The heel of my boot connects squarely with the assailant’s face. There’s a loud thud as he’s simultaneously poleaxed and catapulted backwards into space. He lands with a bone-crunching smack on the hard rock pebbles and erupts with a high-pitched scream of agony. Blood spurts from his crushed nose and streams down his face.
I jump to my feet and pivot towards his companions. They eye their incapacitated friend, then peer apprehensively back at me. For a moment, buoyed by my lucky blow, I’m tempted to invite further combat with a kung-fu finger wave. But I resist the temptation. Instead, I simply growl with all the ferocity I can muster and lunge in their direction.
The critters respond with shrieks of panic. They grab their injured comrade, help him to his feet, then scamper off with comically short, but surprisingly quick, running strides. I drop to my haunches, trying to catch my breath. Phew!
What a way to start your day.

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Aug 13, 2014

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Ariana's Cafe - Prompt 7 - August 13, 2014

Find us on Twitter @ArianasCafe
I am @arianahbrowning

What is Ariana's Cafe?
Simply put: a place for the creative thinker.

How do I use the prompt?
However you like. Use it as inspiration for a discussion, use it to challenge yourself to blog on the prompt as a subject. Use it to help you with a scene that you're struggling with. Use it as inspiration for a piece of artwork.

Bottom line: use your creative mind to come up with something amazing from this prompt.

Are there any rules?

No captcha. If you want to have comment approval, leave a note near the comments area. Too many people have been losing comments, and if their comment disappears, they should know that it didn't go into never land.
No private blogs. If you share, make sure your blog is public. (You can always use my forum to blog publicly for a post, then share that link here.)
No Grammar Police. A lot of the people who join in are not professional writers. They enjoy writing to share their thoughts. Yes, we all appreciate someone who takes the time to spellcheck and grammar check, but not everyone knows proper grammar. We support with these blogs. Don't critique unless it's asked for.

Share whatever you come up with below in the comments. If it's a blog post, share the link (always write some sort of description on the link so people will know you are not just a spammer). If it's a short story you want to share, again, share the link to it. If it's just a thought you had from the prompt, or maybe a scene that it helped you with, share that too. You do not have to share more than you want to, but even if you gained something from this prompt, I would love to hear it so I know they are of value, and which ones are valued most.

You're welcome to tag me on any social network if you share there. :)

Here is the prompt for this week! See you next week.

Ariana's Cafe

Prompt 7 - August 13, 2014
@arianascafe | @arianahbrowning

A Complete Stranger

What does this mean? Only you can decide.

Writers: Who is this stranger? Does your character know them? Why have they shown up? What do they want? How can they help (or hurt) your character?

Bloggers: What was the most interesting experience you have ever had chatting up a complete stranger?

Weekly question: What is your definition of a complete stranger?

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Aug 9, 2014


Fearing the DARK Waters


I am afraid.
I have always had a fear, a phobia if you will, ever since childhood, one I don’t imagine to ever outgrow. But this blog isn’t to be about fears, it is to be about overcoming them, or moving forward despite them.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important that fear." ~Ambrose Red Moon

The fear I am writing about now is my fear of dark waters. Whether it be the ocean, a lake or river, or even a  swimming pool at night. But what is it that I fear, specifically? Certainly not drowning, for I am a very good swimmer. No, it is a fear of the unknown, the inability to see under and around me in the water. It is the feeling of vulnerability and impending danger that gives me the strong jitters.

Dang it, Spielberg and Benchley, do you see what you’ve done to me?

Yes, Jaws, one of my favorite films today, horrified me when I was a eight year old kid, after begging my father to take me to see it at the drive-in. Not terrified, it horrified me. It was quite a long time before I ever went in the water again, but eventually I did.

Earlier than that, when I was five, or six (I’m not sure exactly), I had been staying at my cousin’s house in Margate, Florida for a week. They had an in ground pool, and all of the kids were jumping in, swimming around, and playing in the water; except me. Oh, I wanted to, but no amount of beckoning could compel me to go first. I started out in the shallow end, walking around, swimming, splashing, etc. But all the kids were playing in the deep end. That’s where the fun was; that was where I needed to be.

The next step was floating on a plastic raft, in the deep end. As long as I wasn’t in the water, with my feet dangling above the bottom, I was okay. Do not ask me to explain this, considering that the child of the same age in Jaws, Alex Kintner, was on a raft when he was savagely attacked, but for some reason I felt safer on the raft, so long as I wasn’t “in” the water per se, I was okay.

But “in” the water was where the fun was. That was where I needed to be. Several times I put the raft in the water at the edge of the pool and jumped onto it. As long as I was on the raft I felt safe; as long as I wasn’t in the water where the terror was. Each time I went to jump on the raft from the water’s edge, I began by pushing it a little further from the edge. A little further away, a little bit further now, a little more difficult the jump...but as long as I landed on the raft, I was safe.

It became apparent to my parents and relative who were watching me, that despite my fear of the deep water, I was intentionally trying to make myself miss the raft. A little bit further now, a little bit further...

And then it happened, I missed the raft. I landed in the water, half on the raft, half off, clasping onto its safety with my young arms; partially on the safe raft, but mostly in the water. Then I let go of the raft, of the safety.
*consume me now, deep terror, and spit me back out again*

I never feared the deep end again

But after Jaws, though I swam like a champ, though I had conquered the deep end, the dark waters retained their terror. Whether it be the ocean, a lake, or even a dark pool at night, the dark waters always make me uneasy. I am like Martin Brody, only his fear of the water was of drowning, while mine if only of the unknown in the darkness.

“Aren’t you a little old to be afraid?” -Kevin to the elderly man, in Home Alone.
“You can be a lot of things, but you’re never too old to be afraid.” -the elderly neighbor’s reply.

I love boats...and ships. I love them with a passion, I do, and I love being in them cruising on the ocean. Yes, I love being on the ocean, just not in it. Many a time in my life have I had the time of my life in a boat on the ocean. I even worked, and lived, on a cruise ship for six months when I was 23. I have lived on a small lake for 14 years. There is always a danger of alligators wandering about and winding up in in lakes, canals, and even swimming pools in south Florida, but there had only been one occasion of a gator being found in the lake behind my condo, and that was over ten years ago. Of course there can be no sharks in the lake (though bull sharks are known to be able to live in fresh water and have been discovered miles upstream in American rivers.), but that does nothing to eliminate my fear of the dark water and the unknown realm underneath.

The first time I rode a SeaDoo, a personal water craft, was on the lake behind my building. It belonged to my cousin, who at the time was my roommate, who later lived in his own condo in the same building. Holy catfish, Batman! Those things are fun! But being on the lake, so close to the dark water, brought the fear on pretty strong. That night I had nightmares, of being on the terrifying dark waters on the SeaDoo, as the water came closer and closer to me. It was not that I was sinking into the water; no, the water was rising up to get me.

I rose the SeaDoo again and again, and again the nightmares followed me into my dreams. The dark waters seemed to be pursuing me in my dreams, because I was ignoring my fear of them during the day as I rode. I was hard to overcome the fear, but somehow I did, because simply, riding was so much fun to do. After a few days, the nightmares gave up.

Soon I bought a Yamaha ProVXR personal water craft. The first time I wiped out on the lake and landed in the water, I frantically scrambled back to the mini-boat and frantically tried to get back on. But unlike the SeaDoo and most water craft, which has a large handle on the back of the seat for you to pull down on, in order to get your knee up on the back of the craft to climb back on, the ProVXR only has 2 tiny finger-holds which do not allow the leverage needed to pull the back down and get your knee up. I was unable to get back on, and effectively trapped in the scary dark waters until I could paddle back to shore. And a long, uncomfortable paddle ride it was, let me tell you. I was extremely careful not to wipe out on my ProVXR after that. Which wasn’t hard, of course, since the ProVXR is a slow, low to the water, low on top craft which doesn’t enable you to get any lift out of the water from the front of the craft, meaning that trick riding is not an easy task.

^ My old Pro VXR on my lake where I used to live, with a neighbor from my old building posing for me.

The following summer, my cousin and I went in together and bought a SeaDoo Bombardier XP. Now a ride on that is a wild ride indeed! It was heavy, fast (I got it up to 60 mph on a straight run!), and top heavy so you do all kinds of turns and spins and wave jumps and front-end lifts out of the water. I had a blast on the lake behind my condo that summer, fall, spring, and the next summer. High speed straight runs were not my main love with the personal water craft. Trick riding and wave jumping was. I often spent hours on the lake after work on and on the weekends, trick riding behind my building while neighbors sat at the pool and watched in awe. I did high speed turns, spins, wave jumps which required high speed figure-8’s to create the waves I needed

^ My old SeaDoo Bombardier XP, with a lady friend on it.

Then there were the slow speed tight turns, with the trim tilted down so that the front of the craft rode lower in the water, and with the tight-tight turn, the front end is pointing downward into the water and the water spills over the top of the control console and washes over you. Do you remember the nightmares I had had of the water rising up to get me? Now I was driving the front of the craft into the water and bringing the water onto me. Fun, fun, fun!

I used to wipe out a lot. When you go fast, perhaps faster than you should be for the maneuver you’re planning, and turn the craft suddenly, you have to lean with the craft and hold on tight because inertia tries very hard to continue pulling you in your original direction, away from the water craft which was then arcing quickly in another direction. I became quite good at it, but inertia occasionally won regardless, and separation from the craft, multiple flips through the air, and contact and immersion in the dark waters was inevitable. At the beginning I would  frantically swim back and climb back on as quickly as I could. Later, however, I settled for leisurely swimming back and climbing back on casually, and then to go back to the trick riding and wind up doing it all over again. One day I was sitting by the pool after a ride on the lake and talked with my neighbors who had been watching my fun and games. When I told them about my fear of the water, of my terror of being in the dark waters, nobody seemed to believe me. How could they, after watching me for so long subjecting myself to the repeated wipe-outs and trips into the water?

One day I met up with a friend who lived on another part of the lake, and we were riding together on our separate water craft, talking and telling stories. We stopped our craft and turned them off, and sat in the middle of the lake floating side by side, deep in conversation. I told him about my terror of the dark waters, of my fear of being in the lake itself; but then amid the heat of the day, I casually stood up and stepped off of my craft into the water to cool off. I treaded water for a bit, and then casually climbed back on my SeaDoo.
 “You’re terrified of the water?” he said. “You sure don’t show it.”
 What can I say? The terror is still there, but riding a SeaDoo was too damned much fun to let it overwhelm me anymore.

Two things I would love to do: Learn to scuba dive, and explore the undersea, the “land below the darkness”, where the terror may not be as prevalent being as I could see around me and not be blind to what was under me.

And even more thrilling would be to cage dive and meet Bruce up close and personal.

And who knows? Maybe even reach out and touch someone I’ve always feared while yet being amazingly fascinated by.

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Aug 8, 2014

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On . . . taking on the world

You go to bed exhausted and have no problem falling asleep. Only then to be woke an hour later. You’re exhausted and you want to do anything but get up. Your body pleads with you to go back to sleep. The warm covers beckon you, calling your name, but you can’t. You can’t ignore that sound. The one that says, “I need you.” You can’t go back to sleep.

So you get up. Because there is a little face there counting on you, begging you to get up. Feeling anxious and worried, they are miserable. Their stomach hurts and they hope that you can do something about it.

Crawling out of bed, you attempt the rolling out of bed so that you don’t wake the others. If, that is, there are others there. Then you waddle out to the hallway, tired, and attempting to fully wake up in the middle of the night so that you don’t fall asleep on your feet.

Once that one is taken care of, an hour after you fall back to sleep, and an hour after that last one, another is crying in your face. Once more you debate with yourself, but in reality, there is no debate. You will get up and you will take care of what needs to be done. Because there is no other choice.

Sacrificing sleep isn’t a question when they need us, is it? No

Hours later, the entire situation repeats. Then in the morning when you are making coffee, you are hoping against hope, that nothing more comes, but in an hour it will. Because you also have two little ones who need medication and tending to. The cycle doesn’t really end for you, now does it?

While you’re attempting to wake yourself up, that thought creeps in. The thought that haunts us all.

I can’t handle any more.

But it’s not true. You can handle anything that comes your way. Because you take one step at a time. You deal with one problem at a time. You fix it with baby steps, or half that size steps.

You can handle it.

When we get overwhelmed, it’s very easy to believe we can’t handle anything else. When we get tired, when we are exhausted beyond belief, we have those negative thoughts creep in. Give up, they tell us. Why bother, they ask.

You don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to have your hair out of place, the clothes on backward, to not have made the time for a shower today. Tomorrow will come. A day to start over.

If someone has a problem with the way you look, or anything about you.

That’s their problem, not yours.

You did your best. You are doing your best.

That’s a good thing.

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Aug 7, 2014


Young at Heart

“No matter what happens, always keep your childhood innocence. It's the most important thing.” 
 Federico Fellini

Why do kids always seem to be in such a hurry to grow up? When I think back to my own childhood, I look back with great fondness to a time when the biggest decision of my day was what outfit to put on Barbie and whether her and Ken should host a party at the Dream House, or perhaps take the Dream Vette out for a spin.

Oh…decisions DECISIONS!

Why in the WORLD would I …or any kid….have ever wanted to leave that kind of simple life behind us? Is it always wanting what we don’t have and the grass being greener on the grown up side? Is it seeing the adults around us being free to do things we wished we could, like going to cool places and doing fun things like driving, staying up late and eating as much ice cream and pizza as they want to?

(Okay….looking at it that way….maybe I can see why ditching Barbie and the Vette wasn’t such a bad idea!)

But little did we realize that with all of that freedom and power ALSO came responsibilities, like jobs, bills and diaper changes (hopefully not for ourselves…at least yet….) and “not-so-much-fun-afterall” stuff like gas prices, traffic jams, dieting and high cholesterol.

(Hey wait a second…..someone left that whole part out. No fair! Im telling!!!)

Being able to view the world through the innocent eyes of a child and having the ability to see only the good parts of life, while maintaining blissful ignorance to the other side that adults often wish didn’t know existed, is a gift we don’t often seem to appreciate until it’s gone. One of the hardest parts about growing up is often seeing for the first time what the world is REALLY like. And one of the saddest parts is forgetting how to play and losing our way down those paths we used to follow to the imaginary worlds we would visit so often and so easily as a child.

But I have some good news!  We DON’T have to grow up (all the way at least!) What they don’t tell us is there ARE ways for us to keep some of our childhood innocence, while living in an adult world. It's not always easy....but whoever said anything worth having in life was easy, anyway!

Let yourself have fun!  Don’t let your age define what makes you laugh and smile…..and always be able to laugh at yourself.

Tell a joke that makes you both groan and laugh at the same time.

Eat a cupcake for no other particular reason then a little taste of cake and icing makes us smile (and be sure it has some sprinkles on top, too)

In the Fall, take a roll in the leaves (but make sure a stray dog hasn’t used that leaf pile for it’s own purposes first! Awkward…and Ewwww!!)

Build a sandcastle (Moats and drawbridges are optional)

Remember how it felt to watch fireworks as a child and let yourself be just as amazed by them again. (It's not every night you get to see a colorful display of dazzling diamonds in the sky, now is it?)

Look up at the stars at night and make a wish EVERY time you see them.

Don’t try and figure out how magic tricks are done. Just enjoy the wonder and belief that magic exists. (And never stop believing that it does.)

Believe with all your heart that good things CAN happen to any of us, at any time…. for no other reason then just because they can.

…. And never forget to simply “believe”.

Wonder and amazement can be found in this world at any age, if you just keep your heart and mind open to seeing it.  Never forget that once you grow up, you can never grow down again….so don’t be in any rush to leave all of your childhood behind you. Life is a sadder and colder place without it.

I, for one, have no plans on fully growing up! (It sounds like such a dull and boring thing to do, now doesn’t it? ) When I was a kid, there was the TV commercial that said “I don’t want to grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R Us kid!”. You know something? That was a pretty good motto to follow! And I am proud to say that I still AM a Toys ‘R Us kid! Please join me on my visit to not just ANY Toys ‘R Us store….but one of the biggest and most AWESOME ones you will ever find, located right in the heart of Times Square in NYC! I’m not bragging here…..but just how often can you find thousands of toys and games, a full size ferris wheel (INSIDE no less) and a lifesize DINOSAUR straight from Jurassic Park in one place??? (Not very often, Im guessing!) Hope you enjoy visiting as much as I did.

Until next time everyone! Ta ta and toodles!

~Tracie Dee~

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