Friday, December 30, 2022

Friday Five - Best of 2022

2022 was a big year for me. Here are five things I changed that made my life better. Fueled by the constant threat of death and disability that the pandemic instilled in me, I had to act before it was too late. I felt a sense of doom that my life was being wasted, that I was merely existing in a stagnant pool. I envisioned living in my van if it got me back to feeling. 

1. Planning - I decided to make the following changes without knowing how I would accomplish them and without any guarantees. After YEARS of thinking about what I would change, I realized I'd get there. I used the SMART method to set my goals. Lots of deep breaths and forcing down fear were involved. 

2. Finances - I took an honest look at my money situation and realized I was getting poorer as time passed. I made a budget, cut out what I could live without, and finally faced my fear of money. We never discussed money growing up, it was in poor taste to do so, and a particular shame was attached to it.

3. House - Related to #2. I took advantage of the market in the spring. I had felt a duty to keep it, but it was too big, too expensive, and going to waste in our ownership. Selling it was like cutting an anchor loose.

4. Work - Because of #2 and #3, I could retire. I thought for sure I'd work for someone else until the day I died because of all of my perceived obligations. Only slackers don't have jobs. lol

5. Family - I lived in New Jersey for 55 years. Now, I live in Florida with my daughter and her family. I couldn't have made any of these changes without her. I always said she saved my life when I had her, and now she's done it more than once.

These are just the Big Picture Changes. There were so many smaller ones along the way this year, and some big ones I left off the list. I don't usually do a year-end review, so that's different, too. 

2023 here we come.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Friday Five - Savor the Short Day and Delight in the Long Dark


1. Red glass hearts, poinsettias, holly berries, candy canes, apples, Merlot, ribbons, Rudolph's nose.

2. Rebel against the busy: relax, rest, recline, slow down, and take it easy. Snuggle under a comforter, and doze at noon.

3. Read a real newspaper all morning or a beautiful magazine full of romantic ideas like bella GRACE, or disappear into The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer

4. Remember days gone by: happy moments that make you smile, sad times that bring on the tears. Both will refresh your emotional well.

5. Rejoice that you survived another year. Light a fire or a bunch of candles, fill a mug with hot chocolate, sip slowly and watch the dancing flames. 

What are five ways you will enjoy the extra darkness?

Friday, December 16, 2022

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is on December 21 this year. This date marks the shortest daylight moment, the longest night's dark, and the official start of winter.

Revena and the people of the Duchy of Bavaria celebrated The Night of the Mothers and Geol (Yule.) 

The Night of the Mothers is on the eve of the winter solstice and honors the triple female deity. While in Roman and Greek pantheons, the Sun is masculine, in ancient Germanic and earlier Europen Celtic traditions, she is referred to as The Mother Sun. In the Bavarian Alpine regions, she is embodied as the Percht, "the bright one" and predates the Krampus.

Yule has a long and documented history in Europe. It has informed many religious traditions such as Nordic folklore (Yule is one of Odin's names) and the Christmas customs we follow today.

We can participate in centuries-old rituals anywhere by sitting with the darkness and contemplating what it means in the cycle of our lives. Watch the setting sun, turn off the lights for an hour, or clean your fireplace. 

Use a smudge bundle you made last year to clean out any lingering bad feelings in your home.

Smudge bundles can be made with herbs found at most grocery stores. Use rosemary, sage, and bay leaves. Holly and evergreen sprigs enhance the magic. Tightly wrap your choices with green or red natural strings such as cotton or hemp. Hang them to dry until next year.

Inspire and encourage The Sun's return by watching the sunrise, lighting a new log you saved from last year, and setting as many candles as possible aglow.

If you are near a body of salt water, fill a bottle before sunrise and allow the new light to infuse your own personal holy water with its energy and magic. You can do the same with a clear or yellow crystal to carry a bit of the "bright one" with you in your pocket.

Foods for your feast can include roast pork, fruit competes, and ales, and if you are feeling particularly inclined to ancient traditions, include a blood wurst that harkens back to sacrifice. 

Don't forget to honor the trees. When I was young, we decorated our tree on Christmas Eve with candles, sparklers, and small wrapped chocolates. You can decorate any tree native to your area as all trees are sacred. Consider donating to a charity that plants trees.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Rabbit, Rabbit - VOTE!

VOTE! It does a body good.

Cainin and Hase want you to make your own luck 
in November by exercising your right to VOTE. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Boo Hoo - A Halloween Short Story

I stood in the rain and watched the water drops splash up from the ground through the arches of my feet. The light from the street lamp sparkled and refracted on liquid beads. I turned my face up to the weeping sky and felt nothing.
I was the only being out on the street tonight.
The wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube jack-o-lantern in my neighbor’s yard dodged and bobbed in the wind. The blowup ghost hissed and moaned. An umbrella, its bones turned inside out, tumbled down the avenue, skipping to the tune of spooky music blaring from static speakers.
The children in the only decorated house on the block pressed their runny noses against the living room window, sadness painting their faces instead of costume makeup. I waved to them. The brats ignored me.
Halloween in the time of covid. No Trick or Treating.
The weather wasn’t helping the festivities. If it weren’t for the freezing rain, the brats would be outside all night, hooting and hollering at the Blue Moon while their mother sat on the stoop sipping wine.
They usually kept me awake as their house was right across the street from my bedroom window. Being a crotchety old man, I grumbled about irresponsible parents and rowdy children with no business having fun while my ancient body ached.
I’d yell at them to get the fuck off my lawn, but they never came anywhere near me or my stuff. No one had any respect for old people nowadays. Even worse, they had no time.
My children and grandchildren lived hundreds of miles away and rarely called. I hadn’t seen them in years. Once their mother left me ten years ago, they felt no genuine compunction to contact me. I had few earthly possessions to tempt their attention, and mutual affection evaporated around the time of puberty. Mostly, I was ignored.
Just like now. I stood in the rain, staring at those damn kids staring at me, and they acted like they couldn’t even see me. I approached their fenced in yard. I wanted to pop all of their inflated decorations. Besides the orange tube guy and the trite white ghost, there was a black cat with demonic eyes, a dancing witch with neon pink hair and bright green skin, a hairy wart wiggling on her nose, and a skeleton that fell apart and reassembled to the tune of “Dem Bones.” Frankenstein’s monster had given up its Mortal coil. He lay shriveled on the ground like a spent water balloon.
I went through the front gate. It didn’t squeak. Disappointing. I glided around various homemade tombstones, quiet as a corpse rising from its crypt. I have to admit they were kind of clever:
I even chuckled at a few of them, but I would never admit to that, especially after nearly stepping in dog poop. You’d think they would clean up a bit before putting out the ornamentations. It seems they had better things to do. In my day, we cleaned and straightened up for days before a holiday so we’d be worthy of a celebration. It felt like getting a trophy just because you showed up.
I survived the canine waste obstacle course and hunkered down in the bushes under the window. I rose a little, my eyes and nose breaching the sill. I got a good view of childish chins lowered to immature chests in sorrow. You’d think someone had died. The floor behind them held an assortment of drug store costumes, plastic masks, and discarded candy wrappers.
Mom lay on the couch, an arm thrown over her eyes, an empty glass on the floor under her dangling fingers. Their German Sheppard, Fang, rested in the chaos, his ears twitching, shifting like a satellite dish on the lookout for alien signals, and his eyebrows danced like Groucho Marx.
The mutt jumped up and rushed to the window. He barked and lunged, scattering the children. Mom startled, sat up, and yelled at people and the animal. I ducked down and ran for the street. The front door opened, and Fang shot into the yard, followed by the mother and her brood.
I dove into the hedges next to my house and sat on the ground to catch my breath. I expected rapid breathing and a palpitating heart. I felt weirdly calm.
From my hidden perch, I watched the unwashed masses storm the road with weapons in the shape of brooms and shovels. One of the minions brandished a three-legged doll that was missing patches of blonde hair. The dog snarled as Mom held it by the collar. Her heels dug into the lawn’s dirt while his licked up tufts of soil and brown grass.
This was more excitement than an aging person needed. I always knew by sixty I will have had enough. The noise, the mess, the constant upkeep. Why bother?
I felt justified and satisfied with my decision even though I had made it jokingly in my twenties. I had no desires left. I bequeathed curiosity to the neighborhood Tom. I watched all of the Andy Griffiths and Gunsmoke reruns. I couldn’t hang out at my local bar anymore.
Thunder and lightning chased the little monsters across the street back into their den. The slam of the door snuffed out their shrieks. Mom must have pulled the plug since all of the blowup figures deflated, the lights went out, and the tin canned spirits exorcised their right to some rest. The night returned to the unnatural pandemic quiet.
I turned back to my home, reached the front stoop, and grabbed the door handle. It passed through my fingers. I pushed on the door. It didn’t move, but I ended up in my front room. There I sat in my recliner, slumped over, head lolling to the left, my favorite beer mug on the side table, my revolver on the floor under my lifeless fingers.


Monday, October 24, 2022

Writing Your Life Away


~ click image to make biggerer ~

I've been writing a personal journal in one form or another for as long as I can remember, from writing in the sand while yellow jackets buzzed around me at the age of four in North Carolina to this new hard-cover Mead Cambridge Limited notebook I started here in my new home in Florida.

I believe in writing by hand as therapy, relaxation, and meditation. 98.567% of the words are boring, redundant, or complete bullshit. Some documented trauma and joy, extreme emotions, and ugly thoughts. None of them contained words I'd want anyone to see.

By the time I moved from New Jersey in September, I still had forty or fifty filled journals weighing me down. I toyed with keeping them because my ramblings are just that valuable, but those suckers weighed a ton. So I burned them all. 

After recovering from the sheer exhaustion of lugging them downstairs and out into the backyard and then guarding them so that I wouldn't set the neighborhood on fire, the process felt good. The purgative felt like a line in the sand, clearly delineating the life I'd be leaving behind and my new adventure.

I don't want to save future diaries for my daughter to find (look up death cleaning.) These are uncensored: one of the few places where I don't go through all possible permutations for ramifications before disgorging what's in my brain. 

From now on, on the anniversary of my birth, I will review what I've written (maybe) and then use however many I completed in the previous year as fire fodder.

Suleika Jaouad wrote about The Journal Dilemma in which she shares some more thoughts on journals and what to do with them.

The pens in the picture above are Thorton's Novice disposable fountain pens which are very nice.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Author Attention - L. C. Bennett Stern


L. C. (Linda) Bennett Stern brings history to life 
by imagining what might have really happened to her relatives.

Bosses and Blackjacks tells the tale of her unknown 
grandfather and the Bloody 5th in Philadelphia 
at the start of the 20th century.
(Award-Winning Finalist in the "True Crime: Non-Fiction" category
 of the 2017 International Book Awards)

Mae's Revenge and Standing Ovation are books 1 and 2 of 
The Mari Mort Trilogy. Book 3 is in progress. 
These stories feature the older sister 
of her previously unknown grandfather.

Stern Words - website

L.C. Bennett Stern - facebook

Sunday, October 09, 2022

...and the old is new again.

Here is my new workspace with some of my favorite things. 

They were kept in the dark for years because things near and dear to my heart didn't often survive.

~click on the images to make them biggerer ~

Everything is ready to start on Chapter Ten of The Bastard's Battle.

The Eternal City, Peter Blume 1934 - 37 (My favorite painting.)

That's an actual portable typewriter up there. Made in 1958. Green. 
And it works because it has an actual non-dried-out ribbon in it.

"fuck off! i'm writing"

All ready for Monday morning.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Bring on the Candy Corn

 Rabbit, Rabbit

may October bring bounteous BOOns

~ click on the images to make them biggerer ~

Honey is a Hedge Witch.

Quincey is a Vampire Executioner.

We took a trip to the fantasy shop
to see what we could see for alternate identity options.

After slipping and sliding from one reality to another, 
I landed upon these seemingly unrelated options:

happy little Bob Ross

Chrome Marshmello

I posit that these are related: 
Bob Ross pitched MTV, 
Marshmello is a DJ, and 
The Joker whistled his own theme music in Mad Love.

If you have no choice in the matter, 
like Kali, you will be a pumpkin.

“It takes a strong man to be with a woman 
full of fire and stars and all of October.” – Melody Lee

I ate all the candy corn already.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Lucky Charms - not the cereal

 “Luck is believing you’re lucky.” ~ Tennessee Williams, (1911 - 1983)

I can’t show you my charm bracelet right now. To see it and find out why I can’t show it to you right now, sign up for my email newsletter, Nessa’s News.

I was born and raised Roman Catholic and with an extremely superstitious genetic background. Not Irish, but the original Celts going back to the Hallstatt era. Elves, talking birds, bees buzzy secrets in my ears, the ghosts living in a stone farmhouse over a thousand years old, salt and swords, roaring rivers swollen with melted glazers, and steers painted to fool an invading army filled my imagination long before I took my first breath. So, yeah, I believe in magic.

Even though I am no longer a Catholic or Christian, I can’t give up the rituals, my favorite part of going to church. The little container meant for holy water is older than the clovers and hangs by my front door (after living in my parents' houses for decades.) It holds Bavarian Alpine salt sanctified by the rising sun on the Winter Solstice while facing East on a New Jersey beach. Before I can leave the house, I touch the salt with the index and middle fingers of my left hand and touch my forehead, heart, and lips while whispering:

“Mind, body, and soul.”

A reminder to make the mundane world more sacred.

This picture has been in every bedroom I’ve occupied since I was a baby, even during college. 

While going through things, I found these four-leaf clovers I’ve had since 1972 (that’s a long time ago for those of you who are mathematically challenged.) They must be working because as I look back and review my life as a whole, I’ve been pretty damn well blessed.

Revena’s emblem and good luck charm is the honey bee which symbolizes wealth and prosperity. She wears a signet ring with the motif and uses it to seal important documents in wax.

        Mine, of course, is the Vampire Butterfly which speaks of eternal change and constant growth despite the pain such perpetual metamorphosis entails (stagnation means death, as the last few years have reminded me.)  

Revena’s Revenge: not a pretty love story opens with Revena whispering the following spell over a mug of ale:

“Blessed fruit and honey ale

  Bring him health without fail;

  Bring him strength, improve his vigor;

  Banish all that’s weak and frail.”

Are you superstitious? Do you have any old lucky charms? Do you wear an amulet or a signet ring? Do you have any special rituals?

Monday, August 08, 2022

Remember Me

I couldn't decide how to punctuate those words: was I writing a question, a command, just making a statement?

I've been going through old papers and photographs, sorting and creating digital copies. Lightening the load to move more easily into my future. Continuing my foray in Death Cleaning.

Some of the items are left over from my parents. Yes, eight and five years after the deaths of my mother and father, respectively, I'm still going through their things. I didn't want to leave such a chore for my daughter someday.

There is a variety of cards I made that my mother kept. Many of them are eligible for regifting so I may auction them off in the future. Little gifts for people who buy my books. You can see a bunch of cards I made over at my Creationist Thinking page. None of those cards are in the pile I have, so you'll need to stay tuned to see the giveaways.


This simple little Valentine's Day card is one of my favorites. It's called "Spiraling Hearts." It's a popup with the following poem I wrote on February 12, 2012.

"Hearts spiral in and out of love turning with time, but we are always at our best when we move back to our center." ~ vvk

Monday, August 01, 2022

More Than the Minimum

click to make biggerer

 "Just because you don't require a lot in order to be happy 
doesn't mean you deserve only the bare minimum."

Update on last month’s Adventure Agenda 

Write 250 new words a day. - I wrote over 5,500 new words in July. That’s 22 days worth. I wrote 5 out of the 31 days.

Walk 30 minutes every morning. - This was a bust. Slept late. Hot outside. Other things. I think I’ll be switching this to swimming when I get to Florida. There will be detours, side quests, and redrawn maps.

The Tree of Life embroidery project. - Once. I packed up my bag. Being ready for anything requires downsizing. I fit my personal items into a 4’ x 4’ x 6’ space. Less, really.

Blog Post #1 - Rabbit, Rabbit each 1st. - Yay. I deserve a ribbon.

Blog Post #2 - Authors I Know. - A work-in-progress.

Blog Post #3 - Writing update. - I say this counts.

Blog Post #4 - Book World Information. - Check out Leonardo Da Vinci’s ToDo List from the1490s.

The Bastards’ Battle. Outline, scene list, synopsis. - I have pictures of how I think the main characters look, along with personal histories. I’ve also outlined the main conflict (this one is more of a love story,) along with three subplots.

Read. - Lots of articles. My grandson has summer reading, and he’s chosen Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I did read it over eleven years ago. I remember it as being good. I will reread it in solidarity. Then we’ll watch the ANIME VERSION and compare.

Artist’s Date. - I did sort and gather my drawing implements.  

* BONUS ITEM: One short story a month. - Yeah, no.

Most of July was spent dismantling my old life and preparing for new adventures, like all exciting Hero's Journey's.

Friday, July 01, 2022



"SHATTERED" Rabbit, Rabbit 20220701 ~ from my cubist period (this morning.)

I didn't do a June newsletter. It was July before I even realized it.

To be fair to me, June was quite busy. I still haven't figured out how retirement works. Twenty hours a week kind of messes with my head. I'll update the more personal stuff in July's newsletter. Sign up for Nessa's News HERE if enquiring minds want to know.

Let's try a TO DO LIST for July and laugh when I don't get any of it done.

Write 250 new words a day. Any words, as long as it’s not the same one 250 times.

Walk 30 minutes every morning. I’m going to aim for 7:30 since it’s so fucking hot later. Hell ain’t got nothing on NJ summers.

The Tree of Life embroidery project. It’s been a while. I’d like to do something on it each day.

Blog Post #1 - Rabbit, Rabbit each 1st. I had to add this so I can claim at least one accomplishment this month.

Blog Post #2 - Authors I Know. On or about the 15th. Introductions and reviews of actual writers I know.

Blog Post #3 - Writing update. 

Blog Post #4 - Book World Information, like science, history, and everyday life.

The Bastards’ Battle. Outline, scene list, synopsis. Something for gosh sakes.

Read. Something. I have so many books sitting on my kindle that are lonely.

Artist’s Date. Once a week. This weekend, I will gather my pencils and colored pencils in one place. Yes, I’m starting very small. Baby steps, baby.

* BONUS ITEM: One short story a month.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Warm Hugs


Rabbit Rabbit 20220601

"A hug a day keeps the demons at bay." ~ German Proverb

Sunday, May 01, 2022

Mother May I ?

Rabbit, Rabbit 20220501

"Death is not the greatest loss in life.
The greatest loss is
what dies inside us while we live."
~ Norman Cousins

Monday, March 28, 2022

Snownadoes and Nonesuch

It was 31 degrees today, and blustery. It snowed all afternoon, but not much here. There are lots of weird words made up for snow events, like snownado, which has no entry in the dictionary.

Nonesuch is in the dictionary but it has nothing to do with snow or weather really. It means a person or thing without equal. Ir's pretty archaic.

You can get some more words by signing up for Nessa's News.

A once-a-month newsletter of 500 words or less sent to your email. Content that won't be posted anywhere else. Next one drops on March 31, 2022.

Click this link to subscribe:


Monday, February 28, 2022

February & Speed Dating

Nicky's spring grass.

so something beautiful will grow when they die on your land.

February went by so fast and with about as much substance as a speed dating event.

This month's Nessa's News will go out tonight. To see what I looked like at sixteen, subscribe to my newsletter.

A few other tidbits:

What did medieval Bavarians call February?

What is the oldest documented German pagan spell?

What to do to celebrate March? (No green beer. Sorry.)

so something beautiful will grow when they die on your land.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Author Attention - Michael R. Stern


Michael R. Stern is funny and smart and tells a good story. Well, actually, he's got nine stories he's told so far.

Reflections on a Generous Generation, published in 2012, is the story of Michael's father, Murray Stern, and is both memoir and history.

The Quantum Touch series is six books, all with Storm in the title. You can read my review of StormPortal over at Nessa's Book Shelf. Personal drama, world history, and time travel come together in a perfect storm (see what I did there?)

And just to prove his versatility, Sarah and the Dragons, is a fantasy fairy tale about being different.

You can find all of Michael's books on his Amazon Author Page.