Family getting old…

I am exhausted. Why?

I have been helping my Mom recover from a broken femur joint that required a partial hip replacement…and she is 88 years old. Not exactly young to be having that kind of surgery. It’s hard to watch parents get old. I am starting to see it in my siblings as well. It’s weird because I am the youngest and there is an almost hardwired concept that they should all stay the same.

Even my cat is getting old.

My father is already gone, but he had Parkinson’s. It aged him and ruined my parent’s retirement years. They had planned to do something fun together like play golf. That did not happen. Instead my Mom spent years taking care of my Dad all by herself. That meant she also cared for the house, yard, finances, shopping, driving, dog, herself, and Dad. It must have been exhausting.

At least with my Mom, she is open to trying something like the shower chair. Dad didn’t want to do it so she had to bath him by hand. Yesterday, we tried the shower chair for the first time. She was comfortable to be able to take care of herself. Items like shower chairs, special toilet seats, sock helpers, and reaching tools have all been good. She also already had a nice walker for Dad, which she can use now.

Stuff that used to be easy is now a challenge. I look at all of this and wonder….when will be my turn? I don’t have children. I will be alone unless my husband is still around. I think I want to go fast. BAM! Like a thunderbolt and it’s no longer a problem. My Mom takes all this stuff with kindness, patience, and tenancy. If we had been Catholic, she would have been a candidate for sainthood. You can even ask the nice lady, Carol, that she shared a room with after surgery recovery. My Mom is kind.

Now it is a matter of time and waiting for her to recover. And she does seem to be getting stronger slowly, but it is hard to be patient. I don’t think I am as kind as my Mom. Or is it patient? Not sure. But I do know I am exhausted.

I wonder how many older people are out there with no family or friends. If you have elderly family members, visit them now. Look at how they are living. Do they need help cleaning their home? Taking care of the yard? From my observations of my own parents and my friend’s parents, when people get older they have to make choices of what battles to fight.

My friend’s parents had three bathrooms in their house but nothing worked correctly in one bathroom. They had to shower in one and use the toilet in another because finding reliable help and paying for that help was not an option. Their hall carpet had become ruined and sometimes they tripped on it. They could not afford to fix the carpet. Luckily for them, my friend is smart and resourceful and removed the carpet and put down vinyl planking. He fixed the basic plumbing problems making their lives easier and safer. They hired a handy man to fix their paver driveway. The pavers needed to be reset. The man said he could do the work and agreed to the price they could pay. Then when the work was too difficult the man refused to finish the job leaving their driveway a mess. My friend’s 80 plus year old father went out and started finishing the work himself. He used to get tired and had a chair that he would rest upon in between. The rest of their yard also needed work, so my friend, my husband, and I removed the giant weeds that were growing in their yard causing a fire hazard.

The point is…. Look for stuff that isn’t right. Look for where you can help your senior family and friends.

I made a mistake in not looking or being nosy enough. It’s not in my nature to pry into other people’s business. My Mom came down with a skin condition and the doctor asked a lot of strange questions about taking showers regularly, changing clothes, and washing bed sheets. He never asked about the condition of her shower. I never thought anything of it. Well, in our area we have been having trouble with orange colored mildew and something that might be black mold. I had no idea that my Mom could no longer clean her shower. When she was gone for her surgery, I decided to clean her bedroom and bathroom. I then discovered that her pearly white tiled shower was orange. I was shocked. She never complained. It’s not in her nature. It took me two weeks to clean that shower. Then I asked about the skin condition and if it could be caused by mildew or mold. The answer was yes.

That situation could have been prevented. We just need to be more mindful of what battles our elderly family and friends can actually fight and which ones they have to surrender to. Currently, I am watching a yard in our neighbor slowly dry up and be filled with weeds. The man that lives there is very elderly. The yard is no longer on his list of important battles to win. I wonder if his family, and he has family, are taking care of anything for him. I do the yard battles for my Mom now and have been for quite some time.

So what is my point? Check up on your older friends and family. Is there something you can help them with? Removing just one battle can make their life just a little bit better. Ask yourself how many times were they there for you? You can be there for them.

G. Winkler (c) 2022

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Posted in ancestors, Culture, Family, health, Mental Health, Relatives, senior care

It’s been a long time

Wow, has it been a long time since I created a post on this blog! I had a computer go sideways on me, which created all kinds of unnecessary drama. Then the pandemic happened. And so on…. I am not one for life drama. I like my drama to be in the books I write, read, and movies I watch. Not real life.

The software for the WordPress site has really changed. Oh my….I hope I will be able to figure it out. So now that I have re-accessed my first blog, I need to think about what I would like to do with it. I like writing about art and craft type art, sharing photography, cosplay, and Star Wars of course. So I don’t think that will change. Give me some time and I will come up with something to share. 🙂

G. Winkler

Posted in Uncategorized

So what now?

I was really hoping we would get some peace, but the Press has decided to declare who is the next President. Which would be okay if the official vote count had been already completed or if there had been a landslide victory,…….but there wasn’t. It is a very close race. After many years of weird politics and rabid press,…….We, the people of the United States, need a fair, clear, honest victory regardless of who wins. ( I am nonpartisan by the way. I see stuff a bit differently.) It is not the Press who gets to decide the winner. It is supposed to be the voters,…..that’s us…..you know American citizens. Or else our one vote would not matter.

I am saddened to think we may have more years of angry drama that doesn’t need to exist. We don’t need daily drama, and that is what the press is serving up. That is not what their mandate or calling is….but whoever owns them, seems to think so. The journalists have lost their soul and free will to follow their true path, which is to report news in an unbiased manner.

Personally, I hate politics. But it seems to be a necessary evil of Human nature. We don’t always agree with each other on how to do stuff. It is part of life sadly enough. I guess we would not be Human if we didn’t disagree once in a while. But it is how we disagree that is so important, and we have forgotten how to do so in a civilized manner. The Masons, an old fraternal group that I am familiar with, has a saying amongst members that, “We agree to disagree.” It’s okay not to agree, but we don’t need to become monsters about it. The ranks of the Masons came from all kinds of ages, races, religions, and yes now, genders. I can attend Lodge in Europe. Due to the weird laws of times ago, an extra Lodge was created for people of African heritage. It was called Prince Hall. As a black Mason, you can attend either now. You don’t have to be a member of the Prince Hall Lodge.

The Masons also have a very simple requirement concerning religion, you have to believe in some kind of deity, so that puts the atheists at a disadvantage. So why do you need to believe in something greater, bigger, or wiser than yourself? Because there is a spiritual component in Masonry, so a true atheist would be at a loss in Lodge. He or she would feel left out and empty. That would be unfair to offer them the experience when they won’t be able to do so. Our founding fathers of this country were Masons, and you know what, they didn’t always agree with each other. But they found a way to be respectful of each other’s opinions. This is what seems to have gone away. I started to really notice the change of behavior when H. Clinton and B. Obama were competing for the Democratic nomination. More than likely, it was growing long before that. Perhaps back to G.W. Bush presidency or even B. Clinton’s administration.  Not sure.  The Patriot Act didn’t seem to help either.  The Press got weirder.

So, why did the Press get so weird? I thought it went back to O.J. Simpson’s bronco chase and Rodney King’s situation that eventually erupted in violent riots. It seemed like the news people were high on the drama unfolding.  All the world was watching them and they were now oh so important and influential.  But older friends have pointed out that other things have occurred that might be the root cause of the moral or integrity change in journalism. Apparently, the news is now rated.  You know, like your favorite TV shows.  TV shows that have higher ratings get more money for the commercials they sell.  Like the Super Bowl. Those commercial sell for millions of dollars.

I miss the days of Walter Cronkite.  He gave us the facts of a situation, and he respected us enough to come to our own conclusions.  If we truly wanted to hear other people’s ideas concerning a topic, there were other shows that discussed current events, but not the News. The News was reported factual events to the best of their ability. The minute a reporter puts their personal spin on news events, it now makes it suspect to whether it is propaganda instead of news. The National Socialist Party in 1930’s Germany were masters of putting a spin on events getting everyday people to accept their view of how the world should be. The people were brainwashed into a secret civil war where millions of their fellow Germans were murdered. Think about how influential information is and how facts can be construed. This is why it is so important to have journalists that are of a high quality and integrity. The news is supposed to be factual unbiased information.

In my opinion, we are doomed to have more years of useless stupid stressful drama shoved down our throats for many more years to come until we get a proper press back into place.  I have thought this for about fifteen years now, and  I wonder why it is getting worse.   Who owns these companies that control our news agencies?  Why don’t they see the intense harm that is being done to the citizens of this country and perhaps the citizens of the world?  I guess if I knew, I would be a wiser person than just one sitting at a computer typing a blog wondering what on Earth is going on?

G. Winkler ©2020

 

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Posted in Culture, current events, History

The Sith Gardener

Self portrait of me as the Sith Gardener with rake and lighsaber.

I thought I had posted this poem and picture a while ago, but when I searched for it to share with a friend, it was gone.  What happened?  I was really sure I had done so.  Am I getting old really fast?  Am I now in an alternate universe? (Which would explain a lot.)  Regardless, it is not posted anywhere and I had wanted to share this to help get interest in my friend’s work.  She is an artist and sells lovely greeting cards and has put together a charming little picture book that tells of a very different experience than my in the garden.  Her name is Carol Gillman and the book she wrote and published is The First Day of Spring.

 

 

The Sith Gardener by Gretchen Winkler © 2019

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener sees the chaos before him.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener puts out suet cakes to attract minions to his cause.

The Sith Gardener sizes up his enemies the juniper, ivy, and Oregon grape.  They do battle.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener mows the lawn and kills the weeds.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener plants the flowers that pleases his eye.

The Sith Gardener observes the squirrel who tears up the bulbs, sleeps on the flowers, and suns himself mockingly on the fence.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener meditates on what still needs order.

On the  long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener installs the water system to make his Empire grow.

The Sith Gardener endures the hot sun, the stifling pollen, the annoying wasps, the bitter drought, and the desolate clay ridden soil.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener greets the bunny who pretends to be a rock in his presence.

On the long journey of gardening the Sith Gardener views the turkey vulture soaring above with majesty.

The Sith Gardener has the last laugh when he looks upon the order that he has brought to his new Empire and the power he now wields in the garden.

 

This poetic story was inspired by writer Carol Gilman, author of The First Day of Spring.  She has a very different experience in her yard.

 

G. Winkler ©2020

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Posted in Art, Culture, Inspiration

Why essential is not the same to everyone

Within the last couple of days I have seen articles, post, reports, and videos about non-essential items should not be allowed to be sold.  One news article reported that people were complaining about the local golf course being open.  Really.  If the course owners and players are following the guidelines, then why can’t people who can play golf go out and do it?

Sour grapes.

You know envy and jealousy.  If someone else can do something they love and you can’t.  Then there was the numerous complaints about non-essential businesses being open.  The officials in charge of regulating this stuff went to those locations and none of them were open.  Once again that selfish behavior of being righteously judgemental and secretly jealous.  This needs to stop.

I don’t have the money or gear to play golf, but I am not going to say those people should stop if they are following the rules.  That person playing golf may be clearing their head of anger, frustration, and thoughts of suicide.  Golf might be that lifeline to serenity to that keeps them from doing something they would regret.  Judging what other people are doing and why is a primitive behavior.  We all do it.  But to let it out of the box and into the world to infect other people’s lives is a sign of selfishness.  That we can all rise above.  Change our behavior.  Acknowledge trained reactions that may be a negative force in our society.  Stop trying to change the world with anger and hate.  It only brings more anger and hate.  It is a cycle that feeds itself.  Stop feeding it.

Yesterday, I say an article that Costco and Walmart should not be selling anything other than food.  Once again, if the store is taking the required health measures, why are these people complaining?  The article said that books, arts and craft supplies, clothes, cosmetics, yard care materials, toys and household appliances were not essential.  How are they judging that?  What makes them judges?  Do they understand the needs of every single household in this country?

I doubt it.

There are a lot of craft oriented people out there making stuff for our healthcare workers.  They are making masks for themselves as well to help protect everyone.  So why keep them from having the tools they need?  Some people just need to keep busy.  Working on yards, repainting the house, reading books, buying toys and games to help keep children happy and occupied are normal healthy things for people to do.  And the clothes still being sold…..how do these “essential judges” know what people need?  What if your favorite pair of shoes just got a hole in them, and your now can’t go for walks, which is the only thing keeping you sane while you are unable to work.  Why does some judgemental person get to determine that you buying a new pair of shoes is not essential?  It shouldn’t.  People shop at Costco because they like the prices and what is being offered.  Yes, it is a membership store.  Is that the problem?  Sour grapes again?  My sturdy pair of tennis shoes now have a rip in them.  I can wait a while longer to get a new pair.  They are still usable, but what if that other person’s shoes has damage that hurts their feet bad?  Just because I can wait doesn’t mean the other person should.

We don’t spend enough time using our imagination to see how someone else’s life might be.  The current society just judges the outside from a shallow point of view.  Stop that.  Just please stop that.  It is like a disease.  It spreads nothing but misery just like COVID 19.

I had a friend in college that would complain all the time.  He used to complain about the football players, the university administration, the way people were dressed, what music they listened to and so on…..  I was never much of a complainer, but I caught myself doing it.   Complaining about stuff that didn’t matter to me.  What the heck?!?!   His negativity was infectious.  Next time you complain about a politician or some group of people, ask yourself why?  Why are you complaining?  Are you that deeply affected by the events?  Is it because your friends and family expect you to complain?  Ask yourself why?  You may find yourself unable to answer that question.  You may find something lurking like a hidden injury that had never been acknowledged and had not healed.  In my case with my college friend, I was simply picking up bad behavior from him.  I worked to stop it.  You can to.  We can all do it.

During this time we may find ourselves having to take care of problems that we might have asked others for assistance with such as my friend in Oregon has a broken furnace.  He is pretty skillful but is no HVAC expert, but he is trying to solve the problem himself.  Other people may be having appliances that are now in more use due to staying home that have broken.  Maybe they were broken before and they just ate out in restaurants.  Perhaps they have lost their job and well, eating at home is cheaper.  Think before you complain.  Think before you encourage others to make things worse because you didn’t have any of those needs.

We can get through this.  Don’t be so quick to join the “Essentials only” bandwagon.  Essential means different things to different people.  We can make it through this pandemic.  We need to pull deep into that higher part of ourselves and work on being patient and mindful.  Save the drama and complaining when it is about something truly important.

G. Winkler April 2020 ©

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Posted in Consumer alert, Culture, current events, Education, Inspiration, Mental Health

Understand the History of Comic Books and Entertainment geared towards males

For a couple of years I have seen an upswing of anti-male behavior.  Not completely sure why.  Women are just as bad.  Both sexes can act like jerks.  And both sexes can be great companions.  It truly depends upon the individual and not their sex, age, so-called race, and whatever label people like to judge others with.  It is the luminous being inside the biological machine that truly matters.  Sometimes cultures, religions, and personal experiences can make people act like jerks.  But each person is truly unique.  And I think as the Human race matures, we shall understand this more instead of needing to label everyone with superfluous categories.

So what brings up such an intellectual or heavily philosophical article from an average blogger such as myself?

Well, I have a Twitter account.  Perhaps that says it all.  I see people arguing and tearing each other apart.  Not sure whether they truly want a serious discussion or want some kind of flame war over who is wrong or right.  You know, drama.  To get followers or something like that.  So I saw this guy post that he was surprised that so many women liked Star Trek.  And all kinds of drama erupted.  Not sure of any of the people’s motives but it did bring up an interesting and an often ignored point from the past.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s…..it was seriously uncool to like sci fi or fantasy literature, comic books, and to play Dungeons and Dragons.  The guys that liked this stuff were often labelled as weirdos and the girls were shunned by other girls.  I experienced this attitude throughout high school and into my college years in the late 80’s.  I even had a high school teacher look down upon me and chide me for my desire to write sci fi or fantasy.  She told me scornfully that I write like Ray Bradbury.   We didn’t have internet at the time.  I knew he was a well known published author, but I had no idea that he was critically acclaimed for writing novels such as Fahrenheit 451.  If I had understood better who he was, I probably would have been thrilled.  But she didn’t mean it as a compliment.  My female friends were not interested into going to see Star Wars movies or playing D&D until they discovered that “the guys” were doing it.  I hung out in high school with a  brilliant group of males.  Why?  Because they treated me with honor and integrity.  The girls around me, especially in middle school, stabbed me in the back so many times that you would have thought I got into a fight with a porcupine.  It was always about looking pretty, which I was not, being popular, which I was not, and getting boys to like them, which from what I recall, they were not interested in me as a pretty girl.  Through band I discovered a different group of people that were intellectually superior and more interesting to be with.  I wasn’t in the academically talented program, but I was drawn to the kids that were.  They seemed to have more interesting things to talk about.  They saw life differently, and that is how I ended up with the bright boys playing D&D.  Later, I managed to get the smart girls to hang out with the smart boys.  Both groups needed more interaction with the opposite sex.

The group was happy.  We were that way until others were added to the group that brought in fears and the drama of jealousy.  By the time half of us were in college for a year, I was not invited anymore because the newcomer female was afraid I might take her boyfriend.  I would never do that.  It was not in my nature, but perhaps it was in hers and she judged me by her own dark motives.

So how does this tie into the title of the article?  Okay, I did get a little off track but the point is that social life back then was not the same as now.  Now it seems that if one like super heroes, then that is cool.  We have Batman, Superman, Spiderman, the Avengers, Wonder Woman, and various other legendary comic book heroes along with lots of Sci Fi and fantasy movies and games.  This stuff is popular.  It makes lots of money!

Now.

Back then….not so much.  Read the books written by the cast of the original Star Trek series.  They tell about how Gene Roddenberry had to fight to get the show aired and how he had to compromise to keep characters as they were planned.  He wanted the first mate on the ship to be a woman.  This was back in the 60’s.  The production crew had to go dumpster diving to get props made and somebody brought their kitchen table chairs to use for the set.  Doctor McCoy’s medical scanner was made from salt and pepper shakers.  These people were not taken seriously.  Sci Fi was not taken seriously.  The whole genre was treated like it came out of the depths of back alley ways where porn and drugs were sold to degenerates.  Comic books were treated in the same fashion.  As a matter of fact, comic books were required to be approved by a special censorship group called the Comic Code Authority.    We have all seen this image on comic books.  I never gave it any thought because I didn’t know what it was.  It was started long before I was born.  This code authority was developed around the time a psychiatrist named Fredric Wertham published a book in 1954 called the Seduction of the Innocent which brought forth the idea that comic books were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency.

This happened in 1954 during the Cold War Era when everyone was just a bit paranoid and still followed what their government told them without question.  So you can imagine what mothers and fathers told their daughters and sons about having comic books and what kind of people read them.  Anyone who recalls what peer pressure was like in school can easily see how this affected the social climate in schools.  Any student seen liking this kind of stuff was considered soiled, someone to be avoided.   You can see where my old English teacher got her attitude from.   Now we have stores that sell t-shirts with Spiderman happily swinging from building to building and Wonder Woman proudly depicted upon pop culture backpacks used by all ages.  Times have changed.  Stop complaining and yelling about how bad things are.  Many things have improved.

The story of scorn and censorship goes further back to what was referred to as “pulp fiction,” and no, I don’t mean the movie.  Pulp magazines were inexpensive books, generally with a soft cover, that contained a collection of short stories.  They were published from the 1890s to the 1950’s.  The Star Trek series DS9 explored this publishing venue in a story where Captain Sisko thinks he is a writer in Far Beyond the Stars.  The writers are depicted as people who struggle to make a living in a not so well respected industry, and the Captain has a more difficult time because he is a black man before the civil rights movement.  Predecessor to these were the Dime Novel and Penny Dreadful.  The British Penny Dreadful were specifically written for working class males.  You can see where I am going with this.  This literature was designed to appeal to young men just like the comic books.  Yah, sure there were females that read and enjoyed this stuff, but you can bet they kept that a secret.  A proper lady that wanted a good marriage needed to appear respectable.  If you don’t get it, read a bunch of Jane Austin or Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth.

And lastly, I will finish with a bit more about how stories have evolved.  Way back to the Middle Ages, people didn’t write stories for fun and pleasure.  It all had to be about religion.  I am speaking specifically about Europe since my literary educational experience did not include Asia, Africa, or South America.  (Gotta focus upon what I actually know.)  This was also the case for art as well.  Art had to have a religious context just like the writing.  The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer are some of the earliest known English stories that were not centered around the church and religion.  ( I am not including any pre-Christian era stuff like what the Greeks and Romans had.)  These tales also had a less than savory reputation and were often labeled as bawdy or ribald.  So let’s just say that the pious people of that time period would not be seen reading and laughing at Chaucer’s stories.  Not to mention that not many people knew how to read back then.  This was something the Founding Fathers of this country wanted for everyone, an education.  I know there are some arguments that will arise here, but long ago only extremely wealthy and religious people were taught how to read.  And that’s a small number compared to today’s standards.  So read a book and enjoy the options you now have.

 

G. Winkler ©2020

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Posted in Comic Cons, Culture, Education, Entertainment, Writing

Pub Crawl meets the realm of Harry Potter

Items from A Very Potter Crawl 2019

Pub crawls are a growing way to create a party atmosphere that involves alcoholic libations, multiple business cooperation, and a certain amount of healthy exercise.  To make it more fun the addition of a theme has been included due to the popularity of Zombie and Santa crawls.  We just attended A Very Potter Crawl in Reno, NV, which focused upon the wonderful world of Hogwarts and the characters created by J.K. Rowling.  A couple of years ago we attended the Epic Crawl where everyone dressed as Star Wars characters.  Since that was fun, we thought (my husband and I) we would attend this one.  And since we love dressing up in costumes, we quickly realized we had to put something together.  As ardent lovers of the Harry Potter series both books and movies, we could not simply go as muggles.

So how hard is it to put together a recognizable or at least a creatively explained Harry Potter Universe appropriate clothing?  Not too difficult.  Currently there are several stores offering a selection of Harry Potter themed items such as Hot Topic and Target.  And we are lucky enough that we are coming upon the Halloween holiday season where the availability of store made costumes and accessories are more available.  The Spirit Halloween store is also currently carrying Harry Potter gear, but don’t go there for Star Wars gear because we did not see any.

To put together a basic Hogwarts student costume is pretty affordable without much need to be highly gifted in sewing or other crafty skills.  I have seen patterns in fabric stores, so that is an option.  But a very basic ensemble that will be recognizable as being from the Harry Potter Universe can be achieved with about $100.  The velvet student robes are about $40 depending upon where you live and how you obtain them.  The womens/girls student sweater is also around $40.  From my experience wearing them at the pub crawl, they were very comfortable.  My husband has a Ravenclaw varsity jacket that was more but is made very well.  It is a real jacket and not just a costume piece.  My preference has been that costumes should be like clothes – comfortable and well made to endure washing and wear.  Another item that will be helpful is the iconic school tie with your favorite house colors.  We also purchased these for $12, but we have seen them at several locations.  Some may be less or more.

Surprisingly nice wizards robes with house colors and shield patches from the Spirit Halloween store. Pretty comfortable for a very average sized person.   A person with wide shoulders may find them a bit tight.

There are many more items that one could choose to purchase to complete the costume such as scarves, socks, skirts, and hats.  Put together what you feel inspired or are comfortable doing.  During the pub crawl I saw traditional character inspired attire while others went with a more sexy approach.  For example short skirts with high heels and stockings.  If you are a hard core Harry Potter fan, you might want to do one of the more elaborate characters such as the esteemed professors, parents, politicians, shop keepers, ghosts, creatures, or perhaps one of the villains.  There are some great villains to dress up as well.  All of these will take more planning than one week.  Our costumes as Hogwarts students had a basic foundation that we owned other clothing that could be suitably paired with the new costume pieces.  My husband has a pair of black slacks and a button up white shirt.  I also own a button up white shirt and a basic black skirt, so it was easy to pair these items up with the costumes pieces.  We enjoyed wearing these costumes and they were very comfortable.

Now, I left out one important item…….the Wand.  You gotta have a wand if you want to dress up like someone from the Harry Potter Universe.  Find a good stick on the ground, a small branch from a tree in your backyard that you can cut, 3d print yourself one, or buy one of the many official Harry Potter wands.  I have seen those all over the place including book stores like Barnes and Noble.  As a matter of fact, the pub crawl that we attended sold these wands as well just to make sure that everyone had a good time and were well dressed for the event.  We purchased our wands, curiously enough, at the Rose City Comic Con that was held just a week before we knew about the pub crawl.  Ours were made by the Hungarian Wand Shop, and they feel……magical.  They are constructed of real wood.

Handcrafted wand made of wood.

So with wand in hand and properly dressed we enjoyed A Very Potter Crawl.  The participating taverns had their own versions of Butterbeer, mixed drinks, and shots in honor of the night’s festivities.  Neither of us are heavy drinkers, so we sampled only a few concoctions and checked out what was happening at least half of the locations on the mapped out list.  All the staff we met were really friendly and what we sampled of the beverages were all good.  I wish we had been able to stay longer to see the costume contests, but those are scheduled for midnight….and well….by then I turn into a pumpkin and just want to be warm and cozy in bed.

Can’t wait for another opportunity to wear our Hogwarts costumes and possibly improve them.  Maybe enlist a few friends to join us?  I know someone who would be perfect as a Slytherin.

G. Winkler ©2019 September

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Posted in Costume, Culture, Entertainment

Hike in Forest….filled with peace.

Just recently I was up in the Pacific Northwest again where I truly feel at home and at peace.  I love the climate and forests.  I want to desperately move back there and find the beauty and harmony that is that region of the country.  I took some photos since I am a picture hound, and thought I would share these images on my WordPress site.

slug in forest

I have neglected my blog lately because I have had so much on my mind and no one wants to hear about how sad I am concerning the loss of someone.  Not even sure if people believe me.  And besides, I am inclined to believe that people need more uplifting than all the irrational anger that I see on the news.  Perhaps some quiet reflecting in places that you like best will help center one’s thoughts to more important matters.  Then I can discuss how someone like Peter Mayhew meant so much to me.  How he gave me hope.  So, please enjoy my pictures of the forest and hopefully you will find a path to inner peace.

I am often amazed at how small these trees make me feel.  Small but not frightened.  Like they are giants here to protect me or look over me as I walk through these woods.  Great experience it was.

G. Winkler copyright ©2019

 

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Posted in Digital Photography, Inspiration, Photography

Chewbacca and the Nobody

Recently Peter Mayhew, the actor who famously played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, passed away at age 74.  This hit me pretty hard.  Who am I?  I am just a nobody, but I got to work with him for a couple of years on a project.  He was my literary agent.   He changed my life.

He’s a had a couple of health scares since I first  got to known him and there have been times in his life when he has been forced to be in a wheelchair, but that did not keep him from living a full life.  At least from what I knew of him.  I met him through my friend, Bill, in 2016.  My husband and I talked Bill into cosplaying Gungi, the young Jedi Wookiee, and I have no idea how my buddy managed to get in contact with Peter Mayhew.  But he did and even got an autographed picture from him.   But Peter wasn’t just a movie star.   He cared about people and the world around him.  He started a foundation to help people in need called the Peter Mayhew Foundation.  And he was a writer.

 

I am a writer, but no one ever believed in me.  My high school teacher complained that I wrote like Ray Bradbury, she hated Science Fiction.  My high school boyfriend read one of my manuscripts without permission and told me he hated it.  In college I never felt comfortable with my fellow writers and the courses never seemed to make me a better writer.  I submitting manuscripts to publishers and always got a xeroxed response of no thank you.  Being a novelist was like being a fine artist.  You were meant to starve and succeed only after you were dead.  Becoming a novelist was a battle I had no idea how to fight, so I set it aside to focus on things that would put a roof over my head and food on the table.  When I lost my job in 2008?….I think…(It was a horrible place where I did three people’s jobs and got paid for one not to mention that the people didn’t care about me), I started painting again since I was stuck at home.  I also started writing again because my friend, Laurie, mentioned something called NaNoWriMo, which is a writing event that happens every November.  I gave it a try.  I wrote a story about a kid that went to a school for Knights.  No outline.  Just free form spilled out of my heart and mind.  I shared it with my husband and our best friend Bill.  They both liked it, but every writer knows that friends and loved ones will always be kind about art projects.  For some reason Bill wanted to show it to Peter Mayhew and I said alright.

This was the start of my friendship with the man who created what a Wookiee should be.

He really liked it, and we discovered that we had some interests in common.  He wanted to know if I had an ending for it.  And I said no, and that I was currently working on a Star Wars story.  Remember the story of a kid going to a Knight’s school was done without any planning.  I wasn’t sure how to end it.  Still don’t.  But the Star Wars story had been outlined for the upcoming NaNoWriMo event.  Why write a Star Wars story?  Well, I have loved Star Wars ever since I saw the first movie as a kid.  I’m a big Darth Vader fan.  I liked him when it wasn’t cool.   Trust me, I got some strange looks for liking Darth Vader.  I even tried to explain that he was one of the main characters like a hero but not one.  I was a kid.

So once I had my Star Wars story written and edited a couple of times to make it readable, I let Peter Mayhew read it.  After he read it, he asked if he could be my literary agent!  No kidding.  I was excited and shocked all at once.  I kept wondering if he was messing with me, but I was told that Peter had a reputation for being a straight shooter.  No bullshit and he would say it like it was.  Also, why would a busy person like him waste time on a person like me if he didn’t think I had potential.  You see, it was hard to believe because no one had ever been a mentor to me or ever taken an interest in the projects that I worked on.  He had me do a few things to set up my work  to help protect it.  He also explained how the Star Wars Universe actually worked.  People don’t submit stories to them, they contact writers and tell them what to write.  Only one writer had done what I wanted to do before in the Star Wars Universe.  He actually wanted to introduce me to her.

He worked to find me the right people to work with which seemed to be an uphill battle.  He finally asked me if he could share it with his old friend, whom I call the Decision Maker.  Peter wanted to know what his friend would think of the story.  The Decision Maker liked the story and said he would help try and find editors and a publisher.  You see, stories that are part of a franchise have to follow certain rules set up by the owners.  I had several friends suggest self publishing, but that would not work because my work was set in the Star Wars Universe.  I have read many of the novels and comic books that are pertinent to the situations in my stories as well as seen all the movies and cartoons numerous times.  So when you see authors that say they had helpers do research, well, I did it all on my own.  It’s time consuming but a labor of love.  I did not want to let down Peter or the Star Wars fans.

Unfortunately, Peter’s health was not the greatest and he had mentioned to me that he wished to retire but was willing to see my story get published.  He was still very busy doing comic cons and movie stuff he couldn’t talk about.  So when I say I knew him….I knew him not as much as I would have liked to.  He was a busy guy and I needed to be patient.  I felt uncomfortable sharing with people that he was acting as my literary agent because I didn’t want to disappoint people when I couldn’t get them autographs and so forth.  This was a professional type of friendship.  Then it came to the point when his friend the Decision Maker agreed to take on my project while Peter recovered from some surgeries.  The Decision Maker was my “temporary” literary agent.  Both men have given me guidance and have done their best to navigate through the Star Wars Universe, which has become quite complicated.  Now that Peter is gone, I guess that means the Decision Maker is my literary agent.  I hope he doesn’t mind.  He’s also a very busy person.

I’m not going to give up on what Peter and I started.  I will make him proud of me.  I will be worthy of his faith in my skills as a writer and story teller.  I just need the publishers to treat the Decision Maker with more respect.  I don’t have any control over that.  The entertainment world is not a simple place.  Not sure it ever has been.

So that’s how Peter Mayhew changed my life.  I am still a nobody, but I don’t feel as much like a nobody inside anymore.  I know that he and the Decision Maker liked my book.  They believe that it is worthy of being part of the Star Wars Universe.

I know that I am not the only person that will miss him and many of you reading this will feel the same way.  It is my understanding that Peter’s family wishes that instead of sending flowers to them that making a donation to Peter’s Foundation would be appreciated.  Make Peter’s last action on Earth be to bring more  help to others in need.  I think he would like that.

G. Winkler ©2019

PS – I know this was not written very well, but it was written more for me than anyone else.  I just needed to say that I cared about him since I felt I had to keep his name secret because I don’t think I could have deal with people asking me to try and get autographs and so forth from him.

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Posted in Art, Star Wars, Writing

Snow inspired Hoth fun

Okay, so this is another one of my action figure photo series.  I think every writer should do stuff to get in touch with the characters they are writing for especially if the characters and setting are not based on reality.  I am currently writing Star Wars Universe stories.  I am a fan, but I don’t write fan fiction.  My writing follows certain rules like respecting the characters as they have been developed.  Acknowledging and understanding the setting as it has been established.

So what does that mean?  Darth Vader doesn’t need a hot babe to solve all his problems.  That would not follow with why he is Darth Vader.  That would show a blatant disregard for what has been established for the character and a serious lacking of understanding of who Darth Vader is.  One always hears actors ask, “What is my motivation?”  Well, that is important in writing as well.

Now, don’t get me wrong….some of the fan fiction out there is well written, and some of it should be flushed down the toilet where it belongs.  Fan Fiction gives people a chance to express ideas and improve their writing skills.  That’s not enough for me.  I want my stories to be published and shared with those that love Star Wars.  I want to return the joy that I felt as I watched and read throughout the years.

So the snow today has inspired my thoughts to turn to the planet Hoth where the  Empire Strikes Backs begins.  I have a few of those Hasbro Black Series 6 inch action figures.  So I gathered up a few that I thought would make sense for a Hoth inspired scene.  But being out in ultra white snowy bright conditions has its hazards….snow blindness.  Yes, that is a thing.  You end up with a headache and an aversion to bright light.  It takes about a day for it to go away, at least for me.  It is unpleasant.  Then the other problem to contend with….the camera, which is actually my cell phone.  It has great resolution, but the Moto phone doesn’t work as well as my old Samsung.  I literally cannot not see the screen while I am outside in such bright light.  Even pulling my sunglasses away, I cannot see the screen.  I had to set up my figures and guess how things would look in each shot.

The following are the results from my blind attempt.  Good thing I am not spending millions of dollars to film an action adventure scene while doing it with just the Force to see with.

These three look pretty much the same except with some mild lighting differences.  The giant shadow was me being in the way.  Another thing to be mindful of when taking pictures or filming.  Is the camera and operator inadvertently getting into the scene?

This is how the scene looked from above.  By crouching down on the wet cement, I was hoping to get that tunnel affect of being in an area with very high snow.  The previous images were all lacking the other figure that I wanted to be in the shot.  Because I could not see the phone screen while taking the pictures, I could not tell if I was at the correct angle or if I needed to move the figures around.

Here I changed camera angle to make sure my protocol droid was included in the scene, but once again….I could not see the screen on the phone, so I could not tell how much of the house and other illusion breaking items had gotten into the shot.  This probably would have been fine if a brilliant blue sky was the back ground image.  One could attempt to Photoshop the house and so forth out of the picture.  Below is my attempt to remove the unwanted background clutter that breaks the illusion.

It does look better. 🙂  The final picture is what I was hoping for, but what I got was blurry.  I wanted the white droid to be in the background like he was surprised or hiding from the Imperials as they discuss the Rebel captive kneeling upon the ground.  He was supposed to be one of those details that people notice only after looking at a picture for some time.  A blue sky would also be useful in this image, but it lacks the clarity that I wanted.

I hope you had fun looking at these and will be inspired to do even better photos.

May the Force be with you!

G. Winkler ©2019

 

 

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Posted in Art, Inspiration, Star Wars, Toys, Writing