Friday, September 25, 2015

A new milestone: my first bee sting(s)!

Last weekend, I was doing yard work. Just finished mowing the yard, sweating and panting like a gorilla, and I thought why finish there? How about trimming (a chore I tend to only do twice a year; yeah, I'm one of those kinda neighbors)?

Proud of my chutzpah, I trimmed around the garden in front. Suddenly, my thigh was on fire. Huh, I thought, that's odd. I scratched like mad, tamped my thigh many times just in case somehow a spark from the trimmer had crawled up my shorts. That's when I noticed the ground cover hazy like heat off hot tarmac. I'd stumbled into a horror movie's worth of bees swarming around me.
I shrieked (a manly shriek, mind you) more out of panic than terror. Then a bee landed on my wrist. Couldn't shake it off, blow it off, thwack it off.

Okay, I've never been stung before. And at age 54, I truly thought I was gonna live the rest of my life without suffering through this heinous rite of passage. Whatever.

Be that as it may, I'd like to clear up some untrue myths about bee stings. Pay attention class...

First, it's not the sharp bite you hear about. Rather it's a burning sensation, acid eating your skin. And it won't go away. Think I'd rather have the instant BLAMMO and be done with it.

Second, whoever said that if you don't show fear in front of a bee, it won't sting you. What a load of crap! I didn't even know they were in my vicinity until they started burning my skin off. The fear came later. (But it seems I'm now on the bee's radar; lately when I've walked the dog, they chase me. I suppose the sight of a big man and large dog running from a bee may look amusing to some people, but it's no laughing matter when you're running for your life).

Third, once a bee stings you, it dies. Not these buggers! They kept attacking like the Energizer Bunny, stinging me time and again. My hand swelled up into a bowling ball. My thigh contains a map of the world in bruises. I didn't even get to take satisfaction that my enemies would die afterward.
Fourth, to become immune to bee stings, eat five worker bees. Yeah, be my guest. I understand the Golden Poison Arrow Frog tastes great over a grill, too.

Fifth, if you dig the stinger out with a knife and quickly suck the venom out, you won't suffer any consequences. Except for going to the ER with a carved up hand and poison in your belly.

Perhaps I need to invest in a full-on hazard suit for future yard work. Or pay the neighborhood kid to take his chances.

For more sheer terror, check out Secret Society (the book formerly known as {just like Prince!} The Secret Society of Like-Minded Individuals) from Books We Love Publishing: Extremely friendly purchase linky


Friday, September 18, 2015

Lightning Struck

Not too long ago, I told my mom I took the dog out for a walk between our frequent Midwest storms.
She said, "You shouldn't do that. You're gonna get hit by lightning."
Huh. "Mom, are you really worried I'll get hit by lightning?"

"Why, yes!" She punched it hard, emphasizing my naivete.

Just this week, I had a bout of nausea. Since the well eventually runs dry on things to talk to my mom about, I shared it with her. We love to share ailment stories.

She said, "I hope you're not having a heart attack."

Wha? After I pooh-poohed that idea, telling her I walk many miles four times a week, she replied, "Maybe you're walking too much."

Sigh. Still on the case, she followed up with, "Maybe you should take a suppository."
Gah! No thanks. As a child, suppositories had been one of my mother's favorite forms of torture hiding under the guise of "medicine." All the abominable "pills" ever did was make my stomach more upset and cause me a year's worth of humiliation. Never again. 

Of course my mom knows no better. After all, her parents fed her spoonfuls of kerosene (KEROSENE!) when she was sick.

Anyway. I come from a long line of worriers and negativity. If there's nothing currently wrong, my family will work hard to find something to worry about.

My grandmother was the same way. While I was in junior high, she lived with us. Every day I'd rush home, amped up that I'd survived another school day.

"Hi, Grandma," I'd say, "how was your day?"

"Long and boring. Can't see nothin', can't do nothin'. May as well be dead."

Buzz-kill, Grandma.

It's a can't win situation. At times, I find myself falling into the same hole. Quickly, I try to dig out. I know all too well how unpleasant it can be to hang around negative people. Daily, I struggle to look at the positive so as not to punish my loved ones.

So, the next time my mom hammers me with her usual diatribe, "The world's terrible, everything's going to pot, everyone's out to rip you off."

I'll respond with, "Yes, but at least we have twerking." Maybe I'll even demonstrate a little.

For something even more terrifying than suppositories, check out my newest book,  Ghosts of Gannaway

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Judas Ant

I don't care how many CGI kiddy movies are made about ants, they're not cute. All wiggly limbs and creepy-crawly.
Especially since we have a weird infestation in our bathroom. It's not like we eat in there. But, suddenly, they're crawling the walls. It's like a crappy Syfy movie, "Antacula Vs. Toiletsaurus."

So I went to our local hardware megastore. It's an extremely overwhelming gigantic place, especially for a mechanical dolt like myself. My idea of being handy around the house is operating the TV remote (and that can be quiet taxing since we have about six remotes for one set-up).

I wandered the aisles until someone finally took pity on me and then redirected me toward the "pesticide expert." Which is kind of mind-boggling. Just how many "experts" do they have running around in that store? 

When I told the guy my problem, he offered me a malicious grin. Said, "Got just the thing for ya. Kill 'em good and dead." (Like there's any other way to kill them. "Dead," I mean, not "good.") Then he dragged his finger across his throat, accompanied by a "Kkkkkkkk." Sort of an insect sound in itself. No wonder he's the bug expert.

"Ant Bait's" what I brought home. Now, get this...the box claims the drones will take the poison back to the queen ant. Harsh.

I started wondering about the ant who brings back the poison to his queen.  He'll watch as the queen takes a bite, expecting a cookie. Instead, she'll gag, look at the carrier, say, "Et tu, Brute?" The rest of the crowd will die, pointing judgmental ant limbs toward the poor lil' guy. And all the while, he's probably all "What?"

Assuming he survives, he's gonna have some heavy-duty ant therapy to wrestle through.

This innocent ant will have a terrible legacy, too. Henceforth, he'll be referred to as "the one who killed the queen." I pity him, I truly do. In ant history books, he'll go down as the biggest mass murderer ever. In tiny ant colleges, in little ant philosophy courses, the professor will ask the class, "If you could go back in time and kill the Queen Slayer while he's in his pupae stage, would you?" 

And all he ever set out to do was please his queen. An unfair world, especially if you're an ant. Guy can't catch a break. So sad.

I'm rethinking my "antageddon." I'd like to trash the ant-bait, let them live. Are they really hurting anything? Besides just kinda, you know, being gross?

For another frightening tale, check out Ghosts of Gannaway. Spookier than ants crawling down your bathroom wall, guaranteed.

Friday, September 4, 2015

If you could change one thing in the past… by guest blogger, Meradeth Houston

Because Meradeth Snow's excellent new YA, sci-fi, romance book, Travelers, is out, I thought I'd turn my blog over to her this week (and because I'm feeling lazy). Go get Meradeth's book now, thank me later.

Thanks so much for hosting me today, Stuart! I love your work and it’s always a pleasure to hang around these parts.

So, time travel. Let’s be honest: if it were easily available, most of us would use it for trivial things: To fix that gaff in the staff meeting yesterday, to make sure you didn’t actually give someone a vacuum for Christmas (even if they asked for one), or just to make sure you had enough time to finish your taxes. I mean, really, the little stuff would be a whole lot easier. And that little stuff probably wouldn’t change much in the grand scheme of your life.

But, there are other things we might change. Like, the big stuff. The regret-at-night-before-falling-asleep kind of stuff. We’ve all got those kinds of things lurking, just waiting to be remembered when we’re laying in bed, about to fall asleep (wait, we do all have those, right? I’m not the only one?....Right?). Anyhow, I am pretty sure we could all come up with a few of those things we might change. For me, I can think of a few: not rooming with the crazy girl during my Junior year of college. Not listening to certain people who said I shouldn’t take more writing classes because I should stick to my strengths in science. Not doing that really awesome genetics internship in Peru (ugh, I so wish I’d had the guts to do that!). So, yeah, lots of things I’d probably do differently.

Of course, the bigger changes mean lots of other things would be different, too. I’d never have met really influential people on my life. Never gotten my current job that I adore. Never have ended up in my field. Or something like that. Who knows, right? For me, that’s kind of the fun the whole time-travel thing: imagining what would be different. Sometimes it might be better. Other times, maybe worse. It’s hard to say because of how many things influence us, but it’s still interesting to imagine.

Though I still wish I’d done that internship. Hello, what was my dumb 18-year-old self thinking? Or not thinking…
Sienna Crenshaw knows the rules: 1) no time traveling beyond your natural lifetime, 2) no screwing with death, and 3) no changing the past. Ever. Sienna doesn’t love being stuck in the present, but she’s not the type to to break the rules. That is, she wasn’t the type until her best friend broke every one of those rules to keep Henry, her twin brother and Sienna’s ex-boyfriend, alive.
Suddenly, Sienna is caught in an unfamiliar reality. The upside? Henry is still alive. The downside? Sienna’s old life, including the people in it, has been erased. Now, Sienna and Henry must untangle the giant knot in time, or her parents and all the rest of the Travelers, will be lost forever. One problem: the only way to be successful is for Henry to die.

Meradeth's never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

*She's a Northern California girl who now braves the cold winters in Montana.
*When she's not writing, she's sequencing dead people's
*She’s also an anthropology professor and loves getting people interested in studying humans.
*If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she's terrified of heights.

Find Meradeth Houston online at:
FacebookTwitterInstagramTumblr, Amazon, Goodreads, and of course her blog!