File Under Research: Underwater Statuary
Just in time for summer vacation. "You'll never go in the water again!" Oops, wrong movie franchise. What has me angst-ridden at the mere thought of going into the water is not Jaws! Although, the scene with the 3 men getting drunk and showing off scars is great storytelling. In fact, it's one of my favorite movie scenes.
No, what's in the water this time is far scarier than a shark. At least to me, because while I absolutely love being on the edge of my seat while reading or watching a thriller, I do not read, write, or watch horror.
Several months ago, I ran across this article on Bloody Disgusting (talk about truth in advertising) that freaked me out, so I really shouldn't have clicked the link, but that seemed wimpy, so, I hit play. In 2013, a Friday the 13th fan by the name of Doug Klein found an interesting way to show his love of the man in the hockey mask.
Go on, you know you want to.
I won't be diving into Crystal Lake in Minnesota anytime soon.
And then earlier this month, I ran across a quite different underwater sculpture. I'm fascinated by the idea that people plant statues underwater for our discovery if we're brave enough to dive, but this next sculpture doesn't require a full-on dive. In fact, you can see it from snorkeling depth.
This article I found on Atlas Obscura, which is one of my favorite new sites for cool and interesting stories. Since I'd already been creeped out by the Jason statue, I was a bit hesitant, but turns out, it was safe to click this one. The article discusses the history of the statue, but I find the photos fascinating. The statue is called Christ of the Abyss (the 3rd statue taken from the same mold), and it is located off the Florida keys. The first Christ of the Abyss is in Italy, and the second was given to St. George's (Grenada).
And given those cool and interesting things under the water, I had to find more, which lead to this 10 Weirdest Things Ever Found in the Ocean. All in all, an interesting little rabbit trail through underwater art. And I didn't even have to go diving to experience. :)
Well, now my Youtube recommends is completely jacked. The next recommendation is the 10 Creepiest things ever found in the ocean. Maybe next time...
They had me at the Knights Templar. As a fan of Dan Brown's DaVinci Code and other thriller series discussing the Templar Knights, this Atlas Obscura article on what the Templar's ate is fascinating, especially considering the Templars lived considerably longer than their contemporaries.
The Templar diet was surprisingly modern. They ate meat no more than 3 days per week. The article mentions a Tuesday fast, so no food on that day (yikes!), which leaves Sunday, Thursday, and Friday as days for seared animal flesh. On Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, they ate mostly vegetables, eggs, cheese, and bread. Plus wine.
Let me see if I have this correct:
As they conclude in the Obscura article, "many of these rules resemble modern dietary advice: Lots of vegetables, meat on occasion, and wine in moderation."
It’s all fun and games until someone ends up dead. Oh, wait, that’s a tagline for my books. J
Christmas is my favorite holiday, but when I read recently that the most dangerous part about the holidays was a Christmas tree, I was surprised. Christmas tree fires are some of the most deadly fires. According to the National Association of Fire Protection, “These fires caused an average of 7 deaths, 19 injuries, and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually. ”
It got me to wondering. How dangerous is Christmas? So below, I offer the Top 5 (slightly facetious) dangers of Christmas
You shouldn’t take the risk. Stay home. Read a good book. J
The number one rule of Christmas dinner? It’s going to get messy.
The first time I cooked a turkey, it came out raw inside. I had left the slimy little packet of gravy and gizzards tucked inside. There were witnesses of course, because no great act of stupidity is complete without an audience. I was in the Air Force and it was the first time I hadn’t gone home for Christmas. For reasons I still don’t comprehend, I thought it would be easy. Well, not easy, but... okay. I didn’t expect seven hungry people waiting in my living room for hours!
Mom made it look easy. She had four kids, but that was never enough. She invited all the single people from her work, old family friends, new family friends, and the occasional oddball. More than occasional, really. We had some very eclectic holidays, but the food was always excellent. The turkeys came out browned like something out of a commercial. The homemade cranberry sauce sparkled in the crystal dish we used for holidays. The cold food was cold and the hot food was hot. And there were enough dirty dishes to fill a dishwasher three times over. Messy, but easy.
My first Christmas dinner didn’t go well, so writing An Untouchable Christmas was a little bit about redemption. Come on. If anyone could pull off a perfect dinner, it would be Sofia Capri. She once faced down a mob boss and went hand-to-hand with his lieutenants. After that, dinner with Logan’s family should be a piece a cake. Sofia is convinced it’s going to be a mess:
God, what was wrong with her? No part of her life had prepared her for a traditional Christmas dinner with a real family. Sofia braced her arms on the sink and leaned over; afraid she might puke. She’d only met his family once, and now she was suddenly inviting them to Christmas dinner. That meant his parents, his sister and her family, plus two of Logan’s friends, and two from the book group. Thirteen with Eli, Logan, and Sofia.
The moment he grabbed her from behind, a jolt spiked her nerves. She let out a squeal and half jumped into the sink, knocking her knees into the lower cabinet. “You scared me.”
Logan’s sigh ruffled her hair as he wrapped warm hands around her waist. “I can’t wait for the day you don’t jump every time I touch you.”
“I don’t.” Her back stiffened. She couldn’t help herself. Holiday meal planning had her nerves strung tight, and she couldn’t shake the dread that something worse was coming. No matter that the men who kidnapped her son were dead and gone, evil still existed. The mob didn’t go away.
Sofia and Logan’s first Christmas together doesn’t exactly go according to plan, but one this is certain: This holiday is one she’ll never forget.
Writing the chaotic dinner scene in An Untouchable Christmas, I channeled the Christmases from my childhood. Christmas was a big deal growing up, with my mother doing everything in her power—even when money was tight—to give everyone a “perfect” Christmas; occasionally going into debt to make everything just right. Stockings were filled with ginormous oranges, nuts, and chocolate. I remember doll clothes and Barbie dolls and my very own diary with a lock and key, because heaven knows what kind of saucy secrets a second grader has.
As an adult, I took after my mom, going a little crazy at Christmas. The rest of the year might be red beans and rice with a controlled budget, but Christmas, well Christmas meant pulling out all the stops and occasionally the credit cards. I had tub after plastic tub filled with Christmas decorations, lights, and music. The kids had more presents under the tree than that Dursley kid in the Harry Potter movies. And then I got divorced and my tubs of holiday cheer stayed behind while I moved back to Colorado where I grew up.
The first Christmas I pretended it wasn’t Christmas until the kids came home and we could celebrate together. By the second Christmas, I didn’t even want to pull out the tree I’d found on clearance. Money was tight, and unlike my mother before me, I didn’t have a magic wand to make a Christmas Spectacular out of crayons, glue sticks, and Dollar Store wrapping paper.
Enter our Christmas Fairy Godmother. My mother—the kids called her G—invited us to spend a week with her. I didn’t want to go. That’s the thing I remember, because I wasn’t in a holiday mood and I suppose I didn’t want the shadow of failure to follow me to my mother’s front door, but G insisted, so we went to visit her in Oklahoma. She made all our favorite foods and showered the kids with gifts. She watched the kids while she sent me off to get a pedicure. We went to kids movies and had the kind of Christmas I remember from childhood. It was literally the perfect Christmas because that’s what G excelled at providing.
When I wrote An Untouchable Christmas, I channeled that time in my life, because Sofia has gone from trauma and drama to normal, and she really doesn’t know how to handle normal any more than I knew how to handle Christmas on my own. Sofia is overwhelmed by Logan’s family taking over her kitchen, and the one thing that grounds her is making her grandmother’s cranberry sauce, which is really G’s recipe. Putting her recipe into my Christmas novella is like giving her a piece of immortality. She may be gone now, but every time I boil cranberries for her cranberry sauce, she is with me, helping me to make a perfect Christmas out of crayons, glue sticks, and last year’s wrapping paper.
In An Untouchable Christmas, Sofia’s holiday starts off marginally better than my sad-sack Christmas, until a mysterious phone call before dinner threatens her new security. One this is certain. This is one holiday she will never forget.
I hope you enjoy Sofia and Logan’s encore appearance as much as I enjoyed writing it.
What’s the one Christmas you can’t forget...for all the wrong reasons?
Memory is a tricky thing. Bad memories filter to the top while good memories settle to the bottom of a very deep well and we struggle to keep them alive. The key is to replace the bad memories with good—or drown the bad in that well, whichever works. I’m a violent sort, so I’ll be drowning those suckers. J
Christmases in our house growing up were always good, but that means I have only this vague recollection and warm, fuzzy feelings for the holiday. Well, all but one. The year I turned five, my father was recovering from a major car accident. Money was tight and we ultimately lost the house and Dad’s business to medical expenses.
That was the year someone adopted us. Just for Christmas presents that is. We were the little angels on a Giving Tree. The night before Christmas, a group of men brought what seemed like a truckload of presents for four kids and two adults. They deposited them under the empty tree just like Santa. I bounced on my toes in sheer joy at the mass of goodies. Too young to read, I didn’t know which presents were mine, but my older brother pointed out a ginormous and awkwardly wrapped present labeled “girl, aged 5.” It was bigger than me and taller than my teenage brother. It was mine, mine, mine!
As the men left to bring another load of goodies, I scooted closer to that funny shaped present. I may have poked the side and heard the wrapping crinkle. The finger may have—accidentally of course—punched through a spot in the wrapper. Come on, I was five. What would you do? I looked.
Inside was something soft, brown, and fuzzy. Fur! I couldn’t see the face, but I pictured a smiling bear face on this wonderfully massive gift. After the elves disappeared, Mom noticed a trail of white stuff all over the family room floor. Not just a few drops, but copious amounts of tiny white Styrofoam balls. Everywhere. She followed the trail to that awkwardly wrapped gift where, sure enough, a hole in the toe and wrapping caused it to bleed out all over the house.
She didn’t know I had seen and loved and coveted that fluffy, loveable, stuffed bear, because that would have meant admitting that I’d peeked. So she did what any mother would do. She waited until I went to bed.
Come Christmas morning, there was no awkwardly wrapped giant bear to unwrap. It had disappeared overnight. There were other presents under the tree for “girl, aged 5;” hats and gloves and girlie things, but what I remember most is that giant bear that could have been mine if he hadn’t leaked a trail of stuffing all over the family room floor.
That long ago Christmas may be why I’m a bit fanatical about making Christmas special for my kids. And why I wrote the not-quite-perfect Christmas story for Sofia and Logan. Don’t get me wrong, Logan’s trying to create good memories to drown out the bad of Sofia’s former life, so when the presentfest begins, Eli is in for a giant surprise:
With a squeal, Eli leaped from the table and ran for the tree. Wrapping paper flew as he shredded into the first present, a plastic dinosaur the size of a football. Holding her phone out, Sofia hunkered on the floor and snapped pictures. Dumbfounded by the wild activity, Logan perched on the floor against the sofa. Eli unwrapped several dinos before hitting the jackpot with a dinosaur sanctuary straight from the movies. The delight in his screams lit the house more than the Christmas lights. “Mom.”
“That one is all Logan.”
The boy’s eyes grew larger. “Thanks, Logan.”
“Couldn’t you find something bigger?” Sofia mocked.
“No.” He couldn’t take his eyes off Eli’s joyful face. “But I did try.”
“How long did you spend in the toy store?”
This time, he did turn to her. The teasing glint in her eyes and the lightness on her face hadn’t always been there. He’d done that, he thought, and it was a gold-medal moment. Making Sofia smile was his new goal in life. She deserved all the smiles she could get. “Blake and I might have spent two or three hours in the toy store,” he admitted. He pointed to Eli trying, and failing, to open the sanctuary box. “It was worth it.”
Christmas morning starts off perfect-ish in their house, but a mysterious phone call before dinner threatens more than their holiday celebrations. One thing is for certain. This holiday is one she’ll never forget.
What's your favorite Christmas movie?
“She couldn’t remember the last time she felt embarrassed, but porn in front of a seventy-four year old hitman would do it.” –Vicki Calvetti in Unforgettable
Memory plays a big part in Unforgettable. As much as Vicki tried, she couldn’t forget Blake, her once-upon-a-time boyfriend, but he’s not the only thing she’s tried to forget, and what she can’t remember could get them both killed. It’s too late for Vicki, but we can all use a little help remembering.
But not everything in life is meant to stick in our brains for the next fifty years. So what do you do when you want to forget?
5 tips to help you forget:
What's your favorite Memory Loss technique?
Do you lie?
Not to people. I mean, not intentionally, right? Just the small, comfortable lies that give those around you a soft place to land (wow, look at that haircut!).
No, I'm talking about big lies.
That's right. Do you lie to your workout app?
This came up over dinner with a group of ladies, some of whom admitted they lie to their app so they don't get the "it's been 37 days since your last workout" message. It started me thinking about the ways in which we lie about our exercise habits. For me, sometimes I lie to myself to get on the treadmill:
You only have to get on for 15 minutes.
And most of the time, after 15 minutes, I'm on for the duration. I just needed that soft place to land. That bailout point in case I really hate it as much as I hated the thought of it.
Over the summer and into the fall, I dealt with kidney stones, and because I avoided the doctor, it was much worse than it should have been. The upside of being that sick: I lost 20 pounds.
Now that I'm feeling better, I can feel the weight creeping back. So what's a girl to do?
No, lies won't cut it this time. So I'm going to try something new. People.
You see, it's easy to lie to an app, but people? That's harder, but then again, I was raised on guilt.
So, I'm looking for some accountability partners who are interested in working out together. Separately. Across time zones and countries. I'm not a workout guru and I'm not a doctor, so socialize with us at your own risk. And I mean that. Let's make it social. Everything's easier with the support of friends.
I'm posting this over on my reader group, and you're welcome to join us there. We'll post how we're doing, make it fun and social and we won't lie. Seriously.
Here's the deets:
We start easy:
Cardio (walk, run, bike, swim) a minimum 22 minutes a day 3 days a week
22 pushups a day, every day, which I do in honor of military veterans #22pushupchallenge
8 glasses of water a day (minimum)
Head on over to the Facebook group if you're interested. Or, you know, keep lying to the workout app.
Hemingway wrote standing in front of his typewriter. Twain and many others are famous for writing in bed. What’s with weird writing rituals? Is it like a baseball player never changing his winning socks? Or do we just feel more creative when we’re also a little eccentric?
For me, the rituals put my mind in the right space to write. And if I skip one—especially number 4—The word count suffers. So I’ve learned to respect the process, which for me is:
Those are the rituals I follow on a good writing day. Add caffeine, and I’m good for at least eight hours. :)
Funny story. During the Mercury Retrograde Incident in September 2016, Cindy's original blog disappeared. Five years, gone in a random act of chaos. Now she gets to repopulate her blog world one post at a time. Join her if you dare. :)