Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Just in Time For Halloween, New Poems and Stories at the TTB e-zine!

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OK, sometimes I just have to rhyme…

Folks, do you want some new and absolutely free reading material? Especially from me? (As you’re here at my blog, I’m going to assume the answer is an enthusiastic “yes.”)

Well, look no further. I have a story, “To Exist within Memory,” and a poem, “Break the Dark Lens,” up at the Halloween 2017 edition of the Twilight Times e-zine. (I abbreviated it above as TTB e-zine because it’s part of Twilight Times Books.) In addition, there’s also a chapter reveal for my most recent novel, the LGBT-friendly CHANGING FACES, and there’s an author interview by Mayra Calvani as well — so if you have ever wanted to know more about me or my writing, here you go.

portrait in garden

Mind, if you like what you have read with regards to CHANGING FACES, you can go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and pick up an e-book copy for just ninety-nine cents…and I do hope you’ll consider doing just that.

So go check out the TTB e-zine. Read some free stuff. Then go pick up your copy of CHANGING FACES today, and get to getting…who said every treat on Halloween has to be full of calories, hey?

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 31, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Now Available in E-Book: A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE

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Folks, I’m very happy to be able to finally report that my second novel — and the second novel in the Elfy duology — A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE has been released. It’s available right now at Amazon and OmniLit…the latter will be most useful if you need an e-pub version of the file.

Edited to add: Barnes and Noble link is now live as well. Now returning you to your regularly scheduled post…

ALittleElfyinBigTrouble_medIf you have never seen anything at all about the Elfyverse — or read book one in the Elfy duology, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE — this little blurb may help you with what’s going on:

Young Bruno the Elfy and Sarah, his mostly-human teenage girlfriend, are in deep trouble. Bruno’s Elfy mentor Roberto the Wise is about to be sacrificed by a Dark Elf, and Sarah’s parents have decided to help the Elf rather than the Elfy. Things look bleak and are getting worse by the minute, but Bruno and Sarah have a number of allies — human, Elfy, and ghosts — that the Dark Elf can’t possibly expect. Can young love, desperation, and great unexpected power win out despite it all?

And here’s a short excerpt — note, it first appeared here, as part of the Marketing for Romance Writers Book Hooks blog hop:

Bruno took Sarah’s hand and led her back outside. He looked with his mage senses, and felt nothing; no Elfy magic, no Human magic, and as far as he could tell, no Elf magic, Dark or Bright.

He put up a light shield that should help conceal their voices, and decided it was safe enough to talk for a bit.

“Tomorrow is Baaltinne, Sarah.” Bruno rubbed his fingers through his hair and tried not to look too hard at Sarah. Goddess, she was beautiful. But he had to stay on topic. “That’s your May Day. Tomorrow.” He shook his head and tried not to frown. “How can we get everything together in time to stop Dennis the Dark Elf?”

“I have faith in you,” she said. Her eyes darkened. Bruno felt as if he were falling, before she gently brushed her lips against his.

————————— End Excerpt ————————————-

If this has intrigued you (and of course I hope it has), but you aren’t sure you will like my book yet, I also have three sample chapters available at Twilight Times Books’ website — here’s the link for that: http://www.twilighttimesbooks.com/ElfyinBigTrouble_ch1.html

A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE continues to make me laugh. I’ve enjoyed writing about Bruno, Sarah, Reverend Samuel and his family, Lady Keisha, even Dennis the Dark Elf…and I hope to write more about them, ’cause I have a hunch their stories are not over.

At any rate, most of you know the labor of love that kept me working on Elfy for years. I’m ecstatic that both halves of my novel have now been published, and I hope you’ll enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.

Anyway, both novels are available now as e-books. So what are you waiting for? Go grab a copy — or copies — today! (And be sure to tell your friends. ‘Cause, really…how can you go wrong?)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 21, 2015 at 7:22 pm

Welcome to the Elfyverse…

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Thank you for stopping by my blog, which is called either “Barb Caffrey’s Blog,” or “the Elfyverse.”

Why two names? Well, I figured it would be easier for people to find me if they used my name. But I’ve been writing about Elfys, Elfs, Dwarves, and more for over ten years — thus “the Elfyverse.”

As for what I do here, it’s simple: I talk about anything I like.

I’ve been blogging now for over five years. (Here’s a link to my first blog post, if you don’t believe me.) Over that time, I’ve talked writing, publishing, music, sports, current events, politics . . . anything that I feel like talking about.

So while you’re here, expect the unexpected . . . because you never quite know what I’m about to say.

Please feel free to stop by any time you like. And tell your friends about all my work, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (Barnes and Noble link is here) and the first two stories of my late husband Michael’s, “A Dark and Stormy Night” and “On Westmount Station,” all available at Amazon.

And remember . . . support a real writer.

Written by Barb Caffrey

June 9, 2014 at 5:21 am

My novel, “An Elfy on the Loose,” Is Now Available

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It’s been a long time in coming, but my first novel, AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE (now with a subtitle of “Book One of the ELFY duology”) is now available at Amazon.com and will be available soon at all major e-book retailers.

**Edited to add: AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE has also “gone live” at BN.com (Barnes and Noble’s website), as Paul Howard told me in the comments. If you have a Nook and want to read AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, now’s your chance!

Now back to our regularly scheduled post.**

I’m very pleased that AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE is now out, even though I hadn’t expected it to “go live” on Amazon tonight, of all nights — but as it has, I figured I’d best skedaddle and get a blog post up, pronto.

For those of you who want a sample, please go here and read the first five chapters of AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE . . . then, I hope you’ll go to Amazon and get the e-book, as it’s on sale for a limited time at the low price of $3.99.

Because I’m a new author, and because I’m decidedly not well known, it is anyone’s guess as to whether or not AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE will do well enough to warrant an actual “dead tree” edition (that is, a paper edition).

For all I know, this e-book copy is all that we’re likely to get. So I hope you’ll enjoy it in the spirit intended.

In other words, if you want to read my novel because you’ve been intrigued about Bruno the Elfy and Sarah his human companion and want to know all about Sarah’s house (which is an Elfy trap of major proportions), or if you want to figure out why a Dark Elf would go to Northern California, or if you even want to know why Bruno’s mentor Roberto is worth saving despite being more than a bit of an butthead sometimes, now’s your chance.

I also hope that if you read and enjoy AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, you won’t be averse to letting people know my book exists. Because I need all the help I can get . . . and I’m not shy about saying so.

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 12, 2014 at 12:34 am

Johnny Weir, Individuality, and You

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Recently, I’ve been watching the American version of “Dancing with the Stars.” I had stopped watching regularly a few years ago (though I would catch it if I happened to be near a TV and someone else was watching), mostly because all the storylines seemed the same.

But not this year.

Nope. This year had my favorite figure skater, Johnny Weir, partnered with a new pro, Britt Stewart (who’s Black, dignified, and quite talented). And the two of them danced like nobody’s business; they were a dynamic, engaging, and energetic pair that did more interesting things in ten weeks than I’d seen in the previous five or six years on the show.

Now, why do you think that was?

(I know I’ve been asking myself this question, anyway, ever since Johnny and his partner Britt were eliminated earlier this week.)

My view is this: Johnny Weir knows who he is, as an individual. And Britt obviously knows who she is, too. They both understood each other, down to the ground, and because of that, were able to work together and create some truly amazing dance routines. (Johnny and Britt’s tribute to Amy Winehouse, for example, was simply stunning. And that’s only one of the fine dances the two of them created together.)

“But Barb,” you say. “What’s this about being an individual, and how does that apply to me?”

It’s simple. The better you know yourself, the better work you can do. And Johnny and Britt showed that, over and over again, during this season on “Dancing with the Stars.”

You know, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, that I am a firm believer in being your authentic self. I think it wastes time and energy that most of us don’t have to keep up a front. I also think the better you know yourself, the easier it is to get things done.

If you use Johnny and Britt as examples — and I think you should — you can extrapolate a little. For example, the two of them, together, were able to bring a certain style and verve into the ballroom. Johnny is more of an extrovert when he performs, while Britt has a quiet dignity to her. The two, together, were more than the sum of their parts.

And it all started because Britt apparently decided, when meeting Johnny for the first time, to use that uniqueness of his — not to mention hers (though she probably takes that for granted, as she can’t see herself from the outside anymore than any of the rest of us) — to create movement and magic.

Granted, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Johnny’s been a figure skater since the age of twelve. He knows about movement. He studied some dance (though I think it was ballet) because that helped him express himself through movement on the ice.

And knowing about movement helped him a great deal, I think. It meant Britt did not have to teach him from Ground Zero.

However, it also may have hampered him a bit, because ballet — and the associated movements of that dance — are nothing like either ballroom dance or Latin dance. They’re not even that close to “freestyle” contemporary dance.

What that meant for Johnny was, he had to unlearn at the same time as he learned. And that’s tough to do.

How do I know this? Well, Johnny once said, about learning a new technique for one of his jumps, that he was “old.” At the age of twenty-five or twenty-six, he said this. (Chronologically, of course, that was just silly. But with the wear and tear of figure skating, I’m sure he did feel old.) And he admitted, at the time, it was not easy to unlearn the previous technique.

(I probably should say “jettison,” but learning is not like that. It stays with you. It can’t truly be jettisoned. You can only use it, or not, or get past it, or not. But I digress.)

So, Britt taught Johnny, as well as helped him correct various issues, and worked with him and his uniqueness from the get-go. (Maybe all of the pro dancers do this, but it seems to me as a longtime viewer of “Dancing with the Stars” that it was far more pronounced in Johnny’s case.)

Being an individual, see, has its charms as well as its quirks. You can do more, if you know exactly who you are. (Again, I think it has something to do with refusing to waste your energy on non-essentials.) Add in the fact that when you’re doing more, you are giving your all to it rather than holding some back to “save face.” And top it off with a good, healthy dose of self-skepticism, for that matter, as that will keep you from getting too arrogant to be borne. (That last has nothing to do with Johnny Weir or his partner, Britt, but it certainly should be factored in by the rest of us.)

Anyway, the points of this blog are simple:

  1. Be yourself. Be unique.
  2. Don’t put on fronts, as they waste your time and energy.

That’s the way to “win” at life, you know. Because that’s the way you will be remembered: as the unique, powerful individual you are, who touched many lives and did many things and knew many people and tried your level best.

Anything less than that just isn’t worth bothering about.

Growing Pains

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I bet you, like me, thought that once you became an adult, you’d be done with growing pains.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Because things continue to happen, regardless of your age and experience, that broaden you — or don’t — and you can’t help but feel pain during these experiences.

You may be wondering why I’m writing this. I will admit that I am frustrated, upset, worried, have been sick for most of the past week, and am tired of 2020. But that’s not all of it…that’s just a part.

Mostly, I am wondering if there will be a day where I can hug my family members again. Or a day where I can greet a good friend with a hug or even a kiss (on the cheek).

Because one of my best friends came up with Covid-19, I now can’t visit her even though she’s successfully — as far as I can tell — gone through the 14-day quarantine. The fact is, I am around both of my parents daily. They feel the risk is now too great to see her, and if I picked her, I would not only have to move out of my home (as I share it with family), I’d not be able to see my family at all.

Such are the problems of 2020.

In addition, the guy I like lives in a different country. I don’t have any idea if I am going to be able to visit him anytime soon. This has put a strain on our developing relationship, and makes me wonder if we have it in us for the long haul.

And while yes, there are still good things going on in the world despite the pandemic, it’s all these frustrating things that are on my mind.

As my counselor put it a while ago, “It’s social distancing. It’s not supposed to be social isolation.”

Sometimes I wonder how well I’m doing with that, that’s all.

Anyway, I hope you all are staying safe, healthy, and sane…and are reading some great books. (I hope to talk about one such book soon, Leo Champion’s HUNTRESS OF THE STREETS. But that’s for another day.) Let me know how you’re doing in the comments…please?

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 16, 2020 at 7:56 am

Sunday Musings: Self-improvement, One Day at a Time…

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Folks, I keep having one thought running through my head. And as it’s Sunday, it’s time to talk about it.

Too many of us coast through life. Maybe we take the easy way out too much. Maybe we don’t look hard at ourselves, and our motivations. And maybe–just maybe–we are the poorer for doing that.

(You know I think so, or I’d not be writing this blog. But I digress.)

We must learn how to work hard on ourselves, every day, and to become the best version of ourselves.

For example, if you are a great bricklayer, that means working hard every day to lay your bricks, maybe finding faster or easier ways to do it, or perhaps better materials with which to do it. The one thing you don’t do is to rest on your laurels, because once you say, “This is the best I can possibly be, and I can’t lay any bricks better than I’m already laying them,” that’s when your progress as a human being comes to a screeching halt.

I can hear some of you now, though, asking this question. “Barb, what the Hell are you talking about? I don’t lay bricks, so why should I care about the bricklayer?”

(It’s a metaphor. But again, I digress.)

See, the bricklayer in this example is doing their best to improve every day, and improving their art (of bricklaying, in this case) matters. It gives a shine to everything else they do all day. It gives them a sense of purpose, a sense of satisfaction, of a job well done. And all of that matters, because it all helps them to learn more, be more, and grow more as a human being.

But that’s not really what you asked, is it? What you asked was, “I’m not them, so why in the Hell should I care?” And to that, I have two reasons, one transactional–that is, do it because it will help you–and one that’s not.

The transactional reason is as follows: While you may not know the bricklayer, he may know you. And if you are rude or uncaring to him, or his family, or his friends, that will ultimately hurt your reputation and standing in the community.

But I prefer to use the non-transactional one, which goes like this: “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (Jesus said that, and it’s the best reason to do things that I know.)

In short, we are all worthy of care. Because we are all doing our best to learn, grow, change, improve ourselves, and/or survive while doing all of the aforementioned every single blessed day.

As it’s Sunday, I would like to ask you all to do just one thing today. It’s a hard thing, sometimes. But it’s a needed thing, too.

Be kind to each other, even when you’d rather not.

What did you think of this blog? Tell me about it in the comments! (I like to know someone’s reading, as otherwise I feel like I’m shouting into the big, dark Void.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 8, 2020 at 3:42 am

Bemusement City

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The past week or two at Chez Caffrey have been a period of much bemusement (hence the title, above). Or, to put it another way, much of what I’ve seen and heard hasn’t made much sense.

A friend — and her family — came up with Covid-19, for starters. This was awful. So far, they haven’t had any huge problems, but as most in the family have additional health concerns (as most of us do when we get past our teen years; don’t judge), this has concerned me quite a bit.

The reason this doesn’t make much sense is because in many ways, this family did everything right.

Of course, masks can only protect you so much. (And that “so much” isn’t nearly enough, no matter what the experts might say, if a family that mostly does everything right can still get Covid.)

The election angst is still with me, too. As of this writing, many states still have ballots outstanding, and my own Wisconsin is one of them. This prolongs the agony, and makes me worry that we still may see possible unrest here. (As Wisconsin is a true purple state, if there’s going to be unrest anywhere in the U.S. over this election, it’s likelier to be here than many other places.)

So, we may have just had a blue moon — could this be why my friend’s family all came down with Covid? — but much of the world remains the same. Much of the U.S. remains the same, too…deeply divided, with too many people thinking ill of too many other people to find common ground anywhere, or so it seems to me.

I want to hold on to hope, mind you. I believe hope matters. (Granted, I’m not the only one by far to believe this. Otherwise, why would Pandora’s Box contain hope?)

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now: doing my best to hold on to hope, and concentrate on the things that have gone right, no matter how small those things might be.

But I’d be lying if I told you that I see a sea change on the horizon, because I don’t.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 4, 2020 at 2:17 am

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Sunday Musings: One Step at a Time…

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Well, it’s Sunday again, so I figured I’d better write something. Here we go…

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a number of issues. The world at large seems stifling…the fact that Covid-19 rages on, and that “real life” remains so constrained, definitely does not help.

A week or so ago, my father told me, “So, what’s the big deal? Your life hasn’t changed that much since the pandemic.” His view was that I mostly do everything I’ve always done, except for wearing a mask while I do it.

Maybe that’s true. But it doesn’t feel that way.

As a writer, I observe things more keenly than most. And what I’ve observed is that societally speaking, we seem to be in a free fall. We’re tired, we’re frustrated, we’re angry, we’re definitely not happy…and the few who usually try to find bright spots mostly seem to be muzzling themselves. (Except maybe for posting various cat and dog pictures; they’re nice, but don’t make up for everything else.)

I know I usually try to concentrate on something positive, or uplifting, or at least interesting. And the past few months, I’ve been in a rut of my own that has made it hard for me to do any of that.

Why? Well, I think part of it is because 2020 has been so difficult. Everything I’d wanted to accomplish has been slowed significantly. And that’s extremely vexing.

One of my writer-friends sent me an essay that I wish I could find right now. The essay pointed out that sometimes, rage is your friend. It may stop you from writing in the short-term, but providing you do not give up, the rage can give you enough energy to keep going until you can write again.

But in case rage doesn’t do it for you, consider it from a different angle.

A book I read years ago called THE QUOTIDIAN MYSTERIES discusses just how these fallow periods in our lives can lead to greater creativity in the end. We seem to need these empty spaces with regards to our creativity for some reason, just as fields need to be left fallow every so often.

In other words, we have to trust the process.

And speaking solely for myself, I have to believe that this fallow season will come to an end, and my creativity will reassert itself as soon as it possibly can. And providing I stick it out, the words — and the stories — will come back full-force just as soon as they possibly can.

What are you doing during the pandemic to best utilize your creativity? Or at least keep yourself from running around, screaming? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 25, 2020 at 3:02 am

Sunday Musings Regarding the United States, Division, and the Upcoming Election

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It’s been awhile since I last wrote one of these Sunday Musings posts, so I thought it was time for another. Enjoy!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how the United States came to be so divided. (The idea that we’re supposed to be united despite our divisions and differences really seems to have gotten lost beside the wayside, lately.) And the only thing I can come up with is, some people — maybe the vast majority of people — want to believe in their own version of reality.

Now, you might be asking, “Barb, what the Hell are you on about this time?”

It’s simple, really. Most people, whether their politics are conservative or liberal, want to believe whatever it is that makes them feel the best about themselves and their circumstances. So whatever narrative they see has a great deal to do with their own lives, and nothing else need apply.

Should it be this way?

I’d like to say no. Because facts are what they are, and you can’t choose to only believe some facts rather than others. And optimally, everyone should do a good deal of research into political candidates — almost the same as if you’re vetting a personal friend for a job you’re not sure they’re up for, but want them to try for anyway.

The thing is, here in the United States, and perhaps around the world as well, there are many people working more than one job. Or they are working way more than forty hours at the one job they have, to support their families.

In other words, they are exhausted, and they don’t have time to do the research if they wanted to. So they pick whomever they think they can hate the least, and call it a day.

While I understand exhaustion quite well — having fibromyalgia as I do, that comes with the territory — I still wish people would challenge their own assumptions more often. Because that way, it’s easier to get out of ruts; in fact, if you do challenge your own assumptions regularly, you may never fall into a rut at all.

I also wish that we could somehow get back to where we were ten or fifteen years ago, where people didn’t choose their friends solely by whether or not they fit their political beliefs. There are so many things that unite us that it pains me to see unnecessary divisions making things worse.

It’s almost like people thought after 2008, when Barack Obama was elected, that everything would now be wonderful. (You may remember that I conscientiously objected at the time to that point of view.) And because it didn’t happen, they grew disenchanted with anyone who still wanted to see hope in any form.

Yet somehow, we went from the cult of personality that Barack Obama had about him to the cult of personality that Donald Trump now embodies. And we went from “Yes, we can!” to “Hell no, we can’t!”

What I would like to see, going forward, is that we all realize we have more in common with each other than not. We want safe streets. Good quality, affordable health care. Schools that do more than just warehouse kids, and actually teach them usable skills. And I’d like to see us have a dialogue that shows we’re paying attention to one another, rather than just dismissing everything the other side (or sometimes, sides) says out of hand because it doesn’t automatically fit our worldview.

That said, some things are flat-out wrong. Racism is one of them. Sexism is another. Unnecessary fear regarding the LGBTQ community is another.

But you know what is the most wrong of all? Stupidity.

So I urge you, today, to reach out to your friends, neighbors, and others. Try to see where you have things in common. Do good things for one another, if you can. Or at least listen and care if you can’t.

Regardless of who you vote for, you need to start looking to re-form a community around yourself. So we can all feel like we matter, and are important.

That’s what being a citizen of the greatest nation on Earth is supposed to be about, rather than “us vs. them.”

Writing, the Universe, and Everything…

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…or something like that.

I’ve not blogged much the past few months, and I thought I should come over here and try to explain why as best I can. (As I do have regular readers, and some do ask me, “Barb, what’s up with your blog? Don’t you have anything to say these days?”)

Well, it’s a combination of things.

First, my health kind of took a nosedive at the beginning of the year, and I haven’t fully regained my strength. This has affected me with everything except my editing, because I need more energy to write (either music or words) than I do to edit. (Why? I don’t know. It just seems to be that way.)

Second, I have been editing a lot. This is a very good thing, and I’m happy to have the work. However, I have a tendency while editing of blocking out nearly everything else, including my own writing, as the manuscript I’m working on takes priority.

Third, the crises — plural of crisis — in the United States have made me furious at times, frustrated at many times, despairing some of the time, and wondering what the Hell is going on nearly all of the time. I can’t help but notice that there’s all sorts of unrest, and I wonder if we’re going to be able to have a peaceful and quiet election due to some of the things that have happened. (The latest being a plot to kidnap the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, by a right-wing militia group that seemed to believe she was a traitor. Why they believed this is beyond my comprehension. And even if they believed this fervently, they should’ve let the authorities handle it, not taken matters into their own hands.)

Then, there’s the pandemic–where my state of Wisconsin continues to be among the worst in the nation for community spread of the coronavirus. My family is on edge. There’s a lot of anxiety. Hospitals are near capacity or at/above capacity in many places. A sort of “tent city” has been set up again in Milwaukee for overflow Covid cases…and the only reason Wisconsin hasn’t been quarantined, I think, is because of the obstructionists among the Republicans in our heavily gerrymandered state legislature. (Wisconsin is a true purple state, where it’s closely split among Democrats and Republicans. But somehow, the state assembly — our lower house — is 2/3s R, while our Senate is also controlled by the Rs but not with as much of a margin.) These folks among the Rs do not want to do anything, at all. Except sue over the mask mandate, or sue because they don’t like something the governor is doing, or sue because they want to block vote-by-mail if it comes in after the day of the election (which some of it will, considering how the mail service has been bollixed lately).

I can’t help but see all that, and be appalled.

I think our duly elected representatives should be able to do better than this. Yet they can’t. Not in the state, not at the federal level (where the Hell is the second stimulus bill? Sitting on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk again, no doubt…and him a Republican. Somehow I sense a theme there. But I digress.)

Then there was that debacle of a Presidential debate a bit over a week ago, which also didn’t give me any feeling that the current President, Donald Trump, took his job seriously. (He certainly didn’t take that debate seriously, interrupting and sounding like a petulant child as much as he could. And going off on tangents, as often as he possibly could, some of which made no sense whatsoever.)

With all that going on, maybe it’s not that surprising that my writing has been slowed way, way down.

That said, I recently have been able to do more writing. I have finally figured out how to prioritize my writing — something that has eluded me for years — and I’m getting more done, both with writing music and words. I’ve told myself that maybe my writing will never matter to anyone but me — as my sales record, thus far anyway, is (for lack of a better term) dismal. But as it does matter to me, I am going to keep trying.

And as I’ve said before, writing — whether music or words — helps me function. I feel better when I write. And I also feel better when I take my own needs seriously, and prioritize them, as I ought…another theme here, huh?

Anyway, the point of this blog is mostly to tell you that I’m alive, I’m still writing, and that I do have hope. I’m not sure why I have hope. I’ve seen and done and lived through so much stuff, and am continuing to see and do and live through even more stuff, that there have been times I’ve thought, “Where is that light at the end of the tunnel I’ve heard so much about? And why the Hell can’t I find it?”

Still. I have hope. And hope matters to me, as does my writing and any creative pursuits I’m able to pursue at the moment (obviously, playing any concerts is out for the foreseeable future due to worries/fears about Covid-19 and how it could allow audiences to more easily contract the virus).

I’m still here. I’m doing what I can. I’m looking for as many positives as there might be, from enjoying a drive-thru hamburger to hearing some of my favorite music, quite unexpectedly, when I’m out and about. In this way, I will overcome as many obstacles as possible.

So, the state of the Elfyverse — or at least writing, the universe, and everything — is stable. And I will try to blog more often, honest…at least to let you all know I’m alive.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 9, 2020 at 5:45 am

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Hold on to Hope, Despite it All…

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It’s been hard for me lately to hold on to hope. I admit that freely.

Why? Well, the world situation — the coronavirus in particular — is depressing. And the situation in the United States is even worse; Covid-19 is running rampant in many states, including my own Wisconsin. Hospitals here are getting overrun in some areas, and because of that some very little-used rural hospitals are getting a plethora of patients sent out to them. Then there’s the presidential election, which bids fair to become “who can throw the most mud and make it stick,” the wretched economy, which hasn’t bounced back to pre-Covid levels, the huge amount of unemployed people, the foreclosures and evictions because people don’t have any money…the list goes on and on.

All of these things contribute to my feeling of overall wretchedness. Because I can’t do much about them.

The thing is, giving in to despair and hopelessness — even if they’re caused by damned good reasons — doesn’t get you anywhere.

So, how can you hold on to hope, when everything you see seems gray, depressing, frustrating, and anxiety-inducing? I don’t have all the answers to this, but I can tell you a few things that have worked for me.

  1. Reading a book for no other reason than it makes you smile
  2. Watching a movie, because it takes your mind off your troubles
  3. Do something for someone else whenever possible, even if no one seems to appreciate it
  4. Take a long drive in the countryside, and sing along to your favorite songs at the top of your lungs
  5. Writing for the pleasure of it
  6. Playing or composing music
  7. Talking to a good friend (or two, or six)
  8. Petting your dog, cat, or anyone else’s friendly dog or cat whenever possible

All of these things remind me that life still has good things, and good people, in it; they remind me that I have more to do, and that I can maybe have a little fun while I do what is needful. And they remind me that hope, indeed, is still possible…and still worthy of pursuit, even during a time where all seems dark, grim, depressing, and awful.

What do you do to remind yourself that hope is still possible? Tell me about it in the comments!

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 1, 2020 at 6:14 am

Voting, Nightmare Scenarios, and the 2020 Election

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Folks, this past week, for me at least, has been one of great dismay.

After the death of ground-breaking Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Republican Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), didn’t even wait a full day before saying “her seat will be filled as soon as possible.” (This is my best paraphrase of the many things he did say.) As I said in my last blog, this is contrary to what McConnell did the last time a Justice — in that case, Antonin Scalia — passed away in an election year, as at that time he more or less filibustered the nomination of then-President Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, for the Supreme Court.

But that wasn’t all that was so disheartening out of Washington, DC, this past week.

Nope. We also got a very oddly worded, meandering comment by President Donald Trump (a Republican, in case anyone has forgotten), saying that he felt the ballots are a “disaster” and that he shouldn’t have to worry about leaving. (This was in response to a question about the peaceful transfer of power, something that has been a hallmark of American democracy since its inception.)

Because of that, a good friend of mine discussed with me the following scenario, which comes straight out of the Constitution: Trump is apparently leaning hard on Article 2, which would in effect throw the election (if disputed) to the House of Representatives. Every state there gets one and only one vote. And there are more Republican-led states than not, so it’s quite possible that even with a landslide victory for Joe Biden (a Democrat), Trump could still conceivably stay in office.

My response to this, aside from incredulousness of course, was as following: “If there’s a landslide for Biden and his VP pick, Kamala Harris, there’s likely to be a Democratic Senate along with a Democratic House. Trump will be impeached in short order, for pulling something like that, and he’ll have bought himself a maximum of six to nine months. What’s the point of that?”

My friend assured me that to Trump, every day in office counts. It gives him and his family more chances to amass power (and, I suppose, wealth). And, of course, the Constitution doesn’t allow for any sitting President to be arrested on any charges, anywhere in the world…mostly because the rather naïve belief was that anyone terrible enough to be charged with anything would be impeached in short order, and then no longer out of reach of the legal system.

(Ah, the innocence of the Constitutional framers. They could not have conceived of the situation of 2020, nor the naked partisanship of the Republican Party as led by Trump and McConnell. They knew naked partisanship, mind; how not? But they didn’t necessarily understand that some people are just immoral, and will grasp power for its own ends just because. Or maybe they did, but figured there would be enough good people to oppose such a power grab in the Senate…but woe betide us, as there aren’t.)

The idea that my vote, your vote, your parents’ votes, your friends’ votes, and even your enemies’ votes won’t be likely to be fairly counted because counting the votes is not in the current President’s best interest bothers me greatly. It is undemocratic and unAmerican. And it also flies in the face of Trump’s followers, because most of them voted for him believing he would be a capable President and behave as Presidents do…that is, if they get voted out, they leave, peaceably, and let the next President take over.

Even though Trump did not win the popular vote last time, he did win in the Electoral College. This still reflects that, at that time, Trump was respecting conventional norms; his was a legal way through, and also an ethical way through. It wasn’t a preferred way through — most Presidents prefer to win the popular vote and the electoral college, if they can — but it was both legal and ethical. And he did win many votes, though not the most, as Hillary Clinton led by over three million votes overall.

In the situation I’ve described, where the election is not in doubt and Biden has won by swamping Donald Trump, but there are many legal challenges — so many, a slate of electors from each state cannot be chosen in a timely manner — we’d be thrown to Article 2 of the Constitution. And while that is completely legal, it is not ethical. Nor is it moral, to overturn the overwhelming will of the voters like that, which is why up until now it’s never been tried.

This year, it may be, though. And the prospect of it vexes me greatly.

The thing is, something tells me this is being thrown out as a red herring. It’s being thrown out to suppress the will of the voters. It’s being thrown out there to make people believe their vote doesn’t matter. That nothing they do will ever matter. And that there’s no way to overcome the Trump Machine/Republican Party as led by Trump/McConnell…even by voting them out.

My belief, therefore, is that we MUST vote. (I want everyone to vote, even if you still believe Trump is wonderful in every way and deserves a second term despite his obvious mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.) We have to vote. We have to show what our will is, and trust that there are enough good people out there to overcome the bad ones — whomever or whatever they may be, and whomever and whatever they try to do — and do our civic duty despite all efforts to depress us and make us too despondent to do anything at all.

And if worse comes to worst, and Trump stays in due to using Article 2 of the Constitution to blatantly disrespect the will of the people, I’ll have to trust that somehow, some way, the ship will be righted. And that we will not slide further into autocracy, much less a straight-up dictatorship, with a second, undeserved in this scenario, presidency.

What do you think of my nightmare scenario? Tell me about it in the comments!

Justice Ginsburg Dies, and the U.S. Goes Crazy…**

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**at least, the internet world. (Are there any others? /sarcasm)

The last few days have been surreal. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a trailblazing lawyer and U.S. Supreme Court judge, has passed away at age 87. She was possibly one of the few jurists in the nation most people trusted; they might not like her, or like her viewpoints, but they trusted her to come at them from a judicial/legal standpoint. And her death is a great loss to the nation, much less to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS, for short).

“But Barb, all you’ve explained so far is that Justice Ginsburg has died. What is this part about the United States supposedly going crazy about?”

It’s simple, dear readers. She was needed at this time and place. Despite her advanced age, and her long-time battle with cancer, her clear-headed nature and trustworthiness were a Godsend for the American people. Her death means that the current President of the United States (POTUS, for short), Donald Trump, can now appoint a new Supreme Court Justice even though there’s only forty-five days until the next presidential election.

Which wouldn’t seem that bad, until you consider your recent history.

In 2016, the Republican Party forced then-President Obama to hold a SCOTUS seat vacant until the next election. They did nothing for nine months, at all. And they said it was because they wanted the people to decide.

Now, the Republican Party, which is in power, feels they can replace a judge on the Supreme Court with less than two months to go until the next election. Their reasoning (rather spurious, to my mind) is that last time, the Rs held only the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, not the Presidency. This time, they hold the Senate and the Presidency (but not the House).

If you fail to see why this is acceptable, join the club.

**The only thing that comes to mind when I think about this whole situation is Disturbed’s song “Down with the Sickness.” (Just felt I should throw that in there. Moving along…)

Me, I see it as rank hypocrisy. And here’s why…Mitch McConnell, who was the Senate Majority Leader in 2016 and is still the Senate Majority Leader today, seemingly wants to do this so fast because Trump could lose this election. But if McConnell and the Rs can ram through another judge before Trump leaves office, they can affect laws for decades to come.

And power, after all, comes before consistency. /sarcasm (mine)

Note that it usually takes far more than forty-five days to find a qualified person (usually someone who’s already a judge, but not always), get that person through Senate confirmation (even when your party is in power, this can be an ordeal), and onto SCOTUS. But who the Hell cares about finding the right justice for SCOTUS, when it’s all about the power?

(And yes, this time, I wrote that without any sarcasm at all.)

I can tell you one thing. The people of the United States know what hypocrisy looks like. Tastes like. Smells like. And most, regardless of party, do not want to partake in hypocritical things or use hypocritical means for any reason.

Why? Because most of them have endured this in their own lives. And they know it’s wrong.

Plus, they know that in general, no one party stays in power forever. And if one party — in this case, the Rs — treats the other party (in this case, the Ds) badly, that means it’s justified — or at least justifiable — if the Ds later treat the Rs with as much vitriol and condescension as they’ve just seen themselves.

Because make no mistake about it. Justice Ginsburg died yesterday evening. And today, McConnell has already said he will get President Trump’s nominee a fair hearing. In the next forty-five days.

Yep. “Down with the sickness” is the only thing that keeps going through my head, here. Moving on…

Anyway, I do not believe in hypocrisy. And I do think it should take any party or any person more than forty-five days to put a new judge on SCOTUS as it’s a lifetime appointment.

And in the midst of all this, Justice Ginsburg’s remarkable life is being given short shrift. As is her stated final wish, as dictated by her granddaughter, which was, “Please wait to fill my seat until after the election.”

To say I find that infuriating, much less maddening, much less frustrating, much less despair and anguish-inducing, is an extreme understatement.

So, for those of you trying not to go crazy right now, I want you to think of this. The wishes of the dead usually are respected if they make sense. And in this case, they do.

I also want you to think about this: We, as people, need to stand up and say, “No more of this nonsense, please.” Because if it’s wrong for a Democratic President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (nine months out), it’s just as wrong for a Republican President to fill a SCOTUS seat in an election year (forty-five days out).

And if this is allowed, don’t come back to me and say, when the next Democratic President takes office, “Oh, he shouldn’t do that! It’s hypocritical!” Because you’ll have ventured all your dignity, ethics, and morals already, and you’ll have no philosophical “leg” to stand on. At all.