Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Archive for October 2021

Another Day, Another…

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I figured I’d best drop a wee “bloglet” here, to let you all know I’m still alive.

While I’ve had many things that I’ve wanted to talk about, I’ve simply been running out of time lately. I finished one edit, and am working on several more. (As for most people, work comes before everything else.) I’ve also been dealing with my health. And the best guess any of the doctors I’ve seen has as to why I feel so lousy beyond the usual suspects (which include fibromyalgia) is that I may have an acute allergy of some sort.

Now, I’ve lived with a particularly bad bee sting/wasp sting allergy for years, so I know allergies are no joke. (Michael also had some allergies to egg whites, banana skins but not the bananas inside providing there was no skin or oil left on the banana, and tree nuts, so I’m aware of these issues as well.) I also get the “free and clear” laundry detergent, use the “free and clear” fabric softener (though I have found one of the Downy regular ones — the extra-large sheets — doesn’t set off any skin issues), and try to avoid things that give me indigestion on the off chance it may also be some sort of allergy. (Thus my avoidance of artichokes.)

So, next week I get to talk with the allergist’s office to see about setting up an appointment to be evaluated there.

I’m also taking a low-dose oral steroid (as the doctor feels my infection is gone, but everything remains inflamed in there), working to tolerance (oh, how I hate that phrase), and hoping I’ll regain enough energy soon to play my musical instruments as well as write fiction and poetry again.

I’m also looking forward to seeing some old friends over the weekend, as they’re passing through my neck of the woods on a driving trip. It’ll be good to see them, as I haven’t seen them in several years.

So, for the moment, I remain in a holding pattern, health-wise. I will try everything the doctor suggested, though, to get my sinuses to stop giving me fits…and hope that the allergist has some guidance for me (as I already take OTC allergy meds) that will do some good as well.

What’s going on with you and yours? Tell me about it in the comments! (That way I won’t feel like I’m shouting into the void again.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 30, 2021 at 2:36 am

Enough is Enough I was Sexually Assaulted at Work

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I am sharing this to boost the frequency. This poor teacher was assaulted by a student, didn’t get any help at all, and many students filmed this. (I said in a comment that I hope this will get her some sort of vindication.)

Teachers have a tough job. When they get assaulted, the police need to get there. (Whether they are upset at the school board for removing the police in the schools or not, what does that have to do with this poor woman?) When they file a report, the report should be filed properly. And when they tell their higher-ups (school principals and vice principals, probably), they should not only be believed, but should be helped so this will never happen again.

urbanesl

Yesterday I texted a fellow union representative to ask how she was doing. I had heard there was a pretty big assault at her building and wanted to lend support. I was stunned when she replied. “I am not ok, I was sexually assaulted.” I told her that I would do anything I could to help her, and offered my blog as a way to share what happened. These are her words. This is her story.

On Friday, October 8, 2021, I was sexually assaulted at work.

After calling 911 repeatedly, reporting in person to the Public Safety Building, and waiting 7 hours to file my police report, I’ve been told that it’s now missing.

I was failed by my workplace and again by my city.

I have nowhere left to turn.

This is my story.

I am a high school English teacher in Rochester, New York.

I work in…

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Written by Barb Caffrey

October 21, 2021 at 11:36 pm

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Today’s Shout Into the Void (AKA “the Pandemic Blues”)

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Folks, when I don’t know what to say, I turn to “shouting into the void.” This reminds me that even if my words are not understood, much less heard, they still have value.

That seems paradoxical, doesn’t it? (Maybe it is.)

It can be hard to reach a certain age, as a woman. People ignore you. They look right past you. They don’t see you.

But I am here, whether they see me or not. I’m here, and doing what I can, whether anyone else understands it, or not. I’m able to exert my influence — such as it is — on this blog, and point out that every life has value and worth.

I don’t know if you’re like me, and sometimes feel invisible. (Or at best, visible, ignorable, and misunderstood.) But I do know that the stories I write best are the ones where folks who’ve always felt like misfits find their homes and families (not necessarily their families of birth, either; these are their families of the heart).

The heroes and heroines I’ve come up with often felt ignorable, isolated, looked past, misunderstood, and frustrated.

Maybe it’s just this lengthy pandemic, but I’m tired of being misunderstood, ignored, looked past, and frustrated.

One of my best friends told me lately that she believes I should remember that writing is fun, and enjoy what I’m doing. Don’t stress so much about low word-counts. Don’t worry so much that my energy — which has been sapped by the lengthy pandemic, among other things — isn’t able to be consistently applied to writing, either.

Her message was very simple: Do what you can, as you can. And don’t forget who you are.

She also went on to point out that my illnesses — fibromyalgia among them — do not define me. They may limit me, at times. But they are not the sum total of all I am, much less all that I will ever be.

At any rate, my hope is that my blogging does some good for someone, somewhere, even if is to point out that they, alone, aren’t the only person in the world who’s struggling.

Thus concludes today’s shout into the void.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 20, 2021 at 5:26 am

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

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I don’t know about you, but I sometimes don’t feel much like anyone else.

In general, this is a good thing. I have no doubts about my individuality or individualism. I know who I am; I am self-aware; I work on being my best self, especially as I know full well what my worst self is (and want no part of it, thank you).

Mind, I don’t want my worst self to dominate. And I’m not the only one who has ever thought of this, as we shall see.

In a classic Star Trek episode, Captain Jim Kirk was split into his two biggest “parts.” One half was good but weak. The other half was evil but strong. The good half waffled and could not make a decision as his compassion was so strong, every decision felt like the wrong answer. The bad half made snap decisions, tried to pretend he was something he wasn’t (that is, the full Jim Kirk, when he was only half), and had no remorse even after making the wrong judgment calls. Obviously, both halves of Jim Kirk were necessary for the full Jim Kirk to be able to be decisive–yet moral–at the same time.

So, the worst self I have, that can be ruthless and even cruel at times, has to be taken into account as part of who I am. Suppressing it isn’t the right answer, either, as too much suppression of part of ourselves has difficult and sometimes unwieldy consequences.

That’s why I often feel like I’m neither fish nor fowl.

Of course, the conception of an author’s blog usually is to explain more about why the person writes what they write than explain the person themselves. My answers are huge, sometimes elliptical, yet they boil down to one thing: This is who I am.

So, when I write a romance like Bruno’s and Sarah’s in the two Elfy books, it’s because I believe that romance is–or at least can be–vital to people’s well-being. When I write a romance like Allen’s and Elaine’s in CHANGING FACES, it’s because I believe love can indeed conquer all, even though there will be unforeseen difficulties, and even if the people in question have lots of work to do on themselves to be good partners.

Even in the short stories I’ve written, there usually is a romantic component. In “Baseball, Werewolves, and Me,” psychic Arletta James is a huge baseball fan, married to a werewolf, and has been brought in to consult for a major league baseball team due to unforeseen events. Her husband Fergus is her perfect foil, smart, dedicated, and not willing to take any crap from anyone. The two of them make an excellent team. (I also have a second story about them in the works, for those who’ve asked.)

The two stories about Marja and Tomas, the first a shapeshifter and the second a telepathic Troll, are also in the same vein. They found romance where it was least expected. They both feel like outcasts. (For that matter, so do all the others I’ve mentioned already, particularly Bruno and Sarah of the Elfy books and Elaine of CHANGING FACES.) But together, they thrive, and they use their talents to their best advantage.

I have other short stories that have no romance, mind. And I have a few others that do have at least the glimmering of a romance. But I think you get my point, which is that life should be shared with those you love.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a romantic partner who understands you, celebrate that every single day.

If you’re not, but you have friends who understand and love you for who you are, celebrate that.

And if you’re the most fortunate of all in that you not only have a living romantic partner to stand beside you but have good, caring and decent friends as well, recognize that you live in a bounty of riches. Do not take that for granted, ever. And do what you can for everyone you know, because life is fleeting.

So, while I continue to feel as if I’m neither fish nor fowl, I recognize that my skills and talents can still be effective.

I do hope this blog will give someone the hope they need, or at least some points to ponder. (Let me know that you’re reading, will you? I’m still smarting over that “comment” from Malwarebytes about how “lightly trafficked blog sites often carry viruses and malware.”)

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 15, 2021 at 4:31 pm

Friday Oddities…and a Brewers Playoff Series Starts

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Folks, it’s Friday. And as this week has been full of odd things, I figured I’d mention a few of ’em before getting to the main event (that being the Milwaukee Brewers playoff series, starting today).

A few days ago, I got an “urgent alert” warning me to stay in my home due to heavy police presence in the area. It turned out that I was on the far edge of this, and the police presence was due to a federal agent getting shot while serving a warrant. I didn’t see any extra police, but followed the updates on my computer once I figured out what was going on.

Anyway, these things do not happen often in my neck of the woods. I did find it strange, and I hope the federal agent will recover promptly. (Last I read, the agent was in stable condition. The person being served the warrant apparently committed suicide.)

Next, my Malwarebytes software decided that my own blog was spam. I had a Hell of a time getting in, to the point I seriously thought about uninstalling Malwarebytes. (It had the nerve to say “lightly trafficked websites run the risk of blah blah blah, blah blah blah.” I felt like pitching my computer out the window.) I had to tell it five times that I wanted to continue to the site before I could get in here, and every time it did the same, damned thing.

Anyway, the good oddity — if you can call it that, considering they’ve been to the playoffs now four years running — is that the Milwaukee Brewers are playing the Atlanta Braves today in the National League playoffs. This Brewers team is known for its pitching far more than its hitting, as it has the NL’s ERA leader (for lowest amount of earned runs per nine innings pitched) in Corbin Burnes along with two other starting pitchers who’d probably be aces for most of the other teams in Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta. They also have an outstanding closer in Josh Hader, and many other good relievers, besides. The Braves team is more traditionally balanced, and definitely has more hitters with playoff experience than do the Brewers.

I’m hoping the Brewers will play very well, that they’ll hit surprisingly well, and that their pitching will perform up to standard. If so, it should be an exciting series, and fun to watch for this fan.

Anyway, what’s going on for you on this Friday? (I hope you haven’t been having to deal with the same crap as I have with regards to getting Malwarebytes to recognize my own blog as a safe and protected site, mind you.) Let me know in the comments!

Sunday Thoughts: We Are All Works in Progress

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Lately, I’ve had one very important thought running through my head. That thought is, “We’re all works in progress.”

Think about it, please, for a moment, and perhaps you’ll understand.

Our lives are happening right now, all around us. We are a part of history, whether we understand it or not. Whether our lives feel important or not, we partake of something akin to an infinite tapestry…our shades of thread are different from anyone else’s, and what we do with our gifts and talents is up to us.

Yes, there are obstacles. Yes, there are frustrations, and pain, and problems, and many times we wonder if what we’re doing makes any sense. Yes, there are issues with getting along with others, even those you are most motivated to understand. Yes, there seems to be more and more difficulty, the older you become (in experience, if not in age), of how to put yourself first or at least get it into the equation (rather than automatically putting yourself last, which does not work and only adds to the frustration, pain and problems accordingly).

Every day we get up, though, we can accomplish something.

Even if we’re sick, we can get up and take care of ourselves the best we can. Get our rest. Eat whatever we can tolerate. Save our strength.

And if we’re lucky, even on the bad days, even on the sick days, and even on the least encouraging days, we can find that spark of creativity that lies within us.

I live for creativity. (No, it’s not just for pointing out Michael’s memory to people who didn’t get a chance to know him. Though that’s important to me too, as I’m sure you know if you’ve spent any time at my blog at all.) So when I can’t create, it stifles me.

The only thing I know is that as a work in progress myself, every day brings a new chance to do something good. Something creative. Something positive.

Or at least to help a friend and/or loved one feel a bit better about the burdens they’re enduring.

We can do something to help the world around us. We can do something to become our authentic selves.

On this Sunday, reflect upon what you can do to make the world a better place. Then, perhaps, call a friend if you’re up to it, or write, or cook up a storm, or crochet, or do whatever you can that feeds your spirit and gives you positive reasons for living.

That, to my mind, is the winning strategy. And it helps us fill in our own works in progress with more beauty, delight, and joy, too.

Written by Barb Caffrey

October 3, 2021 at 10:08 am