Friday, June 24, 2016

Time Traveling from a Couch (conclusion)

On June 3 I had a 3-hour hypnotic session with Carolyn Sheehan, who took me to the life I had lived as William Monroe, just before this one. I talked about that life here. After we got through discussing William, Carolyn concentrated on having me discuss various issues with my guides. (She'd given me instructional sheets beforehand, and had me write down questions I wanted to ask. She also has her own way of conducting these things and questions she likes to include.)

I'd already set up a conference room-type of arrangement in my mind, with a large, oval table that had a transparent dome set in its center, through whose cloudy interior we'd observed some aspects of William's life in overview. Think of it as the Strategy Room from the West Wing, except that instead of computer/TV monitors, there was that viewing half-globe. The main guide (higher self?) was a lovely Carolina blue in color, and there were two other (conjoined) guides, one orangey and the other perhaps green. These all had no facial features, but were just humanoid shapes. All guides stayed on the opposite side of the table from me.

We'd occasionally speak of William. Why had he chosen that life? "It was a place-filler." Now, I'd recently been discussing the possibility of place-filler lives with others at the Rhine Center Book Club. We were wondering why people would come into intentionally difficult times and places. I postulated that perhaps they were place holders, to bring about or assist in some kind of movement that that part of the world needed to progress, and not accomplish much more than that at least along personal lines. William was a part of World War II and the effort to advance certain positive social movements. When I was at that club meeting, was I looking ahead to hearing what William had to say, or was I now projecting my opinions onto William?

In the observation room I learned that my soul color is pink, and my soul name is Lolinda, not so far from the "Lina" I'd considered when Mid-Life Crisis hit me. (Don't laugh; MLC is a very hard-hitting thing!)

Carolyn and I posed the question: How was I (current me) progressing in my life?
A: This is an important life. I am becoming more spiritual. I need to relax more. Colors. [Here was that answer AGAIN. Don't know exactly what it means.] I'm into art because I see the colors and it's really the psychic light that interests me more. It's all tied together.

A: I should learn to play with the colors.

A:I need to learn how to deal with people. (Okay, I got that Dale Carnegie book and will read it soon.)

A: I'll be taking lots of psychic/spiritual realm classes. (Just the other day I was thinking about getting another past-life session and wondering if I should remain with Carolyn or experiment with others, and my guide told me, "We'll send someone for you." Okay then. Also, Raleigh has a psychic fair that comes around twice a year. I'll check some of those people out for classes.) (And today I found an online Aura course that had excellent reviews. Oh boy!)

A: I need to hang around weird people, and by "weird," they meant like the folks I've met at the Rhine. A lot of them can do Strange Things. Most have read Weird and Crazy stuff that will blow your mind. And they talk about so many wonderful new ideas! They are the foundation for the new direction mankind is trying to take. "It's time for mankind to make the jump — to start really moving ahead."

A: Realize that what I see around me isn't necessarily real.

A: I have to keep up with the "weird" pack and help others.

Q: What should I be preparing for and concentrating on (with upcoming retirement in mind, but also the rest of my life in general)?
A: PAINTING. I'm supposed to read the book I got a few years ago about spiritual painting. It looks weird in an ugh-y way, but I'll do that.

(Tired of all the A:'s)  Writing will also help. Writing is something I enjoy. Even though the guides stressed painting, it is FINE for me to write.

I saw myself as an old woman seated at a table, discussing spiritual stuff with others. Everyone in the room was learning from everyone else.

Q: How can I become more intuitive?
A: Meditate with focus

Now is the time to return to taking classes and building up psychic skills. Reiki (I'm taking my first official course tomorrow) is just a start. The Rhine Research Center holds class possibilities, as do people associated with the Rhine. The universe will arrange meetings for me, and I'll be meeting people who come from all different directions in the psychic world. Cool!

As I set my focus, the universe arranges for me to get what I need.

You set focus by making serious goals. Stick to them. Be an adult! HAVE FUN ALONG THE WAY. BE GRATEFUL.

Q: re: body health. A new crowd joins the guides, a BUNCH of white folks, just swarming in, over the folks who were there already, like a wave. No features. They laughed when I said they reminded me of the Pillsbury Doughboy, only in much better shape. "We're not dough!"

Remember my energy body and keep it strong and brightly shining.


Rev up the energy in my energy body. Get the energy really flowing through. VISUALIZE OFTEN. It will put me in the mood to exercise/move around, but it's not really necessary to exercise because nothing is real. But as the energy body is, the physical body will follow.

Take just one of these, have it facing you, and then make it transparent. That's the base image I got.

Here's what I saw: My body -- any body -- as, well, let me put it this way. Imagine a cubist figure, done transparently. Shining in back as if behind a veil are the various chakras, providing a basis to it all. Then in clear focus, toss a bunch of, oh, 1 1/2" glass rods upon the scene, caught LOOSELY together a little below the waist. They run from feet to crown of the head, and aren't in any kind of perfect order except that they do seem to be crossing each other at about hip level. They're not straight up and down; they are positioned at angles to the body.

Make these clear glass and as tall as you are. They were about 1.5" in diameter. This is the relaxed kind of posture they had.

Inside these rods are a spectrum of bubbling, nuclear energy. I tried and tried to force the colors to be brighter on the top -- heat rises -- but instead the white energy was more around the knees. From there upward (and downward) you went through yellows and reds, until suddenly you were in dark purples at the top of the tubes. Even the dark purples were pulsing with crazy, concentrated energy.

When you focus on these and THINK about the energy, things got even brighter if that were possible, and a foamy sort of fizz of white bubbles came off the top of the tubes. They're like enclosed geysers.

Energy, energy, UNLIMITED energy! It moves up and down, up and down, all the time.

It's JOYFUL energy. It all ties together. You always know you're connecting with the upper planes when you feel the joy.

They all laugh: That's right, that's right. They all have a good sense of humor, because the universe has a good sense of humor. You knew that, right?

That humor is what they like about my writing.

There's a bit of personal stuff here that I'll summarize by saying that my guides (actually just one new guy who strode over to tower over me. He wore a surgeon's mask) told me to be an adult when it comes to something I REALLY don't like. Do it a few times and then it won't be so bad. Take tranquilizers if I need to get through the first couple times. Don't worry; the process will never find anything bad. Whew!

What should I do after I retire?

These are astronauts. Close enough.
Palm trees pop up in the room. Suddenly all the guides -- EVERYONE -- is wearing Hawaiian shirts and sipping colorful drinks through bendy straws. They wear straw hats. Cue the Jamaican music, mon.

"Relax." I'm painting and traveling. There are ships involved. I'm also writing and doing psychic stuff.

I bring out a map. They point at NC's Research Triangle, Montreal, and Baltimore-ish area. What, no Portland, OR? I've been starting to investigate that place; was planning to visit next year with an eye on moving.

"You can visit Portland; that's fine."

I'll be having a lot of fun with everything. I'll have people around me if I do that.

Don't worry about money. "You're happy. You're doing all this stuff and have people around."

Lots of travel. Caribbean.

I ask about the unpublished Wonder Woman novel I have sitting in my office. My main guide firmly slaps it on the table. It is a mass-market paperback. "You should do it!" [ask permission to publish it] He's insistent! Focus my energy on it! He adds that the book is a a lot of fun. (The same thing that HarperCollins editor told me a few years ago.) (They didn't have a marketing niche in which to put it, they told me.)


Make goals and FOCUS. Take small steps to achieve the larger steps.

Carolyn had them assign me a symbol to remind me to focus. "Not Prince!" I told her, and she laughed.

What then appeared to me was a Wonder Woman-style 5-pointed star with a lightning bolt coming off the lower left side, making it look like a comet. There was all this elegant double-outlining, with some variant outlining like the movie WW has on her logo. Very complicated. But cool. I need to take some serious time and draw this thing out correctly.

They reiterate a picture of me being on a panel at a comics convention. Maybe I'm talking about the book? Books? (Hey, I have more WW novels in me!)

I'm to keep myself balanced and focused: painting • writing • psychic

"You are a star," they told me. My guide waved his arms over me, and I began to glow brightly, white-yellow. I was sheer energy. "Don't forget that." I am as important as everyone else. I am MORE important than everyone else in the way that everybody is more important than anyone else.

I am me. Nobody else is like me. I AM A STAR. The words to the Desiderata come back to me, or at least as much as I can recall.

They all laugh agreeably and settle back in their chairs. (Before they'd been floating around.) They pass around beer and have a general good time. There are a LOT of people in the room. It's a party! Someone said, "Watch Star Wars [ch. 7] tonight." I'd been putting that off. Okay, I didn't get around to it for another week, but at least I got it done, and had a very good time doing so.

Carolyn asked if they had a message for her. They did, and I passed it along.

She had me thank various people. Some had comments to make.

Mom replied, "I've got a lot to work on, you know." Lately I've realized that. More power to her!

William said, "Make an effort to feel joy."

My guides said, "You've realized the universe is leading you. Don't be afraid to follow. It's going to be a grand adventure. You'll like it. And you'll have a long life if you keep a healthy body. Even now, it's still quite possible to get healthy. Stop being so fearful. Trust in the universe."

My cats and dogs: "Don't be afraid to love."

I see GREEN. (healing?)

Archangel Michael, laughing, steps in. "You know you're one of mine," he says.

"Yes, sir."

Thanks, everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Wonder Woman: Rebirth 1

I have pretty much despised the nu52 that DC has saddled us with since September of 2011. It was bad enough (a catastrophe! The end of the world!) that DC eliminated the concept of Wonder Woman in June of 2010, keeping just the name and bits of costume going, but now they REALLY massacred the concept. Diana now had not only a father, but a patriarchal father who was the king of the patriarchal gods.

She was stupid, often used as a tool, and hated by her fellow Amazons, who were now as evil as it gets. She was lied to by just about everyone. She was defined by the men around her, not by herself. She hauled about a sword and shield, and never hesitated to institute some bloody bit of work. She owed her skills to a man. She, who had once been the embodiment of the search for peace and positive empowerment above all else, became the god of war.

There were a few bright spots, but they didn't occur in WW's own title. Forgive me, but I haven't been able to stomach extended periods of reading nu52 material, or I could specify exactly where these bright spots occurred and their extent. I will make it a goal to get this stuff read by 2017. (And reported upon, of course. Oh, how I need to update my website!)

But anyway, DC had instituted this nu52 because apparently TPTB hate the idea of superheroes. Instead, they strove for Dark and Corrupt. In particular and to judge from what they did to her in the past six years, they (cough*Dan DiDio*cough) seem to hate the very idea of Wonder Woman. On the whole, company sales plummeted. DC instituted "DC You" or something like that, and sales fell even farther. So yet ANOTHER company-wide, even more convoluted reboot was scheduled.

Actually, it's not a re-boot. No, DC can't do things cleanly. If they'd done so with the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, they might not be in this position today or at least they'd be in a more stable one. "Rebirth" (some call this "Afterbirth") is a kinda-sorta reboot, with elements from the nu52 and elements from more classic versions of the characters and new elements thrown in to confuse everyone. The changeover is supposed to take two year$$ to complete (most titles will come out twice a month and cost $2.99. You do the math.), so everything's going to be in a confusing uproar for some time.

This run of Wonder Woman is written by Greg Rucka. Art duties on this issue are split between Matthew Clark (pencils) and Sean Parsons (inks), and Liam Sharp (full art). Even the colors have to have two artists to handle everything. Editors are Chris Conroy and Mark Doyle.

Now, Rucka had a run of WW back from 2003-2006, ushering in what I called her "Dark Age." Though I liked his first issue, I didn't like what came afterward. Diana and her stories were imho pretentious, a far cry from the human stories her fans loved. For the very first time, Diana used her lasso as a WEAPON (for no good reason). Positive previous continuity was done away with, much of it by having Hera kick Paradise Island. To me this signaled contempt for the basic mythos and/or certain creators of such. Established characters were gone; new ones, including the biggest Mary Sue I've ever seen, were introduced. Yet another Amazon massacre took place. Diana was master of everything she surveyed (except she received no respect from others), her Silver Platter powers souped up so she never had to hesitate or doubt in her perfection.

But I loved Rucka's run for a few things. He introduced an efficient Amazon embassy. (Okay, there were no Amazons employed there, and Diana was the ambassador, which makes no sense…) (And if you want to get technical, he introduced it in Hikkie and not in the actual WW book.) He gave us a Magic Mirror to Paradise Island, and I've always been ca-razy about magic mirrors (!!!), of which the WW mythos has had a few. He did introduce the bull-man Chef Ferdinand, who had his moments though he was cast as Diana's Alfred. (FYI: Eric Luke also tried to give Diana an Alfred.)

So I braced myself for this issue. It's confusing. It's supposed to be confusing, but how much confusion can we take, twice a month for two years? The story will alternate between the past and the present as well.

The cover -- both versions -- that advertise what a reader will find inside the issue depicts Wonder Woman with a sword. Thankfully, there is no sword to be found inside the book.

Universes are merging or somethinging, apparently, and Diana recalls both her more classic (not classic per se) self as well as her nu52 version. We are inside her head the ENTIRE ISSUE -- no humans for Diana to bounce ideas off of, no one to befriend or defend (except in the silent opening fight), not even a villain to talk to. And what's inside her head is pretentious stuff indeed.

In the opening fight sequence, for example, she saves a young-looking woman in a building that is labelled "XXX" (I checked it to see that my company's logo was nowhere on it, whew) from a man threatening her. Though Diana does take a moment to help the cowering victim up off the floor, that is all the humanity we see from her. At no time does she take the hysterical woman into her arms to comfort her. Though other victims are seen later wearing blankets, likely provided by the police, Diana's victim is left to stand in the street in her underwear and have a breakdown. Hey, there's no time for Wonder Woman to be a sissy!

Wouldn't it have been nice if WW had turned back to the victim, as if she were having a change of heart, or recalling a change of continuity, to comfort her? Wonder Woman should be the kindest, most human and likable of all the superheroes. She shouldn't be the creature I once termed "Rucka Woman."

And yes, she uses the lasso as a weapon again. The artist highlights the blood it spills as Rucka utilizes it as a whip. Diana's costume shifts and shifts some more before she decides on the new Rebirth version, which she apparently had packed in her closet all along. (Fans of the Mod Diana Prince know that she kept superhero costumes on the back rack of her store. Does this hold true for modern-day Diana?)

Her lasso becomes an oracle as well. It directs her to talk (since it has no mouth) and reveal some of what is going on. It makes her speak of herself in the second person, as if the lasso were sentient. Instead of revealing Diana's truth, it reveals the universe's truth.

What is truth? We are reminded of an old JLA tale concerning the lasso -- a story that infuriated me because we were told there was only one truth ever, and the lasso couldn't stand handling two truths concerning the same situation. How simplistic. The supreme truth holds itself together in facets. What is true for one is not necessarily true for another. What is true at one point in time is not necessarily true at another.

And apparently when Diana completely smashes a mirror, it can regroup into an only cracked mirror on the page following. Diana can somehow teleport herself straight to Olympus -- something to do with her war helmet? It's unclear -- only to find "automatones." With an "e," like Rucka's previous run had placed an extra vowel in Medusa's name. Yeah yeah, I know that this is technically a correct spelling for this specific situation, but in comics it is unneeded pretention. So Diana gets to end this issue with a boring fight that seems to have no purpose or consequences, just as she began it with a fight in a different venue.

Okay, it's supposed to be confusing. I'd rather it be confusing and star someone I could like, who gives me a reason to root for her. Didn't find that in this ish, sorry.


I can live with just about any art style as long as that style is consistent. Since we had two different artists this issue the art grated on me, though in general it was fine. Anatomy skills had occasional glitches that I wish some editor had pointed out and had corrected. Quite often we got some great action shots, but then we'd see Diana with boobs that were much too large (and no hips), or with a giraffe neck. A little more care in the rendering, please. Monsters were drawn quite nicely, but were so dark we really couldn't appreciate them. The colors turned blinding, distracting dark red during the Olympus scenes, but were of complex hues complementary to the tale in the rest.

If I'd been a newcomer to Wonder Woman, I don't think I'd have been intrigued or interested enough to pick up another issue. Like I said, the character was not that likable.

And let me just say for the record: I DESPISE the idea of Wondie having a brother.

Not only a brother, but a twin brother. We've seen Diana with a twin twice before. Didn't work those times. She is her own hero; she isn't even a legacy hero (though some runs have insisted she was). SHE IS HER OWN LEGEND. She shouldn't have someone stealing her thunder.

It is NOT the "Golden Perfect." It is the Magic Lasso, the Lasso of Truth. Sheesh. Pretentious much?

I'll give the series another chance because I always have hope for Wondie. I was wrong about the first Rucka run, in that I liked the first issue of that. Perhaps this will be the opposite: bad first ish, great or at least acceptable following issues. I've seen her bounce back time after time. When will she again become the character she was meant to be?

For another, more positive view of this issue, see Martin Gray's review here.

Of course you're invited to write your own opinions here as well. While you're here, how about picking up one of my books? Thanks!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Time Traveling from a Couch (Part 1)

A lot of you have asked me how my past-life regression went. I think this is because I went around the week before it telling everyone I could corner, "I'm going to have a past-life regression! I'm going to have a past-life regression!!!"

Think I'll break this into two parts so it doesn't go on forever. This first part will discuss the past life I explored, and the second will be the part after that past life, when I met with my guardian angels/guides.

FYI: Years and years ago I attended a past-life workshop in which participants learned how to take people back in their memories to experience, well, past lives. We split into smaller groups and did each other several times. There I met a few of my former selves, and I've always wanted to know more.

Scientific investigation into past lives comes up well in their favor. Reincarnation was the one thing in psi that noted skeptic Carl Sagan said "deserves serious study." Want to read more about the subject? My favorite books are Reliving Past Lives and Life Before Life, by Dr. Helen Wambach. Not sure if they're still in print or not. If not, there are a lot of other well-researched books out there. Mr. Google is your friend.

I think reincarnation makes sense, so I was looking forward to having a professional hypnotherapist do what she could to get me to remember my other lives.

She darkened a quiet office, turned on soft new age music, and had me lie on a massage bed and relax. She asked me if it was okay to touch me on the shoulder when needed and to refer to angels. I have nothing against angels; they're swell folks. It's religion I can't stand.

She took me through the usual hypnotic soothing routines and then had me remember a happy scene (I warned her there wasn't much happy from my childhood) from when I was in high school, then one from when I was about five years old. The high school one was fuzzy, with only my dog and comic books really in focus, and the 5 YO one was one of the few memories I consciously have from childhood. This time, though, I recalled that I had a toy fishing pole. (And I thought at the time that it was really cheesy, because it was.)

Then came something that confused me. When we talked about it afterward, she kept the same phrasing. After having taken some time to make sure that I was letting loose of my logical mind so it wouldn't interfere with things, she asked me to tell her, on a scale of 1 to 100 (and citing percentages), with 1 being wide awake and 100 being asleep, where I thought I was in the process. My first thought was: arithmetic? I thought I was supposed to turn off that side of my brain!

After awkwardly shifting gears, I thought I was at about 30 but I wanted to be kind and said 40. Yeah, mea culpa. But afterward, she explained that if someone gave her a number over 50 she'd try to take them down deeper. To me that was the opposite of what she'd instructed. If she'd just said, "Tell me how deep you think you're under. Lightly? Medium? About to fall asleep?" it would have been a lot clearer and less distracting.

So I believe I was in a very light trance, if you can even apply that term to the situation. However after a while I just told myself to consider it a prolonged psychic session -- it had been too long since I'd had one with myself -- and enjoy whatever I could see. In the future I'll let the therapist know that I need more work to go deeper and not be so literal or complaisant.

Anywayz, she turned on her recorder and had me recall being in the womb. Hey, I actually got a picture of it! It was like being in a dark, spherical room where one side is draped but you can tell there's light behind it. It was a very warm light (in color) and I could hear booma boom, booma boom. Hey, that's Mom's heart, I thought just before the therapist asked if I could hear my mother's heart.

I was lying there, a big, fat lump I thought (in fact I groaned, "I'm fat!"), and I could see a reddish glow from above and to my left that I knew was Mom's heart. I was comfortable but low in energy. I was firmly in the body, not passing in and out, because this was toward the end of the pregnancy. (Souls don't enter the body until the third trimester, unless they wait until after birth. Some even wait a LONG time after the birth.) (Even so, I think I blinked out during the actual birth. I mean, who wants to experience that?)

I could feel Mom's emotions: fear, worry, anxiety over lack of money. My dad had been working at a podunk job after he left the Air Force, and the family had moved in with my mom's parents. That couldn't have been too fun, and now they had another kid on the way?

The therapist (think I'll just call her TH to shorten that) asked what my mother thought of having a child. I could tell her: It was her duty, a part of being married. There was no excitement or loving emotions involved. TH asked if these negative emotions were affecting me and I said, "Heck, yes!" so she suggested I put some kind of curtain between me and her. I put a vibrating, golden Star Trek forcefield there to protect me! Shields up!

From there we went farther back, immediately into a past life. I'd been trained to have past-life subjects walk down a staircase with doors (often labelled) leading off it, enter a beautiful garden with archways, etc. etc., but here we were without all that, boom. I recognized it as being the life just before this one. The year was 1939, and I was a lanky, buck-toothed teen boy in rolled-up pants, a brown and red plaid shirt, belt with a metal buckle, straw hat with a frayed edge, and bare feet. I was standing in the family corn (looked like wheat, actually) field, smoking. I was in Illinois. I could see the barn, a tractor, a 1940s-era car, a farmhouse, chickens. Later on I added a horse and for-sure cornfield to that picture.

My name was Willy or Billy Monroe. There might be a "Mason" in there somewhere, and someone whispered "Webster" to me, but I've been doing some family history lately and the Websters are there on my mother's side. (They are from Illinois/Indiana. I was born in IL.) William might be a cousin; I don't know. Past lives don't need to be relatives.

I had a definite picture of William in my mind, and later that night it came to me: it was the kid from Hee Haw! When I got home I Googled and discovered that the logo has a donkey on it, not a kid. But I kept seeing this guy, except he had straw-like hair, cut straight across in bangs. He also resembled the country hick from Hey, Arnold! Try to imagine him via these pictures. (I changed the hair for the donkey. You're welcome.)

I kept referring to William as "not the brightest bulb in the bunch," and between that and the Hee Haw hillbilly hick, I felt guilty to diss him. But that was the impression I had. William didn't have any hobbies or skills to speak of. He didn't have a girlfriend at any point. And no, he wasn't gay. I think.

Let me try to combine some things, as TH had me checking back on William at different times in his life, though I really only saw three distinct ages.

When he was 10 I got a picture of him and his extended family in their home. There was some kind of party going on with music, and William was clog-dancing (or the 10 YO equivalent) up a storm, having the time of his life. Woo hoo! He was precocious and described himself as "an obedient son." There was a brother or friend there about his age, along with a very young sister who had a doll. His parents were there along with some other folks. None of them were very focused in my mind. None of them rang a bell for my current life.

When I went to look closer at the little sister, I thought there was a bit of karma there. (TH was guiding me to ask about karmic connections.) I think she'd been my wife in a previous life, and I hadn't treated her well. Not beaten her up or anything that bad; just not treated her well.

The father was interesting in that when I looked at him I saw him rushing forward (frozen in the moment like a statue), dressed in complete military gear for WWII. I thought, "Can't be WWII," and though the rifle looked very modern, the father now wore one of those metal hats the WWI people wore when they were in the trenches. Looking back now, I think he might have been wearing a gas mask.

At this point TH was still talking karmic debts, and I was trying to figure out a birthdate for William to see if he could have been in WWI in a previous life and still made it into his life, and so had some kind of karmic something going on with his dad. (I forgot that there are cases on record of TWO lives being lived at once, that your lives can actually overlap in time.) (Yeah, you just think about that one for a while.) But anyway, from here a week-plus later, I think that his dad was in WWI. (Hope I'm not being influenced by that lengthy WWI chapter in the British history book I just read.)

But there was no Big Dramatic Karmic Debt to be paid here. The next spot in William's life I saw was him in the fields again in his later teens, smoking his cigarettes (ew!) and then stomping them out. He was really frustrated. Often he'd just sit on piles of hay and stare off in the distance, thinking about how he wanted to get out into the world. Instead he was cooped up on this boring farm.

One day he got some kind of letter or draft notice in the mail and he joined the Navy. Not sure where he trained. I knew he'd serve in the Pacific and was trying to find someplace in California for him. I was attracted to San Francisco, but that might be due to Star Trek and the fact that I've been there. I asked, "San Diego?" because it was another oceanside city and got "San Marina." Actually, there was a Navy training center in San Diego. Whatevs. For all I know he trained on the east coast and then transferred.

Anyway, we next see him at age 24 in the Navy in the Pacific on a submarine. He'd joined the Navy because everyone was expecting him to go into the military, and it got him off the farm -- and to see the world. And then he got stuck on a tiny submarine. Inside a tiny submarine. He didn't even get to do interesting stuff, since he wasn't the brightest bulb. He was left to clean and swab decks and such. Blech.

Just a shot of a sub I got off the Internet. Not necessarily William's sub.

We got to the part I'd seen before and I zoomed upward to get a birds eye view because I didn't want to be down there with William for this. He said he'd been in the Navy for 3+ years. Now his sub was surrendering to the Japanese. (Both ships were a lot smaller than I'd expect them to be.) I think the other sailors, with whom William had made moderate friendships (especially over cards), had been fear-mongering. (Who could blame them?) Who knew what would happen now? To them, the Japanese were savages. And now the enemy had boarded their surfaced boat.

With the American flag flying overhead, William grabbed the railing and hurled himself overboard rather than be taken to the Japanese ship. I could hear other "plunks" as others jumped in too. TH asked what his final thoughts were, and all I could come up with was, "Oh well." He was ready to go.

All his life he had had a horrible fear of the unknown.

TH had the archangel Michael cut the cord on the concept of "fear of the unknown" from this and all other lives. Instead of his usual sword, I imagined Michael using a blue lightsabre, and he got a kick out of that. (Michael's cool.) TH said she heard him say, "It's about time," about the cutting the concept thing. Michael cleaned up the mess and archangel Raphael spread a deep green light that filled me up and healed me, making sure that all problem cords from various lives were broken.

After that I met with our spirit guides. The main one was a light blue (higher self?), and there was one other one, perhaps two: orange and green. They seemed joined together. We floated around a table with a large half-sphere viewing tank set in its center to study William's life.

"He didn't accomplish much," someone said. William was a drifter through his life, but he was okay with that. He spent much of his time being frustrated, and thus didn't do anything. He thought he was in the wrong place.

He learned how to be alone. When William came out of that life, he was told, "You have one more lonely life to live." That's the current one. But none of our other lives seem to be particularly crowded that I've seen. There've been spouses and kids, but none really close except for the Egyptian general, who lost his dear boys when they were still quite young.

"[William] could handle what life threw at him," yet there was that fear of the unknown. And he didn't do it with any joy.  "He's got to learn to handle what life throws at him with joy, and that way he can face the unknown without fear. Rather, he'll face it with joyous expectation." He needs to change his attitude!

Someone whispered, "Money," but William wasn't poor. He had enough to get along, and so did his family. At least out there on the farm, if they were poor, he didn't realize it. They'd had a good farm, though they'd just been through the Depression. I'd like to say that people on farms weathered the Depression better than others, but my mother's family lost their farm during that event, and it was pretty traumatic for all.

What could William have done better? Paid attention and focused. He let life go on around him. He should have focused on people and what he was doing. He should have taken advantage of the opportunity of being alive.

What would William tell me? "What are you going to do with your life? Focus. Colors. [This would come up again. ??] Take charge." He showed me a picture of holding the reins on a horse-drawn wagon that was really charging down the road of life. It was TH who laughed at my ?? on this bit and said, "He's telling you to take the reins." Oh! That made sense.

"Try to laugh and enjoy more." William gave up joyful craziness as he grew up. He was emotionless because it was all so boring!

I wonder if my penchant for traveling comes from William's being cooped up.

So that was my visit with William Monroe. When I got home I tried to find a free site to search for him (ha!), but the closest I got was this, a possible:

If you can't read that, here's the interesting part:

Estaline, aged 6 in 1930, would have been the right age to be that karma-connected sister we saw when William was 10.

This winter I'll buy membership in a couple family-search sites, since I'll be working on the family tree. Let's see if I can find William then, and maybe confirm the above entry. Wouldn't that be a time-saver if this were him!

Next time: A Wonder Woman review! But that'll be later this week. Next week I'll have part 2 of this, which deals with me and a roomful of spirit guides. See you then!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Abstracting abstracts

Once again, I've fallen behind on ye blog, but I've been toodling about doing this and that. Finally finished some landscapes in mid-January—hooray! I was a month late in changing out the display at a downtown restaurant.

Anyway, I looked around the house. I have a lot of paintings out from where I'd been storing them, waiting to be updated and/or moved to a storage building. Next to be looked at were a couple of abstracts that I wanted to fiddle with. When I got going with those, I got out some blank canvases to see what I could do along the same lines.

I've been trying to concentrate on color palette and intensity and value patterns. The re-dos are definitely better than they were, and I've gotten some new ideas I'll try to get around to working on. It's tough when one has so many things going on. (Yes, my guides keep saying, "Focus! Focus!" But hey— Squirrel!)

"Asterisk" 18x24, acrylic

"Downburst" 24x24", acrylic

"Genesis 24181" 18x24", acrylic

"Morning Glade," 24x30", acrylic

"Photon Shield," 18x24, acrylic
Also need to work on consistency of style, but the recent ones done from scratch ARE consistent. I just don't know if they're the particular style I want. Hm. I may revisit these shots in the coming days to make sure they're true to the paintings' colors. But they're close, and I'm tired. Good night, everyone!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A plea for romance writers... or any writers, for that matter

I've been reading for a while now. A few decades or more, in fact. Lately, especially with the rise of self-publishing (although the Big Five produce books of the same quality), I've discovered that many books are being published before they're ready.

Take this one I'm currently going through, a novel I promised I'd review for Amazon. It's an FF&P romance. Like all too many FF&P romances I've read, it lacks, well, FF&P (fantasy, futuristic & paranormal) as well as romance.

By "lacking FF&P" I mean that the world-building stinks. In this, the author has come up with an alien civilization that is, for all intents and purposes, that of Earth with the addition of a few ray guns and cool ships. People on this other world even speak English, eat Earth food, tell their time by Terran standards, etc. etc. No imagination required!

By "lacking romance," I mean that the h/h may exchange long gazes and shivers may run up the heroine's spine when she thinks of the hero, but that's it. There's no reason for it. In this book they had sex—the blandest sex scene I've ever read. There's no emotion, no sensual clues... Just tab A into slot B, and really, not much of that. (Thank goodness.) I think this book handled it in one paragraph, but that paragraph is supposed to form the basis for the entire novel.

In this case also, being an FF&P book, there's psi involved. The h/h touch and—ZAPPO!—instant bonding. Now, I used this in my book as well. In the Three Worlds series, Londo and Lina both have psychic gifts, but I set up reasons why they should be attracted to each other, gave them a few times to tease and touch and test and share some intimate revelations before ZAPPO! took place. After that, I reinforced it.

But all too many FF&P books use this Instant Zappo as the basis for the entire relationship. They are soul mates, or fated to be mated, or their pheromones combine in just the right mix, or an ancient prophecy has declared that... FF&P is the worst offender, but other genres also manage this without using psi.

Let me digress. I love "classic" Wonder Woman, by which I mean the WW who stood for striving for peace, helping the disenfranchised, etc. etc. But she also had abilities due to Amazon Training. When I was a kid reading the adventures of Wonder Girl, she always talked about how she had to go off and practice her Amazon Training. She didn't just appear one day, fully powered, without doing anything to deserve those powers.

One of the big things I disliked about the post-Crisis Wonder Woman was that she received her powers on a silver platter. Never had to do a thing to have them. Bleah!

And take the new Star Trek. (Please!) Jim Kirk gets to be a big-shot captain because he's got machismo. Big balls. He bluffs his way to the top and gets things done in some way I can't really understand. Sparkly explosions and flares distract me from wondering why.

Contrast and compare to Classic Jim Kirk, who had to study hard all his life and make it to the top of his class through work and yes, big balls. He knew every last circuit in the Enterprise, and learned how to deal with alien races. New Kirk has not learned any of that. How does he do his job? He certainly hasn't done his job of making me want to see new ST movies.

So writers: I want you to add a few more layers to these books before you send them off. Figure out who your characters are. I'm tired of seeing gorgeous, rich, powerful guys as the hero and gorgeous women as the heroine, both of whom have no depth to them. Looks and money aren't enough for me. Give me some oomph! Make them work to be who and where they are!

If the h/h get together and it's love at first sight, have them both revel in it. Let me FEEL it. If their relationship starts small and builds, let me delight in that. Show me the steps it takes to create a Romance for the Ages.

Margie Lawson has a workshop that has writers using colored highlighters to make sure they utilize setting, emotions, physical responses, sharp dialogue, and plot. Use all your colors, authors. PLEASE. I'm begging you.

If you can't spare the time to do so, please include one word into the description you use to sell your book: "bland." That way I will steer far from it and save money. Thanks!

Have you read any books like this? What's your impression of them? Do you like your characters to be multi-layered? How "way out" do you like your fantasy/sci fi?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Strickly Two Book Reviews

Y'all know I'm a member of the Rhine Research Center's Book Club, right? We get to read some really dry material sometimes. And sometimes we get the juicy stuff. I'm here to tell you about the juicy stuff.

A few months ago, we read Carol Bowman's Children's Past Lives: How Past Life Memories Affect Your Child. Really good book! (I reviewed it here.) In it she discussed the mounds of evidence about kids having legitimate past-life memories, but her approach was different. She examined this from a "how does it affect the child?" point of view, with the hopes of easing any trauma the child might experience.

I had to get the follow-up, Return from Heaven: Beloved Relatives Reincarnated Within Your Family, which was written in 2001, about ten years after the first book. A good number of the cases she'd been studying had been starting to show a pattern in which someone would reincarnate into the same family. Grandfather would be the new grandchild, that kind of thing.

Why should someone want to come back with the same people around? Turns out that people can want to make things right between themselves and another person. Or there's the simple fact that they love that other person and want to continue to live with them.

There's one instance in the book concerning twins. They were being carried by Mother A. One of the twins decided that no, he wanted B (the brother of Father A) as the father, not A, though the other twin most definitely wanted Father A. But the twin was insistent; their cord wrapped around their necks in utero, and they were miscarried. Mother A, of course, was devastated.

Seven or so years pass, and now Father B is married. His kids turn out to be the twins (twins no longer, but born a couple years apart). The older yells often at the younger about how he wanted Father A to be his daddy. This upsets the B couple, of course.

Over time they realize that their boys are the twins reincarnated. The older boy admits that he truly loves Father B, and makes up with his younger brother. They love being around their cousins and aunt and uncle, though. Eventually Parents B gingerly tell Mother A that these are her twins, returned.

She's ecstatic! She hasn't lost her boys after all, but can still enjoy them in the close unit that these two families share.

Pretty cool stuff. There's also a couple of chapters where Carol talks about and meets Dr. Ian Stevenson, who worked for so many decades gathering evidence about past-life experiences seen through the eyes of children. (FYI, Dr. Stevenson died in 2007.) After meeting with one of her case families, he discussed with her possible reasons for coming back in such a situation, after she'd tried to puzzle it all out. His theory: "Isn't love reason enough?"

Lovely. I see that Dr. Stevenson's successor has also written at least one book on this subject. I'll be checking that out.

Last month our book was another quick read, but this one caused tears to stream down my face at some points. (How embarrassing when you're sitting in the doctor's waiting room!) It's pretty darned amazing: The Afterlife of Billy Fingers: How My Bad-Boy Brother Proved to Me There's Life After Death, by Annie Kagan.

Billy Kagan was in his sixties, homeless in Miami. He'd often been a drug addict, sometimes involved with the underworld (hence him using the "Billy Fingers" alias so they wouldn't know his true name), and sometimes he walked the straight and narrow. One day he ran out in front of a car and was killed.

His sister, Annie, about twenty years younger than he, pretty much went into a fetal position when she got the news. They'd had a rough relationship, but she loved him and she knew he loved her. She lay in bed for days… until she clearly heard Billy's voice next to her.

Billy told her to get the notebook he'd given her the year before and write down what he told her. What he told her was what happened after he died.

I've read a lot of Near-Death Experience recollections, and Pre-Life Hypnotic Regressions. There are more and more fascinating books documentating these things appearing all the time. But Billy didn't come back. He went on farther than any NDE. Those people who reincarnated? Billy had reached the end of his reincarnation cycle. He went on from there. Gleefully. Having the time of his afterlife.

He grew and grew in knowledge, delighting in merging with the universe and then telling his sister about it. Then came a time when a being we might call a goddess performed a ceremony recognizing the end of his reincarnations. After that came the day when he loosed his soul, cast it off as he'd cast off his body when he'd died. He became all and nothing.

Pretty heavy stuff! And it's beautiful. My only gripe is that there wasn't an extra chapter with corroborating testimony from the people who were in on at least a part of this, like Annie's good friend, Tex.

Billy leaves us with some lessons. There is no right or wrong. Yes, he was an addict. He wanted to understand addicts, plus he wanted to be more in tune with the universe. This was his final life, and he made sure he had a terrific time during as much of it as he could.

Karma? Eh… Nope.

He says that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi were members of the Great White Brotherhood/White Light Brothers (the "white" is the color of the light, and "brotherhood" encompasses both genders), really, really big figures in the afterlife. Yet I know that neither of them were near perfect. "Most of the White Light Brothers never go to earth, but their absolute light intermingles with and protects your world. If you focus on the white light, as you do my voice, I know you'll feel it… You see, the Brothers aren't souls. They are pure Spirit. Just as our bodies are the carriers of our souls, our souls are the carriers of our Spirit."

"I was an incurable drug addict who wasn't even capable of making a living," Billy says. "Who would have thought that I would be ready for becoming the Universe? Well, that just shows that you can never judge anyone's life, yours included."

He loves a metaphor of an oyster. Life gives you grit, so you should make a pearl out of it. It's true that Life has an awful lot of grit in it, but you are more powerful than you think. You are an awesomely big and powerful oyster. You can choose which grit you let disturb you enough to make a pearl out of it.

"Make your life as interesting as you can," he counsels. "Take chances. Go after your dreams." And: "People spend lots of time on things that make them unhappy—too much focus on the sand in the oyster. To cultivate joy, pay attention to what you like." He means every day. Every moment that you can. Focus on what delights you.

"I took on form to enter time. I entered time to partake in creation."

This is a book I'll likely reread a number of times. It's that good; it's that much to think about.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Headin' South!

Vacation—and just in time! I was going Ca-RAZY!!! at work. Whenever that happens, I NEED to take a few days off or I'll explode. So I hopped the train from Durham. It was the Carolinian, so of course it was running late, and having to stop at the NC State Fair for so long didn't help the schedule any. Had a layover in Wilson, NC, which has a very nice historic downtown block, but around the RR station, it's crap. The Amtrak people recommended the only restaurant in the area, which was across the street and supposedly Jamaican. It was one of those "we're keeping troubled kids off the streets" deals, and I asked the owner what his favorite dish was. "Brown soup," he said. That didn't sound encouraging, but I ordered it. I mean, if it was his favorite...

Ugh. Awful. Bits of chicken bone. Bits of stone-hard rice. Wonky dark flavor. Still, it used up time and eventually the Palmetto arrived (just a few minutes late) to whisk us off to Charleston. Now, when you get on a train, the conductor asks where you're going. Thus I don't know why, five minutes into the ride, two high school (? very young) girls behind me start flipping out. They're on the wrong train. They should be headed to Raleigh. Panic! Shriek! They call their teacher to relay their dilemma. They'll have to get off in Fayetteville, and then what will they do? I tell them to calm down; it's not that bad. In six months it'll be an amusing story.

The conductor finally determines that for a short bit the Palmetto and Carolinian's routes are the same; the girls can get off in Selma and catch the south-bound Carolinian from there. "Like, I'm nevair telling Mom," one girl declares, to have her pal echo it. Do kids really talk like that still? Whatevs. My question is: why do they have the Palmetto and Carolinian assigned numbers that are 10 apart from each other? It's the 79 and the 89 train. Easy to mix up, especially when they arrive (theoretically) 30 minutes from each other.

Got to Charleston at 7:30 or so, shared a taxi to the airport and Enterprise with 2 others. Enterprise hooked me up with my first GPS, and the lady at the desk programmed it for me. Took it out to the car, and the guy there deleted her program, then programmed it. And did it again. And again. I took off into the night—I hate driving at night—and learned to follow the GPS' orders. At one point it seemed to me from previous Mapquesting that I should be near the hotel. The GPS told me to take a right, another right, and another right, all on top of each other. Okay. But where was the hotel? I drove and drove. The city dropped off behind me. Had the color of the roads on the screen changed? I couldn't recall; I was exhausted.

I was on my way to Savannah, not a hotel in Charleston on the Savannah Highway. Finally spotted a convenience store in the middle of nowhere and got directions. Whew! Got to the hotel. I think it was at the end of the triple right thing, but when you overshot your destination, the stupid GPS shut up instead of saying something like, "recalibrating." During the trip I overshot a few more times and it wasn't until I had made some guess-turns and gotten back ahead of the destination that the GPS lady deigned to speak.

But I hadn't figured this out until about a day later, during which I'd called up Enterprise and complained about the programming kid in the parking lot. Hope he didn't get into trouble.

Charleston! It stinks! No, literally. It smells like a sewer. It might be because it was still getting over some serious floods, or not. If you can't smell the sewer, you're smelling camellias (ugh!), which were everywhere, or else you're smelling some seriously good-smelling food. You're always smelling something.

Took a carriage ride and our guide told us that Charleston has the world's largest historic area outside of Rome. This makes for a HOA from Hell, he said. There was one church whose steeple had been blown off during the Civil War. By 2000 they'd managed to come up with money for a new one and applied for a building permit. It was approved in 2006.

Went on a walking tour (in addition to walking for hours and hours on my own) as well as a harbor cruise. Ft. Sumter becomes a lot more interesting story when you see that the fort was THERE. It's just one storey now, but was three back during the "Late Unpleasantness," as they call it. There was another fort just over THERE, and one over THERE, and it was all not that far from the edge of town. It's all so close to each other. Must have been a darned spectacular battle. A wonder that no one was killed until the celebration afterward, when one of the cannons set a pile of ammo ablaze and killed a soldier.

The cruise director and I discussed ocean rise and how Charleston is ignoring it. He said that there's been a foot rise over the past century, and of course the process is about to speed up. Charleston—and all too many other places—will be in Big Trouble.

As for the walking tour, I noticed that the guide only mentioned slaves 4 quick times. Once she mentioned that a certain house had "servants." Yeah, right. But she did go into the big earthquake and pointed out the special supports that houses that went through that now have. One of the tours took pains to state that even though Charleston was one of the four largest US cities back then (9 out of the 10 richest men lived there), SC was only second in slaves. Rhode Island was the primary place for slaves to land, due to the New England rum industry.

There are interesting Historic Houses that would be worth setting aside an entire day to tour, but I didn't. Charleston's downtown is filled with restaurants, shoe stores, clothing stores, and such. It's the second most popular place in the US (next to Vegas) to buy a wedding dress. If you're into shopping, I'd definitely recommend the place. Traffic downtown is fairly awful due to all the horse carriages, but it's nothing next to Savannah. I did notice that there were more skateboarders doing their thing in public streets there than Savannah. I wanted to run over a few just to teach 'em a lesson. For their own good, you know.

Touring was taking up a LOT more time than I'd planned. I'd bought four tickets at the Visitors' Center, and was thinking about ditching the final one, to Magnolia Plantation, in order to take the Gullah Tour, which people were raving about. Unfortunately, the guy who does that one didn't bother to tell me that it's best to get reservations for it, so when I decided to stay in Charleston for a few extra hours to take the tour, it was full already. Darn!

Instead I set the GPS for the Magnolia Plantation, which said it had a good slave tour available. The plantation was located a ways out of town. Back in the day, it took over a day to get there unless you went by river. The river was a tidal one, so not only did its depth differ by 6 feet depending on time of day, but every six hours it changed direction. And yes, alligators can survive in brackish water.

We got in a nice wilderness tour, since after the plantation switched from growing rice, the owners were concerned with making their acreage a showcase of flora and fauna, while alligators, turtles and ducks took over the swamps that evolved from what had been rice paddies. Every few feet along the lane there'd be a cheesy Halloween display with dummies set up with scary masks and such. It seemed to me that at night it might be quite the fright for kids. The tour director assured me that that's what they had set up: night rides through the woods.

"We hire high school kids to jump out, too," she said.

"But I thought you said the alligators were active at night."

"You couldn't pay me to be here at night."

Glad I didn't have to drive along some of those roads. The swamps are covered with duck weed, something I once got for my own fish pond. ("Fish love it! They'll eat it all up!" Nope, it quickly covered the pond and the fish ignored it.) In the noon sunshine, the flat, green-topped swamps looked artificially made… like roads. I could see that someone could easily think they were on asphalt and turn into one. Shudder.

They filmed the swampy parts of Swamp Thing at the plantation. And it turns out that they have only four slave cabins still there, reflecting different eras, but the guide did a great job of giving the story of the slaves and what happened after the Civil War. I asked if any slaves had lived in the Big House, and she said that the owner's wife was from Baltimore. She'd grown up hearing horror stories of what slave nannies did to their white charges, so no Blacks were allowed inside the house around the kids. Instead they hired a 14-year-old Irish girl, who stayed with the family until the end of her long life.

Otoh, several large Black families who were freed because of the War stayed on. Today, many of the employees are descendants of them, and the guy in charge of the grounds is one as well.

One of the plantation owner's granddaughters had numerous nice paintings in the house, which reminded me that I should be painting more as well, especially since I had better access to good materials than she had.

Savannah is just under 2 hours south of Charleston, and is laid out around a bunch of ordered park squares. It's easy to get lost. I certainly did, wandering around with seventeen maps sticking out of my purse. An overcast didn't help my sense of direction. I kept walking south when I should have walked north. Thank heaven for friendly passers-by!

The mansions are more spectacular in Savannah, imho, and certainly worthy of a few days of exploration. I only went into the Juliette Gordon Low mansion because I could barely remember visiting there back in 1965 or so, when my North Dakota-stationed family travelled to Florida to check out some swamp land my parents had just bought. (Don't worry; they got their money back. Eventually. It took Washington Air Force big wigs to convince the company that it was in their best interests to do so.) I still had my daisy pin that Girl Scouts can buy when they visit the house. Juliette "Daisy" Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts, you know, right? The current pin is about half the size of the pin I have.

The tour was given by an EXTREMELY enthusiastic young woman who was about to graduate with her law degree. She had cerebral palsy, and said that the Scouts were the only place she'd found where she'd been completely accepted as herself. Her loyalties to the organization couldn't have been more clear or inspiring. She told us some risqué stories (to her; I didn't think they were racy at all) about how Daisy had grown up in the house, how her mother had been great friends with (spit) General Sherman (Savannah was the one major city he DIDN'T burn), how her parents' parents had been against their marriage because the father's side wanted him to marry British royalty, and the mother's side wanted her to marry someone who'd had to work for his gazillions. Oh, and how Daisy was just about to finalize a divorce from her philandering husband when he died and saved her the scandal.

The place also had a large, laminated version of a comic book I'd had back when I was a kid that told the story of Daisy. "See?" I told the tour director. "It says that a piece of rice got lodged in her ear from her wedding reception, and she was deaf. How does losing the hearing in one ear make you deaf in both?" The guide told me that Daisy had long had problems with her ears that resulted in hearing loss, and that when that rice thrown at her wedding had been extricated by a doctor, he'd punctured her eardrum, causing an infection that made things worse.

I was wowed by Daisy's art, both painting and sculpture!

Actor playing a free woman who was a successful dressmaker.
Took a trolley ride in which it seemed everything worth seeing was on the right, and I was seated on the left. The guy kept telling us to look up at steeples, and there were indeed windows toward the top of the bus, but they were just slits. Perhaps horse carriage is the best way to see the city. Then again, those carriages don't have costumed actors stepping on board at certain points, giving their take on Savannah's history and chewing the scenery something awful.

There was also a free bus, but sometimes it didn't announce what the next possible stop was, and they have a window covering that makes it quite difficult to see where you are, in case that might help the bewildered tourist. The best way is to find someone who's going to the same stop you are and get off when they do.

In addition to all these rides that keep Savannah traffic at a crawl, there's also a pedal bus. The guy on that told me that though one person can work it, it's quite difficult. They take a minimum of six pedaling passengers. I saw one group sedately maneuvering through the streets—the guy said they can go up to 11 mph, though they usually go about 2. Saw one bachelor party wobbling their way down the street, and watched as one bachelorette party took their seats after hitting a bar. They were all schnozzled, and the pedal bus is set up so that a guy can serve drinks from the central portion of it, while their drinks are secured in a trough. When everyone leaves, one guy remains to steer while the other guy hooks the bus up to a truck and it gets towed back home.

SCAD, the Savannah College of Art & Design, is everywhere. At times it seems as if it owns half the city. However, there were art students everywhere, and at one meal I overheard the people at the next table discussing fonts. Saw a plein air arteest at work next to one fancy house.

I tried the Gryphon, a fancy-fancy tea room that let me sit outside so I could watch the Saturday crowd. It was "Wag-a-Ween," and the vast number of pedestrians all seemed to have costumed dogs in tow. The dogs visit participating shops and get doggie treats. How cute! (Proceeds went to local animal shelters.) I got to drink some lovely tea and had crustless cucumber sandwiches and a little green salad and—don't tell—a bit of ice cream. Went down to the corner tea merchant and bought my very first loose-leaf tea and infuser so I can be every bit as classy back home. Even if you don't like tea, check out the place. Inside, they have a huge stained glass rotunda with a glorious chandelier hanging from its center! The instrumental Addams Family theme played softly in the background.

This dog would NOT stand still for his picture!

The tours all made note of the movies shot in downtown Savannah, including Midnight in the Garden of Whatever It Was, Forrest Gump (what was the purpose of that movie, anyway?) and others.

I went to the Jepson Center for "Monet and American Impressionism," a marvelous exhibition that included Monet's "Oat Field," which I think is credited as the very first impressionistic painting EVAIR. This was stuff so cool I even cracked open my wallet to buy the show book. And a cute little magnetic Monet doll for the fridge.

Savannah was shoulder-to-shoulder tourists, especially along the riverfront. There the traffic was bumper-to-bumper and stopped more than at a crawl. Even the pedestrians often had to stand still just because of everyone there. There seemed to be lots more restaurants than Charleston had (though Charleston had a LOT), and watch out for the cheesy tourist souvenir shops down by the river.

I tried out some of the art shops at City Market, and had a lovely, long talk with Sandra Edgar Davis, the owner of the Signature Gallery. She was so inspiring! Her shop displays local artists, and her own work is bright and humorous. She told me about Savannah's mysterious and wonderful Red Cat. At a nearby gallery, I watched an artist do some knife painting, then saw that he had more work displayed a few doors down. He seems to be doing a booming business, but the stuff he does seems to be all the same thing: tree branches with smooshies between the limbs. Occasionally he'll put a local statue landmark in front of the trees, but do that in flat brushwork while the trees are done with knife work, so it looks discombobulated.

All ships in the harbor, and all that, I guess. More power to him.

I also checked out the Blick megastore because I'd been told it was so very, very much more than Raleigh's own Jerry's Artarama. It was nice. Wider aisles, neater displays. Higher prices. I was impressed by their collection of 200ml paint tubes, and asked where they kept their alkyds. I've been thinking about getting those in larger tubes to make me loosen up more, but Jerry's doesn't carry them.

"Alkyds?" the clerk blankly asked. She'd never heard of it. She didn't really think the medium existed. So much for Blick.

Got a takeout salad for dinner, convinced a McDonalds that no, they really did make breakfasts all day now, and so got a breakfast biscuit, returned the rental car, caught the shuttle back to the hotel, and packed for the return trip. The next morning I heated up the biscuit, and by golly the hotel let me take the shuttle to Amtrak. (The night before, they said I'd likely have to get a cab. $$!!)

At Amtrak they gave us 15 minute warning to get our tickets before the window closed for a while, so I dashed to the ladies' room before the train would come. I heard the speakers say, "Wah wah wah," and I ambled out again… to an empty lobby. There was the train! Run, run, run! Turns out it waited until the proper departure time, so I could have walked, but still—!

At Wilson the Carolinian was "only" running an hour late. Got home safe & sound, but I haven't checked yet how much damage I did to the Mastercard.

I think I'd like to take some Homes tours in Savannah/Charleston, but other than that I think I saw everything that needed to be seen. Definitely worth a trip to those who haven't been. Have you?