In honor of signing another couple of intrepid travelers to our Ireland/Scotland Trip of Summer 2017, I am going to post all the things I love about the UK and Ireland.  Not all at once, mind you. One at a time so you can savor them.

#1 (In order of how they pop into my head)

CRUMPETS.

We call them English Muffins. They are not muffins, though, are they? They are nothing like muffins. Of course, many of our American muffins are more like cake than muffin. Especially grocery store muffins. You might as well just call them unfrosted cupcakes with fruit. Cupcakes pretending to be healthy. Actually, Giant Cupcakes playing possum.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent. I’m having a tangenty kind of a day.

Crumpets are meant to be toasted until crunchy and then the butter melts into all the crevices and also runs down your fingers while you are eating. Also nice with jam or topped with poached eggs.

How do you like your crumpets?

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I’ve got Chickens! Don’t ask me why – I just like them. And Fresh eggs are nice too (although they won’t start laying until fall.)

Do you know what breeds I have? They were free from a kindergarten that hatches chicks every spring and I have no idea where they got their eggs. They are named Highlight, Lellow, Henrietta, Ginger (or Nutmeg), Daisy and Viper.

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This is the stuff that makes me understand why people go postal.

Our local post office workers are no longer allowed to take a legally stamped letter and put it in the recipient’s PO box that is three feet from where they are standing. Nor are they allowed to put it in the delivery bin for the mail carrier to deliver. No. Said letter has to be thrown in a bin, shipped to a town in NEW HAMPSHIRE thirty miles away to be scanned and sent back the following day. Do I need to explain to you why this makes me crazy?

Apparently, they are trying to determine if they can close our post office. Meanwhile, they are wasting money and delaying the delivery of our mail. Why not put a scanner in our post office if they want to know how many letters go through there in a day? Oh man, I could really, really go off on this but I think I’d better take a nap instead. I’ve heard going postal is not good for your health.

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There is no good reason to show you these photos. They certainly aren’t flattering. Downright ugly in fact. But perhaps if you see them you will think twice about running yourself into the ground. Because that is what I’ve done; pushed myself to the point that there is no drive left, and my body is protesting.

What you will see down below are patches of dry, scaly skin around my eyes. They itched in the beginning, but now they only hurt – except when a new patch develops. Then it itches. I look about 20 years older than I am – and if you knew how vain I am you’d know how that bothers me.

I look old. My eyeballs hurt, the skin around my eyes burns and I am oh so tired. How did I get here?

It started last summer. I was working for the museum – I’m not naming names because I don’t want to cast aspersions. The fault is entirely mine.

So to begin again, my work hours at that job were reduced in the summer. Which was all right really. Who wants to work in the summer? But I discovered ghostwriting and started doing that to increase our income. It wasn’t too taxing. And when I heard that a job was opening up at our local school, I applied. Mostly just to see what it paid. I have mixed feelings about working there – mostly because my past experience with the school wasn’t all rosy. And I love the museum. It’s the best place I ever worked.

They offered me the job at the school, and it would pay significantly more than the job at the museum, partially because it’s more hours and partially because it just pays more per hour. My heart dropped into my stomach, and I accepted the job. But then the museum still wanted me, and money is always an issue – so I stayed. 55 hour weeks, plus ghostwriting 10,000 words a week. And raising kids. And writing my books.

I kept saying I was over stressed, but I couldn’t give anything up. Because reasons. Money you know. It was a relief to have some. We needed to get caught up on a few things. And there were the application fees. And then acceptance fees.

That’s the problem with expenses; they are never ending. I could go my entire life working three jobs and never feel the time was right to scale back. And plenty of people work multiple jobs their entire lives; surely I can do it for a few months – right? Why wimp out now?

Here’s why. My body is making me. I developed a repetitive stress injury to my shoulder exacerbated by working on the computer. My hands never recovered from the winter. I have itchy dry and cracking skin across the back of my hands which refused to heal despite multiple applications of moisturizer daily. Both things I would have continued to live with except now, I’m developing scaly itching skin around my eyes. It started in one place and again despite all kinds of treatment, it keeps spreading.

Pretty soon I’m going to look like a Silurian from Dr. Who. Silurian, you know the lizard people. I looked it up. This is my future:

Which might be more attractive than me now:

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I look ten years older. My eyes hurt and itch, and besides the prescription my doctor gave me, I think I’m forced to scale back. First the ghostwriting and then we’ll see. I know I should give up one of the jobs, but one helps support my family and the other feeds my soul. I hope you never have to make a choice like this. And perhaps I won’t have to. Maybe the little extra free time I’ll get from giving up ghostwriting for a while, combined with medication will take care of the stress.

I could be that lucky, right?

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I don’t even know where to start this post. The number of email accounts I have? The number of emails I get in a day? The black hole that waits for me when I start reading and following links?

Here’s an example: I get updates from Jennifer Crusie’s Blog, Argh Ink. Hell, I get updates from all kinds of people, but Jenny Crusie is fun to read, and also informative – and I learn things that have the potential to make my writing better. So far so good. And then I read the comments. I’ve gotten to know the people who leave comments on Jenny’s blog and it’s like a huge random conversation with all your friends at once.

What’s not to love.

But then someone posts a link. It looks interesting, and I follow it. In this case, it was to Alisa Burke. She paints big. It looks like fun to me. I start planning to paint my bedroom wall. An hour disappears, and then another as I hop from post to post, learning what I can from her. I can do this, I think. And why didn’t I keep working as an artist?

Meanwhile, I am neither working on my book nor my blog.

This is one email out of several hundred I get in a day. Can you imagine? I have a work email for each of my day jobs, a family email, my official author email, assorted emails for when I want to test a theory or be anonymous. Come to think of it, in one of my day jobs I have two email accounts.

I TRY to only read the important email. Unfortunately, to find the important emails, I have to find them. And that means sorting through some pretty interesting stuff. I am not good at ignoring interesting stuff. I am one of those people who sees something shiny and chases it until something shinier and more interesting catches my eye and then I forget the first thing and start after the second.

No, there is nothing wrong with my attention span. I am excellent at focusing. It’s just that I sometimes focus in the wrong direction. Okay, maybe not wrong. Just not the most productive direction.

And that is why, on top of the 55 hour work week, I am not getting much blogging or writing done.

If you see me out and about in cyberspace, chasing some shiny thing, feel free to remind me that my books and blogs are waiting. Who knows, I might even listen.

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