Oh, England; I Love You So.

I can’t say precisely when I first loved England. Perhaps my raging anglophilia began with my mother’s choice of bedtime readings: Ten in the Bed, The Water-Babies, “Bessie’s Boil,” or James Herriot. Perhaps it began with television: The Chronicles of Narnia or The Scarlet Pimpernel or (my somewhat confused) late-night sneakings downstairs to catch Red Dwarf or Doctor Who -Oh! or Keeping Up Appearances!

Whether begun there or in some unknown infancy, I can admit to my affection’s growing through a guilty pleasure: BBC broadcasts. I remember paying rapt attention whenever they interrupted my listening to KBYU, the local LDS University’s classical music station.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

There was class! There was distinction! There was the most correct, proper way to pronounce …anything. I harbored a secret dream to one day be able to speak in as refined a manner as the BBC radio announcers.

I even practiced.

Erm… practised.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I read a lot as a child, my preferred genre being fantasy and adventure. My preferred period was the Any-time of Probably-England or its nearby Kingdoms. From Narnia I found Prydain; from thence, Cornwall; then the moors; Darrowby; Wonderland. England and its surrounds became synonymous with the romantic locales of magic and imagination.

My infatuation grew. Was it my heritage, being mostly of British descent? Was it my love of beef and potatoes? My odd sense of humo(u)r? My name?

Do I think I’m unique in this adoration? No. Look at the British Empire’s reach or at the popularity of The Beatles or Harry Potter.

I believe most of the world reserves a tender spot for that soggy land. Whether most of the world wishes to enter England’s sogginess through a magic wardrobe is another story -but the tenderness is there. Right?

©2022 Chel Owens

04/21/2022 of COVID-19 Life

I haven’t written about local COVID conditions since last October. Considering how compulsively I felt the need to describe life constricting around me when The Plague first came around, I should describe life releasing one again with as much compulsion.

Rather than label my error as ‘pessimism,’ I’ll optimistically posit that where things are heading now is what I am accustomed to; what is normal. Where things headed in spring of 2020 looked like the plot line for a dystopian novel.

Speaking of lines, things are flattening out once again…

Thanks, coronavirus.utah.gov. An important note is that this is one graph, no matter the variant tested for.

In Utah, the public atmosphere is mixed. Everyone behaves as if no pandemic existed, exists, or will exist again. …mostly. Public stores have lingering signs on the doors about masking or staying home if sick. I see a patron here or there, sporting the determined half-covered-face look.

We were not asked to mask at three sons’ pediatrician appointments; we were at a different pediatrician appointment for a different son.

I’ve visited a new dentist as a normal, everyday person; an old endodontist as a masked, must-be-healthy, sign-all-these-haven’t-had-a-cold-or-been-vacationing threat.

I faced a similar interrogation in taking Boy #6 to an appointment to look at his Sloth-like head shape:

©2022 Chel Owens

You know, Sloth-like in the back. His front is very smiley and social. As a side note: those baby helmet thingies are really, really expensive. They’re the orthodontics of infants with a similar price tag and aversion to insurance coverage.

On the plus side, the few times I hear of a person contracting Coronavirus I also hear words like “mild case,” “not bad,” and “feel fine now.” Encouragement to be boosted is seen on a billboard here, and a notice at the doctor’s office there -but I don’t feel hammered on the head about it. I am not in the workforce, however, so the environment might be different in that pool.

Inflation is finally accepted as happening. I guess the emperor couldn’t keep people looking at promotional ads for nudity any longer. Whatever; the prices are what they are. Maybe we can go back to an agrarian lifestyle …once the housing market settles down.

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©2022 Chel Owens

The Side Business(es) -Valiant Candle Company, Anyone?

We have a side business selling gaming dice and gaming candles. I wrote about a Kickstarter we did in February of 2020 for creating music dice. Since then, I’ve not talked about the business much. Some of you may not have even known we did that in our free time.

We’ve had the dice company about 12 years. Kevin thought of the candles and put a few out there, back in 2019.

The biggest surprise of the last two years is how incredibly popular the nerd candles are. Who knew DND Candles would be a thing? Who knew someone would want a dirt candle? A bacon candle? A whiskey candle? (The weed candle‘s popularity, on the other hand, doesn’t surprise me that much.)

We’ve had a blast. We’ve told everyone who’s come over about it; invariably, most want to try making candles as well. Learning how to make candles isn’t difficult. Starting a new candle business is. …Which is why I’m using Wednesday’s space to plug an idea:

We are collaborating with Kevin’s sister’s family (and their EIGHT KIDS) to get another business going: Valiant Candle Company.

So far, it includes a Dr. Who candle, Lord of the Rings candles, Star Wars Candles -mostly Mandalorian-themed, and Mythology candles. Check it out to see all the categories.

The sky’s the limit with creative designs and scents. We and my in-laws are trying all sorts of ideas. I love how excited our nieces and nephew are whenever someone buys their candles.

Do you like candles? What are some of your favorite scents? Have you ever made a candle from all-natural soy wax? If so, how did it turn out?

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DON’T FORGET that Susanna Leonard Hill’s Valentiny contest runs Friday February 11th between 12:01 AM EDT Friday February 11th and Sunday February 13th by 11:59 PM EDT. The instructions to enter are here.

What did I do all last week? You’ll find out, below:
Wednesday, February 2: Salsa’d to “We Don’t Talk About You-Know” no no no….

Thursday, February 3: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Geoff.

Friday, February 4: Friday Photo. Do you like big buttes?
Also, announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest. PLEASE ENTER!

Saturday, February 5: Attempted a pantoum about my second-most embarrassing experience.

Sunday, February 6: A quote/poem from Stephanie Bennett-Henry.

Monday, February 7: “I’m a Mormon, So” I believe in the Godhead but not the Trinity.

Tuesday, February 8: Popped off a weird response to the prompt of anxiety.

©2022 Chel Owens

We don’t talk about You-Know…

“‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’ is the #1 song in the world right now,” the radio announcer said this morning. I watched my boys in my rearview mirror; their ears pricked up. “In case you don’t have kids and, for some reason, have no idea what we’re talking about, here’s a little clip from the song.”

© Disney

“Trust me,” he added, “Now, all day long at the office, you’ll be singing, ‘Bruno, no no no….'”

Have you heard the incredibly catchy “Bruno?” You should have now (the video’s right there). It’s a song from Disney’s 2021 animated film Encanto; the musical phenomenon of creative genius Lin-Manuel Miranda -a man already popular for creating In the Heights and Hamilton. From the Disney side, he’s responsible for the songs from “Moana.”

With so much success, what can he say except, “You’re Welcome?”

Bruno, whom we are not to talk about, is a member of a family almost-all blessed with magic talents. While his sisters heal through food and change the weather with mood, he’s able to see visions of the future. Understandably, this skill quickly makes Bruno a pariah of both the Family Madrigal and the local (normal) town. The film’s talentless protagonist and Bruno’s niece, Mirabel, seeks information to solve the mystery of their suddenly-failing magic.

While Encanto leaves me wishing for a clearer conflict and a more solid resolution, the music leaves me and my family wanting to play it again and again. Why?

Did you actually listen?

The tune of “Bruno” is a Salsa. It stomps along in a syncopated pattern, constantly pushing us to aural completion. Add the video of actual dancing and you can’t stop your feet from tapping.

Me; I’m interested in discussing its addictive appeal. We writers need to take note. If we can create the same movement in an unresolved conflict, think how happy readers will be at resolution. Consider how word choice can orchestrate any scene like the steps of a dance. Imagine offbeat poetic meter!

Do you see it? Have you intentionally crafted prose or verse this way? What’s your favorite Disney song?

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Here’s last week:
Wednesday, January 26: Discussed the strange people who might like cats in “Dogs or Cats, and is it all Toxoplasmosis?

Thursday, January 27: Announced the winner of the Terrible Poetry Contest, Matt.

Friday, January 28: Friday Photo. It’s a bit undead.
Also, announced this week’s Terrible Poetry Contest. PLEASE ENTER. There’s still time.

Saturday, January 29: Tried the Golden Shovel form with my own poem.

Sunday, January 30: A quote from Life of Pi.

Monday, January 31: “I’m a Mormon, So” I am a teetotaler.

Tuesday, February 1: Wrote a folk song about 49ers -not the football team.

©2022 Chel Owens

Dogs or Cats, and is it all Toxoplasmosis?

“Mom, do you like cats?”

I thought about it, eyeing the orange tabby he cradled. “No, not really.”

My son faked a scandalous expression. “Who doesn’t like cats?”

“Me, that’s who…”

© Chel Owens

I can understand his confusion. Cats are the only animal we voluntarily care for at the moment, besides his Christmas-present turtle. The cats are the first pets we’ve invited in and kept. I hold them, talk sweetly to them, and feed them. Any second, however, I expect they’ll go for my throat.

© Chel Owens, from when we first brought them home.

I’m just not a cat person. I am, and always have been, a dog person.

My life dream was to travel the country in a pickup truck with several dogs. If I had to have a home, it was going to be a ranch where they could run. I relate far more to Charles Muntz of Up with his posse of trained canines than I do to Madame Adelaide Bonfamille of Aristocats.

Look, I know dogs are dumberer. I got it. And it’s not like I love ALL breeds of dogs. It is like I dislike all breeds of cats, and especially dislike certain breeds.

I think it comes down to trust. I know, given the option, that cats would take over the world, lock us up in a pit, and forget completely about humanity. Dogs, on the other hand, would invite us over for games and treats.

What about you? Are you a cat person or a dog person? Why?

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Here are last week’s posts:
Wednesday, January 19: Admitted that no one likes housework in “Neverending Lau-ahn-dreeee.”

Thursday, January 20: Announced the Terrible Poetry Contest. There’s still time to enter a sonnet!

Friday, January 21: An a-maize-ing Friday Photo.

Saturday, January 22: I found my feet! -in poem

Sunday, January 23: A quote by Henry B. Eyring about struggles.

Monday, January 24: “I’m a Mormon, So” I receive personal revelation.

Tuesday, January 25: “Daddy’s Here.”

©2022 Chel Owens

Neverending Lau-ahn-dreeee!

If there’s one thing I hate in life, it’s chocolate-covered raisins. Such deception!

A close second, however, is housework.

Dishes, tidying up, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, toilets, mirrors, counters, beds, shelves, drapes, dishes, windows, cooking, laundry, showers, mopping, dishes, and laundry -over and over in a neverending cycle!!

Growing up with chores, I knew my parents assigned them out of a sadistic sense of selfishness. When I’m older, I vowed, I am never doing jobs!

I haven’t quite checked that one off my bucket list.

I have learned which tasks I prefer over others. Like, loading a dishwasher or organizing a space instead of putting away clothes. And, I’ve talked with others who’ve told me their most- and least-favorite chores. An aunt says she hates vacuuming the floor but my sister loves it.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Which leads to today’s obvious question: do you think chocolate-covered raisins are an abomination?

All right, all right. Do you have a household task you’re fond of? What about one you despise?

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Voilà! The posts of the week we had:
Wednesday, January 12: “Ya Know What I Mean?,” wherein we discussed irritating idiosyncrasies.

Thursday, January 13: The love story of “Beatrice Box.

Friday, January 14: “Foremost, Facts are Freeing” for Pensitivity’s Three Things Challenge.

Saturday, January 15: Friday Photo.

Sunday, January 16: Internet quote.

Monday, January 17: “I’m a Mormon, So I Don’t Drink Coffee.

Tuesday, January 18: “To Be Readtinued,” in answer to D. Wallace Peach’s writing prompt.

Matt of A Prolific Potpourri has been doing audio performances of my Wilhelmina Winters series. He does them once a month for Short Story Saturday and they are excellent. Go listen!!

©2022 Chel Owens

Ya Know What I Mean?

“And this one here, this one we’ve got loads of in stock; ya know what I mean?”

There it was again, grating.

The motorsports salesman continued his spiel, hands gesturing and mouth sideways-smirking. Every now and again, he’d slip that phrase at the end of a statement -not in the same pattern, no. He couldn’t even alleviate my senses that way.

See, I’m bothered by repetition. Maybe you’re not. Maybe in sixth grade, you could have sat through your classmate’s reading her report aloud with an, “And, um” announcing each new paragraph. As she became more and more nervous, the phrase increased to lead each line. Then, she stuttered it after every pause.

Maybe you like “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Instead of reflecting on irritants, however, my mind wandered to a mirror: what am I doing, perhaps unconsciously, that drives others up the wall?

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

I know of one thing. I know because of others’ comments and because of my own instincts. I wrestle with years of childhood shyness and mumbling and such to just LOOK PEOPLE IN THE EYE when speaking.

Much of my conversational behavior irritates me. I know I couldn’t stand a recording of myself; I’d spend the entirety of it regretting this gesture or that head flip or ugh; was that what I thought smiling looked like?

Not that I am recommending harsh criticism of oneself. Rather, I wonder what habits you’ve noticed in yourself. Did another person have to point it out for you?

What sorts of amusing or irritating idiosyncrasies have you seen in others? Will you write a character based on them -if ya know what I mean?

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Here’s last week’s recap:
Tuesday, January 11: Updated y’all with “The First-Ever 2022 Blog Update!

ALSO!! Matt of A Prolific Potpourri has been doing audio performances of my Wilhelmina Winters series. He does them once a month for Short Story Saturday and they are excellent. Go listen!!

©2022 Chel Owens

The First-Ever 2022 Blog Update!

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I’ve been absent lately, in an unofficial fashion. Since this has been due to life and its overwhelming responsibilities -furthermore, since no one has gone looking for me in a panic- I can only presume that: either everyone is equally engaged, or everyone understands that I am not only engaged but have married and sired six children.

If you are feeling like panicking, this post is meant to deter that.

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

I am still alive. My family is alive and kicking. I’ve come through the holidays, have declared a word, and have been mentally planning what to do for this blog.

I intend to include:

  • More creative stories, although they may be short.
  • More off-the-cuff posts as was my wont before COVID-19 hit.
  • Poetry, naturally.
  • Reviews of favorite books and movies.
  • Updates on COVID-19 conditions, as necessary.
  • A contest, or many. I’d love to award literal prizes.
  • Quotes. I love me my quotes.
  • Guest posts. PLEASE!
  • Wrap-ups of my Tour of Utah and mystery series, and promises I’ve made to bloggers to read their works.

If you made it this far, maybe you’d consider helping:
1. What would you like to read? Why do you come around here?
2. Would you be a guest blogger?
3. Would you be a guest host for a contest or writing prompt?
4. Is there anything I haven’t listed that you’d like me to write about?

Thank you for joining me on consider the current chaos.

Good Ole Bill…. Thanks, GIPHY

Hopefully, I’ll squeeze out a plan for the year and get back with you. In the meantime, please do answer my questions.

©2022 Chel Owens

What’s Your Word?

Now is the time we’ve all dreaded: after Christmas. We can no longer laugh whilst claiming, “Ah; it’s the holidays” as we pop another homemade cookie into our waistline. Many of us, instead, throw around terms like resolution and goal.

I’m an all-year-round resolution person, myself. I’m also an all-year-round resolution-breaker. As such, I can’t get too excited about ‘new’ years.

For a slightly different idea, I’ve seen several bloggers come up with a word for the new year. I even read a friend who inadvertently gave a word to summarize 2021 before naming one for 2022.

I LOVE that thought.

Last year has been very full for me: job, politics and divisiveness, a close family member’s passing, moving house, pregnancy and childbirth, and COVID-19. What all-encompassing word, then, can cover that?

Pixabay

Chaos. Regrets. Crowded. Busyness. Craziness. Full.

In reflecting over the breadth of it, I’m going with Complete.

I’ve had regrets, make no mistake. We left planned projects incomplete in selling the last house. Milestones were unmet regarding when to move by. The bathroom was still in pieces and laundry piles lay all over as I headed off to the hospital to deliver #6. I can’t hang onto any of that like I used to, though. I look back with only a desire to let go.

So, with Complete, my word for 2022 will be Control.

This may surprise you. Control often has connotative surrounds; we’re encouraged to release the illusion of it or focus on reasonable expectations regarding it. The reason I choose control is for good. In my life, I’ve spent too long riding along and resenting. At depressive and stressful points I’ve complained about what is out of my hands …and done nothing to change the situation. I felt I could not.

Instead of being a passenger in the van of my life, I will take control.

Now, I encourage everyone to do the same. Yes, to take control -but also to look back and choose a word for last year. Then, choose a word for the next. What are your words? Why?

©2021 Chel Owens

Chelsea, Thy Name is …Aimee?

I’m in a mental crisis. For years, I knew my parents planned to name me something different than the one they switched to. They’d told me. But only yesterday did I learn that they’d intended to also NOT. USE. ITS. PROPER. SPELLING.

*Deep breaths* *Deeeep breaths*

See, a little-known fact about me is that I’m bothered by grammar and spelling errors. I certainly won’t return your birthday present over it, but I can’t help but notice. I can’t help but correct the problem.

A little-known fact about Utah Mormons* is that they are guilty of unique name spellings -including Jaxcon, Danieell, and Stephenie. Yes, these are names I’ve literally seen applied to people. I hate it.

So, naturally, upon learning that I might have not just been an Amy but might have been an Aimee, I’ve been reflecting on how my whole life would be different:

  1. I would be blonde. If not, I’m sure I’d have curls and blue eyes. At the least, I’d be cuter.
  2. If something were funny, I’d legitimately giggle.
  3. My pants size would be …well, at this point, about where it’s at. I would’ve had kids as an (*shudder*) Aimee, too.
  4. My husband would be named Michael.
  5. I’d be interested in “The Bachelor.” Heck; I’d know who The Sexiest Man Alive was instead of needing to Google it every time. Not only that, but I would actually know who he is and would likely fantasize about his running away with me on the back of …an oversized ant.
  6. I would get weekly mani-pedi‘s instead of one in my entire life.
  7. My favorite book would be the latest Eat, Pray, Love sort.
  8. I’d be a frequent shopper at that place that sells scented stuff.
  9. My children would also have unique names. I’m thinking Cashe or Leeder.
  10. Most of all, I would NOT vomit a little in my mouth every time someone spelled my name aloud.

And don’t say I’m overreacting. That would be a Karen thing to do, not an Aimee.

©2021 Chel Owens

*Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.