So, This Happened

I’m not a mechanic. So if you are, you might shake your head at what I’m about to tell you. So, not long ago, I went out to start my car. When I did, it sounded like a garbage truck—a new development since the day before that. I called the mechanic I usually take the car to and asked if I could bring it, telling him I thought the muffler had gone bad.

He said, “Yeah, drop it off tomorrow.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I believe in prayer. Not saying you have to, just that I do. So after praying, I was certain I needed to drop that car off not the next day, but that day. So I texted a friend and arranged for a pick up at the auto shop. Not half an hour later, the mechanic called and said, “It’s not the muffler. Your catalytic converter was stolen.” (If you’re wondering what that is, click here to be taken to a Wikipedia article.)

He texted a photo.

That took a moment to register. He asked pertinent questions like, “When did you notice the change?” I explained that whatever happened had to have happened during the night, because the car was fine the previous day.

He advised me to make a police report. So I called them. An officer came out right away with the news that the previous night, catalytic converters were stolen out of several cars in the area. A group of thieves had been busy in this area. Why, you might ask? (Or you might not wonder. My dad and a friend said this is happening all over the country.) In Illinois we have the emissions test requirement. The deadline for the test is October 31.

My sister-in-law then texted an alert she received on more thefts in a nearby town. Here is part of that:

Sigh. So I had to file an insurance claim and am now in a rental car as I wait for my car to be fixed so that I can pass the emissions test.

Hope you have better news. If so, please share it.

Photos were given to L. Marie.

Does Fantasy Seem Less Fantastic These Days?

I recently overheard a conversation between these doughnuts that got me to thinking about the question posed in the title of this post.


“What’s that?” you say. “Doughnuts can’t talk. That’s unrealistic.” Herein lies the issue that some people seem to have with fantasy.

Let me back up. I had a conversation with an actual person about a fantasy novel we both read, the title of which I am withholding. We came to the conclusion that the fantasy elements seemed downplayed in favor of a social injustice message. This is not to say that social injustice is a bad theme. But when a book blurb touts that a book is “full of magic,” I expect something along the lines of the Harry Potter series, the Nevermoor series by Jessica Townsend, Charles Yallowitz’s books, or the Oz books. You know—dragons, flying cars, lunch pails growing on trees, huge cats, inventing gnomes, and fantastic hotels. But that’s not what I found. Instead, I found rich people indifferent to the plight of the poor and magical healings that weren’t called magical healings—just healings.

   Cover art by Jason Pedersen 

This is not the first book I’ve read where the fantasy elements seemed a little scarce. As I pondered that, I couldn’t help recalling what the son of a friend once told me: “If a story isn’t realistic (The Hurt Locker as opposed to The Lord of the Rings), it isn’t real to me.” I’ve heard similar sentiments from others, most of whom would never crack open a fantasy book. As if stories of imagined worlds are inferior somehow. But imagination has been the key to so many breakthroughs in our world. Ask any trailblazing inventor who dreamed of a new way of doing something.

“That’s for kids,” someone else said to me about fantasy stories. Yet the Harry Potter series, a fantasy series “for kids” in that person’s estimation, has sold the most copies of a fiction series worldwide than any other series. When each book in the series was released, I remember seeing more eager adults standing in line waiting to pick up their books than kids. But I digress.

This is not a knock against anyone who dislikes fantasy stories. It’s all a matter of preference, isn’t it? And for the record, I love many realistic stories too. This is just an observation from someone who never really grew up; who never really stopped loving fairy tales with dragons and knights and princesses.

You see, I read or watch movies to escape. I love diving into fantasy worlds and learning about the people and creatures who inhabit these worlds. I want to escape from the horrors of the current news stories. So I wouldn’t purposely search for a book because I need to know more about social injustice. You can call that burying my head in the sand all you want. I call it saving my sanity.

Just my two cents. Feel free to add yours in the comments below.

The Merchant of Nevra Coil photo courtesy of Charles Yallowitz. Deathly Hallows from Goodreads. Dragon from en.gtwallpaper.com. Other photos by L. Marie.

Okay, So It’s 2021 . . . All Right Then


Just made a post-holiday work deadline this very day (or at least the day on which I’m writing this). So, if you’re wondering why you haven’t seen me at your blog on in this space, that’s why. Now that I’ve come up for air, I can say what I’ve been meaning to say: Happy New Year! I hope you had an enjoyable holiday season.

I spent the holidays working to meet the deadline, so all was quiet. Not a creature was stirring, except me, getting up to get more coffee or chocolate.

Yup.

As per my usual routine, I never make New Year’s resolutions. If a year like 2020 has taught me anything, it has taught me that plans can be changed at the drop of a hat. This is not to say that I plan to coast through the year without any desire to improve or perform any of the actions usually birthed through resolutions. But I don’t like to make promises that I can’t keep.

Another thing that 2020 taught me was to monitor my expectations. Ever read a book by an author that you thought was so outstanding, your expectations were sky high before the next book rolled around? Or, ever experience a time so bad, you thought, Well life can only go uphill from here? Expectations naturally form when something new dawns, and we can’t help approaching the unknown, based on our experiences. (Maybe that’s what’s been happening with Wonder Woman 1984. But I digress. . . .)

Many a time my expectations were so unrealistically high about a thing that nothing could possibly match them. I’m sure you know that feeling. So I have a “Take it as it comes” approach as I ease myself into 2021.This is also not to say that I lack hope. I’m just . . . cautious.

How about you?

Anyway, wishing you a joyous new year!

Meme from somewhere on the internet. Other photo by L. Marie.