jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Today it was nearly 80. In February. In Ohio. Setting aside how messed up that is, and how it is no doubt a sobering sign of a deranged environment, I decided since I can't change it, I might as well as enjoy it (as it is supposed to storm then snow tomorrow and be nearly sixty degrees colder. Joy). I decided to do what druids do, get out in nature. I headed out to Ash Cave, which is more of rock shelter/recess cave than it is anything else and in spite of using it in These Haunted Hills I hadn't been to it (and now I see things to tweak).

It's actually less than 40 miles from me but takes about an hour to get to thanks to the rollercoaster roads and having to slow down thru small towns. I didn't know, until talking to local friends about These Haunted Hills that Ash Cave was handicapped accessible (I just looked past that one the web site). They have the 'grandma's gateway' trail which is a cement trail all the way to the basin. So it's a very easy walk even for someone like me who is more arthritis than anything.

Also those aforementioned allergies? They're to tree pollen. You know like the cedars and hemlocks I was surrounded by. Ah, life. I had my inhaler. And I was more itchy than raspy. It was a really nice setting. People have been carving their names into the limestone forever (I saw some from the 1800s) so if there were any from the original occupants (the Wyandot? The Shawnee? It's up for debate) you couldn't tell now.

The waterfall is light and you can literally walk under it if you so desire (the children darting everywhere did). There are a ton of people in my pics because everyone had the same idea as I did. I went to the water's edge. I explored the recess (but wasn't sure where the whispering galleries were) then I went behind the water fall. Some pictures of the way the limestone was carved by the water all those centuries ago will pop up on macro mondays.

Pigeons use the recesses to roost in. A couple came to see what I was doing. Or maybe to see why one idiot kept doing his wild animal calls. I decided that since I had the easy walk in, I'd take the natural trail on the upper rim. I climb a jillion stairs up to the rim and set off. It was fairly easy too for that matter...until I get to the part where I have go climb down some 'rock' stairs. Wet rock stairs. I decided that since a) I forgot my cellphone like a moron b) was alone it was probably not my best idea to try to get down those. If I'd been with someone and we could have steadied each other I would have been game but as it was, it would have been unwise.

I turned around and about then the ankle I broke in about 6 places as kid decided it had just about enough of my crap and started aching. Once I got back down the steps and on more even ground it was happy again. I did find another trail that wasn't paved that went a few hundred feet at least before cross the creek back to the cement walk way.

It was a nice walk. I got great pictures and a better understanding of the site and better questions I can ask my friend who is a naturalist out there so I can firm up a few points in These Haunted Hills.

On the way home I stopped at Arch and Eddie's for a tasting board of beer and dinner only to find out they had opened their own brew pub next door and today was opening day. Yep more beer was consumed and thank goodness I didn't forget my ereader with my phone because I sat there for a while sobering back up so I could get home.

Have some pictures:

From the near end:  photo DSCN0057_zps2zzo5cz5.jpg

Up close and personal :  photo DSCN0062_zpskzcdzw87.jpg

Splash down:  photo DSCN0063_zpsz94uimtu.jpg

Water in motion:  photo DSCN0068_zpsupv86gvf.jpg

Behind the falls"  photo DSCN0077_zpsotxxn8di.jpg

and  photo DSCN0079_zpsli72w0ut.jpg

neat lens flares:  photo DSCN0080_zps5yyo3w7d.jpg

Lens flare? Wet lens? Ghost?  photo DSCN0082_zpskvtste1n.jpg

Far side of the cave:  photo DSCN0085_zpsk47l1exh.jpg

Pretending I'm not sweating (my god, my hands are like Yato's from Noragami: Stray God)  photo DSCN0088_zps9u9qj82k.jpg
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
I've been interested in druidism for years (and now it's easier to keep in touch with that side of me, thank you internet.) So it seems a natural for me to go out into the woods for some quiet contemplation and a little picture taking for Earth Day.

This is actually not as easy as you'd think. I'm allergic to most everything about nature in the spring (looking at you pollen). Last week was so bad the asthma attacks left me on the couch most of the day. So yes, allergies and asthma do not make for easy hiking for the poor druid. Now let's couple it with some torn hamstrings, damage hip cartilage, spine arthritis and nerve damage (and this is just the latest lower limb boo-boo). It all adds up to me not getting out into the woods as much as I want to.

But today is Earth Day and the weather was hovering around 70 with the threat of rain. It couldn't be more perfect. So I headed to Lake Katherine because there's about a mile of trail if you count getting too and from the parking lot and 98% of it is flat even walking. That's not outside of what I feel comfortable doing alone.

 photo 100_5108_zpswiusvegz.jpg

I was alone in the woods and they were filled with dogwoods in bloom. Those are my favorites. I love them and it was beautiful to see them like a tunnel leading to the lake. Sadly I couldn't quite capture the intensity or the magnitude of how many there were but I tried.

 photo 100_5113_zpsgd4fhzhf.jpg

As I walked, I thought about life. The birds sounded distant but the bumblebees were all around me, getting some of their first bits of pollen, doing their thing to keep life rolling on. Without them, there's no us. None of them cooperated with me but there's this rather drab butterfly who helps with the pollination, too (Ah cryptic coloration, it's not really pretty but it does a good job of hiding them).

 photo 100_5132_zpseevdmrwe.jpg

But all around were reminders that life is fleeting and nothing lasts forever. The rangers are just starting to clear away the trees that didn't make the winter. 2016 has been good at reminding us that everything and everyone ends.  photo 100_5122_zpsnhhjasno.jpg

But even in death, life begins again.  photo 100_5123_zpsdnwisq6d.jpg

The dead are returned to their component parts and give life to that which comes next.  photo 100_5144_zpssxuodrzj.jpg

I was also reminded that sometimes you will get used. Others will climb on your shoulders to reach the sun. You might get discarded. Some will not survive the experience. Most will end up a little bent and changed by the experience.

 photo 100_5114_zpsxgwogjr0.jpg

But even when everything around you is hard and seemingly impossible, life still happens.  photo 100_5138_zpspjbfqzdw.jpg

It adjusts. It still reaches for the sky and eventually even the hardness wears down.  photo 100_5141_zpsneo2as0x.jpg

It rained a bit when I was there but the trees overhead kept me dry even though their leaves are just beginning to poke out. It’s a good reminder that with friends you can weather the storm.  photo 100_5133_zps5wm7y3iq.jpg

So take a moment to step out into the wild, soak it in. Set those problems aside and just live a little.  photo 100_5130_zpst3tctr5s.jpg

Happy Earth Day
 photo 100_5161_zpsvnpqjc2l.jpg
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
Nothing But Himself in Less than Three's charity anthology, Project Fierce, was set in a fictionalized version of my local town. There is on the bad side of town a little cemetery next to a house and across the street from a cheap (potentially hooker) hotel. This whole place has a bad 'feel' to it.

Today for Halloween I stopped in the cemetery and wished I had stopped when I wrote the story because it would have made it creepier. The heart of the cemetery is a hill (where I had Nobody bed down in the story) which turns out is a Hopewell Native American mound. WHich the town fathers then used as their own private burying place.

You can just about hear the theme to Halloween or Poltergeist at this point.

Then almost every headstone is busted off and just lying around the cemetery, some propped up against the iron fence.

 photo 100_4903_zpspplq2wyk.jpg the mound

The house Nobody lived in.  photo 100_4883_zpsimyv0ikb.jpg

I do wish I had been smart enough to stop earlier. Of course I wish I had published this story under my non-erotica name because I would have liked to investigate this world more. Ah well.
jana_denardo: (kept tears)
There is one thing to always remember about historicals, the people who read them then to know their history. They will not hesitate to point out if you're wrong. I remember this even though it's been several years, a 20-something member of one of my on-line writers group cheerily announced she was going to write a historical but she found research boring so she wasn't going to do any. Several of us tried to point out that this would probably Not. Go. Well. We got that 'shut up, old people' attitude. I wonder sometimes if she ever really tried it.

The big things in history are pretty easy. Not even all that much research needed to find copious amounts of material. It's the little details that can be a downright bear to find. And not every historical period is as 'glamorous' as others. Victorian, Regency, Roman, you're covered. I'm struggling to find out things for the 1930s (especially specifically for Pittsburgh that isn't steel mill orientated). Yeah there's the Depression, thanks for that. Never knew. Rolls eyes. Now, it is important to find out things like when was Prohibition lifted (one of my first readers thought it was earlier than it was).

But what I really wanted was, how did every day life go? Yeah I asked grandma who was less than helpful (in spite of being married with a kid by then so I know she damn well remembers it). I have remnants of it in her house. My friend [livejournal.com profile] silvrethorn mentioned the other day about the rural areas not even having electricity or running water in the 19-teens (I forget now why we were discussing this other than she's writing a historical as well with the extra added layer of 'fun' because it's in another country, another language). Grandma had the kerosene lamps, the bowl/pitcher wash up combo, the metal wash tubs (we store wood in it now), cast iron clothes irons (I use it for a pannini press) and an outhouse (until 1952). The other grandma had the ginormous radio.

And that's what I mean by little things. In Soldiers of the Sun, Temple is an enormous fan of the radio. He loves music, loves to dance and is a radio drama junkie. He, like the other demon hunters, live in apartments inside the Soldiers' complex. It's not that spacious but the man has the biggest radio he could jam in there. It occurs to me, however, that some readers will have no idea that the radio I'm talking about isn't some little thing on a shelf (it is described a little).

So today I was at the Mothman Festival which was great for story ideas. Let's be honest, my upcoming holiday contemporary short story is an aberration for me and crazy stuff like Mothman gets my mind whirling (and let's not think too hard on the idea of normal doesn't enter my thoughts too often). It's my tradition to always go to the Mason Jar, a sizable antique store in Point Pleasant (gets me out of the sun, it's one of the few shops that doesn't die in PP's sadly decaying city center and I love antiques). This time I found two 20s-30s radios. Either of them would be perfect for Temple (wish they had the dates more specific) so I thought I'd share them.

 photo 100_3557_zps649371dc.jpg This one is probably a little newer. It has knobs.

 photo 100_3556_zps1e03a7ed.jpg This is more what I had in mind. The door is used as volume control. If I had a house instead of a crappy apt, this one would have come home with me. I love it. It's in beautiful shape.

So yes, definitely, dig as much as you can to find those little details.


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