Join me in Ireland! Fiona Claire’s Ireland Writer Tours, Summer, 2016!

I have been invited to present group classes, workshops and individual critiques for the prestigious Ireland Writer Tours next summer.  The workshop will focus on small presses and self-publishing, along with craft and related topics.  RMFW’s Writer of the Year, Susan Spann, has been blogging about her experience with the tour this summer. She has some excellent photos and memories to share.  These writer tours are so exciting! It’s a combination mini-writer’s conference and an unforgettable tour of haunted castles, faerie forests, and mysterious lakes and caves. Yes, I’ll be working, but I’ll also be touring with the attendees, soaking up all the atmosphere and magic that the Emerald Isle can offer.  More later, and if you have ever had any questions about writer tours like this, let me know, and I’ll get some insider answers for you!

The Promise of Spring

ImageAh springtime! How I’ve missed the green, the warmth, the sweet smells. Does spring bring new life to you, too, and to your writing?  Now’s a great time to dust off your journal and describe the colors and smells unique to spring.  Sounds, too–after the quiet season of snow, the world is alive with chipmunks and ground squirrels, scolding whoever it is they scold, and birdsong traveling under the forest canopy as robins appear and add their voice to the spring concert. Just what I need to get back into my latest work-in-progress and write new pages! Here’s to a new season of inspiration for your writing, and mine!

Yoga for the eyes – eye care

Give your eyes a good workout

Geepers, peepers!  this article from ThinkSmart caught my eye.  From the book Eye Yoga by Jane Rigney Battenberg and Martha Rigney, you can dust off your deep brain and increase your eye muscles, which will help increase your eye’s flexibility, relaxation, ability and stamina…even help maintain or improve vision!   The exercises:  (1) Clock circles – keep your head still and pick a 12 o’clock starting point, sweep your gaze in a clockwise circle.  Reverse and repeat.  (2) Finger push-ups – hold your finger in front of your nose at arm’s length and slowly move your finger closer and farther away, keeping it in focus.  (3) V-in and V-out.  Make a “V” with two fingers, then slightly cross your eyes and focus on a point slightly in front of then slightly behind the V until you see three fingers.  After your eye workout, close your eyes to relax them.

Mac or PC? There’s a third option: Linux

There are really 3 options: Mac, PC, or Linux

Good morning.  You’ve seen those PC/Mac ads.  Ask five friends and I’m sure you’ll get five different opinions on which operating system is best and why.  Today, I’ll propose a third option for you.

My college-aged daughter bought a bottom-of-the-line PC and one of her geeky roommates installed the Linux system in her PC.  the Linux system boasts one of the features that makes Mac famous … a sytem impervious to the barrage of viruses nerdy little demons send via the Internet to cripple and/or destroy operating systems.

Buying a PC and equipping it with the Linux OS  is the best of both worlds! You can be  protected from viruses, just as with a Mac, but without the higher initial investment that a Mac represents.  My daughter also uses a free download word processing program, Open Office, another bargain.  She admitted it was a bit of work, getting used to the different operating system, and she likes Open Office because it doesn’t assume things and automatically start a bulleted list, for example, like MS Office does.

So, she has the Linux-operated laptop and a PC desktop, best of both worlds.  She has had this system for over a year and laughs in the face of viruses and worms.

Because I don’t have access to a brainy computer person who could install Linux in a new PC, and because I don’t have a twenty-something mind that makes it easier to learn new things, and because Mac owners rave about the intuitive features, One-to-One classes and warranties, and free group lessons on a drop-in basis, it all became irresistible to me.

Have you gone to weddings and seen those terrific slide shows of the bride and groom from infancy to the present, and wished you could make slide shows like that?  Or seen great videos of Baby’s First Year, and wished you could make one for your grandchildren?  Or seen wonderful memory interviews with a beloved relative who shared their unique lives on video?  But who can afford a professional to do it? 

Five years ago I wanted to put up a YouTube video,  but struggling with my PC (a brand-new Gateway laptop at the time) and with my daughter’s PC (a new Dell at the time), I tried for several MONTHS and couldn’t do it.  (I was also not in a position to buy another new computer because I bought a new one just for that specific purpose, and was reassured the PC could do what I wanted it to do.)

By contrast, I have been a Mac owner for just seven days, and I created this video tour.  See at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWUy-DI-UmI  The only one-to-one class I had was on the operating system.  No one helped me with this video.

Granted, there are some glitches — it was my very first effort, and I’ll use a tripod next time for steadier video, but to me, THIS is the difference between a PC and a Mac.  Not price (though as I mentioned, it took me YEARS to understand the economics of buying a lower-priced PC and spending hundrds of dollars on virus software and the inescapable trips to the computer hospital when viruses sneaked past that software.  Mac has user-intuitive features that enable, not challenge the user.

My CPA husband is a PC fan because he doesn’t need graphics, but in this world, who doesn’t want to work with photos and home videos?  If you make even limited use of photos and graphics, the Mac is a dream and worth the investment. 

But … if your budget is tight (and what writer’s budget isn’t), if you’re tired of viruses, computer crashing, paying hundreds in repairs, the PC with a Linux-operated system is what I would recommend.  I would contact my local college for a geek to install theLinux.  Or if you agree with the long-term economics, the Mac is great.  Please note:  I do not work and never have worked for Mac, nor does any relative or close friend of mine.  I’m just excited about its features.)

What’s *your* favorite computer system, and why?

TOP TEN Survival tips for broken collarbone aka clavicle

My broken clavicle. For adults, recovery from this injury is typically a slow. frustrating experience. Use these tips to minimize the pain and inconvenience, and get well soon!

On August 7 I took my niece’s 100-pound golden retriever, Bogie, for a walk. Bogie’s as gentle and mellow as one would expect a ten-year-old dog to be. This time was different, though. He saw a rabbit and launched after it as quickly as his large muscles could propel him.

He jerked the leash so hard I went airborne. From the tug, I suffered separation at the right shoulder. When I landed, almost on my head, I broke my clavicle.

This is a painful, slow-healing break. At three weeks into the healing process, I noticed little decrease in the pain level. Sleeping was torture if I moved in any way beyond laying flat on my back. Getting out of bed, indeed, movement of any sort was painful, even with the considerably strong pain meds.

Here, then, are my top ten tips for survival during the healing process of this difficult break.

10. Don’t go off the pain meds before scheduled. I didn’t like the woozy, out-of-it feeling so I thought I could go off the meds. It was agony. Don’t do it. And don’t accept offers from well-meaning relatives to try their meds! Follow the doctor’s recommendations.

9. Go sleeveless and strapless. Women, get very loosely knit sleeveless tops with stretch lace straps. The looser the better. In the first few days, any movement was torture, and if I could slip the tops on from over the hips instead of over the head, it was much less painful those first three weeks. This loosely woven, sleeveless top worked great with a strapless bra to alleviate any strain to the bones and bruises. Men, go to a bigger size on the undershirts, and putting on standard shirts should be fairly easy.

8. Use ice packs often. Avoid frostbite, of course, but cooling the area helps lessen the pain.

7. Lie down regularly on your back. It relieves the strain because your muscles will be seizing, trying to protect the area. Ten to fifteen minutes makes a big difference, and discourages the urge to collapse.

6. Maintain your posture. Make a conscious effort to stand and sit straight. It hurts but also helps. Because the healing process for adults is so long, protect your posture and this will help protect other parts of your body from getting out of adjustment and adding more problems to your plate.

5. Count on little or no progress for the first three weeks. If you heal more rapidly you’ll be relieved and thankful. If you don’t, you can avoid devastating disappointment.

4. Commit yourself to healing time. Don’t hesitate to excuse yourself and go lie down if the pain is bad. Don’t worry about refusing social engagements, or about making social visits brief. You need to devote your energy to healing and resting.

3. Escape – at least mentally. Get your mind off your woes by finding some good books to read. And make those good books small and light so you can read while lying down as well as sitting. This need not be expensive. Send a friend to a used bookstore, and tell him or her the kind of books and subjects that interest you. This is a perfect time to watch all those back issues of Mad Men or movies you’ve been wanting to see. Take full advantage of their power to take your mind off the pain.

2. Improvise to minimize pain and setbacks. I placed my hair dryer on my bathroom counter, elevated it with a towel and sat on a short stool. This enabled me to dry my hair with one hand. I used a hair dryer-brush combination and moved very slowly when styling because any quick movement hurts. I chose my easiest to button shorts, and didn’t concern myself with fashion at all. Comfort and cleanliness were my only concerns. I didn’t even TRY to cook, either.

1. Find a pleasant response to, “How are you doing?” People ask because they care, and they really don’t want to hear every minute detail of your suffering. Keep your response upbeat, because your subconscious is listening to you, too. If the drill is, “I am suffering so much,” over and over, think of what that does to your psyche, and how much better the response would be if you thought of the progress you had made, no matter how small, and responded, “I am now able to dress myself,” for example, or, “I’m learning to adjust.” These are truths that will make you feel better, as well as your concerned loved one. Protect your attitude as carefully as you protect your injury.

Bonus tips: Even after you’ve graduated from the standard or the “Figure 8” sling, be sure to wear it when out in public so no one accidentally slaps you on the shoulder or enthusiastically hugs you. And thank your spouse or significant other frequently for their help. 🙂

I won’t lie to you. You won’t “feel better in no time.” This is an injury with a longer recovery time but, with patience and kindness, it will happen! Be kind to yourself and others, exercise patience, and know that it will ultimately heal. Good luck and good healing to you!

SEPT. 8 POSTSCRIPT – I located an informative site from a man who had the misfortune of breaking first his left clavicle, then his right.  For the first break, he was in the lucky 90% that heal.  His second break required surgery.  See his site for excellent info, Xrays and surgery options.   http://john.jpy.com/clavicle/

Have tips to share? Find this article useful? Please leave a comment, and take care!

Bad oral health can hurt your heart, bones, kidney….

Links have been bound between heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's and even some cancers.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the teeth,” the old saying goes.  New information about the link between bad oral health and heart disease brings a new slant to this old saying.

Since I have atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), I’m alert for information that affects the heart.  Imagine my surprise when I read that the health of your gums can affect your health.  In a recent  article by Dr. Ranit Mishori,  she explained that in a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology, researchers studied the health of people who had recently suffered a heart attack, and found that those patients had bad oral health than the control group.

How could bad oral health cause heart attacks?  The report didn’t say it caused them, but did show an association between the two.  In periodontitis, the advanced stage of gingivitis, bacteria, or plaque, accumulates in the gums. These organisms release toxins that can circulate, via blood vessels, through the body. 

Multiple studies from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology revealed that, the more advanced the gum disease, the thicker and harder the walls of the arteries.  Even more startling: they found this to be true even for young, health patients with no other heart problems. 

These circulating toxins can cause more havoc in your body. Scientists are finding more links between bad oral health and diabetes, kidney disease, pre-term labor, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, and even certain types of cancer.

Bottom line:  we need to protect our gums and teeth.  The American Academy of Periodontology says that one in three adults over 30 have periodontal disease.  Avoid being one of these statistics, and you may very well be on your way to a healthier heart.  So — your horse owners out there, is that why horse buyers always check a horse’s teeth?

Top Ten Gifts for Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt Pearlie

The best gifts for active seniors say, "I love you" and "I'm thinking of you."

I’m glad you found my list from last year useful.  I’m back from my on-line shopping trip with some old favorites and some new gift giving ideas for that creatively aging  person in your life.  Be sure to select the shipping method that offers the most value. As we get nearer to Christmas, that may mean upgrading to a faster delivery service.  Happy holidays!

Under $100

HappyLite Mini Ultra Sunshine Supplement Light – – HappyLite Mini Ultra sunshine supplement light system helps fight SAD seasonal affective disorder and winter blues. Available through http://www.comforthouse.com/healsmarairc.html

The Sonic Boom Alarm Clock and Bed Shaker. The Sonic Boom, designed for heavy sleepers or people with hearing loss, wakes you with a loud alarm, bed shaker, or flashing lights. The Sonic Boom can be placed under a pillow, or you can plug a lamp into te back of the clock so the light flashes when the alarm goes off. http://tinyurl.com/yc6wqpc

$50 and up

Jewelry for Seniors – a marvelous web site with a category of gifts for senior men and senior women.  Nice, tasteful, clever ideas make for fun gift-giving. http://tinyurl.com/yber8z3

Under $50The Handybar Vehicle Exit Device. Spare your loved one the embarrassment of those slipping disks. This discreet bar does not require permanent installation so it can be used on multiple cars, on both driver and passenger doors, and front and back seats.  Also features an emergency seatbelt cutter and window breaker.  http://www.wellhaven.com/Handybar?sc=12&category=199

The Easi Grip Arm Support Cuff and Set of Garden Tools. For the gardener in your life.  The garden tools and support cuff work together to assist avid gardeners whose grip has slipped a little due to time, injury or arthritis.  Cuff easily plugs into the rear of any Easi Grip tool. http://www.wrightstuff.biz/eagrarmsucu.html

Dr. Scholl’s Shoes – ah yes, those ugly but practical shoes, right?  Very wrong!  I visited their site and was most surprised with theselection.  Cute boots!  Cute sandals!  Click on the link below and see some of the fun, smart styles.  A gift certificate sure to please. Monalo Blaniks are fine for the twenty- and thirty-somethings, but feet wizened by a few more years seek comfort in addition to style. Nice selection of shoes designed for style as well as comfort. http://www.drschollsshoes.com/Shopping/Results.aspx

Under $10

UN-SKRU Jar and Bottle Opener – S/he will think of you every time they effortlessly open screw top lids. The UN-SKRU’s been around for three decades –– a simple design that works better than any other for opening all sizes of screw-top lids, from tiny nail polish lids all the way up to the big car wax, peanut butter and warehouse-sized wood glue and pickle jars. Eco-friendly, too –– no batteries to wear out and dispose of, and it’s under the cabinet, not junking up her kitchen drawer

This easy to install and use opener opens all sizes of lids, from ½” to 5″ in diameter. It’s so effective that Good Housekeeping kitchens tested it and deemed it “best we’ve used.”  Company also offers the UN-SKRU in a festive gift basket with other hand-helping products.  http://unskru.com

Hand Key-per 8-way Household Opener – Clever opener has internal keys for easier turning of car ignition or home locks. Internally stored bag slitter is handy for envelopes, stubborn plastic bags, and numerous tasks where you “wish I could cut that.”  Also features a small jar opener, an emery board and a magnet so your keys can be stored on fridge or dash board – in easy sight so you won’t lose your keys.   Available on-line  http://tinyurl.com/y8blnwz

DOORNUTS Door knob and Faucet Turners. These simple little polymer O’s install over door knobs in about two seconds and allow folks with limited or no finger grip to open doors. They also fit over water faucets, and come with free DOORNUT HOLES that fit over pens, crochet hooks or art brushes. Go to http://tinyurl.com/y8blnwz

#1 Gift Idea! The best gift you can give is one that involves you.  This from Dear Abby, and too good not to repeat. Visit your loved one and help them set up their tree and decorations. Clean up after yourself, and remember to *complete* the gift after the holidays by returning to take *down* all the decorations and neatly pack them for storage until next year. Isn’’t this a great idea! Happy holidays to all! -Janet