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With everything happening in the world, I have had trouble focusing on my writing. I'm hopefully back on track (with support from Jack) and have returned to Hand of Magic, #5 - War. Here is a peek at the prologue - let me know what you think!
Long ago, Mount Olympus bustled with activity. A new type of life could be created one moment, then fickly destroyed seconds later. Gods and Goddesses argued, fought, loved, and partied, with little noticeable difference between those activities.
Now, this world sat mostly silent. Golden trees which once danced to their own music, now rarely rustled their blackened branches in response to the random memory of a breeze. Multi-colored butterflies slept in closed-off caves, while the endless skies remained empty except for an occasional flap of pointed wings. Once fast-flowing rivers of blood and fire now meandered along as mud mixed with a rust-colored liquid.
Charon, the ferryman for the dead transported to Hades, leaned against his pole, allowing the river Styx to rock his boat just enough to lull him to sleep. He dozed for what seemed to be centuries before he was woken by a rumble. He winced at the strength of the reverberation. Nowadays, deities forgot to adjust their voices to bearable levels when they spoke. Typical thoughtlessness.
The conversation was between two Beings. The rumbling voice started the discussion, but it was the lighter, softer voice which fully woke the ferryman. This particular Goddess had stopped speaking long before Mount Olympus went quiet.
“Why are you awake?”
The pause could have been a moment or ten years. Sweet bells in between the words of the response made Charon wince. He knew the music to be, in truth, a double edged sword.
“I have been called.”
“So? You never answer.”
“This time might be different. I am curious.”
The thundering tone could never be kind, but Charon knew both the Being’s history, and that the speaker meant well with his next words.
“Go back to sleep. They will only break your heart.”
The bells did not answer. The rumble could have included a sigh as it spoke again.
“Fine. You know where I am when you need me.”
A light, the opposite shape of a running shadow, shot past the ferryman and away from Mount Olympus. The skeleton in a cloak used his pole to maneuver his boat to the cave entrance where the dead once regularly appeared. He watched the opening, confident it would now not be long before he had business.
Jack thinks being prepared means gathering all his toys in one spot, and he's not wrong. Somehow “prepping” has gotten a bad rap, but when did it become gauche to be prepared? Nowadays we don’t know how to change a tire or live without YouTube or Facebook. Once upon a time, I could barely balance my own checkbook, let alone plan for a week without electricity. If I thought about it at all, I figured someone else would take care of me. My husband, my neighbor, the government.
I have a theory. I believe we are all more anxious than we were a generation ago. This could be because the horrors of the world are a second away from our fingertips. It could also be because we don’t plan ahead. Sure, we plan for the weekend, our next vacation, even (hopefully) retirement. But what do you think the chances are you might need to go a few days or a week without power?
Forget about the political anger across the country or the novel Coronavirus. We are one ice storm or an oil-tanker crash away from not having electricity or gas. Even if it was only for a week, would you be prepared?
Here’s what I want for you all: If something unusual happens, I want you to be able to pass the gas lines and the mobs at the grocery store. I don’t want you to put yourself in danger or panic because you can’t remember if you have batteries for your flashlights. You don’t have to go crazy, just spend a few hours so you and your family don’t have to worry so much.
There are tons of lists out there (the ones from the Red Cross are great) but I am going to give you a list of what I started with and have built on over the past few years. The basics should run you about $200, plus whatever cash you decide to keep on hand. Please, please, don’t think of this as prepping, just think of it as common sense - like filling up your gas tank before a storm. Before you do anything, you have to change your mindset and think of this as basics we should all have. Here we go:
Water - everything begins and ends with water. Drinking, cooking and toiletry, you will go through it faster than you think. Start with 10-15 big jugs.
LED camping lanterns. Forget about flashlights - you have to hold them, and they aren’t as versatile.
Emergency radio - Get one that can run off electricity, batteries, and/or solar or a hand crank.
Battery operated chargers - Make sure they can charge your type of phone or laptop.
Batteries for the above. Pay attention to this one. Find the biggest packs of batteries you can, then triple them. Batteries get used up quickly.
Gatorade/juices - Don’t buy anything that needs refrigeration.
Food - Granola bars, jerky, plastic fruit cups, peanut butter crackers. Double wrap them all in Ziploc baggies.
Pet food and medications - Put aside two weeks of both.
A first-aid kit with hand wipes.
Diaper bag with diapers, wipes, formula and/or baby food (if appropriate).
Candles/matches - Don’t go for anything fancy. Get the long-life plain candles.
Keep a duffel bag or backpack in the trunk of your car with a mini-version of the above list along with car emergency items (tire inflator, battery charger) and you are also set for traveling.
That’s it for your first level - you are now a prepper! Once you have those, here is the next level of security and comfort:
Water purifiers - These come in many options. I like LifeStraws; they filter the water as you drink it. There are also water purifying tablets.
Heat blankets - these are the ones which look like shiny silver foil. They are great supplements to the blankets around your house.
Battery operated DVD player (and batteries) plus a few movies. Also get 1-2 games, a deck of cards, and a few books.
Clorox/Lysol wipes (the big jugs).
One box each of medical grade gloves and N-95 masks. You don’t need Coronavirus to want to filter out pollutants or smoke.
A camping stove - gas or wood burning.
Rice/grain (large bins) and soup (get the kind that doesn’t need water or a can opener).
Swiss army knife (funny as it sounds, these things are amazing!).
Disposable silverware, plates, cups, bowls.
Toiletry kit (toothpaste, mouthwash etc.).
If you are a gun person, make sure you have enough ammunition.
Feel free to supplement from other lists and your specific needs. I hope this helps one person to be ready for the next ice storm or mini-apocalypse. And if you find something missing on my list, please add it to the comments.
Join me in continuing the steamy adventure with Madison and Alex. This time they battle ghosts and a traitor within their Pack. Check out #4 in the series at https://www.amazon.com/Hand-Magic-Ghosts-Diane-Moat-ebook/dp/B0845YPMDD/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=Hand+of+magic+diane+moat&qid=1579882427&s=books&sr=1-5
While everyone else worries about holiday shopping, all I can think about is ghosts. Spooky, cold-breath-on-your-neck ghosts! Madison and her Hand may just have met their match. After all, how do you kill someone who is already dead? Watch for number four in the Hand of Magic series, set for release in January. Stay tuned for updates, and turn on all the lights in the house!
A few days ago, I saw a FB post from our local sandwich shop. They planned on taking sandwiches to the homeless this afternoon and they asked for additional volunteers. I thought, "Sure, why not?" So after lunch today, I filled up a backpack with baggies of dog food and headed to the shop. The shopkeepers are lovely people, and thirty simple sandwiches later, we headed to the underpass of the Jefferson Street Bridge. The sun shone and I patted myself on the back for helping those less fortunate than most.
Today happened to be "shower day." Minutes after we arrived at the empty parking lot, it filled with people and activity. A huge truck pulled up with portable showers. Two young girls, not quite in their teens, assisted their family by ordering strangers around with more skill than a battlefield general. Clean towels, bars of soap, and toothbrushes were handed out to those on the list for hot showers. People appeared from tents, cars, and under tarps. Our sandwiches - and the dog food - vanished in five minutes.
Someone else drove up with donuts and coffee, both of which were gone faster than the sandwiches. Cheese and peanut butter crackers came next and were eaten in a flash. No one took the food or coffee and left with it - everything was consumed right there as if no one wanted to risk waiting an additional five minutes to eat.
I did not see one cellphone. No one asked me my name or introduced themselves to me. No one cared where I worked, what I drove, or whether I voted red or blue. Some people met my eyes, others did not. Everyone was polite. I had thought I would feel good about myself when I left, but instead I felt unsettled. I should have brought more dog food, blankets, something.
Do I do enough to help others? Probably not. The reasons for homelessness go beyond politics, religion, or any simple explanation I can put in writing. I hope my experience today will make me more open to helping others in the future. Maybe tomorrow when you and I go into work and complain about traffic, we can try to be a little kinder to those around us. The distance between myself and the people I helped today is frighteningly short.
In the meantime, I will dress my dog in a ridiculous Halloween costume. I will celebrate peppermint-flavored coffee. I will be grateful that I can do these things, while I work on being better about donating time and money when I can. Thank goodness putting my dog in a dress and donating to people - or animals - are not exclusive. Tell me, how do you work toward making a difference?
Who am I, and what makes my blog different? I believe that animal rescue, as hard as it is, can also be uplifting. Every tale I have ever written has animals as central characters. My goal is to provide practical, positive information for animal lovers, interspersed with helpful tips for writers (and writers-to-be). I will also share updates on upcoming books and my canine family. We all have stories to tell - let's get started!