The Lay Of Engoron

From the Encyclopedia of Minor Horror Characters:

Engoron was originally devoted to, and a minor acolyte of, Morgoth before he was thrown into the void by the Valar. It should be noted that Morgoth himself was unaware of Engoron, his crush, or his services which barely rose to approaching minor.

His first crush destroyed or banished from the world, Engoron quickly moved to ingratiate himself with Sauron, the greatest servant of Morgoth. Again, this went largely unnoticed, though Sauron did become distantly aware of Engoron during his time in Numenor. Engoron survived the drowning of Numenor through the use of dark magic, though there were rumors that making himself into a form of fish hybrid did not go as planned and his looks — never great to start with — failed to fully return upon reaching Middle Earth.

When Sauron once again began to rebuild the Barad-dur, Engoron was right there but this time his efforts to suck up and ride the coattails of Sauron were recognized and rewarded. Engoron found himself in charge of the dungeons and sewers of the Barad-dur, where he served as the chief justice, keeper, and janitor.

It was reported that the greater the miscarriage of justice he could arrange, the greater the torture of both person and the rule of law, the greater his joy and mirth. That said, the only entry that remained in the scrolls later made in Minas Tirith indicate that even Sauron referred to Engoron as the Anus of Sauron for his position in the bowels of the Barad-dur.

There are rumors that he survived the Third Age and took up residence in Innsmouth in America, where his countenance served to blend in with the local fish people hybrids. It is further reported that he still comes forth from time to time to pervert justice and create such trouble as he can in honor of his first crush Morgoth.

*****

Satire people, Satire.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Some Snow Memories

Growing up in Macon, Georgia, snow was a bit of a rarity. When it did hit, a quarter inch could effectively shut down the city. There were no plows, salt trucks, or even snow shovels unless someone had moved there with one. I didn’t have my first white Christmas until I moved up here to Indiana. Been there, done that, a couple of times now and am good with not doing it again to be honest.

Our recent snow here was not bad by local standards, but the sub-zero temps were not fun. Something to do with critters sparked a bit of memory from the one real snow Macon has gotten in my lifetime. The great snow of ’73.

When I say great snow, I’m not joking. Here, 20+ inches in a bad storm isn’t really uncommon. In Macon, getting around 18 inches (what we measured, not sure the official measurement) was catastrophic. That’s what hit us, and everything did indeed shut down, including the power. Think that’s where I got my first large lesson on practical preparedness.

When my parents built the house, Dad had insisted on gas lines being run with outlets in key spots. Out in one of the utility rooms, we had old-school gas radiant heaters. They got cleaned up, brought inside, and hooked up so our house stayed warm. Had some of the neighbors come over for warm-up sessions since they had no heat. The government not having f’ed up gas stoves in the name of safety and efficiency at that point, our gas stove with those evil pilot lights worked like a charm, as did the oven. So, hot food, hot drinks, warm-up spot, we did right by the neighbors. Between flashlights, candles, and lamps, we had light too.

I think our beagle, Ralph, was over the whole thing before anyone else. When it first was snowing and all were home safe, it was a great adventure. The dog and I both had a blast playing in the snow. Soon enough, however, the snow was so deep we could barely see the tip of Ralph’s tail moving across the back yard. Could not see him at all, other than the tail. When he made it to the sliding glass door to come in, the look on his face clearly conveyed his opinion that this was bull****. He only went out when he absolutely had to go after that point.

For some reason I think Dad did have a scoop shovel, so we could clear a little bit at need. However, we and the rest of Macon pretty much had to wait for things to melt before the city could reopen. I remember that some smartass town in Alaska sent the mayor a single snow shovel as a gift to help with next time.

Just an odd memory that popped up, and one that made me laugh remembering the dog having to play snow shark…

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Happy New Year!

Yep, good reason to feel that way, and I like the idea of opening that door while wearing a bomb suit, ballistic shield in hand, heavy load out, and maybe even sending a grenade or three through the door as it opens.

Given the last few years, this does seem a bit safer, especially since we keep hearing

That we are indeed here.

And that things are going to get even more “interesting.”

I wish I could tell you that they are not, but I will say that for all the bad things I can see happening in this new year I also see the potential for a lot of good on the individual level. Yes, the system is in trouble and lots of things can fail systemically, from economies to the world falling into war. That said, I also see opportunities for individual freedom and liberty, and survival of same. Never thought I would say this, but just look at (or even to) Argentina for part of that hope. So, plan for the worst, hope for the best, and we will take what comes and make it our own best. Be Prepared.

Meantime, yet another year I did not make it anywhere close to midnight, or the living room, and am not bothered by that at all. Needed the rest to be honest, as have not been sleeping well yet again. As for going out, I didn’t like crowds before Iraq and now don’t deal with them well at all.

May 2024 not be a year of mere survival, but one of positive growth, love, faith, and all the truly good and important things in our lives. Who knows, maybe I will find that sweet young lady with bad eyesight and worse judgement to date and marry this year. Anything can happen, when we put our minds to it and open our hearts to possibilities.

So, enjoy the celebrations of the day, and the semi-regular updates and talks on preparations and more will resume soon. May this be the year the enemies of freedom, liberty, and all that is good in life hear:

And may this not be our bounce upon leaving 2023!

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Falling From The Sky

More serious post coming tomorrow I hope, but for now, this. About 0200 this morning, my brain decided I needed to be up and thinking about skydiving. Since I had to suffer through it, thought I would share the suffering. Well, and some laughter too.

Many, many moons ago, I did indeed jump out of perfectly good airplanes and fall from the sky. I joined the university sky diving club, and in addition to the first jump lessons jumped in on much more. I learned to pack a chute, was getting trained on packing reserves, and enjoyed the company of a crazy but interesting group of people. Not going to share too many names and such, just in case any shenanigans might not have had their statute of limitations expire. Or some people might not want to admit they were at certain parties or did certain things including jump out of perfectly good airplanes.

I do still remember my first jump (thank you lightning for leaving that one intact). Beautiful day, puffy clouds in the sky, you really couldn’t ask for better. Now, being a small club we jumped from a small plane. No ramp, no standing in the door, just a somewhat uncomfortable ride up, hook up your static line (first jumps are made so you really have to work at it to F up), then get out on a little step/platform while holding onto the wing strut. Jumpmaster makes a final check, reassures you, then has you let go and go into proper jump position.

For me, I barely hit the arch when the static line hit and the chute opened. It’s hard to describe the sensation of the chute opening, but imagine King Kong yanking you up by your harness as hard as he can. Not bad, but you do feel it. Per training, I quickly checked to be sure my chute was good, then enjoyed the view. On my way down, I went through a cloud which was amazing. Cool, moist, slightly gray whispiness. Really wish it could have lasted longer as it was neat.

Soon it was time to land, and I actually made the drop zone. In what became a trend, my Parachute Landing Fall (PLF) was somewhat spectacular. Not in a good way either. But, any landing you walk away from jumping out of planes or flying them is a good one. I walked away, and mentally was ready to go again.

In short, it was a pretty good first jump. Not so much for my buddy who I will call “Mike”. Mike was a bodybuilder/weightlifter who had muscles on muscles. Even our baggy jump suits (designed to help you play flying squirrel while in freefall) could not hide his physique. What it did hide, however, was an issue for him.

Mike left the plane right after me, and I was looking around after checking my chute and such. I heard a scream above me, a male voice rising rapidly. I looked up, and there was Mike, literally pulling himself up his shrouds one-handed while the other frantically tried to get one of his leg straps off his balls. Yep, he made the mistake you only make once and had not gotten his leg straps in the right position. Baggy jump suits do make that a bit difficult to be fair. That said, the King Kong sensation I mentioned earlier becomes more like having Hammering Hank in his prime hit your groin with a baseball bat. Been told it feels like that for the ladies too.

Mike made it on down safely, did a good PLF, and oddly enough had his leg straps undone almost immediately. It was his first and last jump.

First jumps bring out a number of odd reactions. There was a young lady who wanted to jump and so went through the lessons the club offered. Seemed nice enough but also a bit flaky in some ways, so it was decided to hook her up with a voice-operated radio so she could be coached from the ground if need be. Our reserves had an automatic opening system, so you were pretty much guaranteed to make it down in one piece, one way or another.

I was on the ground near the instructors when she jumped, and we were all watching. She did two things not uncommon on a first jump. First, she screamed. She kept screaming, and we heard it clear as day courtesy of the voice-activated radio. Second, she was a runner. If she had been on the ground I think she would have done 0-60 in under five seconds. Unlike most, she kept running even after the chute opened.

Since she was still screaming, the instructors could not coach her. Which she needed as she seemed to forget everything she had been taught. She even pulled both toggles down at once, which collapses your chute. Radio useless, we all started shouting from the ground. Thankfully, she did finally release the toggles and the chute did open back up. Even with us yelling instructions up to her, I don’t think she ever did really steer herself towards the drop zone. Instead, she came down onto the parking apron of the airport, still running, hit, and pitched face forward into the asphalt. Proof that God looks after fools and drunks, she got up without a scratch.

As we were around her, making sure she was unhurt, she said something to the effect ‘that wasn’t so bad. Can I go again?” I think the resounding no from more than one person hurt her feelings. That said, I don’t think she realized how close she came to potentially being a cake — as in a splat cake. If she hadn’t let go of the toggles, no one was sure if the auto-deploy on the reserve would have work based on velocity. Add in the lack of steering and no attempt at PLF, well…

Besides, you did need to steer. One reason was that the airport where we jumped, there was a guard dog kennel nearby. The dogs there viewed our arrival each Saturday as if it was that of a Chicken Delight truck. I’m not saying they put on bibs and salivated as they watched us, but… One of the members I got to know had a close call with them, as his departure from the plane was such that it made hitting the airport interesting. Since we were using round chutes mostly (squares/parasails were a very new thing), you didn’t have a lot of maneuver.

The jumpmaster had put him out so that he ended up headed straight to the kennels. Frantically trying to steer away from them, he had to bring his knees up to his chest to clear the kennel fence. The dogs were jumping and trying to catch him before he got away. He later swore that there were marks from the dogs on the bottom of his boots. Lifting up his legs did let him clear, and he landed just a few feet outside the kennels.

Being a jumpmaster and telling people when to leave the plane is an art rather than a science. For some, I swear it was a Picasso painting with no science involved. After my first or second jump I switched to a precision round so that I had a bit more control and maneuverability even if you did hit a bit harder since it was smaller than a reserve. ‘Eh, you’ll probably hit the airport’ is not something you want to hear, and I swear it may have been the unofficial motto for the jumpmasters.

When they did a demo jump onto campus, not long before I joined I think, only a couple of the jumpers hit the large parade field that was the target. One jumper landed in the parking lot of an off-campus fraternity house, going over backwards onto a concrete parking bumper that shattered their helmet. Another took out the power line to an on-campus dorm with their jaw. Another landed on the other side of the dorm and I seem to remember a tree may have been involved.

But the most interesting miscalculation happened before I joined, and it not only put the jumper down well away from the airport but resulted in what I call The Gabriel Incident.

As I said, square chutes were just becoming a thing. The club had a member who bought one, which was brilliant white. Soon, his helmet, jump suit, and even boots I was told, were brilliant white. He made quite a sight when he jumped. It also almost got him badly hurt or worse.

Between the vagaries of jumpmasters, winds, and other delights, the club had a chase vehicle to go get those who landed away from the target. Not going to mention the year this was, but it was an early 70s station wagon in all it’s glory. And it was lucky it was available that day.

Let us just say that things went awry. Our intrepid jumper in white ended up well away from the airport, well out into the farmlands. By chance, he ended up landing near a small church of a non-traditional type. One person involved simply called it a ‘roller church’ but they were well into their service when the jumper flashed by their windows. Which apparently sent a number into paroxysms and cries of “Gabriel, Gabriel” filled the air.

At least until someone went outside, realized it was just a jumper, and decided that it had been done deliberately to mock them. Luckily, no torches or pitchforks were handy, but soon a small mob of people were after the jumper. So, here he is, chute wrapped up in his arms as he best can, running down a rural farm road with an angry mob intent of vengeance behind him.

The driver and others in the chase car came up on this scene and made a bold decision. They didn’t stop.

Instead, they got around the mob and the jumper, lowered the back window of the station wagon, and slowed down just enough he could push his chute into the back. Someone grabbed him and pulled him partly in, at which point the driver reportedly put the pedal to the metal and took off with the jumper’s legs still dangling out the back.

For obvious reasons, this remained a favorite story of the club. It also does make me wish that modern helmet-mounted video had been around then. It could be a tall tale, but I will say that I was warned to avoid going anywhere near a certain small church out in the country either on the ground or in the air, and they were serious when they said it.

No, I never did a nude jump. Had a couple of (female) members of the club taken part I probably would have. As it was, they had done one not long before I joined, and didn’t do another while I was a member.

My last jump was sadly not with the club. Another member and I went to another group to get some jumps in, and frankly it was a mistake. Let’s just say the people in that group were many things, including possibly sociopathic. Let’s just say that “George” of the magnificent mustache and I were glad to leave that day and may possibly have discussed tossing someone out of a plane sans parachute after finding out they had tossed animals out of the plane for fun. Or at least they claimed they had done so.

My memories are a bit fragmented (stupid lightning), but I can’t remember if a third person was with us or not. If not, it was George who came down almost a mile away because the jumpmaster mis-set the auto open on his reserve. It fired as he left the plane and went into freefall, leaving him no choice but to cut away his main and come down on reserve. No way to make the drop zone, there were winds, and his landing was reminiscent of the opening scenes of The Six Million Dollar Man. He sat up, waved to show he was okay, then went back down. Never would admit if he was out cold or not.

Me, I made my most spectacular landing yet. You can stall a round chute almost like a square, if you time things just right. That day, I did not get it right. Short version, I came to a picture-perfect stop — while still ten or more feet above a freshly plowed field. Think Wile E. Coyote frantically blowing up at a collapsed chute and that would have been me. I threw my back risers up, got out the word “Oh” and finished the phrase after I hit. When you bury yourself up to your knees in a freshly plowed field, there is no PLF. I went over on my back hard.

I was supposed to do a free-fall jump but between what had happened and what we had learned about our hosts, I was already not real eager. There were some issues repacking my chute, but I was assured all was good. In fact, it wasn’t until I was out on the jump step that the jumpmaster admitted all might not be good, but if there was an issue to just reach back ‘and beat the s*** out of it with your elbows.’ Think I made it back into the plane in less than half a second.

George and I were happy to leave that day, and we shared our adventure and what we had learned with the club and others. For me, it was right after that “adventure” that I got the opportunity to become a pilot. But, it was a choice of becoming a pilot or continuing to jump. So, I made the jump to flight.

It was fun, and I do miss it. Even with the changes, not sure how well my joints would take my doing another. An orthopedic surgeon who did some work on me at that time told me I had five more jumps in me, max. Don’t think I have that many in me now, and what I do have left I will save for an emergency.

I will say I was glad to miss the “cake” that happened later. Don’t know about new systems, but will simply say that you should not spend a lot of time trying to clear a malf because if you wait to less than a thousand feet to cut away and deploy your reserve, it will open and cover you like a shroud after you hit.

That said, part of me really would like to jump one of the modern squares. Maybe even do a tandem jump. Many jumpers, including the female members of the club at the time, referred to it as “The most fun you can have with your clothes on.” At the time I agreed, though today I would put flying and certain types of shooting in that category as well.

If you’ve got the itch, do it. Jumping out of planes is fun. If you don’t have the itch, well, shake your head at my adventures. Hope some of it made you laugh and smile.

Oh, one more thing. What do you do if a jumper freezes on the step? Some jumpmasters actually carried a baton to whack fingers. Or, as happened with a military jumper who wanted to try it our way, you have a pilot who just gives the jumpmaster a sadistic grin and puts the throttles full forward. Feet go out quick I’m told, and then the fingers peel off and off they go. And, occasionally, they did help someone back in. Depended on judgement and circumstances.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving once we have medical issues cleared up, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

A Funny

I’ve been gathering medical records for various filings, and they are interesting. They can sometimes reveal things the docs didn’t tell you about, and sometimes they show other things.

Some I got this week informed me that I was struck by lightning while sitting on my horse.

Actually, I wish I had a horse. Not a pony, I’m not asking for a pony. Now, if an older horse who is calm (and shares a similar view on life) were to come into my life, that would be great. I loved horseback riding, and want to do more when and as I can.

As best I can tell, the mixup may come from voice-to-text operations, as the initial notes correctly show I was on the porch, and it looks like house somehow ended up horse. For me, I’m now waiting to see who, if anyone, notices it as things progress.

The Scene

Music plays, evocative of film noir, building as the camera pans across the tall buildings of a city at night, the clouds that have just finished a downpour casting it into black and white. The camera zooms in and down, into the shadows of an alley and a skinny figure garbed in a stained and worn cloth coat that falls down to his feet, with the collar up and a tweed flat cap pulled down as far over his face as possible

The figure moves in the deepest shadows, preventing the camera from showing his face. The movements are skittish, scared, and the figure’s head is constantly darting about, looking. As the camera pans on his movements down the alley, dodging puddles, the music fades and we hear the figure talking to itself in a tenor that is almost childlike.

“It’s my fault, it’s all my fault. It always was, I see that now. But, I’m going to get it right, I swear. I’ve done it, I wrote up all those plans and what went wrong. Where I went wrong.”

The figure moves on, always keeping to the shadows. His voice drops, muttering to himself, and we hear sniffling, almost like he’s crying. The voice rises again.

“Curse that Tom! That cat was just mean. There was no reason for him to kill you.”

The figure stops, straightens up, and adopts a level and reasonable tone as the camera pans around behind him, a door visible on the left further down the alley.

“I mean, it’s not like we meant for you to pop up right in front of him as he’s doing his thing. And, that mousey little fella with him was not help at all! Naaa, Na, nah, I’m not going say, I promised B I would never say that again.”

The figure stoops and begins to move again, the voice becoming childlike once again.

“But, this time, I’m going to get it right. I’m going to make it up to you because I miss you and that huge brain of yours. I’ve taken everything that worked and written it down. I’ve noted everything that didn’t work, and made sure it’s not part of the plan.”

The figure stops at the previously glimpsed doorway, carefully working a key into the lock and opening the door. The camera pans around to catch the silhouetted figure walking into the pitch black room. The door closes and the scene goes black.

“Yes Big B, I’m being careful. I know they want them. Your plans, our plans, the plan that this time will work and let us take over the world. But they will never have them. They will never…”

The light switch clicks and the camera has turned so that it shows shelves upon shelves full of binders carefully titled.

“ever get them, I promise.”

The camera then turns, and we see the figure for what it truly is. A tall, skinny white lab rat who’s eyes dart nervously around in a face that is clearly not all there. With the reveal, he finishes saying

“They will never get Pinky’s Binders! 

*****

If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, feel free to hit the tip jar in the upper right or the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo. Getting hit by lightning is not fun, and it is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Wallflower

Well! Hello!
(The redhead looks down at the key in her hand)
I’ve been invited in, and given a key, and very little restrictions. This is a bit daunting, and also a little exhilarating. I could do anything I wanted with this post! That’s… a little scary, really.

(photo credit: Oleg Volk)

My name is Cedar Sanderson, and those of you who know me, from real life or online, probably don’t realize something. I’m shy. Yes, really, the Lady in the Red Dress is a wallflower, left to her own devices. When I was a much younger woman, I was an introvert’s introvert. Then life happened. Now? I have almost twenty years of public performance under my belt. Which, surprisingly, helps with being an author. For instance, I asked a simple question, and the host here invited me in, gave me a key, and now I get to talk to you all directly. Unsupervised. I don’t think the old wolf knows me, or does he?

I’m rambling, but this is more fun, I think, than just doing my usual straightforward statement: I am an author, artist, scientist, mother, and many other things. It’s like working a room at an event, you don’t walk up and introduce yourself and then brag. You want to learn more about that person, and if they want, they’ll ask you.

I guess this post is me, being asked. It’s certainly going to be less structured and formal than the whole canned author interview usually is. Pull up a chair, get cosy, and let’s chat, shall we? I mean, there are comments. After you’ve read this intro, you can talk to me there. Best I can do!

Oh, I’m writing. I do almost every day. I do art every day, almost religiously. It’s the only way I’ll ever get better – on both counts. Besides, art is my daily san check. Some days? I’m a student of sumi-e. I’m a minimalist. That means on a bad day I can get away with a few lines. Like this…

“erotic, not dirty” art by Cedar Sanderson

Writing, well, doing it daily is great for discipline. My latest novel, The East Witch, took me three years to finish. Which isn’t normal for me. Even slow the way I have been since I started building the science career, I’ve been managing a book or two a year, plus shorts. The East Witch, though, I hit a snag with the research for the story. I plot like I’m writing an action novel – I do that no matter what subgenre I’m working in – but I like to blend in mythology and fairy tales when I am writing fantasy. I’m familiar with stories of Baba Yaga, who appears in a big way (the title reference!) but finding Siberian ethnography was… challenging. So it took me a while.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted with the end result. And, because I was working on other things in 2020, I have another novel appearing in a couple of months, plus the projects I’m working on currently! I stay busy. My brain is a bit like a squirrel on ripits and pixie sticks. So to keep it happy I have to write. And yeah, that’s about as weird in my head as it sounds. Which is why the new book will be The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack, which is a straight-up send-up of gumshoe, only fantasy. I had a blast writing it. Once it’s back from the editor (and that’s if it doesn’t send her over the edge!) I’ll share.

Currently? Oof. See, that thing about the squirrels up above? Yeah, there’s more than one. I have no less than three novels-in-progress, along with a couple of shorts for anthology calls. And then there’s the weekly prompt challenge, which of course I have to participate in, since it was my brainstorm to begin with. Although, that’s how Hatrack came into being. I wrote that novel in public, one week at a time, and then pulled it down after it was all done and off for editing. Living dangerously! So, there’s a pure space opera man-vs-nature in progress, that one ambushed me the other day. There’s a military fantasy I’m cowriting with my husband. There is the sequel to my homage to Heinlein and Norton, the first book was Tanager’s Fledglings. The second will be Tanager’s Flight.

https://amzn.to/2MzypHK

Oh, well, that’s enough about me. What should I know about you? What more would you like to learn about me? See you in the comments!

Scammer Missing A Goldmine

I can’t believe people are still sending out (and people falling for) the scam claiming to have hacked your computer and recorded you masturbating to porn. If you don’t pay up, they will post it.

Got news for you dipshit. You could make a real fortune by having people pay to not see me if such existed. The market for that is huge compared to one fairly poor blogger.

If nothing else, it gave me a laugh this morning. May this make you smile if nothing else, we need all the smiles and laughter we can get right now.