Thursday, January 14, 2016

Today, my heart is heavy.

R.I.P. Alan Rickman

My hero.

Most of my family and friends know that I'm a Harry Potter geek. My office at work is filled with HP memorabilia, the walls covered with framed movie posters. The list goes on. They also know that Severus Snape was my favorite and that it was a dream of mine to someday meet Alan Rickman.

Actor and director, Alan Rickman, passed away today from cancer. He was 69. He was surrounded by his family.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Excerpt from Vita Bellum

The following excerpt is from the Novel, Vita Bellum, by Angela Degelman

All Rights Reserved. 2016
"Isaac had been sharing with her daughter, Elpida, a harrowing account about how Alrek had once killed two dissenting rioters by merely taking them by the scruff of their necks and bashing their heads together, causing one's eye to bulge out completely and both died from the trauma. Zosime had quickly interrupted and told Elpida that she needed her help with something. She was quite uncomfortable with Elpida’s obsession and admiration of Alliance members, of the F.A.

She had later pulled Megaira aside and begged her to speak to her ‘friends’ about how they talked around the children, and Megaira had laughed hysterically. Aside from it not being funny to Zosime, she had then gotten very irritated with Megaira as well, but Megaira was persistent in her insolent laughter.

“Are you mad?” Megaira asked her, still trying to stifle her laughter. “What your children hear with their ears is nothing to what they have already seen with their eyes-it’s nothing to what they are going to likely see on this journey. Would you have them to believe that the world is this ‘imaginary Liberate' that you keep promising them? Do you think the “free north” is just letting anyone to cross their borders at will?”

“Then why have you agreed to help us? Why are you" -

“Zosime, if I had not agreed to help you get to the walls, you would be dead already, and my niece and nephew with you. I want to get you safely to the wall so that I can see your face when you see that it is nothing but a mirage – a mirror image of what you see right now. Take a good look around you. This country that you no longer believe in? It has a twin that has disguised herself as freedom but all that is there is chaos, hatred, and people who would as soon spit in your face, in the face of your starving children, than to see you take advantage of what they believe is only to be earned, as a birthright privilege.”

“I don’t believe you Megaira! You are always so bitter – you have always been negative and hateful and disagreeable – you just" -

“Ay, Dia! Zosime! Can you not see? Isaac has seen first-hand himself! You are not the first that he has led to the border, and probably not the last. He told you true when he said that crossing could be dangerous. Some made it – some not.”

“Megaira, do YOU not see? There is nothing for us here! YOU WANT to fight for your country – but what is left to fight for? There is no civilization – no schools, no industry, not even viable agriculture – the few churches left have had to go underground, there’s no medicine, and no doctors, and no "

“Those are things Zo – and I stand on principle! The wellspring of our once great nation is autonomy, liberation! You want to live where your rights are forever dependent on somebody else to decide-‘

“And who decided that my children should suffer? That our brother should be blinded and crippled? Who decided that our mother- YOUR MOTHER, should be blown to bits so that you would have the right to spray paint the name of your god wherever you chose?

“Oh, is that what you think it is?”

Of course, Zosime did not think that now – but in the beginning, it had seemed that all of it, of the rioting at least, was nothing more than punk kids defying the law, their superiors, and the police. Many nights, Megaira would come home after curfew (something with which their father had been very strict) drunk, high and dirty from having crawled through raw sewage in a chase on foot with her friends, “irregulators” they had called themselves. Not quite as drastic as the regulators who attempted to keep the peace by spraying protesters and picketers with tear gas, and pepper spray, or beating them with clubs, tazing them or even beating and bludgeoning to death anyone who tried to defy or protest the law. This had only succeeded in escalating the already horrid riots – leading to looting, burning of buildings and schools and hospitals. So many pharmacies were destroyed by different suicide bombers that schools and marketplaces had begun to ban backpacks or purses; businessmen in the bank districts were only allowed to carry government regulated briefcases, colored orange.  

The distrust of authority had caused so much dissention among the countrymen that the riots escalated into savage and bloody revolts, rebellions- pure mutiny against the government. The people of the country who received the most assistance from the government, were the first to defy her and usually the first to die. Those who had always been governors of the state, and parliament guarantor’s, the wealthy and the military, were the lone holdouts for a government takeover, and during all of the dissention, {COUNTRY TO BE NAMED} snuck in the back door and began to procedurally take out pieces of the country, little by little, until the 'free people' were pushed West. 

But free merely meant poor.

Too poor to fight back.

Too poor to purchase weapons.

Too poor to keep up with the wealthy merchants and governors, who while they may share the same stance, and maybe in the same earning bracket – had more guns, and would fight back, or fight their neighbor for what little they had.

It was neighbor against neighbor; family against family.

The more laws they had, the more violence. It was insanity trying to keep things straight from one day to the next.

And then the first bombs were dropped.
This excerpt is from the Novel, Vita Bellum, by Angela Degelman

All Rights Reserved. 2016

Stop Trying to Convert Me!

Social Media is not your Political Platform

It’s appalling how many people use social media to try to convert me to their political party.

News Flash: It’s SOCIAL MEDIA. I go there to be SOCIAL – as well as get away from the everyday, hustle and bustle real world, which quite frankly, is pretty damn scary and depressing.
Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Snap Chap, Peach, Google, Instagram, MySpace [who is still using this?]) – all of that is purely for entertainment purposes. Or, for keeping up with family members – which for some, is also entertainment.

The differing views (religious, political, nutritional, etc.) are in the thousands and sparking debate, controversy and hatred is not the avenue to promote peace. In fact, it has the opposite effect. Nobody cares about your opinions, especially if they don’t align with theirs.

Also, if you ARE getting your political information ([sic] Facts) from Facebook or Twitter, then you really have no basis to spout your claims. Everything on the internet is false. (It's True - I read it on the internet)

Keep Social Media Social! For Pete’s sake – it’s supposed to be all about what folks had for dinner, photos of their amazing vacations that we didn’t take, what Greek God or Goddess most aligns with your personal information so that you can be on several advertising venues, and cat videos.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Excerpt from Vita Bellum

The following excerpt is from the Novel, Vita Bellum, by Angela Degelman

All Rights Reserved.

Conversations in a Cave

"My mother died when I was 12- very tragically.” Zo said, her voice shaking. She didn’t bother with the details of the suicide bomber who had been standing near her mother in the market square. How her mother had died no longer even mattered. So many people had died that day and were already forgotten; their memories brushed aside with new bombs and new deaths. She had trouble recalling her mother’s face sometimes. If she were to die in this cave, would her children remember her? Would they know?

“I never got to say good-bye. I don’t want my children to ever wonder ‘Did I love them?’ or ‘Was I proud of them.’’

“If you keep talking as if you are already dead, you will never be well enough to travel to Jericho.” Misha answered, his face glowing in the firelight.

Zosime sighed. “Causa Mortis.” She glanced up at him over the fire and gave a shrug, translating for him before he need ask “Cause of Death, an Anticipation of Death.”

Misha was quiet for a moment, then shook his head slightly and said “Remedy for dirt is soap and water; remedy for death is living. You’re not going to die Zosime. At least not this day.”

Zo could not remember having heard Misha use her name before that moment. It sounded strange on his tongue, with his heavy accent, but she welcomed it. She hadn’t heard anyone say her name for a while. She missed even Megara saying it, even though it likely would have been followed by admonishment.

This excerpt is from the Novel, Vita Bellum, by Angela Degelman
All Rights Reserved.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Scenes on a Beach

(A "re-post" from a few years ago)

The truth about beaches - they smell like wet dog and fish poop. I have nothing against people who like vacationing on a beach, the surf, the sun, et. al. But to tout beaches as a "vacationer's paradise" - it's just a scam to get people to come to their beach and spend their hard earned money on crap that they can pick up in the sand for free.

My most expensive purchase on our recently ended beach vacation was $10 sunscreen with SPF 50 that was both sweat and water proof. Had it been sun proof as well, we'd be 3 for 3 in it's offered benefits. The numbers in SPF ratings are actually the total number of times you need to apply that particular sunscreen to avoid sun burn. I wasted my money on two tubes.

I also had to buy my son a new bathing suit, as his was swept away in the surf while he was trying out his new "boogie boarding" skills. First, I had to wade out waste deep in the ocean to bring him a towel. That was bad enough because I had previously had no itentions of even getting my new bathing suit wet, let alone filled with sand and sea weed. Face it, anything that forces someone of my size to wear a bathing suit is NOT going to be pleasant or filled with fun. The price of bathing suits at any store on a beach - not fun! There's no Wal-mart on the islands. All the stores are named "Ocean View" and "Pirates Landing" and they sell over priced sea shells, cheap beach towels and little figurines of dudes smoking joints on surf boards. They also sell $65.00 bathing suits and $10 sunscreen. But I digress, because I had to.

Back to the beach. It was hot and I was sweaty and I would have loved to have just stayed in the hotel room, in the air conditioning, reading a book, but I needed to be at the beach, with my kids, because let's face it. If a shark were to attack them or they were to be swept out to sea, I am the ONLY person who would be able to save them. At least, that was all I could think about. So, while my kids and husband body surfed and boogie boarded in the waves, I was their lookout for great white sharks, jelly fish or unfriendly surf. It's a hard job. You can just ask the church camp counselors who were there with 6 - 7 kids each in their charge. I overheard one of them tell another that this was the worst time he had ever had at a beach. Now you know how your mom feels pal!

Let's forget for a moment that most talented authors who write scenes on a beach describe it as "serene and peaceful" and filled with "fresh, salty air" and the hypnotic sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. Yeah, well if by serene and peaceful they mean screeching seagulls and people, maybe. Fresh, salty air - that means sea creature poop ya'll, and if you have the added affect of heated up sea creature poop, in the middle of the hot, summer days - that's what a beach smells like. God probably added the salt to cover that up, though I'm just guessing. Waves crashing on the beach sounds remarkably like static on a stereo with the volume turned really high and the left speaker blown.

This is not to say that I don't like a good vacation with my husband and kids. It's just that my recent vacation on the beach was eerily similar to reading a book in a port-a-potty. Hot, stinky and not a lot of joy in stretching the legs to find a good reading position.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

So This is Christmas

What a lovely Christmas we had with my side of the family in Kansas! No snow this time, though they did receive almost an inch on the day we left. Ain't that some "Burch Luck?"

This year, it was a different Christmas for us - much quieter. Not just because it was the first Christmas without Grandma Burch or Uncle Joe, though their absence was sadly felt. 

Our 2015 Christmas will be known as the one where Uncle Zane couldn't speak. Not that he didn't want to, he is a lawyer, for by, and his voice is usually the loudest in the room; the one heard above all others. 

In October, my brother-in-lawyer, Zane L. Todd, Jr. was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The tumor was removed, as were his tonsils, which is where the cancer began, and the fight was on.

He began aggressive treatments with both radiation and chemotherapy. The radiation he handled well, but the chemotherapy robbed him of most of his energy. He was unable to keep down food and fight off the nausea, so he typically spent the first 2-3 days after the chemo treatment either bent over a bucket or in the hospital on I.V. fluids. He lost a lot of weight, lost the ability to salivate, and the sores on the back of his throat were so painful that it hurt him to swallow or speak. After a month of not being able to eat foods, a feeding tube was inserted in Zane's abdomen so that he could receive nourishment, but even that food did not stay with him long - so great was his nausea.

Two days before Christmas, Zane's doctors decided not to give him his final chemo treatment - but only stick with the radiation. It was really good news for him and the family, as they felt the treatments were all working fine and it would probably hurt him more to go through the treatment than to actually administer.

So yeah, in all - cancer sucks and is bad and all that hoopla. We believe Zane is now on the way to a complete recovery.

What this meant for the Burch family, was a very quiet Christmas. That's not necessarily a bad thing, except that Zane brings a lot of light to the chaotic action of Christmas morning, or any party where we are all together. Again, his voice is the one that is heard above all others.

So a room in which Zane is sitting but not speaking is almost eerily quiet, if you don't count the kids (who range in age now from 6 to 23 - big shout out to my daughter Austyn, who turned 21 on Christmas day - WHOOP).

There was still excitement, and ripping paper, and pouting kids, and whispers about whether or not Santa was real, and was the turkey in the oven yet, and how about some more coffee...

It wasn't a bad silence. Just different. A time to reflect on what it means to be a family, how much we have grown, how big the kids are getting; how accomplished. 

But mostly, this Christmas, it was a time to be thankful. For health, for prosperity, and for God, who gave us the Savior, the one to be heard above all others.

 Rocky Mosler stopped by on Christmas eve to speak with Zane about what 
having the same cancer had done for him and to show Zane that there really 
IS light at the end of the tunnel.