I’m writing this blog post when I should be mowing the lawn or cleaning the hamster tank or a million other things that need to be done after returning from an out-of-town vacation. I had been mowing the lawn, but now I’m writing this post instead, because two bees stung me (or one very angry bee stung me twice), and I panicked and called 911.

In 2004, I’d had an instantaneous allergic reaction to a bee sting. My face and tongue swelled. My arms broke out in hives. It wasn’t pretty. Because of that reaction, I carry an EpiPen with me where ever I go, including when I mow the yard. I haven’t been stung since.

Until today.

I saw the bees buzzing through the grass as I pushed the lawnmower around the front yard, but I always see bees this time of year. They don’t frighten me much anymore. What I’m sure I saw were harmless bumblebees; I didn’t notice their angrier brothers until one or two of the yellow bastards decided they had had enough of me in their territory and jabbed me through my sock.

There wasn’t the immediate tang of metal in the back of my throat or the feeling of things swelling up (except my ankle), but I decided to make the call anyway. The Dispatcher and the EMTs were all very kind and helpful. The EMTs checked my vitals as I sat outside on the front steps while my boys sat inside distracted by screens. Truthfully, they’d been distracted since before I started mowing. I have a feeling they never actually heard the words bee or sting or ambulance when I yelled about my predicament from the kitchen. That’s perhaps for the best. Mama got stung. It wasn’t a huge deal this time. Their world goes on like nothing happened.

I, on the other hand, am full of Children’s Benadryl (it’s all we had) and have an ice pack on my extremely painful ankle. We’ll see if I can stay awake long enough to finish this blog post.

As I said, we were on vacation last week. We went to our usual family vacay spot: Isle of Palms, South Carolina, a barrier island just outside of Charleston. It was mostly relaxing with lazy days spent on the beach, evenings spent eating tons of fried seafood, and the occasional Pokemon hunt. (My husband and I joined the gleeful masses on Pokemon Go. We love the game. I’m Team Blue, by the way.)

Here are a few pictures to prove we were there:

That image in the bottom left hand corner is of a worker from the aquarium in Charleston helping three juvenile sea turtles find their way back to the ocean. We were so lucky to have the opportunity to watch such an amazing event unfold. The sea turtles had been taken in by the aquarium and nursed back to health from various injuries. Since they had grown to a certain size, and thus, are better able to steer clear of predators than if they had been hatchlings, they were released in the morning in broad daylight. It was an awe-inspiring sight. Later that afternoon, I was stung by a jellyfish as I was making my way out of the ocean and back onto the beach.

Nature. It’s beautiful, until it isn’t.

And I think I feel the Benadryl kicking in.

Anyway, my family is sort of in a weird “in between time.” We just got back from vacation on Saturday and unpacked, only to have to repack for Gen Con Indy, which starts on Wednesday, August 3. My husband and I will be there on our own for the first few days, playing games, attending panels and workshops, and celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary. Our boys will be joining us on Sunday. At ten and five years old, we’ll see how they handle being surrounded by approximately 61,000 people trying to live and play in the same one to two mile radius.

If you happen to be one of my readers and will be attending Gen Con as well, feel free to say hi if you see me. From Thursday to Saturday, I’ll look like one of these people:

After Gen Con, school starts up again for my sons. They’ll both be in school all day this year, so my plan is to get right back into revising When We Were Forgotten. I had hoped to have the novel published by now, but such is life. The upcoming days of silence in the house will be a big motivation for me to just get the thing done already.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a poem I wrote in my new birthday journal while on the beach watching the tide roll in. And then, I will shut my eyes and take a little nap, I think, because Benadryl.

Chalcedony Secrets

Where polished chalcedony meets milky quartz, the clouds whisper without words to the roaring, gray-green waves. They’re angry, those waves tinged with cloud-jealous foam. Eventually, their raging subsides to soft shushing against the flour beneath my curling toes.

A bold breeze brings salty caresses, children’s laughter, the cries of calling gulls overhead. It blesses my eyes, my cheeks, my nose, my tongue, each new gust beating at my ears. The thrumming of incessant drums. The rhythm of my heart. Eventually, the wind subsides, leaving me to contemplate the sea’s secrets.

That’s all for now. Have a great end to your summer break (if you get one), and I hope to see you at Gen Con Indy 2016!

Thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a writer and stay at home mom who lives in a southern Indiana woods with her spouse, kids, and one clingy dog. In the Before Times (and sometimes even now), she could/can be found helping out with her kids' school, catching up on her toppling TBR pile, playing games with her friends, hanging out at virtual conventions, crying over period dramas, or sewing yet another cosplay. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," was the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards. She writes short speculative fiction and poetry that can be found at various markets and here on her blog.

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