Friday, April 30, 2010

April 2010 Book Review

Hush, Hush- Becca Fitzpatrick- Urban fantasy about a high school girl with an absentee mother. She (the girl, not the mother) meets her supernatural lover (this time a fallen angel who must kill her in order to become human) in biology class. What is it about high school biology? This wasn’t a fantastic book but a pretty good read. There’s a sequel coming out at some point and I look forward to reading it when it does.

Gorgeous As Sin- Susan Johnson- The frivolous bodice ripping trashy romance novel that takes place before the one I read last month. I didn’t like it as much as its follow up, but it was still a fun frivolous read.

The Burning Land- Bernard Cornwell- The latest installment of the Saxon Chronicles. The only thing about these books is that they never end well because it’s not the end of the series. I like them though, I like them a lot, as evidenced by my willingness to read each and every one of them. I think no one writes battle scenes like Bernard Cornwell.

Plain Truth- Jodi Picoult- I haven’t read one of her book for a while but I really enjoyed this one. Often times, I find her novels to have a lot that rings untrue, that just feels like too easy too slick or something and I didn’t get that feeling much with this story. I had it some of the time, especially when the lawyer discovered she was pregnant. I also had no idea about the big mystery until the very last page.

Fallen- Lauren Kate- Another young adult urban fantasy novel about a high school girl who falls in love with an angel. I was a little worried she was going to meet him in biology class but this book veered away from that. They met in a past life. So it had a good premise but I was still left disappointed by it. I thought Hush, Hush was better executed. Maybe it’s because the main setting of this novel was a so called reform school with an alarmingly minimal amount of adult supervision. I don’t know. That said, I’ll still read the next book.

Hot Property- Susan Johnson- Should I be at all embarrassed by the number of frivolous romance novels I've read of late? So yeah. Another trashy romance novel. The first novel by this author that I’ve read that wasn’t a historical romance. I vastly prefer her historical romances. They seem less frivolous than this one did.

Split Image- Robert B. Parker- A Jesse Stone novel. Perhaps the last Jesse Stone novel. I’ve really come to love Jesse Stone. He took a couple of books for me to decide on love and not indifference but he made it. Unfortunately, both Sunny Randall and Susan Silverman were in this novel, Sunny in it a rather lot, so I enjoyed those parts less. So, see you later, Jesse. It’s been nice.

Animal Farm- George Orwell- I don't know what made me pick up this book to read but I did. What happens to Boxer always makes me sad.

The Quickie- James Patterson- Wow. What a crappy book.

So that makes....9 books for the month for a grand total of 38 books for the year. Which means I still have 62 books left to read by year's end if I'm going to make my goal. Go me.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


I just read that Legend of the Seeker, one of my favorite television shows, has been...CANCELED.

You can't cancel this show; I LOVE this show.

Please, please, please, someone (SyFy, I'm talking to you!) pick up this show and save it from cancellation. It's been such a good freaking show this season; you can't cancel it now!

SAVE MY SHOW, SyFy! You saved Merlin (thank you, by the way, for doing that) and now I need you to save Legend of the Seeker. I shall be ever so grateful.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pout and maybe even cry a little.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Little Of This, A Little Of That...

It's a lovely Monday afternoon in the Mount Washington Valley and I am surrounded by peaceful, sleeping puppies who have, thankfully, gotten their gastronomical issues straightened out. The girls were gearing up to play a little while ago so I built a preemptive barricade around and on the couch to protect it (singing certain selections from Les Miserables while doing so) which apparently made the girls lose interest in playing. Nothing fun about playing if you can't destroy the furniture in the process, I guess.

Oh well.

So yeah, they're all sleeping. I'm looking down at Bru right now and thinking about how badly she could use a bath. When she arrived, she was a reddish brown and white dog. Now she's just kind of a brown dog. All that romping through the woods. Makes 'em dirty. Also makes 'em tired.

I am taking advantage of the sleeping to work. A little housework (man, did we need laundry. We also need clean dishes. I had some but then I was stupid enough to try and empty the dishwasher while Bru was drinking water. She ended up dumping a good amount of water and saliva on my nice clean dishes. The bright side? Didn't take me very long to empty the dishwasher.) and a little actual work. I had been hoping to hit the 100,000 word mark in my WIP by the end of this week but that's just not going to happen. It's not all the dogs' fault either, although they are a rather convenient scapegoat, aren't they? It's much more my fault. I'm just not feeling the story right now. Not like how I was before. My Incredible Shrinking Word Count is dwindling even further now. I'm still ahead but the margin is very, very small now. It's good that there's an another dog in the household because otherwise I'd have more time to sit around, looking at my dwindling word count and feeling frustrated I haven't figured out how to reverse this alarming trend.

I'll figure it out.

In other news, after a discussion about smart phones, I made a comment about getting an iPhone to which Joe responded, "If you had an iPhone, I'd have to divorce you." Joe is not an Apple fan. His response made me laugh and say in return, "You'd have to marry me first and good luck with that."

Joe's hemming and hawing on the smart phone decision. He really, really wants a smart phone. He just doesn't want to have to pay for the data plan. I could go either way. I can get through a day without a smart phone so I don't need it but it could be kind of cool.

What is not cool is something I've been meaning to mention for a while now. My friend, Heather, has been working toward her accounting degree. This semester, she has a corporate tax class that's been giving her a hard time so, at one point, she emailed her professor to ask for help. His response? Google it. Yep, that's right. Thousands and thousands of dollars and that's what she gets for help. Google it.

Great teaching, dude. Really.

So, now it's Monday night and Bru and I have just returned from our nightly jaunt to the river. Bru didn't do any cliff diving or swimming. She ran off the trail and back on the trail, always coming when I called her. Except for once. This is always a sign that a dog has found something they're not supposed to have. When I broke out my super stern You'd Better Get Your Ass Over Here Now voice, she came, bringing her contraband with her.

It was a pair of men's underwear. Soiled men's underwear.

I then had to wrestle the untidy whities out of Bru's mouth.

Remember yesterday when I said at the end of my blog that nobody owed me any baked goods? That I was just trying to be to be funny? Well, I take it back. I want giant cake like brownies and I want them now.

But first, if you'll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands. For about the twentieth time.

There is not enough soap in the world.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Adventures In Brewster Sitting

What a wild and crazy weekend it's been here at the ranch. Wild and crazy in a mostly good way, I mean. Here's a little teaser for you: the couch broke. Again. But Bru wasn't the sole culprit. See what I mean? Crazy.

It started Friday with the trio of barking, puking and farting dogs. Bru was the only one doing all three but both Big and the Gator Girl were doing more than their fair share of barking and farting. Thank goodness the weather's been nice so I've been able to open the windows and air out the house a little. But if you're coming over, just be forewarned. I took Bru with me on my errand run because I told the girls at work that if Bru was still with us at the end of the week, I'd bring her by. This is when I discovered that Bru is in the midst of a fear period.

I'd noticed earlier in the week when Heather and her boyfriend came over that Bru was a little more timid about meeting new people than I remembered her being but I wasn't really prepared for Bru's aggressive (as in strong...not like viciousness or anything) flight reflex that kicked in as soon as she was approached by anyone. And there were a lot of people at the outlet mall that day because we're nearing the end of April vacation around here which generally brings a lot of people to the Mount Washington Valley.

So yeah, Bru tried to run away. A lot. And I spent a lot of time on my heels, trying not to get dragged through the mall's courtyard on my face. I was a little embarrassed. I was a real live Marmaduke or Beethoven movie trailer. I was like this:

Okay, so I wasn't quite that bad. Still, it's a funny video.

Saturday, I brought the girls down to obedience class. My original plan (you know, the one I had before Max had a blockage in his stomach) for Saturday involved going to Boston and, more importantly, Mike's Pastry where I would buy and eat giant cake like brownies and an assortment of cookies (sugar, M&M and chocolate chip, oh my!) larger than my head. But I didn't think Joe would want to be left home alone all day long with the three dogs, so I canceled the Boston trip. Then, Saturday morning, Joe said something along the lines of "Oh...I thought you were just going to leave them with me."

Someone owes me giant cake like brownies and an assortment of cookies larger than my head.

So instead of gorging myself on delicious baked goods, I brought the girls down to obedience class. Which is just as good. I think. Maybe. Whatever.

The fun started when I tried to put Bru in the car. The Gator Girl was already in the car, strapped down in the front seat to prevent her from doing anything other than turning around in a circle. Bru stood at the opened backseat door and wouldn't move. I tried every trick of which I could think to get her to get in the car but she wasn't having any of it so finally I was forced to pick up her front end and put it on the backseat and then go ahead and pick up her back end and try to cram her in the car. It worked. Eventually.

The fun continued when Bru decided to shake her head. This always sets the Gator Girl off when Big does it and, apparently, when any dog in the backseat does it. This would be one of the reasons why the Gator Girl gets strapped to the front seat. So yeah, Bru shook her head and the Gator Girl tried to go after her, but didn't get anywhere because of her seat belt. Still, I was irritated so I grabbed the Gator Girl with one hand and said, very lovingly, of course, "You don't have to worry about her. You don't have to worry about anything except maybe my foot up your ass. Knock it off and lay down. Now."

So much more fun than giant cake like brownies and cookies larger than my head.

When we finally made it down to class, we went to the local high school to work on one of the athletic fields (right next to the big signs that say "no dogs allowed on athletic fields", naturally.). I was the only attendee with two dogs. Usually, there's more than one of us. I got Brewster out first and tied her to the back of my car before getting the Gator Girl out of the car. The Gator Girl is always a little excited to be at class and is generally very mouthy and anxious. You know, more so than she is the rest of the time. She tagged Bru once, not very aggressively or anything, so I had to give her a little correction.

Then we went up to the field. I had Bru on my left side and the Gator Girl on my right. (Yes, I am insane. Joe will testify to this.) We were standing along the fence while I tried to decide which dog to tie off first and which dog to work in class first. While I contemplated my options, Bru discovered a pair of wood chips in the grass and decided to snack on them as though they were really potato chips.

This required me to reach into her mouth and pull them out. The first one came out easily. The second one, not so much. Bru decided she didn't like me reaching down her throat to remove the wood chip (not that I was really enjoying myself either, but whatever) and made the decision to protect my actions. This set the Gator Girl off and before I knew it, I was in the midst of a Gator Girl/Saint Bernard battle royale. Fortunately, I do not hold with such things and have had much experience breaking up battles between the Gator Girl and an even bigger than the Saint Bernard (who is only ten months old so she still has some growing to do) German Shepherd, so this, I could handle. The others in the class all went "OOOOH!" oh so helpfully while I made a Herculean effort to separate the two dogs. When I managed it, I held the Gator Girl by the collar and said, "I will kill you. Don't you think I won't because I'll do it. I will."

Carl, the class instructor, had made it over to me by this time and said, "Good correction. The threat might have been a tad exorbitant but the correction itself was good."

All things considered, class went smoothly. The Gator Girl was tied off first and spent an hour pacing back and forth, all the while never taking her eyes off me. When it was time to switch pups, I had to pick a spot along the fence that was free of wood chips so that Bru wouldn't eat anything she shouldn't. She didn't like being left by the fence. For a while, she just stood and looked at me like "What the hell is this?" Then she got tangled in her leash which required me to go over and untangle her from the leash. Once it happened a couple of times, I think Bru figured out that if she got tangled, I'd come to her rescue. Then she just stood there and barked at me. Finally, I put her in the car. She stopped barking then.

After class, we went over to visit my parents which was a fairly uneventful visit. All right, so the Gator Girl did manage to pop the screen door off its tracks but at least the screen itself was left in tact which is more than we can say for the last time the Gator Girl encountered the screen. By the time we left, Bru passed out in the backseat almost immediately because she was so tired. She slept all the way home (which took almost an hour and a half because there was so much traffic). The Gator Girl, however, did not.

That evening, I took Bru for our now nightly stroll down to the river. You remember before how I said it took Bru a little while to realize that the river was a big water dish? Well, Saturday night, she decided to go for a little swim.

The way the trail runs, it heads right to the river, where there's a bit of a drop off, like a fifteen foot drop or so, and then you turn left and walk alongside the river until the trail slopes down a bit and leads to the beach. Well, Bru ran right over the edge of the drop off and disappeared out of sight. Once I was able to breathe again, I went after her. She'd run right down the slope and into the water. I went down the slope after her, thinking how I was going to have to get in water too and how unhappy that idea made me because the water was so freaking cold and then I'd have to walk back to the house in soaking wet ice cold jeans and socks and shoes. But Bru surprised me and fought her way against the current to get back on land. We scaled the slope once more and all was well in the world.

Can I just tell you how much skinner Bru looks when wet? It's kind of funny.

So this brings us to Sunday. Everyone slept late. In fact, I was the first one up and only because my bladder wouldn't allow me to sleep any later. But when mom gets up, the kids get up too. I took Bru on a walk to the river because this seems to be the best (and sometimes only) way to get the dog to have a bowel movement. When we got to the end of the trail (right before you have to turn left), we came upon a couple of my neighbors and their yellow lab, Kindle or Kendall or whatever. I'm just going to call her Annoying because that's what she was.

Annoying saw us coming and ran right at us. She didn't come to be aggressive or anything; she just wanted to play. But that doesn't really matter. If I had been walking Big instead of Bru, the neighborhood would be short one yellow lab right now. Bru, as it was, just wanted to get away. And she couldn't get away because Annoying wouldn't back the hell off.

So I stood there, trying to get some traction on a ground covered with pine needles and tried to keep Bru from bolting because bolting would not only nicely dislocate my shoulders but also wouldn't solve our problem because Annoying would just keep on following us.

Meanwhile, Annoying's people were laughing, yes laughing (stupid frakking bitches), at the scene in front of them. At least they were until I looked at them, gave them the look of death and said, "It's not funny."

"Oh sorry," one of the women said. "But Annoying just loves other dogs."

Okay. Here's the thing about that: I don't give a shit if your dog just loves other dogs. There's always a possibility you're going to meet a dog who doesn't love other dogs. Again, if I'd been walking Big, as I would have been well within my rights to do, Annoying would be short a face. But hey, if you like faceless yellow labs, bring her on by.

So I explained that Bru is in the midst of a fear period and her flight reflex is sensitive and not done any favors by dogs like Annoying. I tried to be nice because the women are my neighbors and it seemed like something I should do but I was so frakking irritated with them. The rest of the walk went without incident or impromptu cliff diving/swimming session (I told Bru I'd bring her swimming later in the week if she's still here.) and we went back to the house.

Then I took a shower. While I did, something happened. I know something happened because it sounded like the goddamn house was collapsing in on itself. I figured if Joe needed help, he'd come get me or start screaming or something. He didn't. So when I got out of the shower, I came back to the living room. Joe was standing in the dining room, reading a magazine. Bru was lying at his feet. The Gator Girl was standing at my side and Big was nowhere to be seen.

"Something happen while I was in the shower?" I asked.

"What makes you say that?" Joe asked.

"The house sounded like it was going to come down," I said.

"Did it?" Joe asked. "I didn't notice."

So I looked around. The couch was broken and about two feet further back than it had been when I had gotten into the shower. The coffee table and the Gator Girl's favorite chair had also been relocated.

"We have some face chewing going on?" I asked.

"Mutual face chewing," Joe said.

Here's what happened: the Gator Girl and Bru played. And played hard. They growled at each other, chewed on each other, chased each other and had a grand ole time. All consensual. All destructive. But they had had a blast doing it and were now lying down. Of their own accord. Big immediately went upstairs to escape the madness. He's a little sore today. Joe took him for a walk yesterday while the girls and I were at class. Joe said he was embarrassed by it because Big dragged behind him the entire walk, whining as if saying, "But drives me everywhere!"

He's still upstairs now, passed out in the bedroom. The girls have been pretty mellow today too although I think Bru is starting to mount an assault against the kitchen cupboards. I hear the Gator Girl milling around in there too. That can't be a good thing. I should probably go and investigate what mischief the dynamic duo are plotting.

Until next time...'s now 5:40pm and Joe and I just finished repairing the couch for the second time today as it did not survive the girls' second play date. The couch really is now on the critical list. We need a fenced in yard. Like now.

P.S.S...nobody, by the way, owes me any baked goods of any kind. I was just trying to be funny.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Schnauzer Saga

So Monday, I was all geared up to write about my latest writing goals (now shot to hell) or my day at the store (which, as it turns out, really wasn't all that interesting) but then I checked my voicemail and listened to a message from my sister-in-law.

She and my brother were supposed to be in Boston for the Red Sox's Patriots Day game. They were supposed to be taking pictures of Jacoby Ellsbury for me. Turns out they didn't make it.

Their weekend started to go wrong at midnight on Saturday night or Sunday morning, whichever you prefer. Max the Wonder Schnauzer had been feeling off and was unable to keep anything down. He wasn't himself so at midnight, they bundled him up and brought him to the emergency room vet who, after four hours, basically sent them home with "wait and see what happens" advice.

Well, what happened is that they had to bring poor Max back to the emergency room vet at 4am on Monday morning. From there, they were sent to Max's regular vet, now considered a transfer patient because he'd started out at the pet emergency room. They did x-rays and gave the dog barium and concluded that there was a blockage in the little guy's stomach and that surgery was the next step.

So, Alison called me to ask if Bru could come and stay with us while Max recuperated from his ordeal. Since I was at work, I texted back with an answer because, technically, at work, we are not allowed to have our cell phones even on, nevertheless, checking our voicemail and texting responses. But II make exceptions for dog emergencies and fortunately, so does Head Honcho Julie.

I know I bitch about the Store a lot and, with it, the managers, but they are really very good about dog emergencies. It makes it easier when you have to say something to them like, "I know this is my first shift in a month and a half but there's a chance I may not be able to work all four hours of it."

It turns out I was (unfortunately) able to work my entire shift and was even allowed one phone call where I was able to touch base with my brother and sister-in-law to get an update on the situation. At that time, Max was in surgery. They weren't sure what the blockage was but the thought was that it was perhaps a part of one of Bru's rawhide bones. I told them I'd drive up after work and pick up Bru so they didn't have to worry about getting her to me because they were going to have enough to worry about because after Max was through with surgery, he and his IV were going to have to be transported to the overnight care place.

I headed out at about quarter of four. At about five o'clock, as I was closing in on their house, I received a call from them. Bad just went to worse. After picking up Max, the poor little understandably grumpy boy, bit Alison badly enough to warrant a trip to the emergency room so the new plan was for me to meet them there.

"Sounds great," I said, "but I have no idea how to get there."

"Well, from our house," my brother started, "you just go to the bottom of the hill and turn-"

Other directions followed. However, I was lost after "bottom of the hill."

Just before they hung up, I heard Alison mention a parking garage at the hospital as the place where I should park. This required me to find an ATM as I didn't have any cash on me and parking garages, in my experience, require cash. This required me to call my sister, Wendy, to ask her where I would find an ATM. I knew there would be one somewhere. I just didn't know where.

But she didn't answer. She had left her phone in the car. So I drove further into the city, looking for a bank sign. I had a passing thought that if I had my smart phone (a Droid phone more specifically), I wouldn't have this problem because the damn phone could tell me where I needed to go. But I didn't have a phone, so I was stuck looking for an ATM the old fashioned way.

While I drove, I called Joe to give him the latest update.

"And now I'm driving around blinding looking for a bank," I finished. "After which, I have to try and find the emergency room because I was lost after Jacob said to go to the bottom of the hill."

"Hey," Joe said. "If you had a Droid phone, the phone could tell you where to go."

"Yeah. I had that thought," I said. "But I don't have a Droid phone, do I?"

"Do you want me to look it up online?" Joe asked.

"That would be useful," I said. "Yes."

So Joe booted up his computer and proceeded to do a search for banks in the area. While he was searching, I saw a little green bank sign. On the other side of the road. So I glanced in my rear view mirror and crossed three lanes of traffic and cut off a state trooper (who nicely did not pull me over. Guess my out of state plates bought me the benefit of the doubt. Not drunk...just lost, officer!) but I made it to the bank.

Joe then helped me get to the emergency room with the help of Google maps. Thanks, Google maps! I managed to drive by the big red "EMERGENCY ROOM" sign the first time and had to turn around in the parking lot of a 7-11 (which Joe could see on the map. This made him very gleeful). I found the parking garage (which turned out to be free for the patients and visitors to the hospital) and pulled into a space just before Jacob and Alison did the same.

That's when I got to see what exactly the vet pulled out of Max's stomach because the vet was thoughtful enough to send it home with Jake and Alison in a zip lock bag. You know, in case they wanted to have the blockage bronzed or something. In case you wanted a souvenir (apart from your sure to be fun bankruptcy from vet bills!) from your Schnauzer's first (and hopefully last) emergency exploratory stomach surgery experience.

But whatever it was (my personal thought is that it was several remnants of a frayed rope bone but who the hell knows), it was kind of gross. And by 'kind of' I mean spectacularly gross. I have no idea how the in world a blockage that size was in the stomach of a miniature Schnauzer. Seriously, I think it was the size of his head. Poor, poor baby boy.

And poor, poor Alison who was holding a bloody bit of gauze against her left hand. We went inside and Alison went to sign in and check in and all the other hoops she had to jump through in order to be seen. I sat in the waiting room and fielding a very nasty call from my local library informing me that a book I had placed a hold on had come in and I had to pick it up right away because it was a new book and people, other than myself, were waiting for read it. I was curious what sort of lecture the person who had checked out the book before me and had returned it three days late had received if I was receiving a lecture for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

Anyway, I digress.

So, while I was waiting, I was imagining Alison explaining that she had been bitten by her dog, a miniature Schnauzer and then imagining the conversation becoming a Monty Python routine. This one, as a matter of fact:

The emergency room sent Alison to the First Care Clinic where she disappeared into an exam room and Jacob and I sat out in the waiting room and talked about the dark cloud of gloom and doom that had been following the pair of them around. If bad things come in threes, they should be covered for a while.

Anyway, I think Jake and I were getting a little silly by the time Alison came out of the exam room. Alison was not in a silly mood. She was irritated by the entire health care community and their antiseptic solution and their band aid stinginess. She had quite a rant going about the torturous nature of the antiseptic solution which spurred Jacob and I to pull out our very best torture humor (our stage show will soon be coming to a theatre near you!). We received a faceful of dirt when the med-evac helicopter arrived on the helicopter pad near the parking garage and then went to the grocery store to fill Alison's antibiotic prescription. We also had to stock up on first aid supplies. The pharmacy clerk ringing up Alison's sale managed to join her shit list when she asked Alison if she was planning an accident. Or did she say boo-boo? Or owie? I don't remember exactly what she said. Whatever it was, it annoyed Alison.

"I already had the accident," Alison said with the smallest hint of annoyance in her tone. Really, it was so minuscule you would've have noticed it...if you were, you know, dead or sleeping or something. Barely noticeable.

After the grocery store, we went to eat at Denny's. They must have seen us coming and had our picture up somewhere because we were seated at a corner table in an empty dining area. I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to our waiter as while we are sometimes bratty and trying, thinking we're funnier than we really are, we're usually not that bad.

It took us a while to order. And by us, I mean Alison. She couldn't decide what to get and couldn't focus long enough to make a decision. She'd had a very long and trying day so it was understandable (and highly amusing if you weren't our waiter).

"Why don't you call Joe and ask him what he's having?" Jacob said as Joe and Alison usually end up ordering the same thing and can sometimes help each other expedite the ordering process. Jacob and I never take very long to decide what we want. The bonus of being an exceptionally picky eater.

Jacob made the suggestion as a joke but, before you knew it, Alison had her phone out and was calling Joe. Joe was having tomato soup and saltines because it was the only thing we had in our house so Alison asked him what he would order if he was at Denny's.

The waiter came by during the call. I think it was his third stop to see if we were ready to order. We weren't. Jacob explained how Alison couldn't poll the audience (as we were the only people in the entire section) so she'd been forced to phone a friend to help her decide. The waiter left. Joe and Alison discussed the menu and settled on a burger.

The waiter came back and took our order. He noticed Alison's hand and asked what happened so she told him (The Cliff Notes version). He followed up with a story about how he dislocated his shoulder and had to have a friend help him put on his pants. I was mostly left confused by what had happened and how it happened. I think he was holding on to a car door that went from zero to whatever in thirty seconds and he wasn't able to keep up? Or maybe it was a dog that took off on him? I'm not sure. Somehow he dislocated his shoulder and was at least half naked at the time. Great story. Thanks for sharing.

When the food arrived, Alison really started to get punchy (you know, more so than before) and I mean that literally. She punched Jacob in the arm. She also threw a french fry at him. Jacob and I were laughing so hard, we could have used some oxygen. Our waiter didn't come around again until it was time for the check. Wonder why. I paid and gave the man a very generous tip.

We went to Jacob and Alison's house next so I could get Bru and her belongings and head for home. Waiting for me on the table in the foyer was a pretty bunch of flowers (they're yellow...apart from that, I'm not sure what kind they are) and a note sticking out of them that had originally been for my sister, Wendy.

I knew it had originally been for Wendy because her name was on the card. It was crossed out and my name had been written above it. Wendy works near their house and she was going to stop in on her way home from work to let the dogs out while Jake and Alison were in Boston for the Red Sox game but since they never actually made it to Boston (good thing too...Boston lost. Again. Do NOT get me started on that.), they were regifting their thank you gift to Wendy. Here's what the note said inside:

Hi Wendy (Crossed out) Melissa,

Thank you for taking care of the pups (crossed out) Brewster while we're in Boston (crossed out) Hell. It's much appreciated!

Well, kids, you're welcome.

Anyway, so that was Monday. Bru and I made it home around 10:30 that night. My dogs were already in their crates but the cats were out and BOY, you should have seen the looks of death both Bru and I received from them. I imagine they'll be pissing on something I don't want them to piss on at some point. That'll be fun too.

And, in case you were wondering, the Schnauzer is still with us. He went from surgery to the overnight care facility and spent the following day at his regular vet. He went home Tuesday evening where he continues his recovery. Alison reports that he is quickly getting back to his old self.

Bru's doing well too. She's only been tagged by the Gator Girl once (for trying to climb over the back of the couch to get to me. Sorry, Bru, but that is NOT allowed.) and has steered clear of both her cousins ever since. I've taken her for a couple of walks down to the river (It took her a while to realize that the river was a really big water dish) and came back without having been dragged on my face. I do have to report that Bru has some fear of my neighbor's mailbox. She's run away from it twice now. But, you know, bravely so. She and Big are having a "let's see who can shed the most" contest. Big is, surprisingly enough, most definitely winning. There have been no accidents involving bodily functions better tended to outdoors and my couch is still in the same number of pieces it was in the last time Hurricane Bru blew through.

But now it's time for another walk. Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Not So Fast...

So, some of you might be tuning in this morning to read about the most woeful tale of Max the Most Unluckiest Schnauzer On The Planet (and his parents) and you will read that saga. Just not right now. It's 5am and I am working off of an approximate two hours worth of sleep. Here's how the night went:

11pm: I went to bed. I was tired.

1am: I'm still lying in bed, wide awake, staring at the ceiling. I was tired, but wired. When you read about yesterday, you'll understand.

2am: I think I fell asleep because I wake up when Bru the Bruiser (Oh yeah...for those of you not aware of yesterday's super fun detour, Bru the Saint Bernard is back with us) starts crying in her crate.

2:30am: I think I feel asleep again because I wake up with Big The Grumpy German Shepherd howls in his crate. It is not unlike an air siren.

3:00am: Bru again.

4:00am: Bru again. This time, I am in the middle of a particularly hysterical dream involving smurfs (of which I was, huh?) and a knife fight (yes, a knife fight) concerning an unknown enemy, also throwing knives. Let's call him Ninja Gargamel because it's funny. I have to bury my face in my pillow to keep from bursting out into hysterical peals of laughter.

5:00am: Bru again. I'd really like her to wait until 6am.

5:30am: What the hell. It's past 6am somewhere, right? Besides, it's not like I'm doing any actual sleeping.

So yeah, that's what's happened since Bru and I arrived home last night. Later on today, I'll be posting the Schnauzer Saga. Be sure to check back.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 4/17/10)


The Amazing Race: Love, love, love the cowboys. If they get booted, my desire to watch this show will disappear almost entirely. That said, that was quite a feud between Brent and Caite and Carol and Brandy (don't know which is which, sadly, but Joe thinks one of them looks like Gollum so he calls her that). The ugly American lesbians are angry. Joe and Heidi were much more zen about being u-turned. Yikes. And the undercover cops were behind it all. Speaking of the undercover cops, it annoys me to no end how they're forever calling each other 'baby'. But at least they're polite to the locals. Oh, and who knew there was such a thing as the Asian Amazing Race. Do they get to go to America all the time? Do they wander around saying things like "Why doesn't anyone here speak Mandarin?" Now I really want to see that show.

Legend of the Seeker: When will the characters on these shows learn not to celebrate anyone's birthday? It never goes well. Tonight's episode featured a birthday party thrown in Richard's honor which turns into a life threatening affair, of course. The creature of the week was a magical mummy and Kahlan and Cara had a chick fight while trapped in a tomb. A high school pal of mine is irritated with this show for changing so many facts (facts in a series of fantasy genre books, mind you). I don't mind it so much. I just want to be entertained. And this show never disappoints. It's always as bad as you think it's gonna be.


How I Met Your Mother: I forget how much I love this show and then they do something like tonight's episode where Marshall claims to have been mugged by a monkey in the central park zoo in order to keep Lily from buying a gun. Too freaking funny, really. And of course Barney was hysterical as well.

Dancing With The Stars: The judges were cranky and gave away two sets of crappy scores (one for technique and one for performance) to each couple. I missed the first half hour of the show as I was watching How I Met Your Mother but I did tune in in time to see Kate Gosselin's so called performance. I agree with the judges that it was her best yet but it still...sucked. As in big time. Did anyone see Jimmy Fallon's spoof of Kate's last dance? So. Damn. Funny. In fact, here it is (if you can't see it because you're at work, go to and search for it there):

House: Cameron's back! I've seriously been bothered for weeks about Jennifer Morrison's name remaining in the opening credits of the show because I had been under the impression that she was gone for good. After tonight's episode, it certainly feels like she's gone for good but I guess we'll wait and see. Anyway, it was an interesting episode. There was no patient of the week, which was a nice change of pace, and was packed full of a lot of funny moments. I think Taub and Foreman in the records room stoned on vicadin was probably my favorite, although Thirteen daring Wilson to steal a dollar from the cafeteria cashier was pretty funny too. Of course, Thirteen flashing Taub at the very end of the episode was classic. There was some serious stuff too, what with House being trapped with the introspective dying man and Cuddy searching high and low for the missing baby (totally thought the older brother had done it). Hugh Laurie directed this episode. Job well done, Hugh.

The Big Bang Theory: Wil Wheaton's back! And unfortunately, he used his evil genius to break up Leonard and Penny. Of course, I think Leonard and Penny might have already been on their way to that same place but still, Wil gave them the shove into it and all just so he could win a bowling bet. As always, Sheldon is my favorite.

Castle: Tom Bergeron guest starred as a murdered late night talk show host. I wish he had been given more to do because I love Tom Bergeron. I also think Fred Willard was wasted. Still, the episode was pretty good.


American Idol: Oh goody. It's Elvis night. Adam Lambert is tonight's mentor which is kind of cool. I also did like Adam Lambert. I was a little sad that Crystal Bowersox had to go first tonight because she's really the only contestant I'm excited to see every week. I can never remember Casey James's name at all. Sorry, Casey. Tim Urban (Joe calls him Zac Efron) didn't suck tonight. I groaned when I heard what song he was going to perform. I thought it would be an absolute train wreck but he really did sing it well. Aaron Kelly should go home. Ryan (who I think had a Red Bull too many tonight) made an uncharitable joke about Brian Dunkleman during a plug for the Idol episode which is all about giving to charity. Here's my rankings for the remaining contestants from worst to best: Aaron Kelly, Katie Stevens, Tim Urban (just barely squeaking ahead of Katie), Andrew Garcia, Michael Lynch, Casey James, Siobhan Magnus, Lee DeWyze and Crystal Bowersox.

Glee: Yea!!! Glee is back!!! Sue Sylvester was snarky and the cheerleaders were both stupid and slutty and all is right in the world...except Teri Shuester is still on the show. I'm hoping Idina Menzel gets to sing in a future episode because I was disappointed that she didn't get to do any singing tonight. My favorite number of the night was the "Hello Goodbye" song at the end and the Sue Sylvester "Vogue" video. My favorite line of the night not coming from Sue Sylvester's mouth was courtesy of Brittany the Blond Cheerleader when she said, "Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?" Oh god, I love this show.


The Middle: I don't know if you're watching this show but I really think you should. It's really quite funny. The kid who plays the eldest son, Axl, is beyond hysterical and I think his character is probably what Joe was like as a teenager.

Modern Family: Another very funny episode. If you're not watching this show, you have no idea what you're missing. I think my favorite part was when Mitchell confessed his secret desire to kill Dora the Explorer (put bricks in her backpack and throw her in the river). That or when the blond mom (I can never remember her character's name in this show. I always think of her as Carol Vessy from that show Ed a while back...the one with the lawyer who owned a bowling alley?) yelled out the mini van window to his middle daughter, Alex (in front of her friends), to remember to get her training bra while she was out shopping.

American Idol Results: I heart Adam Lambert. He's never dull. And boy, can he sing. Also of note (and possible concern): I don't know what's going on with Ryan Seacrest lately but he's either off his meds or over self medicating with something he shouldn't because he's been weird. I mean, really, really weird this entire season. Andrew Garcia and Katie Stevens are out. I was a little sad that it wasn't Katie and Aaron. Maybe Aaron will be gone next week but I doubt it because it's Idol Gives Back or whatever and I think everyone has to sing inspirational power ballads or whatever and Aaron could easily sing an inspirational power ballad.

In Plain Sight: I recorded it but I haven't watched it yet. I really enjoyed last week's episode. I think it might be my favorite episode yet. I run hot and cold on this show. I like Mary's character and I like Marshall but I don't much care for the rest of the cast. Anyway, I'll probably watch this one eventually, especially since Allison Janney is a guest star again and I've loved Allison Janney since The West Wing.


Bones: Bones and Booth attend her high school reunion. Talk about the creepiest thing ever. See, this is why I didn't bother going to any of mine.

Supernatural: So, the 100th episode. Gotta say, I was slightly disappointed. I thought the build up was great and then it just kind of...ended. The pay off wasn't what I thought it would be and I am left underwhelmed. Apart from the scene where Dean tells Sam that he thinks Lucifer will end up wearing Sam to the prom, I thought it was lackluster. This is a series that has done some exceptional heavy, deep serious episodes and this should have been one of them but it just wasn't. I'll probably irritate some people by saying this (well, if any of those people happen to stumble across this blog) but it's the way I feel. And I do not think I like the preview for next week's episode at all. Motel Hell? Really? Whatever. Let me know when Sam becomes Lucifer's prom dress.

Project Runway: I can't believe the judges picked Milla over Jay. That decision totally sucked. Maybe they figured it wouldn't matter because neither of them stand a chance against Seth Aaron or Emilio and so it would maybe be better to have a woman amongst the final three, but I thought Jay's mini collection was vastly superior and waaaaaaaaay more interesting than Milla's. This coming from a girl whose closet is full of jeans and sweatshirts, sure, but I would have been much happier being able to see Jay's entire collection rather than the 60's retro black and white stylings of Milla Hermanovski. But that's just my opinion.


Merlin: The show's second season. The first season showed last summer on NBC and now is on the SyFy channel. They changed a lot of things from the King Arthur legend. Notable changed include Arthur and Morgana no longer being siblings and Mordred no longer being their child. Guinevere is Morgana's servant and magic is forbidden in the kingdom of Camelot because it's feared and misunderstood by King Uther (played by BtVS's Anthony Stewart Head). Last week, Guinevere and Arthur kissed and this week, Morgana started to come into her powers. It involved another appearance by the uber creepy Mordred and some even creepier giant scorpions. Next week, Guinevere has another run-in with Lancelot. Woo Hoo!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Buy Or Not To Buy

I usually work on my WIP from three to five in the afternoon but today I am not making much progress because instead I am shopping for a new digital camera.

There's nothing wrong with my current digital camera except that it's a little older and slower than the newer ones. The zoom isn't very good and as I've said before in this blog, I'd really like to have a camera that has more zoom to it. I'd also like a camera that's speedy enough to allow me to take a picture of the Gator Girl (currently passed out on the office rug...I really do think she might have some sort of doggy flu because this is just so weird) that isn't just a tan blur. Plus, there are cell phones whose cameras have more mega pixels than my camera.

So you put all these facts together and what do you get? A pretty good reason, I think, to upgrade my camera.

I found a model I like. It looks like a point and shoot camera so it'll be easily transported. It has twelve mega pixels (my current set up has five) and 10x optical zoom (versus the 3x I have now) and has the ability to take challenging action shots without delay with fast click-to-capture speed. My current camera really doesn't have anything like that. In order to take an action shot now, I have to be in position with my finger holding the capture button down half way and still, half the time I miss the shot.

I first saw the camera in the Staples flyer. They didn't have it in the store but I found the same model at Wal Mart. Then, one day, it went missing from Wal Mart. So I looked online for it and found it at Amazon (where it received excellent customer reviews). It's listed at about twenty dollars less than at either Wal Mart or Staples. Now it's currently sitting in my shopping cart waiting for me to decide how badly I want to order it.

Because I want to order it really, really badly.

Joe is less enthusiastic about it though. He doesn't seem to think there's a problem with the camera we have now. And, as I have already said, there isn't anything wrong with it. Maybe I could arrange for the Gator Girl (once she wakes the hell up) to eighty six the old camera.

--->This entry is being interrupted by a desperate cry for help on my end. You see, there was this spider crawling up the wall in my office, right in front of me, and when I went to screw my courage to the sticking place (anyone know what movie that's from? Hint: it's a Disney animated classic!) and squash the little frakker with a pad of post-it notes (easily replaceable), the little frakker vanished and where he has gone now, I cannot say. I suspect he fell off the wall and is now crawling somewhere undetected underneath my desk. Needless to say, I am currently unable to leave the desk chair in which I am currently curled so if somebody could maybe stop by and at least bring me my slippers (the Gator Girl has never managed to learn to fetch my slippers. Only play with them.) so I wouldn't have to worry about stepping on a spider in my bare feet, I would greatly appreciate it. Here ends the big girly screaming fit. <---

Anyway, where was I? Oh right. I want to buy a camera and Joe doesn't seem to think it's necessary. If only I was working more hours at the Store (wait...did I really just say that?). Then I wouldn't worry about it. Right now, my current plan is to order the camera and just deal with it when Joe sees the credit card bill. Then I could tell him it was either a camera or a new puppy. He'll be totally thrilled with the camera then.

But I'd really like to get the camera soon. We're going out to Las Vegas in June and I'd like to have the camera then (and know how to use it) because we're planning to rent a car and drive out to the Grand Canyon. It's a five hour drive but still, Vegas is a hell of a lot closer to the Grand Canyon than I currently am. Besides, after driving from Ekaterinburg to Serov multiple times, I can handle a five hour drive. At least on the Grand Canyon drive, there'll be something more than birch trees (and the random cow or goats) to look at.

I think I'm going to do it. Well, maybe. I don't know. Right now I'm having a hard time focusing on anything that is not the whereabouts of that stupid frakking spider. I wonder if Amazon sells bubbles.

So, what do you think? Should I click the "buy" button or just lie down quietly until the urge dissipates?

Hope you're enjoying a quandary (and spider) free day...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

No News Is No News

As the above title suggests, there isn't a whole hell of a lot going on. But still, I'm going to blog about all the nothing. It'll make for riveting reading, I'm sure.

So I think something's off with the Gator Girl. I say this because the past couple of mornings, she's actually been tired. Yeah, I know. Anyone who has been in the same room with her will know how much that never happens. Usually, she's the first one up in the morning but not recently. Joe gets up and the Gator Girl does nothing. Sunday morning, Joe actually had to summon her out of bed. This is a switch from her usual jumping on our heads at the first sign of movement in the wee hours of the morning. This morning, she didn't budge when Joe got up and then later, when she decided to join me in bed, it took her two tries to get on the bed. That's right. Two tries. The first attempt resulted in her kind of running into the side of the bed and then falling on her face on the floor.

So yeah. I think the Gator Girl's a little off her game.

This means the baby cabinet locks I installed (well, 'installed' is an awfully generous term. There was really no installation required, which is why I selected that particular lock) on the oft robbed cookie cupboard will not be soon tested. Joe is convinced the Gator Girl will eventually work out how to defeat said cabinet lock and I'm sure she will. I told Joe I look forward to that event. Joe said it'll piss me off when it happens...which is also true, but at least I'll have something about which to blog.

The Gator Girl's sudden penchant for lying down has made working out easier. Unless you're lying on the floor doing jackknife exercises. Then she likes to cuddle up next to you and lay her head on your stomach. It's cute and adorable but somewhat hinders your movements. But at least I can do the rhythm boxing or whole running in place thing without having to worry about being tagged by an incensed Malinois.

It's the little things in life, you know?

My new website/blog should be up and running soon. I say 'should be' because every time I ask Joe when he'll make the site go live, he asks me if I'm ready for it to go live and I say "yes, that's what I meant when I said it was ready to go live" and then he's all "I'm the one whose been bugging you about it" to which I respond "What color is the sky in your world?" Joe's response to this is usually a confused look coupled with a "Huh?"

So yeah, it'll happen soon. Probably. I'm pretty happy with it. I'll warn you now that it looks slightly bizarre in certain web browsers. IE6 chief among them (that's Internet Explorer 6, in case you didn't know). If you're looking at it in Firefox, it looks great. So my recommendation is for everyone out there to download a free copy of Firefox and use it in place of IE6.

Tonight marks the return of new Glee episodes. I am very excited about this because I absolutely love this show. My favorite number thus far in the show is, I think, the Lea Michele/Kristen Chenowith version of "Maybe This Time". It's currently my favorite song to put on my iPod so I can sing it at the top of my lungs. The windows have been open a lot lately so I apologize to my neighbors if they're tired of listening to it. At least I sing it in key. Most of the time anyway. And I never even attempt Kristen Chenowith's last note. There's just no touching that one.

Joe's not so much of a fan of Glee but he's still polite enough to pretend that every time I tell him that this May there will be a Joss Whedon directed episode guest starring the beyond brilliant Neil Patrick Harris, it's the first time he's hearing about it.

There's currently a bunch of emergency vehicles racing down the street with their sirens blaring (The Gator Girl hasn't budged yet which is, yet, another sign that she's not quite herself). Is it wrong that every time I hear the sirens, I harbor a secret hope that the Store is burning down? I always imagine my co-workers and customers safely removed from the building at the time of said fire (well, most of them anyway) but yeah, I do have a lot of visions of the Store burning down.

It never seems to happen though.

Better luck next time.

Anyway, we're supposed to be getting a nice killing frost tonight so I need to go cover up my poor unsuspecting day lillies. Until next time, kids...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Dog Daze

It's been an interesting dog related week.

We did some broad jumping, finally. Our first workout of the year. The Gator Girl cleared the six foot practice jump just fine and then seemed to forget what the hell we were doing out there. The Gator Girl often times like to celebrate a jump with a victory lap around the yard. If we're ever in competition, this will be a problem. But until then, it's kind of cute. Even Big wanted to jump. I didn't let him do the broad jump but I let him go over the regular jump. Not too high, but high enough that he actually had to work. He loves agility. Somewhere I have a video of him working. If I can find it, I'll post it.

We also had some thunderstorms roll through. Our first thunderstorms of the season. They came through at about one in the morning. We were still downstairs as it is my habit to write until about two in the morning. The dogs snore while I do so. The thunder woke them up and they went running for the door, thinking someone or something was in the driveway. When they realized what was really happening, Big went back to sleep. The Gator Girl shook. A lot. She's not a big fan of the thunderstorm. But at least she's not destructive during them like a lot of dogs are.

Speaking of the Gator Girl, my criminally genius Malinois kicked off the week in fine style when she stole a can of cat food out of the cupboard when I was in the shower. This would be the cupboard, by the way, that is protected by a trap. The trap is a muffin tin, precariously resting against the door so that it comes tumbling out onto the kitchen floor, making a lot of noise, when one opens the door. It keeps catching me off guard so I had to write myself a note saying TRAP!! on a post it note and stick it to the door. Just so you know, I still keep springing the damn thing.

The Gator Girl, however, does not. Criminal genius, I tell you.

I don't really know how she gets past that one either. My best guess (formulated after an examination of the cookie cupboard after one of her more successful cookie raids) is that she opens the door just enough to get her nose or paw inside so she can nudge the muffin tin over far enough to have it rest against the cupboard's lip so that it doesn't fall when one opens the door.

I really need to set up a hidden camera in the kitchen.

Anyway, so yeah, I was in the shower, thinking deep thoughts and possibly singing some broadway tunes at the top of my lungs, when the Gator Girl made her latest foray into the cookie cupboard. Unfortunately for her, the cookies had been removed from the cupboard. Which is probably why she went for the cat food. She didn't touch the dry stuff. No, she went straight for the canned goodness. Salmon and trout flavor. Yum.

Again, I don't know how she managed to get the can open. I still haven't found the lid. What I did find was the can, licked clean, in the middle of the living room and the Big Brave German Shepherd sitting outside the bathroom door looking at me as if to say "Don't look at me. I didn't want her in the first place."

There is something seriously disturbing about that dog some times.

We (meaning me and the dogs) went down to visit my mother this week. It was the Big Brave German Shepherd's birthday this week (seven years baby boy is growing up) and, in addition to his birthday cheeseburger (an entire BK cheeseburger to himself...normally he has to share with his brat of a sister), he got a trip down to my mother's to visit his Mimi.

I've mentioned before how very much Big loves my mother. In general, he's a reserved German Shepherd. When people ask me if he's friendly, I usually say no, he isn't, but then add that while he's not friendly, he's not aggressive either (unless you're a dog's ass, anyway). Mostly, he doesn't care about people.

But he loves my mother.

When he arrives at the house, he bursts through the door and runs straight for the living room where he expects to find her sitting on the couch. If she is not there, he runs from room to room searching for her. On one occasion, she happened to be not home when we came calling. Big couldn't quite figure out why he couldn't find her. Another time, she left in the middle of our visit to pick up Jupiter from school. Big didn't see her leave (I think he was drinking an entire bowlful of water when she made her exit) and then, when he went back for more love, she was missing. He was confused.

My mother has made the joke that if she became lost and in need of a search and rescue dog to track her down, she didn't know if she would want either of my dogs looking for her. The Gator Girl would track her down, sure, but then give her a cursory glance before moving on to something else (Mrs. King, I believe, calls it 'shiny ball syndrome'). Big, she thought, would quit before reaching her. There is precedent as Big does not like to track in weather that is either too hot or too cold. Sometimes, in training, he quits half way through a track and just lays down in the middle of the field and whines and looks at me as though he expects me to run and get the car and drive it out to the field so he doesn't have to be bothered with walking all the way back to the parking lot.

I've assured my mother this isn't true. The part about Big anyway. The Gator Girl is a great tracker. She just doesn't care if she finds people at the end of her track. She's only interested in more tracking. Or tennis balls. But Big? I think if I put him on her track, he wouldn't stop until he found her.

This became very apparent on Tuesday when we arrived at the house. I was outside with Big and my niece, Jupiter, who was showing off her jump roping skills. Big was passing the time peeing on trees when he looked up and saw my mother standing in the living room window. All interest in peeing disappeared and he pulled me straight to the house.

This is a very Big Deal because Big loves to pee on trees.

But he loves my mother more.

Later, when it was time for us to go back home, he actually hid behind my mother because he didn't want to get into the car with the Gator Girl.

When I told this to Joe, he responded, "Can you blame him? Some days I don't want to get into the car with her."

This turned into a discussion about how I need to train my dog more. Yes, the Gator Girl is my dog. Particularly when she misbehaves. Which is often. Big, Joe claims, is his dog. At least when he's asleep. When he's trying to tear apart the couch cushions (yes, mom, he has tried that) or getting into the trash or pulling the tablecloth off the table, Big is miraculously my dog.

"Yeah. Train your dog," Joe said. "Are you familiar with that?"

As the person who has taken the Gator Girl to obedience, tracking, agility and ring sport classes nearly every Saturday (and Wednesday and Sunday and Fridays...whatever the schedule is) for the last four and a half years, I am familiar with that.

"Here's my foot up your ass," I nicely replied to the person who spends most of weekend days on the couch. "Get familiar with that."

I think it's important to note here that I do not begrudge him the weekend couch time. He works hard during the week and needs to decompress. But as someone who is not actively involved in the Gator Girl's training, he should probably back off. You know, for the sake of peace and harmony and not having to remove my foot from his ass. If you don't like what I'm doing, do it yourself. No one likes a backseat dog trainer.

Hmmm...this blog seems to have gone to a different place than from where it started. The dogs, I am pleased to report, are both snoring. So naturally, I am going to have to wake them up so we can all go upstairs to bed.

Enjoy your weekend.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Falling Short

Well, it's Monday and time has run out for me and my latest set of weekly goals. As you can probably guess from the title of this blog, I didn't quite experience the success of the week before. It happens. The important thing is that the Red Sox beat the Yankees last night.

Here is what I set out to accomplish last week:

1. Get the new look for my website and blog up and running. So don't panic if, one day, you show up here and everything's new. You're not in the wrong place. I just needed a change.

2. Cross the 80K word mark in Second Nature. I feel like this is the goal that's going to kill me this week. Especially because of that website goal. Oh well. Aim big or go home, right?

3. Work out on the Wii Fit at least three times this week. Attempt the possibly scary jackknife challenge.

4. Read a trashy bodice ripping romance novel.

5. Get the snow tires taken off my car and the regular season tires put back on. Have the oil changed at the same time.

Here's how I actually did:

I worked out on my Wii Fit three times. My workouts seems to be getting longer. I even did the Island Lap run which is a fifteen minute run around the lovely island paradise. I find it interesting that when I'm running in place in my living, yet my Mii is running up an incline, I somehow feel as though running is harder. I yelled at my Mii running guide a couple of times to avoid the stupid hill. He/She didn't. Stupid Mii. I also attempted the jackknife challenge. The challenge is to complete more jackknife reps than your Wii Fit trainer. I won but only because I think the program is designed to let you win. You know, build up your confidence that it works to tear down in other areas on the program. It also gypped me of two of my jackknife reps because I started a split second before I was supposed too. But whatever. I'm not totally keeping score or am totally bitter about that or anything.

I read a trashy, bodice ripping romance novel. If you read my March book report, you'll have seen it there at the end. Susan Johnson writes great bodice ripping romance novels. She's my favorite.

And I managed to get the snow tires taken off the car. I also managed to get the oil changed at the same time. And better yet, I got Joe to do it for me. The place where I usually have these things done apparently moved, far far away from me to some unknown location, so I asked Joe to bring it to the place where he brings his car. I asked him to do it because the people at his place know him and like him and are always weird when I go in. Like this one time, Joe had a nail in his tire and it went flat or was going flat or whatever and so the guys patched the tire for him. He paid with his debit card. Fast forward a week and I was the one with a flat tire. Joe dropped it off at the place to have it patched and I went to pick it up. I tried to pay with my debit card but the guys refused to take it, saying they don't accept debit cards for a job so small. I had to go to the ATM to get cash so I could get my tire back. I was not amused. So, I had Joe bring my car down to get this latest work done on it. Less hassle. Any time you can get by with less hassle, is a good time, right?

And that's it for the goals I accomplished. Here's what happened with the other two goals:

First of all, the new website is pretty much ready to go live. I have to create a few more pages but all the really vital pages are up and running. But, in order for it to actually go live, I need the help of Joe, my code monkey and tech guru. He's the one who actually needs to make it go live because I honestly have no idea what's even involved in such a thing. And when Joe asked me, "When do you want me to do this?" and I answered "Now would be great", he apparently didn't think I meant now now. He thought I meant later. But since he is a busy guy and he did nicely take my car to the car place, we'll give him a pass this time...

And then there's the writing goal. Reach the 80,000 word mark in Second Nature. I came close. I came really, really close. I ended up at 79,084 words. In my defense, I think if the Red Sox had not been playing the Yankees last night, I probably would have written the remaining 916 words. Had the Red Sox not managed to turn a loss into a very exciting win, I probably would have written the remaining 916 words. But at it was, the Red Sox did play the Yankees last night and while they were down 5-0 in the third freaking inning, they managed to turn it around in a very exciting fashion to come back and win it 9-7. And while my poor Jacoby Ellsbury didn't get a hit, he's still as adorable as ever. But still, hey, I've written 79,084 words. I'm still 17,000 words ahead of my monthly writing goals. That's a hell of a lot of fiction. Some of it might even be good! Might be.

So that's that. The goal recap. I am going to refrain from setting goals this particular week because there is some other stuff I need to do that gets overlooked when I'm on a goal quest (housework, for example...). And, as far as writing goes, I need to stop creating for a little while. I have a bunch of plot lines that are (just to warn you, I am going to attempt a traffic themed metaphor here. It may or may not work out, but I just wanted to let you know my intentions beforehand, just in case) running red lights and stop signs and careening into other plot lines. They're supposed to intersect, of course, but they were supposed to do so in a civilized, non California roll, obey the rules of polite traffic society kind of way. So now I need to go in there and start sifting through the wreckage and see if I can't get everybody safely back on the storyline road.

Anyway, that's all for now. I hope everyone out there had a lovely holiday weekend and didn't overindulge in their Easter candy. I did...I had a few too many peeps. They're so bad, they're good. And hey, I bet today they're on clearance...

Friday, April 2, 2010

Yes, They Can Be Taught!

I generally go out every day, or every other day, to do errands. The dogs generally join me on these trips and, every now and then, they seem to be the focus of attention. I don't know what it is. They must send out some sort of beacon or tractor beam that just draws people in.

Thursday was one of those days.

Thursday was also one of those less than stellar in the car days for the Gator Girl. You know, the days when her irrational fear of bridges, trees, street signs, pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, dogs, baby carriages, buses, semis and, you know, everything else on the face of the earth, translates into her losing her mind about every thirty seconds and then throwing herself down onto the front seat to look at me to ask if her behavior has warranted her a cookie.

It hasn't.

But, as soon as the car stops, she becomes the sweet, adorable Gator Girl over which people ooh and aww. They always think she's so irresistibly precious, sitting in the front seat madly mouthing her little stuffed animal (de-brained Thursday evening, by the way, by the Big Brave German Shepherd who's going to come to regret that decision the next time we all get in the car.). And she is.

Big attracts attention too but mostly because he's a gigantic German Shepherd. Most people just jump back and pull a Keanu Reeves (Whoa!) when they see him with his head hanging out the window. There's this one guy who works the drive thru at Burger King (Big's favorite place for cheeseburgers) who doesn't even like to open the little window to take my money when we come through. It's not like Big is doing anything during these times but panting and drooling on my window, but I guess it's the sight of the really big teeth that gives people pause.

Thursday, we met a woman who was surprised when she walked by the car when we were parked at Wal Mart. She was surprised because the Gator Girl was standing in the front seat (driver's side) and Big was sitting in the back seat and the driver's side door was wide open. It was wide open because I was stripping off my fleece as it was freaking warm out today and I wanted to store it in the back of the car.

The woman looked at the dogs, looked at the open car door and then looked at me.

"Your door's opened!" she said.

"Yes it is," I said.

"But your dogs-"

"Are not moving," I said.

"How do you get them to do that?" she asked.

"I, uh, trained them to do that," I said.

"You trained them to do that?"

"To not jump out of my car?" I asked. "Yes. I did. They know they're not allowed to go out the driver's side door, only the back seat doors and only then when they have permission to do so. It doesn't mean they aren't, from time to time, excited enough to try and get out whatever door happens to be opened (especially the one in the front seat), but they're dogs and they sometimes do that. "

"You can train a dog to do that?" she said in wonder.

"So it would appear."

"Wow," the woman said.

Yes, it is a thing of wonder. I didn't mention the food refusal training. Sometimes, that's just too much for people.

Later, we met a woman in another parking lot who was just drawn to the beauty of my dogs. I couldn't disagree with her on that one. She also commented on my need for a taller car.

From her lips to Joe's ears.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this one last thing with you. It doesn't involve the dogs but it cracked me up...the following is a conversation (or half of one anyway), the woman parked next to me at the post office was having on her cell phone. I don't know to whom she was talking but they seemed to be best buds.

Her: What the hell are you talking about? (pause) What do you mean they're not going to? Of course they're going to- (pause) It's fucking Easter, for crying out loud. What the hell are they thinking? (pause) Oh yeah? Well, fuck you!

Happy Easter everyone...may your holiday be better than that woman's.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March 2010 Book Report

Hide- Lisa Gardner- See, once something gets in my head, I just can’t get it out again. I liked Bobby enough to look for his next adventure and found it at my local library. Again, it’s a pretty good book. I feel like I spend a lot of time getting into the story but then, when the end comes around and the big reveal is here, I know the whos and whys and whatnots and then the whole thing plays out a little theatrically. Which may sound weird. It’s a suspense novel. The big dramatic conclusion is vital to the novel but, many times, the climaxes in Gardner’s novels are too…something. Too much monologuing by the bad guy that I had pegged in his very first appearance in the book. Still, I would read another Bobby Dodge novel. I just don’t think there is one. Yet.

Legacy- Cayla Kluver- This is a fantasy book written by a sixteen year old. In that aspect, it’s impressive because I’ve worked with a lot of sixteen year olds who couldn’t string together three cohesive paragraphs (or, in some cases, sentences) and she managed to put together an entire novel (with apparently two sequels). That said, I found the reading to be rather tiresome and tedious and I’m pretty sure it’s not just insane jealousy making me say that. Of course, I did manage to finish this book which is more than I can say for Christopher Paolini’s Eragon. That book made me want to take a red pen to each and every page so badly that I had to stop reading it for my own self preservation. Legacy I though could have benefited from a red pen, but it didn’t drive me so insane that I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.

The Survivors' Club- Lisa Gardner- One of her earlier books. I realized I only had a couple of titles left before I completed the Lisa Gardner canon so I figured what the hell. This book wasn’t one of my favorites. There was a Lieutenant Morelli in this book who was female…that was weird for me. I guess I’ve read too many Stephanie Plum novels to think of Morelli as anything but male.

The Keepers of Sulbreth- Susan Gourley- Well, it took me a while to get invested in the story. I was a little worried for a while but the male protagonist, Cage Stone, kept me going. He is an interesting character. Interesting enough that I am looking forward to reading the next installment because this book ends where it feels like the story just begins.

The Neighbor- Lisa Gardner- She had me. She had me so totally invested this book until about fifty pages from the end when it just kind of…I don’t even know what. The reveals started happening and then I think the tightness of the story unraveled. That, I think, has happened with all of her books I’ve read by her recently. This one didn’t have as much bad guy monologuing but still just fell flat. I also think DD Warren, who is a cool character, was wasted in this book. She didn’t get enough to do and did not have enough of a story arc. I also liked Bobby Dodge’s cameo.

Push- Sapphire- I wanted to read the book because of the movie. The movie is on my Netflix list and will show up here eventually, but the book was at the library and so I picked it up. This is an amazing book. I love how it's written. Stylistically. The story is sad. It’s sad, it’s moving, it’s inspirational…did I mention sad? People do horrible things some times. I really need to read something frivolous and happy now.

Sexy As Hell- Susan Johnson- The frivolous, trashy bodice ripping romance novel. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll be in my bunk (bonus points to anyone who can NAME THAT REFERENCE!)...

March Total: 7 Books. Year To Date Total: 29 Books. That leaves 71 books left to go. Why, oh why, didn't I make my goal "Download 100 songs"...I'd be done by now. Guess I'll know better for next year...