Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 2011 Book Report


I said at the end of last month that March would be devoted to the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Turns out I'm a big fat liar. I started off doing that and then I became the big fat liar as it turned into a kind of free-for-all. I finished my first book earlier than I had planned and was stuck on vacation reading whatever was lying around.

Better luck next month, Sci-fi/fantasy. Except that I'm kind of leaning toward focusing on historical fiction next month. That, or suspense/mystery novels. Maybe May will work better for you, Sci-fi/fantasy. Anyway, here's what I did manage to read though:

CassaStar- Alex J. Cavanaugh- THERE'S KIND OF A SPOILER IN THIS. JUST SO YOU KNOW. There’s one point in this novel where the main character, Byron, is about to undergo a final test in his combat pilot training. He and the other candidates are told they’ll have to destroy a live target, that the drones at which they’ll be shooting will each contain a prisoner condemned to die. When I read this, it made me sit up and go, “wait…what?” I like it when books do that. I assumed it had to be a ploy and it turned out I was right but it still gave me pause. At times this book made me think of Top Gun, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. And while I am not particularly fond of Star Wars (unless it's of the Robot Chicken variety), I am very much a fan of the other two. I hear there’s a sequel to this novel in the works.


House Rules
- Jodi Picoult- Solved. Page 252. Still, quite a good read.


Serenity: Better Days
- Joss Whedon, Brett Matthews and Will Conrad- Graphic novel. Shiny but too gorram short. Hate Fox Network for ruining my life.


Mini Shopaholic
- Sophie Kinsella- I started reading this series and so I will continue to read this series even though Becky Brandon (nee Bloomwood) is quite possibly the worst literary character on the face of the planet. All she does is lie and then lie some more and then, what’s worse is that everything always works out for her in the end. It drives me up a freaking wall, it really does. And now she’s going to Beverly Hills? Oh be still my heart. I know a lot of people really love these books and find them just hysterical but I am so not one of them. I keep exclaiming, "Oh my god, are you kidding me with this?" which then makes The Man exclaim, "Oh my god, could you please read something else?"


Love You More
- Lisa Gardner- A D.D. Warren novel. Kind of. I think D.D. was robbed in this outing because she didn't seem to get a whole lot to do. The focus was mostly placed (and rightfully so) on the murder suspect, Tessa. It's an interesting book and I liked it but it's billed as a D.D. Warren book and I really like D.D. Warren. I want her to have more to do next time. Anyway, like I said, this was an interesting book that managed to keep me in the dark a lot longer than some of Gardner's previous novels. Next time though, more D.D. That is all.


Cryer's Cross
- Lisa McMann- I wasn’t wild about this book. There wasn’t enough story in it for me. It started off strong and then just kind of meandered along not really working toward anything until BAM, hey, here’s the climax and boy isn’t it spooky (it isn’t.)! I loved her novels Wake and Fade (I was less thrilled with Gone.) but this one just didn’t do anything for me. I know it’s a YA novel but young adults aren’t stupid and don’t need to be pandered to. At least not the ones I know. This book felt like that to me.

So that does for my book report. Anyone out there in the blogosphere read anything interesting in the month of March? Tell me about it (and give yourself some bonus points if you just starting singing a certain Billy Joel song in your head like I did.)...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming...


I was going to blog this morning about something nice and happy because it's a day for nice and happy things. The sun is shining, the snow is melting (more on that in a minute) and my latest book order from Amazon is at the post office, just waiting for me to come and claim it. Oh, and it's my sister-in-law's birthday and I was going to write her a special birthday blog. But now I'm mad and so blindingly so that I need to vent all over this blog because venting all over the person at whom I am so very mad at would be inappropriate and would cause The Man to give me that whole what am I going to do with you look of which I am so very fond (That was sarcasm by the way.).

I am so mad. I don't know if I made that clear earlier. Let me say it again, just to be sure.


I am so mad.


I am so mad that mad doesn't even begin to describe how very mad I am. Irate. Furious. Incensed. Frakking Pissed Off. Those come closer.


Here's what happened:

I decided to go running this morning. A stupid thing to do, I know, when in the grips of some superflu/mono hybrid mystery disease (bonus points to anyone who doesn't point out that it wouldn't be a mystery disease if I would just go see a damn doctor already) but I was tired of sitting around feeling crappy. Also, the Gator Girl was in desperate need of an honest to goodness workout because if she didn't get one soon, someone was going to kill her (she may have inadvertently broken The Man's laptop this week. That caused The Man to give me another look, one that possibly suggested that the next time the Gator Girl and I leave the house together, the locks might be changed while we're away). Plus, there's the whole revelation that we'll be receiving a major snow storm this Friday (the forecasted accumulation starts in inches and ends in feet). Add that all together and I needed to get outside and run a little.

The Gator Girl is an excellent jogging companion. She stays in the heel position without being told to. Our theory is that she does this because we're finally moving at her pace. A lot of the time, when we jog around the neighborhood, I don't even have her on a leash because she doesn't need it. Today, however, I did. And it turned out to be a very good thing.

Because some of my neighbors were home.

I love my neighborhood. I do. The road is a loop that's perfect for walking/running, the views are pretty nice and we have beach down on the river that the dogs love to visit. I would just love the neighborhood more if I didn't have the current crop of neighbors that I have (I'm pretty sure they feel the same way about me.). A lot of them have dogs and while I am a dog person I am not a fan of people who just let their dogs roam and run wherever their little legs will carry them. My neighbors have an unfortunate tendency to do this.

It makes me angry. It makes me angry when, before I take my own dogs outside in my own yard, I have to check every window in every room of my house to make sure that one of the neighborhood dogs isn't taking a crap on my lawn or pissing on my foundation. It makes me angry that I can only walk my dogs around the neighborhood at certain times during the day because otherwise, the entire walk would be spent warding off all the neighborhood dogs who think its great fun to come running out and whoever is walking past. Their reasoning for this is that their dogs love other dogs. Well, here's the thing, you jackwagons, not every dog is going to love your dog. Some dogs do not appreciate it when another dog invades his or her personal space. Some people don't appreciate it either.

I am a dog person. I just can't stand their people.

So I've worked out a schedule of safe walking/running times. But today, one of my neighbors was home when she normally isn't. And not only was she home but she was outside her home with her four dogs. Two German Shepherds, one chihuahua and one pekingese. None of the dogs were on a leash. And every single one of them came charging the Gator Girl and I when they saw us coming. To be fair, the pekingese only made it as far as the end of their driveway.

But the other three came barking and running straight at us, left the yard and crossed the road where they forced us off the pavement and into the snowbank (and consequently a pile of dog shit...so happy!) so they could bark and snarl and snap at both me and my dog.

I. Was. Not. Amused.

I'm not afraid of dogs. I'm not afraid of German shepherds or Dobermans or Rotties or pit bulls. Nor am I afraid of being bitten by dogs. It's happened enough that it doesn't much faze me anymore. But this situation was scary because while I have waded into the midst of more than one dog fight into order to break it up, I know all the dogs involved. I know the owners involved.

Nor am I suddenly in the middle of it.

I didn't know these dogs. I didn't know what they were going to do but every damn time I saw one of them try to bite the Gator Girl, I- well, all right, I first put myself in between them and my dog- I found it harder and harder to breathe. It was not a good feeling. And the swarming didn't seem to be ending.

And I didn't know the owner. What did this woman do? She stood in her driveway calling her dogs. Her dogs who obviously weren't listening because they were too busy trying to eat my dog (who, by the way, was still pretty well behaved). It took a few minutes (yes, actual minutes) before she came out to get them. The Gator Girl and I in the meantime were doing some intricate avoid getting bitten dance.

"I'm so sorry," the woman said as she dragged her two German shepherds off me and my dog. "I didn't even see you coming."

I said nothing. I stood there, looking at the fattest chihuahua I've ever seen as he continued to charge and bark at us. I may have briefly considered punting him like a football but you can't prove it.

"I'm really sorry," she said in between failed attempts to call her chihuahua to heel. "I really didn't see you."

I still said nothing. But here's what I wanted to scream say (and yeah...I'm going to use all caps. Because I'm that mad.):

YOU'RE SORRY? YOU'RE SORRY? ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE NO RIGHT, NO RIGHT WHATSOEVER, TO HAVE THOSE PARTICULAR DOGS OFF LEASH IN AN YARD WITHOUT A FENCE. AND YOU STOOD THERE, JUST STOOD THERE, CALLING YOUR DOGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN WHEN THEY OBVIOUSLY DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT 'COME' MEANS WHEN YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN OUT IN THE GODDAMN ROAD PULLING THEM OFF ME AND MY DOG A HELL OF A LOT SOONER THAN YOU ACTUALLY DID. THIS IS SO INCREDIBLY RIDICULOUS. I HAVE EVERY DAMN RIGHT TO BE ABLE TO JOG WITH MY DOG WITHOUT HAVING TO BE ACCOSTED BY MY NEIGHBOR'S DOGS OVER AND OVER AGAIN. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE THAT YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND THAT? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE THAT YOU THINK IT'S OKAY TO HAVE DOGS WHO DO THAT LOOSE IN YOUR YARD? AND OBVIOUSLY YOUR DOGS CHARGING PEOPLE IS A PROBLEM SINCE YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY ON THE LOOK OUT FOR PASSERS BY. GOOD JOB WITH THAT, BY THE WAY. DO YOU KNOW, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA, HOW VERY LUCKY YOU ARE THAT I WASN'T OUT WITH BOTH MY DOGS OR OUT ALONE WITH MY GERMAN SHEPHERD? THIS WAS NOT OKAY, NOT BY A LONG SHOT WAS IT OKAY. YOUR DOGS COULD HAVE BITTEN ME, THEY COULD HAVE BITTEN MY DOG, WHICH BY THE WAY, WOULD HAVE MADE ME A BILLION TIMES MORE ANGRY THAN I ALREADY AM (YEAH, GO AHEAD AND PONDER THAT FOR A MINUTE.). GOD, YOU PEOPLE AND YOUR ABSOLUTE LACK OF ANY DOG RELATED COMMON SENSE JUST PISS ME RIGHT THE HELL OFF.

End rant.

(unrelated side note: I have no idea why everything is suddenly in italics. I don't know what I did to make it do this. I can't seem to make it stop either.)

So yeah. That's why I'm mad. I apologize to my sister-in-law. I don't want you to feel cheated out of anything so I am still going to write you a very special birthday blog. You'll just have to wait until Friday now. Congratulations, Alison, you're about to become a part of the A to Z Challenge.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alphabet Game (Plus, Another Shot of Happy)


I have to blog about this today (wait...'have to' is the wrong sentiment. I want to blog about this; I just need to do it today) because my blogs for the next couple of days are already spoken for as I gear up for my latest and perhaps toughest blogging challenge yet.


The A to Z Challenge.


This blogfest comes from the mind of Arlee Bird and is grown so large this year that it is being co-hosted by a number of other blogs. Last I knew, the number of participants for this blogfest had surpassed the 700 mark. That is a lot of blogs. I'm number 74 on the list.

The point of the blogfest as I understand it, is this (and BOY, I hope I have this right): Every day, well most every day (we get Sundays off for good behavior), we write a blog which corresponds with a letter of the alphabet. April 1st (otherwise known as this coming Friday) is for A and April 30th will be reserved for the letter Z. I'll either be blogging about Zelda or Zumba that day. I haven't settled on which yet but as blogging about Zumba will require me to actually experience Zumba, it'll most likely be all about Zelda.

I'm really looking forward to this blogging experience. I'm going to take the opportunity to post a few excerpts from the WIPs I've been taking about all the time (even if the idea scares the living daylights out of me). The first excerpt post will be on April 4th. My wildly creative brother as well as my young padawan, Omar, helped me brainstorm some topics for a couple of letters that had been giving me a tough time (X, Y and Z, I'm looking at you) and I think the whole thing will be a rousing success. Or, at least a success. Or, at the very least, not a failure. Or just maybe not a complete failure...

Only one way to be sure. And that's just to jump right in. So please, follow me blindly into this blogfest and let's see what shakes out...

And now for something completely different...


Today Jolene Perry's Week of Happy is focusing on Happy Writing. As in "What is your favorite part of writing?"

So what is my favorite part of writing? I love it all. If I'm creating, if I'm being productive, I'm incredibly happy. Two or three days without sleep? If it was spent typing furiously, scribbling ideas into a notebook or even on the shower wall (thank you bathtub markers!), then I'm good. Who needs sleep? Sure as hell not me.

I love writing dialogue. I have two characters in my current WIP, Second Nature, for whom I love writing dialogue. They have a great rhythm when they argue banter that's snarky and maybe a little flirty and just all around fun. I also like writing for the villain of the piece because although he's the bad guy, he doesn't think he's the bad guy (and truth be told, he really isn't. Oh wait...that's kind of a spoiler, isn't it?) and I want to avoid all those black hat wearing, mustache twirling bad guy clichés.

And I like reading what I've written. One of the commenters on Jolene's blog talked about how she loves the part during the first read through when she realizes she's a better writer than she thought she was. I have those moments too and I really do love them (even though I find it a little embarrassing to admit it).

But more than that, I love it when I hear good things back from my readers. You know, all three of them... I love it when I get an email that says "YOU CAN'T END IT THERE!!! YOU ARE NOT TO GET UP FROM THAT COMPUTER UNTIL YOU HAVE FINISHED THE NEXT CHAPTER AND SENT IT TO ME!!" (Mike) or a message on my answering machine (back in the days before VoiceMail) that says "OH MY GOD! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! THEY KISSED! OH MY GOD! THAT IS SO AWESOME!" (The one and only Heather) or a note scribbled in the margins at the end of a scene that exclaims "THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME!"

That last one made me grin for quite some time.

So I write because it makes me happy. And occasionally, it makes others happy too. Which is most definitely equally awesome.

So, if you're a writer, what's your favorite part about it? And if you're participating in the A or Z Challenge, do you have all 26 topics worked out? And if neither of those questions appeal to you, how about this: what makes you happy?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Super Sick and Happy


So I'm sick. I've been sick for a while now. About a week. I even broke out the adult cold medicine (for those of you not in the know, I am a notorious light weight where over the counter cold medicines are concerned. It's the kids' stuff or a coma.). It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking I have something other than a super ass kicking flu. I'm starting to suspect that I have mono. I've had it before and now I think I might have it again.

Oh joy.

At the risk of offending people, Gatorade and saltines are my new best friends.

Right now I am in a cold medicine induced haze, sitting on my couch watching the Game Show Network because that's all the brain power I currently have. My favorite show on the GSN has got to be Lingo. My reasons for loving this game do absolutely nothing for arguments over my level of maturity because- and I admit this freely- I snicker every damn time Chuck Woolery says to a contestant, "reach in and grab yourself a couple of balls."

Every damn time.

A couple of years ago, I created a Lingo drinking game which was great fun except that if one was playing the game in earnest, one would likely need to seek treatment for alcohol poisoning by the end of an half hour show because there was just so much on which to pick.

At the top of this particular episode, Chuck and his sidekick, Shandi, were talking about the benefits of being on top. It was almost too much for my drugged out mind to bear.

Almost, but not quite.

I also love to watch reruns of Match Game on the GSN. I always end up matching with Charles Nelson Reilly. I don't know what that says about me but I like to think that it says I'm awesome.

Speaking of awesome, Jolene Perry is having a Week of Happy on her blog, Been Writing? (and no, I haven't been. At least not today.). Today's topic is Happy Music. What are the songs that always make you smile? Here are some of mine:


The Kinks' Everybody's Gonna Be Happy is my go to song when I'm in a less than stellar happy mood. This is generally when I'm on my way into work, sitting in my car and trying to work up the will to walk across the parking lot. Plus, it's just a good song to groove to. And you know how I love to groove. Especially when I've been hitting the adult cold medicine.

And then there's Dr. Horrible. Whenever I am in a terrible mood (co-workers, I'm looking at you), I engage in a little Dr. Horrible therapy and then, suddenly, I don't hate the world quite as much. I still want to rule it though...



What music makes you happy? Tell me below because I just have to know. Now, where did I leave that bottle of DayQuil?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The End, Part Two




Last blog, we kind of talked about endings of things (books, movies, television shows, etc) that we would have changed had we been given the chance. I would have changed the ending of Firefly because it involved the Fox network execs canceling the show before Joss had been given a chance to tell us the whole story (That's right. I'll NEVER get over that one). But today I thought I'd write a little bit about the endings I did like and then invite you to do the same. Or just tell me more endings you didn't like. There aren't really any rules here at My Pet Blog. We don't hold with such nonsense here.

Yes, when I was teaching, I was most often criticized for my occasionally lacking classroom management abilities. But that's another blog for another day...

Let's get back to The End.

I've read a lot of books with a decent beginning and middle but just blow it on the ending and that makes me just not like the book. Once, a long time ago, I read Jude Deveraux's novel Remembrance and came away with that feeling because the book just didn't end. She just kept writing and writing and sent her story into the eye rolling territory I hate to visit. Now, keep in mind, this was a time traveling romance novel centered around past lives and yet, it wasn't until the very end that I was saying to myself, "Give me a break!" I think if she had ended the story a good twenty pages sooner, it would have been a much stronger book that didn't make me groan.

My co-worker is a Jude Deveraux fan and we have spent a couple of lunch breaks together (the days when I've forgotten my headphones) discussing this. She does not agree with me. She likes that Jude Deveraux spends time telling you what happens after the happy ending. I've always been on the other side of that, thinking that that's what a person's imagination is for. You know the two who are the two got their happy ending. Decide for yourself where they went afterward.

I've long considered Philippa Gregory's novel Wideacre to have one of the most perfect endings I've ever read. Just the other day, when I was poking around the local used book store, I was sucked into a conversation with the store's owner and another patron about this book. The patron said it was the most ridiculous story she'd ever read. Preposterous! she exclaimed. So you could just imagine her face when I offered my opinion that this book, this preposterous story, had one of the best endings I'd ever read.

Here's the thing: the story is outrageous. I don't know if you've ever read it and my fear of spoilers will dissuade me from writing about it in any real detail, but it's a wild story about a girl who, out of love and lust, does some wild things. She spins further and further out of control and you're sitting there thinking, "how the hell is this thing going to end?" And then, when the end does come, it really is perfect. It fits the story, it makes perfect sense...honestly, I think I swooned a little the first time I read it because it was that perfect.

How many more times do you think I should use the word 'perfect'?

Actions had consequences and Gregory's superb writing (she's really one of my all time favorites) puts it over the top. Lovely.

Ellen Emerson White writes fantastic endings for her novels. The only parts I don't like is that her novels have endings. I was also quite happy with the end of the Harry Potter series although I would have changed Harry's kids' names. Albus Severus? Are you kidding me? That's almost as bad as Renesmee Carlie.

On the movie side of things, I am partial to Dead Poets Society and Stranger Than Fiction. Every time I see Ethan Hawke get up on that desk and say "O captain, my captain", I cry. A lot. I've been teased by my students in more than one class for that too. Whatever. Bring on the water works. I'm not ashamed.

Stranger Than Fiction (if you haven't seen it, you must go out and do so immediately) is also quite excellent. It's kind of interesting for this sort of discussion too. A writer who discovers her main character is a living breathing person then decides to change the end of her novel to something less than brilliant. The ending's all right, it's just not as brilliant as it would have been had she decided to kill the main characters as she initially planned. When asked why she would do this, she responses with, "Because it's a book about a man who doesn't know he's about to die. And then dies. But if a man does know he's about to die and dies anyway. Dies- dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then- I mean, isn't that the type of man who you want to keep alive?"

Now it's your turn (you know, if you're so inclined)...what are your favorite endings?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The End

I love going to visit people's blogs because they often times lead me to hi-larious sites and/or videos. I don't remember the blog I saw this posted on (I found it via Twitter) but it made me laugh super hard so I decided to post it here today. It's called How Twilight Should Have Ended:




It comes from a site called How It Should Have Ended where you can find alternate endings for movies such as The Matrix, The Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz and more. I wasn't wild about the Lord of the Rings one (not nearly enough Aragorn...) but the following Top Gun video made me laugh and cheer:




If you feel like it, tell me what books and/or movies and/or television series endings you would change if you had the chance.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Upswing?


Hey, remember those writing goals I set way back in February? The ones I failed over and over again to achieve? Well, it took me a month but I have finally managed to move those last two pain in my ass chapters into the 'Done' column.

Sure, I had to stay up all night to make it happen and now I am spending more time than not staring vacantly off into space (although, to be fair, there's a possibility I'd be doing that even if I'd gotten a full eight hours of sleep) and my wrist hurts like a- like a- Well you know what? Insert your own appropriate simile. Bonus points will be given for creativity. I'm all tapped out at the moment.

I'm really rather tired. But unlike Sunday night when I didn't sleep because of the Gator Girl's untimely all night pukeapalooza event (as fun as it sounds), this is a good tired. I never mind staying up all night long when the end result is a healthy word count.

And a very healthy word count it is. Schism, the first part of my WIP, Second Nature, is currently sitting at at total of 96,116 words and I am currently feeling rather impressed with myself because for the first time in a long time, I may not hate each and every one of those words.

Of course, it could just be the fatigue talking. Still, this means that I can move forward with the second part of the WIP, Lineage. And I am very much looking forward to doing so. Right after I take a nap...

Hope you're experiencing success with your own endeavors.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And The Tree Tree Tree Came Down Down Down


How many guys from the power company does it take to to cut down a tree?

This morning I found out.

The Man called the power company this morning at 8 o'clock. I suspect he did this because he saw that gleam in my eye when the arborist said we'd have to harass them to come and deal with the problem of the tree. The woman to whom The Man spoke told him that she'd send someone out to take a look at it.

They came at 9:30 this morning (So, sorry Ava, but you lost the pool...). At first there were two of them. And then there were four more. They came with three trucks and between them, they managed to get a rope around the tree and use one of the trucks to pull it upright enough that one of the guys could cut it (and a couple of other trees with it) down with a chainsaw. The big tree is stretched across my front yard now. Well, now it's covered in snow so you can't see it but this is what it looked like before the snow fell:



I guess we'll have some cleaning up to do in the morning. Maybe I can just use the dogs' search and rescue harnesses and make them earn their kibble for a change. Tote that trunk, lift that branch...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Break


Well, it's the first day of spring in the Mount Washington Valley (and, you know, everywhere else too). Want to know how I know this? Because it's twenty degrees outside and there's four inches of snow in the forecast. Nothing says 'spring' in New England like four inches of snow.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch, we're celebrating the changing seasons by taking bets on when the oak tree in the front yard is going to come down. It's no longer a matter of 'if'' the tree will come down. Nope, we're on to 'when'. The wind has been so bad this winter that this tree broke in a rather inconvenience spot: right in the middle of the damn trunk. There's actually a chunk of the tree on the ground. That happened after we had a big wind storm Thursday night. I'm really quite surprised it didn't fall then and there because the only thing keeping it from crashing down (and ripping out our power lines in the process) is a skinny little pine tree that's going to die after this because of all the abuse the oak tree has heaped upon it.

I, of course, am blaming my neighbor (seemed like the mature thing to do.). If she hadn't gotten The Man to agree to taking down all those other trees, we would still have a wind break and now I wouldn't be in the position to lose even more trees.

Whatever. Too late for that now.

So I called my trusty arborist (yes, that's right. I have an arborist. Some people have manicurists. I have an arborist.) and asked him to take a look. He reported that he probably wouldn't be able to do anything about it because of its proximity to the power lines. Oh, and the fact that the damn tree is pretty much impossible to climb unless you're a freaking squirrel. Which he isn't. Freaking or otherwise. He said we'd have to call and get the power company to deal with the problem. This might, he told me, require some harassment on my part.

As the unofficial harassment queen of the Mount Washington Valley, I am feeling quite up to the challenge. I'm planning to put it this way: Look, kids. You can either come now and deal with the problem when it's remotely sunny and kind of not totally freezing. Or you can come at two in the morning and work in the dark and with temperatures in the teens. Your choice.

Wonder which one they'll pick.

So be sure to place your bets. Winner gets to reattach my power lines...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sláinte!


Happy Saint Patrick's Day, everyone. I hope if you're celebrating, you're doing so responsibly. Just remember kids: Designated Drivers make you cool.

Now that we have that PSA out of the way, we can move on to other things. This will be one of those potpourri blogs and probably a not very long one as I fell on the ice yesterday and hurt my wrist in the process, making it hard to type normally (I am currently employing the left handed hunt and peck method. Exhausting and irritating.) Honestly, I don't know what's wrong with me this winter. I don't think in the rest of my life put together I have fallen on the ice as many times as I have managed to fall this winter. It's embarrassing, really.

At least I'm not alone. Big has also taken quite a few tumbles this winter. The last one, Monday night, hurt his leg so much that putting any weight on it was a challenge so we're both sidelined and nursing our injuries together. It's too bad because today follows a miserable day of snow and more snow (Oh, Florida...how I miss thee) and is sunny and warm-ish (I mean, it's only forty degrees but still, for here and now, that's sadly warm) and perfect for walking. But as Big can't walk and I can't properly hold a leash, we'll be laying low and watching the snow melt.


Not a bad plan B, as plan B's go. I mean, we could be watching it snow more.


The Gator Girl is a little less enthusiastic about this plan as it involves laying low and watching snow melt. Holding still is never on her list of things to do (Oh, my kingdom for a fenced in yard).


Speaking of a To Do List, I've gotten to cross some things off of mine. And by 'some things', I really mean 'one thing'. I managed to fix the dryer. That's right: me. I did it. On my own. Because I am damn lucky a mechanical genius. This means the laundry is back to a workable level again (still amazes me that this household produces as much laundry as it does. Must get the dogs to wear less clothing.).


I'm so happy.


I was going to follow this with a writing update but the truth is that this hunt and peck typing is getting old and I don't really have a lot to offer in the way of a writing update (damn you, you last two chapters) so I'm going to skip it for now and just get to the part where I sign off for the day and go watch the snow melt.


Snow melting really is a beautiful thing in March.


Now, if I could only get Big to pass the Jameson's. Wez got sum cellabratin 2 do...


Sláinte!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Florida, Day One (From The Travel Diaries Archives)


4:00am: Up. Our flight leaves at 6:55am. Seemed like such a good idea at the time.

4:30am: Awake.

5:30am: The Man and I share an elevator down to the lobby of the hotel with a family of four with the biggest suitcase I think I have ever seen. The youngest child, a little girl, tells me they're going to Florida. I suspect we'll be on the same flight but I don't tell her this. She doesn't seem to like sharing the elevator with us.

5:40am: We find a place to park and get inside the airport, freezing our asses off because it's cold and we left our warm winter coats in the car. Seemed like such a good idea at the time.

5:41am: I see the line at the ticket counter and think we should have gotten here earlier.

5:50am: I grow tired of waiting and decide to cut in line to steal an open self serve kiosk. The Man stays back, looking bewildered because I don't tell him what I'm doing. I just do it.

5:52am: Security. Instead of showing the nice man with the gun my ID, I accidentally hand him my credit card. When he points out my error, I immediately respond, "This isn't a bribe." He returns with, "What? You have four ounces of liquid you want to get through?" As it turns out, I have a nearly full bottle of water in my backpack. I had meant to leave in the car and had forgotten to do so. However, 20 ounces is way too much, even for my credit card, so I have to throw it out.

6:00am: We make it through security. The Man is disappointed he was not selected for the "special" search.

6:15am: We're supposed to start boarding. We don't.

6:30am: Still not boarding. I'm getting antsy. We have a very tight connection to make in Atlanta and if we don't get in the air soon, I don't know how we'll make it. The Man tells me to calm down. I very politely don't kick him in the shins.

6:40am: We start boarding. The family with the giant suitcase (obviously checked through to their final destination) are on our flight. The Man and I are sitting in a exit row. This surprises me because I don't recall reserving an exit row and, honestly, like to avoid them because sitting in the exit row comes with a lot of responsibility and pressure. The Man, however, is elated. I tell him that if I end up having to save lives on this flight, I'll kill him. The Man tells me to calm down.

6:45am: The leg room is nice. She says begrudgingly.

6:55am: The time we were supposed to leave. I'm freaking out taking our still sitting at the gate status very well.

7:15am: The time we actually leave. If The Man tells me to calm down one more time, I may stab him with my fountain pen.

7:20am: The flight attendant makes the announcement that it'll be a bumpy flight. Oh joy.

7:30am: The Man reads my trip recap and says it itself is a sign that I need to calm down. I open the emergency doors and throw him out take this constructive criticism very well.

7:45am: The flight becomes so bumpy that I have to put my book and notebook away and just sit still with my eyes closed. I manage to fall asleep.

9:50am: I wake up when we touchdown in Atlanta. It feels like we just fell out of the sky. Talk about your rude awakenings. Who's flying this thing? He or she is obviously not a leaf on the wind. At least the brakes work.

10:00am: We manage to get off the plane and check the departure board only to discover we have to change concourses. Oh good. And here I was thinking I wouldn't get a nice job in today.

10:35am: We make it just in time to board the next plane. This time around, there is no exit row.

10:36am: Don't tell the man, but I'm kind of missing the extra leg room.

10:54am: Our schedule departure time.

10:55am: We leave the gate and taxi to the runway. We're told this flight will last 47 minutes once we're in the air.

11:11am: 'In the air' being the operative phrase here. We're still doing the taxi thing. Are we maybe just driving the plane to Jacksonville?

11:15am: Guess not.

11:20am: The flight attendant announces that beverage service will have to wait until we're in a less turbulent portion of the sky. With a forty seven minute flight, I'm not sure why they should bother.

11:50am: We're preparing for landing. No drinks in sight.

11:59am: Arrival in Jacksonville. The flight attendant announces that it's 70 degrees outside. I look out the window and see green instead of white. Why don't I live here?

12:15pm: We find The Grandparents.

12:30pm: We sit outside in the sun and wait for Gramps to bring the mini van to us. Did I mention it's 70 degrees? Above zero?

12:40pm: Gram takes a deep breath and starts talking. We talk about the crime in the area. And all her health problems. In detail.

1:30pm: Stop for lunch at the Cracker Barrel. I had a boss at The Store Before The Store who was obsessed with Cracker Barrel restaurants. My experience road tripping with him made the Cracker Barrel chain an endless source of hilarity for me ever since. I order pancakes. The Man orders a chicken BLT.

1:42pm: The chicken BLT arrives. Without chicken. The waitress, whom I suspect has a crush on The man, falls over herself apologizing.

1:48pm: The waitress returns with the correct sandwich. She falls all over herself apologizing. Again.

2:00pm: Gram tells us about the various campground neighborhoods as well as the VD capital of Florida. Old people, she tells us, don't know how to use protection. They do apparently know how to use vibrators.

3:00pm: I go to the ladies' room and hide. Wait...did I say 'hide'? Because I meant...No. I meant 'hide.'

3:30pm: We leave the Cracker Barrel and head for the campground. On the way, Gram fills us in on the local shopping scene. There are several Large Marts and one Super Bullseye store. I say I like the Bulleyes stores but I didn't know they had Super ones. Gram says she'll take me there.

4:30pm: We arrive at the campground. I change into my sandals. Gramps disappears so we take a tour of the campground with Gram. In the camp store there is a bulletin board with a poster of all the poisonous snakes that can be found in the area. I suddenly remember why I do not live here.

3:31pm: I am distracted by the list of killer reptiles by a list of used bookstores in the area. The Man tells me I won't be able to get any of my purchases home. I tell him I'll just buy a suitcase. This makes The Man very happy.

4:00pm: We return to the motor home. Gram and I drink wine. I turn down her offer until she tells me she needs to give me toilet flushing lessons. Then I find the wine extremely helpful.

4:30pm: I look at motor home brochures. A lot of motor home brochures.

5:00pm: I listen to Gram talk about who has done what to whom. Makes me wonder how she talks about The Man and I when we're not around.

7:00pm: Dinner at Pizza Hut.

9:00pm: Back to the motor home. Gram and Gramps are giving up their bedroom for us. We tell them we're fine on the pull out sofa bed but they will not hear of it. I'm guessing we'll hear of it later.

11:00pm: We're sent to bed with instructions to sleep as late as we want the next day. I am strangely exhausted and do as I am told.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Home Again


Well, we're home. Did you miss me? Never mind. Don't answer that. Anyway, this is what The Man and I came home to:

1. Six inches of snow on top of three inches of ice.

2. A pile of cat vomit on my sofa

3. A pile of cat shit in my office (I love my cats. Oh so much. Right?)

4. A broken dryer

5. One dead turtle

Wow. It's so good to be home. I may never go on vacation again.

The trip itself was very nice. And educational. Who knew that The Man's grandmother could work vibrators into so many different conversations? Certainly not me...

The sun did that whole shining thing and I was able to wear my sandals outdoors in March without being in danger of frostbite. The Man's grandparents got the chance to show off their grandson and I got to work on my tan. I even managed to get a little color. Of course that color was mostly red but hey, it's still a step up from the pasty white of a New Englander in winter.

In addition to showing us the Super Target, the grandparents also took us to the Butterfly Rainforest in Gainesville. It's part of the Florida Museum of Natural History on the University of Florida's Gainesville campus. It's really very impressive. It's an enclosed area just filled with all different sorts of butterflies, turtles, koi and birds. You can walk on paths through the enclosure and have to watch your step because the butterflies can and do land anywhere. One hung out on my shoulder for a bit while another took up residence on Gram's head. There are also some little quail birds that look like marshmallows on legs but they hid so well I couldn't get a picture of them. Here are some of the pics I did take (not all of them would center properly. I don't know why):


Feeding Time

The Rainforest




The Blue Morpho Butterfly. It's blue on the inside. Really.
My hitchhiker

Overall, it's a really neat place to visit. If you're ever in the position to go, I highly recommend it.

That just leaves me with getting back to normal (or whatever passes for it). I guess that means I have to get back to my WIP...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Office Space


Sound the trumpets because I am finally posting those pictures I said I was going to post last week or maybe even the week before. I don't even know. But that doesn't matter now because here they are, for your viewing pleasure, a glimpse at the big ass giant storyboard as well as a peek into the rest of my writing world.

Where the magic happens:



To answer your question, yes, my desk is generally this neat. A while back when I was trying to solve the problem of one particular character and was adding and deleting scenes like they were going out of fashion, the desk was much messier as it was covered in paper copies of every and every one of those scenes as I attempted to Frankenstein the right scene out of them. I figured it out eventually and the desk has since been restored to its normal sense of order. In the lower left hand corner, you can see the copies of my book made exclusively for me as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law. This will probably sound egotistical and definitely weird but I just like to touch them and thinking about the day when I might get to see them on a shelf in a bookstore somewhere.

How the magic happens:



The goblets were made for me by my sister, B. This probably wasn't the use for them she had envisioned but I seldom do what others envision. Except for all those times when I do just that.

Books? What books? I have no idea what you're talking about...



This is the closet in the room which is filled with books, obviously, but they're all writing themed books and literature textbooks and magazines. All my old notebooks are in here as well as my sword and dagger collection. It looks less organized than it really is. But just barely.

And finally, the picture for which you've all been waiting:



Like I said in a previous post, it's not quite 100% done of yet but you at least get the general idea. I really, really hope this board does for me what I've been imagining it will. The bed, by the way, does not normally look like that. (The)Heather is house/cat sitting while we're away (brave, brave soul) and so the bed has been remade. This is what the bed normally looks like:

Or this:

You may have noticed that the lamp on the bedside table there is missing in the big board shot. Of course, you might have just been looking at the big board and not anything else. I get that. Goodness knows I've been doing the same thing. Anyway, the lamp was the most recent victim in the Mega Cat Versus Gator Girl war. I shall be replacing it today. It'll help me avoid the packing just a little bit longer...

Speaking of which, I really do need to get back to that. Maybe I could smash in all my toes with a hammer instead. See y'all when I get back...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Packing Problems

The forecast for Florida during our stay:


Day One: A low of 43 degrees (did I mention it's currently ten below zero right now? 43 degrees would seem like heaven) and a high of 71 degrees. 70% change of thunderstorms. Perfect flying weather. I am focusing on the low of 43 degrees. Everything else is gravy, right?

Day Two: Low 47 with a high of 69. With sun. Lots and lots of sun.

Day Three: Low 51 degrees (I just giggled like a school girl) and highs in the low 70's. More sun.

Day Four: A low of 58 degrees and a high of 75 with partly cloudy skies. You know what that means...mostly sunny skies.

The highest temperature for the Mount Washington Valley during the same time frame is 44 degrees. This will happen the day we leave and will be followed by another round of below freezing temperatures. Not below zero temperatures (thank goodness. I am so over below zero temperatures) but still, below freezing.

The one and only downside to all these warm temperatures and sunny skies is that I'm actually going to have to wear shorts. This means I'm going to have to shave my legs. This is really only a problem because we're trying to pack smartly and lightly as to avoid having to check baggage and pay the baggage fees. I'm pretty sure the TSA site said disposable razors were all right but I'd really hate to end up pissing them off. Plus, I really hate disposable razors.

Maybe I'll just buy something when I get down there. And then leave it there.

The carry on only plan means I will also have to be smart about what clothes I pack. I like to bring extra clothes when I go because I like to have options. Tomorrow when I fill whatever bag I decide to bring, I'll have to put together outfits but sometimes, once I get to where I'm going, I just don't feel like wearing those outfits anymore. I was thinking about bringing two pairs of jeans (wearing one on the plane, packing the other) but that extra pair of jeans will take up room that could be used for other garments.

I hate packing. Hasn't anyone yet invented a suitcase which will pack itself? Because I would buy one. I really would.

And then there's the other things I like to take with me. I usually have a backpack just filled with books, notebooks, writing utensils and book lights (you know, in case one breaks, I like to have a back up). If there was ever a time to have a Kindle, right? I am not bringing my laptop which means I will not be blogging unless I commandeer The Man's laptop. I should probably limit myself to bringing just the one book. The purpose of the trip is to visit with The Man's grandparents. I can't imagine I'll have oodles of free time apart from being trap on the damn plane (I'm not much of a flying fan). One book would probably be sufficient.

Speaking of books, and this is a completely unrelated side note, but the fifth volume of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance With Dragons was issued a release date today. And it's coming out this year. In a handful of months even (July 12th). And GRRM fans everywhere rejoiced. I have very much enjoyed the first four books in this series so I am very much looking forward to getting my hands on the next one. (I heart Jon Snow. And Tyrion Lannister.) I'd also like to get my hands on HBO before April when the television series based on these books premieres. Entertainment Weekly had an exclusive and extended trailer on their site today. I watched a few (dozen) times and then had to wipe up an unsightly pile of drool from my desk. I begged The Man to get HBO just for the duration of the series' season but he laughed scoffingly at me and then left the room.

Utterly unfair.

But that doesn't have anything to do with packing.

See, this is why I am such a bad packer. I get distracted by something, anything, just so I don't have to pack because I hate it so. And then when I do actually get something into the suitcase, I end up having to take it all back out again to make sure I made the right decisions. It rightfully drives The Man crazy.

Tomorrow I plan to distract myself by posting the much anticipated pictures of my big ass storyboard monstrosity thing. (It's not quite 100% done but it's as close as it's going to get before this trip.) I honestly can't stop looking at it. If the airline tickets were refundable, I'd probably cancel the trip just so I could stay home and stare at it some more.

I am very pathetic, I know.

What's The Haps?


I don't really know what to blog about today. I've tried a couple of different openings but they bored even me so I deleted them. I'm sure this is a sign that I shouldn't be blogging at all but the fact remains that the dogs are sleeping soundly and so long as I stay in this chair and don't power down my computer, they will stay as such. And, as long as they're asleep, I don't need to take them outside in the twenty below zero weather.

Remind me again why I don't live somewhere where the temperature doesn't drop below zero...

I'll be in Florida next week. The advanced forecast says the weather will involve sun and temperatures in the seventies. I could live with that. I remain optimistic that the Florida weather people are more capable than the ones in my neck of the woods. They keep saying we'll only receive about an inch of snow and then six inches later, I'm forced to call them big fat liars. So I hope the Florida meteorologists aren't big fat liars. Of course, even if they're wrong and it's only fifty degrees or something, it'll still be a hell of a lot warmer than here.

Did I mention that it's currently twenty below zero?

In other news, Big has an ear infection. It was first brought to my attention Monday night/Tuesday morning at 2am when he couldn't stop shaking his head and was agitated enough to demand that I get out of bed and put a stop to it. It took me, The Man, several cotton swabs and a triple dose of Rescue Remedy to get him settled down enough to get through the rest of the night. Needless to say we went to the vet Tuesday afternoon. I think the vet's office cringes when they see my number pop up on the display. But, to their esteemed credit, they always pick up. Hell, I was delighted to not be calling because of the cat for a change. They were probably delighted by that too. Big came home from the visit with an antibiotic solution to be put into each ear twice a day. He was not delighted by that. A friend of mine with a German shepherd told me her pup was just finishing a round of antibiotics for an ear infection. She said getting his meds into him was like wrestling an alligator going into a death roll. I am beyond grateful that Big's protestations are never insurmountable.

I am, however, beginning to think finishing my WIP just might be. I probably shouldn't be too hard on myself because last week was just bad for writing and this week thus far hasn't been any better. Not that next week will work out because of that whole vacation thing but whatever...Excuses, excuses, I know. Those last two chapters are just really putting up a fight. I keep working on them when the opportunity does present itself and write a paragraph here and there but I have to be honest, I am doing some crap writing on those pages. If I read in a book what I was writing in my own, I'd first be in hysterics because it was so bad. Later I'd be in a rage because some joker who barely possesses the skills to string together a complete sentence managed to publish a book and yet, I haven't. Still, I figure it's better to have something on the page. Like a jumping off point. It'll work itself out sooner or later. It always does.

Eventually.

Right?

In the meantime, I am going to continue building my big giant storyboard (I swear I will post the pictures soon). It looks kind of awesome and whenever I'm in my office, I can't stop looking at it. I had the thought today that anyone who looks at it (my office doubles as a guest room for when we actually have a guest willing to brave the cats) is going to know every single spoiler there is to know in my work. I hate that idea but I really love the board. So just be forewarned: if you're sleeping in my office and you don't like spoilers, keep your eyes focused elsewhere.

Anyway, it looks as though my time is up for this evening. The dogs seemed to have realized how late it is and they're both sitting at my side, staring very intently at me. If they had Jedi mind powers, I think I would be laying out a buffet of cheeseburgers and chicken nuggets right about now.

Why can't they stalk their father instead? You know, besides the fact that if they did do that, I would be overcome by jealousy...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

February 2011 Book Review


Well, the parade of pathetic reading habits continues. I only managed three books this month. The good news is that only one of them was a vampire romance novel. I think that's progress. Baby step progress, maybe, but progress all the same. March will be devoted to reading Sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Or at least some of it. Anyway, here's what I read in February and what I ended up thinking of it:

Lover Avenged- J.R. Ward- I said I’d read something more substantial some time during the month. The month is not yet over. At least I don’t think so. I am kind of slacking as far as reading (and hell, everything else) is concerned. The title made me think this novel would be about a different vampire warrior guy but I was wrong and it doesn't really matter. Anyway, there’s one character in this book who showed up for the first time in the second novel of this series and has been kind of interesting only I know his secret origin past (I knew it the second I first saw him in the second book). It still hasn’t been revealed nor have any of the characters figured it out. It’s getting kind of sad. Since I believe he is the focus of the next book in this series, perhaps they’ll figure it out then.

The Tenth Circle- Jodi Picoult- The one thing I’ve found I can say about each and every one of her novels (that I’ve read. There are still some I haven’t gotten to yet.) is that they’re not boring. I find I spend a lot of time wondering where the hell things are going because, more often than not, I have no idea. This book was like that, obviously. However, unlike some of her other books (The Pact and Keeping Faith, for example), I wasn’t really all that thrilled with the ending. It felt unfinished to me and I don’t often say that about novels. Usually I find I say the opposite. A lot of books, I think, end too late and would’ve been stronger had they chopped off the last twenty or so pages and let the readers’ imagination do the rest. I didn’t think that at all with this book. I needed a little bit more. Still, gorgeous writing and illustrations.

Second Glance- Jodi Picoult- I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. I thought the second part of the book was gorgeous, just absolutely gorgeous. However, I lost interest by the end of the book. It felt as though I’d been reading it forever and it would never end. And then, when it did end, I wasn’t all that moved. But did I mention just how damn beautiful Part Two was? Because if I didn't, I meant to.