Friday, July 30, 2010

Television Week In Review (week Ending 7/30/10)


The Closer: In tonight's episode, the Major Crimes division investigates the apparent suicide of a supposedly rehabbed meth addict. Sanchez shows up to the crime scene with Reuben, the kid whose father was killed by Fritz in the previous episode. The meth addict didn't actually commit suicide and while it took me a little while to suspect her in-laws, I didn't know which one of them had done it until Brenda confirmed it. This is unusual because I normally have it pegged fairly early in the episode. Fritz and Brenda's argument in the beginning wasn't funny exactly but Gabriel's reaction to it kind of was...even if it was predictable. One question though: What exactly is Commander Taylor still doing on this show? I mean, he's had even less to do so far this season than he has in previous seasons. And one other thing...what was up with the poorly disguised product placement? First those ugly ass Sketcher shape up sneakers and then the kit kat on the table? Stop it. Stop it now. Or, if you can't stop it, don't be so freaking obvious about it.


Hell's Kitchen: Tonight the final four had to teach inept bachelors how to cook monkfish. I watched most of this segment with my eyes closed because the shots of people stripping the skin off the fish carcass was just a shade too much for me. Yes, it's official. If I am ever stranded on a desert island, I will starve to death unless I find a macaroni and cheese tree growing somewhere. My favorite bachelor was the guy Holly taught because he was funny. I loved it when Chef Ramsey asked him what was in the potatoes and the guy answered, "potatoes." And then when he encouraged Chef Ramsey to take his time when sampling the dish. Ramsey's look and Holly's look of absolute horror was priceless. And then when Ramsey praised the dish, the bachelor said, "Really? I mean, yes." Funny. Anyway, the guy with the blue hair whose name I am totally spacing on right now won- JAY! His name is Jay. Jay won and took Holly on an excursion on the Goodyear blimp. If it had been me, I would have stayed in the car. There's just something about a mode of air transportation that requires ten able bodied people to lift off the ground that maybe I don't trust so much. Benjamin was absolutely silent during dinner service and I was convinced he would be going home but Ramsey pulled a fast one and kept them all. Joe and I still think it'll come down to Jay and Holly with Jay coming out as the eventual (and obvious) winner.

White Collar: I can never decide how I feel about this show. For the most part, I like it because I like Neal Caffrey's character. It makes me want to be a smooth suave con artist type. What I am less thrilled about is the FBI's character. What's his name? Peter, I think? The scene at the end where he was posing as the mob's peacemaker was just silly. Plus this show does that annoying "let's explain things for the stupid audience members watching at home" bit and doesn't disguise it well.

Covert Affairs: Also known as Alias Lite. About five minutes into watching heroine Annie Walker try to turn an asset, I turned to Joe and said, "Sydney Bristow would have that guy wearing eye liner and wig already." Another show I can't decide if I like. I'm going to give it some more time because I do like Auggie but this show was much better when Jennifer Garner was the one trying to save the world.


So You Think You Can Dance: I missed the beginning of the show because Joe and I went to check out Salt with Angelina Jolie and I'd forgotten to set the DVR. Got home in time to watch the last forty five minutes. I still think Kent will win and that Jose should be going home tomorrow. Stop the insanity, Judges. Send Jose home already. Someone else will also be headed home too. I'd pick Adechike but I'm worried that the brilliant Billy Bell's time will have run out. Stupid America. Why do we give you the power of the vote? You never use it right. Never.

Psych: So, Olympia Dukakis disturbs Lassiter, huh? That's kind of funny. This episode involved aliens and Freddie Prinze, Jr. and had me laughing quite a bit. I love how madcap this show is every damn week.


So You Think You Can Dance Results: What?? What do you mean you booted Billy Bell? You big bunch of dick waffle asshats! I mean, yeah, sure, get rid of Jose, he needed to be gone long before now, but how can you get rid of Billy Freaking Awesome Bell? I hate this season, I hate this season. Can you just call it off now? Say that Kent is America's favorite dancerand call it good because I'm honestly not sure I can muster up the interest to watch anymore of this season. So there.

Burn Notice: Well, this week I didn't get to watch this episode because we had company in the form of my brother and sister-in-law and their little dogs too. I just want to say that I don't like Jesse very much. I'm hoping he'll disappear soon.

Royal Pains: See above. Only, in Jesse's place, put the mean woman doctor.

Project Runway: It's baaaaaaaaaaack. I didn' t get to watch this episode either but I will. Apparently, it's an hour and a half long. Not sure what they're going to do with the extra half hour except for show snarky designer wannabes snark at one another but maybe it'll mean 30 more minutes of Tim Gunn. Make it Work!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I don't know where the Conway Daily Sun gets their horoscopes but they've always been very good to me. Eerily accurate in a lot of cases so I do tend to listen to them. One afternoon, I read my horoscope and it ended with "don't forget to return that library book" which was damn convenient because I did have a library book to return and I had forgotten about it. Weird, right?

The weirdest/awesomest example I have is a little over seven years old now. My horoscope ended with the line (and I kid you not) "A friend is pregnant with a boy."

Very strange, right? Exceptionally specific for a horoscope, I thought. But then, two weeks later, my best friend from high school told me she was pregnant. I asked her if she wanted me to tell her the sex of the baby. I immediately went home and dug through old newspapers until I found the one containing my very dead on accurate horoscope. She called me some time later, the day they did learn the sex of the baby, and guess was a boy.

The boy is about to turn seven years old. Happy birthday, kiddo!

Anyway, so like I said before, I tend to follow their instructions. Seems the thing to do.

So that said, here's what the stars held for me today:

Get clear about what you are doing, and don't worry so much about how it will happen. As you focus on the effect you want to have, the details work themselves out.

This happens to be very timely advice because I have decided to go on a writing hiatus. This decision didn't come from this horoscope but seeing this in the paper today kind of let me know that I made the correct decision. The decision to go on hiatus.

The idea came out of the fact that as of last night, my plan for my WIP involved a fire pit and a box of matches. 153,000 words in the manuscript (thus far) and I hated them all. Hate them all.

So here's the new plan:

Stop writing.

No, really. That's it. The theory behind the hatred is that I've been focusing too much on it, working too hard, and trying to force something out for the sake of reaching a word count. The theory to remove the hatred is that if I distance myself from the project for a while (weeks, likely, as in more than one), I'll be able to come back to it with fresh eyes and a better attitude and more focus and- I don't know- other things like that. Renewed creativity. Less hatred. Less desire to start a bonfire and roast some marshmallows. Stuff like that.

So yes, this might be the final nail in the goal reaching coffin but I would rather write a book I am happy with than just write something with the aim of hitting a preset number of words or a date on a calendar. So if it takes years (oh please, don't let it take years), it takes years. Everything else will keep.

But it won't take years.


So that's that. I don't exactly know what I'm going to do during my hiatus. The idea of not writing kind of makes me crazy. The key will be keeping busy. Thank goodness I didn't start Mark's Harry Potter blog yet. That'll kill an afternoon or two.

Two days down...a hell of a lot more to go.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Goes Up

My horoscope warned me about this. It was probably about a week ago and chose to focus more on the reverse of the title adage. "What goes down must also come up" was their viewpoint which was interesting because it's so very untrue. I mean, gravity is not always the most forgiving thing, you know? If you fall off a cliff into a deep ravine, you might come back up but it won't be an instantaneous thing and will likely be on a stretcher or possibly in a body bag. But they weren't talking about cliffs and ravines, they were talking about moods and life in general.

And they were right. I did have a bad patch that swung back into a good patch where I found missing characters and didn't absolutely hate every single word of my novel.

But now we're back in a down slide. It sucks that the upswing didn't last longer. I probably squandered it. I do that sometimes. My characters are still found. They're just stuck inside some inspirational Hallmark card hell. No matter what I write, it always seems like it'll lead to a scene where everyone involved, heroes and villains alike, will hold hands while skipping around a daisy strewed meadow singing Kumbaya.

Not that that isn't a funny image. Because it is. It really, really is. It's just not exactly what I was aiming for.

The Red Sox, by the way, are also in another down slide. They're now 8 games out of first place in the AL East and 5 games behind Tampa Bay for the wild card. But that sometimes happens too. The good news is that Jacoby Ellsbury is playing in Florida right now and if he can avoid re-injuring himself, he should be back before too much longer.

Always a silver lining.

I'm also a little sad because my baby robins, my little trio, have left the nest, leaving me with a severe case of Empty Nest Syndrome. One day, they were there. The next they were gone. And now they don't call, they don't write. They don't text either. Ungrateful birds. C'mon, I spent so much time looking out for you. Every time the thing (yes, I have two cats that are not things. This cat is an exception) the neighbor calls a cat came stalking by, I chased it off. When it was windy and stormy, I paced the kitchen worrying about you. And how do you repay me? You disappear, just completely disappear. You take your fancy new feathers and ability to fly and do just that. You fly, far, far away. You know, I haven't written a single word since you just up and left me. Did you know that?

Of course, if I did, it would just be a scene where all characters involve, both heroes and villains alike, would hold hands while skipping around a daisy strewed meadow singing Kumbaya.

But still, that would be something.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Television Week In Review (Week Ending 7/23/10)


Joe and I watched The Blind Side. I know there's some controversy surrounding the film regarding the validity of the story and I don't know much more than that. I decided to watch the movie as a movie which probably sounds strange. I decided to judge it as is. It was funnier than I thought it was going to be and I didn't realize that Tim McGraw played Sandra Bullock's husband until I saw his name in the credits. Sorry...I'm not much of a country music fan. I really enjoyed Sandra Bullock's performance.


The Closer: I thought last week's premiere was just strange. It felt off to me and some of the scenes felt like it was a high school production. This week's episode was much better, I thought. It's always interesting when Captain Raydor (played by Mary McDonnell) stops in for a visit and the end scene was really pretty tense. I was reasonably assured Brenda, being the show's title character, would be all right but still, it was intense.


Hell's Kitchen: Joe and I started watching this show this summer for the first time. And, except for the egg challenge that forced me out of the room, it's been a pretty entertaining show. Why do they continue to argue with Chef Ramsey? Well, whatever the reason, I'm glad they do because it makes for fun television. I think Holly might end up taking it all. My early money was on Ben but since both Ramsey and Ramsey's assistant (tall bald guy) spent the most of the episode screaming "You can't lead!", peppered with a variety of profanity, I think he might not be able to pull it off. So now I'm rooting for Holly.

Covert Affairs: The new spy show on the USA network. The absolute bright spot is Christopher Gorham playing Auggie, the blind op tech guy. Joe and I spent most of this episode saying things like, "Sydney Bristow wouldn't have done that." I'm calling this show Alias Lite because that's what it is. I really wish Annie would stop narrating what she's doing to the audience. Like the car chase scene in the pilot episode where she was running through her training acronyms she learned at the Farm. Also, her sister is a pain in the ass. Bring on Francie and Will. And Sydney Bristow. Seriously, if you've never seen Alias, you should. At least the first two to four seasons. Skip the fifth season. It's just silly.


So You Think You Can Dance: Well, I think Kent is going to win this season at a walk. But since Alex was knocked out due to injury, I don't much care. Billy Bell didn't dance tonight because of injury. I don't know what's going on over at that show this season but they should really look into it. Anyway, I enjoyed Sonya Tayeh's dance on the edge although I would have rather seen Alex or Billy dance the male role. Sorry, Jose, but I think it's time for you to leave the show.

Psych: Oh, how I love this show. Last week featured a hysterical John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt joke (all right, at least I found it to be hysterical, so much so that I still remember it). This week, everyone switched partners. Dule Hill can really tap dance...good for him!


Community: I recorded this episode because although it's a rerun, it's one I didn't see the first time around. However, my enjoyment of this episode has been postponed due to the visitation of my niece, Jupiter.

So You Think You Can Dance Results: Same here.

Burn Notice: Same here.

Royal Pains: This one too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Something, don't know what, made me think about this today and so I have found it and brought it to you...let's see if it works:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So Much Blogging, So Little Time...

Well, hello there and good morning to each and every one of you. I'm saying morning because it's approximately 1:15am here in the Mount Washington Valley and I am embarking on another all nighter. I have high hopes tonight. I think probably because I had a pretty decent day, all things considered. But before I get to work on Second Nature, I wanted to write a blog and because I've had not only a pretty decent day, but a pretty decent everything of late, there's a lot about which to blog.

So, first, I guess, is the admission that I went to see The Twilight Saga: Eclipse this weekend. And here's the shocker: I didn't hate it. When the commercials all claim that it's the best one yet, they're not lying. Of course, the first two movies were really, really terrible so it wouldn't have taken much for Eclipse to surpass them all but yeah, it did. Sure, there were some groan inducing, eye rolling moments that would have inspired me to throw popcorn at the screen had I not eaten all the popcorn (I, for some reason, really love movie theater popcorn) before the trailers had finished running. There was some really pathetic writing and even more pathetic line delivery. The flashback scenes were slightly giggle inducing but despite all that, there was some stuff that didn't suck. Like Bella's dad, Charlie Swan. He was pretty awesome. I also liked the big battle scene where the Cullen family and the werewolves took on the newborn vamps in a fight to the death. This is the first movie where the special effects didn't look as though they'd been done on a Mac Book Pro by some inept eleven year old.

Of course, all this could have been influenced by the fact that one of the trailers shown before the movie was for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Have I mentioned how much I want to already be in line to see this movie even though it doesn't open until November? Because I do.

Puck, B.A. Baracus and Stripe waiting to be fed

In other home life, I am completely obsessed with my trio of baby robins (see above). Okay, so technically, they're not mine. They belong to the rather vigilant parents always hovering nearby, but still. They're living in my plant so I like to think I have some role in their lives. What it comes down to is that these three are really the worst thing to happen to my word count since...well, since I discovered you can download classic Nintendo games onto your new shiny Nintendo Wii. Adventures of Link, I will defeat you. Or, I will be distracted by the adorable awkwardness of the Trio (the TRIO! Why didn't I name the babies after the TRIO!!! WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?!?!?!? I am very ashamed of myself. Anyone out there know why I am currently pitching a fit over this? If you do (and your answer is NOT "because you're kind of crazy"), you will be awarded massive amounts of bonus points.) and completely forget I spent all that money (all right, not that much money) downloading you.

Speaking of word count- well, all right, so we were speaking of Nintendo games I have failed to win in the last- what now?- fifteen years of my life and my obsession (there's that word again) with pop culture references that always seem to stem from the same two places. The point is I intended to speak of word count and will hereby do so now.

My current WIP word count is 150,015. I am ahead, way ahead, of the goal I set for myself back in January (the one that said I'd hit 200,000 words by Halloween). The problem is there seems to be a lot of story yet to be told. Probably more than 50,000 words worth. This means I may simultaneously reach and fail to reach my goal. I'll hit 200,000 words. I feel good about that. But I'm not sure I'll finish writing the book. At least not by Halloween.

What do you mean you won't be finished? ARRG!

This matters only because I had planned to finish with Second Nature just before I embark on another NaNoWriMo quest (for which I already have a kick ass story idea. I seriously can't wait to get started on it), let Second Nature sit while I write the NaNoWriMo story and then take a fresh look at it in December. Stephen King recommends doing that with a finished manuscript in his book On Writing. I find it to be very good advice. You have fresh eyes with which to look at it and can more easily see the areas that need fixing.

So you might be reading the previous paragraph and wondering what I'm so damn happy about. Well, I'll tell you (can anyone Name That Reference? I won't hold it against you if you can't because it's trés obscure)...

A while back, I blogged about how I had misplaced a main character. He'd gone on a walkabout of sorts and I sort of...lost him. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where he had gone. I know, weird right? I'm supposed to be in control of these people who only exist in the confines of my mind but the truth remains that there are times when I am not. However, this acknowledged, I can now announce that the prodigal character has returned to the fold. We can call off the search parties because he's back.

Of course I still don't exactly know how to go about writing his story arc. It involves a road to redemption and a long walk upon it, but I am striving to avoid major clichés here. So far, me striving to avoid major clichés looks an awful lot like me staring at the ceiling, studying water stains and calculating how many coats of paint it would take to cover said water stains. I'm thinking three. Maybe four. Five at the most.

Maybe I'll go download some music off the internet instead.

I mean, maybe I'll stop blogging and get this all nighter started.

Remind me again why I don't drink coffee...

p.s....THE GRASS IS GROWING!!! Look:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dog Racist

The Big Brave German Shepherd

If you know me, or you know this blog, you know that I have a German Shepherd. He's big. A lot bigger than German Shepherds tend to be. A male GSD generally tops out at around 95 pounds. 100 pound shepherds aren't completely unheard of. But Big, the Big Brave German Shepherd, is 130 pounds.

That's why we call him Big. We weren't going for irony.

And being a German Shepherd mom, I am well aware that there are people out in the world who are wary of the breed because one bad experience or another. When Joe and I were first discussing the possibility of a dog, I suggested a German Shepherd because, growing up, we had had a fantastic shepherd (Sheba). Joe had the opposite experience. Every shepherd he and his family came across was aggressive and mean. Therefore, Joe had come to the conclusion that all GSDs were crazy.

I worked with a kid a few years back who had also come to the same conclusion. We were processing shipment one afternoon when the subject of dogs came up. He asked me what kind of dog I had and I told him.

"Oh," the kid said then. "I don't like German Shepherds. They're all crazy!"

So I asked him what made him think that way. And he told me. Here's how it started:

"So this one time, I was running from the cops..."

Ah ha. I think we've found the problem.

But anyway, I'm used to the wariness and outright fear whenever Big and I are out about town. Last month, we were walking around Settler's Green (me, Big and the Gator Girl) and this one shopper froze, actually froze, in her steps when she saw us coming and then ran up a grassy knoll and hid behind her shopping bags. If she could have scaled the side of the building guarding her back, I think she would have.

"She's, uh, afraid of dogs," her husband offered as we walked past.

Yeah, thanks. I actually figured that out on my own.

But them's the breaks. I don't take it personally.

Today, though, I had an experience that really annoyed me.

I had taken the dogs with me when I went out to do errands today even though it was hot and humid because none of the errands were very long or demanding and the dogs have been shut up in the house too much of late. The drawback to having a sea of hay where your lawn used to be.

Need fence now.

Anyway, one of our errands took us to the library when I dropped off a box of VHS tapes to donate to their annual book and movie sale that's coming up (I said I'd work on de-cluttering the house. I guess I just took the first step). I brought the box inside and then went to get back in the car.

Big was sitting in the back seat. The window was down as far as it would go. It doesn't go down all the way in the backseat, only the front seats. He's always very calm in the car. The only time he makes any noise is if there's a rampant rampaging Malinois trying to tear his ears off or if he sees his arch nemesis, Dowa. But he shouldn't be faulted for that. I too growl whenever I see Dowa.

But the rest of the time, Big is quiet. It doesn't matter if he sees other dogs. He doesn't care about them. Not one whit.

Now that the scene is set, let me continue. I was getting into the car when a group came out of the library and into the parking lot. They had with them a pomeranian. Off leash. I've ranted on more than one occasion about the evils of off leash dogs in public places so I won't do that again...tonight. But I sat and I waited for the people and their little dog too to make their way through the parking lot to their car. While I sat and waited, Big watched.

One of them women noticed Big watching her dog and Lost. It. (Coincidentally, the Gator Girl had also Lost. It. She does not like dogs being off leash.) She ran toward her precious puff ball (who was busy pissing on the pay phone) and scooped him up in her arms. I stared. The rest of her group stared. Big stared too. The Gator Girl continued her fit.

One of the woman's friends asked if she was all right. The woman said she was.

"I was just-" she said, "worried, you know? I mean, you never know when one of them will go through a window."

The them was directed at Big the dog who had done absolutely nothing, hadn't even moved and probably hadn't even blinked, since she and Precious Poofy had appeared.

Big and I actually exchanged glances with one another. Then we went back to watching. Mostly because they were now standing in front of the car.

"Precious (not the dog's real name) would be a snack for one of them."

I use italics here for a reason because there's no other way really to convey online the fact that the woman had an actual tone when talking about Big. And not a friendly tone either.

Any dog can be mean, lady. It's not a breed thing. Any dog can be a nutjob. Look at the members of Big's new agility class...Sorry, I digress.

There are plenty of insane pomeranians out in the world running around attacking people's ankles and pant legs. Just because it's puffy and five pounds, doesn't make that behavior above reproach or something. The fault lies with incompetent and irresponsible dog owners in the world who get dogs for wrong reasons and don't do the proper training and socializing. Or any training or socializing.

You are a dog racist, library lady and I hereby frown upon you. I know this proclamation will leave you devastated.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there a Malinois in my macaroni.

The Big Brave German Shepherd with Max the Wonder Schnauzer. Vicious, isn't he?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Naming of the Robins

So, as it turns out, there are actually three baby robins in the Swedish ivy nest, not just two. I saw the third one today and tried hard as hell to get a picture of the three of them but the little bastards were not cooperating. Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.

I did, however, have luck coming up with names for my little trio of mohawk headed friends. Joe, by the way, is thrilled by this. He's still irked that I named the chipmunks living in our retaining wall (Mozart and Stanzie).

Below is a list of names...see if you can figure out from where their names came. One will be pretty damn obvious so there will be no bonus points awards there.

1. B.A. Baracus
2. Puck
3. Stripe

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Whatever's Wrong With You Is No Little Thing

Okay, Smarty Pants...Name That Reference! (Actually, I don't suspect this one will be much of a curveball for you.)

Remember that blog I was telling you about the other day? The Mark Reads Twilight blog that had me laughing my ass off? I finished reading it last night. Never mind the fact that I had intended to pull an all nighter so I could work on my WIP as it has reached my sieve of a mind that it's freaking July and I only have four more months to finish Second Nature and somehow ended up on the Mark Reads Twilight blog page instead. Don't know how that happened. But however I ended up there, I stayed there until I'd gotten through his review of Breaking Dawn which is the one I'd really been waiting to read because it was the book in the series to which I was the most violently opposed. He was pretty opposed to it too. One of his chapter summaries/reaction pieces was a letter written to Stephenie Meyer from the character of Renesme (Bella and Edward's little half human/half vampire spawn) and it had me laughing so frakking hard, I was forced to stop taking normal breaths and settle for big loud gasps. And since this happened at about two o'clock this morning, I am also forced to apologize if I woke you up, Joe. But it was really funny.

The other really funny one (besides the reaction pieces to the big Bella/Edward sex scene and Renesme's birth) was when William Shakespeare also took the time to write Stephenie Meyer a letter, calling her out on her terrible writing techniques. And again, I apologize, Joe, if I woke you up. But it was really funny.

Mark repeatedly wondered how this book, and the three before it, were published and how on earth an editor let that tripe get past him or her. He was also very put out with Meyer's portrayal of women (I was rather bothered by it too) as evidenced by how horrible she is to her female characters.

So this made me worry about what Mark might say if he was reading my books. Would he demand that my license to create fiction be revoked as he did with Meyer? I mean, I like to think that I have created strong, independent female characters but Stephenie Meyer thought the same thing, you know? Haleine, the main character of Effigy, starts off strong and determined before I throw everything including the kitchen sink at her and then she falters and spirals into a depression state (you know, to put it mildly). Is that bad? SPOILER ALERT (SKIP DOWN TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO AVOID IT...REALLY THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE!!) She spends Second Nature clawing her way back.

Likewise, the character of Cate in Second Nature quite efficiently has her ass handed to her and while she threatens to give up and pack it in, she never does. Or at least she hasn't yet. The book isn't finished so I guess I can't testify as to what she'll actually end up doing but if she stays anywhere near my current story arc, she'll stay strong. She'll kick ass and take names and make several witty and slightly sarcastic comments while doing so.

I tried to figure out exactly what my characters (female and otherwise) would do last night after I stopped reading Mark Reads Twilight (Now Mark is reading the Harry Potter series and I'm very interested in finding out how he feels about that. I'm curious to find out how I'll react if he doesn't absolutely revere it like I do.) and obsessing over what Mark might think of my own work long enough to get back to my work.

And somewhere along the way, I actually lost a chapter and I seem to be lacking the brainpower (hence the title of this blog) to find the damn thing. I'm starting to suspect it just doesn't exist and I made a wrong notation somewhere along the line. That's what I'm working on right now. You know, besides writing this blog. I also had a really good laugh as I looked over my notes from last night and saw the following chapter description scribbled down:

Chapter Forty: Dana does something.

Oh? So he does something? Well, that'll certainly make for scintillating reading then, won't it?

Though, come to think of it, it's probably better than the alternative. Just ask Mark. I mean, I'd lost count of the number of times he opened a chapter review with "In Chapter X, nothing happens."

So at least my characters are doing something, right?

Anyway, back to the fight. Stay cool.

Jimmy Fallon, I heart you.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Baby Picture

Here's a picture I snapped today of the babies sans parents. Guess they were on a food hunt...

Cute, huh? I especially love the little wispy mohawks. I'm now trying to come up with the perfect names for these two. Any suggestions?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Congratulations, It's An It!

Bonus points to anyone who can Name That Reference! (the hottest sensation sweeping the nation!)...By the way, congrats to Jake and Alison at Welcome Sunshine Home for correcting identifying the last Name That Reference challenge. It's especially impressive when you consider that you didn't even watch the show to which I was referring. Kudos, kids!

So, a few blogs ago, I told you about the robins who had made a nest in my Swedish Ivy plant (as seen in the photo left or above or wherever it ends up on this particular blog). They've been very nice house guests, very seldom scolding us whenever we go near the nest (Sorry, kids but your nest just happens to be near the outdoor spigot to which the 100 foot hose is now attached. I have to water the lawn. Unless you've already eaten all the grass seed that is. Then I have to water the loam and hay) and never once (much to Joe's relief) attacking us.

If you don't know why Joe's so relieved about this (besides the obvious), you haven't heard the story of last summer's swallow incident. I can't believe I didn't blog about it because it was damn hysterical. Frankly, it's still damn hysterical. See, what happened was that, in the summer, Joe often walks to work because it's less than a mile from the house and Mount Washington Valley traffic in the summer being what it is, walking can be much quicker. Well, along the less than a mile way to work was a tree and in that tree lived a Swallow who had built a nest and laid some eggs and had the somewhat irksome habit of attacking everyone and everything that had the misfortune of going by her tree. And since her tree was set right next to the sidewalk in front of an outlet center, there were a lot of somethings going by her tree. Joe was one of these somethings and endured quite a few dive bombings during that season.

The last straw for Joe came the night that Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was released. I was spending the night with my sister, B, and Joe called me in a hysterical outrage. I'm not kidding, I'm not exaggerating. B can attest to the truth of that statement because she could hear the hysterics from across the room even before I put the call on speaker phone. I think our favorite line of the entire rant was Hysterical Joe screaming "What am I going to do? That bird's a menace!" My suggestion was to walk on the other side of the street. Joe's suggestion was to call Animal Control.

"You're not calling Animal Control," I said once I had both brought my laughter under control and regained my ability to breathe.

"But that bird's a nuisance!"

"Even so," I said. And then proceeded to laugh my head off for the next hour to offer unconditional love and absolute support.

So, you can understand how Joe was a little less than thrilled about the appearance of the robins and their nest. He's a little more nervous about it now because, as the title of this entry suggests, the nest is a little more crowded now.

They're here!

And babies make four...

There are at least two babies in the nest. You can see one of them in the above picture. I haven't been able to get a clear shot of the other. Joe and I have spent a little time watching the parents feed the babies which is equal parts adorable and really, really disgusting.

I feel a song coming on.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My New Favorite Blog and Other Things

So, I'm sitting here, watching the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family channel, getting misty-eyed whenever I see Fred or George Weasley and waiting to see more behind the scenes clips about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One to be released November 2010, Part Two in July 2011 (guess where I'll be spending my birthday next year)), and read from my new favorite blog, Mark Reads Twilight.

It's a blog written by a 25 year old man (well, 25 when he started writing it) who is reading and review each chapter of Stephenie Meyer's vampire love story series that's sadly been sweeping the nation. I'm not much of a fan. And yet, I've read the entire series not once, but twice and have seen the first two movies (at home...not in the theater, mind you). Mark isn't much of a fan either. He spends a lot of time lament the crapiness of the series in no uncertain terms. If you're easily offended by foul language, you should probably skip this site.

This is not to say that all he does is swear about this series because he doesn't. Yes, he mocks it and quite well, I might add, but he's also often quite serious about some of the fundamentally bothersome things about Bella Swan's supposed feminism and Edward Cullen's being a frakking stalker-ism. Because he is and you know it.

I'm almost finished reading his review of New Moon and seriously, I can't wait to read his review of Breaking Dawn because that was the book that disgusted me the most. And yet, I've read it twice.

I don't know what's wrong with me.

I also don't know what's wrong with people who are willing to read the Twilight series and won't give Harry Potter the time of day. I kind of find it insulting as a writer that there are people who are like that.

Vampires shouldn't sparkle.

'Nuff said.

Here's one of the trailers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Can I wait in line for it now?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picture Show

I promised you pictures of the yard transformation so here are some of the Before and After shots of the ordeal process.

The yard last November before the chainsaw massacre

The rest of the yard...see that building in amongst the trees? It's the 'garage' for which all this was done.

Post Chainsaw Massacre:

Just before we started Phase Two of the Project:

Nice garage, huh? The kicker is Marie STILL parks in the driveway.

Looking at our house from the street

And finally....the work begins:

Ooh! Can I have a turn?

Fill that actually was left over from the Monster Garage project that Marie was nice enough to say we could have for free for our own project.

I can see my house from here!

Me, in a hole, pre-fill

I think this means we're making progress...

Holy Hay, Batman!

The view from above
The rest of the new yard...I think we're gonna need a bigger hose.

So that's where we are now. The next step will be getting the grass to come in. Then comes THE FENCE and the planting of the new shrubberies (why am I suddenly thinking about The Knights Who Say Ni?) and bushes and whatnot. I really cannot wait. Hip, hip hooray! Three cheers for the field of hay!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yard Work

The yard work, it would appear, is now finished.

This is evidenced by the fact that my yard is now a vast sea of hay and the bulldozer has stopped obstructing my view.

There are pictures, of course, and I'll get around to posting those but the exciting part is that the job is finished and the dump truck used to deliver the umpteen loads of loam only created a rut deep enough to lose Max the Wonder Schnauzer in. The loam has been spread, everything's been limed and seeded and covered with hay.

And it's 90 degrees outside without even the smallest chance of rain.

Worst Week To Start Growing A Lawn Ever.

No one will ever accuse Joe or me of having good timing.

So now I am adding "irrigation system" to my vast and impressive resume because now it is my job to keep the newly seeded area moist because if it isn't moist, the seeds won't germinate and then I'll just have a yard full of hay. It took me a couple of hours to water the lawn-area this afternoon because the hoses we had were too short and the sprinklers too maddening. Joe and I made an emergency trip to the Work Bench (this is a very obscure television reference...super ultra mega bonus points for anyone who gets it) and bought a 100 foot hose and a couple of new sprinklers. Fast forward a few hours and I'm bound to return to the Work Bench tomorrow to get a couple more sprinklers.

So whose bright idea was it again to fill the yard with dirt and cover it with grass seed?

Oh...mine? Well then, carry on...

So yeah. I know I was irritated with the contractors before but I can't really complain about them now. All right, so maybe I'm a little less than thrilled by the dump truck ruts but the rest of the project seems to come out right. And the guys finally stopped trying to sell me on the view. They were all like, "Oh, you're going to have a view!" and "What a view you'll have!" It annoyed me because I didn't need to be sold on the view. I knew there was a mountain view. Did they really think I lived in this house for ten freaking years and never realized there were mountains in them dar hills? Whatever...because we are not focusing on that. We are focusing instead on the prospect of having a yard and grass and (Joe hopes) a riding lawn mower.

Unfortunately for Joe, we also kill lawn a lot and every single time we lay down grass seed, torrential rains follow and washes all the seed away. This time it'll probably be me and a hose that causes the seed to wash away or mold or whatever over saturated grass seed does.


So I hope everyone out there enjoyed their Independence Day weekend. Joe and Heather and I sat on the back deck and watched the town fireworks show. The dogs watched with us. The Gator Girl was freaked out but did really well with dealing with it...except for that one time when she tried to make a run for it right through the screen door. Big was bored. Really, really bored. He laid at my feet and sighed. A lot. All Big knew was that his usual Sunday routine (cheeseburgers from Burger King) had been interrupted for absolutely no good reason. Sorry, Big.

Anyway, I've got to run. I'm scheduled to perform a rain dance in a few minutes and I don't want to start late.

Happy July, one and all...

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Story Of An Hour, An Encore

I'm a little uncomfortable with encores but I've had a couple requests for this, so thanks to not entirely indifferent demand, please enjoy this retelling of The Story Of An Hour...

The day began as any other day. The Gator Girl sat poised on the floor, bedside, waiting for any sign of movement to take as an invitation to jump up on the bed and cuddle between her parents. The Big Brave German Shepherd lay dejected on his bed on the floor, lamenting the hard truth that he was just too damn big to get on the bed without the aid of a crane.

Slowly, The Man got out of bed. The Gator Girl followed him. He walked slowly across the room, dragging his feet in his search for clothing. The Gator Girl did not drag her feet. The Gator Girl has never dragged her feet in all her life. She pranced.

Taptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptaptap filled the air. The sound roused the Big Brave German Shepherd who immediately came in search of his mother. The Woman was not amused. The Woman had been up late trying to close out a draft of her synopsis project and had been hoping for a modicum more of sleep and so The Woman lay in bed, her eyes firmly closed in order to give the illusion of sleep. The Woman had learned long ago to fake it until she could make it.

The Man, having finally gathered his clothing, left the bedroom now in search of a shower. With his absence, the Gator Girl sprung back on the bed and nestled close to The Woman. The Big Brave German Shepherd lay back down as well, with a thud that shook the bed. Still, The Woman did not move.

She didn't even more when the bedroom door opened once more and The Man returned.

"Hey," The Man said.

The Woman chose to ignore him. The Gator Girl, who has never ignored anything in her whole entire life, leapt off the bed with joy. The Big Brave German Shepherd didn't move.

"Hey," The Man said again.

The Woman reluctantly turned her head to look at The Man.

"There's a mouse hanging off the shower curtain," he said.

The Woman had to think about this. She understood all the words individually but, placed together in a sentence the way The Man had done, they seemed to lack all comprehension.

"There's a what where?" she asked.

"There's a mouse hanging off the shower curtain," The Man said.

The Woman thought some more. Mouse. Hanging. Shower curtain. Huh.

"The cats are freaking out," The Man continued.

Mouse. Hanging. Shower curtain. Cats.

"You mean a real one?" The Woman asked, slowly coming out of the illusion of sleep.

"Yes, I mean a real one," The Man responded, his tone minutely questioning The Woman's intelligence. "Look, you can see it from here."

And with that, The Man opened the bedroom door. Both the Gator Girl and the Big Brave German Shepherd were prancing now, alight with the possibility of breakfast. The Man did not let them pass. The Woman lifted her head from her pillow and squinted into the bathroom.

The Woman was not wearing her glasses and was still slightly groggy from sleep, or the lack thereof, but, after a moment of squinting and focusing, she saw a dark shape at the top of the shower curtain. After a little more squinting and a little more focusing, she could see that it was, indeed, a mouse hanging off her shower curtain.

The Woman said a not nice word. The Woman actually said several not nice words.

The Woman sat up slightly and took in the sight. The mouse was clinging for his dear little life at the top of her shower curtain. The two cats were sitting on the floor, tails swishing and eyes riveted to their prey.

The Woman said more not nice words.

"What do we do?" The Man asked.

"What the hell do you mean 'we'?" The Woman said.

The Woman normally liked to think of herself as one of those hairy legged bra burning feminist types who needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle but the truth remained that she shaved her legs year round, actually appreciated a bra's support and was not about to deal with a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail.

No, The Woman was going to find herself a bubble and move into it, post haste.

"How am I going to take a shower?" The Man asked.

"Yeah," The Woman said.

She sat up fully now, accepting the fact that any hope of further sleep had dissipated upon the first uttering of the sentence 'There's a mouse hanging on the shower curtain.'"

"If only we had two and a half bathrooms in this house," The Woman continued. "Oh wait. We do."

"Yeah, but," The Man protested, "my shampoo's in there."

"I don't even know why you're worried about that," The Woman said. "You can't leave me with that thing in there."

"I kill the spiders," The Man said. "It's only fair that you kill the mice."

The Woman said several more not nice words.

"What if we got one of the buckets from the basement," The Man said.

"Again with the 'we'," The Woman said.

"And like knocked the mouse into it," The Man said. "Could he climb out?"

The Woman didn't respond. No, The Woman was too busy imagining the absolute horror of either standing there holding a bucket with which to catch a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail or knocking a big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail into a bucket.

"I hate nature," The Woman said.

The Woman actually liked nature. The Woman actually loved nature. She enjoyed spending time in the Great Outdoors. She did not, however, enjoy it when the Great Outdoors was hanging from the shower curtain in her bathroom.

"How am I going to get my shampoo?" The Man asked.

"There's shampoo in the other bathroom," The Woman said. "Just use that."

"Right," The Man said. "Hey, are you going out today?"

"How else am I going to buy a bubble in which to live?"

"Because I'm thinking we're going to need some mouse traps or poison or something."

"Very astute of you," The Woman said. "Can you, like, close the bathroom door for a moment so I can get the dogs downstairs without their interrupting the standoff?"

"Can you imagine the Gator Girl with a mouse?" The Man asked.

"Yes," The Woman said. "Yes, I can. Which is why, in the absence of any mouse removal solutions that don't involve me holding a bucket, I want you to close the bathroom door."

"The mouse can fit under a door."

"What is wrong with you?" The Woman asked. It was possibly that she had screeched this question but she would never admit it. "Just close the damn door!"

The Man closed the damn door and The Woman took the dogs downstairs. She prepared their breakfast. While she did so, the Gator Girl puked. Twice. Because the morning hadn't been awesome enough.

Meanwhile, The Man took his shower in the other bathroom using the other shampoo found there. He was still pondering solutions. They had pretty much decided upon letting the cats (one of which was so fat that some time spent chasing a rodent would be beneficial to its health) deal with the mouse but The Man decided to try and expedite the process.

"How long do you think the mouse can hold on?" The Man asked.

"Don't know," The Woman said. "Don't know how long he's already been there."

"Well, he's going to get hungry at some point," The Man said.

"Well, I think when faced with hunger or the two cats waiting to satisfy their own, I think the mouse just might choose hunger."

"Right," The Man said. "Hey, do you think I should put a ladder in there? Could they climb a ladder?"

The cats, in fact, could climb a ladder. The Woman found that one out one night when The Man had used the ladder to access the attic and while it was set up, one of the cats (Scaredy Cat) had also used it to access the attic. The ladder was then taken away, before Scaredy Cat could exit the attic, subsequently leaving Scaredy Cat stranded and crying for help. The Woman related this story to The Man but The Man did not appear to be listening.

No, The Man was scheming.

The Woman left him to his planning and took the Gator Girl outside. She then took the Big Brave German Shepherd outside. While she did so, The Man was busy fetching the step ladder and setting it up in the bathroom for the cats' use. The Fat Cat didn't seem to get it and Scaredy Cat just wasn't interested. The Woman got back inside in time to watch The Man attempt to teach Fat Cat to use the ladder.

The Woman would've sold her soul just then for a video camera.

"Hey," The Man said. "I've got to brush my teeth. Can you, like, watch my back while I do it and make sure the mouse doesn't jump on it?"

The Woman, again, didn't respond. Instead, she left the cats to watch The Man's back and went outside once more to clean up after the dogs. She paused when she heard the sounds of freaking out dogs and then decided she really didn't want to know. When she returned to the house, The Man was standing at the top of the stairs.

"Did you hear me scream?" The Man asked.

No. No, The Woman had not heard that. The Woman, against her better judgment, asked what happened.

"I put Fat Cat on the ladder," The Man said. "On the second step so it wouldn't be as easy for her to get down and she realized she was closer to the mouse and then, when she was climbing up to get him, he fell."

He fell. Oh joy.

"So he ran under the vanity," The Man continued.

Under the vanity. Oh joy.

"And Fat Cat went after him," The Man said, "and was battering him around some and he came out from underneath the vanity and Fat Cat swatted him around some more and now he's in the heater."

In the heater. Oh joy.

"And now Fat Cat has her head stuck under the heater," The Man said. "You should come see it. It's funny."

The Woman did go see it. The Fat Cat indeed had her head wedged under the heater, her tail still swishing madly. Scaredy Cat was nowhere to be found.

"He's got nowhere to go now," The Man said.

Satisfied at a job well done, The Man removed the ladder and went to work. The Woman went downstairs to check her email and possibly write a blog about the morning's events. In the middle of an email to a friend, The Woman heard a thud and the pitter patter of mammals on the move. She looked at the ceiling. The noise stopped. The Woman finished her email and went upstairs to investigate.

And by 'investigate', The Woman meant she was only going to stand at the top of the stairs and peek around the corner.

The bathroom was empty. There was no sign of Fat Cat nor her prey. The standoff had ended, leaving The Woman with an unsettled feeling that the big fat squirmy mouse and his little wormy tail had somehow managed to slip past Fat Cat and was now, once again, running free with his little mouse feet, within her walls.

"I hate nature," The Woman said again as she slowly made her way back downstairs.

The End