Short stories, poetry, haiku, expository and technical non-fiction. Report Cards and observations on writing. This began as my repository of exercises from the "What If?" self-help writers group at AOL. It has become more and less, since leaving AOL.
Wednesday, December 15
Depression is an insidious disease. I experience several different kinds of depression. I have a cyclical depression which runs in a seven year cycle, as well as hints of bipolar proclivities which fortunately don't usually run to intolerable extremes. I also have been clawing past the post-surgical depression suffered by most open-heart surgery survivors for the last three years (while the less fortunate ones who fail to survive may suffer depression, I can't prove it, you know) ... then there's seasonal affective disorder. AKA S.A.D. (an acronym I loathe) which occurs every year about this time to me and will be with me until May or June. Add the stress of writing a novel and some other personal crap and voila! -- we have lift off.
So, I sincerely apologize to you for my silence. It is how I cope. I can say the worst has probably passed by and I will begin posting in a more frequent manner, although no where near as often as before. Things just aren't that interesting right now.
Get out there and finish up your holiday preparations. Spend the time with your family, loved ones, coworkers and cohorts. It's all good -- even the nightmare family holiday meals have their own charm if you're half in the bag. Happy Chanukah, a joyous Kwanzaa, a marvelous winter solstice, my Wiccan sisters, and Merry Christmas to the Christians. May the season bring you joy and peace. Forget not the young men and women in Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Kosovo and wherever else they have been posted by the megalomaniacal hawks of this and the previous administrations. For many, it is their first time away from home. It is very cold and lonely where most of them are serving this year -- they deserve your warmest thoughts and prayers, even if, like me, you believe they have been sent on a fool's errand.
Thursday, November 11
I wasn't much better with Chapter 4. I had it half written by the time my wife got home from work yesterday. Wrote the other half today. So, averaging 2000 words a day, I'll just make the deadline with enough words. That's a consolation, but it means cracking my personal whip harder than I am prone to do to myself.
Characterization is starting to fill out. Still have a few more to introduce. I think I'm going to gloss over his time at Annapolis, other than to lay the foundation for his meteoric rise to Lieutenant Commander. There's the folks in the FBI office in Atlanta, and he's got another love interest or two waiting their turns in the spotlight, too. And oh, yeah. Just who is the bastard that put him in the box?
Anyway, that is where I'm at. On a technical note, I think I've fixed it so you can leave comments - I'd checked a box that shouldn't have been checked. Oops!
Toodles. Care packages with lots of chocolate would be appreciated...
Tuesday, November 9
And so it goes...
Thursday, November 4
So today I did another 2800+ words. Not real far behind the minimum output needed to reach the requisite 50K by the end of the month, but I can see where it will take a couple of marathon sessions to get back in the black. It was taking me about an hour to write 500 words today, what with having to stop and research dates I can't remember off the top of my head and other particulars. I did start a "bio file" for the characters as I needed to know minimum particulars about each of the ones introduced so far. I still need to mine the information that appeared in Chapter 1 before too much time has passed.
Aside from spelling checks and adding text where I think it needs fleshing out, I have managed to avoid the temptation to revise extensively. This is a really tough thing - I really want to revise stuff as I go along. But I can see from the relatively slow progress I made today that it isn't advisable.
Any feedback you'd care to leave is appreciated. On the basis of Barb's comment on the AOL Snoozelets, I fixed a broken picture image. Anyway, even if you aren't commenting, I hope you are reading. And I do appreciate it - I know just how valuable reading time is, without being asked to read schlock...
Wednesday, November 3
Nov. 2 addendum - Anyone else having problems posting to their blogger blogs via email? It used to work fine then all of a sudden in the past week - nada. In fact, I'd sent this report here via email and just got an auto-reply back saying it was, and I quote, "invalid content." It's just bloody text, for land's sake. So I'm posting it manually. Ugh!
I am in a purple funk over the election. I'll get back to writing in a day or two.
Sunday, October 31
I'm still debating whether it is better to have the Four Horsemen site be presented as a book with a "Table of Contents" on the homepage showing the various chapters completed (surprise -- there will be 30 chapters in all) with links to each chapter or to have short teasers on the homepage each day, with a link to the remainder of the chapter. What's your thought on the matter?
Anyway, the stomach is roiling, the muscles are tightening into knots. If I didn't know better I'd swear I was about to enter a schutzhund competition wearing just my undies with a beagle!
"Schuss, Snoopy ... Find it!"
Tuesday, October 26
November 1 - 30, 2004
Last week's entry didn't produce any takers or comments and I've seen no announcements in the whatif group members journals about pending novels, so I'll try again.
Are you familiar with the National Novel Writing Month Program? Basically, you spend the month of November, 2004, churning out about 1700 words a day -- that's 6 to 7 pages per day -- everyday, for a month. The goal is a novel with a minimum of 50,000 words on November 30, at midnight Humboldt Island Time (GMT -12). It means quantity is favored over quality. This isn't an exercise in speed-writing novels for publication. No time for rewrites. No laborious editing, either. Read all about here at the home page and then go register your intent to participate. It'll only take a few minutes.
Now, you could "take it up a notch," as Emeril Lagasse likes to say and join with the folks at Blogger and join together with the rest of the loonies, and turn it into National Novel Blogging Month. Blogger will give you a free blog site and you can go to town. Or, you could do it as a mirror of a site you already have at Live Journals or the AOL Hometown Journals community that you create specifically for the purpose. Actually, it would be a case of mirroring your Blogger site on LiveJournals or AOL, but they do have it all worked out for how to do it, if you so desire.
Visit the National Novel Blogging Month site (Part 1) for more info on the blogging aspect of this.
Wednesday, October 13
I hate restraints. Yes I do. I can work within the confines of limitations if I must, but arbitrary boundaries piss me off roundly. AOL has its reasons for limiting comments to 2000 characters. Andrea has only arbitrary limits in mind when limiting the characterization assignment to one comment. Grrrr. Here's the assignment below, with my response AND the paragraph I hated to cut restored to its rightful place.
Because I don't have a 2000 character limit. That's why. And it isn't character background, so rule #5 remains unsullied.
1. Post your response to this entry in the comments to the Assignment.
2. You only have 2000 characters (the imposed limit of a Journal comment).
3. You're only allowed ONE comment (no 2-parters, no indications that we have to see your Journal entry for the rest of the assignment).
4. You can post your assignment in your Journal also, but your entry must be posted in full here ... in the comments section.
5. Do NOT provide any character background (not even at your Journal).
6. Anyone can play; you don't have to be a What-Iffer.
7. You have until midnight on Monday, October 18, to post your character sketch.
Jake LaMott was in a quandary.
How does one transport six squirming sub-six year old angels dressed in toile, crinoline tutu's and toe shoes along with three nine year old devils done up in shoulder pads, jerseys and football helmets, muddy cleats slung over their shoulders? At the same time. To venues 3 miles across town from each other, with only 16 minutes of transport time and heavy traffic in both directions? In a Dodge Caravan and only a vague idea where he was going?
"Melissa, give Justin back his football. Jeremy, leave Katy's toe shoes be!" Chaos continued behind his head. A drill sergeant able to make grown men pee their pants with terror unable to control this bunch of sniffling little monsters. Humph!
Nothing in all of his six year stint in the Marines had ever approached the logistical nightmare which faced him now. Jake's ten years or so at Quantico, first as a student and lateras a Special Agentand lecturer in Criminalistics hadn't even come close to approximating this situation.
Why oh why did his mother-in-law have to break her back by riding down Malibu Canyon at 75 MPH on a bicycle?
Catching a glimpse in the rearview mirror of a raised skirt and bare bottom topped by fiery red curls, Jake barked out, "Shawna, sit down and put your leotard back on... Right Now!"
How does Donna cope with this five days a week? He could feel a migraine starting over his left eye. "Roger, put your hand back inside before someone sideswipes us and cuts it off."
"A least there's an ambulance nearby," he thought, as he slowed to let one enter traffic ahead of him. With lights and siren going, it disappeared ahead fairly quickly.
"Thank God," he murmured as the sign for "Madame Pompadour's Dance Studio" came into view. His relief was soon squashed when he realized the patient on the stretcher being loaded into the ambulance parked in front was none other than Madame Pompadour herself!
"Oh, there you are, Mr. LaMott. Do be a dear, and keep an eye on the girls for me. I seem to have broken my leg. The mothers should be coming by in an hour or so to pick up the little dears.
Update: Changed the font size so I could read it. Anyone else having problems with Blogger's editor changing the font size to small after viewing it via the "Preview" function?
Saturday, October 9
Saturday, August 7
I think Katie was in seventh or eight grade, so that would have been twenty years ago, give or take. It was a "Big Deal," this slumber party, and my wife and I had done our best to provide the support services requested then got the heck out of the way.
If memory hasn't failed me, I'd just finished chauffeuring the last of the participants when the Plectron went off, toning me out to a house fire on the other side of town. I was on call for the evening as the "white hat" so off I went in the old pickup, lights flashing and siren wailing. It was a tough fire, fully involved upon our arrival. The crew made a good stop, but damage was extensive. The only one home at the time was an elderly gentleman who'd been overcome with smoke and was rushed off to hospital. The crew was mopping up; I had already begun examining the scene for area of origin and cause of the fire. I pinned it down to an electric blanket feed wire that had been frayed by contact with a bedspring, allowing a bare section of wire contact with the wooden bed frame. Purely accidental.
It was late when I got home, well after midnight. I checked on the girls from the bottom of the stairs -- strangely, they were quiet and the light was out in their room. I took a quick shower and crawled up the stairs and into bed.
Saturday morning I came down the stairs groggily, in need of coffee and a cigarette. I was startled by a feather falling past my nose from the molding ledge around the stair well. Looking around, I noticed things I hadn't noted in my headlong rush to bed the night before. Feathers. Where feathers didn't belong. In the ceiling light. Drooping listlessly from the scanner antenna. Nestled between the apples in the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. In the trash bucket a new bag, nearly empty, where a nearly full one had awaited my return to take it out. Hmmmm...
Kindling split, stove fired up, tea pot whistling and the coffee ground and waiting in the drip basket for the water, I put the final touches on some waffle batter to go along with the oatmeal and fresh fruit I planned to feed the hungry hordes.
A trip out to the kennels to feed the pups with a detour to the trash barrels told the story. Inside, stuffed into a trash bag were the remains of a down pillow that came from my grandmother's home.
Deb came down the stairs, pulled up a stump and I gave her the first cuppa of the morning. Cleverly, I'd floated a small pin feather in her cup that I'd pulled out of the coffee grinder before dumping in the beans. She just glared at me. I went back to cooking waffles and let it fester awhile.
The girls trooped down the stairs and did whatever girls do in packs in the bathroom. I set out their breakfasts, gave a bellow to "Come and get it" and sat down to my second cuppa the morning.
Conversation was light, centered on things at school and Duran Duran. I let them finish, then as Katie started to rise, I let the hammer fall.
"Seems there must have been an accident last night," I started off. Quick darts of eyes, murmurs of "I told you."
"It was an accident" offered my wife, coming to the girls' rescue. "I tore a pillow while fluffing it."
Stung, it was my turn to glare. "You tore a pillow? Not bloody likely. Somebody had a pillow fight and ruined one of Grandma's pillows!"
Seven pairs of eyes started to well with tears. I'm not proud of what I did that morning. I lost it. Over a stupid pillow. I bellowed. I cursed. I made a fool of myself. I hurt the feelings of my stepdaughter and her chums. I angered my wife. Oh, I stepped in it but good. I raged, I ranted. I stomped off and had my third cup of coffee in the garage, cleaned up the bench, castigated myself for my stupidity. I hid out, waiting for the feathers to clear.
After a while, Katie came and got me, she had something to show me. I came along with her, reluctant to face them all, knowing I had a lot of apologizing to do.
I'd been a fool. I over reacted and I shouldn't have. I didn't intend to get so angry, it was just the culmination of a long week and too little sleep. I groveled and begged the forgiveness of these eight ladies occupying my home and my life, if only for a moment.
They were gracious to a fault. The house was spotless. Nary a feather to be seen. All was forgiven, "would you make some scones and could we have some marmalade, please?"
As I finished taking the last of the scones off the griddle top on the wood stove, Deb poured me a cup of coffee and added a shot of bourbon, with a feather on top.
Gales of giggles and laughter cascaded over all as they regaled me with the tales of their great pillow fight of the night before.
Life was good then.
Your comments & critique are welcomed.
Friday, June 25
No, really it was. Dew point was somewhere around 76, so you know the fog was thick as thick can be. Earlier there had been thunderstorms, lightening shredding the sky, hail the size of golf balls, gully-washing torrents that had left it feeling more like the barrier islands of f Savannah than Saint John, New Brunswick. You could see the neighbor’s yard light next door, but similar lights across the street were obscured.
Fog does funny things to sound.
Things that you know are miles away, like the clock chime on town hall, sound like they are just down the road. Waves washing over ledges gurgle and snap as though they were in the back yard, not on the other side of the spit of land called “The Point” by the natives and “John Brown’s Landing” by the tourists. The wail of the siren sounded miles away and seemed to be fading now as the ambulance made it’s way over the causeway and on to the main road to the city.
Chief Constable Eric Sloan sighed and turned to go back in to the house. “Fucking drunks,” he said under his breath, as he climbed the rotting wooden stoop to the one story bungalow. Standing in his way at the door, gasping for a bit of fresh air, I coughed the stench of decay out of my lungs and asked Eric for his jar of Vicks™ Vapo-Rub.
“Left mine at home,” I said, my voice echoing hollowly in the fog. “I’d been asleep for hours when the call came in,” I added, trying desperately to cover my ass.
I’d been no where near home when the call came in. I’d warmed a barstool at Mulligan’s until closing, chatting up R.C.M.P.Constable Barnstable in a vain attempt at getting into her pants. Again. And Eric knew it and I knew that Eric knew and felt just as foolish as I appeared in the dark reflections in his eyes.
Sunday, March 28
What was this eBayer thinking when s/he composed this ad to sell an undersized Tilley hat? Certainly is evident it wasn't math, unless the scrambled eggs I had for breakfast were really my brain cells (Mad Wil Disease, anyone?)
"This hat is mis-marked as a 7 5/8, but is really smaller, more like a 7 3/4 or 1/2."
That's OK. Take two aspirin and call your fifth grade teacher in the morning.
Friday, March 26
Friday, March 19
1. ...owned a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?
Surf and turf is my kind of joint. Good aged beef, thick chops, fresh Maine Lobster, Louisiana crawfish, strong drinks at the bar, fresh veggies and really good breads, especially sourdough bread, baked daily on the premises. For those crazies who just have to have dessert (you know who you are) there's be three kinds of cheesecake and a flaming something or other. Not a big joint, either. Something along the lines of 40 seats with another half dozen at the bar. There's be music on Saturday nights -- a cappella or a guitarist ... low key, soothing. No dancing or raucous behavior ... just the neighborhood steak joint. Done right, they're a dying breed -- you can't make enough money to stay afloat. Alas and alack.
2. ...owned a small store, what kind of merchandise would you sell?
I always fancied myself as the owner of a "head shop" but that is and was a problem -- I'm death on drug use -- so another venture died aborning.
3. ...wrote a book, what genre would it be?
Science fiction, of course. There's no finer genre to write for the reader. Sadly, except for a handful of "big names" it doesn't pay worth doodley squat. My stuff never made it out of the slush pile, anyway.
4. ...ran a school, what would you teach?
Obedience, baby! <
5. ...recorded an album, what kind of music would be on it?
New Age piano riffs, with some 12 string guitar and Moog synthesizer thrown in for good measure. I think Terry Riley already did it back in the 80's though .....
A whole lotta ifs this week. I suppose next week will be ands followed by butts the Friday after that? :D
Y'all have a good weekend. Dodging snowflakes is again the weekend forecast hereabouts -- I do hope they've blown the forecast once again. BTW, anyone know where I can find a class in remedial calendar reading? The Flower Show and Outdoor Show are both THIS weekend. Grrrrr.
Thursday, March 18
Phew! That was close! The bloody snow storm, that's what. The evil forecaster dancing in front of his blue screen with his, "...and here, in the Greater Bangor area, they will see a foot to eighteen inches of snow ....." while grinning evilly for the camera.
Well, let me tell you, I was shaking in me boots, me hearties. Injuns on the left and militia on the right and nothing but my toothpick! Oops, wrong story. That'll keep until next year's National Pirates Day.
Anyway, the evil troll behind the barometer missed all of the signs -- the storm tracked farther to the South - out to sea and missed me entirely! By how much? Deer Isle -Stonington got nine inches of snow and that's only 35 miles away on the coast, while we barely got a dusting which melted off in the afternoon when the sun came out!
As I said, that was close!
Sunday, March 14
This little gem came across the email desk today and I find it cute and/or clever enough to be shared. You'll need a flash player plug-in installed to view the animation, which you can obtain from the Macromedia Shockwave site if you don't already have it (it's included with the AOL software).
Friday, March 12
Billy Joel's "Storm Front"
2. What were the last two movies you saw?
In a theater it was "Babe In The City" and "Horse Whisperer". DVD's would be "Freaky Friday" and "Snow Dogs". On TV, it'd be "Showtime" and "Mrs. Doubtfire". As you can tell, I am easily amused. LOL.
3. What were the last three things you purchased?
A deck bag for my kayak, some filters for our camera and a camera bag.
4. What four things do you need to do this weekend?
Big weekend planned. Going to take in the flower show, take a walk through the spring sportsman's show and change a battery in my car, on top of the usual, must-do chores like laundry and cooking.
5. Who are the last five people you talked to?
Doctors and nurses at the hospital. My life isn't terribly exciting nor varied, day to day. Sedate would be one adjective. Boring comes to mind, but then that thought is gone, much like all others. Short term memory loss is both a blessing and a curse.
Have a great weekend! Enjoy the nice weather if you're south of the Mason-Dixon line. If you or your family find yourselves in harm's way from a tornado or micro-bursts or supercell storms you are in my thoughts as the spring storm season starts to ramp up. Give a thought to this old pooch ... we are expecting a couple inches of snow and ice, and SWMBO has alerted me to the fact that, my bad heart, bad back, or unfirm body not withstanding, there's no way in hell she is going to shovel, so I might as well get used to it right now. I've ordered enough boards from the sawmill for my casket. Here's hoping I get it finished before I'm finished, if you know what I mean! j/k
Monday, March 8
INSTRUCTIONS FOR GIVING YOUR CAT A PILL
- Pick cat up and cradle it in the crook of your left arm as if holding a baby. Position right forefinger and thumb on either side of cat's mouth and gently apply pressure to cheeks while holding pill in right hand. As cat opens mouth, pop pill into mouth. Allow cat to close mouth and swallow.
- Retrieve pill from floor and cat from behind sofa. Cradle cat in left arm, repeat process.
- Retrieve cat from bedroom, and throw soggy pill away. Take new pill from foil wrap, cradle cat in left arm holding rear paws tightly with left hand. Force jaws open and push pill to back of mouth with right forefinger. Hold mouth shut for a count of 10.
- Retrieve pill from goldfish bowl and cat from top of wardrobe. Call spouse from garden.
- Kneel on floor with cat wedged firmly between knees, holding front and rear paws. Ignore low growls emitted by cat. Get spouse to hold cat's head firmly with one hand while forcing wooden ruler into mouth. Drop pill down ruler and rub cat's throat vigorously.
- Retrieve cat from curtain rail; get another pill from foil wrap. Make note to buy new ruler and repair curtains. Carefully sweep shattered figurines from hearth and set to one side for gluing later.
- Wrap cat in large towel and get spouse to lie on cat with its head just visible from below spouse's armpit. Put pill in end of drinking straw, force cat's mouth open with pencil, and blow down drinking straw. Check label to make sure pill not harmful to humans, drink glass of water to take taste away. Apply band-aid to spouse's forearm and remove blood from carpet with cold water and soap.
- Retrieve cat from neighbor's shed. Get another pill. Place cat in cupboard and close door onto neck to leave head showing. Force mouth open with dessertspoon. Flick pill down throat with elastic band.
- Fetch screwdriver from garage and put door back on hinges. Apply cold compress to cheek and check records for date of last tetanus shot. Throw T-shirt away and fetch new one from bedroom.
- Ring fire brigade to retrieve cat from tree across the road. Apologize to neighbor who crashed into fence while swerving to avoid cat. Take last pill from foil wrap.
- Tie cat's front paws to rear paws with garden twine and bind tightly to leg of dining table. Find heavy-duty pruning gloves from shed. Force cat's mouth open with small spanner. Push pill into mouth followed by large piece of fillet steak. Hold head vertically and pour 1/2 pint of water down throat to wash pill down.
- Get spouse to drive you to emergency room; sit quietly while doctor stitches fingers and forearm and removes pill remnants from right eye. Stop by furniture shop on way home to order new table. Arrange for vet to make a house call.
Written by olddog299 . Link to this entry | Blog about this entry | Notify AOL
Friday, March 5
Almost time. Time to get your weekly dose of dees and does. I refer to the premiere of the fifth season of The Sopranos this Sunday evening 9PM e/p.
In honor of the august occasion, I offer you your very own Mob Name. Actually, Rick Melfi, the shrink's son, did it as a school science project in the eighth grade. No, really! No, no need to thank me. Fuhgedaboudit!
Old "Abalone Toweler" Dawg¹
P.S. Don't miss the complete reprise of the third season of Six Feet Under. The first episode will be at 8 PM e/p, just before The Sopranos. Six Feet Under is televison's best series - bar none. I wish others put as much effort into making good television.
¹ Nope, I haven't a clue as to what it means either. It's cool though, in a kind of kinky, erotic way, donjathink? Then again, I've always had a mental connection between food <-> sex.
1. ...your first grade teacher's name?
Mrs. Paulhemous and it was Rocky Ridge School, a one room, two grade schoolhouse with bathrooms which only worked in warm weather, else you used the outhouses outside. Mostly I remember singing and a cute little blonde girl named Cookie Biggs. I've been a sucker for blondes since the womb, but Cookie had "IT".
2. ...your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
Mighty Mouse and Woody Woodpecker
3. ...the name of your very first best friend?
Tommy Carroll. Sadly, he died under an overturned tractor leaving a very young widow with two toddlers.
4. ...your favorite breakfast cereal?
Oatmeal. Was then and still is... although I now add raisins for sweetness instead of molasses. )*&^&% doctors!
5. ...your favorite thing to do after school?
We played "fort". One day it might be Injuns. Another it was Cowboys fighting range wars. The Blue and Gray (Civil War) always invoked fisticuffs as no one wanted to be "Johnny Reb". Varieties of modern warfare crept in, too. WW I, WW II, Korea ... we fought them all. Even did a Scottish highlands after my father told us about Mary, Queen of Scots, Rob Roy and all things Scottish. We even did an Irish uprising once, over famine after my Mother told us about the Potatoe Famine and the diaspora resultant therefrom. But, no matter what we called it, it was ALWAYS "fort"!
Tuesday, February 24
As the old duffer, Fred Nutter, is so fond of saying after his editorials on the local NBC affiliate:
"That's our opinion. We welcome yours."
Written by olddog299 . Link to this entry | Blog about this entry | Notify AOL
Comment from olddog299 - 3/5/04 11:05 AM
Comment from olddog299 - 3/3/04 9:26 AM
Comment from rbushu - 2/26/04 8:10 PM
- Well past (by at least a decade) the half century mark. One foot in the grave, the other on a banana peel at the rim of the abyss and the view from here is disconcerting. I am a former student, pearl diver, cook, truck driver, firefighter, EMT, CEO, Town Fire Warden, mechanic, oiler, marine engineer and computer whiz bang. Mostly I sleep these days in an aluminum tube. And So It Goes... I waste my time reading blogs and kvetching about the weather, playing with our Schipperke sidekick, Ignatz McGraw and waiting hand by foot upon my wife, the Queen of our Hovel, She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO).
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