Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Bonus Post - Day 31

This was Halloween 1972 for Mike and I. I'm pretty sure he was a clown. I think I was an old lady ... with a lot of junk in the trunk. You can't get more homemade costumes than these. I'm sure we got scads of candy. We never went door to door because for one we lived in the country. There is no door to door in the country. Secondly, someone might put a razor blade in your apple. Of course what self respecting trick or treater would EAT an apple when there's an entire pumpkin full of candy to eat. None that's who. No Halloween apple ever passed these lips.

My folks took us around to the same family rotation that we did for Christmas. All the grandparents. In 1972 we would have had both sets of grandparents living, and four sets of great grand parents still alive. Lowers, Hoods, Rices, Cacy's. That's a lot of candy my friend.

Tonight Bryon had to work late so I took Grace to the Marshfield Square after school, then to Trunk or Treat at two local churches, the Orchelin parking lot and finally Gary's apartment complex. It was quite a haul. I told her she could eat all she wanted tonight then to pick out one small zip lock full to keep and we would disseminate the rest between our workplaces and where ever else we could find to dump it.

If she kept it all, we would have candy until next Halloween and I'd have about the same amount of junk in my trunk as that 1972 costume. Not cool.

So now it's upstairs to watch some grownup Halloween television then off to bed.

Bring it on Thanksgiving.

The Completion of a Task, Scary! - Day 31 of 31 Days of Blogging

Wow, I can't believe I made it 31 days in a row of blogging. Sure, a couple of days were lame, but hey, it's done and the pressure is off. Of course, just last night I was thinking, hmmmm, what else could I do for a month as another little challenge (or big challenge).

Of course I thought writing, but I'm going to try to do that anyway. Then I thought exercising. That would probably have a real and visible payoff. I'm not sure if I could manage both. In the same month.

I read a book called Sleeping Naked is Green by Vanessa Farquharson last year. She found a new way to be green and save the planet each day for 356 days. It was a cumulative challenge. The green tasks added up quickly and nearly drove her nuts ... plus she blogged about them each day at Greenasathistle . Then she turned them into a book. She's obviously insane. That's way too many balls to juggle.

I feel like all of my tasks are already in a giant Bingo tumbler and being spewed forth at the speed of a World Series pitch. I'm not sure if setting a new challenge would be beneficial or self punishment. Maybe both.

I guess I'm going to have to decide before tomorrow if I'm going to start a new challenge.

Decisions, decisions...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Check - Day 30 of 31 Days of Blogging

We got a lot accomplished today in a short time.

See, just making that list yesterday was enough to inspire us to mark some of those things off.

  • Pull up the rest of the garden plants and burn them 
  • Prune back the dead mums and compost them
  • Clean up the yard
  • Order a load of top soil 
  • Clean out the flower bed
  • Fill the bird feeders
  • Clean out the humming bird feeders  
  • Finish staining the house
  • Clean up all of the staining stuff
  • Clean out the garage
  • Take the weird non-recyclables to the dump
Plus Bryon bought a crazy new tripod tree stand and he picked it up and got it set out at his food plot.  I also took the bunny divider back out so they could have the whole cage. All I can say is those handicapped bunnies had sure better turn out to be boys like the vet said.

We put the new freezer in the garage and now that it's out of the mud room there is so much more space. It's awesome. Luxuriously clean and roomy now. I love having an empty space.

My friend Leslie is so organized she had an entire drawer in her kitchen empty the last time I was there. That's what I want. More empty spaces.

Sometimes that's easier said than done, but it's something to aspire to.

This site might be a good way to spend 31 days ... 31 Days to an Organized Home .

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Noted - Day 29 of 31 Days of Blogging

This is what the dash of my car looks like most of the time. If it's not on a sticky note, it doesn't happen. I pretty much have to capture the thought so I can transfer it to my calendar or to do list or it just flies away.

Of course I have no idea how fast I'm going or how much gas I have, but I know what I need to do.

I have a lot of lists. Work lists, home lists, grocery lists, long term things to do lists. Once it's on a note, I don't have to worry about it until I'm ready to act on it. My phone is full of lists too ... about 50 of them. Sometimes I combine my lists to neaten things up. It also makes it very satisfying to mark things off.

I need to have a winter list already but I'm behind. I should start it now. It needs to include:

  • Pull up the rest of the garden plants and burn them 
  • Prune back the dead mums and compost them
  • Clean up the yard
  • Order a load of top soil 
  • Clean out the flower bed
  • Fill the bird feeders
  • Clean out the humming bird feeders  
  • Finish staining the house
  • Clean up all of the staining stuff
  • Clean out the garage
  • Take the weird non-recyclables to the dump

See how easy it is to get a list going.

Soon it will be time to start making a spring list too.

Then there are book lists. I have several of those. My paranormal library list, books to read list, Dawn's books to search for list, books I've read list, books for Bryon to read list. It really never ends. There's a list for every topic.

 If you like making lists, capturing and organizing information as much as I do, then you might dig Evernote . You can get it on your iPhone and your computer and it syncs up. It's awesome.

Of course none of THESE things in these pictures are in Evernote. I need lots of different ways to collect and organize. One size definitely does not fit all.

I'll bet Art Fry had lots of things floating around in his head too because he's credited with inventing the Post-it_note . Boy am I glad. Otherwise, my life would be a big mess.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Storytelling - Day 28 of 31 Days of Blogging

I am not a good oral storyteller. I am a much better written storyteller. Relating a story to someone orally is a lot more difficult than writing it down for me. Bryon is a much better oral storyteller. He can take the slightest event and turn it into a twenty minute detailed narrative. He's especially good at relaying hunting stories.

He would have been an extremely valuable member of society back in the days before writing when oral tradition was the only way histories, laws, folk tales and literature were relayed. Think The Illiad or The Odyssey but much shorter . He's such a Homer.

He can spin a yarn or tell a story in a way that's both engrossing and interesting. Of course, sometimes he uses his power for evil and not good and tricks me with elaborate fairy tales and when I finally ask, "Really??? You're kidding!"

He says, "Yeah, I'm kidding."Aaaarrrrrgggg!

He used to get me all the time that way.

I'm still not immune to his ruses but I do still like to hear his stories. He fishes me in every time. And trust me, in the past 25 years, he's had a LOT of stories.

 I'm a much better written storyteller. I have to see the words appear before me and then rearrange them like puzzle pieces until they are just right. When I TELL a story, I don't have that luxury and under pressure, the story loses it's cohesion and impact. Sometimes I hear myself talking when I'm trying to tell a story and think, what the hell am I even saying? This story makes no sense.

It makes perfect sense in my brain. Somehow it between my brain and my mouth it loses it's potency.

The great thing about writing is that until the very last minute you can edit it, rearrange it and dress it up in different clothes until it's just right. Then, if you still aren't happy with it, there's always the rewrite.

I haven't worked on my novel much this past few weeks because I know that is what the next step is: the rewrite. I have ideas for at least two more books so I can make it a trilogy. Trilogies are very hot right now. But I can't do that in the first person, which is the point of view I've used for the first 50,000 words.

The good news is that when I do finally sit down to rewrite, it should blow up as I am able to expand the vision of the characters and flesh them out more making it pretty easy to reach my 75,000 word target. The bad news is that it's going to take some extensive time and uninterrupted concentration to do it.

I had really considered trying to participate in NaNoWriMo in November where you write a novel of 50,000 words in 30 days but I think I will be better served to concentrate on working on the one I already have in progress than starting another one. So I'm punting NaNoWriMo and hope to work on the rewrite instead.

Maybe if I can spend the next 30 days working on the rewrite, I'll have a brand spanking baby New Year book by 2012.

Write on.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

You like me. You really like me. - Day 27 of 31 Days of Blogging

Today, my blog hit a big milestone. Today, I exceeded 7,000 all time page hits since I started on June 7, 2007. The exact total as of this minute is 7,016 page views. I think that is pretty awesome. This post is number 438 and in the past 30 days I've had 600 page views. I guess more blogging equals more readers.

Thank you for reading my ramblings.

I can't really ever tell specifically who is reading unless someone comments or likes it on Facebook. I just know there have been page views. So if you DO read it, I'd like to know. I know that's a little needy but hey, it's nice to know once in a while YOU are out there. It's easy to comment. Just click where it says "comments" below and you can post your comment. Even if it's just an "I read you" that would be cool. You can post as "anonymous" of tell me who you are. I'd like to know.

Or if you are reading this on Facebook and just want to "Like" it that's cool too. You don't have to do it every post (unless you want to) but if you are EVER going to comment, please do it for this post. Then I won't bug you about it again. Promise.

Sometimes it's like my blog is a Voyager Golden Record, sent out into cyberspace to say HELLO in every earthly language just in case there is intelligent life out there. One interesting stat that Blogger provides is AUDIENCE. It doesn't give any specific information but tells what country the page views come from. Here is where my readers have been reading from since 2007.

Can you believe that? Twenty nine people in Iran have read my blog? That sure makes the world seem smaller to me. I haven't been anywhere to have my passport stamped, but my words, pages and my family has ... through this blog.

Another cool statistic is how many page views each post gets. And no, it doesn't count MY page views so I can't stack the ballot box and vote for myself. Here are the most viewed posts of all time. If you want to read any of them just use the search box at the top right of the blog and put in the title, it should pop right up.

Who knew that post about Grace saving money for her slug bug would have so many hits!

My mom is staying tonight and the next few days. Of course she reads the blog a lot. She asked if I was going to keep blogging every day after my 31 days are up. She gets up every morning and reads it like some people read the New York Times. My blog is cheaper though.

I told her I don't know. Blogging every day is hard work. Bryon would say I never run out of things to say, but seriously it takes an effort to come up with something blog worthy every day. When I was dating I used to wonder what in the world married people talked about. After a while you would think there just wouldn't be anything else to say. But of course there is. Maybe that's true with blogging too. Every day is a winding road that leads to somewhere right?

I guess I'll just work on documenting the journey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shiner - Day 26 of 31 Days of Blogging

Not sure if this is her Zoolander pose or what but notice the little red blip on beside her nose. Bryon, his dad and Grace were shooting guns when I got home yesterday. Bryon bought Grace a gun when she was still in my belly. She's finally big enough to shoot it.

It has interchangeable barrels and can be a .22, a 243 and a 20 gauge. He's wanting to take her deer hunting next weekend and she's up for it too. I'm just going to have to buy a lot more snacks for her to take before then.

He bought a special new sight for her gun, sighted it all in and then lined her up on the gun bench to shoot it. She aimed and pulled the trigger before he could remind her to get it snugged up against her shoulder and it kicked back and bonked her in the cheek.

Welcome to the world of recoil my friend.

She didn't want to shoot anymore after that. He's hoping she won't be gun shy now and plans to get her back on the horse that smacked her soon. We put an ice pack on it and thankfully it didn't turn into a black eye.

Once in high school, I went shooting down at the river with Bryon. He had several guns. I liked shooting them. Mostly I liked impressing Bryon. He gave me one giant gun that weighed about 30 pounds and told me to pull both triggers when I shot it. Yeah, it was a double barrel shotgun, which I didn't figure out until I pulled both triggers. It knocked me back into the tree. I only shot that one once.

I still like shooting and I think Grace will too.

Next time I'll bet she remembers to snug it up

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creeping Up On Halloween - Day 25 of 31 Days of Blogging

Bryon and Grace carved a jack o' lantern tonight. Grace drew on the face and Bryon carved it out. I did have two eyeballs but one got poked out. Just made it even better I think. They are good pumpkin carvers.

I think it turned out pretty good. I love the teeth.

I also had to make a creepy concoction for the church fellowship Halloween dinner tomorrow night so I found this idea for Tapeworm Sandwiches .

They were super easy to make. Here's my tray full ready to go...

Gotta love hotdogs and ketchup. Mmmmmmmmmmm.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Honey - Day 24 of 31 Days of Blogging

Short post today.

I wanted to show you the honey I got this year from my bees. I did absolutely nothing for them this year. They were completely and utterly unmedicated and unmolested. I did feed them some sugar water when I remembered to in the spring but that was it.

I plan to hoard this honey because I don't know when I'll get more. I eeked two more little jars after I let it strain for a few more days. I ended up with 240 ounces of honey. Almost two gallons from one super. I bought a 46 oz jar of honey at the feed store in the spring for $10. If I'm doing my math right that would be 22 cents an ounce so that means I have $52.80 worth of honey here on my counter. I paid $90 for the bees last year.

I'm pretty sure I'm losing money on this adventure.

But it sure is sweet.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Grace Turns Seven - Day 23 of 31 Days of Blogging

Today was Grace's seventh birthday. We didn't have a big party this year, her request, but she did have two friends over Friday night for a sleepover. Bryon had to work all weekend so next weekend we are going to go eat out somewhere fancy, also her request.

Bryon redecorated her room for her last month as his birthday present to her and I bought her some books, some new house slippers and a jewelry organizer for her ever growing collection. She and I went to church this morning. We would have skipped. Would have LOVED to sleep in but with Belle, it is no longer an option. We were up, so we went.

After church we went to Freda's Uptown Cafe, our favorite place to eat in Marshfield for breakfast and lunch and the waitresses sang to her and brought her a gigantic bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and strawberries on it.

We came home and hung out for a while then headed back to town for our church's Fall Festival. Grace dressed up like a country singing diva complete with her pink cowgirl boots.

It's good to be seven.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lab Tails & Landmines - Day 22 of 31 Days of Blogging

The front lawn is no longer safe to tread upon. It's full of puppy landmines. Gosh, it was so clean. Okay, maybe not. It was also full of chicken landmines. There is a lot of poop on a farm. Grace fell down while she was playing with Grace and came up with a hand covered in dog poop. She was understandably disgusted.

Briar and Daisy used to go to the edges of the woods to do their business. Briar especially liked to poop on tall things, like grass, stumps etc. Sort of like a coyote marking his range. Hopefully Belle will get with that program soon. Either that or we need a weekly drenching rain storm to clean up the lawn.

She's doing pretty well so far. She's had a few accidents but goes to the door to be let out pretty regularly too so she's catching on. Her schedule is eat, play, sleep, wake, bathroom, repeat. Also, there's no more sleeping in on the weekends. She's up at 6 am every morning. You can ignore her but it's to your peril. Bodily functions will be spilled.

It's like having a new baby that you can leave in the kennel when you want to go somewhere so it's both better and worse. Good thing she's ridiculously cute.

She's still about seven pounds. Grace was six pounds when she was born. We gave her a bath in the kitchen sink. The dog that is. We gave Grace her first bath in the bathroom sink. It won't be long before her baths have to be in the garden tub and her tail is smacking the magazines off the end tables. Labs have incredibly strong tails.

Briar and Daisy were both indoor/outdoor dogs. Almost completely outdoor by the time we moved out here to the farm. When we lived in the A frame house north of Springfield, they were mostly indoor dogs. Our king sized waterbed was in the basement bedroom and there was just about a two foot walking space on each side of the bed.

When we moved out, we realized there was a tail height indention on each side of the bed all the way down the wall from their exuberant tail wagging. Labs are also very happy dogs.

So far there's no shedding but I know that day is coming. The downstairs vacuum died today while I was cleaning. I may have to invest in a super sonic vacuum in advance of the impending storm of dog hair.

Again, good thing she's cute. And has that sweet puppy breath ... when she's not eating chicken poop.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Trouble With A Capital T - Day 21 of 31 Days of Blogging

It's slumber party night so I gotta write fast before something gets set on fire, or the dog poops on the floor or some other catastrophe. So far, though, so good. The girls arrived on the bus and have been going strong. Bryon should be home any moment to join in the fun.

Don't they look like Charlie's Angels? More like Richard's Devils I'd say.

They finally got their mess cleaned up enough to sleep in her room. Jammies on and teeth about to be brushed.

Here's hoping they all make it through the night.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where's the Beef? - Day 20 of 31 Days of Blogging

We're buying quarter of a beef from our neighbor. We don't eat much beef anymore but when we so it's steaks or burger. The burger I've been buying is grass fed and is from Rockin H because I can't stand to smell the stuff from Wal-Mart or the grocery store cooking. Mostly whatever meal I would put burger in, I put sausage or deer burger that we had seasoned as breakfast sausage in instead.

We've been wanting to raise our own beef. It's the only meat we aren't raising yet, but it's going to require a massive expenditure and a whole lot of work for fencing. Only one side of our property is fenced and it's a shared fence. So when our neighbor had a beef to butcher, we jumped on it.

Of course now we need another freezer because ours is full of chicken, deer, pork and other veggies and fruits. It's always something. One expenditure leads to another. We just keep having to tell ourselves it's cheaper than fencing though and better for us than CAFO beef. We know this calf has been grazing next door and not in a feedlot in Kansas.

So where's the beef now? The beef is hanging at the locker plant now so it won't be much longer and the beef will be in our new freezer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sleepover Party Prep - Day 19 of 31 Days of Blogging

Tonight Grace and I made strawberry cupcakes with chocolate icing in advance of her sleepover party this Friday night. Grace's birthday is Sunday and she'll turn seven. She decided, all on her own, that she didn't want a big blowout birthday party like we have done for her every year so far. She said it's fun but too hard to play with the kids.

She just wants to eat out and I suggested a small sleepover to which she readily agreed. Friday night two of her girlfriends from class are riding the bus to our house and spending the night. This will be Grace's fourth sleepover at our house. She has gotten to go to a sleepover at another friend's house once.

We have already planned to make biscuit pizzas with pepperonis, Canadian bacon, pineapple and hotdogs. My Mom used to make these for us a long time ago and I still like them. I bought them the little individual boxes of cereal for Saturday morning and Grace has already established an agreement that they can eat all the cupcakes they want while they are here.

She's set the ground rules and planned their events.

Bryon has to work all weekend so he won't be home until nearly 8 pm and will be up and out early Saturday morning but I'm sure he'll get his share of abuse from three little first grade girls. I'm digging my ear plugs out now ... the screaming will be intense.

The last sleepover she had two of the girls ended up sleeping in the floor on our bedroom and two in Grace's room. No telling where the three of them will end up. I don't think either one of them have sleptover before. So far we are 100% for girlfriends making it through the night. We'll see if we can keep our streak going. Luckily, one girl lives just next door and the other in Niangua five minutes away.

Hopefully we won't have to make that call.

Wish me luck ... and patience.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Heat Is On - Day 18 of 31 Days of Blogging

I got to come home to a toasty fire burning in the pellet stove this evening. After a long day out in the cold and damp it was very nice. Bryon was off today and went to town to get two tons of pellets. This is the first fire of the year.

Our pellet stove really keeps the downstairs toasty and comfortable and watching the flames is an added bonus. Winter used to be my favorite season until THE ice storm that knocked out power our for 12 days. That was a game changer for me. The first couple of days it was an adventure. After that, I just got pissy.

Now I guess fall is my favorite time of the year if I had to pick. Of course ask my by spring and I'll have a different answer. Mostly I'm just a fair weather Goldilocks. Not too hot and not too cold. I like it just right.

I can't wait until all the leaves are gone and you can see through the woods again. I like that. We've really been walking the trails Bryon made through our woods a lot in an effort to get Belle some exercise. We're all benefiting from that. Bryon took Belle around on his errands with him all day and she got to play outside a lot too so now she's curled up in her crate in the laundry room taking a nap.

I took the door off the crate and she's been using it a lot more the past few nights. She's had a few accidents in the house but not nearly as bad as Ruger did and she's already started going to the door when she needs out. She's a smart dog.

Bryon wanted to go hunting tonight and I wasn't going to be home in time to stay with Grace so he took her with him. He took her one night last week and she called in some turkeys all by herself. He was pretty proud of her. They couldn't get a shot because the turkeys came in on the left and he couldn't get turned around Grace to shoot. She did great that night.

He took her another night and she wimped out pretty quickly. Tonight she lasted until the food ran out. He took two granola bars, two boxes of Yogos, an apple, a whole sack of sunflower seeds and a bottle of water. As soon as the snacks were gone, she wanted to come home. She does that at every "event" we or the grandparents take her to. It doesn't matter how cool the event is; the circus, the rodeo, a ball game ... she's all about the snackage.

She came home the other night with lots of hunting souvenirs including turkey feathers, rocks,and walnuts. Bryon is much more patient with her than I am. He makes fun games for her to play and weaves grass bracelets and jewelry for her. They get to enjoy some time in the woods and I get some peace and quiet in the house. It's a win win situation and eventually they'll bring home some dinner too.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Team Sports - Day 17 of 31 Days of Blogging

I am not competitive. Except with Bryon. I really like to beat him. Unfortunately, it rarely happens. If you remember, I am a former English teacher. Do not proofread my posts and correct them and I'll try to resist doing the same to yours. I don't like that.

As a former English teacher you would think I would be really, really good at Words with Friends and Scrabble. I know a lot of impressive words and I'm a pretty good speller. Before Grace was born, Bryon and I played somewhere around 200 games of Scrabble. I won three. I'm pretty sure he let me win at least two of those.

The problem isn't that I'm a poor wordsmith it's that I'm not competitive. Or strategic. I'm impatient. I'll look at the board for a few minutes, rearrange letters and then finally just plop something down. Bryon refuses to play a word for less than a double digit score. He utilizes the double and triple scoring tiles to the utmost advantage. He's a player. I'm a plopper.

He doesn't just beat me. He crushes me. I told him he's lucky I'm a good loser because most people couldn't tolerate that level of defeat.

I've just never been very competitive. Even when I was younger, my brother always wanted to play games and I didn't. Stratego was his game of choice. I hated Stratego. I just didn't have the imagination or the patience for it and he crushed me at it when we did play. Now he plays hours and hours of World of Warcraft online. Another game that requires lots of imagination.

Even in physical sports I'm not competitive. Sure it's fun to win, but if not ... well even the losers get ice cream most of the time. I tried playing junior high volleyball but when a few girls played every positition I just didn't see the point of practicing and killing myself and never touching the ball. Same in basketball. It was a lot of running up and down the court but very little actually playing on my part. I didn't have to. A couple of girls pretty much played the entire game. I was just filling out the team.

I did like playing softball. I volunteered to be the catcher because I figured that was my best chance of seeing some action during the entire game. Besides that, no one else wanted to do it. They were all afraid of Mickie's pitch. The game was slow pitch. Mickie was not slow. She threw a screaming softball.

Since high school, I played a little coed softball with Bryon on a couple of teams and we played sand volleyball but other than that, I just don't dig it. I don't even really like sports on tv. Thankfully Bryon isn't a big sports guy either. He does love him some Huskers football and we usually Husker up around her on fall Saturday game days but I usually only last about ten minutes watching the games. I can't stand the suspense. In a good book, I've often flipped to the last few pages to make sure the good guys win and all ends well before continuing on. In televised football, unless it's recorded, you can't do that. So I tune in for a few minutes when Bryon whoops and hollers and get the highlights from him when it's over.

Grace has been playing soccer for the past six seasons (two a year) and this season is probably her last. She didn't really even want to play this time but I signed her up. We are going to get her into basketball this winter at the First Baptist Church's Upward Basketball program. I think she'll be good at it and if she likes it she can play basketball at Niangua. Niangua doesn't have soccer and there's no way we are driving her all over the place to play a game she doesn't even really want to play.

Her coach at school said she's very athletic and competitive and might be the most athletic kid in the lower grades. I see her competitive side when she plays games at home with us or her Nana. She doesn't like to lose. She gets that from her Daddy. She hasn't been all that aggressive at soccer but if she finds a sport she really likes, I think she's definitely got the potential.

Of course if she becomes a professional women's basketball player or something someday, I'll never be able to go to her games because I won't be able to stand the suspense.

I'll have to wait for the highlight reel. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Doggie Digs - Day 16 of 31 Days of Bloggging

We got the kennel moved this weekend and went to Wal-Mart after church to buy some more paver bricks so we could puppy proof it. It's just outside of the garage on the way to the chicken coop so it will be a lot easier to put her up and get her out with the garage light shining out there. The hose will reach it now too so all the better.

She also got a brand spanking new Petmate Dogloo. It's pretty cool. Grace decided to give Belle the tour.

We told Grace she should spend the night in it and make sure it was nice and comfy. She declined. It will be nice to put Belle out there during the day while we are gone though.

The rest of the afternoon was spent staining. Woo hoo (that was a sarcastic woo hoo if you were confused). Bryon is off three days this week because he has to work the weekend so he should get it finished up for the year. It's looking awesome though...

He does windows too but I don't think he'll be wanting to hire out anytime soon.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

No Rest for the Weary - Day 15 of 31 Days of Blogging

We are still staining the house and when we finally do quit for the year ... it will only be a little more than half down. Bryon has been spending every one of his days off staining and we spent all afternoon staining as well. Tomorrow afternoon ... yep, more staining. We are really tired of being intimate with our siding.

We did manage to get the kennel moved today up closer to the house. Tomorrow, before, after or during staining, we have to finish putting the blocks down on the ground to prevent tunneling to China. Labs are furious diggers. The giant doggie condo Bryon built years ago finally disintegrated when we tried to dislodge it from the ground.

We had a great big cedar dog house for years that was just sitting around and sold it on Craigslist a couple of years ago. Now we wish we had it back. Tomorrow after church we'll most likely be buying another doghouse. I don't like keeping things around just in case because they just pile up too quickly. Once I'm done with something, I want it gone. But then, inevitably I end up having to buy some things back again. You can't keep it all or you end up with the island of misfit stuff.

That's how those hoarders start you know and I'm pretty sure it's genetic. I've had two hoarders in my family who shall remain nameless ... you know who you are. I don't want the same fate.

One good thing is that we pretty much wore the pup out today. We took her to soccer where she was well loved and she got to hangout with us all outside all day. Twice we misplaced her for a few moments, but she had only gone to the back door step because she wanted back inside.

It will be good to have the kennel all ready and pup proofed so she can stay outside during the day while we are gone. There will be plenty of squirrels and rabbits to keep her entertained. I'm pretty sure Pansy just sits and hisses and growls at her all day in the house.

I'm not sure if those two will ever make friends. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dream a Scary Dream of Me - Day 14 of 31 Days of Blogging

The good news of last night was that the puppy, Belle, slept through the night accident and whining free in the laundry room. The bad news is that Grace woke me up at 2 am with a bad dream. She was scared and wanted to sleep with me. She settled for a quick book being read to her instead.

I asked her what her dream was about and she said it was about a bad man that if you said his name he would come and torture you. Okaaaaay. First of all I was impressed that she knew the word "torture" but a little horrified too. I don't know how she knew that word. I can't think of anytime we have ever used it. I also wonder how she came up with that scenario.

I know there has been a movie trailer on lately showing two little girls in the bathroom summoning Bloody Mary in the mirror. As far as I know she has not seen that trailer, but I hate how they show stuff like that on regular television as early as 7 pm sometimes.

As an adult, I dig horror but there's a fine line anymore as to what I will and won't watch. In high school, I watched Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween (most of them), Friday the 13th, Freddy Krueger (particularly scary with knife hands AND bad dreams) and most all of the regular horror fare. Children of the Corn and Pet Cemetery were really terrifying. It was fun to be scared by those movies.

Now, not so much.

Now I dig the monsters much more than the evil vengeful killers of teenagers having sex in cars in the dark. I like more run of the mill supernatural monsters; vampires, werewolves etc. I've never watched any of the Saw movies or the like and I don't even like to watch the trailers because of course they pick the most awful and gratuitous scenes to entice people.

Bryon and I watched the new show American Horror Story last week. The first episode was shocking. I was compelled and repulsed all at the same time. Bryon said he wasn't going to watch any more of it. I watched again this week and it was a little less shocking but it still crosses back and forth over the line in my mind of what I can and can not tolerate in horror. The jury is still out for next week's episode.

Bryon and I have seen every episode of the CW series Supernatural and it is pretty much the perfect scary show for me. It's scary, has lots of weird monsters but still has a campy quality to it that lightens things up. True Blood is the same way for me.

I used to read a lot of horror. I collected lots and lots of books always searching for the next scarier thing. Then one day I found Brian Lumley and Clive Barker and decided that was the line I wasn't willing to cross. It was too much. I was done with horror. I sold all of my horror library and took a long, long break from it.

This summer I got back into it a little by reading Salem's Lot.  Salem's Lot reminded me of why I close the blinds at night and don't look outside ... a vampire might be floating outside of it asking to be let in. I also bought  H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Fiction so I could read The Call of Cthulhu. 

The bad thing about watching or reading scary stuff is that once it's in your brain, it tends to latch on and make itself at home there. Just waiting for an opportunity to replay itself. You can't suck it back out once it's stuck like a tick in your psyche. Two movies I wish I could suck back out of my brain are 8MM and Sin City. But no, they are stuck there and occasionally replay some of the most disturbing scenes.

As far as I know Grace hasn't seen anything really scary other than Harry Potter. I suspect the kids at school must be telling her stories. That's where all of the urban legends and ghost stories start anyway right ... school and elementary sleepovers?

It's fun to be a little scared.

Just not at night. In bed. Alone.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Oh, the Place's You'll Go! - Day 13 of 31 Days of Blogging

I got my passport in 2002 because I wanted to be on Survivor. As one of the requirements of being selected you had to have a passport in hand.  I even sent in a lame audition tape that I made myself. And no I don't have a copy of it to post .... thank God. I was not selected. I never even heard back from them. I'm pretty sure it was because I wasn't weird enough. Or hot enough. Or manipulating enough. I'm good with that.

What I am not good with is the fact that I had that dang passport for ten years and never got one stamp in it. I understand that now most countries don't even actually stamp them unless you request it. Oh, I would be requesting it.

So for ten years it sat in a drawer ... waiting ... to expire.

I renewed it a couple of months ago. $110. I don't have any trips planned but I like the hopefulness of knowing that if I wanted to, I could be on a plane to somewhere wild and amazing at the drop of a hat. Just in case Survivor pulls my long lost audition tape out of a pile of studio rubble somewhere and someone says, "My God, how did we overlook this. We have to have her on our next show!" I'm ready.

Of course now I would have to politely decline. I'm over Survivor.

But I do like Italian food if anyone is going that way.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Attack of the Mums - Day 12 of 31 Days of Blogging

Okay, so I'm cheating a little today with some puppy cuteness. Hey use it if you got it I say. One thing about a puppy is every day is a new adventure. Today Belle discovered ice cubes and bouncy flowers.

For Belle, everything is coming up mums right now.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Appetite for Destruction - Day 11 of 31 Days of Blogging

Today was Belle's first day home alone. I puppy proofed the laundry room for her and left her with food, water, paper on the tile, six dog toys and a pissy cat overseeing the situation like a big sister left in charge. We have a lot of wood in our house. Wood trim, wood wall in that room, wood door and wood vanity.  That's a whole lot of puppy temptation.

Day one was a complete success. She peed on the newspaper and didn't destroy anything. I'm pretty sure we got lucky, still I'm hopeful that one of the other pups in her litter got all the Marley genes. We saw one in particular, a boy, who had a whole lot of that potential just oozing from his pores. Fifteen years ago we would have totally chosen him. Mercifully, now we know to leave him to someone else.

We chose the laziest runt of the litter this time and it's already paying off. Last evening we all three took Belle for her first big walk through our woods along the trail Bryon made last year. We were trying to wear her down so she'd sleep better. It really wasn't all that long a walk; maybe 3/4 of a mile or so but her belly drug the ground in most places and it was pretty much a continual obstacle course for a 7 week old puppy.

She did pretty well but took a lot of breaks. Anytime Bryon or Grace stopped to pick up an acorn to pelt at one another, she took a little break. She's big on breaks.

The first night we were up with her every 90 to 120 minutes. She whined. We came and took her outside. She did her business. Repeat.

Last night I took her food and water away at 8:30 when Grace went to bed and she did a lot better. Bryon and I both got up with her 3 times each. A couple of times she faked us out and didn't do any business but still she did okay and with minimal whining. Tonight, it's raining so I'm a little skeptical about her going out to do any business in the rain.

The moon has been so full and bright the past few nights it's been sort of cool to be out there for a little bit. Last night I heard something scurrying around over by the chicken coop as Belle was finishing up and coming back up onto the porch. She got back to me just in time for two little skunks to skitter across the front lawn in a little skunk parade about 30 feet from us. I was glad Belle was oblivious. If she'd given chase, we might all have been having tomato juice baths last night.

Things have already been much, much different with this little dog than with Ruger. Poor Ruger just didn't have a chance with our family. We were not a good fit. My heart turned hard against him pretty quickly. Mostly because he was an idiot and a furry pinball. HE was a Marley in a Brittany Spaniel suit.

We broke out the books on labradors we have collected over the years and Bryon's ready to start training her. She's much smarter already and reminded us immediately what it was like when we first got Briar and Daisy all those years ago. I think we got Briar in 1993 right before I quit teaching. He used to sleep in our kingsize waterbed between us with his head on one of our pillows as he breathed hot dog breath on us all night. He also snored. And farted. We found it endearing.

I don't plan to have dog hair in my bed anymore. I have cat hair. Pansy sleeps on us most nights. She makes the rounds. I don't forsee her sleeping with Belle anytime soon. She has been establishing the rules. I worked from home on Monday and Belle slept under the table while I worked. Pansy sat on top of it and growled and hissed all day.

She was making a point. Unfortunately Belle is still oblivious to that point. I have a feeling she'll find out soon enough.

I know we'll have our share of chewing and destruction. This is probably the calm before the storm but for now we are just enjoying the newest member of our family. Well, most of us are. Sorry Pansy. We all know you are really the boss.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dental Dilemna - Day 10 of 31 Days of Blogging

Grace has bad teeth. Sometime during the development of her teeth two dentists now have told us that she must have had a high fever which damaged the enamel of her teeth. She's already had six fillings and a couple of weeks ago we noticed one of her back molars looked like it had cavities again.

Saturday she was eating a piece of sausage and it got caught in another back molar and she couldn't get it out. I tried dental floss and brushing and I couldn't get it out either. As I was trying to dislodge it, I realized there was a hole in her tooth. Great.

She had an appointment today after school and the dentist put a stainless steel crown over one back molar and a temporary filling in the other. We have take her back in a couple of weeks for a more permanent filling. Her front permanent teeth are also discolored. Bryon and I were not happy with the demeanor or the explanations the dentist was offering us.

We've taken her to two dentists now. One was too rough and this other guy is a jerk. I think the next step is going to be to take her to Springfield to a pediatric dentist and try to develop a game plan for the long term for her dental care.

It's very frustrating. She didn't mind the stainless steel crown because one of her girlfriends at school has four of them. One day she won't be so happy about that.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Bieber Fever - Day 9 of 31 Days of Bloggin

Grace has a slight case of Bieber fever. How she even knows who he is is beyond me but she does. Everytime she sees him on something she's all, "Ohhhhh Justin Bieeeeber".  It drives her daddy crazy. Of course that's what we girls do right? She got the Birthday Express catalog and they had a whole Justin Bieber party kit. She wanted it even though we aren't doing a big party this year. Her request by the way.

Luckily for her she got invited to a girlfriend's Justin Bieber birthday party just yesterday so she got her Bieber fix after all. She picked out a Justin Bieber book at the book fair at school for her friend Mattie. It was a hit.

I remember reading tons of issues of Tiger Beat and Teen Beat Magazine when I was young. I don't remember how I got those magazines. I doubt I had my own money. My mom must have bought them for me. I just can't remember but I loved pouring over them and all the teen celebrities. So here is Tiger beat today. Note who made the cover.

Later as I got older it was Seventeen and Circus magazines that I coveted. I must have read a hundred issues of those magazine through my teen years. I'd cut out pictures and words and make collages to hang on my walls. I had my share of long haired rockers on my walls too. I had a huge poster of David Lee Roth behind my door. I couldn't find the exact one I had online but it was almost life sized and hung behind my door. It was similar to this... I'm sure my parents were thrilled. Mostly I remember he was unclothed except for some devilishly tight red leather pants ;)

My issues of Teen Beat and Circus were similar to these...

I also had lots of half naked men bedazzling the inside of  my high school locker at school. My Aunt was the Home Ec teacher and would sneak down there to check out the eye candy from time to time. My locker was very popular. 

So now we have an almost seven year old and here we go. Wikipedia said those teen magazines were targeted to 10-16 year olds. The only thing saving me from having to buy them for her yet is that she can only read about 75 words right now and it's just not the same if your mom has to read it to you. 

I think her daddy is hoping her wall posters continue to display puppies instead of half naked rock stars for a long time.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Meet Belle - Day 8 of 31 Days of Blogging

 Meet Belle. Our new chocolate lab baby girl. She was a surprise today. We had no intention of getting a new dog this weekend but our friends the Hugglers were at Wally World and saw these guys in the parking lot for sale.

We were planning on getting a yellow female but this little one was the runt of the litter and oh so cute. We've had a yellow lab (Daisy) and a black lab (Briar) but never a chocolate so Bryon and Grace out voted me and we came home with the chocolate. It wasn't much of a hardship.

Right now she's asleep on top of Bryon while he watches Huskers football on the couch.

I'm sure it will be a long, long, long night of whining which will start very soon. And then there's the getting up to take her out every couple of hours. 

She's a couple of days shy of eight weeks old and will probably end up being about the size Daisy was.

Life around the Medley house is about to get shook up again.  I'm just praying she's lazy. Very, very lazy :)

Book Reruns - Day 7 of 31 Days of Blogging

I was talking to a friend the other day about books and reading and she told me how much she likes to read some books over and over again. I can't do that. For me the thrill is gone after the first read through. As much as I'd like to relive the little charge I get out of a really great scene or entire book, it's just never the same again.

While I don't have a very good memory for trivia or details and couldn't tell you character names or much at all about any book I read more than a few weeks ago except that I enjoyed it ... or didn't, as soon as I start reading it again, it all comes back to me.

Song lyrics are the same way. I couldn't recite the lyrics to any song just off the top of my head but as soon as it starts to play, the words come back to me. I'm pretty sure this is not a unique ability. I just think that recall is the same thing that happens with books for me.

I've only reread a handful of books through the years and while I did enjoy them the second time around, it wasn't as exciting. Reading a new book is such an adventure. You just never know what's around the next corner. Or in the closet. Or under the bed.

This summer I reread The Stand by Stephen King. I've also read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury maybe four times. I've read To Kill A Mockingbird twice and Sue Hubble's A Country Year as well. Other than those, I can't think of any others I have reread. There are probably a few.

Of course book sellers like to try to trick us with new covers every so often. I've been duped more than once into buying the same book twice. They just make them so darn appealing and I totally judge books by their covers so I'm a complete sucker.

I'll bet if I just opened it up and started reading though, it would all come back to me.

My friend Deanne likes to read Dick Francis books over and over. She finds them comforting like literary mashed potatoes.

What books have your read over and over?

Read on.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gym Time - Day 6 of 31 Days of Blogging

I made it to the gym late this afternoon. It's only the second time in two weeks. It's not that impressive; twice in two weeks. It's barely better than nothing at all but it's a start. I'm a great starter.

Last week I went in and pinged around on the equipment and managed to waste an hour and have some sore muscles the next few days so I suppose it was something. But it felt pretty aimless overall. Today I asked for a consultation and a body analysis, glutton for punishment that I am. A very, nice and perkily fit girl named Taylor measured me and my fat and determined that 109 pounds of me is essential parts... 66 pounds of me is fat.

I had 37% body fat. Now that is impressive.

She helped me develop a six week plan for strength training and optimistically suggested I do 30 minutes of cardio 3-5 days a week. Uh huh. I would love to do that but I don't see how it's going to happen.  I'm going to try. I'm more likely to make the three than the five.

I used to be in a shape other than round and would like to be again ... like tomorrow. The absolute simplest exercise she suggested took absolutely no equipment and was excruciatingly difficult. The plank. Seems simple; stretch out and hold it for thirty seconds. Repeat. Taylor suggested three times. I did three times. I wasn't feeling like a hero so three was all I did.

It was a lot harder than it looks.

Or maybe I'm just in a lot worse shape than I'd like to think.

Either way ... plank I did along with ball wall squats, leg abductions, dumbell front raises, dumbell curls, tricep pushdowns, 15 minutes on the bike and 15 minutes on the treadmill carefully keeping my heart rate at 145. Exercising is very complicated. But, I like a plan and now I have one. All I have to do now is implement it.

Aye, there's the rub.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Meet the Authors - Day 5 of 31 Days of Blogging

A couple of weeks ago I went to St. Louis with two girlfriends to see two of my favorite authors; Charlaine Harris and Laurell K. Hamilton . Of course they both write vampire novels so they are right up my alley. Hamilton lives in St. Louis and her Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is set in St. Louis mostly as well. Harris lives in Arkansas and her Sookie Stackhouse series was the basis for the HBO series True Blood. The first season of the show was pretty true to the first book and even used a lot of the dialogue. After that, the show pretty much went off the rails, in a good way I think, and now they are basically two separate but equally wonderful entities. Hamilton and True Blood are not for the faint of heart. Luckily, my heart is strong.

Both ladies participated in this author's evening at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis which is down by the Arch. It was an awesome church and it was packed. It is an Episcopal church and the Dean of the church welcomed everyone and gave us some history of the cathedral. He was so kind and enthusiastic it made you want to go to church there some Sunday just to please him.

The event was a fundraiser for the St. Louis Public Library. Tickets were only $28 and you got to choose a signed book from one of the two authors. I chose Charlaine's The Sookie Stackhouse Companion.

We got second row seats which were awesome. Both authors stood on a little stage up front and instead of a program they just answered fan questions for an hour and a half. I sat next to a very nice lady named Beth Sorensen who just published her second mystery book. She was there for a Mystery Writer's conference.

I got in line to ask a question but someone in front of me asked it before I made my way to the microphone. It was a fun night. I was a little nervous because usually when I go to a concert of someone I really like, I'm disappointed in them in person and then I don't listen to them anymore. Thankfully that was not the case with this event. They were both great. I wasn't disappointed at all.

In fact, it just made me want to go to more events like that.

There's a Book Lover's Convention in Chicago in April and I am really thinking about going instead of driving Route 66. They have lots of authors I like there and writing conferences as well. I'll probably wait until the last minute to decide so we'll see.

I'm on the hunt for the next opportunity.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Something About Nothing - Day 4 of 31 Days of Blogging

See, I told you this would happen. It's only day four and I have nothing to blog about. Every day is just not blog worthy. Today, I went to work, made a few stops, had lunch with my favorite contact person, came home and warmed up leftovers for Grace so we could rush off to her makeup soccer game in Marshfield. Then when I got home, again, I had to make a spaghetti casserole thing so I could take it the church dinner tomorrow night. I was supposed to make brownies too but then I spied the package cookies we had bought for the Sunday felllowship we skipped so, I'm taking those instead.

See, not blog worthy. Instead of a quality post you are getting a lame stream of consciousness spew.  I've been sitting here tonight trying to come up with something. I've got nothing. I asked Bryon for an idea. Bryon suggested I write about how great he is. Not too surprising really. He is pretty great but if I write too much about that his head will swell up and explode. I don't want to clean up the mess so what else you got for me?

He also suggested writing about nothing, like on Seinfeld. I told him that would be a very, very short post. Of course then I had to go to YouTube and find The Nothing Pitch and watch it. I have seen every single episode of Seinfeld so many times. A solution to pretty much all of life's problems can be found in a Seinfeld episode. They should make a book The Zen of Seinfeld. They probably already have. I should Google that...

See how it is... you start to write something about nothing and the next thing you know you're pinging all over the internet like a cosmic ADD maniac.

Sometimes I think just writing, anything, helps break loose more ideas. Creativity spawns creativity. I did no writing on my book today. I feel like I need a good long stretch of time to clean up my plot flaws and proofread before I can go on. I don't see how that is going to happen right now. 

I have been reading Stephen King's book On Writing and it's been very inspirational. I need all these little tricks and pushes of affirmation to keep myself motivated. Especially on days like this. When it seems like there is nothing to write about.

Okay, I'm going to stop complaining now. I'm starting to sound like Harry Potter complaining about homework in book five.

I'll try harder for tomorrow. Really, I will.