Thursday, November 13, 2014

NaNo Update

It's late. My eyes are bleary and my fingers are tired. Indy is curled in a little knot asleep at my feet while Bogey has commandeered my lap (and part of the keyboard).

Why do people participate in a mass group writing marathon like NaNoWriMo? Could it have something to do with being competitive? For me I suspect so. The question "What's your word count today?" has become my favorite phrase. And as soon as I hear what someone else has done, my petty little self sneaks back in to type more words because then I wrote more than they did.

It's the end of Day 13 and here's where I stand: 32,023 words.

Please don't tell me where you are. I'm too tired to stay up any later.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hello NaNo, Good-bye Sanity

It's almost here. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) happens every November. It's basically a writing challenge with the goal of producing a novel in 30 days. You can't start writing until November 1, and you don't stop until one of the following things happens:

  • at least 50,000 words have been completed
  • the clock announces midnight on November 30
  • you toss your computer out the window and give up

Last year I opted out of NaNo and felt guilty as a teenager caught cheating on their final exam. So this year, I'm back in and have been working on a rough outline and my main characters. Planning in advance is okay, and for me quite necessary. I'm not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer.

Part of the fun of NaNo is sharing the agony with other writers. My own writer's group is doing a NaNo kickoff party tonight where there will be much gnashing of teeth and discussion of strategy. Some writers will get together to work throughout the month in a true example of the many ways misery loves company. Marathon writing is a requirement. Editing is impossible. Achieving 50,000 words is priceless.

This will be my fourth NaNo project and will give me my fourth "novel". Don't I sound prolific?

To keep me on track, I'm going on blog break. I hope to post a few updates. After all, somebody has to hold me accountable, right?

If you're interested in jumping on the NaNo bandwagon, check out the NaNo website.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Wee Wee Wee

Son's dog, Brady, often comes to stay at my house. Here he is modeling the latest in doggie fashion, with an expression that clearly says, "It isn't easy being green."

Brady is a Cairn Terrier with more issues than I can count. He's allergic to grass and tears his hair out so methodically that he looks like the poster child for a hair replacement commercial. To keep him from chewing his sides naked, he has his own wardrobe.

When it thunders, Brady barks non-stop. If he's outside, he charges around the yard while barking hysterically as though determined to scare away an evil hobgoblin.

He also has a food obsession and will grab anything edible from your hand, from your plate, or from any other place he can stretch tall enough to reach. Thwarting Brady can make eating dinner a true challenge.

Brady's latest accomplishment is "marking". He will occasionally do this at his house, but by far prefers to do it at other people's homes. Curtains and sofas are his favorite targets. Since this creates numerous problems for all concerned, Brady now has a new piece of wearing apparel.

Yes, it's a doggie diaper. Brady wore his diaper for the first time to Daughter's house on Sunday, since he particularly likes to mark when visiting her. We held our collective breath and discovered...success! Not once did Brady lift his leg. He was a perfect gentleman.

It may sound crazy, but it works. Diaper on when in the house, off when outside. Now the furniture is dry and the curtains remain spot free.

Who'd have thought doggie diapers would become our family's new best friend?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Illusion or Reality?

I have a friend from high school who loves to put pictures of herself on Facebook. There's certainly nothing wrong with posting selfies. In fact, it seems to be a pretty popular pastime. Friends do it. Celebrities do it. Even random people I've never met (nor am sure I want to) do it.

What caught my eye about my friend's picture is the way her face looked. Lovely. Line-free. Luminous. Now I know she's in great shape, but really? She's the exact same age as me. I've seen her in person (recently) many times. I decided her picture had to have been photoshopped, airbrushed, and/or tweaked in some way.

The idea put me on a quest to find my own photographic fountain of youth. I finally settled on one and experimented. Because if anyone needs to be "youthened" it's me.

My before picture, complete with bags, lines, and wrinkles:

After some minor photo fooling around:

H'mmm. Almost like a mini face-lift without the cutting, stitching, or pain. 

From what I've observed, in the competitive world of author pictures on book covers, actors playing roles, or a head shot on the cover of a magazine, appearance counts. But will there be a disconnect when the inevitable meeting occurs and the face doesn't match the photo? Or maybe people have come to expect that few things are what they appear to be, particularly on-line dating sites where I wonder if photo-enhancing may result in some major disappointments.

I have to admit, I'm vain enough to prefer my "improved" version. Primarily because that's how my brain still thinks I look. Needless to say, it's always a shock when the mirror tells me something different. 

So what do you think? Is photo enhancing a blessing or a curse? Would you do it if it might help your career or are you a this-is-me-take-it-or-leave-it kind of person?

If you're interested in the app I used, it's called Perfect365. This app was free to download to my iPhone. And if you want to do crazy things to your photo (weird makeup, wigs, etc), Perfect365 can do that, too. (Note: I am not being compensated for this post. I stumbled across the app and thought it would be fun to share)

I'm curious. If you've found a cool photo app (preferably free), please let me know. I may have become addicted. 

By the way, just for fun I tried to de-age and beautify Indy. The app scanned his picture and told me "face not recognized".

Okay, so maybe I need a shave.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yum Yum

Bogey loves his kibble. He meows with ecstasy over the wet canned food he gets every morning. And he absolutely adores his kitty treats. He'll even sit up and beg like a dog to receive one.

Unfortunately, Bogey loves everyone else's food, too. If he gets a chance, the dog food bowl will be emptied. Unguarded people food will disappear. He even figured out how to open the refrigerator for random food raids while the peeps were away at work. Thankfully, I now have a new refrigerator he can't open. Bogey is not happy. If cats could curse, my ears would be ringing.

Yesterday I came home to find a brand new bag of doggie dental chewies torn apart and emptied. It had been sitting on the kitchen table. My highly advanced powers of deduction told me Bogey must have knocked it to the floor, then he and Brady (Son's visiting dog and the only creature I know that loves food even more than Bogey) devoured the contents.

Their sweetly scented breath confirmed my suspicions. Since Brady eats only special food due to his history of pancreatitis, I told Son what happened. I haven't received any frantic phone calls yet, so I'm assuming the treats merely made Brady's teeth pearly white, rather than throwing his pancreas into revolt.

I must admit food tends to drive me as much as it does my critters. I love to fantasize about what treat I'll have once I get home from work. Ice cream? Chocolate? Popcorn? Pizza? It's no wonder I'm having more and more difficulty buttoning my pants.

And now it's Fall. The season of decadent eating has begun. Between Halloween candy, pumpkin bread, and Christmas cookies, I'm afraid I may need either a 12-step program or a plus size wardrobe.

I need help. How do you keep a handle on your cravings?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tuesday Ladies League

Last year I joined a bowling team. It was the first time I'd bowled since high school. I told my teammates not to expect much. In fact, my main contribution so far has been my exceptionally high handicap.

However, I've discovered trying something a little new and different can pay off. We have a blast on our girls night out laughing, talking, and even enjoying a cocktail or two. I've met a lot of funny and terrific gals.

My season 2 of bowling started in August, and guess what? Last Tuesday I bowled the best game of my (admittedly limited) bowling career. Doubters see evidence below.

Yes, it's true. I bowled a 158. Of course I followed that game by bowling a 108, but no matter. I got a taste of success. Sometimes if you keep plugging away, wonderful things can happen. Heck, I even got a story out of bowling. "The Tuesday Night Ladies League" appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life (now available in bookstores and on Amazon). It tells how stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new energized and inspired me.

This week bowling night brought another surprise bonus.

A former bowling teammate brought her therapy dog (in training) to the bowling alley. His name is Woody, and he's quite the handsome fellow. He laid quietly on the floor while zillions of bowling balls rumbled down the alley before crashing into pins. What a good boy. I know he's going to make an awesome therapy dog.

Have you tried a new activity lately that made you feel great?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Told You So!

My daughter organized a group to participate in "Trails for Tails", a fundraising event for Five Acres Animal Shelter. Her intrepid team is pictured above. She turned it into a true family affair by recruiting me, her sister-in-law (my daughter-in-law), and my sister. Can you guess who's who?

Prior to leaving for Trails, we had a serious talk with Daughter's step-son who plays competitive hockey and is also a huge Blues fan.

Daughter: "You ought to come along in case Dave Backes (captain of the St Louis Blues hockey team and board member of Five Acres Animal Shelter) is there."

Since he's nearly 13, he blew us off with a blithe, "Backes won't be there, he's busy with hockey stuff" reply. His eyes never once left the hockey video game he was playing. Oh well...

Anyway, we were lucky enough to have perfect weather for the 3 mile walk. I'd say several hundred people (and almost as many pets) attended.

At 9 a.m. sharp we were off and walking. Although we had runners on our team, they took pity on the rest of us and walked, too. Otherwise they'd have left us behind in their dust.

Just after we crossed the finish line, guess what? Daughter spied a special someone and snagged a picture to seal the deal.

Yep, it was HIM! She texted the photo to a certain young man who quickly regretted not listening to the ladies. Luckily, Daughter had enough empathy to refrain from saying, "I told you so!"

What a perfect day and great fun raising much-needed money for my favorite animal shelter.

*Pictured from left to right in team picture: two of Daughter's best buddies, Daughter, my sister, me, and my daughter-in-law. Daughter-in-law is holding her pup, Brady. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Real Cool

We've had a pretty mild summer so far, but this week it's back to reality. Upper 90's, air thick with humidity, and searing sunshine are making me feel as though I'm living in an oven. A typical summer in St. Louis is upon us. Because it's too darn hot to go outside, get any chores done, or even to do much thinking, I've conjured up a few images to help all of us feel better. Put up your feet and imagine cool breezes...

I think I just shivered. How about you?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


When Hubby discovered a dead spider in the bathroom, he told me something no one wants to hear.

"See the fiddle pattern on his body? It's a brown recluse. I found one in the garage, too."

After I peeled myself off the ceiling, I ran to the computer. What does one do about this type of uninvited guest? Fortunately, my research suggested a simple solution. Get glue traps and set them out to capture the spiders. 

I bought glue traps at the home improvement store and placed them strategically in obscure and dark locations throughout the house. Then I waited.

Three days and glue traps caught nothing. There's something really sinister about a spider who is not only poisonous, but also smart. I set out more glue traps but days later still didn't find so much as a speck of dust attached.  

I chewed my lip and brushed my hair, trying to put the whole idea of spiders out of my brain. Bogey wound himself between my legs, waving his tail in typical fashion. Then all at once he bolted away, his tail swishing madly. I looked down. Something was on his tail. Something BIG. 

I grabbed for him and quickly realized his tail had hit one of the glue traps. Let me tell you, when the package advertises "Professional Strength", it's no exaggeration. I couldn't get the trap off and screamed for Hubby. Hubby obviously recognized the edge of panic in my voice and ran to the rescue. While I held down a spitting, screaming Bogey, Hubby ripped the glue trap off. As you can see, Bogey's tail did not emerge unscathed. 


Bogey hissed at me and immediately began to administer emergency first aid. 

Now it's more than a week later and I still haven't captured anything but Bogey's tail. I suppose his unfortunate experience is really all my fault. When the name of a product is Tomcat, I ought to know enough to leave it alone.