Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Day of the Dog

I grew up calling the hottest days of the year the ‘dog days of summer’, which I thought simply referenced those smart pets lying low to keep cool. The story is much more interesting.

Forget the Heat, We're Rockin' in the A/C

Our term derives from the Latin dies caniculares, or ‘puppy days’, referencing the rising of the dog star Sirius alongside the sun. I thank Wikipedia for that information, including the cool word ‘heliacal’ meaning ‘related to or near the sun’.

The ‘Blood Moon’ novelette series I’m working on includes a tale called The Dog Days of Summer. I find it rather fitting as the Greeks and Romans associated this period of the year with lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck. My characters sure endure plenty of that last.

In a converse bit of good luck the weather on my back porch today is quite temperate. I plan to enjoy writing out here as long as it stays cool. It will be nice when autumn lowers the heat index. My backyard is nothing special but does provide a secluded and overall peaceful place to write.

What’s your favorite way to spend a nice day?


Monday, July 24, 2017

Dream a Little Dream of Me

Thinking of a fabulous experience the other night I couldn’t resist referencing the classic tune, a favorite by sixties group The Mamas and The Papas. That aside, what I want to share is that I’m often blessed by fantastic dreams. More than one has turned into a short story.

Science fiction or fantasy, every now and then delving into world history, the scenarios sometimes play out like a movie. Thursday night I had one so intense that my dream self stood crying in the midst of watching (reading?) a tragic romance.

That one begged to be written. As of now I’m up to chapter three and on the cusp of making the main character’s life change for the better.

It’s been really fun, as well as emotionally moving at times, fleshing out the details. Yesterday I researched what one should do upon finding a suicide survivor bleeding out from slit wrists. Yeah. It’s intense.

I’m thankful to have never been on either side of such tragedy. But my character Tyler has, and is about to find a reason to live again. I can hardly wait to keep going. For now I decided to go back to polishing my fantasy series, letting ideas percolate on where to take ‘Submerged’ next. It’s a working title I may keep as Tyler is a former competitive swimmer forced to quit after a debilitating accident.

And that’s not even what brought him so low! The loss of his spouse to cancer undermined his will, so I guess I shouldn’t let him languish too long. ~grin~ Better get back to writing!

Any new projects have you excited?


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

News on the Feline Front

We got official word back from the veterinarian. Tilly has a bladder infection. I’m actually relieved considering the possibilities.

Apparently it’s bacterial, meaning I’ll be giving her a liquid antibiotic for the next two weeks. We’ll see how that goes. Then she goes back for another urinalysis. Wish us luck.

I was going to post a picture of the sweet, silly cat. But Blogger seems to be having technical issues. At least my kitty should recover. Maybe the messy water play will end, too.

What are you thankful for today?

Monday, July 17, 2017

A Fungus Among Us

I want to give a shout-out to The Squirrel Nutwork blog in Reston, Virgina (USA) for introducing me to an amazing fungus. I have never seen this aptly named coral fungus before in my life.

Photo Credit to Nutmeg and Co. of The Squirrel Nutwork
Isn’t it the stuff of fantasy? I wouldn’t want to leave if I found it sprouted somewhere in hopes fairies, a unicorn, or perhaps some fanciful flying fish might appear.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Update on Tilly

Early this morning a veterinarian got a blood sample from Tilly but, bladder infection being one concern, could not retrieve any urine. Now we need to either get a sample sometime Sunday night to bring in early Monday or drop her off for however many hours it takes for them to get a sample.

I foresee her taking another trip. Poor kitty.

Tilly's Big Paws Absorb an Amazing Amount of Water
We were given a product meant to simulate litter without absorbing the liquid. But they gave us so little that I doubt Tilly would use a box with a scattering of this stuff.

Having two cats makes it that much more difficult. And I’m not about to stress Jezebel over the matter. She isn’t much younger and I don’t want to disrupt her good litter box behavior.

Meanwhile I had to clean and refill both water bowls this morning. It’s amazing how fast the water gets filthy. My socks got wet, too, and the linoleum is starting to look like the road next to a construction sight with wet clay tracked everywhere.

So, what do you have planned for the weekend?


Friday, July 14, 2017

Antics of an Aging Cat

I don’t know what has gotten into our ‘Silly’ Tilly lately. She’s acting sillier than usual splashing water all around. Having hyperthyroidism and taking twice daily pills for the condition, she may need a trip to the vet. It wouldn’t hurt to check her thyroid levels and kidney condition.

In the meantime, I am trying to solve the issue of filthy water bowls and wet flooring as she continues dunking paws in the drinking water put out for her and Jezebel. Thinking the taller bowls we’ve used for years might be irritating her whiskers I found the shallowest thing possible.

I put out a serving tray centered on a storage bin lid to prevent spills leaking into the basement. As you can see, the results are underwhelming.

This is a Foot Bath, Right?
She really got into paddling away a moment later, too. At least the lid contained the water.


Do any of you fellow cat caregivers have any suggestions as to why this behavior would appear overnight? In the meantime, I guess I’ll call my local veterinarian’s office.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Rose By Any Other Name...

I opened correspondence from our health insurer yesterday and decided to share something fascinating. On the back of the last page was a set of instructions in eighteen different languages.

Eighteen! Sure there are almost seven thousand living languages known worldwide. But still...

They're Listed in English Alphabetical Order;
How Thoughtful
For That Matter, Why Even List the Languages in English?
How did someone choose which dialects to include? And why isn’t 'French (France)' represented?


Monday, July 10, 2017

Less Than Twelve Hours to Go!

I’ve been waiting for tonight’s Avenged Sevenfold concert for several months and can hardly believe the time approaches. I’m blessed to have attended many good shows over the years but it’s been a while. This should be fun.

Seeing as it’s such a special occasion I did some shopping. I bought new cosmetics, for one thing. The products look, feel, and hold up great. It’s been ages since I’ve bothered wearing any because my cheap stuff couldn’t withstand a minor sweat. So that proved a good investment for day-to-day use.

I also bought a new purse because my daily use one is super small. The last thing I want is to have belongings fall out while I’m buying a concert shirt. ~grin~ And the animal print matches the grey and black outfit I intend to wear.

On that note a new bolero style sweater should be comfortable over my tank top, and preferable to exposing lots of skin to the sun. I am taking sunscreen, however. I learned that lesson after an Anarchy ‘A’ pendant reverse branded my chest with sunburn. ~shakes head~ That made for interesting office conversation back in the day.

Last but not least is an older investment. Tired of feeling frumpy, I heard about a company called Orchard Corsets thanks to Josh Clark on the podcast Stuff You Should Know. Here’s the cool galaxy print one and tank top I intend to wear tonight.

That's an Oregami Crane Print Top
Oh, and I’m taking ear plugs in case the sound threatens to blow out my ear drums. Now, I’m off to get my hair styled. In the meantime, you can enjoy a song I expect to hear live, 'The Stage'.

Do you have anything fun planned this week?


Friday, July 7, 2017

Men and Their Hair: One Woman’s Opinion

I have liked long hair on guys for as long as I can remember. Blame the eighties rock and roll scene if you want. I still like the look if pulled off properly.

Australian Artist Gotye
How Adorable is This Guy?
Lately I keep hearing haters disparage the ‘man bun’. Personally, it doesn’t bother me. People should be able to wear their hair however they want. Would you begrudge a samurai from the Edo Period his chonmage?

Topknots Helped Keep a Helmet in Place
Jared Leto Rocking a Chonmage
And for these styles in particular I approve for two simple reasons. For one, alternatives on how to wear long hair means more men might do so.

No Complaints Here
Also, you know the old saying, ‘let your hair down’? Yeah. I want to be there when some of these guys do that. And I’m talking to you hot dudes at my gym.

To Quote Joe Cocker, You Can Leave Your Hat On
Just don't do comb-overs, fellows, please. At that point let. It. Go. Or if you can't, and I understand, just don't expect to be taken as seriously as this guy:

Captain's Uniform Optional
 What’s your opinion? Long? Short? Up? Down? Do you care?


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Darla’s Tips and Tricks: A Failsafe for the Digital Age

A common mistake many people make with modern technology is instilling too much trust. Every day someone learns once it’s too late that a computer crash can take all your data along for the ride. Knowing some dear folks who have suffered this, I’d like to share a simple idea.

While I own a solid state external hard drive I don’t use it on a frequent basis. For one thing, that hardware is as susceptible to failure as any other. But safeguarding my fiction, especially in the process of intensive rewrites, is important to me.

So I discovered an alternative. Rather than trust disks, hard drives, or Internet 'cloud' storage, I email documents to myself.

Having two separate email addresses using different platforms provides an added layer of protection. One email saves a copy in the ‘sent’ folder while the other's ‘in’ box (I hope) preserves the same information. The process is quick, easy, and the document can even remain open.

Do you back up your data? If so, what’s your method of preference?


Monday, July 3, 2017

Monroe's On the Lake

Last week my partner and I went on a whirlwind tour of the southern United States to visit parents, my mother in hospital. After five straight days of travel and a different motel every night, I am very happy to be home and can happily say my parents are doing well as can be expected.

My favorite stay was at Monroe’s On the Lake. In fact, due to the busy nature of our trip I took more pictures there than anywhere. It’s an older facility but nicely appointed with cool furniture.

Love the Dresser
Continuing the Spanish Feel
Super Cool Chair
Lake Monroe and the Pool I Never Got to Use
The best part of travel is coming home. Don’t you agree?


Friday, June 30, 2017

Tips and Tricks – Consequences of Credit Card Fraud

If you have ever found fraudulent purchases on your credit card I hope you are like my father. He not only acted quickly, so did the issuing bank, canceling the card without question.

The next step required contacting several institutions automatically billing that credit card for repeat services. They all needed updated information, a tedious endeavor.

While only diligence will protect our finances, my father thinks he found a fix for the ensuing hassle. Once again he dedicated a single credit card to monthly online bill pay. This time he is keeping that card out of his wallet and (he hopes) safe at home.

It seemed a good idea, though I intend to simply maintain my old habits. A few minutes each morning allow me to confirm the integrity of my credit line and bank accounts. So far, I’ve seen no illicit activity.

What safeguard do you take? Do you check your credit card and bank statements daily?


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dragon Slayer

Cruising through the southern United States the other day I noticed an increasing number of motorcycles on the road. Other than being extra cautious around them, I thought no more of it. One group of bikers, in a rush for some reason, risked passing me and the obnoxious slow driver ahead before I managed to get past that goofball, as well.

Photo Credit: Clutch and Chrome Magazine
Following them I saw signs announcing motorcycle friendly motels and taverns, a Harley Davidson dealership, as well as dozens of two wheeled vehicles coming the other direction. And lots of signs touted dragon silhouettes. After no small amount of time a traffic sign indicated a high accident area for the next eleven miles.

Without undue worry I found my awareness heightening as the turns twisted tighter, became more frequent. As my single lane gained altitude I noticed professional photographers stationed along the way. That’s when it hit me (nothing literal, thank heaven).

I was driving the Tail of the Dragon!

Otherwise known as US Route 129, this stretch bordering the states of Tennessee and North Carolina is a destination known to draw both motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. In fact these eleven miles are considered to be one of the greatest challenges a biker can face (hence the photographers, who will sell an image of your excited face back to you via website).

And I saw that fact when one motorcyclist became my biggest hazard. Just when she zoomed out of sight I would round another hairpin curve to find her just yards ahead, way too close for comfort. Imagine my relief when another from her group lagged behind the rest and urged her onto a designated pull-off point.

Many miles later my partner had the presence of mind to send a text message asking a close friend if he ever took this drive. Phoenix said he had not, but planned to next year (yes, our motorcycle enthusiast buddy is nicknamed after the mythical bird). I grabbed the smart phone and bragged about driving it ahead of him. His teasing response failed to deflate me (much).

“Cars don’t count.”

The heck they don’t. So maybe I wasn’t in a Corvette or Porsche, I zigged and zagged through all 318 curves without white knuckling the wheel once.

So phooey on you, Phoenix. I call this a win.

Are you a driving enthusiast like me? Would you challenge the dragon?


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Come Frolic in the Electric Forest

Here in the United States I’ve attended many music concerts over the years. One local campground used to feature an all day festival that rocked my summers. I’m still sorry that era came to an end.

Recently I learned about an eight day event called Electric Forest held at the Double J Ranch in Michigan. I’ve wanted to attend ever since.

Unfortunately the area saw five inches of rain before last weekend’s opening. Still folks flooded in (pun intended) for a fun, crazy time. The difference between this and the average music festival is that so much of the venue has woods versus open fields.

Life and family duties prevented my wish coming true, at least for this year, so I’ve been haunting websites for cool images. Take a look at some of the psychedelic night views.

Welcome to the Forest

I Presume This is a Stop Motion Image


And Music, of Course
Daytime looks fun, too. At least I can imagine being there.

You Can Try to Get Close or Listen from Wooded Seclusion

Attendees Get Creative

Meet New Friends & Even Marry the One You Brought ...

... Like This Cute Couple Should Do

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Thirty Years? Where Has the Time Gone?

I just learned the movie “Spaceballs” came out three decades ago. That doesn’t seem possible. I missed seeing it until well after the theatrical release and wish some local cinema would screen it today.

In lieu of that I may have to pop in the DVD tonight. The only Mel Brooks movie I like better would have to be “Young Frankenstein” for the horror theme and incredible cast.

But it doesn’t feature John Candy. I still miss him. What a mensch with an incredible gift for making audiences smile and laugh.

Do you have a favorite John Candy role? If you're not a fan, please don't tell me. ~grin~ Just say you can't pick a favorite .


Friday, June 23, 2017

Not an Oxford Comma

My perennial garden was designed primarily for bees and butterflies. One day I was fortunate to photograph this Eastern Comma enjoying a purple coneflower.

Breakfast on the Fly

A common species, this one struck me as particularly exceptional. My attempt to film video fell short of capturing the beauty, however.
Red Admiral Reporting for Duty
While I just get lucky sometimes (and compositions are far from ideal), I know quite a few bloggers are prolific and gifted photographers.

Carpenter Bee Near the Walkway
 If you enjoy photography, what is your favorite subject?


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Yet Another Lesson Learned

As lessons go, I’ve suffered more expensive ones. However, this morning has been more frustrating than my usual.

It all started with a good thing – the extensive amount of time I spend writing. As a result I wore out my laptop battery. Fortunately I found one reasonably priced and shipped ‘free’ from an online company.

(I use quotation marks because anything not charged separately is somehow built into the product price; mark my word)

The unit arrived yesterday. I promptly installed it and left my computer plugged in all night.

Today I turned the machine on only to get a message of incompatibility. I should have checked the battery model number, instead going with my laptop model number and trusting the website’s recommendation.

The website lied. Now I know to check the battery model. Lesson learned, payment begins.

My partner has been kind in offering to ship the battery back for a ‘refund’. I use quotes again because this company only offers store credit. Plus they charge a fifteen percent restocking fee, of course, on top of our cost in shipping.

I’m wondering if it’s even worth returning, especially when the receipt claims they shipped a different model number than is listed on the battery (neither matching my dying battery’s number, by the way). I can just imagine the company denying our claim.

It’s uncertain where I will purchase a replacement battery. I know this is environmentally unfriendly, but I really just want to take the thing to the big Knob Creek machine gun shoot.

What would you do?

PS Does anyone need a Lenovo Thinkpad battery model number 42T4751? I'll give it to you if you'll pay the shipping.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nightmare in Atlanta

Talking to my brother the other day I was shocked to learn he got stranded in the Atlanta, Georgia airport for three whole days. Tornadoes ripped through that part of the United States and well over a thousand Delta Airline flights were cancelled.

Chaos ensued. With inadequate seating, motel accommodations, or any means of escape stranded passengers sat or lay on the floor.

There were no rental cars available, even, the lots literally empty. My brother saw it with his own eyes after online rental car booking gave him a useless confirmation, the harried agent turning him away.

Walking alongside others from one terminal to another on an endless wild goose chase, the poor man barely ate or slept trying to reach first his original destination and then to just get home. He spent five hours in one line alone.

And every subsequent flight was canceled, sometimes due to a flight crew or attendant shortage. By the time he actually escaped to an area motel he carried a stack of useless boarding passes. Able to at last shower, mentally and physically exhausted, he collapsed in the bed and slept through two wake-up alarms.

Upon learning that he would not get a flight home until Sunday (!), he researched other travel options and found himself in the same straits with Amtrak trains and Greyhound buses. Neither offered a direct route. Nobody, it seemed, could get him home any sooner.

Finally he reached an upper manager of his company, the folks for whom he traveled. Don’t you know that manager booked a completely new flight and got my brother out in three hours? My brother recognized many faces of those still stranded and believes Delta essentially lost them in the system.

At home he emailed the airline to complain. An automatic response informed him that someone would respond in sixty to ninety days. Nice, huh?

What a nightmare. It makes me want to just stay home. Never hearing about this on the news I did find articles. This one doesn’t do the story justice, though the bride missing her wedding made me sad.

What about you? Do you like to travel? What’s your favorite mode of transportation?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Subtract, Don’t Add

Editing and polishing my series is proving quite rewarding. With every pass I delete extraneous verbiage to the point a thirteen thousand word tale might end up being closer to twelve thousand, my tightened storytelling all the stronger for it.

Today that process reminded me of the movie “The Birdcage” when a gay couple wants to please the son they raised together after his engagement to the daughter of a moralistic right wing senator. Before the main hijincks ensue, a group of drag queens work to transform the apartment of their boss and his partner/star performer. Val, the son, sees someone carrying in a moose head and implores them not to add, only to subtract.

I can’t resist sharing a favorite scene between the wonderful Nathan Lane and the late great Robin Williams. There is one expletive, but I consider it overall family friendly and work safe.

Have you seen “The Birdcage”? Gene Hackman, Diane Wiest, and Hank Azaria are just wonderful in it, too.


Friday, June 16, 2017

First Cucumber of the Season


Retired just over a year, my partner is excited to dig into vegetable gardening (pun definitely intended). At least I have some help this season.

Seeing the premier cucumber paraded in, I couldn’t resist taking a picture. My dirty mind saw beyond the dining potential.

I Know, Right? Cliché
But Makes My Mouth Water

Eyes rolling, my partner promptly made cucumber salad with a nice rice vinegar dressing. Guess what I’m having with lunch?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Darla’s Tips and Tricks

Years ago I bought a cool bracelet online - simple thin leather cords bound by a silver clasp. My favorite part might be the snug fit since I have such narrow wrists. This one won’t fall off and get lost. The sizing also caused a problem, however.

Many were the times I struggled to latch its clasp to the point of giving up and going out on the town without. Fast forward to a time when I accumulated a plethora of crafting materials like felt and pipe cleaners (there are various whimsical critters around the house as a result).

One day an idea popped into my head. Why not fold a pipe cleaner in two to get a grip on the clasp?

Success! Now it takes moments instead of minutes to don my bracelet. I wear it more than any other piece because black leather suits my taste and goes with anything.

Back in Black!
Do you have any similar tricks that make little tasks easier?


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lesson Learned

Note to self: don garden gloves before handling cucumber plants. Otherwise that invisible little scratch on the back of an index finger swells into a throbbing, itching little ache.

I should know better, not even walking the yard without full foot coverage.  Hurray for liquid bandage killing some of the urge to scratch and rub.

In honor of my stupidity I want to share the video matching my title, if not the content.

WARNING: Video is not safe for work (NSFW) or suitable for children. There is seriously implied violence, lots of nudity, and intense sexual content. Good stuff. ~grin~ Gotta love Alice in Chains videos.

Do you grow a summer vegetable garden? Are you like my partner anticipating lots of preservation canning?


Monday, June 12, 2017

The Zen of Writing

I have found rewriting and polishing the fifth story in my Blood Moon series slowing to a crawl the last few days. There seems to be some minor change in every single paragraph. Sometimes one edit informs another, earlier in the story, and I find myself going back and forth.

It’s not tedious, though. Rather, I feel like I’m shaping bonsai. I make a careful trim here, move a shaping wire a millimeter there, step back to take a look, and ease in for another snip.

By the time I got halfway through the novelette I removed over one thousand, one hundreds words, the storytelling tighter as a result. And with rewrites continuing in this Zen manner I expect to finish today and either move on to book six or resume the intensive revamping of book fifteen. We shall see.

However physically industrious or whimsically intellectual, is there a particular project absorbing you these days? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile I’m off to read chapter eleven!