Dog Training

Photo by Kelly Parker McPherson

Our new dog is way smarter than the beagle. We couldn’t get the beagle to do anything.

The new dog has been taught to sit, give paw, and to ring the bells on the door when he wants to go out. I am amazed at this. This is my second dog ever, and I am used to much more intelligent animals (cats).

He has also been training us. Training us to let him out of his crate when the cats’ food dispenser goes off in the morning. So much that we had to change the time of the dispensing so we weren’t wakened at 4:30. He’s been training us to give him belly rubs and bring him biscuits when we crate him.

I’m beginning to think that training is a two way street.

Photo by Kelly Parker McPherson


Catch More Flies with Honey

Photo by Anderson Mancini

There is an old saying: you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar. My mother used to tell me that whenever I would get salty and hand her attitude. I grew to understand that I should be nice to people when I wanted something – and then that extended later into a general courtesy. I’m not always perfect with this, but I do try.

There is a woman whom I know by sight. She has been a vocal proponent of some issues in an organization I belong to. And while I agree in principle with what she is saying, I don’t agree with her methods of accomplishing the aims, nor do I agree with her treatment of others.

This woman is a bully. And when she gets called on it, she retreats behind a label.

In some ways she reminds me of a student I had. I’ve talked about him before (Self Examination). He hid behind the gay label as an excuse to be a snotty rude asshole.

This woman was part of a committee who asked me to step aside in a related volunteer effort because apparently what I believe is embarrassing to them. She ejected another friend of mine, with similar beliefs, off of the committee they work on together with a flimsy excuse. I am struggling not to take offense at these blatant attacks on what we believe. Because we are a minority belief, we are being trampled. And it is okay because it is supposed to lead to a larger good?

And the bully, along with her cohorts, can’t see that they are doing to us exactly what they are protesting against in another group.

As a powerful civil rights leader said, “If we desire a society of peace, then we cannot achieve such a society through violence. If we desire a society without discrimination, then we must not discriminate against anyone in the process of building this society. If we desire a society that is democratic, then democracy must become a means as well as an end.” (Bayard Rustin)

As of now, I want nothing to do with her. I don’t want any part of anything she has a hand in.

This saddens me. I wish I could put my principles above personalities, but I can’t. That is my problem, I know, and it points to a character flaw on my part.

Had this woman applied a little honey, things would have gone much smoother.

Photo by Anderson Mancini

My Office

A few years ago my husband turned an unused walk-in closet into a writing studio for me.

It’s a snug littls place with sloped ceilings. I share it with the cats, but it is my refuge when I want to have time and space to concentrate for writing.

This year, after I completed NaNoWriMo, I was tired of how it was. So I pulled things out of their spots. I cleaned. I rearranged the furniture (as much as I could within the bounds of the room).

And then over winter break, I made it better.

I have a chair in my room that I use to read or relax with the cats. It didn’t have a footstool. So I bought a low one at IKEA and covered it with the bath rug that used to be the only covering on the floor. The old rug from our bathroom made it into the space, making the floor a lot less cold. I moved the bookshelves and cleaned off the top so the cats could look out the window. And I put away things on the horizontal surfaces.

For Christmas my husband bought me a single-cup brewer with a small footprint. My idea was to have it go into the bathroom, but this idea was met with resistance. So while at IKEA I bought a small stool/table and a place mat that fit perfectly, and put it in the corner of my writing room. One of my drawers was given over to K-cups and tea bags.

My office is now a place that I feel relaxed in. Before it was crowded and cluttered. Now it suits the purpose of the room, and I find myself spending time in there just as a sanctuary.

Finding A New Author

Photo by GoToVan

I’ve been reading a lot of trash. And while at one point in my life the term trash would have represented the genre of fiction known as bodice-rippers.

Now the term trash is referring to poorly-written and poorly-edited fiction that is popping up all over Amazon.

Don’t get me wrong: I love independent authors.

Those that do it right, with good writing and proper editing, are a joy to read.

Those that don’t, well, writing a book isn’t enough. It has to be edited, or at least run through the grammar checker of whatever word processor is being used.

But to consider, in the last few weeks I have run across books with the following:

  • “Her and Frank went into the garden” (the book was fine until this point, but this heinous grammar was repeated twice within the last two chapters of a whodunit. I didn’t read the rest to find out whodunit.)
  • “He pulled up his horse when the manor came into site.” (Kid you not, first 2 pages of the book. I didn’t read further)
  • The book where the main character, who was to become a duchess (“her Grace”) was named Grace and her husband kept calling her “Grace, her Grace.” (as if we’d forget)
  • The author whose books are well-plotted and exciting and cannot use a comma, to save, her, life, even where there is a need for one such as when she has a run-on sentence that has subclauses or a list of items like apples oranges and bananas.
  • The Regency romance where the main character said “okay” and “alright” and “maybe”
  • “But that is a hanging on a fence.” (Hanging offense? That’s what I had to take it as, and I chose not to find out of the hero was exonerated)
  • The first course was “pigeon bisk”. (What the hell is a bisk? Bisque? And who makes it out of pigeons? When you eat the bird, they are called squabs.)
  • Bestowing a title on someone who wouldn’t have one by birth (the daughter of a baron) or referring to a married couple as Lord Wainwright and Lady Mary. (Lord and Lady Wainwright!)

Then we have the author names. I refuse to read anything by an author whose names are made up from various characters of Jane Austen books. (Charlotte Darcy? really?)

And there are also those writers who are desperate to make it appear like they are more successful than they are: “The first amazing book by the new breakthrough author [x]” published by Createspace.

I have kept a list of books I have read consistently since 1992. Lately I consult the list to make sure a book I am considering is not one by an author that I have abandoned.

So I’m looking for a new set of authors to read. I enjoy romance, cozy mysteries and fantasy. Any suggestions are more than welcome…but please make sure these are commercial authors. I can’t take any more of the independent ones out there unless they have been thoroughly vetted.

Photo by GoToVan

The Last Jedi

Photo by abbamouse

A vendor bought my client tickets to see The Last Jedi the day it came out. Being the nerds that we are, we were excited to go.

As the day drew near, I realized I had a hair appointment the same day – an appointment I had scheduled months in advance due to the holidays. And I wasn’t about to give it up.

The client suggested that I go for a little while and leave. But that didn’t appeal. Who wants to watch part of a movie and then walk out? So I chose not to go.

Instead, I went to see the movie with my family in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

I have to confess I was disappointed.

I felt this movie was like The Empire Strikes back – a transitional movie that couldn’t stand on its own. In the Last Jedi there wasn’t enough of a character arc, nor a plot arc. And I hated what Luke Skywalker had become.

My daughter, on the other hand, loves the movie. She says that no Star Wars film has ever been terrible (but she hasn’t watched any of the ones with JarJar, either). She is swept away by the franchise and the overall sense of the movies.

So I agree to disagree. She is still trying to convince me of its excellence.

But I noticed in talking to those who are not die-hard Star Wars fans, the ones who really don’t know the plots backwards and forward, and who perhaps haven’t seen all of the other movies – they tell me that they really didn’t understand it. So I think my opinion is justified.

Maybe the next one will be better.

Photo by abbamouse

Sunrise at the Beach

This year I did something I’ve never done before – I went to the beach for sunrise.

It was a Saturday, and my daughter agreed to go with me for the promise of a breakfast out. One of my friends joined me as well. I checked the times, and we agreed to meet at the statue of King Neptune. It’s a public place, well lit, next to a hotel that is easily accessible.

As we drove toward the oceanfront, the sky was already lightening. Parking was easy, since there were few people down there, and I was able to find a spot in a ramp close to the hotel. Clutching a beach blanket, my coffee and a thick wool blanket that would break the wind, we went to meet my friend.

The beach was deserted, except for a few homeless people and a group of determined and over-enthusiastic runners. We sat down on the sand, wet from the night’s rain, and faced the east.

We talked of various things, but the peace of the time was pervasive. It felt like a respite in the craziness of the season.

At one point a pod of dolphins swam by, their fins just visible through the waves. Pelicans swooped south as well, skimming the waves and sometimes being hidden by a crest.

And then the sun popped up over the horizon. The clouds were pink and orange and purple and glowing with the sun. It was breathtaking.

Cold and Snow

Photo by aprilhansen1692

I live in a place specificially chosen because it does not get the cold and snow I experienced living on the Frozen Tundra.

It may get below freezing for a couple of days – maybe a week – during the winter, and if we have snow, it is one snowfall, and then we are done. (Although that one snowfall will bring the city to a grinding halt for up to a week, but that is another story).

We had a cold day last week. It didn’t get above freezing the whole day. Not a big deal, in my book. Our furnaces work well, and I have clothing.

My daughter does not know how to deal with it.

The first indication was the shout of “It’s snowing! It’s really coming down!” from upstairs. When I turned to the kitchen window, I could see no evidence of snow at first, but after about a minute, I saw a single flake float down. My daughter pelted downstairs to show me a video of the “really coming down” which showed flakes that you could see if you looked really hard against a dark backdrop.

Snowing, indeed.

Later we went to her piano lesson. She grabbed her winter coat (which is a true winter coat, purchased from a northern company) and slid into it. I put on my fleece, because 27 degrees is not enough to make me pull out the winter jacket for a short car ride.

When she got into the car she complained of freezing.

I looked over to see that she had no gloves or mittens on, no scarf, no hat…and her jacket wasn’t zipped.

I was perfectly warm in my fleece. I had no hand or head coverings either, but at least I had zipped up the jacket.

My daughter had talked about moving to the mountains when she is older. The 27 degree day convinced her otherwise. She said she would move to Georgia. I pointed out that they get snow there too, and it is even worse when it happens. She tossed out Key West, but then took it back after realizing the hurricanes go there for vacation.

At one point she looked at me and said, “Wisconsin must be hell.”

No, dear, hell is warm. There is no place of frozen ice in the Christian mythos.

Photo by aprilhansen1692