Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Camp, edits and balls

Trala runs screaming through the paper-lined paths. "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

"What the heck are you talking about?" Delilah asks, peering upward. "Holy crap. She's right. Run!"

Nekar stands his ground beside Ms. Wildstar. They both watch as a wad of cloth plummets to the floor. Nekar gives it a minute to settle before examining it closer.

"Why the mass of terrycloth?" asks Blue.

Ms. Wildstar shakes her head. "It's a towel."

Nekar extracts a crumbled post-it note from within the wad and straightens it. "She Who Taps the Keys has officially thrown in the the towel on Camp NaNo." 

Delilah creeps out from the paper wads. "She finished?"

Blue holds up his translator. "Perhaps you should get one of these." He sighs. "It's a phrase meaning-"

"What's on the post-it note?" asks Ms. Wildstar.

"Story titles." A steady whump, whump, whump sounds overhead.

Trala takes another hysterical lap. "The sky! It's falling!"

Blue snakes out a tentacle and trips her. He whistles to himself as he backs away. 

"Is she submitting again?"

"Five stories at once. Hence the juggling. If you hear any hint of swearing. Do run. Worse than the sky, balls will fall on your head."

Ms. Wildstar nods. "That explains the editing snow of random words that fell thickly over the weekend." 

Nekar reaches over to pluck a shred of paper from her hair. "Hey, you got a nod on you."

"Oh god, get it off!" She shudders. "They were everywhere! I thought I'd burned them all."

"We should make sure there aren't any more laying around. The damn things breed like dust bunnies." Nekar leads Ms. Wildstar into the pathways.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Still working on that New Year's Resolution

Back in those last few minutes of 2011, I pledged that this year I would embrace the word Less. I am pleased to announce another milestone in my efforts toward that end. This weekend I wrapped up my four year stint as a Girl Scout leader.
While there were some proud moments during those years, I can't say that this is something I'm going to miss terribly. It was something I let myself get roped into for my shy daughter's sake, and because I thought I could bring something to the program that our troop was missing - namely a craft lady and organization.

We've decorated and tool aprons,assembled hygiene kits, and this year, made blankets for a local women's support organization. We've made cards for service people and place mats for the elderly. We earned bunches of badges, sold car loads of cookies and went on some fun end of the year reward trips together. We hung out at a big mall and made Girl Scout build-a-bears. We went to a big water park where some of the girls had their first big night away from home in a pretty awesome hotel. We went camping, which many of our girls had never done. This year we went to a smaller water park and also went horseback riding, which, again, many of our girls had never done. We went roller skating and bowling discovered local art museums, pet stores, parks and countless other field trip locations.

These girls all went into this as girls who went to school together, but came out as friends. There were even some unlikely exchanges of phone numbers and promises of hanging out over the summer happening on the way home yesterday. I hope they follow through and look fondly on all the pictures they took together in the coming years.
Both of us current leaders are passing the torch to a new pair of brave souls. I wish the new leaders luck and patience.

Why wouldn't I miss what seems so sound rather like a warm-fuzzy-fest from this post?

No more pressure to attend the monthly leader meetings and no more planning meetings cramming into the frantic end of summer. Two less after school troop meetings a month - which also means no more last minute phone calls of:
- Did you get snack or do I have to?
- OMG! Do we have paperwork from everyone for this field trip today?
- I'm so far behind at work, I'm going to be late. Oh crap, you're going to be late too? Ahhh!

No more:
- Wading through piles of emails from the local leadership
- Feeling guilty that I couldn't squeeze more of the fun local opportunities for the girls into my schedule
- Filling out troop paperwork
- Having to run to the store to get last minute craft supplies for projects I didn't have time to set up because of work.
- Having to call thirteen parents to remind them of what their daughters need to bring to our next event.
- Composing last minute notes to send home to try to avoid those thirteen phone calls before an event.
- Waiting for twenty minutes at the end of every meeting for the same two parents who never remember to pick up their kids even though our meeting gets done at the same time every time.
- Dealing with other leader drama from the other troop at our school.

Yes it was fun, but it was a lot of work too. And so, with fond memories intact, I will undo a knot from my superwoman cape, allowing a little more neck room, and walk a few feet closer to the sunset.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Back to the Positive Side

The last thing I expected to see when I
looked out my second story window was a
groundhog staring back at me.
True Story.
It's been a busy week around here. The Family has been talked to about their dog. It seems the frolicking Great Dane wandering my yard was the perfect excuse to haul myself over there to speak to them. All is as good as it will get for now. Maggie is no longer left out for the entire day. So hooray on that front.

Someone got into my car Monday night and stole all of the cash out of my purse and all of the coins out of my daughter's purse (that I hadn't even realized she'd left in my car) thanks to us forgetting to shut the garage door overnight. *waves goodbye to hard-earned money and gestures to the thieving little punks that took it*

The charger for my laptop decided this would be a great week to die--thus completing the trifecta of suck. Good thing I have several other computers around here to fall back on in such emergencies. The new charger arrived yesterday so I'm back in business...and on the couch.

On a better note, I've got my summer family vacation all planned out. We're road-tripping to Yellowstone. Buffaloes and bears beware!

Camp NaNo has mostly been an utter failure on the actual writing front, but hey, I have been motivated to get last month's shorts into the jaws of critiquers, stories polished and suitable markets sought out for submissions.

Next week promises to be slightly better for writing as I won't have child transportation duties smack in the middle of my prime writing time. Wish me luck!

Monday, June 11, 2012

The dog saga continues

First I'd like to say that dear Maggie hasn't been on her front yard tether in two days for more than a couple hours at a time. So yay for that. Oh, and they've mowed. Woohoo!

In other events, I received an irate letter from the family today in the mail. Obviously Mr. Officer did absolutely nothing to attempt to cover events. AND he managed to get almost everything I said on the phone and to him in person wrong. Holy crap, is it really that hard? I swear I wasn't speaking in code or practicing my Klingon.

The dog is tied up outside for eight to ten hours a day with no shelter other than a tree. Her water bucket is tipped over every day so she has no water other than when they first put her outside (which I can't attest to because it's tipped over by the time I get up and see her outside) - and one day, no bucket at all. They come and go, but never check her bucket, even when it's plainly tipped over. The dog doesn't like being in the front yard, looks abused and shows major anxiety anytime someone walks down the street - which happens all the time.

So I get a letter explaining that Maggie eats five meals at day and is not underfed. If they leave food outside for her, she could get worms. The water bucket is there every day. It's behind the tree so it must be that I can't see it. So they'll put the bucket in front of the tree in plain sight for me. My dog is outside all the time and they don't know if it has water or food but they don't call the police on me. I should have just come over and talked to them or at least checked the situation for myself rather than calling the police right away.

Holy headdesk batman. I've gone over to try to talk to them about their dogs many times over the years. They don't answer the freakin door. I'm the one who has chased their dogs (sometimes three times a day) around my yard and put them back in their fenced in (albeit with broken slats) back yard - because Mr. Family, who is home during the day, is sleeping and doesn't answer his door. Ever wrangle a frolicking Great Dane who's bored and wants to play? It's gobs of fun, I tell you. I went over and gave their dog water for goodness sake.

My dog is out either with me or for less than half an hour at a time on his tether - which is not in the front yard and he has access to the door to let me know when he wants to come in and, yes, he has water both inside and out. That wasn't the point at all. The point was leaving the dog out all damn day with no water or shelter where she could feel calm and safe. But apparently that's really hard to convey so now I'll have to do that myself or just live with having irate neighbors that I already don't speak to.

There are days I really don't like people. This is one of those days.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Animal Control Fail

We interupt my frantic day and my stress over not having written anything in two days to bring you a rant on Animal Control and Stupidity.

There was a family who lived in a house with three dogs. A big dog, a medium dog, and a little dog. This family loved their newest big dog and didn't much care for the medium dog. They didn't care much for the little dog either, but this story is about the medium dog, we'll call her Maggie.

Maggie used to bark and howl and annoy the entire neighborhood until the family invested in a shock collar. The neighborhood was happy. The family was happy. Maggie wasn't so happy. In fact, Maggie acted like she'd been severely beaten and was extrememly aggitated anytime someone came near her- not violent, but very scared.

For whatever reason the family chose this week, they decided the front yard was a good place for Maggie. Not the backyard that's fenced in where the three dogs are usually kept. No sir, a tether on a tree in the middle of the yard. There, Maggie spent her day pacing silently, around and around the tree, backing away as far as her tether would allow any time someone walked down the street.

They neglected to give her water the first day. The second day they put out a black bucked in the nice warm sunshine for her to drink from. The third day, the bucket was knocked over from the night before so she had no water (though a neighbor brought her some). The fourth day, the bucket was back. The fifth day, a nice 84 degree day, nope, no water to be found.

The family tied Maggie outside at 8am and brought her in around 7pm every day. Other than those times, they ignored her completely. Even though she stood right next to the driveway where they came and went throughout the day, they didn't even bother to look her way.

A neighbor finally called animal control, explaining to the nice dispatch lady that this animal was being neglected, that it was hot and she had no water, that for a change, the family was home all day but still no one had come out to attend to Maggie in any manner. Other than the tree she was tethered to, Maggie had no shelter. Had a storm come while the family was gone all day (as they usually were), poor Maggie would be screwed. The neighbor explained that she wasn't on speaking terms with the family because they very rarely answered their door and they didn't treat their kids much better than Maggie (but that's another rant). As such, the neighbor would appreciate if the animal control officer could visit the family and inform them how to be decent people responsible pet owners. And no, please do not stop over afterwards and tell me how it went (who really wants this? Anyone? really?) If they felt they must call to explain how the issue was resolved, that would be fine.

And so it came to pass (five more hours with no water later), that the animal control officer drove down the street. Did he pull in to see the family with Maggie PLAINLY tied up fifteen feet away from the street right in the freakin middle of the yard? Oh no. He pulled in to ask the neighbor if she had a dog that she kept tied out all day. *headdeskfacepalmflailingfail*

Meanwhile, the family wrenched back their curtains and peered through their filthy, crayon-scribbled windows, across their foot and a half high lawn (except the circle that Maggie has trampled down), at the animal control officer talking with the neighbor. Subtle much (for everyone involved)?

Redirected (and seemingly not having consulted any of the information that the nice dispatch lady had taken), he drove the ten feet across the street and went to talk with the family. They didn't even bother to come outside, they spoke through a screen door. The animal control officer left a couple minutes later.

The result: Maggie is still outside on her tether without water (an hour after he's left) and it's pretty obvious to the family which neighbor called animal control on them.

Thank you, officer. You have been so damn helpful.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Crazy Cometh

From my yard: Sunbathing squirrel
"Nothing to see here. I'm just a shingle.
Move along."
"What is that tapping sound?" asks Ms. Wildstar.

Nekar cocks his head and listens. "I'd call it more of a banging."

Blue checks his shiny new translator and jabs a tentacle upward. "I'm getting a distinct Kablam Kablam Kablam."

"I'm pretty sure that's not a word," says Nekar.

"It might be. You don't know them all," says Ms. Wildstar.

"I've been keeping an inventory of everything that's fallen down here since I arrived. I've yet to see that one."

Blue rubs his bulbous head. "Please don't imply that this translator is also malfunctioning."

Ms. Wildstar gasps. "No. It can't be." She shrieks. "Oh great word processor save us! She's dancing with that nano zombie--remember that cute boy? Tyler, I think his name was. Didn't one of you take care of him, Nekar?"

"I thought we did."

Blue accesses his database unit. "Did you burn it? According to your all-knowing wiki-"

"We don't get access to wiki down here. That's for She Who Taps The Keys. But hey, what else does the all-knowing wiki say?"

"Nothing." Blue hides his database unit behind his back. "I must remember to keep my advanced knowledge from the locals. It causes nothing but problems. Rule one, Blue. Must remember these things." He slinks away.

Nekar watches Blue leave and scratches his chin. "What is going on on up there?"

"I think She Who Taps The Keys has lost her mind."

"Are those bruises on her forehead?"

Ms. Wildstar peers through a pair of binoculars. "It sure looks like it."

"Where the hell did you get those?"

"I uhh...found them." Ms. Wildstar darts into the mountains of crumpled paper.

"Will someone please tell me what is going on around here?" Nekar yells.

A post-it note flutters to the ground at his feet. June. Camp NaNo.

Friday, June 1, 2012

On your mark, get set, June!

Camp NaNo has arrived. I spent my first day working. Not even working on my computer where I could sneak in a lunch break of writing, but out doing vinyl installations. When I finally got back home after enough errands to make me dizzy, I still had to work until 10pm to catch up (sort of) from being out of the shop all day. So what do I do when I finally get time to write? Yeah, I create a regional camp logo because my work brain wouldn't shut off.

So what am I writing this month? Well, I fully admit I never intended to embark on a new novel. Instead, I plan on reaching my 50k by writing whatever project I'm working on that day. I know I can write a novel in a month. What I need to do is clean up some projects and finish them. So yes, I'm pretty much bending this challenge to my needs. I need to make time to write. That's the challenge.

First up is rewriting a couple opening chapters of Trust - the motivation hammer and the percolator aligned in a way that made the angels sing. Or maybe that was just my ears ringing... Either way, I've found a way to fix some issues I've been told where there and I knew were there, but I couldn't see around my baby to do what had to be done.

After Trust, the plan is to open the dusty file of Swan Queen and see if I can't find out where the hell that story was going. It needs the last third written and the rest needs revising. The poor novel is several years old and I don't know about you, but my writing style significantly changes over the years.

That should be enough to keep me busy for the month but if I hit a rough patch, the percolator is working on a short story set pre-A Broken Race, and I have a couple other short story starts from May and a failed YA short from two years ago that's been knocking at my creative doors with the invitation to get dark. I might have to RSVP to that.