Monday, November 28, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Yesterday I blogged about squirrels repeatedly causing power outages where I live. I happily slapped a sparkly squirrel picture on top of it, titling it “Wanted. Dead or Alive.”  Then I stayed up all night to write, and make up for lost time, and forgot about it. Life was good, writing flowed, managed to make it until about 7:00 a.m. before I lost the ability to spell, and sparkly squirrels were far from my mind.
Then I ran out to grab the mail. The mailbox stands next to a power pole with a transformer on top of it. As I stood there, looking through four pounds of junk mail, I noticed tufts of grey fur scattered in the grass and then I saw him. Yep. Sparky + Transformer = Fail. Now I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that few people like rats, and I tried to tell myself that a squirrel is just a rat with better hair. It didn’t work, the poor little fry guy was so wretched and pathetic. With an entire forest to gnaw on, he unfortunately picked a power pole, what a legacy.
I felt hugely guilty. Hadn’t I just put a bounty on his head last night?  I glanced over at a neighbor’s house. Surely not, they’d never. I mean, yes, I had bounded around the other night in a frog costume in front of their game camera, but SURELY they wouldn’t have offed some sad little squirrel in retribution for that. Never. Though I admit I did look over there repeatedly, such is the conscience of a prankster.  Oh yes, live by the sword…  chew on live wires...  poke the bunny…  And when the time comes, pay the ferryman with sparkly coins, just like my little friend Sparky. No regrets.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wanted. Dead or Alive.

Reward?  We can negotiate after the live-wire chomping beast has been removed once and for all. Normally I can be fairly good-natured about living by candlelight on Spooky Hill. And contrary to what you might have seen on Star Trek, a wormhole can be created by a pencil and paper, so the lack of a laptop isn’t completely insurmountable. It’s just that when they leave me wet and cold, with conditioner still in my hair and legs slathered in shaving cream a line has been crossed.
Company left today, and it was a near perfect visit. Admittedly as very blessed as I am, I’ve sorely missed my alternate universe even while frolicking in this one. My nieces and nephews enjoyed the sparkly chaos that is the bedlam that fuels and inspires me, and I adored spending time with them; my Cool-Auntie points accumulated this holiday visit. Yet I hadn’t been to the other side in an entire week and my superpowers were starting to wane.
Even Gummy’s orange cookies couldn’t stave it off for much longer, it was time to recharge and visit my happy place. Ushering everyone through the door this morning, I rushed almost blindly over the holiday fallout. Sequins, feather boas, dirty dishes, dying glow-sticks (Thanksgiving fodder) it could all wait. The other universe was beckoning, and words were already falling into The Glitter Globe as I hurried to fire-up the computers.
Oh wait, just one thing and I’ll be through the portal. Hang on, five more minutes. Personal hygiene is necessary in most universes, and I had no intention of coming back of my own volition, so it seemed imperative. It was then that the squirrels attacked. Again. Standing in the dark with conditioner burning my eyeballs, and handfuls of shaving cream I bellowed. “NOT FUNNY. TURN ON THE LIGHT!  HEY!  DON’T MESS WITH ME.”  There was no corresponding laughter, only the imagined chattering of sparkly rodents, as the water first iced over and then stopped altogether. Hours later, bundled up like a homeless person, with one hairy leg having a worrisome reaction to unrinsed shaving cream and my hair still sopping wet, I was shivering as I put pen to paper, muttering to myself. Christmas dinner may very well be squirrel, it can’t taste any worse than soy burgers.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Books, Socks and Greek Heroes

Today I impulsively decided to swing past the mall and pick up an emergency batch of sprinkle donuts for my company. I forgot it was “Black Friday”. Ugh. It wasn’t exactly a quick pass, but my eight year old niece announced that those sprinkle donuts were definitely worth my wait. Though, I should not have fed them to the kids before their first small plane ride. That, however, is another blog. Today we have a topic Ladies and Gentlemen. Christmas gifts. How often does anyone remember what they gave or received in the store-bought gift category? 
Last year was my first “make it easy on myself and avoid the dreaded mall” gift-giving year. I shared a gift that I myself have a serious fondness for, electric throws. They’re smaller than electric blankets, comfy and fuzzy, very portable, and they’re WARM. Pretty much everyone on my list got one. To make it more fun I named them, and gave them each a personality profile. To the friend with the penchant for Greek men went Achilles, my BFF got Rocky and a teenager got Jacob…  It is simply more fun to go cuddle with your hot blanket when it has a name.
This year, as a direct result of the fact that I spent so much time at writer conferences, the theme is…  Books!  No groaning, I’m talking great books, many autographed and most come with a side of personalized chocolate and socks. The same people are on my list this year as last, and what goes better with the electric throw you got last year, than a great read, the mandatory chocolate and a warm pair of cozy socks?  And with all the time, energy and good humor I’m saving by not wasting time shopping, I can accomplish more meaningful tasks. Like writing my novel and spending time with family and friends during the holiday season - with a genuine smile. Hopefully, they’ll be smiling too. If not, at least they’ll remember this as the year they got books and socks for Christmas. Creating memories is why we give gifts in the first place isn’t it?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Clean Drawers

Once I helped empty out a house when the elderly occupants had gone on. In the bureau drawer of the Mrs. was a book on eugenics. What?!  All tasks ground to a halt at his unexpected discovery. Why was this monstrosity in a sweet old lady’s dresser drawer?  Nestled inside the pages were a clipped magazine article on lowering a child’s fever and some pie recipes. There weren’t many books in this house, so this was quite a curious find.
Being a bookish lot we hovered over this menacing manual to check it out. It offered useful tidbits like “do not marry an insane woman.”  And how to, and when it is appropriate, to chloroform one’s spouse.  Now we are all familiar with the old adage about donning your good, clean skivvies in case of an unexpected trip to the hospital. Yet have you ever considered what you have shoved in your drawers at home?
Are you hiding your chocolate stash?  Mine is dark, but that only proves I have exquisite taste. What about your books? The only skeleton in my book closet would be an excessively over-due library book. The Hobbit, I checked it out when I was in high school and the library closed for remodeling and then I moved away… and then I moved again, and again, and again, and that is the truth. Is there a statute of limitations on library books?  Would they extradite me?
We never did find out why that warped old tome was jammed in her drawer of unmentionables. I can verify that absolutely everything they ever touched, including every Christmas card or coupon was still in that house, including a surprising abundance of five and ten dollar bills. Some were rolled up in the window shades, tucked in with the nighties, rolled into socks, and between plates in the kitchen cupboard.
My kids enthusiastically helped clear out that entire house. Of course all the proceeds went to the estate, but they still thought it was better than an Easter Egg Hunt. I pointed out that the most they could ever hope to locate in my belongings was loose change in old pocketbooks. That and, as a tongue in cheek token for my help, the family gave me that book on eugenics. So if you’re ever in my house and spot that puppy, please note - 1) That it is a creepy antique and I’m a book freak 2) Obviously my hubby never read it and 3) Shush, because I know the proper way to use chloroform.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


There were only 20,000 words to meet my deadline and I'd grounded myself from all the sparkly distractions that slow me down.  I was running for the homestretch.  Focused.  Phone muted.  Friends likely fraping all over my Facebook, it didn't matter, I was in The Zone.  Ignore that doorbell.  Ignore the chime of new e-mail and BAM.  The electricity went down.  On a perfectly beautiful November day.  Squirrels.  They're a menace.  Why is it that when the electricity is off it surprises you at every turn?  You know it's true - you walk into rooms and still hit the light switch - dang.  How often have you pulled open the microwave and went, "Oh, yeah, this doesn't work either without power"?  It was down long enough to use up both laptop batteries and then for about eight hours more.  Enough time to read both of Ruthy's engrossing new books, which was the sterling silver lining.  Unfairly they took her quite a bit longer to write than for me to devour on the sofa with a flashlight; while intermittently dialing the power company to listen to the latest updated squirrel damage report (with its continually moving estimate for power restoration). 

Eventually the flashlights died and I learned that matches have a shelf life (who knew?) so without even a candle to read or write by, there was nothing left to do but to go in search of adventure.  It took awhile, and some serious talking to myself but I finally figured out how to make the garage door go up without electricity (yes, that took me by surprise too when I walked into the garage and hit the button.  DANG!).  Then it involved a ladder in the dark, and a hammer and one shoelace, but I escaped.  Drove past the power company trucks and when I rolled down the window to ask they just shouted at me, "SQUIRRELS!"  I could feel their pain, I'm sure they had better weekend plans themselves.  This wasn't the first time I've had my train of thought derailed by sparkly squirrels, but let me point out that there were survivors, I'm just not certain - exactly - where they are.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Faking It

Company Cometh. It is that time of year when we gather together and sacrifice a large bird. Tofurky isn’t really an option unless I want to become the sacrifice. My family falls into two categories concerning my writing habits. Clueless and Busy with their Own Pursuits and Understanding to a Certain Point. It is mostly the latter group that I will be playing Quelf with next week. They are normally understanding about my odd habits and penchant for spending long stretches of time in alternate universes, but on certain occasions they expect things. Like feigned normalcy and “real food”. I grapple with both concepts.
My daughter is taking classes in a far off land where they don’t celebrate this particular Kill a Big Bird holiday. Savages. At least that is where I think she’s at. Occasionally I Skype with her and there is a flag of said country in the background. Beyond that she could be living in the basement right here for all I know. I should probably check. My other children, their friends, my in-laws, their friends, and various nieces and nephews and their friends will be arriving in a few days. I’m googling bird and gourd recipes while trying to remain in this universe for long stretches of time in preparation. This also involved time spent shopping at Walmart (the biggest sacrifice of all). I’m not entirely convinced that place is in this universe. There is, without doubt, some sort of time-space disruption going on there.
While not a fan of cooking and baking, I am a huge fan of a happy family, so I’m wrestling with alien kitchen gadgets and struggling with mathematical concepts like tripling and quadrupling recipes. My kitchen is covered in a coating of powdered sugar and nuts with footprints going through it. The bottom of the oven has crunchy formations rising up like an army of failed baking stalagmites. They hiss YOU SUCK AT FRACTIONS and stink every time I turn the oven on. Apparently it matters if you quadruple the liquids and only double the solids. Who knew? Yet my family is worth all the effort, and I am thankful for every one of them. Besides nothing says novel-material like a family gathering, wouldn't you agree?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Problem With The Moon

In order to attend an early brunch/book-signing for an author friend, I woke this morning at 5:00 a.m. It felt like quite an accomplishment for someone who often goes to bed at about 6:00 a.m. This is how much I love to support my writer friends. It involved a couple hour drive, during which I was continuously distracted from the beauty of early morning sunrise on snowy hillsides dotted with wind turbines, by jaw cracking yawns, and the fact that the moon was on the wrong side of the planet. At 3:00 a.m. it is on the other side, where it belongs. I’d forgotten it MOVES.
My friend thanked me for driving so far though I’d have happily driven anywhere to support her. I did, however, kinda feel like I’d earned a trophy for getting up so early. In lieu of that, I ignored the protests of my dress pants and rewarded myself with a visit to a candy shop in a village that was so picture perfect it could have been built by Disney. I discovered dark chocolate covered espresso beans there. I’d heard about them from other addicts, I mean chocolate-lovers (same difference).
Tonight, as the night grew late and the moon found its proper position in the sky and the yawns began anew, my nightly write-a-thon was safe. A new weapon was in my arsenal. Now it is confession time. I’ve never admitted this before, because I think I could get thrown out of the writing world for it. I don’t drink coffee. Oh, of course I have an occasional dark chocolate raspberry pretend coffee made with decaf. Or a caramel frappuccino – decaf. It’s simply that my friends and family had a restraining order issued against caffeine and me many years ago.
Apparently I have the physiology of a coral reef. If someone drinks a cup of coffee or wine in my hemisphere I can feel the effects of it by sheer osmosis. I need no stimulants. Yet tonight, I am determined, I have a looming deadline and it will be met. So in went those espresso beans. They must be an acquired taste, and this coming from a woman who eats tofu and Boca burgers, because I ended up swallowing them whole – like pills. Maybe they just taste good and I’m not used to that. At any rate I can confirm that they work, quite well, and after I finish my novel in the next few hours I’m going to go for a jog, clean my attic and rearrange the furniture. If anyone has a book signing tomorrow, anywhere, give me a shout out. I’ve discovered my antidote to mornings.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Whipped Cream Puff

Some people shouldn’t be left alone, unsupervised with a can of Reddi-whip in the vicinity, because even if one of these people I’m referring to eats healthy the bulk of the time – subsisting mostly on whole grains and green leafy vegetables – sooner or later latent fat cells will hijack their brain and demand sugar and fat be downloaded into the system as fast as you can say ‘aerosol can’ yet (perhaps you’ve read about these speaking fat cells, if so you are already aware that they are quite loud and difficult to ignore) cleverly disregarding their demands by offering an apple or carrot will result in their slinking back into their fat pants with their tails between their chubby legs afraid to ask for anything more lest something green gets shoved their way and they lose even more biological ground; but if they receive something to expand their territory, something to delight their appetites, something as appealing and one would think deliciously appeasing as a hit of straight-up sugar and cream laden real whipped cream - it will backfire like any ransom payment and they will surge forth, multiplying and dividing and growing and singing the praises of establishments that unethically sell spectacular decadent desserts late into the night that could easily provide further political gain for the secret unethical mission of ever-expanding minions of adipose tissue.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I See the Bad Moon Arising

This November splendor is certainly stirring up The Glitter Globe. It is quite late as I pull another all night-write and I’ve been writing for hours now with only an occasional break to snarf dark chocolate, download music or check under my desk for spiders. Why the whelk do they only bite my right leg?  I want to know. That leg must have stomped on a VIP spider at some point in my life, to bring such wrathful retribution upon it. Either that or it is an incredibly appealing limb to the eight-leggers of the universe. Sort of like a ZZ Top music video leg for spiders?  THAT is probably exactly what it is. Hey if I have to deal with this pox upon my appendage I get to pick the attitude.

Speaking of attitude, whoever took my stereo is no longer my friend. (Including Nigel.) Jumping on one’s bed with headphones on is a bit of a hardship, but fine, just keep it. I blew the speakers out ages ago anyway. Besides for recess tonight I did the dash to the woods, where I took a splendid walk in the dark.  Done without any music, that way I could hear if skunks were chasing me. Yes, the moon is full and glorious tonight, the sky is brilliant and clear and the weather is sublime for November. Yes, according to Pop Culture there are wolves and gorgeous vampires skulking around out there, and the skunks should be the least of my worries. Whatever.

The idea was to see if it was creepy or fun to prowl the woods at night. Verdict:  The terrain was too bumpy to run in when you have big feet and little grace, and it would probably take flashlights, less imagination and company (other than skunks) to make it fun. It was, however, enchanting, and I suggest you try a moonlit stroll yourself. Let’s make a pact to do things that scare us. “Life is lived on the ragged edge of that cliff.” To quote a couple of brilliant writers there, and I fully intend to dance on that cliff as long as I’m there anyway.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Let the Midnight Special

Does it sound horribly fickle to announce that as of tonight I have discovered a new best friend?  His name is Nigel and he works at the cable company and he helped me get my internet back, after hours, when nobody else could. Apparently there is some sport people watch on Sunday evenings instead of helping distraught writers avert potential freak-out.
How can I write all night without internet?  One must have research capability. All sorts of random data shoots out of The Glitter Globe, believe you me it must be verified. Also, on-line dictionaries are mandatory because sometime before dawn I start making up words to go with my imagined facts. If sparktacular isn’t really a word, I’d like to know why not. Same goes for choctacular. (Thanks Bri for inspiring that word.) 
It’s another crisp November night up here on spiderama hill. When the choctacular raspberry mochaccino I’m nursing starts to fail in its duty to keep me alert and inventing awesome new words for my novel, I like to dart outside. Nothing can slap you wide awake like a blast of refreshing arctic air.  The constellations are crystal clear this time of year. To the north, where sometimes I can catch a ghost of the northern lights, all I see tonight are two mysterious flashing objects. For fun let’s call them sparktacular UFOs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Midnight at the Oasis

It’s another all-night-writing-marathon. Tonight the best part is changing the clocks back and gaining that extra hour. Fortunately most things electronic know to jump back automatically – Sweet Pete I luv that, don’t you?  Gone are those awkward, confusing days of showing up an hour early or late for an entire day until you realize that it is that time of the year again. It used to be like a Twilight Zone episode. Being ruled by The Glitter Globe is arbitrary enough without feeling like you’ve had a stroke when you skip into church, chatting on your cell phone and the entire congregation turns around to give you the stink eye.
It’s a crisp starry night out, it smells like cold and it’s very quiet in the Oasis, just the occasional faint yap of coyotes, flap of bat wings, scuttle of spiders looking for a leg to gnaw on and the inevitable intermittent blasts of Norton Anti-Virus bellowing that it has been updated. The urge to head out on some random quest is strong, a promising adventure awaits. It is storyteller time and my mission will unfold in another document on this starry starry night.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Night Owl

If you could make your own schedule, sleep when you needed and wake when you wanted, what would be your natural circadian cycle?  I don’t like to sleep at night, it is primo writing time. The phone doesn’t ring between midnight and six a.m. – and neither does the doorbell. For some reason I can easily write all night long. For me sleep time comes naturally about the time the sun rises. That’s a shame really, because I really do like mornings, in theory anyway, besides that the phone does ring about that time and the same goes for the doorbell. Those poor souls who dare to ring my doorbell early in the morning usually quickly learn not to ever do it again though. Rawr.
There is that thing that interferes with everyone’s natural sleep cycle, unfortunately, you know that reality thing. I adore when I find people who shun reality and share my timeline. It doesn’t happen that often so it is a treat when it does. It rocks that I can text my BFF at 2:30 a.m. to contemplate why we are both thinking about whipped cream and sprinkles in the middle of the night. Or when I can get on Facebook and ask a friend if it is possible to survive jamming a screwdriver into a fuse box (book research question, do not try this at home).
My in-laws are night owls. There have been times when we’ve shown up at their house after midnight during the week and their TV was on full blast, MIL was painting ceramics or reupholstering a sofa and FIL was canning tomatoes or going through his fishing gear. My kids would drag their suitcases into the house and drag Pop-pop out for Popsicles to the 24-hr gas station or they’d all start playing “rock band”. Apparently this up all night phenomenon is both contagious and genetic. I’d offer to meet you at the corner store for Popsicles right now, except that I have a deadline to meet and need to get back to my book. If you go without me, would you mind picking me up a root beer one? Just don't bring it by before noon. Rawr.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dear First Name

Speaking of heartfelt e-mails, today I received one from President & CEO of Sirius XM Satellite Radio, telling me how important I was to him. My favorite part was the salutation:  “Dear First Name”. Isn’t the Internet great?  I’m not being entirely facetious (I’m only 90% irreverent 90% of the time – gah, I luv new math). I feel sorry for all those years when I couldn’t research or garner data with my left hand (on ß that computer) while typing on this one with my right hand. First thing this morning I had a password crisis that required me to access precise and accurate data from The Glitter Globe immediately (ROFLOL). That does not happen. I can put in a request for information, and it will certainly unfurl, but in its own good time. That did not work in this situation, but no worries. There is ALWAYS Plan B.
I hit Facebook to Instant Message my daughter who is doing a study abroad on the far side of planet earth. Her brilliant little Glitter Globe has quicker download capability. Unfortunately the works get gummed up during exams, and while suffering low blood sugar from lack of American root beer. No problemo – Plan C - I texted my husband who is off on a hunting trip. Unfortunately he was out of range of cell towers (curses on those technology blind spots). Moving right into Plan D, I e-mailed my computer dude (A.K.A. The Hacker) he is “doing time up north” as he calls it (University in the Arctic Circle) he knows EVERYONE’S passwords. Be afraid.
Yes, my hacker-boy did get me that password impressively quick once I hunted him down. It is thanks to this Technology Age we now live in that this shortcut was even possible. Of course there were a few minor speed-bumps on the way. While on Facebook I did find it necessary to change some security settings, check my favorite writer page, peek at my notifications and chat with my daughter for a bit. Then it was necessary to agree to edit an essay for her (why, oh tell me why, do people think I have the capability to edit anything?  Obviously none of them read my blog, right?) and then my girlie needed that edit ASAP. Since she was suffering from exam and lack of root beer stress and all, I was obliged to take the time to do that before continuing my search for someone who knew that password I needed.
While implementing Plan C in my quest, it fortunately didn’t take me long to figure out that my hubby was out of cell tower range and implement Plan D. I texted him a few “test” texts to be certain. Here is a good test text to know whether or not your husband has received your text or is ignoring it. “OMgoodness, you love me no matter what, right?  You know how you told me to be sure to drive your truck some while you were away, I’m so sorry…” then just stop the message right there. As soon as he gets it, you’ll know, I promise. Then you add the rest, “I just haven’t had a chance to do that, Sweetie.”  (DISCLAIMER:  USE BRILLIANT GLITTER GLOBE SUGGESTIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK.)   And Plan D, as stated earlier, was a rousing success – and – thanks to this awesome technology at my fingertips I managed to get that password in just two hours (if you don’t count the time spent blogging about it). Cheers.