Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fa-la-la-la-la....

As usual, I am not bouncing and giggling my way into the Christmas season. Part of that is because I work in retail, and the season is more of a hurricane than a spiritual experience. It's not as crazy as it may be in a mall, so the customers I encounter aren't the frazzles crank-pots you may expect. But, boy howdy, there are a lot of them! My saving grace is that as a cashier, I'm always at the right end of the line up.

Perhaps part of it is the music. The same pre-fabricated feel-good bullocks year after year by a new batch of has-been artists trying to cash in.

Another root to my hum-bug is that I was 3000 kms from home (about the distance from Buffalo to Seattle, for my US readers, or from Portugal to Moscow for the Europeans.) for my early adulthood. My Christmas plans usually included laundry. Just as often, I would spend Christmas with the families of different friends. These turned out to be nice experiences, but they always started awkwardly.

Now that I have a family of my own, it's easier to get into the spirit of the season. By the 23rd, anyway. My wife seriously enjoys entertaining, so there's always the get-the-house-in-order project. I am really thankful to my mum-in-law for taking Chickerdoodle for a few hours, so we can really power through it, with both hands! (I've become pretty dexterous with one hand – FOR CHORES! Grow up!)

In slightly-related, the season has really brought to light what a “Dad” I've become. Several times, my wife asked what I want for Christmas, and I just shrugged and said “Dunno. Chapters card and a bag of Starbucks beans?” (“Chapters” is a Canadian version of Barnes & Noble.) While I am quite OK with that, the other example of Dad-ness was more disturbing. I made a pun. It was a good pun, but a pun none the less, and I hand my head in shame. Something about after eating Mom's turnip casserole (it's a lot better than it sounds), and keeping tight control at work, 'cause the gossips at work enjoy a “ripe tale.” (“ripe tail?”) Point being, most puns are really, really bad, especially the one's from newscasters, and I've never been shy about railing about it. Then my wife called me on my pun, and I had to admit: I made a bad “Dad Joke.” Someone please promise me, if I ever sit down to a family dinner and say “So, what are you all going to eat?” that you'll put a bullet through my head.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Another First.

When people talk about their kids, it's often about the firsts. You know, the first steps, first words, first embarrassing words in front of the in-laws (“She didn't learn that word from ME! I'm not even sure what that is!”). The first time a colon-blow escapes the diaper.

Last week, I had a rather unpleasant first. You see, it's all about the climbing. She finds the new perspectives exciting, and there's so much to discover, right in the rooms that she's always known. For instance, we were keeping a cooler in the kitchen (we need a new fridge...), and she triumphantly climbed it to find what was on the kitchen island. What held her attention for a remarkable amout of time was a little ceramic jar that we keep garlic in (That's my girl!). She would pull out a clove, then another. Then put them back in. Then pull them out again, taste one, then put them back in the jar. This amused her for about fifteen minutes. No lie, we made a note for Christmas. OK, we're not really giving her garlic for Christmas, but the “fifteen minutes” part is true.

Then she lost her footing. She smacked her mouth on the corner of the kitchen island, and cut the gum over her top front teeth. Naturally I grabbed her up and cuddled her, thinking that she had startled herself, and maybe had a bruise. At this time, Andrea was upstairs getting her hair done for her Christmas party by our friend Michelle. At first, Andrea wanted to run when she heard the cry, but Michelle said “Don't worry, I'm sure Will has a handle on it.”

It was about this time that I found blood on my shirt. My baby's blood, on my white shirt. It spelled out the words “You are an awful father, and should be disemboweled for your crimes, and your name should never be spoken by civilized folks again.”

What my wife heard was “Oh shit! Andrea!” There was enough of an edge of panic in my voice that Andrea came rushing downstairs, bowling over our friend. Doctors say that Michelle should be walking unassisted again by spring.

As I initially suspected, she was fine in minutes, smiling and cooing at the parent she hadn't seen in an hour, with blood smeared on her cheek. We got her cleaned up and her mouth rinsed out, and found that it was a really small cut.

At the Christmas party, all of the other parents said that it would be the first of many. One mother asked “Who was on duty?” She had a story of when her husband was 'on duty' that involved a garage door. I felt a little better.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Did It, And I'm Back!

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure that I was going to make it, but on the morning of the 30th, I hit the magic 50, 000-word mark.

Twice in November, I fell behind. Once, early on when we were entertaining one night, and later in the month when I was burnt-out and had to work early the next day. But my typing has gotten a lot faster, and getting the flow from my head to the screen has gotten better. And I had a bag of Starbucks beans. That helped with my late nights.

The first night was the hardest, mostly because I picked a difficult topic. For the Prologue, I wrote from the mind of Gaia, the World Soul, of how divisions came into existence. It was kinda epic, and grand, and beyond my reach, but I pulled it off. My mom-in-law tried to read it, and got hung-up on the word “Monad.” I still haven't found anyone who knows what a Monad is, so it looks like I'll either have to define it in the text (awkward!) or edit it out.

Mostly, I have my wife to thank. She was so supportive, and handled a lot of bath times with the snookerdoodle so I could get a few more words out. She was very understanding of me staying up late, and even put off watching the third season of True Blood to wait for me to finish. That may have been the most painful part, and she truly is a trooper for waiting!

I met some really interesting people at the Write-Ins, but had to miss the last one, as I had to work (Grr!) Hopefully they'll be back next year. Of course, I'll have to put that decision, 'cause you never know what life will throw you, but it looks promising!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tick, tick, tick GO!

Are you excited? I'm excited. Two more sleeps 'till NaNoWriMo. Well, excited and pretty intimidated.

I've got part of my NaNo kit together. I've got the memory stick I need to transfer my work from my netbook to the main computer so I can print it off & my wife can follow along. She's pretty excited to track my progress. I've been storing-up podcasts from my favorite podcasters for inspiration, and I've been listening to “B-Listers” leading up to November. (they aren't inferior podcasts, they just aren't as relateable to my work.) And I've got my vitamin B.

Yet to get: Ginko Baloba, which is supposed to be a mental pick-me-up. I may need another ink cartridge for my printer. And a bag of Starbucks beans. Can I get a “Hell Yeah”? Perhaps another writing magazine for inspiration.

Another helpful idea I heard was to have a book from an inspirational author (George RR Martin in my case) and a book by a lackluster author, so after ten minutes with it, I can say, “Well, I certainly can do better than this!” I need not mention that author.

One more tip: Summer Ross will be posting prompts for us all, 'cause Lord knows that we're all gonna get stuck!

Yesterday, I found a pre-NaNo gathering in my town, so I went to meet some other participants. I also have a friend at work who's participating, so I dragged her along. We met some great people, one who's writing similar stories, and one who isn't, but who's well-versed in the legends I'm basing my story on. Sweet, and sweet! We're getting together again on Tuesday for a write-in at the same place, the manager of Casa Cappuccino is tickled pink!

It was the last minute that I firmly decided to go, since my darling Snookerdoodles had me up at 3:30. I wish that was a typo, but no, it was oh-dark-hundred, alright. By the time she finally settled, it was less than an hour before my alarm was due to go off, so I just stayed up. Yay. But I made it, and met some great people, and hopefully, we'll have a bigger turn-out on Tuesday. Good times! And just a little “eep.”

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I Can't Believe It's Been 12 Days...

There really hasn't been a whole lot going on here. Well, there's been plenty, and it's been exciting after a fashion, but nothing that makes good writing.

I get up when the monitor squawks. Pee, brush my teeth, and get Snookerdoodles a clean diaper. Feed said Snookerdoodles. Actively feed the eggs/waffle/pancakes/French toast/oatmeal, then let her feed herself with the Cheerios while I write what I can, usually about 100-150 words, all while listening to Tool, Velvet Revolver, Soundgarden or Johnnie Cash. She's my little head-banger!

I finally got formally set-up for NaNoWriMo. Turns out that there's 94 participants in my area! A little surprising, since our population is about 225 000; not a huge city. On our region's message board, a few people were saying “...we should have a write it!” With no suggestions, I suggested a time and place. We'll see what happens with that.I've “Buddied a few of you on the NaNo site, but if there's any others, by all means, let me know.

I think that the hardest part will be turning off the “Inner Editor” to just write. I'm always checking the Spell Check, and pausing to refine my work, and it slows me down Not this time; I'll trudge along, typos and all!

I had to set up a new email account to register with NaNo, because MSN are being douche bags! I'm locked out unless I provide a cel number for them to send a code to. Well, fuck you, fuck you very much, they don't need that!

Wish me luck, and best of luck to all of the other participants! Cheers!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A new reason to make myself scarce.

Many of you will be aware of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. In November, writers from all over the world try to write a 50,000-word novel. Sounds daunting, but lots of people do it.

I first heard of it last year, about this time when some of the Bloggers I read were gearing-up for it. I was not ready for it, and I'm still probably ill-equipped, truth be told. But I read a post at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash that totally put a bug in my ear about it, right after a friend at work asked if I was going to do it. That day, I was working in a brain-dead department, so I had lots of time to mull over the idea. By the time I got home from work, I was ready to start outlining.

My current WiP was originally conceived as a trilogy, and as I wrote-on, it became more clear that I was working on Book 2. What I'm thinking is that I can spend November working on Book 1, so I'll have the basis for my present WiP, and it can flow better.

This fits well with my original plan. You see, the problem that I have with Fantasy books is that they're often written as a series. If I love a book, it could take years for the next installment. With this in mind, I wanted to have Books 1 & 2 ready when the first one was released, and a rough draft of Book 3. That way, it will be less than a year before the next book is out. It's all about doing for my readers as I would have my favorite authors do unto me. ;)

I guess what I'm driving at is this, I won't be around much in November. I mean, my Blogging has been pretty sporadic since Andrea went back to work, but I've done what I could to visit at least a few Blogs a day. That may fall by the way-side for November as well. Every minute that I can write – even one-handed, as I usually comment on your Blogs – gets me closer to the goal. When I figured out the daily count, the calculator divided it to 1666.66666(etc.). That made it pretty easy to remember. I'll need to find one of those widgets that plots your Work In Progress as a percentage now!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bad News Blogfest.

Welcome to my slightly-belated entry to the Bad News Blogfest, hosted by Francine at Romancing the Blog My apologies, but the time I had set aside to write this was spent in the Emergency Room with my baby's 103-degree fever. Apparently, it's nothing serious, but it took us nearly five hours to find that out. We didn't get home until about 12:30.
For this entry, I offer a segment from the third thread from my story, the spy who's trying to unite separate factions against the Evil Empire. Enjoy.

Yalip never liked to be kept waiting, so the three-days delay in hearing from Pledis had set her nerves on edge. They had learned a great deal – she and her two collaborators – in their time in the port of Manos, but time was short, and she had hoped for news much sooner. By the time Ansel came with the summons, her foreboding was palpable.

As they wove through the Market, Ansel betrayed nothing. Yalip had no doubt that He knew what she wanted to hear, but the young apprentice knew that it wasn't his place to deliver news. The way to the Alchemists shop was a convoluted one, through alleys, shops, and yards of livestock, all to thwart pursuit. Most such shops dealt in innocuous tinctures, and the ones that dabbled in the unapproved potions had to be more subtle.

When they finally arrived, Pledis' face was a mask, giving away nothing. “Step into the back with me, dear,” he offered. Yalip's stomach dropped into her slippers.
Tea had been steeping, since he expected her this time, and Pledis always tried to be a good host. Going straight to the pouring, he began. “I'm afraid the news isn't good. The Hadenatus Gypsies have declined to escort you the the mountains.”

Yalip's jaw clenched, and her hand tightened on her cup until it trembled, rippling her tea. “Tell them I'll pay double. It is crucial to reach those mountains.”

“It isn't the coin they refuse.” Pledis rheumy eyes were firm and sympathetic. “They simply won't venture to those mountains. They aren't persuaded by your cause, or anyone's cause, and they don't wish to get involved with The Ibis.”

Yalip sat bolt-upright, and nearly dropped her cup. “You told them who I was?” Her voice was barely less than a shout.

Pledis' voice took a quieter edge. “One doesn't deal with Gypsies with falseness. We share a currency of trust, and should they learn of your identity mid-journey, it would surely cost you your life.”

“Forgive me. Protecting my privacy is an old, deep habit.”

“I understand. They suggested that the Thelema Gypsies have dealings with the people you seek. They may be met at Darden. I've spoken to a Corsaire who's sailing on the morrow for that very region.”

Yalip leaned back with a resigned sigh. “Darden is crawling with Atlanteans, but if that's are best hope...”

“It may be.” The old Alchemist had always done what he could for Yalip, and he was just as disappointed that it couldn't be more. “These things always work out for the best.”

“Sometimes I envy your faith. Usually, I'm inclined to make my own luck. I appreciate your arrangements, and gladly accept. Please tell the Hadenatus that I don't begrudge them their decision, and wish them well.”

“I certainly will,” Pledis said with a wrinkled smile. “In the mean time, you have a voyage to prepare for.”

“We've been ready for three days. But if you have anything to help with sea-sickness, I'd be glad to have it. Von doesn't enjoy the Sea.”

“I have just the thing...” Pledis always did.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Calli's One!







The first pictures are at home, when we got speghetti & lasagna from Andrea's favorite restaurant.

Tuesday the 21st was our darling girl's first Birthday. As Andrea said, “Somebody, on some plane of existence, thought it would be a good idea for us to have a child.”

She's started walking, though crawling's faster, so, in the spirit of efficiency, I'm sure, she still crawls when there's somewhere she really wants to be. She's also started imitating speech. Her current favorites are “Ha ha ha” from a story we read her, and “Oh Yeah.” Awesome. Occasionally, we'll get “Poopy,” “Allah” and “Buday” (Spell Check isn't helpful on that one. It's that toilet-fountain meant to replace shit-tickets.) We've decided that it's time to retire the “F-Bomb,” and other offensive words, 'cause you just know she won't repeat them until she's in the situation that would most embarrass us. Like meeting one of my super-sensitive bosses and saying “Fucktard” or “Oyster Rose.” Oh yeah, I went there.

On Sunday, we had her first Birthday Party (Thanks again mom-in-law for hosting), and she got her own cake. We were sure she would make a mess of it, and she did, but not half as bad as we would have expected. Still, it was easier to just strip her down and take her to the tub. And Calli learned that she loves cake & icing. A lot. When I tried to dress her after her bath, she was literally bouncing. I'm sure every parent before me has already learned this, but cake is like speed for babies. The cats are concerned; after a year of successfully staying out of reach, they suddenly don't have a chance.

It turned out to be a lovely time and more of an adult social & photo op. As Andrea said, it takes a village, and we were glad to have so many family & friends in attendance. There were two conspicuous absences though. Can you guess who? It was the two ladies who said “Oh, you just HAVE to have a chocolate cake. Don't worry, I'll bath her and help clean up.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Haven't Literally Messed Myself. However...

It's been a week and a half since I've posted, and I'm sure that the parents among you know why. With Andrea back to work, the chores don't go away. Getting used to this has really taken a toll on all of us.
Calli and I had some great Daddy/Daughter days that left my just exhausted. Trying to take up my share of what Andrea was doing when she had more time has been a learning experience. I've always given my wife due credit for the effort she makes, but now I see that I barely had an inkling of what she did.
By the time I got Calli ready for Daycare, did some chores, made food for her, put the house in some semblance of order, then worked a shift, I was just done for! Even with my vitamin B and copious amounts of coffee, I'd get home, and just collapse.
I noticed this trend last year; the Blogesphere slowed down in September as parents got back into the swing of getting their kids off to school. Now, I'm one of them, and I totally appreciate when parents can squeeze a few extra-curricular activities into their day. Some of the more clever parents I know take the week off to get into the swing of the new school year. I've got next week off, but it's gonna be hairy.
You see, our daycare provider backed out. I get to spend my week off finding someone else to watch Calli so we can continue making an income. yay.
The previous paragraphs were written last Friday. It's been that kind of week. With Calli's Birthday party on Sunday (more on this on Friday for the Birthday Blogfest hosted by Michelle at Southern City Mysteries)we have again been crazy-busy.
Anyhoo, our daycare provider quite because our little angel was unable to settle. Like a lot of 1-year-olds, she was quite confused and distraught with the situation. Now, I'm losing my mind trying to find another provider. This brave soul gave her notice with a Facebook message. Twit.
So, sorry for the delay, but I'm sure you understand (even those who don't relate). If you're reading this, thanks for not giving up on me! And thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law who took pity on me and gave me the afternoon off!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to work.

Like a million other things, the fear of a thing is worse than the thing itself
Yesterday was Andrea's first day back to work after a year. The day before (Labour Day), she had some butterflies and twitches. God love her, she handled it in true Italian fashion: she made brownies. If any single guys are reading this, try to find a woman who vents-out her anxieties in the kitchen. I know, it may seem that you want a woman who blows-off steam in the bedroom, but don't think for a minute that you'll always be able to keep up with that. Then, you'll have a woman that's anxious and frustrated.

Anyway, she had a better day than she was expecting. A few things have changed, but nothing she can't keep up with, and they went easy on her, not overwhelming her at all.

I spent the day with Calli, and asides from her not getting a proper nap, it went well. I got a lot done, and Andrea came home to a pasta dinner, wine and flowers. I was absolutely spent, and pretty witless. I've always honored stay-at-home-moms, knowing full-well that they have a huge job. Now I've got a glimpse of it, and boy-howdy, it takes a lot out of you.

Today is Calli's first day at Daycare. I thought I'd drop her off a few hours before work so I could get some stuff done. I'd heard that it would be hard to leave her the first time, but assumed that the time to write, play bass, vacuum, what-have-you, would be great, not worrying that I had to tend to her at any given moment. Well, I was fine, until I slowed down, and went into her room. Yeah, I'm a little emotional about it. I'm sure it'll get easier, but today, I miss her.

Thanks for all the great comments! I'm glad to hear that autumn is so popular, I thought Spring & Summer were the popular times, so it's nice to hear that I'm not alone. And yes, I think Blogging can go towards a word-count, unless you have a contract, and people are waiting for your work. (I'm looking at you, George RR Martin!)

Monday, September 6, 2010

"Fall" or "Rise?"

The temperature has dropped, and thus begins my favorite time of year.

There are several reasons why I love Fall. For starters, all my favorite clothes are long-sleeved. This is probably conditioning from when I was a chubby kid, but even now, I'm happiest in jeans and either collared shirts or long-sleeved cottons.

This ties in nicely with another favorite aspect of autumn. Two of my favorite holidays are Thanksgiving and Halloween. One for socializing with family over huge dinners. One for dressing up and gallivanting about the neighborhood. As a child, I'd get a pillowcase full of treats – Huzzah! And I got to dress up like a Jedi or Ninja to boot. Nothing could go wrong with that plan, until the year I got egged by high-schoolers. I was getting too old for it anyway, but a new friend had talked me into it.

Believe it or not, this time of year still triggers my back-to-school mentality. It's time to buckle-down, and devote my energy in whichever direction I'm committed to, usually some form of study. After a few years of establishing my family, my natural inclinations have bubbled to the surface again. My commitment to music has found an expression. After a couple of jam sessions with my friend Kyle, formerly of Breach & Entry, we decided to work together on shows. Once he gets the recording done, he's gonna shop it around, and it won't be long before we're taking to the stage. It's been a very long time since I've played a live show, but I have no doubt that I'll settle into it like a pig in whatever it is that makes pigs happy.

And, of course there's the flip-side of my creative drive: I'm writing almost daily now, though I've yet to reach 1000 words a day. I've taken the advice from several of you to heart (Hart? Cheers, Sister!), that it's more important to have a daily practice than to push myself to an arbitrary goal. I would rather not run the risk of making it a chore, and then making myself so sick of it that it becomes tedious. Naturally, there's a time to wrestle with it until the words come, but that doesn't necessarily mean I need 300 words of shite just to reach a particular number.

What does help, however, it to switch scenes. I may be able to push a thread for 350-500 words before I run out of steam, but then I can pick another character, and see how far I can push the story from their point of view. Does anyone else work this way? What are your tricks to move things along without producing filler?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The End Is Near

Shortly after getting up today, I realized that it's been a week since I've posted. I've noticed that before; after a Blogfest, I seem to take a bit of a breather. Not that they take a lot out of me, but I guess that all the reading involved afterwards, and the subsequent Following (and being Followed – thank you kindly!) is more time-consuming.

If I'm not posting, odds are that I've gotten caught-up in Life Happens. Nothing extraordinary, nothing tragic, just the day-to-day stuff. This week, however, there's been a bit of a cloud hanging over the house. Next week, after Labour Day, my sweet wife is going back to work. By Gar, it's been a year already! And boy-howdy, is she ever excited about it! If you've got a moment, I can lay it on even thicker.

In preparation, we've been leaving Calli with the 'sitter for half-days on Thursdays. We figure that an acclimatization period was wise, so it isn't such a shock to her system when it becomes three days a week (Gramma takes her on Mondays, and I have Tuesdays off). All was going well, until Thursday night (about 1:30 AM), she woke up in a tizzy. Then, again on Friday night, another nocturnal tantrum. Either she's getting separation anxiety, or the new teeth coming in are giving her grief. Sadly, her language skills aren't up to giving us a clear answer on the trouble that wakes her. On Saturday, we had the 'sitter and her family over for a BarBQ, because it would help Calli to get used to them, and they're just good people, and fun to spend an afternoon with. The day of cleaning and yard work was nearly enough to put me to sleep right there at the grill, but it's all worth it to flex our hospitality muscles and enjoy friendly company.

Has anyone out there had to start daycare for a 1-year-old? Can you enlighten me as to what kind of distress we're in for? I'm aware that kids are a lot more resilient than we tend to give them credit for, but I'm wondering what kind of misery our house has in store.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rainy Day Blogfest.

Welcome to the Rainy Day Blogfest. Feel free to leave honest feedback (I'm sure I need it), and swing by and see Christine, our gracious host at The Writer's Hole. Enjoy!

To set the scene' Gemei (and a friend, Radian) are draft-dodgers in a fantasy world. They had to stop for help at a farm when Radian became deliriously ill.

It was very late, well past midnight, when Abe decided it was time to go home. From a forgotten barn on the property of the swill-brewer, they stumbled along wagon tracks and cow paths by the light of the moon. Abe, who had said maybe twenty words in the four days Gemei had worked with him, now slurred bawdy songs and praise for his beautiful wife in turn. Gemei had slept in a corner most of the evening, after throwing up the alcohol that was better suited to dissolving boots. When he came to, he found some ale, as rain thundered and whispered on the old roof in turn. Finding no one his age, he spent much of the evening by a minstrel with his lyre. He now enjoyed a nice glow.

“When I met Merill, she was fine. Dressed plain, see, in her father's fields, picking...OOF!”

“Abe?” Gemei looked up to where he'd been, walking beside him, but Abe wasn't there. He heard him laughing, though. A laugh that cut short in a disgusted noise.

“Aw, bear spawn, was it raining?”

Looking up, Gemei said “I think it still is.” Among the trees, it was hard to tell.

“Well, plainly it was. Plain as the puddle soakin' my breaches. Help me up.” Clasping each other's wrists, Gemei tried to pull the big farmer to his feet. Next thing they knew, they were both in the puddle, Gemei gasping at the cold, and Abe laughing at his effort.

“Yer a good'un Gemmy.” He was as surprised by the arm over his shoulders as the kind words, “but ya ain't no fisherman.”

“Not yet, I...”

“No one'd send lads your age alone to Manos. No one who's been there would trust farm boys to find their way without getting' cheated or conned or worse. And anyone who hasn't thinks if half the stories are true, you's have your eyes stolen by ogres and sold to witch's. No, if your mam and paps are alive, they don't know where you are any more than you do.”

Speechless, Gemei opened and closed his mouth, hoping his story would come, but only a drunken fog filled his head.

“Boy, ya look like one o' them fish you keep talkin' 'bout. No, my guess id it's the Garrison's you're fleein' They'll get ya, sure as sunrise, if it's just the two of ya.” Gemei felt like he was half the age of his fifteen summers as Abe measured him. Looking away, he continued. “By next full moon, the Gypsy's will be passin' through. I'll have a word with 'em. No reason they won't let you travel with them for a season. They're beneath the contempt of the Garrisons, and it'll be easier to stay hid.”

“But, Gypsies? They're...”

“They're decent enough, if they got no cause to take exception to ya.”

Gemei could no longer spin yarns. He'd been laid bare, and the relief was palpable. “My thanks...”

“Pah. Let's get home. Mornin' comes early, and I'd rather work with a head ache than listen to a lecture.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Born a Ramblin' Man...

Thank you all for the well-wishes on my first Blogaversary. I'm still having a lot of fun with it, and will carry on as long as I have an Internet connection and at least one finger to type with.

Speaking of fun things I do with my fingers, last Sunday I did something I haven't done in WAY too long. You may remember me writing about going to see the local metal band Breach & Entry, who have since disbanded. Shit happens, eh? Being in a band can be a lot like a romantic relationship, making it subject to all the volatility that entails. Anyhoo, I work with the vocalist, and we decided to get together for a little jam. Nothing serious, just showing each other what songs we know, but it was good times all around. We're not establishing a band, but who knows what the future will bring, eh? It would be pretty sweet though if I was the first person to grace the covers of Writer's Digest and Bass Player in the same month :)

At work, we did our inventory last night. I got home at 11:20, bragging about how our store manager made us a steak-and-roast-potato dinner. Never one to be out-done, Andrea told me that Calli had taken three steps without support. “Oh! Oh, WOW!” Our little girl's growing up so fast! Well, she is 11 months, it is about time, but as much as we're encouraging her, we're trying to let her develop at her own pace. I think that it's gonna be a life-long struggle to encourage her growth while giving her the space to do it in her own tempo. Neither of us are terribly patient, either, but we're both pretty clever.

Dammit, why didn't Andrea brew-up a manual to go with this child? Well, she's pretty healthy and happy so far, and she hasn't choked on a clump of dog hair yet, so we can't be doing too badly. I'm confident enough when I'm actively parenting, it's just when I step away for a minute that I start fretting. Is this common among parents?

Stay tuned Tuesday for the Rainy Day Blogfest, where fiction that features (wait for it...) rain will be posted by some mighty talented writers. If you'd care to get involved, stop by and see Christine's site, The Writer's Hole.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Blogaversary

One year ago today, the hype finally caught up to me. After several months of listening to Writer's Podcasts, and hearing about how a writer needs a Blog to promote themselves and build community, I started Fatherhood And Other Common Terrors (FAOCT Say it out loud. Totally accidental). I used the OCT part to give myself permission to write on other topics, mostly work ventings, but whatever came to mind.
A friend at work told me about how some woman (I still don't know who) started a Mommy Blog and went on to support herself and her husband with it. So I spent a day off Searching for Parenting Blogs. I found Crazy Texas Mommy and Throwing Quartersthat day, which I still enjoy. I also surfed around using the “Next Blog” button at the top of the page (a Blogger feature, if you), and saw a wide range of what's possible, from niche markets, to photography, to whatever-you-please. I found an amazing resource, and I was sorry that I didn't get into it years ago.
I've said it often, and it bears repeating: The real value of Blogging is community. It just can't be described to those who aren't into it. Naturally, I tried to get my friends to stop by and check it out. Few did. But when I visited other Blogs and commented, I was amazed that they would return the courtesy. These were Bloggers who had hundreds of followers, yet they took time for my little start-up with maybe 5. Those included my wife and my sister (separate people), and somehow, myself. Yup, if you check, you'll find me following my own Blog. And I find me riveting! Hanging on my every word, I am.
Another Blogger, Braham at Alfred Lives Here I enjoy is also celebrating his first Blogaversary, but he's doing it better than I am. For every comment he gets, he will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders, and $2 for every new follower. So at least stop by and check it out, and it's always a great read, so it's win-win-win.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Cussin' and Color

Anyone who's tried it will tell you that writing is first and foremost an act of creation. Every story has it's characters and scenes that need to be formed from the actors imagination, but getting into Fantasy or Sci-Fi, there is so much more to conjure.

Profanity is something that really adds color to a story, but the words we use just wouldn't fit outside of our social context. I didn't put much thought into it until I wrote-in a farmer/veteran. Plainly, he wouldn't be speaking like the Aristocracy of my story, and not considering how he would speak differently would make my character's pretty 2-dimensional.

I remembered a conversation that I had with a friend at work. I had heard a customer use the phrase “Tabernac!” as a frustrated outburst. I asked him what it meant, and he didn't know, but he's heard a French-speaking friend use it on the golf course, so he knew it was pretty foul. My friend had been raised in Montreal, and only spoke French until he was 14.

He informed me that “Tabernac” was, as I suspected, derived from the location in a Catholic church that represents the presence of Christ. (In English, the word “Tabernacle” is used. It's from the Old Testament referring to the tent where the Ark of the Covenant was kept). Before explaining it to me, he said “As you know, a lot of swearing comes from religious words...” Well, yes, but I hadn't really considered it. That's why I love talking with bi-lingual people, they have a wider perspective, since words frame our thoughts, and they can think in two dialects.

Anyhow, to create the profanity of the world, I had to start with the religion of the world, and more importantly, how that religion was presented to the illiterate masses.

How do you deal with this? If your world-building is ground-up, like in Fantasy or Sci-Fi, how do handle this? How have you seen it handled by other authors?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Anyone up for another?

Well, last night kinda sucked. Well, mostly, it was fine, and parts of it were even great ;). The bad part was writing a post while trying to do a Disc Clean-up. Sounds pretty simple, right? Until I tell you that my computer is older than dirt. Really, the monitor has a third dimension. I keep a book within reach so I don't get bored while it's doing it's thing – no shit.

I want to thank you all for your feedback on my fiction, it was truly heart-warming! And inspiring; It's made me really eager to park my arse and carry on with this WiP. All of you were really kind, and there was no shortage of constructive critique. For the record, the “wax loftily...” line was meant to be a little sarcastic. I would have laid it on a little thicker if there wasn't a word-count to consider.

Some of the participants said that they weren't inclined to post portions of their Work in Progress on the Internet, and I can understand that. Giving milk and selling cows, and all that. I thought I would post from my own WiP because if I'm gonna participate and spend time writing, I should leverage that time investment to get my novel a little closer to done. I hate to admit it, but I've been sitting on this for years, and it's about time I put in the time to get the ball rolling!

Some of you were wondering if I was going to post some more of this. Well, let me tell you about the next Blogfest I'm participating in. Christine at The Writer's Hole is hosting a “Rainy Day Blogfest”on August 25.

I have three threads through the story: The Aristocracy (illustrated last Saturday), a pair of draft dodgers, and a spy. On the 25th, I'll introduce the draft dodgers.
Thanks again, and I'll talk to ya soon!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

High Drama Blogfest!

For your consideration, I humbly submit my entry for DL Hammons, High Drama Blogfest. Honest feedback would be much-appreciated, and be sure to check out the other entries!

There was a different tone to the buzz of conversation in the Council Chambers this morning. Officials of all the realms had found their cliques, and talked excitedly about the impending session. Surely, the Regent would need to announce today what would be done about the threat of the Khemites.
Shani was wanting to stall, allowing another week for the Priest's envoys to return, but he was not hopeful. None of the Council knew of the second mission of envoys, and the official dispatch had returned the day before yesterday. The Councilors had heard what they expected to hear; what Shani suspected that they had paid to hear. The second batch of envoys was to be without such allegiances, and therefore, providing a less biased account of the threat.
The five-minute bell sounded, and Councilors made their way to their seats, as pages continued to drift about. Shani waited with the other heads, three priests and three governors, until the herald announced them.
“Representatives of the Blessed Realm, please rise for the Regent, Shaniraquey.” They emerged and strode to the dais amid polite applause.
The Seven took their places, Shani in the center, three Prime Governors on his right, and three High Priests on his left. All others were then seated.
Shani checked the day's itinerary, and found no surprises. His stomach lurched at the names, unofficial heads of factions, all. Naturally, all wanted to be heard by the Assembly, but time allowed only five for certain, and up to twenty if there was minimal debate.
After Aliber said Prayers and Adorations, Shani stood. “The Realm recognizes Councilor Alna.”
A handsome man in his early forties stood. “Blessed Regent and distinguished colleagues..,” Alna waxed loftily of the history and dignity of Atlantis. As was customary for any pronouncement. Finally coming to the point: “...and now, our way of life is threatened by savages! We can no longer deny that the Khemites are building a fleet to bring war to our very shores! We have provided them with every opportunity of education and culture, yet they rise up against us!” Approval exploded through the Assembly. Shani's face betrayed nothing, not the uncertainty of his inexperience, nor the tremble in his hands. Nothing good ever came from a Regent declaring war in his third month, but he was loath to show weakness.
Alna continued. “The reports of our envoys are irrefutable. We must descend upon them, and remind them of the Glory of Atlantis!” No one disagreed on this point, and it took several minutes to resume order. Shani dreaded the response, and relished the moments between now and then.
Shani stood and held up a hand for silence. “It has never been our way to make war. We are not the Blessed Realm through force of arms, but through commerce and culture. We have always sought peace, for the individuals, and for the nations. However,” grumblings were escalating quickly, “insolence cannot be tolerated. And insolence from those who were our kindred until the time of our grandfathers must be addressed. A disciplinary campaign will be launched as soon as it can be arranged.” He felt as though the words had been spoken by another, cryptic and hollow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blogfest for Dramatic Tension

Just a quick note tonight. This morning I heard of a Blogfest for the fiction writers among us (and I know there's a few:) )

It's hosted by DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude, and the idea is to post something that illustrates dramatic tension. Swing on by and check it out!

And just to clarify on that “diet,” it wasn't meant to be an on-going thing, just a week-long cleanse. Made it 5 ½ days; not too bad:)

Monday, August 2, 2010

We Deviated...

Last time I posted, I was bragging away about our turbo, warrior-like will power. That was about 26 hours before we deviated (it's nicer to say than “Failed”). In the end, it was the monotony that got to us. When we eventually got a different element added to our diet, it would grow tired fast. For example, when I last posted, it was Beef day, and immediately after putting it up, I went outside (at about 10:10 AM) and Bar-b-qed up some un-garnished steak. It was the most delightful meal I'd had in ages, but by that night, we were pretty tired of beef.

By Saturday afternoon, we broke down, split a chocolate chip muffin, and finished off some semi-stale Doritos. Yummers. That night for dinner, we had Thai Coconut Chicken (it was from a mix by Knorr, or Club House. I'm a big fan of credit-where-credit-is-due, but I'm not gonna dig through the garbage for it).

Yesterday, however, I brought leftover beef & vegetables to work for munching, and only got a granola bar from the vending machine, as opposed to a few butter tarts, chocolate bars, and/or muffins. This morning, we had a grapefruit for breakfast. I'm hoping to carry-on this trend of better eating, because I'm pretty darn sick of the lethargy that often weighs me down. I mean, I'll be pretty damn gung-ho at work, but on my own time, I gotta psych myself into any physical activity. If I mow the lawn, or walk the dog (either can take about an hour), I feel like I dragged a car for three blocks; Pathetic!

Another consideration is that Calli was born when I was 35, meaning that our first child will start school when I'm 40. That's pretty darn sobering, and I'd like to be healthy enough to enjoy my kids in good health.

Thank God I've got this space to make me accountable, putting it out there like this makes me more likely to follow-through on this! It sure helped with my writing; I'm not at 1000 words a day, but I'm almost daily! I know that the word-count isn't as important as the daily practice, but it's better to shoot for the moon and hit a tree, than to shoot for a tree and hit a rock.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Detox-arific!

There are some Blogs that talk about food. Some devote a day a week about an interesting thing they conjure-up, some post their week's meal plan, and some just sporadicly put up recipes when they come across them.

I've only done one food post (that I recall) about Andrea's Birthday dinner. There's a reason I don't talk about it a lot. While I was fortunate to marry a fabulous cook, that usually covers only one meal a day. While I'm at work, I usually live out of the vending machines. A little embarrassing, but there it is.

That changed this week. Have you ever heard of the cabbage soup diet? It's kinda like a week-long detoxing program. Along with this really awful cabbage & tomato soup (that we're not bothering with this time), you have:

Day 1: Fruits
Day 2 : Vegetables
Day 3: Fruits and Vegetables
Day 4: Bananas & Milk
Day 5: Beef & Tomatoes
Day 6: Beef & Vegetables
Day 7: Brown Rice, Vegetables & unsweetened fruit juice.

On Day 4, I loved the milk, since it's the closest thing to a carb I've had in days (on telling my wife this, I was informed that root veggies are also carbs, but I had the association of breads, and all that rich, heavy loveliness that I thrive on). I weighed myself yesterday morning and found that I'd lost 8 pounds (for the first time in too many years, I'm under 200 lbs). Now, I'm a little more tolerant of the deprivations!

Yesterday was the worst; my sugar-withdrawals had peaked! I was crabby as hell all day (and customers were crabby too, which led to a minor altrication. By the time it got to a supervisor, it got blown way out of proportion, and I got as talking-to.) I guess that there was plenty of toxicity to be purged from my system, eh?

Now, we're on beef day, and we'll be grilling steaks before noon – Heavenly! We're also trading tomatoes for grapefruit, since the acidity is about the same.

So here's hoping we make it before losing our discipline, or our minds. Oddly, I was something of a ditz yesterday; I had a hard time finding the words I wanted, with a whole lot of “...um...you know, that thing...” Yeah, I was a barrel of laughs, and insightful...

Naturally, every food commercial I see makes me want to run to a supermarket or drive-through, but so far, I'm pretty pleased with the results, so hopefully, I can stick to a healthier diet. There will be more lee-way than I'm currently allowing, but not the over-indulgence I usually do. I'll have to adopt the Parent's Mantra here: “We'll see...”

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Back At It.

Yesterday was a triumph. After about seven months of dormancy, I've dusted-off my Work in Progress (clever title, I know. Is it any wonder I fancy myself a wordsmith?) and did about 620 words. Last week, I had a 600+ word day and a more lax 340 word day. To the more experienced writers who read here, it may like small numbers, but I'm just tickled pink to be back at it.

I need to thank the Blogging community for this. I briefly mentioned my WiP awhile ago, and a few of you seemed interested, so I thought, “Time to get off my duff with this thing!” Another motivator is NaNoWriMo; I only heard of it last year, and I wasn't up to it, not by a long shot. So now I'm trying to get my daily output up, 'cause I think it needs to be about 1600 words a day for NaNo. (My Soundtrack post was over 900, so I'm optimistic.) My short term goal is to get to 1000/day by Sept.

So far, I've had a bit of a handicap (besides a full-time job). For those who haven't written fiction, there's two main strategies. Outlining, where you map out your story, then then go from that direction and flesh it out. Then there's discovery writers, who start with an element (character, scene, conflict, etc), then sit, type, and see where they wind up.

I've tried outlining this story, but somehow, my brain won't work it out. So I sit and type and see where it takes me. It's kinda like walking at night with a flashlight, I only see a few feet ahead, and figure it out as I get to it. So as I truck-along, I'm not only progressing the story and choosing my words, I'm discovering characters, naming them, and figuring out their role, taking up valuable writing time!

I figure that this way, I'll have a LOT of editing to do; this bad boy will need to be tightened right the hell up, because much of what I'm churning out won't serve the story, except in my own comprehension of it.

It would help mightily if I could do all of this in my head, and just spend my writing time producing something that's closer to a finished product. When I put the process down like this, it makes it look like I should try harder to outline. But I've heard that Steven King is a discovery writer, and Dan Brown said that he writes ten pages for every one he keeps. Maybe there's something to it.

What say you? How do you crank out your work?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Soundtrack

This “Soundtrack” thread has been a difficult one to ponder, and I'm still not sure I've got it down.

To this day, I hate ti music that my mom introduced me to: 70's country. Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn, and the like. All the whine, and none of the rhythm. Then my step-dad introduced some more “B-Side” type music into the home, Cat Stevens, Captain & Tennille (sp?) and Rough Trade. The latter left a huge impression with “High School Confidential.” The pulsing beat and innuendo grabbed me as much as it confused me – the cover of the album had a woman, but the sultry purr seemed too deep. And just how was she “cream(ing) her jeans”? I pictured her in the bathroom with a tub full of dairy, doing something to her pants that looked like a cross between hand-washing and a tantrum (I was 8 at the time).

My first real “Soundtrack” choice would be “Synchronicity 2” by The Police. Rock video's were just becoming popular, and MTV (and it's Canadian cousin, MuchMusic) were just about to be born, and we just had the Friday night video show. As our parents were entertaining, my sister & I would eat in the living room, and enjoy this video, along with Duran Duran's “Wild Boys,” Pat Benetar's “Love is a Battle Field” (“how angry could they be if they're ending in a dance sequence?”)

To sum-up my later elementary school years, I've chosen “Christopher Tracey's Parade” from Prince's Parade album (which featured “Kiss”). It escaped the attention of the masses, and did what it wanted because it wanted to, while wondering why no one else “got it.” 'Nuff said.

For the first half of High School, Aerosmith's “Young Lust” seems to fit. Up-beat and blusey, talking a lot about wanting it, and not saying much about getting it. About sums up most of our High School experiences, don't it?

Then, for my second half of High School, I got religious. I'd found and accepting community that didn't focus on the “it” I wasn't getting anyway. Plus, I was always spiritually inclined, and a white guy in the Western world, ergo, I must be a Christian, right? RIGHT?! A suiting song (which finally just occurred to me, and I need to find the cassette to credit it properly) would be “My Jesus Is All,” by The Resurrection Band (or just plain “Rez”) with Grace and Glory from their live album...well, I can't find my cassettes just now, but it's a good song!

Then I went to Bible College in BC. The title track of Undercover's “Devotion” album (listed on my Dessert Island 15) would be played here. It's largely about frustration with the community:

“I just came here to find my way,
To find a way to find my way.
All you do is talk about people...
All I know is there's no answers here.”

Then resolves back to the point,

“Raise your hands it's time to fly higher,
Raise your hands, it's time to fly.”

After this, I started playing in a band with my best friend. I think that The Beatles “Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band” would go nicely here, and it reflects our shining optimism here. After a few years, it ended and he got married (play Pearl Jam's “Black”) and I found a home in another, much heavier band. I felt like we were five faces of the same persona, and it was the happiest I'd been in a long time, so I'll play Korn's “Got The Life” at this point. Then, like most bands (I'd say “All bands,” but I think all-inclusive statements are inherently false), it went to shit.

During this time, I got into a very unhealthy relationship, where she would try to make me feel worthless so I'd think I couldn't do better; how cliché is that? Enter Audioslave's Cochise:
Well I've been watchin' while you've been coughin'
I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous.
Go on and save yourself
Take it out on me.
Then, I finally came to my senses and moved out. From the same album, “What you are”
And when you wanted blood I cut my veins.
And when you wanted love, I bled myself again.
And here I go, far away, I know you, you'll find another slave.

Twelve years after I left, I returned to Ontario. I figured that my small town was lucky to have me, and I'd learn them a thing or two about urban sophistication. I found my home town had grown up, and I had some of that still to do myself. “Back to School” by The Deftones would suit this phase.

Then, seven months later, I met the woman who would become my wife. I'll go back to Aerosmith with “Deuces are wild.”

“I love to look into your deep (blue) eyes,
They talk to me and seem to hypnotize,
They say the things nobody dares to say,
And I'm not about to let you fly away.
My lover with no jet lag
Stayin' up all night in the sleepin' bag
got a heartbeat rhythm with the subterrain
I get stoned on you girl, there's no need to explain."

Then, four years later, Calli was born. Creed's “Arms Wide Open” says it all nicely, about how I want to teach her to embrace the world for what it is, and enjoy all there is to love about it.

And there you have it, the songs that illustrate my life. I'll probably think of more appropriate songs as soon as I post this, though :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Vacation Pictures.

Here, at long last, are some pictures from our vacation. In the New Post window, they're coming up as a lot of text, so I can't comment on them individually. As my long-term followers know, I'm not very practiced at putting up pics, so please bear with me in this weakness. Seriously, it's like the Matrix, where I'm expected to see images in the computer's language.





Tuesday, July 13, 2010

They Were Here Just A Minute Ago...

Firstly, I have an apology to make. I totally forgot to mention the Podcast of fellow Blogger extrodenaire, Adam at Throwing Quarters. It's been awhile since I've heard a new one, but the beauty of the Podcast is that all of the previous episodes are available, so you can go back and enjoy them all.

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely & talented Jessica Bell of The Alliterative Allomorph wrote about losing followers. She wasn't sure why, and seemed to be feeling a little stung.

About three weeks ago, this happened to me too. Suddenly. I looked, and I was down by 2 followers, and I wasn't sure why. I don't think I had posted anything particularly offensive. I'm wondering if Blogger does occasional housekeeping and closes inactive accounts. I tried checking the Followers page, and I didn't see any way to see who had canceled their subscription, and I didn't recognize any absences. Oddly, I've gained about 6 new Followers since then, so it's nice that I'm still going onward and upward. But still...(Does anyone else find it a little awkward to refer to “Their Followers”? It sounds a little culty to me.)

As for myself, I haven't ever un-Followed someone. There's only one I no longer visit (on purpose), someone who mostly posts his own graphic designs (not you Matt), but never followed me back, or responded to my comments. Not that I automatically neglect those who don't comment or respond – one of my faves Followed me back, but rarely comments. That's cool, people are busy and when you re-follow everyone who signs up, it can get pretty busy in the ol' Google Reader. The issue I took with the first one is that I was one of his first Followers (on the recommendation of a Blogger friend of his), and he seems to be using his Blog as a resume. That, I believe, is a fabulous use of the Blogosphere, but since I'm not in his market, I'll spend my (precious little) computer time on the Blogs I resonate with, and especially with those who are more into the community of it. My pen-palls with less waiting!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

I Need A Fix...

There are two pretty serious addictions that I'm enjoying right now. One should run it's course pretty soon, and the other is ongoing.

While on vacation, our gracious hosts introduced us to the HBO show, True Blood.
We're almost through the first season (12 episodes), and it's like candy. The premise is set two years after vampires have revealed themselves to the public due to a synthetic blood that allows them to sustain themselves without being a threat to the population. The show is set in a small town in Louisiana, where they're encountering their first vampires. While there's plenty of fear, the protagonist (and her grandmother) are pretty liberal, as though they've learned everything they need to know about vampires from Oprah. It's a very adult show, with all the swearing and sex that entails. It seems that they're trying really hard to prove that they aren't re-packaging Twilight. I don't mind it, but some friends found it a little excessive. What I'm enjoying is the Southern Gothic flavour (Up yours, Spell Check, I'm keeping the 'u' in “Flavour”). If you'd asked me a week ago just what “Southern Gothic” was, I'd say that I'd heard of it, and that would be the end of my contribution. Now, I know what it looks like, and I must say, I'm finding Southern Gothic to be mighty tasty!

My other indulgence goes back about a year, and I can't believe there aren't more people into it. A couple months after I got my Ipod, I discovered Podcasts, and since they're all free (and we all know how that F-word will get attention:) ), I was free to experiment. For the uninitiated, it's like getting 15-90 minutes of talk radio on any subject you could imagine, and they release regular shows. (there are video Podcasts, but I'm not as familiar with those). Seriously, have you heard of “Thelema”? It's a Kaballa/Yoga-based belief system that maybe 1/10,000 people have heard of, and I've found 3-5 Podcasts about it. There are some good writing Podcasts too, my favorites being “I Should Be Writing” and “Writing Excuses.”
I lot of radio shows have podcasts, as do some magazines, such as the “New Yorker Short Fiction” Podcast. Another one I like is the “APM Dinner Party Download” for general conversation topics for – you guessed it – your next dinner party. `

Does anyone have any Podcasts that they like? Like I said, it's an addiction, and if you have a suggestion for my next fix, I'd be much obliged.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Happy Aniversary Vacation!

Thank you all for the well-wishes! Our time away was great. We got to stay in their only cabin (which I helped put the floor into last May) at Little Banff, which was handy since setting-up Camp Calli takes a lot of room. She even got her own room, which was helpful since we didn't want to go to bed at 7:30 when she did. We were also close to the lake, which was convenient on this super-hot week. It's been in the high-20's, which in Fahrenheit translates as DAMN HOT! I broke into a sweat changing her diaper. We got to enjoy several family soaks in the lake, with Calli enjoying her inner-tube with the mesh seat & hood for the sun. Being at the water front had another advantage; we caught a lot of wind through the cabin (see: Damn Hot!). I'll have pictures soon, but the camera was borrowed, so I'm just waiting on the email.

One of the owners has finally taken my advice (non-subtle prodding) and began writing a biography. She's led an interesting life, and has a talent for it. Just reading her emails, it's plain that she has a talent for it. When we were there, she was inspired to write about us. I leaned over and said “...handsome...clever...” I'm sure that is how I was portrayed. When it's due for release, I'll be sure to keep ya'll posted.

Even though we had all of our regular Calli-sustenance duties, it was a relaxing time. We went up after work on Sunday, got there about 6:30, and stayed until Wednesday afternoon. We would have stayed longer, but we had dinner reservations at Oscar's, an upscale restaurant in town, to celebrate our 3rd aniversary. I'm tempted to get all 'Foodie' on you, so I'll restrain myself to telling you about desert: Rhubarb & Rosemary Creme Brule. The Rosemary part intrigued us, and to be honest, it was great! Who's have thought, eh? They gambled, and they surely landed on their feet with that one!

I've still got a few days off, so it'll be a lot of relaxing, and a couple engagements. Hopefully, more relaxing than anything. And writing. Now that I've mentioned a work-in-progress, I feel more accountable to pick up that torch!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Vacation! Huzzah! (that's Hebrew for 'Hurrah!')

I'm going to be gone for a few days; at 4:30 today, I'm starting vacation, and we're going to our friend's RV park. They always spoil us with a great trailer for our anniversary get-away, and fortunately, they were spared last week's tornado, though they were only about 20 kms (15 miles?) away.

Now, if I was one of those super-duper daily Bloggers, capable of bending the laws of time and space to get daily posts up, my absence would be more obvious. But I only got one post up last week, so I thought I'd drop ya'll a quick note to let you know my most recent excuse for being away. It will be more obvious in your Comment spaces, where I make an effort to let you know that I've been by with whatever poignancy I can offer with the one hand I'm not feeding the baby with.

Wish us luck with keeping some semblance of routine with Callie in a strange environment. See you real soon, and to our Southern neighbors, Happy July 4th. (You may have noticed that I didn't have a Grand Canada Day Extravaganza. It's not that I don't love my country, but I just got absorbed with my little suburban corner of the world.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Recovering.

Damn, it's been crazy. I've barely had any time to myself to write, or anything. Two of my last four days off have been visiting family – always a good time, but being an introvert, it's not re-charging time. Yesterday was a total housework day, and we both worked like we expected the Queen to visit. Fortunately, Calli was in good spirits, so we could do what needed to be done. Then we had the oh-so-clever idea to reward ourselves with a bottle of wine on the patio. With a mix of fatigue and pollution, we weren't too productive today ;)

Calli got us all excited with her standing a couple weeks ago, but now she hardly does it! It's a little disappointing, but I know that once she's walking, there'll be no keeping up with her, so I'm just relishing it while it's relatively easy. When I was talking to my dad about it, he broached the topic of the leash. It seemed that he was trying to be delicate, expecting us to be 'Liberal' and free-range with our parenting. Andrea and I both have a healthy dose of Hippie, and believe she should be free to discover on her own. We also believe that she'll discover more if she doesn't get lost or hit by a car. We're all about the leash.

I was thinking of this when I saw a mother in a store tell her child to hold onto the buggy. I'm pretty confident that even the best-behaved child can get distracted and wander off, so perhaps some handcuffs would be in order. Of course, steel cuffs would be just cruel, we'd need the furry ones.

You may have heard that last week, southern Ontario, and the states in the Great Lake region got a natural hammering. First, there was an earth quake – the first I've heard of in this region. Then that night, tornadoes touched down. Midland, where my parents and sister work lost a car dealership, a factory, and – wait for it – a mobile home park. Really, I didn't just make that up. I'm really glad that we didn't just legalize gay marriage, of pot, or else we'd be hearing from Fundamentalists about how we were being punished, or warned. So, what were we being warned about? Well, it was days before the G8 & G20 Conferences. Then, at the end of the Conferences, Toronto experienced some flooding! They said it was from the rain, but I think it was from fire-hosing so many protesters!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Good Shower Story.

As a matter of course, I tend to get up with Calli in the mornings because I'm a morning person (my wife is not), Andrea puts in the lion's share of time at parenting, and deserves to sleep in, and it give me time to read Blogs as I feed her. I won't wake Andrea unless I need to to go to work, and then, not until the last minute.

The other day, Andrea was still sleeping, but a shower had become a non-negotiable necessity. So I bring Calli into the bathroom with some toys, shut the door, and hop in. I've done this before, and I figure that it'll be fine. However, when I'm, almost done rinsing my hair, she starts crying. Not a physical-trauma wail, or a frustrated-and-fed-up complaint, somewhere in the middle. When I pulled open the curtain, I didn't see her, and there's no way a 20+ pound child should be able to hide in a 6x5 space! Turns out, she had pulled herself up on the tub, on the faucet-end, behind the outer-curtain, and was getting showered-on on the front half of her head. No wonder she was giving a confused/upset cry! She was unresponsive to my verbal comforts, so my shower got cut short, and she learned she could survive such a trauma. I'm sure that it was the first of hundreds of half-showers.

When I told this story to my co-workers, I finished with “I bet when you got up this morning, I'll bet you said to your self 'Gee, I sure hope someone at work has a good shower story.' You're welcome.

Last week, I did something kinda stupid. I read something about Obama that flew in the face of my beliefs, and I knee-jerked and let everyone know what a disappointment he was. I didn't do any digging of my own, and didn't even read the articles referenced in the Blog I read.

As it happens, the solution that Norway offered was a chemical that wasn't approved by the American Food & Drug Administration. This seems like a right-flimsy excuse to me for his “Thanks, but no thanks.” Granted, he's under a lot of pressure, and whatever he does will have the Conservative members of American media crawling up his ass to do Tae Bo. Is there any reason he couldn't call the FDA to get 'all hands on deck' to comb through the testing other nations have done, to see if what they'd be using was better or worse than what they've been using?

Another instance in the saga has Obama directing these offers to BP. Now THAT makes sense, except he has publicly taken responsibility to deal with this.

Some theorists have said that he has let the leak go on so he can reinforce his platform on off-shore drilling, or going to cleaner energy. Here's the rub: he could have used this tragedy politically if it had lasted only a week, or a day!

It could be argued that a Canadian has no place bitching about American politics, but a cursory observation will show what affects Washington has on the world. More tangibly, if Il Nino/a affected our climate here in the Great Lakes region, it's easy to imagine that this will have it's ramifications too.

In conclusion, sorry to all. I'm not an Obama-hater, but I'm a little more cautious with my affections. After all, GitMo's still open.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My First Father's Day.

My first father's day was fantastic! Calli got me a beautiful key chain locket with her picture of her in it (I spent Sunday showing it off to everyone at work. Well, mostly the ladies, 'cause the guys see it and think “Yup. That's a kid alright”). Andrea got me Slash's new CD, and a book: “The Secrets of the Freemasons” by Pat Morgan The book is great, and timely, as I finished another book the day before. It gives away more than I thought they would, considering it's written more like a recruitment pamphlet than a conspiracy revelation. The CD is FREAKIN' AWSOME! It features a bunch of guest vocalists (kinda like Santana did), like Ian Ashbury (of The Cult), Chris Cornell, Fergy (not a fan, but these songs are freaking steller!), Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Cyprus Hill, M Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, etc. Slash shows a fantastic versatility without losing his particular flavor that makes him so distinctive. Look at me, gushing like a 12-year-old!

When I got home, Andrea had Veal Parmesan ready for dinner with garlic bread – TREATS!! and black forest cake. Does it get any better?

Normally, I don't like to get attention because it happens to be that time of year (I'd rather get attention for being a clever smart-ass!), but this was different. With all of the focus on fatherhood, it struck me that I'm part of a bigger institution. There are a few words in the language (or any other language) that trigger a lot of sentiment, or baggage as the case may be. Many of the Blogs I've read focus on the hero's that raised us, but there's a few stories of regret too.

Most of the time, it's an absolute delight to spend time with my little girl, but sometimes, she's having a bad day, sometimes I am, but I still spend the time with her, because I don't want to be another cat's-in-the-cradle story. Also, odds are that she will grow up to date men who are a lot like me, and I find that mighty sobering! She's always easy to love, but not always easy to spend time with, so I drink it in when she's all smiles and giggles, and rock and soothe her when she's in an exhausted tizzy. Like every other relationship, she will test my patience, and a view of the bigger picture will serve me well to keep it all in context.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Word To Your Papa.

Like a lot of people of my generation, I have two dads, and not in a “Fabulous” sort of way. For most of my life, I've considered my step-dad to be my Father.

'Papa' came into our lives when I was eight and my sister was six. He was a friend-of-a-friend of my mom's, and one night after the divorce, we were at a Friday night social gathering, and he talked my mom into taking a ride on his motorcycle, as she had never ridden one before. Slick move, since 28 years later, they're still together.

He had a rough go of it, too. The benefit of informally adopting kids that age is that he got to miss the diaper years. He also missed some key formative years, so he had some somewhat developed little people to go along with his new girlfriend.

There were some glitches, but at the end of the day, he did a marvelous job. As a father, he always (well, usually) had the patience needed to deal with us as kids. He was fond of taking any opportunity to teach us something, not in a lecturing sort of way, but more questioning, like “what do you see here that's relevant,” or “how do you suppose that happened.”

Not that he didn't lecture, but it was a form of discipline. He wasn't inclined to physical punishment, but I seem to recall lectures that could last 3-4 hours. He claims that I'm exaggerating the time, but that's how I remember it.

Of all the fond memories, it's the every-day ones that warm my heart. Summer nights at the fire pit. Autumn wood-cutting sessions. Rubber band fights. Teasing, teasing, and more teasing. Taking guns to the dump to make the cans dance. Board game nights. Inappropriate jokes. I could go on....

When I got married, he honored me by being my best man, and when I have a son, I'll get to fulfill my life-long ambition of naming him after his grandpa.

So today, love and gratitude to my Papa, and a hearty “Cheers!” to all the men who understand that they are practicing the noblest of professions: Parenthood.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Be Here Now!

Just a note to say, "here is something that everyone needs to read about the oil spill." Seriously, I was an Obama fan until I read this...
http://throwingquarters.com/2010/06/15/where-is-our-help/#comment-1381

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Who's Awsome..?


The job I had to do at work today was a little boring, so I did an informal survey. I asked anyone who was there what kind of bumper sticker I could put on the car to make our kids not want to borrow it, looking for the maximum “I can't be seen it THAT” factor.

My contribution came from Comic Book Guy on The Simpsons (who are, by the way, older than a lot of the people I work with. Now, THAT'S a sobering thought.) “My other car's the Millennium Falcon.” If I find it, I'm totally getting it!

Along the same lines, “My other car's a pair of boots” and “My other car's a piece of shit too.” Someone suggested “My other car's a 10-speed.” Funny, but without the embarrassing factor.

Another good one with some embarrassment potential is “Stay back, or you'll be in phaser range.”

An honorable mention goes to “Stay back of my poo-throwing monkeys will get you,” but I think teens would be fine with this message.

One mother suggested something that alluded that their parents had had sex in the car. What that led to was our winner: “Viagra saved our marriage.”

Now I'd like to hear your suggestions, what kind of bumper sticker would discourage kids from asking for the car?

It seems that the awards abound, and this is an especially unique honor!
Steven Tremp http://stephentremp.blogspot.com/has created an award, and I am a first-generation recipient of the Awsomous Maximus Award! Oh My, Oh My (fanning self). It is a prerequisite for the Meat & Potatoes Award, for veteran Bloggers who have weathered a few storms. If I can get a pre-qualifier for such an honor after about 10 months of Blogging, well slap-my-ass, I'm flattered and humbled. Thanks Steven!

I have a few nominations for the Awsomous Maximus, focusing on newer Blogs that show great promise! Many awards have floated around lately, so many have been nominated for other awards, but they are none-the-less deserving!

Ella's Edge gives consistent offerings from her life, her family, and her home town, with a lot of honesty and charm.

Mommy Loves Stiletto's is a riot, but not for the faint of heart. If you're uncomfortable with your naughtiness and that of others, skip this one.

Celebrating her first Tartaversary today, Confessions of a Watery Tart is another fun one with a mischievous wink. For the ladies, there are plenty of Beefcake pics, for everyone , there's some fine writing, and insights into the craft.

About 14 months old, Ramblings of a Domestic Goddess really hit her stride this year, and posts thematically DAILY! That's right, she's that hardcore!

Less than a year old, Mithril Wisdom offers helpful reviews on all things geeky, and other insights.

There it is, Live Long and Be Awsome! And don't forget to leave some bumper sticker ideas :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

She Weebles and She Wobbles...

As always, thanks for all of the comments! Blogger seems to be having quite the glitch issues, with comments being eaten, repeated, etc. By and large, they provide a solid service, though, and every now and then, there's gonna be some trouble.
My story (when I get the time to devote) is on the last days of Atlantis. Has anyone seen anything like this around? I'd hate to regurgitate someone else's work. And there are no elves, they just don't fit, and it's hard to do something unique with elves. Having said that, Heather Bear did just that with “Blood & Iron” and “Whiskey & Water.”

On the domestic side, today was a damn exciting day, Calli has stood on her own for the first time! She's been pulling herself up on anything that'll hold her weight & stay still for a few weeks now, and she's finally ventured to let go! It was only for 2-5 seconds, but we squealed none the less. For one instance, Andrea was phoning a friend, and Calli stood just in time for the answering machine to kick-in. “Ooooh! OOOH! She's STANDING!!! She's standing ON HER OWN! call me back.” Michelle must have been laughing her ass off!

Bet I can guess what the seasoned parents are saying: “You're in for it now.” Yeah, that makes sense. We spend a year striving to get them to walk and talk, then 15 years telling them th sit down and shut up.

Andrea said that she hopes that we're this excited about our future children hitting these landmarks. Well, yeah, but it won't be the same. There will never be another first. Such a raw deal for the others, but I'm sure that it will be special in it's own way.

If ya'll are interested, my lovely wife has started a Blog to document her healthy lifestyle journey. Feel free to stop by Motherhood and Other Controversies and show some love!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Well, lookit the gig brains on me! I was half way through my shift yesterday, and I thought, “did I put up a picture of the Versatility Award?” And, I forgot to space-out my paragraphs, leaving a big block of words that can be a little hard on the eyes. In my defense, I'd spent a couple hours with it already, and was a little eager to get it done, but here it is:


Thanks for your patience! Have a great day!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Versatility Award.

The night before last, I had a dream that I was in the Millennium Falcon, and I was hiding from Imperial troops. Apparently, the innards of the Falcon are made of plywood, I would've thought that a space craft would be made of sturdier stuff. What did you think I was going to reveal? Grow UP!
Now I'm getting really big-headed; I've received the Versatile Logger Award. Back in the day (last August) when I pondered my title, I tacked on the “...Other Common Terrors” to give myself license to write about whatever I pleased (work-venting came to mind). Then, with the A-Z Challenge, I got the chance to address a lot of things that wouldn't normally fit. Now, it seems that I've got a reputation, but you should see the glob I got this from; Inanimateness versatiles circles around me! (Sure, “versatiles” can be a verb. Shakespeare made up words too!)
So the rules are this: 1) Thank the person who gave you the award. (Thanks Inanimateness! You ROCK!) 2) Share 7 things about yourself. 3) Pass the award along to 15 Loggers you've recently discovered and you think are awesome. (I'll be flexible on this, 'cause 15 is a lot.) 4) Let your nominees know you've honored them. (I'm awful at this, since by the time I've added my links, I want to go relax..
So, my 7 things:
1.My work-in-progress is an Epic Fantasy, but I don't read a lot of fantasy, because reading 3-7+ books in a row of the same story is a bit much for me.
2.I like to cook, but haven't done a lot lately. That'll change when Andrea goes back to work.
3.I once tried to make Beef Wellington, for Andrea's birthday. It tasted great, but looked like it had been put on the plate from across the room :)
4.We're currently trying to sleep-train Calli. She isn't happy, and sounds just rabid.
5.I love winged-back chairs. Pretty trivial, but when you Blog, whatever surprises you have left are secrets for a reason.
6.I like to capitalize “Blog” and “Blogger,” because I think that they're proper titles.
7.Despite my last post, I think that psychology is fascinating, and we should continue to strive to learn what makes us tick.
So now to nominate some Bloggers, and I've decided to focus on the Writing Blogs that I've discovered, as they're all pretty recent.

Steven Tremp
Alex Cavanaugh
Hart Johnson
B. Miller
Coming Down the Mountain
Feel of Something New
Heim Binas Fiction
Michelle Emrath
Spunk on a Stick
The Alliterative Allomorph
The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment
Culture Served Raw(more journalistic, and a great read!)
These are all great writing Blogs, and I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Yet Another Disorder...

I was listening to a Podcast the other day, when I heard of Oppositional Defiant Disorder. I'm so glad I heard of this before it was applied to someone I knew, so I could get through my “Are you f***ing kidding?” stage.
The short version is that ODD is when kids & teens are – wait for it – defiant to their elders. Another term I've heard used to describe this behavior is “Individuation;” when children begin to develop their own identities apart from their elders. I guess it became a “Disorder” when it got destructive.
Now, I'm no expert in psychiatry, but I know that it's a “Soft Science,” whereas there's more questions then answers, and it's a young science; less than 150 years old in it's current form. When we've only spent a few generations trying to understand the mind, it's pretty bold to start presenting “answers.” This is especially true with mental illnesses. Having said that, I've had several loved ones with such issues, and it isn't complete blarney. I may be a little biased, but I trust these people to honestly tell the difference between a serious problem and a character flaw.
At the same time, it's quite possible that the psychiatric community, in their efforts to understand behaviors, may be a little too eager to diagnose. When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
And consider this: the pharmaceutical industry is a business. Businesses need to make money – nothing wrong with that in principle, but the main method is creating a need or want in the consumers, and it isn't unreasonable to suggest that such need-creation gets out of hand with this industry (and many others).
Here is a questionnaire from a private school that specializes on ODD:
http;//www.discoveryacademy.com


1. Wants to be alone more than with other children of the same age.

2. Complains of dizziness or headaches.

3. Doesn't participate in activities that were previously enjoyable.

4. Argues or is verbally disrespectful.

5. Is more fearful than other children of the same age.

6. Cuts school or is truant.

7. Cooperates with rules and expectations.

8. Has difficulty completing assignments or completes them carelessly.

9. Complains or whines that things are unfair.

10. Experiences trouble with her/his bowels, such as constipation or diarrhea.

11. Gets into physical fights with peers or family members.

12. Worries and/or can't get certain ideas out of his/her mind.

13. Steals or lies.

14. Is fidgety, restless, or hyperactive.

15. Seems anxious or nervous.

It seems that #2 and #10 address a medical concern (and #7 is a control question), the other questions could be chalked-up to someone just being maladjusted.
I learned some more from Webmd.com:
Sufferers of ODD may have abnormal amounts of neurotransmitters.
Family history of mood disorders, mental disorders, inconsistent discipline
2% to 16% of children and teens have ODD. Begins around age 8.
Prevention: “Providing a nurturing, supportive & consistent home environment with a balance of love and discipline” may prevent defiant episodes.
Now here's where the wonder of Bog Conversation kicks in; is anyone familiar enough with mental disorders to give some insights? Am I talking out my ignorance with this one, or is the medical community trying to hang a title on youthful rebellion so they can medicate it?
A few years ago, Tom Cruise caused a stir when he said that Depression could be treated with vitamins & exercise. I don't agree that all cases are that simple, but I'd bet a few could come leaps & bounds with such a treatment. I deffinitely want to hear what people think on this one...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Somethin' for the Fella's



When I started Blogging last August, it was mainly to get my writing ya-ya's out, and to see if I could strike a chord with anyone. I had no idea that there was such a wonderful community out there, and that some fine folks out there began conjuring up awards to let people know that they're appreciated. I'm not one of those nihilistic people who think that everyone's out for themselves with their inflated senses of entitlement (I used to be, but that was when I didn't like myself much, and was abusing myself with bad habits). Still, how this community supports each other is a breath of fresh air for those of us who are looking for the kindred spirits.

Thank you so much to Yvonne at Welcome to My World of Poetry for the From Me to You award. (Sorry it took me so long to get to this) There weren't any stipulations, like 'list your favorite (whatever's),' And I've recently directed people to any Blogs you may not have been introduced to, so feel free to help yourself to this one.



The next one was quite a surprise, a Blogging award that's geared towards men! I'm sure you've noticed that the ladies far outweigh the gents in this arena, and the ladies seem more distraught about this as us! I won't speculate as to why this is, but I heard one theory that women are more likely to be at home during the day.
BULLOCKS! Firstly, “Hello! Can you here me back there in the 1940's?!” Secondly, If anyone's a stay-at-home parent, there's little chance that they can squeeze-out the time to Blog, and Thirdly, a LOT of people are Blogging from work (lucky folks, they are!).
And with that off my chest, Thank you to Alex C for the Witty Banter & a Beer Award. Here are some of the fellas I enjoy my Bloffee with. (If I'm tossing back a few, I'm either with friends, or writing, and not reading. Who knows what kind of stupid shit I'd Comment if I were half in the bag:) )

Firstly, I've got to mention my friend Matt. He's been posting his art, and it's fun to watch him develop, as he's been going to school for animation.

Adam at Throwing Quarters, is another one of the first I stumbled across, and he also has a great Podcast.

Brahm is a special kind of guy – a fellow Canadian, from Edmonton. That's where we (from the Great Lakes area) go to make our climate seem more pleasant!

So hats-off to the blokes who show up and deliver for us, helping me to not feel like I'm one of the few guys doing this!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pay It Forward

Since I started traveling in new Blogging circles, inspired by the A-Z Challenge, it seems that I'm finding no shortage of contests, meme's and themes. The newest one (or, the one I heard of most recently) is the Pay-It-Forward at B Miller Fiction.

As for the contest, you can win either a $25 gift card for the book seller of your choice (Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or Borders), or some pretty solid promotion for your own book. Swing on by and check out the points-allocation rules (if you've seen this kind of contest before, you've probably realized that I'm earning points by writing this). But truth be told, it's a great writers Blog, so if you don't have enough of those on your Reader (who does?), it's certainly worth the time to check out.
You may have heard of the Pay It Forward theme before, I think I have, but I can't remember where. In case you need a refresher (as I did), it's basically payments into the Karma Account with random acts of senseless kindness. Write a story or poem about a time you went out of your way to do something for someone, and simply ask them to pass on the courteous mojo.

As many of you with retail experience know, customers can be dicks. One time, at the drug store, someone was giving the cashier a hard time about an exchange. She just wanted to trade products without going through the returns process. The poor cashier got the brunt of her bile when she informed her of the policy. When the aforementioned dick stormed out, I said “I guess someone's been handing out Day-Passes at the Asshole Asylum.” Personally, I can find it hard to bounce back after someone vents their spleen on me, so I was glad for the chance to transform that hostility into something the cashiers could laugh about.

Also, I'd like to introduce some of you to some Blogs that I've found very entertaining and encouraging. Crazy Texas Mommy was one of the first Blogs I encountered when I was trying to decide if I wanted to give this a go, and it's still one of my favorites.

This is a newer find,Ramblings of a Domestic Goddess and she delivers the sass, Jersey style. Not to mention a healthy dose of wisdom.

Rachel co-authors a diet/fitness Blog, but this is her personal platform, and is always a fun read.

And certainly not least, Vodka Logic is sometimes a poetry Blog, but always entertaining, and is always a great supporter of the Blogs she follows.

I meant to get this up on Saturday, but the Forces of Shit Happens had other plans. The good news is that both my girls are building up their immunity to a fresh strain, the bad news is that they're pretty miserable about it! So Saturday, we took turns nursing the baby with bottles and cuddles, but I had to go back to work on Sunday, so Andrea took the night shift with Calli, and was a super good sport about it. Last night, it was my turn. She slept until 12:30, then was up about every hour until 6. By three AM, I was telling her that if she got me up again, she had to promise to never date anyone I hate.

One last bit of business. I've tried to return the favor to anyone who's followed my Blog, but I'm not sure I've got them all. In particular, there are a couple commenter's with home sites in Asian lettering. I looked for a Translate button, but couldn't find it. If you could clear that up, I'd really appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010





Spring time means so much to all of us, and one of the things it means to me is that it's time to shave my beard. My wife is very pleased.

I started growing it as Calli was being born. I'd taken a week off and was able to get through the scruffy stage without looking like a hobo at work. Turned out, I liked it, and a lot of friends did too. At Christmas, two cousins – both young males – kept petting it. When I said “Wow, that was...tender,” it stopped. Nothing like adolescent homophobia to get them to keep their hands to themselves.

But before the shave, I had to address my main reason for growing the beard: I needed to do my Super Pretentious Writers Photo! Once I shaved my chin and saw myself with mutton chops, I was struck with just how awesome they truly were. I knew I had to work at least one shift like that.

Who'd have thought that my half-shaved face would bring so many people such joy! I was a hit, and asides from a few who weren't too fussed with them, most thought that they were the coolest thing they'd seen all day! Then I remembered that I still needed to have my picture taken for the Safety Committee. Now, my chops will be displayed in the break room for as long as I'm on the SC. Huzzah! The high-light was when I checked my Facebook news page. A friend on vacation (some of you know her as Belbin9) was responding to a message from someone else from work, saying “Will got chops? I don't understand.” I'm sorry she wasn't there to see it.

Oddly, only one person asked me about it; most people pretended not to notice that I was sporting big-assed mutton chops. I'd get little smirks from customers, but they mostly acted as though I wasn't the first person they'd seen in a generation groomed like a 19th century gentleman. I am certain, though, that many of them will go home and say “You'll never guess what I saw today...” On Saturday, Andrea had her best friend, mother, and two aunts over. Not a single comment, not even a double-take. I was crest-fallen. On Sunday I was running an errand, and again, no one blinked.

I think that for my next shave, I'll leave on some big-assed Elvis side burns. I already have the big-assed Elvis gut.