It's November 3rd.  2013.  Sunday.  Or, Day 3 of NaNoWriMo.  I'm doing it again.  I've been staring at a blank screen for a couple of hours now and trying to peel my inner critic from my keyboard.  I know crap when I read it and I know NaNo is all about writing crap and getting it out on paper so you'll have something to work with, but I just can't do it.  I have no problem writing crap later once I get into the swing of it.  It's just the initial entry.  The Official Page One NaNo2013.  Just like any other novel you pick up off the shelf, the first line sets the stage for the rest of the book.  It's a mental speedbump.  For instance, the following first lines:

It was 7 minutes after midnight.  (the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon)  Short, sweet.  Easy Peasy.  I'd read on to see what's going on at 12:08.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and kaydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  (The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson)  I can't wait to get into this story.  Of course, I've already read it twice but still...  What madness awaits.

The fat one, the radish Torez, he calls me Camel because I am Persian and because I can bear this August sun longer than the Chinese and the Panamanians and even the little Vietnamese, Tran. (House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III)  It was a national book award finalist.  An Oprah's Book Club book.  It was made into a film.  In other words, a pretty big deal.  I couldn't finish it.  I tried.  The opening line killed it for me. Especially since the rest of the book was very much the same.  Maybe it was the form.  Maybe because it didn't hint at any exciting action.  I don't know.  That opening line was a massive speedbump.

So, for NaNoWriMo, while I give myself permission to write willy-nilly for 30 days regardless of the quality, I find I can't progress with any momentum unless I hook myself with a halfway decent first line.
The husband has built a nifty fire outside and I've got the makings of a white russian or a nice bottle of wine.  I think I'll slink away from the screen for a bit.  Have a drink.  Let my mind wander.  Enjoy the golden light of this lovely November afternoon.  It'll come to me.  It's just a speedbump.


So long Tuco.

Jim just took Tuco to the vet to be executed. Poor old dog has been yelping at night and wandering around out in the cold. He doesn't get up to do his business any more and will pee all over himself. He's shivering non-stop. I moved the portable heater that I use on my feet into the library for him this morning but it didn't seem to do much for him. He hasn't been eating. I saw him get a drink but his stomach is bloated, according to Jim, and he's not passing much. Poor old dog. He can barely see, hears very little, and has a hard time getting around. He's been spending a lot of time down by the garden fence. The sun hits it and reflects the heat and the dogs and chickens go down there during the day to take advantage of the warmth. He was down there for hours yesterday, leaning back on it with his muzzle to the sun. Poor old dog. I got up at four something last night to spend time with him and settle him down. He was crying. He finally went to sleep and I wrapped him in his blanket. His breathing is very slow. Slower than mine. I really thought he would die last night. I finally went back to bed at 5:15 when it was apparent that he was asleep. Poor old dog. Jim took him in the big cat carrier on his favorite blanket. I pet his head and made much of him and told him goodbye and that I was sorry. It's a hard decision to make but I think I can safely say there is absolutely no quality of life left. I made Jim promise that he would pet his head while they were giving him the needle and to stay with him while he died. Hopefully Tuco won't be too afraid. I hated taking Bastet. She was afraid of the people, the other animals, the smell, the sounds. But she could no longer move around and was peeing on herself, too. For a few days I rolled her bed to the potty tray and she was able to drag herself in and out but eventually that proved too difficult for her. She missed Goliath too much and didn't want to live any more.
And so now Jim is going to go through what I did with her. I couldn't stand to go through it again. It's not an entirely peaceful way to go. So, Tuco will be buried in the back yard next to Chigliak. He'll be in a spot where his remains won't be disturbed. Jim and I got Tuco before we were married. He was a pound hound in Danville. Already an adult and now about fifteen years later he's finally giving out. Plagued with seizures and skin problems, it's a wonder he lasted this long. He would have been the world's worst hunting dog. I'd have to laugh every time I saw him "chasing" a squirrel. I'd see a squirrel go hippity hopping across the patio, say from left to right, and then Tuco would run through baying at the top of his lungs, going in the opposite direction. The dog couldn't catch a cold. He was loud and smelly but I'll still miss him.
Poor old dog. When I told Alex what was going to happen to Tuco today she said he's been mostly dead for years. She's right. I thought he was going to cash in his chips a long time ago.
Our neighbour Charlie will miss him. He always calls Tuco, old dog Jack.

Well, I guess I can't say too much more about Tuco. Named for Eli Wallach's character in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Tuco Ramirez. Our Corgi is named after the Clint Eastwood role, Blondie. And now we have a mishmash terrier named after another Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Hairy Callahan. I wonder if the other dogs will miss Tuco or wonder where he's gone. They both knew he wasn't well. They never bothered him or tried to play with him. I guess they knew he wasn't interested in that stuff. They never tried to take away his food either. It was as if they respected him a little bit. I'd like to think so any way. Old dog Jack. Poor old dog.
That'll be it for dogs for awhile. No more animals. Even though Alvin, the cat from two doors down, is trying very hard to become a member of our family. Jim has drawn the line.
Goodbye Tuco.


New Name.

Prompt: New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Cat. That's who I used to be. I liked her. She was a lot of fun. But then she got married and got serious and had a child and somehow the middle aged married mom swallowed her whole. Sometimes she tries to get out but the mum in sensible shoes is able to squash her back down where no one can see or hear her anymore.
I miss her.


5 Minutes: Selective amnesia

Prompt: 5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

2010 was a bad year. If I could wipe it out of my mind I'd do so. Even so, my entire five minutes would be made up of images of our vacation in Banner Elk, NC. We had done the touristy stuff the year before. This year was just hiking the trails. It had apparently rained quite well right before we arrived and there were water falls everywhere. Every fissure in the great slabs of rock that lined the road ways were weeping. Having left our area that was deep in the clutches of a hot, baking drought, the intense green of the Blue Ridge Parkway took my breath away. Every surface was cool and moist, emerald green moss and delicate ferns were everywhere. The difference was like night and day. I remember one morning we hiked up to a lookout and to get there we had to walk through a fairly thin woods. It was so quiet. The clouds were low, around my ankles low. The swirling mist felt good against my face. I felt like I was the only one on the mountain that morning. When we finally got to the lookout we could see nothing but dense cloud cover. You could barely make out the shapes of trees below us. My husband and my daughter and I decided to have our lunch early, sitting on the cool stones, waiting for the sun to burn off the morning mist. A lady from Ohio stopped by, we chatted for a bit, and then the fog swallowed her up. Once again we were alone. It was an odd feeling. I rather liked it. I imagined myself living in the area and taking walks like that every day. Having a small farm with a horse, chickens, a big garden. A creek running through it. It sounds like heaven to me. I swear if school wasn't an issue I'd start looking for a piece of property right now. On the desktop of my computer I have our local weather listed as well as Banner Elk. Plus, I can pull up the weather cam, http://www.highcountrywebcams.com/hwy184/livecam.html, and see what's going on downtown. They've decorated for Christmas. That's another thing about the area...Christmas trees...everywhere you look. I believe it must be one of the main sources of income for the area.
Well, I'm sure that my five minutes is up and there's much more that I want to remember about that week. It was wonderful. Kind of offset the rest of the 2010 suckfest to make it bearable. I bet they have snow up to their ass by morning.

School is canceled tomorrow on threat of snow. The kidlet is happy. I'm looking forward to a nice lie in. I've got to make cookies tomorrow. I bought a ham today and I might just throw that bad boy in the oven, too. No formal Christmas ham here. That will be at Jim's grandfather's house. Ham biscuits the size of postage stamps and every sweet known to man. This weekend is the white elephant party. woohoo. Small woo. Let's just say, it's not my thing. I usually have to leave the party at some point just to wander around and check out the artwork. It's at the clubhouse in the gated community where Jim's mom and new husband live. Unfortunately, there's not that much artwork. It'll be too freaking cold to take off outside.
I guess the impending weather is what brought every crazy in Chesterfield out to the supermarket. Kroger was slammed packed to the gills with people who acted as if they were the only ones shopping. Wall to wall. I helped one lady wrestle 150 pounds of dogfood into her cart. She was very pleasant. And joked around with an older lady about the run on cheese. The shelves were bare! Most every one else was in a foul mood it seemed. I guess Christmas means something different to them than it does to me.
Picked up some stocking stuffers for my kidlet. No giant box of nerds this year. I think she still has the box from last year. She has candy stashed all over the place. Halloween candy, christmas candy, and even valentines candy. And not just crap candy either. The kid has CHOCOLATE BARS for pete's sake. It's all I can do to keep myself from flipping her room in search of a kitkat. Hopefully she'll keep that willpower until she's old and gray.
Candy hoarder. I guess there are worse things to be.



Prompt: Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

That would have to be the husband. Every once in awhile he disappoints me but he never lets me down. He's one of those long suffering types. I don't know how to express gratitude for him. He gets mad when you thank him or make much of him. I make cookies that I know he'll like, cook his favourite meal occasionally, make sure he has clean clothes. There's not much you can do for him that will illicit any kind of response. He's a flatliner. So the best I can hope to do is just make sure stuff is done around the house. If there is something I'm not doing he tends to tell me. Yeah, sometimes I feel like the help but what the hell. I can do whatever I want. I don't have to punch a clock anywhere...well...besides 7:00 p.m. So I am grateful that he goes to work every day and makes sure that the kidlet and I are healthy, have whatever pills we need, that sort of thing. It doesn't sound like much but I am very thankful that he is in my life.


Body integration?

Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

WTF? I'm not really sure what this prompt means. The only thing I can think of that might even relate to this is the way I felt after hiking to the top of a trail on the
Blue Ridge Parkway and having a stunning view. Heart beating, legs aching, a good steady breeze in my face, and clean fresh crisp air filling my lungs.
That's it.

Some of these prompts aren't speaking to me. It's 3:42, cold and rainy, and it looks like 6:00. In a bit I'll need to get up and take the camera outside so I can chase off the vultures. The neighbour killed a deer and threw the carcass in his backyard. The hundred or so vultures that come to roost in my front yard every night have no reason to even leave now. Dumbass. They don't like the camera flash at all and it really drives them in a tizzy. It's an awesome sound to have that many large birds taking off at once, crashing through the treetops, hissing. Kind of freaky, too. If I miss the small window of opportunity they will be there all night. I hate to disturb Pip who is asleep on my lap. She throws off a tremendous amount of heat. I wish I could get her to sleep on my feet at night. :o)


11 Things

December 11 – 11 Things What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

  1. Continuing with my packrat mentality. I'm not a hoarder like my parents but I feel a moral obligation to reduce, reuse and recycle. It kills me to have to buy things at the grocery store that are packaged in #5 or #6 plastic because I can't recycle that stuff. I try to reuse it for seed trays and what not but honestly, there's just too much of it. I'll use a ziplock baggie nearly 20 times before it goes in the trash. Just knowing that it'll still be around long after I'm dead does my head in. So, in 2011 I will do my best not to buy items that are overpackaged or in something that I can't recycle.
  2. Too much alone time. I can very easily fall into a cycle that keeps me home, only going out when I need to pick up milk or whatever. In 2011 I'll try to get out more.
  3. More books. I love books. I feel better when surrounded by books. But I have to stop adding to the stash. I think deep down I'm compensating for something that is lacking. I need to find out what that something is and stop building my wall of books.
Ok, three is about it for me. There are other things I'd like to eliminate from my life in 2011 but unfortunately I'm stuck there. Grin and bear it type stuff. Besides, this exercise in negativity is counter productive in my opinion. I really don't have that much in my life that I feel needs to be eliminated. I guess that's a good thing.