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Maintenance, Literature & Fall Excitement

Taking apart a dryer at 9:30pm on a Sunday night is not my idea of fun. I mean, yes, I did leave the little door/trap open while I cleaned off the screen, and yes, that little booklet to tell how to use the new detergent shouldn’t have been so precariously perched on top of a mountain of mis-matched sock singles, but still.

Our house is older but not super old, built in the 1950’s. It has some issues, like all older houses do. This past Saturday we had the plumbing guys in to snake out the floor drain in the basement, because it was to the point where I was flooding a corner of the basement every time I did laundry. What would have taken us at least a couple hours took him less than an hour, and he said it was nothing we could have prevented – just rusty old pipes. Which kind of made me wonder (but not for too long, because I didn’t want the headache it was bringing on) if the pipes would eventually rust out completely. And if they do, what the heck do we do then? I mean, these are under the basement floor, going out under the foundation and under a two-foot thick patio that the previous owner poured…

Yeah. Not going to think about that this morning either. Our electrical really needs to be redone too, but at least all that is above the foundation. We have a bathroom to fix and remodel, the other bathroom needs some upgrades (yes, needs), the kitchen floor needs to be replaced, and we’d like to put gas fireplaces into the wood burning ones at some point as well. So, lots to do. But it’ll be worth it, eventually.

Last week one of my goals was to make more time for reading. And I did. I’m still working on Tami Hoag’s The Bitter Season – for some reason, the book just isn’t doing it for me, but I’m half-through so might as well finish it. I also read The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie, which really did resonate strongly with me (love her books anyway). Then I started The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which is written in a much more literary style – very high-level prose with the occasional word I have to look up the meaning of. I don’t read a lot of “literature”, mainly because it takes more time and concentration to delve into, and while it’s almost always worth the effort, I don’t always have the energy or time to spend on such involved reading. I’ve been wanting to read this one for awhile now though, so I’ll keep working through it a little at a time. Lovely writing, for sure, and an intriguing story right from the first page.

The other notable thing I did last week was buy a bunch of tickets. Friday was payday, and I bought tickets to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party this coming Saturday at our local Moss Mansion, and then more tickets to their haunted theater show on Oct. 27th just before midnight. Another set of tickets to the Highly Suspect concert on Oct. 7th, and yet more tickets to the Yellowstone Art Museum’s annual Masquerade Party.

So that’s our entertainment sorted for this next month, which is all very exciting. Of course one can’t go to a masquerade without a costume, so hubby and I thought about it, and decided to go as Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf. My riding hood costume and jewelry is ordered and he’s got a suit coming and a mask picked out. He’ll be a very dapper wolf indeed, methinks…no full fur suit or makeup, because he has to fly out on a business trip at 6am the next morning and removing makeup/spirit gum/etc would be a nightmare between leaving the party and getting to the airport at 4am.

Many fun things to look forward to in October…exciting!

For now…it’s Monday, so back to the week-day grind…

Feed Scrolling & Getting Things Done

I’ve noticed something about myself…something some of you might have noticed about yourselves too. I tend to scroll my social media feeds long after I’ve ceased being entertained or amused by them. Even after I’ve commented on what I want to comment on, liked, reacted, or otherwise interacted with people and posts, I keep scrolling. It’s like an automatic Pavlovian response – I don’t get rewarded often, but it’s often enough to keep me hoping for one more little connection somewhere.

It’s a waste of time, is what it really is. And I’m about over it.

Understand – I love social media, even when it makes me crazy, because it’s one of the few ways I can comfortably interact with people I like and/or find interesting while ignoring everyone else. When I need to disconnect, I just do…no fanfare. And then I reconnect again and it’s all good.

But, after I’ve put in whatever meaningful commentary I feel like contributing for the day, I tend to feel like I’m going to miss something if I don’t check back later for replies/comments/reactions/etc. Which is stupid, because every single social media account I have will *let me know* if someone is virtually talking to me. I mean, my cell will buzz at me, or at the very least put a little notification icon up in that left corner. And obviously I’ll reply to notifications as I have time (and a full keyboard, in many cases) – no need to limit that, as I don’t get terribly many.

I don’t have to keep checking back unless I have something to share, or unless I want to check for news, and I only really need to do that a couple times a day – takes 10 minutes or so.

Why do I feel compelled to scroll mindlessly through my social media feed when I could be doing something productive with that time…like writing, or writing a blog post, or watching TV or crocheting, or…well, any number of things, really? I mean sure, sometimes it’s just to relax the mind, and I have no problem with that, but when I feel compelled to scroll through just as I’m sitting down to write or crochet?

Yeah. That’s not a “break”. It’s procrastination coupled with the irrational fear that the world is going on without me and I’ll miss something big if I’m not constantly connected.

I don’t quite “get” why I care what I miss, really. Or even why I feel like I’ll miss something. There is really *no way* to miss something important happening in this day and age if you’re even a little tiny bit connected, and I’m far more connected than that. I couldn’t miss something happening in the world if I *tried* – and often I do try to avoid hearing about certain things with rather mixed results.

Seriously. It’s kind of ridiculous.

I need to just stop. But how? If you said “discipline & redirection”, you’re right! If you said anything else, you could be right too, but those are my personal go-to habit-breakers. I need to decide on a couple of times to check my feeds per day, and then what to redirect to when I feel compelled to scroll outside those prescribed times.

There’s really no need to check my feeds before work – I have other things I need to do with that time (workout, write, *get ready for work*). I may start doing a daily post for my feeds just as a personal accountability writing-goals thing, but I don’t need to scroll to do that, just post. And I normally don’t scroll during the day while I’m at work, so that’s not a problem (too busy, with the occasional lunchtime exception). So once after work and maybe once late at night should be plenty. Then on the weekends if I want to go all-out “zombie-‘netzian” and I have the time (which I often don’t), I can go nuts with the mindless scrolling.

I normally scroll feeds while we’re eating dinner, which is a good time for it, since we’re just watching TV – though I can’t really reply all that easily since I’m generally using my cell. So that will be my main scroll time. The late night time will be dependent on how much writing I get done right away. If I finish the evening’s minimum word count goal (say, 500 words) with time left to spare before bed, then I can use the remainder of time to scroll and reply. Otherwise, no scrolling for the night. That just might be good motivation to settle in and write right away instead of screwing around (ie, scrolling feeds *ahem*) first, actually. Especially if I have comments I need to reply to that evening.

Redirection is easy enough. If I find myself tapping a social site in the morning, just have to redirect myself to whatever I’m supposed to be doing just then (my morning routine is pretty tight). If I find myself tapping over in the evening after my walk, it’s put the cell down and get the yarn. And of course if I’m supposed to be writing, I need to close the browser and write. Discipline plus redirection.

Less mindless scrolling. A good thing, methinks.

Do you scroll mindlessly through your social feeds? Does it bother you, or are you fine with that behavior (which is a perfectly fine/valid perspective, of course)?

Well Alrighty Then

It’s hard to know what to say after a week like last week. Here in the US, we elected a new president, and the results were rather…unexpected (even for the winner, methinks). There’s always some grumbling and complaining after an election, but this time, things are worse. Much worse. Which leads to a whole lot of ugliness that begets a whole lot more thinking and internal processing (or external, judging by my Facebook feed, but that tends to muddle things even more, from the looks of it. I’m not brave enough to check Twitter, which I hear is worse).

Humans can be incredibly cruel to each other. More cruel, I’d argue, than at least some of the fictional killers I’ve written about. But we also tend to be our own worst enemy (individually speaking), and therein lies the rub.

However, there are still plenty of good, decent, kind people out there, and I personally know several. So that gives me hope.

In any case, last week wasn’t really a great week for getting stuff done. In addition to all the election madness, I only worked two days, and while they were quite a bit more productive than my days off, it was still less than I’d wanted to accomplish.

Here’s hoping this week I can find a better groove. Though I will say that the Shinedown/Sixx:AM concert we went to last Weds night was stellar…

I am hopelessly behind on my NaNo novel, and the reason is pretty simple – I’m not making it a priority. And in order to make it a priority, I have to de-prioritize something else, and at present, I really just don’t want to. I need sleep, I still need a tiny bit of reading time, I need to exercise and cook dinner, I need to work (obviously)…and there are only so many hours in the day. Plus I have a novel to proof-read before publication (not mine – another BSB author) and get it off to the format-er, hopefully next week. And then there’s my children’s book that just needs to be edited, formatted, and covered before I release it…

So…there’s really no way I can “win” NaNo this year…and that’s okay. Priorities are made for a reason, and this year, mine just have to be different. I’m still writing regularly again, and that’s really the most important part. I’m keeping my normal writing time, so it’s not like I’m not writing, just…not pushing to get a certain amount of words done quickly.

After dealing with some back and ankle issues last week, I really need to re-prioritize my morning yoga too .I’ve been slacking on that, and it’s painfully (in the literal sense) obvious.

This week, it’s all back to normal – normal schedule, normal routine. I’m going to be cutting out a lot of my “idle” online time (ie, time scrolling aimlessly through social media feeds) because it’s time I could spend actually being productive (or resting, which is important too), and also because it’s hard on my eyes. I need to get back to scheduling days too…on paper, I mean. I’ve fallen away from that, and I really do think it helps.

So…lots of focus on getting myself back to where I need to be, mentally and physically this week. That’s never a bad place to start.

And I need to make Murphy-dog a coat, too. We’re expecting snow on Wednesday, and I, for one, am ready. 🙂

Catchin’ Up

Well then. I kinda got behind on this whole blogging thing, didn’t I? I’m sure the few of you reading along out there were probably busy enough with your own Halloween celebrations (or hidey-hole stocking, for those who don’t participate) that you didn’t even notice I was gone. I should probably do something about that…you know, something to make my posts so charming, so poignant, so completely engrossing that people wait with bated breath until the next missive comes out, but…that just sounds like work.

Save it for fiction, I say. Not that my fiction is especially stunning just yet, but I like to think it’s improving.

On the costumes, hubby and I went to the party as Bob Ross and a Happy Little Tree. It went over very well, thank you very much. The party was a blast…really fun seeing what everyone else came up with. Can’t wait to go again next year!

bobntree

The yard haunt went really well too, though I haven’t had a chance to transfer the pics from my cell yet. But they’re all over Instagram & Facebook, if you’re so inclined to follow/friend me on either of those. Not many trick-or-treaters, but lots of friends dropped by to chat, which is always fun.

In any case, Halloween is over, the bodies are back in the basement (well, most of ’em), and we spent most of this weekend taking the yard haunt down and just cleaning house in general. I may have even had a brief dalliance with a dust rag…but I don’t think that particular relationship is going anywhere long-term.

My neighbors seem to be a little confused as to the season – most of ’em took down their Halloween stuff and put out Christmas wreaths and flowers and things. I put out a nice autumn leafy-wreath on the door, some faux leaves and squashes in the door basket-decor-thingy by the steps, and another leafy wreath and some fall-leaf garland in the front window. Because as far as I know, Thanksgiving still comes before Christmas, right? And it’s still fall, not winter…

This weekend was also “fall back” to Standard Time, and I love that. I wish we could just stay in standard time year-round, but I like the dark, and I have no problem at all with it getting dark early in the evening. Judging from my facebook feed, I’m in the minority on that one, but at least people are whining about something other than politics for a change.skullcameoroseandlace

I got the second part of my right forearm (outside) tattooed last week too – a bit of lace and a big rose that ties directly in with my skeleton cameo (inside forearm). It turned out just amazing. Once it heals, I’ll try to get a quick video of the full forearm piece. That’s the last tattoo for this year – I need to pay some bills and do some budgeting work, and I also need a break from the itchy-healing process. It’s a really nice one to end the year with though. And the last one that’s really visible on a daily basis, at least until I get a few smaller bees/moths on my other arm to sort of fill in little open spaces.

I have a couple of goals I need to meet before I can get my next tattoo…I’ve decided tattoos are an excellent incentive/reward for completing goals. For the next one, I need to pay off one line of credit (completely) and lose (and keep off) the 5lbs I’ve put on over the last month or so due to bad eating habits and blowing off yoga in the mornings (ironically, part of that was due to healing tattoos, but still…).

I think I can accomplish both of those by next February, so hopefully I’ll be getting my next tattoo then. We shall see…

In the meantime, my husband decided to do NaNoWriMo this year (National Novel Writing Month), and I couldn’t very well let him do it by himself, so I decided to jump in again too. I’m woefully behind on word count already, but I have three days off this next week (Tues and Fri are holidays, Weds I’m taking a vacation day), so hopefully I can make up some wordage during that time.

As to the story I’m writing – I got the idea from my skeleton cameo tattoo. About three days after I got her done, she started talking to me, telling me a story involving a woman on the run, a voodoo priestess, a guardian talisman and a mystery waiting to be solved. Incidentally, her name is Misty. So I’m writing the Mystery of Misty for NaNo this month, as well as trying to get The Time Stone (Book One of The Stone Scavengers – a young/middle-grade story) edited and formatted for release in December. Busy busy!

So then…I think we’re all caught up now. Next time, remind me to tell you about a very cool stamp app the USPS just released this summer. Hopefully by next week I’ll be caught up with my postcard exchange as well, which has been on hold (along with everything else) due to Halloween madness.


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This Noisy World

This past Saturday morning I went out to clean up the yard a bit, as I occasionally do. At first, it was cool, quiet and peaceful, and I love being outside when it’s like that. But it never seems to last for long, and as usual, pretty soon I was hearing chain saws, yard trimmers, nail guns, and the occasional motorcycle and loud car driving past.

I can’t adequately describe the effect the sound of a power tool has on my psyche. It’s very close to the quintessential “nails-on-a-chalkboard” analogy. My muscles tighten, my teeth want to grind, and all I can think about is how to get away from the noise. If I’m ready for it, and I know it’s necessary for something we’re working on, I can handle it, but just random neighborhood noise that never, ever seems to quit as long as there’s daylight…it makes me want to move to that oft-romanticized cabin-in-the-woods.

It seems like lately this is an ongoing thing, on the weekends at least. I understand on a practical level – it’s cooler in the mornings, and people need to get things done, but at the same time, I just…want quiet. I want to be able to go out on the back patio, drink my tea, and enjoy the (late) morning without having to listen to machinery constantly grinding at my brain.

The majority of humans do seem to lean toward the “noisy” side of things. I know a great many people who cannot sit in a quiet room for too long without doing something to break the silence. As I write this, my dogs are snoozing and I’m in my quiet living room, the only noise is my fingers tapping across the keyboard…which is how I prefer things to be, perhaps without the occasional shout/yell from the neighbor kids playing in the yard. There is no radio on, no TV, it’s just…quiet. Which is exactly what my introverted little self needs to rest and recharge.

But after I pegged humans as the noisiest living beings on earth, I realized that wasn’t true at all. Nature is not “quiet” either. There are generally always birds chirping, squirrels chattering, other animals talking to each other incessantly (and probably driving other animal-introverts insane). Add to that rushing rivers, waves lapping at beaches, trees blowing in the breeze, grasses rustling, insects buzzing, and wind itself howling along as a merry backdrop to the whole thing. It can actually get quite cacophonous at times, especially when you add in mating seasons and migratory patterns.

Natural noise doesn’t bother me nearly as much as a lot of man-made noise though. I don’t know why.

I was born in the winter, when the natural soundtrack to life is quieter overall, both in the city and out. Snow crunches, ice cracks, cars are out for as little time as possible and people are huddled inside staying warm. For the most part, things are quieter, more muffled. There is no outside construction, no lawn care, no bending nature to our will (okay, the occasional snow-blower or shovel, but it’s as quick as possible, because everyone just wants to go get warm again). And I wonder sometimes if that contributed to why I am the way I am…that is, why I prefer quiet…silence, even, to the hustle and bustle of a summer cityscape.

I do like music, of course, and I like to watch TV, and videos, and I even like a good party here and there. I just wish it was easier to find these quiet times in which to think and recharge and even get things done. I am vastly more productive in a dead quiet environment – and I realize I am in a severe minority on that particular point.

Maybe someday, perhaps when I retire, I’ll be able to live somewhere quieter. Somewhere slower, where maybe new construction and perfectly manicured lawns aren’t the most important weekend activities to complete.

And then I’ll have something different to complain about. Like the fact that the nearest pizza place is a hundred miles away…


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On Notes, Ink, Postcards, & Peace Camp

Funny how the first three title subjects have something to do with writing, and yet for the purposes of this post, it’s the most tenuous of threads…

The Note(s)
My Note 7 showed up on Wednesday to brighten up a rather gray week, and it is everything I hoped it would be and more. I love it, and though I still have a few things to get working correctly (like photos saving to Dropbox, etc), it’s functioning mostly like the Note 3 did. I factory-reset the Note 3 for my husband, who is actually using it to make lists and such, which is impressive. So we’ll see if he gets as much utility out of such a handy device as I do or not.

Note7

The screen is especially beautiful and clear, and the camera is pretty awesome too. Great low-light photos…they weren’t kidding!

It took the better part of an evening to get everything transferred over, and then part of another to get all my passwords put in (and I’m still not sure I have them all yet). Then there’s tweaking the settings for things, and turning notifications on and off, and figuring out the blue-light filter (which is awesome, because it makes the screen so much easier on my eyes). I can, indeed read on this screen with the filter on, which is awesome.

Fun, fun, but time consuming. Between that and work, the rest of the week flew right by.

The Ink
Saturday I got one of the two tattoos planned…there wasn’t time for two, but Andrew did a really amazing job on my barn spider in just an hour and a half. Meet Earl…Charlie’s new “arm-mate”:

Earl

Isn’t he cool? He’s still a bit swollen (takes 3-4 days for the swelling to go down), but I can’t wait to see how he turns out once he’s all healed. I’ll go back in two weeks to get my grasshopper/ladybug on the upper side of my wrist, and then I’ll let this arm heal for several months before doing anything else with it.

One more tattoo on the inside of my other forearm, and that will be it for this year. Fun stuff!

The Postcards
Then Sunday, I finally sat down and got several postcards ready to mail out. One for my own postcard exchange, and seven for Postcrossing exchanges. Apparently there are a lot of postcard collectors/swappers in Russia, because every one of the names I drew this time are from there. Hopefully next time I can draw a better mix? Not that it matters too much, I suppose…I sent them all a small bit of Montana.

8_29_2016

Peace Camp
So when I sat down last night to write this post, I had the TV on for noise (the dogs are used to it being on in the evenings, so they settle better when things are “normal”). I turned the channel to PBS World, figuring it’s normally politics and world news, so there wouldn’t be too much to grab my attention. Alas, I should have left it on a stupid sit-com or something, because it ended up being a documentary on this Peace Camp that brought together a group of girls from different parts of the middle east and basically worked with them on learning how to communicate, and how to respect other people’s beliefs even when you know you won’t agree, and how to be okay with that in a non-violent way.

It was fascinating, and it followed the lives of these girls for quite a few years after and how some of them struggled to keep in touch, and never gave up trying to communicate and come together. I couldn’t help but think that we all could use more of that – face-to-face time in small groups of people who believe differently, moderated so no one group can gang up on the other, with exercises that make us admit to/acknowledge the “human-ness” of the people on the other side of the wall, so to speak.

Kids need this. All kids, in my opinion. These were teens when they started, and I think that’s the perfect time to really instill that respect for other humans, especially those who disagree with our personal beliefs/philosophies.

I have more to say on the matter, but will wait until I can distill it into a less chaotic set of thoughts in my own head and give it a separate post. The documentary really made me think though, and gave me hope for future generations even in the midst of such unrest. I’m glad I got distracted by it, even if it did make this post late.

The Plan
Sneaking in one more section here – I’ve been seriously slacking lately. Too much unproductive time, which just leads to more unproductive time and less productive thinking. It’s a bad downward spiral that I really want to spin the other way. So I’m working on not just being more productive this week, but also giving certain projects less time. Which sounds counter-productive, but the less time I have to work on something, the more focused I am while I’m working on it and in a lot of cases, I get more done because of that.

So the hope is to get more done on the projects I need to get done during the week, leaving more time on the weekends for stuff I do just for enjoyment (without the guilt). Call it an experiment. Hopefully a productive one…


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Gone to the Dogs: Life’s Little Pleasures

MurphAndHedgeHog

Murphy sez: Hey Mica, that new hedgehog we got is as big as my head. Do you think I should chew his nose off first, or his toes?

Mica sez: I don’t know about you, but I’m going for the stomach. That’s where those weird chattery sounds come from. Not quite a squirrel, but not like a squeak either. What is that, anyways? And are hedgehogs normally that big? I can barely get my mouth around it…

Murphy sez: It sure is fun getting mail, isn’t it? I had that giraffe’s ears and tail off quicker than J could eat dinner. Though she’s slow, so that doesn’t mean much. But still. Got a hole in him already too. I don’t get why J doesn’t want me to eat the stuffing though. Isn’t that what it’s there for?

Mica sez: Yeah, I don’t think so. I don’t know how you can eat that stuff anyways – it’s pretty dry. I just leave it on the floor. Like dry, warm snow. My stomach had enough problems this week, but it’s all J’s fault. Not sure why she thought she could get away without making treats last weekend, but all that freeze-dried meat is kinda rough on the digestive system after awhile. We didn’t even get to walk on Wednesday night ‘cause I was sick! Geez.

Murphy sez: I don’t know why you have such a sensitive tummy, Mica. I can eat anything just fine. Even those bones I found in the street on Tuesday night. It was kind of embarrassing when J pulled them right back out of my throat when we got back on the sidewalk. Sheesh. I was just cleaning up a little. Didn’t even get enough of a taste to tell if it was rabbit or chicken. Huh.

PupJoy_June16

Mica sez: You know you’re not supposed to just eat stuff off the street, Murph. We’re not that desperate, and you never know what you might catch. J says we’re not supposed to eat anything without her permission. But somehow I doubt you’ll remember that the next time a stranger tries to give you treats…

Murphy sez: Stranger, schmanger. If those little girls riding their bikes by last night and callin’ us cute wanted to give me treats, that’s fine by me. I’ll risk it. I’m tough. And so is my tummy!

Hey, what do you think J meant when she held up that bottle out of our Pupjoy box, and said she was gonna take us out on the patio this weekend and make us smell like u-calypt-us and lav-en-dar? Was that cologne? ‘Cause I don’t think I need cologne…

Mica sez: I think she might have been talkin’ about baths, Murph. Honest to goodness baths with water and everything. Which means she’s lost her mind, and we’re gonna have to fight for our lives. Maybe she’ll forget. Or get too busy. I hope she gets too busy.

Murphy sez: Hey – we still don’t really have many pictures for the post this week – and they’re mostly me. What gives? I thought we talked to J about that?

MurphStretch

Mica sez: I think she’s workin’ on it. There’s this thing called Pawscam coming out – it’s new. Cameras for our collars, Murph. She’s gonna order them next week (they go on sale July 5th), and they should be here in September. Then we’ll get to take the pictures – even on our walks! Fun, right?

Murphy sez: But September’s a long ways away – she just needs to get her butt into gear and take more pictures. Or we’ll give *her* a bath. Sheesh.

Mica sez: Yeah, yeah…you’re right. I guess I could cooperate a little more. I don’t really like that flashy thing pointed at my face, but…

Murphy sez: Our fans need us, Mica. Ya gotta cooperate.

Mica sez: Shush, you whipper-snapper. Just ‘cause you got another link added to your prong collar for walks, and you get to leave your legging off for longer times now doesn’t mean you’re all that. Just you wait until I start getting video of you rolling around on the floor like a total weirdo. Then these guys will know what you’re really like.

Murphy sez: A cute and funny cuddle-bug, you mean? Nothin’ wrong with that, Mica. Maybe they’ll give me more treats…

Mica_Murphy


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Gone to the Dogs: Yes, Indeed. We’re Walkin…

Our Walkin' Gear...

             Our Walkin’ Gear…

Murphy sez: So, that little girl who petted us the other night while we were out walkin’ was pretty cute, wasn’t she Mica? I’m glad we get to go walking earlier now. I don’t like walking after dark. And we stay on the sidewalk more, too. Easier on my feet.

Mica sez: She was pretty cute…and not much bigger than us. But I’m surprised you even noticed, Murph. You were raring to keep on truckin’. You sure have more get-up-and-go lately. Though I notice you still kinda collapse when we get home, while I’m chewin on bones and stuff.

Murphy sez: This new route we’ve got is better. I know J thinks it’s more boring, ‘cause we don’t get to see all the pretty yards and go zig-zagging through the neighborhood, but now that we stay on busy streets, we don’t see loose dogs much even if we go earlier – and the only ones we’ve seen all week have been down side-streets and across the street from us.

MurphyHead

Mica sez: People do tend to keep a better eye on their pups when there’s traffic involved, thank goodness. And it is kind of nice walking in the sunshine, when the sidewalks aren’t too hot. If we could just get people to stop breaking bottles along 17th Street, that would be nice. So much glass – gotta watch where we step! But I think we’ve both done a good job of avoiding it so far, eh Murph?

Murphy sez: Yep. The glass and the extra motorcycles are the worst part – but I’m getting used to the motorcycles. It’s mainly the dirt bikes that drive me nuts. Well, and those big rumbly ones. They should all die – so noisy! They make me anxious…and you know what happens when I’m anxious. But I have to keep walking when we’re out, so that’s good. At home that might make me think about chewing my leg…

Mica sez: I noticed. Good thing J’s on it when that biker visits the people across the street. I don’t know why they have to keep that bike running so long when they aren’t actually riding it, but it seems like forever. I don’t really bark at motorbikes though. I prefer cars and people. When we’re not walking, anyway. No need to bark when we’re out explorin’!

Murphy sez: You’re funny when we get near sprinklers. It’s like you think you’re gonna melt or something. I don’t especially like them either, but I don’t mind walking on the damp pavement, at least. And I don’t have to pee every five feet either. Geez, Mica. Do you really have ta pee on every power pole and mailbox along the way? I mean, I mark my route too, but I try to keep things in check…

Mica sez: Sprinklers are evil. And wet paws are just nasty. You’d think with your sensitive footsies there that you’d be more understanding, dude. And yes, I mark a lot. I’m older. I have to remind myself where I’ve been in case I ever need to find my way home.

MicaHead

Murphy sez: I think you just enjoy it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but…well, it is kind of crass. Especially with people driving by and watching.

Mica sez: Nah…most of ‘em aren’t even looking at us, Murph. J says they’re looking down at their phone, or talking on it, or reaching for something else. It’s kind of a wonder they get anywhere like that. Me, I like to stop and smell the roses. That’s my distraction. Maybe take a taste or two – or I would if J would let me. Mmm…roses.

Murphy sez: J is kind of strict about that no-eating thing on our walks. I mean, there was a perfectly good biscuit on the sidewalk last night, and she told us to “leave it” and just kept walking! Wasted food, I tell you what. It’s sad.

Mica sez: Yeah, she worries too much. But we do stay safe, mostly, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Murphy sez: I thought maybe she should get some pictures while we’re out walking – you know, of the stealth bunnies and any dogs we have to avoid. Maybe even people we meet…most of ‘em are very nice, and tell us all the time how pretty we are. But she says she has her hands full with both of us. We are kind of a handful, I guess. But we behave pretty well, and heel most of the time.

Mica sez: My personal favorites are the people who wonder how she can handle us all by herself. We do weigh more than she does, when you combine our weight. But the prong collars remind us we’re with her when we see a bunny or cat or anything small and fuzzy, so we don’t pull her down. The rest of the time, we’re good, and she’s pretty strong.

Murphy sez: And she’s our fearless leader – of course we walk nice for her! I did hear her mumble something about a collar cam the other day…how fun would that be? We could take the pictures while we’re walking!

Mica sez: Sounds like it could be a pain in the neck to me – have you seen the shape/size of those things? But we’ll see. J does like her gadgets. I’m game if she is…

BoneTired


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A Memorial Day Writing Assignment

It’s Memorial Day here in the US, and last night, I looked up the origins of the holiday. Apparently Decoration Day was the day established after the civil war to remember those who had lost their lives in battle – literally fighting for freedom. It was the day to decorate graves and remember the ultimate sacrifice that so many paid for others to be free. I have no idea how that actually worked back then, as the Confederate soldiers were actually fighting *against* freedom for their slaves, but somehow the holiday was established and eventually morphed into Memorial Day. It’s kind of ironic that the government decided to move the date so it would always be a convenient three-day weekend, and there is a movement afoot to get that changed, so the holiday has a more proper “focus” (rather than just the long weekend that marks the official start of summer for so many). I’m sure it will never happen, because people do like their long weekends, but that would be a better way to put the focus on the holiday itself, rather than the BBQ’s that are so prevalent on this particular weekend…

In any case, I got to thinking about what it would be like to be “in the trenches” so to speak, and know that your last breath could be any moment now without some sort of miracle. Would you think about why you’re there, why you’re fighting? Would your life flash before your eyes? Would you pull out that picture in your pocket and say a quick goodbye? Would you even have the chance to think or process that you’re going to die?

Yes, I know, this is all very maudlin, but considering the people who have died (and continue to die) in service, it seems only right to explore those questions and try to empathize with what they might have been feeling, at least to some degree. We can never actually be in another person’s head, but we can imagine what it might be like if we spend some time in that head space. I think we owe them a little time thinking about it, in any case. They did give up their lives, after all.

In light of that, I’ve given myself a special writing assignment that will be in effect on all Memorial Days from here on out, starting today. I need to write a scene wherein an officer is near death while serving in some capacity. It doesn’t have to be a full story, but it does need to explore the head space that my fictional officer might be in given whatever circumstances he or she happens to end up in that will ultimately result in his/her death. This is how I explore things – how I learn what others might be experiencing or feeling – I create a character, and then let them tell me their story.

I may or may not share these with anyone – after all, it’s really more of an exercise in empathy for me. No two characters ever end up alike (I don’t script my characters…I let them tell me who they are, so it all comes from my subconscious, not my conscious mind), so it should be someone different in completely different circumstances every year.

This will be a challenge for me, as my conscious mind sort of rebels against military service, even though I understand the necessity and strategy behind the “machine”. But this is one of the big reasons why I write – because it helps me understand and empathize with viewpoints that are sometimes dramatically different than my own. A way to expand my perspective, so to speak.

And yes, we are having ribs for dinner. It is a holiday, after all…

Gone to the Dogs: Behold the Gates of Hell

Innocent1

Murphy sez: I had no idea that the entrance to the underworld was right at our front door, but last Sunday, this guy I’d never met before walked right in (J let him!), and the next thing I know, Mica and me were squaring off over who got to get petted first. At least I think that’s what we were fighting over. Hard to say, since I was so excited and all.

Mica sez: That human is really fun. He loves us dogs, and he’s got a loud voice, and he’s mine. I don’t know why you had to horn in on my fun. I mean, he always makes me sit, but it’s okay, ‘cuz I like him. You were all hoppy and excited, I was jumpy and excited, the entryway is kinda small…

Murphy sez: Yeah, but I’m top dog around here – we already agreed about that. We don’t fight about anything else, so this is stupid. Also, I like humans. And treats. We could share, I guess. But I get to be the greeting committee. It’s my job.

Mica sez: Yeah, well, doesn’t look like either of us is gonna get to do that for awhile, since we had to go another round on Wednesday. It’s not like we knew the mailman was just dropping off a package – he knocked, I thought he was coming in. And greeting should be my job, dang it. It’s been my job for years. Why do you gotta ruin everything?

J sez: Simmer down, boys. You’re both done being hooligans. You’ll either learn to behave when someone knocks, or you’ll learn to kennel up. I’d prefer the whole behaving like civil dogs option myself, but I’m not above crating if need be. Either way, you’ve both got a weekend of intense training ahead. Murphy needs to meet my parents, since they take care of you guys when we’re gone.

I can just about reach 'em...

The infamous gate. And new bowl of treats. I can just about reach ’em…

Murphy sez: Well that sounds ominous. We’ll be good, right Mica? I like meeting new people. Or it seems like fun, anyways. Unless we’re walking. I don’t much care for people interrupting our walks. Can’t they see we’re busy patrolling? It’s serious business.

Mica sez: I’ll consider behaving. The flower stuff J gave me for “calming” kind has me way mellow right now. I think she overdid it. That, or all these sore muscles from rumblin’ with you. I’m not a youngster anymore, Murph. Dang it.

Murphy sez: Me neither, but I have good joint supplements. J should get you some without fish, so you can have some too. That ter-mer-ik seems to be helping though. Good thing she gave you extra last night. She gave me some new flower stuff too – I kinda like it, but too soon to tell if it’s gonna help me with weird noises or not like it’s supposed to. Whatever. It tastes good, anyways.

Mica sez: It’s kind of ironic that we got into a fight when the mailman brought us calm-down stuff. He was probably glad J didn’t get a chance to open the door until he was gone. I don’t think the guy from Sunday will be back anytime soon either. B said we sort of traumatized him with all our yelling. If he does come back, I think he should give us treats.

Murphy sez: I do love treats – yum! I wonder if I could knock that new treat bowl off the shelf by the front gate. I know J put it there to reward us for being nice when we’re in that area together, but it’s not really *that* high up…

Mica sez: Hey Murph – do you realize you’ve been here three weeks now? I kinda thought you were just here for a visit. But seems like you’ll be staying, eh?

Murphy sez: Yeah, I think I live here now. Maybe that’s why we’re both a bit on edge with the door thing. I mean, everyone’s polite while they’re just visiting (or entertaining guests) right? Decide to move in together, and pretty soon you’re wandering around without your socks and chewing each other’s raw bones. Don’t even get me started on bedhead…

Mica sez: *sigh* Neither of us have enough hair for bedhead, Murphy. You’re getting loopy….

CozySnoozin


Tune in next week for more Murphy & Mica! Or subscribe to get us in your inbox – use the subscription link in the right sidebar and pick “Gone to the Dogs”. Like these posts? Consider a donation to Murphy & Mica’s favorite charities – the shelters that helped them when they needed it most! 

Murphy’s shelter: Donate to The Rimrock Humane Society
Mica’s shelter: Donate to Help for Homeless Pets