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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…

Credit Monitoring, Fingerless Gloves & Lottery

Do you monitor your credit? I haven’t for a long time, mostly because I know Experian has my file messed up, and they pretty much refused to fix it last time I contacted them about it. It’s incredibly frustrating because my maiden name is essentially the same as my dad’s name (James/Jamie), which means even when I contact creditors to have them tell Experian that a line of credit isn’t mine, they get confused too due to the name thing. The last two times I applied for a home loan, I had to write and collect a bunch of letters from my dad and to Experian in order to prove that the lines of credit that are his aren’t mine, and vice versa. It’s insanely annoying.

Enter the great Equifax hack of…well, last spring, I guess. No, I didn’t go look to see if I was affected…I mean, I think it’s safe to assume that my data is out there in the ether. I’m still a bit shocked that they cared so little about security as to ignore three warnings and also failed to update their system with prompt patching (mostly because I’m a database admin, and I am completely paranoid/anal about doing whatever’s necessary to keep the data I’m responsible for safe). But then I think about the customer “service” I’ve received from them in the past, and I’m not so shocked anymore.

In any case, the leading suggestion for keeping your data safe is to freeze your credit report accounts and keep them frozen until/unless you need to apply for credit. Which is something I can’t do, because of the mess with my dad’s records being mixed up with mine. Until/unless that gets fixed, freezing my account could freeze his, and vice versa, and getting it unfrozen could be…well, practically impossible. It’s not worth the risk, and that means no using companies like LifeLock, etc either (since that’s basically what they do for their “protection” services.

But, I have signed up for a free credit monitoring account with Credit Sesame (highly recommended, pulls from all three credit reporting companies, doesn’t lock credit accounts), and I’ll probably spring for one of the lowest monthly tiers for a monthly credit report from all three companies. Just to keep a better eye on things than I do now (which is pretty much ignoring it as much as possible).

Heck, maybe it’ll be good motivation to get some credit paid down. If nothing else just to have more money to pay for the credit monitoring. *sigh*

Aside from that, it was back to work last week, and predicatably my writing output took a bit of a header. But it’s all good, because I started using my very low-tech Alphasmart Neo for all of my late-night writing sessions, and I have to say, I wish I’d done that sooner. So much easier to focus – I started a new story, worked on a different short story, and I’m excited about what I might be able to get done using that method going forward. Focus is good. Focus is everything when it comes to writing.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about crochet/knitting lately, and how I’d love to get back to that on a regular basis. Last week the weather turned cold pretty suddenly as a cold front came through, and I took my fingerless gloves to work. They helped a little, but not a lot because they’re thin. And then I thought about the absolutely gorgeous, soft, fuzzy yarn I bought last weekend, and how warm and cozy that would be for fingerless gloves, and now I’m really wanting to make a pair (or several, in different colors) for the office when it’s cold (so, always).

So that’s a project I want to start this week. I should be able to work on those during the hour in the evenings I watch TV with hubby. As long as I use a somewhat simple pattern, anyways. Though I kind of want to try crochet cables, and that would be a nice, small project to learn them on.

I’ve been thinking about my stamp collection lately too, and my comic books, and my to-be-read pile.

Retirement is only…what…25 yrs away?

I should probably start buying lottery tickets again.

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)?

Odds n’ Ends

Oh look! Another odd week on the horizon. Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States, so we work Mon-Weds, have Thursday off, and I’ll work Friday too. Which is fine…I actually like working Black Friday, because everyone else is either out shopping, or blurry-eyed from getting up early to shop before work. Either way, it tends to be a quiet work day, and a good one for getting things done.

Thursday should actually be a pretty quiet day too, since the hubby and I aren’t expected at my brother-in-law’s until around 5pm. Which is nice, because I spent a good couple hours this weekend cleaning off part of the dining room table specifically so I could explore a haunted-dollhouse-by-mail that I subscribed to back in October. There are five boxes/mailings total, and I have four, only one of which I’ve opened so far. So while I have some publishing-related things to do that day as well, I fully intend to open the rest of those boxes and start figuring out the mystery in miniature contained therein.

In entertainment news – we finally watched the movie Spectre this weekend, and it was everything a Bond movie is supposed to be, of course. I’m bummed that Daniel Craig doesn’t want the part anymore, but I can understand too. I wonder who will take up the mantle now?

I also finished Season 2 of Vikings this weekend, and man…I tell you what. I finished the 8th episode while doing my nails Saturday night/early Sunday morning, and then Sunday evening I blew off a few things to watch the last couple episodes because I just *had* to know how that storyline was going to resolve. Ugh! I’m glad it ended the way it did, and next weekend I’l start on Season 3.

We’re working our way through the third season of Penny Dreadful as well, and man…that show is seriously intense. I love it. It’s a crazy ride, and just when I think it’s getting predictable, it takes another twist. Excellent writing, in my opinion.

I mentioned last week that I was going to start limiting my social media “scrolling” time…and toward the end of last week, I actually did. And it made a pretty big difference in my productivity (she says, surprising exactly no one). I got more done, I stayed more focused, and I realized just how addicted I am to simply watching people. Clearly, I missed my calling as a sociologist/anthropologist, eh? Alas, I need to quell the addiction, but it has served me well as far as understanding people in general.

Along with limiting screen time, I also picked up the paper planner again. And along with scheduling out my priorities and loosely scheduling my day in the morning before work, I also started writing a short synopsis of where I left off in whatever draft I plan to work on later that night. So all day long, my subconscious is chewing on that, and when I finally sit down to write at night, I have a good idea of where the story’s going next, and better yet, I’m excited to write it because it’s been in the back of my mind all day. I’ve only done it twice so far, but both times had the same result. I’m hoping to keep that up this next week…seems like an incredibly easy and useful “mental manipulation” to have in my personal toolbox…

I’m not 100% back up to speed just yet, but I feel like I’m finally on an upswing. Here’s hoping momentum continues in that direction…

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. 🙂

Swirly Thoughts

So many topics to choose from given last week’s more-social-than-normal obligations, and as I sit here late Sunday night trying to convince myself that I should have written this post earlier instead of watching that movie, I’m having a hard time deciding what to blog about. Writers of all kinds are often asked how they get their ideas, and the answer is always the same – ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re everywhere. The trouble comes in distilling them down and deciding which are actually worth pursuing, and which to leave lying about for someone else to pick up as they go by.

The issue of appearances came up several times last week in a few different contexts, and that always makes me think. How we present ourselves both physically and intellectually is something I’ve been fascinated with since I was very young, and social conventions regarding that topic are varied and complex enough to analyze for years.

And then there’s entertainment and media, which I partook rather lavishly in last week (and enjoyed every minute of it). So much food for thought, both on screen and in print…it was a very creatively rich week, and inspiring as well.

There’s also the fact that I started using my Alphasmart Neo to write with again, and started a brand new romance draft that I feel really good about, and also really odd about, but the important part is, I’m writing again, regularly, and I really, really want to keep that going because I love it.

I hired a part-time promotor for Brazen Snake Books this weekend on a trial basis, which includes a whole lot of mental conflict on my part but also some extraordinarily long-term planning, which is not something I do well or often. But neither is promotion, and I’m already seeing good things happening in that arena, so I’m anxious to see what she can do for both myself and Carol, my best buddy and the other writer who publishes under the BSB umbrella.

That got me thinking about longer-term plans for writing, my pen names, the BSB business, and my day job too. Not conflict, necessarily, just potential progressions of work and life.

Friday was tattoo day, and not just because I finally got the grasshopper/ladybug tattoo I’ve been wanting for the last few months, which took care of the last large open space on my lower left arm. I thought a lot about coverage and perception and appearances (see above) and living in the moment rather than in the future, and my next appointment (which I made after Friday’s tattoo was done).

There’s a lot going on in my head, obviously – which isn’t a bad thing. And I’m not stressed, which is odd, frankly. Normally having this much swirling around at once would be pushing me close to the edge, but I’m surprisingly relaxed. Hopefully I can keep it that way.

Next week, I’ll tease out a topic to go into more depth on. For this week, I’m content to let ’em swirl around unfettered in my brain for awhile yet. They’ll eventually sort themselves out, I’m sure.

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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Mood Management & Skin-Tight Capris

I’m pretty sure Keith Richards’ lost love was at MontanaFair this weekend.

Let me back up a bit, and I’ll explain.

I was in a pretty serious funk on Sunday…later I figured out it was probably because hubby and I went out for dinner Saturday night, tried to go see the comedian who was here for the fair, got there too late to find parking and went back home, completely forgetting to take the supplements we normally take with dinner. Yes, I realize supplements are controversial, and it was quite some time before I even talked myself into taking a multi-vitamin. But after experimenting a lot on myself, and helping my husband experiment as well, it’s pretty unmistakable that the ones we take do have a very positive effect on our daily lives, and our moods as well.

It’s actually kind of disconcerting, but without my Super B complex and fish oil, I’m an anxiety-ridden mess who can’t focus to save her life. Scary, but true. Skip one day, and I’m merely a grump. I know this because I’ve run out before, and had to go without for various periods of time. Disconcerting, as I said – in an apocalypse situation, I’d be a much less pleasant person to be around in just a week due to the lack of supplements readily available.

So, there I am on Sunday afternoon, limping through the day on less supplementation and less sleep than I should, walking the fairgrounds with my hubby before the concert starts, thankful the crowds weren’t that bad.

That’s when we saw her.

A character so perfect that if I wrote her, no one would find her even remotely believable. And yet, there she was, in the pasty-white wrinkled flesh.

She had to be at least 70 (I’m guessing older), all skin and tiny bones with long, wavy white hair and a thickly-lined expression that said she didn’t care, and she never had cared what anyone thought of her or her choices. Two long, bony fingers held a smoking cigarette that hung down at her side, but it was her choice of clothing that really said more than anything else.

At an age when most people would give up on zippers and anything remotely snug, this lady was wearing skin-tight shiny black capris with white rock-n-roll style crosses on the front of each thigh. And up top, a black tank with more rock-n-roll motifs. I didn’t notice any tattoos, but they certainly wouldn’t have been out of place. And if it hadn’t been rude, I’d have looked closer and snapped a pic, because she is everything I want to be, as far as attitude goes.

Seeing her made my whole day and snapped me right out of my funk – because *that* is how we should all approach life. She was rocking those rock-n-roll groupie clothes, and she clearly didn’t care what anyone else thought about it either. She didn’t let age hold her back, and she is who she is, even after all these years.

And if she’s single, and Keith Richards is looking, I doubt he’ll find a better match…though I dare say she’s probably not always that easy to handle.

In any case, we got some fair food, got confused as to what happened to the main exhibits we normally see (some of which we never even saw), and enjoyed the Theory of a Deadman/3 Doors Down concert even though the sound sucked where we were sitting. Murphy did fine in his cone for the extra time we needed him too (poor thing), and I got home in time to finish the laundry and get this post written/posted before bed.

All in all, not a bad weekend, if it was a little chaotic. I tell you what though – seeing that lady at the fair made everything that led up to us being at that exact spot on that exact day and time was totally and completely worth it. It was one of those pivotal moments in life that sticks with you forever…in the best possible way.


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Just Saying No…to a List-Driven Vacation

In four more days, I’ll be “on vacation” for a week. My vacations are often spent at home – I don’t travel much because I’m mostly a homebody (though I do enjoy myself on the rare occasions I leave the city – but I hate the prep it entails, and need a fair amount of recovery time when I get back). My husband will be out of town on his own vacation (playing pool in Vegas), so the dogs and I will be left to our own devices for seven whole days.

It’s gonna be great. 🙂

Normally when I take these vacations, I get excited about all the stuff I can get done. Household projects we never seem to get to, “resets” on things that have just gotten out of hand, or stuff I’ve been working on, but never seem to make any headway with. I make a huge list, and plan every day out to the hour, and by the time the week is done, I’ve gotten quite a bit done, but never as much as I thought I would, and I’m just as tired and in need of “recovery” as I would be if I’d traveled.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing the very same thing. I need to get to “this” – but I’ll wait and do it during my vacation. I really should do that, but since I have vacation coming up, might as well do it then. Need to make this and this and this appointment – I should just make them for that week I’m already off work. You get my drift. And see the problem too, I bet.

This weekend I was really gearing up, and sat down to make a list, and…that’s when it hit me. My vacation week does not have to be “pre-loaded”. And it’ll certainly be way more fun and relaxing if it isn’t!

When my husband and I travel, we don’t make big plans for what to do once we are wherever we’re going. Unlike a lot of people, we might have an idea of things we’d like to do, but we pretty much just play it by ear – do what we feel like on any given day, depending on how energetic or tired we feel, we sleep in, and stay out late, and generally have a great, relaxing time. It’s draining for both of us to be around a lot of people for any length of time and my husband loves to just be spontaneous, so we leave the routines behind and just “go feral” for the time we’re gone.

It occurred to me that my “stay-cations” would be far better if I did exactly that. Treated them like an “away” vacation, where I just do what I happen to feel like doing on any given day, and don’t set a strict agenda or force myself to try to get a bunch of things done. If I get stuff done that would normally have to wait, that’s great. If I don’t, well, no big deal – if it’s important, we’ll find time to get it done eventually, and if not…then it’s not important enough for me to bust my butt getting done on vacation time.

If I feel like spending an entire day reading a book (not that the dogs would let me, but just go with it), I do not have to feel guilty in the least for doing so. If I wake up one day and decide I want to clean and reorganize the bathroom, I can do that too – but not because I feel obligated to work on my “list of things that never get done that need to get done while I have time off”. If I wake up and decide to watch three more episodes of Game of Thrones, and then decide I’m tired of sitting so I may as well clean out the shed on the patio – no problem. Maybe I’ll decide an hour later that sitting was way more fun, open a draft in progress, and write until the dogs remind me I need to feed them, and should probably feed myself while I’m at it.

I’m a planner by nature (obviously), and very routine-driven, and the idea of not planning out every second of my vacation for maximum gain strikes me as somewhat irresponsible…maybe even wasteful. So it’s uncomfortable for me to adopt this “just go with the flow” attitude. But I know I’ll be glad I did when my vacation is actually restful and stress-free, rather than busy and packed full of expectations that I can’t possibly meet, ensuring a heavy dose of guilt at the end before I go back to work.

I’m just saying “no” to a list-driven vacation. Which means I should probably think about working the stuff I’ve been “saving up” to do during said vacation into the confines of my normal routines, eh? No reason/excuse to procrastinate now…

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


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 our favorite charities – the shelters that helped us when we needed it most! 

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

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