ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2017-10-06 09:31 am

A tale of two photos

I posted a photo on Instagram in August that was pretty popular, even though I thought it was a little dark. I've noticed that I tend to prefer a lightened version of my photos, but now I'm wondering if they're better, or if's just me preferring brighter. So ... I'm asking you. This photo was taken at dusk along Sand Lake, at Chain O' Lakes Park near Albion. Which version do you prefer?

The original:

 

The slightly brightened:

 

 

That's the family out on the dock, of course.

I studied photography for quite a while, but that was back in the film days; I'm still getting used to the idea that I can make substantial changes to a picture after taking it.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2017-05-02 05:34 pm

Doggie DNA

Sometimes you just have to know where you came from.

But we don't have the money for that, so instead we decided to find out where our dog came from. So Emily found a doggie DNA test on sale and gave it to me as a Christmas present--I mean, she bought the test for me, to give to the dog--never mind. The point is, the results are in! It turns out Baeowulf (that's our spelling, get over it) is ... wait for it ... a dog.

That was kinda anticlimactic.

More specifically, Bae is, like most good Americans, a mutt. Or maybe I shouldn't say like  Americans, since it turns out he's 25% German Shepherd. I believe Emily and I both have some German in our ancestry, so ... coincidence? Well, yeah.

But he's 12.5% each of five other breeds, with a smattering of others. In fact, it would appear that his parents had a party: One was a German Shepherd/Old English Sheepdog/Siberian Husky, and the other was a Collie/Labrador Retriever/White Swiss Shepherd. So, just as my wife and I have Cherokee in us, Bae has Shepherd on both sides. Awkward family reunions.

I saw definite connections in some of what the company claims are common breed behaviors. For instance:

They say German Shepherds can vary from calm and watchful to energetic. This describes Bae: for instance, calm and half-asleep until the moment the mail arrives, followed by him trying to break the door down like a TV cop. He's completely guilt-free about it: "Dude, he came onto my porch. My porch! All I want is a leg."

Then there's the Collie, which like most of the others is described as intelligent. According to Wisdom Panel they're usually friendly, but can be wary of strangers. That fits: Bae is wary of strangers until the moment he gets that first pat on the head, then he's in love--as long as you don't mess with Mom Emily.

The Lab, in addition to meeting the other descriptions, can be very food motivated. Bae can be asleep in the other corner of the house, but if we even think about the kitchen he'll come running as if the postman is in it.

The English Sheepdog can be motivated by food too, and favorite toys, but he can be stubborn. Try to get Bae to take a pill or a shower, and he's stubborn as a politician guarding his taxes.

The Siberian Husky may chase wildlife. Bae will chase wildlife. And if it moves, it's wildlife.

Then there's the White Swiss Shepherd. Raciiisstttt!!!! The White ... um, let's call him the Swiss ... can be aggressive with other pets or people. Bae usually isn't, unless he and Emily are alone and anyone comes within a mile of her. Then they will be eaten, and killed. Hopefully not in that order.

Finally there was the "Mixed-breed" group, which made up the last 12.5%. Basically the DNA tests found evidence of those groups from way back in Bae's ancestry, just like I go Irish if you search back to the early 1700s. To paraphrase a line from "Stripes", we've been kicked out of every decent country in the world.

Part is the Asian groups, which shockingly are compromised of breeds from Asia--and the Arctic. That's Malamute, Shar-Pei, and Chow, for instance. They're often bred for guarding, which explains why even I can't approach my wife without getting Bae's attention.

Part is the Sighthound Group, which were old breeds often owned by royalty. You got your Greyhounds, you got your Wolfhounds, you got your Whippet--Whippet good. (You older music buffs, you'll get that one.) No, I don't know why kings and princes wanted fast dogs. To chase queens and princesses? There'll be a Disney movie about this.

Finally comes the Terrier group. I didn't see that coming. They were bred to hunt and kill vermin, such as mice, rats, and politicians. I guess I should have seen that coming, since all Bae has to do is smell one of those from a distance and he's in jumping and biting mode--came in real handy during the election. Still, I have a hard time relating a 95 pound dog to a Chihuahua.

Apparently they tested for 200-250 breeds, which is pretty impressive. We expected he might have some wolf in him, but that--they call it Wild Canids--came up negative, as did Companion, Guard, Hounds, Mountain, Middle East, and African breeds.

Just the same, I think he does companion just fine.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2017-03-19 11:36 pm
Entry tags:

going for a ride

Bae goes for a ride to survey his domain.


ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2017-02-02 03:12 pm
Entry tags:

Glow in the dog

I gave the grand-twins a glow-in-the-dark model of the solar system for Christmas, but my daughter tells me the planets won't glow. Now I'm beginning to worry that Bae may have licked the glow material from their surfaces.

 

But at least he's snuggly.
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2016-11-20 11:29 pm
Entry tags:

Happiness is ...

When the temperature drops 35 degrees in 24 hours, your best bet is to stay inside with a warm puppy.

 

ozma914: a photo heavy illustrated history, Arcadia Publishing (Images of America: Albion and Noble Coun)
2016-11-12 04:43 pm

Newsletter Live Tomorrow

Tomorrow afternoon we’re going to send out our very first newsletter, which will be way better than the last one. It’s got that major announcement I mentioned, a little humor, a mention of the upcoming author appearance (a second one’s pending, too), and—as promised—a cute dog photo.

So just hop on over to www.markrhunter.com and go to the bottom of the main page, type in your e-mail address (which will absolutely not be shared), and hit subscribe! Well, and then you’ll have a confirmation e-mail. Some people who filled out the signup sheet for the newsletter months ago are just now getting that, because I got lazy … I sure hope they remember who I am.

I’m still floundering my way through this whole self-promotion thing. Eventually the newsletter might also be linked on Facebook or my blog, but I’ve found a lot of people just aren’t seeing things on social media … there’s just too much stuff flying by us, these days.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2016-09-24 07:31 pm
Entry tags:

A turkey run to Turkey Run part 2: A bang-up job

Part 1 was here:  http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2016/09/a-turkey-run-to-turkey-run-part-1-what.html


Part 2 is ... painful.




You owned a car for seven years. You named it “Brad”. You loved Brad. You two had been through everything together: three jobs, twenty trips to Missouri, a wedding, and a dog. Nothing could replace Brad.

Then you totaled him.

Okay, so I’m paraphrasing the lady from the Liberty Mutual commercial. But I really did love my car, even though I never developed the habit of naming inanimate objects. It was a 2006 Ford Focus. It was reliable, constant as the evening star.

I kind of like Logansport, too. It’s a nice little city, about 90 miles from Albion, close to a two-hour drive. We decided to stop there for pizza, on our way home from our shortened camping trip. We were driving down East Market Street in the late afternoon, with the sun to our back, which means the sun was right in the face of the young man who was trying to turn left into

BAM!

They say a car’s airbag inflates instantly, but they also say time slows at moments like that. I watched it inflate. Ironically, although I had about half an instant to stand on the brake, I didn’t actually see the impact—just the airbag coming toward me. The other driver, I assume, hit the gas to clear oncoming traffic, but the sun blinded him and he accelerated straight into us.

By the way, as much as I love my car, it was paid off. His was ten years newer, and he’d only made two payments. At least he wasn’t hurt.

My first act was to check Emily. Emily’s first act was to check Bae. Her reasoning is that the dog was not belted in, while I had both belt and airbag, and I’m just glad anyone was reasoning at all at that moment. She also reasoned that the car was on fire, which she rather urgently pointed out to me.

On a related note, an airbag is deployed by a small explosive charge, which is how it comes out so fast. The speed is helped by a powdery substance that helps the material come out smoothly. Add those two together with the smashed radiator and yeah, it looked like the car was on fire. I’m glad it wasn’t, because after checking my car’s occupants I decided to check the other driver, and my door wouldn’t open.

You get a sinking feeling at moments like that. You get another sinking feeling when you realize you’re two hours from home, and your car’s going nowhere. And a ten-year-old car, smashed all the way to the passenger compartment? It’s going nowhere, ever again.




Well, except by tow truck. With a major street blocked, I had little time to grab a few things. Our suitcase, of course. It was all the way in the back of the trunk, behind all the camping gear. I had to unload the trunk, then load it again.

Then it was gone.

Blood was dripping from my hand; Emily was limping; the dog was confused. We were two hours from home. The insurance company was prepared to get us a rental car, when the rental company opened in the morning. Meanwhile, they said we could be reimbursed the cost of a taxi to the nearest hotel.

I don’t know how many taxis allow a 90-pound dog in. I have a fairly good idea how many hotels do. My oldest daughter and son-in-law dropped what they were doing, loaded the grand-twins into their van, and drove two hours to pick us up. The next day, in a rental (which made me incredibly nervous), we came back and got about two carloads of stuff out of Brad. I mean, the Focus.

It wasn’t just the camping gear—it was everything. My wonderful Focus, with the brand new tires and full tank of gas, will not be seen again outside a junk yard.

The rest is anticlimactic. The attention-grabbing blood came from a little gash on the inside of my index finger. How is a mystery, but considering the abrasions and bruise on my arm, it’s related to the airbag.

Emily’s foot, like my arm, hurt a little. Then a lot. The doctor recommended an x-ray as a precaution, which meant a trip to the ER on a Friday evening, during a full moon. Yes, we were there exactly as long as you’re thinking, but it’s probably best to know when someone has a broken foot. She got crutches, then a “boot”. The boot looks like she’s being converted into a cyborg. This is how Darth Vader started, people.

The only thing left is to give thanks; when the chips are down Hoosiers are wonderful. People rushed over with alcohol wipes and towels for my finger, which looked way worse than it was. The other driver admitted his mistake, and at no time were words or fists thrown. More than one person stopped to see if they could help, and everyone (of course) loved the dog.

I have to mention the employees of Bruno’s Carry Out Pizza. I mean, we were on our way to get pizza, right? On one side of the street was a car for sale, which I found ironic, and on the other side was Bruno’s. I don’t know what they thought when they saw us coming, dragging a suitcase and hauling bags, and looking very nervously for traffic as we crossed the street.

But it was great pizza.

There’s a bench in front of Bruno’s. We may have been their first ever eat-in customers, although we were technically outside. They got water for the dog, and when I found out my daughter’s family hadn’t eaten and went in for another order, they gave it to us for free.

I wish it hadn’t happened—I love my wife not limping, and I loved my car, and not making car payments. But all you ever hear about is bad people doing bad things. Good people outnumber bad people—sometimes it takes bad stuff to be reminded of that.

Oh, I almost forgot: This whole series of unfortunate events started when the temple of my glasses broke off. The makers of the frame had been bought out, but the optometrist office managed to find a spare part—which didn’t exactly match, but worked just fine. Another example of someone going the extra mile to help out.

If you look very closely, you can see a difference. So ... don't look closely.
ozma914: cover of my new book: 30% of proceeds go to the Friends of Camp Latonka fund (The No-Campfire Girls)
2016-09-23 07:47 pm

A turkey run to Turkey Run, part 1: What could possibly go wrong?

 

 

I’m considering not taking vacations anymore. Too stressful.

 

I have to go back to work for at least a week before my stress levels fall enough for the stress of work to start getting to me again. Then I start needing a vacation, because the last vacation was too stressful. If Joseph Heller hadn’t already written it, I’d hit the best seller list with my own Catch-22.

 

Let’s start at the beginning, when we decided to vacation at a place called Turkey Run State Park. It was the vacation that ended up being a turkey.

 

A few days earlier, as I cleaned my glasses, a temple fell off. The temples are the parts that hang over your ears. Remove one, then try to wear your glasses. Yeah.

 

Whenever it’s time for new glasses I try to get the same frames, because the only thing worse than wearing glasses is wearing new glasses. And every time, that particular frame is no longer available. Every time. It’s like some kind of sick joke within the frame making business.

 

But this time, the optometrist office didn’t tell me the frames weren’t available. They told me the frame manufacturer wasn’t available. They’d been bought out. The optometrist was going to try and find some spare parts, which was fine except I was about to drive three and a half hours away.

 

Here comes the repeating theme of this story, which is that things kept working out even as my stress levels rose. During my last eye exam, my eyesight had hardly changed at all. I slipped the old glasses into the new case, and there they waited for a catastrophe just like this one.

 

It reminds me of the line from Apollo 13, which went something like, “I think we’ve had our glitch for the mission.” They didn’t stop to consider there might be more than one glitch.

 

We managed to fit all our camping gear, and the dog, into my beloved 2006 Ford Focus. I probably wouldn’t have used the term “beloved” before, but I really did love that car.

 

Guess I’m telegraphing the ending.

 

Wait--I have to sleep outside with you? What did I do?

 

 

Let’s go back to the dog, Bae (It’s short for Baewulf, and yes, I know it’s misspelled—don’t tell him). Bae had started his fall shed. He must have been exhausted, growing so much fur. We would open a window, and a tornado of hair would blast past us. It looked like a cloud of smoke, pouring from the car. No wonder he sleeps so much.

 

Meanwhile, Emily got a sore throat the same night we put a deposit down on a campsite. By the next morning she had a cold so bad I’m still not sure it wasn’t the flu. I bought a case of Kleenex and a barrel of Nyquil, and she laid on the couch and didn’t complain, because she’s not me. We were still going on vacation, she declared, because our deposit was non-refundable.

 

We’ll just eat the cost, I told her. Your health is more important.

 

She swept aside a two-foot drift of dog fur and gave me a glare that actually made me retreat into the next room. “I’ll pack the car,” I told her. She really hates wasting money.

 

The strange thing about this whole story is that we had a wonderful time, whenever we weren’t miserable. We’ve compromised on our camping style: She gave up the two-man pup tent and hard ground, and I gave up the giant camper with a generator and satellite TV. The important thing is the inflatable air mattress. We had a nice site, a roaring fire, and S’mores. We had some great hiking trails that traversed rivers, suspension bridges, and canyons. Yes, there are canyons in Indiana.

 

We had leash laws.

 

This was one of the less scenic areas!

 

 

See, in a state park there are rules, and one is that you keep your pets on a leash. The lady with the dog on the trail either wasn’t holding the leash tightly enough, or was letting her dog roam, and drag the leash behind it. It saw our dog, Bae. It wanted Bae.

 

It wanted Bae for dinner.

 

I found myself quite literally in the middle of a dogfight. To our dog’s credit, he went on the defensive. However, Emily was there. When there might be a danger to Emily, “defensive” becomes a snarling, clawing, biting, 90-pound whirlwind of kick-ass. There’s no reason I can think of why my attempts to drag him away didn’t result in major blood loss.

 

Which brings us back to our “all’s well that ends well” theme. No injuries. The lady dragged her dog away and apologized profusely, and once Emily knew Bae was unharmed she restrained herself from going after the lady.

 

There was also no injury half an hour later when a much friendlier dog came running after Bae, wanting only to make friends but not realizing our dog had just been traumatized.

 

Leashes, people. It’s a thing.

 

We lasted about a day and a half. Emily was still sick, the dog was stressed, and that was it. We decided we’d come back the next week and spend a few more days there, because Turkey Run State Park was really a wonderful place.

 

All we needed was transportation.

 

Next: The “Trip” Back

 

S'Mores, people.

 

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2016-03-19 05:47 pm

One author at this state

 One Author At This State

On April 3rd, I’m scheduled to appear at 50 Authors from 50 States, writing about—wait for it—Indiana! Annette Snyder highlights authors of all genres, all over. See all the states here:

 

http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com/

 

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
2016-03-18 03:08 pm
Entry tags:

Dog and Spring on video

Bae doesn't know what to think when he hears the first noises of spring ...
 
https://youtu.be/Xh8DI6EbklU

IMG_0537
ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2016-01-31 04:53 pm
Entry tags:

Book Promotion Goes To the Dogs

Here’s a new promotion idea: From now on, whenever anyone buys a copy of my humor book Slightly Off the Mark, I’m going to post a cute photo of our dog, Bae (who happens to be on the cover).

 

I know what you’re thinking: “But Mark, wouldn’t you eventually post those pictures anyway?”

 

Well … yes.

 

But don’t you think he’d like to help with the household budget? It keeps him in kibble.

 

http://markrhunter.com/books.html
ozma914: humor column book (Slightly Off the Mark)
2015-12-10 03:23 pm

The Dogged Determination of a Recovering Novelist

The day after my sinus surgery, I woke up to find a dog lying on my chest. “Are you worried about me?” I rasped out.

“Not exactly,” Bae replied.

I hadn’t actually expected a reply.

“Dude, we need to talk about finances. Will paying for this surgery take money from the kibble line item on the family budget?”

“Not to worry. The insurance covers most of it, and we can make payments on the rest.” I was hurting and bleeding, but I felt it necessary to pet the dog because his nose was about six inches from mine, and he was lying on my spleen.

“The rest? You know, I have wheat allergies; I need special food.”

“Welcome to the allergy family.”

“This is Christmas shopping season, dude—you should be promoting your book sales, not laying there with your face all swollen up.”

“I always kind of hoped they’d sell themselves.”

“What? Are you on drugs?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

Bae sniffed my face. “Yeah, I smell them, now. Vicodin, and some kind of anti-nausea medication. Look, you gotta get out there, man … there aren’t enough mice in the house to keep me fed, and that rabbit always stays just outside the reach of my line. I tried to do some promotional posts for you, but these paws aren’t made for typing.”

“Ah, that explains the delivery of eighteen pizzas, and the lady from Romania who finds my profile intriguing.”

“Sorry about that. But you need help: You keep publishing in different genres, so how are you going to build author branding?”

“But that’s the beauty of it: If people want to buy books for themselves or for Christmas presents, they can get it all on www.markrhunter.com: humor, romantic comedy, short stories, non-fiction, young adult, history—it’s all there. I’m your one stop shop for book buying.”

“Well, they’d better buy more, or I might start eating grass in the back yard … and you know what that means.”

“One sicko in the house is enough. Look, word of mouth words great, here: Why don’t you tell your friends about me during your midnight barking?”

“Dude, my friends can’t read.”

“Story of my life.”

“You’re dreaming this whole thing, anyway. I blame the drugs.”

And that’s when I woke up.

But I woke up with the dog on my chest. “Were you just speaking to me?” I asked.

Bae didn’t say anything. But he looked hungry.

What? I'm just checking up on him.

 

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2015-12-06 07:09 pm
Entry tags:

"Blarg" pretty much covers it

Well, on Thursday morning I had sinus surgery, and very early Friday Emily and Charis hauled me to the ER when my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding. So, that happened.

 

However, it turned out the post-op situation wasn’t as bad as it seemed, and I’m at the expected misery level for this point in the recovery period. (About a 6. On a scale of 8.) I had hoped, by this point, to be doing something constructive like working on a manuscript, or at least catching up on my TV watching. Silly me. What you’re reading now is about what I’ll get accomplished today. I’m really not sure if the week and a half I took off work was enough.

 

But I am in recovery. Things will get better, instead of worse, and Emily is an excellent nurse, and Bae has also been keeping a careful eye on me. (Lucius the snake doesn’t care.) I have good insurance, and according to my calculations, in order to pay for the operation and the ER visit I’ll have to sell no more than 5,000 books.

 

Guess I’d better get busy.

 

Tomorrow.

ozma914: (Dorothy and the Wizard)
2015-08-28 05:12 pm
Entry tags:

This belly won't rub itself

This belly won’t rub itself:

 

http://markrhunter.blogspot.com/2015/08/bellies-to-rub.html

 

Yes, I know I’m late for National Dog Day …

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Astrid and Walter)
2015-01-18 08:35 pm
Entry tags:

A Cylon Dog?

When it was time to get up the other day, Emily sent the dog upstairs to wake me. When Bae wouldn’t go through the door, she texted me a photo of him waiting outside the bedroom.

 

 Not only did I not come out, I bolted the door and hid in the closet.

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Winter hatred)
2014-12-18 05:56 pm

I’m Dreaming Of An Evergreen Christmas

 

Check me out at the Kendallville Mall:

http://www.4countymall.com/mark-hunter---slightly-off-the-mark/im-dreaming-of-an-evergreen-christmas-slightly-off-the-mark

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

When we put up the Christmas tree last year, our dog became very puzzled.

“Dude, there are all kinds of trees surrounding this house already. Seriously, just come outside with me next time. Mind the yellow snow.”

Amazingly, he said all that with a glance.

If you take an objective, dog-like look at America’s Christmas traditions, you quickly realize we’re a little crazy. We bring a tree inside; we haul electric lights outside. People who refuse to listen to music that’s not still in the top 40 happily sing carols that were written by people who thought the Earth was flat.

(It’s a sphere; just thought I’d throw that in.)

And we celebrate Christmas on December 25th, even though most experts agree Jesus was actually born in the spring. Why? Because it’s close to the shortest day of the year. What else are you going to do in late December? Go to the beach? Get that garden in? Take a road trip to Buffalo, New York?

I doubt very much if Jesus would care when we celebrate His birthday, especially since the truly important Christmas holiday is Easter. By then the days are much longer, so we don’t need the pick-me-up.

The Christmas tree is one of the most interesting and puzzling aspects of Christmas decorating. It’s also big business: Trees in all fifty states are grown for the express purpose of being chopped down in a celebration of life. I used to drive through an area of Michigan that had more trees than Indiana has deer on the roads.

The origins of that tradition make sense, though: In ancient times, anything that stayed green all through winter held special significance. Without evergreens, people in past winters would sometimes completely forget what color was. It was like being stuck in a 50’s TV show, without the laugh track.

Evergreen boughs, hung over doors and windows, were reminders that spring would return. They also helped keep away witches and evil spirits, and as a bonus could be garnished with garlic to fight off vampires. So far as I know, they did nothing against banshees or marauding politicians.

But it was the Germans who, with ruthless efficiency, decided to just bring the whole darned tree inside. Martin Luther added lighted candles to the tree, bringing us the Christmas tradition of homes burning down.

Christmas trees didn’t come to America until the 1830’s, when German settlers arrived with the tradition. Naturally, the neighbors were curious:

“So Hans, why did your house burn down?”

“Oh, I brought a tree inside and hung candles on it.”

“No, seriously.”

A lot of Americans were against anything like carols and trees anyway. People in New England got fined for hanging decorations, although it was legal to hang witches, as long as you didn’t decorate them.

Then, in 1846, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (of “in the can” fame) were seen standing around a Christmas tree. Suddenly it was all in fashion, even though hanging witches didn’t catch on at all. They were often decorated with popcorn, berries, and nuts, a great idea to guard against food shortages. (The trees, not the witches.) Rodents were a problem. (With the trees. Well, maybe both.)

Then, in 1850, Christmas trees went up for sale commercially in the United States. Next thing you know the early version of Wal-Mart, then known as “Mart”, got ahold of it, and the rest is history. They went up in Rockefeller Center, at the White House, and in Woodinville, Washington, where a 122 foot tall, 91 year old Douglas fir does not get cut down every year.

I like that idea, of leaving the Christmas trees alive. I don’t like the idea of going outside in December to look at them, so never mind. Besides, since 77 million Christmas trees are planted each year in an industry that employs a hundred thousand people, closing the business down would result in an unhappy holiday for many.

I used to love having a live tree. The wonderful scent, the look of it. Then I grew up, and after that I loved it for three days: From after it was up until it started dropping needles.

There’s a reason they’re called needles.

Now I have an artificial tree. I love my artificial tree. It looks exactly like a real tree if you squint a little, and I’ve never had to tweeze a single needle out of my foot. The dog, while still puzzled, doesn’t harass it. It has never burst into flames, not even for me, and I can break anything.

It doesn’t dry out, or spoil, and I don’t have to dispose of it every season. It’s durable and doesn’t wear out for years.

It’s a lot like fruitcake.

Ah, but that’s another puzzling tradition.

My wife and I sometimes confuse Christmas with Valentine's Day, but a tree's a tree.

 

 

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
2014-08-14 03:45 pm

Camping: By The Light Of The Laptop

 

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

 

            My concept of camping is a great example of wanting to have things both ways. I like being away from home for a day or two … but I want to bring home with me.

 

            When my wife the Girl Scout went camping, she’d take a square of canvas, fifty feet of rope, and a pocket knife. For a week. To her, it’s not really camping if you can get there by car. No, you have to hike, and preferably climb a cliff, to get to the perfect site. Once there, you dig a pit for a toilet and make furniture out of twigs.

 

           

To some people, the best way to camp is to buy several sets of wheels and red flags, then take your house with you as an oversized load. I may not be one of those people, but I’m way closer to it than she is )
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
2014-05-10 06:34 pm

My blog tour goes to the dogs

Today my blog tour goes to the dogs with Bae, Sir Poops and Hair Ball on Shelly Arkon’s blog: 

http://shellysnovicewritings.blogspot.com/2014/05/sir-poops-and-hair-ball-napping-on-book.html 

Bae announces, in his own way, that we have print copies of The No-Campfire Girls on the way … and that the mailman who brings them is his.

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Winter hatred)
2014-04-23 04:29 pm

The Weather Changes. Again.

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

 

            “Tragedy in Churubusco when three residents went on a walk to show off their spring clothes during the warm up this morning, and were later found frozen to death. Their bodies were originally scheduled to be cremated, but couldn’t be thawed fast enough.”

            This is why writers should live in Indiana; that kind of stuff just writes itself.

            Oh, I know, I’ve talked a lot about the weather this year. It’s only April—whatever will my columns be about in July? Heat, I’m guessing. But we came close this spring to actually having that snow tornado I used to joke about, so if you’re interested in weather at all, it’s been an interesting year.

            “Mental health officials are seeing a sudden spike in emotional breakdowns after people went out last week to mow their lawns, only to find two inches of snow on the ground.”

            You don’t even have to make it up: That actually happened to me last week, except that I went to the door to bring the dog in. His frostbite/heat exhaustion is healing nicely, by the way.

            It’s one of the few times I actually dropped the F-bomb in public. I opened the door that morning and stood there for a moment, honestly puzzled about why everything outside had a strange white coloring to it. Then the dog came storming in as if a snow tornado was chasing him, and he was covered in white. He shook himself, and a winter storm developed in my kitchen.

            Then I looked outside and said, “What the fudge?!?!”

            Only, to quote writer Jean Shepherd, I didn’t say fudge.

            The neighbors have teenagers, but since it was early morning I’m hopeful they didn’t hear me. If they did, they probably thought something like, “Hey, they had that word when he was a kid!” Then I’d yell “Get off my lawn!” and it would be downhill from there.

            Anyway, this is Indiana. Worse, this is northern Indiana, within the range of lake effect snow while too far away to actually play in the waves, assuming the waves haven’t frozen themselves into some Salvador Dali shape.

            (Yes, I’m a small town Midwestern boy who actually knows who Salvador Dali is. Okay, I looked him up. What’s with the melting clocks? Is it August?)

            Sorry if this column seems a little disjointed: There have been so many barometric pressure changes this month that my sinuses exploded, and I’ve been off balance ever since. Which brings me back to my point: We’re used to big weather extremes, to such an extent that many people actually say “I wish it would just stay cold, instead of going up and down like this.” That’s a concept we pay for in January, when the missing Polar ice cap often lingers in the fields just outside of Huntertown.

            By the way, Huntertown wasn’t named after my family. It actually stems from the Indian world “Hunyukcoldon”, which means “The snow’s melting, grab your sandbags”.

            Anyway …

            What brought all this up was last week, when it hit the mid 70’s here in Albion. Then thunderstorms came through. Then the next day I walked out on the front porch and not only was everything covered in snow, but it felt and even smelled like winter. The next night we reached a record cold temperature. The day after that it hit 60.

            The day after that I boarded up all my doors and windows, and set fire to my boots.

            Is it any wonder everyone’s talking about the weather? I mean, except the Weather Channel. I had it on at work for eight hours the other night, and every time I glanced up I saw … no weather. Only a scroll across the bottom of the screen explaining that the weather for the next hour would be delayed by a very special episode of “Extreme Ice Road Air Rescue Fishing With The Stars”.

In their defense, thanks to The Weather Channel, I now know a great deal about tow truck drivers, steel construction workers, the Coast Guard, and Mars. Still, I can’t help thinking a name change is in order.

            But who can blame them? Reality programming gives them a chance to sit back, take a breath, and try to figure out what the fudge is going on in Indiana.

ozma914: mustache Firefly (mustache)
2013-10-23 01:47 pm
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Scarred for life, or a few days

While we were, ahem, ruff-housing last night, the dog clawed off half my face.

Okay, he actually only put a scratch down my face, and my mustache was unharmed … and poor Bae seemed pretty upset about it. On the bright side, I’m now halfway to my Halloween pirate costume.