Crush

This week on Trifecta, the word was:

CRUSH (transitive verb)

1a : to squeeze or force by pressure so as to alter or destroy structure   b : to squeeze together into a mass
2   : hug, embrace

Head over to submit your own response, or read some other takes on the prompt.  There are some fantastic authors who submit weekly to the Trifecta challenge, and they’re always well worth the read.

This story is a continuation of the Which Witch series of stories.  It is pretty much entirely stand-alone, but you are certainly welcome to read back through the story pieces, by following the Fiction tab at the top of the page and clicking on the links under the title Which Witch.

I try to include a piece of artwork that I think goes with the story, and this week is no different.  Only I put it at the bottom of the story, because it’s not just me that thinks it goes with the story – my sister drew it, in response to reading this story ahead of time.  She didn’t even roll her eyes too much when I changed the original, accidental deadline of friday to “um, no seriously, you have to have it done Wednesday night, because I have to post it tomorrow”.  You can check her out at her blog, Drawn in and Quartered, or over at DeviantArt.  She doesn’t have too much of her personal artwork up on DeviantART yet, but I’m working on it – peer pressure is key!  This is one of my favourite pieces she’s done – it hangs on my wall, and when I eventually have the option of painting rooms in my own house, will likely the colour-inspiration of one of them.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I could totally kick her ass at drawing… when she was 4… and I was 10.  She claims it probably had something to do with the development of fine motor function, but that’s just a cop-out.  She’s just a sore loser.  What sibling rivalry?

Comments and critiques are always welcome, I hope you enjoy the story,

“GRAAAAAAAAAAAH!”

Agata clapped her hands over her ears as the howl reverberated down the canyon, followed by the distant thunder of landslides.  Dust from the ceiling settled on her meal.

Removing the hand cupped protectively over her own pint, the barbarian woman took a swig and continued, “There are some nasty beasties out there, Miss, so you really ought to hire on a guard to get through the pass.”

Gunilla brushed her short blonde hair back, the heavy musculature of her shoulder and arm rippling, and jerked her head towards the rest of the barbarians.  “And I suggest you hire me, ‘cause some of the lads have trouble hearing ‘no’ when they want to hear ‘yes’, if you know what I mean.”

Agata shuddered.  Such large, heavy-set men.  Such tiny loincloths.  Barbarians are quite barbaric, she decided, firmly averting her eyes from the manly display of body hair and scarring.

“What do you hear when you want to hear ‘yes’?”

Gunilla let loose a full-bellied laugh.  “Me?  Depends on how much I want to hear ‘yes’, I’d imagine.” She grinned and winked.  “But my tastes don’t lean towards scrawny pretty little things like you, eh!”  She produced a small painting of a statuesque woman wearing a horned hat and a bustier that left too little to the imagination.  The barbarian woman stroked the side of the picture in a surprising show of tenderness.  “My Vilhelmina is an opera singer!”

“Very nice.” Agata cleared her throat.  “So what is so dangerous in the pass?”

The inn-door burst off its hinges and slammed to the ground.  A gigantic figure shouldered its way into the room, towering with its one-eyed head amongst the rafters.

GRAGH CRUSH!” It swung its club down hard in a shower of dust that had once been a solid oak table.

“OGRE!” the barbarian woman yelled, sweeping Agata out of harm’s way.  Potential client safely stowed, she let out a berserker yell of her own and leapt to join the fray.

crush

<– Quack! ||

No-mo-Nano

I threw in the towel about a week ago.  It just wasn’t happening this year, for a variety of reasons.  Reasons, not excuses.  I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of the things that have kept me from writing consistently enough to finish Nanowrimo – excuses are things that couldn’t be helped, and you’d rather have avoided.  Like dental appointments, of which I had two.  They were during working hours, though, so they don’t count as either reasons or excuses.

I kind of wish I’d admitted defeat earlier – the ideas weren’t coming to me at all.  I switched stories three times.  But I couldn’t be blogging a lot, because, gee, that would mean I had enough time to write fiction for my word count, and was purposely wasting time blogging.  So I found myself not blogging, not writing, and stressing about it, like it was a real deadline, and not the fun, entertaining thing it ought to have been.

What did I do instead of write 50000 words in the month of November?

I took up running

I have been firmly in the camp of “I Don’t Run” since grade school.  But I wanted a fitness-ey exercise that I could involve Gwynn in, and then I found this downloadable App for my phone.  I also have an exercise buddy whose level of un-fitness is basically identical to my own, so we huff and puff away and don’t feel self-conscious about it.  I’m actually enjoying running.  I truly believed this would never ever happen.  I was more of the opinion that the only thing that would get me to run any distance was something aggressive chasing me – and that the only enjoyment I would get out of it would be the enjoyment of surviving – not of a run well-done.

We’re doing the Couch to 5K (30 minutes! 3 days a week!  9 weeks!) program whose App you can download HERE .  You can also just get a chart from them that says the durations of walks and runs.   The App costs something like $1.20, and I consider it well worthwhile, if you have the option, because it means you don’t have to be checking your watch to figure out when to start/stop, etc.  The walk and run durations are different from each other and different each day, so an egg-timer is do-able, but not ideal.  The trainer (one of three options) tells you when to run and when to stop running, while the program plays music from your playlist on your phone.  Music – definitely helpful.  Dogs frolicking around you – also helpful!  It’s such a gradual increase in workout that, while you’re definitely getting a workout, it doesn’t feel like you’re dying, much.  I really like that it lets you gain strength slowly and steadily, rather than running until you fall down the first day and then taking a week and a half to recover.

IMG_20110908_182045

IMG_20121130_164036

Gwynn Jumped Through Hoops

Gwynn and I are taking a Saturday afternoon Intro to Agility class.  Gwynn is talented!  I am… in need of practice.  We’re both having a great time, regardless of my lack of timing/understanding/skill, and I’m learning a whole lot about body language, and silent communication with Gwynn.  The teamwork we’re building in the class is working outside the classroom as well, and I think that the jogging-with-him thing is both improving and being improved by our agility class.  If anyone’s looking for a thing to do with your dog after the basic obedience training is done, this is a great option – it keeps you practicing training and obedience, and the dogs love it.

I Crossfitted

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I started back into Crossfit this summer, using another fantastic Groupon type deal.  This crossfit place is MUCH closer to my house, and we (my exercise buddy and I) have actually continued past the finish of our 20 classes for 40 dollars deal.  I don’t think I’d recommend crossfit to everyone, because it really depends on what motivates you best to work out.  I really like it because it’s kind of like having a group personal training class that changes every time that you go.  It starts off with a skill or strength exercise, and then you do a timed workout that will leave your legs like jelly, your lungs burning, and your face red.  The person monitoring the gym at that time will yell at you to keep going if you stop midway through the exercise to sit and chug water – that’s not for everyone, but I guarantee, I’d never do this tough a workout alone.  You also see huge signs of improvement in relatively short periods of time.  It is amazing the things that I NEVER thought I’d be able to do that I can now DO!  I can climb a rope.  Scares the crap out of me (fear of falling amplified by knowing that I am the only thing holding me up there), but thrills me to death that I can do it at all.  I’m also very close to being able to do a kipping pull-up without any help.  Help = giant elastic that supports part of your weight while doing the pull-up.  Kipping = kind of a floppy-fish movement that helps jack-knife you up to a chin-above-bar position.  Easier than a straight pull-up, but you’ve got to start somewhere!

I Drank with Dinosaurs!

IMG_20121026_214543

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is doing a Friday Night at the Museum event, that I’m hoping will become a regular thing.  The Museum is converted to Museum/bar/club.  It has bars and snack bars (all local and interesting restaurants serving good food) set up throughout the museum, a DJ in the main atrium, bands set up throughout the museum, it’s fantastic.  It’s like going out to a bar, but in a museum, which is so much more fun.  Cupcakes in the Geode Room, lobster rolls in the dinosaur area, random activity centers setup throughout, and themed nights!  They have definitely found a great way to encourage the young adult crowd to come to the ROM, and it makes a great date-night for people of any age.

IMG_20120622_203715

I Wrote All Night… ish

I might have abandoned Nano-ship, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do things with Nano.  Nanowrimo’s GTA region hosts a variety of events, most of which I don’t go to, because weeknights are tough to stay up late on.  I do, however, go to at least part of the all night write-in they host.  Sanctuary is an old church converted into a community center.  It’s a potluck – lots of baked goods, chips and pop to keep your blood sugar high!  Lots of late-night shenanigans!  I don’t stay all night anymore, because the first year, I slept on the couch for 5 hours in the middle of it, which frankly seems to defeat the purpose of staying there all night.  I am not an all-nighter-able person.  I got about 8000 words written in my 4ish hours of actually being there this year, though, which was certainly helpful to my word count.  Plus socializing!

I found some one-of-a-kind things

IMG_20121125_143644
i know a few adventure weiners that might appreciate these green doggies!

The One of a Kind show in Toronto is a place to get some interesting and original gifts for people for the holidays.  Also samples.  SO. MANY. SAMPLES.  Food is delicious.

Fajita-Pecan-Princess Night!

IMG_20121117_172047

My friends and I are not necessarily wild and gallivanting about town.  This kind of cooking+movie night is more my cup of tea.  We made Fajitas, we made Pecan Pie, we made Whiskey Sours, we watched Brave, and Tangled and Beauty and the Beast.  Our hostess made us all princess hats!  There were sparkles everywhere as we all napped through the second half of Beauty and the Beast, in a full-on sugar coma.

Congrats to everyone who finished Nanowrimo successfully!  I’ll try again next year, but I figure that at least this year I had fun with all the things I was doing instead of writing.

Staying the Same

We went to Ottawa to visit Doodle this weekend. It’s official that I might have changed a lot since my first year in university… but I haven’t changed much at all.

On the first day of my first year at University, moving into Essex Hall in London, Ontario:

Mom(looking out the window of the room I would call home for a school year):  Oh look, you’ve got a Subway right across the road!  That’s nice.

Me: What?  London has a Subway?  Seriously?!

London is a pretty small city.  I’m from Toronto.  When I heard subway, I was thinking this:

What my mom was seeing was this:

… Delicious Sandwiches, yes.  Trains connecting to other Subway shops… No.

Six years later, getting settled in the hotel room in Ottawa before heading over to see Doodle at her residence:

Mom (looking out the window of the roasting-hot room we would be in for the next two nights):  Oh, that’s the Metro Doodle’s been using.

Me: What?  Ottawa has a Metro?  Seriously?!

I’m from Toronto.  When I heard Metro, I was thinking this:

My mom was seeing this:

… Oh how things change… oh how they stay the same.

Some Assembly Required

The Backalley Soapbox passed me the “My Seven Links” Award (curse? challenge? introspection?  click the link to find out the rules), an interesting series of instructions not unlike those included with the purchase of IKEA furniture – seemingly simple, but diabolically complex.  Worth the effort in the end, if the other “My Seven Links” posts I’ve read are anything to go by.  After all – when else do you get asked to bring out your old work to show off to the world?  I guarantee, while I might have a box of Lexy originals (signed, even!) from my JK to grade 5 years (I’d like to think it’ll be called my “Ochre period” one day, since I spent most of that age bracket muddy or dusty), I have yet to have the opportunity to showcase them in any way.

The goal of the Seven Links is to highlight some of your posts that would otherwise remain in archive ‘storage’ forever more.

Be warned – I don’t ‘do’ introspection well.  I wanted to go back and change all of my older posts, because, clearly, past-me didn’t understand the rules of  blogging.  Unlike my childhood “I don’t know the rules of soccer-baseball, but I’ll play anyways and get a home-run when everyone tells me to run and I do” past-self, I did not win at blogging when I started out.

My most beautiful post – One man’s Junk is another man’s Jungle Gym.  It’s got lots of pictures, it’s got a dog dancing on his hind legs, it’s got lots of random doggy activities, and it’s got ideas for doggy entertainment.  And it reminds me of a happy memory of an afternoon spent frolicking with my happy pooch in the back yard.  Now that’s a beautiful thing.

My most popular post – Jurassic Privy.  Honestly, I’m a bit baffled.  But I blame Google.  I was found on Google via 34 searches for “Jurassic Park toilet”, an assortment of t-rex searches, and… just… a bunch of searches for variations on the combination Jurassic park + toilet + man-on-it. Or, people just like potty humor and dinosaurs.  In that train, for your further entertainment: Gwynn discovered while camping that he really likes sticking his head under stall doors.  Nothing like a big orange hairy nose sniffing your ankle while in a vault toilet in a high-bear-population area to really wake you up in the morning!

My most controversial post – Bob Barker is Watching You.  The whole topic is controversial, and the responses were certainly fiery.  They were, however, fiery and on my side of the debate.  I think, however, that the post wasn’t clear enough about the fact that, while I think pets should be spayed or neutered, I don’t necessarily mean your pet.  But I might.  It depends.  I got a great and informative comment from one blogger about why their dogs aren’t fixed, and I hope they knew from the post that they were definitely NOT in the “Go get your dogs fixed, stupid!” category.

My most helpful post – Butchering the Duck.  We had to look long and far to find help butchering a chicken, and that was the closest we could get to help butchering a duck.  Now, though, my “pro” duck-butchering is floating around on the interwebs, and might just be found by someone else shocked to find the head and feet still on the duck they bought.

A post whose success surprised me Looking back, Walking in a Winter Wonderland was lacking in pictures, and had an over-abundance of words.  I’m glad so many people found their way to it, though.

A post I feel didn’t get the attention it deserved –Now I Know I Knew so Little, but I understand why it didn’t get much attention.  It was one of my earliest posts.  It could be rewritten or split up and made into a far more reader-friendly post.  There aren’t any pictures.  The paragraphs are long.  But it very closely captures that “I just got my first dog ever” feeling, which is a big part of why I started this blog in the first place.

The post that I am most proud of – I’m not sure if proud is the right word, but I really enjoyed my Chivalry and Hatchbacks post.  It’s a post about car-shopping, but, in my opinion, is WAY more entertaining than actually  reading about… you know… shopping for cars.

Some Bloggers whose Seven Links I’d like to see:

JM Randolph, the Accidental Stepmom

OH My Words

The Ramblings

To those bloggers:  Sorry, and congratulations!  I hope you’re better at this than I am!

To everyone else – you should go check these bloggers out – they’re hilarious and entertaining!

Champion at Versatility

As I mentioned in a previous post, Abigail over at Oh My Words was kind enough to award me with the Versatile Blogger Award.  It made me immensely happy.  This award is proof of one thing:  I have readers (or at least, reader.)!  And not just the accidental google-search visitor, either.  This is someone who has read at least a few of my articles, and decided I’m a worthwhile read!

Much as I like the idea of writing down some random nonsense and releasing it into the deep dark woods of the interwebs, I love the comments people leave, and the interactions therein so much more.  I find it amazing to see that someone from Texas or California or Halifax is reading my posts, and likes them enough to leave me a quick note about it, agreeing, or disagreeing, or pointing out an aspect of something that had me upset that I hadn’t considered. 

So, back to the bloggy awesomeness of the Versatile Blogger Award, here are the requirements for accepting this award:

1. Post linking back to the person that gave you the award.
2. Share 7 random things about yourself.
3. Award 15 recently discovered blogs.
4. Drop them a note and tell them about it.

Number one… Check!

Seven Random Things:

I can unicycle… badly.  I was inspired at age 10 while visiting the Bike Show in Toronto, and my dad made a deal with me that I would have to raise half the money, and he’d raise the other half, and we’d get a unicycle.  I’m not particularly graceful, there is a great deal of arm-waving, and I’m not so great at turning.  However, I do pick it up a few times a year, and I do manage to get a bit of distance, though not enough to get anywhere in particular.  To the guy I saw unicycling home with a case of beer and a grocery bag, I salute you!

I despise… despise! … pickytarianism.  Don’t call yourself a vegetarian to avoid eating the meats you just don’t like the taste of, call it what it is!  Because people who eat chicken are not vegetarians… especially not people who only eat meat in general sometimes (aka, when the way it was cooked is a way that they like to eat it, or when they’re drunk)… be honest, and just say, “I don’t like that”.  Also, do not refer to the things you don’t like (whether you’re vege- or picky-tarian) in a derogatory manner –  just because it’s not what you like, doesn’t mean you have to insult it to avoid having to eat it. 

I spent two summers working in provincial parks.  I did trail grooming, dug toilet pits, picked up trash, and achieved the best fitness of my life while ultimately being paid to camp.  I could solo a canoe down a 5 km section of trail with hardly any effort, but with a whopping amount of pride in accomplishment.  My only complaint was that the staff-house was overrun with mice… cheeky buggers were so cocky, they’d run down the side of a room full of people as soon as dusk had settled.  The acquired life-skill of not shrieking at mice served me well at a hostel in Europe, when one ran out from under my bag in a 15 person room late at night.  Instead of waking everyone up with a girly shriek of terror and rage, I entertained those who were still awake by going from cross-legged on the floor to doing a leaping dance of don’t-touch-the-floor-or-the-mice-might-touch-you with a wide-eyed, wide-mouthed rictus of fear on my face at hyper-speed. 

When I get frustrated or upset about people I’m forced to interact with, I dream of being a successful independent recluse, in detail.  I know roughly where my amazing off-the-grid house would go, and I can picture the glorious vegetable garden, fruit trees, pantry full of home-canned and home-dehydrated goods, and rabbit hutch full of rabbits.  All this will allow me to hardly ever be required to go to grocery stores, or encounter people in general.  I have visions of a house full of doodle-type dogs all trained to a sled in the winter.  I’d go into more detail, but I guarantee, it just gets weirder. 

I love being barefoot.  My childhood summers were nearly entirely bare-footed, only putting on shoes when absolutely necessary.  I just love the feeling of grass and dirt, and really feeling what I’m walking across, rather than getting the diluted sense of ground surface through shoes.  That is a big part of why I got my Vibram Five Finger shoes – I no longer have the super-tough soles of my childhood, but I can now walk my dog nearly-barefoot.  If they come out with a highly insulated winter type calf-height version of these, I will be hard-put to resist the urge to spend my money on it.  I recommend trying these on if you ever find yourself with the opportunity.  It is a cool feeling.

I am very bendy.  One of my favourite reading poses is in a wing-back chair, head against one wing, one (or both) legs propped up on the other wing.  I enjoy doing yoga, though it is harder to do at home with the dog around, because he enjoys cleaning my ears with his tongue.  And his tongue is very bendy as well!

I’m very self-conscious about my blogginess, and my writing in general.  The only person I know personally who has read this blog, or any of my creative writing, is Doodle.  If anyone in my group of friends knows about it, I would be surprised (and suspicious of Doodle), and feel very awkward writing as openly.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll get up the courage to post a bit of my fictional writing on here, to get some opinions on it.  At the moment, however, even revealing that I attempt writing fiction makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable.  However, that clearly doesn’t prevent me from writing epically lengthy posts – hopefully the hikers who joined at the beginning have managed to get this far through the wandering trail of my thought process!

Now, for the 15 recently discovered blogs.  Well… not all are really recent, but I discovered them at some point in the past few months at any rate, and enjoy reading what they have to say.  I tried to not give the award to people I remember having recieved it already, but if they have already, sorry!  I wasn’t quite gung-ho enough about that part of the plan to actually go through each blog and check this.  In no particular order, I count the following bloggers as highly Versatile! 

1. 2 Brown Dawgs Blog

2. Rescued Insanity

3. The mompocalypse

4. My Pajama Days

5. youdidwhatwithyourweiner

6. The Good Greatsby

7. accidentalstepmom

8. jodistone

9. Oldspouse

10. Time to train your dog

11. Four ‘N’ Twenty Blackbirds

12. Pithypants

13. Gourm(EH)?

14. Live at E’s

15. The Life and Times of Nathan Badley

I raided the award pic off pweetytales.blogspot.com, because it is so pretty and orange!

I will be dropping these bloggers a note over the next few days, and you should take some time and go check them out!

An Update on Friday

I am slowly meandering my way through the murky waters of understanding blogging in general, and my blog’s setup in particular.  I finally figured out what it is that I need to do to add a nifty blogroll to my sidebar.  Unfortunately, it’ll take a bit of time to get everything up there that I want, because there are A LOT of blogs I really enjoy, and I prefer reading them to tinkering with my dashboard. 

Check out this link to Time to Train your Dog to see a guest post I did about the awesomeness of the Kong Wobbler.  And to check out all the great posts Angel already has!  She has a background in dog training, and can help you with all sorts of training tips.  She’s also got a great series of posts about getting a new dog or puppy that goes over things you should consider and things you should do and have before you bring your new furry family member home.  Keep an eye out here for some guest-posts from her on this site as well. 

Tonight I will spin like a fiend.  Tomorrow and Sunday, Gwynn and I will commune with nature and our inner wolves.  Tomorrow night I’ll dress like a pirate, and farewell-party-hearty with my mateys.  Sunday I will attempt to prove myself to be both a top-chef and master of organizational skills.  I’m planning on trying out this Parsley and Leek Tart recipe on Sunday, and taking five days’ worth to hide in the fridge at work for use as breakfast or lunch.  This past week, I did this with stirfry (a bit overcooked, but I’ll make it better next time) and oatmeal, and it is amazing how much more efficient I was in the morning!  Maximized walking-time without impinging on sleep-time or abusing my stomach with less-than-appetizing peanutbutter sandwiches.

Maybe I’ll even attempt to gather the pictures/memories to write a post about my trip to NYC sometime next week as well!