Rhododendrons

The elegant Afghan Hound stopped dead in his tracks, his silky hair swaying to a halt a few moments later.  He looked at his surroundings – green, lots of green.  And a spiky and frightening piece of green that swayed in the wind.  With other colours in the green, bobbing madly and erratically.  He stared intently at the large white building across the vast expanse of green.  He turned and stared up at the man on the other end of the leash with an expression that wavered between general uncertainty and mild panic.

If his mind were to form coherently human thoughts, they would be along the lines of who are you?  Where am I?  Who am I?  And perhaps, am I being abducted?  Should I be frightened?  Should I bark?  would start to creep to the fore of this whirligig of confusion.  And then, cookie? Cookie!  Mmmm… cookie. 

***

The dog wagged his tail tentatively, and then faster, rebooting the system, coming out of his confused paralysis.  He grinned up at Jamie and licked his lips, hopeful of another cookie.

Jamie sighed and wondered if the hound was wilier than he appeared to be.

“There, there, Asimov,”  Jamie patted the lanky dog on the shoulder and, with a last look around to try and figure out why this particular spot always caused the animal to go into mental lock-down mode.  Big white house, grass, flowers, basically the same as any other garden they’d walked past.  Maybe it was the rhododendrons planted right beside the sidewalk.

If ever there was an example of why dog breeders should focus less on beauty and more on brains, it was Asimov the very ironically named Afghan Hound.  The tiny little brain tucked in behind those lovely doe eyes could only run so many functions at once, so Asimov regularly forgot who Jamie was when he had to deal with all that complicated walking while wagging his tail and breathing.  By the time his owner returned from her usual week to ten days away, Jamie suspected that Asimov had nearly completely forgotten her too.  Luckily for everyone involved, he didn’t require much more than a cookie to reassure himself that, whoever he was with, that person was clearly a good sort of fellow.

Jamie had quickly learned to keep a bag of treats by his bed for those times when Asimov awoke in the night (having forgotten what he was doing, perhaps, and very uncertain of what the lack of light could mean), and proceeded to bark hysterically while racing frantically (but elegantly) around the condo.  The first time he’d house-sat for Mrs Grady, the condo board had sent him a firmly reprimanding letter of notice.

The young couple down the hall had left him a note explaining the memory situation, attached to a Ziploc baggie of dog biscuits.

These aren't rhododendrons... but it was the only picture I've taken recnetly of flowers that are even remotely shrubbish.
These aren’t rhododendrons… but it was the only picture I’ve taken recnetly of flowers that are even remotely shrubbish.

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.

Rain

Not gonna lie, this prompt response is 412 words.  But, people, it’s nanowrimo, and every extra word counts.  I’ve got no time, no words, no ideas, and definitely not enough freaking words.  See for yourself – if you want to be my friend on Nano, find me under ‘lexy0387’ in the Toronto nanosphere.  I know, it’s sad.  Every word is being dragged out of me with the sam amount of effort and pain as an adult tooth.  And, when my dentist pulled a front tooth painfully and without enough freezing, from my mouth, he was horrified.  “Oh… yeah, that would have still hurt – wow, you’ve got long roots!”.  Thanks, doc (dent?), thanks a whole lot.  If I ever need another tooth removed, I’ll remind you to seriously seriously pay attention when I ask for that fourth shot of freezing, because apparently my roots are about this close to coming out the bottom side of my jaw.  Like an alien from Doctor Who.

I had this brilliant idea… it was all planned out in my head.  There were scenes in which my MC, much as I like her, would not be happy.  She would, in fact, experience the full range of human emotions, and encounter difficulties, people she liked, disliked, loved, hated.  It was all there, and I kept holding back writing anything of it, because, you know… not november.  And now, where is it?  I’ve got nothing.  it’s sad.  This weekend might just see me begging family members to take the dog on various lengths of walk, so that I can sit at the computer without him yipping his loneliness at me, and actually… write.

I’m starting to feel like Hook.  Can anyone else hear that dreadful tic-tic-ticking?

For now, though, shockingly, the cringe-worthy first scene in what I’ve written so far actually quite suits the Red Writing Hood prompt over at Write on Edge.

This week, use rain as the inspiration for your fiction or creative non-fiction piece. The word limit is 400, so please come back this Friday and show us what you’ve written.

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-Hood
Follow the links to check out what others have written.  If you’re doing Nano, good luck, and I hope you’re doing better than I am.  If you aren’t… well… then you just won’t understand why my posting is going to continue being so severely limited for the remainder of the month.

Interesting artwork from talented artist?  Hah, no.  How about more hours in the day?  But here’s a picture of my puppy.  Note that he’s not sleeping.  No… that would be ridiculous.  He’s watching me type my nanovel… keeping an eye on me to ensure I don’t do anything silly like try to leave the room without his noticing.

Lily stared grimly ahead, struggling to keep calm.

Of course they’d be here.  They paid for it.

She shivered as the steady drizzle of rain seeped ice into her bones, stabbing through her heart as her brother’s coffin was lowered into the ground.  She wondered if any of the strangers who had shown up for his funeral actually cared that he was dead.  That woman, his boss, certainly showed no signs of sadness.  Lily glared at the couture-bedecked woman seated across the grave, some minion holding an umbrella over her head.  Perfectly made-up hazel eyes lifted to meet red-rimmed and swollen.  Lily refused to look away, refused to be apologetic for being caught glaring.

The woman’s lips twitched near a smile, and she nodded acknowledgement to Lily before turning to speak to the man seated beside her.  He nodded and rose.

A few moments later, the rain transferred its sodden fury to an umbrella.  Lily tensed, trying to focus her whole attention on the priest’s words, trying to ignore the presence at her back.

Her nephew had other ideas, twisting around to smile toothily.  “Hey, Remy,” he stage whispered, his childish enthusiasm giving it greater volume.

“Hey kiddo,” Remy crouched down slightly, still holding the umbrella high enough to protect all three of them.  More than a hint of a smile played across her brother’s ex-employer’s face this time.

Lily hated the easy way Matthew let go of her hand to grab hold of Remy.

He’s been Jake’s best friend for years.  Of course Matty likes him.  He’s a familiar face.  She tried to focus on the fact that, without Jake around, she wouldn’t have to deal with these people much longer.  Just get through today.

She flinched away when Remy leaned in, his warm breath against her neck.  “I’m going to take Matty for a walk.  He doesn’t need to hear all this crap.”  Faintly, Lily saw the sharp jerk of Remy’s head towards the priest.

Lily hadn’t even been paying much attention to the man, but Remy was right.  Ramblings about how God felt it was her brother’s time to go, that God was taking him into his arms, blah, blah, blah, how trite.  How completely meaningless to a boy who just lost his father.  She nodded her consent.

Remy tried to hand her the umbrella, but she shook her head, no.  She had cried enough over the past few days – the rain could do her crying for her.