Sunday, May 31, 2020


Grace is now almost a year and a half old. I never cease to be astonished at how fast puppies grow!
I mean, look how tiny she was next to Sam! Now I have a seventy-five pound puppy who still has almost a year more of growing and filling out to do.

She couldn't be more different from my beloved Sam. (We all miss him dearly, still.) Where he was chill, she's over-the-top high energy. Where he deeply desired to please you, she didn't care a whole lot, although that's changing as she gets a little more mature.

Thank goodness for doggy daycare! She gets to play with other high-energy dogs and gets to do activities she doesn't have, here at the house. I always check in with the daycare lady to see what she did during the day, and I get a full report. The other day when I picked her up, I was told that Grace's first time in the pool went really well. Too well, in fact. Apparently they had a hard time getting her out of the pool!

Jeez, I miss having a lake nearby. Getting her to swim would wear off a lot of energy and is so good for her!

It's interesting to see the different things they decide to do on their own, too. She taught herself to fetch my dad's morning paper, and she mostly gives it to me instead of running out the back door with it, anymore. She's also such a good girl with her treats!
I'm very fortunate in that I was able to take both her and Sam to work every day, and now, of course, I just take her. We have a couple of other businesses in our building, and she comes out to visit the other people from time to time. 

She's a terrible bed hog, but she is a comfort to have in bed at night. I've just learned to get ahold of the sheets before she gets into bed so I actually have them covering me!

I miss Sam every day. He was truly an exceptional boy! And while Grace does have big paws to fill, I'm more able to see her for her, and not compare her so much to him. I use similar training with her, but now I'm learning to adapt them for her specific needs. Developing a relationship with her is getting to be fun, instead of a constant challenge.

I'm interested to see who she's going to be in the coming years!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Writing Through the Pain

Pic via The List Love
Horror fans will remember when we almost lost one of our icons, Stephen King.

It was June of 1999, and as King was taking a late-afternoon walk, he was hit by a Dodge van and very narrowly escaped being killed instantly. It was one of those, "Yeah, what happened was horrible, but you could have been killed instantly if not just one, but several things had happened just a hair differently!"

I'm writing about this now, because I get notifications from The New Yorker sent to my email. From time to time, they send out links to older writings, like the article King wrote, On Impact

He wrote about his experience of the accident and the grueling and soul-shaking work of learning not only to walk again, but learning to write again. Typical of his writing style, it's equal parts real-life horror and humor. I think one of the funnier observations he made was that, after Bryan Smith, the man who hit him, tells the cops that he and his dog were driving to the store for "Marzes bars." 

King says, "When I hear this detail some weeks later, it occurs to me that I have nearly been killed by a character out of one of my own novels. It’s almost funny."

You can read the article for all of the details, but what really struck me was the last paragraph, specifically, the last sentence: 
"Writing did not save my life, but it is doing what it has always done: it makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place."
I've been thinking about this for the last few days. 

In the earlier days of this blog, I wrote daily, almost. It was never the most spectacular example of prose, ever, but I enjoyed it quite a lot. It gave me a place to share cool Halloween stuff and connect with a bunch of you Halloween people (many of whom are actual, real-life friends, now). I had just moved into a new town, and I hadn't made a lot of friends, yet, so it gave me another avenue to connect. It also gave me a chance to work out my thoughts and to get some insights from those of you who wanted to chime in. 

John Wolfe (may he rest in peace), of the now-defunct Season of Shadows blog, said my posts had the feeling of catharsis. He was right. This blog is my catharsis, even though life has gotten too busy to write on it daily.

But telling your truth - telling the truth - seems to be a bit of a challenge in these ever-changing times.

Case in point: The Donald. Twitter has at last started placing fact-checks beside his tweets. And the tiny-handed man-baby is, predictably, shitting his diaper and threatening to sign Executive Orders so he can continue to lie. While this would be funny if it were a sit-com, it's frightening to see the behavior of a malignant narcissist in the person of a man who has the nuclear codes.

What does that have to do with writing? With this blog?

Well, I guess for me, it brings home the importance of telling the truth and accepting responsibility for my actions, good or bad. I'm far from perfect, and I'm not always right, but I will always tell the truth on these pages. It's so much easier than the panic of having to keep track of all the lies you've told.

Those of you who have followed me for a few years, or maybe even since my first post in 2008 will have seen a lot of life happen to me. Some good things, some great things, and some incredibly painful things. I won't say "bad" because all the things which have happened to me have made me grow. They've made me more introspective and more determined, sometimes softer and more compassionate. All of it has changed me. All of it has shown me where I need to grow - good lord has it shown me where I must grow! - even if I'm kicking, crying, and screaming as it happens. Such is life. 

Writing it out has been instrumental in my healing. In my living. In watching the old parts of me die. In the contemplation of the unknowable future. In the process of rebirth.

I'll continue to write it out. 

As with Mr. King, it makes my life a brighter and more pleasant place.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


In between studying new programs to advance into the VFX field, being absolutely stunned at my luck in being a part of a top-notch team of folks working on new technology (and knowing I will not ever be the smartest person in the room when working with them, which is humbling, but in a good way), I'm still able to take time to do what I love: make Halloween.
I haven't made little pumpkin guys for years, so after a couple of false starts, I managed to remember the technique necessary to put a few together.
The studio where I will be doing the firing is still closed, unfortunately. I mean, I get it, right? But I'm just impatient to get these guys fired so I can glaze them. I have to make enough to be able to rent the kiln from them, too, as they're a high-fire studio and these guys are all low-fire clay. 

I use earthenware for these mostly out of habit, honestly. When I had my studio and my kiln, firing at lower temperatures is easier on your kiln elements as well as your electrical bill. I also like low-fire because the colors you can use are so much brighter than you can use at a higher temperature range. Many of the minerals used to create color burn out in higher temperatures, so low-fire is a good choice. 
I'm using underglazes for my pumpkin guys for the time being. They're formulated to stay put, rather than flow, so if you paint pictures or designs, they stay exactly where you put them. I may or may not go over them with a clear glaze. I'm not sure, yet. We'll see how they look when they come out of the first firing.

Whenever that is... 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Planting the Garden - Better Late Than Never!

It's been a long time since I've done any gardening. It's one of the things I've missed most since I left Folsom. I've had so much stuff on my plate the last several years, I just didn't have the time to dedicate, let alone the head space.

Now, with Covid-19 potentially causing some of my and my dad's favorite veggies to be a little more scarce, I thought it might be a good time to get my hands in the dirt, again.
After consulting with dad about how he wanted it to look, I ordered a kit from Lowe's. It was incredibly easy to put together! The cedar boards just slid right into the pre-cut grooves in the corner pieces and all that was left to do was to fill it with dirt.

Which I ran out of. Dang it! 

I had to wait a few days until I had time to make another Lowe's run and grab a couple more bags of garden dirt. While I was there, I threw in a Sweet Pepper plant to encourage all the rest of the seeds to sprout. "See? Look at how pretty you can become! One day soon, you'll be this big!"

The next thing was to attempt to dog-proof the new planting. Anyone who's a dog owner knows just how wonderfully smelly fresh dirt and fertilizer is to a dog, almost as wonderful as rolling in a pile of stinky horse poop! Grace, my Hell Hound, is no different, and she seems to have the puppy's uncanny knack for getting into precisely the thing she absolutely, under no circumstances, should get into. This would be far too much temptation for her; a messy excavation project would be her first step!

This was a job for dad.
I have to say, my dad is pretty darn gracious about getting roped into my extra projects. It's a pleasant change to have someone who's enthusiastic about getting things done and enjoys the challenge of problem-solving!
He had some short poultry wire lying around, which we measured out and wrapped around some spare wooden posts he cut for the purpose. 
The end product wasn't too shabby!

Of course, Grace decided to just lean her head and neck on the wire to see what kind of dirt she could eat. (Insert eye-roll here.) But I think it will keep her from jumping in until the initial interesting smells die down. That usually only takes a couple of weeks. We're looking forward to all the nifty goodies we'll be getting out of our project, even when I'll have to re-plant some of them due to space!

Meanwhile, in another area of the yard are a few pots I planted with tomatoes, zucchini, and basil. 
I am really looking forward to fresh tomatoes! The store-bought ones are just never as tasty, and the flesh is just too mealy, for lack of a better word.

It occurred to me how lucky I am to still have my dad to enjoy these little afternoon projects with. I get my dry sense of humor from him, and the ability to banter back and forth with him while we were getting this done made the work go easily and with laughter. I really treasure this time with him!

So, what kind of things have you planted?