Tag Archives: grandchildren

My office window plus Christmas

We spent Christmas morning at my son’s house. We like to watch the grandkids open their presents. Turns out my grandson and his friends take their Nerf guns to the park and play “war.” According to his mother, they really get into it. This is what his parents got him for Christmas.

Turns out they make ghillie suits in kids’ sizes. He even got a strap he can wrap around his Nerf rifle so it blends in too. I told him if we added a few electric lights, and some ornaments, he’d completely disappear against that background. I think he won at Christmas this year, and he was sure excited.

Meanwhile back at the ranch… or my office, this is going on.

Okay, if you have to explain photos, they suck. This little bugger was fast. That bump on top of the log is a mink. He’d poke his head up, I’d get a blurry click, then he’d dive underwater. I cropped a different image, but that only makes it blurry. Here it is anyway.

He was on his way into the water for this one. If he hangs around, I may get another chance at him. Between the two pictures you can tell he’s beside a broken branch. He’s looking up in the first one, and aimed at the water in the second one. For now, you’ll just have to take my word for it. Ha ha.



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Fun half-day with the grandkids

Otto and I woke up early today. I managed two chapters of beta reading, and while it isn't great, I get to count it as progress. That may be all I accomplish, besides updating this blog.

Our granddaughter was sick last night, so we only got our grandson overnight. We checked this morning, and she was fine, so we picked her up on the way to the Discovery Center. People were lined up before they even opened the door. Not us, we let the line go inside, then walked up without standing in the cold. No sense in exposing our granddaughter to any more cold than we had to.

The attraction is the traveling exhibit of Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. I'll be honest and say I was as excited as they were. We get some cool things in Boise, but usually manage to miss them. This time we decided not to procrastinate until it was too late.

Sue is the largest T-Rex ever found, and one of the most complete. They aren't certain if “she's” a male or female, but it's named after one of the folks who helped extract her from the ground. They refer to her in the female, and with no better evidence, why not.

It really is impressive. The fossils are in a museum in Chicago, and are too valuable to travel. This is a reproduction/replica. The castings are so accurate even some scientists prefer to work with them. They have a second head on a rotating pedestal that you can get up close and personal with. There are cross sections of bones you can touch and examine, and even some coprolites and eggs (under glass). Cool stuff. I haven't been to a museum full of this stuff in decades, but there are several good ones in Utah. For Boise, this is a big deal.

Of course I had to be a fan-boy too. It's pretty cool seeing the remains of a predator that's longer than a cross-town bus.

We stuck around and played with slime, created a tornado, and experimented with a television green screen. We learned about levers, pulleys, and the grandkids got to lay on a bed of nails. It's the Discovery Center, it's what you do.

We have reservations at a restaurant tonight, w/o grandkids. I doubt I'll get any serious work done today, and Sundays usually aren't too productive either. I'm off Monday, and have high hopes.

Hope everyone else is having a great weekend too.


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Writing isn’t all about word count

As of today, I haven't written one new word on a short story, micro-fiction, or The Yak Guy Project since last Monday. I want to, but writing has additional obligations these days.

If I don't promote myself, nobody else will either. This means sticking a toe into new things and expanding my reach. I spent a considerable amount of time getting into Facebook. This includes months of waiting for the artwork to make it perfect. I used the waiting time to piece together the Warhol/Harrington on yesterday's blog post. This sort of thing takes me forever, because I'm not talented that way.

As a result, both the Entertaining Stories, and Lisa Burton Facebook pages were well received. Friends offered me some suggestions about groups, and I'll get there too. Right now, I'm making and accepting friend requests, answering questions, that kind of thing. It's new (to me) and there is a learning curve.

In addition, I used a cool app called PhotoFunia to manipulate some pictures into fun frames and situations. I used these to post the Facebook sites on Twitter. My favorite involved Lisa on the cover of Vogue magazine. Cheesy? Sure, but it catches the eye in the tornado of information on Twitter, and maybe someone will visit the sites.

Several friends invited their social circles to visit the new sites, and I am eternally grateful for you guys.

While all of this was happening, I also exchanged ideas for the cover of The Playground. It seems minimal, and on a writing day it usually is. It might even wait, but there is a danger to putting stuff off too.

Right after I pushed all the buttons yesterday, I made sourdough bread. This one is an oatmeal honey whole wheat bread. I have this cool chokecherry honey I used. It may, or may not, involve chokecherry pollen, but there is a bit of chokecherry juice stirred into it. It even separates and requires stirring. It sounds strange, but it's wonderful. I set the dough out to raise before checking on social media again.

Sourdough usually takes a long time to raise, and I expected to bake it Sunday. I wound up baking it today, and had some for lunch. It turned out amazing. I think the yeast has a thing for chokecherry honey, and that's why it was faster.

We went to the 12, now 13 year old granddaughter's birthday last night. She had friends over for a slumber party, so we took the little ones home for the night. They were pretty crazy after cupcakes and pizza, and you can imagine it wasn't a perfect writing environment. This morning was calmer, but it's hard to write over the top of Ninja Turtles cartoons.

I managed to box up the first 3000 words of The Yak Guy Project and send them to my critique group. It's always nerve wracking showing them something new, but it's one of the best training grounds I have access too.

Tonight is date night, and tomorrow I dedicate my mornings to my parents. All of these people are important to me, and I can't be a writer every minute away from the paycheck job.

I consider it a very successful weekend, and I may snitch a bit of time tomorrow. My wife has to work, and there is still a possibility of some new words. The Facebook pages are live after months of planning. I managed to ship out my critique submission, and worked Twitter regarding my Facebook project. I also updated this blog twice, and will probably post again tomorrow.

There is writing, and then there is writing. This weekend I expanded my footprint, and that's progressive.

I did all of this while still hanging out with my grandchildren, having date night, and will spend some telephone time with my parents tomorrow. I may even have some sourdough toast for breakfast.

How do you guys feel about it? Does anything beyond new words count as writing to you? It has to count that way for me.


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2015 leaves with a whimper

No one knows how life is going to go on a daily basis. Things turned South in a hurry over the last two weeks.

Sometime the week before Christmas, I found out my daughter started smoking. There were the trips to a coffee shop at odd hours. The need to take two cars to our son’s house on Christmas morning. The smell confirmed it all.

She regularly informs us that, “She’s a grown assed woman.” At 21 years of age, I suppose that’s true. It just seems like she wants that status only when it’s convenient, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I still think someone who’s completely into hair, makeup, and fashion ought to be concerned about smelling like shit. This same daughter ran to the doctor recently complaining of chest pains, and getting a chest x-ray. Nothing was wrong, but she was prescribed some steroids to help with swelling. Wonder why???

On Christmas Day, the old pitbull developed two lumps under his jaws. He’s already exceeded his shelf life, so I’ve been dreading this for some time. The most likely cause is cancer, and we had the biopsy taken Monday. The results today are – no cancer. He will start on antibiotics tomorrow, but at 13-14 years old I know it’s coming eventually.

Yesterday, my son and daughter-in-law wound up taking the 4 year old to the doctor. This led to a specialist, and blood work, plus an ultrasound. We won’t know anything until next week.

To top off the worries, my daughter crashed her Jeep on Monday night. This led to a tow truck and an insurance claim. She seems to be using it as a crutch to get out of work and school. We wound up helping her with her last car payment. Seems to me that work ought to be important somehow if you’re short on money. I suppose her money is dedicated to buying cigarettes these days.

My wife co-signed for the Jeep, and we care about our credit. Guess who gets to pay the insurance deductible too. I’m having a hard time here, because “grown assed woman” seems like it ought to apply across the board.

My daughter has always been a go-getter, and this is a new phase for her. If I said I’m a little disappointed it would be an understatement.

My wife spent the evening with our son and his family last night. There is nothing she can do, but it makes her feel better to be there. I’m a wait and see kind of guy. I wound up with some time to myself, and The Yak Guy Project is over 11,000 words now.

2016 can’t get here fast enough for me.


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Catching up?

I spent most of my day playing catch up. All the camping, and my paycheck job keep me from doing some things.

I started off working through my critiques. The guys had some good suggestions this month, and I needed to get those changes made. I woke up at 6:30 this morning and had enough time before my morning appointment.

The appointment was with my daughter for a haircut. The paycheck job is sending me to Sun Valley for a week. I have to make two presentations while I’m there, and the haircut is necessary.

I spent the rest of the day getting guest posts moving for October and November. I had a couple roughed out, but managed to get them all sent away this afternoon. I still have to build one from a friend that I’m hosting over here.

All in all, I feel pretty productive. It’s our grandson’s birthday next week, and grandma promised him a “big boy” bicycle. We took him to Toys “R” Us and picked one out. I’ll still be in Sun Valley the day of the party, but at least I got to do this.

We stopped by one of our favorite little places for prime rib and bread pudding. I managed two Leinenkugel Pumpkin Shandys while there. Shandys are always light and simple, and this was no exception. I’ve never had a beer from this brewery that I didn’t like, and pumpkin is a bonus.

That was my day. I feel productive, it’s time to update the blog, but I didn’t make any progress in my reading. I have three books from friends that I need to read, and better get on with it.

Have a nice evening everyone.


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Just checking in

This camping is tough business. It requires some dedication to plan, load up, and make camp. It also requires some effort after getting home. It was muddy, and we washed the entire camper. There were generators to put away, groceries to account for, that kind of thing.

Making breakfast outside

We had a great time, and the grandchildren were wonderful. My grandson just moved beyond training wheels on his bike, and was a madman around the campgrounds.

My favorite part was the evening around the campfire. I had a couple of pumpkin beers while the kids made s'mores.

The grandkids wanted to tell spooky stories, and some of the stuff they came up with was pretty funny. As an example, there were a couple of stories about Shrek.

They begged me to tell a story, and I read them a couple of pieces of my micro-fiction. This is the first time I've ever read something I've written to anyone. I was kind of nervous, even if they were all family.

The little ones missed the point of the stories. The twelve year old had her mind completely blown. My daughter-in-law was pretty impressed too.

I have to remember to send a copy of Will O' the Wisp to the twelve year old. It's something she would really enjoy.

I had a little bit of operator error with my generators. We had plenty of battery power, and it wasn't a problem. I figured out what I did wrong, and everything worked wonderfully. I have an old fashioned coffee pot, so there was never a risk of doing without. I could have made coffee over the fire with no problems. I was on a roll with the coffee maker and wanted to make it work. Here was the solution until I figured everything out.

I missed a day or two online. If you had a post that I should have seen, feel free to let me know. I went back through my most frequent commenters and visited all their sites. I should feel worse than I do about it. I don't step away often enough, and that family time is precious. I'm back now, and back to work tomorrow too.


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It’s…the mall

I get it. I grew up in the same small town my parents still live in. When you get to a real town, you need to go shopping.

We, on the other hand, can go to the mall anytime we choose. (And frequently do.) The difference being that my mother has to look in each store to see what's new. We tend to hit and run, only going to the one store we need.

I followed the girls into Dillard's and kept walking. Old Chicago pizza was busy, and the only chair available was in a group setting on tall hard stools. These stools don't have any back either. I'm a short guy, and they kill my back.

Still, I'm a trooper, I downed three really good craft beers. I'm entitled to one more every time I stop off on the World Beer tour. My back told me it was time to check on the girls.

I met my daughter, dragging my grandson my way. (Not her child, for clarity's sake.) Apparently, my daughter-in-law decided to show up to do a bit of school shopping. My daughter said, “Grandson has been saying he's hungry for an hour.” They wanted to go to Old Chicago so he could get something to eat.

I'm a sport, and offered to buy them lunch. Everyone else showed up before our order arrived. I only had another beer, but was pretty happy that shopping appeared to be over. Silly old man.

I got to see everyone's new haircuts, and that was fun. The little ones decided to cut each other's hair. My daughter had to clean up the mess, and she did a good job. The oldest, and third one, got highlights out of the deal, and my daughter did a good job on those too.

After everyone ate, we had another hour of mall cruising ahead of us. Ultimately, we decided to grab takeout food before calling it a day.

On the writing front, I never accomplished one damned thing. Tomorrow, we have to haul the camper over and start getting it ready.

I may get a few things done on Monday or Tuesday. We had a nice visit, and sometimes that's more important.

I hope everyone out there is having a good weekend.


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The end of my weekend

Today is my rotating day off. With it winding down, I thought I'd tally up whatever I might have accomplished over the last three days. I also have a serious question for you. I know I'm rarely serious, but bloggers know stuff and maybe you can help me.

My sister-in-law was here for a few days. I had to work through most of this, but my wife took a day off and got to spend it with her sister. This is great, considering we only get to see her every five to ten years. We went out to a nice dinner one night.

We also had our grandson over the weekend. We took him to the last flag football game and watched him collect his trophy. His parents both had commitments, and I'm glad we could help out.

I managed to deadhead my roses. This makes them grow and brings on new flowers. Roses all took a hit here last year, but mine aren't grafted so they all came back true. We had a terrible cold snap in November and it caught them all by surprise.

I poisoned the lawn for clover, crabgrass, and dandelions. I know some people are against that, but they won't let me buy napalm anymore. I don't mind a certain amount of invasion in the lawn, but there's more clover than grass right now.

Research on potential novels turned into reading. I'm so hooked on the book that I'm reading the whole thing. I actually have about five books by this guy, and some of the data I wanted is in another volume somewhere. I cleaned and filled fountain pens and managed a page of notes that deserve deeper research.

The competing outlines got a few more index cards. One is starting to show signs of an act one, and the others aren't far behind. I'm struggling to find the right bad guys for the science fiction piece though. The story I have in mind would have the readers cheering for the bad guy.

I started reading another novel at the same time, and am over a quarter of the way through. I'm really enjoying it, and looking forward to getting back to it.

I finished one short story, but it needs some work, wrote a cool micro fiction, and started another short story. The new short is coming up flat though. Maybe going to work for four days will bring some clarity.

I prepared a couple of guest posts and sent them off. One is going to be a blog swap so that will be fun. I explored an autumn promotional opportunity with a friend, and it has a lot of potential.

I also exchanged a pretty fun bunch of emails with a cover artist for the book of short stories. The cover is looking incredible, but we're going to let it stew for a month or so. I don't want to release it until school starts up again. We have time to play around and tweak a few things. (It's so awesome though!)

Back to outlining and that question I have. I wrote a sequence of posts a few weeks back about how I storyboard my outlines. I also mentioned a specific app I use, but that's it was getting tired on iOS 8. It hasn't been updated since about iOS 6. It likes to open, crash once, then work.

I sent an email to the company asking if they were planning an update. The fellow immediately forwarded it to the person in charge. Everything went silent since then. I sent a follow up email two weeks later that was never acknowledged at all.

I've searched for a cork board app that would do the same things this app does and there is no such thing. Therefore; does anyone know how difficult it is to create an app and get it on the Apple Store? The research I've done usually says to hire someone to make it for you. I'm not opposed to that idea if it seemed profitable, but how do you find these people and what might it cost? It seems like many people are creating apps these days, so why not me?

I know someone out there in blog land has some of these answers. Let me hear from you.


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Baby steps are still progress

We went to Jurassic World last night. I really enjoyed it, but more as a memory lane experience. There was an awful lot of stuff I've seen before. These include a thin layer of plexiglass between some children and a pair of hungry jaws, flares & Tyranosaurus Rex, surrounded by velociraptors when something worse shows up. There was even some creative driving right out of Indiana Jones' playbook, that scene included several rear view mirror shots that mirrored Jurassic Park. For a long time I feared they were going to use an exploding compressed air tank, right out of Jaws, to solve the big problem. They resisted. It was a great film, but with 20 years to work on it, it could have been more creative.

We had the grandkids last night after the movie. My daughter-in-law entered some kind of Spartan thingie that involves mud, sweat, and entirely too much work. We took the kids to the flag football game. Our grandson pulled four flags today, one of which turned out to be an actual tackle. He even completed two touchdown passes. Before you get too excited, he passed the ball about five feet and the other kid ran to the end zone. They're five and six year olds. I think that's wonderful for that age.

Grandma took them to town when she went. That gave me some quality time with my iPad. I worked through two chapters of an old story. I decided not to do a complete rewrite of this one, but I'm going to fix a few easy things.

I also added about five index cards to my various outlines. I need to put a bigger effort into one of them, but all of them need a bit more plot. That's what happens when the Muse sends me characters and scenes first.

In a way, I completed a couple of extremely short passes myself today. It isn't much, but it is forward progress. I'll finish my clean up project, one chapte at a time. I'll finish my outlines, one index card at a time too.

Eventually, I need to start the editing passes on The Playground. I'm in no rush and intend to enjoy some things this summer. If I don't start a new novel until winter, that's fine by me.

Tonight, I'm going to check out something new on BBC called Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Is anyone else going to check this one out?


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Great day in the woods!

We started our day at 9:00 AM. Mushrooms don't sneak away and hide at sunup. We took a lot of people, and it's nice to get a slightly later start. It's a long drive to my normal spots, and with family, you stop more often. It's all good, I'm more into the experience than the score these days. I've had many a fish-less day along the Snake River, and never regretted one of them.

My first spot is kind of hit and miss. For the last few years it's been miss, and this was no exception. It's right alongside a turnout on the highway. Competition usually beats me to these.

It was lunchtime, but nobody wanted to stop for lunch. We went to my second spot. It was loaded with fresh morels and we gathered a good haul. My guess about the early weather patterns was right. We decided to brave Landmark Summit. This is just under 7000ft in elevation. Most years it doesn't open until the Fourth of July. It was dry as a bone today. One year, my brother and I went up there in late May and found eight feet of snow. Not this year.

My wife and I have a new spot out in the middle of nowhere on the other side of the summit. This year it turned out to be the mother lode. We all spent part of our time pointing at morels just so the grandkids could pick them. This usually means more dirt for Grandpa to clean off, but it was worth it. My grandson started his day complaining that there was no WIFI. By the end of the day, he was a regular pioneer.

Grandpa caught a tiny little frog, and everyone insisted I show the kids. I made them swear they wouldn't hurt it. They decided to fight over it, and parental interference prevented frogacide. Tiny froggy hopped away with a good story to tell.

We found quite a few snow morels today. One of them was the size and shape of a human brain. I left my phone in the car, because it tends to fall out with all that bending. I wish I had a photo for you, because it was cool. Snow morels are considered inedible at best, and poisonous at worst. They actually look nothing like an actual morel.

The weather was beautiful, sunny and not too hot yet. I think I felt two raindrops all day. My back and knees are going to make me suffer tomorrow. At one point, I got down on all fours and picked twelve plump morels without moving an inch. Still, it was a lot of bending down, squatting, and crawling over deadfall. At least oyster mushrooms have the courtesy to grow on tree trunks. Not these morels. The little buggers are right down in the dirt.

Far enough away that they stay anonymous

Our picnic wound up being an event. My son made some baked beans from scratch, and we threw in a skillet to warm them up. My wife made her grilled potato salad, and we grilled hotdogs and chorizos on site.

The little kids ran around like wild animals while we cooked, and while we cleaned up. Something tells me they'll sleep well tonight.

One of two huge bags of morels

The only downside was on the way home. I was following another vehicle, my son was following me, and my daughter and her friend brought up the rear. We drove past a county sheriff, and he pulled the girls over. He told them they were speeding, but we were all in a row driving the same speed. I have a theory his probable cause amounted to two girls driving while cute. He never ticketed them.

That and the wood tick I pulled off my shirt. I've already paid my dues to them. I spent a couple days in the hospital and drank a couple of bottle of IV fluids back in the 1980s. I think I've served my sentence with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. At least he wasn't burrowed in when I found him.

I started putting this post together at 10:00 PM. I allowed myself one hour for Game of Thrones. We put everything away, but still have a skillet to wash. I spent two hours cleaning mushrooms and putting them away. That doesn't count the batch my daughter–in-law took home. One bowl I set aside and didn't freeze. Grandpa is having an omelet tomorrow morning with a touch of Swiss cheese and fresh morels.

I hope all of you had a great day too.


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