Tag Archives: vacation

Secrets, colds, date night, and new words

I took vacation from Wednesday through Monday. This time, I didn’t tell anyone, including my wife. This is because the last time I tried to get some writing time it got pirated away. I lose the vacation hours either way, and my employer doesn’t qualify whether I was content or not.

While everyone was reading my group post about hosts willing to promote our work, I was working on new fiction.

Old What’s Her Face was off Friday, and we both woke up with colds. No idea what that was about, but we were phlegmy and both had headaches. She got over it before I did, but by mid-afternoon we both felt fine. Fine enough to go to Old Chicago for pizza and craft beer.

I slung quite a few words today, but didn’t keep score. My tale moved from a transition scene into an action scene, and those move quite a bit faster.

I’d have to consider this vacation a success already. Tomorrow I dedicate some of my morning to calling my parents, so I don’t expect much else to happen. My story is at a point where I have to think about it, and hopefully the Muse will show up for me.

I’m also off Monday, but so is my wife. This isn’t necessarily a deal killer for new fiction, but it’s usually much less than when I’m alone.

If I were to wish for anything, it would have been a couple of guests for Lisa Burton Radio. I didn’t get any takers, and don’t quite understand why. I’ll probably do a promo again, but the risk is to get over a hundred at once like the last time. (At one per week, that’s two years of applicants to get through.)

I could have done without the cold, but it’s been a pretty good vacation so far and I have two days left. Maybe I should look for some December wallpaper.

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When you want to scream, but shouldn’t

Ahh, writing vacation-time. It sounds lovely. It has such promise to it. Time to sling words at my iPad and build something wonderful.

It didn’t work out like that, and I regret using my vacation time for this. Here’s how it came out. A writing day, for me, is never a day. It’s a matter of hours, usually in the morning. When my wife is at work, I get quality time to chip away at my projects. She’s doesn’t work dawn to dusk, however. Her shift at the hospital usually puts her home around noon. You can see how a day get’s trimmed down to six hours or so, at best.

Wednesday was my flex day. I would have gotten it off regardless of vacation time. My wife got off at 8:00 that morning. I managed 1700 new words before my house got noisy, and bulldogs went berserk over playtime, etc.

Last weekend, we got the camper winterized. The man’s first move was to look at our roof and tell us we needed to have the entire roof recaulked, and quoted us a price of $900. (Dennis Dillon RV, in case you’re keeping score.) I’ve been around a scam or two in my day, and did not bite.

When a service costs more than my house payment, I tend to dig a bit deeper. It turns out my brother had his done in Elko, Nevada, for $175. He did this, because he didn’t have time, but said it was fairly easy to do.

My first idea was to tow the sucker several hundred miles and get it done there. Elko is a ridiculously expensive place to have anything done, but at least it’s cheaper than this clown wanted.

It turns out, my brother had all the time in the world right now, so he wanted to come up and look at my camper. We made arrangements for him to come up Thursday.

My wife was off Thursday, and it wasn’t a writing day anyway. Good deal, right?

He never got here until late afternoon. We looked at the roof, and he said the skylights and vents needed to be caulked, but the rest of it was fine. However, moving into Mountain Standard Time, we were out of daylight. We dragged the camper home, and waited until morning.

Frost killed some of the momentum, because this requires a dry environment to work properly. We went to the store and bought four tubes of caulk, just in case. Turns out these weren’t cheap, and I was into it about sixty bucks.

By mid-day, we were able to remove the old sealant, and do the caulking. We weren’t cheap about laying down the beads either; however, we only used one tube of caulk.

My wife had to work Friday, but my writing day was lost. Don’t get me wrong, visiting with my brother, and just hanging out with him was wonderful. I never regret spending time with family.

After we finished, we returned the unused caulk for a refund. In other words, I spent fifteen dollars to do what Dennis Dillon RV wanted to charge me $900 for. Oh, there was pizza, beer, and other expense involved, but you get my point.

Today, he didn’t hit the road until about 10:30. We did some more visiting over coffee this time. I really enjoyed our time together… but the writing time today is a total bust too. My wife will be here soon, and that’s all she wrote.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the day I call my parents. This destroys Sunday mornings as writing time. My wife has to work again, but it is what it is.

We’re both off Monday, for Veteran’s Day. This means no quality time for writing purposes. Six glorious days turned into a few hours Wednesday morning.

My writer’s soul wants to tear shit up and burn it to the ground. I wish I’d never wasted my vacation time on this crap. We could have visited and fiddled with the camper on the normal days I get off and it would have worked out the same.

There is always something to do at the office, and I wish I’d have just went to work. When I return on Tuesday, I’ll be behind again, but didn’t get to do what I wanted with my vacation time.

This kind of thing frequently happens to me. Life tends to throw these curveballs my way more often than not. I’ve actually gotten about four hours of writing time in the last month, and they were all last Wednesday.

This is an author’s blog, and I try to give it to you warts and all. Sometimes I’ve been know to write 10,000 new words in one day. Sometimes I get 1700 in a month. We have real lives too, and life tends to get in the way.

I’ve learned to be grateful for other things over time. I got to visit with my brother, which rarely happens. I saved $885 that I don’t have too. This week, I got what I needed. This song has become the theme of my life. Maybe you can relate to it.

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Planning and scheming

This is my flex day. I mentioned before that I work ten hour days, and get a rotating day off each week. We get the occasional three day weekend out of the deal, and this is one of mine. It also allows for a bit of manipulation if you watch the calendar. That’s what I’ve done for November.

My next flex day is Wednesday the 7th. I took vacation on the 8th and 9th. This means I’m off from the 7th through the 12th, because the 12th is a holiday. Burn 20 hours of vacation and get six days off. Not a bad deal.

This weekend is going to be all about clearing the decks. We’re taking the camper to have it winterized this afternoon. Since we got paid, we’ll probably work in date night. I can still get my Halloween tee shirt at Old Chicago if we hurry, and that’s likely where we’ll end up. Probably time to coil up the hoses and drain the water heater to keep ahead of the silt. I might even get a haircut, just to get it out of the way.

I’ll have time to work on some Lisa Burton Radio slots if anyone is interested. The recent ones have produced really well. Some of that has to do with the book being presented, but also the involvement of the author. The last few authors have shared everywhere, and are still sharing everywhere. I see the click throughs to Amazon too. Lisa could use another few guests right now.

I’ll probably keep polishing up Lanternfish this weekend.

During my vacation I want to hit it hard. There is a new story I started, and my work life just didn’t allow me time to do much with it. If I clear the decks this weekend, my vacation time is wide open to make some real progress.

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Check out Lazy Days

Anita and Jaye are two super supportive authors and bloggers. They’re here to present their new book, Lazy Days.

Blurb:

This novella is the true story of our family’s first proper holiday back in the Seventies. Looking back, I wonder what made us think it was a good idea, but despite all the things that could have gone wrong, we had a fantastic time. I was the Skipper most of the time, and for some reason decided to record our adventures in a small notebook. We were young and without husbands, Anita was a widow, and I was glad to be rid of mine. (and that is another story) Money was precious and scarce back then, but all the saving and sacrifice turned out to be worth every single memory we all cherish.

This notebook has been treasured and kept safe, despite numerous house moves and family disasters, as a symbol of our courage and determination. Renting a boat on the Norfolk Broads could so easily have been one of the stupidest things we had ever done, but even after 40 years, we have such good memories of that time.

Over the years, we often thought of making it into a proper book, but along with everything else in our often-complicated family life, it was something we never got around to. Until just recently, when we were looking for some old photographs, found the now fragile notebook and knew it was time.

It wasn’t as easy as we imagined it would be either, for our logbook writing skills leave a lot to be desired, but there was just enough information entered on those pages to get us started.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Saturday

We had waited a long time for this day to arrive, and now the time had arrived, we could have flown to the Norfolk Broads powered by our excitement. The tension coming from all of us made the air crackle with electricity as we prepared to leave. Going anywhere with the kids is never easy, but we had planned this holiday with far more skill than our usual days out, and researched everything of interest and planned our route to ensure plenty of happy days. For the first time in our lives, we would be miles from home on a boat for two weeks. There would be six of us on this holiday, two women, four kids and two small dogs. There was the possibility of enough trouble there to last us a lifetime!

I wasn’t expecting much trouble from the teenage girls, Anita Jr and Heidi; but the two younger boys, Stephen, ten and Darren, eight would be a challenge, for they have the knack of finding trouble anywhere.  Added to the mix were our two small dogs.  Lady, a cross between a Pekinese and a Yorkie, blessed with sharp teeth and a ferocious dislike of strangers, and Katy, an adorable chocolate coloured toy poodle pup.

Getting them all in our car proved a bit tricky. A big Ford Granada, normally a comfortable fit for all of us, but this time we had Heidi, our younger step-sister to fit in too. She had been staying with us while her mother was in the hospital.

I sensed an air of resentment as the kids tried hard to fit themselves into the back seat. Various elbows were used to show disapproval, prompting a chorus of complaints. For a moment, it looked as if we wouldn’t be going anywhere. The situation looked hopeless. Anita finished packing our luggage into the boot of the car and appeared at my side.

‘Is there a problem here? Do we want to go on this holiday or not?’

No one spoke, but as I watched, a subtle relaxing of tightly packed bodies occurred as they all thought about it. They knew their mother well. She would cancel everything if they didn’t accept their fate and settle down, and if the holiday was cancelled because of them, they would never hear the end of it.

I am always amazed by the way Anita handles her brood. It must come with practice, although I doubted I would ever learn how to do it! You probably need to be a parent first.

Looking at them, resignation on all their faces, I prayed the boat would be bigger than it looked in the brochure. I also prayed I would get us all the way to Norfolk without incident. I hadn’t been driving long, and my nerves were already stretched to breaking point.

We had been up since before dawn and ready to leave by 7.15. As we drove through the dark and empty streets of London, everyone is unusually silent.  Probably wondering, like me, if this could be the biggest mistake of our lives. After several wrong turns and a massive frustration overload that nearly has me screaming, I finally find the A12, the road that will take us all the way up the south-east coast to Norfolk.

The sun had come up, so at least the weather looks like being a lovely day. The dogs are asleep, snuggled around Anita’s feet on a blanket. There is no fighting on the back seat, and I wonder if they feel as scared as I did. The plan is to go as far as we can before making any pit stops for refreshments and/or toilet breaks, so we pass swiftly through Chelmsford and Colchester without stopping. The traffic begins to build up as we approach Ipswich, so we decide to stop for a well-deserved break.

We pass several roadside cafes, but most of them looked small and unappealing but when we spot a Little Chef, we decide to take a chance. Several bladders were screaming, including mine, so we have to stop somewhere. Anita walks the dogs to a patch of grass in the car park, while I escort everyone else to the nearest toilets.

The Little Chef is very American and modern. I have a quick look at the menu, hoping there will be enough suitable food for our fussy lot. They have a selection of burgers, chips, pasta and sandwiches, both toasted and ordinary, so there should be something there for everyone. It would be cheaper to take away, but the thought of everyone trying to eat in the car didn’t bear thinking about, so I don’t mention it.

From the moment we walk into the restaurant, I sense everyone staring at us. They probably expect trouble, or at least, noise. This is always possible, of course, but today I hope not.

Anita Jr and Heidi settle for toasted sandwiches, but the boys insist on chips. I want a decent cup of coffee, which I knew was unlikely. These places call it coffee, but this is usually where the similarity ends. It is hardly ever drinkable. Anita returns from walking the dogs and with a quick glance, appraised my parenting skills. ‘What are we supposed to be having then, Jaye?’

‘I wasn’t sure what you would like, but I was thinking of toast and coffee. What about you?’ I resented the implication I should have already ordered for her. As if I would presume, or even guess what to get.

She nods, so I leave the table to order the toast and while I wait, I watch them from a distance, amazed to see them talking normally to their mother and each other. I had yet to reach that level of acceptance, still regarded as a bit of a visitor by the kids. I hoped this holiday would go some way to making me feel more at home.

Back at the car, the elbowing starts again until they notice their mother watching. It’s amazing how fast kids can behave when they want to! I could tell by their faces that they think this holiday is a big mistake. But we are committed now, halfway there, whether we like it or not!

Six hours and 130 miles after leaving London, we arrive at the boatyard at Oulton Broad. To say we were all glad to get out of the car would be an understatement. The tension hadn’t eased at all and the muscles in my neck felt like rocks. Anita pats me on the back, probably for a job well done and I knew we could both do with several cups of decent coffee if we were ever to feel normal again. Our boat isn’t ready for us, adding to our growing sense of doom, so we pile back into the car to go shopping for a few essentials.

Back at the boat yard, I have trouble reversing the car into the tight parking spot. The wheels skidding on the gravel slope, unable to get a grip is a terrifying sound. For one horrible moment, I could see us in the water, car and all. I wonder if this could be an omen of what might happen to us on this holiday.

There were boats of varying sizes in the boatyard. Some of them were small, and I was getting nervous. What if our boat turned out to be the size of a sardine tin?

We needn’t have worried. Our cruiser was a huge boat, more like a floating dock. Called ‘Sovereign’ and supposed to sleep, 6/7 people.  That remains to be seen, I thought.  The boat is painted a pretty blue and white, with a large cabin area up front with a sliding canopy. This can be closed at night, creating the bigger of the bedrooms. We didn’t understand how at first, but after some investigation, we discover a double bed neatly hidden in the wall. What with all the seating for everyone, we were beginning to relax a little. There were two further bedrooms, sorry, cabins! A chemical toilet and shower room, and a long narrow galley kitchen. How I could cook anything on the tiny cooker was anyone’s guess, so sandwiches and salad might have to be the order of the day.

We finally manage to unpack our clothes and try to get organised, but the storage on the boat is so compact, it’s a bit like squeezing a gallon into a pint pot. This boat might be big but it’s still a floating dolls house!  There is no room for the empty suitcases, so they go back to the car. Before we could cast off, the owner of the boatyard arrives to show us how to steer the boat and maintain the engine. The engine is huge, so much bigger than a car engine; looking as if it came from a boat the size of the Queen Mary! I have the mandatory driving lesson and didn’t disgrace myself too much, but the thought of being in charge of such a powerful craft was beginning to intimidate me. We would be alone, in the middle of nowhere. Masters of our own fate – were we ready for this?

We all agree the chemical toilet will take some getting used to. When you flush it, the pump squirts water everywhere and the kids tell me the chemicals smell awful. I can’t tell if this is true as I am getting over a cold and can’t smell anything. The toilet cubicle doubles as a shower room, so everything will get soaked in the process.

When we open the canopy/roof of the main cabin area, we immediately realise that the dogs will have to spend the holiday on their leads. Understandably, they are not happy about this, and neither are we, but there is nothing to stop them jumping over the side to get to the ducks!

I didn’t think being on their leads would work well either, as Katy leapt at a passing duck and ended up dangling over the edge of the boat, almost strangling herself which kind of proved the point. After being rescued, she tried to throw herself in again. My heart sank, thinking we had made a big mistake in bringing the dogs on this holiday. At this rate someone would have to spend the holiday dog watching, just to ensure we could take them home again. We couldn’t risk letting them off the lead either, as that would probably be the last time we saw either of them.

After a few frustrating minutes, Anita solves the problem by tying their leads further away from the edge of the boat. They could still see everything, but couldn’t jump over the edge!

We cast off from Oulton Broad and make for a place called Geldeston. We need a short trip to get the feel of things and get us out of the boatyard. I keep the speed down while I search for some confidence, but I found the Sovereign hard to control, even at a slow speed. No matter how hard I try to relax, it still feels like being the biggest mistake of my life.

It is beautiful here on the water, the scenery is amazing with loads of ducks and swans, and several horses grazing by the water. The sense of peace and freedom is mind-blowing. There are no houses on this stretch of the river and no noise, apart from the ducks. When we get in their way, they get annoyed and complain something fierce. Despite all my misgivings, I start to relax and enjoy steering the Sovereign. I am beginning to think it would impossible not to relax here in Norfolk.

The sun is beginning to set as we moor up for the night, a huge red ball shining on the water, painting everything with a rosy pink glow. Anita washes the decks, something we are supposed to do every day, and then we go for a walk. To discover we are on the wrong side of the river for the chip shop. Being on water and not a road will take some getting used to. Darren falls over a mooring rope, literally five minutes after being warned about them, so no change there.

In the absence of chips, we go back to the boat for beans on toast. The television is the size of a postage stamp, but the picture is good. While we eat supper, I study my family and can tell we will all sleep well tonight, as everyone looks exhausted. As adventures go, I think this one has the makings of being a good one. Lady looks ancient, straining to stay awake, her little head nodding. Katy, the younger dog, wouldn’t be far behind.

Bedtime is a riot, as the kids discover it’s not a bit like being at home. The girls carry on like a pair of nuns when they discover the sheets and blankets are not to their liking. Funny how fussy they can be when normally such slobs at home. Anita takes charge of the situation, and within minutes everyone is comfortably sorted out.

It seemed like only five minutes later, all the kids are asleep and we could finally relax for the first time today. It is chilly now the sun has gone down. We are moored near a church with a clock that chimes the hours. We discovered this after putting the kitchen clock in a cupboard because we couldn’t stand the ticking. It is so quiet here.

So, we had made it through day one. All things considered, it hadn’t been bad at all, no big arguments and no major disasters. Heidi managed to be seasick for all of twenty minutes, so this was all right too.

About Jaye

I had no intention of becoming a writer. I loved to read, and for most of my life, that was enough for me. More than enough really, for I am a compulsive reader and will read anything I can lay my hands on. Give me a bookshelf full of books and I will start at one end and read my way to the other.

Then I offered to edit my sister Anita’s books. She hates computers, so I offered to type them up too. Before I knew it, my brain began to explore what other things I could be doing.

I tried to ignore that inner voice, for I was busy enough already. Anita was writing faster than I could format, and there were all my other interests too. Gardening, DIY, dressmaking and a host of craft projects. I love to be busy, but it came to the point where something had to give, never mind add something else to the list.

I considered myself a writer when I held my first paperback copy of my book Nine Lives in my hand for the first time. Up until that magic moment, I doubted I would ever feel like a writer. But holding that paperback copy finally convinced me.

My favourite character didn’t really appear until book two, The Last Life, and his name is Detective Inspector David Snow. The fact that my detective looks a lot like Tom Selleck should indicate how fond I am of him. I just love writing about him.

That was then, and I have now finished writing The Broken Life, the third book in my mystery thriller series.  The characters just turned up in my head, one by one, nagged me for weeks until I gave in, and listened. So you can never say never.

This genre came as a surprise, for I lean towards the supernatural, spooky kind of book, so I have no idea where the idea came from. If anything, I should have expected to write medical stories, as I always wanted to be a doctor, and these are some of my favourite television programmes.

My favourite fiction book just happens to be The Scarlet Ribbon, Anita’s supernatural mystery romance. I was the editor for this one and fell in love with it. And no, she didn’t have to pay me to say this!

My life has not been easy by anyone’s standards, and now I am growing old, I sometimes look back and wonder how I managed to get through it all. So, the perfect epitaph for me would be… “She did her best…” Even though I made a pigs ear out of most of it!

About Anita

Hi, my name is Anita and although I am 71, I am by no means a ‘silver surfer’. I have been writing fiction novels for a while now, but never managed to be picked up by any of the mainstream publishers. They all said they loved what I wrote, but found it hard to slot them into a category!  It came tantalisingly close, but no cigar, as they say.

I realised I would have to try something else. I saved all of the rejection letters, because most of them had very encouraging comments. If my mother had slapped me as gently when I was a child, it wouldn’t have hurt half as much!

I even wrote to James Herbert once in desperation and he was so kind and supportive, it gave me the inspiration to continue writing.

Now I am retired and with the help of my sister-in-law Jaye, (who has learnt to be a ‘surfer’) we decided to dust off some of my manuscripts and try to achieve the impossible with a second chance to find out if anyone out there likes the kind of books I write…

How do I write?

I am a paper and pencil girl. You could chain me to a computer for years and nothing would happen! Jaye, on the other hand is managing to cope with all the editing and marketing, but then she has far more patience than I do.  (And she is as stubborn as a mule which helps a lot!)

They say you are never too old to learn, but in my case never is another word for infinity!

What made me want to write?

I love music, especially country music. It always seems to take me to where my own hurt lives. Songs about heartache help my pen run along the paper, almost as though the pain writes the words.

How do I find my characters?

They tend to find me. I was listening to ‘Ruby, don’t take your love to town’ sung by Kenny Rogers and a few days later the characters for Bad Moon popped into my head and just took over. I seem to have an affinity with West Virginia and the people who live there. Just hearing the way they talk makes a connection in my head, maybe I lived there once in another life.

It was the same with The Scarlet Ribbon. The words of that song put the characters in my head and they pulled me in.

Not so sure where the idea for Simple came from, even though it is a similar story to Bad Moon, but there was a girl at school when I was eleven who had a bad stammer, and I often wonder what became of her.

The books I like to read…

I love the stories of Merlin and Arthur, but my reading list covers a wide range of genres. One of my all-time favourites is ‘River God’ by Wilbur Smith, the character of Taita really spoke to me.

***

Pick up your copy of Lazy Days right here, link.

You can catch up with Anita and Jaye at the following locations:

Website:     http://jenanita01.com

Twitter:      https://twitter.com/jaydawes2/media

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/anita.dawes.37

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8638857.Jaye_Marie

Anita’s Author Page/Amazon Link :    https://Author.to/AnitaLink

Jaye’s Author Page/Amazon Link:       https://Author.to/JayeLink

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Updating from Big Sky

I’m at the convention for my paycheck job. Lot’s of chatting and politicking going on this week. Enough about work. Tonight includes an event I always skip, and I have an evening to myself.

Big Sky is a ski resort area, and it’s not terribly far from Yellowstone. I intended to grab some pictures for this update, but today was the day a huge thunderstorm decided to strike. This resort has multiple hotels, and the business events are spread all over the place. I got soaked a couple of times walking from venue to venue. A couple of the people I’m with wanted to ride the chair lifts to the top of the mountain, but they got closed due to lightning.

I have some interior shots I can share. My room is really nice, even though it has a Murphy bed. The bed is comfortable, so it’s no big deal really.

Looking the other direction, I even get a mini kitchen. Too bad I don’t have any food to prepare.

No really, it’s too bad I don’t have food. A simple breakfast here is eighteen dollars, and my hamburger lunch came to twenty-five with a drink. It’s pretty typical resort pricing, unfortunately. I get a meal per deum, and it doesn’t even begin to cover the actual cost.
I waited out the worst part of the thunderstorm in the tiny lobby. It looks cool though, and I snapped a shot or two for you.

I really like the carved base of that couch. My iPad Pro would work very well on this antique desk too. I don’t think my rear end would get along with that chair for long though. If this desk were in my room, instead of the lobby, I would try writing at least a micro-fiction piece just for the ambiance.
There is a cowhide on the wall of my room. I know this would look awesome on the new grey flooring we just installed at home. I’m pretty sure Old What’s Her Face would never go for it, but I like it. I’m also sure Otto and Frankie would find it tasty in some way. (Leather = rawhide toy.)


I’m trying to keep up with all my various social media. I caught Facebook a couple of times, but Twitter is off the radar while I’m here. I just don’t have enough time for all of that. I am a guest at the Storyreading Ape’s site today, and I’ve been trying to keep up with the comments over there. Drop in if you haven’t already and I’ll surf through for a couple more days. Hold down the fort while I’m away.

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Release the pressure, be calm

It's fairly well documented that I put pressure on myself, then I stress when things don't go according to plan. Today I did something about it.

I asked for vacation time all next week, and it got approved. I feel like the clouds have parted, and the pressures all disappeared. Of course, I set the stage for a good week by finishing my beta edits over the weekend. After a couple of read throughs, I can send The Enhanced League to the formatter. I'm toying with the idea of including all the Lisa Burton posters at the end. Maybe someone will like them as cool freebies.

Once I get Enhanced League to the formatter, I need to start on edits for The Yak Guy Project. I also need to write tour posts for Enhanced League. Once I have everything, I'll put out a call for hosts, and try to figure out if they want me or Lisa to visit their sites.

If I can do all that, and get Yak Guy ready for beta readers, it will have been a good vacation. I don't feel like it's a huge, unreasonable goal. I don't have to go back until July third, and then I get the fourth off.

I have my critique group in there somewhere, so I'll have to work up their pages. I sent my own submission off this evening… while enjoying a glass of Talisker.

For those who are waiting, we took Otto back to the vet this afternoon. This whole pain thing has nothing to do with pecans. It's a neurological thing, involving his spine somewhere around his tail. He is in incredible pain, and we now have even more medication to try.

What really bothers me about this is that on Friday he was the happiest dog in the world. Today he can barely walk. We can't think of anything that happened to him, beyond the pecan debacle, and the vet says it has nothing to do with that. He didn't fall, nobody was physically abusive to him, the puppies certainly didn't hurt him. We're supposed to give him his medication and stand by. We were told to keep him calm for about ten days even after he starts feeling better. I guess in baseball terms, he's on the ten day DL list.

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A travel day

I'm writing this from aisle 28 on a Boeing 757. These are wonderful planes, but the difference between two identical twins is amazing.

This morning, we got onto a brand new plane. The seats were comfy and reasonably sized. The monitor in the seatback had a USB port to charge my cell phone. Even the seatbelt was too big, if you can imagine such a thing.

Our plan was simple enough. We are using our daughter's benefits to fly on standby. The idea was to fly from NOLA to Atlanta, then on to SLC and Boise. We chose this route because it put us home earlier.

When we got to Atlanta, others decided to fly on standby as well, and we were about a dozen people beyond those who would get a seat. Our daughter came to the rescue, routed us to Seattle, and said from there it's a breeze to get home. We will get home later, but that's the joy of standby.

This gave us a bit of airport time. Time to observe the old man in the funny hat, one that looks like a cross between a newsboy and a baseball cap. I've never seen anything like it before. There are the women with big hair. I've written about them before, but in Atlanta the black girls win the day. Huge heads of hair that actually look pretty darned good. If these things are weaves or extensions, don't tell me – I don't want to know. I'm basking in the illusion.

There was the lady with her little dog on a leash, and a mom with her child on a leash. All of this is minutia, but even small observations can help me create a character.

It wasn't until we met the second 757 that I realized I'd forgotten to look at the NOLA phone book. This may not seem like an attraction to most of you, but I struggle to name my characters. I am completely convinced that the NOLA phone book is the holy grail of names now, simply because I missed it.

Oh, this second 757 is the evil twin of the first plane. Our morning flight was all clean and comfy, with wifi that actually seemed to work. This plane has hard seats, archaic monitors without USB ports, and short seat belts. I had five inches of seat belt to spare this morning. Now I need a come-along to ratchet down my stomach just to buckle the damned thing. It's so tight my right leg died about five-hundred miles ago, and my wallet feels like a lump in my throat.

This 757 has an old three-pronged electrical plug for my devices. It's down by the seat of the guy in front of me. This requires me to fold in half like a jackknife to recharge my phone. Also what device in the history of devices ever had a three-pronged plug? I'll give credit though, my little lightning bolt lit right up to indicate my phone was actually charging… right before gravity took over and my cord fell to the floor. The female connection is so loose it won't hold my cable in place without holding it where it needs to be. I'll leave it at that before I get too metaphoric and say something too graphic for kids to read.

I wasn't supposed to start reading again so soon, but what do you do on a five hour flight? I had a children's book all downloaded, but can't get it off the cloud and onto my Kindle app. You see, this 757 has wifi, and it connects fast, you just can't do anything with it after you connect. It seems custom designed to make the spinny thing go around, but nothing else. This is a friend's book, and a short enough read to help me make my RRBC reading goals without more added stress.

Buuuut, the wifi won't let me read it, so I started a craft book that I've held onto for “Someday.” I managed about half of it so far, but my eyes are tired. (And my right leg, and my bladder, and my attitude, etc.) Right now, I'm watching the monitor while a graphic of a 757 moves across the country at the speed of a glacier. I'm typing this by only peripherally glancing at my fingers. Since I can't do anything with the wifi, I'll load this post to my blog later.

Our daughter warned us to take an extra day when flying standby. This sounded like good counsel to us, and we are both off tomorrow. In fact, with my flex day, and a federal holiday, I only had to take one day of vacation time for this mini-vacation. Even I get lucky sometimes.

One hour and five minutes before we get to Seattle. Oh how I miss that first 757.

***

Update: We're home. I wound up stashing my wallet in my suitcase so I didn't have to sit on it any longer. That helped, but what really helped was our first class accommodations for the last leg of our trip. It was a Delta flight, and since our daughter is a Delta employee we were ahead of everyone else on the list. Seats one A and B. It was only an hour flight, but I appreciated it. I even got to charge my phone back up along the way.

On our last day we wound up stopping at Lafitte's, and I had a drink there. There isn't much made of the place beyond the historical registry stuff. I kind of expected more of a pirate theme to everything, or even a blacksmith's theme. I suppose hammers on the walls isn't a good idea where alcohol is served.

We walked to Cafe Du Monde and had more beignets. These are the most famous ones, but weren't our favorites. We both preferred the Royal place where we started, and I even preferred the ones at the Hotel Monteleone, because of the praline sauce.

Old What's Her Face and I have been married for twenty four years, and lived together for two years prior to that. This trip is the first time we've flown out together anywhere. I hope we don't have to wait that long to do it again.

If you spot me a hundred miles or so, I was on three coasts today. NOLA to Atlanta to Seattle before we got home.

I'm going to catch my breath, then I need to get to work. I have a couple of critique group things to work up for our meeting on the 31st. I'm out of ink too, so I wonder if I can trick my printer into spitting out a couple of pages in navy blue.

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