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Archive for March, 2008

Addams Family Personality Quiz
My Result: Morticia
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You are the bewitching Morticia Addams! You are the subtle, steadfast presence that holds your family together. To the people around you, you are captivating and elegant. Always one step ahead of the world, you are an enigma to most of us. You find your greatest happiness in gently guiding the ones you love–preferable from high atop a pedestal. You quote: “Later, Gomez.”

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Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!


You Are Jan Brady


Brainy and a little introverted, you tend to think life is a lot worse than it actually is.

And while you may think you’re a little goofy looking, most people consider you to be a major babe.

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Friday’s Feast

Appetizer

What does the color dark green make you think of?  A wooded grove deep in the forest, where the light just barely trickles through and the leaves are dappled shades of green.

Soup

How many cousins do you have?  I have 13 cousins, if I’m counting right. I rarely, if ever, see them, though.

Salad

On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being highest, how honest are you?  Ooh–interesting question. I think I’m about a 7, maybe. (But do I get bonus honesty points for admitting that I’m only about a 7? Would that bump it up to 8?)

Main Course

Name something that is truly free.  Love. Unconditional love.

Dessert

Using the letters in the word SPRING, write a sentence.  Sixty peacocks raced in naked glory.

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I was just browsing blogs (what would that be called? blowsing? brogging?) and found OldGuy’s tip on how to avoid ruining the covers of books you read while soaking in the tub. Packing tape.

I like to read while I’m taking a nice soak. We have a lovely big bathtub, just perfect for lolling in scented bubbles and reading. But in my time I’ve dropped a book or two in the tub, so I learned to only read cheap paperbacks while I’m in the bathroom, the kind I paid 50 cents for from the clearance shelf at Half-Price Books, the kind I won’t get too uptight about should I happen to drop it. (actually, that’s not strictly true; lately I’ve been reading my paperback reprints of the John Bellairs books, and I’d be a little annoyed if any of them got ruined). And, as OldGuy points out, the covers can swell up and get a little mucky, even if you don’t drop the book. He suggests covering the books with packing tape.  Obviously it wouldn’t help with the whole dropping the book thing, unless you covered the whole book with packing tape, in which case you wouldn’t be able to read it.

I’ll let you know how it works. 

And speaking of John Bellairs, his books are frequently challenged by people who make it their business to decide what others should read. The one I just recently finished rereading is The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder, a Bellairs book finished by Brad Strickland. It features Lewis Barnavelt and his uncle Jonathan on holiday in England. It’s a very fast read, and a pleasant way to thumb one’s nose at would-be censors. Go ahead, she says encouragingly, you’ll be glad you did. They’re all deliciously spooky–scared the stink out of me when I was a kid, and even now they can creep me out just a titch. 

In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the Bellairs series and the books in those series. A lot of them are easily available at Half-Price Books and probably eBay for not too much money.

LEWIS BARNAVELT:

  • The House With a Clock in its Walls – frequently challenged/banned due to necromancy.
  • The Figure in the Shadows
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
  • The Ghost in the Mirror – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Vengeance of the Witch-finder – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Doom of the Haunted Opera – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Specter from the Magician’s Museum – by Strickland
  • The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge – by Strickland. I haven’t found this one yet (makes a mental note to check library/eBay)
  • The Tower at the End of the World – by Strickland
  • The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost – by Strickland (another one I haven’t found yet)
  • The House Where Nobody Lived – by Strickland (and ditto)

ANTHONY MONDAY

  • The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn
  • The Dark Secret of Weatherend
  • The Lamp From the Warlock’s Tomb
  • The Mansion in the Mist

JOHNNY DIXON

  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine
  • The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt
  • The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull
  • The Revenge of the Wiard’s Ghost
  • The Eyes of the Killer Robot
  • The Trolley to Yesterday
  • The Chessmen of Doom
  • The Secret of the Underground Room
  • The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Hand of the Necromancer – by Strickland
  • The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder – by Strickland
  • The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost – by Strickland

The ones completed by or entirely by Brad Strickland are, in my opinion, as good as those written by Bellairs.

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Gettin’ Better Every Day

Yes, Destructo-dog seems to be starting to understand that he has a home and regular food. I like to give each dog a treat before I leave for work. This morning I gave Molly her treat first, and Scout didn’t try to steal it from her. He waited, not so patiently, for me to give one to him, but at least he knew he was getting one.  And last night, for about 10-15 minutes, both of them were sleeping at the foot of my bed while I was watching television.

I picked up a dog gate after I got off yesterday, and it works beautifully. It’s very easy to use, and Scout cannot jump over it nor find a way through or past it. That is a huge relief. The down-side? He cried what seemed like all night. I’d swear I hadn’t slept a wink except for the fact that I dreamed. I got up at 5 to go to the bathroom, and went ahead and opened the gate. Molly got in bed for a moment so we could snuggle, and then she crawled under the bed. Scout? Well, he’s like the ball in a pinball machine. Boing-boing-boing-boing-boing from one place to another. He finally settled down to sleep about 5 minutes before I had to get up.

But improvement is good, no matter how slow, and I’m glad.

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Rumble Grumble Frackin’ Dog

Scout’s true name should be Tenacious D, as in Tenacious Dog. Or Snoop Dogg, because he’s into everything. I tried putting up the boards to block off the hall when I went to bed last night. Didn’t matter how I put them up, he found a way to create a space big enough for him to slink through so that he could merrily race down the hall and jump on my head. I was most annoyed, as I’d just gone to sleep. So I gave up and tried for a while to just sleep. But he was into everything!! Then I put him into the crate. The crate is Molly’s old one, and it’s rather too big for him, so Joe before he left put a box in the crate to make it a little smaller. After he’s safely secured in the crate, I go back to bed. He’s quiet, and I’m happy. Yay, I thought, I’ll get to go to sleep and he’s probably going to go to sleep too.

Bzzzt! Wrong! He started crying. He started scratching and crying. He started howling. I lay there with a pillow over my ears. It didn’t block the sound. I was cruel and heartless and left him in the crate because I had to at least try to get some sleep. I felt like the most rotten person ever. When I woke up this morning I let him out and let him outside to do his business, and then we went back in. I lay down for 15 more minutes, during which he jumped on my head asking me to please love him and rub his belly and scratch his ears and let him kiss me. As I was doing so, I noticed the unmistakeable aroma of ramen noodles. I peeked inside his crate. The box Joe put in there to make the crate less roomy was full of packages of ramen noodles. !!!!!  I’m going to have a hellacious mess to clean up when I get home from work today. No wonder the stinker was so thirsty that he drank a whole bowl of water before I left for work.

I’m really sleepy today. And that is not a non-sequiter.

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Nightmares & Reality

I had CPS dreams last night. It’s been a while, and I didn’t enjoy them one little bit. They were triggered by an e-mail I received from a friend, asking advice on behalf of some friends who were being investigated by CPS.  You know, when I first started the job there, I loved it. I loved the feeling of getting up every morning knowing that I was making a difference, making it safer for kids to grow up. But as time went by and I had to deal with burned-out supervisors (after having had excellent ones, so seeing well the contrast), spiteful former spouses who called in false reports just to make trouble for the ex (never realizing or else not caring how it affected the children), a horribly broken system, I got to where I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t do the hours (60+-hour weeks) or the caseload. I couldn’t deal with getting a bonus because of our heavy caseloads, only to be told that since investigators were getting a bonus, we were also going to be on call more often. I couldn’t deal with the parents who cared less about their children than about their addictions. I couldn’t deal with the kids who were so damaged that they could hardly function–suicidal pre-teens, children who were perping on other children because that’s the only way they knew life works–but who the legal department said we couldn’t remove, and the family services department said we couldn’t provide services because they’d already had plenty of services and nothing had changed. All I could do was go in, say yes, there is child abuse, and walk back out again. I didn’t do that, of course; I tried desperately to find some remedy, some help for these children. But in the end I could do nothing.

And now here I am sitting behind a desk, doing something I swore–when I left UTA–that I’d never do again. I’m an admin assistant. I pull credit bureau reports. I prepare reports. I do an occasional PowerPoint presentation. It’s tiring, soul-suckingly boring, and I think that there’s no way I make a difference doing this. I’m not making anyone’s life any better for my being at my job every day. Then I realize that’s not true–I have some friends that I’ve gotten to know through work, and I like to think that having me in their lives does as much for them as it does for me. I still don’t want to stay here forever, which is why I’m writing away on the book the incomparable Izzybella and I are working on together.

Now let’s leave the nightmares and move on to reality. Joe left town yesterday morning, so it’s my first solo time with both dogs. They were good when I got home yesterday afternoon. They seem to be getting along better, although perhaps that has something to do with our blocking off the entrance to the hallway so they have to stay together in the living room. But oh! last night! It was around 2:30 when I was awakened by the pitter-patter of four little paws scampering down the hall just before I was dive-bombed by a 20-pound pooch. Obviously Scout had found a way through the barricade to the hall. I tried letting him stay with me, but he was up and down and up and down and up and down, so I finally gave up and ushered him back into the living room and fixed the barricade. I hadn’t been back in bed more than 10 minutes before he was running down the hall again. After two more efforts to get him to stay in the living room, I finally gave up, and he finally fell asleep. That was 4:00. The little stinker! He gets to sleep all day while I’m here at work trying to stay awake. And then I’m going to go home and we’ll probably have a repeat performance.  I need a nice high pet-gate, one he can’t jump over. 

And for those of you who’ve asked, whether in comments or e-mails, his former name was Cole. I have nothing against that name, it’s just not him. I attach a lot of significance to names, even for characters I create. It’s not unusual for me to spend days trying to find just the right name for even a minor character in a book. This little boy is a Scout. And he is, as I mentioned yesterday, starting to answer to Scout. Like last night at 3:30 when I was sick to death of his running back and forth between the living room and bedroom. I called, “Scout! Come!” and he came and jumped in bed. He’s learning “No” and “Down.” Spraying a little water in his face when he ignores orders is really helping get the message through. I only had to do it once yesterday; otherwise, just seeing the bottle reminded him.

He is still trying to steal food right out of Molly’s mouth, but she’s not letting him get away with it. And she’s actually back to sitting on the sofa instead of hiding under the table feeling sorry for herself. While it may be too much to hope for, I am nonetheless hoping that they manage to become friendly. He seems to adore her. When they go out in the back yard, she usually pees first, and then he goes along and pees right next to where she did. And then he moves a foot or so away and kicks dirt over where he thinks he just peed (he’s always off, but the effort is appreciated.)

I promise this blog will become less Scoutcentric shortly. We’re still in the big adjustment phase. But he’s a sweetie boy, and Molly’s a cutie girl, and we’re all doing just fine.

Oh, and Mom, he doesn’t sleep on my feet yet. As you have probably gathered, I’m lucky if he sleeps by my side. Or at all. But one never knows how things will unfold.

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