Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Drywalling vs. Gardening

I'm still mudding drywall over at The 123. I'm just about ready to start sanding. I'm not sure which is less fun.

The weather is cooperating, though. If you can call 50 and rainy cooperative. As long as the weather is nasty I'll be inside anyway, so might as well work on the drywall. Nice weather is too tempting; I spent all last week playing in the dirt with my new rototiller and didn't get anything done at The 123. I did, however, get a bunch of ground turned over and yard work done.

It's supposed to clear up by the end of the week, so I have to spend as much time on the inside work as I can (Gee, I sound like a kid who can't wait to get out of school, huh?).

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I went for a walk and remembered my camera.

I had some time last week when I was running errands in Marion County and I figured I'd try out a trail head I'd never been to before. I posted a few pictures here, but more are posted in this post -Daytripping on the Ralph Larue Trail, Marion County- over at the Taylor County Blog. You can find a rope swing, a trailhead/trail location information, sycamore, hemlock, Bumblebee flowers and other details over there.

The first trillium I've seen this year!

I didn't even know this railroad trestle had been converted to trail! Very cool.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Springtime and Dog Abuse

It's a shame dogs don't do things like carry in groceries, read to the kids, go over homework or fix supper.
Dogs eat, sleep, and bark occasionally to tell you that the meter reader is outside (gee, thanks).
So why is it that we keep them around?
I just recently paid someone else $60 to bathe and shave (remember I said she was bald?) my dog. Add to that the cost of food, tick treatment, heartworm pills, the yearly vaccinations, the $2/year county tax (!?) and it adds up fast. So, I've been analyzing Maisie's place in our household in an attempt to justify her continued residence and expense.
At first glance, the dog appears to be only a leech consumer and we should take her to the humane society immediately in order to save money and cleaning time and energy.
But I like her, so to put it into perspective, I created a list of ten good reasons to keep her around:

  1. Maisie is cheaper than any one of the kids and I don't hear the constant refrain 'I need a new pair of shoes' coming from the dog.
  2. She's great at fetch. (Try to get one of the kids to fetch something for you. Yeah, right.)
  3. She makes a great walking companion.
  4. She doesn't interrupt me when I talk. (For that alone she is safe from a massive inflation of the county dog tax.)
  5. She listens. Not only listens, but OBEYS! Imagine! (Most of the time. Definitely more often than the children. This could be due to her lack of brains.)
  6. She cleans spilled food off the floor.
  7. Grunt, the teenager, yells at the dog as stress relief. Yeah, I know, poor dog, but think about what would happen if the dog wasn't there: poor me.
  8. She's always happy to see me (sometimes too happy, but dog slobber is part of the package, I suppose).
  9. She does not complain.
  10. She doesn't question everything I do; she accepts me and all my idiosyncrasies without comments such as, "Mom, you're weird." (Note to kids: I'm alright with being weird; please leave me alone.)

My children have nicknames for the dog. I banned name calling amongst the children (like that worked), so they take it out on the dog. The dog doesn't seem to notice being called something that would send one of the children into a screaming hysterical fit and she loves the attention. Here are a few examples:

  • Fattie
  • The Fat
  • Fat-iator (think Gladiator -thanks to the odd humor of S & T for that one)
  • Maggot (this one gets a rise out of me; the dog is impervious)
  • Slimeball
  • Hairball
  • Lard
  • Lardy-cakes (ha!)
  • Fattie-pants
  • Fat Lard
  • Stupid
  • Idiot

Are you beginning to see the general theme here? Lack of intelligence, icky-ness, and obesity. What a great way to boost the dog's self-esteem, huh?

The name-calling has a definite lean toward the fatness theme, though Maisie is not fat (and I'm not just saying that to be nice because she really doesn't care), but she is big. Big is not big enough. Huge. Giant. Yes, really, she is. I'm used to her, so I don't really notice, but when my children bring friends over I always hear, "Holy cow! That's the biggest dog I've ever seen!" Once that's out of the way and they realize that Maisie just wants to kiss them and not eat them, things are usually okay. Most of the time. Some of the kids remain terrified.

The day I was to take her to get shaved, I warned everyone before they left for school so there would be no surprises or shocks. Well, that didn't work out so well because everyone was shocked. Of course there was the initial 'Wow, she looks weird' surprise, but the lasting shock was 'She's not fat!' With all that hair she was fluffier, but not fat. I knew she wasn't fat. I told the kids she wasn't fat. Still, it was shocking for them to realize that she wasn't fat. Probably because they had convinced themselves just by regularly calling her fat.

There's an obvious moral lesson here, but I'm running out of time, so I'll let you work that out for yourselves (are you reading this, kids?).

Anyway, the fat names haven't stopped and aren't likely to stop anytime soon. Old habits are hard to break (there's another one for ya, kids). However, 'Bald-y' and all variations have been added to the usual line-up. I'm just happy I don't have to clean up the spring shedding.

And the dog? Well, she seems perfectly happy, as usual. She hasn't noticed the new 'Bald' comments and she doen't seem to mind that she looks like one of those rubbery, stretchy, twisty toys with the big head and skinny little body and limbs. And as usual, she takes the fat comments as compliments of attention. What a lovely, oblivious, happy way to exist.

Did I mention that her tail looks like a dust mop?

And her ears look like radar dishes?

She had so much hair, I had to shorten her collar. Really.

I couldn't resist adding another view picture. If you want more, I posted a bunch of them over on the Taylor County Blog site.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Good Morning - Kettlebells and Sunrise

I've been swinging kettlebells for my regular workouts. I swing at home, so I save the time -and the gas- that it takes to get to the gym. It looks deceptively easy; I am soaked with sweat about 20 minutes into it. I like it so much I'm actually thinking about cancelling my gym membership for the summer - swing and run.

This morning I got up at 5 so I could be finished by the time I wake the kids at 6. The sky is just starting to lighten up now, but in about 45 minutes the front yard will look like this:

Or not. It's supposed to rain today and these pictures were taken right before the kids walked down to the bus -7am- on one of those perfect days last week (we've had several perfect days this past week-yay!). Today it's supposed to rain and the mist has climbed into the front yard.
The mist in the valley is beautiful. This is looking out across the front yard. Just beyond these trees, the hillside falls off the cliff. If my kids were younger it would bother me -like the little pond in the backyard. I'm still aware of it when they're out playing, but we've made two trails down into the deep cool of the rhododendron where dirt still clings to the rock face and softens the slope. You've got to slide down on your butt and pull yourself back up with the spindly roots that stick their knees up, but in the heat of summer it's worth it to go down there and hop from rock to rock. The kids aren't allowed to go down without asking -most of the time I go with them, but most of the time they don't ask. When it gets hot again, we'll probably start going down in there again. There's a high rock -though lower than the level of our yard and beneath the tree canopy- that would be perfect to set a porch swing (just without the porch).

This next view is the same, just wider. The spring leaves are just now starting to win. Barely.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Insects, Sunshine, & Baldness

  • It's apparent that I'll have to specify 'fiction' when I post it. 'Roach Motel' was mistaken by at least several people as a real report on how my day was going. Most were able to figure it out before they got too far, but one was a new reader. I hope I didn't scare her away.
  • I am thankful that roaches are not on my daily to-do list. Neither is vacuuming, although it probably should be. However, I am certain that there are other people out there, like the young woman in the flash, who are not so fortunate.
  • You'll notice that I edited the 'Roach Motel' post title to include 'Flash Fiction.' I figured it couldn't hurt.
  • Speaking of insects: they're back. It was warm enough to sit outside yesterday evening and the insects thought it was warm enough, too. I will gladly take a few gnats and mosquitoes to go along with this gorgeous weather.
  • For the second time in a week I took advantage of the warm temperatures and gentle sunshine to take a walk in a place that I don't normally go. And for the second time in a week I did not bring my camera. Be assured that I saw many beautiful things: a hillside draped in the soft comfort of Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauties, Violets, a bumblebee, two deer grazing quietly just up the hill from where I walked, and, unfortunately, plenty of Garlic Mustard -both 1st and 2nd year plants- and Japanese Knotweed already much higher than any Pokeweed I've yet to see this year.
  • My comfrey is up in the garden. It's the first robust sign I've seen from out there so far this year - myself included.
  • Yes. I have been very lazy and late with the spring gardening.
  • The strawberries survived. We will have fresh strawberries come June.
  • Maisie is bald. Yep. You read that right. My big hairy dog got shaved down to nubblies. I will take pictures. (Ha! No more shedding this spring!)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Flash Fiction - Roach Motel

I am sucking up dead roaches with an industrial vacuum cleaner. I can hear the armor of their bodies clinking against the metal tube as they disappear from the floor. Every night, in every unoccupied room, I sprinkle white powder around the scarred baseboards and the next day I come to vacuum. Usually there’s just a smattering of insects to be sucked up, but sometimes, like now, there are piles of them. It never ends; there are always more.
I flip the switch and the roaring dwindles to silence filled by the slap of tennis shoes on concrete. A flurry of skinny children scuttle past the open door. I roll up the cord, preparing to lug the bulky contraption to the next room. I step out under the awning and spy Randy’s long white Cadillac pulling into the lot. I roll the vacuum along on its little pocked wheels, kicking it along to the sound of a woman yelling and a baby crying.
This next room, seventeen, has just a smattering of dead bugs, and since the beds don’t need changed, I’m back outside and on to the next one. It’s much bigger than the other rooms that families live in, and as far as I know they don’t charge much more for it. But then, I don’t handle the money, I just suck up the bugs.

Flash Fiction

Wikipedia says, "Flash fiction is fiction characterized by its extreme brevity, as measured by its length in words...." and, "This principle, taken to the extreme, is illustrated by Ernest Hemingway's six-word flash, "For sale: baby shoes, never worn.""
Go here for the Wiki entry on flash fiction.

I like flashing. Not the trench coat kind, but the brain-storming kind. Every piece of fiction starts with a flash. Uncle Hop is a flash, Vultures (or click here if that link isn't working) started that way, and I have a forty-eleventeen-hundred other examples in my 'old writing' file boxes. A flash is like seeing a small piece of someone's life and setting it to paper. You get to look at it a little closer and see if it's something worth exploring (the hard part is sticking to it and fleshing it out, but that's another post).

During the month of February, I was inspired by Rosie over at the Smokey Mountain Breakdown. She posted a flash every day for the entire month. Pretty impressive. However, I'm not that ambitious and I'm certainly not that prolific. I'm going to shoot for once a week. Maybe turn it into something catchy like all the better bloggers do: Flash Fiction Friday or whatever. But, today's not Friday and I have something to post. Maybe next week I'll try for Friday.

This is something that I dug out of an old pile of yellowing papers. It was printed from my first computer and has moved around with us for about 10 years. I think it's a great flash to start this off with. I'll post it in a fresh and spiffy post here in just a few minutes.....

The Grafton Monster

I posted an old newspaper article -June 19, 1964- about a Monster sighting in Grafton over on the Taylor County, West Viginia blog.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Uncle Hop

I posted a flash entitled 'Uncle Hop' over at the Appalachian Writers Blog.
Here's the link: Uncle Hop

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Alligator Attack

An unexpected alligator attack occurred at the paint counter of the home improvement store today.
Thanks to the heroic efforts of this green-shirted bystander, tragedy was averted and the young lady in orange walked away with nothing but superficial injuries.
***Check out this post over at The 123 to find out what we're doing with the paint.

Friday, April 11, 2008

No Dog Potty

I'm going through some picture files; I came across this:

This was written on a fence by the Hardees in Philippi.

Yes, I know my sense of humor is a bit odd.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rainbow & Search for the Pot o' Gold

This was last week (the 1st, I think) looking across the front yard:

It was raining out in the field, but the kids didn't care. They took off after the other end of the rainbow in search of the gold.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Storytelling Institute at FSU

This past weekend I went to Fairmont State University for the Mountain State Storytelling Institute. The event was co-sponsored by the WV Storytelling Guild. Because I'm already acquainted with several intriguing members of this guild, I knew I wasn't going to be disappointed in spending my time and money on this gathering.
I am happy to report that I was right; I was not disappointed. In fact, I joined the WV Storytelling Guild, bought their book (and several others), and have been enjoying the group emails since they added me to the list on Sunday (it might be worth it to join just to read some of this stuff!).

I won't do well to try and report all that I encountered, but I would like to touch on a few things:

  • The first workshop I attended - "From the Porch to the Page: Using the Oral Tradition in Crafting Personal Narrative" - was with storytelling duo 'Mountain Echoes' (June Riffle & JoAnn Dadisman). I've had the pleasure of meeting these women on a couple of other occasions, so knowing that they're both intelligent and articulate (not to mention entertaining) was one reason for choosing this as my first stop. The real selling point, though, was the emphasis on writing. [June flattered me by asking about my book. That made me feel good and I was able to report that I now have an agent - that's news I haven't announced yet. I suppose this small mention means that I will have to post an update on Vultures.] As we settled into our seats, the two women began to spin a tale with the high weeds of summer heat. I saw the glint of sun on the blade of the scythe and was pretty close to smelling the old hunting dog when...they stopped. !. Ack! Nothing like an abrupt interruption to reveal the depth of interest; everyone in the room was disappointed. However, the interruption was for good reason; the start-and-stop of the hunting dog tale was used to breakdown the story and get a good look at it. This was a perfect illustration of the of the mouth-to-page flow of a good story. I like the point that JoAnn made: it flows both ways. She's absolutely right and I will do well to keep that in mind.
  • I got to meet Granny Sue in person! I'm just sorry that I didn't get to spend more time with her.
  • I enjoyed (maybe a little too much, considering my age) Rich Knoblich's wolf puppet 'Growler' and the story of the "Boy Who Cried" so much that I bought his new book Talking 'bout The Relatives.
  • It's women like Dr. Judy Byers who make me want to go back to school. Her workshop was way too short.
  • Andy Fraenkel's workshop convinced us (and proved it, too) that we all have worthwhile stories to tell. It was almost shocking to be led into various story elements with seemingly no effort. And then to share the wonder of those tiny bits of awe with another person produced a palpable warmth.
  • Bil Lepp summarized about 400 books on the art and techniques of writing using ridiculously simple line drawings and humor. It took him an hour and we laughed all the way through it. Amazing. Someone needs to publish his novels so I can read them (Okay? Do you hear that?).


Do you know how hard it is to find appropriate entertainment (not to mention entertaining entertainment) for our entire family? If you don't, I'll tell you: It's impossible. Find something that the 15 year old thinks is funny and the 11 & 8 year olds shouldn't be hearing it. Find something that the 8 year old likes and the 11 and 15 year olds are groaning.

We took the entire family to Friday night's Telling. It was wonderful AND everyone had fun!

(Maybe I'll tell you about the dead baby at another time....)

I wasn't able to attend all the workshops (and that would be my only complaint), but I'm planning for next year....

Saturday, April 5, 2008

We Can Do It!

PC gave me this poster for Christmas:

There are several reasons why I like Rosie the Riveter, but the empowerment implied in the image is my main attraction.
What better place to hang it than in my office?

It only took me three months to hang it up.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

"Strange as this Weather Has Been"

Let me tell you something before you go on and read this, thinking it's a run-of-the-mill review:
It's not.
I'm not gonna summarize it (go to this page if that's what you're looking for) or sing praises to it (okay, maybe I might do that a little); I just want to point out a few things....

Ann Pancake's novel, Strange as this Weather Has Been, is real, sad, and strong in so many ways that it's still flipping around in my head with me trying to get a good look at all of it.

Mountaintop removal -strip mining at its worst- is the backdrop of this novel set in southern West Virginia.
As usual, the folks who have lived in these hills for generations are being fucked three ways to Sunday by the coal companies (with the help of their bought-and-paid-for-politicians).
What is important here is that it's NOT historical fiction. This is happening NOW. Yes, really. RIGHT NOW.
That whole coal-company-fucks-local-folks-and-destroys/steals-everything-they-own (and then some) scenario was just something from history class, right?
Nope. It's still happening, only on a grander scale.
Near as I can tell, the facts of mountaintop removal are set out pretty clear and true. There is no ranting and raving or exaggeration. This is true. This is really happening. This book gives us an up-close view of what it really means. (The cover art is pretty darn cool, too.) You can learn more over at ilovemountains.org or Ann has a longer list of resources on her main page.
Mountaintop removal is disgraceful, but it couldn't be a novel all by itself, now could it?
Jayne Anne Phillips says, "Ann Pancake is Appalachia’s Steinbeck..."
That's a pretty strong sentiment, but I think I might just agree.
The family that centers this story is real. These are characters people who will live and breath for a very long time, just like the Joads. However, unlike the Joads, this family doesn't pick up and leave to seek something better, at least not as a whole and functioning unit.
If you're from West Virginia (does this phenomenon extend throughout Appalachia?), then I don't have to explain to you what I'm talking about. For those of you who are not, I'll try a cursory explanation: There's just something about West Virginia, some deep connection between the people and the place. Even if you've moved off and managed to make a go of it, likely you'd move back home in a minute if you could (could generally means a comparable job/income). Ann Pancake does a fantastic job of weaving this into the story; it's a major factor for a lot of us, whether we live here or not: moved away and came back (or moved away and can't wait to come back).
This bond to the land is a very real phenomenon; I don't know a native West Virginian who'd tell you any different.
Add to the mix a minimum wage job at the Dairy Queen and four kids and you're starting to get the idea.
There is no melodrama or bullshit. This isn't someone's made up fantasy land. This stuff is real.
It was the no-bullshit writing that drew me in, but it was the honest use of language that kept me in. The words and word order (word arrangements?) made me feel at home, like setting on the porch and listening to Gramma tell one of her stories, the lightning bugs flashing in the yard and the heat lightning off in the high clouds up over the hills.
I think Ann Pancake has succeeded in showing me the value of how we talk.
That's a big statement (even bigger, for me, than naming her Steinbeck), so let me back up and explain a little bit.
I have always claimed West Virginia as my 'Where are you from?' answer no matter where I went. I've always been proud to be from West Virginia, even when (maybe I should say 'especially when') folks asked me about outhouses and indoor plumbing. (Yes, I've really been asked about outhouses and indoor plumbing. Not just once or twice, either.) With that said, I also have to tell you that there's been an awful lot of times that I felt as if I were treated as less of a person because I'm from West Virginia. I never considered changing my answer, no matter how long I lived somewhere else, but I did change my speech. I got to the place (it didn't take long) where I considered it highly important to speak correctly - neutral accent, proper grammar, and no syllable dropping (You try saying something 'hillbilly' in front of a group of sophisticated, urbane folks and see if they don't drop right out of their polite airs and poke fun at you. I kid you not).
Avoiding ridicule in any form was a good motivator to change my speech patterns, but the most important reason -for me- was to 'set a good example.' Like saying, "I'm from West Virginia and I speak correctly" which, I suppose, is just a nice way of saying "I'm not a hick like you think I must be when you have to ask did I grow up with running water."
Writing this down makes it sound kinda' lame or embarrassing or...I don't know... something, but the fact of the matter is that there is a great deal of ignorance floating around about West Virginia (it can't be all bad, though, because it's kept a lot of folks out that we wouldn't want here anyway).
Okay, there's a lot more to write on this subject, but I'll leave it for now and come back around to what I mean about this novel. Ann uses our way of talking in a useful way. That's not saying it well, but I'm not sure how to say it. She uses our speech patterns as a way to make this work real. There is no ridicule, only truth.
Let me try again: She has shown me, in a new way, the value of our unique way of speaking. It's as if by validating our 'talk,' I have a new appreciation for our culture. It's like taking the 'history' out of 'culture & history' and plopping 'culture' right down in the here and now.
It feels as if my need to show other folks that I'm an intelligent, valid human being -West-by-God-Virginian - has been replaced by a need to get over the need to prove anything (and that always feels good).
This way of talking and being is mine -ours- and there's not a damn thing wrong with it.
I feel like it's a new freedom that leaves me open to write in a way that feels more real.
Yeah, this book really did that.

More Reading and Writing (Seeking)

This post was going to be a book review, but I got a bit (ha!) off track and so, since it's my blog, I'm just gonna keep on babbling about reading and writing.
I'll get to the book review eventually.
If you read my last post, you know that I have little patience for reading crappy novels. After I gave up 'Free' as a reason for reading a book, I started to comb through yard sale boxes and library sales for classics. If the truth be told, 'Free' was still (still is) a good reason to take it home with me, but well worn paperbacks often cost as much as 10¢ or 25¢ (it adds up quick).
I spent several years reading everything of value from the last century. I've been through quite a few stages of reading progression (don't worry - I won't get into all of them today), but this period of reading the classics was slowed dramatically (now mind you, 'slowed' -not stopped) when a good friend with way more education than me caught me reading The Scarlet Letter.
S, who is not only an astute reader, but also has a highly functioning brain, a sharp wit, and a degree in English (not to mention the post-graduate degree), asked me, "Why are you reading that?"
"Why wouldn't I read that?" was the first response that popped into my head. However, I must admit I was embarrassed. Not necessarily because I was reading that particular book, but more probably by the fact that I felt she was implying that I was wasting my time. Again.
(Remember that's what I was trying to avoid by reading the classics in the first place. I may have been better off - hell, I would probably still be better off- if I invested my money in some formal education. However, that comes with a price tag far bigger than the few nickels and dimes I was spending on my fumbling self-education. I feel a tangent coming on, but I will try and get back to the topic at hand....)
S, as usual, cut right to it with her next question: "What do you hope to learn from reading that?"
And, really, this was the million dollar question, wasn't it? Isn't it still? Because that's what it's about for me. That's what it's still about: What can I learn from reading this?
Don't write me off as a total book-snob, though, because I still read every book Stephen King publishes and truly believe in the value (and, yes, necessity) of entertainment. I don't like to read boring books and isn't that what entertainment is - the opposite of boredom?
**(I have to allow a small tangent here to say I've been very disappointed in your last two publications, Steve. At what point can you publish without slashing a third of what you write [I could be wrong -I'm not going to go look it up right now- but didn't you repeat {somewhere in On Writing} the sage advice of hacking a bunch of shit out of the way to get to the real, page-turning, keep-you-up-at-night story? What happened to that?] and just leave all the crap in there because your publishers know that you're gonna sell a million-gajillion copies no matter what's between the covers? Perhaps a part of it is all that crap makes the book bigger? Bigger book = higher retail price? Hell, I always buy one, but write a few more time-wasters and that'll be the end of my support.)**
Another important aspect of reading is identification. Personal connection. Yep, we're still talking entertainment here, but we're also talking education. Isn't that how we learn? Or maybe the question should be 'Isn't that how we learn the best (the fastest, the most efficiently)?' or maybe 'Isn't that the information we seek out?'
If we connect to a topic - if there is something personal, some connection to us as a real, multi-dimensional person, then doesn't that give us some extra tie to the topic at hand and, therefore, a 'want' of the subject?
Kids always are asking, 'Why do I have to do this?' They SHOULD ask. Who gives a shit about sentence diagramming (To all of you grammarians: sorry, but I HATED diagramming sentences and I still find no use for the minutiae of sentence destruction and labeling in my life, even the writing part of my life.) when you can dive into a whole story and rip it apart?
But, for the record: Yep, all that math has come in handy. Even some of that geometry crap comes into use every once in a while. a² + b² = c² really does help when you have to square a building to lay it out right, or to build a wall or a window or whatever.
But the point is -before I lose it in another digression- finding a personal connection to the subject matter not only makes things more interesting, but also more worthwhile and valuable because they're meaningful.
I suspect good teachers already know this, but again, with my awkward, groping, fits-and-starts education, I just realized this about 4 or 5 years ago. Being away from West Virginia played a big part in that (that's a-whole-nother post or two or three...) realization, but without going into details (right now), that brings us to my current mode of reading (seeking): Anything about West Virginia, fiction or non-fiction. West Virginia can be the setting, the topic, or the home state of the author, as long as it is connected to home.
I just got started (relatively) with this method of seeking (reading, learning) and I'm pleased to find I have a lot of work ahead of me to even begin to feel like I'm making a dent into the works of West Virginia writers and writings. There are years worth of personal connections just sitting and waiting on me. (Yay!)
All this brings me to what I originally intended to do today: A book review.
I'm going to start another post, though, so I don't have to fight with the pictures....

Reading and Writing

When I was younger I would read anything I could get my hands on. Yep, I did read a lot of crap that way, but it caused me to pick stuff apart and figure out what made it crap (or not). What makes this one take me two weeks to read (and read three other better books at the same time) when this one over here I couldn't put down and stayed up all night to finish? Why do these characters live on in my head for a couple of weeks when these others never even took a deep breath? What is it about that scene that makes me remember it every time the wind blows whistly around that paint-flaking window pane in the basement? What gave this a sleek polished feeling while this one has rough-edges? Was that the intent? Does it add to or take away from the whole?
Anyway, you get the idea. And if you're a reader, you're probably nodding your head, maybe sucking in your bottom lip, and thinking about the first book you put down and never finished because it wasn't worth your time. I remember mine. I was working the night shift and, while that probably was partly to blame for my short attention span, for the first time ever I put a book down and didn't pick it back up.
I had no interest in reading another schlocky novel that didn't have something to say or, at the least, some entertainment value. I don't remember the book or the author, but what I do remember is getting to Chapter 2 and I'd just walked down a street with too many adjectives and walked with a fancy-shmancily dressed lady with a flowery umbrella. I walked up the steps to her porch and into her house and nothing had happened and I just didn't give a shit about the lady or about where she lived or what she did or anything else.
Plus, I was wet because she didn't share her umbrella. Okay, not really, but I just didn't give a shit. I was sick of reading shit and I remember thinking that if I was going to learn what made a good book, then I'd better set the shit aside and seek out the good stuff.
This realization, plus the fact I had a tracheotomy to clean, a couple of stomach tubes to replace, an order to insert a urinary catheter, a serious case of sleep deprivation, morning meds and report to get through all combined to make me realize I didn't have time to waste - especially not on an uninteresting, crappy novel.
That was the beginning. I've become even more (nit)picky since then (hard to believe, huh?).

The point in all this?
I'm feeling rather bloggity today and I have some time this morning (time created through procrastination, mainly). So, if you've a mind to stick it out with me a bit, we'll see where this is going....

I need to add, too, that I have very little patience for formatting pictures into posts. Usually I just deal with it and do it anyway, but not today. Today I'll just make multiple posts. Patience may be required. :)