Thursday, February 26, 2015

Veritable Quandary

Thursday is my usual day to work on the story I've been writing.  I was doing fairly well with this routine of edit and rewrite on Thursdays, post the next chapter on Fridays.

Until...

The BFF reads my stuff, then we discuss things in our weekly Sunday phone call.  Two weeks ago, she tells me that she likes the build-up of tension between the two main characters; they aren't just leaping into bed after two days of knowing each other.

Dead silence on my part.  She asks me what's wrong and I tell her the first big sex scene is coming in the next chapter.  She says it's too soon.  I say, "Would you turn down this guy if he was hot for you?" She laughs, says, "Hell no, but...Kate would."  And damn, she's right.  Kate might want him, but she's too wary and cautious.

I tell the BFF that if I remove the scene, I'll have to merge two chapters and somehow keep the narrative cohesive.  And I whinge a little because, wow, the sex between these two is just plain scorching and it fits in with where the story is going and I like it...lots.

But I listen to her, eventually agree...

And spend three days last week trying to cut and paste and move and rewrite to keep the story flowing so it doesn't seem chopped or senseless.  I finally post the newly revised chapter last Saturday and then wonder how to salvage the rest of the story.  This couple has to connect because their feelings drive the plot and if they don't care about each other, no one reading will give a crap what happens to them later on when shit hits the fan.  By late Saturday afternoon, I decide to give my brain a rest and put all thoughts of the plot aside until next week.

Which is now.

This morning I realize, while looking over the next few chapters, that they're totally wrapped around the ones I altered last week--there are conversations that now don't make sense, touchy-feely moments after obvious intimacy.  Now I'm having serious regrets about changing the plot, but have to forge on and somehow figure out a way to get these two together that doesn't come off as contrived or gratuitous. And damn, it was so right the way I wrote it the first time...buggers.

Then, as if I wasn't already sinking into the abyss, I talked to my mother...

Mom:  "Hey, I love your story."
Me:  "What? You're reading it?
Mom:  "Yes, it's really good."
Me:  "No, Mom!  You can't be reading it!  There's sex!"
Mom: "I'm pretty sure I know about sex." (She's laughing)
Me:  "No, Mom, seriously, you can't read the story!  There's like, real sex!  (I don't think she can hear me over her laughter)

So, now I have two issues:  One, writing steamy sex scenes while I imagine my mother reading them. And, having rearranged two chapters into something entirely different than expected, how do I get back on track with the original story line and make sense of the next chapter?

I've lost the plot.  In more ways than one...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Let Them Eat Cake...Or Not

On Sunday I got an urge for Victoria Sponge, one of my favorite British cakes.  I made this recipe so many times during my years in Edinburgh, I could've done it in my sleep.  It's a light, moist cake, layered with jam and whipped cream, a dusting of sugar on top; no frosting like an American cake.

Here...

Photo Credit: Celtnet

I love this cake, though haven't made it since I've been back in the States.  It's easy, delicious and on Sunday I want a piece really bad but I don't have all the ingredients, like self-rising flour, so I go online, find the recipe for changing regular flour into s/r and make the cake.  While it's baking, I'm imagining how great that slice will taste with a nice cup of tea...yum, can't wait.

Except, when I open the oven to check on it, I find this (and yes, that's smoke):


It rose like a souffle, then began to ooze down both racks, onto the element and then made lovely cake circles on the foil drip catcher.  A second after I took this picture, the entire bottom of the stove caught fire.  Flames, peeps.  I had enough to toast marshmallows, which in retrospect, would have been a better choice of dessert.

I got the fire out, the cakes were ruined--even before the soot and ash factor--and the oven was such a mess I had to clean it, a task I was not in the mood for on a warm, sunny afternoon.  And no cake at the end of it all.  Yes, cursing ensued.

Apparently homemade self-rising is a potent flour that turns a mild-mannered Victoria Sponge into some kind of explosive concoction.

I tried again, only with actual s/r flour that I bought this morning. And damn if the exact same thing didn't happen again!  Giant puff of smoke, towering inferno, oozing batter, another oven scrubbing. Way more cursing.

The only thing I can figure is the eggs, flours and butter are different enough between countries that this recipe just won't work here.  I even used my British measuring cups, used my British cake pans...everything identical to how I've always made this cake, other than American ingredients. Sadly, it appears I will never again have my favorite cake, at least not this side of the pond.

But hey, at least my oven is sparkling clean...woo hoo...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Best Medicine

Yesterday afternoon, wandering the internet because I couldn't settle my head to read, I came across the funniest thing...exactly what I needed to cheer me up.  Laughter has always been my solace, my emotional pain reliever; a good, hard belly laugh and I'll be able to face whatever ails me.

So...

After the monumental snowstorm in Boston, with feet of snow heaped in giant mounds all over the city, someone started the Boston Blizzard Challenge.  Honestly, you gotta love those crazy kids...except many were adults.  Go figure.

The Challenge was to dive into the snow drifts--from on high, like balconies and rooftops, car hoods and window ledges.  Seriously, the tweets/videos were so stupidly funny, I cracked up several times. They jumped, they fell, they were pushed.  Truly, peeps, would you really jump off your roof into a snow drift?  Or perch on the window ledge of your apartment building before leaping?  For some strange reason most of them were half-naked too--shorts, no shirts; bathing suits and bikinis.  I'm not sure if that was part of the challenge or just extra craziness.

After laughing at the jumpers, I then watched what Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston had to say...and totally lost it.  What he said was funnier than the jumping.  Imagine the mayor of a major US city compelled to hold a new conference because his people are doing something really, really dumb.

"This isn't Loon Mountain," he says, very irate, glaring into the cameras, "this is the city of Boston. Stop this nonsense!"  Nothing like being scolded, on national television, like you're all just a bunch of very naughty children.

Though, I think what Mayor Walsh failed to realize is that for a while there, Boston was Loon Mountain and a good portion of its citizens were lunatics...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tears Before Bedtime

Actually, it was tears before lunch.  Lots and lots of them...

This morning was Ozzy's appointment with the vet to determine what his mysterious fainting spells are.  Turns out they're mini-heart attacks.  And now we've fallen all the way down the slippery slope and are lying in a crumpled heap at the bottom.  There's nothing else that can be done--he's already taking all the meds a tiny wee dog can possibly take--so it's just a matter of time now.  His walks are restricted, though he can still go to the park, I'll just have to carry him for most of the walk; also up and down the stairs.

The hardest part, and the reason for my tears, is realizing that I can't change this, can't save him or turn back time.  And hanging over my head like the bloody sword of Damocles is that Ultimate Decision: Let nature take its course until the Big One kills him, or go for the...other option. Either way, the outcome is the same, though how I get there is decidedly different.

So, after most of a box of Kleenex, and a very long and painful conversation with the vet, we both agreed that until Oz crosses the line between having a life or barely living, I'm going to take it day by day, and give him as much love and care that I possibly can.  There are no other choices.

I hate this.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Love Long Weekends

And I would have loved this latest holiday Monday even more if the dogs understood the concept and let me sleep past 6:00 am.  Ah well, just gives me more time to enjoy the day...right?  Uh huh.

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Weather on Saturday hit 78*.  I wore a tank top and hippie skirt and fought the surreality of such heat on Valentine's Day.  (Spell check just informed me that surreality isn't a word.  I like it, so now it's a word in my personal dictionary, along with flateau and obstacle illusion).

Because it was so warm, and the dogs were getting lost in the elephant grass in the backyard, I ended up mowing the lawn.  I love the smell of fresh-cut grass, though six weeks into the new year, it has a wet, slightly boggy back note.  And I couldn't get the blades of grass off my boots, no matter how I stomped and kicked.  Still, at least I can find the dogs now.

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Speaking of dogs.  Ozzy had two more mysterious spells this week.  Scared me really bad when he just flopped unconscious again, Friday night just before bed and Sunday morning walking on the road. I'm taking him to the vet first thing tomorrow morning, though I'm not expecting a miracle.  I know a slippery slope when I see it and his heart is going to give out at some point, no matter what I do, or how I want to make it all better.  Dread has settled in my bones.

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Today is four years not smoking!  I knew, the minute I made the decision, that I could do it and now here I am, four years later.  I miss it.  Not the smell or the ruination of my lungs, but the muse aspect. In the past when I'd get stuck on a plot kink, outside I would go, light up and pace. Every single time, I could work through the hangup.  Since I've quit, I've tried going outside to pace, but it doesn't work. Now I just grab fistfuls of my hair and wander through the house muttering. Sometimes this jogs my brain, mostly it doesn't. Life is all about the trade-off, isn't it?

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Just after noon now, time for lunch and a nice, laid-back afternoon to read my new book. I have several things pending, housework and chores, errands and whatevers, but not today, peeps, not today.

I love long weekends...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day


It's not just the heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate, red roses or pink tulips, the romantic dinners--though all of those have meaning if they come from the heart. This day is about love.  One day set aside to appreciate love in all its forms and feelings, shapes and sizes.  I wish every day had this awareness...

Hope you all are loved today, dear readers, and give it back just as much.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hellacious

The rains are gone, flood waters receding, but now temperatures are rising.  It's to be in the low 70s this week, which is just so wrong.  This morning after walking the boys, I went grocery shopping and realized I was too hot in my favorite flannel shirt. After I got home, made four trips up and down two flights of stairs with the groceries, I was even more hot and sweaty.  And okay, edging right into cranky because this is not Winter weather by anyone's definition.

It's almost a matter of principle for me to fight giving up my flannels. These shirts mean the end of scorching Summer heat and the much anticipated arrival of cool days and stormy weather, thick socks and delicious, hearty meals.  It's way, way too early to shift my flannels to the back of the closet and bring out the Hawaiians, but I did pull one out this afternoon. I had no choice...it's weirdly warm and even a bit muggy.

Basically there was no Winter this year.  We've had the occasional storm, and last week was overly dramatic with the monumental rains and wind, but there's only been two slightly frosty nights and zero snow, ice or any other element that signifies what time of year this is supposed to be.  I don't know what this will mean in the coming months when the Gates of Hell have sprung open, belching fire and brimstone, but with the annual rainfall far below normal, all the forests tinder dry and California--right down the road--already struggling with wildfires...well, it's just a disaster waiting to explode, isn't it?

Good times ahead, then...