Jeep + therapist = disaster

My lovely hubby is fanatical about my Jeep. He insists on cleaning it at least once a week. I’m less picky. I figure, it’s a Jeep; dirt adds character.

A few days ago, I drove through a construction site and somehow got some paint or tar or something on the Jeep’s paint. My husband almost hit the roof. He insisted he had to remove the stuff and he had to do so immediately. He got that look in his eyes that said: Taylor, stay away from me. I thought: Writing time! and went for my laptop.

An hour later, I walked outside to a nightmare.

Apparently, my therapist husband couldn’t get the paint or tar or whatever the heck it was, off with a cloth, so he tried something harsher.


Note: he used the green side.

The paint splatters were gone…so was the Jeep’s paint. Instead of the uniform, sandy yellow, my Jeep was now a spotted mess of lighter and darker shades of white. It looked like some sort of checker board. And the scratches were everywhere. Not one to leave a job half-done, my hubby had ‘cleaned’ every surface, front, sides and back.

To his credit, he was in horrified and felt very sorry. To mine, I told him it was only a thing and replaceable.

After I mentally added him to the list of characters who die in my next book.

Note: for those of you who need closure (a happy ending), we did take the vehicle to the shop where the owner (another Jeep driver) almost fainted, then proceeded to buff the coat with an obviously magical cream that removed every trace of those scratches. Except for a few minute marks, the Jeep is as good as new. And full of character.

Writing with a day job

I have a day job. It provides a steady pay check and benefits and they cover things like the mortgage, bills, clothes, food and extras like doggies. Those are the benefits, the problem is it sucks up so much writing time.

Because it’s a full-time job, I only write when my day job is done.

I think most of us face the choice of having to quit our day job or writing part-time. It’s a tough choice. For me, the finances take precedence, and I write part-time.

I try and balance things. I have a husband who’d like to see me more than once a week and doggies who need petting. Some where in there, I work out and find time to write. Oh…and there’s this blog…It’s not easy to find time for everything.

Here’s a post by Nathan Bransford on how he finds balance with his day job.

Here’s another by Skye Callahan on her struggles to find balance.

How do you do it? Or, better still, how do you wish you could do it?

River’s Issues: escapism

River has started escaping from the yard. We do have a fence. A lovely, five foot fence that we had installed with our dogs in mind. But it doesn’t stop him. Nope. He climbs it.

He might not be designed for the job but this dog gets up that fence like he’s possessed by an evil squirrel. At the top, he balances his body precariously for a second, then tumbles over and lands on the snow. Once on the other side, he’s off running for the hills.

Of course, we’ve tried to stop him. Thinking it was the high level of snow, we chiselled our way through the solid ice base until we hit grass. This took hours of backbreaking work that involved lifting the ice chunks and throwing them out of the yard–and a lot of cursing of dogs in general and akitas in particular.

He still got out.

My lovely husband decided to involve psychology and put ‘mental’ barriers in the form of debris on the snow outside the fence.

He still got out.

We tried training him to stay in the yard with treats…and he still got out.

Our friends suggested an invisible fence, but the idea of shocking him didn’t go well with us. So, instead, we’re going to install a system of metal bars that lean into the yard at a 45 degree angle from the fence. They’re connected by a metal cable and, since that’s further into the yard than the fence, River would have to hang from the cable to get over it. Since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, we’re hoping this will stop his Houdini act.

It will also make our home look a lot like Alcatraz.

Then there’s the issue of Spring. When it comes and the ground thaws, River will have a new option as his escape plan. Digging.

Maybe we need to consider something else completely…

Maggie’s squirrels

My friend Maggie is a character you couldn’t make up; she’s got way too much personality. For example, she doesn’t greet others with hello or hi, she says: Hey! How are things on the planet?! (usually loudly enough that everyone hears her within a five-mile radius). I usually see her at my favourite coffee shop and hear the latest in her never-boring life. This time, she has squirrels. Literally.

Maggie’s little home is so nice, a group of squirrels have decided they’d like to share it with her. Uninvited, they’ve snuck in and taken over the attic. Maggie has tried everything to get rid of her unwanted guests. So far, nothing’s worked.

First, she tried ignoring the squirrels and hoping that they would simply leave. Well, the squirrels loved this plan. They settled in, brought friends, then proceeded to mate with them.

Maggie decided to trap them. She caught six, drove away, then set them loose (along with giving them some nuts to get started on their journey–I did mention she’s a bit of a character). Two days later, the squirrels were back in her house.

Maggie explained all this to me in her typically loud voice, stirring her coffee in a nervous movement that reminded me of her nemesis, the squirrels. She hadn’t slept in weeks–the squirrels had kept her up–and she didn’t know what to do next.

I would have suggested an exterminator but Maggie is a kind soul who loves animals and she doesn’t want to hurt the little dears.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that spring is coming.

And with it, baby squirrels.

Akita love

I’m desperately trying to keep a second akita from appearing in our home. My attempts, though seem to have backfired. My lovely hubby has gone from interested in a second dog, to determined, to obsessed within a week. Every issue I come up with against the second dog only makes him smile and counter that ‘he’ll take care of it’. I foresee doom.

Our lovely Fuzzy Tail is ‘blowing her coat’ a process by which she gets rid of all her fur in little bits. The results are fist-sized balls of fur that roll around our home like tumbleweed in an Old Western movie. And we’re not talking one or two, the other day I opened the door and six flew outside. SIX. I shudder to think what our house would look like if we had two such dogs.

Our breeder is an incredibly patient, devoted woman who adores akitas and is honestly interested in their well-being. She has a male who is almost 2 and she had kept to breed. Since now she’s considering leaving breeding dogs in favour of a new job, he needs a home. She’s willing to let us try having him and to have us return him if things don’t work out. And we’d get him for free (and he’s worth about $2 000). Sounds like a great deal, right?

So, why am I reluctant? Because I know my hubby. He’s going to take one look at this dog and his eyes will soften and he’ll be in love. House rules will go out the window, cleanliness won’t be important, sanity will disappear and chaos will reign…but he’ll love his new boy. He’s like that with dogs.

On the upside, you can look forward to funny stories of our dog-infested life.


Please note: Grown akitas are larger than they appear on this picture. That’s a puppy.

Dirty dog habits

We have an akita named Ocean. She’s lovely and feisty and for some insane reason insists on waking me up at 6 am every day (yes, even weekends). That might have annoyed some people, we just think she’s quirky and love her more.

We like to think we treat her well. She has good food, treats, toys of every kind and two wonderful cushions to lay on. It stands to reason, among this opulence, she’d start forming curious habits.

To my disgust, Ocean has started drinking from the toilet.

It’s not like there’s no water available to her. She has a water bowl that we personally clean and fill with filtered, clean water. In the summer, we add ice cubes. Ocean has water, she just prefers the one in our toilet.

I’ve tried explaining things to her, tried using positive reinforcements and tried a sharp “No!” whenever we caught her. Nothing worked.

Ocean still drinks from out toilet.

I know. Put down the lid, right? This might appear to be the easiest and most obvious solution but, my husband (with two university degrees to his name) is unable to remember to comply. Once the lid was up, Ocean was back at it.

Maybe she’s going through her teens. She’s almost two, that’s fourteen in doggie years. This could be her version of getting a tattoo. Maybe she’s trying to tell us she’s trusts us as doggie parents. If she’s willing to show us all her issues without fear, that shows a deep level of trust. No?

Maybe she just likes toilet water.

I should probably accept it and relax.

Not as easy as it sounds. After all, Ocean likes to wake me on Saturday mornings by licking me.



I need to go for a run

Today was…well, special. In my day job, I work with the public and, while some people are wonderful, others are…interesting. My motto for dealing with people is to be nice and, if they’re horrible, to unleash my greatest weapon: ‘kill them with kindness’. When they insult me, praise them; when they’re irrational and demanding, support them; when they’re angry, be kind. I try to melt away their anger, to tell them how they make sense and to validate their process. It really works. Most times, that anger hides an incredible amount of pain. Give them a little support and the hardest, meanest people turn into sniffing, insecure teddy bears.

I just need to make sure I vent out my own feelings because there are times when I’d like to kick someone. Since I can’t, I go to my elliptical.

I love my machine. My hubby encouraged me to buy it and it’s one of those purchases I absolutely adore. It’s in a large room in our basement facing a big window and just waiting…for me. No one has used it, no one has sweated on it, I don’t have to wait for someone to finish working out, I don’t have to worry about what I’m wearing, I can work out whenever I want and it’s impact free, so I can go for as long as I want.

To say it’s awesome doesn’t even cover it.

On the elliptical, I run with our dogs (even those who’re now gone), and run marathons and shout at imaginary giants and unleash all the bottled issues I’ve carried all day. With my favourite music in my little iPod, I run and then I run some more. Afterwards, I feel like a million dollars, the issues of the day seem ridiculously simple and, at night, I’m guaranteed a great sleep.

Oh, and, as another bonus, I’m healthier and sport great muscles. Yeey!

What do you do to feel free and fit?

What happened?

Today was an odd day. We left the house today with the intention to have a little fun. We were going to test drive a jeep. Just test drive. Just drive it.

We had an appointment for 11 am and a young woman greeted us like with the enthusiasm of a long-lost relative. She was lovely, pixie small and as determined as Gandalf. We were not leaving without trying out the Rubicon.

Meanwhile, mother nature had decided today was the day to do laundry and she was dumping half of her winter snow on us in the matter of a couple of hours. It was a blizzard, which lent itself for a great Jeep experience because we had to put on the 4×4 drive. We had a good laugh when I got behind the wheel and promptly stalled the car not once but twice (it’s a manual).

I’m not the world’s best driver and what I know about cars could be written on a napkin with room to spare, still even I had to admit the Jeep was very cool-looking. I just didn’t think we would do more than drive it.

There’s something about car dealerships. They talked numbers until our eyes crossed and they introduced us to every person who worked there. Everyone was incredibly friendly and talked to us until we felt like they were more than long lost friends, they were family. When we started to weaken from hunger and suggested going out for lunch they led us to their smiling chef who promptly cooked us lunch.

Leaving was an impossibility and our repeated attempts to exit were quickly quelled. That place is a fortress to rival Alcatraz. It took us six hours but we finally managed to leave.

With one small accessory.

Formatting ups and downs.

I’m deep inside the world of formatting. The idea is to somehow meet the rules of the Smashwords Premium Catalogue and hopefully get the book on other publishers free. Excellent theory…the application is somewhat more turbulent.

I should explain that I’m not a computer genius. I would describe myself as mildly competent. For example, I don’t try to fix a type-o on my computer with white out, but I don’t know how to fix any real issues on my computer. And that includes formatting issues on my documents.

The Guide that Smashwords has for formatting is actually really helpful, friendly even. But trying this out by myself is pretty daunting. There are times when I stare at the screen and wonder what on earth they mean and the only one at my side is my faithful akita. She’s good in the snow but not so great with computers.

Simple things become monumental tasks in Formatting World. For example, you can’t change something as easy as the font by clicking on the font button. In fact, according to the Guide, this is a mistake you should never, ever do (never is in capital letters, then bolded and then repeated just in case you missed it the first few times). Basically, if you use the button provided by Word for that exact purpose, your manuscript will warp itself into something illegible for ebooks, it’ll never be admitted into the Premium Catalogue (the reason for this entire Formatting Nightmare) and all your worse fears will materialize.

Now that wouldn’t be an issue, if the Guide told me how to change the font properly. But there’s no second choice. Just a warning in dire letters of horrid consequences if you should risk touching the clearly labelled font button.

In spite of all this moaning on my part, I think I’m making some sort of progress. I’ve still got a long way to go. I’m certainly not close enough to even start making a table of contents, but I think I might have an idea on how to create a ‘style’. No, in our fun, Formatting World, style doesn’t mean clothing style or hip-style, it means writing style as in indents and bullets and so on. Don’t laugh but I had to figure that out too.

It’s a steep learning curve but, I figure, in a week or so, either I’ll have a perfectly formatted document so clean it’ll shine brighter than the Empire State Building or I’ll be talking to Ocean in doggie language.

Oh and I will definitely pass on anything worthwhile that I learn along the way…like how on earth to change that dratted font.



Dogs and strangers

A friend of my husband’s came over to introduce us to his girlfriend. It seemed a nice enough idea and we were excited to meet her. We greeted her at the door where our akita tried to turn herself into a pretzel in order to get closer to the exciting new comers.

This new lady seemed nice enough at first. I didn’t really clue in when she insulted and questioned our choice of gender in dog and dog breed. Instead, I gave her a tour of the house during which she told me to relax, to change my attitude and to take better control of my excited dog. According to her, I should have gone to puppy school with my dog (we have but I didn’t see a point in mentioning it) and learn how to be an Alpha person. She claimed we had our dog on the wrong kind of food. Obviously, she was missing a vitamin and that was why she was so excited.

I was desperately trying to keep the conversation smooth and happy and changed the subject but she wouldn’t have it. She shook her head at my soft-spoken husband and declared we’d never have control over our dog. When she tried to ‘teach’ us how to ‘discipline’ Ocean, I lost it and took my puppy away.

The night was over after the hockey game and, to me, that was one very long game. In other circumstances, I might have liked this lady, but this night didn’t give me a chance to see the good qualities she must have. I disliked her for putting my doggie down and even worse when she tried to shout at her and shove her around in her version of ‘discipline’.

Ocean on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from my prejudices. She was delighted with the newcomers and saw them as wonderful companions. When they were leaving and I was standing tensely by the door, Ocean was still trying to kiss them goodbye and show them just how much she loved them already.

Afterwards, when I was smudging the house (a native process that changes the energy of a space), Ocean stretched out in the living room and slept. Obviously unconcerned about the energy or vibes they had left. She didn’t need any smudging to feel completely fine, safe and relaxed.
Watching her sleep, I finally realized who she reminds me of. Someone else who had the same faith in humanity.