Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Garden Time

Tuesday, March 30

Hello, I had talked about planting catnip several times. That is not the only thing I am looking into planting. We are going to try to plant some tomatoes and peppers again this year.

Last year, we got such a late start that we did not get any tomatoes but we got a bunch of jalapeno peppers off of two plants. The only two plants the deer decided not to eat on. We plan to stake out the tomatoes as soon as we transplant them in the hopes that the deer won’t mess with them.

If not, we may have a nice harvest of venison this year. I make the same threat every year but the closest I got was a photograph of one nibbling on one of mom’s trees. I have thought about using motion detectors set up to turn on noise makers to scare them off but I have not worked that out yet.

Along with the three plants listed above, I also plan to plant some chives, sage, onions, thyme and a couple other items. I will plant some sunflowers later next month. I love to nibble on sunflowers, but I like to watch them grow.

One year, mom saw one of the sunflower heads moving along the ground. It turned out that it was almost three times bigger than the squirrel that tried to commandeer it. She said the squirrel followed and fussed at her after she took the sunflower away from him.

The one thing that mom would love to grow is some clover. She would love to see the front and side gardens filled with it. The seed for it though is a bit out of our price range. We do have some clover out there but not like it was two years ago.

Now, insects, squirrels and deer are not the only pests we have to watch out for. The worst pest we have around here are the two-legged skunks. Every once in a while, someone comes through and helps himself/herself to our persimmons and tomatoes. The year before last, our persimmons disappeared overnight. Five years ago, someone helped themselves to almost a bushel of tomatoes.

Over the last year, I cut out almost every article pertaining to the “how to” of gardening. Some are informative though will not be needed until later this summer. I will be pouring over them to see what I need to be doing.

One thing several of the authors usually agree on is that I need to take notes on when I plant and what type of plants I use. I plan to keep notes and write down the plants progress.

How about you? Are you growing any plants this year? Let me know.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Week Starting 2010-03-28

Sunday, March 28

That time of the week again. Again, the same thing happened this week. I did not get too much done. This week had been dedicated to cleaning up and straightening the house. Visitors came this weekend.

The one thing I finally did complete was my preliminary links page on my web site ( Click here to go to Clark Stone’s Link Page). I hope to spend more time on this page in the future.

I think I will change the format for Sunday’s blog post. Change it so that I just post what I accomplished for the previous week. I will no longer list what I will do.

Yet, I may list ten things I want to accomplish for April. That is a post I will put together sometime this week. I still need to prioritize items I need to get accomplished out of the long list that I have assembled.

I have gone over the list of items I wrote out on a piece of 6x9 inch steno paper. The one thing on the list turned out to be a bear to do is replacing the backup light on my car. On most cars, one just pulls the bulb from the socket and put the new one in.

On my vehicle, I had to get tools to remove the light panel off of the trunk lid in order to get the socket out of the lens to change the bulb. I had standard tools and I needed metric. Finally got a 10mm socket and replaced the bulb in about fifteen minutes. Then I could get the car inspected.

There are more items but they would not make sense here. I will work on a list for this week and start working on them this week. Whatever the other goals may be, I will continue to work on my great American novel.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Grilling Time


Saturday, March 27

Today, I am starting up the old grill. Mom likes that because it does not heat up the house, and I am the one cooking. It also satisfies the inner firebug within me by allowing me to set something on fire and not get in trouble for it.

Sometimes, I have been accused of being cheap at times. This event may explain that a bit better. When it comes to doing something cheap, I try the cheap way first.

It's not like I don't have the charcoal. I have more oak limbs of various sizes than charcoal. In order to save that charcoal, I use those limbs to cook with.

I start off with two 14- to 16-inch sticks and arrange them up and down in the grill about six to eight inches apart. Then I place smaller sticks across them until I cover the bed of the grill.

Next, small twigs and sticks are tossed in between and on top of the others. The smaller ones catch fire quicker thus helps ignite the larger ones.

After putting a thick layer of these smaller sticks on top, I placed some 1-inch diameter sticks on top. These will be the ones that provide the embers that I cook with.

It would be at this point that I would squirt some lighter fluid onto the sticks and then immediately ignite them. This time, I used something called “Eco-Start Natural Lighter Fuel.” It is a thick green liquid gel that is supposed to be made of natural products. No petroleum used to make it.

Because of this, I had to squirt some of it onto the sticks before placing the top layer of sticks down. The gel stuck to the sticks and was easy to light when the time came to start the fire.

The only downside to the process is that when I finish cooking, I smell like I have been smoked. In other words, I smell delicious and hope to avoid all of those cannibals out there.

The object for the grill today is some ham mom bought a while back. The oak limbs add a smoked flavor to the meat that makes it delicious. Gotta go now. It is done and it is past lunch time. The ham is calling my name. Is it calling yours?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kitty Time

Thursday, March 25

Master here again. This week I planned to reveal how I am able to control, to a certain degree, my human. It is this device that allows me to post to Stone’s blog. By the way, that is a stupid name. Since it should be dedicated to me and my exploits, I believe it should be called a ‘Cat Log’ or ‘clog’ for short.

Oh well, back to my story. My predecessor, Queenie, developed this device that allowed her to control the human. I found it a couple weeks ago and figured out how to work it, but there are glitches in the device. It only works for a chosen few things.

For instance, I managed to convince him to purchase that pouch of catnip from the store. Some acquaintances informed me about this. That way I would not have to wait another few months.

The device allows me to influence his thoughts to a point. Yet, he is stubborn. He still plans to grow some. In my view, he better grow more than “some.” Also, he went outside today to grill some meat, yet, for some reason, he’s not following my hints to ‘feed the kitty.’

He still puts me out on those cold nights and I really hate that. But I think part of that is because his mother tells him to put me out. The device doesn’t work too well on her either.

She told him the other day that I was getting too fat. She didn’t know why Stone fed such a good for nothing cat. I couldn’t believe my ears. Everyone loves cats; she should know that. The supreme being on this planet.

I showed her how useless I am. I went out and caught my own supper. After I left a deposit in her flower garden that is. When I finished playing with it, I set it down at her feet to show her. Should have heard her scream. Also, I think I heard Stone say the last time she climbed into that chair that fast was when he was a young boy. Someone brought over a pet snake.

That was fun to watch. I think I will bring in more of them, after I get through playing with them.

As for Stone, he still refers to me by that moniker, Fuzztail. He came close to calling me by my chosen name last week but managed to overpower that suggestion. Again, a flaw in the device.

Now, the one thing that I have to put on the record is that I am the one who has been feeding Stone all of those great ideas. But for some reason, he keeps dropping the main character of the story out: Master, the Cat.

I’ll just have to continue working on the device. Someday, I may perfect it and then Stone will be mine. For now, I think I’ll go outside and hunt that bird that is singing. It’s starting to cheer me up and I am still hungry.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Story Ideas

Wednesday, March 24

Yesterday, as well as this morning, I spent most of my time looking through newspapers for articles that I can use for story inspiration. I found a few.

I had gotten behind at looking through some of my papers. One paper that I forgot I picked up was a copy of The Wall Street Journal for Thursday, February 18. I found about four or five articles that gave me story ideas to write about (once I get through with my novel).

The stories range from short, a 50-word blurb, to long, a 1,000-plus-word story. I tend to cut them out to use as reference material. I even cut out the “What’s News -" section that has short blurbs about the stories inside the Journal. I would like to add a part to the story where the main character looks through the news summary for possible problems that he may encounter.

This is for my Space Station Short Story Series or what I like to call S5 project. I also think this is a way of planting ideas that may help keep the readers on their toes.

Sometimes, I wonder why I torture myself by going through the paper and collecting articles, because I know I don’t have enough time to write them all. But, I think I am going to have fun trying.

I love to let my mind wander over these topics. And yes, I have heard it before – “Your mind is too small to wandering around on its own.” Big Grin. What I say to those who come after me with the nets, “Catch me if you can! Na, na, na, na, na.

Well, time to get back to my writing. Well, after I repair the backup lights to my car, get it inspected, go by the post office, ……

Sorry to interrupt this post. Due to his bloviating nature, those in control of the electronic spectrum wanted to save on the expenditure of electrons for none essential comments. In other words, we wanted him to shut up.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goals and Accomplishments 100321

Sunday, March 21

Wow, that week went fast. This week ended up similar to last week. I did not get around to what I wanted to do but I did have some successes.

Toward my first goal, I added only 4 new pages to the newsletter I am assembling right now. I will have to buckle down and add pages to it over the next eleven days.

Toward my book, I managed to write three scenes. I wrote about 3000 words toward my work during the week. I am at the point that I need to finish plotting out my book. That will be my goal for this week is to plot out the remainder of the book so I can sit and write it out.

I coded part of my Links page for my web site this past week. I hope to finish it up this week and have it online as well.

As for my web site visit list, I found my way around to another seven sites this week. I like two of the sites. They are

  1. Bookends LLC: A Literary Agency Blog: I Stop Reading When...”
  2. Dystel & Goderich Literary Management: Submitting to an Agent”

This week’s goals

  1. Complete 12 pages to the Nola News Extra
  2. Build 25 scene outlines for my novel
  3. Complete my basic 'link' page for my website
  4. Visit five Web addresses on my "websites to visit list"
  5. Complete five posts to my blog

As for my exercise, I will restart them. Interruptions due to family refugees are about to disappear. I should be able to get back on schedule. The weather is acting screwy as well.

Well, until next week.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Memory Lane

Saturday, March 20

Memory lane is a good place to find ideas for stories. There are some stories that my father or my younger brother told me that I want to turn into short stories. Then there are the memories that I come across that would be good to enhance a story with.

One memory that popped to mind this morning is an occurrence involving our mailbox and birds. This one can be used to add conflict to a story. Now to that memory.

This yearly event usually started in the spring. This epic battle between a pair of birds and my mom started off about four years ago. One day, mom came in saying that the postman missed the mailbox. She picked up the mail that the wind scattered all over the ground.

This went on for about four or five days. One morning, she discovered the mail she put in the mailbox for the carrier to pick up had been scattered on the ground. When she looked into the mailbox, she found nesting material. This started a yearly battle.

She would pull the nesting material out to put in the mail, and the birds pulled the mail out to build their nest. Eventually, the birds got the hint and find another place for their nest.

It started up again this week. I found a letter on the ground that shouldn’t been there. It has not gotten to the level it did the first time we encountered this problem but spring starts sometime tomorrow.

As usual, I wonder how I can use this in writing. It may not be a bird but some other animal that can interfere with the protagonist or even the antagonist. The protagonist is expecting to find something left the way s/he left it but then discovers an odd animal had made hash work of it. Almost like a “dog ate my homework” moment.

Well, until tomorrow, have a nice day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Feeling Strange

Friday, March 19

Sometimes I get this strange feeling that someone is trying to take control of my mind. Fuzztail, my cat, is curled up next to me, but I have a scratch on my arm that I don’t remember seeing before.

I did get a great thought earlier this week. It came to me one day while I held Fuzztail and rubbed her head. Why not try growing a batch of catnip? I picked up a package the other day from the store. Come to find out, not only do cats like it, but it can be used for cooking and catnip tea. I had not realized that it is a herb and is part of the mint family.

My friend, Joey, said that I need a way to protect the plant from the cat or she would get into it. One idea that came up is putting an old shopping cart over it so that the light could get into it yet keep the cats out of it.

I am mulling over other ways I can protect the plant. Joey said if he comes up with another idea, he would let me know. He likes cats, but for some reason, Fuzztail has taken to a snubbing him over the last few days. Oh, well.

Master, uh, I mean Fuzztail, can be quite obstinate at times with certain people. She got mad at us the other day because we moved her out of a chair she had taken a like to. One day, she hopped back up after being pushed out and mom sat on her. If looks could kill, we would have been dead that day. That fuzzy tail swished back and forth as she stood at the door wanting out.

At times, I get the impression that Fuzztail is miffed at me. Who can read a cat’s mind? Then again, I am not sure I want to know.

Goals update:
  1. 4 pages done toward Nola News Extra
  2. Don’t know how many words I got toward my book but I did build and edit three more scenes to my book
  3. This will be my fourth blog post this week.
  4. Removed 205 emails from my email program.
  5. Worked an hour on my Basic Link’s page - hope to have it up on Saturday.
  6. Collected a few links to look over.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Master Speaks Again


Thursday, March 18

Hello, Stone’s cat again. You remember, Master. One of these days I will get him to call me that. I keep commanding him to stop calling me Fuzztail but to no avail. I am just having a bad hair year with it.

At least, my hints on gardening have sunk in. In his garden this year, my human plans on growing some catnip. That way, I don’t have to get online and order my treats.

But, I overheard him say something about getting a grocery-shopping cart to put over it to keep me out of it. If I can find his friend who suggested that, I would show him how sharp my claws are.

Found a new resting place. The problem is that my humans don’t quite understand my intentions. They keep moving me out of my comfortable accommodations. Then one of them sat on me last week. I did not realize they were that serious about those four legged pedestals. I gave them that one concession.

This is to my new friend, Simba. Don’t let that old maid cat get you down. The important part is that you found a human who will do your bidding. Those neck rubs are great but be prepared to bug your human to get them.

Well, my accomplishments for this week includes sleeping on the roof of a couple trucks, napping on the hood of my human’s car and stretching out on the porch. Oh, that bird that kept bopping me in the butt, he won’t do that any more. Actually, he turned out to be very delicious.

If you wonder how I am able to pull this off, I will tell you about it next week. The device is not purrrfected just yet.

Can’t say much about the accomplishments of my human though. He can’t remember how many words he added to his science fiction book. But he completed and edited three scenes. I myself do not believe in science fiction. The only genre I am interested in is called “meeow.” Stories about cats for cats. They are about my adventures of capturing and taming my human. But this is work in progress.

Until next week, Master here. Oh, okay, I will accept Eight Ball. Gotta hurry and post this. My human is slipping from my control. But, not after he gives me the “massage of the week.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Disruptions


Tuesday, March 16

I really do not like disruptions too much. I love visitors but hate that they end up being disruptions to my routine.

Sunday night, my two nephews showed up because of some type of scuffle. I am not sure what happened, but it involved my youngest nephew being jumped by a couple guys who wanted to get to his older brother.

In short, they came over to spend the night to keep out of trouble and that threw off my Monday. They are still around, but I am forging on.

There is more to this story than I am telling you now but I have more on it entered into my journal. The reason I am writing about this is because I might be able to use this in one of my stories. This is a form of conflict and conflict is one thing that help makes a story interesting.

If I can throw a monkey wrench in my character’s routine, then I may have a comedic scene that has him/her juggling things to get back on track. Whether or not I can pull it off, that still remains to be seen.

But, I intend on using the incident in a future short story. Even if it turns out to be just a red herring.

Goals update:
  1. 4 pages done toward Nola News Extra
  2. 1800 words toward my novel
  3. Completed one blog post
  4. and removed 135 emails from my email program.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Goals and Accomplishments 100314


Sunday, March 14

That time of the week again! Fewer successes this week. I feel good about the successes though.

The newsletter now has six pages toward the Nola News Extra for Nola Stars. I know; I did not make the ten pages I wanted but six is better than none.

My conference blog post had to be my easiest goal this past week. I got it out of the way on Tuesday. But as for writing five posts for this week, I missed it by one. Yea, I know, my cat snuck onto my computer and did one but it counts.

Out of the seven web sites I visited, two of them had information that interested me. The first one is a blog post on the Bookends LLC: A Literary Agency blog site. The post is titled “Word Count.” The other is a blog named Guide to Literary Agents with the post titled “Ten Reasons Why an Agent Stops Reading.”

Both articles are informative and gave me information I had not seen before. I have not figured out what I will do with these. I may put them in my ‘link list’ if I finally get around to building it.

The other five sites I checked out were either outdated, no longer existent or not relevant to me.

As for my word count toward my novel, I made a grand total of about 800 words this week. Just need to force myself to sit down and write. I made some headway toward one of my articles but still need to work on them. As for my ‘link’ page, I did not look at it at all.

As for my goals this week, they will be pretty much the same as last week’s (again I'm placing them in the order of importance.):

  1. Complete 10 pages to the Nola News Extra
  2. Write 10,000 words toward my novel
  3. Build article "Email to the Rescue - Saving your data via email and your server."
  4. Build article "The Backup Schedule - What needs to be backed up and when"
  5. Work on my basic 'link' page for my website
  6. Visit five Web addresses on my "websites to visit list"
  7. Complete five posts to my blog
  8. Clean 200 emails from my email program

One change I will institute this week is that I will note the progress of my work toward my goals every day instead of at the end of .

Toward my exercises, I have restarted them but need to ramp them up a bit more. Since the weather has finally gotten warmer, I will add walking to my schedule. I plan to take my notes and my voice recorder and see about building on my novel.

Today, I restarted my food journal. I will catalog everything I eat in an attempt to lower my consumption. It worked before and I have to stick by it. I also plan to build a menu of proper foods that I should be eating. I’ll let you know how that turns out.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty


Thursday, March 11

Oh, how I hate that phrase but I feel that it best describes this irony of this post. The title should be "Here Slave, Slave, Slave." since I will be talking about my human.

Hello, my name is Eight Ball. I prefer to be called Master though Stone calls me Fuzztail. I show up one day experiencing a bad-hair day with my tail and that is what he named me.

I let him think I am his cat but we all know better. When I need a massage, I rub against his leg and start purring and thus instant massage. Though there are times he neglects my needs. My hourly massage sessions have dwindled down to once every couple hours.

Then when I try to remind him of my needs, what does he do? Puts me outside. Then there is my diet. I command roasted turkey or broiled chicken. He fills this dirty bowl with these hard crunchy pieces of cereal. At least, I can go outside and find some fresh food, though I don’t like to hunt for it. I like it better when it just walks by. Then, it's playtime.

Better yet, Stone could catch them for me and then give them to me to play with and eat. I even brought one back to him to show him what he needed to bring to me for my entertainment and nutritional needs. He just puts me and it back outside. I'll try later with his mom.

So, today, I wanted to let off some steam about Stone. As for repercussions, he knows better to refuse me my catnip. I know where he hides his chocolate.

Bye now, and see ya next week. Meow!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Bonehead Move

Wednesday, March 10

It is at the end of the Written in the Stars conference, and I’ve packed my bags to get ready to go home. On Sunday morning, I planned to go meet some fellow writers at an IHOP for breakfast.

So, the time for me to leave and I took two pieces of luggage (actually tote bags stuffed with things) to the car with me. When I got to the car, I discovered I did not have my keys. I remember seeing them on the bed the night before. My conclusion – I packed them in my luggage or tote bag.

First, to search the two totes I took to my car. After a few moments, I find myself standing in the parking lot with items from my tote bags scattered across the trunk of my car. The keys were not in there. I took out my wallet (where I keep the spare door/trunk key – another long story) and opened the trunk to put the repacked tote bags into.

Next step, to remove the contents from my suitcase and tote bags up in my hotel room. Barely got everything back into them when I finished searching. They, the keys, were nowhere to be found. After checking my computer bag, the desk and under the bed, I was still no closer to finding my keys.

Now, the only thing I did not check yet was my camera bag. If you know me, I usually carry that camera bag everywhere I go. It sat on the bed daring me to open it and I did. I’ll be, there was my keys staring up at me.

Now, talking about a bonehead move, I had one there. It turns out that I had my keys with me the whole time but did not know it. I do not remember putting them in there.

Now, why don’t I keep them in my pants. Well, the sweatpants I wore had a bad habit of sliding down as I walk. It did it especially if I have heavy objects in my pockets. Thus, I either carried my keys or put them in a tote bag.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Conference Notes

Tuesday, March 9

I missed the conference already. It went too fast, and before I knew it, BAM, it was over. Yes, I am talking about the NOLA STARs Written in the Stars Conference.

100 people attended the conference, including speakers/editors/agents. When I attend these events, I always come away with new knowledge that I can use toward my writing.

This year, I finally took the plunge and made an editor and an agent appointment so that I can pitch my book: A sci-fi action thriller of about 100,000 words. I worked summing up my pitch and placing those summaries on note cards. I rewrote those cards six times and still managed to screw up.

The appointments definitely opened my eyes. During the first appointment – my morning agent appointment – I felt like a babbling idiot. (Big Grin) I seemed to rush through my pitch.

Realizing my error, I reworked my pitch a couple more times and trimmed down my notes before my afternoon appointment with the editor. This time, I had my notes organized and trimmed down. Yet, rewriting them that many times, I found myself giving my pitch in a more relaxed and confident manner without referring to my notes once.

Both the editor and agent told me to send in a query letter on my book to an associate who handled science fiction. But, I think I have to finish the book first. With it almost at the halfway mark, I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of March. Then I will begin to polish it up as I learn to write a query letter.

The conference turned out great and I had fun. Though, I did throw my diet out the window. Who wouldn’t with all of that good food to eat?

I enjoyed getting reacquainted with old friends and making new ones. Looking forward to next year's conference already.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Goals and Accomplishments 100307


Monday, March 8

That time of the week again! Here are my successes and failures for the week.

I succeeded in completing the first three items of my list from last week. The Nola Stars conference was great. I quite enjoyed it. The only thing I missed putting on my packing list this time was my supply of coffee creamer. One little bitty packet that they put in your coffee up in your room is not enough. And I did get the newsletter completed last Sunday.

My partial successes have been that I did read some new blogs this week as well as reading a few articles online. As for my writing of my blog posts, I missed that by one post. The excitement of the upcoming conference interfered. I got about a thousand words toward my novel and worked on the book's outline.

My goals for this week (again I'm placing them in the order of importance.):
  1. Write 10,000 words toward my novel
  2. Build article "Email to the Rescue - Saving your data via email and your server."
  3. Build article "The Backup Schedule - What needs to be backed up and when"
  4. Work on my basic 'link' page for my website
  5. Write a blog on my conference experience
  6. Visit five Web addresses on my "websites to visit list"
  7. Complete five posts to my blog
  8. Complete 10 pages to the Nola News Extra

As for my exercise and diet, that flew out the window when I went to the conference. I will spend this week getting back into the groove of things. The exercise I did over the last few weeks gave me the energy to do more things at the conference this year.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Conference Bound

Thursday, March 4

Today, my excitement is almost out of control. It is the time of the year for the Written in the Stars Conference that NOLA STARs puts on every year. I can’t wait to met old friends and make new ones. The networking with my fellow writers always re-energizes my writing.

As I always do, I start making a list of things that I want to take to the conference. Some items I may not need but if I do not bring them, I will need them. My list has the usual items of clothing that I want to take. But, I also have medicines that I need for various ailments.

I usually fill two columns of a steno pad page with my list and sometimes put some on the back. This list includes items I need to accomplish days prior to my leaving home. These are trimming my beard and getting a hair cut (The smartass in me wants to say “He got them all cut.” – Big Grin). It also includes purchasing items that I need to take.

In this category, I am working a couple of pitches to give since this is the first year I signed up for an Editor/Agent appointment. Still working on those. I will build note cards on them. Need to make sure I practice it several times tonight and tomorrow. Should have been doing it all week.

Since I know the rooms have microwave ovens, I will take some bags of popcorn. Tea, sweetener and mints because I usually come out with a sore throat. I also bring some salt to make a warm salt water gargle to help sooth my throat.

Other things I pack are my business cards, confirmation number for hotel room, rechargeable batteries, camera, tripod, and hand cream. That covers about a fourth of what is on my list. I keep telling myself that I will build a permanent packing list so that I would not have to keep reinventing the wheel, so to speak, every time I travel somewhere. I did it once but do not know where I put it.

My final item I put on my list and it actually sits at the top of my list is “Make sure your head is screwed on straight before leaving the house.”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oops! My Goof.

Wednesday, March 3

Today, I had planned to do as I did last Wednesday and show how I get ideas from the news. This is going to be a bit hard because I didn't find any stories or titles that caught my interest. I'll try again for next Wednesday.

Now, what should I talk about today? I haven't a clue. One of my favorite columns that appears in the opinion section of the Sunday paper (The Times, Shreveport) is a column called "Nitpickers Notebook." This column discusses the misuse of words that appear in print. These include pointing out needless words, incorrect words, the wrong homonym, etc.

Of those, the one I fear the most is the use of a wrong homonym. I have no problem using their and there. It is the obscure homonyms that get me. Some of these are ringer/wringer, transient/transit, principle/principal, counsel/council/consul, etc. Yes, the second that one may not be a true set in them since they do sound different. Not only do I have a problem with homonyms, so does my Dragon NaturallySpeaking program.

There are other words that drive me nuts when I am working with my stories. Especially when I do not remember how to spell them. Just like the words "wrecking havoc." This is the way I would spell it normally. But when I got online to check it out to make sure, I found out that it's not spelled in that manner. The correct terminology would be wreaking havoc. So, the homonyms wreck/wreak find there way into my list of words to keep up with. The word "wreck" means to demolish or to destroy. The word "wreak" means to commit or to produce.

This is one reason why I like the Internet because it helps me straight on my word use. Usually when I run across one of these words that I have not used in a while, I wonder if I am using the correct spelling or the wrong homonym. I usually highlight the word in green and keep going if I do not want to break my flow of thoughts.

Other any words out there that you are worried about?

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Tree's Revenge


Monday, March 1

Today’s topic: A tree's revenge on a wood-burning stove. This saga started back in April 2009. Actually earlier than that. Mom and dad purchased a wood burning stove back in 1987. This device has helped keep our abode warm throughout the years.

Well, last April, an oak tree in our backyard took its revenge out on the smoke stack connected to the stove for all those years of burning its kindred. The tree would have cut the trailer in half if it weren’t for another oak tree breaking its fall.

Before winter hit, we found someone to repair the chimney which meant part got repaired but other parts were replaced. Everything went okay until four days till Christmas. Suddenly, smoke began backing up into the trailer from every joint of the stove. The cause turned out to be soot clogging up the screen at the top of the stack.

That tree may be acting out its revenge because we have been burning wood from it in the stove.

The very top of the stack can be removed. We had the original repairman come and clean it. It turned out to be an easy fix. He removed the top and tapped it with a stick. Soot dropped to the ground and the screen became unclogged.

The next time it hit (about 4 weeks later) I planned on climbing a ladder to see if I could tap the top with a stick. My weight became a problem. On terra firma, I am fairly sure-footed. On those thin rungs of that ladder, I was not. This time a nephew came to the rescue. We also cut a few holes in the screen to see if that would help.

It did because it lasted over a month. Yesterday, smoke started to seep into the trailer. Apparently, the holes I cut into the screen did help but they were not enough. With my nephew unavailable, we had to come up with another solution.

Out came the slingshot and a handful of marbles. Yes, you read right: A slingshot and marbles. I have not shot a slingshot in over fifteen years. The marbles I got off of eBay (5 pounds of them).

To my surprise, the first marble glanced off of the screen and a large portion of the black material clogging up the screen fell. I guess I was a bit too cocky in that the next four shots missed.

One hit the house and bounced off of the hood of my mom’s car and landed on the hood of my car. The next shot went over the top of the stack by 2 inches. The next two shots went left and then right of the stack. Out of 12 shots, I managed to hit it 5 times. If my aim had been better, I would have only needed the two shots that cleared up the problem.

Why am I telling you this? Hell, I don’t know. I just thought it was an unusual solution to take care of a problem. I will probably try to practice with the slingshot so I can increase my accuracy a bit. I just need to find a way to do it so I won’t lose to many of my marbles.

You see, some are already saying that I have lost my marbles but I still have many of them. If I keep shooting them off though, I would really be losing my marbles.

This brings up a scene I remember in the Robin Williams’ movie,
The Hook. Peter Pan finds a bag of marbles and said to Tinkerbell, “He really did lose his marbles, didn't he?”

Then near the end of the movie, Peter gives Tootles his bag of marbles and Tootles said, “Look Wendy, I haven’t lost my marbles after all.”

I hope this places a smile on your face. On that note, I’ll say, “Have a nice day.” - Clark Stone.