A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2.What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? ~George Orwell

Monday, September 15, 2014

Using Fear to Write

I’m working on a short story called Scared to Death. It’s one of the stories from Body Bags, but I’ve pulled it hoping to, maybe, possibly, enter it in a contest.

What I’m learning from writing this story is that when you write about your own fears, you may sweat, have nightmares and hear things. As a writer, this could work for you.
To use your own fears in stories you must:
  • Revisit your fears if you want to make it real for your reader.
  • Use fear concepts/words as in eyes staring back at you or  breath on my neck but--I'm alone.
  • Write late at night (no really), but be sure you can sleep the next day because you'll be tired.
Speaking of fear
Monday night, after the Sunday night (yes it always ends up that way) where Millie stared out at my pet cemetery in the dark, she acted strange again. This time in the yard, she  was glued to my ankle. Wouldn’t. Didn’t. Leave my ankle. So we went back inside.  

The next night, Millie (thank you, God) went potty first before she and I heard something scream in the field past my pet cemetery. I don't know what it was, but I nearly tore the storm door off getting back inside. Once inside, I remembered Millie. I’d left her outside. So I look out the window, in the door, but she was nowhere in my sight. I knew had no other choice; I had to go back outside to find her. As I tugged at the door to open it  again something brush at my bare ankle. Millie! She had hurried inside, too.

That's my girl.

I am afraid of the dark. Millie is afraid of change, so I bought her first doggy outfit. Millie doesn’t like her new threads at all. She thinks it is eating her alive. To finish off the look, I wanted to put one of her barrettes in her hair, but I then I saw her face.
What's YOUR biggest fear?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Reflection: Love is a Many Fickled Thing

“You are loved beyond imagination. God says so in His inspired and inspiring message to you.”  - Dave Branon

In humans, love is a many fickled thing.   In humans, love is often conditional—even though we say it’s not. We love until it gets too hard, we get too busy or something better comes along.

God never falls out of love with us (John 3:16).
We use the word love loosely when we say I love that car, I love your dress or I love chocolate. Our idea of love is skewed.

But God’s love is deep and pure. Because of his great love for us, he sees past our sin  and flaws (Ephesians 2:4-5).
 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39 (NIV) 

If we feel God doesn't love us, we are thinking in human terms, with our own measure of love for ourselves and for others where it's often conditional and flawed.

“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing”.  Zephaniah 3:17 (KJV)


Source: Holy Bible, bible.gateway.com

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

The Pet Cemetery

Here’s a little funny little story about Millie.
Millie and I walk around the yard for exercise or fun. Sometimes, to step outside the box, we walk alongside the road, but she has rules for road walking like:
  • the temperature cannot be over 80 degrees,
  • no cars must come down the road,
  • no mowers mowing,
  • no wind blowing her hair,
  • and no long distance walking.
If her rules are ignored, Millie displays the Missouri mule syndrome where she sits down and won’t budge. However, Millie loves walking in her yard, except, for—the place.

Her reaction to the place wasn’t evident to me, for weeks. Yes, I saw her vacant stares; her mid-step pauses where there seemed to be an invisible force field stretched across the back end of my property preventing her from crossing. At first, I just figured it was another of her rules, but the next day she did the same and not in a stubborn way. It became a thing.
Finally I got it.

I remembered—my pet cemetery. Buried under the old maple tree is my Yorkshire Terrier, Tiki, who would be 38 years old this year, if she hadn’t died; Rain, my daughter’s blond cat, who rests there; and Suki Aki, my boxer, who would be 24 years old, if she hadn’t died at the age of eleven. For some reason, Millie doesn’t want to walk in that area.
But the creepiest thing happened Sunday night.

Millie decided she would go outside to potty for the first time EVER, in the dark, and I was pleased. Even though I’m a lot little scared of the dark, I was happy to take her outside. She doesn’t like the dark much either, so she hurried along (I could tell), finished her business and started to come back inside when she walked over to the chain link fence, looked through it in the direction of the maple tree and stared.  I wasn't thinking clearly when I followed her gaze. But when I came to my senses, I realized that if I saw the glowing eyes of anything—dead or alive, she would be left outside to defend herself against owls and eagles, so I turned away from the pet cemetery and hurried her inside.
Let me give you this advice, my friends. Never opt to look into the eyes of anything in the dark.

Is Millie seeing anything for real? I don’t know. I really don’t want to know. But I’m thinking she may be a dog medium. It makes sense with all of the trances she goes into when pushed out of her comfort zone. However, she is not taking clients, at this time
One thing I do know, I have an idea for a short story from this experience.   
I know my post is off schedule, posted on Tuesday instead of Monday, but I’m off kilter right now. I may share that with you, too, another day.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Reflection: Secrets

There  is nothing we think or do that God is not aware of. There are no secrets from--God.

"O Lord, you have searched me and known me!

You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.

You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.

Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.

If I say, 'Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,'
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you." Psalm 139 1-12 


Friday, August 22, 2014

How do you try to kill your puppy twice in one week? Part 2

The picture on the right is Millie the first few days after coming home, about 3 pounds. The picture on the left is Millie--today at about 10 pounds and after the two murder attempts.
An outing with Millie, at a state park, turns into a scary moment when two men in a pickup are driving at snail speeds toward us as we’re walking back to the car. (See Part 1 here.)

I had a gut feeling, you know, the kind that Gavin De Becker says to listen to: Get the heck out of there. I unlock the car door, shoved Millie against her wishes inside, and lock the doors again. I stay calm fumble to get my keys in the ignition, dropping them once in the floorboard, but finally starting my car and driving away. Because I am my father's daughter, I drive slowly, stare at their pickup that is now parked at the end of the drive, then stop at the bottom of a little hill, near them, to write down their license plate number—in case of a reported found dead body. YOU KNOW how I work, come on.  

In my rearview mirror, I see that one man had hopped out of the pickup and is now standing in the middle of the road staring at my car because I had stopped —probably memorizing my personalized plates. Again (and yes I blame it on my dad) I turned around and stare back. Then I chicken-on out of there. 

We drive to our next destination, a well-populated place near the dam, where two older women sit on a picnic table chatting and several older men stand in waders in the river--fishing. At this location, my thought is, we can use a sidewalk to meet and greet—easy peasy stuff. I put my window down, a couple of inches, lock the doors from the inside, get out of the car, pull Millie out and set her on the ground before I slam the door shut.

Where are my keys? 

I pat my pocket, look on the ground, look on top of the car, look through the window in the seat, glance at Millie’s mouth (you know why) and pat my pocket again. No keys anywhere. Finally, I wonder if I 've left them in the ignition since I didn't remember hearing a ding. From the other side of the car, I see them in the ignition. What should I do?
  •       Call my parents? I was sure they were in the town I'd just left, shopping.
  •       Call my daughter who has a key, but she's about an hour away saving the minds of patients?
  • Crumble to the pavement and cry? (Because I’m already screaming inside: NO, NO,  NO.)
  • Break the window? And maybe get arrested and have Millie go into animal Foster Care?
  • Call my roadside service for a locksmith? Do I even have locksmith services?
I pat my pocket again and feel my cell phone.  I know that number of my insurance company is in my contacts, but would I be able to call out from within the park? In the past, I could not. I make the call and get automation, but I’m  still hopeful until I choose the number four and the call drops. 

Millie is squirming and panting hard because we’re in the sun and she’s never been out like this before--in the world. At this point, I'm fairly certain, she has visions of fluffy pillows dancing in her head. This is my cue to do the “crumble to the pavement and cry” bit, but I take a deep breath, corral Millie and call again.  The call goes through, I get a person and he says:

  • Are you in a safe place? (Not psychologically)
  • Is the dog out of the car? (Yes, but she’s overheated--do you even care?)
  • Where’s your location?
  • I’m having trouble finding the state park. (It's there.)
  • I found it. (Told you so.)
He informs me that I do have the locksmith service and that he has someone on the way. Then he says he will text me the name of the business coming.

We end our call and almost immediately I get a text saying ETA will be 11:30. It is 10:42 and I pray, “Let it be sooner”.  Millie is growing hotter by the second, so we walk to the picnic table where the two women had been chatting, that is partially shaded and sit down. Even though the day is mild, it’s still too hot at the table, and I still need to use a restroom.

I decide that I have time to walk to  restroom area across from the old fish hatchery if it’s still there (hasn’t been torn down). The problem is that it's a fair distance from where we are and I hate leaving my car with the keys in the ignition with my purse in the trunk, but I feel I have no other choice. We walk down the sidewalk, I’d planned to walk earlier, and Millie stops walking, just stops—won’t budge and gives me her wonky eye look (one eye (Maltese) stares ahead and one eye  (Shih Tzu) stares at you sideways). Then she sits down and that’s it. She's not budging. I reach over and pick her up and say, “You’re right, this isn’t a good idea.”  A man, in waders, walks toward us witnessing my comment and smiles. I say, “She wanted to carry me, but I said no.” I say something else, but can't remember what. He laughs, and we go our separate ways.

I carry her back to the car, stand there for a minute, then look up the hill. The museum! It’s across from the parking lot, up two small hills, over a highway, but I will still be able to see my car and can use the restroom. The only problem is, will they allow Millie inside?

Across the grass we walk. Millie stops to puddle. I pick her up to carry her the rest of the way over the highway and up the next hill. Halfway there, my asthma kicks in and I feel like I’m going to pass out. I wheeze as I walk into the museum. The lobby is full of children. I see a uniformed museum person sitting in the far corner and he sees me. I hurry to the left, to the restroom, but am stopped when a little girl says rather loudly, “I like your dog!” I smile and say thank you and proceed inside the restroom where it is surprisingly empty.

Before I leave the restroom, I carry Millie to the sink and run water in my hand trying to coax her to drink, she does not. I walk outside and sit on the first bench until a second bench becomes available (more shady and secluded) where I sit with Millie on my lap.

Her skin is hot, and she is panting. I’m worried. We sit there a few minutes until I get antsy and head back to the car. Once we're there, I walk to the same picnic table and sit again, holding Millie on my lap. She’s wants down and lies on the concrete.

I look at the water, the fishermen, the dam. I look at the trees, then the barbeque. That’s when I see it—someone had left a skewer behind.  Why didn’t I see it the first time? I pick it up and take it to my car and bend it this way and that until I have a tool to open my door. As I’m sticking it through the opening (for the second time), in my attempt to unlock the door, I see a  tow truck, three times the length of my car, pulling into the driveway of the parking lot.  I rush to put the skewer on the concrete thing I'm parked against, hoping the skewer is not state park property because I’ve sort of ruined it. I wait for him to turn around in the small lot. It is now 11:15 a.m.

It takes two seconds for him to stick a device in the open window and unlock the door. There is NO DING when the door opens. I turn the ignition on and the AC, then put Millie inside her crate . I sign the forms.

After that is done, I give Millie a little drink of water (which in hindsight might have been the wrong thing to do). I put the AC on full blast, and we travel home. We’re three quarters of the way home, and I look back at her in the crate--she's frothing at the mouth. I freak and nearly run off the road looking back. She has puked and is wearing her traumatized look, the one that says to me: What was that? What am I supposed to do now? First time puking for her. She drools the rest of the way home. 

At home, I wash her face and put her down on a pillow where she stays the rest of the day, not moving much, not eating or drinking. Around 8 p.m. she drinks and eats and proceeds to maul me. I am now hopeful she will be okay.  For two days, she's a little weak, but eats and drinks. Poor Millie.

And that my friends, is how you try to kill your puppy twice in one week, although I wouldn’t recommend it.
 (My apologies for the length.) (I am hating Blogger with all might.)