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Wonderful

A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-

Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.

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Hitched

Last Saturday my brother Robbie got married. It was a grand night, filled with family, fun, love, and some craziness. The venue (Publik Coffee) was near perfect. I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls, so I was impressed with this place the moment we entered. IMG_9622

Families and friends mingled on either side of the room. A testament to how well we all get along. There was very little awkwardness.

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I’ve liked my brothers girlfriend/fiance/wife, Emily since the first time we met. She has the right balance of class and irreverence, which makes her perfect for my brother and our family.

I can admit, there was a time I thought Robbie would never marry (which isn’t a bad thing. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone), so as he stood in front of this room and said his amazing vows, I teared up over and over. More tears were shed when Emily took her turn. When two people have been through hell and fire, then find happiness together, well, I’m a sucker for that sort of story.

Here are some more lovely images.

This was taken just before the toasts.

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First dance. Also, I love dancing at weddings. It is a time when you can just be silly, dance like a crazy person, and have a grand time. The dancing at this wedding was particularly awesome, with all sorts of insanity. I hope there is epic video.

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I really dig this lady next to me, by the way. My wife is top notch.

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See you next week, friends.

 

 

IWSG-September

It’s my favorite time of the year! Summer is waning, and while I am not a huge fan of long, cold, Utah winters, I do love autumn. The temperatures hover in the near perfect zone. Football has started up again. Kids are in school. I don’t have as many yard work responsibilities. I’m calmer.

And I can’t think of a better way to start off this glorious month than with another IWSG post.

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From the website:

-Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! –

Doesn’t that sound great? If you like the way that makes you feel inside, sign up here. You only have to (get to) post once a month, and the feedback is always on point.

September 6 Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in??

My second novel was going to be about a woman trapped by a blizzard in her mountain cabin, confronted by the sudden appearance of her husband who had died from a heart attack ten years previously. He would inform her that he had been sent by God, and that God had decided the world needed purging. He was ashamed of his children and wanted to wash his hands of them, forever. In six months time, humanity would be gone.

Over the course of the winter, she’d engage in back and forth conversations, hoping to convince her husband to intervene with God on behalf of humanity.

I liked the idea, thought it would make a compelling story. About thirty pages in, I realized the book was going to come off very didactic, preachy and arrogant. Also, I was losing interest in the overall arc of the characters. The minor players (out in the big wide world) felt flat, locked into certain behaviors. I didn’t want to scrap the entire concept, but knew the idea needed tweaking.

The story shifted into a science fiction tale, where beings from another world have tasked themselves with taking care of our planet. Frustrated by what they believe is an immoral human attack on the environment, they decide to reset the planet, eliminating the mechanisms that pollute and damage the planet. Most humans and their technology must go.

I had not written sci-fi since I was very young, and I was sure it would be a disaster. Maybe because I kept the story rooted in the 21st century, centered the action around one family (aware of what is happening, but unable to do anything to stop it), and another small band of people, I was able to stay focused, not write outside my ability, create a compelling story.

What surprised me most was the way certain moral dilemmas played out in the book. I tried to write from as neutral a perspective as I could. It was fun to leave certain questions unanswered.

I’m still very proud of the book, and try to push it on anyone willing to read it (you, maybe?). I’m still not completely comfortable writing science fiction, and would never claim to be good at it, but I did enjoy creating this particular book.

Maybe I’ll write a thriller next, or a horror novel. Yeah, that’s it.

 

 

One More

The kids are back in school. Seniors. Their last year of compulsory education has begun, and honestly I don’t know how to feel about it. On a abstract level, I understand that they are nine months away from graduation, a year from 18, from having to really decide in what direction they want to go. As for actually knowing what that will look like, or how it will impact me, I’m clueless. I can only hope I’ve given them enough information, skills and direction to make the best decisions they can.

This transition from summer to the school year feels the same as every other. One day the boys are here, all the time, no real responsibilities, sleeping in, hanging out with friends. The next morning the house takes on a strange stillness. This year, the puppy is taking up some of the slack, and all of my free time, but I’ve still noticed an altered energy. Something is clearly missing, again.

I can’t help but think of myself at their age, my last year of high school in front of me. It seems forever ago and almost like it just happened. I can clearly remember many things that I did, wanted to do, experienced. My kids are different. School is different. They will have a completely different experience than mine, which is just as it should be.

But just like mine, the school year will pass, it will be over before they know it.

If I’m being honest (and I try to be), I’m looking forward to the time when it is just Sheryl and me, alone again. I know how amazing it is to have the empty nest, and while I will always welcome my kids home, I’m excited for the places Sheryl and I will go, as well as the quiet nights when it is just the two of us.

The anticipation is killing me. The possibilities are exciting to ponder.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the lads, the traditional first day of school photos. destry.jpg

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The headless dog photobomb is my favorite.

 

Athena

In October of 2015 the time came to put down our 14 year old German Shepherd, Keyara. Being a stay at home dad (and before that, mostly part time at the library), I’d spent more time with her than anyone else in the family. It isn’t an exaggeration to say I was closer to that dog than most humans. Making the decision to euthanize her was difficult and the actual act was heartbreaking. I still tear up looking at this picture, taken during her last few hours.

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I think of her every day, along with her adopted sister, Sage (who died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 9).

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I had determined I would not be ready to adopt another dog for several years, maybe never. My heart hurt too much, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be over the loss of both my beautiful girls.

Things change and time makes some wounds easier to deal with.

Last Friday, after likely not enough thought or conversation, we took the plunge and adopted another beautiful German Shepherd Puppy.

This is Athena.IMG_9216

She is 11 weeks old, loves to test my patience by chewing on everything in sight, eating pill bugs (rolly-polly, potato bugs) by the dozens, munching on bark mulch faster than I can get it out of her mouth, biting my toes, spilling her water bowl each time I fill it. And we won’t mention bedtime or crate training…

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She is also absolutely adorable. And while I have moments of absolute terror at what we’ve done, hours of depression brought on by too much thinking, I already love her deeply. She makes me laugh with her silly prancing, her determination to get her own way, and the sweet kisses she offers me each day.

She already knows her name, how to sit. We are working on *leave it* (silly bark mulch), and will get to *stay* next week. athena

I know I shouldn’t let her on the bed, but I’m gonna anyway. IMG_9252.JPG

As you might expect, taking care of her requites almost all my time and effort. She has so much to learn, and everything is new to her. My writing has been put on hold, along with almost everything else. That will change as the weeks roll by, and soon enough our routines will be established, and she will not demand as much attention. But for now, I will be mostly absent from Social Media. That will likely be great news to some of you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a puppy to smother with affections.

 

 

 

December IWSG Madness

Hey team!

It is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is time once again for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to gather together, share our writing successes, failures, insecurities, and goals. If you aren’t already a member and you call yourself a writer, you really need to do better. Check us out here if you know what’s good for you-

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

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Special thanks to Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh for his fearless leadership. Also, my good blogging buddy J.H. Moncrieff is among the co-hosts this month. She’s way groovy.

I am actually writing this on Tuesday afternoon. As you are reading this (the Wednesday folk at least), I am somewhere wandering the streets of Manhattan. Lucky me, right? This means I won’t be commenting on other blogs or replying to this one until next week. That makes me a bit sad as I really do enjoy the Wednesday interaction. Hopefully, you will all be as willing to talk to me when I get back.

For the third month in a row, I am answering the suggestion question.

In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there?

My five year plan from five years ago didn’t quite pan out, which makes me a bit hesitant, anxious even, about the next five. My three novels languish on my hard drive. The fourth refused to let me write it. Something about ideas falling apart after 5,000 words or something. It is my first NaNo failure and while I’m not completely discouraged (I’m still working, writing), it is an unexpected and frustrating setback.

That said, I feel like my writing future has potential.

I am still waiting to hear from Black Lawrence Press regarding their chapbook competition and am very hopeful about my chances. I feel I submitted a very good bit of poetry and hope to use any success from that as a springboard.

Short stories are brewing in my head and some older ideas (that were flash pieces or two page efforts) are telling me they’d like to be longer. When that happens (soon, early 2017), these tales will find contests and submission locations to test their legs.

The query efforts will begin again in earnest this Spring, with maybe a resubmit to an agent who gave me a little nibble two years ago. All of this seems like a plan, right?

So, five years from now, I hope the above plan has me writing, submitting, publishing something, still hopeful, determined and happy.

Week Two

Yesterday was my 46th birthday. The day was mostly uneventful and passed by very much like the day before and the day before that. I’m not complaining, really. Those I care most about wished me happy birthday, and I was able to spend the afternoon with the boys and the evening with Sheryl. I am a very fortunate person, could not ask for a better life or better people around me.

The weather has been fantastic all month, with temperatures hovering in the 50’s and 60’s. Yesterday was no exception. Today, the wind and rain have arrived. Snow will soon follow. I like to believe that Autumn hung around just to wish me a fantastic birthday, which I appreciated.

Winter will come. It always does.

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Forty six.

I’m not quite sure what to make of that, but I’m sure birthdays bring out the reflective quality in all of us. Somewhere along the way, the person I see in the mirror is not the same as the image I have in my mind. I am different in almost every  conceivable aspect. My 20 year old self would likely not recognize me if we passed on the street. Older, balder, fatter, all those things that we promise ourselves will never happen, happen. Luckily, aging is less traumatic than I expected, and while I have my melancholic moments, I do my best to look forward rather than wallow in what is gone forever.

I’ve seen what living in the past can do to someone. Watched as they’ve tried to relive and recapture emotions, events, that they somehow think are better, more important than the hear and now, often ignoring those around them who they profess to care for, love. The isolation. The self deprecation.

I’ve spent too much time doing that myself, seen years slip pointlessly by pining for people and things, places. It is soul crushing. Climbing out of that hole was hard and painful.

There are better things ahead of me, I know that. New York City in December, for one. More time with family and friends, vacations, parties, graduations, weddings– The list goes on.

 

Oh, and in case you were wondering, I got records (vinyl) and a clever new laptop for my birthday. And also, if you were wondering, you didn’t get me anything–so you are collectively the worst friends of all time. *wink wink*