Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I heart Chicago.

My little brother Aaron lives there currently and I really should go down there more often! It's only about a 4 hour drive. Aaron lives in the funky, studenty Hyde Park neighborhood, right next to Nichols Park. There are several colonies of feral Quaker parrots in the area parks. They build big twiggy communal nests, and actually survive the Chicago winters. Pretty cool.
I took Cooper the Wonder Dog with me. He likes cities. He made plenty of friends sitting outside Starbucks. He mostly managed not to embarass me in the park around other dogs. Except for the big Newfoundland who was doing the challenging stare thing. So many people let their dogs run and play offleash in the park. I tried to keep my distance with Cooper (who Does Not Always Play Well with others) but on several occasions had to call out to people to call their dogs away from us. I hate to perpetuate the "mean Rottweiler" thing, but oh well. He's not at all mean, though he can be a butthead. He just doesn't act very cuddly when he's on a leash and unleashed dogs are charging towards us!
One of the nicer things about Chicago - apart from all the cool restaurants and stores and incredible diversity (a word I don't like using for its trendiness but I can't think of a better one right now) is the vast amount of green space. All along the lakeshore, there are miles and miles of parks, trails, little lakes and wooded areas. All very accessible. If I lived there I'd have a bicycle.
But, I cannot afford to live in the heart of Chicago - well, I couldn't afford to buy a place there.
I had to leave Difficult Daphne behind and she got a bit stressed. I feel badly about that. Poor thing. She is very happy that her human is back home, and at least she didn't destroy anything. She just piddled nervously whenever Jennifer came over. She starts agility classes tonight and I'm wondering how she will do. I've gotten her over her fear of Scary Weave Poles in the back yard, so that will be a start.
Day off from painting. Today I have:
Written two articles for G&H. For what that is worth.
Two pieces for EVM. Well almost; I still have to polish one up a bit.
So, that was about 2000 words. Not stellar, but something.
For the first time in my life, had my eyebrows done. Waxing, trimming, tweezing, all that. Wow. What a difference! And only $7.00. I keep taking off my glasses and admiring them.
Well I did a bunch of other stuff too, and it's only 3:30 p.m. Now what? Bike ride perhaps, to keep my middleaged butt from expanding? Now there's a good idea. It's not too hot. I'll take a dog.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I've read up on mosquitos. The wigglers are the larvae, the comma shaped things are the pupa (they don't eat) and both need to breathe air. The will drown underwater and are equipped with breathing tubes. The egg rafts in my little pond look like black grains of rice floating on the surface. The lifestyles of insects are called instars.
Achmed and Pierre eat them all with gusto, including the occasional drowned mosquito I toss in their bowls.

I am going to Chicago this weekend and Jennifer will come look after the dogs so I don't have to put them in a kennel. She will be instructed on the proper collection of instars and how to get them into the Betta bowls. She probably never knew she'd learn odd things like this being a professional petsitter. Jennifer was bitten rather badly by an ill-tempered Cairn Terrier last week, too. My Rottweilers are much nicer and more predictable.

OK, writing and a possible dust up at the EVM Corral. Apparently, some neighborhood groups don't like EVM being present, out of concerns for confidentiality - mainly when discussing local crime. Remember, I live in Murder Capital USA. Anyhow, this has been brought up at meetings I have covered. I dutifully record everything and leave it up to editor Gary to decide what goes to print. On Friday I had a meeting with Gary and he asked me to cover one of the more contentious monthly meetings, and stressed that I use full names whenever I quote. Rather than saying "a member voiced concern that...." or whatever. Which is usually what I do unless it's the president or a city council person or someone of note.
So tonight at the meeting there was quite a heated discussion about EVM's presence, how several people had been "maliciously misquoted" in previous issues and their lives were put in danger because of this. Nobody wanted me there, apparently. Or at least, they didn't want EVM there
Though a city councilman spoke up saying I was one of the good, discreet reporters and "not all their reporters were like G*** V****, some were responsible." Haha.
So, ummm, now what? I suppose I include names because Editor is Boss, but then I'll get glared at in future meetings and people won't trust me. C'est la vie. I'm just She Who Records and everything else I can blame on the Evil Editor.
I think my interviewing skills are not bad, and improving. Except I forgot to get the freakin' last name of the coffee shop owner last week and could not for the life of me find it online. I have to call him back & say, uhhh, hi, remember me? What's your last name? Sheesh.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Hot & sticky.

And I have worked outside all week in 90+ degree heat and drenching humidity. My main living is painting houses; something I've done for many years. I did the trim on a house in Flint, stained a deck in Grand Blanc and gave three estimates. By the time I get home at night and get done with nighttime things - covered a Thursday meeting for EVM, dog class, go out for Mexican food with friends, yard work and so on - I've run out of steam for writing a damn thing.
So far my writing tasks acheived this week:
Set up interview with Ken, owner of Good Beans Cafe.
Finished a total of 63 reviews for insiderpages.
Called around, found out who to talk to about picking up road kill (Genesee County Road Commission.)
Wrote up the Thursday meeting, a whopping 637 words.
So - not a stellar writing week! Oh well. Hot & sticky is my excuse.

I've written a rather successful little book about how to hand pieces of dead animals to your dogs and why it is better than feeding them pellets. Woohoo, ranking is under 10000 this morning. Anyone who's read it, feel free to add a review.
I have two Betta fish and what have I been feeding them - pellets. Now it is summer and there are zillions of skeeter larvae in my little back yard pond. What was I thinking? Duh. Bettas are carnivorous little fish, surely they can eat skeeter larvae? According to my fishie expert friend Martha, yes they can and it's a complete diet too.
So for the last couple of weeks Achmed and Pierre have been hunting skeeter larvae in their two gallon bowls. I have never seen them so animated and happy! They flare up and wave at me hopefully every time I walk past. They get to zip around hunting baby skeeters, stalking them around the leaves and rocks. When they're completely stuffed they take a little rest (do fish fart?) and eye their nervous prey (can larvae get nervous?)
For some reason I find this all very satisfying and primal.
I scoop the larvae up with bowls and run them through a coffee filter.
I am catching the larvae in two forms. Little shrimpy looking things that wiggle very fast, sideways. The other stage looks like black commas and float on the surface looking like wee black seeds until startled. Then they zoom at warp speed to the bottom of the pond and pretend to be seeds again. I am not sure which stage is which but I suspect the commas precede the wigglers.
So this morning the dogs had raw chicken, the fish had baby skeeters, and I'm having coffee and cigarettes.
Birds are twittering insanely and I'm going to walk in the Humane Society dog walk later. Friends are putting on agility demonstrations there so I'm going to hang out and perhaps embarass myself running Cooper. "This is what agility looks like when you and your dog are still learning."

Monday, June 06, 2005

Well that was interesting.

My very first blog.
I'm not yet sure which direction I'll go with this yet, but I thought that along with general musings about All Things Dog, I would use this e-space to track my writing projects.
Today was an unexpected day off from my other work life (as a painting contractor) because the client came back very late from vacation and when I called this morning to confirm, they were still asleep. Oopsie. So, tomorrow, then. And the friend I was going to go see Star Wars with called and postponed untill Thursday. Woohoo! A whole day of unstructured time!
So far I have walked one dog, played with my new camera phone, eaten half a cantaloupe, made several painting client calls, and noodled around online. Oh, and started a blog! My list of writing to-dos for today:
1: Create blog. Done.
2: Set up interview with philanthropist coffee shop owner for my East Village Magazine gig (I've just been upgraded from "reporter" to "staff writer.")
3: Call MDOT at try tracking down someone responsible for picking roadkill off the freeway for an interview. I dunno, I'm sure I can do something writerly with this. Plus I'm curious, in an icky sort of way.
4: Write another painting article for my Garden and Hearth site. I haven't even hit 1000 clicks yet, but what the hell.
5: Pull up my fledgeling book synopsis and try to get it organized enough to actually send to Dominique at T.F.H. Publications.
6: Bang out the remaining 23 business reviews for This is another "what the hell" project, but it shouldn't take more than an hour.

Hey I am so glad the hyperlinks work! I've never known how to do that before.
Now off to do some work before the midafternoon blahs hit me.