Friday, January 30, 2009

Random. Oh, so Random.

So I have this bad habit of starting a blog, not having enough to say and not getting back to it. As a result, by the end of the week, I have these random short paragraphs documenting the highlights of my week. So this week, in sort of a anti-climax after my Gardasil rant, I thought I’d post my week in notes. Enjoy.

A bit of a hard night last night. Joe and his friend worked up north all week and just came down for a job today before they head back north. So of course we have to go to the bar. It was a good time and like I told Joe, I’ve had a lot worse headaches in the morning after hanging out with him.

It’s a quiet day today. Our house is going on 150 years old and sometimes it feels its age, drowning out sound, as old houses do, kind of receding into itself and resenting sudden noises. It’s odd. Maybe I just read too much into it. It’s not a creepy old house, that’s my friend Jamie’s family house. Everyone swears its haunted.

I watch a lot of movies while I work, just to have something else to focus on. I like tv series for it especially, since it has the same characters and I don’t have to work that hard at figuring out what’s going on each and every time. I started the tv series "Weeds" today. So far it’s really funny.

I’m exhausted. Haven’t felt well for two days now and not all due to alcohol. On the plus side, it seems like when I’m low energy I get more writing done. I got 3000 words today. Finally.

3,200 words today. Yey. And a gyno visit. More on that later.

Playing catch up today. Hell, everyday. The week has just been weird. But, I got 3,200 words yesterday and one blog already today, so it’s all good.

Good thing I don’t get paid to blog. Who wants to read this junk? Anyway, got 2,000 words yesterday. Not a high point by far, but I finally feel better than I have all week and maybe can get the mojo happening this weekend. It’s supposed to get up in the forties, so Dad and I are crossing our fingers for a horseback ride. He’s also holding out on hauling a load of wood down to our house from the farm as three miles on an open station tractor, uphill both ways and into the wind both ways is far from his idea of fun. (Yes, my Dad went to the country school, uphill and muddy.) Happy Superbowl everyone!

P.S. Pan's Labyrinth, despite the Spanish subtitles, is an awesome film. Scary, but awesome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

To shoot or not to shoot? With those side effects just kill me.

So ladies, and gentlemen as well as I suppose this applies just as much to you, a visit to my gynecologist yesterday for an annual exam has left me perplexed. Pissed is also another appropriate term. Now, I have much unease (aka fear) and distrust in regard to the established medical profession. Namely, because I don’t like needles, but that’s my issue. I greatly respect how far the medical field has come since doctors had to steal bodies out of graveyards in order to study anatomy. However, inoculation is another issue all together. From dealing in livestock, I’m well aware of how drug companies (the same companies that make human medicine make animal medicine, just FYI) push their product using a fear-ad campaign. “Give you chickens this or g-worms will run rampant!” Let’s ignore for the moment that g-worms aren’t a real disease, or even a worm for that matter. It’s the same, I found yesterday, with the medical industry. Anyone else heard of Gardasil? For those who haven’t, it’s a vaccine, developed by Merck, and is supposed to guard against the four most dangerous types of HVP, that’s Human Papillomavirus. There are over a hundred forms of HPV and only four are dangerous, the rest go away on their own. My new doctor highly stressed that I get this vaccine. First of all, it’s expensive; second, it doesn’t offer unlimited protection against cervical cancer (which, by the way, is seriously down in this country as a killer of women); and third, I hate shots, needles, anything of the kind, and this vaccine is a series of three shots. Also, if you’ve had HPV, the vaccine won’t help you at all. So when I got home, I did some digging. I wanted a devil’s advocate opinion on this drug, since it’s been pushed at me for years and I’m fucking tired of it. If I’m going to get a needle stuck in me, it’s going to involve treatment for tetanus or lethal injection. Anything short of that, kiss my ass.

Anyway, here are some relevant websites, and I really recommend you give them some thought, both women and men. Because despite what the “One Less” ads promote, HPV is a male issue too, since men can unknowingly spread HPV to their partners. So read this, do your own sluthing, and if you have the time and inclination, let me know what you think. Oh, and my two favorite lines of these sites? Gardasil is a big public health experiment and one of the ingredients in the vaccine is used to exterminate cockroaches. Oh and check out the side effects on Slutopia. Everything except bald tires and low resale value on your home.

Evil Slutopia: 10 Things You Might Not Know About Gardasil
Evil Slutopia: 10 More Things You Might Not Know About Gardasil
FDA: HPV Factsheet

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tell me how you really feel! (No, really.)

Also, I was wondering, just casually, what the...what? three readers?... of this blog were interested in seeing. I've always written a lot about myself, my writing, the farm, etc. But if readers are interested in other topics, like more in-depth food and farming reports, about the beef industry or small farming in general; more in depth book or film reviews; interesting pieces of research I come across; whatever, I'd be willing to take that into consideration. Hey, I know I can be boring, why should you have to read about it? So drop me a line and let me know what you'd like to see more of, what you love, what you hate, and what you never, ever want to hear about again. No promises you'll get what you want :-) But your voice will be heard.

Vengeance and Porn Stars

I meant to take today off and clean the house, as we’ve done little more than beat back the barnacles for several..erm..weeks. However, best laid plans and all that, and by noon I found myself elbow deep in research for two projects and brainstorming for several more. Overall, considering the week, it was a very productive sort of day. Tomorrow we have plans for supper with Gram, that kind of thing. We still try to do Sunday supper when we can get it together.

Watched some good movies this week. Several of them foreign. So if you shutter over subtitles, ignore them. The first is the 1998 version of “The Count of Monte Cristo.’ It’s like 5 hours of vengeance. Good time. All in French, so learn to love those subtitles. After something like the first three hours I kept inserting French words into my normally English thoughts. But that’s another issue.

Also good, surprisingly enough, was “Adored: The Diary of a Porn Star.” Warning: if you don’t like watching guy-on-guy, don’t watch this. It’s tastefully done, in my opinion, and the beauty of the film overshadows anything to do with sex.

For a film in English, “Morvern Callar,” based on the book by Alan Werner was good. Again, kind of disturbing, but good. It’s about a girl whose boyfriend offs himself in their Scottish apartment and asks her to get his novel published. She takes his money, sends off the book, and heads to Spain. The publishers love the novel, but she changed the name, so they think she wrote it. A very visual film and without the big Hollywood explosions.

So, those are the main movie picks. Aside from tv series British comedy, such as the series “As Time Goes By” with Judi Dench and Geoffrey Palmer, and “Good Neighbors,” a BBC series about a couple who go self-sufficient in the ‘burbs. That’s just a good time.

As far as books, I’m back into research mode so it’s all about Victorian England, opium, and, strangely enough, U.S. Route 2, from Michigan to Washington state. And of course the usual spooks and shapeshifters, occasional murder mystery, Lolita by Nabokov, and The Golden Bowl by Henry James. What? Unfocused? Me?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Licktubs and hand grenades. (I couldn't think up anything better. Sorry.)

Friday all ready. Where did the week go? Not terribly successful for me, I’m afraid, so hopefully others were more inspired. It’s warmer today, so that’s a relief. Even I’m feeling the drag of winter. The cattle are loving their lick tubs and go through round bales at a less alarming rate. The other night, Maxine ran circles around the calves, who in turn tried to chase her, and Zip got upset at the calves chasing his little sister and started growling at them. Quite the show. Gotta make our own fun this time of year.

Writing has been as slow as the weather. My muse hasn’t forgiven me for the brutal last rewrite. So I read and watch movies, trying to feed the creative side and inspire words on the page. I know I go through these phases of seeming inactivity followed by flurries of work, but each time there’s the insecurity that the flurry will never come. But I’m whining, and whining never gets one anywhere.

I’m reading a Diana Gabaldon novel, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. Can’t put it down. I love how rich Gabaldon’s prose is and the quality of the story is just excellent. And Jamie Fraser? Who doesn’t sit back and go “Damn! Wish I’d written about him.” Just one of those larger than life characters that makes one go all warm and fuzzy.


I’ll be glad to get out of the house this weekend. I got my car back after a week. It spent that time in the shop getting repaired after a minor accident. Someone backed into the car at a party and dented the back end. No one was hurt or even in my car at the time, so it’s all good. But it feels good to have wheels again, even if I didn’t really need to go anywhere. Yesterday was the only day it was a problem, since Dad left the heat lamp on the hydrant in the barn and went to work before realizing he’d left it on. Keep in mind the heat lamp gets scalding hot and smoke comes out of the ground when it’s left on for awhile. And the hydrant is right next to a wooden post. Can anyone say fire hazard? So, unable to drive to the farm myself, and Gram was gone, I had to call around and get a ride down to shut off the heat lamp before it lit the barn on fire. Good times.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bibliophile strikes back

Despite the best of intentions last Thursday, the best laid plans go awry. I missed my dentist appointment, which we rescheduled for later in the day, then ran home to workout, do the farm with Dad, then a night out with Joe, which I needed as I’ve been banging my head against a brick wall in the creative department lately. We saw Gran Torino. Awesome, awesome film. I'm so-so about Clint Eastwood, but this movie was so well done that we talked about it extensively afterward. We watch a lot of movies and some are only passing jokes, like "Oh, you don't want to see Fool's Gold again? Why? It didn't suck enough the first time?"

The weekend went to hell after that. We caught a late breakfast on Friday and I went home to keep warm in front of PBS with a book, a nap, and cookie baking. Saturday and Sunday were more of the same. But, I finished Dracula, Sellevision, an anthology I’ve been working on since June, Harry Potter #7 (read that in a day, couldn’t even put it down to weight train), and started like three or four other books last night. Yeah, I’m a nerd. Also working my way through Smashed by Koren Zailckas and boy does that bring back memories of blackouts past, or rather it didn't. Anyway, not a must read, but very interesting.

So it’s back to checking email and writing, both of which I severely neglected at the end of last week. It’s too cold to work properly some days, especially the ones where the sun never comes out. But today is beautiful, got a fairly early start (already been to town and back), and have a poem under my belt. Dana and I have got our writing/reading group back in motion after the holidays and have big plans for discussion and query/synopses today. Hey, we worked together all through my college papers, might as well join forces trying to market a book. Other than that, it’s cold, I’ve found some yoga routines I like (after years of trying and failing), and if the water hydrant in the barn ever thaws out again, we’ll have it goin’ on.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Life is good.

It’s cold. It’s been cold enough the past two days that even Dad has succumbed to working inside. Luckily the wind isn’t blowing or it would be unbearable out. The sun is shining today and the world looks all crisp with frost edging the trees.

Okay, enough of that bullshit . :-)

Dracula is making me crazy. I’m on the last hundred pages and can’t wait to be finished with it. His eyes can only glow red so many times. It’s a decent book, a good winter read, all the dark hours, but I personally prefer The Count of Monte Cristo or Jane Eyre or Hemingway. But I’m whining. At least I have time to read the classics. I started Smashed by Koren Zailckas last night. So far so good. She is one of the few people writing about alcoholism who doesn’t whine.

Today is all about writing a synopsis and query letters. After much labor, the…what? fourth final draft of the book? is finished. It’s by far the best as yet and I’m really excited about it. I feel like I’m beating a dead horse and that means most of the work is done. I’m all ready off and running on two other projects, the sequel to Taylor #1 and another involving a character called Nina. That one is more fiction, with a touch of magical realism since the old dog and old tractor talk. Both are slow going, however, and maybe getting some queries out will help shake things up in my head. So I’m at the kitchen counter, an open cookbook beside me, covered with notes and sample text, along with notes to the synopsis and query revisions. The coffee has gone bad and Maxine keeps dropping her kong toy on the floor to watch it bounce and roll. Dad is home and the house has that warm, lived-in feel that only winter can bring. I’ve got blank pages waiting to be filled and the faintest whispers of new stories in the making.

Life is good.

Monday, January 12, 2009

People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy. (Anton Chekhov)

Well. It’s Monday. Supposed to be frickin’ cold this week too, like 25 below wind chill. Of course, we always get a week in January that’s just frigid. It’s like the weather guy gets amnesia every year. IT’S WINTER. IT’S COLD. We live in MICHIGAN, PEOPLE! Okay, sorry. I’m over it.

Took the weekend off. So did Dad. He and his partner have been through the gamut on the steel building they’re trying to put together. Nothing’s going right on it and they called it on account of cold this week. Hopefully we can keep water open for the cattle and horses. We got the driveway plowed yesterday and thawed the hydrant in the barn yesterday. We had a bucket of snow nearby in case the heat lamp set something on fire. Dad said by the time he got his glasses on and read how to work the fire extinguisher, the barn would have burnt down. So we went low tech with buckets of snow instead.

We went horseback riding yesterday too. That was great. We hadn’t gone in months. It was beautiful, the world all thick and muffled with snow. There wasn’t much wind and we stayed at a pretty good trot, so we stayed warm enough. Coming back to the barn was cold. It usually is. Maxine went with us and stayed right with the horses the whole time. She wandered off the trail a few times and ran through snow up to her chest, so about eight inches or so, but she didn’t sink all the way to the bottom. Dad and I figured there was about a foot or so of snow. We’re prepping for the storms coming in and the cold. Got the cows hayed up, wood hauled in, and protein tubs out. I got to the grocery store too, so no matter what nature throws at us, we have coffee and carrots.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Bonzo" will be missed

We've had some news this week. I'd like to say sad, but it's more sad for us than the people involved. My dad's longtime friend, Bobby, passed away recently, four years after his wife, Jenny, died of Alzheimer's. I only met him when I was very little, but Dad got to spend some time with him this year when he stayed with Bobby in Oregon. So, whether you knew Bobby or not, send him some good thoughts, though I'm not sure he'll need them. After all, he and Jenny are together again. Good luck to both of them, where ever they might be.

Craig R. "Bobby" Aster
Craig "Bobby" R. Aster April 26, 1949 - January 5, 2009 DALLAS - Gathering: 5 p.m. Sunday, January 11, 2009 at Golden Valley Brew Pub, 980 4th St., McMinnvile. Arrangements by Macy & Son Funeral Directors.

View the obit or leave messages, etc, click here.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Bedknobs, broomsticks, and escaped calves

It’s been a good week so far. We had a bunch of visitors on Wednesday night. Drank a lot of beer and had a lot of laughs, so it’s all good. Writing went fair yesterday, and the day before, but the new story I’m working on doesn’t flow like Taylor usually does. Nina is touchier. I can’t push for words with her the way I can with Taylor. Taylor likes the punishment, I think. Nina just shuts down. It’s sad, isn’t it, how these characters become like real people when writer’s talk about them. Maybe not sad, just… interesting.

Gram called a little bit ago to say a calf or two was out. They duck into the hay barn and then can’t find their way back out again. Most of them have the trick down, but some of them like a little walk-about before going back with mom. Like teenagers going to the movies alone for the first time.

I’ve been re-reading the Harry Potter series this week. Don’t laugh. After Monte Cristo, Shakespeare, and Wives and Daughters, I needed a break. And Dracula gives me nightmares. Not that that is anything new. I haven’t made it through book 6 and 7 before, so I’m pretty excited. It’s been several years since I read any of the other books, so this seemed like a good time. It’s a fun series and one of the few I hate putting down to go to sleep.

We received a wild goose as a gift from a neighbor who hunted our property the other day. I get to learn how to cook it. I’ve never cooked goose before. I’ve been looking up recipes the past couple of days and will try my hand at it tonight. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Two day's worth of blogs in one

It’s been overcast and rather depressing today, even though I’m not one very inclined to the winter blues. The water hydrants are frozen as usual and Maxine is bored as hell. At least they scraped the road on the way to the farm. I almost lost control of the truck and ditched it last night when I went down to pull out a truck stuck in the woods for Dad. I just looked outside and it’s blowing snow. Lovely.

The jury is still out on if bucketing water to the cows in the barn or running hoses from the milk house is the harder chore. By yourself? Probably about the same. The hydrant in the barn was still frozen tonight so I ran hoses from the hydrant by the milk house to Essential and the still-lame cow in the barn. It seemed easier than toting five-gallon water buckets over icy and uneven shit piles. Dad’s been dealing with most of the farm stuff, but he was busy today, so I got to muck it all up instead. No, it’s not as bad as all that. I just get annoyed because it takes me ten or twenty times longer to feed hay than it does Dad. He’s done it for years, so he knows how to maneuver things. But I won’t learn if I don’t do it. See how far that college education is getting me?

I’m not good at meditation. I’m too active, thinking too much. Images and imagined situations invade, whether I’m acknowledging thoughts and not interacting with them or trying to chant or imagine a flame. But today I’m trying to focus down due to an assignment from a project I’ve been working on. So I did a little research on meditation and found these sites useful.
How to Meditate
Discovery Channel - Meditation
Meditation Handbook

It snowed most of the night, I think. Presumably the water hydrant in the barn is still frozen, but I asked Dad to plug in the heat tape so maybe I’ll have something moving by this afternoon. It was pretty cool watering at and after dark last night. Little Peg-Leg Joe (no longer so peg-legged) kept smelling the hose and following me back and forth from the hydrant to the barn and back. He’s just like his momma, chillin’. 119M has always been a pretty laid back cow and seems happy about most everything.

Well, better get meditating. And writing. Urg. No ideas. Yesterday was a wash... I'm this close to starting spring cleaning or baking bread, I'm that frustrated.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Rome: Power and Glory (check it out)

Hope everyone had a good New Year’s. Joe and I partied for three days straight, I swear. Or at least it felt like it. At least I got to lay in bed without a pounding headache and watch movies. Water does wonderful things on top of hours and hours of sleep. (Yeah, the time off kind of continued after I thought it would.) People can always tell when I’m a frustrated writer because I start baking. And then I cook. And then I bake some more. Let’s just say we have a lot of cookies and new meat dishes right now. We also have some foggy weather out and melty snow.

I’ve been reading Shakespeare again. “Titus Andronicus.” It’s not that bad of a play. A for bloodshed and ravished maidens. It seems almost Oedipal with people losing hands instead of eyes. It reads easier than some of the histories, that’s for sure. I can’t ever figure out who’s who in the histories. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has also been hanging out on the kitchen counter, which means I’m reading it over coffee. I’m on chapter 9 and I really like it. Surprisingly. I never used to like scary books. Guess I’m expanding my horizons in my old age (haha). I liked Thoroughbred books more than Goosebumps as a kid. Now its seems like I read a lot more stuff that deals with ghosts, ghouls, and H.P. Lovecraft. Still not into Edgar Allen Poe, but who knows. This time next year… hopefully I’m back reading George Eliot. The nightmares from all this creepy stuff aren’t good for me.

I’m glad the holidays are over. It’s back to normal this week with grocery shopping, dentist appointments, and a regular (or as regular as I ever get) work schedule. I’m not the type to enjoy running around and planning my life around parties. It has been a much-needed break though. I get too absorbed in my own head sometimes. Of course, I’m sure a lot of people do.

Oh, and Dad highly recommends the series Rome: Power and Glory (2000) from the Discovery Channel. We got it through Netflix, but I’m sure it’s available elsewhere. It covers a huge swath of information pertaining to the Roman empire, from beginning to decline, and it’s all pertinent to society today, from the technological developments to the fundamentals of political corruption and methods to control the masses or ‘mob.’ It may not be on the pulse for the environment of the world today, but those with knowledge of history can see themes when they arise and have a more informed idea of causes and effects in terms of world power structures. Or maybe I’m just talking out my ass. But still, the series is highly informative and worth watching twice (this coming from a man who doesn’t care to watch the same movie twice if he can help it).