Monday, March 30, 2009

Wood pile stacked! (At least until Dad gets a wild hair or the ground dries out.)

Computer virus or STD or something nasty like that had me down last week but I’m up and running again. Uninstalling Anti-Virus Number 1? Real pain in the ass. I’m not a computer geek so all that shit gets me yelling and stewing. All good though. $30 in new spyware and it’s all good. Apparently, this new bug infects your computer and rots your programs and data. Yummy. Like carpenter ants.

One of the ewes had twin buck lambs last night. She’s one of the black ewes and Dad and I can’t tell them apart, but judging by her bag, it’s the same ewe that had the twin ewe lambs last year. The other ewe’s bag swelled to large the cows got jealous last year so we’re pretty sure it wasn’t her that lambed. No word yet on if we got more lambs today.

Maxine is doing very well, though the whole leash law thing kinda went to hell. Keeping an eight month old puppy on a leash so she won’t overdo it with the other dog? Not gonna happen. She gets herself so tangled that either she or I is gonna break something.

The edits for Debris, my book, oughta be done today. I keep saying that. But these edits feel good, so that’s all I can say, I guess.

Been learning how to draw. Been reading about pirates. Scoping some writing contests and magazines to submit work to. It’s all kinda ho-hum this week without cursing and damning all technology since stone tools all to hell over the anti-virus. Made some awesome pancakes the other day and got to ride horses on Saturday. It’s another nice day today, but the weathers supposed to change, so we’re enjoying it. Something about its Michigan, wait five minutes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

'Riting, Farming, and Reading (The Three Rs...err, wait...)

I’m loving Theory of a Deadman’s “Hate My Life” right now. I think it’s funny in a weird context. Example: the line “I hate my job/ my boss is a dick/ I don’t get paid nearly enough to put up with all of his shit.” In my world, I work for myself, so I think it’s funny. My boss can be a real dick. Okay, maybe it’s just me, but I get a kick out of it.

Worked until almost 1 a.m. last night, so a little slow this morning. Excited about writing today though, so that’s good. Yesterday it just wasn’t there. So I ran errands instead. Maxine went with me and I think she had fun. She likes to look at stuff and smell things. It was nice so I could leave the window down while we drove and let her smell up the town. I tried to be quick so she didn’t have to wait long. Five stops in an hour and a half quick enough?

Dad’s been working on building a mobile chicken coop on an old (see free) snowmobile trailer frame. He likes doing stuff like that, taking old things and making something new. He comes up with some pretty interesting things sometimes. We get to order baby chicks when he gets the coop done and I can start seedlings next week on the full moon. At least I think it’s the full moon. I can’t see the calendar from here and I’m too lazy to get up and look. It’s one of the first years I’ve been excited about spring in a long time. Usually, I greet it grudgingly, since spring means summer is on the way. And summer is fine, but it’s, well, hot.

It’s odd how certain books or authors find you when you’re ready to receive them. I never would have enjoyed Stephen King before now. Granted, the Dark Tower series is different from his other work, but he’s a writer I’ve really learned a lot from about telling the damn story. But I don’t think I would have appreciated it at any other time than right now. I also started the Tao Te Ching last night, Stephen Mitchell’s translation, and wow. That old Chinese guy makes a lot of sense. And Mitchell’s interpretation really helps the process along. I’d try to describe it, but I can’t do it justice. Read the damn book.

Other than that, nothing new. Joseph came out and helped with chores this week and Maxine continues to improve. I can take her stitches out on Monday and she’s been totally off pain meds since the weekend. I can’t even describe the relief. I guess it’s right up there with a child in pain and healing. My animals are like my kids sometimes and I get upset when I can’t fix them. That’s why farming is something you either have in you or you don’t. I can’t control my empathy and need to do what I do anymore than I can change the color of my hair or the drive to write. I can dye it, cover it up, ignore it, but it’s still there, the need to do whatever the hell it is that I do. And it’s easier to learn to channel that energy than go crazy (probably literally) from the ignoring it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Great Prison Break

Made pages already today. YEY! Very encouraging, especially since getting pills down the Maxine has proved increasingly difficult. Yesterday Dad was a hero since he remembered that when I gave pills to the old dog I hid them in peanut butter sandwiches. It took the Old Man Max a few months to get wise to it. It took Maxine about a day. I think she gets suspicious when we give her too many treats. So we’re back to me getting the shit bit around of my hands trying to shove melting gelcap antibiotics down her throat. Oh. Joy. But she’s happy and alive and last week that was all I could have asked for.

Finally got back on track for the third Taylor book. I keep a forward momentum on rough drafts and keep figuring out where I need to go fix the old books. A weird way to write, but it works for this series. The magic system is tricky, since sometimes it surprises even me and if all else fails, throw in a demon or have Tay get pissed and get in a fight. I keep swearing I’ll quit talking about my characters like they’re real people, but so far no luck. Oh well.

Before Maxine got hurt last week, I meant to blog about the great prison break. Last Monday, I get a series of frantic calls from Gram and Dad about 7:30 in the morning. Now, I leave my phone upstairs in the morning and rarely hear it ring while I’m drinking coffee, etc, but I happened to go upstairs and caught like the eighth call and sixth voicemail from Dad and Gram: cows are out. Apparently, Gram opened her curtains and the entire herd, minus the three across the road, were all bedded down in her front garden, watching the morning traffic. I always tell her to just leave ‘em, they’ll go back in, but she got a little spooky and since she couldn’t get ahold of me, the eighty-five year old (I think) went out to try and put them back in herself. Dad had gone to work and was already in Diamondale, so he couldn’t help. Finally, I got down there to find the cow herd across the road at the little house and the big bull and the little bull trying to get at each other across the fence.

Now. I digress for some backstory. Big Red (the big bull) and Little Red (the younger bull) are good buddies. Like really good buddies. We call them Brokeback Bulls around here. Get my drift? All winter they bellow at each other across the fences at sundown like they miss each other so badly. So the jail break comes and both bulls are like, “Cows? What cows? I want him!”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: the cow herd is ambling toward the spring gate on the pasture side of the farm where we wintered the horses and three herd of cattle. The horses are now in the barn, so it’s just Little Red and two heifers. My plan is to get around them and open the gate, then run back and shoo the cows onto pasture. It’s March, but they’ll be contained. Oh well.

Instead, I drop the spring gate and the cows dash the other direction at a dead run, go back across the road, and run right into the barn yard. Score. Except one head. Big Red. I try to use my bull voice, but I’ve just sprinted down the road in heavy winter coats and knee-high rubber boots, and I can’t breathe. Mental note: up the cardio intervals. Anyway, Big Red is running all around, I can’t yell, so I get the reinforcements: Zip. Now Zip doesn’t herd cattle, he explodes them. Usually in the wrong direction. In this case, his track record follows through and he explodes Big Red right across the road to go romance Little Red again. I dash to close the gate on the cows before they escape and tell Gram she can go do what she does. After all, she doesn’t need to be out there helping me herd the bull. She’s scared to death of him, even though he’s one of the nicest, easiest bulls to get along with that I’ve ever known.

Ten minutes later and about six trips sprinting up and down the road, Big Red is lucky I don’t have a shotgun or he’d be a dead, rotting corpse in the middle of State Rd. I try to get him to go in the gate where Little Red and the heifers are, but one heifer escapes and Big Red keeps running past the gate. I can’t keep that gate open without Little Red and 5T escaping, so I try to run him around to the spring gate that’s still open. No luck. Keep in mind: sprinting, mud boots, heavy coats, dog not listening. Do I need to say I cursed the air several shades darker than just blue?

Finally, I backed my car up to the gate, opened it, turned the bull around from his b-line to the next-door neighbor’s yard, and pushed him through the gate. Score!

Then I realized the spring gate across the pasture was still open and Big Red and Little Red are butting heads as they run straight for it.

My bull can cross the pasture in 8 seconds and so can I.

Luckily, Little Red thought the gate was still there, and didn’t get out, but it was a near thing. The escaped red heifer went in a lot easier and I managed to capture all the cattle. Near as we can figure, Big Red or someone got rubbing on the main gate and it fell open. Actually, other than how fucking pissed I was at the goddamn bull, it worked out well. We’d been wanting to pull the bull anyway before he tried to breed the two six month old heifer calves still nursing on their mommas. But Gram’s yard has hoof prints about eight to ten inches deep and she freaked about the foot high piles of cow shit.

Maybe she’ll believe me now when I say the cows won’t go anywhere. Will post updates on how the yard project goes. Dad shut down attempts to get a landscaping service in to spread black dirt and reseed the whole damn thing. (Her lawn is about an acre.) We live on a farm. Animals, regardless of species, get out and make holes. This is far from the first time and surely not the last.

Boy, is she gonna love it when we get a boy and girl pig. ;-)

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The Max is getting better every day. She's bored as all hell, so it's getting increasingly difficult to keep her drugged and calm. She can break the bone either at the original break site or above or below the plate if she gets too wild. And no one accounted for how hard her tail whips from side to side, moving her whole body. Talk about the tail wagging the dog, that's exactly what she looks like. Nights have been good. She wakes Dad up to go out and seems to sleep most of the time. Of course, if she was jumping on and off the couch, neither Dad nor I would be any wiser.

Yesterday and today have been beautiful March days with clear skies and mild (for March) weather. Dad even took over the Max-watch so I could get out and walk around outdoors yesterday afternoon. Mostly its been hang with Max and keep her laying down or at least not cavorting around with her kong.

I got a rejection from a magazine yesterday for a story I submitted. No big deal. I guess if it comes down between that and Maxine I'd rather have the rejection, but still. Rejections build character, right? And short stories have never been my thing.

Been reading Stephen King the past few weeks and have really enjoyed the first two books of The Dark Tower series. I never got into horror, but this is more fantasy oriented and I like Roland the Gunslinger a whole lot. The Grand Ledge library has been a wonderful resource lately for books I want to read but don't want to buy. I also read a book on pumas in Michigan that was very informative. After seeing puma tracks when I lived up north, the big cat has intrigued me ever since. My grandparents used the GL library a lot and said they'd get some books that were good and some that were bad and they wouldn't read. I laughed when I got two books last week that I liked and two that I didn't. Gram knows what she's talking about I guess. But the error didn't cost a thing. Gotta love libraries when you just dropped $900 on a damn dog. ;-)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Maxine Update 4 - Home Again

And here is the baby girl's brand new, reinforced leg.

The Max is home and recovering from surgury. She came through it all like a champ and has a new plate in her leg to match the ones in my jaw. We have a bed on the floor and I'm sitting with her doing the writing thing while she naps. Supposedly, these first few days will be the easiest to keep her down as she's still sore and sleepy. The first two weeks are critical to her recovery and if those go well, she should be back chasing cows in two months, so the middle of May or so. I've been alternatively griping and happy that I work at home lately. Today is one of those days I'm really glad I have this time. And that I'm out of college (oh wait, that's everyday... ;-)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Maxine Update 3 - The last one today I swear

Been sitting with the baby girl and the laptop all day and I smell like dog pee. Or maybe it's just her. I'm not sure. Anyway, she keeps wanting to get up and run around which she isn't quite up too with only three operating appendages, so we've been trying to keep her subdued all day. She has an appointment to get her leg reevaluated and maybe set tomorrow at 9am. Fingers crossed.

Maxine Pics

My poor broke baby. I'm honestly not sure why she looks so wide-eyed surprised. She looks normal when I'm not trying to take a picture.

Maxine Update 2

Well the baby girl made it through the night all right. She even made it outside to pee this morning with a great deal of help and is now exhausted and sleeping more or less comfortably. She's alert and wags her tail hard enough to dent things, like usual, so I'm much more optimistic today. She's on one couch, Zip's on the other, and Dad's in his recliner, so it's pretty dead around the Barclay house today. I'm severly sleep-deprived and likely to nod off myself in a minute now that Maxine seems better. I didn't sleep more than an hour or so last night without having to get up and check on her. Worse than winter calf checks. Of course, I didn't have to put on all my clothes and drive to the barn so score. I'll try to refrain from minute to minute updates on all her moans and groans and bodily functions, but for now she's eating and drinking and passing things through her system. I'll write again when I know more. Keep up the happy thoughts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Max Update 1

My baby girl is quiet and sleeping I think. She quit moaning when Dad went to bed and seems relaxed. It's so frustrating that there's nothing I can do. I can't roll back time, I can't will her leg better. I can't make it right. And that's almost more horrible than her injury. So I sit up and write and read and worry. The vet called and the new vet can't see her until Thursday. ALl I can do is get her to eat and drink. She drank some water earlier and was really into the few pieces of bacon I let her eat. I don't want to give her too much and make her sick. Her ears are up, eyes are bright, she wags her tail and seems better when she can see Dad or I or hear us talking. I just wish there was more I could do. She's my little girl, ya know? This is just killing me.


Our puppy, Maxine, (picture above from last fall) got run over by a truck in the driveway tonight. She's got a broken leg and is in a lot of pain, but we'll know more tomorrow after I take her to a vet who, as our vet put it, "likes to tinker" with breaks like hers. It's not a clean break and bone spur broke off in front, so she's in a lot of pain. I'll try to keep up with updates. Hope for the best everyone.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I'd rather throw firewood than a bowling ball.


It’s a lovely sixty degree day here in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Or around the river bend, as my great aunt used to call this area. The sun’s coming out and my car was clean a few days ago for about forty-five minutes, until the dogs jumped in it. I’ve got to look into some old sheets for, like, the whole car. Maxine jumps for the windshield wipers so there are dog prints on the dashboard and ceiling. (Don’t ask.) It’s getting that time of year where no one can stand being inside anymore and there isn’t enough to do outside yet. Unless you’re Dad. He can find outdoor projects during a blizzard. It’s also the time of year I start getting inklings to clean the house. Spring cleaning for me usually goes over into July, but it ought to be easier this year without a certain ex-someone’s shit stacked from the basement though to the second floor. For some reason the lack of boxes makes it easier to dust and vacuum. I’m really excited about using the run shampooer, especially on the couches. Farm dogs and couches are not good friends. At least not in the dirt and dog hair in the house sense. And even better than cleaning, we get to start plants soon and that’s very fun. I’ve never started garden plants indoors before, but I’m eager to learn. After all, this is why I got fed up with college, no time to get your fingers in the dirt. So one good thing about Michigan’s job loss, I get to gain dirt experience.

It’s rained all weekend. And it looks pretty morose today. We have a lake in the backyard and a sump pump asking for time and a half. Good weekend to read, which I did in abundance. Re-read some old favorites and started Stephen King’s Gunslinger last night. I’m a Stephen King virgin, so I didn’t know what to expect, but so far it’s really interesting. I like the main character, who isn’t likeable at all yet strangely charismatic, a mystery. I mean, he up and shoots the woman he slept with. Wild. And the style is spare and what I call masculine because there isn’t a bunch of description that doesn’t need to be there. Omit. Needless. Words.

I’ve also been reading the online comic The Devil’s Panties. Hilarious. I didn’t quite get the humor at first, but I’ve been going back through the archives and reading old ones and I get it now. One of my favorites is Dec 25, 2002 where the little girl is sitting on Santa’s lap and tells him she wants a Barbie and Xena doll. Doesn’t Barbie come with Ken, Santa asks. No, the little girl says, she comes with Xena and just fakes it with Ken.

So yeah. Loved it. We got seeds and starter pots for the garden this weekend. A very good selection at Lowe's. The pepper plants need started first, 8-10 weeks before frost, followed by tomatoes and eggplants I believe. I even have schemes for an indoor/outdoor herb garden this year will basil, cilantro, and one other than I can't remember right now. It's early and my java hasn't kicked in yet. But I better get my butt down to the farm now that there's enough light to see by and let the cows out to drink. It was raining and blowing too hard last night to open the east barn door. Unless one wanted to take a flying trip to the land of Oz. Have I mentioned how much I fricking hate daylight savings? If I'm ever in hell and find the dumbass prick who invented it, he'll be filleted.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wood and Long Winters

I swear I thought when I got up this morning that I did the blog yesterday. All indications, however, suggest otherwise. Guess I need to quit thinking so hard when I sleep.

Dad and I did wood yesterday, something like seven bucket loads, and we stacked most of it in the wagon so we could fit more in. Lately if he’s gonna make the trip from the farm to the house, Dad wants to make it worthwhile. I’m sore today from working above my head and cursing cuz I’m such a wimp. Time was I never got sore. Of course, I worked a lot harder then and didn’t write nearly this much, was an impossible drunk and suicidally unhappy, so maybe being sore isn’t such a bad deal.

It’s been a strange few days and it still feels like Monday to me. Not in a bad Monday way, just in a haven’t done the whole work thing in the truest sense of the word. But Dad is back to work today, laying linoleum and her sister, so it feels a little more normal around here. If it ever gets normal around here, which I tend to doubt.

Anyway, nothing else that interesting going on. Beautiful weather and I intend on getting outside again today, if nothing else than to walk fences. It’s too nice to stay in and good god its been a long winter.

Monday, March 2, 2009


We picked up Gram from Toledo today. She had a nice time in Florida and wished she could have stayed longer. Too bad my aunt had to go back to work or Gram can’t run around on her own, picking up little old men with hip replacements. It was hard to tell if Gram or her dog missed one another more; both of them were wagging their tails and were all “pitertated” when we got back. Molly (Gram’s dog) is overjoyed to be back at her house. As an only dog who hates pretty much everybody (especially me and my dogs), she’s never happy to stay over with us. We’re too busy for a fuddy-duddy dog like her.

The weekend was good. Joe and I went to a mixed martial arts thing; he knew the guy fighting in the championship fight. I’d never been to anything like it, so it was interesting. It was all local talent, which was cool, but unless the fighters were really good, I couldn’t appreciate it. The good ones were awesome and the guys who wrestled just confused me, since I’ve never wrestled. I can’t appreciate an ankle hold I guess. Dad summed it up pretty well. He wrestled in high school, he said, until he realized he’d rather wrestle with girls than boys. That’s Dad, always the pragmatist.

We boiled maple syrup over the weekend. That was really interesting. I got to help and spend a day in the woods with the guys. They started boiling at 5 a.m., but I didn’t make that. I followed Dad down after lunch, after wrestling with a frozen water hydrant. They started with 200 plus gallons and made about 5 gallons of syrup. Talk about labor intensive! And it takes a lot of beer to boil down that much sap. Maxine went to help gather sap buckets the other day and she decided the water that came out of the trees tasted pretty good. She fueled up on sap and raced around the woods like a mad dervish. Hey, she be Dad’s dog.

It’s sunny today, but bitter cold. About 12 below, Dad said this morning, with the wind chill. Since there’s no humidity, it seems that much sharper. It’s a north wind and that’s always bitter. Better than an eastern wind though, that usually means watery, frozen shit. Never good weather from an east wind.

Well, if I’m gonna get anything done today, I better get to it. For some reason a five hour drive to the Ohio border and back really cuts into the day.