This and That

We just spent a few days away, south of the border (they call washrooms restrooms there, and Mars bars are Milky Ways), which meant I didn’t have time to read all the blog posts that dropped into my inbox for the last few days. Which, in turn, made me realise just how prolific my bloggy friends are and how un-prolific I’ve been on the blogging front myself this summer.

But then again, that seems par for the course for me in summer. It gets hot and I get miserable, plus there’s all the canning and other food processing to do, plus there’s company, and trips away, and…

But I’ll spare you further excuses. And just so you can’t say that I never say nothin’, here’s a post for you today. With a picture, no less – highly symbolic, I’m sure: a guy painting a house a brand-new colour, right in the middle of Vancouver. New beginnings. From dated sky-blue to a tidy neutral white. Plus, the painter looks so decorative standing there on his ladder, like somebody put him there just for the sake of the composition. So that counts as significant and meaningful by way of a blog post, no?


Life, the Universe, and New Paint on an Old Building. Happy September, what’s left of it!


What Happens Next? Add To The Story…

Helen over at Journey to Ambeth started a chain story. Check it out! Read all the comments and join the fun. At the moment we’ve got a green-eyed drooling monster menacing the archaeologist in a gloomy crypt…

Helen Glynn Jones

IMG_2594On Thursday I posted my usual Thursday Doors post, although my door this week was blocked up. It happened to tickle the fancy of Craig Boyack, who started to write a tale based upon what he thought was behind the door:

For over a thousand years, the ancient evil remained walled up behind a blessed doorway at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
In the summer of 2016, an overzealous archaeologist detected something behind the wall using electromagnetic sounding equipment…

Then I added another bit:

…entering through the old crypt, the archaeologist made their way through the vaulted chambers, footsteps echoing as they headed deeper into the dark…

Then Craig wrote another bit, adding that maybe we could invite participants:

The smell of moss and rot filled their nostrils. The light failed. A slight dragging noise came from farther down…

So I added another bit:

… the smell grew stronger, but…

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Wordy Wednesday

It seems time is just slipping through my grasp these days. Time, and the ability to generate words. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, but somehow, sitting down at the computer, opening a document, and putting those things into actual words and coherent sentences seems to not be happening.

There’s just been too much other stuff occupying my time and, more importantly, my headspace. For one, there’s a new project I’ve got in the offing which I will tell you about soon. [By the way, did you know that the word “offing” means “the horizon on a sea shore”? So if something is “in the offing”, it’s just showing up on the horizon and about to sail into harbour. I learned that from the annotations the last time I had to read Heart of Darkness in lit class. Anyway…] There’s stories to edit and get ready to publish – yes, they’re still coming. Soon! I promise! And then there’s ordinary life – you know, dust bunnies, family meals, laundry, emails… Between all of that, somehow, elaborate erudition on this blog has been elusive.

Hence the “Wordless Wednesday” posts; one picture being worth etc. etc. And it’s true – sometimes you can say so much with just an image. Why bother spoiling the impact with excessive verbiage? That’s even true for the writer’s craft: sometimes one single verbal image is worth more than pages of exposition (it’s what’s known as the “Show, don’t tell!” rule).

And even right here – I’ve run out of things to say that actually make sense. But I just didn’t want to leave you hanging in cyberspace, thinking that I’ve abandoned you all and gone off to party with the cyber fairies (they throw mean parties, those little critters). I hope that my thoughts will, soon, gel into sense again, so I can once more drop my pearls of wisdom (or witless waffling?) into your path.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with a picture worth of Wordy Wednesday – another act of random refrigerator poetry:

And that, today, was Life, the Universe, and a Wordy Wednesday.

Guest Post: Baby Groot Interviews A.M. Offenwanger

I did a guest post! Baby Groot, who is Kate M. Colby’s writing mascot, interviewed me. Honest, he did! Ask Steve, he was there.

Kate M. Colby

I’ve never done a guest post before. Is that kind of like being a guest speaker, where you get bottles of water and an honorarium? What, no honorarium? Drat. Water bottles, at least? Oh, thank you, Baby Groot. [Takes a sip] So how do we go about this?


You’ll ask me some questions, and I’ll waffle on from there? Sure, no problem. Let’s do this thing. [Squares shoulders, makes an intelligent face.] Go.


Yes, thank you, I’m very glad to be here, too, and to get this chance to talk to your esteemed audience. So what would you like to ask me?

seventh son<I AM GROOT.>

Where do I get the ideas for my writing? Ah yes, that’s a question Us Writers get asked a lot. [Takes on faintly supercilious facial expression, then wipes it off again when she realises…

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Post-a-Quote Day 3

Borage flowers. Another edible (the leaves taste like cucumber). Aren’t they pretty? They’re only about as big as my thumbnail. I love that shade of blue.

So here we are, Day 3 of Post-a-Quote. (Thanks again for the nomination, Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski). To remind you, the rules (which I’m breaking) are:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

And here’s today’s quote, which is, in a sense, a continuation of yesterday’s theme as directed at writers (and other artists):

Don’t be led away by those howls about realism. Remember, pine woods are just as real as pigsties and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.

L. M. Montgomery, Emily’s Quest

(In the book, the advice is addressed to Emily, the main character, a young girl at the beginning of her writing career.)

And yes – yes, Yes, YES!! Pine woods are as real as pigsties, rainbows are as real as rubble. Being an English major, I’ve had my fair share of having to read depressing stories of people being miserable and hopeless (Heart of Darkness, anyone?), wallowing in rubble and pigsties. But misery is not all there is to life.Yes, death is a reality, but so is birth. Like Luther planting apple trees in the face of doom, Emily writes about pine woods rather than pigsties – it’s the writer’s raspberry at the doom of the world. So there!

Life, the Universe, and Our Final Quote of the Day. Anyone have a favourite to share?

Post-a-Quote Day 2

So here, people, is my quote for Day 2 of the Post-A-Quote challenge (which, once again, I was nominated for by Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski. Thanks, guys!). To remind you, the rules are:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

Point #3, done; point #2, don’t wanna today; point #1, here goes:

Even if the world were to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.
(Martin Luther)

I haven’t planted me an apple tree yet, but I’m starting with edible flowers (calendula and nasturtiums, here).

Well, it’s supposedly by Martin Luther. This quote is actually somewhat apocryphal; it’s impossible to find the precise source for it. It’s also sometimes cited in its expanded version, where Luther states that in spite of the impending doom he would also still today pay off his debts and father a child. (Tradition is silent on what his wife Käthe’s opinion on the latter point was.)

I love this quote for its unabashed hopefulness; for its cheerful opposition to gloom-and-doom prophecies and the despair that follows in their wake. It blows a raspberry at the collective naysayers of the world. Yes, there’s darkness in the world – but in spite of it: Plant trees! Be honest with your neighbour! Make babies! And, as I’m sure Luther himself would have added (for that, we actually have documented sources), enjoy a good dinner with your friends and family in the meantime.

And that’s Life, the Universe, and Today’s Daily Quote. One more tomorrow.

Post-a-Quote Day 1

I was going to show you my dragonsbane plant, but it’s looking pathetic right now. So here’s a shot of the purple peavine which grows right next to it.

Happy Canada Day, and Happy First Day of Camp NaNoWriMo!

And on that note, Zach Chopchinski and Kate M. Colby , who just happen to be two of my Camp Nano cabin mates, have done it again: they’ve both nominated me for yet another blogger challenge. This one’s a bit easier: it’s the post-a-quote challenge. I can do that, yup, not a problem.  These are the rules:

* Post one quotation a day for three days (they can be from other sources or one of your own).
* Nominate 3 other bloggers to participate per post.
* Thank the blogger who nominated you.

I think I’m going to rebel yet again and not actually follow rule #2 every single day – so there.
But for day one, here’s my round of nominations (more, ahem, cabin mates). Feel free to ignore them, bloggy friends (and pass the marshmallows).
E. L. Bates

And thanks, Zach and Kate! Esteemed readers, do hop over to their blogs and check out their posts and their books (Zach’s is out, Kate’s not yet – but what she’s been saying about it sure looks good!).

Anyway, on to quoting. Here’s one that I used to have as a signature line in my emails for the longest time. I have no idea who said it first (if you do, let me know so I can attribute it properly).

Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup. (Anonymous)

I think this is very good advice; words of wisdom to live by. I have taken it to heart for many years now, and can assure you that it is an effective way to avoid draconian botherations. Of course, I usually don’t have too many problems with dragons anyway – I haven’t seen even one tiny little one in my garden since I planted dragonsbane (tarragon).

Life, the Universe, and Today’s Quote #1. Stay tuned for more tomorrow.

PS: There are still a couple of spots left in our Camp Nano cabin – if you want to participate, give me your username and I’ll send you an invitation. Writing is more fun with others to complain to!

Allergic to E

Scrabble_letter_ESo I’ve been nominated twice for this challenge – thanks so much, Kate M. Colby and Zach Chopchinski. But seeing as I was a little busy graduating last week when they posted this, I didn’t get around to it then. But I guess I better buckle down and meet this challenge now.
The idea is to write a paragraph, in the English language, without using the letter e. So it can’t be about Extraordinarily Exciteable Elephants, absolutely none; or Effusive Elves, either.

I’m not very good at treating words like nothing but permutations of letter patterns – for me, language is about nuance of meaning and, to a lesser degree, sound. I’m lousy at Scrabble or crossword puzzles. So this wasn’t easy. But I did it anyway, just because.
Here goes (or, in the spirit of the challenge, That’s It):

This is a paragraph construction without that most common form, that fifth mark of all marks which construct words, among d and f. Sadly, it is too difficult to say anything of sanity without calling on its aid, so I shall quit trying. Good luck to all who want to sail into this trial.

One of the rules of the challenge is to pass it on to five other bloggers, but, actually, I feel rebellious. I can’t think of five others I’d want to inflict this on. So if you’re a blogger, and you feel like trying this, go for it – you can even say I nominated you if you want. You’re welcome. (And if you’re not a bloggy person but are itching to try this, leave an e-less paragraph in the comments. Come on, you know you want to!)

Life, the Universe, and the Letter E. Exceptionally excellent effusions.

This & That & CAT AND MOUSE

I have things I was going to tell you about. Marmalade, and Charles Dickens, and watching the last episode of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time and what I think of it. But we’ll leave that for later, because right now the big excitement is that it’s only two more days until Cat and Mouse is available for actual sale in actual, um, virtual, um, online book stores.

Steve was complaining that he hadn’t had enough screen time recently, so I let him and Horatio model the print copy of Cat and Mouse. He was also complaining that there aren’t enough bears in my writing, and I’m sorry to say this book is no exception. Not a single bear in sight, in this or in Seventh Son. But of course, there’s cats, so that’s where Horatio comes in. Well, a tiger is a cat; so even though there are no tigers in Cat and Mouse, only domestic cats, I thought he’d be a suitable advertising model.

The picture also gives you an idea of the size of those two. Some friends who’ve met Steve in real life were surprised at how small he is. He’s a Gund, only 9″ (22cm) on his tippy-toes, 6″ (15cm) when he’s sitting – but I guess his screen persona comes across as much bigger. He’s a large bear on the inside.

So here they are. Doesn’t Cat and Mouse look lovely?

Steve, Horatio, Cat & Mouse

But there’s one more thing I had to share with you. I just got this awesome comment on my “Clean Air” post from the other day. You know the one where I rant about rude, inconsiderate, pushy salespeople with tunnel vision about their product? Here’s the comment, verbatim:

“it is great to see about air purifier . how many people know about air purifier we should know about air purifier this the mean thing so everybody should know about air purifier you can check about air purifier here [spam link]”.

I liked that comment so much, I left it up, with the guy’s name and links removed (wouldn’t want to risk even the slightest chance of giving him any business from his spam). Gotta love it when spammers make your point for you.

So, just a couple more days, and you can have Cat and Mouse in your sweaty little hands – umm, on your sweaty little Kindles and Kobos and iPhones and computer screens. The hardcopies will be a bit longer in coming; I’ll let you know when I’ve got some on hand for locals to buy from me directly, or you can order it yourself from Amazon US or Europe (Amazon Canada will take longer).

Life, the Universe, This and That and Cat and Mouse. Steve and Horatio say hello.

Lost Comments

I recently lost a whole bunch of comments off this blog. For the last month, WordPress wasn’t sending me any notifications about comments, like they were supposed to have done. Oh, they still sent me notifications of “likes” and “follows” – but that’s what really threw me off, because I didn’t notice that it was just the comment notifications that weren’t happening.

Well, needless to say I was miffed. Darn WordPress, making me miss such gems as Linda’s comment on the gingerbread (you should check it out; she’s got a really great story about her family’s English traditions. Dressed-up gingerbread men, who’d have thunk?). I was not impressed with this (the missing comment notifications, I mean); comments are important to me – it means people are actually reading my ramblings, and paying attention to them.

So after I made sure all the right buttons in my Blog Settings were checked, and turning them off and on again just to make sure they really were checked properly and not just pretending to, I went on a Google hunt (that’s hunting with Google, not hunting the wild and elusive Google – sort of like bow hunting as opposed to fox hunting) to try to figure out why WordPress was withholding information from me. And I found all sorts of old threads on help forums by people who had the same problem with vanishing comment notifications. Unfortunately, none of them had any real solutions – apparently sometimes these things just happen in the Land of Pressed Words. Sigh. Now what?

And then, when I was just about ready to give up in disgust and settle myself to a future devoid of comment notification emails (I know, it sounds bleak, doesn’t it?), I tried one more thing: I took a close look at my email program (Thunderbird, in case you’re wondering). I had already looked at the junk folder, which was entirely empty, so I thought that particular solution had already been tested and found wanting. But there was a little folder called “Gmail”, with one of those triangles beside it that denote further content. And I clicked on that, and inside it were all those sub-folders, including one called “Spam”. And it said in bold, fat, black letters that it had twenty-five messages in it.

Steve tantrum
Steve looking disdainful at my silliness

You guessed it: that’s where all my lost comment notifications had gone. Along with new-post notifications for several blogs I follow. There they all were, fat, bold, and unread. D’uh…

So, I had to beg WordPress’ pardon for maligning it so loudly to my friends and family. And feel slightly sheepish for not having looked more closely at those folders. And learned another lesson: in case of doubt, click on the triangle. In fact, keep clicking on triangles wherever you find them; eventually you will get to the solution.

Life, the Universe, and Lost Comment Notifications. Seek, and you shall find. Happy New Year!