Wednesday, June 10, 2015 2 comments

Oh “Snap.”

With Daughter Dearest’s wedding a ways out yet (T minus 350 days and counting, give or take), details are a little squishy. One thing that was settled early: I’m going to do the photo stuff. This will be the second wedding I’ve officially shot; the first was Mom’s second marriage. (Memorable moment there: with no organist, I started whistling Wedding March and the other four or five people in attendance took it up. They’re still together, so it worked out OK.)

So a week or so ago, DD said, “Hey, who are you going to have take the pictures when you’re walking me up the aisle?”

I thought a moment. “Hey, I know! Selfie stick!” I made one a few years ago, long before the name existed, to hoist a small video camera over crowds or other obstructions. Just needs a ball-joint mount, and I have one laying around here somewhere.

“No.”

The challenge of holding a DSLR out on the end of a selfie stick is intriguing, though. Maybe I should ask Other Brother if he remembers that detail (her dad also shot their wedding). I think the wife will probably do the honors, though.


So yesterday, I’m heading to lunch. Daughter Dearest texted me: I love you but if I decide to do this you're not taking them :D and included a link. I was sitting at a stoplight, so I followed the link.

Um… (click to see the full page)
This is something neither of us were aware of before—it’s a photo shoot that the groom gets the morning of the wedding. I guess it’s to warm him up for the night… not that I’ve known many grooms who need warming up.

Anyway.

Being a good father (you can tell, I raised her right!), I responded:

RIGHT.

Monday, June 08, 2015 7 comments

Planter… planted

I started this project last fall, but only now have I finished it.

As you may recall, there was a steep slope between the driveway and the back yard. A couple summers ago, I dug out the eroded pathway and replaced it with concrete-block steps (hosing my left shoulder in the process). I haven’t quite gotten around to filling in the holes just yet, but now I’m a step (pun intended) closer.

Between the steps and the garage was a steep bank about four feet high. It was clay and gravelly rock, supporting nothing but weeds and debris. I long fantasized about digging it out and putting in a planter, and decided to dedicate it to strawberries because Mason does love to pick himself a snack. So last fall, I dug out the bank, throwing the dirt into large (20 gallon?) buckets that once held mineral lick for the in-laws’ cattle and covering them. I poured a concrete footing and built up the sidewalls with concrete blocks. And that’s pretty much where it remained through winter and early spring, because cold weather and mortar mix don’t play well together.

The top really isn’t that uneven… the driveway slopes.

But the weather finally warmed up, and it stopped raining for a little while, and I tackled what I thought was the final step: building the front wall with all the rocks I’d picked up and saved for the job. Trowel, bucket, mortar mix, water, rocks… I spent a pleasant afternoon finding stones that fit the next mark, slathering them with mortar, trying to remember why I thought it fit that way, repeat. I used some shale I’d dug up to make the top a little flatter. I used some old bricks to cover the tops of the concrete blocks. Ta-daaaa!

Now we have a hole!

Done! Or so I thought. The Boy pulled up just as I finished. “Looks nice,” he said, which was good because he’s been doing similar work lately. “But you need to put some bricks behind the rock wall with some rebar so the dirt doesn’t push the wall out.” Fortunately, I had some extra concrete blocks handy, and two 8-foot lengths of rebar laying around. I stacked the bricks, drove the rebar through the holes to hold them in place, and left it all there so the mortar could finish setting up.

The rebar that sticks up gets pounded down…

After a week of warm weather (and rain on the back end), I figured it was time to fill it in. I dragged the buckets over and started shoveling until they were light enough to lift, then dumped the rest in. To my surprise, I had just enough dirt to fill the thing about 6 inches below the top—I thought I’d have plenty of dirt left over. I left it this way for another week to allow the incoming rains to settle the dirt.

Just before dumping the garden soil in. Plants ho!

Another surprise: the dirt didn’t settle all that much. Three huge bags of garden soil topped it off nicely. It’s ready for the strawberry plants!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4 comments

Beyond the Sea of Storms has launched!

Boom!
And… there’s the Launch Cannon! The sixth story in the Accidental Sorcerers series, Beyond the Sea of Storms, takes Sura, Mik, and Bailar… well, you can guess from the title. ;-)

The newly resettled town of Vlis seems an ideal place for Mik to recover from battle-shock—quiet, remote, and on the edge of the Deep Forest. But the Deep Forest has a mind of its own. Soon, Sura’s compulsion to return home takes them farther from home than ever.

Befriended by a Lesser Dragon, hailed as a prophet by the locals, Bailar and his apprentices must find their way in an unfamiliar place. When an invasion forces them to choose sides, Mik must come to grips with his deepest fear to save his friends and innocent folk.

Check out the cover, too!

Links, you say? Glad to oblige:



It will get to Kobo and other eBook stores once Smashwords gets a round tuit. If you’ve been waiting for it, wait no more—hit a link and go!

Sunday, May 24, 2015 3 comments

Indoor-ish Critters

I’ve mentioned Rosie, also known as Doofus, Roomba, and GET OUTTA THE KITCHEN!, on Twitter but I don’t think I’ve done it here.

Making noise, as dogs do
She’s obviously a Boston Terrier, huh? Panda delivered her to FAR Manor around Christmas as “a gift for Mason.” Of course, I was not consulted, and of course the bulk of her care and maintenance falls to me (although Daughter Dearest gives her baths). She displays the occasional cat-like qualities, especially if she’s on the bed and someone slips a hand under the covers, but mostly she’s a dog: loud, smelly, grabs “treats” out of the garbage when she gets a chance, occasionally incontinent, and chews stuff (especially Mason’s toys) when nobody’s looking. Oh, and she’ll drop a fart-bomb and walk away—like she did just now.

Daughter Dearest’s fiancĂ© has Roscoe, one of her brothers. When he brings Roscoe over, things get… well, this is FAR Manor. She tries to hump him.


More recently, Cousin Splat lost the lease on the house he was renting (“It was in the bottom drawer, I swear!”) and brought a cat and her kittens down to the in-laws. Dogs being dogs, they started hunting the kittens, grrr. Wife brought the mom-cat and the last kitten standing to the manor, to live in the garage, and the fiancĂ© adopted the little grey furball right away. That left us with the hollow-flanked mom, who is quickly regaining some weight now that she only has to feed herself. She was a bit shy at first, but now she’s all about getting picked up and cuddled:

Pick me up!
For lack of a better name, I’m calling her Miss Target because that’s what she does (where “target” is the litter box). Wife is fed up with that already, even though it’s just in the garage, and is threatening to send her packing. Maybe we should try a covered litter box, where she has to be in the thing. I’ll try to get a better pic of her… it’ll have to be when she doesn’t know I’m there, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 5 comments

Ring-a-Ding Ding

Welp… Daughter Dearest has gone and made it official:

So, this happened…
I won’t be posting the wedding pics for a year or so, because that’s when they’ve scheduled it. A year and about a week from now. I made a crack about leading the reception crowd in a chant of “EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST! EMPTY NEST!” but the wife said they’ll probably be moving in with us. Oh… well, it’s been a little quiet at FAR Manor lately. There should be plenty of blog-fodder to come.

So here’s a shot of the happy couple…

Here they are!
Oh, and Daughter Dearest is teaching full-time next year! Full-time job, with benefits… maybe he’ll be the househusband. :-P

Now I need a blog name for him. “Baldy” is too obvious, so that’s out.

Saturday, May 16, 2015 4 comments

Ten Years Later…

Still bloggin’ after all these years…

A lot of stuff has happened in ten years, since I began with a post about replacing rotted siding on the gables, racing to beat an incoming thunderstorm. Finding a niche for my writing and ending up with a grandkid were maybe the two biggest changes.

Still, lots of things haven't changed. The in-laws are as much of a PITA as ever, Daughter Dearest is still close at hand (although there are signs on the horizon), and I’m still working at the same place.

TFM has turned into mainly a writing blog in the last few years; I posted serials, short stories, and a lot of #FridayFlash. I plan to change that in the coming year. I got out of the habit of writing flash fiction every week—and with the demise of FridayFlash.org and its move to Facebook (a place I avoid like the in-laws avoid reality), I probably won’t be writing much more flash anyway. On the other hand, I have a couple serials in the works, and I’ll likely be posting them… at writeon.amazon.com. I’ll let y’all know when they’re going up. I’ll continue to do my somewhat-weekly Writing Wibbles on Wednesdays, and maybe an occasional flash. But I’m going to try to redirect TFM to once again being mostly a blog about the people in and around FAR Manor. I’ve made similar pronouncements on earlier blogiversary days in the past, and they didn’t pan out, but that won’t stop me from trying again.

So, here’s to all of you whose comments have kept me blogging! I leave you with the traditional video… I think you’ll guess why I picked this one when you hear the lyrics. I would have rather included this lyrics video, but it isn’t embeddable. Oh well.

And now we start the next ten!

Friday, May 08, 2015 12 comments

Sunset (#FridayFlash)

With fridayflash.org winding down this week, I thought I’d write something about closure as well. It’s not nearly as fun as Chuck Allen’s Closing Time, but Termag’s history calls yet again…



Image source: openclipart.org
“…the blessings of the Creator and the lesser gods be on your journey, and may you find peace and happiness at your destination.” The knot of folk standing on the raft bowed with hands to foreheads; Captain Chelinn and Rathu the warrior-priestess put hands to hearts in response.

Chelinn and Rathu stood side by side, watching as the departing folk poled the raft away from the landing. As the Vliskoyr River’s current caught the raft, they turned and looked sadly back at Vlis, a city dying once more.

“Don’t look back!” Chelinn chided them across water. “Forward you go, to the Gulf and beyond!”

Rathu put a hand on his arm. “Tell me true, old friend,” she said. “Do you think they will take that advice?”

Chelinn’s shoulders slumped. “Nar. But we can hope. How many are left now? Fifty?”

“Fifty-seven, including the staff who cook and clean for us.”

“A thousand souls to this, in a few short years. Bah. I oft accuse Ak’koyr of avoiding the truth, when it is convenient for them to do so. It is time I stop doing the same. I have failed here, Rathu. It is time to gather the rest of the folk and follow that raft downriver.”

“Indeed?” Rathu slid her hand to his shoulder. “I expected you to hold out until the last dozen.”

For the first time that evening, a genuine smile came to Chelinn’s face. “Ha! I still have a surprise or three left in me, you old skullcracker.”

“Flattery? At a time like this?”

“I find that few folk have faith in me now. I must do what I can to keep the few friends I yet have.”

Rathu chuckled, a throaty sound that always made Chelinn—for only a moment—look past the comrade in arms, the dear old friend, and see the woman beneath. “So you failed. Ak’koyr will gloat, but we’ve never cared a half round’s worth for their opinion, eh?”

“True. And… ah. Far too late, I now realize my mistake.”

“You rarely fail, Chelinn. Perhaps the Creator is reminding you to be humble. Where did you—we—go wrong?”

“I did not choose my settlers wisely. I recruited among the disaffected of Ak’koyr, those who hated their rulers. I should have brought in others.”

“Others?”

“Yar. People who wanted more than to wave their pinky at Ak’koyr. Ah, there are some good folk among those I brought here, and they all deserved better than what they had in the First Round. But I should have brought in others. Others who were for Vlis, not just those against Ak’koyr.”

“I understand. Where will all of us go, then?”

“Phylok. Ethtar told me long ago that if this experiment did not work out, I and all who came with me would have a welcome and a home.” He chuckled. “Perhaps he foresaw this outcome. Perhaps that is why I waited this long, so I would not burden the good Protector with enough people to fill North Keep.” Chelinn looked downriver, painted red by the evening sun. “I will rename the barge Sunset. We can give everyone a few days to prepare, then bid this place good-bye. And I’ll send a detailed account home to Dacia. Perhaps Sarna’s grandchildren will find it useful.”

“You’re not going south, then?”

“Nar. I intend to be a thorn in Ak’koyr’s side, as always. I’ll see them too busy regretting my presence to gloat at my failure.”

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