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What A Year…

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What I Did Today- One Year of My Life

Upon meeting my goal and blogging everyday for the 365 days during my 30th year of life I am… a bit tongue-tied as I look back and let out a low whistle. All I can think is, “I did that.” Going from not writing at all in years, to writing an original work of fiction based on one or two things that occurred during my day was not easy. Some days it was not fun (ok, more than ‘some’). But now that it’s done, I feel kinda weird… like I forgot to turn in my homework last night, or something.

So what did I learn?

  1. Blogging is rewarding, time-consuming and definitely worth the work
  2. Interesting things happen to all of us EVERY DAY. If you pay attention, you’ll be amazed.
  3. Family members, friends and strangers learned WAY more about me than I probably intended… oh well.
  4. I can accomplish great things… even when other people tell me I’m crazy. Even when I know that I am…
  5. I love to write.
  6. Some of the best ideas come out of nowhere at 11pm and many times, write themselves.
  7. If I’ve hit a wall and can’t think of a thing to write, taking a long, hot shower is like a miracle elixir for writer’s block. Works almost every time.
  8. WordPress is more than a platform it’s a community, an inspiration, and a creative motivator and I’m so glad I decided to call it my blogging home.

So what’s next?

I’ve thought a lot about this… and I’ve come up with a few things for ‘The Future’. First priority… lots of naps on the couch, catching up on some movies I’ve missed out on and totally being the laziest person ever.

Secondly, while I won’t be blogging everyday, I do still intend on posting from time to time. These posts could be anything from a crafting project, a recipe I’ve tried or some more of my writings. We shall see…

Next ‘big plan’ is I’ll be creating a second blog, in addition to my Guess What I Did Today?blog, I will be launching, Pale On Purpose (P.O.P.) a humorous narrative focusing on those of us who can’t seem to tan, are borderline-transparent and… prefer it that way. It’s not a slam on all of you loverly tanned beauties, it’s more of us pale people are pretty okay too. So stay tuned for that…

He is like a god to us 'pale-o's'

I’ve also recently been accepted into a graduate certificate program for Professional Writing. So yeah… I’ll still be writing, but now will get credit for it! The goal is, hopefully, to land a part-time instructor position teaching composition, writing, english etc. So here goes nothing!!!

This was either a really good idea.... or the worst ever.

I definitely want to go back through this blog, update pictures, proofread the stories and do some general housekeeping stuff. I would like to extract a few of my stories and characters and somehow create one work of fiction that will connect them in a seamless way.. combining their worlds. I also plan on potentially publishing my stories, either a la carte, as they are or beefed up a bit, and also putting them all into a memoire of sorts and trying to get that published, if just for myself.

This is where you come in, dear reader…

In the coming weeks, I think I’ll be reposting some of my favorite stories and I want your input. Do you like them, would you like see more development on any of them, do the have legs to stand on as a short story or character for a novel? You know that type of stuff… Comments, story ideas, thoughts, constructive criticism… it’s all welcome (please be gentle, ha ha!)

Love & Squirrels.

Thanks for reading! ~ Sam

Day #166: The Watch, The Witch & The Wolf

The Story:

“But I don’t understand, I didn’t see any of the signs you said I would, not a one. How can this be true?” McLane boomed in his most menacing voice. The mystic slowly stood and returned the large, brutish man’s stare, seemingly unaffected by the legendary McLane temper, which has been known to reduce even the most courageous of warriors to a quivering mass of cowardice. Seeing the mystic would not be cowed by his usual tactics, McLane warily considered his current options, and was immediately discouraged… and if he was being honest, he was exhausted.

For the last fourteen months, Blane McLane had scoured the Scottish Highlands in search of The Three Signs, as charged by his dying sire as he clung to McLane’s arm before finally succumbing to his wounds. The Three, as they were known amongst the Highland tribes, were magical objects that possessed incredible power and when they were found and brought together there was nothing on earth that could contest their power. As explained by the now deceased Laird McLane to his eldest son and heir, The Three could save their people, if only they were found and brought to their lands, otherwise the McLane line might be obliterated from the face of Scotland by the dastardly English who were set on securing their coastal lands (and crucial ports). That day loomed ever-nearer, and, on the day of his father’s death, McLane was charged with finding The Three and in doing, saving his family and his people.

That had been over a year ago and McLane was no closer to protecting his home and people now as he was that fateful day. The agony of being away from his lands and unable to fend off the encroachers had slowly eaten away at the mighty man- leaving a hollow-eyed shell on the edge of obsession in his stead. For better or worse, McLanes didn’t know the meaning of failure and Blane was no different. So, he had returned to the bowed little man who had, he thought, provided insight through his otherworldly powers on where he would find The Three, ready to split the man in twain if he did not produce what McLane believed had been promised. Before he could even question the man, the mystic had turned to him and said, “So, you have found them. We are saved”.

“What do you play at, old man? I have found nothing, as I told you,” McLane spat.

“Oh, but ye have. There, in that leather pouch around your waist,” the mystic pointed a gnarled finger at the small carrying pouch on McLane’s hip.

“There’s nothing, just some coins and a small keepsake given to me by a child in one of the villages we passed through,” McLane said as he emptied the contents of the pouch onto the table in front of the man. Plucking the keepsake from the pile of coins, the mystic peered closely at the small, round object. It appeared to be forged from a type of alloy or perhaps even silver and was about the size of a large pebble or small stone. Turning the thing over and over in his hands, the old man closed his eyes and worked his finger to one of its edges causing it to suddenly spring open with a sharp metallic ‘click’.

“What the devil!” McLane exclaimed as he watched the object transform in front of his eyes. Turning the thing towards McLane, the object had somehow transformed it’s and split down the middle. One side looked to just be the shell, or protection of the other side which seemed to be some sort of display.

“This, Laird, is a clock- a time piece, a watch. It can tell the hour of the day or night by counting each moment that passes mechanically and mathematically. It is one of The Three- the watch,” he said with reverence.

McLane had never seen anything like it in his life. Something that could calculate the hour without even conferring with the stars or the sun? The impossibility of it almost overwhelmed him. Where had this strange watch come from? Or… when? Not allowing the improbability of the watch’s existence detour him from his purpose, McLane gathered his wits and asked, “Ok, so I have found one, even without knowing of its true nature. But what of the other two? Do I also possess those in my little pouch?”

“No, no McLane,” the mystic chuckled despite himself, “not in your little pouch, as you call it, but one does stand behind you,” he said and nodded towards a young maiden just outside the mystic’s tent. Confused, McLane turned to where the old man was pointing and had to suppress his own chuckle as he saw that the man was indicating his fifteen-year-old cousin Brìghde, who had joined his convoy several weeks ago after her family fell to the scourge of Britain.

“There must be some mistake, one of The Three cannot possibly me my sweet cousin, she is but fifteen and I know these signs are older than time itself!” McLane declared.

“Ah, but there you are wrong, my Laird. Come child!” The mystic called to Brìghde who quickly did as he bid and timidly entered the tent. “Tell me girl, what be thy name?” he asked. Turning to face his cousin, McLane waited with frustration to see what game the mystic might be at.

“Brìghde,” the young lady answered modestly.

“And do ye know for who ye are named?” the mystic asked.

“Ay, for my mother and her mother before her. But, we all are named for that powerful goddess of the Highlands, wisdom and all things high and good- the goddess Brìghde,” she said as if she had memorized this bit of knowledge for just such an inquest.

“Very good, my child. And, pray tell me, how came you by that lovely pendant that hangs from your neck?” he said and pointed to the item of his interest.

“This?” the girl clutched the pedant in her hand protectively. “It has been in my family for generations, it is very old,” she said proudly. “My mother gave it to me just before-“, Brìghde was quickly overcome by emotion and very nearly began to sob as she thought of her family- all now gone. But, like all McLanes, she was resilient and continued, although chose to skip how she came to inherit the item. “It has a secret,” she said to the mystic. “Mother said if I were ever in trouble or needed to be found if lost, I was to place this to my lips and blow,” Brìghde said as she raised the curious pendant to her lips, and blowing softly into one hollow end, produced a melodic note from the other end.

“Do you know child, that your namesake, that high goddess had a whistle just like that one? In fact, she is the one who crafted such a device. Would it surprise you to know that pendant, the one that now hangs round your neck, is in fact the very whistle forged by the hands of the goddess Brìghde?” the mystic smiled as the girl’s eyes grew huge with surprise. “It’s true, my dearest one. Many have forgotten Brìghde, and those who have not have disgraced her name by calling her witch. But the goddess has not left us, no. She is sleeping, sleeping away until there comes a time when the people need her once again. And do you know how she should be called, when that time arrives?” he asked the girl.

“I must blow this whistle from the highest peak, three times,” she said, her voice pssessing a trance-like quality.  

“That’s right. Your family has served the goddess well to continue her teachings so fastidiously. Well done,” the old man said. Turning to McLane, who had stood in quiet disbelief during this exchange, and said, “You see? That is two of The Three”.

“And the third?” McLane was almost afraid to ask, should his belt somehow reveal itself for a magical lasso or serpent.

“Your belt is safe, McLane,” the mystic said with a chuckle, having read McLane’s thoughts. “But what of that pup I saw chasing its tail by the horses? Might I see it?” he asked obtusely.

Knowing better than to question the man, McLane had his man retrieve the dog. “We found it just yesterday. Half-starved and completely wild. My men thought it could make for a good hunting dog if properly trained, although I have my sincere doubts,” McLane said as the pup was brought inside the tent on a rope lead.

“You have done well to bestow your charity on this beast. And you shall be rewarded. This mangy pup, this wild and starved dog is in fact the final sign of The Three,” the mystic said as he knelt in front of the dog. Covered in dried mud and matted fur, it was hard to get a good idea of the dog’s size and breeding, but by all accounts it looked more than a little like- a wolf. Grabbing a pitcher of water from a bench behind him, the mystic poured some of it on the animal’s chest and began to rub some of the filth from its fur. McLane didn’t have long to wait before he understood what the mystic was doing as the dirt and grime was removed, a large white patch of fur in the shape of a five-pointed star was revealed.

“Just as I knew it would be, this is the one, the final sign- the wolf,” the mystic said and bowed slightly to the animal. As if being acknowledged awoke it’s ‘intelligent self’ the wolf pitched its head forward slightly to return the gesture.

Standing up slowly, the mystic turned to McLane, “Bring The Three to your lands. Brìghde knows what she must do, and she will do it without any time to spare. Once the girl has returned, place the witch within the whistle, the watch and the wolf in a circle of stone during the next full moon. Do these things and your people, your lands, your family will be saved”.

And so the McLanes were able to stay off the English invasion that overtook the lands of their neighbors. To this very day, that coastal patch of land in the Highlands remains the only Scottish land to remain in Scottish hands, in McLane hands.

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Ok, so this one turned into something I wasn’t expecting (serves me right for reading too many ‘historical romance’ novels a few years back). Honestly, this story sprung from three things that happened to me today: I found a watch I have been looking for for like, uh, ever.

Seriously, I have been looking for this EXACT watch for about six years.

I started reading Wicked, by Gregory Macguire (I think his Scottish name might have somehow subconsciously influenced me).

Only on page 49, but totally diggin it so far.

I took our wolf(dog), Zorro, for a walk today, just me and him, for the first time.

What a lovey!

I have kind of a thing for alliteration (I think all word-lovers do) so the idea of writing about a watch, witch and wolf really appealed to me. And boy, did it take off from there. Whew, I’m a little exhausted to tell you the truth. Time for some sleepy time.

Love & Squirrels.

Day #26: I’m the Scat Man!

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The Story:

“What you got here, is a dog who is suffering from depression. He wishes you would stay home more… and the fancy treats? They’re not fooling anyone. Trade in the treats for some TLC and your dog will be back to his chipper self…oh, and those missing Band-Aids? He ate those,” Bernie looked at his clipboard, scratched his chin and added the numbers. “That’ll be $42.50, ma’am,” he said, looking up at the polished woman holding a peach-colored Pomeranian. “Thank you so much, Mr. Dugan. I had no idea Mr. Biggles was suffering because of my social calendar. What you do, it’s some kind of magic! I can’t thank you enough and I will be sure to stay home with Mr. Biggles more,” the woman hugged her bored-looking pooch as she handed Bernie a check. “It’s no problem at all, ma’am; glad to help. If you ever require my services again, please don’t hesitate to call,” he said before turning to his truck and hopping in.

Back at his small, 600 square foot office, Bernie kicked off his shoes at the door where several other pairs lay in a pile before walking directly into the half bathroom and thoroughly washing his hands and forearms. After scrubbing for about five minutes, Bernie dried his hands on a few paper towels and plopping down in the cheap desk chair behind his poorly-made desk. Looking around at the minimal trimmings of his office, the dusty shelves and the one sad looking rubber plant in the corner, Bernie wondered for the thousandth time if he was in the right line of work. Well, ‘line of work’ wasn’t exactly accurate since as far as Bernie could tell he was the only one who did what he did…for a living anyway.

It all started when he was in college. One day as he was walking home from playing a pick-up game of Bocce Ball, Bernie was just stepping off the curb to cross the street when a car came screeching around a corner. Headed right for him, Bernie had no choice but to dive back onto the sidewalk in order to avoid being flattened like a pancake. Not having the chance to select the particular part of the sidewalk to land on, Bernie landed face first into a fresh pile of…well, let’s just say it wasn’t a delicious stack of fudge brownies. Fighting the urge to projectile vomit everywhere, Bernie quickly ran to the gutter of the street and splashed his face with the previous night’s rainwater runoff. While reeling in disgust from his unfortunate facial, Bernie was suddenly possessed by the strange feeling that whatever dog had left that little present on the sidewalk was suffering from a misaligned hip and also wished he had more carrots in his diet. Baffled, Bernie decided he must be coming down with something so he headed home and after a long, loooooonnggggg shower, he got into bed.

The next morning, Bernie felt 100% better and by lunch had almost forgotten the previous day’s face-plant in doggy doo.  Walking to his afternoon math class, Bernie was just about to his classroom’s door when SPLAT! Knowing instantly what had happened, Bernie winced as he looked over at his left shoulder. Sure enough, it was covered in bird… well, let’s just say it wasn’t a scoop of vanilla ice cream. “You’ve got to be kidding!” Bernie yelled. Making a 180 to the Men’s Room, Bernie stripped off his shirt but before he could wash it off in the sink he was overcome by the feeling that the bird responsible for dive-bombing him was a Kite who had just lost her mate and was desperately malnourished since she now had to search for food and protect her nest now that her mate was dead. “This is too weird,” Bernie thought, but before he could help himself he sniffed his shirt and immediately learned that the Kite was 17 months old, she preferred to eat tree frogs, and had a scar over her right eye caused by a sibling squabble when she was still in the nest. “Whoa,” was all the response he could manage.

Things started moving pretty quickly after that. Despite his ‘gift’ Bernie was able to graduate with a business degree and soon opened his own business. “I’m the Scat Man, mom… you know, I figure things out for people based on what their animals tell me through their…you know, their business,” Bernie was getting nowhere. His mom just didn’t understand why her precious son had decided to “throw his life down the toilet” as she was often fond of phrasing it. Bernie stopped trying to explain his work to his family after that… his dating life had pretty much dried up around that time as well.

not to be confused with this guy...

The first few years were the toughest. Convincing people that their pets were upset because their poo told you so, isn’t as easy a sell as you might think. Then he had caught a break. Tabitha Green was the hottest young celebrity of the minute and it seemed she was in a bit of trouble. Having tweeted that she was terribly concerned over the health of her pit-bull puppy, Snookums, she had decided that she would not film any more episodes of Dame Dracula, her hit TV drama, until Snookums was back to normal. Her followers flew into a panic. That’s when Bernie had been contacted. Turns out Tabitha’s assistant was a past client of Bernie’s and she pleaded with him to come right away. Never having heard of Tabitha Green or Dame Dracula, Bernie went and upon arriving asked to see the puppy. “I’ll need you to take him for a walk so he can… you know… go,” (but he didn’t say ‘go’ if you know what I mean). After about 20 minutes Snookums finally did the deed and Bernie set to work. Within two minutes flat Bernie handed the waifish starlet a list of his findings. “Basically, he hates his name. He would like it if you could call him something a bit more masculine, like Butch or Tank. Oh, and apparently one of the PAs keeps giving him grapes from craft services. Grapes are toxic to dogs, so you should find out who is sneaking him grapes and get them to stop,” Bernie said as he handed Tabitha’s assistant the bill and walked to his truck.

Days later, Snookums, now known as Stormtrooper, had made a full recovery and millions of fans exhaled a collective sigh of relief as Tabitha once again joined the cast and the shooting of Dame Dracula continued. Attributing Stormtroopers’ miraculous recovery to the Scat Man: Bernie Dugan, Bernie’s phone was ringing off the hook in a matter of minutes. Before the end of the day, his schedule was booked for six months out. Bernie was in demand. Everyone needed the Scat Man, from the LAPD needing assistance in finding a missing swan to the Cincinnati Zoo requesting his expertise in deciphering why Maxie the Bengal tiger wouldn’t eat to the Miami officials needing his help to eradicate the boa constrictor infestation in the Florida everglades.  

Yep, he had been on top of the world in those days. But that had been 20 years ago, before his popularity had begun to fizzle and people turned to the next big thing, pet psychics, dog whisperers, or whatever else was on TV that week.  Letting out a long sigh as he scanned the few appointments for that week, Bernie wondered if it was time to retire. I mean the man had been sniffing excrement for the last 25 years… that’s bound to wear anyone out. Bernie thought of all the things he would do, if he were to give it up. After about fifteen minutes of daydreaming, Bernie came to the same conclusion he always did after entertaining such thoughts… he wasn’t going anywhere. “Poo is what I do!” he proclaimed to his empty office. With that, he grabbed his hat and headed for the door…singing softly as he went, “I’m the scatman! Ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-bop… ski-bi dibby dib you da dub dub…”

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The Not So Fantastic Reality:

(That song’s in your head now, isn’t it? Brew-ha-ha!)

The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:

ONE:      Today I dealt with a lot of sh*t. Literally. The boyfriend and I volunteered at the animal haven again today, and I swear, half of my time was spent either scooping it, waiting for a dog to do it so I could take the next dog out or avoiding stepping in it (unsuccessfully, I might add). And then, as we loaded back into the car we noticed that some lovely animal had chosen the back window to do their duty all over. The shear amount of excrement on the window is pretty impressive, what kind of animal poops that?!?! Don’t look too close at the picture below if doo doo makes you squeamish. Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Andy (the boyfriend) told me not to write about this delightful subject, citing the “once I start writing about poop there’s no going back from that”. Of course, he may have a point but the challenge was too appealing not to take. My apologies again, everyone.

That's one ginormous turd

TWO:    I played Bocce Ball today for the very first time today. Prior to today, I had no idea what that even was but it looked pretty simple so I gave it a go. Let’s just say that while I won’t be entering any competitions in the foreseeable future, I really enjoyed playing (even if my aim is just a little to the left… all of the time). Dumb luck has to kick in sometime right?

Love & Squirrels.