Tear it out!

If you own a home and you are reading this post, you have some form of plant material in your yard that needs to be torn out and replaced. In unison, you all responded with, “yes, weeds”. And that is most likely true, but I’m talking about trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers that you planted. Yes, you!

I’m not talking about the hostas or daylillies that need to be split. Though they probably do. I’m talking about the tree or shrub that turned from the pretty little thing that looked so nice up against the corner of the house, to the monster that now appears to have eaten that same corner and half of the garage as well!

Too much Willow!

Too much Willow!









A few years back I planted two Arctic Blue Willows on either side of the waterfall in my back yard. “What waterfall?” you may ask. That is precisely my point! The willows, which I was informed would only reach three feet in height turned into real monsters, six feet high and six feet across. Sure I trimmed them twice a year so I could see my water feature. But, then the willows didn’t look so good.

I try to create a “maintenance-free” garden, at least as much as possible. So, I decided to tear out the willows. initially the plan was to transplant them to the cabin. However, because the roots took such a pounding during removal from under the rocks, and the travel time to the cabin would make it difficult to keep the remaining roots moist, we decided to scrap them altogether. I was not happy about this but it had to be done.The result was nothing short of amazing

Clean palette

Clean palette









Now I can see the waterfall and have a chance to rebuild the planting beds the way they should be, You see, tearing it out isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Note to self: Have the Domestic CEO weed the walkway.


Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Garden Walks


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Mistakes Happen.

Speak no evil





Well. it finally happened. It took a few years but I finally put something on the web that wish I hadn’t. I will not say what, when, or where as it doesn’t really matter at this point. Just that I said something without all of the facts and without considering the context in which it would be taken by other readers. unfortunately I cannot take it back or remove it. Looking back on it, I should have just kept my mouth shut and let others, who also did not have all the facts, spew forth their opinions. This was not my finest hour. However, it did reinforce my decision to not use this blog to stand on a soapbox. Don’t get me wrong, I have opinions on most topics. And a few of those opinions are based on experience and first hand knowledge. It’s simply not what I want for this blog. I hope those who read my comment, won’t hold it against me.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if the everyone followed one simple rule: If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all? The silence would be deafening.

Uh, oh. Caught myself trying to step up on that soapbox.


Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Other Strangeness


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Plot Twists in Short Fiction











A panel topic at this year’s 4th Street Fantasy convention dealt with using Fake outs, False Fumbles,and Misdirection to spice up standard plot tropes. It was a lively discussion as you might expect. The part of the discussion that interested me the most was the Set-up. Those sentences, paragraphs, and even whole scenes that are used to purposefully send the reader down a dead-end or straight into the surprise plot fake out. The Set-up is the clue(s) the author provides the reader that the plot trope they know and love may get thrown for a loop later in the story. Usually, the clues go unnoticed at first as just lightly related information used as world-building or characterization. The number of Set-ups can vary from story to story but as a rule there should be at least three: one towards the beginning, another somewhere in the middle, and then a last one just before the big surprise ending.

During the panel discussion, a comment was made that this is a little harder to handle in short fiction. The clues would be included in at most a “throw away” sentence or two. Frankly, what shocked me more was that the accomplished short fiction writers in the audience did not jump up and scream at the top of their lungs at this comment. Since when is there “throw away” sentences in a 3,000 word short story?

As I stated previously, the initial clue(s) may go unnoticed. But, can they really in a short work? Can you afford to insert a “throw away” line. just to set up a plot twist later? It seems to me that those “throw away” lines are nearly as important and require at least as much consideration as your opening line. These sentences need to fulfill at least two and maybe three or four purposes. One of which is to give the clue that the reader needs to remember, on some level, so that the surprise ending doesn’t seem contrived. Also, keep in mind that the clue should not be too obvious that it jolts the reader out of the story.

So, I would like to hear from you short fiction writers. How do you handle Set-ups in your short works? Or, do you stick with the tried and true plot tropes?



Posted by on August 6, 2015 in Thoughts on Writing


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777 Writer’s Challenge

It is hard to ignore a challenge. Especially one laid down by the lovely and talented owner of Sara Kjeldsen Writes. The challenge is pretty simple. Just open your current work in progress, go to the seventh line of the seventh page, and post the next seven sentences. Easy, peasy. Then tag seven other writers and challenge them to do the same. Not so easy.

After I read these seven sentences, i laughed. I was surprised that it took seven pages to get my protagonist into this much hot water. Anyway, He has a habit of biting off more than he can chew. So, here goes.

I stopped in mid-stride and slowly turned to face the most powerful wizard west of the Mississippi. She still stood behind the bar. Her eyes were wide with surprise but, she quickly recovered her composure.  Red sparks flashed from her casting rod. She flicked her hand and I heard the front door locks slam into place. Some of the patrons began to object, preferring to leave before two wizards began dueling. But, it was way too late for that.

Now a few author’s who should have something to offer up:

Kate Johnson

Scott Weber

Matthew Wright – He says he has some new fiction in the works, which I’m dying to read.

Corey MP

AnnMarie Wyncoll


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Old Ones






Near strangers.

Characters from dusty memories telling tales of great wars and a great depression.

Bent and gnarled they spew forth wit and wisdom, hard-earned, during hard times.

Horse-drawn plows and wood-fired stoves, hand-written letters, and bath water carried in from the pump house.

An ax turning a log into a pile of kindling as if by magic.

Epic poems, memorized in youth, recited back verbatim, proving the mind is sharp.

Gone too soon, before we realize the treasure they are.


Memories cherished.


Posted by on July 20, 2015 in Other Strangeness


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The Doctor is in!

On the wall of my cubicle at work, just above my computer monitor, hangs my one and only quote from Shakespeare. I can recite several, but this one is my favorite. It is from “Henry V”. I first heard about it, not from reading the story, but from watching the movie, “Dr. Detroit”. Yes, really! It’s a very funny movie.

Doctor Detroit movie poster - Universal Pictures, 1983

Doctor Detroit movie poster – Universal Pictures, 1983












At one point in the movie, Dan Aykroyd’s character, with help from his faithful “squire”, Diavolo, changes from a mild-mannered college professor into his Dr. Detroit persona. He recites this quote as the Doctor is preparing to go battle the evil Mom! It was quite fitting as Dr. Detroit wore a mailed gauntlet on one hand and he needs Diavolo’s assistance to change his clothing (long story). The scene is quite dramatic and Aykroyd plays it brilliantly. You just have to see it. So, here goes…

“The hum of either army stilly sounds, 

That the fixed sentinels almost receive

The secret whispers of each other’s watch;

Fire answers fire, and through their pally flames

Each battle sees the other’s umbered face;

Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs

Piercing the night’s dull ear, and from the tents

The armourers, accomplishing the knights,

With busy hammers closing rivets up,

Give dreadful note of preparation.”

Henry V – Shakespeare


I get the chills every time.

So what is your favorite Quote from Shakespeare?


Posted by on April 23, 2015 in Other Strangeness


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The aftermath!

New dock location








When I’m not busy planning a contingency response for the world’s next great disaster, I can be found at my little cabin on a lake in central Minnesota. It’s not much, but it is comfortable. Fishing, having a cold drink on the deck, writing, reading, or watching the many birds and animals that stop by for a visit are favorite past times. It is this last activity that I want to discuss today.

When I go to the cabin, I take my two, 14 pound feline children along. I could leave them alone at home and they would be okay for two nights, but I prefer to have them with me. So I crate them up, load them in the truck and head north. Hermann, the tuxedo, curls up and sulks in his crate while Marble makes sure that I know how much he despises me for locking him up by meowing every three seconds for the entire drive. If he gets really upset, he will puke or leave me other forms of displeasure to clean up once we get to our destination.

However, once we arrive, all sins are forgiven. There are birds, and chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits, other cats and assorted wild game to attract “the boys” attention. And for the next forty hours, noses are glued to the window panes, tail tips twitching, muscles tense, and ears alert.

Captive audience!

Captive audience!










When faced with a ruthless enemy such as the heinous Blue Jay or the vicious Chipmunk, the Boys will chatter as their bodies quiver with excitement. The chatter is a reflex action to seeing something that they want to bite. Their solid bodies seem to vibrate constantly and at times I think they might start to cramp up from the continuous strain.

Chipmunks love sunflowers too.

Chipmunks love sunflowers too.










For some reason, they chatter at the Jays but not the red-headed Woodpeckers that nest in the nearby tree.

Red-Headed Woodpecker feeding her young.

Red-Headed Woodpecker feeding her young.










When the action outside slows down, the boys burn off the tension by chasing each other around the small cabin. Two 14 pound cats, running full-bore around a 960 square foot cabin, makes on hell of a racket.  The “Thundering Herd” can go on into the wee hours of the morning ensuring that I get as little sleep as they do. As the weekend draws to a close, i stuff them back into their respective crates where they repeat their afore-mentioned routine of sulking and hurling insults at me as we drive home.

After they escape their traveling prisons and have a bite to eat from their normal bowls they slip into the living room and curl up in their favorite chair. They will sleep for nearly 24 hours and an exploding stick of dynamite will not wake them as they recover from the thrills of the previous two days.

Too much excitement...

Too much excitement…








That is one full chair!


Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Musings and Odd Thoughts


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