Category Archives: doing it wrong

Clarion West Beg-A-Thon Week #6

First tomato. Sherman and Mr. Peabody for scale. A week from now and I will have plenty more plus lemon cucumbers.

This week I tried to map out a conflict before I started rather than just thinking of a character and typing. It is a pretty half-assed entry but I made my stated goal of writing 6 brand new stories pulled out of nothing.

This week’s story is about a bored elder Aunt Beety who escapes quarantine to meet her sister and catch-up on gossip only to be thwarted by a tribal road block. She tells a fib to get around it with unexpected results.


“Well, I’m sick,” Beety said, touching her forehead. A flimsy folding table sat next to the nurse. She grabbed a little gadget and held it to Beety’s forehead.

Beety jerked back. “I do not consent.”

“You don’t have a temperature. Do you have symptoms?”

“Of course I do. Why would I be driving around by myself?”

Beety put her hand on the side of her face and grimaced then slid her hand down her neck and to her chest and forced a gargly cough.

“Yeah, that’s bad,” the nurse said. She picked up a walkie-talkie from the table. “We’ve got an elder gonna need an examination.”

Five (5!) pounds of roasted hatch chiles arrived on my doorstep Wednesday.

This is the final week of the write-a-thon but you may donate anytime. From the final report we had 535 writers with total donations of $19,839. OOF! So close to $20K

You can still sponsor me here.

You can sponsor one of our workshop leaders here: Neile.
Or tireless workshop supporter Kate.
My classmate: Maggie.
My classmate: Tracy.

If you want to check out the participants yourself: CW Write-a-thon Writers.

Here’s the address if you’d prefer to mail a donation:

Clarion West
P.O. Box 31264
Seattle, WA 98103-1264

Thanks again for your support.

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Clarion West Beg-A-Thon Week #5 Update

Percy the fig tree in November, 2017.

This week I attempted to write something dark since I normally don’t even write characters who are mean to each other. I was not successful. This week’s story was 2400 words about Derrick, the bumbling thief who tries to steal $5000 from a lady upriver. It’s really 2400 words of throat clearing.


All he had to do was steal Dee’s dog, pretend to find it, bring it to her, get a reward, see where she grabbed the reward money from, knock her down, take the money, run to the dealer, get the drugs, set aside a portion for himself, sell the rest, and return the money to Dee.

What could go wrong?

I had a brilliant idea for a story as I was falling asleep and roused myself enough to jot a quick note so I would remember it in the morning.

The note says: Shallow NDN [illegible] $ Kids tribal [illegible.]

Feel free to steal.

Fig harvest 2020! So far we’ve picked 4. I ate 3 and gave 1 to Bob. There are 7 more out there.

The fundraiser continues. I seem to have deleted the progress report email but I think we raised almost $15K of our goal of $20K.

You can sponsor me here.

You can sponsor one of our workshop leaders here: Neile.
Or tireless workshop supporter Kate.
My classmate: Maggie.
My classmate: Tracy.

If you want to check out the participants yourself: CW Write-a-thon Writers.

Here’s the address if you’d prefer to mail a donation:

Clarion West
P.O. Box 31264
Seattle, WA 98103-1264

Thanks again for your support.

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The Grass is Way Greener

These photos are from over a month ago.

Bob put fertilizer on the lawn and then we got tons of rain. He was in the midst of finishing the school year so he had hardly any free time and it seemed like when he could carve out some time, it was too rainy.

So the lawn was abandoned and grew hilariously out of control.

When he finally had time to get to it, it took 2 days.

Friday when I was in the market, Please Mr. Please by Olivia Newton-John came on. I don’t think I’ve heard that song since I was in junior high but I remembered almost every word. Now I have an earworm. I have to include the wikipedia link because that is quite an entry. The song was released by ONJ in 1975. I don’t think I ever had the single to this one. But I for sure had the single to Have You Never Been Mellow.

When I was in 5th grade two of the girls in band learned how to play Have You Never Been Mellow (flute and oboe) and they got to play it at the end of an assembly with piano accompaniment. I was so jealous.

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The Wednesday downtown farmer’s market is back. This one of my favorite days when the market starts and my sad Winter Is Coming day when they close in the fall.

Downtown has much fewer people than normal anyway but the market layout has been revised so it is spread out along several blocks and has a one way travel design. So far I have loaded up on asparagus and filled up on my favorite Verde Cocina – chicken in adobo and gringas con molé. I bought enough to bring home dinner.

Last week I also picked up a bunch of tamales with fresh salsa. (Different vendor and I am blanking on the name at the moment.)

I can’t remember if I shared this story.

I watch Westworld — it’s a reboot on HBO. I think we just finished season 3.

I DVR the show and then watch it when I get a chance.

At one point this season I settled down for the latest episode and it was in Spanish with subtitles. The characters were in Mexico so I figured this was some conceit of the episode and kept watching.

The show continued in Spanish. After about fifteen minutes I thought it was strange. Wouldn’t this be alienating so some of their audience to do an entire episode with subtitles? But maybe this was going to pay off in some interesting way.

I kept watching.

You guys – I watched for 45 minutes before I figured out that it was my TV! Somehow I held down some magical arrangement of buttons to switch my TV to Spanish. I don’t know how that could happen. I don’t know how to do it on purpose.

Well, I do now. I learned so I could turn it off.

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When The Morning Cries and You Don’t Know Why

Remember last year when I planted only 2 tomato plants? And the angry raccoon tore up the walls of water where one of the plants lived?

The plant lived on but never recovered. It was supposed to be a prolific yellow cherry tomato plant but it barely grew to a foot and I got about 10 tomatoes off of it.

I saved some seeds and started one on the window sill. See arrow above. I was determined to get my prolific yellow cherry tomatoes.

The rest of those are 2 tomatoes, 4 cucumbers, and 4 Anaheim pepper plants.

Look how healthy and happy it looks, ready for it’s big new life outside.

Then: tragedy.

This was not an angry raccoon. This was operator error. I knew it was kinda tricky getting the walls of water to balance right so I was extra careful.

But not extra careful enough. I looked outside a couple of hours later to see the ruin. Poor little yellow cherry tomato. It is not to be for us.

I have one more tomato on the window sill that I can transfer to this spot.

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Must Have Died Laughing

When I was in those terrible teen years where you want to get out and do things but you can’t drive and you have no money, I had a couple of friends that liked to make prank phone calls.

I liked the prank calls but I wasn’t much for doing them myself.

One prank was to call information (also called directory assistance) and ask questions like how to bake cookies or get spaghetti stains out of a white T-shirt. We thought this was HILARIOUS.

We also liked to call radio stations to request songs like “You Light Up My Life” and Linda Ronstadt songs from that album with her wearing a satin jacket on the cover.

We also tried to win things. I once won an album called Livin’ on the Fault Line by the Doobie Brothers.

We also would call random numbers and ask questions like, “Is your refrigerator running?”

“Oh yeah? Well you better go catch it.”

HAHAHA. Oh, we were so funny.

One time my friend left this long message on someone’s answering machine informing them that sadly, someone they knew had died. Our message had no details such as who died, or how it happened that we were the ones charged with imparting this information.

As soon as we were done I felt really guilty. I ran upstairs to another extension (Do kids today even know this? That a household would have one phone line with phones in different rooms and everyone had to share?) and I called the number back to tell them it was a joke.

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I’m More Wild Than This Fruit

It never fails that when I finally sit down to post something, I only have about three minutes. Here’s the three minute report:

Bob bought me this giant frozen fruit bag for my blender drinks. My teeth are doing pretty good and blender drinks aren’t as necessary as they were a year ago at this time, but it’s an easy way for me to get some nutrition in me when I’m in the middle of too many things.

It includes sliced bananas, strawberries and “wild” blueberries. I don’t believe they are wild.

Does anyone really need a recipe for a blender drink?

Here’s the update on the raccoon: it showed up 3 times in 5 days which worried me. So then I did some research and animal control does nothing. Here, the raccoons belong to the fish and wildlife department and they suggest that you just deal with it unless it’s a danger. If it’s a danger you can call some wildlife experts to give you a quote on removal. It was hard not to imagine all the dollar signs in that nugget of information.

I fretted about it and then Raccy seemed to disappear in the middle of the day which was weird. The same day I was taking the compost out and found a worrisome collection of blue feathers near the hedge.

Since then I have seen the blue jays and I assume some of their babies so no worries there. I have not seen any sign of Raccy so maybe this was just a crash pad and it’s off living a great life somewhere else.

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Playground Competition

This is what a busy intersection in downtown Portland looks like on a weekday during quarantine. It was painful not to be able to take advantage of all that street parking.

When I was in elementary school the playground had a set of hanging rings in a circle — I can’t believe I can’t find a photo of this type of thing to link to. I guess this isn’t hasn’t been normal playground equipment in eons.

They were tricky to do — you had to learn how to swing your body around to get from one to the next and then you needed to time it just right so you could re-catch the swinging rings once you completed the circle and were going for another round.

I finally learned how to do it. I think maybe me and a friend rode our bikes over there on weekends to practice? I don’t think there would have been enough time at recess. There was always a line to get on and if you were taking a turn and you missed the next ring you had to jump off and let the next person go.

On Fridays after school there was a contest on the playground for who could catch the most rings and I thought I had a chance. I was really timid in elementary school (or my entire life) so it was a big deal that I even tried.

I made it the first lap around but couldn’t figure out the timing and I can still clearly see myself hanging from one arm back and forth trying to catch that swinging ring.

The girl who won was one grade ahead and the mean older sibling of one of my friends. She won the contest every week. I can’t remember the prize. Candy?

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Little Free Libraries

I had a pile of books here ready to go to the library sale but since we aren’t doing that right now I decided to take a walk and drop them off at some of the little free libraries in our neighborhood.

Turns out there are a lot of little free libraries in our neighborhood. We already knew of a few that we wanted to visit and in the process of trying to locate them found at least three more that we didn’t know about including this incredible Tardis library that I instantly fell in love with. Bob liked the one where you could hear jazz music coming from the house.

The first thing I did at every library we visited was tidy it up. I put all the mass paperbacks together and moved around the larger books so that all the spines faced outward. If there was more than one title by the same author, I put those together.

Bob muttered: daughter of a librarian.

I’m sad to say that about 90% of the books were complete garbage — terrible best sellers from 20 years ago. Ancient business type books. Old catalogs. One book was falling apart so I took it and threw it away.

Bob found a book of David Lynch interviews which he took. Most of the books we left were really great, published in the last 5 years, and not accidentally dropped in the bathtub.

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Wild Life

There’s a hole in the hedge outside my window and I’ve been wondering if a critter was hanging out in there.

Yesterday morning the hedge was shaking and I spotted a little bit of brown fur and then its little bandit face. It slept there all day. I tried to see when it left at night but it was too dark. It did not return and I’m happy about that because I don’t really want a raccoon living in our hedge full time.

We walk through there and do yard work and I don’t want a frightened raccoon flying out and biting me. I plan to monitor to see what its habits are. Maybe it was just goofing off and didn’t have time to get home so had to crash on our couch.

We also have blue jays nesting in the other end of the hedge by the fence. I see them out in the yard all the time but the minute I get the camera out they vanish. Hopefully my poorly executed Photoshop will help you spot it.

This is where the nest is. I was out checking the garden and I could hear all kinds of peeping and carrying on.

You can also see I’ve got my tomato plants out in their little greenhouses.

Photo not by me, photo by tonynetone. Thank you for CC photos.

Also this week we saw Noah (next door cat) wandering through the yard on the way home with a rodent in his mouth. We texted the neighbor “incoming!” She texted us back a picture of a mole (not a rodent but no need for a science lesson here) and conveyed her thrill at the cat’s thoughtfulness. We didn’t save the photo so I found this one.

When you search “mole” images you also get pictures of sauce. It took me second to figure out that one.

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