Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Weather App

Every once in awhile, I get obsessed with some dumb thing. There's ear wax, remember? And pedometers? Well, now I've added checking the weather app.

Four or five or twelve or seventeen times a day, I'll refresh the damn thing, especially if one of the kids has an outdoor sporting event. Today, for instance, Shef is supposed to have a running race. For the last ten days, the weather app has predicted rain. For the last five days or so, it's been a 90-100% chance of rain. The icon shows a cloud with a lightning bolt to indicate that there might be thunderstorms.

It's not like I can do anything about this forecast. It's not like it's going to change dramatically in 45 minutes. Clearly, the weather forecasters think it's going to rain. If it's not going to rain, they don't know about that fact. All signs point to rain! And yet, I continue to check to app.

Sometimes I look at the radar on the app, as if I'm trained in radar. I know the basics, which is green or yellow over the place where you live means it's raining. I know from unfortunate experience that you can't always tell what the blobs of rain are going to do in the run-up to your location on the radar. They split and reform in mysterious ways. Maybe I could spend less time thinking about it, but probably I can't.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Let's Discuss the Fruit Fly Adventure

They're gross, and yet recurring. I've had fruit flies on an annual basis, I'm pretty sure, for most of the time I've been a homeowner. I think it's because of the compost? Or at other times, because of the garbage disposal? In any case, I have some now, little fruit flies in my face while I type at the breakfast bar. I researched some solutions, and I'm happy to report I have made my own fruit fly traps with cider vinegar and a bit of dish soap.

Naturally, I've become obsessed with checking on the traps and counting the number of flies I've snared. It's been a day and a half now, and I'm up to fourteen. This is good, right? But still, I've seen other flies perching on the edges of my traps, not falling into the liquid and meeting their inevitable ends.

What can I do to entice them? What will finally draw this unfortunate infestation to a close? I'll probably spend time googling this after lunch. My writing really slows down in the afternoon.

And so closes the August Adventure Challenge, just a few days late.

Friday, August 30, 2019

One More Adventure Weekend

Adventure was a harder theme than I imagined it would be, but I'm determined to post seven entries because that's the arbitrary target I set for myself, and I'm nothing if not rigid.

My adventure today is sort of pedestrian, but I think people are going to want to know about it. I've ventured into the wide world of canned alcoholic beverages. I'm talking the aluminum cans of bubbly rosé you might have seen at the liquor store check out. I'm also talking about the single-serve pre-mixed cocktails in adorable little, fruit-cocktail sized packages.

These handy beverages seems a little spendy for a single serving (like 6 dollars, either for the 8 oz can or the teeny cocktail can), but also the whole concept is brilliant. Who needs two old fashioneds? On a weeknight? While watching Bachelor in Paradise?

No one, that's who. But many people need just the one old fashioned. They need it with no mixing required, poured over ice and crafted with, like, what I'm sure are bespoke ingredients.

Speaking of Bachelor in Paradise, I'd be remiss if I didn't say it's the best season ever. The contestants have thrown themselves into boundless adventure, and I salute them and their public and often-flighty and seemingly shallow quest for love. A canned cheers to those adventurers! I haven't missed a single episode, and I won't.


Sunday, August 25, 2019

A New Job

A new job is a big adventure!

But, I've thought a lot about it, and there's just not much to report about my new job as a novelist that would be thrilling and hold people's attention. But, never fear! Just because I'm guaranteed to be boring, that won't stop me.

Here are the details of what I do now that my job is to be writing a novel:

First, I get up really early, but not as early as before. Now that I don't have to go to school, the wake up is more like 5:30 or 5:45 instead of 4:45. Last week, my first order of business was beta reading. Beta reading is when you peruse and comment on someone's early draft. I have a few writing partners and critique groups, and I like to beta read for these people because it's fun and inspiring, and also because then my pals will feel compelled to beta read for me.

When in my family has left the building, I set my timer and make myself write or revise for a certain interval (30 or 35 minutes, usually), and then I take a short break. I might get some tea or a snack or fold a quick load of laundry. Then, I do that--the interval of work followed by the short break--again and again and again until I can stand it no longer.

Then, I go for a run and do other writing-related tasks like Instagram and Twitter and drafting my newsletter and answering and sending work-related emails.

And after that, I might go to Target and get a couple of ingredients for dinner. Finally, I drive carpool and cook and consult on homework and walk the dog.

That's it. That's the whole of the new job. Is it as glamorous and adventurous as you imagined?

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Turkeys on the Trail

I'm not sure I've ever written about my formerly-crippling fear of birds. It developed sometime around middle school and plagued me well into adulthood. I ducked and covered and avoided and panicked, all related to birds. Other people laughed about this, not because they didn't care about me, but because who's afraid of a friendly little robin?

Happily, I've been able to logic my way out of this phobia as I've grown older. I no longer scream when encountering birds or refuse to dine al fresco because of the possible presence of chickadees. I'll refuse to dine outdoors for other reasons--heat, cold, wind, a general dislike of things that others find "fun"--but small and harmless birds are no longer on the list.

Large birds, though, those are still very, very scary. I'm talking geese, swans, turkeys, and other species that walk or waddle on land. Even ducks are too big for me, and I'd prefer never to encounter them at close range.

So, imagine my horror when I encountered flocks of turkeys while trail running alone in the early morning this past Friday. There I was, just plodding along on some singletrack, forest bathing and whatnot, and then all of a sudden six or seven turkeys blocked the path in front of me.

I'll be honest, I screamed a little the first time I saw them. That turned out to be quite a successful strategy as I startled the turkeys and they ran up a hill. I wished to God I didn't have to pass them while they stood there on that hill above the trail, ready to attack, but there was no other reasonable choice. My heart pounds now as I remember the terror of the ordeal, but I did it. I passed the turkeys and nothing happened.

Later, two other turkeys scuttled ahead of me in a similar fashion, blocking and then clearing my way. I was terrified, but I carried on. The whole thing was an adventure. On this same run, I took a hard fall unrelated to the turkeys and scraped up my legs and jammed my finger. Through it all, I persevered with an adventurous sort of spirit.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Adventure Status Update

Publishing: I'm working on something called "first pass pages," which is when you see your manuscript printed out exactly how it will look in the book with the right fonts and headers and page numbers. It's called "first pass," but really it means "last chance," because it's my very final opportunity to change anything. I'm not supposed to change much -- a word here or an error there. It feels a little nuts to be signing off on all of these sentences, all 96,000 words, or whatever, for the very last time. Many steps of writing Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes have felt like adventures. Reading the pages as other people will (I hope!) read them is one of those steps.

Trail Running: I've finished the Endless Summer Trail Series, an adventurous race series at area parks. I really enjoy these little forays, heading into the woods and trying to finish faster than other people in my age group. I wish I could say that I don't care about winning, but everyone knows I do care about it. At these races, after my kids and my brother and I try to beat as many people as possible, we eat Dominoes pizza and drink a Summit India Extra Pale Ale. Well, the kids don't drink the beer. That's just for me and for other people over the legal age of 21. The pizza and the beer (and the Coke for the children) are included in the race fee, and if that isn't the best model ever, I don't know what is. I'm already looking forward to next summer's trail running adventures.

Eating Out: There's a place in St. Paul that's getting all sorts of buzz, and Dan and I are heading there to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary tonight. When I thought to get the reservation, there were only two slots available: 5:15 and 8:00. I had to pick the earlier because, well, regardless of how capital-A adventurous our August is, we still have to be in bed by like 9.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Heat and Humidity

About 75% of the time when I sign up for an endurance sporting event, I find myself lying in bed the morning of the race, at the requisite early wake-up time, regretting it.

This was the case yesterday when it was time to head out to the MDRA 15k. Here's why I didn't want to go: It's a team circuit race, so the field would be fast and intimidating. None of my personal friends were going, so I'd be awkward and alone. The weather was sticky, heavy, and slow--not only would my time lag, but I'd also probably feel miserable.

Here are the reasons I went: I already paid the entry fee. I would probably feel righteous at the finish line. I would score points for my team, even though I never go to practice and no one on the team actually knows me. AND, we're blogging about ADVENTURE in August. A 9.3 mile race in the heat and humidity would qualify as adventurous.

Here are the highlights:

  • I met a nice woman in the early miles and we chatted about running, a decade apart, in the same Minnesota small-college athletic conference.
  • I met a nice guy who provided helpful hints about the locations of the mile-markers and the conditions of the course and also who called me a "beast" at the end, even though he beat me by at least 15 seconds.
  • I was in my team photo for the first time ever. The director of the team asked me my name, so now I know one person.
  • Although I felt woozy at the finish, I powered through by drinking water and eating a cookie. The cookie was delicious. Maybe eating a cookie isn't supremely adventurous, but given the questionable state of my stomach after heat running, I thought it kind of was.