234 Extracted Words – The Tease – June 2017

June 2017

I write flash fiction, non-fiction, essays and novels. This month’s Tease is a first for the feature. Someone close to me asked for assistance in creating her own blog. This inspired me to revisit my first post. An excerpt follows.


Blogging is like being in prison, although the stakes are much lower. If you make a mistake in prison, you get stabbed or set on fire. Erroneous blogging, if you’re lucky,  will only lead to scoffing  from lonely cubicles, by credit union interns surfing the web instead of inputting data. They won’t even share your idiocy with co-workers, lest they forfeit their stipend.

I suppose the biggest risk in exposing your electric underwear is hacking off another blogger … the biggest, baddest blogger. We’ll call him Mack (there’s a Mack in every prison movie ever made). If you hack Mack off, he has the perfect platform from which to blast you, his own blog. Say he happens to be very fond of Dalmatians (that alone is creepy). Being the dingo lover I am, I post my opinion that Dalmatians are overrated, the blogosphere equivalent of dropping the soap. Next thing I know, Mack and his gang are blasting me on links and feeds from New Jersey to Antarctica. The AKC arranges a tea party on my front lawn, only instead of bringing teabags and Sarah Palin, they tote pitchforks and choke collars.


Mow Your Lawn – Puhleeeze!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Home Turf.”

Mow it. Mow it now. You don’t have to edge it, or even trim it, but please, for the love of Briggs and Stratton, mow it. And try watering it too.

Home turf isn’t just my yard. It’s every lawn I can see from my yard, every dandelion I can see from my driveway, every burnt square of brown I pass driving down my street. I understand that people are busy.They have kids, jobs, dreams.

But you purchased a house, for crying out loud. Does that not imply some responsibility toward your neighbors?

We all miss a mow or two. Emergencies, equipment failures, even vacations can get in the way of lawn care. But it’s the same lawns week after week. You know who you are. Turn the porch lights on. Tape a flashlight to that thing and let’s get going.

And get those leaves while you’re at it.


To Whom It May Freshly Concern – Blogging 101

My target for Blogging 101’s day four assignment is the star chamber of Freshly Pressed.

I’ve been blogging for half a decade, never been Freshly Pressed.

I’ve published over one hundred posts, never been Freshly Pressed.

I’ve Nano’d, blogged, commented, Googled, trolled, ranted, pimped, primped and changed my hairstyle and still … never been Freshly Pressed. So, taking the advice of Pablo Picasso, I’m learning the rules so I can break them. At least, that was my plan until I found out, there are no rules.

That’s right, anything goes.

That doesn’t mean there are no deal breakers. Typos, plagiarism, even gratuitous vulgarity might all keep you from being considered, but their absence is no guarantee of success. Breaking the rules when there are none is the ultimate blogger’s koan. The attempt is what truly matters, Pressed or not.

And that’s what this Blogging 101 assignment is all about.

What is this map here for? It’s where the Picasso script was found. (And I had never embedded a map before.)


Oops, NaNo’d Again – the Sublime Insanity of NaNoWriMo

What do November, 50,000 word rough drafts and coffee (lots and lots of coffee) have in common? Answer: NaNoWriMo.

If you know anyone that writes, chances are during some previous November, they mysteriously disappeared from your life. Blame NaNoWriMo. Generic-73x73The impulse to put 1667 or more words down every day in the month of November can overwhelm anyone’s free time.

NaNo is a free-wheeling online creative event that covers the globe. Although it’s completely free,those that can donate are encouraged to do so. The event raises money for the Office of Letters and Light, an organization that supports literacy and writing creativity in youngsters and adults. NaNo includes sponsors that provide technical and financial support and various writers that  provide motivational blurbs. NaNo forums give the participants a place to lean on each other or laugh with each other. The OLL adds some fairly entertaining videos to keep spirits up. Currently, the NaNo homepage shows the 2012 tally at 3,288,976, 325 words written world-wide, the Spokane Region alone created a 6,398,490 concordance.

Winner-120x240When I visit the county fair’s midway, I see people exit rides, wrung out from spinning around for five minutes straight, heading rapidly to the bathroom to expel the cotton candy and corn dogs from their stomach, but they still manage to slap their partners on the back and exclaim, “Wasn’t that fun?”

I say to myself, how can that be fun?

I imagine if someone were able to peer inside my writing space during NaNo, they might ask the same question. But to me, that is part of the attraction. Knowing that most people consider such an endeavor a punishing waste of time further compels the few hundred thousand of us spackled around the globe in various clusters, typing away, prostrate before the glow of our laptops.

And, bonus … I’ve never puked coming off the NaNo ride.


To learn more about NaNoWriMo, go here.


Of Dog Bones and Macchiatos

The world is Lonnie’s oyster.

Anyone that meets our flat-coated retriever (a Newfoundland-lab mix) Avalon, quickly realizes their meeting serves only one mission, Lonnie’s entertainment. In fact, all of creation was apparently zapped into existence for Lonnie to play with. Every item dropped on the floor is there for her to chew. Every meal is prepared for her to taste, every cat is there for her to chase and every guest is invited over solely for the purpose of petting and praising her.


And it doesn’t stop there. On walks, she sniffs every garbage can, smells every mailbox and snuffles every animal track. I won’t abuse you with what she thinks is appropriate when encountering deer scat.

But Avalon’s princess-like qualities radiate most when we she goes for a ride to Starbucks.

Lonnie's fan base.

As we approach the drive-through, her ears adjust, her rump squats and, before the window even finishes lowering, her nose pokes out like a spy-hopping orca, whiskers and nostrils twitching. She never considers that the barista is displaying great charity by offering her a dog biscuit. This must be the sole purpose for our arrival. What other impetus could there be? Certainly not the “treat” I’m being handed with a straw and sleeve (although she certainly wouldn’t mind chewing on that lovely smelling cup when we get home).

I know these occurrences are familiar to most dog lovers, but what I find so endearing in Lonnie’s actions is her attitude. The look on her face tells everyone, “It’s my world, just be thankful you’re in it.”


If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry

Interplayers’ “The Boys Next Door” inspires a range of emotion.

Tom Griffin’s play finished its run Saturday night and we were lucky enough to be in the third row. Interplayers is an intimate setting regardless, but our proximity to the stage provided an intensely emotional experience.

“The Boys Next Door” is a play about four men with intellectual disabilities that share their apartment, their lives and their link to the daunting outside world, Jack. The narrative is expressed through his eyes as well as theirs. It’s a wild and bumpy ride that manages to avoid the pitfalls of stereotype while courageously nibbling at its edges all the way to the bittersweet end.

A good play will make you laugh or cry. A great play will have you doing both. This performance did just that.

Just click Interplayers to learn more.


Scuba Chicken

Our turtle, a red-eared slider named “Chicken”, was outgrowing his home. Over the holiday season, we moved him to a new tank. Now, like so many others, his mortgage status is under water.

Tough turtle.

Red-eared sliders are notoriously aggressive and are becoming a real problem in the mid-west. When released into the wild, for good or malicious intent, they wipe out the native turtle species.

This aggressive nature isn’t reserved for just the wild red-ears. Our own Chicken lets you know who’s the boss every time you walk by his home. He scratches, kicks pebbles and slams his shell against the glass. (see the slide show below)

You probably are wondering how he landed his name. Chicken was given to us as a gift. When our son first saw him he shouted out, “Chicken”. We explained that Chicken was a turtle, but our little boy insisted. “Chicken.” And so that became his name. In some odd way, it’s perfect.

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Thank God it’s Black Friday.

Why are the masses so quick to condemn those of us willing to freeze our collective mistletoes off in the wee hours following Thanksgiving? The farmer is venerated for rising early to tend his crops. The runner is admired for her early morning training sessions. Why not the retail athlete that rises early, stands long and shops well?

When I ask critics what they did with their Black Friday morning, in lieu of shopping, the most common reply is a self-righteous “I slept.” Since when does this society prize dormancy over initiative?

Black Friday can be a lot of fun, if you go into it with an open mind. Every year, my wife and I meet nice people, have fun and land some great, affordable gifts for our children. Our only sacrifice, a few hours of sleep. A worthy trade, and one we’ll continue for years to come.