Friday, December 14, 2012

Nailed It

What the baclava was supposed to look like:

Here's what they actually look like:


Friday, November 16, 2012

Yes, Officer. There's a Rational Explanation for All That Blood...

Sooo, this week I had considerable insight into what it's like to try to cover one's tracks after a murder.  Put down the phone.  You don't have to call the police.  It's not like that...though it would have been entertaining to try to explain had an officer walked in.

My four-year-old thought his clownfish were super, super hungry, so he dumped about a month's worth of fish food into their tank.  I got my husband out of bed and we scrambled to remove the food from the tank as we listened to a chorus of, "I'm reawy, reawy sowwy, Mommy."

An hour into the clean up and water change, I leaned down to wipe up some water that had dripped onto the floor.  To my horror, I saw copious quantities of blood on the wall.  Apparently I missed a couple (a lot) of streaks when I cleaned up the carnage the week before.

In my defense, it went down early in the morning.  I can't be held accountable for a cleanup that happened before my morning coffee.
My dog wakes us up at the ass-crack of dawn every morning with heavy breathing and the heavy whump, whump of a Labrador tail. A few days before Halloween, morning began as usual with the hot breath on my face, the wagging of tail, and the cries of my son dying to get out of bed at 5:45 am.  I staggered into the kitchen to feed the salivating labrador and the hyper-spasto springer spaniel as the lab's tail thudded into the wall all the way down the hall and into the kitchen.

I fed them, and when I bent down to drop the food into their bowls, I was a little surprised to see blood all over the floor.  I looked up.  Blood all over the walls.  I went down the hall.  Blood all over the floor and the walls.  And not just a little bit.  A fuck ton, and still damp.

I hollered for my husband, who jumped pretty fast at the words "blood everywhere."  Before I could say, "What the fuzz?" we were searching for the source.  The boy was still bouncing on his bed, so it had to be one of the dogs.

I saw a heavy concentration of drips behind the Labrador, so I peeked at her tail.  The tip was pretty mangled, but apparently didn't hurt much because she was happy to whack into the walls and still eat her breakfast.  The best we could figure is that one of us, probably the one who is significantly shorter than the other two, closed her tail into the sliding door.  Her tail didn't just streak down the hall.  It frickin' sprayed as she wagged, flinging droplets as far as the eye could see. 

We did a comical wrap job on the tail, kicked her outside, and grabbed mops and disinfectant wipes, all before 6 am.  Our cleanup was frantic and haphazard, trying frantically to get to work on time. 

I discovered a few things that might be useful as you write your crime investigation scenes.

  1. Ewwww.
  2. I missed blood that was in the shadows cast by my lighting.
  3. I missed the blood in corners.
  4. I missed the blood that blended in with the texture of my flooring.
So, benefit from one of my "WTF?" ways to wake up.  More on that later, but yes, the dog is fine.

Friday, August 24, 2012

In a Pickle

I find myself in an interesting pickle.  There have been several changes to the way I can do my job this year.  Not good.  Suffice it to say it's like telling a mechanic to change out an engine with only the tools he can fit on a tool belt.  I'm a perfectionist, so I find my future uncertain at this point. 

I will be blogging and writing more regularly as soon as my future is a little more clear.  Thanks for hanging in there.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Things I Learned During My Blog Break

First, I should apologize for my lengthy absence.  I've learned many things while I took an unintentional blog break.

  • When one takes a kid fishing, one doesn't really get to fish.
  • Montana is really, really big.
  • Long breaks from one's project sharpens one's ability to spot one's own stupidity.
  • A censor button needs to be installed in my brain.  Or my mouth.
  • I know I've become addicted to The Hunger Games when I started looking for tracker jackers in my garden.
  • When it snows on frickin' MAY 26TH, one should not panic and replace all the plants in one's garden, as it leaves one with a shit-ton of plants when they all bounce back.
  • Never leave third graders alone in a room full of expensive recording microphones.
  • Kari Ann Peniche is a crazy maker of the first order.
  • The squeaky wheel doesn't always get the grease.  Sometimes it gets a big red bullseye.
My three-year-old son learned many things, as well, but most importantly to never, ever drop the toilet seat.

I also learned that cows have far more entertainment value than drunken cow-tipping.*

*My husband pointed out that sometimes the cows ran away from the car and sometimes they followed it. There's a reason for that. Cows instinctively follow the rear of something moving away and flee from the front of something coming toward them. That herd instinct makes them much easier to round up and move.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Week in Montana

My understanding is this has gone viral, and I can see why.  This sums up succinctly why I believe I could never permanently call any other place home.

A Week In Montana from Preston Kanak on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Beware the Staff of the Ninja Cow

They come out of nowhere in the middle of the night: pitch black Angus cows.  My friend Ian calls them ninja cows, as driving at night is pretty scary when these masters of camouflage creep out of their pastures and onto the road.  My ego took a serious blow when one of these ninja masters hit me in broad daylight.  With a pole.

My parents raise Herefords, who are pretty gentle in compared to Angus, but any cow can be dangerous if a person's being stupid.  My dad has a picture of my brother riding a Hereford bull at age three.  Well, not so much riding as sitting on it while it ate hay.

Ninja Cows
The selling price is a little higher for what we call black baldies, which are a cross between a Hereford and a Black Angus, so Dad runs a few Angus bulls, usually shooting for a herd of calves that are about half pure-bred Hereford and half black baldies.

Just after Christmas, I was helping my dad do Bangs vaccinations, which involves crimping medicine into a heifer's ear with a nasty looking, green-coated tool.  They don't like it.  My job was to stick a solid fiberglass pole behind their butts to keep them from backing out of the headgate, which is the mechanism Dad uses to catch their heads.  His headgate was made in 1954, so it had a few issues. 

One of the black baldy heifers, who was bigger than the Herefords but probably smaller than I'd like to exaggerate, hit the chute hard.  She kicked as I tried to slide in the pole.  I couldn't get it through to the other side, turning it into a giant lever.

She kicked again and all I saw was sky.  When I realized I still had all my teeth, I found that she'd caught me with a glancing blow to the right side of my jaw.  Thankfully she didn't shatter my jaw, but now there is scar tissue over the nerve that controls the right lower side of my face, making it feel for several weeks like I'd been to the dentist.  I tried to play trumpet with my fifth grade band, but the only sounds I could make were closer to that of a flatulent hippo. 

My husband asked me if I'd try to cover it up with makeup, and I joked that I'd leave it alone so I could get some street cred with the kids at school.  Funny enough, I really did.  In a rural community like this one, even the kindergarteners shook their head solemnly and said, "You've gotta watch out for those Angus heifers..."

I must point out that the Hereford bull that was in the chute just after the psycho Angus just stood there and let us cut off his balls.  So, for the health and well-being of agronomists everywhere, don't eat ninja cows. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Pilgrims of the Sky, by Natania Barron

After Maddie's fiancé, Alvin, disappeared, she tries to disentangle herself from Alvin's family and makes the heart-breaking decision to move away from his mother and his endearingly broken-minded brother.  A box of books, a guilt trip, and an unwilling favor later, she's sharing bodies with Matilda in the Second world.


Pilgrims of the Sky had many strengths.  My favorite part of the book is the vivid way Barron paints the other worlds.  I applaud Barron's vision, especially considering the fact that I have the artistic skills of a third grader and the descriptive vocabulary to match.  She manages to make the setting interesting without spending too much time on description.

My favorite character was Randy, a special man that reminded me of several of my students in a very charming way.  The cast of characters was quite large, and the difficulty of developing them was apparent.  I saw why the cast had to be so large, but it did make keeping names straight rather difficult for me.  I have a terrible memory for names, especially ones that are similar.  It's so bad that my students that I've had for a long while feel obligated to warn new kids that it's not that I don't care, it's that my memory card is made of swiss cheese.

The stakes for the main characters were deep, and the motivations clear, so I really had only small complaints about the book.  One:  there were a few sex scenes that were a little more hinky than I usually like.  That's a personal opinion, and obviously everyone has their own tastes and tolerances.  Two:  (SPOILER ALERT!)  the climax of the conflict really boiled down to "love conquers all," which made it slightly anticlimactic.  There were surprises, of course, but fiction that really floats my boat has some sort of deep, deep meaning, and the whole "love conquers all" thing has been done.  A lot.  In perspective, though, it's a pretty minor complaint.  I loved the book, and hope you do, too.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Didn't Forget About You

Ladies and Gents,

I apologize for my lack of activity on my site.  I've been working on two tricky posts, posts that I'm taking time to make sure I do right. 

The first is an explanation of how to get agriculture right in fiction.  When my friend Michael Spence mention he didn't realize that grazing wasn't referring to a near miss by a bullet, I realized I needed to include pictures.  The article is ready to go, I'm just waiting for some pictures to be sent to me by a relative.

The second is a review of the book Pilgrims of the Sky.  I allowed the holiday insanity derail my reviewing schedule, so the review will be posted as soon as possible.

Thanks for your patience, and happy reading!