Friday, January 21, 2011

Do you ever listen to your intuition?

I did today and it created a happy ending.

Let me give you a rundown of my day. I start every morning by reading my horoscope. Most of the time, it's just for fun - but every now and then it hits eerily close to home. I'm an Aquarius and this is the horoscope that popped up on my blackberry this morning:

Your intuition is keen today, Aquarius. Allow it to govern you through a difficult process you are about to begin. Not all Aquarians are comfortable listening to their inner voice. That's because, as a practical and intellectual air sign, you are more likely to opt for logic or science to guide you. But you actually have quite an exceptional level of extra sensory perception, and you need to learn to tune into it more often. If you do so today, you will navigate through a challenge with ease.

My initial reaction consisted of a shrug and a "hmm...wonder what that means?", then off to work I went. I arrived in the cold (eleven degrees Fahrenheit), dark parking lot and stepped out of my car to be met by the sweetest black dog with the saddest pair of eyes. Here’s a photo that my plant manager took with his blackberry:
The night shift supervisor said the dog had wandered around the mill, following any kind soul who’d pay him any attention. When he couldn’t find someone to follow, he’d sit outside of security's door, throw back his head and howl. Several people suggested I call animal control and have him hauled away. No way. I knew what would happen to the gentle beast if I couldn't find his owner and he ended up at the shelter. My heart broke and I almost burst into tears as he leaned against my leg and nosed his muzzle into my hand. He wore a collar but no tags. The poor brute was not only lost, he was unidentifiable. All anyone could tell me was that he'd been there all night.

My intuition nudged me. I knew this dog. Where had I seen him? It finally hit me. We've got closed circuit video cameras aimed at the staging area to watch the truck drivers securing their trailers before and after loading. Yesterday, I’d noticed a driver playing catch with his dog while waiting for his turn to load.

I logged on to my computer and searched through the screens until I finally found the portion of the tape I needed. There he was - my forlorn little friend galloping across my screen during a much happier playtime with his master. I double-checked the date/time stamp and zoomed in on the truck number. I was able to locate the trucking company by matching the truck number with the check-in log.

I hesitated about calling the driver’s dispatcher. I couldn't imagine a driver leaving his dog behind. Lots of drivers have dogs as companions on their lonely hauls and this furry friend was big enough to make a person think twice about bothering his master's truck.

A driver and his dog are inseparable. I couldn’t imagine the driver leaving his companion but I just knew this dog was the same one playing catch on the video tape.

I called the dispatcher and warned him that I had a rather odd question. I asked if he happened to know whether or not his driver had lost his dog? The dispatched didn't know but he agreed to contact the driver via cell phone.

The driver stated yes, he had in fact lost his dog while at our facility. While securing his load, his dog chased off a pack of stray dogs always running through our area. The driver had called, "Rocky" and searched for hours but had been forced to give up and leave out of fear of losing his job. He didn’t want to report the dog missing to the mill. Most places he’d loaded wouldn’t have helped him. The driver was ecstatic when he learned we'd found Rocky and asked that we'd please shelter him someplace warm since Rocky was not an outside dog. He promised, if we’d watch over him for just a little while, he’d return right away. He'd traveled 150 miles from our mill but was in the process of turning his big rig around. He’d be there as soon as he could get there.

Security and I stashed Rocky in the scale house office with a sausage and egg biscuit, water and a warm blanket. While she scaled in all the trucks, Rocky slept at her feet. Approximately three hours later, Rocky's rig pulled back into our lot. When his master whistled over the CB radio, Rocky's head popped up, ears perked to attention. As the driver walked through the door, Rocky transformed from a droopy tailed, unhappy dog into an exploding bundle of joy.

Rocky and his driver's happy ending made my day. I'm glad I read my horoscope this morning and listened to my intuition. Do you ever listen to yours?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you ever met a baby Draecna?

I’m so excited to announce that ETERNITY’S MARK survived Round Three of Kensington Brava / RT Book Reviews Writing With the Stars Contest and has moved on to Round Four.

Four of us remain, doing our best to win your vote for Best Secondary Character. When they asked us to submit our excerpts, William was an easy choice. I fell in love with my little Draecna and I hope you do too. I’ve always loved dragons and my beloved Draecna’s in ETERNITY’S MARK have many dragon attributes. In case you haven’t been to RT’s site yet, here’s William’s description that’s battling for the win:

Bumbling and inquisitive as a big-footed pup, William won Hannah’s love the instant his shimmering green nose pushed through the shell. A wiggling bundle of iridescent scales topped with wings and horns, William’s likeness to the prints of the mythical dragons Hannah once studied is only contradicted by his newborn size. The first of the Draecna hatchlings released from the protective spell of his egg, William becomes the full-of-mischief, exasperating son Hannah never had. When he’s not providing the castle with Draecna flatulence to ignite into balls of fire, he continues to forget the wise admonition: “Never piss into the wind.” Under the tutelage of the elder Draecna’s, William struggles with learning the tenets of his race while waiting for the power of his first flame. When war breaks out, William matures quickly, protecting Hannah and unleashing his first blaze to avenge them all.

Below, you’ll find an excerpt from my story to help get you acquainted with William a bit better. If you’d like to help us survive Round Four, after you enjoy the excerpt – please pop over to RT’s site and give us your vote. There's also a place to leave a comment, if you like.  Here’s the link:

I know William appreciates your support – but not nearly as much as I do! *wink*


“He’s pissing on his feet again.” Gearlach nodded in William’s direction where he stood bouncing and peeing a healthy stream of steaming white urine all over his over-sized feet.

“William!” Taggart snapped at the young Draecna and barely jumped out of the line of fire as William swung around in answer to Taggart’s call. “Dammit, boy! How many times do I have to tell ye? Ye do not piss into the wind.” Gads, he’d forgotten how much energy it took keeping a young hatchling in line.

William shook off his feet and wiped them on the backs of his legs as he glanced up at Taggart with a sheepish grin. “Don’t tell Mother, ‘kay?”

“She is not your mother, William. She is the honored Guardian.” Gearlach flicked at William’s wing with a crooked claw as he nudged the hatchling’s tail with his toe. “Have ye not looked in any of the mirrors in the castle? She’s not got a single scale, claw or wing on her scrawny wee body. She’s pink and soft, while we’re hideous, scaly monsters. Or at least that’s what most humans on this side of the portal think.”

William kicked at Gearlach’s monstrous, three-toed feet and pounded on his over-sized belly. “She said I could call her Mama or Mother if I wanted. She told me ‘twas proper ‘cause she helped me to get borned out of my shell.”

“When do ye start your lessons with Septamus?” Taggart interrupted. The hatchling’s butchering of his native tongue made him want to cringe.

“Septamus said Gearlach’s got to unteach me his stuff first. He told me I’ve got to be more mannerly afore he’ll fool with me.” William beamed a snaggle-toothed grin at Taggart and puffed out his scaly chest with pride.

Cutting his gaze over at Gearlach, Taggart dreaded the answer to the question he was about to ask. Gearlach had found an adoring protégé in William and Gearlach had barely reached maturity himself. “What have you done to the boy, Gearlach?”

With a chuckle, Gearlach nudged William with his foot while he stripped a tree branch to scrape the residue of his lunch from between his teeth. “Go on, William. Show him what we can do.”

Bouncing up and down, William clapped his claws together and bounded around the clearing. “Ye know I am too young to make flames just yet, but Gearlach lets me help.”

This couldn’t be good. Anytime Gearlach dabbled with fire, it didn’t end well. It’s a wonder the two hadn’t annihilated the entire tip of Scotland. “Gearlach if ye hurt the little one in any way, Hannah will kill us all. Ye know how she feels about him, right?” Taggart glared at the grinning Draecna with a sense of dread. What the hell had he taught little William to do?

“Now, Taggart. Ye know I’d never hurt the lad! We’ve done it dozens of times. Haven’t we, William?” Gearlach tossed his tree branch toothpick aside and nodded to the smiling young Draecna.

“Oh, aye!” Bending over, William flipped his tail over to one side, took a deep breath and strained. His face turned a deeper shade of green as he squeaked out a peeling fart that lasted several long seconds. “Now, Gearlach!” he shouted.

With a gentle puff, Gearlach sparked the Draecna methane bubble into a roiling ball of flames. It exploded into a brilliant circle of blazing sparks that roiled its way into the sky.

Covering his face with his hands, Taggart shook his head, then raked his hands through his hair. He stared at the beaming Gearlach then glanced over at William who stood waiting for his critique. “You two have set our kind backward in civilization over a thousand years. Do not do that again or I will spell ye both so that neither one of ye can either fart or breath fire again for several centuries. Do ye both understand me?”

His lower lip quivering just below his nubby fangs, William sniffed and stared down at his feet. “Gearlach said it was…was funny and quite talented. He said none of the other Draecna’s could do it.”

“Aye, well. He was right about none of the other Draecna’s doing it.” Taggart folded his arms across his chest and fixed Gearlach with a threatening glare. He couldn’t imagine where the fool had come up with the idea although Gearlach held an obsessed fascination with his flame and any type of explosion. “I hold Gearlach responsible, William. But ye’re getting old enough now to realize what ye should and shouldna do. And I want ye to start spending a great deal more time with Septamus rather than Gearlach. He’s a much better influence upon ye. Do ye understand me?”

“Aye.” William nodded and cut his flickering golden eyes over at Gearlach as if silently accusing him of sending him straight to the gallows.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I am a FOUNT of useless information...

In a few short weeks, I’ll turn fifty years old. (Turn? Kind of makes me sound like a pint of milk.) It doesn’t bother me. As a matter of fact, I consider it a victory over all the adversarial forces attempting to block me from this goal. I’ve learned a lot in my fifty years on this planet and I’ve decided to share this wealth of knowledge on my blog. I know. Exciting, isn’t it? Please be advised that I’ve carefully researched all these items that I’m about to list and found them to be true…at least most of the time. *ahem*

Anyway – here we go:

1.  When plucking your eyebrows, make certain you are holding the CORRECT hair firmly with the tweezers because you WILL sneeze as soon as you begin to pull and it will come out leaving a bare patch –hopefully where you intended.

2.  When you place twelve socks in the dryer, only eleven socks will come out. The twelfth sock is a sacrifice to the dryer god to prevent the dryer from breaking down BEFORE the last load is dry.

3.  Speaking of socks: If you walk around the house in your sock feet, you will be the first to discover where the puppy had his accident and will also know how long ago said accident occurred by the warmth of the puddle.

4.  If you visit your doctor for stomach problems and find yourself all alone – stripped down and waiting in the examination room: as soon as you give in to the explosive urge to release flatulence, the doctor will walk in the door.

5.  You’re watching a movie you’ve been dying to see. It’s the last fifteen minutes of the flick and you’re about to find out whodunit and who’s gonna get the girl. ONE of the following will happen:

  A.  The phone will ring and from the number on caller ID, you know you can’t ignore the call.

  B.  If you’re on satellite, you will lose the signal and get a picture that looks like a mosaic and you’re missing the pieces you really need.

  C.  If you’re on cable, the power will go out.

  D.  For some unknown reason, your spouse will decide to have a meaningful conversation and expect you to respond.

6.  You’ve completed your manuscript and prepared an award winning query letter. Everyone in the tri-state area has proofed it for typos and grammar. It’s perfect and ready to send to the editor/agent of your dreams. As soon as you hit the send button and take one last glance at the file saved to your copy folder, you notice a glaring error that your six year old granddaughter would’ve caught –if only you had let HER read it.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of all I’ve learned in my first fifty years on this spinning marble. I can’t wait to see what I’m going to discover during the NEXT fifty!