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What I Learned This Week – 9/25/16

I know 9/25 was yesterday, but the rules I set forth for my blog say that a “What I Learned” can be posted on Sunday OR Monday, but must always contain Sunday’s date to reflect the previous week.

What? Your website doesn’t have rules?

This week I learned that dreams come true.

I have told parts of this story before, but here is the definitive version.

When I was in middle school I found a kindred writing soul, my asbestos friend. (I have mentioned her on here before.) We both would write stories about what we were interested in at the time—cute boys at school, the New Kids on the Block, etc. Some of these were only a few pages long, and many were rated-R. Sometimes we would let the boys at school read them. That was fun, because they didn’t seem to realize that girls could have minds as dirty as boys—and that we could put it into cohesive sentences to share.

SIDENOTE: Ten years later I was working at a national drugstore chain. I waited on one of those boys. I asked him if we had gone to the same school, knowing full well we had. He asked my name, then left, still looking puzzled as if he didn’t remember me.

He asked his mom if she remembered going to school with a Jennifer Friess. His mom went to a trunk she kept of his school mementos. He was a bad boy then, so there probably weren’t many academic or attendance awards in there. His mom pulled out some of the stories my friend and I had written back in the day. I may even remember him telling us about getting in trouble when his mom found them back then. But, well, SHE must have liked them because she had kept them.

He came back into the drugstore about a week later and told me that. I still am proud of that. His mom must be our first fan.

In high school, my asbestos friend and I would sometimes ditch lunch to go to the computer lab and type stories. Not for homework, but just to get the ideas out of our heads. That was like 1992. I never thought I would ever be privileged enough to have a computer in my own house—such a luxury item.

On Saturday, we sat behind the same table and sold our books. Mine self-published (on my own laptop—my how times change), hers by a small publisher. If I had told that short girl in high school wearing the XL T-shirts (ME) that that would one day happen, she wouldn’t have believed me. And she would have probably gone right then and slit her wrists at the thought of all the work to get to that point. So, maybe it is good I can’t talk to her.

Two dreamers.

Two writers. Two authors. Two dreamers.

We may not have big fame and fortune, but who says that won’t be ten, five, or maybe even a year from now?

I don’t believe it will ever happen. But, I believed that once before about having book. Now I have three. This journey I am currently on continues to surprise me.

Today, it actually scored me a free T-shirt from the local Co-op! Research pays off😀

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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FOTO PHRIDAY: Fall Puppy

This picture was taken three years ago, but it seemed like the perfect picture to usher in fall.

My beautiful puppy, the color of fallen autumn leaves.

My beautiful puppy, the color of fallen autumn leaves.

 

FUN FACT: Her name at the Lenawee Humane Society was Sunny when we adopted her. It lasted all of 60 seconds. She is a “Dave,” through and through.

Have a great weekend everyone. I will be enjoying it at the Otsego Creative Arts Festival. Please come out and see me and enjoy some great family fun. For more info, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/events/

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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Fleas Bite Dog: An Un-News Story

My post on Boxelder Bugs still stand one of my most popular, with 2,450 views. So, I thought I would add to my insect cannon and talk a little about fleas.

Now, I had two dogs in my house for nine years, and I never, ever saw a flea.

I didn’t even know what one looked like.

There were never any fleas on him. R.I.P. Parker

There were never any fleas on him. R.I.P. Parker

I always used Frontline Plus on both dogs. I don’t know if it is still made the same way, but when I first started using it on my favorest Dave dog back in 2004, is said it would provide tick prevention for one month, and flea protection for three. So, I usually waited at least eight weeks between doses (that stuff is expensive), sometimes almost the full three months.

Please, for the love of god, scratch my butt!!!

Please, for the love of god, scratch my butt!!!

Then last winter while I was low on funds, there was a lull in my flea prevention efforts of my one remaining dog of longer than three months. And it was a terribly mild winter here in Michigan. So, I found myself with a flea problem at Christmas. I bought Dave some new Frontline Plus, and they seemed to disappear again.

Then a dry summer hit. According to a flea expert (my mother-in-law), it is the kind of weather that fleas love. Suddenly, it was like the Frontline Plus had stopped working altogether. And, having just dosed her, I couldn’t try another product so soon for fear of side effects. My poor 13-year-old dog had to suffer through the indignity of fleas for four more weeks. Frontline Plus features fipronil (9.8%) and S-methoprene (8.8%).

A picture of a flea. Ugly little sucker, isn't he?

A picture of a flea. Ugly little sucker, isn’t he?

When the time arrived, I tried a brand called Adams Flea and Tick Spot On for Dogs. I was trying to find something with a different active ingredient than the Frontline Plus, that kept failing me. Adams Flea and Tick Spot On contains Etofenprox (30.0%), (S)-Methoprene (3.6%), and Piperonyl Butoxide (5.0%). I must admit, I was drawn to it because it came with an applicator. I always hated how Frontline got all over my hands when applying it—it even happened once while I was pregnant. But, well, after using the applicator I had flea preventative running down my arm and a dog that still had fleas. Adams is gel, rather than liquid like Frontline. But this just meant that the five places I had put it along my dog’s back, as the directions had indicated? Now she left five wet spots every time she laid on my hardwood floor. For a WEEK.

I never tried a flea collar, because I didn’t want to mix flea prevention products, and because she already wears her regular collar with her ID and her choker chain daily. I really didn’t want to add a third. I also never tried flea shampoo. I felt like if I couldn’t apply it to my dog without wearing gloves (as the directions warned), then maybe it shouldn’t touch her skin either.

As the Adams wasn’t having any effect anyway, I gave her a regular bath with dog oatmeal shampoo. That washed off all the eggs and gave her some temporary relief, before the adult fleas began to feast on her flesh again.

Finally, we were far enough out from the Adams treatment that I tried Pet Armor Advanced 2. It had different active ingredients, being Imidacloprid (9.10%) and Pyriproxyfen (.46%). (Who names this shit?) Within about 12 hours, you could see the fleas on her fur, because they didn’t want to be next to her skin anymore. Some became lethargic. The Pet Armor had helped drastically, but we had still not returned to the flea-free life we once enjoyed. Dave can now sleep through the night, but there are still enough that you can pick them off of her. I have tried sweeping all the floors and the couch and washing all places she sleeps. But I really think all the fleas just live in her luxurious Chow undercoat, because the humans don’t have any bites on them. I was worried that the remaining eggs on her might hatch, and that they were irritating her, so I gave her a bath. Just in the few days she had depleted skin oils, the fleas were all over her. I picked off and smooshed 25, just last night. So, we live in a delicate balance. She won’t be due for a redose of Pet Armor Advanced 2 until September 22nd. I hope it doesn’t poop out at the end like ibuprofen does—4-6 hours, my ass. It only lasts 3 hours, tops.

I guess I will keep using Pet Armor Advanced 2 for a while, since I had to buy 4 doses to try it. I know there are new fancy oral flea preventatives out now, but my dog is old and I don’t want to kill her in the process of trying to kill her fleas.

Has anyone else out there who was a long-time Frontline Plus user find it is failing them? And why does the Frontline site now advertise something called Frontline Gold? “Curious,” as Les Nessman would say.

My sweet gurl.

My sweet gurl.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

When Movies Were Magical

My mother took me to see the movie Gremlins in the theater. I was probably way too young to be seeing it. I think it was maybe the second time it came around in theaters. (Back in the olden days of my youth, if a movie was really, really popular, they used to send it around in theaters again after the initial run. There was still a demand for it, and people weren’t able to just go out and buy a VHS tape of it to watch in their home endlessly at their leisure. VHS—see, I dated myself again.) It wasn’t a giant multiplex like they have now. It was a small theater downtown with only two screens, one theater was not much bigger than the average living room. Somehow this made the viewing experience more intimate.

Okay, I may have shown my own son Gremlins too early as well.

Okay, I may have shown my own son Gremlins too early as well.

And I would not even have suspected walking out of the theater that the movie had affected me at all. But then we went to go eat at McDonald’s. We ate in our car, because my mom is weird like that, then she sent me over with the empty bag and wrappers to the garbage can, a duty I usually loved. But suddenly I didn’t want to push open the little brown swinging door and leave my hand so exposed like that. The scene from Gremlins flashed in my head where the guy is trying to mail a letter and a gremlin pops out of the mailbox and starts chewing on the guy’s hand. My overactive child’s imagination could picture that happening, and it scared me.

How many movies now a days do that for you? For any child, even? Do they believe that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will really pop up out of the manholes in the street?

I remember when my mom took me to the same theater to see The NeverEnding Story. I don’t even remember any marketing for it. I don’t think there were ads on television; I didn’t beg to go see it. She just took me because she thought I would like it. Or maybe because she wanted to see it, I don’t know.

"It's not real; it's only a story!"

“It’s not real; it’s only a story!”

Because the theater was downtown in our closest, but small local city, we had to walk down a block, through an alley, and back to the parking lot where our car was after the movie. The tallest buildings are probably only four stories, tops. But the alley and the tall buildings were enough to give me the impression of the city Bastian lived in in the movie. And so I looked up in the blue, sunny sky at the smattering of clouds, and I BELIEVED that Falkor could fly over us at any moment, as he had at the conclusion of the movie. It was thrilling. I felt it in my blood. I have NEVER forgotten that feeling.

And I am not sure that I have ever experienced it since.

Yaaaaaaaaa!

“Yaaaaaaaaa!”

Are children going to walk out of the theater and believe that Transformers can really fly through the sky over their heads?  Maybe. But they also can go home and play with plastic toy versions on the floor in their bedrooms.

Part of Falkor’s magic was that you could not go buy a stuffed one in the store then. (You probably can now. If so, buy me one and then call 555-GUN-GLOW for the address to ship it to.)

This weekend the Rave theater near us had special showings of The NeverEnding Story. It might be greedy or stupid, but I yearned to be in that theater again when the theme song blared through the speakers, blocking out all the other sounds of popcorn and candy wrappers and slurping straws as clouds churned on the screen. I wanted to walk out of that theater again and believe that Falkor could be flying in the sky. Really, I was hoping my son would have a similar experience to what I had in 1984*. It turned out he wasn’t as impressed by it as I was. There could be several factors to that, including that he has seen the movie before on DVD in his own living room.

But, seeing it again was AWESOME. Maybe, sometimes, movies can still be magic.

Ever wonder what happened to Bastian, played by Barret Oliver? So did I. So I found out and wrote a post about it. It angers the dreadlock community. You can read it here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/2013/01/13/what-i-learned-this-week-1132013/

Just a reminder I have an event this Sunday: The Kerrytown BookFest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. For more details, click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/events/

*All the awesome things came out in 1984: The NeverEnding Story, Punky Brewster, Night Court

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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The Punky Brewster Shoes

MY MOTHER: I bet you still have those nasty Punky Brewster shoes stashed away somewhere.

ME: Why yes, yes I do.

At the height of popularity of the television series Punky Brewster (It couldn’t have been too popular, because NBC cancelled it after only two seasons.), there was much Punky Brewster merchandise available (That right there would have been a good reason to keep it on the air.). I had a Punky Brewster T-shirt, backpack, Punky & Brandon dolls, bead kit, and clay pin kit. I even had a Halloween costume, which was actually very silly because I looked more like her in my normal clothes than in a plastic mask and vinyl suit. But what I liked the best and got the most use out of were my Punky Brewster shoes. They were hightops (that was the popular style way back then).

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

It always bothered me that, contrary to all reason, they did not actually look like the shoes that Punky wore on the show! On my TV, she wore what appeared to be two totally different colored Converse All-Stars. (I just realized that I originally watched Punky Brewster only in black and white—can you imagine!) Maybe the problem lay in that the contract for the shoes most likely did not fall to Converse for manufacture. Maybe someone was afraid two different shows would become parted at the store. Unfortunately, the shoes matched each other, but they WERE multi-colored. They said Punky Brewster on them. They must have come with boring laces (As if!), because I quickly replaced them with neon green ones. My son asked me, “Did you color the laces?” I could see where he would be confused. I recently DID color some laces, and the shoes as well. I responded emphatically, “No. It was the 80s, a wonderful, colorful time.” [Rant: Now we live in a time when Simon is trying to remove all color from the world and reduce us all to only black and white, starting with their malls across the country.]

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

My mom bought the shoes very large-2 ½-because they didn’t have my right size. I wore them as long as my feet would fit in them. There was even a big P or something on the sole. But I wore them until it was gone. I loved those dang shoes. I cannot imagine why my mother thought I would actually throw them out when I was done with them. The more she asked, the deeper I hid them in the back of my closet. Sometimes I would bring it up just to spite her. I have brought them with me through three moves. The effect of heat and moisture may be reflected on their deterioration, but they are still a treasured possession.

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice...

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice…

So now, you know if you are ever around me and I mention “Punky Brewster shows” that I am bragging about my mad hoarding skillz.

Don’t get me started on all the photographs I have, both digital and snapshots, that I am trying to store and keep organized.

For more of my Punky-related posts, please click here: https://imnotstalkingyou.com/?s=punky+brewster

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It THE CONTINUING ROMANCE!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!

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