Thursday, June 25, 2009

Me and My Manure

I'm in Home Depot today wandering down an aisle when an orange-aproned older gentleman says, "Can I help you, ma'am?"

I am tempted to say no thanks, because I'm not in a hurry (and I hate being called ma'am--I don't think I'm that old yet), but I get the sense he'd rather not be putting together whatever it is he's been wrestling with so I say, "Okay. I'm looking for some cow manure."

He says, "Well, for that you should get yourself a cow."

Ha. ha. Not laughing. That can't be the first time he's said that, right?

"Yeah, I know," I reply. "But that's, um...not happening."

So I follow him down the aisle where I get to choose between the cow variety and the sheep variety. It's even advertised as "no odour"! Woo hoo. There's the premium brand and the discount brand. Since I am only trying to help along my up-until-now pitiful patch of rhubarb (Who the H can't grow rhubarb!? Me apparently.) I don't really want to make this an overly complicated exercise. I point to the cow stuff that's on sale and say, "Thanks, I guess I'll take this then."

He offers to carry it to the cash for me. Gosh, that was nice. After my "Thank you, have a great day," me and my manure went home.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Went on Road Trip...went to jail!

This past weekend saw me far from home. I went on a six-hour road trip for my son's lacrosse tournament. I did not grow up with rep sports of any kind, so having kids who by times travel for their sport is a new thing for me. Costs aside, I've decided to embrace the madness.

I mean, if I'm going to have to go to towns or cities within the province that I'd not necessarily actually choose to visit, I figure why not make the most of my time there? There's gotta be at least one interesting thing in most of them, right? This weekend it was Cornwall, Ontario.
So we hopped in the car and started on our odyssey. What a cool drive. We started in our granite outcroppings and boggy forests and lakes, drove through rolling forested hills, and on to the Ottawa valley with its flat farmlands. Fascinating to see the land change. And then we were there (only two major bicker sessions between the kids, yay!).
Check out this bomber out front of the place we stayed at! That's the St. Lawrence River in the background. For scale, a nine-year-old is about as tall as those bushes.
Too bad the bomber's also a pigeon perch.

Spent Saturday in an arena. But before the gold medal game on Sunday we had some free time. Yay! I went to jail. Here I am behind bars.
That cell was rather cramped. Lucky I was only visiting. The Cornwall jail, which was in operation from 1834 until 2002, is now a museum. It was quite an eye opener for us all. I'm not sure which we all found most fascinating, the graffiti all over or the replica gallows from the days they hanged offenders in the courtyard. Or maybe it was the story of the bodies still unaccounted for that were buried in that courtyard.

Right after that it was off to lacrosse for the final game. After the weekend's tie, win, win, win, the Hawks lost this final game by two. They did themselves proud and took home the tournament silver medal. Congratulations!

Then it was the six-hour drive home. We pushed through pretty quickly, because it was Sunday and the kids have this last week in school. Nor was I looking forward to driving during peak deer/moose roaming hours. We did stop for a break at my fave picnic spot on Golden Lake where my daughter found this dragonfly in the water.
Jumped back in the car and finished the journey. Only one deer sighting, and it decided not to play chicken with me. Phew!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A name, a name...what's with my name?

Lately a bunch of things have come up for me, all related to names. For one, I’ve been toying with a tagline for my website based on my name. More on that in yesterday's post.

This week I had a fun Facebook wall comment thing going with Pamela Ross and Carolyn Double Owen about being called names as kids. We’re all claiming to be in contention for the most easily abused last name. Pamela’s was Morak aka moron. Carolyn’s was Double aka double trouble. Of course I am Flatt (yep, pancake, tire, you name it).

I can still vividly recall my worst name related incident. It was grade 7, and a certain male whose name I remember to this day, but who shall remain nameless here, stood up in geography class just after the teacher stepped out into the hall. He proclaimed to the entire class his opinion that I, Flatt, was the Great Plains and another unfortunately named girl with the last name Biggs was the Rocky Mountains. Sadly our chests did indeed mirror our last names. I was mortified.

Uh, yeah. I think I win. Sorry, gals.

But there are other benefits to an unusual name, and time generally takes care of the frontal development issues. As I said yesterday, at least it's easy-ish to find you on the internet if you have an odd name.

I had a lovely exchange this past week with a woman doing family genealogy. Turns out our families are indeed related. The great-great grandfathers were brothers. And this winter another distant relative sent me a lovely poem written by her grandfather in memory of my great-grandfather.

Then there are the famous Flatts you might actually have heard of. Rascal Flatts just named their band that because it was memorable according to this article or this one. And there's Rachel Flatt the US figure skater. My figure skating daughters like to imagine they might just be even a tiny little wee bit related to her.

So here's to all of you out there with names that people have toyed with, mutilated, and otherwise abused. Maybe we're memorable.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

To Tagline or to Tag Line?

If you troll the internet for advice for writers, many sites urge writers to come up with a tag line or tagline. Sometimes it’s lumped in with something called a platform (yikes), sometimes it’s called branding, and sometimes it’s just a tag line. You know, that one line used to describe a product, business, movie? I like to think of it as a slogan.

So I started thinking of one for myself. But I write nonfiction, poetry, short stories, and fiction (although no book-length fiction is yet published that's the longterm goal). How to sum all that up? Should I even try?

I have an odd name, both first and last. I can admit that now. I hold no grudge against my parents for this, honestly! But it was hard having such an unusual name growing up. Today it actually makes electronic life on the internet much easier because there aren’t a bazillion others in the world out there with my same name. I’ve decided to play off my odd name in my tagline and came up with "flatt-out fantastic."

I guess it’s basically like this:

Books by Lizann Flatt...Flatt-out Fantastic!

or as it is on my website

books by Lizann Flatt
Flatt-out Fantastic!

Of course, it might actually fall flatt (okay, bad pun). But I’ll wear it for awhile and see how it feels.

In case you've been thinking about one for yourself, here are some helpful resources more related to authors and writing. (If you google “tagline” there’s a ton of info out there.)

Creating Author and Publisher email taglines

author branding from Booksquare

author Mitali Perkins on branding generally

good look at taglines in general and how to come up with one

What’s your tagline? I’d love to hear how you came up with it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Today marks the day when I finally admit I'm bored to death of the Blogger template I've been using since day one. So, with a few clicks of the mouse, I have given my home here a makeover. What do you think?

If only spring cleaning my real house was this easy. Sigh.


Poor Pike Present

I happened to look out my window just after dinner the other night, and something caught my eye. Something white was thrashing around in the water. After grabbing the binoculars I could tell it was a seagull. But the seagull was wrestling with something, something that was also white.

For a moment there I had a horrified thought that it was our cat. I mean, I know seagulls wouldn't likely attack the cat, but maybe if the cat had been injured and fallen into the water.... Anyway, it wasn't the cat.

Turns out this seagull was wrestling with a big fish. I must have seen the underbelly through the binocs. After some Herculean efforts, the seagull flopped the fish onto the dock and proceeded to peck and it. Tasty dinner, I guess.

Yesterday I went out to see what present the seagull had left us, and all that was left was a pike head. A bit icky, but it's the law of nature. I'm assuming the fish was already injured because I don't think the seagull itself would actually attack a healthy fish. Here's what I saw.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Friday, June 5, 2009

No Opinion? Not Exactly...It Just Depends

The other day this research company calls and says they’re asking people in my area their opinions and would I have a few minute to answer a few questions.

About what? I ask.

It will be obvious once we get a few questions in, the guy replies.

I must have been temporarily insane or unreasonably curious because I agree to participate. It isn’t but a few sentences later when I remember exactly why I HATE surveys. Of all kinds. Each and every one of them. (This will relate to writing in just a sec, I swear.)

So this is obviously a public opinion poll on social and political issues. Ugh. The reason I hate surveys is because my answers, and hence I guess my opinions, never fit into their neat narrow categories.

It went something like this: The guy says, Answering either Strongly agree, Mostly agree, Neither agree nor disagree, Mostly disagree, Strongly disagree, Should Stephen Harper return to wearing sweater vests?

What!? How should I know? What’s the weather like when he might be wearing them? Where is he going when he wears them? Are they plaid or tartan or plain? How much do they cost? What does he think of them? And of course by now I’ve forgotten the categories so I have to ask what they are again.

Well, I don’t know, I say in exasperation.

Um, I can’t put that down as an answer, the guy says.

So I have to select Neither agree nor disagree. But that’s not entirely accurate. I would have an opinion if I had more information or if there was some context.

Or how about this one? Answering either Highly favourable, Mostly favourable, Mostly unfavourable or Highly unfavourable, What is your opinion of Canada Geese?

Uh, anything else to go on there? Are they eating my grass and creating huge lumps of green fecal residue on the lawn? Are they a fluid V flying overhead on a crisp fall afternoon? Are they honking melodiously from the nearby marsh on a warm spring evening? Are they hissing at me as I walk through the park? What!?

Uh, that’s all that’s written for the question, the guy says.

Sheesh. Guess I don’t know then. Oh, sorry, that would be the secret No Opinion category the guy says he can put my answer in.

But it’s not like I don’t have an opinion, it just depends!!!

It probably took me twice as long to do the survey because my reaction to pretty nearly every question was like this. Obviously those weren’t the real questions, but same idea. Is this a writer’s curse to make up all these scenarios? Do we all make a seemingly simple question into a philosophical exercise? Well, whatever. It was more fun than the boring answers they provided. I say here’s to enjoying the creation of nuances, grey areas, complex characters and rich back stories.

And the next time some guy asks if me if I have a few minutes to answer a few questions, I should just answer, well, that depends. Just exactly how much time have YOU got?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fawn in the Field

I'm doing my best not to grumble too much about the SNOW I saw falling repeatedly yesterday. And it's cold and rainy today. Um, what is the date again?? Anyway, it's obviously meaningless to the universe. So I will decorate my blog today with a photo from last week when it was warm and sunny.

I took this from the side of the road. You can hardly see the fawn, but since mommy was there and obviously nervous of me, I snapped this quick pic and left them alone.

Look carefully because there really is a fawn in the field.

(Hint: lower right quadrant)