The Life and Times of Napoleon

Less than a month ago, my family said goodbye to one of our dogs. He was 16 years old and had been losing the battle with a brain tumor since November last year. We knew it was finally time to say goodbye because he would get up and eat breakfast each day and after that just sit down and stare at a wall. He had zero enthusiasm for anything. He was also struggling to walk and use the bathroom. His quality of life was gone.

Napoleon, before things went sideways, 2020

Despite that, it was still hard to say goodbye. My husband and I only have one child, and our pets are like our babies. And I know 16 years is a nice life for a dog, but I must be selfish because I don’t care. I wanted him to live longer. It’s been a few weeks and I still have to stop myself from getting him a plate at meals times like I do for the other pets.

In addition to missing him like crazy, I’ve been thinking back on his life with us. He had a good life. I’m not saying that to sound superior. We take good care of our pets. They are important to us.

The absence of Napoleon has left a dachshund sized hole in my heart. I wish we could have had more time together, and I hope he knows how much he was loved.

Napoleon was the first dog we adopted. We actually adopted him after we went on a 9 day camping trip to Yellowstone. At the time in 2004, my husband and I were young and newly married. We went to Yellowstone and camped, really camped, in a tent, without showers, on the ground. While we were there we ran trails, (this was a long time ago when I still ran), and we swam in the lakes. We saw so many people camping with their dogs, and on that trip we decided we were going to get a dog so that next year when we went camping, we would have one too.

Shortly after that trip, we adopted Napoleon. I don’t know how we decided on a mini dachshund, but when I saw him, I knew he was ours. We brought him home and introduced him to our cat, Electra.

Napoleon on his first day with us and me circa 2004

The next spring, we decided to go camping again. We were excited because we would finally get to take Napoleon with us. We had been taking him running on trails throughout the fall and spring and he enjoyed that, so we figured he would enjoy camping.

The first night of our camping trip, he couldn’t sleep. He paced and paced the tent looking for a real bed. (At home he slept in bed between my husband and I). Not only would he not sleep because sleeping on the ground was not his style, he acted like being outside was too hot. He clearly wanted to know where the AC was. My husband and I thought he was hilarious. We figured he would adjust; we were planning on staying 5 days.

The second day of our trip, we went swimming in the lake, and of course we took Napoleon with us. It turns out he was an excellent swimmer. He looked like a river otter and he was pretty fast.

Napoleon, the indoor dog

My husband and I would take turns carrying him out into the lake, and the other would wait closer to the shore. Then, we would release Napoleon and he swam to other person. After about the sixth time of this, Napoleon figured out our game and instead of swimming to the waiting arms of my husband, he veered right and went for the shore. Once on shore, he took off running.

My husband jumped out of the lake and followed. I got out of the lake and waited for them to return, but after twenty minutes, they didn’t show up. I gathered our clothes, picnic things, and floats and waddled my way down the path back to the campground. On the way back, I passed a family heading to the lake. I asked them if they’d seen a tall man and a short dog running on the path. They laughed and pointed back towards camp informing me that they were all the way back at our campsite.

I found them both there. My husband was laughing. Napoleon was supposed to be our camping companion. He HATED camping. He wanted his bed and indoor air, but most of all, he didn’t want to swim.

We didn’t stay a full five days and cut that trip short to three days. After that, we didn’t take Napoleon camping anymore. He didn’t turn out to be outdoorsy, and that’s okay.

He was still the best dog ever.

Big Yawn for Napoleon, and yes, that’s his bed

Hindsight…

This month has been pretty great so far. I’m taking the time and settling into my new routine for the year. (Just in time for it to change again as my daughter might finally get to attend in person school again, which we are both super excited about). However, as I’ve been working on my new goals for this year, I’ve also been reflecting on what I actually accomplished last year. Despite the superbly weird year that it was, it wasn’t all bad.

Here’s what I actually managed to accomplish…

  • Read 40 books (I’ve underlined the ones that were high points in the year for me).
    • The Library of the Unwritten
    • The Starless Sea
    • The Destined Queen
    • Bright Lights, Big City
    • Night and Day
    • The Shadow of the Wind
      • I adored this book. I don’t want to give away the plot but it’s about love and revenge. It’s soooooo good. READ IT.
    • Fledgling
    • Beautiful Darkness
    • Grand Union
    • Locke and Key Vol.1
    • Batman Arkham: Black Mask
    • Mastiff
    • Predator’s Gold
    • This Mortal Coil
    • Scythe
      • I sat down to read this and didn’t get up till I was done. Imagine being and working for grim reapers in a society where people don’t die anymore…..
    • The Stone Sky
      • This is the third book in a series. If you haven’t, read them all. The series is amazing and this was the perfect end to it.
    • The Girl in the Spider’s Web
    • The Left Hand of Darkness
    • When You Reach Me
    • Cursed
    • The Lovely Bones
    • Follow Me to the Ground
      • This book definitely falls into the “weird tale” category of fiction. It’s bizarre and amazing. I can’t explain it; it’s too weird. Read it.
    • The City We Became
    • This Savage Song
    • Magpie Murders
    • Lost Boy
    • Practical Magic
    • The Invention of Hugo Cabret
    • The Dreaming Vol.2
    • Walk Two Moons
    • Our Dark Duet
    • The Constant Rabbit
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 1
    • Black Market Unicorns
    • Word by Word
      • This is a non-fiction book about how dictionary entries are completed. I found this whole book fascinating, and the author is funny. Great read!
    • The Lost Plot
    • Wayward Son
    • The Complete Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 2
    • Born a Crime
    • Shatter Me
  • Wrote and published my second novel
    • If you haven’t heard, the second book in my series is out now on Amaon! Buy your own copy here:
    • Black Market Unicorns
  • Wrote 12 short stories (click the links to see last year’s short stories)
  • Finished a cross stitch gift for my sister
    • I stitched her some flowers with a snarky saying. It’s one of my favorite projects I’ve completed. (You can see it below this list).
  • Moved
    • We moved from Kansas to Washington, and even though it was rough, we did it! We are settled in now and everything is going pretty good here. I just can’t wait for the schools to open because my daughter is getting cabin fever!

All in all, it wasn’t a bad year. It was challenging, I’ll give you that. Anyway… let’s move on…

Happy reading and writing this month!

This Year So Far…

Usually about midway through the year, I sit down and assess where I’m at with my personal goals for the year. I never really got around to it this year because we moved from Kansas to Washington in June, and everything has been utter chaos until recently.

So, anyhow, let’s see how I’m doing. These are my goals for the year:

  1. Read 40 books
    • I’m doing well on my yearly reading goal. I’ve read 28 books so far, and according to the tracker on goodreads, that puts me two books ahead of my goal right now. Yipee!
  2. Write the 2nd novel in my series
    • Working on this one, slowly but surely. I didn’t work on it from May till July because the move was nuts, but I’m at it again, making slow progress.
  3. Sell the house we own
    • Not yet. Our renters keep postponing their move out. The world is nuts right now, what can you do?
  4. Stop drinking soda
    • I stopped for a while and then started again, and now I’m back to not drinking it again. It’s my weakness!!
  5. Write 12 short stories
    • I am running a bit behind on this one. I haven’t finished my story for August yet, so I’m running one month behind at this point.
  6. Finish the Grimm Fairy Tales SAL
    • This is a cross stitch project I’m working on. It’s getting there, but I’m not caught up. There is a new section released each month, and I’m a few months behind at this point. UGH!
  7. Finish my gift for Mindy
    • DONE! One small victory! (You can see it below).
  8. Finish my flower needlework
    • Still working on this one. I’ve made really good progress on this since I moved it into the living room. I’ve been working on it when I watch tv at night.
  9. Move
    • DONE. This was a big victory and the single most awful move my family has endured.

So, honestly, things are going okay. I wish I were done with a few more of these, but I’m working on them. I hope everyone else is reaching their goals despite the obstacles of life right now.

Happy reading and writing!

This is the gift I made for my sister.

Getting back on track…

I am running terribly behind with just about everything.

We are mostly unpacked with just a few lingering boxes of things I’m not sure if I’m going to unpack floating about. Things are starting to settle for my family. We enrolled our daughter in school, and we’re starting to learn the lay of the land. That being said, it’s time for me to start getting back on track with things. I need to write three short stories at this point (June, July, and August’s).

With that in mind, I’m going to try and get caught up in the next few weeks so that by Septemeber, I can get back to my normal posting schedule.

I’ve already posted June’s prompt, but it was so long ago, I will re-post it now:

After the funeral, I spent the next few days in the attic, reading the letters my mother had written him in the years before they were married. He had never been the sentimental type, so I was surprised to find a whole box of them, carefully bundled. Even more surprising was…

Complete the Story

For July, here is the prompt I never got around to posting because of the move:

It felt uncanny, but oddly good, to hear kids running through the house again. I wondered if I could handle being a father, or at least a father figure, after all these years. I thought about the times when…

Complete the Story

And finally, the story prompt that I should be writing for August:

Always the same old lines whenever she came home for the holidays, like her parents were rehearsing a play over and over and never could get it right. Yet they didn’t seem to notice how much they repeated themselves. Her father would sit down to dinner and say…

Complete the Story

It’s a lot to write in the next few weeks, but here we go…

Happy reading and writing everyone!

Still Struggling

Since my last post, things have not gotten any better. This has been the worst move that my family has ever been through.

Today, as we were unpacking one of the last boxes we found my coin collection archival box, but it was empty.

The movers/packers opened my archival box, which just looks like a black cardboard binder, and took my coins.

My coins don’t have that much value — maybe between 20-40 dollars. The coins have sentimental value though. I have been collecting them since I was a child. Most of them are not even US currency. I had coins from all over the world in there.

But the ones that hurt the most are the one dollar bicentennial coin that belonged to my great-grandfather, and the coins we gave to our daughter when she thought we were the toothfairies. They’re gone. The dollar value isn’t what was important. They were important to us because they were tied to memories. And someone stole them.

So, to the mover who took my almost worthless coin collection — SHAME ON YOU.

Moving

It’s been a while since I’ve posted because my family is moving. I’ve had little time for writing and reading.

The move isn’t going to plan. In fact, nothing is going according to plan lately. Instead of being able to make thought out choices, we’ve had to just go with options that we really don’t care for. Our plans for where we were going to live didn’t work out, and now we’ll be living (for a year at least) in a townhouse that is half the size of what we had before.

Not only that, but moving is a lot of work and we will be doing it again in just one year because our plans fell through. I don’t enjoy moving.

And, other things have gone wrong and ended up costing us a lot of money that we were saving for other things. We suddenly had to ship a car, and it cost over a thousand dollars. The car was damaged and it’s going to cost over a thousand to fix it.

It just feels like nothing is going right for us. In addition to all of the stress of moving, my anxiety is getting the best of me. I am losing my mind. I don’t like the way things are working out, and I’ve never been good at making the best of things. I like things to go to plan because that means I had time to prepare.

So, I’m cranky. Extra cranky. And when I feel that way, I want to go home, to my safe space. Instead we will be living somewhere that we’ll have to put a lot of our belongings in storage. It won’t be home. It will be temporary and it will feel that way for an entire year.

I know there are bigger problems in the world right now, but I’m just tired and would like one thing to go right.

Hope everyone else is having a better summer than me.

Happy reading and writing.

June’s Prompt

It’s been a long month… I am behind (obviously) with some of my side projects… My family is moving on the 2nd of July, so planning and getting thrings ready has been my full time job right now.

Anyway, that’s no excuse to not write… Without further ado (and more excuses), here’s June’s short story of the month prompt…

After the funeral, I spent the next few days in the attic, reading the letters my mother had written him in the years before they were married. He had never been the sentimental type, so I was surprised to find a whole box of them, carefully bundled. Even more surprising was…

Complete the story

Now, get writing!

Only kidding; you do you.

Happy reading and writing this month!

Dad, Follower of Merlin

May 2020’s short story of the month

Present day…

It was odd to be in a room full of people who all seemed to look up to my dad like he was some kind of hero. A part of me wanted to see him through their eyes just for a moment. I tried to picture him as one of the Followers of Merlin. The Followers were some of the most powerful magic users in the world, and they were treated like rock stars in the magical world. Was that really how these people saw my dad?

Dad was just… Dad. He wasn’t a hero or even all that powerful. He wore socks with his sandals, and he sang oldies while he washed dishes. He wasn’t anything special.

As I moved from group to group, listening to the stories being told by the Followers, I started to see my dad in a new light. He hadn’t always been Dad. Before my sisters and I were born, and before he’d settled down with Mom, he’d been an active member of the Followers.

I stopped roaming and listened to one member tell the story of how he met my father.

“He was the fastest caster there,” the story teller said to the group around him. His anecdotal evidence resulted in a lot of head nodding and smiles. Apparently, the rest of this group had similar encounters with my father at some point.

A woman standing on my left chimed in with, “His fire bolts were hot enough to burn a tree in a matter of seconds.”

Again, there was a round of nodding.

I walked off trying to understand what I was hearing and reconcile it with what I knew of my dad.

Just that morning, my father was making pancakes and he used magic to make them into scenes from fairy tales, but that was the first magic I’d seen him use in almost a month.

My mother didn’t encourage any of us to use magic for day to day tasks, even my dad. I just couldn’t understand why the person everyone was talking about would give all that up to be a dad.

Finally, the hall lights flickered, which meant it was time for the ceremony.

I stood next to my dad while the Head of the Followers gave a speech introducing my dad and his accomplishments. Throughout the entire speech, I couldn’t help myself; I kept looking at my dad trying to see him how these people did. I just couldn’t see it.

********

Many years ago…

He chose his battle armor carefully that day. He was leaving for the front with a conclave of users. He shouldn’t be excited about going to war, but he was. He wanted the glory. He wanted the fame. He wanted to show his meddle. This was his moment.

His grey caped billowed around him as he marched proudly down the hall to find the others. His belongings were all ready packed and waiting. He could feel it in his bones; this was going to be a great time in his life.

*********

A few weeks after his arrival at the front…

He opened his eyes but couldn’t make himself get up. He was weary, so unbelievably weary. His bones were tired. He wasn’t sure if he had the will to attend to his watch that night. He just wanted to rest.

“On your feet,” the shift sergeant yelled.

He didn’t move. He stared at the ceiling.

The sergeant stepped closer to him and whispered so the others wouldn’t hear, “Come on. Get up. Everyone is tired. This is what you signed up for.” He looked down at the wizard with sympathy and moved on to get the others up.

********

A few months after that night…

“Come on men! We are finally making them retreat. Don’t lose hope now. Show me what you got. Put everything out there. Don’t try to conserve energy. Hit them with everything you have!” He was shouting as he paced in a circle in the middle of a group of weary wizards who’d been too long at battle.

This war was supposed to be over in matter of weeks, but it was trailing on and on. He’d joined for glory and fame. There was no glory here at the front, only death and blood. He’d lost count of the number of troops and wizards that had rotated through his conclave.

“The important thing to remember is that we’re winning.” The sergeant walked up behind him and placed his hand on his shoulder.

“Let me take it from here,” he whispered.

He just nodded and stepped aside. Pep talks were not his strong suit. Others followed him because his name was spreading like a wild fire. He was a war hero. A hero who wouldn’t leave the front even though he’d fulfilled his duty to crown and country. He stayed and continued to fight.

He knew what the troops were feeling. He remembered those days when he could barely move day after day. Somehow, he had managed to push through those feelings and keep going.

********

Sometime between present day and his last day at battle…

He paced in the hallway and could hear the screams again. He wanted to help but there was little he could do in this situation.

The screaming continued, broken up by sobbing. He could hear people moving about and at one point, something metal dropped onto the floor.

After what felt like ages, a door finally opened.

The midwife who popped her head out said, “You have a daughter.”

He smiled and stopped pacing. He sat down on a bench and felt weary down to his bones, but there was something else there too. He felt hope and saw a future that didn’t ask him to be anything more than what he was.

What I’ve Learned About Homeschooling My Child…

So, like many parents in this crazy world we live in right now, I got the pleasure of “homeschooling” my child through the end of the school year. (So happy it’s over).

Here are some things I learned:

  1. My daughter NEEDS to go to school. She is smart and learns easily, but she argues with me about every SINGLE assignment. If she doesn’t argue with me, her work takes less than an hour, two tops. But instead, it’s a 6-hour battle of her saying how much she hates being homeschooled and me telling her too bad. Part of it is that she’s an only child and needs more interaction than talking to me.
  2. I don’t like homeschooling. (Read number 1). In addition to a difficult 11-year-old, I honestly don’t know what she should be learning. Her school was providing some distance learning, but it wasn’t enough, so I decided to add some other subjects and keep her learning new concepts. I was using workbooks, but I have no idea if they are what she needs to be focused on to prepare for middle school.
  3. Teachers should be paid more. See 1 and 2.
  4. My child and I should not be left alone with nowhere to go for this many days in a row. She is actually easy going for an 11-year-old, but the more I’m the only person she interacts with, the more I see her pre-teen sassy side.
  5. Ultimately though, if we have to, we can muddle through. Some days are harder than others, but we survived!

I don’t know what next school year is going to be like, but we’ll survive that too.

Back to writing!!

Happy writing and reading this month!

April’s Prompt

I am behind this month because the world is crazy! I’m sure many of you are feeling the same way. Days are running together… no one ever leaves the house… my child is never more than a few feet from me… but overall, life is still good.

We have been working on cleaning out extra unused items throughout our whole house. It’s kind of amazing what you accumulate over time and stash away out of sight and then it multiplies and before you know it, you have a basement of old household goods that are usable but dusty.

But the real reason I’m writing today is that I only just realized that I haven’t posted a writing prompt this month. Without more rambling, here is the April short story of the month prompt:

It was different, writing on a typewriter; the clatter and noise, the resistance of the old keys forcing her to really put some effort into each letter. She imagined she was…

Complete the Story

This should be an interesting one… writing about a writer, but it still needs to fit into the “world” I’ve all ready created this year.

If you’ve missed my stories this year, I’m trying to link them all. Here are the stories so far:

Turkey Dinner Stalemate

Canned Memories

Adventure

Happy reading and writing and whatever else you are up to this month!