I must give up reading it

Jamie found a zip file of ghost stories because I love me some ghost stories. It was just a small handful and when we looked on Amazon, they were ones that were available for free, so my guess is the downside is that the author is not getting the hits? (I’m really not sure, sales figures are something I don’t know about).

Within the small handful of ghost stories, I ended up with this book:

True Ghost Stories, Vol. 3 by Rosemary Breen

I didn’t look up the description, because, really, why should I? If it says “True Ghost Stories,” I automatically assume it is the author’s real-life paranormal encounters of things. And hey, you’re up to volume 3, you must be a freaken lightening rod, tromp around through more areas than your average Travel/Discovery channel Halloween special, or you’re re-telling spooky stories of family members and friends along with your own. Ok, that sounds like fun.

It’s not.

These are 1 to 2 paragraphs of “I woke up in the middle of the night. There was a black shadow standing over me. I was very scared!” And variations thereof.

I told Jamie how terrible it was, but that it was so bad I was determined to attempt to finish the whole thing. I…can’t do it.

I gave up at 45%

I looked up the description and apparently it is this woman who did “The Largest Online Survey” for paranormal encounters. Yet, there are no names (I found two names, names of doctors, that were not omitted in a “story”), no notation  as to where these stories came from. The only way you know a story has changed is by a paragraph break and a bolded “title,” which is usually more descriptive than the paragraph-long “ghost story.”

Good grief. No wonder why it’s on “Volume 3.” And there’s little to no editing. I’m not saying like “this should be gone through with a fine-tooth comb,” I’m saying “did you not at least read through this to find where words don’t make sense?”

I give up.

This is not a “quick and easy” read. This is a book of Twitter updates. This is a brain-melting sludge of “are you fucking kidding me” and I can get a better description out of a grocery list than what came out of this.

I told Jamie that if I was to read “Real Life Ghost Stories! By Real Life People!” I was just going to go back onto Dave Juliano’s website (The Shadowlands) and read the thousands of submissions there. Some of them are exactly like what is in this book (e.g. I was reading a book. Someone tapped my shoulder. There was no one there!), but most of them have descriptions and some of them are downright creepy as fuck. Most of them are more than one paragraph, and there are names and it doesn’t make it seem like it’s one person “telling” a bunch of one-liners. Sure, I don’t think it’s been updated in a while, but there are thousands of stories on here and they’re pretty fascinating.

I guess if you read poorly described books or read books whose descriptions start out as “My name is ____ and blahblahblah,” then I guess this is a golden book. But if you read classic ghost stories (or even read about things like The Brown Lady, anything that happens at Eastern State Penn., the Tulip Staircase, etc), antiquarian horror, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Charles L Grant, MR James, or even if you’re just a casual fan of Poe, stay away from this unless you just really want to laugh awkwardly at it.

Mini-vacation

So, “Snowmageddon” has happened. (seriously? “Snowmageddon”? Is it because Virginians stole “Snowpacolypse” a few years back?) I don’t get why we are calling it Snowmageddon, especially because if it were Snowmageddon, everyone would be dead because we’d be living in a bizarro, poorly thought out sci-fi thriller where hiding in a library is a good idea and the only things to survive outside in minus-omfgareyoukiddingme degree weather are dogs who somehow turned into arctic direwolf demigods in less than a week. (I’m talking about “The Day After Tomorrow.” remember that film? It was weird).

The latest snowfall, because gaspshock and amazement, have caused our yearly snowfall to happen in late January instead of February. Instead of the normal “breeze of snowflakes” and a fuckton of ice, we got 20+ inches of snow. Wow, I’m so scared.

On the one hand, our govenor had called for a State of Emergency this past Thursday (this means, technically, I can’t get in trouble for calling in), but on the other hand, our wonderful bizarre little city decided to not pre-treat the roads and my guess is that they just said “to hell with it” and encouraged everyone to freak the fuck out and buy out all the staples of milk sandwiches instead of buying things that would sustain them if anything were to happen. Kind of sad when your local news stations spend more time going over that stores are completely out of milk and bread than actual problems.

But, the plus side is: we are stuck in our neighborhood and have been for the past three days. We were going to try to venture out yesterday, but that didn’t happen as we watched a truck slide its way down the street as we were trading off scraping the driveway. We also learned that the neighborhood wasn’t plowed because, while I was working on part of the driveway, Jamie busted open the door to yell that we had an emergency, and all the dogs piled out of the backyard. The fence was open. Bug won’t leave the backyard without a leash, so she stayed, Cricket will turn around in circles if you say her name (or anyone’s name), and Firefly tried to sneak past me. I was able to grab her by her collar, which was the perfect opportunity for Ty the foster dog to sneak past me, around the truck, and down the street.

There is no way this dog is 11.

She hauled ass, and I ran after her, leaving Jamie to get the dogs back in the house and deal with whatever happened inside. I don’t run. I can’t run (I’ve got heart problems, lung problems, and I just don’t run). The plus side is that, from where people were sliding through the neighborhood trying to get around, I had some packed snow to run on. Ty was ahead of me, I lumbered past people who were shoveling and giving me a weird look as I’m yelling her name. By the time I made it up the hill to the apartments down the road, Jamie had caught up with me. We made our way down to the dog park, didn’t see her, turned around, and got back up to the apartment buildings where a guy who had been shoveling his driveway had stopped someone who, as luck would have it, is holding Ty.

The woman who caught her was relieved that we were looking for her. She said she was about to put her in her truck and post about her on facebook. Ty was trembling (because it’s cold and she didn’t have her sweater on her). We made our way back to the house after thanking this woman profusely. Jamie swore up and down that Ty would never be allowed out again.

We got back inside and Jamie told me that the dogs had broken into the bedroom (because Bug has taken over for Hobbes in being the dog who can pop open the gate) and had gotten into my backpack. They had “destroyed” my “pharmacy.” (a large freezer bag full of things: neosporin, bandaids, sinus pills, benadryl, etc) and Jamie was adamant that the dogs were going to die.

They successfully ate: cranberry tablets and sugar (because I had a couple sugar packets). They destroyed my tube of neosporin, one bit down on the adrinifil and spit it out (powder was everywhere), and Bug ate the bag of cough drops. Bug is fine, this isn’t the first time she’s eaten cough drops. They happily launched stuff everywhere. Everyone’s fine.

So of course, later on yesterday, Bug attempted to get into my bag of candy.

(stuff)

I’ve been spending more time going through various books trying to find something that I will read and finish. I tried Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow and I love Bunnicula, Howliday Inn (and Return to Howliday Inn), and The Celery Stalks at Midnight because they’re adorable and they’re almost perfect little books to entice kids to read more. But I just can’t. I think I got a page and a half in and I’m all Nope. Nopenopenope. Chances are, I’m just not in the mood for it.

I’ve been attempting to read A Mountain Walked, an anthology edited by Neil Gaiman. I’m approximately 2/3 of the way through and…I don’t know if I can finish it. Maybe it’s the story I’m on (“Virgin’s Island” and it says I have 39 minutes left on it).

I’ve also been trying to read through Body At Book Club by Elizabeth Spann Craig and I’m at the point where I’m internally groaning over the goofiness of it, I don’t want to continue, and would prefer to go back to a Hercule Poirot so I can wonder where’s the book where Hercule is pinned as the murderer. Black Thorn, White Rose has been interesting (they’re retakes on fairy tales) and for the most part they’ve been pretty great. And there’s Ghoul by Brian Keene, to which I’m at the point where all I am finding myself doing is asking what happened to the dog, getting pissed off at what happened to the dog, and not giving a shit about what happens to the other characters. I’m at the point where I’m all Nope to finishing the book and I am fine with this.

I spent some time going through notebooks to look for comic ideas and came to the realization that I have a lot of stuff to sketch out. I now have a list of over 200 bits to sketch out and figure out what I’m going to do.

Hobbes is still missing, it’s been just over a week. We’re hoping that someone is giving him somewhere warm to be and nothing else. We’ve already thought of all of the horrible possibilities of what may happen to him. Jamie recieved an email from a person who said that there is a not-for-profit group that uses tracker dogs to find lost dogs and said that we should look into it because the not-for-profit group helped them find their dog. I think that’s pretty cool.

 

trash day

It’s trash day for my neighborhood, so this means that a) my immediate neighbor doesn’t have her trash bin out like always and I’m starting to suspect that she’s a goat in disguise (a fictional goat, one that eats aluminum cans). And 2) that maybe our…less than ideal neighbors (a family of screaming kids, all under age 10, screaming mother, and other people) might actually get some of their trash taken.

This is one of the handful of times since they moved in a few months back that they’ve actually pulled their trash around.

Our city has a thing where if you’re a “large” family (a household of four or more people, little ones included), you can request a second trash bin for all of your waste. It’s not that hard, all you have to do is fill out the online form or call them and request it. We also have a large, neon blue recycle bin that is the same exact size and shape as the normal trash bins that you can throw all of your recyclables into instead of separating paper/cardboard/magazines into one and glass/aluminum into another little tiny green bin.

This family has been using the recycle bin as a secondary trash bin, even though they recieved it with the notification of what it is and what week our neighborhood is (week a or week b, we are week a). They were gone for about two weeks (because nothing says Happy Holidays like the cops blocking off your street and someone getting hauled off somewhere, then a week of blissful silence where all you hear is the neighborhood dogs barking at each other when they go out for bathroom breaks only because it’s freezing)

Jamie had asked me to check the mail (our box, along with a few others, is located on this weird pole/2×4 thing in front of their house) and added the warning: “Don’t get trapped by the trash.”

I didn’t think anything of it and went out the front door. Then I looked over and they have both bins pulled around to the front of their house (I thanked whatever entity out there that I cannot smell things 95% of the time). I don’t know how they managed to pull the bins around to the front of their house, but they’re there and they are piled up with…see-through thin plastic trash bags that I recognize as ones that we use at my job for our bins (those universal thin plastic ones that you can see everything through and even a balled up peice of paper can bust a hole in them)

Both bins are piled up with leaning towers of trash. If it were an art peice, it’d be hilarious. But it’s like, really? Really.

I told Jamie about it and we’re wondering if the collection guys will slap a nice little notice on their door or bins, reminding them that recycle bins are for recycling. In the packet of information for the recycle bins, we all recieved a neat magnet that reminds us what we can and cannot put in there (rotting food, trash bags, grocery bags, plastic packaging like bubble wrap or those air filled puff bag things, etc) There have been times, before we had the big neon blue bin, that the recycling pick up guys refused to take ours because either an aluminum can found its way into our paper bin or we didn’t think about it and dropped a grocery bag of Dr Pepper cans in the plastic/glass/aluminum bin.

Either way, they’ll probably get fined soon because I think they still have kiddos that are in diapers and that’s a biohazard. All those trash bags, sitting outside for who knows how long at times (weeks, seriously) is a health hazard. And leaving all those bags out only attracts the wildlife so that means more skunks and opposums (and our grey fox, but he usually hangs out two streets down), or it’ll attract all the dogs and cats that get dumped in our neighborhood because people are too stupid to either drop them off when the RCACP is open for business, call the RCACP to come pick up their animal because they are no longer able to properly care for it, or just plain too stupid to ask for help.

And it’ll attract rats.

Our house is already seeing signs of our yearly/bi-yearly field mouse issue (one field mouse somehow always ends up in our kitchen. Uggs usually finds it and tries to hide it from the other cats so he can keep it “safe” and play with it. like actual play with it. Uggs loves rats and mice) and I’d like to keep it at our annual/bi-annual one little tiny field mouse who is freezing and wants to be warm than rats.

I’d like to keep our rat level down to Fancy Rats, who are currently nibbling on papaya chunks in their cage and who have learned that they can antagonize derpy-dog Cricket, who thinks they are small cats she hasn’t met yet.

I’d really prefer to not have wild rats attracted to our neighbors house because that means they’ll get them and then those rats will find their way to our house and our surrounding neighbors. Frankly, I don’t think our sweet, quiet elderly neighbors can handle it. I don’t think I could handle it because some of those wild rats in our city are almost as large as Ty the Foster Dog (I think she could hold her own for a few, but then there’s extra rabies vaccinations, stitches, antibiotics, emergency flea baths. I don’t want to deal with it). The rats around here carry fleas and while they may not be bubonic-carrying fleas, they’re still fleas and both Jamie and Uggs are very allergic. I don’t need a very pissed off cat and a very miserable husband.

As I finish this up, I went to go look out the window where I can see the bins clearly and they have added: an empty cardboard box (looks like a flat screen box, but I’m not going over there to look), and about eight grocery bags filled with garbage that they have strewn around the regular bin.

I understand that larger families create more waste, and I also understand that when moving, packing or unpacking, and even just regular cleaning can create more waste, but this is absurd. The piles are higher than I am tall. Granted, that’s not hard when I’m 5’2″, but the piles are looming up to approximately 6 ft.

I hope they get fined.

Not because I’m a bastard (which, depending on the issue, I totally am), but because they need to be held accountable. And hey, who doesn’t know anyone with a truck in these parts? It’s not that hard to borrow someone’s truck and go to the dump.

stoof

Yesterday, one of the other supervisors told one of our regulars: “I hope it snows asshole deep.” It’s been flurrying intermittently since.

One of my “minions” (one of the coworkers that is under me because I get to play “boss”) is under the impression that I have it out for her. One of the other girls had to take her to the side and point out that I say the same thing to everyone who yells across the store at me. I think I’m just going to start going up to people after a while and ask them if they were raised in a barn.

Then again, this is southwest Virginia, some of them probably were raised in barns. (people live on farms, people have converted barns into lovely houses, etc)

People kept asking me what we did for New Year’s Eve. Jamie and I “remodeled” the dog room. We ripped out the baseboards and put up new ones. Jamie’s a little disappointed and says it “looks horrible,” but I keep telling him all we need to do is buy some quarter-round wooden strips and it’ll look amazing when we’re done. We also need to paint over the plaster patches where we patched up some holes. The dogs haven’t seemed to notice.

Snooch has decided to lick my arm. I guess I’m tasty to cats.

During the day for New Year’s, Jamie and I hit up the vet to make sure Ty the Foster Dog has a clean bill of health (she does), then ran to drop off dog and medications (heartworm pills for All The Dogs! including Poedog), run to downtown to get dog tags (because I’m a horrible person and have been running late for everything. how did I do this?), then down to the photographer’s office to pick up our wedding book and cd (squee!) before walking up to Angels of Asissi to drop books of virology for Chelsea, who was super excited to learn that Jamie’s just as weird as she is.

Ran to grab food before heading up to Dublin so Fred could check on the back brakes to the truck (because they’re drum brakes and we have bad luck jacking up the truck). Jamie and Fred worked on the truck, I drank coffee, hid outside with them to get away from the sound of a screaming child and the child’s mother who did absolutely nothing to try to calm it down, and loved on goofy chunkmonster Karma.

We hit up Walmart so we could print out photos for Fred, who was excited, but I ended up staying at the kiosk while they went looking for stuff because the kiosk was so slow that the woman with 237 photos to print (no joke) got to halfway done before our disc even loaded so I could choose the four or five photos Fred wanted. We got up to the line and it was so long that Jamie and I dug through some of the remainder of the Christmas clearance, where I got nail polish (random and Monster High. I like the bottles, but I don’t know if I like the polish) and Jamie found three wooden massage doodads.

By the time we got out, the sun had set, we went back up to Fred’s, said our goodbyes, and hopped in the truck on the way home in hopes of trying to not get stuck in NYE traffic.

 

And, during this, I realised that I had 90-some thumbnail sketches for the comic I want to work on (something that I’ve been working on and off for a while), so the other day I was like hey, I’ve got almost enough thumbnails for me to update twice a week for a year with no problems! And now I have more than 104 thumbnails sketched in my sketchpad (it’s like 115). This is excluding the other thumbnails I’ve got sketched in other notebooks, so woohoo! I think I’m doing pretty damn good :D

Jamie also found a Ramsey Campbell book I haven’t read yet! It’s Holes for Faces and I’m currently working my way through it. I love me some Ramsey Campbell.