Developing Good Writing Habits

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When I started this blog a year ago, the words flowed and writing daily came naturally. After taking a two month break, I thought it would be easy to get back into the writing habit.

Unfortunately, I’m struggling for a variety of reasons. First, I’m having to carve out a time to write after work. That’s harder than it sounds. I’ve now got daily exercises for my shoulder. That eats into the time I have available.

Speaking of my shoulder, I’m still hurting a bit when I type. I’ve got to take frequent breaks which disrupts the flow of thoughts. I’ve started a story on my weekly writing challenge two or three times and then completely lost where I was going with it after having to take a much needed break. The pain, though less than it was, has also affected my thinking processes. I’m unable to get into the writer’s zone.

So, do I wait until I have completed physical therapy? Or do I press on and try to write every day? My thinking is the latter is preferable. I may be writing dreck for a while until I can get into the groove. I’m also not going to worry about my prompt for the week until I can sit and write for a complete hour. Once I do that, I may be posting multiple short stories during each week until I get caught up.

It’s settled then. For me to develop good writing habits, I need to write everyday. Even if it is complete garbage. Bear with me, it will get better.

Prepared To Be Tortured

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Had my first session with my Physical Therapist today. I expected it to be painful. Years ago, I had physical therapy when I broke my pinkie finger. After a couple of sessions, I quit going as it was very painful. As a result, my pinkie finger has a permanent slight crook.

We talked about what to expect. Then he tested my range of motion with my shoulder. It has improved since I saw the orthopedic surgeon except in the area of twisting. In other words, I still can’t wash my back with that arm.

I was surprised that he didn’t try to push my arm and shoulder more than I was able to handle.

Then he had me go through five exercises. As I did each one, I could feel a bit more range of motion. Instead of the physical therapist pushing me, I was pushing myself. I’m going to be a bit sore later tonight and tomorrow.

He told me to repeat these exercises daily when I don’t see him. As I’m very motivated to get back to normal, I’m going to attack these exercises with gusto! Eventually, I hope to be able to sleep in my own bed and lay on my frozen shoulder without waking up with a yell.

All in all, a very pleasant experience.

Just Another Day?

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It’s hard to believe yet another year has come and gone. So many things have happened since my last birthday. There wasn’t much cause to celebrate last year. Cancer treatments were wearing me down. It was all I could do to focus on getting through each day.

Since then, I’ve been cured of my stage 4 prostrate cancer. Started to get my strength back once I went off the medications. I looked forward to being able to mow my lawn in the summer. Mrs. D had taken over the responsibility the summer before while I went through treatment.

Then my shoulder and arm started hurting. Another summer gone and I’ve still not mowed the grass. Maybe next year.

It’s the simple chores that seem like a bother until you can’t do them anymore. I never thought I would miss mowing the lawn.

It was one year ago today that I committed to writing every day. I posted almost every day for 10 months.

I’m feeling better, so what better day than to commit to writing every day again. Maybe I can make it a full year this time?

Florida, Hurricanes and Power

For most of the past week, I’ve been living in the cone. What’s that you say? Anyone who has lived in Florida for a while knows that phrase. It’s being in the cone of uncertainty for the path of an oncoming hurricane. For most of the week, here in Jacksonville, we were smack dab in the middle of the cone.

Hurricane Ian was projected to hit Tampa Bay and then traverse the state directly toward Jacksonville. As usual, there was a mad rush to go buy groceries which doesn’t make much sense to me. How you going to cook all that meat when you don’t have power?

On Wednesday at work, we did our usual hurricane preps. Cleaned up the pipe yard and strapped down loose material. That night, the hurricane hit south of Tampa Bay at Fort Myers. Then it continued toward Orlando. At that point, it shifted slightly to the east. This was just enough that when it turned back north, it pretty much missed Jacksonville. The southern part of the county saw heavy rainfall, but the rest of us only saw light rain and mist and windy conditions.

Naturally and it happens every time, the power was knocked out. For this storm, my power was knocked out for about an hour and then would come back on for 1/2 hour, then back off for an hour or so. This continued all day. When the power came on, we would make a mad dash to the kitchen and brew coffee and do some quick cooking.

In case the power remained off for an extended period, we had a propane camping stove. Didn’t have to use it this time.

Every hurricane is a bit different. This one caused massive storm surges and flooded the hell out of Fort Myers. Sharks were swimming in the streets!

In Florida, most of the state is subject to massive damage during a hurricane. Here in Jacksonville, due to geography, it is probably the safest part of Florida for hurricanes. It’s been a long time since Jacksonville was hit directly with a hurricane. I think it was 1954. Are we due for another one? Eh, maybe. Most people here in Jacksonville do our normal preps, but don’t take hurricanes too seriously. Those that are new to the area tend to freak out the first few years.

Thankfully, even though there was massive property damage in Fort Myers and other areas of Florida, the loss of life was minimal. Houses and buildings can be rebuilt.

Weekly Progress Report #44

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so this is going to be a long update.

Zero progress on writing for the last two months.

About four months ago, my arm and shoulder started hurting. I would get a sharp pain if I moved my arm in certain directions. At first, the pain would subside to nothing, but after a while the pain became constant. I told my doctor about it and he wasn’t sure what was going on but decided to send me off for x-rays. I told him I had a high pain tolerance and gave him examples. Didn’t seem to faze him at all.

Then he sent me to get an MRI on my shoulder after the x-rays came back negative. Turned out I had two torn muscles and some fluid in my shoulder joint. About this time the pain was getting to the point where I couldn’t type more than a sentence or two. I stopped updating my blog and stopped writing stories altogether as it is extremely difficult to concentrate on writing when my shoulder and arm were hurting.

It got so bad that when I tried to sleep, I would naturally roll over on my right shoulder and it would wake me up. I would yell out and that would wake up Mrs. D. This happened all night long about every 1/2 hour. Finally, just to get some sleep, I’ve moved to sleeping in a recliner chair every night for the last six weeks.

Saw my doctor again and found out he couldn’t access my MRI or report due to the change over in software they were in the process of doing. We showed him the report I had gotten from the MRI. At this point, he finally realized that I did indeed have an extreme high pain tolerance. I asked him why he had discounted me when I had initially told him about it. Turns out he hears patients daily saying they have high pain tolerance in an effort to get stronger pain medication.

No wonder!

I rarely if ever take pain medication. Now I know when I see a doctor and tell them I have high pain tolerance, I also have to tell them I don’t want pain medication.

Got a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon as my doctor thought it would be likely I would need surgery. The surgeon took extensive x-rays of my shoulder and arm. Turns out I did not need surgery. Instead he said I had what is called a “frozen shoulder”. An inflammation of my shoulder joint had caused scar tissue and made it where I had lost most of my mobility of my shoulder joint.

He prescribed an injection of cortisone into my shoulder joint. This would help dampen the inflammation and start the healing process. In addition, I will be going through physical therapy twice a week for the next six weeks. Ouch!

As you can see the cortisone shot worked wonders as I’m able to actually sit down and write. I’m still sleeping in the recliner every night and more than likely that will continue while I’m doing physical therapy.

I’m going to make a renewed effort to post daily. I’ve missed writing and interacting with everyone. I’m also about 8 stories behind on my weekly writing challenge. Hopefully by doing at least 2 a week, I’ll get caught up before the end of the year and be able to complete the challenge of writing 52 stories in a year.

I’ve gotten quite a few emails asking about how I’m doing and I thank you very much for the concern and hopeful words. I wanted to respond, but most days all I could do was to try to block out the immense pain I was in.

Mrs. D is a firm believer in that things happen in three’s. In the past three years, I’ve had a stent put in, stage 4 cancer and now this, a frozen shoulder. If she is right, I should be safe and healthy for quite a while. I sure hope so.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.

Quick Update

Haven’t written in a while due to a tear in my bicep muscle. It hurts to type and is killing me right now just to write this short bit.

I got a few emails asking about me and I appreciate the concern. Hopefully the doctor will see me this week about a treatment.

Path

Spying a group of men lined up across the street, my curiosity got the better of me.

I crossed over and said to the men, “I say, good gentlemen, what are you queued up for?”

All but one man ignored me studiously.

One man without looking at me said, “I’m not queued up for anything, I have no idea what the other gentlemen are doing here.”

Confused, I had to slake my curiosity and asked, “Why are you here then?”

The man slowly turned his head and slyly winked at me, “I’m on my writer’s path, perchance this is your path too?”

The challenge? Write a story in 6 sentences, no more & no less, and if you’d like, share your creation or just visit and comment on others’ ideas, with GirlieOnTheEdge, Denise. The prompt is “Path”, and here’s where you join the party: Six Sentence Stories

Dog Days of August – Tess

Stock photo – Not Tess

I first met Tess, a West Highland Terrier breed when I started dating the future Mrs. D. I went over to her house to pick her up to go out on a date. She needed a few more minutes to get ready, so I sat down on the couch in the living room to wait.

Tess came out of the bedroom and stopped and looked at me. I cocked my head and raised one eyebrow at her. Slowly her tail started wagging and then suddenly, she ran toward the couch and leapt up beside me. She paused, looked up at me. I shrugged my shoulders slightly and Tess climbed onto my lap and lay down.

There I was, petting Tess when the future Mrs. D walked out of the bedroom. She stopped in surprise that Tess was on my lap. I later found out that Tess had never done that with a stranger. I believe it raised the estimation of myself in the future Mrs. D’s eyes.

After a year of dating, we got hitched and I moved my new family to New Mexico to the farm. Tess absolutely loved the new found freedom to run in 10 acres of fields. At night, she would jump on the bed and try to get between me and Mrs. D. Sometimes she snuggled with me and sometimes with Mrs. D.

A few months after getting to New Mexico, Mrs. D had to go back to Florida to take care of some things. While she was away, Tess was my constant companion. She loved being in the workshop while I built various woodworking projects. The only picture I have of her is this one beside a scroll saw table I built.

Tess

A few days before Mrs. D was due back to the farm, Tess got into a patch of weeds that have little fuzzy stickers. They tend to glom onto your socks and pants if you get near them. Poor Tess was absolutely covered. She looked like a miniature green monster. I tried my best to untangle the stickers, but there were far too many of them. I realized I would have to do something drastic. So out came the scissors.

I had to cut almost all of her fur off. She looked pitiful. When Mrs. D came home, she was shocked and a bit angry at me for whacking off Tess’s fur. I explained what happened and our youngest daughter backed me up on my story. Mrs. D was somewhat mollified, but until Tess’s fur grew back out, I think she remained a tad suspicious.

Eventually Tess got old and crossed the rainbow bridge. Mrs. D asked me to make her a coffin. That was one of the hardest things I had ever built. I had come to love Tess. We set her in the coffin with her favorite blanket and toy. I found a spot underneath an elm tree beside the house. While I dug the grave, Mrs. D grieved inside with Tess. We brought her out and laid Tess in her final resting place.

I’ve had many dogs in my life, but Tess holds a special place. I hope to see her again when I pass.

Weekly Writing Challenge #30 – Balloon Heist

Prompt – Write about purple glasses. Black hair. Polka dot shoes.

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“Start from the beginning, what happened?”

“It was the darnedest thing. This guy walks into store. He looked funny.”

“What do you mean, funny?”

“Well, the first thing I noticed is that his shoes made a slapping sound. That’s because he was wearing those big clown shoes.”

“Clown shoes? What color where they?”

“Well, they were red with white polka dots. I They were so big, I couldn’t help but think that they would be hard to walk wearing them.”

“What else did you notice about him? What was he wearing?”

“Look, I’m sure everyone else has already told you what he looked like.”

“Yes, but I want to be sure about all the details, so go ahead and tell me everything about how he looked. Besides that, you were the closest to the guy.”

“Okay, he had on these big purple glasses. You know, the ones you get at a carnival or novelty store. He also had what looked like a wig.”

“Wait? A wig? Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it was definitely a wig. I would say it was a Cher wig. You know, black hair that was way too straight and it came down to his knees.”

“Interesting. Go on”

“Well, he was carrying a bunch of balloons.”

“In his right hand or left?”

“Definitely his left hand. Then he stopped in front of me and pulled out a toy gun.”

“Did you know it was a toy gun immediately?”

“Oh yeah, not a doubt. It was bright orange and yellow. He pointed it right at me and pulled the trigger. There was a light pop and a flag came out with the words ‘Bang’ on it.”

“Then what happened?”

“I figured it was a practical joke and I started laughing and looking around to see who had paid this guy to do this silly stunt.”

“When did you know it wasn’t a joke?”

“Well, he pulled out another gun…”

“With his right or left hand?”

“It was his left hand for sure.”

“Wait, wasn’t he carrying balloons with his left hand?”

“Yes, but when he pulled the trigger on the toy gun, he let the balloons go and they floated up to the ceiling. See up there?”

“Yes, I see them. What did he do with the toy gun?”

“Hmm, I don’t know. One moment it was in his hand, the next it disappeared. Anyways, with the other gun, he shot the two Brinks guards that were collecting the days receipts.”

“Was the gunshots loud?”

“No, they were like an airsoft pistol. The guards slapped their necks and then went down. I could see darts sticking out. Are they okay?”

“Yes, they were apparently knocked out by tranquilizer darts.”

“Well, that’s good to know. I was worried about them.”

“They are already awake and the EMT’s are checking them out. So what did he do next?”

“Well, this is what made this whole thing surreal. He put his left finger to his lips like he was telling me to be quiet and then…”

“Which hand did he use?”

“That’s what made it strange, he used his left hand again. I don’t know what happened to the gun. I mean, he could have put it back into his coat. It was a long trench coat. Dark brown, I think.”

“That is strange. Keep going.”

“Well, he picks up a bag of cash from the one guard and then walks out almost in a saunter with his shoes slapping the whole way.”

“What did you do then?”

“Quite frankly, I was frozen in shock. I couldn’t believe all that had happened. Have you guys caught this guy yet?’

“Um, no unfortunately. But we are getting closer each time.”

“Wait? He’s done this before? Why hasn’t there been any news about it?”

“Quite simply, this is the fourth place he’s hit today. I’m sure we’ll get a break pretty soon.”

“Detective! Detective! They spotted him over at the Avenues Mall, looks like he’s hit another place already.”

“Damn it. Um, thank you ma’am. If you can think of anything else, let one of the patrol guys know.”

“Sure, okay. I’m not sure who are the bigger clowns here, that guy or you cops.”

Want to be part of the Weekly Writing Challenge? Using the prompt above, write your story and publish it with a link to this story. Make sure you tag it either md-wwc or #md-wwc

Weekly Progress Report #43

Not a good week to report progress. My arm and shoulder have been bothering me quite a bit. If I twist my arm or move it suddenly, a very sharp intense pain occurs. Even if I keep my arm in a good position, I have a dull ache. That ache is progressing down my arm.

I did an MRI yesterday, so I have to wait until the doctor looks at it and determines what is wrong. Then it’s time for treatment which in my case is usually pretty bad.

All of this has made it difficult to concentrate on writing. I have a prompt for this week’s challenge and I have no idea what to write. This may be a train wreck in the making. I’ll post whatever I have this evening.

Dog day’s of August starts tomorrow. I plan on starting a new series of post for this month. It will feature dogs of course. Yes, I know the phrase is actually dog days of summer which runs from about July 3rd through August 11th. Regardless, I’m making August my dog month.

I’m going to attempt something I haven’t done in over a year. I’m about to go out and mow the lawn. Mrs. D has been attending to that duty while I’ve been in cancer treatment. It’s past due for me to whack the grass. I was able to rototill a part of the backyard last weekend for Mrs. D, so I think I can do the lawn mowing.

My final revisions of my memoir are still on hold. Mostly because I have a severe case of procrastination going on with accomplishing the revisions. Eventually, I’ll get past that and buckle down to finish it.

Till next week, time and tide wait for no man.