I wrapped up the rough draft of Sydney #7 today—woo hoo! Consequently, this seemed an appropriate week for the return of the Friday Five. If you don’t remember, these are grab bag posts with odd little snippets of research and writing and life in general that are interesting, but not individually worthy of a full post. (For this installment, everything comes from the past week, so I didn’t have to dig very deep to resurrect it.) We’ll start with research for the latest book.
1) It doesn’t just look cool… I was checking something about Spanish moss when I came across this tidbit. Did you know Spanish moss was used in evaporative (desert) coolers out west? Essentially fans would push dry, hot air over soaked Spanish moss to cool the air. Or at least so the urban myth goes—I saw it everywhere, but was never able to confirm with any kind of primary source. By that time, I’d forgotten why I was looking up Spanish moss in the first place. 😜
2) Your Automotive PSA—Where’s your Spare Tire? You may recall me sharing a couple of years ago the odyssey that ensued when a friend suffered a flat tire when picking us up at the airport. First, let me repeat the advice from that post: Go to your car and check to see if it actually has a spare tire. Seriously. Because while researching a particular Sydney scene, I discovered that our friend wasn’t born under a bad car sign—lots of new cars come without spare tires now. (Read more about it here.) In fact, some companies don’t ever include them (looking at you, BMW). So go check your trunk!
3) You want fries with that story? To keep my neck from seizing up, I’ve been battling Dragon Dictate again, mostly while reverse-engineering storyboards of the book. (Storyboards are basically Cliffsnotes that come in handy for reference or when discussing the story with someone else; most people write them ahead of time.)
Here’s a dictation tip for you: do not eat nuts (except maybe pistachios) right before trying to dictate. Being verklempt does not improve accuracy. (And yes, that is an acceptable spelling of the Yiddish word; you’re welcome.)
Even without legumes (peanuts, after all, are the worst), I get so many ridiculous results. I’m usually not in a humor to record them. However, here are a few recent ones that made me laugh. Sydney told someone not to be a gel mass. Don’t worry, I haven’t turned to sci fi yet. Any guesses? Ah, yes, don’t be a dumbass. Three guesses as to what Glenn jumps her ship means, and no, it does not refer to a nautical sex scene.
Too crude? The mistakes weren’t all profanity; those just tended to be the funniest to this fried writer. For example, the phrase when no one respects your safe word became when no one respects for C4. You think that’s a diss on explosives, or maybe Dragon is a fan of its Star Wars robot cousins? Not that I can throw stones. I recently skimmed—and misread— an email headline from a travel company: Discover the beauty in Italy became Discover the body in Italy. Once a mystery writer, always a mystery writer.
And now let’s wrap up with a couple of more general nuggets from Hawaii life.
4) Travis is still a dingbat, and the Good Dog is still… well, a dog. It’s been a while since I shared a Pack Update. (Now two dogs, a cat, and countless geckos.) In case you were wondering, Travis is still our special dog, in so many ways. One recent desperate measure to address the poor guy’s itchy, scaly skin (his dander is making us sneeze) was to change dog food. Fellow dog owners (and readers of previous blog posts), you know where I’m going with this… OMG, the dog farts! It’s like sitting in the brass section of the smelliest orchestra ever.
A couple of days ago, I had to chase Travis out the door to keep him from pooping on the kitchen floor while I served dog breakfast. Except I was in such a hurry, I forgot to pick up the dog bowls, so Fred decided to start eating without us. Hey, you can’t let that stuff go to waste!
5) We are inexplicably a magnet for egg layers. I’ve shared before that our carport is a perpetual target for feral chickens looking to roost. As is the corner of our house, the posts for our entrance gate… A few nights ago, one woke us up knocking a basket off a work surface outside.
It turns out fowl aren’t the only ones who want to entrust us with their (almost) babies. Check it out. Those are gold dust gecko eggs in the brim of my hat. The best part? I only noticed them after my husband said there were eggs in his hat the day before. Picture me removing my hat in the midst of donning it for dog-walking. Really? Where? And voila, there they were in mine! You think maybe geckos are Red Sox fans, too? 😉