Monthly Archives: August 2008

August update

Sorry I haven’t updated recently. You’d think that means that nothing has been going on, but nothing could be further from the truth. It has actually be a really busy month!

First, remodel news. We had our contractor, Todd, come in to install and attic fan. The plan was to install it in the crawl space above the hall in the original part of the house. Turns out there’s no access to that crawl space. We looked at it and determined there was zero reason to have that low ceiling there, so we took it out. Now the hall has the same angled, roof-level ceiling that the rest of the original part of the house has. The hall looks so much better too — it really opened it up!

The next project is the dry lot. We’re not sure exactly what we’re going to do. It all comes down to money (not surprisingly). The theory was to do it before the rains came back in mid-September, but since the rains came back in early August, I’m not thinking we made the deadline. (I’m hoping for some more sun and warm weather before fall officially hits, but it’s not looking promising.) We definitely will redo the footing and drainage in the most-traveled parts of the dry lot. Whether we can do the whole dry lot remains to be seen.

Next, work. I love my job. (Have I said that recently?) Let me say it again: I love my job. My friend Myella is working with me now, and I’m trying to get Debi (and Margot and Sharon) to come on board as well. They officially offered me an FTE position, and although I actually would love to be FTE at this company, I had to turn it down. With the remodel and puppies, I need money and flexibility.

September is going to be a work-heavy month. We’re projecting somewhere between 240 and 280 hours in this four week (normally 160 hour) month. I can do it, but I’m going to be swamped!

My contract is scheduled to end at the end of November. I’m not sure what happens then. I expect they’ll extend it into the new year, but that will depend on the year-end changes to the company’s vendor rules and on their headcount. I don’t think they’ll be able to fill their open headcount before the end of the year, but you never know. All I know for certain is that I want to keep working there!

Puppy update. Oy, where to begin? I want both a curly and a Newf, but I don’t want them at the same time. I think twins would kill me. I would prefer a curly first, but if I can’t get a curly in the reasonably near future, then I’ll get a Newf first. Rain’s breeder, Denise Castonguay, is expecting a fall litter out of a bitch I really, really like. Those pups would be ready to come home at Christmas. If I can get a curly, though, I’ll get a curly instead. Regardless, Jay and I are driving up to Canada in mid September to talk to Denise and see her dogs in person.

Curlies… I’m head over heels for a dog named Otzo in Finland. He’s out of an American dog named Charlie — frozen semen, because Charlie died many, many years ago. Charlie was the first curly in the US to get a Best in Show. Otzo’s breeder isn’t having a litter again in the near future — bummer. But I talked to Charlie’s breeder, Doris Hodges, and she has inseminated her bitch, Summer, with the last of Charlie’s frozen semen. She said she has waited fourteen years for a bitch worthy of that. Frozen semen often doesn’t catch, though, or results in a small litter, so Doris decided to cross-breed Summer with frozen semen from another dog, Thunder. Thunder was (he has also passed away) an amazing hunter and even did some field trials. I would be happy with a pup from either of those sires!

Doris is going to x-ray (ultrasound?) Summer on September 10 to see how many, if any puppies, there are. Summer is due a week later. If there’s a puppy in that litter for me, she will come home in the middle of November. That actually would be the perfect time, work-wise. It’s right near the end of my contract and at the beginning of the holiday season. I was probably going to have the month of December off regardless! Excellent, excellent timing.

If Summer isn’t pregnant, I’ve found out that there are a couple of other excellent litters planned. First, Dawn Fleming is breeding Chant this fall. That should be a high-drive, very birdie litter. Second, Cathy Lew (Pax’s breeder) is breeding Bouclee in the spring. I fell in love with Bouclee. I think my dream litter would be a Bouclee Otzo cross! And if we decide not to get a curly right now and get a Newf puppy from Denise instead, there are lots of summer curly litters, including a nice one in Finland.

Next topic… my mom! My mom is currently visiting. She arrived on Tuesday the 19th and is staying until Saturday the 30th. Nice! It has, unfortunately, been cold and rainy pretty much the entire time, and she was prepared for a SUMMER visit, not a fall one. I joked that we’re trying to freeze her to death. She’s sitting on my couch right now wearing a jacket and wrapped in a blanket. So sad.

We’ve done a few fun things, but most days have been quiet. We drove up to the Tulalip casino one day. We had a great dinner with our neighbors one night. We went to the dog show one day (but that was a disappointing bust). Yesterday was awesome though. The weather was unexpectedly sunny and warm with a great breeze. We drove to Tacoma and went to Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, and then went to the glass museum. On the way home we stopped at Salish Lodge for a fantastic dinner looking over the falls. We’re supposed to go to the Evergreen State Fair in Monroe on Friday, but we may get rained out. Again.

And I think… that’s all. That’s enough for one month, don’t you think?

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Day 4, Wednesday

I think we’ve had the first class of all the classes and met all the instructors. All great guys, all great classes. Such different points of view that still, eventually, come to the same thing.

Both the morning and afternoon session today were Warren’s “Such a Character” class. We spent a long time really focusing on nugget and conflict. He said once you really know the conflict, you can put your character in any situation and know how he’s going to act.

Every good story starts with a question that you are dying to know the answer to. If there’s no question, why continue to watch it? Throughout the movie, you pose the question and present what seems to be an answer – or a way to get the answer – but then, no, that’s not it, and the character has to keep trying. That’s the tension in the film.

He said, you don’t have to come up with answers for your characters. You have to come up with possibilities.

Another thing we talked about today was the idea of an antagonist. He hates that term. Life is not about good versus evil – it’s not that simple. People are not put on this earth just to oppose another person and make his life difficult. There are people with conflicting goals and conflicting beliefs and conflicting paths, and that makes them antagonizing, but not antagonists.

I was THRILLED to hear this, because I hate the concept of a “villain.” I want my villains to be sympathetic. I don’t want them to make evil choices because they’re evil. I want them to make choices that are believable and rational to them. Good people do bad things. Bad people do good things. No one, no matter how evil they have been colored by history, is pure evil. Whatever they did, they had rationalized to believe it was the right choice, just like I rationalize every choice I make.

Did I mention the “figure eight” in Monday’s blog? Unfortunately, I have no way to dray a diagram. In summary, you have two conflict words – A vs. B. Duty versus responsibility. Success versus freedom. Each conflict word has a + and a – beneath it. The path that a character moves through the +’s and –’s is in a figure eight.

In today’s class, Warren went one step further and explained where those changes happen in the screenplay. Act I begins with A+. The inciting incident at the end of Act I thrusts him into A-. In the first half of Act II, the character struggles with A- and finally tries B+. But then in the latter half of Act II, that blows up as well, thrusting him into B-. That sets up the readiness for Act III, which is where real change occurs, and the character discovers an answer that lies somewhere between A and B.

Hope that made sense.

Tonight we had Stewart’s “Personal Connection” again. He is such a sweet man, and his class is largely a recitation of his personal experiences as examples of what he’s trying to teach us. Deeply personal experiences.

Tonight we talked about “river teeth.” These are the key images of our memories that we retain after everything else has faded away. We talked a lot about memories and how those memories can be used in our screenplays. He told us stories and then showed us clips from his movies where he used those memories.

The hardest thing about Stewart’s class is the timed writing. If I had a better picture of my protagonist and antagonist, the exercises would be AMAZING. I’m glad I’m getting them to do later. But I regret wasting the opportunity in class, because what I’m writing isn’t real.

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