Adventures in The World of Writing Vacations.

Okay. You may know that I’ve taken a month-long leave of absence from work to work on a sequel to Zook Country.  God, or somebody with that sort of extra-natural suasion, has decided to inject some levity into my life.  I don’t think it’s funny, but apparently my supervising deity finds hurricane strength storms and late summer monsoons just really hilarious.

The south wall of my house took two seasons for me to seal up to the point where water didn’t come through it when we had heavy rains during a serious blow.  But for the last five years, I’ve not had leaks during storms.  Until last week.  We’ve had water coming through the walls twice in just over a week, and Thursday night it rained inside our daylight basement.

And I wasn’t there.  I had decided, with permission of the management, to watch Resident Evil Retribution.  I went into the theater on the way home from an appointment I had made before the whole leave without pay thing had kicked up, but which had already stolen three hours from my writing day.  I walked into the theater at 4:40 pm, and the movie was just in time to be seated.  I missed a trailer or two, but caught the flick.  What can I say about the film?  It has exactly the same story content as the average single person shooter RPG from the 1990s.  I’ll probably watch the next one when it hits theaters, and be just as mystified as to why as I was on Thursday.

But then I got out of the theater, and my phone alarm went off to remind me that I had to be in choir practice. I called the manager, and my permission slip read “fine.”

Fine is a bad word in my house, just as it probably is in yours.  I asked, and found out that right after I got permission for the movie, the winds kicked up on the ongoing rainstorm and she’d had to buy and place about ten large Tupperware containers on the downstairs bookshelves and below the points of lowest leakage in the kitchen.  She caught gallons of water in the various containers, and soaked up an unknown amount more with most of our household bath-towels, and she was fairly out of sorts.  Nonetheless, when I said I’d skip choir and come home, she told me that she’d already done about all that could be done under the circumstances.

From almost every perspective, the Thursday episode was her story of abandonment and triumph over extreme weather.  Rain really has to be going sideways to get under the gable and drive through the logs.  I went to choir practice because I’m a coward, and because I really needed to give her a few more hours to let her irritation develop a head of steam. I’ve spent the last few days trying to find somebody who can patch up the leaks in the log wall, because this summer looks to work its way into a stormy fall.

So, that’s the most event filled part of my LWOP.  But I went on leave on the 12th, and had to work almost that entire  day.  I’ve had one friend whom I haven’t seen in thirty years decide to come visit (we went to the dump together, oh my), and I think I’m going to have another visit tomorrow.  The other I saw a mere ten years ago, but still…

In the last two weeks, we’ve had hurricane force winds, lost electricity for a day and a half, and had rain-water come through our back wall, twice.  Since I went on leave, I’ve been to the landfill with friends, and family, in a steady downpour and high wind to drop off a half a ton of collected junk. In the last week, I’ve heard from two friends I hadn’t seen in a decade or more, I’ve had two contractors come out to my house, see the flooding, and feel the soaked floor, then either pass on the job as beyond their abilities, or tell me that I’ll have to try to stay ahead of it myself until the freeze, and had one contractor return my call to apologize and say he was leaving state for a family emergency, but that if I’d line my back wall with plastic he’d take a look at when he got back to Alaska.  I’ve got a bunch of stuff to plug checks (cracks) in logs, but they’re so spongy from absorbed water that I can’t do anything myself until the walls dry naturally.

I’ve written maybe 3,000 words in nine days.  When I’m on-step, I can do that in a day, and still have time for chores.  Now I’m afraid to start writing, since it might be challenging the gods of chance, and cause a tree to fall on my house.

Finally, I got another proof copy of Zook Country today.  I was expecting ARCs this month, but I guess that is not to be.  Should I read the new proof copy, or just okay it?  Inquiring minds want to know


From the Revenge of Humpday

From: Bob Bolgeo
I went fishing this morning but after a short time I ran out of worms. Then I saw a
cottonmouth with a frog in his mouth. Frogs are good bass bait.

Knowing the snake couldn’t bite me with the frog in his mouth I grabbed him right behind
the head, took the frog, and put it in my bait bucket.

Now the dilemma was how to release the snake without getting bit. So, I grabbed my bottle
of Jack Daniels and poured a little whiskey in its mouth. His eyes rolled back, he went limp.
I released him into the lake without incident and carried on fishing using the frog.

A little later, I felt a nudge on my foot. It was that damn snake, with two more frogs.

Life is good in the South

The Hoist Operator’s Glove

My experience over the years has been that the conversation during most middle of the night searches eventually devolves to potty humor. Surprisingly, the flight mech in this story never became particularly famous, though for a long time I was half convinced that some fisherman would recover the glove, and turn it over to police thinking that he had found a dismembered and rotten hand, still inside the glove — the result of some mafia related event. I don’t think any of us who survived it were quite able to do this tale justice, no matter how many times we told it over the years.

I was still an Ensign, flying second seat in an HH-65A out of Group/Airstation Cape May on an early morning search for an overdue canoe that was lost in the Chesapeake. Just as we crossed into the search area on Chesapeake Bay, the cabin filled with the most abnormal stench our LCDR Aircraft Commander had ever smelled.

The AC said, eyes watering, “What is that smell? Do you think there’s been some kind of industrial accident?”

Our Rescue Swimmer responded, “No sir. I think that was our flight mechanic.”

The AC said, as tears began to stream from his eyes, “No, no. Nobody alive could make a smell like that. Bill, call Group and see if there are any factories near here. Maybe there’s something in the news.”

I said, “Well, okay, but. . .” I looked back, and the rescue swimmer was sitting in the flight mechanic’s seat. “What are you doing there?”

He couldn’t decide whether to laugh or die of embarrassment. “Flight mech made me move up here.”

“What’s he doing?”

“He’s back in my seat,” which was up against the rear wall of the cabin, as far from the rest of the crew as he could get. “And he doesn’t have a stitch of clothing on.”


“Sir, he made me come up here, went back there, and took off every-thing. He’s just took a shit in the hoist operator’s glove.”

The aircraft commander was one of the more flexible officers I ever served with, but he just couldn’t accept that story, and argued that it couldn’t be happening as reported. I thought that the smell alone should have convinced him.

As it happened, the flight mechanic was producing liquid only, and had done a truly magnificent job, considering the circumstances and the complete lack of warning to the two pilots. He completely filled the hoist glove, until the fingers were inflated, so that it looked almost like there was a hand in it, and hadn’t spilled a single drop in the cabin.

The flight mech tied off his impromptu porta-potty, and we used a modification on the “Deploy the Marker Beacon” emergency procedure to jettison the glove.

The aircraft commander tapped a steady rhythm on the instrument cowling and didn’t speak at all for about five minutes after the glove deployment. He eventually asked, “What the hell caused that?”

“l’m sorry sir, but my wife gave me some chicken tacos for dinner last night, and I just haven’t felt right ever since.”

“Why the hell didn’t you go to sick call?”

“Sir, I didn’t have any idea that might happen, I promise.”

Somehow we believed him.

The AC finally said, “Never do that again. If you have to do something like that, you tell me. We’ll land and you can get out.”

“I’m sorry, sir. But where would we have landed?”

“I don’t care. I’d rather crash than have that happen in my aircraft again. I’ll do anything to never have that happen again.”