Category Archives: Life

Emergency Preparedness

My family moved to Washington State when I was 12.

Earthquake country.

Since then, I have lived in WA and CA. I even felt a couple minor quakes while living in the Bay Area.

I should have put together an emergency kit years — decades — ago, but I just never got around to it.

A few weeks ago, author Elizabeth Bear tweeted a link to a New Yorker article on the Big One.

It finally scared me into action.

If the Cascadia fault does bust all the way up to Washington, Port Angeles is going to be in deep trouble. If we make it through the initial quake, there will be a tsunami, and then if we survive that, the whole area will be such a mess that it might be a good long time before we get help.

So, properly motivated, I finally went through and put together an emergency kit. With Amazon’s help, I was able to get it done in an hour or so by starting with emergency radios and first aid kits, then looking at the “customers also bought” items.

I think this is a nice, solid basic emergency kit, suitable for anyone who is living in an area at risk of a large-scale disaster.

The whole thing cost a bit more than $100 . . . not cheap, but if I ever need it, it will be well worth it. Of course, I hope that I never actually need it!

If you’re looking forward to put together a kit of your own, feel free to use this as a jumping off point!

My focus below is on a non-food emergency kit – but my friend Blair McGregor recently did a nice post on food preparedness.

Did I miss anything critical?

Emergency Kit Contents:

The most basic requirements have an asterisk; many of the others are nice to have, but not critical.

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Communications

  • *Emergency Radio with USB charger
  •        Cell phone charging cable
  • Sharpie/pencil
  • Paper (for making notes)
  • Telephone list (emergency numbers in case you gain phone access, but your cell phone got broken)

Health

Light

  • *Head lamp (or flashlight)
  •        Extra batteries

Shelter

Tools

General

*Food

Not pictured. Ideally you would have enough for at least 3 days.

Human power pellets or a bunch of canned food . . . Whatever you can actually keep on hand and swap out as necessary.

If you have pets, include some food for them — or select canned food that either of you could eat.

If you want to be properly prepared with more than a few cans of food, here’s  a nice post on food preparedness.

*Water

This is partially covered under health (water treatment), but in an ideal world you would have actual containers with at least 3 days of water.

Clothes

In an ideal world, you would have some layers, clothes, socks, etc. Take some things that you were planning to take to the thrift store, and stick it in your emergency kit instead. Ideally you would have such things in your car, anyway, so one cheater method is to stash a copy of your car key in your emergency kit, and just keep the clothes in the car. Of course, you better be sure that your car will be home if you are!

Aftermath

In an ideal world, you would have a packet of paperwork with copies of your identification, insurance, telephone numbers, etc.

Placement

You have your handy dandy kit. Now where are you going to keep it? I’m stashing mine in a shed, so that if the house falls down I can still get to it. Wherever you put it, imagine the structure in a heap of kindling. Could you still get to the kit in a pinch? If so, you’re good.

 

I broke my emergency kit into a compact kit of items that can just live in a plastic bin.

I’m keeping the food and water separate, since those are bulky, and need to be swapped out periodically.

Even if I get sloppy with the food and water, at least the gear will still be there!

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And if the big one does come . . . well, I’m going to owe Bear a lot of drinks for spurring me to get my act together.

Vinnie’s New Bed

When we bought our house in Port Angeles, it came with a sweet old barn cat named Vinnie.

I was a bit dubious, already having two indoor/outdoor cats, but it has worked out just fine. Except for the guilt aspect.

It doesn’t get insanely cold here, but it does dip below freezing now and again. When it does, Vinnie retreats from his normal bed on the porch to a warmer nook below the house. Even so, I feel bad.

Unfortunately he sprays, so bringing him inside isn’t an option.

Enter: the heated pet bed.

Rob ordered it for Vinnie a few days ago, and we introduced him to it last night. He may not leave it for the rest of the winter, except for food and pets.

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This picture is through the stained glass on our door (hence the multiplicity of cats). If I go outside he’ll promptly hop out of bed and ask for a good petting – ruining the photo op.

Retrospective – 2015

Well, it has been quite a year!

It has been a wonderful year, with plenty of projects and nuttiness and joy, plus a smattering of sorrow to remind me to appreciate the joy.

 

Writing

I started off the year well. I finished up revisions for Joining the Draken, and sent it off to some of my Viable Paradise friends to beta in the spring.

The feedback was generally encouraging and extremely helpful. It clarified that I needed to strengthen the main arc quite a bit, and work on my tension and conflict throughout the story.

I had hopes of working on revisions in the summer, but I ran into two things: work was unexpectedly nutty, and I had a wedding to prep for in September. I underestimated both!

I wound up setting writing aside while I saw to the rest of my life.

It has been a pleasure getting back to it. I’m now in late-phase revisions, having been working along on it since October. I’m tweaking a few structural things and stitching things down a little more. I’m hoping to have it ready to query by the end of February.

I’m anxious to get back to the first draft of a thief story that I’ve been sitting on for almost two years now!

 

Conferences

I went to my first writing conference in June: Fourth Street Fantasy.

It was wonderful fun, although I had to get up early to work for my day job each day, which prevented me from fully enjoying the evening revelries.

Still, I enjoyed the panels enormously, and it was lovely to catch up with my writing friends and make some new ones!

 

Home

Settling into a new (old) house is a lot of work! But it is – mostly – a pleasure.

Stripping floors is not one of the pleasures.

We were told that our upstairs fir floor – painted a glorious blue-gray in the 1920s – wasn’t “floor” grade, and so couldn’t be sanded down. I had the brilliant idea of stripping it with a nice safe stripper that I had used before.

Sigh.

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We got it done, but I think I would not make the same decision, given the chance again.

Fortunately most other things are in good shape, so we haven’t needed to do much inside.

So, starting in the spring, most of my attention was outside.

 

Bees!

We got a package of bees in mid spring.

It was pretty exciting getting them installed. I had had bees once before, but that was from a captured swarm. This was my first time installing a package.

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The girls got settled in quickly. I saw some out on our dandelions the next morning.

Having bees has definitely changed my feelings towards dandelions! They are a good, long-blooming food source for the girls.

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It was especially fun seeing them on the flowers in the garden through the summer. The Cosmos and poppies were especially popular.

The girls are all tucked away for the winter now. We just have to trust that they are keeping warm, and that they will come buzzing out on the first warm day.

 

Gardening

I had a big (overly ambitious) garden in Seattle, and spent a huge amount of time working in it.

I have every intention of doing the same in Port Angeles. It’s my stress relief!

So I spent a fair chunk of time this spring getting a basic garden in.

Our soil is super rocky, so we decided to get a bunch of topsoil in, and form it into beds.

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Much shoveling and hauling of logs later, and the beds started to take shape:

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I like the log bed-edging, although it takes an amazing number of logs. Fortunately our alders needed thinning, and so we were able to take out a few trees without impacting the woods.

By late spring the garden was starting to look like something. I went with annuals galore, so that I could have greenery and color while I figure out the weather patterns and sun here.

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Fortunately the garden largely took care of itself through the summer (aside from watering), because by that time I was getting pretty preoccupied with wedding stuff.

 

Wedding Stuff – Ack!

Weddings are a pain. I had heard they were a lot of work, but I assumed that was just if you got carried away with it.

Not so.

Or maybe I’m susceptible to getting carried away with it, after all!

It came with a lot of fun projects, though, from making cyanotypes to use as the basis for our invitations

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to making a bunch of fruit wine to serve at the reception.

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Of course, most of the fun stuff for the wine happened in 2014; bottling is a lot of work, but isn’t exactly fun.

So all of that was going pretty well.

But I didn’t want a “standard” wedding dress. I wound up getting a knockoff of Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar dress. My mom helped me alter it, and then I added silk draperies to make it look a bit more dressed up.

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I was pleased with how it came out, but it was a lot of work! Fortunately, that also meant a lot of quality time with my mom.

Work continued to be nutty, which meant that my August was really nutty when wedding stuff was packed on top.

But I survived, and the wedding went well!

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It was a bit of a blur, but a happy blur.

And then it was off to Australia!

 

Australia

We had a wonderful – and much-needed – honeymoon in Australia.

We mostly stayed in Queensland, home of the Great Barrier Reef and tropical rain forests.

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It was especially neat to see a Cassowary in the wild. They are the closest surviving relatives of the Velociraptors – and although they are fruit eaters, they could disembowel someone quite handily.

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We were there for almost three wonderful weeks.

We were sorry to leave, but also glad to be home. The perfect trip!

 

Pet Mishaps

Most of the year’s otherwise minimal sorrows related to my kitties.

Dulcie, the sweet quiet one, got a hernia. Better than the tumor I had feared, but she turned out to be a stitch-biter (as I discovered thirty seconds after taking this picture).

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She had to spend two weeks in the collar of shame. I’m really not sure how that would have worked if I hadn’t been able to work from home!

That was tough, but the real sorrow came in the fall, with the death of her sister Avanti.

Avanti had always been an adventurous kitty. She disappeared when she was visiting my parents. Animal control found her sad remains about a mile away, dead by car.

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I suspect she hopped in a neighbor’s car (as she was wont to do) – but this time I think they drove off with her by mistake. They probably let her off when they found her, quite possibly within half a mile or so – but she wouldn’t have known how to get home.

It was really sad to lose her, and I still have the occasional pang. However, she wasn’t a kitty who could ever have been indoor-only, so I comfort myself with the thought that she had a good and happy life, and got to be herself.

Dulcie is enjoying being the only indoor cat for now. Avanti and she were friendly, but Avanti was quite dominant, and I’m sure Dulcie got tired of being pushed around.

Now it’s just Dulcie and Vinnie, the old barn cat who came with the house. He’s super sweet, but he sprays, so Dulcie is safe from him as well.

 

New Year!

And now a new year is upon us.

I’m hoping for another generally happy, busy, productive year. Well, maybe a tad less busy than last year.

I hope to get Draken out the door, and Thief revised.

I hope to expand the garden and get some perennials in.

We are thinking of getting a couple more packages of bees. If our hive survives the winter, we’ll be looking at three hives next year.

We will probably get a kitten in the spring. Rob keeps making noises about Maine Coons.

So, here’s to a new year!

Throwing in the Towel

My post dates clearly indicate that my goal of weekly blog posts has fallen apart.

The reason is simple: a busy work schedule, plus wedding planning, plus gardening, plus chores, plus writing does not leave any time for blogging! In fact, it doesn’t really leave time for sleeping.

So I am going to bow to reality, and throw in the towel for now.

I might blog sporadically, but I will restart my blog run in October, after we get back from our honeymoon in Australia.

We’ll see whether I can successfully blog for a year without wedding insanity!

 

Thoughts on Foretelling the Future

I met my now-fiancé four years ago today.

At the time, I was living in Seattle. I loved my house. I was walking distance to work. I was hoping to find someone to share my life with, but I admit I thought/assumed that we would probably be able to do so in Seattle, in my digs.

Then I met Rob, who was just finishing up the UW Pharmacy program. Three weeks after we met, he went and got a job at the Port Angeles hospital. And that was that.

Now I am affianced, living on five acres in Port Angeles, and I don’t expect to ever live in Seattle again.

Not everything has changed – I still have the same job, and I still have my two kitties.

But four years ago there is no way that I could ever have guessed where I would be today.

I have a somewhat better chance at guessing my future four years from now, but it is by no means certain, and all sorts of things could shove it onto a different track.

 

I find this interesting for a couple reasons:

 

We cannot guess what the future will look like one year, five years, ten years from now with any certainty. And yet it is critical to think about it. Yes, you can plop along taking life one day at a time, and sometimes that’s all we can manage, but I think we’re most likely to get to a happy and satisfied point in life if we give it a little guidance. That means thinking about it.

But why is that important, if where we’re aiming is always going to be off?

Well, there may be a great deal of variance in the trajectory, but aiming will still determine roughly what direction we’ll be going.

Something catastrophic can always go wrong, but odds are that the major things guiding our path are our actions and choices.

 

That is true of characters in books as well.

They have dreams and aspirations – at least they should!

Of course, since the poor sods are in a work of fiction, it is far more likely that something catastrophic will happen to them, but their actions and choices still matter. At least they should!

 

At present I’m trying to decrease my MC’s “plop along” quotient and increase her “active choice” quotient.

I’m pretty happy with my own trajectory at present, so I’m generally content to “plop along” – but I’m trying to give it a little extra push, so that I can get where I’m aiming sooner rather than later!

 

It has been difficult getting that extra push in lately. Things have been very busy at work, and at home. Plus last weekend we trekked over to Eastern Washington to see Rob’s nephew in The Three Musketeers – hence the lack of a blog last week. The play was excellent, but it took more time out of a busy schedule.

My balance is pretty well shot for the next month, but at least I have that peak I’m aiming for. Hopefully I can keep on course during the nuttiness, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

 

I wonder where I’ll be in four years? Hopefully happy, settled in a contented life with Rob. Beyond that? Who knows!

Perhaps a book? Nothing to do but keep plopping!

Lost Time

It has been and will be a busy spring for me, both on a work front and on a personal front.

I have a garden to establish, a book to revise, three books to critique, and a wedding to plan – among other things.

And I got a cold this week.

Life pretty much chugged to a halt. So frustrating!

I have been able to work just enough to keep from getting into a real hole, but there is so much to do! And almost none of it happened this week.

Ack.

But everyone gets sick. I’m just lucky that it isn’t a life-endangering thing. I find myself wondering what warriors did when they came down with a head cold on the eve of battle, or what peasants did when they got the flu during harvest.

They probably just did their best, and hoped that it didn’t get them killed.

I guess I should enjoy the luxury of doing nothing much for a few days, without risk to life or livelihood. Too bad it doesn’t feel more luxurious!

Bees!

Rob and I picked up our package of honeybees last Saturday.

It was a very exciting day. I have had bees once before, but this was my first time installing a package.

The bees ship in a little crate with a canister of sugar water, the queen safe in a little tiny cage suspended next to the sugar water.

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On the way home, Rob drove, and I carried the bees in my lap, acting as an extra shock absorber. One stray bee came along for the ride – not in the crate! – and caused mild consternation when she started flying around the car. Fortunately she quickly settled on the rear window, and we were able to complete the trip home without mishap.

We already had the sugar water ready, so when we got home we spritzed the bees with the sugar water through the screen that sided the crate. That settled them down while we gathered our supplies and (rather minimal) protection.

We got everything set up by the hive, took the lid off, and pulled a few of the frames – which later will hold comb and honey – to make room for all the bees.

The trickiest part was pulling the canister of sugar syrup from the crate. It was in a can, and the slightest lip stuck up above the crate’s edge. It took quick work with the pliers to pull the crate – and that opened a hole in the crate!

We were able to get the canister extracted and cover the hole with some cloth before many bees escaped. The escapees provided a cloud of confusion over the subsequent proceedings.

Then we had to make a secondary foray into the crate to extract the queen’s tiny cage. A number of bees were clinging to it – the queen! the queen! – but I decided not to worry about it, and just set the whole lot aside.

The most dramatic bit was actually getting three pounds of bees into the hive.

You might imagine that it is a careful and graceful process – or maybe a natural process, setting the whole crate into the hive?

You give the crate a good hard rap, to knock all the bees into the bottom of the crate.

Then you upend the crate over the hive and dump the bees in. It takes a fair bit of shaking and shifting back and forth to get most of the heap into the hive.

I still find it amazing that that’s what you do, but it is quite effective!

The result was most of the bees in a heap in the hive, and a couple/few dozen buzzing around us and the hive.

It would be pretty scary to someone unfamiliar with bees, but I knew that they weren’t in aggressive mode. You just ignore them . . . or try to.

The main hitch was with the queen. The YouTube instructions I had watched all talked about a “candy plug” in the queen’s cage.

The candy plug prevents the workers from getting to the queen right away. The 3 lbs of bees are just a random bunch of bees, they aren’t workers for this queen, initially. The workers would sting the queen to death if they could get at her.

Oddly, although their first instinct is to sting her, their second instinct is to feed her, and so thwarted in their murderous impulses, they keep her alive.

After a few days, the scents and pheromones all do their thing – I’m fuzzy on that bit – and they become that queen’s bees, and all is right with the world.

The candy plug in the queen’s cage allows the necessary time to pass, since the workers can’t remove it right away.

The one problem was, the cage only had one tiny cork. No candy plug.

We called the supplier, and they told us that we should just plug the hole with a marshmallow.

A marshmallow? Sigh . . . .

We had to close the hive up – more or less – and run to the store for a bag of mini marshmallows before we could get the queen properly installed.

Aside from that little hitch, it went pretty seamlessly. No stings, no visible casualties, and the girls were out foraging within the hour.

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They are all settled nicely now. The local ants are causing a little trouble, but when we opened the hive up a couple days ago to feed the bees, everything looked in good order. The girls were all clustered together, building comb, and the queen was gone from the cage. Fingers crossed that all is in good shape!

 

I had bees once before, when I was living in Seattle.

A swarm happened to settle in the boxwood at the edge of my lot. Rather than ignoring them or calling someone like a sensible person, I rushed out and bought a hive.

It was all pretty exciting . . . but my precious bees didn’t make it through the winter. I still don’t know whether I did something wrong, or whether it was just the rotten bee-odds at work. A couple winters ago, one in three hives throughout the US died.

 

In any case, hopefully this hive will thrive. We’re already scheming about getting a second one next year!

Balancing Act

The balancing act of my life has been teetering these past couple months, to the detriment of my writing. As noted in my earlier post, finding time to write largely comes down to priorities.

Unfortunately – or fortunately! – I have had some doozies to compete with my writing.

In February and March I had a lot of projects for my day job (read “things are going too well for my own good”), and wedding planning to catch up on.

I had planned to really get cracking on my writing at the start of April, but my sprint start has turned into a crank-sided limp.

The problem this time is still partly work (things are still going too well for my own good), and partly the unseasonably gorgeous weather we’ve been having. In Western Washington it usually drizzles most of the time until late June. This last week we had gorgeous sunny days half the time (sorry, East Coasters!).

That meant that I wanted to be out, frantically working on getting a garden in.

The days are getting longer, too, which meant that I could work myself until I was pretty exhausted.

All of these are good things, but a bit too much of said good things.

Fortunately the rains came back today, which means that I can turn my attention back to indoor things – like writing!

I have been working along on a short story. I’m a bit stuck on the ending, so I think I’ll switch to Joining the Draken here in a couple more days.

I’m due for a full read-through, with my beta readers’ comments in mind. Normally I try to do that in one fell swoop – devoting a whole weekend day to it. I don’t think that will happen with the current nuttiness, but Rob will be on the night shift this next week. At a couple hours a night, I should be able to knock it out in a few days.

I would love to get revisions done before 4th Street . . . so I’d best get cracking!

Growing Things

Spring officially arrived two weeks ago, and is progressing nicely here in Port Angeles.

A couple days ago I saw a couple elk bulls grazing their way through the neighbor’s field. I haven’t seen them since, so they were probably on their way up the mountain to their summer territory.
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The daffodils are in full bloom, and my sugar-snaps are looking good.

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The big question is whether I can keep the garden safe from the deer. I have rigged a fence out of fishing line – the goal being to (mostly) keep the deer out, without being too ugly. We’re going to supplement that rather frail defense with a motion-detector sprinkler system. Fingers crossed that it will work!

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Gardening is a bit like writing in that you sow and weed and dig, in hopes that in a few months or a few years it will pay off. Many small efforts are necessary to get the bountiful harvest.

The big difference is that a garden will change if you neglect it for weeks or months. With luck, it will grow. Or perhaps it will wither or get eaten. But it will not be static.

A story, if neglected, will just sit there. It will not change. You, the author, will change – which is why a resting period can be very helpful. But the story will wait quietly for your return.

That is both good and bad. Without attention, nothing will happen. But it is never too late!

I am gearing up for another round of revisions on Joining the Draken. I have gotten some very helpful critiques from some of my Viable Paradise cohort, among other brave souls.

The critiques confirmed that I need to ratchet up the tension and conflict. I’m hoping that I can manage it by judiciously sowing a few seeds, doing a bit of pruning, and staking up the droopy bits.

Hopefully by June I will have a burgeoning garden and a book that is ripe for submission!

The Finger of Blame

Who is to blame? This is an interesting question, because it is asking more than “who caused this?” – it is asking “who is at fault for this?”

It is interesting from a writing standpoint because blame very often has a load of anger attached, and the finger of blame is not always reasonable in selecting a target. In other words, it is a prime way of adding conflict to a story.

Have something unfortunate happen. Have one character blame another for it. Good – conflict!

Have one character blame another for it unfairly. Better – more conflict!

Not only can it add conflict, it can also expose information about the characters involved: how the culprit is determined, how the wronged party behaves towards the culprit, and how the culprit responds – all great stuff!

 

This came to mind because of an incident last night.

Rob and I had a dinner gathering for the first time in our new/old house. We have had a few people swing by, but this was the first time we were trying to feed multiple people at the same time, and in style. All rather stressful to start with, since we don’t have a lot of practice entertaining.

 

So I was in the kitchen, trying to get the last few things ready. Rob was showing most of the guests around outside, and I was chatting with one guest while I worked.

Through the kitchen window I saw a dog streak by. Rather worrisome, because one of my cats was outside, and we don’t usually get dogs.

I commented on it, and the guest said “Oh, that’s Tim’s dog.”

One of the guests had brought a dog? News to me.

 

The crew stayed out an unexpectedly long time, and when at length they came in my sneaking fears were realized: the dog had treed my cat.

Well and thoroughly.

Forty feet up a Douglas Fir.

I was not happy.

I didn’t do anything regrettable, but I left Rob to keep everyone entertained while I went out to see whether I could lure Avanti down.

Already, the finger of blame was looking for a target, never mind that I wasn’t about to give voice to it.

The obvious person to blame was the guest in question, the “gentleman friend” of one of our friends. He seemed like a prime candidate, because it was his dog, and he might or might not be around for the long term.

Note that it is very convenient to blame someone if there isn’t a major cost to blaming them.

 

Avanti came down by a couple branches in response to my calling, but didn’t make it any further. Rob brought the ladder and helped me put it up in the fading light, but it was a good ten feet short. I reluctantly went back in, since there was nothing I could constructively do.

 

As it turned out, Avanti made it down just fine all on her own, after I “abandoned” her. This story has a happy ending, so there is no need for me to pin blame on anyone. Note how the lack of consequence lightens the load of blame to almost nothing.

 

But what if she had fallen? Been seriously injured? Killed?

 

Then the finger of blame would anxiously seek out a victim.

It is interesting to look at this as an example, and consider different interpretations – and who might pick one or another.

 

Here are the prime candidates:

  • The dog. He treed the cat. But that’s pretty much what dogs do, so most people wouldn’t be inclined to lay blame there.
  • Avanti. She ran. The dog followed. But running from dogs is pretty much what cats do, so most people wouldn’t be inclined to lay blame there.
  • The guest who had brought the dog. It was his dog, so he was clearly responsible.
  • Rob. Rob had given the guest permission to let the dog out. He did not know Avanti was out, but he didn’t double-check. On the other hand, the guest assured him that the dog did not chase things when he was around. Which turned out not to be true. So maybe the guest was to blame, after all.
  • Me me me. I hadn’t seen that there was a dog, because I was busy getting final touches together, but if I had actually looked out properly I would have seen it in time to forestall a problem.

 

This is where it gets interesting, because there isn’t necessarily a right answer. There are more and less rational answers, but there is some basis for any of these interpretations.

And this is where a writer can have some fun, depending on the desired level of conflict and/or character exposure desired.

 

Rational:

Rob is to blame. He gave permission for the guest to let the dog out, without first checking on the situation. Yes, the guest indicated that the dog didn’t chase things, but almost any dog will chase a critter that runs from it.

In this particular case this interpretation would also have had all sorts of potential for relationship friction. Great potential for a story that focuses on relationships!

 

Conflict-avoiding:

I am to blame. I should have seen the situation and prevented it from happening. This is probably how I would have played it if something dire had happened, because I have a lot of trouble blaming other people if they blame themselves (which Rob would have done). From a writer’s standpoint, this is probably the least satisfactory, since most of the conflict would be internal. It could be useful from the point of view of exposing character, but that’s about it.

 

Simple:

The dog is to blame. In this case the dog was just doing what dogs do, but then a dog that gets in and kills chickens or somesuch is still doing what critters do, and it doesn’t necessarily prevent the humans from holding the critters accountable.

This doesn’t have direct conflict potential, but it has excellent indirect conflict potential. If the “wronged” party holds the critter accountable, and demands that the critter itself suffer for it – be put down, in an extreme case – that will then give rise to all sorts of conflict with the owner or defender of the critter.

All of this can be interesting, but I think the majority of readers would view this interpretation as unreasonable, at least in a case like this.

 

Blame the victim:

Avanti is to blame. She shouldn’t have run. The fact that she ran triggered the whole incident.

This is a good choice if you want to say something very specific about the character involved. It takes a certain sort of person to blame the victim – although more people are likely to do so if they are the obvious alternate culprit.

 

Direct:

The guest is to blame. It was his dog. Yes, Rob gave him permission, but the guest said that the dog didn’t chase things. He was mistaken.

This is a nicely defensible position, and in this case it also has the benefit of blaming the outsider in the group. Always a favorite!

This has conflict potential either if there is a nice blow-up at the party, or if the guest actually stays in the story. It could become a nice point of friction with the friend who brought the gentleman-friend in the first place.

 

With all of this, there are a few key points: who is blamed, how much emotion is behind the blame (which is likely to influence how reasonable the blame is), how the emotion is acted on, and how the blamed party responds.

This can get especially dramatic if it is a group of people (ethnic, cultural, political) that is blamed instead of an individual.

All sorts of fun things to play with – and a potentially valuable exercise for my own writing, since I’ll be working on upping the conflict level in Joining the Draken over the next couple months.

Hmm. What can I come up with that will cause a nice storm of blame?