Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Joys Of Misplaced Modifiers #4

Okay, this sentence is so very bad that I had to read it three times to figure out what the writer (Robert Gehrke from the Salt Lake Tribune) had done.
Have a look:

Ann Davies was born to Edward Davies, who emigrated from Wales and founded a company that built heavy machinery and married Mitt Romney in 1968.

The way it's currently written, from "who" to "1968" is an adjective clause modifying the noun "Edward Davies."  But there is an adjective clause within an adjective clause: from "that" to "1968."  The second adjective clause modifies the noun "company," which means that the sentence is actually proclaiming that the company founded by Edward Davies both built machinery AND married Mitt Romney in 1968.
Is Gehrke trying to hint that Romney is really, really into the whole big business thing?  :D

But that sentence is not the only one wherein Gehrke seriously garbles his grammar.  Have a look at this little gem:

Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather, Miles Park Romney, was a Mormon polygamist with five wives, who fled to Mexico to escape a crackdown on the practice of polygamy in the late-1800s and established a settlement there.

The way it's worded and punctuated, we get another bizarre adjective clause: from "who" to "there."  The sentence currently states that the five wives fled to Mexico; I doubt that's what the writer meant.

Well, I think we can safely say that Mr. Gehrke needs either more sleep before he writes articles or at least a better copy editor.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Photo Mysteries: A Writers' Game #29

And it's time once again, ladies and gentlemen, to play our writers' game!  Remember: you don't have to be a writer to play, as it's the shortest of flash fiction ever.
Here's how it works: Carmi, on his Written Inc blog, selects a theme for the week and posts a photo.  Then, here on my blog, I post a photo to match the theme and add a title and a single line of an unwritten story that goes with the photo.  Then, as many readers as possible join in by adding titles and single lines of stories in the comments section.  Simple.
Click here to see a previous game to get a feel for how it works.
This week, Carmi's theme is "parallelism."

Here's my photo:

Title: Jailbreak!
Single line: Ah, ha!  Charlie found a weak spot in the cage.  Soon, very soon, he would have his revenge on Dr. Bunker.

Your turn!  Add your title and single line in the comments section.  Have fun.  :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

One Of My Favorite Lines #2

Doing final (I hope) edits on All in the Half-Vampire Family last night, I ran across this paragraph:

Somehow, I just wasn’t doing well with this girl.  And the image of her pajamas -- if that’s what they were -- was going to make it dang hard to concentrate on Joplin’s “Fig Leaf Rag.”

I giggle over this every time I read it.  But I also know that the average kid will miss the humor by a couple of miles.  :D

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Why I Proofread My Manuscripts So Many Times (#5)

Lorenzo merely had merely gone into mild shock.

How have I missed THIS for the last 40 readings???

Why I Proofread My Manuscripts So Many Times (#4)

So, I'm making what I sincerely hope are the FINAL edits on All in the Half-Vampire Family, and I find this line:

I stared back at the curtains.

This implies that the curtains were 1) sentient and 2) staring at Eric first.
That's a bit creepier than this scene was intended.
It's fixed now.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Somebody Didn't Pay Attention During 9th-Grade English

I received a tweet last night about the book My Super-Sweet Sixteenth Century (which is on my TBR list).  The tweet said:

...the romance was greater than Romeo and Juliet, or at least, it was really close to being it!

Uh, so is this person implying that more than 6 people in Rachel Harris' new book die because of the immaturity and impulsiveness of a hormone-fueled pair of teenagers?  Or did the person tweeting just never actually read/see/think about Romeo and Juliet?
I haven't had a chance to read Harris' book yet, but it sure doesn't sound like a tragedy to me.
And this tweet sounds like more of an insult than a compliment.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Short, Visual Summary Of My Last Two Weeks

Where I was last week:

Where I've been this week:

What I've done today:

and this:

and this:

But all I really want to do is this:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I Have Running Water Again!

So excited.  :D

Photo Mysteries: A Writers' Game #28

Every week, Carmi Levy, on his blog Written Inc, hosts a photo-sharing.  He chooses a theme, and other bloggers post photos on their own blogs with that theme.
We do that, too, but here we take an extra step: we add a title and a single line of a story to go with it.  Here's last week's, if you'd like to get an idea of how it works.

This week's theme, chosen by Carmi, is "from behind."  I found a great double "from behind" pic for this theme.  Here it is:

Here's my title for the story to match:  The Evil Twin
And the single line from somewhere in the story to go with this pic is: The bride had no idea what was happening just over her shoulder.

Your turn!  Come up with a title and a single line to go with this "behind" image and post them in the comments section.
Remember: you don't have to be a writer to play the game.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I had a great idea for a post to write tonight while I unwound after today's meetings and did laundry from my trip.
Unfortunately, while Dad and I had a look at that eterni-flushing toilet, he accidentally snapped off a major part.  We then discovered that the valve that shuts off water to the toilet is not working properly.  So, for tonight, I've had to shut off all water in the house completely.
I have plenty of water stored for drinking, but I'm not up for cooking under circumstances where I'm not sure if I can use the bathroom at all.  (When I turn the water on, there's nothing but a dribble from any other tap in the house unless I press very hard on the tab in the toilet tank, as otherwise, water rushes full-force down the toilet.)  I'm also not yet sure how I'll manage bathing.  (Haul water from outside, I suppose.  But the hose that is connected already takes water from the inside pipes.  So that means hauling out the other hose and connecting it and THEN hauling in buckets of water for bathing. I'm not sure that's wise with my back injuries.)
I'm running on 2 Cokes and 4 1/2 hours of sleep + emotional overload from the trip.
This means I burst into tears over a stupid running toilet.  And that made Dad feel bad, so I felt guilty and cried more.
This is so not productive.

At any rate, you are not getting a funny, happy post about my photo safari into the wilds of a pedicure palace.  Instead, you've just read my whining about a broken toilet.

Happy Monday.

Home Again and Home Again -- Sort Of

Our plane touched down slightly before 9:00 PM last night.  By the time we got our luggage and got everyone safely home and I managed to fix (temporarily) the toilet that had mysteriously decided to go on eterni-flush mode, it was 12:00 AM.
This morning I got up at a quarter to 5, as it's the 1st day of school for teachers (meetings!  oh joy!!), and I must be on my way very soon.
Here's to hoping I don't doze off in public.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My Cure For Chapped Eyelids

I know that sounds like a stupid title for a blog post, but, a few months ago, I had some weird issues with what was probably Blepharitis.  I didn't know that then.  All I knew was that I had chapped eyelids that wouldn't go away, and it was rather freaky.
I also didn't realize at the time that other people had this condition -- and would end up on my blog trying to find a cure after searching for "chapped eyelids" on the internet.  It's now at least once a week that some poor soul ends up on my blog while searching for that.  Thus, I put up a title for those people.  If you're one of them, do read on, and I'll tell you my secrets.
Vinegar and Vaseline.  Seriously.
I learned online that the most common cause of Blepharitis (which sounds so made-up, doesn't it?) are those pesky little eyelash mites that everyone warns you about with sharing mascara.  Well, I hadn't been sharing mascara, so I have no clue how I got bacteria-spreading eyelash mites, but I figured that white vinegar is as natural an anti-bacterial cure as you can get, so I used it.  Each night and each morning, I'd dab a cotton swab in white vinegar and carefully rub it over the red, swollen, itchy parts of my eyelids.  I'd leave it there for a few minutes and then wash it off with plain water.  This would sting for a few seconds, but then it would relieve the itching for hours afterwards.  At night, after the vinegar was washed off, I'd coat my eyelids in Vaseline, which helped the irritated skin and also helped to smother the mites.  (I learned this by reading medical websites such as the one linked above.  The vinegar was totally my own idea, however.)
Three weeks of this treatment, and I was completely cured of chapped eyelids.  Thank heaven!

So there you go.  My cure for chapped eyelids = vinegar and Vaseline.  Pretty simple.

We now go back to our regularly scheduled blogging.  :)

UPDATE 1/7/15: In December of 2014, I had another unexplained eyelid event.  This time, the eyelids did not chap, but they were incredibly, annoyingly itchy!
I thought it would not hurt to try my "old cure" again, so I went back to the exact method I have described above for one week.  Cured!  Again!
This post has become very popular, and I have noticed that people have been googling for my vinegar and vaseline cure by name now.  Well, we all want our 15 minutes of fame, I suppose, but I never thought mine would come from chapped eyelids. :D

P.S.  Folks, please do be careful not to get the vinegar in your eyes.  It does sting.
Also, I wear contact lenses, and, although putting the vinegar on while wearing the lenses was never a problem, I do NOT recommend putting vaseline on the eyelids while you are still wearing the lenses.  Only put the gooey stuff on once the lenses are safely out and cleaned.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Soap Suds And Climbing Trees

My neighbor has two small boys.  O. is four now, and I've been entertaining my students with his doings for a couple of years.  (There was that time he decided he was my gardener.  And the time he swallowed his mom's wedding ring.  Great tales.)
And now his brother X. is old enough to merit tales of his own.
(Yes, this makes them O and X == hugs and kisses.  Isn't that cute?)
A few days ago, I was pulling in the garbage cans when I happened to glance over at the neighbor.  She was washing her car with "help" from O.  But baby X was enthralled with the bright orange Home Depot bucket on the grass.  The mom had emptied it of water so he couldn't drown, and he was only about 4 feet away from her anyway.  But the bucket still had foam in it.
Wow.  Baby X would crawl completely into the 5 gallon bucket (on its side), then reverse out with handfuls of white, wonderful gooshiness.  And he'd stare at it as it dripped off his chubby little fingers, his eyes nearly round in wonder.  Then he'd repeat the process.
It was hilarious.  I told the mom we should get a camera and put the routine on YouTube.  If she hadn't been so wet and soapy from trying to keep O from "helping" too much, I think she might have.  Pity.  It would've been viral by now, I bet.
A day or two after that I arrived home to find O. attempting to climb a small tree in his front yard.  I told him that someday he'd have to try the big tree in my back yard.
Then I went in the house.
I should have known.
Not five minutes later, there was a knock at my door.  O and his mom were there.  "We have to climb the tree RIGHT NOW," she said, as O proceeded to check out my living room furniture.
Naturally, I led him outside to the large, ivy-covered tree of unknown origin in the yard.  With a boost from his mom, O was ready to grab bark off the tree.  His mom and I both tried to get him to grab the large limb and push himself to standing in the obvious fork of the tree (with nice, safe big limbs around it), but he refused.
"There's a spider web!" he complained.
And the tree-climbing event was reduced to a raspberry-picking episode instead.
Maybe next year.  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Last Dance Of The Summer Shower Gnats

It happens every year.  They come from I know not where.  They dance when I cannot see them.  Then they die.
In the basement shower.

It's a mystery to me.  Every year, these little gnats -- or gnat-like insects -- accumulate in small piles in the basement shower.  I never see them alive.  I never find them on other bathroom fixtures in the basement.  I never find them in the upstairs bathroom.  But I have to clean them out of the downstairs shower once a week or so.
As soon as the autumn arrives, however, their lifeless bodies will disappear for months, only to return when the heat becomes roasting outside again.
I have absolutely no clue how they get in, how they live, or why they choose to die in that particular shower year after year.  I can only assume that the basement shower was accidentally built upon an ancient and revered path of the great migration pattern for the species.
Wonders never cease in our world.
And now, I need to stop writing and go sweep up some gnats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Upcoming Giveaway With Swag

Yesterday I went to Bath and Body Works and bought some fun things to add to my giftbags I'll be giving away to promote my next two books.  I've got several little piles of goodies now.
Here's one thing I bought yesterday:

It's cooler in real life.  The liquid is bright red, so a full bottle (which this pic does not appear to show) looks like it's filled with blood.  (Fortunately, it's plum-scented, so it smells a lot better than blood does!)
As soon as I can get All in the Half-Vampire Family ready to be published, I'll start posting the bag o' swag giveaway details.  I'm hoping this will be in September.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Photo Mysteries: A Writers' Game #27

We haven't done this for a few weeks, so let's review how the game works.
Carmi, over on Written Inc, picks a photo theme for each week, and then he asks his readers to share their photos that fit the theme.  On my blog, we add to that by giving a title and a single line of a story to fit the photo.  I start it, and you add your titles and single lines in the comments section -- the more, the merrier!
Here's a link so you can see a previous week to get a feel for it.  And remember: you don't have to be a writer to play; it's only a sentence!

Carmi's theme this week is "grey" (or "gray, " if you prefer the American spelling over the British).

Here's my grey photo:

My story title: Lullaby
My single line:  Mama always told me to be careful what I read before bed, but sometimes I didn't pay her much attention.

Your turn!  Add your titles and single lines in the comments section.  :D

Monday, August 13, 2012

This Is Only Funny If You're From Utah

This photo was sent to me in a re-tweet by the folks advertising the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, which is going on right now.
Keep in mind a couple of things: 1) I used to live in Edinburgh.  I am very familiar with the Fringe Festival and the crowds of street performers -- many of them foreign -- who compete for tourists' attention on the Royal Mile (the street running downhill from the Castle to the Palace) in hopes of getting larger audiences for their paid shows.  (In fact, I use this whole set up in my soon-to-be-published novel, All in the Half-Vampire Family, as Eric goes to Edinburgh to perform at the Fringe Festival.)  2) I am also a 5th-generation Utah Mormon, descended on both sides from some of the original pioneers who came to Utah before the railroad, traveling by covered wagon (not by handcart -- because my ancestors weren't stupid enough to fall for that).  3) I also tend to be what is frowned upon by many as a rather "intellectual" Mormon, and I don't confuse tradition with actual doctrine.
Keeping all that in mind, try to grasp what ran through my mind as I clicked through the link and saw this photo sent by some unknown guy enjoying the Fringe on the Royal Mile and using his cell phone today:
1st thought: "Whoa!  Polygamists in Scotland???!!!"
2nd thought: "No, their hair's wrong.  Oh, it's a Young Women's choir!"
3rd thought: "No, you duffus.  A Young Women's choir wouldn't perform at the Fringe!  They're normal performers doing Sound of Music."
4th thought: "Wait.  There are too many girls and no boys.  It's not Sound of Music.  Maybe it's Paint Your Wagon."
5th thought: "What the heck IS this??!!"

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Vampirically Boring Weekend

Let's see.  I've spent my weekend alternating between re-reading All in the Half-Vampire Family, looking for yet more typos and over-used words, and re-reading Dracula, creating a test on it for my 9th graders (lucky souls), and finding errors in the footnoted material in the Prestwick House version (I'm not trying to do this, but there are so many glaring errors that I can't help but find them.)  And in an hour or so, I'll go to church.
Basically, I haven't put up any fascinating posts because I haven't really done anything fascinating -- or anywhere near fascinating.  In fact, it's been in a completely different county from fascinating.
You get the idea.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Freak Shows

A few days ago this news article on yahoo caught my eye.  It contains photos and bits of an article on a county fair held in 1938.  Several things caught my eye: the fashions, the style of commercial art used in the advertising, the idea that safety was mostly the patrons' concern rather than the hosts'.
But one thing that really stood out was how people with inborn differences -- sometimes right out birth defects -- were used for entertainment.  One photo has a Little Person shown as a hawker for a booth boldly advertising the showing of a nude hermaphrodite.  Another has a man who seem to have some arm deformity and a lot of body hair posing as if he were an animal while spectators gawk at him.  Yet another shows a man whose internal organs seem to be malformed showing off his unusual physique for those willing to pay.
My first thought was, "Well, I guess those were some of the best jobs these people could get in a society that discriminated so openly."
My second thought was, "Wow.  It's a good thing that times have changed and we no longer feel it's socially acceptable to use folks with birth defects or similar misfortunes as mere forms of entertainment, to be gawked and and whispered about."
Then today I saw this yahoo news article, and I realized that not much has changed at all.  We're still using folks with birth defects as forms of entertainment -- possibly because these still might be the best jobs open to certain folks who don't fit society's requirements for "normal."  Sad.

And then I heard about this, and I realized society has truly sunk even lower than what I was bewailing in the 1938 situations.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Autumn Cannot Arrive Soon Enough

Yes, I live in a desert.  I know this.  And, really, I'm fine with the whole concept of "desert" right up through about 90 degrees.  After that, I long for Scotland with increased fervor.
Let me just say that a heavy cloud cover came in this evening --- and the temperature DROPPED to 94.
My dad went to the grocery store, and his car thermometer registered 109 all the way there and back again.
I went to a doctor's appointment at about the same time.  My car thermometer registered 104 all the way there and 105 all the way back.
But the real joy was returning to the car AFTER the doctor appointment.  The car had been in the sun on black top for one hour.  The car temperature? 122 F.  Yeah, that's toasty.
We're going to be in triple digits all this week now.  These are the times I long to live in a place where you don't break a sweat just walking from room to room.  Ugh.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Steampunk Creations For Tonight

I've been working up ideas for chapter one of The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook and writing a bit of the same.  (It's a bit tough to stay in character, telling the story in a 19th century style, and not talking like a teenager, like I normally narrate my books.  And also, I keep wanting someone to speak Scots, but that doesn't fit in this book! -- At least not that I know of yet.)
So tonight I have created an air caravan/steampunk airship and a cocoa den --  modeled after an opium den.  Oh, and a steampunk crank lock as well!
*giggles*  This has been fun!
Okay, I've only got a few hundred words of actual writing done, but I've got lots and lots of notes!

Monday, August 6, 2012

In Which Jenny Interviews Me And Hosts Two Giveaways

Jenny at Chocolate Chunky Munkie has posted and interview with me and is hosting two giveaways for Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire.  One is for a paperback (US, UK, Canada) and the other is for two winners (anywhere) to win e-books.
(Yeah, the whole thing was my idea, but she has more than 10 times the followers I do, so it's logical to ask her to give me some publicity.)
Here's the link if you'd like to read the interview or want to enter the contest.  :)

And, if you're wondering when I'm going to host another giveaway on my own blog, it should be in September.  I want to get All in the Half-Vampire Family published, then have a giveaway for a prize package with BOTH books plus swag.  Fun, eh?  I hope so.
However, in the meantime, there's this giveaway on Jenny's blog, and coming up soon (probably the end of August), Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire is going to be featured on Free Book Friday.  Stay tuned for further details.  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Year Anniversary For The Blog

... was apparently yesterday.  And I missed it.  Oops.
Oh well.
One year. 317 posts (some of which got pulled-- sorry 'bout that). 14516 pageviews. 71 followers. 1290 comments.
And one book published.
Okay.  Not a bad beginning.


It happened Friday as I arrived back from the hardware store so Dad and I could fix a broken sprinkler.
THE LETTER was in my mailbox.
No, it wasn't a rejection letter; self-published authors don't get rejection letters.  It was the dreaded Letter o' Doom every teacher gets early in August, the one that tells us about the faculty meetings (groan!), teacher hoop jumping training sessions (GROAN!!), and work days before the kids get back.
Vacation time is officially on its deathbed as soon as that letter arrives.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Getting Closer To Publishing All In The Half-Vampire Family

About a week ago, Max and I fixed up the cover issues on All in the Half-Vampire Family, and I've spent this week doing YET ANOTHER edit of the book (7th time through it since January).  Today I submitted what very well may be the PDF for the FINAL proof of the book.
Fingers crossed.
If all goes well, I may indeed have the book out by the time school starts, which has been my goal.

Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire Is Reviewed At Chocolate Chunky Munkie

Jenny at Chocolate Chunky Munkie has posted a review of Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire.  Go check it out.  Just click here.
Don't tell anyone, but we've got a couple of giveaways brewing on her blog, too!  Details to follow soon.  :)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Working Book Cover And Blurb For The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook

So, yesterday when I should have been editing All in the Half-Vampire Family, I got messing about to make a cover for my newest WIP, The Chocolate Smuggler's Notebook.

Like it?
It's not the final cover, of course.  But it gives me something to visualize while I write.
(Yes, it's a couple of  my old pens and a bottle of ink spread out on a paper sack with some steampunk gears and clockfaces I had for making my altered books.  I just photographed it and added the text.  But it'll do for now.)

Here's my first book blurb for this one:

Oliver Laird is not what he seems.
True, he's the brilliant clockmaker's apprentice who invented the ClockOx and the Pulley Delivery System.  And, yes, he is that very same young man whom Brother Lyle Carter Oswald himself asked to see.  And certainly he's the lad who clandestinely meets with that gypsy rascal, London Sunday, to smuggle the cocoa powder in for the ladies of the town.  The boy who saved handsome James Whittaker's reputation after that graveyard incident.  The one who travels with Doctor Ephraim Paine.  The chap who studies languages with Bertie Haven.  Yes, that fellow.
Except that Oliver is really Olivia.
And it's getting harder and harder to hide that fact.  Especially around all those handsome men.  Especially when she suddenly has more power than any of them.
Especially when her life might be the cost if her secret is discovered.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Boys And Books With Girls As Protagonists: The Answers

Last Monday, after being perturbed about two authors ranting about teachers supposedly keeping boys from reading books with girls as protagonists (bull puckey), I ranted a bit in a post and asked my readers to determine from various books' covers and short descriptions which books were created boy-unfriendly.  In other words, my argument is that if authors want teen boys to read their books, they've got to make books -- and their covers -- in guy-friendly ways.  That means, folks, that junior high school boys are unlikely to read a book that will make them feel uncool in the eyes of their peers.
Here's the original post, if you want to make your guesses first. 

All right, and now, this veteran English teacher weighs in on which of the listed books a junior high school boy is likely to read and why.
A. The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill.  I've never had a boy have a problem with this.  A girl warrior who trains with werewolves? Super guy-friendly stuff.  Plus, look at the cover: she's wearing armor and carrying knives.  That rocks in the opinions of the average 12-year-old male.
B. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Hugely popular book.  Why is it guy-friendly?  Well, the cover is gender-neutral and the story is about a battle for survival.  This hooks in lots of boys.
C. The Selection by Kiera Cass.  The cover features a girl in a prom dress.  No boy wants to carry this around.  And it's about mean girls and a beauty pageant?  Super guy-fail stuff.  No way.
D. Scarlet by AG Gaughien.  Yeah, there's a pretty girl on the cover -- but she's holding a wicked-looking knife.  And it's a Robin Hood story about thieves and adventure.  Most boys would find this non-embarassing and guy-friendly.
E. Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  Okay, so maybe Cinderella's a mechanic and an android -- both of which are guy-friendly -- but it's still about getting the prince, and it has a high-heeled red shoe on the cover, which is just not what a 12-year-old boy usually wishes to carry around in school.  This one is a guy-fail book.
F. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.  This has an assassin, which is guy-friendly, but it focuses on romance, which is not guy-friendly to 12-year-olds.  Trust me.  And, yes, there's a crossbow on the cover, but it's hard to see; the focus is on a pretty girl and her dress.  Dresses and romance -- guy-fail.

Sure, the occasional boy will pick these up.  I had 2 7th-grade boys a couple of years ago, who made it a challenge to read all the "girliest" books on my lists.  And they liked them just fine.  But these were two particularly mature boys, and they were doing it as a challenge, together.  That made a difference.  Most boys that age are put off by overly girly covers and by heavy-on-the-romance stories.
Thus, what I'd like to tell all those who believe the two popular authors spreading lies is: ladies, it's NOT the teachers that are making certain books guy-unfriendly.  If you're going to put in lots of girls drooling over hunky guys and if you're going to put frilly dresses on the covers, you're making the books guy-unfriendly before a teacher ever has a look at them.  So back off, already.  It's your own bloody fault; stop blaming the teachers for this one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Arrests Made In Belarus Over Swedish Teddy Bear Invasion

Apparently a website creator and a real estate agent have been arrested already for supporting the teddy bear invasion.  A general has been fired over the lapse in security.
Some Swedes invaded airspace over Belarus and dropped a payload of parachuting teddy bears with freedom of speech slogans attached to them.

I am not joking.
You cannot make this stuff up, people.  Truth really is often much stranger than fiction.

Everybody sing along:
If you go out in the woods today,
Be sure of a big surprise.
If you go out in the woods today,
You'd better go in disguise
'Cause every bear that ever was
Is gathered there together because
Today's the day
The teddy bears have their picnic!