Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 31 30 More Days of Craziness

Well, this is the last post of 2013’s NaBloWriMo and while there were moments when I wasn’t sure I would make it, I did. I posted something every day and I gotta tell ya, IT WAS HARD!

So, what’s on the horizon for me? NaNoWriMo. Yes, because apparently NaBloWriMo was just a crazy warm-up for a crazier November. Going from writing as many (or few) words as I want, to having a daily goal of almost 1700 words (providing I get to write every day) is going to be a challenge. Plus forays to the shop, which take up a lot of time and energy that leaves me little to devote to writing, or bookkeeping, or, um, much of anything for that matter.

Here’s the deal: Last year, I did not finish. Either that or I didn’t even participate. I don’t recall. Sad, I know. But I learned something important: I survived not winning. I survived writing and having a good reason to write and be surrounded by all those writer vibes while writing and it was good. It felt good. It felt right, and it feels right to do it again.

I’m diving in again because I want to reboot my creativity when it comes to my novel writing. I’ve let it slide due to work and life in general, not a great excuse, but the only one I have. Actually, it isn’t the only excuse because the other main one was a plot that just didn’t leave me wanting more. Now that I’ve ironed out that “minor” problem by hitting the delete key (well not really, because there are parts I’m going to keep to use) I’m ready to give NaNoWriMo another go and get that ding-dang second book really written and have something of worth to offer my readers.

Because they are awesome.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 30 Book Two

I have been writing the sequel to my first book for about a year and a half. It is not coming along as well as I’d hoped. Not nearly as well as the first book, and that was an exceptionally painful experience… for everyone.

But book two has been troublesome in many ways. For one thing, I keep going back to check on the spelling of that damn pirate’s name. Was it Joachim or Joaquin? And, who helped Obadiah?

See, in the second book, I’m stepping back in time a little bit to show some activity from the Citadel’s side of the big event where someone send a sonic attack through an unauthorized portal, thus rendering a particular portal hub useless. It’s a good plan, and one I hope doesn’t confuse anybody. I just need to keep from confusing myself in the process and make sure my timelines line up in the proper sequence, lest I put off readers who pay attention to such things and make them put the book down and walk away. That would make me sad.

I must also work Drake’s escape from the Citadel into the plot, after all, I have a scene already written for him that I really like where he gets a sound karmic spanking. Readers will be introduced to some new characters, as well as get to know some others who were integral to the first book, but didn’t have a huge presence in that story. Theo, Jewel, Captain Malano (who will get a first name, along with General Kothe), that rake Joachim/Joaquin will be there doing his best to irritate Obadiah. Stella, Baby Sabine, a handful of Citadel Guardsmen who have found themselves on the dragons’ home world, a mostly dead Librarian, Viz (not her real name, it’s the last sound her victims hear before her sword relieves them of their heads), and the fate of Claire and Cole.

I had a complete first draft all written, then I made some changes because it really didn’t pack enough “oomph” and a book without “oomph” is little more than fire starter. So I made some changes, brought in a few characters, then realized it would “look better over here” so I dragged heavy items across the plot and came up with some fabulous ideas. They just bear absolutely no resemblance to that first draft. Or the second first draft.

But, it will open the door to more adventures and I’m rather excited about that prospect. Even though it’s going to be the third first draft of the second book and the mother of many gray hairs.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 29 Bookfest!

Every year we Western Washingtonians are treated to an event called Northwest Bookfest. It is usually held in the fall and, in the past, has been free. Things change and now I see they’re charging $99 for two days of workshops and events. I’m down with that price, actually because it is way less than most of the writing conferences I’ve attended. Unfortunately, it is still too rich for my budget this year, but at least I’ll have a target for next year.

However, the good news is there are plenty of free author panels to attend, as well as vendors in attendance. I plan on doing some holiday shopping while I’m there. J I would love to have a table there one of these years, where I can offer all of my titles for sale. It’s another goal I’m setting for myself.

Anyway, I usually attend with a writer friend who has been known on this (and my previous blog) as Sagacious Woman. We both love books on various subjects and she is one of my faithful, patient, long-suffering first readers. That poor woman has slogged her way through rough drafts, scandalously edited second drafts, and a few nearly-final stages as well. Even as a writer, I cannot fully express my gratitude and deep appreciation for all her hard work.

Back to the topic of the Bookfest, I almost didn’t go, after all, my sweetie’s birthday is coming up next week and I was planning on spending the weekend closest to her birthday with her, but she convinced me that it would be ok for me to attend the Bookfest, providing I bring her something. It’s called a birthday gift and I’m sure I can find a suitable offering at the venue.

So, I’m going to start saving my money and next year, I’m going to make a whole weekend of it, workshops, or a table if my second book is out by then (more on THAT tomorrow…)

I’m so excited… only two more blog posts and then the month is over. You know what that means? November 1st, I’ll start getting all these wonderful blog ideas and no time to write them around NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 28, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 28 Uh…

It is day 28 and I am out of topics. Not that I’d ever let that stop my fingers from traipsing across the keyboard.

The big joke about bloggers used to be topics of such inanity that bloggers became the butt of many online jokes. From babies pooping to rambling prose about plates of food, bloggers could wax poetic about anything. It’s kind of true, too.

Take this post, for instance. I hadn’t even given it much thought until Tam reminded me that I had one due for tonight and, with the exception of some irritating crap going on at work, there really isn’t anything going on worth writing about.

I made meatloaf for dinner. There was even enough left to make up a few meals, so I’ll freeze some and have some fairly quick, easy dinners in the future. I’m sure you’re a better person for knowing that now, aren’t you?

The fire isn’t going well tonight, so I’m a little chilled. I attempted a shortcut and ended up nearly putting it out. I’ll probably fiddle with it some more before giving it last rites. Unfortunately, it’s supposed to start freezing at night, which means the house is going to get really uncomfortable and I will be cranky. So will the bird.

NWBookfest is this coming weekend and I’m planning on attending with a friend. We’ve managed to go almost every year it’s been held. This year, they’re charging for the workshops, but the author panels will be free, which is good. While the cost of the workshops for two days is very reasonable ($99), it’s still a little too rich for my blood. There are two author panels that intrigued me, but one is on Saturday (the day I prefer to go) and the one I REALLY want to attend is in Sunday.

I’ve convinced my youngest to come mow my yard for me the next decent weekend we have. He’s been working for his grandparents on weekends, as well as holding down a full-time job an hour away. He loves his new job, and he says his co-workers are the absolute best. I’m really happy for him and I can tell it’s made a huge improvement on his emotional self as well.

For the next couple days, I’ll attempt to have something more entertaining to post, or if I can’t get anything to float to the surface of my brain, I’ll find some photographs to share.

Oh, but on Thursday, I’ll tell you a little bit about my manuscript and the lovely torment known as editing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 27 Great Pumpkin

Want to know a secret? I love pumpkin pie.

No, really…I LOVE pumpkin pie. Given the choice between pumpkin pie and new shoes, I’d pick pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie or steak? Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin pie or a million dollars? Pu---leeze, I’m not THAT crazy. Can you imagine all the pumpkin pies I could buy with a million bucks? Wowza!

I also love pumpkin seeds, roasted to perfection. I love squash with butter, salt, and garlic, or butter salt and brown sugar and a little bit of cream… This time of year is awfully nice, bringing us such wonders as pumpkins and squash (which I love as much as pumpkins).

Taking advantage of the season’s plethora of pumpkins, I purchased a large specimin thinking, “Hey! I can roast up some seeds and some pumpkin and yum!” Those of you who are cooks are going to say something like, “Um, honey, you know those carving pumpkins aren’t that good for pies,” and you’d be right, but I already knew that. I just wanted to roast it up like squash, toss some butter and garlic on it, and call it dinner.

As I was cutting it, I noticed it stayed together in strings, much like spaghetti squash, and I got REALLY excited because I LOVE spaghetti squash! I pulled a bowlful from the steaming shell, tossed it with some garlic, olive oil, and salt, and took a bite. Actually, I took several bites, hoping that first one was just a fluke.

It wasn’t.

Loathe to waste food, I choked down a bit more before my stomach said something rude and forced me to stop. People, let me be the first to say, “I think I did something wrong.” There were slimy parts that just wouldn’t chew down to manageable bites. There were other parts that had a decent, semi-crunchy pasta-squash texture and flavor, but it wasn’t quite “there,” if you know what I mean. I think there is hope, but right now, I’m going to steer clear of carving pumpkins and stick with squash for eating. I’d pick up some sugar pumpkins, but they’re way more expensive and, “Hi, I’m broke.”


At the moment, I’m starving for something that isn’t going to make my stomach unhappy. As soon as my gut speaks to me using an indoor voice and nice words, I’ll head back out to the kitchen and fix us something that won’t cause anymore internal organ revolt. My fingers are crossed that I didn’t screw up the seeds.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 26 Long October

My gawd, this month has dragged its ass through the landscape. It’s the second month of the school year, but already it feels like I should be gearing up for summer. But no. According to the temperature of my feet, we’re just ankle deep in Autumn.


November will be a little faster, what with week, then the short week of Thanksgiving breaking up the month. December has the usual long haul up to Christmas break, but that doesn’t last as long as the eight weeks of January. But nothing compares to the last 10 weeks of October. It’s been going on so long, I can’t even remember September.

Every so often, I’ll sneak a look at the district calendar and pine for those months at the bottom right-hand column. May and June. May is hard, and June is… June… holy crap, June is one Hail Mary pass away from that epic final battle scene complete with swelling orchestration and men in kilts screaming “FREEEDOMMMMMM!!!!”

In the mean time, my feet are freezing and October still has a death grip on next week. My reward for breaking free of the month is payday, which couldn’t come soon enough, although considering most of it goes away when I pay all my bills, it will be nice to hit the grocery store and restock some of those essentials that have become scarce.

Then I must suffer through the night of the irritating beggars… when I give away free candy lest I lose pieces of landscaping or have to wash egg off my abode. Fortunately, the place that sells my firelogs has a sale going on and it lasts until the 2nd of November, so I’ll be able to stock up on those as well. Woo-hoo! There is so much to look forward to at the end of this long month.

Providing of course, that this month will actually come to an end and not leave me in some October Twilight Zone thing. Hm, I hope this doesn’t have anything to do with that whole “throwing out the calendar” thing.

Friday, October 25, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 25 Epic Lunch

“I’m sorry about your grandma,” I heard a Tina (not her real name), a co-worker say to Jim (not his real name, either), a fellow co-worker.
“That’s ok. She was 93,” Jim said.
We all ate in silence for a moment before Tina said, “You know, I lost a grandparent a few months ago, and I remember saying that very thing, but really, it’s not ok. It still kind of hurts, no matter how old they may be. We’re glad they’re out of pain, but we’re not glad they’re out of our lives.”
Jim said, “Well, I suppose it will probably be more real to me after the funeral.”
“Yeah, that’s when things get real, you know? And funerals are hard, especially getting everything arranged, making sure everyone can be there.” Tina paused for a moment, looking at her lunch. “You know,” she said, “It took four of us to get Grandma into the car.”
Jim and I looked at each other, but didn’t say anything.
“She just doesn’t have any muscle tone now, so my dad had to get in on the driver’s side and sort of pull her into the seat. He kind of hurt his back in the process.”
“I can imagine,” Jim said, raising an eyebrow. I nodded.
“We were fine at the funeral home because we could just drive right up there, but then there was the trip out to the cemetery.” She shook her head at the memory. “We thought about just leaving her in the car, but it was a nice day and we didn’t want her sitting there by herself.”
“No…that would be…kind of… strange.” Jim looked at me and I shrugged. I mean, what the hell does one say about something like that?
“Afterward, we took her to lunch at her favorite restaurant.”
“Afterward? Wow. Did you leave her in the car?”
“Oh, no! Of course not. We brought her in, even though it wasn’t easy.”
“They let you do that?” Jim looked, and sounded incredulous. We exchanged long looks of total disbelief. “Doesn’t that violate some kind of code?”
“Well, no. We put her in a wheelchair,” Tina nodded as she took a bite of salad. “She had a good time.”
Jim shook his head. “How could you tell she had a good time if she’s dead?”
“WHAT?” All conversations skidded to a halt.
“Didn’t your grandma die?”
Tina started laughing, “No! I said my GRANDPA died! My grandma is still alive.”
“Well,” Jim said, “that makes me feel a lot better about going to lunch at that restaurant. At first, I was envisioning you just parking the casket in the foyer then when you said you put her in a wheelchair, I was really disturbed.”
“Jim,” Tina said, “you really ARE disturbed.”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 24 Oh Dear God…

It is very apparent that my life has become boring as hell. This lackluster-ness of my existence can probably be blamed directly on my children, those ungrateful darlings who dared to grow up and move out on their own, thereby leaving me to find my own things to write about. That’s when I made a few discoveries: my children’s antics made up a good portion of my blog and…

…and I’m boring.

Aside from work, the hat shop, and writing, I don’t do a hell of a lot. I don’t go out with friends very often (mainly due to finances, but also due to lack of oomph and no one around to make sure the damn fire doesn’t go out when I’m not looking). It isn’t like I can’t start another one…oh, wait… no, I can’t start another one. Not without significant amounts of kindling and napalm.

There you have it. I’m duller than Aunt Maude’s bleach-blond bouffant. Sorry, Aunt Maude, but have you LOOKED at that thing lately? Anyway, every night during NaBloWriMo, I ask Tam what I should write about and she’ll come up with some suggestions, most of which don’t ring any bells with me. Pumpkins?!? A whole blog about Pumpkins? No. Not tonight, anyway. I’m sure before month’s end I’ll be waxing poetic about the orange gourds, but not tonight.

No, tonight I’m going to talk about… um… pets! Which was another suggestion of Tam’s, but I’m going to expand on it and write about that goddamn pet bed. It’s not just any pet bed, it is supposed to be one of the best! Man-made fleece-that-looks-almost-like-wool, and a lovely outer shell of durable fabric that looks like, um, fabric.

It is a pet bed. It has a history. When I brought it home, I tossed it onto the floor and walked away to finish bringing in the rest of my purchases. Upon my return to the living room, there was the ancient cat, sound asleep in the bed. She claimed it and the other cats honored that claim.

Then something happened and we’re not sure what, but the ancient cat deserted the wonderful bed, leaving the others to try it out. Soon, they too abandoned it and the bed lay empty for months. But sadness befell our home and the ancient cat began to succumb to her age. Her last days were spent in that bed, and when she finally crossed the rainbow bridge, she left her body behind… in that bed. That bed got tossed into the futility room to await whatever fate had in store for it.

Not being one to enjoy wasting money, I decided to make the bed usable again by giving it a good cleaning and allowing the other kitties to use it. I picked it up and looked at the washing instructions.

“Spot clean only.”

I don’t have a Spot. I don’t even have a Fido or a Rover. I don’t have a cat named Spot, either. I looked for a pet named Spot, but none of them were interested in cleaning the damn cat bed. So I threw it in the washing machine and hoped for the best.

Thankfully, my machine was able to wash the death off the bed, and I was a good girl and didn’t put it in the dryer, because I have a feeling that thing would have shrunk down to the size of a hat that would fit a Chihuahua. That would not have pleased me. It’s bad enough neither of my current felines will even give it a second sniff.  “Because Ce-Ce DIED in that bed, asshole!” is the look they give me.

Now the bed sits in the living room, empty while the cats find other things on which to sleep, sticks of firewood, tiny cardboard boxes six sizes too small, or on me, but not that bed.

I’m seriously considering getting a small dog. One that will fit in that bed and can be trained to stay in that damn thing until it is well used and I will feel better about discarding it to the landfill. Personally, I think that’s a perfectly good reason to get a dog, don’t you?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 23 What Calendar?

There is a facebook badge that I’ve seen around that says “I will not shop on Thanksgiving, blah blah blah…” I can’t remember the rest, but essentially it was all about spending time with family and making sure those in retail could do the same.

Here are my thoughts on that: What? Ok, if you want to spend time with family only on a day designated by scripture, government, or the 4th Thursday of the 11th month, fine. But not everyone holds to that line of thinking, and your employer may be one of them. While I realize there are those who make the underlings work like dogs on holidays while they stay home and bask in the light and love of family, just remember, they’re hidebound by tradition and a number grid.

Most of my family does their own things on the holidays. It happened right after my ex and I split the sheets, although it was also shortly after Spawn got married and we had to share her with her husband’s family. Anyway, my ex came to me and said we needed to figure out how we were going to divvy up the holidays, but I said I’d have the kids over “whenever.” We decided they would have breakfast here, then spend the rest of the day with their dad and trundle up to the grandparents’ for the big family dinner thing. Tradition! (a fun one that has given me plenty of wonderful memories). It was easy peasy.

I’ll admit, I was worried about that first Christmas. I was still bound by the calendar and bemoaned the whole “this is going to be different, and I don’t like different. How am I going to handle this?” It turns out, I handled it like a champ and discovered it was rather pleasant. Despite my fears of deep depression and misery at being alone for the first time on a major holiday, I did fine. Better than fine. The day was quiet and I spent it watching the DVD’s I’d gotten, read the book I’d been given, and relaxed.

It. Was. Wonderful. I survived that holiday and I did it by myself. Yay me.

Now, Middle Minion must work on all major holidays because the company he works for must service drivers who also work holidays. His father is less than thrilled. When Middle Minion told me I wouldn’t be able to spend the big holidays with him, I said, “Ok, we’ll do it whenever we’ve got the time. I have to go to the shop then anyway. We can do a Merry Thanks for Independence Day Valentine’s card exchange whenever we jolly well feel like it. It doesn’t matter what month or day. Let’s throw out the goddamn calendar and celebrate whenever the hell we please.”

I cannot begin to tell you how lovely it feels to have all that pressure just lift away. After all, they’re just numbers on a grid. We can celebrate when we want.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 22 I Have No Idea...

Every night she asks me the question: What are you going to blog about? And every night I have pretty much the same answer: I have no idea.

Blogging used to be a little easier, especially when the offspring were around. It seemed I always had blog fodder when those clowns were hanging about. But now that they’re out making a place for themselves in the world, my subject matter has declined considerably. Even their father had a few blogs written in his honor. I doubt he’d appreciate it now, though.

The cats don’t care one way or the other, as long as I remember to clean the litter box and make sure there is no dish in their food. No, that’s not a typo. Everything is golden as long as they can’t see the bottom of the dish through the kibble, but once that kibble level is down far enough that you can see dish? STARVATION! IS! IMMINENT! And they will make no bones about telling me, even if it happens in the middle of the night.

Bird has been enjoying a new thing I’m doing these days. I’ve decided to keep my online presence at a minimum, because honestly, I’m tired of adding more drama to my days. My days are filled with enough drama to write a soap opera, mind you, most of it centers around a very young audience, but it is drama none-the-less.

Especially when it comes to illicit kissing on the playground!

Anyway, back to the bird. My mornings are a time for me to gather what wits I have left and make sure I’m at my best before I go to work. This means NOT visiting facebook first thing in the morning. Really. Stay away.

So, I’ve taken up an hour of reading. Or less reading and some bird time. I’ve tried doing both at once, but believe me, that bird can do a LOT of damage to a book. She LOVES paper. That being said, I will usually forgo the multi-tasking and focus on the bird. And it calms me. I bring all my scattered thoughts and emotions back into a nice pile and they kind of disappear as I just sit back and relax. I have the alarm on my phone set just in case I nod off, but otherwise, it’s just lovely and peaceful for about an hour.

If I do get online, it’s to check my work email to make sure I’m not forgetting to bring something with me. I don’t really consider it being “online” because I’m not surfing, but if I must call it being online, then I will. Reluctantly.

But being away from facebook and most of the online world in the morning has made enough of a difference, I’m thinking it would be a good idea to limit my online presence in the afternoons as well.

No promises, but I will admit that thinking about it makes me a little bit giddy.

Monday, October 21, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 21 P Week

It’s P week in kindergarten and I can’t begin to tell you how thrilled I am about it. Thrilled. “…with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pool.”

It’s not that I have anything against the letter P, after all, it where would Peter Peter Pumpkin eater be today if we had no P? Eter Eter Umpkin Eater just doesn’t sound right. Let’s not forget that very useful word pee, as in, I gotta pee. Calling out, “hang on a sec, I gotta pee” sounds much better then “I gotta eee,” although there are times I’m making that sound because I’ve waited too long and I’m not sure I’ll make it.

The best part of that week is on Friday we’re having a Read-a-Thon! There will be stories and I’m planning on snagging as many of my favorites to read and share with the kids as I can. I’ve already put dibs on King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub; Click, Clack, Boo!, and a few others (but I’m pretty sure she’ll not approve of Walter the Farting Dog).

But the problem (roblem? Ruh-roh!) with P week is it ends on Pajama Day, and yes, I’m expected to wear pajamas on that day. To work. In front of small children. I told my teacher that I don’t have fancy jammies, they are purely functional. She gave me a strange look.
“Well,” she said, “you could wear a pair of sweat pants and a top.”
“That IS what I wear. They’re just well worn and comfortable…and it shows.”

So now I need to decide if I’m going to splurge on something that DOESN’T look like it was worn and ravaged by ogres on drugs, or “forget” and just wear my regular clothes.

No, I’ll be a good sport and find something that doesn’t make me look like I sleep under a bridge. But, I just might have to sneak in Walter AND the Everybody Poops book.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 20 Home Again, Again

The drive home is not my favorite part of going to the beach, however during this time of year I’m treated to some of the most magnificent scenery the state has to offer.

For the longest time, I would approach a particular intersection and wonder what treasures could be found in that direction. I knew the road had to loop around to my destination, even if it was a few miles longer and a bit out of my way. After careful consideration (and a need to stop and get the car fueled up) I took a different route home.

What a serendipitous choice. As I rounded the corner, I was treated to the brilliant autumn colors along the hillside awash with light. Blue sky reflected in the river while sunlight dotted each undulation of the water. Gulls circled and herons stalked. The road was wide open ahead of me and the air was ripe with adventure.

At one point I toyed with the idea of taking an even longer route home along an untraveled (by me) road. The weather was perfect, the colors were enticing, but back at home, the kitties were waiting. And at that intersection, I chose to return to the familiar route.

But while it was familiar, it was not without beauty. There is a section I refer to as Ghostwood. It is a stand of fir trees that are silvered with moss and age, trunk deep in water. They are surrounded by their living relatives, yet they still stand, resplendent and glorious even in death.

Once again on familiar ground, the hillsides were bedecked in their winter garb, deciduous trees bereft of leaves, kept safe from frost by their deep-green robed conifer brethren. Over rolling hills and around long corners, the season deepened. Vine maple had lost some of their fiery red, but none of the loveliness. Where the trees had been felled, either by ax or by storm, the vistas opened to hills and valleys, all preparing for the coming cold season. One last fling of color before sleep. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 19 Fall Sun

We have been graced with several of those spectacular fall days that just kind of take your breath away with the sheer awesomeness of everything. Bright blue skies reminiscent of summer, a cool breeze that isn’t too cold, and fall colors that dazzle the eyes have been our world for the past few days. Every morning is blanketed in mist and we move under it like toes reluctant to leave a warm bed. But we rise; our noises muffled and our vision blurred as we push our way into the day. 

We greet each other the same way, eyes cast upward before shrugging. What will the weather do today? They say blue skies, but it is too easy to doubt while shrouded in gray mist. So we shake our heads and move on, glancing out the window, fingers crossed for a glimpse of blue.

When it comes, it comes in a rush, the sun melting the gray into thin wisps that the breeze easily carries away. We rejoice by taking our breaks outside when possible, or going the long way to the workroom. We’ll use any excuse to be outside in the last days of sunshine. Soon the dark season will settle in and lull us into forgetfulness, with only vague recollection of warmth and light. Ancient memories surge up and we hope and pray that the light remembers to return to us. We light candles, stoke the hearth fires and gather friends and family together for feasts and fun. All to push back the darkness and leave room for the light to return.

And it will return. We will forget the coolness of fall and the dark of winter, the seductive mists that give us privacy and hid our sins against nature. We’ll revel in the light and heat, and somewhere we will remember that it too shall pass and once again we’ll greet the morning cloaked in gray and we’ll move back into the dark.

Friday, October 18, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 18 Sports Report

Kindergarten Basketball, now THERE’S a sport that needs to be televised. The only similarity between kindergarten basketball and the organized events you pay top dollar for is the ball. It is usually a basketball. Not always. Sometimes it is a soccer ball. Or one of those awesome red playground balls. If it is round, it can, and has been, used to play Kindergarten Basketball.

This is  how Kindergarten Basketball is played:

First you take the ball. It doesn’t matter if someone else already has it, you take it. You may have to pry it from their nasty stubborn fingers and brace yourself for the ensuing shrieking, but DO IT! Then run! Run! Run! Run! Do not bounce the ball, because you have no way to control it once it leaves your hands, thereby opening it up to be stolen from you.

Run faster! Run onto the field of grass and head to the back fence with your ill-gotten gains. Basket? Who the hell needs a basket? You need a goddamn ATV to stay ahead of those little bastards chasing you. But all good things must come to an end, and that asshole 2nd grader has just wrested the ball from your grasp and that S.O.B. can RUN! Chase him. Claw at his clothing if you can get close enough. Remember, this is now football and that means landing in the muddy grass and rolling around, getting as filthy as possible. It is also important to take as many down with as you can. Someone is bound to get hurt, just make sure it isn’t you.

Rise up and as soon as you spot the ball (being bounced by that foolish 2nd grade thief), run up to him and take the ball back. Someone is yelling at you to throw the ball at the basket, but you know better, because the minute you do that, they will have it and you will not.

Run! Run fast! Go back out to that verdant field; circle the swings and the monkey bars, yelling at the top of your lungs the whole way. If you get tired, find the nearest adult and tattle. On someone, it doesn’t matter who, just talk long enough to rest up, then take off again. Don’t forget the ball.

Aim for the largest group of kids not chasing you and plow right through the thick of them. Be sure to transfer as much mud from you onto them as possible. That is why it is best to run through that thicket of gross girls. They will scatter and trip up that mob following you.

Circle around and approach the basket. No one is there, now is your chance. Throw the ball. If it makes it into the hoop, you are the Champion of the World. If it doesn’t go in, blame someone. If they take the ball and try to make a basket and become champion of the world, kick them in the shin, steal the ball, and start the game all over again.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 17 The Flying Fig I’m Not Giving

I’m not giving a flying fig about anything right now. Not the blog, not the manuscript, not… anything.

So, this is my post. I need to go think.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 16 Happy Birthday

Most Minor Minion is another year older today. It’s very strange to be at this stage of life where I’m not right there celebrating with him. After years of parties, family gatherings, and other special events for such celebrations, being miles apart just seems so… odd.

It started when Spawn moved out and eventually got married. There were no gifts piled on the piano with the bow-codes for “morning gift” and “most important” for her that year and it was strange. I think she may have thought the same thing when she came over for dinner, because, well, she wasn’t there for a morning gift, and she was grown up. Right?

But the gifts on the piano were a tradition as was the wrapping. It was always the same; the morning gift consisted of magazines or a book and wrapped but with no bow. The others would have simple bows, and the Most Important gift would have the biggest, brightest, bestest, most goodest bow of all on it.

When they were young, the offspring would gather around the display of gifts (there were almost always seven of them) and torment themselves over what treasures were contained within the wrapping paper. Their father (bless his heart) would do the wrapping because I loathe doing such a thing, and always he would ask the birthday person, “Do you want me to bring them out one at a time, or all at once?”

Most of the time they would choose the one-at-a-time routine, letting the anticipation build while giving them time to ponder each present so nicely wrapped. They were not allowed to shake, poke, or pick up any gift until their birthday (the gifts were generally brought out the night before, because we’re kind of mean that way) so the effect was heightened.

The next morning, the first gift would be opened and the reading material perused over breakfast. On school days, it was hard to put down the goodies and go to school, but when they got home, those presents would still be sitting on the piano, waiting for dad to arrive after work. Then we’d have dinner and the gifts would be opened.

Dessert would be something of the honoree’s choice, as not all of us liked cake. But, for those who did, we’d get something from the local grocery store bakeshop, and for some reason, my ex would invariably forget that the plastic tray on the bottom was slippery and he’d drop the damn cake somewhere between lighting the candles and singing Happy Birthday. Or he’d wait until we had all had a piece before he’d return the confection to the kitchen and dump it on the floor.

I would remind him, “take it off the tray, please,” and he would ignore my dire warnings and dump the cake.

It became as much a family joke as his selection of videos to rent for family video night. Oh, let me tell you of the Weeping Camel, or War of the Planets, or, oh, god, that one where they were fighting a war on Pluto and one of the characters (a woman) was telling another character (a man) that she really liked his gun, right before taking off her shirt and jumping his bones.

My ex is a good guy. He brought good traditions into my life and the lives of our children. I appreciate that a great deal, even though right now, I feel like I’m missing something. Maybe I should wad up some gift wrap and throw a cake on the floor, then watch a really bad movie.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 15 Hic!

(hic) Mrs. Karen? (hic)
I (hic) have the (hic) hic- (hic) hic- (hic) hiccups. Can I (hic) get a (hic) drink of (hic) water?
(sigh…hic) I said (hic) I have (hic) the (hic) hiccups. Can I (hic) get a (hic) drink of (hic) water? (hic)
You know, you’re very hard to understand when you have the hiccups.
(hic) I (hic) know. Can I (hic) get a (hic) drink of (hic) water? (hic)
I hear water helps with those.
(hic) I know.
You know what else gets rid of hiccups?
(hic) No.
Did I scare you?
(hic) No.
Bummer. Do you want me to try again?
(hic) No (hic) thanks.
Ok, take all my fun away. Go get some water.
(hic) Thanks. (hic)

And that, dear readers, is why I’m having so much fun in Kindergarten.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Day 14 NaBloWriMo Brain Drivel

I’m staring at the blog and a blank page on the computer. I have no idea what to write today, and I’m loathe to just skip a day because of fatigue, but… (yawn) I’m pooped.

Nothing much got done this weekend, considering I spent a good part of Sunday thinking it was Saturday and I had a whole other day to be busy before going back to work. Oh, it’s bad enough when I think Thursday (or Wednesday) is Friday, but thinking Sunday is Saturday is a very cruel trick played by a sadistic brain.

It was a harbinger of what Monday was going to be like. I got myself all ready for work and I was so happy that I had made my lunch the night before (leftovers). Leftovers beat the hell out of tortilla or other gluten-free chips, granola bar, fruit (if I’m lucky) and water. I hate that lunch. Anyway, I grabbed my water tumbler (the lidded thing with the long straw) and headed out the door. When I got to work, I took a sip of water and, um, what the hell?

Ok, I will accept partial responsibility for what I found because I had left the bag with my water container on the floor, and the straw was sticking up. I did not notice anything amiss until I took that first sip… and realized the straw had been chewed on by one of the cats. There were holes in the damn thing and chewed pieces at the top. Once I stopped gagging and picked the cat fur out of my mouth, I spent most of the day sulking and being very thirsty.

I was also busy plotting revenge on one soon-to-be-sorry feline.

But I was particularly sad to discover one of the gals who works at my school wasn’t there to see my lunch. She’s one of “those” folks who will look at a person, then analyze their lunch and draw some pretty harsh judgments against a person. You should have seen the look on her face when I put my chips/granola bar/sad-looking banana and water on the table the last time she was in the lunch room. I thought her eyeballs were going to roll up inside her brain. Then she started in on nutritional information that she felt I needed to know.

I declined to fill her in on my financial information that tends to dictate my life. I have property taxes due this month and my bank account is sucking fumes. Buying expensive groceries right now is pretty low on my list. I’m currently working my way through whatever is in the pantry and the freezer. I may be lunching on pickles and popsicles before the month is over.

So, I was kind of hoping she’d be there to see my salad. It wasn’t bad and I was rather pleased with it. We’ll probably end up at the same table the day I’m dining on white rice and cabbage. The cabbage won’t be an issue, but the rice? Yeah, that should get her wheels spinning.

Here’s hoping Monday doesn’t spill over into the rest of the week. I have plans that don’t involve Mondays or know-it-all co-workers. They do involve Kate Shugak, a bookcase, some boxes, and an outline. Oh, and editing. Always the editing.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Day 13 NaBloWriMo The Nest…

A new era has begun for me. The nest is pretty much officially empty, at least it is empty of offspring who call it home. Their stuff is still here, and there, and there, and there, and oh, lordy, over there too!

It’s a strange feeling I have right now; a mix of joy and sadness, sprinkled with freedom and an odd sensation of not-a-clue. I can do pretty much whatever I want, but I have no idea what I want to do. I am limited by the critters; after all, I’m their sole provider of love, attention, food, and clean litter boxes. If I didn’t have them to think about, I might hop into the car and go…somewhere. Visit…someone? Maybe hang out at the mall?

It’s not like I can’t just call any of my children and chat with them, or invite them over to dinner, although my youngest now lives an hour away, so impromptu dinner invites are pretty much out the window. But he’s promised to come by some weekends, preferably ones where I’m here and not at the shop.

Middle Minion is frequently on call, so even if he’s not at work, his pager can change that status in a heartbeat. Spawn isn’t too far away, but right now, gas is too expensive and she has her weekend things she does, so we don’t get much time together.

I have gained sympathy for my own parents; their only child (yours truly) left home at 17 and never moved back. Oh, we visited, and we still do, but it’s different. My grandmother lived alone most of her life. She and my grandfather split when my mother was barely four-years-old, and she never remarried. When her kids left, her nest was like mine, and there wasn’t anyone there to help fill that void.

She was very involved in her church and she had lots of friends. She didn’t drive, so if she couldn’t get a ride or walk there, she didn’t go. And she was content. She did a lot of reading and sewing. Her favorite thing to do was travel, and she never hesitated to say “yes” to any invitation to go somewhere. She also didn’t have pets, so she was free to go on a whim. Toward the end of her life, when she started getting confused, those whims would take her to some pretty interesting places, and frequently they were very late at night. My mother would get a call from the church secretary telling her my grandma was at the church and very confused. What should they do? Those calls annoyed the hell out of my mom, because she lived 400 miles away and couldn’t just jump in the car and take Grandma back home.

Grandma was very resourceful and resilient, and I honestly don’t know if she was ever really lonely. She grew up the oldest of six, so maybe she was relieved to have time to herself. She would visit her siblings whenever possible, going by Greyhound bus, train, or even airplane. She never left strangers behind, because she made friends wherever she went. That woman could talk a rock to death, but she could listen really well, too. She loved to collect stories, which she shared with everyone when asked how her trip was.

It’s going to be ok. I’m going to get things figured out, especially those things that meow or chirp and need to be tended to even when I’m at the shop. Holidays are complicated, but we’re going to do them whenever we want, essentially tossing the calendar out the window. Schedules are all over the place, so when the planets align and we’re all available, we’ll have a holiday. If we end up gathering for ThanksYule in June, then that’s when it will be.

And I’ll always be thankful that I have a family and a good life (not an easy one, but a good one) and the support of friends and loved ones to lean on when shit gets weird or the nest starts to echo.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 12 Editing

I’ve been on the receiving end of some hounding by individuals who insist I finish the second book because they’ve been left hanging. I understand, I really do. It is frustrating to wonder what in the hell happened and what is going to happen to characters.

Unfortunately, I’m in the same boat. I keep picking away at it, then changing my mind. I’ve not even finished the second run through, because I’ve decided to go a different direction and that means a whole rewrite. Almost from scratch.

Which really means I’ve not started editing, because I’m now working on the second first draft. It is slow going because I’m constantly interrupted by stupid things, namely my persistent checking of facebook.

It’s what killed my blog before, and it is killing my writing now. I wouldn’t have gone back to it, but I was told it would be a good way to get word out about my book. So far, I haven’t noticed a marked upswing in sales due to my facebook account, and I also find that I’m making it a lot more personal than I had originally intended. Oops, so much for professionalism.

What has me looking over my shoulder right now is the month of November, and the big NaNoWriMo event. After not winning last year, and actually being ok with it, I’ve decided to give it a go again.

It all started with a conversation in a bookstore and now I’m getting all geared up for a lovely romp through the old west. For a month. Which means even less editing is going to happen in November, so if I’m really going to make progress on the second book of the Citadel Chronicles, I need to get busy.

Ah, procrastination. Let’s do lunch… one of these days.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Day 11 NaBloWriMo - TEH GAY!

It has been an interesting day. I went to a workshop on responding to escalating students. It was a recertification course, because I’d rather sit there for a whole day listening to the boring crap, than let the certificate expire and have to sit through three nights after work for four hours a night to get the certificate again.

I didn’t learn much of anything new, but it was good to get the refresher. And I got to see old friends and new ones as well.

My only regret was coming home and finding out today is national coming out day. That means I missed a few opportunities to shock some folks. Not that shocking people is what national coming out day is about, but at my age, I take my entertainment wherever I can get it. Rocking a few stuffed shirts back on their heels by informing them THEY JUST CAUGHT “TEH GAY” FROM ME would be the most fun than I’ve had in a while.

It’s funny, but I don’t think about it much any more. Coming out, I mean. I’m out. I don’t really make my relationship with Tam a big secret, but I also don’t throw it in anyone’s face, any more than they throw their heterosexual relationship in mine. I treat my EVIL, NASTY SINFUL HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP as if it was normal. Because to me, it IS normal. Now, anyway. There was a time…way back when I was a judgmental, “believing I’m doing it right” church-going Christian, who was no afraid to cast all gays into the fiery pit of hell, blah, blah, blah.

I think what they say must be true: the harder you fight against it, the better the chances you are one of them.

In case you were wondering, I’m gay. Just in case you were wondering.

Back in the day, I would say, with as much contempt in my voice as I could carry and not get caught, that “God loves the gays, but doesn’t like what they do.”

Oh, bullshit. If everyone was created in the image of god, and god is without flaw, then that means there is absolutely nothing wrong with homosexuality because that isn’t something a creator would just let slip into the recipe without having some kind of clue. And, really, when you’re baking and something bizarre falls into the batter, do you leave it there, or do you try to take it out? Or, if you can’t take it out and continuing on would ruin the entire batch of whatever you’re cookin’, wouldn’t you just start over?

I kind of figure god knew what he was doing when he was dumping shit into the mixing bowl, and if he didn’t think it needed to be fished out then I guess it is because he’s ok with it. EVEN THE SEX PART, BECAUSE THAT’S KIND OF WHAT MAKES US HOMOSEXUALS! IT’S HOW WE PRACTICE “TEH GAY!”

Sorry. My bone of contention is showing, isn’t it? I think I’m cranky because I’m not feeling well AND it took me forever to get the fire going tonight and the house was really cold when I got home. I hate that. I hate it almost as much as being told I’m loved by god even though I’m gay, as long as I don’t have sex.

Um… I like sex with my lover. I plan on having it whenever we’re both feeling well enough to carry on like THE TWISTED HOMOSEXUAL SINNERS FROM HELL that we are. Just so you know, there’s very little twisting going on during our intimate moments. We’re both too out of shape for that kind of stuff. The twisting usually happens afterward, and then we’re twisting off the caps to the Bengay(allmylife) ointment and aspirin bottles.

Oh, and now that you’ve read this blog, YOU PROBABLY HAVE “TEH GAY” so you might want to take something for that, or it could spread to other family members. What I really need to do is figure out how to spread “TEH ACCEPTANCE OF THE WHOLE ENCHILADA” because we are gay and we thank the gods for our sex.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 10 NaBloWriMo

So… I think it might be a good time for a serious post, because I’m in a serious mood and I need to get something off my chest. If you’re looking for humor, you might want to look elsewhere because I’m going to talk about depression, and depression isn’t very funny.

I got my diagnosis in ’86 and it’s been a battle all the way. For the record, I am well aware that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I knew that when my doctor was explaining my diagnosis. He warned me that people would ask questions like, “What have you got to be depressed about?” or say things like “Cheer up! Smile, you’ll feel better.”

He and I had a long talk about it. He had scheduled me for a 30 minute appointment that ended up lasting 45 minutes (my apologies to everyone stuck in the waiting room, but I’m sure some of you understood). One of the first things he told me was, “Anti-depressants do not cure depression they only help you live with it. Therapy takes longer, but in the long run, is a lot better for you and your body than chemicals.”

We discussed my constant malaise, fatigue, pain in every inch of my body and headaches that would make me want to put my head under the wheels of my car. He said it was part of the depression. I asked for something that would help and he hesitated.

“I’ll give you something for the headaches, but if I give you something for the other pain you’re feeling now, it will only get worse. Therapy will help with that as well.”

I didn’t sign up for therapy because my health insurance didn’t cover it, after all, back then depression wasn’t considered a real medical issue by the insurance companies. Good times. I tried a couple of the anti-depressants, but one of them made me suicidal, and the other…well, to be honest I’m not sure what the hell happened because I went kind of blank. After each med trial, I’d go back to the doc and he would evaluate me. He got me off the first one, and when I went in on the second, he says I almost scared him. I looked kind of dead inside. I have a feeling I felt that way too, only I don’t remember it. Deciding it was too much trouble, I stopped trying to find medication to fix my problem and just lived with it, after all, I’d been living with it for ten years prior to that, so nothing was going to change.

But it did. It got worse when my life seemed to get better. Even though I was married to a great guy and we had a growing family, I found myself falling into the abyss so I went back to the doctor. My previous physician had moved so I found a new one. We discussed my diagnosis and we decided to begin with new meds. He also suggested therapy, but my husband frowned upon that.

The new meds tried to kill me. Hallucinations of varying types including olfactory (phantom smells), visual (whoa! What the hell are THOSE things?), and audio (voices. In my head. I hated those the most). When we finally found something that didn’t make me crazier than I already was they began shutting down important organs, starting with my kidneys and moving toward my liver. Even my heart took a beating (ha ha ha, bad medical humor). Not only did they try to kill me, they did not help lift my depression. Finally, the doctor said it was time to try therapy and he would prescribe it so the insurance would pay more. I had ten visits to get my shit in order.

The first visit was easy. Dr. R and I talked and got to know each other. We discovered many commonalities and we really clicked. I looked forward to our next session, even though she gave me homework to do in the meantime. I was supposed to think about things and write them down. Specifically, I was supposed to write down things that made me feel bad, things that made me feel good, and things that made me angry. Then I was supposed to write down what I did.

The list was long and it took her five minutes to peruse it, asking questions and making notes. She asked me how I was feeling and I remember shrugging. “Fine, I guess.”
“That’s not an answer. How does your body feel?”
“It hurts, but that’s normal.”
“No it’s not.”

All this time, I figured my pain was the same thing everyone else felt. I remember being in high school and wondering what it would feel like to not have pain. We talked about triggers and reactions. She made me dig deep into my emotions; she made me poke at the things that scared me so bad I couldn’t think about them without fearing I’d lose my mind. She helped me drag those things into the light so we could see them and she helped me turn them into something different. They were still there, but they were rendered inert. Not all of them, and not all at once, but here’s the thing: she taught me how to do it for, and by, myself.

She gave me the power to look at what hurt me and examine it until I knew it well enough to say, “whoa” and then make a choice to keep fearing it, or remove its power over me.

She did not cure my depression. I’m still in constant pain and I cannot take anything but over the counter meds. My body will not tolerate prescription drugs, at least not the ones you can take outside the hospital. Codeine, Percocet, etc, give me migraines worse than any pain they can take away. Others make me so ill I cannot keep them in my body long enough for them to do any good. Plus, throwing up that hard can cause some lovely problems as well.

So I take my OTC “cocktail” of extra strength migraine aspirin/acetaminophen/caffeine, quick release acetaminophen, and extended release acetaminophen. Two of each actually gets me through most of a morning. My kidneys will probably take out a contract on me, but the rest of my body seems to appreciate the relief, however minor, however short. When it stops working, I switch to ibuprofen and stay on that until it stops working, then I switch back. It helps.

I’m also taking as much vitamin D as I can tolerate, omega 3’s, and nightly doses of magnesium. It helps me. The pain is still there, but it’s always been there. I would like to think that some day it will be gone, but until then, I’ll deal.

When the dark horse rides and I’m dragged deeper into the abyss, I eventually remember she gave me keys and tools to use to get myself turned back toward the light. But there is always the danger of being sucked under, as I’m never completely out of depression. It is part of me. But now what is also part of me is the knowledge that I can pull myself into a better place. I can make choices, tough choices, and I can move forward. I can set foot into the light and feel the warmth.

Depression will always be there, and I’m never fooled into thinking I’m cured. But I’m getting stronger. I’m saying “whoa” more times than I’m saying “woe.” I’m rendering my fears less harmful, and eventually they become harmless. I’m letting go of them and some of the chains are dropping away.

One of the most significant (and recent) realizations came to me on a drive back from the beach. It’s a three hour session with myself (and goddammit bird) so I get a lot of thinking done. I was bemoaning that I’ve never been first in anyone’s life (except my children when they were infants, but that’s only because I was food). I’ve always taken second place, even when I put others in first place in my life. It was then that I realized there was one person who could, and SHOULD put me first and that is me!

It goes against everything I learned when I was a Christian, and even now I feel uneasy thinking it, but it’s true. I will always have me, and by golly, I should be first in my life. Tam is the next first, and my children. It’s a little crowded, but I know the order. We all stand together, and there might be some shifting around on occasion, but I’m always first for me. I know that no matter what happens to any other relationship in my life, I will always have me, and I’d better start treating me well so I don’t stop talking to myself and giving myself chocolate when the need arises.

Sad things happen, and when you’re a person with depression, those sad things can be devastating. People who do not share the diagnosis also feel sad, but it may not be the same level of pain, and they may not suffer as long. For the depressed, pain and misery can be exaggerated (literally and figuratively) making it harder than hell to come around.

But if you’re lucky, you’ll find a therapist who can give you some keys and tools and help you gain the skills to make that stay in the abyss a little less devastating, and a lot shorter. Use the tools. Allow yourself to become important to YOU. Buy yourself something nice, or take yourself to the library if you’re broke (like me). Treat yourself the way you want to be treated, because if you’re waiting for someone else to do it, you’d better pack a lunch and bring a sleeping bag, because you’re going to have a long wait.

Allow yourself to become strong; the only one who can inflict the most damage to you is yourself.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NaBloWriMo Day 9

So, I recently discovered that I’ve been calling this NaBloPoMo, which is not correct. Apparently, that is something different. I mean, it’s the same thing but a thing being done by different people in charge. Or something. Whatever. My apologies if I offended anyone by my lack of knowing.

Work has been fine lately, a huge up from working with the behavior group, but I’ll be honest with you, I’m worn out! Those little guys sure need to be kept busy or chaos will run amok, hither and yon, and a bunch of other unpleasant stuff.

And someone will put a booger on someone else and there will be tears, and gagging, because I can’t stand boogers and for some reason kindergartners attract them.

I have kindergarten songs stuck in my head pretty much all the time. I don’t mind it, for the most part, but there are days when the only thing that will get “Penguins Attention!” out of my noggin is something catchy from Jethro Tull. Or Katy Perry, because when you’re desperate to NOT listen to your brain sing “Shake Your Sillies Out,” you’ll listen to just about anything to make it stop.

Except Sparks. I cannot stand most of Sparks’ stuff, although I think they have one song I do actually like. I don’t recall the name of it, but it’s pretty good. The rest of it makes me want to shriek.

It has been so lovely having Tam here, although the visit has been way too short in my opinion. However, since it appears that everything worked out well from Li’l Red’s end of things (like getting himself to school in the morning, which, when you’re 16, can be a challenge), then there is a good chance she will be able to pop in once a month or so, which would be lovely. Unless she makes me go through boxes of stuff, then maybe she should just stay at the beach. L I do not like going through boxes.

Which brings me to the next thing on my list: the thing that died in the garage. We were out there, rummaging through boxes, looking for embroidery stuff, when I noticed a foul smell coming from one section of said garage. Apparently something decided to invade my personal space and expire therein, thereby making the air smell dreadful. One more reason to hate cleaning: finding dead things.

 I got a text from Most Minor Minion this evening. He has finally landed a job! Of course, he landed said job in a city 45 minutes from me, which means my nest is officially empty. Of children, but not their stuff. My garage, attic, upstairs bedroom, and other areas of my home still harbor their belongings.

But now that he’s working and will be moving, I can focus on getting this place ready for rent. It’s going to take me a couple years, and in the mean time, I may rent out a room (or two) to some college students. That will cover some expenses and allow me to upgrade a few things, like the wiring and plumbing, and the landscaping (since this place has never been ‘scaped). Once I have things under control, I can find a property manager, rent it out, and move to the beach to be with my love and our hatshop.

Which is how I really want things to be, and you know, I think we’re moving forward in that very direction.

And that, my friends, gives me a happy.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Day 8 NaBloPoMo

Woo-hoo! My sweetie is in town! She drove over to visit me, her two kids, and her mom. It’s been a while since she’s been here and I must say, it is wonderful to have her back.

She asked me what I was going to write about for my NaBloPoMo. I told her I wasn’t sure, because nothing terribly exciting had happened to me today. She was…amused.

“Ok, well, there was ONE thing that happened today. I went grocery shopping!”
“Came home and made tuna pasta salad.”
“And I ate some of it.”
“And you are here right now having tuna pasta salad with me after we went to the grocery store together in our home town for the first time in months. Many, many months.”
“That’s better. Anything else?” Her eyebrow raised and I could feel the hair on my head starting to rise.
“Um, you brought me tea?”
“I meant anything else happen today?”
“Thunder and lightning. Wait, was that YOU?”
“Well, I will admit I was pretty close to that action. In fact, while I was on the freeway, lightning struck less than half a mile from me. It was pretty damn exciting.”
“Yeah, that was the storm that rolled through earlier and pretty much cleared the field of children at recess. Good times! Kids are fast, man! You start flinging lightning around and they head for cover. Well, most of them do. Then there are those who just kind of stand there, gape-mouthed as they stare at the sky and someone has to go after them before they either drown or get struck by lightning.”

“Ah, the next generation of politicians.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Day 7 NaBloPoMo

Bookstore bounty!

There is a used bookstore in Long Beach called Banana Books. The owner is a nice guy who knows books (which helps when you’re in the business) and his lovely partner makes these fantastic earrings… ooh! I have several pairs of them, and I’ve given away others as gifts because they are SO BEAUTIFUL! Gathered Fragments is her company and she is as much a treasure as her jewelry.

They also have two dogs, rescued pitbulls, who are lots of fun to visit. They also have seven cats (all ferals that have been fixed and are now well taken care of by the shop owners). I don’t get to visit with them as much as I used to, not just because I’m only at the beach twice a month, but because when I’m there, I’m usually at my own shop playing with hats.

But, Tam shooed me out the door on Saturday so I could go visit my friend. We like to visit over coffee (she’s also the barista) and talk about her new grandbaby, books, jewelry, and customers, both good and…um, interesting.

This last time, I found three books I simply had to take home: a Dana Stabenow mystery featuring Kate Shugak, another Kathy Reichs, and a collection of short stories by Shirley Jackson. I’m not so sure when I’ll be reading the one by Jackson, simply because The Haunting of Hill House will probably give me nightmares and now that I’m pretty much on my own, the last thing I need are a bunch of sleepless nights caused by a bad case of “what’s that noise?” I may save it for summer when I’m at the cabin with Tam.

I fell into the Kate Shugak series quite by accident when I downloaded the first one on to my e-reader. It was free. That was the only reason I got it. Really. I’m not ashamed, and I’m really glad I did it. It was wonderful. I love the characters of Kate and Mutt (her wolf-hybrid) and the ways of the people who live in Alaska. It isn’t just another mystery series, it also includes cultural insights and as a former student of anthropology (I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree in the field, but that’s another story for another blog post), I love books that give me a peek into a world quite different from mine.

Of course, Kathy Reichs is awesome, for the most part. Once she got over her need to teach, her books became more character and plot centered, and less textbookish. Not that I’m against learning about forensic anthropology (um, wanted to study that kind of thing, just not quite to that extent), but it can make for a bogged down story. I do like the fact that she researches her topics, and I was REALLY pleased with her treatment of Paganism, specifically Wicca, in Cross Bones. She got it right! I’m always leery of books that feature Paganism because so often they toss everyone into the same bag and call it witchcraft.

Anyway, one of the genres I enjoy is Western, but I’m pretty picky. Zane Grey is a favorite, and I do enjoy the occasional Louis L’amour, but when I asked the store owner about westerns written by women, he said, “there aren’t that many, and the ones that are out there tend to be on the erotic side.”

I’m really not into that. Really.

So… I now have my theme for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m going to write a western. I’m not sure I can keep the dragons out of it, but I can try. J There will probably not be many cowboys coming to the rescue of the rancher’s daughter, but there will be horses, danger, and strong women taking care things, including themselves. My female characters rarely need some male coming to their aid, unless said male is just tall enough to reach the high shelf without a ladder. Because I hate ladders, and so do most of my characters.

I’m looking forward to it, but don’t worry, I’ll still be working on the next book in the Citadel Chronicles.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Day 6 NaBloPoMo

I went to the beach this weekend to work in the hat shop with Tam. This long distance relationship stuff is hard, folks, really hard. The three and a half, to four hour drive is not always pleasant, even if it does go through some of the most beautiful scenery. It is still a long-assed drive that has me quite tired by Sunday when I get back home.

But it is worth it. Not only do I get to see my sweetie (which is definitely worth the drive) but I get to play in the shop. It isn’t a win-lose situation, it’s a win-win-lose situation. Unless you add in the long distance relationship part then we’re up to a win-win-lose-lose thing.

I won’t get into the traffic issue, or the fact that if the weather is crappy, I end up leaving on Saturday morning just so I don’t have to travel at night in ugly, unpredictable weather with ugly, unpredictable drivers and wildlife doing their ugly, unpredictable shit everywhere.

This last trip was kind of unusual. While I’m used to seeing plenty of mule deer hanging around the roadside, waiting for a car to come along before they dash across, I am NOT accustomed to rounding a corner and finding about six head of elk standing on the shoulder and staring at my car. They had that look that clearly said, “It’s a hybrid. Not even worth a full point. Bambi could trash one of those. Let’s wait for something worthy of our name.” Just one more reason I dislike driving at night. Those glowing eyes give me the heebie jeebies.

Speaking of wildlife, as I was getting ready to leave this morning, I was hauling my luggage out to the car when what to my wondering eyes should appear but A BEAR CUB!!! HOLY SHIT!!! I jumped back into the house after uttering a particularly foul epitaph, turned around and realized it was the dog from across the road and not a bear, cub or full grown.

I laughed really hard, both in relief and because it was hilarious. When I was steady enough to go back outside, the dog and her owner strolled over and we had a nice chat. She’s a Black Retriever, “a rare breed that has all but been forgotten,” according to her owner. She looks and acts a lot like a field retriever, only she’s black and not liver colored. But she sure acts like a field retriever.

She’s very stubborn, energetic, and has no idea why someone may not want to be her best friend. I love dogs and we made up and became besties right there and then, even while she was dancing across both my feet. Her owner said she chased a bear sow and her cub a couple weeks ago, and I’m thinking it was the same day Tam and Li’l Red saw the bruins wandering the neighborhood. Stupid dog, but the bear wanted nothing to do with such a bold creature that smelled strongly of man, and headed far from the area. I’m not sure if I’m happy about that as I have yet to actually see the bear from less than 100 feet away.

When I got home, after my long drive with Goddammit Bird, I was greeted by one of the cats. The other was refusing to speak to me because my son, Middle Minion, had lost his key to the house and could not come in and check on the kitties in my absence. This meant there was DISH showing in the FOOD! And we all know how completely unacceptable that is when you’re a cat.

After a rather intense search that included using the feline summoner, also known as the can opener, she finally made herself known, however briefly that was. I was thankful there were no ugly surprises for me lurking in my chair, or on the sofa or anywhere else. Four hours later and she’s still snubbing me. Cats…yay.

With the winding down of the busy weekend, I’m finding it difficult to settle in. There is still a little daylight that is quickly fading and taking the last of summer with it. I long to be out there to take in the last of the blessed warm season, but I’m so damn tired I think I’ll call it a day.

Oh, did I mention I visited my friends at the bookstore while I was at the beach? Did I mention after much discussion and thought, I know where my writing is going to take me next? “Next” being after the Chronicles are farther along and I can take a little break from them. Yeah, it was a good weekend. Despite the cats.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Day 5 NaBloPoMo

Ah, children…

But enough about them, I’m going to write something about my fireplace, because my fireplace has not texted me to let me know it has lost any keys…

In case I need to remind anyone out there, Tam and I went out and bought a lovely fireplace insert. We did this after spending five days in an ice storm with an inefficient fireplace, trying to keep a fire going with wet wood, and eating flaming food while listening to the trees drop large branches, none of which we could burn.

Yes, I know, it would have been nice to be able to have the insert BEFORE the Icy Armageddon, but we didn’t have the funds at the time.

Finding an insert that met our criteria wasn’t easy. It had to have enough surface sticking out from the firebox to be used to cook with. After five days of eating toast flambé, hotdog flambé, bacon flambé, and coffee flambé (yes, the coffee was on fire because I spilled bacon grease on the pot), AND having no hot water to use to clean up after toileting (I know… EEEWWWW!) or even just take a sponge bath without causing frostbite, having a way to do these things when the power is out was important. I can rough it, but if I can make things easier to do while living like a cave-dwelling troglodyte, I will do it.

Tam has lived with a wood stove for years and knows the ins and outs of fire building, fire keeping, and most important, fire starting. I used to know a lot of those things, but after living with a furnace and no real need to worry about keeping a house warm by burning wood, those talents went latent on me.

Then Tam moved to the beach to run the shop and I was in trouble. Starting the fire turned out to be a lot more difficult than I remembered. When Spawn was tiny, we lived in a house with a coal burning stove. I could get that damn thing lit with three sheets of newspaper, five sticks and a match. I now have a modern wood stove and I can’t light a fire with the Sunday Times, six pillar candles, and enough kindling to build a small mansion.

While Tam and I were Skyping, she talked me through her process and lo! I made fire! I made fire again the next night, and the night after that. Paper, ENOUGH kindling, some old candle wax, and a lighter (we’re out of matches). It turns out I wasn’t using enough sticks to give it a chance to really take. Once I got that all figured out, I was ON it!

I decided I didn’t want to mess with hauling wood, splitting wood, dragging wood into the garage, stacking wood in the garage… I’m just not that into wood, you know? So I decided to try these pressed wood logs. They’re uniform in size and shape, start easily, and there are two kinds: regular lignetics that burn hot and fast, and the long burning ones that are cooler, but last several hours.

After a couple days, I had my formula all worked out. Build a fire, get it nice and hot, then toss one of the long burners on. As soon as it catches and burns for a couple hours, toss on another one. Choke down the damper to almost closed, go to bed. In the morning, wake to a warm house, toss on a quick burn log, repeat process and go to work. Come home, do it all over again.

I had one fire going for over 60 hours. My house was nice and toasty. I think I may be ready for the next step: Learning to cook on it. You know, these big-girl adventure panties fit pretty good!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4 – NaBloPoMo

I have a cockatiel. Right now, her name is “goddammit bird.” She’s pretty amazing and we’ve discovered that she travels well. Ok, she travels well NOW, but our first trip together was a nightmare rolled up in neuroses, sprinkled liberally with psychoses, and tied up with hysteria. It was a very long three hours from home to the beach.

When a cockatiel is alarmed or frightened, or just wants to piss someone off, they will squawk or shriek loudly in a high-pitched manner that would make Helen Keller wince. This is un-fun in an enclosed space the size of my car. For three and a half hours. At night. In horrible weather. Weather that was stressing me out to the point my neck had all but disappeared under my shoulders. The only reason she survived is because she was in the backseat and I couldn’t risk reaching back there to choke her while I was driving.

Once we were at the cabin, she settled in nicely and while I spent most of the summer fretting and worrying about a repeat performance on the way home again, I was pleasantly surprised that she did really well. Sure, she’d get panicky at things outside the car, but hell, so do I.

Now she comes with me if I’m going to be gone for more than one night, or if the house is going to be too cold for her. I’ve shut off the furnace because the last time it came on, the accompanying BOOM rattled the windows and all my nerves. Until I can afford to repair it, we’re using the wood stove. Which, by the way is awesome and keeps the place roasty toasty because I have no idea how to keep it going over night and I hate trying to start a fire twice a day… Long story. I’ll save it for day five, ok?

Anyway, the only problem I have with the bird is one that is attached to my phone, that same phone engraved deeply into my shit list. The nice thing about the phone is that it has a great blue tooth system that allows me to speak into the air to make my calls. This is rather limiting, as I do not know the phone numbers of most of the people in my contacts, but I have forgotten how to enter them into the system so I can just press a button, say a name, and make my call. This means, I can only call people whose numbers I have memorized. They are few.

However, I do have Tam in the system, plus I know her number by heart. The problem is when I’m trying to talk to my car, there cannot be much background noise, or the car will say, “Pardon?” in her sexy lady-car voice and I’ll have to repeat myself. When I’m alone, it isn’t much of an issue, but when I have the bird? Oh, hell… it usually goes something like this:

Me (pushing talk button).
Car: Say a command.
Me: Dial by numSQUAWKber.
Car: Pardon?
Me: Shut up, bird.
Car: Pardon?
Me: Dial by numSHRIEKber.
Car: Pardon?
Me: Ok, dial by naSQUAWKme.
Car: Pardon?
Me: Goddammit bird, shut up.
Bird: SQUAWK!!
Car: Pardon?
Me: Ignore her. Dial by—
Car: Say a command.
Me: I’m trying, dammit.
Bird: SHRIEK!!!!
Car: Pardon?
Me: I’m going to kill you!

Car: Shut up, bird.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Day 3 NaBloWriMo

My phone is an asshole. Let me clarify, my CELL phone is an asshole. I really wish I’d known that before I settled on it. Actually, it behaved itself fairly well at first, doing only a few things that caused me great embarrassment and grief.

Don’t get me started on autocorrect. Just… don’t.  

Anyway, there are settings on my phone that seem to change with the seasons, and the seasons appear to be the following: Fuck you; Screw you; Go to hell; Bite me bitch; Die! Die! Die!; What? WHAT?!? NO!!!; Abso-fucking-lutely not you insufferable cow; and my personal favorite, You must be joking.

I know that is a year with more than four seasons. My phone doesn’t give a shit about traditional seasons or continuity. It hates me and everything. Every-thing.

For instance, I made the grievous error in judgment and loaded Skype onto my phone. Now, first, I’d like to say that I do enjoy using Skype on my computer. It allows me to see my darling while we’re living three hours apart. I love it. She even shows me her… embroidery. Yeah, her embroidery. Really. She’s quite good at it. Embroidery, I mean. We have no problems with Skype on the computers, with the exception of some strange echoing feedback that drives us (and my bird) nuts.

Anyway, the problems with loading Skype onto my phone are many, the main one being my inability to log on. Tam can’t even load it onto her computer, and the damn thing insists that I choose whether I want to use Skype or just make a phone call, even when I’m just making a fucking phone call. While this isn’t much of a problem normally, when I’m using the hands-free-while-driving thingy, I must pick up my phone and make the selection, thereby rendering the hands-free thing moot. But it never came right out and said that, it just pretended to call, but didn’t put the call through, it just left me hanging.

I really wanted to shoot my phone. So, now I must try and figure out how to get Skype the hell off my phone forever, and in the process, I really hope I hurt its feelings.

Then there are the “notification” sounds I’m supposed to get when I receive texts or PM’s on farcebook. I have missed several texts because my phone has chosen that moment to stop speaking to me. However, it loves to wait until around two in the morning to tell me I have a message. That gives the old heart a start, believe me, and adrenaline is not a good sleep aid. But my biggest issue wasn’t that I got a message that late and it finally decided to speak up and let me know at 2 a.m., but THERE WERE NO MESSAGES TO TELL ME ABOUT IN THE FIRST PLACE. Seriously, nothing was there. I even looked again when I dragged my sleep deprived carcass out of bed later that morning. No one texted me or sent me a message. It was just my phone making sure that I do not get a good night’s sleep, even when I’m not jumping up every two hours to pee.

I am seriously considering going back to the old style phone that doesn’t have all those “wonderful” bells and whistles. Something that makes phone calls, takes decent pictures, and will allow me to text friends and family… No more internet, no more stupid ass noises in the middle of the night made by a lying phone with nothing better to do than fuck with my circadian rhythms.

And I’m going to get a battery operated alarm clock so I don’t have to have my phone near my bed at night, because REAL alarm clocks tend to mind their manners.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Day 2 NaBloWriMo

I made fudge the other day. I did it because I had company for dinner and my son does love sweets, just like his momma.

The amazing thing about this fudge is that I have yet to screw it up. Every time I’ve made it, it has come out delicious, smooth, creamy… um… hang on a second. I’ll be right back.

Gods, that was good…

Anyway, here is my post for the day. I call it:

1, 2, 3, FUDGE!

1 stick of butter. Use it to grease the inside of an 8x8 cake pan, then use it to grease the inside of a 3 quart sauce pan. Drop it in the sauce pan, turn on the heat to somewhere between medium and high. As soon as it is melted pour in
1 bag of mini marshmallows. When they are almost completely melted, pour in
1 bag of chocolate chips. Or butterscotch chips. Or white chocolate chips… you get the picture.

When it is melted and smooth, remove from heat and pour into the buttered cake pan. Stick it in the fridge for at least an hour.

When it is cold, it is very chewy, almost like a caramel. If you leave it out at room temperature, it is creamy and sticky.

I’m planning on playing with it a bit, you know, adding a few extra things to it on occasion: cinnamon, dried fruit, nuts… I’m even thinking of tossing in some crisp rice because, well, yum. By the way, the extra ingredients don’t add to the name, it’s still just 1, 2, 3, Fudge!

Ok, technically, it’s 1, 1, 1, fudge, but really?


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1 - NaBloWriMo

Happy October. To be honest with you, I’m not quite sure what happened to the earlier months of this year. They seem to have been swallowed up by some toothsome month-gobbling monster.

Oh, yeah… the hat shop! That’s what did in a lot of the year. I’m not complaining, I still love it, although the off-season has me more than a little leery of the coming months of little-to-no sales. Thankfully, we had a decent summer, so we should be ok (with fingers crossed each time I say this).

Tam has left her job with the district to work the shop full time. This means, she has moved to the coast (all I can say here is: Thank goodness for Skype!) because the commute from here to the shop is ridiculous. This means, that for the first time in my life, I’m living by myself. For the most part. Most Minor Minion will occasionally land in the Minion Nest for an extended stay, but I’m still pretty much on my own.

Middle Minion came over for dinner the other night and we that we discussed an amazing fact: Until this point in my life (current age: 53) that I’ve never lived alone! Never! I’ve always been someone’s daughter, roommate, girlfriend, wife, or mother. I’ve always had someone sharing my home. There might have been a short time between high school and my first marriage that I lived alone because my fiancé hated my roommates and he made them feel less than welcome IN OUR HOME, but that is in the past and I digress…

After a lot of soul searching and a huge bout of very dark depression, I have come to terms with my current situation, and I find that I rather like it. I’m living a very simple life and I can cut costs where I feel comfortable, and not worry if it bothers anyone else. There are luxuries I can live without, including a running furnace. I bought the damn fireplace insert to keep costs low I might as well use it to do that very thing even if it is a pain in the ass to light on occasion. I’m terrible at lighting fires, unlike Tam who can start a bonfire with a wet tissue and a dirty look.

I’ve changed my job so I actually have some energy, emotionally and physically, after work which means I can get this place ready for rent in the next couple years. I’m picking away at the whole thing for about an hour every day, but that’s better than what I had been able to do while working with in the Adaptive Behavior program (which, by the way, is why I was off work with an injury for a week). That job nearly killed my spirit and left me feeling hopeless and spent every day. Not conducive to…living, much less cleaning and caring for myself or the house.

I like my new position. I’m a 1:1 with a delightful autistic boy who is a loveable, silly, little dude. Life is looking much better, even if it isn’t quite as warm as it once was. I miss my family, I miss sharing my life with someone, but I kind of like discovering me and discovering that I can do this. I really can do this.