Monday, August 31, 2009

Well that's kind of...orange and yellow and red

Heh, wanted to watch a dvd while finishing the hats, so I put on Serenity, since that was on my mind. Man oh man that is a good movie! Remember how fun that all was? Pre-screenings and all? Watching the cut with cards saying VFX HERE?

That was a long time ago now. Can you believe I'm still making hats?

Have to cast on another one right now.

The extras are pretty glorious. I especially like the statement about not making things people like, but only things that people love.

That's a good philosophy right there.

Guess what? I stapled all those copies of the syllabus (44) and discovered that in copying the sample they gave us, I copied a GIANT TYPO in the name of the class. Rhetoric and Compositon, in 14 point type! I went through and wrote an I on every one. How come spell check didn't catch that, I wonder? It complained about the word Husson every time. Hmmmmm.

Phew, you should DEFINITELY watch the outtakes on the Serenity dvd because they made me laugh until I cried and wheezed and scared the cat. Phew, gasp, ack.

Hats are done! Must go to sleep! Pack yarn and lunch for office hours! Hup hup hup hup hup!

Yo bunnies!

Hey, did you know that after you teach a class you're sort of comatose for a while? All limp and brain-sogged? Yeah, I forgot about that. It's exactly like that dothe thing they have in Left Hand of Darkness, where they can harness that super focused strength people get when they have to lift a horse out of a ditch in a panic (or whatever) but then afterward they have to sleep for like a week.

Anyway. THAT. Yes.

Adrenaline or something.

Yep, back in the saddle. Piece of cake! Like falling off a bike. Wait.... All's well, is my point. My class today had 10 people in it but tomorrow's classes are probably full with 22 each.

First day is the easiest, though, so it'll get a lot more effortful coming up. Just wait until I get 44 drafts on Thursday and have to grade them all by Tuesday. EVERY WEEK.

I did go apply to all the usual suspects today for Supplementary Employment so I hope I hear something soon, and start immediately. I will be completely flat-out exhausted for a while but that's okay. As long as I get a second (fourth) job!

Hey, you know how that two mile walk seemed longer? That's because it was a 2.5 mile walk. Today I was not wearing a dress, so I could put the pedometer in my waistband properly, so it worked much better. Yesterday I tried it on my shoe, on my key lanyard, on my sweatshirt pocket, and so on.

What a gorgeous walk. The weather is absolutely heart-breakingly perfect right now, about 68 degrees, clear and dry and sunny and breezy and just right in every way.

I'm hoping to look back soon on how tired this eensy little walk is making me and laugh a hollow laugh. Right? Sure!

Tomorrow there's a soccer game so I'll go running around on campus or somewhere in between office hours and the game. Hopefully office hours will soak up my pudding-brained state with low-effort questions and answers or else no students showing up at all.

That snack bar/cafe/place with fireplaces where I'm having office hours lets you have free hot water for tea, yay! You know that's a make or break situation right there. Must! Have! Tea!

FROST ADVISORY tonight, though way the heck up in the mountains by Canada. Surely not here.

Bunnies, I am all wrung out with the tiredness. I'm proud as can be that I managed the walk anyway with all that dothe to contend with. And now I have to make some pompoms that did not get made last night so that these hats get shipped out in the morning early on. And I have to get the next one underway because I'm not going to a soccer game with that terrible a team without a hat to knit, I am telling you right now.

I can't remember whether I was already knitting the hats the last time I taught. Was I? In 2005? When did Serenity come out? September 2005. But that means the last time I taught was probably 2004. Huh. Can that be right? When did Invincible come out? I know I was knitting them during the shooting of that. But when did I work in the bakery, then? All I know is I left Oregon in 2003 and went to L.A. in 2006. The rest is a mystery to me, probably because most of it was UTTER HELL and also in Pennsylvania, which is redundant. I HATE Pennsylvania. But if Serenity came out in 2005 then 2005 is when the hats started so I had to be teaching before that.

Are you frightened that I have no sense at all of the timeline of my life or what year anything happened? Where was I living when I turned 20? NO IDEA. 30? Not a clue. 40? Okay, that one I know. At the Smokehouse with everyone! (That was 40, right? Dear oh dear.)

It's going to be family birthday hell again this Saturday for the baby niece's birthday. Everyone is coming, two by two, like the frelling ark. I think my sister-in-law should provide an eligible oncologist for me for a date/shield so I don't hate life as I usually do at big family gatherings where no one speaks to me except to sling nasty barbs my way or ask whether I've lost any weight yet, at the table in the middle of dinner. I imagine he'd be trim with a shiny bald head and a slightly worried expression.

If you had been through even one of these in my place, i.e. designated target for any vicious thing anyone thinks of saying, you would understand my horror and dread.

Sister-in-law-once-removed Birgit and her boyfriend will be there so maybe my family members will behave themselves somewhat, but I would not place any bets on that.

Oops, party dread PLUS family dread--they are multiplied by each other, instead of added together, you realize. YUCK. Maybe I'll get my supplementary job in time so I don't have to go! Baby won't care, no one will care. I vote for that!

In lieu of a worried shield/date with a shiny bald head (I don't know why, it's just who I imagine) I think I'll start stabbing anyone who says anything mean to me. That seems reasonable, don't you think?

Let's talk about happier things than my nightmarish dysfunctional family! Wooooo! Like how fun the soccer game is going to be tomorrow. And how great it'll be to work a whole lot. And how nice it'll be to pay bills. And how exciting it'll be to be able to relax and write things again once this giant survival pressure is off and life is a reasonable machine again. Yes! That's what I want. Simple working machinery of life.

I have started standing there and addressing the universe on these matters because I don't really think I'm a horrible person or doing terrible things, I just do my work to the best of my ability, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to read the fine print when they don't give it to me (AHEM, HUSSON) but things keep on going awry in a constant slaphappy tumbledown manner and I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF IT. NO MORE CHAOS. No more uncertainty and jobs that vanish or are only a week at a time or don't pay you for two months or anything stupid like that! NONE OF THAT! This is NOT OKAY, universe. You are ON NOTICE. Kindly fix this AT ONCE.

And if you could possibly arrange so that my family members inexplicably splutter on their beverages whenever they are about to say nasty things, like Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle might make them do, that'd be excellent too.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Not so bad

I got all my prep done, everything packed in my bag for school tomorrow. Awesome! And even managed to cook a healthy dinner, bake bread, and go for a two mile walk. Gosh, two miles is longer here than anywhere else I've lived. I think it has to do with the particular incremental nature of the country. In a city you'd have blocks, but here it's this person's property--house, fields, orchard, barn--and then the next person's property, then a stretch of woods. It just seems to pass at a different rate.

I got Private First Class Whoever's pedometer out today (left behind when they moved out) and so I know it was two miles because the pedometer says so. Also I drove it a week or so ago and checked. Got to know these things!

The Goth teenager down the road did this walk the other day in flipflops and shamed me into getting off my duff. It's true! She was gone a LONG time. Actually she might have gone all the way up the mountain, she was gone so long. That's another option I'm going to try, obviously, though not in flipflops and not with her sulky face on.

The walk was GLORIOUS. Perfectly gorgeous day! Hardly any people to see, what with the vast stretches of field and woods. No wildlife today, not even birds of prey. In fact those three horses didn't even turn around, whereas usually they watch me and the one with the long blond mane walks along with me.

Anyway it was a big celebration for getting syllabus 1 & 2 done. I know there are three, but 2 & 3 are identical except for the course number and the room location. Yes, I'm teaching identical back-to-back courses and they're not only in different rooms, but in different buildings. Even Penn State let me stay in the same room when I did that there, and I was a grad student! I just don't know about you, Husson.

That said, I really prefer not being in the same room when teaching identical classes. That's because I'll forget whether I've said a thing or was about to say it or what. It's terrible. I had an awful time in that situation at Penn State. I hereby revoke my complaint of the previous paragraph.

Except the different building thing. Though a little fresh air always clears the head.

My goodness, I'm having a terrible time complaining today. Must be all the healthy food and exercise.

That nice boy Terry (I mean, nice faculty member in English) sent me a TTh syllabus just now, though for the wrong course. Still, I'll take it as a kindness and thanked him very much. I like him, despite a sort of historical generalized antipathy toward people who specialize in rhet/comp. Prejudice! Prejudice! Totally rational prejudice! I mean, oops.

Hi!

Anyway YES I'm a basket case of anxieties over here and worked stupidly hard for two solid days and now I'm ready to go. I haven't solved the second job situation yet. I mean, duh. I've been home preparing the whole semester from scratch while adhering to the team-teaching party line...zzzzzzzzzzz....

In more interesting news, my brother came over with little Julia today, which is always fun. She wasn't as enthralled as last time. But she did have a couple of choice moments, like when the little soccer ball went under my bed, she told me to get a hockey stick to get it out. That's because at her house, people use the little hockey stick I gave her to get balls out from under furniture. I love that!

And my other favorite thing: she had all these stuffed bunnies and bears and typical cute things around her, and my whole toy chest full of action figures and whatever, but she picked out a ten-inch plastic Jabba the Hutt to play with and put him to bed. Like, put a blanket over him and said, "Night night, Jabba!" Which just about made me perish with joy.

Then she put a bunny on top of him. I don't know what that was about, but it ranked high in my list of gloriously surreal sights for the day.

Ack! All frazzled. Have to go finish this hat order so I can send them out tomorrow. And then knit the next two, already paid up as well.

Alarming development or natural state of affairs? You tell me: I had a dream about the character Booth from Bones. Not the actor. The character. That NEVER happens. I dream about actors and writers and producers. It's more likely for a network executive like Mark Stern or a behind the scenes wizard person like Mojo or Bear McCreary to make a cameo than a character from any show.

Plus I've SEEN the actor in the WORLD which usually cements the difference between reality and fiction very very well. So what is up with Special Agent Seeley G. Booth appearing in my dream?

Frankly, I'm a little worried about that. He seemed kind of freaked out to be there, too, actually, wherever "there" was.

We're all freaked out.

I'm going to go knit Jayne hats and pretend that's not a million miles of yarn knitted exactly along the line between the fictional world and mundane reality. Okay? Okay!

Watch this

In case I was doubting the rightness of leaving L.A., we have this vivid demonstration of how it was the right thing to do or I'd be all dead and stuff right now. Jeez, the scene in the Kubrick Lolita where they're setting up the folding bed made me laugh myself into a wheezy coughing fit last night. I mean, I'm not 100% even now. And that scene isn't even all that funny.

Watch here.

Via Jeff Greenstein on Twitter.

What is with me and footnotes, I ask you? Must! Attribute! Properly! I will be lecturing a class TOMORROW on proper attribution so I guess that's the deal right there.

Vimeo is the only video source I can watch on this connection. I wonder why?

I love that city and I'm very sad that one day it's going to burn down entirely, probably with everyone stuck in it due to gridlock. I am so sorry, Los Angeles. It's just inevitable, like floods in New Orleans: fire is going to get you one of these days. I suggest personal moats and maybe a helicopter on the roof that will take you to a boat on the ocean, or at least Catalina.

Also: I spilled a small quantity of oatmeal on the floor. The cat ate it. That is so completely weird. Plain home-cooked oatmeal. Does that sound like a cat treat to you?

The Kubrick Lolita came on tv over at Stately Burns Manor. I'm sure I've seen it before, but I can't remember lots of it, or when, or where. Maybe I've only seen scenes? Very weird experience, only recognizing bits of a movie. And then I left in the middle anyway.

Fine, fine, I'll put it on my Netflix list. I have something called Rosemary and Thyme right now, which I think is a British cozy (or should I say cosy if it's British?) crime-solving show about two older ladies. One of them is a gardener and the other a fired academic, I think.

I do not know who is setting up my Netflix list but I really need to look at it more often. Like before it sends me things. I might totally love this show, who knows? I just checked and next up is The Avengers. Cool!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Water and water and salad and water

Outrageous buckets of rain! Wow. Also it's 50 degrees. You'll be both pleased and chagrined to hear that the places I caulked in the basement are not leaking, but everywhere I didn't caulk *is* leaking. Still, rivulets on an otherwise dry floor are manageable. Whereas the previous vile swamp was not.

The insulation battle is coming, oh yes it is.

Other water-based forms of entertainment today: washing the dishes, laundering.

I have an unreasonable prejudice against any verb that requires "do" to function, in German and French, too. Get out of here with your fachen and your faire. (I told you it was unreasonable.)

Okay, so the syllabus situation is pretty funny. The sample they gave us to copy for the 123 class turns out to be half fall and half spring. Isn't it good I didn't make it to campus in time to copy it yesterday? The 124 sample syllabus is MWF for my TTh class *and* for spring. It's no big deal, just a lot of work.

The funny part is that they were so completely adamant that every class we all teach must speak with the same voice and give a uniform message, blah blah blah, four hours of that, but when I asked for the TTh template other people were using, the answer was NO. Unequivocal no. "You'll just have to adapt it," they said.

Adamant micromanagers who throw you to the wolves give me pause, that's the thing.

I guess they were just shouting the party line and waving the flag but now they're all about the black market beluga and American jeans.

It's fine, I *expect* to have to wing it, but not usually after being told for four hours (did I mention the four hour thing?) that it has to be absolutely uniform.

I do not do well with mixed messages. AT ALL. It's a side effect of being kind of literal.

Like in the store yesterday when the cashier held up my purple cabbage and said, "What's this?" I said, "Purple cabbage," and then the boy bagging said, "It's called red cabbage, even though it's purple," and the cashier looked at me as if I'd betrayed her utterly, because it was like her second day on the job, so I apologized and said, "I'm very literal."

Oh, speaking of data, I did all the math, including just how deep in the hole I will be with each successive bill that I can't pay, and discovered that the quantity I'm short is just about exactly the same as the year. So all I need to do is get a job that pays about $500/week for the next month while I'm teaching full time and I'm golden, or at least not hosed.

Somehow I am not entirely certain that's going to happen.

But I really like my spreadsheet. So much data! So usefully arranged! I love Excel. One of the things I'm really good at with Excel is making information easily accessible and visual, so you don't have to hunt around and try to figure out what's what. You just look at it and get it right away. KXEC used to praise that skill often and of course Suit Boss was astounded and agog.

I overheard the brand new cashier and her supervisor going back and forth about how the manager kept trying to make them all come in for extra shifts, so it might be time to put in a new application at the ol' grocery store, what with how the old one has my old house number AND old cell phone number. I think as long as I don't get covered with industrial cake mix on a daily basis, I would be okay there. Maybe if I can get that plus the book sales plus some strategic non-payment of bills, I won't get expelled from the universe for utter suckitude.

I was thinking about how I'm not good at life the other day and trying to break that down into its components, because "life" is kind of a large thing and I have many skills. They just don't add up to survival or socialization or success in any meaningful sense. And what I figured out is that I'm not good at NUMBERS. Which we knew. But stay with me! That means I don't know how much things cost or how much I need to earn. I can't predict what the bills will be even though they don't change. I am also terrible at knowing the calories in food or how much exercise it takes to burn them off.

Really I think almost everything that is not working right in my life boils down to NUMBERS.

But since I'm very good at programming Excel to manage the numbers for me, I think Excel is the solution, don't you? Yeah! I already have my lovely budget spreadsheet inspired by Laurie's, and I always used to keep one for food math. I mean I guess I can do food math in the sense that I grasp that if I eat nothing whatsoever or alternatively a whole cake, that might be bad, but I just don't have any instinct at all for the rest of it. (No, really? says the mirror.)

Let Excel do it! That's my solution.

Now I have to work at chipping away at that number that is like the year and see if I can make it go back in time. I thought of having a yard sale but then the giant deluge came down. Boy oh boy is it raining out there!

I have a plan about that, too. I'm going to take the ice chopper and cut a channel to drain the driveway and that low place in the front yard to somewhere other than the basement. Brilliant! Otherwise it's going to be a skating rink this winter.

After the syllabus is done. We get some kind of Columbus day break, isn't that weird? Two days off. I finally figured out it's because there's three days off at Thanksgiving and they need it to make the semester come out even.

Man, you know what I love so much it's a little frightening? Greek salad! I made one for lunch and just about swooned with happiness. I can't be bothered with most salads, mostly because I think dressings are utterly disgusting and avoid them whenever possible. YUCK. Take your dressings and your helper verbs and scram! Of course without dressings, salads are not so good. HENCE THE PROBLEM. But Greek salad kind of creates its own flavors with the briny olives (no preservatives!)(plus you get to say "briny" which is fun)(even though they're "brined" but shhhh) and the little bits of feta and a little splash of olive oil.

It's something about pouring that salad dressing goop on a salad that makes me shudder. I think it's a viscosity issue. They're all within just the wrong viscosity range for me to cope with. Brrrr, ick. And if there are hard-boiled eggs involved in any way whatsoever, I'm out of there. (If I have ever sat peacefully while you ate food involving eggs or hard-boiled eggs, just know that I must like you very much! For you are awesome, clearly.)

At least I finally got over the problem with forks and lettuce. The sound of forks crunching into lettuce used to be like fingernails on the chalkboard for me. I would always eat salad with chopsticks or my fingers. (Another reason to avoid dressings. As if you need one!)

"My, what a lot of salad-related issues you have, you crazy thing!" I hear you chorus.

Hey, I eat alone. Who the hell cares? I can eat salad while standing on my head and whistling Dixie if I so choose.

Anyway. Rain! Greek salad! Crazy contradictory English department rules! Alarming use of the year! Water water water! This spot (my desk) is going to be so very perfect for watching the snow come down this winter. Plus this room is the best heated. Maybe I'll pack snow onto the deck steps and make a luge run down into the meadow! Yeah!

I am definitely going to need a sled.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A quiz!

What would cause the baseline anxiety queen of the universe to wig out?

a) starting a new job
b) being broke already
c) working full time and not getting paid for it for two entire months
d) the usual frustrations with a new school, i.e. new email/other systems
e) applying for part time additional jobs for 1.5 months without getting one
f) all of the above

Yes! You are right! It's F.

You can add in a bunch of hat orders but I think they balance out as they add stress but then pay money which reduces stress.

I just ate the world's best tomato. And where did I get it? Off my very own tomato plant growing on the deck! YUM! It was seriously outrageously good, sliced up on a blue plate with a little of that light Miracle Whip deliciousness. Mmmmmmm.

Today was just a wee bit stressful. I got my MWF syllabus done last night when it became clear I couldn't do both. That's because they gave me a MWF template for the TTh class. Converting three meetings per week --> two meetings per week for 14 weeks = takes a long time.

Is it possible I'm the first person ever to teach this *team-taught* class (i.e. identical for everyone) TTh? No. Impossible. But the department won't give me a TTh syllabus template. I asked.

ANYWAY.

So here is what I did today more or less simultaneously for eight hours, from my desk:

1. Got the IT people to set me up with a login and password for email and also for the Everything Else system, where you get your classroom locations (aha!) and submit grades and all.

2. Converted the MWF syllabus to TTh. Sort of. Partially. I have work to do.

3. Called the landline phone company to find out what the deal is with my free long distance. (Answer: they write the bill cryptically but it really is free.)

4. Called the cell phone company to make them change my L.A. phone number to a Maine phone number. That took 1.5 hours at least. NO JOKE. Why? Well, as you know, Bob, there is no coverage at my house. But now I have a cell phone that thinks I live in Ellsworth, where there IS coverage. (Ellsworth is very nice.) Also I re-upped and now I get a new phone with a slidy keyboard thing. Ooh!

5. Called all the book buying places in a 6 hour radius. The upshot is: they're not really buying, because of how the economy is in the toilet. The Cambridge guy explained the whole building rental/inventory math to me, which made my eyes go all spiraly.

6. Sold three boxes of books to Powell's for not as much as I'd hoped. Also I don't get the money until the books arrive and they Paypal it to me. They pay shipping, though, how cool is that? So it turned out that was by far the cheapest option, as it didn't involve ten hours of driving during Ted Kennedy's memorial service. (A factor. Truly.)

7. Went to the post office to ship the boxes.

8. Deposited that mysterious check for $24.09 in the bank.

9. Bought some vegetation to eat. I love the vegetation!

10. Watered the tomatoes and yet again left the hose draped around the place like a dang hillbilly, but then again, I don't have one of those things where you can coil it and hang it up. It's neater snaking around the house than in a heap in the raised bed garden. NOT THAT I'M DEFENSIVE OR ANYTHING.

11. Called up Mainecare to see if I can get some goldang health insurance one of these days because students are revolting little germ mongers. I was like, "Do you want me to spell Orrington?" because every single person today made me spell Orrington, and the nice lady said, "Oh no no no. We know all about Orrington." Hey! I mean, Oh. (This town is po with a capital p. And so am I! How appropriate.)

12. Went for a walk. Because my old friend and I have been badmintoning back and forth about now Not Eating Right and also Not Exercising are essentially self-destructive acts just as much as drinking too much or driving into telephone poles might be. I love the walk because it's a cranky converter. Start out cranky, end totally not cranky. (Almost always. It's not foolproof.)

13. Cleaned some vile things out of the fridge. It's symbolic or something, I don't know.

14. Ate a fabulously delicious tomato.

What an absurdly busy day, huh?

My bookshelves are all depleted and askew, because I actually pulled *six* boxes of books to sell. But Powell's, they have you enter all the ISBNs and then they tell you whether they want them. They didn't want the other three boxes' worth. I'm not sure if I should put them back or what.

Empty shelvage would be good because the whole top of the bookcases is covered with things that would be less alarming down on shelves. And less likely to fall on my head, should the urge to do aerobics enter that same head.

I mean, it's already really nice to have the library books ON a shelf instead of piled on top of other things.

It's cold again! It's 55 out and not quite 70 in. It's cold enough inside that my feet are starting to complain, and I'm wearing socks. Yoicks! Insulation would be a good thing to have down under those floorboards. That's the one call I didn't make: notorious slumlord. Bleah.

Maybe it's a good night to knit hats and not think about things like all that crazy stuff I did today, right? I'm all pleased because someone bought an acrylic hat, which means I already have the yarn for it.

One thing I really want to do is lay out all the various numbers and see exactly how much I'm short. I find that a solid number is way less stressful than a sort of panicky nebulous OH OH OH ACK WHAT AM I GONNA DO IT IS PANIC TIME WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE kind of thing.

How much do I need? I will find out exactly. It seems like something you'd just know but I haven't lived here long enough to know what the bills are and when they come yet, see? Anyway I learned this method of attack from Crazy Aunt Purl so you know it's good.

Oooh, yay, math. Whoopee.

Meanwhile I am thinking up creative ways to fix the drunken mailbox. I have plans! That's the kind of project planning I actually enjoy. That and hats. Mmmm, hats.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Learning to talk

That little niece of mine is really learning to talk. She knows vital things now that she didn't know, oh, Saturday, like: "What's that?"

"What's that?" is very fun, especially when she's sitting on my lap at the computer, looking at pictures of Siegfried the Cat, because there are odd items on my desk.

"What's that?"
"That's a saber tooth tiger tooth," I say, and hand it to her.
"What's that?"
"That's a salt shaker."
"Who's that?"
"That's Lee Adama," I say, handing her my Apollo action figure.
"Lee Adama," she says, and makes his arms go up and down.

And so on.

She totally trashed the house but had so much fun exploring and looking at everything, it was completely worth it. Oh, we also went outside and made lots of bubbles, but I think she had more fun with the house.

The toy trunk was an excellent source of mess. She'll pull out an action figure and say, "Who's that?" "Han Solo," my brother and I say in unison, and the thing is? Next time SHE'LL KNOW.

Mostly she enjoyed playing with all the various mouse and ball based cat toys and also kicking all the soccer balls around the house, including that one I got to paint black and red because it's clearly a Pyramid ball, but I got the blue one so I can't. Woe, when obsessions conflict!

She's also saying MANY full sentences now and coming up with new ones on the fly. Like, "Where's the kitty? Where are you, kitty? He's sleeping. He's taking a nap. He's sleeping under the sink. Come out, kitty!"

Which okay to you does not sound major but she was not doing that, as I say, on Saturday.

I did coax kitty out and held him so she could see him and pet him a little. That cat hates to be held but this time he insisted on NOT being put down where the small human could get at him.

She called for the Elmo bird, which is a stuffed toy cardinal with a mohawk. Elmo-themed, sure, with that red plush fur.

Anyway that was totally fun.

I went to campus and signed my contracts--woohoo!!!--but before that I read them very carefully. There's a clause saying that the contract is dependent on enrollment, so if there are fewer than seven students in the class, you get paid by the student instead of as usual. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I got galactically hosed by University of Pennsylvania this way. Also it's deeply unfair as you do exactly as much prep for seven as for twenty-two. Less grading, but that's a small proportion of the labor involved. Prep is everything.

Anyway two of my courses are full at twenty-two and one has nine, but they all move around a lot so I'm guessing the one with nine (which was just added) will fill up and the others might drop a little.

So I signed.

Ugh, the first pay date turns out to be October 30th, which even someone as mathematically challenged as I am can tell you is more than halfway into the 14-week semester that starts August 31st.

Anyway. I have to figure things out, about all that. Off the air.

Speaking of mathematically challenged, I refused to pay the $7 they were asking for a one gallon gas can (don't be ridiculous) so I'm going to mix the gas and oil in the weed whacker's tank. Or else in a yogurt container and use one of my startlingly many oil/gas funnels to put it in there. It just requires measuring carefully, which I *am* good at, and the manual does the math for you, since they figured (correctly) that not everyone is going to shell out for a whole nother gas can.

You know, I read a linguist saying definitively that words are never broken internally except by cuss words. As in absofrakkinglutely. And try as I might, I could not think of a counter example until this very second. Surely a whole nother is a word that's broken internally but a non cuss word? Especially since it's not broken in the appropriate place, an/other.

King of the lab.

Wellllll...you could argue it's broken apart and stays broken, and isn't one word like absofrakkinglutely, so it doesn't fit the pattern. And you'd probably be right. It's not awholenother, after all.

Abdication in the lab!

I hope the groundhogs don't mind if I chop a path out there. I tried to stomp a path but it's impossible. Honestly I think they'll use it, like every creature on the planet does at the EF, which makes walking the dog dicey because he'll suddenly catch sight of some animal using the path and take off like a shot after it. But you really can't do much walking in waist-high weeds. It feels like there might be lions out there this way.

Oh! Belay that path cutting. I have to make up a syllabus or two or three tonight and take them in to get copied tomorrow. Blooming 'eck! Fortunately we're required to use their templates so it's mostly of a matter of typing my name and hitting print. Heh.

That little Julia, she has an excellent kick already. Must take her to a soccer game one of these days! You know I almost went to watch today but they were doing those goofy kick-walk stretches across the field and though I find that outrageously funny, it's not actually enjoyable the way scrimmage practice is. Plus, going to watch them play is reasonable. Going to watch when they're stretching is just odd.

Hat two is finished except an ear flap. One to go. And someone just bought another one. I'ma need more yellow yarn, forsooth, dagnabbit. Plus, quilt has to wait, which is irksome as I wanted it done before school starts.

No way!

This morning I got an email from HR apologizing for being an unprintable so and so (wow!) and also saying my contracts are ready and I can come in and sign them or she'll mail them to me today. And also I got A RAISE. To the higher amount that I'd been told was a virtual certainty by the chair, way back in June or whenever.

WOW.

That is just frelling AWESOME!!!

My brother and the baby are coming over any minute now or I'd go immediately, even in my very ratty ancient Oberlin sweatshirt. Well. I might change. It is so very ratty.

It's funny to be in a group getting trained, like yesterday, because there are a lot of nursing instructors and they are so terrifyingly together and sharp-dressed and just ON IT in every possible way. You can tell their very hair is staying in place out of fear. I adore them! And there was a wiry bald Army guy in the full pixelated camo outfit! But with those tan boots, thankfully, or I'd have thought Battlestar things. The tan boots somehow make them very Earth-based.

I like that it's kind of a trade school sort of place. I like that their soccer team is kind of terrible. I like that the campus is laid out on a giant circle and everything important (building where I teach, soccer field) is inside it.

Just in case you think I'm all negativity all the time.

I woke up at 6:30 this morning all full of worries and trying to figure everything out and of course came to the conclusion it's daft to cut off my nose to spite my face and of course I'll stick with the school anyway and of course I'll just have to find something else in addition, say four hours a day, which I wanted to do anyway.

Honestly it's the delay in pay that's wigging me out the most.

Dude, it got cold overnight! It was 62 in my bedroom with the windows shut! Good thing I got out my lovely big puffy comforter with the blue cover last night. Mmmmmmm, I love that thing.

The low tonight is predicted to be 43! That's a four and a three! For perspective in Celsius lands, that is 6 degrees.

Wow.

I think I hear the babymobile. Later, bunnies!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oops

Do not under any circumstances watch the Bones episode The Finger in the Nest. I forgot it was the dog episode until far too late, when they had already totally killed me dead. Thanks a lot, supposed escape material!

Oh oh oh oh oh. What a terrible day. Maybe tomorrow will present some kind of options or ideas or something. Criminy.

Dear oh dear

Training session today for a computer system I can't access because I don't have a login because I don't have a contract. Which means no access to my class rosters, or even--I can't quite believe this--WHERE my courses are meeting.

I have no way to find out where my classes meet.

Of course I can call the registrar's office or something, but if you think I can get through on the first day of classes, you haven't been near a university in a while.

I went many rounds on campus today. HR, trying to get my contract. Nope. But I did find out that despite my chair's assurances that she could almost definitely get me the higher rate, I got the lower rate.

Hey, it's only a thousand dollars.

A positive person would say: yes but you have three courses instead of two. Shhh. I am in a very bad mood here and not interested in your wacky positive spin!

Right, so HR says nope, no dice, can't help you, sorry, get lost. I go to the training. They say nope, can't do anything without that contract. I go to English. The departmental secretary is gone. But! The dean is there, because his office is there. The dean, who wears suspenders and told us that he would drive a truck over any student who interfered with another student's education, told me he *thought* maybe he signed my contract this morning but he wasn't sure, and basically to get lost until it shows up in the mail.

What is the fuss? Well might you ask.

The reason some of us did not get contracts until now is that they put us last on the list of adjuncts and were waiting to see if enrollment merited hiring us. Yes. I am not kidding. No contract, NO JOB. Without a contract, they have no obligation whatsoever to have us do anything or pay us.

In fact, even if we start teaching the classes, without a contract, they can pull us out and STILL not pay us a dime.

Which is why I'm so very hesitant to do any work until I get my hands on this thing.

HR said, and I quote, "It should go in the mail in the next day or two."

Jody and Jane and I are all in the same boat and equally frantic. It's perfectly possible I will not have a job on Monday. If they're waiting this long on the contracts, it's because they're not sure about the enrollment--people haven't paid their tuition yet.

How little is the pay? Well. You know I worked as a temp this summer for not very much per hour. Double digits but not very far into the double digits, put it that way. I'll be taking home about half that, after taxes.

So even once I finally do get paid AT ALL which is probably October 19th, though that may be the date they *mail* the checks, after two months I'll have about what I earned per month as a temp.

Every time I go to campus I just get angrier and angrier.

Of course, I don't have a contract. I could walk away. I WOULD walk away if I had any other job. I would walk away for a temp job--I'd net the same amount in two months. It's kind of tempting to go to a nanny agency or something. I would get paid easily ten times as much.

Holy cripes. Now you know why I'm a basket case recently.

I also kind of don't believe her about spring semester anymore, either. Would you?

I HATE that they kept all this information back until now--because if I'd known, I never would have taken the job. Which is why they kept it back. Which makes me hate them even more.

Okay! A positive thing. I was in such a stew, I walked over to the soccer field in the middle of campus and watched the girls' team practice and knitted frantically on my hat. I was the only one in the stands. Coach came over to see who I was and when he saw he didn't know me, he said, "You gonna do the wave?" So I did the wave by myself, hee! That was awesome.

The team is pretty bad. They don't even pass *to* anyone. I don't mean they miss. I mean, they don't even look to see who's there and aim at them. They kind of just get rid of the ball in the general direction of a clump of people.

At least they play on the ground, though, instead of that awful long sky pass thing some teams do.

There were a couple of good players, one medium height one with amazingly fast feet and excellent ball handling, and a tall one with a red ponytail who was absolutely fearless and charged in wherever she needed to go. She also took a ball to the face and shook it off, though I could see it hit her on the nose. She did that awesome thing where she touched her nose, looked to see if there was blood (because then you have to leave the field--medical rules) and then just kept playing. Yay!

Overall I'd say they need to pass TO someone, work on committing to their charges, stop being afraid of bumping into each other, and in certain cases, stop running with those little flailing fists up in the air the way some girls do. Why would anyone do that? Don't they know that half your strength in running comes from your upper body? Plus it's SOCCER. You can't use your hands for anything else.

Anyway that's my day. Sucked in a fairly cosmic way except the interaction with Coach made me happy. Which is fairly typical of my university experiences as an adjunct.

Kitty and I just ate this smoked salmon dated 8-5 so if we croak, now you know why. I kind of forgot about it in the cheese drawer, because I don't have cheese, so why would I look in there? It was for the smorgasbord of celebration. Today it was the smorgasbord of DOOM.

Seriously, I do not know what to do. As things stand, I won't pay a single bill from now until the end of October except September's rent, and I won't pay October's rent. WHILE WORKING FULL TIME. Sheesh.

I have to figure out what to do.

At least there's soccer, right? The women's team has their first game on Tuesday. Good luck! I'll be there!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fritos

Emergency run to get Fritos to accompany my chili--they have Fritos at Bob's Misspelled Shop of Snacks, the nearest store!--and when I came home in the dark twilight, two big eyes reflected back at me from the tall weeds on the other side of the house, by the apple trees. Aaaaaaaah! So I put on the high beams to see who it was and it was a deer.

Anticlimax! Cute nose, though. Big black nose! And cute giant bunny ears.

It's perfectly possible that the bed/nest behind the fern brake was made by a deer instead of a bear, of course. But that doesn't explain the bear poop in the yard. Nor the giant footprints going off into the field. Deer have easily recognizable hooves and don't leave big mushed down footprints.

Of course there's no reason you can't have deer AND bear AND coyotes AND lawn otters AND turkeys AND bald eagles AND ospreys AND bats AND snakes simultaneously. And at the same time.

Also today I suddenly realized that of course the bats are probably mostly living in my chimney, which is not attached to anything but a stovepipe full of insulation in my living room. Which we're supposed to fix one of these days. A disused chimney is probably ideal for bats. I like that idea.

There really isn't any way into the garage, though, except the ash door, which is metal and also closed.

Fritos are salty. And oh so delicious. No preservatives!

I have plans to find someone with a cider press and make some cider out of those apples this fall. And possibly an absolute bathtub of applesauce, which I have an extreme love for. It's true, applesauce is my secret passion. Who knew? No one! Because of the secrecy!

Okay, back to the hat factory. Also Halloween is coming, which is the busiest Jayne hat time of the year, where every tall Browncoat dude with a goatee and an Army jacket decides to dress up as Jayne Cobb. Must stock up! Knit knit knit!

Plus this yarn is so luscious and soft, I always forget how much I enjoy just working with it. And they pay me to do this, can you imagine? Whoa.

Why, no, I haven't had a glass of wine, but now that you mention it, that sounds good. What vintage goes well with Fritos?

Not that I'm done

But I got a whole lot of yard work done today. I even pulled up most of the baby maple trees that were growing in the raised beds in front of the house. Felt like a murderer, but they obviously can't grow there.

I realized right exactly now that of course I overdid it out there AGAIN. And here I thought I was being so circumspect, taking a break in the middle for headache-banishing iced tea! Oh well.

Though I did get the quilt top half ironed while waiting for those dang pictures to upload for the third time, after they crashed the first two. SERIOUSLY. I am out of patience with this internet sometimes.

And I ran out of patience with this one person who never keeps in touch, but then emails every few months all full of drama and apologies and oh yeah massive criticisms of me, then disappears again, doesn't respond to any emails, then does it all over again a few months later.

Yeah, I lost patience with that when the latest big gushy apologetic critical missive came.

The thing is, you keep in touch with people. Or you don't. If you don't, you probably don't want to. I kind of don't believe people who say, "I wanted to email you but....!" Really? Just do it. Type type type. Or just DON'T do it. Yoda was right. There is no try.

I get sick of hearing about nothing but the non-emailing in the emailing that actually IS going on. It's like the blog posts about not writing in a long time. Shut up! I mean, that's like not having either one. I hate it.

Plus! This is the thing. The whole gushing apology thing is (with this person) some kind of weird manipulation, because if I say what I just said--you know, can we just be friends without all this blah blah, email or don't, there is no try--she gets all mad and hurt and suddenly I'm the villain and she's snuffling and injured and apologizing again and it's just gross. I don't know why these people seek me out.

So as she was trying to start this up again for about the fourth time, I couldn't take it anymore and told her to frak off. Basically.

SO SICK OF THE DRAMA!!!

Where is the fun stuff, right? Just talking! Yay! Conversation! All that meta-drama is just not even something I want in my life.

Because I...meaningful pause...am a midwesterner. Dun dun!

If I had done what much smarter and more socially intelligent people I know would have done, I'd have just cut her off and frozen her out. Don't feed the troll! Ignore the jackass and it will go away!

Next time that's what I'll do.

Where is Jacob? He always has smart things to say about Bad Friends. Doesn't it make you want to write up all these terrible horrible no good very bad friends I've had and write a book (or even better, a tv show) called The Worst of Friends? Could be very wicked and fun! Like Veronica Mars, oh gosh I loved that show, until she went to college and they got obsessed with roofies and rape and it sucked.

Eagle! Eagle! Very high up! I see a bald eagle!

I cannot get over seeing bald eagles from my DESK. WOW.

Hee, I have to tell this story because it's exactly the kind of thing I would do: my brother was doing the crossword and had four spaces and then eagle, and said, "Hmm, some kind of eagle. Four letters." And I was like, "Bald?" And he said, "Oh!" Hee.

My specialty is to read words in crosswords very very wrongly. Like it could say McArthur and I'd read it, "M.C. Arthur" like M.C. Esher. Or M. Carthur. "Who's M. Carthur?" I'll say, and everything thinks I'm joking. BUT I'M NOT.

There's a scene in a movie I love whose name is escaping me where Beau Bridges is playing Scrabble and someone puts down "awe" and he gets all mad and yells, "Ah-way? Ah-way? What the hell kind of word is ah-way?" and kicks the board over.

Anyway that's me, totally.

I am looking up that movie for you. Because I care. It has something to do with a Cookie. Cookie's Fortune! FABULOUS MOVIE! Liv Tyler and Glenn Close and that blue-eyed boy who played Robin then was on Grey's Anatomy as a vet and Julianne Moore and that singer I always mix up with Billy Bragg, only he's from Texas and that fabulous heavyset older black guy with three names! I ADORE that movie.

Apparently yard work causes me to lose the ability to remember male actors' names. Except Beau Bridges. Isn't that odd? It'll probably turn out later it wasn't Beau Bridges at all.

I miss General Hammond. Sigh.

More yard work tomorrow: I have to go get another gas can so I can mix 2-stroke oil and gas for the giant scary weedwhacker, so I can, well, whack weeds. And also clear a path down into the field and into the woods. Want it! So much! The weeds are waist high and I am not thrilled about the possibility of stumbling--literally--over a bear. Or whatever else might be lurking in the weeds. Snakes, groundhogs, pheasants, turkeys, rodents of unusual size. I want to cut a loop for reasons having mainly to do with large furry obstacles that might be blocking one or the other route.

Should have taken pictures of the groundhog runs for you. The groundhog (or several?) have made these awesome little runs all through the weeds, about seven or eight inches wide. It looks really fun.

I planted the catnip and the mint. Jeez, I have been so horribly slack about that. Now I just have to deal with the inedible radishes and mustard that went to seed and then died. And cut those broken branches that keep whacking me in the hat. And maybe fill those holes where I rolled my ankle and fell today. Only three times. Never let go of the lawn mower, though!

Excellent day. I know the bad friend thing doesn't sound like excellence but it is such a relief to get that over with and out of my system. Not that I've been holding back--I speak my mind about these things or my brain explodes--but finally just making it STOP is a relief. And yard work, glorious! Yes. Excellent day.

Claws in stone, tomato, paradise

I figured out from the size that this is probably from a coyote, or a dog.

Lovely and prosaic, with sudden drama!



I figured out from the size and shape that this mark is probably from a coyote and not, for instance, a bear. Or mountain lion. Though it could be a lynx, I suppose. There are similar marks on the wood floor (ahem) where the cat got scared by thunder.

It appeared suddenly a few weeks ago. Not exactly something I could miss, as this is one of the two stepping stones to the garage door from the car and I always look down to avoid stepping on those four inch slugs. Swiss Army knife for scale. Elsadog bit it a lot, that's how it got those dents in it. She sure liked chewing on things. Much like Siegfried, the cat she raised, not coincidentally. MAN does he like biting things.

Ooh, and the scenario I imagined to explain claw marks in stone (not a usual occurrence) is that I probably pressed the button to close the garage door (which is open until about 10 at night, screen covering it) and scared the coyote the way closing the door scares the heck out of the cat every time. It's very loud, see.

Come to think of it, I could WD-40 that if I were so inclined.

Here's my beautiful tomato. If they don't come right off when you lift them a little, they're not ready, see.



Here's how gorgeous and lush and green it is here. Isn't it insane? SO BEAUTIFUL! I'm going to go mow that all down now. Not a contradiction, I swear.



Also I think that future babies might like this instead of the Quilts of Pain. But I'll try that two episodes or a movie moderation thing first. Blah blah blah moderation whatever!

Man, I really need some Fritos.

Also? While waiting for those pictures to upload (still going, by the way) I totally just got my first solo Phoenix course! YAY! Starts 9/29! Ends 11/2! Which still doesn't solve the October rent thing, nor the bills of September, because there is a time delay of what, two weeks after the start of the course until you get paid? (Yes, I checked--October 9th.) But it's a very good thing nonetheless.

I just LOVE that I found this message in my Phoenix email spam folder. Brilliant! Looks like they sent it just now.

Yay!

Boo. No contract in the mail. But I did get a mysterious check for $24.09 from a settlement against Kelly Services. I have not the slightest idea what this is about but it comes with W-2 forms and everything. How completely bizarre. But hey, $24.09! Last time I worked for Kelly was in Glendale, for Monster.com. Oh and that weird Dutch company where the crazy little Mexican farm woman hated my guts and got me fired with lies.

Must be some kind of class action suit. Huh! I wonder if it's against that crazy woman? Even the agency said, and this is a quote: "They fire people all the time." Though that didn't stop Kelly from blacklisting me, heh.

But of course Monster hired me as a proofreader on their own for a short term, without the agency, and Warner Brothers hired me on the basis of that, and that road led to the studio and KXEC and Lindsay and Anh and Eddie Liu and having lunch in Stars Apostrophe-Free Hollow and taking Brooke to see the General Lee and going to see the giant PIE and all of that outrageous awesomeness.

These checks, it's like getting royalties from past negativity, recently. Like dividends from badness. The residuals of that which was not good! I am all for it. Who knew that karma actually wrote checks? Who knew that payback wasn't just a metaphor but could be deposited in the bank?

It's been a very weird day already. Hey! It's after 2:00. Let's go mow! I checked my hat *very* thoroughly for bats before putting it on. ALL CLEAR.

What is this "enough" of which you speak?

Too much quilting again. I have giant boxing gloves with nails hammered into them for hands. Holy ungodly ow, I am not kidding, and all I did was pin things together and then sew them. And I only pinned the first few inches of each strip, in an act of unmitigated slackness designed to save me pain. It was NOT STRENUOUS.

My hands are getting worse, that's the upshot of that.

I suppose one day quilting will be off the menu. That sucks!

But oh oh oh the thing is so gorgeous! You have to do the cost/benefit analysis here to understand why I keep on doing it when every quilting stint causes 36 hours of pain.

All I did yesterday was take this:



And turn it into this:



I like the squares jogged. That's on purpose. Also I suck at making them come out even so why not shoot the moon? Exactly! It is VERY irritating that those three on the right came out even anyway, even though they're jogged at the top. Seriously.

Next it has to get pressed, which makes me turn my head 90 degrees and stare at the wall and make tense noises through my nose, because that is going to HURT. And then basting, ditto. And then quilting it, ditto. And then putting a binding on it, ditto.

Okay okay okay. Either I have to learn moderation (ahahahahahahaha!) or quit quilting. Tricky!

"How much moderation," you ask? "How long were you at it last night, you daft loon?"

Eight Bones episodes, okay? That's all!

Maybe I need to make a rule that I can only quilt for ONE EPISODE. Or two. Two episodes or a movie! And then stop!

You know what's totally fascinating? I didn't mind that thing with Zack and Gormogon nearly as much this time around. I still don't think it grows out of his character in any believable way. You will NEVER convince me there's a logical reason to kill and eat people when it's *secret*--maybe I could just barely accept that a crazy person might do it as a terrorizing method, but otherwise, no. It simply doesn't hold together.

But this time I could see that the story wasn't the point. It was the characters, the effect on the team, the sheer awesomeness of Zack getting taken away but still remaining. That look on Cam's face when they walk in and tell her. Also can I please look like Tamara Taylor if and when I'm reincarnated? Okay!

Oh, and the gory graphic burned hands are way more gory and graphic on the DVD, so be warned, broadcast watchers. I was all shrieking and shuddering and horrified. In broadcast you're like, "Oh no! Ow!" On the DVD you FEEL it.

Maybe watching extreme hand pain while causing myself extreme hand pain wasn't the best idea ever.

The DVDs confused me. The last one is labeled Bonus Materials but contains that double episode in England and I think two more. Is that a strike phenomenon or mislabeling?

Well.

Today I have to take lots of drugs to render my hands usable and then mow the grass, which should make everything much worse. Dear oh dear. Maybe the grass can wait. But it's so gorgeous out! I'm at least going for a walk. Don't try to stop me!

Here's something awesome: I was just kind of reading my email with one eye and my book with the other, eating my breakfast and wondering how to solve the paid-in-mid-October thing, thinking about whether the drive to Cambridge will actually net a profit or just wind up taking away my books for nothing, when this guy emailed and bought three Jayne hats.

I love that!

Now I have to knit two more hats, though. With my useless hands, though honestly knitting loosens them up and usually makes them feel better. Today it even hurts to type which is kind of new.

Osteoarthritis, man. When are they going to cure that? Hup hup, doctor types!

I will simply have to learn to use my Jedi powers to do things like mow the grass and weedwhack and lift smallish spaceships out of the swamp. No problem!

Let's hope my contract is out there in the mailbox so I can get some data and try to figure out a budget and all. Oh and I have to make up the syllabus for each course and read the books and that sort of thing too. I'm strangely reluctant without a contract. Maybe not so strangely. What the hell are they doing, leaving it so late? Maybe you haven't been an adjunct but you get contracts in MAY. Or I suppose July at the very very slackest latest possible point but you are not happy with those people and give them glowering looks from under the eyebrows.

Waiting until LESS THAN A WEEK BEFORE CLASSES START is absolutely unheard of. Un! Heard of! Because of the very practical reason that doing the prep takes time and no fool is going to do it without the contract.

Sheesh. Criminy. Jeez.

I'm going to mow the grass. The only question is: am I brave enough to wear my sun hat when the last time I touched it, it had a bat in it that was reluctant to let go and fly away? I have an overdeveloped sense of association, people. That hat bat is PERMANENT.

In exciting garden news: one of my cat litter bucket tomato plants on the deck has a red tomato that is probably ripe enough for lunch today! I thought it was yesterday, so of course I waited, because you have to be sure. There are a couple of other orangeish ones coming along. Oh boy!

Tomato sandwich on home-baked roll! YUM.

In other tomato-related news, yesterday's chili came out fantastic--I cooked down a bunch of boughten Roma tomatoes for it since canned tomatoes are verboten. It was the absolute best ever. Oh my giddy aunt.

Note to self: teach baby niece that phrase.

Hee hee hee, the book I got her for her birthday. Hee hee hee....will tell after the fact. Hee.

Read this and this

Read this and this.

But then I have to argue with Sarah's argument about character A and character B in The Demon's Lexicon. Because one of them is a deeply awesome person in complete control of his environment and the other is a wannabe who switches her affections from one brother to another brother and seems to toy with both of them and hurts at least one, yet somehow without any panache, which might excuse it.

Sarah claims we don't like the second one because she's a girl, but actually it's for the reasons I just stated. So there you go.

She's allowed to be a little myopic about her own characters, though. It's impossible to be objective there.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bat in the hat

Hmm. I just had to catch a bat in my hat--in the kitchen--and put it outside. That wasn't as impressive as it sounds, since the bat was lying on the floor all huddled up. Then I put it out on the porch and it wouldn't let go of my hat. Out! Out! And then it flew away.

I had just gotten off the phone with Didi who reminded me (when I mentioned the bats in the garage problem, or rather the cat/bats problem) about the first bat I caught, when it got in her room at college. That was kind of awesome because she's the mighty wildlife biologist and later on banded owls and things, but she kind of can't deal with hysterical animals in the house.

Which is reasonable. I've unfortunately dealt with WAY TOO MANY due to the cat factor.

Also she confirmed they are no doubt coming up the inside of the siding. They have to be. There's just no other way into that garage.

This is about the fourth bat that's gotten all the way into the kitchen this week, which is how many bats too many? Anyone? Anyone?

FOUR!

I will have to think about what to do about that. On the one hand, if there's a major bat colony living inside my siding, that's very cool. But on the other hand, I don't want my shotless cat getting rabies. See. Though it would be very hard for something so tiny to bite something as large and fluffy as my cat.

Still, I guess the garage is off limits after dark now. Sheesh.

It was kind of fabulous to be carrying a bat in a hat (on the classifieds--I don't want to get bitten either) through the house and have it complaining the whole time. Ch ch ch ch ch ch ch is what it said. And kind of vibrated. I love bats. It flew off perfectly happy so all's well in bat world.

OKAY. So I think I'm coming down on the side of a resident MFA instead of low-residency, basically for financial reasons. I went and emailed Jen about it and realized I'd kind of already decided. It's because in a resident program, they would pay me and I wouldn't pay tuition. Whereas low-residency I pay the tuition and they don't pay me. And there's insurance with a resident program too. I would like that very much, please!

I don't quite understand how Husson isn't requiring us to get flu shots and TB shots and all that. Every school I've ever taught at has required a whole batch of inoculations. Weird.

Didi, who is a triathlete and the Professor on Gilligan's Island, also confirmed that exercising after 2 p.m. is a very very bad idea. Some people have the exercise/sleep problem, turns out! And I am one of them! I had to explain how quilting is more vigorous than it sounds, which it really is--standing, lifting, cutting, crawling around the floor, blah blah blah. Much more vigorous than my usual evening regimen of sitting perfectly still in the comfy chair.

So now we know! I committed a perfect insomnia storm the other night and was duly rewarded.

It's hard for me to wrap my head around this but she pointed out that I used to get up in the morning and go running right away. That's true...but it was because my dog was a complete hyperactive maniac and would only NOT eat the whole house if I let her run and run and run and run in the fields north of campus. We would drive up there and she would race flat out like the greyhound on the bus, for miles, off leash. And I would run around the wood chip trails. She would loop back to check in and give me a panting dog smile on her way past me, tongue hanging out, then take off again.

Good girl!

See, that's my problem: nocturnal housepet! I totally blame the cat. And the bat in my hat. Am I ever going to get to sleep tonight after that?

Hee, when I see a bat in the kitchen, I go, "Oh, honey!" just like with coyotes. Awww.

Okay, I am afraid my laptop is a brick now. It hasn't started up for a couple of days, no matter what I do. Won't turn on. Isn't it good that the last thing I did on it was upload my book to its own website, along with all my notes? I know!

Might be time to call up my nephew and see what's what with my dad's blue laptop. Though I've been putting that off as long as possible. Nothing against my nephew, of course--he's a computer genius, that guy! he got into it through the password--but it's just like the car and the kayak, see. I'm just reluctant. Either you get that or you don't, right?

I went for a walk tonight and came back a little disappointed not to have seen any wildlife, not knowing what would grace my kitchen later. Hee. You know, a colony of bats in the siding would make excellent insulation. Nice and warm! Plus they eat mosquitoes, which is to be commended. And they don't chew stuff up like mice. Really I am all for bats, but they have to stay outside of my living area. Not negotiable.

20% less

In case you were lying distrait on your chaise longue like an Edward Gorey character, wondering whether you can substitute soy milk for cow milk in quiche, the answer is YES. Just use 20% less than the recipe calls for. I'm not sure exactly why but I suspect it has to do with the goopening or lack thereof.

I'm about to try freezing the rest of the soy milk in measured quantities. We'll see how that works. Doesn't it fractionate or something? Get de-emulsified? But since it's for cooking, will that matter?

The tension, people. The tension is killing me!

I have nothing really against cow milk but they don't sell those tetra packs of it here, so you can't keep it in the cupboard for when you need it, like soy milk. Absurd, huh? No reason for it.

Also just let me register right now that I really miss Trader Joe's. Where are my peculiar dried fruit combinations? Where are my anomalous chocolates? Where are my tetra packs of fabulous vegetarian soups that I can stack up like bricks in the cupboard and therefore feel to some extent buttressed against the unknown?

Yeah!

So I am guessing there's a Trader Joe's down in Portland or Boston or one of those places, don't you think? It is so good I can take the internet with me. I absolutely love that.

Today is the day of Doing Things. I mean, things where you get out of your chair. I'm even wearing shoes (my beloved black Sambas of course) which is so out of character, it's shocking. Shocking! I don't even wear shoes to walk down the gravel driveway to get the mail. Or take the compost over to the lawn otter feeding ground. Or examine the very large paw or hoofprints in the lawn.

So between laundry and cleaning and making quiche, chili, and rolls, I think I've actually got a SHORT STORY, stop the presses, hold the phone, hang on to your hats. I'm not sure but I think so. I have this big large epic story I've been working on forever and ever, see. I suddenly thought: I could tell self-contained bits of it.

I know, I tricked myself into writing a short story. Whatever it takes! Not that I think they're a vital part of this complete breakfast, but I think understanding how to make one will show me a lot of things about the shape of a story that I don't think I know right now.

Yep.

Back at it.

Kids Need To Read Foundation

Hey! Here's a fundraiser for a good cause, the Kids Need To Read Foundation. And it involves Jayne hats, people! I don't know how long that booth was open, but 12 hats in 3-4 days is a huge number, in my experience.

So check it out:

*****************************

The Jayne Hat Knit-a-Thon was held for the first time at Dragon*Con in 2008. Austin Browncoat Claudia took pledges on how many Jayne hats she could knit during the course of the con. She managed to knit an astonishing 12 hats during Austin Browncoats booth hours, and raised over $1000 for an amazing organization, The Kids Need to Read Foundation (KNTR).

At this year’s Dragon*Con, Claudia is going to be at it again! For those who will be unable to attend the con, you can make your pledge online here on this website. Join us in cheering Claudia on and see just how many Jayne hats can be knit at Dragon*Con? All proceeds will benefit KNTR.

If you can't pledge, please let all of your friends, family members and colleagues know about our fundraiser for KNTR. We hope to make a lot of kids happy with the books our money will be able to buy!

Thank you,
Elizabeth Nelson
Chairman - Austin Browncoats
A 501(c)3 Non -Profit Organization
www.austinbrowncoats.org

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sphagnum hummocks!

Say that out loud for me, please? Sphagnum hummocks!

It is all through a certain lake's entry in the Quiet Water of Maine book. Oh boy! Sphagnum hummocks! This book is so full of poetry I kept reading it out loud, but alas the audience was the sort of people who think it's funny to tease you about horrific things that happened in the past, like going up to someone freed from a concentration camp and going, "Ha ha, Nazis got you! You suck!" So it was kind of lost on them, alas. Some day I have to meet some people who don't think it's funny to use me as a punching bag. They have those, right?

There was also some kind of amazing thing I don't even understand, a colonial bryozoa. See, I don't even know what that means! But I read it about six times and I think it's some kind of tiny organism that forms a cooperative blob in water. The book said things like, "The colony looks like a jellied pineapple." And there are words I can't pronounce! Like zooid. Is that a zoo-id or a zoh-oh-id or a zoh-oid? I will look that up.

I don't like viciousness. Should a person even have to say that? Oh, sure, maybe they don't know what happened. NOBODY knows what happened. But when you know that saying X gets a person very upset and therefore you say it specifically to make that person upset....there are serious issues there that are far beyond anything I feel like dealing with.

Anyway the colonial bryozoa is exactly what I wanted for a book idea I have, one I've been thinking about for a long time. I started it once but the aliens were not finished baking in the oven of my brain. One thing I love about that Orson Scott Card book is that he insists this is the way things work out best. Ideas need to grow and change in your mind over time, especially if they don't feel quite ready to go yet. I definitely agree that you should wait for that structure to be right before you try to build the house. Which was a cake a minute ago. But never mind that!

Sphagnum hummocks! I think that might replace Didier Drogba as the password you have to say when I've barricaded the door against the zombies and you knock and I say, "Who's there?" and you say, "It's me!" and I say, "Prove it!" Then you say, "Sphagnum hummocks or maybe Didier Drogba!" because you suspect quite rightly that I might forget that I changed it. And then I let you in. Saved!

"Each zooid's ciliated tentacles filter out microscopic food particles; these tentacles retract at lightning speed into the protective ectocyst." That's poetic. Don't tell me you can't hear it. What delicious words!

Pectinatella is the name of the colonial bryozoa. What IS it? Is it an animal, I would guess from the -zoa? Isn't -zoa the plural of -zoan though, like protozoan? Then why is bryozoa singular, except if it's a group entity? I am just not a biologist. Another reason to call up Didi. I never did get around to calling last night, with all the manic quilting of insomnia causation.

It all makes me think of an exobiologist on a spaceship out by Saturn, finding a mass like a jellied pineapple attached to the hull, except now I'm also imagining some sadist who keeps teasing her about the concentration camp she got out of right before shipping out. Something BAD happens to that guy. Trust me on this one.

Don't try this at home

Kayaking, yay! Quilting marathon, yay!

I am never again allowed to do both in the same day, what with how I was awake absolutely all night long. I mean, the sun came up and it was light out and I was not asleep.

Very, very bad. Finally I got up at 6:30 and took a naproxen that expired in 2006. Where is my other bottle of ibuprofin? Since I just finished the bottle Bethany gave me in 2004. I think it disappeared from my desk at work, actually.

Does naproxen expire for real? I mean in a chemical sense? I am here to tell the tale.

I can't wrap my head around the fact that painkillers are the cure, since it's not quite *pain* but more like my arms and shoulders are AWAKE! And they want me to be awake too! Awake! Awake! And then they do the going numb thing that is so tedious and yet so perfectly designed to keep me AWAKE!

Jeez.

That really sucked. Then I slept until noon, which is still only 5 hours. Cue baby niece saying, "Maggie so tired!" Oh my golly she's going to be two in two weeks. That is still blowing my mind. Baby needs birthday books! That girl is crazy about books.

CAN YOU IMAGINE???

Staying up all night involuntarily wasn't a complete waste. I read Queen of Babble again and spent a lot of time wondering where I'd put my yard-long level. Where did that get to? I thought of a lot of places it could be, then checked them all. Nope. It was cool to see the sun rise, anyway. And the cat was just delighted to have another nocturnal mammal to talk to.

And of course before all the not sleeping I got all the quilt strips sewn and pressed. Rock!

I would do more today but I have book to write. Oh, that's the other thing. While lying there awake forever and ever, I figured out how to fix the beginning so it's more awful (for her) but doesn't have pathos. Man, I HATE pathos. Instead what happens sucks and you get mad, which is as it should be. Also I remembered it has to be funny, because this situation is inherently funny, even if it's the darkest, blackest humor around.

There's nothing better than horrific or scary or dangerous situations where things make you laugh. Oh my Battlestar!

Insomnia of the arms! So useful sometimes!

AND IN OTHER NEWS

My siblings and I are looking at all these pictures of our various paternal ancestors lately. Oh! I should send them to my cousin. Incoming!

I need to find my other cousin (uncle's daughter) one of these days and get in touch with her, and send all these along. I bet she has absolutely nothing like this from our mutual ancestors. Or, you know, maybe she has infinite founts of information, right? I think she lives in Utica....oh I found a picture online. Yay! I'll call directory information later, aka my mom, and see if I can get her number.

She's the one my height and build (except minus some upholstery) with the red hair. I know!



That's so weird. She has my shoulders. Nobody has my shoulders!

So the siblings and I are all curious about our grandfather, whom we never met and were told had died ages before he actually did, in the early 70s. We weren't allowed to mention him or anything because my dad was very sensitive about the subject. I don't know, it's not how I would have handled it, but whatever.

Point being, I couldn't have picked him out of a lineup until we got these pictures. And MY question of course is, do I look like I'm related to him? The thing about my family is I don't look like anyone except my dad and uncle, because we were never in touch with their side of the family. Apparently there's a whole flotilla of Catholic Burnses in Baltimore that I'm related to but have no idea how to find.

Wouldn't that be an amazing project? Oh boy! I definitely need to call up cousin Kathy.

What do you think? The guy in the back, in the center, the one who's laughing and looking at the photographer instead of off to the left as instructed. Oh, that's my grandmother sitting down there in the middle. That's her identical twin off to the side and *her* husband off to the other side.



Mostly he looks like young pictures of my dad to me. So. Hmm.

Guess what? My old college roommate, Leslie the flautist, is coming to visit her grandfather on Mt. Desert Island and wants me to go out and meet them there! How cool is that? Facebook has totally redeemed itself over the past six months. I shouldn't have blamed it for one Mr. Severn Augustus Clay behaving like a complete unmitigated premeditated JACKASS to me.

Leslie is awesome. I'm so excited! Plus I haven't been to Mt. Desert Island yet and now I have a cast iron excuse to scoot over there.

Oh my golly it's 2:00 and I have a book to write before the bunny visit. Hup hup! Go go go! Rah rah rah!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Go!

On a whim, I went kayaking. I know! But I had to go out anyway so I was already halfway there! In a manner of speaking. It's just, I woke up with no flaming lungs today, so I had to jump on the opportunity! It really was the bad air, wasn't it? Crazy.

Plus I left the cradle things on the roofrack and you know that's half of the time and effort of going kayaking anyway, putting those suckers on. I just hate how user-unfriendly they are. Eight plastic wingnuts in the most unreachable positions, underneath and behind things. Ugh! I hear they get stolen a lot though, so I can't leave them on when I'm going places where I leave the car alone. Like work.

Unfortunately the whole drive down the radio kept going BAAAAAAAAAMP and giving me alarming reports of tornadoes and scary weather and penny sized hail. Isn't hail supposed to be done either by fruit or by sports equipment? What is with these pennies? Say grapes. Small grapes. Grape tomatoes!

The silly thing is, the storm was way the heck over on the border between Maine and New Hampshire and moving 30 mph. Do you know how long it would take to get here at that speed? Like, four hours, minimum. So there was no reason for me not to kayak.

So I did. Under ominous purple skies and all. And it was so very awesome! The osprey we saw from a distance last time came RIGHT OVER ME and said kiiii kiii kiiiii as they do--birds of prey have high screamy yells--and I saw a beaver lodge and of course many loons that stuck just their heads out of the lake and looked at me then ignored me. And those brown ducks at the launch who sat there until I floated nearly on top of them, and then they paddled away all disgruntled.

I love disgruntled ducks. I love the grumpy little duck noises they make. Plus they're so serious but they're waddling or paddling away and looking adorable and absurd.

Oh oh oh, the osprey. It flew about twenty feet over my head and landed in a tree, then decided it didn't like the looks of me and flew away again. They are so freaking huge. I love ospreys! Way more than eagles. Sorry, eagles!

Also this time I saw its (their?) nest on the power line pylon thing. My brother saw it last time but I wasn't looking. Those nests are the size of papasan chairs, yowza.

Anyway I brought a poncho just in case, but I was fine, though it did start misting on me on my way back. In fact it was misting down so hard that it was very difficult to see exactly where to go. But, I mean, it's a lake. It's not like you can get lost. It's self-limiting.

On the way back I saw a dad and son catch a big fish, which was pretty awesome too.

Man oh man I love that kayak. It's just so amazing to put it on the edge of the lake, step into it and glide off so smoothly and easily. It's such a pleasure, the way it moves. Even with the waves slopping over the edge like they were today. So warm, though! That lake is really warm.

Well, I just realized I ought to get in the shower before the storm hits here, because if the power goes out, so does the pump for the well, which means: no water pressure.

They keep talking about 60 mph winds and whatnot, so I brought in various jetsam and little plants and hanging things. Maybe I should bring in the tomatoes, too. Silly not to, when they might end up in the next county. Which, okay, is not very far away.

The official weather warning guy kept giving the most ominous directions for what to do in a tornado, if you're in a car do this, if you're in a mobile home do this, if you have a basement get in it, if you don't, do this, all of which feels pretty silly when you've lived in the midwest for a bunch of years and it's second nature. I mean you spend a lot of time in the hallway of the elementary school, crouched on the floor by the lockers, with your teacher reading The Hobbit out loud. But I guess tornadoes are pretty rare in Maine. Another reason to love it!

So beautiful here. I already don't notice it as much as I should, with the giant trees right outside my office and the moose (it had to be, right?) saying WHUFF right outside my bedroom window at night. I feel like it sniffed and then said WHUFF dismissively. Do you think?

Right, hurry up, shower, popcorn, check! Then I have to call Didi because that's what you do in a thunderstorm. Except the phone is cordless so it won't work if the power goes out either. Whoops!

I object!

I do, I object. I want to kick my chair over and stand up and pound on the table and then the judge will bang her gavel (she is an older black woman, because this is so tv) and call for order in the court.

It's Victoria's Secret. I've been involved in a wrangle lasting many weeks that would have taken ten minutes tops if they carried my stuff in the stores, but noooooo. So I have to order it, wait for it, try it, return it. Repeat multiple times. (Probably a smarter person would have ordered a bunch of things at once. I just thought of that right now. DUH.)

Anyway that's just annoying. The unsupportable part (heh) is the catalog they send with every new batch of stuff.

On the cover is this girl in, of course, her underwear. But also with a sweatshirt that's only on her forearms, mittens, a fishing pole, and a ratty old fishing hat. And SUSPENDERS holding up her minuscule undies as if they are waders. Undies that say "shut up and kiss me."

The suspenders broke my brain. What did they do, sew buttons on the undies to attach them? I can't even wrap my head around this.

Anyway. Sustained! Moving on.

Mark Stern left the state so now we're back to rain and clouds and 90% humidity. Come back, Mark Stern! You brought us L.A. weather for the duration of your visit! It made a nice change!

Was it cooler and less dry there in L.A. while he was here? Because if so, we are definitely on to something.

He wouldn't remember me, I'm sure, but Peggy Sue introduced us that one day when I met everyone. That day still feels like something I made up. Oh boy that was fun! Except for all the jabs from Lucy Lawless's very pointy elbows. Hey, that would be a good candidate for the Roald Dahl school of writing down things that actually happened, wouldn't it? I seem to recall my account was a little wild-eyed.

I'm working on writing about writing over at Story on the Brain because that makes me happy and is, er, interesting, whereas blather about how I was almost asleep when a very large animal went WHUFF right outside my bedroom window, and I mean that is eight feet or more off the ground, so that was a moose, right? and then stomped off noisily through the brush in the meadow, so I was awake just forever and ever and finally fell asleep and dreamed I was in a Harry Potter movie and woke up with the biggest splitting headache ever.... That is maybe not so much a riveting tale of pain and woe.

What's with all the headaches lately, though? Is it still fallout from that galactic cranium whacking of Monday, or whenever that was? Is there something in there that shouldn't be? That would be bad. It still hurts like a mother. Maybe it's all the major weather changes. Thanks a lot, Mark Stern!

Okay, so, yesterday I wrote a whole giant batch of book and I am VERY VERY pleased about that. I'm doing all my usual things wrong, of course. Understatement is the worst. Would you have predicted that was a writing flaw of mine? Well, it is. I'm a criminal understater in third person. I'm not entirely sure I know how to write at all in third person, though I think I've got it pretty well in first person. Blah! In third I go back and look at it later and think, "Oh, that's nice, except I left out everything important because I didn't want to bonk you over the head with it."

Must learn to bonk you over the head with it! Okay!

But I'm still extremely happy with what I wrote. You can't fix it until you do it in the first place. I mean, criminy.

Essentially everything turned out awesome and great except you have not the slightest idea what the main character is thinking or feeling about anything, or what motivates her, or what she wants or plans or is going to do.

Like I said, it's not perfect. Heh.

I was always trained that (this was some screenwriters who had left Hollywood and were teaching at Penn State, for perspective, which I have now but did not have then) you're not supposed to SAY any of that stuff. You should be able to tell everything from what they do and say.

That is wrong. I've been fighting that training ever since. Ask my patient and long-suffering readers and mentor type people. It's like Soviet bread line sparseness. See, that writing wouldn't even contain something like Soviet bread line sparseness because that's too vivid.

Which is why I still think this blog is the cure. Ahhhh.

Basically I have to learn how to write people such that you know what they're all about.

Nothing BIG or anything. Ahahahahahahahahaha. I cry now.

Oh well, you can't fix it if you don't know what's wrong. It's easy enough to think of exercises for working on this. It's not that I don't know how to do it. It's that I scrupulously avoid doing it.

I was taught to put two spaces between sentences, too, and learned not to do that. I learned to type with the Dvorak keyboard. Surely I'm trainable?

I need to go run some errands and feast my eyes on other people and places. Gosh, I haven't been out since Tuesday again and am in danger of becoming a scary recluse. This is why I wanted teaching to be 5 days a week! Still haven't seen that contract yet, by the way. Hmmmmmmmm.

But I'm awfully psyched to be on the faculty at University of Phoenix. It only took a year. Husson hired me during the interview, for comparison. Sheesh!

Passed!

Oh holy sigh of relief, I passed the Phoenix mentorship phase and am now part of the faculty, yo!

That is SUPER AWESOME!

Now I just have to check the site every day for solicitations for future courses. Woohoo! Let's hope I get one soon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oh hi

Is this thing on? [tap tap]

Hijole! I'm all ailing in a mysterious manner. It's nothing dramatic, just can't breathe with all flaming lungs and don't even have the energy you'd normally expect to find in a roasted eggplant.

Today, for instance, I spackled some nail holes left by the previous tenant, moved the blue dog butts that support my bow up a foot, moved the oak leaf key rack up and over, and stuck some boxes and blue playroom pads in the attic.

And then I collapsed into the comfy chair and haven't moved since.

That is not a sufficient list of accomplishments for a day!

I did start up a place to keep the book in progress online, so I don't lose it if my laptop implodes. Vital! And washed the dishes.

I don't know, the things I've done today could essentially have been completed during the total time it took me to boil water for my three cups of tea. I refuse to consider this a reasonable quantity of effort.

I had some excellent book insights while cleaning a segment of the bathroom (okay, there's another thing I did), the kind of insights that make me think I'm a whole lot smarter than I am, because suddenly several elements I'd planned separately up and combined into this completely awesome kind of higher-level storytelling brilliance, infinitely better than the usual kind of thing I come up with. I was astounded my own self.

Orson Scott Card says in this excellent book that you have to believe two things simultaneously while you're writing. To paraphrase, because turning back a few pages is too much effort, apparently, you need to believe 1) what you are writing is the most brilliant thing ever, and 2) what you are writing is the most unspeakable drivel.

You have to believe the good thing or you won't keep going or send it out or show it to anyone, but you have to believe the bad thing or you won't ever make it better or learn or work harder.

I think that is very very wise.

Here's what I'm thinking about characters: you know who you remember from a job you left a year ago? Those are the ones to keep. Or those traits you remember from those otherwise innocuous people? Those are great to have.

The girl who means well but says outrageously awful things and then looks like she's going to cry because she realized after she said it how bad it was. I might not ever want to see her again but I'm pretty glad to have that in my files. (Also I'm giving her way too much credit, because I don't think she ever did realize how awful she'd been. She only knew I was weirdly upset.)

Ooh, or that squally brat of a boyfriend my friend had, who was ridiculously childishly nasty to everyone during my whole visit, out of who knows what kind of insecurity or damage. And then she married him. So will he still be insecure? Will he behave himself this time if I visit? Will he EVER grow up? (My money is on NO.) Seriously, who has such a weak handle on his emotions that he can't behave decently to a visitor who by definition will be gone in a few days?

They just had a baby. I wonder, with that kind of person, how on earth he can manage to take care of an actual baby? Babies don't care what you want or how bratty you might be. It's always, always about them. That baby is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever.

Oh, sorry, went into Terminator mode there for a second. BUT IT'S ALL TRUE. Notice who plans to get offspring in the Already Housebroken stage of development.

Anyway it's lovely when you can combine traits like that guy had, who I really did not like much in case that's not obvious, with characters you ADORE. So there's someone you're writing who's actually supremely awesome but gets childishly nasty when he feels insecure. There's a sort of no man's land of anti-personnel mines that you have to avoid very carefully with this person or you'll trigger the brat within.

I'm not actually writing one of those. But wouldn't it be fun?

I'm working hard at making my people vivid, though. Like, rounded. And full of awesomeness. Yeah!

The other thing I always have to remember is that no scene or story or chapter can exist merely for some purpose, like setting things up or whatever. Every piece has to be an excellent little story of its own, with a question or a change or a brand new thing.

Yaaaaah, piece of cake. Heh heh. Ooooh.

Oh what a gorgeous day! My plan before the breathing issues was to go kayaking today. Maybe I can go tomorrow. It's supposed to rain, but you know, I get completely wet from drips off the paddle and sweat and okay yes occasionally kind of falling into the lake anyway. So who cares? As long as it's not an electrical storm, no problemo. Otherwise, hasta la vista, baby.

Maybe tonight I can get this quilt another few steps along. I'm pinning the squares into strips now. Then need to sew the strips. Then press. Then pin them lengthwise. Then sew. Then press again. Then it's a quilt top! I should be able to accomplish at least those first three steps tonight, given sufficient Bones episodes. Though I can't sew to unfamiliar work. I have to know the words that are being drowned out by the machine. Bones season one! Hee.

Sure do love that show. I hear from Hart Hanson's Twitter that Bob Harris is writing an episode! How completely awesome is that? Yay!!!

I am tattooed on Beckham's spleen




Hee hee hee.

From here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Flame

Oh, rats, I have the flaming lungs.

I suspect it's actually from the bad ozone and high 2.5m particulate matter count we're having right now. Seriously, there's an air quality alert and you're not supposed to exercise outdoors if you're breathingly challenged, like some people.

So I hung out here and baked fabulous rolls, wrote for hours and hours, laid out the quilt, pinned a bunch of the strips, and watched four Bones episodes. And read outrageously glorious things I'm totally hoarding and rationing because I'm kind of a crazy person when it comes to deliciousness. I mean, I really make things last these days.

Like you know how I cooked all that food at the end of last week when those guys were here spraying sealer on everything? Still finishing that up. The lemon sorbet turns into a lovely texture in the freezer, by the way! Mmmmm.

I'm unduly smitten with white-bean-based garlic spinach paste on a tortilla. Dang that's good.

But what I'm reading is better. I want to read it all in one gulp but I'm making it last. Crazy or no? Who can say?

Anyway I'm all flaming and wheezy in lungland such that I keep on coughing while sitting perfectly still. Please don't turn into bronchitis. Was it because I even talked about calling the temp agency to see if I could get insurance? Was it because I set foot on a germ-infested campus? Was it because I sat in a humid, crowded classroom for four hours at a temperature perfectly calculated to incubate infectious diseases?

How come I don't remember what I used to do to make this cool down enough so that I can go to sleep? I've dealt with this for MONTHS and YEARS at a time. What did I do in L.A.? Did I really block out all memory of my breathing coping mechanisms? That's daft.

Is any of this related to how my neck got all swollen up yesterday, like when you're sick? But I'm not sick. And now it's gone.

I really need a good manual for this machine! Or, failing that, an expert. Fix it!

Mr. Kitty and I played the quilt game, wherein the cat who has been conspicuously absent for four hours suddenly appears and needs to walk on the quilt squares that I'm laying out on the hardwood floor, a floor with no traction, so that every step he takes completely disarranges everything and I yell and wave and make crazed noises and he scampers, looking all hurt, throwing squares everywhere. But he'll be back! In exactly as much time as it takes me to fix them and add a couple more.

We did this all evening.

You KNOW he does it on purpose. He's the same with puzzles. The best way to find the cat is to be doing something he can't walk on, for lo! He shall appear! And walk on it.

Man oh man, he is so cuddly and snuggly these days, I am hugging the heck out of him. He's like a big angora fluffball, but with heft, so you can really hug him. He hates it of course, but oh well. Maybe some of us hate having our quilt squares flung in every direction, huh?

Wait until I baste the thing--he's even worse with that, when you're trying to get three layers centered on each other. Criminy, I'm irritated in advance, how silly is that? He loves to shred quilt batting. Oh Mr. Kitty. He is so very very awesome. He just has this little quilt issue to make sure I don't get too swoony about him.

By the way the quilt is going to be so very gorgeous. Mmmmmmm.

Well, flaming chest, hmm. Like if it was your arm, there would be a big patch of rug burn. You'd want to rub cooling lotion on there and maybe some hydrocortisone. I'm guessing antihistamines and benadryl, eh?

Mmm, sleep. I'm very very pleased with all the writing today. That Orson Scott Card! He's full of the kind of advice that makes you go, "Yes!" and dash for the computer. I dashed. And once there, I stayed. I have some story gaps to fill in, in the giant major outline thing, the kind of thing that I've learned the hard way seems like, oh, I'll figure that out later, and then later comes and you are TOTALLY STUCK and also HOSED because it turns out this was completely crucial and should have been decided from the beginning.

So, yeah, I'm working on that before I get there.

Upshot, though: happiness. Yay!

You know what? The leaves on the horse chestnut tree in my yard are getting all curled up and orangey brown. And the locust trees are dropping little yellow leaves all the time. I think fall is coming fast. Plus I'm all puzzled about how to mow the grass when only half of it is growing. Is it really legitimate just to mow the tall parts? That seems like cheating. Or slackness. Or something. Humph.

I forgot to tell you the thing the baby did Sunday. She saw I had my laptop and so ran over and got up my lap so she could look at pictures of kitty, because that is what my laptop is for, see. Not doing my final grades or anything. Which is what I had been doing.

So we looked at pictures of the kitty, which is actually a Picasa page made of all the pictures ever posted on this here blog. She identified pictures of me, and herself, and I think my brother, and then she said "That's Elizabeth," but it was a picture of Starbuck.

Which is interesting because actually my sister when she was younger looked a lot like Starbuck, but I don't think so much now. But the baby is never wrong about pictures. There is definitely a certain something about the eyes.

She was also able to identify Jane and Yoda and Pilot from Farscape so you see her education is coming along quite well!

I am trying not to indoctrinate her with the exclamation, "Cute boys from space!" but it's hard, since hello, most of my pictures are, you know. Yeah.

Hee, looking through my pictures, I'll say, "That's Serge," and then she says, "That's Serge," and next time she sees Serge, she totally knows that that's Serge, and says so. But mostly she wants to see pictures of the kitty, it's true.

This is the picture she identified as Elizabeth. You know what? I can totally see it now. I was maybe distracted by something in the other half of the picture there, I guess.