Monday, April 29, 2013

Tapestry needle

Because I'm feeling oddly at loose ends, get it? Knitting joke! You use a tapestry needle to pull in all the loose ends! Oh ho ho! Humor.

Projects for today include but are not limited to:

1. Taking medications one at a time at widely spaced intervals and examining my lumpy face for reactions afterward. (Complications: already got hives and haven't taken anything yet. Hmmm.)

2. Laundry. Woooooo!

3. Digging out that fancy white monitor/tv that AppleTV will talk to so I can watch the Star Trek movie somewhere other than on my laptop. (Complications: I forgot my old Apple password two years ago, the one that AppleTV knows, so I might have to call up the help line and see if they can, you know, help.)

4. Setting up AppleTV with its own router and all those cables and whatnot, oh man. Though maybe it'll work through the house's wireless router? This is giving me a preemptive headache.

5. Writing things! Yay! I totally wanna write things.

6. Tying a horseshoe to a rope and flinging it over and around that half-fallen tree so I can climb up the rock pile and pull it off the shagbark hickory it's trying to knock over. Though I did have this awesomely labor-intensive idea of cutting six foot lengths off the bottom end one by one. Then it falls down six feet, see? Lots of sawing involved. Saw saw saw. (Complications: the tree could actually fall ON me if I do that. Which would be bad.)

7. Reading another book if I'm over my Tender Morsels PTSD. We'll see.

8. Switching out my dad's old monitor which I've connected to the laptop for the white tv/monitor, if it won't go crazy connected to two things, which it might. Hmm. I can switch them out, though.

9. Researching non-broken laptops. I was thinking ooooh, a fancy one, but then I thought: how about a lightweight kinda basic one, right? I just want to write things. I want a light but sturdy one I can carry around with me. I don't want to have to worry about it all the time. Seems like a better idea. Still requires research.

10. Make some soup full of things. Not watery soup, is what I mean. Things! More things than soup!

11. Take out those horrible sliding glass shower doors that are such a pain to clean and put up a shower curtain. (Complications: involves leaving the house and engaging in base commerce at some sort of Thing Emporium. I would like to avoid that if at all possible.)

12. Call up the various pharmacies to see who has the thyroid meds that I'm NOT allergic to, since I totally blame Walmart for all of this, including the ER visit, for not having the name brand and giving me the generic that I told them I'm allergic to instead. Grrrrr. That's probably the whole source of all of it. Stupid Thing Emporium! Do you know how many benadryls have died to fix this? A LOT.)

It's perfectly likely that instead of doing any of that, I'll lounge about all sybaritic-like and play Sudoku on my phone and drink lots of cups of tea instead.

I feel like Herman is an unusual name for Melville's time. Don't you? And more Germanic than it ought to be. Where did his parents get the idea to name him Herman? Inquiring minds would like to know.

I've been chasing ancestors myself lately. When looking for my birth certificate to show the notary to sign some papers that were made out by some dopey lawyers to my nickname instead of my legal name, I came across the death certificate for my paternal grandfather, whom I never met.

There are several interesting points about this.

1. He looks like Craig Ferguson to me. The pictures are from the 1930s so more like Craig Ferguson in the 1980s, I guess.

2. I don't look like anyone on my mother's side at all or on my paternal grandmother's side at all, which leaves his family for relatives who look like me. (Aside from my dad and uncle, his sons. And my little nephew.)

3. I learned that his parents were Scottish (father) and German (mother.) And that his mother's maiden name was Schieswohl, which is kind of awesome. No, it does not mean poo. That is scheissen. It means shoots well. Which I do. Hey!

4. Also apparently I have a whole batch of second cousins or something in a little town in Maryland? Maybe? There's no way to know if they're actually related except that a) it's a very tiny town and b) they have my last name. Also c) I guess I could, you know, ASK.

5. And a whole batch of some other kind of cousins that are his sister's kids and grandkids.

6. I think they were only two of a whole lot of siblings so who knows how many more there are?

The whole thing is completely alarming, frankly. Except I'm not sure why. Except in our family, you weren't allowed to talk about my grandfather AT ALL and got in huge trouble for even asking questions, even as a tiny kid. It's a fraught topic is all I'm saying. And no one really knows why.

I'd like to find out what the story is. I mean, I have a genuine family mystery here! Imagine finding a whole lot of relatives, huh? Imagine if I found some who actually looked like me!





Picture one, center back. Picture two, that's obvious. Picture three, on the left.

Hmmmmmmm!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Barleyman Butterbur

I was reading an article in Mother Jones about probiotics on my iPhone because I am a total caricature of myself and my demographic. But that's beside the point! The article made a good case for eating brown rice, barley, and oats, because certain good bacteria in your innards thrive on the fiber they contain. Different bacteria like each of the different grains. Whereas if you eat "junk food" (which was never codified, which makes me grumpy) you have a bloom of the bad bacteria that make you get all kinds of inflammation and feel terrible and get fat. And that's why we all feel terrible and are fat, apparently? Except for all the people who eat junk food and don't? I guess? QED.

So because anything worth doing is worth overdoing, I ate a bunch of oatmeal for breakfast (lunch) (late lunch, actually) (I was sleeping, okay?) and then for dinner made barley and brown rice together in the rice cooker, plus a bunch of veg.

All I can say is I feel fantastic. My knee doesn't hurt at all. The one that was swollen up like a great big honeydew melon yesterday. That knee. Nothing hurts. It's so weird. Could be a total coincidence, of course. Somebody get me some junk food so I can test it!

What the hell is junk food? What are they talking about? Because I don't eat fast food, which I think is what they mean. I do eat popcorn. Define your terms, people.

Oooh, speaking of coincidence, I also didn't eat any of my evil nemesis, the peanut M&M, today. I was just reading that peanuts are hugely full of Omega 6 fatty acids (oh my gosh I'm dozing off myself right now) which are great big inflammation causers.

But now I'm mad because I still have a ton of hives on my face (SO ATTRACTIVE, all big red bumps) so I just don't even know. Dunno.

Barley and brown rice. Mmmmm. I love that stuff.

So we'll see how that goes. Eating the food I'm supposed to eat instead of idiotic things. Who knew?

Of course I had a giant bag of barley just sitting there because again, I'm a caricature of myself.

Yesterday was all dramatic because the water ran out, so I had to trek up the mountain to the spring and determine that yes, it was full of water, then trek back down and get the adorable little gas-powered water pump, then learn how to use it (my mom got the manual from her manual hoard) then trek back up to the reservoir and get the pump to start, which required NOT doing what the manual said but instead using my bizarre small engine whisperer skills and messing with the choke and idle until it purred away.

I had it hooked up to the line going from the reservoir to the spring, pulling water out of the reservoir and pushing it up the pipe to blow out whatever was blocking it. And it worked! Foom! It was awesome.

Then I rescued a gargantuan spider from the reservoir, but I couldn't get the frog out. I went back today with a sieve duct taped to a ski pole, and discovered a) the reservoir was now full up to the tippy top, and b) the frog had gotten itself out somehow. Yay, frog!

I'm strangely reluctant to drink the water after seeing that frog in there. Odd, no? (NO.)

I seem to have a tremendous quantity of faintly lemon-lime seltzer around the house.

Yesterday my busted up knee was absolutely killing me, all swollen and shaped all weird, hurt to move or not move, stand or sit or lie. In fact it woke me every time I tried to turn over. Guh! Kneeling on the cement slab over the reservoir tank did not do it any real good. Nor did all that hiking around. Yeah. Ow. So I'm delighted and mystified by its sudden recovery.

You are inexplicable, knee.

Anyway it was totally fun to play with the little baby pump and it was awesome to be all, "Yep, I fixed it," airily, waving hand as though: no big deal. Also I switched the system to gravity feed so the pump wouldn't burn itself out and instructed the mother as to how to switch it back this morning: "Move the lever on the left to where it isn't." It only has two positions, see.

My shed/RV/treehouse/hobbit hole/train car fantasy has moved to school buses, because they're for sale cheap everywhere and easily convert into a big open space once you take all those pesky seats out. I am much exercised in my mind about how to insulate such a thing. And which windows to take away. And whether you'd want an engine in it, or no. On the whole I'd say yes. Though they're diesel and mysterious to me. Also, man, that suspension! That drive train! What a dinosaur of a system!

I really should learn the diesel engine one of these days. Oh oh oh, I love engines so much. It's a little bit alarming to me how much I love engines. I LOVE THEM. Oh, you got that. Right. Sorry.

Ack! And then I stayed up half the night finishing this book and got utterly blindsided by the wrong wrong wrong ending and of course told Twitter, because I'm like that, only to wake up to a message from the author saying Sorry but also saying the happy ending was way wronger.

That was pretty awesome, actually.

I can't even really talk about how the ending was so wrong without giving away absolutely everything about the book. But I will say: the way it is, this character gets punished for bad things that happened to her, in a way that's common in literature, and it says terrible things about whether women can come back from these terrible things happening to them. By which I mean, it says: no. Whereas the answer has to be a resounding YES.

It's the most terrible kind of rejection and it froze me in place when it happened in the book. I felt sick. I couldn't believe it. I got mad at the author for doing it, that's how un-organic to the story it was. Everything was leading to a+b=c and redemption and then suddenly we got the square root of negative one.

I was completely absorbed by this story, too. It was the rudest of jolts out of it. There was another wrong thing too but it's kind of all part of the same wrongness. Wrong wrong wrong.

Why? Why? Ack! No!

I won't even pick up another book right now in case it turns around and bites me like that one. Sheesh!

Well. Anyway. It was the best book in just about ever up until that point.

So. Change of subject. I'm making serious inroads into paying off all that Maine-is-hell mostly medical debt. You know I've been working two jobs most of this year, three for a while there, and putting about 95% of it toward paying that down. And prescriptions. Every two weeks I pay off another one of them, which is just the best feeling. I wrote a stack of checks yesterday and put them out for the mail today.

This is awesome given that it was not too long ago that I wouldn't even open my mail. Then I got to the point where I put it all into Quicken. Then I started paying them down. And now they are diminishing regularly and will even go away entirely at some point. What a relief that'll be! I'd love to get rid of them before I move. Oh yes yes yes.

Working very hard to get back in the black. It's awesome to see it coming nearer. Wait, is the black the tunnel that I'm going to see the light at the end of?

I'm also tremendously excited at the thought of getting that great big Penske truck and filling it up with my stuff and driving away with dog and cat in the front seat with me, like a Muppet movie scenario. Moving right along!

I never consciously thought, "Hey, I'll go there and work and pay down all that medical debt and then I'll be freeeeeee," but that's what happened. It's exactly what I should have planned to do, but it kind of happened by accident. Like I earned money and then thought, "Hey, no rent. Pay those bills!" And the rest is future history to be.

If the uttermost ideal circumstances come true, then you will hear me scream with joy all the way from over there. We'll see! I sure hope so!



Saturday, April 20, 2013

What would Hillary do?

I'm still giggling because last week my mom and I put the mower in the back of her car, but she figured out halfway up that she couldn't hold the weight and shrieked and squeaked and warbled, so I made a ramp and pushed it up the ramp, except she kept freaking out the whole time until I said, "Duuuuuuude....calm down." And of course she said, "I am not a dude. I am your mother." Which is excellent. Second only to: "I am not a little bunny. I am your mother."

How you doing, little bunnies?

I don't know what's going on over here in me-land, except it seems like all hell has broken loose. It must be from the steroids ending Thursday. That's all I can figure. Because all of a sudden everything hurts and I'm in the foulest gloomy mood and all that good stuff. Like my whole body just went bananas. I don't get it. Multiple organ freakout. Knife in kidney, gallstones again apparently, and a bizarre feeling like I'm wearing the bolero jacket of PAIN, all around my ribs in the back. What the hell? Systemic bananacakes. So I figure it's from the steroids.

I'm pretty much pretending it's not happening, on the theory that you ignore a tantrum, right? I'm drinking lots of water etc. and just going about my business. OF WHICH THERE IS A LOT.

My sister is coming to visit I think tomorrow, hurray! With her gigantic dog! That'll be fun. I have a whole lot to get done in time for that, though, is what I'm saying. Workedy work work work.

Here's a thing. I keep getting presented with the classic double bind, which as you know, Bob, really pushes my buttons. A fictional example would be: someone tells you that you have to get the lawn mowed before ten o'clock, but you're not allowed to wake them up and they sleep until eleven. You can't do both. (This example has never happened, but you see what I mean.) If you do manage to do both and look proud and happy, you're in trouble for tracking grass clippings, or not trimming, or something else. CLASSIC.

Double binds are a torture technique. You have to do this, but you also have to do that, and you can't do both. Whatever you do, you are wrong. You can't win.

This is when I want to fold my hand of cards and push back my chair and get out of the game. Because that's ridiculous. If I'm set up to fail, I don't want to participate in that adventure, dude. Duuuuuuuuude, no. You can do your double bind thing. I will not be part of it. I will go read about the master/slave dialectic and then possibly go cut some wood or split some logs or something.

So anyway.

It's little things also. Like I refilled my prescriptions and had them sent in the mail. But when I checked on them to see why they hadn't arrived yet, there was no record of the refill. Humph. No big deal, I'll go pick them up today, but the idea was that I wouldn't have to, right? Anyway.

Double entry bookkeeping! Palak paneer! Walk in the woods with the dog! Today has had some good things in it so far!

Though of course crazy neighbor went out and shot off his guns when he heard us in the woods. It can't be coincidence that every single time we go up in the woods, he goes out and shoots off his guns. Not, like, AT us or anything. But still. I have to say things like, "Stay with me, puppy. Don't go over toward the crazy man with the guns." Which ideally you would not have to do.

And I forgot to pay my phone bill. Can you imagine?

Those steroids, man, I am so glad they're over. They made me absolutely burst into sweat like a twirly garden sprinkler. Like I would not have been surprised if sweat was shooting out of my head in all directions. I'd be doing fairly minimal activity in a room where others were cold and I'd be drenched. Not anymore, though. Yay! Thank goodness for the absence of unpleasant things that are not happening, huh?


However, the ER doc also assigned me to take two more over the counter antihistamines, on the theory that I'm the ultimate histamine queen, I think. Which I am. Queen Histamine! So that's benadryl and one antihistamine at night every night and four more after breakfast. I am allergic to your planet, apparently. Get on that, would you?

I am really enjoying not being allergic to every single breath of air and bite of food that comes my way. It's quite exciting. I hope it lasts, now that the (ahem) steroids are over, though. We shall see.

And my library books are overdue. Heh heh. Just one day! I'll return them today.

In sum, life is not measuring up even to baseline zero manageable much lately. Though the palak paneer was excellent. Mmmm.

I think I get credit for dealing with the eye-rolling absurdity of what's been thrown my way. And for coping with this ridiculous storm of physical shenanigans. Medical medical medical. So boring! So yay me.

Everyone had a rough week this week, didn't they? I think so. It was a very stressful week. I'm so glad it's over and they found that kid and he's alive and in custody and everything. I keep thinking of it as a story from his point of view (imagined, obviously) where his adored older brother has some crazy revolutionary ideas and delusions of grandeur and drags his little brother into it with him. The worst part of that story was the older brother sacrificing himself, bomb strapped to his chest, running straight at the police and shooting, so the younger brother could get away. So he had to watch his adored older brother do that. And has to live with that, as well as the rest of what they did, of course.

Horrible. It gets inside your head somehow. Sarah Rees Brennan writes this kind of family and sibling pressure and pain thing best of anyone, I think, so I keep thinking of her writing this kind of story. Ouch. Sarah would wreck us even more, if possible.

I'm amazed that John Green doesn't write siblings like that. Wouldn't you think he'd be fantastic at it? Maybe I just haven't read those books yet. I can't really think of other excellent sibling writers right off hand. Can you?


Well. Let us all endeavor to make today suck less than yesterday. There will be setbacks! One just happened right exactly now and interrupted this. But we will push forward! Improve, improve! Make it better! Avoid the awful people and things as much as possible! Focus on the good people and things!

And to all the rest of it, crazy men with guns included, double binders and cranky yahoos and those who manifestly refused to be pleased, I will remember how Hillary Clinton sat through all the idiocy she had to sit through with such grace and aplomb and will just say:


Monday, April 15, 2013

Ha ha oof

Today is like, Ha ha, you relaxed finally, WHAMMY. And socked me in the gut. But I'm working on being more of a weebley type of thing that rocks back and rocks forward again and whammies the whammer right back.

Wait. I'm not sure vengeance was the intended theme there. I think it was supposed to be more like, I am springy! Bouncing back! Able to absorb a sock to the gut without going oof!

Something along those lines.

Every little thing is like CATASTROPHE these days, which is the result of solitudinarianism and no resources to rely on, see. This thing is difficult and sometimes hostile! Let's go over to the next thing. Also quite often difficult and hostile! Let's try the other thing. What a shocker, it too is often difficult and hostile!

And then I wind up sitting there all wide eyes and huddled up, eating Fritos one by one, clutched in my little paws like a chipmunk.

Maybe I have to make a trampoline RULE. Like after a sock to the gut (even ridiculously minor and easily remedied ones like today) I absolutely have to jump on the trampoline, because of how a) I am so very in love with the metaphor made real, you know, and b) it's so silly and physical that it takes me out of the squirrelly panic loop. Boing! Boing! Boing!

Anyway. Deal deal deal. Dealing! Dealt with, already, mostly.

Here is a trait of anxiety: you think that if you relax your vigilance for ONE SECOND all hell will break loose, the volcano will erupt, mountains will crumble, and you will totally be punished for it.

So it's annoying that that's what happened.

Even though I know that's not WHY it happened.

But that was the sequence.

This is me acknowledging that if I'd spent last evening, after 11:30 when I finally got done with work for the day (that's p.m.) fretting and stressing instead of relaxing in a lovely cuddle with the furry housepets, everything would have happened exactly the same. THE SAME.

I will focus now upon the lovely evening:

I got all the work done and snuggled up with the pup to finish the last quarter of Going Bovine. Just lying on the comforter and all comfortable and warm and relaxed. Oh it was so nice.

Isn't that dramatic? No? No! But I never get any down time like that anymore and it's starting to irk the heck out of me. It was like 11:30 to 1:00 a.m. and I'm amazed I actually made it happen.

I have to admit that while I was lying there reading and relaxing I did 100 crunches. Shhhh. Anxiety, okay? This is what anxiety does. It makes it easier to do the thing than not do the thing. Hugely easier to do it than not do it. And when it's things that are good for you, it can be hard to argue with it.

Then this morning I dealt with the crisis that arose overnight and also fixed my all three rejected tax filings (oh man) and it was all very easy and I have no idea why it's wigging me out so much. I think it's the relaxed vigilance/punishment thing.

I might talk to some nice therapist type person about that. Because knowing something intellectually and really accepting it on a deeper level is obviously very different.

Anyway. Woohoo!

Today I seem to be working despite my vow to take today off. Insert Marge Simpson grumbly hmmmmmmmm. But I'm also going to make curried turkey salad with apples and nuts, which is way better than it sounds, believe me. It's curried chicken salad except with turkey. Doy. You knew that. I could not even look at the carefully sliced and frozen Thanksgiving turkey for the longest time, but now it looks good, so I'm eating it up.

I hope this is unrelated, but I dreamed a bull was in love with me and I could not fly high enough to stay out of horn range, so he kept snagging the sleeve of my sweatshirt and unraveling it and pulling me down to earth. I suspect that the BULL involved here is metaphorical, ha ha! Meaning the everyday poo of the bull that drags us back down to earth all the time when we're trying to fly free.

Big scary-looking utterly smitten giant longhorn bull running across the spring green hills of Wyoming, to be specific.

I mean, I do see bulls every single day. Bulls are a part of the scenery. I can see six or eight young ones from this chair right now. And certainly you can't avoid the smell, which wallops you over the head every time you go outside. Kind of like one of those bags of manure they sell at Lowe's, except swung at your head in the manner of a pillow fight, whump.

I wish I had Tangled, the movie, to watch right now. Hmmm.

Back to work! Hup hup! On the move! Get going! Then get relaxing! Hup hup hup! Go go go! Relaxation is mandatory today and must be attained or there will be consequences!

Whee! Ha ha oof.

Lookit, at one year old I was a total Buddha baby who knew where it was at. Now that baby knows how to have a good time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Whoopie!

Yes I am DONE with some major taskage! Hurray! Hurrah! Jubilation! Jubilee!

Of course now I have to do my taxage. Oof. It won't be hard, just tedious and boring and will probably end up with a big bill I have to pay that I will have to tell them I can't really pay just yet. And then I'll add that big bill to the other big bills (liabilities, Quicken calls them) that I'm paying down all the time. Down with liabilities! Must acquire assets! What are assets?

I was making such good progress and then wham, the freaking ER and there goes a whole Online Job iteration and also two weeks of Day Job paycheck. I mean, once that arrives. Dear oh dear.

Also, guess what happens when you pay old bills? Other old bills find out where you are! I think bills talk to each other. And then they send themselves to you! And you have to pay them too! I completely forgot about these from eons ago. Oh oh oh. The trauma of it all. Anyway I paid them off too. I like seeing paid off liabilities in Quicken. With all those zeroes in black, instead of numbers in red.

But who knows, maybe I won't end up with a big tax bill, right? I suppose it's possible!

Anyway all this time in Durance Vile has been well spent earning the money and paying off the bills. So what if it's grueling and treadmilly and I am actually further behind now than when I started because of new medical bills from the past six months?

Ahem.

Hi! I had a totally fun day today except for all the working and working. Which I did yesterday too. At least a full day of work both days. Some weekend, huh? But now it's done, for which let us all be truly thankful.

Tomorrow I'm NOT working. Except a little bit. And going to talk to the hospital about setting up some kind of payment plan. I guess I can do that over the phone, actually. Oof. I really have to do my taxes first though, because the first thing those people ask for is your tax forms.

Anyway, yes, the fun part! A) I'm reading Going Bovine again, a truly fabulous book. I love that book so much! And B) I think I fixed the overland flood that was drowning about 1/3 of the woods up there and turning it into a sponge of morass and muck. Not only that, I got to do it by messing around in the waterways. And you know I love messing around in the waterways!

The thing is, the pipe the Amish kids rigged to pump a creek into the pond (which leaks tremendously) was apparently drawing from the overland flood somehow. Like I guess it became a creek? And now the pipe has mysteriously (or not so mysteriously) stopped gushing. And the frogs! They have hopped off! Which makes it a lot quieter here, but where did the frogs hop off to? We would like to know.

I have no idea how the kids made that pipe pump or I'd go investigate and see if I can get it going again. Though actually, I kind of don't really care that much. It's their project. They can do it.

Well! I'm sucking at Camp NaNoWriMo, despite my t-shirt and mug (blue and nerdy) but that's kind of okay in a sense because I made real progress and I'm going to make more now that more of my day will be my own. Though I'll be working odd hours starting this week, which might require an adjustment period.

Time! Jeez. I need more of it!

I'm making plans. Like to cook four breakfasts and four lunches and four dinners on Monday so I have the whole week ready and don't need to cook on any of those days. It's easier than it sounds. One pot of oatmeal with fruit and nuts in it. One pot of chili or soup or something. And honestly I'll eat cheese and fruit for lunch, I do not care. But I also defrosted (not deforested, thank you, spell check) some turkey and I'm working that into the schedule. Cooking up some veg. Washed this hand-me-down lunch Koozie bag that has been in the break room apparently for about three years and adopted it.

You won't even believe what a difference it's going to make to have a proper lunch bag, with room in it for various items. Seriously. This is a big deal. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I know it's absurd to go without one when it's a big deal. For mumble mumble months. Whatever! Okay! I've got one now! Sheesh.

Another dopey limitation: I won't put food into plastic containers anymore. Which means it's very hard to bring food because I just have a few glass bowls with lids. So all I need to do--you will want to smack me--is go into the basement and dig around in my boxes and fezzes of cooking stuff until I find some mason jar lids. AND THEN IT'S EASY AND DONE.

Yeah, I want to smack me too.

Um, and as long as I'm doing all this wacko hard times shenanigans, I decided to straighten out the inflammation thing. Oh, go read the Wikipedia entry on inflammation and how fat can trigger an inflammatory response. Especially, somehow, overeating. Seriously. So like X number of calories spread across the day? Okay. That same number of calories all at once? Inflammation. I know!

Small meals. Frequent snacking on reasonable things. Nothing I'm allergic to in any way whatsoever. Fascist crackdown ahead! Hoo boy. But given how much of the financial cost lately has been due to various inflammations, and how unhealthy inflammation is for you, I'M DOING IT.

We have ways. We drink vast pots of the peppermint tea! We eat of the almonds, the food that miraculously makes you eat far less than you want! I don't know how it does it. I could be starving and grab a handful of almonds and I think I've eaten a whole ton of them, then I notice I've eaten like twelve. Twelve actual almonds.

Oh and the silly Ab Rocket thing I got for free at the end of a yard sale, remember that? I saw one in the store. Did you know they cost $80? Madness! I'm glad mine was free. Anyway yesterday I used it and did 100 crunches. Granted not all at once. I took pauses to read. And it just about made me pee my pants. But still! I'm not even crippled up today. No, I feel all lean and fit, which will last until I catch sight of a mirror. Sore muscles make me feel all fit. It doesn't actually make sense, does it? No.

And my eensy baby weights, I've been using those.

Muscle is the enemy of fat, apparently. So muscle we will get. But it's tricky when you are sort of one-legged and forbidden to go on walks, much less anything more strenuous.

I have totally been walking around the property, though. Rerouting streams with dams and unblocking clogged up throughways and whatnot. It's true. Creeks reroute themselves from snags and floods and things shifting around. And then you have the overland flood. And now we kind of don't. Hurray!

It's pretty great to see the formerly rushing creek that was recently dinky and dried up go all rushing again. I love it.

I have blisters from the rose clippers and I'm all be-scratched in the lower leg area. Stupid roses! Also there's that little matter of falling on the rock pile, which screwed up my knee again and left a big purple and green egg on my left shin. Oops. I was watching for rattlesnakes, okay? Constant vigilance!

This is probably the week where I go to skirts and no tights, so I hope my scratched and bruised utterly fish white legs (and my hideous knee brace) don't alarm the populace. I picture the townspeople running and screaming in fear now.

Anyway the allergic reaction that sent me to the ER is way down now, almost gone, but don't spook it or it might come back. The new round of steroids has helped tremendously. And I still have a bruise on the bottom where they shot me full of more steroids. Ow. But today marked the return of my cheekbones (not those cheekbones) and the reduction of my head from pumpkin sized and red to normal sized and the usual color. I was quite pleased to see my cheekbones were still there. I mean, how do you know?

Lum de dum. Weights, protein, fruit, veg, sit-ups, crunches, la la la. I would love to jump on my trampoline or go outside and jump rope but I'm afraid of what my knee might do. Jumping on the trampoline is sort of a straight-legged thing to do, though. I mean it uses mostly core muscles somehow. Much like jump rope.

Anyway, yes! Things! They are moving along, right? Things are chugging along. I'm on my own case Real Bad about the writing but even I (even I!) know that it was just not possible the past two weeks. It was eating dry cereal in the car on the way to and from work for meals, that kind of week. Which reminds me: vacuum the car. It's been a ridiculous time. But I think it's going to get better from here on out.

Boy does that feel like tempting fate, huh?

Anyway. Humph. Time to hit the showers and then do that whatchamacallit, RELAXING. That thing. Where you relax. And read your book! After I finish putting the laundry away, I mean. And do the taxes. But then! Relaxing! I INSIST! Maybe I'll do the taxes right now, actually. Oh man. Dread. But determination! Rah! Rah rah rah! Tiger bunny says raaaaawwwwrrrrr!



Monday, April 8, 2013

Watershed Down

Oooh, I keep thinking about sheds. That's because I drive past this place that sells sheds every day and it spurs Tiny House Fantasies for the whole drive to work. Then it starts up again on my way home when I pass it. Sheds!

Because sheds are exempted from building permits most of the time, see.

So in my favorite Tiny House Fantasy, Subcategory Sheds, which I spent a long time thinking about today, there are several sheds of various types arranged around a central courtyard.

There's the bed shed, with (duh) bed and comfy chair and writing desk that folds down from the wall. With propane heater and a small woodstove for emergencies. There's the watershed, with the bathtub/shower, facilities, water heater, and tiny washing machine. There's the greenhouse. There's a storage shed, because face it, I have stuff. And a cooking shed, with a kitchen table and chair and cooking facilities and storage for your various Mason jars of brown rice and little oddly shaped jars of spices and cans of pears and whatnot. Oh and a tool shed, where the shovels and lawnmower and things all live.

I like it. I like the courtyard with the red bricks warm in the sun. I like the lofts in the rafters and the pull-down steps to go up. I like the double-glazed windows and the hefty insulation. I like the concrete slabs and the gray-water system. And the gardens all around.

Know what I mean?

Fabulous!

They have one of those sheds here from the place that I pass that sells them. Every time I go in there to get a shovel or axe or whatever, I think: big enough for a queen sized bed.

And when I think of that 11x13 apartment, with the kitchen so narrow you could have one hand in the sink and stir a pot on the stove with the other and open the fridge and rummage around with the other, supposing you had three, then, you know, I am fully aware of the limitations of small spaces. Fully. Aware.

Limitation one: very little storage.
Limitation two: everything is always in your face.
Limitation three: heaven help you if you cook fish.
Limitation four: you are always in your own way.
Limitation five: not enough floor space to lay out and baste a queen sized quilt.
Limitation six: but I love my little trampoline!
Limitation seven: a small space gets very hot or very cold very easily. (This is also a plus, actually.)

Inevitably at some point in these fantasies I realize how much easier it would be to live in an ACTUAL HOUSE, however, where the rooms share walls and there's one door and you don't have to go outside to get to the other rooms.

Well.

So I started this days ago and I'm only coming back right now, ack! I'm so freaking busy I can hardly stand it. Like I go to Day Job four days a week and have three day weekends, and every Friday I'm like, "Man, I wish I could go to Day Job five days a week!" and then come Monday when I don't go, I'm so excited to be home with an ACTUAL DAY OFF after working sometimes more than eight hours per day on both weekend days on Online Job that I'm completely exhausted. And wiped out! And then I think, "Things are best as they are, after all."

Which is some kind of Candide malarkey, but there's a wonderful old lady character in Joan Aiken's The Weeping Ash (a deeply problematic novel, but also full of much awesomeness) who says that too. So I like thinking about her. She's the one who decides that four people (two of them teenagers) and a baby should go from India to the Mediterranean cross-country. In, like, 1780 or 1800 or something. It's awesome. Oh and a goat. And one of the teenagers is a poet subject to epileptic seizures. Truly a fabulous book, I swear, just kind of go "LA LA LA" during the problematic parts.

I still remember the first time I read the most alarmingly problematic part, sitting at the kitchen table in our house back in Williamsport. Oh man! Someone walked into the kitchen where I was ensconced with book on book rack, knitting, and a big pot of pitch black tea, and I looked up, jolted out of that world with a shock.

I get deep into books.

Wait, I just found the most hilariously awful picture of me from what, winter 1985? No, really. SO BAD. In my grandmother's beads and my chamois shirt (standard uniform around that time/place) (the chamois, not the beads) and my hand-painted (by me) Grateful Dead t-shirt over a turtleneck. And my aviator glasses and my haircut that time-traveled from 1976 or something. Oh man. And the most bershon expression you ever did see. Somebody tell Sarah Brown!



Drinking a Faygo, oh yeah. No doubt cream soda. Yes, I always do take caps off left handed. No, I don't know why.

Actually I think I was growing my hair out, which seems to be the case about half the time. Including now. Har har. It looked better in that picture than it does now, though.

ANYWAY.

I'm sucking at my Camp NaNo novel, alas, though I think it's a terrific story. It actually sort of did that thing that my stories tend to do, where I start with this awesome premise that's slightly supernatural or something, and then I get so into the characters and the story that I don't need the supernatural part. Like it seems silly and superfluous. So I think I'm kind of pausing to decide whether to drop it or not.

I might.

I don't know.

Hence the paralysis.

I mean, there's so much fabulous going on there, why mess with that? Know what I mean?

I think if there's supernatural in a story it should be kind of central and important and a driving force. Not like some side thing. Though I suppose if it's sort of imaginary or possibly a mental health disorder or what have you, then maybe that's okay.

I had the SAME EXACT PROBLEM with my Apollo novel, actually. And I got stymied because the question about whether it was real or she was crazy kept dominating the story. And I don't actually think that's a very interesting question, know what I mean? Like, the way I see things, someone very religious has more overwhelming overlap between un-prove-able belief systems and their daily life. I don't clearly see a difference between one coherent belief system and another one.

Which is kind of what that book was about, but in an indirect way, so making it all direct all the time is tiresome and exhausting and I don't think that question can be answered, realistically.

Right. Keep the subtext sub. Got it.

I think that might be the answer to this current book, too. Keep the subtext sub. Nobody wants their nose rubbed in the subtext, man.

Hey! Thanks for solving that writing issue for me, imaginary audience! You rock!

Dog and I are utterly pooped today due to overdoing it to an extreme yesterday. Like I'm all scratched to heck and beyond by the frakking wild roses and he's so tired he sort of toddles along behind me and then bonks me on the back of the calf with his nose to say, "Can we just sit down now?"

Bawwwww! My puppy. He's such a good boy.

My favorite thing yesterday was when he got super tired and went and sat down with his little backside up against a tree and looked out at the field. Sitting there on a patch of grass against a tree in the sun, just looking and sniffing.

Now he's conked out on his bed on my desk, very glad I SAT DOWN for once. Though it was just to get more work done. On my day off. Shhhhh.

I recorded this weird video of the muddy path that I was trying to drain. And the deafening frogs out at the pond. The Amish kids have run a pipe to fill the pond, which is why we have ten million frogs. And we both use the path to get to each other's houses without walking along the road. Though yesterday one of the big jobs I did was to cut a new path, or rather clear and widen a deer/raccoon/coyote etc. game trail that the animals have been using forever. Like possibly ACTUALLY forever. Isn't that cool?

So now we can use that path, which is much more interesting and goes down a hill and across a creek with a little tufty island in the middle and across another one by rocks and down to meet the old path in the field, to the bridge that's still very low and mud-covered but hey, one thing at a time!

I loved when the Amish kids were over Saturday (they visit regularly) and Sylvia said, "We went up to visit that tree, you know the one?" and I was all, "Yes! That tree! That huge oak!" and we were all excited about that tree. And then I thought, how odd that we both immediately know which tree we're talking about. It's not on any path. You just have to know where it is. I'm the only one in my family who even knows about it, let alone can find it. But they love this land as much as I do. The plan is that her next oldest brother will buy it one day. And they're all over the acreage all the time, with my mom's permission.

I sure do like that tree. You even know about that tree! Because I toldja!

video

Sorry about how jerky the video is. The regular camera on my phone is all scratched from when I dropped it in the creek (I think) so I have to use the selfie one. So I can't really see what it sees. How about those frogs, though, huh? There's the peepers who go, um, peep peep peep, little tree frogs, and then the big rubber band sounding frogs who are in the pond.

Also I'm carrying my blue hooded sweatshirt over my arm. My shadow isn't really that bulky. And my dog is like, ugh, you're pointing that thing at me again, and averts his gaze, which cracks me up.

Yes! A video of mud and brush! On the internet! Fascinating!

Edited to add: that took four hours to upload and I just noticed that most of it is SIDEWAYS. So tilt your head to the right. Okay!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oh why not add more?

Hi! I've been slacking off for a week here because of working way too goddamn much! Yes! Seriously. Although I've been at home for a week by doctor's orders and hardly even allowed to walk around the woods and fields (which is TORTURE) I've been super overworked due to massive extra Online Jobbery. Oh man!

It's true. I don't know why two is like twenty times more than one, but it is. Glargh! Plack! Frong!

So I figured that as long as I'm going back to work (I HOPE) I should also start Camp NaNoWriMo.

This is how I do it: suddenly decide, go HOLY CRAP, go to my file marked IDEAS, scan down them, and pick out the one I want to do.

If I am smart and Jane happens to be having a writing fartlek, then I make an outline of sorts which I may or may not follow but which makes life intensely easier.

However. However! I may not do that this time because I'm not really sure where I want this story to go exactly. Nor how I want it to get there.

That's okay, truly.

I know the three central characters, especially the main one. I have the setting, a variation on my tiny, cramped apartment in L.A., only with a mom and daughter living there. (I know, where'd I get that pairing, huh?) And I have the major conceit or whatever you want to call it. I have what she wants and how she gets it in the worst possible way and then how she gets to where she really wants to be instead, by the long, hard road. Book says ouch. The best books say ouch! And I have an excellent tone in mind, very crabby but funny about it.

Must stay funny about it or I will quit writing. I know this for a fact.

I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo as mentioned above so come on by and be my friend! Or I'll be in a cabin by myself, typing away by lantern light on the top bunk with my sleeping bag wrapped around my shoulders, jumping at every sound. You don't want that, do you?

I bought Camp NaNo loot and I'm ridiculously excited about it. Also ThinkGeek had TARDIS beach towels and I got that too. I ordered blue nerdy merchandise online. It's true, it's all blue. Blue and nerdy. Now I'm going to have that running through my head to the tune of "White and Nerdy" by our man Weird Al.

You know.



My favorite is Donny Osmond dancing like a high speed loon. Hurray!

Yes, I am seriously white and nerdy. This is not news. I was all excited explaining my Maureen Johnson STARE t-shirt (which of course I was wearing) to the librarian the other day, then we got discussing the Maggie Stiefvater Shiver books and how I had to stop reading early on because they were hunting the wolf and how that's actually a compliment because it was too scary, right?

Right! So I think I might (nerdy) go get some of those letter beads and make matching bracelets that say YOUNG ADULT AUTHOR or something, to keep my head on straight and remind me of what I most want to do and keep me from fixating on dumb stuff like everyday annoyances and my busted knee and people being jerky and all that kind of boring thing. Boring! Must return to your imperative, Admiral Cain says.

I have this vague idea that they're like Wonder Woman bracelets, but I don't quite know why. Because prosaic annoyances bounce right off them? Unsure.

Oh! Boring life updates. Yes. Patellar bursitis in my knee (nerdy) and a giant knee brace with three velcro straps (oh so nerdy) and pills pills pills. Which I call pillage. As in, where is my pillage? Because heaven knows I have to entertain myself with all this argh going on. I'm done with the corticosteroids, thank goodness, but awesome doctor person prescribed me this amazing NSAID that I'd never heard of, to reduce the inflammation, but it somehow has fixed me up all over. Like my ankles shrank and my back doesn't hurt and my hands look all small. Inflammation is the enemy so I'm delighted. And it fixed that neuroma in my foot. Ugh, ailments, go away.

Anyway my knee is much better now though I'll probably still wear the brace to work so it doesn't get all aggravated again. It's an overuse injury, she said. I will try not to overuse it again.

In the midst of all this I got the incredibly overwhelmingly powerful urge to GET OUT OF HERE so I'm trying to be pragmatic and whatnot about it. You know, pester my brother. Plan. Be sensible. Things like that. Since, for one thing, I'm super overly busy and for another, got a bum knee. Though, hey, long distance driving is all sitting down!

Ahem.

I have a mountain of library books and good movies in the Netflix queue so I'm prepared to sit this out. I mean, to outlast this knee thing. I can't stand being grounded like this, but I have to beat it or I'll be grounded even longer.

I am so psyched for my TARDIS towel, you guys. And Camp NaNoWriMo. And the various loot.

I'm just reading Girl At Sea again (Maureen Johnson) and noticed that Clio wears a blue hoodie with things sewed all over it, just like mine, though mine has monarch butterfly appliques to cover the dog rips and some oak leaves over the bigger holes. I actually have a bunch of other odd patches I could sew on, like a Serenity one and who knows what. A stack of them. The actual military insignia I got from my brother has to go on my Starbuck Thrace camo jacket, though I have to know where it should be placed to do it right. Also my jacket is in Maine with 80% of my stuff, which means any road trip starts with an extra 12 hour road trip the wrong direction, oh man. 

However. Spring! Excitement! Things are getting slightly reddish orangey out because of buds! The ticks are out in force already, utterly gross, so I had to put that stuff on the dog that protects him from fleas, ticks, and un-American influences. I'm totally allergic to it, of course, so I've been all sneezy and red-faced ever since, despite the steroids. I'm like a caricature of white and nerdy at this point. Aaaah! Where's my EpiPen?

Right, so anyway, book! It has to do with mirrors. If I ever told you about it, you can email me and remind me of what on earth I ever said because I don't really remember.

I'm a little alarmed by the prospect of doing all this, honestly--going back to work full time and with all the double-but-twenty-times-harder Online Job and a new book to write starting...tomorrow, and potential for the great escape to happen within the next few weeks or at most (I think) a month. Eeeee!

A piece of that one song keeps running through my head. The part that says, "I've got to get out of this place / If it's the last thing I ever do." I have GOT to stop living in dreadfully isolating places with no fellow nerds to play board games with! I mean, come on!

Oh man, I DO edit Wikipedia, like "White and Nerdy" says. It's true. I fix grammatical errors and misspellings and misuse of commas.