Saturday, November 29, 2014


I have to admit right up front that part of the problem here is that my brains are addled by the mice chewing on the insulation up there. It makes it so that even yesterday was so very long ago, ancient history, and tomorrow is unfathomably far away. I don't remember anything about anything and it's all very open and empty and peaceful. Like eastern Oregon.

So here's the absurdity: I invited three different groups of people to a get-together at my house today. Except I have only the vaguest recollection of doing so because of the brain mice. And I feel like they were sort of vague about it, too, not like "Okay, we have a plan!" but "Oh, okay...." and then nothing concrete ever came of it.

Which puts me in the odd position of having to get ready for a party that will almost certainly not happen. I was in the store yesterday to get a) dog biscuits and b) a big bag of peppermint lifesavers, when I remembered about the imaginary shindig.

I thought, of course, "But nobody is going to come." I mean, they're really not. Except maybe my neighbors. But then I had to get food for it anyway, in case they do. So I got veg and something to dip it in, some cheese and bread, some stuff to make that excellent spinach dip I like so much, some bottles of wine, and the makings of a bunch of grilled cheese sandwiches.

That's my fun party thing, not that I've ever done it. Because seriously, when did I ever last have a get-together of any kind? I'm going to have to birthday in 2003, just up the road from here! It poured and I had about forty people over--and their dogs--and so we were all in my little house and it was hilarious.

Actually, I had a birthday party in L.A., too, but that was outside in the back patio and people I didn't know were there, so I don't know if it qualifies. Did I get stuff for that? I think I did. That was my 40th I'm pretty sure. Wasn't it? I think so. Which would put it seven years ago. Jeebus!

So anyway my idea was to make tiny grilled cheeses, by making big grilled cheeses and cutting them into wee triangles. I know! I heard the idea from J. who had them at a wedding. Like A MILLION YEARS AGO.

Here I am now cleaning up the house, which I've been cleaning and tidying all week in preparation, and getting the food and whatnot together, for an event which will almost guaranteed not happen in any way whatsoever.

My friends, obviously, are not exactly on my happy list after throwing out our Thanksgiving plans and all that. Even though we talked specifically about them coming over for this, I'm positive that they don't even remember and even if they did, would not be coming.

My neighbors have their two kids home from college, so I was really counting on some prime food consumption from them, but they are all out, at least right now. But that means I can't go over and say, "Hey, are you coming tonight?" to remind them and find out.

And my other friends, with three tall sons I was also counting on to devour a lot of grilled cheeses, I don't think it sank in with them either that I had invited them. Because when we talked Thursday, nobody mentioned it.

I think I must be giving half-hearted, negligible invitations.

She was raised with the same thing about your thoughts and feelings and needs do not matter. We were talking about how these horrible people disasters keep happening, and how we know we're the common factor, but we really don't think we're doing anything.

But she had the same sort of seismic shock that I did upon hearing that. Like, yes, this is exactly how we were raised, to think our needs don't matter. When you feel like your needs don't matter, other people are ALWAYS like, "Okay, then we'll take care of MY needs." And you have no recourse because you always say things like, "Okay, whatever, I don't care," because that's how you've been trained 100% of the time.

It's amazing to look back and realize just how many things that has utterly wrecked in the whole history of forever.

It's amazing to think that I probably would have been much better able to get what I wanted if I had any grounding whatsoever in believing that what I wanted mattered, that it was important to get what I wanted and needed out of situations, that other people were doing it wrong if they treated me like what I wanted and needed didn't matter.

That is messed up.

See, I set this shindig up B.R., before realization, and now I'm dealing with it A.R., where I'm mad that I did that, that I didn't tell people in no uncertain terms that there was going to be a wee grilled cheese fiesta and get your bodies over here at such and such a time.

This is why I hate living in the east so much, see? Because my family has this belief like a RELIGION that my needs and thoughts and feelings don't matter. Being around them is overwhelming to my perfectly natural belief that yes, in fact, those things DO matter. They outnumber me and they reinforce over and over and over that no, I don't matter, nothing I want or need matters.

Look at all the awful things they've done. Of course they did those things. It makes perfect sense now.

I'm a giant squid of anger right now, though I know it looks like I'm just sitting at the dining room table typing away.

Gosh it's cold in here! My feet are cold. I want my cup of tea. Which is also fairly cold! It snowed today so presumably it's pretty chilly out. Ooh, 40, not that bad, but it's been 60 for a couple of days.

So my goal is to deal with this terrible habit and fight it at every turn. I feel like I'm squatting down in front of a little kid who is about to burst into tears and putting my hands on her shoulders and saying, "What do you want?" In a super nice way. I know that could sound mean. But in a really nice way. What do you want, honey? What do you want to do?

I met some awesome people exactly like me on Thursday, meaning they are solo people who either have adopted or are about to adopt children. And they're obsessed with tiny houses. And they're flipping awesome and interesting and we had so much fun talking! My people! I mean, they're going out, so not as solo as some people, but still. Adopting alone! I hope we all get to be friends.

We were talking about the steps in a commitment like this, and they are so fricking awesome, they totally got excited that I'd bought the Hemnes daybed, because they got what it meant! It's a huge step to buy the furniture that can be the furniture for the kids!

The next step is to rent a place with three bedrooms, so that they can each have their own room. This is a big step too! Ack! But it's one I need to do.

I also have to get set up with a therapist person. They were able to recommend someone just right for me, which honestly is the only way to get one of those, right? Personal recommendation? And she's nearby. I just have to get onto my work computer and look up through my insurance to see if she's on the list. But I feel certain she will be.

Last week I tried really hard to get set up with an actual doctor, because that's a huge step. I'll work more on that Monday. They were being really flakypants.

And I start with the dentist on Tuesday. Woe! Stress! Pain! But then maybe teeth? Teeth are on the horizon! I don't know if they'll pull these two terrible ones that day. Probably not. But maybe soon.

Must chew everything now!

Seriously, though, things like nuts and meat are going to be out. Except maybe liverwurst.

I have to get a couple of things pre-adoption, like a gun safe, trigger locks, and a metal tool cabinet that locks, as well as another toolbox to lock up all the medications, even over the counter. These are very doable!

I shouldn't need carseats or any of that because they'll be older. But I keep thinking: okay, hangers for their closets, and another Hemnes, because how secure does that thing feel! Seriously, that pew-like box makes it so secure and comfortable. Though the edge around the top of it needs to go because it digs into you as you lean back. More pillows, twin sheets, actual twin mattresses instead of this ancient thin thing.


Since I was off work the past two days, I decided this was a good time to cut back on the zombie meds. I was taking two before bed, but cut to one. The first night, I only slept six hours and woke up before six a.m., wide awake and ready to go and do everything. And I was up until 1 a.m. But then today I slept until noon.

The zombie pills are good against nightmares but they make it impossible to get up in the morning. It's been making it hard for me to get my full day of work! So that had to cut back. No real change in the nightmares yet, by which I mean they're holding steady, but I think it takes a while for the levels to drop.

Last night I wrote another big block of my NaNoWriMo novel. Two more blocks of 5000 words and I'll be done! I'm going to do as much as I can tonight, though. I'm weirdly out of story, which is what slowed me down. I think I'm just going to move on to the ending and cause a lot of mayhem and disaster and do everything I can to prevent the happy ending, and then find ways for the happy ending to come about after all. But look out, characters, terrible things are about to occur!

I've been making lovely things happen for them, resolving major terrible lifelong blocks for them, getting them out of horrible situations, and so on, and now it's time to turn things around again. Just when you think you can relax, wham! Yes, I got you out of those terrible situations and into what seems like a dream come true, but look out!

It's great to be working toward the end of a draft. Even though obviously a full draft is another 20K words longer than the 50K I have to have done by tomorrow. It's great to watch it all unfold and the words pile up and everyone's crazy complicated lives pushing forward toward this and that. It's the best.

Did I tell you I got to talk to little niece over the phone on Thanksgiving, and she played me two songs on Grandma's piano? I know!!! So great!

Put a piano on my list, once I live somewhere where it wouldn't punch straight through the floor and land on the ground underneath. You can always get a free piano. That is one of the weirdest and most awesome things about this country, let me tell you. People always have pianos they don't want and can't sell and they put them up on Craigslist for free every day of the week. So once I'm somewhere well floored, that's a plan! I'm terrible at piano but I love playing, whether just noodling around or playing crazy Bach or even playing Hanon finger exercises. It's awesome.

Okay, time to take the plastic off the Christmas tree (OH BOY!!!) and hit the showers and then set up dishes and whatnot for my Party of One! Or possibly more! Who can say?

Honestly, even if it's me and a glass of wine and a grilled cheese, I'm going to have a fun time. Hurray!

Holy sweet potatoes, amen!

I put this recipe together from various other recipes I found online. This combination is my own synthesis of a lot of ideas. And OH BOY is it ever good. So good!

So you cook up your sweet potatoes the usual way, boiling large chunks, then peeling and slicing them when they're cool. Though actually I don't know if that's necessary. Next time I'll just cut them up raw and bake them and then put the sauce on top. 

Chop up a lot of crystallized ginger, depending on your ability to handle the strength of it, and layer it with the sweet potatoes in the pan. 

The inimitable sauce:

Heat up in a saucepan

1/2 cup honey (all crystallized is best)
1/2 cup butter
a lot of powdered vanilla, like 3 T
1 T cinnamon
1 T cardamom

Melt it all together until you can stir it with a whisk. I used crystallized honey, not on purpose, just because mine had gone all solid, so it took a little while before I could get a whisk through it. 

Once it's liquid, take it off the heat and add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. Whisk that in there gently.

I also whisked in about 1/4 cup of flour to thicken it up. Just this very second I realized I reinvented the usual butter/flour/milk sauce, but oh well!

Pour it over your pan of potatoes and ginger. It does not need to be baked, though you'll want to heat it up before serving. 


I know, who would have thought that a lot of butter, honey, cream, and delicious spices over sweet potatoes would be so good? Heh. The vanilla really makes it. I think it might actually be a dessert, now that I think about it. Hmmm! I just had a bowl of it for lunch, though, so nyah!

My family's version of sweet potatoes was always to tile them in the pan, then put pats of butter and brown sugar over the whole thing. When baked, this gives you circles in soup. It's messy and you leave the best part in the pan. So part of my goal was to make sure the good stuff sticks to the sweet potatoes. I've been adding ginger for years because the combination is wonderful. So now I've moved up a level with this new approach. Oh, it's so good! 

I put far too much cayenne in my szechuan green beans this year, though. Am sad! Maybe I can have them over rice and that will spread out the pepper a bit more. Good plan!

Also, I put some leftover pesto into the mac and cheese, which turned out glorious, oh man. 

I'm definitely on board with making everything in advance and eating leftbefores while cooking more. That way you can enjoy Thanksgiving a lot more, without having to race and plan and spend all day in the kitchen. Not that I was with any humans, but even alone I really like to have my holidays OFF.

I'm definitely going to cook ahead for Christmas, too. Don't think I'll make turkey, though. I think I'll just stick with my fabulous array of side dishes. There are others I want to try in the Thanksgiving Cookbook, as well as some I haven't made in years but want to do again. 

Cooking! So fun, and then there's food! Whee!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your thoughts and feelings don't matter

Can you imagine someone saying that to you? They usually use other methods, though. But BOY is the message clear.

So anyway I'm having Thanksgiving at home, which of course is what I originally wanted, and I should never have agreed to go elsewhere, because I hate that. Holidays = I STAY HOME. That's my rule!

I had plans with my friends to go over to their house. We had a time, and we divided up the food to cook, and all of that. Tonight I got a text saying they'd invited someone else, and we would be eating 3-4 hours earlier, and my turkey breast wasn't big enough now, so we had to get another one, and I had to cook the turkey at home and bring it over.

I lost my full set of bananas. I got very very angry. Fortunately, I got that text in the middle of a three hour class at the DHS where I was learning all about how foster kids are often treated by their original families like their thoughts and feelings don't matter, their needs don't matter. And so I was surprisingly able to articulate to myself exactly how I felt about all of that.

I'm very angry at being treated like my thoughts and feelings don't matter. Hello! 

It's fascinating to me because like a lot of people in the class, I was raised exactly that way. My mom's needs were the only important ones. Nobody else was even on the radar. If you were upset, you had to shut it down because it was not okay in her world for anyone else to be upset. It only factored in at all because it interrupted whatever she was doing. This is classic, apparently. 

Did I ever tell you I was almost taken away and put into foster care? It's true. She bullied me into telling the doctor all my injuries were accidental by saying that I'd never see my brother again. 

The giant fight we had last fall, the one that decided me once and for all never to have anything to do with her again, was over this exact same thing. My thoughts and feelings and needs were not even on her radar at all. She was put out by seeing a musical instrument of mine in a room that she never even used--not for one second of any day, ever. And she wanted me to put all of my belongings into storage because my possessions were inconveniencing her.

Telling me that our Thanksgiving plans are suddenly completely different, WITHOUT ASKING ME, and telling me I would have to make the turkey, and the turkey I have is not good enough suddenly, was way over a whole lot of lines, not in the essence of any of those things, but because it tells me every kind of way that what I want is not even on the radar enough to ASK me whether any of it is okay in our mutual plans. I'm livid. I'm shaking. 

The poor dog doesn't know what's wrong! He's such a good boy. I swear, animals are the best, because they live IN REALITY, not in some imaginary world where everything just falls into place and people are as convenient as furniture to be put here or there or thrown out or rearranged the way you want. 

Anyway I'm glad I stood up for myself. I said none of it was okay. And I'm not going over there, in case that was in any doubt, but I haven't said so yet. 

We had a similar problem last summer, with all the damn furniture, remember? We had a plan, and then all of a sudden my way was no good, we had to do it this other much more expensive way, and it had to be on their schedule, and then it turned out they wanted to give it to some student anyway, so I just GOT OUT. I wanted nothing to do with any of it. And I was angry then, but not as angry as I am now. 

It's not malicious, just cluelessness. Like, why wouldn't I want to get up at eight in the morning on Thanksgiving and roast a turkey and haul it down the street? Well, I don't want to. And that is perfectly legitimate and okay. I don't have to. I am absolutely not doing it. I don't eat Thanksgiving at lunch time. I eat in the afternoon. AS WE HAD PLANNED TO DO. 

Isn't it great that I already had bought all of my Thanksgiving ingredients? I know! I'm all set to bake pie tomorrow, and do all the prep for the stuffing, and make creamed spinach and mac and cheese and cranberries! And I'll make sweet potatoes and mashed blue potatoes (home grown!) and stuffing and szechuan green beans and possibly even rolls. 

Oooh, I love making rolls!

Okay, I sent a text saying I'm not coming for Thanksgiving, and saying I'm pretty mad and don't want to talk right now. Not disappearing. Woo, being responsible. If avoidant. 

These classes are amazing. But they are also telling me I have a lot of serious crap to work through before I can go too much farther. I might have to talk to the nice feisty lady teaching them about that and see what she says. Well, she'll know when I start busting out crying at some point. Though I think a lot of us had a really strong response when she talked about the people pleasing false attachment thing and people being raised to believe their own needs don't matter. 

She said there's a strong correlation between people who reach out to help others and people who have been raised to believe their own needs don't matter. Isn't that upsetting? I know!

I just keep thinking about the oxygen masks on the plane. Get your own mask in place before you try to help others. Right? 

Well. The classes are amazing and I'll go the whole way through (so many more massive long evenings of classes!) but I might need a little time to get my own mental and psychological house in order (not to mention my actual literal house) (and financially, also, by the way) before I go too much further. 

Now it's time to cut up bread for stuffing, am I right? Yum!

Anyway I have to go back to what my fabulous therapist said, after I told her about marching right over next door and yelling at the neighbors for chopping down all my vegetation. She said: Then you did the right thing. You stood up for yourself. That's a win. 

I always feel like when people try to bulldoze me I've already lost, no matter what, but I'm trying to see things her way! Standing up for yourself is a win. And I don't have to watch any fucking football! Yay! So there's another win! I hate football. Truly despise it as the stupidest sport in existence, far less interesting than any other sport I've ever watched. 

I think it's time to knit more chain mail and read more Harry Potter. We're allowed to knit in class, so I've done acres of the chain mail and that's just awesome, because it's garter stitch and really very boring. It's good to do with my hands while I'm having mental and emotional gymnastics, though!

This chain mail is going to be flipping awesome when it's done. So excited! I have to make sort of surcotes or whatever to go over top, though not with a big red crusader cross because the crusades were totally gross. I'm thinking about a Welsh dragon on my nephew's and an English or Scottish whatever it is on my niece's. Are they gryphons or what? I have no idea how to spell that word, I suddenly realize. I mean, I know several options, but none of them seem right. You know, the spiky clawed lion thing that there are three of on the England crest. Is it a lion? 

Research required. Will report back!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

How to cure creative panic

Yes! Polish Chick asked about this and I realized I have not only a ton of experience coping with this, but a ton of experience teaching other people how to cope with this. So here, let me share some ways to fight that terrible feeling when you sit down with a pad of paper and utterly freeze.

This is about painting or drawing but writing will come after.

1. Copy something else. Just draw a book or a mug or your other hand. 

2. Copy a painting or drawing you like, just getting the lines and dark/light down.

3. Draw a face from your computer or a book. 

4. Try cutting out shapes from paper and moving them around on the page to give yourself the ability to play with layouts and shapes without having to draw.

5. Use finger paints to remove the pressure of skills or lost finesse. 

6. Play with clay instead, squishing shapes around and not thinking at all.

7. Just shut your eyes and imagine what you would like to draw/paint/see. Imagine what the finished canvas or paper looks like. Then try to replicate just the most basic lines of it. Shut your eyes again and again to imagine it again.

8. Draw what you see out the window, just one square of it, in terms of lines and shapes, not worrying about anything else. 

9. Set a timer and say you're going to draw ten things within that time limit. Then hurry!

10. My favorite: block out frames for a comic strip and start telling a story about something that happened to you one time. You can do all sorts of fun things with this, like storyboarding, with angles and shots and close-ups and everything. Do it just with stick figures, or whatever you want! SO FUN.

My advice for how to get out of a writing mud pit is pretty much the same, except instead of making your hands do things in order to shut your judgy brain up, you need to get your brain working with you instead of against you.

I'm going to list some ways to cope when you're stuck writing a draft.

1. Storyboard, just like #10 up above. Block out scenes with pictures, even if they're just floor plans or stick figures stabbing with tiny knives or driving in the car. You probably have images in your head for everything you've written so far, so draw the spot where you're stuck and see what suggests itself.

2. What's the worst thing that could happen to your characters? Why? I find I'm protecting things to give my characters one last safe haven. That's where you should go, even if your characters have to fight to protect that haven.

3. Draw the arc. You're in the middle of a story so you're showing an arc from A to B. If you're stuck, you've probably lost track of the arc. So lay it out on paper so you can see where you are and where to go.

4. Write the ending, even if it's impossible to get from here to there. Your mind will start filling in the gaps.

5. Write the islands between here and the ending. There are spots you can see, so fill them in.

6. Let their backstory pay off, in good ways and bad ways. Today I'm beating myself up over not telling an old lady to shut the hell up when she started body shaming me at a party. That hit me in most of my sorest spots, and I really want to be the person who will tell people off when they cross lines, but I'm not. Do that to your characters. It sucks!

7. Mine the location. You can use the arcs that all locations have. A house? The mail comes, there's a vacuum, there are neighbors, there's a lawn mower, there's a weird old box of stuff waiting to go to Goodwill. A store? A park? This also gives you the chance to go to one of those places and notice what your brain has forgotten. Those rhythms drive things forward.

8. Your characters are more complex than you thought. People are always much more complex than we can grasp, even after knowing them for years. They don't admit everything. They have ugly secrets and beautiful secrets. They always slow down to stare at certain types of cars. They get freaked out by sports mascots with the giant heads. Think about the richness of people you actually know and try to bring that out of your characters and let it drive things.

9. Think about the things you may not like about yourself. Maybe you're lazy, or uptight, or sneaky. Maybe you really don't want to do that nice thing for your neighbor but now you're trapped by promises you've made. That's great character tension, things that they wish they were but aren't, things that they are but really wish they weren't. Anything that pits a character against him or herself is gold.

10. And last, my favorite: put fundamentally good people in impossible situations. What do they do? It's a hard story problem but it's also a hard character problem. What would you do? What would that guy that you hate do? What would your real life heroine do? What would a homeless person with two kids do? Put the screws to your characters and make them really show you what they're made of.

As for how to get out of a rewriting muddle, I'm working on that. If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Achievement in the field

Yes I can proudly claim achievement in the field of socialization! I went to two things. Two! In one day! And one was full of strangers! And the strangers were old white ladies, who I have a flinch response to due to being relentlessly tortured by one!

Only one of them tortured me, though, so that was good. Another one tried to tell me that it was naive to consider that police often act out of fear, but I think she thought I was trying to excuse their behavior, which I'm certainly not. They're bullies because they're afraid all the time. It's just psychology. 

Mostly I just had a really good time and now I know who to avoid next time, if I go again. It's not really up to me so we'll have to see. It's a neighborhood thing but I'm sort of at the edge of it, invited by someone who's in it. ANYWAY.

Not belonging is MUCH more comfortable for me than belonging because once you belong, they get their hooks in you. Guh!

But there were at least two people there who I'd totally be friends with and lots of others it would be fun to talk to regularly. 

That was the second socialization interaction.

The first was lunch with an actual new friend in town. We have so many brain tweaks in common, it's hilarious to have conversations, because we both have these weird things like always having to carry various survival gear around with us--and a history of having done that since childhood. My family used to call it my survival kit. I have not changed one bit on that count!

Anyway that was super amazingly fun and interesting and she's awesome. 

Because I'm a worrier, I wonder whether two people with such similar traits would ever run into trouble because of it? That's more of a writing thought, though. I immediately want to write two very similar characters who get headaches from their similarity.

The book I'm currently writing is about identical twins raised in very different but equally fucked up households by their two dysfunctional aunts. So they have the same blueprints but very different reactions to the alarming new situation they're in when they get brought together. It's SO FUN TO WRITE.

So I should probably get back to writing it one of these days. Christmas knitting overwhelmed my panic mode this week. But yesterday (late last night, actually, or more specifically, this morning) I finished the biggest one. What a relief! I don't think staying up that late is good for me at all, though, Agents of SHIELD or not. 

I'm not going to write all the periods in that word. Forget it. But you can tell it bothers me not to. Heh.

Right, so I finished one thing at lunch, because my friend showed me how--I do not speak crochet to the point where I can't make heads or tails of the simplest instructions. And then I finished the second last night/this morning. And that's awesome!

One has to get washed and blocked, but the other can be wrapped today, once I get the fur off it. Yay!

I have rashly invited people over a week from today. I've been cleaning and tidying all week because of it. Which is to say: tidying, or excavating various disaster areas, more like. There are zones of chaos that must be eradicated! I'm off Thursday and Friday, which will help, but today is the heavy lifting day. 


Two nights ago I discovered that when I'd messed with the fireplace this fall to try to light it again, I had not put the glass front back in properly. It has two tension clamps on the top and two on the bottom, but I'd only replaced the top ones. Whoops! Guess what? Now it doesn't fill the house with fumes, so I should be breathing better, and also now it heats the house much more. I don't know how that works, but it's true.

I had my carbon monoxide detector running the whole time, don't worry! And, I mean, you can cook on a gas stove and such. The worst danger is carbon monoxide. But still. 

We actually got so warm that I had to turn the fireplace off. How cool is that? It has not been warm in here like that all fall.

Someone's out in the park photographing squirrels.

Okay, here's my major work day heavy lifting to do list, though I have to say I'm pretty much missing one whole leg at this point and very shaky and weird. Right leg is AWOL! Standing at the shindig yesterday was very difficult. Oh and then there was a huge flash flood and my friends' basement had a waterfall and I had to take my friend's car and drive home and get my ShopVac and drive back and vacuum up the lake. Which was alarming and exciting and I did way too much because of adrenaline and then paid for it later. 

That's actually very funny because B. and I were sitting on the couch talking about a) how leg control has gotten so bad that I'm back using my cane again as of yesterday, and how it's not quite bad enough that I can't drive but getting close, and b) how I used to ShopVac lakes out of my basement in Maine all the time, and c) why I have overwhelming irrational terror of basements: namely, because my mom used to shut me in the terrifying dirt cellar back in Michigan in a 100 year old house and turn off the lights and lock the door. Hello!

So it's pretty funny that I immediately had to run around, drive a car, and do a lot of physical labor in a basement.

Right! To do list! To do today, existence of leg permitting!

1. Wash all the damn dishes again.
2. Pick up everything, seriously.
3. Vacuum.
4. Clean/fix the pictures that need it and rehang.
5. Make some food or something?
6. Wash/block that knitting project, yay! Also other woolens.
7. Wrap some Christmas presents that are sitting around.

That's plenty. Yep. I'm excited to wash dishes, which I just mistyped as "watch dishes," because I'm going to watch more Agents of SHIELD. I hereby promise I will only wash dishes for as long as my leg holds out. And therefore I'll probably have to do about three shifts. It's okay!

I'm also working on the next big project that has to get done, namely knitted chain mail for the niece and nephew. Hurray! It would be funny to make tiny chain mail for my great-nephew. I have to decide what to do for him since they never said thank you for the adorable little sweater I knitted when he was born. Sheesh! It's impossible to resist knitting for babies, though. I'll address the package directly to my great-nephew, how's that? 

I'm excited to do some wacky afghan knitting once these things are done. And knit up this blue and white sweater that I got the yarn and pattern for at Rhinebeck last year. And other fun stuff! It's great to make progress on things and finish them, though. Seriously. So satisfying!

I'm really enjoying Agents of SHIELD. Of course I'm a long-standing fan of Clark Gregg and watched lots of Old Christine because of him and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss. So brilliant together! He's hilariously funny so it's great to see him bring that to a serious role. I like Skye a lot and I'm in awe of Ming-Na and I love the two adorable science kids. 

I find the tall dude worrying because a) he has the most disturbing ears, and b) he makes that pouty face all the time. Dude, you are supposed to be this big commando, stop making the pouty face of a three year old. I'm not sure why his ears worry me so much except that they aren't quite human. Heh, I guess that's why. It's the sort of thing you'd do on a Star Trek alien to show that they are alien. Elf ears are just as bad. Which actor had the elf ears that used to worry me so much? I can't remember. 

I'm just so used to clocking alien ears as a thing you're supposed to notice that it's hard not to notice them. Trained by Star Trek, what can I tell you! 

Anyway alien ears guy is the weakest link but he's okay too. 

I love how Ming-Na is always making that one face, but is able to show infinite emotions with the tiniest variations. She is so brilliant. She says so much with so little. I adore her. 

Gosh, now I really seriously want to wash the dishes! See how that works?

I'm going to get a thing that lets you watch Netflix etc. on the actual tv. And then one day get an actual tv instead of the historical relic with its built in VHS player. (Awww!) But probably not soon because my Ikea visit really left me with major sticker shock and I don't want to spend a dime on anything else ever. 

Oh my goodness, so much to do! Hup hup! Get going! Go go go!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I think they're not really milestones. They're more like random rocks in the path. But anyway!

1. I cut up the rest of the stupid camellias that I cut down weeks ago and utterly filled the green bin, which won't get picked up for another week. 

2. In the process, smashed my thumb very hard. It's all red and seeping blood (vile) and painful. It sticks out like a you know what!

3. Forgot about the time difference between here and work and was accidentally late to a meeting. An important meeting. UGH. 

4. Have nearly lost my voice due to a combination of indoor dust storm from furniture building/stuff rearranging/cleaning, plus a cold, plus the dry dry dry dry heaters. 

5. Poured boiling hot tea on my hand not once but twice.

6. Variously dropped, flung, and spilled many other bottles and jars. Nothing broke. Amazing! (Yet.)

7. Washed at least 2/3 of the dishes last night, but unfortunately the big sexy knock the house down scene with Buffy and Spike occurred while I was washing my favorite blue plates and now every time I look at one, that's what I think of. I'm terrible with associations. They stick around, too.

8. Oh! Actual accomplishments! They each get their own entry. First one, I bought peg dope for my cello! YAY! And did NOT buy either a royal blue ukelele even though I really wanted it, nor a royal blue metronome, because I have a perfectly good metronome that I've been using since the mid-80s.

9. Bought actual soprano sax reed for soprano sax instead of whatever weird non-fitting thing the idjit in Lock Haven sold me. 

10. Returned two very overdue library books. Also renewed them, which I could have done weeks ago. I had a block, okay? A block of failure to cope. Because I really believe that if books are going to be overdue, you should at least have read them. (Nope.) Then because if you're going to have to pay fines, you should get something out of it. (Nope.) Then because I was mad about the whole thing. (Yep.)

11. Have purchased Kahlua, hurray! Also appalling butterscotch liqueur that I adore against my better judgment. Had a very long and animated conversation with the store guy about all the various insane flavored vodkas and ended up purchasing a pumpkin pie flavored one (I told you they were insane) for a hostess gift for my friends for Thanksgiving. Seasonally appropriate, yet surely not actually good?

12. Had a mild panic over the recycling truck with its trailer full of bins parking in front of my house. Neighbors and I joke that they're going to refuse to take my green bin because it's always so overfull and has branches sticking up out of the top. But today I sort of thought they really were here to repossess it. (They were not. They just happened to stop there.) Imagined them dumping my 200 lbs of carefully crammed accursed camellia branches in a heap on the driveway, followed by me having an operatic breakdown on my knees and screeching to the heavens for the vengeance of the gods. 

13. This shows about six types of failure of judgment but I've just had PBJ for a late lunch. I was going to go to Five Guys for a cheeseburger (oh man) but was reeling from sticker shock from the liquor store. I cannot stand that liquor and liqueur are different words. That is just so dumb. Also when licorice is spelled liquorice because it makes me imagine that disgusting black tarry substance in liquid form (another liq word) and that just gags me. Stop it, English. Stop it right exactly now.

14. Made a major realization/discovery upon actually writing out my Christmas list: there's no way. I have to make alternate plans for a series of things because the pattern is idiotic and slow, whereas if I do it my way, I can have four items done in a few days. SO THERE. 

15. Oh plus I got all these fixed rate priority mail boxes from the post office so I don't have to have an aneurysm upon mailing presents all the way across the country. Jeebus, that costs a fortune. 

16. I may be approximately 75% lingonberry at this point, between the jam and the juice. 

17. The epigraph (is that the right word?) for The Deathly Hallows is from The Libation Bearers, reminding me just how much I completely flipping love Greek drama. You know I've read all of it, right? Well not all of it. There are some obscure ones I've missed. But all the rest, and taught most of them, some of them many times. In a slightly different path I'd have ended up a Greek scholar obsessing about Aeschylus and Euripides. Instead I focused on Latin, only to discover that Latin literature is terrible and reading it is like talking to Republicans. Much like how unpleasant German literature is, another unfortunate late discovery after studying the language for years. Clue for language learners: go by the literature. You'll be stuck with it, so you'd better love it. (German poetry and plays are excellent. It's just prose that makes you want to lie down and close your eyes until it goes away.)

18. I am sorry to laugh, but I LOVE it when people in the park throw the ball for their dogs and the dog walks two steps forward and then looks around at them, like, "What's the idea here, again?" And then the person stalks forward to get the ball, head down, feeling conspicuous and humiliated. I love it when there's this script and one or more members of the party are completely unaware of it or unwilling to go along with it. Especially when the uncooperative one is a child or animal. AWESOME.

It is very painful to use the space bar with my smashed thumb. Do you space with both hands or just one? I'm a right handed spacer, it turns out. You can imagine every word here punctuated with a quiet "ow." Like (ow) this (ow) only (ow) more (ow) visceral (ow) and (ow) unpleasant. (Ow.)

I'm going to stop typing now. A good choice! I stand behind it. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Brown rice pudding

Brown rice pudding

You should make this! It's insanely good and makes a wonderful cold weather breakfast.

Make brown rice, but use extra water so that it gets a little squishy. I use the rice cooker and make two scoops of rice with water up to the number three. So half again as much water as you'd normally require.

When that's done, pour in one can of coconut milk and some vanilla and however much sweetener you like. Also cinnamon. Stir it up well and put it into a casserole dish or something.

Usually I'd use a bunch of heavy cream, but the coconut milk is actually a lot better. Mmmmmmm.

Heat up a bowl of it for breakfast and live happily ever after. Make it a small bowl, though, because it really fills you up fast.

Monday, November 17, 2014


There are small children running around and playing outside. I can hear them! And a father figure, so presumably they're not running loose unsupervised on a busy-ish street in the pitch dark when it's below freezing out. Sounds like they're having a good time, anyway!

The sound is so Halloween that I keep expecting them to ring my doorbell.

Actually mysterious personages have been ringing my doorbell at odd hours. I do not answer. My friends would text and my neighbors generally wait until they hear me banging around outside and come over. This happened Sunday evening late, when I was bashing some cardboard down to fit into the recycling bin, whereupon P. next door appeared suddenly in my line of sight, having been previously obscured by the giant piece of cardboard. 

I yelped. I yelp a lot. People come running up behind me in the park, I yelp and levitate both! They say sorry, sorry! I say, It's okay! It's not you, it's me! Which is true.

It has become very very dark and very very cold. I'm feeling a little DOOMful about it, but mostly leaning heavily toward the COZY. We stay indoors and snuggle when it's dark and cold. That is what we do!

Which reminds me, I'm apparently incapable of buying liquor in this town, even though the store is right there and I go past it all the time. I do not know what my damage is. Liquor buying mental block! I need some rum for the hot toddies and I need some Kahlua for the holidays. And vodka to put in the lingonberry juice. And peppermint schnapps to go in the hot chocolate.

I will most likely buy zero of those things.

Right now I have port and sherry, because they sell them in the grocery store. 

The children seem to be playing in the park. This is all audio deduction because hell if I'm going out there. It is cold and dark, weren't you listening?

So here's an odd thing. I know I recently acquired something with a powerful magnet such that someone said, "Don't put your phone on it. It has a huge magnet!" But what on earth could that have been? I am cudgeling my brains and can't figure it out. Not my laptop, surely? I just looked and my phone was on top of my laptop, so I hope not. 

Presumably it will come to me.

The fireplace keeps turning itself off, which I find very odd and upsetting. My friends were over the other day and turned it off with the wrong switch, so now it seems to be having a complete nervous breakdown. Who knows what else they fiddled with in there. People! Touching things! Aaaaaaaah!

D. came over after the football game--as much of it as we could sit still for, since it was ungodly cold and our team was terrible--to help me build my monster Hemnes daybed with three drawers and a whole section that pulls out to be a trundle bed or else makes the twin bed into a slightly bi-level full size bed. I'm not exactly clear what the point of it is, to be honest. It's not like there's anywhere to put a second mattress for when you want to use the trundle bed. We are mystifed.

Anyway D. and I wrestled the thing into submission, doing all the parts you needed two people for, while B. was apparently calling and texting. My phone was a) off and b) in my knitting bag which was c) still in the car. Triple oops. D. did not have hers with her. 

The Hemnes daybed epic construction is 2/3 done. I still have to build the drawers. But I spent all day fighting with computers, trying to get my work done for work. It was truly terrible and Kafkaesque and nightmarish. Not the IT guys--they were awesome. But the weird things the computer kept doing. It's like it had a No You Don't virus. Whatever I tried to do, it would let me get a little way into it and then say, "No you don't!" I did not smash anything, for which I am quite certain I deserve all sorts of medals and accolades. Kudos me!

Ikea! I went Friday night. Somehow I was gone from home for six hours. I think it took 1.5 to get there and around 1 hour to get home. I got all sorts of fun presenty loot for family and friends. And many blue things. Blue and white, actually. Pretty much everything was blue and white except a springform pan to replace those ones I hated and got rid of when I moved away from here in 2003. It takes me a while. Anyway that is red. 

And still in the plastic in the disaster area kitchen, because I have not had time to wash the dishes or clean up since Thursday. Ugh, going out multiple times in one week! It plays havoc with my household arrangements. I was out Tuesday at George Takei, out all Friday evening, out Saturday all afternoon, and then worked most of yesterday, except for the three hours I spent building the dang Hemnes some more.

I've been battling back the disorder but bringing bags of Ikea loot into the house while also moving my office from the back room to the Room of Requirement while also building a major piece of furniture in there has meant TOTAL CHAOS. Stuff everywhere. Random lamps and curtains thrown here and there. A chair in the middle of the walkway. The baritone under the dining room table. Those paintings I still need to stretch are still over the back of a dining room chair. It's UNMANAGEABLE.

I'm going from four online job iterations to two as of tomorrow, but have to do the final whatsits (major undertaking) for the two that are ending, by Thursday or maybe Friday, I don't know for sure. That is a huge amount of work, especially when the computer systems are acting all kinds of bizarre ways. 

I got coffee today by accident when an old lady in the Lovey Hippie Store accidentally ground some regular instead of decaf. I happened to be walking by and commented how good it smelled, because I talk to everyone all the time everywhere, and she lamented that it was the wrong kind, and I said I'd take it because I meant to get regular anyway, since I only have decaf at home. And now I've already had two cups. Oh boy, that smelled amazing when she ground it. Mmmmmm.

I got other bizarre items like Doritos because I plan to get Kahlua, even though you KNOW I won't manage to get Kahlua. If Kahlua --> then Doritos, goes my rule. And Pepsi to mix with my lingonberry drink. I got a huge jug of concentrate at Ikea, after discovering at the soda fountain that lingonberry and Pepsi mixed make a fabulous combination. 

I also got a juice box of elderflower drink, which I managed to get all over the steering wheel on the way home. Very sticky. I asked the girl working at Ikea what it tasted like and she said: "Soft." And you know what? It does! It tastes soft. 

I don't know what it's like mixed with Pepsi but I could go pour some Pepsi on my steering wheel and find out.

Things are getting done, I have to admit it. I got new sheets, so that I don't have just the one set anymore (too much pressure when I have to take them off, wash them, and put them back on all in one day) and replaced the comforter that wore out ages ago but got thrown out when I left Maine. And got a duvet cover to go on it. Navy blue, very nice, with all these flat ridges sewn in. At least it looked nice for thirty seconds before my blond dog and blond cat jumped on it and shot fur in every direction. Way to think ahead, self!

The new bedding is absolutely lovely, though. I turned off the heat in the bedroom because it blasts hot dry air and gives me Sahara sinuses and nosebleeds. This morning I was perfectly comfortable and it was 52 in there. Hurray! It is very seldom this cold here so I should be fine all winter. 

I also replaced my pillows with these completely unwieldy memory foam blobs. Not the nice flat curved smooth ones. I think these are bags of pieces of memory foam. I'm not sure. They're very weird but also somehow insanely comfortable. 

Who even knows what else came home with me. Presents for nephew, duly mailed. Heavyweight curtains to block out drafts and the constant passersby who look in my windows. At least at night the curtains will keep their eyeballs out. My neighbors actually have conversations with me in through my windows. I can't imagine doing that to someone. I can't imagine talking to someone in through their windows. 

The curtains are more like sails than anything that is not sails has any right to be. Heavyweight cream twill, with these giant ring grommets for the rod to go through. Of course it makes me have to say nautical things when opening or closing them. Trim the mainsail, Mr. Hornblower!

I think it might be just about time for unconditional surrender to the day and the mess. Time to put on a flannel nightie and sit knitting and reading by the fire. See, this is when it would have been good to have purchased liquor, because two cups of coffee around five o'clock means I am pretty much never getting to sleep. 

Though the thought of the giant navy blue comforter is highly appealing. 

I made bison pot roast in the goth crock pot because I've been neglecting protein lately. Best to make pot roast when you have very few chewing surfaces available in the toothy region. It was delicious. There's a lot left.

I think I'm ready for Thanksgiving, which is insane because I'm going to my friends' house for dinner, but you know I'm going to make my own anyway, either before or after. I have Days Off which is very exciting to me. And I should make plans to do things like purge the closets or whatever, but most likely I'll just watch the entire Lord of the Rings extended versions and get sugared up on Pepsi/lingonberry and bake Christmas cookies and knit every kind of thing. Wheeeee!

Actually that sounds totally fun. 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Two things totally threw me this week. Bananas!

One, I completely lost my grip when getting ready to go see George Takei speak down at the University where I used to teach. I mean I was freaking out, full-blown panic attack, out of sheer terror at going. I took a bunch of panic drugs and managed to calm the giant shakes down to manageable tremor, and I did go, but MAN was that not okay.

I mean, it has to be okay. It's okay! I'm a freaker outer about social occasions, that's just how it is. It's okay. It's even okay to freak the heck out. I didn't let it stop me. I even ate my dang tortellini while I was shaking so bad that they kept flinging around and the dog kept chasing and eating them. I made it there and all was well. THAT IS A WIN.

I'm not *happy* about the freakout, and I'm not really sure what set it off. But I talked with my friend D. while we were waiting in line and it probably adds up to: going back to my old school, afraid of meeting old colleagues and having to have all those conversations, facing the ten year gap, facing the what have you done with your life questions, all that. Plus of course generalized freakout over crowds, crowded auditorium, trappedness, limited exits, and so on. And going out at night.

That's a funny thing, because neither I nor my friends ever go out after dark. EVER. We just don't do it. It was very weird for us to be out at night and we kept laughing about it. Of course it's light forever and ever here. Even now it's still light out at 5. Where I lived in Maine it would be dark by 3:30 already. I can't imagine what Edmonton is like this time of year. 

So when a giant freakout jumps you like that, it feels like you're being attacked by this flipping ridiculous terrifying monster that ambushes you when you least expect it. AND IT SUCKS. I do not like that ambush. I'm scared of the terror ambush too now. That was by far the worst attack.

I like calling it an attack because it feels like I was attacked. 

Anyway anxiety seems to be getting kind of out of control over here and I'm very excited about going to see the banana wrangler as soon as my insurance kicks in. Must see banana wrangler! 

Must also see regular doctor about the freaking M.S., which is a big cause of anxiety, because just imagine how stressful it is and how scary when your legs suddenly stop responding to you. I'm having the worst bout of that right now since the first and second bouts. The second was the very worst so far but this is a close second already and it's only a week and a half old. UGH.

I really think that massive anxiety is a reasonable reaction to an M.S. relapse. It's just such physical BETRAYAL by your own body, and so unpredictable. Like a week ago Sunday I walked five miles and today I barely managed a half mile, and that was all stiff legged staggery. It's very hard--this sounds obvious, but it's true--it's very hard to WALK. For crying out loud.

Here's my other surprise. Remember there were two surprises? Massive unmanageable freakout and...

Well it got far too cold to stay in my new pretty office in the back room, the canoe room. It became unheatable even with the space heater blasting all day long. So I had to move my office rapidemente into the spare room, which has a built-in wall heater that blows hot air. 

The surprise is just how much I love it. I have barely used this room because I didn't like it before. But now that my desk is in there, it's amazing how much easier it is to do everything. Everything! Phone calls, for example, are about a hundred times easier for me. I'm much less stressed out. It's easier to put in more hours and it's easier to focus on my work. How about that, huh?

Partly that's because in the back room the dog was constantly barking at squirrels and asking to go out. Like every fifteen minutes. Hard to keep your concentration that way, let me tell you. And I do not react well to sudden loud noises. That's part of the PTSD (official diagnosis, yippee) and when I keep on having sudden loud noises close to me, I get VERY UPSET and shaky and freaked out.

So that's actually surprisingly awesome.

I'm about to get this Ikea day bed with drawers underneath as soon as I can overcome Ikea Reluctance, which is a subset of Going Anywhere/Doing Anything Reluctance. I have to get a whole bunch of work done tomorrow so we'll see when that might work out. I don't know.

There's a charity knitting group Friday afternoons at the awesome little yarn store near my house so I really want to go to that. Friday is absurdly slow at my job. We shall see!

Knitting group is pretty much the easiest GA/DA Reluctance to overcome. 

Mornings are disastrous since this latest relapse has hit me, though. Seriously bad. Like it feels like a mattress is on top of me. And not a light boingy one but one like mine, all heavy and soft and floppy so you can't wriggle out from under it. It's not just on my body but on my brains! It's very difficult to think or speak or organize my thoughts in the morning. Which is why I've been working until later, like 7:30 today.

Isn't it glorious that I have that option? I KNOW!!! I love my job. I love my cozy life with the animals by the fire in the evenings. I brought the ancient Poang chair up from the back room, since I've closed the heavy former outer door between the laundry room and the back room, to keep the house warm. So nobody can even go out there. (Nobody meaning animals lacking opposable thumbs.) So now we have THREE chairs around the fireplace, one being in each one at the moment. And I have a recorded Arsenal/Chelsea game on, with two Christmas knitting projects and my laptop and a Harry Potter book nearby.

Seriously. PEAK COZY.

It's awesome to have this gigantic mountain of work and then buckle down and dig through it and get it done on schedule with no panic or anything. Right? Very satisfying. 

I'm making the back room Exercise Room because it's so cold. I get way too hot exercising. So now the elliptical is out there and I'm going to get the bike inside and put it on the wind trainer. I have to find a way to have the little tv out there, maybe put up a shelf, so I can play the goofy yoga and kickboxing dvds. 

I will not be kickboxing any time soon. Walking to the kitchen is a bit of a challenge at the moment. 

Here is a non-surprise: my mom emailed and tried once again to tell me that M.S. is brought on by something I'm doing. Which is just so not helpful. It's a neurological condition. Heat can give you a pseudo-exacerbation, but even that is not a real relapse. You can't give yourself a relapse. Nothing I've ever read or experienced says you can give yourself a relapse. It just happens. 

This is very irritating because of the implicit blame. You did something to bring this on! It's your fault! Well, no, I didn't, and it isn't. It's been happening twice a year since 2009. So shut up, blamey blamerson. 

People like to think we live in a controllable universe, so they attribute causes to things that are not actually the causes. No, no, no. This is a logical fallacy. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. Or worse. This is such an insidious belief, that the causes of every bad thing can be traced back to the actions and choices of the person the bad thing happens to. It's simply not true. Some things, yes, but some things, no. Just because some bad things can be traced back to the actions of the recipient, that does not mean that ALL bad things can be. Unless you're my mom, who really believes that every bad thing that happens to anyone IS THEIR FAULT.

It's like a child's view of the world. Honestly. Because anything else would not be fair, see? And she wants it to be fair. So that's how things must be. 

This actually backs up to something even worse, which is the belief that if things are going right for you, you must be a good person, therefore what you did was the right thing. See how this goes around and around? It's all about self-validation. It's a breathtaking failure of objectivity.

Jose Mourinho looks like Rupert Graves. I'm sure I'm not the first one to notice this. 

Ugh, the goalkeeper was whacked in the head and bleeding from the ear and got taken away to the hospital. Ouch! So they replaced him with Petr Cech, whom I vividly remember getting bashed in the skull and getting a depressed skull fracture. Like his skull actually caved in and made a dent. I was watching that game. It made kind of an impression on me, though thankfully not on my skull. He has to wear big headgear now to play. Brains! Protect your brains, boys! 

Like I'm anyone to talk. I pulled my bangs back the other day and noticed how large and clear the lump on my forehead is where I cracked that other girl's skull with my face. Ow. 

I had to pick my insurance and had to do all this math and weighing options but in the end I thought more than anything else: one MRI. One MRI costs thousands of dollars. Ugh, speaking of panic attacks, but I have the panic meds now, phew!

Still bewildered that I needed to take them to get picked up and chauffeured by friends to a small familiar auditorium on a campus where I worked for three years to see a lovely nerd deity speak gently to an entirely nerd audience on interesting topics. I expected it to be fine, and it was fine, of course, but getting myself there took ridiculously heroic efforts. Must ponder. Must cure!

Right, a to-do list:

1. cure major anxiety
2. cure PTSD
3. cure M.S.
4. finish Christmas knitting

No problem!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Dear oh dear, my limbs are slipping in and out of consciousness. Right leg is definitely AWOL and the arms keep doing that silly thing where they'll suddenly go FLIP and jerk. It's getting me down!

I did walk down to the thing yesterday and home again, but it was highly iffy, especially on the wet mossy path. I don't see why slipping should happen more often with this, do you? But I slip far more often when it's going on. I slipped a bunch of times in the past week in the park. That was one of my warning signs that IT was coming and was already on the way.

Hm, it really is getting me down, though. I've been all angry and grumpy and in Just Sit There mode since it really hit on Thursday or Friday or whenever. And I'm super out of it. I forgot D's birthday and that makes me very upset. Like, I have two friends in this town and I forgot the birthday of one of them. UGH. I only found out because I stopped by their house after the write-in yesterday.

It's a perfectly legitimate emotional reaction to losing major control over your limbs, not to mention the eye thing, the choking thing, and the other unpleasantness. And the brain fog, that's the worst. It's like my brain is way over there and not really listening.

Let's talk about more fun things! My NaNo book is well on its way toward making the the goal, so that's awesome. I think it's at around 33,000 words. Yes. I was writing 5000 a day for a while there out of sheer compulsive need to reach nice round numbers as milestones. 10,000, 15,000, 20,000. At the write-in I hit about 3300 and just could not sit in that uncomfortable chair any longer, with the table too high for typing, so I left, plus I was in total terror the whole time that if I waited too long, I might not be able to get home.

Which is silly, really. At no point am I completely unable to walk. I can get very limpy and slow. But I can always get there. Eventually. The more tired I get, the worse it is, though, so leaving early was probably a good call.

Yard work is weighing on me pretty heavily right now. I would love to get the front yard raked today so it can all go out in the green bin for tomorrow. Oh, the yard is such a mess! Wet leaves and the grass is too long! But I have to rake before I can mow, of course. 

Today I got up much earlier than usual so I could get my work done and get that done before the inevitable gravity surge. 

We are heavily into the evening time gemutlichkeit over here lately. I've been watching the Half-Blood Prince movie every evening for a while. That is one seriously underrated movie. At least by me! It's wonderful. And here's why:

1. No villain. I get pretty sick of the hateful villains, to be honest. 
2. No Voldemort. Movie Voldemort is annoying and talks too much and the more he talks, the less scary he is. We only get creepy, upsetting kid Voldemort.
3. Complex characters. Especially Slughorn, who might be my favorite of the professors because he's vain and smart and weak and sweet and funny and long-winded and boring and kind. 
4. Harry isn't all about Harry. He's working on Slughorn for Dumbledore and he's worried about Hermione and takes care of her, and he is invested in Ron's life and endeavors. 
5. Harry is right about Malfoy being up to something, but completely off base about what it is.
6. Snape is awesome in all kinds of subtextual ways.
7. A gorgeous color palette like the final two movies. I swear I watch movies sometimes just for the colors.
8. Narcissa and Bellatrix, the creepy scary sisters, except Narcissa loves her son so much, it changes the whole course of the entire story of Harry Potter. It's awesome to see a dislikable character love her son. Especially in a story that is all about mothers, really. 
9. Speaking of which, Molly Weasley is awesome as usual.
10. And Harry and Ginny are utterly sweet and tentative and lovely, especially in the awkwardness of being around her entire family all the time. Ron and the pies!
11. Luna going to Slughorn's party with Harry. I just love their friendship so much, the way he's always just completely unfazed by Luna's weirdness. Yay!
12. Also, Luna rescuing Harry at the beginning, on the train. Awesome.
13. Obviously the scene of Aragog's funeral, which fills me with utter joy. 
14. And the next scene, in Hagrid's house, is just as glorious, but in a different way.

Anyway it's fast becoming my favorite of the movies, which is really saying something. Even if the color timing sometimes makes Dumbledore's and Professor McGonagall's hair look blue. 

Order of the Phoenix is hard to watch because of Umbridge. Good grief, she's horrible. She's much worse in the books but she's horrible in the movie. And the balance is off in the movie in terms of lightness. Like, things are always being treated as silly and funny when they should be more like a little joke in the face of all this deadly serious stuff. The pizzicato of whimsy starts and I'm all GRRRRRR at the tv.

Seriously, composers, I know I've said this before but you must STOP with the pizzicato of whimsy. Find another way. Especially on Bones. 

They seem to be mowing the leaves in the park. Is that a good idea? Maybe I should just do that, mow over all the leaves on the front lawn. The front lawn is about twice the size of my dining room table so the amount of fretting I'm doing about it is way out of proportion. It's just that the green bin is nearly full already, so if I rake up the leaves, and there's too much, where do they go? A quandary.

Ugh, fine! I'll deal with it. Ugh! Then a ton more leaves will fall this week and I'll go Grumph and do it again.

Right, off to work. Much to do! It's a hideously busy week. Whee!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I made me a cover

What do you think?

I was originally playing with this awesome Polish mansion but I suck at Photoshop. No, I am innocent of Photoshop. I do not have any skills beyond writing words on pictures in Photoshop is actually the thing.

A friend wants me to start making comic strips of my days. Which I might do. If I can download an app that basically does all the fussy work for me, that is. I bet they have that for the tablet, no?

Here is the mansion. I love it!

I love how the lighter stone makes it look like it's glowing from within. Actually it reminds me quite a lot of this painting.

It's a Gothic novel which is why I totally just googled "dilapidated gothic mansions" to find that Polish palace, which doesn't even look that dilapidated to me. Maybe a little boarded up. Look at those roofs, though! Huge and spooky but you can see that it should feel comfortable and cozy inside if it were all fixed up.

It's freezing in my house, gaaah! Because I turned the heat to 60, of course. It's 50 outside and more or less 60 inside. Once the fireplace is on, it's hot, though. I don't know, I'm boiling most of the time and freezing once in a while. Being freezing helps with the whole atmosphere thing.

I was up until midnight so decided to go ahead and start, because I'm raring to go like never before. So now I have 3.3K words and that's awesome. Instead of writing during the day today, my one day off, I sort of bumbled around doing this and that, putting things away, finding that thing I keep looking for but never remember to find, doing this, doing that.

Oh and asshole neighbor came by to tell me something about the walnut tree that he hates. I do not ever want to talk to him or even see him, so I cut him off like six words in and told him to tell the landlord. He didn't have the number, so I gave it to him. GET OUT OF MY LIFE. I cannot stand this dude. He is objectively horrible. My dog hates his guts which makes me secretly joyous because my dog is always right.

Also my dog generally hates men and really likes well upholstered middle aged ladies the best. So it might just be his upbringing. You should see him pick the well upholstered middle aged ladies out of a crowd and go straight to them, though. He's like, "My people!" and leans lovingly against their legs. Whereas men, especially near or heaven forbid IN the house, he's all nasty growls and fangs and raised hackles and hate.

Good boy! Heh.

Actually, you know what? That's not true. He was absolutely fine with the cable guy, the gas guy, and my nice neighbor. And my landlord. Ha! He liked my old landlord, too, come to think of it. Maybe my dog just has EXCELLENT taste! Or picks up on my cues. Whatever!

See, if I had a creepy scary Gothic mansion, dog and cat and I would totally hole up in a tower and let the scary house keep all the bad people away. FAR away.

Today, not coincidentally, I started thinking about moving again. I just hate dealing with that asshole and now he's going to cut down the tree that shades my house out of sheer assholery. I can't stand dealing with him. You know what I'd like best? No neighbors within earshot. Seriously.

So my next move was to go study my savings account and plot and plan for how to make it go UP and further my plans to escape to my own creepy Gothic mansion except small and not creepy.

Don't you love my book cover? It looks so atmospheric and moody and full of doom! Whereas it's really young adult Gothic family dramarama. And not nearly as much stylized literary gloom as the cover makes it look.

Dog walk, gorgeous sunset (sun! what is that?) and then I'm going to make sweet potato apple curry soup and write lots more book, safe in the knowledge that there won't be a holiday where people randomly ring the doorbell for another year. Phew! People do not need to come to my home! My home is the place by definition where there are not other people I have to deal with! Pay attention!

Here it is again because ooooooooh!