Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Pets...such a joy.

I had a weird cat day with Shadow, yesterday.  Seriously weird cat day. 

It started out at breakfast time. 

I woke the kids and started them on getting dressed, then went into the kitchen to let the dog out and start warming their breakfasts.*  Shadow decided to follow right at my heels, and thumped the dog when she asked why (seriously--dog leans around my legs to just LOOK at the cat, and the cat slapped the dog on the nose).  Then stuck to my heels until I dropped a bacon crumb to get her to get out from behind me so I could step back without fearing stepping on the cat.

After I dropped the kids off at school, I got sat down at my desk, pulled up the current project, and started to get to work.  Shadow got...squirrelly.  She dashed from the laundry room through the kitchen, dining, and family rooms, then around the corner into the library where I was working, past the kids' homework table, up onto the boy's office chair.  Then across the table to where Cricket (the other cat) was sitting in the open shelving between the library and family rooms.  Sleeping.  Peacefully and inoffensively. 

And Shadow...got offended by this for some reason, and bopped her on the head.  Not once, but three times. 

Which, of course, scared the wind out of Cricket (I heard her fart from across the room), and made her fall off the shelf.  I don't think she landed on her feet in the family room, either, judging by the scrabble-thud. 

Then she decided that she wanted a lap.  Like right then. 

Or so I thought. 

I had my ergonomic keyboard in my lap, headphones on, working.  And then suddenly, when I moved my hands away to get a drink of coffee and stretch, I wound up with a keyboard full of cat, and half a page of EVERY KEY mashed at least once.  EVERY key.  INCLUDING the number pad keys. 

Okay, then. 

I picked up the cat, deleted her masterwork, then moved the keyboard and held her for a while.  Then put her back down, and tried to go back to work. 

Nope.  She was back in my lap before I could pick the keyboard up. 

Okay.  Pet the kitty some more, and scratch her and tickle, to get her to go away because she's revved up and ready to play. 

Didn't work. 

So I got up and went to go get some more books out of the garage.  There are holes in my bookcases where I've moved inappropriate-for-kids books out of the library into the bookcase in the bedroom.  The kids are almost 10 (next month is the imp's birthday), and almost 8 (two and a half more months for the pixie's birthday).  They're getting interested in science fiction and fantasy, respectively.  So they raid my shelves (Oh, John Ringo, NO!!**) when they get bored with theirs. 

Shadow followed me.  And refused to come in when I did. 

So I shut her out there for a few minutes.  In the dark. Started organizing books in the bookcases in the living room.  Went back out to try to get the cat in. 

She was sitting on the bottom step in the garage, head cocked, watching the door.  And did the funny silent meow kitties do when they know they're being naughty. 

I left the door open and walked away.  Called. 

And she damn near took my feet out from under me, charging past. 

So, I sat back down and got back to work. 

And wound up having to delete ANOTHER half-page of gibberish when she jumped up and flopped on the keyboard again. 

At that point, I gave up, moved the keyboard out from under the cat, and started doing other things (math things regarding last month's pitiful take from Kindle, and household budget work) that didn't require both hands and the keyboard in my lap.  Because the cat wasn't moving.  She'd conked out. 

I wound up getting up about half an hour later to get more water, and set the cat down.  When I came back, she'd gotten up in my office chair and was defiantly curled up in it.

It wasn't my lap she wanted.  It was the chair.

So, I moved myself and my laptop back to my recliner, and let her have it.  And got some work done.  Not as much as I wanted, but better than I'd hoped.

That wasn't the end of the cat-weirdness for the day, but that, I think, is enough to be going on with.  

*One child eats french toast sticks and bacon for breakfast every morning; the other eats egg muffins (let me know if anyone wants the recipe) with salsa and bacon.  Takes about two minutes, total, to warm up breakfast for them, and half an hour for them to eat it. 

**I've removed the Paladin of Shadows books from the library the kids can access...Hamilton's Anita Blake series, some of Heinlein's books (including, but not limited to, most of his Lazarus Long books), Carey's Kushiel series...and the list goes on. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Needed more salt.

Yesterday, I tossed a pork loin in the crock pot.  I added a few things, and then shredded it and put it back before serving.

It was delicious.


It desperately needed more salt than the recipe I used called for.  Next time, I'll salt the damn thing first, then put all the stuff in with it.

Tex-Mex pulled pork

at least 3 lb pork loin
2 tsp, piled up a bit, minced garlic
1/2 c tequila (use a decent quality)
1/2 c chicken broth
2 cans Ro-Tel
1/2 c chopped, fresh cilantro
1/2 c chopped green onions

1. SALT the pork loin first.  Then put it in the crock pot.  2.  Drop minced garlic along the top.  3.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  4.  Cook on LOW for 6 hrs, then shred, then put back in crock pot to simmer in juices a little bit.  5.  Serve, warm, on tortillas, in taco shells, or over tortilla chips, with desired toppings.

I love this as nachos, topped with a lot of cheese, sour cream, and olives.  Odysseus likes it rolled in a flour tortilla with cheese (doesn't care for sour cream or olives).  The pixie likes it on chips with melty cheese.

The imp doesn't like new foods.  ;)

Do be aware, this is really rich.  The alcohol cooks out, but it's really, really rich, and may make you sick if you overeat. 

Monday, September 10, 2018


I'd shifted back over to my desk, last night.  I'd been working, and being productive today.  I had lunch, then re-positioned a little bit, and crack.  My knee popped.  Then screamed.  And then I screamed.  Then Cricket screamed (the silly black and white cat with a dick-face). 

I am now back in my recliner, with that knee angled a lot better than I can mange to get it at the desk.  It's still throbbing.  But I am still working.  I've got a chapter mostly written long-hand, and all I have to do is type/revise, not think through the pain of popping a bad joint in a bad way. 

As if the brain fog wasn't enough, damn it. 

Standing in line to pick up the kids is going to be...not fun.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Worth a try.

I've had the devil's own time trying to find a tolerably good pair of headphones that I can afford.  I'd LOVE a set of top of the line audiophile headphones, but I use mine ALL THE TIME.  HEAVY use.  Because I listen to music while I'm writing, from the time I drop the kids off in the morning to the time I go pick them up in the afternoon during the school year, and while they're watching kids' programming or DVDs.  I'd wear a set out so fast it wouldn't be worth the money that could nearly pay a mortgage payment. 

My $50 headphones had really good sound for the price point.  Better than most I'd dealt with to that point.  But.  They only lasted me two months past the cheaper headphones I'd been using up to that purchase.  Not worth it (it would have been if they'd lasted me four months longer than they did). 

I tried the same brand, but a generation older.  Shitty sound, and the band was too big for my head, even on the smallest setting.*  A retread of a wired pair I'd liked two years ago turned out the same.  That pair got returned.

I asked Odysseus to get me a $5 p.o.s. pair from Walmart while I hunted for a decent pair in my price range.  The sound was crappy, but what do you expect from these

Then, about a week ago, I found these.  Wireless or wired (means the audio cable can be replaced when the wire breaks), decent sound...$16.  Sturdier built than the Altec Lansing set that broke at the band above the hinge. 

So far, I'm pretty pleased with these.  And if they break before the 12 month mark, I'm only out $16, not $50, and can afford to replace them pretty much immediately. 

In the meantime, I'm back at work on Gods and Monsters...a bit over halfway done.  I've topped the 50K word mark, and with the kids back in school and the outside editing project done, I've picked up and started transcribing the next couple chapters that I already have written out in my little green Walmart notebook in fountain pen while waiting on the kids' swim lessons (which ended the first week of August, right before the back to school shopping rush started). 

And even better, I'm back at work with music: Avenged Sevenfold, Halestorm, Mettalica, Fall Out Boy, and In This Moment. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018


I missed my ten year anniversary of being a blogger.  I wrote my first post on August 10, 2008, less than two months before my son was born.  I was getting frustrated with being silenced in the department offices because I have a little thing called common sense, and didn't think it was at all right that the oil companies made 11 cents per gallon on gas but the government made almost 50 cents per gallon. 

Life has changed a lot since I started blogging.  I have changed a lot. 

I've become a mother, twice over.  That was...a lot more of a change than I thought it would be, and I never thought it would be anything other than massive. 

I've been a writer my whole life, but started publishing my work in 2012. 

I started teaching in '03, started teaching for my alma mater in '05, shifted to online classes from mid-fall '08 to Fall '14, when I went back to campus because the kids were starting kindergarten and preschool at a place I trusted not to teach them hippy shit. 

Got hit with pneumonia in January '15, then something else in February, which triggered the onset of a chronic condition I'm still learning to manage. 

...which led to me gratefully accepting that the department I'd taught for for twelve years didn't want to employ me anymore. 

And gave me back the energy to write. 

Will I pick up the blogging frequency?  Perhaps.  I don't know yet.  I am writing, though, and discovered that a lot of the burnout on teaching came from dropping writing when my energy dropped. 

I do know that I don't plan to stop blogging. 

After all, if I've been doing it this long, why stop now?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Editing work

I have an editing commission.  Former student wants me to edit his novella for him.  In the first page--first paragraph--I've had to fix punctuation mistakes, and sentence parallel structure.  Oh, and a couple of spelling mistakes. 

He's great with detail, and with story flow, for literary fiction (which this is).  The rest is just mechanics. 

I'm hoping he does well.  He's got it formatted for submission to a publisher, rather than for indie publishing.  I hope he's able to sell it after I help him polish it. 

However.  I'm absolutely earning the rate I charge.  And if I start getting more editing jobs for people outside my beta reading group (they do mine, I do theirs), I'm going to have to start charging a bit more. 

When I'm doing editing work, I'm not writing.  And I do have a couple more chapters of the current project rough draft done in longhand to transcribe. 

Well, anyway.  Back to work.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back to cheap pairs...

My $50 headphones broke.  Not at the cord next to the jack--that could have been replaced (and had been, by that point).  No, they broke at the headband, just above the hinge to fold them, right above the right temple.  Just...snapped.

I am...not happy.  They only lasted 8 months.

So, I ordered these headphones.  Much less expensive, and the same brand.  They arrived Sunday.  They...didn't fit.  The headband was a lot wider than the last pair, and they slid around on my head and ears.  The sound quality was lacking on the bass side of things, too.  I wasn't happy, and was just about ready to send them back.

However.  Odysseus's headphones broke Sunday morning.  I will say this: we'd had them for more than 18 months, and he said they were spectacular for watching video.  Good noise-deadening so that he could hear his videos over whatever the kids were watching/doing.  They broke just above the hinge after a year and a half of heavy use.

He'd mentioned wanting a set of wireless headphones.  So I passed the others over to him to try.

And then I ordered these.  I had a blue set just like it two years ago, and it was one of my favorite pairs of headphones for sound quality.  I'm not terribly picky about color, so the green won't bother me, and they worked for about six or seven months.  Before the wire broke at the jack.  Which, with those headphones, the wire's integrated, and I can't just replace it.

However.  It didn't work out much better with the more expensive headphones I bought in January. 

If I'm going to have to replace headphones frequently, I'd rather not replace expensive ones frequently.  And I'm better off doing a $15-$20 pair twice a year than a $50 pair twice a year.  And with this pair, I know what I'm getting with sound quality.

The new headphones will be arriving with the mail today.  I'm really looking forward to it.  I mean, yeah, I could listen to my music on my laptop speakers, but they're crap, even by the standards of laptop speakers, and easily drowned out by the kids playing in one of their bedrooms with the door closed.  Or outside. 

UPDATE: They're going back.  Too big, and shitty sound quality.   I guess quality for price has dropped in the past two years. 

And damn it, that means I'm stuck without music for a bit longer.