Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I really would prefer...

...for the cold to have waited a bit longer.

We had SNOW yesterday.  More than predicted.  Initial prediction was a dusting to an inch.  That kept creeping up.  The prediction Saturday night was that we'd get 2-4", and that it wouldn't stick.  It was also predicted that we'd get light snow, just that it'd be wet and heavy and big flakes.

Woke up yesterday morning to HEAVY snow.  Small flakes.  Coming down fast, occasionally sideways, and fast and thick enough to build up.  Yeah, the ground was warm enough (at first) that it was melting from underneath, but we still had more than 2" accumulate.  And stick. 

The town got, overall, around 4"+.  Some parts got 6" or more.

The kids didn't have school.

Today, we woke up to low teens.  I let the dog out at 6:25, checked to see if the kids' school would be starting on time (there were a few in the area that started late because of melt and refreeze on the roads), then got the kids up and breakfast started.  I had the imp feed the dog inside (no, she didn't eat all of her breakfast), then let her out for a poo break when I ran the kids in to school.  Figured I'd get her back in right after I got home.

The imp's car door (rear passenger) was frozen shut.  I had trouble yanking it open, and only managed what the imp failed to do because I was able to stand on the far side of the ice patch right below the car and yank hard.

The car's dash thermometer read 17 degrees when we left.

It takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic, to get the kids in to school, let off at the gym entrance, then get home.  It was the long end this morning, because I didn't want to risk a loss of traction when I was trying to get into a normal sized gap of traffic.

And the dog...wasn't ready to come in.  Usually, when I ask if she wants in, she nopes over to the far corner of the yard and dances by the gate, as far from the back door as she can get. 

Not this morning.  There's still a solid 2" of snow in the back yard, with a crust of ice over the top where we got freezing fog yesterday evening.

The dog dashed over to the opposite corner of the patio, and danced. 

I gave her ten more minutes while I did a couple things, then tried again.  She was willing to come in, that time, but only stayed in the house for about an hour.

Yes, I have since tried to get her in the house.  No, she has not been willing to come in.  She hasn't even stayed on the patio, on the straw bale or her insulated bed out of the wind.  Instead, she's been making snow-plow circuits* of the yard, barking at everything.  No, it isn't yet above freezing.  It's not supposed to get above freezing today.

We're still running the heat pump.  With as high-efficiency plug-in heaters as we can get to supplement.  Because the propane company's due out on Thursday to tell us what size tank we'll need for a 30,000 BTU heater that's going in the fireplace early next month.

So, yeah, I'd prefer for the global warming to take a break and let us get back to the normal-for-the-area 40s and 50s for early/mid November.  This shit's not supposed to hit us in SW MO until late December/January.

*Scotty-dog snow-plow: bury nose under snow until it's touching the ground, then run around like a maniac, flinging snow in all directions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mistakes were made

Some by me. 

Friday nights are pizza/movie nights.  Always.  We get a take-n-bake pizza, then put in a DVD of something for the kids so Odysseus and I can have some peace going into the weekend.  My pizzas are gluten-free crusts acquired ahead of time, then topped.  And those...aren't cheap.  At.  All. 

I mean, yeah, I do try to make my own.  When I can.  When I haven't used up my energy doing other things like shopping, cleaning, child-wrangling (homework time can be an utter bitch).  But sometimes, I have to fall back on crusts.

And my Walmart has stopped carrying the Udi's crusts.  They do carry another gluten free crust, a Mama Mary's brand.*  I got a package.  One was fine.  Not good, by any means, but edible.

Last week's...wasn't.  Last week's was contaminated with wheat flour (it wasn't good enough for an "oops--we put a regular crust in the package, instead of a gf crust). 

I spent Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really suffering for it. Last night wasn't great, but I was able to sleep mostly comfortably.  The only thing buggering my sleep last night was worries about yesterday's election. 

Yes, I voted.  Despite feeling really horrible, and having no energy because of wrangling a very unwilling monster through doing most of his homework, I voted.  I voted nearly straight libertarian...and we still managed to boot Claire McCaskel out of office (the asshole voted in isn't any better, sadly).  We got an amendment to the state constitution passed to permit marijuana to be used for medical purposes.  We even passed the one that taxed it at 4% rather than 15%.  We also managed to defeat a 2 cent per gallon increase in fuel sales tax. 

Sadly, that's where the good news ends. 

We passed an amendment aimed at "keeping out of state money out of Missouri elections" which includes a nasty rider that puts a "non-partisan individual"--not a committee, by my reading--in charge of gerrymandering.  This is not good.  The money part is, but the gerrymandering thing is a definite poison pill that's going to fuck us in the short and long term.

We also, sadly, passed a MASSIVE minimum wage hike. 

Which means EVERYTHING is about to become more expensive.  And jobs?  Yeah, unskilled work is going to go bye-bye.  No more jobs for teens for us!  They're just not worth $12.60/hr (where they might be worth taking a chance at $7.65).

I think one of the biggest mistakes this country ever made was passing universal suffrage.  Because the idiots were out in force, yesterday.  And there were about 1.5 million voters in MO that need to be institutionalized in group homes and sheltered workshops instead of being allowed to vote, judging by those two things. 

Another mistake I've made is not getting my imp in to see his doctor sooner.  I'd noticed his behavior (and his grades) starting to spiral downward.  I should have got him in last month--he's gained weight, so I think his meds need to be adjusted.  I didn't.  I've been frustrated, his teacher's been frustrated, and he's been...really unable to control himself.  I've got him an appointment for tomorrow morning. 

It doesn't excuse the poor behavior, but it does explain it.  And I feel guilty because I've dropped a rather important ball in my juggling. 

This week has been stupid-busy.  Next week will be a little better, but not a whole lot, and I still feel like I'm forgetting something...

...and the week after Thanksgiving, we have a tentatively scheduled closing on the old house.  Keep your fingers crossed and send up a prayer that nothing FUBARs this attempt at a sale, please. 

*Udi's only makes gluten free products.  They don't work with wheat at all anywhere in their manufacturing.  Mama Mary's...does.  They do regular (if bad) crusts as well as the gluten free ones.  I'm not surprised this happened, just painfully disappointed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What ever happened to *buying* programs?

I seriously hate Microsoft.  HATE them.

I had to buy a new laptop in July 2017.  It had Windows 10.

I detest Windows 10.

I like the stability, and the fact that it doesn't tend to crash, but I hate the auto-update that cannot be turned off.   I hate that I keep having to turn Cortana back off, and turn the microphone back off, and tell it to not report my location after random updates (not every update, but frequently enough that I've had to do it more than half the times it updates).  I hate that it does this without warning, and doesn't let me put it off.

This last update has really fucked everything up for me.  Firefox is running slower (even after a troubleshoot delete/reload), and everything is...jerky.  I can type faster than it can keep up, which I've never been able to do before.  It's really bad.  It's not just internet issues, either--I have the same issues with word processing.  Even when I'm using nothing else but that program (yes, I checked). 

It's actually worse with the USB keyboard I have.

And, with this update, Word has locked down to where I can't use it. 

Granted, I'd been using Word for free for years.  While I was working for Nameless University, I had the privilege of using the university's license for Office.  And I do like Word's functionality.  If I could buy a copy of ONLY Word, I would.

But no.

I can rent Office for an affordable price for a year (uh, no.  I don't rent programs), or I can buy the whole suite, licensed for one computer only (and then have to do it again when I have to have a new machine).  Or, I could buy a pair of bifocals for about the same price.*    Guess which has higher priority. 

My now-unlicensed copy of Office has locked down.  I can open old docs in it, but cannot modify or add to them.

Which sucks, because I'd had a friend's manuscript almost done in Word, and now I have to start it over with a program I need to get familiar with, because it's going to be what I'll be using for the foreseeable future.

I wish this had at least waited until after I'd finished the manuscript I was editing.  LibreOffice's Writer program's editing/change tracking/commenting is...not precisely user friendly, if not as impossible as Open Office's is.

And I wish I had the focus and brain capacity to learn Linux.  Because Windows 10 is complete and utter shit, despite the stability.  



*I've seen Office (older versions) on Ebay for prices I can afford, but I don't trust that I'd actually get a copy that hadn't already been installed on someone else's computer. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Those weren't mud-balls...

Life has a nasty, bitchy habit of lobbing mud balls at you to catch while you're juggling. 

We got the offer on the old house.  They contracted the same inspector we did.  He's good, but...damn, he overloads you with literally EVERYTHING that you MIGHT need to fix, with no distinction over whether it needs done now, or can wait--that, he leaves to the home-buyer to decide. 

Which...scared our buyer to the point they withdrew from the contract. 

Yeah, there were some serious fixes, but the report was several tens of pages long and listed everything from overhanging branches that needed trimmed to knob-and-tube wiring that wasn't hooked up to anything and wasn't active (or a danger) to the need for a moisture barrier between the floor and the crawl space, and flooring that needs some work. 

Real info overload for especially a first-time HUD-loan homebuyer.  So, the attempts to sell the house start again. 

The imp's birthday was a week ago yesterday.  I didn't have his spelling list until Sunday night after he'd gone to bed, so we didn't get started on spelling until Monday.  And it was a review list, so he should have done mostly okay.  I mean, writing the lists out twice every day takes for-fucking-ever for the child, but it was working (mostly).  It had taken his tests from D's to A's and B's.  Despite his issues actually getting what he knew in his brain to come out his fingers. 

Last week's test was a C.  Mid-C.  

And this week is a short week.  And a hard list.  I guess I'm going to have to work him harder.  Because being able to communicate in writing (and take notes and be able to READ THEM LATER) is incredibly important.

And this coming week includes post-first-quarter parent/teacher conferences. 

I'd signed both kids up on Tuesday--the pixie at 5:00, and the imp at 5:30.  And then, the imp's teacher sent out a mass email, saying she had to postpone the conferences to Thursday, and Friday (which they have off).  So, one child's conference is at 5:00 on Tuesday, now, and the other one's is at 5:00 on Thursday.  Instead of having both on one night, and no more to worry about. 

I'm also going to have to find another plumber.  Yes, another one.  A year after we'd found a decent, reliable plumber that responded quickly to calls, and didn't overcharge.  Because the guy that owned the company is up on federal charges of making and distributing child porn. 

Thank God his employee was the one we dealt with most often. 

But we need that plumber soon, because we are definitely going to need a new propane line run into the side of our fireplace (instead of the middle of the back) for a new propane insert.  Because winter's well on its way, and a heat pump...is not good for heating in this part of Missouri.  We had giant electric bills last winter, and I do not want those again. 

Yeah, I'm pretty sure those were horse apples life was throwing at me for me to catch and add to my juggling.  And I missed either catching or deflecting. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I think I'm done (in) for a while.

Last weekend was my imp's 10th birthday.  Saturday.  Ten years ago, he arrived at the world pissed off and screaming--which was a delightful sound, considering he was eight weeks early, and they weren't sure his lungs would be developed enough by that point to scream. 

His feet were literally the length of my thumb: about an inch and a half. 

Thursday evening, he came to me and showed me that his toes had no room in his shoes, so I got him a bigger pair Friday morning when I did groceries.  I wear kids' size 3 in shoes.  He now wears youth size 5. 

From feet the size of my thumb, to feet bigger than mine in ten years. 

So, Saturday morning, we went to his paternal grandparents' house for his birthday dinner (lasagna, Italian bread, spice cake, and ice cream).  And presents from them (an old tackle box spray painted silver that will be perfect for storing Hot Wheels, and a couple of books he already loves). 

And Sunday, we grabbed a rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, and a salad from Sam's Club ($16.98 to feed four adults and two kids!), and went up to my mom's after they'd gotten back from church.  The kids each had a chicken leg and my sister made mac'n'cheese.  And another spice cake (with rye flour, which I could eat) and cream cheese frosting.  He ate half the three inch square piece of cake they cut.  I ate my piece, then the other half of his. 

The boy made out like a bandit, where food's concerned. 

I spent yesterday exhausted, and chair-bound.  Didn't get anything done, because my brain wouldn't work any better than my body would (and my body said "newp--you're sitting back down as soon as you've gotten your drink/gone to the bathroom/grabbed a snack-type lunch, because you did too much this past weekend"). 

Felt a little better when I woke up this morning...and then the kids happened. 

I got them chased around through morning routines, and...couldn't find my keys.  They'd gotten put back in the wrong pocket of my purse. 

Found keys.  Got the kids out and into the...no, they refused to get into the car.  "Oh, Mom, it smells awful!"

Got to the car, and found out they weren't exaggerating.  Pixie was gagging, imp had hand over nose and mouth, and both were backing away from the open doors.  Because it smelled like something had died in the car. 

Got the windows down, and got the kids in the car regardless, and got them dropped off at school.  Got home.  Sorted through the detritus in the front floorboard (not much), then the back (about six inches per side). 

There was nothing dead in the car.  There were, however, jackets that they'd played in the rain in, then left wadded down in the floorboards.  They'd soured.  To the point that they smelled like something had died in the car. 

On the plus side, I got the car mostly cleaned out.  However.  I think that may have been my limit of "I can do that chore" for today.  And it finished off a half-full trash bag of kids' graded school worksheets picked up over the last week or so.

Thank goodness taco casserole is easy to throw together.  And that the kids will help with that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Whew.

We put the old house on the market about...two months ago.  Had some interest, but no serious offers (really, who offers HALF the asking price?). 

Yeah, the house needs some work.  Mostly it's cosmetic, though.  Not structural.  That little house is well-insulated, and stout.  But, keeping in mind that it's an old house, and not particularly pretty, we did price it low for what it is.  And still weren't getting offers.  Not real ones, anyway. 

Until Friday.  Got an offer for about $4500 less than asking.  Met them sort of in the middle in the counter offer. 

This morning, I got a call from the realtor that the buyer had accepted the counter offer.  Closing is the fifteenth of next month. 

This is such a huge load off my mind. 

Yes, we're selling for less than we paid for it, despite having put in a second bathroom, new kitchen cabinets, and a privacy fence around the back yard.  But the reason we'd wanted to move in the first place was because the neighborhood was kinda running down.  People who were...not suited to anything better than a trailer park by their behavior bought the house next door.  In the neighborhood where it is, it's actually lost value over what we paid for it in '06, rather than gaining value like it would have done elsewhere.  We did a lot of work, but it still needs a lot more done, which we neither have the cash nor the inclination to do.*

But.

I will not be paying more than one more water bill.**  I will not be paying for insurance for another year on that house.  I will no longer be paying property taxes.  I will no longer be paying electricity on two houses.  

I'm done worrying about that house.  I'm done paying bills on that house.  And when it closes, we'll be able to do the things for this house that we need to do. 

First and foremost: we definitely need a primary heat system for when it's really cold.  A heat pump does not do the job when it drops below about 40 degrees.  Found that out the hard way last year when the emergency elements yielded us an $800 electric bill.

But that's for later.  Right now, I'm going to relax, edit a friend's work, write on my own stuff, and celebrate. 


*Our home needs work, too.  I'm a lot more inclined to spend the money we can on fixing the issues where we live.  Doing more at the old house wouldn't have netted us much more than we got.

**Our home is on a well.  I don't pay a water bill, here, just a trash bill. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Updates

So, apparently, the tragedy yesterday has a whole lot of fingers to point. 

The little girl in the trailer park on the south side of the road was running late.  The bus had already picked up from that stop (allegedly), but she missed it, and was trying to catch the bus at the turn-around. 

And a big rig, likely doing fifty or better through here, hit her.  It was 6:55 a.m.  The sun was starting to come up, it wasn't dark, and the sun wasn't up far enough to be in the driver's eyes, either.  He said he saw the bus, and thought he hit a mailbox (all of which are set so that he'd have had to go in the ditch), and lied about hitting a deer on the interstate to not get in trouble with his bosses. 

He was arrested more than fifty miles from here, in Strafford, after debris left at the scene was matched to his truck, and evidence on his truck matched back to the little girl.

I don't recall the bus ever stopping in the road out in front of my house.  I don't recall the bus doing pickups from the road in front of the house.  I am not sure if it turns into the trailer park.  But yesterday morning, it was in a driveway across the road from the trailer park, facing the trailer park.  Bus driver claims to have seen the whole thing. 

I'd say the city has a good bit of culpability in this, too, depending on their school bus policy and enforcement of such. Like I said: the speed limit isn't enforced out here, and there's no "school bus stop" sign anywhere.  There's at least that much fault to be assigned to them.  Hell, where that's concerned, maybe the case could be made that the county sheriff and/or highway patrol's partially at fault, since speed limits aren't enforced and it happened just outside city limits.

The little girl's mother...has already been punished.  I'm not going to dogpile on her like some of the locals have.  And they have.  And who knows?  My almost-eight-year-old is damn fast, and is often out the door and most of the way to the car before I can yelp on mornings we're running late. Maybe the parent(s) didn't have a chance to prevent it from happening. 

I will say that this is rage inducing.  I can't imagine why this wasn't avoided, even counting out the lying, careless son of a bitch that murdered a little girl by his negligence.  The city's policies should have prevented it.  The bus driver...unless they were not following policies set in place when they did as they did, I don't see how they have any responsibility for what happened. 

But the city...it wouldn't be the first child their school district has killed through their negligence.

And knowing the way the city council/school board works, this likely won't be the last child killed through their negligence, either.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Damn.

At 7:00 this morning, when kids are out near the ends of their driveways, waiting on the bus, one of the kids near where I live got hit by a semi.

I don't know a whole lot.

I know that there's no curbs.

I know that there's no sidewalks.

I know that there's a 45mph speed limit in front of my house.

I know that there's a whole lot of duplexes and other apartments across the road from me.

I know that a lot of kids live over there.

I know that there's no sign warning drivers of a bus stop.

I know that the big rig driver was eastbound, and likely had the sun in his or her eyes.

I know that the driver didn't stop.

I know that the highway patrol caught the driver.

I don't know if the kid survived.  I don't know if it was a boy or a girl.  I don't know if it was the little boy my kids are fairly well acquainted with--my neighbors' grandson.  I'm waiting for further information.

This day sucks.  

Update: Highway Patrol says that the child was an eight year old girl.  She didn't make it.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Adventures in parenting

Yesterday, I got the kids up at the usual time.  Got everybody hustled around, got sat down and started to work, and got hit with a nasty headache (got one starting now, too, damn it).  Got back up, got something to eat warmed up so that I could take something for said headache, and the phone rang.  It was the kids' school (and about 10:00 a.m.). 

The pixie had been hopping down the stairs on the bleachers in the gym before school, and had fallen.  She'd bumped her head a bit (no signs of concussion--they really need to check their bleachers for damage caused by her hard little head), and hurt her arm.  She tried really hard to power through, but by 10:00 a.m., it was becoming impossible for her to keep trying and writing.  It hurt too much. 

Yes, I went and got her.  She had a nasty, deep bruise starting to form on the outside of her hand, between her pinkie and wrist.  I gave her some Tylenol, and lunch.  And then I watched her for the day.  She did some of her work, but didn't get all of it done because her hand and wrist started hurting worse after the Tylenol started wearing off. 

So I sent her to urgent care with her daddy.  I probably should have taken her earlier, but I really thought the bruise on the hand was the extent of it. 

She's in a brace today.  The doc on call (was an asshole) said that it was likely a sprain, and he didn't see a break in the x-ray, but the radiologist would double check him.  He also upset the pixie and scared her half to death with a long monologue of everything that it could be, complete with complications, and a lack of concern for how a not-quite-eight-year-old girl would be able to mostly understand him, and be upset by his words and attitude. 

She went to bed at her usual time last night, but woke up after about an hour, unable to sleep because the brace was uncomfortable.  She tried for about an hour and a half to go back to sleep without any success, so I gave her some Benedryl, as much for the congestion and sniffles as anything.  But by that time, it was 9:30. 

We were slow getting around today.  And I don't know how her day's going. 

The imp...has been his normal, spazzy self.  And we think he may have a learning disability related to writing.  We already know about the ADHD and the difficulty paying attention to details, but that there was another disability that may be at work was a little bit of a surprise. 

About halfway through last year, his spelling grades tanked.  Seriously tanked.  As in: he was spelling the words correctly to me verbally, but was getting 70% and lower on tests.  Stupid mistakes, leaving out letters as he was writing words, writing too big and illegibly...the teacher adapted his spelling tests, and his grades came up. 

This year, there was no grace period.  No point at which his spelling was doing well.  We've had two tests out of five with decent to good grades--the rest have been like the latter half of last year.  Same problem. 

He may have a writing disability. 

However, that means he just has to work harder to achieve the same results as his classmates.  No, he doesn't want to.  However, I'm no longer giving him a choice.  Last week, he was having trouble spelling two words, one of which was "adjective"--which is understandable, but still.  Verbally, he was on with every other word.  Written, for the test?  He missed spelling something like a third of his list correctly, instead of only the two I was expecting. 

The week before, we'd managed an A. 

The difference was in how he'd studied.  The only difference was in how he'd studied.  He'd gone from writing the entire list two times every day to studying it verbally for ten minutes every day. 

We're going back to what worked. 

Even though it's harder for him.  Writing a list of 20 words twice takes him almost an hour, and there are always at least two errors per list that he has to go back and fix, which is an additional three minutes per error.  He has that hard of a time with it.  (By contrast, his sister takes ten minutes to write out a list of fifteen words twice, with everything coming out correctly.)

I'm also teaching him home-key typing on a netbook purchased just for him and the pixie to learn things like this on.  Because that's one of the suggested work-arounds for the specific learning disability that we suspect. 

He knows the words.  He knows how to spell them, and has an utterly phenomenal memory for these things.  He just can't get every one of the letters properly pushed from brain through fingers onto paper. 

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.

But.

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

BLOODY OW!!!!

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

Whups.

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.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Moar books...

Friday was a lot of fun.  The pixie'd been begging us all summer to take her to the George Washington Carver National Monument, just a little ways southeast of here.  Odysseus took the day off Friday, and we went.*

It was a really great spot to explore.  They've got a lot of hands-on stuff at the visitor's center (including a reproduction of a one-room schoolhouse), and a 3/4 mile walking trail around the Carver farm.

And then we went to a used bookstore.  Both kids had gotten into The Magic Treehouse book series, and we found several (and several nonfiction companion books).  Got them a stack of books about 8" high.

(You know you've done things right when the kids are jumping and excited when you pull into a bookstore parking lot, then settle down and make a bee-line straight for their section at a fast walk.)

Didn't get any for the adults, though.  We're gonna have to limit us to the KU subscription we've got.

That said, we've got a lot of choice.

We recently read Jim Curtis's latest, and I finished Dorothy Grant's latest, last night (and will likely spring for a copy when the budget permits).  Next up:

Cyn Bagley



First one's a short story/novella, second is the first in a two-book (so far) series.  I plan to read both books, because the concept looks really fun.  

William Lehman



L. A. Behm



Pam Uphoff



Not my usual fare--I typically do NOT like other women, even in stories--but...pirates.  Hopefully getting their asses kicked.

Lot of others that are interesting, but I can't afford to purchase, given that both my and my other half's headphones failed within days of each other, and they're not KU.

Damn it.

*I've been paying for it since, but it was worth it.  But now, I need books for me. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Library monsters

We now have a large bookcase in the bedroom.  I'm sorting through my library bookcases, thinking about all of the books on terms of suitability for kids reading them, because the kids' library is a hair young and small for them (they were thrilled because their one bookcase has grown to two, because they know that means Mom and Dad will fill it for them), and some of the grown-up books are looking...interesting.

Now, YA is not my thing.  I really don't care for coming of age stories in general, and haven't for a long time.  But I need to start stocking those (and nonfiction books for a boy who loves science and history), and other kids' novels. And I've spotted a few that look good.

The kids already have a copy of my children's book in their bookcase.  I'm planning on adding a couple of Robin McKinley's novels, too, once I'm sure my little library monsters are going to be careful enough.  My copies of the Little House books, however, are NOT going on their shelves--they're sentimental, and fragile (they belonged to my maternal grandma, who passed away the year the imp was born).

I've been looking for new books by indie authors to go on their shelves.  I've got a few picked out:



The reviewer says this one reads a bit like the Little House books.  It's going first on my list of "to reads" when I'm done with my current KU borrow.

Then there's this one:



The blurb reminds me of a book I'd read while in college.  The title escapes me, but I remembered liking it, and if I recall correctly, it had some inappropriate for kids material in it.  If this one is as good, I'm sure the kids will love it when they find it.

And a pair of medieval fantasy novels that I think my daughter would enjoy immensely:



I think these, with what will remain on the main library shelves, will be enough to get started with for now.  I may well spot more in the future. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Best Christmas Present EVER!!!*

Odysseus got me a PowerCooker for Christmas.  I'd been eyeballing them for a while, and just before Christmas last year, they were marked $20 off their usual price at Sam's Club for their Advantage members.** 

Fast forward seven months. 

It's hot as hell.  I don't wanna cook and heat up my kitchen.  Lots of baking's been done on the propane grill, and some skillet cooking (the lovely thing's got a side burner).  But I ran out of frozen roast slices.  Which I love for fast lunches with little bother.*** 

Even the crock pot heats the kitchen up a bit. 

Since I hadn't been cooking, I'd had some energy to do some work in the kitchen, cleaning and rearranging to free up a grounded plug in (this house doesn't have many), and only two of the plugins in the kitchen proper are grounded.  And only one of those was really accessible. 

Yeah, I got the counter cleared, got the pressure cooker pre-cleaned, and read the directions.  And then I made roast.  And then I cleaned it up again, and made another one.

And then I made my version of chicken fajitas with brown rice.  Which...didn't turn out quite as well.  Because apparently, you gotta have a heavier hand with the seasoning with the pressure cooker than you do when you make the same dish on the stovetop to get the meat to taste right.  But.  The chicken was so tender that when I tried to cut it up after I'd cooked it (from frozen), it just...fell apart.  Totally.  This thing is going to make killer pulled chicken in salsa.

And then...then Odysseus asked me, "Would that make the stew meat turn out that tender in the stew meat fajitas?"  Turns out, that was the only reason he didn't really like those as well.

The answer...is yes.  Yes, it does.  Very much.

That was delicious.

And makes four days' worth of lunch for Odysseus for next week, instead of sandwiches every day.

PowerCooker Beef Fajitas

1c brown rice
1lb-1.5lb beef stew meat
2 cans ro-tel
1/2 c water or broth (I used Sam's Choice Beef Bone Broth)

Put meat in pressure cooker (if yours has a saute-function, you can brown it with the seasoning first--I didn't bother.  Add rice, ro-tel, and liquid, stir to mix.  Fasten lid.  Use rice/risotto button, and then add time (needs about 25 minutes).  Turn around, walk out of kitchen, and wait for beep.  Go back, use the safe-release valve to release the pressure, then stir. 

If there's more liquid than you like, you can either let some of the liquid simmer out, eat it like soup (which was good, by the way), or use a slotted spoon to serve.   

*Gents.  Do not, I repeat, do NOT get your wives/girlfriends/significant others any type of appliance for a birthday or holiday unless they ASK FOR IT for that holiday.  Your safety depends on this.

**The $100/yr membership at Sam's Club has some significant advantages: frequent discounts on things you typically get anyway (like $2 off cases of ro-tel, or Nutella, or peanut butter, or other groceries), and gives you a cash reward at the end of a specific period.  We haven't paid for our Sam's Club membership out of pocket in about five years, now.  

***Fast lunch: pull out slice of leftover roast, nuke it, slap it on a Wasa cracker with some flavored mayo and cheese, and eat.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Changing the focus

Recently, I've noted some really, really, really irritating songs.  The two worst offenders are both from Papa Roach, and they are straight-up diametric opposites: "Help" and "Born to Greatness." 

The first one is naval-gazing, whining, and turns having feelings into a need for someone to help him.  Depression.  Yeah, it happens.  It happens to everyone.  It's--get this--being sad.  There are a lot of people out there who are sad.  Not as many have a genuine chemical imbalance in their brain that must be medicated for semi-normal function. 

Don't get me wrong, those people exist.  And those with chronic, clinical depression cannot function without the right medication to trick their brain into providing its own needs, or to provide the chemical needs for the brain that cannot create its own. 

However.  I'd say that the vast majority of people are simply feeling disconnected, and just need family or friends (or a talk-therapist, in a pinch, but family or friends would be better), rather than their electronic device that's creating the distance between them and others. 

The other one...yeah.  That one.  Talking about the generation of twits thinking they're entitled to anything they want, without having to work for it, just because they exist, and Mommy and Daddy think they're the best thing ever since time began.  That they, and ONLY they, can make the world better, nevermind that they're naval-gazing twits that follow already-failed theories and ideologies.  That the people that are in favor of keeping this country a republic aren't being fair, because we're arguing about what's on the menu and refusing to be eaten, while being backed up by force of law and force of arms.

Okay, then.  The most interesting thing about this is that the "Help" generation and the "Greatness" generation are the same

The scary thing is that they could be a massive force if they changed the focus.  For good or ill.  If they'd change from "what's wrong with me" to "how can I get through this to do what I need to do to get what I want," they'd have a lot more power--mostly over themselves. 

I have the distinct impression that a lot of them would look at the controls that the "feelz" types want to put on the "thinking man" and be disgusted. 

I know I was. 

When I was about fourteen, I read Orwell's 1984.  It...resonated.  This was during the period the state was using my mom as an unpaid foster parent from whom I could be removed if she so much as sneezed without permission.  I spiralled into depression, because there was literally nothing I could do--at that point--to change my situation.  I read Dune, and saw parallels between the way people worshipped the main character and the way certain types had replaced God with government, and felt worse. 

I'd seen the trap I was in.  What I didn't see was the exit.

When I was 15, I developed ulcers started having really debilitating panic attacks.  I...detatched.  I dove head-first into reading, and retreated as much as I could from reality, and the ulcers healed and didn't come back.  The panic attacks didn't.  Any time I surfaced, they were there.  So was the feeling of being trapped and overwhelmed by my reality.

Keep in mind, at this time I was still forced into weekly "supervised visits" with my abuser (and the supervisor was one of his allies).

When I was 17, I was diagnosed with depression triggered by learned helplessness.  And the counselor who figured this out?  Pointed out that I was damn near 18.  Argued to the court that I should be allowed to choose whether or not to "visit" with my abuser. 

My grades shot up.  And my panic attacks tapered off in frequency, but not severity.  But.  I learned to deal with them, and get through them.  I learned how to push them off until I had time to let it happen and get through it. 

And I got through college (with the help of my then-boyfriend for the first year of college, now-husband).  In spite of continuing panic attacks.

Without medication, since I reacted incredibly badly to it.*  Or, since I'd aged out of the system, further "professional" help. 

Because my focus had changed.  From "what's wrong with me" to "let's do this in spite of what's wrong with me."

I have the feeling that if the "mental health" industry would refocus from drugging those seeking help to teaching coping tactics (after they dope-slapped the self-absorbed out of their own egos), the far, radical Left currently throwing public tantrums would be far, far smaller. 

Although...that might be why the meds and crippling sympathy are all that's handed out.  People blinded by their self-absorption don't see the strings being tied onto them by the puppet-masters.

*Most anti-anxiety drugs made things worse.  So did anti-depressants.  And the oldest one, Prozac, removed almost all of my self-control and increased my rage to near-homicidal levels, and it took seven or eight years for me to stabilize after that.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Not sure why charges were even considered.

Last week, we had an incident in the town where I live (large town--about 75K people living in the town proper plus the bedroom communities).  A pedestrian decided to try to cross one of the busiest streets in town.  Not at a cross walk.  Against the lights. 

The inevitable happened. 

The individual driving will not be charged. 

Thing is, I don't see why that was even considered.  The street in question has a 45mph speed limit, two lanes going either direction, plus a left turn lane in the middle.  Most of the people who live here don't like crossing that road.  But for whatever reason, the pedestrian decided to not just cross that road, but jaywalk through traffic.

Yes, they died.  But it was a result of their own stupidity. 

I don't know, maybe they were on a cell phone and not paying attention...but that doesn't make it any less stupid.

I honestly can't bring myself to feel sorry for the pedestrian.  Their family, yes, but not them.  That kind of stupid really shouldn't be let out on its own.  It's one of the reasons I'm trying to brainwash my kids to call stupid what it is, and to not participate in it. 

No, the person I feel the worst for is the driver.    Because they have an accidental death on their conscience, through absolutely no fault of their own (given traffic on that road, they may have saved lives by not hitting the brakes and causing a massive pile-up--even if they had time to stop, nobody around them would have been able to avoid hitting them).

The only negligence I see is that of the pedestrian, and they've already paid for that. 

Charges for the driver shouldn't have been even a brief consideration, given the rest of the facts.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Bit of a rant.

I've seen a lot of people screeching incoherently about children being ripped from nursing at their mothers' breasts, and separated and put in *gasp* concentration camps!!!

What these fucktards are conveniently forgetting is one simple thing these parents could have done to prevent this from being done to their families:

Don't.  Come.  Here.  Illegally

Fucking duh

American parents who commit crimes are ripped away from their children and sent to prison.  If there are no family members available to take custody of the children, they're put into situations worse than most can comprehend: the children get stuck in limbo, in state custody and control.  They may be put into a good foster home, or they may be put with abusers who might rape them or murder them. 

And nobody screams about that. 

No, they're just screeching like fucking psychologically disturbed brain damaged monkeys about the people who shouldn't be fucking coming here in the first place, getting their children removed from them. 

Well, dumbasses, I can see another possible solution: start shooting the human smugglers on sight.  Shoot any male who crosses the border on sight.  Turn any female around, and make sure she knows there are guns aimed at her until she's well and truly back in the country she tried to cross from.  They'll stop, or they'll die out.  Either is fine by me.

No, I'm not saying I think the situation is right.  I'm saying the situation is wrong, starting with the actions of the so-called parents putting their children in the danger that the fucking window-lickers are screeching about.

I think that, along with shooting the smugglers and adult males crossing (especially those with specific tattoos), we need to publicly prosecute any hiring manager of any company that hires illegal aliens (not immigrants--immigrants are legal), and every employee of any temp agency that deals with them.  Every hiring manager needs to be sentenced to a mandatory ten years per illegal alien hired, no parole possible, consecutive sentencing only.  We need to sentence the construction companies picking up day laborers from the Home Depot/Lowes/whatever parking lots the same way. 

Hell, I'm in favor of sentencing those pushing the DACA act with the same guidelines.  

We need to make it hurt for those attracting the parasites. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Adventures in parenting

I found out, this week, why my son hadn't been using his Kindle Fire, in spite of adoring the silly thing: it had somehow gotten de-registered to the account, and the WiFi was switched to airplane mode.  NO clue how. 

I also have no clue how I managed to figure out how to fix it.  I am a barely competent user of MS Word, and of some aspects of Firefox.  My personal Kindle is a Paperwhite (which I dearly love, and which is very much uncomplicated).

Also, this week, the kids had day camp at their school: a 2 hr/day, 4 day class on using iPads.  And playing coding games. 

Yep.  Coding games. 

I am inclined to get the kids a netbook and make the home page Khan Academy.  I want them to learn to take care of their tech better than I've learned, and earlier. 

(there are also a few touch-typing game sites I'd be setting them up with) 

Other than that?  They've been playing outside with water pistols, watching TV, and doing normal kid summer stuff this week. 

Including complaining of being bored and pushing boundaries. 

I need to find something else to have them do--swim lessons, VBS, something.  I got them sidewalk chalk and Popsicle molds today (which have been filled and stuck in the giant upright freezer in the garage).  But they need more, especially while we've got mid-90s (or more) highs, and no lower than 60% humidity daily, with not enough wind to offset that.

I've got two more months and they go back to school. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Love it!

So, back in January, I got m'self a new pair of headphones.  Spent more than I usually do on headphones on them, too--around $50 for the one pair.  They're wireless-capable, but also have an audio cable jack. 

Which is why I bought them in the first place. 

Previously, my headphones had failed right where the wire goes into the jack on the end that plugs into the computer, somewhere between the three and six month mark.  The headphones themselves likely would have kept working, were it not for that one spot.  Every time. 

My headphones' audio cable broke day before yesterday.  So I unplugged the audio cable, set it up to listen to music wirelessly, and put in an order for new cables from Amazon--5' cables, rather than the dinky 3' one that came with the headphones. 

These headphones are very good in sound quality: balance of treble and bass is very good, and everything is just crystal clear.  They're incredibly comfortable, too--I have, in the past, worn them all day without winding up with my ears sore from pressure.  And, if the kids are watching something utterly obnoxious (a frequent occurance), I can unplug and just wander around doing housework with the headphones blocking out the crap they like watching. 

The replacements arrived today, and the 5' length means it's easier to work at my desk.  An extra two feet of audio cable means I don't have to sit hunched forward to listen to music.  I can lean back and stretch without either taking off the headphones voluntarily or getting them yanked off when I forget how short three feet is.  Best yet?  Four cables from Amazon (at about $8) was less than a decent set of cheap headphones (at least $15, going sharply up from there) that won't last but maybe six months. 

And then, when all four of the cables have broken, I can get another set.  Because I really doubt the headphones themselves will have worn out by then. 

And when you consider that the headphones themselves are vital writing equipment?  Massively good deal, here. 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Dumb dog.

So.  Yesterday, we got up as usual on weekend mornings, and found that the kids had let the dog out (also like usual on weekend mornings).

What wasn't like usual was that either the imp or pixie had messed up.  The gate was ajar.

And the dog...got out.  And vanished.

We looked for her, ran the mower (partially because it needed it, partially because we thought it'd bring her out of hiding), looked for her again, left a message with the humane society.

Found out from the neighbor that the dog catcher had been just east of us, very early yesterday morning.  So I checked the Humane Society's page again, where they post pictures of lost pets.  Sure enough--she was there.



They're closed today.  Sad dog in doggie jail's gonna have to wait for her bail-out until tomorrow afternoon.

And then, directly following, she's getting a bath and shorn like a kid going into boot camp.

Maybe not a dumb dog...maybe she planned it?  Because the bath and haircut were on the schedule for yesterday. 

Update:  Dog has been bailed out, and is home sleeping on her patio.  She rode home in the back seat of the Subaru, alternating which child's lap she was in at any given moment.  Lots of giggles and doggie kisses.  

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pens! And Ink! And Paper!

I've been craving new pens for a while.  And new, pretty inks.  It wasn't helped by Odysseus suggesting that the next volume in the Liquid Diet Chronicles (to be written after I finish the current project of the 4th, but CLEARLY not last Modern Gods book, at this point in the writing process) should be done in a burgundy or dark crimson.

Anyhow, I resisted the temptation...and then I gave in.  Odysseus told me to go ahead and make the order I was considering from Goulet Pens, and I did.  I ordered a Platinum Preppy because I've heard a lot about the silly little $4 pens (yeah, they're cheap, and kinda ugly, but damn do they write well), a TWSBI vac mini (it posts, was a little bit less than the full sized one, and something I'd been really wanting for a while, now), a sample of Noodler's Black Swan in English Roses (gorgeous, water-resistant red burgundy), and a full bottle of their Red-Black (which looks like you wrote in blood, and it dried).

I hadn't ordered pens or ink for myself in about a year.  And Odysseus told me that this was my early (but not by a lot) anniversary present.*

I also ordered a set of Jinhao shark pens for my imp, who held his grades to all A's and B's (with the exception of his handwriting, which is still better than his daddy's).  My imp, who loves snitching my fountain pens, and requests a few inked up with his favorite colors every so often, gave me one of his set of seven pens, and gave the pixie another.  And the dumb little things are absolutely spectacularly nice writers.  The little black shark in Chinese fine (finer than European fine) is incredibly smooth.

In any case, my fingers are ink-stained a bit, I have spatters on my left shin from where I dropped an ink syringe that I was using to fill a converter from a sample vial for the pixie, and I couldn't be happier.

In other news, my local Walmart had finally restocked their smaller Pen+Gear brand smaller 5-subject notebooks.   Hadn't happened in a while, and my current favorite is that particular notebook that I'd written out the rough of Bite Sized in (I'm excited--that book has eight reviews, more than any single one of my other books, and all are 5-star), and am working through drafting Gods and Monsters in the second section.  Walmart had three left.   

Had.

I now have those notebooks in mint green (my old one), royal blue, red, and black. 

I also snagged a package of their top-spiral memo books and mini-comp-books (same size as the little spiral books)--at $0.88 cents a pack (three in the comp book pack, four in the spiral memos), it was worth a try.  I'm shocked and thrilled by how well they stand up under fountain pen ink, and am now questioning my choice to give the kids one of each out of the two packages to go with their new composition books.

Hi, my name is HH, and I'm a pen and paper nerd.  And I share the voices in my head with anyone who wants a listen.  

*I've already collected part of his Father's Day gifts, and know what I'm doing for his anniversary presents. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

So glad I'm so far down the alphabet list as an author

I don't think I'm going to be targeted any time soon by cry-bullies. 

It's a damn good thing, too--I have a strategy in mind that I can't afford to use, yet.  Maybe (probably) not for a very long time, assuming I ever get there. 

If I ever get targeted by cry-bullies, and I can afford to hire a lawyer, I'm going to sue for three things:

1. A public, written apology, published at the instigator's cost in at least four "reputable" national publications (NYT, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and Time, for example).

2. Said apology will include a detailed retraction of the lies (i.e., what was said, what the truth was, and an analysis of the difference between the two) as well as a statement explaining their motivation (to silence someone they disagree with), and that they're a failure at life in general so feel inclined to attempt to ruin others' reputations.

3. All court costs are their responsibility. 

Honestly, I think all authors who run into this kind of terrorism should sue for something similar (not money, because they frequently don't have it). 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Woah, the stupid...it burns...

To quote Han Solo, I've got a bad feeling about this

Basically, several states have decided to work on legislation to hand the state's electoral votes to whoever wins the popular vote nationwide. 

This is what is known as "a very bad thing." 

What this does is ensure that whoever wins the East and West Coast votes wins the whole shebang, no matter who wins the vote in the states passing this.  It silences the voices of the state's voters. 

That's gonna end badly for absolutely everyone involved.  Really, really badly.  As in, CW2 badly. 

I don't want that.  I don't want that for my kids.  I don't want that even for the idiots who haven't the sense God gave a domesticated turkey that are pushing for this.  Because they're the ones that are going to die first, and they're going to die ugly, in ways I don't want for even child molesters. 

It would be far quicker and more humane to start enforcing the laws about sedition and treason written into the Constitution, and executing those working against the direct best interest of the nation in favor of failed political ideologies that would see the Constitution scrapped. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Huge load off my mind.

Last fall, I was let go from my teaching position. It was, overall, a good thing, but...

My income had been going straight to savings to pay tuition for the kids to go to private school for the past four years. 

This year, tuition went up by about $500 for the both of them.  It's still relatively low, but I wasn't sure it wasn't going to put it out of reach.  I talked to the business office, and they said there's financial aid through the school available. 

So, I applied.  I've been squirreling money away like we'd have to pay full tuition.  I currently have their full tuition bill in the savings, and have had for a couple weeks.  That, and Missouri just changed the rules on the education savings accounts to permit payment to private schools from that. 

We do have the money, even without financial aid, but we'd go from "can weather an emergency" to "can maybe keep the money market account open."  Maybe.

I applied for the financial aid in March, when it opened up.  I've been watching my email like a hawk.
The announcement didn't go to my email.  It went to Odysseus's.  We only noticed because his mom emailed something to both of us, and he wanted to read the details.  We found the email from the kids' school, then.  

We got it.  The school has granted us a good-sized tuition reduction, over the sibling discount that the pixie was already getting. 

That puts us from "can maybe keep the money market open" to "fully funded emergency fund." 

Yes, we're going to celebrate somehow.  Haven't decided just how, yet. 

No, I'm not going to stop squirreling money away like crazy.  In spite of the fact that our tax refund check next year should be bigger, partially because of tax code changes (thank you, Mr. President, for pushing the extra child tax credit and decreasing taxes a little bit in other areas for most workers), and partially because the EITC will be a little bigger without the $9K/yr pre-tax that was my salary for teaching college classes, I'm not going to stop squirreling money away.  Because insurance is coming up in October, then taxes in December.  And tuition next year.  And I want a fully funded emergency fund, plus all of the rest.

But for now, I'm just basking in the relief that our current load is going to be far less than I'd anticipated. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

I don't miss it.

It's the end of the first semester I haven't taught since I started teaching in fall of '03 as a graduate teaching assistant. 

When I first started teaching, I loved it.  I loved helping students go from terrified of writing to kind of taking for granted that they'd be able to do it, and do it well.  I didn't think I'd ever stop loving it.

I was wrong.  I don't know exactly when it happened, but at some point, I just...stopped enjoying it.  I'm not sure when, so it had to have been a gradual process.  I can't even put my finger on where I started to hate it, even. 

It wasn't just the grading.  I always hated that.  I came to hate student attitudes toward classes, professors, and each other. 

I am glad to be off campus.  Literally the only thing I miss about teaching is the paycheck.  And I may be able to eventually replace that income by writing (even if I'm not holding my breath). 

This post was brought to you by Facebook's ridiculous "your memories" suggested posts, and the post about turning in final grades last spring.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Guess what?

I started the publication process on the new book, last night.  Said it would take up to 72 hours to go live (and it usually takes a good while). 

Nuh-uh.  It was live when I woke up this morning.

It's the first of a new series: The Liquid Diet Chronicles.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Oof.

I picked up a cold last week.  Started feeling it on Friday.  I mostly have it shaken off, now, but I'm at the point of getting over it where I feel a constant need to cough and my throat's dry, but there's nothing there

During this mess, I had an outside editing project to do.  And I kept zoning out to the point I'd blink, be aware my eyes were painfully dry, and realize it was half an hour or more after I'd last glanced at the clock.  Because I was sick. 

Yeah, I do that anyway, but not for that length of time, and I'm usually thinking.  This was a lot more like falling asleep without actually closing my eyes. 

I'm feeling a lot better.  Hell, I was starting to feel better as of Sunday (even if I was still feeling pretty awful).  But I'm definitely on the mend. 

Which means it's time to get back to work, this time on my own stuff.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Almost there...

I have been looking for a good, gluten free, thin-crust pizza crust recipe.

I think I've found the base of one.  I'm playing with it.  It's based on this one, sort of.  Maybe.  A little.  Well, that one and the more biscuit style pizza crust on the back of the gluten free Bisquick box.

I've cut it down significantly, since I'm the only one in the house that can't eat real pizza.  I've taken it down from 2 c flour to 1/2 c.  And I'm using Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour.

Following the other recipe, though, had a heavy, doughy crust.  Really heavy.  Like, break the floor if you drop it heavy.  I talked to my sister, who's a pretty gifted baker, and she suggested adding baking soda.  Asked me about how much flour I was using, and suggested half a teaspoon.

It helped.

But now, I need to play with other proportions.

Because baking soda makes it taste salty.  And I am still working on finding the right amount of salt.

At the moment, what I've got is this:

1/2 c gluten free flour
1/2 t baking soda
some salt (still playing with amounts)  Leave the salt out, and it's perfect

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Italian herb blend
about 1/4 c water, give or take

It's easiest to mix this with your hands.  Because you've got to be able to feel the texture of the dough: too sticky, and you need more flour; too crumbly/dry, and you need more liquid.  Getting the dough to stick to itself actually works best if you sort of knead it in your mixing bowl.  Then you sort of shape it into a ball, and roll it out on your pizza pan (if you can--it's easiest if you can get a flat pan or stone instead of a pan with a lip).  Or, you can roll it out between sheets of waxed paper.  Roll it THIN, too.

Oil the top, or it won't brown, and it will absorb the sauce.  Hell, it tries anyway.  Then bake it at 425 for about 5 minutes.  Pull it out, top it, then put it back for about 5-8 more minutes, or until the cheese is browned.  If you're feeling adventurous, slide it off the pan/stone onto the bare rack for that last bit of baking. 

It's still crumbly.  But it's better than most of the gluten free crusts and pizzas I've tried.  And it's a hell of a lot cheaper to do it that way than to get the frozen Udi's crusts (2 for $6), or any of the frozen gluten free pizzas (one half-naked one for $6).  And a giant FUCKING hell of a lot cheaper than getting a gluten free pizza at any place that actually makes/serves them.*

I'm pretty happy with this recipe.  But I'm going to keep playing with it until I get it as close to right as pizza crust substitute can get.

*One place locally charges the same for a 10" gluten free pizza as they do a medium hand-tossed crust.  The other charges as much as a medium deep dish pizza.  And you're also trusting that the kitchen is keeping your pizza away from the ones that will bring gut pain. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

I need a nap.

I didn't get a chance for coffee this morning before I had to hit the ground running.  Today was the kids' school's grandparents day--the day where the elementary school opens its doors and shows off what the kids are doing for their grandparents. 

And my mother in law wanted to have the imp come home with her afterwards.  So I had to make sure and get him to pack for overnight while doing the rest of the morning stuff.  It was just enough more than usual that I forgot Odysseus's tea (sorry, hon), and my coffee. 

I got the kids dropped off, and got the Walmart groceries gotten, then got them back out to the car.  And found out that I had forgotten to get the cooler bags back out into the car.*

Okay, then.

Got the perishables home and in, realized the trash hadn't gotten to the curb, and checked the levels.  Not much, and we have some crazy-strong wind straight out of the south.  I decided NOT to put it out because I didn't want to chase the empty barrel across the county heading north.

Got to Sam's Club (finally) and they had drinkable coffee.  Had a single, small cup as I did my shopping and got home.  Got stuff put away (again).

Took a deep breath, and dove into straightening up the living room a bit, and the entry way.  I was pretty sure my mother-in-law wouldn't have time to stay and visit, so I focused mostly on the easily visible.  Got that done, and collapsed for a few minutes.  Let the dog out.  Then cleaned the cats' box.  Then let the dog back in.   

She's been in and out all day--when I said the wind was blowing really hard, I wasn't kidding.  Dog didn't want to be out in it.  She doesn't really want to be inside, either, though.  Poor thing.

And by that time, the kids were turned loose.  Lunch. 

And now.  Now, I'm exhausted.  I'd love to have a nap, but there's a pixie watching the old Wonder Woman series on DVD in the other room.  So sleep is a bit out of the question.

So I'm picking up that editing job I'd agreed to, starting now.  The faster I get that done, the faster I can get back to my stuff. 



*I keep two Mylar-lined bags rolled up in the back compartment of the Subaru.  We've used those to keep frozen custard frozen hard for a more-than-an-hour drive.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Roundabout.

I had one of the people I used to teach with (who quit teaching after she got threatened by sand lice for A's) contacted me last week.  One of her former students had contacted her about a friend's father-in-law who'd written a memoir, and wanted to hire someone to proofread and edit that memoir.  And she thought of me. 

I replied that I'd be happy to, and I've been put in contact with the individual in question. 

I was expecting something like a hundred pages--somebody's parent's half-told life story.  What I got was almost 300 pages.  I set a rate, and I received the ms. this morning. 

I'll be working through that starting this weekend, or later this week.  After I've handed Bite Sized off to my beta reader victims volunteers.

But that has been one hell of a roundabout way to get an editing gig.  And very much un-looked-for.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Gah.

If it's not one thing, it's another. 

We got our hands on the car title, so that went right, yesterday.  After figuring out that the idiots that'd rehabbed the old house had messed us up with our plans for the kitchen (since figured out how we're going to keep going with the plans, though, so that's okay).  We dropped that and the spare keys for the old car off at the dealership where we found the new truck, and found out they had to special order a special front plate bracket since the truck has two small turbochargers to boost to the same power as the V-8 with better gas mileage.  And they hadn't ordered it yet.

I went to make my son's favorite breakfast, last night, only to find that the bulk sausage was a good bit past its use by date (I'd gotten it some time ago, so...my fault).  And had gone off.  So I shrugged, and made plans to go to the store this morning.  Instead of Friday. 

Well, this morning, the pixie started complaining that her tummy hurt.  Nothing actionable, and no fever, so I told her to go ahead and eat, because she might be hungry.  It took her an hour to eat.  And then, she threw up, right when I was getting stuff together to take them to school. 

No shopping trip for me.  She's laying on the couch, watching Pixar and Disney, and drifting in and out of sleep.  So, yeah.  Sick.  Just no fever with it. 

I'll be checking if she's hungry in a few minutes.  I think she'd have told me, but I don't know if she's feeling it.  Or sleeping. 


Monday, April 9, 2018

I hate vinyl wallpaper

When we bought our first house, it had vinyl wallpaper in the room farthest from the street--the one we decided to add a bathroom to, to turn it into a master suite.  Because farther from the street is supposed to mean quieter.*

We spent almost a week stripping that shit out.  It came off the wall in postage stamp sized pieces.  Didn't matter what we used.  We had to puncture it, then spray it with something, then scrape.  Then repeat. 

I still shudder at the memory.

The former master bedroom had an accent wall with a green, textured wallpaper.  Soft sage.  Really pretty...until the imp, at three years old, started picking at seams and peeled parts of it loose.  Last month, I sent Odysseus and the imp over to finish the job the boy started...and they found a layer of vinyl wallpaper underneath. 

We painted over that shit. 

The kitchen also has some.  Halfway up the wall, like wainscotting.  With border laid over the top.  It's dark, makes the cave of a kitchen darker than it needs to be, and the border is peeling in places, firmly cemented in place at other places. 

And the top of the mess is 39" above the baseboard.  Which is 2" high.  So, 41" total. 

I've checked.  Beadboard wainscotting to cover it is 32" high per panel.  The bottom trim board is 3.5," and the top one is 2.5."  That comes up to...not nearly enough. 

Is there such a thing as leveling compound to cover wallpaper for painting.  Because that shit ain't coming down without a fight that I don't have in me. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Some thoughts on short-sighted business practice...

There was a lot of sadness surrounding Toys'R'Us's bankruptcy.  I'm not terribly sure if it was nostalgia, or sadness at one of the last great toy stores closing down. 

What I am sure of is that it's their own damn fault. 

I first went to Toys'R'Us when the imp was a tiny baby, still in the NICU.  They were one of the only local stores with Medela breast milk bags that fit the pump the hospital had rented to me, and the others had those things priced at almost twice what the baby side of Toys'R'Us had them for. 

The sales staff were rude as hell to a mama with a baby in the NICU.  I asked if they had more than the single package hanging on the hook (because WOW, was I producing), and when did they restock.  The clerk yelled "How the hell would I know?" and stormed off. 

Uh, I dunno, Skippy...maybe I asked you because you were restocking the section RIGHT NEXT TO the breastfeeding supplies.

(They were rather overstocked with the strips to test breast-milk for alcohol levels...Not something that the demographic typically shopping there tended to need.  Now, Walmart, on the other hand...Walmart needs to stock those, and doesn't, as far as I know.)

Strike one.  Because there was a manager visible in the intersection of the aisle crossing the front and the aisle heading for the back, and nothing was said, or done.  An approach and an apology would have gone a long way toward diffusing my growing decisions not to shop there again.

It was the last time I bought breastfeeding supplies there, in any case.  Amazon had 'em cheaper, delivered to my door, and had much better customer interactions (i.e., I didn't have to deal with people). 

Several months later, when the weather was warming up, we decided to take the imp to Toys'R'Us to see if there was anything he'd like to get.  Especially since he was getting really good at expressing opinions on things he liked.  I noted something...distressing.  None of the baby toys were especially well-made: the soft toys had seams that looked like they'd split if the toys were loved on and played with, and a lot of things advertised for babies were either made in China and painted, or had warnings of small parts, and were labeled choking hazards and not to be put in the mouth.  And the prices for this cheap, inappropriate shit!  Good God!  We went to Books-A-Million, instead, and found vinyl books and better made, cheaper toys.  Went to Walmart and found board books and better made, cheaper toys. 

Strike two. 

We didn't go back until after the Pixie was born.  And then, only because we'd gotten a gift certificate from...someone.  I don't remember who.  So, we went back. 

And they'd added strike three since we'd been there last: a legal gun free zone posting. 

Those are the three reasons we stopped shopping at Toys'R'Us.  Your mileage might have varied. 

However, that wasn't all: in an article I read about the bankruptcy, the execs blamed fewer children being born (yeah?  Really?  Or just fewer born to the demographic most likely to shop there?).   Seems legit, on the surface. 

Then a list of Planned Parenthood donors came out.  And Toys'R'Us had donated one of the biggest dollar amounts. 

Wait, what?  Toys'R'Us whines about fewer children being born, while...paying...for...abortions. 

Wow. 

I'm not stunned that Toys'R'Us went under.  I'm shocked they stayed afloat for as long as they did with this kind of rampant stupidity.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bloody hell.

I put a roast in the crock pot this morning.  It's been torturing me for the past hour, and won't be ready until 4:00, at the earliest.  It almost didn't fit in the crock pot. 

Yeah, it's that big.  It'll feed Odysseus, Imp and Pixie (who LOVE roast), and me for supper tonight.  It will also make for great frozen, sliced leftovers for sandwiches for several more meals. 

But yeah.  I'm being tortured. 

I spent Monday tearing the house apart looking for spare keys to the car we just traded in (LONG story), and made a mess.  I spent yesterday tearing the house apart looking for the title to said car, since it wasn't where we "remembered" it being.  I finally remembered where I'd seen it last: in the safe deposit box.  The safe deposit box we'd lost the keys to.  Sort of.  One of them is under the porch at the old place. 

That's the one we're going to be going for today.  And I'll get the title tomorrow morning, as soon as the bank opens up. 

And I'll be spending the rest of the week cleaning up the mess we made trying to find things, including things that weren't even here. 

In the meantime, I have another hour before I need to go get the little monsters, and editing to do.  I'm going back over my first draft of Bite Sized, looking for places that need fleshed out, more detail, more show not tell, and for consistency. 

And this evening, I'll be going over a synopsis that a former student wrote of his graphic novel for a pitch to a publisher.  I won't be rewriting it for him, but I will have to have a heavy hand with the editing. 

One of the biggest reasons I'm glad I'm not teaching anymore is because the kids coming to me had fewer and fewer writing skills coming in, and I was explicitly told to not edit stuff for them, or do more than let them know that there were problems and where/what in general the problems were. 

BUT I'm not teaching anymore, so I'm going to edit the hell out of this kid's synopsis.  The story line looks good.

But damn if I'm not feeling overwhelmed with everything.