Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Last hours...

It's been an eventful year.  I'm glad it's nearly over, and hope next year is a good one. 

Year's almost over.

I spent the day busting my ass, getting trash out of out-of-the-way places in the living room.  I had no idea how badly it had built up: crayon papers and wadded up scribble-drawings, and old worksheets and boxes left over from Christmas presents filled two 13 gallon kitchen bags.  Odysseus and I moved most of the living room furniture to pull all of that crap out.

And then we sprayed Ortho bug spray around the baseboards in both the living room (where I'd been cleaning) and the kitchen. 

Tomorrow, we'll be taking down and boxing up the Christmas decorations, and the Christmas movies.  I'm inclined to let the kids keep their books...but then again, I always am.

Thursday, the imp goes to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa (and will take his bike with him for the visit).  After Odysseus gets back, I'll keep the pixie occupied while Odysseus finishes what we didn't get done: the vacuuming.  Which requires moving furniture, and wrestling with the bigger vacuum (which I finally got unclogged).

It's going to be nice to go into the semester with a slightly cleaner house...not that it will likely stay that way for long.


I actually thought I'd hit publish, last night, before I went to bed.  That should tell you how tired I actually was after yesterday. 

Monday, December 29, 2014


They're expensive.

They both had their well-child check-ups, today.  The imp is 48 inches tall, now, and 48 pounds, while the pixie is 40 inches and 34 pounds.  Doc said we're doing good monitoring the imp (catching the red #40 intolerance, and the allergy-induced behavioral issues--with no red #40, and a dose of allergy meds every morning, he's incredibly well-behaved, especially for his age).  Also confirmed what I suspected: that the pixie just has to power through the constant round of viruses she's been dealing with (catching the next as soon as she recovers from the one just previous).  The two appointments were at the office of a doctor that has stopped accepting any sort of health insurance.  She's started offering a subscription-based service...but the office visit for each child was $116, and the subscription is $60/month/person. 

After their appointment, Odysseus and I took them to Sam's Club...and found something I'd been planning on getting to help the imp organize his toys: clear plastic shoeboxes.  He's got two for wood rails, one for wood engines, one for metal, one for cars, one for trucks, one for dozers, one for signs.  And all of them are labeled in writing, and he showed us he could read the tubs and lids.  The pixie has three more from the set for her wooden magnet dolls and some of her small bits of costume jewelry and things.  

Right now, the pixie is asleep for naptime...and the imp is outside, riding the bike the grandparents sent Christmas money for. 

Yep: kids are expensive, but they're worth every penny.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Random ramblings

The kids got mean mommy, this morning.  Loud giggles and slamming doors waking parents brings mean mommy down on them.  They got yelled at and put in opposite corners of the couch, under strict orders that they're not to make any sounds or speak until Mary Poppins  is over.  And that's two and a half hours (an hour past when I'd have preferred to get up). 

They made out like bandits, this Christmas.  The imp got a Tonka firetruck from Grandma and Grandpa that's nearly as big as he is (about six by six inches around, and nearly three feet long).  Yes, it's a noisy toy, but he's got rules around noisy toys that let him play with them without irritating the hell out of Odysseus and me: he can play with them in his room, with his door shut.  It's let him keep a wooden train whistle toy without us being driven crazy.

We got the kids each a stick horse for Santa gifts.  They have plush toy heads (to do less damage to each other when they inevitably get into a fight and use them to hit each other), with wispy manes.  The pixie's is purple (and she's named it Purple Magic for whatever reason), and the imp's is a black and white paint. 

And they will each be getting a bike and a helmet with Christmas money.  Both have asked us for a bike, and now that we've got the Forrester, and can take them somewhere safe to ride, we'll get them each a bike. 

I got Odysseus two seasons of Scrubs, and my younger sister got him one of Futurama (and a nerdy coffee cup, much like the one I have, only a lot smaller).  He has watched quite a bit of both shows, and is very, very happy with them.

He ordered three fountain pens for me.  One is still on its way from China, but the other two arrived in good time.  I've put blue ink in one of the two, and turquoise in the other.  I'll probably put the quick-dry blue in the last.

And last, I found a cordless screwdriver--something I'd been wanting for ages--at Sam's Club, in their Christmas gift displays.  Their price was much lower than Amazon's, at a hair under $20.  It's about the size of a 1911, with a grip angled like a Ruger or Glock (but it has a safety, so it can't be a Glock).  I'll be using that today, to put the clock back up in the imp's room. 

We recently had to try a new type of food on the cats.  It's still Purina One, but their usual Healthy Metabolism food was nowhere to be found.  We've tried them on the Indoor formula, which is supposed to contain grasses and things that outdoor cats supplement their diets with (rather than supplementing the diet with mice, like Shadow does.  She swallows them whole, judging by the near-complete skeletons I've found encased in poop in the litter box).  Cricket seems to like the food a lot better...and Shadow's gotten more active.  She's started playing with me, instead of just climbing on me and cuddling.  Shadow has this thing where she'll lay on her back and pull a hand down to pet her belly.  Yesterday, she pulled my hand down to her belly, started rabbit kicking me (carefully without claws), and bit my shirt sleeve a few times. 

We saw the dog on Christmas.  She's a shaggy, stinky little catfish smelling dog that spins circles in place in happiness at the very sight of us, yipping this excited, high-pitched "come play with me" bark.  We did play with her a bit, and I loved on her a bit (and fed her some of my roast chicken). 

We are going to have to do something to get our dog back, before my mom decides to keep her.

I've still got about three weeks before I go back to work.  One of those weeks will involve practicing going to pick the pixie up from school, since I will be doing that at least two of the three days during the week, due to Odysseus's class schedule.

I'm trying to get going on Detritus again, but it isn't easy.  I'm going to have to order a CD to help me set the right mood.  It seems to want to be written to the Rolling Stones, not anything I already have.  I'm strongly considering ordering a four gig memory stick to boost my laptop up from two gigs to six.  Odysseus says that four (which is what his laptop has) helps greatly, but I'd rather not have to deal with this again for a while, since the entire bottom of the laptop has to come off, rather than a specific part of it like Odysseus's laptop has.  The small section to access memory would make things a lot easier, but...yeah.  Mine is two years older than his, despite being the same model.  And things like convenience for upgrades weren't considered when putting mine together.

Friday, December 26, 2014

I have to share these.

I will admit that I have a favorite brand of ink, now.  Yes, the Waterman's ink is alright.  It works, and the green and the turquoise are really pretty.

But I must say that Noodler's ink has become, far and away, my absolute favorite.  Not only is the ink of very good quality (and much of it is water resistant or waterproof, with a few freeze resistant varieties), but the company has a sense of history and sense of humor that is rarely found today. 

They have inks like Q-E'ternity (a blue-black that happens to nod toward the endless rounds of quantitative easing), Nikita Khrushchev red, Tiannanmen (also red, but a little darker), a collection of colors inspired by WWII (Burma Brown, Mandalay Maroon, Operation Overlord Orange, etc)...

...and the one I just ordered: Bernanke Blue.  A quick drying ink named after the Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, who was the main face of the frenzied printing of money that was Quantitative Easing.  There's also a quick-drying Bernanke Black. 

Neither color is permanent, only water-resistant and smear resistant. 

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas to all!

I'm havin' a drink (as soon as the kids go to bed).

Serious celebration time: I survived yet another Christmas with minimal family drama (though that might be because the drama llama loved the bamboo crochet hooks I found for her).

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Breaks in daily routines suck.

Wanna know why? 

Because my kids cannot seem to get along, today, and cannot seem to be capable of good behavior. 

I've given the imp a dose of 12 hr allergy meds, and he's actually behaving decently.  It's not him at fault.  It's the pixie.

The pixie has been incapable of settling down.  She's also been whiny, and has tended to pick fights with her brother. 

I am getting so sick of her behavior.

I've been sick of the whole mess surrounding Christmas since the end of November, when we put up the tree.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


So, back several years ago, I bought a bottle of Glenfiddich 15 year old single barrel Scotch. 

I have nearly run out...and Sam's Club has stopped carrying it.  Which means MY price has jumped by nearly $15/bottle.  This boosts it nearly out of my affordability range. 

I really like that particular Scotch.  What I liked most about it was the smoky, earthy flavor it has.  I save that mostly for celebratory drinks, since it was $45/bottle when I bought it. 

Does anyone have any recommendations for a reasonably priced replacement?  I already know I don't care for blended Scotch, and prefer a longer aging process. 


Monday, December 22, 2014

Sticking to my knitting.

I'm more than a bit upset about the recent spate of revenge killing of police officers.  On the one hand, I can see where it's coming from: various incidents with SWAT and with overreactions to honest-to-God peaceful, law-abiding people questioning why they were being detained/questioned/thrown face first on the ground, and/or family pets shot out of hand.  Only problem is that it's not the cops that have sown the wind who are reaping the whirlwind.  It's the poor schlubs that are in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

And leftist mouth-breathing leavings from a diseased whore's dripping twat bloviating about how the police were wrong (*ahem* de Blasio, Sharpton, Jackson, et. al. ad nauseum) have done nothing but destabilize an already explosive situation.

I cannot do anything to affect any of it.  Not one damn thing.

Especially as these poor schlubs have been fed the lie that I am a dangerous individual because I believe in the rule of law set down by the United States Constitution, rather than the rule of whim of the ruling classes that we aren't supposed to have, but do anyway.  They'd rather cozy up to and carry the scorpion across the river.  Because there's no way the leftists would stab them in the back, right?

As I said: there's nothing I can do.  Not personally, and not with my small readership.  All I can do is keep a weather eye on things and hope the storm bypasses my life, and doesn't endanger my family. 

Personal responsibility III: taking care of yourself

There are several levels to this: everything from eating right to exercising to exercising basic hygiene to going to doctors' appointments, and the like.

That's not what I'm talking about. 

What I'm talking about is making sure an individual can take care of themselves.  Odysseus covered some of it in his financial advice columns, but I want to expand on it a bit. 

First off, and this is the most basic part, the individual must make sure they have a job.  It would be better should that not be a minimum wage, part time, dead-end job (though there are actually fewer of those than most believe, given how hard Casey's tried to get Odysseus trained on everything, and to promote him), but any port in a storm.  A job equals income.  And even a part-time job that pays minimum wage is liveable, if you're careful.  And it grants the time to go seek out a different job that offers more hours and/or pays better.  Or, failing that, a second job.

Second, start a savings account.  A few dollars a week until a grand is saved up is enough to start.  That prevents an emergency brake repair from wiping out everything someone tries to do to better their lot. 

Third, should that aforementioned job happen to be a part time, minimum wage job, the next step is that the individual in question should stop indulging.  No more eating out--not even from the McDonald's dollar menu--no more coffees that they don't make themselves, no more money spent on frivolities.  Why?  Because the average American is an idiot, and carries a metric fuckton of debt, between what they took out for college, what they owe on their car, and what they owe on their credit card(s) and/or payday loans. 

And, once the individual stops indulging in whatever little habit tends to suck the money out of their bank accounts, they can start paying down those debts.*

Getting rid of those debts makes everything else easier.

Fourth, pay cash or do without.  On everything, basic medical care included, because a yearly doctor's visit isn't too expensive, if it's budgeted and saved for.  And no, having someone else pay for medical insurance isn't a basic, human right.   Neither is steak, or junk food, or cell phones of any type.  Or internet.  Or cable.

Fifth, a solid pantry, holding a few weeks' worth of food (enough to get through a short-term emergency or unemployment) should be assembled.  I recommend a membership at a warehouse store--it makes acquiring things in bulk a lot simpler...and a lot cheaper.  I think we save somewhere around a thousand dollars a year on the groceries we get at Sam's Club.  When the kids were in diapers, it was more than that. 

I think the biggest thing, the thing that makes the most difference in being self-sufficient is the capability to plan ahead and to defer gratification.  And both are involved in each step of taking care of yourself.

*I recommend Dave Ramsey's plan for that.  And no, I'm not being paid to say that.  I was incredibly disappointed when our local talk radio replaced him with Sean Hannity, who annoys the piss out of me.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

random ramblings

Yesterday was the kids' classes' Christmas parties.  My initial impulse was to keep them home. 

I should have listened to that impulse.  The imp got given red Kool-Aid.  And he slowly and inevitably turned into a nasty little beast as the day went on. 

The start of Christmas Break for the kids marks the end of the second quarter.  The pixie doesn't get a grade card, as such...I think.  The imp didn't really get one, but I can see his grades online.  His grades have improved greatly (in everything except math, which he seems to have started kind of blowing off because it's easy for him), since he's passing without having to have the grades massaged.  At this rate of improvement, he may well be ready for first grade by the end of the year. 

And the pixie has two full weeks to recover from her back-to-back respiratory illnesses, caused by hanging around with thirteen other snuggly little germ incubators with no concept of personal boundaries.

She hasn't grown since September.  Not even a little.  She's had to use her reserves to try to fight off her constant illnesses instead of grow.

Shadow has been a right pain, recently.  The random number generator inside the fuzz-covered little kitty skull has come up "sleep on sleeping person" lately, and when I put the pixie down for a nap, I have to shut the cat up in the back room (unless Odysseus is napping--in which case, I toss her in onto his ankles).  If she's not doing that, she's chewing on plastic: the corners of wipes bags, Ziploc bags, trash bags hanging over the edge of the trash cans, Walmart name it, she's chewing on it. 

Cricket has been more skittish than usual.  I do not know what Shadow's been doing when the two are shut in the back room, but it's had an effect on Cricket's mental health.

We saw our Scotty dog at my mother's, yesterday.  Didn't pet her much--she literally smells like a catfish.  And, according to Mom this morning, the dog either ate something she shouldn't have while playing outside yesterday, or just got really upset, because she threw up in her crate last night. 

Semester has been over for Odysseus and me for about a week, now.  My student who'd gotten an incomplete last Spring finished out her work, and I got her grade change request turned in when I got my grades done. 

And Odysseus...Odysseus pulled a 4.0 semester.  Busted his ass to do it, since three of his four classes were upper division accounting classes (including auditing and tax accounting 1), but he did it.

I think I may have a good idea of why writing's stalled.  First, I don't have the right music.  And second...I tried to take the story in the wrong direction.  I seem to do that a lot...

In any case, I think I can get back on the ball, now.  Once the headache I woke up with goes the fuck away.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


When I said that the pixie was sick on Sunday, I meant really, really sick.  Bad enough to have me a little scared.  She was breathing hard and fast, her heart was beating hard and fast, she had a deep, barking cough, and was running a fever.  I was going to call the doctor on Monday...and then, after a good night's sleep, she was much improved.  Still coughing, but no fever, and no difficulty breathing. 

I was the one having difficulty, yesterday--difficulty keeping her still and quiet to continue her recovery.  I'm having the same trouble today. 

And today, she's throwing mini-tantrums when I refuse to let her up to run around and play. 

She's going back to school tomorrow.

Woah, buddy, time to lawyer up.

Yep.  Time to lawyer up and sue the ever-livin' fuck out of the city of Philadelphia, and the state of Pennsylvania for permitting this to happen in the first place.

Seriously.  The city tax office admitted to making up the $280K back taxes bill out of whole cloth, and because the guy, who lives on a fixed income, didn't purchase the transcript that some petty bureaucrat ordered him to, a fucknugget sitting on the bench and claiming to be a judge ruled that the guy had to pay the bill that everybody involved admitted he didn't owe.  

I'm pretty sure that suing the city for a few tens of millions of dollars, with the lawyer paid half of the proceeds, would get him a damn good one willing to work without retainer.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sick pixie. Again.

I'm really beginning to hate handing my children over for solid chunks of days.  My imp may be doing much better, for the most part, but the pixie has barely gotten over one virus before she's come down with the next one. 

I'm not sure she'll be up for school tomorrow.  She's decidedly uncomfortable, and has been running a fever, on and off.  I think the best, and only, thing I can do is try my best to get her to be still and rest to recover.  The Nutcracker is doing a lot of my work for me...but I've already watched it twice today, and have promised her I'd start it again when she wakes back up from her nap.

It's ironic, though...the doctors in the NICU told me that the imp would probably have a weak immune system, and that he'd have trouble with it through elementary school.  He's had one cold (albeit a nasty one), and one bout with stomach flu.  He's had to stay home once.  It's ironic that the one born eight weeks early has the stronger immune system than the one who was born only a little early. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Oh, fer fuck's sake!

There is a sign, just outside the women's restroom, pointing toward one of the conference rooms, announcing a committee meeting for the committee on committees. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Well, apparently, the university can't afford raises or Christmas bonuses: they're changing job titles.  Secretaries are no longer secretaries.  They're now Administrative Assistants.

That just rolls off the tongue: English and Philosophy Department Administrative Assistant. 

I will agree that these secretaries are now doing more than what used to be considered a secretary's job; however, I think the university should have cut the pay of some of the various VPs and shifted that money into giving the raises to the people who actually do the fucking work: their "Administrative Assistants." 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Random ramblings

So, the imp is really starting to get the hang of school.  I'm pleased. 

What has me even more pleased is hearing him quietly sounding out words and reading to himself in his bedroom with his door slightly ajar. 

He's mostly well-behaved at school--he's learned that if he's badly behaved at school, he gets punished at home, and the level of punishment has increased from simply no TV  on a warning day to no TV and a toy confiscated, only to be returned on a blue day.  And if he lies about it, he gets sat in the kitchen to stare at the corner until supper, then until bed.  Which is what happened last week (Tuesday). 

The pixie is starting to get over the nasty part of the cold she came home with just before Thanksgiving...which means that she may be coming home with some all new crud sometime in the next two weeks, if patterns hold true.  I'm actually hoping that they don't, and that she won't be sick over Christmas Break (which starts the 19th and ends January 5th for the kids). 

Classes are done for the university.  All we have next week are finals: I'll need to be in on Wednesday from 11-1:00, for the first one, and 12-2:00 for the second on Friday.  Odysseus has one on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday (rescheduled for Wednesday night with the online sections of the class), and one on Friday.  Sounds fun, huh?

The kids have one week more than Odysseus and I do...which sets us up for Christmas shopping for the kids.

The cats have been extra-snuggly this weekend.  I have no clue what's gotten into them, but if they're not crowding on me, they're sleeping on or near one of the kids. 

And last but not least, I've got the plot for the project I'm working on all worked out.  I've just got to flesh it out, now.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Stupid student tricks...

1. One of my Saudi boys turned in good papers all semester.  I double checked each one, and none seemed plagiarized (the English was too good).  Well, I graded his blog this morning, and double checked on one of his posts...and it was copied and pasted from a persuasive essay website...which took his high A for the class down to an F.

2.  My blatantly racist student was just in here complaining about how confusing another professor in another department's ways of figuring grades is, and asking me to explain to her how her grade was figured.  I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE.  She's also missed four out of five of the workshops (each of which is worth ten points), but managed 90% on all of her papers for me, and was wondering if there was anything she could do to raise her B for the class to an A.  Um...nope!

3. I have two students who have not turned in the research paper as of yet.  One of them had an A before I gave her a 0 for the paper, and the other had a D. 

4.  I had a student to whom I gave an incomplete last semester contact me and ask me if I'd graded her papers that I could make sure and turn in a grade change give her the piece of mind that her Incomplete doesn't turn into an F.  I haven't received her papers, so how the fuck could I grade them???

FFOT: stupid policy enforcement

Well.  I'd be finished after today, were it not for the mush-brained twatwaffle who thinks Kipling's Kim described the Great Game of nations in unironic terms (assuming he knows that's where the terms he's been gleefully throwing around come from), and has embraced whole-heartedly applying the term "Great Game" to things: we have the Great Game of Business, and the Great Game of Education.

Why on earth did the Board of Trustees decide to hire a community college player on as a growing and developing full university president?

Because of this idiot, every class must do something during scheduled final exams time.  Yep, every class.  From Choir to Ceramics to College Composition.  Knowledge-based classes and skills-based classes.

I can see the point with the knowledge-based classes, all of which now require a comprehensive final exam, but skills-based?  It's fucking stupid.  It's a waste of the students' time, the instructors' time, and of the resources of the university. 

I s'pose that just matches the fat-fuck waste of space sitting in the university president's office. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

If you drink coffee...

We lose power sometimes, through thunderstorms, ice storms, and routine maintenance by the electrical company.  Sometimes, the loss of power can last more than a few hours--during one ice storm, we lost power for about two days (we had to go to my in-laws' place for that one, since we lacked heating backups). 

Well, when we have no power, I have no coffee.  I keep whole bean coffee around.  Ground?  Not so much. 

A few days ago, I ordered a manual coffee grinder.  It arrived yesterday, and I just used it to make a cup of coffee.  The drawer that holds the ground coffee is only big enough to make one cup, but since I'm the only coffee drinker in the house as of yet, that doesn't matter. 

It works.  It works really well.  Apparently, it's adjustable, and mine came adjusted for a very fine grind--it's only slightly coarser than an espresso grind--exactly the way I like it.  It takes about four minutes and plenty of elbow grease and stamina to grind enough to make a full cup of coffee. 

There's a very slight difference in flavor, but I'm not sure what causes that, and it's not enough for most to notice.  I do think it's an improvement, though, so...yet another plus.

It's also quite pretty, so it serves a dual purpose.

Definitely a good purchase, and a good addition to short-term power loss emergency preps.  Especially when combined with this, which is what I used to make my single cup of coffee with the new grinder. 

Monday, December 1, 2014


Missouri Governor Jay Nixon nearly stepped on his dick, here: last week, he decided he wanted to call a special session to find the cash to pay for the National Guard and State Troopers in Ferguson, MO. 

Well, now, he's changed his mind.  I'm pretty sure I have a good idea why, too: the Guard were stationed in the upscale neighborhoods, while looting went on in the commercial districts.  I would be willing to bet that he doesn't want the special sessions demanding answers to awkward questions, like "Why weren't the Guard and State Troopers stationed where everyone knew looting and rioting would occur?"

Yup: he barely avoided stepping on his own dick, there.  Too bad he wised up before the session was called...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

...and on into my least favorite time of year...

I really hate Christmas.  Not the event behind the holiday, but the holiday itself.  It quit being fun sometime around the point I hit high school--seems to be too much work for little to no fun.  If I could, I'd skip the whole shebang. 

I hate decorating.  It's a mess, and it disrupts the kids' routines, which causes really terrible behavior.  It's pretty for maybe the first day or so, and then it just gets...tired. 

I hate spending time with my family.  I think if you combine two of my aunts' IQ with that of the only uncle left, you might reach room temperature.  And they're closed-minded, to boot: I've been told that I'm wrong because I work outside the home, and that I'm going to hell because I'm not a member of their splinter of a splinter of a splinter of a legitimate denomination of Christianity, and because the kids were baptized as babies. 

I hate the timing.  It's a stressful enough time of the year with the end of semester around two weeks before hand. 

I hate spending money on gifts for people I hold in highest contempt.  I don't like spending money on gifts, period, but having to spend money on people I despise tends to spoil what enjoyment I have in giving the kids things that I know they'll love. 

I hate the music.  It started at the beginning of November, in some stores.  It'll be everywhere, now that Thanksgiving is over.  I have one CD I really like: one of the Christmas albums put out by Frank Sinatra, long, long ago, and the music itself is ruining my enjoyment of the man's voice.  I think the worst part is all of the stupid, secular music.  Maybe I just need to find my Handel's Messiah CD...

I hate all the trappings of the holiday. 

The trappings detract from the reality behind the mess: that the holiday is supposed to remind us of Who was born, supposedly at this time, if you listen to the Church, and ignore the Biblical evidence to the contrary. 

Advent has become more special to me as a meditative period since I had the kids.  Even though both children were born early, I can identify with Mary during her last month of pregnancy: the anticipation; the anxiety, both about birth and about taking care of something so very small and helpless; the weariness that accompanies the last part of pregnancy...and for Mary, knowing that her Child is just that much more special than most.  My children are very dear to me, and I worry and fret over them.  I can only imagine how much magnified that must have been for Mary. 

The holiday isn't the food.  It isn't spending time with family.  It isn't the gifts.  It isn't the music. 

All of that takes peoples' attention off of what it is: the great gift of God's own Son sent to us.

And on this first Sunday of Advent, I find myself despising the holiday that we have even more than usual, and find my thoughts drifting toward Mary, and wondering just how much I had in common with her in my thoughts and feelings during the last months of my pregnancies...and feeling sorrow for how her story ended up, and how much grief the end of her Son brought her.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I am.  Very.  I'm thankful for a lot of things.

I'm thankful for a roof over my head that is paid for except for the yearly expenses in taxes, insurance, and maintenance.  It's a small house, but it's warm, and we can heat and cool it without breaking the bank.  A lot of people don't have that much.

I'm thankful for my pantry.  I have enough that I can wing a Thanksgiving dinner for myself and my family (since my mother and sister are sick).  I'm thankful for that, and for the fact that there's enough in the pantry to get us through quite a few lean times. 

I'm thankful for my friends.  I don't have many, but then again, the ones I have are spectacular. 

I'm thankful for my children.  It's not been easy, the process of turning them from self-centered, unthinking, walking lumps of cuteness to thinking, semi-considerate, walking, talking bits of cuteness, but we've made it this far, and we're still working.  Yes, it would have been easier to just leave them be and let them do what they want, just as it would have been easier and cheaper to put them in public school...but it wouldn't have been the right thing to do, and I love them both far too much to half-ass things. 

I'm thankful for my other half.  Without his support, nothing in my life would have been possible--not my education, not my home, not my pantry, not my friends.  Nothing.    I thank God for him every day.

I am also thankful to have been born in the United States of America.  Without that, there's no telling what my life would have been like. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

random ramblings

Well, two of our friends tied the knot, today.  The pixie was the perfect little flower girl: flinging the artificial petals here, there, and everywhere more gracefully than any not-quite-four year old girl should.  And speaking of that, she did it in heels.  Not terribly high heels, but still.  And she chose the shoes. 

And, after their parts were done, the kids exhibited exemplary behavior.  They behaved, during the service, as well as the adults did. 

Other children attending didn't behave so well.

We have rewarded them for their spectacularly good behavior with cookies and new coloring books.  I'm incredibly proud of both of them. 

Cricket, our black and white cat, just discovered the pixie's shoes.  She's acting scared to death of them.  Just like she is of hairbrushes.

I've collected papers, and have half of them graded.  Yes, this is the last paper for the semester.  No, it's not the last of their work--I have them blogging, now.  500 word posts, due Tuesday and Thursday nights.  

Writing...still behind on that.  I've got some done long-hand, but not a whole lot.

Tomorrow, we have our first round of Thanksgiving visits, to Odysseus's parents.  I've been asked to provide a batch of chocolate peanut butter chip cookies, which will be made tonight after supper, with Odysseus's help. 

And Monday, it's back to class.  Tuesday is the last day of classes for the week for both the imp and Odysseus.  And Thursday, we'll be going to my mother's for Thanksgiving dinner. 

After that, I'll have some breathing room.  And the following week--the first week of December--is the last week of classes altogether for the semester.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Stil here...

I'm just a bit overloaded with everything going on, right now.  Odysseus, the pixie, and I are all sick; I have end-of-semester grading between now and the end of semester, which is the first Friday in December; a couple of friends of ours are getting married this weekend, and the pixie and imp will be flower girl and ring-bearer, respectively; and we will be going to our first of two Thanksgivings on Sunday. 

So, for the time being, blogging, writing, (and if I'm to be honest, housework) and everything else that isn't grading, child-minding, or getting ready for the weekend has been put on hold.  I'll be back when I can--hopefully with commentary on the goings-on in the world, because I'm hoping to get a memory upgrade on my laptop that will permit me to surf the news sites again without the computer crashing. 

Monday, November 17, 2014


I was twelve or so when I first realized that there was something wrong with my grandma.  I'd gone to town with her to help her load groceries into the car.  We were on our way into town, and somebody whipped out onto the road Grandma was on, and cut us off.  Grandma laid on the brakes, and laid on the horn, then rolled down the window and stuck her arm out to the shoulder, making gestures I couldn't see from where I was sitting (but I had my suspicions), and using words I didn't think she knew. 

That was the start of it. 

My grandma had Alzheimer's.  She spent the next twenty years in decline.  By the time I was in high school, she was paranoid, threatening violence on all of the adults (but my sister and I were exempt), and forgetting things.  My grandma, who read almost as much as I did, slowly quit reading as she gradually lost the ability.  My grandma, who loved music and played complex pieces on both piano and organ by ear because she never learned to read music, lost her ability to play...although, that was one of the last things to go. 

By the end, she was unable to speak, unable to eat, and unable to move herself. 

And through all of that, my mother and aunts kept her home. 

I will admit that I quit visiting.  It hurt too much.  The grandma I knew and loved had been gone for a long time, but her husk still sat there, confusion in her eyes, and unable to understand what was going on around her, recognize any of her daughters, or remember why we cared that she didn't remember us. 

When I was small, Grandma would spend one day a week doing laundry.  In the utility room, there was a wood cook stove, and in the winter, she'd fire it up, and make bread while she was doing laundry.  I'd come in, half frozen from reading outside because Mom had booted me out to go play, and the room off the garage would be so warm and toasty...and Grandma would see how frozen I was and would get a small pan, put milk in it, put it on top of the stove, and make cocoa from scratch.  The secret to it was a dab of butter--real butter--dropped in after the milk was hot, but before she added the cocoa powder and sugar.  And she'd slice off some of that fresh, hot bread, and put butter and cinnamon sugar on it, and we'd eat that with the homemade cocoa, while the dryer was humming, between loads of ironing. 

This is the woman that was taken from me, long before she actually died.  

For a while, she remembered what she used to be capable of.  For a while, she was terrified...and bitter.  But there came a time when even that was gone.

My husband never met my grandma.  Not really.  By the time he came into the picture, my grandma was losing the ability to speak.  She wasn't the person who'd grown a full acre of garden and canned a bedroom-sized pantry full of vegetables and fruit every year.  She wasn't the person who played concertos by ear, wasn't the person who baked bread and cookies, and made the best roasts and chicken and dumplings.  By the time my husband came into the picture, my grandmother was a woman who was beginning to forget what she'd lost. 

My son never met her at all--she died two weeks after he came home from the hospital, two weeks before the doctor had said I could take him places. 

It's not like he could have really met her, anyway.  Not like she'd have understood that the baby she would have been looking at was her great grandson.

By the time she passed, it was almost a relief.  Closure.  I had grieved her loss for almost ten years before she was finally, truly gone.  Because the grandmother I'd known as a child had been gone for a long time before her body gave up.

She's been gone for almost six years, now.  She died the Friday after Thanksgiving in 2008.

I really hate Alzheimer's.  Were it not for that, I'd have had my grandmother, who I loved dearly, in my life for a full ten years longer than I did.

Because Alzheimer's had taken her from herself--and taken her from the rest of us--long before it took her life..  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

Today isn't just Veterans' Day.

With the quality of history education today, many don't know that, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1818 ended the first World War--a war that devoured the best part of an entire generation of young men.  Britain lost around a million men, most of those from England herself; France lost 1.3 million; Russia, on the side of the allies, lost between 1.7 and 2.25 million.  Our losses, coming in as late as we did, were inconsequential in comparison.  In total, the allies lost around six million years.  The Central powers--the other side of the war--lost around four million. 

WWI broke out in late July of 1914: these young men were lost in just under four and a half years.  

(Just for a bit of perspective, we and our allies have lost just under 10,000 men in the thirteen year War on Terror begun by our enemies on September 11, 2001.)

WWI was the first time chemical weapons, in all of their horror, were used on the battlefield.

Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.—
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
That particular poet was killed a week before the end of that pointless war, one that was begun by an anarchist shooting an archduke, immersing all of Europe into a war that none of the nations really wanted, but were forced into by a web of back-room treaties that obliged them to take the actions taken. 

And when it was all over, everything was blamed on Germany in the treaty of Versailles, setting the stage for the Nazi party's ascent to power, and WWII.

When you wear your poppies today, remember those brave young men who were doomed by an inept central command, even as you shake the hands of living veterans and thank them for having served. 

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Happy Veteran's Day

I do my best, every day, to shake hands with every veteran I bump into, look into their eyes, and thank them quietly and sincerely for their service. 

I do not reserve it for any one day.  And I'm running into more and more who are not only wearing the veterans' ball caps, but proclaiming that their service was in Vietnam--something that most of them used to try their best to hide. 

I think, for the most part, my fellow Americans are repudiating the old attitude toward veterans--and all I can say is that it's about time. 

I'll have another post scheduled to come up at eleven o'clock in honor of those 10 million men who lost their lives in a pointless war in the early part of the 20th century. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014


We've got some family issues going on right now.  The kids are fine, we're fine...but my father in law is in desperate need of prayer. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

random ramblings

I really don't have much to say, this week, and not much energy to say it.  I've still got the migraine, although much reduced. 

Odysseus got the kids the third season of Scooby-Doo on DVD, last night, and they watched that last night while eating pizza (the imp) and chicken nuggets, grapes, and cheese (the pixie), while I was laying in bed hoping for some of the headache to ease. 

The kids are having fun playing, right now.  Unfortunately, they're playing loudly, if behind closed doors. 

The cats have been clingy since I woke up with this migraine yesterday morning.  Cricket is easily startled into running away, and if Shadow isn't sleeping on me, she's curled up nearby. 

Thankfully, the week of classes was fairly easy.  I spent some of the time explaining source citation to my students, and some of the time shooing them off to go do research.  Some of them have everything they need, now, and some had to do the research to discover that their topics wouldn't work too well for a research paper, so that they'd switch which point, they found what they needed, and are ready to write. 

I haven't been able to focus on writing since Thursday.  I'm about 10k words behind where I was hoping to be, by now.  I'll try to write later, if I can get this damn headache to release its grip.

Friday, November 7, 2014

FFOT: migraines

They suck.  That is all. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014


The only chance a constitutional republic has to survive is for voters to make sure they educate themselves about the issues, and about how the government is supposed to work. 

Judging by the commentary on the budget, on amnesty, and on where money should be cut from the budget, and on taxes...we're doomed.  Because the so-called "smart people" have no fucking clue how things really work.

Writing and listening

When I write, I listen to music.  What I listen to depends on what I'm writing.  I listened to a lot of Within Temptation and Metallica while I wrote the Legends books (Last Pendragon, and Pendragon Resurgent), and those with the addition of Korn and Manowar with the Modern Gods books.  With other stuff sprinkled in that suited the moods of the books. 

Detritus is...resistant to being written while I listen to that music.  I've found that our Amazon Prime membership has been incredibly helpful--I have access to things I don't own, like The Pretty Reckless's Going to Hell, which has fit the character and story perfectly.  Another band that suits is The Rolling Stones, but for that, I'm going to have to order a collection, since I can't afford to either go through and buy the albums with the songs I like, or go through and pick and choose individual songs at the prices they want. 

I've learned I write better and easier when I'm listening to the right music for what I'm working on.  If I don't have music, or don't have the right music, the words just don't want to come.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Little boys...

So, yesterday, about 1:30, I got a call from the private school that the kids go to.  They wanted us to come pick up the imp.  There'd been an incident, and he'd been hurt--he'd fallen off of the step-stool up to the sinks in the bathroom, and had hit his head good and hard.

I certainly hope they've checked the bathroom floor for damage, because he has an incredibly hard head. 

When the imp got home, he was a little dazed, disoriented, and drowsy, and that didn't clear up for about three hours or so, but his eyes looked fine: pupils the same size, the right size for the light in the room, and reacted fine to light changes.  And he wasn't really nauseous. 

Thing is, I've seen this child using the step stools I have set up in the hall bath for the kids to be able to brush their teeth.  He doesn't stand still.  He isn't careful.  To the contrary--he dances around, and hops back and forth between his and his sister's.  I have, in the past, warned him that this behavior will get him hurt.

I suspect that it has, as of yesterday.  The good thing coming out of that is that he was very careful using the step stools last night.  Once he hurts himself doing something I've told him not to do, he usually doesn't do it again. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I like not having cable.

A while back, we cancelled our cable.  We got a Roku box, and hooked it up to make sure it worked, then dropped the cable (which had very little we cared to watch) in favor of Amazon Prime streaming video for TV series and movies, Crackle for movies, and YouTube for music. 

We were really happy with the Roku box for a while--about four months--and then...then, it started having issues.  First, it wouldn't log into the internet.  So, we unplugged it, and tried again.  It worked for a while. 

Now, it's not seeing the internet at all. 

I'm thinking about resetting it to factory specs, and re-entering everything, to see if that fixes the issue, since all of the other fixes aren't working anymore.  If it doesn't...yeah.  I'm thinking it's gonna be skeet. 

And we'll move to the Amazon Fire TV box. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Been a long, miserable evening.

We went to see my mom, today.  It was a fairly good visit, and I helped my sister wash my dog.  She's no longer a stinky little Scotty. 

The pixie and the imp ate huge lunches today--roast, and green beans, and macaroni and cheese--and the pixie stole my roll.  I had no clue things were about to go pear-shaped.

We left fairly early in the afternoon, to try to get the pixie a chance to nap...didn't happen in the car.  Poor thing was coughing like crazy.  She'd been doing that a little since Friday, but nothing like the car ride home.  I got her to take a little Mucinex, and put her to bed, and she slept for about an hour.  And woke up feeling terrible.  Running a fever.

It's just gotten worse--she has nightmares when she's sick.  And she's not slept well at all.  I've just given her a dose of Mucinex and one of ibuprofen. 

I don't think she's going to school tomorrow. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

random ramblings

Happy All Soul's Day, everyone.  Or All Saint's Day, if you're Catholic. 

Odysseus took the kids trick-or-treating last night.  The imp was an absolutely adorable Captain America, and the pixie was a sweet little Princess Sofia (from Disney's Sofia the First series).  The imp was really good about mostly choosing things that didn't have red food coloring when offered the choice.  When they got home, Odysseus went through his candy, and traded him Kit-Kats (his new favorites) for the stuff that was red, orange, or purple. 

I went through the pixie's candy, and took out the worst of the choking hazards.  Do you know how many years it's been since I'd had Runts candy?  Or Gobstoppers?  Yeah, and I didn't get many of the Runts--I broke them up until they were no longer choking hazards, and fed them to the pixie.  The imp ate the green ones. 

Over the last week, I'd gotten two emails from school: the imp acted inappropriately early on, and the pixie threw a fit over being told it was time to pick up the colored pencils and put them away.  So, it has been a not so good week for the kids, and not so good for us, either.  We're apparently rare in that we discipline the children at home for what they've done at school.  Their teachers appreciate it, but are shocked when we do it. 

To be honest, I'm shocked that it's apparently so rare.  I guess I shouldn't be, but...yeah.  Supporting and reinforcing the teachers strikes me as common sense, though.  At least where private school with their carefully vetted teachers are concerned.  Public schools' brainwashing factory is a bit different.

Any case, the imp's teacher has been sending home the handwriting practice and worksheets he refuses to complete during the class days.  He hates homework, and has been bringing home less and less as he does more at school.

The cats have been extra-squirrelly, this week.  It's resulted in them getting shut in the back room during naptime, most days, and sometimes as soon as the kids go to bed.  Because the fuzzy idiots like to run up and down the hall, flinging each other into walls and doors, and trying to climb door facings.  Usually on the pixie's bedroom door. 

My mother says my dog has completely changed how she behaves in the house, going from rude little bitch to a wonderful little dog that follows Mom around.  I'm honestly not sure if I'll still have a dog in a few years, when we're able to take her back.  She's sort of becoming my mom's dog. 

I picked up papers on Wednesday.  I was planning to grade them a few at a time between Wednesday (got them printed on Wednesday, and organized on Thursday) and next week...and then I was informed that Odysseus had a test coming up in auditing next Thursday.  So, I graded half of them Thursday night, and the other half of them on Friday, during my office hours.  Handed them back on Friday. 

My classes were shocked.  That's the fastest turn-around I've had this semester.

I suppose it's mostly to my advantage--I've got all of November to draft Detritus

I have finished the final edit of Fire and Forge, including moving the text into the CreateSpace template, and going through and making sure it didn't FUBAR the formatting.  I'll probably go through one more time before I get the cover art--probably sometime during Winter Break (I'd say Christmas, but it goes from the second week of December to the second week of January--much more than the Christmas Breaks of elementary and high school).  I'm probably not going to get F&F published until sometime late December, or early January--my cover artist is getting married around Thanksgiving, and doesn't have time to do much between now and then that isn't related to wedding plans and arrangements.

Friday, October 31, 2014

FFOT: Fuck you, Blackboard. Fuck you, so hard.

I was grading last night, and suddenly...the gradebook quit working.  I tried four times to enter grades in one student's slot, and I got a "not found" error message.  And then got told to refresh.  And then was informed that there was a managed service interruption. 

What.  The. Actual.  FUCK. 

I am just about to the point of hunting down the admin who are NOT FUCKING DOING THEIR FUCKING JOB, and choking them unconscious.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just finished one class

It took a lot longer than it should have, but I did it.  I got one class's papers graded.  I'd start the other class's papers, but I'd probably end up pitching the laptop, or screaming, or both.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

badly behaving imps...

No, he didn't hit anybody, today.  He's just been peeping on others in the restroom, and burping in others' faces.  Yes, he has had it explained to him that this behavior is not okay.  No, it hasn't sunk  in. 

I think somebody is going to be spending his evening in the kitchen, between the fridge and the end of the cabinets, facing the wall.  Silent, and bored.  No toys, no books. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well, what do you know...

I recently found a recipe for powdered laundry detergent.  Thought I'd give it a try, so I got the materials, thinking that if it didn't work, I could sprinkle the borax in some of the places I'd seen bugs coming in.

It worked.  It worked better than the commercial liquid soap I'd been using for years.  Fairly inexpensive, to make, too.  About a third of the cost per load of the soap we'd been getting.  And it doesn't break me out like some soaps can do.

Laundry detergent*
1 bar Fels Naptha laundry soap, grated**
2 c washing soda
2 c borax

1. Grate the soap.  This step will take the longest if your food processor doesn't do it for you.  2. Mix soap, soda, and borax.  3. (optional, but advised)  Run the powder through a blender or food processor to turn it into powder fine enough to dissolve in cold water.

You'll need about 2 T of powder per soiled load of laundry.   Depending on how soiled, you may need a bit less, for less dirty, or a bit more for really nasty clothes.

One batch of homemade detergent will do about 40 loads.  But each box of washing soda and borax will make three or four (or more) batches. 

The interesting thing is that it works better to get whites really clean, when you do a warm cycle with nothing but, than the commercial detergent does.

*This link is to a kit on Amazon that is a bit more expensive, but will show you exactly what you're looking for.  You can probably find the same things at your local Walmart or grocery store for a lot less.

**Or you can substitute Ivory.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Back to normal...

Week before last, the kids had Thursday and Friday off of school for teacher development.  Last week, Friday was cancelled for parent/teacher conferences.  From here on out, all we've got is early outs for a few different things--no issues with no school conflicting with either Odysseus's schedule, or mine. gonna be nice.

The pixie had her P/T conference set up for this morning--the last slot for last Friday would have necessitated Odysseus's skipping class.  So, we scrambled around and got into the school by 7:30...for a conference scheduled for 7:50.  At least it was almost all positive, as opposed to the imp's conference.  The preschool teacher's main criticism is that the pixie whines a lot. 

At home, I give her two chances to use words, then send her to her room if she keeps whining.  Anybody else have any suggestions on how to break a nearly-four-year-old little girl from whining every time she's told that it's time to change up activities? 

As for the rest of my week, I've got workshop to supervise today--peer editing in small groups--and then papers to pick up on Wednesday.  I'll be introducing the research paper, their last paper for the semester, as of tomorrow.  And once I get papers graded and back to them (hopefully by Monday), I've got all of November to use my office hours to write. 

What I'm planning to do is write as much of Detritus as I can.  I've gone back and reread what I have, and I like it, needs redone.  I've been lazy, relying on first person for my characters.  I'm trying to break that habit. 

As for Odysseus's week...yeah, it's not starting out terribly good.  He's got tests in Intermediate Accounting III, and Tax Accounting this morning.  After that, he says it's smooth sailing for the rest of the week, which is a good thing, since that means he'll be able to deal with the kids while I grade papers Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  If it takes that long to grade.  That's going to be the real question, since while this paper is more audience-focused, my students this semester are also very good, and didn't seem to have as much trouble with the concept as past semesters' students have. 

So, yeah.  That's my upcoming week.  Pray for my sanity to remain as it is now, and for it to not fracture any further.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


I am a Christian.  I have never kept that a secret.  Every so often, I feel like writing about my beliefs and observations as a Christian.  Today is one of those times.  I don't particularly care if someone disagrees with me--that's their right as someone who has free will and a brain.  I don't particularly care if someone gets offended.  That, too, is their right.  Just as it is my right to disregard any butt-hurt offended snits thrown by anyone who chooses to.

There is not a single person, living or dead (other than the obvious) that deserves, outright, to get into heaven through their own efforts.  Not one. 

Should God judge us all as we deserve, every last human being would go to hell when they died. 

And we would, but for one thing: grace.  The gift that Christ died to give us.

What is grace?  To put it simply, grace is forgiveness.  We sin, we feel remorse, we are forgiven.  We repent, and we start fresh to try again. 

We are not meant to dwell on our sinful nature, but to try to overcome it.  Dwelling on it and wallowing in guilt, believing that we are the scum of the earth is the sin that ultimately damned Faust in the play: if he couldn't use his deal with the devil to become the greatest, then he would, even given the chance to repent and go to heaven, be the most damned.  He, in his pride, wallowed in his guilt, in his sins. 

That feeling of overwhelming guilt prevents us from moving forward, from starting fresh.  That feeling of overwhelming guilt that we are sinners leads directly into despair, into feeling helpless against our lower natures.  Leads us directly into no longer trying to be better, to try harder to conquer that lower nature.  Leads us into spiritual sloth.

Christ's admonition to those he healed was "Go, and sin no more."  However, I think the translation may have missed nuance.  I think what he means for us to do is to never stop trying to conquer the impulse to sin, to do what we are not supposed to do, or to not do those things we know we must. 

The difference is grace: the forgiveness that permits us to get up and try again to be the people that God wants us to be.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Random ramblings

So, we got through the imp's parent teacher conference.  He's behind.  We knew that.  We also know that he's going to need a lot of work to catch up.

What we didn't know is that he stares off into space and daydreams until his teacher calls him back to earth.  This is not...unsurprising, really--both of us did that.  But it is going to need some work to teach him when it's appropriate and when it isn't.

She also complimented us on his manners, and on his empathy (which I'm thanking God he somehow learned), and on his remaining quiet and non-disruptive, even if he's not paying attention like he should.  And on his math skills.

So, yeah--lots of work, lots of negatives (which we already knew), and lots of positives. 

And yesterday afternoon, while the kids were napping, his grandparents called and asked for an overnight visit.  Odysseus will be picking him up from the halfway point tomorrow.

I had a college friend visit this afternoon.  That was incredibly pleasant, and the pixie just completely adored her.  The cats seemed...not enthusiastic, but not opposed.  They liked her, just not as much as they like TCA. 

Then again, they think TCA belongs to them.  Cats.  What are you going to do?

I'll be supervising a workshop day as of Monday.  Which means that Wednesday evening, I'll be organizing to grade papers, again.  It's the fourth paper in 11 weeks, so...yeah.  

Putting a pause on the writing, as much as I can, for the moment--besides picking up papers to grade, I'm reading the third draft of a friend's excellent work.  I'm hoping to be able to get word back before I pick papers up, but I never know when the muse is going to blind side me--like it did last Sunday in the car, on the way to the next large town over.

Friday, October 24, 2014

FFOT: The "Affordable" Care Act

I got a mailing from our health insurance provider last week.  It was with great trepidation that I opened it, since we have a catastrophe plan, one that if it weren't "grandfathered in" (until the PTB decide otherwise), because I've heard of some insurance companies cancelling those plans and either leaving customers hanging or moving them automatically into plans that comply, whether or not the individual can afford it.

All it was was a notification that I have benefits that cover reconstruction surgery should I ever have a mastectomy. 

But the "Affordable" Care Act, and all those involved in both writing it, and raping the country with it can fuck the fucking fuck off.  Each of those involved in raping the country with the ACA can sodomize themselves with a printed copy of it, each page folded until it's all corners, and inserted individually. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I really am.  I've been stupid exhausted, today, and I don't know why.  It took around 40 ounces of coffee to kick-start my brain, today, and my body never bothered to follow.

No, really--I've been ambushed by writing ideas.  I started writing a story that I only kinda-sorta know where it's going on Sunday; I typed up and revised another one that I'd written out in my little journal book on...Monday, I think it was, and started thinking about revising another story yesterday.  I got started with that today, and the revised part (from first to third person, with more details added) is almost as long as the entire former finished draft. 

I've finished another revised draft of Fire and Forge, and have set it aside to be better able to read through for mistakes and typos in another week or so. 

And, added to the shorts, I've got another novel building.  I think this one is going to be a lot less episodic than the Modern Gods series, more a true novel like the Legends series...and I'm going to probably go through to rewrite from first to third person with that one, too.  I'm hoping to get the bulk of that one done in November, between getting paper four graded for my classes, and picking up paper five--their last paper--to grade. 

But yeah--the fiction writing bug has bitten me kind of hard, lately.  And, right now, I have a short story collection started that has three stories in it, and is currently around16,000 words (around 34 pgs in MS word, 12 pt font, single spaced).  I've got at least another 2000, once I finish revising the story I'm currently revising, and at least one more story (the one I started on Sunday) that may end up less short story, more novella.  If things keep going at this rate, I'll have something else to go up for sale, sometime this summer.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


The imp's kindergarten teacher cornered us this morning, and told us we were going to need two appointment slots for his parent/teacher conference.

Now, I'm not just worried, I'm stressed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Lazy Tuna* Noodle Casserole

I came up with this recipe a few years back.  My other half doesn't like tuna, so I substitute either canned chicken or canned roast beef (leftover roast also works well).

1 box macaroni & cheese
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can meat (tuna, chicken, roast beef), drained
1/4 c milk (if you have it--water works, if not)

1.  Cook macaroni according to box instructions, and drain.  2. Ignore the directions for the cheese sauce--dump in the cheese powder, the can of soup, and the milk, and mix together.  3. Add can of tuna, chicken, or beef. 

If you want, you can add frozen peas to this, or canned corn, or whatever vegetable you think will taste good. 

It's a great wintertime dish: hot, filling, and satisfying. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I am a terrible housekeeper.  The house is cluttered, with mess strewn everywhere.  I can't seem to get on top of the mess with fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, or all day every day of trying. 

I am terrible at staying organized on what needs to be done when to get things done in a timely manner.  I can't seem to remember appointments unless they're written down in three different places, and there are at least two alarms to set to make sure we get the kids to school on time.  And to remind us to go get them. 

I can say that I have never forgotten one of my children in the car.  I can say that I have never forgotten to feed them. 

But that's really all I can say.

And I look around my house, and my cluttered schedule, and I wonder what the hell I was thinking, bringing two children into the world to care for, when I can barely take care of myself., we took them to a nearby large town, where there's a place where someone's model train hobby got way out of hand: two engines pulling open cars with bench seats just wide enough for an adult and a child around two miles of 24" tracks decorated for Halloween.  We weren't sure we'd be able to take them this year--the weather was a little iffy, but today dawned bright and beautiful, if chilly.  And so, we got up, made the decision, threw the kids into clothes and shoes, and hustled them off to take a 20 minute trip around that two mile loop of tracks. 

I look around, sometimes, and wonder what the hell I was thinking, thinking I could take care of two tiny, near-helpless people.  And then, on days like today, just for a little while, I stop beating myself up, and just enjoy the wonder, excitement, and joy in their eyes.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Random ramblings

So, the imp tells me that he has trouble with the "spelling" tests they're doing: the teacher says a blend, and they're supposed to write down the letters that make the sounds.  I guess that that's one of the things we need to practice. 

Fair enough.  We can do that.  But I think he needs to do more practice with the individual sounds, first.  I'll work with him on that, then move on into the blends. 

But that's keeping him at an F in the reading/language arts stuff. 

On the other hand, he's sitting at 100% on his math.  And is ahead of the rest of his class.  He's adding.  They're doing that in games only, not in graded work. 

The pixie, as a preschooler, isn't graded yet, to my knowledge, on anything other than behavior...and I haven't heard any complaints from her teacher about that. 

So.  Their teachers had a couple of in-service days, last week.  Odysseus and I were off on Monday and Tuesday, and the kids were off on Thursday and Friday.  I was able to care for them on Thursday, but Friday?  I had teaching and tutoring to do, and had no way to deal with them.  So, Thursday afternoon, Odysseus took them to the halfway point to meet his parents, and then we had a bit of a date night.  Friday, after classes for us were done, we went to visit his parents and pick them up. 

The cats expressed their distress at having been left alone all day yesterday, last night.  They were incredibly clingy and annoying.  Usually, they stare at us in disapproval from a distance. 

My students tore through the concepts I'd had to introduce them to much quicker than I'd expected.   Most of my classes in the past have tried over-complicating things that are simple because they assume it can't possibly be that simple.  These classes...haven't done that. 

Because of that, I spent four hours revising Fire and Forge. I'm working on writing an addition to one of the chapters--Spitfire--to expand some of one of the couples' stories.  I should be finished with it sometime within the next week.

I've had a couple of short stories that don't quite fit anywhere pop to mind.  I've gotten them written, and gotten one written out long hand (and still needs typed).  I'm considering putting them out as another collection.  So far, with three stories, I've got about 15,000 words (and one of those will probably be rewritten from first to third person, and expanded).  It won't be put out until I've hit around 80-120,000 words, but I keep coming up with these shorts demanding written, and don't know what else to do with them, since they're too long to post on the other blog.

Friday, October 17, 2014

FFOT: This week.

This week can fuck off so hard.  Monday, the alarm didn't go off.  No, Odysseus and I didn't have class, but the kids still had school...and they were being good, and didn't wake us up until ten 'til eight.  They're late if they arrive after 8:05, and we managed to somehow get them there by ten after.  That can fuck off. 

Second, I got sick that night with a mild gastric virus that made me run a fever, and feel like I'd eaten glass...and caused bloating and pain from that...Monday night.  I'm only just now getting over it. 

Third, my CD player in the bedroom quit working. 

And last, but not least, I think I'm coming down with a cold. 

I am so ready for this week to be over...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New recipe

I hate pinto beans.  Always have.  Always will...when fixed as bean soup.  They're a handy filler when used as refried beans and added to ground beef in tacos. 

But they're freakin' cheap.  I can get a ten pound bag of 'em from Sam's Club for just over $6.  Lots cheaper than buying cans of beans.

And...I found a way to make them that I like, just on their own. 

HH's Modified Refried Beans

1 lb (2 c) dry beans
1 onion
5 cloves garlic
1 t salt
2 T bacon grease OR 4 slices bacon OR 1/2 c bacon ends
3 T chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, pureed
shredded cheddar (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Soak the beans overnight; dump into crockpot with minced or crushed garlic (I use a garlic press) and chopped onion (bacon if you want to cook it with the bacon); cook all day.  When beans are done, drain and mash with bacon grease, salt, and pureed chipotle peppers. 

If you want to add to taco meat, about a quarter of what you just made will do--freeze the rest.  If you want bean dip, add the cheese and sour cream to taste, and eat warm. This is also excellent smeared onto a tortilla with salsa and extra cheese and eaten like pizza.

I ate until I nearly popped, last night.  And didn't get hungry before bed, either. 

I thought I hated  beans.  Turned out I just hate beans without flavor--which is the way I grew up being forced to eat them. 

I fed three adults (two grown men and me) for under four dollars last night, and had more leftovers than what we ate.  This is an excellent thing, especially in today's economy.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Huh. Good to know.

It is possible to get the kids dressed and fed, get lunch packed for the imp, and get them to school in just about twenty minutes.  If we had awakened five minutes earlier, they wouldn't have even been late.

What a day for a) the alarm to not work, and b) for the kids to be very good and very quiet so they didn't wake us up. 

Thank God it's Fall Break--we didn't have to scramble to get ourselves ready and back to campus in time for Odysseus's first class at nine.

And adrenalin works better than coffee to get me functional.  But it wears off a lot faster.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

random ramblings

The imp has grades up in the school website.  His math score is perfect.  His reading...needs work.  A lot of work.  A lot of flash card work for sounds and sight words. 

So.  Working with that.  Working with Spanish--which, if I know what he's working on, I can help teach.

Speaking of Spanish, the pixie was coloring yesterday, held up a red crayon and said "Red is rojo."  And then continued coloring, oblivious to the stunned silence.  

I haven't managed to get any grading, or much beyond simply loading and running the dishwasher, done today.  I've been floating in fog.  And it hasn't helped that it bloody hurts to type--had a finger-stick blood test today. 

And I'm too out of it to think of what else I meant to tell y'all, so I'm just going to have to sign off. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


I cannot believe that there is such a seminar as one encouraging spam emailing!  But yup--our university just had one!

Forgive me...

...but I think my thyroid meds need to be adjusted.  Upwards.  A lot.  And I've got grading and housework to do, so blogging is taking a back seat for now, because something's gotta give with this total lack of energy and coherence that I'm dealing with.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


I was reminded, this past weekend, of one of my great uncles, on my maternal grandmother's side.  He and his wife came to visit every summer during my childhood.  Every two years, they had a new car, and they had poodles.  Real ones that really are dogs in attitude, not the little football sized toys. 

My great uncle smoked a pipe.  My great aunt smoked cigarettes.  They were both in their nineties, the last time they visited, and still smoked like chimneys.  My great uncle had gone deaf, and my great aunt had gone blind (and couldn't light her own cigarettes--my sister or I did that for her, depending on who was closer at hand, since we both smoked, and none of us wanted to hear my great uncle griping about that nasty stuff).  Which leads to the funny memory that popped to mind. 

My great aunt was nagging about something, and my great uncle pointedly stared at her, reached up, and turned off his hearing aid.  Then he smirked around his pipe stem, and said, "I went deaf so I wouldn't have to listen to her nagging me anymore."

"Oh, yeah?  Well, I went blind so I wouldn't have to look at you!" she retorted.

Everybody just about died laughing. 

My great aunt passed away about seven years ago, and my great uncle passed about five years ago, a year after his youngest sister died from Alzheimer's. 

Out of all of my greats, I really miss them the most.  And the smell of a pipe will forever be associated with that great uncle, and poodles that I actually liked.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Damn Missouri weather.

We'd planned to take the imp to the zoo last weekend for his birthday; that fell through.  Saturday dawned bright and clear...and cold.  Frost on the ground until 8:00 cold.  And windy.  It didn't quite get into the sixties.  Yesterday was only a little better.

Today would have been perfect.  Unfortunately, the imp is in school today, and if we left right after we picked him up...we'd get there right as the zoo closed.

So, the zoo trip will have to be postponed indefinitely.  Thankfully, neither Odysseus nor I had mentioned it within the kids' hearing.

On this morning, six years ago, right about this time, I was standing in the NICU, petting my son's back.  He'd been born right around four hours earlier, and wouldn't come home when I did.  I was frightened, bitter, and very, very angry that things hadn't worked out normally.  He was born before the swallow reflex was developed, so he had a tube to feed him running through his nose and down his throat.  And he had an umbilical IV hooked up--I could only touch him, couldn't hold him.  He was so, so tiny: 18" long, and 3 pounds, 13 ounces.

But he was breathing on his own.  He was alert, strong, and curious about his surroundings.  He came into the world attempting to charm his nurses (and succeeding), and has stayed alert, strong, curious, and charming. 

I stood him up against the wall, last month, and marked his height: 47".  Last night, he found the scale and weighed himself--42 pounds.  And every ounce of that is solid muscle: no ribs to be seen, despite how skinny he is. 

He's grown so much, and is beginning to read. 

But it was only yesterday that I was standing next to his warming crib in the NICU, petting a tiny, tiny, tiny little back, and trying to keep him from kicking off the blood oxygen monitor wrapped around his foot.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

random ramblings

My time is no longer my own, and won't be until the kids are grown and gone.  It's twenty after seven, and I've been up for forty minutes, now.  I've been drinking my coffee, and am only just now awake and coherent enough to be able to form thoughts.  It may well not be a school morning, but that doesn't affect wake-up times. 

I know I forgot the FFOT yesterday--I'm researching for a giant one for next week on the idiots in charge. 

The imp missed having an all-green week, this week.  He says that he got orange yesterday because he didn't bring home the reading homework from the day before. 

I am not surprised--when he has homework, he has to do that before he's permitted to play.  And he's smart enough to figure that out.  He does not, however, have the cognitive tools yet to be able to guess what's going to happen when he does this.  Well, like always happens when children decide to try to be clever, he got caught.  And he wasn't permitted to watch TV last night.  And he was isolated for the evening until bedtime. 

He did, however, read his book before bed.  Last night's was the little step into reading book about Iron Man (he's read about Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, and Wolverine).  Out of the little six pack of books Odysseus got for him, he's only got The X-Men left (since we still have to find the Kindle and download The Avengers).  We're discussing what other books to order for him in the series.  I'm voting for The Guardians of the Galaxy, because the kids have a couple of things from that, and they love Groot and Rocket.

The pixie has been greatly enjoying her preschool class.  She has made several friends (pretty much the whole class), and is just the happiest little pixie in the world.  She's currently wearing a pink with red lady-bug print flannel nightgown that her grandma made her.  It's huge on her--too big around--and comes down to mid calf, with about a three inch hem that can be let down as she grows taller. 

She loves books as much as her older brother does, for all that she's not doing more than just thoroughly learning the alphabet, right now.  I've found a boxed set of princess books, and a five-in-one Disney Fairies book. 

The cats are cuddling into as small of a space as twenty-one pounds of fur can fit into.  I think they're cold.

I re-arranged the due dates for my classes' next paper.  It's due Monday, so that we can enjoy playing with the imp this weekend.  Monday is his birthday.  We'd planned a zoo trip, but the weather has rather scotched those plans.  It's bloody cold, today, and will be windy.  The pixie and I are both prone to ear ache.  My students have asked me to thank the imp for their postponed due date, and to wish him a happy birthday.

Last, but not least, I'm polishing on a short story set in the Modern Gods world--"Bar Tabs"--which I'll be publishing as a $0.99 Kindle story, and popping up as free for a while every month or so.  It's an explanation of who's who in the various pantheons, as explained by the bartender and one of the other characters.  I had a lot of fun writing it, and it really is almost done.  I'll let y'all know when it's available.

In the meantime, you can order Lizzy's Tail for your younger kids and/or grandkids at any time.  And yes, young boys do enjoy it, according to a friend whose two year old son begs her to read it to him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Stupid student tricks

I've seen several, this semester. 

I have a fairly strict attendance policy, one that's mandated by the university.  Not as strict as some others--I am human, after all--but if a student misses three weeks of a sixteen week class (nine class periods for MWF classes, and six for TTh), they fail.  No recourse.  Just out.  If they're lucky, it's before the drop date. 

I have one student who is butting up against that limit.  It's only halfway through week 7 of the semester.  He's not answering emails, and I've not seen him in about a week and a half.  And if he's not watching his email, he's not going to catch that I've asked him to drop before he fails. 

Thing is, financial aid treats drops and fails the exact same way: they're penalized.  However, a W on a transcript will not hurt the final GPA like a failed class will. 

I'm hoping that my class--a basic, core, everybody-has-to-take-it class that has nothing to do with his major--is the first time he's done this, but I'm not holding out a whole lot of hope. 

I also have a fairly strict policy about turning papers in on time.  Yeah, if someone asks for an extension, I'll grant it--this semester, I have had a girl lose her grandpa after a protracted illness that landed him in the ICU as he faded the first two weeks of semester; another who was fighting to avoid homelessness for herself and her two autistic children; a third who simply wasn't comprehending that writing a paper is as simple as following a formula until it suddenly clicked the day before due date; a young man whose wife was hospitalized and finally diagnosed, and who is still trying to find the right combo and dosage of meds to control a chronic condition. 

The extension has to be requested before the deadline.  It cannot be requested on or after a due date. 

I had three students not turn in papers, week before last.  I granted three extensions (and have gotten two of the three papers turned in--the other one was a longer extension).  One of those turned her paper in two days late with no explanation other than that she procrastinated. 

If it had been turned in on the day it was due--I accept them until midnight, when turned in electronically--the paper would have gotten a 95%.  As it was, it got a 0.  Her grade has plummeted to barely passing.  Just on not turning in one paper.  If she does it again...yeah, she's gonna have to drop.  Or take the F.

Deadlines are there for a reason, and there is no negotiating failing to meet one in my class.  I do not negotiate, do not make exceptions, because these kids have been failed by each and every teacher who has made exceptions...because they've trained the students to expect them.  And that's a failure, because there is not an employer on earth who will accept this kind of performance.  

Last semester, I had an excellent student.  She came to class every day, and spent the semester trying to bring a newly-emerged chronic health condition under control (after having spent the previous semester trying to get it diagnosed).  Toward the end of semester, she had issues with getting her last two papers turned in.  It took her A down to an F--or, at least, it would have, had I not granted her an incomplete.  She has another nine weeks to turn in those last two papers before her incomplete turns into an F automatically.  I've seen her a couple of times, and she's sworn she's going to bring me those papers...and I haven't seen them.  Or her.  Not for more than a month. 

She is also going to be reaping the consequences.  I have high hopes that that student, at least, will actually learn from her mistakes. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

incredibly proud

My imp read around half of a book to himself--I just helped with the long words, and read the sentences that he'd read the words to, after he finished, to give him a sense of the story--last night before bed.

Monday, September 29, 2014

long weekend

I was actually glad that it was Monday, this morning.  I had nearly three quiet hours to myself, which I put to good use in beta reading for a very good friend.  I've got only about 21 pages to go on his book, and was, quite frankly, a little disappointed when three o'clock rolled around and the imp got home from school, because that meant I couldn't go back to it. 

(I had a friend call, and I don't get to talk to her very often.  Otherwise, I'd probably be a lot closer to finished.)

I plan on finishing up tonight, and emailing it back, then starting on revising Fire and Forge.  And looking forward, again, to Wednesday, when I'll have the better part of five hours to myself, while my students find a computer and compose their papers...or not, since they're college students, but this removes the excuse of "I didn't have time" for the purposes of penalizing late work.

Tomorrow, I'll be minding a pixie all day, and Odysseus will likely start having midterms to study for within the next three weeks or so. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

random ramblings

My imp brought home new homework, this past week.  Phonics homework that involved more than letter sounds, and consonant-vowel blends.  His new homework involved whole words. 

My son is reading.  Less than eight weeks into kindergarten, and my son is reading.  It's something he's wanted for over a year. 

We've bought him some level one step into reading books as incentive and reward.  He's now got a set of books about Iron Man, Captain America, Spider Man, Thor, Wolverine, and The X-Men.  I can't wait to help him read them.  I cannot begin to put into words how proud I am.

The pixie got sent home with a green chalk board with lines painted on, and her name written on it for her to trace.  I've given her a stick of yellow chalk, and she's having a blast.  She's already quite good at tracing her name.  I'm very proud of her. 

The cats have rediscovered the kitty tree we got them a while back.  I think something close to a year and a half ago.  Both cats have been in the top shelf, snuggled together, the past three mornings when we've opened the pantry door to let them into the house.

Yes, we still shut the cats out of the main part of the house overnight.  They're rude, and decide to come into the master bedroom and play at two in the morning.  No way in hell are we going to leave them running around loose. 

I got the papers turned back to my students, yesterday.  I don't have to pick up papers for a bit more than a week.  I'm going to spend that time finishing the beta-reading I've been privileged to do, and finish rewriting bits of Fire and Forge

Right now, though, I need to go assemble lunch to take along to my mother's--a beef enchilada casserole

Friday, September 26, 2014


I had one of my students ask me what I knew about "ISIS or ISIL, or whatever they're calling themselves, now."  She asked me who they were, what they did, and whether I thought they were a danger.

So, I told her.  And watched her turn gray when I mentioned that they'd been seen in country, thanks to our non-existent southern border. 

And then, I pull up FB and find this: a brand new Muslim, converted in jail, gets fired, gets pissed off, beheads the first person he runs into in the plant, and stabs another.  He'd have probably done more damage had it not been for the COO of the company, who was a concealed carry holder and "reserve" deputy.  I can't find the press release to link, but here is a photo:

I've seen it written that it's "extremism," and that it wouldn't be any different if it were a Christian. 

I beg to differ.  The most I've ever seen Christian extremists do, as a group, is annoy the hell out of people, and tell them that they're going to hell.  An extremist Muslim attempts to send people there on the express lane.