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


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


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


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, 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. 


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.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Back to the grindstone.

I took last week off.  Partially by choice, partially not. 

I finished a first draft a week early, then wound up with a migraine.  I woke up Friday with the headache I'd had since Tuesday gone, but with the children out of school for Good Friday.  I still managed to get started on draft revision.  I hope to be done with the first revision by Friday, so I can get the second draft out to any beta readers that want to read it.  I've got two victims volunteers, so far. 

I think after this one, I'll be getting back into the Modern Gods universe.  Because they're pestering me the loudest at this point.