Monday, December 27, 2021

Obligations done...time for the clean-up.

Thankfully, with the kids growing out of playing with a lot of toys, there's...a lot less clean-up involved than there has been in previous years.  Four boxes wrapped, each, and one for each adult in the family. 

There's one bag of Christmas trash, and there'll be at least one bag of trash coming out of the imp's room.  He's gotten a new CD player for Christmas.  It's supposed to be mounted on the wall.  And we need a clear path across the room (a major trick in and of itself) to a wall above an outlet. (Actually, since I don't plan on even looking at cleaning up the Hot Wheels half of his room, it may be only one bag of trash out of there). 

The cool thing about that particular CD player?  It also takes a mini-memory card.  I can take kid-appropriate music off my laptop and copy it onto that for him.   I don't have to let him take any CDs into that pig sty, or burn copies for him.  

Pixie and I have both been sick.  That makes at least one big bag of mostly-kleenex trash, as well.   

And, with having been sick for a bit over a week, and having a lot of extra obligations* and crap to worry about** making sure I got done and didn't forget about, I've fallen behind on a lot of things I'd previously managed to keep up on.  Including (but not limited to) getting some of the trash out.  

That's a start, but nowhere near all I need to do to clean up from the holiday season.  I've got about a week to go of the kids being out of school, too, so I won't be ferrying them back and forth until next week.  On the other hand, I will be planning and making an extra meal every day, so energy expenditure is kind of a wash. 

Doesn't help that I think I need to be stepped back up a little on my thyroid meds.  I have been having increasing levels of "thyroid hormones too low" symptoms.  More than just the lack of energy.  I'll be due for blood work for her sometime in February, though, so it may not be worth bothering with until after that. 

I think I may wait on my living room cleanup until after Saturday, when the tree comes down and gets packed away, and just focus on the rest of the house.  Starting with the bathrooms and working my way forward, ten minutes at a time.  

*I hate Christmas.  There's so much extra we're obliged to do for family that doesn't care to come here and insists we don't care because we never go to them...I miss being a stupid kid that didn't realize just how self-centered and uncaring my family actually was.  

 **Crap to worry about: Christmas shopping this year was hard.  Not because I didn't have ideas, but because either what I'd thought of wasn't on the shelf, or had jumped in price to put it outside the budget imposed by a new set of tires for the Subaru Forester being $200 more than I'd accounted for in my planning.   

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Doll quilt...made from tee shirt scraps.


I learned a few things yesterday, while making this little project.  

1. The sewing machine very handily deals with pretty much any fabric I want to use--it's only picky about thread.  That little red and blue quilt is made from scraps cut from worn-out tee-shirt sleeves, with a back cut from a worn out undershirt.

2. What it doesn't like is feeding multiple layers of sorta stretchy fabric through.  It'll deal with two, or even three...but not four or more.  So, this little project, instead of being quilted, will have to be hand-tied.  Unless and until I get a walking foot, any stretchy fabric I turn into a quilt will be.  I have yet to see how denim does when quilted.  

3. I still need more practice, but I'm getting better at sewing straight lines, turning the project, and going back over them.  I suppose the next project will get me back in shape for that.  

4.  I need a better method for applying oil where it needs to go.  The syringes I was recommended to use are...messy, imprecise, and a pain in the ass.  

5.  I still can't cut straight lines worth a damn.  

6. When oiling the machine, I forgot to oil the treadle and pulley wheel underneath.  It decided to start squeaking yesterday.  

7.  A very vital bit of the treadle mechanism (the pitman rod that goes from the back of the treadle to the crank on the pulley wheel) is made not from cast iron like the rest of the treadle, but dark varnished wood.  Which I learned when I crawled underneath the machine with a light to oil the moving bits a little.  

8. I put the little trash can on the wrong side of the sewing machine.  I need to dig it out of kid crap and move it around to the other side.  

Last, but not least...I learned that I don't suck at this.  I just have a lot still to learn. 

Monday, December 20, 2021


Back before I had Home Ec, when I still played with Barbie dolls a mom had this nifty set of patterns for Barbie clothes.  And a lot of worn-out kids' clothes.  And a sewing machine.  And not a lot of money.  So, she made doll clothes for my sister and me.  She used all sorts of fabrics...except for old tee shirts.  I asked why, once, and she showed me.  

Her sewing machine did not play nicely with jersey knit.  Not even a little.  Where it didn't stretch the material, it puckered.  The only stitch that kinda worked a bit was the zig-zag.  

Want to hazard a guess what a lot of the material I have on hand is?  Yup.  Old tee shirts.  The other fabric I have a lot of is worn-out jeans, or the legs from cut-off jeans.  

I already knew that my sewing machine works really well and without complaint with denim.  Multiple layers thereof, even.  I wasn't so sure how it would do with tee-shirt material, since it lacks a zigzag stich, and I lack a zigzag attachment.  

On a whim, I pulled down a few old tee shirts out of my stash.  And I tested out how badly the machine would stretch and/or pucker the tee-shirt material.  

The answer was: not at all.  I had no problems with it whatsoever.  I've got so many old tee shirts in so many pretty colors... and a lot of boring colors, too. 

(And maybe I can get the pixie to stop using socks as Barbie mattresses if I make her some from old tee shirts.  Practicing.)

That has reduced the new meditation form's financial burden considerably.

Friday, December 10, 2021

*What* the *actual*...

 Okay.  I was doing some half-hearted research, today, looking into tools that would make sewing easier (got one--but not just for sewing: I got a travel iron that I'm more likely to use than the huge, heavy full-sized one that I can barely manage on a good day).  Ran across a woman who blogged and ran an Etsy store, making little things on a vintage (not like mine, but still) sewing machine.  By preference.  She had modern sewing machines, but preferred to use her older ones (she had several, some treadle, some hand crank, some hand crank adapted to run on electricity with an external motor).  She was ranting about being called a "non-working spouse" on her other half's work paperwork.  

On the one hand...yeah, her hobbies aren't paying for themselves.  Not the least because of fees and how much shipping costs.  

On the other hand...I get where she's coming from.  I don't work outside the home, but I (and other housewives) work my (our) ass(es) off, for the benefit of our families, if not for income.*

Let me give you an example.  

On a standard day, the first alarm goes off around 5:50.  I take my thyroid pill, and go back to bed.  The alarm goes off again, and I get up around 6:30.  I drag my 13 year old imp out of bed and put on the scratched record of "get the dog out.  get the dog out.  get the dog let out.  She needs to pee, imp, and she's hungry; let her out and feed her.  Thank you.  Okay.  Take your breakfast.  Get your bowl and your glass and go sit down.  Take your breakfast and sit down at the table.  Thank you.  Eat.  Put a bite in your mouth.  Chew the bite you just put in your mouth.  Chew.  Chew.  Stop talking and eat.  Take your focus pill and..."  You get the picture.  I spend half an hour chivvying one child through eating breakfast (the other does for herself, and yes, I've let her know exactly how much I appreciate her initiative).  And then reminding him every two minutes of his check list...while I fix lunches, unload the dishwasher, clean the cats' box, and look into what I need to do for the day.  

Then I sit down for about ten to twenty minutes with coffee.  At which point my computer alarm lets me know it's time to get my offspring loaded into the car and shuffled off to school...which can take anywhere from two to ten minutes, depending.  

Most mornings, I come home and make myself a second cup of coffee.  I need that before I can face the rest of the day.  I've been up for an hour and a half, by that point, but it feels (at the same time) like much longer, and not nearly that long.  

Ten minutes and internet fuckery (I had no idea quilting was so involved, people!), and then I get up.  I go clean up from breakfast, look at my daily checklist and Flylady zones, and start a load of laundry.  I straighten up and do light cleaning in my daily room and weekly zone, then I go sit down...and stare at the computer screen.  Some days I write, other days, I try.  On days I can't write new stuff, I try to edit older, nearly finished stuff.  Or I just do administrative paperwork for the household (what, you thought households lacked such?  Oh, no, my friend.  Not at all).  

By this point, my morning meds alarm goes off.  With the thyroid meds I take, I have to take everything else--supplements included--with a four hour separation window between thyroid meds and everything else.  I get up and take stuff, straighten flat surfaces a bit (I really do try to control clutter buildup).  At this point, I go get water (or a third cup of coffee.  Often that), check the dinner plans I have written on the dry-erase calendar in the kitchen, and pull stuff out of the freezer.  I putter around, straightening up a bit more in the kitchen (usually while coffee is brewing), and then go sit down and take a break.  Decide what's next.  That's usually determined by my physical state.  Sometimes I feel up to a little more activity (like moving the wash to the dryer), and sometimes I don't.  

If I don't, I go back to writing and/or planning.  Takes a lot of planning to figure out how to do the most amount of needed stuff with the least amount of wasted energy.  Maybe eat lunch (if I'm hungry...and my nerves let me...and I don't forget).  And then I get back to writing.  Sometimes it's a slog.  Sometimes the "go get the kids" alarm (2:40) startles the utter hell out of me and I've gotten anywhere from 2K to 5K words written (once, I managed a lot more, but I don't type that fast, even if my brain does move that fast).  

After I get the kids, I stuff snacks down them, chivvy them through homework, instrument practice (imp plays trumpet; pixie's taking piano lessons).  Thyroid alarm goes off (4:00), and then it's time to start supper.  I try to do a family meal once a week or so, whether everybody wants it or not (usually, somebody--and who it is varies--would rather read).  And after that, any homework that isn't done gets finished.  I clean up from supper (if I have the energy), and then I remind the kids of their after-supper checklists.  

The kids are abed by 7:30, and I'm...not fucking done, yet.  I may be physically done, but there's the next day's schedule to check, the next day's lunch on the school menu to check (do they take lunch, or eat at school?), the last bits of clean up...

I can usually sit down with a strong drink (and a substantial enough snack that I can take a dose of Aleve) at about 9:00 or so.  

Honestly, I do a lot more as a housewife/stay at home mom than I ever managed while working for money outside the house.  It's at the speed of the mighty sloth, but I really do get more done.  And on a near-daily basis.  

*Funny thing: most two income households?  Unless both are working really well-paid white-collar jobs, Mom's likely to only barely break even when childcare is taken into account.  Working outside the home for an income?  Not necessarily what's best for the family's finances.  Do the math. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Huh. *That's* cool.

I've mentioned my great grandma's sewing machine a couple times.  Well, I have successfully used it (the project in the picture was the first thing I'd made since high school).  And I've learned a few more things about it.  

First thing: I need to work with it in short bursts.  It's...well, I jokingly referred to it as great-grandma's elliptical machine.  

It wasn't that much of a joke.  Using the hand wheel to get it started and then getting the treadle going properly?  Yeah, about an hour of that made my forearm, hand, and thighs cramp, and made my legs ache pretty fiercely for a couple of days.  And I managed to not quite kick myself into a CFS/ME attack.*

Second: I need to practice with it without threading it.  It's a lovely machine, but has some serious limitations--it only does one stitch, one length, only in one direction, with no reverse.  And if I don't keep the treadle going right (with the hand wheel turning toward me), the thread snaps, and the bobbin thread snarls up and needs picked loose.  

Third: It's actually pretty easy to use.  I just need practice.  

Fourth: Singer knew their straight stitch machines were limited, and actually came up with work-arounds for house-wives who didn't want to replace their sewing machine (and yes, there would have been a lot--I don't think I will ever give this machine up, not even if/when I get enough better at sewing that I am actually adjusting the fit of my own clothes).  At some point, when a Japanese brand came out with a model that had a zigzag stitch, Singer engineered their own...and made an attachment for their straight-stitch machines that would do the zigzag stitch.  No, the needle doesn't move back and forth like it does on a modern machine--the attachment moves the fabric back and forth.  I've seen videos of it being used, and it's cool as hell.  

Singer also made button-hole attachments that worked the same way for their straight stitch machines.

Yes, the attachments are out there, and yes, I can find them for purchase.  And I will likely go for them, eventually.  

Fifth: I am not set up to sew.  There are a lot of tools I really need, first.  I've lost track of all of my scissors, and my daughter's claimed the one set I had put aside for fabric for her birthday model.**  And I need to read the chapters in my Good Housekeeping ginormous book of needlework that includes everything from sewing (clothes, quilts, and household "soft furnishings) to crochet to tatting to knitting (which was why I initially snitched it from my mom when she said she never looked at it anymore).    

I am making a list of the tools I need, and of the tools I'd like to have.  Yes, there's a difference--that's why there are two lists.  (I need an iron.  I'd like a sleeve-board, but I have a travel ironing board that will work well enough.  I need a set of pinking shears, a good pair of scissors for paper, and a better set of fabric shears than the ones my daughter took off with.  I'd like a rotary cutter and mat, but I don't need those, since I'm still barely learning.)  

Sixth: I think this is something I need to do.  Using my great-grandmother's treadle machine gets all of the different threads in my brain untangled and working together, rather than at cross-purposes, much like target-shooting with a bolt-action rifle (which I called loud meditation) used to do.  I can't really do the loud meditation as often as I really need to anymore--I don't have the energy budget to be able to with all of the other demands on it.  But I might be able to take up sewing with the treadle machine in short, daily bursts, and have the same, beneficial effects.  

Seventh (and last): It's gonna be funny as hell when my doctor asks (as they always do) what kind of exercise I'm getting, and I tell her that I've started sewing.  And only tell her what I'm using after she's started looking confused. 

*I managed to avoid it, but my kitchen suffered.  

**The pixie is now eleven years old, and was really irritated that all of the models she had ever seen were for boys, and was utterly delighted when I got her a doll house model.  But she needed my fabric scissors for some of the steps. 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Bit over two weeks left before end of first semester

The kids just came off of Thanksgiving Break.  They had the whole week, this time.  They have two more weeks after this one before Christmas Break.  

Well.  One week, then "semester finals" week for the imp.  They'll review Monday the 13th, then have two tests per day, and get out before lunch for the last week before break starts.  

And then, they've got two weeks (and a day) of break: they're off from 11:00 am on the 17th of this month through the 3rd of January (they go back on the 4th).  They're almost halfway done with the school year, at this point.  

And my year of no new ending.  I don't know, yet, whether or not I will make resolutions for next year.  I'm currently thinking not.  I'm still trying to keep my feet under me.

Last January, I foresaw an utter shit year.  And I was right.  I foresee a lot more of them--at least three more.  It's gonna get a whole lot worse before there's a chance of it getting better.  The FICUS's handlers will see to that.*

I did manage to finish up a few things this year: a few knitted projects, two novel drafts, a few short stories, and I finally got the courage together to try fixing Grandma's sewing machine.  Started trying to figure it out, and figure out the right tension...

And then I discovered that thread rots.  I did not know that.  I did not know that at all...until the thread I had on hand broke between the bobbin shuttle on Grandma's old treadle machine and the needle.  More than once.  I've now got a good-sized package of smaller spools of thread, in multiple colors: black, white, tan, brown, gray, blue (light blue and navy), and red.  And my next big project is learning to use that treadle machine.  I'll have a couple of weeks of kids underfoot (time I can't really spend writing because the little shits will be getting along...until suddenly they don't, or suddenly, they're rambunctious enough that I need to kick them outside...or whatever...which means part of my attention needs to be on them, rather than all of my attention being focused on the story in some way, shape, or form).  That will be ideal for learning, I think. 

I've got some mending projects that I'll be working on, once I've learned to use my treadle machine: first, part of my apron (which I'm starting to need) is letting go--the binding around the edge which also includes the tie behind my back had the stitching break, somehow, and needs sewn back down.  That will be the first mending project.  The second is the pair of work slacks that precipitated the whole "need a functional sewing machine" mess in the first place.    

So, yeah--lots to do, some of it I can even do over Christmas Break...which is speeding in its approach. 

*Okay, does anybody, anybody at all, really think that Biden is running the show?  I'll wait...  No?  Yeah, this is a nasty case of elder abuse, and not even the pedo-in-chief post turtle deserves that.  Just like the rest of us don't deserve this reprise of the worst of the '70s. 

Thursday, November 25, 2021


I tend to be really bad about starting projects and not finishing them.  Or starting a project but forgetting where I was in it, or having the inspiration for it fade a bit, or losing energy to work on it, or losing motivation to work on anything, or setting it down somewhere, or...

Yeah.  More ways to say "not finishing them."

I'm trying to do better.  

I have a lot of yarn.  And some crochet thread.  Mostly handed on to me from relatives who'd stashed it, then lost the ability (age, arthritis, shingles eating into the nerves of dominant hands, etc) to work with it.  I've been trying to use it up, recently, and I've made some headway.  Decent headway, even, considering.  The yarn is uniformly acrylic, mostly Red Heart cheap acrylic, and kind of scratchy (with one, notable exception that mimics mohair, of which I have enough to make myself another sweater...and probably will). 

My current project is actually finished.  The labels on the yarn said it was black, but it's not.  It's more a shimmery, dark charcoal gray.  Scratchy as hell, but there was enough of it (five 3.5 oz skeins) to make a lap-sized afghan.  It's pretty, and I'll likely keep it in my library for use in here.  

I've got my first, huge knitted project in here already.  It's an afghan sized for (probably) a queen-sized bed, in black, red, gray purple, and blue stripes of varying sized.  Knitted on size 8 knitting needles.  It took me three years of (admittedly very intermittent) work, but I did finish that one.  I bound it off my freshman year of college, and have mostly stuck to no bigger than scarves, shawls, small afghans, and sweaters since.  

But back to that big afghan.  

It...doesn't go with any of the colors already in here, and clashes with several.  And the kids desperately want it back.  They'd been using it in the family room to cuddle under on the couch while they watch TV (as it's big enough they can cuddle under it without actually cuddling each other...which, like cats, causes fights).  

That means my next big project is already planned.  Big projects are ones that stay next to my chair because they're unwieldy to take with me to work on when I sit down somewhere (like visiting relatives, waiting on picking up the kids from school, waiting in line, waiting on tires to be mounted & balanced, waiting at doctors' offices...).  I have two one pound skeins of navy blue yarn, and will be working on a larger afghan for the lovely burgundy loveseat I found for my library.  I will just need to switch my size 10 interchangeables to the longest of my circular cords--which is two joined together with an adapter. 

Smaller projects, current definition of a "smaller project" is "one I can fit in my purse."  Which, while large, isn't that big, and is taken up with things necessary to other projects--paper, pens, my planner, and things like that.  I used to be able to bring a mid-sized project in its own tote bag, because a lot of my "waiting" time is spent in the car, but now, my front passenger seat is spoken for.*  And the little twerp insists his trumpet, backpack, and massive binder must be in the front with him, rather than the cargo space in the very back.  Which...leaves no room for anything of mine at all.

Yes, I have a small project on needles.  Right now, it's on double pointed needles, but I will need to shift to a set of interchangeable size 7 circular needles on the shortest cord soon.  This is yarn I had purchased a while back, and is a wool/acrylic blend.  I bought it for a sweater (yes, I finished it, and yes, I wear it--often, in the winter), and had several skeins left over.  My darling other half requested a hat, so a hat I am making.  A thick, double-layered stocking cap that will felt together somewhat when washed.  I'll have to see how much of the yarn I have the hat will take up.  I have no idea, at present--I don't make a lot of hats, and I have never before made a double layered one.  

Why no, I don't have a pattern I'm following.  I haven't found one I liked.  I have done research about how it's done, in general, and I will be making measurements to fit this more precisely to my other half.  But I don't have a pattern.  

(I often don't. Mostly because I can't find any specific to the projects I want to make, but partially because, like good cooks, I've been knitting long enough--almost thirty years, now--that I may start with a pattern, but usually end up modifying it to the point that it only barely resembles the original, and I like it better anyway.)

*My 13 year old son has claimed shotgun whenever both parents aren't along.  Eventually, I will make him take turns with his sister, but she's not quite tall enough for it to be safe, yet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Something old...

When I was a little girl, my grandma used to sit me on the treadle of an old Singer sewing machine, under the cabinet, for time-outs.  Like all kids did, I'd get bored and look at stuff.  There was a broken leather belt, and fragments of baling twine stuck in the treadle wheel.  I asked Grandma what it was, and she said it was her mom's sewing machine from before anybody had electricity.  No, she'd never used it.  No, she had no interest in fixing it--she had a good electric machine, why would she want to?*

I'd wanted that sewing machine for a long time.  The table it's in is really pretty (even if it really needs some repairs/rebuilding done), and I developed a phobia of electric sewing machines when I was in my very early teens, after one seriously malfunctioned in Home Ec class.  I made sure my family knew not to get rid of it because I wanted it.  And because I wanted to fix it.  

Fast-forward to 2017: we bought this house.  And not long after we moved in, my aunts and my mom came up to visit...with that sewing machine in Mom's pickup bed.  It is a heavy bastard: the sewing machine itself is cast iron.  The treadle is, too.  The gears inside it, and all of the workings are heavy steel.  Only the table and drawers are made of wood.  But three old ladies and two young ones got that heavy bastard unloaded, and set on a scrap of carpet in the entry hall.  

And it's sat there for four year, being used as a side-table.  Same use my grandma put it to.  

Until recently.  

My other half has a pair of slacks that need to be repaired.  One of the seams let go.  Should be a fairly simple repair...if I can get a sewing machine to work.  

I had a small, cheap, plastic (and plastic geared) Singer sewing machine--an electric one--intended for light mending.  I bought it, intending to do some mending, and one of my aunts asked to borrow it.  She gave it back, not long after, telling me that it didn't work.  

As it turned out, she'd tried using it to hem some jeans.  And had stripped the hell out of the gears inside the machine, and bent the needle to the point where it wouldn't go through the plate to pick up thread from the bobbin.  No shit it didn't work--you don't use a light mending machine on anything heavier than light cotton.  

I...had not known just how badly she'd FUBARed my machine, until I pulled it out to try mending Odysseus's work slacks.  

And my mother-in-law's light-mending (aka, semi-disposable) Brother sewing machine...the drop-in bobbin's design is utter shit.  I can't get the thing threaded so that the needle will pick up the bobbin thread.  

I didn't (and don't) have $150-200 to spend on a decent sewing machine...but I had Grandma's treadle machine.  I opened up the table and took a look at it.  

To start with, I stepped back, and just looked at it.  It is, in a word, gorgeous.  It's a Model 27 Vibrating Shuttle machine.  Yeah, the decals are worn (off, in places, and just worn down to silver in others), but holy crap is the machine itself pretty!  It's not a square chunk of plastic like most of the modern ones, but a thing of graceful curves and lines.  The hand wheel turned--stiff, but it turned--and moved the needle up and down.  And flipped the bobbin back and forth.  It...honestly, it looked like it would work.  I just had been afraid to look at it before then.    

All it needed was the new belt (I'd spent my childhood picking fragments of baling twine out and dusting a lot of the treadle and treadle wheel with my picky little fingers), and some oil.  Honestly, it needed a lot of oil.  It hadn't seized up, but it was...really stiff.  

I'm friends with somebody on social media who fixes old treadle machines for fun.  With his advice and instructions (and help finding bits and bobs--like the treadle belt), I managed to get the machine up and running.  Sort of.  Maybe.  

I haven't tried sewing on it, yet, but the hand wheel and treadle work together, and the bobbin winder looks like it'll work fine, too.  

But all in all?  It cost me less than $20 to fix a machine that the serial number put at just over a hundred years old.**

I am going to learn to sew, and on this machine.  And, when I am gone, it will go to my daughter.  

And I have every expectation that it will still work just fine.  And be higher quality than anything new she'll be able to get.  

*To be fair to Grandma, she wasn't wrong.  Her electric sewing machine was made in the '50s, and the only bits on it that need work are easily sourced and replaced.  It still runs fine, despite being seventy years old.  

**The serial number on the treadle machine indicates that it was built toward the end of the first half of 1898. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Well. Sudden cat syndrome is a thing.

 It's been a busy morning.  I've had a little bit of energy, and a lot of little things that need done, half of them things I could do sitting.  So, I've alternated standing tasks (starting a load of sheets in the wash, for example) with sitting tasks (decluttering coffee table/end tables).  

And then, I sit down to know, one of the other things I need to do.  

And I suddenly get a cat in my lap.  

I'm not in my recliner, with my laptop, which means the cat gets half my lap, and I can still work.  No.  I'm at the desktop.  Where the most comfortable way to write is with my keyboard in my lap because I am not sized normally.  

And before I can pick up the keyboard, I wind up with an 11 lb house panther curled determinedly in the way, glaring at me.  

She glares at me for reaching over her to type, too, but that's less of a deterrent than how much it hurts my shoulders, wrists, and elbows to type with my arms in the air. 

Thursday, November 11, 2021


 Okay.  I've had this laptop for a little less than a year (bought in January of '21). Yes, I've used it all day, every day, within that year, but... shouldn't be threatening to die on me already.  

So.  Tuesday, I woke up with an incipient migraine--halos, sound and light sensitivity, irritability, and all--and went through my normal morning routine: get dressed, get the kids up and fed, get the kids' school lunches made, just...get shit done, y'know?  And then, I sat down with my laptop to surf the news and check email while I drank coffee.  

And two minutes after I started using it, it quit being able to access the internet.  It's done that a couple of times, now.  I started out with turning the wireless card off, then back on.  Then, when that didn't work, running the troubleshooter.  And then, I tried the restart. froze.  And then I got a blue screen announcing that Something Was Wrong.  And Please Wait while the laptop tried to repair itself.  

It spent the whole day at 0% done, on a blue screen.  


I had two finished first drafts of two different novels on this damn piece of hardware.  And several finished short stories.  I can't just...toss it.  So, we've spent two full days trying to get the stupid thing to unfuck itself to the point where I can get my damn finished drafts off of it.  And we start trying something else tonight, and it... unfucks itself, and starts.   

I will be spending quite a bit of time grabbing usernames and passwords off this hunk of plastic.  As well as the documents.  Looks like the documents copy over is about 40% complete, at the moment.  And yeah, I'll use it for surfing comfortably in the evening until it dies the final death, but...

I think I'll be using the desktop for the foreseeable future.  I don't think I trust my laptop anymore.  Not even as far as I can throw my car. 

I think I'm going to need another draft book, though--one of the book ideas I had came abruptly unstuck when I moved over to the desktop.  

I am going to have to find my Office CDs.  I don't think Libre Office has the functionality I really need for what I want to do.  

The moral of the story?  Computers may be a necessary evil in the modern world.  However, that does not mean that they aren't evil. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021


It's the 20th anniversary of the nastiest sneak attack we've ever had on US soil.  

Rage has distilled into bitterness.  Because, thanks to the chattering political nitwits, the post turtles, and the FICUS, nothing has really changed.  

Not because we didn't wake up.  But because most of the country rolled over and went back to sleep.  Were sung back to sleep by the twats selected by our political betters to run the country pushing the idea that of course it couldn't happen again...see all of the security theater we put together?  It keeps us all safe.  Never mind that it's been proven to not work...or that the agents and agencies put in place have been proven, over and over again, to be morons and thieves...  

And now.  


The FICUS who uses the imperial first person plural pronouns to indicate itself has not just demonstrated its own uselessness, but has given the enemy the understanding that the nation is as weak as it is.  As stupid and as inept.  

Because we elected* it right? 

The FICUS has not just set us up for more attacks, but also imported our attackers without vetting that they were actually in danger if left in place (and, in fact, it's been pointed out that several Afghanis brought over were likely terrorists, even as we drone-bombed our own allies by "accident").  

So, no.  I'm not angry anymore.  I'm bitter, and filled with cold rage, but not angry.  

I'm way past angry.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Juggling and spirals

I'm having trouble keeping all my balls in the air.  I keep focusing on the stuff that I can't manage because the tools aren't there.  And with that--with being focused on the stuff I can't manage--I'm starting to drop other balls.  Ones that, were I paying attention to the right thing, I wouldn't be having trouble with. All the balls I've dropped are rolling around underfoot, and I'm not just dropping the rest, but losing my balance.

I need to stop, breathe, refocus, and pick up one task.  One ball. 

Imp is having trouble with school.  I keep reminding him to hang on, he's got a doctor's appointment tomorrow, and we'll have an updated 'scrip in another week or two, but he really is having trouble.  

I think we've got things adjusted so that he's not overwhelmed by all the crap in his locker--the system with the one, big binder with all his stuff for all his classes seems to work better than the one with a binder for each class.  Each class has its own section in the binder: there's a folder for the class, then divider tabs, and paper for each class's work and notes.  

Right now, his problem is a negativity spiral.  He can't pull out of it.  He's stuck on "I can't remember/I can't do it/I'm going to fail"--stuck on the problem, and can't re-focus to fixing the problem.  He doesn't even know where to start to fix the problem (remember that problem with under-developed executive function?).  

He's stuck.  His focus is stuck.  He's feeling like he's starting to drop the balls that are being thrown at him.  

I know exactly what that feels like: I cope with that, too.  I'll be managing things on my limits and then boom--something goes wrong.  And then everything goes wrong when I change focus to deal with the one thing.  The routine gets broken, because my checklist to help me remember things can't cover the extra.  And neither does my energy or focus levels.  

As an adult, I know that the only thing to be done is to slow down, take a breath, focus on what I've dropped, and pick up one ball.  Not immediately try to get them all back in the air, just one.  

For example, with the line to the kitchen outlets being broken or having a short somewhere, I have no dishwasher.  I don't have the energy to deal with dishes on top of taking care of the kids' back-to-school needs and rebuilding routines,* and without the dishes, it's a lot harder to keep up with cooking.  The summer heat making me not want to cook isn't helping.  Feeding my family is one of the big things in my routines.  And not having my dishwasher or cooking every night is making me drop all the balls.  And having one of the two kids in desperate need of extra support and help isn't helping me pick the balls up.  

I need to focus on one ball

I'm focused, right now, on getting the imp on his feet in school. He's got a system that will work when his meds dose gets adjusted...and I've got his doctor's appointment made for tomorrow afternoon.  It was the soonest I could get him in.  

He's missed a few assignments.  I took him back in to get the book one of the assignments was from, and I got him to do one of them last night.  I contacted the other teacher, and got the low-down on what happened in her class, and got the imp to admit he needed help, but didn't know what to do.  I got that managed (son, you need to ask for help when something isn't working).  

One ball managed.  Next ball: getting my kitchen back.  

Working on that one.  Got an appointment set up with a different set of electricians because the first set is dropping balls.  I sympathize, but I need my kitchen.  

It's a step-by-step process.  But it's taken me decades to figure out how to manage when all the balls go everywhere.  

The imp is dealing with all the balls going everywhere, and he doesn't even have the tools to know where to start picking them up.  So he gives up and curls up and does nothing. entirely typical and understandable for someone with his challenges.  

First ball: get the dropped homework done and turned in.  I think we've got that managed, now.  And got a system so he doesn't lose it instead of turning it in.  He just has to build it into an automatic habit.  

Where my challenge is ME/CFS draining my energy and triggering brain fog (and sometimes triggering my body into attacking itself), his challenge is that he's growing.  He's needing constant monitoring of his weight, size, and dosage, and he's almost 13--his hormones are starting to step in and interfere.  Eventually, that will settle, but right now, it's making him crazy, and he doesn't have the perspective or the tools to pull himself out.  

So, right now, it's my job, as his mom, to pull him out of his spiral.  It's...not easy, with all the things that push his focus to keep him in it.  Especially when both he and I are still trying to figure out what's working, what isn't, and what's not just not working but backfiring.  And when I'm trying to keep his spiral from making him withdraw, curl into a ball, and stop listening and trying.  

One ball.  Once he's got a handle on that--once I have a handle on that--we'll add another.  

Tomorrow, I get to work getting the kitchen back, which will let me get that ball at least picked up so I don't stumble on it when it rolls underfoot.  And tomorrow, I get the imp to his doctor and get that ball picked up. 

One ball at a time.  Pick them up.  Stop letting them take my feet out from under me.  Then work on getting them back in the air. 

*I'm not talking about building routines for the kids.  I'm talking about building routines for me.  Because my limits keep changing.  I think I'm doing something right, because sometimes, I can add things, rather than drop them.  I just wish I knew what I was doing right, so that I could keep doing it, and maybe someday get closer to my old normal than I currently am. 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Balls. (FFOT)

I've still not got my kitchen back.  I think we may have to go with a different electrician.  I really, really need my dishwasher.  This is not on.  It's been a month

I found out the hard way that I can't tolerate quinine.  I made myself a cocktail with tonic water, and reacted badly to it.  Bad, bad side effects that lasted for more than 24 hours (although the worst was only about 12 hours.  I this.  Because a glass mostly full of ice and tonic with a shot of Kracken and a little bit of lime is damn tasty.  And refreshing when it's so stupidly hot and heavily humid as it's been recently.  

My imp's school specified a 1" binder for each class.  We...tried that.  It didn't work.  So didn't work.  Five binders, plus books for classes equals overwhelming for any kid, but neurotypical kids adapt and organize fairly quickly and with varying degrees of well.  Not so much with a neurodivergent kid (like mine, with ADHD).  What we are doing instead is simple: everything goes into a 3" binder with a shoulder-strap.  The classes are divided out by a folder that matches the color we used on his class schedule.  I need to simplify his schedule, too--it's cluttered and confusing for him.  He still doesn't have it memorized, after two full weeks.  

The housework need of attention.  I am trying to keep things picked up off the floor so that I can justify getting a self-emptying robot vacuum.  I can't keep up with the picking up and the sweeping/vacuuming.  Especially not with having to do dishes by hand (even the few that can't be disposables).  

Stress.  Stress sucks.  Especially when you can't stop worrying about things you can't do anything about.  Not because it's national, but because the things you are worrying about aren't things, but the people in your life that you can't do anything to help, either because they fight you on it, ignore you on it, or you've flat given up on trying because they sabotage it.  Stress brings on extra inflammation, and eats energy, and one bad thing about a multitasking brain is that, even when I'm doing something else, I'm still worrying.  Because one track of my brain is still able to focus on that (and does) even when I've got all the others working on something else.  

I have two more weeks before I can get back into my fucking hotmail account.  Two weeks ago, it told me I had to update my security or else.  And then booted me out.  And when I signed in, it told me to input a code from a text.  Sent to my home phone number which doesn't receive texts.  I gave the fucker an alternate email address to send the code to, and it let me in just long enough to input the code from that, then booted me out again, and said I couldn't sign back in until 9/11.  Everything goes to that email addy.  Everything.  Because it's the one I've used for everything since I got married in 2004.  

Dusty Hill died.  So did Charlie Watts.  Yes, I know they were on the older side, especially for rock stars, but damn.  Two of the greats.  I am dreading who's going next.  C'mon, Death, take one of the pop tarts that can't sing or play instead of the greats, this time.  It's been a hell of a month, and I need a fucking break. 

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

ADHD sucks.

Middle school.  


Changing classrooms and classes and teachers every hour.  

Trying to keep up with the supplies, organizational demands, and the work load that God has not gifted you the tools to deal with that everyone else has.  

ADHD kids don't even know where to start.  They've got no idea how to deal with any of it.  And worse, the shift toward a high-school-type schedule has thrown off whatever routine and equilibrium they'd had built up.  

Why is it so hard?  

Executive function.  It's a fancy name for how your brain organizes and prioritizes projects and tasks.  It's the framework most people take for granted in dealing with their day.  The alarm goes off, and your average neurotypical rolls over and smacks the snooze, stretches and dozes and works on waking up, then gets up when the alarm goes off again.  They wander thoughtlessly through getting dressed, eating, grooming, and getting ready to go.  They don't have to think about every single step.  

ADHD includes something called executive function disorder.  It's what turns a routine into a disorganized mess.  Someone with ADHD cannot run on autopilot through their morning--they have no autopilot.  Some work around it; others are the disorganized mess running out the door with an armload of papers drooling out of their grip, having lost or forgotten anything and everything from keys to writing utensils to phones to...well, everything.  

Part of the problem is that the brain lacks several key capabilities--someone with ADHD does not make sufficient dopamine.*  There's less insulation between their emotions and their impulses and their actions than normal people have, because their brains do not reward them for correct actions by producing dopamine.  And that "reward" is what helps build executive function in neurotypicals.  From toddlerhood

A lot of people with ADHD lean on waiting until the last possible second to do things, and depend on the adrenaline rush from panic to snap them into focus so that they can do thing things neurotypicals expect to be easy for everyone: things like planning out a draft, planning the steps, estimating the time each step takes, and working slowly, steadily, methodically, and without stress to finish the project.  

Without executive function, people with ADHD lack that sense of how long something is going to take.  They think it'll take forever, when it might be half an hour or so, at most.  So they start out not knowing where to start (and feeling overwhelmed), or how long it's going to take (making it worse), and can't push themselves to get started at all.  Literally cannot.  They want to.  And can't.  And if they try, nothing works--their brain goes off in a million directions, with none of them useful.  

Parents can provide some framework; parents can teach their kids how to build scaffolding so that they have something external that takes the place of internal executive function.   It's hard, though--neurotypical parents don't have any idea how to break down and teach what comes so automatically to them; parents with ADHD may still be suffering from the same problems, and can't help without figuring it out for themselves, first.  

Building that framework is essential.  Start with the very basic step: what is it you need to do first?  Write that down.  Then write down what goes next.  Build a checklist.  People with ADHD can't simply build a routine and get it into autopilot.  They have to keep double-checking that list, or they'll get out the door and find they've forgotten deodorant.  Or that they didn't get their hair or teeth brushed.  Because they got distracted by something else their brain flung at them instead.  

Build a checklist for once you get where you're going--work or school.  Color code it.  Match whatever supplies you need to the color blocks on your schedule.  

Build a framework: make sure reminders are visible and attention-catching.  Set alarms, use timers.  Use bright markers and bright colored sticky notes.  If it's out of sight, it's out of mind.  

And then forgotten.  And not done.  

Medication does help, but it isn't a miracle or a cure, and won't build the scaffold.  It only lets people focus long enough that they can.  

ADHD sucks.  It's awful.  People with ADHD have to find work-arounds to mimic what neurotypicals do as a matter of course, and they have to work four times as hard to have half of the success.  

*Dopamine and serotonin production can be supported, but it's hard to do, and people with ADHD have to be careful.  One of the best ways is through diet; one of the most common ways to trigger dopamine production ends up...backfiring.  Finding foods that stimulate the production of serotonin can also help with stimulating the production of dopamine, but the issue is that dopamine is also produced by empty, simple carbohydrates--junk food and sugar--because it tastes good, all of which exacerbate the inability to focus, and further damage any executive function abilities.  

Thursday, August 5, 2021

It's one of the best times of the year!

Missouri has, for the past several years, set the first weekend in August (from 12am on Friday morning to 11:59pm Sunday night) as a state sales tax holiday on everything needed for back to school, including clothes and electronics.  Tomorrow, I do back-to-school shopping.  Without paying state sales taxes.  Or city, since I'll be shopping in a township that participates in the sales tax holiday.  I hate the shopping part, so we go as early as I can get everyone around and out the door (before 8:00 am).  And we go through and methodically check off things as we acquire them.  

Yesterday, my enterprising pixie asked me to find and print their school's supply list, and went through, gathering everything on the list she could get her hands on.  It was a surprisingly large amount.  I think I can give her a small list and have her find her things she's missing (I think there's a total of five things).  

My son, on the other hand...he's going into middle school.  His school is wanting an inch and a half binder for each major core class.  He needs zipper binders.  As in really needs zipper binders.  He's the world's most awful klutz where dropping his binders is concerned, and the most likely for said binder to explode papers everywhere.  Because the rings either pop open (it's happened), or because he hasn't managed to put the things in the rings, yet.  

My wallet mourns.  As does my determination to buy as little "made in China" as humanly possible.

Thankfully, the reduction of what the pixie needs should make it much easier to afford what the imp needs.  

Both kids will need clothes, but not a lot just yet--they've got sufficient summer-weight stuff, and winter stuff isn't even out yet.  Some I'll have to order online, since the girls' polo shirts are limited in local stores where the city's participating in the tax-free holiday to two colors: navy blue and white.  The imp is starting to need different sizes than what I can find in the kids' section (bigger sizes assume "hefty" and he's...the opposite).  Shoes, on the other hand...yeah, the imp needs shoes.  Badly.  His are worn out.  

So, there's a big shopping push this week, then next week...Tuesday is back to school night, where they take stuff and load their desks and locker.  We'll be signing paperwork, picking up information packets on drop off and pick up while they get set up for classes starting back up.  Then Thursday, they start back to school (yes, I'm very excited about this, if you can't tell).  No masks will be required, no "hybrid of online and in person for middle school and high school" like last year...the only thing they're still doing is staggering when you can get in and out of the building by last name, and trying to keep kids isolated by "color groups" (however well that works...).  

I know they've been busy all summer, but I am ready for them to go back.  Partially because I need to know--sooner, rather than later--if the imp needs his meds adjusted for school, or if his current dose is still good for him, and I won't know until school actually starts

Thursday, July 29, 2021

I have air!

The electrician came out and fixed the tripping (biting) breaker.  I have the most important of the important things back up and running...however.  


I still do not have a dishwasher.  Or anything going to any of the kitchen outlets.  The ones just outside the kitchen work fine, though.  

And the electrician has no idea why the breaker's got power but the outlets don't.  His best guess was a short somewhere.  Or something.  But there's no way he'd be able to fix it for us today.  Or tomorrow.  Or this week.  Or next week.  Because their company's running all the electricians' legs off, trying to keep people's AC units from killing their house.  

The fix is going to be unhooking the current wire from everything, and running new wire.  He said it won't be nearly as expensive as it could be, because the kitchen is very close to the panel.  

So, right now, we're looking at mid-August, at best, before I can get that done.  And will be hand-washing dishes until then (and using disposables for absolutely everything I can get away with using them for).  

But this time, I have a stainless steel sink, and actual pressure in the pressure sprayer setting on my pull-down faucet for handwashing the dishes!  Joy!

Okay, sarcasm done.  That said, having a working sprayer does make things a little easier.  The old one...barely dribbled. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

New sink

So.  I now have a new kitchen sink.  Stainless, not composite.  New faucet (pull down sprayer head--which I like, and which works, unlike the sprayer in the old sink).  I no longer have a garbage disposal (which makes me very happy).  And, as I'd suspected, the drains were done wrong.  So, that has all been corrected.  

It came in over the bid by about a hundred bucks, but I'd already mentally accounted for that.  

Sink has four holes.  One is used by the faucet.  

Heh.  I now have pump nozzles that have a hose that runs down into the big bottles of soap under the sink.  One goes in the dish soap, and a second goes into hand soap.  

Leaves me with one open hole...which Odysseus suggested putting another soap pump into.  For Gojo.  

I admit it, I cackled when I got that email suggestion while the plumber was here.  He got...concerned.  Because I'm not sure I sounded sane.  I passed along the message to reassure him that I wasn't crazy, and the plumber thought that was a great idea, and he'd do it if it was his sink, and..."You're gonna let him, right?  Right?"  

I have a third pump system ordered.  

That's one thing dealt with.  

And another...went wrong, yesterday.  Morning.  Just as it was starting to get really hot outside  

I went into the kitchen to get some ice, and the dispenser coughed, went kerchunk, and then didn't do anything.  Neither did the water dispenser.  So I open the door, and...the light's out.  I figured the breaker tripped (but had no idea why, and still don't.  Not really).  Went to reset it.  And it tripped the breaker for the heat pump.  I reset that.  It...snapped (I got a small shock like static on a doorknob, because I was already pulling my hand back), and the whole house went dark. 

Um.  Yeah.  Called my other half* because I was freaking out (but trying not to let kids see, because they were already freaking out over lights and music going off).  I was expecting either a call back with "electrician's on the way" or a call back with "call this number" or something, so I was mildly startled when he pulled in about twenty minutes after I'd called.   

The house breaker got turned back on, and the heat pump breaker tripped.  Odysseus flipped it, and it kicked the house off.  And he flipped the house back on, the heat pump breaker tripped.  He...yeah, he left it that way, and flipped the breaker for the fridge off, then back on. 

Um...didn't work.  The fridge is still lights-out, and so was everything on the power strip to the same outlet.  O...kay.  

Checked the dishwasher.  It's out, too--the power won't come on.  So, it's the whole circuit.  Does not matter what position the breaker's in, nothing in that corner of the kitchen works.  

We have an "oh, shit, the AC's out and the heat index is going closer to the hundred-teens than hundreds" portable AC unit with wheels and a hose that goes out the window, now.  We didn't before yesterday.  

And I'm waiting for the electricians to show up.  Yesterday, they said it might be today.  

The fridge is currently plugged into a heavy-duty extension cord which is plugged in behind the washer.  Which was a brilliant idea Odysseus had...after we'd crammed all of our food into the overflow fridge and deep freeze.  So, the fridge is working, but not the dishwasher. 

But I have a new sink.  And the plumber that came out and put it in was freakin' awesome.  

*I called his cell phone at work.  I try to not do that.  But...the whole house going dark after I'd been shocked flipping a breaker warranted it, in my opinion.  

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Progress and...oof.

We've been working on the house this year.  Now that I've recovered from whatever hit me a year ago February, I got stuck back into the FlyLady system, and started figuring out what needed done, and in what order for taking care of the house.  First up was the roof (obviously).  That led us to another problem we didn't know about--the chimney for the fireplace had some bricks missing.  Missing, as in, missing entirely, no idea where they were, because they weren't anywhere around the house or on the roof. And that could lead to future leaks.  I'd have moved on that, but I didn't have any idea who to call about that. 

And then I remembered that my mother-in-law had had an issue with the flashing around her chimney causing leaks, and got the name and number of the guy she'd used.  And I called him last week.  He came out Thursday morning, and got up on the roof to look about it.  There are 22 bricks either missing or crumbling and in need of replacement.  The quote on that isn't complete, yet--the guy said he needs to look through the materials he has before he can tell us if he needs to buy bricks for it or not.  He gave me a ballpark quote that is well within range of what we can do, so I'll make sure and get that on the docket as soon as possible. 

Another call I made last week was to the plumbing company we've been using recently.*  They got one out to me the next day, to do a job and a couple of quotes.  The bathtub faucet (and the nipple it was attached to) has now been replaced with one that attaches to a shower head wand on a hose.  The bathroom walls are tiled to about half-height, including in the bathtub, so we'll be putting up vinyl panels between the tiles and ceiling.**  We may do a vinyl panel on the ceiling, too.  It depends on how things go.  

Had the guy do up quotes for us on putting a new kitchen sink and faucet in, and running new lines from the propane tank to the house with ways to hook up a propane cook stove and eventually a furnace.  No, I don't plan on fully replacing the heat pump, but the heat pump is not adequate for heating during winter temperatures.  Even if it does well enough for spring and fall, and does an excellent job cooling.  

That...well.  The sink will be done when they can get to us.  I've already accepted the bid, and acquired the materials (sink, supply lines, faucet, etc).  The significantly higher than--as in, about double--what I thought it would be.  

Unfortunately, the cost has pushed the propane line down the priorities list.  Because the carport needs dealt with, first.  I'd really rather not have it fall in on the vehicles.  

The last things that need done...we need four GFCI outlets put in.  One on either side of the kitchen sink, and one in each bathroom.  We might be able to do those...were it not for the badly done tile.  I mean, it looks good, but whoever did those jobs did not do a good job around the outlets.  And we need someone who knows what they're doing to work around the tile, or fix the botched job of cutting around the outlets.  

I think that's mostly it for the renovations that we need to have done by someone else.  

The floors are (rather miraculously, given my health issues) remaining uncluttered.  If we can keep the floors cleared for a full month, I do plan to get a self-emptying robot vacuum.  Because while I can keep stuff picked up and put up even when the CFS is kicking my ass, I can't necessarily keep up with floors as well.  And I hate that, but that's life.  

I can say that the FlyLady system does work, even for the disabled.***  My house isn't perfect, and likely won't ever be, but we're not tripping over clutter or displaced clutter, or slipping on avalanches of papers and other crap from every flat surface where we work or read.  I've still got areas of "oh, look at that--I forgot we had that" clutter, but I'm working on it a little bit at a time. 

*The plumber we used for a long time starting from buying our first house died just before we bought this house.  I cried over that.  The plumber we got in contact with and mainly worked with with following that...was arrested a year after we bought the place and convicted on child pornography charges.  And worse.  This company seems to be owned and run by a husband and wife team, and they have several younger plumbers working with them.  I'd honestly call it a mid-sized company, not a one-man operation (like the first) or a main guy and a couple of helpers (like the minor disaster).  

**I'm pretty sure we can do this ourselves.  So long as we can get the panels cut to spec at the store.  

***I hate being disabled, but I have had to admit that I am.  There are things that I can't do anymore.  Not "can do, just slower," or "can do, but carefully," but can't do.  Or, if I do, it'll be the only thing I do for several days to a week. 

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Need to re-measure some things, I think.

I have a gorgeous* house.  It's a ranch style house, built in 1970.  We are the third owners.  

I loved it on sight, in spite of the awful floors, the even-worse light fixtures, and the awkwardly-sized rooms (too big?  too small?).   I love that it's not really an open floor plan.**  I love that there are two living spaces.  I love that the kitchen is big enough for one or two people to work in, but no bigger than that, and has a lot of storage space.  I love having a dedicated, built in pantry.  

Before we moved in, we got rid of the carpet in the long, narrow, undefined extra living space--it's 24.5' x 11.5', and runs from the kitchen to the walls of the bathroom.  It was, quite frankly, awful carpet: the berber style, and snagged and running.  Coarse.  And glued down.  We put in hardwood look vinyl laminate, in there, and turned that one, humongously-long room into three with two braided-rag throw rugs that used to belong to Odysseus's grandma (if I recall correctly, and the colors are right to have done so) for the TV area on one end, and what is now a second, very informal seating area/kids' books library in the middle.  Odysseus's grandmother's dining room table lives in the last third of the space.  It's big enough to seat eight, if they really like each other, and four fit very comfortably.  Even six fit fairly comfortably.  

It's my library that I need to re-figure the arrangements on.  

Because I really need more bookcases.  A lot more.  And I can only fit something like four more in the room.  Unless I reconfigure some things...which may be possible.  

Part of the issue is with some of the vents, and where they're laid out.  Part of the issue is with one of the walls being only half-height, with the other half taken up with open shelving which Odysseus likes (and without which it really would be a lot darker in the library, since it's north facing--as well as colder in the winter, since the central heat is a freakin' air source heat pump that is ineffective when the temperature drops below a certain point, and the emergency heating elements are damn expensive).  

Yesterday, Odysseus and I found the last key piece of furniture I'd been searching for, for my library: a love seat.  It was waiting for us at this little flea market/antique store that happened to have been the second place we went after dropping off the kids at Grandma's for our anniversary (yes, yes--a bookstore was the first place).  It's exactly what I'd been wanting for this space for the last four years: a high-backed, old-fashioned piece.  It looks like somebody took a wing back chair and stretched it sideways to seat two.  And it even coordinates with all of the other colors I'd chosen for the room. 

But with it in place, it just points up that the rest of the room is...unfinished.  I really want to fix that.  Now. 

I think I'm going to have to re-measure some things, and pull out some graph paper to play with bookcases along the walls.  And play with a walk space for getting to the books, too.  

*I think it's a gorgeous house.  But then again, I really like the warm, light paneling in the secondary living area, and I like not having so many windows in the outer walls that I can't do anything but put up curtains on those walls.  

**I hate open floor plans.  I hate having nowhere to hide mess when people come over, that there's no separation between kitchen and work area, and where guests congregate.  I am easily distracted, and do not do well trying to visit and fix the food, and do not like having the mess showing when I'm done cooking and want to visit. 

Thursday, July 8, 2021


I woke up Tuesday morning with a mild, nagging headache.  And then, after Odysseus took the kids with him when he left for work (to drop them off at his mom's), it started getting worse.  Despite having taken a generic Claritin, and a dose of Tylenol.  

And then...I walked into a dark room.  And it eased.  

Migraine.  Damn it.  

So, I spent most of Tuesday hiding in a dark room (after I'd gotten my gotta-do-it-every-day chores done).  Couldn't even stand to look at the computer monitor, in the later afternoon, and could barely follow a sentence.  Same with yesterday.  So I went back to bed yesterday morning, and slept for a lot of extra hours, and that...helped.  Enough that I could follow a sentence (sort of), and stand to look at the laptop monitor with the brightness turned way down.  

I'm tracking a little better today, and can creep around without any lights on and do the gotta-do-it-every-day chores that I missed doing yesterday.  And I'll be climbing back into straightening up, but not...somewhere bright.  Not wiping down the fridge shelves today.  Not messing about in the pantry, where I need the light on to see what I'm doing.  Not doing much heavy.  Just...little bits.  In the dark.  

And waiting for the headache to fade the rest of the way.  It is following the normal pattern, so I'm predicting it'll be gone Saturday morning, at the latest.  I'll probably still be a bit light sensitive, but God's having mercy on me, there--Saturday's forecast to be overcast.  

Which is a good thing: I want to get out and do stuff.  It'll be the 17th anniversary of the day I married my best friend. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Wonky weather

We the end of June.  Not quite to the beginning of July.  And, since Saturday, we've been having April rain.  And late April/early May temperatures. 

We've had the wrong geographic location's weather at multiple points, so far this year: we've had one week of weather normal to this area (i.e., hot as hell and muggy) at this point of the year, so far.  Only one.  Usually, we'll have had June come in starting at the upper 80s, and shooting upwards fast.  At this point in June, we should be topping 90 every day by midday, and getting hotter until about 4:00.  This year?  Not so much.  We've had low to middle 80's for the most part, with a couple days flirting with 100, but most days no hotter than the mid 90's.  

Granted, that's still too hot to cook indoors with the size and capability of our current AC unit (it's an air exchange heat pump.  Not the best for our area).  But we now have that fully managed: we've got a propane grill that gets used for making pizza for the other half and kids (it's basically an outside oven), and it has a stove-top type burner off to the side for if we need to use it.  And recently, we found a nice, big toaster oven/convection oven/rotisserie/air fryer, built a decent counter, and have been able to do other stuff that the grill's not precise enough for.  The next plans are to get a small, table-top charcoal grill.  We've had the propane grill for two years, and...while it does a decent job, there's nothing that beats a charcoal grilled burger.  

The other mess we've had this year...and last year...and the year things have been wetReally wet.  Like double (or more) the normal amount of rainfall one year, and half again the normal amount for the other two.  We've had at the very least minor flooding issues for the past three years in a row.  And yeah, it's kind of done bad things to the crops in the area.  Some fields have damn near drowned.  

And when you combine that with it getting colder than normal over the winter, and warming up later than normal, and starting to cool down earlier than see where I'm going, here.  The growing seasons have been something like a month, month and a half shorter for the past couple of years.  

This isn't a new trend, by any means.  It's been cycling cooler for years.  Instead of having a month or more at or near 100 degree highs, we've had a few days to a week or so in a row.  Maybe twice or three times per summer.  

Global warming this ain't.  

The plants are not doing as well as they have in years past (with a few exceptions).  The crop yields in truck gardens have improved, yes; however, some of the major food crops in the local fields have had some...rather skinny years.  The winter wheat, for example, this past year, has been kinda wimpy.  The heads are skinny, and the crop is about a month, month and a half late.  The corn's tall, but hasn't put on ears yet, that I'd seen in the trip out to visit my family last weekend.  It's about two weeks late on that.  Soybeans are usually a second or even third crop (following winter wheat, and sometimes corn...which gets harvested in July...most years).  It's...really not looking that wonderful, around here.  

Something tells me that the "global warming" alarmists...never learned that plants love carbon dioxide, and thrive in an atmosphere rich in it...and a warm one, at that.  Plants don't do well when things cool down.  The only things that do are the really hairy mammals.  And even those don't do well when things cool down too much, and food sources die back. 

"Follow the science," indeed. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Can't help someone who doesn't want it.

I keep forgetting that.  

One of the big things I've tried to teach my kids is to fix a problem, rather than just whining about it.  It's...a work in progress, but they're 10 and 12.  They start whining, I thank them for articulating the problem, and ask them how they want to fix it.  

It works, for now.  For their age.  For their maturity levels.  

I'm hopeful it'll keep working.  

I've heard people whining that they can't afford this, that, or the other...while they fiddle with their iThing (phone, pad, whatever).  Or that their car payments are eating their life.

Well.  I wonder.  

I've pointed out Dave Ramsey.  I've offered to loan books.  I've laid out, step by step what they need to do to get their ass out of the crack.  

"It's too hard!"  

No, it actually isn't.  It just takes some self-discipline, a little bit of the ability to delay gratification, and a willingness to have it happen slowly over time--they didn't get in massive debt overnight (I hope), and they won't get out of debt overnight.  And they won't stay out of debt without building new habits and dropping old ones.  

I've applied the same ideas to keeping my house in reasonable shape.  The FlyLady is to house cleaning and clutter control what Dave Ramsey is to financial housecleaning and debt control.  It doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen.  

Assuming, y'know, someone's actually willing to start.  All it takes is 15 minutes.  A willingness to do something however imperfectly.  And a willingness to let go of crap you've kept because "it might come in useful someday."  

Here's a hint: it doesn't.  

"But I don't know where to start!"  

Anywhere.  Just fifteen minutes.  FlyLady starts with "take the dishes out of your sink--wash them, put them in the dishwasher, stack them on the counter--and shine your sink.  Clean it and shine it."  If your sink's empty and clean, that stack of dirty dishes looks pretty awful.  Take fifteen minutes and wash a sink full.  Then go do something else.  Come back and do fifteen minutes more.  

"It's not my kitchen.  All I have is my attic that I live in."  

Okay.  Cool.  That makes it even easier.  Make your bed.  Look around your bed--tackle the pile to the left of your bed.  Fifteen minutes.  Three piles: keep/give away/throw away.  Put "keep" in a box, for the moment, since you claim to have no idea where any of it is supposed to go, and bag up the "give away" and the "throw away."  Throw away goes into the dumpster--do not stop at the kitchen trash, do not let anyone look in.  Give away goes in the car trunk.  Do not stop to let elderly relatives look through it.  It goes.  Or it's going to wind up back in your possession.  

"I don't know where to get started." 

I just...


Fifteen minutes.  Set a timer.  Work steadily.  Don't rush--focus on one thing.  Then when the timer goes off, look at the dent in whatever task you'd set for yourself.  

It may not be a huge dent, but it's there.  

Thing is, people don't want to change.  "The Good Lord will save me."  But they don't want to work to save themselves with the tools God has already given them.   

I'm done.  No more trying to help. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Lies grownups tell children

There are two general types of lies grownups tell children.  There are the type that are supposed to be for fun,* and others are supposed to be helpful.**  The fun ones are easy: the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause...things like that.  



"Good job!" when there was patently nothing good about it.  Kids believe grown ups.  And if their fuck-up is a "good job," then obviously being a fuck-up is okay, right?  

Wrong.  Fucking up and being a fuck up is not okay.  It'll ruin their life if they fuck up in the wrong way or at the wrong time.  Could even kill them.  

"You tried, and that's all that matters."  This one implies that actually persisting, and finally succeeding, doesn't matter at all.   

It also implies that the kid actually tried.  Kids know better.  I knew better.  And that taught me that snowing others about my level of effort was easy.  And got the same amount of praise as the kid that busted their ass and still failed because they had no ability.  I can't speak for other kids who were capable of success, but I decided to not bother, since nobody else could tell the difference.  And that...grew into a habit. 

"You're special and fine the way you are."  

Oh, dear God, what I could say about that one.  Yeah, let's take that in pieces.  

"You're special."  Special doesn't necessarily mean good at anything.  Or capable.  Or useful, even to one's own self.  Among kids, "special" has become an insult, meaning "stupid" or "useless."  

Believing that you're "special" in ways that others aren't leads to bad things, too: finding out that you're not and totally shattering because your belief system depends on the fact that you are (at best), all the way to toxic narcissism at worst.

"You're fine the way you are."  

Uh.  No.  Really, not.  Not a single one of us is fine just the way we are.  That lie is what gets kids to not strive to improve.  To not try to get better at whatever it is they want to do.  That is the lie that leads to someone in their 40s screeching for $15/hour minimum wage, because that's the only jobs they're qualified to do.  And those jobs were never meant for adults.  

"Follow your heart."  

Don't.  Your heart is stupid.  Learn to think, and to think clearly.  If your heart screams for music, but you can't sing, can't play anything with anything other than technical competence, can't write music, you can't make a living at it.  You can keep it as a hobby.  You can enjoy others' gifts.  But you cannot do music for a living.  

If you have to do something involved with music...learn how to do staging.  Learn how to build equipment.  Learn the technical side.  No, you won't ever be famous, but you can make a damn good living doing the stuff musicians either can't do, or can't do well.  Or that takes time away from honing their craft.  

I love music.  I can (sort of) sing.  I can't read music, can't play.  I don't do the technical stuff.  Never learned more than the minimum necessary to write and/or teach writing on computers.   But I do love music, and I enjoy the hell out of other people's gifts.  I won't starve because I made the stupid choice of pursuing music despite a near-total lack of talent. 

"Follow your dreams/your passion, and the money will come to you."

Again, bullshit.  This is the same stupid lie as "follow your heart."

My son, for example, loves his Hot Wheels.  He wants to make Hot Wheels.  He doesn't understand why he can't own a Hot Wheels factory and make Hot Wheels in the United States, but the cold fact of the matter is that he can't.   Not because I don't think he can figure out how to own such a factory, but because of the screaming assholes demanding a stupidly high minimum wage because they have no skills.  

Because grownups lied to them when they were small.  

Or sometimes, not so small.  

Kids trust their teachers.  College kids trust their professors.  College professors don't realize how much harm they do when they tell kids "of course the jobs are there--all you need is a degree!"  Maybe the college professors believe it.  Often, though, they know better, and are simply protecting their cushy jobs.  

"Do the degree you love!  The money will follow!" is a flat-out lie, in most cases.  I did the degree I loved, but I had no intention of making a living, much less of becoming rich.  My intention was to be a secondary income.  My intention was to have something where my hours were flexible and I could raise my own kids.  

Most people going for an English degree believe that they'll be able to find a job with that degree...and I know why.  My professors took a lot of pains to point out that an English degree confers skills like critical thinking (nope--never saw that), the ability to understand and use persuasive techniques (did see that, but it wasn't nearly as universally applicable as they implied), and a whole host of other useful things that every employer wants.  

A very close friend of mine got her primary degree in psychology.  She had a plan: she wanted to do counseling, partially because she'd been extensively helped by psychologists.  She didn't know which path to take--a masters' degree in psychology, or one in social work.  The program pushing social work lied to her, outright, with statistics.  The stats checked out; however, the lie was in what they left out.  The social work program told her that she'd get a larger percentage of what her going rates were reimbursed by medicare/medicaid if she went with a master's in social work.  That was true; however, what they left out was that her bottom line would be far lower...because a counselor with a master's in social work wasn't allowed to charge as much as one with a master's in psychology.  

And either one would have qualified her for the student loan forgiveness plan she'd enrolled in, where serving in underserved areas for five years got her student loan debt--all of it, not just her master's degree--written off.  Over the past twelve years, she could have had all of her debt--including her medical debts and her husband's student loan debt--paid off with the difference in income that the master's in psychology would have made.  That's how much believing the wrong person cost her.

Life is hard.  It's even harder if you never learn to spot the lies. 

*Even "fun" lies backfire.  I've been careful to point out exactly where a lot of the myths come from, and that, at one point, Santa Clause was a real person, without telling my kids any lies...or spoiling their fun.  But I've seen kids that find out that their parents lied about one thing (or more) decide that their parents have lied about everything...including things like how addictive drugs, tobacco, and/or alcohol can be (depending on the family lines).  

**No greater harm has been perpetrated upon multiple generations in an attempt to help than the self-esteem movement. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

Collard way

When I make collard greens, I do tend to make a lot of them at once.  And then freeze them in individual portions for my picky imp that won't eat other veggies.  I made them on New Years, and took them to my mom-in-law's for the traditional New Year's Day lunch of ham steak, black eyed peas, etc.  She'd never had greens before (her mom had hated greens of any type).  And she thought they were pretty good, and has requested them again, once or twice.  

I start with the 2lb bag of chopped greens I can find at some of my local Walmart stores.  I could start with fresh bunches, but I'd probably need at least three bunches to make sure I had enough once I'd picked through, washed it, and chopped it up.  Yeah the chopped costs more than two bunches, but doesn't cost more than three, so it...evens out.  And yeah, they may say "washed and chopped" on the bag, but I wash them again. 

First thing I do is drop about a tablespoon of bacon grease in the bottom of a large stock pot, and start that melting while I roughly chop a large onion.  And when I say a large onion, I mean damn near softball sized large onion.  You can do more or less, depending on tastes and what your digestion will tolerate.  Drop your chopped onion into your melted bacon grease, and saute it a bit.  

Next, dump the greens in the pot.  All of them.  It's gonna take some cramming to get them all in.  And then I add 2-3 quarts of chicken broth.  You can use plain chicken broth, bone broth, or water and bouillon--I've done all three, depending on what I had on hand, and they all work.  I usually don't have pulled pork on hand, but I always have bacon bits.  I add about half a cup of those.  And a touch of Cajun seasoning--just a touch, because you can add more later, if it's needed, but can't correct the other way. 

Bring everything to a boil and let it go for about 40 minutes.  Collards are tough.  Check it around 40 minutes, and keep in mind it may need longer.  It probably will, but not a whole lot.  Again, collards are tough.  You want them tender, but not limp.  

I'll usually serve them with whatever else we're having, then package them in 1/2 c servings for my imp, plus one more larger, family portion.  

 Damn it, now I want greens...

Collard greens

2 lbs bag of chopped/washed, or equivalent of fresh (some places may have them chopped, blanched, and frozen, but our local area doesn't).  

1 tbsp bacon grease (you can use olive oil...but why?)

1 large onion (more or less), chopped 

2-3 quarts chicken broth

1/2 c bacon bits

Cajun seasoning--to taste, but be careful when you add it

1. Saute the onion in the bacon grease in the bottom of a large stock pot.  2. Cram collard greens in stock pot, then add chicken broth to not quite cover (they cook down fairly quickly).  3. Add bacon bits.  4. Bring to a rapid boil, cook for 40 minutes or longer.  5. Serve hot with barbecue, ham, or whatever. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

What's next? Grits?

My son is...decidedly odd.  He swears up, down, and sideways that he loves almost everything "apple" except apples themselves: juice, cider, apple sauce, etc.  Just...not apples.  He loves oranges and orange juice.  Hell, the kid's liked salsa since he was a baby!  

About a year ago, I was at a Southern cookin' restaurant that had collard greens on the menu.*  Theirs were lightly spiced, and included pulled pork in with the greens.  And yes, it was definitely pulled pork, not bacon--it's a specific texture.  And I had some, and the imp decided he wanted a taste...and promptly ate about half my greens.  

Since then, I've been making a mess of collard greens** and freezing individual portions for him for when we're doing green beans...which he hates.  

But I'd been making them up fresh every time we ran out, which takes forever.  However, it's worth it, because between that and the salsa, the kid actually eats at least some veggies without fussing.  Nay, eagerly.  

Well.  Anyhow.  

I was really tired tonight.  We had smoked pork chops (taste like ham steak, really), the ones who can eat wheat had biscuits, and I opened up a can of black-eyed peas and peppers. I puttered around, trying to figure out what else sounded good, and I realized I wanted some greens. I didn't have any fresh or frozen on hand.  I do, however, have some in the pantry, in cans.  Mustard greens, as it so happens, which are some of my favorite (and which are hard to find without soy protein/soy broth, in this area, which I can't have).  So I took a skillet and heated it up, drained the greens, put about half a teaspoon of bacon grease in the bottom of the skillet, dumped the greens in, tasted them...

And damn, that was nasty.  They didn't salt the damn mustard greens at all when they canned them.  I salted the hell out of them, tasted them again, then added a healthy dash of smoked paprika (don't ask how much, because I have no idea), some onion powder, more salt, and a little bit of ranch dressing mix.  

The imp had a little bit of everything.  The pixie refused the greens, but had peas (despite them being a little spicy), pork chop, and three biscuits.  

And then, the imp went back for seconds on the canned greens.  "Momma, those were good."  

One of these days, I'm gonna try him on cheesy grits, I swear it.  He may actually like them. 

*Restaurant is Red, Hot, & Blue.  They serve pretty decent barbecue, awesome cornbread, and damn good collard greens.  

**My collard greens are easy, just time consuming, because collards are tough if you don't cook 'em long enough.  I'll share the recipe soon.  

Sunday, May 23, 2021


Envy is...something I've written about before.  It's nasty, destructive.  It's one of the seven deadly sins for a reason.  

I'd seen it before, but not close up.  Something I realized, last night, is that it's self-destructive.  Not just destructive of everything around it, but destructive of everyone who's involved, including the person feeling it.  

Last night, I talked to my younger sister.  Younger sister is...not in a good place, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially.  She's not ever been in a good place, not since we were both very small.  And I've noted, watching her, a growing problem with her thyroid gland: she's showing every symptom of it being non-functional.  And she, being convinced that she won't get treated by a doctor because she's a medicaid patient, won't go.  At.  All.  

And then...


She started complaining about it.  Because it's Not Fair.  "Doctor's offices are supposed to want to help people!  They shouldn't be in that business if all they want is money.  It's gone to 'survival of the fittest' and that's just wrong."  

I could not get across to her that it's not the office's fault.  I could not get her to understand that, if they did all the tests on all the people, regardless of what type of insurance they had (real or Medicaid), pretty soon they'd not be able to help anybody.  

She only just stopped short of suggesting that since she felt she couldn't get treatment, then nobody should be treated.  

I mean, my God.  I...kind of made excuses and hung up.  There's nothing more I can say.  I think she's made her mind up, and envy has destroyed what reasoning power she used to have.  

It has definitely destroyed her peace of mind.  What little she'd built.  She's not just depressed (a life-long issue for her, and now exacerbated hard by the non-functioning thyroid that she won't even attempt to get looked at and treated), but angry, resentful, and bordering on hateful.  

I'm honestly not sure I trust her anymore.  I do know there are now a whole lot of conversational topics that are completely off the table.  I just...can't think how this won't extend further, reach further, and have her attempting to sabotage me, my kids, my family.  

And that...that is the worst thing of all that envy can/will do.  It doesn't just attempt to destroy those that are envied, but those that harbor envy.