Category Archives: Personal

Teeth, lack of sleep, contractors — I hit the trifecta again!

So early Saturday morning, some time between 1 am and 2, TYG shifted into bed into Trixie’s sleeping space. Trixie, rather than just move a little ways, got off the bed, ran around to my side and tapped me to move so she could jump up. I woke, settled her on the bed … and found I’d been too thoroughly awakened to get back to sleep.

Sunday morning, Trixie decided she wanted to go out. Turns out she didn’t need to go, she just wanted to explore (this happens every so often). Again, sleep denied.

Sunday evening, we dropped in on our neighbor for a puppy play date and a glass of wine. The wine apparently messed up my sleep rhythms (which I was aware might be a problem) and I got almost no sleep.

Combined, that left me with a sleep deficit I haven’t quite made up until today. My work was correspondingly … uninspired.

Then on Thursday I had a follow-up dental appointment to replace my temporary crown with a permanent one. I showed up, got my mouth numbed … then it turned out the lab had made a misaligned crown so we had to cancel. That was a waste of potentially productive time, and I’ll still have to go back for my next appointment.

That afternoon I had to spend a couple of hours dealing with a contractor for some upgrades to TYG’s bathroom (new shelf, new small mirror).

I managed to squeeze out one redraft of Bleeding Blue that doesn’t come near enough to fixing the problems (I’m scheduled to read at one of the next two writers’ group meetings, so I want it at least a little more polished). I posted about cool book covers on Atomic Junkshop. And I got a fair amount done on Sexist Myths. But by and large, I felt kind of like the guy on the cover below.

#SFWApro. Cover by Wesso, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

Goals for September, plus Wisp

So I made about 49 percent of my goals for September. This is not great, though I blame it mostly on circumstances, like lingering summer making it hard to get out, being sick that couple of days late in the month and various pup and cat issues.

Plus Sexist Myths is just slower to write than I hoped. I made a lot of progress during the two weeks when I wasn’t doing any Leaf articles, but even so. And I let it spill over into time I’d marked off for fiction which is always a mistake. I’ve done that with other nonfiction projects and the added work on them doesn’t make up for the unwritten fiction. Bad me!

And once again, I think my schedule needs some micro-adjustments. I’ll detail them another time.

On the plus side, Wisp is getting increasingly friendly, though she’s still making it clear she’s her own cat — no indoor-cat life for her! Though when I accidentally shut the door with her inside a week ago, she handled it with aplomb, just sitting there and going “mew …. mew.”

She forgave me. And as you can see, she’s down with letting me pet her belly.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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My goodness, this looks good. And it was, too.

So last weekend I got out 100 Great Breads and made an English recipe called farl bread, or bottom bread (because it’s made on the bottom shelf of the oven). It’s a simple white bread recipe with the top slashed so that as it rises, you get deep cuts in the loaf.

I think it came out looking good, yes?

I’m pleasantly surprised by the results. I bake a lot of breads that have some sort of slash on the top (irish soda bread traditionally gets a cross), but they rarely shape up this well in baking. I don’t know if it’s the recipe, or the solidity (it was a very firm dough) or just random chance, but I’m quite pleased with myself. Tastes good too; just a basic white bread, but the texture is distinctive.

I shall make another bread with slashes soon; if I’m actually getting better, I should be able to do it again, right? Wish me luck.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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A cute photo of a puppy, then my week in review.

Here’s the puppy, a corgi I met at Petco last weekend:

Now, the week. It’s part of a two week stretch with no Leaf to write, and it went well, despite the dental visit Tuesday and some extra dog-walking.

I submitted three stories to various markets.

I found an artist (my friend Samantha Collins) for the cover of my soon-to-be-self-published Questionable Minds.

I heavily reworked Chapter Three and Four in Sexist Myths (I’m also considering Lies That Sexists Tell as an alternative title), lumping “Feminists hate men” and “feminists won’t let men be chivalrous heroes” into one chapter (the latter was my original chapter four) and other “feminists destroy society/families/the government” in another. I think it works. However Chapter Four (feminists destroying stuff) needs a lot more information and examples than I’ve provided so far. Doable, but it’ll take work.

I didn’t get as much fiction done as I’d hoped, but I got quite a bit. I reworked The Schloss and the Switchblade yet again before submitting it to a movie-themed anthology. I did another draft of Death is Like a Box of Chocolates and it’s really showing some improvement now. And I finally took a second look at one of my older stories, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. When I read it for the writers’ group, the reactions were that I needed to explore the concept (people being able to time travel via antique maps) more and give it a stronger plot. They were good criticisms though I didn’t want to give up the core of the original short story, which was the family dynamic. After giving it some thought yesterday while the dogs were in day care (as I’ve mentioned before, having dogs on my lap is too distracting to just think or outline or brainstorm), I came up with a tentative outline, some ideas about the “traveling” community and various ideas to give it more plot. I don’t know how long this revised version will be (several people said I should make it a novel, but I don’t know if that’s the right length) but I’ll let the story play out and see.

Overall nothing earthshaking, and nothing actually finished (sigh), but a week to be pleased with nonetheless.

To wrap up, here’s a blackberry goat cheese tart that I made last week. Very tasty.

#SFWApro. Images are mine

 

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book, Writing

The best argument against divine creation of Homo sapiens

The bad design of our teeth.

Okay, maybe that’s not the best argument given the overwhelming tons of evidence that evolution is a scientific fact. But emotionally I think about it every time I go to the dentist, like this week.

A couple of weeks back I noticed one of my molars flaring with pain when the jet from my water pick hit it. The dentist said to wait and see because it might be something minor. I waited. It didn’t improve. I called again. I went in. It turns out I have a fracture at the base of one tooth, so cold and heat are going straight to the nerve. I got a temporary cap and go back for a new one in a couple of weeks.

Seriously, how inept would God be if he was responsible for designing our mouths? I mean, she’s God — I’m sure she could come up with a system that doesn’t involve putting nerves inside teeth that decay and crack. Natural selection, by contrast, doesn’t try for perfect design; all an adaptation has to be is good enough, which our teeth are.

So because natural selection is the reality, I wound up having to get my mouth numbed, and then extra shots when the first wasn’t sufficient. Not. Fun. And more to come when I get the complete crown.

At least my dentist is good and provides as much pain meds as necessary. That hasn’t been true of all of the ones who’ve treated me over the years.

#SFWApro. All rights to cover image remain with current holder.

 

 

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I short-changed my fiction again this week

Trouble is, it’s just so much easier to work on Leaf articles — they take a lot of research, but they’re straightforward stuff — or on Sexist Myths/Undead Sexist Cliches. The book is at the point where the structure of each chapter feels kind of self evident. It still takes a lot of work rearranging and tidying up the writing to fit the structure, but much less creative thought than rewriting my short stories.

However Leaf is wrapped up until October so for the next couple of weeks I can devote mornings to fiction, afternoons to writing about sexism. That will be less profitable but it should be much more productive for fiction (and my personal nonfiction too).

I did check up on one story I’d submitted; it had gotten lost in the email pile but they said they’d get back to me by next week. Another market had problems opening the document so I re-sent it in the body of the email. Getting more submissions out will be another activity I catch up in the next couple of weeks.

McFarland also responded to my Space Invaders proposal suggesting my plans were ambitious — they’d need a much larger book than I proposed — and would I be interested in scaling them down? I think that’s doable but I’m going to go over the specifics of their suggestions before saying yes.

Work on Sexist Myths went well. I redrafted the two chapters on rape into a solid shape, but didn’t finish adding all the footnotes. I added so many examples and moved so much stuff around it would have been pointless. I also had the dubious thrill of reminding myself of how ugly rape apologists can get, like Warren Farrell claiming that for men, paying for dinner and getting turned down for sex is as traumatic as date rape. (short answer: no it isn’t). And that if a woman says no to sex while she’s kissing the guy, well you can’t blame him for trying to turn “no” into “yes” just like heroes in romance novels do (“He might just be trying to become her fantasy.”). Yes, actually you can. Even if he really thinks her no means yes, the guy is still committing rape. And Farrell is signing off on it.

Next week will hopefully be a productive one, despite a dentist appointment on Tuesday (tooth hurts. Might be nothing, but my gut says it’s something). Even if that takes me down for the whole day (it won’t. If nothing else, I have some research reading I can do), next week will be awesome! You heard it here first!

For eye candy, here’s a striking cover by Gervasio Gallardo. #SFWapro, all rights to image remain with current holder.

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Sick dog, sick car, but I did well just the same

So Monday, Trixie displayed the same stomach discomfort she did a week previously. I spent the morning worrying about her, then TYG and I taking her in to the vet. Some anti-nausea meds made her right as rain (we have a supply for the next time it happens) but that shot my morning to hell.

Surprisingly, the week was productive despite that. And despite taking the car in for some minor work Wednesday. And both dogs apparently being hit with the needy stick and wanting extra affection. Which I gave them, because I’m a soft touch, but I can’t describe how much I enjoyed my one day of doggy day care Thursday — I honestly don’t think I usually feel that good when they’re gone. This may reflect that we haven’t taken any summer vacation, so I haven’t had the long break from them I’d usually get. And it definitely reflects that I don’t get up and stretch as much as I should. I have got to make myself do that (it compensates for the weird posture that having dogs in my lap forces me into).

Despite all of which I wound up putting in a full 35 hours this week. Part of that was spending Sunday in a writer’s work day at my friend Allegra Gullino‘s house, with her and her greyhounds and husband, and several members of our writer’s group. Part of it was working on Undead Sexist Cliches at the end of the day. Lately I’ve been treating that period as a no-work zone, and that’s been good for me, but I really needed the time this week.

So what got done?

In addition to my Leaf work, I completed my proposal for Space Invaders and submitted it to McFarland. Now I don’t have to think about it again until they respond.

I worked through Chapters One and Two of the Undead Sexist Cliches book, which I’m thinking of retitling Sexist Myths and Why They’re Bullshit or something like that. The original title worked fine for blog posts, but I’m not sure it’s the best choice for a book that’s gotten much more detailed and less snarky as I’ve worked on it.

While this isn’t a huge amount (Chapter One’s very small) it still feels like an accomplishment. While Chapter Two needs some tinkering still, I got the structure set (in terms of which topics, and how they’re organized), lots of added references to sexists saying sexist bullshit and I footnoted everything. As I anticipated, getting the footnotes in place before the text was finalized meant having to shift them around, but it felt much more satisfactory even so. And by making footnotes a separate file, I avoided having to slide back to the end of the chapter whenever I added a note (I took a look at Scrivener’s automatic footnoting, but I think this approach is easier).

Annoyingly, I got very little fiction done. I did work more on Bleeding Blue and I can see it improving, but I’d have liked to get further ahead. Unfortunately it’s easier to work on Undead Sexist Cliches because it takes less creativity than solving the plot problems in fiction. However, I’ll have to push myself — I don’t want to just set fiction aside and work on fact.

And that was pretty much it. For an illustration, here’s some of the ornamentation outside the Bean Trader, a local coffee/tea place I visit semi-regularly.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, rights to sculpture designs reside with current holders (my apologies I don’t know your names).

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Filed under Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals, Undead Sexist Cliches: The Book

Wisp behind bars at last!

Last Saturday, after repeated failures, we finally caught her!

We’d set out the cat carrier and started putting her food in it. She’d eventually begun eating it even though she had to go in all the way to the back. However, she was wary, and backed out if we approached.

The previous week, though, she’d been much more affectionate, or demanding I be more affectionate. Rolling on her belly on my feet, letting me scritch her, and entering the carrier even if I was really close. So Saturday we put it to the test: after she went all the way inside to get breakfast, I slipped on a heavy leather glove, just in case, and shut the door.

She was at the door almost at once, but it was too late. A very uncertain “mew” emerged, followed by more “mews” pretty much constantly for the next couple of hours. During which time we called the vet, brought Wisp indoors and set up a cage so the dogs couldn’t get too close.

We took her to our vet that afternoon. Wisp got her booster shots, and the vet checked out what TYG thought might be an abscess (just a scar as it turned out). We brought Wisp home expecting her to vanish from sight the way she did when we firs trapped her last year. Nope: she was really, really needy that evening, actually jumping in my path when I tried to go back inside.

Since then she’s been a little less needy, but still wanting quite a bit of attention. Which we’re happy to provide. We’ve also ordered flea and heartworm meds to keep her in good shape.

Wisp is still very wary about coming into the house and I don’t know what we’d do with her if she did move in. But for the moment we’re pleased with how things turned out.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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No, that isn’t blood clots in my freezer

It’s tomato paste.

I never use up all the paste before it goes bad. Searching for a solution online I found a recommendation I freeze the paste in one-tablespoon blobs. That way I know exactly how much I have. After bringing it up on FB, several friends of mine said they’ve tried it and it works.

That may have been my big accomplishment for the week.

The sad collapse of my work schedule began around 12:30 Sunday morning when Trixie fidgeted to go out. She didn’t need to relieve herself, she just though it would be fun, but I had no way to know until after we got outside. I wasn’t able to get back to sleep so I was zonked most of the day.

On top of which, in the morning Trixie developed a major tummy upset. No puking, she just became very restless, refusing to sit still for more than a second, frequently hiding under chairs in hopes whatever was hurting her would go away. This was, of course, a major distraction, plus we had the inevitable vet visit (some painkillers, some stomach soothers and she was fine). So my Sunday work was shot to heck.

Monday morning TYG asked me to walk the dogs, which took another chunk of time, and I wasn’t able to get back on-focus afterwards. Wednesday I had a dental cleaning and checkup (teeth doing great, thanks). And Thursday I took one of my work days off. Just too many little tasks piling up and distracting me (paperwork, trip planning, contractors) that needed to be dealt with. Plus some extra cleaning. And quite simply needing a break. My mind was really balking at work Monday – Wednesday (and even before that) which is a sure sign I need a change of pace and a day to relax. And while I do not find cleaning fun, doing it without having to squeeze it into my schedule was strangely calming. Plus I watched a DVD and did some schedule planning for the rest of the year.

So not much actual writing done. Some Leaf, a little on Undead Sexist Cliches. But I don’t feel bad about it, and I think I’ll be back in top form next week.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Old-school advertising inside a paperback

So while reading Andre Norton’s Sorceress of the Witch World, I encountered something from eons past: cigarette ads inside a book.

It’s not a bookmark, it’s actually bound into the book. I remember finding this annoying back in the day, but cutting it out would leave an annoying stub, so I never bothered.

Equally anachronistic, the flip side of the ad shows a woman relaxing with a cigarette while reading an airmail letter.

Air mail envelops were made with extra light envelopes and written on lightweight stationery so that the bill for sending them by air (faster that way) wouldn’t kill you. They were also marked with a border that indicated the country they came from, making it easier to sort them. According to the link, the USPS eventually discontinued air mail, though you can still by the envelopes for the decorative appeal.

In case you were wondering, Kent’s “Micronite filter” — doesn’t that sound like the equivalent of kryptonite for Atom or Ant-Man? — was originally made from asbestos. It was touted as a health breakthrough because it would filter out tars from the inhaled smoke. According to the linked article, smokers would have been safer with the tar.

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