Category Archives: Personal

On a pale horse — no, it’s a white horse, but that wasn’t good either

Gotta say, if I were editing Revelation, I’d tell John that having a white horse and a pale horse makes it hard to distinguish the characters …

The bowman on the white horse is plague (at least in some interpretations) as in this image from the Cathedral de Agnani. The potluck we had a couple of weeks back apparently planted a seed in TYG, who spent this week with the 24-hour bug, only it lasted around 96 hours. I’ve been feeling draggy the past two days but nothing more than that’ hopefully it won’t get any worse.

But between extra dog walks, errands for TYG and feeling wiped out, I did not get much done. I did complete my quota of Leaf articles, so I made the money shot as it were. Southern Discomfort, though? I did get past the scene that blocked me last week, but not much further. We’re getting to the point where it’s mostly new material and it’ll take seriously harder rewriting to finish it. I suspect at this point I’m going to have to push my deadline back to October 31 instead of the end of September.

I spent a lot of yesterday lying around (in between helping TYG). and most of today lying around.  And I intend to spend much of the weekend lying around, though I will have some shopping to do (I think we’re running out of food for Wisp). Usually when I feel this exhausted, simply going inert and relaxing does the trick. It’s certainly preferable to the hacking TYG has been suffering.

Wish me luck. And TYG a swift recovery.

#SFWApro. Image is public domain, courtesy of wikimedia commons.

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And call the kitty .. Wisp!

Ever since we found the kittens in our compost bin, TYG has been putting out food for the momma cat, who’s still in the neighborhood. We’d talked about taking her to Independent Animal Rescue for neutering, and finally last week TYG saw her on the deck out back. She looked really skinny which touched TYG’s heart, so we decided to forge ahead and take her to last Sunday’s spay/neuter clinic (they do it two Sundays a month).

Friday we picked up a trap from my friend and fellow author Heather Fredericks, who volunteer with IAR. We set it out with tuna fish; early Saturday morning, when it was raining, I got up to check.

Got her! And put her under the deck for protection from the rain.

She was not happy. And had actually bloodied her nose pushing against the trap. Saturday morning, we got her to the volunteer vet. Tuesday we picked her up.

She’d been neutered, vaccinated, dewormed and deflea’ed. And her bloody nose had been treated. As she’s feral she can’t be adopted, so the best we can do is bring her back to her home turf. She sat in the trap, mewing plaintively until we opened it. Then she just sat in the trap.

As soon as we went indoors, she bolted. But she came back for the food, not that we saw her.

Given that she’s grey and hard to spot, I named her Wisp.  We’ll do our best to keep her fed, and we’re researching some sort of cat shelter we can put out for the winter months.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.

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Life came out swinging. I took a dive

So instead of a bad Friday, the entire week was a mess for writing I think by Wednesday I’d unconsciously thrown in the towel.

It didn’t help that the next section of Southern Discomfort needs serious changes. When I got to the second scene (a confrontation between Maria and FBI Agent Rachel Cohen) I realized Cohen’s actions didn’t make sense. I’m not sure what will work, which made it very easy to wander off mentally.

Monday, disruptions in TYG’s schedule led to me sitting up in bed in the early morning with the dogs. I’d intended to write, but they positioned themselves so there was nowhere to place the computer. I settled for research reading instead. And gave way and spent the whole day (other than my Leaf articles) finishing the book.

Tuesday, I’d had my second Alexander technique class. As noted at the link, the technique is supposed to counteract bad posture and body-tensing habits, like the ones that put such strain on my voice. Taking the class, then practicing the exercises at home definitely has a good effect, though I’m a long way from incorporating them into my everyday movements.

Wednesday I woke up from a very bad night of sleep. I also had to meet with an electrician for a light-repair job. He’s efficient, but I still lost some time. And dang, I was soooo tired. So I did some work, but not much (except, again, the Leaf. That’s the money stuff at the moment).

Thursday I had to go back to my eye doctor to check on my floaters. They have receded back to normal levels so I can relax — my retina’s not about to fall off. But I’d forgotten the checkup required dilating my eyes; I arrived home in no shape to stare at a screen. Instead I took a nap, then started cleaning (which I normally do on the day the dogs are in day care). And just kept cleaning: fridge shelves wiped, spices sorted, old stuff in the back corners of the closet thrown out (sun dried tomatoes from 2013!), storage containers tidied up. It was productive, but not the kind of productive I’d planned to do. But I just couldn’t drum up any enthusiasm for writing, even after my eyes recovered.

Plus the cat that gave birth in our compost bin is still hanging around, and so we’re going to get it spayed. Working out the details with a local clinic consumed some time, and today I left work early to pick up a cat trap. Now let’s just hope the cat actually goes into the trap (we’re baiting it with tuna).

With the rewrite blocked, I went back to some of the early Southern Discomfort chapters and read them aloud to make final corrections and word-choice edits. So far I haven’t found anything that needs more work.

Oh, and I put in more time than I should on a new post at Atomic Junkshop on what comic books were like on Earth-Two. Was there a Superman in comics in a world where he was also in the newspapers (spoiler: yes).

Ah well, occasionally slacking off won’t kill me. If anything, blowing stuff off once in a while is kind of liberating. But next week I’d better do better.

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

 

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What did I do to make Friday hate me?

I must have done something because since I got back from Indianapolis, none of them have been productive. First TYG was out of town so I had the dogs to deal with. Last week I was distracted by running the car in to fix the engine (even though it turned out I didn’t need to). And then today …

Early this morning, TYG had to focus so she asked me if I’d watch the dogs for a quarter-hour. Foolishly I took them up to the bedroom without bringing my computer so I couldn’t do any work. When the 15 minutes stretched into 45 minutes, I volunteered to walk them. Plushie was up for a long walk, so we got back after about an hour, me feeling very sweaty. Then up we jumped again for a play date with Lily, Trixie’s bestie.

This took an unexpected and undeniably cute turn when we all ran into Carmela, a five-month-old puppy living down the cul-de-sac (regrettably she’ll be off to college with her owner in a few weeks). Carmella’s at the very friendly puppy stage, eager to play with Trixie and Plushie. The Plush One, as often happens when other dogs (besides Trixie) initiate play, backed off. Trixie didn’t back off, but didn’t seem entirely happy to have a puppy jumping on her. With Plushie or Lily there’d have been a tussle, so I’m guessing she was reluctant to wrestle a little puppy.

However the end result of all that hot humidity and being on my feet for more than an hour was that I felt completely wiped out. I didn’t really get my shit together until a little before noon. Then I had to devote the afternoon to a new Leaf project, 1800 word articles (three times the length, three times the $). Probably because I was still wiped, it used up the rest of the day. At least I hope that was it; if they’re all this labor-intensive, I may have to go back to shorter stuff.

For the rest of the week, let’s see …

I’ve now finished 52,000 words of Southern Discomfort. That’s better than I’d planned, but as I anticipated, it’s slowing down the further I go. Still, I think I’ll be able to finish before September, as I planned.

I finished proofing and editing Atoms for Peace. Now I just have to upload the revised text and make sure I’ve fixed all the formatting problems I had last time. And for the print version, include a table of contents.

I finally got to sit down and think about the revisions I need to make to No-One Can Slay Her. There’s still a couple of weak points I have to fix to set up the big finish, but overall it’s much stronger. Unfortunately I didn’t get to write any this morning, so I’ve only revised a couple of thousand words.

And I have another post at Atomic Junkshop, about rereading comics.

Not a bad week, but I sure would have liked more progress on No One.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine, credit for Carmela’s cuteness goes to her parents and God.

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, Story Problems, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

Sherlock Holmes, tea and schedules

Back at Mysticon I saw a mug from the Philosophers Guild covered with Sherlock Holmes quotes (my favorite is “Mediocrity acknowledges nothing higher than itself. True talent always recognizes genius.”). I didn’t have space in my luggage, but I finally got around to ordering it a couple of weeks ago. It now alternates with my usual German porcelain stein as my tea mug of choice.

In other (and completely unrelated) news, I’m finding the last 90 minutes of the day becoming frustrating. It’s probably the lowest point of my work day so I’ve been using it for low-intensity stuff such as proofreading and email. But if I don’t have any of that to do, I often find it difficult to switch to something more creative. Particularly if Plushie’s been in my lap a lot. I’m not sure if it’s the way I have to sit to manage him and a computer or the feeling that I’ve had no personal space all day, but my brain wears out.

I could take the time off and resume work in the evening, but a lot can depend on TYG’s schedule, whether she wants to chat, and whether the dogs are really fidgety. So I prefer to avoid evening work.

But perhaps I need to change that. I’ll give it some thought.

#SFWApro. All rights to mug and images remain with current holder.

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Bludgeoned by the battery!

So Thursday, we dropped the pups off at Suite Paws, the delightful boarding facility we use to give me a puppy-care break. Thursday evening, TYG was leaving work … and found the car battery was dead. And we had only ninety minutes before Suite Paws closed and the dogs had to stay overnight.

When it became obvious AAA wasn’t going to get to TYG in time to make Suite Paws, she texted one of her friends. He very generously picked me up, drove me to Suite Paws, then drove us home. As the car harnesses for the dogs were in the car, I held them both tight by the leash/harness. They actually liked this as it left them free to watch stuff passing by the window. They love that. However, they’ll have to live with getting buckled in when they’re back in our own car.

AAA juiced the battery enough TYG got to the battery store, bought a replacement and drove it home. But she’d never have made it to Suite Paws. So thanks Josh for the lift; I would have felt very guilty if they’d been stuck overnight without us.

A minor side-effect was that the “check engine” light came on after we got the new battery, so I decided to drive down to the VW dealer for a checkup. When I started out this morning, the light was gone so I came home. But structuring my morning around the trip threw me off my game for the next couple of hours (it shouldn’t have, but as I’ve mentioned before, disruptions in my routine often do).

And it’s not as if I got that much time to write on Thursday. I spent an hour at the bank resolving a minor problem with Mum’s estate (my sister’s the executor but I’m happy to help out when I can), and dealing with a debt collector that doesn’t believe I resolved the identity theft case from last year. And dealing with a contractor. But all that would be much tougher if the dogs had been at home.

I got a fair amount done this week. I finished going over the text of Atoms for Peace, though I haven’t made all the corrections to the document on my computer. And some of them are like “rewrite this paragraph” so it’s not just a matter of quick fixes. It’s coming along well, though.

Southern Discomfort is moving along, though slower now. I expected that would happen the further I got in. For instance, an interrogation scene between FBI agents Cohen and Dini and Olwen McAlister needed a thorough going over. The theory the feds (or “G men” as they used to call them) were pushing simply didn’t make sense; I think restructuring it, everything looks logical

I had a light level of Leaf work because the site crashed for a couple of days. Even with the added time I didn’t get much short story work done. This annoys me but if something’s gotta give, better the shorts than Southern Discomfort.

It doesn’t help the dogs are still demanding more attention than usual. And that I invariably fold and give it to them. Still, there are worse ways to spend the day.

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Filed under Atoms for Peace, Nonfiction, Personal, Short Stories, Southern Discomfort, The Dog Ate My Homework, Time management and goals

I need to do that again

So last weekend, TYG was out of town at a wedding. She’d asked me not to go anywhere if I could avoid it, just so there was no risk of me getting hit and injured and leaving the pups alone with nobody to feed her.

It worked out quite well. Long walks. Lots of petting. And as I had nothing to do, I just relaxed and watched TV, read, etc. I felt really refreshed by the time TYG made it home (and I’m very glad to have her back).

I don’t normally feel that refreshed on the weekends. It’s not like I have a whole bunch of stuff to do on weekends when TYG’s here. Was it just not going anywhere? Being by myself, albeit with the dogs? Just that I gave my permission to not-do?

I’ve no idea, but it’s worth thinking about. Being well relaxed is good. It would be nice to do more often.

#SFWApro. Art below is uncredited, but all rights remain with current holders.

 

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Lost and Won

LOST: My travel mug, while we were in Indianapolis. It was the first night, when I had pizza at the hotel restaurant and took some of it back upstairs. They gave me a massive box, way larger than I needed (it would have been big even if I’d had the full pizza) and maneuvering it around, stopping to read for a bit … well somewhere on the way I focused on the box and forgot the cup.

Which wouldn’t have been so bad except I cannot handle drinking tea from styrofoam. It’s horribly acidic, and makes my stomach miserable. I went on a mall hunt for a substitute mug, but to my surprise couldn’t find one. Finally I settled for the hotel Starbucks and shelled out $20. Way overpriced! However it met the need, and I must say it’s a good mug, both for keeping the tea warm and for not leaking when I tip it to drink.

WON: Okay, the team I played with for Culture Quest, “The Standard Deviants,” did not actually win the contest. But they announced at the AG came in eighth, the best we’ve ever done, and that’s pretty damn impressive (to me, anyway). I’m very pleased with us. And even though I go to hang out with Courtney, not to actually win, I certainly don’t object.

To celebrate the near-win, here’s a Bob Abbett book cover. No connection to tea or Mensa, I just like it — simple, but interesting.

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

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The merits of taking a break

Okay, not as drastic as proclaiming “Spider-Man … No More!” (art courtesy of the great John Romita), but our vacation last week just reminded me how important not working is. At least for me.

Even though I love what I do, it still takes on a treadmill overtone over time. Get up. Write with dogs sitting next to me. Repeat the next day. And because I spend a lot of evenings and weekends sitting in the living room with the dogs and TYG, sometimes it all blends together — I feel like I’m always just sitting with dogs. And even though I love them, that gets oddly draining.

Doing something different scrubs my mind clean. I’m able to think more clearly, imagine doing things differently, plus of course just being refreshed from the break. These are good things. While the week got slightly crazy for other reasons, I’m way more refreshed and ready to work than if I’d stuck around last week.

Even small breaks make a difference. Working at the paper, it was easy to tell myself “I’m so close to finishing, I’ll just skip lunch break, keep working, get a little ahead for tomorrow.” I ended up with my brain futzed. Doing something different, even if it’s just sitting and reading over lunch, is amazingly refreshing.

It will wear off eventually, but eventually we’ll go somewhere else. And I’m trying to think of ways to do more types of different things on the weekend, so it doesn’t feel all of a piece with the work week.

#SFWApo. All rights to image remain with current holder.

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Indiana wants me, but I can’t go back there … oh, wait, yes I can

(Title courtesy of the R. Dean Taylor song).

One thing TYG and I love doing on our Mensa trips is visiting zoos, aquariums, anything of the sort. And wouldn’t you know, the Indianapolis Zoo was located within a mile of our hotel. A very hot mile, but it was worth it. We caught the morning dolphin show (later we found a room offering a view from under the water), saw a cage full of macaws (didn’t photograph well, alas) and a colony of meerkats and hydrated a lot. Like I said, hot.

I thought this bear was a small bear. Then I got close and realized how much of him was in the water.

The flock of helmeted guinea fowl were a hoot as they clucked at us. That’s a crowned crane in the background.

There’s an orang-utan house with several apes. We got to watch one of them practice identifying symbols on the computer. It did pretty well. Below, a mother and child clown around.

Gila monster!

Cheetah!

Lion fish!

And seal! Regrettably I didn’t photograph the walrus exhibit.

One moment of comedy was when a kid next to us informed his mother very seriously that he’d counted the rhino butts and there were definitely three of them in the exhibit.

It was definitely worth getting hot and exhausted for.

#SFWApro. All photos are mine.

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