Category Archives: Personal

This week started early

Normally I hate writing on the weekend. However, due to our late night vet visit on June 13th, I was too zonked to get any Leaf done the next day (not to mention Plushie’s cone of shame kept banging into my lap desk). As the two Leaf articles I had in my queue would have expired Sunday, and they were paying extra (an incentive to get everything completed before the project expires), I worked on them Sunday afternoon. Not the best use of downtime, but hey, it’s money.

To claim as many of the remaining bonus-price articles, and a few that were regular price but easy (articles about liquor licensing are surprisingly easy. Liquor boards have good websites), I bulked up on Leaf through Wednesday, completing 12 total (I also did an extra bonus one today). It was easier because (I think) the pressure to get them all done got in the way of sleep so I was up early Monday and Tuesday. As a result, I was able to get the Leaf done and a good chunk of Undead Sexist Cliches.

I’m feeling much better about the book after this week. The division of two and three finally makes sense. Chapter Two is sexist explanations why feminism is unnecessary and why women don’t deserve equality (because evolution made men superior). Chapter Three is the sexist rationalizations why feminism is actively destructive. I also took a lot of discussions of antifeminism and made one small chapter out of them.

I also inserted a lot of notes I’d taken on various books and websites into the post, and added examples for several points I was making, such as some Fox News hosts discussing why men get the blame if they rape drunk women: “the point is that the drunk woman is — she’s just not held accountable for anything. The drunk guy, however, is supposed to make all these amazingly perfect decisions, and not make any mistakes.” As if not raping someone who says no was like performing brain surgery while drunk (I’ll have a blog post on this topic soon).

The additions will require I make another pass to incorporate the new material better. Then I’ll sit down with all the critiques my beta-readers gave me and incorporate them. Then comes writing the finished draft including footnoting everything and indexing everything. Then to publication.

I made the book a priority this week but I found time to start redrafting a story I finished a couple of weeks back, tentatively titled Death is Like a Box of Chocolates. Tentative because much as I like the title, I don’t think there’ll be a box of chocolates in the tale when I’m finished.

Plushie’s eye infection (the one that necessitated that vet visit) has cleared up. We were even able to take the cone off after the first day. We do have a couple of worries about the dogs (nothing serious) but we’ll be talking to the vet about them tomorrow when we go in for booster shots.

All in all, a productive week.

For no reason other than my love of showing cool art, I’ll close with what I think is a neat Ghost Rider cover (the Western one) by Dick Ayers:

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

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

Caffeine couldn’t stop me but canines did!

So after last week’s insomnia-fest I stopped using my decaf tea in the afternoons and sure enough, I slept better Sunday and Wednesday night. The other nights? Pull up a chair, I’ve got a story …

So Monday night, Trixie had this very loud hacking cough for a few minutes, loud enough to wake me up (admittedly it doesn’t take much to do that). By the time I’d checked whether she was okay, I was wide awake and couldn’t get back to sleep. Tuesday night, first Trixie demanded to go out and poop after we’d all settled into bed. Even after that she was fidgeting, or lying against me while chewing on her feet, which didn’t lend itself to sleep. So another night down.

Last night, it felt like everything would be fine. But just as I was drifting off, TYG noticed Plushie was getting restless and checked him out closely. Turns out he had some sort of swelling in his eye, so it was up and off to the 24-hour emergency vet. We brought Trixie along rather than leave her alone but oh, the alarmed whimpers when she saw them taking Plushie away without her! She did not like it at all. We finally got back a little after midnight, with medicine for the eye (it was just an inflammation). To my surprise, I slept soundly after that, but the window before I got up again was … small.

Turns out gettting up at my regular hour was a wasted effort. Plushie’s in the cone of shame and not happy about it. Dealing with him and working proved … impractical shall we say? For example I can’t use my lap desk because it bumps into his cone too easily when he’s in the lap. Fortunately the two nights of insomnia meant I’d put in some extra hours, so I only lost a little writing time.

Pretty much everything I got done was either Leaf articles or work on Undead Sexist Cliches. I’ve almost completed this draft (two or three more yet to come) and I figured out the right breakdown to chapters two and three. Chapter two will cover antifeminist arguments about why giving women equality is pointless (they don’t need it, and they aren’t actually equal) while chapter three will focus on claims feminism is not only pointless, it’s destructive. I can feel how much better it flows now.

One reason I didn’t get more done is that I took Thursday off to deal with the mundane matters. North Carolina’s Department of Revenue had sent our return back (for what I found absurdly technical reasons) so I had to print out a fresh copy of the paperwork, then redo the whole thing. Plus get my estimated taxes for the year to date in.  Plus a few minor tasks including getting a free credit report from the Annual Credit Report website (it’s legit. And actually free), an electrician appointment, bicycling for one hour (highlight of the day) and going over our emergency kit in case we have evacuate fast (not that I expect it, but it’s possible). That took up the day nicely.

Today? Work just didn’t happen.

However I did find a dead shrew in the driveway —

And removed it before Trixie or Plushie could rub themselves on its gloriously stink flesh.

So that’s something accomplished, right?

#SFWApro. All photos are mine.

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So recently I made a sandwich, but I didn’t photograph it

Because while it was tasty, a sandwich on a baguette just looks like every other sandwich on a baguette (the photograph below is from Wikimedia). But it got me thinking about the way I change recipes when I cook.

I found this one in an issue of Vegetarian Times. It looked tasty but it included three ingredients I hate: olive tapenade, eggplant and green beans (okay, I don’t hate them, but I’m kind of “meh” on them). So I substituted, respectively, mango chutney, portobello and peas (the vinegar-based marinade, garlic powder, hard-boiled eggs and red peppers in the recipe stayed the same). Obviously the taste was very different than the original concept, but it was still tasty. And I liked it a lot, as did TYG.

Mushroom for eggplant is a standard change in my cooking. So is swapping either peas or some sort of bean for corn, because I loathe corn. As TYG hates yogurt, I find substitutes for that, too, which is trickier; if it’s just a topping rather than a sauce, I’ll use goat cheese, which we both like.

The thing is I don’t need to do any of that. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lot of cookbooks. There’s more than enough recipes with no “problem” ingredients that I could save myself any efforts to swap stuff out this way (the exception being when I run out of ingredient A and have to dig up something that will work as an alternative). Yet some recipes just click with me when I read them in the cookbook or recipe magazine or wherever, even though they have an ingredient that makes me go “yuck!” Not all recipes; some just don’t substitute naturally. I can’t stand sauerkraut but I can’t think of a good substitute, so vegetarian Reuben recipes are a no go.

I honestly don’t know why I can look at a recipe and see it as something different that I’ll like better (not that it is better — it’s a matter of personal taste, nothing more). But it expands my range of options and gives me some delicious meals, like the baguette. So why not?

#SFWApro. Image by Nicola taken from Wikimedia under Creative Commons license

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Wednesday was the App-ocalpyse!

I’ve mentioned before that Apple’s Pages is unable to follow standard manuscript format when I create documents. If I use it to edit a Word document, when I save it back to Word it ends up with a blank first page. I’ve tried using Open Office but when I download it the computer says it’s not from an authorized app source and deletes it.

Last month I discovered a Word app in the App store and figured what the heck, I’d sooner pay for the license than keep having to crack open my old computer to work on Word docs (it’s very cranky and sluggish by now). However the program required me to register with Microsoft and refused to let me do so. I gave up, shrugged and didn’t think about it until Thursday, when I found that even though i couldn’t use Word, I was still being charged.

What followed was a brief conversation with Apple help which bounced me to Microsoft. A much longer session there followed, and to the help desk’s credit, they really tried to fix the problem. But I didn’t have a product key so they told me I’d have to go to Apple for the fix. Apple said the best they could do was refund the payment.

Two hours wasted. The one good result was that in frustration I downloaded Open Office again and this time I found information on how to make the computer accept it. Success! Now I should be able to make edits on my own computer again.

Other than that, let’s see … I got my Leaf quota in, including articles on such mesmerizing topics as Pros and Cons of a Matrix Organizational Structure … okay, not very mesmerizing. But the pay’s good, and I like getting paid.

Beyond that I redrafted the rape-apologist chapter of the Undead Sexist Cliches book. It’s going slower than I’d have liked. I’m rethinking my approach to figure how I can accomplish the various goals — reorganizing, rewriting and adding some new material — more efficiently.

Annoyingly, no fiction this week at all. Blame the app issues for that. Well, and spending Wednesday at a dental appointment. Happily, though, my teeth are in great shape.

#SFWApro. Image by Albrecht Durer, all rights remain with current holder.

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So last weekend I made a cake

Once again, I flipped open the next cookbook in my list — Vegetarian Times Cookbook, in case you were wondering — flipping through it for ideas of food for this week and for Saturday’s vegan potluck.

As if by destiny, I found a page with a chocolate layer cake recipe. I’d been thinking of doing something with apples, but everyone loves chocolate more than apples … hmm … so yeah, I went for it.

It turned out to be a more labor intensive recipe than I anticipated. And the icing/filling was runny (you can see it pooling around the base of the cake). I think I needed to cook it on the stove longer. It firmed up quite a bit after I put the cake in the fridge. However on the drive over to the potluck, it liquefied again.

However nobody objected. The cake got great reviews (I think it’s excellent) but being the Memorial Day weekend we didn’t have much of a turnout. I wound up taking about half of it home (I really, really underestimated how big it was when I read the recipe). I took some of the leftovers to one of our neighbors because eating it all ourselves would have been Not Good.

Still, it’s always cool to try and succeed with a challenging recipe.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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So last weekend I made a pie

It was my friend and fellow writer Ada Milenkovic Brown’s 65th birthday party. As it happened, I’d bought ricotta for something else, then not used it; looking through Vegetarian Epicure I found a recipe for torta di ricotta. Way high on butter and (obviously) cheese, but I figured it was a good way to use up the ricotta. And it actually came out looking good.

Tasted good too. I had a great time at the party and learned Ada’s actually mentioned by name in Martin Gardner’s Annotated Alice (second edition and all subsequent ones). It’s in the “Looking Glass Insects” chapter, in one of the footnotes, as Ada Brown. Dang I have cool friends!

I also walked our friend Celena’s dogs Lily and Tito as her family were out for the day. They were very excited to see me, especially Tito the toy poodle. Lily likes me too but she’s way more laid back and Tito’s a bundle of energy.

Saturday, after completing a ton of shopping errands (dog meds, dog and cat food, other useful items) I got a call that the replacement battery for my laptop was in. Out to the mall! And happily the Apple Store got it fixed that evening, so I picked it up Sunday. It’s sooooo nice having a full twelve hours of power again, and not worrying about whether it’s going to run down before my writing wraps up.

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Bedevilled by batteries!

First tech problem: some glitch with our alarm made it go off randomly early Wednesday morning. Freaked the dogs out, woke us out of sleep and wasted time searching for possible intruders and then on the phone with the alarm people. Who gave us two contradictory explanations, which didn’t help things.

Early Thursday morning, a different window went off. Early Friday, it was the other window again. Fortunately we were savvy enough that TYG was able to go back to bed and let me deal with it the second and third nights. Unfortunately that meant I got no sleep; I was useless Thursday and worse today. Fortunately the company sent a tech; turns out the batteries are way overdue for replacement. We’ll replace them on the other windows and doors before those go haywire too.

Second, my Mac’s battery is losing power fast and I’m getting the “service battery” warning. So, Thursday I took it into the Apple Store. Yep, battery’s dying (after two and a half years, not that shocking). They’re ordering in a replacement so I’ll have to give up some writing time in the next few days to take it in and get it repaired.

Before the alarms reduced my brain to mush. I redrafted Impossible Things Before Breakfast based on the writing group’s feedback and it looks good. Maybe one more pass (and a review by one more beta-reader) and I’ll print it out for a final reading.

I got part way through another chapter of Undead Sexist Cliches. Would have been more productive but lack of sleep Wednesday and having no computer today…

On the plus side, Wisp hasn’t been fazed by the cage around the tomatoes. And two of my writing group friends who know cats say her purring around us and rubbing against us means she really does like us. Cool!

She’s also defended the little shelter against an intruding cat, though she seems comfortable with cats eating on the deck as long as she’s fed.

And that’s about it. Computer’ll be back next week.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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

The car and the squirrel

Last Saturday was not good, though in hindsight it had a half-empty/half-full quality to it.

We drove to Whole Foods with our newly repaired car; normally we hit the Sprouts near us, but TYG wanted some stuff we could only get at Whole Foods. As we pulled into a parking space, the Check Coolant light came on and the engine suddenly overheated. We finished our shopping, called AAA and then I took a Lyft home with the food while TYG waited for the tow truck. That was primarily because I had a blood donation appointment later that morning and if I’d been the one to wait, I’d have missed it.

Didn’t help. By the time I got home and put the food away, it was too late. If I’d rescheduled for that morning I couldn’t have done the double-volume donation I wanted (much easier that way, as I get two donations done at once). Plus it’s a dead-cell area and I didn’t want to be out of touch with TYG, just in case. Everything went fine on her end, except the truck took until an hour later than they’d projected to arrive. She rode with them to the dealer, read the service department the riot act and now … well, we’re waiting for a call.

But it could have been much worse. We could have lost all the coolant (when we tried refilling the radiator, it ran out as fast as we poured it in) while we were still on the highway and never got our shopping done.  Or just gone to Sprouts, in which case it might have leaked at some far more inconvenient moment later that weekend. Still, I’d much sooner it hadn’t happened at all, especially after all that time I spent at the dealer last week (on other issues, in case you were wondering).

Then Sunday, TYG (with me helping) put together a cage to protect our tomatoes from Mr. Squirrel. We’ve lost all of them the past two years, and we couldn’t find any cages that looked like they’d work (a lot of them are weighed down by stakes driven into the earth which isn’t an option on the deck). This is actually a couple of wire-frame modular shelving kits radically reworked for our purposes. I’m optimistic it’ll work. Time will tell.

#SFWApro. Photo is mine.

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Sleep, car repairs and work: my week

This wasn’t as successful a week as last week, but it was productive enough to feel content.

And my doctor’s recommendation to avoid caffeine after noon is really paying off. I got a full night of sleep most nights this week, and I’ve adapted to it. It was hard the first week not having that extra time in the morning, but the feeling of being fully rested more than makes up for it.

I did have to sacrifice part of two mornings to take the car in. Wednesday we had a combination appointment to take care of a recall issue, a minor unrelated problem and a Check Engine light that randomly comes on and off. Finally they found the problem, a throttle issue, but they had to order the replacement. This morning I went in again and got it done. I was able to get a fair amount done at the dealer’s office, but I also tend to give in and scarf snacks from the vending machines. Bad me!

My big project this week was the Undead Sexist Cliches book. I didn’t get a lot written because I was digesting the feedback from my beta readers. Among the good points were that I needed to make it clear when I was citing a sexist belief rather than declaring it as my own. And that some other stuff wasn’t clear, too. It was a lot of feedback to take in, but it will help. But it also convinced me to rearrange the topics in Chapter One, which slowed me down from a straight rewrite. It’ll make it flow better though.

My current plan is to redraft, then fill in all the footnotes. Then I can do a final proof and begin the process of publishing it.

And that plus Leaf took up most of my week. I started work on another draft of Impossible Things Before Breakfast but I didn’t get very far. No other short stories either. Oh, I did cut about 300 words from No One Can Slay Her to submit it to a particular market. I succeeded without hurting the story; we’ll see if that helps. I’m also kicking around an idea for finishing some of the stories I have lying around undone. If I write on those in the evening it won’t suck up time from more advanced stories, but I’m not great at writing in the evening. We’ll see.

Wisp is back on a regular feeding schedule and rubbing against my legs when I open the door. We’re going to put a cage around the tomato plants on the deck this weekend; I’m hoping it won’t freak her out. She seems to like napping next to the containers, as you can see here. But we’re done with having the squirrels steal the tomatoes. Hopefully she can adapt.

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I just wanted to say that I like being on Facebook

It’s a frustrating paradox.

All the criticisms of FB are valid, from the fake information that spreads to the use of personal information to the stupid way it keeps ordering my feeds. Someone just recommended a group to me I had zero interest in joining, but its posts popped up in my feed non-stop (not the first time this has happened). I had to go back and block them to get rid of them.

Reading some of my friends FB feeds has also made me aware that they’re bigots. One of them is posting a “OMG Muslims!” freak out every day lately (Muslims getting elected to political office equates to an invasion in her mind). And these are people I genuinely care about; there’s a lot more I just unfriended when they showed their true selves.

But at the same time, the benefits of keeping in touch with many of my friends are huge. I have friends in Florida and in Mensa that I see maybe once a year; Facebook lets me keep up with them. It lets me update them on what’s going on with me. Even with friends in Durham it helps me stay current. And that counts for a lot, even if someone’s only posting cat memes or fascinating facts.

As others have said, we need something like Facebook, but probably not the Facebook we actually have. But that’s the Facebook we got.

And I do enjoy posting dog photos there.

#SFWApro. Photos are mine.


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