Sunday, December 29, 2013

Post-Christmas (mimimalist) report

Had a great time in CA with my son and his wife & my grand-daughter! Ate wonderful food but still lost 3 pounds! So, yay! Now to keep up the momentum. We went to the Grand-daughter's kindergarten for their holiday program (very cute! with cookies!), we went to a ballet, a symphony, and what I'm guessing is one of the most expensive shopping areas in California to see "The Hobbit," and we had a delightful and delicious Christmas night dinner at their house with two other couples and their kids. Oddly, the weather out there wasn't much different from Omaha's.

I got lovely gifts, and the ones I gave seemed to be well-received.

I was fortunate in my flights - they were all on time, even early, and smooth and uneventful. Just the way I like my airplane rides.

Now I'm home again (I did miss my kitties! And they must have missed me, because now they're little pests! Constant nagging for pettins!) and getting ready for the new year. Lots of hopes, plans, and ideas - nothing thrilling, just life stuff. It was a good trip, very rejuvenating!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

As hard as I've tried to avoid it,

I'm afraid Reality is just too close to ignore any more. (This isn't as ominous as it sounds.)

Between still being in the healing-from-loss process and the life-after-retirement-adjustment, it has taken me a long damn time to get here. After losing Bob, I spent about 5 years continuing in my profession but it took a harder and harder toll on me. It's only in recent months now two years later that I have begun to realize just how used-up and strung-out I was by that last day at work.  I am so, so lucky to be able to retire young and have enough money to live on. I suppose many people would not consider my post-retirement income to *be* an income, but I have pretty low wants and needs. I'm pretty healthy (get to that in a bit) and therefore, so terrifically lucky in that regard, also. I've planned carefully and should be OK barring further shenanigans from the 1%ers and their pet lawmakers.

But in terms of day-to-day life after retirement, it's been pretty pants. I mean, living by the seat of my pants. My bedtime has drifted ever-later. My arising time is all over the map. Some days I do nothing, some days I do lots of different stuff, some days I go gangbusters (which are then followed by several Doing Nothing days). No rhyme, reason, schedule - BECAUSE I'M RETIRED. That's been my mantra so far. I *have* achieved a few larger projects around the house and yard. There is SO much more to do (my vague aim being, not having any extra Stuff lying around anywhere that I don't use).  I've been kind of a hermit. I'm an introvert and it's been heaven just holing up by myself for days at a time. I get out, socialize, when I want to, but it's been predominantly solitude I've sought.

But looked at overall, it's been kind of chaotic - for a very VERY low-energy, snail's-pace version of chaos.  I'm having a hard time figuring out whether that's good or bad, or even either. I'm feeling dissatisfied with how I'm moving through life now.

One source of dissatisfaction is my health. Given disgustingly good health, I have, it seems done everything in my power to undercut that. Inertia, inactivity, over-eating. Just saw my doctor yesterday and gee, those health goals I've been working so diligently toward? Looks like I'm almost there. My glucose and bad cholesterol are elevated. The dread words "statins" and "pre-diabetic" were uttered. And I've known bad news was creeping up because my knees have been hurting (obesity - and inactivity) and my sleep has been pretty chaotic, too. So now I'm waiting for the blood work results so we know the actual numbers. And I'm thinking, I can still save this. Or at least, I want to give myself the chance. I do NOT want to go on statins. And I most certainly, heartily and dreadfully do not want to dance on the edge of diabetes any longer.

So it looks like today is when I finally have to get serious about what I've known for a long time. From here on out, if I want to have a *good* old age, my daily mantra must be "The most important thing I do today is exercise."  Simply getting out and walking, or going downstairs and getting on the Tunturi, and using the weight apparatus downstairs, for 30 - 60 minutes a day, has got to be my A-1 priority every single day. That, and cutting down on the bad foods I eat, and not eating after 8 p.m. But I have been reading for years that simple regular aerobic exercise will improve almost every one of my problems: excess weight, lack of stamina, lack of energy, lack of strength, deteriorating hips and knees, high glucose, high bad cholesterol (and especially low *good* chol.), poor posture, poor breathing. It also helps me feel more capable which I have found is HUGE in my general feeling of self-worth. Another way to say that is, regular exercise drives depression and inertia right down into the ground. And stomps on it.

With all those benefits, what the HELL has been holding me back? I guess, depression - though mine takes the form of inertia, not emotional anguish. No suicidal thoughts here, no worries. I LOVE just sitting in one place. I also LOVE getting stuff done. And I would much prefer to not have to deal with all the health shit that I've been putting out the welcome mat for all these years. My life needs shaking up, my routine has to change. This might involve even moving furniture around. I don't know. But it has to change, and today is when it has to start.

What a pain in the ass.

Edited to add: I'm amazed - the doctor's office already has my blood work results. They called me to give them to me. It turns out, he must have been mostly concerned about the blood glucose because he only ordered the A1C test and fasting glucose, and some organ function indices (no cholesterol analyses). My A1C is still within normal range, YAY!!!! A mite high, but still normal. My fasting glucose is a bit elevated, but is the same as when I had it measured back in May. It's still under the usual benchmark for diabetes.

So I look on this as  reprieve, an opportunity to get the ol' system working better again. No change in direction, then. This is encouraging.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Alas, no victory

this time in NaNoWriMo, for me. Although really they are right saying getting ANY writing done is a victory. I got about 34,000 words in. They're all going to have to be scrapped because yesterday morning I woke up knowing (a little LATE) why my own novel failed to capture my enthusiasm. I know what it's going to take for me to throw myself into it whole-heartedly. This effort will commence after the first of the new year.

Not depressed, I don't feel like a failure. It's always good to be reminded how writing is recursive: the more you do, the more you can do.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ah well, reality bites.

I have to say, I'm not going to hit 50,000 words by midnight tomorrow night. However, in the past couple of days, a new spin on what I've already got occurred to me, so I've gained wordage by going back and larding the past chapters with things to make that new insight all come together. And it's pleasing enough that I think I will finish it and work on it and edit it until I'm actually happy with it.  Then I'll leave it for my heirs to figure out what to do with. Nyah-ah-ah, let them think about novel-hawking. I'm retired.  :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Forgot to mention...

A couple of weeks ago, I posted another "Uh-oh, lookout" post? With this picture:

Well, I got that little project done the other day. It looks like this (I apologize for the crappy quality; I used my MacBook camera):

Shutters! They, however, are just one part of an overall project I'm plotting for my bedroom. It may not get finished until Spring. I'll do a big reveal when it's done. Because I know all the internet is waiting to see what kind of oddball thing I come up with for my bedroom. 

More words; just not enough.

Sat down and hacked out about 2200 more words tonight. That's about the maximum I seem capable of in a single day.  I did have one nifty idea come to me as I typed, and that generated another one, so that was good. I may not finish this (reach 50K words) by November 30th at midnight (then again, I MAY) but I think it'll at least be worth working on.

Trudge trudge trudge.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Do not go see the film "Nebraska"

directed by Alexander Payne, if

1)  You "just can't watch" black and white movies (I am paralyzed with incredulity that I even have to say that, but apparently there are people like that) - because you don't deserve to see this movie.

2) You must have car chases, sex, gore, loud music, or Mafia thugs to keep your interest.*

3) You can't believe that old people, fat people, not-beautiful people, can love and be loved, have sorrows in their pasts, have dreams, disappointments, failures, fears and hopes.

4) You are shocked into insensibility that actual people use "naughty" language.  There's not much in it but it's there.

This film moved me like no other I can remember. It's like a jewel, carved by a man who loves these people, and who loves the world they live in and knows it's fading away, and wants to record it so all posterity will know what it was like. I've been in that world. I spent my professional life driving those roads, visiting those farmers and farm houses, eating in those cafes and bars, listening to those conversations - dear lord sitting on Thanksgiving Day in those somnolent living rooms with those half-asleep old men having single-syllable conversations over the roar of the football game.

I feel like sending Alexander Payne a thank-you note. He's reminded me what film can be.

*Actually, there are some realistic fisticuffs, and one hilarious heist scene. So there's that.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pretty low word count tonight

BUT instead I made MAJOR progress figuring out what the heck is going on in my story! So I'm hoping to have several fast, high-count sessions over the next couple of days. This is encouraging enough that even if I don't get to 50,000 words by midnight, Nov. 30, I feel like I will keep working on it until it's actually, you know, a novel.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Doing a few hundred extra words per night, I'm slowly catching up so I'll be done with this thing by Nov. 30. I'm going to win this one!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Still not quite caught up, but

up to 28,000 words, which reduces the required word count per day to 2,001 and I can whittle away at that easily. And, things are kind of coming together finally. So, yay!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Got caught up a little bit tonight

I powered through 3,345 words tonight. Dividing the rest by 11 days, I'll need to write at least 2,035 a day to win NaNo (or reach 50,000 words by midnight Nov. 30th). Piece. Of. Cake.

Big discovery in tonight's writing, camouflaged under a really big happy ending for one situation. Nyah-ah-ah...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Back at it tonight

I needed about 8,000 words to catch up. Didn't get that, but I did get well over 1700, and some more ideas. They kind of seem to pop up like chicory plants by the side of the road as I go zooming past...funny that.  More headway tomorrow! This is catch up week!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Goofed off yesterday, but atoned tonight

20,532 words so far! And tonight's progress has encouraged me that this isn't like, the worst dreck ever to disgrace a computer screen. It's just starting to get more interesting...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

NaNo word count MET

I hope not to take TWO days off in a row again. That's scary enough NOW when I'm still having fun with this thing; later on it might be fatal. Well, for the novel I mean.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

NaNo Saturday is here!

And I'm doing much better today. It's 3 pm DST (or is it CST. I can never remember.) and I've got almost 2,000 words so far. I'm aiming to reach a total of 15,000 yet today, but we'll see.

WTA: YAHOO I DID IT! I broke 15,000 words. That brings me right up to date with the necessary daily word average. I had fun doing it, too. I got some more of the setting sketched out and firmer in my imagination, and added a bunch of characters to my list who will come into it later. At this point, it's still fun.  :^)

NaNo Saturday!

Been in the doldrums the past couple of days. No work on the NaNo novel, no progress on the Secret Project.

Today I am devoting to racking up lots of words in my NaNo novel. I'll report back later.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Uh-oh. Again.




I'm hoping to replace that question mark with the answer by tonight. 

4:30 p.m. The question remains unanswered.

I don't want to talk about it.


Wednesday, November 06, 2013

NaNo Day 6 Goal Reached!

I did a few less than the 1667 per day average, but for Day 6, I'm still ahead of the game. It's still going pretty well.

Letting go, little by little

I've had an industrial metal and particle board shelving unit in the garage full of stuff I'd either tried to sell online, and failed, or just pushed into boxes and sacks to wait until I felt like doing a yard sale - for at least two years now. Not long ago I finally admitted to myself that I will never, EVER "feel like doing a yard sale," and decided it's time to take that stuff to Goodwill. I told myself, I haven't had to look in those boxes for two years for anything, so there's nothing there I need, so I should just toss it all in the car and deliver it all to Goodwill without even looking at what's inside. That's sensible.

Ha, ha, you think you know where this is going, don't you.

Well, I did crap out on the resolve. I did look inside the bags and boxes to see what I'd put out there. I'll give you your point for that. And I did retrieve something from them. But don't get too excited. You want to know what it was?

A box of staples. As in, office stapler staples.

Everything else went. All of it. As soon as the shelves were empty, I moved all the hand yard tools over onto them, instead of on top of an ancient metal trunk that is full of ancient rusting woodworking tools. And several electric sanders whose guts have probably rusted into solid masses by now. So I can dig into that chest and figure out what to do with all the stuff in *there*.

I am very, very slow, but I do make progress. Eventually.

My reward is that I made apple crisp.  :^)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

NaNo Day 5 Goal Reached!

It's like they say - the First Week is a *breeze*.  Ima gonna enjoy it while I can.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Day 4 NaNo Goal Reached!

I spent ten minutes before my writing session, trying to figure out why Scrivener wouldn't show me the 1667 words per day target in its Session Targets panel. It was only after fruitlessly searching the Scriv for Dummies book AND my class notes from the online course I took on Scriv, that I realized, Scriv was doing exactly what it's supposed to do: it's dividing the number of words left to the novels' goal (50,000) by the number of days until midnight, November 30! So of course, since I've been writing a bit more than 1667 per night, it's going to tell me my *session* goal is less than 1667.


At least I got that little burr out from under my saddle.

I don't know about this novel. It's not bending to my will much, even though I'm enjoying it quite a bit. Maybe it'll end up being something entirely different than I'd imagined. I guess I'll find out.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Day 3 NaNo Goal reached!

My seat got really sore sitting here this time. Have to find a different place...

ETA: So, that's good, but I'm not very impressed with the new blog look. Considering it was free and took me about ten minutes, I guess I can't complain that much. I guess it'll do.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day 1 NaNo goal reached!

So, it's started. 2090 words this time, not bad.  I've introduced the five main characters and part of the main setting. I feel good!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's that time of year again!

I just signed on for National Novel Writing Month 2013!  I finally succeeded in 2011 after several failures, and I didn't have anything in mind to write last year, but a story's been simmering in the back of my brain for a long time and I think it's time to take the plunge again.

They've gone with what I think is called "8-bit"-style logos this year, which leave me pretty cold, but I'll post one anyhow just to participate. I have my own ideas as to how to stimulate interest in a potential pep-squad of my local friends, to keep me flogging the keyboard. I think the secret to my 2011 success was my fun kit of stuff I sent them, which included chocolate.  ... Maybe the chocolate was the secret to my success, now that I think on't.

Anyway, here we go again!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Well, crud.

(Not Omaha, just the mood.)
(Found with public domain google search; if this is proprietary let me know and I'll take it down.)

The temps have taken a nose-dive here in Omaha recently, and if Weatherspark is to be believed, and in my experience they get it right about 80% of the time, they're not passing the 50s for at least the next week. This irks me because 1) I had hoped to get the damned shed painted this week, and 2) I had hoped to NOT have to turn on the furnace until November. Well - #2 was more of a vain hope, but still, it would have been nice.

I guess I'll have to settle for being grateful for the mostly glorious and season-appropriate weather we've enjoyed all year so far. OK, I can do that. Mood: lightened.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Some science, and some science fiction

In honor of this story, I'm posting a little short story of my own that no one ever wanted to buy. I've always liked this little story, and I'm happy to present it here now. Be sure and go visit that TRUE SCIENCE story about the lonely sunless planet first. The link should open it in a separate window.



Terry Hickman

"Hey, watch it!" Chad, the shorter by a head, grabbed Jake's string-bean arm.

"What?"  Jake squinted in the warmth of one of those sunny mid-June days that stifle when the
breeze dies but preview Heaven when it plays.

Chad's head was down.  "Lookattem!" he breathed.

Jake squatted, all knees and elbows, and peered at the sidewalk. A house finch in a crab-apple
branch above bombed the pavement. "Gross," Jake muttered.

"There's dozens of 'em!"

"What?" Jake asked again.

"Centipedes!  Man, they must've just hatched." Chad scowled, pushing his glasses up on his nose.
"If centipedes hatch," he added doubtfully.

Jake surveyed the scores of inch-long, midnight-copper creatures criss-crossing the sidewalk.
Each had all its feathery feet rowing like mad, propelling it steadily over the concrete. They
seemed so purposeful that he felt relieved that they were all going in different directions.  If they'd
been heading for some common point, it would've been spooky. "Neat," Jake said.

Chad held one up on a grimy fingertip.  "They're *dispersing*," he pronounced, as it curled into a
shiny spiral.  "They're getting out of the old home place as fast as their foots can carry them.
Bye, Mom."

"'March of the Teen-Age Centipedes'," Jake said.

Chad replaced the creature delicately on the sidewalk, and stood up grinning.  "'Nothing Could
Stop Them'," he added, gleefully reverting to the ongoing Cheesy Movie Poster game.

The two boys resumed strolling, now watching their steps.  Jake: "'Challenging the World'."

"'With Only Their Raging Hormones to Guide Them'," from Chad, but he glanced uncertainly at
his buddy, who'd had a bad argument with the Acne Gremlins right after Christmas.  The
dermatologist swore it wasn't stress, but Chad figured Jake's parent's divorce hadn't helped. He
changed the subject. "So have you decided which college?"

"Cal State." Jake sounded glum, though his only reason for preferring U.SoCal, Wendy, had
dumped him *after* getting her Christmas present from him.

Chad reflected that Jake's winter and spring weren't much fun. "That's cool, though," he
encouraged.  "Bernie and Greg are there.  Remember over Spring Break?  They said it rocks."

Jake grunted.  "It rocks 'cause *they* rock...Where you going?"

"Metro.  Can't afford a U, yet.  That's okay, though--once I get a few 4.0's under my belt, it'll be
easier to get scholarships."

Jake smiled like his mind wasn't on the topic. "'Dispersal'," he whispered.

Chad shot another sharp look at him, then double-timed a few steps to catch up.  "Yeah, that's
what they call it.  I don't think it really applies to centipedes.  Mammals, reptiles   frogs,
salamanders.  In mammals it's usually the immature males that have to get out before the Old Man
bites big hunks outta their hides."  He thought about his dad and nodded.  "I 'spect it applies to
people, too.  Except I don't think college counts 'cause you're not really earning your 'own way in
the world.' According to my dad."

"Yeah, well, it seems to be the opposite with me, huh?" Jake said ruefully.  "My old man couldn't
wait to disperse, himself."

"Shit, Jake--you know it wasn't you."  Chad winced again, wishing he'd quit opening his mouth
and jamming his Size 13's in it.

"I should be glad," Jake said.  "He ain't around to give me crap about what to study."

"Your Mom care you want to go into Astronomy?"

"Naw.  She's still numb.  I could take Meth Distribution 101 and she wouldn't even notice."  The
light turned green and Jake strode on.  Chad stared after him for three beats, wondering if
now was the time to ask his best friend about those drug rumors. He twitched awake and trotted
after him.

The opportunity passed.  Jake tilted his head in that way he had, and asked Chad about Suzanne.

"Ah, you know," Chad waffled. He felt guilty talking about Suze because things were so good,
when Jake's love life had turned so sour.

"You going to marry her?"

It felt like a light punch to the solar plexus.  "Shit, man."

The tall boy's mouth bent in an a-ha smile.  "You are! C'mon, Bud, that's great!  Don't look like
you swallowed a pickle.  I'm happy for you.  She's great."

The rims of Chad's eyelids stung.  "Jeez, Jake, thanks.  We haven't told our folks yet--and I didn't
want to bum you."

"Naw, I think it's great.  Wendy--she wasn't ever--it couldn't have gone anywhere.  I'm over her,
long time.  So when are you tying the old knot?"

Chad stopped in the middle of the block and gazed at Jake. "Real soon," he said sounding odd
even to himself.

Jake's face changed.  "Oh, crap, she's not--"

"No."  Chad went on, slowly, his voice unaccustomed to such seriousness. "But I want you to be
my best man.  So we want to do it before we..." It hit him then, in the gut, and his view of
Jake's face went swimming.  He tried to gulp down the alarming knot in his throat. "Before we..."

Jake smiled and cuffed him on the shoulder.  "Before we. . .disperse?" he asked gently.

Chad only nodded.

" make our own way in the world."  Jake turned and resumed walking.

***  ***   ***   ***   ***  ***  ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

                                                                CAL STATE SOPHOMORE BOUNCED - 3RD DUI


                                                                         REHAB POETRY: ART OR THERAPY? NEW
                                                                                           CHAPBOOK PROBES QUESTION


                                                                                          TWO CONVICTED IN BURGLARY


                                                       CLASSES IN PRISON U: FAIR TO THE LAW-ABIDING?


                                            MECHANIC BY DAY, ASTRONOMER AT NIGHT; HUSBAND,
                                                                        FATHER, POET, FELON: A SUCCESS STORY


                                                                                AMATEUR ASTRONOMER DISCOVERS
                                                                                            FIRST ROVING BROWN DWARF





***  ***   ***   ***   ***  ***  ***   ***   ***   ***   ***

Chad Storcz, thick in the middle and nearly bald, trod across the Gas'n'Belch asphalt, enjoying one
of those mild Nebraska nights whose distant crickets made you feel like running away and
joining the circus.

He set his coffee and candy bar on the counter, digging for his coin purse with the other hand.


He brought his gaze up to stare at the counter attendant.  His lower jaw eased toward the floor.
"Jake?  Jake Pender?"

"Good Lord, it is you!"  The scrawny, seedy old man leaning on the cash register laughed
disbelievingly.  "By God, I'd know you anywhere!  How the hell are you?"

Chad unaccountably felt a lump grow in his larynx.  "It's been so long..."

"Sure has--what, forty years?  More!  So what brings you through the Sandhills?"

Chad cleared his throat and got past his surprise.  "Ah, just me and the wife," he gestured toward
his car outside. "Heading out to California to see my daughter's new baby.  My second wife," he
added, awkwardly.

Jake's wrinkled face softened.  "Oh, yeah," he said.  "Jeez, Chad, you know it wasn't til years after
it happened that I heard. . .I'm sorry, man.  That was terrible."

Chad nodded.  "Well, it happens." He nodded toward outdoors again.  "I've been lucky twice
now."  He turned back to Jake. "How 'bout you, buddy?  How you doing?"

Jake waved a dismissive hand.  "Aw, shit, you know me.  I screwed myself up back then, took me
awhile to get it right."  He grinned.  "I got lucky too, though.  Found the only woman on earth
who'd put up with me.  Two great kids, well, they're not kids any more, 'course."  He jerked his
head indicating the convenience store.  "This is ours. We'll never be rich, but we're okay."

Chad thought something special lurked behind his old friend's smile, as though he was wanting
Chad to ask him something in particular.  He wished he knew what it was.

Jake took a business card out of the cash register tray and handed it across the counter.  "Now
you know where I am, keep in touch, why don't you?  Look, there, we even have e-mail!"

His delight was infectious.  Chad gathered up his snack and the card, and promised Jake he'd be
hearing from the Storcz's real soon.  He was halfway across the lot, still grinning, when the
light bulb finally went on.  He u-turned and went back inside. Jake looked up at the jangle of the
door, his face puzzled when he saw Chad again.

"By the way, Jake.  Thought you might be interested. . .my daughter Angela?"  Jake's smile
spread, Chad thought he was touchingly pleased that he had returned just to share a bit of
his life.  He finished: "She grew up and became an astronomer."

When he realized Jake was too overcome to answer, he just nodded and pushed the door open
with his butt, ready to leave.

Just as the panel swung shut behind him, he heard Jake call: "Watch out for them centipedes!"

=== the end ===

Monday, October 07, 2013

Achievement locked!

(I think the cool kids say that.)

Remember the Yard Tools Project? I finished it today.


And now:

That's the design I came up with after several tries - the cheapest (about $3 for the hooks & eyebolts) and simplest. By far. LOL I don't know WHAT my brain is doing sometimes. Anyway, it's ugly, but it's mine.

If anyone reading this has any kind of traditionally male skills, and a daughter or daughters - or traditionally female skills, and a son or sons - TEACH THEM WHAT YOU KNOW! DON'T WAIT DO IT NOW!

My dad was a carpenter. He built houses - from scratch. He was also a car engine mechanic. If I had been a boy, I would have HAD to learn all he know, he would have made sure of it. But I was a girl, so Somebody Else would take care of all these things for me, so he wasn't interested in teaching me anything.

They did/do, all right. They're so helpful, they'll fix things that aren't broken. They'll add all the bells & whistles to make sure the bill is as high as possible. Or else I do things myself, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. (When it doesn't, the bills get even higher.) But now I'm 63, and I intend to do things for myself when I can - like this stupid little garage project. It's ugly, but it works. And it didn't cost me anything (not even a skinned knuckle - this time!) So I don't care if a "real" wood shop guy would laugh at this - screw him. I just hope he's teaching HIS daughter what he knows.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

There's a story there, I'm sure of it

Note that tiny white and gray thing on the far left:  a little mousey toy. It vibrates when you pull its string, but that, it turned out, is kind of a dumb cat toy. 1) Cats can't pull the string. DUH. 2) Even when you pull the string, the vibrating only lasts about 3 seconds, then it lies there, inert.  The scenario goes: Cat: HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THA-- Oh, nothing.  HOWEVER, when it is left out of sight, say under the sofa, or behind the bookshelf, long enough, then when it is accidentally happened upon, it is a source of great joy and much batting and racing and rolling and dashing about in random directions. 

Note the sun - spot: Adams haz it, AND the mousey.

Note the cardboard claw-sharpening/catnip-scented box on the right: O'Keefe haz it. 

I feel quite sure that a few minutes before I glanced over and saw this seemingly peaceful tableau, some extremely complicated bit of diplomacy/warfare had been negotiated.  It is clearly diplomacy, despite the visible tuft of gray fur behind and between them, because the catnip-scented cardboard box is Adams's favorite thing EVAR DOODS, while sun - spots are O'Keefe's domain. They've both been playing, on and off, with the mousey since it resurfaced yesterday. Since neither cat has ALL THE THINGS, I deduce that this event *was* diplomatic, perhaps (probably) backed up with demonstrations of military might.

Now see the next photo, which I took trying to get a better version of the first one:


She does this Every. Damn. Time. The first flash goes off and gets their attention, and by the time my camera's ready for the second picture, she's on the way toward me to see what I'm doing.

That is all.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Looks like we'll have some cool weather for awhile, anyway

and I have so god-awful many yard and garage and shed projects I need to do, I am going to try to get out there and work every single day on them. If I take it in little bits, my theory goes, I won't get so worn out or so sore that I'll dread going back.

Today, I used my saw!

My first target area was next to the rollup garage door where I keep the yard tools:

Tidying up this scene will, I hope, also encourage me to keep my tools in better repair.  

After moving all the tools out of the way - and sorting which ones will go to the back yard shed - I used a broom to sweep away (most of) the cobwebs and leaf bits.  Then I yanked out all those old, bent, rusty nails someone had pounded into random locations.  This looked much more promising:

I wanted to wedge another board between the front wall of the garage and that brick pillar on the right, on top of the in-place board. These won't have to hold much weight so they don't really need to be nailed extensively. A tight wedge of the upper board should be sufficient. The length should have been 51 1/2 inches.

And it fit perfectly, first time! (I measured twice, cut once. Somewhere, my dad's doing a slow clap.)

That really *is* a tight fit - I had to hammer really hard, a lot. It's not coming out.

That was when I discovered I lack hooks to finish the job. So, I turned my attention to the plus one for the day:

That workbench-top space was NOT there before. The far end looks jumbled? Well, it's quite organized, really and each item will have its own place when I ultimately get done organizing. When I went out there this afternoon, there was stuff piled up level with that middle screwdriver shelf across the whole bench-top! And now I have more working space! I'm chuffed!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Getting Ready for All Hallow's Read!

(one of last year's posters. Come ON, you guys, it's time to be getting this year's out to the world!)

The Friends of Omaha's Public Library has a sale the first Saturday of every month. I went over there today to see if I could find any good kids' books (age-appropriately scary, preferably) for All Hallow's Read. LOL - I really made a HAUL!!!

That's THIRTY books.  Grand total bill:  $9.00.  Woohoo I'm in business, friends! So now I just need to clean them all up a bit. Peel off the OPL and other stickers, wipe the covers down, and go through to make sure there's nothing untoward written in any of them. I saw that one has a workbook-like format, and one of the blank boxes had been filled in, so I'll figure out some way to cover that up. Stuff like that. Then I'll sort them into Little Kids - Grade school - YA piles.

I was astounded at how excited the kids last year were to get books! So I'm doubling down this year. I'm *ready*!

Give a scary book for Hallowe'en! See details by going to All Hallow's Read.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Where angels fear to tread...

I have a habit of plunging into the deep end of the pool. I won't beat around the bush here (am I collecting cliches today? Oh well): This past week I bought enough eggplant, zucchini, butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers to make several gallons of ratatouille.  Up until the movie "Ratatouille" came out a few years ago, I'd never heard of the stuff. I went online to find a recipe, and discovered hundreds! So I made one. Loved it. Made another. Loved it. Etc etc etc. I am a ratatouille convert. I love it more than spaghetti sauce (and that's saying something). I love how I can freeze it and later pile it on top of noodles, potatoes, or rice, or have it with salad and a baguette or even pile it warm on crackers. Or pita and goat cheese...mmmmm.

And we have the wonderful Wenninghoff's here in Omaha for all of your fresh produce needs. So this week I went there and bought all that stuff, and today I'm going to make ratatouille by the vat-full.

Yesterday I went back and bought 25 pounds of Missouri peaches. I hadn't realized quite how many peaches that is until I got them home. *gulp* I'm going to freeze those, too. I have about half the volume in my chest freezer available for all this stuff.

And today I'm freezing peaches. (I'm using the lazy way; washing off the fuzz, slicing them and laying the slices on cookie sheets and freezing them then putting them into freezer zip-style bags.)

This is a LOT of work. But I'm going to love myself this winter. And I'm very glad I have Netflix to keep me company during today's labors.

3 hrs later: Well, 21 of the peaches are halved and sitting in the freezer, freezing. The two giant pots of ratatouille are cooking. There is about a half-gallon of tomatoes left over, which I don't know what I'll do with, but they'll get used.

And my feet hurt and I'm tired, and I still have to bag up all this stuff for the freezer.  *groan* but here I am groaning about having too much food? in THIS world? Really, Terry? Shame on me. So instead, I shall be grateful down to my sore arches.

2 1/2 hrs later:  Got about 2/3 done with all this. Will finish tomorrow. Too pooped to keep going tonight!

ETA photos:

Freezing peaches!  The butter tubs are to hold the next tray above the peaches.

Next: my two batches of ratatouille. It turned out really really good.  :^)

And, because there aren't enough pictures of cats on the internet, here are my cats:

They both HAD been lying on the floor, one right behind the other, so I thought it'd make a cool floor-level picture. Of course, as soon as I put the camera down O'Keefe had to come investigate it, so you can only admire her toes here. As if she'd never seen it before. That's her more nonchalant brother Adams being cool about the whole thing.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Poor, poor, pitiful wee


This is a cat who has:

1.  a clean litter box

2.  had her morning 5-minute brushing complete with murmured admirations

3.  a full food dish

4.  a full, fresh, water dispenser

5.  several episodes of pettins.

Yet she has the audacity to sit there and try to guilt me into...what? More pettins? 

Yes. If I would do it, she would have me pet her 24/7 until I had petted her into non-existence. She's a Pettins Addict. I keep telling her she needs to find a 12-step program (for cats, would that be a 3-step or a 48-step program instead?) and get into recovery.  Her response?

You're looking at it.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

1st grocery tote done!

Whee-oooh and the excitement just never dies down here. Whoa. 

Yesterday I finally finished the first grocery tote:

I had enough of these fabrics to make four, plus some scraps left over I can work into the next four (I want 8 altogether so I can shop for two weeks at a time).  I'll have to dig out All the Fabrics and cogitate a bit to come up with harmonizing colors. Yes, they're grocery bags. But why not have pretty ones if I can? And I can.

I'll be the talk of the grocery store circuit, I have no doubt! *Shoulders bucket purse, adjusts pillbox hat, grabs afternoon gloves and glides to the door*

 Image courtesy of J.C. Penney Co.

Tomorrow is mega-errand-running day. I try to limit my driving around to one day a week. It means that sometimes the refrigerator gets mighty echo-y and I end up dining on odd combinations, but it makes my skinflint soul smile. And saves gas, and the environment, too.

Monday, July 15, 2013

To my further surprise

black bean stew
And here I was, thinking how hard it was going to be to top the excitement of my last post (about my knee, remember? That I posted like half an hour ago?) when it suddenly hit me: I HAVE a slam-bang exciting thing to blog about ALREADY! What I'm going to have for dinner! OMG IKNOWRIGHT?
fried rice
Well, in my little world this *is* exciting because I've been getting pretty bored with my own cooking. Still, I need to eat healthier, and more economically. Guess what, people: vegetarian!!! I've been making large amounts of one dinner and portioning it into $1-aisle home TV dinner containers. This also saves me money because I don't have to cook for like, four nights straight, I can just microwave my TV dinner!
corn bread
This time, it's going to be: black bean stew, fried rice, corn bread, and baked squash. It doesn't get any healthier than that. Or easier! And this will make like, 8 TV dinners. I've got a few of the last go-round's chicken dinners in the freezer still, so I can have a little variety. And if I intersperse those with a Big Salad night now & then, I'm set for two weeks with tasty, cheap, healthy and easy meals! And what could be more exciting than that?
baked squash

So I'm amazed.

knee joint

Somehow, I must have wrenched or strained my right knee sometime around a week ago or so. I don't remember doing it. I only know that one morning when I woke up it felt thick, and sore. It didn't look swollen. But it hurt to bend it, and it was noticeably wobbly and gripe-y when I walked, and going up and down stairs was not fun. I figured it'd go away. (That's my default attitude towards anything physical. It comes from having been blessed all my life with robust good health. Now that I'm getting older, that assumption may not serve me so well all the time...)

But it didn't get better. It didn't get any worse, but I didn't want to adjust to this as a new baseline condition. So I went online. Some MD site had a bunch of articles about knees and what can go wrong with them. None of it sounded much like my experience, so I settled on one article's advice about a strained knee. I took a 12-hour NSAID, and I iced the knee for half an hour (supposed to repeat every 3 to 4 hours). I'm also supposed to "go easy on it" for a few days. As if I run marathons all the time otherwise, ha ha. I didn't expect any results.

Boy, was I surprised. After just one half-hour icing session, that knee was like, 90% better! Wowzer! And it seemed to have carried over, mostly, through to morning. Walking downstairs brought back a twinge and a wobble, so I've got ice on it again. But taking a break from that to go up to the bathroom? 90% better again!

So I'm going to "go easy on it" today (still trying to figure out how that will differ from my usual laziness) and ice it every 3 - 4 hours, and I've already taken the NSAID. I am very hopeful that a couple of days of this will heal it entirely, and I won't have to go on to Plan B, going to the doctor. I *really* don't want to go to the doctor.

But I was amazed how well this advice helped - and then I was amazed at my amazement. Why wouldn't it work? Or, why would it be less likely TO work, than not to? My brain is not as logical as I would like to think.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Starting a new project is always such fun.

I hemmed (not an intentional pun) and hawed around for days, trying to decide between the Roman Shade project or the Grocery Totes project, but finally decided since I have my windows covered NOW, but my grocery totes are falling apart, I should just do the latter first. 

And they are going to be the most beautiful grocery totes IN the land! The plaid and floral are vintage fabrics; the lime green sheet is a queen-size fitted sheet that's good for nothing, really, except it blends well with the other two. (I have a twin sized bed.)

There is enough of the plaid to make a dress but I finally faced reality and acknowledged that if I wore a dress made of that fabric, I would look like nothing so much as a very bright loveseat. The pattern is just too big for my height, and too wide for my width, lol. And this way I'll get to enjoy it every time I go to the store. 

The plaid is the main fabric, the lime green sheet is the lining, and the floral is going to cover the bottom half of the outside, and be the facing for the handles (which will be of the plaid, too). So they're going to be bright, and sturdy, and I expect them to last until I don't need groceries ever again.

I got the pattern and tutorial for free online, here.

I'm not using interfacing, as the pattern calls for. Otherwise I'm following the tutorial.  I don't know how many my fabric will make but as of right now, I have enough of the base panels (the yellow, bottom half) for four totes. I need more than that so I may have to delve further into my stash to see if I can come up with some more harmonizing fabrics.

Somewhere I saw a suggestion that you can (after thorough washing, of course) use old curtain sheers to make vegetable bags, thus avoiding having to use plastic sacks so much. I like that idea, and I have volumes of old sheer curtains - but until I get around to making the Roman shades, those are going to have to stay on the windows. So...I need to get busy with this. and get these two projects done. The Roman shades project, I am embarrassed to admit, I've had all the fabric and hardware for like, 4 YEARS. Procrastination? I has it.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Independence Day, America!

I'm enjoying the day on my own, happily, having bought All the American Foods (hot dogs, strawberries, lemonade, Tator Tots) and stocked up on an array of good books to choose from. The Day is MORE than doing its part here in Omaha:  79 degrees, light gusty breeze, sunny with fluffy white clouds; I and several of my neighbors have put our flags out - and to top the perfection off with a perfect cherry, one of those neighbors got out and mowed his yard awhile ago. There is NOTHNG that enhances a Day of Lazy like hearing someone ELSE mowing their yard!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Baking bread

I haven't baked bread for several weeks. I really like doing that - it's much better, always, than store-bought and (I like to think) more frugal. Someday maybe I'll run the actual numbers on that theory.

In the meantime:

Whole wheat with several other goodly things mixed in

"Grandma Be's Favorite"

Yes, that page is old. I created my bread recipe notebook back in...early 1969. We were living in a basement apartment, renting it from a sweet old lady across from the Dana College campus. I wish now I'd been friendlier with our landlady. I was 19, and pregnant, so doubly self-absorbed, and impatient. But still, I wish I'd been a better friend. Aside from that, I look back on that semester fondly. It was the first three months of my first marriage, romantic and exciting to be on our own. Just thinking about those times, I can smell the apartment, hear how our footsteps sounded on the old linoleum floor. The kitchen was - literally - 6 feet wide and ten feet deep, wall to wall - much smaller of course by the time you subtract the sink and small stove. A true one-person kitchen! But it had a nice big living room and bedroom.

That was the same apartment that a Dana college student couple about 10 years older than I, who became my "adopted" older brother and sister via a church connection back when I was in grade school, lived in when they were first married. These memories are so precious and tender that I can hardly bear thinking of them, and that's all I'll say about that. 

In that apartment I first read The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and The Lord of the Rings. And The Hobbit. I first tried my hand at baking bread there, and my mom and my dad's mom both gave me tons of their own recipes, which I still have. I treasure the dog-eared, stained, time-yellowed cards with their handwriting. I had a looseleaf notebook lying around so I covered it with some beautiful pastel paisley fabric (we'd call it "vintage" these days - I found it in an antique shop in Missouri Valley) and glued 8" x 10" envelopes on the insides of the covers, and drew (badly, lol) ball-point pen cherubs with flowers and ribbons: one for quick-bread recipes I hadn't tried yet, and the other for yeast bread recipes yet to test. ("Virgin" recipes, thus the cherubs. So clever.) When I'd try one, I'd re-write it on a typing sheet and make notes on how it turned out, with the date, and put it in the notebook proper. Sometimes I'd add a little drawing to decorate the page. I thought then that this would be a nice thing to keep up and have when I got old. I had no idea what a flood of memories it would evoke every time I take it down to find a recipe.

One recipe is copied from an article about the first female leader of one of the big Native American tribes, in the short-lived Avant Garde magazine. She had supplied a recipe for Indian Fry Bread. We got that magazine when my son was about two months old and we were by then living in a trailer by the Missouri River on the east end of Blair. We were so poor; my husband was still in college and we were living on help from our parents and some college money (I think). I also had a waitress job for awhile then. I bought carpet samples for a dime apiece to cover the skanky kitchen floor. 

See? Memories come flooding back. But the bread dough is ready to punch down and put into loaf pans to rise again. Enough nostalgia...

ETA to add photo of finished bread! It turned out very tasty.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Map-geek heaven

I just discovered a new free film-viewing web site, called SnagFilms. I've signed up and started going through their lineup. Much to my joy, I found a four-part series called "Terry Jones' Great Map of Mystery," wherein he follows the very first map made of the British Isles. It has everything - wonderful scenery, towns and villages, inns, cats, tea shops, fields, ricks, and cots (whatever those are) - massive ancient trees - and those maps! They were drawn in strips! *geekflail*

This is SO just what I need this week!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This morning's unexpected journey

Despite not getting to sleep last night until 1 a.m., I awoke at 5 a.m. and could NOT get back to sleep. This lays fertile ground for The Horribles to make a landing so I lay there for awhile trying to get back to sleep. I heard the distant drone of The Horribles' soul-sucking landing craft so I started trying to think of something to get me out of bed. It's Tuesday...Aha! On Tuesday mornings at 8:30, Lauritzen Gardens opens for the Walking Club. (I don't know if that's the exact name of the activity or not.) I could go down there, I had plenty of time to eat breakfast and get down there.

So that's what I did.

I had forgotten the Lego sculpture exhibit is still there. I didn't think about it until I tried to figure out what the heck those lily pads were.

They're LEGOS!!!!

I won't post all the other pics I took of the Legos sculptures, just one or two:

Those were my favorites, I think. Incredible work. I can't imagine doing that. 

And then my 1.35 mile walk was nice, too. There were flowers.

There was cool architecture and statuary:

And close to the end, there was a mystery:

I dunno. What do you think they are?