Categories
Writing Life

Weekend Update

Firstly.
Biscotti baking experiment was a success. (I’ve made biscotti dozens of times. Wearing gloves was the experimental part.) They were even better for working the super-sticky dough than I’d hoped. All my recipes that read “wet hands and keep hands wet while handling dough” should be updated to read “wear nitrile gloves.” Should. But won’t be, because I’m lazy.

Pic of biscotti in progress:

Secondus:
I got issued someone else’s dream Saturday night. I was at a banquet, seated at a table with only one other person — all the tables were small and widely spaced out, so I guess social distancing exists even in my subconscious–and there was a ribbon at my place setting, the kind that goes with an awards medal. My dinner companion was some guy whose children’s charity had Changed The World and when I was wondering about the medal ribbon, it turns out I was there because I’d won some award for making a video that made his charity super well known althrough I’d just made it for fun and hadn’t known what I was hyping. (Which is how I know it had to be someone else’s dream because WTAF?) Anyway, he told me about his organization, which I thought was awesome although I recall zip about it now, and we watched awards be given out by famous presenters like the Obamas and Captain Picard (Not Patrick Stewart, Jean-Luc) while people at neighboring tables were making fun of the liberals and aliens and I was wondering why they were even there if they didn’t like the awards, and then I woke up.

Thirdly:

Studio GhibliFest continued with Castle In the Sky & Nausicaa Of the Valley Of the Wind. I’d seen Nausicaa, but Paul had never seen either one. They were both wonderful and thought-provoking, and the musical scores were nostalgic trips down Electronica Lane. I was by the fox-squirrels and finally connected that long-ago viewing of Nausicaa to my unexplained love for Pokemon Eevees.\

Fourthish:

Saturday’s plans were disrupted by an impulsive drive up to the north shoe for bagels & corned beef and a good long garden walk before the ice came raining down. Lots o’ house-fussing followed. Winterdark decorations came down, and the living room couch sections were reconfigured (they are basically big, squishy, grownup Lego blocks.) Closets were cleaned, books went onto shelves, and rugs were moved around. All the changes delighted our Feline House Supervisor, who personally inspected and approved all new furniture arrangements.

FIFTH (my rant for the hour)
I am watching and enjoying one of my bad fictional crime shows (NCIS, in this case) tonight, but I am reminded how much I hate the “innocent people don’t run” trope. IT IS A DANGEROUS LIE AND I LOATHE IT. Grr. Innocent people run for a million innocent reasons.

I’m getting a kick out of NCIS’s increasingly progressive scriptwriting in general, and the plot spins up right by the end, but annoyingly, they double down on the “shouldn’t have run” thread before it’s over. UGH. That trope. Just Won’t DIE. Double Ugh.

SIXY:
I didn’t write yesterday or today, which means I am now 2 days behind and pushing up against a deadline, but I did do a lot of THINKING about writing, so I made progress just not on the page. IT’s been a long time since I was able to concentrate like that, so it feels good. Tomorrow is a wretchedly extra-busy day with long-delayed routine medical stuff (OH. JOY. Doctor visit during Plague Times) and extra library work, but

And I do not regret the non-writing adventures. They were wonderful recharging, restful, & energizing.

Okeedokee, that’s all for now. Until later!

Categories
Writing Life

Random brain bubbles

That would be another accurate title for this blog, huh? My sneaky plan to avoid getting caught in a sticky web of scrolling by writing posts here instead of onto social media–it’s working. I’ve clawed back HOURS of time by dropping every “Here be a funny/interesting/annoying thing” observation into a draft post instead of booting up a social media app that sucks me in.

I’ve forgotten to PUBLISH the drafts several times already, though. That is a strong indication my desire to share things is satisfied by writing them down. It also indicates I still suffer from some self-censoring problem of “but is that important enough to post?” avoidance.

Time to refine the strategy and formally assert that every few hundred words of something IS a post and publish it once any draft hits that goal. Which this one has! Here be 3 separate shortish snippets.

FIRSTEST.

I didn’t get around to doing biscotti yesterday. I wrote things and made BBQ baked beans + cornbread for oven exercise, but there was a LOT of laundry to slog through as well. Biscotti prep did happen–I diced TWO batches of dried fruit in the food processor, so there will be a bonus batch of cookies at some future date–but the main storyline got postponed in favor of several side-quests in the form of cabinet cleaning, drawer organizing, and a seasonal behind-a-the-things counter scrubbing. This is a typical chain of events for my kitchen adventures.

Cookie completion? Delayed. Sense of accomplishment? HUGE. I’ll take that trade-off.

SECONDEST.

“Chase Catmom” is currently First Among Favorites on the long list of Mister Pippin’s favorite games. It’s a recent spin on an earlier entertainment: Watch Mom Walk In Circles.

I pace around the basement at night when I’m feeling antsy but it’s too damned cold and icy outside to take a walk. (So, in my area, most of January.) The best spot for ‘taking a turn around the room,’ to use my Regency Romance phraseology, is a wide hallway about 25′ long, with a winding stair at one end and the game room at the other. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll open the cat gate to the gaming zone and add a circle around that to my route.

Pips always wants to be in the middle of any action, because CAT, and there are several excellent window wells and table perches. I get exercise, he gets cat TV.

A few days ago he leaped off the table and got underfoot when I turned at the game room end. There was much whuffling, many tail-flirts, and some foot dancing action. Never has there been a clearer invitation to play Chase.

“Seek & Pounce” being a critical element of the chase game, I hustled to the far end by the stair and hid around the corner. (I would say run, but it’s a wind-sprint distance, so I never get up to speed.)

Pips galloped along in my wake, mrrping excitedly the whole way, and he accepted pets and praise on arrival when he “found” me. Once I resumed my walking, Pips waited until I got halfway down the hall before charging up and past me in an obvious bid to do it all over again. So we did.

Best Game Ever.

He’ll sprint after me ten or twelve times before he’s thoroughly tuckered out. At the end of every lap he meows and chirrups and demands pets for his excellent conformation and speed. It’s adorable, and no, I am not doing video of it.

THIRDEST

Today in random investigations: Woodstock is much more common municipality name than I realized. Not quite Springfield, but it’s up there. I didn’t check all 50 states, but CT, IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, WI for sure all have a place called Woodstock. And now you know that too.

Postscript, sort of. Tags. My dislike of the tagging and categorizing aspect of blogging may also be holding me back. When I’m done writing, I want to hit publish & be done, not ponder the best subject headers & keywords. Adding internet cat tax photos to tempt folks into clicking is fun, and I don’t mind dashing off little teasers for the social media auto-shares, but my post-writing-the-post patience ends there.

I recognize tags are important Search Engine Optimization tools, but I gotta be honest: that’s a skillset I don’t feel like learning. From now on, I shall be doing few-to-no tags and ignoring WordPress’s little guilt-trip suggestion boxes about them. Easier is better, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

That’s all for now. I’ll do this again when next I have a few hundred words of random. Until then!

Categories
3. Other Things Whimsy Writing Life

1000 words about nitrile gloves because why not?

Blue nitrile gloves are The Bestest Thing Ever, and I may never again bake (and clean up from baking) without wearing a pair. I know I’m late to the party, but I’m excited and this is my space for gushing & ranting, so here goes.

The rest of the world has known about these forever, right? I mean, I’ve been watching contestants use them on Great British Bake Off for years, and medical personnel wear them all the time. Why did it take so long? Look. All I can say is, I had no reason to believe they were special. I also saw most people go barehanded if they could, same as I go barehanded as much as possible.

My perspective shift started in spring 2021 when I developed wicked serious eczema on my hands and feet. I left it untreated for months except for moisturizing because I didn’t know what it was. I’d had occasional eczema breakouts in the past on my knees and feet, but they’d itched like crazy, alerting me to the need to heavily moisturize the areas and then ignore them until they cleared on their own.

This time? The hardened, scaling (splitting, bleeding) skin on my hands and feet ached and stung where it split open, but it didn’t ITCH. I only went to the doctor when the weird thick skin, the bleeding bits, and the numbness began to worry me. The doc was surprised it didn’t look like I was aggravating things by scratching the outbreak spots. (Guess who is really, REALLY good at tuning out sensations my brain decides aren’t relevant?)

Yah, anyway. Nine months later, things are not yet fully under control. I’m making headway, pinning down triggers and managing flares, but it’s slow going. Any abrasion or minor scrape on my hands or feet becomes an instant new outbreak, plus skin affected by eczema is terribly fragile and prone to tearing. So every time I get one set of torn fingertips, knuckles, toes or heels calmed down, another spot or thre**e rips open. And then all the other spots act up harder.** Lemmee tell you, typing with open gashes on your fingertips is not the funnest thing ever.

So I have been wearing gloves Rather A Lot. The day I came home with the eczema diagnosis I bought rubber dish gloves, cotton moisturizing gloves, a box of disposable vinyl cleaning/food handling gloves, and yes, a box of blue nitrile gloves.

Why so many different kinds? Firstly, I wanted different options to try. I have always hated wearing gloves. My hands feel smothered. I hate the loss of sensation. I hate the bulkiness. So I didn’t have much Glove Experience. Secondly, because the doctor recommended using gloves whenever doing things that might irritate the skin. The problem being my hands, that meant I was going to need All The Gloves.

EVERYTHING was a hazardous activity and dishwashing was a freaking Red Flag Danger Zone. (Not only does soaking in hot water aggravate the outbreaks, but also I react to an ingredient found in liquid soaps.)

Every type of glove had its downsides. Dish gloves are an absolute PITA to put on and take them off constantly while cooking and cleaning as you go, plus that requires twisting and pressing and creates friction, which is a potential for new tearing every time. Cotton gloves are useless for wet tasks. Work glovesw (which I didn’t buy because I already had lots because gardener herem, hello) are awful for anything requiring dexterity.

And vinyl gloves rip easily, get annoying when wet, and are lousy for tasks that require fine motor control. And they’re one-use only at best. For tough activities I might go through 2 pair. Grr. Wasteful.

And NONE of those gloves be worn while using electronic devices with a touchscreen or a trackpad.

The nitrile gloves? Their downside was that they were expensive and something I’d never used before. Plus they looked like vinyl gloves crossed with latex gloves-which I had used but loathe because they’re tightly clingy and I have tactile issues. (see: “I hate gloves as a general concept,” above)

I only bought the blue ones because at that time the store only allowed purchase of 1 box of vinyl gloves per visit, and I was afraid I might run out. Since I never did, the blue gloves sat unused for months.

Spouseman took over much of the washing-up duties & many other hand-related chores, but baking is a me thing. Between my hands hurting a LOT and not being able to easily clean up as I go, kitchen puttering hadn’t been much fun for a long time.

And then I had a big eczema flare RIGHT WHEN IT WAS TIME TO BAKE CHRISTMAS COOKIES. GRR.

I’d resigned myself to wearing the vinyl gloves, but ew, I dinna wanna, and I was feeling all GRUMPY when noticed the neglected box of blue gloves languishing under the box of the other kind.

And inspiration struck in the form of: “What the hell, why not try them?” Maybe they would last through more than one washing-up between batches and I wouldn’t have to keep changing them & feeling tlike a Wasteful First-World Bad Environmentalis

I went to work measuring, and stirring and scooping and washing with my blue-glove hands, and HOLY FUCKING WOWZA. I’d been hoping they would be tolerable, but NO. A bunch of things were EASIER than if I wasn’t wearing the gloves.

Handling sticky dough. Greasing the baking dishes. Getting all the dough out of the mixing bowl. Washing up. Everything was easy again. I could feel things tright through the material, and it didn’t tear. Oh, and at least for me, the gloves even worked with my phone screen.

So. Bottom line, I now fucking love blue nitrile gloves, and they are my go-to handiwork accessories.

Temps are gonna be in the single digits tomorrow night, so I’ll be baking biscotti (double bake time = double the extra warmth for the house) I’ll for sure be wearing my favorite new gloves.

That is all for now, except here’s a random cat picture, because Pippin is the cutest.

Until later!


** I’m extra-annoyed that one new trigger appears to be eggs. Not eggs in things, but eggs-cooked-alone. (like, say, scrambled, which I had been LOVING for the 4 years since I stopped having other allergic reactions to them) GRRRRR.

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

And then this happened

That could be a title for every blog post, eh?

Sipping tea and sitting in sunshine with the cat on my office couch was a fabulous way to spend a Sunday morning. I spent a lot more time there than I originally intended.

My one brief peek at the internet was a mistake because along with the wildly irresponsible fear-mongering, scientifically-dubious, hand-wringing over the Omicron surge, I learned there are folks claiming that vaccinated people who minimize human contact and wear masks are doing it because we’re scared of getting sick. That we’re pathologically anxious. That we’re frightened out of our wits and suffering from a mass delusion, even.

OH FFS. That’ll teach me to open up my browser on the weekend. I MEAN. Beyond the WTAF aspect, there’s the projection part (accusing someone of having a trait you actually have.) It really torques me off that the assholes who spread disinformation to undermine public confidence in all information sources do so much better a job than the have reached a new record in Awfulness.

Keeping other people’s germs out of my face when infection rates of anything are skyrocketing is a sensible way to avoid getting sick. Always has been. I hope wearing masks during seasonal virus peaks becomes normalized tbh. And with a novel disease the reality is that eventually I will get sick, but the longer I stay uninfected and the more I can train my immune system beforehand, the better.

That isn’t delusional. That’s common sense — unless you also believe the disease itself is essentially harmless. And to believe that, you have to dismiss hundreds of sources in dozens of countries who have nothing invested in lying about its badness.

Liars who spread disinformation to erode public trust in all existing sources of information? REALLY TORQUE ME OFF. HARUMPH.

ANYway. End mini rant. That’s a big grump, but it’s my only one from today, so…yay? And it ties into the books I’m starting the new year with. One’s on reserve at the library and I’ve recommended purchase of the other. Cultish by Amanda Montell, about the language of extremism, and Stolen Focus: Why You Can’t Pay Attention by Johann Hari, an examination of the many ways the modern environment demolishes our ability to concentrate and learn.

In other cheerful moments today, there was snow-shoveling in the sunshine. Spouseman and I even made a tiny little maze in the snow on the patio because, hey, we have a patio! We also took Pippin out for his first walk in snow. I wasn’t sure how he would react to the cold and wet.

He loved it. I shoud’ve known.

That adventure was followed by returning some movies to the library, then coming home for a victorious supper of soup, crusty garlic bread and baked apples.

Tonight’s viewing of Howl’s Moving Castle went very well. I’d seen it before and love it. Spouseman loved it. He also looked at me afterwards and said, “I am proud of myself for being very good about not asking questions.” It isn’t typical Chekov’s gun plotting with every surprise foreshadowed and every character perfectly pigeonholed in a type. It skips merrily along and

Which is a thing I love about Mizaki storytelling.

Then I made more cookies and watched Hawkeye. Good fun. The banter, the complications, THE BROADWAY SONGS AND POSTERS ZOMG. And the scenes with Yelena Belova/Black Widow were extra super fun.

Now I am caught up on the MCU except for the new Spiderman, which I will eventually see. And The Eternals. Is that MCU? I’m not sure. But I have its release noted so I can watch when it hits streaming.

We have one more day of “winter break.” On tap: more Studio Ghibli and a movie called Encanto, which is a Disney thing. And Boba Fett. That should be interesting.

And that is that. Have a sleepy cat photo. Until later.

PS: Pssssst. I almost forgot. Books! I write ’em. You can read em. There are links. I’m not putting one in here because no one ever clicks them anyway.

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

First Caturday Saturday

First day of the Gregorian calendar year. For me, a snow day, baking day, sleeping-in day, rest day.

New Year’s Day is not about productivity for me. Things usually get done, many things actually, usually enjoyable ones, but it’s rarely focused goal-targeted labor or anything society recognizes as Useful — not because I have a superstition about the day setting the tone for the rest of the year, no.

No, I avoid being productive on NYD because it’s a day off. Luckily, having a cat means I have help remembering days off are for relaxing now. Pippin has been sleeping like a champ all day today.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions (pointless to give extra weight to an arbitrary annual calendar changeover date, resolutions should be meaningful and embraced whenever a need for one is identified, blahblahblah) but if I DID do them, I would resolve to pitch the word (indeed, the entire concept of productivity) into the trash bin of reality where I would burn it with the fiery destructive force of a thousand flaming suns.

Since I’ve been resolved on that point for years already, it doesn’t count against my “no New Year’s resolutions” resolution, right? (Is that a paradox, to have a resolution about not having resolutions? ANYway. It’s definitely a digression.)

After being awake until 3 AM, we rsolved to wake up whenever and successfully enticed Mister Pips into snoozing with us until nearly 11 AM. Fancy brunch was had here at home, courtesy of frozen foods purchased back when the world wasn’t so viciously contagious. There was lounging, and reading, and a long walk in the falling snow. Napping happened. Also a teeny little bit of writing, (in addition to this, I mean. Serena and Parker are walking puppies and not talking. It’s fun. And funny.)

In fits and starts between other activities I made split pea soup, no-rise bread, and baked apples. We’re now enjoying the feast with a split of Sauterne (yummy sweet French white wine) while watching Jungle Cruise. Which is much better than I expected. Perplexing and occasionally bizarre, but fun.

Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Paul Giamatti, and a bunch of other people who look vaguely familiar navigate a convoluted screenplay that has some major African Queen meets The Mummy vibes. Good actors chewing up scenery through a quip-heavy actionfest with some pleasnat surprises? Yes, thanks!

Along with everything else fun today, there is popcorn. Because this is a popcorn flick for SURE.

This one has some extra fun running gags and better than average dialogue, too. So I’m happy.

Back when my dad took my to Disneyland for my birthday, ( we lived in SoCal at the time) I would ask to go on the Jungle Cruise multiple times because I loved it. I also loved the Undersea adventure, the Pirate Island, and the Haunted Mansion. And yes, It’s A Small World.

BTW, a father who’s willing to go through It’s A Small World multiple times a visit multiple times a year is a parent who truly loves his daughters. (My younger sister used to alternate between IaSW and the Mad Hatter’s Teacups all day long on her birthday trip, or so the family story goes)

A second digression! And it’s only the first day of the year. Go, me.

My other not resolution for the year is to be Very Direct and Talkative about my projects and how proud I am of my existing books. So. Please buy my books, read my books, review my books, recommend my books if you love them–and I’ll keep writing books regardless.

That’s all for now, until later!