Inside my head right now

Recent random doings:

Read:

Ardulum Book 1. Juicy space opera goodness. I saw a recommendation by Seanan McGuire online,  and I second the recommendation and third it and give it many thumbs up.

Other than that, I’ve been reading seed catalogs, longform online articles about sunscreen & vitamin D. Also re-reading my own writing a lot in the process of revisions.

View:

Venom. Much more fun than I expected. Tom Hardy was entirely believable as a loser coping with an alien parasite. Slight letdown at the end with the alien.

 Smallfoot. Um. It could’ve been worse? I don’t feel the 90 min of my life were wasted.

First two seasons of The Good Place, and caught up with the current season.

Kitchening:

It’s “eat all the summer’s saved fruit!” season. I am perfectly willing to eat frozen blueberries as-is, raw & rinsed off, but Spouseman much prefers me to bake them into things. So. Faux cobbler gets made a lot (what’s that? I take a baking dish, pour in some rinsed frozen fruit w/a little sugar & lemon stirred in, dig out a couple of frozen apple doughnuts, enough to cover the fruit when chopped up and sprinkled on top, and bake until bubbly, browned on top, and delicious.)  I make it with sliced, peeled apples too, but mostly berries.

Gardening:

Garden things in January? In Chicagoland? WEIRD, right?  I helped with a seed bank seed-sorting project at Chicago Botanic. It was lovely. I got to play with screens, and pans, and an air column . Bergamot, penstemon, and prairie dock. My hands smelled like summer all day long, both times. Hoping I get to do that again.

 

Flashback cat pic:

dsc_0223
Atop the chair, Bruce the Magnificent. Beneath it, Scootercat in Lurking Evil mode.

No Context WIP snippet. I post these because I like them but am uncertain whether they work, by the way.  Yes, I would like to know if they’re totally meh, or if you like them too.

Jack saw the rising column of smoke in the distance as soon as the teleport haze cleared around him. The tree-lined neighborhood street was empty, but shouts and wailing sirens were audible at a significant distance.

He bit back a snarl. The smoke meant they were going be late to the incident site no matter what they did, when every second counted.

And that’s a wrap.

Inside my head in the new year

First life update of the new year…for whatever extra that’s worth. This edition is a real grab bag of random tidbits.

The latest in random thoughts & searches:

  • How long is a giraffe’s neck? (1.8m, if you were wondering.)
  • Capybaras in Japan why?
  • Breyer black horse white mane
  • alpacas compare llamas
  • biochemistry neurotransmitters

Recent doings:

Reading

  • Blackfish City by Sam J Miller. Epic amazing wonderfulness. Bleak, beautiful, but brimming with hope.
  • a variety of romance re-reads. Fluffy and forgiving of my inability to focus on ANYthing.

Viewing

  • The Lord of the Rings extended editions & the Hobbit (yes, again…)
  • All of Game of Thrones including the animated history prequel.
  • WestWorld season 2. And then, because I needed a long, cleansing bubble bath for the inside of my brain…
  • Wreck-It Ralph and season 3 of The Good Place. Ahhhh, much better.
  • Crazy Rich Asians arrived at the library, so I watched that too. SO GOOD!!!

Kitchening

lotsa cookies. Lotsa soups n casseroles. Many breads. Because winter = great excuse to use the oven as much as possible.

Acronyms which resulted in long, meandering internet click-journeys from site to site to site : ASMR, BDS, PEDD, ILOH, TNVR, HGH.  None of them are related to each other, and none of the official definitions come from Urban Dictionary, so it’s safe to satisfy your initial curiosity if it’s been piqued.

Have a random cat pic:

(edit to add pic that didn’t ADD the first time)

dsc_0059

Flashback to Scootercat’s third Christmas.

And a bit of the WIP because it makes me smile. It might be the new first line for Sharp Edge. I’ll post the other possibility in the next update. (I have two scenes that are equally suitable as openings, haven’t decided which to use.)

Nothing made Valerie Wade more nervous than meeting someone else’s eyes for the first time. Would her vision reveal inner beauty or hidden monstrosity? She saw essential truths as well as externals, and that made every introduction an exercise in courage.

Until next time!

Inside my head, bleak events looming

First, the bleak. In this holiday season, this time of lights, celebrations, and laughter, darker things are closing in–real things not story things– hard, sad family things which are not mine to share in detail.

TL;DR edition: There is nothing good or easy about death’s slow approach. It sucks harder when it’s happening long-distance but not so distant travel would physically impossible or financially crippling. It sucks worst because death watches are not right for everyone, but some people think everyone should be there. (Apologies, that TL;DR was a little TL itself.)

The longer rant: Being present for a loved one’s last days  or moments is NOT necessarily the right thing. For many it is a crucial solace and a way to offer and receive support in grief. But it IS NOT RIGHT FOR EVERYONE, and there’s a cruel side to the accepted wisdom that it is. There is no special magic to “being there.” Pushing someone to drop everything to go to the bedside of a dying relative is a huge mistake.

Everyone’s relationship is unique. Not everyone needs to see a sib or parent or aunt or cousin or grandparent right up to the end of their life. Not in this modern age which often includes a long, blurred twilight of medical intervention. Not if the experience is going to color every memory and deliver deep, bloody damage to fragile hard-won, precariously-balanced mental health.

And that’s all I’m going to say about it now.  I am stressed and distracted and feeling very much the fierce-protector-beast at the moment.

The rest of the things:

  •  Reading: I have snagged up a TON of new SFF titles for my kindle through holiday sales & giveaways. But I’m reading the fluffiest of fluffy romances because I need hapily-ever-afters very much right now.
  • Viewing: I watched all the Lord of the Rings extended editions last week,  then checked out the Hobbit trilogy from the library, and then proceeded through the Lord Of the Rings again afterwards. On blu-ray. For those interested, yes, there is are noticeable differences in picture quality  & sound quality both.

    Christmas hibernation viewing has now proceeded to a from-the-beginning review of Game of Thrones, because Santa & Spouseman picked up the 7th season and we want to catch up. I am skipping all the scenes with Theon after he gets captured by the Boltons.

  • A new category: Submissions:  I have a short story I’m sending out to real, actual magazines. One rejection down, many more to come, I’m sure.  I’m waiting until after the New Year to send it out again, though.

And here’s the latest in searches:

  • Game of Thrones Wiki (lots of character searches, because I’m not up to bonding with characters who are going to die horribly.
  • Balsam Hill Christmas Trees (they had a sale. I HAD TO HAVE ONE It’s beautiful.)

Random cat pic: Scooter in his new Scooter Hut:IMG_5202

No no-context WIP snippet this time. I’m not getting a lot of writing done. The house is cleanish, Spouseman & I have clean clothes, there is fresh food & drink to be had, and I am stress-baking like wildfire. These are victories enough for me. I refuse to judge myself too harshly for not creating more.

And that’s all the all there is for now.

Random things inside my head

6. It’s confirmed! I’ll be an Attending Professional at Dragon Con in 2019. Sweet, sweet validation. (It helps balance the relentless march of zeroes in the sales reports)  I’m hoping to participate in programming for Science Fiction Literature, Fantasy, & Urban Fantasy at the least. I would love to be super-busy all four days. 

One happy bright spot in a week I’ve spent being fiercely determined not to cry about, well, EVERYTHING AND NOTHING BECAUSE LIFE IS MADE OF STRESS. Ahem. Onward. Major tooth repairs tomorrow. 

5. Holidays mean I get to hang with friends more than usual. So much catching up to do. Being a hermit whose home no one ever visits, I always fall behind. What are all the many talented, hard-working people in my immediate circle doing these days? Incredible things. Getting degrees, playing games together, working at astonishing jobs, fighting for new jobs, traveling all over the country…loads of wow.  Me? I felt awkwardly tolerated, boring, and unintentionally ruse.  You know, the usual.

Someday I should write a post about all the specific communication tools my writerfrenz and artistfrenz use to help each other cope with gathering in groups. I miss those things a lot when I’m with others.

4. Working the weekend at the library is a big change than working weeknights. All the same tasks, but the rhythm is so different.  On weeknights, the last hour is the slowest by far. Weekends? Busy. Even on a slow day. Makes for a nice change of pace.

The latest in searches:

  • free home floor plan generator
  • 19th century attitudes toward exercise
  • under 18 population Illinois 2017 census

Media update:

  •  Read: Working my way through Ardulum trilogy by J.S. Fields. Seanan McGuire recommended it, and it’s worthy. Space opera that’s careful about its science? SIGN ME UP.  
  • View: Hurricane Heist. So bad it was almost good. Okay, not really. It was just plain bad. Bad science, bad writing, bad special effects…but it was fun. Molly’s Game:  Did not finish. Sorry. I wanted to be interested, but…poker+smug people being smug+YAWN. 

3. Scooter has figured out I’m worried about his mobility. Now he lies on his side and won’t move until I pick him up and put him down gain to make sure his back legs still work.  Then he stands there and purrs and strops my legs and looks smug. CATS, y’know?

Random cat pic

2. Our official house nickname for Thanksgiving is now “The Week-long Celebration of Leftovers” And I was chastised for eating too much (read: any) of the sage dressing. It came out really well. 

1. I saw a Great Horned Owl! Spouseman heard her hooting up a storm in the middle of the night, I went to the back window to see if I could spot her in one of the neighbor’s trees, and SWOOOOOOP, she went right past the window and caught an updraft to cruise over the neighbor’s roof. So. Cool

and that’s all the all there is.

Inside my head

5. Recently in learning experiences (1) I can use the space bar on my tablet to move the screen cursor instead of trying to tap the right spot with a fingertip. (2) I changed out several new application icon images using my updated desktop system. Yay, baby steps in tech advancement! 

4. Every time I see a TV commercial for Miracle Spring Water (about once a day, despite fast-forwarding through commercials) I worry a bit more about the future of humanity. I know people have been gullible forever, but…oy.

3. The basement may have floor space again soon. Maybe. I’m not holding my breath. Spouseman is a collector, and letting go of past collections is a hard, hard thing. But…being able to walk around furniture is nice too. He’s making an effort. That’s a start.

2. Next on the home improvement list: the water heater.  Not a dire need, but it will come sooner than later. (the installation of the house humidifier demonstrated some shortcomings.) 

I am much tempted by the idea of instant, endless hot water via a “tankless” system, so if anyone has opinions pro/con, toss ’em my way. I’m in research mode.

1. Random observation: when I fill the bird feeders, all the birds go from one feeder to the next together, even though more of them would get food if they split up. Recent sightings:  sparrows, goldfinches in winter coats, Mr. Cardinal, juncos, and one seriously cranky chickadee.

The latest in searches:

  • Grand Guignol
  • chaise lounge history

Media update:

  •  Read: re-reading Jo Beverley’s Rogues romance collection. Don’t judge. I enjoy fantasy. Regency-era romances totally count.
  • View: a memorial showing of Princess Bride.

Random cat pic:

He’s sitting here often.
Might have something to do with being directly above the heater.
Might.

No-Context-Snippet from a short story I’ll be submitting to the pro market before the end of the year. (When?  As soon as I verify that its tenses are all tidy. The darned thing insisted I re-write it in present tense. 

Pops holds claim over a huge stretch of wilderness beyond his castle, land given over to wild pigs, pygmy deer, albino peacocks, and one fat, lazy bear who used to be a gamekeeper. As I step onto his lands, magic kisses my skin in a cool, tingle of recognition. 

A pale, smooth roadway appears where my foot touches the earth, curving ahead into the gloomy woods.

And that’s all the all there is for this time.

Lately, inside my head

THIS IS MY 500th post!  Freakywild. The Big Blog Experts ™ recommend a celebration or using the event to promote something, but…it’s just another post about whatever has been running through my brain for the last little while, semi-organized because organizing helps me think. So. ONWARD!

1. The other big news: there’s a nice man named Dan drilling a hole through the wall of my house right behind me RIGHT NOW. He’s outside, but still. RIGHT THERE. The man named John is downstairs right underneath me, hammering and drilling and wrenching at metal things. Out with the old furnace, in with the new. New furnace is super-high-efficiency and needs a secondary vent. Hence, HOLES. And my office is smack in the middle.

It’s a bit stressful. I’m choosing to upgrade, efficiency=environmentally responsible etc, but change is stress. (I mean, what if I don’t like it?!?)2. Yay, me! I remembered to use my Prime Lending library again this month. (It’s my way of supporting indie author ebooks within my minimal buying budget.) This month’s entry: Crier’s Knife by Neal Litherland. Good solid fantasy adventure, check it out for yourself.

3. Went outside to toss something in the trash and heard the little brown birds who patronize our bird feeder peeping up a storm. So I stop to see what has them all excited. Nothing.  The birds are all hiding in the evergreen bushes, yelling away. Nothing to see.

I take a step closer, and a hawk launches out of the bushes, lugs herself over the hedge and flaps away.  Big girl, too. Not our usuall zippy l’il Sharp-Shinned lurker. Probably the same Cooper’s Hawk who was lurking here last winter.

4. The latest in searches:

  • deadly spider hoax 2018
  • election 2018 map update

5. Media consumption!

  • Books: Archangel’s Prophecy & Silver Silence by Nalini Singh. Urban fantasy/contemporary fantasy/whatevs.  I enjoy her characters in both settings immensely and admire the author’s ability to come up with two detailed, wildly differing worlds and keep expanding on each.
  • View: The Spy Who Dumped Me. Flawed but fun spy movie…not-quite-spoof, but not at all attempting realism either. Kinda like Hitman’s Bodyguard, but without the problematic elements. Friendship rules the day over romance in this one.

6. Must-share link of the moment: US Wildfire Activity map

Usually this shows me what parts of the country are on fire. For some reason the link sometimes takes me to maps of baseball  parks or floods or other things. Apparently ArcGIS is a program people can use to make their own maps. Which is pretty cool info all by itself.

Random cat pic:

img_5641
Judgmental Scooterboo is Not Happy and is judging everyone

And that’s all the all there is.

Inside my head

I have finally tried the iTunes “Genius” feature, the one that generates radio-channel-like mixes from my music collection. (It’s only been there for years…) Now I get”singer-songwriter” mixes, “party-dance” mixes etc. It’s fun to click and let it pick songs, but there is one huge downside; I’m long accustomed to timing my work sessions with music, and these mixes will go on forever, randomly repeating.  If I don’t watch myself I can keep going for “one more song…” for hours. Which is noy healthy.

A thing I realized recently: committees have distinct, recognizable personalities. It makes sense, right? Groups are made up of human beings, so it’s logical they reflect the personalities of their members, especially the leaders. Corollary: not all personality traits are healthy ones. Could I give real-world examples? Oh, yeah. I could. But I won’t.

“Reality” television, oy. It’s a thing that makes me sad for humanity. I have no problem with basically-real, transparent-about-the-scripted-parts documentary shows,  but the manipulative, harmfully-scripted creepy ones, like all the American “talent” competitions, DIY dramas, and voyeuristic surveillance shows? Brrrr.

The latest in searches:

puffball mushroom species, fairy ring mushroom species

etymology word history greenhorn

tomato, garlic, rice, feta recipe
(when I can’t decide what to cook, sometimes I query the internet with “list of what’s in the fridge” + “recipe” and the internet provides. )

Media update!

  • Book: The latest Archangel novel by Nalini Singh. I honestly cannot remember the names of any of them, and it isn’t important. It’s a long, lush, complex alternate world fantasy genre, and it’s fluffy goodness. Just what I needed.
  • View: Sorry To Bother You.  I cannot adequately review this…but I recommend it. Scathing social commentary AND a drama with a cutting sense of humor. Not an easy watch, but a really good one.
  • ViewSkyscraper. It had Dwayne Johnson, so I had to try it. Not as bad as I expected. Basic cartoonishly unbelievable action movie plot with another telegraphed occurrence of the tired Betrayal By Trusted Friend trope, but wow,  The Rock is great working with kid actors. I mean, seriously awesome.

Random cat pic:

img_8057
I should probably start calling these “random Scooter pics”

Last no-context WIP snippet for a while:

Bergen’s leering expression held steady until Deena pulled out the chair opposite him. Then his split lip curled off his teeth, turning the smirk into a grin. “Well, hell-oh, Chief Cheerleader. You taking me on?”

Deena kept her face locked in the don’t-screw-with-me expression she’d learned in the Army, but inside she wanted to burst out laughing. Chief Cheerleader? Seriously? “You don’t know me, Jack Bergen. You barely knew me, back in high school. A lot’s changed since then.”

And that’s all the all there is for this time.