Technology is a time sink.

Hello, world. I hope you’re here to read about my mundane daily author adventures, because that’s what I’ve got for you.

Today was not a total bust. I accomplished things. Mainly I spent far too many hours troubleshooting connectivity and monitor issues. Still haven’t solved the wifi network problem–upgrading to Catalina has fucked up the IP address in some weird intermittent way–but resetting the NVRAM (PRAM? whatEVER) has solved the on-again off-again monitor problem.

I have possible fixes for the other issue, but they involved all kinds of “carefully follow these steps in order” instructions and I have no spoons for that, so…for now the mobile hotspot works fine, and it isn’t like I’m using the data for anything else these days.

In other news, Landscaping Firm 1 has been contacted for consultation & a quote on Full Yard Redesign, from drainage to new brick patio, walkways & driveway buffers, to reworking the front planting beds & installing plantings in back AND front. These people get high marks from native planting organizations, eco peeps & rain garden folk, so I’m hoping it works out. (technically it’s the 2nd firm but the first designer I consulted last September has ghosted us, so…I’m not waiting any longer.)

Why am I back to thinking about Big Outdoor Projects so soon? Wasn’t I going to put it off a year or two, what with Pandemic, and other big projects, and y’know, wanting to focus on WRITING?

Yeah, well. We were going to hold off. But now we aren’t. Therein lies a tale.

It starts with yesterday’s entry in “blessings in disguise” or “bad news/good news.”  In the AM Spouseman discovered that the drain valve for our not-new water heater has developed a slow leak. Only a cup or two a day, but enough to erode  little hole in the nice new concrete flooring under the valve. And enough to tell us we needed a consult on whether to repair or replace. So I added it to the “ask the FBC folks for recommendations” list I already had going, with questions about sump pump maintenance and other minor things, and bumped the priority to “call Monday.”

But that meant Spouseman & I were both on high water alert, which served us well later in the day, when the latest of this week’s soggy-day downpours turned to torrential deluge & the runoff couldn’t run away from the foundation fast enough. The photo for this post shows the guilty area. Just too much water being directed into one small space.

Water came seeping up through the floor of the basement entryway and poured inside onto the cheap area rugs we’d put in that part of the basement. BUT! Since we noticed it nigh-immediately, we sucked it back up with shop vacs before it had been standing long.

25-30ish gallons of water suckage later, the floor & area rugs were dry & damp, respectively, and fans+dehumidifiers were running.  Unfun way to spend a couple of evening hours, but far less than a total disaster.

But it’s certainly a harbinger of disaster, as storms are getting worse every year. So. “Better Drainage + Thirsty Native Plants Everywhere” Yard Redesign moves to the near-top of the to-do list. (Battery back up for the sump and new water heater are THE top.)

ANYway. This morning started out with leaving woeful “HALP PLS” messages with the basement people before I dug deep into research on green solutions/drainage specialist landscape contractors.

Which turned into a long, long detour through Technology Troubles…

But I did get all necessary communicating done, got answers to my questions, and somewhere in there I managed 200+ words of solid progress & some minor revisions on Sharp Edge.

And now I’ve written up the saga here. That’s a good place to wrap.

Until later!

A meander about turning points

Mid-February. That was when I first compared this year to a nightmare rollercoaster ride. Not sure of the exact date (I could dig up the text I wrote to somebody, but meh.) The point is, that impression has strengthened a thousand times over since then.

Do you know the kind of nightmare I mean? The kind of dream where you didn’t even want to go on the ride but you’re still strapped into your seat and can’t escape? Where the cars, containing everyone you know & love, sloooowly climb up that super-steep hill, and the whole way up you can see the ride is on fire? Oh, and it’s storming with tornadoes so everything is swaying in high winds & being hit by lightning, and maybe there was also an earthquake because the whole structure will collapse into a yawning void at any second?

Doesn’t sound familiar? Maybe I’m the only one who has dreams like that. ANYway.  There’s a very specific feeling that goes along with those dreams. And I’ve been getting those feels while I’m awake since about mid-February.

For weeks I kept hoping things would improve, that measures would be taken to prevent disaster, that various situations wouldn’t deteriorate. (Optimist, me)

Now the RealLife Flaming Rollercoaster ™ is going through stomach-inverting loops every day. Are we going off the rails at high speed with our known lives falling into ash as we plummet into a terrifying chasm of a future? DON’T ASK ME! I DON’T KNOW.

This post isn’t about answers or facts. It’s about feels.  This isn’t the first time I’ve ever felt like this. Not even the second or third.

Passover & Easter happened last week. (Wait! Bear with me, I promise there’s a point.)  I celebrate neither religious holiday as such, but I do have annual traditions, one of which is the Easter Weekend Viewing of The Ten Commandments. 

Fairly late in the movie, a child asks Super-dramatic Charlton Heston Moses something important and relevant. “How is this night different from all other nights?” he asks. It’s part of the Passover seder, that question, but it also made me think: how is this catastrophe different from all other catastrophes?

(Thinking is dangerous, I know, yet here we are.) This time is different, but it isn’t unique. I am way too familiar with this wrenching sensation of the world changing in horrific ways.

The timeframe of my life brackets multiple genocides, military conflicts, political overthrows, and momentous natural disasters. Also in the history books: assassinations, terrorism, and more exploded economic bubbles and demolished dreams than I have digits to count on. Most of the events were distant, but many left deep scars and shaped my life.

But only a few events gave me this same feeling that reality has come unhinged and is swinging loose in the winds of fate. Beacuse reasons, I decided to compile my list.

1968. Robert Kennedy’s assassination. This is the first one I remember. I was little. (If you need more background, my parents were politically active Democrats, and we were living in southern California at the time.) I don’t remember details or a timeline. I remember being home with my mother. I remember inconsolable weeping, and being told why, because the tears distressed me. For ages afterward I remember tension and rage and frustration, and I didn’t understand, but those feelings of dizzying, terrified disorientation color every memory of that summer and autumn.

1974 Watergate & Nixon’s resignation. Another political disaster. I was still young enough to be sheltered but old enough for rational explanations this time. My mother taught history, and my father was a story spinner, and the family watched the news together most nights while eating supper, so the events of the unfolding investigation and the looming impeachment aftermath were threaded through our daily lives. There was never a Moment. The change came on like a dust storm, darkening everything, and again, the sense of doom and horror weave through all my memories of that year.

1986 Challenger disaster & aftermath. Like a lot of folks, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news. I was standing in the art supply aisle of the ND bookstore, being annoyed by people talking loudly because I was listening to the overhead radio. Which announced the launch and then…the rest. That one was A Moment. It was a gut-kick that lasted years. Apollo moonshots were my earliest TV experience. (Well, that & Vietnam coverage) I’m a science nerd.  I got obsessive about following the Challenger investigation: it was my way of handling my grief for the future that crashed and burned along with the shuttle. (side note: one of my Big Happys in recent years is pop culture’s revival of deep excitement & support for space exploration.) That year also marked my first introduction to conspiracy theorists.

1991 US enters war with Iraq. I was teaching high school as a substitute, which meant I often got to see teens acting differently than they would in front of their parents of regular staff. And what I saw in the weeks & month after the news broke left me gobsmacked. The students were elated. EXCITED. I now know this was ‘Murica! phenomenon in its early stages. Don’t get me wrong, I was familar with jingoistic, flag-waving racism. I grew up in central Indiana during the Iranian hostage crisis, FFS. But this? This was different. That year marked first I saw raw, naked, nationalism go unchecked by any authority. Many of the teachers shrugged it off, or expressed resignation, or were themselves supportive, and that was worse.

2001 9/11 attacks  With this one, the flaming roller coaster shot right off the track into the maw of chaos.  The day was traumatic, tragic, horrible. The slow-motion unchecked, slide into authoritarianism, the

2008 Global stock market crash  This event, for me, was more like the end of one of those long roller coaster rides than anything else. Look. I worked retail for 20+ years. Everyone working the front lines of retail saw this coming for at least a couple of years.  I started dabblinb in post-apocalyptic fiction in

2020 Covid-19 Yeah. This one.

I’m doing month by month posts on this year (okay, fine, I’ll start posting them soon. I haven’t yet because putting my life events alongside the unfolding bigger picture has been too much Too Much. Mainly because I keep reading posts that say things like, “Wow, everything moved so fast,” and “How could the world change overnight like this?” and “When do you think people will get back to work & school so life goes back to normal?” or “Sure, maybe we’re going to have a new normal when this is over,” but then they start describing a world that’s much the same.

And I keep thinking, “But no, things didn’t happen fast, not at all.” Epidemics grow on a log scale, and that’s why they’re so dangerous, it’s been a shock because we saw this coming and instead of acting, waited & hoped it would go away until it was here, but it only felt like a fast reaction because we hit a tree instead of tapping the brakes as we went into the icy curve. So to speak.

And also…get back to work? UM. People are still working. No, not the sick ones. Or the dead ones. But people haven’t stopped working, just like kids haven’t stopped learning.* The how of it all has changed, not the what. 

Oh, and, OVER? This will not be over. Ever. It isn’t about getting through a month or getting over it and going on to “ordinary life in the new normal.”**

ANYway. That’s my list of the only times I’ve really felt my whole world had gone off the rails.

And I do mean MY list. I’m pinning impressions to a virtual board to make this surreal existence feel more real. I’m not making sweeping generalizations about meaningfulness, dismissing pain, minimizing fears, or engaging in competitive loss. Like I said at the start, it’s been a half century full of scary, terrifying events. This is me. You do you. You’re valid.

I do know all the scary times have been worse for others. I’ve been sheltered & buffered lifelong from the effects of World Nightmares. My race and culture give me undeniable educational, financial, & societal advantages.

But in the end, all that means is that I’m observing from a different seat. Everyone with a heart grieves, and everyone with a sense of justice feels rage. I don’t know where this latest ride is going. What I do know is this: I will whatever I can to bring it into the station once again (burned, battered, shaken, irrevocably changed, but still intact) and not into the pit for real

There will be a more cheerful post soon, I promise.

New basement pictures. And flowers.

Until later.




I had even more digressions than usual in this post. Have a few cut scenes, so I don’t make whole post-rants out of them.

  • “but the children!” No,  Kids aren’t in school. They may or may not be absorbing their standardized academic lessons. They aren’t getting the same social experience their sibs & parents did. All that is true. But! They Are. Learning. Every day they’re building memories and making decisions and exercising judgment, and that is what learning is all about. Maybe they aren’t “learning the right things. But don’t give me the ruined lives line. We all only get one childhood. Memories harsh or sweet are what make or ruin them. Bitterly–constantly, publicly–listing all the things “this generation won’t get to do” is a grieving activity, and understandable, but we should not let our grief  suck the joy out of the only now they get.
  • ( I am  SOOOO sick of the “new normal” phrase. I now wish I had never used it in a book even though I wrote the book 7 years ago..) The new will not be normal for a LOOOOOOONNNNG time yet. When I look into the future where we redefine how people work in a world where physical contact is dangerous again.*** That’s when I get the worst of those Nightmare Rollercoaster Feels. I fear I may only recognize the world on the far side from reading dystopian SF.
  • –yes, again, this isn’t new, pandemics are not modern. NOT having to deal with life shutting down on the regular for an epidemic is a recent, and evidently temporary thing.
  • I’m trying a few New Blog Things here, primarily  cutting back on the time consuming sidetracks of header pics & tags & labels & excerpts. I’ll be experimenting with the various post formats too, because I can.

A post full of happy things

The world is a burning roller coaster from hell, but there are bitty bright spots, and today I’m choosing to share those bits instead of ranting about the deadly, ignorant, hateful bullshit splattered all over my social media walls.

Fair warning, full disclaimer and all, these are personal happies. If that makes me a self-absorbed, entitled, privileged, self-righteous asshole of a human being, welp, your exit is just a click away. Buh-BYE. Side note: one of my new Quarantine Social Media Self-Care routines is muting strangers & friends alike who post name-tagged complaint memes. And walking out of real-life conversations where such “jokes” are made. #FirstNameProblems

Okay, I accidentally digressed into a wee, prickly rant, but look. Those shit memes leave me wounded & defensive. Today I refuse to apologize for feeling joy. Wallowing in sadness, guilt, or anger won’t help anyone, and I will NOT post about what I do for others because it feels performative and uncomfortable. Just quietly doing kind or generous things is much easier.

ANYway. Here’s the joy part. AND PICTURES. If I did this right, the most current pic of an area will be on top, with a series of progress shots & then remarks below.

First, the first-impression zone. It is wholly transformed. I can’t wait to sit under those windows in sunshine, summer & winter.  Light. Air. Room to move. Level. Floor. There will be plants.

Next, the area we’re calling the Whatnot room. No for-sure plans for it yet. Might become a nook for Spouseman’s painting desk & minis, might be where the chest freezer goes, might be BOTH, because there’s room! Hiding in that back right corner will be a sweet little half-bath with its own window. Which will be privacy frosted, yes.  It isn’t there yet, but it will be soon. Happy, happy anticipation.

Lookit this gaming room. Is looking POSH, yes? Scroll down for the view from the other side. The TV stand is gonna look SWEET in that nook, and the built-ins have lights at the top.  

What’s gonna go on those shelves? Dunno. Booze, maybe?  Maybe Legos on the left side with the shallower shelves. No decision yet. Still in the pleasant pondering stages.

Lastly: I have a washing machine again!!! Words cannot express my relief at being able to do laundry without leaving the house again. Except those words did, I suppose.

Oh! wait. One more last pic. The first floor bathroom had to be ripped open to gut all the 88-year-old nasty, corroded iron drains & galvanized pipe. Which meant only one bathroom in the house, upstairs. And then Spouseman started working from home full time, too, and…yeah.


But now it’s all back together & repainted. Good-bye, dirty-gold walls (technically olive bronze, but…uh…) hello, Antique Blush (aka a whiter shade of pale or whatever.)

Today, the last bit of cabinet & mirror go back up, or so I’m told. What I know for sure is the “Stay Home Stay Safe” life has been much easier since the sink and toilet went in. Big yay.

So. Um. That’s that!

It’s been a wacky couple of weeks. I’ve gotten plenty of Things done, but not posts or sharable fiction because, well it’s hard to concentrate on those when much of the worst-case research material I’ve collected for literally decades is coming true all around me in real time. But!  I’ve changed up my media blocking so I stop surfing from site to site for fresh statistics to fret over, and I hope to tackle Actual Writing again soon.

Until later, all!