Random Thoughts Roundup

Winter is coming.

Autumn is already here, seasonally speaking. The calendar will catch up soon. And I fear winter’s going to cut down on opportunities to safely spend time with other people, what with the pandemic & all. I wish that wasn’t true.

Some of my favorite memories are cold weather ones: campfire parties with bunches of Girl Scouts, all sitting on logs bundled up, hot drinks in mittened hands and marshmallows blazing over the fire; comet watching with Spouseman, lying on the warm hood of the car, staring up at stars on a back road in a forest preserve; all alone on a sunset walk through the neighborhood, ice crunching under my boots, ice forming on my eyelashes, ice making the bare tree branches creak in the -40 degree wind chill.

Gonna pause here to note that I was rarely cold out on any of those occasions. Did I did mention I hate feeling cold? Yeah. No cold toesies for me once I was old enough to buy my own boots.

I hate being cold, but I’m willing to keep having outdoor hangouts all winter long, if I can find other people to hang with me. It’s partly about having the right gear, and all about the good company.

MURICA AMIRITE?

I am a citizen of a country whose federal government throws people into concentration camps, keeps them in wire cages, starves them, experiments on them, & sterilizes them. I’m a citizen of a country where local and state police forces promote violence and consort with thugs, neither serving nor protect the communities that provide them with budgets dwarfing the ones funds given to public aid and education. I live in a country where the haves are unforgivably selfish and dangerously blind, and the have-nots are willfully ignorant. Where far too many people have no idea how their own government works, and are so secure in their willful ignorance that no narrative truth can reach them.

It’s painful, that’s what it is. I’m not helpless, and I am not a bystander, but it’s hard, not being able to do more without breaking myself. I don’t do as much as others, but I give, and I speak up, and I support where and when I can. Not everyone is built for battle. Not everyone is strong enough to hold up themselves, much less others. It ain’t fun being fragile, is what I’m saying.

FFS All opinions were NOT created equal.

When did the absurdity of “We can agree to disagree, but it’s my opinion and I’m entitled to it,” become an acceptable conversation topper? It isn’t true, it isn’t right, and it’s responsible for a lot of evil in the world. That’s my opinion. And if you disagree with me, you’re wrong. Period. So there.

Vote Dammit.

I have voted in nearly every election since I turned 18. That’s a lot of elections, and a LOT of disappointments. I have known all my life the system was rigged and broken and the only chance we had to fix it was to vote in people who were willing to change it.

I’ve preached about the importance of voting so often my friends who think it doesn’t matter get annoyed and edge away from me every time it comes up. (YOU WERE FOOLS AND NOW LOOK WHAT IT’S COME TO) Ahem. Sorry. Not helpful, but GD*#$#)$&^#@ it’s frustrating.

And this year…oof. This year I am feeling very gloomy about the outcome but still hoping I am wrong. We’ve got this one last chance to steer away from the precipice. Maybe. But by golly, whatever happens after the election, I’m gonna go down knowing I did everything I could to make a better future out of this mess I grew up in.

HAHAHA-OOOPS.

Last week started off more cheerful than it wrapped up, can you tell by the way the entries deteriorated into rants? SORRY. In writing news, things are going okay. I’m grinding through the end of the 3rd of 6 sections in Sharp Edge. I’ve hit a plot point that doesn’t want to polish up, but things will work out.

ANYway. It’s Monday night, so this is going out now. Until later!

I made some things.

So today I decided to bake a bunch of things and cook other things that would make the kitchen steamy. OF COURSE I DID. The high today was 93 degrees, about 20 degrees above normal for late September, and the humidity was through the roof.  Baking and boiling things were an act of defiance.

(I also wrote a few hundred words the yesterday, read a couple of books,  dove deep in a bunch of other projects, and tackled the overgrown  garden before it produced triffids, but that’s another post. Whew. Just writing all that was tiring. No wonder I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck….)

ANYway.

I’ve been feeling the baking itch for a couple of weeks but had to wait until flour went on sale. Why, yes, I AM that much of a cheapskate, thanks for noticing. Spouseman was happily estivating in the basement with the air conditioning at Arctic Circle levels, so I pulled out the supplies and went to work.

The first batch of dough didn’t rise well, a common issue when I use fresh honey, old yeast and not enough of it, and impatiently mix all the ingredients up together instead of following the proper fussy rituals of Yeast Placation. No worries!  I whipped up a second batch of yogurt-boosted basic rolls and turned the honey dough into honey-cinnamon bread after it basked outdoors in the heat for a couple of hours.

I haven’t worried about bread “not coming out right” since the day I forgot to add yeast to the bread machine I used at the time… and the gaming group wolfed down the whole (flat, dense, chewy) loaf  before it even had a chance to cool.  If it bakes, it eats.

The apple sauce cooked down entirely without drama. I had a few too amny apples to safely boil down without boiling over, so I sliced ’em up, coated ’em in sweet batter and tossed them in to bake with the bread.

Total for the day: 3/4 of a gallon of applesauce. 8 pseudo-sourdough rolls. 1 loaf honey cinnamon bread. And a whole pan of apple pudding.

Here’s the official photo:IMG_2445

This will be breakfasts and desserts for a few days easy. For tonight  I’ll toss some romaine withdressing to go with the rolls, slice up some tasty Wisconsin cheese, pour myself a nice heffeweissen, and call it a day.

Black and Blue & Busy All Over

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Busy times in the last little while. Lots of randomness and many life detours.

First, the reading. 

Raising Caine  Charles E Gannon. The third of three books in a series. The ending makes clear there will be more. (Not a cliffhanger. More like a traditional television season ending.)  Still enjoyable, but still very much hard SF.  This one read faster than the other two, as I’d reacquainted myself with the chewy, sticky style and started compensating.

A Scot In the Dark Sarah MacLean. Fluffy, fluffy historical romance. Some consent issues, unusual from this author.

Summer Is For Lovers Jennifer McQuiston. Quite fun. Took place in Brighton, which gets terribly neglected in most British historicals, it revolved around a swimming competition and had some interesting social commentary.

Jumper’s Hope Carol Van Natta. Special mention for this one. I got a sneak peak at this upcoming SF novel as a beta reader.  It is a super-shiny awesome space opera, and it releases later this fall. If you want to catch up on the series first, click the author’s name above to be magically transported to her web page.

Watching. The usual. Television and movies.

Supergirl. This one was hard to watch with Spouseman around, as he has zero tolerance for superpower tropes and stilted dialogue. I enjoy the heck out of it, so I chased the snarky comment generator off to play Elder Scrolls elsewhere. I gave up on Flash because TIME TRAVEL UGH, and on Green Arrow because ANGST UGH, but this series–season one, at least–is treading that fine path between camp silliness and serious dramatic development. All the recommends.

Trumbo. A movie about political fear-mongering and strife destroying lives?  Lots of resonance with current events, sadly.  Not an easy watch but an excellent one, and I can see why Bryan Cranston was nominated for an Oscar. He was brilliant.

Extraction. I had to bring it home. I will watch any Bruce Willis movie without shame. I will not pay to watch them, and this movie is a good example of why. It’s only been a week and I could not begin to tell you the plot. Generic action thriller. I think there was a kidnapping? And some villains. Not recommended.

Ghostbusters. The extended edition has MUCH MORE CHRIS HEMSWORTH DANCING. There were also a couple of scenes that make the continuity flow better. I can see why much of it was cut. The pacing for an action movie is so delicate. It would have been too long in the theater. At home on the couch? Delightful.

All the other random happenings.  I have to record them somewhere because I forget everything without written proof. 

  1. Found out I get to spend an arm and a leg getting rid of a tooth that wants to dissolve my jawbone. Thank heavens for installment plans. Oral surgery next week.
  2. Played human signpost for four hours in the freezing dark on a pumpkin walk. Loved every minute. (Pics at the end of the post)
  3. Got sick but got better, hurt myself doing everyday things but am healing okay, maintaining nominal function in all limbs and organs.
  4. Renewed the website package for a year. Might be pointless, but as a good poet says, best to keep a window open. Some goodly people made a point of mentioning they understood and shared the frustration.  Others offered warm cuddlies and reviews. The last feather feather that tipped the scales: a video I’ll call  Benedict Cumberbatch Reads A Letter. Some NSFW language. Much inspiration.
  5. Finished the final revisions on Flight Plan’s second edition and got the new cover  back. Should have the ebook editions finished by the end of the week. Better four months late than never, right? RIGHT?! Right.
  6. Caught up on other writing obligations and stuffed a beta read into the work hours. SO WORTH IT. Always great when a work read is enjoyable too.
  7. Rediscovered the fun of beer breads. Banana beer bread. Savory cheese beer bread.  Chocolate chip zucchini beer bread. Lots of tastiness.
  8. Scheduled fall yard cleanup with the landscape crew who do my heavy lifting these days. (see point 3 for why I’m not doing it for myself.)  If you want two yucca plants or three Rose of Sharon saplings, mine are free to good homes until Nov 15, and then they’re gone-gone-gone.
  9. Took a city day trip for the first time in ages. Visited the Shedd Aquarium (for the first time in ages.)

The pumpkins from the Night of 1000 Jack O’ Lanterns event were gorgeous, so I’m sharing a few even though my photography is not so good.

And I’m showing off my new book cover. Thanks to Nicole Grandinetti for taking my odd ideas and bad pics and fusing them into shininess. flight-plan-hi-res2

And penguins for no reason. (They’re molting, thus the cloaks and mohawks)

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