The latest in thinks

I hear an author blog is s’posed to be an Authentic but Also Curated Internet Presence, topical, focused, even in tone and always showcasing the author’s brand.

I…uh…problem is, authentic me is a bit flaky on the outside, thick and juicy once I get going, sometimes salty, sometimes sweet, relentless and omnivorous in my research & reading interests but unfocused in same, opinionated and cranky. It’s impossible to tell whether I’ll feel like writing a until I dig into it. And some posts are both. Hm. I think my brand is “pie.”

2. True story: my brain is weird,

The weirdnesses run in my family, so because of that, I didn’t know I wasn’t “normal” until I went out & about in the world in my teens and later. Some examples:

From the time I could tell time & read, I was given a reading light, lots of books, and tacit permission to do whatever I wanted all night long as I stayed in my room and was quiet enough not to get caught. Quelle surprise to me that other people slept all night EVERY night, not just some nights.

It turns out most people’s parents did not read bedtime stories backwards as well as forwards. Or make games out of recognizing full words and phrase rather than alphabet letters. Or encourage little kids to memorize long passages of text. My dyslexic dad did all those things.

Things I learned from classmates: other people did not go outside and play (read: burn off energy running around) BEFORE doing homework. or again afterwards, after dinner, as a reward for sitting still. The concept of napping after a meal remains alien to me to this day.

I was taught from forever how to set up my personal spaces and daily routines to counteract an innate inability to find anything stored inside another thing. Dressers and desks are like magic disappearing devices. I have solid “put it where it goes” habits, EVERYTHING I OWN has a specific home, and all important items are stored in full view. Wall hooks, open shelves, and nothing layered inside shelves.

3. this week’s grouchy voting rant.

I do not care if you hate the system or hate Joe Biden because he’s a rapist or too moderate or too progressive OR you feel your vote doesn’t matter OR you want things to change some other way. I don’t care.

Look. I don’t do hyperbole here. I wrote a whole scifi series set in a United States that collapsed like a socio-political soufflé, deflating into death one crisis after another, and I did a LOT of research into trends and danger signs and what makes good countries go bad…

and I gotta say I am pretty pissed off to be watching it happen in real time. I keep hoping we will step back from the precipice, but we are already witnessing–and too many of us are enduring–civil warfare at the local & state level while our national leaders publicly flout the rule of law, gloat about it, and bring down the full force of those same laws on everyone they dislike, guilty or no. Oh, and then there’s the climate collapse & the virus disaster and-and-and UGH.

If you think not voting means you don’t have skin in the game, you are so, so very wrong. That isn’t how civics works. SOMEONE gets into every office. Not voting only guarantees that you’re stuck with someone else’s choice. And the fewer people who vote, the more likely an extremist will get in and do things you don’t like. At. Every. Level. This is how Home Owners Associations go bad. This is how bad people become mayors who give their buddies big pensions. This is how creeps voted up through the ranks into the Senate.

“IT DOESN’T MATTER/IT DOESN’T AFFECT ME” IS HOW WE GOT HERE, careening through history into a future I have really, really fought hard to prevent.

4. Once more thing.

Not to end on a brooding grouch, here’s a recipe for fresh pickling solution that works with a wide variety of veggies. I went to a lot of trouble to make sure if was reproducible using measuring tools I’ve been winging it for literal decades without any, basically doing it to taste to fit whatever size receptacle I had. The below proportions work.

  • 1 c vinegar
  • 1 c hot water
  • 1/2 c sugar or sweetener
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • dealers choice of aromatics. I like to slice in a yellow onion, maybe some fresh seeded jalapenos, a few peppercorns. Garlic clove & dill leaf or seed are a popular choices, but I don’t like it. YMMV, whatevs.

That’s it. Mix up until everything dissolvable has dissolved, then pour over sliced or small veggies in a container you can refrigerate. If you use plastic, be warned it will take on the scent of the vinegar & veggies inside.

And that is that all there is to read from me until later. Unless you want to go out & buy my books, insist all your friends buy them too so you can enthuse about them together, and then write reviews all over the internet. In which case, you have lots more fun ahead of you.

No? Okay, then. Until next blog!

Squirrel gardening: a tale of time lost

This is a thing I’m writing while most of my brain is occupied with uncooperative idea pieces I need to weave into a different post.

It’s a story about a day earlier this spring when I had two simple activities planned. One: salvage vintage hardware from three, nasty old interior doors that were cluttering up my screen porch, so I could toss the panels into the trash. Two: plant some flower bulbs I’d purchased.

Here’s how that went. <cue Law & Order sound effects>

First I put on my headset and started my music. That part will be important later, so make a note of it. See, my endurance is about two hours, but once I get going on…well, anything… it’s easy to ignore the passage of time, data from senses not directly engaged in the task, and yes, even pain. And if I push past three hours of physical labor, I’m physically wrecked for a couple of days.

I lean on audio input as an attention filter, so my solution is a 2-hour playlist with a short catchy jingle that repeats at half-hour intervals and plays 4 times at the end to assist in breaking hyper-focus. It isn’t perfect, but it works better than an alarm I can turn off without ever noticing. If nothing else, the silence eventually nudges me back to reality.

So. Out I went, rocking my tunes, tools at the ready.

The door part went as well as I could hope. Doors were wrestled out of their winter storage corner in The Screen House, bashed with hammers, scraped with razor blades and liberated from four generations of screws by four different screwdrivers. All manner of knobs, screws, backplates, and hinges were collected into bags for unspecified future crafting project fun.

I brought in the hardware, announced victory to Spouseman (working from home) then went out the front door to check the dirt in the front yard. The clay was soft enough for digging & also a flower was blooming! I pulled out the phone & went down on one knee to immortalize the momentous occasion. Then remembered I was wearing new jeans & would get filthy dirty planting bulbs. Time to go inside & change into old clothes from the wash basket.

Outside again, retrieved shovel & gloves & digger tool from the garage, can’t find bulbs. Moment of doubt. Did I buy them or just consider doing so? (This happens.)

Wait. I have the receipt on my phone. YES. I bought bulbs.

Went to the back door so I could to go inside and find Spouseman, who might remember where I put the bulbs. Multi-tasking win, right?  I could also ask where he thinks the bulbs should go.

Except the back door was locked. And the keys were in the pocket of the jeans I took off.

I went around to the front door. Removed dirty shoes to go through the house to the office at the back. Minor win, on the way, I remembered where the bulbs were & consulted with Spouseman anyway to discuss placement.

Back on track. Outside again. Dug into the untouched flower bed against the back of the house. Hit root. Not unexpected; upon moving in, we removed three large suckering trees that had been unwisely allowed to grow RIGHT UP AGAINST THE HOUSE. The stumps are too close to the foundation to grind down, and the stump-killer didn’t actually soften things, just killed them.

So I tried a new spot. Dug in. Hit root again. Moved to a different section. Shoveled. HIT BIGGEST ROOT YET. Muttered expletives, went back to the garage in search of loppers and pruning saw to aid in the digging process.

Loppers and pruning saw are both MIA. A bunch of gardening stuff went into The Screen House in the fall. Search for loppers & saw continued in new location for some time.

You may think the whole planting plan was well off the rails at this point, but no. THIS was where everything really went over the precipice into the Chasm Of Distraction.

A LOT of Things went into the screen house in the fall. More was added when the basement had to be emptied for renovations. Here’s an incomplete list: sofa, loveseat, folding picnic table plus benches, multiple coolers, metal trash can, multiple 5 gallon buckets of gardening tools, all the yard ornaments and solar lights, three vintage wood panel interior doors in various stages of disrepair, and sundry other bits of flotsam & jetsam.

I’d braved the clutter zone earlier when I moved the doors, but that was early on, when I could still power through the Valley of Temptation by using the “Ignore All The Things, Stay On Task, Stay On Target,” mantra.

Concentration failed this time. I just HAD to move the couches. And then organize the garden tools. And put out the bird feeders. And place the bird bath. And…and…and…

Three hours later, the screen house was cleared, organized & swept, ready to enjoy, the loppers and sundry other tools had all been located and given summer housing, the gardening-related shelves in the garage were clean, and I’d found the seed packets I bought way back in January & promptly lost…along with the loppers I’d originally wanted.

But the bulbs were still in their bags. And the music was over.

(I told you the music would come up again.)

I had no business opening up those bulb packages & seeds, or spending another hour or two digging & planting. I should’ve gone inside & washed up. But I didn’t, because I really am a squirrel sometimes, and there were holes still to be dug!

Yeah. I did use the big shovel and the loppers instead of the little digger tool I usually use for planting. And yeah, I was wrecked by the time I finished, but it also started raining as I was wrapping up, which is kinda like the universe saying, “Good job, you did a right thing.” All in all, it was worth the aches & pains.

And there it is. That’s my tale.

Eventually I will write about the Black Lives Matter rally I attended yesterday. That’s what I originally sat down to write today, but it was not to be. Every sentence was gibberish. See, sometimes my thoughts and feelings are so big and so knotty I need more time and better tools to cut them into wordable forms.

What I’ll do is keep writing other little posts while my squirrel brain hunts around for its figurative loppers. But make no mistake, I never stop thinking about the important stuff.

Until later!

Writer Reading Report: No Longer On Hiatus

I read a lot.  I have Opinions. Why haven’t I been sharing?

Therein lies a tale.

Here’s the story of why I haven’t been inflicting my reading list or any other media adventures on people for…about a year now? Yeah.

I stopped doing it when the sharing started hurting. That happened after I received one too many remarks meant (I think, in retrospect) as compliments. Things like “I could never read that much/you are always reading/how can you get anything else done/So many? I’m lucky I read a book a year/ how do you find the time?” Etc, etc.

I find admiration and envy difficult to parse through. A lot of it comes down to tone, and when I even suspect I’ve made someone else feel inadequate or envious, I have an unavoidable reaction.

I stop doing it. Sometimes forever.

Yeah. I know. Not rational, not proportional, but also…not negotiable.

I was taught many lessons at a young age about the awfulness of flaunting, bragging, or acting superior. So when I get a sense that anyone thinks I’m being a self-absorbed egotistical, conceited asshole about (whatever it is) I feel like I’ve been kicked in the gut. Or the head. Or both.

It really, physically hurts.  And every time I think about the activity, it hurts just as badly, all over again. If I shut up and go away & don’t DO whatever-it-is, it stops hurting.

So. That’s why posts about Stuff I do when I’m not writing comes and goes in fits & starts, and why one of my original blog staples — lists of tedious daily life accomplishments–rarely get posted at all now.  (It was making someone feel guilty about not getting as much done, and that sucked all the joy out of it.)

So far, people still universally like hearing about the new house & baking things. That’s why those topics have taken over the blog.

Here’s a happy new twist.

Not-so-long ago I learned that not everyone processes idle remarks as kick- in- the- gut personal condemnations. My kind of reaction to perceived negative feedback is called “rejection sensitivity dysphoria,” and it skips along hand-in-hand with sky-high energy levels, an interest-based attention span, and sensory sensitivities. It’s a real thing.

It isn’t me being thin-skinned, overreacting or childish, it’s just wiring at work.

IT’S SO FUN TO BE ME.

(another fun fact: pair up boundless physical energy with chronic pain/fatigue and you get a result that looks like perfectly normal from average viewing distance! It’s nothing like normal from the inside, where I can feel exhausted even while doing a lot and hurt all the time but can neglect self care because (squirrel!) means I forget to notice. The pairing goes a long way towards explaining how I’ve flown under the diagnostic radar all these years.)

BUT I DIGRESS. As fucking usual.

ANYway. It’s been long enough that the achy, scrapey bruised pain about reading lists has dulled to a bearable level, and also I want to use this new self-awareness of my reactions to break free of the rejection cycle in the future.

So I’ll be giving it yet another try.  Next post, I’ll catch up on What I’ve Been Reading Since New Year. It’ll be synopsis edition, but IT WILL HAPPEN.

Until later!

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Prickles up, ready to face the world. (image: pixabay.com)