It isn’t Caturday quite yet…

…but I have an old cat acting like an adorable clingy kitten. Have a few pics of Scooter being his fluffy, bony self in various spots around my work zone all day.

Writing again

Things: Return of the Sun Edition

Home Stuff

The temps fell below zero Fahrenheit three times in ten days. Kitchens are easy places to keep warm if you’re using the stove. Plus holidays and food mix well.

Side note: nothing warms the house like the incineration process of a “self-cleaning” oven, but the marketing label is a foul lie. (shocker, right?) The oven does not rid itself of the ashy corpses of all that accumulated grease. I had to wipe down the interior myself.

Clean oven was used to cook all kinds o’things.

  • Casseroles. (Salsa chicken, sausage & tater, and a thing I made from leftover restaurant baked ziti, lotz moar cheez and Extra Spices.)
  • Cookies. (Swedish butter cookies, chocolate-chip caramel-chip, oatmeal-cherry, and brown sugar brittle. There will be Christmas sugar cutout cookies, but I will do that next weekend.)
  • Apples. (some baked plain, and I made what I call faux apple pudding, which is a couple of apples peeled/sliced/cored and a couple of stale apple doughnuts pulled apart. Pieces tossed together with cinnamon sugar, smooshed into a greased baking dish and cooked for at least an hour at 325 degrees. Me, I bake longer, cool, and re-warm it for max deliciousness.)

I perfected my no-recipe  “I’d rather sit in front of the TV than use the food processor” goat cheese dip. Start with a few heaping spoonfuls of plain greek yogurt,  one log of goat cheese, and a few shakes of feta. Let it all soften to room temp. Add at least a teaspoon each of onion powder, dill, thyme, parsley, oregano (all powdered as much as I can using the mortar and pestle of palm &  fingers). Put on a video and watch while applying fork to mixture with enthusiasm until it’s all blended. (Or, you know, use the food processor. Mine is currently awaiting a new blade. Cuisinart. Recall. Google it.)

And then there was snow. I love playing in the snow shoveling the driveway, and that’s a good thing since we have nearly 100 feet of drive. I have requirements.  One, no deadline. Time pressure ruins the fun, and also, I’m slooooooow. Two,  I need good tunes on the headphones. Three, it’s good to have someone with upper body strength to help with the snowplow shit at the street end.


I know, this is the non-writing post, but I’ve written three full scenes. That’s mega-huge progress for me these days so I’m all puffed up with my piddly accomplishments. I also wrote one of those scenes twice because the POV didn’t work for Alpha Reader the first time, so it’s even more writing than it sounds. No, I’m not dropping word count numbers.


Only two this round. In my defense, they were both Massive Mountains of Prose. At the Sign Of Triumph, and Shadows of Victory, both by David Weber. Safehold series and Honorverse series, respectively. Speaking of respect, while I have the utmost admiration for Mr Weber’s formidable writing skills, I can’t recommend these.  (Both books are on bestseller lists and deservedly so. They were enjoyable. I simply can’t recommend them.)

I won’t dis them the way some reviewers have. They’re ambitious in scope and sweeping in scope, and juggling their casts alone would give me migraines. They are amazing works of story thread-weaving, but there are just so many damned threads. I prefer smaller, tighter stories. Not as truncated and single-track as the plots in the Young Honor series, but something a little less sprawling, yes, please. Three good points:

  1. they’re both bridge books that wrap up a of plot sprawliness and sidelines
  2. Both end with hints of a tighter focus in the next installment.
  3. ONLY ONE MULTI-CHAPTER SPACE BATTLE in the Honorverse novel!!!

I took to reading each “conversation between talking heads” scene the way I browse technical articles for specific data: read first para of a section in depth, wade swiftly through the cluttered verbiage required to meet the “state the premise, build a case, refute the case on points, refute the refutations, re-state the points, restate the premise, declare the conclusion” standard of academic writing in search of critical keywords, settle in for the last few paras of wrap-up.

But it was still slow going. Satisfying in the end, but it tired my brain out.


Game of Thrones Season 6. My favorite line ever. “That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.” This would be my house motto, and everyone would know I meant tea, not wine.

Penny Dreadful season 3. (sob) So much creepy, moody beautifulness.

NCIS. First season I can remember disliking most episodes. I was happy to see DiNozzo leave,  but it looks like the writers left with him. Not a one of the new agents has lines worth reading and I’m not sure most of them know how to handle good lines if they got any. Hard to say. The regulars also sound out of character or fall flat half the time too. Sad.


I must have watched one or two DVDs or streaming, but if I can’t remember them, they must not be worth mentioning.

Spouseman and I will  go to see Rogue One, but I’m not sure when.  Opening weekend was too busy with writing, baking, shoveling and hiding from people and the cold to get out. Besides, I didn’t see the first trilogy (Eps 4-6) on opening weekends either. Lots of people didn’t do that in the seventies and eighties. So it’s like a tradition.

And that’s a wrap. Blessed Yule, Festive Festivus, Bright Hannukah, and Happy Birthday, Jesus.

Next week, there will NOT be resolutions, but there might be things.


Pets Are Better Than Pie

Social media. The interwebs have been wild recently, with global events and local sparking flurries of response, tragedies personal and political flying every which way. The news winds carried as much fiction as fact, with narratives true and false woven so tightly not even fact-checking sites that excel in unraveling legends could pick them apart. They couldn’t even keep up for a while.

Everyone loves a good story, but real life doesn’t happen with once upon a time or happily ever after.  Every event has a backstory, every hero and villain an origin tale, but nothing in the world is as tidy or as harmonious as the heart wants it to be. So we latch onto stories, any stories, that vindicate or validate or merely resonate with the narratives we know.

We want stories. Tragedies. We need stories with happy endings.

What does this have to do with my title? Well. Before all this blew up I was pondering why some of my posts explode in popularity and some wither in obscurity. To me they’re all equally fascinating topics. But pie? Pie makes people happy, elicits discussion, and promotes sharing. Cat pictures, even more so. Big concepts may spark conversation, but pie and pets start a party. Now I’m thinking there’s more to it than simply universal appeal of cute animals and food. Or, rather, that those things are more important than I’ve understood.

There’s a reason people bring food to the grieving.  There is value in the familiar and the earth-rooted, and comfort in reminders of life. Compassion fatigue is a real and dangerous problem because it leads to turning away, rejecting, forgetting the things that cause pain. So maybe it’s okay to take a breather, to sit with the puppies and kittens and have a cookie.  Maybe it’s okay that people only pay attention to me when I bring them things that give them shelter in the storm of their days.

Healing hearts so they don’t break.  I’m okay if that’s all I do.

Time: 9:45 AM
Tea: All-India blend. My usual second cup.
Steeped: 7 minutes…ish.


Happy All Hallow’s Eve

and also this:

Writing again

Some Days Are Sleepy

Some mornings have dreams that suck me into them so deeply that I hate to leave them behind.  On the morning that this dream hit, I kept rolling over and closing my eyes again.

This one started with a new area, much like US Route 14 in Palatine, IL, but all in dark grays and overcast and gothic buildings with much narrower streets. My Dream Companion and I were students and living there and trying to run away from something, so we went into a tavern there, where we met and talked with two priests, one of whom had an amazing resemblance to Karl Malden.
We had to leave, and we were running through the rain with our dogs (did I mention that we each had a big dog?) and then there was a crash in the bedroom as the blind rail fell off, and I woke up. Grrr.

I went back to sleep, and fell into a relatively new part of my dreamlands, with a house much like mine, but somehow larger on the inside, with a huge yard and grass like the family cottage up north, lots of trees and some landscaping I’ve done in previous dreams. Same neighbors too, at least in this dream.

My dream family, a large, extended one that I don’t really have, is part of the aristocracy but very, very poor (due to backstabbing political betrayal) and have been working hard to hide it for decades, much to the frustration of our foes. One sibling is long gone in trade, others are keeping up the facade, and it’s my chore to upkeep the house and make it look livable even though it’s not. 
Family comes by to get things out of storage for a big trip to where we can regain our proper place, (I think it involves space travel but can’t be certain) I think meeting the long-departed sibling was part of the plan, but in any case I was to be left behind again. Then a HUGE storm came, and I had to drag Bruce the Cat (who died years ago, BTW)  out of the backyard into his porch (a much bigger porch than we really have, one with complicated doors) and we were trapped there for some time by the rain and lightning, until one of the people from the packing group comes and helps me back inside, and then Paul’s alarm went off and I woke up again.

Rolled over. Closed eyes.

 Returned to the dream, and I’m finally allowed to to leave the house and go to school, where there is a boring lecture going on, but then questions are asked about complex rank issues and politics, and I get involved in a very catty vicious conversation with several peers, and the professor keeps me after class, where I defend my actions, and she turns out to be an ally.
We make some plans to get me settled and protected, which involves a visit to a strange man with an amazing resemblance to Roy Scheider, who lives in a weird underground place a bit like the original House on the Rock. He seems to be an ex-adventurer of some kind, retired and in seclusion, but my professor convinces him to assist. I demand money and support and am provided with same, along with a shower and bath on the first working bathroom I’ve seen in ages (what with the house falling apart ad all) and that’s where I wake up for the last time and decide a real shower would be lovely since it’s  long past time to get up.

It’s nice when my dreams stay sequential enough to explain in detail, even when explanations never quite capture the feel.