Latest in New House Adventures

crocus bud

I promised a more cheerful post. This is as close as it gets.

The header photo comes from my yard, where spring is springing on.  Happy little crocus flower, reminding me the world keeps turning and the best thing to do is keep on keeping on. (Which for a crocus means fighting frost and dodging bunny teeth. In my case it means practicing kindness, taking ALL the precautions, & looking for new ways to help others.)

Working on fiction is hard when the real timeline is doing the whole “truth stranger than fiction” thing. Not much to share on that front.

But!  There was progress on the basement renovation before things slowed to a cautious COVID-19 related crawl. Let’s peek in on that, shall we?

First, the whatnot room. I don’t have “before” pics of this zone from the real estate listing or from move-in. It’s hard to take a good pic of an unlighted room filled with paint-splashed chunky workbenches, low-hanging pipery, gnarly wiring, and beadboard walls enclosing some sealed plumbing leftover from a 1930’s vintage throne-style toilet.

Yeah. So the first image I had of this area was taken after extensive demo & cleanup, and it was none too appealing even then.

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And now

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Look, new floors! And lighting!

The window has a deep frame just begging me to put plants there, and there are LIGHTS, and VENTILATION, and in the background on the right? That’s going to be a half bath soon. We’ll go from 1 toilet to 3 when it’s complete, and let me tell you, I am giddy about that.

See, the 1st floor bathroom has also been out of commission during the construction–to get the drains & pipes upgraded. Well worth it, and I don’t regret the decision, but…um…let’s just say that now that Spouseman & I are both home all day long every day, I am really looking forward to having multiple toilets again.

Anyway. Onward to the mechanicals area.

This was another hard zone to get “before” pics of, due to lack of lighting and general ick factor. Now it’s all brightly lit and open, with a window that works, and an upgraded circuit breaker box behind that swank wood panel.  Washer & dryer are scheduled to arrive Tuesday, so I’m hoping things stay below the Dire Catastrophe level & delivery goes as planned.

(Small digression to point out this hope is grounded in wanting PEOPLE TO NOT BE DYING, not about me not being inconvenienced by a deadly fucking pandemic. Does that sound grumpy? Well, I might be a little bit raw from CONSTANTLY seeing my name associated with a zillion tweets & memes about being insensitive, selfish, pushy, whiny, entitled, tone-deaf, arrogant, clueless, nasty, and generally awful. Maybe. But I’ll rant about that in another post. THIS MY HAPPY POST.)

ANYway. Back from digression to take a look at the main hall. The part of the basement people see first, coming downstairs. It kinda sets the whole tone.

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Yeah. That sets a tone.
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Now. Lights! Doors! Window frames!

The floors here are under protective covers right now while the trim & moldings go in, but it’s fresh & bright and so easy to see how comfy & cozy it will be when it’s done.

And it SMELLS good. (happy, happy sigh.)

Okay. that’s more than enough for one update. As usual, I’m now questioning whether I should even post it, (see above re:self-doubts on the topics of selfishness & tone-deaf bragging etc)  But I AM gonna post it, and here’s why: when I get scared & overwhelmed, being reminded of good things happening anywhere lifts my spirits.

Things are hard right now for so many people, in so many ways, and this a big happy in my life. So if even one other person feels the way I do about collecting other-happies, that makes sharing (inflicting?) this on the world worthwhile. Right?

I’ll just have to hope so.

Until later, friends.

Writer Reading Report: January-March 2020

I’ve read over 20 new books and done a couple dozen re-reads since the first of the year. I’ve also watched plenty of shows & movies, but not as many as I would have done in the same time period last year. One nice thing about the new house is that we cut the cable cord, so turning on the TV is an Intentional Act, not a default activity.

Writing is now the default activity. Go, wording!

Well. To be strictly accurate, Writing is now among my many default activities. Writing & working on table & bling ideas for Gen Con, & hammering away at the intractable Series Title Problem, &planting things, & baking, &…my days are not empty.

Anyway. I’m going to do my usual thing & summarize things more by author than title. No pretty pictures because I am The Laziest Ever. Also they were mostly library books read on ebook, & those don’t get pretty color cover pictures.

First I did a comprehensive chronological re-read of ALL the Liaden Universe books by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. I then bought all the Constellation short work collections. A new book came out while I was finishing those, so I  read it too. I love these characters, I love the universe, and I love where the plots are headed.

A review of one of my books complimented my writing by comparing it to theirs. That remains one of my all-time favorite reviews.

Next up in reading: Hunter, Elite, & Apex by Mercedes Lackey, a tidy series I somehow entirely missed when published, because I always want to read All the Lackey. Neat spin on the usual post-apocalyptic dystopian  thing, (add magic, plus it’s not a totally horrible All Guvmint Bad kind of place) And the young protagonist is competent all by herself because it’s what she does, not because daddy wanted a boy or to heal trauma or For Boyfriend…I do adore no-excuses competent heroines.

I got Peace Talks by Jim Butcher & Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs through NetGalley. Those two are both Advanced Reading Copies of novels due out later this year, and I very much enjoyed them both.

I read a Regency in there somewhere…ah! Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries. An unexpected delight. I guess I still love my fantasy romances if they have loads of good dialogue and comedy of manners elements.

And currently I’m on a YA/Middle Grade kick. They’re mostly (all?) books written long after I was an adult, but I decided to tackle them just because. So I’ve finally read a bunch of Gail Carson Levine books. (And obviously I enjoy them or else I wouldn’t keep reading.)  So far, it’s been Ella, Enchanted, Fairest, A Tale of Two Castles, Stolen Magic…I think that’s all so far. I’m on a waitlist for more. I did read a couple in paperback, but it was a painful slog compared to reading onscreen.

I’m 3/4 of the way through Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce, loving every sentence.  I need to go put myself on the waitlist for All The Tamora Pierce books through the library’s digital loan program. And I suspect I’ll need to own them all in the end, though.

In summary : I recommend without reservation all the books I’ve mentioned here–except the NetGalley titles. I do recommend the series they come from, but…BUT.  The Harry Dresden & Mercy Thompson series are both clocking in at  10+ books. Despite great efforts by the authors to keep references to past events understandable and relevant, the weight of continuing plot is a tangible force in almost every scene. Someone could jump in, but it won’t be nearly as much fun as starting at the beginning.

That’s all for now. If I keep up with writing and reading the way I aim to do, the next reading report won’t be quite so LOOOOONG.

Until later, world.

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Daily Life, Fairy-Tale Style

First, a funny meme:

ADHD cleaning

Point-to-point distraction is a huge problem when I start life chores, but guess what?

I KNOW THE SUPER-SEKRIT WINNING STRATEGY to overcoming it, thanks to my unprofessional, unscientific, non-analytic studies on the subject. And because I’m so generous, Imma share it with you today.

Here it is: life is a series of fetch quests.

Once you know that, you know the third task past the first is a trap, and you can avoid it.

How can I say this with such confident certainty? Well. Thank my parents for giving me so many fairy tales wherein the protagonist had to quest for item after item, then wind back through a long line of exchanges to the beginning to get their prize.

There is always a turning point several quests into the journey. ALWAYS.

If you want to reach your day’s happy ending, turn back at the fourth victory and begin tracking back to the original quest. Otherwise you are DOOMED.

I’m not saying that’s easy. Simple things rarely are.

(I know it isn’t always the fourth quest in the classics — but three-plus-one is a powerful number, and I did mention this being unscientific, right? Right. So. Back to the POINT.)

The fetch-quest model works (for me) because it puts adrenaline-craving and competitiveness into harness together. When aimed at a shared goal, they’re strong enough to haul my interest-motivated ass away from all the shiny things and drag me down the road to home. YMMV, but never underestimate the power of WINNING.

Once I complete the work that earns me a gem from the Goblin King, I know to decline the promise of riches for the easy follow-up task they offer. That quest will surely lead to my destruction, and I ALREADY HAVE AN IN-GAME TROPHY TO COLLECT!

So I refuse the Goblin King’s tempting reward, turn back and retrace my steps to the dragon’s lair, give him the gem in trade for the scale I will use to pay the wizard for the spell that releases the cursed bird from its cage so she can sing the song that releases my love from their enchanted sleep…

…or toss the freaking pens, take the list to the store for detergent, REFUSE TO BE SIDETRACKED INTO FIFTEEN OTHER ERRANDS, and come home to start the damned laundry.

Whichever. Point is, never ever take that fifth fetch quest. Eyes on the shiny, shiny prize.

The struggle is real.

That’s it in random observations for now. Until later!

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We’re off on another quest!
Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay