Categories
3. Other Things Authoring Writing Life

Time for an update post

It’s a gray achy kind of day, weather-wise, and a grey foggy day, brainwise, but I have taken a dose of my fancy ibuprofen+acetaminophen OTC pills (they are magic, btw, better even than prescription naproxen) and I am doing things I can get done instead of gnawing at myself over things I am not doing.

That’s the idea, anyhow.

I knew I would be wiped today after a yesterday that started 2 hours earlier than usual. It was worth losing sleep to accompany Spouseman to a car maintenance appointment & walk home w/him afterwards, but adding to an already-long ‘brar day had me dragging by the end. That’s on top of the way this week’s “Chill Drear to Sunny & Back Again” rollercoaster weather is kicking my ass.

So far so good. I got up earlier than I planned–7:30 according to my body, 8:30 according to the semi-annual clock fuckery–but it was a “I feel rested & awake & have Things to do” kind of wakeup, not the ass-dragging kind.

AND I have crossed off all but one thing I hoped to achieve. Granted, it was a short list. Laundry, Chili, Spread Clover Seed. And I don’t want to start the chili until closer to supper time. But it still feels good.

Getting in a blog post, too? EXTRA BONUS ACHIEVEMENT.

To-Do Lists are wonderful organizing tools, but days like today are why I rarely make “normal” ones with assigned priorities & firm timelines. That would be setting myself up to fail, given my inconsistent energy level & focus. Instead, I just list All The Things & then pick my way through them like it’s a smorgabord.

This week I evidently have an appetite for tactile, physical tasks. Writing has happened, as it often does when I stop putting pressure on myself, but I’m mainly indulging in Hand-intensive activities. Fingertip splits are making typing an annoyance, but otherwise my hands are staying in pretty good shape.

And wet weather sucks for me, but the garden loves it. Rainy days are good planting days, actually, and I’ve been plugging through seasonally-sensitive but generally time-forgiving tasks.

Here’s a tidy summation of Various Things I’ve done in the last week:

  • spread lettuce seed in improvised cold frames (planters covered w/recycled plastic greehouse roofing)
  • took down old, broken yard lights
  • stow the last of the holiday lights
  • reset bird feeders
  • removed squirrel-guard wire toppers off the bulb plantings
  • cleared all the herb beds are clear
  • overseeded front & back lawn w/a red clover and grass mix. (today!)

And now I can make new lists, all about starting seedlings, shopping for patio furniture & a pergola, researching low-decibel leaf blowers, and dreaming about MOAR PRAIRIE PERENNIALS.

Inside things I’m working on:

Restocking things I have to order online, like tea & replacement storage container lids.

Baking: I’ve already done biscotti & banana muffins this week. Apple crisp might get made tonight, depending on energy level. Otherwise tomorrow.

And adding things to grocery lists for curbside pickup to minimize in-person shopping. Because yes, I’m still minimizing in-person shopping & yes, I’m still masking in public spaces, including my workplace. (The one exception being a (VERY) few restaurants w/excellent ventilation & mitigations where I’ll unmask to enjoy a meal w/a trusted friends.)

Yeah, I’m vaxxed & boosted. But I also know how to calculate risk. If and/or when the local case count & positivity rates drop below the thresholds we hit last June, I’ll enjoy wandering around stores unmasked like I did last June. But we aren’t there.

Until then, I’ll just keep making that extra set of lists.

That’s enough blathering for one post. Have a photo of Pippin being angry I emptied the humidifier in my office.

Until later!

Categories
Media Consumption Writing Life

After-Capricon post

Yesterday morning Spouseman gave me a cheery “You’re up early!” for getting my ass out of bed before 10 AM.

For context, I usually wake up 7:30ish this time of year. I often go back to bed to snuggle for an hour or two, but I wake up within an hour of sunrise when I’m healthy. (Even with blackout curtains.)

Except after cons. Sometimes I’m in bed as late as 11AM for a day or two or three after getting home.

And I usually get 7+ hours of sleep per 24, but I am rarely in BED for more than 6 hours at a stretch because my joints hate me lying still.

Except after cons. I’m in bed as much as 10 hours the day after a con.

Two data points. It’s officially a trend, right?

My brain pretty much shuts down for a reset after leaving high-interaction events. Unless I crash a few hours before leaving. That’s a simmering hot stew of awkwardness when it happens, so I try VERY hard to avoid it. I was home, unpacked & washed up after Cap before I crashed hard with a cat purring on my lap. Good times.

I had a fabulous time at Capricon this year. It’s always a great convention, but this time was extra-special because, well <waves vaguely> YOU know. Things. I had the most panels I’ve done at a con ever, and I enjoyed every one of them, despite 3 of them being in a room with a CAMERA POINTED AT ME.

And I moderated three panels (two in the Camera Room Of Doom, one in a room without microphones because tech difficulties) and I only screwed up a few times in each panel, so big yay and confetti and buckets of self-congratulatory happiness right there.

The Dealer Room was like a bookstore smorgasbord, books were sold, things were bought, plans were made, and fun was had. Evenings included hallway chats, hotel room haircuts, and late night conversations.

New friends were made (I think, I hope) and I enjoyed getting to reconnect with old friends too! (although not NEARLY as much as I wanted. Sorry to alla y’all who only got bits & pieces of my time, my energy was low & I had roommates & I didn’t feel comfortable crossing the streams or mixing up groups and, well. Anyway.)

Some of us should get together soon, masked & safe indoors. That’s all I’m saying. Soon.

Now the con is somehow a week in the past, Thursday is over, (it’s technically Friday morning wee hours tbh) and my biggest accomplishments since getting home have been…hm. Unimpressive:

  • laundry! Yes, it deserves the exclamation mark
  • dusted my home desk
  • dusted my work desk & did sundry library tasks over 2 shifts
  • put away con stuff, updating inventory & sales records
  • brushed the cat two days in a row (he forgave me both times)
  • reread 2 romance novels, ignoring the stack of lovely new books I really do want to read
  • surfed on Twitter & Facebook more than I’d like
  • played a lot of Absurdle
  • filled out a Con Feedback survey, gushed about my fellow panelists & praised other moderators
  • watched episodes of 2 TV shows and 2 movies (finished Stranger Things rewatch, started Mythic Quest, big thumbs up, sat through Free Guy & Venom: Let There Be Carnage, meh x2)
  • booked 2 hotel rooms & 1 plane flight for 2 separate future events. This involved multiple conversations, negotiations, and consultations over a couple of days.
  • read one whole chapter in the nonfiction book I’m trying to chew through. Stolen Focus. There’s irony to be found in my inability to concentrate on a book about all the ways modern systems demolish our attention spans, but I’m not appreciating it.
  • cooked a spicy chicken casserole from scratch. Well. From a boxed rice dish plus leftover rice from Chinese takeout, and various other add-ins. So, kinda like Stone Casserole instead of Stone Soup?
  • sliced up a cucumber I’d forgotten was in the fridge & set it to soak w/onions & brine for fridge pickles.
  • and wrote this blog post

It looks good written down, but hey, I’m a writer. I’m expected to make things looks good in words.

When measured against my days of otherwise unemployed time, the accomplishment level is…meager doings. George Carlin had a bi about stuff filling the space available. Tasks fill the time available, I guess.

Has it been restful? Oh, yes. And have I enjoyed myself? Mostly, when I’m not ambiguously frazzled, or second-guessing every recent interaction (at the con & since, online & off) and/or draaaagggggggggging myself through daily routines in pursuit of basics like personal hygiene.

It’s silly, all this listing I do, but it’s also soothing. In one sense it’s a long, wordy version of, “Look at me, I can do the bare minimum to survive!” And in the world I grew up in, making much of nothing is tacky, selfish attention-seeking nonsense.

But in another sense, these lists are the vital opposite of making much of nothing. They’re making much of things overlooked and undervalued. They’re balancing the meaningfulness scales.

I am proud of others when they do what I am doing, so it’s only fair I make note of the important basics too. Besides, even just thinking, LAUD ME, FOR I HAVE DONNED CLEAN CLOTHES & INGESTED SUSTENANCE! makes me smile, and smiles are always good.

So I shall feel proud of myself now that I’ve noted all I’ve done. I mean, I didn’t spend the WHOLE time surfing or reading articles about dairy cow milk production and teaching dogs to pull wagons. And I did get in a little good writing time. A teeny bit. But as the That Counts As Writing bot on Twitter points out out, it’s all progress.

So. Here we are, at the end of another meandering life post. That’s all there is to it. Except for a cat pic.

Until later!

Categories
2. Worldbuilding nuts & bolts Writing Life

Recent research topics

By recent I mean “today.” This is a glimpse of what goes through my brain on a daily basis

–> Identification of red foxes versus coyotes (foxes are not necessarily red but reliably have black legs and a bushy white-tipped L O N G tail held out from body, so what we saw trotting down the sidewalk at midday was probably the neighborhood fox, not the neighborhood coyote)

–> Followup topics: are red foxes native to North America or were they brought over from Europe? (Recent genetic research indicates the populations are all native, contradicting long-held assumptions about gentry colonists bringing them over for game hunting.) Do people still raise foxes for fur? (Ew, yes.) Can you own a fox as a pet in Illinois? (Not legally. Indiana, yes, though) Look at all these cute pet fox videos…

–> Both desiccate and siccate mean dry–why have two such similar words mean the same thing? I knew the answer but double-checked the etymology before responding to someone who asked this online. (They differ in degree. Siccate means dried like you dry off after a shower or hang out wet clothes. Desiccated is dry like beef jerky or a mummy. Latinate words & fun Latin prefixes!)

–>Looked up the location of Tonga on a full world map because news maps annoy me. Followed that by playing “name that European country” on world-geography-games.com, and also “name that African country. Did not do well on either one, but slightly better with Europe than Africa, no big shocker there.

–> What are marshmallows made of? Why are they called marshmallows? What’s the traditional use of mallow? How and where does it grow? Does the flower have a scent? Is it considered an herb? What’s the difference between an herb and a spice? History of spice trade. Origin of National Geographic magazine. (Yes, folks, this is how my brain bounces 24/7/365.)

I love the internet. Yes, Wikipedia, I often start there, but the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the USDA. The NCBI.NLM.NIH site. Archives galore. Social media is a hellish time suck, but the internet? The internet is fucking amazing. Maybe it makes my writing better? I don’t know. It makes the process fun & makes time fly, that’s for sure.

my research assistant

That’s all for now. Until later!

Categories
Writing Life

Weekend Update

Firstly.
Biscotti baking experiment was a success. (I’ve made biscotti dozens of times. Wearing gloves was the experimental part.) They were even better for working the super-sticky dough than I’d hoped. All my recipes that read “wet hands and keep hands wet while handling dough” should be updated to read “wear nitrile gloves.” Should. But won’t be, because I’m lazy.

Pic of biscotti in progress:

Secondus:
I got issued someone else’s dream Saturday night. I was at a banquet, seated at a table with only one other person — all the tables were small and widely spaced out, so I guess social distancing exists even in my subconscious–and there was a ribbon at my place setting, the kind that goes with an awards medal. My dinner companion was some guy whose children’s charity had Changed The World and when I was wondering about the medal ribbon, it turns out I was there because I’d won some award for making a video that made his charity super well known althrough I’d just made it for fun and hadn’t known what I was hyping. (Which is how I know it had to be someone else’s dream because WTAF?) Anyway, he told me about his organization, which I thought was awesome although I recall zip about it now, and we watched awards be given out by famous presenters like the Obamas and Captain Picard (Not Patrick Stewart, Jean-Luc) while people at neighboring tables were making fun of the liberals and aliens and I was wondering why they were even there if they didn’t like the awards, and then I woke up.

Thirdly:

Studio GhibliFest continued with Castle In the Sky & Nausicaa Of the Valley Of the Wind. I’d seen Nausicaa, but Paul had never seen either one. They were both wonderful and thought-provoking, and the musical scores were nostalgic trips down Electronica Lane. I was by the fox-squirrels and finally connected that long-ago viewing of Nausicaa to my unexplained love for Pokemon Eevees.\

Fourthish:

Saturday’s plans were disrupted by an impulsive drive up to the north shoe for bagels & corned beef and a good long garden walk before the ice came raining down. Lots o’ house-fussing followed. Winterdark decorations came down, and the living room couch sections were reconfigured (they are basically big, squishy, grownup Lego blocks.) Closets were cleaned, books went onto shelves, and rugs were moved around. All the changes delighted our Feline House Supervisor, who personally inspected and approved all new furniture arrangements.

FIFTH (my rant for the hour)
I am watching and enjoying one of my bad fictional crime shows (NCIS, in this case) tonight, but I am reminded how much I hate the “innocent people don’t run” trope. IT IS A DANGEROUS LIE AND I LOATHE IT. Grr. Innocent people run for a million innocent reasons.

I’m getting a kick out of NCIS’s increasingly progressive scriptwriting in general, and the plot spins up right by the end, but annoyingly, they double down on the “shouldn’t have run” thread before it’s over. UGH. That trope. Just Won’t DIE. Double Ugh.

SIXY:
I didn’t write yesterday or today, which means I am now 2 days behind and pushing up against a deadline, but I did do a lot of THINKING about writing, so I made progress just not on the page. IT’s been a long time since I was able to concentrate like that, so it feels good. Tomorrow is a wretchedly extra-busy day with long-delayed routine medical stuff (OH. JOY. Doctor visit during Plague Times) and extra library work, but

And I do not regret the non-writing adventures. They were wonderful recharging, restful, & energizing.

Okeedokee, that’s all for now. Until later!

Categories
Writing Life

Random brain bubbles

That would be another accurate title for this blog, huh? My sneaky plan to avoid getting caught in a sticky web of scrolling by writing posts here instead of onto social media–it’s working. I’ve clawed back HOURS of time by dropping every “Here be a funny/interesting/annoying thing” observation into a draft post instead of booting up a social media app that sucks me in.

I’ve forgotten to PUBLISH the drafts several times already, though. That is a strong indication my desire to share things is satisfied by writing them down. It also indicates I still suffer from some self-censoring problem of “but is that important enough to post?” avoidance.

Time to refine the strategy and formally assert that every few hundred words of something IS a post and publish it once any draft hits that goal. Which this one has! Here be 3 separate shortish snippets.

FIRSTEST.

I didn’t get around to doing biscotti yesterday. I wrote things and made BBQ baked beans + cornbread for oven exercise, but there was a LOT of laundry to slog through as well. Biscotti prep did happen–I diced TWO batches of dried fruit in the food processor, so there will be a bonus batch of cookies at some future date–but the main storyline got postponed in favor of several side-quests in the form of cabinet cleaning, drawer organizing, and a seasonal behind-a-the-things counter scrubbing. This is a typical chain of events for my kitchen adventures.

Cookie completion? Delayed. Sense of accomplishment? HUGE. I’ll take that trade-off.

SECONDEST.

“Chase Catmom” is currently First Among Favorites on the long list of Mister Pippin’s favorite games. It’s a recent spin on an earlier entertainment: Watch Mom Walk In Circles.

I pace around the basement at night when I’m feeling antsy but it’s too damned cold and icy outside to take a walk. (So, in my area, most of January.) The best spot for ‘taking a turn around the room,’ to use my Regency Romance phraseology, is a wide hallway about 25′ long, with a winding stair at one end and the game room at the other. If I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll open the cat gate to the gaming zone and add a circle around that to my route.

Pips always wants to be in the middle of any action, because CAT, and there are several excellent window wells and table perches. I get exercise, he gets cat TV.

A few days ago he leaped off the table and got underfoot when I turned at the game room end. There was much whuffling, many tail-flirts, and some foot dancing action. Never has there been a clearer invitation to play Chase.

“Seek & Pounce” being a critical element of the chase game, I hustled to the far end by the stair and hid around the corner. (I would say run, but it’s a wind-sprint distance, so I never get up to speed.)

Pips galloped along in my wake, mrrping excitedly the whole way, and he accepted pets and praise on arrival when he “found” me. Once I resumed my walking, Pips waited until I got halfway down the hall before charging up and past me in an obvious bid to do it all over again. So we did.

Best Game Ever.

He’ll sprint after me ten or twelve times before he’s thoroughly tuckered out. At the end of every lap he meows and chirrups and demands pets for his excellent conformation and speed. It’s adorable, and no, I am not doing video of it.

THIRDEST

Today in random investigations: Woodstock is much more common municipality name than I realized. Not quite Springfield, but it’s up there. I didn’t check all 50 states, but CT, IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, NC, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, WI for sure all have a place called Woodstock. And now you know that too.

Postscript, sort of. Tags. My dislike of the tagging and categorizing aspect of blogging may also be holding me back. When I’m done writing, I want to hit publish & be done, not ponder the best subject headers & keywords. Adding internet cat tax photos to tempt folks into clicking is fun, and I don’t mind dashing off little teasers for the social media auto-shares, but my post-writing-the-post patience ends there.

I recognize tags are important Search Engine Optimization tools, but I gotta be honest: that’s a skillset I don’t feel like learning. From now on, I shall be doing few-to-no tags and ignoring WordPress’s little guilt-trip suggestion boxes about them. Easier is better, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

That’s all for now. I’ll do this again when next I have a few hundred words of random. Until then!