Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Kid Stuff

We went shopping.  It's amazing (and cool) how much of an event shopping can be when you haven't done it in a while.  We took advantage of some great sales, and we didn't have to fight crowds.  Yay!

On the way home we got to talking about religion and enlightenment.  O is reading Spiritual Enlightenment: The Damnedest Thing.  That book provides heaps of material for discussion.  (I also enjoyed reading it because I felt like I was spending time with my husband.  Make of that what you will.)

I'm in a weird position, as far as I can tell.  I don't consider my beliefs 'faith.'  I don't have a book I follow.  I have direct experience, and I have history.  History is the more suspect of those two.  As a former Catholic, I understand how beautiful faith, any faith, can be.  Having said that, I think part of the reason why the book, and my son's insights into it, resonate and work for me is because it focuses on work, thinking, and getting at reality.  It has nothing to do with woo woo experiences.  Not that they don't happen.  They just have nothing to do with enlightenment.  Aura visualization, seeing/hearing/feeling ghosts, being thrown into states of bliss or alternate realities, astral projection (I've done all these things, btw) are more of a distraction than any proof of spiritual advancement.  I've suspected this, but I've never put it into words, never completed the thought for myself.  So I'm indebted to Jed McKenna for pointing that out to me.

I'm not planning to head off on a path toward enlightenment.  It's just fun talking about how to avoid getting caught up in fantasies and avoid getting distracted by things that can make you less, rather than more, functional and/or happy in this world, assuming that's your goal.  If I hear about someone who has to consult a tarot deck before heading out to face the day, and that person is doing no better or (more usually!) worse than your average Joe or Jane, the tarot deck is a distraction no matter how accurate it might be.  

You can guess the direction our discussion of religion went.  If it works for people, helps them get through life better, if it's helping, then yay!  I would be the last person to say don't believe.  But if you feel like you're in jail and life is nothing but suffering, you know, the door is open.  Seriously.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Things My Kids Talk About at Dinner

I let my kids watch Robot Chicken.  I know this automatically means I'm a bad parent, but it's not like I could hide this shameful fact.

For example, at a holiday dinner table, Robot Chicken has to come up.  It's required to do something like this before you can progress in the Embarrass Your Parents course.  No other people need be present at the table.  It's sufficiently embarrassing that other people will just instinctively know that it happened, and will give you the look when you next go shopping or for coffee or whatever.

"You let your kids watch Robot Chicken, don't you," the kid at the expresso machine says.  "I don't think I should sell you this hot caramel apple cider with extra whipping cream.  It wouldn't be ethical to support you in any way."

Anyway, there's a skit on Terrorism in the first season.  Kids say innocuous things, and then a booming voice accuses them of "Terrorism!" and then terrorists use the innocuous thing to charge in and shoot everyone.  "Now is the time to strike!" they cackle.

So the kids came up with "Divine Wrath!"

A gaming nerd from Muncie, Indiana stops in the middle of a convenience store in horror.  "Oops, I forgot to make a sacrifice to Poseidon."  A tidal wave comes in and floods the city.  "Divine Wrath!"
A kid in a blue suit carrying a Bible is smoking with his friends behind the school.  "I skipped Church this Sunday."  A lightning bolt shoots out of a clear sky and strikes him dead.  "Divine Wrath!"
An emo girl complains to her friend at school.  "Thor sucks!"  A giant hammer smashes her into dust.  "Divine Wrath!" the voice thunders.
A tourist draws a mustache and glasses on a statue of Kali.  The statue becomes the animated embodiment of Kali.  The avatar hoists him into the air on the end of a spear.  "Divine Wrath!"
A novelist confronts her critique group.  "You know, I don't think J.R.R. Tolkien was that good."  Boromir smashes through the door, cries, "For Gondor!" and slices her in half.  "Divine Wrath!"

This blog post has been sponsored by Mothers Against Atheism (MAA.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

The New Year Approacheth

I'm not a big New Year's Resolution gal, but I do review the previous year and try to do some planning.  As we approach January 1, 2009, I'll be thinking about where I've been, and where I'd like to be by January 1, 2010.  As radical as 2008 has been, 2009 has the potential to test me even more.  I hope I pass those tests.  Skating along is great, but facing challenges, meeting them, even surpassing them, is something I look forward to even though they're intimidating.  I'm not dreading 2009.  I'm hopeful, and I'm gearing up.  

2009 won't just be a big year for me.  We'll have a new President, and the Democrats will be in charge.  Will it be chaos, or choreography, to quote Heather Alexander?  

The woodstove warms the downstairs and the cats lay, molten, in cushioned nooks.  The house is soft and comforting.  It's an illusion, but I do feel sheltered and safe here.  Snow may sift endlessly from towering clouds, I may demand more of myself as a writer, face the possibility of O going out into the world to make it on his own as best he can, dream bigger than ever while downsizing as much as I can, get caught up in storms of political and economic change (hopefully they'll be awesome rather than awful) ... but I'm starting from a place of wellness and comfort.  Thus rested, hopefully I can handle just about anything.

I hope everyone has a great winter, and that the lengthening days will lift your spirits to new heights.  Happy Holidays!

To my beloved far away, blessed be.  We're going to have crazy fun this year.  Are you ready?  I am.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Food: Everywhere but here

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.  It's still snowing up here and my car is buried (again) so we won't be going to my mom's place today either.  We'll meet up sometime this weekend, I imagine.  

Moody mentioned in comments that some folks on the coast have lost access to some perishables because trucks can't make it over the passes.  I had a report from Bend from my sister-in-law that grocery stores had run out of some basics like sugar.  It makes me wonder how long a city system can be supported by local warehouses.  

I know during the reign of communism in the Czech Republic, running out of things was usual.  The system of supply was notoriously poor, and some things like fresh produce were horrendously expensive (possibly because they were difficult to ship.)  I remember the package of four peaches, carefully wrapped, with a price tag of (U.S. dollar equivalent) $40 on it.  Yikes.  So, how much do you like peaches?

There's a price to pay when you don't have a direct local supply.  Can the Tillamook dairy sell directly to grocery stores?  They're still milking and bottling.  I'm betting that they're required by contract to ship in certain quantities in certain directions.  To change that would be a breach of contract.  It's just a guess, but that may have something to do with the lack of milk in coastal grocery stores right now.  Contracts.  

I don't expect that the way we handle contracts and shipping will change very much.  There are some buy local movements out there.  Fuel costs have pressured a rethink of how we do business.  Why do I find foreign-grown oranges in the store instead of Californian or Florida oranges anyway?  Why can't I find a single brand of canned Hawaiian pineapple at any price?

Don't get me wrong.  I like the bananas I get from Ecuador.  I'm a little iffy about the pesticides some foreign countries allow, but hey, bananas have thick peels.  The point is, I don't think there's anything intrinsically wrong with buying stuff from overseas.  I do think that as a nation we should give preference, or at least make available, products that are closer to home.

If anyone knows where I can get Hawaiian pineapple, let me know!  Maybe the Whole Foods Market has some ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shelter, Water, Food

I took survival classes in college.  Yes, multiple.  You may or may not be surprised that it would fill an entire college-level course.  The extension service stuff was more hands-on.  Like deciding in advance what you will and will not fight for (or against) it's important to figure out what you're going to do well in advance of a survival situation.

Not that we're in a survival situation, but I do daily inventories on food and water to make sure we don't have to ration before the so-called weekend thaw.  I've also got a plan if we need to get into town for whatever reason.  It's called hitching a ride.

It wouldn't exactly be a plush holiday vacation, but we would actually be fine for a whole 'nother week, and we'd be whiny but sustainable beyond that on sausage, ramen, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, bread made in the bread machine and cookies.  We also have enough brownie mix to make several batches of brownies, which as we all know make the whole world better.  But, even though we're not in trouble in any sense of the word, I thought I'd blah blah about survival strategies.

The reason survival classes order shelter, water and food in the order that they do is priority.  Exposure to the elements is usually your worst enemy, whether it's desert sun, rain, cold, wind, drowning, etc.  Most people lost in the wilderness are killed by exposure first.  Now, putting together a reasonable shelter is different than hiding in a panic.  Lots of people panic and then hide.  If you put yourself in the mindset of constructing something that will keep out the worst of the weather using the natural terrain as much as you can and then setting up some sort of marker that will clue in searchers to your whereabouts, you'll be better off (in most cases) than wandering around trying to find your own way out until you freak out, go animal and hide.  At that point you won't be in control of your emotions and you won't be rational--lost people have failed to respond to searchers calling their name because they become so fearful.  If you know for an absolute fact that no one will be looking for you, or looking in the wrong place, or will absolutely for certain not find you in time, and you need to navigate out, you'll have to put together mobile shelter, aka clothing.  Hats and insulation from natural materials suck, but they're better than nothing if you're not dressed for the weather.

Second is water because dehydration is a quick killer too, just not as quick as exposure to the worst Momma Nature has to offer.  Most people worry about water in the desert, but it's easy to get dehydrated in rainy or snowy conditions too.  In snow it's bad because your sources of water sap precious body heat.  In cold rain often the thirst mechanism is suppressed, so you don't start to feel thirsty until you're in trouble.

Food, although hunger is miserable, is last on the list because it's the slowest of the killers.  People quickly weaken from hunger, but having done a five day fast while continuing my normal activities including karate and archery, I can tell you from personal experience that you won't weaken as quickly as you think assuming you're able to stay warm in a cold environment. You'll weaken faster in the cold because your body burns so much more energy trying to maintain proper body temperature.  This is a similar problem to sweating away precious water reserves when you're in hot/desert situation and you're low on water, though it's still slower than dying from exposure or thirst by quite a large margin.

More information is good.  If you know the whys of an order of importance you can modify that order based on your particular circumstances.  But do think over those circumstances before you walk out the door (or before the storm rolls in.)  Once you're in the middle of it, it'll be that much harder to get by if you haven't planned ahead.

Be safe out there!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No End in Sight, Yet

353 PM PST MON DEC 22 2008
353 PM PST MON DEC 22 2008




Sunday, December 21, 2008

Still Doing Great

The weather outside is intense, but we're doing well.  O. and I crawled (literally at some points) over deep drifts of snow to truck water and firewood to the appropriate places during chore time today.  A. went out too to feed the animals, but she couldn't manage bringing stuff back in the weather.  Definitely three layer weather outside, and the outside dogs are inside.  The bunnies are covered in two layers of blankets.  So far so good with the goats, though I worry about them in this sort of weather.  

Regional weather reports say we have temps in the twenties, but our thermometer reads in the teens.  Today it got as warm as 20˚F, and then dropped back down to 15˚F (-10 C)  That's without windchill, and it's blowing out there.  At least we haven't seen any ice.  Yet.  It's supposed to arrive.  Regional weather also tells us that the storm warning period has been extended until 10am tomorrow, and to expect another 2"-4" of snow.  Well, it looks like a lot more than an additional 4" out there to me, but it's not like the conditions are significantly tougher out here because of the added accumulation.  That may change if the deck or roof decides it wasn't designed well enough to hold the snow load.

Living on a hill with few neighbors is definitely not for the faint of heart.  We've been in touch with all three of our neighbors and everyone is doing well.  The across the road neighbor has a light four wheel drive vehicle with chains and has been commuting okay.  The uphill neighbor is fine.  The downhill neighbor was out of town until recently and called about road conditions.  I gave him the skinny, and he decided to go for it since we didn't have any freezing rain and he's a very experienced snow driver with a four wheel drive vehicle and chains at his disposal.

Lights flicked off several times today, but came right back on.  We're snug and fed and not worried despite the fact that our vehicles are buried.  I hope everyone is doing okay.  Hang in there!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Winter Nagland

We're preparing for the big snow dump.  I now officially forbid anyone from even trying to come up here, as we're going to have both snow and freezing rain.  The image is from yesterday.  The snow is deeper today, and it's colder.  When the freezing rain comes (if it comes) it'll go from iffy driving to crazy.

This is the kind of weather where it's essential that all y'all with heating systems that absolutely must have clear venting to keep your family safe (like wood heat) need to check those vents, just in case.  I went out this morning early-ish to make sure our wood stove still had a clear chimney exhaust.  Looks good from here.  We've kept the heat up for long enough and hot enough that it seemed unlikely snow and ice would stick there, but since the fire goes out overnight every night, it pays to check.  

While I'm in mother hen finger-shaking mode, when's the last time you backed up your computer?  Don't forget to back up, me hearties.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Our Solstice preparations have been overshadowed by storms.  I don't know if we're going to thaw out enough to lure company over, but one way or another we'll have our usual vigil.  We stay up all night waiting for the sun to rise after the longest night of the year.  This year the party starts on the morning of December 21st and continues until the morning of December 22nd.  I allow myself naps during daylight, but at sunset I meditate on the last rays of sunlight, and I won't sleep again until the sun crests the horizon in the morning.  

First light can be a rather ambiguous situation if its cloudy, especially if it's snowing.  Luckily we have resources online to tell us, to the minute, when the sun will rise.  I use local flight info in case I can't tell when the sun is up--pilots have to know exactly when first light appears, when the sun actually rises, and all that.  On the shortest day of the year, pilots who aren't permitted to fly at night will be severely curtailed.  I guess they'll have to stay home and drink hot chocolate.

Friends are welcome to come over.  We have both modern and traditional goodies on Yule.

Why Yule instead of Christmas?  I left the Catholic faith a long time ago.  Even as sanitized and de-Christianized as many Americans make it, it's still a Christian holiday.  I both respect my Christian friends, and my decision, too much to celebrate a neutered version of what was in turn a neutered (and then put in funny clothes) version of a pagan holiday.  

Much of what informs my spiritual practices comes from what I've learned about the cycles of day and night, life and death, and the seasons.  Celebrating the solstice fits with that.  We do the whole shebang--open gifts, call friends, and sometimes I even get holiday cards out on time (not this year, though!)  It's the yay, the sunshine is coming back party, rather than the virgin birth thing or the B&E saint thing for us.  Whatever your faith, I hope December 21st is a good day for you, and that you have a peaceful and hopeful night.  Come the first light of December 22nd, the days will get longer and will eventually snowball (ha ha) into spring here in the northern hemisphere on our gorgeous, jewel-like planet surrounded by the stars of our home, the Milky Way Galaxy.  

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Public Service Message from Brrr Hill

Headache, feeling achy.  I hope I'm just slow at adjusting to the very dry cold and dealing with a disruption in my sleep schedule rather than coming down with something.

If you're in dry cold, remember to drink on a schedule.  The thirst mechanism isn't triggered as reliably in cold weather, and dry cold (especially with lots of wind) dehydrates people shockingly fast.  I haven't been drinking on a schedule, and I suspect that may have something to do with how I'm feeling.

Dehydration can cause headaches, nausea, diarrhea as well as the more usual dry mouth/throat/fuzzy tongue.  In fact, if you need something to help you remember the less usual symptoms of dehydration, just think about how it feels to be hungover.  

And don't forget to check your pee.  There are grosser things to do.  No, I don't want to hear about them.  :-)  If you're not going, or not going often enough, or its dark, you could be in trouble.  Seriously.

Stay safe and warm out there.  It might not be as cold as it is in, say, Montana, but it's no joke.  In fact, those of us who aren't used to this really chilly weather are generally less prepared, and more likely to suffer from a cold injury like frostbite or lung damage than our more savvy cold-weather neighbors.

Happy Brrr Days!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Winter Shiverland

The storm is here.  It's pretty bitter out there, enough that we've had the outside dogs in a couple of times to warm up, and they'll be spending the night in the garage with the heater on.  The heater is in an inaccessible place, plus it's the kind that turns off automatically if it's tipped over, and its on the solid cement ground.
Eventually I want to build the dogs a permanent room in the garage accessible through the side garage door.  I even have a dog door for it.  I just haven't had time.  So the poor things are shut in.  They'll get to go out to pee in about another hour or two, and then I get to set the alarm early to let them out in the morning.
There's a bat in the garage as well.  We disturbed it setting up the dog sleeping quarters.  I hope it's doing okay in there.  Do they eat dog food?  I dunno.  Bats hibernate in our garage every year, but this is the first time I've seen one actually flapping around.  I've found them before snuggled up inside of bedding in the garage, but they wouldn't do anything except shift a little bit around.  Maybe it's because the weather has been relatively mild until now.  It hasn't had time to get groggy.

We're going to prep as if it's a school day tomorrow, but I suspect it's going to be cancelled.  Fog is predicted for the wee hours tonight, and freezing fog means nasty roads in the morning.  Just as well.  I like having my kids home.  We can bake brownies and have a movie fest and, if the wind dies down a bit, build snowmen.

I hope everyone's staying warm. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

It's Alive!

Every year for a long stretch now, we've gotten a live tree for Yule.  

Live trees are trickier than the cut ones for lots of reasons.  One of them is dormancy.  Even evergreens are dormant in winter.  The difference they have from their deciduous cousins is that they retain their leaves.  In order to do this they employ a number of tricks--coated leaves, more compact leaves with an overall greater thickness than most deciduous leaves (to help resist frostbite) and specialized sap.  This doesn't make them invulnerable to cold, though.  They don't put on new leaves, which isn't tough enough to resist the cold, all winter long.  They just maintain.

Contrary to appearance, they do shed their leaves like all other trees.  They just do it like we shed hair.  Sometimes they'll have precipitous loss from stress, but they usually let go of leaves only when those leaves are too old to do a good job.  No pension plan for those leaves, I'm afraid.  After they're shed, many varieties of evergreen leaf also serve as a chemical mulch that makes the soil inhospitable to most seeds.

Anyway, opinions vary on how long it takes for a tree to break dormancy, but opinions are universal that it's a bad thing.  The tree will lose an entire flush of growth that was meant for spring.  So it loses an inch or two of ground at the start of the year, you think.  No big deal, right?  But it's not just height it's losing.  Remember, it loses its leaves fairly continuously.  If it loses its entire spring flush of buds, its going to have to spend extra energy to try to recover.  It needs to produce more leaf mass to make up for what it lost to frost in addition to what it naturally loses, plus it still needs to add on a little more length on its limbs (they prioritize height because it helps them claim valuable solar space and helps choke out competing weeds.)  The tree can also go into shock.  Since transplant shock is pretty well a given for trees anyway when you plant them in your garden, the additional shock of breaking out of dormancy, getting tossed outside back into cold weather and losing all its new buds, and then having to come up with extra growth just when its energy reserves are at their lowest--you can lose the tree entirely.  As in it may die.

So although having a live tree is really, really neat, we have to plan around it.  First of all, we try not to keep it in the house more than ten days.  Second, it can't be downstairs where the woodstove is running continuously.  In addition to that heat being very drying, it's so extreme that it may break the tree out of dormancy even sooner.  Last, we have to be careful about the lights (as low heat as we can find and keeping them on only when we're actively enjoying the ambience,) ornaments (not heavy or hung in a way that will damage branches) and how often we water (can't just 'top it off' like a cut tree--having it be too wet is just as bad as too dry.)

The fuss is worth it.  When I stroll through the garden, I recognize all our Yule trees from years past.  Some of them have grown a lot, like our variegated cedar, while others, like our variegated holly, are still compact (and are supposed to be that way.)

BTW, this is a Moonglow juniper, in honor of my DH, who loves junipers.  The link leads to a reasonable description, but there's an error--these trees can mature up to a height of 30 feet and can be wider (up to 12') so planning for 15'x5' is asking for trouble unless your climate naturally dwarfs them.  Planting in rocky soil will also probably dwarf them, though junipers aren't as stymied by rock as some other trees.

All this started with some good friends of ours (hi Sondra and Rick!) who gave us a miniature Christmas tree one year to plant in our yard.  It's still tiny, but easily three times as big as when we got it.  It's a dwarf alberta spruce, and you can usually find them very inexpensively at most stores this time of year in a variety of sizes.  Even people with very, very small gardens can plant this tree outside.  They grow only a fraction of an inch each year, and maintain a tidy shape without pruning.  Treat them more like a shrub than a tree.  By the time they get 'tree-sized' your grandchildren will be enjoying having their grandchildren over to decorate the outdoor Christmas tree.

Have a happy holiday!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Q: Why did you agree to this interview?

It's Friday and the forecast is promising snow in waves--this afternoon, again Sunday, and probably a third wave next week.  I'm wishing for that snow, though it'll torpedo my weekend plans.  Maybe because it'll torpedo my weekend plans.  I do like going out and accomplishing Stuff and Things but it's been a while since I've holed up in my house for days and days.  I've got good reason to hole up, too.  I've been working on the grass widow book--it's up to 13,000 words now--and I don't want to stop.  
Speaking of which, if anyone out there is a grass widow or knows someone who has a spouse overseas (soldier or contractor, doesn't matter) who is willing to be interviewed for the book, contact me: kamila at easystreet dot net.  I'd like to hear all about it.  I'll even make the interview super easy and painless, and folks can choose to have names mentioned or remain completely anonymous.
Which brings me to an anecdote.  Chatting with a non-fiction author about the quirky situation of writing about real life (with such topics as how real is real, different accounts of the same event and how they relate, etc.) the subject of using real names and interview materials came up.  The author said that after a short interview one subject of his book asked how much he would get paid for the use of his name.
Um, nothing?  
The author changed the name rather than feel beholden, even though the person had no legal right to demand money for the use of their name in a creative non-fiction work.  He didn't want to deal with the emotional and possibly legal fall-out should this person come after him in the event the book was actually published and, heaven forbid, did well in the marketplace.
The thing about writing and selling books is that unless you're super lucky, super famous, or established, or--er, I don't think there's a fourth option--it's unlikely you can pay for groceries with what you make, much less a mortgage.  If most writers paid themselves the federal minimum wage for the hours spent on their projects, they'd go bankrupt in no time.  In fact, they'd go bankrupt if they paid themselves only a dollar per hour.  Assuming a part time schedule with two weeks vacation, I'd have to pay myself around $1500 a year at a buck an hour.  This year I've earned about $150.  If I sold a book and got a $2000 advance on it (no guarantee of that advance, especially if it's published through a small press,) I'd be about $500 ahead.  I could pay my taxes with the extra cash!  Yay!
Er, boo, actually.  And the book may not even sell.  Plus, I write closer to full time.
So the folks that participate through interviews or share ideas or critique or what have you to be a part of a writer's process should help out because they want their information out there, or out of friendship, or professional courtesy or in exchange for similar services, or maybe as a promotional opportunity if the book relates to a commercial venture.  You can do it for the oblique gratification of being included in the acknowledgements, or because it feels good to contribute to an art form.  Maybe you just would like to transmit important information to the world community on a non-fiction topic.  Maybe you've succeeded at something, and you'd like to help someone else succeed--paying it forward.  Regardless, even if an author is financially able to compensate you, is there a reason why they should?  There is one.  If it's your book, and you're paying them to ghost write for you.
Sure, if I make a gizillion dollars on a blockbuster, I'll do something nice for the people who contributed.  If I can't even buy groceries, I'll still try to arrange for a free copy through the publisher, or spend money out of my own pocket (assuming I have two dimes to rub together and I'm not eating cat food and living in my car,) to get a free copy of the book to interviewees, signed if they like, with my profuse thanks.  But getting interviewed is not a way to make money, and the use of your name in a book doesn't imply you ought to be compensated.  
End of rant.  Where's my snow?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Take it up with management

"MmmMMMmmm!"  It-Runs-In-Front-of-Me whines with her mouth closed, getting underfoot as I move around the house.  When I settle, she whines some more until I give her an invitation, and then she leaps onto my lap.  She's the lickiest kitty we've had.  Yesterday we got into a pattern of her licking my fingers and I'd rub her face and she'd lick my fingers and I'd rub her face--kitty face washing via a human.  Not sure what it means in the language of the cat (other than I'm clearly her slave) but she liked it.

We've been back from Victoria for a couple of days, but we're short my DH, who's gone back overseas.  The household is back to 'normal,' normal for us these past months.  Email and Skype contact, quiet during the day while the younger humans are at school, the stack of projects deep enough to keep me busy until the next R&R.  I have to add another entry in my grass widow book.  There aren't very many, and there won't be much to work on if I don't make these timed entries.  It's too difficult to recapture the day to day experience of being a grass widow; there's no going back and doing it later.  At the same time, daily entries would be too much.  That would smell like wallowing, and I'm not big on the ol' wallow, not when there are dirty walls left to paint and novels to edit and short stories to market and manuscripts to critique.  Besides, I suspect that it's bad for my hair.

It was good, really, really good, to have him home.  We talked a lot, and a lot wasn't quite enough to get somewhere with this whole 'what next' question.  Education is a no-brainer, but when a person becomes a contractor, the job thing isn't a no-brainer anymore.  Saving, planning, contingencies all become critical.  

I heard a story about someone who withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from a 401k in time to save it from a stock-worth plunge, but then spent it.  All of it.  Even with amounts that border on an incredible windfall, the money bleeds away unless you're careful.  There's no inheritance, no lottery, no lucky break in the stock market big enough to save your ass if you can't manage your money.  Which brings me to management in general.

There isn't enough money in your imagination to give you financial independence if you don't know how to get by day to day with what you already have.  So with that firmly in mind, I get to prioritize expenditures over the next several months and save as much as I can for that day when he gets to come home and stay more than a short breath.  And I've decided to 'live the dream' which in reality is more like eat the stress muffin--make a serious go at pulling in my part of the total household income through writing, an incredibly tough thing to do these days.  It means non-fiction articles as well as short stories.  It means in ten minutes, I start my work day, so I'd better get dressed and eat breakfast right quick.  

I've deliberately set a high goal for myself, partly to contribute in a more income-y way to the household, partly to stay sane, but mostly because I know I can't succeed until I try.  All my dreams of becoming a successful writer aren't worth shed dog hair if I don't make the attempt when the opportunity to write without starving is now, and tomorrow, and a whole line of tomorrows that seem boundless but just like money, can bleed away to nothing.  After that sometime tomorrow, if I'm not making enough money to even buy groceries, it'll be too late to build a career in time, and I'll be back to looking through the wanted ads, or contemplating a major downsize, or some other measure in conjunction with what the market will bear on my DH's side of work-related endeavors.  Managing time is even more important than managing money.  The time to continue, or begin again, is now, and every day from now until time runs out.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Attempts began to salvage a recent wreck near Tofino, Vancouver Island B.C.

View from our deck of a Christmas parade of ships in Victoria, Vancouver Island, B.C.

Friday, December 05, 2008


Indoor and outdoor lights combine at a waterfront restaurant

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The land of inlets

Beautiful territory up here.  Mostly forested, ferries taking shortcuts over water where bridges can't span, moist ocean air, seagulls, calm water, silver skies.  We visited with a favorite aunt last night.  Good food, conversation that spanned the usual (for us) gamut from the artistic to the animal.  We're just outside the region where the sun shines more often than not.  There's a hole in the rain, a weather pattern that shelters Sequim from constant drenching.  I wonder if it's seasonal or year-round.  Anyway, we're a few miles away, lit by a cloud-diffused sun. 

It's cold, colder than I'd guess from looking at the thermostat. It might be the damp, or that I haven't acclimated yet.  Anyway, it's coat and sweater weather.  So naturally we can't find swimsuits for sale anywhere.  The girl is growing too fast and not swimming often enough to keep her in swimsuits.  It's like needing shoes for a child that runs around barefoot everywhere.  When you go someplace where shoes are absolutely required you wonder if you're a bad parent for not just having them available on general principles.  I think her most recent swimsuit is two sizes too small.

I'm a little on the pooped side.  Although we have places to stay every night, we're technically still traveling.  I don't unpack my clothes into the dressers.  When we get up in the morning we're watching the clock for the checkout time.  This morning my DH did laundry.  Clothes are tumbling in the drier.  They'll be done in time, but still, I'm checking the clock.  It doesn't detract from having fun, but it isn't relaxing.

Time to do my five Tibetans.

Hmm.  That sounded kinky.

Posting will continue to be sporadic until about the 10th of December.  I hope everyone's having a good first part of December!