Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I Wanna Be a Loose Woman

Sorry it's been so quiet (too quiet.)  I've been working, writing, reading, and practicing brush calligraphy.

Boy does brush calligraphy reveal in painful and obvious detail my shortcomings in brush control.  Yikes.  And I'm not talking about control in the normal sense.  Artsy stuff requires looseness and relaxation.  Anyone who's practiced a signature knows what I mean.  There's a point where your brain  has it down auto-magically and you relax and just sign.  I aspire to that with brush calligraphy, not because I want to achieve a zen state or anything.  I just want the letters to flow so that it looks natural.  Right now most of the letters have at least one awkward point.  When it's the same one, I can work on that section by itself, but most of the time the awkwardness wanders, like an awful conversation that you desperately want to go well.

Anyway, I've been listening to music and watching dvds (thank you, DH, for the Castle Season 3!!) and practicing with the brush, hoping that when I look at my collection of letters the next day I'll think wow, that's the one.  That's the keeper.

And then I'll put it on the cover of a book.

Speaking of books, I'm on a couple of serious deadlines, so I'd better get some done before I crash tonight.  Gotta write every day a little bit.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Moments of Happiness

I'm catching up on paper-worky stuff, and I got about 3000 words written today.  

But the really, really good thing that I did today was go for a walk with my DH, my daughter, and our dogs.

We have two big white dogs (Brian and Finn) and our recent adoptee/ranawayfromotherfamilywhodidn'twantherback (Chase) and they are quite the pack.  Brian and Finn take up the entire back seat, which makes things a little crowded for our daughter.  I don't know how she survived.  And fluff, white fluff! was flying everywhere.  We had our window rolled down and the fluff was blowing thicker than Colorado snowfall.  Seriously.
But we managed to get to the river despite my DH having to drive in whiteout conditions.

At the river ... (skipping the part where we were all tangled up in dogs at one point)

Brian and Finn, being veterans of this thing called going to the river for a walk, waded right in and picked a direction to walk.  It was even the same direction.  Meanwhile, Chase was frantic.  They were in the water, the danger water!  She didn't dare stick a toe in.  Hilarity increased when she discovered the true evil lying in the depths (3 inches) of the evil water.  A stick!  A stick with algae and mossy-looking water weed on it.  Oh. My. GAWD!

And then, suddenly, something in her snapped, as if the string that kept her high-strung stringy snapped.  She pranced in, lifting her feet excessively high at first.  Next thing we knew she was darting in and out of the water with the other dogs, and the darting became casual wading in and out as the mood took her.

The dogs calmed, we turned around, and we started walking the other way and we had one of those incredible moments.  Soft breeze, soft sunshine, sparkling river, the dogs calmly exploring at the water's edge, and we were together in a time and place of complete peace.

It didn't last, but these things aren't meant to last.  Three days from now I probably wouldn't remember the herons, one circling and one waiting patiently in the mud, unless I wrote about them.  It wasn't a big deal.  But that's part of what made it beautiful.  

On the way home Chase sat in my lap, all tuckered out.  She rested her chest and neck on my arm for a while, while I cradled her body with my other arm.  And then she lifted her head and rested against my chest like a child, her soft ear tickling my cheek, her chin on my shoulder.  I wondered if she had moments at her other home like this.  It doesn't matter anymore, I suppose.  But I hope so.  I hope she had, and always will have moments of happiness wherever she may be.

I hope we all do.  We need them.  Just for the contrast, you know?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finished a Book, Wrote a Lot. Good Times.

I've been writing for most of the day.  This is a good thing, but it's physically demanding for someone who is accustomed to standing for the length of a working day.  It's also really, really not good for me.  I've been snacking more than I usually do, too, which does not help.

In the new stuff category, I read a really kewl book.  And yes, I know, it wasn't on my reading pile but I sometimes add to my reading pile without finishing what I've got.  (Ahem.)  And start reading the new stuff before I finish the old stuff.  (Ahem ahem.)

Highly recommended:  Food Rules:  An Eater's Manual.  One of my DH's awesome friends gave him a copy.  Don't let the mere four star out of 320 reviews fool you.  I'd give this one five stars.  And yes, I may quibble about some of the minor details, but they aren't important.  What is important is the message and the way that message is very easily digested.  Unfortunately it has more than five ingredients, but remember, moderation in all things, including moderation.

I'm working on a book cover as well.  I think I've got more than two full time jobs going here.  Will the universe kindly slow down so that I can finish some stuff and gain some ground on my to-do list?

You will!?!  Really?!!  Sweet!!

I'm going to get some work done while the getting is good!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


I called in sick today.  I very rarely do that ... and then I overthink it and wonder if I do really very rarely do that, or if I only think I rarely do that.  I don't want to be the person who's always calling in sick and screwing it up for everyone else.

Calling in sick causes problems for my employer.  It's a small enough place (35 employees-ish, with quite a few of those being part-time so that we have considerably less than that working on a given day) that losing one person really mucks up the schedule.  It's most likely that the bookkeeper will have to fill in my spot at least for some of the day.  Not good.

There's the possibility too that I won't be the only one calling in today.  

Business will be done, and the customers probably won't notice except maybe in the form of longer waits, but my fellow employees will really feel it.  Since I like my fellow employees a lot, I don't want them to end up harried and stuck in spots doing work that I ought to be doing.  On the other hand, I don't want to spread this plague, assuming it's contagious.  A couple of people have already called in sick this week, and what I'm feeling now sounds something like what caused them to go to work thinking they could pull off another day and then sent them running to the restroom followed by leaving work sick.  On the other, other hand, since it's already going around, my showing up or not probably won't affect who will get sick.  The plague is in the building ... it's all up to everyone's individual immunity now.  And of course on the other, other, other hand, I have to think about our customers, some of whom are elderly or in poor health.  They definitely ought to be protected.

So I'm staying home, even though at this point I think I can push through without emptying the non-existent contents of my stomach on them.  (Breakfast may or may not get eaten today ... water is an iffy proposition at this point.)  I don't like to call in sick.  It makes me feel like I'm letting everyone down.  I hope my coworkers don't have a really crummy day because of me.  And I hope I didn't unwittingly spread this yucky feeling to others yesterday.  I sterilized my whole area with wipes.  Twice!  I'm sure the bookkeeper will do that again today.  And I hope my previously-ill coworkers are feeling better, not just for their own sakes but because that makes it likely that I'll be back at work that much sooner too.

Stay well, everyone, and have a good day.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Twins and Other Surprises

We had a few surprises over the last week. First came the cute little twin tomatoes. So adorable, and tasty too! They weren't just attached by the green. The skins were connected too.

Then we had a double yolker egg. These actually happen pretty often. Grandma House (my mom) got a double yolker in the last batch of eggs we sent her. Young hens tend to make mistakes like that while their bodies learn how to make eggs. When Chihiro laid her first egg, she forgot to put the yolk and the shell on it. The result looked like a weird white waterballoon. The membrane was really tough, strong enough to bounce on pavement without breaking. The second egg was better. Still no shell, but it had a yolk.
And now she appears to be sharing a nest with our best egg-hider, Sophie!
We were looking for the hens. We lost our rooster to a predator (probably a raccoon but it might be the return of the super-bold coyote) and we were worried when the hens didn't come running up for their mealtime. I don't usually go all the way to the NE corner of the pasture because I can see pretty clearly if there's a chicken there, but this time I went to see if the predator had dug a hole under the fence.
And that's when I found thirty eggs all cuddled up together in a chicken-sized nest.
The girl, when she put them all in a basket, found that some of the ones on the bottom were actually partially buried and had to be dug out.

Sometimes living on a small farm can be painful, sad, frustrating, and even scary.

But some days, a lot of days actually, it's a lot of fun. I'd even go so far as to say hilarious.

I love living on a farm.

Now, the girl and I have a lot of eggs to float-test.
(If you're not sure about how good an egg is, just submerge it in water. If it lays flat, it's fresh. If the nose tips up a bit, it's good to hard boil. Super fresh eggs don't hard boil well because the whites stick to the shell. If the nose points straight up, it's iffy. I might still hard boil it, but I'd probably give it to the dogs all chopped up rather than feed it to a human being. And if it floats--run away! If it bobs on the surface of the water, don't even run. Just carefully--very, very, very carefully--pick the egg up and dispose of it somewhere where the evil smell when it inevitably breaks won't foul up the whole neighborhood. Yech!)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Rage at Work

I had a horror movie moment at work today.  The customers usually stand pretty close to the counter, and I have to use the lower part of the counter to do paperwork.  So there I was, paperworking away, while the customer was talking to me, when bam!  I got splashed in the eye by a tiny ball of spit.  Tiny though it might have been, I felt changes going on inside of me.  And I thought, this is Rage.  Soon now, the zombie virus will take over and I'll be infected.  I'll have to take out as many of them as I can before they come after me with baseball bats!

I paused, considering my first move.  

My fingers

twitched ...

But then the moment passed and I realized I wasn't infected with Rage.  I was just grossed out.

So I completed the transaction.

Of course, I might simply be resistant.  Perhaps, over time, the virus will overtake me and then, at my next day at work, I'll start making strange noises and grunt at the customers.  And then, savagely, I will feast!

Feast I say!

On the paperwork that inspires such Rage in me.

The horror ....

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Moving On

I'm not-so-secretly transferring my accounts out of one of the big banks to a credit union because there are new scary headlines about those big banks every day.  I know that those scary headlines won't affect my personal accounts at my branch (or so I hope) but they are constant reminders that I don't like the way the big banks have been doing business.

I like the way this credit union does business.

Hence, I move my stuff.  No one will care.  No one will be sad that I'm no longer a customer there (except maybe for the two totally awesome employees I've gotten to know over the years that work there.)  But I'll feel better about where I keep my money, and how that money is looked after.

In case you're wondering, yes, the only reason this is noteworthy is because I'm one of those sad cases that hangs onto a certain amount of loyalty when it comes to doing business.  I don't change banks often, and I usually visit the same businesses over and over.  I get to know the people that work there, and I learn what they do well, and what they stink at, and conduct my business accordingly.

So although this isn't a huge deal, it's still something that goes a little deeper than doing the paperwork and jumping through the hoops.  It's an emotional step as well.  Big bank used to mean big safety to me.  Now it feels like a big risk, not necessarily because the banks are in any real danger, but because I don't think they're dealing with their customers in a professional manner.  I don't need to be taken care of.  I do require some frickin' standards, though.  Maybe even a little pride.  Sadly, I fear that the line staff doing the jobs of four people each don't have time for pride.  They're just trying to survive.  Is it a management issue, or just more fallout from risky behavior?  I have no idea.  Knowing the answer won't change my decision.

Bye bye, big bank.  Hello local credit union.  I have a feeling we're going to get along just fine.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Currently On My Bathroom Bookshelf

What I'm reading right now:

The Godforsaken Sea
I've just started this gem of a book, partially for research but partially because I'm just a wee bit obsessed with the sea and sailing.  If I was really, really obsessed I'd be sailing right now and hardly anyone would hear from me, but I'd rather be writing and gardening (though doing those things near enough to the ocean to go play in and on the waves daily would be ideal.)  Anyway, the author is doing a great job so far of trying to explain to landlubbers why the Southern Ocean is so friggin' dangerous.  I've never been very far from the shore--out of sight of shore, but still pretty darned close.  I've also sailed in a notorious boat-eating area where we lost a kayak we were towing to some pretty powerful wave action.  So I have a basis of comparison.  I'm not sure that someone who hasn't been on a boat small enough to be overshadowed by a waves and completely surrounded by water with no sign of land can get it.  If you're one of those folks, I'd be curious to hear if this book would do it for you.  He's already referred to my favorite-est book on the subject, Heavy Weather Sailing.  Wee!

The Murderer Next Door
I'm poaching when I read this book.  I have a habit of picking up stuff that my DH is reading and then getting sucked in.  Every time I read a book about crime and human nature that starts to break the barriers between what we think criminals think and do vs. what they actually think and do, I can't help but get the feeling that our legal system is screwed up.  I think the checks and balances work okay, but the actual laws and stuff--it's like trying to run a space program using only Newtonian physics, a 1950's machinist shop and a bank of calculators.  You can hobble along, but it becomes impossible and overwhelming very quickly.  Anyway, this book is no different in that regard.  Where it is different from other books I've read on this stuff is how it connects murder back to me, personally.  Some of the insights so far are depressing, but most are extremely enlightening.  This might end up on my list of highly recommended books.  We'll see how it pans out.

Lieutenant Hornblower
'Cause I need some salt sea in my veins.  Always good to remember each ship is a small community connected to a larger community of many ships, and that gets political fast, and that's without taking the navy stuff into account.  I'm loving the way the author uses characters to describe his protagonist in extremely immodest ways.  After reading more subtle prose for a long time, it's a lot like having someone shout in my face that I must love this character he's so awesome!  I don't care, though.  The story is good, and besides, reading prose like this is it's own fun.  Just like I enjoy a really broad range of music, I enjoy a broad range of writing styles.

The Vegetarian Myth
Talk about courage.  A former vegetarian (20 years of the life choice, so we're not talking someone who dipped their toes in) exposes her throat and her research on what plant-based dietary choices actually do to the planet, with an occasional mention of what it does to the human body long-term.  (I had no idea there are doctors that specialize in treating former vegans.)  I know that just the idea of this book will earn her death threats and the undying hatred of lots and lots of people, and yet she wrote it.  Bravo.  Also, unbelievably fascinating.  I haven't checked up on her research so I can't comment on that, and sometimes her feminist views set me back on my heels a bit (and I consider myself a feminist--but yowza!) but I'm not caring about the details and whether she's right or wrong on a given point.  I'm not trying to save my friends, or even save the planet, though I care deeply about both and take care of them the best I can.  Nor am I trying to prove or disprove anything to anyone.  It's just an incredibly entertaining book.  It can be mind-bending, in a good way, to read a call to arms in the name of environmentalism to start eating responsibly-raised meat.  It's also a scathing criticism of current agricultural methods, including so-called organic agriculture.  Another potential book for my list of highly recommended books.  

I've also got a couple of technical manuals on gardening that I'm paging through, a book on architecture through the ages, and a dictionary of architecture.  I read them, but I'm not reading them end to end like a regular book, so I'm not technically counting them.

That reminds me, I need to pick up that Acorn book again.  I got sidetracked by other stuff.

So many books, so little time ...

Friday, September 02, 2011

Money Growing on Trees?

We had a fun time at our local fair. One of my favorite things was the Pirate Parrot Show. If they show up at a fair near you, be sure to go.

I totally have to train my animals to bring me money like this.