Category Archives: Life

Spring (almost)

Random weekend thoughts.

It’s starting to feel like spring. I’m starting to get out of the house.

It’s light enough now that I can sit on the deck for a little after work. I have to wear a coat, but it’s worth it. Seriously: I’m nature-powered.

(And it was light enough before they stole my hour. Insert semiannual rant here.)

Saturday I pulled my bike out of the garage and make sure it’s working. It’ll be time to start biking to work soon. I wanted to go for a ride, but of course it started raining at exactly the wrong time. Sunday I biked to the library, and it waited to rain until I was on the way back, half a block from home. Nice thing about biking is I notice more: white snowdrops, bright yellow crocuses, red cardinal on bare branches.

At the time I’m writing this, biking to the pool Monday morning is still up in the air.

I also finally spread compost on the front vegetable bed. Last fall, I covered part of the bed with a huge pile of compost, but since the chard was still growing, that half of the garden had to wait. Finally got around to it this weekend. And while digging up the old rotting chard roots, I discovered that two of the stems have tiny green leaves on them. So I left them. Maybe they’ll grow.

Pretty soon it’ll be time to plant new things. I need to review my seed supply and see what I need to buy. Chard, for sure.

In non-outdoors related news: I bought a sewing machine. It does a bunch of stitches that I don’t know why I would ever use them, and it has a needle threader that thoroughly confused me when I was trying to read the threading diagram until I realized I could ignore it and thread the needle myself. And a cool thread cutter on the side that means I don’t have to keep hunting for scissors. Also, a huge button for reversing (the button on the bottom right in the photo). I will never forget how to backstitch with this thing.

Brother Sewing Machine LS-590

Yesterday I played around with the stitch length and width and thread tension dials to see what would happen, and tried out half the stitches. Also speed: it goes scary fast and makes the whole table shake.

Next weekend I can start a new tote bag, since I also got fabric for three projects: two more tote bags and another pair of pajama pants (which we’re making in class now). Next week I have to go back to the fabric store for t-shirt fabric for the second part of this class.

This also required lots of moving boxes around in the basement so I’d have space to set up the ironing board (no, I don’t iron) and Jeremy’s old card table.

Saturday, dinner was Red Wine Pinto Beans with Smoky (Maple) Bacon, which was really good. Next time I’d use less red wine. And preferably, not maple bacon, but that was what we had. I also made whole wheat biscuits to go with it, which I haven’t made in a long time. I love bread and bread-like things, and I don’t eat them much, so these biscuits were awesome.

Also, the usual writing stuff. Revised a couple flash stories, submitted stuff, wrote more on a longer story, wrote more on the current novel, did some exercises. Etc., etc.

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On the Ephemeral Nature of Snow People

Or, what I accomplished this morning before work

  • Shoveled the driveway
  • Built a snowman taller than me
  • Took my car in for service
Gloomy fellow.

Gloomy fellow.

He's taller than the house.

He’s taller than the house.

Some of these were more important than others. Some of them were more fun than others. Some of them were more successful than others.

Sad headless snowman.

Sad headless snowman.

I’m glad I got the photos before it fell over. Though I wish I’d gotten J out there with a camera faster so I could prove it was taller than me.

Unrelated: This whole no blogging schedule thing isn’t working. I’ll be back Monday to restart my regular blogging plan.

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That’s not fair! There was time now!

The blog is on sick leave today.

I’m feeling much better after a mild cold, but I’ve got stuff to catch up on. Every time I tried to read or think, it just didn’t work, so I spent the afternoon watching old Twilight Zone and Doctor Who episodes.

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Christmas vacation by the numbers

We have returned to the dark, gray-and-white winter from warmer, sunnier Houston. The midwest is welcoming us home by snowing.

Relatives seen: 12. Much thanks to the San Antonio folks for making the trip!

Lemons brought back: 5. Plus an eggplant.

Lemons still growing in my parents’ back yard: Dozens. Also, several huge, juicy oranges.

Types of meat eaten at Tradicao, a Brazilian restaurant: Six–filet mignon, the house special beef, salmon, chicken wrapped in bacon, pork with parmesan, and some other kind of beef.

Piano pieces played: 3. Canon in D, which I’ve finally relearned from my fifth-grade lessons; O Come All Ye Faithful, which I’m still working on; and The Swan from the Carnival of the Animals, which I just bought from when I decided I want to keep playing the piano.

Books read: 2-3. A fluffy mystery (Death Threads) and the second Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, which I borrowed from the first-grader on Christmas Day. Plus most of Character, Emotion, & Viewpoint, which I thought I had read before but seem to have been misremembering.

Present-opening events: 3. Once with the San Antonio group, once with just my parents, and once with the nephews.

Movies seen: 3. The Hobbit was really good, barring a few false steps (too much action). We watched Psycho and Plan 9 from Outer Space as well. The less said of the latter the better.

Types of cookies eaten: 6? As always my favorites were my mother’s Mexican wedding cookies. I also liked my aunt’s frosted lime-flavored Christmas trees and my sister-in-law’s mint brownies. I’m glad I didn’t do any baking of my own this year.

Recipes sampled from Modernist Cuisine at Home: 2, microwave-fried parsley and eggplant parmesan.

Stories revised: About a half.

Novel scenes written: Approximately 5, at varying levels of detail.

Times I wondered how we could fall of a cliff if it’s looming over us, which means we must be at the bottom of it: At least twice.

Raccoon invasions in our absence: NONE

Happy New Year! May your 2013 be full of food and books and empty of raccoons.


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Vacuuming with big cats

I’ve been stubbornly insisting that I’m doing Nanowrimo, despite my paltry word count so far and my job still being very busy.

However, this weekend my brain had had enough, and it pulled out a sure fire weapon to get me to admit I’m not doing Nano: “Elizabeth,” my brain said, “You need to upgrade to Mountain Lion NOW.”

My brain is more clever than me, and quite persuasive, so that’s what I did. This required:

* making a backup disk image of my current system, because, um, I never made an official backup of this computer, which I got three years ago, and didn’t have the space to re-use the partition I’d used for my previous computer to make a real backup

* a trip to Best Buy for a new hard drive because I really should have a backup other than Time Machine. This included a bunch of other errands too. Like new socks, and a haircut, and the last of my Christmas shopping. Plus writing breaks at Panera and Starbucks (see, brain? I got work done despite you!)

* making many backups of the computer and my working files, plus a bootable clone just in case I had to go back to Snow Leopard or find a program that only works under Snow Leopard

* the actual installation. Step one: download the upgrade. Step two: go jogging while it’s downloading. Step three: Install. Step four: yardwork while the installation is going.

* Checking all my important applications to make sure they still work. Downloaded a new version of my password manager because that one broke. So far it seems to be the only one, and I got all my data back.

* Making a new backup of the new system like I should have three years ago. Because I don’t really want to lose everything.

So far I like it. New software stuff to play with, what’s not to like? Except now it’s all set up, and I have to find another way to procrastinate.

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Goodbye, Ricky

I do feel bad about this.

trapped raccoon

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Home Sweet Home, Plus Raccoon

J and I are back from a weeklong vacation in Toronto. The muffler fell off my car halfway across Michigan, I worked remotely for three long days and felt bad for not doing more, and a raccoon fell down our chimney while we were gone, raided the basement pantry, destroyed the master bedroom miniblinds, and pooped on the living room carpet.

It was the best vacation ever!

In all seriousness, it was great to spend time with J’s parents, and World Fantasy was excellent (more on that later). Also, I’m always worried that I’ll come home to a burglarized house so finding that our intruder stole only food was not so bad.

Except, we don’t know how the raccoon got out…so it might still be in the house. Probably the basement. So we’re camped out in the guest room (we had the door to this room closed while we were gone) and tomorrow we’ll see if anything in the basement moved around since this evening.

The raccoon ate a huge amount of rat poison, so if it didn’t get out again we’ll probably find it in a few days. I am so looking forward to that! (Edit: Apparently it climbed back up the chimney–J went up on the roof this morning and found a bag of dried strawberries inside the top of the chimney.)

On a completely unrelated note: Dear Americans, please vote tomorrow if you haven’t already! I won’t pretend I don’t care who you vote for–choose the candidate who will keep raccoons out of my house.

(J says: “I’m J—, and I approve this post.”)

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Suddenly, Home Repair

I had nice plans for yesterday after tennis league–the usual weekend yardwork, and then sitting on the deck in the 70-degree weather while getting some work done.

Instead, when I was about half done picking chard, J hit a snag with his minor painting job, and I ended up on a 45-minute trip to Home Depot for wood filler. And then I had to use the wood filler before it got too dark to see. And of course, when I was putting things away afterwards, I found an unopened tub of wood filler in the garage cabinet. So that was a wasted trip.

On the other hand, we’ve now had some practice removing the glass and screen from our new windows. Since the bit we were painting was above the window, we leaned the ladder through the opening. Worked pretty well. And we had a late dinner, so I did get to sit on the deck before it got too dark. (Also: roasted baby artichokes. Yum.)

This morning I skipped swimming to sand, but painting will have to wait for a few days, since it’s storming now.

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Signs of Fall

* My car windows were frosted over this morning. J and I had the usual conversation about whose turn it was to drive, I grudgingly agreed to drive, and then we looked at my car and he drove (his car lives in the garage). Cue me being secretly glad we were running late and I didn’t have to scrape my windows.

* I am wearing knee socks with my skirt. This makes me sad.

* Yesterday morning, I was revising a story out on the deck. Only made it through one scene before my hands and tea got cold.

* So many leaves. I was up on the roof Saturday and pulled leaves out of the gutter under the hawthorn, which J had done last weekend. It’s almost done dropping leaves, which means it’s time for the rest of them to start.

I forgot to cover my plants last night, and didn’t have time to check them this morning. I hope they’re ok. There are a bunch of green tomatoes on the vines.

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Back from Worldcon

Had a nice drive home. My detour to Trader Joe’s took me through a forest preserve, which was a nice change from corn fields. Though I did pass plenty of those later.

Had a great time at the con. Spent time with old friends I don’t get to see often enough and met lots of wonderful new people. Didn’t go to a whole lot of panels, but the ones I did attend were, for the most part, interesting. Did I take notes? Not many.

Since getting home I’ve mowed the lawn and swept my deck. Now I’m doing laundry, finishing unpacking, waiting for dinner to be ready, and thinking about catching up on the internet. I’ve got a short story to trim, another to revise, another to write, a novel to write, and a small pile of critiques to do…in other words, life is back to normal.

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