On changes and being older than dirt*

So, yesterday, I bought shoes.  And the clerk who was helping me with this project, commented on the laces for the Athletic Shoes, which are kind of a soft, stretchy material.  They reminded me instantly of something I haven’t thought of for years, and I said, “Oh, they’re like the jersey loops that you use to make potholders.”  She stared at me.  I tried again, because, honestly, I never learn:  “You know, when you were a kid, you had a bag full of jersey loops and a little metal loom, and you stretched the loops one way and then wove other loops through them and made so many potholders not even your grandmother wanted more?”  If possible, her stare got blanker, though she produced a tentative, but willing smile.  “Never mind,” I said; “cool laces.”

But!  That’s not why I called you together today.

Today, Steve and I let the WorldCon know that we will not be attending.  We’ve had to cancel out of the last several worldcons, for various reasons, but what makes this particularly poignant, is — we have no science fiction conventions on our schedule at all, for the first time since. . .1997.  Not sure how I feel about that.  On the one hand, we are kind of busy here on the home front for the next while.  On the other, con travel had become, if not a constant, then a unremarkable event in our lives.  It’s going to feel odd to stay home.  Maybe we can produce another vacation; the last one was a lot of fun.  And, Steve has decided to join me at the National Carousel Association Convention in September, which may scratch the con-going itch, a little.

Which leads me to the topic of Changes.  Steve and I have been through some Changes, starting with his becoming a Bionic Being in January 2011.  Not all of the Changes have been profound, and sometimes we went months at a time with hardly any Change at all, absent The Usual.

Around the middle of 2015, things started to heat up, with Steve’s stepfather, whose health had been fragile for several years, beginning to fail more seriouisly, requiring several family meetings, and trips to Maryland, to try to plan for the best good of Pete and Steve’s mother.

Pete died in the fall of 2016; soon after that, Steve was hospitalized for a cardiac event, and was forbidden to drive for six months.  Right after he got his wheels back — his mom began to fail dramatically.  More trips back and forth to Maryland for him, while I held the home front.  During one such separation, I fell ill with. . .Something. . .which changed my metabolism in odd ways, and before I was fully recovered, it was necessary to make one last trip to Maryland, to tell Mom good-bye, and see her placed properly next to Pete.

Just when we were beginning to accommodate that Change, we up and bought a house, which is Changing our lives in all kinds of amusing, frustrating, and unexpected ways.

I hadn’t realized that we’d had such a. . .busy last couple years until I was putting the files back into the file cabinets, which gave me an Annual Overview.  Apparently we are entering that Time of Life where Change will be the rule, but I hope Our Personal Changes will slow down just a bit, and give us so time to find our feet.

. . .and that’s what I’ve got today.

Hope you — yes, you — are enjoying the day.

_______
*I was going to use a Frank Zappa quote to title this blog post, but it turns out Frank Zappa didn’t say that, which is just so exactly like him, I can’t even.  However!  He did say something else, which I share with you because I can:  “There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe.  And its shelf life is longer.”

Day Off

So, today, I was scheduled for the mammogram following up January’s visit to Eastern Maine Medical Center’s Cancer Center in Bangor.  Happily, the follow-up was done at our local hospital, which is now exactly 3 minutes from our house.  Preliminary reading of the 3D picture indicates no change/no problem, so I get to do it again in December, to see if I’m three times lucky.

After the mammogram, Steve and I took the day off, as, in our opinions, we had earned a day off.  We drove down to Old Orchard Beach (the new house is one! half! hour! closer to the ocean!), where the shape of the beach has changed, under the pressure of the several violent storms over the winter.  We walked a little, observed the progress of the installation of the new rollercoaster in Palace Playland (Sea Viper.  Really?), and eventually drove down to Camp Ellis, where the damage is. . .considerable, and rather shocking.

Eventually, we wound up in Kittery, where we turned around, sort of, arriving in York via back roads, and finally pausing at the Maine Diner for a late lunch of Maine-style crabcake and potato salad.

We paused at the Maine Mall to buy new shoes, which both of us have been needing for some time, and I find to my considerable joy that my beloved Dansko oxfords, which was discontinued several years ago, had merely been taken off the market briefly so that they could be made to accept a variety of orthopedic devices.  They are now back!  And yes, I bought a pair to replace the pair I have been wearing despite I shouldn’t — and also a pair of sneakers, though at that price, I ought to find — ah.  Athletic Shoes.

We are now home, having stopped at the grocery to take on needed supplies, and I’m about to finish my day with some meditation followed by a glass of wine.

Tomorrow, is the rumored delivery of the long-anticipated pantry.  If it does, indeed, arrive, it may be installed by Friday.  *fingers crossed*

Beyond that — tomorrow, we go back to work.

And that? Is all I’ve got.

Everybody have a good evening

Books read in 2018

28. The Talisman Ring, Georgette Heyer (re-re-re-read; read aloud with Steve)
27. The Moon-spinners, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
26. The Cat Who Went Underground, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
25. Winterglass, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (e)
24. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
23. The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (e)
22. The Persian Boy, Mary Renault
21. Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
20. Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey
19. Woman Without a Past, Phyllis A. Whitney (e)
18. The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Anne Noble (e)
17. All Systems Red, Martha Wells (e)
16. Burn Bright, Patricia Briggs (e)
15. The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
14. Kiss of Snow, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
13. Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik (e)
12. His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik (e)
11. The Cat Who Played Post Office, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
10. The Faded Sun: Kutath, CJ Cherryh (e)
9.  Emergence, CJ Cherryh (read aloud with Steve)
8.  The Faded Sun: Shon’jir, CJ Cherryh (re-read) (e)
7.  The Faded Sun: Kesrith, CJ Cherryh (e)
6.  My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
5.  The River Bank, Kij Johnson (read aloud with Steve)
4.  Still Life, Louise Penny
3.  Thick as Thieves, Megan Whalen Turner
2.  The Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch (e)
1.  Romancing the Werewolf, Gail Carriger (e)

In which there are announcements

So, the next Liaden novel — Fifth of Five/Accepting the Lance.  After after close consultation with the characters, and of course the cats, Steve and I have spoken with Madame the Agent and  Madame the Publisher, and — we have agreed upon a January 2019 delivery date*.

Madame the Publisher allows us to know that the thirtieth anniversary edition of Agent of Change will be on sale on October 30, 2018.  We will be speaking with Mr. Blyly to find if he thinks the Uncle will find it possible to take pre-orders for signed copies of that edition.

Madame also lets us know that A Liaden Universe® Constellation: Volume Four has been penciled into the schedule for Summer 2019.

In not unrelated news, we have consulted with our bank account and our qe’andra and — we will not be attending WorldCon this year.

We will instead be badgering the contractors of Central Maine to paint and do small repairs at the Old Digs so that it can be shown and (we hope speedily) sold.

Steve and I apologize for being the authors of these inconveniences, but — necessity is.

In new house news, we have today put the rug down in the living room, signifying — something.  Probably, boredom with having to dodge around it’s rolled up bulk every time we wanted to open the side windows.

Scrabble celebrated The Event with a dance composed for the occasion:

Here’s a picture of the whole rug, with the Mencken table and the sofa:

Everybody have a good weekend.

__________________

*This is a delivery date, not a publication date.  “Delivery date” is when we turn the finished manuscript into Madame the Publisher.

Books read in 2018

27. The Moon-spinners, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
26. The Cat Who Went Underground, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
25. Winterglass, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (e)
24. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
23. The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (e)
22. The Persian Boy, Mary Renault
21. Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
20. Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey
19. Woman Without a Past, Phyllis A. Whitney (e)
18. The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Anne Noble (e)
17. All Systems Red, Martha Wells (e)
16. Burn Bright, Patricia Briggs (e)
15. The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
14. Kiss of Snow, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
13. Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik (e)
12. His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik (e)
11. The Cat Who Played Post Office, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
10. The Faded Sun: Kutath, CJ Cherryh (e)
9.  Emergence, CJ Cherryh (read aloud with Steve)
8.  The Faded Sun: Shon’jir, CJ Cherryh (re-read) (e)
7.  The Faded Sun: Kesrith, CJ Cherryh (e)
6.  My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
5.  The River Bank, Kij Johnson (read aloud with Steve)
4.  Still Life, Louise Penny
3.  Thick as Thieves, Megan Whalen Turner
2.  The Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch (e)
1.  Romancing the Werewolf, Gail Carriger (e)

In which there is a Story Bundle and other things of lesser interest

Today! — Well.  Last night, SFWA released its Gigormous Space Opera bundle through StoryBundle.  There’s a bunch of good reading here, and, boy! what a bargain!

Here’s your link.

You’re welcome.

In other news, we here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory still away the arrival of the pantry, which is rumored to be on course for delivery next Thursday.  Or maybe Friday.  Anyway, it should be installed by the end of the month and we will be fully accoutred.

We still are not entirely moved out of the Old Digs, which needs to happen soon, so we can get it cleaned, and painted, and the rug in what used to be my office replaced, and on the market, as paying two mortgages is, well.  Tiresome.

Tomorrow sees the grand return of the War Engineer, who will reinstall the now-repaired screens and frames, and also help me install a bulletin board where we can post upcoming deadlines and other business and personal news of note, and I can feel organized again.

I also anticipate the arrival of an installer of UV film tomorrow, who will give us a quote on installing, err, UV film in the clerestory windows in my office, and also in the large windows in the living room.

For those following the saga — the pool is gone, leaving a circle of packed sand and a stray volleyball behind.  The team that removed the pool also kindly took away all the paraphernalia of the pool (with the possible omission of the beach ball; I seem to have lost track of the beach ball), so we don’t have a shed full of toxic chemicals down back, only a shed full, as I am given to understand, wasps.

All the cats continue to roam the house and intermingle; there has been no bloodshed, nor scarcely a harsh word uttered.

And, now, having taken these brief moments to update y’all on our doin’s, I’m going to return to the Comfy Chair and the page proofs for The Gathering Edge.

Books read in 2018

26. The Cat Who Went Underground, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
25. Winterglass, Benjanun Sriduangkaew (e)
24. The Cat Who Sniffed Glue, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
23. The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (e)
22. The Persian Boy, Mary Renault
21. Heart of Obsidian, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
20. Brat Farrar, Josephine Tey
19. Woman Without a Past, Phyllis A. Whitney (e)
18. The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Anne Noble (e)
17. All Systems Red, Martha Wells (e)
16. Burn Bright, Patricia Briggs (e)
15. The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
14. Kiss of Snow, Nalini Singh (read aloud with Steve)
13. Throne of Jade, Naomi Novik (e)
12. His Majesty’s Dragon, Naomi Novik (e)
11. The Cat Who Played Post Office, Lilian Jackson Braun (read aloud with Steve)
10. The Faded Sun: Kutath, CJ Cherryh (e)
9.  Emergence, CJ Cherryh (read aloud with Steve)
8.  The Faded Sun: Shon’jir, CJ Cherryh (re-read) (e)
7.  The Faded Sun: Kesrith, CJ Cherryh (e)
6.  My Brother Michael, Mary Stewart (re-read) (e)
5.  The River Bank, Kij Johnson (read aloud with Steve)
4.  Still Life, Louise Penny
3.  Thick as Thieves, Megan Whalen Turner
2.  The Furthest Station, Ben Aaronovitch (e)
1.  Romancing the Werewolf, Gail Carriger (e)

Taking the day off

This morning, I’m still feeling like somebody hit me in the head with a 2×4. I will therefore today pilot my desk, catching up the banking and accounting, proofing The Gathering Edge, and pursuing the laundry.

As hard as it was getting (almost) everything shifted from the old house to the new, I’m very aware that that was the Easy Part. Wouldn’t do to run out of energy now.

In other news, and on the subject that what is old is new again. . .one of the things that I brought to the household when Steve and I decided to combine our resources was a Lane cedar chest. I can’t imagine that I actually bought my own cedar chest when I was in high school (there was a Big Promotional Push aimed at high school girls from the furniture store in town — all the girls of course had to start their Hope Chest in eleventh grade), so I’m going out on a limb and saying that I had the chest from my grandmother. It is, in any case, rather old, and scratched, from long and close association with cats.

For the last many years, the chest lived in our bedroom, holding blankets and comforters and the occasional wool sweater. However, the new bedroom is smaller than the old, and there’s no room for the cedar chest, which then fell back into my honor.

I put it under the side windows in my office, to the Vast Delight of Belle, promised to buy it a cushion, and that was the last I thought about it — until yesterday.

You see, for all of its many charms, my new office has no closet.  And while a lot of what used to be in my old office’s closet have been usefully redistributed to other parts of the house (notably, the closet in the Tech Room), I still have some things with me that could benefit from being put in a closet.  I was dithering over these things yesterday, and sat down on the cedar chest to mull over the situation, when it hit me.  I slowly stood up and stared down at the cedar chest, realizing that what this was?

This was A Big, Empty Box.  In fact, it is a place to put things that could benefit by being somewhere which is neither the floor nor the bookshelves.

Here’s a picture of my new closet:

Everybody stay dry.

Continuing to Progress

So, we’ve unpacked everything that can be unpacked at the moment.  Some of the boxes must await final disposition until the pantry arrives, realsoonnow.  My office has been unboxed and everything is someplace.  Perhaps not in the right place, but rearranging can be done in fifteen and twenty minute increments, in between other things.

The living room comes in two parts.  Part one, nearest the front door, is still a staging area, though there is considerably less staging going on.  Part two, the conversation and viewing area, still needs a couple things shifted out, and a rug laid.  We may actually get the rug down this weekend, whereupon there will be two rooms in the house which are designated Oases of Order, the second being our bedroom.

In terms of Real Work getting done, Steve is going through the page proofs for the thirtieth anniversary edition of Agent of Change (by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, while I’m proofing the pages for the mass market edition of The Gathering Edge (also by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller).

Steve and I went out to Lowe’s this morning (18 minutes from our house to Augusta! Good Ghod.  That used to be a 35 minute drive.) to shop for Those Silly Things that are required for town living.  A recycling bin; an outdoor trash can with a lid and wheels; room darkening shades for the bedroom; trashcans for the bathrooms — you know the drill.  I ran out of steam a couple hours in, so we came home and I had a two-hour nap before lunch.  Recruiting my strength now to get up and go tackle the laundry monster via the new machines.  Pray for me.

For the Fans of the Cats, I am pleased to report that Scrabble continues to frequent All the Rooms and has overseen much of the action, often in company with Belle.  Trooper and Sprite have regained their Coon Cat Sang-froid, and the cat castle in the corner of the living room, Part One, is enjoying good custom.

And that’s the news from the Evolving Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

What’re y’all doing this weekend?

In which we hurry up and wait

When last we saw the intrepid crew of the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, Warrior Princess Jasmine Sprite had indicated a need for fortifications against goblin incursions; having specifically identified a breach in the basement, behind the chimney and the water heater.

Management quickly summoned a War Engineer, who, upon studying the problem, suggested that the best approach was to cede the area to the goblins, building a strong wall with a goblin-proof door between the water heater, the furnace, the chimney and the rest of the basement.

This was done yesterday, and we are now the first on our block to have a Goblin Room in the basement.

Today, the War Engineer returns to rehang the crooked french doors in Steve’s office, and also to help us figure out how many screens we need to replace — and how.  In addition to six children, the previous owners had (according to the neighbors on the left) two Very Large and Somewhat Alarming Dogs (left-hand neighbors own a Shepard-mix, themselves, so clearly not simply anti-dog) and the dogs had a taste for window- and door-screens.  With summer, as we call it here in Maine, fast approaching, fixing screens is at the top of the list.

On Monday, we had word from Carpet Guy Two:  The Installer, who called at 7:45 am (!) to say that he would come by on Tuesday (yesterday) to install the carpets in the bedroom and my office.  As the last word had been May 17, we leaped at the opportunity of an early install, even though it meant moving a bunch of boxes (again).  Monday, I transferred all the files from the banker’s boxes back into the file cabinets, which cleared a lot of floor space, and also shelved books in the living room, clearing even more floor space.

Yesterday, Steve and I cleared the bedroom against the promised arrival of CG2 at 3 pm, and were just sitting down to lunch when the phone rang and it was?  Yes, CG2, reporting that he couldn’t make it today, but would definitely do the install on Wednesday (today).

We were disappointed, naturally, but we really can’t finish unpacking and getting back to work until those carpets are down — and, honestly, what choice did we have — so we said OK, and resigned ourselves to carpets on Wednesday.

Two hours later, the phone rang again. So very sorry, said CG2, but I won’t be able to make it to you until Thursday, but you will be my Very First Install, I Swear!

So, anyway.

Today, I await both the War Engineer and the guy from PoolTech, who I hope will take away the pool).  At the moment, I’m sitting in the Sole Comfy Chair free of Stuff (which happens to be in my office, where the windows are open to the morning breeze and the sunshine is pouring through the windows as thick and as sweet as honey), typing this blog post on Seventh Son the Chromebook.  As soon as I’m done here, I will continue reading the page proofs for the mass market edition of The Gathering Edge. . .

. . .which will be a pleasant return to the ordinary.

I have to keep reminding myself that we only just moved last Friday; haven’t even been a week in this new place.  There’s still a lot to learn, and to discover.  so far, I’ve had tutorials with the microwave, the refrigerator, the washer and the dryer.  Still need to do the basic coursework for the stove and the dishwasher.  I suppose this is what comes of living in a Time Bubble for the last 30 years. . .

Everybody stay safe.