Well the first days are the hardest days; don’t you worry anymore

So, the Chromebook, which still lacks a name. . .

Polaris Office has stooped to renting itself monthly, and — just no.  I therefore downloaded and rejected about a dozen other word processors from the Play Store, and was starting to suspect that Google was trying to quash all of the competition and force the unhappy author into Google Drive.

My last try was AndrOpenOffice, which I was warned might not be optimized for my device, and indeed it was a slow load.  Once down, however, it seems to be working just fine.  I’ll give it a thorough test drive, and if it continues to perform well, will upgrade to the pro version.

The other thing I did was download Eset for Mobile, which I figured would install itself and get to work, as it has on both my tablet and my phone — and there I was surprised.  Eset and Chrome seem to have some serious differences.  Who knew?

In other news, I’ve been going great guns on the short story which is not Fifth of Five.  At this point, I’m hoping that the novel will Grow Jealous of my involvement with Another Narrative and start Throwing Out Lures.  It’s happened before…

This morning, I went with Steve to the cardiologist, where we received the sad news that the doctor he’s been seeing for a while, who we both liked, personally and professionally, will be leaving on December 31.  Next appointment — new doctor.

After the cardiologist, we went to breakfast at Governor’s, and then came home.  I cleaned the cats’ water fountain, wrote 1,000 words on that side story, ate lunch and zipped off to yoga.

I’m taking Gentle Yoga, which I took before, at a different location and with a different teacher, and I must say, the two courses could not be more different.  This instructor focuses on keeping track of what your body is telling you, and on breath.  The former instructor scarcely spoke of breath, save an occasional reminder to the class to remember to breathe, and not to stretch too far.

I am tending to find the present course’s pacing a little slow; on the other hand, I’ve worked up a sweat by the end of it, so maybe I’ll do fast later.

. . .and I think that’s everything I’ve got right now, as I try to not keep too close an eye on the elections. . .

#

Today’s blog post title brought to you by The Grateful Dead, “Uncle John’s Band,” which has been my constant earworm for the last two days.  Here’s your link.  You’re welcome.

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Friday the Thirteenth

Excellent day; sunny and crisp.

I seem to have caught a cold; or a cold has caught me, so, in celebration, I’ve ordered in a pair of Mr. Bean’s Wicked Good Slippers and a flannel jacket-shirt lined with fleece, in orange plaid.  Because orange plaid was on sale, and brought the price down from Ruinous to Merely Outrageous.

What else?  I’ve meditated for two days in a row, been to the gym, and managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour.  I did sleep in this morning, but it wasn’t my fault!  Three coon cats ganged up on me and held me under the covers.

I have been remiss in mentioning here that Pinbeam Books has committed The Tomorrow Log to paper.  Here’s your link.  I note that it is also and has since 2011 been constantly available as an ebook from all the Usual Suspects, though Amazon seems unwilling to associate the two editions in its catalog.

I’ve been slowly slipping back into Fifth of Five, which does indeed seem to be aspiring to the working title Monkey Business.  We shall see.  In the meanwhile, I’m glad Neogenesis gave me all that practice in writing in chunks, ’cause that’s how this one wants to be written, too.  Yes, yes, I said never again.  The author is always the last to know.

Today, in honor of the cold, and despite sleeping in, I have placed NAP on the to-do list, along with the other glamorous tasks that fall to a working writer, such as cleaning the cat fountain, straightening away at least some of this stuff, doing the dishes, oh, and actually working on the manuscript.

I’ll try to get back to reporting progress, though a total word count isn’t really going to be possible — see writing in chunks, above.

Yesterday, then, I added 850 new words to the WIP and cleaned up some really rugged sentences.  The manuscript, in, I hesitate to say total, weighs in at something more-or-less close to 35,000 words.  This counts. . .cohesive chunks.

Everybody confused now?  Good.  Have a snippet:

The little Healer was not a monster, though he had wielded necessity like a surgeon’s knife, terrifying in his virtue.

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Tension, apprehension, and dissension have begun

Did you know, that “chaos” used to mean “a chasm, or abyss”?  I didn’t, but it works handily into today’s theme, which is. . .

Chaos, in the sense of disorder, confusion, turmoil, anarchy, and whatever you’re having yourself.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I have a chronic illness called depression.  It’s been a part of me for most of my life, and I have quite a number of coping behaviors that pretty often get me through a flare-up.  Sometimes, though, the coping behaviors just don’t do the trick, and I need to resort to brief periods of being medicated.  Happily, I do pretty well with a medication that doesn’t fog my thinky bits to the point of not being able to write, but it’s still medication, and, cat-like, I hate being interfered with, so I cut loose from the drugs as soon as I feel steady enough to carry on my ownself.

It occurred to me, after the last flare-up, that I needed, at this late stage in life, to expand my repertoire of coping skills, because the disease has learned how to circumvent a number of the classics.  And because I’m getting old enough that helping professionals will tend to stop listening to me, because — Old Lady Syndrome.  And because, yanno, we all need new challenges in our daily lives, to keep us. . .sharp, that’s it.

Sharp.

So, I began daily meditation, and took up a firm schedule of exercise, made the commitment to return to yoga, and established bed-time and wake-up time.  I started this when I was on meds, so I’d be in stride  when the medication was stopped, and — it was going pretty well.

Then, the schedule was somewhat interrupted by a vacation — and utterly shattered by family emergencies of the most disruptive sort imaginable.

I fell off the meditation wagon, thoroughly scrambled my exercise/yoga routine; bedtime and wake-up became fluid, and sleep was not always sound.  The nature of the emergency meant that I, and everyone I was in close contact with, were being constantly dosed with toxic levels of uncertainty, confusion, grief, and distress.

So, emergency — we got through it, did the needful — and came home.

One of the most pernicious aspects of this disease, depression, is that it immediately magnifies any small error you may have made into a Huge Life Failure, therefore making it harder to, say, go back to meditation or exercise:  You’ve already proved you’re a failure, unable to keep to the simplest schedule.  Why bother?  Who cares?  What a waste of time and space you are; why don’t you do everyone a favor, and just curl up and die?

. . .says the disease to yourself, and, honestly? it’s pretty devastating to hear that kind of talk: here’s your own brain telling you what an utter loss you are, after all.

You need to take a lot of deep breaths, and remember to stop and figure out by dead reckoning if it’s you, or the disease, talking.

We’ve been home a few days now, and I. . .notice the subtle signs indicating the approach of a flare-up.  I do not want a flare-up.  Truthfully, I could do with never being depressed again, ever.

So, this morning, I hit the gym. This afternoon, by ghod, I will meditate; it’s only 10 minutes, not a lifetime.  I can do this.  I’m registered for the next yoga class, which starts in two weeks.

And I need to remember to get to bed on time.  Or close to time.  Or, anyway, before 2 am.

And! I need to keep a weather-eye out — on me.  I think this is the part of the whole chronic disease thing that I hate the most.  I have to monitor myself; to weigh every moment of sadness, or disinclination to do a thing, or failure to find the Exactly Correct Word for the current WIP, to try to judge if there’s a flare-up on the horizon, or if I’m just having, as everyone does, a bad day.

So, anyway — Chaos.  Disorder is not my friend, not if I want to stay out of the chasm of depression.

. . .that shouldn’t be hard to remember.

Fingers crossed.

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Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Alfred Bester, who ‘way back wrote a novel called The Demolished Man, which may be worth your time, even in these enlightened times.

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Let the record show…

…that I did work today, which is notable, and now it is noted.

The work consisted of digging three holes, which isn’t as easy as you might think, those of you who unaccountably do not live on two acres of glacial moraine, or at the very least two acres of shale thinly covered with what we’ll call soil.

Why, you ask, was I moved to do work on a fine Maine morning when I ought to have been, um, writing?

Well, I’m glad you asked that question. Alert readers will recall that several days ago I acquired, in defiance of both the Lawn Guy’s Assistant, and the neighbor’s road-crossing, if not actually free-ranging chickens, plants for the Cat Garden, which has, through the direct intervention of said Forces of Nature more or less become a Weed Garden.

It had been hot and humid the last few days, not at all the sort of weather to encourage a sedentary and overweight author of more than middle years to go outside and dig holes in the garden.   So, I left the plants, in their pots, in approximately the locations I had chosen for their eventual homes.  I watered them each day, but they were looking sort of droopy and sad by this morning, so it was just very fortunate that today was gorgeously blue, and breezy, and dry, and of a temperature that someone who lives in Maine would find reasonable for July.

So! Three holes.  Not exactly in the locations previously chosen — did I mention we live on shale?  Also there are trees, and trees have roots.  Lots of roots.  No, really; look it up.

In between the rocks and roots, then — three holes.

One hole for the Cherry Pops Bee Balm which replaces the Murdered Bee Balm of yesteryear.  Bee balm attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and, well, bees.  This particular sort claims to be deer and mildew resistant.

One hole for the Wishing Well Plantain Lily, aka Hosta Wishing Well.  This plant attracts hummingbirds and has a mounding habit, so I envision a Mountain of Hosta in my future.

The third and final hole — actually the first dug — was for the White Frost Hemerocallis — aka a day lily with a curly yellow trumpet not only bigger than my head, but damn’ near bigger than Trooper.  It is two feet high.  Who can say no to a two-foot-high day lily that has flowers the size of a coon cat?  It’s big enough to be sentient.  Indeed, I have some hope that it will be writing next year’s book.

I will also mention here that I have received and have been testing various bug repellents.  It is in my mind to go with the least application that is still effective.  To that end, I began today with the bug repellent bracelet, fully expecting that I would need to come inside and upgrade.

In this, I was disappointed.  I did hear one rather insistent buzz, but closer inspection revealed the author to be a hummingbird, who was apparently under the impression that he was paying me for these plantings, and I could pick the pace up a bit, if I didn’t mind.  Or, given hummingbirds, even if I did mind.

So, having now made the record complete, I believe I’ll. . .

. . .do some work.

 

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I think of flying down into a sea of pens and feathers

So!  My new fountain pen arrived.  It’s gorgeous, and! it writes sooooo smooth on the gritty old yellow so-called “legal pad” paper which is my preferred paper.  The pen came with a converter, which I hadn’t realized, or I would’ve bought it a nice bottle of purple ink, instead of a box of black cartridges.  Maybe later.

What’s that, you say?   Picture?  How about a link, instead?

I went shopping after doing the gym thing this morning.  Since I had been putting this off for a while, I had rather a Lengthy List and only accomplished about half.  I fear that I am no longer the Lean Mean Shopping Machine of yore. . .In any case, I’ll try to finish up on Thursday.

One of the things I’ll need is!  Bug repellent.  Bugs find me very tasty (it’s like mosquitoes somehow know I have a lousy immune system) and I have it in my mind to be out in gardens and zoos and suchlike things, so bug repellent has moved to the top of the (remainder of) my list.  Can anyone recommend a good, not-hideously-poisonous-to-all-living-things-and-or-cancer-causing bug repellent that’s easy to apply and doesn’t smell bad? (not that I want the earth, or anything)

The other things I’ll need on Thursday are replacement plants for the Cat Garden, which, under the combined efforts of the neighbor’s chickens and the lawn guy’s assistant, has mostly become a Weed Garden.  The dragon flowers are still doing well, but the bee balm was ruthlessly cut off last year by the LGA, and did not, as I had. . .kind of hoped. . .come back.  The garden is now well under the limbs of the red maple, so I’m thinking some hosta (called Jimmy here at the Cat Farm, because I can never remember what the damned thing is called, and Steve said that The Murdered Teamster sounded more like a rock band than a plant), or maybe some more bee balm, if the LGA can be educated not to cut off their heads, or some other shade-loving plants.  And there’s one REALLY sunny corner where some day lilies might profit…

You see, I think, why I decided to Put Off Until Thursday what I did not finish today.

While I was shopping today, I must’ve seen about eight displays of those little three-sided spinner things, whatever they’re called.  Not having kids, or grand-kids, either, I hadn’t until recently realized that these were A Thing.  Back when I was a kid (and dinosaurs, &c), I used to have a continuous steel-link necklace that I used to spin while I was reading and/or studying, because — though I couldn’t’ve told you that at the time — it helped me concentrate.  My mother took it away from me, of course, because back then such things were Weird and Not Normal and therefore Not Done.

What an age we live in.

I also learned, just today, that I live in a teensy-tiny-vanishingly-small-economically-unsupportable bubble with, like six other people (and Steve, and the coon cats.  And probably even Scrabble, who does not suffer fools, in case that’s ever been in doubt) who believe in the social contract, the rule of law, repairing the infrastructure, and that a female Doctor Who is not the End of Civilization as we know it.  Who knew?

Anyway, home now to find that Steve had started the laundry, and is even now putting supper together.  After the meal, it’s — time to go to work, with a promise from the local weatherbeans of thunderstorms, maybe, this evening.

And on that note — y’all have a fine afternoon, ‘k?

Oh!  And here are Counting Crows, “Rain King.”

 

 

 

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Monday morning round-up

We’ve had something of a busy few days here at the Confusion Factory.

Last week, Steve graduated from cardio-gym and is now on the Third Phase, which is going to the cardio-gym early on Monday and Wednesdays and doing what he’s been doing, with the same personnel on-staff, but without the various measurements at the beginning, middle, and end of the session.  This means a change of schedule, including rising Much Earlier in the Day than I, personally, care to do, but that’s life.  I’ll be going to gym around Steve’s schedule — Tuesdays and Thursdays in the early hours, with refinement of the afternoon and evening hours as we go forward.  Since I have for all of my life been an evening/night writer, this may entail afternoon naps, which ought to please the cats.

In writing news, the page proofs for the Alliance of Equals mass market edition landed late last week, and have been added to the mix of Tasks to Be Done.  Also!  The first in a series of Lee-and-Miller Read Lee-and-Miller podcasts has been moved from Patreon to Splinter Universe LIVE.  You can listen to Steve read “A Night at the Opera” at this link.

We’ll be posting more of these to SULIVE, as they age off of our Patreon page, so remember to check back.

We are also, in light of the. . .substantial number of emails we’ve gotten from people who either want paper chapbooks, or the Excitement of the Annual Yule Chapbook, or want a return to Olden Times. . .

We cannot any of us return to Olden Times, so that’s right out.

But we can, perhaps, accommodate the wish for paper chapbooks, and even, maybe, for the Annual Yule Chapbook.

So, we’re running an experiment.  Amazon has a. . .program where those who have published ebooks with them may convert those ebooks into paper books.  This is an expensive process, as Amazon takes 40% off the top of cover price, and then charges printing costs from the author/publisher’s 60% royalty.  It’s also somewhat time-consuming, as is working with any template program that is based on Assumptions.  However!  With determination and enough wine, it can be done, as I proved this weekend by converting both Barnburner and Gunshy to paper books and putting them on sale.  The reason we chose these titles to experiment on first is that they convert into 5X8 paperbacks, which is an easy convert (part of the test was to see how “easy” easy was).  Based on my time and effort expended this weekend, we anticipate that converting to chapbook will be somewhat more time-consuming, though still doable.

We will, eventually, convert an actual Liaden chapbook, but that experiment has to wait in line behind work with a deadline attached.

For those interested, here’s the link to Barnburner.  (Which Amazon has decided to discount, so it will be interesting to see how that affects our royalty rates from them.)

Here’s the link to Gunshy.

The downside to this, besides the expense, is that these books would only be available through Amazon, which is whimsical at the best of times and downright malicious at the worst.

So, there’s that.

For those who have been asking anxiously about progress on Fifth of Five. . .progress progresses, more slowly than I had anticipated, but picking steam up as the new meds kick in.

. . .and I think that catches us all up.

Everybody do your best to enjoy Monday, OK?

Let the coon cats lead the way.

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The bread also rises

In this case, too much.

Having finally achieved mastery of my form in the Pullman Class, I decided, naturally, to vary.  I thought that it would do no harm, and possibly significant good, if I were to make the honey-oatmeal-wheat bread that I’m partial to, and bake it in the Pullman Pan, thus creating Square Sandwich Bread.

So, I did that.  The recipe for the honey-oat bread normally makes two one-pound loaves; the Pullman Pan accommodates one really big loaf.  Things went pretty much as I expected that they would to the point where I put the bread into the oven.

With a Pullman Pan, you cover the bread for the first 25ish minutes of cooking, to keep the bread square, taking the lid off in the last 10 minutes in order to brown the top of the loaf.

When I opened the oven to take the lid off, I noticed that the bread dough had overflowed and there were curlicues of bread on the oven rack.  Not good.  I took the pan out in order to remove the lid — and it took Steve holding the pan and me pulling on the lid to finally get it off.  The bread crust, of course, was torn.

Back the pan went into the oven for the final 10 minute browning, came out,  thumped appropriately hollow, and went onto the cooling rack.

. . .and, as it began to cool, it began to. . .sag.

Experienced bread makers will know what this means.

Yeah, not done in the middle.

So, as an experiment, for Science!, we have a success, in that we tried.  Obviously, if I wish to continue on this course, Tweaking will be required.

For the moment, then, since we’re writing a book and all like that, the honey-oat will go back to being baked in its two regular bread pans, whence it emerges tasty and, more importantly, cooked through.  And I will continue to bake Pullman Bread for Steve, so that sandwiches can happen.

#

Writing has been going forth, with about 14,000 more-or-less usable words written in the last four days, which is, Ladies and Beans, what can happen when the calendar is clear and you turn off Facebook and Twitter.

It also helps if you know where this bit goes, because it’s one of the foundation shticks that convinced you to write this book in the first place.  Run while the route goes downhill, and all like that.

For those who dote upon numbers, Neogenesis — by which I mean the melded Part One, and the still-under-construction Part Two — now clocks in at plus-or-minus 82,400.  Which would be more exciting news if we were looking at a 100,000 word book, but at a projected length of 130/140,000 isn’t, so much.

Given the structure, I briefly flirted with SFWA’s lower limit for novels and an adding machine, but I’m not sure I can make it all come out even.  And 160,000 words is a LOT of words.

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Today, for the first time in a couple weeks, I go back to the gym, and hope not to collapse into a hacking heap on the treadmill.  After, there are errands, while I’m in town and all, and then home, for the midday meal, and so to work.

Tomorrow, I get my hair cut, which is Long Overdue, and then things are pretty much clear on the calendar/writing front until November 6, which, in addition to being the Death of Daylight Savings Time, is our wedding anniversary.  Not sure what we’ll do about that.  Possibly put off the celebration until Tuesday (since we Early Voted), and run away from the news, upcountry.

End of the week is Comic Con, which will be fun for All the Usual Reasons, and also because I’ve Completely Missed ever being in the state of Rhode Island before.

So that’s today’s episode in the Exciting Life of a Writer.

Hope y’all are doing well — and welcome to November.

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“Surely, you’ll do better to appeal to Captain Waitley in this matter?”

“Possibly so, sir, but — there’s a. . .complication.”

“Of course there is.  There can be nothing other than complications, in Captain Waitley’s orbit.”

joining-dad-in-the-basket-oct-25-2016

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I wish I had a chance here holding your hand

So, today, I took all of our titles on Smashwords off-sale.  They say it will take between one and three weeks for their various channels to catch up with this action.  In the meantime, all Lee-and-Miller, and Lee, self-pubbed titles remain available from BN and Amazon.

In the spirit of progress, I have converted three ebooks, so they’ll be ready to go up into the sales channels through Draft2Digital when Time has Become.

Other than that, I went to the gym, and the grocery store, and was grumpy because outstanding checks have yet to arrive.  Yes, I know you’re tired of hearing about outstanding checks not arriving.  I am, too.

Today, it was hot; tomorrow is going to be hot, too, which will be good for the beach, but perhaps not for the residents of the Cat Farm, who were rather melty today, even with the windows open and a nice breeze running through.  Tomorrow, we may have to condition the air.  *sigh*

And! Today’s Off the Wall Question is:  Has anyone who reads here been to a performance by Hatsune Miku?  I’d like to hear about your experience and impressions.

Edited to Add:  I am remiss!  As of right now, Alliance of Equals has 98 reader reviews on Amazon!  Only 102 more to reach our goal of 200!  Thanks to everyone who has taken the time, and expended the energy!

. . .I fear that’s all I have today.

Hope y’all are having positively brilliant days, wherever you are.Belle and Trooper July 14 2016Today’s blog post is brought to you by Abney Park, “Breathe.”  Here’s your link.

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I can climb the highest mountain; I can cross the widest sea

No checks in today’s mail, either.

Well.

*looks at pile of bills on desk*

This is going to be interesting.

#

Moving on — Answers to questions from the Roll Call!

*Sword of Orion was written as a work for hire — that means the publisher owns the copyright, the ideas, and the characters. The publisher went out of business after releasing the first books in about six series, one of which was the Sword of Orion series.  Therefore!  No more Sword of Orion stories.

*Er, no, I actually wouldn’t move to Liad, if I could.  For one thing, as a non-Liaden, I would be beneath most people’s notice, not to say contempt, except if I managed to insult somebody, which the odds are good that I’d do so within ten minutes of achieving the Port.  I’d rather go someplace where my life expectancy would be longer than ten minutes.

*The Gathering Edge will not be published until May 2017, that is correct.  In the larger scheme of things in publishing, that’s really hardly any time at all.  No, I’m afraid we can’t write much faster than we already do.

#

Today, I learned things.

I learned that orange sticks (aka “cuticle shapers”) are now made out of plastic.  They used to be made out of orange wood, but apparently not anymore.

I learned that I can prop my tablet up on the little ledge built into the treadmill at the gym and read as I walk.  And! I don’t have to worry about walking into a wall, when I do.

I learned that Microsoft thinks that a $1,000 tablet can “replace” my laptop, which costs 1/3 of that amount.  Research indicates that it does neither the dishes nor laundry, so I fail to see the advantage.

I also learned that my fingers — my fingers, not my wrists, which is usually the case — apparently took a beating yesterday, and if I’m a Schmott Guy, which really isn’t the way to bet, I’ll give them a break today.

#

Do I have any Hollywood historians here, or perhaps a Mae West aficionado?  I was wondering if she actually needed the stick she often had with her, or if it was only a fashion accessory.

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Don’t forget that Steve and I will be at Flights of Fantasy in Albany, New York on Tuesday, July 5 to celebrate Alliance of Equals’ book day!  Be there or be somewhere else!

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In other news, I wrote about 2,200 words yesterday, for a net gain to the manuscript of. . .33 words.  I think that we are now at an end of Backward Growth, and will be proceeding from here on in a forwarder direction.

You heard it here, first.

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Progress on Book the Next
36,569/100,000 words OR 36.57% complete

“I believe it wished me to know that Theo might be in a pickle.”

Miri snorted a half-laugh, and he smiled.

“Yes,” he said.  “Precisely so.”

Sprite overseeing the side woods June 23 2016

Today’s blog title comes to you courtesy of Mr. John Parr, “St. Elmo’s Fire/Man in Motion”.  Here’s your link.

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In which adulting is hard

So, yesterday was a dead loss, which I mostly spent huddled on the couch, regretting my birth.  Man, these are some fun meds.  The Crack Coon Cat Nursing Team sprang into action and, around about suppertime, I was feeling closer enough to the thing to actually finish my WorldCon survey, and edit the interview.

Lest you think they’re slackers, the CCCNT also took the night shift; at one point, I woke up to find Sprite draped across my stomach, Belle curled on my shoulder, and Trooper stretched out along the length of me. It must have been cozy, because I went right back to sleep.

This morning, we appear to have reached an accord, whole-body-wise, and! the swelling and redness have definitely diminished.  We’re not out of the woods yet (and still six days to go with the meds), but apparently we’ve found the path.

Obviously, there will be no pickleball for me, today.  I had held out some idea that I would go to the gym and putz about (gently) with the strength machines, but…I will err on the side of conservatism, stay home, catch up the work I should have done yesterday, and get on with today’s business, most of which can be done from the Comfy Chair.

I do need to call my boss at the hospital, explain the situation, and figure out how we want to handle my Wednesday shift.

. . .and I think that’s all the news from the Cat Farm for the near past.  Hope y’all have a good start to your week.

Hey! Whatcha doin?
Hey! Whatcha doin?
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