Errands done; and so to work

Got up early to make the trek to Skowhegan and Steve’s eye doctor.  Matters have stabilized, on that front, so — yay! stabilization!

Came home via the post office — whereby hangs a tale, which I will now tell to you.

My Formal White Tiger pen was listed as Out for Delivery by the USPS on Saturday, but did not arrive.  It is not, I will note here, Completely Unusual for the Saturday delivery-person to fail deliver packages. She simply leaves them for the regular weekday guy, because — I have no idea.  Packages hard, I guess.

So, this morning, I looked back to the site to see if indeed my pen was listed as “out for delivery” with the guy who actually does his job, but found instead a note that delivery had been attempted on Saturday, late afternoon, but nobody was home, so a note was left.

Which was…pure, unadulterated mud. First, we were home all day Saturday.  Second, we got our mail ‘way early, as we tend to do on Saturday.  Three, nobody from the post office came by the house during the late afternoon.  Four, no note was left.  Five, it wouldn’t have mattered if there was anyone at home anyway, because the package didn’t require a signature.

I called the post office and explained the situation.  As it happened, the allegation that a note had been left meant that the package was not out for delivery, but was waiting at the post office, until I called with instructions.  Which I would have never known — because no note — if I hadn’t looked at the website and discovered this, um, deceit.

So, anyway, Deirdre, who was on the desk when I called, was as helpful as one woman could possibly be.  She listened to the problem, said she would go find the package now, if I would let her put me on hold.  It took her twelve minutes to find it, but find it she did, and, at my instruction put it at the front desk so when I came to pick it up, it would be easy for whoever was then on to find.

That part went according to plan.

So!  Eye doctor, post office, grocery store, and so to home, eagerly anticipating the meal Steve had started in the slow cooker before we left home, except!

There had been a minor power outage while we were gone.  Too short for the generator to take note of and kick in, but more than long enough to reboot the slow cooker, which started a count-down-to-cooking, which meant that?

Yes — you in the back?  Yes; thank you.  Exactly that.

Dinner wasn’t ready when we got home, starving.

Today’s dinner plans were therefore amended to hot dogs on French onion rolls, and leftover macaroni/veggie salad.  We’ll have today’s dinner tomorrow.

Speaking of the weather…today at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory it is 64F and raining.  The plants I put in yesterday are significantly perkier than they were at planting, so I’d say that timing was just about right.

As I mentioned in another venue, yesterday’s writing session produced! a True Epiphany (or as a friend says, with a bow in the direction of his spellchecker — an Apostrophe).  Epiphanies often require a lot of frogging, rearranging of scenes, re-assessing motivations, and just what seems to be a whole lot of backward motion when all instincts are screaming, “I have to make words, dammit!”

Experience teaches us that True Epiphanies almost always deliver a stronger, better story, if the writer is willing to bite her tongue and do the work.  Also, if the writer decides not to do the work?  The Epiphany has a way of forcing its point, later, when the amount of necessary frogging leaps from a few pages to a hundred, and sleepless nights and alcohol abuse enter the equation.

So, I’ve got some unwriting to do today — not much, happily, because we caught this in plenty too much time.  I may even get a start on rewriting.

And the roads, they roll.

Oh, and the new pen is gorgeous.  I’m really going to enjoy having it with me at Confluence.

Here, have a picture of both fountain pens, all snug in their traveling wallet:

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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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Gang aft a-gley

Ah, my dear friends, I have a terrible dilemma before me.  Both Olga and Natalia wish to be my wife; each has written several times to me of their passion. They are equally attractive; both are looking for love, but neither appears to be able to do laundry.

Well.  That’s really not a dilemma at all, is it?

So, today was an odd day.  One of those days where Things Got Done, but they were Entirely the Wrong Things.  On the other hand, a day that includes a milkshake and an unexpected ride in the country can’t be too far awry.

At least, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

I did make it to gym and waked for miles.  My “gym book” this go is a Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal, and a buncha other awards, soon, I’m told to be  Major Motion Picture.  Again.

AWIT was published when I was 10 years old.  Despite this, I didn’t read it (the first time) until I was an adult.  It was sitting on a table in EJ Korvette’s in…damned if I remember — Towson, probably.  Anyhow, remainder table, one among many of its own kind, and many others, not necessary of its kind.  I was waiting for my then-boyfriend to finish up doing something or another, and started to read AWIT, as the most interesting looking book on the table, and by the time he re-appeared, I’d tessered once already and wasn’t about to miss the rest of the story.  It was a buck I never regretted spending.

I read AWIT a couple times since then, but not for 20 years or so — found the sequels, but none of them held my interest beyond the first two pages. . .  So, yanno, life goes on; so many books, so little time; and all like that.

But AWIT is going to be coming out as a movie next year; this time, so the hype goes, done right, which means that lots of people who read it as kids, and who imprinted on it, are re-reading.  And some are being disappointed, and blogging about their disappointment (one more time from the choir: What an age we live in).  Now, by the time I’d read AWIT, I’d read. . .a buncha books, many of them science fiction/fantasy (Back when I started reading sf/f, you could easily read the monthly titles, and still have room left over for others kinds of books.  It just wasn’t possible, if you were any shakes of a reader at all, to read only science fiction.).  I thought AWIT was a good enough book.  Certainly, the Mrs. Whatsit, Who, and Which have pleasantly improved my inner life.  Meg irritated me — but Meg was supposed to irritate me.  Partly, after all, this was a story about Meg coming to terms with Meg, and if she could stand it, so could I.

I did have some reservations about the sudden appearance and utter acceptance of Calvin, especially the part where he liked Meg straight off.  Otherwise, he seemed like good enough kid.

Charles Wallace was being set up either as John the Baptist, or the new Christ figure, but I’d already read Perelandra, and Out of the Silent Planet and whassis — That Hideous Strength.  Plus, I’d been raised Roman Catholic.  All of which meant I was pretty good at ignoring the God-stuff and following the story along.

So, anyhow.  I read it back then; liked it well enough.  Read it a couple times more and liked it on rereads.

This time, I’m still liking it.  Meg perhaps annoys me less, but, then I know how the story goes, more or less.  I find that I misplaced a couple things on the timeline, but no big surprises so far. . .The Happy Medium, surprisingly or not, irritates me more than Meg does this time.  Hmm.

One of the reviewers I read was saddened by the fact that AWIT didn’t sing for them anymore, and blamed — the 60s (given a 1962 pub date, and its long history of rejection, AWIT was probably written in the late 50s).  The 60s, said the reviewer are just too unbelievable to a person of modern sensibility, and the story therefore suffers from its setting.

I will go on record here as saying that the 60s setting doesn’t detract from the story  at all, for this reviewer.  OTOH, I lived through the 60s.

So, that.

After gym, I ran the rest of the errands on my list — sadly, neither CVS nor Agway had any of the bug repellents I had pinned my hopes upon, so I wound up ordering from the internet, rather than shopping locally.

Agway did provide me with a ginormous lacy yellow day lily, a hug pot of bee balm and a Jimmy hosta with white bells (the hosta on the other end of the property have blue/purple bells).  I have probably under-bought, but the wallet gets a vote, and this will at least start a Cat Garden Renaissance.

For those keeping score at home, I remain Utterly Delighted with my new fountain pen, which has scarcely been out of my hand since I bought it.  So delighted am I, that I have purchased another Pilot Metropolitan, this is the formal White Tiger color scheme, and blue ink, so I will have a fine signing pen at Confluence.

And that?  Really is all the news that’s fit to print.

Everybody stay cool, or warm, as appropriate.

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Eeeee!

Just made reservations for three nights at Niagara Falls.

This is Going to Happen!

Eeeee!

Moving on now to Binghamton.

Local-to-Binghamton NY folks:  Why is there no Carousel Tour?  Why is there no Carousel Package offered by any of the local hotels?  Golf packages — eh.  You can take your golf packages and pitch  ’em straight outta Broome County for all o’me.  A carousel package, now? You got my interest.

And now with all that excitement out of the way. . .

Time to go to work.

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In Which the Authors Goof Off

There was a coin show in Augusta (Maine) today.  I have an occasional interest in coins, so Steve and I made the plan to get up “early”, go to Augusta, have breakfast at IHOP, go to the coin show, then come home.

Well.

We took Route 201 from Winslow to Augusta.  As we were motoring along, some little distance in front of us, on the left shoulder, a bald eagle spread it’s mighty wings, lifted about three feet off the ground, and — fell to the tarmac about two feet into the right lane.  He tried again, getting to the center line this time, and we could see that he had in his talons the limp body of woodchuck.

I had slowed considerably by this time, as one does, and the eagle, who had by this time attracted the interested attention of raven, tried it again.  This time he made it to the middle of the right-hand lane, about eight feet in front of the car, and there he made the Management Decision to leave breakfast where it was and come back when the damn nosy tourists had gone past.

I inched along, being careful not to run over breakfast, and slowly picked up speed.  A glance in the mirror showed breakfast still in the middle of the lane, and no sign of the eagle.  Happily, I suppose — at least for the eagle, and possibly the raven — it was early morning on Sunday, so there was a good chance of the eagle reclaiming his breakfast and hauling it to the trees on the right side of the road to eat in peace.

“Well,” said Steve, “there’s something you don’t see everyday.”

We eventually raised IHOP, where I ordered the spinach-mushroom-tomato-and-onion omelette, which turned out to be WAAAAAY bigger than my head, and, heeding the well-known warning, I ate about half, which was plenty enough, and set the rest aside.

Our waitress came by soon after, and, with a look of horror on her face, lowered her voice to ask, “Are you done?  Really?  Was it –” a furtive glance over her shoulder — “Was it gross?”

I assured her that it had been delicious, just much too much for me to eat, which seemed to puzzle her.  She was further saddened by I refused a box, by reason of the fact that we were going to be some hours away from refrigeration.

Sigh.

I need to figure out a better breakfast, if we’re going to eat often at IHOP, which appears to lack a senior menu.  Maybe ordering off the sides menu is the way to go. . .

Anyhow, breakfast eaten, we descended upon the coin show, where a vendor asked me what I collected.  I admitted to silver rounds, and he gave me a look of disdain.  “Silver rounds ain’t collectin’; it’s hoarding.”  Live and learn.  I came away with a copy of the 2017 Red Book, which I bought from the club table, to support the effort, and — despite my Mighty Vow that I would be buy nothing, I —

Let us backtrack a bit.

Those who have known me well — and, let’s face it, even fleetingly — know that I admire with great admiration the Connecticut quarter.  The one with the tree on the reverse.  Friends started to save them for me out of their pocket change; one of the vendors in Old Orchard Beach saved them for me; scant acquaintances, upon learning of my partiality, would drag their change out of their pockets to see if they had any “Tree Quarters.”

This all resulted in a rather embarrassing number of Connecticut quarters resident at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.  I laughingly told Steve that I had cornered the market on Connecticut quarters in order to drive the price up.

I thought I was kidding, but one of the things I learned today is that (according to two vendors, at least) most state quarters in Good condition are “worth” 50 cents.

The Connecticut quarter?  Is “worth” 90 cents.

So there you have it.

Oh.  And my purchase in addition to the Red Book?  A proof 1999 S Connecticut quarter.

I honestly didn’t think Steve was going to stop laughing.

Well.

After that, we stopped by Barnes and Noble, and then we went for a ride, coming home via Fairfield and the justly famous Belangers Drive-In, where we bought one haddock basket, one order of fried mushrooms, and brought it home to eat.  And it was plenty.  Then, we took a nap.

In all, a very satisfying day off.

How was your Sunday?

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In which the day off is worth the price

Yesterday, we finally, finally achieved the correct alignment of Good Weather, Clear Calendar, and Good Health, so Steve and I lit out for the coast in the still-new Subaru.

It was snowing very lightly as we headed down Route 201 toward Augusta, and we had Classic Rewind cranked on Sirius, which turned out to be brilliant, as we were able to sing along, loudly, with Blue Oyster Cult through “Godzilla.”

In Augusta, we stopped to take on breakfast the IHOP, Which. Was. Packed.  I can testify that the German lemon crepes are to die for, in case, yanno, you’re near an IHOP and in the mood for German lemon crepes.

After breakfast, we motored across the street to the BN, signed books and got the contact information for the new Events Manager (note to self: get card out of wallet).  Then, we hit the road in earnest, heading straight for Belfast.  It was, I will repeat, a fine day, partly cloudy, temps a thread about 40F/4C, but very windy on the water, even the nice enclosed water of Belfast Bay.  I stood out and breathed in as much salt air as I could before the wind pushed me back into the car, and off we went down Route 1 through Lincolnville, and Rockport, and Camden, and Rockland, Damariscotta, Nobleboro, Waldoboro. . .

In Waldoboro, we stopped at Spacestation Circle K to use the services, and take on coffee.  While we were there a young man came in, looked around and said to the clerk behind the counter, jerking his thumb over his shoulder, “Are they are the gloves you have?”

The clerk gave him a Look, and said, “Clamming gloves over there.”  and pointed with her chin.

You know you live in Maine, I guess, when the gas station on the main road carries clamming gloves.

So, anyway, we turned off Route 1 to 27 and headed back to Augusta eventually, and as Fate would Have It, wound up at the IHOP again for a late lunch.  (I had the Senior Tilapia-on-a-bed-of-spinach-with-a-stoopy-white-bread-garlic-slice.  It was good.  Except for the white bread part, which could’ve used more garlic.)

We then wended our way home via Sidney and Oakland, stopping once more to take on pizza for dinner.  I read for a couple hours while Steve puttered and it was very nice and relaxing, and I. Regret. Nothing.  Nothing.

Today, of course, there’s the rest of the laundry to finish, the dishes to wash, the cat bowl to clean, vacuuming to be done, and the prologue of Fifth of Five to write.

I suppose, therefore, that I’d better get busy.

Hope your weekend is going well.

Here’s your link to “Godzilla,” Blue Oyster Cult.  Sing LOUD.

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In Which the Pace Picks Up

Alert readers will recall that Steve and I turned Neogenesis in to Madame the Publisher on January 28, thereby entering that magical and too-fleeting time known as, I Never Have to Write Again.

During that time, we went to Minneapolis as Writer Guests of Honor at MarsCon 2017, turned “Cutting Corners” in to Baen.com; reworked “Dawn’s Early Light,” for All Hail Our Robot Conquerors!; fixed up an outtake from Neogenesis into short story “Street Cred” (now available as eChapbook Change Management: Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Number 23).  We also sold a reprint story, and have a big, crunchy interview to finish this week. I want to write one more short, for eChapbook Number 24, but I can’t quite get a handle on it, and the window is getting narrower, as I start laying the groundwork (which involves a lot of staring at nothing, and flipping through the notes in the story file) for Fifth of Five.

In addition to Not Ever Writing Again, Life has continued to happen, including doctor appointments, and the coming home to roost of the bills from Steve’s Marvelous Medical Adventure back in November. Bread has been baked, laundry washed, worn, and washed again; cats have been brushed; clocks — most notably including the clock in the car, and the clock on the coffeemaker — have been set one hour ahead.

We viewed two movies — our first on the new television set — “Arrival,” and “The Fifth Element.”  I find myself a little. . .put off by the picture, which lacks what I think of as “movie texture,”  and feels very much like “soap opera texture.”  Well.  I guess I’ll get used to it.

Today. . .today, includes some Life:  grocery shopping; a go at the gym, now that the knee’s been cleared; and back home to do some laundry, which is getting done as can be this week; and getting down with the big, crunchy interview.

So!  That’s what’s been going on, here.  How’s by you?

This is what my office looked like in the aftermath of Neogenesis.

 

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The way life should be

Yesterday, we had precipitation.  There was some confusion amongst the Weatherbeans in their lofty towers of ice and sunshine regarding the form in which the precipitation would finally manifest.  The Weather Wheel spun from snow, to sleet, to freezing rain, ice pellets, and the ever-popular wintry mix, until the Weatherbeans in their wise frustration threw their hands in the air and said, “It is on the back of the wind.”

And so it was.

We here at the Cat Farm were blessed with snow.  Quite a lot of snow, very wet and heavy, since the temperatures never really got much below 31F/0C.  I had tried to do the Wise Thing and perform preliminary snow removal yesterday evening, before the skylight absolutely went.  This resulted in me sliding on the ice beneath the snow and falling flat on my face.  I therefore rethought the situation, with Steve’s pointed input, and decided to do snow removal this morning, when there was more traction between boot soles and ice.

Today, it’s quite pretty out, with sticky snow stuck to all the tree branches and Everything Else, and the sun beaming down from a blue and cloudless sky.

I have done two rounds of snow relocation, in prep for the plowguy.  The first round was Before Coffee, to clear the steps and make a path in the direction of the cars.  I came in to warm up — actually, to cool down; it gets hot when you shovel snow under the smiling sun — had a cup of chocolate coffee that Steve had ready for me, and an oatmeal cookie.

Round Two saw the cars cleared, for values of clear meaning that the driver can see out the front and back windows, after which I had Second Breakfast: coffee, cottage cheese, and leftover stuffing.  The breakfast of champions.

We are now on Plowguy Watch, and my jeans are in the dryer.

For those who may have never done snow relocation on a bright and sunny day in Maine, a few notes.

The snow was so white and reflective under the sun that the only way I could find and follow the paths I had made was to look for the blue inside the outline of my footprints.  I have a great fondness for blue snow, which I don’t think I ever saw before we came to Maine.

Also, the trees are, as stated above, bearing a significant burden of snow on each and all of their branches.  Yes, the smiling sun and the playful breeze are assisting in the removal of this burden, but it’s a tricky process.

While I was outside on Round Two, the neighbor across the road lost a branch from the tree closest to his house.  I heard a crrraaackkk and looked up in time to see the branch tumbling down in slo-mo, and a cloud of snow-dust dancing and twinkling against the perfect blue sky.

This is the time when we are at risk for losing power, because the lines are every bit as coated as the trees, and subject to the same forces.  And once again, we are grateful for the generator.

For the moment, my snow worship is done.  Sprite is already asleep in her basket on my desk, and I guess I’ll take her hint and get to work.

Everybody have a safe, pleasant day.

 

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Take me down to Paradise City. . .

Have I mentioned here that I Had A Better Idea re: Neogenesis?

Well, I did.  And for a brief, halcyon moment, I was relieved, because it only meant I would have to add words! (yay! adding words!), and maybe shift a scene from Here to There.

This is how writers fool themselves into doing crazy difficult things, like, oh, writing novels.  They say to themselves, “Oh, it won’t be so bad!  In fact, it’ll be fun!  And know That Scene you’ve been wanting to write?  It’ll fit inside of this project just as slick as…”

You get the idea.  But what we say to convince ourselves to do these crazy things?  That’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that we believe it!  Over and over and over again.  And we never, ever learn.

Which brings us back to Neogenesis: the Adding of One Scene and the Moving of Another.

If I had been honest with myself, I would have said something like, “This is going to be a massive pain in the hat; you’re going to have to take the book apart by narrative lines, reshuffle the scenes so that the action in That Line doesn’t all happen on Tuesday afternoon, which is another thing you’d think I’d learn, but. . .no — and also! write bridge scenes so that the new order will Make Sense.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  With luck and a tailwind, I’ll finish that nonsense tonight, and get with advancing the storylines tomorrow.

In other news. . .Since both WorldCon and NASFiC are out of our reach next year, being held respectively in Finland and Puerto Rico — and! since Steve and I will be Guests of Honor at Confluence, in Pittsburgh in August, and! since my 65th birthday is in September (hey, proximity is where you declare it), I have formed a Plan, which is that we will visit Niagara Falls for one of those whatchamacallits — vacations — on our way home (geography being also subject to declaration).

Now, because we take so few vacations, and mostly travel when there’s a scifi convention in it for us, I’m asking you world travelers — yes, you! — for suggestions on what (besides the Falls, natch) we should absolutely not miss doing in Niagara Falls.  Best place to stay, best restaurants, tourist traps, walks, excursions — the sky’s the limit (well, not literally, because I don’t do airplanes, though I might do a hot air balloon).

Thanks very much for your consideration and help, and now?

I gotta go build some more bridges.

mozart-june-25-2012Today’s blog post brought to you by Guns ‘N Roses, provided courtesy of the gym, which apparently has located the “All 1980s MTV All The Time” station on their satellite service.

“Paradise City” — here’s your link.

 

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Sweet

So, y’all are probably anxious for news of the raisin bread.

The bread came out pretty well, though, next time I’m going to put in more raisins.  The recipe I had was light on raisins, and couldn’t seem to be able to decide if it wanted to be cinnamon swirl or raisin bread.  Because the recipe made two loaves, I did the cinnamon filling for one, and just baked the other free-form, so to speak.  Both sorts baked and tasted just fine, except, like I said, they needed more raisins.

Where it went off the rails was at the icing stage.  The recipe for the icing told me to use two cups of confectioner’s sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, and “enough milk to make a thick paste.”  I did not understand this to mean, “start with a half-teaspoon of milk, and if that’s not enough, go for another half-teaspoon,” so what I got was sugar glaze.  Which is fine.  But next time I’ll know.

Many thanks to everyone who sent me a recipe, or a link to a recipe, for smearcase!  I’ll be trying that some while down the road.

In other news, a kind friend gave me a Scott eVest jacket for a belated birthday present.  I’m still studying on how it works, but, wow, isn’t it just like a pilot’s jacket, with public pockets, and hidden pockets, and a special place for your license, and a pocket that holds a water bottle?  I’m impressed; and I’m going to get a lot of use out it, too.

Work on Book the Next goes forth, for those of you who are of a nervous disposition.  Also coon cats are being brushed and cuddled, though not as often as they would like.  Last night, the low temperature here at the Confusion Factory was 33F/0C, and the high temp today is set to top out at 61F/16C.

And that?  Catches us up.

Hope everybody has a lovely weekend.

# # #

“Glorious its deeds,” Nelirikk added.

road-block-sept-22-2016

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