Mental Health Day

People have been behaving badly on the internet.  What a surprise.

I’m reminded of a story I read once, true or not, who knows, which was to the effect that, when switchboards first became a Thing, the newly-organized phone company had initially hired boys as operators, because — cheap labor.  Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that something about having all that access acted on boys like catnip on cats; they began pranking callers, and just in general behaving badly.  Couldn’t seem to help themselves, really, poor things.  So the phone companies fired the boy operators and hired women, because — cheap labor.  And that worked out much better for all concerned.

Personally, I think there’s a genetic disposition, a kind of allergy to electrons, so that when people with this allergy are exposed to this allergen, they behave as badly as possible.  Remove the electrons, and they revert to being perfectly innocuous and civilized members of society.

Well.

In other news, I’ve taken up meditation, as part of my project to avoid a Major Depressive Incident, such as I experienced last year.  As we all know, depression makes us stupid, and I’m still finding errors that I made during the last (really bad, by my standards; maybe one of the Biggest since records started to be kept, some 40 years ago) — some serious, but none, thank ghod, fatal, though one was particularly scary.  So, anyway, despite a lifetime of crash-burn-rise-up-eventually-slighty-sooty, I’m now trying to alter the pattern, and to be proactive.  Which means, yes, meditation, and also ruthlessly slashing toxic — and even perennially irritating — people out of my life.

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, expect to see me less.  I’ll try to pick back up posting more regularly here (this blog is mirrored at Eagles Over the Kennebec).  I love you all, but — survival is important to the appearance of more stories.

So, that.

Yesterday, Steve and I took a mental health day.  We went down to Old Orchard Beach, where it was foggy and windy(!) and too chilly to sit on the beach and read, which had been my Plan A.  We did a short beach walk, then went down to Wells, where it was also foggy and windy(!), and stood around on the public landing, watching the kites, and Steve took pictures with his new camera.

After, we crossed over to Sanford, and stopped for lunch at the Cockpit Cafe at the airport.  And there we saw George W. Bush arrive, and board the (Embraer Legacy twin-jet) plane that had been waiting for him.

On the way home from Sanford, we made one more ocean stop — at Pine Point — and then came home, where I continued the electron-free theme (not totally true, since I’m reading an ebook), until it was time for the evening meal, a glass of wine and a chapter read outloud from The Cat Who Saw Red (yeah, it’s a re-read; we decided to do the Cat Who’s in order to follow Qwilleran’s arc).

This morning, I baked peasant olive bread while Steve went to cardio-gym, and also figured out the penultimate scene in the cheater story.

I may not have reported here that I bought myself a chair side table (a so-called C-table) for the reading corner.

Here are some pictures:

This first was taken when the table came home. At the time the photo was snapped, it had been in the house for less than five minutes:

This is what the table looks like, unadorned:

And here is Sprite, reasserting her claim:

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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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Ghost in the machine

So, the adding machine woke me up at 5 a.m. by running crazily — kaCHUNGkaCHUNGkaCHUNG, lather, rinse, repeat, just like a cat was laying on the keyboard (or just playing with the sound.  Belle, in particular, likes to smack the + key just to set of a series of kaCHUNGS.  You can see her giggle when she does it, too.).

I got up — not easy, because Trooper was pushed against my stomach, and had allowed his personal gravity to bond with the earth’s core — went into my office (conveniently located right across the hall from the bedroom), and did, in fact, find Belle — asleep in Her Special Corner of my office (formerly Mozart’s Special Corner of my office).  In the meantime, the adding machine was going off like a shotgun, even though it was turned off.

I pulled the plug, not at all sure that would fix the problem, but it seems to have done, and now I’m trying to decide:  short circuit? (it’s quite an old adding machine, circa 1997); solar flare?  ghost trying to work out the monthly budget for ectoplasm*?

Got back to bed to find Trooper had vacated, and managed to go more or less back to sleep, so all’s well.  More or less.

Now to go find breakfast.  I’m thinking a toasted English muffin with cream cheese and a side of fresh fruit.  With coffee.  Perhaps even a lot of coffee.

And so to work.

Everybody have a good Saturday.

___
*the WordPress on-board dictionary does not recognize ectoplasm as a word.  For shame, WordPress dictionary.

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Up before the school bus

Asyouknowbob, we live in the country, surrounded by woods and fields and occasionally the Mice of the Field will send a Covert Operative into the basement to see if we’ve let our Security Contract lapse.  In fact, we haven’t, and while the fate of the Covert Operative isn’t necessarily foregone, it does appear that the Mice of the Field are usually in receipt of the message that, whatever is in that basement, It Got Charlie, too!

Last night there was apparently An Infiltration about the time we were winding down to go to bed.  Sprite heard the perimeter alarm go off, and rushed down to the basement, followed by Belle, with Trooper bringing up the rear.  When I looked down before lights-out, Trooper was sitting in back-up position at the foot of the stairs; his job to make sure that the Covert Operative did not make it upstairs.  Neither Belle nor Sprite was in evidence, and the basement was Vewy, Vewy Quiet.

I went to bed.

Now, usually in the course of these Operations, a cat will make a point of stopping by the bed at some point in the evening, just to check in and make sure we’re dreaming right.  Last night there was no check-in.  Not one.  Which, when you’re used to being walked on by cats when you sleep can be a little disorienting.

I woke up around five, took my Necessary Medications, noted the lack of cats on the upper levels, put on my robe, and opened the basement door.

Trooper immediately charged up the steps, and gave me multiple hugs around the legs, possibly encouraging me to stay abovestairs, but I was adamant, and down I went.

I was met by Sprite, who, prancing, led me to the sad remains of the Covert Operative.  Belle was nowhere in sight.

I went upstairs to procure a coffin, so that we might show proper honor to a worthy opponent.  Belle appeared as I came back downstairs; she and Sprite and Trooper stood by solemnly while the late Operative was transferred to his empty butter cup.  Trooper and Sprite came upstairs with me, as an honor guard, while Belle stayed behind to continue her survey of the perimeter.

The Covert Operative was consigned to the gentle grasses, and I went back inside, now thoroughly awake, to find Steve up and about, also, having heard the kitchen door close.

So, we praised the cats, who came upstairs in shifts, drank coffee; and were just finishing breakfast when the school bus went by.

I see a nap in my very near future, but, for now, since I’m up and caffeinated and all, I should probably do some work.

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Pets keep us healthy

So, this morning, Trooper and Belle were scheduled to have their annual checkups and distemper shots.

Usually, we take them to the vet singly, and the Cat of the Hour will sit in the lap of the one of us in the passenger seat (wearing harness and leash), and look out the window.  This saves Trooper and Sprite, at least, from being drippy, hysterical messes by the time they arrive at the vet’s, since both of them hateHateHATE being in the cat carrier. Belle is much more laid back about the cat carrier.

But, it fell out today that we had to take both, mostly because Trooper was a month late, his doctor appointment having taken second place to the various other doctor appointments with which March was overfilled.

The Plan, inasmuch as we had A Plan, was to put both Trooper and Belle in the bathroom — an enclosed area with no really inaccessible-to-humans hiding places — then bring the boxes to them*.  As it happened, when the time came to board cats, both Trooper and Belle were in the bedroom, so that became the holding area.

Belle was asleep in her blanket fort under the end of the bed, so I picked up Trooper, carried him down to the living room, and put him in the cat carrier (this sounds easier than it was, but with two of us, we did get him tucked in quick).  Steve closed and “locked” the door, and! Quick as the cat can lick her paw, Trooper’s catcher’s mitt paw flashed through the mesh door, wrapped around the sliders that secure the locking bolts, yanked them — the door popped open and he was gone, running down the hall to my office.  (My office = safest room in house in Coon Cat Logic.)

Figuring he’d stay, and not wanting to panic Belle into taking refuge in a less-accessible space, I rousted her from her blanket fort, carried her down the hall, slipped her easily into the other box, Steve closed the door, and Belle sighed, and curled up on the blanket.

Then, I went to get Trooper while Steve carried Belle out to the car.

Back in the box went Trooper.  Again, the paw flashed out, but this time the locking bolts were firmly seated, and that old trick didn’t work.

Steve picked up the box, with 18 pounds of coon cat in it, and?

The box fell apart.

Trooper ran for my office.  I got the harness and leash out of the closet, put them on the cat with no trouble at all, and Trooper got to sit on Steve’s lap on the way to the vet.

. . .for some reason, I’m exhausted.

And how was your morning?

________________
*Trooper was going in a cat carrier, because we weren’t sure he would accept Steve’s lap.  He does not, as a rule, seek Steve out, or sit on his lap, and all his previous “rides” have been on my lap.

 

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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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December 15

Today is of course, Trooper’s seventh birthday.  As you can see, the celebrations are already underway.  We took on ice cream and cake yesterday, and will today toast the birthday appropriately.  Trooper has already opened and tried out his present — a brand new laser pointer.

In other news, Steve is into the Meds and Blood Work Waltz, so — new meds last week, blood work yesterday, med adjustment this week, blood work next week.  Hopefully, satisfactory levels will be achieved sooner, rather than later.

Tomorrow, we plan to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is still — astonishingly — playing at the Waterville Flagship. The necessity of planning errands around daylight is, shall we say, not yet intuitive.  I need to remember that, “Steve will drive us home in the dark,” is not in play at the moment.  And that the number of available daylight hours is still shrinking.

So, anyway, we’ll catch the 12:50 show in Waterville, and have twilight to drive home in.  It’s a plan.

Looking at long-range weather, Winter is blowing in from Canada.  We’re looking at dangerous wind chills today and tomorrow.  Saturday will bring us 3-5 inches of snow and Sunday — will turn warm in the daytime. . .

. . .and rain.

Whereupon the temps will plummet to 6F/-14C.

I am so very glad we have a generator.  Thank you again! to everyone who helped us make that happen.

. . .and now, I must to work.  At some point, this book has got to be done, amirite?

 

 

 

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Wednesday To-Do List

  1. Do dishes
  2. Clean cat fountain
  3. Clean bathroom
  4. Print out section to be hand-edited
  5. Prep Number Ten Ox and load thumb drive with working files
  6. Pack
  7. Explain the schedule for the next few days to Trooper and Scrabble (also to Belle and Sprite, who will immediately forget all about it, and start to panic about elevensies on Thursday, whereupon Trooper or Scrabble will have to talk them down and Review)

Steve and I will be handing the Keys to the Cat Farm to the housesitter early tomorrow morning, after which we’ll be getting on the road to Providence, and the Rhode Island Comic Con.  Since this convention doesn’t have a literature track, we will not be doing any panels, or readings, but we will be at the Wordfire Press booth in the Dealer’s Room at Booth 124, signing books and creating mischief.

Everybody stay safe.

the-brown-chair-october-31-2016

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Neckties, Contracts, High Mountains!

Audible lets us know that!

There’s a free excerpt available of the audiobook edition of Alliance of EqualsHere’s your link.  Enjoy — and tell your friends!

I had planned to go to the ocean today, but that wasn’t possible, because Reasons.  Steve and I did go cat-shopping (as opposed to shopping for cats), because one of the sisal-bound (you notice I say “one of”) scratchers has gone to that great sisal forest in the sky. So, naturally we need to replace it.

We knew what we wanted, we had found what we wanted on the web last night, but — we wanted to take a look at it before committing.  According to the web, the item was available at PetSmart, so off to Augusta we went, to discover that —

You see where this is going, right?

Right.  Plenty of devices made for the grooming of cat claws, but of the perfect scratcher there was no sign.

Since we were in Augusta, where there are two pet supply emporiums, we went down to the other one, but — no luck.

So, after stopping for lunch, we came home and ordered the dern thing off of the internet, anyway.

Neogenesis. . .stands at about 85,000ish words.  Maybe.  You know what I’m going to wind up doing, and so do I, and I might as well just make my bow, and Do It, instead of wasting energy trying to do it the other, more comfortable, way.  But — old habits.  Anyway.  Back to writing scenes with an eye toward building bridges after I’ve written enough to know where everybody is, and when.

Next book — one character who sits in a room and pets his cat for 100,000 words.

Oh, no. . .wait.

About today’s blog title:  AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” has long occupied a Special Place in my Heart, which pretty much proves that I am Not a Nice Person.  And the rendition that I know best includes, at the end of the third stanza, where our narrator is listing the services offered, he says:

Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
Done dirt cheap
Neckties, contracts, high mountains!
Done dirt cheap

Google Lyrics renders “high mountains” as “high voltage,” which just isn’t the same.  And what does Google know, anyway?

So, I have used that line as I know it, for the blog title. And now?  I’m going to send you to Joan Jett’s cover, which she ends at the bottom of the third stanza.  Here’s your link.

#

“Indeed not!” Bechimo sounded scandalized. “It is the captain’s place to order for ship and crew.”

family-shot-november-3-2016

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Time isn’t holding up; time isn’t after us

So, I’m trying something…newish with Neogenesis.  What I’m trying — it isn’t actually new, but it is stretching —  codifying — something I naturally do in storytelling, mostly because of how I tend to think.  Anyone who has tried to hold a conversation with me will know that I skip from here to there to over there, and back again, all the threads related, however tenuously, and interspersed with mini-stories.  I’m told it’s exhausting.

Anyway.

For this book, I’m trying to take control of that tendency to bounce around and use it, consciously, as a solid structure.  And, it’s kinda kicking my butt.  I tell myself that at least it will be an unusual book.  Unusual’s good, amirite?

In other news, annual medical exams have been take care of, car maintenance has been taken care of .  Steve and I have voted.  Sadly, this has not kept any political ads, or phone calls out of our sphere.  There really ought to be a filter you can apply to your phone and your computer once you’ve done your civic duty, so you don’t have to be bombarded anymore.  Somebody get to work on that, will you?

Today, I really ought to vacuum, and make the bed, too; but everybody’s sleeping so nicely. . .and it’s not like I don’t have anything else to keep me occupied.

Maybe later.

Oh.  And today’s blog title is, of course, courtesy of Talking Heads; Once in a Lifetime.  Here’s your link.

guess-ill-make-the-bed-later-oct-27-2016

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