Of tablets, clocks, and Murderbot

Yesterday was Errands.

As you’re all of course aware the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite dropped yesterday, and it was in my mind to arrive at Best Buy in Augusta and Acquire One, since my old-in-computer-terms Asus tablet is trembling on the edge of the True Death.

Alas, the Best Buy in Augusta had no A7 Lites in-stock.  They would have been  pleased to order one for me, but yanno?  I can do that myself.

So, onward!

Our next stop was Ellsworth, where we picked up the tambour clock that we had dropped off for repair in March, and and which I have missed DESperately every day it was gone.

Having driven to Ellsworth via the high-speed (where road construction is underway on both sides — welcome to summer in Maine), we opted to drive home via the low-speed (that’s Routes 1 and 3 to you), arriving in good time at Belfast, where we had a lovely under-the umbrella lunch at Nautilus at the harbor.  Steve had the haddock sandwich and I had the portobello with melted cheese on toast, both pronounced excellent.  There was green wine on offer, but we sadly declined, since there was still some driving to do.

Funny thing about Belfast harbor yesterday — there were no seagulls.  No, not one, even though there were french fries in play.

We drove home, decided that the grocery shopping could be put off until today, and shared the piece of limoncello cake we brought home from Nautilus.  Then Steve put the tambour clock back into its place in the living room bookshelf, I logged into B&H Photography and ordered myself a tablet, and we reconvened in the living room with a glass of wine, to finish reading Network Effect to each other.

In a few minutes, it’s off to the grocery store, then a story conference, then all story all the time for the Next While.  I hear there are authors who never have Deadline Crunch, but those authors are not us.

It rained overnight; I’m not sure how much, and the weatherbeans today threaten us with roaming violent thunderstorms, armed with hail, so that will be exciting, and the more reason to do the grocery shopping early.

Everybody stay safe.


Anything can happen day

We had a small but boisterous thunderstorm on the overnight, which knocked out the power just long enough to be irritating.

Today is, indeed, Anything Can Happen Day, and all I’m saying is — it better.  Or, wait.  Maybe I mean EVERYTHING Can Happen.  I think that’s closer.

The To-Do List includes:

*Reading Trader’s Leap mass market proofs (which landed yesterday; correx due end of June)
*Renewing the Hummer Bars (three Hummer Bars. I think I’d better stop, now.)
*Do the laundry
*Continue work on contracted short story, working title “Gadreel’s Folly” (mid-July target date)
*Continue work on novel (due end of June)
*The mandatory walk and exercise regime

I’d briefly considered going over to Winslow and stopping at the Spiro’s Gyros food truck for lunch, but that might need to wait until, oh, tomorrow, when I have to visit the vampyres, anyway.

Yesterday, was Echocardiogram and EKG Day.  Now waiting for those results.  We also stopped at the grocery store and I had a haircut in the afternoon.  That was Interesting, though possibly not for the reason you may imagine.  In the space of those three events, I moved from an environment where everyone was masked, to an environment where employees were masked, and customers who had not been vaccinated were asked to be masked (and where one maskless guy tried to pick a fight with Steve about masks, but missed), to the the place where I get my hair cut which was packed and I was the only one wearing a mask*.

It’s been Wicked Hot here in Central Maine over the last few days — I think we cracked 100F/38C on Monday; yesterday was merely 88F/31; and today the weatherbeans are calling for a balmy 85F/29C.  I, myself, am living for Friday, when the high temp is predicted to be 66F/19C.

Presently, I have two coon cat supervisors, while Steve makes do with one.

And that’s how the day’s getting underway, here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

Y’all stay safe.

Today’s blog title brought to you by the Mickey Mouse Club which was on network television around 1958/1959.  Here’s your link.

*Yes, yes, I’m still wearing a mask, even though I’m vaccinated and all.  Doctor’s orders are to pretend I haven’t been vaccinated and the masking orders have never been dropped. This is because I’m a cancer patient (aka a person whose immune system has been purposefully repressed) and there’s some concern that the vaccine is not 100%, or even, yanno, 87% effective in that population.

I got nothin’ but love for you

Towels washed, now drying. Blankie run made, cat towels and throws now washing. The curtains in my office are CLOSED against the nice sunshine, because the weatherbeans are calling 95F today *and* have issued a Heat Advisory until 8 pm. I did…something…to my ankle, so will be typing with my foot up. Yes, it’s All About the Derring-Do. Tomorrow at ohmyghod in the morning, I have an appointment with the cardiologist, which will be new, but I hope not exciting. And I still have that story to finish. There is Mystery Soup from the back of the freezer for lunch, with a salad. Trooper has moved his operations to the jetpac next to my desk, and Sprite is curled up in the sun spotlight from the clerestory window, which dramatically lights the cedar chest. Belle is allowing Steve to brush her.


. . .and I think that’s it from the Confusion Factory.

How’s it going at your house?

Today’s blog post brought to you by! Fleetwood Mac:  Monday Morning.  Here’s your link.

I can see all obstacles in my way

So, it’s been an exciting few days here at the Confusion Factory.  For the first time in five years, I have a new pair of glasses.  Also!  We opened the Hummer Bar, starting with two choices of venue — the Flying Saucer and the Hot Air Balloon.  Not fifteen minutes after we opened our doors, we served our first customer, and there has been a steady flow, since.  I anticipate opening the annex in the front garden sometime in the coming week, and possibly relocating the Hot Air Balloon venue from the back deck to an existing feeding station in the back yard.

Speaking of lawns and yards and gardens — it has been a banner year for daffodils.  Honestly, I don’t remember that we had this many daffodils, but my memory is a little patchy in spots nowadays, and it’s hard to argue against daffodils, so I’m just pleased to see them.

We — by which I of course mean Jeremy the Landscaping Guy — have installed three more cedar trees (emerald arborvitae), which fills in the line between our house and the Neighbors to the Right. This should have been done last year, but a lot of things didn’t get done last year.

The day after the Planting of the Cedars, we entertained Robbie the Arborist, who took down several trees in the back that had been fatally damaged in the big winter wind storms.  Sadly, two of them were birch trees, and their absence really changes the view from my office windows.

Pete the Builder has accomplished the long-awaited steps from the deck to the back yard.  Still some more work to do there, but having the stairs in place, and thus a second way out of the house in case of emergency, is a huge relief.

Up next week is a visit from the Dump Guy, to give us a quote on taking down the shed in the back, similarly damaged in the winds, and hauling it away, along with various repositories of Actual Junk in the garage and elsewhere.

We’re also looking for a return of Jeremy the Landscaping Guy, bearing two red maples (acer rubrum red sunset), and a Snowdance Japanese tree lilac, for the front lawn, the maples to provide shade, and the Snowdancer because it’s gorgeous, and neither one of us could resist the name.  As soon as the City tells us where the sewer and water lines are, we’ll have them planted, and then we can take a breather.

. . .except for getting the book finished and turned in, and three short stories written.  Yeah, yeah, piece o’cake.

Here have a picture of the Hummer Bar:

Today’s blog title brought to you by Johnny Nash, “I Can See Clearly Now.”  Here’s your link.

When last we saw our intrepid heroine. . .

. . .she was waiting for the delivery of her Command Chair.

The chair arrived just past 10 am on Wednesday, which you can’t get much more “between 8 am and noon” than that.  It was promptly tested by human and cat — Trooper taking the lead, as he so often does.  There’s a little futzing to be done with the computer table, pretty much we’re set there.

After the chair delivery on Wednesday, Steve and I went to Kennebec Pharmacy and Home Care in Augusta to view knee scooters and other necessary items. There were no scooters on the floor, nor could we view one.  We were told by the breezy clerk that scooters are very popular, that no, there wasn’t one on the floor, that all the scooters were all the same, and that, when someone came in who wanted to rent a scooter (at $120/month, charged by the full month), the guy in the warehouse would put one together and bring it over.  We were also told that Medicare would not cover the scooter rental — which was Actually Good to learn.

Speaking as someone who has managed to arrive at this point in her life without having to interact much with the medical service establishment, I wish that the customer service people would not Just Breeze Through Things, like we’ve all done this before, and not meet newbie questions with impatience or non-answers.  From my perspective, it would make a difficult situation a little less fraught.  I realize that it’s no one’s job to make my life easier or less fraught, but, still…

Anyhow, I was — how to say this gently? — NOT IMPRESSED with the cavalier supposed customer service, so Steve and I left.  On the way home, we stopped at BagelMainea for — bagels!  Fifteen bagels. I feel wealthy.  And very glad to have a freezer.

We also stopped at Home Depot and bought one of the two remaining canopies to install on our deck.  When our neighbors decided to build an addition to their house, they chopped down their Big Tree, which coincidentally shaded our deck. Without the tree, it was too hot to sit on the deck many days, and the canopy is the solution to that problem.

After we got home, and, since Medicare won’t pay to rent a knee scooter, I decided to please myself, and purchased a KneeRover Quad All-Terrain, which will be here at the middle of next week, giving me lots of time to become proficient in its use.

Yesterday, Steve and I (with Scrabble’s supervision) erected the canopy, tested it and found it good.  Today, it is of course, raining, but that’s OK, too.  After a ‘way too wet spring, we’ve been having a too-dry summer, so, Rain Good.

As reported elsewhere, I have been going through the manuscript line-by-line and as soon as I post this blog entry, I’ll get back with that.

Y’all have a good weekend.



Went to a garden party

So, the Authors have been extroverting.  We bought Full Festival Passes for the Twenty-Second Maine International Film Festival, which included a t-shirt, naturally, the sponsorship of one movie, and access to all the rest of the films (10 days! 100 films! eek!), as well as a slew of special events, receptions, and parties.

The film we chose to sponsor is The Fate of Lee Khan, one of the five opening night films.  I do not repent our choice.  We had a great time with this film, picking out similarities to Star Wars, tracing the lines to Crouching Tiger…, and trying to keep track of the double-crosses.  I think we ended up with a quadruple-cross, but somebody might want to view the film and check me on that.

Here’s a link to the trailer.

We also attended a couple of the special events, including a Garden Party, with Brief Remarks, and are planning on attending the reception, concert, and World Movie Premier of The Gathering celebrating the work of Horace Tapscott.

In between all this, Life, and writing, has been going on.  The Nameless WIP  stands at about 81,000 words.  If I get a Turn of Speed, I should be out of this scene today, in draft.  Which will leave The Thrilling Conclusion to be written, and the subplots to be filled in.

Easy-peasy, amirite?

Yeah, right.

Here have a couple of pictures of us at the Garden Party.






Today’s blog post title is brought to you by Ricky Nelson, “Garden Party.”  Here’s your link.

Winter is upon us

It’s snowing today, as it did on Friday.  Apparently, we’re going to have an early and persistent winter.  Well.  Our very first winter in Maine, when we were living in Skowhegan, it snowed every night — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, every day — and I just figured that it always snowed in the winter, in Maine.  In the years between, we’ve had some winters where we got very little snow, but a lot of cold, a couple of warm winters, a recent winter that dropped ten feet of snow over the course of the season, averaging a few inches every couple days, and a biggish fall once a week.  Very seasonal.  Sigh.

Here at the new house, we can hide the car in the garage, and we have engaged a guy to plow the driveway on a temporary basis, to see if we’re both satisfied with the arrangement.  The front steps are gong to have to be solved.  I may need the War  Engineer to come by and see if he can put a peak over the steps, so that we can at least open the front door from inside, during heavy snowfalls.

And!  This Just In from the Maine Weather Service:  Maine Expected to Get Another Snowstorm Before Thanksgiving.

Winter has also illuminated an unanticipated problem with city living.  We are in a hybrid situation with regard to mail delivery.  Which is to say, we do not have what I think of as a City Mailbox, that hangs on the house near the front door, nor do we have a mail slot in the front door.

What we have instead, is curb-side delivery, like we had out in the country.  Which is fine, the curb’s not that far away, after all, except. . .

Mail is routinely delivered between 4 and 5 pm.  It gets dark in the winter-time at 4:30ish.  We live on a busy road, and while there is a streetlight across the street from our drive, there’s no sidewalk.  Therefore, in order to approach the mailbox, in the winter, when there will be a pile of snow between our driveway and mailbox, we will have to walk out into the road, in the dark.

This seems. . .suboptimal.

So, we’re thinking about moving all of our mail delivery to the post office box, and switching the Informed Delivery Service to that address, so we know when we have to drive out.

I will say that I never considered mail delivery when I was thinking about the potential challenges of returning to city life after a quarter-century in the country.

In another aspect of City Living, I’m actually enjoying going to the gym.  It changes your outlook, when the gym’s a five minute drive, instead of half-an-hour.

So that.

From the writing edge of life, Accepting the Lance is moving along; it’s going to be a long book, I fear, so y’all need to prepare yourselves for that.

I think that’s everything, except for this — a video that Steve and I made for you — yes, you! — to thank you for everything you do.

Here’s your link.


Half a year, here

Today is the semi-anniversary of Steve, me, the cats, and a large cast of characters taking up residence here in the city, at the new! headquarters of the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory.

We are extremely fortunate to have found this house, and very fortunate indeed that the series of tightly-reasoned and risky moves that we brought to the board were not derailed by circumstance; that bureaucracy was able to flex with us, rather than against us; and that the Guy Who Knows A Guy Network decided that we Needed Them, and extended the patronage of its members.

We’re pretty much settled, here, though naturally still learning the quirks of a new house (and unlearning the quirks of a house we lived in for a quarter-century).

And, today, in celebration of a milestone — or at least a six-month-stone — There Will Be Pizza, but, mostly, we’ll be writing, and playing with cats, doing chores , and. . .just, yanno, doing what we do.

Everybody have a good weekend.

Sunday morning round-up

All righty, then!

First up, a reminder:  Sharon Lee and Steve Miller will be reading from and signing copies of the Thirtieth Anniversary Edition of Agent of Change at Children’s Book Cellar, 52 Main Street, Waterville, Maine 04901, on Friday, November 2, from 7:30-9 pm.  Looking forward to seeing you — yes, you! — there.

If you are unable to attend the November 2 event, and you want a signed copy of the anniversary Agent of Change, with the awesome Sam Kennedy cover, you may send an email before November 2 to Ellen Richmond at kidsbookscellarATmyfairpointDOTnet, with “Lee and Miller” in the subject line. In the body of the letter let Ellen know how many books you want, your snail address, and any personalization request you may have. She will contact you for further necessary information.

So, we attended the Community Health Needs Assessment as our Floating Day Off, on Thursday.  It was interesting, and even informative.  I had been under the impression that the event was hosted by one of the area hospitals; in fact it is an on-going collaborative effort of about eight different hospitals, clinics and health associations.  The meant that there were a lot of professionals present, which was fine; one of the problems identified by our table (all civilians, saving the facilitator and the note-taker) was a lack of access to care, including a lack of doctors, a lack of transportation to get to doctors, and a lack of those activities supportive of good health.

Unfortunately, the lack of access which was so obvious to the public eye was invisible to the professional eye, as we found when it came time to rank the most pressing needs in our community.  The vote went along, dare I say, party lines, with the professionals pushing for programmatic solutions to things like the opoid crisis and self-harm.  That was a little disappointing.  Our facilitator thanked our table for our real-world perspective, but I’m not completely certain that she has any high-level ears available to her.

One of the things that seems obvious to me (warning) is that, if this is about COMMUNITY Health Needs, then the COMMUNITY needs to get involved.  The city needs to get on-board with providing, say, a real bus service, so people can get to their appointments on time.  The clinics need to coordinate; health and exercise classes in the city need to be expanded, supported, and advertised.

The whole community aspect was pointed up when the meeting was breaking up and one of our table’s participants handed the facilitator a card.  She shook her head, and said, “The hospital does all its printing in house.”  “That’s right,” came the answer, “and they put the guy who used to do their printing out of business.”

If we’re all in this together, we can’t solve our problems by working separately.

So, that.

We haven’t quite settled on the upcoming week’s Floating Day Off; much depends on the outcome of phone calls that need to be made tomorrow.  For today, I need to vacuum the house, and then get to work.

Oh!  I keep meaning to show y’all this. . .The Carousel Corner in my bookshelf.

In which we continue to move forwarder on several fronts

So, today, we expect a crew of sturdy lads sometime this afternoon, to deliver the new bed.  We hadn’t quite intended to buy a new bed — no, that’s inaccurate.  We had intended to buy a new bed, eventually, but our intent on Thursday was to do some reconnaissance in that direction. Wherefore we visited Northern Mattress, where we investigated floor models, collected catalog pages, and the salesman’s card.

When we returned to the car, Steve said, “You want to go across the river and look at Fortin’s?”

So, we went across the river, to Fortin’s, where we were greeted by Douglas, the salesman who had sold us our new couch a year or so ago.  We explained the problem — the problem being that our bed was a waterbed platform with a queen mattress in the box.  We’d replaced the mattress a few years ago, but the bed itself had been solid enough, at the time, since it had been sitting in one place for 26 or so years.  Unfortunately, the move was especially hard on the old, press-board frame, which had been deconstructed and re-constructed by non-experts three times in the course of four weeks, and was very much the worse for its ill-treatment.  Douglas said, “You want a platform bed,” and took us to the back of the store, where such items are on display.

Among the necessary features of any new bed had to be a headboard wide enough for the cats to use as a highway to the bookcase aerie in the bedroom.  This has been an Approved Cat Route for at least 26 years, which is to say all of Scrabble’s lifetime (Scrabble being 16).  Scrabble being the Power User of the aerie, we didn’t want to cut her off.

Douglas showed us the Perfect Bed, made right in Newport, Maine, in fact, assured us that he could order it with a bookcase headboard, which would be plenty wide enough for Cat Traffic — but it would take about 10 weeks to arrive, because — handmade in Newport.

While Steve and I were discussing this, Douglas went back to the warehouse, as one does, and returned with a look of wide-eyed amaze on his face.

“I have the bed,” he said.  “And it has a bookcase headboard.”

“When can it be delivered?” asked Steve.

“Saturday afternoon OK with you guys?”

So!  This afternoon we’ll be taking delivery of a new bed and cat highway.

Didn’t see that coming.

In other news, we have one more Major Contracting Event on the schedule.  We had been going to put off installing heat pumps (yes, that’s plural; because the house is U-shaped, each wing needs its own pump) until next year, since we’d already gambled with the tax money in order to make the move into this house happen, and though our luck had been in, I am by nature risk-averse, and I’d done enough gambling for one year.

Then Mr. Trump announced Trade War, and we realized that waiting til next year would see tariffs and ill-will increasing the cost of items imported from Japan, which would likely put the project out of reach.

We therefore went looking for help, and it turns out that there is a useful consumer program in Maine that has somehow to date escaped cancellation by our governor.  It is the Efficiency Maine Loan program, which gives long-term, low-interest loans on things like heat pump installations, and also has a rebate program for installation of energy efficient systems.

Heat pump installations are therefore set for next Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

We’re also expecting the Window Guy to sweep by at some point to fix the stuck windows in the hallway to Steve’s office.  It will be Good if they can be made to close.  It would be Optimum, if they can be made to open and close on demand.

So, that’s the next phase of Real Life Adventures.

For those who are here for news of books, and the production of words —  yes, writing has been going forth.  For those expecting a new book in January — no, sorry; we are scheduled to turn the book in to Madame the Editor in January.  What happens to it then is wholly up to her.

I believe this catches us up again.

I hope everyone has a splendid weekend.

Chariot on the Herschell/Looff carousel at the Heritage Museum