The Thursday blog post, with footnotes

So, recovery is a strange country.  I’m not in the habit of thinking that I actually do very much of an ordinary day, so it’s a little — no, make that considerably — annoying when I can’t complete what I consider to be a normal day’s to-do list.

Yesterday being a case in point.  I went to the gym, did my strength training, pushing a little, because you’re supposed to challenge yourself, amirite? — walked 1.11 miles in 21 minutes (this includes the cool down), and tried to feel that this was a success*.  Then I went to the grocery store, came home, and — smashed right into a wall. I was exhausted.  Steve made lunch, and after I still couldn’t keep my head up, so I jettisoned the rest of the to-do list and spent the afternoon under a shifting blanket of cats, reading.

Man, I hate hitting walls.

Today, it’s snowing (the Weatherbeans are calling 4-9 inches), and is any way a non-gym day, and here we have the to-do list:

1  Keep front steps accessible

2  Make refrigerator soup for lunch

3  Get with the accountant’s tax packet: at least print it out and get the letter in the mail

4  Strip bed and wash sheets — already in process

5  Hit the Command Chair with the Mead 5-star notebook** and a pen and organize the short story I’ve been working up scenes for while I should be thinking about something else

. . .It seems a very slight list, but the idea is to Hit No Walls, and if that means vacuuming tomorrow, then — the cats get an extra day of peace and quiet.

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*(This was after the first treadmill I was on spontaneously leapt from 3 mpg to 14 — I hit the STOP realfast, youbetcha, but wow, what a rush.  The scary part being that the Planet Fitness associate on the spot couldn’t figure out Why It Had Done That.  I hope it doesn’t catch somebody else.)

**Apropos of Nothing Much, I’ve been chewing through the Mead notebook, which is lovely to write on with the fountain pens. Anticipating its final page, I bought a six-pack of Smart Campus “subject notebooks” by Kokuyo, offered by JetPens, which are supposed to be the bee’s knees for fountain pen use. We’ll see, eventually, I guess. Maybe even soon, given the fact that there’s this OTHER short story I really want to write, too, and have been putting it off because its a Maine Coast story, in the Archers Beach universe, but not set in Archers Beach, which no one will want to read, but sometimes you gotta just get stuff out of the way.

And she is moving very slowly, rising up above the earth

So, here we are in 2020.  I’ve been warned not to date checks with just /20, because some Bad People could just add, oh “19” to that and steal my check.  I’m sure that’s good advice, but, really I hardly write checks anymore, and when I do, I always date them fully, to wit:  “January 4, 2020,” because old habits die hard, if they die at all.

In related news, many-to-all (depending on your news source) of the credit unions in Maine are off-line as the result of mysterious “connectivity problem.”  This is not as much fun as it may at first seem.

We here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory are clinging to our last few precious Not-Sundays.  There’s writing to do and writing being done, as well as chores, of a sort, but it’s all being done in a soft bubble, almost a “deadline free zone,” which we all know there’s no such thing, but — it’s been pleasant to pretend for a week or two.

Deadlines and doctors appointments return Monday morning, quite early, so we’ll be getting back into the Daily Push realsoonnow.

My first-in task today is to clean the so-called Boy’s Bathroom, and to steam clean the kitchen floor.  After that, there’s the final sweep at the WIP.  After much banging my head against various metaphorical, logical, and fictional walls, I have figured out how to straighten the last kink in the last scene.  Go me.  The entire corrected manuscript ought, I think, be on its way to Madame by the end of the week, and then?  I won’t have anything to do.  [Cue laugh track]

Looking ahead, Steve and I will be attending Boskone in mid-February, and!  We will be Guests of Honor at NarniaCon, aka the Coat Check Con.  NarniaCon hosts a scavenger hunt within Boskone entire; this year’s hunt will be based on the game of Clue.

. . .and that’s where we stand at the moment, still inside the bubble, with the cats napping inside, and the sky grey with snow clouds, outside.

Today’s blog title brought to you by one of my hometown bands, Talking Heads:  And She Was.

Book Day: ACCEPTING THE LANCE

Today is the day!  The day that Accepting the Lance, the 22nd novel in the Liaden Universe® created by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is officially released*!

We here at the Confusion Factory are of course very excited, and grateful that Baen was able to get the book — submitted in January — out this year.

We do know that there are a number of you who purchased the eARC, and therefore are finding the Book Day festivities a little flat.  If you wish, you may celebrate by leaving a review for LANCE on the venue of your choice.

The authors are celebrating each in our own way.  First, by announcing Book Day as far and as wide as we may.  Secondly, Steve is celebrating by working on the next book detailing the adventures of Jethri Gobelyn, which is due on Madame’s desk in May 2020.  And, thirdly, I am celebrating by editing Trader’s Leap, scheduled for publication in November/December 2020.

The chickadees, titmice, nuthatchen, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals are celebrating by mobbing the bird feeders, because it’s snowing up a Real Storm here in Central Maine.

In other news, I am due at the surgeon’s office tomorrow at 2 pm, by which time the snow will have stopped and the driveway cleared.  This visit will determine if my time in the Command Chair is about to end or if it will be another four weeks until I see my shadow.

Fingers crossed.

___________
*Yes, there is supposed to be an Audible edition.  No, I don’t know why it’s not available.  No, I don’t know when it will be available.  Authors are always the last to know these things.  Naturally, I deplore my ignorance, and the distress of those who had hoped to listen to the book today, but, really, the non-appearance of the Audible edition is not my fault.

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.

 

 

I got no chance of making it working downtown

So, today is Sunday.

It is as I write this 85F/29C feels-like-93F/34C, calling for a high of 87F/31C. The weatherbeans are teasing us with the bare possibility of thunderstorms, which I shall believe in when they arrive to thunder down the rains.

Today’s Mission, besides tending to chores, is to finish this section of the manuscript here, which needs one more scene to round it out. Then I need to write another brief scene, location TBD, add all of it to the Complete Manuscript (going by the call-name Jigsaw Puzzle), and! Read it. This will be hard, as there are portions of this book that I’ve read at least twenty times — and no, that is not an exaggeration.

I expect that I will also today crack the Elusive 90,000 word barrier, that milepost being a mere 700 words in the distance.

Back to weather, yesterday it hit 100F/38C here in beautiful Central Maine.  Today is as reported above.  Tomorrow?  The temperatures dip back in the high 70s/low 20s, slowly creeping back up into the mid-80s/high-20s by the end of the week.  Possibly, summer is over.

I also have here sitting on my desk an iteration of Accepting the Lance*, which I am assured is the typeset manuscript with the copy editor’s notes included.  Steve and I need to work out when and how to read it.  At the moment, it looks like getting up an hour earlier, brewing a pot of coffee, and Getting On With It may be the most workable plan.  This all in service of not having to read proofs during the week we have marked out as one of those things that people have — ah.  Vacation.

So, that’s the news hereabouts.  Everybody have fun.  If you’re in a hot zone, keep cool, stay hydrated, check up on vulnerable friends and family.

Today’s blog title brought to you by Jude Cole, “Start the Car.”  Here’s your link.

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*Accepting the Lance, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, the twenty-second novel set in their Liaden Universe®, will be published by Baen Books in December 2019.  Earc will happen when it does.  Don’t start with me.

In which there is ketchup

So, we went to Boskone, and it was fun.

I had my doubts, as we drove out last Thursday morning, to catch the Downeaster to Boston.  It had snowed on the overnight, and the Amtrak lot at Brunswick is uncovered, as are most of the parking lots in Maine. Honestly, you’d think it never snowed here.

Still, it had snowed, and I had visions of us having to shovel out a parking space, if, in fact, the lot was open at all.

Now, this?  Is the upside of being a pessimist.  We get so many more nice surprises than optimists.  For instance — yes the lot was both full of snow and full of cars, but!  there were two spaces available, and a front-loader on the case clearing the snow.  The nice operator dug out one of the two available spots for us, leaving us fresh for a small tussle with the “automatic parking meter,”  which, given the snow and the temperature, and all, was a little less automatic than one might wish.  Eventually, however, Victory Was Ours, and we rolled our suitcases down to the actual train station, and boarded in good order.

We arrived in Boston to find that — surprise! — North Station was undergoing construction and the Taxi Feeding Grounds from which we have for many years claimed our ride across town was — unavailable.  In fact, there were no taxis to be seen.

Finally, we walked up Portland Street, to the Kimpton Onyx Hotel, which had done us a good turn once before, and asked the nice person on the front desk to call us a cab, which she very kindly did, and we were on our way.

Boskone was lovely.  We saw a lot of people we hadn’t seen in years, what with one thing and another; had a delightful Friends of Liad breakfast, and several stimulating panels.  We signed books; I lost my voice, and on Monday morning, in the teeth of a very pretty little snow that did very little violence to the Traffic of Boston, given that it was a holiday, we were returned to North Station, where a nice Transit Authority Person was able to give us succinct and accurate directions to Amtrak, and so to Brunswick, and thence to Waterville, where we were very glad to see the cats, and vice versa.

We had a celebratory Home Again pizza, as is our habit, and a good night’s sleep.  This morning, we slept in, and, now that my hair is dry, I will be going out to the grocery store.  After lunch, I will delve into The Taxes, and Steve will be hitting the galleys for Liaden Universe® Constellation Volume Four.

So, yanno:  Back to normal, until next Thursday, when Steve will be reporting to the Cardiac Unit at Eastern Maine Medical Center to have his generator replaced.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that today is Belle’s ninth birthday, which she is celebrating by sleeping in the sun, stretched full length on the cedar chest.

. . .and that?  Catches us all up.

Here, have a picture from the con.

Third before Fourth

So, let’s see.

Steve made pancakes for breakfast; we got out the trash and the recycling; I refreshed the Hummer Bar, and the water in the bird bath; Steve cut down the swinging tire, and added it to the Stuff behind the shed.  I called the lawyer’s office; washed pots and pans, unloaded the dishwasher and started filling it back up again. Also, I read my comics and as much of the news as I could stand.

Weatherbeans are calling for a high of 91F/33C today; currently 84F-feels-like-90F (29C-feels-like-32C).  Windows are open, and all available fans are ON.  Trooper has discovered that the ceramic tile in the “entry hall” (actually it’s a little smaller than your traditional sidewalk hopscotch pattern) is cool(er), and has established a Spot between the front door and the wall.  I need to be careful not to push the door wide open and smush him I believe the other cats may be down in the basement, which is not a bad idea.

*Glances at to-do list*

I think it might be time to go to work.

When last we saw our Intrepid Heroes…

. . .they were fleeing Maine with a nor’easter nipping at their heels.

Since the Lakeshore Limited, aka Amtrak Train Number 49, leaves the Albany-Rensselaer train station at 7 pm, Steve and I decided to leave reasonably early (by which I mean, the sun was up by the time we were likewise), and take the Scenic Route.

This, we did, stopping in Keene, New Hampshire, for lunch, and wending our way gently through the warm and sunny day.  Shoppers in downtown Keene were wearing shorts and t-shirts, ignoring the predictions of Snowpocalypse for the morrow.

We arrived at the train station in time to wait two hours before boarding, and having dinner onboard (Steve had the chicken; I tried to have the butternut squash ravioli, but they were out.  Instead, they gave me (after due warning) mashed sweet potatoes formed with a melon ball and served under alfredo/spinach sauce.  It was. . .interesting.), returning to our room, and so to sleep.

Breakfast next morning was a “scrambled egg bowl,” and then we arrived at Chicago Union Station with a nine-hour layover before us, which we shall pass over lightly.

We boarded The City of New Orleans, aka Amtrak Train Number 59, at 8:30 pm, were served from the lunch menu (we each had a. . .muffaletta?), and so to our room, and sleep. . .

. . .until 6:30 am, when the car attendant woke us so that we could de-train at Memphis, where we were picked up by Sylvia Cox in her hat as Guest Liaison for MidSouthCon.

Sylvia was everything that was accommodating and good-natured, got us to an IHOP so we could grab breakfast, drove us up and down River Street, so we could observe the above-flood-stage Mississippi River at first hand, and so to the hotel, where there was no waiting to get into our room, despite it being Very Early in the Day.

We repaired to our room and unpacked, then it was time to meet Jane and Pat in the lobby.  Pat filled us in on the history of the Memphis neighborhoods Jane was driving us through, until we arrived at the Children’s Museum and!

The restored 1909 Dentzel Carousel which was for many years the centerpiece of Libertyland Amusement Park.

Here, have some carousel pictures:

 

After we finished with the carousel, we invaded the Children’s Museum, which was just. . .awesome.  So much interactive stuff — including an installation that taught you how to break into a safe; a real police car, and a FedEx jet.  Things to climb on, things to climb through, an air current raceway for balls and scarves, the ever-popular Legos, a grocery store, a discussion of the US Mint and how money is made. . .

Yeah, we spent some time there.  They ought to make these things adult-sized.

We departed the Children’s Museum, reluctantly, and — because there were flowers blooming in Memphis and Maine was by that point buried under a foot of new snow — Jane and Pat took us to a Botanical Garden to admire the pansies, the tulips and the early daffodils, as well as some flowering trees.

Eventually, we came back to rest at the Hilton, had lunch, a nap, and woke in time to get ready to share the pre-convention dinner of chicken spaghetti with con volunteers and those other Guests of Honor who had arrived.  We had a lovely chat with Ellen Datlow, Editor Guest of Honor, and a changing roster of volunteers, as people broke for supper and then went back to the important business of putting the con together.

Friday was the first day of the con.  We toured the Dealers Room, and the Art Show, talked with folks we met around and about, including Glennis of the Missing Volume, and the lady who was selling kaleidoscopes, and…and…and…

Then, it was time for our first professional obligation:  Signing on Pro Row.

At 7 pm, it was time for Opening Ceremonies.  Each of the Guests of Honor were escorted to their seats by Batman or Superman.  I was escorted by Superman, while Batman did the pretty for Steve.

Each of the Guests were introduced and given a gift box full of whimsical and useful goodies.  Mike Resnick, the Toastmaster, told us a couple stories, we heard a little history of the convention, and it was official!  MidSouthCon was On!

Next morning, first thing, was the Teddy Bear Tea.  Despite the early hour, it was well-attended by a variety of plushies, who socialized with each other while their human companions told the story of each one, and did some socializing of their own.  Steve and I enjoyed ourselves, as did Lemmy, Jingles, and Hassan the Assassin.

We then had the opportunity to talk to a ballroom full of attentive people about the history and times of the Liaden Universe®, attended the Baen Traveling Roadshow, and did a panel on characterization and social world building before it was time for the banquet and the presentation of the Darrell Awards.  All the guests were brought to the front to be re-introduced to the convention, and asked to say a few words.

After the banquet, it was the Epic Women in Epic Stories panel, ably moderated by Toni Weisskopf.

Sunday morning, we hosted a breakfast in the restaurant for eight folks who had signed up to observe us before we were caffeinated.  Topics ranged from cats, to writing, to the weather, to cats, and also — cats.

After, we read Select Portions of Agent of Change — in celebration of the Thirtieth Anniversary — to a small but appreciative audience and!

All too soon, it was Closing Ceremonies, and MidSouthCon was over for another year.  Except for the Dead Dog Party, where barbecue was had by all.

Because of how the trains run, we had most of Monday in Memphis.  We used our time wisely, playing tourist, visiting the Peabody Hotel in time to do a thorough tour before taking up a position on the mezzanine to see the ducks march out of their lobby fountain, down the red carpet and into the elevator that whisked them away to their rooftop penthouse.

After the ducks, it was a stroll down Beale Street, and a dinner, before moving on to the Memphis train station to wait for our ride.

MidSouthCon was a terrific con — everyone we met was friendly and helpful, and sincerely glad that we had come to celebrate with them.

I didn’t take any pictures at the convention, but here — have some more carousel pics:

Those of you who stayed with us this far will recall that, at the beginning of the story, we were fleeing a nor’easter.  We returned home in the aftermath of a second nor’easter, which dumped eighteen-plus inches of snow on the head of most of New England.  Happily, New England knows what to do about snow, and the roads had been plowed and cleared ahead of us.  Our own plowguy had been in to shove snow out of the driveway, and clear the steps.

Today, the snow is rolling off our new metal roof, and the plowguy came by with his front-loader to push the pile of plowed snow back, so he’ll have room to put the snow from the third March snowstorm, which is predicted for early next week.

And that?  Is all I’ve got at the moment.  Glad to have gone; glad to be home.

 

Everybody talks about the weather

Those who are not based on the East Coast of the US may be unaware that we are hosting yet another Nor’easter.  Nor’easters may carry snow, rain, or the ever-popular wintry mix, but the signature aspect of Nor’easters is wind.

Lots of wind of the steady strong variety interspersed with gusts capable of lifting tractor trailers off of the interstate and flipping them casually into the median.

Areas south of us are bearing the brunt of this Weather Event.  Barnstable, Mass reports a top wind of 93 mph.  East Bridgewater, Mass reports 5.74 inches of rain fell, yesterday; while Cobbleskill, New York saw 39.3 inches of snow.

Here at the Cat Farm and Confusion Factory, we are experiencing a wind storm, with intermittent snow squalls.

The wind howled us to sleep last night, and it was still howling up a storm this morning while Steve and I were drowsing under the close supervision of three coon cats.

Suddenly, there was a thump.  Like this:

THUMP

“What was that?” I asked, without, yanno, actually getting up, because I am not one of those who runs toward the scary noise.

Steve, who is, was already looking out the bedroom window in the end-wall.

“It could have been that a bunch of wires was yanked loose from the house,” he said.

Have a bunch of wires been yanked loose from the house?” I asked, still not getting up, because, really, what would be the point?

“Looks like one of the branches of the pine tree bounced, and yanked out the wires; there’s a weird tangle on the ground,” Steve said.

For those who are not fully aware of the situation of our house, we are surrounded by pine trees, as is most of the state above Portland; and the various folk invested in wires very often just cut a tunnel through the branches so that the wires can be threaded through to their destination.  Not only did the wires from the pole to our house pass through a pine tunnel, but! when the across-the-street neighbor got his power run in, CMP cut a pine tunnel through one of the trees on his property, and also through our tree that already had a pine tunnel, in order to connect him to the grid-pole at street side.

Closer inspection reveals that What Actually Happened is that one of the neighbor’s several long, tall pine trees snapped — no; shattered — under the assault of the wind.  There’s at least ten feet of tree on the ground — the pointy crown top on one end, and a wicked sharp sword of raw wood on the other.  Looking up, I could see at least four widowmakers hung up in the branches of the surrounding trees, and wires, dangling.

What appears to have happened is that the tree exploded, the down branch hitting the wire as it fell, tearing the connections out of the neighbor’s house, bouncing on the shared wire hard enough to momentarily take out the cable connection at our house.  The down wires on our property appear to be old phone cables, and they are merely stretched down to the ground by the weight of a tree limb; connection to the house has not been severed.

Not really sure what’s to be done right now.  Neighbor appears to be in good order, despite the loss of power.  Here, the cable reset itself, the power never flickered, and God She knows who we need to call about the down lines.  Clearly, they need to be removed.  On the other hand, they don’t seem to be a threat; certainly, it’s not worth calling someone out in the middle of a Nor’easter to do it today.

In Other News, I’m multitasking — doing the laundry as I’m looking over our schedule for MidSouthCon, and starting to make piles to stuff to bring with.  One of the things we’re tasked with is reading “good parts” from Liaden books, which ought to be. . .interesting.  I also need to brush up on my Epic Heroines.

I think that’s all and everything of note for the moment.  Everybody stay warm, and safe, and dry.

Notes from two weeks on sick leave

Still drifting lazily toward Total Wellness, and remaining somewhat weepy, which is annoying, since I associate that sort of thing with being Very Ill, and I was not, and certainly am not now, Very Ill.  Despite which, I can report that listening to the Simon and Garfunkel Channel on Pandora is Not Recommended.

What else?  After all my grumbling and grouching, and a marked failure to train Dragon Mobile (Dragon depends on the speaker saying the same word EXACTLY THE SAME WAY, and I never, ever say the same word the same way, speech being one of those hit-and-miss things for me at the best of times.  Poor Ophelia and I fought over Every. Word. It was dreadful; she did try, but I had to let her go.)

Having fired Ophelia, I went back to Hey Google! (which I like marginally better than OK Google.  On thinking about it, OK Google is actually hard for me to say, since I start too low on the OH part, and kind of strangle the last –gle.)  Hey Google is pretty forgiving — I can sing, I can be stern, I can be cheerful or tearful. . .I think I’ve only been misunderstood once and I’ve been using it a lot, mostly as a tea timer (best tea timer ever!), and to add things to the grocery list.  Deleting things from the grocery list is a bit more of a challenge, but we’ll get there.

Back on the topic of being ill — I lost a few pounds — all the way down to 188! — but have drifted back to the old baseline of 190, which I assume means I’m pretty much Over This Thing.  I would like to get to 184, at which point, according to the Wisdom of the BMI scales, I shall stop being “overweight.”  Mind you, I probably don’t want to lose those six pounds enough to stop eating bread and butter, or drinking my glass of wine in the evening, so the goal will very likely remain unconquered.  But it’s important, after all, to have goals; otherwise, you don’t have anything to hang on the walls.

Fifth of Five and I have reached an impasse, and I have issued the Ultimate Threat — Fine; if you don’t cooperate, I will not finish you, and the story will be frozen in place exactly where it is now!

So, we’ll see.

In the meantime, I’ve been amusing myself by putting together the tax paperwork.

It snowed and wintry-mixed on the overnight, and I went out before breakfast to cope with the deck and the stairs, and to get the car swept off and de-iced.  It occurred to me as I was clearing off the windscreen that today marks two weeks exactly since the last time I was out of the house.  Maybe I’ll plan a trip to the grocery store tomorrow, in celebration. . .

Hope everyone’s feeling healthy and hale.