Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm sure I'm boring you completely by this point....

And I'm further sorry, but there's no new knitting yet to share. Oh, wait! There is one thing:

The baby stub of my Christmas-gift-to-me shawl. It's pretty, don't you think? I love the colors. I can't wait to see how that plays out as the shawl grows.

Other than that, I can't show you anything else I'm knitting at present, because they are presents for people who are internet savvy. Not that I think they lurk my blog just to see what I'm making for them for Christmas, but you never know. They might come to see what is to be seen. I plan on getting to Mom's cowl tomorrow, and if it goes anywhere near as quickly as most people seem to think, I'll be able to post pictures of that tomorrow or Monday.

And beyond this, I've got nothing. I'm actually pretty cranky right now -- I'm not sure if it's the holiday or the fact that no one can seem to figure out I just want a job. A career I've got, for all the good it does me. I just want a gig where I can earn money, working a 40 hour or less week, that pays for gas, insurance and my dental work, but doesn't interfere with my real work. What's so hard for people to understand?

You know, maybe it's the fact that I'm not exactly forthcoming about how writing is a calling for me, not just a job. Or perhaps it's because in America we can't tell where what a person does for money ends and who they are as a person begins. Either way, it's irritating.

Sigh. And I have no one to blame but myself!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Deep Thoughts (without Jack Handy)

I've been watching a lot of CSI lately -- the ones they play ten in a row on cable tv during the day. The old ones, back before Grissom went off to the rain forest, before Warrick died, you know, back when it was good.

Ok, ok, it's still good, but I'm not sure I'm wild about Ted Danson. I'm giving him a little bit more rope before I call it. What, I have trouble with change! It's perfectly normal.

Anyway, apparently the people who watch daytime tv have certain things in common -- according to the marketing folks who buy commercials during that time slot.
  1. Gas. Daytime tv watchers are a gassy lot -- a minimum of three commercials per episode deal with it.
  2. Colds or flu. Odd how people who aren't working with the public during daylight hours get all those colds and flus, but apparently they do.
  3. High school education, and they need more. Either an online degree through some bogus internet university or they're up for practical training in mechanics -- motorcycles seem to be dominant, but automobiles and boats are also popular courses.
  4. They need a new cell phone plan. Or just a new phone. Something that accesses the internet, because you just don't have enough time to surf the webz when you're home all day, do you?
  5. Heartburn. I guess this goes with the gas. Must be all the sitting, watching tv, ruining the digestive tract.
It's enough to depress a body who is watching daytime tv because she thinks George Eads is purty.*

Anyway, I've been being thoughtful lately. It's giving me a headache. Unfortunately, I haven't got much to distract me -- I mean, my new writing project, yeah. My Christmas knitting, yeah, but that's...three to six hours of my day (don't criticize until you've tried writing longer than three hours; it's worse than biting into an ice cream cone with the ice-pick-through-the-forehead type pain -- at least it's like that the way I do it, perhaps I'm doing it wrong). That leaves a whole other ten hours at the least to just sit with myself. Question the things I think are true.

I hate it. I wish I were less thoughtful as a rule. It's horrid, really. I'm exhausted, and I haven't done jack squat in the past week. And all I can think about is what if I'm wrong about this or that or the other? I've been wrong about things I thought before, why not this? If I am wrong, what does that mean about the way I'm living? What if it means I have to backtrack myself to a point where I'm eating crow all day in front of everyone? And none of that makes any sense unless you live in my head -- and I'm sure each of you is profoundly grateful you don't -- but trust me, even if you don't know exactly what I'm talking about I'm sure you understand the dread of being wrong and having to eat crow publicly.It's just the embarrassment of looking a bit of a fool. Or at the very least sadly deluded. Either way, unpleasant.

I hate being wrong. Particularly about this type of thing. Oh, everyone has the right to change their mind, but on this level, it makes me look stupid. Very, very stupid. For a girl who has built her sense of self around her intelligence, that's a hard tonic to choke down.

Gah. I'm going to bed now. A dozen hours of sleep might make this better!

*I will also confess, I've got a bit of a crush on Captain Brass, too. He's a total wise-ass. I love wise-asses. It's a weakness. Explains a lot about my life, really.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Things that make me happy

This is such a serene photo. It makes me happy. Point proven!

I'm tapped out this week on words -- not that I've made that much progress on the NaNoNovel, I've been working. I'm 25% done with my book (almost at 11,000 words -- not bad for three day's work, yeh know). Still and all, I didn't get as far with my writing today as I wanted to, but I was thinking I should be grateful for any progress. Yes, I missed my word goal today. Fine, whatever. I wrote. Even if all I did was two paragraphs, I should be giddy stupid happy, I was writing.

So I started thinking about being happy. Which gets in the way of writing properly, but you know. The day will be what it will be. Started thinking about what makes me happy -- writing, making tea, sunshine on the carpet, long rainy days indoors under a lap rug with a hot drink at hand -- and decided I should start a list of things that make me happy. It will help when I get into the doldrums (as I'm starting to do at present), by reminding me of all the good extant in the world. And we can all do with little reminders of that at times, can't we?

Anyway, here's my abbreviated list of

Things That Make Me Happy
  1. The reboot of Sherlock Holmes, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Sherlock is such a massive wanker, it makes me feel better about myself.
  2. The name "Benedict Cumberbatch". It's got bounce and a nice rhythm. His father wanted him to change it when he took up with the acting. What a lack of ear! I might change my own name to Benedict Cumberbatch, just because I like the bounce. Do you think he'd mind?
  3. Stories. Storytelling, in all its forms. I love books, audiobooks (it's like having my sister reading bedtime stories to me all over again), movies, television (only the fiction ones; "reality television" makes me cry for the downward spiral we are in as a culture), all of it. 
  4. The word "Defenestration". The fact that we have a single word in our language that means 'tossing someone out a window' makes me giggle because it means that, as a society, we use defenestration often enough as social and political commentary to make it tiresome to say "throw someone out a window." Doesn't that just make you giggle a bit, too?
  5. Yarn. Soft yarn, scratchy yarn, cheap yarn, expensive yarn, chunky yarn, skinny yarn, blue, pink, orange and green yarn. Just about any yarn, really. The fact that it is in some way makes the world a better place for me. For that matter, blank pages in my word processor and paint and clay and pastels and paper designed to take the inks and pigments get me high as well. It all just makes me itch with potential. Potential is totally sexy.
  6. Cozy mysteries. I don't know why a genre of books where someone dies horribly while the rest of the cast gets to live a nice, cuddly life with relatively little stress (aside from the unbelievably high local murder rate) makes me cheery, but it does. I suppose that's the point to the genre.
  7. British television and all its fabulous actors/writers/directors/set decorators. In fact, bless the set decorators especially, they never get enough credit.
  8. The smell of printed books. Fresh or musty, makes no nevermind to me. Books smell like stories, and stories smell of awesome.
  9. A quiet chair, a big book and a pot of tea. Mix and match styles on any one but keep the basics, and that's the best day ever right there. And if I get to make a ritual of the tea making -- preparing the pot, heating the water, putting tea and water together to make magic -- all the better. It's soothing. 
So there you have it. I'm seriously dull, aren't I? Such simple things make me happy, a lot of it stuff over which I have no control but was fortunate enough to trip over (I didn't make up the word "defenestration" after all). It's like...I get little gifts all the time, little "hi, how are ya?"s from the Universe to make me happy.

Benevolent Gods. You have to love them!

Stained glass windows in the building at the end of the Pier in Chicago.
Stained glass makes me happy.Beaux Arts and Art Deco style arts do it for me as well.
Don't they make you giddy with glee, too?
OK. Guess that's just me then.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Take that, stinky, smelly basement!

We discovered yesterday why the water was pouring into our basement through the windows: the excessive amount of dirt and muck that has washed into the wells over time. My gardening brother had inadvertently raised the soil around our window well until any time it rained more than, say, a millimeter, it washed crap into the well. Then the water had nowhere to go but through the window itself, down the wall, into the basement carpet and thence into the rinse-n-vac. So look what I did today:

I stood on it and stood on it and stood on it to get it to sink into the ground. You'd think my fat butt would ensure it took only a second or two to get it sunk into the ground, but it took almost five minutes. Now, maybe, we won't be sucking water out of that mucky carpet for a little while -- at least until I can get the stupid carpet cut up and tossed out. Blech. After that, I'd just be squeegee-ing it into the drain in the laundry room.

In other news, I've decided what to make myself for Christmas (what, I said all my Christmas gifts this year would be knitted!) I'm going to make myself the Show Your Colors Shawl using my Yarn Love Juliet in Dog colors (sob! I miss my fat fuzzy!):

Actually the color is "Turtle Cheesecake", but these are the colors of our dearly departed Dog.

I think it's a sign that I'm recovering that I even touched the bag this yarn is in today.

I also need to find the second skein of Berroco Sundae in Snozzberry that I have in order to make Mater Gloriosa's Christmas Cowl. I've found one of them (already balled up and ready to go), but the second.... I dumpster dove through my Stashtainer, but it's not there. I'll have to go dig through my bag again (on the off chance it's there), and barring that I'll have to go through the rolling sub-stashtainer to see if it's stuffed into a bag with some other project.

Gah. Is this a sign that I've got too much yarn? Is there such a thing as too much yarn? Before now, I doubted it, but since I've lost a whole skein of super bulky, I begin to wonder!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The shape of my day.

Before I begin, to update my NaNoWriMo progress: I'm up to page 43, and of words I have 9,100 and some small change. Not bad for someone who only got a start on Friday. Today I typed until my laptop crapped out. It's on the charge. I'm actually quite frustrated, I was in mid-scene when I had to stop today.

I'll have to boot up later to back up my file.

Beyond that, this is the shape of my day:
Wine-glassed shape, with a 4 oz serving inside. It's been that sort of week. We've had rain. For those unfamiliar with what rain means when you live on top (basically) of an underground river, let me just say the rinse-n-vac got a workout yesterday as water poured through the frames of our window well and soaked up  through the foundation into our basement. I was sucking water out of 40 year old carpet for nearly four hours yesterday.

My joy knows no bounds. Thank whatever god is listening that the rain has stopped for the nonce and I can get my wine on. I need it.

Before I get too wined up (maybe too late, I've already drunk that glass and moved on to milk), here's what I did today -- aside from nearly 4,000 words for NaNoWriMo -- I made dinner!

As an extremely poor person, I made arrangements with Mater Gloriosa to cook for the family if they'd help me out with my car insurance. Seems a fair trade, as mother retired from cooking duty about 20-odd years ago and everyone has been left to fend for themselves, and that means that mom usually doesn't eat. As a diabetic, that's not wise. At least this way, she gets to eat a dinner she didn't have to prepare -- which means it's more substantive than she usually tosses together -- and her blood sugar stays on a more stable footing than usual. Win-win.

Tonight was my first night "on the job." I heated up a pre-marinated turkey breast and sweet potatoes and microwaved some cauliflower. Mom had to show me how she made her white sauce for the cauliflower, so I know how it's done when I make it next time, and she kept interfering once the food was in the oven. Otherwise it was my show, and it was lovely. I even had some:

A small serving, yes, but I'm planning on having some more later.

How did I end up short-order cook to the family? Well, I tried my 'nuclear option' in order to settle my bills this month and it failed, miserably. I have one, you know. A nuclear option. Well, I thought I had one, I see now it wasn't all that nuclear to begin with...

What is my nuclear option, you ask?
1965, second U.S. edition, in original papers and slipcase. Pristine. Pristine, I tell you. Two owners, and neither of us have actually read these copies. You can only tell they've been around 50 years because the bottom corners of the slipcase have worn slightly from sitting on a lacquer cabinet.

Apparently, the market for Tolkien is quite depressed at the moment, as no one is paying anything like what they're worth. I had them up on eBay, but when they didn't sell I let the listing expire.

I'm kind of glad, if you want the truth. The real value to be had is in my 1969 leather-bound, slipcased edition of The Hobbit, but that one's not even an option, much less a nuclear one. I've always been more of a Hobbit girl than LotR; the indexes at the end of The Return of the King depress me. Not to mention the death of Boromir -- the only real human in the Fellowship itself. Sad, sad. But The Hobbit is a happy journey tale, with treasure and dragons and derring-do. I love it. I'm not as attached to LotR, it's longer and full of more angst and death and blood.

Plus I read all three of the LotR books in one day -- tip to tail -- when I was 13 or so, which is enough to make anyone suicidal. It's hard on a girl to make friends and tragically lose them all in the span of 12 hours. Even when they take 900 years to die (although I was never a big Aragorn fan; he's a bit poncy.)

But as I say, I'm not all that upset they didn't sell. Just like I'm loathe to sell my piano or my car for scrap. In the past two or three years I've pared my life down to the bare minimum. I have so few possessions anymore (and am very rarely interested in acquiring new ones) I almost don't recognize myself. But since I have so few things, the little I do have is items I'm emotionally attached to for one reason or another -- and while I no longer enjoy reading the longer Tolkien, it is a personal touchstone for me. Reading those books when I was 13...let's just say, that was a defining moment in my life. These are the only three copies of these books I own anymore (sold my own, ages ago, to the second hand bookstore). And these are vastly superior to the ratty paperbacks I bought for $5 a piece (tells you how long ago that was) when I was an eighth grader.

So, anyway. I'm limping onward, ever onward. I've been tele-stalking the temp agency I interviewed with, hoping to get a temp job (not likely) and I keep looking for jobs I might be competent at while still focusing on my true work -- my writing. Also, at present, not likely. But I have nothing else to do, so I just keep going.

Look, I don't know if I'm really a good writer. People have said it, but I think I'm crap. Still and all, if Rincewind is a wizard, then I'm a writer, and I just have to keep at it. I know I'm a storyteller, that much I do know, so anything else I do will always be in the way of a second job. This is my career, for good or ill, and I just have to hope I'm doing the right thing.

Oooh. Apparently the wine has gone to my head. I'm getting a bit belligerent, and possibly the teensiest bit maudlin. I'll go have a rest now. And maybe watch some of the CSI episodes I tape off Spike TV every day. The do have a way of piling up on the TiVo!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kickin' a$$ and takin' names.

Sorry for the Ke$ha-ism up there, but I didn't think the proper spelling of "ass" would be appropriate in the title of a post. Although, what will I ever do if I get a donkey as a pet, and want to talk about him? That's a poser and no mistake.

And we trot out our Epic Win doggie today because I did it. I stepped up to the writing plate, swung for the bleachers and hit it out of the park.

If the point of NaNoWriMo is to do 50,000 words in 30 days, I've almost made it halfway to where the pack should be at this point in the month. In one day. To be precise, I sat down and cranked out -- get this -- 5,400 words. In two hours. For those of you not wordnerd enough to know the maths, that's over 20 pages, properly formatted. 25 pages, really. If I calculate out the logistics based on performance so far, 50,000 words will take me 250 pages -- more or less -- and around 40 hours of actual writing.

I am teh awsum.

I have the first half of my story outlined and know what scenes I need to write, so I should be at least up to page 75 by this time next week and then I'll worry about outlining the second half. I would outline the whole thing up-front, but there's a part of me that wants to leave it loose and free to be what it will become -- and let my characters dictate their own actions by that point.

That last sentence isn't as weird or insane as it sounds. Ask any writer. They'll tell you that characters are worse than children -- you birth them, you bring them into the world and give them everything they need to survive and thrive, and then they take your plot in both (or more, if you write sci-fi/fantasy) hands and run off with it, perverting all your hard work. Ingrates.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. 25 pages. I might still write this afternoon -- it's early yet. Or I might do some knitting, instead. That would be nice, too. I suppose I could do both, no law against it.

But before I do either, I need to get a hot drink. My office is freezing. And I have to admit that doing that much work this morning makes me feel better, somehow. Despite all 99 of my problems, all is right with the world, you know, because I wrote this morning. And I wrote well. I feel a bit bloated with satisfaction, which is hellastrange, because I shouldn't -- and yes, yes, "should" is a bad word that needs to be excised from the language both for being wishy-washy and guilt-trip inducing, but if you forgive me for using it, I will. Still...I do feel satisfied. Intensely. So...phthththhthththt. Take that, haters!

Now, if only I can remember that when tomorrow rolls around....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Almost did it again!

Pretty leaves that are now long gone, just because.

Not posting for a long time, I mean. I've been running around, chasing my tail (something I need to quit, by the way) and forgetting my duties, probably because I've been intentionally avoiding my email. I find it difficult to work on my writing when I'm also sitting on my inbox, waiting for an interesting email to slide in. Or, to be honest, arrive to distract me.

I'm not handling the inability to make money well, I must admit. It's been over 20 years since I was last in a position of complete reliance on anyone else for spending cash. I'd forgotten how hard it is. Oh, well. What else can I do? I've got resumes out and am trying to find a nice, quiet job somewhere out of the way, but most employers don't want to give quiet jobs, they want to cram the job duties of six people into one job post and then demand you be company cheerleader! It's awful out there right now.

And, I'll be even more honest, I'm having trouble coping with the editorial delays on my book. I just want this project to be done and over with and posted so I can stop torturing myself with the 'what if's. What if it really really sucks and I don't realize it? What if everyone on earth will start laughing at me? What if people find it and it gets attention and I end up getting an agent out of the deal? What if people start expecting things of me and my writing because of it?

See what I mean? I need to get it out there and forgotten already -- as it most likely will be -- so I can say to myself that I've done it, it was no big deal and I can move on.


In other, more important news, Yoda is a real cat:

I sometimes take my knitting upstairs at night to work on (and watch tv with Yoda -- he freaks out downstairs, so I pretty much have to seek him out in His room), and this week I decided to watch Castle with the Yodster. Yoda was not impressed by Castle's ability to solve bloody murder, but he was fascinated with my acrylic yarn. Particularly as it moved and squiggled across the bed on its way into the scarf designed to match The Phew'llo.

Cute and annoying, all in one go. Sort of like a human child.

I am pleased he has some feline sensibilities, though. Since he was hand-raised by humans (and paw-raised by a dog) he can't stalk worth a darn, nor does he understand what a prey animal is or should be (he looks at birds as if they are interesting but not tasty, and he has no interest at all in my brother's fish), but apparently the yarn thing is bred into the bones. And he can pounce. Pouncing is adorable, particularly with those floofy snow-toes he's got.

Ah, well. He is my current consolation. That and I've got a new writing project to procrastinate on. I know, I know, I need to get back up on my horse and just go for it (after all, what else have I got to do lately?), and I will. I'm going to compartmentalize my work life -- looking for my second job on Mondays, writing the rest of the week on my new project.

Maybe I'll actually get within sniffing distance of the NaNoWriMo this year!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Oh, lawsy! It's been almost a whole week since I last posted!

What can I say, I got into slacker mode and couldn't hardly get myself out. I mean, I've done some knitting -- Christmas knitting, no less -- but that's about all. I've got a cute story to tell you, a brief description of the knitting I've done (no pictures; I'm not entirely sure if my family reads this blog or not -- they know it exists, I know that) and then I'm going to watch Castle with Yoda. He hardly gets to spend any time with me, I'm such a neglectful momma.

I told the Nieceling that she was getting a hand-knitted Christmas this year, owing to my extreme poverty. I even told her she got to design it herself. She took it all in her stride. She's ultimately knitworthy because, even though she's a whole grown up teenager, she still wears her Phoenix Tears scarf from the Harry Potter Knits book that I made her for her 12th birthday. To school and everything. That's enough to make her knitworthy in my book.

I then went and told The Phew he was getting handmade Christmas and expected far less enthusiasm than I'd even wrung from the uber-cool Nieceling. He's just barely a teenager, and a boy to boot, so I was thinking he'd be polite but disappointed. I mean, his momma raised him right, so he'd be good about it -- he wasn't going to spit on it or anything -- but I was totally surprised when he bounced up on his toes and said, "Really?" And then promptly asked for a hat.

Now, I'm glad he's excited to be getting a hat (which is, thankfully, done), and I'm pleased to knit for him. It's just...hats. I hate knitting hats. There's either all those fiddly double points or a fiddly circular needle or two. They never seem to be as easy for me to knit as they are for everyone else. But for The Phew who, even if his reaction was faked, went to all that effort to make me feel a bit better about the knitting for Christmas thing, I have designed and knitted a hat to his specifications. Since he wanted a chullo style hat (no bobbles, please) I made him a chullo in his school colors and then put the project up on my Ravelry project page as "The Phew'llo". In his honor, of course. You'll have to look it up if you have Ravelry access or wait until after the holidays for a picture. I'm not sure, as noted, if they ever check this blog.

And they're box-shakers*, the lot of them. He'd come online just to see his hat if he knew the pictures were posted.

*You know, those impatient people who sit under the Christmas Tree and shake all their gifts to try and figure out what they are. Thank God they started tying Barbie up like a bondage enthusiast before Nieceling got old enough to shake her boxes or she'd never have had a surprise gift at the holidays!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Little Loki wrap-up and S-'s post.

I'm not sure how to begin with this post. It's almost like titling things -- I'm sort of crap at it. I have two themes to this post, and while they sorta-kinda go together, they really don't. And since the post is photo heavy, I'm going to jump-cut it in the middle of the first section. You'll understand why.

Little Loki

My beloved Little Loki has gone from this: