Friday, December 30, 2022
Thursday, December 29, 2022
Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Tuesday, December 27, 2022
Monday, December 26, 2022
As Far as the Eye Can See
Sunday, December 25, 2022
End of an Era
- He was named Guido because he resembled the mafia enforcer characters in the old movies. As a small kitten, he was enrolled in a behavior study along with his littermates. Every day I had to mark down how roughly the kittens played with each other and with people, and every day all his littermates were in the 1-2 range and Guido was up in the 7-8 range. He was a bit of a legend in the behavior department.
- Guido got into everything. He saw people as convenient stepping stones so he could jump to a place he couldn't normally reach. He had to help plumbers and electricians do their jobs. Mostly, they thought this was funny.
- I had to change all the interior doorknobs because he could open anything with a lever. During the house remodel, the contractor went to great lengths to keep him out of the demolished area and it took Guido less than two minutes to get inside.
- He was the only cat to make it out of the cat porch, and he did it at least three times. Each time he would wander around on the roof, just out of reach as I clung to a ladder trying to make him come down. Before I finally fixed it so he couldn't get up there anymore, I spent 30 minutes trying to coax him to the edge while he rolled around just out of reach, and when I paused to feed the other cats dinner, he strolled in like nothing had ever happened.
- During his annual exams, he would climb all over Keith (his vet), walking across his shoulders as he contemplated getting into the ceiling tiles, and generally being a complete nuisance while we laughed about it.
Saturday, December 24, 2022
Not a Place to Live
Friday, December 23, 2022
- You can view a feed of all the posts on your local server, so you might want a server that caters to your specific interests so you can easily meet other people who are into that thing.
- Servers can get blocked by other servers. This is the equivalent of shunning someone until they get their act together.
(This picture would look better if I had a macro lens, or even some way to affect the focus on my phone. Didn't that used to be a thing?)
Thursday, December 22, 2022
The Last Write-in
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Another Three Minutes
Speaking of three minute tasks that I've been avoiding... There were a bunch of dead bugs in the light fixture in the kitchen and I thought the cover was going to be glass and heavy, so I've avoided touching it for twenty years.
Turns out the cover is light plastic and I was able to take it down, clean it, and put it back up in just a few minutes. The change isn't quite as impactful as I thought it would be because it's not dust that's blocking the light but the fact that two of the four fluorescent bulbs aren't working. I guess I should probably replace those, but that requires a trip to the hardware store, so...
Anyhow, I hope my pet sitter enjoys the bug free dim kitchen experience.
Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Monday, December 19, 2022
Sunday, December 18, 2022
It's Not My Fault
Okay, I know I make jokes about my inability to follow directions all the time, and I've always assumed my baking disasters are due to that. And honestly, they probably are.
When the butternut squash was still nearly raw after 45 minutes, I put the digital thermometer on the tray.
This is the oven dial. Note the preheated light is on, which means it thinks it has hit the temperature I set (425° F).
|Ignore the protective coating of broth splatter|
And now look at the digital thermometer. (Ignore the bottom number — that's for the alarm.) 242° F! It's barely half the temperature it should be. No wonder things always take longer than the recipe says.
I thought I was running into problems with different areas of the oven being hotter than others, but this says there's more going on.
I will just add here that it's entirely possible it's not working because something needs to be cleaned. I mean, I don't think anything has ever spilled in my oven and it looks clean to me, but I haven't run the cleaning cycle... maybe ever? I don't remember the last time anyhow.
Anyhow, I guess I need to google some stuff...
Saturday, December 17, 2022
There's a workflow style that almost everyone I know follows, though I don't think anyone teaches it: the ebb and flow of browser tabs.
It starts when you bring up a browser window to look up something, or order take-out, or do one of a hundred things. But then you see a useful link and you bring that up in a new tab so you can come back to it later. And then another. And another.
Soon, you have so many browser tabs, it's hard to find the ones you need. You have tabs open for things you can't remember. Half of them are requests for a password because your session has expired. My old boss, H., used to have hundreds open at a time and every time he wanted to show me something, I had to wait as he clicked through the most likely candidates until he found the one he wanted or gave up and opened it again.
Eventually, it ends. Either the browser or your brain crashes — you realize you're never going to get around to looking at them all, and if they're that important you'll look them up again.
So you go through and close everything you don't recognize, close fourteen tabs that are showing the same login request, and maybe even close that second window that has all the overflow tabs. And you breathe a sigh of relief because suddenly your browser and your entire life seem manageable again.
But then you see a useful link, and you bring it up in another tab so you can come back to it later...
Friday, December 16, 2022
I'm a Pro at Crastinating
- hello, here's what's in the newsletter,
- a bit about my foster kittens or whatever else is going on,
- something related to my Tess Baytree cozy mysteries,
- something related to the T.M. Baumgartner SF/F novels,
- some indie books to check out
- a closing question (sometimes with a picture of the dog)
Thursday, December 15, 2022
Wednesday, December 14, 2022
|Not gonna lie — I thought this was hilarious and I sent it to at least three people.|
I was able to fix it, mostly...
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Art in Progress
|(Yeah, I don't know what the neck is supposed to look like either.)|
Monday, December 12, 2022
Getting the house in shape for the pet sitter continues...
Yesterday, I looked at the kitchen faucet and realized I was going to have to do something. For the last two years, the handle has been falling off. Basically, if you don't hold it on just right, it comes off in your hand. And if you aren't hanging on to it, it falls down the drain.
It's been a pain for two years, but I've been ignoring it. I looked at it once, and I thought there was a screw missing, so I went back to ignoring it.
But today, I decided to google it to find out what size screw I needed to buy. And that was when I found out the screw that is in there is a hollow cylinder. I wasn't missing a screw. I just needed to tighten it with a hex wrench.
So it took about three minutes (google, watching the start of a video, then finding the right hex wrench, and finally, tightening it) to fix something that's been bugging me for two years.
This is why I should just rent. I'm terrible at this stuff.
Sunday, December 11, 2022
Update to Unlabeled: When I was washing the Talenti container, I realized I had labeled it "Pumpkin 11/2022". I'm not sure if that makes the whole thing better or worse...
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Today being Saturday, I bathed the kittens in lime sulfur and cleaned/bleached everything in the bathroom. All in all, it's a process that takes about two hours. Two-pound Princess Lemontina is starting to have an attitude about being bathed, which makes it all very exciting. It's always the little ones you have to watch out for...
I made pumpkin soup for dinner since I accidentally thawed the pureed pumpkin. It was an easy mistake to make. Almost everything in my freezer is stored in Talenti ice cream containers because:
- The containers hold almost exactly two cups, so they're the perfect size, and
- the sides are clear so you can see inside, plus the lid screws on, and
- the plastic holds up in the freezer since it was meant for ice cream, and
- I eat a lot of ice cream, so I have a ton of them.
Friday, December 9, 2022
It Was a Dark and Stormy Afternoon
It's early afternoon and a big storm is rolling in, so it's already getting dark. But I'm inside where it's dry and warm, the kittens are learning how to destroy their first box, and the dog is snoring on the couch behind me.
Guido had his annual exam yesterday. He yelled in the car and in the waiting room, but then demanded his doctor spend extra time petting him. Guido used to jump onto Keith's shoulders every time Keith tried to listen to his heart, but he's a little less mobile now. (Guido also used to escape from the cat porch onto the roof and I'm okay with those days being over.) At the end of it all, Guido was declared to be in great shape for a 20-year-old cat, after which he got his rabies vaccine and then he yelled at me all the way home.
(At his age, Guido is probably completely protected from rabies already, but I learned my lesson with his sister. I'd stopped worrying about her rabies vaccination status when she made it to 15, and then she got sick and bit someone while they were trying to put in an IV catheter. One rabies quarantine is enough for this house.)
As for me, I'm going to spend some time this afternoon working on the series bible for my cozy mysteries. It's a simple document, with a list of all the facts I've mentioned in the past — character descriptions, locations, pet names, etc. — because there are now two novels and two novellas already published, and trying to keep things consistent would be easier if I don't have to search through all the books.
How many cats does Esther have, and what are their names? Uh... six, and... I know I've named at least one, but... When the series bible is complete, I will have all that info in one place.
Thursday, December 8, 2022
(Habits: I mean the good and bad practices you follow. Not the kind nuns wear. That would be a little weird.)
After a lifetime of trying to wipe out my bad habits, I've pretty much given up on that.
Is eating sweet stuff good for me? No. Am I going to change that now if I haven't in the last 50 years? Also no. So instead of that, how about working to make sure I eat reasonably healthy food otherwise. Overall, it's a win and I can stop worrying about whether eating that chocolate is "good" or "bad".
So my current goal is to find and encourage good habits.
Twenty minutes, three times a day
This is the whiteboard above my desk:
|Yeah, it's not very legible. Whiteboards are hard to write on.|
It's Thursday morning and there are an awful lot of squares without Xs in them, but we'll ignore that. Over on the right is the "Exercise - 20 minutes" grid. A few months ago, I added this so I would prioritize getting up and moving. Twenty minutes, three times a day.
Note that it doesn't say "Run" or "Bike". It just says "Exercise - 20 min". That was deliberate. I know myself. If I don't put a time limit on it, I will keep extending it — "yesterday's run was 2 miles, so if I don't run more than that today, I'm failing." It's obvious that can't go on forever, and eventually I either hurt myself or just can't face going out to beat the previous record and stop completely.
So I made it easy on myself. Some days I don't feel like doing much, and on those days, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes counts. Some days I garden. Twenty minutes is a fairly easy chunk of time. Even if it's raining or late at night, I can pedal leisurely (or not) on the exercise bike in my living room.
And it works. My blood pressure is consistently lower by 10-20 mmHg when I do this. And it's good for my mental health, too.
Use that early morning time for good
Still looking for more
Wednesday, December 7, 2022
On my afternoon stroll, I went through the town cemetery. I'm not someone who understands attachment to the dead — for me, a body's just a collection of organic matter, and after death it's all up for grabs for whatever organism needs to use it. Or it should be — I try to be respectful of other people's beliefs on the subject, but I will never understand poisoning the earth with embalming chemicals to keep a body from breaking down naturally.
All that is to say that I don't make pilgrimages to cemeteries because I know people buried there. But this cemetery is within walking distance, and since there aren't any roads running through, it's a quiet place to walk.
Modern cemeteries favor conveniently flat grave markers the landscapers can just mow over, but this cemetery dates back to the 1800s, so it has more upright grave markers.
Lots of small children
Even a mausoleum or two
- John Wohlfrom, Born Nov. 9, 1832, Died Feb. 13, 1918 "A native of France"
- Mrs. Helena Wohlfrom, Born April 4, 1848, Died Nov. 24, 1907, "A native of Germany"
There are rows of men who died in WWII — there may be victims from other wars in some other part of the cemetery as well.
Lots of names I recognize from streets and buildings around town.
It's a lot easier to find the graves of men than women, though presumably just as many women have died since the town was founded. But the men got big gravestones that lasted, and the women got a little plaque nearby that said "Mother", as if that was their only purpose in life, and the plaques have mostly disappeared under the leaves and dirt. Or maybe the men died first and their wives just got added to the plot later. Either way, it would be easy to believe there were very few women around if you didn't look closely.
Tuesday, December 6, 2022
An Adult Lives Here, I swear
Apparently, my family has reverted to celebrating the holidays in Southern California this year. My mom still lives there, so it makes some sense, but the only thing I like about Orange County is my family. Everything else (traffic, architecture, traffic, billboards, traffic, omg is it ugly down there, etc.) sucks.
Because I'd assumed we were staying up here, I didn't book space for my dog to board back in July, and now he's on the second page of the waiting list. I suspect there won't be that many cancellations. So... I'll probably have to take him with me. That means he'll probably spend a lot of time at my brother's place during the day, since my mom isn't really into having animals in the house. And I'll have to book a hotel that allows dogs.
Anyhow, that's more or less sorted, the fungus-ridden foster kittens will go back to the shelter until I return, and my petsitter is still in business and agreed to look after the rest of my pets.
Which means I need to clean up the house so it looks like an actual adult lives here.
I mean, I'm not a hoarder, but I really don't notice when stuff piles up. I have a stack of empty CSA boxes in the living room, and the dining table has plant repotting supplies. The dog crate in the living room is covered with stacks of junk mail. There are cobwebs everywhere.
None of this stuff bothers me until I have to make the place presentable for someone else. And I haven't really had anyone visit for three years.
Luckily I have a couple weeks to get it all under control. But it's good that I'm starting now...
- I have a few hours left on the audiobook of Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. Fingers crossed the book sticks the landing — I've been enjoying it so far.
- Just finished the advanced reader copy of Fangs a Million by Tammie Painter. If a cozy mystery set in a circus of unusual creatures in the 1920s sounds like your sort of thing, you should check out this series. It's a lot of fun!
Monday, December 5, 2022
Look what you've done! I'm melting!
Oh, Hey, Speaking of the Holidays...
Sunday, December 4, 2022
Ready to Sculpt
This year, my birthday gift from my mom (via the check she sent) was an online class on sculpting. (The polymer clay class here: https://verdantsculpts.thinkific.com/courses/polymer.)
I've never done any sculpting, and I'm not particularly good at any visual art, but what the heck, I've got #5 self-confidence, so sure, this is totally something I can do. (To be fair, the description does say the course is suitable for beginners, so I didn't just do my usual thing of skipping all the boring pre-requisites in order to fail spectacularly.)
This is how far I've gotten:
Guido was helping with the photo shoot. And by helping, I mean he refused to get out of the way. I fully expect the same level of help when I open the packages.
The instructor suggests watching all the videos first before starting, and for once, I'm following directions. This has been the progression so far:
- Him: I'm not great at drawing, so I find a picture of the animal I'm going to do and start by tracing the shape at the finished size using tracing paper.
Me: Holy cow, I can probably do this!
- Him: Then I draw lines for the armature.
Me: Still on board!
- Him: Then I twist the wire into shape.
Me: I think I can do that.
- Him: Then I add a layer of epoxy clay to stiffen the armature.
- Him: Then I start building it up using Sculpey.
Me: ... How did it suddenly start looking like a real animal? (I'm betting this is where mine completely goes off the rails.)
- Him: And now I start adding details.
Me: Holy cow. This is fun to watch. Mine will never end up like that, but this is really cool!
Saturday, December 3, 2022
Perhaps you've heard of a lemontini, aka the lemon drop, which is a vodka cocktail that has a lemon flavor. I'm not a big drinker so I've never had one, but it sounds pretty good.
That's not what we're talking about today. No, today's topic is the Lemontina. (Name courtesy of my friend Hilary, who doesn't have two kittens with ringworm living in her bathroom probably until the end of time.)
|Please don't dunk me!|
Her official name at the shelter is Tina. She was one of two unrelated kittens who came in with ringworm at about the same time. Keeping kittens separate is always sad — they end up poorly socialized and don't grasp the concept that biting others can hurt — so the shelter bundled them together to be fostered together.
Problem 1: Ringworm
Problem 2: Her right eye
Problem 3: Her weight
Margo was a week or two older than Tina, and a bit bigger, but they were close enough that it shouldn't have been a problem. Except then this happened:
This shows their daily weight in grams over the first week, Tina on the left, Margo on the right. Margo gained 210 grams. Tina gained 52 grams.
There was nothing obviously wrong with Tina — she ate and she had normal poop, but she just... didn't gain much weight. By the end of the second week, Margo was twice Tina's size.
Problem 4: Her leg
About that time, I was emailing the foster coordinator the latest update when I saw that Tina was only using three of her legs. I'm still not sure if Margo played a little too rough or if Tina got her leg caught on something, but she wouldn't put any weight on her right rear leg.
She's too small to safely anesthetize for x-rays, and too wiggly to get a diagnostic x-ray when she's awake. Plus, there's not a lot you can do to fix things at that age — a splint that slips can cause more harm than good.
I was told to keep her in a confined space, which was kind of funny since she's living in the bathtub and it doesn't get much more confined than that.
She's getting better! (Sorta)
Friday, December 2, 2022
Empathy, My A**
Oh, look, I'm back for day two of Holidailies and I've had sleep AND a bunch of tea, so I'm not just giving away exclamation points today — no, you have to earn them.
(Rereading that sentence, I have no idea what that means. Perhaps I am a little overly caffeinated? Just roll with it.)
The topic of the day is Clifton Strengths; specifically, my top five.
What are the Clifton Strengths?
Is this just astrology with a gilding of pseudoscience?
Who uses this?
Can this be used for evil?
Go ahead, list your top 5 for people to skip over:
- Empathy (???)
- Intellection (introspective, need time to think about stuff)
- Maximizer (like taking good to great instead of meh to good)
- Learner (the process of learning, not the outcome, is the goal)
- Self-Assurance (feel confident in their ability to take risks and manage their own lives)
What the hell is "empathy" doing at the top spot?
Have all high learner people amassed as many useless degrees?
Is high self-assurance why you make such a terrible employee?
What useful writing tips are there for your top 5?
Seriously, though, empathy?
Thursday, December 1, 2022
Welcome to December!
It's time for Holidailies again, during which I dust off the blog and write an entry every day through January 1st.
I'm feeling a little foggy today because
- National Novel Writing Month just finished yesterday, and
- My 65# dog developed a urinary tract infection and woke me up every hour last night to go outside.
- Freeway - the 20-something cockatiel. Likes to chirp loudly when I'm on the phone.
- Guido - 19-year-old cat. He's reached the screaming houseplant stage of his life, when he mostly sleeps, I make sure he has enough water, and every once in a while he springs to life and howls his opinions about whatever he's mad about. (Long-time cat owners know this stage well.)
He has lymphoma (of course) and may not be around much longer, but who knows? He's had lymphoma for four years and he's still here. I love this little jerk.
- Georgie - 10(?)-year-old dog. The one who kept me up all night. Aside from that, he's a good boy. He's also just stupid enough that I can mold cheese around his antibiotic capsules while he watches, and he's still excited that I'm giving him cheese. Let's hear it for dogs that aren't rocket scientists.
- Gin - 3.5-year-old feral cat. She lives in the house, but I can't get near her.
- Tonic - 3-year-old feral cat. He's Gin's son. To him, I am the devil. Luckily the house is big enough for the ferals to avoid me. They seem reasonably happy.