Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Buh Bye 2019

It's the last day of the year 2019.  I know, duh, right?  I have a flair for stating the obvious.  Personally, I'm glad to see the back end of 2019.  It was not a good year.


But it wasn't exactly a bad year either.  I mean, everyone I love is still hanging in there and none of them were smushed or anything.  I still have a roof over my head, food to eat, and books to read.  I'm still hale and hardy.  The cars still run.  And so do all the major appliances.  I still love Hubs and he still loves me and our marriage is still strong.  Life is good.

It's all a matter of perspective, I guess.  And it's all about the choices we make. 

I could choose to focus on the negatives.  Lord knows, there are enough of them out there.  I don't want to do that.  I'd rather 2019 just bow out gracefully while I look forward to a better 2020.  Wrap everything up with twine, shove it into a big box, and put it in a corner somewhere never to be opened again.

Oh, there will still be some leftover stuff, so I can't entirely forget 2019.  There'll be a couple of wrap-up posts later this week.  Incoming spreadsheets for the final sales of the month at work will keep arriving until sometime in February, like they always do.  And there are income taxes to deal with in March or April.  :shudder:   But we'll let those things fall as they may. 

Bring on...
Let's make of it what we can, eh?

Here's to a better 2020 for us all, with more successes and happiness and amazing things.  Sound good to you?  Sounds good to me.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Pre-New Year's Eve PSA

With the biggest drinking night of the year coming at us fast, I'd like to take a moment to rant...

This morning, I read a news story about a woman who ruined an entire family because she was too stupid to not get behind the wheel when she'd been drinking.  The family was on its way to celebrate Christmas.  And now the dad is dead and the mom and the daughter are injured.  And she's facing manslaughter charges.

Drinking and driving is just stupid.  Seriously.

Oh, I've done it.  Although I never got caught.  Looking back, I'm surprised I survived doing it and I'm damn lucky I didn't kill anyone or damage any property.  That was 25-30 years ago.  I've smartened up a lot since then.  Cuz that was probably the stupidest thing I've ever done (and I've done some stupid shit).

Personally, I think one drink before you get behind the wheel is too much.  One beer?  One glass of wine?  Well, maybe, but how do you know how that one drink is going to affect you? 

I used to drink A LOT.  My tolerance level was up there, lemme tell ya.  One night I was out with friends and they convinced me to do a shooter.  Within 15 minutes I couldn't stand up straight.  I seriously thought I was having a brain aneurysm because I couldn't even remember doing the damn shooter and thought I'd only had my gin and tonic.  It was seriously scary.  Lucky for me, I wasn't driving that night.  My friends took me home and got me inside, where I crawled to the bathroom and hugged the porcelain god for a while.

Hammered by one shooter.  I wasn't even sure what was in the shooter.  Was it schnapps or was it 151 rum?  There's a big difference in the alcohol content of those two things.  Plus, the shooter mixed with some gin in my belly.  At least it wasn't mixed with any drugs - prescription or otherwise.  And there's another thing people don't think about - how the alcohol is going to mix with whatever else they have in their system.  Cold medicine, pain killers, etc. and alcohol can really mess a body up. 

Then they get in their car and drive home.  Or to another bar.  Or to a friend's house for after bar cocktails.  Woohoo.


So, do the world a favor.  Don't drink and then drive.  Don't get into a car with someone else who's been drinking and let them drive.  If you have to drink, find someone who hasn't been drinking to drive you home.  Designate a driver who won't touch a drop during your festivities.  Call a cab.  Get an Uber or a Lyft.  And if you can't do any of those things, don't drink.  It is possible to have a fun time without being pickled.

Don't make your fun night turn into a horrible night for you or anyone else. 

Just sayin'.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 52

That's it.  The last full week of 2019.  We just have to make it through three more days and slide into 2020.  Not that I really think it simply becoming 2020 will make everything magically better.  But it's a good starting point - new year and all that.  It's a place to try.  It's a hope for better things.

Laying in bed last night, I thought of some writerly things, enough so that I had to write the ideas down to get them out of my head.  I have a sort of plan for this week.  Not talking about it until it's set in cement, though.  I think talking about it could be part of what's harshing my groove, man.

I've been doing some online marketing this week.  Dying Embers was free Wed-Sat.  Fertile Ground and Early Grave are 99c still through tomorrow night.  No paid advertising, of course, so the numbers are low, but I did move some copies.

There was Christmas, of course.  It ended up being pretty much like any other day except for the turkey.  Copious amounts of turkey.  I made baked turkey subs last night.  So good.

Except for the subs, no baking.  I have to make granola bars today, though, because Hubs is out.

The day after Christmas, I drove up north to get license plates for the Jeep.  I'm not a fan of driving north.  It's all hills and curves going that way.  Anyway, before I hit the DMV, I had to hit the assessor's office because you can't get plates until the personal property taxes are paid on the vehicle you wish to have plates for.  Just as well.  They're due by the end of the year anyway.  Unfortunately, a lot of people were there paying their property taxes, so I got to stand in line.  Paid them, then stood in a shorter line at the DMV.  Luckily, they're in the same building.  Just a walk across the hall and then down a hall.  So, that's done for another two years.  Yay.

While I was up north, I stopped at McDonalds.  Not an odd thing in most people's lives, but I haven't been to a McDonalds in years, and I haven't been inside one in easily a decade.  And of course, their coffee was gross.   So I spent Friday recovering from that.  Got a lot of reading done.

Speaking of reading, I did a lot of it last week.  And as of last night, I am this close to meeting my reading goal.  One book to go and I'm 60% through that.  And it's a really good one.  Yay for finishing the year on a good book!

Spent some time working on spreadsheets for the new year.  Everything should be in place so that when I need them after Wednesday, they'll be ready.  With a few minor adjustments, of course.  Always there are adjustments.

Let's not talk about exercise and weight, eh?  We'll hit that again in the new year. 

I also spent time last week working on a wrap-up post for my reading in 2019.  You'll see that on Thursday instead of my usual this n that.  I need to work on some other wrap-up things.  Put 2019 to bed and all that.

Okay, that's it for my Week 52.  How were things for you last week?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 12/28/19

The last week of 2019 was a busy reading week, what with all the DNFing.  Plus, I managed to finish 5 books, though, so it's all good.  Two more books and I meet my reading goal for 2019.  Totally doable now.

I only have one unread ebook left - another mystery.  And I think I'm going to hold off getting any other new ebooks until after the first of the year.  Start with a fresh slate and all that.  I have plenty of hardcopies to tide me over.  (Added 3:30pm Broke that already today.  Downloaded a new book and then read it.  It'll be on next week's wrap-up.)

Books read:

118) The Secret of Seaside by Agatha Ball (12/27/19) - Mystery* - 4 stars.  New to me, but has plenty of lovin'.  Free off the Robin Reads newsletter.
Review: "Super cute story. Super quick read. The hero was a little too 'sensitive dude' for my tastes, but all in all a good mystery."

117) Funerals are Fatal by Agatha Christie (12/27/19) - Mystery - 5 stars.
No review. 

116) The InBetween by Dick Wybrow (12/25/19) - Urban Fantasy*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Free from the Robin Reads newsletter.
Review: "Interesting and definitely different urban fantasy premise. Smart and snarky writing, just like I like it. The teaser at the end for the next book was not cool, but it'll probably sell a bunch of Book 2s so I shouldn't really fault the guy for it. I'll probably go looking for the next book once I come down a bit from this wild ride. Right now, I need something less intense. Cuz, man, this was intense."

115) Adam (Farraday Country #1) by Chris Keniston (12/22/19) - Romance* - 5 stars.  New to me, but not underappreciated.  Free off the BookDoggy newsletter.
Review: "It started with a trope I've seen a dozen or so times - runaway bride stranded on the side of the road who is rescued by a hot and hunky hero. It's a good trope, but it's the way an author carries that trope into a fresh story that makes or breaks it for me. This author made it. And apparently did an awesome job of weaving a bit of hints for coming books in the series along the way without being annoying about it because I'm interested in reading more of the series. The only things that were kind of annoying were the not-so-subtle requests for reviews throughout the book (above the chapter headings) and the really annoying, huge review request at the end - which I only skimmed through because meh."

114) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (12/21/19) - Literature - 5 stars.  Never read this one before, but it's definitely not underappreciated.  I've had this paperback so long, I'm not even sure where I got it or how much I paid for it.
Review: "This isn't the edition I read, but close enough. I always talked about someday reading this classic Christmas tale, but I never did until now. It only took about two hours and it was definitely worth reading. I've seen a lot of the movie versions of this, from Alistair Sim's and Patrick Stewart's versions to the fun 'A Muppet Christmas Carol' to the quirky 'Scrooged'. All of them told the story in their own ways. Not sure how faithful the new 'A Christmas Carol' movie will be to the book, but I'll reserve judgement until, someday down the road, I see it."


12/27/19 - SF - Supposedly set 25 years in the future and they were quoting Deadpool.  I don't want to live in a future where they're still quoting Deadpool, let alone read about one.

12/27/19 - Romantic Comedy - free.  Meh.  It was first person present tense with multiple POV characters.  Hurts my brain.

12/23/19 - Suspense.  Not suspenseful.  Not even mysterious (which I was willing to believe because sometimes people mislabel mystery as suspense, but no).  Began with something that kinda coulda been suspenseful but wasn't really grabbing me and then dropped into bland backstory and boring character building. Gimme a freakin' body! Or the investigation of a crime.  Or something interesting for pitysakes.  Geez.

12/23/19 - SF? - free.  It kind of started out like a cross between your standard 'waking up from hyper-sleep on a strange new world' kind of SF and then it left all the SF elements behind and it was more a book about surviving in an unknown wilderness against animals that weren't really that different from earth animals and against a power hungry lunatic who should've been dead in the first day of being there.  Which would've been fine, I guess, if not for the constant jabs that animals are better than people ever were and the hero is so happy to be without civilization and... :yawn:

12/22/19 - historical romance - free.  The hero finds a piece of damning info about the heroine - a wanted poster with her likeness and name - and never mentions it, or even thinks about it, for months afterwards.  (The book had dates at the beginnings of the chapters, so yeah, months.)  Then I got to a scene where they were sharing things about themselves and I thought maybe this was it.  But no.   And if she was wanted for murder, wouldn't other people be looking for her?  But no.  And the hero was whiny.  His parents didn't love him as much as they loved his older brother, apparently.  Be a man and get over it.  There's no whining in the old west.  Harrumph.

12/21/19 - SF - free.  I tried.  But the typos and lack of proofreading did me in.  Readers shouldn't have to work that hard to read your book.  Which is too bad because the story seemed like it would've been pretty good if I hadn't had to spend so much time trying to figure out what the author meant to write.

Currently reading... After I finished the mystery last night, I decided not to start a new one.  We'll see what I start today.  Maybe that last ebook mystery of 2019.  Maybe a hardcopy.  But not a big one with the end of the year fast approaching.

What happened in your last reading week of 2019?

Friday, December 27, 2019

Why I Don't Eat Out

Around here you're taking your life into your own hands when you eat out.  So, we don't eat out.  Yesterday, though, I had to make a run up to the county seat to get plates for the Jeep before the end of the year.  And I was so hungry by the time I got through the lines and the stuffs that I took a chance and stopped at the McDonalds. 

I got a bacon, egg, & cheese McGriddle, a hash brown thing, and a cup of coffee.  The food was quite tasty.  The coffee was too hot to drink until I was almost home.  And it was exactly as I remembered - gross.  Later in the day, I reheated the coffee with some cappuccino mix, because I paid for it, dammit, and I was going to drink it.

And believe me, I paid for it again in the middle of the night.  I still feel like crap.  Live and learn.

I haven't actually had McDonalds in years - not since I heard that the one I usually visit gave someone food poisoning.  But I figured this was a different location in an entirely different state.  Live and learn. 

I used to eat out all the time when I lived in Michigan.  Road warrior and all that, it was kind of necessary.  Every rare once in a while, I'd get hit with something gross from some roadside diner.  I learned where was safe and where wasn't.  Except when the safe places changed while I wasn't looking.  Usually the chain restaurants were fine.  Except when they weren't.

There was an Applebys I used to hit when I was in a certain town where I could grab a friend and take him to lunch.  They brought out a platter with chicken so rotten I could smell it when she set it down in front of me.

There was a TGIFridays near there I used for the same purposes.  I was halfway through a meal once when I noticed what looked like a price sticker floating in the juices underneath my food.  (It was a date sticker off the packaging the chicken came in.)  :gag:

And that was in the 90s.  Move forward 20 years and miles away, and here I am reading the County Health Department Report that comes out in the paper every month and seeing just about every eatery in the county showing up with dings for not meeting the health code.  Not keeping food at the proper temperature, not cleaning the utensils, mice, bugs, food past its date...  Some places are worse than others, but eating at the least bad place doesn't appeal to me. 

There's this Mexican place up near the top of the county.  They regularly have 10-12 violations.  How they're still in business escapes me.  Even if they still had customers willing to risk their health by eating there, the health dept ought to have shut them down by now.  I know there's no way in hell I'd ever eat there. 

The local grocery store that gave me food poisoning in 2018 is still open, too, even though everyone I've talked to says you really have to watch what you buy there so you don't get sick.  Buyer beware, I guess. 

Me, I'll stick to buying my food at Wallyworld and checking the dates on everything there, too.  I'll cook it myself and we'll eat it with less worry whether we'll get sick.  Knock on wood, we've never gotten sick from something I've cooked. 

Good thing I was selfish and didn't buy Hubs a breakfast, too.  He's fine this morning.  (Which is how we know it was McDonalds and not home-cooked food.  It's the only thing I ate that he didn't.)

On the upside, I have nowhere to go today and not much to do.  If you've gotta feel gross, that's the best day to do it, I guess. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Thursday This n That

Christmas was quiet here.  Hubs made a most excellent turkey, but it got done earlier than expected, so we ended up eating at around 11:30a.  Thus ended the holiday activities.  Woohoo. 

I began to watch It's a Wonderful Life yesterday.  My god, what a depressing movie.  Sure, it gets happy at the end, but that's a heaping helping of depressing for the happy payoff.  I turned it off right after George gives up his dreams yet again so his brother can go into research.  I don't need that kind of sad in my life.  I'd love a movie where old man Potter has the stroke instead of George's dad, so George can live the life he wants instead of the life everyone else needs.  But where's the conflict in that.  Fiction needs conflict.

You'll see on Saturday that I have now read A Christmas Carol.  For as much as they play up the greedy aspect of Scrooge, I was struck by the fact that it wasn't so much a matter of which his greed was doing to others but what it was doing to himself.  It seems the movie makers all cut out the part where Fred is talking to his wife about how they should feel sorry for Scrooge because he's so closed-off and lonely.  It was the lack of giving of himself and not the giving of money that made him so pitiful.  Anyway, that's my take on it.

Speaking of reading, I'm four books away from my adjusted goal for the year.  Four books in six days is doable, if I read to the exclusion of everything else or pick short books, and I don't waste anymore time on books I don't finish.  But I'm not holding my breath.  If I don't make the goal, I will pat myself on the back for a valiant effort.

I've been working on my year-end wrap-up posts.  Better to start those now and have only minor adjustments next week than to wait and do them when next week comes.  Besides, it helps fill the boring minutes. 

Gah, next week is next year.  I'm so not ready.

Okay, time for me to go do something else for a while.  Dishes, maybe.  Maybe another cup of coffee and a few more smokes before I start the day.  Have a good one out there!

Your turn.  What's the this n that in your world today?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas Eve. Here's a Present.

Since my writing is really the only gift I have to give, starting today the book that started it all, DYING EMBERS, is free.  (And the other two SCIU books - FERTILE GROUND and EARLY GRAVE - are only 99c.)

DE is free through Saturday.  FG and EG are on sale through Monday night.  Grab one or grab them all.  If you already have them, thank you so much.  Your support means the world to me.  I wish I had a prezzie to give you, too.  :hugs:

Merry Christmas to you and all of your loved ones.  Here's to a Happy New Year for us all.

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Law is the Law

The law is the law for a reason.  Mostly, it's because, as a whole, people are stupid and can't reason their way out of a paper bag, so they expect the government to do their thinking for them and tell them what they should and shouldn't do.

"Wise people, even though all laws were abolished, would still lead the same life." - Aristophanes.

But that assumes people are wise.  Mostly, they aren't.

Like there's no posted speed limit back in here.  The wise person knows enough to drive slow (25-30 max), but there are some numbnuts who think because there's no posted speed limit, it's fine to drive like a bat out of hell.  I had one gal who couldn't stand the fact that I was driving at a reasonable rate of speed pass me in here.  Then a couple days later, there's her husband riding my ass in an area where a curve was coming up and he couldn't pass.  I pulled over so he could joyfully get the hell away from me.  One of these days, one of them is going to hit a deer, I swear.  Or the neighbor's grandkids who like to ride their bikes in the road.

Going back to my point about 'people', lest you think I'm talking about you, another great quote is...

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." - Agent K, Men in Black

Individuals have a great capacity to be smart.  In a group, people tend to be stupid herd animals.  And they generally don't pay a whole lot of attention to who's doing the herding.

So we have laws.  Most of them are pretty good laws that keep people from doing stupid things and that punish the super stupid who weren't smart enough to obey the law and avoid punishment.  Occasionally there's a stupid law - like the one where it's illegal in some places to marry a donkey, as if anyone would want to marry a donkey -  and we ignore it or the people work to get it changed.  That's the way it's supposed to go.

Except there seems to be a culture rising that thinks laws are made to be broken, that laws don't apply to them, and that there shouldn't be any consequences to breaking the laws.  Depending on who you are, of course.

There's a reason Justice wears a blindfold.  It's not supposed to matter who you are.  And she's carrying scales because justice should be doled out equally among us all.  What goes for a plumber goes for a celebrity or a politician or an athlete.  Right?  Pretty simple stuff.  Not sure why there is a certain segment who don't understand this.

Facts and evidence are supposed to be the rule.  Hearsay?  Nope.  Feelings?  Nope.  Conjecture?  Not really.  Just the facts, dude.  Without facts and evidence, anyone can say anything and you'd find your ass in jail.  "I heard from Joe who heard from Mary that she felt this person killed Fred.  And since Mary is certain, it must be true."  Which, in a bizarro world, would then land that person's ass in jail.  Without facts and evidence, lies rule the day.  And your freedom hangs out there in the breeze generates by other people's whims.

Is that really the kind of world people want to live in?  Probably not, but they aren't thinking about it that way.  Because, you know, people are stupid.  Be a person, not a people.

Just something to think about.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 51

It's almost over.  One more week of 2019 left.  Whew.

Once again, there's no writing to report.  And no marketing.  I did set up a sale for the SCIU books starting Tuesday, so look for more about that then.  Mostly, I've been working on getting spreadsheets ready for use when 1/1/20 comes around.

I read some stuff.  More DNFs than finished books, but hey, I finished a couple books.  And I read #114 yesterday, so I have 6 books left to finish before the end of the year if I want to reach my goal.  Whether that'll happen is anyone's guess.  I'm okay with it either way.

I did go fishing one day last week.  Didn't catch anything but I found a new bobber with a couple sinkers and a fake worm/hook rig.  Gotta take your successes where you can.  But by the time I quit drowning worms, man, was I ever cold.  Winter fishing ain't for the faint of heart.

In baking news, I made a couple loaves of pumpkin pie bread.  I was going to make apple cranberry bread, but my wrists were killing me and that stuff is hard to stir.

The reason I had ouchie wrists was an overabundance of trail raking in the woods on Friday.  Yep, overdid it.  Ouchie wrists go along well with the ouchie thigh I got from falling in the woods earlier in the week.  Just call me Gracie.

At least I'm being active.  I had like 4 days in the woods last week.  But let's not talk about the scale.  I've been eating a lot lately and not light stuff.  Christmas... ya gotta have chocolates. Right?  Right?

Yesterday, it was nice enough to go for a walk with Hubs.  And we both needed a day off from the woods.  Sometimes it's just nice to stroll with the one you love.

In other news... Not sure there is any other news, so I'll let you get back to your life. 

So, what is going on in your life these days?  Ready for Christmas?  Ready for the end of the year?  Ready to kick the dust of 2019 off your boots? 

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 12/21/19

Hi!  Time once again for the Saturday Reading Wrap-up!  Yeah, probably not as exciting as it sounds, but I enjoy doing it and I hope you enjoy following along.

I picked up several new ebooks this week - a suspense, a romance, and a SF.  No new hardcopies.  After the blasts of used books I've gotten already this month, I should probably stay away from the thrift stores for a while.  But then I could miss something really awesome.  What if there's a copy of I, The Jury or The Big Sleep sitting there and someone else buys it??  Gah!  The trials of an old book hunter, I guess.  I wish I had an in with all the thrift stores so I could have first pick of their new donations.  :sigh: 

Books Read:

113) Witness for the Prosecution by Agatha Christie (12/18/19) - Mystery Short Stories - 4 stars.  Not new or underappreciated.  50c at the thrift store.
No Review.
I shorted this one a star because it was short stories and some of them were kind of meh.

112) The Bug Hunter by Ken Davenport (12/17/19) - Technothriller*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Picked up for free off the Reading Deals newsletter.
Review: "Pretty good technothriller. Not Crichton, obviously, but certainly hard to put down and definitely worthy of a read."


12/16/19 - mystery.  Free.  I should've been warned by the reviews, but I figured I'd give it a try anyway.  The reviews were right.  The writing on this one was not good.  He said, she said, the maid said, the dog said.  All saids, all the time, folks.  And it was loads of 'said sadly', 'said abysmally, 'said intuitively'.  My editor would've stabbed me with her pretty pink pen if I'd tossed that many adverbs and dialogue tags at her.

12/16/19 - I gave up on the Helen MacInnes.  It was dragging and I lost patience with it.  I thought maybe I'd try it again someday, but I'm running out of shelf space and keeping a book because I might maybe someday try reading it again when I already DNF'd it seems silly.  Maybe I don't need to collect Helen along with everything else I collect.

12/15/19 - not tellin' - paid full price.  Well, that was disappointing as hell.  I'd been waiting for this one to come out and it was going along pretty good.  And then it got weird.  So I flipped past the weird, which didn't seem necessary to the actual storyline, but then the actual storyline got lame and suddenly the characters became too stupid to live.  I tried to forge ahead, because I'd paid full price for this one and I hate to waste book budget money, but it didn't seem like it was going to get any better, so I gave up.  And no, I'm not going to ask for a refund.  To me, that's like wearing shoes for a week and then taking them back because I suddenly realized they were ugly and pinched my piggy toe.  Or eating part of a pizza and then demanding a refund because the sausage I ordered on it gave me heartburn.  I'll eat the cost and chalk it up to lesson learned.

This reminds me of why I don't put titles on DNF books.  I really don't want to hurt anyone's feelings or their sales with my opinions of books I don't finish.  Titles lead to Google alerts and authors stopping by to see what I might've said about their books.  Which could possibly lead to all kinds of blerg.  Don't want extra blerg.  Got enough already, thank you very much.

Currently reading... a military SF.  So far, so good on the story.  Loads of typos, though.  One character's name is Brian and there are several instances where it's spelled BRAIN.  (Note to self - never name a character Brian.)  And there are some misplaced quote marks on the dialogue that are making me stumble a little.  I'm still not having a problem with reading it, though, so I won't DNF it for that reason.  Here's hoping I don't find any other reasons.  I hate putting time into a book only to DNF it.

What fun and interesting (or not as the case may be) things did you read last week?

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Thursday This n That

I can't believe it's Thursday again already.

I can't believe 2020 is less than two weeks away.

I can't believe some of the things I'm seeing online. 

I'm struggling a bit this morning over something I saw.  It was kind of jaw drop, although I must admit not entirely unexpected.  The writing was on the wall.  It's like when someone you know who's really old and sick passes away.  You know it's a definite possibility, but when it actually happens it's kind of shocking. 

I really don't understand how any rational person can hate Trump so much.  Employment is up, the economy is booming.  People are freer with him around than they would be without him.  I mean, I know it's the lies they're pushing about him, but that's why I said 'rational person'.   And I know... err knew... some people I thought were rational who hate him.  Not just dislike, but virulently hate him.  I don't understand it and it makes me sad.  I guess those people aren't as rational as I thought they were.  =o(

I think I need to go bake something.  I still have apples and cranberries, so probably A/C bread.  Gotta use those before they go bad.  Maybe brownies, because then, after I bake, I can eat the whole pan.  Apples and cranberries are too good for you to be comfort food.

I really need to go into the woods and throw some logs.  It is, unfortunately, too dark out right now.  And by the time it gets light enough, we'll have deer coming for breakfast.

Speaking of throwing logs, I was out there doing what I do and I fell on my ass.  (Which is also something I do.)  This morning, the bruise must be in full bloom because it hurts to sit.   Luckily, I don't think I broke any of my aberrant ass bone.  On the upside, the areas we've cleared of deadfall look really nice. 

Speaking of deer, we counted 24 in the yard yesterday - all does and fawns.  With the four bucks who weren't present but we know are around here, that makes a herd of 28.  Gah.  We cannot afford to feed 28 deer more than a mouthful each twice a day.  But with the acorns being sparse this year, they're looking for food.  It's a quandary.  If they show up again today and the light is good, I'll try and get a picture.

There's also a large flock of crows partaking of our largesse.   If they get there before the deer do, they'll decimate the piles and the deer will have a sad.  Also a quandary.

Okay, I think that's it for me today.  What's on your this n that list today?

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Pronoun Acceptance at the Highest Level

I just read a post on FB that has me a little confused.  A best-selling and renown author was talking about the word 'they' and how Merriam-Webster has made it the word of the year.  Apparently, it's now socially acceptable to use 'they' to refer to a single person.  The author also notes that it's been used this way for 600 years and then says that this is a 'game changer' for writers.


If it's been used that way for 600 years, how is the dictionary giving it the okee-dokee a game changer?  I mean, my editor can stop pointing out instances where I use 'they' instead of 'he or she', which I ignore anyway.  If, in my writing, it's not definite whether an individual is a guy or a gal, I refer to the individual as 'them' or 'they'.  Been doing it pretty much all my writing life.

Okay, I know there's a certain segment of the culture pushing to get rid of gender-specific pronouns.  I ignore them, too.  In a book I read recently, a minor character gets snotty when the MC refers to her as Ms - trying to impress upon him that he should refer to her as Mx (pronounced Mix) because that's how she identifies.  Like he was supposed to know that before he met her.  And like he'd give a rat's ass, especially since he was never going to see her again.

By the way, look at all those gender-specific pronouns up there.  I should probably go flagellate myself with a wet noodle or something.  :yawn:

Here's a funny.  I have a deep voice.  There have been many times on the phone where someone has mistaken me for a man.  (Can't mistake me for a man in person.  I have too big a rack for that.)  In those cases, I say my name and they think I've said Jeff or Seth, because my deep voice gives them the impression that I am male.  And every time that happens?  I laugh. 

More people need to laugh, I think.

This game changer doesn't change a damn thing for me.  And it makes me a little sad that it would be a game changer for others.  Maybe they're constantly berated by their publishers and editors for their misuse of a pronoun and have to change it or face dire consequences.  (Not sure cuz I don't have a publisher and my editor is cool.)  Or maybe they're so 'socially conscious' they feel bad using the wrong pronouns for fictional characters.  Or maybe they're worried that their readers will be offended by the wrong pronouns for their fictional characters.  :shrug: 

If someone refers to you by a pronoun that doesn't fit, you've got two choices: move on or throw a hissy fit.   I guarantee, you'll live longer by moving on then by doing the hissy fit. 

They, them, he, she, him, her... it's all good, baby.  But for pitysakes, don't say 'it'.  That just pisses everyone off.  ;o)

And for the record, I will never use the trendy made-up pronouns.  Unless I'm doing what that other author did and using it to make a point about a certain character.  In that case, it worked perfectly to show that individual's character succinctly. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Sleigh Ride and Glory Days

Long ago and far away, I was a band nerd.  By some quirk of fate, I ended up as first chair flute my Junior year.  Ah, the power and the responsibility... But I digress.  Every year, our high school band held a Christmas concert.  One of the highlights of the show was us playing Sleigh Ride. 

Now, I'm not sure if you've ever really listened to Sleigh Ride down deep where you can hear the individual parts, but the flute part is particularly difficult with loads of trills and things.  (Or maybe just difficult for me.  I never was very good at trills.  Trills are where you rapidly flutter between two notes.  If I remember right... it's been thirty years.) 

Ahem... Anyway...  There I was as first chair flute and it was my job to lead the section through this intricate section of the song.  Now, Sophomore year, I was like way back in the flute section.  Through graduation attrition and other people who were way better flute players than I dropping band, I hit Junior year and found myself sitting in the top chair.  Tada. 

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am terminally lazy.  Always have been.  But sitting in the top seat of the first row of the whole damn band made me actually work harder.  When the time approached to prepare for the Christmas concert, I tried harder to hit that damn song than I'd ever tried before. 

I don't remember if I played it as perfectly as I had hoped, but I damn well didn't embarrass myself.  And I remember a feeling of pride when the song was finished and the band stood to take a bow before exiting the stage.

The next year, I lost my first chair status to an up and coming Junior who actually put in the time to kick my ass when he challenged my seat.  He was damn good.  Me?  I was too lazy to practice and thus only kinda good instead of damn good.  I switched to piccolo after I lost my seat.  A harder instrument, to be sure.  So tiny.  But I got to sit in the same place in the band configuration.  And when the Christmas concert came, I was still leading the section through it's trills.

Ah, the glory days.

I still love Sleigh Ride.  It's one of my favorite Christmas songs - with and without the words.  If you follow the links, they go to the Navy Band playing it.  (The only one I found without a string section, so it sounds more like my old high school band.) 

What's your favorite Christmas song? 

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 50

Tick tock tick tock... that's the sound of the end of 2019 fast approaching.  Part of me can't wait for this year to be over, as if everything will change at the stroke of midnight 1/1/20.  Another part of me doesn't want 2020 to start yet because I know I'll have all sorts of year-end and year-beginning things to do.  :shudder:

I actually did write something this week.  As I was trying to nap, I thought of a new beginning for Cinder Ugly.  And I remembered part of it, so I wrote it down.  Not sure if it's a keeper, but I wrote something.

No marketing.  I probably should set something up for around Christmas, but I can't seem to muster the will.  It was a marketing heavy year and I'm a little burned out. 

In reading news, I had a good week and finished 4 books.  That brings me up to 111 for the year so far.  Only 9 books left to read this year to reach my goal.  4.5 books a week?  We'll see.

I haven't been keeping track of my activity or my weight.  This week, we got all the leaves into the woods, though, and I've started throwing logs again.  Gah, I'm amazed at how many limbs fall in the months I can't go into the woods.  Oh, well, it's giving me something to do in there.  We've also been pulling dead vines out of the trees.  We killed them in previous years, but we have to wait until they deteriorate enough to let loose.  And just walking from the bottom of the property to the top (400 feet, all uphill over uneven, rocky ground) is a workout.

The baking slowed down a bit after the bake-apalooza, but I did make pumpkin pie bread again yesterday.  (We ate all the stores and needed more.)  I could eat that batter by the spoonful.  I'll also make more apple cranberry bread in the coming days because we're almost out of that, too.  And I did something different for dinner one night and made BBQ pork steaks in the crockpot.  Yummers.

All my Christmas things are mailed.  Cards are winging their way all over the country - CA, CO, NM, TX, OK, MI, and FL.  The MO ones were hand-delivered.  All three of the boxes should be at their intended destinations.  One I know for sure, and the other two are marked 'delivered' in the tracking.

I have no clue what I'm doing for Christmas dinner, but I need to get on that this week.

The other day, we were sitting out back and just happened to look out the window in time to see our resident broad-winged hawk fly up and land.  He's been absent for months.  They're migratory*, I guess.  I hope he's back for a while, so we can watch him hunt for small critters in the forest.  He's so cool.  (And no, I don't know for sure it is a 'he'.  Could be a she.  Don't care.)  Also, I'm seeing bald eagles on a regular basis again.  Yay.  Oh, and I'm seeing the yellow bellied sapsuckers again.  Also, yay.  I love our winter bird visitors.

Well, I guess that's it for me.  What went on in your world last week?

*Yes, I pronounced that my-GREAT-or-ee.  Monty Python has ruined that word for me. ;o)

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 12/14/19

This was a good week for reading, even if it was also a week for DNFs.

I picked up a few new ebooks this week and read one of them immediately (Bad Boy).  Another one is a book two I've been waiting for, so SQUEE.  I still have two books left from November - the technothriller and the SF.  Now I also have a cozy mystery, a historical romance, and a YA UF to read.  No new hardcopies.

Books read:

111) Black Candle by HP Bayne (12/12/19) - Paranormal Suspense*# - 4 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Free off the Freebooksy newsletter.
Review: "Excellent paranormal suspense. It's not often that the murdered help bring their own killers to justice. I guess they just need to contact the right person. In this case, that's Sullivan Gray. Anyway, it was a fun read with an interesting premise and likeable characters. Definitely glad I picked this one up."

110) The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie (12/10/19) - Mystery - 5 stars.  Umm, Agatha Christie.  I've had this one for a while.  Not sure where I got it or how much I paid.  It's just part of my collection.
No Review.

109) Bad Boy: Invertary #5  by Janet Elizabeth Henderson (12/9/19) - Romance* - 5 stars.  New to me and only kind of underappreciated (more than 50 reviews, but only slightly more).  Free off the Robin Reads newsletter.
Review: "This is the best romance I've read in months. Super sweet with laugh-out-loud funny bits and spicy bits and heart-tugging bits. I loved Abby, and Flynn as the hero in reform from his bad-boy status turned out to be perfect for her. I especially loved Katy. What a great ending, too! Brilliant all the way around."

108) Chancy by Louis L'Amour (12/7/19) - Western - 5 stars.  I'd never read any of L'Amour's westerns before, so kind of new to me, but not underappreciated.  Picked this up at the thrift store during an 8/$1 sale.
Review: "This was actually the first Louis L'Amour western I'd read. I can see why he's right up there with Zane Grey as the best of western fiction. Yep, it was the first, but it won't be the last."


While not necessarily DNFs, I spent a portion of Thursday taking books off my shelves, reading the blurb, and then putting them back.  Some of them, I'll read when I'm more in the mood.  Others are destined for the donation pile, but I'll probably give them another chance at a later date.

12/12/19 - a historical romance.  Part of that 8/$1 sale.  I tried.  Really I did.  The author came highly recommended, but I just couldn't get into it.

12/7/19 6:20am - romance.  Free.  Gah.  Another budding wordsmith.  Is this a new trend or did a just hit a couple of these in a row? 

12/7/19 6:15am - supernatural thriller.  Free.  Too much wordy, not enough thrilling.  Not everything needs to be described in detail.  And they'd just be getting into some thrilling when the wordy would start up again.  If they are not now a major character or going to be sometime in the near future, I do not need to know every little freaking thing about them.  And in purpley detail.  I love words as much as the next book junkie, but this author seemed to be in love with them in a stalkerish kind of way.

Currently reading... one of my Helen MacInnes paperbacks. 

What did you read this past week?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Collecting Books

Okay, so I watch game shows on occasion and one of my favorites is America Says.  It's a show where the contestants have to guess how America would fill in the blanks to a variety of statements.  Recently, I watched one where the question was something like 'The first things I collected were ______.'  And they give seven blanks for the top seven answers.  I don't remember them all, but they were like stamps, rocks, stuffed animals, etc.

Books was not one of the top seven answers.  =o\

I've been collecting books since I was old enough to hoard anything.  I had a whole slew of these tiny fat paperbacks (not sure where those went... must ask Mom) and a collection of Sweet Pickle books (I sold those).  In my teens, I started gathering old books by classic authors.  Whenever I had a little extra money and I was in a place where there were old books, I'd pick up what I could. 

My father was a great one for flea markets and even when I wasn't with him, if he saw an old book at a reasonable price, he'd buy it for me.  I still have most of those - including a few by authors I've never heard of or authors I have heard of but this was an unheard of title.  Dad wasn't picky about the books he bought for me.  If it was old and inexpensive, he bought it.

In college, I would haunt the used book store in town.  I snagged a lot of great finds in there, hiding in the bins no one wanted, where they were either free or 25c.  I found a brilliant - if poor quality - near first edition of The Fountainhead in there with the original owner's name and military information written in the front cover.  He was in a bomber group over the Pacific.  That one is my favorite, I think.

Anyway...  These days it's really hard to find those kinds of books for cheap.  In the age of the internet, anyone can go online and find out what a book is 'worth' and mark it up accordingly.  I haven't found a really impressive hardcover in years.  Nothing like my Tennyson from the 1800s anyway.  (The book that shall never be opened because it's disintegrating.)  Or the leather bound softcover of The Complete Works of Shakespeare from the 1930s who pages are so thin and soft and silky.  Or the late 19th century copy of The Rubyiat of Omar Khayyam.

These days, I collect old crime novels.  I can still find those at thrift stores and usually don't have to pay more than 50c a piece.  I'm working on Mickey Spillane, but really any old crime novel will work - MacLean, MacDonald, Pendleton, Ellery Queen, Sax Rohmer when I can find him, Erle Stanley Gardner, Rex Stout, etc.  I'm in the process of acquiring all the Agatha Christie novels, in as old an edition as I can find.  And I recently discovered Helen MacInnes, so I'm snapping her up, too. 

I also collect Phyllis Whitney novels.  Again.  I had a collection of her that I started when I was a teenager, but during one of my many moves, I let her go for some stupid and unremembered reason.  I'm rectifying that. 

And I collect Vince Flynn novels.  I only have three of his original works left to acquire.  (I'm eschewing the ones written after his death which he had no part in other than they're about his character and the publisher is slapping his name on them - above the smaller name of the guy who actually wrote the books.)

Oh, yeah, and I also do collect SF.  I have a collection of Andre Norton paperbacks I bought as a box lot. I'm working on Bradbury and Heinlein, but SF is harder to find around here.  I used to have a lot more, but when I was packing to move to MO, one box got unintentionally donated to somebody somewhere.  =o(  Lucky I managed to move another box that had a couple rare, old SF novels in it.

Anyway, I totally geek out about my books, as you can probably tell from reading this far.

I have paper printouts of certain of these authors' books, so I can check off what I have and what I've read of them.  This is one of the rare times I wish I had a smartphone, so I could carry the lists with me.  I can't tell you how many times I've bought books and discovered I already had them.  In those cases, I keep the better copy (or older, rarer copy) and cycle the other one back into the thrift store system.  I win, St. Vinny's wins.  It's all good.  If it's really a special book, I'll keep both copies. 

So, you can see why I talked about needing more shelves. 

What about you?  Do you collect books?  Do you collect anything?  What would be on your top seven collectables list?

For the record, I'm not sure if any of the books I collect are really worth anything to anyone but me.  But that's not the point.  At least it's not for me.  Maybe the Kid will find out if they're worth anything when she inherits them all someday.  Hell, maybe by then, they really will be worth something.  LOL

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Thursday This n That

It seems like every Christmas, Dad would get Mom a box of chocolate covered cherries.  Naturally, because of this, I assumed they were Mom's favorite.  I would buy her them, too, on occasion.  Then several years after his passing, she told me that they were not, in fact, her favorites.  They were his favorites.  I assume he did this to get around being selfish and buying them for himself by buying them for her and then sneak eating her chocolates.  Don't do this.  If you love something, buy it for yourself.  Proudly.  Really, it's okay.

For the record, I love chocolate covered cherries.  They aren't my ultimate favorite, but they're right up there.  If I had to name a favorite chocolate to eat around the holidays it would be Belgian seashells.  Too bad I can't find them around here anymore and they're a bit pricey to order online and my ass definitely does not need a box of chocolates.

The Kid's Christmas box arrived at her home.  When I talked to her about it on messenger, she said something along the lines of  'and I may or may not already be wearing the pajamas... they're so soft'.  I haz a happy. 

I've been shifting books around again.  I'm running out of room.  I shifted some of my non-fiction around and commandeered a couple shelves there for literature.  Moved some literature - Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald - over there and then moved some books over into literature from my other shelves to make room.  That'll tide me over for a little while, but I really need to invest in new bookshelves.  And cobble out someplace to put more shelves. 

Once upon a time, I asked the manager of the closest thrift store if let me know if he ever got any bookshelves in because, while they always have scads of other furniture, they never have bookshelves.  He told me that as soon as he gets them in, they fly out the door.  I'd like to think it means people around here are reading.  They're probably using them for doodads, though. 

Have you seen the latest in decor?  People are putting books on their shelves with the spines turned toward the wall.  I assume this is so they can have continuity of color.  I think it's sick and wrong.  I mean, books can be used as decor, I guess, but with the spines turned out there's always a possibility they'll be read, too.  I shudder to think people might be buying old books that should be loved and treasured and then turning them to the wall and forgetting them.

I have some seriously old books.  There are a couple so old I'm afraid to touch them for fear they'll disintegrate.  Loved and treasured, but never opened again.  Which is kind of sad.

Okay, I think that's quite enough out of me this morning.  I'm starting to get weird.  Got any this n thats for me this morning?

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Park Like an Idiot Day

I got all the Christmas cards done yesterday morning and took them to the post office along with the Mom boxes, so if you're expecting something, it should be there soon.  (There's always one or two I forget, so I have a couple more to send, but those'll go out as soon as I buy more stamps.)

While I was out, I discovered it was Park Like an Idiot Day and I didn't get the memo.  Our tiny post office has parking for maybe five cars and a handicapped spot.  It's a dirt parking lot, so of course, there are no lines (except for the handicapped spot which is paved and well marked).  When I got to the post office, there was a farm truck with two round bails on the back, parked stupid and taking up enough space for two cars.  Next to him was a sheriff's SUV parked stupid and taking up enough space for two cars.  The one space left was occupied and farmer dude and deputy were chatting.  I went into a holding pattern, waiting for the one space left to open up.  He left and I slid my little Cavalier into the space.  As I was getting out of my car, a lady pulled up behind me.  "I'll be quick," she said.  "Promise."  And she was.  While I was inside, mailing my packages and cards, another lady pulled up behind me.  The second lady was old and not quick. 

Meanwhile, the two dudes were still chatting.  Between the old gal and the dudes, I couldn't leave without risk of car injury and trust me, if I'd scraped the sheriff SUV while trying to avoid the old lady's car, it would've been my fault even though he was parked stupid and she had to park stupid because of him and his friend. 

I eventually made it out of the post office.  (So irritated that I forgot to buy stamps, so I'll be back there today.)  Then I went to the bank.  It's not a big bank, but it has a lot of parking spots along the side if you're willing to walk.  Some numbnuts in a truck with a trailer had parked in front of the bank in the space between the parking spaces - you know, the space for driving - instead of the long row of parking spots no one ever uses.  I think he was there applying for a loan, for pitysakes.  Anyway, I dillydallied around long enough chatting with my bank friends that he left before I did, thereby making it easier for me to pull out of the space I'd wedged myself into.  Lucky I dillydallied, too, because irritation almost made me forget to get some cash while I was there.  Derp.

Then, I get back to the road that leads back to my neighborhood.  People are always parking around there for one reason or another.  There are places you can pull off onto the grass, so it's usually not a big deal.  Yesterday, there was a dude parked in the road, talking on his cell phone.  Anywhere else, it wouldn't be a problem, but here you turn off the highway and then turn to go uphill to turn and go toward the neighborhood.  He was stopped on the uphill between the two turns.  Good thing no one was coming from the other direction or POW. 

Today is Wallyworld.  Here's hoping Park Like an Idiot Day is over or it may turn into Go Postal on Stupid People Day. 

:sings:  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Every where I go. 

Not sure what it is about the holidays that makes people loose all sense of reason, decorum, and courtesy, but it does.  Be careful out there, folks.

(Yes, I could've politely asked the dudes to move their chat to the empty parking lot up the road a bit, but I didn't want risk pissing a sheriff's deputy off.  I'm pretty law-abiding, but I do have a tendency to speed a wee bit.  I so do not need a Barney Fife busting me for doing 3 mph over somewhere down the road because he's got a bug up his butt.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Trees and Leaves (Or The Joy of Raking)

This is Oberon.  He's the fairy oak that lives in our front yard.  Now, this picture doesn't do him justice.  There's nothing for perspective.  Just understand, that's a two-car wide driveway next to him.  Or to give you something better to go on, here's me standing next to him for my author photo shoot.
His sprawling limbs stretch the length of our house and then some.  He's a big boy.  A big boy with lots of leaves.  Lots of leaves that dump down onto our yard.

Oh, he's not the only culprit.  He's just the worst single offender.  We also have 6 black walnuts, three hickorys, two smaller oaks, two black cherries, and two elms.  (Plus, 4 cedars, but they don't cause me any grief at leaf raking time.)  And that's only the trees in our yard, not the trees in our woods or the trees on our neighbor's wooded lot next door.  He's has sycamores that cheerfully drop leaves onto our south lawn. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love our trees, even if Oberon's the only one I've named*.  I even love raking.  It's a lot of work but it's great exercise that I only get for a while in the Autumn.  I'm just being funny this morning because the raking we did these past couple days has left me a little sore.

Hubs and I moved all the leaves into like 5 piles over the past week or so.  Then the piles were moved down the hill or across the yard into position to be shoved into the woods.  The last couple of days, we've been shoving those piles into the woods.  We've only got half of the biggest pile left.  Then we'll go into the woods and spread the leaves around a little.  Should be fun. 

Hubs likes to joke that we're working on filling up the valley behind our house, but by the time next Autumn rolls around, the leaves will be mostly gone through a process of decay and animals walking through them, kicking them around, and degrading them further.  Kind of like a bunch of natural compost piles except the critters are turning the compost for us. And then we'll start the process over again. 

The joys of living in the woods.  I mean, we could leave the leaves, but then our yard would have no grass at all (it's pretty piddlin' as it is).  We could also burn the leaves like some of our neighbors do, but that leaves a nasty burnt spot on the ground and the heat from below isn't good for the trees.  So, we rake.  It's a small price to pay for the shade our trees provide all summer long.

What about you?  Do you rake, mulch, ignore your leaves?  Gah, do you even have leaves?  I can't imagine living somewhere that doesn't have to be raked.  

*After I wrote this, I remembered I also named one just off the yard - Little Red.  It's a red oak I've been babying since we found it back there.  It was maybe 4 ft tall when I took it under my wing and now it's easily double that.  It's so pretty in the fall.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Pre-Christmas Stuffs

I'm getting ready to send out Christmas cards.  If you've changed your address in the past year, or you're a friend who should be getting one and never have, email me your address.  Obviously, I can't send tons, but I hate to think I might've forgotten someone.  In the age of the internet, there are people I care about that I've never physically met and that I have no idea about where they actually live.  If you're one of those, I'd really like to send you a card. 

Other people's cards have started to arrive.  Yay!  We already have three under the tree.

The baking of Christmas gifts is done.  I made two loaves of pumpkin pie bread, two loaves of apple cranberry bread, a batch of oatmeal cookies, and a batch of granola bars.  Who gets what is the big surprise, I guess, since I pretty much outed my prezzies here.  One package is already in the mail.  The other two packages will go out today or tomorrow.  I am not done baking overall.  As we run out of baked goods to eat, I will make more.  Cuz I'm a baking fool. 

The Kid's box was the first to go.  I always send her a box early and send it Priority Mail.  And she knows she can open it on arrival.  That way she can enjoy her prezzies all the way through the Christmas season. 

I may have said before that Hubs and I don't give each other gifts anymore.  Of course, anything out of the ordinary in regard to purchases gets joked about as being a present.  This year, we got each other a new coffee maker!  It's the gift that keeps on giving.  Literally.  I mean, no one should be subjected to me without coffee.  (Either way you take that, it's true.)

Really, though, we don't need anything, so what exactly would we give each other? 

What are you hoping to get for Christmas?  Are you giving any awesome gifts this year?  Do you do Christmas cards? 

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 49

Only three weeks left to 2019!  Yay!  I am so done with this year.

I've given up on 2019 as far as writing goes.  The whole year was a wash.  Okay, maybe not the whole year.  I think I did some stuff at the beginning of the year.  I'll have to go back and look when I do my yearly wrap-up.  Anyway, I'm planning on spending the rest of this year not worrying about it.  And not talking about it, if I can help it.  Which is why posts at Outside the Box are going to be kind of sparse.  If I'm not there M-W-F, check here for posts.

In marketing news, I might actually pay off that ad I did in November.  As long as people keep reading pages.  Ah, page reads.  If not for you, I'd be sunk.  Of course, with the way Amazon pays, November and December actually count toward the following year.  I really need to adjust my spreadsheet to show that.

This was a pretty good reading week.  Three really good new-to-me books.  Yay.  Then yesterday I hit two DNFs in a row before I fell back on a Louis L'Amour paperback and devoured it.

It was also an awesome baking week.  I made two batches of breads - pumpkin pie and apple cranberry.  And then I made granola bars.  And then I made oatmeal cookies.  Lucky for my ever-widening ass, a large portion of that will be going in the mail as prezzies for the Moms and the Kid.

I probably should stop calling it my ever-widening ass, since I've been holding steady for the past year and before that it was shrinking.  I did a bad job keeping track of activity this week, but I was out in the woods a lot, did some raking, and I did some cleaning inside.

The Christmas tree went up.  Actually, if you missed it, I had to buy a new tree because the other one wouldn't light above the bottom of the tree.  It's up and it's pretty, so it's all good.  I was talking with a friend who said she doesn't bother decorating for Christmas anymore.  That makes me sad.  I mean, we don't exchange gifts anymore, but having the tree up and the house decorated gives us both little spots of happy throughout the day.  I encouraged her to decorate, if only for that reason.  Little spots of happy certainly don't hurt.

Oh, yeah, and when I was working on clearing dead limbs, one jumped up and smacked me in the face.  Stuff happens, but now I have a scab on the bridge of my nose, which is kind of irritating because I keep seeing it out of the corner of my eye.  I'm gonna be cross-eyed before it drops off, I swear.  ;o) 

Other than that, nothing much going on.  We're warm and well-fed, healthy and free.  Everything else is just incidentals.  Stuff happens and we move on.  Keep your head up out there.  :hugs:

What was your week like?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Saturday Reading Wrap-up - 12/7/19

Well, hello there!  Here we are again.  It was a better reading week this week than last.  Until Thursday when a dead limb jumped up and smacked me in the face, scratching the bridge of my nose and making wearing glasses a tad uncomfortable.  Reading shouldn't be uncomfortable, doncha know.  :shrug:

The only new thing I picked up this week I've already read - see #107 below.  I still have 4 unread ebooks from November - paranormal mystery, romance, technothriller, and SF - and another I'm currently reading. 

Books Read:

107) All the Snake Handlers I Know Are Dead by Dennis Danvers (12/4/19) - Paranormal Romance*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Picked this up for 99c on the recommendation of a friend.
Review: "Interesting little story. Definitely different with an unexpected twist. I was a little sad it was so short."

106) Past Due by Richard Stockford (12/2/19) - Mystery*# - 5 stars.  New to me and underappreciated.  Picked this up for free off the Book Adrenaline newsletter.
Review: "Interesting mystery tying past to present, and a string of new bodies for the present detective to investigate. I really enjoyed this one. Good characters and an intriguing premise with a different sort of tale-telling than your typical whodunnit."

105) The Flaw in All Magic by Ben S. Dobson (12/1/19) - Fantasy Mystery* - 5 stars.  New to me but not underappreciated.  Snagged this one from the ENT newsletter for free.
Review: "That was a most excellent book. I loved the whole fantasy/mystery angle. I loved the characters and the plot and the setting. Totally enjoyable read. I'll definitely be looking for more in this series and from this author."


Currently reading...  A supernatural thriller I picked up for free.  The start was kind of wordy and not that thrilling.  It got better, thank goodness.  I'd still call it a paranormal suspense rather than a supernatural thriller, though.  We'll see if it holds up.  (Update 7:30a: Nope.  Didn't hold up.  It'll be on next week's DNF list.)

What have you been reading this week?

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Thursday This n That

One week from Thanksgiving and I am almost done with the turkey.  We have one meal worth of leftover turkey-n-gravy.  And, of course, the turkey noodle soup I made yesterday which is now in the freezer for any time we're feeling like hot, homemade soup.

I'm making hamburgers for dinner tonight because I am just about turkey'd out.

Yesterday, I made two loaves of pumpkin pie bread to give away as gifts.  Today, I'll make two loaves of apple-cranberry bread, also for gifts.  With the scattering of gifts I already bought for the Kid, I'll be done with Christmas as soon as I can get it all baked, packaged, and shipped.  This is what comes from not living close to family.  Everything Christmas has to be done and shipped well before everyone else is done.

I have a new tree:
Isn't he pretty?  He has all my favorite ornaments and the topper is a pine cone with a pretty red bow that I've had forever. The box in front is Christmas cards.  I'll get those out soon.  And the jar is filled with starlight mints (which sit in a bowl the rest of the year).  There are never any presents under the tree anymore.  We don't give each other gifts.  What's there now are ornaments too heavy to hang and ones that don't fit.  What I'll also do is put Christmas cards all around him as they come in.  It's very festive and happy-making.

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can listen to Christmas music.  I can't tolerate it before Thanksgiving, but after is totally cool.  And once New Year's Day is over, I'll stop it again for another year.  I think it makes the season more special to keep it down to one month.

Standing in the checkout line, I got attacked by the candy.  I'm usually pretty good at holding out, but this time I got a bag of English Toffee Peanut M&Ms and a big Hershey bar with Whopper bits in it.  Yummers.  I'd recommend them both.

We like to watch documentaries on air disasters.  It's interesting to see how they figure out exactly what happened.  What can I tell ya, I like mysteries.  Yesterday, one of the channels was having a marathon of a series I hadn't seen before, so I settled in.  And then they got to the one about a plane at the end of the Vietnam war that was evacuating children out of Saigon in 1975.  That was a hard one to watch.  The babies in the passenger area all made it out fine, but the older kids in the cargo area...  None of them survived.  All due to a mechanical failure in the locking clamps of the ramp at the back of the plane.  Yeah, I cried.

My knowledge of history is woefully inadequate.  By the time I reached the point in school where they would start teaching history, they had changed it to 'social studies' and nixed the history part.  Therefore, I find myself ignorant of things like WWII and Vietnam.  Hell, most everything I know about the Korean War, I learned from M*A*S*H, which is just sad.  So, I watch documentaries and try to fill the gaps.  But I'm wary of a lot of documentaries because instead of telling the damn story, they insert their own little spins and opinions. Sorta like the news these days.  Just give me the facts and let me decide what to think of them. 

Prepping for next year, I already bought the calendar that'll go above my desk and a new day planner.  Woohoo. 

Well, I think that's it for today.  What kinds of this n that have you got for me?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Out in the Woods with Hot Pink String

Since I don't have anything really writerly to talk about today, I decided to post here.  (Outside the Box = writerly stuff.  Here = everything else and also some writerly stuff.)

Yesterday, I went to Wallyworld and bought a new Christmas tree.  While I was there, I also picked up two spools of hot pink mason's twine.

Why?  Well, for the past six years we have been unsure of our property borders.  Recently, the guy to the north of us had his property surveyed.  This gave us our NW pin placement.  With this, we wanted to see exactly where that north border was.

Taking the hot pink mason's twine (the twine was hot pink, not the mason) (hot pink because that was the only color they had besides white) (mason's twine because that was the only colored stuff they had in longer length spools) and some stakes, we went into the woods to stretch a length of line from out bottom (NE) pin to the top pin.

Now, if the line had been where I thought it was previously, the whole thing would've been much easier.  I've spent countless hours clearing a path along what I assumed was our north border.  Unfortunately, I had the angle wrong because we never had western pins.  (Still don't have a SW pin, but we can calculate that from the others.)  And my line angle was off by the time it reached the road.  Anyway, there was a lot of crap we thought was the other guy's property in the way that needed clearing.  By yesterday, we'd gotten most of it cleared to the point where we felt confident we were ready to run the line.  And we were like 99% right.

We tied the bottom off to a sturdy stake and off we went.  So there we are, Hubs and I, in the woods pulling a hot pink string about the diameter of yarn, but stronger, up a steep hill.  He was in front, clearing a path, and I was behind pulling the string.  Lucky for us, no big trees were in the way.  Some little trees were sacrificed, but those were mostly buckthorn and spice bush.  Go a about 100 feet, check the angle, plant a stake.  Another 100', check the angle, plant a stake or move a stake to re-calibrate it so everything was in line.

It took us about 2 hours.  We now have four stakes in roughly the right line to make us a northern border.  We know where we can mow and we know where we can safely trounce around without wandering onto our neighbor's land.

Meanwhile, the deer kept walking up and trying to make it to the feeding area.  Then they'd see us, huff and run the other way.  At one point, when we were looking down toward the bottom, we saw a half dozen deer jumping our hot pink line.  After we finished, Hubs put out the evening feed and the deer swarmed the yard.  We ended up with about a dozen hungry does and fawns.  They had to wait a bit, but no harm done.

The hardest part?  Respooling 450 feet of hot pink string.  LOL, okay, that part wasn't hard just tedious. 

I know, I know.  Most people would think 'why bother?' but we're very conscious of property rights here at Sanderson, Inc. LLC.  Don't want to be touching land and trees that don't belong to us.  As such, there's this one cedar whose limbs hang over our yard and when Hubs mows, he's had to duck and stuff for the past six years.  Now we know that tree is ours and I'll be trimming those damn limbs.  Yay!

And of course, this means loads more things for me to do in the woods.  Woohoo.  =o)

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Sometimes Stuff Just Happens

I have a new coffee maker.  The old one freaked out after the last power outage and wouldn't keep the time correctly, no matter how many times we reset it.  Sounded like some kind of electrical thing and I didn't want a meltdown, so I got a new one.  Same make and model. because it's cheap, it makes good coffee, and the last two I've had have lasted about 3 years each.  Which is better than the one I bought right before we moved here.  It met the hard-hard water enemy we have and fell in battle after a week.

Then after I got home from the store with the new coffee maker, I attempted to set up my little 3 ft, pre-lit Christmas tree.  Plugged it in and only the bottom half lit up.  Now I have to make a special trip to the store to get a new tree.  Lucky for me, the tree will probably cost about the same as the coffee pot - $20.  I think I'll get one with multi-colored lights this time.  The last one was all white lights.

Eh, maybe this happened because I was patting myself on the back about how much money I saved at the store.  Well, the universe showed me, eh?

If I was really superstitious, I'd begin getting paranoid about what would break next, because of the whole 'things happen in threes' belief.

Or perhaps the coffee maker died because after three years, it's inexpensive electrical components began to fail and the power outage goosed it along.  And the tree lights died because of the tiny wiring I was inadvertently jerking around while trying to get the limbs to settle just right so it wouldn't look like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  (A battle I have every year.)

Most things happen for a reason.   Sometimes the reason is that I buy cheap stuff.   Sometimes the reason is that I'm careless. 

Heh, I just thought of the third thing, which actually happened first - the snafu with Wish Hits the Fan on Friday led this string of minor irritations.  That was carelessness on my part.  One, two, three.  Maybe now I'll be a little more careful for another three years.  (I won't stop buying cheap stuff, though.  I'm miserly that way.)

Occasionally, there is no reason behind something happening.  It's human nature to look for a reason, but sometimes there simply isn't one.  It's those times when I have to shrug and say 'shit happens' and move on.

Here's hoping nothing else happens this week, this month, or this year.  I could really use a break.  And here's hoping nothing happens to any of you.  :hugs:

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday Update - Week 48

Happy December.  And here we are again.  Countdown to 2020... 4 weeks left of this year.  Which means I'll have to start with the making of spreadsheets for next year soon.  More on that tomorrow.

I wish I could not talk about writing.  I fell down bad this week, as evidenced by the NaNo thingie over there on the right.  Not sure what the problem is exactly.  A slurry of things all mixed together into a puddle of gunk.

I also haven't done any marketing.  I might try another sale this month.  At this point, I'm not sure what would work.  I do have people continuing to read pages in KU from the last sale, but I'm still about $10 down on my last ad.

If you didn't see the post on Outside the Box on Friday, I screwed up.  It's fixed now.  Let's hope it doesn't come back to bite me in the ass with bad reviews.

My reading week was kind of a non-event.

In baking news, I made pumpkin pie bread.  And I made the evaporated milk to use in the recipe.  (Because I was a dork and forgot to buy some.)  If you're ever in a pinch for evaporated milk, gently boil regular milk until it's reduced by about half and voila, you have evaporated milk.  Took me about 15-20 minutes to get 1.5 cups of 2% down to 3/4 cup of evaporated milk.  Of course, you have to strain out the solids.  Nobody wants lumpy milk.

Of course, there was Thanksgiving in there.  Hubs did the turkey as usual.  It was awesome, as usual.  We ate too much, as usual.  A 15-lb turkey for two people means we have loads of leftovers.  Yum.

Yesterday, I figured I should step on the scale.  You know, to calculate the damages.  I lost a pound.  Go figure.  I haven't really been walking or exercising that much.  And I've been eating normally.  :shrug:  Raking burns more calories than I thought, I guess.

We got totally splooshed with rain toward the end of the week.  Kind of kills the leaf raking activities, doncha know.  The piles we already made are going to be wet and heavy when we finally make it back out there.

I'm seeing eagles on a regular basis again.  Yay for seasonal eagle visitation!

Other than that, I can't think of much else that went on last week.  What happened with you?