Old Brown Shoe

Mom’s basket weaving materials soaking.

I’ve been having bad luck with shoes.

I’m not much of a shoe person to begin with. My favorite pair of brown shoes was falling apart and before I could take them in I noticed my other most worn black shoes had a tear in the leather.

I took them both in and the shoe guy said the brown ones were not fixable. They are really old and have already been repaired once. He kept the black ones to fix. That left me with two pairs of closed-toe work shoes. One I don’t like very much.

I had an old pair of back-up shoes in the back of the closet that I brought out and wore to work and they fell apart during the middle of the day. They have also been discarded.

I picked up the ones at repair and ordered replacements for the brown ones — and just in time because I should probably break out the open toed shoes about now.

My trip was great. We had a lot of rain but mostly at night and we had good weather, too. Everything was green and lovely and there were flowers. I got to visit with all of my favorite people.

The podcasts worked perfectly. I listened to all of Serial Season 2 and then about 4 other random ones. I should have realized I wouldn’t get through them all and prioritized by what I wanted to hear most. I ended up listening to 2 I didn’t care for much and I still have a few on there and who knows when I’ll get around to listening to them.

I got an email from someone offering to proofread my website. She found 2 errors from 2008 — both not actually words — and said it would be hard to get anyone to take me seriously with spelling errors.

Good to know. I find typos in every post I re-read. I’m always posting in a hurry when I’m tired like right now. Please take me seriously.

Posted in doing it wrong | Leave a comment

Road Trip!

I must have written, more than once, about my struggles to use my phone and before that my ipod to listen to podcasts on long car rides by myself. I’ve had little success and usually end up having to pull over a lot or else switch to the CD player and listen to music.

Now that there is an Apple store near the office I can easily go ask the geniuses when I get stuck. (I really want the plural of genius to be genii.)

I don’t regularly listen to things so I don’t want to subscribe. I just wanted to look around and pick individual episodes from podcasts that sounded interesting like Should I Worry About This? that my friend, Eden, is on. Then I wanted them to play one after the other on a playlist.

Apparently this isn’t how the kids to it. They subscribe to things, listen to them when they’re on and then delete them and go on with their lives. I was handed off to 3 different geniuses how marveled at my request. I was thinking, I’m finally using a modern gadget and I’m not even doing it right. The third one said: huh, that’s interesting. Let’s see if we can figure out how to do that.

We did. I think. I’m ready with the entire Serial Season 2 queued up and a second station (because it isn’t a playlist in podcasting) with a variety of things. We’ll see how I do. I have a stack of CDs ready just in case.

I wished I would have remembered to show them how I listen to the iPhone in my car — via this olde timey cassette adapter.

Bob put some super fertilizer on the lawn. He just mowed it 4 days ago. Yikes.

I’m hitting the road to visit the Pamily. Bob will be here guarding things. Be good while I’m gone.

Posted in pamily | Leave a comment

It’s My 20 Year Blogiversary

Here I am at our first apartment, 1997-ish, Mac Powerbook 520 with my top of the line modem.

Twenty years ago today I first started my website. I was ahead of the curve, one of the first kids on my block to have a page and then later my own domain. I blogged steadily all through the mad gold rush days of blogging when people made money posting about their pets and sandwiches. (Not me, obvs.) Now that blogs are almost dead, I am still here with the same three loyal readers.

Thank you for sticking with me.

Twenty years ago it was called a personal page and it was courtesy of my ISP (Internet Service Provider. Anyone else remember the days before giant corporations were in charge of our internet connection?) and my web address looked like this: www.teleport.com/~prentz

In those days you had to learn how to do html and build the pages yourself. It wasn’t this app-crap where you take pictures of yourself and press a button so that it’s online and then you sit back and wait for other people to press buttons so you know they like you.

The earliest version the Wayback Machine has is August 1999.

I switched to Blogger February 2001 and it looks like I got my own domain in June 2001.

Here’s my post from my ten year blogiversary.

Me and my lime green iMac.

I think I had to switch to Turdpress in 2011 and I’m still not happy about it, but here we are.

I wanted to re-create one of my older posts that I have archived but unfortunately, I just don’t have time to recreate the whole thing with the background and layout from them. There are classic ancient archives still posted that you can find here. The oldest is from our first trip to Germany for our one year anniversary in 1997, posted in 1999.

Here’s an old story 1997 from that I just put into a WordPress post. I felt it was fitting after my week with the squirrels.

Yellow Jacket Fever.

My schedule is going to be insane until the end of the month. Posting more sporadic than usual.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged | 1 Comment

Squirrels: The Final Chapter. Hopefully.

You can’t imagine the thrill, the exciting rush of victory when you conquer an animal with a brain the size of a pea.

We reset the trap – this time I put a tiny dollop of peanut butter on the trigger so it’d have to really park there to eat it. The exterminator recommended peanut butter. Last night I rebuilt the tunnel and left the front door open. If this squirrel was ripping out insulation to get outside it must be smart enough to run out the front door. (ha ha)

Didn’t hear a peep. Couldn’t see it. This one was climbing up inside somehow. Closed up for the night.

When I got up this morning he was frolicking around the trap.

I opened the front door and fireplace and watch it hop around. I hate to say it but they are really cute. It perched exactly on the edge of the fireplace door and looked longingly out the front door but didn’t try to make a break for it.

I went into the other room and then I could hear it eating. I ran back in and it was eating the peanut butter and TRAP DID NOT SPRING.

What dark magic are these squirrels up to?

I tried to spring it but he hopped out. Bob decided to fiddle to make sure the spring was operating and when he reached in, the trap sprung, startling all of us.

Here I will note that squirrels make a wide variety of noises. They make sad squeaky noises, high pitched chirping noises and low-growly noises.

Squirrely growled.

Bob fixed the trap, re-peanutbuttered it and put it back in. We closed everything up.

It took about a half hour. We both heard the trap spring (Bob was downstairs) and squirrely’s outraged growly-squeaks.

Bob and I ran around high-fiving each other and cheering and doing variations of the victory dance before taking it outside. Of course it was too stupid to leave the trap by itself (it kept eating the peanut butter) so we had to dump it out. While it was squeaking another bigger squirrel came wandering over to see what was going on.

Total squirrels removed so far: 4
Recommended tools: trap with peanut butter – be patient, if desperate shop vac.

We have reset the trap and put it back in the fireplace, just in case.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged , | Comments Off on Squirrels: The Final Chapter. Hopefully.

The Squirrel Clown Car Continues

I’m sure you’ve been dying to hear how the squirrel story ended.

Me too!

To recap: three little squirrels arrived on Wednesday night.

None of the the things we did previously worked. Everything we did scared them into a little trembling fur ball back in the corner of the fireplace. They would carefully explore the edges of the fireplace but they would not come out.

I tried luring them out with carrot snacks. They weren’t going for it. I threw the carrot snacks in the fireplace when I closed it up Wednesday night. They were going to have to spend the night in there.

Later I told a friend about the carrots and he said: You have pet squirrels now.

On Thursday we all became more comfortable with each other. One of them came out of the fireplace and proceeded to escape the tunnel and explore the living room. Bob scared him and he ran back into the fireplace. Later I watched him go all the way to the front door and peek out. I grabbed the broom and in a split second he was back in the fireplace.

These little guys are dumb.

We went out and got a trap and set it in the fireplace – this was our last resort.

When we woke up this morning they had nibbled at the snacks, sprung the trap and were napping quietly under the grate.

That’s it! We have a life to live. We called an exterminator.

$250 to set the trap plus $100 per animal removed.

Okay, we’ll keep trying on our own.

It seemed like the only way to get them was to put on heavy duty gloves and yank them out — except there are three of them, so we weren’t sure how that was going to work and we weren’t in the mood to get bitten by a squirrel.

Meanwhile, I had called Chris to come over and cover the chimney. I asked him what he thought we should do. He went through all the things that we had already tried. We discussed and discarded some other ideas and settled on the shop vac.

Man, those things make a THWOP! sound when they go through the pipe.

Great news. We got all three. My fireplace was clean. We put them outside. Problem solved.

I cleaned up the giant mess from the tunnel. Vacuumed. Scrubbed everything around the fireplace. Put away all the implements we’d found to try to sweep them out, poke them out, scare them out, scoop them out, squirt them out, loud sound them out. My house was back to normal and I could relax.

Or could I?

Because a half hour later I came into the house to the sound of squeaking and a squirrel in the fireplace.

D’oh! I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious there’s a nest in there and now squirrely is trapped because we screened off the chimney.

We called a different exterminator who said we were doing everything right. Put the trap back in the fireplace. The squirrel has nowhere to go. We can get him.

So I reset the trap. Went outside to do yardwork.

Returned and checked the fireplace.

The peanuts were eaten. The trap wasn’t sprung. The squirrel has torn out huge pieces of the insulation from around the insert.

Like a horror movie, my next note will probably be written while I’m hiding under the bed, cowering from my squirrel overlord.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Squirrel Clown Car Continues

The Good News is: I Finally Got A Decent Photo

Remember last Wednesday when traffic was terrible and I was all grumpy when I got home and then I was trying to relax and turned out there was another squirrel in the fireplace?

Oh no, the exact same thing didn’t happen. Yes traffic was terrible and I was all grumpy when I got home.

But this time there were THREE(!) squirrels in the fireplace.

At first I thought it was just 2. Then I opened the fireplace door and hollered, “THERE ARE THREE OF YOU?” and they all hid under the grate.

Nobody won.

Also these guys are squeaky. I’m kinda worried one might be hurt and that’s why they haven’t just ran off. These are also younger. I guess the first one must have put a sign up saying, “Super cool place to visit,” and then fell down the chimney and realized his mistake but didn’t want to go back and change the sign.

I did the whole tunnel and leave them alone routine. Heard nothing. Finally went out and checked and they are (as I write this) all cuddled together in one corner. No idea what the outcome is yet.

I contacted someone about covering the chimney asap. I didn’t realize this was an emergency project although I should have after round 2. I guess I’ll put on more protective clothing and find some leather gloves and see if I can get them out more actively.

I need another glass of wine first.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged , | Comments Off on The Good News is: I Finally Got A Decent Photo

The Whole Potato

I decided to enjoy the sunshine and read outside. I put on a sunscreen that says “for your face” right on the tube and it is burning my eyes right now. Who invents facial sunscreen that burns if it gets in your eyes? You’re in the sun. You’re going to sweat.

I took this photo of our apple tree because of the pretty designs that I’m sure mean something is eating it. I noticed a branch that looks kinda iffy. I think I’m going to have someone come over and whack it so it doesn’t fall down and ruin something.

My daffodils looked better than they ever have, especially in the back. This is actually the front. They are all gone in the front but still some pretty ones out back. I put a note on the calendar to buy more bulbs this fall.

My great idea to leave notes in draft so I would post more has failed. It just turned into another mess I had trouble keeping track of. If you haven’t noticed this post will collect all the photos and notes I had lingering and consolidate them without any theme or point.

I remember when I was a teenager my entire goal for life was to be popular. I wish I could have all the time and energy back that I wasted on such a ridiculous goal. How did I even plan to measure that? At what point would I be popular enough to fulfill my dream? Which people would want me to be their friend? Who would invite me to what?

I always wished I would be invited to things. Please, please invite me to things.

Now I don’t like to be invited to things. I can barely hold things together just going to work and keeping the house from falling down. I like to stay home. And I do. I feel bad sometimes because I like visiting with people. But textbook introvert here. Need my quiet.

Here’s the garden. I finally mixed all the compost in and it was an extra challenge because I am terrified of hurting my back. I shoveled foul goo into a plastic bucket and carried over to the garden dumped it in. Back and forth. Back and forth. Weeded and raked.

I haven’t bought new seeds in a couple of years but I took a giant handful of olds ones and gave them a toss. Raked and raked. We’ll see what happens.

I’m guessing the usual — everything grows and we get overwhelmed and then compost it.

Cycle of life.

Speaking of cycle of life — that patch of green there? Potatoes.

I had rosemary in a different area and it died. I went without rosemary for several years.

This is kind-of a joke because whenever I need rosemary I’m always too lazy to go out into the yard and I get the little jar of Penzey’s rosemary from the drawer.

I finally decided to plant a new one one fall. I took home a little plant about the size of my index and middle fingers. I looked around and saw a corner with no plants and I threw it in there.

Then in the fall I realized D’OH! That was a tulip patch.

Oh well, it’s a sprawling rosemary plant now with tulips struggling beneath.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged | Comments Off on The Whole Potato

I’m With Stupid

You’ll never guess who stopped by again.

I know this is a terrible photo because it captured nothing but it’s supposed to be a picture of the world’s most stupid squirrel crunched up under the fireplace grate.

Bob had a concert ticket and I was looking forward to an evening to myself. I was going to work on a new story idea.

Unfortunately, traffic was a living nightmare and I didn’t get home until late. I decided to do a short exercise class to relax and help with my ongoing back issues.

I was barely 20 minutes in when I heard an amazing racket. It was a squirrel in the fireplace.

Again.

There must be something going on up on the roof that makes the chimney seem attractive. We’ve been here for 18 years this month and we’ve never had a squirrel in the fireplace before and now we’ve had 2 in 10 days. Clearly we need to deal with this.

Meanwhile.

I did the same protocol as before except this time Squirrely would not budge. I tried new things like spraying water in there, shaking the grate, and making loud noises. Squirrely was hunkered down under the grate and wasn’t going to move. I finally left the room. (Meaning — front door open, fireplace open, tunnel built.) I answered email and made my dinner. Did some hand washing in the laundry room.

When I finally checked back I did not see his beady eyes. I shut the fireplace and the front door but left the tunnel in case I’m wrong. I would have preferred to witness his hairy ass hopping out the door but I think we’re in the clear for now and we’ll have to get some sort of squirrel guard for the chimney. And I will have to cash in my quiet evening at home later.

Posted in doing it wrong | Tagged , | Comments Off on I’m With Stupid

The New Bread

Last week the NYT had an article about sourdough which is a subject I consider myself to be advanced in.

Like everything in the world these days, there is no point in writing the article if you aren’t going to proclaim that sourdough “it changes your life.”

Bob and I have been eating a loaf of homemade sourdough bread regularly for several years now and while we like the bread a great deal, I don’t know that we’ve concluded that our lives have been changed. But we really like the bread.

I’ve posted my recipe. Part 1 and Part 2.

This is the NYT recipe for no-knead bread that accompanied the article. I followed it to the letter to compare to my recipe.

It came out great. I used the Dutch oven so the loaf was flatter than my usual. I slightly flubbed the directions to get the dough into the oven. When mine went in, it immediately cracked which I thought was going to be a problem but it came out so pretty.

The loaves in the article look quite a bit darker but mine was just right. Tasted great and more sourdoughy. My normal recipe only uses only 1/4 cup. Also with this recipe you mix the sourdough with the water before you add it to the dry ingredients. D’oh! The sesame seeds add a nice flavor.

Next week I’ll probably adapt it to be more like my regular recipe.

Posted in doing it wrong | Comments Off on The New Bread

ZACHRÁNIT BINGO

I’ve known about this for a long time but I was sitting on it until I had the book in my hands. Then I was going to sit on it until I could surprise my Mom with her copy, but she’s already seen it on Facebook.

Last year I was invited to be in an anthology of science fiction by women authors to be published in the Czech Republic.

This is my first time being translated and look at the other people in the TOC:

Kelly Barnhill. Charlie Jane Anders (who has a book out now called All The Birds in the Sky that sounds fantastic and is on my list). Pat Murphy. And Ursula LeGuin (!).

The finished book is beautiful. It’s hard to tell from the picture but it’s just a little bit bigger than my hand. I so pleased with how it turned out.

There is more information here (in Czech).

Oh, and the story is The Battle of Little Big Science. It’s in the collection Red Tape: Stories from Indian Country which can be yours for .99¢.

Posted in doing it wrong, favorite | Tagged | 1 Comment