Current State of The Garden and Reading Report

This the garden at the moment — mostly volunteers and who knows what from when I wildly scattered seeds everywhere.

Today I wanted to write about my Goodreads accounts except I’ve fried up all my time trying to fix a couple of simple things which led to having to update and reset passwords and click and reclick in a circular FAQ where no questions were answered and now I’m tired and cranky and don’t feel very charitable toward Goodreads.

Different part of garden with volunteers and surprise-me-later seed dispersal.

Pen name has a Goodreads here.

I have a profile here.

I periodically check in and add books I’ve read and rate them and try to add books I want to read.

I noticed that I still had Ted Chaing’s Story of Your Life up there. I have no idea what happened to that book. I *might* have left it at my mom’s. But I also remember leaving it at the office because sometimes when I’m by myself I have time to read when I finish eating my lunch. That’s the last place I remember seeing it and it’s not there now.

I would be pleased to learn that it was stolen. I would love to be a part of someone discovering that book, even a book thief.

Meanwhile, I never finished it. The book reading situation is bad, just no time for reading. After three weeks I’m about a fourth of the way through Paladin of Souls – I have relented and read books on my phone now because then I always have them with me. So I might finish it by July.

I am about three weeks out from having to turn the manuscript over to beta readers and it’s still a frustrating mess. All my time and energy is on that right now.

My good news is I have a new spec fiction story coming out in Apex Magazine. I will post details when I have them.

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Everyone Is Stupid

Earlier this year I organized our bag collection. We have grocery bags and tote bags and reusable bags and bags full of bags. If my goal was to have the most bags, I would be so happy.

I always feel bad bitching about my health insurance because I know so many people struggle with health care but I feel like my healthcare’s stupidity contributes to the problem.

My plan has a wellness program and I’m not completely sure how it works. The website is confusing to navigate and the information mostly incomprehensible. Sometimes when I login they tell me to complete a survey to get money I can use for health care. So I tell them that I eat salad and exercise.

They sent me a card and told me it had money on it. I didn’t need any health care at that time so I didn’t use it. Then I had a prescription, but I forgot about the card so I didn’t use it.

I did another program where I had to login, and go through multiple levels of authentication every day, to tell them I exercised. You know what? I exercise all the time and I really resent spending 10 minutes a day logging into a website to “prove” it. They put more money on my card. I understand I can also do a diabetes thing and a few things that aren’t applicable like have a baby or quit smoking.

I did some physical therapy earlier this year and used the card for my co-pays. Great, I guess this thing works.

Then I had a general physical which I didn’t think I needed since I am perfectly healthy but they were super aggressive about scheduling so I did it. (Do a search for “Do I need an annual physical?” and let me know if you come up with anything that says, OMG-yes, because I don’t think you will.)

And they did a whole bunch of tests because of course they do. And I got a bill because some of them weren’t covered. I went to the clinic to pay my bill and I thought I had a few bucks left on my “wellness” card so I asked them to try that and it covered the whole thing.

Huh. Okay.

TODAY — I got a letter in the mail asking me to provide all kinds of documentation from my appointment to prove those were covered charges on the wellness card.

Picture me in a rage with flames shooting out of my ears, because honestly, the amount that they covered does not cover the dollar value of my time to comply with their petty request. The card covered charges at the doctor. What else is the “wellness” card for? Not like I bought pizza and hookers – which of course now I wish I did.

If I thought I could go to the clinic and pay for the services and charge back the “wellness card” I would but I am certain that is more trouble than it’s worth so now I’m going to stew on it all weekend and then waste my time dealing with them.

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No One Wants A Check For A Dollar

Here’s a better photo of the front yard tulips. They’re kinda pretty but see photo below.

I’m too lazy to check my archives right now but I bet I have complained at least once a year about how much I hate filling out my Oregon tax form. I have even stated that they could keep their refund if they would exempt me from filling out that form.

I hated it just as much this year as I always do.

Look how beat up these tulips appear, bruised and moldy. Plus their green parts look all mangled.

When all was said and done they owed me $3.

I don’t need $3 plus if they give you a refund you have to calculate it on your next year’s tax form and there’s a place to add it in and then a place to take it out and then a place to add it back in. If there is a complex and ridiculous hoop to make the taxpayer leap through, Oregon is one to do it.

There is the option of donating your refund, but you have to fill out another form. I was so outraged I was going to make them give me the stupid $3 except, come on. I filled out another form.

Apparently I made a rounding error on my tax form which Oregon kindly fixed for me and then sent me a check for $1.

I hardly ever make risotto because I always expect it to be more trouble that it is.

This recipe for risotto with peas and sausage was in the NYT a couple of weeks ago. I’m trying to get the freezer cleaned out so I can defrost it and I had some sausages I wanted to use so this jumped out at me.

It came out fantastic even when I half-assed it. I was in a hurry. I had a soccer match on TV starting up.

If you haven’t made risotto, give it a shot. Even badly done, it’s good.

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Stunning Development

You may find it hard to believe but I have completely lost track of what I’m doing here.

I thought I had photos of my flowers out front all cropped and ready to post. Instead, I found this one tulip photo.

I wasn’t overwhelmed with my tulips this year. They were okay-pretty. But there have been years where I drove up and thought: my flowers are so amazing. Then I would get out of the car and stand there and admire them.

This year I thought maybe they suffered from too much rain. Does that happen? I also buy the cheapest bulbs. Maybe that’s the problem?

All the flowers out front are long gone. There are still a few tulips in the back and the irises are just coming in. Last year we had crazy hot weather just as the irises came out and that was the end of that.

Should we be so lucky this year.

I think I’ve mentioned that house across the street I refer to as the bro house.

Our cool neighbors moved and a couple of years later we still haven’t figured out what’s going on there. I am not the world’s most outgoing neighbor but I at least wave. No person who lives (stays) there has ever even made eye contact with me.

It is not a large house — I think maybe 3 bedrooms and 1 bath. The basement was unfinished last time I was there. Small yard. I think I have identified two regular residents (bros). One guy has a dog. There are any number of cars coming and going from that house. Different cars parked overnight – most of them black SUVs. Mostly guys but occasionally women.

I don’t think it’s drugs. Nothing about it seems like drugs. I’m wondering if there’s a company where people travel a lot and this is the place to crash when they’re in town? They’ve had a few parties but generally nothing to complain about — just odd situation.

About 6 weeks ago they woke me up at 2:40am on a Friday night (Saturday morning). I assumed it must be a sweetheart quarrel – why else would people be talking outside in the middle of the night? But then the following week, they woke me up at the exact same time. I could hear car doors slam and people drive off. Bob said it must be a party breaking up but why would the party break up at the same time each week?

I came up with the idea that maybe someone has an early shift and they are headed to work. Except why they stand around outside talking before going off to work?

The following week it happened again, same time. But I haven’t heard them since.

It’s a mystery.

This isn’t particularly relevant to where I’m at in my process, but so I can feel like I’m making forward progress I’ll post my latest stat:

The manuscript that ate my brain:

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Heavy Bags of Money

A few years ago I decided to round up all the little dishes and boxes of coins we have around here and roll them and take them to the bank.

The bank said: you don’t have to roll coin.

They emptied out all my rolls, brought me the empty papers and then put my coins in a machine.

We have accumulated a lot of coins again so I threw them in a bag so I could take them to the bank. I told colleague what I was up to and he, too, brought in a giant bag of coins. More than that even.

We merrily took off for the bank with giant heavy bags of coins. When we arrived, the bank said: we were the last [of this] bank in the country to have coin machines but we got rid of them a couple of weeks ago. You can roll them and bring them back.

We brought our heavy bags of money to lunch and then carried them back to the office and rolled our coin. We ran out and I went back to the bank and announced we needed more rolling papers.

In the end colleague turned in $124 and we had $71.

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My Loyal Lamp

I posted this photo on Instagram.

This has been my desk lamp since my Dad bought it for me in approximately 1978. I’ve moved it to every place I’ve ever lived since I left home. I still used it up until the day that it died last month.

I have never loved it. The shade part heats up really hot so unless it’s winter, you bake your face while you use it. It will burn your skin if you accidentally touch it when it’s been on for more than fifteen seconds.

That is a long time to keep a lamp you don’t like. And it never occurred to me to find a replacement.

It’s like there are two kinds of people in this world: People who want what they like and people who will deal with whatever they have as long as it works okay.

I was at Target and found an equally unpleasing desk lamp for $7 and I almost threw it in the cart. Except if the new one lasts as long as the old one, I’ll have it until I die. I should pick something I like.

(But also that’s a joke because nothing is made to last long anymore.)

Now I’m thinking of trying to fix it. There’s got to be a youtube tutorial on lamp fixing I could use.

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Some Other Orleans Tidbits

As per my entire life lately, I’m trying to do a million things at once. I left the taxes until almost the last minute so I’m trying to plow through that today. Also, the sun is out so I need to do my 15 minute gardener routine. And Timbers this evening!

This is Summer. She was a rescue dog and still has a few issues with socializing but she’s a cutie. She likes chewing on things and chasing a ball outside.

This is Gracie. She is a lover and will crawl into your arms demanding attention. She also terrorizes other dogs and most other cats, even though she is smaller than all of them.

This is what the Klamath looked like last week. High, muddy and fast. You can’t see the high water mark in this photo but it’s up on the grass.

I take a million photos of this view and I couldn’t put my hands on a better summer photo than this for comparison.

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Projects with Dad

I failed to get a before photo so this is a screenshot of a similar dutch oven with original handle.

I spent the week hanging out with Mom and Dad.

I made no knead bread when I got there. At home I use sourdough but there I did the original NYT recipe.

I wanted to bake in Mom’s dutch oven but I was worried about putting the lid in the oven with that handle on it.

For my home dutch oven I bought a metal handle for the lid. I love they way they call it a “classic” stainless steel knob. Not just any old knob.

Mom and Dad live in the sticks and I was making the bread immediately so it’s not like we could run out and buy one or order one. I asked Dad if he had anything I could use.

He said, of course, and took me out to the shop.

Here’s a closer look in case you didn’t catch it in the larger photo.

Yes, that’s a box just for handles and knobs.

I got to pick which one I liked.

Then, we had to find the right sized screw.

The screw was too long so we had to cut it using a special cutting gadget that I failed to get a photo of.

I said: wow, you have a gadget for everything.

Dad said: I have gadgets that I haven’t figured out what they do yet.

And here we go. Ready for no knead bread.

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Podcasting Fail *Again*

Longtime readers might recall numerous trips where my attempts to listen to podcasts in the car have failed.

I tried a different podcasting app and yesterday I loaded up my podcasts and got them in the order I wanted to listen. When I got in the car, the gadget I use to play my phone through the car stereo was gone. Remember when my car was broken into last month?

They must have taken that gadget — who knows why — and since I never use it except on long car trips I didn’t notice until yesterday. I could just listen through the iPhone but I decided to listen to CDs instead.

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One Quick Round-Up

This is one of our neighbors who often has “great” free stuff.

I’ve always been a morning shower person and I’m trying to convert to an evening shower person. I catch the bus so early and I can’t bear to wake up any earlier than I already do. When we had freezing temperatures I didn’t want to stand out there waiting for the bus with wet hair. I’ve got a lot of hair and getting it thoroughly dry is a project. But I’m not used to taking showers at night so I’ll be settling down to watch my show and think: oh shit, I need to bathe.

I don’t notice the absence of bird noise until the birds return. That one nice day we had last weekend they were so loud outside my window. Not a complaint!

I am on my way to California for a week to visit the folks. They have wifi now so I’m not as cut-off as I used to be when I go down there but I like to minimize my online time when I’m there. Which now that I type that I realize is ridiculous since I’m rarely here anyway.

I’m trying a new podcasting app for this trip and trying to set it up right now while also packing and organizing to me gone for a week. I’m sure this will go well.

Bob has finals next week. I have good timing on this.

Have I done a romance novel progress update lately? My due date to my beta readers was in a week. I guess it was last weekend I was staring at the ceiling in the middle of the night with my heart racing, panicked because I’ve been struggling with this one and the closer I got to the deadline the more freaked out I was getting because it has not come together and my brain has been too worn out for the task. I asked myself: When did this stop being fun?

When I got up the next morning I emailed the editor and rescheduled for July. WHEW. So if you’re anxious to find out what happens next, you have to wait until August.

Best place to look for me while I’m gone is Instagram.

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