Tag Archives: eternal overachiever

Size Matters

During the dark months I like to have string of xmas lights in my room. Sometimes I can get away without using the overhead light and it’s cheery.

If you’ve used these lights, you know they are super crappy and don’t last long. The string I had up developed a short and would blink on and off so it was like living in a David Lynch movie.

The store doesn’t sell lights year round so I’ve been keeping an eye out. I didn’t think they would be here in October, but I was poking around the Halloween stuff in case there was something I could use.

The holiday lights are out now.

We went to Bob’s Red Mill this morning, and I picked up another giant bag of flour, even though I still had flour left from my last bag.

I had a lot of trouble moving the last bag around, and obviously, the most logical conclusion was that my aging body isn’t as strong as it used to be. I was also surprised that I hadn’t managed to use it up yet.

I brought home a new giant bag today (the one on the left) and I noticed the problem:

I still don’t have new romance novel news. Unfortunately, there are forces beyond my control causing delays. Trust me, if they were in my control I would be controlling them. I will update the minute I have something to update.

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Kansas City Sports

The rest of my vacation coverage is going to be spotty since other than the giant plates of meat I ate, it’s already a blur.

This photo reminds me that during our time in MO I saw more empty parking spaces than I’ve ever seen in my life. Everywhere you looked there was some massive parking lot, often with zero cars in it. Or just a few. Or a fence around it because dang it, just because there are parking places doesn’t mean you can put your car there.

If only there were a way to export parking places.

My note about the title is that I would say 4 out of every 5 people you see are wearing some sort of Kansas City team attire. Those Missouri folks love their sports teams.

Our hotel was downtown and new with amazing service. The room was terrific except it was like a meat locker. Even Bob was cold. I turned the fan down. I turned the thermostat up. I was afraid to turn it off because that seemed like something that could backfire.

I hated to do it but I asked about it at the desk. They were super nice and they said they adjusted something but we eventually broke down and turned it off. Also the A/C unit had a bright blue light on it. I am relaxed about light sources when I sleep and even I was astonished that no one had put tape over it or carved it out of the unit. Since I already complained about the A/C and the staff was so attentive, I didn’t want to ask about the blue light.

Also, my tea was never hot enough. I didn’t have a decent cup of tea the entire trip. I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or if it’s because it’s 1000 degrees there and they don’t like their hot drink truly hot.

Isn’t that great how I these are the details of the trip I remember?

Our first night we were ready to go check out the BBQ but couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the hotel. The desk clerk was kind enough to recommend a restaurant that was in walking distance but it was a chain and we have one in Portland and it’s one of those places that thinks it can disguise the fact that they have mediocre food by having a giant menu.

I wasn’t about to waste a vacation meal on that place so we broke down and tried a ride sharing app. The desk clerk understood our change of plans and was happy to help us figure out which bbq to try.

I forgot to mention earlier but we took the train from St. Louis to KC. It was a pleasant way to travel but it was a tad disappointing in terms of scenery. Most of the time the train is in its own little trench so we saw lots of green trees and only a few nice views. But mostly I read my book. I read 4 books on vacation.

Getting back to dinner, we’d been traveling all day so we were hangry by the time our ride dropped us off at Q39. It was 4:30 and the line was going out the door. We had to wait in line to put our names on the list. We never would have done it except we had no car so we put our names in and then went for a walk and found Thomas Hart Benson’s house (artist) which was closed but we could walk around it and the neighborhood was pretty.

The food ended up being amazing. Super amazing. We both ordered platters where you try different things and tried everything. It turns out I can eat a lot when I’m motivated.

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Beg-A-Thon Week #3 Progress Report

This week I did just over 11,000 words. I remain on target for my goals.

From here on out it makes no sense to measure by word count. I need to tidy up about 24K per week to get the draft to the beta readers by July 28th.

Now that I look at it like that, it seems impossible. Oh well. I’ll do my best.

So I wrote a complete (not pretty) draft since starting on May 20th. That’s pretty incredible. I’ve always considered myself to be a slow writer.

I had a fairly substantial outline to work from but I need to remember not to let myself get too gummed up at the beginning because I figure out a lot of stuff as I go along.

One of the things that makes this possible, like I said before, is letting everything else slide. This is agonizing for me but when you want one thing you have to sacrifice something else. Bob is out of school so he picks up more of the chores. I also (oh so painful) gave up about 90% of my reading time. I had time to power skim the New Yorker and that was it. I used my time on the bus to work out the next bits I wanted to write.

So if my outline says “woman discovers she’s really an alien.” Then while I’m on the bus I’ll write notes about how she figures out her craving for raw meat and the strange appendages she has growing out from behind her knees aren’t normal so she goes to the science library to do research but realizes she’s being followed by a purple Cadillac…

And so on like that so when I sit at the computer I’m ready to roll.

I try to preserve my back and neck and wrists by regular breaks.

I do any number of these things:

Shoulder Stretches with a belt.

Wrist and forearm work (This is a class preview. It might sound technical but watch the demo. These are great.)

Foundation training back exercises. I am generally the type to be put off by branded exercise systems but I’ve been doing the basic exercises regularly as part of my recovery from the back debacle of 2015 and I think it’s helped a lot.

Those are my secrets to writing a whole bunch in a short time. Although to be honest I’m not as confident in this manuscript as I was in the last one.

Thanks again to all my terrific sponsors. My report showed over $10K in donations already. Not for me but for the whole thing.

It’s not to late to donate.

This is what the tomatoes are doing. I’m going to put the cages up this afternoon. I did a half-assed job of throwing them out there and have ignored them ever since so probably not going to be a big tomato year. (Again.)

A couple more links.

I’m not a big pork eater but I’ve been anxious to try out a new recipe and this Cuban Roast Pork caught my eye. Right now the house smells amazing.

For a huge portion of my career I worked with the Metlakatla Indian Community in SE Alaska. This is a terrific article and photo essay about basketball in the Community.

That’s this week’s update.

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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.

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My Secrets To Success

I’m seem to be locked in this pattern of taking a look at my life and coming up with an idea that might make some small part of it easier. Then, in the process of trying to implement this life-changing idea, I instead create a bunch of new problems to solve.

Like, (made-up example) I’m going to get this software that will take care of something that will make my life easier. I end up spending half of whatever free time I had for the weekend installing it — which of course necessitates upgrading some other software and downloading a widget and adding a gadget that needs a special cable that we used to have but it’s not in the garage, basement, laundry room or pile of boxes in the back of the closet so I have to go buy another one somewhere only that store no longer exists so I have to go to a different store with a terrible parking lot that is super busy and the parking spots are all one tiny squosh too small for any normal sized cars, and when I finally get inside they aren’t sure if they have the cable and why couldn’t I just buy it online? Oh, you want to take care of this dumb project today and not drag it out forever, I see, you’re going to stand there until I look around, Oh, look, I found one — then after I install all these various things I still have to configure them and troubleshoot them and get the stuff down to the business of actually making my life easier.

Then, as it turns out, I flubbed up a setting in there somewhere, and I can’t figure it out in the last 15 minutes I’ve allotted to this aggravating project so instead, every time I open my computer I now have to click on a box, and close another program plus a widget, then type in a password, then a number and then, suddenly, everything is easier, but disappointingly so.

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Wrong Turn

No big news. Just a few tidbits.

Holiday shopping has started and is proceeding somewhat successfully. I can’t brag about being done yet.

I thought about holiday cards but realized I was just creating a chore that I would want to avoid so no need to stand by the mailbox. I have a Mailchimp account now for pen name (Curious?) so I considered spamming my friends with a holiday e-newsletter but that would still create a chore to avoid, so don’t worry about more email newsletters.

Haven’t we agreed as a planet that there is too much email? That email is a never-ending battle? That our goal is zero inbox? Aren’t there endless hints and tips for dealing with email?

My favorite was the guy who said he never answers email. He also never receives phone calls. If everyone follows those rules the system falls apart pretty quickly.

So why is it that 99 out of every 100 websites I visit want me to sign up for a newsletter? I signed up for a newsletter that would have been helpful for work but for the first three consecutive days after I signed up they sent me a fundraising newsletter. Good-bye helpful newsletter. My author newsletter is only for new releases or huge news so in a record-breaking busy year a subscriber might get 4 emails. Or, given the current state of affairs, never. Those of you who subscribed to the inaugural issue may have a collector’s item on your hands.

I went to the eye doctor for the first time in two years. This is the first eye doctor I’ve liked in about 20 years. I was expecting him to tell me my eyes were aging so rapidly they will probably fall out any day now. Nope. They didn’t get worse. Hooray.

Long time readers might be wondering if I have my Star Wars ticket yet. Yup. Living Room Skybox. Although to be honest, I’m already kinda burned out hearing about Star Wars. But I still want to see it.

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Crazy Late Garden Update

Pumpkins! You can practically see them pushing out of the dirt.

Yay, thanks for the update Photoshop. Just what I need, to set aside time to do a tutorial since apparently the three functions I use are now outdated and who knows what happened to them? I can’t wait until the kids today are old and start complaining about how everything changes so fast. (Kidding, I can wait.)

I am behind on everything. I have so many photos sitting here and notes for posts.

I’m not working on the same writing project that I was at the beginning of the year, but I am working on a different one. I spend so much time sitting at the computer that I now schedule breaks to keep my spine from fusing me into a hunchback.

Here’s the current project of forever which I have promised to first readers the first week in August so it’s actually the project of August:

I think I mentioned that my double whammy illness this spring destroyed my gardening mojo. I kept thinking next weekend I would get some work done and then I would go out and pull a few weeds and plan to do more the following weekend.

I finally found the tomato seeds I’d saved and planted them. And now it’s the end of June and all I have to show for myself are these tiny sproutlets. I have a volunteer in the garden that’s more impressive than this.

I went to the grocery store and picked out two plants labeled as fast growing and productive. Might as well get science behind me.

This morning I finally prepped the soil for tomatoes and pumpkins. So my pitiful little garden will be in. There are some greens sprouting, as well, although at this rate they will probably bolt before they do anything meaningful.

These are the pumpkins now and ready to go outside. I will sprout some cucumbers for my annual exercise in failing to grow cucumbers and set those out next.

I wasn’t even planning on digging potatoes today. But I was weeding and I pulled a weed and there was a potato, just the size to sit in my palm. I gently prodded the dirt and two more appeared. By the time I was done digging this one mound, I had all the potatoes you see in this basket.

For pure entertainment value, there is nothing better than potatoes in the garden. The things I planted were tiny and shriveled and didn’t look like they would amount to much. Potato salad coming in our future.

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Today’s Showdown: Hazelnut Spread and Breadstick Convenience Packs

Here I am having Nutella & Go in 2010.

When I saw the Kroger spread at the market, I thought this would be a great side-by-side test. We even talked about it when Maggie and Christopher were here but never got around to it.

I did the test independently and in the middle realized I should be taking photos but was too lazy to go look for a camera because almost certainly I would have had to charge something or update something and I wasn’t in the mood for a technology project. I should also mention that I did the test on consecutive days since a girl can only eat so much much hazelnut spread in one sitting. So technically it wasn’t side-by-side testing.

Here are my unscientific results.

The Kroger one says it was made in Italy. The Nutella one says it was made in Canada but the breadsticks were made in Italy.

Kroger says it is 247 calories with 100 coming from fat. Nutella says it is 270 calories with 120 coming from fat. The Nutella version has smaller sticks and slightly more hazelnut spread. The Kroger breadsticks were chubbier which I liked but the ratio of spread to stick was not as optimal. I had to eat a whole stick spread free.

Overall they both tasted fine. Kroger was cheaper but I can’t remember how much. If you like hazelnut spread and breadsticks you can’t go wrong with either choice although if the spread is your favorite part, I give the edge to Nutella&Go.

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How Many Groceries is a Car Load?

As I explained, I dug up what was left of the garden last week. Since then I’ve seen a squirrel (squirrels? They all look the same) wearing a panicked expression bouncing from one side of the dirt pile to the other and frantically digging. If squirrels have expressions. I’m sure they’ll survive.

The weekend before Thanksgiving I bought a giant car load of groceries hoping we could make it two weeks without going back to the store. We’re almost there but getting thin in a few spots. Bob is going to take his Mom to buy groceries today so he’s going to pick up a few extra things for us.

We still have about 15 containers each with a tiny serving of leftovers. I was considering scraping them all into one dish and grating some cheese on top, sprinkling some bread crumbs and throwing in the over for an hour. Bob would love it.

But instead I’m making Turkey Tetrazzini for him tonight. He loves it and it makes a ton so we’ll have it for a couple of days and for lunches.

I don’t think I explained that this year I only made a turkey and a pie. We got the rest of the meal from a store. While this was a big success in terms of me not being bummed out about cooking a giant meal all by myself, all the food I make is a million times better. So next year I am going to suck-up and do all the cooking again. Lesson learned.

And that completes 30 days of posts. I want to work on more advanced Photoshop next month so possibly more photo oriented stuff in December.

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The Potatoes Will Take Over in the End

Subway station in Montreal. I think it’s Station Prefontaine

I felt great when I woke up but I just exercised and had my hot chocolate and now I’m ready to go back to bed. Tempting.

Yesterday I worked a half day and when I got home I made the pie.

The other thing I normally do in the fall that I didn’t get around to because of my trip was the full meal deal garden burial. I had torn everything out and put the cages away but that’s it. All the debris was just piled in the middle of the garden plus I never emptied the compost bin into the soil.

Since the weather was not terrible I thought maybe I could get some yard work done. But that’s not the real motivation.

Remember back in the spring when I tweaked my shoulder trying to do the hedge myself? It took about 5 months to feel even close to normal so I am afraid to try hedge whacking by myself again. It’s taken this much time to find a referral and then finally set-up a time to get an estimate and that is happening this weekend.

So really I cleaned up the yard because I want hedgeman to think we’re at least trying out there. I cleaned out a bunch of dead stuff along the hedge and cleaned up the garden properly and mixed the compost in.

You’ll never guess but I am still finding potatoes. I wasn’t even trying. I was raking soil around and next thing I know there are potatoes rolling through the dirt. I probably harvested another 3 pounds which is terrific because I think we were down to only 7 pounds or so and I used a bunch for dinner last night. These aren’t great mashing potatoes so won’t be part of dinner today.

Enjoy your turkey or non-turkey alternative!

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