Month: April 2017

Luck of the Draw

Luck of the Draw

My body truly cannot figure out when to sleep and when to be awake. Supposed to be asleep right now. The clock says it’s just shy of 9:30. My work schedule says it’s about midnight or thereabouts. I have 4.5 hours before I need to get up for work – if tomorrow wasn’t the second day of my “weekend,” anyway.

Urg.

Husband Unit G and I were talking today about some of our options. Our vehicle, at 11 years and 160K miles, is thumbing its nose at us. Still running, thankfully, albeit with idiosyncrasies like crazy. Today the AC worked, then didn’t work, then worked, then… well, you get the idea. It has no high beams, and hasn’t for the five years I’ve been driving it. It has issues, I tell ya, issues. We two old farts, being aware of its issues, have already begun scouting around for its replacement. The replacement is being made possible by a cascade of serendipitous stuff, starting with a move to a place without a mortgage; a new job; a soon-to-be raise at aforementioned new job; and the happy discovery of a goodly chunk-o-money we didn’t previously know existed. We’re not millionaires, but turns out we were thousand-aires for the past several years, and didn’t have a clue.

It’s enough money to do a handful of much-needed stuff.

One is putting down a hefty down payment on a vehicle. I’d love to pay cash. Buuuut… I’d love more to have a car that won’t hit 100K miles after a week and a half of my commute. We’ll get enough we could actually buy a decent vehicle for cash, but it would leave us nothing in reserve, which is another thing I want to achieve.

Also, G agreed with me (after a bit of arm twisting on my part) that our living room furniture is due for replacement. I’m grateful for what we have. It’s gotten us through. But it doesn’t work for the long run. Hubby agreed to get a new sofa – that part was easy. What we have now is one arm of a sectional. No, really. Not the worst thing in the world, but not ideal, either. I’m still working on him to trade out the two oversized arm chairs for one modest recliner. Eliminating one chair would make a whole lot of difference in our available floor space. This room isn’t that tiny, but there’s so much crap shoved into the room that it feels claustrophobic. Gotta love being married to a pack rat!

We also need to get our deck rebuilt. It’s currently a death trap, and for all his posturing, I can’t see G building it. His health won’t permit it. Our neighbor wants to buy our old car when we get a new one. G proposed trading the car for a new deck. (Neighbor is a contractor.) I was all OVER that idea.

On another money front, I agreed to help an acquaintance format her next book for print and eBook. I committed to the project a while back, and was happy to do so. It’s a paying proposition. She also asked me to format her cover for her. She provided the artwork, a painting done by one of her friends.

Ummm…

I had to gently explain to her all the reasons that her dear friend’s “masterpiece” wasn’t a good option for a book cover. I tried to be as tactful as possible while telling her it looked like it was painted by a very young artist. Extremely young. I suggested if she wanted to include the image inside the book, she could state that it was a friend’s visualization. I also pointed out that where this book was historically based, the history was way off when it came to the image at hand. Her book was set in America in the early 1600’s. Her characters were costumed a good 250 years later, what you could see of them. It would be like dressing Martha Washington in hot pants and a cowboy hat, and a good half-century further forward in time.

Luckily she trusts my judgment and saw my point. (The author – not Martha Washington the hussy!) Which means now I need to find some suitable images for the story, which in turn is looking increasingly unlikely. Ergo, I will probably hand-draw her cover, something I don’t want to do for about a thousand reasons. Can I draw? Yes. Do I want to, or even have time to do it justice? HELL no. But I’ve searched my ass off and ain’t nothing like what I need on the photo membership sites. So, as it stands now, looks like I’m the illustrator for her book cover. I’m going to do my best and cross my fingers.

Cartwheelies in My Mind

Cartwheelies in My Mind

I achieved the impossible today. Drumroll, please:

I finally recovered all my old WordPress posts, going all the way back to 2007. It took switching hosting companies again (something I had to do regardless) and a few other details, but any way you call it, I’m glad to finally have all my crap back. It’s still crap, but it’s my crap, dammit.

Speaking of my crap, I handed off my latest novel to my first-line editor. I plan to use at least a few of ’em, whoever I can con into… er, that is, wheedle… oh who am I kidding? I was right the first time, ha! This book is sort of a romance, but I don’t do romance. I’m shitty at romance even in reality, so I’m atrocious at writing it. I fully expect my editor to kick it back to me with a swift kick to the keister, telling me I need to rewrite probably 85 to 90% of it. But thank God, when she does, she’ll also point out what’s wrong, which will hopefully jump start my brain on the project.

In the meantime, I’m writing more familiar territory, a non-fiction work based on a fistful of interviews with stone readers. No, not stoned readers, which is a whole ‘nother kind of smoking gun. I’m talking people who do crystal readings for other people. It’s an interesting concept, and the book in progress has generated a fair amount of buzz, which is a novelty for me. There’s no established status quo for the process, as with tarot or even tea leaves. I’ve talked to a handful of readers (there aren’t many willing to share), each relating different take on the phenomenon. I’m touching on them all in the book, but focusing primarily on one particular style. I chose the one I did because like tarot readings, it’s something the average person can learn.

I can’t teach the average person to pick up a rock, hold it to their forehead, and tell someone’s fortune. I won’t judge the person who mentioned doing that, but I’d call that method the most “out-there” of the bunch. It’s right up there with the gypsy who stares into a crystal ball to read the future. And yes, there really are people who say they can do so. The technical term for it is scrying.

I bet you never knew there was a technical term for using a crystal ball before, didja, huh? I sure didn’t. I do now.

Had to give a nod to new mommy April the Giraffe. Given they’re now an endangered species, like pretty much every other animal man can use for target practice, I say, “Good job!” I normally don’t go in for all the hoopla, and didn’t sit glued to the screen over the critter’s birth, but I applaud it nonetheless.

Work has been its own challenge. Some aspects have been awesome, some disappointing. You know. Like it was a job or something. Go figure. Worked today. You want irony? We got holiday pay for Good Friday, but NOT for Easter Sunday. It’s another layer of weirdness in working for a company where the headquarters are in the UK. Wonder if we’ll get a holiday for Boxing Day?

For the record, my previous employer didn’t pay holiday pay for Easter or Good Friday. We just worked the hours and did our best to hang in there. Since things at the current job were so dead today, I got kicked out early (with pay) by a couple of hours. I was glad for it, because it wasn’t one of my better days in terms of health. I was hurting and exhausted. Very little sleep happened last night. And it’s late enough tonight I’ve got to sign off and call it a night.

Ciao. For now.

 

Cheap Cheep and the Flying Dutchman

Cheap Cheep and the Flying Dutchman

I get irked as hell when WordPress defies my ability to publish a page. I had a post all typed out, including photos, and yet it denied me the PUBLISH button, which was grayed out. It happens every time I paste in text, regardless of how innocuous. It’s infuriating as shit.

Aaaanyway….

If you’re reading me and you’re not reading my pal Dangerspouse, you’re missing out in a huge way. He’s funny, outrageously irreverent, about as politically incorrect as it gets short of supporting Trump and the Nazi Party, and did I mention funny?

In addition to his day gig as a big stah of radio, Danger is a real, honest-to-goodness chef. Like, he graduated from chef school or something. (Read his blog for the specifics, because I’m too lazy to look up all his culinary credentials. Just be aware that he’s seriously, horrendously politically incorrect, and his wife eggs him on in no uncertain terms.) So today, his post covered radio stuff and cooking. Go figure, huh?

The point being, he mentioned the creation of kakiage, which was created with a solitary chicken breast, a few veggies, and some batter. I can truly say I’ve never made or even heard of kakiage before, but making a meal with a single chicken breast and some veggies? Oh honey, I’ve stretched that chicken breast so far its rubber band broke, then I tied it together and stretched it some more. I’ve come home to a fridge so empty it echoed. I get it. And as Danger pointed out, when faced with a nigh-empty fridge, it doesn’t mean you can’t be inventive.

With that same chicken and veggies, I probably would’ve opted for curry over rice. (Hey, he didn’t say his pantry was bare, and mine virtually always contains rice and several other staples.) Or maybe a pot pie. I’ve been known to turn a piece of chicken and some veggies into some kind of soup, depending on what’s in the pantry – noodles, rice, or bread to make croutons. I’ve made chicken quesadillas, or paninis. And use of chicken breast, cheese, and tortilla doesn’t have to produce a typical Mexican quesadilla. You could combine the ingredients and sauces for an Italian twist, dipping in marinara, or an American one with ranch dressing. The pantry and imagination are your only limitations.

When I cook, I do “stage” cooking. Stage one: simple meat/poultry/fish – i.e., ham with mashed potatoes and a veggie. Bland but filling. With the leftover ham, throughout the week, I can make split pea soup, scalloped potatoes, grilled ham & cheese sandwiches, and/or a quiche. I break up the ham-fest by alternating with chicken, fish, or beef, but that ham gets worked to death. Chicken goes through a similar trajectory, albeit used sooner since it has a shorter fridge life. Quesadillas, soups, whatever. Fish is generally a one-off because there are rarely if ever leftovers, but I wouldn’t be averse to doing similar if the potential arose.

It’s not so much fancy-schmancy training. It’s being a mom on a budget and kids who are picky eaters. You learn to make everything stretch, with a minimum of repeat meals. Danger’s right – you don’t need to settle for boring.

Ride

The above photo arrived in my work email this week, whereupon the spousal unit identified himself as the “Flying Dutchman”. (I assume everyone reading here is aware my spouse is from The Netherlands, ergo the “Dutchman” part of that.) This golf cart is technically owned by a neighbor, but said neighbor has two and not enough space to store them. Plus he can’t drive both at once, and all attempts to sell the second one have come up empty. Hubby’s health is deteriorating – haven’t gone into all the gory details here, but it’s true – so now he has some wheels to help him tool through the area. This set of wheels is therefore on loan to my better half indefinitely.

My work is on the verge of exploding, so it’s doubtful I’ll be updating this blog any time soon. My time online is limited as it is, but when our “season” kicks in – and it’s starting now – it’ll be a miracle if I have any online time at all. The flip side of that is that my income should go up. International Space Station up. Between overtime and bonus bumps, I hope to bring home a pretty penny over the next few months. One of my colleagues, who’s been working there for a while, said she brought home over $3000 a week last year. That’s a WEEK, not a MONTH.  I doubt I’ll hit those echelons, because she worked some sixteen hour days, but I’m hoping to break into the range of $1000-2000 a week during the rush. Given our current living expenses, that should let us sock back some serious cash.

We know we need to do three things in the short term, most likely in this order. We plan to buy a bigger storage shed, a bigger place, and a new vehicle.

You see, my husband is a pack rat. He’s not quite to the level of the hoarders you see on TV, but only because I’m holding him back. Everything I own – and I do mean everything – fits into a 2’x4′ closet, four small drawers, and a small suitcase.

Hubby has his closet, several drawers, the second bedroom closet, the second bedroom, our shed, a neighbor’s shed, space under the deck, a 7.5′ bookcase, our lone surviving nightstand, his “office space” (translation: literally half the living room) and so on. You get the idea. A bigger storage shed would give me a little reprieve, but I want to get a place big enough I can cordon off a spot to call my own. Yes, I know it’ll be temporary, but I’ll take it.

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