Friday, September 19, 2008

Because LJ won't let me

Herewith the LJ meme:
Take a picture of yourself right now. Don’t change your clothes. Don’t fix your hair. Just take a picture. Post that picture with no editing. (Except maybe to get the image size down to something reasonable. Don’t go posting an eight megapixel image.) Include these instructions.

But will it work on LJ? Nope, not for me. So I'll see if I can do it from here.

Monday, September 15, 2008

tiny little local fame

As my brother observes, the press just can't get enough of people willing to dress up in funny clothes and enliven a story otherwise lacking in visuals. So Mark and I have been prybarred into a story about how rising fuel costs have changed travel plans for those on the Island.

Fruit, yeah, still going on. Why do prunes have such a bad reputation? A dried plum still warm from the dehydrator is like candy. Is it because of stewed prunes? A dozen sandwich-bags of dried plums, and I think I can leave the remaining fruit for lunches and squirrels. A good crop this year, and far less loss to squirrels than last year.
Six sandwich-bags of dried pear slices so far, but I should be able to fill the dehydrator again in the next couple of days. The pears ripen more gradually than the Transparents or the plums, which tend to come all at once. I may be able to keep up, though October is going to be more difficult, with so many weekends booked away.

I discovered that it doesn't matter whether apples are ripe. Hm. I picked up the too-small windfalls from the Spartan tree, and ran them through the peeler-corer-slicer, and made an experimental pie (possibly my tenth pie ever - I've lost count) and it's been half-eaten by the two people in the house who like apple pies, in about a day. Even with the blackberry-rhubarb pie and the blackberry crumble as competition. Myself I'm not keen on apple pie.
I also prefer the spelling 'Mum' to 'Mom'. My feelings about America are ambivalent.

Tired of talking about fruit--maybe I'll post random memories of the UK trip next time?

Oh, here's the recipe I'm currently using for crumble topping:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal (regular or quick oats)
1/4 cup brown sugar
cut in 1/2 cup butter until crumbly
pat gently over 3/4 full casserole of random fruit
bake at 350-375 until brown and bubbling, about 30 min.
nice with ice cream or light cream over it.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Happy Methotrexate Day!

Even as I do a victory dance that the Transparent tree is well-nigh stripped of apples, with very little waste indeed, more fruit weighs the branches. Three dehydrator loads of plums done, and two gimme-bags full waiting to be processed. Plus lots more still on the tree. I'm trying to pick the higher fruit, saving the lower for fresh-picking for lunches, later. And to thin out the clusters of plums so they don't spread that white mould to each other.
Pies seven and eight (of pies made in my whole life) are in the freezer. Pie six, with a lattice crust (in hopes that the non-baking apples wouldn't turn totally mushy) is sitting out. The top layer of apples seem to have retained their shape, but probably it's all mush under that.
The pears are turning lovely and golden and falling off the tree, not always in that order. The recent burst of warm dry weather has saved the blackberries from turning all to mould, so more pies and crumbles are called for.
I sat down and went through the back issues of Cooks Illustrated for ideas, and decided that it was just disheartening, that I should go back to my mother's old cookbook. All their baking instructions assume that you have a food processor. Good old New England self-sufficient, baling-wire repaired food processor. I don't even like using an eggbeater (the hand-powered kind) because they're a pain to clean afterwards.

Arthritis stuff: Today I had my hands and feet x-rayed. It's more complicated than I'd thought, which I suppose could be said for many procedures that require taking off your shoes. Hands were shot not only palm down and palm up--why is this necessary, when the x-rays go through the hands?--but with both hands making an awkward OK sign.
Fortunately the feet only required a soles-down and a profile shot. I didn't have to roll over and wave the soles of my feet at the machine as well. This is in aid of checking for erosion in the joints. Look! I am a river delta! At least in the extremities.
Tonight will be my second methotrexate day. "Pick one day of the week and make that your methotrexate day" would fly better if they gave out cute little calendar stickers.
I'm surprised how much the no-alcohol thing bothers me, considering that my greatest debauchery is, oh, two or three glasses of wine with dinner, with a brandy after. I'm not even sure that I've ever been properly drunk, not just tipsy and giggly. The only sobriety tests I know are walking a straight line and reciting tongue twisters, and Mark maintains that I could recite tongue twisters correctly if I were flat on my back and unable to see straight. Sweet-talker that he is. He further observed that my trying out tongue twisters was a strong indicator that I was drunk.

Rejections: a fairly fast turnaround from RoF for "Climbing Boys". May be time to take it to the e-markets. The odd thing about the Blue Form of Death is that the first rejection I had from RoF was the BFoD, but with a handwritten note that the story (Spellcheck) was a cute idea. That was my first short story written with the idea of showing it to people I didn't personally know. I'm fairly sure that I'm a better writer now than I was then. Yet handwritten addenda are no more seen. Sigh.
I wasn't entirely sure that the fabled Yellow Form of Promise was ever sent, but there is testimony here that it exists, at least.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

ranting is supposed to be fun

So why don't I ever feel charged and catharted (catharsised? catheterised?) after giving in to the urge?
You don't want the background, trust me. A largely pointless discussion (polite) on an SCA-specific mailing list, with a side-issue that well and truly pushed my buttons. I bicycled home thinking it over and getting angrier at the implied dismissal of much of what I do and value, and ended up making a blackberry crumble really efficiently: cutting butter into flour when you're shaking with rage is surprisingly quick, though not particularly cathartic.

So today I posted on the side-issue. I managed to restrain the CAPSLOCKS OF RAGE and remove all the instances of effing-equivalents that appeared in the spoken drafts of said post. I kept to my point. I was sharp, but not outright rude, and I did not finish with SFTU N00B, even though I thought it really loudly.
And I did not feel better. Even though the worst-case scenario of response (banishment) would be both unlikely and, um, kinda welcome as an excuse not to do SCA-stuff for a reign or so but instead concentrate on writing. Mostly I feel kind of low and foreboding, and worried that I might have hurt someone's feelings. Not that I want to take anything back, just sick of the whole discussion, even more than I was before.

One of the side-effects of the methotrexate is supposed to be irritability, but I can hardly expect it to have kicked in after one dose Monday night, when the therapeutic effects are supposed to take weeks and months.
Damn but I want to be self-righteous. It must be so comfortable, compared to all these damned haverings.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

after sleeping

Finished, at about 11:20, surprisingly early, because that included reformatting to double-spaced and so on. It came out to 98 pages, close to the desired average of 100 pages, but that may change in the printing, since I set it to double-spaced, not to 25 lines per page exactly.
Totals, then:
14067 at lunch
15849 at supper (there's a 20 minute nap in the sunshine in between)
18588 at finish.
Very close to my last year's wordcount. I didn't hit the 1k per hour speed anywhere, as far as I could tell, though I may have come close at the end.

Plot. Well, a couple-three things that I'd meant as throwaway background touches or worldbuilding came back as important plot elements--the warehouse full of superfluous children (image of Romanian orphanages), the haunted green chamber (worse than the red chamber), and the mpd ghost-carrier kids who formed a levitating homo-gestalt and blew the roof off the haunted chamber.
On reflection, that seems rather stranger by day than it did in the story, where it looked like an entirely reasonable development. In fact, I was worrying that the storyline was becoming altogether too conventional for a literary contest.

This morning I have a visual acuity test, to which I am not (ha ha) looking forward. On the bright side (lord, I can't stop myself) swapping over to the methtrexate means no more hydroxychloroquin, and no more eye tests for macular problems, yay! Just monthly blood tests.

Monday, September 1, 2008

write while writing

Better wordcount on the Sunday, but only because of a late-night push.
7161 at lunch break (the total I'd wanted for the night before)
9525 at dinner break (Chinese takeout)
12012 at midnight.

In past years the pace has picked up on the last day, not only because of omg deadlien! but because I've had a clearer idea of the story-world and plot. The existence of an outline doesn't seem to affect this, though it isn't really a large enough data sample to be draw conclusions from. So we'll see if I can really knock off 8k today--it would be cool if I could.

Plot has not so much diverged from the outline as run parallel to it. Developments have come, but sometimes by different characters than those planned. The fellow who originally commissioned the ghost-snatching has turned out much nastier than first sketched, when he was just envious and malicious, and the girl protecting the ghost-carrier is a tougher customer.
The ghost who organises resistance among the mpd ghost-carriers (thank you, Nick Mamatas) isn't a union agitator this time, but an anarchist with a flair for rhetoric. With his very own nemesis, to be revealed.
And for the first time I don't have an ending, so I can't play my safe game of writing the ending while I'm about halfway through the story, and then writing up to it. I did have a lovely weepy self-sacrificial ending sketched in (okay, it was one line, but it was a pregnant-with-meaning sort of line) but that isn't going to work now.
Plus, I put a gun on the mantelpiece, in the form of an offhand comment (the Red Chamber is haunted, but nobody goes into the Green Chamber), and it has grown from a popgun to a howitzer in the last while, so it must be fired, or the whole wall will crumble under its weight.

At least I've both increased my wordcount from this time in previous years, and had as much of the sleepless experience as my decrepit old self can manage.