Monthly Archives: May 2015

It’s Memorial Day Weekend…How will You Be Spending It?

When you have an online friend who is a veteran, who is disabled, and who is getting shafted – on two weeks notice, over the Memorial Day holiday (see his notes about having 10 days to respond to something that took 4 days in the mail, and arrived on a 3-day weekend, and think if you could respond that quickly).

He doesn’t talk much about being disabled – if you dig you will see the photos – of the metal alignment of his spine.

He’s like me – make the best of what you have left, spend your money carefully and wisely, and be cheerful – but this is outrageous, and I’m dismayed to find it is a large bunch of people.

We have this thing in this country called ‘due process.’ If it can take months to be evicted, how can they cut off benefits in 10 days?


Relative silence doesn’t mean no progress


(Fuzzy image of a blue skirt)

I find that, being involved with graphics (learning enough Pixelmator to attempt a cover for Book 1 of Pride’s Children), I am finding myself with nothing to blog about, and I wondered why.

I think it is because I have nothing much to report yet, and the style of my posts has often been ‘reporting back from the trenches.’

When I learn something new that I think might interest or amuse someone else, then I write about it – and share the experience.

I hope there is at least something mildly useful to my readers in what I write about.

And that isn’t true of the graphics because:

Much of what I’m learning is how to achieve specific effects – and my experience of those effects are very much limited to using them for this one particular cover.

The cover isn’t finished – I have nothing to show so that a reader could see what I’m talking about, and graphics should be visual. That, and it takes a lot longer to describe something than to show it.

My level of experience in using graphics software is low and recent – I have nothing to ‘teach’ that a reader can’t figure out more easily than from reading my posts.

Statistically, most indies who design their own covers won’t be using Pixelmator on a Mac.

I read many Photoshop tutorials, but I’d be even lower on the experience ladder in that community, as I don’t have access to the program, have no intention of buying access, and definitely have nothing to add to the knowledge base.

Reading (and writing) are more common activities than doing detailed graphics – so I would expect a lot less interest in a graphics post UNLESS I had something amazing to show, quite unlikely for a beginner.

So I find myself in the position of learning widely and possibly deeply (much more than you would need to enhance photographs), and of keeping thousands of words of detailed notes so I can reproduce effects on a clean copy of everything once I have the ideas worked out, and of having nothing to say.

My notes have pieces such as:

“The shadows are too dark, and I lost the contrast with the arm – so the arm disappeared. Going back to basics I realized the top of the skirt is clumsier than the one I cut from Skirt 5 – but I’ve already put so much work into the skirt I’m hesitant to redo it. The palm of the hand needs some shadow – the reddish glow makes no sense.”


“Fix the right foot. Take picture of daughter’s foot at correct angle, and with light coming from the right direction for the figure and the sunset. Blur tool and paintbrush – toes fixed.”


“NEW important trick: to make a white-to-fade (transparent) gradient,—-pixelmator-172549845 teaches me how.”

Unavoidable interruptions – we all get them

In addition to all this pixel stuff, real life has taken a turn toward more stuff, and includes things like:

“Find a medical specialist that accepts our insurance, has an appointment within a reasonable time, and handles problem X, and has the right certifications.”


“Document EVERYTHING in the process of getting a major corporation to do their job, and send it to them, even though they are being pain about it.”


“Figure out how to use the automatic thermostat for the AC in the chinchilla’s room, install said AC, remember how the controls work, and this time WRITE IT ALL DOWN – it will be the same next year, as it was the last three – why don’t I have notes?”

Plus my assistants quit – and I’m non-functional in the areas I was depending on them, plus all their jobs now have to be reassigned to me, or I have to find someone else. Weeds don’t pull themselves (not that I’ve pulled many lately).

Not much to report

So that’s all this is: a post about why I have nothing much to say, all done in my inimitable long-winded style, filled with incomprehensible detail.

I miss having something to blog ABOUT, and chatting with people online when they comment, but I didn’t want you all to think I’d been IDLE.

Very soon this stuff will jell, and I will be moving back to the short path to publication I’m on, with something to show for all this immersion in an area definitely alien but fascinating.

Teach yourself as much as possible, then find mentors

I am immensely grateful to those who have taken the trouble to explain things with posts full of images and with YouTube videos – I wouldn’t be making ANY progress without them: this stuff is so different from the way I normally think and work and the Pixelmator has thousands of useful features – and VERY limited documentation about those features.

Full manuals seem to be a thing of the past, and I never find the coverage deep enough (the lone exception here has been Scrivener, which has a full manual that has almost everything you could ask in it) in programs, and the online ‘documentation’ which supposedly can be updated more easily I find appalling.

Maybe it’s the explosion of knowledge. So many features are being added that the documentation can’t keep up with the changes. Maybe it’s the expectation of new generations, something we already experience a lot of, that the features on a program shouldn’t NEED documentation, but should be intuitive and easy to learn (ha!).

Maybe I’m just too old for this. And I can’t deny the brain fog is a factor in slowing the process.

In any case, that’s what I’ve been up to: learning. Teaching myself (with help from J.M. Ney-Grimm, who has shortened the learning path more times than I care to count). Doing something that is not me, and liking it.

But not writing much about it.

All I can say is, “I’m working on it!” That will have to do.

What y’all been up to?

Long Row

Invaluable advice from the older generation – what a treasure Nannie was, and thanks to Stuart M. Perkins for sharing his memory.

As I work on what seems like endless details for my hoped-to-be-final cover, the amount to do has grown each time I think there is nothing more I can do. But looking back is definitely better than looking forward, when this close to the end.

May 12th International ME Awareness Day


This will be short: I am working on graphics (slippery things). I ENJOY graphics. I’m behind.

Names matter: CFS, ME, CFIDS, and the now horrible SEID

But it saddens me. Today is the day chosen (by whom?) as ‘my disease day.’

And most people won’t even know what that stands for.  What the hell does ‘myalgic encephalo…’ even mean?

And ‘ME’ as an acronym sucks. It makes it sound as if I’m even more self-centered than I already am (by necessity – and I hate it).

I have what I prefer to call by one of its original names, CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Even though that seems to trivialize it, because we all know everyone is always tired, at least it points out one of the main symptoms, a crushing fatigue that never goes away, and reduces the life of the person who has it to a constant calculus of ‘how do I make the little energy I have go far enough for me to have a bit of a life?’

The Calculus of Energy

If I go for a 15 min. bike ride, will I still be able to make progress on my cover for Pride’s Children? I don’t know – can’t take the chance today.

But if I get too severely deconditioned, I may not be able to make much progress anyway.

Always calculating, always short.

Twenty-five years of this crap. And half of doctors STILL don’t even believe it exists. If they could walk but ONE day in my shoes…

I guess today is my day for self-pity. I’ll see if I can arrange a bit of time and energy for that.

Living in the spaces between

Meanwhile, I have graphics to do. Slippery things.

And nasty things to think about medical research, the CDC, the NIH, and all those useless doctors.

Don’t pity me. It could be even worse.

Believe it or not, I am a cheerful person, and even though I have to work hard at that, it is definitely worth the effort.

None of us get choices, except how to live with what comes our way.

Say a prayer. Or cross your fingers. One of these days…

What the writer does when bored


Cover design is fun. And hard exacting work. With pixels. And typography. And photographs.

It doesn’t look like anything until it’s done. You will see it then. Right now, it’s a pile of mostly things that haven’t worked. Yet.

If you want to see how it’s done by a pro, read JM Ney-Grimm’s posts: go to the site, and type ‘cover’ into the search box. Read everything.

For your entertainment, and because my eyes are closing and I can’t write a real post but I miss doing it, a blast from the rather recent past:

My notes dated March 18, 2015 at 2:58 PM.

I’m sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting for someone. Not for me – it is the someone’s doctor’s visit.

Me, I’m bored.

I just went through the process of finishing the most significant step of a project I was forced to undertake (civic duty and all that), and have gotten it to the point where I email the whole thing (in painful detail) to those who need the information to fix THEIR problem.

I was worried that I might be wrong – but going THROUGH the process and writing it all out showed me that not only was I RIGHT, but that the problem was way bigger than I had thought, and they had all the additional stuff WRONG, too.

So, vindicated for having undertaken the project, finally (it has been HANGING OVER my head for TWO YEARS), I feel pretty good – and I can get back to my writing.

Tools make it easier

Only all I have is the computer (no big external monitor), and the chiclet keyboard that comes with the MacBook (which I only use when FORCED to), and I can only see one page at a time or so, and that is not how I usually WORK, so I’m antsy.

I’ve done everything on the WIP that I can – and that’s saying a lot, because I’m writing/revising/editing the next-to-last scene, which is heavy. I need time, concentration, a nap first, and two hours in which I can let my brain assemble the pieces into a whole.

And I CAN’T do it here.

So I reread everything, and then put it away until I can get back to my desk.

I can’t sleep, work, go anywhere – and I will be interrupted in less than 15 minutes, so what do I do? I write this – and you guys get a post about what a writer does when totally bored?

The answer is: write.

If not on the computer, in a notebook.

I have been known to borrow paper and pens from a hospital nurses’ station and from the chaplain in a different hospital, to ask for writing materials in a hotel or a store if I didn’t bring anything.

Get the thoughts OUT of the HEAD, capture them on the PAGE, and the brain is happy and entertained.

The doctor comes out – I close the laptop. The doctor disappears again – I open it back up.

Really, this is a total core dump. And there’s nothing in the core!


Normal people play games on their smart phones. I don’t have one, and I’m not normal!

What do YOU do when totally bored? Are you a reader or a writer?

Flipped-Turned, Upside Down

Marie is a writer – with the same thing I have (ME/CFS), and the same attitude: it is bad, but we can manage our tiny lives inside our little boxes. That it could be far worse doesn’t make it better, but it does give us perspective.

Many people I know only from online support groups ARE considerably worse. I am grateful I can still do thing many of them can’t. If there is a cure, they need it first. I will wait my turn.