The slow posts of summer 2017


This is a stub, a placeholder, a tente-en-pié (keep you on your feet), an appetizer – lagniappe?

Any one of those words that means a quick update and not a thought-out post with a point.

Why? Because when other bloggers stop blogging, I worry a bit.

Don’t want you to worry. There have been no recent crises – Yay!

On the To Do list:

Writing NETHERWORLD. Yup. Main A1 priority that keeps getting a day here, a day there (the least efficient way for me to write). And publishing Too Late.

Finding a permanent place to live – for which I have, up to now, processed more than 110 CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities), most of them in California, to see if we can 1) afford them, and 2) find a community we’ll fit into.

Paperwork for my Dad’s estate, too long on the to do list, but the IRS has made each simple step complicated. I will persevere.

Getting healthier. Here I would like to report slightly better walking capacity (after days and days and days of lower back strengthening exercises), and continued cardiac rehab (though I haven’t been able to increase it much since I started, I’m now into my fifth month, which is some kind of record).

Dejunking the house prior to getting it on the market. This means the Christmas tree came down this week. You may applaud.

I think that’s the major ones.

CCRCs in California

The why? It’s drier (humidity and I don’t get along), and the places we’re looking at have better weather. I have been warned – not all places in California have ideal weather. The spouse put me onto the idea of getting an idea of each city from Wikipedia (who knew each has a page?). If there is a Climate section, the little graphic illustrates temperatures, rainfall, and sometimes humidity for a year – which is exactly what I need to compare, say, Sta. Barbara and Bakersfield (nice, not so nice).

I now have had hour-long conversations with about 21 salespeople (the shorter list), along with getting electronic and snail mailed information, and followups. I learned a lot.

The basic information on the websites seems to be 1) we have apartments and/or cottages, and 2) we are the best CCRC in California. So there’s some hype.

Considering that one of the major decision factors is cost, you’d think they’d be a bit more up-front, but if there is information at all, it is usually, ‘from (quotes entrance fee for tiniest unit and monthly fee for one person in it.’

Not very useful or realistic, and I hate to hang up the minute someone tells me the actual numbers (which implies I couldn’t go). The reality is that we have some choice in the matter, but a place is going to have to be perfect for us to go for the higher costs (and most of the for-profit places in the San Francisco area are simply not an option).

I’m to the point of running numbers past a calculator and guesstimating some scenarios on how long we’ll live (always a fun exercise) and how long we’ll need what kind of expensive assistance to do so.

Dejunking is slow going

Not because I can’t get rid of stuff, but because doing so requires me to give my assistant (who’s been a little erratic due to real problems) permission: ever single item in this house not in my husband’s office is my problem.

And some of it has to be kept around so the house doesn’t look razed when we show it.

My brain will tackle that problem far better when it doesn’t need to do phone calls and financial calculations with its little bit of energy, and we have a very short list of places we would willingly move to tomorrow.

And when the heat and humidity abate a bit, and we can stand to dejunk the garage some more.

It’s amazing how much stuff goes when an assistant takes it to its next owner for you (or makes it disappear). Until you get down to family photos and the CD collection you always meant to put on a hard drive.

Exercise, walking, etc.

Here I have to be extremely careful. We CFS folk can overdo things in an instant – and have to pay for it with days of getting nothing done, and huge amounts of extra rest.

I’m so far over capacity already with all the extra stuff on top of what I had before that all I have to do is go to a meeting with the financial advisor (a short meeting, he said – ’twasn’t) to lose two days.

I’m looking forward to living in a CCRC where the plan will be: write in the morning; get more fit/relax/float in the pool/do a short stint in the gym/walk to dinner, in the evening.

I swear.

Meanwhile I have to keep the spine from insisting on more surgery (so far, so good, and I don’t trust any of the surgeons I’ve seen). This requires daily exercise and stretching. Lots. The stronger the spine gets, what do you know: the easier the walking has become.

But we’re talking micrometers. I know – husband can’t even tell. And it’s made me do things I shouldn’t have done (leaving the walker in the car for something that turns out to be a longer walk than I planned is the #1 problem).

And the perennial: removing a few pounds from the joints would probably help; meanwhile, don’t add any.

Removing all cardiac meds made a huge difference to all of the above – zombies aren’t good at becoming healthier. Doctor doesn’t even want to see me for six months; BP and HR are behaving themselves nicely with meditation and rest and the rehab (I guess – had to tell).

The career as novelist

Taking a bit of a beating right now, but moving.

The biggest other time-eater is learning and running Amazon ads. I find I don’t do well when the sales are way down (depressing) because I’m not hand-selling, and going viral isn’t happening on its own.

Which means advertising. The last email I got (review pending) had ‘Loved it!’ four times in a row, so I do have a tiny tribe, but I have no reach – and everyone else on the planet (with energy) is writing bunches more books and ads.

I’m trying various targeting ideas. If any of them work…

But the very best time I spend, exhausted or not, is when I’m in Bianca’s skin (today) or Andrew’s skin (last week) or being Kary for a while (right before that). And that’s still good, if a little claustrophobic: I have to get awfully close before I can write them.

Drop a line

How’s YOUR summer going?







18 thoughts on “The slow posts of summer 2017

  1. joey

    ‘Summer’ is already over for me. School’s in session 😦
    That’s great the walking is going better — apart from the occasional overconfidence or unexpected length of walk, anyway. I’m so glad your BP and HR are steady.
    Dejunking is one of those things that can take a really long time, so I’m glad you’re making progress.
    It seems wrong to me that these places aren’t advertised with prices, as other apartments are, or even the signs out front of condos that read “From the $500’s” give a suggestion. I can imagine your frustration. Everyone has a budget, who wouldn’t inquire about costs?!?


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      School around here doesn’t start until after Labor Day!

      I know Florida starts early.

      I think some of these places may be reluctant to turn away people who could stretch a bit and then afford them, but it’s not as if they were hurting for residents: they all have occupancy rates well over 90%.

      I’m even writing! Finished a tough scene that has been blocking my progress, yesterday. Well into the fourth chapter, and the rest may go more quickly now that I’m past this one. We’ll see.

      If I were selling well, we could afford anything I wanted – it’s just a bit more that makes the spouse nervous, and I haven’t pushed him into a house before this (though I wanted to, both times we’ve bought a house). Maybe I should, this time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. joey

        Maybe you should. Maybe this one is specifically getting what you pay for, a long investment I would think.

        I hate how early school starts here. The state fair started Thursday and I just know my poor daughters will have to get a fever overnight which will force them to stay home the following day, and feeling better, they’ll need to go to the fair 😉

        Sounds like momentum is really on the upturn! Count your spoons carefully and keep at it!


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Yup. I’m over several hurdles: 24.111 (the numbering shows how, before I started writing, I took several very careful looks at structure, and what went where, and this one was needed).

          The CCRCs are down to a pile of 21 – and several of those are easy to discard, as I don’t want to live in urban Pasadena. It’s more expensive, and I wouldn’t use many of the reasons people want to live in downtown Pasadena, such as the arts, and shopping, and maybe the theater. Not that I don’t like those things, but most are definitely nonessentials.

          Meanwhile, I’m constantly amazed by how badly my ads are doing on Amazon. A copywriter of huge persuasive powers I’m not. Or the opposite conclusion: the readers I think would like my book don’t buy on Amazon from ads – they go, buy a particular book (which has been recommended to them through NPR or The New Yorker or something else I can’t get or afford), and get out of there. Ads – and discoverability – are hard. I want Donna Tartt’s readers, dammit, and she only writes a book every ten years (and so do I, so far), so it’s not as if she were supplying them with endless reading material – they need me!

          This has been another episode of ‘Big Ego’d Writer’ for your happy consumption!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          The arrogance is huge – don’t be fooled by any protestations to the contrary. But, darn it, I think I can write – except that the kind of books I write have traditionally come from the ‘big publishers’ and I’ve known for a long time (or been pretty sure) that they would NOT take me on. I couldn’t take the stress of near misses year after year because now it’s even worse, and they want EXACTLY the same as was successful last year, only different. And they have far fewer slots for new writers. I’m ODD – and an outlier – and I would make them so nervous they’d cripple any efforts they made, and then say, “I told you so.”

          It’s not the writing – it’s the subject matter (I think).

          Anyway, as an indie, I can continue pushing until I find that audience. And I will. And it will take longer.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m sorry your daughters are sick every year at this time. Adjusting to the germs, etc., from other people is hard. 🙂

          About pushing the spouse: I will – except I will NOT make him so worried about money that he’s not enjoying all the good things I want to buy him with it.

          It is a problem 1) being prudent with money your whole life, and 2) needing to be a bit more relaxed with it: the rainy day is here.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. marianallen

    Glad to hear you’re doing well. I’m one of the worriers, so thanks for checking in. 🙂 Have you had any luck placing Gizzy? Oh, and a hearty round of applause for taking the Christmas tree down. I never want to, if I get it up, and my tree is about 18″ high. That’s inches, now, not feet. 🙂


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      My guess is that her Gizziness will be coming with us (which makes the ‘temporary 1BR just to get into a place’ option less appealing). I didn’t realize how picky I am – until I answered your question. I really just want her to get out occasionally for good runs, and to be taken care of; all she’s interested in is treats. She didn’t come out last night, so I felt bad, and let her out this morning – when she was willing, took several small treats, and went back to sleep. If someone reasonable comes along, I won’t insist on conditions.

      The Christmas tree (about 2 feet tall) boxes (2) are ready for my youngest daughter (who will most probably visit before we leave): all the sentimental ornaments in good condition, plus a few to share with her sibs when they want them. All the cheapies are gone to wherever my assistant took them (I don’t ask). Feels good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. polsygol

    Glad to see your recovery chugging along!

    You might want to look at the Sacramento area–it’s inland, so it’s not expensive like the Coast, but it gets the breeze off the delta, so it’s not as hot as, say, Fresno (where I grew up). Even Modesto is significantly cooler in the summer than points south.


      1. polsygol

        I’m about to lay out the YA novel–it’s been a very busy summer, but with luck I should be able to get it laid out and off to a copy editor soon rather than later….



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