Category Archives: Gen. Musings

My thoughts on anything and everything not specifically categorized. Whimsical and opinionated. Read at your own risk.

EXTREME PLOTTER’s dilemma: following through to the end

EXTREME PLOTTERS KNOW THE END

Somewhere in the process of writing the book, whether at the very beginning (I did), or somewhere along the path because things seem confused and nonsensical otherwise, a plotter looks for the story structure, and makes some important decisions.

They are not cast in pig iron.

They can, in principle, be changed – many a novel has ended up somewhere else.

But the extreme plotter makes few decisions lightly, because it will affect everything else in the story if structural changes are made.

The point of plotting is to free the imagination to create

And it does.

A solid structure makes it easier for some of us to launch the flights of fancy that say ‘this is how this happens,‘ because it will fit the rest of the story, and connect the pieces that go through it to what came before and will go after.

But it doesn’t account for dragging your feet

If you find out you don’t want to write something.

For whatever reason, the plan is going to cause you angst.

You, the writer.

You are going to read this later and weep.

You are going to allow something to happen that you will forever look to and say you wish it hadn’t happened. In fact, you are going to create it that way.

When you planned what was going to happen to these people

you didn’t know them as well as you do now, when the setup that has been coming for 267,000 words leads to an action at least one of the characters will regret – and you made them do it.

It is still perfectly logical, from that setup, that they will do it.

But you don’t wanna.

The logic is unassailable.

You cannot get to the END any other way.

Believe me, I tried.

But now the actual deed must be done, the betrayal executed, the trap laid sprung, the consequences invoked.

It is daunting to someone who is happier when the world and people work their problems out in some reasonable way: all three main characters will be forced through the wringer, and each one will have to do something they don’t want to do.

I lost my nerve there for a while

For some reason, it helps to spell it out and then share the process and the details that cause me agita.

I have known this day was coming from Day #1.

As few details may change in the actual telling.

But it’s happening, and it’s my fault, and I am not lifting a finger to save these characters from their destiny.

I’ll accept responsibility, but they’re going to that end, kicking and screaming.

Thanks for listening.


I think it’s all part of life, real and writer’s.

Please weigh in.


Sparing your characters pain that’s necessary

IT’S UP TO THE WRITER TO FORCE GROWTH

Characters you create become like children: you worry about them, you care what happens to them, you’re concerned when they come home late from some unsavory place.

But the hardest thing you do for them is to force them to grow – because without change in at least some of the characters, nothing much is happening, and there is no story worth telling.

Characters grow like all people:

By confronting and dealing with problems.

By coming across situations that force them to think.

By finding themselves in situations where they have to make a decision.

What they don’t tell you is that the writer is responsible for planning and guiding and forcing change.

For building the obstacles that are so hard to overcome.

And for making them almost impossible to survive.

When you start a story

You have a general idea of who your characters are and will become – you create them to tell a particular story.

You ask, ‘What if…?’

And you make up people, based on what you know about humanity in general, and maybe some models in particular.

But even though you realize in general that you will be putting them through Hell, it’s not personal yet.

While writing a story

You flesh out the people who are acting in it, and, to be able to write them, you become them, you let them use your body and your mind to tell their part of the story.

You channel the character.

And then you observe very carefully what they actually do, and put it in the best words you can come up with.

And you come to that old saw, ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you,’ and you do it anyway, you hurt them – and you feel like a cad for doing it, but it has to be done.

Knowing you’re only hurting yourself, and that maybe, for this once, more than in life, it actually does matter. It is necessary to get to where you’re taking them.

And at the end

If you’ve done your job properly.

If every step is motivated.

If every step is not optional.

Your readers will forgive you.

And maybe agree with you: it had to be done.


Every morning I reconnect my self

A rising red sun seen from a balcony; the red is due to the 2020 California fires
Red sun at morning; sailor take warning.

The reality is that reality is weird

I reconstruct who I am and what I’m connected to every day when I get up.

I’m discombobulated until I see what the world looks like, what the internet has to show.

When no one else is up, that’s when I sing. Because if I don’t do it periodically, now that we don’t go to church, and do not have our folksinging group, my vocal chords get weird, rough, scatchy – and it scares the heck out of me, because my singing voice, and the ability to sing loudly and well is still an important part of that ‘self.’

I am a singer.

This morning it was Bridge over troubled water a capella, with Simon and Garfunkle in my head.

And Root like a rose with Emmylou Harris on Youtube. And Abide with me, which we listened to in an Irish TV show with a burial. Lovely, but I had to work with it to get the lifts in the right place in the melody because I have lyrics and video – but no sheet music.

And The sisters of mercy with Leonard Cohen – beautiful gravelly voice on his own song.

And now I’m ready to face that part of the day.

The sun was so weird.

I went to check on the plants by our only east window, to see if they had enough water with the instrument I have. They did.

But in the window was the image above, EAST – not north or west – the rising sun was even more blood red, from the fires, than the image I captured after I fetched the iPhone.

Apocalyptic.

Somewhere in Pride’s Children PURGATORY it says something about the tourists too stupid to know that magnificent sunsets out over the Pacific are caused by air pollution.

But this was sunRISE, and in the opposite direction.

It just had to be food for thought.

I was up too early, couldn’t get back to sleep. I’ll crash later for a while.

Swimming has been canceled

Because they don’t want us exposed to the bad quality air, it is recommended that we not spend time outside right now, and of course the indoor pool was not made available.

Something about the county may be responsible for both: I’m not going to blame management – they’re trying.

We’ve been told to just let next week’s schedule’s signups be this week’s, so people don’t have to stand in line today to get a couple of slots next week.

I’m not going to complain about little restrictions when there are people losing their lives and their homes (including two of our staff members who live in Vacaville and lost their homes).

But I’ve really got to stop asking, “Now what?” Because it keeps coming up with ‘whats.’ The universe. Karma. Bad luck.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s best SF program

A MPB program to teach kids about libraries and the Dewey Decimal System – by using a SF story set in the future when actual books had disappeared. Prescient? Or just logical.

From The New Yorker:

If for some strange reason you’ve never heard of “Tomes and Talismans,” just know this: it’s quite possibly the finest post-apocalyptic educational series about library science ever produced by Mississippi Public Television.

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/library-science-fiction-tomes-and-talismans

This is from 1986.

The kids and I watched it when we homeschooled. We were talking with the offspring just last night, and it came up, and we all agreed it was pretty interesting (especially for its time) even if dated.

You can find the first episode on Youtube – but they never finished their promise to put it up for sale or viewing, so I left a message to that effect on the MPB Facebook page, and got the response, “Good idea!” when I suggested it was a good one for the kids during the pandemic – and their parents. We’ll see if anything happens.

Meanwhile, having an eldest educated at Caltech in Computer Science, I have been given a link to a place where I can see it.

The pigeons have tried to move in

For some unfathomable reason, some of the Davis pigeons have decided that our bare concrete fourth-floor balcony with a few folding chairs is a suitable place to spend time.

It wouldn’t be a problem except 1) they coo constantly, and 2) they poo constantly.

So I am using a plastic syringe and a container of water (because I can’t find my water pistol) to discourage them.

I sit by the window all day, attempting to write fiction. It cannot be done with a cooer in the background.

And now I am reconnected to the world and the internet, about to visit the Washington Post and The New York Times briefly to see how the pandemic is going, and try to get to work for the day. I’m getting very good at ignoring the stories, hitting just the terrible headlines and graphs.

So drop a line about how you reconnect with your self and your world every morning.

Or is it just me?


I have no idea where WordPress put Categories, so we don’t have any today.

I also don’t know where the list of previous Tags is stored, so I could choose them.


Lockdown is increased following covid-19 spikes

Part of Alicia's face with pool in background

THE FIRST WAVE ISN’T OVER

The requirement for reopening our facility in any small sense was that our state, California, needed to meet the parameters for reopening.

Our Yolo County authorities issue rules which must be followed by businesses, depending on the state guidelines.

A few weeks ago, on June 9th, a gradual, cautious reopening of our dining facilities was initiated, allowing those who chose to participate the ability to go to the dining room for dinner. Many changes were instituted to get people in and out of the dining room safely (most of which would have been too hard for me), but not allowing the kind of socialization we used to have of dining with others not of our ‘household.’

The reopening has been rescinded due to spiking coronavirus cases

I can’t blame this facility for taking every possible precaution – after all, one of the things that happens is that our total survival as a community depends on getting new people in to what is a ‘forever home’ as our older or frailer members leave us.

And reputation is everything in the business world – we can’t afford to have too many empty apartments or the price for the residents will have to go up.

And it is obvious that people will think long and hard before moving INTO a facility that has already had covid-19 cases.

The restrictions are necessary

because the outside world refuses to take the pandemic seriously – but we know how high our death rates would be if it got into our community and spread.

That’s not even a hypothetical: a third of covid-19 deaths, or more, have occurred in people in nursing homes.

And a CCRC (Continuing Care Retirement Community) by definition has a nursing home component (as well as an Assisted Living one) to go along with the Independent Living apartments (where most of the residents live, and where everyone who is part of the community must come into originally).

Lowest common denominator for the community is that EVERYONE is in lockdown.

Because we live in the same building. And are served by the same staff for many things.

I live in fear that our staff OR our residents may bring the virus in

Residents here often (>60%) come from Davis. They have local family and friends.

We can leave the community at any time – at our own discretion. We can see anyone we want – outside.

There is a requirement (probably from the county) that those who sleep one night or more away from URC then self-quarantine for two weeks when they come back.

But it doesn’t cover those who go out for the day for whatever reason, and come back the same day.

We depend on each other being sensible – including our staff, ALL of whom live elsewhere.

So I practice ALL the precautions

So that even if other people don’t do what they’re supposed to do all the time, every time, I have done everything I can NOT to pick up the virus from them if they have it.

The biggest one is that people don’t cover their NOSE with their mask.

They might as well not bother wearing the mask!

It slips down. It’s uncomfortable. They ‘forget’ – and it horrifies me.

I remind them.

They put it back on, and I see it slip off again a moment later!

Staff, Residents, Contractors here installing carpeting – they still don’t get it!

A facemask worn with the nose hanging out is NOT a facemask! Basically, it’s NOTHING – because someone having trouble breathing through the mouth behind the mask will automatically breathe through the NOSE – expelling ALL the air from their lungs through their NOSE out into the community.

Sigh.

I blame education which doesn’t teach every child that their NOSE and MOUTH are connected inside their HEAD.

Among other things I blame.

So I’m horrified, I tell them (they sometimes pull the mask up over their nose and I often SEE it fall down immediately), and I wear mine, stay away, wash my hands…

And try very hard not to leave the apartment.

A small positive note

The county has allowed limited pool access, and limited aqua therapy with a ‘medical’ person present.

So I got into the therapy pool twice for half and hour this week – and am still in a lot of pain from things I stretched, very gently, but which had had no warm water for over three months.

I may not be able to go twice a week (Tuesday and Thursday are too close together).

They may close it back down for whatever reason.

I got no writing done on those days, nor the days after (another reason I may have to do just one).

But the good feeling was amazing: in the water I am not disabled.

In the water I can move, stretch, even go up to tiptoe (in the deepest part of the pool) – things I cannot do very well or at all on land.

I am grateful.


So what has gone well in spite of the virus in your life?


 

Lockdown with food delivery CCRC style

OTHERS ARE KEEPING US SAFE

When we moved here, it was for life.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is the last place you will live. Once you buy in, you are promising, like some medieval monks, to stay in one place, one community – for literally the rest of your life.

This is the first serious test of the concept that we’ve dealt with: we have put our health and welfare into the hands of management – and they are doing everything in their power to keep us safe.

Even our tiny folksinging group – fewer than 10 people – was canceled.

And fed

We are now on total lockdown in our apartments. There will be no community events, no gatherings of people, no groups coming from outside, no family or friend visits (except for the terminal).

And the food – one of the good things about a place like this with several venues for dinner or lunch and a fair number of choices about what you may choose for those meals – is about to get very different.

We have been given a tiny number of choices (so you can tell them you’re vegetarian or don’t eat fish or dairy), and they will decide what to bring you – and deposit on the ledge outside your door!

Choice seems a minor casualty

I’m sure they will be trying to keep it as interesting as possible, and we will make do, and we have things in our freezer and pantry to supplement or replace.

We will have ways of continuing to get staples from local grocery stores.

But the ability to choose from different entrees, sides, and desserts – a big part of gracious living at a CCRC that justifies the entry and monthly fees – will be gone. For MONTHS.

We’ve never bought the 5* restaurant boast (though occasional meals are superb, the ordinary is not), but we’re about to find out what happens when they decide what we eat. And how much.

Meal TIME and TEMPERATURE will compensate a bit

We don’t have to eat dinner between 4:45 and 7pm if we choose to set the delivery aside and eat at a more normal 8-9 PM; and we DO have a microwave oven and a regular over to heat buffet food that is usually not all that hot by the time we get it to the dining room table and eat it (for me, because I bring my plates to the table on my walker’s seat, and prefer to make only one trip, cold dinner entrees are the norm).

It’s going to be institutional. It’s going to be weird.

And it’s going to be a struggle for me, the picky eater who doesn’t eat many carbohydrates.

We’ll survive – and this is the only way staff time can be used to both deal with food and  the safety precautions, too.

We will continue to be fed, like the passengers on the cruise ships, and it will be someone else’s problem as long as they are handling it.

We are lucky – it could be far worse

As it is going to be far worse for so many people out there.

We don’t have an easy way to make a change in our living arrangements – the house in New Jersey is long gone, and this is our home.

And we’re all grownups here, and will adjust, and keep the proverbial stiff upper lip.

Please note: I’m documenting and commenting, not complaining.


Meanwhile, some lovely person is reading Pride’s Children PURGATORY from Kindle Unlimited, and I’m delighted to watch their progress through the author tools we have.

If it’s you, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!


 

While marking time do something different

Blue recliner - Golden maxicomfort power lift and recline chair

SOMETIMES ALL YOU CAN DO IS WASTE TIME

It drives me batty, but since I need to have 5 bars on my brain to write with it, there are many times when we are in a holding pattern.

This year, at our community’s Bizarre Bazaar, we acquired furniture, and this is the armchair I selected from what was available (otherwise we would have had to go shopping) when the rocker/recliner we bought back in 1986 when we acquired our first child had decided not to stay put in the reclining position, and I got tired of watching TV with my arms over my head to keep my center of gravity far enough back to stay lying down.

We paid the princely sum of $85, and had it delivered to the apartment, and plunked in front of the TV.

We knew from examining it in the days before the bazaar that it had an electric control in the pocket, but nothing else.

Hidden treasures at the bazaar

We didn’t know we were acquiring a Golden Maxicomfort Power Lift & Recline Chair, retail value new at almost two grand.

It had been very gently used, almost not used at all. No signs of wear.

I picked it because, in the cramped display out in the front courtyard, it was comfortable. And that was all we could tell.

The spousal unit, after figuring out we had something different, went online and snagged the manual (the electrical engineering certification for the owner is only a suggestion).

It comes with TWO – count ’em – power blocks and two controls. The silly thing has BATTERY BACKUP – in case you have a power failure while seated, the battery has just enough charge to lift you ONCE.

It will do any position from horizontal with your feet higher than your heart to gently standing you up to get you out of the chair.

Never in my wildest dreams would I go out and spend that much money on a chair for myself.

Kids?

This is the kind of chair the children buy for dear old dad.

It has a Zero Gravity-like position – everything gently supported.

It has what they call a Trendelenburg position, with your feet higher than your head and heart, and which stretches your lumbar region.

If I’m uncomfortable, I push a button and shift position a bit.

More?

One of these days I need to get me a decent DESK chair, as I spend most of my days sitting at the computer, trying to write something.

But meanwhile, you can imagine me stretched out for a couple of hours in the evenings watching The Handmaid’s Tale or Mom or Humans.

Still fiddling with the dosage of the low-dose naltrexone, and waiting for the brain fog to clear.

And managed to get several doctor appointments successfully navigated (but leaving the house for them is one of the reasons I have no energy for writing fiction), plus show Maggie off at the U. California Davis hospital in Sacramento (NOT Davis), to admiring glances from medical personnel. They have VERY long corridors in that hospital, and it would have been an even more exhausting morning had I had to navigate them with a walker.

So that’s it.

I’m at the writing position, internet blocked, several hours EVERY day, and some times we make a bit of progress, but the bars haven’t been there much.

It’s temporary, I’m sure, or I’d be panicked. I have this feeling that when the meds settle in there will be a big burst of productivity. So I’m hanging in there for now.

Even the tone of this post feels as if there were a damper on the brain.


Oh, and some totally unknown person bought a paper copy of Pride’s Children PURGATORY, which always surprises me.

Hope they will leave a review some day so I find out who it is.

I do love the interior formatting of the paper version – because the ebook is limited to fonts the reader can manipulate easily. Check it out in the Look Inside feature at Amazon.

And pray. I’m soldiering on with this LDN experiment, but it’s not guaranteed to clear the brain fog. I will probably have to get super strict with the low-carb diet. And stop slipping up.


 

Stories promise more than they deliver

Reflect reality

I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE TELLING PRETTY STORIES

There is no direct correlation between the most detailed, elaborate story you can tell – and the ‘real life’ it may be based on.

We know that – and ignore it – every time we read, and not just read fiction.

Choices are made. Real life is edited – to make more sense. To make any sense at all.

Even the language we use for stories has too many choices.

But the core? Is the core something worth while?

Most writers don’t even ask themselves this question; they just start writing.

But I had a period when I wondered if it was somehow wrong to tell tales that couldn’t be true, could never happen.

Duplicate oldies!

I was surprised to find I had boosted the same old post twice in less than a month. Clearly, I need to remember what I’ve done – and keep track better!

I’ll do another Oldie but Goodie soon – and put the actual date instead of an approximate one in the heading.

Let me get some sleep, some bloodwork, and some writing done first tomorrow. Sigh.


To write a character become the character

WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW – YOU CAN LEARN

I have taught myself to write from ‘right behind the eyeballs’ of the characters I’m giving voice to.

It is a process similar to Method acting – or to becoming possessed.

I even try to keep the observation of the character to the minimum intrusion I can do.


From October 2012:

Writing characters: To be someone else

The only way I can write a character is to find the part of myself that IS that character.

I contain multitudes.

Everything I have ever heard or read is part of me, and every part of it has to fit in to what I know of the world, my version of reality.

I don’t know what features and programs I came pre-loaded with, but the only access I have to it is how I react to things when they happen to me. Nothing inside me is untouched by the world I was born into, and the world I have added to that every day of my life.

Everything is a product of my experience plus how ‘I’ reacted to that experience.

One of the pre-loads is obviously that marvelous capacity for self-examination, the human consciousness, the ability to be self-aware. I don’t always know why I did something, but, with patience, I can often figure it out. Eventually.

What does this have to do with characters?

Before I can write how a character thinks and acts, I have to put myself into an alternate universe where I imagine or create how the character got to the place where he can be what he is, or she can do what she does. The backstory has to explain the present that I write in.

It gets scary: by the time I have it, at whatever depth, the character IS me – if I had lived through what she has and started with who she was born as.

I have to do some of that even for minor characters, where it helps to cast a few steps back from the present, so that the present at least seems grounded in some kind of logical conclusions.

But for the major characters, it has to go deep – deep and very far back. As far back as the baby he was, who his older sisters were, and where he fit his family’s needs.

I add his alternate universe, and mark him with the events that will take him to where I need him to be.

Then the present makes sense, a convoluted but self-consistent sense, and his actions and words are inevitable.


It takes extra time to switch from character to character, to give a reader the right perspective for each scene, so it contributes to the story whole.

It would be so much simpler not to.

But I would neither be doing my job – nor having so much fun.

Do you like to become the characters you read?

A jackhammer sounds like a helicopter

Road crew with dump truck and excavator digging a hole in the street in front of our house to repair a sewer pipe crack.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING IN LIFE

Homeowner problems

This is still our house, but really? Now? A month before we don’t own it any more?

Didn’t need the worry!

We have owned this house since it was built in 1981. March 5th we moved in, and it has had no other family in it. In all those years, we NEVER had a sewer problem connected to the street.

Well, just for funsies, the day AFTER the Open House, a small sink hole developed by the curb, right near the real estate sign, and we wondered whether they had nicked the water line into the house (since no markings were made on the grass and bushes, and no flags set by utility companies). So we duly reported it, the township fixed the small sink hole, and we thought that was that.

Told lawyer and real estate agent, so they wouldn’t say we didn’t inform them of potential problems (water line, sewer) that we might be required to disclose.

Then we got a message on our answering machine from the head of the Sewer Dept., stating there was a problem where our sewer pipe connected to the main – in the middle of the street (so not on our property).

When contacted, found out they would get it fixed by contractors as soon as they had enough for a day’s work for one. We thought it would be forever, but they started early this morning, did NOT (bless them!) ring our door bell until around 9am when they needed us not to send anything down the sewer line for a while (now over), and they proceeded to make a standard repair.

Which they are in the process of asphalting right this minute.

What was that sound?

The sound I heard, which was like every helicopter in every movie, was actually a man tamping down soil and gravel into the hole with a jackhammer-like device (probably called, with all due irony, a tamper), was not Black Hawks landing on our lawn.

Much more prosaic.

And over much sooner than I expected – so I am impressed by our township’s efficiency at keeping us in the loop, and the contractor’s at getting a ‘not uncommon’ problem fixed efficiently and quickly.

Yay, taxes!

Yay, First World problems.

Not our responsibility, thank goodness – no digging up the front lawn and all the way to the house – no cost.

I have never been happier to pay property taxes which include infrastructure.


Of such is my life right now.

And y’all get such interesting but ultimately unimportant trivia because I can, courtesy of iPhone and WordPress, mail a photo snapped in a moment out my office window directly to my Media Library. Gotta love the modern world.


 

Ready to move in any direction

A white desktop with pink pens and the corners of pink notebooks. Test: A little time in the middle. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

I CAN’T GET STARTED ON ANYTHING

Because I’m literally in the middle, feeling like a millipede, waiting for a shoe, any shoe, to drop, so I will know what to do next.

I can’t even plan. I have a general outline of what needs doing between now and some kind of stability: get whatever still needs fixing done on the house between now and the closing date, assuming the house inspections and the mortgage applications don’t run into snags we can’t resolve, which would toss us back to a Step a few before the current one, like Groundhog Day. Until we got it right.

I know we have to finish some kind of packing job to take whatever possessions we decide we want to retain with us.

The parameters are not mine to set

I’m on someone else’s time schedule.

We are waiting to find out, now that they finally have all our paperwork and deposit, whether the CCRC we’ve applied to will take us. We don’t have huge worries there – they were very nice when we visited, and are perfectly pleasant when I email, but I have been disabled for a long time now, and it shows. It shouldn’t keep me from moving into an Independent Living apartment, but I still haven’t heard. So I wait for that shoe.

Can’t seem to get hold of the handyman – that’s a surprise. He’s probably on vacation with his family – or something – but I’ve left a couple of messages over several days requesting a callback, and nothing yet. His work was excellent, and he was recommended by our agent (who doesn’t know him personally, nor his work), and we will need another couple of full days of his ministrations. I said on the voicemail that we’re not in a huge hurry. Maybe that was a mistake.

We can’t use him until the building inspector for the municipality comes on Friday…

…Oops. The above made me check my phone – two missed calls from Chris. Phew. We had a short talk; he’ll make time. One more down – except that this was nothing more than a ‘stay in touch’ call, requested by the husband. Nothing has actually happened.

Being in standby mode

That’s typical: I am to be available to do what needs to be done that I’m better at – as necessary.

Being in standby or sleep mode is very taxing.

I can’t start projects because it is likely I’ll get interrupted. I take an inordinately long time to get projects going, and much of that time involves figuring out where I was since last time I was able to put any effort into it. There’s really no point to doing anything new right now, and all my writing projects (ie, PC NETHERWORLD) are too involved to pick up for a short time before the next interruption. It’s just not worth the pain.

I have to be really, really careful with energy expenditure right now. The uncertainty cost me the ability to get to sleep two nights ago, and I didn’t get to sleep until 5am (that’s when dawn and birds are starting up), and then caught almost enough sleep by staying in that bed until almost noon. Which I’m still paying for, two days later, with a lot of time in which I can barely stare at the computer screen.

Ah, the computer

My entertainment and communication device, my MacBook, has been having storage problems. SOMETHING in my usual work/play setup was chewing up space on the internal drive, and the thing announced every couple of days that I was running out of space. I never found out what would happen if I actually ran out of space, and I still have absolutely no idea what is taking most of my space when that occurs, but I discovered an easy fix: restart the computer.

Which worked reasonably well for a while, except that I noticed I was fighting a losing battle: every time I did the restart, the amount of storage freed up was a bit smaller.

Well, we finally reached 2GB. Yup. GIGA bytes. More storage space than the whole world when I was growing up. Probably more storage than it took to get men to the moon.

So I thought I’d reinstall my system software, Yosemite, and clean things up a bit. Only Apple informed me 2GB wasn’t enough to reinstall anything.

So then I thought, well, let’s upgrade to the latest system, High Sierra (closest I’m getting to mountain climbing is Apple systems lately), and start clean. Well, that needed a lot MORE space.

So, trusting to the Time Machine backups (remind me not to trust anything any more), I went ahead and erased the internal disk, downloaded HS, and installed it.

You’d think there’d be a few more warnings about knowing what the heck ‘backups’ really means before you do anything.

Yup. I have a nice clean new system – and I can’t find anything over a week old. Not my emails. Not my bookmarks. Not my applications such as Word and Excel. And Scrivener – which I absolutely need to function every day. And Pixelmator. And Dramatica Story Expert, my ace in the hole.

Gone. All gone.

Where? Dunno. Probably retrievable, though I was planning on upgrading both Pixelmator and Scrivener. But not necessarily RIGHT NOW.

I have a vague memory of doing a specific backup of all the applications I use, a while back – but I’ve never tested whether they’ll come back when I want them (they’re in a separate folder, if they exist, on the backup drive I am NOT connecting to my computer until I know what I’m doing.

I can probably get it back, more better and up to date

But not exactly the kind of project you do when you’re going to be interrupted on a random schedule not your own.

Meanwhile, I set up a browser, Mail, and communication with the exterior world (with no history – I have no idea how to get the 976 MB of mail messages on my computer back into sync). I suspect I need to use the Rebuild command – and I’m not doing that until I’m sure I won’t use the NEW mail messages.

I was functional enough to approve the changes the attorney wanted to know about (the sale and moving part of the world didn’t stop just because I screwed up the computer) via phone and email, so we are past attorney review. Phew!

But I’m sitting here daily at minimum capacity, playing nonograms.

Until a shoe drops – and I have to leap into action.

Minor disaster today

I’ve mentioned we’re living in someone else’s house, with someone else’s pale carpeting, white wood, and very light walls. And a new oak flooring laminate in the kitchen and dining room which shows every little fragment of coffee bean that leapt out of the grinder (I don’t drink coffee).

I go to the pantry to load up the bottom of the refrigerator door with more Diet Coke cans (two of those a day are my caffeine drug of choice – more, and I can’t sleep; less, and I can’t function). To notice that the Coke box is sopping wet on the bottom. No, it wasn’t the Coke (I drink the stuff regularly enough so it doesn’t get old). It was the Diet Pepsi we’ve had problems with before (to be fair, the cans in our basement the husband is bringing up so we drink them before we leave are literally ancient, and way past their sell-by date, way past) because they will randomly leak.

I thought soda cans couldn’t DO that, leak. Well, if something is old enough, it is allowed to leak (advance warning for human bodies, as well). And there was a small puddle on the BRAND NEW kitchen flooring we paid a mint for and was just installed less than two months ago and is probably the reason we have a buyer.

Stop. Panic never helps anything.

Clean up the spill. Make sure the floor is dry, and liquid isn’t allowed to pool on the NEW FLOOR. There was no damage. Phew. I put the whole box of Diet Pepsi in the SINK. Then I mentioned it casually when the spouse came in. He’s been working his little tail off pruning bushes that aren’t really ours any more. And the tree he like to keep pruned so we can see out the window. I said, helpfully, “Maybe the new owners will prefer to have that tree screen the neighbors from view.” Deer-in-headlights look from spouse – he hadn’t considered the possibility. Anyhoo.

Keep a jaundiced eye on the rest of the Pepsi in the basement. It has done this before. We are so frugal, but the stuff tastes old, if that makes any sense. Even in a sealed can and a cool basement, it deteriorates with time. You heard that from me.

This is my life for now

And it matters nothing that it is the worst possible life for someone chronically ill and with no energy and no flexibility whatsoever.

We are living as if our lives depended on no one knowing we’re here.

We can stop some of that now, since, in principle and if nothing goes really wrong, no more home viewers will come a’trampling through our home on short notice.

We were very lucky, as we had less than three weeks total of that, although there was a decent amount of traffic (which mysteriously died off completely before and after the 4th of July holiday). Husband thinks it has been just too darned hot for people to be willing to go look at houses. As if that were going to get better in SUMMER in NJ.

Technically, we’re under contract. They don’t have a mortgage approval yet. The house inspector could find aliens living in the attic.

I’m resting as much as I can while waiting for the next ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED thing than ONLY I CAN DO.

Oh, yeah. My assistant will be gone for the next two weeks.

The staging ladies will be coming back for their wares soon – they only lent them for the Open House and a month later – and I won’t be sad to see their delicate (and fake) plants going. We could rent them – but only if we fear the buyer will evaporate and we will have to resume hawking our home to uncaring strangers.

The spouse bought a small kitchen table – which I assembled! – so the wrought-iron ‘bistro table’ could go back outside where it can’t possibly scratch the NEW KITCHEN FLOORING. And promptly cut a slash in the brand new seat cushion (thank God it wasn’t my fault – I’d never hear the end of it), and the darn chairs are very uncomfortable anyway, so no desire to move them to California for meanwhile.

I can’t complain

Just because of my limitations, which make ANY change in routine difficult and fraught, the problems/opportunities/events are all first-world problems of people lucky enough to be able to sell a house and move. Soon, this will all be in the rear-view mirror, a source of amusing anecdotes for a small while (after which I promise never to bring them up again), and I will be slowly and carefully reconstructing my life better someplace where people make my dinner and it has veggies every night.

I fervently hope so, as I’d like to get back to writing NETHERWORLD.

But I realized that not being able to do or think anything was a reaction, not an indication that I’m losing my marbles. I’m overtired, and will be for the foreseeable future, and that’s just going to be the way it is. I have to conserve spoons, because I can’t been in spoon-deficit when the next Call to Action comes along.

Doing my best here. Everything is going along far better than I had any hope I could manage. It will happen. It is even possible it will happen efficiently (as in, getting us into a place without having to find an apartment to rent in between – that’s really amazing).

Pray. Send good wishes. Think, ‘there but for the grace of God…,’ and don’t wonder why I’m erratic. I can’t believe we’re really doing this, but it appears we are.


Thanks to Stencil – I was able to figure out my password and get back to using their ten free images a month wonderful plan.


This would be a lot shorter if I were capable of self-editing right now. Ignore typos. Just for now.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE in suport of CDC

HERE ARE THE WORDS THE CDC HAVE BEEN FORBIDDEN TO USE:


VULNERABLE
ENTITLEMENT
DIVERSITY
TRANSGENDER
FETUS
EVIDENCE-BASED
SCIENCE-BASED


I’m sure my real scientific colleagues, the ones with PhDs and MSs and BSs and technician certificates and experience who have been doing science at the CDC before this miserable year, will find appropriate ways to get around Big Brother.

But they shouldn’t have to.

Yes, I know. Some of it is silly jargon, and sometimes overused, and God knows we scientists are nowhere near perfect.

But we CARE about our fellow humans, even the ones who… and we want them to be as happy, and especially healthy, as possible. And make their own adult choices about the number of children they can care for.

This above kind of nonsense wastes time, doesn’t produce anything, and is downright stupid as well as authoritarian and totalitarian and [insert your favorite here].

Meanwhile, it is my civic duty to make sure these words get their regular workout, so they are ready to serve when sanity returns.

Which it must, eventually.

While I’m at it:


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE GOOD FOLK OF

ALABAMA

and the men and women who drove voters to the polls and got their friends and neighbors to register, and forced their fear down just long enough. Each American gets ONE vote, regardless of income or social standing.

Thank you, Founding Fathers. And those who have added the rest of us to the rolls of voters with the constitutional amendments and Supreme Court decisions.

May Doug Jones serve ALL the people of ALABAMA, who will be better off.


And my usual gratitude to Stencil for the ability to produce images for posts.

Forgive me for yelling.

Physical or Mental: Why it Matters

It being Labor Day – and so many of us ME/CFS people remembering how much we used to be able to work, this post seemed especially relevant. Treating a physical illness as mental is bad for two reasons: the physical illness doesn’t get researched, and solved; and the real mental illnesses don’t either.

And my perennial: follow the money. Whose interest is it to keep ME/CFS classified as mental? Those who (mis)treat mental illnesses and have invested their professional careers in it.

The Self-Taught Author

This is the second in a three part series of articles looking at related issues. The first article can be found here, and explores Dr Sykes’ reply to the ME Association regarding the Science Media Centre’s recently coverage of new biological evidence in ME/CFS.

This article is going to explore the broader topic of why it matters whether the disease is considered physical or psychological.

Dr Sykes believes that, “Any organisation serious about CFS/ME should not care whether the causes of and treatments for an illness are physical, psychological, or a combination of the two.”

What an extraordinary statement. I would have to argue the opposite: Any organization serious about ME/CFS absolutely must care.

An example outside of ME/CFS

In 1980 the claim was still being made that incest occurred in fewer than one in a million women, and that its impact was not particularly damaging. (Bessel Van der…

View original post 1,405 more words

Sale honors Guest Post, new Reviews

ALWAYS CELEBRATE MILESTONES

Big day for Pride’s Children! And, to mark the it (and surviving the eclipse), Pride’s Children is $2.99.

A Guest Post on Big Al’s Books and Pals

where I remind readers of the power of fiction:

“Fiction is uniquely positioned to develop and increase empathy, because it provides a way around and under and through the barriers most people put up around their hearts and minds.”

“Reading is just you and the book.”

“Oh, and the author.”

And I give away some of the writer’s secret tricks.

Al gave me space to write about how reading fiction is SPECIAL. Read the post here.

A lovely new review on Amazon

From a reader who took time when she didn’t have it:

“It truly is in the vein of old-school bestsellers; expansive story, larger-than-life characters, and a realistically detailed, interesting world.”

“Once I settled in to the story I was right there with Kary and Andrew. The pace is deliberate, but I was never bored, and in fact, often found myself reading longer than I’d intended. If I’d had the time, I might have read it in one sitting.”

The rest of the review is here.

From Bill Peschel, a book blogger with wide-ranging reading habits

A few tasty bits from an extensive review (I urge you to read the original):

“It deals with the reality of managing an illness that saps your energy and doesn’t leave visible marks, a rising star dealing with the risks of fame on his ability to trust and love, and the morality of his ambitious co-star who trades on her beauty to move up the Hollywood ladder.”

“Kary Ashe does not fit the model of a typical romance heroine…. Like most good writers, she is self-involved, self-protective, but also observant and hard-working.”

““Pride’s Children: Purgatory” reminded me of “Notting Hill,” particularly the problems a private person has moving into a star’s very hot and public orbit. But the resemblance ends there. This is the first book of the trilogy, so the story doesn’t end with the happy couple clenching and wedding bells chiming. That may be too long to wait for some readers, but I don’t mind. I loved submersing myself in Kary and Andrew’s worlds, and look forward to meeting them again.”

Read Bill’s complete review here.


The sale will go on as long as I still feel a bit giddy. Feedback makes me giddy (hint, hint).