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Wiishu's Birthday Present

I was more than a little appalled to realize, when I went looking for it, that I never put up the slideshow on what is one of the coolest prezzies Wiishu (and I) have gotten. Wiishu’s auntie Lynn (my sister) sent it to us actually two years ago. It’s a bed I’d been eying on E-bay since the first month after Wiishu arrived. It’s one of the best 3-D puzzles ever. It came in sheets of laser-cut plywood and turned into this. I’ll get that slideshow put together and up, but to make a long story short…last BDay I finally got the time to start it. I got the pieces out and sanded and the first coat of paint on them…then the floor happened. And the windstorm…and everything else. So this BDay, I finally got to finish it. I made the mattress following a futon demo online, but it doesn’t roll very well. 😀 Their pillow is the pillow our little bracelet-bearer used for the wedding. Anyway…here’s the sneak peek…

 

Happy Halloween 2016!

Joey, Airiis, Pookii and Wiishu: Halloween 2016

 

I don’t know what to say, except I’ve just gone into hermit mode, big time. Sorry! I’ve been busy, and there’s just been…stuff going on. Even poor little Wiishu has been pretty much ignored. Sigh. However, all is actually well, and I’ll rejoin the human race soon. I’ll have some pics eventually, and will try to be witty and engaging! 😀

Miscon 2016

Hullo, evwybodies!

 

We gotsa slide show fo’ you. We went to Miscon dis year, bud jus’ t’say Hi to our fwens. We were jus ‘ there for a few hours, but I gots some pitchurs!

More soon! Wemember, we’s workin’ backwards, cuz we’re so far behind, we can’t find where to starts. Sigh…

And from me…I’ll have a real post soon. Some thoughts coming out of the Nebs.

Bye bye xfinity

Yes…we’re doing it. We’re ditching cable except for internet. No more sucky modem, no more sucky router, no more ever-increasing charges, no more yearly renegotiation…

Necessary stuff:

Modem: Arris surfboard

Router: Linksys WRT1900ACS

Amazon Fire TV

VOIP (Voice over IP) phone: 1-VoIP

Total cost for setup: around $600 including a year of VoIP

Total savings for the year: Going from nearly $250/mo for xfinity to $100/mo for their higher rated internet connection: $1800. After setup, phone goes to about $125 per year. All other costs, like Amazon prime and hulu, are costs we were already incurring, so they’re a wash.

We’ll keep you posted how well this works out. On paper, it looks really good. I’m pretty stoked. I’ve wanted to ditch this stupid xfinity gateway since the moment I had to give up my linksys router.

Tivo becomes obsolete. No more recording broadcasts as they happen, but with the streaming options now, between Hulu, Netflix and Amazon…we can get them…for a whole lot less than xfinity.

Might the big providers’ stranglehold on the nation’s pocketbook  soon be a thing of the past? I sure hope so.

It's done!

Well, almost. We’ve still got the baseboards, but that can wait. I’ll be posting more soon. Right now..I’m off to get my hip seen to…at last. No point til this was done.

Well…I was going to post a picture, but my site’s screwed up. Oh joy, oh rapture. Another round tuit. Ah, well, at least I’m going to be off-duty for physical labor for the next few days. I’ll get some up soon.

sheesh…they’ve changed everything. But here’s one pic of the living room. You can see the hallway to the left. Still arranging and need to put baseboards in yet (that’ll wait) but you get the idea. On my monitor, this comes through quite brown. The floor actually has a rich, red toe. For reference, the chair on the right w/b a true red. Again, on mine, looks a little on the purple/magenta side.

livingroom

 

 

 

Words/phrases you'd like to see banned from TV

As I sit here, exiled in the torn apart office because of a plethora of paint upon my person, waiting for the first coat of red (yes red) paint in the converted now-open closet to dry, I thought I’d take a moment to engage the minimal computer setup for something other than GW2. So…OMG! A blog post!

Opening caveat…I’m introducing this topic not just to air my pet peeves or to point fingers at anyone, but because I’m curious how TV and common usage has…cheapened other phrases, phrases I might not know about. This is actually a need-to-know/understand for a writer because making characters “feel” right often depends on correct word choice. The people who use these phrases on these shows use them in all innocence. They’re phrases TV has made popular without really ever explaining them. Having said that…

OK…I admit, we’ve become a bit addicted to all the house “fixer-upper” shows. Not too surprising, considering the constant changes we’re making to our own domicile to make it our own. However, if I hear the words “wow factor” or “make it pop” or “open concept” or “must have” one more time out of these first time buyers with WAY too much money…

“Must have” is, IMO, the epitome of me-generation spoiled brat-isms. Any cook who actually believes they NEED a kitchen the size of most apartments needs to spend a summer cooking on a campfire. With one pot. Any twenty-something who actually believes they NEED a spa attached to the bedroom needs to spend that same summer with nothing but a pan of water from a questionable pond heated over the same campfire to kill the bugs. These people willing to spend $100,000 or more for those luxuries when the house they’re buying already has a perfectly nice kitchen and master bath should maybe think about putting that money into their future kids’ (which they’re all talking about having, hence the ten bedrooms and open concept they need…one for each kid and a separate office for each spousal unit and the open concept so they can watch every breath a kid takes) college funds. If they have that already taken care of…how about a scholarship for a kid whose parents don’t have that kind of throwaway cash?

I grew up in a middle class family. We had what I figured was a pretty good life. When I was in the fourth grade, we moved out of town to a 3.5 acre “ranch” where we could have horses. My folks designed and my contractor uncle helped us build the ranchstyle house that I still think of as “home” and the essence of luxury for a cozy family. Three bedrooms…a master with a half-bath and small walkthrough closet, with an attached semi-room with a closet that housed my then young brother. Sis and I shared a 10×10 room with a closet and a killer view of the Cascades through one window and Mt Rainier out the other. My two older bros who were still at home shared another 10×10 with a single closet. All of us kids shared a bathroom with a tub/shower and one sink. The living room/dining room/kitchen/family room comprised the other end of the house. The living room had a beautiful picture window that looked out across the pasture to the distant Cascade Mountain range. It was separated from the dining room by the nice fireplace. The dining room had a smaller picture window with a raised flowerbed outside with a similar view. Right angle from dining room was the kitchen, a lovely thing with room for several to work. The kitchen was separated from the family room (where the TV and “family dining table” lived)  by a convenient sitting bar with storage above and below. From the kitchen you went past the laundry area with a small mudroom (potty and sink so work-mud didn’t come inside) on the left. Two doors, one to the outside walkway that led to my grandmother’s lovely trailer parked on the other side of the back lawn, the other to the garage. Total square footage? I’d be surprised if it exceeded 1500, but it handled six people very handily. I did my homework in the family room, I curled up on the couch in the living room to read. I shared late night secrets with my sister, fought for my half of the bed, closet and chest of drawers, and came out able to have a good fight with her and come out smiling and loving on the other end.

Replace those “views” with a well-designed backyard…maybe a pond and water feature?…and the same idylic home could be brought into the necessary area for “good school district and easy access to shopping” two more “necessities” for these 21st C home-owners.

I have developed, after too many viewings of these shows, a few opinions regarding most of these “must haves.”

A) if you have to watch kids every moment of the day, you aren’t raising them to be independent. You’re micromanaging.

B) if any kid needs their own bedroom, they’ve got too much STUFF. They’ll accumulate plenty later in life. Save money. Make them do laundry rather than wear a new set of duds each day. I mean…sheesh…books these days only require a tablet of some kind for an entire library! We had to stash books and comics under the bed. 😀

C) if you need your bedroom as an oasis from the kids you’re micromanaging or the job you hate, see A and do something about the job situation, because the answer doesn’t lie in a million dollar tub.

I will admit that with computers, a designated office is increasingly useful, but not a necessity, especially if you’re getting every family member a laptop, smart phone and ipad. I mean…sheesh.

I will admit that having a good flow for people who like to entertain is a Good Thing. Having a kitchen that can handle several cooks at once is also good. Having a kitchen where the cook can actually be a part of the party rather than a slave is an excellent notion, but too often, the “must have” is taking a kitchen with all these attributes and making it bigger and spashier. Oh…and the guys who “must have” a mancave. Not as common as the “must have” kitchen, but still all too common. As I say…”me generation” thinking.

OK…having, er, dissed the me generation of home owner mentality…let’s move on to the terms once reserved for artists and architects that have been coopted by these shows and brought into general use in the populace without a clue as to what they really mean.

“Open-concept.” I mean…sheesh. Before these shows, did anyone really know that architectural term? Now…everyone they bring on MUST have it. No wonder the kids need their own bedrooms. Where else can they get away from Mom or Dad’s TV/music and other activities? More to the point, these’ “must havers” can’t seem to get it through their heads that tearing out walls is going to be EXPENSIVE. Rewiring, replumbing, working around load-bearing wall issues…that’s expensive. (Do they even watch these shows before they agree to be on them?)

If they want to tear out those walls and are truly on a limited budget…maybe they should opt for the furniture they already have rather than letting these TV people choose brand new (very expensive) furniture just to be sure it looks uber-upscale for the “reveal.” Or maybe…scary concept…just opt for a simple showhead rather than $2000 worth of jets in a flipping shower. (That’s another thing I really find difficult to understand. Who in their right mind accepts a home someone else has chosen the STUFF for? These homeowners often seem surprised at these fancy showers. Maybe they should have discussed these details BEFORE giving the contractor more money? Rather than going further into debt, if I were truly working on the budget originally stated, I’d say…give me a showerhead that works and the vaulted ceiling…Or vice versa.)

In a way, I feel sorry for the renovators. They must get really tired of the same issues, over and over, because EVERYONE they bring on is fixated on the same issues. Of course, they’re probably also generating lots of work for local contractors as people who don’t get on TV shows decide they must have these things. So…maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I dunno. I just find it weird. No one ever asks for a backyard to die for.

Moving on…

“Make it pop.” Do these people even understand what that means? It comes from art where a tiny speck of pure white or intense color will make certain elements of the image stand out. Just once, I want someone to ask one of these homeowners to be “what do you actually mean by that.” I’m pretty sure the answer will be “I’ll know it when I see it.” ARGH

The one that bugs me the most: “Wow Factor.” I learned this one from dear author-friend and stitcher-extraordinaire Lynn Abbey. She grinned as she spoke about a sparkly bit of stitching having a high wow factor. THAT has meaning. A high wow factor means a lot of visual bang for your effort and pocketbook buck. It means a relatively easy thing to do that has a big impact on the end product.

Wow factor on it’s own is, IMO, snob on the half-shell. These people on these shows aren’t looking for simple, inexpensive, clever things to make a place special, they’re looking for high vaulted ceilings, several thousand dollar light fixtures, rare wood or stone, i.e. top of the line this or that to make all their friends envious. In other words…they come in, saying it doesn’t have the “wow factor” and expect the contractor to give them these expensive things but do it within their declared budget. If the contractor can’t do it, if they say they have to have more money, the homeowner to be rarely says “forget it” but comes up, grudgingly, with the additional cost. I wish, just once, the contractor would call them on it and give options for how to achieve an effect that stays within their budget. Instead, the shows perpetuate this idea that wanting is having. I’d also like to know how often the production company eats some of the cost in order to make that reveal possible and make themselves look oh-so-clever.

I love watching these shows because I learn a lot about house constructions and STUFF that’s available for future reno for our own place, and I do love seeing the end result, but I have to wonder…where do they find these people? Is an $800,000 house budget really the norm these days?

I hate to admit what we paid for this place….

But my red closet is a definite high wow factor for my office. 😀 Off to do the second coat!

 

 

The potato did it.

Christmas. Trying to do something nice for my spousal unit. She always cooks. I took over to make the turkey, mashed spuds and gravy and green bean casserole. (Fancy, I know…) I’d already done the cookies and banana bread the day before. The turkey was browning nicely. Time to cook the spuds and put in the casserole. I peel the spuds into the eatamus-everythingus side of the sink, put them on to cook, then start to straighten the kitchen preparatory to dishing up dindin. I blithely grind up the peels….and the water backs up into the other side of the sink! ARGHETH! No time to think. Dumped some draino in and went back to stirring the gravy. Then behind me, CJC tried a plunger…in a sink filled with groundup potato peels and draino. Yummy. Then a snake, which got caught in the drain hole. (Mind you, we can’t see through the muck. I shooed her out and finished dinner with that lovely stench of draino filling the air.

Curiously, dinner wasn’t bad. Afterward, I got the snake free of the drain holes, put dishes in the dishwasher and rinsed a few things out in the tub, said screw it and went to enjoy the evening with CJC.

Next AM, the sink was still floating. Nothing for it. All a plumber would do is take it apart and see what he could see. So…I pulled all the cleaning stuff out from under the sink and started taking the trap off….which drained the sink (yummy), but the trap was clear. Oh, oh. What was weird was, water run into the sink still backed up, even with the trap off! WHAT?!? I pulled everything else, but it was all clear. Still don’t know why that first test failed.

But then I started investigating the pipe running out to the well. YUCKO. Clear enough why it was stopped. We have a bad tendency to put stuff down the kitchen sink that we probably shouldn’t, and I paid for it, digging really disgusting stuff out of that pipe. Then, I sent the snake down through it looking for more hidden treasure. I think I found at least one other obstruction, tho it didn’t really pull anything out. I reached the full length of the snake, wound it back up. put everything back together again….turned on the water…and prayed to any god that might be enjoying the show. Fortunately, it drained clear, didn’t leak and after a couple of loads of dishes and thorough cleanup…it’s still draining smoothy. Whew. Talk about dodging a bullet….

It was the potatos. I know it was the potatoes.

Merry Christmas!

Sigh....I HATE HOUSEWORK!

This is, like, not exactly news to those who know me. OTOH…I hate a dirty house. I hate chaos around me. I have a fairly sensitive nose and I hate stinky stuff.

I’ve struggled for years to figure why I hate it so much when I love the result so much…and have finally realized: housework requires the ability to make decisions fast of what to keep, what to throw away, where to put it…in other words…my greatest weaknesses. I have trouble making a decision what to order at a restaurant. To have a “place” for something requires categorizing it…and all too often “categories” for me overlap. A “logical spot” for something one day isn’t necessarily a “logical spot” for me another day.

In order to get rid of something, you have to determine it’s no longer useful. That’s…hard for me. One of my most developed skills is recognizing possibilities. That’s kinda part of being a writer of complex stories. It’s too easy for me to see how to put weird stuff together to make something useful or maybe just cool. What ifs are WAY too easy to imagine.

Carolyn has a similar way of seeing the world, which means we tend to get stalled out shedding stuff over and over and it gets harder and harder to do that simple pull out the vacuum or broom or duster, clean and be done with it.

The question now is…can I translate this newly realized causality into the ability to close my eyes and just toss it out?

I sure hope so.

Happy late Halloween, everyone.

Yes, Virginia…and all the other states and countries…

It lives.

Sorry to be so flipping silent this year. It’s been a little crazy. I haven’t even kept up with pictures, so I can’t even tell you what all I’ve been doing. I just know…the year has disappeareded. I’m not even going to edit this thing, so…beware! Likely lots of wordsalad ahead.

Right now, I’m sitting here, scanning old documents that we can’t just toss because of the seven year limit on tax stuff. Suffice to say, I’m bored out of my mind. I’d much rather be pulling carpet or ripping out a wall in the bathroom, or pulling weeds, or doing a Wiishu slideshow, or better than everything, working with Carolyn on the latest Bren book.

But I’ve got to do some of all the above each day, because somehow, I’ve got to get ahead of this pile of stuff. I can make excuses all day for never having done this, but the boredom is right at the top of the list. I did, finally, find a scanner I can live with. It’s a little thing called a “doxiego” that sits in front of my keyboard. I can feed stuff through bunches at a time, from statements to contracts to sales-slips, then import the ocr’d images into my computer edit and save with appropriate names, and with connected images “stapled” and saved into the same pdf.

Mind you, I could do all that before, but our scanner was a big scanner/printer, fax that sits on the far side of the office, with a really snarky document feeder. Each item had to be individually scanned, then saved before moving onto the next. Can you say…tedious? Anyway, I think this is going to work well, and with so many statements and such now downloadable…keeping up with new stuff should be pretty straight forward.

It’s all this old stuff that’s a pain. But…we’ll get there. Thank goodness most of it can be recycled. Talk about landfill!

Work on the next Bren book is going really well. After Visitor was finished, CJC and I took a roadtrip and just discussed where the series needed to go from there…and what this book needed to do in specific. We got to Brother Chip’s, our destination, and CJ was right onto the computer taking notes. By the time we got home, she had a solid outline.

You never know quite how a book is going to happen…well, we don’t. What the formula writers do is beyond my experience. But this time, there are two parallel storylines and Carolyn attacked one while I did some basic bones work on the other. When she had a solid scene or three on hers, she’d send it over to me for editing while I sent her those bare bones and let her turn it into actual story. This way, we’re both “up” on what’s happening and insights into the story happen on a daily basis. It’s a whole lot like when she was writing Cyteen, and is a superfun working relationship.

It’s been working really well, and it looks like that end of October deadline will be met with at least a very solid, well beyond first draft, if not ready to go manuscript.

And you’re going to love it.

As soon as it goes in, I’m taking a break and putting Homecoming Games together. It’ll be available soon, if the cover is nothing more than a starfield with typeface!

And then…there’s B Brown. Phone calls several times a day now. Never knew it could be so satisfying to hear the phone ring once before “blocked” showed up to silence it. Wheeeeeee!

Long overdue Wiishu/Miike slideshow soon!

hugs to all.