Friday’s Fumblings

  1. The more that I’m writing, the worst that I sleep. I dream more when I’m writing more, too. Yesterday produced a great writing session, a miserable night of sleep, and a flotilla of dreams.
  2. I think that I sleep worst when I’m writing more because more of my brain is engaged in the writing process. The writing is consuming more bandwidth; shutting it down at day’s end is problematic. I keep writing while I’m doing other things, including trying to sleep.
  3. The good news with the novel in progress is that the characters escaped Arsehold at last! How surprised me, but was totally in tone with the rest of the book. This is, of course, when writing is most fun and rewarding.
  4. I always worry about saying too much about writing these days. I don’t want to jinx it when it’s going well, you know? Don’t want to scare off or anger the muses. I never elaborate to others about what I’m writing any more. It’s a novel; it’s meant to be read. I don’t want to explain it; I want people to read it. Sometimes it’s hard to stay true to this as excitement about the story, characters, and concept bubble up and make me happy. I guess I’m an eternal optimist that these stories and novels will come to be in people’s hands someday. Really, though, I write for me and have a good time doing it.
  5. I’m subscribed to HBOMax and enjoying several shows. Nevertheless, I have a complaint about the service. Every time I select it, the first thing that comes up is, “Who is watching?” My name is right there on top. It’s the only name. Below it are options to add other profiles or to add a kid. Seriously? Why must I answer this every friggin’ time? Just accept, I am the one watching, and get on with it. If I want to add someone else, I can go into options or the account, you know. It shouldn’t, I suppose, but it irks me to no end.
  6. COVID-19 vaccinations are increasing among friends and family. I know ten people who have been vaccinated. Three different states – Oregon, Texas, and Pennsylvania – are involved. All who were vaccinated except one were seventy plus years old. The one exception is in her forties and is in the healthcare industry, although she’s in research. Both vaccines have been employed among this small sampling. None have reported significant adverse reactions beyond a desire to nap and mild fevers. Let me know how your vaccination goes, please.
  7. My wife and I are a year apart in age, which adds another spin to our vaxsit. I’m sixty-four and a half. I turn sixty-five in July. I’ll be eligible. But do we want to do it if we can’t do it at the same time? Part of our formula about whether and when is that I have hypertension and she has RA. I suspect that we’ll be included as part of a group that’s fifty years and older later this year, making our one year difference moot.
  8. I mentioned oatmeal in another post, and the huntress commented on oatmeal. Her mother made it very thin. Soupy thin. I think of that as gruel. Yeah, I know it’s not the same. While that’s how my wife eats it, I’m not a fan of it. I make my oat meal so thick, it’s almost a soft cookie.
  9. I grew up putting brown sugar in my oatmeal. Well, it started as white sugar but once I had it with brown sugar, the game was done. I then learned to add raisins and nuts. Now I put all manner of things in my oatmeal. I currently add cranberries and walnuts in my oatmeal, and granola as a topping. I like the contrasting crunchiness and flavor.
  10. When I was first served oatmeal at my wife’s house while in my teens, they surprised me by adding butter and bacon on top. I’d never heard of such a thing! That surprised them, because that’s how they always ate it. Adding bacon and butter to my oatmeal wasn’t something that I adopted. My wife doesn’t add it to her oatmeal, either.
  11. The world seems weirdly calmer with Joe Biden in office as President. Is this my imagination? Am I just reading less news? That doesn’t seem to be the case. Have news outlets shifted how they’ve reported? Perhaps. Or is it that there’s less bad news, or it’s being less reported, or not catching my eye… Maybe we’re just in an intermission in the bad news cycle.
  12. Or maybe it’s some sense of numbing of normalization to bad news. Locally — specifically, in Jackson County, Oregon — COVID-19 positive cases have been declining. We haven’t had triple digits in several days. We’re trending down, but we trended down in November. Then we had a Christmas spike. Meanwhile, people aged 20-29 are the most positive cases here, but those aged fifty and older dominate the hospital beds, inline with what’s been seen elsewhere, and what’s generally expected.
  13. Okay, got my coffee, actually my second cup. No mid-morning treat to go with it. No cookies, pastries, or doughnuts. Nevertheless, time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

The Mid-Morning Treat

My wife made us energy balls yesterday. You’re probably familiar with some variation. Her no-bake recipe is peanut butter, dark chocolate chips, and oatmeal rolled up in a ball about one and a quarter inches in diameter. They’re about a two bite for me, so they’re a perfect little treat to have with a banana in the middle of the morning. I mean, banana, peanut-butter, and chocolate? That’s an awesome flavor combo.

Ha, ha, I kid. I love it but I know many don’t. One thing you learn quickly in life that the foods you love and hate aren’t the foods that everyone loves and hates. Example: raisins. My wife can’t stand raisins. I love raisins. Give me a cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookie, and I’ll be wagging my tail day into night.

No, not my wife. They disgust her. (smh). Meanwhile, she eats prunes every day. We both do. Lot of benefits to prunes, and they have a great flavor. I tell her, “Prunes taste a lot like giant raisins,” just to watch her reaction. Lips tight, she shakes her head in horror and denial.

She’s a big fig fan. Paul Newman Fig Newmans are our go-to grocery store cookie buy, but the wife loves fresh figs. Her eyes light up when we encounter them at the store. The price conversation then follows. “They’re so expensive.”

I shrug. “It’s just money. We have that money. Buy them.”

“Will you eat them, too?”

“Yes.” I do enjoy fresh figs as well.

“Okay, if you’ll eat them, too. Promise me you will.”

“I promise.”

I will eat one or two, to live up to my promise. She gets the rest.

Anyway, off to enjoy my treat (banana, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, remember?). Then I’ll wash it down with coffee.

Yeah, go ahead. Judge me.

Monday’s Meatballs

  1. My wife is feeling guilty. I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Because I live in Oregon now, I’ve also adopted the Seattle Seahawks to watch. That’s mostly because their games are frequently broadcast in the area (wonder why…). Anyway, back when Russ was cooking and the Steelers were 11-0, my wife started cheering for the two teams. Everything went downhill from there… She blames herself. Doesn’t help that she’s also a Patrick Mahomes fan. She was cheering for him. Then yesterday, during the playoffs, he hits the ground and is concussed and out. Yes, she blames herself. Says its bad luck for her to cheer for any team or person. Hmmm…maybe she should stop rooting for me to get published…
  2. Got a message from a FB friend. I didn’t know the name. Message just said, “Hi.” I thought, bull; you’re not my friend. I checked their FB page. Nothing there, you know, except a photo who I think is Paul Hollywood from a few years ago.
  3. We’ve been receiving spates of calls from our area code. They’re numbers that we don’t recognize. From years of conditioning, we don’t answer the phone unless we know the number. Going further, I’ve assigned family members specific ringtones so I know it’s them when the phone rings. When we check out these numbers doing reverse look up, they often turn out to be foreign numbers. They seem to be linked to a new scam going around.
  4. It seems like there’s a new scam on the phone, net, or in politics every week.
  5. Speaking of politics, I’m not going to write about it. I’m weary of this mess that’s arisen in the U.S. with normal people believing outlandish things. Then there’s the things that outlandish people believe. They really stretch sanity’s perimeters. I think such people are searching for a force to give their lives meaning. I do the same with my writing (and posting). It’s a structure for my existence; I wouldn’t be surprised if their deep hold on crazy ideas and its supporting community (or tribe) isn’t the same for them.
  6. This week’s soup is again the root soup — roasted broccoli, carrots, potatoes, and garlic put into a mushroom broth and simmered with seasoning. Awesome for winter. Just add good bread.
  7. We picked up some VitaCup infused coffee on sale during a ninja shopping venture last week. We’re both surprised how good this turmeric and cinnamon coffee concoction is. It’s become our go-to choice. That’s especially startling for me; I’ve always been a French or Italian roast sort of person, dark with no sugar, cream, milk, etc. I will acknowledge that I was/am a mocha drinker. When I did them, it was four shots of espresso, then add a little chocolate, and steamed milk. Quit doing those; bad for my prostate.
  8. Still averaging twelve miles per day walking, according to Fitbit. I’m dubious.
  9. Over in streamland, we’re enjoying “Snowpiercer” (the series) and “Doom Patrol”. Both are on HBO Max. I especially like “Snowpiercer” as it fleshes out things in better ways than the movie did. I’m a train fan, and this idea appeals to my sci-fi infused imagination.
  10. On WordPress, it always bugs me that when Post comes up on the right, there is a red button that says, “Move to trash”. It’s like they’re making a suggestion about what I’m writing to post, you know?
  11. I’m also watching “The Wire” again. Been years since I’ve seen it but the characters (and actors), storylines, and plots (and twists) all remain clear in memory. I still enjoy it because it has great values and terrific acting. The characters all have sharp human edges and avoid being stereotypes (although McNulty is pretty close to one as a functioning alcoholic who cares), and we care about them all, good people and bad.
  12. Got my coffee (yes, it’s the infused stuff). Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Almost ready for the characters to put Arsehold into the rearview mirror. Fingers crossed, you know?

The Business Dream

I was running some kind of operation. I’m not certain if it was a small business or a unit of some larger organization; that never became clear. The place of business was sprawling and dark. I didn’t have many people working for me, perhaps a dozen. Things were stable and running smoothly, but tight.

A tall white man came to the place, looking for the manager/owner, which was me. He told me that he owned a business down the street. He expected a great deal of business in the coming days. Spillover business would be coming to me; he wanted to ensure that I was sufficiently manned for the rush. I bristled, brushing him off, telling him, we’re fine and it’s not his business. He went away for a bit but returned with the same message, imploring me to listen to him.

So I listened, thinking while I did, that I was already stretched thin. Putting more people on one shift would mean moving them from another and perhaps overtime. I didn’t want to risk overtime and schedule changes if this business wasn’t going to materialize, because I would take a loss.

I asked him, “How many do you think will come here?” He replied, “Forty-eight.” My workers were listening. Forty-eight struck us all as a significant amount. The other man told me that they would probably mostly order smoothies. I asked him more questions: what time of day was this rush expected? Would it be all at once or stretched out? He said that he didn’t have that information, that those were good questions, that he would need to check that and get back to me.

Dream ended.

A Writing Conference Dream

Fun dream. Happy, satisfying, and rewarding.

I was at a huge writing conference somewhere. Fair weather and a seaside location favored us. Though staying onsite, I’d rented a silver Ford Mustang to run around.

We were there to write novels. The intriguing aspect was that after I’d finished my novel, the other participants were able to live it to test its authenticity. They announced themselves impressed with the results, which pleased me. Meanwhile, I was mentoring a young writer. He’d not been able to write a novel but did turn out a short story. I read and critiqued it for him. It was a good story, and I told him that I thought he could sell it.

I’d also been helping a young foreign student who was present. He couldn’t speak much English. I’d ended up in the role of helping him navigate the conference. In thanks, he came to me and offered me, “Noelle.” I replied, “Noelle,” with confusion. ‘Noelle’ turned out to be a chocolate candy. I accepted it with thanks and laughter, and then ate it with gusto. He also later gave me a small ceramic basket, exquisitely done. I don’t know where it came from. I accepted it but with protests that he didn’t need to be giving me all of these gifts. It’d been a pleasure helping him. Yet, he returned one more time to give me another “Noelle.” By the way, that spelling comes from the dream. I actually think it was a subtitle.

In high spirits, I prepared to leave. The maid service had packed everything up for me. I’d also been given another ceramic basket as a gift by someone else. Since I had two, I offered it to the woman. She was tremendously flattered and embarrassed, insisting that she couldn’t take it because it was too beautiful, and I’d already tipped her and had done too much for her. After a few minutes of going back and forth, I finally won.

Then it was to the car to leave. I offered others rides but none were going with me, so I left in the Mustang to drive to the airport, alone but happy.

*Photo is for illustration purposes only. Wasn’t exactly like this in the dream; it was better.

Three Parts of Cilia: A Dream

Cilia is a friend. Retired from one profession, she’s now a professor and department head at a local university. I know her through my wife. She’s mostly her friend.

First, there was Cilia and the book. I was outside with a group, walking on a sidewalk downtown, when I encountered Cilia. She had a book. Tremendously old and maroon, with one of those warped cloth covers with its title in faded gold print, it was about almost four inches thick and six inches square. I’d heard of this old book. When she showed it to me, I asked with delight, “May I see it?” After she passed it over, I opened the book. The pages inside were very thin. Many were separated from the spine and loose. But there were also metal toys embedded in the book: a steam train engine, car, artillery piece, truck, along with others that I can’t remember. These simple pieces were painted with silver, black, red, green, and yellow enamel paint.

As everyone was looking at it, talking, they tried to turn pages or touch the toys. These was causing the book to come apart, forcing me to tell everyone to be careful before finally ordering everyone to stop touching it. As I returned things to their places and carefully closed the book to hand it to Cilia, noticed she seemed very upset. As I apologized, she departed, tight-lipped.

In the second dream with Cilia, I stopped by her house. She and her husband had friends over for dinner. I didn’t want to impose so I began to leave. Her husband came out and gave me a huge steak, telling me that it was extra, and since I was already there, I might as well have it. I sat down out in the living room and ate it with my hands as the rest continued eating in the dining room. I could hear parts of their conversation but nothing really concerning me. The huge steak was fantastic, cooked just right. As I finished it, eating aroun fatty parts, Cilia came out to ask me if I wanted to take the steak with me if I couldn’t finish it, then was surprised that it was already gone.

The third part of my Cilia dream had Cilia coming out as gay. She had a female partner in addition to her male husband. I was really surprised. Beyond that, she had striking green eye shadow on, very contrary to her usual reserved appearance, with a matching green shirt, with her hair cut in a Dorothy Hamil wedge, and dark red, both quite different from her actual appearance.

We were in her house. A dozen others were there, all women. I was the only male. The gathering had broken into smaller groups. People were talking about math or literature. A woman to my right was asking questions about sines and cosines. Someone noticed a painted ceramic plate hanging on the wall. The plate had four handles. I said, “Is that a volksmarching award?” Rising, I went over and confirmed, yes, it had the usual markings of a volksmarch on it, as Cilia confirmed that she used to volksmarch. I did, too, I told her.

Someone took the plate off the wall to look at it. One handle broke off. As I took the plate from that woman, along with the handle, I told Cilia, “Oh, no, your plate broke.” As I was speaking, a second handle broke off. While we reacted to that, the third handle dropped off. I said, “Cilia, the handles fell off your plate. We can probably glue them back on, but there’s only one left.” Then the fourth fell off in my hand, breaking into two pieces. As I gawked at that, I said, “Never mind. That one broke, too.”

Per the plan, we then left the house to go have something to eat. Then, like a play whose acts had changed, we were returning. Although I’d had a good time, I felt it was time to leave. Cilia though, presented me with two small glasses, declaring, “An aperitif for you, Michael.” It was pale green. I took the glasses, questioning, “Two?” As she replied, “Yes,” I asked, “Aren’t aperitifs served before the meal?” But I drank them, then prepared to take my leave. First, though, I’d apparently borrowed a light brown leather belt from her with a metal tip. I took that off to give to her. Then, also, I’d borrowed a matching light brown leather jacket from her which I’d been wearing.

That’s where the Cilia dreams ended.

SAFday

I decided that I needed a holiday.

My wife agreed. “It would be great if you went on a holiday and went away.” Falling silent, her expression gained a dreamy aspect. I waited for her to say more, then left to have some coffee. By that, I mean, I went into the kitchen. I rarely go to other coffee shops these days, unfortunately. Our kitchen coffee shop has been out of pastries for a while. Not even crumbs are in there. I looked.

I was serious about needing a holiday, but not about going away. I’ve been intermittently thinking about this holiday since December 22. Back then was the shortest day of the year in these parts. The sunset was like 4:39 PM. It hadn’t been much of a sun, not making a great effort to light the day or warm us. I guess it was put off by the rain and fog. I know that I was.

I enjoy sunshine. I’m a person that’s happy sitting in sunshine, so long as it’s not too hot, I have something to drink and a book (or laptop, I guess), and a little shade (and sunscreen) to protect me from the sun. I’m not a freak. To that end (that is, celebrating sunshine, not being a freak), I thought, I’m going to celebrate when the sun finally sets after 5 PM.

I’ve been diligently tracking the information. Every morning, I rise and say, “Alexa, what time is sunset?” And she answers, explaining information about Sunset, Florida, causing me to yell, “Stop, Alexa! No! Bad Alexa! Bad. No treats for you!” Then she starts whining, and I relent, giving her a treat, because I’m not really a mean person. Although I do wonder why I bother; she never eats the treats. The treats sit there until one of the cats notices it.

Today’s sunset is 16:59 (if you can believe Alexa — she does work for Amazon, and they have this issue with deliveries coming when promised…so, you know…). That means tomorrow’s sunset will be after 5 PM.

Oh, my excitement! There will be a sliver of light (weather permitting) after five PM. How will I celebrate the moment? (Well, probably not with pastries.) More importantly, what shall I call this day? I shall, after a moment of thought, call it SAFday: Sunset After Five day.

Yeah, it’s weak. But it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

(I wonder how long it would take Amazon to delivery a pastry?)

Jimmy Floofett

Jimmy Floofett (floofinition) – Floofmerican singer, songwriter, and musician. Originally from Misfloofsippi, Floofett became known for a blend of country and flock (floof rock) celebrating a laidback island sound. His legions of fans are referred to as Floofheads.

In use: “One of Jimmy Floofett’s best known songs is “Cheeseburger On Your Plate”, where he sings about stealing food from people’s plate, focusing on cheeseburgers with lines such as, ‘Cheeseburger on your plate, I haz to have it, I can’t wait, for your cheeseburger on your plate.'”

Next Year

Picked up some library books the other say. The library set up is working for this lockdown era: go online, put a book on hold on my account. They send an email when it’s ready. I have a window before it’ll be put back on the shelf, giving me time to plan when I’ll go down there to pick it up.

I go several times a month. There’s a table set up outside, under a canopy, Saturday through Thursday, noon to four. Tape is used as markers to indicate the traffic flow and safe distances. Patrons line up six feet apart. The librarian comes out. We’re all masked. You give your name; the librarian goes inside and return with your books. Your account number is verified verbally via the last three numbers. They give you your books and you go on your way.

As part of the process, a slip of paper with the book’s title and its return date is printed. On that little slip are also two little financial gems. One states how much money you’ve saved yourself by borrowing from the library. The other tells how much you’ve saved this year.

The first is $26 on my slip of paper today. That was for two books. Both are hardcovers. Neither were published this year. I suspect I could get them for less than twenty-six dollars used.

The second number is $660. That’s how much I saved this year, they said.

Well, I don’t know about that. I pay a little in taxes each year for this. It was a bond issue for the county library system, and it’s part of my annual property taxes. I don’t think they take those taxes into account when they tell me how much I’ve saved.

But I like the system. I’m a writer. I’d like people to buy and read my books. It’s great that the library system pays books to fulfill that for writers. I hope my books end up in the library some day. It’s also an excellentway to save on trees, innit? Buy a book and let multitudes read it.

All that led to ebooks. These books were available to be borrowed as ebooks. ebooks do even more to save trees, although we then get into the sticky situation of electronic waste.

I don’t do much ebooking; I like the personal heft of the thick books in hand as I carry them around and read in various postures. I know I’m silly and sentimental that way. I could use ebooks and save more trees. Yet, I resist.

I blame blue light for some of that resistance. I watch television (so cut down, you reply) while I’m running in place (oh, you answer, that’s a little different) or using the Stairmaster as part of my exercise. I’m not good at reading while walking (though I’m trying). I also spend a lot of time on the ‘puter reading news (so cut down, you suggest) (I probably should, I answer, as not much of the damn news is good for my spirit), writing, and editing. I don’t want to add the strain of reading ebooks to the strain I already thrust on my eyes.

Nothing is as clear cut as it first appears any longer, whether it’s environmental impact, saving money, or selling books. Our lives are choices, decisions, and compromises. I could, instead of running in place or exercising while watching television just curl up with a book. I could, instead of using a hefty volume, make it an ebook and reduce other strain on my eyes. Or I can go to audio books —

Yeah, don’t even go there. I am a fan of audio books; I’ve used them when driving long distances, and I’ve used them while exercising. I’ve found, though, I prefer the inner voice that I create when I’m reading something.

So, I’ve thought about these things. I recognize some of my habits are comfort ruts. Comfort ruts can be pretty useful in periods of stress, such as, say, a global pandemic. Then again, it may be that I’m just too lazy to change, modifying that ‘too lazy’ to ‘too old and set’.

This is just one facet of existence. These same sort of exercises go on with other things as we live, from medicines to using plastics to cars to public transportation to fossil fuels to recycling to GMOs to organic food to nutrition to healthcare to eating healthy to money to politics to welfare to taxes to social security to war to equality to fashion to music to film to being healthy to relaxing to having fun to —

Well, that point is hammered in. Life is a busy process of constantly re-balancing all these choices. I wonder what’ll it be like in another hundred years.

Strike that: let’s just see what it’s like next year.

Sunday Sprinkles

  1. Had an unsettling dream last night. Not a nightmare, but a dream that I didn’t understand. After writing about it, I decided not to share it.
  2. I watch the NFL. The refs fascinate me. Some of them seem like they’re so disappointed when they announce penalties. “False start, offense, number forty-three.” You can almost see him sigh. “Five year penalty,” is delivered with regret. “Remains first down.” I wonder what they’re like in their non-football lives.
  3. I said, “Don’t fear the android.” I was making a joke while re-watching Dark Matters on Netflix. My wife said, “Oh, that’d be a good book title.” It has me thinking.
  4. Several of my wife’s friends encountered her this past week. Always masked and distanced. They emailed her later. One said that she started crying in her car afterward because it’d been so long since she’d enjoyed a friendly, spontaneous conversation with someone outside their pod. Another said that she teared up after dropping off holiday goods on the porch (and picking some up from us, which were awaiting her on the porch). Human contact is so random and remote.
  5. My cancer-inflicted friend is out of the hospital and back home. Friends are calling him to wish him well. I want to do so but I’m terrible with small talk. Not good with the phone. Terrible with socializing in general. He stays in my thoughts but I should call. I’m probably overthinking it.
  6. Likewise, the cancer-affected friend across country is out of the hospital and at home, going through treatment there. We exchange messages but I sense his energy is low. He was always such an upbeat, energetic person. He’s my age, too, which amplifies the impact, right?
  7. It is interesting, maddening, and shocking to witness what friends are doing in other parts of the country. Social distancing and masking isn’t part of their routines. Some have even gone in for elective surgery. One is dating. We respond, WTF? And we worry about them, but they remain blissfully ignorant. Come on, vaccine.
  8. Meanwhile, two other relatives have been diagnosed with COVID-19. One was intubated on Friday. She’d gone in for elective surgery on a toe earlier in the month.
  9. My broken left arm continues its recovery process. It sort of becomes entangled and stiff at night as I bend it under my body. But reach, movement, flexibility, and strength are all improving. One frustrating thing: scratching. I still can’t bend my left hand to scratch my back and several other (ahem) places.
  10. My wife didn’t make us a soup last Sunday, the first time in weeks. Holiday baking occupied her — and the kitchen. I did my part; my role is decorating. I was disappointed with the gels and frosting. It blobbed and sputtered. They were okay, but not great. That’s about half of the batch. They’re PB Rice Krispies bars dipped in white chocolate or chocolate bark, more like a candy bar than a cookie. (That’s them in the photo.) She also made peppermint cookies and my favorite, cranberry cupcakes with drizzled frosting. Today’s soup in progress is a smoky lentil with garbanzo beans. Chilly day, in the forties, diluted sunshine. Looking forward to it with some hot buttered ciabatta bread.
  11. I thought writing was going well. Then I read a paragraph last night which had me wincing, groaning, and gagging. Press on, finish the draft, then come back, right? Yeah. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time. Oh, yeah, and the soup is ready.

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