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.

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?)

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.

A Brief Dream Trio

Three short dream fragments stayed in the mental coil this morning.

Recollection of the first is short: my wife found something on the floor. Holding it up, she realized it was a cat’s tooth. We went to check the cats. Dream end.

A little longer one is up next. I was at a large outside gathering. We were seated at picnic tables. Weirdly, we were baking pizzas on the picnic tables. I called for one, put it behind me, and baked it for a while. When it was ready, I got some for myself and passed some to others. Then I began baking another, and forgot about it. When I remembered it, I turned to get it. It was dark but still edible. A man said, “You have a pizza baking there behind you?” I nodded. He said, “Why didn’t you say something? Some of us may have wanted some.” I protested, “I did,” but he turned away.

A former commander was then on as guest speaker. While he was talking, I walked around, quietly cleaning up. After a period, I needed a restroom. I went to the first one I found. Thinking it was available, I unzipped and pulled out my pecker. But, there was someone in there and the bathroom had no walls. A little kid saw me and told his parents, “I saw his penis dangling.” I went on to another restroom.

In the third short dream, I was coaching a team. I don’t know what sport. Our record was 16-8. A woman asked about it. I said, “We have eight losses and sixteen wins.” An older man (who reminded me of Malcolm McDowell) said, “Don’t say that. Always say the wins first. Always accent the positive by putting it first. You have sixteen wins and eight losses.

Dream end.

Such Screwy Dreams

My dreams left me laughing and shaking my head. One involved food and family; the second was about military and ID (again) (but with changes).

In the first, my stepfather was there. ‘He and I didn’t get along’ is a loaded understatement. He was a large part of the unhappiest part of my life.

I knew that history in my dream, and even wondered, what’s he doing here. But I tried making nice, and he was being nice. My wife was there (she’d never met him), along with a couple of my sisters, and my mother.

First, weirdly, we — my wife and I — set up a television connection with the net to watch porn. Really. The plan wasn’t mine in the dream, and left me scratching my head, but I did as told. Then, lo, my stepfather and family sat down and turned on that porn. They were all laughing, asking, what’s that?

It was a flat screen TV. Distracting them, I spun it around so they couldn’t see the screw. Then I ran to the bedroom. Lifting the bedskirt, I located switches to change what they could see on the television. Then I dashed back, and turned the television back to them.

As they watched television, my wife and I prepared food for ourselves in the other room. I was having a Philly cheese steak sandwich; she was having a veggie version.

We went outside to eat. The food was on a plate. The house was on a busy corner. Some people passing asked if they could have a sandwich, offering to pay for it. My wife said, “Yes,” while I was like, “What? Don’t we need permits?” She was certain that we didn’t. Well, my wife and I started making and selling the sandwiches. Sales were great. We were happy, and sold them until we ran out of supplies.

The dream ended as my wife laughed, counted cash, and joked about doing it again.

The next dream took on a military spin. We wife and I were in temporary quarters, leaving a base. I think we may have been leaving the military. Well, we’re in bed when the door bangs open. Two guys walk in. I leap out of bed and rush across the room to confront them. I’m not big; they’re a good six inches taller and thirty pounds heavier. But this is the military and I’m a senior NCO, and that’s the power I’m using. I brace them, telling them that this is my room and they have no business being there. They’re disagreeing, saying the rules changed. I haven’t heard about changes, so I don’t give a shit, you know?

But I tell my wife what they told me, that there’s been unspecified changes that shifts our roles. Then I go out to learn more. After a few minutes, I return and tell her, I’ve confirmed what I was told, that it’s changed. Sitting down, we discuss the changes and agree that they were overdue, but that they don’t really matter, because we were done, suggesting we were giving up our military ID cards.

Then we leave with our baggage, and the dream ends.

In both dreams, I notice that it’s about changes. In the first, my relationship with my stepfather changed. Then my wife and I were making food for ourselves, but changed and started making and selling food. In the military dream, of course, there were changes that seem to reference the structure and our roles.

Then again, my dreams are often about change these days.

In the Soup

The weather had pivoted. Clear skies scooted out of the way for rain clouds. Gone was the warm sun; a cooler, replacement sun arrived with November’s start. I don’t know who ordered it, but it was here and in place. (I actually thought it defective; it wasn’t very bright or warm.)

“I’m going to make a soup every Sunday,” my wife declared. “It’ll be Souper Sunday.”

She had me on her souper train. She makes excellent soups. First up was the roasted veggie offering. It’s one of my favorites. That doesn’t actually mean much; they’re all my favorites. Next up was another fave, the smoky chickpea offering.

For last weekend, she announced she’d be making her delicious black bean veggie chili. Then she called an audible on Saturday and made her spinach-mushroom-tortellini soup and served it up with a multi-grain ciabatta bread.

Sunday came and another audible: she was making her tortilla soup. Well…okay. It is one of my favorites. She’s a vegetarian, one of the differences between us. I’d grilled some chicken earlier in the week. Some was leftover. She divided the soup (giving me a much larger portion) and put the leftover chicken in for me. That was our Sunday dinner.

Guess what I had yesterday for lunch? And today? And I have enough left for lunch tomorrow, as well.

She hasn’t mentioned what soup she’ll make next. I’m hoping she’ll do either the black bean veggie chili or her other tortellini soup, or her broccoli cheddar. All I know is that’ll be a souper Sunday.

And probably a souper Monday, too.

A Long Dream

A long dream, but not much happening.

I dream of food often, as often as cars, perhaps. Food was heavily featured in this one.

I was outside on grass but under an enormous pavilion. A celebration was planned. I showed up early to help with setup. It unfolded with lazy grace. First, a group of us put out tables and chairs. People arrived with food. Some are friends, but many are strangers. I tell them where to put their food. It’s a wonderful, relaxed scene.

At last, everyone is there and we’re starting. People wander around tables of food, checking the offerings and asking where they can find specifiic food. There’s a barbecue grill setup. Others are trying to light it but can’t. I show them how to do it. A little later, another friend is trying to light the grill. He’s doing it wrong. I’m about to explain how to light it when he figures it out and lights it. I find a plate of food and a place to sit.

Strange to have such a long, relaxed dream, like a day out of life, where we’re all just having a good time, being together. Perhaps it’s a manifestation by my subconscious of being out and socializing during this pandemic era. Or, maybe my mind is having a small celebration in honor of Joe Biden’s victory, and the changes that means.

Identity Dream

Surprisingly, this dream wasn’t about the military. It’s a surprise because it has the feel of one to me. I was a military brat, who then joined and served twenty years. I moved on to civilian careers after retiring from the military and did okay, but my heyday was in the military.

I was in an office. A report needed to be sent. For some reason, this was an urgent concern for which we in the office weren’t ready. Send a report? What? How? Oh, the computers were out…hmmm, that sure reflected my Sunday computer frustrations.

Improvising in the dream, I procured an old electric typewriter, sat down, and typed up a draft report. While I was typing, I needed to piss. I did it under my desk, shocking my young employee. I did this three times. His shock turned to disgust by the third time. I was also shocked by the third time that I peed under the desk, vowing not to do it again.

Then I submitted the report to my boss. He surprised me by saying, “That’s not necessary.”

“We’re not submitting it?”

“No, we were told we don’t need to.”

“Who told us that?”

“A higher power. They’re submitting it.”

“Okay, if that’s what they want.” That was a task that I didn’t need to do, so I was satisfied. After informing my staff, we called it a day. I changed clothes (right there in the office) and rushed out to meet a friend, Ted.

He was there, waiting for me. “About time,” he told me. I apologized for being late, but he laughed it off. “I’m just bustin’ your ass. I ordered food for you.” He pointed over a railing. Below was a dining room. One table was set. A large sandwich with french fries was on it.

“That’s for me?” I asked. “That’s too much, but thanks.”

“No worries. But first we need to get inside.”

Get inside? Yeah, apparently there was a process. Ted knew it. “You need to show your ID,” he told me.

I said, “Yeah, I got it. It’s just…it was in my pants, and my pants were caught in a flood. I changed pants but everything in my wallet is soaked.” Pulling out my identification, I showed Ted a limp, soaked piece of rectangular paper.

He laughed at that. I took it to the woman manning the entrance. I was embarrassed but she laughed. “No, it’s alright. I heard your story. I feel your pain. You need to get a new identification.”

Card, I wanted to correct her, but other customers were arriving. Ted hustled us through, thanking the woman as he did. We went down to the table. There was more food and drink than I’d seen before, including a large, cold beer.

Although grateful, I gaped at the food and worried. “I don’t have that much money, Ted.”

Ted waved that off. “Don’t worry about it. It’s taken care of.”

The dream ended as I sat down to eat.

Thursday’s Theme Music

My goodness, Thursday is already upon us.

Many songs have the potential to be the theme song for the COVID-19 season for folks locked up in their house together. We can get under one another’s skin, you know?

This 1983 Genesis offering came when I was contemplating should I eat one more cookie. We don’t usually have cookies in the house because we eat them. For cookies to successfully stay available for a while, they must be cookies we don’t like, or frozen and tucked out of view. As I’ll eat just about anything, it’s tough finding cookies that we don’t like.

But that whole should-I-eat-one-more thing brought about lyrics from “That’s All”, “Taking it all instead of taking one bite.” Phil Collins, the vocalist, delivers it with outrage.

It was an amusing exercise. For the record, one cookie was left. It was due to be my wife’s, but she came in and said, “You can have that last cookie.”

She’s such a nice person.

Also, for the record, this song always seems like it could be by the early Bee Gees or a Gilbert O’Sullivan song.

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