Tony Stark, you sexy devil, let me push down on your head.

I forgot to mention, Dawn bought this for me when we were at Target.  HE LIGHTS UP!!!  Squeeeeee

Why yes, I do have it bad for RDJ, why do you ask?

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Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

It’s been a pretty good weekend in spite of going short on sleep on Friday.  But I wouldn’t do it otherwise since Taylor was able to come in for girls’ night again this week.

Unfortunately that meant that Jim’s early start on Saturday was a little difficult, but once we got going it was all good.  We ended up traveling along the lake shore and through some areas I’d never seen before, which is always fun.  Jim wanted to go “junking.”  Having grown up in the business, I relentlessly counter with “resale.”  Yes, there’s a difference.  Junk is… well it’s junk.  It should be free, it’s always filthy, and if you cut yourself you’d be well-advised to go get some shots.  Resale is a step up.  Things are in generally better condition at a resale shop, though some proprietors are cleaner than others.  My father’s store was about as clean as you could get as was the first one we went to in Hammond.  I don’t recall the name, I’ll have to ask Jim and he’s out and about this week so that won’t happen any time soon.  But it was a cool place with extremely reasonable prices.  Had we been in a larger car, I think we might have ended up bringing some furniture back with us.  Dawn scored a silver-plate pitcher for under $10, and a book of the transcripts of the three trials of Oscar Wilde for a buck!

I got a copper and rhinestone pin, two small silver-plate spoons, a set of four deep purple salad-size plates and a small, oval mirror with a beautiful frame all for under $20.  Prices should be good at resale shops because part of what you do is pick through piles of stuff you don’t want to find something you do want.  Resale shops are as much for treasure-hunters as for people who simply want a good deal on a TV or a comfy chair.

Our next stop was Whiting where we planned to hit several antique stores.  Yes, again, there is a difference.  Antique stores are going to be pricier than resale shops, sometimes a lot pricier.  They’ll also probably have at least a few very nice pieces with hefty price tags.  They should be quite clean because people who go to antique stores are not looking for bargains, they are looking for something special, that one piece that will make all the difference to a room in their home, and they don’t really want to get filthy as they look.

The first we got to had a chair in the window I think I’d have sold an internal organ for.  Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for my bank account, it was already sold, as was a superb chest right at the front of the store.  The rest of the place was nice, but the good items were somewhat overpriced in my opinion, and of the rest, I’d say about 10% was really interesting.

The next ones Jim wanted to go to were a long walk and my back wasn’t up to it, so we headed back towards another he liked, and unfortunately it was closed.  However we did stop at a little Croatian market where we bought bread and pork neck smoked on the premises,  a couple of spreads (Dawn: plum, me: chestnut) and a bottle of Bull’s Blood, a Hungarian red which I’ve always wanted to try.  The lady who owns the place was such fun; we stood around chatting with her about food and business and life in general.  I really want to go back there in the future.

We stopped at an Indian grocery before starting for home, and my Pappadum Queen side came out.  I ended up buying six different sorts plus a huge bag of turmeric which I take as a supplement, making it a micro-fraction of what I pay for the capsules.  And we got samosas for the road, which we all finished before we got through the big intersection near the mall.  Once we were back in the city we stopped at Target for my scripts and to look for the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack CD and the Iron Man Blu-ray.  Neither were available but I did find Blu-rays of Serenity, V for Vendetta and Star Trek: The Reboot.  Dawn and I watched Serenity last night and it was gorgeous!

We all had supper with Karen and Gene at Coletti’s  and ice cream up at the Chocolate Shoppe where we finally met the owner who was a lot of fun.  But then I sort of figured he would be given the ambiance of the place.  Unfortunately the day out plus lack of sleep turned me into a zombie by 11, and I ended up falling asleep in front of the computer.

I imagine you’re wondering why the telephone, right?  Well one of our stops was an AT&T store.  I’d hit the point where I could upgrade cheaply and Dawn’s contract was up with T-Mobile so we opted for a family plan which saves her about $10 a month.  That’s the phone I got.  She got a 6350 in red and we spent about an hour yesterday trying to download ringtones from the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack.  We did manage.  Now I can’t wait for people to call my cell.

And finally, I withdrew a Micah Darcy story from an anthology.  The editor wrote me and said that while it could fit with some work, I should consider the implications of having it tied to an anthology for two years.  It was something I’d never actually considered, and I am fantastically grateful to have been given such sound advice.  I said thanks and withdrew (I hope gracefully) and will now be making some changes before I submit it as a part of the series.

I find myself playing catch-up with the business side of writing.  When I was being paid for it, back in the 90s it didn’t seem like a huge issue.  You wrote, you submitted, you sold or didn’t sell.  That was about the extent of my experience.  Now there’s so much to consider.  I’ve joined several online communities and have so much information coming at me, I’m not processing more than a bit of it at a time.  It’s kind of exciting, but in the end, I’d rather just be doing the writing.

I need to sleep

It was girls’ night tonight, so I cooked for a change, and it was pretty tasty, I must say.  I made teriyaki turkey breast and a very springlike salad of lightly steamed asparagus (Steamed for 5 minutes in the microwave it keeps its color beautifully.) with fresh strawberries and a raspberry vinaigrette.  Dawn stopped and bought a loaf of the most delicious bread imaginable so I passed on making the new potatoes I’d planned, which was fine.  Dessert was German chocolate brownies.  Yes, they were as good as you imagine, and none of us managed to finish ours because they were that rich.

We talked a lot tonight, which is fun.  Actually we got pretty riotous about sex, and as a result felt compelled to watch Sherlock Holmes yet again in spite of the fact that the DVD should be arriving Monday or Tuesday.  Yes it was just as good the umpty-gazillionth time as the first.

So now I’m wanting sleep, but my hair is still wet and I don’t want to go to bed like that because I’ll wake up with unfortunate hair.  Also I find that if I eat protein before I go to bed my blood glucose doesn’t go sky high in the morning, so I have a couple of hard-boiled eggs and some homemade kimchee just for a little spice.  It’s too salty but that makes it perfect for hard-boiled eggs.  I’m going to get another jar of starter and try it again with less salt.  This one is swiss chard, scallions, radishes and carrots.  I’ll prolly add turnips to the next one and perhaps some cabbage.

Apropos of which, I went to see the doc (that’s apropos of my BG not the kimchee) yesterday and I think I frightened the poor thing.  She started talking different drugs and I nixed them all.  Then started talking about various tests including the colon cancer screening and I said “Just give me the home kit.  No one is going to put anything up there unless I get a ring first.”  The blood test was bad, 146 fasting.  But today it was way down from there, suggesting some kind of anomaly.  And the blood pressure and weight were both down so I’m probably doing about as well as I can be expected to do for a slug who likes to eat.

And I haven’t written anything in two days.  After I got home from the doctor I tried to get my iPod up and running and ran afoul of iTunes 9.  Do not ever let anyone tell you that Apple is the Most Perfect Company Ever because iTunes 9 is one of the worst programs I have ever used.  It took me nearly 36 hours to get my poor iPod squared away and my music collection cataloged properly, which included removing more than 6000 duplicate titles by hand.  Tomorrow we’re spending with Meester Jim, tomorrow night I have a date with Karen and Gene.  My life is one mad whirl.

Because it’s important to know the facts as opposed to the rhetoric

What the Health Care Reform bill accomplishes:

  • This year, children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. Once the new health insurance exchanges begin in the coming years, pre-existing condition discrimination will become a thing of the past for everyone.
  • This year, health care plans will allow young people to remain on their parents’ insurance policy up until their 26th birthday.
  • This year, insurance companies will be banned from dropping people from coverage when they get sick, and they will be banned from implementing lifetime caps on coverage. This year, restrictive annual limits on coverage will be banned for certain plans. Under health insurance reform, Americans will be ensured access to the care they need.
  • This year, adults who are uninsured because of pre-existing conditions will have access to affordable insurance through a temporary subsidized high-risk pool.
  • In the next fiscal year, the bill increases funding for community health centers, so they can treat nearly double the number of patients over the next five years.
  • This year, this bill creates a new, independent appeals process that ensures consumers in new private plans have access to an effective process to appeal decisions made by their insurer.
  • This year, discrimination based on salary will be outlawed. New group health plans will be prohibited from establishing any eligibility rules for health care coverage that discriminate in favor of higher-wage employees.
  • Starting January 1, 2011, insurers in the individual and small group market will be required to spend 80 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Insurers in the large group market will be required to spend 85 percent of their premium dollars on medical services. Any insurers who don’t meet those thresholds will be required to provide rebates to their policyholders.
  • Starting in 2011, this bill helps states require insurance companies to submit justification for requested premium increases. Any company with excessive or unjustified premium increases may not be able to participate in the new health insurance exchanges.
  • This year, small businesses that choose to offer coverage will begin to receive tax credits of up to 35 percent of premiums to help make employee coverage more affordable.
  • This year, new private plans will be required to provide free preventive care: no co-payments and no deductibles for preventive services. And beginning January 1, 2011, Medicare will do the same.
  • This year, this bill will provide help for early retirees by creating a temporary re-insurance program to help offset the costs of expensive premiums for employers and retirees age 55-64.
  • This year, this bill starts to close the Medicare Part D ‘donut hole’ by providing a $250 rebate to Medicare beneficiaries who hit the gap in prescription drug coverage. And beginning in 2011, the bill institutes a 50% discount on prescription drugs in the ‘donut hole.’

So that’s your answer. Pass it along.

OMG Cat is all "OMG"

“Right. Welcome to… the thing… whatever this place is. ” Bernard Black

In honor of International Black Books Day I’m going to be ridiculously crabby and probably have a few drinks.

First crank of the day:  Software developers… look, I know that naming your files things like “VPid49K.zip” is pretty much business as usual for you guys, and that’s fine, but will you PLEASE have the courtesy to put a file in the archive that at least tells us the name of the program?  You don’t even really have to tell us what it does, though that would be nice.  Just the name would be sufficient.  Why? you ask.  Well, I’ll tell you… SO I CAN FIGURE OUT WHAT THE FREAKING THING DOES BEFORE I DECIDE WHETHER TO ERASE IT OR NOT!  I’m cleaning out my downloads folder and I’m finding things that look like a bad Scrabble hand.  In desperation I’m scanning licenses to try to find out the tiniest bit of information.  Look, it’s to your benefit.  If a program is useful, I’ll want to get the most recent version, and maybe even pay you something for it.

Second crank of the day:  The right needs to suck up their own personal hell the way the left had to for eight long, miserable years, and stop being such little girls about everything.  Jesus, you’d think the government wants to kill your granny…

Crank the third:  If you’re not interested in my manuscript could you just say so?  I can’t tell if you’re passive-aggressive or just lazy.

Four, and counting:  Look… any day when we get no mail or only a couple of pieces, I know there’s something not happening at the post office.  I don’t care if you are a temp, bring the damn mail!

And finally:  Sinuses, you need to shape up or I’m having you cemented in.

Yes, I am putting off laundry, washing the floors, getting tax stuff together and actually doing some writing.  Why do you ask?

I feel restless today

Like I need to do something, but I don’t know what.  There’s a fic call that I’d all but decided to drop because it’s about 30k words by the end of April.  I know I can do it, but did I want to with so much else going on?  Last night I thought a lot about it, and decided to look over a piece I’d done for NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, and see if it wouldn’t serve.  I don’t know if anything will come of it, but at least I can give it a shot.  Or I suppose I could get my tax stuff together.  It’d be nice to have it done before, oh, April 14th.

Watched an odd Japanese film called “Gohatto” or “Taboo” last night, and I’m not quite sure what to think of it beyond having enjoyed the sight of some cute men with swords.  I know I spent a lot of time muttering “these people are crazy.”  Still, an interesting look at a sub-section of society in another era.

Charles is bringing someone by this afternoon to look at the roof.  I don’t know… I’m going to guess that any roofer will at least say that it needs replacing because they could use the work right now, so how on earth can you be sure you’re getting an honest estimation of the roof’s condition.  Charles always looks out for me, of course, but even he seems to think that it needs replacing.  I think I’ll just let him do the negotiating.

Oh for heaven’s sake, there’s a man on a roof across the street.  I wonder if that’s an omen.

Another gorgeous day here.  I understand we’re going to be in the mid to upper sixties for the next two days and then plummet into the 30s and have snow.  Welcome to Chicago.  As if DST wasn’t enough of a problem right now.  I hate time change.  I mean I don’t like DST at all, but I wouldn’t hate it quite so much if it was the standard, y’know?  It’s the change that’s hard on me.  I have trouble sleeping, I can’t properly tell the time because everything looks different.  Yes, I’m one of those people with a fantastic internal clock, and I know by the way the shadows look, or the level and color of light what time it should be.  (You cannot imagine how bad my jet lag is.  It took me nearly a month to get used to the change when I went to Europe, at least to the point where I wasn’t constantly just falling asleep at odd moments because I was so constantly exhausted.)  When we do a time change, I get all confused, and lose track of time.  It takes me a good month to adjust to the point where I’m not always looking at a clock and saying “WHAT?” or “Wait a minute, how did it get to be so late?” or, worst of all “Oh shit, I’m late!”

Twice a year I say this:  I don’t care what you call the time and I don’t care how you measure it.  Just pick one and stick with it.  Don’t be changing back and forth, or changing when it happens.  Just one time, please.  And if I ever have a chance to meet Benjamin Franklin, I will tell him that I admire him tremendously, but that I’d like to give him a boot up the backside for thinking up Daylight Savings Time.  Jerk.

I changed all my Windows sounds to Buffy-verse clips, so now when the mail arrives Buffy says “Get down with your bad self.” and when I power down, Giles says “The earth is definitely doomed.”  It takes so little to amuse me.

Must work.

Spring has sprung

When I was a little girl, I heard the following rhyme: Spring has sprung, the grass is riz. I wonder where the flowers is. I’ve never forgotten it, silly thing that it is, and I’ve probably said it to myself at least once a year since then. But yeah, this is about the time of year I start longing to see blooming things. I know it’s a bit early, but then humans always do tend to jump the gun. I start looking for signs of autumn in late August, and long for snow around Thanksgiving. It’s been beautiful here all week. I understand that by tomorrow we may have temps in the 70s (which even I think it a bit premature) and on Sunday, maybe some snow. Just to keep things lively.

One of my favorite bloggers, Ulla M. of Ullabenulla, has put together a collection of some of her favorite things on Tumblr. It’s called Fairytale Style and Inspiration If that’s your thing, hie you on over there and take a peek   I’ve already gleaned some serious inspiration from the photos she’s posted there.  Frex, check out the dress to the left, and try not to think of it as a dress so much as a window dressing.  Okay well I can see it even if you can’t.  I have miles of (dirty) white voile curtains that came with the house, and if I move all of them into the dining room, I can start gathering and draping, and add more opaque highlights.  It’ll nicely obscure the fact that my dining room looks pretty much into my neighbor’s dining room.

But there are also links there to the sources such as Where the Wild Roses Grow a UK designer who does the most fairy-like things you can imagine.  Check out her gallery of past designs as well as the things that are on sale right now.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a pair of lichen earrings?  I think I would kill for her Oak Twig earrings, but I don’t have the money for them right now.  See note about roof below.

On the writing front, I have five stories submitted to publishers, and am waiting for the edit on another.  Two more are in draft form and need their rewrites, and one is on hold pending me rethinking the whole thing.  (Well I have lots on hold but this is one I’m actually working on right now.)

Tomorrow Charles is coming by with some guys to look at the roof, and I’m thinking that if it’s as bad as he fears, and I can get someone to put a new roof on for around $15K, I’m going to just do it and be done.  It’s going to be a long time before I can earn that much, but rain and snow don’t really care; you can’t ask them to come back when you’re ready for them.  It might be best all the way ’round to just take care of things now rather than pay for years of patching and repair work.

Grocery day, which means that I’m sort of SOL for supper since the order could come any time between 4:30 and 10:00 tonight.  I’ve got some stewed mushrooms I could heat up, and some good bread.  Might work.  Or I could just skip supper and have a V8.  (Wow, I coulda had a V8 instead of a meal!  *slaps forehead*)  Dawn’s making CB & cabbage tomorrow, I guess, which is good, and so I’m going to make a vegetarian curry on Friday and hope that Taylor can come.

I think I have spring fever.  I just want to lie in my chair and doze.

Jimless weekend

Jim went off to be with other friends *sob* (JK, he needs to go play with some other people occasionally, much as we miss him.) so Dawn and I had a quiet, at-home day. She cleaned so much she burned out the motor on her vacuum cleaner. I actually broke down a ton of boxes and got them ready for the garbage as well as cleaning bath and kitchen, and putting stacks of books back on the shelves. I’m bad about leaving them all over.

I also managed to outline a selkie story for a fic call, and I’m liking it so far. I’ve written a few paragraphs, but it’s late now and I’m tired. I’m going to bed without even getting my oatmeal ready for the morning.

We watched an Eddie Izzard concert tonight, and a program about swords and swordsmanship, which gave me at least three new ideas for stories, but I didn’t write them down so I may be SOL. Then we watched Judesie on SNL, and while some of it was fun, there was at least one skit that was so bad it made me cringe. Leftover potroast from last night was on the bill of fare, along with peas and noodles. I also stewed up some mushrooms and those I have to put away tonight, so I’m off to do that and then do a faceplant into my pillows.

Please excuse me if I scream.

Sometimes it seems as if there’s so much left to do that I just have no clue where to start. I need to get my stuff together for taxes, get to the doctor for a checkup, edit and submit two stories for anthologies and possibly write two more all by the end of April. And I still have to clean my office and dining room because until I do I’m not moved in. It’s only been two years, what the hell?

Dawn and I have been rethinking our yard plans. Always assuming that I don’t need to put a new roof on this place, we’re going to redo the back yard, and move the patio. Originally we were just going to shift it to the other side of the yard and reconfigure it, but now we’re thinking of laying it out along the garage wall, leaving a strip of land near the house for our kitchen garden. That’s the strip that gets the most light, and it’ll facilitate watering for sure since it’s close enough that we can put a soaker hose along the raised bed the way we’re going to do with the border plantings. Then we add a timer and it’s auto water, baby!

The new configuration also makes it easier to get the barbeque stuff out and onto the patio, and fixes it so that we mostly won’t have the sun in our eyes at any point during the day. It also gives us access to the electrical, and we have a nice background behind us for mosaic and other artwork that we’re planning.

So I found this photo on the net today and I loved the stone floor! It’s just the sort of thing I’d like to do outside, so I’m hanging on to it as inspiration. We were going to make some of our own tiles out of concrete, but I think that’s unlikely to end well considering that we’d have to do it after we’d picked out the materials and created the layout, and neither of us know what we’re doing. I suggested that we make some decorative tiles for the mosaic wall, and maybe some concrete inserts for the area around the bird feeder and bath where we’ll be pouring the concrete ourselves later in the year.

Stone floor

Whatever else happens we have to get the grass out and rearrange things. Right now it looks like we should have a car up on blocks out there. Ugh.

I finally caved and bought a blu-ray player. Between the news that Sherlock Holmes might have extra features on the blu-ray release, and the fact that Lord of the Rings is being released in blu-ray finally (right now, just the theatrical versions, but they’ll get to the extended releases; they won’t miss that chance to make more money.) I couldn’t see any reason to hold out. So now I have one that streams Netflix, YouTube and something called CinemaNow. Since I already have a Netflix account, the streaming is unlimited, so as long as I can find things to watch, I’ll be a happy camper. I have to say I’m amazed at how good the quality is even on regular DVDs. It’s supposed to be a multi-standard player but it’s not really. It plays some PAL disks. Alas, not all, so before I can watch Shanghai Express I have to reinstall my region 1 player. I thought I was finished with all that. *grump*

Okay, now it’s time for sleep. Or maybe a bit of reading.

“Snow” just went on sale

My new Sip, "Snow, The Micah Darcy Chronicles 2" just went on sale over at Torquere Books.

Micah Darcy is such a successful soul hunter for Hell that he is approached by a Chaos angel with a very special assignment. He must find the soul who was Jack the Ripper, and return him to Chaos. Micah accepts the challenge, but when he comes up empty-handed over and over, he becomes determined to do whatever it takes to succeed, even risk his own sanity.