Tag Archives: seasons

in which the nearly-finished bedroom is gorgeous and we do some final swimming

Long time readers will recall that our “house” is really more of a compound of small buildings, clustered around the yurt.  It’s bizarre, really, a strange way to build a house, but what are you going to do.  We’ve bootstrapped this thing and our mortgage is tiny, so there is that.  Unfortunately, this method of building is also long and drawn out and our primary builder has had to slow down over the years due to such setbacks as gradschool, old-freaking-age, and just being sick to death of building preferring to “sit in my leather club chair and watch tv for godsakes.” (He’s not that old, I jest.)(He is old-er, though. Forties is definitely not early thirties.)

Nevertheless, Supercoolhusband had a break from grad school a few weeks ago and got some work in on the bedroom.  Yay!  And I’ve got to say, it is looking so good!  It’s very close, now completely closed in, waiting only on the closet, the heater getting finished up, and a tiny bit of trim.  But look at that beautiful picture up there!  The front door is in!

And it’s a seriously amazing door, five feet across, stained glass, pretty damn cool.  He got it for nothing—he can’t remember, guesses $20 bucks—used, of course, and so cheap on account of a couple of cracks we can fix with freaking duct tape if necessary, because dude!  Door!  Someone threw it out rather than fix it!  He’s a master of the salvaged treasure, if you ask me.

He’s also a master of beautiful trim work.  Look what he did around the casement windows (also used, for cheap):
bedroom 2I suggested bead board for that section below the window, he went with a similar effect with cedar wood.  So pretty.

And look at this beautiful piece he did over the door.  Another used leaded glass window (with cute diamonds!) that was given to us when a friend was cleaning out his basement:

bedroom 3Here’s what it’s like when the door is closed:bedroom 4It’s still a construction site, as you can see in this corner where the rocket mass heater isn’t quite done.

bedroom heater areaBut it won’t be long now.  Something on the floor, rugs, sisal mats, something like that.  I’d love wood, but we can’t afford it right now.  Maybe later (which probably means never, haha, once the bed gets moved in, it’s all over).  It’s been a long time coming (first post where I mentioned it in 2012 in post on rocket heaters, but he had already been working on it for a year or two by then).  I’m kind of nervous about moving in.  What if I can’t sleep in it?  I’ve gotten used to the yurt!

Just kidding.

But look, here’s a couple of shots of one of sthe last swim of the season (probably, unless there’s a heat wave) just because they are awesome and because I am total denial that summer is actually over.  Where the heck did August go?? I mean, what the heck?!

luc jumping sophie jumpingThey’re such a couple of goof balls.

sophie says byeBye!


deep in the heart of summer

We’re cooking now, boy.  Daily swimming, lying around in the air conditioning reading fat books while waiting for it to get cool enough to move, tomato sandwiches, being night owls because the heat isn’t so bad in the dark.  Eating peaches over the sink.  Cicadas.

In contrast to the pleasures of summer, though, I struggle with stomach-dropping fear about climate change.  You know that feeling?  About which I generally feel quite helpless?  I try to give myself breaks, think about other things.  But all this hot weather (we had the hottest June ever on record and July has been crazy, too, 98 degrees, 98% humidity most days) keeps it in my mind, in the back somewhere, simmering away.  It wrecks my full summery-enjoyment.  Which sucks.

[Whoa, hang on, isn’t this a light, up-beat blog???  Yeah, I thought so, too!]

Here, have a Yotsuba, just about my favorite manga series, ever.  I just read this one to the kids, who are not too old to enjoy, thank goodness.  LAUGH OUT LOUD for reelz.  yotsuba 11

Ahhh. Yotsuba calls it Glow Ball warming, which is adorable.

In other news, we’re still running (can you believe it? Nor can I), 2-3 miles, 3x a week.  Sophie and Paul chat as they lope along while I pant and moan behind them, flailing weakly in their direction, “…go on…save yourselves….”  Sometimes Luc comes, too, although he is, shall we say, less committed.  “I want running to be my hobby, not my religion.”  He really said that!  He’s NINE.  Freaking smart-ass, hilarious kid….

Unfortunately, every time we see something cool (a double rainbow! Llamas! A cool black and yellow snake!) I don’t have my camera, while, if I lug it along, it’s guaranteed there will be nada but asphalt and sweat.  So, no photo for you.

Ooo, but this is fun: I start drafting on the new novel in ONE WEEK.  I’m halfway through my scene cards.  We’ll see how well they work this time.  Last book’s scene cards were pretty much a failure.  First feelings can be deceptive.

scene cards for precog book

See how the top 8 are super cramped with itty-bitty writing going up the sides? And how the bottom 8 float in a sea of white space?  Yeah, I’m still working on the bottom 8.  Trying for a shorter book this time, 16 scenes instead of the 30 (I think it was?) in the last one. Two pov characters instead of three.  A more streamlined plot.  We’ll see how that all works out.

Planning is fun!  Planning is when I haven’t fucked anything up yet!

Drafting set to begin August 1.  One more week to finish up the scene planning, where the chant is: protag with a need, in conflict with an antag with a need, in a setting, leading to a unique TURN that upends expectations.  One turn per scene, every scene must have a conflict and an antag, no exceptions, plus note down any funny beats or Points of Interest along the way.  Inciting incident, set-up, three trial-cycles, mid-point, final ramp up after failure of third, big confrontation tying up both inner and outer arcs, conclusion, denouement, yada yada yada.  Gotta love CRAFT.  I mean, I fucking got this, right?

I’m always so full of hubris before the novel breaks me into little pieces.

Happy mid-summer everyone!  (Try not to think about glow ball warming too much…).

pollen, henna, sushi, and the new book

It’s raining on the yurt roof (loud!) and thank goodness because we have been drowning in pollen.  Seriously, look at this:

pollen car 1

That’s from ONE NIGHT.  Take a closer look:

pollen car 2

That thick layer of yellow has been on everything.  I come in from walking Henry and the cuffs of my yoga pants are covered in it.  Hubby came in from working outside and when I patted him on the back, poofs of pollen came off him.  Driving down the road, you look into a yellow haze, seriously!  We leave footprints in it, it is so deep.

pollen footprint

But now this rain will wash it away, or at least some of it.  Our breathing systems can go back to the normally high levels of pollen of  NC spring and not this crazy onslaught.  Spring is on fast forward this year.

You know what, I was just flipping through my camera to get those pollen pics and look, Sophie’s gorgeous hair after our semi-annual Henna Party.  My cousin and I, and sometimes my sister, and now my daughter, we all have this crazy red hair now.  It’s a Thing.

sophie henna

So pretty! She likes to torment me by talking about cutting it all off.  Sob.

Ooo, and look at this, an amazing sushi feast we had a couple of weeks ago:

sushi feast

DELICIOUS. I had to take a picture.

Isn’t going through the camera fun?  I don’t miss the days of film.

And in my final news of the day, the new book has a title!  Ghost Fugue.  It is out with the second round of beta readers at the moment.  The cover is in the works, and I have booked my copyeditor to do the final typo, cleaning and formatting, hopefully in May.  Aiming for a June release.  I’ll do a fancy shmancy cover reveal as soon as it is done. I’m super excited about this book!

sweat-free christmas and world’s best shortbread cookies

The question on everyone-I-run-into’s lips for the last week has been, “are you ready?” By which they mean,”Are you ready for Christmas?”  It has started sounding like “are you ready? Get set…GO!”  I’ve started feeling paranoid because folk seem so freaking busy and stressed out and I…don’t.  It’s like they’re whittling their Christmas out of hand hewn logs, grown from Christmas seeds passed down through the generations, and I’m hanging out, eating a carrot (visions of Bugs Bunny, don’t ask me why, I don’t know) and watching all the industry with a puzzled expression. Why don’t I have a to-do list longer than a garden hose?  Am I forgetting something?  Am I shirking my Chirstmas duty?

Cooking, wrapping, mailing, baking, decorating, attending parties, hosting parties…these are the basics of Christmas as celebrated by early 21st century middle class Americans, right?  I keep checking them off on my fingers to make sure we’re doing all the Christmas Stuff.  We seem to be (haven’t hosted a party, but everything else, yep, yep…yep) and yet…I just don’t seem to be stressing out.  I’m clearing doing something wrong.

But wait, no, I’ve decided maybe it’s a question of scale.  For example, yes, we have a tree, we decorated the house, but, you know, when you live in a yurt, it only takes about twenty minutes to put sparkly lights on everything, and our tree is only four feet tall because anything wider would take over all the available floor space.  Maybe we’re doing all the things just…in a smaller dose.

THEREFORE.  My present hypothesis is this: the answer to a sweat-free holiday is to cut your portion of Christmas down to bite size.  Then you’ll be fine.  See?  Problem solved.  People are just trying to have TOO MUCH CHRISTMAS.

Christmas is strong stuff.  Sometimes, a little dab will do.

After having this discussion with the kids, however, we realized that we were, in fact, shirking: because we were experiencing a sudden and profound shortage of Christmas cookies! Emergency action must be taken to remedy the situation immediately!

I’ve been craving shortbread—those incredibly buttery cookies that aren’t all that sweet but melt in your mouth, you know the ones, fabulous with a cup of strong black tea?  One cookie has, like, 700 calories?  Yeah.  Those.  Where do these cravings come from anyway?

Ah, who cares.  We made some.  Turns out they are super easy.

shortbread 1

Cream 1/2 cup salted butter (that’s a stick) in the food processor with 1/4-1/2 cup confectioners sugar (depending on how sweet you like them.  Add 3/4 cup white flower and 1/4 cup corn starch and pulse a few times until you get a ball of buttery yellow dough.  That’s right, there are just 4 ingredients.  Seriously, you can’t mess these up.  Maybe if you burn them.  Don’t do that.

Roll it out to 1/4 inch thick, cut with a cutter in the shape or shapes of your choosing.  Bake for about 15 min at 300.  If you want them to be a bit golden, you might need to brush them with some egg or something, because mine turned out quite pale, but that was fine with me.


shortbread 2And listen, there is nothing good for you in these, okay?  Except love.

Luc: “These are made of God.”

Sophie: “No, they’re made of butter.”

Luc: “Then God is made of butter.”

Sophie, holding up a stick of butter and making Gregorian Chants sounds, “Let there be butter!”


Or as Jake says in “Dungeon Train,”  ““Fiiiinn, I made those biscuits with so much butter. You were just responding to the butter! This whole place is butter!”

Note: this recipe is a very small batch, maybe dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cutter.  You can easily double or triple the recipe, but seriously, you won’t want to eat more that one or two of these things.  They are super rich.

SuperCoolHusband rolled colored sprinkles into the little fork holes I made, haha.  We ate them while watching Guardians of the Galaxy (which I ADORE).

Baked Christmas cookies: CHECK.

So there you have it.  My Christmas wish for you: don’t sweat it and eat plenty of butter!  Merry Christmas!!

thanksgiving, updates, yoga practice (not)

So, we survived Thanksgiving.  Thank god that’s over.  A day devoted to gratitude is a fabulous idea, and I’m all for it, but really, it’s pretty hard to avoid the feeling that its a day set aside, not for giving thanks, but for gluttony.  And now the whole Black Friday thing has become even bigger than Thanksgiving itself, and what is Black Friday but just more gluttony.  It all grosses me out, really.

An acquaintance of mine cuts hair at a salon in a nearby mall and she told me they had decided to open the mall at 6pm on Thanksgiving itself this year (not wait until Friday morning as is typical).  She showed me a vid she made of the Unlocking of the Doors at 6pm and the flood of people rushing in to shop.  The people poured in, it went on and on, and everyone was in such a hurry, this mad dash to BUY.  I thought, it’s the same old mall that was there the day before, what’s the rush?  But these sales do a good job of creating a perceived scarcity/need that gets that brain-chemical-combo going, the one that makes it all seem so urgent and necessary.  It has the same gross feeling of watching people do ten minute shopping sprees where they just start grabbing shit and stuffing their cart, or when money gets dumped out of a window (only happens in movies) and people start shoving and scrambling for dollar bills.  Where’s the dignity people?  Where’s the generosity?

For Thanksgiving itself, we went to see my frail and nearly-gone Grandma, which was sweet and sad.  Too much driving, a nice meal with people I love, some crying.  I kind of hate it, it’s awful even though it is also good.  What can I say, life is confusing.  Then we had a second stay-at-home Thanksgiving the next day, with a big bowl of stuffing and all of us on the couch watching Winter Soldier and talking Marvel-Mythology theories.  Nothing like a nice geek-out over a bowl of carbs for family bonding.

I DID buy a present for SuperCoolHubby on sale on amazon on Black Friday.  So there, I guess I did my Duty as an American.  I hope he likes it.

Meanwhile, I have rewritten (again) the ending of my current novel and it is out (again) to my beta readers.  Who are awesome.  AWESOME.

Not much yoga this week, no fist bump for me.  I forgot about the whole holiday thing when I said I would practice lots.  One full primary and a primary-to-navasana and that was it.  LAME.  I’ll do better this week or DIE TRYING.

How was your yoga week?  I’d love to hear.


summer, and swimming, have returned

Okay, I know it isn’t really here until June for most peeps, but:

1) the kids finished their year-end fill-in-the-stupid-bubble test and that’s the end of the “school year” for these homeschooled maniacs.

2) we went for our first swim of the season, woot!

And 3) it’s 90 freaking degrees today.

If that all doesn’t add up to summer, I don’t know what does.

Into the pond!  First Luc….

first swim 2014 1

Then, Sophie:

first swim 2014 2

I love my pond.  Although a friend recently terrified me with stories of the “brain eating amoeba“.  Jesus, like I didn’t have enough to worry about. Thanks a lot, friend-you-know-who-you-are.  Thanks a fucking lot.

Back into the Denial Tower(tm) I go!  I love my pond!

first swim 2014 3

In case you can’t see it, Sophie is giving you a peace sign.

first swim 2014 4

And that’s Luc, floating on his back behind her.  Oh man, there is no way to deal with 90+ degree North Carolina Summer day better than a brain eating amoeba breeding pit spring fed pond.  Farmer’s Almanac says this summer, after that super cold winter, is going to be a killer.  Yikes.  I need to get the air-conditioner set up, stat.

snow storm 2014

You might think that post-title is odd, but seriously, we only get snow every few years here, and an actual storm comes once a decade or something.  Plus, I’ve lived hear twenty-five years and it has never been this cold.  I asked my great aunt if she ever remembered a winter like this and she said, “Yep! In 1976.” So, there you go.  I’ll be a great aunt one day and my nephew’s kids will ask me about some crazy ass weather we’ll be having and I’ll say, “yep, we had some snow like this once, Back in 2014.”

It all started last Wednesday when the kids were out at a park, playing with aforementioned great aunt, when the first flakes started coming down.  I gave her a call, all low-key, “Hey, I should probably come get the kids now.”  “Okay, sure, see you in a bit…” The picture of nonchalance.  Because hey, when it snows here it almost never sticks and when it does, takes at least an overnight to amount to anything.  Plenty of time, no sweat.  I did up a mug of hot tea, found my wallet, and headed for the car.

By the time I was on the road, it was already slippery.  Fifteen minutes later the roads were covered.  Meeting up we were all, “Shit, shit, we made a mistake!”  The normally fifteen minute ride home took me an HOUR, my hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel. We passed NINE cars in ditches in that ten mile drive, people out standing by their hopelessly stuck cars, waiting on help.  Terrifying to this Southern Girl, let me tell you.  I had to bold that mofo sentence just to convey the horror.  I mean, only a half hour earlier it had been black asphalt!  What the hell, Weather?

But we made it.  I was SHAKING by the time we pulled into our driveway.  Seriously, I turned off the car and my hands were flapping so hard I couldn’t get the key out of the ignition.  Look, 1) no one in North Carolina—at least not the natives—knows how to drive in this stuff, 2) there’s like, one plow for the entire county, and 3) no one has snow tires of any kind.  I don’t even know what snow tires are.  They’re bigger or something, right?  See, we’re hopless.  And then comes some obnoxious Yankee transplant, driving along in his four wheel drive, actually passing me as I inched along the roads with my kids in the back seat and my slow deep breathing to keep myself from a full-blown panic attack….I’ve never been so glad to park my car in my LIFE.

Of course, once we were home, it was soooo pretty, just a big adventure, whoopee!

snow storm 1

snow storm 2

Our big creek looked gorgeous!  And note the plastic bags on the sneakers, because we have no snow gear.

snow storm 4

More and more came down, giant flakes.snow storm 9

snow storm 6

snow storm 7

snow storm 5

By the end of the day, the kids were breaking weapons off the yurt….
snow storm 3

The next day it looked like this:

snow storm 10

You know what came next.  Snow ball fights.

snow storm 12


snow storm 16

snow storm 17

snow storm 13Leading to an arms race…
snow storm 18An army of creepers was raised…snow storm 20Plus some snow usagi folk…snow storm 8

Good times!  Plus, we were super lucky that our power didn’t go out.  Being snowed in is lots more fun with hot water and wifi.

But check this:   today, only five days later, it’s 65 degrees out!  The kids are out playing in the remaining snow in short sleeves!  Freaking daffodils are coming up.  I’m so confused.

It’s weird, I tell you.  Weird.

Of course, I was talking to my good friend in upstate New York yesterday and she said, “Oh, yeah, it’s been crazy. We got 23 inches of snow just yesterday.” TWENTY-THREE INCHES.

Forget that.  Snow is pretty, but I prefer it to be an amusing couple-of-days house guest, one that knows when it’s time to leave.  Snow should not be a way of life, thank you very much.

Is this the back side of global warming?

happy halloween!

Every year our country neighbors go ALL OUT in the Halloween decorations department and come up with yet another crazy taleau of scary goodness for all to see. This year was no exception!  If this is your first time seeing this stuff, use the Halloween tag to go back to previous years, you will not be disappointed.

This year we have a lovely trip to university, Ivy League no less…

It’s hard to see but this guy has a never-ending stream of drool (water) flowing down his mouth, super gross, and the cat on the side there is wearing a graduation cap while it consumes the rat.

I know the feeling, guys.

Dorm living!  And below is his roommate….

The Chem class was REALLY REALLY gross up close.

The whole house gets the treatment….

Yeah, I don’t want his job.

This gal’s name tag says “Recruitment”

Hard to see in the photo, but he bowls are full of ears and hands and and hearts.  UGH.


I love the LOL on this guy.  Such a friendly fellow!

This last fellow was about 10 feet tall!

Happy Halloween!