“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
Robert Benchley

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

Cover art incorporates public domain (CC0) stock photo from Pixabay
this fictionette is on time (for once) and unspecifically apocalyptic
Fri 2016-08-05 23:32:02 (single post)
  • 1,113 wds. long

Today is Friday, August 5th, 2016. The Friday Fictionette for August 5 is up on time, y'all. Please do not drop unconscious in shock or, from sheer surprise, behave in any untoward manner. The apocalypse is not upon us. Do not panic. Please leave the panicking and prediction of events of an apocalyptic nature to the characters in "Something Wicked." They are professionals and they know what they are doing.

With this blog post, I have indeed reached the 5-hour mark, which is great, but most of my writing hours were taken up with getting today's Fictionette ready to go. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out how to get Audacity and Equalizer APO to do what I wanted them to do (pre-amplifying and noise reduction), then trying to get GIMP to do what I wanted it to do (set text along a circular path in the correct orientation and position, dammit), then trying to get Sigil to do what I wanted it to do with Scrivener's epub output (make the fonts look marginally less amateur, pretty please?). Some of those were one-time things, and some were just-this-time things. As for the rest--well, if I get better about sticking to my plan of putting in a half hour on that week's Fictionette every day, I won't have so very much left to do Friday, will I? This "perfect day" thing really is its own reward. Or it will be. I am DETERMINED that it will be.

("DETERMINED" is the word for the week. All in caps, just like that.)

So unfortunately I didn't have time to do a couple other things I wanted to do today: finish typing up and illustrating and mailing the Fictionette Artifacts, for one, and, for my next trick, submit a recently returned short story to a new-to-it paying market. Yes! It's like I have other writing things to do besides Friday Fictionettes! I know, it's kind of hard to tell from what pops up in my blog. I tend to get preoccupied with whatever I'm TWO TO FOUR WEEKS LATE with.

Would you believe I have yet more overdue things to catch up on? Why yes. They just aren't writing things. (Well, one of them is, but it's not a writing fiction thing.) So I try not to babble about them too much here. Unless they're interesting, of course. But things like doctor appointments and meeting minutes aren't all that interesting.

On that note, I am off to spend the last hour of my night on other uninteresting yet terribly vital activities. See you Monday. (Or tomorrow, I suppose, when I post the weekly Puzzle Pirates blockade report. Whether that is interesting is up to you.)

fresh, delicious, destined in part to be my lunch
i should not be complaining about these problems, lots of people might wish to have such problems
Tue 2016-08-02 23:59:59 (single post)

It's Tuesday. Tuesday is CSA day. CSA day used to be Monday, but then Monday became a chiro day and that was just too many errands in one day without guaranteed use of the car. So now it is Tuesday.

Accompanying this post is a picture of the fresh, delicious things that came home with me from The Diaz Farm. The vegetables (rainbow chard, Italian kale, carrots, kohlrabi, a cucumber and a couple of green tomatoes for frying; there was also garlic but I have enough right now) correspond to a small-size share. The bread is an add-on I signed up for, and is delicious. The free-range mixed-flock eggs I buy on an as-needed basis for $5.50. You can also buy duck eggs for a little bit more (the rear six eggs in the picture are duck eggs). They are huge and delicious but a little harder to crack into and I am not always in the mood.

Here is how Tuesday is supposed to go:

  • 9:00-9:30 AM: Writing (morning pages)
  • 9:30-10:00 AM: Breakfast, brush teeth, water plants
  • 10:00 AM-12:00 PM: Writing (freewriting, fictionette, submission proceedures)
  • 12:00-2:00 PM: Bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself some lunch, eat, goof off
  • 2:00-4:00 PM: Writing (current story or novel project)
  • 4:00-5:30 PM: Email and other communications. Dinner. Also pack gear and get dressed for derby
  • 5:30-10:00 PM: All Stars practice (6:30-9:30) and associated travel time
  • 10:00-11:30 PM: Foam roller and at-home traction session
  • 11:30 PM-12:00 AM: Writing (blog post)
  • 12:00-1:00 AM: Goof off a bit, read, whatever. Also get ready for bed.
  • 1:00 AM: Go to sleep.

Hm. Written out like that, it sounds like a mercilessly busy schedule... except for the, y'know, 5-hour work day with the 2-hour lunch break. OK, it actually sounds like a really cushy job. AND I STILL CAN'T SEEM TO STICK TO THE SCHEDULE.

Problem the first: It really requires that I get up on time. That did not happen this morning. Possibly because I was unable to get to sleep until about 3:00 AM; my upper back was giving me grief again.

Problem the second: Once things start getting late, it's almost impossible to steal time from the rest of the schedule. If the morning writing shift gets cut short by an hour, then I just end my lunch break at 1:00 instead of 2:00, right? Except I cannot whittle "bike up to farm for CSA pick-up, make myself lunch, eat" down to one hour, even if I excise the "goofing off" part. Which for some reason I find myself practically unable to do. At least I wound up making my lunch so filling (big salad featuring today's veg and last week's mixed greens; far too much French toast made with heel of last week's bread) that I would up not needing dinner, so I could write right up to 5:00 PM. Cooking and eating takes up time, y'all.

Problem the third: There is a reason I only expect half an hour of writing after derby. If I lose some of my writing time to, er, "activity creep," well, it's going to be damn hard to extract that work out of myself after three hours of skating hard and turning left. Not to mention plyometric conditioning. The body has sucked all the carbs out of the system and the brain has no fuel to go on. Also I'm now a little sore from the foam roller and traction stuff.

(At-home traction involves lying on the ground with my neck supported by a triangular plastic device that looks a lot like a hands-free book holder. The head is allowed to loll back, creating the curve which we are trying to train the spine to achieve. The first sessions are short, but one increases the time as one grows accustomed to the experience. Ice on the neck and upper back after the session is recommended.)

But I am determined to see how far into August I can get with a perfect record of "perfect days," which is to say, days on which I've successfully checked off every item on my Dailies list in Habitica. And so, having only done three hours of writing rather than four and a half before derby, I return to my desk, determined to reach my goal no matter how tired I am. DETERMINED.

So. When this blog post is done, I'm going back to the embarrassingly belated July 22 Friday Fictionette. It's almost ready. The text is all done and the Audiofictionette is recorded. I just need to create the cover art, compile the .pdf and .epub, put the teaser excerpt together for release on Patreon and on this-here blog, and put everything up where you can see it. I expect I'll get some way into some of that tonight and, if I am very fortunate, publish the whole shebang tomorrow.

However, tomorrow is full of things--obligations as well as options--and I'm a little worried about getting everything done.

I can at least solve one problem by GETTING UP ON TIME, DRAT YOU. Do it!

just when you figure things out they give you more things to figure out
Mon 2016-08-01 23:16:18 (single post)

I am late with all the things. All the Fictionette things, certainly. The astute and observant will have noticed that the July 22 edition still hasn't been posted, and as for the Fictionette Artifacts, I'm afraid the June mailings will just have to be sent in the same envelope as those for July. I'm dreadfully sorry. Hopefully this will be the week that I manage to get everything under control.

Which would be great, because over the past few weeks I have been having a hard time finding both time and energy to get stuff done.

I really thought I was going to have more time and energy to spare. My derby schedule has changed; as of the results of mid-year tryouts a couple weeks ago, I'm a full A-team member rather than being an A/B crossover, so I'm only attending one team's practices rather than two. That theoretically gives me back Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

Except, for one thing, I've been sticking around after All Stars practice on Sundays anyway. The first week it was because Papa Whiskey stuck around to help the Bombshells coach during their practice from 1 to 4; it was just simplest from a transportation perspective for me to stick around too. (I fetched us lunch and then volunteered my services as a non-skating official during B/C scrimmage. HOW DO JAM TIMERS MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY?!) The second week it was because I'd signed up to participate in our presentation at the Boulder County Fair, where we demonstrated Roller Derby As She Is Played These Days to curious fairgoers. (I wound up holding the microphone and explaining Derby 101 to the audience multiple times.)

These were both very fun things! But they were, nonetheless, things.

Meanwhile, I've also been spending a good deal of time at Cafe of Life. Turns out my back problems have a lot to do with the proper curve which my spine has not got. In an attempt to train it to have one, I'm undergoing adjustments and traction sessions thrice weekly. It's only about half an hour each visit, but it's also about a 40-minute commute each way by bus and bike, and it's a non-trivial interruption of my work-a-day schedule. And while the chiro sessions are having immediate positive effects (less pain all day! easier getting to sleep!), they are also having immediate exhausting effects, such that I come home ready for a nap.

And then there's the foam roller. I've been reintroducing the foam roller to my life. I ought never to have let it fall out of my life. The foam roller does wonders for the knee twinges, muscle cramps, and stiff ankles to which an athletic lifestyle is prone. It also runs away with another half hour from my evenings.

It's the same problem as always: Getting the writing done requires consciously devising, then sticking to, a specific schedule in which to do it. Which I had! Only now I have to change it to accommodate all these other changes. Gah.

It can be done! I hope to have good things to report tomorrow. And also a criminally belated Friday Fictionette to post. Again, sorry.

lateness adds to lateness but this train comes equipped with brakes
Tue 2016-07-19 22:59:51 (single post)

Hey! So. All the things are late. What I'm mostly trying to do is keep the late things from making the not-yet-late things late. Thus, today I put in my ''pom'' on this week's Friday Fictionette, then at least two on last week's. It's possible that they'll both go up at the same time. Mainly what I don't want is for any of this to bleed over into July's Week Five, because I cherish my Week Fives. I'd rather use Week Five to get a head start on August. I'd actually rather take Week Five off, but it never really works out that way.

Speaking of "poms," I've swapped Pomodoro timers. Since moving to the Windows 10 machine, I have this whole Windows Store full of free "universal" apps to choose from, all of which work natively on my computer and don't drag every other function down to a speed resembling molasses in January. This is, alas, a thing that both the Android emulators I've made use of, Bluestacks and Windroye, do. Firefox is of course affected, because Firefox is the biggest resource hog I can't seem to quit using, but Libre Office and Scrivener are also prone to waving the "(Not Responding)" flag when Bluestacks is in session.

Why this matters is, Productivity Challenge Timer (formerly Pomodoro Challenge Timer) is not available in the Windows Store, and Pomodoro Tool is. Now, Pomodoro Tool says it won't run in the background, but I am actually not seeing that; it keeps counting down happily while I type away in Scrivener, so that's good.

Also, it's just so much more cheerful than Productivity Challenge Timer. So much more encouraging! When sessions end, it says "Time to get some fresh air! :)" With a smiley at the end, just like that. When breaks end, it says, "A new session to do lots of things. :)" See? Encouraging! So much less hostile than that snide "Does putting off work make you feel good?" or whatever. And it doesn't repeatedly blast whistles at me if I don't come back and click the button immediately. Yes, I was initially happy about the Coach Makes You Work factor, but there's no way to tell the coach that OK, seriously, I'm done for the day. In contrast, Pomodoro Tool has a Stop button. Pomodoro Tool has a Pause button, even. And Pomodoro Tool does not have an exceedingly male-centric cast of generic characters, subtly reinforcing the commonly held idea that the default of "human" is man. So, really, the only thing Productivity Challenge Time has that's of interest is day-by-day data tracking, which I'm honestly no more than idly curious about. I'm already tracking my day-by-day in my timesheet spreadsheets, so. All in all, I'm happy to make the switch.

I still need to log a little work on the short story tonight, so I'm going to end this here, maybe get to the tale of the Saturn's Ride Home on another day. Maybe not. I mean, the short version is, "More stuff turned out to be broken, but we got home and got it fixed. The end." Is the long version worth telling? Eh. We'll see. If it looks like fun at the time.

but what about four mile creek is that wet too
Wed 2016-06-15 00:20:49 (single post)

There's this thing about writing that I keep having to learn, and relearn, and relearn, then learn again every time the precise context changes. It's like having to be told "the swimming pool is wet," and "the rain is wet," and "the water in the bathtub is also wet," because I never seem to mentally graduate to the point where I can just assume that all water is wet. It's really kind of annoying.

In any case, the lesson is this: The final draft doesn't come first.

I got a new story idea over the weekend, a really charming one, a sort of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret coming-of-age story that takes place in something like the world described by The Shadow over Innsmouth, centering on the friendship between the human protagonist and one of the (for want of a better term) Deep Ones. I got very excited about this idea--it kept me up late, watching phrases and images and scenes cobble themselves together on the insides of my eyelids.

Then I went to write some of it down for the next day's freewriting session... and it wouldn't come. Just couldn't get started. Typed a couple words. Erased them. Stared at the screen (which was infinitely less inspiring than the insides of my eyelids). Wrote and erased another word. It was like that Monty Python "Novel Writing" skit: "I am sorry to interrupt you there, Dennis, but he's crossed it out. Thomas Hardy here on the first day of his new novel has crossed out the only word he has written so far, and he is gazing off into space." It's all true!

I had to deliberately, consciously give myself permission to get it wrong before I could unfreeze and get any of it written. And by "any of it" I mean a paragraph here, a slice of dialog there, disjointed bits and pieces of what I remembered coming up with the night before. But once I started jotting down those pieces, more pieces just kept coming.

The final draft cannot come first.

Today I struggled to put in my daily half hour of work on this week's fictionette for exactly the same reason. The situation was, perhaps, exacerbated by having (theoretically) already gotten the bits-and-pieces draft done during a freewriting session a month ago; this week is when I'm supposed to take that draft and polish it into perfection. But in between the bits-and-pieces draft and final draft comes something else, something more coherent than the one but necessarily rougher than the other. A second draft, maybe? Or even a first draft, since the bits-and-pieces draft isn't so much a draft at all. More like notes toward a draft, really.

So, again, nothing happened until I let myself just start writing the story down as it occurred to me, rough and unstructured as it was. Any story element I knew needed to go in there was fair game. Type them up in no particular order, just the order in which they come to mind. And, magically, structure appeared as I went, sometimes in the form of square-bracket notes telling me to "[Move the bit about Bob's plans for the evening here]" or "[Put Lenny's bit about 'work-life balance' here.]" Then continuing on as normal, confident that I could come back and perform the prescribed edits easily, now that I actually had text on the page to edit.

The final draft cannot be expected to come first.

And then there was this blog post here. I had no idea what I was going to write. I stared at the blank page (uninspiring as ever) while thoughts chased each other around in my head like fish in a bucket, all of them too small to keep. Finally I just started typing up notes about my day. Prosaic, mundane, boring notes about a boring day. Who wants to hear about my day?

Nevertheless, one of those notes...

discovered that it's ok if the fictionette isn't getting written up in perfect final draft form today. it's ok to babble a little. helped me figure out some structure that way.

...turned into what you're reading now.

The final draft, I learned (relearned), doesn't come first, can't come first, can't be expected to come first. No, not even for a blog post. This water is wet too.

I think I will write "All water is wet" on an index card and tape it to the bathroom mirror, and I'll also tape on to the shelf above my desk. Maybe then I'll stop expecting the final draft to appear on a blank page like, I dunno, Aphrodite rising fully formed out of the sea foam, ever. It doesn't happen stop expecting it to happen stop tormenting and freezing yourself with the expectation that it happen. All water is wet. Understand?

but the desk has to stay against the wall
Wed 2016-03-30 00:45:45 (single post)

I had really good plans for today, but I managed to scuttle them via the usual reasons, i.e. sleeping late and not starting the morning shift until afternoon shift time. And here's the thing I found out: Even if I have the mental capacity to work four hours straight through--and today I might well have!--I nevertheless cannot because there are other things besides writing that I have to do with my day. Like, making several trips down to the storage closet. Catching up on the 2016 accounting (now that the 2015 taxes are out of the way). Getting up to date with league communications. Clearing out the dishes backlog in the kitchen, for heaven's sake. And etc.

This is probably related to Stephen King's anecdote, told in On Writing, about the huge oak desk in the center of the office. There's an adequate retelling of it here, but really you should read On Writing because it's just that good. Part memoir, part writer's how-to, it's earned a permanent slot in my reference library within easy reach of my own not-so-huge oak desk that's pushed up against the wall of the office that sometimes doubles as a guest room. But this is the money quote: "Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around."

Now that I revisit the story, actually, I find it resonates with me even more. The bit where he replaces the monster desk in the middle of the room with a smaller desk against the wall, and this makes room for his kids to come in and share the space with him--it made me think of last night. I was up late in the evening getting some things done at my desk. Or the desk, because I want it to be available to both John and me, except really I'm the only one who uses it except when he needs to print out a bunch of stuff. Really, for the most part, "the" office is for all practical purposes my office. But last night John came in and snuggled under the blankets on the futon-couch with his laptop and some programming work, and suddenly it was our office again, and that felt unexpectedly good.

But to put this in context of today: If I've only left myself some 5 hours of the day to work with, and I owe myself 5 hours of writing, I will still not get 5 hours of writing done, because writing is only one of my responsibilities.

However, the two hours of writing I did get done today were very good. I'm not all that displeased.

But I did put off starting this blog post. The blog post is the last writing task of the night. I have this sense that once I do my blog post, the writing day is over, and my failure to log all five hours has been cemented. Which is silly, because if I had started on it as soon as practice was over tonight, I might have had time for a little short story revision afterward. But I didn't, so I don't. So once this goes up I'm pretty much going to bed.

As always, tomorrow is a new day--another chance to get it right. Hopefully, despite its being a Wednesday, I'll manage it. If not, well, Thursday is a new day too.

There is a reason that tea mug gets so stained.
Cover art incorporates ''Ammonite Fossil'' by Reza via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
unwise but tasty tea consumption choices
Tue 2016-03-29 00:21:23 (single post)

So I got all my tax documents together today. Finally. Left it 'til the last minute, or at least the last three hours before my appointment, but I got it all done with time to spare. And as though the universe were rewarding me for completing this huge honkin' ginormous looming task, my big monstrous box of ALL THE TEA arrived early.

My favorite morning cuppa is Taylors of Harrogate Pure Assam. Used to be I could buy it at the Pearl Street Whole Foods or, in a pinch, the Peppercorn downtown. But of late nobody has been stocking that particular variety. They will sell me T of H's breakfast teas of English, Scottish, Irish, and Decaf varieties (that last one makes a very nice iced tea), but Pure Assam seems to have disappeared from the shelves. I was beginning to worry that T of H had ceased producing it, its absence was so absolute.

There really is no substitute. It has a deep, rich, malty flavor that's almost sweet despite the tannic bite it gets from my stewing the tea bag forever. (I do not add milk, whatever they say.) Irish breakfast comes close, an oversteeped high-quality Darjeeling is adequately strong (Smith's is expensive but so very, very good), but it's this particular Assam that is everything I want to wake up and write to.

And I haven't had any in months. I ordered some Organic Estate Assam from Upton's, but it wasn't quite the same.

So I finally up and ordered some. I couldn't seem to find my way to this particular product via T of H's retail site (it probably would have required a currency conversion anyway), but wound up instead on a website called English Tea Store. I put two boxes in my cart. I went to check out. And they said, WAIT! You get free shipping on orders of $50 or more, plus here's a 10% off coupon!!! So I said, OK, I'll take 7 boxes then.

(One box contains 50 tea bags. I am capable of consuming four of them a day, though I probably shouldn't.)

So today those 7 boxes arrived, each in their own cellophane wrap to keep them fresh, all stacked up in a bigger box and keeping company with the shipping slip and a bunch of plastic air pillows. And I damn well had a cuppa when I got home from all the afternoon's excitement, even though by then it was 8:00 PM and that sort of caffeine was undoubtedly a bad idea. You can see from the picture that I have drunk it all up right down to the oversteeped tea bag, exactly how I like it. And I deserved it, y'all. For all the things.

I may not sleep tonight until stupid o'clock. But I will go to bed happy.

PS. Last week's fictionette went out on time, if a blog post about it didn't: "In the Hall of the Gnome King," about one possible interpretation of the King of Pentacles. Et voila.

doing things by halves
Tue 2016-03-22 23:51:41 (single post)

Well, I survived the weekend. We didn't win, but, looking at the final score, we could have, which is a pretty amazing thing to say the first time you face off against a team of that caliber. Tonight's practice was mostly taken up with talking about the game, about lessons we learned, skills we need to drill going forward, things we wished we could have done better and things we're glad that we did so well.

Next up, I will most likely be skating with our B team on April 30 in Eagle, Colorado, at a one-day tournament hosted by our friends and arch-rivals the 10th Mountain Roller Dolls. Between now and then, all the practice.

Got only half a work day in today, but it was a good solid half-day. Spent a good session on this week's planned fictionette offering--I've got a couple characters and a premise, but I'm still a little undecided on the shape and structure of the story. Figured I could at least start to draft the opening paragraphs despite my uncertainty about where they were going, and, as usually happens when I "just write it anyway," I found out some useful things that way. Seriously, it's amazing how useful and important those throwaway details, the ones that turn up because I sort of filled in a blank at random, turn out to be.

In addition to that, there was my designated half hour for dealing with the business side of freelance writing, which usually involves submitting a story somewhere or figuring out where next to submit a story. This time, since I didn't have anything lined up and ready to go, it was spent in pure research. "Research" here means catching up with an online writers' community bulletin board that I frequent and seeing where others have been submitting stories lately. It's a big, sprawling forum, and it's very easy to get lost in about fifteen different conversations. I focused very specifically on the part of the forum dedicated to discussing individual pro markets. Even so, I felt a little guilty. I was on the clock! I was supposed to be writing! What was I doing reading the internet?! Still, I reminded myself that reading this particular corner of the internet was a legit part of my business plan. Call it networking. Call it market research. I have a half-hour of every writing day set aside for precisely this, and this is how I get to use it.

As a result, I do, in fact, now know where I am next sending a story. Tomorrow I'll probably figure out which story.

approaching the rough draft in scattershot fashion
Fri 2016-03-18 01:48:35 (single post)

Today's been an unusually glorious and productive day. I'm hoping to do something about the "unusually" part, going forward--days like this ought to be routine, drat it all!--but I've been in deplorable sleeping habits the last few days (or weeks). Up reading until sometime past two (and I'm not going to try to say how far past two, because around two is when I just stop looking at the clock), then, as effect follows cause, unable to get out of bed until dang near noon.

I did mention I was binging on T. Kingfisher ebooks, right? This would explain the "up until sometime past two" part of the equation. Nine Goblins was a lot of fun. Bryrony and Roses was amazing. Now I'm waiting on a paperback of The Seventh Bride to come in the mail.

Anyway. Today, despite being up until stupid-o-clock reading last night, I got up on time. That made everything else possible, including a substantial session on the new short story.

Yes! The new short story. It still doesn't have a title, but I've changed the working title (more like a working not-a-title) to reflect the main character's name. She has one now. It's Ellen. Well, in full, it's Barbara Ellen, and if you are at all of a folksongish bent you'll see what I did there. Maybe.

Good grief, was February 18 really the last time I touched it? (My database doesn't lie, but sometimes I forget to give it the whole truth.) Well, the draft is about 1500 words longer than it was. A neat trick, considering I really didn't know where to go after the first scene, or even how to finish the first scene.

I had--I continue to have--certain things I want in the story, plot elements and character backgrounds and so forth, but no clue just yet how to get from one to the next narratively. So, instead of spending another hour obsessively revising the first 500-word chunk, I switched over to what I'm thinking of as the Scattershot Strategy.

For each story element I knew that I wanted to include, I created a new Scrivener text file, and I just started writing in it without any thought for how the results would fit into the overall story. Just get everything that's in my head down on the page, regardless of whether it all works together yet. It wound up feeling a lot like plotting with index cards, only instead of physical index cards I've got virtual ones that I can drag and drop into any order. One of them has the very last two sentences of the story, and nothing else. One of them tells the tale of Ellen's mother's disappearance. Another is the scene where Ellen and the man who was a tree show up at Ellen's sister's house--that will probably be the third scene in the story. (The second scene still hasn't come clear.) Yet another "index card" has a few disjointed lines representing the climax of the story's central dilemma.

Point is, once I stopped worrying about how I'd get from here to there and gave myself permission to just teleport, more or less, it got fun. Like my freewriting sessions are fun. Like writing rough draft is supposed to be fun. I'm in the sandbox, playing with words and characters and ideas! Nothing has to be perfect! This, this right here, this is something I absolutely love about writing.

I sometimes lose track of the things I love about writing. Today I got reminded.

Hooray! More tomorrow.

Cover art incorporates original photography by the author, whose doorbell says DING DONG and whose doormat says HI. I'M MAT.
this fictionette eats super local
Fri 2016-03-04 23:10:03 (single post)

OMG a Friday Fictionette released on an actual Friday what is the world COMING TO. Also, consider yourself warned that "The Call Is Coming From Inside the Building" get out of there.

So this new work schedule of John's is having a salutary effect on my own. Unless I have a very convincing reason to stay in bed (like, say, the morning after skating in two epic back-to-back interleague scrimmages that left me sore and gloriously multicolored, just for instance), I get up when he does, whereupon we have breakfast together before he heads over to the office. And then I actually get a full day of writing done according to the master plan for world domination through workerlike fiction production. And life is magical.

The quest for breakfast also sent me about half a mile up the road on my bike to a nearby farm whose sign in their driveway advertising Fresh Eggs has been catching my eye every time I head up to roller derby practice. This would be The Diaz Farm, which, it turns out, in addition to selling farm-fresh eggs daily for $5.50 the dozen, is accepting CSA sign-ups for the 2016 season. I am all over that. 2016 will be the year of eating super locally, with pork sausage from the pig farmer who skates on our B team and rents us our practice space (her derby name is Baconator, naturally, and everything about her is made of awesome), and chicken from McCauley Family Farm where I used to volunteer (and may again someday, who knows), and now fresh veg from The Diaz Farm which is literally in my neighborhood considering I can darn well get there on my bike, rain or shine, in under 10 minutes. Given their extreme proximity, which is convenient given my lack of daytime access to a car, I asked them if they were taking volunteers. The answer was, not yet but we'll let you know. They are a very small operation.

Yesterday I turned one of those McCauley chickens into one of my very most favorite recipes from Kenneth Lo's The Top One Hundred Chinese Dishes, "Whole Chicken Soup with Chinese Cabbage (Bai Cai Ji Tang)." This sent me on another bicycle quest, this time for Napa cabbage. The little international grocery at Valmont and 28th can always be counted on to have that. Also fresh okra at any old time of the year. Also, and I was entirely unprepared to discover this, mirleton (aka "chayote"). I suspect my next chicken dish will be chicken and andouille gumbo on a stewed okra base with a side helping of shrimp and mirleton casserole.

You know what else you can get at international groceries? CDM coffee. Truly, New Orleans is another country.

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