“The people who need what you have to say are waiting for you and they donít care that you think it's boring, unoriginal or lacking in value.”
Havi Brooks

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

63rd St. Farm gets Gemma's stamp of approval.
salad days are here
Thu 2020-05-28 17:49:31 (single post)

Speaking of annual events that have been affected by the pandemic, today was the first veggie pick-up of 63rd St. Farm's 2020 CSA season. I was both excited about it and dreading it. Excited because, obviously, yay! farm-fresh produce! Also extra variety in greens for the bunnies. But I was kinda dreading submitting myself to yet another errand that had been made more arduous by contagion-suppression processes.

There were three processes each member could choose from, but only one gave me the option to be picky about my veggies and therefore probably not take home an unwanted bunch of cilantro. There are very few things I will not eat, and cilantro isn't precisely one of them--it's omnipresent in Colorado and in many of the cultural cuisines I enjoy, so I've worked up a tolerance more or less out of self-defense--but it's certainly something I will choose not to eat it if I get that choice without causing others too much inconvenience. Although, John points out, if I did wind up with a bunch of cilantro, the bunnies would most certainly eat it for us. But I'd still have to handle it, get the smell all over my hands, and, well, if at all possible, no thanks. (No, it's not that I think cilantro tastes like soap. I think marjoram tastes like soap. I think cilantro tastes like cilantro. And I don't like the taste of cilantro. It is a preference that reasonable people can have, as it happens.) So although I was wistfully tempted by the convenience of the two options involving prepackaged shares, I opted to come on out and select my veggies myself under the farm's strict sanitation and separation rules.

Pick-up hours were from 3:00 to 7:00. I arrived right at 3. And the line of cars was already well out the entrance driveway and damn near sticking out into 63rd street. There was just room for me to squeeze in at the end of the line without blocking traffic. And that was with every driver conscientiously inching up to compress the line just as much as they possibly could. Then the line moved slowly, slowly, slowly along the driveway (I'd brought a book to read, it was cool) toward the check-in station, where the farmers would check off that you'd arrived, give you your instructions, and, if you wanted to buy something extra, like honey or eggs or herbal products, sell you something extra. (I bought a dozen eggs).

After the check-in station, everything smoothed out. I hung a right into their Brand! New! Parking lot! (it wasn't technically much bigger than the old one, but it had a better traffic flow, and that made it feel HUGE) and got myself parked. My next stop was the hand-washing station, which was equipped with liquid soap and running water and paper towels and also a sign reminding you to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. Then I took a plastic bag from the box of Brand! New! Plastic bags! (we were asked not to bring any from home, and also to save these for use in future, less complicated times) and headed over to the veggie cart.

"Cart" feels like an understatement; the word makes me think of shopping carts and bike trailers and, at most, small horse-drawn conveyances. This was more like a large horse-drawn conveyance, maybe 20 feet long by 6 feet wide, with vegetables arranged along its circumference on a shelf like a grocery store's produce display. Four people were allowed to be at the cart at once; more than that and you waited in line with 10-foot separation. Vegetables were pre-bagged in amounts labeled according to share size (I have a half-share, which is less than a full but more than a small). All you had to do was grab the bags that corresponded with your share size, make that tough choice between chard or kale or collard greens (I've got okra and mirliton at home, of course I chose collards), and maybe sometimes ask for supplies of this or that to be replenished. Which they would be from the prepackaging station where a number of farm staff were very busy not only keeping the cart supplied but also putting together the drive-up shares for those who chose Option #2.

So it all went very smoothly. Everyone, members and farm staff alike, was cheerful and polite and wore their face masks like responsible and caring community members do. The whole experience was much more pleasant than I'd anticipated. And as I left, I saw that the line of cars had now entirely outgrown the driveway and extended for several hundred feet along the shoulder of north-bound 63rd Street, so clearly I'd done well to get there right at 3. In fact, I might try for 2:45 next week. Maybe also budget time to order some pizza to take home. The smells coming from the brick oven were hugely tempting.

Anyway, I got home with fresh veg, made up a plate for the bunnies, and then made up a salad for myself. All in all, it was a successful outing.

Food goes in here.
the more skating but also more eating take-out diet
Thu 2020-05-14 18:18:22 (single post)

My roller derby league is challenging its members to skate an ULTRAMARATHON IN MAY. There are sponsors, there will be prizes, there is certainly competition. And I can tell you right now, I am not likely to complete even Tier 1. I'll keep track of my miles, but I have pretty much zero ambition about it.

But now I'm curious. I have been doing a fair amount of street skating recently (if somewhat less over the past couple weeks since it's been raining off and on). How much of it am I doing? At the rate I'm doing it, how long will take me to accumulate 26.2 miles of skating?

What if all the skating I was doing was to pick up take-out meals?

(Could I stop using GrubHub entirely? There are so many reasons.)

Could I SKATE A TAKE-OUT MARATHON?

Last week Tuesday, the day that I and my computer received a visit from that onsite tech who was a total tool, I got it in my head to skate to My Ramen & Izakaya. I began placing the order online on the backup laptop while the tech finished up with my Dell Inspiron and prepared to leave. I hadn't quite finished placing the order when the computer stalled out in its attempt to load Windows. While the tech yelled at Dispatch over the phone, I stared longingly at the computer screen. Then I put on my gear and rolled around the house gathering facemask, bluetooth headphones, and wallet. The instant the tech left, I hit SUBMIT on my take-out order and rolled the heck out of there. I figured, by now, between the tech visit gone wrong and the exercise I was currently getting, I would deserve my tantanmen ramen and Japanese pancakes. And yes, I did deserve those tasty treats, even if I probably shouldn't have eaten them all in one sitting. I went to bed painfully full but very happy. Or, at least, considering the loss of the use of my good laptop, more happy than I would have been otherwise.

Distance skated: 1.58 miles.

That worked out so well, I thought I'd do it again yesterday. Only this time I was in the mood for Buddha Thai. John was game--I could put him down for medium-spicy tofu pad thai any old evening. Me, I got the drunken noodles with seafood combo. I skated there mostly along the streets, taking advantage of bike lanes and multi-use sidewalks. At the restaurant, I took off my wrist guards and donned the disposable gloves that the restaurant had made available on a table outside the door. I put the entrees into my old Rock Boat soft-side thermal tote and poured the Thai iced tea into my old Einstein Bros. to-go mug with lid. Then there was a minimal amount of cross-stepping across a corner of lawn after skating over to the nearest trash receptacle to dispose of the gloves and the plastic cup and straw. Then, back home to stuff myself silly!

Distance skated: 1.20 miles.

At this rate, I will probably not skate a take-out marathon in May. But if I do this instead of ordering delivery more often, I will certainly be getting good exercise to go along with my tasty food!

All that rolling around and squatting down to pick up stuff was a surprisingly effective core-strength workout.
a very small portion of north Boulder is now roughly twelve gallons cleaner, and I am tired
Wed 2020-04-22 19:43:30 (single post)

It's Earth Day, so my skate-starved derby friends and I rolled around our individual neighborhoods (separately) picking up trash and taking selfies promoting our league. Here's a picture of me picking up trash in my skates and BCB tank top. I kind of suck at selfies, but my camera has a timer function, so it all worked out OK. Speaking of which, the amount of times I got the shot all set up and then pressed the power-off button instead of the take-a-picture button doesn't bear calculating.

I felt all self-conscious about it--about the picking up of a more or less symbolic amount of trash as well as about attempting to selfie myself doing so--it felt like I was obviously just showing off--but after two bicyclists on 30th Street went by calling out, "Thank you for doing that!" I felt a little better about the whole exercise.

People wave to each other a lot more when they're wearing face-masks because the usual smile-and-nod routine is harder to see. Every time someone waved at me, I waved back and yelled "Happy Earth Day!" But given my mask it might have sounded like "Happy birthday," which would only be accurate in case of pure coincidence or if I were talking to myself and it was tomorrow.

(Forty-four, in case you're wondering. And I'm proud of every single one of 'em.)

As I did some years ago, I ordered myself a new fountain pen for a birthday treat. One of these. I've never owned a retractable fountain pen before, and these are very pretty. I have no idea when it'll arrive, though. Goulet's building is temporarily shuttered for the COVID-19 pandemic. My pen won't ship until there's someone there to process the order and ship it. That's all right. By the time it arrives, it'll be a delightful surprise.

The rest of the news, in brief: Today was another good writing day. It's been a week full of 'em. Also I am up to 6 granny squares for the afghan: two large, four small, all incredibly gaudy. Dinner tonight was courtesy of My Ramen & Izakaya, who are still operating through the pandemic for takeout and delivery. (Delivery was courtesy GrubHub.) I ordered before I left for my Earth Day trash skate, and when I got home, there was my food waiting on the chair outside my door. And it was so, so good.

And now I am full and tired. Good night!

Finished the lap blanket; just getting started on the granny square afghan
quarantine crafting, cooking, and poetry publishing
Mon 2020-04-20 22:34:34 (single post)

Hello from a fairly satisfying Monday! The sun is shining, the paving is dry, and I just went for a big long street-and-trail skate. Looped around 28th to Elmer's Two Mile to Goose Greek to Foothills to Wonderland Creek and home again. It took nearly the entirety of the album Best of Blondie.

I'm coming off a pretty damn good weekend for poetry. One came home with the kind of personal rejection that makes an author walk on air and smile foolishly for the rest of the day. The editor responded, at paragraph length (and not a short paragraph, either), with an in-depth interpretation of the poem, teasing out meaning I had not consciously put in there (but wished I had, because damn, that's some clever stuff!). We are talking exegesis here. Another poem came home, from a different market, with an offer to buy. (I said yes, of course.) No contract yet, so details later, yadda yadda yadda. I shall reveal more when I can.

So. One amazingly thoughtful personal rejection and one acceptance. That's a damn good weekend.

There has, meanwhile, been more quarantine cooking and quarantine crafting. John's missing his California Pizza Kitchen fix; he found a copycat recipe for their Kung Pao Spaghetti, and we gave it a shot last night. (Sans chicken, of course.) It got all the thumbs up from this household. The recipe calls for a whole pound of spaghetti, so we figured there would be leftovers. There were no leftovers. There would have been if we had possessed any self-restraint whatsoever, but we did not, and so we ate it all.

Next time we will make half the recipe, just out of self-defense.

The effect was not unlike that of Pinch of Yum's Rainbow Pad Thai. The sauce is very similar. Veggie broth, soy sauce, chili paste, sugar, vinegar. The main difference was that it was thickened with cornstarch in the bowl rather than with egg in the pan. I'm thinking next time I might try the egg method; I find that the flavor and texture of cornstarch is just a little too front-and-center. But obviously I had no real complaints. NO LEFTOVERS.

Meanwhile, I dug up and finally finished this lap blanket, pictured above. I started work on it some three years ago or more. I'd just made one for a Boulder County Bombers silent auction following the Gingerbread Lady's Ribbon Afghan pattern, and I thought it would be nice to have one of my own. This time I'd substitute a half-double stitch for that one chain stitch that separated the blocks of double-crochet from the blocks of single, see if that resulted in a smoother effect. It did, and I liked it, but somehow I just never got around to finishing it. Well, it is now finished. Finished and warm and soft and cozy.

That done, I investigated another couple bags of acrylic yarn someone gave me--this is a thing that happens when one crafts out in public; other people offer one yarn when they want to winnow down their stash. I have yet to learn to say no, mainly because I keep thinking, "I'll make it into another patchwork afghan!" Well, time to get busy on that. That bag of brightly colored balls of yarn you see in the photo next to the lap blanket is getting turned into a bunch of granny squares, more or less following the Crayola Colors Afghan pattern in Women's Day Granny Squares #8, which was on my shelf for some ungodly reason and seemed like a good place to start.

Crocheting granny squares is not a bad way to spend time waiting for a Puzzle Pirates voyage to get under way. Did I mention I'm playing Puzzle Pirates again? Yep. Logged on this afternoon after my work was done. Promptly won a bunch of Easter Egg furniture in an Ocean-wide competition that happened to be going on at the time. When it comes to Rigging and Navigating, I've still got it.

Anyone to whom that actually made sense, drop me a line. We should pilly.

one hundred words closer to upgrading my SFWA membership
Wed 2020-04-08 00:31:07 (single post)
  • 50,347 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 100 words (if poetry, lines) long

I have happy news today! One of the three stories that sold back in January has now been published--it is online where you can read it and everything! "The Rarest of Prey," what I've been referring to as "that tacky little unicorn drabble," is now live for your reading pleasure at Daily Science Fiction.

Meanwhile, I continue plugging away at all the daily and weekly writing tasks...

This morning's freewriting session resulted in a couple potential poems, one about the pandemic, the other about prejudice, and both depressing as heck. (Sometimes poetry is like that.)

This week's Friday Fictionette is slowly but steadily taking shape. That's particularly reassuring to see, since this one started out more nebulous than most.

Another page of a very overdue Fictionette Artifact got typed up. The very last of the the ribbons I ordered back in January 2017 is on its last legs, so I placed an order for more yesterday with Ribbons Unlimited--and they've already been shipped! Should be here Thursday. They are not just speedy, but solicitous, too. In response to a note I included with my order, the proprieter called me up on the phone to reassure me that, despite a change of verbal description, the part number I had ordered was indeed compatible with my particular typewriter (a Tower "Quiet-Tabulator" from the 1950s that an acquaintance in Oregon sold me for $50 back in, oh, 1998 or so).

The early novel revision efforts are inching along. I wrote The Bookwyrm's Hoard using a very early version of yWriter. Possibly version 2? I installed version 6 and it didn't want to open the novel directly; instead, I had to use one of its Import Earlier Version commands. 2006 was that long ago in software years. In any case, I've created a Scrivener project and have begun importing the draft, chapter by chapter, scene by scene. (I'm up to Chapter 3.) As each scene gets imported, I read it and make notes broadly identifying areas I need to fix or pay special attention to. (There are a lot of problems need fixing. Some of them are very embarrassing. No, I'm not going to list examples.) I'm trying not to judge but rather to observe and acquire data. I'm also getting surprised a lot. I remembered the basics of the plot, such as it was, but there are loads of details I'd forgotten, and some of them are actually a delight.

And of course there was dinner. (Bonus food content!) Native Foods said "Hey, it's Takeout Tuesday! Double points if you order today!" so I was like, OK, fine, let's try your fancy Plant-Based Roast. I scheduled an order for 5 PM delivery. It arrived right on time. My hunger also arrived right on time. Only problem was, the fancy Plant-Based Roast arrives frozen solid and requires an hour and a half in the oven. Whoops. Good thing I had also ordered a 4-pack of their burger patties. Those cook up in about 5 minutes on the stove.

The roast, when it was finally done, was delicious. Also it will feed me for days. (Just me. It's not really John's thing, although the burger patties might be.) A+, would recommend. Just understand that, once it arrives at your door, you aren't going to get to eat it for at least two hours, and schedule your delivery accordingly.

someday never happens but nano comes THREE times a year these days what the hell
Mon 2020-04-06 19:31:37 (single post)
  • 50,059 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 50,347 words (if poetry, lines) long

April is Camp Nano--basically National Novel Writing Month but in April and with a summer camp theme. I've never really gotten into it. My annual participation sputtered out around the time I decided that twelve years in a row, ten of them as a Municipal Liaison, was a lot and I was ready to set that particular tradition aside for a bit. (My apologies to anyone who's been hanging out in my "[USERNAME] wants to be friends!" queue for the last 5 months--I only just logged in today and saw you there!) Besides, I was tired of how few short stories I had out on submission at any one time, so I decided I'd get back to my novel-writing attempts once I had a more healthy stable of submittable manuscripts.

Thanks to last year's 100 Rejections goal and corresponding Submit Every Day initiative, and the ways in which I've continued those patterns this year, my stable of submittable manuscripts is much healthier, and I think I'm ready to spend a month focusing on novels again.

My Camp Nano goals--and, to be clear, I'm still not really participating in Camp Nano, not in the social aspects of it, anyway--I'm not joining a "cabin" and I don't feel the need to add new virtual write-ins to my life at this time--my goals for April are very modest. They are as follows:

  • Review existing novel drafts on my hard drive.
  • Pick one to begin completing and revising this month.
  • Spend a little time each weekday doing that.

That's it. No end-goal, no X-amount of words written nor even a strict Y-amount of time to accumulate by the end of the month. I'm just folding novel-writing activities into my day-to-day writing life, into the slot on my timesheet reserved for Revising Stuff Destined For Commercial Submission. And the novel is allowed to take priority over short fiction and poetry. The latter two aren't going away, of course; I've got four new poems to revise and submit thanks to the poetry-writing contest on Codex I participated in last month, and this morning's freewriting session gave me hope I might yet get an entry into Escape Pod's Flash Fiction Contest for 2020 after all. But I have plenty of short works ready to submit and resubmit "'til hell won't have 'em," so this year's collection of rejection letters won't stall out just because I take a month to see where I'm at in regards to long-form fiction.

At this time, I've completed the first two items on the above list. I found myself falling in love with the first couple chapters of 2005's NaNoWriMo effort, Right Off the Page, in which a character goes missing from the protagonist's latest work in progress. But that's the second book in a vaguely planned series. Happily, the next year I took a stab at writing the first book, The Bookwyrm's Hoard, in which that same protagonist inherits a hometown bookstore and discovers its unusual quirks. So that's the book on which I'm going to focus the efforts implied by the third listed item. I'll see where that gets me by the end of the month, and whether I'll want to continue with it or with a different novel for the July edition of Camp Nano.

Bonus food content! So one of our old roller derby friends used to host a "Potluck of the Month Club", but then she moved out of state. Inspired by all the virtual hangouts that the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated, she scheduled an online potluck for yesterday. So John and I made cheese enchiladas and refried beans, which we sat down and ate in front of the computer while logged into our club reunion via video conference. There were a lot of smiles and laughter and gossip and also some ranting and commiserating. It was good. A+ would virtual-potluck again.

And right now this minute I am eating french fries that John made for me. John makes very good french fries.

it's a horrible plan but it just keeps working
Wed 2020-04-01 22:27:18 (single post)

I am trying to learn my lesson. I really am.

Last time I had one of those "Holy crap, the submission window closes TODAY, hurry hurry hurry!" days, I only made the deadline by staying home from that night's roller derby practice. Then the story wound up getting accepted for publication, which was, of course, awesome, but possibly unwise of the universe to reward me like that for basically sucking at time management.

Because I had another one of those days yesterday. It wasn't quite as desperate a situation; instead of writing a whole new story out of nothing, I only had to lightly revise a few existing stories. (It was a situation where reprints from Patreon were welcome, so I had the majority of my Friday Fictionette catalog to choose from.) Also, I didn't have to skip roller derby practice. (Roller derby practice consisted of about a half hour long really intense quad and core workout.) But still, I really shouldn't do this last minute stuff to myself.

Today I got word back from the publication that two of the three stories in my submission package are being held for further consideration. That is (a) super quick, and (b) pretty darn cool. Obviously a hold pending further consideration is not a guarantee of eventual acceptance--with this particular publication, I've had hold notices go either way--but it does mean those stories made the first round cut, which is good news any way you look at it. So I'm feeling pretty spiffy about the whole thing.

I suppose the universe is not so much rewarding me for sucky time management, but for persevering in the face of pressure. I put my submission packet together rather than just giving up, and that's a good thing. Even on the last day of the submission window, it is better to submit than not submit. I get that. I just think it would be even better if I could reliably submit in a timely fashion, and not wait until the last day of the submission window.

Here endeth the lesson.

Time now for some food content, because cooking is fun and eating is even more fun. This, right here, is fun: How to turn a box of Annie's Peace Pasta & Parmesan into one-pot mock carbonara.

  1. Cook the cute little peace-sign shaped noodles like you always do. Drain and set aside.
  2. Chop up two slices of bacon into bite-sized bits, maybe 1/2" wide, whatever you like. Pop those in the pot and let them cook on medium, medium-low until cooked through but not crunchy and the grease is coming out. If you've got some cognac on hand, and this sounds like a good idea to you, deglaze the pan with a generous splash of cognac.
  3. Pour in a nice half cup or so of heavy whipping cream and let it come to a gentle simmery sort of boil.
  4. Add a cup or so of frozen green peas. Stir them around, maybe add a little milk or more cream if things are prematurely thick in there, and let the whole shebang come back up to temperature.
  5. Once the peas are no longer frozen and the cream sauce is starting to bubble again, stir in the packet of Annie's Peace Pasta & Parmesan cheese powder. Turn off the fire. Add the noodles. Add a hefty wodge of grated parmesan. Combine thoroughly.
  6. Consume. Self-restraint not required. You win at dinner.
what i did every friday in march and also for dinner tonight
Tue 2020-03-31 22:32:36 (single post)
  • 964 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,202 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,064 words (if poetry, lines) long
  • 1,109 words (if poetry, lines) long

Here, as promised, is the Friday Fictionettes round-up for March 2020. I can do one because, for the first time in a very long time, I am not only caught up to the regular weekly release schedule, but I am also caught up with the monthly Freebies. It feels so good, y'all. Now all I've got left to catch up on is the Fictionette Artifact schedule; that's been a rather longer work in progress, as it entails a certain amount of physical craft, but I am at least sending them out at a rate of no less than one a month, even if the one I sent this past month was for April 2019.

So! Life is good, and here is your round-up:

Friday, March 6, 2020: "On the Predilections of Drakes" (ebook | audio | Monday Muse) In which we closely question the reason women aren't allowed in the stable-caverns. This is the Fictionette Freebie for the month!

Friday, March 13, 2020: "Growing Up Is Optional" (ebook | audio | Monday Muse) In which we discover what bonds remain between Evelyn and the imaginary friend she fired fifteen years ago.

Friday, March 20, 2020: "What Queens Are For" (ebook | audio | Monday Muse) In which we learn that even someone who's far too young for astronomy lessons might yet be old enough to comprehend duty.

Friday, March 27, 2020: "Triptych: Dryad Green" (ebook | audio | Monday Muse) In which you think you know how this story goes, but you're wrong.

The Friday Fictionette Project is a Patreon-powered flash fiction subscription service. A brand-new story-like object in the range of 850-1,200 words, more or less, goes up every first through fourth Friday of the month. The $1/month pledge tier gets you access to the ebook (and every single ebook ever uploaded to the project, going back to August 2014). The $3/month pledge tier additionally gets the audiobook (and all archived audiobooks, going back to somewhere mid-2015), which I narrate. On the last day of the month, I turn one of those Fictionettes into that month's Freebie, making it available to all and sundry, Patron and non-Patron alike.

The Monday Muse posts are also available to the public at large. These go up every first through fourth Monday, showcasing the writing prompt associated with the upcoming Fictionette release. Readers are encouraged to do a little writing to the prompt themselves and maybe share the results, just to demonstrate how, given the same prompt, different authors will write very different stories from each other. There's also generally a little bit of mini-blogging in there, just a touch of status report, sorta The View From Where I'm At.

And now for dinner.

I brought home more kimchi from the Asian Market at Valmont and 28th. They were still open as of Friday the 27th, but not particularly busy. Which was fine for me, because six feet of separation would be impossible in those narrow aisles, but I do worry about the business. I hope they are doing well, and that they are getting all the customers--just, y'know, sequentially rather than simultaneously. Anyway, I made kimchi jjigae.

In previous blog posts I've blathered about how I treat the recipe's proportions more like suggestions than instructions. Tonight, however, I did it according to Hoyle. Which is to say, according to Maangchi. Half a cup of onion! Half a pound of pork belly (well, pork loin, since I couldn't find belly or shoulder at Sprouts that day)! One pound of kimchi plus 1/4 cup kimchi brine! And so forth! I even made the stock, although I made it with a bunch of shrimp shells rather than dried anchovies. Used my last daikon radish from last season, too. (Really, it was about time.) Anyway, everything was exceedingly tasty, even if the pork loin really wasn't fatty enough for the purpose. And if I made less of the stuff than I do when I follow my usual stew and soup mantra of "Throw it all in and let the Gods sort it out," well, I can make it again tomorrow because I didn't throw everything in, so I've got half that pound of pork loin and half that package of tofu and so forth left in the fridge.

Well, I'm out of daikon and green onions now, but tomorrow's version can handle substitutions.

a day in the life under the new normal
Mon 2020-03-23 18:42:44 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

When it's been more than a month since my last blog post, writing a new one seems daunting. I feel irrationally obligated to include Every Single Thing That's Happened Since Then, and because that's obviously not feasible nor even possible, the tendency is to just not. And then another day goes by, a day full of More Things to Blog, and the endless spiral descends further.

So today I'm just going to say Hi! and more or less report on the doings of the day.

Today I woke up in the office, which has become my bedroom since coming home from the Berthoud Inn on March 16. That weekend, I'd gone out to a couple bars (in Berthoud), and John had hosted his annual gaming miniconvention (which was why I was holed up in Berthoud), so we've been sorta quasi-isolating ourselves from each other since then to keep what social exposure we'd had as much to ourselves as possible. We joke that the boundary between his space and my space runs right down the center of the kitchen table, where we sit on opposite sides in the evenings to play Spiral Knights. But of course we both use the kitchen. We even cook together sometimes; we made pad thai together Saturday night, for example. So there's only so much we can do. But we're doing it.

First thing I did upon waking up was call to cancel today's appointment at Cafe of Life and tomorrow's at North Boulder Physical Therapy. I guess I'd been kidding myself until recently, or just not thinking about it, but I thought about it over the weekend and realized that these, too, were non-essential as far as medical appointments go. I have my homework, I have my exercises, I can keep myself from losing ground on what both professionals constantly remind me are marathons rather than sprints. It's fine. We'll reconnect after the curve flattens out somewhat.

So then I made myself tea and got to work. Work looked a lot like work on any weekday. Morning Pages followed by breakfast, tooth-brushing, pill-taking, and catching up on news of the day. Freewriting to a prompt. Work on this week's Friday Fictionette offering (have I mentioned my release schedule is back to normal? Yeah! I done caught up). Work on the next very belated Fictionette Artifact for my exceedingly patient $5/month subscribers (obviously still catching up on that). Break for lunch and some admin duties. Then a solid session of Submission Procedures, because it's Monday. Logged the rejection letters my poetry and fiction got over the past week. Resubmitted my latest flash fiction piece. Did a final proofread on my story in the Community of Magic Pens anthology (which I will talk about a whole bunch tomorrow, so stay tuned).

It is a bit unsettling how very little my work and social routine have changed under pandemic lock-down. Under normal circumstances, I can quite easily go days without seeing anyone but my husband and my roller derby teammates. I'm seeing more of John since he's working from home every day rather than some days; I'm seeing my derby friends online for virtual workouts rather than in person for practice. That's pretty much all that's different; otherwise, it's life as usual for this hermit. And, well, wow. I already identified as an introvert, but I guess I didn't realize how much of an introvert I was until I realized how little this sort of social isolation bothers me--and how much social isolation I was already performing by choice before it became the medically necessary and socially responsible thing to do. I feel like maybe I should be a little bothered by that. But I'm not, not really.

Both John and myself continue symptom-free. But of course I get paranoid every time I blow my nose first thing in the morning or have a small wet coughing fit shortly after a meal. Which I've done, and had, every morning and after every meal for years. Is it still hypochondria when the microbes really are out to get you?

I'm powering through the main storyline quests on 4thewords.com, the system that turns writing goals into RPG-style battles. I'm currently in the Gansu Watering Hole chapter. Before I began writing this blog post, I fired up a battle against the Red Witch: 4,000 words in 1,000 minutes. Woo! With my attack and defense stats, it's actually 3,254 words in 1,200 minutes. I have until tomorrow at 1:30 PM to make the required word count. Sounds entirely plausible; by then I should have done tomorrow's freewriting and Fictionette work. Not to mention I'll have finished this blog post.

The sun's out, it's vaguely warm, and the sidewalks have dried off since the most recent blizzard, so I went skating. I did about two miles going "around the block", which is to say, all the way to the dead end of my street, then onto the path that follows the southbound highway, turn the corner to follow the westbound highway, then hit the creek path that cuts through the neighborhood and puts me back onto my street. There was also an early detour to a neighborhood park for footwork/individual skate skill practice on the cement basketball court.

Lunch was leftover peanut stew with bacon and okra, a variation on the recipe discussed here. I'd gone to the grocery Friday--that and Boulder Food Rescue combined are the one weekly out-of-the-house errand I'm still running; food delivery to those in need is more important now than ever, and while I'm at the donor grocery, I might as well get my own groceries too--and acquired ingredients for the peanut stew, the aforementioned pad thai, and an attempt at Dragon & Phoenix. In the absence of occasional meals at restaurants, I'm cooking my favorite restaurant meals at home. I got the okra, oyster sauce, stir-fry noodles, and various happy-making snacks for me at the Asian Seafood Market on my way home; they are still open too, and they are wonderful. Neither they nor Sprouts had fresh garlic, but I've got a small supply in addition to a bunch of minced roasted garlic in a jar in the fridge. We'll get by.

And now I'm back in the office writing this blog post. John's at the kitchen table finishing up his own day's work. We'll meet up soon for another dive into the Clockworks (I just made myself Mercurial Mail and I can't wait to level it up!). And that, more or less, is the status report for Monday, March 23, 2020.

Please stay safe and healthy, everyone, and treat yourself well.

Image courtesy Atthis Arts, LLC
i show you a thing! two things! only one might make you go eww!
Tue 2020-02-18 19:54:43 (single post)
  • 2,600 words (if poetry, lines) long

Work on the Magic Pens anthology is progressing. Author bios are getting finalized, and final story edits are due back in the next couple of days. My story got the benefit of a couple more pairs of eyes, and I'm thrilled with all the care and attention that this editorial team is bringing to the project. I'm also thrilled to see who else is in the table of contents with me; the Codex online writers' group is well represented.

And the cover art is finalized! I get to share it with you!

If you want to get a head start on ordering your copy, the preorders page is here. Note that the limited editions are only guaranteed available through March. Mid-May is what I'm hearing for shipping (of any edition).

Because you have come to expect foodie content on this blog, and I am loathe to disappoint, BEHOLD: How I learned to love tolerate liverwurst.

Look. I picked some up thinking, "Hey, look! Liverwurst! I've never had liverwurst. I wonder if I'll like it?" because that's how I approach food. I sliced off some and spread it on toast and lo, I did not like it. The ingredient list said "pork, pork liver, spices," but as far as my mouth was concerned, it was just liver paste. I may have actually gagged.

But I didn't want to throw the rest away. I hate wasting food. So I found these sandwich recipes. I like the cream cheese and cucumber one best; it has enough bright, crisp flavors in it to balance out mask the liver muddiness. And, as a bonus, there's literary content.

(I was also open to frying slices of liverwurst in bacon fat along with a bunch of chopped collard greens, as I remember actually liking a charbroiled liver and collards dish I got at the French Quarter Fest some years back. I had no fresh collard greens in the house at the same time as the liverwurst, however. Maybe next time. If there is a next time.)

And that's what I've got for you today!

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