“If you can't annoy somebody, there is little point in writing.”
Kingsley Amis

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

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!

Cover art incorporates public domain clip art with original photography by the author, whose kitchen, alas, consists mainly of fly attractants.
Sunflowers: Compare and Contrast
another dude at a bus stop, another lesson in HOW NOT TO APPROACH WOMEN
Thu 2016-07-21 23:32:11 (single post)
  • 929 words (if poetry, lines) long

OK, so, last week's Fictionette is live! Yayyyyy. It is called "The Revolution of the Flies." It bears a certain similarity to Rush's "The Trees," which was not at first intentional but which I came to embrace by the end.

Below the Friday Fictionette cover, you may also notice pictures of pretty sunflowers! The very spindly one and its buddies (not pictured here) sprouted from seeds I pulled out of a bag of wild bird food. The big burly one that isn't blooming yet is out near a bus stop I use to get to Longmont for my Cafe of Life appointments. I wanted to put them side-by-side for comparison. Hopefully I'll get to see the big burly one bloom. It's going to be amazing.

There's a story that goes along with that sunflower photo. That story is called "Men Act Entitled To My Attention And/Or Gratitude On Public Transportation, Chapter 3,852." (You may recall the previous chapter in this series? OK good.)

So I took that photo today while I was waiting for the pedestrian light to change in my favor. It's a long light, so I had plenty of time for sightseeing. What I want you to know is, I was standing there with my bike for quite some time before I crossed the street and settled down at the bus stop.

At the bus stop there was a man, also with bike. He was listening to music over some speakers he had tucked away somewhere about his person. I was happy to leave him to it. I wasn't feeling social. My plans did not include social interaction. I was going to knit until the bus came, and then I was going get on the bus, open up my laptop, and write until we got to my stop in Longmont.

However, Dude is feeling social. And what he says to me is, "You took a picture of that weed, huh?"

Men? People presenting as male who happen to read this blog? I want you to know, if you don't already know, how that is likely to come across to a woman traveling by herself on public transportation. He may well have meant to communicate that he had taken an friendly interest in me and would welcome a conversation. Well and good, but I didn't want him taking an interest in me, I didn't want any conversation, and what I heard was, "I've been watching you for the last five minutes or more. Just so's you know."

Now, even if his first overture had not been so creepy, I still would not have welcomed conversation. I wanted to be left alone. But I really didn't want anything to do with this guy now. "That's my business, not yours," is what I said.

Rude? Maybe. But here's the thing: No one is obliged to give you their time or attention just because you talked to them. Anyone may refuse the invitation to interact. And if you're a guy approaching a gal before getting on the same bus as her, you gotta realize--she cannot physically get away from you without upsetting her travel plans. She has no escape other than the one you grant her by accepting rejection gracefully.

Turn it around; imagine if you were obliged to engage in conversation with every single person who, at no cost to themselves, decided to aim words at you. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? At this point I invite you to Google the term "emotional labor." Or better yet, "men act entitled to women's emotional labor."

Men like to act as if commanding womenís attention is their birthright, their natural due, and they are rarely contradicted. Itís a radical act to refuse them that attention.

In any case, I've learned that "rude" is a lot more effective at getting guys to leave me alone on public transit than is contriving to make my "no" sound acceptably polite. Or, Gods forfend, than a lack of "no" at all. You know. The polite but non-inviting response? "Yes. I was." (silence) In my experience, guys who are invested in gaining women's attention will read an invitation into any attention, no matter how negative. I mean, they're after attention. If you give them any, they win. And those kinds of guys tend to define "rude" as "a woman saying no to me in a way I can't pretend to ignore."

Since my very desire to be left alone reads as "rude" to Some Dudes, I have learned to stop worrying about politeness in these situations.

Anyway, he didn't get violent, thank goodness. I have been lucky; I have not yet encountered men who get violent when women tell them no. I damn well know women who have. And I know of some women who have, and who aren't around to tell you the story anymore except by being a statistic. "Men are afraid women will laugh at them; women are afraid men will kill them." This is not exaggeration. This is our world. I have been exceptionally lucky.

No, he just got petulant. "I'm just trying to be nice and have a conversation," he said. "Some people are nice in this world."

That sound you just heard? That was me running all out of fucks to give.

"I was just trying to be nice," said with that resentful tone of voice, is always a lie. No one who says that is trying to be nice. They're trying to oblige the unwilling recipient of their so-called attempt at niceness to render them tribute in the form of affirmation, gratitude, and attention. They're trying to get rewarded for Making a Grand Gesture of Niceness. What they're not doing is concerning themselves with whether their "niceness" is needed or wanted, or even experienced as pleasant.

This is much like the pissy retort, "I was just trying to help!" in response to the helpee informing the "helper" that their attempts to help aren't helping. Doesn't matter if the helpee is polite enough for tea with the Queen; the very fact that they aren't rendering the "helper" sufficient gratitude is enough to condemn them in the "helper's" eyes. "Helper" in scare-quotes, again, because such people aren't concerned with whether their target is actually helped.

Anyway, he got one more dig in when we boarded the bus, about how he didn't want to deal with "aggressive people." Funny how we can define "aggressive" in such different ways. I consider it "aggressive" to refuse to respect someone else's wish not to engage. But whatever. He didn't say boo to me the rest of the trip, and I for one appreciate it. (There's the gratitude you were looking for, Dude.)

So those of you reading this who want to do better, here's your takeaway for the evening.

  • Don't be creepy. Telling me you've been monitoring my behavior is creepy.
  • Having a conversation, like having sex, requires consent from both parties. Respect my "no."
  • When there's no physical "out" available, respecting my "no" becomes even more important.
  • "Nice," like "help," is in the eye of the recipient.
  • You aren't entitled to anyone else's time, attention, or gratitude, unless you're paying them for it. And sometimes not even then.

So that's my story. Guaranteed there will be others as I continue being a woman in public.

you only get one back but also only 24 hours in a day
Wed 2016-06-22 23:56:25 (single post)

The linden tree out front opened its blossoms today sometime between 9:00 AM and noon. I'm guessing, anyway. It only makes sense. I didn't notice smelling it on my way out to the car this morning, but when I got back around lunch time the scent hit me like a ton of bricks dropped out of Paradise.

(Something else smelling paradisiacal, or at least not terrible, is my derby gear. I washed it today, every piece of it. In the washing machine on the delicates/handwash and small load settings, then a little tea tree oil in the rinse, and finally out in the sun to dry, at least until the afternoon's rain storm. I'm still not over the miracle of owning our own washer and dryer. If we'd been still on the Remington Post coin-ops, I'd have had to hand-wash the suckers in the bathtub.)

I had the car so I could get to Longmont where my chiropractic appointment was. Actually, I'd arranged with John to have the car, by dint of dropping him off at work (hence the morning out, the writing session at a cafe near his office, and the return home for noon), so I could make that appointment and Bombshells practice--but I was talked out of going to practice by pretty much everyone I mentioned my foot pains to. "We need you in top form this weekend," pretty much everyone said. "Don't injure your foot!" (That should be capitalized. Pretty Much Everyone is a recurring character in my lightly fictionalized biography.) So I restricted myself and my foot to just the chiro appointment.

I have never gone to chiro before. I mean, discounting the time I went with a "free initial evaluation" coupon to some place in north Boulder that no longer exists, which is just as well. "How are you," I greeted the practitioner, like you do. "Oh, I'm just blessed!" he replied. And I realized the waiting room music was Gospel Lite. Later, after the practitioner noticed me wearing a pentacle, he sort of speed-talked through his speech about "our God-given spine" like he wanted to get it over with as quickly as I did. Anyway, that was years ago, and I've been under no impression that it represented the entire chiropractic field.

But I was never entirely certain I believed in chiro, kind of like I'm not sure I believe in acupuncture. In the case of acupuncture, I don't have to believe or not believe; I intensely dislike being stuck with needles (not many derby skaters have exactly zero piercings and tattoos, but here I am), and my one attempt at putting up with it involved pain and tears and will not be repeated. ("What do you mean you can't stand needles? You play derby! You obviously have a high pain tolerance," says Pretty Much Everyone. I can only reply that blunt force trauma is very different from piercing trauma. I have a high tolerance for the former; for the latter, I have exactly as much tolerance as it takes to receive a flu shot at the pharmacy or a gumfull of anesthetic at the dentist's office without giving in to the urge to flee, screaming, for the nearest bunker, or library, or better still a bunker furnished with a library and also squishy plush animal toys for hugging very fiercely.)

(...Where was I? Right.)

In the case of chiro, well, something needs to be done about my back, and our roller derby league gets a generous discount from a Longmont office that sponsors us. So. I went.

I went. I got interviewed and evaluated. I got x-rayed (turns out cancer survivors must, by law, because cancer and its treatments don't necessarily play nice with long-term health of the skeletal system). I got massaged. A lot. (Her: "Tell me if we go past 'hurts so good' to you wanting to hit me." Me: "Not even close." As long as there are no needles...) My foot even got massaged. I mean the foot with the twinges that are why I'm resting from derby tonight. Then once I was judged loosened up enough for it, I got adjusted. It was surprisingly gentle. The drop tables they use are genius and make things much more comfortable than just getting squished at the track-side table that sometimes appears at roller derby bouts. Also, unlike with the track-side tables, there's an understanding that the patient will be back for repeated treatments over time, so there's no pressure to try to fix everything today.

(Nevertheless, it is remarkably creepy to get a neck adjustment. I know, intellectually, that they're not in the habit of killing their patients, but it's hard to shake the instinctual certainty that I'm about to get my neck snapped. I guess that's why they do that tap-tap-tapping on the other side of your neck and say, "Focus here," so your attention is elsewhere long enough that you're not tensed up with dread about the time they make your neck go crickle-crackle so suddenly.)

I'm to go back in tomorrow for a full body massage to get me loose and limber before the weekend's bouts. Which is fantastic and surprisingly affordable but also this was not in my previous plans for the day before we drive out of town. My plans were a full day of writing, a whole bunch of recorded reading (for AINC and for the weekly Audiofictionette), all my weekend packing, grocery shopping for road trip snacks, and a thorough cleaning of my skate wheels and bearings. All that before going downtown to meet some friends for trivia at Conor O'Neill's. Only John suggested it would be best to bring the car in for a check-up before doing eight hours in upper-80s/low-90s weather, so OK, I'm bringing him to work again and then bringing the car to the shop. And now I also need to be in Longmont at eleven, which means that instead of getting many of those other tasks done at home while waiting for the car, I'll be walking from the shop to the nearest BOLT stop and busing up to Longmont. And back. (Maybe I can get some writing done on the bus?) And it turns out--surprise!--that getting work done on my back makes me exhausted for the rest of the day.

Which sounds like I'm complaining about getting a massage. I'm not! I'm quite looking forward to the actual massage bit. Really, what I'm complaining about is that damn stupid arrow of time and its tendency to keep flying into the future so relentlessly. Isn't that what all the complaints come down to in the end?

All in all, I'm glad I took the time to wash the derby gear today, because I sure wouldn't have time tomorrow. Oh well. Here's to a better back and better sleep going forward, anyway.

dirt under the fingernails means its monday
Mon 2016-06-13 23:58:26 (single post)

Well, not necessarily Monday, but definitely on Monday. Monday's when I have time to get dirty deeds done (dirt cheap). For instance, I've been meaning to fix my bike's flat tire for more than a week, and I finally installed the new tube today. That is an exceedingly dirty deed, and woe betide the amateur bike mechanic who doesn't have a bottle of that magical gritty orange soap on hand. I do not. I used dish liquid. It wasn't ideal, but it at least got me to the point where I wasn't ashamed to handle fresh veg at CSA pick-up.

I poked around along Four Mile Creek on my way up to the farm. I think I've found a new crawfishing hole. There's crawfish there for sure--saw 'em with my own eyes and poked at 'em a little with a stick. (Not a lot! Just enough to see 'em raise their little claws all menacingly.) Question is whether there's enough good-sized critters there for me to go home with a pound or two once in a while. More research is required.

Planted some new additions to my crowded container garden. One of my teammates tends plants at her job, and she planted extra to bring to our practice space for a league fund-raiser. Take a plant, leave a couple bucks in the envelope. Thanks to her my garden includes three very healthy tomato plants, a thriving butternut squash, and, just since Sunday, a bit of lettuce and spinach and kale. Those last three I separated (gently) in order to plant some on the back porch where it's sunny and some on the front patio where it's shady and cool. It's an experiment!

I would take a picture only it's dark now. Maybe tomorrow.

Having a functional bike again at last, I took myself out to dinner and then grocery shopping. Couldn't resist picking up a couple more plant starts while at the store. A burly and bushy little pot of thyme so I can put a few sprigs in the greens gumbo I'm planning, and a wispy but hopeful pot of dill that might one day get big enough to flavor my egg salad. (That day is not today, nor is it likely to arrive for several weeks, so I also bought a packet of dill off the fresh herbs racks in the produce section.) Turns out that in addition to being quite stylish, my Boulder County Bombers sleeveless hoodie is also absolutely perfect for transporting small potted herbs by bicycle, one plant safe and snug in each of the side pockets.

In other news, I'm still sifting compost. I finished the first round of sifting a while back, so there's no longer a pile sitting on a tarp on the back porch. But the second round, where I take the results of the first round and sift it through a kitchen colander, that's still going on. Maybe it's about two-thirds done. Last week I took some of the resulting finer compost/soil, microwave-pasteurized it, let it cool, and then used it to repot my mysteriously dying spaths. Jury's still out on whether they'll survive--I'm still pruning yellow leaves off them--but at least they're no longer rootbound nor hurting for nutrients. I suppose the rest of it will get spread around the other household plants. Whatever doesn't go through the colander has been going back into the compost bucket with the fresh kitchen scraps and handfuls of dry leaves.

So that's the state of dirty deeds around here.

I was actually of two minds about posting to the blog today. I wasn't sure I had anything worth reporting in the normal run of things, and then I heard the news out of Orlando and I really felt like there was no point. But in the end I came here and babbled anyway, mainly because I'm supposed to post something every Monday through Friday and I've been pretty bad about that lately and I'd like to get better about it--begin as you mean to go on, sort of thing--but also because aggressively asserting normality is a valid coping mechanism. So this is me aggressively asserting normality.

Tomorrow will be an aggressively normal Tuesday. There will be writing and there will be roller derby. Both of those are aggressive and normal, each to their own degree.

(There may also be a visit to the possible crawfishing hole. Maybe.)

everything is a metaphor for writing, ask any writer, they'll tell you
Tue 2016-05-24 23:59:07 (single post)
  • 2,506 words (if poetry, lines) long

Like I said, normal life. Which means there isn't much to report. Writing got done in quantity, as did other things.

Finally got a chance to read through the comments on "Stand By..." from my new critique partner. Her critique did what a critique ought--showed me my story through the eyes of someone who isn't the author. This is critically (ha!) important, whether it's simple details that aren't as obvious to the reader as I thought, or more complex things like the last couple sentences of a paragraph that made no sense to anyone who doesn't live inside my head. (Frankly, those particular sentences didn't make much sense to the only person who does live inside my head. At least, not until I'd reread the whole paragraph several times.)

I reread the submission guidelines for a market I was thinking of submitting to before its May 31 deadline. Good thing, too. Little details like "We will not read stories longer than 1,100 words" can change your entire submission strategy! Well. What have I got that's under 1,100 words? Seems like I used to have more drabbles and flash fiction, but seems like I've also been expanding a bunch of my flash fiction into full-length short stories of late. Hm.

On the non-writing front, I played in the dirt today. My compost bin is full, full, full and its contents, despite all being far enough along in the process that they smell more or less like soil, are still decidedly mixed. I turned it out onto a tarp and began screening it, using a bit of plastic mesh scavenged from a discard pile at a nearby construction site. (I am absolutely sure it was discarded. The long snake of straw-inside-mesh-tube was no longer pegged into the ground along deliberate lines, but was bunched up in a pile at the curb. There were holes in it where the straw was spilling out. It was trash and I repurposed it.) Anyway, anything that passed through the mesh went into buckets for soil/compost mix, probably to be screened through a finer sieve and then pasteurized in the oven depending on how meticulous I'm feeling. Anything that didn't (corn cobs, bones, egg shells, wads of leaf mulch, last year's dried squash vines) went back in the bin to decompose some more. I got about halfway through the original contents of the bin, and I'm feeling very accomplished about it.

I am also feeling a little sunburned. I should remember to wear a hat the next time I wind up standing on the back porch for any amount of PM time. That sun was fierce.

There is probably a metaphor or parallel to be drawn between sifting compost and revising a short story, but I am not feeling motivated enough to investigate.

Cover art incorporates original photography by the author along with a public domain engraving of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
this fictionette is late for the bout hurry hurry gear up go
Wed 2016-05-18 23:56:32 (single post)

So last week was not such a good week, writing-wise. But I think this is an improvement? Sort of? Used to be, if I had one good day, I ended up paying for it by having an emphatically not-good day the next day. Well, the week of the 2nd was a damn good week and I paid for it with a crappy week of the 9th.

This week is firmly in the so-so middle, leaning ever so slightly toward awesome.

Anyway, the greatly belated Friday Fictionette for May 13 went up yesterday, under the greatly elongated title "A Week in the Life of a Simple Houseplant." It's about what the word "botanize" should mean, rather than what it disappointingly does.

(Hey! Hey Brassica! That's one of your tomato babies in the cover art! It's the Sungold cherry! It went into the planter today and enjoyed the sunshine! Yayyyy!)

The Friday Fictionette for May 20 will go up a day early, and not just because I want to make up for all the latenesses. No, it's going up early because Friday the 20th is Day 1 of Besterns, a three-day roller derby tournament in south Denver that the Boulder County Bombers All Stars are participating in. I do not expect any writing to get done that day, and wouldn't even if I were guaranteed to remain in the spectator role. I know this because my very first live contact with roller derby was during NaNoWriMo 2011, and I attempted to get some of my 1667 daily words logged from the stands. It did not work very well at all, except to get me noticed by someone else who also writes and skates derby, and now we are friends on Facebook. Yay!

But as things turn out, our team has been whittled to the bone by circumstance and injury such that all the able-bodied crossovers but two have been rostered for the tournament outright, and the remaining two crossovers (I'm one of them) have been rostered as alternates, both of whom will almost definitely be called upon to skate in at least one of the games. Oh, and the early Friday morning bout will be against Denver Roller Derby's Mile High Club who are ranked 8 in the world. But no pressure. All Stars gonna do what All Stars do. Always proud to be part of that, whether on the track or screaming my head off from the stands.

So tomorrow night, Fleur de Beast and Papa Whiskey (that's me and John) check into some hotel somewhere in the vicinity of the tournament venue. While he's at the coach-and-captain's meeting, I'll put up a blog post here announcing the May 20 fictionette and blathering on about whatever else is on my mind. Then we're going to get a very good night's sleep before turning our lives over to ALL DERBY ALL THE TIME for three days. And then I say hi on Monday to tell y'all how everything went.

And that's the plan.

If you can't spot the arugula, that's OK. It's tiny.
transplanting tomatoes and exposition
Thu 2016-05-05 23:59:59 (single post)
  • 2,158 words (if poetry, lines) long

All the things. All the writing things! Every single last one of them, and scrimmage too.

And also gardening! Look, look, I put plants in the dirt. Here are the lovely tomatoes that my teammate gave me, and there's a bunch of arugala seedlings that will hopefully do more than just fall over, and there's also some sunflower starts which it is my fervent desire that the neighborhood squirrel not discover until they less resemble something you find at a salad bar. Since there is no bird feeder out there this year, there has been no squirrel-attracting mess of seeds on the patio floor. So maybe we are no longer on the squirrel's habitual commute. Who knows? I have one more peat pot of sunflower seedings still indoors, just in case.

For today's short story revision session, I finally wrote that phone call that needs to happen during the office scene, the bit where the protagonist is hard at work and her older sister calls her up with a job interview opportunity that the protagonist doesn't want, we have talked about this before, did I ask you to find me job interviews, I don't think so. I thought this might be an opportunity to move some exposition out of the narration, where it was boring, and into the dialog, where it would feel more natural. But as it turns out, not so much. Turns out, the protagonist told her sister, "I am not going to explain this to you again." Which meant she wasn't going to explain things again, not even for the sake of the reader. Drat. Hopefully the thing I wanted to explain will be understood well enough with the hints I was able to include. Hopefully I can get a few eyeballs on it this weekend to tell me whether it worked.

Tomorrow I get to rewrite the board of directors meeting. Or the budget meeting. Or the shareholder meeting? That's the thing. The story as it currently stands can't seem to figure out whether the protagonist works at a non-profit or a shareholder-owned corporation, and whether it's got a board of directors or not, and whether the boss man gets called "the director" or "the CEO" or "the president." Gah. These distinctions are not things I am usually interested in, people! Why do I have to be interested in them now?

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)
  • 1,012 words (if poetry, lines) long

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.

''And would you like an extra fishing rod for just five dollars more?'' ''No, thank you...''
Because John would probably appreciate the warning/reminder before opening the fridge door.
freedom from ac outlet tyranny means taking the laptop fishing NOT SWIMMING
Mon 2015-08-03 23:59:59 (single post)

I got the email stating that my new laptop battery has shipped! It's hanging out in Anaheim CA as we speak. I can only imagine it'll be in my hands by the time the week is out. I'll have 5400 brand new milliamp hours to play with! And I promise to use nothing but good battery longevity practices with this one. At least for the first couple weeks.

And I'll really be able to take my writing out to the crawfish hole.

I know, I know. You're probably getting sick of the near-daily crawfish report. But I'm terribly enthusiastic, so you're getting a crawfish report. Also, today was Monday. Mondays don't mean no writing, but they mean a lot less writing, less enough to allow ample time to play with the mudbugs.

  1. I bought a fishing license this weekend.

My crawfishing expeditions are now totally legit, for I have visited McGuckin Hardware and bought a license. (Actually, I parked at Hazel's Beverage World, walked to McGuckin, bought the license, then walked back and bought beer. Because fishing and beer go together in the LeBoeuf family, even if Colorado alcohol laws won't let me actually bring my beer out to the crawfish hole.) I have paid my small share toward the Colorado Division of Wildlife's efforts to keep our waterways clear and clean and well-researched. Also, I see from the itemized receipt that I've also put my quarter toward Search & Rescue operations, and my seventy-five cents toward the Wildlife Education Fund.

Was this necessary? Why yes, it was necessary.

ADULTS ó People 16 and older are required to buy and carry with them a fishing license to fish or take fish, amphibians and crustaceans, except as prohibited.

Sure, I could probably have got along without one--it's unlikely anyone was going to come check up on my activities and accuse me of poaching. But it's a darn good deal for $36. In addition to the doing-my-bit warm fuzzy and the "Yay I'm legal!" peace of mind, it's like a season-long all-you-can-eat ticket. (CDW imposes no statewide limits on crawfish. Or on bullfrogs. You totally needed to know that.) Generally that monetary amount would just about not quite cover a single afternoon of all-you-can-eat crawfish at Nono's Cafe. Not that I can spice them as perfectly or provide and prepare them in the same quantities as Nono's Cafe, mind you, nor even catch them myself during most of that restaurant's crawfish boil season (Colorado waters warm up a few months later than Louisiana waters, surprising exactly no one). But still.

  1. I've started experimenting with home-built crawfish traps.

I'm working on a series of photos documenting the project, which will accompany a longish blog post going into even more detail that you probably didn't want. For now, here's the short story: I started with these instructions, made some materials substitutions, and improvised in a trial-and-error sort of way from there on out. So far, results are mixed. The trap doesn't come up exactly stuffed, but the one or two mudbugs in there tend to be huge. Huge, like, "If I don't catch any more today I am still bringing this one home and cooking it all by itself and serving it with drawn butter because this, my friends, is a lobster."

So I've got 24 live crawfish in the plastic bin in the fridge tonight, all but one of which were caught in the last hour I was out. (The previous few hours were spent trying out different promising-looking areas downstream, but discovering that they just weren't sufficiently populated to be worth the time spent there. Once I returned to my usual haunts, things got busy. I was even throwing some back for being too smal.) To that double-dozen will be added whatever shows up tomorrow during the morning writing shift (or that part of it which my laptop holds out for), and lunch will be delicious.

I did say *rudimentary* illustrations.
fly free, little fictionette of July
Fri 2015-07-31 23:59:28 (single post)
  • 1,283 words (if poetry, lines) long

It's the last day of the month. Accordingly, one of this month's Friday Fictionettes, "And Did You Bring Enough For Everyone?", has gone free, free as in beer, free for everyone to download as an attractive PDF or to listen to as an MP3 narrated in the dulcet tones of Yours Truly.

It is a fifth Friday, so there is no new Fictionette today. However, I do have one of the July Fictionettes ready to hit the mail tomorrow, right on time, as a quirky typewritten artifact with rudimentary watercolored illustrations and lots of typos corrected by white-out ribbon. Lookit! I took a picture before I stuffed it in the envelope. This is totally a collector's item, y'all. You should sign up to get you some of that while supplies last. Make me type more! Typing is fun!

Speaking of which, I'm pleased to report that the replacement ribbon from Ribbons Unlimited came in earlier this week. It works like a charm. I am no longer typing on a twenty-year-old ribbon, which is kind of important. Maybe not as important as you're thinking; since I only used the typewriter once every two to five years, the ribbon's usable life spanned the two decades fairly well. However, black text was getting unmistakably fainter, and the white corrective ribbon had become all but useless and had ripped in several places. So it's a relief to be able to change it out.

While I was waiting for it to get here, I tried using the ill-fitting universal black-and-red. For some reason, it sagged in the mechanism, so that I'd lose the tops of my letters. Eventually I just turned it over and flipped the type-color switch since red was now on the top and black on the bottom. This worked OK, but I'm glad to have a proper solution at last instead of a kludge. I'm also glad to have a black-and-white/corrective ribbon (whose white half covers all my typos!) instead of black-and-red (whose red half I was going to use... when?).

In other news, I exercised great restraint and did not catch more crawfsh today. I did, however, take my Morning Pages out to the creek. I have the mosquito bites to show for it!

I miss my patio. I can't wait for the building re-painting project to be done so that I can put the furniture back out full time. And my squash, tomato, herbs, pepper plants, and John's sunflower too would really like to be back out on the balcony in full sun...

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