“Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.”
Stephen King

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

''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 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)

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...

productive ways to give in to temptation
Wed 2015-07-29 23:59:59 (single post)

Good couple of sessions on the short story today. I revised the first scene until it was actually a scene, you know? Which is awesome, because until today it was more of a "see Spot run" sketch. Rough drafts are rough, but that was really rough.

I'm much happier with it now. Instead of panicking because the story resembled a page in a coloring book that can only hope for the attentions of a two-year-old with a box of My First Crayola, I get to panic because at this rate there's no possible way I'll have time to get the rest of the scenes anywhere as complete as the first scene is now. But I'll submit it anyway, because I can sleep better at night with embarrassment than with regret, which is usually the right choice except in this case the editors will read it and say to each other, "Who is this person who thinks she can write? Insta-reject her forever." And the story will languish on my hard drive, because I'll never revise it, because when I think about it I'll just die of shame for having sent such an inadequate version of it out for real people to waste their time reading.

That's a much more interesting flavor of panic than the first kind.

(Don't worry. Panicking is normal. None of the above is actually a prophecy. Editors don't insta-reject over a single sub-par submission, and I will revise if I think the version that gets submitted tomorrow is indeed sub-par. This is just the usual Impostor Syndrome acting out. Look, we'll give it a ten-minute time out, maybe it'll learn to behave.)

One of those short story sessions, I must admit, happened out by the creek, because my laptop appears able to hold an hour's charge after all, and I gave in to temptation and went crawfishing again. I know, I know, I said I wouldn't have time, but--look, I actually got the writing done. It worked out. Turns out, the longer you put off checking the line, the more crawfish crawl on over to check out the bait. So I'd work hard until the next few paragraphs were done to my satisfaction, then I'd go pull up two or three medium-to-huge mudbugs, then I'd go back to the story for another few paragraphs, and so on.

Today's bait was chunks of week-old leftover sesame tofu. Our usual order-out restaurant either had a substitute cook that night or has changed their recipe, so that when we checked "medium" like always, we got food so spicy as to be near inedible. I soldiered through my leftover twice-roasted pork with the help of a beer to mitigate the heat, but John wasn't at all tempted to revisit the tofu. I tried it out on the crawfish by staking out a piece, free to all comers, in a shallow stretch of the creek. Within five minutes, a crawfish marched on up and made off with it. It wandered along the bottom of the bank until it found a suitable hole. Then it backed in and settled down to eat, safe in the knowledge that it could keep an eye on its surroundings but no predator could come up behind it. I had a bit of fellow feeling for it. It reminded me of myself, sitting down to breakfast on my front patio, semi-secluded but enjoying the view.

Since tofu is too soft to tie on the line direct, I enclosed the lumps inside pieces of plastic from a produce bag, which I perforated. Then all I had to do was tie the twine around the knotted plastic end and leave some twine dangling for the crawfish to grab. But when I use up the rest of the tofu I'll wrap it in cotton cheesecloth instead, so that if any of it gets away from me into the water I'll be comforted by its superior biodegradability.

In an hour, I got about 15 crawfish (from a shallow spot about about fifteen yards downstream of the bridge), and I fleshed out my main character's flashback, cleaned up the text to make character voices more consistent, and made the creepy encounter on the bus decidedly creepier.

I have become yet another cliche, y'all. I'm now the writer who takes her work fishing. That's a thing, isn't it? That's fine. If it means I get to have fresh-boiled crawfish all summer long, I'm cool with it. I just need to order a new battery for this laptop, that's all.

And I'm thinking etouffee for lunch tomorrow.

rough drafts are rough. don't like it? tough.
Tue 2015-07-21 23:42:19 (single post)

The expansion on the drabble is coming along, but it's coming along rough. I have to continuously remind myself that it's OK, because this really is more of a first draft than a revision. I mean, yes, I'm building off of an already-written 100-word version of the story, but this new version is, for all intents and purposes, all new. The character now has a name, an age, a sister, a mother, a geographical location, a job. The story will have at least five scenes, including the one that got vaguely nodded at by the original drabble. The pacing is different, and the climax will be better developed. It's a whole new story. Of course its first draft will be rough.

At least it is coming along. Getting to spend some time on it every work day feels like getting away with something.

Today also involved some Fictionette work, as usual. The one for this weekend is shaping up to be something like E. Nesbit fanfic from two generations' remove. I'm trying to keep a Nesbit-like voice while firmly setting the story in the era of email. I've also taken some time to begin typing up one of the June fictionettes for my appropriately-tiered Patron (didn't get to it as quickly after the May edition as I'd hoped, but oh well, I'm getting to it now), and I discovered that the task gets ever so much easier when the typewriter ribbon is wound correctly. Who knew? Also, the instructions are not lying when they say that the supply spool goes on the right-hand side; however, it does not mention the existence of a manual ribbon reverse switch, and I had it switched to the reverse direction, so. At this point I'll probably have to retype the first page. It's OK if it's a little messy, but all that fighting with the ribbon resulted in a silly amount of mess.

It is probably time to order a new ribbon, if a ribbon fitting a Sears Tower "Quiet Tabulator" portable can be found. I have a spare "universal" in my desk drawer, but I also have a memory of discovering it to be the wrong width or something. I found a site that sells typewriter ribbon by model number, and discovered that my typewriter's model number is partially hidden under the platen assembly. You can just make it out if you open up the rear enclosure as though to access the tabulator stops, and tilt the hinged bit at just the right angle: 871.600, which seems to match these products. The price for a black-and-white ribbon seems reasonable enough.

I had a lot of fun watercoloring on the typewritten fictionette for May, all the more for doing it outside on the patio. But once again I forgot to take a picture. Maybe I'll remember when I'm illustrating the June artifact.

Not on the patio today, alas. Power-wash operations were underway, in preparation for a new coat of paint on our building. Everything on the balcony out back and the patio out front had to come in. Our entryway looks like a jungle, all crowded with lush spath leaves, and you can barely reach the blinds over the sliding glass door what with all of the containers of tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers getting in the way. It's totally a nightshade paradise over there. All we need are eggplants. And then there are the herbs.

Meanwhile, the birds are so confused. The bird feeders had to come inside, too. There's a young female grackle who keeps perching on the balcony rail and eying the place where the feeder's supposed to hang, as though to say, "Mama told me this is where food comes from! Where did the food go? There is supposed to be food! If I wait here, maybe food will appear?" A couple of sparrows actually flew up there as though under the impression that the feeder had simply turned invisible. I feel sort of bad for them.

Just wait 'til the end of the week, little buddies! 'Til then I'm sure you're capable of finding your own grub. Your mama must have taught you about more than just suet cakes!

The unicorn looking on is Velvet. He's been with me almost all my life, and he likes to be included in things.
outmoded, inconvenient, messy, elegant, satisfying
Wed 2015-07-15 23:37:55 (single post)
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Pictured here is my second-hand typewriter, a Sears Tower which appears to be identical to the 1950s-era portable Smith-Corona Sterling. I bought it from a co-worker back in the late '90s. Then, upon my lamenting that it had features I'd no idea how to use, I was sent a copy of the Sterling's owners' manual by a Usenet acquaintance who guessed my typewriter was largely the same as his. (This was before it was trivial to find PDFs of owners' manuals of just about everything online--though, admittedly, I haven't found the exact document my friend sent me. This is the closest match I've located. My typewriter doesn't have those CL and SET buttons on the right.) That gift empowered me to use the ingenious Page Gage (sic) feature to get consistent bottom margins every time. It's a seriously clever thing.

Five years ago, this typewriter was instrumental in drafting the first recognizable version of "First Breath." This week it'll be key in fulfilling some long overdue Patreon pledge rewards. I owe two, soon to be three "fictionettes in your mailbox" to my $5+ tier patron. This is where, at the end of the month, I type out one of the month's fictionettes, correct some of the typos with white-out, watercolor and scribble and sketch on it, and send it off with my thanks.

At the moment, I am offering this thank-you to the first ten $5+ patrons. That may have been overly optimistic. I am thinking of lowering that maximum to five. A thousand words feels a lot longer on a typewriter than on a laptop. Accordingly, I find myself sometimes revising on the fly and cutting out phrases that no longer seem absolutely necessary. Or rearranging phrases because I got ahead of myself and I am not going back to correct it.

Also, mastering the Dvorak keyboard layout seems to have come at the expense of being able to touch-type in Qwerty. So I do a lot of looking up and looking down between the computer screen and the typewriter keys and the typewriter output, and losing my place in the original document, and shit there went the 1-inch marker on the Page Gage about two lines ago, I guess the bottom margin is going to be a little smaller than planned...

I'm not really complaining. I'm just griping. The difference is, complaints are meant to be actionable but griping is only recreational. I don't seriously want not to do this. I'm enjoying the exercise--reacquainting myself with the typewriter, producing a literary artifact, enjoying the messy elegance of the results (it's not the most precise instrument, this Tower), and creating a physical object as a token of my appreciation. And sending it in the mail! Having an excuse to mail physical letters is wonderful. It's inconvenient and outmoded and I love it. I'm in love with the written word in all its forms. Look, I do my morning pages with a fountain pen. Of course I love the typewriter and the U.S. Post.

Anyway, I intend to finish the May mailable tonight and maybe produce tomorrow the one that was due at the end of June. That'll will put me back on track in time to type up the July mailable at the end of the month. Huzzah! Getting caught up is the best!

a successful monday, with all the stuff taken care of
Tue 2015-07-07 01:32:45 (single post)

Monday is "get stuff done" day--the more stuff, the better, and better still if it's stuff that's overdue. Today was a very good Monday. It involved the following stuff:

Reconfigure bedroom electricity access. This was a complex process of furniture-moving, electric application inventorying, and delicate negotiation. As such, it got put off for weeks. We finally took the time to assess today: Which things can just get plugged in and stay there? Of the other things, which need three prongs and which need two? How far may cord travel before someone's going to trip over things in the dark? Oh, and you've got two less sockets over there once the lights go out because they're on the light switch circuit.

Things appear to be stable, which means all phones will get charged, neither laptop need run out its battery, other necessary appliances will be reliable, and peace will reign at bedtime henceforth.

Found a place for the remainder of the office board-and-brick bookshelf. There are five 6-foot planks and ten bricks that make up the bookshelf that, for my entire childhood, lived in the "toyroom" upstairs in my parents' house. When Mom and Dad were ready to get rid of it, John and I brought it up to... oh, goodness. To Oregon. We were still living in Oregon at the time. That means we've had this bookshelf since 1997. Anyway, it stood five shelves tall there, and in our first apartment in Boulder, and in our house that we just moved out of. When we moved into the new place, I put three of its five shelves together under the window in the office, but that left two planks and four bricks just sitting around doing nothing.

Today we tried putting them on the dresser in the bedroom, which also happens to be six feet long (or close enough). With pillowcases on the bricks to make them look a little less brickish, the effect is surprisingly nice. The room suddenly feels uncluttered and open. Probably because the dresser had to get decluttered before this and the previous item could happen; probably also because some of the remaining clutter got organized onto the new shelving.

Did the books. On time for once, too. So the bills are paid again, and my inbox is once more empty. Ahhh.

This task included an hour on webchat with Comcast's support staff. Our transfer of services to the new address created a new account number, which did not automatically connect itself to my online billing account. This was awkward, because our billing is only online. We haven't gotten a statement since we moved, which meant last month I had to visit the Comcast office and pay three months' worth of bills all at once.

Well, the techs were able to get our current account linked to the login, but I can't do much with it until I have a PIN, which the system keeps failing to send me. But they processed my payment for this month's bill, so things aren't urgent. Yet.

Connected the Xfinity Digital Voice signal to the landline jacks. Because I was tired of waiting out in the living room for Comcast to call with my PIN, because that was where the sole "landline" phone in the house was, because that's where the Xfinity gateway was. I'd much rather wait in the office, where I could usefully get stuff done while I was waiting. So I put together a frankensteinian mess of phone cords connected to more phone cords using old Qwest DSL filters as glue, and I ran the resulting length of cord from the Xfinity gateway to the nearest landline jack...

...which happened to be in the kitchen because I don't know what the people who built this place were thinking. I guess they figured that the living room/dining area/kitchen really were only one room, albeit a very long one, so why have two phone jacks? Why have a phone by the sofa when you've got one you have to stand up to answer in the kitchen? Why indeed?

Anyway, once I'd run a line from the gateway to the "nearest" phone jack, the rest of the landline jacks in house got dial tone. I can take landline calls in the office again. Whee! Now all I have to do is run another frankensteinian phone cord across the room, because the jack doesn't happen to be on the wall where I chose to put my desk. (Also I need to find where I hid the cable tacks.)

But of course the Comcast call with the PIN never did come. Nor did the email. I'll give it a week to arrive in the postal mail (the analyst swore up and down she'd sent it and it would arrive in 2 to 5 days) before I gripe at them again.

Cleared Gardens 8 and 9! Woo, one of these things isn't like the others, is it? Those being work and this being a game. Too bad. I get to play games sometimes. I did my daily writing work almost as soon as I got out of bed! I deserve some game time. Thththbbbp!

And I hadn't played Eden in so very long. Not for many months before we moved, in fact. I recall being very frustrated with the end of Garden 8, where the last Spectra is barricaded in behind a bunch of movable rocks; you have to hit a bunch of switches in the right order and quickly before everything resets. I think? Maybe they aren't on a timer and I just accidentally reset things because I was panicking because I was running very low on energy--I mean, my "oscillator" was almost completely "out of tune"--

In any case, with John's help (point "That one! Now--back onto the right side--" point "That one! No, the one below it!") I got that sucker. Then, after we took care of the bedroom electricity and furniture rearrangements, I bulled my way through Garden 9. Now my hands hurt.

Going to bed on time. Maybe? Let's find out--

next time please super-size my pleasant summer day meal deal
Tue 2015-06-02 23:18:48 (single post)
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Today was one of those fresh summer days that wants to come in through every window. I opened up the patio door and the office window, which have screens. I opened up the front door, which, oddly, doesn't; it has something I want to call a screen door, but it has no actual screens in it. It has three glass panels. I figured out how to slide one of them up, but, again, there's no screen. One must choose between air in or bugs out. One cannot have both, at least not until I install a screen or just replace the door.

Replacing the "screen" door would probably be fine. Its latch is broken, too, such that it's difficult to get it to latch shut from the inside and entirely impossible from the outside.

Nevermind! The fresh summer day came in by the patio door and the office window, and extra light came in by the not-really-a-screen-door, and I found the energy to get some household chores done. Laundry, dishes, taking out the recyclables. Topping off the bird feeder. Attempting to rescue spinach seedlings that got dug up in the night, probably by that jerk the squirrel. (Seriously, I need to just bring all the plants in overnight. This is ridiculous.)

I even took a rag and some lemon oil and my spinning wheel outside, and I made a first pass at cleaning off the storage unit grime. All the dust came off, but there are stubborn stains on the treadles, probably from years of having that little bottle of spinning wheel oil hanging upside and dripping onto them. Still, some progress was made. At least the poor thing is no longer gross to handle.

What I'd really like to do is invite fiber-geek friends over and have a little spin-in on that front patio. Now that the summer heat has reached us, it's no longer a dim and freezing cold dungeon. But it's not so full of sun as to be wearying, either. And I've got happy little shade-tolerant plants hanging out there, the decade-old spaths and the new baskets of impatiens and begonias. It would be lovely to sit out there and sip tea and spin yarn (literally) and also spin yarns (figuratively).

Alas, I didn't get to any spinning today. Nor the piano. Mostly I spent the afternoon fighting with Patreon's new input interface while turning "Because You Weren't There" into the May 2015 Fictionette Freebie. The new interface is, in theory, a great improvement over the old. Not only can you input rich text via HTML now, but you can also upload new attachments to, and change out the image of, an existing creation. (You couldn't do that before. I KNOW.) However, there's a bug such that depending on the click path you use to get to the edit interface, the "save" button might not actually save your changes. That is, if you click through to a single post view, and then click Edit, you're fine. But if you click the Edit button attached to the post where it appears as an item in your posts stream, it will be a no-go.

But the post I wanted to edit--the plain-text excerpt of the Fictionette--I had created through the Activity Stream interface rather than through the Creations interface. Which isn't a distinction that ought to matter, since the new interface files both of them under "Creator Posts" as opposed to "All Posts" (that is, posts you posted, or messages your Patrons posted to you). But it matters this much: Posts created under the Activity Stream rubric appear to no longer have an Edit button within the single post view. I can only get in to edit them via the button on the item in the posts stream. Which click path, as I said, leads to a non-functional Save Post button.

Also, have I mentioned that since the interface update, some Patron-only posts got set to Accessible By Everyone? And probably vice versa? Pardon me while I go double-check the status of every single item in my archive since September 2014. Whee.

Finally, after beating my head against that brick wall for far too long, I struck a compromise. I gave up on trying to edit the post, and just created a whole damn new one, with the full text in HMTL and the links to the PDF and MP3 and also the announcement that it was now free for all to download regardless of your pledge tier or Patron status. And I emailed Patreon's support staff with the bug report, which hopefully isn't too rambling for them to understand. The above two paragraphs should give an idea of whether I succeeded; the email was more rambling than that, I fear. Then, at last, I turned my attention to Other Matters.

Which, it being now an hour until I had to leave for roller derby practice, meant things like getting into my derby clothes, cooking myself dinner, packing up my skate gear, and things like that.

Here's hoping tomorrow's work day doesn't get whittled away by technological frustrations like today's did. And that I get all the things done. And still get time to spin yarn and practice piano and maybe play a little on Puzzle Pirates too. And read blogs. And go for a long walk around Sale Lake. And...

Optimism! It's what's for midnight snackies!

three happy things and one late thing
Fri 2015-05-22 23:34:06 (single post)

Let's concentrate on the positive. We got the piano tuned today! And the piano bench is sort of fixed, enough to sit on at least; Monday I hope to have it fixed in a more permanent fashion. So I sat down and played the piano today for the first time since we moved. Since months before we moved, in fact.

In the piano bench, which I emptied out in order to fix the piano bench, there's a heap of sheet music that belonged, I think, to one of my aunts. I suspect they were handed down to her from a previous generation. There is a Victor Herbert songbook with pieces whose copyrights range from MCMVI to MCMXXXIII. Victor Herbert died in MCMXXIV, which is the copyright date on a couple of the songs in the book.) I played through one of them--as best I can, that is, which is to say slowly and with many pauses to figure out the next chord. It was pretty dang melodramatic. I think it was supposed to be a cheerful song, though.

In other cheerful news, we have a hummingbird. Or multiple hummingbirds, I don't know. They jingle-buzz around the building, on both sides, and you can often catch sight of one zipping from tree to tree. I hung a feeder outside my office window in hopes of having hummingbirds visit me while I write, but almost a week went by and they didn't find it. Then, today, a hummingbird buzzed our patio window--just flew right into the balcony space and hovered meaningfully in front of the sliding glass door. "All right, already," I said, and moved the feeder from the office window to the patio. And now we have a new friend.

Back when we lived in Oregon, we had a hummingbird feeder outside the kitchen window. We weren't always vigilant about keeping it full, but the hummingbirds were not shy about telling us it had run dry. They'd start buzzing every other window of the house, upstairs and down, hovering outside the glass and going vvvrrrreeeee! in a pointed kind of way. I think today's visitor was doing something like that.

I brought a pair of cheap field glasses to the bedside so I could get a closer look next time the hummer came in for a sip (which it did about once every 20 minutes for the rest of the afternoon), but I haven't quite identified the species. It's got a gray-or-green body, a white-or-light-gray chest, and a reddish throat, which could be one of several species that WhatBird.com suggests for Colorado. My best guess is a male broad-tailed hummingbird. I suppose it could also be a calliope, but I didn't notice that striping/striation pattern in the red/maroon throat of my visitor. (WhatBird.com does not suggest the ruby-throated hummingbird this far west.)

One more happy thought: Roller derby tomorrow! Our first home bout of the season--at least, this will be the first competitive event we're hosting in 2015. The January event was a mix-up tournament. Tomorrow's will feature actual rated-and-ranked teams. I'll be skating with the Bombshells against the visiting team from Pueblo in the first bout of the evening--that'll start at 6:00 PM, with the frontman for Big Head Todd and the Monsters as the celebrity whistleblower starting the first jam for us. Right after that, our All Stars will take on Denver Roller Derby's Bruising Altitude.

I was going to put an article up on AXS.com about the event, but literally minutes before I was ready to upload the article, I got an email from AXS saying that they would no longer accept "game-related sports news or timely recaps." Argh. I was not prepared to try to turn it into some sort of "5 things to watch for" listicle at this late date, either, so I just let it go. You get this blog post instead.

$15 at the door! Doors open at 5:30! I'm assuming Georgia Boys will be there, with barbecue and mac & cheese for all. I know there will be lots of local beers and distilled spirits for the grown-ups. Come watch me skate, and then come see me at the fund raiser table during the All Stars bout (at halftime, of course; otherwise you should be watching the All Stars skate, because they are awesome) and help us keep our travel fund in the black! And speaking of the All Stars, keep your eyes on them this season. Latest WFTDA rankings put them at #33, which means this year may well be Boulder's D1 debut.

Meanwhile, it's Friday, and there is a conspicuous absence of Fictionette. I hope to get it up this weekend (where have we heard that tale before? but I really, really mean it this time. Well, Monday for sure). It was taking me longer tonight than I'd budgeted for, and it didn't seem wise to stay up late with such a big day looming over me tomorrow. So you will just have to stay tuned for tales of painted shipwrecks and sinister countdowns, I'm afraid.

Cover art incorporates a photo of an oven taken by Wikimedia Commons user ArnoldReinhold and licensed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
a fictionette, a typewriter, and a new occasion for carpet snow-angels
Mon 2015-05-11 23:53:58 (single post)
  • 779 wds. long

Ok! So. Got a Friday Fictionette for you. It's the one for May 1, so I've still got last week's and this week's to go before I'm all caught up. But! I have been doing all sorts of catching up things, and then some.

First things first. The May 1 Friday Fictionette is called "To Come Before The Queen" (click for excerpt and also links to full versions). At 779 words, it's probably the shortest one I've posted yet. Any shorter and it would feel like a waste of time to publish an excerpt. But it's precise. Once I had the basic structure and story in mind, I set myself the challenge of writing only half the dialogue such that the other half could be inferred. It's a neat exercise, and it forces you to really think about word choice.

I wanted the cover art to be a huge honkin' commercial oven like the one the pastry chef baked hundreds of breakfast treats in every morning, back in the university dorm cafeteria where I worked in the mid-90s. You really could imagine a grown woman climbing in and sleeping in it at night. Alas, Google gave me very slim pickings. I might as well have just photographed our own oven (in which John, incidentally, has been baking lots of bread and other yummy things lately; I am, even more so than usual, a very fortunate spouse).

Another thing I caught up on this weekend: I typed up a Fictionette on my typewriter for the first time! See, at the $5/month pledge tier, I send you one of the month's Fictionettes typed up on an actual typewriter with actual typos and everything. Also illustrated capitals, watercolor doodles, and other unique surprises. Now, in my eternal optimism, I limited this tier reward to the first 10 Patrons to sign up for it. However, I think I'll have to lower it to 5. Why? Because 1400+ words on a typewriter takes a lot longer than I remembered! And not just because I'm no longer able to touch-type flawlessly in QWERTY! (I lost that skill when I learned the DVORAK layout. Apparently my fingers only have room for one layout for typing 90wpm with my eyes closed in.)

At least we now live on the bottom floor, with nothing beneath us but the garage. I'd be worried about shaking the floorboards otherwise.

So that was cool, and it's already gone out in the mail. (I was going to take a picture, but I forget to before I sealed it up in the envelope. Oh well. Next week!)

And here's one more cool thing I did this weekend:

I wrote a whole brand new story.

I did! It was for a contest on Codex, the annual Title Rummage Sale, where you pick a title from the virtual hat and then you write a story for it. I just barely made the lower word limit, and the story is about as drafty as a draft can get, but I finished it and I uploaded it and people are going to read it. And then I can make it better, and submit it somewhere.

That's exciting! It's been months since I last submitted something anywhere! Despite my intention to send out something new every month, and resubmit something every week! Well. Better late than never, right?

Also also also, I cleaned up the office. I took most of the boxes and things that have been hogging the floor and the futon since we moved in, and I shoved them all in the closet. Actually, I arranged them neatly and thoughtfully in the closet such that they can be accessed whenever necessary. So now I have a functional closet, and I can sit or sleep on the futon, and I can walk from the office door to the office window without dodging boxes.

How awesome is that? So awesome.

I... I think I have to make snow-angels in the carpet again.

'xcuse me.

cracking the ice and climbing back in
Tue 2015-04-28 23:43:24 (single post)
  • 5,391 wds. long

Today was the first time in mumble-mumblety weeks that I managed to squeak out some work on the short story revision. Finally! That's what I call literary excitement.

It had been so long that I was honestly daunted about coming back to it. (Not that the project is anything less than daunting at the best of times, mind you.) I spent more hours this afternoon than I care to admit simply putting it off and putting it off. Which meant that everything on the day's agenda slated for after work on the short story was also getting put off.

Finally I just opened the darn project and read what I had written on the new draft so far. This, as always, magically led to me making notes in the margins and tweaking the text. For the better, I hope. Cleared up a logical progression here, headed off a potential point of confusion there, stuff like that. When I put it away this evening, the draft had progressed only two paragraphs or so beyond the point where I'd left off mumble-mumblety weeks before, but the overall word count had dropped by about 100 words. And of course there's simply having cracked the ice on it today, which means it shouldn't take me all day long to get into it tomorrow.

Which is good, because tomorrow I have volunteer reading in the morning and roller derby in the evening. I will need to be exceedingly on the ball about getting my work done in between those things. Hooray for the Pomodoro Challenge Timer! Despite its being studded with Default Dudes, it does help.

It has recently been upgraded, in fact. It now has a feature called "Don't judge me." If you check that, it stops nagging you. That is, it doesn't repeatedly whistle at you if you don't hit the button immediately. It just whistles once when it's time to start your next work session, and then it leaves you alone. Also, activating this feature deactivates achievements and rankings, so that you don't get messages about having been demoted for taking a week's vacation (or a week's trip to Indiana in order to live, breathe, eat and sleep roller derby, which is like a vacation only much less restful).

Of course I immediately checked it. Sometimes I have a darn good reason to be a minute late coming off my 5-minute break. Also, once, when I started up the app and opened the WORK screen, but didn't immediately click START POMODORO, it began blowing on its coach whistle non-stop while I scrambled to shut down Bluestacks. This was embarrassing. With "Don't judge me" checked, that is unlikely to happen again.

On the other hand, with "Don't judge me" checked, if I remember to click SKIP BREAK but then forget to click START POMODORO, well, there I am without a timer and not knowing it because the app isn't going to let me know about it. This is a thing that happened. I think I actually worked longer than I would have otherwise, though. "Gee, aren't 25 minutes done yet? ...oh."

I don't know. I may yet deactivate the feature in the end. For now, I'm happy to have the app's timer functions and stat tracking without its "motivational" nagging habits (which I honestly don't find that motivational).

Anyway, I'll be using the app a lot tomorrow.

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