“Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!
The book of my enemy has been remaindered
And I am glad.”
Clive James

author: Nicole J. LeBoeuf

actually writing blog

It's OK. The tomatillos can wait.
less stress more veg
Tue 2016-09-27 23:59:59 (single post)

I woke up this morning with ALL THE STRESS because tomorrow is departure day. I've been excited and happily looking forward to "Five days in New Orleans, yay!" and "Double overnight train trip, bliss!" since I made the reservation, but apparently "Oh shit I have so much to do before I leave town" didn't become emotionally real until my alarm went off today.

Thus, interlude with soothing vegetables. In theory, anyway. I am trying not to think things like "Gotta cook and puree the tomatillos in another batch of salsa verde which I will freeze before I leave" and "Wash carrots! Chop carrots! Bag up carrots for trip! Make salad-to-go! Egg salad and cucumber sandwiches! Must also get to grocery for trail mix, hard cheese and beef jerky!" and also "I'm going to be gone nine days, I have to boil down all the leafy greens now!" No. Hush. Soothing vegetables. Vegetables with a respectable shelf life. It'll be fine. Ssh.

I've been stressing and snappish and despairing and panicky by turns. It's been icky. Finally, on the drive over to roller derby practice, I realized that by 9:30 I'd be even more panicky and also exhausted from practice, and that discretion was the better part of valor, and that it might be kinder to myself to skip practice in order to Get Pre-Travel Stuff Done. So I dropped John off, packed up my gear (I'd left it at the practice space rather than shlep it home Sunday), and turned right around for home. And, damn, I Got Stuff Done! I'm in a much happier place now.

Still, some things remain necessary to do before I go:

  • Type up the September Fictionette Artifacts to mail from New Orleans
  • Put my outdoor wheels on my skates
  • Do all the laundry
  • Pack all the things
  • Call the car rental place to reserve a car and also pick-up service at New Orleans Union Station
  • Scrapbook all the browser tabs I have open that contain short fiction I want to read on the train
  • Download podcasts
  • Do the usual volunteer reading for Wednesday
  • Visit the grocery store to finish provisioning my snack/meals-on-train bag

This is not an impossible list, thankfully. Especially since I'm not exhausted from derby. Also, one of the tasks I'd accomplished this evening was something I'd been Procrastinating Through Dread, and it is scientifically proven that accomplishing such a task frees up three times as much energy as the task itself requires. So I'm actually feeling pretty chipper now. My get-up-and-go has arrived with a can-do attitude in tow.

Meanwhile the list of things I need to do but which can wait until I am actually on the train, or at least until I'm at Denver Union Station, is much shorter:

  • Finish preparing the Friday Fictionette that was for September 23
  • Other daily writing tasks
  • Giving some long-overdue attention to the short fiction revision queue

In other words, I finally get to write. Yay for trains!

i see what she means now
Mon 2016-09-26 23:43:12 (single post)

Story time! Some ten or so years ago, I was possessed of a sudden desire to learn to fly. I had walked from my house to the Boulder Municipal Airport, where I saw a sign that said LEARN TO FLY HERE and watched a little plane do a touch-and-go, and I thought, "That's right--I could!"

At the time, I had a neighbor the next stairwell over who was a flight attendant. Upon hearing my thought, she immediately tried to dissuade me. "No, no, you don't want to do that. Those little planes are awful. They shake and they rattle and you can feel every tiniest bit of turbulence like you're going to fall out of the sky any minute, and they're noisy. You know those lawnmowers that you ride on? They're like lawnmowers with wings. And that's what you'd log your first kajillion hours in. You don't want to do that, trust me."

I found her reaction odd. I'd been expecting encouragement. I mean, she was up in planes all the time. Why would she want to discourage another person--another woman, even--from being a pilot? By contrast, my mother, whom I'd expected to get nervous and scared at the thought of her daughter risking her life fifteen hundred feet in the air every week, got really excited about it when I told her. "You can do anything you put your mind to," she told me. "If you want to learn to fly, do it!"

The short story is, I began taking lessons and eventually earned my private pilot's license. Mom was thrilled; she bragged to friends that her daughter was a renaissance woman: "She writes stories, programs web pages, spins her own yarn, and flies planes." I don't remember what my neighbor had to say about it. She eventually moved away, but not before contriving to have a bridge-burning fight with just about everyone in the condominium building whom she knew, including me. (In my case it was a fight about my expecting her to bring used wine glasses back to the kitchen or at least stand them upright on a table when she was done with them rather than leaving them on the couch for me to discover between the cushions the next day. Or something like that.)


I haven't been in the cockpit for years--since before I began skating roller derby, in fact--but that's not the point. The point is, today I learned how to operate a ride-on lawnmower. And whatever else my neighbor was wrong about, she was right about this much: that machine really is rather reminiscent of a Cessna 172. The engine noise is similar, if not to the same scale. Earplugs help. The lawnmower also has in common with a small plane the throttle that you sometimes have to futz with to get things started. It has a checklist for startup and shutdown, if a shorter one than the airplane does. And if its engine suddenly dies on you, your first course of action is to see if you can restart it. Just like in a plane, except without that fiddly "set attitude for best glide speed" or "identify a an emergency landing location" stuff.

And that's my story. The end.

tomatillos rolling everywhere
friday service is delayed, please stay tuned
Fri 2016-09-23 22:11:14 (single post)

This week's Friday Fictionette will trickle on into the weekend, because it's been One of Those Weeks. So instead I present you with a picture of this week's farm share, also late for the same reason. The sharp-eyed among you will notice the little baggie of tomatillos next to the jalapeño and are possibly wondering "So, when's salsa night?" Salsa night will be Sunday. John and I will make salsa, eat salsa with chips, and possibly watch the latest episode of Steven Universe. Details are still up in the air.

Tonight was zucchnni, garlic, kale (or possibly kohlrabi leaves), and sausage night. With bits of farm bread added to the pan at the last minute to soak up the sausage grease. The sausage was cheddar bratwurst.

Tomorrow night will be marinated chicken night. I have all this beer I didn't drink in time to enjoy as beer, so I will enjoy it as a marinade. The chicken will be a bunch of boneless, skinless thighs from the SALE bin at Whole Foods. Like it just knew I had all this beer to marinate it in, or something.

Next week is looking a little less likely to be One of Those Weeks, because of Deliberate, Assertive Action and also I'll be getting on a train for New Orleans. Traaaaaaain. Five days back home bracketed by hours and hours of just me and my computer on a train. BLISS.

About this, more later, inevitably.

Cover art incorporates orignal photography by the author, who really should have taken the picture while it was still daylight.
this fictionette is part of a complete breakfast
Fri 2016-09-16 23:56:46 (single post)
  • 1,051 words (if poetry, lines) long

The Friday Fictionette for September 16 is up. It's "The Starring Role" (subscriber links: ebook, audiobook) and it's about fairy tales and protagonizing in them. It's not a lot of fun, really. Lots of ashes to sweep. Lots of fiddly grains and seeds to sort. And then at the end of it all, what do you get? A prince, sure, but is he really all that and a bag of Zapp's Cajun Dill Gator-Tators? Also, fairy tales generally don't stock Zapp's potato chips. *Sad.*

It's bout weekend for the Boulder County Bombers "Bombshells" team--tournament weekend, actually. Two days. Seven teams. A heck of a lot of roller derby. We went in this evening and taped the track, set up tables and chairs, erected a scoreboard projection screen, and arranged other assorted props and items of furniture. The place is set up and more or less ready to go. Skaters begin checking in bright and early tomorrow morning, and the first bout begins at 10:00 AM. The last bout of the day won't be over until at least 7:30 PM, and then we do it all over again on Sunday. YOU WANT TO BE THERE. No, you do, you really do. I'm going to be there. So should you.

Dang. This blog post is a complete and balanced breakfast, isn't it? Writing, derby, grains and legumes, potato chips. All it needs is coffee or something.

advice to alternate universe me
Thu 2016-09-15 23:18:32 (single post)

Note to self: Do not begin Frances Hardinge's Cuckoo Song as bedtime reading because you WILL NOT be able to put the book down (it was almost every bit as good as advertised) unfinished, and a night of only four hours of sleep is not conducive to getting anything productive done the next morning.

Possibly this is a note to an alternate universe version of myself for whom the advice does not yet come too late.

It really was a very good book.

impending kettle-bell hell and possibly too much beer
Wed 2016-09-14 23:44:47 (single post)

I'm just back from viewing D2 footage with some of my teammates. I have thoughts. I will probably incorporate those thoughts into the long-delayed blog post, tentatively titled "What I Did On My Summer Vacation in Wichita," that I've been meaning to write for going on a month now. I will probably write it tomorrow. Definitely not tonight. Tonight I do not have any thoughts. It is late and I am tired. I am also inordinately full of beer, having hung out at Skeye Brewing again after my chiro appointment and having purchased a growler of their Jinxie Wheat. It's a little more bitter than I generally like my wheat beers, but that did not stop me from drinking it all afternoon and evening.

(When I do write that long-delayed D2 blog post, I need to remember Whiskey's comment about back-block penalties and chiropractic treatments. Not now. Tomorrow. I'm just dropping this parenthetical here so I stand a chance of remembering tomorrow.)

Note: Turns out, the restaurant I ordered the crispy duck from last week was Spicy House. I ordered from them again today. They're on Eat24.com, so I placed my order over the internet while I was still at Cafe of Life enjoying a post-traction ice pack on my neck. Food arrived maybe five minutes after I arrived at Skeye. Super convenient! I had the Seafood Delight this time. Its portions of jumbo shrimp, fish, scallop, and squid are exceedingly generous.

Anyway, I arrived home tired and a little tipsy, but not so much of either that I couldn't accept a little help from Papa Whiskey with my push-up form. We got to talking on the drive home about what I need to be a more effective blocker on the track, and, in his opinion, it's more muscle. He made an off-hand comment about "if we could just pack about 50 pounds more muscle on you," then, after acknowledging that this was quite probably an exaggeration, he noted that, realistically, when I go to block an opponent and my timing is good, my technique is good, but the execution still somehow just fails, it's a matter of strength.

Honestly, says he, what I really need to do is start lifting. I say, cool. Please to suggest some baby steps toward incorporating lifting into my life. So what we come up with is, let's start with 10 push-ups twice a week, then add some kettle-bell hell in a couple weeks. So we spent a few minutes finding space in the house where we could have me do push-ups and swing a kettle-bell to make sure my form is correct, which is to say, likely to work the target muscle groups and also unlikely to injure me.

I should point out that extra-curricular one-on-one strength-training is not in the job description of the Boulder County Bombers Head Coach position. That John tolerates, even encourages, my continuing to pick his brain at home, is rather above and beyond the call of duty. I recognize this and appreciate it accordingly.

But anyway, so, that's why Fleur is just that much more tired tonight. Yay?

Hey look there's CORN!
life is what obliges you, when you're planning to be virtuous, to be virtuous in some other way
Tue 2016-09-13 22:56:54 (single post)

Ever had one of those mornings where you wake up ready to do all the things, and then life gets in the way? Right. Like that. I even got up early for an 8:00 a.m. dental cleaning, came home around 9:00, and didn't go back to bed. I was awake all of the hours, but life kept wedging its way into every one of them. Appointments! Errands! Cleaning! Importunate hummingbirds!

Thankfully, I was able to convince myself with a clean conscience that some bits of life counted as writing. "Business copy-writing, pro-bono." Sound good? Right. Well, that bit of business copy-writing pretty much filled up my afternoon shift and brought me to four-hour mark; this blog post will bring me to the coveted five-hour mark.

And if it doesn't... well, I have ever so many other writing tasks need doing. And for once I'm not suffering a total enervated poop-out after derby. (I had derby tonight. Yes, my team's still on break, but heck if I'm going to miss a RollerCon debriefing practice. That's where they teach us all the things!) So. Hi.

Here's a bit of life that is tasty: the weekly CSA pick-up. The bread's a walnut sourdough this time because the regular wasn't available sliced at the moment and I was feeling adventurous. John seems to like it too; he's been munching on it while taking notes on the bout footage our team's going to be studying tomorrow evening. Collards, kale, and chard are all making an appearance. So are tomatoes, cucumber, and squash. Peppers are back--turns out they really are just bell peppers, despite that last week's did have more of a hot edge than I expect in a bell. Must have been all that hot and dry weather (where did it go, by the way? Woke up this morning and it was overcast and drizzly. Are you telling me fall is finally here?). And, making its exciting debut (at least in this venue), corn! These ears were grown at a farm in Longmont which appears to have set up a trade with the Diaz Farm for mutual fresh yumminess.

Today was a good day for eating farm fresh goodness. Breakfast was one of those hashbrown/omelet/fritter concoctions featuring kohlrabi leaves still kicking around in the crisper drawer. Also garlic, because by now I've got oodles. Lunch was Annie's Mac & Cheese, var. "Peace Parmesan," featuring kale and yellow squash from the Diaz Farm and ground Italian-style sausage from Spring Tree Farms. That would be the show pigs farm in Longmont CO, not the wedding location in Tennessee--although Baconator has hosted a few weddings on her farm, to be sure, and they were lovely affairs. But mainly she's about the pigs--hence the skate name--and she always gives her roller derby league advance notice when she's about to process a critter into sausage. We buy it up like woah, because it is delicious.

Cooking experiments inspired by Patricia McKillip's The Book of Atrix Wolfe also continue, sometimes almost by accident. Last week Wednesday I left my chiropractic appointment and wandered up the road to Skeye Brewing. Skeye has beer, and not much else. But Skeye wants you to drink more of the yummy beer, and if that involves helping you pick a tasty nearby food joint to order delivery from, then by all means. I ordered the crispy duck from one of the Chinese options (I honestly don't remember which; it's the one with a minimum delivery order of $12 instead of $15. I'll pay better attention next time). I brought home the bones and what shreds of meat I wasn't able to devour all in one sitting, and I wound up over the weekend simmering it with bay and cloves for soup, remembering the bit where the fictional head cook decrees a similar fate for the bones of a ham that went uneaten because of Plot Crisis. When it had simmered for a few hours, I drained the broth, put it back into a pot, added what meat was left along with the leftover fried rice, and had a fine light-yet-hearty soup for dinner. It was a lot like dirty rice, only soupier.

So with a certain amount of life out of the way, I go now to enjoy the bits of life that involve doing absolutely nothing productive until bedtime. Huzzah!

YPP Weekend Blockades, September 10-11: Emerald's not dead, but Ice is free. Decisions, decisions...
Sat 2016-09-10 12:59:33 (single post)

News! News! News! Ever wanted to test out brand new Puzzle Pirates features, but don't have a subscription to the Ice Ocean? This weekend you can log onto Ice for free because the OMs really want to give the imminent "Greedy Brigands" feature a lot of testing before it goes live. Sez Forculus,

  • There is a general explanation of the Greedy Brigand mechanics in YPPedia.
  • You can read about the planning and design of this update in the Game Design forum.
  • There was also some discussion about the most effective ways to win treasure in the Ice forum.

OK, so. Blockades.

Flags Going Down, Origin, and Wait For It (among others) would like you to know THE EMERALD OCEAN IS NOT DEAD ok thx bye. They've instantiated a flurry of blockades for the noon hour today and the eleven a.m. hour tomorrow, not to mention Suicide Squad's random attack on Origin at Tumult Island tonight at 10 p.m. You want you some blockading, you get you logged onto Emerald. It'll be a dance party. The DJ's spinning pew-pew.

Only other thing currently on the schedule is a Brigand King attack on Zuyua Mist on the Meridian Ocean; that's at noon today. However! Majorjr has announced that Babylon will be attempting to oust the Brigand King currently governing (if such tyranny can be called "governing") Hephaestus's Forge. He says that blockade will start at noon on Sunday, so watch your schedules for it!

Update: Whoop, there it is.

Majorjr has also announced that, in an attempt to liven up the Cerulean Ocean, Babylon will host a "September of fun" with a kabillion events for you to partake in. Should you be interested, the list of events is here; also, further details on their "just pillage" competition and their writing contest. Doubtless Majorjr will post more threads to the Cerulean Events forum as the month progresses.

Standard reminders: Schedule is given in Pirate Time, or U.S. Pacific. Player flags link to Yoweb information pages; Brigand King Flags link to Yppedia Brigand King pages. BK amassed power given in parenthetical numbers, like so: (14). For more info about jobbing contacts, jobber pay, and Event Blockade battle board configuration, check the Blockade tab of your ocean's Notice Board. To get hired, apply under the Voyages tab.

Doubloon Ocean Blockades

*** Saturday, September 10 ***

12:00 p.m. - Zuyua Mist, Meridian Ocean
Brigand King attack!
Defender: Coming Soon
Attacker: Black Veil (3)

12:01 p.m. - Admiral Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Bite the Pillow
Undeclared: S T F U

12:07 p.m. - Blackthorpe Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Origin
Attacker: Going Down

12:09 p.m. - Paihia Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Origin
Attacker: Going Down

12:10 p.m. - Kasidim Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Origin

12:12 p.m. - Ambush Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Going Down
Attacker: Origin
Attacker: Free Islands

12:12 p.m. - Ilha da Aguia, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Skull Candy
Attacker: Origin
Attacker: Going Down
Attacker: Illuminatti

10:05 p.m. - Tumult Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Origin
Attacker: Suicide Squad

*** Sunday, September 11 ***

11:13 a.m. - Scrimshaw Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Bite the Pillow

11:24 a.m. - Bowditch Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Wait For It

11:24 a.m. - Sayers Rock, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Wait For It

11:24 a.m. - Barbary Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Wait For It

11:27 a.m. - Caravanserai Island, Emerald Ocean
Defender: Major Key Alert
Attacker: Wait For It

Subscription Ocean Blockades

*** Sunday, September 11 ***

11:58 a.m. - Hephaestus' Forge, Cerulean Ocean
Brigand King holds the island!
Defender: The Enlightened (5)

Cover art incorporates “1988 Feeling Fun Barbie Doll #1189” by Freddycat1 via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
this fictionette is losing weight
Fri 2016-09-09 23:53:31 (single post)
  • 1,278 words (if poetry, lines) long

Hello! This blog post is coming from you live and entire from the new new Asus, the celebrated X544, which I have named Phenix-Segundus. The old new Asus, the X540, never got a name while I had it, but I'm retroactively calling it Phenix-Primus. I am considering them to be two incarnations of the same firebird which has lifted the whole of my computing life out of the impending ashes of the old old Asus. That one hasn't died yet, thankfully, but every day it sounds like it's gonna. It's that fan, or maybe its hard drive: clack-a-clack-a-clack-a-whirrrrrrrrrr-thunk!-tickticktickticktick....

Also completed on Phenix-Segundus: A brand new Friday Fictionette! On time? Hoo-howdy, that thing was early. As in out before dark! (Its mama told it always to be home before the streetlights came on.) Right so, it's called "All Dolled Up," and it's about blind dates with no expectations, a fine friendship cemented in espresso and alcohol, and a sleazy pick-up artist with a... well. That would be telling. It ain't playing fair, is what it is. (Subscriber links ahoy: ebook, audiobook.)

In other Fictionette-related news, it turns out that outdated sectional aeronautical charts make very attractive stationery.

So this week I achieved a great accomplishment! I bought new jeans. Not only that, I bought 'em without waiting for the old ones to start to shred. The old ones, which more or less fit me when I bought them, are now falling off my hips. I freakin' lost weight, y'all. Like, fifteen pounds since February. Don't congratulate me--I wasn't trying to lose weight, and I'm honestly not sure it's a good thing. I've been about the same weight most of my post-college life, OK, and that includes the years spent playing roller derby other than this one. It wasn't going up, it wasn't going down--near twenty years of the same weight, you start to figure, OK, that's just me. A change that big and that sudden prompts a bit of an identity crisis.

It might have something to do with going on medication to control my blood pressure, although my blood pressure was fine until late 2014 or so. More likely, I guess, it had to do with six months of practicing with not one but two travel teams under coaches who bring serious strength conditioning and cardio to each table. Look at it that way, it kind makes sense. Does that mean I'll put the pounds back on again now that I'm only practicing with one team? Maybe that would be a good thing? I feel like, when I'm on the track, I need all the mass I can bring to bear, you know?

The BMI, of course, has an opinion about this. But the BMI can go dunk its head in the nearest lake for all I care. The BMI is not the boss of me.

Main thing is, I bought new jeans, and they fit. Huzzah! That, at least, is inarguably a good thing.

situation update: computers and cooking
Thu 2016-09-08 22:43:37 (single post)

First off: The new new computer has arrived. Which is to say, the computer Asus sent me to replace the new computer that I sent them for repair. After they'd had that computer for two weeks, they emailed me to say that the motherboard needed replacing, but the part was all out of stock, so they proposed to replace the whole computer instead. I had a fleeting wistful thought for the stickers already affixed to the X540L. Some of them can't be replaced. But then I compared stats. The replacement unit would be an X544L with an Intel Core i7 on board. The X540L, which I'd purchased through Best Buy for about $360, had a Core i3. That's a bit of an upgrade. I said yes.

Then I waited and waited and waited and finally emailed Asus Support with, "Is it on its way, and if so, what's the tracking number?" Then I waited and waited some more, and finally they emailed me back yesterday with "Here's the tracking number and it's expected to arrive TODAY." So I scrambled over to the FedEx website, pulled up the tracking info ("On vehicle for delivery" since the wee hours) and requested they hold it at the Boulder location because I had plans to be out all afternoon. They immediately added "Delivery option requested" to the tracking information, but--and this is critical--with no guarantee that the request would be honored.

And of course it wasn't. And of course this info got added to the tracking data where I could read it about two hours later than when it actually was delivered ("Left on doorstep / Signature not required"). And of course the next bus home from Longmont wasn't for another 45 minutes. Of course.

But when I got home, there it was, sitting in its box right under the porch light, safe and sound. And today I started moving everything onto it. Even as I type these words, my entire My Documents folder is whisking its way across the local area network, one file at a time. Next up will be my Thunderbird profile.

Secondly! Operation Pseudo-Medieval Chicken is a success. It's not very medieval, pseudo or otherwise, but it's delicious. Here's what I did, in case you want to play along at home:

  1. Caramelize onions in basalmic vinegar. Basically followed the step #1 of this recipe, only not exactly. For one thing, I stopped slicing onions after two because holy scallion, that's a lotta onion. I think their idea of "medium" and mine may possibly differ. For another, I substituted basalmic vinegar for honey because that's what my mouth wanted. (Also because this looked amazing.) But otherwise, it's totally just step #1 of that recipe.
  2. Begin pear, pepper, chicken proceedings in crock pot. While onions were caramelizing, I sliced up the pepper and peeled, cored, and cubed the pear. (I don't remember what kind of pepper; it was shaped like a bell pepper, but its green was much paler, and it had a little bit more heat, just enough to go with the sweet.) Pepper slices went in the crock pot first, a nice even layer, and then a nice even layer of pear cubes. Finally, the two boneless, skinless chicken breasts on top. Close lid, plug it in, turn the dial to HIGH.
  3. Combine. When the onions had cooked for about 30 minutes, into the crock pot they went, just right on top of everything else. Don't even bother stirring. Then I waited and waited and waited until a thermometer told me that the chicken had reached a safe 165 degrees F.
  4. Quality assurance. After devouring half the contents of the crock pot, I decided the chicken could stand to pick up more flavor, and that the pear should be better integrated with the sauce. So I hacked up the chicken until it was chunks and shreds, and I mashed up the pear beyond recognition. All components were combined thoroughly and returned to the crock pot on LOW for another hour or so, then allowed to cool, then packed away into the fridge for the best possible leftovers ever.

Dang, the Thunderbird profile is already done transferring. Guess I'll send my Firefox profile over next, right after I upload this post. AND THEN ALL THINGS WRITING.