Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Book List- 2011

Here it comes.  The hairy, scary list of over 300 books that I read this year.  (There are a fair number of category and novella length stories in here, so it's not quite as impressive as it sounds at first.)  I've bolded my favorites.  The ones that are both bolded and starred *** were my very most favorite.  I've reread many of the starred ones a time or two already.

1.  How to Marry a Duke- Vicky Dreiling
2.  Desperate Choices- Kathy Ivan
3.  Doctor Who: Snowfall- Gavin Collinson and Mark B. Oliver
4.  Midnight Crystal- Jayne Castle
5.  The Sevenfold Spell- Tia Nevitt
6.  The Awakening- L.J. Smith
7.  Waking the Witch- Kelley Armstrong
8.  Not Just the Nanny- Christine Ridgway
9.  Like Clockwork- Bonnie Dee
10. Warrior- Zoe Archer
11. Treasured- Crystal Jordan
12. Physical Therapy- Z.A. Maxfield
13. Coin Operated- Ginny Glass
14. In Too Deep- Jayne Ann Krentz
15. Ladies Man- Suzanne Brockmann
16.  A Discovery of Witches- Deborah Harkness
17.  Somebody Killed His Editor- Josh Lanyon
18.  Fatal Shadows- Josh Lanyon***
19.  A Dangerous Thing- Josh Lanyon***
20.  The Hell You Say- Josh Lanyon***
21.  Death of a Pirate King- Josh Lanyon***
22.  The Dark Tide- Josh Lanyon***
23.  Among the Living- Jordan Castillo Price
24.  Criss Cross- Jordan Castillo Price
25.  The Dickens With Love- Josh Lanyon
26.  His Convenient Husband- J.L. Langley
27.  Hemovore- Jordan Castillo Price
28.  Erias Menage- Alice Gaines
29.  All She Wrote- Josh Lanyon
30.  Crux: Southern Arcana, Book 1- Moira Rogers
31.  Lessons in Love: A Cambridge Fellows Mystery- Charlie Cochrane
32.  Mercy Blade- Faith Hunter
33.  Duck!- Kim Dare
34.  The One That Got Away- Rhianne Aile and Madeleine Urban
35.  Whisper Falls- Toni Blake
36.  Body & Soul- Jordan Castillo Price
37.  The Spurned Viscountess- Shelley Munro
38.  Blinded By Our Eyes- Clare London
39.  Undeniably Yours- Shanon Stacey
40.  Fair Game- Josh Lanyon
41.  The Happy Onion- Ally Blue
42.  Blameless- Gail Carriger
43.  Burning Up- Angela Knight, Nalini Singh, Virginia Kantra, Meljean Brook
44.  His at Night- Sherry Thomas
45.  Lead Me On- Victoria Dahl
46.  Heaven- Jet Mykles
47.  Court Appointed- Annmarie McKenna
48.  Strawberries For Dessert- Marie Sexton***
49.  Purgatory- Jet Mykles
50.  Hell- Jet Mykles***
51.  The Iron Duke- Meljean Brook
52.  Holiday Sparks- Shannon Stacey
53.  Catch Me If You Can- L.B. Gregg
54.  Black Gold- Clancy Nacht, Thursday Euclid
55.  Bareback- Chris Owen
56.  Here Comes the Groom- Karina Bliss
57.  Motor City Witch- Cindy Spencer Pape
58.  Amethyst Bound- L. Shannon
59.  Talk Dirty to Me- Ginny Glass, Inez Kelley
60.  Call Me Irresistible- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
61.  Bring the Heat- M.L. Rhodes
62.  Shadowfever- Karen Marie Moning
63.  Touch Me Gently- J.R. Loveless
64.  Blue Ruin 1: Some Kind of Stranger- Katrina Strauss
65.  Coming Undone- Susan Andersen
66.  Tech Support- Jet Mykles
67.  Yours, Mine, and Howls- Kinsey W. Holley
68.  Handcuffs and Spreader Bars- Kim Dare
69.  Mind F*cked- Mia Watts
70.  Pretty Man- Ryan Field
71.  Sex and the Single Earl- Vanessa Kelly
72.  Coming Clean- Inez Kelley
73.  Blood, Smoke, and Mirrors- Robyn Bachar
74.  Texas Tangle- Leah Braemel
75.  Strange Fortune- Josh Lanyon
76.  Promises- Marie Sexton
77.  Faith & Fidelity- Tere Michaels
78.  Overnight- E.C. Sheedy
79.  One Con Glory- Sarah Kuhn
80.  Drawn Together- Z.A. Maxfield
81.  The Charlie Factor- Diana DeRicci
82.  Slave Boy- Evangeline Anderson
83.  Slave to Sensation- Nalini Singh
84.  Snowed In- Rhianne Aile and Madeleine Urban
85.  Brier's Bargain- Carol Lynne
86.  Seb's Surrender- Carol Lynne
87.  I Love Rock N Roll- Carol Lynne
88.  Cryoburn- Lois McMaster Bujold
89.  No One Lives Twice- Julie Moffett
90.  Whistling in the Dark- Tamara Allen
91.  Anna and the French Kiss- Stephanie Perkins
92.  The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks- Josh Lanyon***
93.  Sno Ho- Ethan Day
94.  Truly, Madly- Heather Webber
95.  Just For You- Jet Mykles
96.  Faith- Jet Mykles
97.  Genesis- Jet Mykles
98.  Revelations- Jet Mykles
99.  The Peach Keeper- Sarah Addison Allen
100. William's House- Amber Kell
101. Talker- Amy Lane
102. Talker's Redemption- Amy Lane
103. The Girl For Me- Failte***
104. Quicksilver- Amanda Quick
105. Striking Sparks- Jordan Castillo Price
106. Handcuffs and Leather- Kim Dare
107. Truth in the Dark- Amy Lane
108. Badlands- Seleste deLaney
109. Gambling On Maybe- Fae Sutherland
110. If I Must- Amy Lane***
111. Making His List- Devon Rhodes
112. Scoundrel- Zoe Archer
113. Wrong Number, Right Guy- Mia Watts
114. Hunters- Michelle Marquis
115. Three Wrong Turns in the Desert- Neil Plakcy
116. Shadow Touch- Marjorie M. Liu
117. Love & Scandal- Donna Lea Simpson
118. Rosemary and Rue- Seanan McGuire
119. Lord Scandal- Kalen Hughes
120. The Panther's Lair- Esmerelda Bishop
121. Infernal Devices- Abigail Barnette
122. Trash Course- Penny Drake
123. The Ghost on My Couch- L.A. Gilbert
124. Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings- Helene Boudreau
125. Hot Pursuit- Suzanne Brockmann
126. Magic Slays- Ilona Andrews
127. The Debutante's Dilemma- Elyse Mady
128. All Play & No Work- Carol Lynne
129. Breaking the Rules- Suzanne Brockmann
130. Edward Unconditionally- Lynn Lorenz
131. Always the Baker Never the Bride- Sandra D. Bricker
132. Fireflies- Ally Blue
133. With the Band- L.A. Witt
134. Everything and the Moon- Julia Quinn
135. Come Unto These Yellow Sands- Josh Lanyon***
136. The Hood of Justice- Mark Alders
137. Tabloid Star- T.A. Chase
138. The Red Pyramid- Rick Riordan
139. Yours to Keep- Shannon Stacey
140. Conquest- S.J. Frost
141. Do Over- Mari Carr
142. What I Did For a Duke- Julie Anne Long
143. Details of the Hunt- Laura Baumbach
144. Cry Sanctuary- Moira Rogers
145. A to Z- Marie Sexton
146. Silver Bound- Ella Drake
147. Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep- Michael Merriam
148. Camwolf- J.L. Merrow
149. The Dark Enquiry- Deanna Raybourn
150. Threadbare- Clare London
151. Pricks and Pragmatism- J.L. Merrow
152. When Tony Met Adam- Suzanne Brockmann
153. River Marked- Patricia Briggs
154. Hot Head- Damon Suede
155. Chasing AllieCat- Rebecca Fjelland Davis
156. My So-Called Love Life- Allie Pleiter
157. Steam & Sorcery- Cindy Spencer Pape
158. The Missing Butterfly- Megan Derr
159. Love Ahead: Expect Delays- Astrid Amara
160. With This Ring- T.A. Chase
161. How to Keep the Love of Your Life- Maureen Willmann
162. Hex Hall- Rachel Hawkins
163. Tin Star- J.L. Langley
164. Heartless- Gail Carriger
165. Call Me Sir, Boy- Kim Dare
166. Tempest Rising- Nicole Peeler
167. Side Jobs- Jim Butcher
168. Off the Beaten Path- Katrina Strauss
169. Ghost Story- Jim Butcher
170. Diving in Deep- K.A. Mitchell
171. Just-You Eyes- Clare London
172. We're Both Straight, Right?- Jamie Fessenden
173. Hard Fall- James Buchanan
174. Making Waves- Tawna Fenske
175. Dead Reckoning- Charlaine Harris
176. The Thief- Megan Whalen Turner
177. Man, oh Man!- Josh Lanyon
178. Muscling Through- J.L. Merrow
179. Lover Avenged- J.R. Ward
180. Collision Course- K.A. Mitchell
181. Buried Sins- Marta Perry
182. Spice n Solace- K.C. Burn
183. Stone Kissed- Keri Stevens
184. Jump First- Charles Edwards
185. A Dog Named Slugger- Leigh Brill
186. Under Fire- Jo Davis
187. Mistletoe at Midnight- L.B. Gregg
188. The Fortune Quilt- Lani Diane Rich
189. Life, Over Easy- K.A. Mitchell
190. Secrets- Jordan Castillo Price
191. Accidentally His- Shawn Lane
192. Sex, Lies, and Online Dating-Rachel Gibson
193. The Last Pure Human- Twisted Hilarity
194. Camp Hell- Jordan Castillo Price
195. In a Dark Wood- Josh Lanyon
196. Yakuza Pride- H.J. Brues
197. Artie the Good Witch- Scarlet Hyacinth
198. Devon Cream- Jet Mykles
199. Half Pass- Astrid Amara
200. Marry Me- Jo Goodman
201. A Nanny For Nate- Lisa Worrall
202. Canyons of Night- Jayne Castle
203. Keeping House- Lee Brazil
204. Devlin and Garrick- Cameron Dane
205. The Book of Bright Ideas- Sandra Kring
206. The Gentleman and the Rogue- Bonnie Dee
207. Maritime Men- Janey Chapel
208. The Shattered Gates- Ginn Hale
209. Ticket to Ride- Shawn Lane
210. Crazy Wind- Xara X. Xanakas
211. When Irish Eyes Are Smiling- Tom Collins
212. Mind Fuck- Manna Francis
213. Wooing Master Jones- Amber Kell
214. Snagged- Jet Mykles
215. Servant of the Crossed Arrows- Ginn Hale
216. Horizons- Mickie B. Ashling
217. Taste- Mickie B. Ashling
218. India Black- Carol K. Carr
219. Finding Forgiveness- Dana Marie Bell
220. The Broken H- J.L. Langley
221. Mummy Dearest- Josh Lanyon***
222. Wolfsbane (MIA Case Files, #1)- K.C. Burn
223. ePistols at Dawn- Z.A. Maxfield
224. Dressed to Thrill- Kimberly Gardner
225. Spin Out- James Buchanan
226. GhosTV- Jordan Castillo Price***
227. He Completes Me- Cardeno C.
228. precious_boy- K.Z. Snow
229. Catching a Buzz- Ally Blue
230. And Call Me in the Morning- Willa Okati
231. Foxe Tail- Haley Walsh
232. Cut & Run- Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux
233. Spell Bound- Kelley Armstrong
234. Squire- Jet Mykles
235. Like a Sparrow Through the Heart- Aggy Bird
236. A Change of Tune- J.M. Cartwright
237. Wicked Gentlemen- Ginn Hale
238. Barging In- Josephine Myles
239. Bent- Sean Michael
240. Cherry Pie- Samantha Kane
241. Cooking With Ergo- Luisa Prieto
242. Love & Loyalty- Tere Michaels
243. Anything For You- Ethan Day
244. When Irish Eyes Are Sparkling- Tom Collins
245. Some Kind of Magic- R. Cooper
246. Oleander House- Ally Blue
247. Libra: Outlined in Ink- Vivien Dean
248. Brindisi Bedfellows- Jamie Craig
249. Shades of Gray- Brooke McKinley
250. An Uncommon Whore- Belinda McBride
251. Like Coffee and Doughnuts- Ellie Parker
252. Bad Company- K.A. Mitchell
253. The Curtis Reincarnation- Zathyn Priest
254. His Hearth- Mary Calmes
255. Sursein Judgment- Jet Mykles
256. Just Hit Send- Grasshopper
257. Rhapsody For Piano and Ghost- Z.A. Maxfield
258. The Assignment- Evangeline Anderson
259. Litha's Constant Whim- Amy Lane
260. Between Sinners and Saints- Marie Sexton***
261. The Dark Horse- Josh Lanyon
262. Scorpio: The Heart to Help- Jamie Craig
263. Quinn's Hart- Cassandra Gold
264. Long Tall Drink- L.C. Chase
265. Not Knowing Jack- K.A. Mitchell
266. Bear, Otter, and the Kid- T.J. Klune***
267. One Real Thing- Anah Crow
268. Handcuffs and Pretty Things- Kim Dare
269. Gobsmacked- L.B. Gregg
270. Stolen Hearts- Sasha L. Miller
271. Crossing Borders- Z.A. Maxfield
272. The Cards of Life and Death- Colleen Gleason
273. Aquarius: He Said, He Said- Jamie Craig
274. Sonoran Heat- Katrina Strauss
275. Men Under the Mistletoe- Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, Ava March, K.A. Mitchell
276. Goldilocks and His Three Bears- A.M. Riley
277. Grand Jete- Diana Copland
278. Submission- Chris Owen
279. The Locker Room- Amy Lane
280. Christmas With Danny Fit- Amy Lane***
281. Holiday Outing- Astrid Amara
282. Got Mistletoe?- Andi Anderson
283. Del Fantasma: Duck Fart- Jade Buchanan
284. Counterpoint- Rachel Haimowitz
285. And Playing the Role of Herself- K.E. Lane
286. Hide Out- Katie Allen
287. Primal Red- Nicole Kimberling
288. Baby It's Cold Outside- Nicole Kimberling
289. GI Joe Holiday- Amberly Smith
290. Winter Warmers- Chrissy Munder, Clare London, JL Merrow, Josephine Myles, Lou Harper
291. Mistletoe & Margaritas- Shannon Stacey
292. The Plot Bunny- Scarlet Hyacinth
293. Icecapade- Josh Lanyon
294. Someone Special- T.C. Blue
295. Black Cat Ink- Nicole Kimberling
296. All Snug- B.G. Thomas
297. The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters- Amy Lane
298. Batteries Not Included- J.L. Merrow
299. Hue, Tint, and Shade- Jordan Castillo Price
300. Simple Gifts- L.B. Gregg
301. Carol of the Bellskis- Astrid Amara
302. Twinkle, Twinkle- Josephine Myles
303. The Elf, the Cat, and the Human- Sasha L. Miller
304. The Larton Chronicles- James Anson

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This is a Little Embarrassing

As I mentioned the other day, I'm getting started on my 2012 New Year's resolutions.  (Why wait to make positive changes in your life, right?)  So, I'm going to kill two birds with one stone here-- post some pictures and talk about the cleaning and organizing I need to do.

Here they come, the embarrassing pictures.


This is the giant pile of crap that completely blocks access to my closet.  There are a couple of tubs and boxes on the bottom, with clean clothes, yarn, shipping boxes, and God knows what else in the mix.  I haven't measured it or anything, but it's probably 5 feet long, 2 feet deep, and waist high at one end.  This is probably my most daunting challenge.  A lot of this stuff needs to go into the closet, somehow.  But I can't *get to* the closet with the pile in the way.  And I don't have the energy or the space to move the pile so I can get to the closet and put it all away.  It's a conundrum.  But I'll figure something out.


This is one end of the pile, and also the little table I use as my nightstand.


This is the other end of the pile, as well as my dresser, which is thoroughly cluttered and covered in about a quarter inch of dust.  On the positive side, you can see my Christmas cards hanging on the door!


This is the set of plastic drawers that I use as my other nightstand.  See the pink/white/black thing under the tissue box?  That's the sack sock I mentioned a couple posts ago.  It's coming along nicely!

As you can see, the whole room is piled, packed, choked with stuff.  Part of the problem is me.  I have a hard time letting go of stuff that I think I might need.  Or I set something aside, and then it disappears from my mind.  It just doesn't exist for me anymore.  It does, however, continue to collect dust for the next 6 months until I finally throw it away.

But a really big part of the problem is I have no organizational tools or system.  That blue tub at the bottom of the first picture is filled with CDs.  But I have no place to put them.  There are two or three boxes of books taking up space on the floor of my closet, but I have no shelves to put them on.  That big ol' dresser?  Holds a lot less stuff than you might think.  (But to be fair, I really need to go through some of it and either pack it up for winter or just let it go all together.)

I haven't started doing my one song of cleaning a day.  I was thinking about doing that today, but I did 11 minutes on the Wii instead (first time in *months*), and between that and MTX day, I am pretty well worn out.  But I have started thinking about how I want to arrange things as I get them put away.

Shelves and such are not an option right now.  The room desperately needs to be painted (the walls are scuffed up and full of nail holes, and one wall is painted a horrible gray-purple), and I don't want to put anything big and heavy in the room that will have to be moved to get to the walls.  And since it's January, it's going to be months before the weather is really appropriate for painting.  I'm looking at probably 6 months, minimum, before I can put in shelves.  (Also, I want to put in some sort of entertainment system to hold my TV and for storage.)

All this listing of what's wrong, and what I need and can't get right now is starting to feel like a novel.  A long, boring, Russian novel.  Something by Turgid.  (Points to anyone who gets the reference!)  I think I'm going to leave this here and come back tomorrow with what I see as my specific requirements for my room, and what I'm going to try to do to meet them in the short run, even if I can't have my dream room right now.

Lip balm of the day: Pick Me Up Peach!  (And boy did I need it.)

Wii, Wii, Wii All the Way Home

Karen asked what Wii games I play for exercise.  I have lots to say on this subject, so I'm going to go ahead and write a new post.  (Thanks for the topic, Karen!)  My comments and recommendations come from the perspective of someone who is significantly overweight (I was around 290 the last time I checked), very inactive, and has underlying health problems that cause pain and fatigue.  So gentle, low impact exercise is much more important to me than your standard exerciser.

My first exer-game, and the whole reason I bought the Wii in the first place, was the Wii Fit Plus.  You've got to have a Wii balance board to play this one.  It looks like a scale, but without the readout.  The best thing about the Wii Fit is that it's really just a bunch of fun mini games.  You can hula hoop.  You can box.  You can bike or ski or ride a Segway or navigate rapids.  Each little game only takes a minute or two to play.  So you do a little of this and a little of that until you've done as much as you want to do.  You can set a calories burned goal (this one is fun-- you pick a slice of cheese or a piece of cake or one of a half dozen other food items, and then it lets you know when your combined calories burned in your session has worked off that particular item).  Wii Fit also has yoga, strength, and balance activities, so you can work on all aspects of physical activity.  If you poke around in all the different areas you can get a nicely balanced workout at any level.

The second game that I have and love is Walk it Out.  WiO is (surprise!) a walking game.  The idea is to step to the beat of the music as you move around Rhythm Island.  The landscape starts out pretty blank, but you get a point for every step that you make on the beat, and then you can "zap" things as you go.  You can add everything from little stuff like benches and trees and lampposts to big stuff like shops and houses.  You can gather clock pieces, and then reset the time within the game to any time of day.  (The game has a 24 hour clock that generally lines up with the time in the real world.  So if you play at noon every day, you play in sunshine.  If you play at 9 o'clock at night, it will be dark out.)  You can gather CDs and earn new songs.  (You start out with a limited number of songs.  The variety of songs in the game is pretty impressive, many with original artists.)  You can also collect "rainbow spheres" (big colored balls), and once you've got all 7, a rainbow will appear over the island.  (This one resets every day, so you have to keep earning it.  Everything else, once you've earned it, it will be there the next time you play.)  This one is addictive!  There's always just one more thing you want to earn, so it's great for me to get a steady, low impact cardio workout.

I got Active Life Explorer for Christmas last year, and it's fun!  It was created as an active game for kids, but it's a fun way for adults to get some movement in, too.  Like Wii Fit Plus, it's made up of a lot of different mini games, with an Indiana Jonesy, adventure theme.  For me, at the time, it was a little too active.  Too much bending and jumping and such.  I really want to get into the swing again with Wii Fit and Walk it Out, and then slowly add Active Life Explorer into the rotation.  (The great thing about using a game console as exercise equipment is that fun is an important part of the process.  If you're not having a good time, why play the game?)

I also got one of the many versions of Dance Dance Revolution for Christmas last year.  This one is more energetic than Wii Fit or Walk it Out, but not as much as Active Life Explorer.  My problem is that A, I'm not very good at it, and B, I wear out pretty quickly.  This is one I'm going to have to work my way up to getting the most out of.  Getting better at figuring out how to respond to the directions and working with the controller mat would help, too.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I have one called We Cheer.  You're a cheerleader, and you have to learn to accurately do the moves of different dance routines.  You'd think this would be really demanding physically, but it depends on how you do it.  If you try to do the whole body moves like the cartoon cheerleaders on the screen, there's no way I could do it.  But if you just try to keep up with the arm movements (you hold a controller in one or both hands, and that's how the game is scored), it's not too bad.  And it's fun!  The music is a bit teeny bopperish, but that doesn't bother me.

There are other games I'd like to be able to play, like Just Dance or Zumba Fitness.  But I know that those are well beyond anything I could do right now, so I haven't bothered to buy them.  Even with regular exercise I'm not sure if my body will *ever* be willing to move the way it would need to to play those games.  I'll be happy just to get to the point where I can fully take advantage of the games I already have.

In the down time, when no one is exercising with it, we play Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, and one called Big Brain Academy to help with cognitive function and reaction time.  And when we're being really lazy, we use the Wii to watch streaming movies from Netflix!  So the Wii gets a workout, even if we don't.  :p

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Flux

I don't know about you, but for me the week between Christmas and New Year's is always an odd one.  The old year is over, but the new one hasn't started yet.  It's a time for wrapping up old business and gearing up for the new.

For the old business, I'm mostly making sure that my book and knitting records are up-to-date, bills are paid, that kind of thing.  Reading the last of the holiday stories-- tonight's is Carol of the Bellskis, a m/m Hanukkah story.  And wrapping up a stray knitting project-- a hat made from the leftover yarn from my brother's Christmas socks that I intend to donate to a local homeless shelter.

For new business, I've started my first knitting project for myself.  It's this sack sock to collect all the random plastic bags that I keep finding all over my room.  (For someone who rarely leaves the house and shops almost exclusively online, I have a shocking number of plastic bags floating around the place.)  (Bonus, it will help me keep my room clean!)  I've picked up a couple of songs that inspire me for the beginning of a writing soundtrack.  I'm not working hard yet, but I'm poking in that direction.  And I've got my eye on a reading challenge over at Goodreads that should help me control the ebook buying issue.  I felt like crap today (monthly surge in symptoms, plus I'm just worn out from the past week or so), so no activity whatsoever, and no cleaning.  I think I might need the same for tomorrow.  But Wednesday, look out!  I'll poke around and do something or other.  My favorite Wii game encourages me to compete against myself, to always go just a little further, so once I get into it again that should help keep me motivated.

So, progress.

And with that, I will leave you with a picture.  I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I came back I discovered someone had stolen my spot.


It's a little hard to tell, because the bed is so cluttered.  But that green thing is the hat, almost finished then, and completed now.  There's also a cone of white/black/pink yarn that I'm using to make my sack sock.  I'm getting an interesting swirling stripe effect as it knits up.  I'll take a picture in a day or two, when I'm further along and it's easier to see what's going on.

'Night, all!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Pictures


We had a lovely Christmas Day, and I hope you all had the same.  Relaxing, with lots of fun and laughter.  I'm too tired to write a real post, so here are some pictures of our Christmas decorations.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Coming

It's almost here.  No, not Christmas.  2012.  I've been thinking a lot in the last few weeks about what I want to happen, what I want to do, in 2012.  The first decision I made was that I want to cut my reading way back.

I'll give you a moment to recover from that bombshell.

Right now I'm on target to read 300 books in 2011.  That's a lot of books, and I've enjoyed all that reading thoroughly.  But I want to expand a few horizons in 2012, which means I'm going to have to spend less time reading.  My goal is to cut the reading in half-- I'm aiming for 150 books in 2012.

The big reason I want to cut the reading time is that I want to significantly increase the writing time.  As in, actually do some.  My goal is a little fuzzy in this area, but I think I want to go for two completed pieces in 2012, with at least one of those stories polished up and ready for submission.  (I know that sounds massive, but I'm thinking novella length, not 80,000+ word novels.)

I really want to knit some stuff this year.  It's been fun getting back to knitting after taking off most of 2011.  (Depression and joint pain pretty much killed my interest in it for a while.)  I'm thinking about doing a 12 in 12.  That is, 12 projects completed in 2012.  But not just any projects.  I want them to be stuff for ME.  I knit things for other people all the time, but I don't remember the last project I made for myself.  I have a boat load of sock yarn, with one slow going sock on the needles.  I have a *gorgeous* beaded scarf that I started like two years ago and have never finished.  I have a wacky shawl that I started a few months ago and had to set aside for other projects.  I just want to do some stuff for myself.

I want to get into the habit of gentle, regular exercise.  I know it will help me significantly.  Exercise is one of the major recommendations for people with Fibromyalgia.  Physical activity kills me right now, and it probably will for quite a while once I get started.  But I can't use that as an excuse anymore.  I have to do it.

Part of the reason I want to improve my condition and stamina is that there is not just one, but *two* conventions I'd really like to go to in 2012.  RT (Romantic Times) is in Chicago in April.  That's too close to miss if there's any way I can make it.  If I want to do anything other than sleep in my room all week, I've got to get my body used to moving and doing again.  The other convention is Gay Rom Lit, which is in October in Albuquerque.  Getting there will be a bit of a pain in the ass.  Either I'll have to fly, which will be quick and hopefully painless.  (Minus any body cavity searches security might decide to run.)  My other option would be to take the train.  Which actually sounds fun and romantic, riding the rails and all.  But it adds at least two days of travel both directions, and that might do me in.  (If I get a room with a bed, which I would absolutely do on a trip of this length, the price will be about the same as flying first class, which I kind of need to do for the larger seat size.  So pricing isn't the issue so much as how hard each travel option is likely to be on me.)

My thought process right now is that I'll try RT and see how it goes.  If I have a major problem, well, home is only a couple of hours away.  If I make it through RT without a hitch, then I have a better idea if I'll be up to the trip to Albuquerque in October.

You didn't think I would make it all the way through a list of goals without saying something about my disaster area, did you?  I want to do a little bit of cleaning every single day.  I'm not up to big stuff.  Just the thought of tackling the whole thing is enough to make me roll over and go back to sleep.  What I'm going to do is put on some music and clean to at least one song every day.  If I clean to one 3-5 minute song a day, it adds up to 20-35 minutes of cleaning time a week.  That will make at least a small dent in the disaster every week.  There are plenty of things I can do for 3-5 minutes without even leaving my bed.  Like clearing all the accumulated junk off my nightstands.  I think clearing out the crap and clutter will make me feel better emotionally.  It will probably help physically, too, because we've gotten well beyond the "write your finger in the dust" stage in spots.  (I give the computer screen and a short set of shelves by the bed a quick swipe with a Swiffer duster when I think about it, which isn't often.  Everything else is on its own.)

Finally, this is kind of a new idea to me, and I'm a little unsure about it.  But I think I might want to try the 365 Project.  If you're unfamiliar, the idea is to take a picture every day for 365 days, and post them.  I've really enjoyed snapping pictures with my Samsung thingy, and it might be fun to challenge myself to find something interesting to take a picture of every day for a year.  The challenge would be that I rarely leave the house.  At least 320 pictures would need to be taken from inside the house.  (And that may be a slightly generous on the side of how many out-in-the-world pictures I actually manage to take.)  I feel like this might push me a little, in a good way.  So I think I'm going to do it.

So, there you go.  Seven sections of goals for the new year.  (I'm also considering a book buying cap.  I have enough TBR books on the Kindle right now that I could make my 150 books goal and still have some left over.  But not buying books that I want is HARD, especially when you've got gift certificates or there's a sale on.  I'll be contemplating this one a bit more.)  Will I make them all?  Who knows.  But it feels like they're all pretty reasonable.  They're all action in a positive direction.  So I think for now they'll do.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Check Out My Dealie Boppers!

Delia reminded me that I haven't posted a picture of my birthday dealie boppers yet, so here it is!  I apologize for the moon pajamas and my total unwillingness to put on a bra.  That's hard work, and I just wasn't up for it tonight.


You can't see it in the picture, but there are flashing lights on the dealie boppers.  Also, check out my red hair!  I talked to my mom about the green hair thing, and decided not to do it right now.  I'm planning to go to Christmas Eve services with them (I never go to church, so it's kind of a big deal to Mom), and I know it would completely humiliate them for me to show up with green hair.  I know that's silly, but I'll respect their feelings about it.

Also, I talked to the hairstylist, and apparently maintaining an unusual color is a hell of a lot of work.  I'd probably be re-dying my hair every week to two weeks.  I am so not up for that right now.  So I'll be sticking with the fiery, but longer lasting, red.

And since you can't really see them in that first photo, here are the giant hoop earrings that I talked about a million years ago but never posted a picture of.


Aren't they fantastic?  They looked good with the scraggly blond mop that I used to have, but they really work with the red.

Also, taking clear pictures of myself, one handed, with that thing was a serious pain in the butt.  Definitely not designed for taking pictures of yourself one handed.

In other news, there are two jars of cherries draining in the refrigerator right now.  Tomorrow is chocolate covered cherry day!  Messy, but fun.  And the results are worth it.  Better than any chocolate covered cherry you'll buy in the store.  The recipe I use is in the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  (Also available online here.)  They're a little harder to find, but if you decide to make this recipe, take the time to find cherries with stems.  Your results will be much better.  (Especially if you're not an experienced candy maker.)

I think that's all the news and pictures for today.  I've started my brother's socks, but just barely.  I need to get trucking on them if he's going to get something more than an IOU in his stocking.  And I haven't finished embellishing my peanut, but maybe I'll have pics of that tomorrow!

Lip balm of the day: a very festive and seasonal White Cranberry.  (It's way yummy!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toffee!

As you may have noticed, there have been a lot more pictures around here lately.  I bought that Samsung Galaxy Player a couple of weeks ago, and I'm having much fun snapping pictures of everything around me.  The pictures are much better than what I was getting from my cheapo digital camera, too!

Anyway, tonight I made toffee.  My uncle really enjoys it, so I send him a batch for Christmas every year.  It's really easy to make, too.  (The recipe I use is from the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook.  Here's the recipe from their website.)

On to the pictures!


This is the toffee cooking.  It's approximately at firm ball stage.  Hur.


Here's the toffee poured out and cooling.


And this is the finished product.  Toffee covered with semi-sweet chocolate and pecans!  I'll make another batch tomorrow or the next day without the nuts.  Dad can't have them, and they're a pretty bad idea for me, too, because of the Crohn's.  I would be shocked if Mom doesn't manage to sneak a piece or two of the be-nutted batch, though.  She really enjoys them.

Mmm, Stollen


I wish someone would get on the ball and invent smell-o-vision.  (Or smell-o-internet, I guess.)  Because, seriously?  Best smell in the world!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Cookies!

My brother and SIL came over for dinner tonight, and this was the after dinner entertainment.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Here Comes Trouble


This is his "woman, get that flash out of my face" look.  It is perhaps more adorable to me than to others.


Meow!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy My Bed

It's been a tough couple of days.  My body has apparently decided that sleep is off the menu.  I haven't managed to fall asleep before 4am since Sunday night.  Morning.  Whatever.

Which really isn't so far out there for me.  I'm mostly up all night these days.  The problem has been that I had places to be on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Tuesday I had a massage appointment, Wednesday my cousin and her 3 kids spent the day with us, and Thursday we drove down to my SIL's parents' house (an hour and a half away) for Thanksgiving.

I don't do well with changes in my routine.  I *really* don't do well with noise and commotion and crowds.  And I *especially* don't deal well with stacking those things together for several days in a row and then asking my body to do it on about 2 hours of sleep a night.  I feel like I was run over by a bus.  And then the bus backed up and ran over me again.  My whole body hurts, and my legs are so weak that I feel wobbly when I try to stagger to the bathroom or, god forbid, across the house to the kitchen.

So the only thing I will be Occupying is my bed.  It's not like I was planning to go out into the mayhem that is Black Friday, anyway.  At three o'clock in the afternoon I'm probably safe from being knocked over in a stampede and trampled to death or crushed into jelly against locked store doors by a deal-maddened crowd. But there are still all those people out there, with all those germs.  No, thank you.

I will lay in bed and eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and read.  Maybe in a little bit I'll watch some TV.  That's about as Black as I can handle.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hello World

The last couple of weeks have been unhappy ones in the m/m (male/male) romance community.  Frankly, I haven't had the stomach, or the heart, to follow it all.  What it boils down to is that a male author was "outed" as being female.  The author then said, "actually, I'm transgendered."  And then it all got dicey.

Some people were livid that this author had been "lying" to them, and didn't feel they could believe the transgender claim.  Other transgendered authors were frightened by the public exposure, and horrified by the demands that other "women" writing in the genre declare themselves.  The charge of lying was particularly hurtful to the trans community, since the identity of a transgendered person hangs on who they know themselves to be, and how they choose to present themselves to others, not necessarily what's between their legs.  The whole thing was complicated by the fact that the author in question most definitely did lie by using a male model friend's picture as his author photo and even sending this friend out once to do a signing as the author.  (And there was some other fishy stuff that I'm not really clear on.)

A hell of a mess, huh?

The ignorance and transphobia revealed by the whole situation has been enlightening, and not in a good way.  The m/m romance community has always seen itself as being a welcoming, accepting place.  Suddenly the transgendered and genderqueer members are feeling attacked, and a lot of other people are offended and confused by the charges of bigotry.  The whole thing makes my heart hurt.

Other than a general dislike of bigotry in all shapes, why is this kerfluffle so upsetting to me?  Because I am genderqueer.

You hear a lot of gay people say, "I've always known I was gay."  For me, this is the same.  I've always known I was genderqueer.  I just never had a name for it until this summer.

Let me back up a minute and explain what this all means.  There are a lot of different ways to define genderqueer.  For me, it means that I don't think of myself as being a woman.  I don't particularly think of myself as a man, either, and I have no desire to have gender reassignment surgery to become one.  I am just... me.  An individual floating somewhere in the middle, taking whatever I want from both traditionally male and traditionally female identities.

I discovered the term this past summer, and had about 5 minutes worth of panic over the whole thing.  Oh, no!  I'm genderqueer!  What am I going to do?  Then I settled down and realized, hello, dumbass.  You're going to keep going just like you always have.  Because while I may suddenly have had a word for what I've always felt, that didn't mean anything was going to change.  I've always interacted with the world as a genderqueer person.  I've never tried to pretend that I was anything other than who I am.  Acknowledging the label doesn't make me any more or less than I've always been.

I know that I'm very lucky in this.  For some people, acknowledging their trans or genderqueer identity means big changes.  Or painful hiding in a public identity that doesn't match their inner reality.  I could go along for the rest of my life and never say a word.  Just "pass" as cisgendered (another nifty word I learned this summer which means that your identity/behavior matches your sex).  Let the world make their assumptions and skate on by.

But after seeing all the hurt and anger of the last few weeks, I felt like I needed to say something.  Maybe if people know someone who is different, they won't be so quick to judge.  Maybe they won't be so quick to fear or hate, because there's already one perfectly ordinary genderqueer person in their life, even if it's only their online/blogging life.  So here it is:

I'm genderqueer.  I'm not lying.  I'm exactly who I've always been-- I just never before had the courage or felt the need to throw that label out there.  I'm perfectly normal.  And my transgendered and genderqueer brothers, sisters, and others are just as deserving of respect as our cisgendered brethren.  We're all just folks. So let's approach each other with a little more love, OK?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

In Which Our Heroine Forgets to Read Her Own Blog Post

I made a little bit of progress on the NaNo story today.  85 words.  Which is really only about two paragraphs.  So it's minimal progress.  But I'll take what I can get.

Last night I went to bed with two characters in my head-- Ethan and Harry.  I don't really know anything about these guys yet, but I figure if I stick with it I'll get to know them this month.  And then I woke up this morning with two paragraphs in my head about Mark and his bowel habits.  Who Mark is, what his relationship to Ethan and Harry is, and why he (or I) think anyone cares about his bowel habits is completely beyond me.  But I'm going with it.  hur.

I think, and I could be totally wrong here but it seems about right, that Mark is a bit of a Sheldonesque character.  (From The Big Bang Theory)  And I think that Ethan and Harry come in and disrupt his life in ways large and small.  In fact, I think Ethan and Harry are sort of modern day Gandalfs, and Mark is Bilbo, and the story is going to end up being a riff on The Hobbit.  Ethan and Harry drag Mark along with them on a Big Gay Adventure.

Hmm.  Ideas are churning.  This is good.  I'm supposed to be getting ready for my mom's Mary Kay Holiday Open House that starts on Friday (I have a few hand knit things that I'm putting out), but I may spend the day putting together a collage and soundtrack instead.  If I'm lucky I may even add another 85 words to my story.  At this rate I should hit the 50,000 word mark on June 13, 2013.

In goofy news, I was very proud of a new In Which statement that I came up with this morning, and I mentioned it in a comment on the last post.  And then I went back and re-read the post and discovered that I'd put it in the body of the post when I wrote it yesterday, and then promptly forgot it.  Because that is how my brain works.  (Julie's smooth brain has nothin' on me.)

So that's my progress so far.  And now, I think my sleeping pill is finally kicking in, so I'm going to post this and then go to bed.

'Night All!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Which a Plan Is Born

Just in case you've been living under a rock (or, you know, you don't run in the same writerly circles I do), it's NaNo time again.  In honor of this annual event, I've changed my blog theme again.  Isn't it nice?  Much less shocking than the fall foliage.

So, we're over 24 hours into the grand event.  How many words have I written?  Nothing, nada, el zippo.  Despite spending the last two months in Lani's writing classes, preparing for this moment, there is nothing in my head.  (Totally not Lani's fault.  The lack of firing synopses in my brain is my problem alone.)  It's echoing in there like the inside of an empty 55 gallon drum.

But I did get an idea a few minutes ago.  In fact, I shamelessly stole it from Deanna Raybourn and her blog.  Every post starts with, "In Which".  Examples from the last week are: "In which we were just talking about Nora", "In which this is just BIZARRE", "In which I am out and about", and "In which I'm leaving on the proverbial jet plane".

So, this is what I'm going to do.  I'm going to start every section with an "In Which".  The first one will be, "In Which Our Two Heroes Meet".  I have not the slightest idea who these fellows are or what they're going to do.  But I like this "In Which" idea, so I'm going to run with it.  Or, more realistically, waddle with it.

Next challenge: come up with enough "In Which" statements to keep me moving for the rest of the month.  I have a few more off the top of my head:

In Which a Good Time Is Had By All
In Which Our Heroes Encounter a Problem
In Which Our Heroes Are In For a Bit of a Surprise

But I need a bunch more than that.  If you've got any ideas for "In Which" statements, please share them in the comments.  I'm hoping to have one for every day of writing, and that they'll help steer the story along, because right now I don't have a flipping clue.

Lip Balm of the Day: Shamrock Shake

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween Pizza

Here in Indiana we have a take-and-bake pizza place called Papa Murphy's.  An Irish pizza joint.  This delights me.  In the last few days they've been running ads for a special Jack-o-Lantern pizza.


Isn't that the goofiest thing ever?  I love it.  I'm going to push for a Jack-o-Pizza for dinner on Friday night.  I know Halloween isn't Friday, but Friday is Pizza Night.  I'm thinking this and one of the Ghostbusters movies that my brother lent us (he has both I and II on DVD, but who in their right mind wants to watch Ghostbusters II?) would make for a very satisfying Halloween celebration.  Maybe with the Charlie Brown Halloween special while the pizza is baking.  Because what's a holiday without a Charlie Brown special?

I may be about 25 years too old for trick-or-treating, but never let it be said that I don't know how to have a good time.

Lip Balm of the Day: Lavender Lemonade

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Any Techies Out There?

I'm seriously considering attending a couple of book conventions next year.  (Scared as hell about whether I'll be able to manage it physically, and concerned about the cost, but still really thinking about it.)  If I'm going to do this, I think that a portable way to tweet/text/email would be smart, to give me an easy way to catch up with people I know online.  (You know, "I'm in the lobby, where are you?")  Also, something that will take decent pictures.  And if I could keep the phone/data charges down, that would be very, very good.  Because I can't imagine myself using it much outside of trips like this.

Can anyone recommend a good device?

I was looking at the iPod touch, but I have some reservations.  It looks like it operates on wifi and does not require a service contract, which is a major point in its favor.  And, it works as an mp3 player, which is another major point in its favor.  (My current mp3 player, which I love, is pretty well maxed out.  If I'm going to add more music to my collection, I need something with more memory.)  But being an Apple product, I also have some deep reservations.  First of all, I generally find Apple products to be way over priced.  Is there something that will give me more or less the same functions for less money?  Am I tied to iTunes on this device, or can I download music from Amazon?  Most of my music has been downloaded piecemeal, a song at a time from Amazon.  I don't want to have to jump through hoops to put the music I've already purchased on my new mp3 player.  Plus, I have never had a positive experience with iTunes, and I don't want to start beating my head against that wall now.  Does the iPod touch take decent pictures?  Are they easy to transfer to the computer so that I can blog them?

Probably, I have other questions, but those are the ones I can think of right now.  Price, ease of use, access.  Anyone have any experience with this device or recommendations for other devices that might suit my needs better?

Thanks, y'all.

Lip Balm of the Day: Peach Melba

Friday, October 21, 2011

New Look

The leaves have changed, and after almost a week of winds and some rain, a lot of them are off their trees and all over everyone's yards.  We're supposed to dry up and warm up over the weekend, and I'm looking forward to it.  We should have this kind of chilly weather for another month or two.  I'm not prepared for it.  (It takes a lot of mental preparation, doncha know.)  And then it will get really cold.

I'm not 100% sold on this new look for the blog.  But at least it's seasonal 'n stuff.  It'll probably change again soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wake Me Up

Sometimes, people are shitty.  Sometimes, on the internet the drama is so thick it's hard to tell which side is the shitty side, or if both are well intentioned, or if they're all just shitty.

So I'm posting a happy song.

And if there's ever any question, pay attention to the tshirt and Choose Life.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ya Wore Me Out, Kid

My best friend, her husband, and her son were here this afternoon for a visit.  The hubs has family here in Indiana, so they were able to carve out a little bit of time on their grand tour.  (That's not even a joke.  They've been on the road since Monday, and other than me they've seen/will see another friend, both sets of his grandparents, his father, and his sister.  All in different cities, as far as I know.)

It was nice to see Keli and Eric, but the real highlight was London.  The last time I saw him, he was about 3 months old.  He's 17 months now, and the cuteness factor was overwhelming.  We had presents for him, and once he got in the groove he really enjoyed ripping the paper.  And then once each package was completely unwrapped he had to be sure each of his parents got a good look.  The funniest thing to me was when London opened one of the packages (a book), and Eric got all excited.  "Richard Scarry!"  Keli was like, huh?  Apparently, she never read Richard Scarry as a kid (how is this possible?), so we had to explain to her that he was an author, and that his books always had a million fun things to look at.  Once the presents were all unwrapped, Eric grabbed London and immediately started reading it to him.  I have a feeling that's going to be the go to book when it's Dad's turn to read to him before bed from now on.

And then we sat down for some lunch.  Mom had made some potato soup, because it's one of those things that is really flexible and forgiving as far as timing goes.  It can sit on the stove and simmer for a while with no harm done.  (We weren't sure exactly when they were going to get here.)  I wasn't sure that London would go for it, but he loved it!  There was a smile and a "yum!" after almost every bite.  And he got very put out when Keli would sneak a spoonful for herself.  That was his soup, damn it!  There were also rolls, and London loves rolls.  So he was stuffing bites of bread in his mouth between little bits of potato and carrot from the soup.  Then his mom had what was apparently the Best. Idea. Ever!  She grabbed a little piece of his roll and dipped it in the soup.  He immediately made a dive for the soup bowl to try to do it himself.

Mom was practically incandescent with pleasure watching all this.  Especially every time he said, "Yum!"  It really was unbearably cute.

And then we all went outside so he could run around and play in the backyard.  And we could all run around after him.  I did very minimal chasing or picking up and swinging.  I would have liked to have done more, but frankly, I'm beat to my socks with what I did manage to do.  We had rain a couple of days ago, and it knocked a lot of leaves off the trees.  So Eric and London played in the leaves for awhile, which was also way adorable.  We have an old lobster trap under a tree in our backyard as decoration.  London spotted it and tried to crawl in.  Again, the cuteness factor was about 1000.  Dad managed to get pictures of some of it, although London gets weird in front of cameras and won't smile.  If he knew Dad was taking a picture there was no smile.  But there were quite a few of him playing and totally unaware of the camera.

And then it was time for them to move on.  :(  They've got a lot more miles to drive and people to see before they get home at the end of next week.  I was so glad to see them.  It was with my parents the whole time, and I didn't really get to talk to Keli about anything other than kid stuff and general chatter.  It was kind of like a 5 minute visit from an old life.  Very odd.

And now I'm all worn out.  For a good reason for once.  I took my sleeping pill early, and I hope to be crashing soon.  Night night!

Lip Balm of the Day: Gummy Bears

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something Crazy

I'm really, seriously thinking about taking on a new project.  There's a book I've read in the last few months, and it's stuck with me a bit.  Even better, it has a gorgeous cover.

Delish, don't you agree?
What I'm thinking of doing is knitting a shawl inspired by the book.  (No, there is no knitting in this book.  Just hot, macho, New York firefighters.  But knitting is my medium.)

There's a very popular shawl pattern called Clapotis.  (Pronounced clap-o-tee, or so I'm told.)  I like the concept of the shawl, but it's a rectangular, and I really prefer triangle shawls.  So right now I'm doing a bit of sketching and calculating (well, it's too late for calculating tonight, but definitely sketching) to see if I can convert it.  Several other people have done so, but not quite the way I'd like to do it.  So this will be a Becky Original, as well as my first attempt at knit design.

I've been looking for yarns to make this in, because I have a very particular idea in my head of what colors I want and how they should be used.  No dice, of course.  So I have two options as I see it.  First, I find an experienced dyer, try to explain my insane vision, and hope that whatever they come up with is in the ballpark.  Option two would be to buy some undyed yarn and all the pots and chemicals and try my hand at it myself.  While I think it would be great fun to say, "See this?  I created the design, dyed the yarn, and knit it, all by myself!" in not sure it's practical.  I keep getting hung up on the pots and chemicals (and face masks) and mess and expense of trying to dye it myself.  I've never done any dyeing, and I can't guarantee that my results would be any closer to what I see in my head than what an experienced dyer could do.  So there's that.

What I see is a shawl with lots of smokey black (they are fire fighters after all, and one of the heroes is Italian with gorgeous black hair) and splashes of red and yellow and orange.  Something that screams heat and fire.  (And also the orangey red is the hair color of the other hero.)  I want to make sure I get that smoke and fire theme across, because it would be very easy for these colors to get Halloweenie.  I don't want the yarn colors to mingle too much, or stripe.  I want what we in the fiber arts community call pooling or flashing.  Pooling is when you get, well, a pool of one color.  It can line up funny that way some times.  Flashing is like pooling, except that it zig zags across the piece creating a lightning bolt-ish effect.

If all works out as planned, I'll call the pattern Not Clap (because it borrows the theme from the Clapotis, and it's know casually amongst the knitting community as the Clap).  And then my particular shawl will be the Hot Clap-- a reference both to the pattern and the book that inspired me to knit it.

What do you think?  Too crazy or what?

Oh, and the Lip Balm of the Day is Pink Cake.  Too lazy to look up what all is in it right now, but it's yummy!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Grab a Boob Today

This totally cracks me up.  But it's also an important reminder.  So watch this video, and then grab a boob.  (Preferably one of your own.)  Practice a little self-love, ladies!


I know we spend a lot of time focusing on women and breast cancer in the month of October, but men really ought to be doing these self-exams, too.  If you've got nipples, you can get breast cancer.  So, men, give 'em a little fondle, too!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

September Gurls

I've been on a serious Bangles kick the last few days, and it finally dawned on me-- it's Jack music.  I'm going to have to take a look at some astrology references, but I think Ethan has a September birthday and Jack is December.  'Cause Jack seems to be associating this song strongly with the two of them.

On a purely aesthetic note (har), I don't like Susanna Hoffs' background vocals on this song at all.  (It's not so obvious in this live version, but her voice is a real kick in the teeth on the album version.)  She's too distinctive for background vocal and ends up standing out like a sore thumb.


The only other songs on Jack's soundtrack so far are Hazy Shade of Winter and If She Knew What She Wants.  (Jack is the "She" in that one.  He wouldn't even be offended at the idea.  He'd be the first to admit his head wasn't on quite straight (har) when he walked out on Ethan.)  So.  All Bangles.  I'm not sure if he's just a major Bangles fan, or if things will even out eventually.  I wasn't planning to start on his soundtrack yet.  In fact, I've been exceptionally lazy in the Magic/Discovery/writing department in the last couple weeks.  But I guess Jack is impatient.  He wants his happily ever after!

On a different topic, I have to admit I was wrong.  The garage sale went really well today.  Over $200 in sales and a full box less stuff packed up at the end of the day than went out this morning.  That's way better than I was expecting.  Mom is thrilled.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Oy

My mother is subject to... enthusiasms.  She gets an idea in her head, and suddenly she's off and running in 15 directions.  (Of course, I am, too.  But in me it's fun and charming.)  I wouldn't mind if it was just her.  But when Mom gets an enthusiasm, she drags Dad and I along after her, whether we want to be dragged or not.

Her latest enthusiasm is to have a garage sale.  She decided on it just this past weekend.  We're having it on Thursday.  Never mind that there's probably enough shit junk crap stuff in the garage for a professional auction house to come in and do an estate sale.  Apparently, we're going to do this one small stack of boxes at a time.  I'd be overwhelmed with joy if we could just get Goodwill or someone to come empty out the garage.  Take it!  It's free!  But no, this is all precious shit junk crap stuff, and must be sold for top dollar.

I understand, to a certain extent.  There are antiques and such in there.  Mom and Dad have somehow become the storage repository for all of *their* parents' stuff.  (Even though they both have siblings who could have, and should have, taken responsibility for some of it.)  Mom sees it all as a potential source of extra cash-- which we could certainly use.  But what Mom insists on being blind to is the fact that she lives with two people with exhausting, chronic diseases.  I can't speak for Dad, but as far as I'm concerned, the energy expended in this ridiculousness is not worth the measly buck seventy-five we're going to make on it.  A good garage sale requires preparation and advertising.  Since we're doing this last minute and on the fly, there is time for neither.  Her goal is $50.  Fifty dollars for days worth of work, and if we're lucky we'll gain an extra 2 square feet of space in the garage.  Sigh.  Considering what she's willing to part with (barely), I think we'll be lucky to get $10 out of it.

What I haven't been quite willing to tell her yet, is whatever she doesn't get rid of now, I'm tossing when she's dead.  A few sentimental items?  Sure I'll keep.  But I'm not hanging on to boxes of "antique" linens.  Furniture.  For God's sake-- there are still baby clothes in there!  (My brother and I are both in our 30s!)  I don't want it, I don't want the hassle of it.  It's gone.  If we could get rid of some of this stuff now we'd all have a better quality of life, and my brother and I won't get stuck with the burden of disposing of at least two generations worth of junk when they're gone.  Mom complained all last winter that they couldn't park in the garage because it was completely full of boxes and junk (stacked 7 feet high, with only a narrow, take-your-life-into-your-hands, walk way).  Dad has lumber in there that we moved to Indiana with us when we came here the *first* time.  That was 1989!  He won't let go of any of that, either.  It's not just Mom who is clinging to this crap for all she's worth.

And what really frosts my cookies is that Mom suggested to me last night that I go through the two-- two!-- tubs in the garage that are mine to see if I can get rid of anything.  Probably I can.  But two rubbermaid tubs vs the whole rest of the garage (plus a rented storage space-- did I mention that yet?).  Which one of these is really the problem?  And she keeps coming in to ask me if I'm really sure that I don't mind if she puts out this piece of crap, or that pile of junk.  I finally just told her that I'm really, really sure that she can get rid of all of it.  Please!

OK, I think I better go now.  I'm getting even more annoyed than I was when I started this post, and I still have to go write up the Craigslist ad.  Damn it.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

24 Hours Later

It's been 24 hours since Penny arrived (at this point, more like 36-40 hours), and things are going well.

Oh, wait a minute.  I didn't tell you about this part, did I?  I named my new Kindle Penny.  She shipped from Pennsylvania (I know this because I checked the tracking every 5 minutes from the time I ordered her until she showed up on my doorstep on Friday), and I thought, "Pennsylvania.  Penny.  Perfect!"  I'm from Pennsylvania originally, too, so we started out with a lot in common. :p

It is different from my original Kindle, and there's been a little bit of an adjustment period.  The page turn buttons operate differently.  These click out (which is how I expected the K2's buttons to work, so I guess this is more of an un-adjustment), while the K2's buttons click on the inside edge.  I think I'm mostly used to the change in the buttons, but it is still weird every once in a while.  Also, there is now a page back button on both the left and right hand sides.  On the K2 the back button was on the left, and the button in that position on the right was the Home button.  I'm still reaching for that right hand back button when I want Home.

I don't miss the keyboard at all.  The only time I used it was when I would create a collection, and I'd type in the name.  (TBR, freebies, read, etc.)  Now there's a keyboard that pops up on the screen, and you use the up, down, left, right key to pick the letters one at a time.  Tedious, but creating new collections isn't exactly a daily project.

The funny thing about the change in size and button location is that I sometimes try to navigate as if I'm reading on my Sony Pocket.  They have 10 buttons down the right side that allow you to pick which book you want off the list.  With the Kindle you still have to use navigation buttons at the bottom center of the device to pick your book.  You basically do it the same way you do on the old Kindle, except the button is in a different place-- coincidentally the same spot that it's in on the Pocket, so that probably assists in the brain glitch.

So those are the things that are weird or different or that I just plain have to adjust to.

I'm loving that it is significantly lighter than the old Kindle.  The screen looks really good, and even though the overall unit is much smaller the screen is the same size.  The advanced e-ink gives a sharper image, and there's greater contrast between the text and the background, which makes it easier on the eyes.  There's none of the screen "flash" that so many people hated in earlier versions.  And it's much faster.  Sometimes, with the old Kindle, I would give it a command-- click the Home button for instance-- and then I'd sit and wait.  And wait.    And WAIT for it to finally take me there.  There's no waiting with the Penny.  I hit the Home button, and I'm on the Home screen.  No waiting.  It's lovely.  Even transferring stuff is faster.  The K2 was on Whispernet (Sprint, I believe), and signal strength isn't always so great.  Penny operates off of my home wifi, and so far it's worked like a dream.

To wrap up, there are some things that are different, and I'm adjusting.  There are some other things that work really well-- better than my original-- and I'm thrilled about that.  At 24 hours into our relationship (or 36-40 hours, whatever) I'm very happy with my purchase.  And at $79 I feel it was an excellent deal.

Oh, and the lip balm of the day is: Gummy Bear.  Yum!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Today Was a Good Day

I had an excellent day today.  First of all, I had the house to myself all day long.  Mom and Dad went with their Sunday School class to some sort of Jesus museum.  (It had dinosaurs.  I don't even pretend to understand that one.)  Anyway, this place was a couple hours away, so between driving there, touring, having lunch and dinner, and driving home again, I didn't see them until 9pm.  It was lovely and peaceful.

And then the thing that I'd been waiting for since Wednesday finally happened.  My brand new Kindle arrived!  It's light and little and adorable.  I spent some time loading books for the quarterly reading challenge that started at midnight, and then I started a library book that I was able to download wirelessly onto the new Kindle.

As if all of that wasn't happy making enough, my name was drawn in a contest on twitter.  I got a free advance copy of Carina Press's holiday m/m anthology!  In it is a new story by one of my very favorite authors-- Josh Lanyon.  Woo hoo!

Some craft supplies that I'd ordered were delivered, and I ate queso dip and tortilla chips for dinner.  (I'm a grown up, I can eat whatever I want for dinner.  Also, my mommy wasn't here to say no.)

After that, Mom and Dad came home, and we talked about their trip, and then we watched about half an episode of Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, which happened to feature a place here in Indianapolis and another place in Bucks County, PA (which is where we're from originally).  And then we all retreated to our rooms, Mom and Dad to zonk out in exhaustion, and me to watch some random stuff off the dvr and write this post.

Really, it was a fantastic day!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I'm Magic, Baby

Today was the last day of Lani's Making Magic class.  We talked about Discovery and how important that is to your writing.  Very inspiring stuff.  (I'm still a little unclear about the difference between Magic and Discovery, especially since two of the homework assignments are the same, but if it gets the juices flowing I guess it doesn't matter.)  I have lots of ideas bouncing around in my head, and I'm pretty sure those ideas are going to lead to other ideas which will eventually lead to a good story.

Yay, me!

Next weekend the Discovery class starts.  The first lesson is Soundtracks.  I might refine the one I've already put together in Magic.  I've already done a little bit of fiddling with it.  But mostly I want to poke around in tropes and with my collage (which is still 99% in my head and 0% assembled.)

Have I shared my soundtrack yet?  Here it is:

Back to December- Taylor Swift
Fuck You- Cee Lo Green
Hit the Road Jack- Ray Charles
Human Heart- Carey Ott
If We Ever Meet Again- Katy Perry/Timbaland
Last Christmas- Glee Cast
Lush Life- Natalie Cole
Make You Feel My Love- Adele
Need You Now- Lady Antebellum
Turning Tables- Adele
Valerie- Amy Winehouse
What'll I Do- Rosemary Clooney
Breathe- Melissa Etheridge
Come On Up To the House- Sarah Jarosz
St. Patrick's Day- John Mayer
Big Bang Theory- Barenaked Ladies

St. Patrick's Day and Big Bang Theory are new additions.  St. Patrick's Day sparked a thought about structure (believe it or not), and led to some interesting (IMO) changes and plans.  I'm not 100% sure Big Bang Theory really belongs, although it sort of feels like it does.  Don't know why yet.  Mostly I just added it because I started watching the show this week (one of the local channels started airing two episodes a day during the "everyone else is running the evening news" time slot).  I don't know how I missed this show before. It's very funny, and the theme song is fucking addictive.  I figured, if I'm going to be humming the damn thing constantly anyway, might as well add it to the soundtrack.  I'd been thinking that Ethan was perhaps a tad bit nerdy, and this just reinforces it.  (Oh, please God, tell me I'm not going to have to learn how to play some table top, roll playing, 20 sided die game as research.  I love me some nerd boy, but that is totally not my thing.)

I think Breathe is going to have to come off the soundtrack, though.  The more I listen to all of it, the more I think that it's the other guy's song, not Ethan's.  And while some of those songs speak to the relationship as a whole, this is mostly Ethan's soundtrack.  The other guy will have his own soundtrack later.

Oh, oh, oh!  Good news!  The Other Guy has a name!  He's Jack.  It was right there, staring me in the face, and I finally got it.  (Hit the Road Jack.)

I think that's about all the writing news I have at the moment.  Eventually I'll get the collage done(ish), and I'll post a picture of that.  Oh, and while we're supposed to be working on soundtracks, which I feel pretty solid about at the moment, I'll be working on Kelley Armstrong's Outlining 101.  It's fabulous.  This is the program I followed (in my own special, Becky-ish way) in 2007, which was by far my best, most productive NaNo year.  (National Novel Writing Month for anyone unfamiliar.)  I want to mesh some of Lani's Magic/Discovery work with Kelley's Outlining 101 to hopefully get me on the right track and revved up for November 1st.  (I hadn't been planning to NaNo this year, but what the hell.  And since I'm off in my own world, doing my own thing and making it up as I go along, I might just start before Nov 1!  I know.  I'm such a rebel!)

If you're interested in checking out Kelley's writing info, go to her website, kelleyarmstrong.com, and join her forum and the OWG (Online Writing Group).  That's where you'll find her NaNo prep stuff, as well as lots of talented and welcoming fellow writers.

And now I think I really am done.  Pretty jazzed about all the work ahead of me.  But it's fun work.  Fwerk!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Think I Broke Myself

Ouch.

From now on my parents aren't allowed to have birthdays a week apart anymore.  I've been out of the house more in the last two weeks than probably the last six months.  Today should be the last for a while.  Mom and I went to Walmart so that I could pick up a Wii game for Dad.  And I needed some OTC meds, and a birthday card, and some conditioner.

Basically, it was the first time I've been to Walmart with my own money in over a year.  So I bought stuff.  And I wore myself out.  I'd just barely recovered from all the running around last week, and now I'm going to be spending the next couple of days in bed and in pain again.  I got all sweaty (a major sign that I'm over doing it), and I'm too tired and too ouchy to get a shower.  So I guess I'm just going to have to sleep sticky tonight and hope that I can manage it tomorrow.

And then Saturday is Dad's birthday dinner.

I'm taking my sleeping pill early tonight.  If I'm lucky maybe I'll sleep 'til Tuesday.

Ow.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It Breaks My Heart

Another gay teen has committed suicide, at least in part due to bullying.  Jamey Rodemeyer was subjected to online harassment such as: " JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT ANND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!" and "I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!"

How is this happening?  Bullying isn't exactly a new problem.  I went through some fairly significant harassment as a kid, although it had nothing to do with my sexuality.  But this is so vicious.  I can't imagine any reason, any justification for telling someone to go kill themselves.  Where is the human decency?  It takes purpose and energy to be this horrible.  These aren't careless statements.  It's not dragging someone else down to make yourself feel better.  This is just evil.

What can be done about this?  How do you stop the evil?  I suspect it's going to take updating laws to hold people responsible for their online behavior.  That takes time and probably won't help the next Jamey Rodemeyer, who is being harassed right this minute.  The only thing I can think of that can make a difference right now is to support, with your money and your time, the various anti-bullying and gay-support groups out there.  The Trevor Project is a national organization specifically working on the problem of gay teen suicide.  GLAAD and PFLAG are working on all kinds of issues in the gay community.  There are also lots of local organizations.  ALSO Out Youth is a group in Sarasota, FL that is doing good work with teens and could really use your support.  And the Gay & Lesbian Youth Services of Western New York is the group in Jamey Rodemeyer's hometown.

If you've got other ideas about how to fix this problem, please share them.  Because something must be done.  And if there's a group in your area doing good work with at risk teens, please spread the word.  These groups need all the support they can get.

Here's an article with more info about Jamey: teenager struggled with bullying before taking his life.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brainstorming

I don't remember if I told you this or not (I started to write a post about it, fairly sure that I never finished), but I'm taking one of Lani's writing classes, Making Magic.  Last week we worked on soundtracks, this week we're doing collages.  I'm not visually artistic, so I'm struggling a bit. (Well, except for knitting, but that's more about following a pattern and mastering the mechanics.  You're on your own with collage.)

I'm supposed to be picking placeholders-- pictures of people, often actors, who represent the characters.  Sometimes it's the look, sometimes it's about the attitude or personality.  Whatever you need to help you make that person real in your head, until they take over and become their own person.  (People who've done much in the way of fiction writing will know what I mean.)

One of my characters, Ethan, is coming in pretty strong for me right now.  This is his story, told from his point of view.  He had this great boyfriend who dumped him suddenly right before Christmas, and he can't get over it.  He's bitter.  He doesn't understand why.  And now Christmas is coming around again, and so is the ex.  My big problem with Ethan is that I can't settle on what he looks like.  He's kind of an amorphous blob at the moment.  He shifts every time I look too close.  I can feel what he's feeling and know what he's thinking, but he won't let me see his face.

I have an image for the ex.  He's a pilot, I think.  I don't know what his name is yet.  So far he's been Dave, Dan, and Brad.  None of them fit.  So I'm just going to keep playing the "what name pops into my mind first" game periodically, and see what else comes up.  My biggest problem with Dave/Dan/Brad is that I don't know what is motivating him.  He basically walked out on Ethan, completely gone, out of his life, a couple days before Christmas.  Why?  What made him do that?  As far as Ethan is concerned, it was a douchey thing to do.  I know Dave/Dan/Brad had a reason for behaving that way.  It's got to be realistic, understandable, and redeemable.  Because I want these two guys together again.  But I don't know what the reason is.

What could make someone walk out on a relationship so suddenly?  What would make them change their mind a year later?  In my mind it feels like commitment phobia.  But does anyone want a hero who walks away utterly, no contact at all, and then appears a year later and says he wants you back?  How do you justify it?  How do you forgive it?

I did have one big revelation today.  It has to do with the structure of the story.  The first part is unquestionably Ethan's.  He's a teacher, so the story starts off at the beginning of the school year.  As the school year progresses, he finds himself rehashing the relationship.  Remembering the good times, re-examining those moments that might have been warning signs of what was to come.  Because he was really hit out of the blue when Dave/Dan/Brad walked away.  As we get closer to Christmas and the one year anniversary of the break up, Ethan gets madder.  The story ends with Dave/Dan/Brad knocking on the door a year after he left.  (You can play with stuff like this in m/m.  There's a lot more flexibility.  But it would never fly in mainstream romance.)

The second part of the story picks up from there.  It's all told from Dave/Dan/Brad's point of view.  (I really need to get a name for this guy.)  It will also cover two parallel time lines, his build up to walking out a year ago and his present struggle to get Ethan to take him back, with a little dash of how much he missed him after walking out.

So for the immediate future, I'm not too bad.  Ethan's story is first, and while I can't see him very well, I can feel him.  My biggest concern is that without knowing for sure what's going on with the Other Guy (I just can't type that list of names again-- it's getting depressing), I can't layer it in at all.  But then, Ethan is also clueless about what happened, so maybe it's not too bad.  More a question of whether or not I want to clue the reader in before Ethan figures everything out.  (That balance between letting the reader feel smart for figuring it out without making the character look dumb for not figuring it out.)

So.  Thoughts?  Why do people just get up and walk out one day, and what changes inside to let them come back?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where No Blog Has Gone Before

There are many subjects I've addressed on this blog that have had certain readers reaching for the brain bleach.  My hemorrhoids.  Farkle the Friendly Carbuncle.  Probably some other stuff that's not coming to mind at the moment.  But there's one thing I haven't addressed: sex.

That's hard for me.  Although you may doubt this considering some of the other things I've chosen to share, I really am a very private person.  I have a hard time putting myself out there, expressing my desires, and I think it's the biggest reason why at 36 I still have limited relationship experience.  I hide it all behind a wall, and I've been told that reserve can be pretty intimidating.  That boggles my mind, because I often feel too intimidated to reach out.  (Actually, that bit crosses over into platonic relationships.  It's scary for me sometimes even to hold a hand out in friendship.  Once I push through that self-imposed barrier I usually do OK.  But making first contact is *hard*.  And it's almost as hard to reach out a second time if for some reason communication peters off.)

I'm not quite sure how I ended up on that tangent.  That's not where I was heading with this.  I guess maybe I just wanted to say that this is an area that I'm not the most comfortable getting personal about.

My current situation-- disabled, mid-thirties, living with puritanical parents-- doesn't make having a sex life easy, even the kind that doesn't require a partner.  It's a pretty neglected area of my life.

The last few days have been unusual to say the least.  In the normal run of things I leave the house about once a month.  In the last three days I've been to Michaels, Hobby Lobby (twice), Meijer, the vet, my brother's house (briefly), Buca di Beppo to pick up dinner, and then Mom's birthday dinner at home last night.  By the time my brother and sister-in-law left around 10 I was completely exhausted and in major pain.

And then I got online.  I got a wild hair and wandered over to a personals site that I poke around at every once in a while.  I had a couple of lovely, raunchy conversations, and by the time I logged off I was a new woman.  I was relaxed.  I felt good, with far less pain than I'd had in days.  My feel good still isn't normal.  If I think about it I realize that I have a low-level, nagging headache, and my body still hurts.  But the change is amazing.

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here.  Maybe I just needed to tell someone how wonderful this was.  Maybe I need to start cracking open this part of my life.  It's not something that I plan to go into intimate detail about.  But just acknowledging that I have sexual desires instead of keeping it all locked down tight feels like a good first step.  It helps that I still feel, for me, fucking fantastic.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Oh, Lawsy

It's been an oh, lawsy kind of day.

I've got a friend who is scheduled to pop sometime in October.  She's been on bedrest for a while now, and she had to see the doctor today for possible preeclampsia.  (For anyone unfamiliar with pregnancy stuff, that's not good.)  I was very happy to hear just a little bit ago that the baby is a-ok.  They are talking about inducing her on the 27th, but the doc thinks the baby may come sooner.

Oh, lawsy.  I'm going to have to get it in gear if I'm going to get my gift to the baby before she arrives.  We call her mama Diva, and it surprises me not at all that her Sweet Pea is looking to make a grand entrance.

I got an email from my sister-in-law late this evening.  She's invited me to join a Bible study that starts tomorrow.  Oh, lawsy.  I want to be social.  I appreciate the invitation and that she wants to include me.  But a once a week Bible study is pretty much the exact last thing I want to do.

Suggestion on this one would be much appreciated.  Do I politely decline the first away-from-the-rest-of-the-family overture from her, or do I say yes and spend 2 hours a week for the next month studying something I'm actively resistant to learning?

Wednesday is my mother's birthday.  Got an email from Amazon.  Estimated delivery date on her present is Thursday.  Oh, lawsy.

This morning I went out for the first time in a month to check out craft supplies for the collage I'm supposed to be making for my writing class.  First place I go is Michaels, with 50% off coupons in hand.  I can't find a single thing I'm looking for, and every single employee is in a staff meeting at the back of the store, so I can't find anyone to help me.  Oh, lawsy.

So I slog next door to Hobby Lobby, where they have exactly what I want, well organized and all in the same section, and multiple staff members in the aisles, ready to help me find stuff.  I spent some money, got exactly what I wanted, and got out.  But not before becoming completely exhausted and overheated.  Oh. lawsy.  Too much.  Next time I'm skipping Michaels, I don't care how good the coupons are.

See what I mean?  It was an oh, lawsy kind of day.

Lip Balm of the Day: Orange Snowballs