Things Of Little Consequence

I have changed the format of my blog. After playing with both the old style and a daily blogger, I find I prefer the latter. This should mean more frequent updates, so check back often. Feedback, as always, is welcome. The previous logs are archived here

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From now on, the newer blog entries will be located at this link. The older ones will remain archived here.

Sunday, August 1st, 2004

Oh. My. God. I am never sleeping or venturing outdoors again. Ever. Click here if you enjoy twitching in horror at the same time you're giggling in repulsed fascination. One word: Ewww...

I've also lately discovered a site dedicated to the merciless sporking of MarySue fanfiction. Hysterical reading, really it is. I will have to add this to my list of recommended links. Cackling at the determinedly clueless has made me feel so much better about myself after a bad week. Click here to feel superior while you get your giggles. Or, if you happen to write bad fanfic, to possibly get pissed off while other people laugh at you. Either way.

This has been an unpleasant week, for the most part. It's been hot. My stomach has been upset off and on. I spent a few days in a deep, black depression, the kind in which you *hope* that a large comet will strike the earth and kill us all. I've had a headache that only goes away temporarily but then comes back for more. Today, I have both cramps AND a headache. Fabulous. I'm so thrilled.

Her Majesty the Cat has been faring better, I think. Her method of coping with the heat is to sprawl in a cool(er) spot and sleep or to snooze in her window-hammock until the birds wake her up. Pictures of Her Majesty are here and here.

I hear the first season of 'Millennium' has been released to DVD. I'm planning to look for it when I go into town tomorrow or Tuesday. I hope the other seasons come out soon, too. The show was utter nihilistic doom and darkness; how could I not love it? Actually, I rather prefer the idea of a powerful, secret cabal influencing the fate of humanity. The alternative would mean a muddled course of sheer stupidity, which is just too depressing for words. I can respect evil brilliance, because at least intelligence is involved.

Okay, gotta go eat something before it gets too hot.

No song for today. The theme music from the movie "X2" has been playing in my head, though. Does that count?

Still reading through the Charlotte MacLeod series, alternating with Wallace Black Elk's recounting of his life as a Lakota shaman.


Friday, July 23rd, 2004

(Okay, this was actually posted on Saturday, because the server was down until now. But it was written on Friday.)

I got my lawn mowed over the last couple of days, yay me. In the summer it's simply too hot to work in the yard during the day, so I wait until the sun is close to setting and it starts to get a bit cooler. I've been mowing at about 8:30 p.m.

I can hear some of you thinking, 'Wait a minute, don't you work in the evenings?' Well yes. But don't forget I work at home, and I am allotted a dinner break. Instead of eating, I go outside and do some yard work, then run back inside, sponge off, and plop back down in my seat when my break is over. If I get hungry at some point I can always grab something out of the kitchen and eat while I type. Considering I consistently exceed the daily quota required for bonuses, I don't think anyone is likely to complain that it slows my work down.

I've been trying to eat more fruit lately. I like the taste, but I find I don't care for the texture. My solution has been to drink it. I have frozen pineapple, strawberries, blackberries, and sliced bananas in my freezer. I run a mixture of them through my blender with a little pineapple juice and water, and voila! Cold, frothy, delightful liquid fruit. Much tastier than the smoothies you might buy elsewhere, and healthy to boot.

Another day of impossibly bright blue sky with nary a cloud. It's beautiful, but I hope it will get cloudy later this afternoon and keep it from getting too hot.

I have two more days of work to get through before my weekend but am already planning my errands for my days off. I like to organize in such a way that my driving around is kept to a minimum, but it is especially important now that my usual route into the county seat is having road work done. As the saying goes, we have four seasons here in Montana: Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction. I like driving around when conditions are just right, otherwise I try to minimize it or avoid it altogether.

The song for today is 'For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)' by AC/DC. I woke up with this one rattling around in my head.

Am currently re-reading the Sarah Kelling mysteries by Charlotte MacLeod.


Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

Last week was so hot. Several days of unrelenting heat finally took their toll, and I ended up sick as a dog. I have five, count 'em, five industrial strength fans running throughout the house when it heats up plus my room A/C unit. When it reaches a certain point, I shed the clothes and sit at the computer in my underwear. (Sorry for the mental images, but it's true.) I kept drinking water, but it just wasn't enough. To make things worse, when it gets that hot and I start feeling badly I don't want to eat. That only made me sicker. By Saturday I was in bad shape, swilling Maalox and taking Zantac round the clock to try to keep my stomach from hurting so much, dizzy and weak. Not good.

Her Majesty the Cat suffered, too. She spent the days sprawled out on the linoleum in an attempt to keep cool. She still insisted on following me everywhere I went in the house, but she could no longer manage her habitual rapid trot. She was limited to a slow, weary plod, glancing up at me every so often as if to say, 'I'm coming...' By Saturday she was sick, too.

I really hope the worst of this is over. We may not get temperatures quite as high as those further south, but we just aren't equipped to handle heat. Most places don't have air conditioning at all, many stores that do have it don't seem to get very cool. I have a portable room A/C for the living room, since I work there. It chugs along doggedly but just can't do more than keep the area directly in front of it a bit cooler. This place, after all, has aluminum siding, leaky windows, and the blazing sun beating on said windows and siding from about noon till 7 p.m. I live in a solar cooker.

Enough whining for now. Please keep your fingers crossed that my broiling and resultant suffering will be kept to a minimum.

I went out to refill the bird feeders the other day. (In the evening. When it started to cool a little.) They were ALL empty. I've had a pair of wee fledgling woodpeckers going through the suet cakes. They prefer the peanut suet; the fruit and nut suet is acceptable, but not until the peanut suet is gone. The birdseed bell had its netting half-chewed; I know the culprit is a chipmunk, I saw him hanging upside down by his feet to get at it the other day. I put up a new bell with new netting, and scattered a fruit and nut mix under the tree and in one hanging feeder, plain seed in the other feeder. That should keep everyone happy. They didn't even wait until I was done to start flitting over my head; I imagine some of those chirps and twitters translate to, 'What took you so long?!' Mea culpa.

The song for today is 'Rump Shaker' by Wreckx-N-Effect. You probably don't want to know.


Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

The mouse I suspected I had finally made an appearance. HMtC snagged it and began to parade around proudly with it, but did not kill it. This was her first mistake. Then she began to play with it - dropping it and letting it start to run, then pouncing again. Repeatedly. Meanwhile, I was trying to grab it by the tail somehow so I could fling it outside. At one point it ran right over my foot, causing me to shriek and do that wholly ineffectual little dance we do when caught by surprise by small pests.

Then she made her second mistake: she let it get too close to an avenue of escape. She was a shade too slow and the wounded mouse shot under a piece of furniture, then under the door into the closet where the hot water heater sits. There is a small drain hole in the floor there (so the place doesn't flood if the heater leaks); I am really hoping it went out that way, as opposed to, say, squeezing behind the hot water heater and dying there.

When she realized it had escaped her, if cats were able to look dismayed, she would have had the expression down cold. She wouldn't meet my eyes for awhile, either. She knew she blew it. I told her I was proud of her anyway, and to be sure and kill it the next time.

After this little brouhaha, I had to drive to town to run some errands. It was hot out. I do not like hot, not at all. It makes me headachy and sick if I have to be out in it for long. So I go from air-conditioned shop to air-conditioned shop about as quickly as I can.

First stop, a little storefront, locally owned coffee roaster for 2 lbs. of coffee beans. Then on to the metaphysical shop to visit. I usually treat myself to one piece of the chocolate made with organic honey they sell there. I don't eat sweets anymore, this is basically all I allow myself. And, holy cats, is it good. Semi-orgasmic, even. I even make the little moaning noises as I eat it, much to the amusement of whoever is in the store. I can't help myself.

After my visit there was done, I had to venture to the ninth circle of Hell... I mean Wal-Mart. I don't like shopping there, in case you hadn't guessed, but sometimes I just can't avoid it. I try to make my visits as brief as possible and heave a sigh of relief when I walk out. There's a special breed of people that apparently only exist to scuffle slowly through the aisles, blocking traffic and looking like they belong in an outtake of 'Cops.' They all live at Wal-Mart, I am convinced of it. And we must have some of the grumpiest greeters on Earth. They always glare at me when I smile and say hello. I'm not sure what the message in that is supposed to be; 'Welcome to Wal-Mart, we hope you drop dead?' Very strange.

Got home, changed out of my damp, sweaty clothes (I do not like being hot!), and had some quality snuggling with Her Majesty the Cat on the bed. Life is good.

The song for today is "What Do I Have To Do?" by Stabbing Westward.


Thursday, July 8th, 2004

Ooohh, had another nasty headache last night. That's two in as many weeks. I'd like it to stop now, please. I thought I was done with the migraine thing awhile back.

I had another encounter with the wild turkeys yesterday, before the headache came. I stepped out into the side yard to get photos of some interesting little yellow-orange mushrooms I'd seen earlier. While I was there, the turkeys came wandering up the drive as they did the last time, saw me, and threw a fit. They did not 'tut, tut' at me this time. No, this time they raised an unholy racket that was probably heard for quite a distance. I'm wondering if perhaps I was too close to a nest with eggs, that's all I can think of to explain their reaction.

Over the weekend I also had a skunk in my yard. Well, I've often had skunks nearby, I can tell by the odor! This one was out during the day, which is very unusual. They're nocturnal creatures, by and large. He was only out briefly, foraging under the birch tree where the bird feeders are. This was the littlest skunk I've ever seen, just about the size of a gray squirrel; he can't be much older than a baby. I also suspect he may be living under the house, yay me. As long as he doesn't spray...

I had to go to the doctor's office on Monday to get my prescription refilled. Annoying, having to spend the money and time just so the doctor can peer into my eyes and mouth, and listen to my lungs, while I tell him, yes, nothing's changed, I'm fine. Just give me the damned script, will you? Then he insisted on writing it to reflect the fact that I take a half-pill a day now instead of a full pill. Because of that, the pharmacy ended up giving me half as many pills. What used to last me for two months now has to be refilled once a month instead. When I asked why, they told me my insurance company won't allow more than a month's supply at a time - this even though THEY AREN'T PAYING FOR THEM! So now instead of going through this entire rigamarole again in a year, I will have to do it in six months to renew the damned thing. Spare me from bureaucracy.

It's chilly today. I'm not complaining, mind you; I'd far rather have grey, cool summer days as opposed to blazing hot, kill-me-now summer days. I'm just reporting. I'd also rather have rain as opposed to wildfires, even when this means my grass is getting long again.

The song for today is "All Souls' Night" by Loreena McKennitt.


Sunday, July 4th, 2004: ~Happy Independence Day~

I went to see Michael Moore's 'Fahrenheit 9/11' today. I hadn't thought I'd get the chance since it wasn't expected to play here in the valley. I guess the demand was high enough across the nation in the opening week that more theaters are starting to carry it.

Whatever your political affiliation, and whatever your opinion of Michael Moore himself, I recommend seeing this movie. You may not agree with every point he makes, but it will still give you food for thought. If it does nothing else, it will make you look at just how high the human cost of war is for everyone involved - that is something that should never be allowed to fade into the background. Ever.

There are places you will snort will laughter. There are parts that will make you very angry. And there are at least three places where you will cry. The first is near the beginning, when the audio of the planes hitting the World Trade towers is played with a black screen. It is devastating. The visual is so impressive that I think we never noticed much else; with only sound, sitting in the dark, the noise of destruction, screams and crying have so much more impact.

The second time comes when an Iraqi woman is screaming and crying after bombs have destroyed her home and killed much of her family. No matter your origin, grief is grief and pain is pain. Very few people can be unaffected by the sight of it. If you ARE unaffected by it, then I'm sorry for you - you've lost your humanity.

The third time is when we see Lila Lipscomb of Flint, MI, a woman who had encouraged her children to join the military, dealing with the aftermath of her son's death in Karbala. There were several points through this segment that brought tears to my eyes, but the sight of her on the sidewalk in front of the White House, bent double with sobbing, took the last of my control away. I have tears in my eyes again now, remembering it.

I had not expected a large crowd at this movie, regardless of the response elsewhere. Montana is largely conservative and republican. However, the theater was nearly full. The audience contained people in their late teens all the way to senior citizens. And when the credits rolled, the audience broke into applause. At a movie! I've never seen that before here. We all walked out quiet, subdued, and more than few were red-eyed.

Please go see this movie. It will anger you, it will distress you, it will make your heart hurt. And that is exactly why you need to see it.


Wednesday, June 30th, 2004

Today was my first day back to work after a week off. It actually wasn't too bad. The department had implemented a software update while I was gone that was full of bugs and caused a lot of headaches - which I missed, tee hee. When the updated update was loaded on my workstation today it worked for a few hours, then crashed. While the software company and our IS dept. fiddled around trying to figure out the problem and fix it, I clocked out, had a leisurely cup of coffee, and played a bit with the engraver I bought yesterday. Always take advantage of your small reprieves, is my philosophy. They fixed the problem after awhile and I clocked back in to finish out my shift.

There was a fairly good thunderstorm here last night in the wee hours of the morning. I lay in bed with the blinds open for a while, watching the lightning until it passed over. A couple of the strikes were close enough that I worried briefly about fire, but it started pouring shortly afterward. It was clear by morning. Another storm passed over in mid afternoon. That was definitely a good thing, in my opinion, because it cooled the day down a bit.

Unlike me, however, HMtC does not like thunderstorms and spent most of the time hiding in a kitchen cabinet. When she finally came out she was still very anxious for awhile. She spent some time under my chair, sitting on my foot. Walking anywhere was slow going because she glued herself to my ankles. Once she relaxed enough to move back to visual distance (as opposed to touching distance), she conked out pretty soundly on the couch. Anxiety is tiring. Unfortunately, I can see more clouds rolling in and more thunder is probably on the way. Poor cat, I think she'll be back in the cabinet soon.

Shortly before sunset, I stepped outside to get some fresh air and see how the clouds were faring. While I stood there, my resident pair of wild turkeys came wandering up the drive. They saw me, stopped, and veered into the edge of the woods where they 'tut, tutted' at me indignantly. What does it say that I said, 'All right, all right..' and went back into the house so they could continue unimpeded into the back yard?

I tried a new bread recipe yesterday - it has rosemary and a touch of garlic. Very tasty, I think it's a keeper.

The song for today is "All Star" by Smash Mouth. It really just seems to fit my day.


Monday, June 28th, 2004

There's another damned mouse wandering through my walls. I think it's also traveling in the heating ducts. Stupid thing. You would think the smell of Cat would keep them away. I'm reluctant to put out poison because I don't want to end up poisoning other animals that might eat the mouse. Traps are also a problem: the mouse is so far in places I can't access, and I certainly don't want HMtC to stick her paw in. (If *I* can reach it, her little paws surely can.) So what in the hell do I do?

Otherwise, I'm feeling reasonably productive for the last 24 hours. I have bread baking; I wrapped and mailed my father's birthday presents; the lawn is mowed - front, back and side; the grocery shopping is done; the bird feeders are all refilled; the bills in thus far are paid. Life is good.

I'm getting another headache at the moment, but I think this one is because I got too much sun today. It was fairly hot earlier this afternoon. I've got most of my big fans unpacked and scattered about the place already. I think it's also time to bring the air conditioner out and set it up. I found a marvelous A/C a couple of years ago. It's on wheels so you can roll it into any room, and it vents through a dryer-type hose out the nearest window. It makes a big difference during the hottest part of the day.

At the moment it's overcast and cooler, which is much nicer. Maybe we'll actually get some rain, but I won't hold my breath. It's probably too much to hope for. And the woods get crunchier...

The song for today is 'Don't Bring Me Down' by ELO. That one can always make me get up and dance.

*munch* Mmmmmm, hot fresh bread...


Saturday, June 26th, 2004

I don't feel very well today. Last night I had probably the worst headache I've ever had, plus pounding heart and tightness in my throat. It was awful. It was so very bad that I almost called my friend D. to ask if she could drive me to the hospital. After Motrin, a heating pad and several hours, it finally eased enough to where I could doze off and get a little sleep. This was well after dawn, mind you. Now that I'm awake again I can feel the headache lurking, ready to return. I hope it doesn't. Plus my stomach is upset. So what the hell is this all about? Whatever, I hope it's over soon.

Her Majesty the Cat had reason to remind me yesterday that certain clothing - underwear and suchlike - may not be folded fresh from the dryer. They are to be dumped in a heap on the bed, and it is the perogative of The Cat to burrow amongst them until such time as they are no longer snuggly-warm. Only then may they be folded and tidied away. Failure to observe this household courtesy will result in much distress and sulking. Mea culpa.

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Mmph. I felt so badly that I went back to bed for a couple of hours, this time allowing HMtC to come with me. She spent the entire time curled up on my legs, purring madly. (She loves to be allowed to nap with me.) After another doze, I actually feel somewhat better; enough to try putting something in my stomach. We'll see how that goes. So far the headache hasn't come back, for which I am immensely grateful.


Wednesday, June 23rd, 2004

My new glasses came in today. I am now trying like hell to get used to them. The prescription itself didn't change terribly much, just a bit. The worst part is adjusting to the new frames. My old glasses had very large frames; the new ones are about one-third the size. They certainly look better, and also come with these nifty little sunglass frames that clip on by way of magnets. It's just that they're so small, if I'm not looking straight-ahead at something it isn't as sharp as I'm used to. If I look way up, way down, or way to the side without turning my head, it's blurry.

Everyone I know who made this transition had the same problems but adjusted after a few days. I know that will likely be the case with me. It's just the meantime that's giving me a mild headache.

Of course, that last could also be attributed to the weather today. It's been hot and humid, which tends to make me irritable. It rained a little here and there (and hailed a bit as I drove down to pick up the glasses), but not enough to cool things down. Definitely time to change to the cooler bed sheets.

Otherwise, I'm enjoying my week off. I can't really afford to travel anywhere, so I've been doing the next best thing - shopping. Well, that was also partly a reaction to buying the new glasses; I was already spending more money than I wanted on them, so I decided I might as well continue the trend a little. My rationale was that I didn't have many summer clothes - which was true enough, as far as that went.

As much as I enjoy buying new clothes, I do not like to window shop. I never have. In fact, I tend to loathe it. What's the point of looking if you can't buy? Hey, I'll just torment myself by looking at things I can't have! What fun! ... I've never understood it. I only enjoy the hunt when it's successful. If you aren't bearing a trophy home in triumph, it was a waste of time.

I think Thursday will be a good day to be lazy. I've promised myself one day to rent an armload of DVDs and just watch movies. Maybe I'll make some popcorn, too.

The song for today is "No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature" by The Guess Who.


Sunday, June 20th, 2004

Earlier this afternoon I was sitting at my desk and heard a godawful scraping and banging up on the roof. Being the incredibly self-sufficient woman I am, I put on my shoes and went outside to see what on earth was going on. I found one of the wild turkeys pacing back and forth on my roof, squawking in her distress, and a big, fat, orange neighbor cat sitting on the lawn underneath. Just HOW this cat thought he could catch a bird bigger than he is, I have no idea. He gave it a damned good try, though, and let it be known he didn't see any reason to let the turkey's escape to roof cause him to give up. After a few minutes, the turkey got a running start, leapt off the roof and flapped to a landing several yards away, and ran off into the woods at a very impressive speed, squawking the entire way. The cat ran after her a short distance, then changed his mind and came over to me for some petting and being told how silly he was to think he could catch a turkey larger than he is...

I celebrated my first day of vacation today by meeting a couple of friends for an early dinner at the Chinese buffet in town. Tasty food, lively conversation, a good time was had by all.

My big plans for Monday involve getting new glasses, ooohhh, aaahhh... I'd like smaller frames this time, but the fashion right now is for those skinny rectangular ones, and I fear they would make me look like McGonagall. It's so hard to tell. The demo frames all have plain glass in them, which means I can't see a damned thing with them on and have to practically put my nose against the mirror to get some idea what they look like. I think I've found some that look flattering, but I won't be able to tell for certain until I get my prescription lenses in them. Ah, vanity..

The song for today is "Queen of Argyll," the Killdares again.


Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

Today I got the thigh-high meadow that was my back yard fully mowed. After several days that had just enough rain to make the grass wet, it finally dried out. Now the front and side need to be mowed again but that's all right. They're manageable. After having a slow start this season, I think I've finally reached a point where I can keep on top of this.

I also spent some time today scrubbing and cussing. To be blunt, the place I'm renting is something of a dump. Hardly surprising - it's old and had many previous tenants. But old or not, I should still be able to keep it clean, right?

The issue currently aggravating me is the fiberglass tub. It has horrible stains in it that just won't come out. I've scrubbed it till my arms and back ache, but I can't get rid of them. The worst part is that they have the appearance of mildew and 'dirty tub,' so it just looks like I'm a terrible housekeeper. Maybe there's some secret domestic solution I never learned. Until I find out what it is, I fear I'm stuck with a nasty-looking tub.

In other news, our local metaphysical shop will be shutting its doors before long. The owner told me that her sales have gone way, way down since the local Borders bookstore opened. As a small business, she just can't complete. The last time I spoke to her she was planning to sell the building to settle her debts and move the business itself to a smaller location, carrying fewer books and more of everything else. At my group meeting last night, one of the members said she subsequently decided to throw in the towel altogether. That's a real shame. She's the only shop of that sort in the valley, we'll be left high and dry.

It's hard for me to believe there hasn't been enough support to sustain it. It's a popular place. I'm in there myself every week, mostly to keep in touch, but I make a point of buying something every time, even if it's just a pack of incense. I guess not enough people have been doing that. I'll be sorry to see it go.

Monday, June 14th, 2004

This is supposed to be my day off. Unfortunately, I'll be spending it working an extra shift. The boss did not come directly out and say that I couldn't have my vacation if I didn't work this extra shift, but it was heavily implied. To state the obvious, this does not please me. At least I have tomorrow off before starting the work week anew.

HMtC got squirted a little while ago. When she was younger, she liked to engage in a lot of behavior she wasn't supposed to, and she was damned persistent about it. I always kept a squirt bottle full of water on hand to dissuade her. She usually ended up soaked before she finally decided to go do something else.

As she's gotten older I seldom need to use it. I did today. I had brought home some roses yesterday and have them in a vase by the window. HMtC looks upon all plants as a combination of snacks and toys for her amusement. If she would just limit herself to *one* leaf or blossom, it would be all right. But she doesn't - once it hits the ground it isn't interesting anymore and she wants a new one. A nibble here and there would be acceptable, but she'll strip the damned thing bare. So she got squirted. And for now she's leaving the roses alone while she takes a nap, but I'm under no illusions that this game is over.

On a sadder note, the robin's nest in the birch tree is gone. Something apparently knocked the nest out of the tree and attacked the eggs. I found the broken nest on the ground next to the tree the other day, with bits of blue eggshell scattered around. *sigh* It's a shame, but it doesn't actually surprise me; it was in a fairly vulnerable location. I'd hoped it wouldn't happen, though.

I admit I had been tempted to put up some sort of protection of my own around it, but... it's best not to interfere in these things, you know? The patterns of nature have to be let to run their course. That covers a LOT of situations in life, actually. Much as I might wish otherwise.

The song for today is 'Broken With A Word' by The Killdares. I just got one of their CDs yesterday and am completely wowed by it. Celtic rock - man, something about it really stirs the blood.


Saturday, June 12th, 2004

This has been a sleepy, slow week. Grey skies, cool temperatures, and just enough rain to keep the grass too wet to mow. It seems to be sedating me, too. I've been damned near narcoleptic all week.

I've been falling asleep very shortly after my head hits the pillow and sleeping like a rock until just before my alarm goes off. 'Waking' is rather a misnomer for what I do at that point; sitting hunched over in bed with my eyes shut until I can force them to open is a closer description. I feel like I'm wading through molasses, going in slow motion. A couple of times while working this week, I've actually had to put my head down on my desk for about ten minutes, because I was unable to keep my eyes open any longer. Pathetic, but it was helpful. Perhaps I should suggest micro-napping as corporate strategy.

Maybe I should just start doing some calisthenics in the living room to get my heart pumping.

All right, I'm dragging, I'm also late for work. More later.

The song for today (and yesterday and the day before) is Double Trouble, the song the choir sings in 'Prisoner of Azkaban.' A nice little musical adaptation of the witches' spell in the Scottish play. Sticks in the mind, too.


Wednesday, June 9th, 2004

As Bobby Lewis once said, "I couldn't sleep at all last night.."

Definitely had the tossing and turning. I hate nights like that. So very tired, but the body just won't go to sleep. Today will almost certainly be a 'Coffee Achievers' sort of day. If it rains again this afternoon it will be even worse - rain is like a general anesthetic to me.

I bought my Stephen King book yesterday, but I haven't started to read it yet. I generally try not to start a new novel on a work night. If I do I get engrossed, I can't stop until I finish it, and the next thing I know it's 5 o'clock in the morning...

Just to add to the day as a whole, I'm all creaky and sore this morning. I guess the window tinting project involved more repetitive squatting and standing, squatting and standing than I am used to. Ow. Funny, it didn't seem like an effort at the time.

Must have coffee now.

The song for the day is "Make You A Believer" by Sass Jordan.


Tuesday, June 8th, 2004

Just after midnight, and boy am I tired.

I didn't beat the rain. As a result, I have a couple large patches of really tall grass in the back yard while everything else is mowed. It's supposed to rain on and off for a few more days. It will probably dry out about the time the rest of the lawn needs to be cut again.

I finally got most of my windows tinted today. This place gets so wretchedly hot in the summer when the afternoon sun heats up the west-facing windows. I already have blinds and heavy curtains, but they don't do much. Several weeks ago, I found window-tinting supplies at the hardware store and decided to try it out. Then I set them aside and procrastinated about doing it for several weeks. Not because it's particularly difficult - it isn't - but because it's a tedious, somewhat fiddly job and rather messy. It took about four hours, but now the job is nearly done. I just have the two small windows in the kitchen to do, and those will require me to climb up on the counter and balance over the sink.

In addition, this four-hour job required the constant use of a razor and I never cut myself once. Woo hoo! Life is good.

As I sit here typing it occurs to me that I haven't eaten anything since lunch. I guess that would explain why I'm hungry.

I went to see 'Prisoner of Azkaban' with a coworker on Sunday. Great movie! Unfortunately, a lot of little things never get explained and someone who hasn't read the books won't catch the significance of certain details. There's just so much in the book that has to be left out in order to squash the storyline into a 2-1/2 hour movie. As a consequence, certain things get lost in the shuffle. Still a fantastic movie, though. The hippogriff was marvelous. The dementors were appropriately spooky. The look on Snape's face in the boggart scene was worth the price of the ticket all by itself.

Right, stomach is making noise now, must refuel.

The song for the day is 'Loser' by Beck, because it was playing on the radio while I was working and now I keep replaying it in my brain, over and over and over...


Saturday, June 5th, 2004

I got half the back yard mowed yesterday. The thickest part is literally up over my knees by a couple of inches. (Is that fertile soil or what?) The mower is actually handling it well, although I have to go very slowly to avoid clogging it. I'll try to get the rest done today. We're supposed to have severe thunderstorms later on, I'm hoping it holds off long enough for me to finish. If it doesn't, I'll have to wait until it dries out again to continue.

Other than that, I'm thrilled with the idea of rain. As I've mentioned, we desperately need it. Thunderstorms are a mixed blessing, however. The rain part is good; I also like thunder and lightning just for myself, but lightning is how most of our wildfires start. Yes, even with rain.

I've had a pair of wild turkeys wandering through the back yard off and on over the last several days. They seem to like the area under the birch tree where I hang all of my bird feeders. I don't think they eat seed, so it's probably insects they're finding. Hmm, let me check my bird book ... Ah, I was wrong, they're omnivorous, so they're eating both. Interesting. HMtC is watching them very intently from her window seat.

Yesterday I noticed that a robin had built a nest in the fork of the birch tree, where all of the bird feeders are. Last year the robin's nest was on the railing of my porch (under the leaves of a silk ficus tree I had out there). This year's nest is clearly visible from the cat perch by the window - which is why I located the bird feeders in that tree, for the entertainment of HMtC. How nice of the robin to locate herself where my cat can stare longingly at the hatchlings.

The song for today is "Empire" by Queensryche. Great song. Great album, too, come to that...


Friday, June 4th, 2004

Let's hear it for spontaneous mechanical healing!

I had mentioned earlier that I had to prepare my lawnmower for transport to the shop, dumping out the fuel and cleaning it up a bit. I don't know whether in doing so I joggled something back into place or if I just convinced it I meant business, but it's working again. Hurrah! To celebrate, I mowed the front and side yard. The next step is to mow the back yard, which will probably take more than one session. That's all right, I'm just glad I have a functioning mower again.

I hadn't realized just how badly that ragged yard was making me feel. I like my immediate environment to be neat and ordered; I get uncomfortable when things are messy. The state of my home tends to reflect my state of mind. If my house is scattered and disorganized, it's a fairly good bet that I am, too. Conversely, putting the house in order helps me put my thoughts in order as well. Housework as meditation; I find it to be an efficacious tool.

I talked with my supervisor yesterday and my vacation request has been approved... I think. They can be so damned ambiguous sometimes. But I've been put on the calendar as having time off and unless I hear differently, I'll be taking it.

The song for today is 'Dirty White Boy' by Foreigner. Another song that I haven't heard in a long time and never cared much about in any event. So why is it playing on the random jukebox in my head?


Thursday, June 3rd, 2004

I'm definitely reaching a burnout point at work. When you start shouting at the disembodied, recorded voice in your headphones ('Just - spit - it - out - bitch!') you aren't in a good place mentally. Plus it scares HMtC. I put in my request last night to take a week of vacation time in late June. I don't have any actual plans for it, mind you, but I desperately need the time off. Just sleeping in every day and getting chores done without time constraints sounds like a great vacation right now. Hell, just not transcribing sounds great.

I'll probably drive around and do a little sightseeing. I'd rather like to go down to the Bison Range again, maybe go to Hot Springs... I'll have to figure something out. Hopefully the weather won't be too hot. Hopefully we won't be on fire by then..

This promises to be a very bad fire season. We've been in a drought for years, and it is continuing. One state official said we would have to have at least 200% of our normal rainfall just to catch up water levels to where we should normally be. As we are already short on rainfall for the last few months, we don't seem likely to get it. I heard a news report not long ago that said the eastern side of the state (east of the Rocky Mountains, in the Plains) was so dry the topsoil was starting to blow away. Wasn't that how the Dust Bowl started in the 1930s? Not a good sign. Anyway, drought = crunchy woods = fires. Methinks a rain dance is in order.

I got a good laugh the other night from this place. You have to wonder about people who would create items like these in the first place, let alone the people who pay good money for them. 'Oh honey! A change purse made from a dead frog! Just the accessory I needed in my Gucci bag!' There are more disturbing items for sale listed here. Do people really buy this crap?

*sigh* I'm tired, burnt out, continually cranky. Now I have to log on to work. My cup runneth over...

The song for today is "Up Around The Bend" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I haven't heard this song in a very long time, don't know why it's in my head right now. Oops! Maybe it's confirmation that I am going 'around the bend.' Oh my...


Monday, May 31st, 2004

I was up rather later than I intended the other night reading the Hugo-nominated fiction for 2004. The Hugo Awards are for fantasy and science fiction, which I normally do not read much of; but then again, I can always immerse myself in a good story, regardless of genre.

I had to work a half-shift on Sunday to help cover for someone on vacation. I truly hate giving up a single minute of my days off, but I recognize that sometimes compromises have to be made. When I go on vacation I'll want people to cover for me, after all.

Sometime this afternoon I need to go out and get my lawnmower ready for transport - dumping out the fuel, dismantling the handle so it will fit in my car, cleaning it up a bit. The damned thing isn't working and needs to go in to the shop. Meanwhile, the situation in my yard is getting desperate. With all the rain we've had lately the grass is growing at an accelerated rate, like some mutant alien creature taking over the yard. As things stand now, I'll have to go over the worst of it with the weedwhacker before I can mow.

Since I don't have cable TV and only receive one channel - sort of - K. sent me a videotape of Stephen King's 'Kingdom Hospital' that I started watching last night. Very weird mix of horror and camp, a touch of surrealism, and the most incongruous musical soundtrack ever.

Speaking of Stephen King, the sixth book in the 'Dark Tower' series is due to come out June 8th. Yay! If there are other 'Dark Tower' fans out there, the prologue to 'Song of Susannah' (Book IV) is here.

I have all sorts of chores to get done today, but I find I really don't want to. I'd better get up from the computer and get moving.

The song for today is "Wild Wild West" by Will Smith. For some reason, this is a difficult one to get out of my head once it's stuck there.


Saturday, May 29th, 2004

I drove into town yesterday morning to pick up the package my sister K. sent. She crocheted me a gorgeous cotton blanket in shades of blue, brown and cream. Really nice. It's only about 5 ft. square but it is damned heavy! Such tight, fine needlework... K. tends to do a great job on whatever craft she's focusing on.

I've been researching my family tree lately. The Internet has been a great help with that, I doubt I would have gotten quite as far otherwise. I managed to trace back one bloodline to about 1500 in Normandy, but I can't seem to get any farther. That one was actually fairly easy. My French ancestors... hm, well, they seem to have reproduced rather vigorously! Go back several generations and I think I must be distantly related to about half of Quebec.

As for the other parts of my family, I've documented them back four generations and there the trail has fizzled. One of the names is somewhat unusual and by itself shouldn't be too difficult to trace; the problem seems to be documenting a connection between my small branch and the larger one. The other names, however, are VERY common; the term 'needle in a haystack' seems very appropriate here.

One more full day of work. I would normally be off tomorrow, but I'm scheduled for a half-shift to help cover for someone on vacation. Vacation? I vaguely remember what those are... Maybe someday I'll even have one of my own again.

The song for today is "Valley of the Little Big Horn" by Jack Gladstone, a local Blackfeet Indian singer who combines Native mythology and western history in so many of his songs. Great stuff.


Thursday, May 27th, 2004

I was cranky as all hell this morning.

I don't particularly like my job (who does, eh?) and the first day back after my days off is always the hardest. I start out grumpy and resentful, which lasts for an hour or two until I settle into the routine again. Getting something to eat helps, too.

Normally Wednesdays are my first day back of the week, but I had a mild tummy bug and called in sick. Nothing terribly nasty, but enough to make the day uncomfortable. It responded well to an infusion of chamomile. The problem is, the treatment also puts me to sleep! To be uncomfortable or to be asleep - not a very difficult decision under the circumstances.

So my work week started a day late, on Thursday. Before I logged in I sent an email to my friend F., bemoaning my fate and generally complaining about how much I hate the entire world and everyone in it. (And you all thought I didn't do angst - HA! Shows what you know.) F. can get just as gloomy and nihilistic as me, so she wrote back agreeing that it was all horrible, life totally sucks, and if we're really lucky maybe we'll both die in our sleep soon. She ended with, 'I would say cheer up - but why?' Can anyone explain exactly why that made me feel so much better? And telling me I'm just contrary isn't exactly a revelation.

Now that the end of May is fast approaching, I realize that I haven't even started my chat group's writing challenge for this month. We started back in December with monthly challenges designed to get our creativity flowing. As my sister put it, 'Sometimes a person needs a deadline to get the muse moving.' The monthly challenge can be anything from poetry to specific types of prose... once it was to tell a short story in 20 haikus. (I had a lot of fun with that one.) This is only writing for writing's sake, for simple creativity, and I think I had better get cracking...

The song for the day is "Drive, She Said" by Stan Ridgway. ('Now just shut up and keep your hands on the wheel...') Last night for some unfathomable reason I had "Coward of the County" by Kenny Rogers stuck in my head till I thought I might scream.


Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

Nothing very exciting or philosophical today.

I had some errands to run. The vet's office called, the special food I buy for HMtC was delivered, so I had to go pick that up. She has some protein allergies and is on the most hypoallergenic diet they make thus far - duck and green pea kibble. Yeah, yeah, I know. But it keeps her healthy and she's worth it. As long as she stays on it, she only needs the occasional steroid shot if she has a flareup of her condition. That is manageable for both of us.

I also picked up three 25-lb. bags of catbox sand at the pet store. I like to stock up, make sure I don't run out of anything. I'm very picky about catbox smell and this particular brand is the best I've found.

After the have-to's were taken care of, I stopped by the magick shop here in the valley for a little while for conversation, coffee, and to do my part to support the local economy. I picked up some incense; I adore the Ravenwood brand. I also like some of the Fred Soll brand; they're made with resin and burn a very long time. I had gotten a late start to my day and only reached the store half an hour before they closed, but that was better than not making it at all, yes?

I am currently debating whether to change my sheets from flannel to plain cotton just yet. I think I'll stick with the flannel awhile longer, it isn't quite warm enough to need the cooler sheets. It makes a big difference on cold winter nights, snuggling into cozy flannel. For anyone unfamiliar with them, though, I'll warn you not to wear cotton nightclothes. The flannel will sort of grab them and hold you in place, making turning over or changing position somewhat problematic. It's better to wear a more slippery fabric, like nylon. Or you can do what I do, and wear neither. *wink*

The song for today was 'Darkness, Darkness' by Robert Plant. No particular reason, it was just stuck in my head.


Monday, May 24th, 2004

Spring is in full rampage here in northwest Montana. Where the predominant colors were previously brown and grey, now everything is green and blooming. The dandelions have popped up and are filling the meadows (not to mention my yard). This is a perfect time of year, in my mind: comfortably warm, but still cool enough to offset the bright sun.

In response to the warmer temperatures, Her Majesty the Cat (HMtC) has been shedding an amazing amount of fur. I've brushed off enough loose fur in the past few weeks to knit another cat, if I was so inclined. How can one small cat lose so much fur and not be bald? One of the mysteries of the universe. I can brush her for an hour, then run my hand over her back and still get a handful of loose fur. It must itch, too. If I pick up her brush she comes running and talking and then literally flings herself against the bristles. Then she sprawls on the floor, stretching and writhing, while I brush her firmly enough to push her across the carpet if she didn't dig in. Oooh, ecstasy!

She has also developed a new favorite toy: namely, one of my hairbands. I'm careful to keep rubberbands out of her reach (no sense of self-preservation, that one), but these are too tough for her to chew up and swallow. Anyway, she hasn't shown an inclination to try, so I've let her keep one or two. They seem to be perfect cat toys. They're light and can be batted around easily, yet have enough weight to be thrown down the hall for her to chase (very important). Just to add to the hilarity, they're also stretchy. Sometimes she'll put a paw on it, then bite the other end and stre-ee-eee-eetch it out. This is apparently delightful for some catly reason. Especially when she abruptly lets go and it snaps through the air. Whee!

The usual part of the game is that she brings it to me and drops it near my feet. I'm supposed to pick it up and throw it as far as I can for her to run after it and pounce. After attacking and subduing it, she brings it back to me to start all over again. I did not teach her this; she and her late sister taught me when they were kittens. They would keep pushing their toys against my rear end as I sat on the floor (I didn't have much furniture at the time) and prick me with their claws until I got annoyed enough to grab the toy and fling it away in the hopes of getting them to play somewhere else. It took me a while to realize they were doing this on purpose because they wanted me to throw it. Ohhhhhh. Humans can be so thick-skulled sometimes.

The improvised cat toys are the best ones. That is, as opposed to anything you may have spent money on. One of the Cat Laws of the Universe is that the more money you spend on something for them, the less interest they will show in it. The fancy, ergonomically-designed cat toy is not nearly as hilarious as the piece of dry elbow macaroni you just dropped on the kitchen floor. High-quality catnip, fresh or dried? Forget it. She couldn't care less. Vick's Vapor Rub, which I would like to use when my nose is stuffed up? Cat cocaine, apparently. HMtC will leap onto me, practically tackling me to the ground so she can try to lick it off.

The corollary to this law reverses the equation when the item you have spent money on is not meant for cats. Your new silk blouse, your fancy new living room drapes? These are extremely attractive to feline sensibilities.


Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

I spent my afternoon at the book store. I should know better, that's always an expensive pasttime for me. After a leisurely cup of coffee and a muffin, I wandered around to see what might catch my eye. I ended up with a mixture of reference and fiction. I also picked up my special order: namely, a book of surgical equipment terminology for the job and a book titled "Life Is A Road, The Soul Is A Motorcycle." That latter was written by a fellow named Daniel Meyer, a 300 lb. biker dude / IT professional, and I discovered it via his website. Look here to see what his storytelling is like. He spins marvelous tales.

After giving the book store more of my money than I really should have, I was in sort of a fatalistic, it's-only-money mood and wandered through the clothing stores looking for outfits I simply couldn't live without. Fortunately for my checkbook, I didn't find too many; just a few skirts and most of them were on sale. I *still* can't find any stockings in this valley, I always have to order them online. I refuse to wear pantyhose, I wear stockings, and not those thigh-high travesties with the elastic band that will cut off the blood supply in your leg! Proper garter stockings. I'm hopeful the stores around here will start carrying them soon because they seem to be coming back in popularity.

I was also keeping an eye out for the "Van Helsing" soundtrack, but it seemed to be sold out. Yes, the movie itself was crappy beyond belief, but the music was kind of neat.

Speaking of music, I exchanged a couple of MP3's this morning with a young forum buddy in the UK. There is nothing like discussing music with a teenager to make you feel every bit your age. This is how it starts, you know. First you're out of touch with the current music, then you become clueless to the latest pop culture trends. Next thing you know, you've reached the Living Fossil stage. Beware! Beware! It happens all too soon!


Thursday, May 20th, 2004

The training went surprisingly well yesterday. It's so nice to deal with people who actually know what they're doing! It happens all too rarely these days.

I arrived home shortly after a rainstorm had passed by. Her Majesty the Cat is normally waiting by the door for me, but apparently the storm provoked too much anxiety. She was hiding under the bed when I came in, but when she heard me she came running down the hall, talking loudly. After about 10 minutes of having a neurotic cat glued to my legs the next storm hit. This one had rain, thunder AND hail. Oh, very traumatic! She went back under the bed.

A short time later I really couldn't blame her. The lightning was close. The thunder was so loud it shook the house, and the peals went on and on. It was like a series of explosions. At one point, I looked out the window and saw a flock of birds flying very erratically; they would swirl, then hover, moving this way and that before stopping to hover in midflight again. It was as if they couldn't figure out where to go. The last time I saw birds flying strangely like that, I was in Florida and we had a hurricane the next day. Obviously not an issue in Montana, but it surely did make me wonder about atmospheric conditions.

In other news, I went to the movies with a friend to see 'Van Helsing' the other day. Man, it takes *inspiration* to make a movie that crappy! Half the actors had this heavy fake Transylvanian accent; I swear some of the sound effects came directly from one of those corny B movies in the fifties; everything was terribly overacted; and the plot was not so much full of holes as neglected. A lot of basic questions about the storyline were never answered. And all of this was mixed with a crashing, dramatic soundtrack and dizzying visual special effects.

On the other hand, the popcorn was good.

This movie was SO very bad, I think I'll have to rent it at least once when it comes out on DVD. Just *because* it was so bad. Some things are so bad you feel the need to see them again, just because you can't quite believe what you saw. Truly bad movies occupy their own delightful genre.


Wednesday, May 19th, 2004

Back to work on Wednesday. I have to drive in and work on-site for a few days to train our new transcriptionists in the intricacies of our software system. I don't care for teaching, really. How do you impart years' worth of knowledge in a few short hours, in a form people can understand and use? I've been trying to work on some instruction sheets since we have no manuals, but I'm finding it an uphill slog.

I also don't look forward to dealing with the manager and supervisor face-to-face. They are prototypes for the Dilbert universe Pointy-Haired Boss and thus the experience can range from screaming frustration to surreal mental gymnastics. I always end the day thinking, 'I am SO grateful to be working at home!' Coming home is a welcome refuge from the Office of the Damned. Would that I had a moat and a drawbridge, but for now I'll settle for locking the door and turning off the phone.

In the meantime, Her Majesty the Cat requires some quality petting. Duty calls.


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