Monday, December 31, 2012

So Long, 2012

I really don't like pretending that a particular day definitively bookends a set of experiences that can be neatly packed away resulting in a clean slate; it's just not realistic. But I do like the ritual of taking stock, envisioning of our better selves, and purposeful and deliberate thought put into how we want to be or what we want to do differently.

And while 2012 wasn't necessarily a bad year—it was quite good, actually—it was bumpy.

2012 started off with major surgery in January to remove uterine fibroids, which resulted in a hip-to-hip pelvic scar and several weeks of convalescing. And though there were only 1–1½ weeks where I was unable to take care of myself, it was difficult to acknowledge my limitations (however temporary) and let other people do for me. Not something I do easily.

My mother was also here while I was recovering from surgery. I thought she felt somewhat betrayed by our decision to move to North Carolina since we had been talking about moving to Oregon. I thought by having mom visit it would make her feel needed and give her a chance to see where we live instead of having this great unknown blank space when she thought about where we live.

In hind sight, I wish we had planned her visit for when I was more able to spend quality time with her instead of spending most of the first week in a pain killer-induced haze. I wish I had been able to take her out to actually see the area we live in instead of her being stuck in the house with us because Scoob was working and I could not wear a seat belt or ride in the car.

We had originally planned for a 2-week visit, which somehow got extended to 3 weeks. Sometimes I wish we had left it at 2 weeks; there was a lot of stress in the house, and I was ill equipped to handle it gracefully what with being semi-conscious/coherent. But I also think 3 weeks would have been just fine if we all hadn't been stuck in the house together.

At the same time, the 17-year marriage of close friends was crumbling and we found ourselves doing a lot of listening and hypothetical rationalizing. I remember that Scoob and I suddenly became much more attentive and appreciative with each other. We touched more, made time to be together more, and made a more deliberate effort to communicate better. In the end, our friends were not equally committed to working it out and they separated, though it has been reassuring to watch the wife land on her feet and bounce back from having her world unexpectedly upended. She is resilient.

February, March, and April were mostly spent marveling at spring in North Carolina, building and planting our garden, and helping our friends adjust. Though there was a particularly bright spot in April when I learned one of my favorite video bloggers, Ze Frank, was blogging again. I'm not quite sure what that says that this is my stand-out moment for spring, but he never fails to make me think, laugh, or appreciate something in a wholly new way.

I hit a personal wall around May, finally taking a good hard look at how alcohol in my family (in a general way) and my mother's battles with alcoholism (recently and specifically) actually affect me. While wrestling with this, I also pissed off my mom and was more or less disowned. While I may not have completely vaulted that wall, I am much more aware of how it has shaped part of who I am and how I interact with others. (On a side note, I did speak with my mom for the first time since then last week. It was a pleasant conversation, but we did not address the elephant.)

Also in May, my bestie's husband received a heart transplant. I still marvel at how quickly he received a heart after going on the transplant list, at how so very many things had to coincide and happen just so for this to happen, at how well he has recovered. And despite the falling out with my mother, I found myself up to my eyeballs in gratitude. That both my bestie and her husband's families were close by and supportive, that friends and extended family were stepping in to help, that their church family was looking out for them, that they had made the transition a few years ago to homeschooling, …There was absolutely no shortage of things to be grateful for there, but I was also grateful for the peace and calm of our lives here. I found myself making prayer a regular part of my days and nights, and spending a lot of time thinking about faith.

In June, we had a fantastic day at the zoo, and Scoob and I learned we would both be losing our jobs by the end of the summer. My last day was July 13, while Scoob's was August 31. So our summer was spent putting ourselves in order, revising our resumes, and gearing up for the job hunt. And, really, the job hunt has pretty much been our top priority for the rest of the year.

I had some strong leads on jobs and was approached by a headhunter late-October for a job working with ebook conversions. A job very similar to the one I was doing with my previous employer and as a freelancer after being laid off. And after a total of 10 interviews, including a flight to Connecticut for 3 of them, I was finally offered the job; my first day was December 19. Scoob is still on the job hunt.

I've spent the last couple weeks filing HR and benefits paperwork, and training, and adjusting to being a morning person. Even though I'm home-based and work in the US, I'm technically part of the India production teams, which has meant lots of morning phone calls with India. What this typically means for me is setting my alarm for 6:00am so I can wake up enough to check my email—I've missed 2 meetings so far where they emailed me at 2:00am to notify me of a meeting at 7:00am. If there's a meeting, I need to get up and make coffee and breakfast before my meeting starts. And if no meeting is scheduled, I can either get up anyway and exercise, or blog, or read, or whatever (not that this has happened yet or even been an option), or I can grab a couple more hours of sleep and get up to start work by 9:00.

I thought they were sending my out to San Francisco at the beginning of the year, but that fell through and now I am preparing for a trip to India around the end of January depending on when my passport arrives.

That pretty much wraps up our year. It's been a good, if turbulent, year, and I'm looking forward to 2013.

I hope that you're able to see and focus on the positive as you look back over the year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Apricot Canapes

I made these tasty little bites for an appetizer/cocktail party last weekend and they were a hit!

Even better? They were a breeze to put together and a nice option for guests on a gluten-free diet.

apricot canapes

Apricot Canapes

Prep time: 10–15 minutes
Total time: 10–15 minutes

    dried apricots
    goat cheese (chèvre)
    freshly ground pepper
    pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped
    kosher salt

  1. Top dried apricots with about a ½ teaspoon of cheese and sprinkle with ground pepper. Sprinkle with pistachios and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. (Whole lotta sprinklin' going on.)

It doesn't get much easier than that and it's an excellent recipe for little helping hands in the kitchen.

I found the original recipe here, but I cannot digest blue cheese so I switched it out for goat cheese and chose to add the pepper earlier for greater stickability. My pistachios were unsalted, so if you're working with salted nuts, you may want to skip the kosher salt at the end.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Twinkie Defense

Scoob has been whining about the end of Twinkies like its the end of the world. Twinkies were never my thing, so I'm having a hard time understanding the angst. Sure, I enjoy a Ding Dong or Ho-Ho now and again, but I honestly cannot remember the last time I had one or the other.

Then last night, someone on Facebook reminded me Hostess made the fruit and pudding pies, too. Okay. Shit just got real. Other kids may have had Twinkies in their lunch boxes, but my mom packed the fruit pies in mine.

I distinctly remember grocery shopping with her and coming up to the fruit pies and she would let me pick out the favors I wanted--apple, lemon, and (of course) chocolate pudding were my favorites. I remember how I had to be careful when eating the blackberry ones, because the filling had a way of gooshing out whet you bit into it, and the blackberry filling would stain whatever it fell on. I remember the disappointment of finding a smooshed pie in my lunchbox. And I remember eating it anyway.

And it wasn't just grade school. I remember eating Hostess fruit pies well into high school and even after, though with less frequency. I remember buying and packing them for camping trips, and yes, they usually got smooshed then, too.

I haven't rushed out to the stores to buy up the last few on the shelves, but if I do happen to spot one, I might be tempted to place it in my cart for nostalgia's sake. However, I am reading that psychologists are preparing for Twinkie Withdrawal Syndrome (TWS).  "It sounds like a joke, but it’s real," said Dr. Virginia Albertson of North Carolina. (North Carolina. Figures.) And that police departments in many cities are preparing for a riots at 7-11s and other delicatessens.  (Did they really just call 7-11 a delicatessen? Clearly, this is not a reputable source.)

Anyhow, back to Scoob and his Twinkies. So, this morning Scoob was lamenting over how all the stores are sold out and Twinkies are now a collectors item selling for $300/box. And he's just crushed that he'll never have another. I reminded him that Hostess will be selling off its products and recipes, so Twinkies are not gone forever. "But they just won't be the same," he said.

Now he's totally stoked because he just bought 2 boxes online (at regular price). Me, I'm now looking at a future where his perfectly preserved Twinkies share shelf space in my pantry with his Peeps that are already several years old.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bo Ssam—Korean-style slow-roasted pork

Or, as I call it, Mind Control Pork.

I came across this article about Bo Ssam in the NYTimes—the picture alone convinced me I would need to try this recipe, but then I read the article. The recipe is the creation of David Chang, chef and owner of Momofuku in NYC where it sells for $200 and feeds 6–10 people. (I get this on the table for less than $20.) And get this:

[R]ecipes like Chang’s bo ssam are a godsend. They make any cook appear to be better than he or she really is, elevating average kitchen skills into something that approaches alchemy. Tell no one how easy this all turns out to be, though. Simply cook the food and serve it and watch as those at your table devour the meat in a kind of trance.

Did you catch that bit about a trance? That's why I call it Mind Control Pork. The pork roast itself is delicious, but the salty/sweet bark that forms on the outside is amazing! If there's an unpleasant task on the Honey-Do list, or the list is getting particularly long, I just tell Scoob I'm making this for dinner and suddenly things start getting done.

In fact, Scoob prefers it to the kalua pig that he makes (which is also amazing and simple). Coming from him, that's saying something.

I've made this a few times now, and it just seems to get better each time. The last time I made it, I even invited neighbors over for dinner (that's how confident I am with this easy recipe), and now it's being requested whenever we're the host house for supper club.

I've made a few adjustments to the original recipe—I found it unclear at one point and reduced the oven temperature and increased the time for the final step in the oven (500° just filled the house with too much smoke—extremely unpleasant, especially if you're expected guests). The recipe also recommends oysters as an accompaniment, but I didn't go there with it.

Feeling saucy?

The recipe includes directions for the accompanying sauces. I love the ginger-scallion sauce. Even though it sounds like an odd combination, I urge you to try it. Scoob refuses to try it because he hates onions—I don't care for a lot of onion either, but this stuff is addictive! Oh well, more for me! (I now make this sauce fairly regularly to go with noodles and pot stickers, too.)

Neither one of us really cared for the ssam sauce (pictured in the middle, above), so I usually skip this now and just set out some chili paste. And even though I do like kimchi (in the back, pictured above), I don't really care for the brand we have available locally. Scoob likes it though, so he gets the kimchi while I get the ginger-scallion sauce.

Bo Ssam

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: Overnight + 6½–7½ hours cook time (mostly hands-off)

Pork Butt
    1 whole bone-in pork butt or picnic ham (8 to 10 pounds)
    1 cup white sugar
    1 cup plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    7 tablespoons brown sugar
Ginger-Scallion Sauce
    2½ cups thinly sliced scallions, both green and white parts
    ½ cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
    ¼ cup neutral oil (like grapeseed)
    1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
    1 scant teaspoon sherry vinegar
    ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
    2 cups plain white rice, cooked
    3 heads bibb lettuce (we used Romaine), leaves separated, washed and dried

  1. Place the pork in a large, shallow bowl. Mix the white sugar and 1 cup of the salt together in another bowl, then rub the mixture all over the meat. (I know it sounds like a lot of salt, but you do rinse it off later. I've found ½ cup each white sugar and salt to be fine on a 6-pound pork butt.) Cover it with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or overnight.

  2. The morning after.

  3. When you’re ready to cook, heat oven to 300°. Remove pork from refrigerator and discard any juices and rinse off any excess salt and sugar. (The original recipe did not call for rinsing, and my first try at this recipe was extremely salty.) Place the pork in a roasting pan .

  4. Into the oven.

  5. Cook for approximately 6 hours, after the first hour, baste hourly with pan juices. Once the roast collapses (somewhere around 200° internal temperature) and yields easily to the tines of a fork, you may remove the meat from the oven and allow it to rest for up to an hour.

  6. Somewhere around the 4 hour mark.

  7. You can make the ginger-scallion sauce while the roast rests, but I've found I like the taste even more after it has had a chance to meld—I usually make mine when I put the roast in the oven. In a large bowl, combine the scallions with the rest of the ingredients. Mix well and taste, adding salt if needed.

  8. Ginger-scallion sauce

  9. While the roast rests, prepare the rice, wash lettuce, and set out the sauces.

  10. When your accompaniments are prepared and you are ready to serve the food, turn oven to 400°. (As I mentioned earlier, 500°, as called for in the original recipe, produced way too much smoke in the house. I may try this at 450° next time, but 400° did work, although it took a bit longer. You may want to wait on setting out your rice so it doesn't get cold.) In a small bowl, stir together the remaining tablespoon of salt with the brown sugar. Rub this mixture all over the cooked pork and spoon some of the pan juices over the top being careful not to rinse off the rub. (I found spooning some juices onto the roast at this point helped the sugar form more of a glaze-crust instead of the thicker, more sugar-granular crust I experienced the first couple tries with this recipe.) Place in oven for approximately 15–20 minutes, or until a dark caramel crust has developed on the meat. Serve hot, with the accompaniments.

Going down in a glaze of glory—yes, it is Bon Jovi-worthy

Scoop some rice on your lettuce, layer on some pork,
and top with the sauce of your choice.

Leftovers, if you're lucky enough to have them, are delicious as repeats, and when you get down to the nubbins, they make an awesome fried rice. If it's just the two of us, a 4–5 pound pork shoulder easily feeds us for several days (and no one complains about getting tired of it!).

Bo ssam pork fried rice

Sunday, November 4, 2012

On Working and Relationships

I keep telling myself I am going to blog more frequently, even if it's just small posts, and I keep not doing it. I think part of the problem is that when I write here, I like to write uninterrupted. (I would also say without distraction, but I am so easily distracted it never happens that way.)

Like right now, I am writing but also monitoring file transfers and the time tracking web-based software I use for billing. The time tracker has been having some issues post-Sandy since their data center is in NYC and I am worried I may lose the tracked hours and invoices already in their system. But the point is, it's difficult for me to get lost in the writing when there's something else going on that I must monitor.

So what's going on here? Well, clearly, I am still getting freelance work (hence the file transfers I am watching) and I'm averaging 15–20 hours/week with that. Sometimes I out earn my unemployment check (which is awesome!) and sometimes I don't, and believe me, I am incredibly thankful that that particular safety net is there to help as we get back on our feet.

Scoob has started freelancing with me. He has been meeting lots of people at the networking groups he has been going to, and many of them want consulting work done on their websites. And despite my concerns about working together, we have now worked on a couple of projects together. We've been doing this pro bono right now to get the word out, but he does have a lead on a paying client.

I am not totally sold on this working arrangement—when I said he could use the company I set up to do freelancing under, I did not mean I would be taking on the additional work myself. So far I do not like how the division of labor is falling out. He finds the client, does an initial review of their website, then asks me to review the site, and then I get stuck writing up our findings and recommendations. I do not mind looking at the websites and giving a second opinion on specific things or even proofreading his write ups, but doing a complete second review of the sites and putting together the write ups is time consuming, and since he's doing the work for free right now, it takes away from time I could be billing on other projects.

If he wants to do this, he needs to do the whole thing. I am more than willing to help him, but it just rubs me the wrong way when he dumps the work he doesn't want to do in my lap. His reason is always "because you're better at it." An that may be true in some instances, but that doesn't mean I want to do it. And, he needs to start tracking the time he spends on these projects so he can figure out what to charge when the time comes. So far he hasn't been willing to, or he "forgets".

I'm seriously about to play the Owner card with him and lay down the rules and expectations, and that is exactly what I wanted to avoid. But it seems pretty clear to me that he is going to continue to take advantage of the situation unless I do. I've even offered to file the paperwork to make him a co-owner or even just turn the business over to him—if he wants to run it his way, then he needs to be in charge.

That, and I am interviewing for the position in New Jersey I posted about last time. I ended up interviewing with a VP and then a Senior VP the day after that post, and had an interview with one of their program managers this last Wednesday. I'm currently scheduling interviews with their production managers in India as the next step. Scoob and friends are convinced I have the job as long as I don't lose my mind and start dropping f-bombs during the interviews.

And, as I have been pointing out to Scoob, this is even more reason for him to step up on the freelance side, because if (when) I get this job, I won't be here to do the write ups, track the time, meet with the clients, or send out the invoices for him. Then he talks about hiring someone to do that work and I just have to keep telling him I did not want this. I never wanted to "build" a company or hire employees; I simply wanted a business name to conduct my freelance work under. If he wants to go out an conquer the world, by all means do it, but do not expect me to allow you to co-opt my business or do the grunt work. It is not my goal and is not what I want, and I have been very clear about that, and yet…

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Free Time

It seems like my free time has been coming in snippets lately. About two weeks ago I had an idea. An epiphany, really. That I should really be using the down time I have while I am unemployed to DO stuff.


Start writing and addressing Christmas cards.

Unpacking the remaining boxes in the garage.

Get back in the habit of blogging regularly. (Or exercising regularly for that matter.)

Actually organize the closet from when we moved in an just put stuff where ever.

Rearrange where I keep things in the kitchen now that we've been here for a year and I have a better idea of how I work in there.

Start compiling our one-year punch list for the builders so it's ready when they ask. (Too late, they've already asked.)

Finish organizing the filing cabinet and shredding old documents.

Maybe actually make one of the cute crafty things I see on Pinterest.

And the list goes on.

But of course, now that I have had this epiphany (and even bought the supplies I need for one of the crafts—notice how crafts seemed to bump the more important stuff aside for priority?), I have become incredibly busy with freelancing and other stuff. Isn't that just the way?

Which is a good thing. It is an excellent thing and I am not complaining. I have actually logged 30 hours in each of the past two weeks and out earned unemployment check, and probably will again this week. I am very thankful for that.

And the social committee decided we needed to get together on 4 different days to decorate for the Halloween party this Saturday. Really? Four days? I went for 3 hours last week and another 3 hours on Tuesday, but we were having friends over for dinner on Wednesday and I needed to be home to tend to the roast pork (so yummy!), and they want to decorate some more on Friday.

I am meeting with the Director at UNC Press Friday morning. We both worked for the same employer before, though he was in NY and I was in CA and we never met. I asked a mutual acquaintance to arrange an introduction and we're going to meet for an informational interview. I would like to learn more about UNC Press and how a university press differs from mainstream publishing, and maybe get some input on particular skills I should hone in order to pick up freelance work from them, or Oxford or Duke who also have university presses in the area.

And I've been consulting with a friend who recently launched her own business, helping her organize content on her website so it's easier to find, finding ways to streamline her workflow so she can spend more time creating instead of promoting, showing her ways to get more mileage from her social media efforts, and thinking up ideas for promotions and product packages she could offer. (Which reminds me, I still need to type up the summary from our last meeting.)

So I got all that in motion when I received a call on Monday from a recruiter for one of the big tech companies. They're looking for an editor for their technology and business web and blog properties, and it's local with some telecommute flexibility. So I set aside my freelance work and put together a resume and cover letter for the position.

Then on Tuesday I got a call from another recruiter, this one for an ebook conversion house in New Jersey doing almost exactly what I am doing now as a freelancer. They need a somewhat techie person with a background in publishing who understands book layouts and publishing standards, ideally with ebook or other digital publishing experience. This is so me! So again, I set aside my freelance work and put together a resume, cover letter, and portfolio for the position.

It is a straight telecommute position, though there is quite a bit of travel involved—New Jersey (of course) for training, orientation, and meetings as needed, but also 3 weeks in India, probably another week in the Philippines, 2 or more weeks in California to work on a "disaster" project, and traveling with sales/client reps when they meet with new clients to spec out their ebook conversion needs.

I would be happy with either position. The first one is a long-term open-ended contract and pays slightly more than what I make as a freelancer . The work would be predictable and it's local. The second one is a full-time position and would be close to a 40–50% raise. Yeah, you read that correctly. But I'll also need to be available outside normal work hours since I would be working with teams in India and the Philippines, as well as clients all over North America.

I never really thought I would be one of those on-the-go career women, but I have to say, the second one, while more demanding, sounds way more exciting. I know of this company and the work they do—the publisher I'm freelancing for is a client and I already interact with one of their off-shore teams. (The recruiter was stunned when I guessed who he was calling on behalf of during the interview—he didn't think I would know of the company and certainly didn't expect that I would already have a relationship with them.) The technology and solutions this company provides are in the direction publishing needs to move toward as it evolves to absorb ebooks and self-publishing.

I really am not a fan of outsourcing jobs, but that doesn't change the fact that India and the Philippines are where the coding is being done, not just at this company, but at all 5 of the companies like this that I've worked with. Okay, so these places aren't exactly on my list of places to travel to before I die but I bet I would still enjoy the adventure and have a wonderful time, you know, in addition to working.

I'm trying not to count my chickens, but I am pretty stoked about the possibility.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Life of an Ant

We've been buckling down lately and taking care of fall tasks and winter prep around the house, and generally living the life of the Ant from Aesop's Ant and the Grasshopper fable. Mostly this has meant working in the yard.

Now that the evenings have been much cooler (we've been dropping into the 40ºs), the ticks and chiggers have abated somewhat and we're tackling the under brush closest to the house, chopping and hacking and snipping and pulling. We have lots of sore muscles at the end of the day, but it's a good kind of sore. We're hoping to create a buffer zone between the house and spaces we eventually want a patio or outdoor living area and the vegetation to help keep the ticks under control in the future.

I am pretty brutal when it comes to cutting things down—if we want a cleared space, everything has to go and it has to go permanently. Especially the little tree saplings establishing themselves close to the house. Aside from tick control, the thick vegetation is a fire hazard and winter storms can really wreak havoc with trees too close to the house.

We've started some pruning on the shrubs for fall and finished getting the deer netting up around the flower beds. (Just in time, too. The morning after we finished there was a family of 4 deer grazing around the house.) When spring comes I should have really healthy camellias and azaleas instead of the nearly lifeless twigs the deer left for us last spring. In fact, the camellia near the front door started blooming this week.

We had debated trying to aerate and overseed the lawn ourselves, but ended up contracting a landscaper (not the original landscaper) to do it since there were large sections that had completely died off. I am so glad we did. As the guy was getting ready to rototill the dead section he asked about the irrigation system, and I assured him no water pipes ran through the area he was about to till up. About 20 seconds later he had to stop because he'd hit electric wires. How in the heck would I have known the electrical wires for the irrigation system ran through the middle of the lawn?

Not only that, but they weren't even buried. They should have been 6–8" underground, instead they were laid on top of the ground and the sod laid on top of them. They should have been run up against the house, or at the very least along the same patten and just under the water pipes. Upon further inspection we could see the wires had been nicked multiple times by the aerater, so I'm actually really glad he hit them with the rototiller too, otherwise we would never have known.

Anyhow, after numerous calls to the builder (who has had several problems with the all the properties this particular landscaping company worked on for them) they sent out their current landscaping sub-contractor who really walked me through the system. We figured out that the wires that were cut actually hadn't been working anyhow; we had 2 water stations that hadn't been getting any juice for about 6 months, which is probably why that section of the lawn and shrubs were not doing well.

He showed me how to manually turn on each sprinkler station so we could water the grass seed we'd just added to the lawn and found that we have a leak at one of the station valves. He then sent over a quote to run the electrical up against the house and bury it, fix the leak, and replace all the electrical caps with grease-pack, water-proof end caps. Very reasonable and the builder has agreed to pay for the repairs.

Hopefully they'll be out next week or the week after to do the work. In the meantime, I'll keep sticking my hands into valve box holes to manually operate the sprinklers and hope no spiders have set up a home in there. *shudder*

And speaking of spiders. Oh. My. Lawd. There are some monster spiders out and about. I finally named the one (Lloyd) who has been living in a web across my office window for the past month. The pest control company came out for our quarterly check-up and told us these spiders are really active September and October and are mostly harmless. I just thought maybe they were trying to help me decorate for Halloween since they're building webs under the eaves all around the house. He knocked Lloyd's web down along with several others, rebaited the mouse traps, and sprayed along the foundation.

The garden is just about kaput, though the basil is still flourishing. I had thought to plant some fall veggies, but I think the space we set up our garden boxes in does not get enough sunlight this time of year to make the effort worthwhile. I want to try to move them forward out of the trees about 10 or 15 yards.  I should probably float that idea by Scoob and see if he's up to it. We'll have to shovel out all the soil in order to move the boxes and his back is still bothering him.

On the job front, I've had a few phone interviews since I posted last. None in the local area though—one in Boston, one back in San Francisco, one in Austin, and one in New Haven. The Boston one sounded really good, but the company CEO is currently moving all the remote digital workers to Boston so they ended up not wanting to add another remote worker. The one in New Haven ended up being for Yale University, but they also want someone on site. I seem to have a skill set that is in demand, just not in demand here. At least not at the moment.

Happily my freelance work has picked up pace and the fall title list has been keeping me busy this week. (I actually out earned my unemployment check this week!) I also spent some time with a local friend who recently started her own business to help her map out an online marketing strategy and refine her current efforts. All pro bono, of course, but it could end up growing into something else. We'll see.

Anyhow, that's news here.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Okra Fries

One thing I've learned since moving to North Carolina—Scoob loves okra. He likes it soups, pot pies, casseroles, and pretty much any way he can get it.

I, however, am not a big fan of okra's slimy qualities. Though, whatever it is that makes okra have that slime is supposed to be very good for you.

So I keep a bag of frozen okra in the freezer and Scoob can add okra to whatever he wants and I can stay happily okra-free.

I did make an okra and polenta casserole that wasn't too bad. (I love that autocorrect wants to change polenta to tadpole—okra and tadpole casserole would be beyond disgusting.) Though I was stunned at how difficult it was to find coarse ground cornmeal for polenta/grits here. Aren't grits a Southern staple?

And speaking of cornmeal, Scoob really likes fried okra, which is basically okra sliced into rounds, battered in cornmeal to soak up the slime, and fried. (This usually gives me heartburn, a tummy ache, or both.)

So the last time Scoob conned me into buying a pound of okra at the farmers market, I decided to fry it a bit differently. Instead of slicing it into rounds, I quartered it lengthwise, and I did not batter it. I just added it au natural into the cooking oil.

And once they browned a bit, I removed the okra fries from the oil, blotted up the excess oil with paper towels, tossed them on a plate, and sprinkled them with a little kosher salt.

I've now found Scoob's new favorite way to eat okra, and I like it too! If you like baked kale chips, you'll probably like okra fries. In fact, next time we get some fresh okra, I am going to try baking them instead of frying.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fungus Among Us

One of the things I was really looking forward to with our move here was having a garden. We planned and we mulched and we built and we planted. But I have to say, it was a dismal year for our garden.

I was most looking forward to the tomatoes. I planted 6 tomato plants and thought we'd be eating garden-fresh tomatoes July through August. I thought there would be an abundance of tomatoes and I would cook and freeze spaghetti sauce, and can diced tomatoes.

But, between a late frost and a really harsh hot wave, white flies and tobacco hornworms (which look just like tomato hornworms, but the horn is a different color), I think we harvested about 15 tomatoes. Total. I pulled off the last of the green ones today because the garden boxes are not getting enough daylight and the days are not hot enough for them to really ripen up. We'll force them ripe indoors.

The only thing that did really well was the basil. I think next year I will focus my gardening efforts on establishing a thriving herb garden. I started noticing how much we were spending on herbs while we waited for the basil to establish itself, and now that I've learned the deer typically do not eat aromatic plants like herbs, I won't have to worry quite so much about fencing them out.

I'm thinking of building up a rock garden near the kitchen side of the house, and now I am considering having the area do double duty by planting herbs in the rock garden. I know for sure I'll plant some mint in a container since it's very difficult to find in our local grocery stores. I'll do basil again, and I also use quite a bit of thyme. I use a lot of parsley and cilantro, too, though they may not grow as well in the space I am looking at using. At least I know I'll save some money by not buying herbs. (It just really cheesed me that I was buying tomatoes all through the growing season.)

And I'm thinking I should look into mushroom farming—it's the one thing that seems to grow here without any effort. Or at the very least, I should brush up on mycology to see if the mushrooms growing here naturally are even edible. (The deer seem to enjoy them.)

I spotted this bright, white mushroom from the kitchen window; it was peeking from behind a tree. It was so bright, I actually thought it was a piece of trash or a plastic bag that had blown into the yard.

It's nearly as big as my hand!

And they just seem to pop up all over

In addition to the basil, the okra seemed to do really well, though I still need to work on how to tell when they're ready for picking. We got some really big okra, but they were dry and tough as wood when I tried cutting them up to cook with.

But we managed to put them to good use as entertainment.

Additionally, we learned that the cages on our garden boxes were too low to allow several of the plants to grow to full height. If we do the vegetable garden again next year (and I'm pretty sure we will) we will build a 10' fence around the garden area to keep the deer out instead of using the chicken wire cages we built. Live and learn.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

On the Edge

Arrrgh, I know yesterday was talk like a pirate day and not today, but if the power goes out again while I'm trying to write this post again, some body's walking the plank!

In one version, I got all introspective once, talking about how Monday is mom's birthday and we're still not speaking and all the emotional crap wrapped up in that. Then the power went out.

Then I tried waxing eloquent about the gorgeous weather we're having on the edge of Fall and how when I woke up this morning to the fresh, crisp air I knew nothing could go wrong. Then the power went out.

And then I was trying to sort out my thoughts on East of Eden, our book club read for September (book club was tonight). And the power went out.

Now I'm just going to plow through this and get it up! (Before the power goes out!)

Okay, I made the Chile Rellenos Quiche again, and this time I took some pictures. They're up on the original post.

Anyone recognize this vintage Tupperware cheese grater? Mom was going to toss it out when she moved, but for some inexplicable reason I love this thing and it stirs many memories. Of what? Well, of grating cheese, what else?

I've also tweaked my profile over at Pintrest—instead of just having one board for recipes, I've now split it up into recipes to try and recipes I've tried and liked. Usually when I want to make something again, I Google +casawayward +"the name of the recipe" then find it in the search results. Now, I can just go to Pintrest and look at my Tried & True board and it will be there.

I am interested to see how writing up my recipes here and pinning them up there will play out in terms of analytics, traffic to the blog, and just general functionality. 

I am still on the job hunt. There have been a few nibbles recently, and I'm still in the running for a web-based editing/writing position for a company in Poland. (I wonder if I will need to visit the main office? Better get a passport.) But for now, I am still freelancing and work is slow. I keep waiting for the Fall publishing season to take off. And, I'm still waiting.

But I checked in with my pool of freelancers that I send work to, and two of them are not available for Fall, which will be tough because Fall has a large list of titles, but it's also good in that it means I will pick up more of the slack. The person I report to had encouraged me to take a lot of the proofing jobs for myself, but that felt somehow wrong to me since I know my freelancers are also depending on the work for income. But now that I know they aren't available I have no problem picking up that extra work.

I have been teetering on the edge of just making a go of freelancing as my sole means of income. Right now I still spend a lot of time combing the job boards, writing cover letters, and sending out resumes. But if I am really going to do this, I need to stop doing that and put all of that energy into networking and drumming up additional clients. It scares me senseless and yet I know I could do it. I guess I just would have liked the option to decide on it for myself, set aside a nest egg, and ease into it instead of falling into it this way.

I read a report on freelancers the other day, you can download the full report here (the report is a bit large, but is mostly graphs; the page I'm linking to is just a summary), and it has me feeling more positive and confident about freelancing and I am seriously considering embracing it and seeing where the path takes us. Like I said, though, I just wish I had more time to prepare for it. And I wish we both weren't out of work as I make the transition.

Still teetering.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Cheese Stands Alone

Yesterday was kind of a weird day. I played hooky from work. Well not really, but I feel like I did. The freelance project is not due until Friday (actually I wasn't given a due date, that's just the date I set for myself, if I had sent the job out to another freelancer I would have allowed for a 1-week turn around), so it's not as if I blew off working.

But I could have worked, but I didn't. It's a dangerous thing, really, this freedom to choose when and if you'll work. I suppose if I'd had another project lined up right behind it, I wouldn't have taken a day off. And even though the project will be done on time and on budget, I am still feeling a wee bit guilty about it.

So instead of working yesterday, I went into town and got my hair cut, opened a small business checking account (finally), and went grocery shopping (and got the cheese!). And later I took a leisurely evening stroll.

And the cheese is not alone—it's standing next to the cheddar and the Swiss. But I was. Scoob went to a tech career fair in downtown Raleigh yesterday morning and his back was really hurting him when he got home, so I did all my running around by myself, which was nice. I rolled down the windows, opened the sunroof, and turned up the tunes. It was a perfect day for a backroad drive.

I had been waiting for my final Assumed Name papers from the county before I could open the checking account. But they arrived a while back and I've had a couple payments for freelance work sort of sitting and waiting. My final severance check was last Friday, so I figured I had better get on the ball so we have at least some sort of cash flow.

Anyhoodle, you know how you always feel a bit better, spiffier, after getting your hair done? Well, opening the checking account also rekindled that "I've started my own business" glow (it also rekindled that "Holy frijoles, I started my own business. Now what?!" panic, but I don't think you can have one without the other).

Then, at the grocery store, I helped an elderly gentleman load his groceries into his truck. He was wrestling with a walker and his shopping cart and was clearly in pain. And so I introduced myself to Joe, loaded his groceries into his truck, untangled his walker from the shopping cart, and chatted with him a bit about the area, then went about my shopping. In addition to the Pepper Jack cheese, I got a big ol' Boston Butt.

I made a fantastifabulicious pork roast last Thursday and we finished off the last of the leftovers Sunday night. But pork shoulder was on sale (why do they call pork shoulder a butt?) and Scoob wants me to make it again. In fact, I do believe he said he likes it more than his kalua pig! But, before I make that again, I'll make the Chile Rellenos Quiche and use the avocados in a pasta dish before they turn.

Finally, my walk. I temperature has cooled down quite a bit for the last several days, we've been in the mid-70s to low-80s with low humidity all week and it has been lovely! It's even been dropping down into the 60s and 50s overnight, so we're sleeping with the bedroom windows open again. I love it! But who knows how long it will last, so I grabbed my camera and just walked.

I told Scoob, It's like living stained glass

Afternoon sunlight in the pink muhly fronds

Playing with the sun

Tobacco drying shed and old oak tree

Afternoon glow from a shaded clearing

I just liked these leaning trees and the Carolina-blue sky

Our house, nestled in the trees

Interesting peeling bark

More light and shadow in the trees

It's grand old oak tree.
I do miss the huge California live oaks,
but at least this one is right around the corner.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Leaping Lizards

I had planned to cook yesterday's Chile Rellenos Quiche again so I could get a picture up with the post and y'all could pin away to your heart's content, but one thing I've really noticed about grocery stores here—Pepper Jack cheese is hard to come by in a 1-pound block size.

I can find it sliced for sandwiches without a problem. And can even find it in the 8-ounce size with some regularity. But 16 ounces? Make an offering to the gods of groceries and you might have a chance of finding it.

Our last two grocery shopping trips have been at Lowes just because we were running other errands that took us in that direction and I've only ever found Jack sliced there. (That sounds weird.) I can usually find the 16 ounce size at Food Lion, but it's nearly 15 miles from Lowes, and I'm sorry, it's just not worth the cost of gas. But next time we're grocery shopping at Food Lion I swear, I'll get the cheese, make the quiche, and get the picture!

(The other thing I've noticed about grocery stores—the bread selection is abysmal. Good crusty sourdough is scarce, as is cinnamon raisin bread, though we've found a pretty good locally-baked seeded loaf. Still, I've found myself toying with the idea of baking our own bread. Considering each loaf costs $3.50–4.00, plus the fact the nearest grocery store is 10 miles from home, baking our own bread might really be worthwhile.)

So yesterday, I was wandering about the house topless (it happens from time to time, we live in the country surrounded by trees) when Scoob came in from the garage and spotted me. I was actually on my way into the laundry area to get a bra and shirt, but at the moment he saw me I was nekkid from the waist up. And he dared me to go outside like that.

Whatever! Please, it's just us, the birds, the deer, a groundhog, and a fox. And maybe that wild turkey. (And the postal carrier if we time it just right.) So I flung open the garage door to the outside…

Much to my surprise (and probably his too), there was a little baby lizard sunning himself on the door when I threw it open. Next thing we both knew, he was airborne, and landed on my bare bosom. I may have yelped just before he dropped into one of Scoob's boots on the floor.

I figured the lizard probably saw more of me than he ever wanted to, so I put on a shirt before fishing him out of the boot and setting him outside again.

Ahhhh, nature.

Not this lizard, though.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chile Rellenos Quiche

Oh, I have been holding out on you, people. My rendition of this Chile Rellenos Quiche recipe is super easy to throw together. I almost always have the ingredients for this on hand, which is especially helpful for those nights when I don't have a clear dinner plan. And the leftovers make for a yummy, protein-rich breakfast the next morning. I've made it several times now and we love, love, lurve it!

You can find the original Chile Rellenos Quiche recipe on the Taste of Home website. They've got the nutritional information there, but I've made a number of changes so it probably isn't relevant to this version.

I'm tempted to just dive in to the whole quiche pie.

Oh, but a slice is nice.

Chile Rellenos Quiche

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40–45 minutes

    2 Tbsps corn meal
    3 eggs
    ½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
    hot pepper sauce to taste, optional
    1 6–7 ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
    1½ cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese (reduced-fat if you can find it)

  1. Preheat your oven to 450°. Evenly sprinkle the cornmeal over the bottom of your pie dish and toast for 3–5 minutes in the oven.

  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, mayonnaise, and hot pepper sauce, then stir in the chopped chiles and the cheese, and pour into the dish.

  3. Bake for 30–35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
I love the flavor of green chiles and this really hits the spot. It may not be the healthiest recipe, but by eliminating the pie crust altogether and cutting down on the amount of cheese, I think I've at least made it healthier than it was.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

I absolutely love seeing signs of fall! I am really enjoying the little evening walks Scoob and I started taking recently, but summer has decided to show us she's not done yet, so we haven't been out for several days. I think (hope) we're having our last really warm spell (it's 88° but feels like 95° with the humidity and we're expecting thunder showers all afternoon).

Scoob doesn't understand why or how much I enjoy walking with him. If it's just me walking, I'll find a perfectly rational reason to blow it off, so I like walking with him. I also just like spending the time with him, even if we're not talking. When we spend time together at the house, it's either mealtime or TV/movie time, or there's some other distraction.

Another reason we've postponed our walks—Scoob is injured! We're still not sure what he did, but he laid down on the living room floor with my one evening and when he tried to skooch close to snuggle we heard a pop and he started howling in pain. He thinks he overworked some back muscles working in the yard. I think he torqued something in his back when skooching around on the floor. (I don;t think he wants to admit he hurt himself doing something so "everday.") Either way, he has been in a lot of pain for about a week and a half.

Even though he wanted to wait it out, I finally called the doctor to make an appointment for him and made him go last Friday (his last day of work).  Scoob almost never takes anything for pain, headaches or whatever. But with this he had been taking the maximum dosage of ibuprofen, graduated to taking some of the Vicodin I have for my migraines, and then to the Percocet left over from my surgery. The doctor couldn't really do anything for him except give him his own Vicodin Rx and some muscle relaxers. I've noticed he's backed off on the pain killers a bit, so I think he's getting better, but he says the pain is still the same.

In other news, I have spent my Labor Day sending out invoices for my freelancing work, sending out my resume and cover letters for job postings, applying for unemployment (but I need more info from my employer before I continue), and debating the wisdom of cleaning house on Labor Day.

Friday, August 24, 2012


What a week, folks! So I had my Wednesday morning interview, which seemed to go really well and I am hoping to hear back from them to set up a face-to-face interview. I completed all the paperwork for submitting my receipts for reimbursement for my out-of-pocket medical expenses related to January's surgery, and when I called to confirm the mailing address I was told there was $500 sitting in the account from last year, so they're sending me a check for that too. I love found money!

And later Wednesday, I received a cold call from a recruiter for a Fortune 500 company who had spotted my resume online. We did an impromptu interview over the phone and she set me up with her boss for a second interview on Thursday who then sent my resume in to the Company. I was supposed to have an interview this morning but apparently the Company person called in sick today, so we're tentatively scheduled for an interview on Monday.

I am trying not to get overly excited about the job, but it is quite the ego boost to have someone reach out to me for a job rather than me sending out application after application waiting for attention.In the meantime, I received my next print freelance job today, so I will be working on that for the next while.

Apparently, the screens on the kitchen windows have become a favorite local hangout.

The little lizard guy was freshly hatched. I couldn't really get him in focus, but he still had eggshell bits clinging to his skin. And the butterfly/moth was just content to hangout for a bit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's New

Hey there! I figured I had better check in with an update. I am still on the job hunt and my severance pay is about to run out, so I'll be visiting the unemployment office soon if some thing doesn't pan out. I am finally starting to get some nibbles, though.

There was one job with one of the Big Six publishers in New York City I was particularly excited about it and my resume was an exact fit! And they were willing to let me work remotely with a one-a-month on-site presence. But then it became once-a-week, then multiple days a week, and they didn't want to cover the travel expenses.

Then there was the one in DC with an international finance organization, but once we got to the interview it was obvious they hadn't really read my cover letter where it stated I did not live in DC and could not relocate. And then the one outside Boston. Same story.

I did finally get an interview with a local company. It would be on-site in the Research Triangle and my commute would be 45–60 minutes each way—not much different from what I used to do in California, but without the gridlock. They want more experience with graphics than I have, but they're a start up and it sounds like the may be willing to train since I have the other half of the skill set they're looking for and it is fairly uncommon to find these skill sets together.

I have an interview scheduled for tomorrow with a company with offices in Chapel Hill; the commute would still be about 45 minutes. This company partners with universities to deliver online degree programs. I remember being excited about this job post when I submitted my resume over a month ago—in addition to full benefits, they also offer 100% paid tuition for employees, spouses, and legal dependents! Oh, and they wear jeans to work every day.

Aside from the job hunt, which is more of a full-time job than I remembered, I have been continuing to freelance for my previous employer. We've just finished closing out the ebook conversions for the spring season book, just in time for fall to kick into high gear. I've only been billing about 10 hours a week; I thought it would be more like 20. But summer is a slow time for publishing and expect the pace to pick up as we head into the fall season.

I've worked out a time tracking and billing process and have filed a business license with the county here. I've also started working on a website, but I have only gotten as far as purchasing the domain and setting up a hosting service. I've installed Wordpress, which I now have to figure out how to use. Scoob has been working on a logo for my company identity, but I think it hurt his feelings that I didn't really like the first one he came up with and he hasn't drafted anything new for me.

Now that my severance is about to run out, I feel I am at a crossroads. If I am really going to support myself as a freelancer, I need to stop splitting my attention between that and job hunting and instead put that energy into finding more clients.  Which means really moving out of my comfort zone and building a local network of people and business contacts. I am stalling on this. My preference is to work for someone else and freelance on the side.

I have noticed the change in light the past week or so. Sunlight is illuminating new patches of wall and floor in the house and has a more golden quality. I am seeing the first few leaves starting to change color. I may sneak out and get some pictures. It's a bit earlier than I expected, but the fall foliage won't really explode until late September. So I am told.

Our garden. Well. Our garden has been a learning experiment. We discovered our tomatoes really needed more shade and have not produced like we thought they would. Oh, but the tomatoes we got were delicious!

The kale was eaten by something, and the zucchini never produced even though it put out tons of blossoms. I am wondering whether it is just too humid and the blossoms never really opened to be pollinated, or if I need two zucchini plants so they can pollinate each other. The okra put out a crop, but not really enough to do anything with. Of course it would help if I knew what ripe okra looked like so I could pick them before they went to seed. The only thing that did really well was the basil, and the jalapeñoes put out some fruits too.

We're still enjoying the neighborhood critters and they're still enjoying our landscaping, though we did get deer netting up around the largest flower bed and the particularly abused shrubs. We have more to do before fall, but at least we've made a start. Anyhow, that's most of my news. I do have recipes though, so I should be posting more regularly. That is, of course, if the beasties aren't using the computer.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Excuses, Excuses

Hey. How ya doin'? I'm good, I'm good. Thanks for asking.

I know I skipped Musical Monday. I am sorry.

Things are just getting a little crazy around here. It's my last week at work and I've been putting in some long hours trying to tie up loose ends as neatly as I can.

It's storming something fierce here this week and trying to get my work done, job hunt, and get on here to blog at you between power outages is, well, trying. And our garden is getting pummeled by all this rain, but the lawn is loving it.

And I've been distracted by deer. Again.

But who could blame me for being distracted by Bambi? I mean come on, it doesn't get any cuter. Well, except when the Bambi triplets put in an appearance. Then it's just cute overload.

It's also week 3 since I started the job hunt. Not even a nibble. I'm staying positive and trying to keep in mind the hiring process takes time. I can see that recruiters are checking out my LinkedIn profile, so I'm staying hopeful.

In the meantime, I am lining up as much freelance work as I can and defining what services I can offer—it's a pretty wide range including proofing, editing, project coordination, search engine optimization, content strategy, and content creation—and at what rates. I will say, if my old job wants me to come back as a web editor and help out, I will not hesitate to charge market rates. I could understand being under paid when I didn't have much experience, but I now have 5 years' experience, and since I'm on the job hunt I have a better sense of what that's worth and what I'm bringing to the table.

Scoob's been trying to convince me to go into consulting, but I don't know. (I actually think we should go into consulting together. We do very similar work and with his graphic design background and my editorial and content background, I think we'd offer a strong service package. But we both think that may be just too much together time. But it's an idea.) Consulting or not, I need to set up a new email account to handle the freelance stuff so I can keep work and personal separate, but I've been over thinking it so I haven't done this yet.

I'll also need to open a new bank account to better account for freelance income at tax time. The last time I had significant freelance income, I hadn't kept it separate and I had a heckuva time figuring it out while doing my taxes. Also toying with the idea of getting a business license and trying to find out if North Carolina has an income threshold where one is required. And then I'm trying to figure out what the name of that business might be, if I do, which is further stalling the email address/bank account thing.

So yeah, that's how I've been. I haven't forgotten about you. Just getting a little slammed by life at the moment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Musical Mondays—I'm Tired

Boy, it's a good thing I took today off from work because I just cannot seem to muster up enough energy to stay awake. I've got some paid time off that will not get paid out with my vacation pay when I'm laid-off, so I decided to use it up. After all, it is mine, and I earned it.

But then a different HR person said it would be paid out and so now I'm waiting for someone to figure out which is correct, because if it's paid out, I'd just as soon work the days and get the time converted to cash at lay off time.

Still no nibbles on the job front. I did get one rejection notice, though. Yea? I guess it's a good thing, this way I won't be wondering what became of that application. But still, I've applied for almost 20 positions and, other than the flat out rejection, nothing. Peep-less.

I did go see the doctor today. I haven't decided if I'll take the COBRA insurance when I leave, I kinda feel like I should what with the recent surgery and all, but it's expensive. Anyhow, I got the doctor to write a couple prescriptions for stuff I'm almost out of, take a look at my achy foot, examine my surgery scar (which has been really achy lately, too), and take a look at these ridiculously itchy bug bites that just seem to refuse to heal!

Long story short, the foot is tendonitis and I'll need to wear shoes almost constantly in the house from now on; the scar is perfectly fine and the pain is probably nerve endings and I may have that pain forever, and the bug bites? Well, we had the exterminator inspect for bed bugs and treated the cats for fleas, so we can safely rule those out. The doctor said probably scabies. What he hell?

So I've been reading up on the scabies mite. I had sort of ruled them out with my own research because the bites look nothing like what I see online, and other than each other, Scoob and I don't have close skin-to-skin contact with anyone else to catch them. Apparently, it can take months to show symptoms after catching them—so who knows when we actually encountered them. Near as I can tell, contact would have closely coincided with my surgery, or within the month after. But that's if it is scabies, if it turns out to be something else, well, then who knows.

And maybe that's why I'm so tired—the bites seem to occur mostly at night, and now I rarely sleep through a night due to the itching and general heebeejeebeeness. But thankfully the doctor prescribed some scabicide and we'll do the treatments and see if that solves the problem. We may also sleep in the spare room for a couple days so any mites on the mattress can die off since they can't survive more than about 36 hours without a host, which is good news since that's a brand new mattress!

Anyhow, when I get this tired, I always think of Madeline Khan…

I'm Tired
Madeline Kahn
Here I stand, the goddess of Desire
Set men on fire
I have this power
Morning noon and night it's drink and dancing
Some quick romancing
And then a shower
Stage door johnnies always surround me
They always hound me
With one request
Who can satisfy their lustful habits
I'm not a rabbit
I need some rest
I'm tired
Sick and tired of love
I've had my fill of love
From below and above
Tired, tired of being admired
Tired of love uninspired
Let's face it
I'm tired
I've been with 1000's of men
Again and again
They promise the moon
They always coming and going
Going and coming
And always too soon
Right girls?
I'm tired,
Tired of playing the game
Ain't it a crying shame
I'm so tired
God dammit I'm exhausted
Tired, tired of playing the game
Ain't it a crying shame
I'm so tired
She's tired (She's tired)
Sick and tired of love (Give her a break)
She's had her fill of love (She's not a snake)
From bellow and above (Can't you see she's sick)
Tired (She's bushed)
Tired of being admired (Let her alone)
Tired of love uninspired (Get off the phone)
She's tired (Don't you know she's pooped)
I've been with 1000's of men
Again and again
They sing the same tune
They start with Byron and Shelly
And jump on your belly
And bust your ballon
Tired, tired of playing the game
Ain't it a freakin' shame
I'm so...
Let's face it everything below the waist is kapput!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Musical Mondays—Wherever I Go

I know I was probably being overly optimistic to think I would get a call on at least one of the resumes I sent out last week. Still, it was a bit of a let down not to get an email or phone call today. And so the hunt continues.

I need to transition my job responsibilities, but of course, the main person I need to transfer them to is out on vacation for the next 2 weeks. So that'll leave us one week when she's back to cram it all in.

In addition to wrapping up the project I'm currently working on and making the transition as smooth as possible, my boss has asked me to begin and finish another project before I leave. I gotta say, as much as I do not want to burn any bridges, I am not terribly motivated to do that. I will, or at least I will do as much as I can, because that's just who I am, but I'm not excited about it.

In good news, I will continue to work for the company in my eBook production role at a part-time freelancer up to 20 hours/week, and I will pick up some freelance editing assignments from them as well. I know the editing assignment work won't be consistent or steady—it tends to come in bursts—but I can already see there being several weeks where the company will be paying me more as a freelancer than they did as an employee.

I don't understand it either. Granted they won't be paying unemployment insurance or their contribution to my benefits, but still. Anyhow, I'll take on freelance editing at least until I find a full-time position, but I'll keep doing the eBook production for as long as I can balance it with the full-time job.

In garden news, I picked the first tomato from the garden last week and two more today! We'll be wallowing in tomatoes soon.

In not-so-good news, I had been putting off paying the last of my hospital bills from January's surgery. Well, I got the first notice from a collection agency today. I kinda thought they would call at least once before sending it to collections. I'll have to take care of that tomorrow.

In really cool animal news, we've seen some new backyard buddies over the last several days. Toward the end of last week a red fox put in a couple of appearances. I think it may have a den on one of the empty lots next to us, which would explain why the entire neighborhood is plagued by bunnies, except our house. I couldn't get a clear picture of it; it didn't stay out in the open very long.

We haven't been seeing a lot of deer in the yard for a long time now. If we do see them, they're usually across the cul-de-sac from the house. But today, 2 bucks came into the yard. Not once, or twice. No. They made 3 passes at the buffet that is our yard today. I've decided to name them Chuck, and they will be The Two Bucks Chuck.

I was able to get pretty close to them (within about 15 yards) and get some pictures. After their third visit, Scoob went outside and hosed down the shrubbery with deer repellant. Now our house smells like something between elephant piss and really bad BO.

Charming. I don't care how much it cools off, I will not be opening the windows tonight. Not like it's really going to cool off, but you know, if it did.

No zoom; this guy let me slowly walk up on him until I was this close!

I think this is my favorite picture from today

No zoom (again); this is the other buck and he walked up to me until he was this close!

Wonder why this guy's antlers are so uneven. Also, see all the bumps on his ears?
Those are ticks! The backs of the ears on both bucks were covered with them.

One last peek through the trees before wandering off

In honor of The Two Bucks Chuck, I decided to put up some Buckcherry

Wherever I Go
I'd like to find a place to hide
Where no one knows my name
Maybe down by the sea
And become a mystery
Nobody seems to understand
They're just doing what they can
It comes to me when I'm alone
Things that can't be taught
Cannot be bought
Wherever I go, my mind goes with me
The people I know, they know I'm empty
Wherever I go, I know to blend in
But everytime, there's something giving me away
I have a dream every night
That wakes me up in bed
Out of darkness into light
And nothing's ever there
Question faith and my beliefs
If I'm good enough to care
In my eyes, my obsession
Is more than I can bare
Should I be scared?
I'm at war
There's a battle inside me
You would hate it
If you see what I see
I see the future
And the future is ugly
Away! Away!
There's something giving me away
Away! Away!
There's something giving me away