Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Purple Rain

I remember noticing, when we first walked the back portion of our lot, a lot of thick, woody, vine-like growth climbing up the trees. For all intents and purposes, they appeared dead, but I wondered, this being the South and all, if it was the dreaded kudzu vine.

Thankfully, the vines on our lot have remained dormant, but elsewhere in the area, vines have exploded in lavender bloom and I've come to realize that while there is most likely plenty of kudzu in the area, there is also naturalized wild wisteria. Huge swaths of dripping lavender cover everything alongside the roads and it climbs whatever it can lay a tendril on. Every pole. Every tree. Every fence.

Wisteria isn't a common roadside plant, but the moist, marshy land around here appears to be perfect for it. And apparently, it's invasive. Oh, and guess what? It's a legume. Go figure.

There's a house in there!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Musical Mondays—Knock On Wood

So, at least today's Musical Monday makes some kind of sense to me. We've been getting hammered by thunderstorms here this past week. Every. Single. Day.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I loves me some thunderstorms.  Growing up near Portland, I remember getting 6 or 7 good thunderstorms a year. But living in the Bay Area, we were lucky if we got 1 thunderstorm every 2 to 3 years and I've been in withdrawals (and, yes, I always hear Hagrid's voice when I use that word).

Since we'd been looking at Pittsboro for awhile before moving, I knew we'd get lots and lots of thunderstorms here, and I've been looking forward to it. The cats, on the other hand, I am certain are scheming my demise.  And I can't say I blame them.

Sometimes the thunderstorms here are what I'd call normal—pretty lightening and moderate to loud thunder. Sometimes we're just on the edge of the storm and we'll hear rolling thunder of in the distance. And sometimes we're right smack dab in the middle of it.

And when we are, several of our thunderstorms are accompanied with tornado warnings, which we're still not quite sure how to handle. We mostly make sure the storage area under the stairs is cleared out enough to serve as shelter if we need it. And even when there's no tornado warning, the thunder is deafening. I've decided foley artists probably come to Pittsboro to record thunder for horror movies—It's crazy loud, sounds like it's right on top of the house, and I swear it shakes the house and the fillings in my teeth at least as much as any earthquake I ever felt in California.

Anyhow, this song has been on a loop in my head. I had no idea how many artists have covered this song—Wilson Pickett, Cher, James Taylor, and so many more. I know it's the Amii Stewart disco queen version that I'm hearing in my head, and honestly, thunderstorms just became a lot scarier after taking a look at her getup in the video. Is that a fascinator? I have to say I prefer the Otis Redding and Guy Sebstian versions.

Knock On Wood
Eddie Floyd and Steve Croppe
I don't want to lose you
This good thing
That I got
'Cause if I do
I will surely,
surely lose a lot
'Cause your love is better
Than any love I know
It's like thunder and lightning
The way you love me is frightening
You better knock, knock on wood, baby
I'm not superstitious about ya
But I can't take no chance
You got me spinnin', baby
You know I'm in a trance
'Cause your love is better
Than any love I know
It's like thunder, lightning
The way you love me is frightenin'
You better knock, knock, knock on wood, baby
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock
It's no secret about it
'Cause with his lovin' touch
He sees to it
That I get enough
With his touch all over
You know it means so much
It's like thunder and lightnin'
The way you love me is frightenin'
You better knock, knock on wood, baby
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood
Think I better knock, knock, knock on wood

Scary disco psychedelic

More bluesy, soul

Friday, March 23, 2012

Backyard Buddies

We spotted several new roommates this week.

The bluebirds stopped by my office window for a visit.

Then went back to nest construction.

This bright green lizard also stopped by my office window, but he scurried out of frame.

The brown-headed cowbirds were new this week.

And Scoob spotted this guy sunning himself on a deadfall by the stream. At first we thought it was a beaver since we were told last weekend they can be a problem here.

But then we spotted his tail... he's a groundhog!

The wild dogwood finished opening up.

I love that I can see it from my bed first thing in the morning,
or from the back patio, or, if I stand just so, I can even see it from the kitchen.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

It's Spring! Woohoo!

Of course, we've been entertaining summer-like temperatures the last couple of weeks, so I think Spring will come and go in a matter of weeks and then it'll be Summer. Which I also love. But I am dreading our first summer here.

We went to a St. Patrick's Day party last weekend and met some new neighbors. (I've decided Becca here must meet bestie-Becca in Oregon. The two of them are nutz-o for sports!) Actually, almost everyone here is nutz-o for sports. And with University of North Carolina and Duke University so close by, March Madness is truly mad around here.

Anyhow, the party. Learned of a good pest control service nearby that I think we're going to need to do. Scoob had been spraying the perimeter of the house himself each month, and so far the spiders seem to be under control. I say seem, because if they've nested in the house they haven't hatched yet. But we've also seen the random cockroach, mosquitoes are making an appearance (apparently they live in the lawn), and we've seen a few wasps trying to build nests.

So rather than buy, handle, and store all the chemicals we'd need to do battle effectively, I think we're going to hire a service. Let's face it, we'd be responding to whatever pest problem came up next, whereas a service already knows the pests, knows what to look for, and where to look for it.

The wild dogwood off the back porch opened up last weekend.

It'll be leafed out before I know it.

These beautiful pink-blossomed trees are growing wild all over the area.

More bluebird activity at the mailbox—nest building has officially begun!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Musical Mondays—Crimson and Clover

I tell you, this internal soundtrack just keeps running. It seems like I notice it most on Monday mornings. Maybe my brain is trying to set the tone for the work week before I'm even awake. If that's the case, judging from this song the week may be an exercise in doing the same things over and over.

Whatever the reason, I caught just a snippet of the chorus for Crimson and Clover as my feet hit the floor. I'm not sure if it was the Tommy James and the Shondells version, or the Joan Jett and the Blackhearts version. Maybe it was a blend of both, with the heavy reverb from TJ&S and the rockin' guitars from JJ&B.

Crimson and Clover
Tommy James and the Shondells
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Now I don't hardly know her
But I think I could love her
Crimson and clover
Well if she come walkin' over
Now I been waitin' to show her
Crimson and clover
Over and over
My mind's such a sweet thing
I wanna do everything
What a beautiful feeling
Crimson and clover
Over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over
Crimson and clover over and over

Friday, March 16, 2012

We've Been Slimed

I went out to the mailbox yesterday morning and noticed something bright yellow in the mulch around some of the plants near the house. At a distance, my first thought was that a stray plastic grocery bag must have blown into the yard.

As I got closer, it clearly wasn't a plastic bag, but I couldn't tell what it was.

Bright yellow goo

We had sprayed some deer repellent on the shrubs last weekend, so I wondered if it was deer barf. (Do deer even barf?) Whatever it was, it seemed lightweight and slimy when I poked it with a stick.

I googled deer vomit when I got back in the house and up popped slime molds. (What did we ever do before Google? I know I would never have found an answer in our old Funk & Wagnalls.)

And while this particular slime mold is not deer vomit slime mold (that looks like this), it is dog vomit slime mold, or Fuligo septica. Yeah, whatever. At least the common name kind of tells me what to expect—a foamy pile of yuck and the bright yellow is kind of bile-like. Vomit.

Apparently it's quite common, usually shows up in mulch after a good soaking rain (which we had) when the weather is warm (it's been near 80° for a few days). However common it may be, I've never seen it before. It's basically harmless to plants, animals, and humans, so I'm not going to try to do anything to get rid of it.

Within a few hours it had dried up and turned brown.

Learning all kinds of new things out here.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Portobello-Wild Rice Soup

I'm being a bit slow in getting up the recipes I'm trying. And depending on how quickly this second third glass of wine hits me, I may be a bit slower with this one.

(Don't judge me, we went to our first community HOA-style meeting tonight and I'm self-medicating in the aftermath.)

(Somehow I got nominated to moderate the next meeting.)

(Probably has something to do with the bitchy moment I had around the 90 minute mark, when I raised my voice over every one in the room to point out the fact that they were ignoring the meeting moderator who was trying to move the meeting along.) (And what the hell was I thinking actually training as a meeting facilitator back in college.)

(We're too new to the community to be making enemies this way.)

[Side Note to the side notes: I watched one woman (whom I know socially, though I wouldn't say we're friends (I don't know her well enough to know if I even want to be friends, though at this point I haven't seen any discernible reason not to)) come into the meeting late. Perfectly coiffed. Dressed casually, yet pulled together. And I had one of those envious moments—"She's got her sh*t together. Why can't I be more like that?" I suspect I'll become really familiar with that feeling in the South. At least I had some (minimal) make-up on, but my hair was pulled back in a pony. (Point added for the make-up; two points deducted for the hair.) (I'm so f*cked.) (Oh, and most of the women here seem to instinctively know how to be "nice" and assertive.) (Double f*cked.) (Just one more reason to continue watching/studying GCB.)]

(It's like high school all over!!!)

(Okay.) (Breathe.)

(Remember who you are.) (They either like you, or they don't.)

(And their loss if they don't.)

Okay. Back to the cooking.

In my last recipe post I was telling you about my Veganomicon cookbook, this recipe is adapted slightly from the same cookbook and we love it. It's a shame the weather is really warming up here (pushing 80° the last couple days) because this is a really yummy, satisfying soup, and pretty easy to make.

The dried mushrooms were a bit difficult to find, but our regular grocery store had them, just in a place I wouldn't expect. (It's only logical to look for dried mushrooms in the fresh produce section!) The original recipe called for dried porcini mushrooms, but Krogers seemed to have everything but dried porcinis, so I used dried portobellos instead.

The original recipe also called for chervil instead of parsley. But hell if I even know what chervil is. (It's purported to have a lemony taste.) And trying to find it in rural North Carolina? Well, I went with parsley instead.

I've had some really yummy mushroom soups in my time,
and when I remember this one has no fatty, cholesterol-load cream or butter,
and I made it myself,
well, there's absolutely no reason to try any other recipe!

Portobello-Wild Rice Soup

Prep time: ± 1 hour

    ½-oz. dried portobello mushrooms
    2 cups boiling water
    2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
    1 large onion, diced
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 Tbsps fresh thyme
    1 tsp sea salt
    freshly ground pepper, to taste
    8 oz fresh cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly
    1½ cups wild rice (preferably a blend)
    4 cups stock
         (as I've said before, I'm not vegan, so I don't really care
         what kind of stock you use)
    1 carrot, peeled and grated
    ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

  1. In a bowl, pour boiling water over dried portobellos. Cover bowl with a plate and set aside.

  2. Preheat stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, until browned, stirring often.

  3. Add the sliced creminis and sauté another 3 minutes, or so.

  4. While the creminis sauté, remove the portobellos from the covered bowl (with tongs or a fork; don't discard the liquid) and thinly slice. Add them to the stockpot along with the liquid they steeped in. Let the mixture cook a few more minutes.

  5. Add the wild rice blend and the stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 minutes.

  6. When rice is tender, add the grated carrot. Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes. (If the soup is too thick, add broth or water until desired consistency is found.)

  7. Garnish with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Backyard Buddies

Because Mom refuses to get facebook, I have to share this photo here, too, so she can see it.

Well, that and I'm ridiculously stoked that I got this shot. And that it's in focus!

This guy was sitting on a pile of rocks outside our kitchen window, preening in the afternoon sunlight. This was one of the very last shots I got of him before my camera battery went dead.

Being Supportive

Sometimes, being supportive is one of the hardest things to do. Actually, being supportive isn't hard, it's keeping my tongue between my teeth and the words in my mouth while being supportive that's hard.

I've often said that our friends here in North Carolina are Scoob's only family—he's been friends with them for nearly 30 years. Scoob's father passed away in the mid-1980s, and his mother died of cancer in January 2003, shortly after we moved in together.

His dad was adopted, so if Scoob has aunts, uncles, or cousins, he doesn't know about them. His mom was a war bride from Japan, and although he has met his aunts and uncles in Japan, it was only once and a very long time ago.

But Scoob does have a younger brother. A brother who barely spoke to him except to argue during the years before their mom died. A brother I met during our brief trip to Hawai'i to visit his mom while she was sick, but Scoob didn't really even get to visit with his mom because he and Brother stayed holed up in the basement fighting over money the entire time.

Scoob's relationship with his brother has always been distressing to me. It's been a little over 9 years since their mother died, and despite Scoob reaching out to his brother on several occasions, the only contact the 2 of them have had has been by email, through the sister-in-law. They are each the other's only living relative and they do not speak.

Until last week.

Last week, Scoob's sister-in-law emailed to get our new number. Scoob is talking with Brother now, which makes it the third call in a week. The purpose of the first 2 calls was so that Brother could try to convince Scoob to get in on what sounds like a pyramid scheme, so I'm not very hopeful that call number 3 will be any different or that they'll be mending fences.

I want them to—I want very much that Scoob and Brother have a better relationship—but the fact that this, THIS, is what finally got Brother to make contact is really just cheesing me off.

But it's not about what I want or feel, so I'm trying very hard to keep all that put away and just be here, ready to listen, once the call is over.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh, What a Night

Have you ever woken up in the morning with a song rolling through your brain? This seems to be happening to me a lot lately.

I have no idea what I'm dreaming about when these songs are providing a soundtrack, and even though there's a whole branch of psychology devoted to dream interpretation, there's very little information about music in your dreams beyond:
To hear harmonious and soothing music in your dream signifies prosperity and pleasure. You are expressing your emotions in a positive way. Music serves to heal the soul.
To hear discordant or out of tune music in your dream signifies unhappiness, lack of harmony,and troubles in your relationship or domestic life.
To hear or write songs in your dream indicate that you are looking at things from a spiritual viewpoint. Your future will be filled with happiness and wealth. Consider the words to the song that you are dreaming about for additional messages.
In ancient times, dream messages could only be unraveled by people with certain powers. So, in the hopes that one of you have these powers, I offer up my internal soundtrack for your interpretation. And now you can have these earworms stuck in your head too! Lucky, lucky you.

In the meantime, I feel oddly inspired to locate a pair of bell bottoms, roller skates, and every sequin I can lay my hands on.

Oh, What a Night
Frankie Vallie and The Four Seasons

Oh, what a night.
Late December back in '63.
What a very special time for me,
'Cause I remember what a night.
Oh, what a night.
You know, I didn't even know her name,
But I was never gonna be the same.
What a lady. What a night.
Oh, I. I got a funny feeling when she walked
In the room and I,
As I recall it ended much too soon.
Oh, what a night,
Hypnotizing, mesmerizing me.
She was everything I dreamed she'd be.
Sweet surrender, what a night!
I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinnin' my head around and taking my body under.
Oh, what a night!
Oh, I. I got a funny feeling when she walked
In the room and I,
As I recall it ended much too soon.
Oh, what a night.
Why'd it take so long to see the light?
Seemed so wrong, but now it seems so right.
What a lady, what a night!
I felt a rush like a rolling bolt of thunder
Spinnin' my head around and taking my body under.
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)
Oh, what a night!
(Do, do, do, do, do. Do, do, do, do, do, do.)

Sorry for the Spanish subtitles, but this was the best sound quality while still showing Fankie Valli and The Four Seasons in all their 70s bell bottom glory.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

I had purchased a copy of Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, shortly after it came out (late-2007) to give to a vegan friend as a hostess gift only to find she already had a copy by the time I arrived at her house. Anyhow, it's been mine ever since, though I haven't done much with it until we moved here.

Scoob and I started reducing the amount on meat in our diets several years ago and at first it was as simple as making a bigger salad and a smaller portion of meat. Our less-meat-ness progressed and at some point we realized we were only eating meat 1 or 2 times a week.

About that same time, I realized our meals were getting really boring. And as much as I love roasted cauliflower, a heaping plate of cauliflower is not a balanced meal.Now that I have a kitchen I can turn around in, I'm starting to experiment with vegan recipes from this cookbook.

**DISCLAIMER: The publisher of Veganomicon is under the same parent company as the travel publisher I work for, though never the twain shall meet.

I also have the authors' previous cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance, but I've never made anything from it. I've tried to get myself motivated to make something, but it just never happened. It seemed, to me, that a lot of the recipes from Vegan with a Vengeance were aimed at cooking with a meat replacement. I'm all for cooking with tofu occasionally, but really, I just want good recipes for vegetables. And that's what Veganomicon's got in spades.

Remember that Betty Crocker bible our mothers had? This is it for veggies.

There are still plenty of recipes that include tofu, tempeh, and seitan, but the bulk of the cookbook is about cooking vegetables. And since I'm not terribly concerned about begin vegan, when the book calls for vegetable stock, I use vegetable or chicken stock—whatever I have on hand. And when it calls for vegan margarine, I just use my regular margarine or butter. And if I think adding cubed chicken or pork to a recipe sounds good, then I'll do it. You get the picture.

Anyhow, Scoob and I are part of a supper club here. There are 7 couples in the group and each couple takes turns hosting. So far we've been off the hook for hosting, but now that we have a dining table and chairs (I think we can squeak in 10 at the table, though we only have 8 chairs) and my surgery is behind us, I know we'll need to step up and host.

Anyhow, last month was our kick-off supper for 2012 (we had to reschedule the January dinner) and the theme was " A Recipe from Your Favorite Famous TV Chefs." This is a problem when you really haven't had television for about 10 years. We got some random stations in Fremont, but nothing we could really count on, and the closest thing to TV chefs we watched with any regularity were Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain's Without Reservations—both travel shows with chefs as hosts.

I will say I do enjoy watching America's Test Kitchen when I catch it, but since I haven't purchased their membership, I can't browse through their recipe library.

So I was stuck trying to come up with something for supper club. That's when I stumbled on Veganomicon gathering dust, and as luck would have it, one of the authors, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, used to have a public access cooking show, The Post Punk Kitchen. Not really a "famous" TV chef, and certainly not one I had ever watched on TV, but a TV chef nonetheless. And the fact that our hostess for supper club was my vegan friend, I said what the heck.

We went grocery shopping today and I bought everything I'll need to make this one again. Just for us. It's not exactly the same recipe as the cookbook, but pretty darn close. (And I'm trying the Porcini-Wild Rice Soup recipe tonight. With a side of roasted cauliflower.)

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango

Prep time: 35 minutes; 15 if using leftover quinoa

    1 mango, peeled and cut into a small dice
         (we like something Scoob calls a half-ripe mango; just a slight bit
         of give to the skin and a tart sweet flavor, rather than full-on ripe)
    1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced as small as you can
    1 cup diced shallots
    1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    2 Tbsps red wine vinegar
    2 Tbsps extra virgin olive oil
    ¼ tsp salt
    2 cups cooked quinoa
    1 15-oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed

  1. Mix the mango, red bell pepper, shallots, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Add the red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt, and stir to combine. And the quinoa and stir until everything is combined, then fold in the black beans. Serve right away, or let it sit a bit for the flavors to meld.

Even though it's not summer, I know this is going to be awesome when it's on a hot summer evening and I don't want to cook anything hot.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

I can't believe a whole week has come and gone since I wrote last. Well, if I'm honest, I can. I feel just as beat up this Friday as I did last Friday.

And it doesn't seem to be just me, either. I overhear people—Scoob, people on facebook, real people (not that people on facebook aren't real, but, oh, you know!)—I don't know if Mercury is in retrograde or what, but I'm really hoping for a change of something soon.

Let's see. What has happened here since our last visit?

  • We went out last Saturday and got peat and compost for our Square Foot Garden.
  • Of course, somewhere along the line I misunderstood and thought we needed 8 cu. ft. each of peat, compost, and vermiculite for a 4' x 4' x 6" raised garden box; we need 8 cu. ft. total in a 1:1:1 mix.
  • So yeah, we have an assload of peat and compost in the garage. But I'm sure we'll build another box once we get the hang of it.
  • Of course, one of the compost bags (the one made from cow manure) ripped open while wrestling it in or out of the car. Yea.
  • Every where we looked didn't have vermiculite in the quantity we needed (or thought we needed); most places seem to carry in 8 qt. bags. Luckily I found a farm supply place that carries it in 4 cu. ft. bags. And they're local! woohoo! So we'll pick that up this weekend.
  • We also got some shredded mulch to fill in the flower beds. Of course, we got the wrong kind—we got a reddish shredded hardwood and it looks like they laid out a brown nugget-style hardwood. I'm thinking I may (get Scoob to) transfer the mulch from under the back porch (never did understand why the landscaping company laid it out so thick there) for the front flower beds and spread the mistake stuff under there instead.
  • And we picked up some deer netting (damn deer) and stakes so I can (get Scoob to) enclose some of the plants they've been munching on.
  • And I pulled weeds. Now I know there are Weed Pullin' Muscles and Lawn Mowin' Muscles.
  • Scoob fertilized the lawn and was oddly excited when he found deer droppings on the lawn. ??
  • We got a sock-style bird feeder with thistle seed and the finches seem to really like it.

  • We also got a seed bell, which the birdies also love. And now that the little birds are ripping up the bell, the cardinals have taken to ground feeding.

  • I got a picture of our resident bluebird!

  • He seems fascinated with the newspaper box below the mailbox, but there's no evidence of nest building in there.
  • Friends of ours are moving, so last Sunday we helped them pack a bit, and took what we wanted from their "donate" pile. So now we have some decorations, a sewing machine (!), Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit (please come over and play), some cookbooks I'm looking forward to going through, and I'm sure some junk that we're just going to end up donating anyhow.

  • We also bought a large-grid calendar and colored posties so I can try to keep track of my new ebook production responsibilities at work.
  • It's not working.
  • So I've devised a spreadsheet that also acts as a flowchart! Now I can see each ebook by title and at a glance I can tell where it is in the process, who has it, when they got it, and whether or not I need to follow up with them.
  • Now I just need paper big enough to print it on and a printer that can handle it. We're going to get some legal-sized paper this weekend. That should work.
  • I have reduced my work days from 12 to 10 hours. Getting better.
  • I think I've actually planned a menu for dinners next week. I'm kinda stoked about that. We'll see how it works out.
  • Had to run all the comforters through the laundry on Thursday. Dozer barfed on the bed in the middle of the night, and we found a cockroach (!!!!!)(!!!!!) on the window seat in my office. We've been using a couple old comforters there for padding. So in the wash they went.
  • And we started disinfecting the house like mad.
  • I've realized that somewhere in the past couple weeks (since returning to work, basically), I've gone from a cup-a-day coffee habit to a pot-a-day.
  • Want to get that back under control, but seeing how overwhelmed and cranky I've been the past couple weeks, I'm wary of cutting back drastically. But they're probably related. 
  • Extra caffeine + odd sleep = cranky
  • It doesn't help that Dozer has become my 4:00 am alarm clock. Every morning.
  • I need to start exercising again. I think about it, but then there's just "one more thing" to get done for work and the next thing I know, it's late and Scoob and the kitties are staring at me asking what's for dinner  and I'm exhausted.
  • I started a jigsaw puzzle last weekend on the dining table. 
  • There's no light fixture in the dining room. This is actually a good thing as it means I cannot stay up all night working on it.
  • I started and finished reading my book club read for March, A Visit from the Goon Squad. I really liked it. I enjoyed the shifting point-of-view and jumbled up chronology—a lot of people didn't. The book is about the passage of time, so the title of this post is appropriate. But what I really liked was the consideration of pauses. Maybe I'll get into that more another time. Kind of hoping the book club discussion will help some of the things I'm thinking coalesce.

I'm sure there's more, but they're giving me the what's for dinner look. (Which, by the way, is the Dude Ranch Stew.)

Friday, March 2, 2012


It's Friday!


Oh, god, please don't tell me it's Wednesday again. I don't think I could take it.

It's been a weird, weird week here. The temperature was up to 79 yesterday (gorgeous, but muggy) and we slept with the bedroom ceiling fan on and the windows open, listening to all the froggies. And today we're totally socked in with drizzly fog.

It's been a long-ass week y'all. This 5-day work week is just inhumane. Well it is when 8 hours turns into 12. Every. Dang. Day.

It's my own fault and I know it. I'm anxious to be back up to full speed at work and I'm stepping into a new role (which, the more I learn about it, should really be cool) so I'm burning personal hours trying to make it all fit together.

Scoob was astonished when I passed out Wednesday night before 10:00pm, while he was playing an insanely loud video game.

I need to set some boundaries with work and guard my personal time otherwise my ass will soon sprout roots into my desk chair.

The first thing I need to do is to actually start work at 9:00am. Oh, I'm at my desk at 9, but I check personal email, see what you all were doing on facebook after I went to sleep, check my Twitter stream, follow some links and surf the internet for a bit, and maybe make a couple personal calls. I don't actually get down to work until 10:30. So it really shouldn't surprise me that my work day is stretching out later and later. Basically, I'm keeping the same work hours as I did in California—10–7 or there abouts, but I'm pretty much at my desk from 9:00–9:00. No likey!

I'm sure the California office doesn't mind having me working hours closer to their 9–5, but dang it! I want to have a life!

So March resolution—get my stuff done before work and be ready to dive into actual work tasks by 9:00.

The other thing I need to do is get a big, honkin' wall calendar I can track projects and deadlines on. (And a butt load of color coded postie notes.)

I knew when I left for medical leave that when I came back I'd be working with the ebook production team and would eventually take over coordinating ebook production for one of our travel guide book series. Now it looks like I'll be taking over coordination for all our travel guides—that's 3 main series, 2 of which each have an additional sub-series, and 1 has an additional 4 sub-series.

It's a lot of moving parts and I'm looking forward to it in a get-my-geek-on kinda way. It's like a puzzle, and my brain can visualize how it's all supposed to come together, and it's up to me to manage the parts and people to make sure the pieces fit together correctly.

It's project management. Again. But I'm good at it. It doesn't seem to matter what my actual title or job description is—I'm a project manager.

And as handy as scheduling reminders in Outlook is, I'm a visual person and I want to see each title as it moves from print, to the conversion house, to the freelancer, back to conversion, and to distribution. Oh, and still stay on schedule with my web editing production.

Anyhow, I spotted this calendar at Paper Source back in December when I was calendar shopping:

Well, that's a sucky screen grab. Each month is a single sheet that measures about 17" x 12". Anyhow, now that I actually need one this size, they're out of stock. And I didn't get one back when I was looking at them because my seester made an awesome 2012 calendar for me. But now I need something bigger.

So I'll probably just end up getting a desk blotter calendar.

I was wanting something a little more visually pleasing since I'll need to hang at least 2 months at a time on the wall to track out titles and it'll take up so much space. But at least it's cheap and the squares are big enough. Oh, and it's available. Do any of you have a large scale calendar that you like?

Oh, and I'll need a way to hang it on the wall. I haven't put any holes in our walls yet and I'm not anxious to start. Have any of you had luck with those stick-um things not ripping off paint when you take them down?