Nov 9, 2015

Misfortunate Monday

misfortunate ~ bad luck; an unfortunate condition or event

I don't know about where you live, but here in Ontario, Canada we've been enjoying some awesome fall weather these last couple of days. There's been heavy frost on the ground in the morning, but the sun is still strong enough to burn it away by mid-morning. There aren't a lot of leaves left on the trees, but the days are crisp and cool and make me want to walk in the park so I can shuffle through the leaves.

Does anyone else like to do that? To me that's one of the best parts about the fall - shuffling through the crisp, crunchy leaves that cover the sidewalks and ground. And yes, I will go out of my way to shuffle through the leaves on the grass if there are none on the side walk. There's something about it that brings out the kid in me. :-)

Another thing that says fall to me, as I've already mentioned in previous posts, is apples. I received one more bag of apples last week and yesterday I used them up in half a dozen pot-pie sized apple crisps and two more apple pies. No more apples please, my freezer is full!

I've been thinking a lot about luck lately. Or more precisely, bad luck and its root causes. Why are some people luckier than others? Are they born that way or is luck somehow drawn to them just as bad luck seems to be drawn to other people?

I'm pretty sure I've whined about posted about luck before, but lucky you, you get to hear about it again. ;-)

I don't know if it's just the year or the story of my life, but I seem to have a disproportionate amount of bad luck. A lot of the time it's just little things, but it adds up so it's like having a big bad luck. Last week my little things culminated in coming home from babysitting Friday afternoon and discovering we had no hot water. And of course it couldn't just be a heating element or something going in the hot water tank, there was a steady stream of water coming from the bottom of it and little hissing noises coming from the top.

Now some people might point out that it could have been worse, and yes, it could have been. The hot water tank is situated right beside our sump hole, so the water was mostly draining into it - not that it mattered really because our basement was still pretty wet from all the rain we got last week. And the hissing noise could have been gas from the heating element escaping instead of just water.

And now that I think about it, normally I would have washed the container my lunch was in at my daughter's, but I didn't have time to eat lunch there on Friday so I had it when I came home. I rinsed my container out right away instead of waiting to include it with the supper dishes, and that's when I discovered we had no hot water. And the company we rent the water heater from just happened to have a truck in our area - they'd been just about to start back to the city, but came here instead. And I was fortunate they had a brand new water heater in their truck, which they were quick to install.

So I guess, when all is said and done, my luck can't be all bad. Maybe all the little good luck happenstances add up just like the bad ones do. The little good lucks of timing counterbalanced the bad luck of the messed up water heater.

Checks and balances. Maybe I should keep a list of both the bad luck and the good to see if they balance out at the end of the day. I can start with today, where I remembered to start the car to thaw it out before I went to the gym early this morning, but forgot to take my shoes with me. I'm already starting with a balance. LOL

Maybe the people who don't believe in luck are the real lucky ones. ;-)

Nov 2, 2015

Muscariform Monday

muscariform ~ shaped like a brush

As you may have noticed (or more likely you didn't - does anyone actually read this thing?) I did not get a post done for last week. I had two very good reasons for this. The first was that I appear to be in a creative slump. The second was that I had nothing to say.

These two reasons are not mutually exclusive. If you've read this blog more than once, you know what a boring life I lead. Work out, transcribe, babysit, sometimes throw a little baking or writing in. Occasionally I'll read a book or two, but that kind of goes hand in hand with the exercise. While it may not be the most exciting life, it's good enough for me. But it makes for rather boring reading.

Now the creative slump is something I've been going through at this time of year for the last few. I call it the "pre-NaNo-syndrome". While other people prepare for NaNo (more about that in a minute) by filling out character charts and creating elaborate story maps and plotting to a fare-thee-well, I simply do ... nothing. It's like a dam builds up in my mind, keeping the creativity at bay and then is released on November 1st in a torrent of words.

Never heard of NaNo? How about NaNoWriMo? No? Okay, then you need to go HERE.

Go ahead, I'll wait.




Have an idea of what NaNo is all about now? Okay, now you need to go HERE to find out why I'm not doing it this year.

There's another, even more compelling reason for me to stop doing NaNo. It's the NaNo Mind Set, and I have recently found it spilling over into my non-NaNo writing.

The NMS is what gets you through NaNo. You focus on the word count, on forging ahead with your story no matter what. Don't let anything stop you. You need to do research? Pfft! Just fake it and move on. You can do the research after NaNo. Need a character name? Call him Mr. X, call her Mrs. Y, worry about finding the perfect name once you're done. It's closing in on the end of the day and you have 500 more words to go? Start padding! Instead of Jane said, write Jane, who was related to Bob through an obscure cousin born on the wrong side of the blanket, heaved a much put upon sigh, rolled her eyes so far back in her head Lucy was afraid they'd roll right out of their sockets, and replied in a voice that was akin to nails on a chalkboard.

Now, as you should know by now if you've been here before - and stay with me here because I'm not going as far off track as you might think - I have a self-imposed daily quota of 500 words to write. It's a pretty reasonable amount really - two pages double spaced. However, I was appalled to learn that I'd fallen into the NMS with the four WIP I have going on.

In other words, I was focusing on the words instead of the story. I was starting to include all kinds of things that I knew were just going to get cut during the editing process, just to get my daily quota in. And while the NMS is good for completing the NaNo challenge or even to get a novel written, it makes for an editing nightmare. At least for me it does.

Take my fantasy novel Lucky Dog for instance. I wrote the first half of it for NaNo THREE years ago. And it continued in the NaNo fashion until the book was more than 100,000 words. And trust me when I say that even after cutting about 20,000 words, it's still a really big book. And it's still being edited.

So no more NaNo-ing for me until I get my words under control.

Will I ever do NaNo again? Oh, probably. It's a lot of fun and the NaNo community spirit is like no other. In fact, I was fighting the urge all day yesterday to pick one of the ideas I have on the back burner and go to it. But today, it's a bit of a relief that I only have to worry about 500 words instead of the 1667 that is the daily NaNo goal.

To those doing NaNo, I salute you, and may the words be ever in your favour. ;-)

Oct 19, 2015

Mehari Monday

mehari ~ camel used for racing

You know what the best thing is about the election for Canada's new Prime Minister today? It means an end to the endless phone calls, knocks on the door, and over abundance of commercials of people all trying to me how I should vote. At one point I felt like telling the last earnest young man who interrupted my work day that I'd vote for the first candidate who'd stop sending people to harass me.

And you can't even get away from it by watching the American channels on the television. Our cable company runs the feed off the Canadian channels whenever possible, which means if a program is on both the Canadian and American channels, they fix it so you're watching the Canadian one, which means you're getting the Canadian commercials.

The weather has turned cold and the leaves have started to change their colour, finally. Don't blink or you might miss it. I have the feeling before we know it we're going to be looking at naked trees out there.

And, of course, this is the time of year when you need a jacket with a thermostat so the warmth it provides can be adjusted throughout the day. My jean jacket or heavy hoodie are all right for day time, but this morning I broke out the winter jacket to go to the gym. I also went out and started the car before feeding the cats. It didn't impress them much, but it was nice not to have to scrape the frost off the car.

Yesterday was frosty too, but since I didn't have to go anywhere I didn't have to deal with it, the hubby did. And I must confess, I probably felt a little more smug than I should have at the thought that he had to deal with the frost on the car for a change. ;-)

I was able to cut apple mountain in half yesterday - I've only got two bags and a small basket of apples left to deal with. I started with apple/oatmeal pancakes. I normally make pancakes from scratch and I adapted my recipe to include both oatmeal and apples. Man were they good (if I do say so myself)! With the leftover batter (hubby doesn't eat anything apple) I made a bunch of little ones for the granddaughter and she really liked them too.

On Saturday, one of the ladies at my gym was talking about these caramel apple tarts she made, and they sounded so easy that I got some tart tins and gave it a try. The two I sampled tasted so good that I broke down and made an oatmeal pie crust and made half a dozen pot pie size caramel apple tarts, as well as a pie. That was a lot of peeling and chopping (as my back was telling me), but it was worth it.

I still don't have any apple muffins made yet, nor can I find my meat pie tins I bought to make single serving apple crisps. And I still have raspberries in the fridge that have to be used up. And the hubby mentioned he wouldn't be offended if I made him a cookie or two. ;-)

Good thing this is a great time of year for baking, eh?

Oct 12, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving ~ a national holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends and Happy Columbus Day to all my American friends! I hope wherever you are, you're enjoying the abundance of harvest time.

As you know, normally I write my Monday post on Sunday night. But quite frankly, Sunday night I was in a food coma. I could barely keep my eyes open, let alone write anything. :-)

I always think of Thanksgiving as a time to reflect, and to be grateful for all that we have. This year I have an extra thing to be grateful for, my adorable little granddaughter, Ellie:

What makes this picture even funnier is the way her mother was freaking out in the background because Ellie kept wanting to touch the turkey. My daughter has a phobia about touching raw meat, which was why I was there on Saturday to stuff her turkey for her.

Today is also the day of my daughter's birth, and from the day she first discovered cheesecake, that has been her birthday cake of choice. Traditionally it was always a peanut butter cheesecake, but the last few years she's branched out a bit in her choices of flavour. This year she asked for chocolate. Being the overachiever in the cooking department I am, I couldn't just throw some chocolate into a regular cheesecake recipe. No, I had to get a little fancier than that:

As well as the Oreo cookies embedded in the outside, the crust on both the bottom and the top is made from crushed Oreos as well. An entire bag went into the outside. Well, minus the two cookies I ate. ;-)

The filling was made from chocolate cream cheese with some cocoa powder added. And then at the last minute I threw in some chocolate chips, which melted into the cake instead of retaining their shape like they do in cookies or regular cakes. To say the result was decadently chocolatey would be an understatement. The cookies around the outside were a good idea, they provided a serving guide - one cookie width made the perfect serving size.

Thank goodness the rest of it went home with the daughter. :-D

But don't despair, I still have half a pumpkin pie, three-quarters of an apple pie, and a fridge threatening to burst with leftovers.

A surfeit of thanksgiving indeed!

Oct 5, 2015

Malmsey Monday

malmsey ~ sweet perfumed wine

September was not a kind month to me. I'm crossing my fingers that October will be better but it's too soon to get my hopes up so we'll have to wait and see.

Hard to believe, but I survived my five days without the internet. Actually, it wasn't as bad as it seemed at the time. Once I got over my initial shock/rage/angst dare I say it was a little freeing?

I could still write, but without distractions (game, Facebook, email). I found I had time for other things, like reading and ... gulp ... housework. I even did some baking. The only two things I really missed was access to my email, and being able to go to the Cogeco grid to see what was on TV.

As you know, I look after my granddaughter in the afternoons, and since I had the whole eight hour time frame going on waiting for the repairman, she had to come here. And of course the repairman came just as I had her ready to be fed so in that respect it was a bit of a debacle, but the main thing is the internet is fixed and I'm online again. :-D

It's apple season! Apples are a main crop around here - many orchards, two really big ones. I bought apples a week ago, thinking to make some apple muffins or apple bread or something, and since then I've been given three bags of apples from people with apple trees. Apparently there's a bumper crop this year. Time to get baking!

So one of the other things apple season means is an influx of migrant workers. One of the big orchards imports workers from Mexico, and the other imports from Jamaica. I remember when I worked the service desk in retail dreaded Friday nights in the fall. That's when the workers got paid, and their first stop was our store because the manager would allow them to cash their cheques there.

Ironically, despite the fact we were a grocery store, they did very little shopping with us, preferring to save their money for the discount grocery store across town. But they did use our Western Union service to send money to their families back home.

This was back in the days when we had to phone each and every transaction in. If you were lucky you got a hold of a Western Union agent who'd let you do multiple transactions without having to redial for each one and if you were really lucky, there'd be a second person working the desk to help check the forms and take the money.

It's been a long time since I've worked it that place. Time keeps changing and I'm sure everything is automated now. The workers probably all have direct deposit allowing them to cut out the Western Union middle man completely.

The migrant workers are here, the leaves are starting to turn, and it's become cold enough that I actually have the heat turned on.

Can winter be far away?

Sep 28, 2015

Miserable Monday

miserable ~ wretchedly unhappy or uncomfortable; pitiably small or inadequate

When I first started to use random "m" words to title my Monday posts, I had found a website that listed hundreds of unusual words for each letter of the alphabet and copy/pasted all the "m" words into a document to refer back to without having to keep going to the web site. I don't know how many pages I started with, but I still have sixteen pages worth of "m" words to go.

However, today I did not want to use a random "m" word. Today I wanted to convey exactly how life has been treating me lately, and as words go, miserable is a pretty good one.

For those of you who aren't within rant range of me, my internet went out late Thursday night. I didn't think much of it at the time because the cable for the television had flickered a time or two earlier and I just figured it was part of the same glitch. But Friday morning I awoke and there was still no internet.

So I called Cogeco, who is my service provider. First I tried the direct technical support line and was asked to answer three questions for a quick survey. Being a good sport I did, and suddenly I was transferred to some way too cheerful travel agent who couldn't believe I didn't want a free cruise. When I finally got her to accept the fact that all I wanted was Cogeco tech support, she then blithely told me she couldn't ping me back there so I'd have to call again.

So I tried again. This time I got some kid whom I could barely hear, and told him about the flashing light on my modem. He told me to try resetting it, that didn't work, so then he scheduled a service call for me. For Tuesday. That's five days without internet service. Unacceptable! Oh, and the tech will be coming sometime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

I never knew how much I'd grown dependent on the internet until I no longer had access to it. What's the weather going to be like? Check the internet. What's the definition for miserable? Check the internet. What's on TV tonight? Check the internet. And the list goes on.

To be honest, this was just the last straw as far as Friday went. Friday was ... a really, really bad day. So the lack of internet service on top of everything else was really hard to take.

But by Saturday I was starting feel a little more reasonable. As the hubby said, "What did we ever do before the internet?" What indeed!

By the end of Sunday (which is actually when I'm writing this so I can take advantage of the free wifi at the library and schedule this to appear at the appropriate time) the only thing I was really missing was the convenience of checking my email and Facebook whenever I liked. Although I'm still angry that a big company like Cogeco is taking five days to set things right.

I must say though, I feel like I've had more than my fair share of bad luck this year, especially lately. I don't recall breaking any mirrors, walking under any ladders, or ignoring pennies laying on the ground. And I always knock on wood when tempting fate. So what gives?

I'm not even looking for some good luck to replace the bad. Just stop heaping the bad luck on me.

Pretty please?

Sep 21, 2015

Maniform Monday

maniform ~ having the shape of a hand

Where does the time go?

Wednesday is the first day of Autumn ... where'd Summer go?? Seems like it was just yesterday we were complaining about the heat.

Oh, wait. It was just yesterday. Or maybe it was a couple of days ago. I distinctly remember the daughter and I in Walmart saying how much we needed a coffee and opting for an iced coffee because it was too hot out for a regular coffee.

And just for the record ... while I love McDonald's hot coffee, their iced coffee sucks. I've been taking my coffee without sugar for long enough that it was kind of a shock to the taste buds how overly sweet it was. Even the daughter, who does take sugar in her coffee, found it too sweet.

Last week was kind of a roller coaster of good luck and bad luck and that's pretty much par for the course with me, but what made it unusual was the way I'd start out a day on a high note and it would suddenly go downhill, or it would start out bad and take a turn for the better. Normally it's just one or the other.

Other than that, it was pretty much a normal week - get up, go to the gym, have breakfast, work on the transcribing, go babysitting, come home and work on the transcribing some more, have supper, and write/edit in the evening. Insert procrastinating and time wasting as needed. ;-)

Saturday I exchanged babysitting for laundry.

Sunday, which is supposed to be my day off, I spent cleaning the house. Or I tried to anyway. I did a thorough picking up on the main floor and even dusted the living room. Then I gave vacuuming my best shot but neither vacuum cleaner was working. The good one wouldn't suck at all - the filters were clean, the canister was empty, the belt was fine, the motor ran fine, the roller was spinning - it just wouldn't pick anything up.

The old one, which was sent to the basement when we got the newer one, would pick stuff up with the long hose, but not via the power pack that you use on the carpets. The roller in the power pack wasn't rolling. It's possible the belt had stretched out or broken, but I didn't bother taking it apart to see.

AND THEN, after all this cleaning and angst over the vacuum cleaners, the extra company we were expecting for dinner called up at the last minute to cancel. And the son in law had a meeting that included dinner. So dinner for six suddenly became dinner for three. *sigh*

On the one hand it was kind of annoying because I could think of a number of ways I would have preferred to spend such a beautiful Sunday. But on the other hand, my house is nice and clean now. :-D

I lead such an exciting life, don't I?