Mar 20, 2017

Moulinet Monday

moulinet ~ machine for bending a crossbow

Happy first day of Spring!

I woke up to a weirdly orange sky this morning, like the light was being filtered through tangerine koolaide. It was enough to make me do a double take. By 7:30 or so the light was returning to normal but still, you have to wonder what caused it.

You notice I didn’t say when the sun started coming up. That’s because it’s almost 9 a.m. as I start this and I’m still waiting for the sun. It’s kind of grey and gloomy out there, especially since it’s the first day of spring and all.

You also might have noticed that I kind of skipped last week’s post. Mostly it was because I’m feeling pretty stressed out lately. So prepare for a somewhat whiny explanation. ;-)

I’ve had enough colds and flus this year that I’m seriously considering getting the flu shot in the fall - and I don’t believe in the flu shot. I blame the day care I’ve been taking the grandbaby to on a regular basis. Or more specifically, I blame the parents of the runny nosed, sniffling little plague rug rats we encounter there. See, the day care/play group is part of the local YMCA. And if you’re a member, you can drop your child (under the age of 6) off for free while you go work out. And apparently these parents don’t give a rat’s ass who their precious little germ factories infect as long as they get their workout in.

My latest is a really, really bad sinus cold that was on top of a speck of something I got in my eye that became infected. So off to the walk-in clinic I went where the doctor gave me drops for my eye and told me my sore throat was due to swollen glands, and did not give the rest of the cold a second thought. Had he checked my ears, it might have prevented what happened later that night.

To make a long story short, my sinuses worsened, my left ear started really aching, and finally the sinus pressure blew a hole in my eardrum. Looking on the bright side, at least it helped alleviate some of the pain. Back to the walk-in clinic the next day and the Doogie Howser-esque doctor looked in my ear, recoiled, and said he’d never seen such a mess. Charming.

Yesterday I finished the antibiotics he prescribed and he said if my hearing hadn’t returned in a couple of days to see my family doctor. Trust me kid, if it was that easy I’d have gone to her in the first place. However, my hearing isn’t back so I’ve been dutifully hitting the redial on the phone since 9 a.m. only to get through and find out that my doctor had to cancel her appointments for the day and all the emergency appointments were gone. Better luck next time.

Added to this stress is the fact that one of our cats has taken ill. He’s the sweetest natured of the bunch, and after blood tests and an ultrasound (which required two separate trips to the vet for the poor guy) it was determined he has cancer. He has between 20 and 30 nodules on his liver and spleen which have caused inflammation which in turn caused him to lose his appetite.

The big thing right now is to try and get him to eat. I’ve bought a variety of foods for him, some he shows interest in and some he doesn’t. And of course the other cats are a little miffed at the preferential treatment he’s getting. It’s a stressful situation all around.

And the thing is, I don’t deal well with stress. Pressure, yes. I actually work well under pressure, like the pressure of a deadline (just don’t bug me while I’m working). But stress will shut me down every time. I don’t deal with stress - stress deals with me.

But in any case. It’s the first day of spring, even if it doesn’t look like it out there. So sunnier, happier days are sure to be ahead.

Right?

Mar 6, 2017

Meteorism Monday

meteorism ~ abdominal cramps and swelling due to flatulence

You ever have one of those brilliant ideas that turn out to be not so brilliant after all because it has a ripple effect that had you thought things through a little better might have been enough to make you think twice? Yeah, that was me yesterday.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about how I wasn’t happy with the orchid on my kitchen window sill and was considering moving it. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, this particular simple thing took me half a day.

The little table I was thinking about moving it to had a very large ceramic pagoda which had to be relocated. First I thought it could go up on the bookcases in my office. So I got up on the step stool and shuffled things around and the pagoda fit - just barely. But it looked terrible up there.

So then I figured it could go on the bookcase in the upstairs hallway, which was lower and wider. I took the pagoda apart, took it upstairs, and removed the large ceramic knight on his horse and the dragon he was fighting from the shelf. The insanely dusty shelf.

Naturally I dusted the shelf off before reassembling the pagoda, which looks great up there, especially since the opposite shelf has a Chinese doll in a case and mythological beastie. However, I couldn’t just have one clean shelf, so I ended up dusting off the rest of the rather large bookcase. And the books on it.

At this point moving the orchid was simple, but the one drawback of the table is that it sits between the cat tree and the bookcase in the dining room, and the cats like to use it as a gateway to the plants on top of the bookcase. Which is why the pagoda was there in the first place, to block their passage.

So to kill two birds with one stone, I decided to plant the sweet potato vine in a small planter box and drape it over a bamboo trellis I just happened to have. This necessitated finding my planting stuff in the depths of the basement - no mean feat in itself. I found a partial bag of dirt that had just enough for the vine planter, but not for the pineapple that is also growing hydroponically.

Now, the sweet potato vine has been growing for several weeks, and it kind of grew up around the other plants on the window ledge. It even had a shoot wrapped around the stick in the orchid pot. And another that was wound around part of the window. And several tendrils were growing up and intermingling with the hanging plant above it. In retrospect, it might have been easier to just leave it there.

But all’s well that ends well. The orchid is in its new home, the sweet potato is in its new pot, and the plant hanging in the kitchen window received a much needed divesting of dead matter.



I don’t know if you can tell by the picture, but the sweet potato vine looks a little wilted. In my defense, it was already wilting before I planted it in dirt. I’m not sure if it didn’t like the sun we were getting, or if it was just tired of being hydroponic. I’m hoping it’ll be happier in dirt, and the blinds should shade it a bit from the sun.

But I guarantee you, I will think twice before deciding to move a plant again. :-D

Feb 27, 2017

Montiform Monday

montiform ~ shaped like a mountain

I was sitting here on Saturday, looking out at the rain, and I was finding it hard to believe it was February. Late April maybe, but not February. It was especially hard last week when one of the days had a record breaking high temperature.

The birch tree in the front yard has buds on it. And yet we had a smattering of snow on the weekend. Wednesday is supposed to be +10C (+50F) and Thursday is supposed to be -2C (-28F). The weather is on crack, I tell you what.

I suspect this is going to be a short post. Last week was pretty uneventful. I mean seriously, do you want to hear about how I cleaned out the pantry and got it all organized, which was pretty much the highlight of the week.

I know, just for something completely different I’ll do something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I’ll post a recipe. This was something new I tried last week and it was absolutely delicious. It would have been even better with biscuits, but I didn’t think of it until just now.

Slow Cooker Cowboy Casserole

Ingredients
1½ pounds ground beef, browned and drained
6 medium red potatoes, cut into 1½ inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chili, undrained
¼ cup water
1 ½ tablespoon salt
2 teaspoon pepper
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
1. Brown ground beef and drain off excess fat.
2. Add potatoes to 4-quart slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.
3. Add onion and garlic.
4. Add beef, beans, and tomato. Pour over water.
5. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours.
6. Sprinkle cheese in last 15 minutes and continue to cook covered.

Now, for the record, I used a bag of those mini red potatoes instead of the big ones, and I used herb and garlic tomatoes because I couldn’t find any with chilies in them. But other than that I pretty much stuck to the recipe. I honestly thought it would turn out to be more like a stew than a casserole, but the cheese thickens it up. It’s like a cross between a stew and chili. Yummy!

If you'd like to read something a little more interesting ... the first Friday of the month I’m posting a picture prompt on my writing blog, and the last Friday I’m posting a story, poem, or article that was inspired by it. I posted my first story last night and you can read it HERE if you like.

Have a good week!

Feb 20, 2017

Macrocosm Monday

macrocosm ~ large and complex structure considered as a whole

I’m late!

Or rather, this post is late. You’d think this being a long weekend I would have had plenty of time to get this post written, but you should know by now that’s not the way things work for me. ;-)

Saturday I spent the better part of the morning and part of the afternoon uploading my newest book to the e-publishers (more about that in a bit). I don’t know why I find it so stressful, this is the sixth time I’ve gone through the process and it’s not like I do my own formatting or covers. All I have to do is fill out the forms. Easy peasy, right?

Anyway, after that was done I had that curiously let down feeling you get when you finish a big project. So I decided to reward myself and indulge in a little shopping therapy. So I went to a couple of thrift stories, then the mall, and finally Walmart. And all I managed to come home with was replacement blender so I could start having smoothies for breakfast again. *sigh*

Next I tried on-line shopping and found a fairy tale book I’d been searching for at Abe Books. The way it works is they act as a broker - you purchase the book on their site, then they contact the seller who is supposed to contact you. I’m still waiting to be contacted. Seeing as this is the weekend I’ll try to be patient.

Day two of my long weekend, Sunday, I spent babysitting. The daughter and her hubby needed to go to IKEA to pick up new beds for them and the grandbaby. I can’t say that I’d want to be trapped in a car for an hour each way with an active toddler, nor would I want to have to wrangle said toddler in IKEA. But, by the time I got home again, it was time to start supper.

Anyway, I’d been planning to do a blog post for my writing blog on Sunday - that didn’t get done. And I usually do this post Sunday evening - I could barely keep my eyes open for Rizzoli and Isles, let alone type anything. So that didn’t get done either.

So this morning I had not one but two blog posts to get done, and I started with the one on my writing blog because today is Release Day for my newest book, An Elemental Earth, book 4 of the Ardraci Elementals series.



Help an author out, would you? Brazen Snake Books, read my interview, and enter the contest to win a free print book plus a gift basket. You don’t have to guess the correct flower, any flower will do. Just scroll down and leave a comment and you’re entered.

Thanks, and good luck!

Feb 13, 2017

Myrmidon Monday

myrmidon ~ follower; hireling; mercenary

I have a problem. I currently have four orchids. Two are tucked away on a stand next to the deck doors in the dining room, and two are on the window ledge of the kitchen. All four get pretty much the same exposure to the sun.

One of the two orchids in the kitchen is really too big for the window ledge, but I’m afraid to move it. I once had a beautiful cattleya orchid that I grew from a seedling. It took seven years for it to bloom, but the single blossom it produced was magnificent. It, too, started out on the window ledge of the kitchen, and when it became too big I moved it to a counter that was further back, but it seemed happy enough.

Unfortunately, I failed to take into account that the new space was across from the air conditioner in the dining room window and it did not like the cold air at all. I tried moving it back to the window but it was too late and I lost the orchid.

The bigger of the two orchids currently on my window ledge seems to be of sturdier stock. It’s bloomed a few times and last time it did so the bloom stalk had eleven blossoms on it. Normally once the blossoms fall off I’d trim back the stem to allow for new growth, but on the advice of my neighbour this time I left it alone.

Much to my surprise, it did get a new shoot off the original bloom stalk, which I promptly accidentally knocked off. Then it got another one, which I accidentally broke off while trying to tie it to a stick to make it a little more upright. When it got a third one, I left it alone, despite the fact that it the leaves are on one side of the plant and the bloom stalk is sticking out the other side. And then it hedged its bet by producing a second bloom stalk to stick out a third side of the pot.



Now my problem is this. There’s only so much room on my window sill and the leaves of the orchid are touching the cold glass. I don’t much like the arrangement, but it’s the only way to position it to minimize the possibility of knocking off one of the bloom stalks.



The blooms will keep going for weeks, provided nothing touches them, but both stalks stick out slightly over the sink. I could make room for the plant on the stand in the dining room - it won’t be easy but it’s do-able - but I’m afraid if I move it it’ll die, just like my cattleya orchid did. Plus it’s right beside the cat tree and I know at least one of my cats will try to snack on it.

Maybe I’ll just keep crossing my fingers. It’s worked so far. ;-)

Feb 6, 2017

Multifarious Monday

multifarious ~ having great diversity; manifold

Everyone out there catch the Superbowl yesterday?

I was dragged kicking and screaming to the get together my hubby’s buddy has every year where I ate too much pizza and actually watched the last half of the game. That was some come back by the Patriots, eh?

My big news for the week is that the bathroom is officially done. Actually it was done last week but I just didn’t have any pictures to post. These pictures don’t really do it justice - I don’t know if it’s the picture or just my computer, but the colour of the dark paint is kind of off.

Once I have a chance to get my pictures organized, and maybe take some better ones of the finished bathroom, I’ll do a separate post showing the entire renovation, but these pictures should give you an idea of what it looks like. If you'd like a bigger view, just click on the picture.

The first picture shows the sink on its stand and the mirror above it:



Next we have the rest of the bathroom. As you can see, it’s a really hard room to take pictures of because it’s so small:



And finally here’s a better picture of the window with the sconces:



And no, I haven’t had a bath yet. The tub needs a thorough cleaning first and I just haven’t had time to do it. But I can’t wait!

Jan 30, 2017

Masseter Monday

masseter ~ muscle used to move the lower jaw

I’m back. Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? LOL

A funny thing happened on the way to getting my post written last week...

Usually I write this post on Sunday night. For whatever reason - I guess I was busy last weekend and too tired on Sunday night - I put off the post until Monday. But like happens all too often, I didn’t get it done before I had to leave for babysitting, and by the time I got home again it was too late.

Normally I’m the last person to complain about the cold or being cold, but last Monday I was so cold at my daughter’s house I thought her furnace had broken. It hadn’t. That was my first warning sign. The second was that I had absolutely no desire to eat the wonderful lunch I’d made myself - baked salmon, sweet potato, and brussel sprouts.

When I got home again I changed into my jammies, slippers, and bathrobe and curled up in the recliner under a blanket. And promptly fell asleep. Which is the best I can say about last week. The excessive sleeping.

When I wasn’t sleeping I was in utter misery from the worst case of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu) I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. Thank God the hubby got the toilet installed in the downstairs bathroom that weekend. I could not imagine going through this with only one working bathroom, and an upstairs one at that.

Tuesday and Wednesday I pretty much lived on water and apple juice, alternating sips of both. Poor hubby had to fend for himself as far as suppers went - good thing we had a supply of Campbell's Chunky Soup in a variety of flavours (although even the smell of them didn't help matters). I was so sick I even bailed on babysitting.

Thursday I felt marginally better, but rushed the whole eating thing (as opposed to sipping juice and water) and Thursday night I paid heavily for my folly. Friday I started to follow the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) and actually felt well enough to babysit. I’m really amazed at how much the bananas in particular helped.

Anyway, by Saturday I was over the worst of it, and slowly began to introduce solid food back into my diet. If Thursday night taught me anything, it was to not rush getting back to normal. The virus has run its course and it’ll take a while for my body to recover. Fine by me.

Now I just have to find the time to watch all the TV shows I slept through.

;-)