Random Tense Week

This is my life right now:

If you pull the string, it plays “Beyond the Sea” as the fish goes up to swallow the oblivious swimmer.

My previous this-is-my-life image was this:

So you can see that life has gotten tenser. Or I’ve gotten more clueless. Hard to tell.

I told my therapist that I have really good taste, and she said, “I know, I’ve seen your clothes,” and I laughed because we were on computers and she couldn’t see what I was wearing: a baseball shirt with the words “What does not kill you makes you stronger. Unless it’s bears. Bears will kill you.” I’m sure Vogue will calling at any minute to get a picture of that.

I still kinda want that “There are two kinds of people in the world, the kind that can extrapolate from incomplete data . . .” tee.

I’m watching my dogs eat Chicken McNuggets and feeling sorry for them because they have no thumbs. God knows what the world would be like if dogs had thumbs. (I don’t even want to think about the world if cats had thumbs.) On the other hand, they’re dogs eating chicken nuggets, so they’re not suffering. But still, their lives would be so much easer with thumbs.

Krissie and I have been discussing the plotting of sex scenes, specifically when to have them happen in the plot, and for me it always hinges on the character. I mean I like to see the relationship progress first, but I also like Anna picking up Nate in the first chapter, so it really depends. I told her I was not good at writing sex scenes, at least in the context of the New Age romance scenes that are explicit (that’s not a criticism, some of them are good and crucial to the plot, see Kennedy’s The Deal), but that’s not something I’m good at writing. Krissie pointed out that one of my sex scenes was good enough that somebody plagiarized it, and that was a little comforting. But still there’s a reason I’m better at bad sex scenes than good.

How’s my week going? A raccoon ate my croissants.

And I had to buy a new computer. I always end up buying a computer because my last one died (one before this one had a huge crack in the screen, this one had a fried motherboard thanks to liquid under the keyboard which I do not remember spilling, but the computer was definitely dead and I trust the Genius Bar), which means I don’t get the thrill of buying something for pleasure (see car). It cost the earth because I need a big screen, plus it’s in this dull gray that looks like a laptop on the Death Star. OTOH, the screen is huge (16″) and aside from the hassle of getting everything back in place, it’s a joy to work on. For one thing, when I type an “a,” I only get one “a” instead of the three my last keyboard was giving me. I am still looking for my desktop, and Microsoft Word is ghosting me even though I’ve owned their damn software for decades, which come to think of it is probably why they want me to buy it again, but in general, the transition was pretty seamless. I can’t blame Jobs for Gates’ greed.

It’s snowing here. Coming down like a mother. Tomorrow it will be fifty, and much will melt but I have to drag the trash out today. It’s been in the forties and fifties so far this month, but on the day I have to drag the trash to the street (not that far), it snows, probably for the last time (I hope). I’m starting to think the universe hates me.

Next Day Update: I finally got Dropbox back, but Microsoft definitely hates me. It won’t let me into my Word files and I’ve spent hours trying to get help from them only to find out they’d overwritten my old paid-for program with the new on which is why they keep telling me I have to buy it. So I just put Word in the trash. Screw you, Microsoft. Hello, Pages.

And I didn’t get the trash out to the street. I took Mona to the vet on the wrong day. I tried to cut back this monster thorn bush and now I’m covered in scratches and welts. I still don’t have the taxes done.

OTOH, it’s a beautiful day and I don’t live in Ukraine. It’s one of those two-sides things. Ukraine is suffering terribly, but nothing is going right for Putin, and the rest of the democracies in the world appear to be getting their heads out of their butts, and there’s some hope for a better future. And I’m not suffering terribly but it’s tense here and I’m doing some silent screaming, but it’s also a beautiful day, and the thorn bush is trimmed back and I can probably get the rust out of my new dress, and the dogs are happily chewing on chew sticks, and Emily has climbed on top of a pile of clothes and is snoozing like a house cat instead of a stray, and my future looks brighter (she said softly so fate wouldn’t drop kick her). There are always setbacks (I’m not talking about Ukraine, that’s an obscene ongoing tragedy) but life goes on and so do we. There’s beauty everywhere,I just have to pull up my socks and get to work.

(Another good thing: I have great socks.)

XIR3675 Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, c.1555 (oil on canvas) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); 73.5×112 cm; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium; Giraudon; Flemish, out of copyright

Which brings me to W.H.Auden and this wonderful essay in the NYT by Elisa Gabbert that’s the best thing I read all week. At quarter to six this morning, still having not gotten to sleep, Gabbert and Auden and Brueghel stunned me with the beauty in the world all over again. I’ve read the poem a dozen times before, seen. reproductions of the painting even more, but early this morning, this essay made them both new again and made me think about something besides my tense but incredibly fortunate self.

So now I’m snuggled up in bed with a new laptop, a dachshund, a poodle, a Maine Coon, a Diet Coke, a Hot Pocket, new gorgeous yarn (just came in the mail), a new word processor, and my taxes.

Nothing but good times ahead.

How’s by you?

74 thoughts on “Random Tense Week

  1. I’ve just knocked off for the weekend, and have a hovering headache. Hoping for good gardening weather for the next couple of days, to help me unwind. Between editing this book about the mass migrations that the climate crisis will cause in the near future and doom-scrolling the war in Ukraine, I’m tenser than I’d like to be, too.

    But I did get my parking space back this afternoon, thanks to my nextdoor neighbour giving me a heads-up that the black mini that’s been parked outside my house since Saturday had finally gone. I really didn’t like where I’d left the car, since I nudged the car behind as I was parking, and its owner was absolutely livid with me. There was a nice guy at my insurance company, though, who calmed me down.

  2. So much I want to say! But since sex scenes in books are a topic for me right now (see yesterday) Jenny’s sex scenes are the best. Super hot in a way Tab A and slot B isn’t. They’re about the way Tab A into Slot B (or whatever) makes the characters feel. Sexy as hell. Total win. (You know, I suspect it’s much less excruciating admitting that a scene in a book turned you on when you’re not actually communicating with the person who wrote it.)

    Also that amigurumi. Ha!

  3. No big deal, Allanah, we’ve been net friends for a long time, so we dish. Also, thank you!

    And new happy news: The next Rivers of London book is out April 12. SO happy.

    More happy news: My covid test is negative.

    It’s just sunshine and butterflies all over the place here.

  4. Sorry to hear things are tense with you. I hope it improves, whatever is going on.

    My week’s sorta tense?

    (a) No more rehearsals for Urinetown, so I had a few days off. Got bored on day TWO of being home all night again. I’m not used to that.

    (b) Auditioned for two shows (musical and 10 minute play festival) and got asked to do a third musical show because they want more people for it. Haven’t heard about the first two yet. Show #1 won’t decide for a few weeks or start rehearsals until end of April, show 2 said “a few days.” Said I’d join show #3 (starts Sunday) but haven’t gotten confirmation(?) about that yet? They said they’d work around if I got into the 10 minute play festival since that shouldn’t be huge rehearsal time and the show doesn’t overlap with the play. 10 minute and show 3 overlap but hopefully not too badly if I get into 10 minute. I’m fairly sure I may get into one of the 10 minutes…hopefully.

    The whole musical situation has been interesting. Show# 1, I auditioned at a theater where I like the show, haven’t performed there before and as far as I’ve heard they have been semi-lackadaisical about covid protocols. I think they pretty much threw ’em out the window when the mask mandate ended. They are also out of town (and oh, look at gas now!) and have 3.5-4 hour rehearsals every night (why?!? my usual theater doesn’t usually go over 2.5-3 except for tech week) and other than really liking that show, I’m not feeling super great about that theater.

    I love my “home theaters” (that would be #2 and #3) and the second musical, #3, is at a place seven minutes from home with great protocols and shorter rehearsal time. And ah, the crush got in that show (I know, I know). The only issue there is that I don’t love this show from what I’ve seen of it so far on the Internet. I feel “eh” about it and that is why I didn’t audition in the first place. I suppose I will suck it up and deal with it since everything else other than my liking of the show is top notch. And yes, the crush…because that continues and even though he said no, he still seems to like me in general, so. I gave him a “little old lady” I made of our Producers costume for his birthday and he cracked up laughing very hard and called it magnificent.

    I’m a sucker, I admit it.

  5. I don’t know. If everything in the scene is about Tab A and Slot B, there are a number of tabs and slots being under-utilized. One of the things I laughed at in Book of Firsts was the names for various things they tried, and what they thought of them. I’ve looked at an illustrated Kama Sutra and laughed even more. And maybe that’s the point – it should be fun, or why bother.

  6. Me again! Because I’ve just read this and had to share:

    We have a fab library here (post-earthquake projecct, Google Turanga library images). Apparently the doors accidentally automatically unlocked on a public holiday, 400 people wandered in, browsed, self issued books. Nothing was nicked. Beautiful. I’m having a people are awful week, so this has made my day.


    1. Only in New Zealand. I spent very little time in Christchurch when I was in NZ, but obviously I should have. Of course, that was before the library was built.

      1. I’m sure there are lots of places this would be ok. I once left my camera hanging on the handle bars of my bike at a train station in Switzerland for a whole day, and it was still there when I got back. It’s a comforting thought, in a week (month? Year?) when I’m incensed by the willful ignorance and fuckwitery of others (I, of course, am never willfully ignorant or awful. Ha).

    2. Thanks for the info, my grandson is in Christchurch ( taking a course) so I will email him to surprise him with my uptodate knowledge.
      p.s. To explain the surprise I am in Canada.

  7. Good day here. I just finished with a Zoom meeting (fancy new background caused Zoom to miss broadcasting my cowlick; who knew?).

    One of the many wonderful guys I used to work with checked in with the employees’ FaceBook group. He’s at Lubycza Królewska, Poland, on the Ukraine border, “running” refugees wherever they need to go.

  8. Short meeting and short minutes. I’m going to grit my teeth and finish them up and forget about them until I send them to the Board.

    I’m tense because my party and tribe (progressive) are letting the autocrats walk all over them. But a handful of us will continue to battle on.

    There’s snow tomorrow and I don’t have to go anywhere. So there’s that.

  9. I signed off work early today to go get a mammogram, apparently the first one I’ve had since 2014 (I was not keeping good healthcare records for a few years there). After that, a trip to Total Wine & More. Then home to do the orientation for jury service. Then ordered a load of takeout from a favorite nearby restaurant, with which the man has just returned.

    A little tense about online stuff; my author page on FB has been compromised, and possibly also the business checking account. Fortunately there was hardly any money in that, but I have to get on the phone with them. And then may end up closing it, because it’s a PITA and why keep a PITA around when it’s not a strong business need.

    Sorry about the tense week and untimely bad weather. 🙁 At least you have a napping cat and well-fed dogs. And a nice big new computer screen.

  10. Sorry you’ve been having tense times. But there’s still so much to love in this post.
    -“Beyond the Sea”: One of my favorite songs, which I had to go find and listen to, so that will be my earworm for a while.
    -“. . . Unless it’s bears. Bears will kill you.” I love that one. A few years back, I found a card with that on it, bought them all, and sent them to all my relatives that year.
    -Happy pups and felines.
    -A new, working computer that I know you can decorate.
    -The thought that at least our former president isn’t our current president given the horrors happening in Ukraine.

    What are your thoughts on Scrivener? I know many people who love it.

    As for my week, that was just a lot of work stuff. Last weekend I took advantage of the warmer weather and (either prematurely or tardily) cut back the rose bush that had gotten taller than I am. I know next to nothing about roses except I’m not a fan (hate the thorns, don’t love the smell), so I hadn’t done anything with it since we moved in. I learned that they are Knock-Out roses and could be cut back to 30 inches, but I got carried away. So it went from over 6 feet to about 2–and it turns out it’s 5 separate plants, not one big one. I figure if they don’t come back, I didn’t care for them anyway. And I might end up digging them out and putting in a small veg garden there. Plus, there appears to be a dreadfully invasive goutweed growing there.

    1. I could never get into Scrivener, but there are people who swear by it. It should be wonderful for me, it kind of fits of my process, but, nope.

  11. I’m not so sure how my week is going because I went to one of those walk-in Covid-19 test places only to find that it was now being run by a different lab than when I went there last September. It is now over a week later and I have received no results. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised because when they gave me the test, they wiped the edges of my nostrils instead of putting the swab all the way up my nose as the other places I’ve been tested did. I guess I’ll be contacting the State Attorney General’s office on Monday.

  12. Jenny, I thought you’d got your desktop back? Does that mean we need to be sending up prayers to St Anthony for your Nita files?

    1. It’s back. I wrote that over the course of three days when I was fighting for it. But thank you for the offer.

  13. Sorry you are having a tense week. I’m having a productive week.
    Also I joined Corinne Crabtree’s No BS Womens Weightloss program. Loving it so far. I am the boss of my food!
    Jenny I want to weigh in on the sex scene discussion. Please don’t change yours. They’re the best. I skip all explicit sex scenes. Boring!

    1. Same here about the sex scenes! I remember when I first discovered your books they were the sexiest scenes ever (still are, but it’s a very fond memory for both dh snd me, ’cause I had to read some of them aloud to him).
      NOT doing the slot A to slot B and getting the reader’s imagination is soooo much better.
      Sex scenes get incredibly boring when it’s just that. Snd sooo many books these days follow the A into B routine. Cannot stand it anymore. Must get out Fast Women soon.
      Also thanks, thanks, thanks for including when the sex is bad! Rare to find on romances but oh so true!

  14. Every time the subject of writing sex scenes comes up, I remember this:

    On the Subject of Penises…
    by Sailor Jim

    Jim pauses in his latest endeavor and frowns. After a moment’s contemplation, he saves his work and firmly closes his new fantasy G4 titanium PowerBook. After a meditative sip of his drink, he addresses those around him.

    “There are some literary subjects that have become total cliché and attempting to describe an erect penis is one.

    “I am writing a sex scene and my hero is now crossing the room while fully erect. So, basically, his stiff dick is bobbing like a demented conductors baton as he crosses the room … however, one cannot simply write, ‘He crossed the room, his stiff dick bobbing like … ‘ and so forth. Well, one could if one was writing that sort of scene (and one was half plastered), but this one cannot.

    “To write anything referring to his ‘turgid manhood’ is also somewhat tacky. Hell, just the term ‘manhood’ to describe the penis strikes me as idiotic. A dick is no more one’s ‘manhood’ than a hymen is one’s ‘maidenhood.’

    ‘He strutted across the bedroom, his hard manhood pointing the way’ sounds somewhat he owns a badly named seeing-eye dog. ‘Sit, Hard Manhood … good boy.’

    “Just describing the state of erection is tough. It is a simple matter of erectile flesh and hydraulics, but damnably difficult to put into terms romantic. ‘His penis, reacting to his viewing her naked flesh, achieved satisfactory erection, proving good vascular response and socio/psychological adjustment.’

    Oh, yeah … baby, baby.

    “Terms like ‘throbbing,’ ‘pulsing’ and all other variations of this nature make it sound as if the silly thing had a blood pressure cuff wrapped around it. ‘His fleshy organ quickly surged into full alertness, throbbing and pulsing and otherwise scaring the shit out of him.’ When I envision something throbbing, I imagine an action somewhat akin to a bullfrogs throat sack as it croaks. THROB! Frankly, with this in mind, if my dick ever took to throbbing, I’d call a doctor. Matter of fact, I would think that any woman, faced with an actively throbbing pulsing penis, would be somewhat concerned as well. (I don’t know this for a fact, though … Dian says that in certain situations, the sight is somewhat exciting, but the first time she experienced this situation, she looked for a stick to kill it with.)

    “And then there is the matter of size, shape, color and texture. Well, he’s the hero … I suppose it should be heroic, but somewhat shy of practical joke size. Shape, now, there’s another difficulty … as well as color and texture. Hell, let’s face it … a dick is a fairly funny looking, if not downright ugly, piece of equipment. Veins, bumps, ridges and all that; a color that never matches the sheets, much less the surrounding flesh (or any flesh, for that matter); an overall look of a plum precariously balanced on a badly whittled rod. Let’s not even mention it and simply stick to the concept of a literary description of my hero approaching the heroine.

    “Okay, he’s naked and fully aroused … does he stride? Stalk? Strut? Strikes me as a situation that calls for something more than ‘walk,’ but something less than ‘bound.’ I could have the silly sod moonwalk across the floor, but the resulting mental image … damn, too late! Oh, well…another round of therapy.

    “And what does the erect penis actually do while he crosses the floor? Does it bounce against his belly, producing its own applause? Does it wave about in some sort of vague response to his stride? Would it be feasible if I simply had him hang a towel from the damn thing and skip the entire description?

    “And what about the heroine? She is languidly reclining on the bed…and doing her level best to not bust a gut laughing, I suspect. Should she stare? Gasp? Giggle? Ogle? Chant ‘boingy, boingy, boingy’ as he approaches or whistle the ‘Elephant Walk’ in time to the swaying? This is supposed to be a moment of strong passion and deep emotions… but a bouncing, throbbing, column of manhood slowly moonwalking forward…damn, gotta stop that image … strutting towards her cannot be what every woman dreams of in her fevered imagination. I want this scene to be equally stirring to both men and women, but fear that this is impossible.”

    Sailor Jim stares into the fire for a moment, then opens his PowerBook once more. “Screw it … or, rather, let’s not. I’ll simply segue from her starting to slip out of her clothes to the morning after. Y’know, the standard story cop-out. Thanks for letting me talk this one through.”

      1. Now picture your eldest grandchildren watching an Animaniacs cartoon, and looking at their weird grandfather laughing asslessly on the floor when the trio chanted “Boingy Boingy Boingy Boingy.” Hello, nurse!

        Nor can I hear Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini without grinning profusely.

    1. My friend read a lot of fantasy …Conan the Barbarian type stories, he always said the author always got around it by writing “and then they made love THE END”

    2. Thanks for bringing this up again. Every romance reader (and everyone else) should read this text at least thrice LOL

  15. Skins. Your laptop can look like anything, phones and ereaders too. Bit fiddly to put on but lasts, well my laptop is going on 12 years, no sign of peeling yet, just owls hanging out in a cafe tree with their stacks of books. I think you can even submit your own art. Peels off without leaving a mark too(previous laptop, and ereader)
    I used decalgirl.com but now there are many websites that sell them.

    I was glamping but now it’s dark and cold, we blew a fuse. Never occurred to me so no flash light.
    Be Prepared! maybe next time.

    1. I got a hard shell. Because I’m hard on computers. Ironically, it’s transparent so the dull gray still shows through, but now it has black lace on it, so I’m entertained now.

      1. Okay, I was knocked ajar by the response of “skins” to the throbbing manhood treatise. And now Jenny’s talking about black lace. I might have made the wrong turn getting to this blog….?

  16. I missed that one of your sex scenes was plagerized. And now I want to ask all sorts of nosy questions. I will try to refrain.

    Today is a good day. I was supposed to work this morning, but one of my supervisors got to make the call to close, bless her. This is the first snow this year I haven’t had to try to get to work in. So I am being lazy in bed and it’s lovely.

    My cat had a urinary tract infection, which was stressing me out (my brain likes to pick the least worrisome thing to obsess over constantly in a crisis) and I bought him three types of vitamin treatment options assuming he would refuse to eat at least two of them. He liked the first one we tried just fine and now seems much better.

    And finally we may have a diagnosis for my father in law, which feels like progress. Guillian Barre syndrome, which is treatable and survivable. The only downside is that it can sometimes be caused by a vaccination (this wasn’t, he had his booster almost 6 months ago) but my father has latched on to this as one more reason why he shouldn’t get vaccinated. Argh. But he wasn’t going to anyway. It’s just annoying.

    1. Glad to hear there’s hope for your father-in-law. I realize logic won’t help with your father, but Wikipedia suggests infection is much more likely to trigger it than vaccination.

      1. Thanks. And logic has so little to do with it. But yes, an infection is most likely. The hospital already checked on the vaccine angle and it would have been immediate or within a week to see symptoms.

    2. Secx scene plagiarism:
      It was the dock scene in WTT. Some woman copied it, changed Phin to a woman, and submitted to an anthology that was sold to benefit LGBTQ writers. It’s probably been twenty years now. Somebody told the editor/publisher, and she immediately reached out to SMP and said they’d pull the book. If it had been a novel, I’d have said yes, but it was anthology, lots of honest writers in there, and for a good cause. So I said no, keep selling it, get her advance back (which of course she hadn’t donated to the fundraiser) and give any money she would have gotten to the fundraiser. It was just bizarre, but I found it interesting that all she had to do was change the pronouns since there were no penises in that one.

      Your FIL: YAY!

      1. Lol. I will have to reread that scene and see how it plays in my head with lesbians. I just can’t picture it, but maybe that is because Phin is so darned masculine…

      2. The audacity of the woman. Though you could use this for an example when teaching writing. Also it is a mark of how well written your work is, when you can change the pronouns in a major scene and it still holds up

  17. First, I am jealous of the person who got to go to Total Wine and More. I live in Kansas where we only get little family-owned liquor stores. No chains. They are nice, but they aren’t Total Wine. I guess, it being Kansas, we are lucky to have any liquor stores. Also, I am weeping for the horrible helpless feelings that technology can rain down on us, willy nilly. I hate it, but I can still remember typing things that were wrong, and having no recourse to correct them, other than retyping the whole damn thing. Today I am breaking in a new hairdresser, again. My cute pixie cut has been growing since mid-December, and is now a blowzy shapeless mess. I am unwilling to pay $100 to have that corrected, so here I am, going to a woman who has a slight accent, and who assured me she would “take care of me”. I guess that is all I can ask. It’s been so long since anyone has offered to take care of me.

    Well, too personal. I really hope life settles down for all of us, and especially Jenny, because a new Crusie novel would just complete my life for awhile. And I absolutely LOVE those gutsy, indomitable Ukrainians. May Putin die of loneliness and a rotting brain fungus.

    1. This: “And I absolutely LOVE those gutsy, indomitable Ukrainians. May Putin die of loneliness and a rotting brain fungus.”

      Yes, yes, yes.

    2. I agree with Kate. Enduring rotting brain disease somewhere all alone is what Putin deserves. Or double the justice and make his good friend Trump his caregiver.

      1. And now I am picturing him in a nurse uniform with the hat with the red cross on it….

    3. LOL. “I guess, it being Kansas, we are lucky Tom have any liquor stores.” I raise my glass of wine to you – it being a nice Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.

  18. Microsoft 365 is a huge pain. The only reason I pursued it is because of my contacts section which has a lot of information. It probably took me most of the year to get it to work properly. Then it doesn’t want to talk to my printer. My son helped me with that part.

  19. Adjusting to ordinary life after an A++ vacation in Tanzania: where are the elephants, giraffes and lions? Whaddya mean I have to make my own meals? You call this dreck coffee? *sigh* But I’m having fun sorting through my photos, so there’s that.
    Colorado has bitter windchill temps and snow one day, 60s and sun the next. Typical spring weather, with snow likely through April, possibly May. Today is a sunny, 60 degree day, perfect for dog walks and horseback riding.

  20. I have been binge-watching Killing Eve while making my niece’s yo-you quilt. But I’ve been having not-so-nice dreams so perhaps I should stop. But I can’t because I’m fascinated by the two main character’s relationship. But oh my God, The things Villanelle does. Horrific and yet I’m spellbound by her.

    What all this says about me, I’m not sure. Nothing good. Or perhaps it’s a balance against my work persona which is kind and helpful except when annoyingly singing earworms.

    My youngest child turns 22 this week and I still have all four children’s STUFF stored in my house. I wouldn’t mind if they actually NEEDED any of it. Sigh.

    And why do I feel the need to have all these BLEEPING projects? Quilts, jackets, paintings, bridesmaid dresses, unfinished books? Why? I know people who don’t have any projects at all. They have clean houses and drink wine and watch TV when not at work. They don’t spend all their money on materials and save for vacations in the sun where they do nothing but lie around getting brown. And drinking.

    The problem is I don’t like hangovers.

    And I’m compelled to buy fabric and paint. Good lord, I could start a craft shop with the stuff I have squirreled away.

    Okay, so now I think I’m also losing my mind. Ranting away like this. I must go find food and wrap a birthday present and try to finish the jacket…

    It would be so good to finish just one thing.

    1. You know, I can’t figure out how people who don’t make things spend their time. I have a couch project, a bedside table project and a carry around in my purse project. Not to mention everything else in my space assigned just for the making of things…

      When I started art school a professor said, “look at the person on your left, and the one on your right. Five years from now only one of you will still be making art.” I know it’s true, but I don’t know how you can stop. My mental health takes a dip every time I get out of the habit of almost daily noodling around.

      1. Perhaps he had a narrow definition of making art; or was only counting doing it for work? I think most creatives will find ways to create – for example, he probably wouldn’t have counted gardening.

    2. I get twitchy if I don’t have something creative to do. I recently went through all my crafty stuff, cleared out a lot, sorted everything, and pulled out all my ongoing projects (some of which have been ongoing for many, many years). My mantra has been ‘fish or cut bait’ – either I’m still enthused about it and want to work on it, or it’s time to cut the project off my list and repurpose the materials if I can. And either way, I’ve sorted them so that I can get at them easily now and I have no excuse.

  21. I think my resting state these days is tense. Not sure how anyone can be relaxed with the state of the world.

    I read Susannah Nix’s My Cone and Only yesterday and came across this snippet. The main characters are in a used bookstore picking out books from unfamiliar genres for the other:

    “Speaking of forgotten favorites…

    “This one,” I said, plucking a dog-eared paperback of Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me off the shelf. “It’s one of my all-time favorites.”

    I had to agree.

    1. Oops… Cream and Punishment! (There’s an ice cream company at the center of the series.)

  22. I’ve been extra tense since yesterday when I realized that a feral cat I’d only seen once before has actually settled into my yard permanently, and is probably a she, and is probably pregnant, so now I need to trap her, see if she’s too far along for a spay abort (pretty sure the answer to that is yes, because the local vet won’t do them after about four weeks, and you can’t even tell they’re pregnant for the first four weeks), and if the kittens can’t be aborted, then I’ll be midwifing their birth and raising them in a crate with their feral mother in my laundry room, and then trying to find homes for them.

    It’s the right thing to do, and there’s a lot of fun in having kittens around, but it’s also a lot of work (and expense and stress) and my local shelter is terrible, so it’s not like I’ll get any support from them, except they will at least pay for the spay/neuter of the mom and kittens, so that’s something (although it’s not actually the shelter paying for it, but a private trust). They’re especially worthless when it comes to making feel like I’m a horrible hoarder (like I WANT to have pregnant cats show up in my yard) and then not helping me find homes for the kittens. The only way they’ll help is if I surrender them to the shelter, where they’ll immediately catch upper respiratory infections (or worse), which can kill them. The shelter won’t just take/review adoption applications and send people over to my house where the kittens can be safe. And they won’t pay for any of the non-spaying vet bills (which are substantial) if I don’t surrender them to live in the unhealthy shelter. I’ve had other issues with the shelter too, but insisting that the kittens be exposed to potentially fatal infections was the final straw for dealing with the place.

    So now I’m waiting for a trap to arrive (I swore I’d get my own if this happened again, so I don’t have to face the accusing questions when I ask to borrow one of the shelter’s traps), and to get an appointment for TNR-type spay/neuter (or two; the father cat seems to have settled in my yard too, but he’s less of an immediate emergency than a feral momcat). I was going to pay for that out of pocket too, through the state’s TNR program, but it’s indefinitely booked, probably due to a backlog from being closed during covid, so unless I want to pay $500 apiece for mom and the presumed kittens, I need to get the shelter’s coupon for the trust that pays for it through a local vet.

    It’ll be fine once everything’s done, but I just don’t have the energy for this right now. Although … guilt-free newborn kittens … squee!

    1. Don’t you have the equivalent of the RSPCA on the US? Wouldn’t they help? And force the shelter to improve its facilities?

      1. In the US just about everything is jurisdiction based. So a local shelter might be run by one authority Vs the other one that is two towns over. Some better than others and differing degrees of service.

        Similarly it’s a P.I.T.A when buying things from different USA regions because they don’t use V.A.T and the tax add ons at different state levels alone are annoying. “*United*” States my a$$. Lol.

        1. You’re right. Should have thought of that. (I loathe that none of the prices in the US are what you’ll actually have to pay.)

    2. Is the shelter a charity? in the UK we have the Charity Commission, a government body which you report to if your charity is not behaving lawfully.. I am sure the US must have a similar regulatory body. Registered charities have to follow regulations.

      1. It sounds more as if there are more animals than resources, and that this shelter could use a lot more community support in the form of fostering and TNR.

  23. Today is my first day of spring break! Woo-hoo! (Except I have a full time job, so functionally this just means I get my evenings and one of my weekend’s back.)

    My writing ego got a little bruised this week – I have an incredibly talented and experienced workshop teacher who has lots of a good ideas, but also is very steeped in the New York literary scene, so sometimes I feel like I have to run her advice through a filter in my head and sort it into “good advice no matter what I’m writing” and “good advice if I wanted to turn my funny romance novel into a poignant award winning literary masterpiece.” Like I know it’s good for me and will make me a better writer, but sort of in the way I know that having painful and embarrassing braces for three years was good for me.

    Anyway! Looking forward to having a week to read/write/watch whatever I feel like.

  24. Woke up at four am, couldn’t sleep, switched hot pillow for the cold pillow. Of course, I picked up my phone, discovered you had a new post. I fell back asleep with visions of little fish, little people, manhood, and a beautiful library magically opening doors on a holiday and the sound of rain. Slept badly on holiday. Body hurts. Tense back muscles. Massage appointment is two weeks away. Think my Thyroid is out of whack again. Blah.

  25. Jenny, is that the painting that has Icarus’s legs? I love it.

    A friend just sent me this: http://violinistssupportukraine.com I find it amazing.

    Went to a hibachi thingy last night with 5 friends (we were celebrating 2 birthdays) and had a terrific time. Walked over to a coffee bar/bakery afterwards. Like, it was okay to walk around town again. Wow! My friends were talking about handling the deaths of their first husbands. One gift was a copy of Yeats’ “Second Coming” which seems very timely.

    Life continues.

    1. Thanks for the violinist’s support clip. Brought tears to my eyes.
      One of our local high schools was re-purposed as shelter for refugees this last week. Schooling got back to online lessons. First the students weren’t happy, but then they came in the afternoons to help out and some with Ukrainian roots were sble to even act as interpreters. It’s good to see support /donations etc being collected. Instead of just having fear, it’s a (very small) small thing one can do.

  26. I’ll see your tense week and raise you a negative at home Covid test but a positive Flu A test that put me out of work and in bed for a week until today. And this after I’d had a flu shot in the fall so that annoyed the smack out of me.

    Today is the first day vertical, showered and teeth brushed but my basketball team lost today so I might just go back to bed.

    And we got 3 inches of snow in Nashville in March.

  27. For those of us who are fans of Pieter Bruegel the Elder I cannot recommend the art museum in Vienna enough. You walk into a room and are literally surrounded by his paintings. It was amazing. I was never very impressed by “The Conversion of Saint Paul” when I saw it in illustrations. In actuality it is really big and there is this large figure in the immediate right foreground in bright yellow. I still cannot figure out how he managed to make the composition work with all that yellow anchoring the right side of the painting but it really is wonderful. Saint Paul is that tiny figure in the back ground falling on the ground in ecstasy.

    1. I’ve been wanting to go to Vienna for the art museum (and the sachertorte) ever since I did an art history course in my gap year (1975).

  28. Preface – war sucks, invasions are stupid, and all this land we’re fighting for/ attached to can’t be taken with us when we die.

    Russia Vs Ukraine is “white on white violence” and it’s bringing out all the racial microagressions because people are saying the quiet part out loud. “Civilised” Lol.

    Yeah, it ain’t Palestinian, Sudan, Yemen, the Amazon Indigenous peoples etc so now my mind is memefying with “You’re shocked?! You’re shocked?!”

    From the outside (Africa) looking in, it’s funny seeing people show their whole a$$.

    I hope you get to make a purchase for pleasure soon Jenny.

    I’ve been silenced at work – told not to communicate certain things in certain ways (which were previously accepted) – and my body has reacted by making me lose my voice in fits and starts. Sometimes there’s nothing, sometimes I sound like Demi Moore, sometimes more gruff and sexy, sometimes I sound like pubescent boy’s voice change.

  29. It would be much easier if all the billionaires conducted their wars from the decks of their yachts and we could watch from shore, eating popcorn.

  30. I’ve got a couple of littles around who help me stay sane & keep perspective…but if you don’t and could use a “pep toc” from a little kid, I heard this great story on NPR…


    Basically, if you call 707-998-8410, kids’ voices will prompt you with a menu of options to help give you a boost:

    If you’re feeling mad, frustrated or nervous, press 1. If you need words of encouragement and life advice, press 2. If you need a pep talk from kindergartners, press 3. If you need to hear kids laughing with delight, press 4. For encouragement in Spanish, press 5.

  31. And today I learn that the Russians are trying to get food from the Chinese — specifically, MRE’s for the troops.

    Told my cousin that I feel a lot like Cordelia in SHARDS OF HONOR, “lambs.”

    Former kittens finally made it to the vet, were diagnosed “adorable,” which probably means they didn’t scratch, bite, or hiss. We couldn’t go in with them because we hadn’t brought our vaccination cards with us, so I added that information to the vet contact information for next time, though the rules may well have changed by then. Anyhow, they came home vaccinated and manicured with a good time had by all.

    And I published to FaceBook a picture of a Caesar salad with a dozen steak knives stuck in it.

  32. Sorry, one more.

    Putin has “sanctioned” a number of US officials, starting with President Biden. It includes a number of current administration people and also Hunter Biden, who is not in the government, and Hillary Clinton, but not Trump nor any Republican. Hmmm.

    Hillary Clinton has responded by thanking the “Russian Academy” for this “Lifetime Achievement Award.”

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