29 May 2008

Scrapbooking Service?

So Ms. Almost-Six has completed kindergarten and now I have all this Stuff piled up - cool little art projects, worksheets, report card, diploma! I'd like to do something with it besides let it take up space on my already-cluttered desk and collect dust.

Scrapbooks are an obvious solution. You'd think. But the very idea of scrapbooking makes me shudder.

Don't get me wrong - I think scrapbooks are neat. I think all the little doo-dads and stickers you can buy to decorate scrapbook pages are really nifty. I love the thought of organizing all the Stuff into something that resembles a Story.

But I know just what would happen if I bought all the nifty doo-dads.

They would take up space right next to all the Stuff on my already-cluttered desk and collect dust.

My wedding album is a perfect example: I've been married almost nine years and all the wedding album Stuff is still sitting in a plastic bag on an already-cluttered shelf and collecting dust.

So I won't go there. But I wish somebody would. Somebody other than me. Somebody I could send all my precious Stuff to who would cull it for the really awesome bits, decorate it with nifty doo-dads and send it back to me all finished and ready for foisting upon unsuspecting visitors.

Wouldn't that be cool?


27 May 2008

OMG! Hal Spacejock! FREE!

This is TOO COOL!!! Australian author Simon Haynes has made copies of the first book in his Hal Spacejock series available for download FREE!!! Yes, FREE!!!!

Get it here.

I've been waiting to read this book for ages, but it's really expensive if you're not in Australia, so it's been pouting away on my Amazon wish list. No longer!!

Off to read!


C'mon Y'all - Recycle Already

One of the things about Life South of the MD-L that drives the poor brain stark, raving mad is the fact that recycling is RARE. To put it nicely. They do it in Itty-Bitty City proper, but here in HSH, you are shit-outta-luck.

So, because we do what we can to not leave a totally gigantic footprint on the Earth, we used to drive a few miles down the road and across the county line and take our recycling to one of IBC's drop-off locations.

Until they closed it.

Well, they didn't close it. Not exactly. No, instead, they brought the dumpsters inside the six-foot-high, razor-wire-topped fence, so you could only drop off your recycling during 'normal business hours' - 8:30-4:30, Monday thru Friday - which is just so incredibly convenient if you have a job and kids and such like.

We didn't give up though. No, we've hung on to our recycling for the better part of 6 months thinking The Husband would load up the back of the mini-van and take it on his way to the job site one morning. Which he never did, so it was getting to the point where we were going to have to do something drastic (climb over the razor wire) or distasteful (toss it) or risk the demise of our garage.

And then my sister-in-law, Ms. Beautiful, came to the rescue! (I love her...)

She found this guy who comes and picks up your recycling in the back of his pickup and takes it wherever recycling needs to go for you. It's awesome. It's also 15 bucks a month. Which is kind of a lot. But we decided we didn't care. Since we currently have no other options, it's worth every penny.

But it ticks me off.

The town I grew up in picks recycling up with your trash. The town I lived in when I was in college had mandatory recycling - you had to buy special trash bags to have your trash picked up, but they'd take all the recycling you could carry to your curb for free. It was brilliant and as far as I know quite successful.

It just can't be that hard to make it work.

So I want to write a letter to the mayor of HSH and say: 'WTF, dude? What is the frikkin' problem? Why aren't we doing this?'

OK, I'll be much politer than that, but I want to know why and I want it changed, if at all possible.

And that made me wonder about the state of recycling elsewhere. Is it only here in The South that people don't seem to care about it?

What about you? Does your community recycle? If so, what's the procedure? Curbside? Drop-off sites? Private company? If not, do you know why not? Do you wish they did?

Stories, descriptions and suggestions on how to get HSH with the program all welcome!


21 May 2008

Thursday Thirteen #6

After yesterday's unexpected news that my sister-in-law is going to have twins, I sent her a little list of good things about having twins that she could focus on to try and diffuse some of the shell shock.

Then I decided it would make a great Thursday Thirteen - if I could come up 13 things...

I figured I'd probably have to resort to google to get all 13, but I managed to come up with all of these myself. Yay, me! :D

So here they are: 13 wonderful things about twins. And if you can think of others, by all means, please add to the list in the comments and I'll pass them on to my sister-in-law!

Thirteen Wonderful Things about Twins

1. These days, you find out WELL ahead of time, not on their birthday!

2. Two kids, one pregnancy. (And if your pregnancies are anything like mine (miserable), you know that's a wonderful thing.)

3. Two kids, one labor! Yahoo!

4. You get to open twice as many baby presents! Wheeee!

5. I couldn't find anything on their website, but I’m pretty sure La Leche League either knights you or gives you a medal for breastfeeding twins. :D

6. You can SO justify hiring a nanny a few hours a week (and since my sister-in-law can afford it, I say: Why not!).

7. Twice the cuteness (...at least, once they start doing the cute stuff...heh...).

8. They always have a playmate (whether or not they always get along is another question entirely…).

9. Little kids in cute outfits - times two!

10. Twice the wear out of the cute little outfits!(Man, they outgrow them so fast.)

11. That first smile - times two!

12. Twice the sweet, slobbery kisses!

13. Twice as much of the best sound in the world – little kids laughing.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


20 May 2008

Double Vision. Comin' Up.

So my sister-in-law, Ms. Beautiful (no, really, she is), has a three-year-old and finally convinced her husband that if they were going to have another kid, they might as well do it now.

So they've been trying. A few weeks ago, Ms. Beautiful was in town on a visit from the Land of Palm Trees and Long, Sandy (Non-Rocky) Beaches otherwise known as L.A., where she lives. She talked lots about babies and then made the Big Announcement: they're pregnant!

And then she flew back to the Land of Palms and Beaches and emailed a couple of photos from her trip and everything was peachy.

Today, my mother-in-law called me and said, "Are you sitting down? If not, find a spot and sit."

"What? Why?" I croaked (I lost my voice over the weekend). The first thing that popped into my mind was that something awful had happened.

"Ms. Beautiful had her ultrasound today," she said.

I could hear some weird undertone in her voice that I couldn't quite identify. Amusement? Excitement? Fear? I couldn't quite tell. My heart started pounding.

"What!??" I demanded as best I could.

"She's having twins!" my mother-in-law crowed.

And then, I screeched myself even more hoarse than I already was. Shock, amazement, excitement, disbelief - you name it, I felt it.

I mean, twins run in that side of The Husband's family - mother-in-law's brothers are twins - so we all had it in the back of our minds that such a thing was possible, but... oh man, none of us were prepared for this. Yikes.

Should be quite the adventure.


18 May 2008

The Cherry Tree That Wasn't

Or: Bethanie Gets an F- in Woody Plant Identification

There are a lot of flowing shrubberies and trees south of the M-DL - I mean, a LOT. Many, many more than in Yankee-land, where I grew up. Consequently, I cannot identify many, many of the flowering lovelies.

And that is my excuse for what follows.

You see, we have this lovely cherry tree in our side yard that bloomed beautifully last year:

Aren't those blossoms gorgeous?!??

Simply stunning! Then we got a late frost, and the budding cherries ended up looking like itty-bitty burnt up marshmallows. They're the little black things in the photo on the left, which are hard to see, so on the right, is a photo of my pears, which suffered the same fate.

It was very sad. Heart-breaking, in fact. But this is not that story.

No, this is the story of this year, the year we did not get a late frost that killed everything. The year that everything bloomed beautifully. The year that Ms. Almost-Six came up to me and said, "Mama! Mama! Come look at the cherries!"

I rushed over to the cherry tree to find these - the biggest, damn cherries I've ever seen:

Then Ms. Almost-Six brought me two of them. Two. They filled her entire hand.

For scale, here she is climbing the um-maybe-this-isn't-a-cherry tree:

Indeed. I think them there are what some folks call 'plums'...


16 May 2008

The Iron as Power Tool

Or: What the HELL was he THINKING?!!??

Ms. Almost-Six graduates from kindergarten on Monday and her teacher sent home 4 graduation gowns for me to iron. My plan was to do the requested ironing yesterday afternoon, then drop off the gowns when I went to pick Ms. Almost-Six after school.

So I laid Ms. Baby down for her nap and went in search of my iron.

And I searched and I searched and I searched - even in the most unlikely of places, like the garage. I found no iron.

Certain I was losing my mind, I called The Husband. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Do you know where the iron is?

The Husband (cheerfully - he's always happy to help): Yeah, it's in my van.

Me (flabbergasted almost to the point of speechlessness): In your
van... you mean, with you? On the job site?

TH: Yeah, I took it this morning. Why? Do you need it?
For the moment, the fact that, yes, I DID need it took a back seat to utter astonishment that he would need it. I mean, to my knowledge, he has never in the 10 years I've known him so much as touched the iron except to move it out of his way. Why the sudden interest in ironing? He's on a job site. Do the guys have wrinkles in their work gloves or something?

I was dumbfounded.

Me: ... took it... for what?

TH: Oh, we're installing countertops today. Do you need it?

Me (still dumbfounded): Countertops?

TH: Yeah. Do you need it?

Me: Countertops? What... Why... How does... Countertops?
He proceeded to explain, a slight edge to his voice because I still hadn't answered his question, that they were installing formica countertops. Apparently, such countertops come with an unfinished edge (just the plywood, ma'am). To finish the edge, strips of formica with a heat-activated adhesive backing are applied -- hence the need for the iron and its heat.

How typical. A man looks at an iron - and sees a power tool.

And that's fine, except that:

A) The one day this month that I needed the iron, it was gone.


B) When the iron came back, the bottom of it was scratched all the way to hell and back.

And the fact that the bottom of my iron was scratched would not have been a problem, except that I needed to use the stupid thing on the graduation gowns, which are made of flimsy, easily-snagged, satin-sheen fabric that shows EVERY imperfection - such as those caused by the rough edges of a scratched iron bottom - like a neon sign.

I'm sure nobody will notice but me, but still. If you want to use an iron as a power tool, get your own.


"Bearing Advisory"

From the manuscript on the top of the pile today:

A comparison with local female outpatients who visited community health centers for bearing advisory was performed as well.

I'm pretty sure this should be 'pre-natal consultation' or something of that nature.

But the mental picture...

Be on the lookout for low-flying pregnant women. Just in case.

Ya heard it here first...


15 May 2008

Thursday Thirteen #5

The subject of this TT comes to you courtesy of my 20th high school reunion, which I found out about yesterday, because an old friend found me on Facebook and sent me the info. It was kinda neat cruising the reunion website and seeing where people ended up, which naturally induced a bout of homesickness.

Consequently, I give you...

Thirteen Things I Miss About My Hometown
That Have Ended Up In My Fiction

1. Moe’s Italian Sandwiches. It’s the bread, I think. And the absense of lettuce. And the particular meat they use. Or all of the above. I dunno, but you haven’t lived until you’ve had a Moe’s. Fiction: One gets shared in Dragons - in Prescott Park, as a matter of fact (see #7 below).

2. The Brioche. A café, which isn’t actually called that anymore, but I can’t remember the current name… Anyway, it’s the café on the square where I spent half of high school, every morning of my college career before I caught the bus, and as much time as I can manage on visits home. Fiction: Bits of Dragons, One Night, Vampire Pie… ok, well, everybody shows up here at some point.

3. “Beaches”. In quotes because if you’re thinking of vast expanses of sand, you’re on the wrong one. I mean, yes, there are those kinds of beaches where I grew up, but I never went to them, because you had to pay to park usually, and my parents were too cheap to do that. So the beaches I went to had craggy shoulders of bedrock in between the sandy bits, more rocks than sand in most spots and, sometimes, just rocks. Fiction: A big, bloody fight scene in Vampire Pie takes place on one of those rockier-than-not “beaches”.

4. Graveyards. Really old ones. OK, old for America – yanno, early 1600s and such. Dunno why, but I just like ‘em. Fiction: There’s one in particular with a crypt down towards the water, that I like so much I made it Leo’s home in Vampire Pie.

5. The North Church. Right smack dab in the center of town, big white steeple, lit up at night and right across the street from the Brioche (see #2 above). Fiction: It gets a mention or three in Vampire Pie and will probably end up in Dragons by the time I'm done with it.

6. Walking. Everywhere. The house I grew up in was within walking distance of everything – schools, pools, beaches, mud flats, coffee, groceries, restaurants, bars (and home from bars…). You name it, you could walk there. Fiction: There’s quite a lot of walking in Vampire Pie, mostly 'cuz the undead aren’t allowed to drive.

7. Prescott Park. Local legend has it that the land that became Prescott Park was the red light district once upon a time. Then it got donated to the city, which bulldozed it, planted flower gardens, put in some fountains and declared it a wholesome place to bring the family. It’s awesome. Fiction: Like The Brioche (see #2 above), everybody shows up here.

8. Narrow Little Streets, Great Big Victorian Houses. There are areas of town where the streets are only one lane wide and the houses are butted right up against them (and each other). Some of the houses are huge and come complete with granite steps and a widow's walk. Fiction: One of my favorites is the basis for a vampire’s house in Vampire Pie.

9. The Salt Piles. No, really – great big piles of salt. Right on the edge of downtown and – hysterically – right across the street from the fancy-schmancy Sheraton hotel. Gigantic and decidedly un-scenic, the piles are there because that’s where some mineral company has their docks, and they got there first (i.e., before the Sheraton). Fiction: Ack! They’re not in my fiction! But I have a feeling they should be. And I miss them, so here they are, anyway.

10. Ice cream stands. Elsewhere in America, you have Baskin Robbins. In New England, we have seasonal, independent ice cream stands that compete with each other to give the most outrageous flavors and the most unmanageable amount of ice cream for the least amount of money. OK, you might pay 3 bucks, but you get a frikkin’ pint of ice cream perched on that sugar cone. Fiction: Hmmm, I don’t think this one is in any fiction yet either… how sacrilegious.

11. Seafood. Not stuff that was frozen 6 months ago and has been shipped halfway around the world and costs a bloody fortune. No, no, no. Stuff that’s so fresh it curls when you cook it and while it’s not as cheap as MickyD’s, it won’t break the bank either. Fiction: This shows up tangentially in Mutagens, because one of the walk-ons is a lobsterman.

12. The Friendly Toast. Best - and funkiest - breakfast anywhere on the planet (with the possible exception of Mike’s Breakfast in Kathmandu). Fiction: Scheduled to appear in Dragons and the sequel to Vampire Pie.

13. Cobblestone Sidewalks. Impossible to ride a 10-speed over, a menace to strollers and downright dangerous to joggers. But beautiful and homey in their own special way. Fiction: They get mentioned a lot.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


13 May 2008

Fond of Snape

Added a new link to Brain Food and I have to say it's there in large part because of the picture at the top of the page. Follow the link and check it out:

Fond of Snape

It's one of those 'pictures worth a thousand words', you know? And honestly, I don't know that given a thousand words, I could even do it justice. But it's one of those things, like certain songs, that trigger something in the brain and before I know it, events, worlds, whole people start whispering to me and wanting their story told.

I've also added the link because Fond of Snape is a kick-ass photographer and lives near Boston, the coolest city in America (if you ask me, which you didn't, but whatever), so her posts are sprinkled with the kind of snark and sarcasm that you just can't find anywhere else, plus she mentions places I've been to or lived in all the time.


I'm so homesick now.


12 May 2008


You'll recall my painful encounter with Pilates.


So, unwilling to hobble for days on end (again), I switched to "Stretch It", which is billed as "gentle yoga stetching" on the FPU health club website. And that first week it was - gentle, that is.


Today, we were upside down with our feet on the wall. It was sort of an L-shaped handstand.

Somehow, my definition of "gentle" is not really in the vicinity of "handstand".



Weekend Wind-down

Or: Monday Mornin' Braindump

Too many things clogging the brain. Must clean house...

1. Survivor Finale. Parvati?!?!!! What? We were so sure Amanda would win. Ms. Five is crushed. We are trying to console her with the fact that, although Amanda didn't win the million bucks, she did win Ozzy, and that's worth much, much more. (So far, though, Ms. Five is not buyin' it...)

Also, James. *sigh* I love James. What is it about James? He's so sweet, so polite, so humble - I mean, did you see the look on his face when they announced that he won the $100,000? Think he'd do a 3rd season??

2. Mother's Day. My Mother's Day was pretty good and started Saturday evening, because Ms. Five just couldn't wait to give me the cool stuff she made at school, which she 'hid' in my sock drawer. Yes, my sock drawer. I think some signals got crossed somewhere, and she was supposed to hid the stuff in her sock drawer, but whatever - I did as she asked and did not look at it until the appointed time when she brought it out to me.

I also got to sleep in, which I neeeever do, because that is The Husband's job on weekends. It was nice.

3. Mother's Day Lunch Out. We tried to take my mother-in-law out to lunch someplace nice. Tried.

And so did nine-hundred-thousand other people. At 3pm! Who goes to lunch at 3pm?? Everyone and their mother, apparently...

The wait at Olive Garden was an hour to an hour and fifteen. The wait at Red Lobster was probably longer (we don't know for sure - we saw the godawful line out the door and kept driving).

Anyway, we ended up at Steak-n-Shake, which was perfectly fine with me and perfectly fine with my mother-in-law, but about killed The Husband, because he had gotten all dressed up, which he likes to do, and Steak-n-Shake does not make the cut as 'someplace nice' in his book. Apparently, most of the nine-hundred-thousand other people taking their mothers out to lunch agreed with him, because the place was practially empty. Which was also perfectly fine - not only did we have our choice of seats, but we also got our food and our shakes and were done and ready to head home before most of the nine-hundred-thousand other people even got a table.

4. Presents! Ah, the perks of being a mommy! I got:

  • Red bath salts. In a plastic Ziploc baggie. Ms. Five them made at school all by herself by 'squishing up the color Mrs. J put in with the salt'. The color is red, because that's my favorite color, which Ms. Five remembered. She's so sweet!
  • Hand prints and a poem. From Ms. Baby. And no, she did not write the poem herself. But she did do the hand prints. In purple paint!!
  • Stilts. Well, OK, 3-inch heels. But they feel like stilts. Seriously, I haven't worn anything this teeter-y in years. It's very.... precarious...
  • Chocolate. Dark. Wicked dark. Valrhona plain 71% and Ghirardelli 60% with caramel and raspberry filling. Mmmmmmmm.....

Aaaaah! The brain feels better already...


11 May 2008

Review: Survive My Fire & The Fire Within, Joely Sue Burkhart

Introduction to Bethanie's Reviews

OK, finally. I’m getting around to posting this, the long-promised ‘reviews’ of Joely Sue Burkhart’s Survive My Fire and The Fire Within, which I decided to do together because they both take place in the same culture, so some of the things I want to yak about overlap (and I’m kind of lazy…).

But first, A Warning – I am probably not going to do this right. I’ve never ‘reviewed’ anything before and I really hesitate to use the word ‘review’ at all, since it carries heavy connotations that I think my opinion is somehow more important than anyone else’s, which I simply don’t.

My reviews will be more my thoughts on and reactions to stories I either read or watch (i.e., movies) and my attempt to process - mainly for my own benefit - the techniques and bits of craft that I most admired (or that didn’t seem to work for me). For that reason, it isn’t enough for me to say ‘I liked it’; I need to think about why. And so, my reviews are more a part of my own learning process than a proper ‘review’ in the traditional sense.

At the same time, I suppose I am recommending what I review as worth reading/viewing or not. But I'm not going to rate things on a scale of 1-to-10 or anything like that. Partly, this is because I'd probably end up rating an awful lot of thing a 50, which would be silly. But I also don't really believe a rating is all that meaningful, since how I rate something is purely subjective. In light of that, it just makes more sense to me to say what I thought, plain and simple. If I love something, I'll say that. If something isn't quite my cuppa tea, I'll say that.

So. Now that everyone is on the same Bethanie page...

Survive My Fire
Joely Sue Burkhart

The gist of the story is that a woman, who considers herself incapable of love, has been cursed to spend eternity as a dragon. She can only be saved from this fate by falling in love with a man who must kill her (and who has noble reasons for doing so) and who expects to die in the process. All the elements of a tragic love story, plus a good dose of fantasy – in other words, right up my alley.

Overall impression. I was pretty much blown away by every aspect of this story. It was beautifully written, tightly plotted, and focused on two memorable and well-developed characters. Just awesome. Go read it. Like, right now. :)

And now, a few specifics:

Characters. I really liked the way I came to intimately understand just what a monster the dragon-woman is and how she got that way. As the story develops, you gradually learn about her past, about what she did that got her cursed and you understand why she considers herself unable to love. But the really cool part was that not only did I understand it - I ended up feeling this with her, which was a very intense and unexpected surprise.

The male character is equally interesting and complicated and I found him to be ‘believably noble’, if that makes any sense. I guess this is because, in some stories I’ve read, when a character goes charging off to certain death, I tend to roll my eyes, since the character has done something stupid to get himself or herself into the situation in the first place. This guy, though, really has no other choice. His back is up against the wall, and he’s going down one way or the other - he just wants to make sure it counts when he does. And as a reader, I was there with him every step of the way, I was in his shoes and I was convinced that he was doing exactly what needed to be done.

Point of view. The was one of the coolest things about this story for me: Throughout, the narrative switches point of view from 1st to 3rd person depending on which character’s head we’re in (the dragon-woman is 1st, the male is 3rd). I’ve read about this technique, but have never read anything that actually used it.

It was really effective. I liked it a lot, in fact. Why? Well, for one thing, it was very clear when the POV changed, and as we all know, I am a huge fan of clarity, so that is certainly part of why this worked so well for me. But I also think the 1st person POV had a lot to do with how tightly I was drawn into the dragon-woman's head and why I ended up feeling so strongly what the character was feeling. That line between reader and character became thinner and thinner and thinner until I forgot it was supposed to be there at all. Which was awesome.

The Fire Within
Joely Sue Burkhart

Blown away. Again. It’s that simple.


Hookage. These are the first two lines of The Fire Within:

Blessed Lady above, let him kill me quickly.

Eleni refused to cower as her brother strode toward her, his darkened face twisted with rage beneath the simple gold circlet on his head.

If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will: right there – BAM! – with two sentences you are introduced to the heroine, her antagonist, and the main conflict in the story. Do you know how hard that is to write? It’s stinkin’ hard, people. I am in awe. More importantly, by the bottom of page 1, I was biting my lip in fear for Eleni’s life and from there, the story never lets up. Which is exactly the kind of story I love – out of the fire and into the frying pan. Fan-tab-ulous!

World building. Both The Fire Within and Survive My Fire are set in the desert culture of a land called Keldar, which at first made me go “Oh, yawn. How Dune.” I mean, once you’ve seen one desert culture, you’ve seen ‘em all, right?

Wrong. Oh, so completely wrong. Dune has got nothin’ on Keldar, nothin’.

In my opinion, if you've a fantasty writer, The Fire Within should be required reading as a lesson in world building because it is SO well done. I know how hard it is to world build without info dumping and ... well, there just isn't any info dumping in this story. None. Really. The culture is built up around you as the story progresses, bit by bit, detail by detail, custom by custom. And at any given moment there is just enough and not too much, so you don't get overwhelmed or bored by long explanations or confused by too many new things. Instead, you find yourself drawn deeper and deeper into the midst of a living, breathing culture, which is an art and takes a lot of skill to do so well. Really impressive stuff.

Not a word out of place. Normally, when I’m reading, I’m editing in my head as I read. I can’t help it. I edit stuff for a living; it’s an unfortunate occupational hazard. This did not happen in Survive My Fire or The Fire Within. At all. Bravo!

Originality. As I've already said, forget about Dune, this is a whole 'nuther thing. And no other aspect of these stories reminds me of anything else I've read, which is pretty damn cool. Finally, I LOVE the dragons and the author’s conception of them. I haven’t read anything quite like it and I'm not going to say anything more, because I don't want to spoil the coolness for those who have not read the stories yet. :D

So, have I convinced you? If so:

You can read more about Survive My Fire here and read more about The Fire Within here.

Or you can just go straight to Drollerie Press to buy the stories here.


07 May 2008

Thursday Thirteen #4

OK, I feel kinda weird about this, but I'm gonna post my TT early... on Wednesday, in fact. But only 'cuz a bunch of other people did too and I have time to go a-commenting NOW and probably won't tomorrow...



Thirteen Random Confessions

1. When my kids aren't in the car with me, I drive way too fast .

2. But it's OK, 'cuz I'm really driving a Rally car in the WRC. (Any guesses as to what team I drive for?)

3. I sometimes forget that I only have 6 gears... 5. 5 gears. I sometimes forget that I only have 5 gears. (I'm not being cute, I actually typed it just like that...sheesh.)

4. I inhaled.

5. But I didn't like it.

6. I hate shopping unless it's for books, fabric, yarn or shoes.

7. I hate wearing shoes.

8. Especially while driving.

9. I can back into a pull-in parking spot, but I can't parallel park.

10. I eat chocolate. Every. Single. Day.

11. I am a Certifiable Bitch if I don't.

12. I sing, but only when I'm alone in my car. (You can be thankful. It's OK.)

13. I'm on Facebook. But I don't really get it. Like, at all.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


05 May 2008

In A Pickle

So a year and a half ago, I brought Ms. Then-4-1/2-Now-Almost-Six to take the 'entrance exam' for the magnet school, which happens to be down the street from us. She passed, her name went into the fishbowl, and then her name got drawn out of the fishbowl.

Seventh. On the waiting list.

And so we sort of wrote off the whole magnet school thing, because I didn't go back and get her tested again, so she could end up on the waiting list again this year.

Only that's not the way it works.

She was still on the waiting list. And some very nice lady from the magnet school called me Thursday afternoon last week to tell me they have a spot open for first grade next year and do we want it?

Should be a simple one, right? We wanted her to go there, so we should just say, yeah, sure sign us up!

Only I'm pretty happy with her current school. She's pretty happy with her current school.

And now I'm not seeing the point of the uniforms and the accelerated this and that and the required sports playing.

And I'm feeling all awful about even considering taking her away from her friends and sticking her into a place where she doesn't know anybody, doesn't know the rules, doesn't even know where the damn bathrooms are.

And what the hell was I thinking anyway - it's not like there are any bad schools in HSH in the first place...

And we have to tell them yes or no by noon tomorrow.


The only thing worse than making hard decisions for yourself is having to make them for somebody else.


04 May 2008

Sentence of the Week

I'm editing Boss Lady's proposal backwards, paragraph by paragraph, in order to pay attention this time, 'cuz it's, like, the 18th time I've read it and I just can't seem to pay attention like I should anymore...


One of the funny things you notice when you do this is how NONE of the abbreviations are defined before you see them and so you end up with unintelligible gobble-de-gook like this:

Phase II will have 92% power to detect an HR=1.5 for DFS for a SNP with a MAF as low as 10% in the BCSS.

And yes, actually, you DO need a degree to know what the hell that means... or you need to have read the rest of the bloody thing 18 times in 4 days... whichever works for you...

And I'll stop procrastinating now and get back to work already.


03 May 2008

Friday Snippets #4

Ah! A Friday Snippet on a Saturday! Well, why not?

In case you missed them, the first snippet in this story is here, the second one is here and the third one is here.

Oh, and a warning: this one is a wee bit gory. Maybe not the best thing to read right after a snack...


Jonathan crept around the big white house, slow and silent like he was stalking an animal that would spook at the slightest noise. For all he knew, that’s just what the black-haired woman was.

Overgrown evergreen shrubs offered cover, though they slowed him down. A giant pine tree shaded the bushes out and they thinned near the back of the house, where there was a small parking lot. He could hear the flock of ravens, croaking, hissing, feet scrabbling on the cracked asphalt.

Just before he got to the corner of the house, a smell hit him. It stopped him in his tracks. It was bad. Really bad. Dense as the evergreens, sweet and cloying – something had died. Days ago.

A hand to his mouth and nose, he peeked around the corner. And nearly lost his breakfast. Or would have, if he’d had any.

A white-haired man lay in the middle of a crowd of birds. Dead, very clearly dead by the smell and the bloat of the body.

Forty or fifty ravens milled about on the ground. Here and there one would dart close to the body, then hop back. A couple were having arguments over something gooey trailing from an eye socket.

And right in the middle of the mass of cawing, croaking wings was the woman in black, her long dark hair touching the ground as she crouched over the body.

She had set down the two-liter of water she’d got at the market and was very carefully unbuttoning the dead man’s faded blue jeans. A big bird waddled close to her and hissed, then scooted out of reach. The woman made an odd hissing noise back. A raven at her side did the same, as if to back her up. The others ignored her after that and she turned back to the body.

Jonathan’s stomach lurched and he gritted his teeth. She started going through the pockets.

One was empty. The other produced a handful of change, which she tossed aside, startling some of the birds into the surrounding trees. Then she found something else which she kept – a ring. She slid it onto the middle finger of her right hand and regarded it for a second as if deciding whether or not to keep it. It looked like a wedding band.

Next she eased an abraded wallet out. She went through it, looking almost sad as she pulled a driver’s license out and gazed from the picture on it to the dead man and back again. She pulled out a wad of paper and rifled through it. It looked like a bunch of receipts, but she peered at several closely, frowned and then tucked them into her bag.

She rummaged in the bag for a moment. When her hand came out, it held a knife.

Jonathan had to bite his lip to keep from sucking in his breath too loud. Horrified and curious at the same time, he watched as she cut away the dead man’s t-shirt down the front and tore it off the body. She did the same with the jeans. When she was done, the dead man lay naked on his shredded clothing.

She paused and closed her eyes, the knife poised over the exposed chest. Jonathan held his breath, somehow hating Jack for being right. She took a deep breath, pushed the knife in and drew it down the length of the body.



02 May 2008


I have to say, one of things I don't like so much about Itty-Bitty City is that fact that it's right, smack-dab in the middle of Tornado Alley and seems to walk around with a frikkin' bulls-eye on its back.

The Emergency Alert sound on the TV, the tornado sirens and that freight-train sound you read about are Just Fucking Frightening in real life.


01 May 2008

Thursday Thirteen #3

Days like today, I rue my decision to major in a social science and a language, rather than a hard science... and let's just not mention my loathing of Latin because I thought it was "dead" and nobody spoke it anymore...

Thirteen Terms I Had To Look Up in Wikipedia Today (yes, just today)
Or That I Had To Google Because Wikipedia Failed Me

1. angiopoietin

2. Tie 2 receptor

3. genetic rescue

4. retinopathy

5. leiomyoma

6. tyrosine kinase

7. Ang 1

8. luciferase

9. adenoviral vectors

10. transfect

11. bicistronic

12. angiogenesis/lymphangiogenesis - which, being so similar, count as one, besides which, if I didn't count them as one, I wouldn't be able to include my favorite of all time:

13. syngeneic Balb/c mice (and actually, "syngeneic" was misspelled...)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

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