Monday, December 31, 2012

With A Bang

I don't remember how this started - we used to bang pots and pans to usher in the New Year. I sort of remember doing this as a kid. We also used to eat what we called "pick it" plates which was nothing more than an assortment of cheeses, summer sausage, and crackers. Sometimes we would have a giant sub sandwich, and other times we had fondue.

That was a long time ago so the details are fuzzy. I could be mixing up my traditions here.

Then I moved to the Left Coast, got married and inherited kids. We carried on some of the family holiday traditions - like making red and green cookies. They're ball-shaped cookies made of nothing more than butter, flour, sugar, and ground almonds rolled in either red or green sugar. I made it with my stepsons and I've made it with my grandson. I don't think any of the boys will carry on this tradition but now I have a granddaughter so I'm hoping the red and green cookies will continue with her someday.

For New Years Eve, I used to take the kids outside at nine pm and call my parents where it was midnight and we'd usher in the New Year by banging pots and pans over the phone line. This was probably highly annoying as I can imagine they would rather be sleeping. The kids thought it was great to be making all that noise and the neighbors didn't mind because it was only nine pm.

For years, the kids thought the New Year started at nine which was great because then we did go to bed.

My stepson tried banging pots and pans with his son last year but he was only three and it scared him a little. Thankfully, he didn't call me at midnight for the demonstration. I wonder if I'll be that lucky this year. What goes around comes around.

To my family members who are on the Right Coast - don't worry, I won't be calling you to bang pots and pans. Sleep easy and have sweet dreams of whatever your future holds. Good health, I hope, and prosperity if you're lucky. Love, and family to share it with.

May you have many blessings in 2013.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Friday, December 28, 2012


I plan to be ghostwriting greeting cards as my next career. I've been sending little love notes to a friend of mine on a monthly basis, always addressing her as Cupcake and always signing it as Your Secret Admirer with no return address. She knows it's me. Her husband knows it's me, too.

Still, he's jealous. She looks forward to my card every month and then she shows it to everyone she knows.

I won a package of cupcake greeting cards at a bingo game that she and I both attended. The game was actually called Dirty Bingo because sometimes you could win a prize and sometimes you could steal a prize from someone else. Somehow I ended up with this package of twelve gaudy cards that featured cupcakes, glitter, and lots of pink. Not my style by a long shot.

My friend wanted them but I wound up with them instead so I told her she could have them - one at a time. I told her I'd mail her one every month for a year and when another friend suggested the cards should be sent from a secret admirer the deal was on.

The messages aren't racy. They're just cute messages of desire and longing for a dessert, really, with themes that center on the events of the month - usually whatever holiday is presently occurring.

I told her husband that when the last card is gone, I could write new ones that are signed by him.

Cyrano de Bergerac meets Hallmark.

Anyone need a secret admirer?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Before the year gets completely away from me, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for stopping by. I really do appreciate it. The best part of writing - here or anywhere - is the reaction from readers. I'm just having a good time and I'm glad you are too. That's the whole idea.

Top props go to the Most Exclusive Blog (76003.1414) - the source of my most ardent supporters (three or four, maybe?) and much inspiration. I have a nice readership that connects with me through Facebook and that tickles me because many of these people I see on a regular basis and when I do we just pick up the conversation wherever it left off here.

I always pick up a lot of readers in December through Holidailies and it's fun to see a surge in readership! I love reading posts there too and have found new favorites. (I'll set up new links sometime early in the new  year and will try to stay in touch.)

Last, and by no means least, I would like to thank the people who drive BMWs with faulty batteries.

I wrote a post about six weeks ago entitled Come Again? that is my all time, highest grossing post - if clicks were money. As of today, 90 folks have stopped by to read this post which means there are a lot of BMWs with battery problems or I should think about changing the entire format of this blog to write about BMWs.

I don't know what I would say, exactly, about BMW but I could figure something out if that's what it takes. In the last 20 years, we've owned or leased nine. I know. That's crazy. We've had one 7 series, one 3, one X, one Z, and the rest were 5s. (Hubby's favorite was the 7. Mine is the Z which I've had over ten years.)

We've directly influenced the purchase of five more by family and friends. So, you'd think I'd have something to say.

Like, they're cute?

I'll work on it.

Maybe in my next novel my heroine should drive a BMW with a clock that loses time. When the service department tells her there's nothing wrong with her car (for which information she is charged an obscene amount of money) she can only conclude that she is traveling through time - five minutes at a time.

If that's what it takes to sell a book, so be it. I'll be sure to list Sport-Touring.Net in my Acknowledgements.

However you got here, thanks. I'll do my best to give you reasons to stop by again.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Santa's been here and, boy, did he leave a mess. I thought the presents would come wrapped. Maybe, because we're so far west, he just got tired and dropped off whatever was left at the bottom of the bag. I've got a heap of presents, paper, bows, and tape strewn all over my dining room table. I've got two plates of cookies - very nice - but there are dirty pots and pans throughout the kitchen. I thought they did all this at the North Pole!

Four hours until company arrives and I still have to put dinner together. I'd like to get a load of laundry started but there are boxes of decorations and wrapping paper stacked so high in the laundry room that I'd have to clean that up first before I could get anywhere near the washing machine.

The stockings are hung - with care, of course - but they still need to be filled. What happened? Are the elves on strike? Was there some dispute en route? Was my chimney not clean enough?

I just hope the reindeer didn't leave a mess on the roof because I don't have time for this.

Three-and-a-half hours left to get ready. Better get a move on.

Monday, December 24, 2012


Santa is Europe now and Mrs. Claus is enjoying a little peace and quiet.

Yesterday was busy, though. Rudolf spent most of the day throwing up in the barn. (He has a case of flight anxiety every year.) The sleigh received a new coat of paint and the mechanics had it in tip top condition. There were no problems with the sleigh's pre-flight checks but there were problems with the de-icer just before take off which created some last minute tension.

The PR elves are still at work dealing with allegations that some of the reindeer use performance enhancing drugs and TMZ is reporting that Prancer is openly gay. I thought everyone already knew most of the reindeer are gay but, still, it creates headlines and parents worry over what to tell the children.

Last night, I made Cincinnati Chili for Santa's Christmas Eve dinner. I was looking up something in my Joy of Cooking and was surprised to come across the recipe. Santa comes home every year telling me about regional delicacies from around the world. You would think he'd bring home leftovers, but there aren't any. Ever.

He told me they put chili on spaghetti there although I can't even imagine why someone would want to do that. He told me it was an odd combination of nasty and addictive. In truth, it's somewhere in the middle.

It's not "chili" either, in the traditional sense. Among it's ingredients are allspice, cloves, cinnamon, and chocolate. It's served in "ways":

1-Way = chili
2-Way = chili on spaghetti
3-Way = add grated cheddar
4-Way = top with chopped onions
5-Way = top all with cooked red kidney beans

I went all the way. Santa skipped the beans although if there was any night of the year for him to eat them, it was the night before he was going to be out of the house for 24 hours.

Most of the elves are napping in piles of bows and glitter and I have just under twelve hours to myself.

Mrs. Clause is going to slip into the tub for a while, have a glass of wine, and read Fifty Shades of Grey.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


1. Wash the red sweater I've been wearing the last four days.
2. Wear red sweater four more days.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And, Then? I Can't Wait. Really, I Can't.

Do you know someone who does this? A spouse, perhaps?

You hear "burble" and you respond, "What?" because you're not sure if you heard "gurgle" or "bubble" or "purple."

And then he - or, possibly, she - says, "Well, you have to understand that in 1930 the Russian-Franco accord was in effect and the socioeconomic structure that existed at the time was like this. And then, in the 40s...."

And all you wanted to know was, was it "gurgle" or "bubble" or "purple"?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


My favorite time of day is second thing in the morning because the first thing is getting out of bed. If I could do the second thing before the first thing, that would be okay with me.

My favorite time of day - after I've gotten out of bed and after I've made my coffee - is when I drink languorously of my coffee and read of a good book. As I have other things to do, this time is limited to the time it takes for me to drink my coffee so I make the biggest one I can and drink it as slowly as possible.

It's almost as good as being in bed. The only better thing would be to do this in bed but then nothing would ever get done.

The last good book I read was Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. I have a gift certificate for a new book burning a hole in my pocket (and now the power with which to redeem it) and there are so many choices. What shall I pick?

The good news is, with the power of shiny electronic things, I can complete this transaction entirely from bed. (I have a secret plan to move my office there. If I were a super villain  I would run my empire in flannel jammies from under a fluffy duvet. Doesn't quite seem menacing enough, does it?)

I look forward to a New Year of good reading. And if I can't do it in bed, can we discuss Hawaii?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Day of Adventure

I'm just glad it's over. It started well enough. I received an e-mail during the night that a present had arrived and was already under my tree. (There's an app for that with Santa notification settings.) I had received a gift certificate for an electronic book. This would have been great except we had lost power earlier that morning. No power, no e-book.

Also, no coffee.

I put on my walking gear and decided to hike to the nearest coffee shop which happens to be a Starbucks (since you're never more than a mile from one at any given moment). And, wouldn't you know, they didn't have power either.

Still, no coffee and no e-book.

So I got ready for work, foregoing washing my hair since I couldn't dry it. Wouldn't you know - power at work. So, I got coffee but then, you know, I had to work.

But not for long because I ditched work to see Flight of the Butterflies, IMAX 3D Documentary on the Monarch Butterfly and then I got dropped off at the Amtrak station to catch a train to Portland.

I was informed there had been a mudslide so there were no trains to Portland. Luckily, I remembered there was a Bolt Bus leaving for Portland at 2. I had a half an hour to figure out where it was and how to get on it.

The ride was - shall we say - interesting. Within two blocks from our departure a woman in her mid-fifties was at the front of the bus complaining to the bus driver that the restroom was out of hand sanitizer. She seemed quite upset. As we were in downtown city traffic, the driver could do nothing other than direct her to  an overhead bin where some additional sanitizer might be found.

It wasn't there. The woman was becoming agitated. Worried, she went back to her seat and, apparently, called customer service at Bolt Bus to complain about it.

I was two rows behind the driver so I heard him when someone at Bolt Bus called the driver and asked him to pull over somewhere so she could wash her hands.

This is a non-stop express bus between Seattle and Portland. Expected travel time -  with no stops - is about three hours.

The bus pulled over but the woman didn't get off. People in the back of the bus had no idea why we had stopped so they started calling Customer Service.

The bus continued on for several miles and the bus driver continued to make and receive phone calls as snow began to fall. I watched him peer over his glasses in order to see the keypad to dial his phone. It was unnerving.

The bus driver was advised to make an announcement on the intercom so that people in the back of the bus would know why we had stopped. Meanwhile everyone in the front of the bus already knew and were quite angry with the woman for causing the bus to make a stop. They started teasing her. One woman got in an argument with her. All the while, I could hear the driver talking on the phone or to front row passengers saying that the woman was maybe not all there.

I started feeling sorry for the woman. Tensions were running high.

Concerned passengers gathered what they had to accommodate the woman. One passenger had bottled water. Another had soap. They offered it to the woman who took the items and as she went to the restroom to use them, passengers cheered and called themselves Team Bolt!

The driver continued to bad talk the woman. For miles and miles.

Finally, the entire episode ended and the driver and one passenger proceeded to exchange their entire life stories. I was so thankful to have my iPod so I could tune it all out.

When I got to Portland traffic was bad so I stayed downtown for dinner. That was nice. But when I got home I found the light bulb for my little porcelain Christmas tree had burned out.

A perfect final ending to a perfectly strange day.

I think I'll stick with Amtrak.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mrs. Santa's Meltdown

It happens every year. Mrs. Santa gets to feeling grouchy because she feels like she's the only one doing any work. Santa is just sitting in his easy chair watching the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl of all things. Good Christ - what is it with the names for college bowl games? Little Ceasers Pizza Bowl? Really? If we're going to name football games after food products maybe we should name them after things that actually go in bowls. Like cereal, soup, or Chocolate Chip Mint.

Where does he think all those cookies come from? Hmmm? Mrs. Santa, that's who.

Who cleans up after all those freaking elves? They shed glitter dandruff for chrissakes.

And the reindeer? You really don't want to know the details. It's not pretty. Especially if they don't get their organic carrots. Picky eaters, they are.

Who do you think picks up the red suit at the dry cleaners? I'll give you one guess.

And who do you think keeps the lights on?? It's not the fat man over there I can tell you that. He gives all his shit away!

Mrs. Claus has a cottage industry of her own. Actually, it's a multinational corporation that manufactures and sells cute little hats shaped like Christmas trees, teeny tiny Christmas clothes, "First Christmas" ornaments, silver rattles, and the like for newbie grandparents. They're suckers for that kind of thing and Mrs. Claus cleans up every year.

Does anyone every thank Mrs. Claus? No, Santa gets all the credit.

And that's why she gets grouchy.

That's also why she's also on her second glass of wine.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

That Was Close

An organic food delivery strike has ended, averting potential disaster and ruin.

I pause here for a moment to wonder whether it was the food that was organic, or the strike. Or, perhaps the food delivery. I know what organic food is but what would constitute an in/organic strike or in/organic food delivery? It's the organic-ness of food delivery that worries me because there's no way we could agree on what makes a strike organic or not. I'm from Chicago where strikes are necessarily both organic and inorganic by definition.

Inorganic food delivery, on the other hand, makes me think of the high school lunch lady. I'm sure she was very nice, but a foodie she never was, and I'm not sure I would want to know all the details of what went on in her kitchen. Remember, kids, that was back in the day when teachers and other school staff could smoke. Indoors.

I shake my head now to clear my thoughts and concentrate on the issue at hand - the delivery of organic food because I imagine this is what the reindeer eat.

Not Santa. He's a little on the heavy side. I wonder what nationality he claims.... Again, I'm distracted. No matter, if he was American then we could say "heavy" but anywhere else he might be considered morbidly obese. You don't think he got that way on organic food, do you? Cheetos, more like it.

Mmm, Cheetos. Can't say as I truly blame him.

On the Big Night he's probably a holy terror in every drive-through across the globe. Can you imagine? "Could I get a  Big Mac and a sack of carrots, to go?"

But the reindeer are trim and fit, and raring to go. Muscular, agile. They don't eat Cheetos or Big Macs. And don't tell me organic food is the exactly the same as regular food. I don't believe it.

Besides, those reindeer are old. Vitamins, you think? Maybe, but I'll bet you the Reindeer Games have something to do with it.

Anyway, I'm just glad the strike is over so the reindeer can get what they need even if Santa has to eat his feelings. What's with that, by the way? The guy must get pretty depressed up there at the North Pole. Maybe he could take a lesson or two from the reindeer and get his jolly fat ass in gear.

But later. That's something he can do in January.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Santa's Hungry

That's my guess, anyway, based on what's usually under the tree. Here's a list of gifts from Christmases past:

Pasta maker
Kitchen Aid mixer with pasta attachments (Santa really likes pasta)
Two Le Creuset dutch ovens
Marble rolling pin
Cuisinart food processor
Electric citrus juicer
Cast iron panini pan

His favorite? Whichever one I happen to be using at the time. Most recently, the mixer and the Silpats while I was making cookies.

Some of them are gathering dust, sadly, like the rolling pin. It's sooo much easier to buy a pie crust than to make one. But I love my dutch ovens, Silpats, and mixer. It's a good thing that Santa brings me these things because I would never buy them for myself. I think they're too expensive but I do love to cook and eat good food so I would never think of returning them.

What's your favorite kitchen tool? Mine is a Hamilton Beach knife. I bought it in one of those discount kitchen stores for something like $10 but that's the knife I reach for whenever I'm cooking instead of one from my Chicago Cutlery set. It's lightweight and always sharp, and fits in my hand nicely. I have a paring knife that I like - don't know the brand but I bought it at Fred Myer. The blade is green and it cuts nicely.

It's a good thing Santa also got me a Food Saver.

I never know what to get Santa. He likes cookies (and pasta). But every year we agree not to buy anything for each other. We have everything we truly need. Yet every year, he sneaks something under the tree. I guess that's the advantage to having a staff of elves on hand.

I imagine he'd like me to buy some ridiculously priced underwear from Victoria's Secret. For myself, if you were wondering. It would certainly look better on me than on the elves. Or the reindeer. It just seems so - well, skimpy - for the North Pole, you know? Chilly.

Maybe something for the sleigh. Like GPS? Naw, I think Rudolf has that covered. CB radio? Air traffic control has that covered. Harmon Kardon speakers? I don't think so. It's hard enough to make a sneak landing on a rooftop without AC/DC blaring at 100 decibels.

Maybe a copy of Prep & Landing or A Charlie Brown Christmas to start building our holiday movie library. Yeah, that sounds good. Cuddle up on the couch, watch a movie and eat cookies. That sounds about right.

Right after he eats his broccoli.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


To tell you the truth, I don't feel like writing. I've been writing in my journal. That's good. But I've dropped my novel. That's not so good. I think after thirty days and nights of writing (and then some), all I wrote was the back story. There's a hole in the plot in the middle and I haven't reached the end yet either.

I have 63,700 words of ... meh.

Oh, well. I plan to get back to it. After....

...which may be as good as "never" if you read my post yesterday. Right now, my priorities are to walk every day. And I have some goals at work that I'm focused on right now.

I've  walked seven days in a row and it feels good. Last year - or maybe it was the year before - I walked every day for about 150 days in a row before I missed a day. I'd like to do that again - see how many days in a row I can go.

The work project is quantifiable and has an end point before my next big project which won't start in earnest until mid-February. Theoretically, that gives me January to work on the novel some more.

So in answer to my question yesterday, that's what I'll be writing in January.

What about you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What are we going to write about in January?

December provides easy fodder for writing. Family - I mean, just right there one can mine a plethora of - what should I call it? - stuff; the holidays (however you celebrate) and the frantic preparations therefor; the hopes and inevitable disappointments; and stress mixed with swirls of joy and lots of good food - if you're lucky. There's a lot to work with here.

And then January happens and we zip up. Why? There's nothing going on in January except cleaning up after December and New Years Resolutions. Because we've all made promises and we figure it's better to keep quiet lest we admit to our failure on those promises. You know it's going to happen. Have you ever kept a New Year's Resolution?

Here are the resolutions you keep: the ones without dates assigned to them. Case in point - if you say, "my diet starts Monday" and it's Friday when you make that promise you've also just scheduled three days of excuses before you've even started. If the goal includes by it's very creation the excuses to avoid it, whatever it is you think you've promised will never happen.

That's just how goals work. They're a little like babies - they will suck the very life out of you. Too strong? I don't know - the reality is, babies and goals - the ones you mean to keep - have to take unprecedented priority in your life or they'll just - well, die.

I'm just saying, why wait? Start today. Otherwise, you're setting yourself up for failure. Some goals die. Others fizzle out. But unless it's important enough to do something about it - today - well, good luck is all I can say.

And, if you're not ready to start today? Then wait to make that promise until you are.

Because, you can do anything. If you really want to.

Way to go, "Ted"

We can assume, based on the quotes, that "Ted" is not a real name. It's probably Theodore. Because, really, who would name their kid Ted, right? Or maybe it's something else entirely. Whoever this philanthropist is, way to go!
As added incentive to our fundraisers and thanks to our Platinum Sponsor "Ted", we'll be giving away a brand new iPad to the top 10 individual fundraisers.
No grumps here at the 2012 Boston Santa Speedo Run. Sorry I missed it.

h/t Ron's Log

Sunday, December 9, 2012


There's a reason it only happens once a year. Because it's exhausting, that's why, and there's not enough eggnog in the world that can numb oneself to the extremes we go to to make it all happen.

The recipe is this: take all the crazy you can dish out for an entire year, save it up in a box out in the garage, take it out sometime in December and then wonder WTF am I doing this for, again?

But a certain amount of crazy is necessary. Not just for the holiday season but to remind us of what it is to be human. Stressed out and strapped for cash? Maybe, but somewhere in the mad rush to every year's finish line we find little nuggets of - dare I say it? - hope. Love. Being connected to something or someone. Someone other than oneself.

Okay, that might be the eggnog talking. I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

The tree went up today and the house has been abuzz with activity of the merry kind. It must be said that I have the two most adorable grandchildren in the world. One is four, and the other is four months. And I'm in love with them both. The four-year-old helped decorate the tree and hang the stockings, he made our lunch sandwiches, he helped make the Christmas cookies, and he made juice in the juicer for our Christmas toast. And then he vacuumed the house.

Can I keep him?

It was controlled chaos all day long. Bottles, burping, diapers, spit up. Running through the house, using tape and scissors (not while running), cookie crumbs under the chairs, and jumping on the beds. Getting out the juicer, the Swiffer, the vacuum and half the toys. Ornaments, the nativity, and a Thomas the Train pop up tent all in one space. The tree might have been beautiful but I couldn't see it for the mess.

And then it was over. The house was quiet. The energy expended left a deficit in the reserve account. And somehow, magically, when everyone finally went home, the house wasn't a wreck. I don't know how it happened. A train wreck one moment, and all is calm the next.

It’s quite possible that elves really do exist. I hear they make shoes, too.

Today's word of the day is:


noun, used with a singular or plural verb  ) Southern U.S.
ill temper; colic; grumpiness. 
I may have shaken my case of the mulligrubs. At least for today - maybe for the rest of the year - because I got this:

Really, can I keep him? (It was a tree ornament.)

By the way, it didn't snow here as my coffee mugs predicted. Not yet anyway. AccuWeather is currently forecasting it for the 20th. We'll see.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

If It Snows Tonight, It's My Fault

It's going to snow, my Hubby said this morning. It doesn't snow much here in Seattle. Every once in a while but not often enough for people here to get any kind of sense of what to do when it does. Snow isn't just cold weather here. It's an event. We sell tickets for the show, too.

Minnesotans come by tour bus to watch the mayhem whenever the white stuff falls from the sky, just for the entertainment value. They sit out there in their t-shirts and lawn chairs, eating lutefisk, and lament the fact it isn't cold enough to ice fish. Meanwhile, we make a run on all the grocery stores to load up on enough non perishable goods for us to survive the wintry Armageddon.

It's been know to snow for more than twenty-four hours here. (Yes, hours. Not days.) And sometimes, that means we lose power. But usually, the snow comes and goes in just a few hours. Still, that's enough to close down all the schools and  the for the local TV stations to issue advisories for everyone to stay home until the following Summer.

We take it pretty seriously.

This morning I had coffee in my snowflake mug which generally lingers in the back of my coffee cup collection all year long. But the season is upon us and I'm starting to feel that jolly spirit so out it came today. And yesterday, I drank from my snowman mug. And then Hubby said, it's going to snow.

It's not supposed to get cold enough to snow tonight and it's not in the forecast.

But you might want to run to the store and stock up just in case.

Coffee mugs never lie.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Most Exclusive Ever

and For A Very Limited Time!

What could it be, you ask? What could be so coveted that a limited edition of only 5,000 of these items SOLD OUT in just one day?

What could it be that has stunning etched steel designs?

For the low, low price of $450 - what, oh, what could it be??

I don't even know where to start, I am so stunned myself. It is...

...a Starbucks card.

You already know how I feel about Starbucks. But, wouldn't you know, they sent me an e-mail yesterday saying I'd earned a free cup of coffee.

It's a love/hate thing.

But I'm not getting one of these:

(available at

For $450, these little babies come pre-loaded with $400 in credit and automatic Gold membership status. Which means, after you give them $50 for the card, you only have to buy twelve more cups of coffee to get a free one instead of the normal 42.

This must make sense to somebody because they're all gone.

Last year, I made the mistake of giving Santa a choice: I wanted a trip to Belize or coffee. What I got was coffee. Roughly six pounds of it. (And, I drank it all.)

This year, forget Belize. And, forget coffee.

If you feel so moved as to spend $450 at Starbucks, buy me stock.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Plink, Plink

red·neck hu·mid·i·fi·er

  [red-neck hyoo-mid-uh-fahy-er]

1.A device for increasing the amount of water vapor in the air of a room or building, consisting of a bucket to capture the water dripping through a leaking roof. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top Down, Not

To combat my recent bout of sloth - okay, it's more of an ongoing thing - I've been setting my alarm clock. It's a drastic measure but sooner or later - hopefully, later - I'm going to have to get into a real work routine*. For some reason that seemed perfectly logical last night I didn't set it. As a result, I slept until 7:45 this morning.

Work starts at 8:30 - although I usually don't skid in until 9 or 9:30. (See above.) I fought back with laziness: I didn't wash my hair and didn't apply makeup. Got to work more or less early (before 9) with pillow marks still on my face, eyes still puffy from sleep.

Had to temper my exuberance by blogging. It's about 9:30 now so we're more or less even.

But, in my excited state, I didn't notice that the sun was out until I was halfway to work. I've been so busy building an ark that I didnt' fully realize that there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was only 41 degrees but if I had been more caffeinated when I left the house, I would have taken my convertible to work and dropped the top.

I just checked - I'm wearing matching socks so at least I can say I'm conscious.

I better get to work because I'm taking the afternoon off for some planned goofing off. (Spa services. Totally necessary, imo.) I can probably work a nap into that scenario while I'm at it.

Good thing I slept in. It looks like it's going to be a busy day.

*For those of you new to ChoChiMi, my paying job is as an accountant. During tax season, my posts are short and grumpy. Correction, grumpier.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pass the Cheese, Please

red·neck cheese·plate

noun, plural red·neck cheese·plates  [-pleyts] 

1.Cheetos, Cheez-Its, and Cheez Whiz served as an hors d'oeuvre or appetizer. Sometimes includes Velveeta.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Do I Have To?

My lifestyle is largely pajama-based.
That's the funniest thing I've read all week. Can't get it out of my head. I long for my pajama-based life. And miss it.

I'm half-jammied right now. Makes sense, really. I have a pajama-based life about half the time so right now it's as if I'm in transition between the two.

See, the thing is, I work.

Ugh, I know, but somebody's got to do it. About half the time I can telecommute which is human-resource-speak for "work in my pajamas." In November, I get a big fat break when I can work in my pajamas the entire month.

Sweet jesus, it's heaven.

Oh, and I just got back from Hawaii. Nice.

Fast forward to today, the third of December, a Monday, and I'm back at work. Work, you say? Yes, of the nine-to-five variety. In an office of the no-pajamas variety. But I managed to get through to lunch with no problem and I tend to take lunch late in the day so that by the time I'm done it's nearly quitting time so - yippee - it's all downhill from there.

I got a lot done which is good but I was ready to leave at 5 straight up. But then a friend called.  She needs help sorting out her medicare coverage. God, I love her but I really thought I might read, write, set up the tree, anything but figure out medicare tonight. Sure, I said. Just send over what you have. I'll take a look.

I figured I'd pour myself a glass of wine when I got home and take a look at it. How bad could it be? But then I got home and found I forgot to turn on the dishwasher before I went to work. Wine, no glasses. Where are the straws?

Then, I remembered I had laundry, too. Started a load. Where the hell are those straws?

And it's been raining cats and dogs here lately. Don't ask me how much because I was in Hawaii but it was enough to spring a leak somewhere in the roof. Mental note, call roofer and buy straws.

Finally, I had a moment to sit down a write when, for some strange reason, I realized I didn't have my phone with me. Hunted it down and saw a missed call from my brother. Hurried to call him back because he's pretty elusive. If you miss him, it could be another six months before you catch him. Nice chat...

...during which my husband called. Twice. He's the sweetest guy on earth but I swear to god if he doesn't hear from me every 45 minutes he sort of panics. After the second call, I hung up with my brother, and chatted with my hubby who is out of town for a couple days. Which, by the way, is how I started my Monday - by taking him to the airport at O'Dark Thirty. And as he gave me a kiss goodbye this morning, he asked if I could swing by the car dealership to get new wiper blades.

I think of that moment now - such an innocent request at the time - as I take another swig from the bottle.

To heck with the straws.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Well, the tree didn't go up as planned. Of course, none if this is really planned. There's always tomorrow but with each tomorrow I get closer to What's the point? I made cookies, though. That counts, right? Butterscotch oatmeal. Santa's favorite.

I had to wear reading glasses to make them. Reading glasses! That's because the recipe is on the back of the butterscotch package along with twelve other recipes. But reading glasses? Mrs. Claus is getting older... (Not old. Older.)

In other culinary news, I noticed last night that my organic teeny tiny carrots had no nutrition information printed on the package. I mean, they look like carrots. And it says "carrots" on the front. But without the government's intervention, how do I really know they are carrots? Hm?

I was serving them as a side dish to my steak and potatoes and I wanted to know how much of the little devils made up a serving. I thought it was five - which I think is funny so I wanted to be sure and, lo, no info. The reason I think five mini carrots as a serving is funny is because a serving of Cheetos is about 34  pieces but, of course, who is going to count to 34 when you're eating Cheetos? Sorry, I think the serving ends when you reach the bottom of the bag.

I went to get the serving information off the Cheetos bag so I could accurately compare that to the serving size of the little carrots but I ate all the Cheetos and all I'm left with is this bag of miniature vegetables.

Hello? Did you hear that? That sound, boys and girls, was the timer on the oven for the last batch of cookies. Time to wrap this up and start making dinner. Mushroom risotto. The Chateauneuf-du-Pape is already open and breathing.

Besides, Santa's getting into the cookies. Better go defend the kitchen.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holy Crap! It’s December!

We started out the month by sleeping incredibly late. 9:30 - I think it was. But then we took it easy from there. Coffee, reading in our jammies.

We got serious after that. Put clothes on, even. Had to find a place that still served breakfast at 11 o’clock because we hadn’t been to the store yet and the cupboards were bare.

Then we went to Costco.

Have you ever been to Costco in December? I don’t recommend it. Not even just one day after November. I don’t recommend electronics stores either. It’s just asking for trouble.

You’ll get your exercise, though, walking from the extended off-site parking lot, dodging kids and the ever present cheerful person ringing that infernal bell.

That sounded grumpy.

Christmas doesn’t make me grumpy. It’s the period between Thanksgiving and December 25th that does. It’s the juxtaposition of the two holidays.

  • Thanksgiving - a holiday of giving thanks. Ostensibly, for the things we have.
  • Christmas - beginning the day after Thanksgiving, a month-long holiday of pursuing all the things we don’t have but desperately think we do.

Here’s a helpful diagram:

(If you can't see the helpful diagram, try this.)

Actually, Christmas begins before Thanksgiving. Around the end of October, I started greeting people with “Happy HalloThanksMas.” The holiday really starts with the two billion dollars* worth of candy we buy in late October. It’s not Santa that excites the kiddies. It’s the freakin’ two-month sugar high.

Oh, well. I try to get along. I put a tree up in our Portland apartment - the little ceramic one with Lite Brites all aglow, and we installed colored exterior floodlights at the Seattle house while it wasn’t raining. Went to the grocery store so now we have food.

I’ll make breakfast tomorrow and then I’ll dig out the plastic poinsettias. I’ll pop in the yule log DVD. Maybe hum a festive tune. If there’s wine involved, I’ll prop up the tree and plug it in.

The magic happens when the tree is decorated and the stockings are hung. Everything changes after that. And if that all gets done tomorrow, why - the Grinch might need someone else to haunt.

*We spend the same amount on Easter candy. It depends on who you ask - I tried to find a link for you - but we spend about the same on candy than federal elections in this country. And Christmas dwarfs them both by a factor of 10. Again, depending on who you ask. As you can see, the Grinch has not yet left me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Whew! Glad that's done!


And a day early, too. Glad to be done except now the story is really just starting to cook. I'll keep working on it but I have to pay some attention to my paid vocation somewhat in December, plus I like to distract myself with something called Holidailies. Then, of course, there are the Holidays with a capital H. But maybe I'll do things differently this year. The N&T story has some momentum and if I fart around too much I'll lose that. On the other hand, if I take it a little easier I might come up with something more fun.

Anyway, I'm not going to do anything write now. Right now, I'm going to go knit something. Sit on the couch. Watch football, even.

Word of the Day


  [sahr-kof-uh-guh s]  Show IPA
noun, plural sar·coph·a·gi  [-jahy]  Show IPA ,sar·coph·a·gus·es.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Word of the Day


 fuh-NEYG  , verb;
To shirk; evade work ....

Where in the World?

Since you asked, we are at N20.66 W156.45 (For reference, home is N47.56 W122.25.) We are north of the equator and not too far from the international date line which means if we traveled west from here it, we would find ourselves somewhere in tomorrow land.

This is an interesting time zone map. You can see that in the Western Hemisphere the times zones run parallel to one another for the most part. But not always - we are due south of Alaska but in a different time zone. Hawaii doesn't participate in Daylight Savings Time so sometimes the time difference between Hawaii and Alaska is one hour, sometimes two. Sometimes two hours between here and Seattle, sometimes three.

But look at the Eastern Hemisphere. Time zones are all jumbled up. You can change times zones moving north or south as easily as east or west. Traveling to Tehran to India would require you to change both hands on your watch, the big one by thirty minutes. In Nepal, you'd have to move Micky's big arm another fifteen minutes one way or the other, depending on where you traveled from. And, forget about wearing a watch in Australia. You'll never figure out what time it is there. Just ask someone, if you need to know.

I'm not in Australia but I took off my watch anyway. Much better for work avoidance*.

(*Truth in advertising disclosure: I'm still writing every day. Some days it feels like work. I have 42,000 words for the month of November and I'm eagerly looking forward to the end of NaNoWriMo. Total word count is 55,555 and I'm just hoping there's a story in there somewhere worth reading. Time will tell. The question is, what time zone will I be in then?)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Yeah, I'm Here

BMW ended up replacing a sensor but a week later I was still time traveling so I went back (to BMW, not in time). By now I had staked out an area in the showroom as my office so I plugged in and got to work while they charged me another $120 to make another diagnosis.

Result? New battery.


I've passed the 30,000 word mark in my insane attempt to write 50,000 in the month of November. This puts my total word count (since mid-October) over 44,000 which will deliver me to the mid-point of the novel sometime today.

Which means somebody has to die.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Come Again?

Feeling cranky today. It's beautiful outside and I'm inside, stuck at Portland BMW while they charge me $120 to figure out what's wrong with my car. I know what's wrong with my car - the clock is losing time. Hubby has offered two possible reasons for this:

One- I'm traveling backwards in time five minutes. This could come in handy if I get into an accident or miss my turn. Or,

Two- I need a new battery.

This is my second visit to BMW for the same issue. Last time, they said the battery was fine but I needed a new sensor of some sort. Fine, give me the new sensor, I said. But here I am again so we're back to time travel or I need a new battery.

Everything else is working fine and I'm not getting any other messages from my car - like an idiot light that says "Time to Change Your Battery, Idiot" which makes the time travel option the most likely culprit at this point in time.

The good news is the coffee is free here. The bad news is I've had two cups already and I'm getting slightly agitated which isn't good because I was probably a little agitated when I got here already.

In other news, I've written over 21,000 words for Nanowrimo for a total of 34,600 words in my latest Now & Then novel. But it's hard, I'm bored, I'd rather do something else, I want to quit, this is hard (did I mention that?), whine, whine, WHINE! Oh, and I have a life that's starting to get mad at me for neglecting it and I just want to take a day off but then I'll fall behind - and we're back to whining.

Maybe I need a sanity break. Can I just go back to bed now?

Friday, November 9, 2012


During tax season, I'll write anything to avoid work.

During writing season, I'll go out of my way to do tax research.

Avoidance is a tricky thing to master.

Maybe if I go back to bed, I can avoid it all.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Today's Moral Dilemma

An accountant walks into a Starbucks....

Before you get all excited, I went there for "a friend." Okay? It wasn't for me. But I did by myself a sandwich  and, in doing so, I also depleted the remaining balance on my rewards card so that's done.

But, here's my dilemma: Does "buying local" rule out a massive coffee conglomerate if the massive coffee conglomerate is located in my hometown employing thousands of people and buys from local vendors? I'm not sure about how much they buy from local vendors but I made sure to read the label on my sandwich and it was made right here, in Seattle.

So, now what?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lost in Chapter Eleven

“Thirsty Coventry, from Channel 7 news outside Now Investigations Headquarters,” she spoke to the camera, “speaking with Wynott Now.” She turned to address Wynott, stepping between him and Tsosumi. “Mr. Now, I understand you’ve been privately contracted to locate Hy and Flo D’Way who have been missing for several days now. Can you tell me how your investigation is going and what leads you are following up on?” She asked, thrusting her microphone in Wynott’s face.

“Actually, we haven’t really...”

“The investigation is going extremely well, Thirsty, although we aren’t at liberty to discuss details. As you clearly noted, the contract to find D’Ways is private.”

“And, you are?” Thirsty turned to Tsosumi.

“I’m Wynottt’s best ... I’m Mr. Now’s best ... assistant. He has several.”

“Any suspects in the case, Miss...?”

“Margeaux Away. No suspects as of yet but we do have one person of interest: Kandy Barr, who works as a stripper at Candy Stripers. We do think Ms. Barr warrants more attention in the matter.”

“Do you think we will see Kandy Barr behind bars?”

“It’s too early to tell but  she could be excommunicated - barred for life.”

“Mr. Now, any more information you can give us?” Thirsty was excited to have the scoop on the other news stations and wanted to milk it for all it was worth.

“I’m sorry, I don’t I have much to add to that.”

Tsosumi gave him a look that said, “Say anything.”

“Frankly, Kandy Barr melted under interrogation but any further information must be kept under wraps at this time.”

“There you have it straight from Now Investigations World Headquarters. Thank you Mr. Now and Miss Away. This is Thirsty Coventry for Channel 7 News where news travels fast.” She held her gaze into the camera until the cameraman signaled he had finished recording the segment.

“What was all that?” Wynott asked as they entered the office.

“Don’t worry, it’ll never make it on the air.”

“How do you know?”

“She had some spinach stuck between her teeth.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Somewhere in Chapter Ten

Justin, Wynott, and Tsosumi stayed to witness the sudden mayhem as reporters rushed in, clamoring to get a statement from anyone who was willing to talk into a microphone.

“...of course The Water Works seeks to safeguard the quality of water for all persons within economic stability models that have been meticulously reviewed by various experts in the field of...”

“ would be premature to enter into any negotiations about the location of a new factory, not to mention insensitive to the heirs who understandably...”

“...most available water is unusable due to salt content or contaminants so the issue of paramount importance is to safely store and transport safe water which can take any number of forms....”


Somewhere in Chapter Nine

“Okay, how about this? Potato chips have a bad rap as junk food.”

“That’s because they are.”

“I keep telling you. It’s not about reality. It’s about perception. They already try to get you to think it’s a healthy product by listing all the things that’s not in them - no MSG, no trans fat, no preservatives, et cetera - and all the things that could be potentially be good such as natural oils....”

“I notice you haven’t mentioned actual potatoes yet.”

“Exactly. I’m thinking about contacting the snack division of Condiment Conglomerate and pitching an idea for a new marketing strategy and it’s simple. Add ‘Made With Real Food Ingredients’ to the package. It’s vague but it implies there are potatoes in there. More importantly, it suggests their competitors don’t use potatoes or that their potatoes aren’t real. That suggestion alone is all you need for a competitive edge.”

“Why not add ‘Does Not Include Arsenic’ and suggest that it could be a cure for cancer?”

“Because, they probably do contain arsenic.”

Friday, November 2, 2012

Blew It!

It's a top down day and I didn't drive the top down car! Haven't seen the sun today. But haven't seen rain either. And, that counts.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jasper Fforde & Nancy Pearl

This is the link for the audio of the interview I attended on October 15. It's about an hour long so pop some popcorn first. Plus, if you're trying to avoid anything, this'll do it. (I don't know if you'll avoid any storms with it, though.)

The volume starts out real low at the beginning but it gets better after the introductions are over.

Jasper Fforde & Nancy Pearl

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

From Fallen

Fantasy Land

I think it would be fun* to write a fictional blog. This one is mostly true although I do embellish for comic effect. My first "novel" (Nanowrimo project of 2010) concerned a woman who blogged but the character didn't actually blog. I mean, in real cyberspace, if that isn't an oxymoron.

What if I created a fictional blog by a fictional person? It could be great fun to invent all kinds of bizarre occurrences, like a global boycott against Starbucks. Who would ever be dumb enough to think they could take on Starbucks? I would have to name it FICTIONAL BLOG or something in case this blogger gets involved in something illegal. I wouldn't want to ruin the fantasy by interjecting a lot of reality and disclaimers but I don't want the FBI knocking down my door either.

I already have enough on my writing plate for the next couple months so I'm not sure I'll  launch into this write away. On the other hand, it could be a fun companion piece to Now & Then if the blog is written by Tsosumi and it tracks with the story. It could be a way to get juices flowing and allow me to get in her head a little more.

Or it could be a great big time suck which I have no problems finding enough of (or creating  for myself).

Anyway, just something I'm thinking about for fun.

*Okay, my idea of fun might be different than yours.


It's been a week since my last confession. So far, I have nothing to confess. 

Yesterday, I had a latte at Costco. You don't need a rewards card to have a coffee at Costco because it only costs a dollar in the first place. It wasn't the best latte I've ever had but it wasn't the worst either so there's progress right there. And, just so you know, the Costco was across the street from a Starbucks. So there.

Also, it is Nanowrimo eve eve and I'm starting to feel a little panicked about writing 50,000 words in 30 days and getting something I like out of the mess that is likely to result from it. (I was referring to my writing rather than my psyche and family relationships.) What I write before November 1st doesn't count for Nanowrimo but it certainly counts as far as getting a completed project. (I'm shooting for 80-90,000 words so some will necessarily be written before and after Nanowrimo.) 

Anyway, I thought I would post my progress here. I published last year's Now & Then adventure as a serial which was great fun. I had a blast writing it and I loved getting the instant feedback. This year's writing feels rather isolated by comparison. It's hard to know if I'm on the write track if no one's reading it. (Like a falling tree in a forest, if there are no readers am I really writing?)

There's nothing in my progress report as of yet. I've only created the page and the link to share here. I'll get it filled out later today. What I intend to put there is chapter recaps and word counts as I go along. It'll help me keep track of where I am in the story as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012


I mentioned earlier that I fell off the Global Boycott wagon. This was Wednesday and I was getting my hair cut in a salon that is located next to a Starbucks. My thoughts, at that point, were altruistic. I still had a few bucks left on my reward card and rather than let Starbucks keep my money, I was going to spend it all and close the account.

But then - and anytime I start a sentence with "but then" you should be alerted to the fact that things went awry from that point forward - I logged on to their website to check my balance. Exactly, how much was on my card?

Who cares? should have been my self-reply.

But I looked, and I became distracted. Argh - those bleeding stars! I only needed to purchase three more drinks (thus earning three more stars) to get a free drink (the only remaining benefit of the rewards program, assuming I maintain Gold status which requires 30 cups of coffee per year). Hell, I was about to buy one - what's two more?

And so, I put another five dollars on the card, got a coffee, and am one star closer to a free drink. But, I still have a remaining balance. I'm not sure I accomplished much. Not only that, I sacrificed my already shaky moral principals for a double tall soy latte.

Yes. I feel guilty. But I have a plan. Two actually. The first is to buy stock in Starbucks thus creating my own rewards program. So, if I give Starbucks $500 (which is roughly the equivalent of 110 double tall soy lattes), I could earn enough in dividends for a free cup of coffee.

The other strategy is to sign up all my family and friends for a Starbucks card. Even without Gold status, registered cardholders get a free drink on their birthdays and I don't think they have to buy a single cup of coffee for that reward.

And, if I employ both strategies, I'd get more free coffee than if they continued to reward me as a loyal customer in the first place.

No, I'm not bitter.

And, I guess I'm not feeling all that guilty either.

The bottom line is the Global Boycott continues to struggle. This time I fell off the wagon after a week. But, that was six days longer than the last time, so I'll consider that progress. And then - note the difference between "and then" and "but then" - there's this:
It is disheartening that calls for boycotts of Starbucks stores and products, which are based on blatant untruths, have had direct impacts on local economies and residents....
Starbucks: Myths and Facts
However I proceed at this point may be of no consequence. I have them right where I want them.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Circleville, Ohio

I know that got your attention. And, why wouldn't it? Circleville is the known center of the universe.

I fell off the global boycott wagon yesterday and I was going to tell you about that today (and maybe I'll get around to that later) but then I spotted this: The Official Circleville Pumpkin Show. Now let me just point out, this is not just some pumpkin patch in the middle of nowhere. This is a pumpkin show with parades (plural) and princesses: Miss Pumpkin and Little Miss Pumpkin. There is a Schedule of Events which includes the Southern Ohio Giant Growers Association weigh-off (and let me just point out there really is an association of giant pumpkin growers in southern Ohio which, from pictures, appears to be an association of growers growing giant pumpkins, not of giant growers), lectures and demonstrations, music, the Roundtown Ringers Chime Choir (yes, a bell choir), contests, and even karaoke. This is not just a show, my friends. This is a festival of epic proportions. Giant, even.

But here's the best part. I learned of this event on Facebook.

Much like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, and according to my grandfather, the average person is only a few acquaintance links apart from Circleville, Ohio. On Facebook, my friend, Paulette, posted that she had taken her son to a pumpkin patch and her friend, Eric, posted - from Circleville! - the link to the Official Circlevile Pumpkin Show. Boom! Two acquaintance links and we're there!

It does not get better than this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Now & Then

"I'm tired of having to say 'the other Vancouver' and 'the other Washington.'" 
This line was supplied by Galina who cut my hair today. She also told me to hurry up and finish  my book so she can read it. I'm working on it, Galina! Thanks for being a reader!

I think I'll attribute this line to H.T. Eaux who is a frustrated politician - frustrated because while he wields enormous power in the small pond of Vancouver*, he is unknown in larger political circles. But, if he could solve Vancouver's financial woes by charging more for water usage and, at the same time, attract new industry, he would not only be a local hero but he would have a platform for launching onto larger political stages.

This would make his wife, Jackie, very, very happy.

*I'm currently setting the stage in Vancouver rather than San Francisco (or SFOak/LA, as I renamed it). I think it's funnier. Not  to mention easier.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Satire Day

There's no doubt it's fall. My favorite time for taking pictures. And cooking lots of good food. David Sedaris is at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton tonight. I'd go if I could figure out how to get there in the next few hours.

Meanwhile I have first drafts of Chapters One and Two* of the next Now & Then adventure. Probably about 4,000 words. It's inconceivable that I could come up with 80-90,000 more. But that's what the organic chai tea lattes are for. Encouragement. And fuel. At $4.50 per cup, it'll cost me around $225 for the first draft. Might be worth it.

Thanks for supporting the global boycott, btw. Does this make it a movement, officially? And, if we link to each other, is that considered a circular reference?

*They're not posted anywhere at this time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Star Struck

From Drop Box

I didn't actually get to meet him but I did have a very good view of him. Nancy Pearl was selling her books there as well, but not her action figure which is a bummer. That would have made for a perfect evening!

(I don't mean to spoil The Woman Who Died A Lot but Nancy is in it. Very, very cool.)

As for The Last Dragonslayer, it was published in 2010! Before you wonder how it's possible you could have missed it, the book was only released in the United States earlier this month. In fact, on the same day as  The Woman Who Died A Lot. This book is the first of three which have already been written and published in the UK.

There were 200-300 attendees. (For tea drinkers, you can translate that to 250.) I wanted to get my book signed but it would have surely taken an hour to get through the line. I passed on the signature.

I'm glad I bought the book though. He made a comment about reading on paper versus e readers - essentially that reading on paper was more essentially "real." I would have looked silly just sitting there with my Kindle on my lap - everyone else had a book or two. (It's good to blend in.)

As for the interview, it was recorded but I can't find it on the internet yet. It was sponsored by University of Washington Book Store. Nancy broadcasts videos here (there's an interview with Mr. Fforde from 2005) but nothing from the 15th.

I'll keep looking. If I find the link for the audio, I'll let you know.