Category Archives: personal life stuff

A weird summer moment

This summer has seen some of the worst air I’ve experienced since my childhood in the South Willamette Valley. While it’s never approached the intensity of the worst  field burning days, both DH and I have been enduring with sinus and ear blockages. Supposedly the pollen and dust count isn’t that high, but that’s not what our bodies are telling us–and it’s allergic exposure, not illness. Faugh.

Then yesterday turned brooding along with baking. As the temps approached 100F, clouds drifted overhead. Everything went quiet. I expected a thunderstorm but it never happened. Things were just–quiet. Silent. Waiting. No birds. Nothing moving, except the bees in the sunflowers.

The mood held at dawn today. Then we started getting occasional drifts of cooler air. The mood changed. The finches, chickadees, and bushtits showed up at the feeders. Two small woodpeckers (hairy or downy, whichever is the smaller) drum away at the tallest mullein stalk. The ominous mood that’s been hanging over everything has passed, hopefully banishing the heat for a time.

With any good fortune, the run to Spocon combined with the predicted possibility of rain and cooler temps will clear things out enough to settle the allergies. At least one can hope.

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Furlough weekend

It’s not often that I get time to go out and about in late October/early November, which is sad. In my opinion that’s one of the nicest times to cruise through the east side of Oregon, but…don’t often get the time to do it.

Not so this year. We had November 1st off, DH found a Groupon for a Bend-area resort–so off we went this weekend for a belated birthday celebration.

Friday was stunningly gorgeous, in a late fall East Side way.IMG_9391

It didn’t start raining until early in the morning. We went cruising up toward Bachelor, but the snow got a bit intense. We retraced our tracks to the Swampy Lakes trailhead and went hiking in about 2-3 inches of snow, with 4 inch drifts.


We hiked nearly 4 miles. Combined with about 1 1/2 half miles on the Deschutes trail in the morning, we did pretty good.

Then, today, on our way back to Portland, we headed out through Mitchell and cut back through Condon and Wasco. Saw some nice stuff there, too.


We also discovered this cute little pioneer park.


Amphitheater and stage on both sides of the creek, a smaller stage facing the picnic area. Very cute.

We also saw the critters–wild turkeys in two places, including a flock of over 100; deer, elk, grouse, various raptors, and a bald eagle (at least one). A nice break was had by all.

And now time to push on to Orycon, Nanowrimo (though I’m continuing an existing work project), and other stuff. I’ve been poking at Scrivener and I have some project ideas incorporating pictures for ebook and CreateSpace chapbooks.

Contemplating it, anyway. Might not happen for a few months, but…had fun taking pictures for some of the projects.

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Of writing, household chores, study, horses, and summer heat

So I just did my word count metrics for June. I wrote approximately 16,000 words, all different short stories, some original, some revised. I did a rewrite to editorial request (still waiting on that), but most of the writing happened after school was out. About 4000 words were revisions, 12,000 words were on new works.

Not bad. It’s been a while. No wonder my brain started sulking on Friday and demanding some down time. That, plus…now I have to spend some quality time with notepads, easel pads, and probably other stuff to do some serious worldbuilding not just for the Netwalk Sequence but for the Kalosin Valley story. But before that can happen, I needed to spend time doing office sorting work. That’s a chore that is going to take most of the summer, but as of now, it’s a space that I can both write and study in. Good, because that’s what I’ll need.

As it is, Monday brings a need for serious self-discipline. Luckily, I’ve signed up for two distance classes so that will keep me centered. I’m also excited because both of these classes involve working with literacy and writing interventions, and they’re just the shot in the arm that I’ve needed to prepare for the fall. The pacing is such that if I plan to do a lot of the work while listening to music at various festivals, I should be able to do both writing and study while still having a life this summer. Not bad at all–especially considering that part of the plan is to get Netwalk: The Expanded Edition out by August at the latest, be ready to begin work on Netwalk’s Children in the fall, and meanwhile figure out just what the hell is supposed to happen with Bearing Witness (the Kalosin Valley story which I’ve been alluding to in various forms on Facebook writing summary days). I thought the Peter McLoughlin novel was going to come first in the Weird West procession, but um, no–more research and reading needs to happen. And maybe if I can find another excuse to sneak off to Paris…fat chance. Nonetheless, the Peter McLoughlin story is going to be not just alternate history Weird West, but it’s going to be taking a good hard look at race (god, I hatehatehate that word when talking about ethnic and cultural issues, it’s so stupidly 19th century, it’s not the human RACE, it’s the human SPECIES and if we could just think in those terms then skin color becomes more of a phenotype and cultural consideration that are just variants within a single species rather than OMG WE’RE SO DIFFERENT, especially in sf. If I read another contemporary SF writer who talks about the human race instead of the human species, I will scream. And throw things. And exercise the meltdown skills I’ve learned from middle school students. Ahem. I digress. That’s a rant.

TL:DR–I don’t like the word race. I prefer “species” when talking about people in contact with alien species, ‘kay? We’re all Homo sapiens here, let’s start acting like it.).

Anyway, Bearing Witness has transformed from a short story concept that popped into my head while thinking about the fate of the Kalapuya during the drive down the Willamette Valley for some event during the summer two years ago. Now it’s a freaking novel. Of course. Isn’t that the way it always works? I do think the story has merits, maybe not for a big novel but something on the smallish side. Then again, who knows what the heck the Russian and Chinese sorcerers are up to?  I still haven’t figured out if they’re working together or in opposition. Or what. I just know that I have 9000 words on the story so far and I’m just winding down the first act/arc and getting ready to launch the second act/arc. Conservative estimate–36,000 words for a novella, but that’s just a rough draft. There are enough subthreads so far that I could probably blow it up even more. However, it’s not an easy story and it’s exhibiting all the symptoms of a piece that may take a year or so to piece together. Could be fun–and I haven’t even brought Grandma Pruitt on stage yet. I think she’s going to be a real plot shaker. As it is, she’s got a rather tart voice. She probably will upstage her grandson Mad Jesse when she finally ambles in. She’s just that sort of nineteenth century Western settler.

And then there’s the classes. When I signed up, I thought it was a self-paced study like another online class I’d taken. Nope, staggered weekly responses. But I think I did recover and get on track (whew!). Both classes are looking at Regie Routman’s literacy program, one focused on reading, the other on writing. I read the first assignment for the reading class and I’m liking what I see so far.

A various combination of circumstances gave me more free time than anticipated this weekend, so I’ve been working on cleaning and sorting and organizing around the house. I pulled out all the horse blankets, washed Mocha’s current ones and figured out which ones I’m selling because they didn’t fit. We’ve had some good schooling time but not a lot because the farrier is overdue and she has a crack in the toe of her left fore.

And the heat–and heat pump. Our AC went out earlier this spring, during a previous hot spell, so we considered various replacement options. We ended up choosing a heat pump, simply because the resale value is higher than straight AC in PDX. This house is difficult to decide what to invest in because we just don’t know how long we’re staying in this particular spot…yet.

However, I’m liking it. It’s maintaining a 78 degree temperature in the house with much less effort than the AC did. We just had a day in the high 90s and the AC would have been running constantly and struggling to keep the temperature at 78. The heat pump hasn’t been struggling. I’m impressed.

Meanwhile, it’s getting late and time to crash. Early morning rising to work out, skim e-mail and take care of outdoor stuff, then hit the barn early before it gets too miserable. I gave Mocha a bath the other day and she was quite happy with it, to the point now that she tries to walk into the wash stall after every ride.

Summer. And the festival season is about to begin….

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First day of summer

Typical Portland June summer morning started with overcast sky, followed by sun eventually as the clouds burned off. I’ve been pushing pretty hard on the conditioning and am now feeling somewhat sore and tired–too early to see much in the way of results weight-wise, but definitely starting to feel a difference in how I move and how the body holds itself.

Not so good news on the job front–got a call from the last interview place that the position had been put on hold, so no job there. Then got a letter from another place that I hadn’t been picked for an interview. Sigh. Figures. Still, I got some writing words in today–just some tweaking of the next Netwalk: Foundations posting, nothing big, but OTOH, I needed a break today.

So I picked up and went to the barn to ride my bad mood away. Fourth ride this week, and Miss Mocha chuckled at me when I came in the door. She’d managed to give herself an owie, probably playing with her grain bucket. Or something. Near as we can figure, she must have been the one that put her big salt block in the grain bucket–apparently she’s been playing with her bucket and knocking it off of the wall, and before G threw the salt block into her hay feeder, she’d been countering all efforts to put it to the side and had planted it in the middle of her stall. It’s a 50 lb salt block and she likes to roll it around her stall. It’s not too far of a stretch to imagine her somehow getting the block into the bucket, then rolling block and bucket around the stall. Silly horse. Smart horse.

Unlike some horses, Miss M doesn’t exactly cater to my moods. If she’s in a witchy mood herself, well, the fireworks can be entertaining. Not bucking but just a bit of “Oh? You want sensitive? I’LL SHOW YOU SENSITIVE!” and then responding to every weight shift. But if I’m in a down mood, there’s no guarantee that she’ll be cooperative. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn’t. Today, she was, and we had a nice schooling. At one point when doing counter-canter figure 8s, she missed a cue and swapped to be on the lead, but she swapped back readily and I made sure my seatbone was better weighted the next go-round and she held it.

In any case, nice schooling, and then I came home to Do Stuff. Showered after a late lunch, and was combing my hair outside on the back deck, when the neighbor kicked up the bird who’s been making a very odd chirping call around the neighborhood for the past couple of months. I’d been thinking it might have been some variety of parrot, but what I saw fly up in the tree looked like a dove. She called over to ask me what it was, and we couldn’t see it. Then I thought I saw it fly down into the dusty area their hens had scratched up next to their house, so I went to check it out.

This is what I saw:






Juvenile female ruffed grouse. I didn’t ID her right away because, of course, bird books don’t have juvenile female pix. But I had to wonder as she was pretty tame, as long as I spoke to her in a calm voice, though the call threw me off. I’m used to adult ruffies scolding me as I scramble around the brush trying to shoot them, not juvenile flocking calls. Still, I’ve been able to kick up a ruffie in the brush while carrying my rifle on a short stalk looking for deer, gone back to the rig, grabbed the shotgun, and found the same ruffie on the same log squawking at my invasion of his space. Boom. I had to wonder–was she a domesticated chick or a ruffie? The quail I see around the barn are much more skittish, as are blue grouse. Ruffies, though…they’re fools. Fortunately, they also reproduce pretty readily.

Anyway, when DH got home, we went back to look, and found the male on our side of the fence. Recognized his little crest for certain, positive ID as ruffed grouse, from size and plumage, both were half-grown juveniles. I was still hearing their occasional calls until about half an hour ago, along with other, adult grouse talk. Still not sure if they’re escapees (it is possible to buy ruffie chicks) or else migrated over from the Springwater Corridor. I know I’ve occasionally seen Chinese ring-necked pheasants in this neighborhood (nothing wakes you up quite like looking the window and going “Huh? WhAAAAT? Pheasant? HERE?”), but it’s really interesting now to see ruffies.

After taking grouse pix, I staked the Blue Lake beans, as they’re now trying to climb sunflowers, weeds, the lawn….brought out the old cross-country skis that you can’t get boots for any more and set them up. The nasturtiums are exploding, we have more Gravensteins than I thought we did, and one blueberry bush is loaded. One tomato has set on and the others are blooming.

Guess it’s summer. And this summer, I plan to ride, and write, and study.

Sounds like a plan to me.

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That weight thang

Note: could be triggery, so if you have weight issues, you might not want to read this. This is more a musing on my weight gain-loss process, as I think it over and plan how to deal with it. I know what I have to do, and I’m working on it. So….


I’m having to watch my weight again. I’m up about seven pounds from where I should be and it’s showing because it’s starting to get in my way. Keep in mind that I’m a small woman, narrow-shouldered and short-waisted, about 5’3″. My seven pounds is a taller, bigger-framed woman’s fifteen-to-twenty. So when I took off sixty pounds, that was a third of my weight. Someone who is taller with broader shoulders and longer waist would to lose more weight to have that significant of a weight change for them. Doesn’t sound like much of a problem? Well, the dilemma I’m facing is that for me, it’s becoming clear that little shifts in weight can make a HUGE difference in health, comfort and ability to be active. That plus given that I was a fat baby, those little fat cells are just primed to take off and grow given the slightest option. My optimum calorie consumption is about 1300 per day…and it’s only going to get worse as I age. Sigh.

To give you a visual perspective–here I am near my heaviest, around 2006-7:






Contrast with this weight from last fall, which is about five pounds above my lightest weight and actually is just about optimum for me health and activity-wise:






The thing is, I know how my weight gain sneaks up on me. If I don’t watch what I’m eating during the last weeks of school, or if I don’t immediately get strict with myself at the beginning of summer and lose the dang weight already, it stays around. I tend to have wide weight swings across the span of 6-10 years, and if I don’t watch it–before I know it, I’m back up big again. Which is so not going to work as I’m getting older, because it interferes with what I want to do, and the wide swings in weight (sixty is just the biggest, I’ve been known to swing forty-to fifty pounds in a gain-loss cycle) are not good for my long-term health.

I’m usually pretty fit at any weight–aerobically fit, that is. But the weight does get in my way. And as I age, the weight becomes the enemy of the joints and ligaments. Not only that, but it’s putting itself on differently.

Menopause has definitely affected my weight/body shape. I dumped a lot of weight at the beginning of menopause because I went off of hormones and BAM! there went a lot of the weight. I was exercising well until about after the time of the picture from this fall because my hips really started tightening down on me, and then I strained one in early season skiing, and it’s taken until now to get that fixed. I didn’t get bothered at first because besides the weight scale, I use a measuring tape to track my changes, and things looked good.

Except…my waist started creeping upward. I didn’t think much of it at first, because my usual pattern is that I gain first in my bust and lose it last there, while my waist follows the lead of my hips, which usually are the first to lose and the last to gain. Not this time. Bust and hips have remained relatively stable, but the waist? Urm, guess what grew.

Post-menopausal gain pattern, clearly. Annoying as all get-out. Luckily, I think some of that flab is simply loss of muscle tone, and resuming regular workouts as I get more active again will change that. Nonetheless, it’s an bothersome sign of aging.

What’s even more concerning is that this last little gain is making it clear that these days, a five pound range can make a significant difference for me. Couple small frame with reduced calorie need even for an active person (albeit an active writer person) and I foresee some real challenges ahead. I have arthritic tendencies and I just can’t afford to get heavy.

The post-menopausal waist gain is also a huge problem. Before, the weight pretty much evenly distributed itself, with a tendency to concentrate in the bust. Now it all wants to go to the waist. That quickly impacts my flexibility and movement. Yuck.

So…I’m easing back into the process of monitoring food, because what’s happening is that I’m nibbling more and that’s where the calories come from. I’m also in fitness boot camp, which isn’t going to be too bad because I’m including Mocha in the process. But I have to watch out that I don’t overdo (which is why today is a relatively mild day). It looks like I’m going to need to figure out just what does and doesn’t affect that waist weight gain for me.

Arrgh. Just when I got it figured out, things change. The curse of way-too-efficient metabolisms, I guess. And bye-bye, sweet carbs. T’was nice while I could nibble on you.

At least I know I can do it. But it’s annoying to deal with. Sigh.

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Personal update

Those of you on Facebook saw the cryptic posting this morning from the ER.  Yeah, another ER visit. Basically, what happened was that I got woke up about midnight with the husband panting and in some distress. Couldn’t stand up without being dizzy and nauseous. Called 911, soon had a bevy of paramedics and firefighters in the bedroom checking him out. We ended up with a quiet transport to Kaiser Sunnyside (15 minutes away) ER.

I ended up going home about 3:30 am as it became clear that this was possibly just another blood pressure medication overdose, but we had to wait four more hours for the conclusive blood test to determine if DH had had a heart attack–can’t be certain with this test until after six hours has elapsed, and we got him to the hospital and had taken the first blood test long before that. Plus he’d eaten plenty of aspirin and they were pretty comfortable with this status.

Upshot is–yeah, appears that once again his blood pressure meds are trying to stop his heart–he’s developed a sensitivity to this medication. He sees the doctor tomorrow. Right now he’s off of one med and reduced dosage on a second med. We can’t seem to find a happy medium of a medication that controls the BP without overcontrolling the heart rate.

I got up at 5:30, called people, got a sub, went back to bed until I collected him from the hospital at 7.  Yikes.

And there were two particularly surreal moments throughout this…first of all, I remember suddenly noticing that the firefighter guys were–um–easy on the eyes, but also thinking that this is *so* not a circumstance I want to be seeing them, and then on the ride to the hospital, listening to the right wing ambulance driver rant about mental patients running scams in Portland and that we’re swamped with mental patients (He’d just come to Multnomah County from working in rural Clackamas County–huh? My experience is that Clackamas has as much–just a different type). Definitely surreal, especially at 1 am when your head is heavy with sleep, your heart is pounding with worry, and you’re talking so that the spouse in the back can hear your voice and know you’re there.

Enough ER visits for the year, ‘kay?

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It’s…been a while. Obviously.

No, I’ve not forgotten about the blog.  It has just been a long and weird time. What with the quiet, stealthy launch of Netwalker Uprising (available on Createspace, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords) and the underwhelming response so far, and, well, Life Stuff…there’s not been a lot of blog action. Plus I’m carrying around a lot of frustration and such-like, even in the midst of some hopeful glimmers.

Amongst other things, I had a possible exciting opportunity connected to the Day Jobbe career present itself but, due to lack of sufficient support from the family, mainly because it would require a significant relocation–I had to back off from it. I’m still working through the anger and sadness of that situation. My decision was probably for the best but…I’m still extremely unhappy about it. That closes a door to something I had hoped would happen about now, something I’d dreamed of for years–and it’s gone. Another dream dead, joining the piles of hopes and dreams I’ve had to bury over the years in the name of family choices.

The lack of response to Uprising also makes me think this is another dream that is going to die. Granted, I’ve perhaps not pushed it as hard as I should have, but when I think of those who were excited about it earlier, but who clearly haven’t followed through…sigh.  Lack of promotion or lack of interest? I’m not sure which. I love the cover, I think the story’s a strong one, but still…crickets. Chirping. Nothing. Oh well, I own the rights to the damn thing and that’s probably the smartest thing I’ve done. There are other prospects I’m considering in connection to this world but it will take time.

One positive thing which has happened is that I’m in the midst of exploring some positive options and developing some projects which might fly. The depressed pragmatist in me says this dream too will get killed. But the hopeful optimist points out that, like with the package I pulled together for the Day Jobbe-related opportunity, even if this prospect doesn’t work out, I now have viable marketing packages for three writing projects that I will not need to modify too much to send out elsewhere.

But…I am also extremely angry at my government’s leadership and a President who seems determined to shaft people my age and younger.  My parents and my much older siblings had and have decent retirements. It is not looking like I will have much of a retirement, if any, ahead of me. My spouse might, since he’s just old enough to slip past the worst of it, but it’s unlikely as there are circumstances that will entangle both of us and drag us down. Yeah, I know I blithely assumed this would be the case when I was younger. But facing that reality is pretty damned stark at this point. I knew the poisoned cup would get around to me. That knowledge doesn’t ease my resentment, now that I’m facing it, especially when I read chirpy accounts from various retirees who will not face what I am going to face.

I want a President with the cojones to tell the current Republican leadership to bugger off and quit starving the beast, we’re taking care of our people. But he’s been bought and paid for. I knew this in 2008, but I had hopes that my worst fears were wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take the sop that the ACA threw us, but most of it is about screwing the 99% over in the long run. What really angers me is that I’ve seen this trend developing since the 80s, hell, I even wrote about pieces of it in the 90s for the Metrozine, but…I never tried to parlay it into something bigger.  See dreams died, dreams buried for that one.  There were reasons for not following up. Now I wish I had, and damn the consequences. Maybe things would have been better for more people if I had.

And part of the problem is that I have been extremely lousy at the sort of self-promotion that would advance my writing, that would advance my Day Jobbe career, that would advance me in a lot of ways. I have always been a girl who’s wanted to put my head down, do the work, and not fuss about promoting it. Guess who gets screwed with that attitude. In this modern era, it’s more important to blow your own horn than actually, y’know, do the work, and that ticks me off.


Not all is grumpy. Some good things that I can’t talk about have happened at the Day Jobbe, not anything that will personally advance my career but things that confirm for me, deep in my heart, that my particular approach to sped teaching is the right one for this group of kids. I’m growing and developing there, and that makes me quietly happy even in the midst of things that make me angry and despairing. Part of teaching is that the teacher needs to be learning from the students and boy, has this ever been a year where I’ve learned from the kids.

I had a nice con at Norwescon, despite unrelated drama, and had much-needed interaction with my favorite tribes of writer people. I came home with a little dragon pet, Little Draco, who’ll get his own little blog at some point (no, I’m not normally a dragon person, but I have two dragon bracelets and Little Draco, who sits by me while I write and goes on my stick shift when I drive to work. Clearly they called to me.  Why, I don’t know. I’ve only written one very sarcastic dragon story).

I’m also quietly happy about the other projects because hopefully they’ll pay off. If not where they are now, then somewhere else.

I’m happy about the package I put together for the Day Jobbe opportunity. I am humbled and honored by the praise I got and realize that what I do does matter to someone besides me.

And the ski boot issue may have finally gotten resolved, just in time for the end of the season (sigh).

So there are good things amongst the shadows.  It’s just hard to see the glimmers of light through the curtains of darkness. And with that, it’s back to work, before I leave for the Day Jobbe.

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Happiness challenge 9

Getting ready to go camp in the woods and listen to music for a few days!  That makes me very happy.  And, also, it’s not going to be hot.  Next-to-the-last big event of the summer (there’s Gearcon next weekend).  Back soon.

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Happiness challenge day 8

I am happy that it has cooled off here in Portland and that we’re on the downhill slope for the really hot days of summer.  Looking forward to sunny, 80s August evenings!

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Life rolls

Kris Rusch has an excellent post about life rolls, those moments in your life when one phone call can knock you in the gut and send you to your knees because something huge and bad has happened which puts the writing on hold and changes your life.  I read it at the time, acknowledged it as truth (I’ve had some ongoing affects from work drama over the past few years), and didn’t think much about it.

Then a few days later we started on a saga that was, effectively a life roll.

For me, most of the life rolls I’ve encountered haven’t come from phone calls.  Some have, such as my mother’s final cancer.  The starkest life roll I had was when the husband had his ski accident and I was on the slope above him, looking down to see him clutching at his shoulder and rolling around in pain.  Almost as stark but more drug out were the son’s first struggles with Crohn’s Disease when he was sixteen.  We’ve lived a life of compromise with Crohn’s since then, a whirling circle of compromises with the Remicade treatment protocol and negotiations to make it work.  We’d finally gotten to where he could do the typical Remicade administration, which changed it from a day-long slog to a quick few hour infusion.

Well, so much for that.  This life roll started with the son (now twenty-five) telling us he couldn’t keep any food down and had abdominal pain.  Went to the ER the first time.  Got meds, came home.  The next evening DH had to take the son to the ER and he ended up being admitted.  That hospitalization lasted several days, but we thought we had a handle on it.

Uh, no.  Five days after that discharge, DS started throwing up as I was getting ready to go to work.  I got that same feeling I’d had on the ski slope watching the DH writhing in pain.  I told him we were going to the ER, called work and told them I’d be there but I didn’t know when, called DH and begged for help, then went to the ER and waited until DH got there, then headed for work.  That ushered in five days of work climaxing with an emergency surgery which turned out to be much more major than we’d thought it was, ending with a really rough hospital recovery that kept DS in the hospital for almost two weeks.  He’s at home now, and recovering well, but, overall, it’s been a really rough four weeks for the three of us.

Long-term impact is that not much writing work has gotten done in those four weeks.  I’ve made some stabs at progress but the worry has shut a lot down.  Meanwhile, work drama has continued apace, and it’s probably been a good thing that I’ve been detached from it.  Still, it’s fed into things.

The brain is starting to stir again.  Nonetheless, it means I’m really behind the eight ball with regard to website updates, with writing, and with getting on with my life.  I hope to be able to move on from here, though, and be back to writing work with a vengeance.

Changes need to be happening and they will be soon.  But still, yikes.  So much to do.

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