Silent Anne?

If we go by my actual blog posts, I'm "silenter" than Silent Bob -- he talks at least once in every movie, right?

Depending on how religiously you check here in the hope for new content, you may have seen the blog go down for a week or two. Yeah.... I think some of the posts are broken/missing and this annoys me. I had a problem a couple months back and Randy swooped in to save the day -- the database had corruption issues -- and I think that's where the missing posts went. sigh

Because of that problem, I've been even more lax at doing any kind of managing of the site. This includes figuring out why my comments are being spammed so ridiculously -- I think there have been no legitimate comments in over a year, while the spammers are just drowning my blog with spammy comments. Meanwhile, I really do want to clean it up and maybe find a better theme. The blue is just too.... bright. Too "cheery". Like a flight attendant with too much caffeine. Ugh.

So, what's new with me? Hmmm.... Well, we've been looking for a house since before the house we fled from in June. You might recall we were putting a bid in on this house, before we left town for our 20th Anniversary Roadtrip. While we were out of town, the bank who was permitting the short-sale got back to us. Apparently, their comps (comparable houses in the area) were $20k higher than our bid (which placed the price very conveniently at their list price). So, they decided to go to foreclosure instead. Meanwhile, we learned that both A/C units had been vandalized and would need replacing. We already knew that due to such a long vacancy, the pool needed some surface repairs and we were likely to lose the orange trees from lack of watering. So, we passed on that house.

Once we returned home from the roadtrip (I'll cover that in a bit), I got right back to checking out ZIP Realty for price drops, new listings and such. One of our days of looking resulted in a fall -- I didn't see a "step down", twisted my ankle and landed on my left knee, directly on tile. I didn't realize until later, I'd braced myself with my hands as well, so I've done some kind of minor (?) damage to my right hand, along the pinky side. The right ankle is the same one I broke in the car accident.

Anyway, we kept looking for houses. (The one I fell in was not good -- the pool was so beautiful, but the house itself was just not workable.) Just before I left for New York for almost 3 weeks, we toured a house in Mesa, only .3 miles from the light rail! We put together an offer and began the process. It was made much easier by a product called DocuSign. We're currently waiting on a document to show up and for the loan to come back from underwriting. Close is supposed to be on the 17th of this month -- this Wednesday!

I really hate living in this tiny apartment -- and very soon, we're going to have one more person living with us! This is a good thing, but if the house falls through, it's definitely going to be an interesting start to the new year!

So, let me back up a little bit. The Roadtrip was good, until it wasn't. We visited Randy's parents, then headed in to Canton, Ohio for my sister's wedding on the 28th. It turns out she had a cold. I caught it. It dropped straight into my chest and I was extremely worried Randy would come down with it next. We cancelled all our other planned stops and made a bee-line for home. Poor Randy had to drive the entire trip by himself. For at least the first 75% of the trip, I was knocked out with all the cold medications. I think Sirius Radio saved the day! One of the plans cancelled was a meet-up with DrunkenMonkeyKnits herself. sigh

Many blogs are personal in nature, not business-oriented. For that reason, we all choose what we are comfortable sharing about our lives, online and in the clear. Maybe it's not super-obvious, unless you've tried to leave a comment (another reason I debated dropping the whole blog is because of the spammers), but I'm running my blog on Drupal. So far, I haven't really bothered with settings like "you must have an approved account and be logged in to read posts" because I feel that's sorta contrary to the concept of a blog. Couldn't I just send emails to the people I'm willing to let read the things I don't want public?

I've been struggling with how to handle some of the private stuff I'm not sure I want "in the clear". Those who know me in person are pretty likely to know some of this stuff already. Those who don't may or may not know it. And I'm hedging my bets on waiting, rather than having stuff "out there" I can't take back (at least, not easily!).

Something I can talk about is our Intentional Community, or IC (pronouned eye-see) as we call it. We've been debating whether to keep the name of the IC independent of the dome we hope to build (yes, it seems that most if not all of the domes have names!). So we tend to refer to it in the abstract as "the IC". We're adding another member to the IC at the end of the year, which I'm really excited about. We're hoping, if the house ends up being ours, to develop a garden and perhaps, eventually, a tilapia pond!

I've been actively planning to return to school in the Summer of 2011, to get my Master's in Architecture. With everything else on my plate right now, I'm feeling a little crammed just trying to study for the GRE. I'm also not 100% positive of my reasons for going back to school. I'll be the first to admit, I feel a little "worthless" at times -- worth very little and a drain on the household economy. So, I think the idea of going back for a degree in something I really do want to do and being willing to go back to work and "bring home the bacon" is appealing to me. More importantly, I don't want to be one of those people who just sit around and let life slide right past them, while they whine about life not being great and feeling depressed.

The question has been raised: did I quit writing for the right reasons? Did I quit because I wanted to? Or because I lost faith in myself? Did I allow Clarion West's rejection to dictate my future direction? Do I still really want to be a writer?

Which brings me to the GRE exam. It's $160 -- a lot to spend on just an exam, if I'm not fully committed. And right now, I don't think I am. With the possible move and settling into a new home, the addition of an IC member, the stuff I really don't want to talk about here, "in the clear".... plus some of my other personal projects, I just don't think my focus is on taking the exam this month or even next month -- only to have to turn around and put together an application package.

To this end, I'm going to focus on

  • getting us in a house (one way or another)
  • getting my D&D character sheet files finally cleaned up, so I can publish them on
  • cleaning up my blog theme
  • a knitting needle inventory idea
  • the lace pattern I have been futzing with for 3 years now
  • a couple other pattern ideas
  • perhaps getting my short fiction published?

Once I've dealt with some of these things and "cleared my deck", so to speak, maybe I'll focus on my first novel and the rat's nest I made of the ending, so I can finally get it onto a publisher's desk!

But for now, I'm not making any more claims. I've made too many and I'm starting to feel buffeted by my own winds of change.

I'm still here...

...I just haven't had much to say.

I'm knitting on a variety of projects:

  • a shawl I got fed up with a long while back and have finally returned to working on. It's going better this time.
  • a pair of socks for Randy in Black Trillium's Heavy Merino Sock -- yum! I'm done with the first sock and working (top-down) on the leg of the second sock.
  • I've finally cast-on something for me and by the time it's done, I probably won't need it: a shrug in Lion Brand Homespun. The great room can be quite chilly at times and I'd rather layer.
  • a multiple-ditty bag project I'm dreaming up (inventing?) as I go. This one is using leftover sock yarns. So much for that sock yarn blanket I had planned...
  • a little something for Valentine's Day. It's done, I just need to get some accessories.grin

I'm still working on my gaming character sheets. At this point, I'm trying to work on two sets at the same time. One is the v3.5e set and the other is a Pathfinder set. Not a whole lot has changed, but the parts that have affect the layouts of a couple of pages. I suspect Wizards might give me a little trouble in Pathfinder. I'm also struggling with creating class-specific pages for classes like Psionics -- classes I've never played. So, I'm talking to my three gaming groups and trying to get feedback on the data that's most critical.

I'd like to work up some spell sheets -- have the entire text of a single spell on the sheet, so the character's prepped spells are readily available. But some spells take so little room that they'd be a wasted of sheet space.

Randy has suggested a sorted list of monsters/creatures by various types. It's easy on the Wizards of the Coast site to do that sort of thing, if you've got their v3.5e Monster's page bookmarked. But what if you want only aquatic creatures? Or only desert creatures? I mean, a wandering monster check can't really give you Dire Sharks (do they exist in d20 SRD?) if you're in the middle of a desert, right? It looks like I'll have to build a database to do it right. do I do that again?

Meanwhile, I'm trying to pick up some JavaScript and PHP to add a Pathfinder template to the RPGProfiler we're using. It's times like this I miss having an office of my own -- less going on around me, less activities to catch my attention and drag me out of my very deep learning curve.

I came across a window cling designed by Jen Delyth of Keltic Designs last week. It's the perfect basis for a circular shawl, so I bought the cling. When I got home, I hunted down a website for her work and promptly sent her a message. Sure, I'd like to do all the work of designing this and turning it into a shawl, but when it's done, I'd really like to be able to sell the finished work. I received her response the other day:

You are welcome to make 1 shawl and post it on your site with full credit.

If you make more, which consitutes commercial use, please get back to us, and we can work out license agreement.

Hmm... Should I still work on a shawl design for this? I'm not sure. I mean, I'm not a professional, so it'll probably take me a year, at least! I've still not completed the design on the shawl for my mom that I promised her. Sigh. Maybe I should finish Mom's shawl first and then work on this new idea?

But, speaking of my own designs, have you seen the little guy down on the right side of the blog lately? As of this writing, there's 39 projects of him and he's in 147 queues. Squee!

Lately, I've been feeling the need to get into something more mentally challenging. I think there's some things in my projects listed above which could fit the bill...I just need to clean my desk and get to it.

Whoops and other things

Sorry about the whole "missing blog" thing there... we had a little snafu on our end. It's funny how the ISP expects us to pay the bill to keep this site running. :) No big, huge deal (as I keep telling Randy!). (Note to self, so he'll quit beating himself up: don't forget to run a back-up of the blog and make a cron job to do it automagically.)

I am only just now getting email running again. Somehow, something went kerblooey with Postfix and I ended up having to upgrade it to fix it. But, it is running now and any personal messages should resend without any hiccups. If you did email me at this domain name and don't hear a response in the next 24 hours or so, query me with a fresh email and see if I ever received the original. :)

Life is going on, despite Elijah's so sudden demise. It's times like this when I realize how lucky I am, to have such wonderful people in my life. They're there for me when I need them---something I'm really getting used to! To my amazing friends and family: y'all are spoiling me!

Have I mentioned our housemate on here yet? I know I've been woefully absent... there's just not a whole heck of a lot that is really interesting enough to write, let alone expect anyone else will want to read... but this is something I should have mentioned. Let me re-cap.

Back in late March, a friend connected us with Rowan because we all have a lot in common and the "let's get together one day" became urgent when his roommates of the time ditched him with no warning. We've been struggling to make ends meet and he needed a place... this sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

The first get-together was great and there was an instant friendship. Fast-forward past moving day and the settling in and here we are today, unable to believe there was ever a time we didn't know each other. Rowan is like the older brother I never had (and always wanted!).

We're working on a garden out in the great room. Since he's also better with a camera than I am, maybe I'll get him to snap some digitals of this "Room of Greenery", so I can upload them to flickr and share them with y'all. We're growing the standard houseplants like pothos, spider plant and ivy, but we're also growing cuccumbers, carrots, red and yellow peppers (from seeds we saved from store-bought peppers we had for dinner!), broccoli, "salad greens" (why didn't we just go straight to spinach?), lavendula angustifolia... Rowan has branched out and is thus far successful with his attempts to start a sweet potato, a citrus tree (well, okay, it's just a seedling so far), popcorn, fenugreek, mustard seed... I know I'm forgetting something. Oh! We have a store-bought parsley and a store-bought mint plant we're keeping alive. We're not so sure about the store-bought basil. So far we've managed to kill one basil (with help from the ferrets), and we're working on the second one. Oh, we also have sage and kalanchoe degremontia. We have so much kalanchoe degremontia, we'll probably be asking people to take it off our hands. I wonder if it's edible at all?

In other news, I've made a personal commitment to participate in NaNoWriMo for the third time---and the first time since the car accident. That'll be some serious writing for me. I don't have the faintest idea of a story to start from. Rowan and I were talking about books and he said he has yet to see a strong gay-male portrayal in science-fiction. Since I can't think of one right off the top of my head (and since I lean towards female protagonists frequently), I figured that was Challenge Number One I'd take on for this NaNo novel.

That means I've got 2.5 months to get anything I want to do done, so that the entire month of November is focused on that 50,000 word limit. I've done the math in the past and I've got two different "daily minumums" to focus on. If I want the weekends off (and I do, since I'm tabletop gaming 2 Saturdays a month and LARPing 2 days a month), I need to get 2381 words per day in. If I count my weekend-days as "available writing time", that number comes down to 1667 words per day. So, if you thought blog entries had been scarce before... Hopefully, I'll just limit myself to short and sweet entries.

If there's anyone out there who still reads this blog, I've got a question for you. If you could choose, would you prefer to read a portion of a short story and then decide whether it was worth paying for the rest or would you rather read the whole thing and have the option of a "tip jar"? I've gone around and around on this and haven't progressed on doing anything about it because one choice (the "tip jar" option) lets my writing loose in the world and could close doors down the road. So, I'm eager to hear from the 3 or 4 people who read here what you'd prefer. While you're sounding off, I'm looking for a good price for the pay-for-the-rest option (which will actually be for the whole story 'cause that's what you'll get when you buy: the whole thing formatted nicely by yours truly).

Oh and a Josephine McKenzie style greeting goes out to any Camarilla members who might be new readers. My email signature on Gmail has this blog on it, so, "Hey all!" Drop a comment and let me know you stopped by.

Hey, it's seven o'clock in the morning. Do you think I should finally go to bed? yawn Yeah, me too.

Stupid people tricks...

Yesterday, the pool was *finally* serviced... I was so shocked, I walked outside to see the clean pool.... and managed to slip and break a toe. *sigh*

There's really nothing that can be done for a broken toe (which I learned back in 1980-something, when I broke my big toe and the emergency room X-rayed it, sprayed it with some kind of numbing stuff and taped it to another toe to keep it straight. Thank you, $300 please!). So, I've been taping it to another toe to keep it kinda straght, but it still hurts. Ugh. Leave it to me to break the weird things.

My broken toe....

...let me shows you it.

We're still waiting on the freaking lawn guys to come and get the lawn under control---it was bad when we signed the lease. And then we turned the water on and it became a jungle. One of the neighbors commented that the only reason the owners didn't lose the orange trees is because of the heavy rains the area has had this winter.

I've mentioned our old house. I've mentioned that it's vacant. Now, let me mention the MLS # for said beautiful house: 2885387. It's down to $241,500...but needs at least $10k worth of work, depending on how picky the new owners are about lights and appliances. We originally installed almost $5k worth of lights. I forget what we spent on the range and dishwasher (we kept the fridge).

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't interested in buying it again. We wired that house from one end to the other with ethernet. You can sit in the master garden tub and have a computer jacked into the internet. You can be working in the garage and check something online without having to go into the house. I think we even put network jacks in the pantry! Plus, we (well, Randy mostly) installed beautiful laminate floors everywhere there wasn't linoleum or stone tiles. Yeah, I miss that house. I just don't know if it's big enough for us, with our massive IKEA desks now. How funny is that?

Randy's enjoying the "walk to the bus stop, ride the bus to work" convenience of where we live now. And I do like that it means he's leaving me with the car most days. Perhaps I could get a part-time job, doing something fun/interesting (and pay off my credit card!).

We're ticked at American Express now. We contacted them, to let them know we'd be moving---and that charges would start showing up in new places. We charged the move, we traveled across the country (hotels ain't cheap!) and once we signed the lease, we bought a washer and dryer. They security flagged it and it took 20+ minutes to get that resolved. Fine. I'm glad they watch that stuff. But the following week, Randy was at the store to get cat food and litter---a whopping $21, mind you---and the card came back declined. What??? So, he gets home and they've cut him off. Now, this isn't a card with a set limit on it. You spend it, you pay it once a month. Turns out, they're "concerned" about the amount of money he's spent on the card in recent weeks.

Uh, duh? We told you guys this was coming. So, he makes a payment to them to make them happy---no payment is yet required on the account, mind you. But, now he's a little iffy about using it. Then, the night we had to euthanize Maya, they put a security hold on the card. *sigh* "Unusual charges", they said. Uh, yeah. The day holding a pet while the vet administers heart-stopping drugs is "usual", just kill me. Okay? Randy read them the riot act and they finally approved the transaction. But he hasn't calmed down about this yet. He's removed his American Express card from his wallet and we're rather tight while we wait for the paychecks to start flowing in again.

He's so fed up with them, he decided (with my agreement) to cash in all his points for Barnes and Noble gift cards. As soon as he's paid the account off, he's closing it. I'm debating doing the same with my card. My newest LYS doesn't take American Express and that's the card I put my allowance on right now. So. I'm debating getting a new card, rolling my AmEx amount into it and closing my AmEx account as well. I wonder how many points I have? More Barnes and Noble shopping, perhaps?

When I spoke to an American Express representative about this whole thing, she said they've been busy, "With the downturn in the economy". Ah, so pissing off the customers who've been behaving is how you handle that? Bad move, American Express. I'm sure your mega-company won't miss the paltry amount of money we bring in, but you do this to enough people and you'll find that people *will* leave home without it!

I'm still working on this stole design. I don't know how the designers out there do it... I'm stumped. Randy's working on a program that will take an XPM and convert it to row-by-row instructions. But, I have to have some concept of how to scale the image first. One image I was playing with started at 615x600 pixels. If I do a stitch/pixel, that's a lot of stitches. But at laceweight, is that a lot of stole? I have no clue. Really, I don't.

I'm down to a size 1US (?) needle (one of my sock needles) and I'm not sure I'm going to get enough definition still. Maybe I should go up to fingering weight? Will that be too heavy? *sigh* This makes my head hurt. And I really want to see this come together. I can do this!

So, to that end, I should step away from the computer and do more actual knit-testing, eh?

Alive and travelling....

I'm here....just not for long. I've been home since Tuesday evening and completely wiped out. I love my Mom, I love visiting her, but this big girl (and her big guy) spent four nights on a double bed. I don't think I slept well a couple of those nights. Then Wednesday I was up early and busy all day, exhausted to the point of wanting to sleep if I sat for more than a minute. I crashed around 00:30 hours (which would be Thursday AM) and I didn't crawl out of bed until almost 17:30 hours Thursday! I ached all over and that meant a migraine from the tension in my back.

So, here it is Friday and we're headed back to Mom's tonight---only I'm driving our car and Randy is driving a car for work (long story). My tummy's rumbly and I'm not sure if it's stress or something I ate. Fun.

Hopefully, I'll have a more interesting update come the New Year. Thanks for sticking with me, you faithful readers, even for the boring stuff.

Pay It Forward

I'm here. I'm alive. I've just been.....knittingeatinggamingeatingstayingupallnighteatingraveling. Whew. Yeah. It's been like that!

I'm down to the two sleeves of the Retrograde Pulloever for Nick...and my knitting queue keeps getting longer! I've found a half-dozen things I'd love to knit-and-gift for Christmas.

And I've bought so much roving already----I must be insane! I'll see if I can get Nick to spend a few minutes with the digital camera and take some pictures of my roving goodness *before* I mangle it beyond recognition spin it into yarn.

Oh, and today I joined the Pay It Forward exchange on Lucia's blog. I get a little something sent to me and, in return, I promise:

I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

So, whether you're a long-time reader (what? I have long-time readers??), a new reader and/or a first time commenter, join in the fun!

And if you're into knitting / crocheting / weaving / spinning -- basically anything textile-oriented and you haven't signed up for Ravelry yet----What's wrong with you? *grin* Seriously, I love this site! It could easily become an addiction!

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