Hastily written notes

When you’re still working between 2 and 3 AM and have some wild thought occur to you while you’re trying to fight off sleep and succeeding at least some of the time, it would help if you scribbled it down as something someone could decipher. Including yourself.

I think it says “Retrieving boxes/suitcases of beer”. Maybe. Could be “Swap cases” of something. Ah well. If it wants to come back, I’m sure it will. Next time I’ll try to take a moment to be a tiny bit tidier about it. After all, that could be the next blockbuster book.

Speaking of things book-related, my intent today was to spend a few hours writing. But since Tuesdays are hell on earth for us for whatever reason, I spent the whole day doing work work and not the side work. Toss in a blizzard of (entirely unnecessary) emails from the control panel software, which helped freak even more people out than usually turn up in the desk on the day, and it was a zoo. Tomorrow, as they say, is another day, although it will become my today soon enough if I don’t get a little sleep overnight.

Heading for a Fall

We may finally be heading toward fall here at the ranch.

The maples have discarded most of their leaves, the water oaks are following suit,  and the wind from the north carries with it the promise of our little piece of the planet cooling down just a tad.

(Two days later…)

Our forecast stands, thankfully: cooler weather will definitely help me get the gardens pruned back of weeds and covered for the next few months. And by “me”, I mean I’ll be pulling weeds and my sister will be putting the weedblock down. She hates weeding. And that’s okay, since I’m having her do the heavy lifting – I’ve done something to my shoulder and either damaged my rotator cuff or the labrum. I’m leaning more toward the rotator cuff, because of the clicking and popping and it hurts pretty damned badly to raise my arm. My right arm, I should clarify: my good arm, since the surgery from the (fuck you, cancer!) cancer removed muscle and nerve tissue from my left arm and while I can carry stuff with that arm, mostly, I can’t raise it up over my head like a normal person would. So, two damaged arms. One from surgery. The other probably from throwing the ball for the puppy without being warmed up sufficiently each round. The round where it popped was apparently the one that was trying to my attention and tell me to stop doing the stupid thing.

Cooler weather also brings in the time for making (which sounds like something out of  fantasy novel, and who knows, that may very well be somewhere in the fantasy trilogy that’s bouncing around in my head). I can make a huge batch of hot sauce made from tabascos – obviously I can’t just call it “tabasco sauce”, since McIlhenny would probably sue me to death, so I need a name for it. But that’s a thing that needs to be done with all the windows open and fans going, and I still have to wear a mask while making it. The upside is that once made and stored properly, it will not lose a lot of flavor as it ages. It won’t go bad – there’s just vinegar, salt, and tabascos in it, so it’s by far the simplest thing I make as far as processing the harvest goes. But if it’s stored in a warm, hot place, it can lose some flavor.

The other item: some more coffee roasting. We’ve decided that really does have to be done outside, because some of the roasts are darker – I made an absolutely miller batch of columbian/sumatran been mix, roasted dark – but it does smoke a little, making the smoke alarms go off, and the whole house smells like a coffee processing outfit. The latter is not so bad, but the former is annoying. Since the weather is agreeable, I’ll be roasting up some combinations for my taste testers to do some trials. I did a medium roast on some Indonesian beans that my mom really liked, so that will also be on the agenda. Want some? Drop me a comment here, or drop me a note via email (clients: in a ticket is fine, it will reach me). It won’t be packaged in anything fancy, like an actual coffee bag, but we will vacuum pack it. Specify whole beans or ground – I recommend whole bean if you have a grinder, as whole beans retain their flavor longer than ground, but the ground version won’t be so much that you can’t drink it in a timely manner.

Meanwhile, in the beeyard, the swarm I caught last season swarmed away, and one of the new hives had to have killed the queen, made a new one, and absconded. In the newer hives, the queens have one wing clipped so they can’t go anywhere. And since I’ve been ill pretty much constantly this year, including three times in the hospital, I’ve not been able to pay attention to them as I would have liked. But, I did get out there the other day, and did a few quick inspections. Most of the boxes are bursting with bees (yes, I do like some alliteration), with one that’s straggling pretty badly, and I’m thinking that next season I’m probably going to have to commit some regicide and put a new queen in that box.

I also picked up, courtesy of the vast intarwebz, an idea for controlling small hive beetles. These little assholes get into the hives, poop everywhere, go through the comb, ruining the comb AND the honey in it, and are generally a royal pain in the ass. Specialty food/bar prep towels, cut in squares, and laid on the two back edges between two hive bodies has done more to keep the small hive beetles under control than any other non-chemical way I’ve used. The towels are thicker than usual paper towels, and have some tufting to them. The bees will pick at it, because it’s a foreign item in the hive and they want to clean it up and get it out, but more importantly, bees herd the beetles into corners on their own. When they do that without anything in place, the beetles are still alive and they will break themselves out when the beekeeper removes a frame. With these towels in place, the beetles get stuck, very much like velcro, because they have barbs on their legs. Leave the towels in for a couple of weeks, and then change them out for a fesh set. I thought I had a photo of some of the beetles caught in a couple of the hives I tried it in, but I can’t find that, so I’l just take some new pics on my visit to the beeyard tomorrow. I’ll be inspecting a few more hives, feeding the ones who need it, and generally getting them ready for “winter”, such as it is here.

Enough of the almost all word dump that doesn’t even do justice to anything. Until next time, peeps: be well.

Amusement du jour

A spammer, trying to get me to hand over about $200USD – a reduced price! – on how to build an online, automated business that has generated for some unnamed person $20MM. Sorry, spammer, I already know this game: the secret is to get people to pay you for the tools they will then turn around and spam with, telling people they have an unrivaled business plan that is online, automated, and that allowed some unnamed person to get $20MM, and the secret to that is…

I guess this is a bit neater than having to do the in real life, regular pyramid scheme crap where you have to actually talk to people. So it has that going for it.

Fans of the long form

Once again, an unfinished post because I worked (for work work, not book-related work) until the wee hours and then fell into bed.

That aside, I’ve seen rumblings for quite some time from people getting frustrated with the various social media things because it’s simply too difficult to write anything in a long form that will be seen all the time. By “seen” I don’t mean that no one will see the piece, ever, but that the piece will be seen by the intended audience for it. This occurred to me last year: even on Facebook, if you’re following someone, it’s entirely possible Facebook’s strange algorithms will prevent you from seeing everything that person has written unless you are specifically working to check what has been posted by that person. Even if you do see what someone has posted, if it’s long, it will be truncated and a “read more” link given – even for Facebook notes. For authors of the content, that is a bad thing: there are a fair number of people who will not choose to read the entire piece. A couple of paragraphs above the fold will be it, and they’ll toss a like on it, maybe offer a comment, and move on in the cluttered landscape of Facebook.

Twitter? Trying to follow some tweet thread/storm that someone has posted can be an exercise in patience or frustration, depending on how you look at it, as there’s a good chance that while the author is tweeting within the character limit, people may  also be commenting on any number of messages within the thread, disrupting the flow of whatever the author of the tweets is saying. In addition, many people follow hundreds, if not thousands of other people/organizations. It’s terribly easy to miss threads you might otherwise read from someone if you caught it in the firehose of content that is the twitterverse.

The same things go for any of the other social media outlets: sometimes, perhaps even a lot of times, the content creators find they are not reaching all of their followers, and the followers often miss out on what that creator has posted, because it gets buried in some fashion – most of the time, through sheer volume, because people just click “follow” without understanding it simply is not possible to get the content from every single person they’re following without being on the social media platform 24/7.

These things are why I’ve been seeing more and more people go back to basics, resurrecting long-dormant blogs so they can post longer content and ensure that one, their followers can find it, and two, followers can read the entire piece, without any interruptions by ads or “sponsored content” or trying to follow a thread down a rabbit hole. It’s terribly difficult to get the same nuances in long form writing when it’s being done on Facebook or Twitter or wherever else, as they simply do not easily lend themselves to that. There are plugins available that allow content on the blogs to automatically post to the various social media outlets, even if it’s just a quick snapshot of the title or first paragraph or so.

This is not to say I’m against social media. I firmly believe content producers should put their work out via any means possible, and if they manage to get peoples’ eyeballs on it within those social media circle, so much the better. But I am saying as more and more people realize what a time suck  (among other problems) social media is and move away from it (like yours truly) and with more people writing, worrying how much will be truncated by any particular outlet, or how many ads will be posted with it, or how many tweets they’d have to rapid-fire post  to get their content across,  the long form content writing area is coming back around. That, in my book, is an incredibly important -and good – thing.

Out with the old

…and in with the new.

It’s very easy to let the blog sit, idling like a giant pickup full of guilt. I started this post on the 1st, and here we are at the 3rd. My goal was to turn this into Blogtober, posting something – anything – every day. That’s mainly to get myself used to prioritizing writing and to create a habit, both of which I desperately need. Yesterday, I had finally gotten to bed somewhere between 4:30 and 5 AM, woke up a couple of times, and then was shocked out of that just after 8:00 AM by the arrival of my sister and the soul eating baby, who is now a soul-eating princess. I got a nap in, but I need to start getting to bed at a more reasonable hour (even quasi-reasonable, for me) to try to get maybe 3-4 hours of continuous sleep. Last night, I finally made it to bed before midnight, but woke up every couple of hours. The last one was between 5 and 6, and that last one until 9 was solid. The last one also had the most crazy dream, too.

Anyhow, this is the first post in my own little Blogtober. It’s been fairly quiet, work-wise, and my intent was to get up, shut off my internet connection, get my coffee and shake breakfast, and then write, first thing. But I got up suffering from the dizzies, and got sucked into dealing with some work-work, so here we are, shortly before 2 PM. I expect to be able to do the “write first thing in the morning” routine at some point (or at least I hope so). I’ve read you should do the hardest things on your agenda first, and while the actual writing is not hard – I write quickly, because a lot of the time, the scenes are in my head – getting myself started writing even when those scenes are so clear in my head, is. So I’m thinking if I can throw these words here on ye olde blogge into the void when there’s nothing particularly planned or in order, it will give me a boost on writing up the real stuff (not that this isn’t real, it’s just real in another way) as well.

It is incredibly windy out today.  We had a noreaster for a coupe of days that brought rain and wind, but we seem to have settled in for just wind at this point. I don’t like working the bees when it’s really windy like this, because the bees are getting blown around on the frames and it make them a bit frenetic. It (the wind) also makes my ears hurt when it’s rocking like today, and it’s too warm to wear my hat with earflaps. But they seem to be thriving even with my rather benign neglect from all the health issues this year – including yet another round of pneumonia last month, plus yet another hospital stay – so I reckon they can hold themselves another day or so before I bring out new feed and have a look in some of the boxes.

The gardens are just an overwhelming mess. We’re starting to see the days in the low to mid 80s, and with this trend, I’ll be able to get back out there and start slogging through the things that need to be done so we’ll be ready to go next spring – and with a better battle plan next season, with the number one item being “Don’t get sick, dumbass!” on the list. Three hospital stays so far this year is a record, as is six rounds of pneumonia so far, and I’d prefer those be kept to a minimum of zero. The latter probably won’t, just because the swallowing issues mean I’m always a candidate for aspiration pneumonia, but I’d like to start monitoring myself a bit more closely to catch them early if at all possible. What’s that? Anything is possible? From a literal standpoint, this is, of course, complete nonsense. From a hopeful one, it is. I’ll focus on that one.

Until tomorrow, peeps: be well.

The big C and its effect on the human body

Well, rancherinos, it’s been another glorious week of remembering the always-there aftereffects of a couple of bouts of cancer and the attending treatment (namely, chemo and radiation) that churn up in the wake of that horrible ship that passes through your life.

This past week – technically, last weekend, I suppose – I started feeling a bit “off” and then got a horrid, watery cough, and then started coughing up some crap out of my face and we decided it was xray time. My back to school gift was apparently a raging case of pneumonia. Everybody else got pencil boxes (does anyone remember those?) and I got this. Rip off.

Still, I saw my doctor, I got an xray, and I got my antibiotics without spending a dime: thanks to February’s adventure, I blasted through my out of pocket limit before this year really got rolling, and that’s a good thing, since this is the third serious bout of pneumo, two of which involved hospital stays.

What have I been up to? Beyond hauling myself out to feed the bees and working, not much. I have definitely been doing nothing to clean up the gardens, which are desperate to be cleaned, because one, it’s way too hot here right now, two, my energy reserves just are not back to where they need to be, and three, did I mention it’s fucking hot? It is. I’ve also not been writing much even though the attitude is there to do it – fighting off things that make you cough almost uncontrollably every ten minutes, which then take you another five to recover from are not really conducive to that. It’s made worse by coughing fits that threaten to swell the throat, and with someone with an already limited opening, can cause a tinge of panic that there’s going to have to be a 911 call in there somewhere. Fortunately, I’ve been concentrating on staying calm after the fit passes and letting things get back to as normal as they can be.

On the plus side, I’ve been reading more books this year, and just finished one that made so little sense, plot-wise, and took away from a series character everything that made him what he is right up to that book, that I almost didn’t finish it. But I did because I am apparently a glutton for punishment. I’m now back to the Lucas Davenport series by John Sandford (currently reading #11), which I left off late last year because it was time for a break from that series. I’m having a hard time finding another series to have on my list that I would like to read – the ultra-jingoistic right wing nutjob novels are not my thing, and some series I found intriguing only have a couple of books in them, which I could read in a day – I read incredibly quickly, which is why libraries were always my thing when I was young and why Kindle Unlimited is fantastic for me now: I can read quite a number of books without bankrupting myself.

The downside to Kindle Unlimited is while there are tons of bad self-published books out there in general, KU is absolutely a giant mountain of them. This is not a ding against self-publishing. It’s where I’ll be starting at first because I don’t want to wait out the usual timeframe it takes to find an agent, and then for that agent to find a publisher, and then for that publisher to get the goods out the door. Do I want some traditionally-published work at some point? Sure, why not. They have budgets and editors and cover designers and PR people that I do not. But if I can show an agent/a publisher that I have a track record and a platform (I hate that fucking term, let me tell you), I think that would help in getting to the traditional route.

College football started today, in the same way restaurants have soft openings: a handful of games, spread throughout the day, not a whole lot of gotta-see games, although OR State versus CO State turned from a neck and neck game into an obliteration by COST thanks to turnovers by ORST.  Later tonight: Stanford (ranked team) versus Rice, from Australia.

And lastly, the weight thing: I’ve been trying to put on some weight in order to improve my overall quality of life and increase my “reserve” (as the medical people say) and to get the feeding tube removed, and have been pounding that as much as I can. I’m now hovering around 100 pounds, something I consider not too bad, considering that I left the hospital back in February at 92 pounds.

Today? Raining, off and on, making it a lousy day to get things done outside even if I were able to do it. Nope, hanging out, doing work stuff, reading in the breaks, and right now getting a shake and coffee down the hole in my face to keep those intake calories going.

So there we have it, folks. Battles being fought between the evil forces of infection who want to kill me and the white hat of modern pharmacology. Seems to me the good guys are once again winning this round.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Lovey, lovey

Checked up on the girls today. It was a (mostly) good day for them to be flying off, foraging for nectar. Usually, this time of year is a real dearth for the bees: it’s too hot, not enough rain, and nothing is blooming. This year, though, we’ve had quite a bit of rain, and it hasn’t run up to 100F+ every single day for weeks at a time as it has in the past.

They’re doing nicely, although I believe one hive may have gone queenless. I stole a frame with capped brood, larvae, and eggs, and put it in that box, and hopefully they will go about their business of making a new queen. As we head toward fall, we will have another nectar flow – one good thing about Florida that  counteracts at least some of Florida Man’s escapades.

In other news, another item to restore your faith in humanity(ish). Lovebirds who have a genetic condition that causes them to lose their feathers. Not only is this video aww-worthy, you can really see the dinosaur ancestors of these little birds.

Lovebirds video

This is how it goes

My plan, last night, was set: after a couple of pain in the ass days trying to figure out why one function in an app we use that is designed to make our lives easier just….stopped. One night it was fine, and the next not. So, tickets in to the app dev people and the organization it was supposed to connect to when it started going into the toilet (soon it will be a week of this crap). Neither has any ideas, and I made it quite clear that nothing whatsoever changed in the environment. One, after a bit of back and forth, told us to check with our “service provider” to see if anything changed. Well, dude, we ARE our “service provider” and I just freaking told you nothing changed. The other vendor level one, no idea, level two, asked us to try a couple of things that made no difference, and then, level three, to see if they had any ideas.

After yesterday, my plan today was to write in the morning, then get back to this giant problem, but instead got sucked back into Giant Problem immediately. I have been working on this literally ALL DAY, trying on my own to figure out some way around or through Giant Problem. Nothing has worked. It is supremely annoying and no one seems to have any ideas for a solution to this weirdo thing that’s happening. Grrr.

But it’s quiet right now, even though I’m also trying to figure out a few user-related headscratchers that likewise are not working when before they have been fine. This is how tech infects every minute in your life. There is a solution to that last issue: leave it, for now. Go make art for awhile. It may or may not be possible, depending on whether you can get that stuff pushed aside in your head for a bit to make room for the creative stuff to come out. Finished? Return to the trenches, with maybe something having sparked while doing that to try on the problems that you’ve not tried today.

So I guess that’s what I’ll do: try to lose myself in the world of my own creation for a little while at least. Some progress is better than none, and I need to make a lot of progress, so “some” is laying the path to “a lot”.

One of the issues is thinking the created art sucks, another that no one will like it. I’ve decided my new motto for that stupid little voice saying all that nonsense is: fuck it. Gonna do it anyway. I’ve read, either in part or in full, quite a lot of bad books. The difference is that they finished and put their art out there. That’s what I need to do and what I am going to do.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Nice things

Time for more restoring your faith in humanity (RYFIH), rancherinos.

After that scumbag nazi crap up in VA, we could all use some happynicetime, I think.

Today I went out to the beeyard early to feed the bees and check up on a couple to see if they needed another box. It was mostly sunny, and they were waking up, stretching, and getting ready to go about their day, so they were only mildly ticked to have me stomping around and checking them out. There are a couple of them lagging behind their sister hives in growth, but the season is long here, and there is time for them to get to a comfortable size before “winter” comes.

Speaking of bees….honey! It’s a nice division of labor: the bees make the honey. I manage the bees to make sure they’re healthy, fed through the dearth, and are otherwise ok through the year. When it’s time, I pull honey off the bees and bring it out of the yard and into the garage for processing. My sister does most of the uncapping and extraction (when it’s a big pull, we both do some uncapping and get the frames into the extractor). We let the extractor do its work – I have to say here that the larger, motorized extractor is one of the better purchases I’ve made, and has already paid for itself in time – and get the extracted honey into buckets. From there, mom is the primary  bottler of the honey. We had a bit of an issue with the gate on one bucket leaking, so had to transfer the batch into another bucket.

Lovely, dark honey

Next task, after letting the honey sit for awhile to let any bubbles (and pollen) come to the top: bottling.

Before you know it, you have a bunch of bottles to label and sell:

Pure, raw honey

We do not pasteurize our honey. It’s raw, strained only through a medium coarse strainer to catch things like wax and dead bees, while allowing any pollen through and into the jar. Best honey on earth! (Or at least our little part of it.)

That’s it for now, in another post that has taken two days to write. Until next time, peeps, be well.

 

Reflections on gardening, cooking, and life