Category Archives: Working it out

What can I say?

Except that there are people on this planet who, had evolution worked differently, would be eaten by feral bears. And some of them deserve it.

Let me give anyone who stumbles across this site some advice from your friendly tech support people. You are not helping yourself if you become hysterical. You are not helping yourself when you do not answer the questions we’re asking, or make answering those questions a long, drawn out affair, requiring us to ask you the same questions in a slightly different manner so you will shit out another clue for us. You are not helping yourself by claiming you’re losing a billion dollars per nanosecond because the application on your site hasn’t been updated in literally a dozen years and it’s broken – keep in mind that we can see the amount of traffic your site receives, and you’re lying to us, to make it appear your site is insanely popular when it isn’t. If it were, you’d be spending a lot more on it. As it stands, you probably spend more on coffee over the span of two days than you do for your site per month, so let’s try to keep things in perspective here.

You are not helping yourself by pretending you know more than we do about the servers or connections or pretty much any other thing involved in this. Remember: you contacted us for help. If you know so much, why didn’t you fix it yourself, and leave us be to clear the firewall because someone else can’t connect the logic dots of going from “let me pound away, trying to log in over and over when it’s failing” to “I can’t access anything” and who then proceed to inquire as to whether the servers are down or not. Because the likelihood of them understanding things is probably right around the likelihood of you fixing your own stuff, instead of us ignoring everything beyond “I have this error” and fixing whatever it is that’s broken.

There’s a reason people burn out on tech support. That up there is part of it. Don’t do that.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

Welcome to spring, Florida style


We’ve had a bit of unsettled weather here at the ranch – Mother Nature has been a tad ambivalent about letting our “winter” go. Overall, it was a mild winter, with only a handful of overnight freezes, and if I ever get a greenhouse up, even those won’t matter. How mild was it, overall? So mild that these guys were all over the place at the end of December.

He and his pals vanished to wherever it is they hide out during cold weather a short bit later, as January brought with it not just a freeze, but sleet/freezing rain at a time it is normally dry here.

While that didn’t last long, it surely did make for some fine pictures: icy pines above, my iced over pear tree below.

Usually, I start the flats in the barn under the lights just after the first of the year. I’ve found, though, that the seedlings tended to get a bit leggy even with the lights right over them, and they were definitely getting rootbound before I’d be able to plant them out after two months in. The transplant date was also kind of iffy: do we go with our “official” last frost date for this area, which is around my birthday in March? Take a chance as I did several years ago and kick the seedlings out of the barn in early March, hoping there will be no surprises? Or do I change the entire thing?

Of course, it’s the latter: I started the flats in February this year, and just started putting out the seedlings over the past week and a half. I also waited to direct sow the other crops until April. That gut instinct turned out to be the right one: we had ourselves some random overnights right near freezing at the end of March, and some coolish temps in early April that would not have been all that great for germination of the directly sowed items beyond the shelling peas (and even half of those croaked because a few days later it was 87F before returning to milder temps).

Speaking of germination: for the first time ever here at the ranch, we have had 100% germination of all the tomatoes and peppers. It is astonishing: 274 tomato plants, and  227 peppers. I also have assorted brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.) and those appear to be at 100%, but let’s face it, the stars of the gardens are tomatoes and peppers, by far. This is also about the time of year I usually decide to tilt at my personal windmill and try corn (again), but I’ve decided to let that be this year and not deal with it.

Meanwhile, the blueberries, which I’d basically ignored and which I had not cut back, as “they” say should be done, are coming along nicely. I noticed the first blooms at the end of February, and at the end of March, even through some weird, drastically changing temps, it had started forming berries,

And now, we’re here in April. Lots of tomatoes and peppers in the rows, the directly sown zucchini and squash plants are nice and big, and they are now beginning to flower and form fruit, going from this

To this

In just five days.

Things are looking up at the ranch.

One other programming note: I was doing pretty well a couple of months ago, writing up something every day. Then life intruded at some point and once again, I did not see it through. This time, however, I am: I will post something, every day. It may just be a picture of something and a few words. It may be a recap of what’s going on in the gardens or with the bees. It may be about tech. Or it may just be ruminations on things. Whatever the case may be, the discipline to do this will help feed the discipline of writing every day on the novel side of my world, which has also suffered from my neglect.

No more.  I don’t need anyone’s approval, I don’t need to care what people may think, I don’t need to worry about failure – this is one of my worst fears – and I don’t need to worry about anything else in this world beyond calming my mind, focusing on the story I’m telling, and then tell it: write it straight through, without going back to edit until the work is complete. I hope my handful of readers, whoever you may be, will be watching my journey through all this, but even if you aren’t, I still have an audience of me, and sometimes that is (and has to be) what carries me through.

Until next time, peeps: be well.




Updates, updates

I told myself to get back into updating ye olde blawg daily, to get me in the habit of writing something daily, which I tell myself will help with the actual writing I am supposed to be doing on anything real – any of the ideas I have rolling in my head for novels. Which, I should point out, I have actually gotten some  “here’s how the story goes, generally” notes down for, like this.

And right at this very moment, it all really sounds like total bullshit to me, probably because I let some asshole annoy me with his stupidity and then his panicky bullshit because he couldn’t be bothered to take ten seconds to think about something before completely freaking out. Likewise, his passive aggressive bullshit afterward didn’t do him any favors in my eyes.

I really wonder about someone who can’t quite get to the idea of choosing “settings” as the place to make a change in the app he’s using. It occurs to me that this is the kind of person who would gnash his teeth and rend his garments and wail about how he doesn’t understand anything about anything, and – in his own words, in not one, but two tickets – he’s now “fucked” and “screwed”, thereby ensuring that someone else will easily fix (because it was an easy fix) whatever it is he’s too stupid or too lazy to do in addition to him pissing off whoever has to deal with it.

So now that I’m typing this, guess who just found himself in a list of people in my head who will make appearances in the books I will write?

Since this guy is so terribly incompetent, he certainly can’t be the bad guy. You can’t really have an incompetent villain carry an entire book – well, I take that back, you can, but the book would not be very good.  I have read many books where the bad guy is so stupid, careless, and/or lazy that he should have been tripped up and strangled by his own shoelaces, yet the hero (male or female) is not able to figure it out for 300 pages.  That says something about that hero, too, but that’s something for another day.

No, this person will be a victim. Not someone that’s particularly going to be missed. Not someone who is a pillar of a community or an underthanked martyr, giving up their time for those less fortunate or privileged than they are. No. Not this guy. While I’ve been typing this, ruminating on the vagaries of dealing with people like this both in and out of the tech world, it came to me that I have the perfect spot for him. He’ll be a throwaway character with some very bad habits whose excuses have gotten old to those who have loaned him money and whose time has come to an end. It’s actually the first scene in one of those books up there. In my mind I had written that scene and the soon to be victim mans up, understanding his fate and resigning himself to it, but as I consider it now, I do believe that he will instead be a whiny, pathetic loser, paying for the problems he brought on himself – not paying in money, but with something far more dear: his life.

And now, having typed all that up there, I feel a bit better, and not like I despise the entire world because this one douchebag caught me up at a bad time.

By the way, those papers in the top image? Each one is a different story. This is how backlogged my brain is.  I have four different series characters, a fantasy trilogy, one standalone non-genre book, and one that I haven’t classified as yet, all hanging out in the idea lounge that is my brain, and all hanging out as a short description of what each of those books is about. I have to go update my author blog now, then post the same thing to my facebook author page, and then tweet the link to the blog – because authors these days need an “author platform”, a term that irks me almost to the same extent as “I know, right?”, “That’s what she said.”, a “You know” after every sentence, and “Because (something).”

Thus ends another blog post. See you tomorrow, peeps. Be well.


Your face will get stuck that way

My mother never said that to me (no one ever said that to me, now that I think about it). What is getting stuck, however, is something I decided to do before the new year eve rolled around: hit the treadmill to work on getting back to where I was from a physical standpoint before the drawer full of meds I have to take and before the second round of cancer (fuck you, cancer!). That’s working out rather well, I believe, and at halftime of the Gator Taxslayer Bowl I jumped on and got a walk in. That is session one. There are four games today, so I will make four dates with something, whether it’s walking the treadmill or pulling up more plants to add to the heap I’ve made out on one of the clay areas on the north side of the ranch that still needs more rehab. Whatever it is, it must be physical, since most of my “work” work involves sitting around on my ass doing things, and I really do need to be in shape for spring transplant time so I can make 2016 a much better production year from the gardens than 2015 could ever dream of doing.


Starting right

Happy new year, Dear Readers!

We start off our new year by…sowing spinach seeds before the rains come to engulf us. Yes, even before coffee. Often, beginning anything prior to coffee after just a handful of hours of sleep is not a great idea, but at least this process is not terribly complicated.

For the rest of the first new day in the new year, I’ll be doing treadmill walks at halftime in the various bowl games, finalizing my seed selection and ordering from different companies, working (of course), and – drum roll, please – writing.

Here’s to a fine, productive, and prosperous new year.


I’m back to hitting the treadmill, but decided to leave off the “working it out” titles on posts, since I wind up including other things in those posts, and you, Dear Reader, should not be fooled into thinking there will be just some boring story about exercise and elect to skip it. Instead, I’ll get to pull you in, unsuspecting, to regale you with tales of my not-terribly-exciting life that (from the looks of the archives) seem to follow a most Groundhog Day-like annual routine. For instance, at this time last year, I was doing the same thing I am doing today and have been doing the past few: getting all the seed information into a spreadsheet to decide what to buy and where to buy it.

Let me just say that 2015 was, from a farming aspect, terrible. Too many sicknesses and other things going on made the year a grind. On the plus side, we have all made it out the other end of the year, waiting to greet 2016 as it slides in and gets it feet under it.

It took Mother Nature a long time to get out of summer mode here. Last week, this week’s forecast looked as if she was just going to drop winter on us like and anvil in a Looney Tunes cartoon. Now, it looks more like fall (or fall-ish, as the case may be).

New year forecast

Since she is treating us so magnanimously, I decided to see if we could get a late year/early year crop in: I put in some carrots and radishes over the weekend, and today added some lettuces to that same row. My intent was to put in spinach as well, but the rains came – welcome rain, as we’d had none for weeks. Even without that rain, some of the radish seed I’d put in was already poking up through the soil, and today’s rain (and the rains to come) will help those along.

For the exercise bit: during the first bowl game today, I went out to check on and feed the bees. During halftime of the second, I hit the treadmill once more. I’m also planning another treadmill session during this last game of the night.

Currently reading:  A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow



Working it out, Dec 30, 2015

Today’s plan of action: a treadmill session during halftime of each bowl game today!

First round: done. Just under 16 minutes during halftime of the Birmingham Bowl.

Second round: done. Sixteen minutes during halftime of the Belk Bowl.

Third round: done. Seventeen minutes, seventeen seconds during halftime of the Music City Bowl.

Fourth and final round: done. Eleven minutes at the beginning of the Holiday Bowl, as sleep is circling me like a shark, sensing the chum of my yawns. I kind of didn’t feel like doing that last round, but I did it anyway.

Finished reading: Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves. Rating: it was ok. I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5, mainly for the primary characters. The whodunit part I’d only give 2 out of 5, as information the reader would need to figure it out wasn’t given (and it would have taken a wild assed guess based on not much data to make the link that would have made the link to the killer).

Being your own guinea pig

I am a tinkerer, in various arenas. That includes on myself: testing which way to sit while working that entails the least aching, pain, or nerve sensation in the left of my neck, for instance. Trying to which position allows me to raise my left arm the highest. Taking meds on schedules, but in different combinations, to minimize the gut-related things that an ever-present side effect from having to crush up everything I swallow (by the way, some of these things are horribly bitter, just as an FYI). Tasting something to see if my mouth freaks out about it as if I finished radiation treatments yesterday versus ten years ago.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been walking the treadmill twice a day, and generally at least once a day if I’ve also had to work the bees. I made some notes about things like energy levels, how my guts felt, and so on. I’ve spent the past couple of days not walking, but have worked with the bees to prep for the upcoming cooler weather. Comparing the two systems, I’ve come to this conclusion: walking helps. It helps quite a bit, as it happens. So, tomorrow, I will return to the walking routine for at least one session per day, depending on whether or not the bees need attention, and if the better feeling/energy levels kick up, I’ll get in two a day regardless of the bees.

And now, back to the list making for next year’s seed order. The time is almost upon us to set up flats in the barn under the lights and wait out a couple of months of winter.

A day’s work

Merry christmas, my smattering of readers!

So, you may ask, just where were YOU yesterday when you failed to post anything to this here blog?

Glad you asked: because I had a very productive day yesterday, and it takes me back to about a year and half ago when my energy levels were not being sucked dry by the most mundane of tasks. All this adjustment of meds and forcing myself to work through that fatigue and weakness is working rather well, I do believe.

My day started with an MRI on my brain (so they can tell me there is nothing there, yuk yuk), and I have to tell you this: if you must have something like this done, it is absolutely a terrific idea to have it very early on christmas eve, especially if the trip begins at the ranch and requires that you head into the city. There was virtually no traffic there or back, the MRI department was not backed up (thanks to a 0745 scan time for yours truly), and everyone was in a festive mood over and above their usual good humor. This particular scan takes about 40 minutes, but with that out of the way, I was able to get on with the rest of things.

Those things included another trip to the beeyard. Winter will come, eventually, and from the forecast it appears it’s just going to change from summer to winter overnight. This is not entirely unsurprising, as it’s generally the way our seasons move from one to another: overnight and with a rather stunning immediacy. The bees, however, need to be put into the best situation for them to get through the periods where it will be too cold for them to fly, and that usually means swapping hive bodies from top to bottom, as they generally tend to move upward in the hive. With the swap, they’re back on the bottom, and as they eat through stores in the lower level, they’ll migrate to the top to continue waiting for spring. Unlike most places, we do have a lot of days in “winter” where the bees will be flying, but unless winter switches off suddenly and gives us back our warmer weather, it’s unlikely they’ll find that things are blooming as they are right now with the lingering summer. The job of the beekeeper is to make sure they have stores in place to eat, and to feed them if they don’t. Having them in the lower level of the hive will help them regulate their hive temperature on the coldest nights. I try not to open the hives very often during winter, to avoid allowing heat to escape, but since it’s pretty mild here most of the time, I’ll probably get a peek or two at them during the period.

Hives 3 and 4 got swapped yesterday. I found the queens in each box, and they both have outstanding stores of honey – enough, in fact, to be a bit nervous about if they don’t eat enough in the winter, because come spring, being honeybound will itself create swarm conditions. When a hive is honeybound, the queen has nowhere left to lay eggs, which turns on the little “let’s get someplace roomy!” light in their brains. If I’m able to get into the hives over the next couple of months on good days, I can check their progress at working through their stores to make sure as we head into spring we’re in good shape. This is why we had a honey harvest in January of this year, in fact. While the harvest was not huge, the girls were tremendously productive and the weather warmed so quickly that we were already seeing blooms in February. They got busy and started loading cells with nectar without the winter stores being depleted. Lucky us, given that the late honey run (the end of last year) is the dark honey that a lot of the fam and friends enjoy.

After some fun with the bees, I headed out to the front gardens to sow some carrots and radishes. I figured if the weather is going to stay rather temperate, we could take advantage of that a bit. Before I was able to sow seed, I had to do some weeding to clear the row, and put the black plastic back down on half of it where it had been blown off by the winds. The plastic is supposed to lend me a hand and keep weeding chores down a bit, but it doesn’t do much good if it isn’t in place. But, the row is fully weeded, the irrigation lines back in place, and two types of carrots and two types of radishes are now out there, lurking.

Still not quite done for the day, I jumped on the treadmill for close to 15 minutes, walking and continuing to read toward the finish line of the book currently occupying the lead spot on my Fire. Yes, it is still Vera Stanhope, but I’m getting closer to the end with each walking session – and the thing about this is that my reading is done while walking. So, if I get in two sessions, that’s about 20-30 minutes of reading time, and since I read incredibly quickly, I get a good pace to completion at the same time I get in a nicely-paced walk.

The rest of the evening was spent hunting down peoples’ out of date scripts, deleting bogus files, editing trojan-injected files to remove the bad code and cleaning the spam from affected servers, answering the few tickets that made their way in, and listening to a bunch of holiday music, the youtube links for which I posted to facebook.

No writing. Still. I did come across some commentary about the little voice in one’s head that tells you everything you do sucks. Not from a professional writer or a shrink or any of those sorts. Just a guy I happened to stumble on. His talk raised an interesting point about not fighting with that little voice for me: instead of trying to duel with it, what would happen if we (I) were to grab it, shake it out, and see what’s wrapped up in it that’s causing such stress, preventing you (me) from Getting Shit Done? Naturally, this does not only apply to writing or any other singular thing. It’s as equally applicable to writing as it is to, say, losing ten pounds, or getting a painting into the works, or getting that list of chores done. That is what I am pondering this quiet evening now that the christmas carnage phase is over and we’re drifting into the holiday weekend.

All the best, Faithful Readers. Be well.


Working it out, Dec 23, 2015

Nothing today. No bees (too cloudy, too windy, too much of a pain on a day like this for deep inspections with the girls staying home). No treadmill (too many medical issues combining to make it a bad day, the details of which I will spare everyone because they are gross).

So, today turned out to be a rest day, because I’ve done virtually nothing of use except a few updates, some actual “work” work, and have been randomly watching videos.

Just a reminder that there will be down days – they will pass.