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Winter not-so-down time

Hello, dear readers! I know I’ve been away again, and my posts have been slacking profusely. But I’m back! Yay!

This past fall, I made a decision that I’m hoping I’ll stick with. I’m very excited about it, and, since it’s inception, has grown to become a monstrous project.

I want to plant a vegetable garden in my back yard.

Now, for most people, this would be pretty simple. Decide on where to put it, plant the seeds/baby plants, and maintain. However, my life can never be that simple. My back yard is, for lack of a better term, trashed. We’ve got a nice dead branch collection along the back fence, massively overgrown weeds around the shed, and some various trees, including that pesky palm, have made themselves comfortable all the way around the back porch. Not to mention the fact that I don’t have the slightest idea where my septic tank is, and there’s a sturdy, though slightly decrepit picnic table smack dab in the middle of my yard.

So, since I have until mid-February before I have to start planting and taking care of itty bitty green things, I’ve decided that this winter, I’ll fix up the backyard and the back porch, and seriously take some time to rethink my life.

Let’s just take a quick little look-see at my to-do list before Valentine’s day.

First and foremost, I need to dispose of the dead tree limbs, which, I should note, didn’t even come from the tree in my yard. No, the neighbors behind me couldn’t be bothered to haul the branches out to the street before the city switched over to automated trash pick-up, so they just casually dumped them over the fence into out yard. Wasn’t that sweet of them?

Once those are out, I have to cut down/dig up/poison the volunteer trees and weeds cropping up all over the place. I swear, we started with two little palm trees, one in the front, and one in the back, and now, suddenly, we’re up to our noses in them. Their reign of annoyance is coming to a close, though. I’m sorry, Lorax, but these trees have got to go. I’ll also be trimming back a lot of the wanted trees that are blocking out my precious sunlight.

Next goes the “salvaged” trash piled up against the shed; screen doors, half-rotten sawhorses, planks of wood that were going to be used, but that just never managed to happen, and a bird cage that’s a quiet, though sharp reminder of the little feathered friend my brother and I had once upon a time. I might fix that up and make it a decorative plant hanger, or something.

Moving on to the picnic table. I’m actually not totally opposed to keeping it in the yard. While carefully inspecting the wholly disheartening space, I tested the table, and it’s still in semi-decent shape. I will have to scrub it down and sand it smooth, and invest in some carpenter’s putty and varnish, though. I’ll get it all spruced up, and probably leave it right where it is, since it’s directly between where I wanted to plant a couple of apple trees. Just to keep myself from turning my yard completely into a stereotypical housewife garden thing, I think I’ll paint it black. Maybe put some studs in it.

Or a giant devil face in the middle of the table.

No, I’ll probably just see if I can stain it really dark.

Kinda liking the studs, though.

Anyway, I also have to figure out the cheapest way to kill a large patch of grass/weeds without putting a load of chemicals into the soil sand. (Because this is Florida, and we don’t have soil.) I don’t want my garden choked out before I get a chance to test my gardening skills, and honestly, our lawn could use a resent anyway.

And by reset, I of course mean “kill everything and pretend I didn’t feel like a god.”

Sometime during all of this, I’ll figure out where the septic tank is, and rope that off, and then it’s on to the back porch!

That should be less of a time suck, as all I really have to do to prepare it is get rid of all of the junk that’s been sitting there for ten years and clean it up a bit. Granted, me being me, I’ll find a way to make this considerably more complicated than it has to be, such as making an attempt to turn it into a dual-purpose gardening/social area, and I’ll end up running myself ragged before the end of January.

I’m so excited.

Do you any of, my darling readers, have any tips or suggestions for my upcoming projects?

Have any of you had any experience with gardening, or restoring a neglected yard?

Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

Meteor Showers, Thanksgiving, and Christmas bells, oh my!

Well, I’ve been slacking again, I know.But I have an almost legitimate reason this time!

Granted, it was mostly due to not knowing what to blog about until around thanksgiving, and then Thanksgiving happened, and things got tense. Then I forgot I was supposed to blog. Then I remembered and I felt bad.

Anyway, coming up during the indeterminate hours between December 13th and the 14th, the Geminid meteor shower is supposed to dazzle us with hunks of space debris falling through our atmosphere at an alarmingly fast rate.

I’m excited. The last two meteor showers were very disappointing. Not because they didn’t wow me, but because I didn’t get to see them. For the first one, back in early October, I happened to get very sick on the night the space rocks were due to visit, and, instead of giggling and shrieking with delight like some overexcited five year old. I was laid up in bed with a 103 fever. 

But wait! November held the promise of another shower, and you can bet your sweet patooty I was making no plans to get deathly sick, or otherwise engaged for this one. So I stocked up on vitamin c, and prepared to spend most of the night looking up at the stars. But the sky had other plans and seemed to mock me with a completely cloudy sky. And when I say completely, I mean you couldn’t even see the moon glowing from behind the cloud cover. Needless to say, I was livid.

This time, the skies will be clear, I’ll be healthy, and I’ll spend most of the night wondering how I ended up crazy enough to feel like I have to watch every meteor shower ever. Everyone else seems to think “Well, you’ve seen one mass of space junk fall into the atmosphere, you’ve seen ’em all.” Wrong. It’s different space crap this time.

Don’t judge me.

Also, thanksgiving was recently, for all of my American readers. As an American, I was pretty much obligated to produce a magnificent feast of heart-clogging proportions. And I did. Turkey, Stuffing, vegetables, pies, and I only burned myself twice! Go me! We had a decent 22.5 lb turkey, which I brined for around 30 hours (give or take), stuffed, and shoved bacon under the skin. Next year, I’ll probably post a “recipe” when Thanksgiving time swings back around.

I managed to burn myself before I even put the turkey in the oven. This year I preheated the oven, half asleep, forgetting to take the top oven rack out. When I went to go pull it out, it had already had plenty of time to reach the proper temperature, and, me being so wonderfully graceful, let it knock against something else in the kitchen, which sent it right back against my unprotected arm. The long, pink burn scar is still with me, and has just recently started to itch. It’ll be my “Don’t be stupid” reminder when it comes time for me to cook Christmas Dinner.

Speaking of Christmas! The neighbors have put up their traditional Christmas musical lights!

Shoot me.

All night, those twinkling little shits play snippets of beloved holiday carols, and I’m starting to turn into a Grinch because of it. There are only so many times you can hear the first few bars of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” before it starts to make you crazy. Doesn’t help that some of my local shops started their Christmas spiel in mid-October.

 

Well, I don’t have much else to report this time, kids.

Maybe next time I’ll have an amusing anecdote that doesn’t involve me causing myself bodily harm.

Ciao!

 

 

Cheating in November

Now that October is over, and Halloween has come and gone, I really only have two more things to look forward to this year: November and Christmas.

However, before I dive in to my plans for these last two months, let’s take a look back on my surprisingly boring October.

A couple of weeks ago, I got very sick for about a week. High fever, severely swollen throat, etc. It was gross, uncomfortable, and I’m still waiting for my voice to come back.

Before that episode, I volunteered at the haunt for one night. Turned out, they were really short-staffed, and yet, we managed to pull off a pretty great show. I placed top scene in Madhouse, and madhouse placed Top House for the night. No major problems. It was all-in-all a good night.

Yesterday, I carved a pumpkin for the first time. Me being me, I had to go unorthodox, and decided to carve a TARDIS, which, though I was tempted to give up several times, turned out pretty good.

Afterwards, I went Trick-or-treating with my sister, her man, and their son. The itty bitty was dressed as Mario, complete with a mustache that covered half of his face. He also managed to prove that Mustaches make the costume, little kids can make anyone trying to be scary laugh, and a five year old that says “thank you” makes out like a bandit on Halloween.

Now, as November pushes October ahead, thoughts of writing and cooking replace the spiders and zombies, just as paper Turkeys replace felt ghosts in all the major shopping centers. It’s time to begin writing for NaNoWriMo, and planning ways to make thanksgiving dinner better.

As for my writing, I’m picking up a story that I’d put aside for months. Every time I opened the document, I started turning a bit green, so I hid it away, and this month, I’m going to pick it back up and, hopefully, finish it by New Year’s. I suppose, in a way, it’s cheating. I’ve already got 19k words done on it, so I think I’ll reset the word count and just add the 50k words over the next 30 days. This month promises to be about as sleepless as October was last year, and I’m oddly okay with that.

Oh! And the fair! As of yesterday, the Greater Agricultural Fair is now open. Rides, unhealthy, overpriced food, animals, and terrible music make for the perfect wind-down from Halloween, leading back to the obligatorily family-friendly Christmas. Yay!

And of course, the world ends in December, so we have that to look forward to. With any luck, I won’t have to buy anyone Christmas presents.

I can’t stay away.

Last night, I volunteered at my local haunted house again. I know I said I wouldn’t, but, let’s be honest, that slightly sick pleasure you get from scaring people is kind of addicting.

It was nice seeing some of the people I’d worked with in the past, and I had a chance to meet a few new faces, though I didn’t get a chance to talk with them all. Actually, being short-staffed kind of worked out in our favor. We worked better together; crossing into one-another’s scenes, collaborating for the best scares, and generally having a good time, while providing one for the customers. A girl in the scenes behind me affected a foot fetish and followed people around, begging them for their feet, while the customers shuffled away from her, proving foot fetishes are just as creepy as dead mental patients.

At the end of the night was the usual wrap-up meeting, though I noticed the top scenes were now by house, instead of haunt-wide. Madhouse placed first, of course, and yours truly placed top scene in Madhouse. No one who worked with me last year was surprised. Except for me. I was fully prepared to accept defeat. This time.

All-in-all, I had a great time. A lot of people nudged me towards coming back, though, after today, I’m not sure my body can handle it anymore. When I woke up this morning, my feet hurt so badly, I could barely walk, and my body feels like a weightlifting midget’s been bouncing on it while I slept. I don’t remember it hurting this much last year. I suppose this is what I get for not starting in September.

Once I sound less like a frog has taken control of my vocal cords, I’ll think about returning for another night. I missed watching people run away from teenage girls, especially the big, buff guys.

And the nominations are…

Today, a friend of mine took me to see the new movie Frankenweenie. There was no one else in the theater, so we pretty much had a private showing, and it was lovely. However, this post isn’t about that.

When I came home from the movie, I checked my stats and noticed I had a comment on my blog about bullying. From the looks of the preview, I was mentioned in someone else’s post, which made me kind of giddy. I went ahead and checked it out, and it turns out, my dear readers, a fellow blogger had nominated yours truly for something called The Compassionate Communicator Award.

As I’m so very humble, and I never play up my own achievements, I ‘d originally decided to graciously accept the nomination, and pass it on, as per the rules.

But then I realized something.

For the most part, a lot of the blogs I’ve taken the time to read had the “humor” tag, and it was kind of difficult to look through and find the posts that are what I assume to be fitting. It’s not that I have anything against non-comical bloggers, my attention span just drifts too much if I’m not riveted by what I’m reading.

I’d be a terrible book critic.

However, I will instead offer my sincerest thanks to Ad-libb3d, who nominated me, among others. I’m highly flattered that you enjoyed my post enough to mention it in your press conference.

 

Also, who was that man in the trench coat that rushed out of the hall? Was he a friend of yours?

I think I might have offended him when I laughed…

 

NaNoWriMo

November is slinking around the corner somewhere, and every writer knows what that means. National Novel Writing Month. I’ve decided that this year, I will do everything I can to get 50k words done on my original novel. You know, the one I put aside because I would get irrationally angry every time I opened the document. Even if I only get another chapter done on it, that will be something, and I’ll feel accomplished.

Since I’m not working at a haunted house this Halloween season, I’ve got time to finish the background planning that would probably never end up being explained in the novel itself, and get everything in order for the flurry of words that probably won’t fall out of my fingers as soon as November starts. Every week, I’m going to write a short blog documenting my progress, setbacks, and how much hair I’ve pulled out. I suspect Folgers and the local produce market will be profiting greatly from me next month. (I like to eat apples while I write.)

So, fellow writers, now it’s your turn. Do you have a a story in mind for NaNoWriMo, and what kind of unusual tactics do you use to accomplish your word count? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Until the next interesting update,

Ciao!

Discovery, and the useless knowledge that comes with it.

Throughout my short life thus far, I have made many wholly unremarkable discoveries that, as I’ve gotten older, I can’t seem to get rid of. On the other hand, I’ve made some mostly unremarkable discoveries that, to me, seemed profoundly more exciting at the time than they do now, but amuse me to no end nonetheless.

For instance, very recently, within the last few hours, in fact, I have discovered a few things in my attempt to keep myself occupied. I decided, for some now unfathomable reason, that it is a perfectly good idea to make potato chips at one in the morning, without really looking up a decent recipe. It’s not that big of a deal, right? Thinly slice potatoes and stick them in the oven.

Right?

Oh, brain, you well-shielded trickster. At first, I tested them in a small batch in the toaster oven, and it didn’t fare too badly, though I practically had to burn the slices to a crisp to keep them from being chewy. And I believe I over salted them. I had a chip about half an hour ago, and haven’t been able to drink enough water since.

Whilst waiting on these to finish, I got impatient and wanted to see what would happen if I microwaved a slice. This turned out significantly better than the toaster trial, and I was pleasantly surprised at how crispy and evenly cooked they ended up.

Well, my microwave had other plans, after the third batch of about 6 chips. Halfway through a cycle, it just stopped, and a very brief, very faint smell of overheated electrical wires emanated from the lifeless contraption. It’s working again now, but let that be a warning to anyone who wants to supplant their normal potato chip intake with home-microwaved crispies, at some point, your microwave will tell you it’s time to stop and go to bed.

So, the last two batches are being made in the conventional oven, and I’ve finally learned what the squigly shaped long grater side is for on my multi-sided grater. At first I’d assumed that some people just like weird squigly shaped cheese, but no! I was mistaken! And, oddly enough, these thick sliced wavy chips are cooking better than my painstakingly hand-sliced thin chips were.

I’ve given up on salting them. I have a sneaking suspicion salt reacts adversely to some government-born chemical now present in modern potatoes, and the grain come alive and multiplies in an evil plot to ruin your food. If I’m right, they’re almost certainly in cahoots with the bottled water companies.

Also, while trying to find out if this is already a thing, or if I made a new thing, I learned there is a stackable tray specifically designed for making potato chips in the microwave. So, just in case any of my lovely readers would like to surprise me on some gift-giving occasion…

Did I mention you look ravishing tonight?

Well, damn.

Due to an unfortunate hardware issue with my laptop, and the fact that I’ve been just a bit too busy for my liking lately, I may not be posting again for a while. 

I’m also trying to stay off the internet as much. Because, you know. Addictions and such.

Update, though. Both of my best friends are now out of state, and I’m taking this time to work on other relationships.

I made a kick-ass chicken stew. Yes, you can make a stew with something other than beef.

Spices. They do wonders.

I’ll probably end up posting a rough recipe for that on [insertdatethatIprobablywon’tremember].

Also, as haunt season gets closer, I find myself feeling as though this Halloween is going to be, for lack of a better phrase, complete crap.

No scaring, no justified costumes, just a trickle of candy-crazed kids demanding sugary goodness.

Sigh.

Well, ciao for now, dear readers. My next post will hopefully actually somewhat resemble humor.

Public Service Announcement: CCLS

It’s come to my attention that a previously age-specific form of psychosis is spreading quite rapidly outside it usual range, and that the general public is still mostly unaware of how likely this illness is to show up in the people they love.

What is this illness?

CCLS (Or CLS, for those who are only slightly eccentric) is a condition where the brain receives excessive signals in the sympathetic and pleasure centers whenever the subject encounters an animal, usually a cat, in a non-domestic setting. Acute cases involve these signals sending in any setting regardless if the animal in question is physically there, or if it’s an image, and the subject to believe that the animal cannot survive without them.

 

How to tell if someone is suffering from CCLS

Mild and moderate symptoms include a strong affinity for cats, owning anywhere from two to six cats, setting aside a budget for cat accessories, obliviousness to cat hair on furniture and clothes, and a sort of “sixth sense” for the presence of cats.

Severe cases can involve owning upwards of ten cats, preferring feline company over human company, frequently changing any conversation to or incorporating cats into the subject, referring to their cats as “my children”, often feeding and/or adopting strays, and owning excessive amounts of cat accessories.

 

What to do if a loved one if suffering from CCLS

Subjects experiencing CCLS should be handled with caution. Judgement or removal of their cats can cause extreme trauma or distress. Loss of one of their cats can be as devastating as the loss of a friend or family member.

If you discover a loved one is experiencing CCLS, be careful how you go about confronting them. Bluntly telling them they’re becoming or have become a Crazy Cat Lady could upset them, at which point the best course of action is to hand them a kitten and hope that distracts them from the fact that you just called them crazy.

 

I hope this was an informative and helpful announcement, and that this syndrome can be recognized as a serious mental condition.

Or, you know, a lifestyle.

I love cats.

Until next time.

Ciao!

Yet another short hiatus. Also, Wings!

I apologize, but I’d gotten sucked into the TARDIS and only just made it back to my own time stream.

Anyway, I thought I’d make today’s blog a little DIY manual for my crafty friends out there.

“What cute craft project do you have in store for us?” You’re probably not wondering. Well, this one is multipurpose! Yayyy!

You can use it for a costume, or if you just want to sit in a public area and confuse the hell out of the random passerby, or if you’re into whimsical photography, or if you’re into whimsical hipster pictures taken with instagram. Whatever your fancy, this is pretty neat.

Pretty wings for people who like to be difficult.

You will need:

Old stockings or pantyhose in whatever color floats your boat

Several wire hangers or a spool of thick wire.

Wire cutters. Nice heavy ones.

Needle-nose pliers. or whatever pliers you fancy.

Incense stick (Alternatively, you can use a hot pointed metal thing, but I’m assuming my readers are as… special… as me, and the hot pointed metal thing is probably a bad idea.)

Glitter!

Glue

Thinner wire

Electrical tape (Or duct tape, but electrical holds up better for this.)

Two long ribbons

Hot glue. (Adult supervision required. This goes for you, too, Kristen.)

Your choice of paint. (Optional. The glitter’s optional, too, but let’s face it, who passes up glitter?)

Have all your supplies? Let’s get to it!

Step 1: Shape

The size of your wings depends on the number of wire hangers or the amount of thick wire you’re using. You can make teeny tiny ones for a baby or some poor defenseless pet, or great big ones, it’s really up to you. Just remember that the nylon stockings only stretch so far. Unless you’re going for a patchwork look, and I’ll get to that later. This is a basic how-to.

First and foremost, untwist and straighten the hangers or thick wire as best you can. You can clip them to size or twist some together now if you like. Now pretend you’re a bender robot and bend that wire into a basic wing shape. Add curvy bits if you like or just do a rounded-ish wing like a flutterby. (Ever notice all my tutorials have a lot of “Your choice”s in them?) Make sure the ends of your wire can come together, and use your pliers to twist the ends tightly and wrap them in thinner wire and electrical tape. You don’t want wire ends stabbing you while you’re trying to pretend you’re a fairy. Unless you’re into that.

Rinse and repeat for another wing, and a second lower set, if you want a nice full set of wings.

Got the shape now? No? Well, somebody doesn’t like to follow directions. I’m not waiting for you.

Step 2: Stretchy stretchy

Assuming you’ve kept the elasticity of the nylon stockings in mind, your frame should fit just fine into it. If it’s looser than you anticipated, simply stretch is out more and clip to fit. To secure it, you can either melt the opening a little, or just tape it up with electrical tape. I always recommend the tape.

Always.

Moving on.

Step 3: Decorate and make a huge mess.

Now you get to do the fun part. Paints, glitter, glue, leaves, dangly bits, small dogs, whatever you want to decorate your wings with, have at. You can use a lit incense stick or hot metal poky thing to melt controlled designs in the nylon, as long as you’re careful, Kristen.

Once you’re done decorating, there’s one last step. Ready? No? Okay, let’s move on.

Step 4: Ribbons. Ribbons everywhere!

Arrange your wings the way you’d want them while you’re wearing them, secure them with lots of tape and wire, and then attach your ribbons so they can be tied over your shoulders. You can substitute elastic bands, but what’s the fun in that? What? Oh yeah, it’s easier. Whatever floats your goat.

Now let everything dry completely.

Completely, Kristen.

Once that’s all done, tie those babies on and run around your local shopping mall like a kid whose mom doesn’t care if they get diabetes.

Hope you enjoyed my serious, informative tutorial on a completely serious project. I’ll be back next time with a somethingsomethingsomething.

Ciao!