For Lo, the Winter is Past

And of course, everything is blooming, and the landscape is full of road repair personnel.

This particular winter, which showed up early around here and then overstayed its welcome, and which included a three-week subzero deep freeze, was particularly hard on the local infrastructure. Which is to say, the north country is full of potholed roads and busted-up plumbing; also, porch roofs that were previously merely dilapidated emerged from the snow-time as disaster areas requiring demolition and replacement.

Fortunately, my new desktop computer system is now up and running (16G of RAM! Zoom-swoosh!), and my editor-hat has acquired a spiffy new plume: I’m now a paid-up member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.

The Simple Joys of the Editorial Life

My new desktop computer has arrived.

It’s currently still in its box, because I have an editing gig I have to wrap up before I can let myself fall down the rabbit hole that is setting up a new system. But it’s there, and I can hear it calling my name.

Tomorrow I’m going to have to clear up my desk preparatory to moving in the new machine.  That’s going to be the kind of fun that isn’t, but it will be worth it when it’s done.  The new machine has got 16 gigs of RAM, which is twice what my herky little laptop has got, and four times the RAM of my old desktop machine.  The latter was starting to buckle under the weight of Windows 10 even before it developed the fatal case of malware-or-whatever that caused it to spend most of this past winter steadily degrading into a nonfunctional brick; I figure that 16 gigs should hold me through at least a couple more iterations of Windows.

In other news, we had a downy woodpecker on our bird feeder this morning, which is a change from the usual chickadees and assorted LBBs (Little Brown Birds.)

Ah, spring.

I Don’t Know What the Weather Is Doing Where You Are

But where I am, in far northern New Hampshire, it’s snowing.  Again.

We’re under a winter storm warning until 2AM, and it’s been snowing with steady determination since mid-morning. And even after the storm warning has passed, the weather forecast is still calling for snow every day until the weekend.

To which I can only say, “Enough, already!”

This is the sort of weather that takes all of my get-up-and-go and stuffs it into a sack and throws it into a snowbank.

But I have editing jobs to work on, so once more into the breach . . . .

For Your Amusement

Found elsewhere on the web:  Winnie-the-Pooh Noir.

Meanwhile, it’s domain-renewal time again for the Doyle and Macdonald web site, where there can be found links to all sorts of things, including sample chapters from most of our novels and a contact link for our agent, plus a lot of other stuff.  Donations toward its upkeep – because web hosting doesn’t come for free – can be made via the Buy Me a Coffee link in the sidebar here.

Food for Plot

While idly mousing about the internet the other day, I followed a link to this page, which is all about an artist in Texas who’s been re-imagining images of classic Western heroes using female models, with awesome results:

And my thought, instantly, was “Damn, I want to read the books that those are the covers for!”  Because behind every powerful image is a good story.

Happy New Year!

New Year

May the good parts of 2017 stay with us, and may the bad parts recede quickly in the rear-view mirror.

And may 2018 bring all of the good things that we need, and a fair share of the good things we may not need but would like to have anyway, because a little fun and frivolity are good for the soul.

(The best advice my father ever gave me was, “As long as nobody’s getting hurt, ‘just for fun’ is a perfectly valid reason for doing anything.”  My mother, more practical, said, “Make your bed first thing in the morning after you get out of it, or you’ll never make it all day.”  They were both right.)

Vocabulary Expansion Through Homeownership, and Other Lexical Consequences of Choosing to Settle in Northern New Engand.

Let us consider, for example, “soffit.” Until I ended up living in a 19th-century wooden house in deep snow country, I had no idea what a soffit was. I may have been in the vicinity of soffits from time to time, but they had by no means impinged upon my consciousness.

But now I know. Per Wikipedia, “in popular use, soffit most often…refers to the material forming a ceiling from the top of an exterior house wall to the outer edge of the roof, i.e., bridging the gap between a home’s siding and the roofline, otherwise known as the eaves.”

Per my own experience, soffits are those rotted bits under the roof of the upstairs gable windows that I’m going to have to get replaced this spring, right after I get the plumbing fixed and the north side of the roof reshingled.

(Old houses always need the plumbing fixed. I think it’s a rule.)

Winter weather up here provides other items of interest for word nuts, as well. Like this idiomatic tidbit, picked up from listening to the local road crews on the radio scanner: “Be careful up on Titus Hill. It’s getting greasy out there.” Translated out of the north woods accent, what this means is that the previously snow-plowed roads, having been lightly rained on for a few hours, are now in the process of freezing again, and have reached a particularly nasty and treacherous state of slickness.

Good weather for staying in and updating one’s blog, in fact.

Nanowrimo’s Almost Over

And so is my Thanksgiving/Winter Heating Season quickie sale, which ends at midnight on Sunday the 26th of November.

As always, you can make the purchase for yourself or as a gift for a friend, and can collect on it either right away or at a future date.

Meanwhile, I have to trundle out and purchase this year’s turkey and all the rest of the traditional Thanksgiving oddments.

And in honor of the season, a reprise of my 2012 posting of The World’s Easiest Cranberry Sauce recipe:

1 bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

Put cranberries into a small-to-medium-sized saucepan.  Take a moment to make certain there isn’t a twig or a pebble in there by mistake.  (I’ve never encountered one, but everybody says to check, so somebody must have, at least once.)

Add the water and the sugar.  Stir to combine.  It’s probably a good idea to use a wooden spoon, because you’re going to want to stir the mixture some while it’s cooking, and it’s going to get hot.

Put the saucepan on the stove and turn the burner up to high.  Bring the cranberries-water-and-sugar mixture to a furious boil, stirring every now and again.  Keep on boiling it until the cranberries have all popped.

Remove from heat and pour the sauce into a bowl or tureen or what-have-you, so long as what you have isn’t going to melt from the heat.  Put the saucepan in the sink and run some water into it, so that you don’t end up having to remove the cold solidified remnants with a chisel later.  Remember to turn off the stove.

Serve the sauce with turkey, or with pancakes, or with whatever seems good to you.  It’s good warm or cold, either way, and will keep for a day or so in the refrigerator.

Some people fancy this up with lemon peel or other seasonings, but simple is easier and works just fine.

The Free Speech Bargain

Every so often, a voice from the back row asks the plaintive question, “In today’s publishing climate, what am I, as an [insert identify marker or lack of one here], allowed to write about?”

Okay.  Here’s the deal, at least as far as the US of A goes*:

You’re allowed** to write about anything you damned well please.

And everybody else – your mom, your best friend, all the other people in your writers’ group, your editor, the New York Times Review of Books, and total random strangers on the internet – is allowed to say out loud and in public what they thought about it.

The thing about the deal, you see, is that it goes both ways.  And a writer who can’t handle the deal is probably better off pulling an Emily Dickinson and keeping their stuff locked up in their dresser drawer for posterity.


*The world is a large and varied place, and I make no claim to pontificate for all of it.

**With the usual narrow exceptions involving nonexistent fires in crowded theatres, and the like.

 

Sometimes It’s an Analog Problem

For the past few days, I’ve been having really bad audio playback problems on my desktop computer – sounds dropping out, sounds being fuzzy, dialogue on videos suddenly becoming harder to follow.  Because we’d just had a fairly large Windows 10 update, and because I’d just said “The hell with waiting for the bad news, I’m going to switch over to the Firefox 57 Beta now,” I went about searching for a cure for the problem in my Firefox and Windows setups, to no avail.

Then this afternoon I finally wised up, and bethought myself of the maxim that when in doubt, one should always switch in a known good piece of hardware and see if the problem persists.  So I dug out my emergency earbuds (I hate earbuds, so I never use them unless I have to; earmuff-style headphones suit me much better, and keep my ears warm in winter to boot) and unplugged my headphones – whereupon I got a good look at the headphone jack for the first time in a couple of weeks.

And lo, the jack was visibly bent several degrees off true.

I blame the cats, who are in the annoying habit of leaping from the top of my desk to the floor and catching the headphone cord with their hind legs on the way.  I will have to buy a new pair of earmuff headphones this afternoon, and I can see a pair of cordless bluetooth headphones in my future as well.  (I can cheap out on regular wired headphones, because they all break eventually and don’t really get much sturdier until you get into the $100-and-up range, but the wireless ones don’t have anything like the battery life I’d need until they’re well into not-cheap territory.  Also, my desktop computer is sufficiently elderly that I’ll also have to throw in a bluetooth adapter to make it work.)

Anyhow – I plugged in the earbuds, and gave the sound another try.

Yep.  Dead jack on the old headphones was the problem source.

So.  Immediate solution:  earbuds.  Short-term solution: new headphones.  Medium-term solution: wireless headphones+bluetooth adapter.  Long-term solution: New desktop computer.

It’s always nice to have a path mapped out.