125 – happy insomniac

Up at 4 a.m. this morning. Promised Corey I’d never say 4:13 again. He finds that kind of precision funny. I would say I don’t know why… but I do, ’cause I find it funny when other people do it, but only when they add vague qualifiers to it, like “almost 4:13.” We are weirdly alike for two people that on the surface are not so much… But that’s probably what makes us work as a couple. At any rate, woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I figured I’d rattle off a few paragraphs.

Not a lot of plans for the weekend, other than to get into town in time to check the mail, pick up some ranch stuff, pick up some grocery stuff… get back home and work on the craft project that I’m up in the middle of–it’s a gift, so my lips are sealed. Am taking pictures.

My only other ambition is to get our van up and listed on a couple of websites. If you know anyone who might be in the market for an extended body 2002 Ford Econoline E350 cargo van, with a 7.3L diesel engine, let us know. It’s in good shape, two brand new tires and two good ones, just passed inspection a few months back. It’s very clean inside because we’re clean freaks. We stripped it down to the metal inside, repainted the inside floor and put it back together again. It does have a ladder rack for the top. The picture below is not a picture of THE van, it’s a picture of A van, same year model, same body type, frame, etc. I’ll replace it when I get a moment to get out and take pictures, if it’s not raining once the sun’s up this morning.

We had planned to kit it out as a weekend camping van, and it has room enough for a 2002-ford-econoline-cargo-van-058-p3queen-size bed in it, but we are just too busy to get it done… and enjoy just exploring the ranch on the rare weekend where we have time to just enjoy the weekend together. Plus, we like sleeping in our own bed now that we’re older. Camping, bluntly, kinda sucks.

But, I digress.

We’ll be listing the van for $6,500. Someone will want it just for the engine, according to my mechanically expert husband, who says it has 3/4 of a million miles of run-time left on it. Don’t know the mileage offhand, but I gather these engines run for decades. I know jack about engines, but know Corey wanted the van because of the engine, with eventual intent to tow a bumper-pull trailer, use the van for extra storage and the trailer for living space.

All I know is, rather than let it sit, someone who can use it ought to be using it. So if you know someone who might be interested, flag me down and let me know.


124 – light dawns, habit calls

As the sun rises on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, 2015, 6:51 a.m: We do not forget. To those who thank living veterans, we appreciate it–but please give the day’s respect to those who paid with their lives for our freedom. Raise a glass in their honor; celebrate their names. Remember them. We do.

I was looking outside to see if it was light enough to run yet, and decided MemorialDayto check and see when sunrise actually was these days in these parts… and it would be, oh, now.

Didn’t run yesterday and felt guilty as sin–may have finally developed a good habit. Only took me what, eight weeks? They do say it takes 27 repetitions to develop a habit, and considering I’m unusually slow, especially when it’s something I should be doing, I’m figuring a little over double isn’t too bad… 🙂 I’ll take it.

The final proof copy of “She’s Thinking Out Loud,” my book of collected columns, is uploading (for the seventh time) as I write this. The digital copy is out for review, and my apologies to my reviewers, as I set a deadline for them of this weekend, my head being so far up my own backside that I totally forgot that for normal people it’s a three-day weekend. So I re-sent my e-mail and asked them to get reviews back to me by June 1, and if I get them at all, I’ll be grateful.

There’s space in the print reserved for them, and they’ll be inserted after the final print proof is in my hands. Woo-hoo, second book will be out in June, people!

And, speaking of books (and you knew I would) if you happen to be around Fort Stockton, Texas, on June 11, at 6 p.m., stop in at The Garage, Coffee, Music & More, at 1110 N. Main St., for “Meet the Author,” where I’ll be presenting a few selections from This Little Pig, A Flak Anders Mystery. The first 40 people seated will be able to buy a signed first edition of the book. It’s my first book in print, as well as my first novel.  Bring cash, I don’t accept credit cards yet! 😀

112 – all those naps I hated in kindergarten

I’m sitting here gently sipping on a cup of coffee as I write this–well, 3/4 cup of coffee and the rest almond milk, among other adulterations.  Since June of last year, this is maybe my fourth or fifth cup of coffee.  Didn’t stop for any hoity-toity reasons–the smell of coffee nauseated me during a particularly rotten cold, and I switched over to hot tea.  Never really went back to coffee.

However, since that point, I’ve also started napping. A lot.

For instance, the first three days of this week, I’ve slept between an hour and three hours nap1every afternoon. Corey laughs every time I say anything about feeling guilty, but I honestly do. You know that 1 or 2 p.m. slump, where you end up going to get a candy bar? I either stretch out on the couch or go crash in the bed. (Please note, I work from approximately 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. every morning, online, at my virtual job.)

After my nap, about 4 or 4:30, I take a shower, and I’m ready for dinner and my evening with my husband.nap2

In the last six or seven months, I’ve napped more than I ever have in my life. The first time I said something about it to Cor, he said something about me not being a spring chicken. Then he saw the look in my eye. Now he just chuckles every time I say something about it, but words like “hibernation” are pretty much uttered under his breath. Probably wise.nap4

So, I’m experimenting on myself to see if coffee will change the pattern.

Why? Guilt, I guess.

For the past decade, I’ve seldom slept more than six hours a night, and most nights closer to four hours. I was obscurely proud of that – probably that Puritan work ethic that celebrates work and struggle over comfort in every instance.  Hate being stereotypical. Still feel guilty, though.nap3

So, last night, I was trying to convince myself it was a good thing… giving myself the pep talk, you know.

  • “You’re just catching up from all those years of not getting enough sleep…”
  • “It’s not like you have anywhere to be or anything you have to get done–you’ve already completed your workday!”
  • “Every woman in the world would love to have the opportunity to take a nap in the afternoon…”

And, of course, from that last one, the imp that sits at the back of my mind popped up and said,

“I am woman, hear me snore!”

I give up.

Waiter, more coffee!

109 – love this old house

Moved from one house to another here on the ranch the week before Thanksgiving, and I’m not sure it’s possible to get much happier.

It’s a more spacious house than the converted bunkhouse we lived in before, and it’s a hugely more spacious yard for Daysie Dog, but that’s not why I love it.

As hard as we tried, we never really truly made the bunkhouse into ours. I honestly don’t know why.

Maybe it was easier in this place just because the kids got here the same week we moved in, and even helped us move the last bits and pieces and put the pictures up. Putting pictures up usually takes me months. This time they were up in the first week.

Honestly, I feel so at home that I almost feel guilty. We’ve spent a huge number of our spare hours for the last six months looking for what we hoped would be our “forever home,” the place where we will go when we retire, whenever that may be. Even took a week’s vacation to search this last summer. Got really close to putting an offer in on a place. Withdrew it. Too much work, too far away, too, too… whatever. It wasn’t right, so we didn’t do it.13-Living Room from Dining Room

Found another place in nearby Sanderson, and we were really intrigued. Well, “nearby” in Texas terms, about 45 minutes away. It had so many things we really wanted, but again, got spooked for a number of reasons and withdrew the offer.

Now I’m fully aware that the place we now live in, no matter how much I love it, will never be ours. It’s owned lock, stock and barrel by Corey’s employers. They supply housing for us in order to have him here, where they need him, day or night, weekend or weekday, not an hour away in town.

We do not own this house. We never will. This cannot be our “forever home.” (Talking to myself here, can you tell?)

So why does it make me feel so happy and so settled?

I honestly don’t know.

I do, however, have my suspicions.

I think part of it is that the bunkhouse was built to house the unrelated men who worked the ranch. This place, on the other hand, was built to be a home for a family.  There is history here, and it simply feels like a home and not a building.

I think another reason is because there was so much attention to detail in building this place. The beautiful stone tile floors you see in the picture above are throughout the house, except for the bedrooms, where there is carpet the same color as the caliche dust. Caliche dust is just part of the deal when you live on a ranch. It’s also open plan, very much like the house we someday had dreamed of building for ourselves.

It’s possible that another part of it is that I know, by the ranch owners moving us in here, how much they think of Corey and the work he does for them. It’s a big vote of confidence, this house–and well-deserved. He’s an amazing man, and he both thrives and excels in this work and home environment.

It may be that it’s because there’s a separate office, with a door, where I can walk away from my virtual job and keep it separate in ways that were just impossible in the bunkhouse.

It may be because there’s a dishwasher. Which does, indeed, make me just as happy as I thought it would.

It’s also vaguely possible that I just have an itch to move every so often, and this scratched the itch. Good Lord, I hope that’s not it.

Whatever the reason, I feel truly at home for the first time in a long, long time.

Let’s see… Corey’s 45 this year, if he works until 72, we could live here for, oh, 27 years.  I can see that.

I just went back and counted. I’ve moved 27 times since the year I entered kindergarten in Black Eagle, Montana. I was married for 27 years to my ex-husband before I bolted… Coincidence?

Well, yeah. But still… kinda cool!

104 – peaceful Sunday morning

Laundry in the washer and dryer is such a comforting sound… along the lines of “all’s right with the world.” As long as you’re doing your laundry in your house and not a laundromat. Then it’s leaning on the dryer watching all the weird and homeless people and hoping no one talks to you.

Whoops! Sorry, channeling my younger self.washerdryer

The windows are open throughout the house, as the temp outside and inside is about the same, mid-60s. I love fall.

So many things to be happy about, and not enough time to name them all… the ability to be this blissed-out begins and ends with the man in the bedroom who is playing a video game where he builds civilizations and wars with others.  My desk is a few steps from the bedroom door, and I’ve already brought him his second cup of coffee… The soundtrack of swords clashing, and men shouting is muted, but puts him squarely in the world he’s building.  It’s his form of relaxation. Don’t ask him if he’s winning. It’s not that kind of game, I gather.

In my own game of always and forever challenging myself to continuing to learn, I’ve been reading a lot of business articles off LinkedIn. It’s one of my favorite business-oriented places to hang out, and recently, I’ve started writing posts there, as well.

I’m feeling very pleased, as a recent post of mine got publicized by the editors there.  The post was about the public outcry around a statement by the current CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella. I took the contrarian view, that he wasn’t wrong for saying what he said. I’m not a contrarian, necessarily, but I continue to believe he wasn’t wrong. The happy part? As of this writing, nearly 13,000 people actually viewed the post, and 74 gave it a thumbs up. More than 40 commented on it, as well.

Thirteen thousand is more than have ever visited this blog, even if I line y’all up end-to-end. Which would just be weird anyway, and why should you sit still for it?  Plus, you’re all in different states, both geographically and states of mind; it would be like trying to herd cats.

I find myself taking positions like the one on Nadella’s statement because I’ve believed for so long that there is a  middle ground between feminism (and environmentalism, and most “isms”) and real life. If you’re that interested in my philosophy, it’s probably closest to humanism. And yes, I’m aware of the irony in endorsing an “ism” at this stage in this paragraph.

However, like so many of the others, there’s middle ground there, as I am less on the philanthropic side than the ethical substructure without regard to the transcendent. Which pretty well describes how I feel–if we can’t tell what’s right and wrong without referring to an instruction book, then we are hardly mature, now, are we?

Humanism’s drive for ad fontes, or “back to the source” for education is what drove my position with what Nadella said. If we don’t consider the source of the information and the intent, then we haven’t got a leg to stand on when we criticize. Most who took a position considered the official source–Nadella as CEO of Microsoft. That, to me, is not who Nadella is, it’s what he does. Nadella has spent most of his life being someone other than CEO of Microsoft – how could he be expected to channel Bill Gates that quickly?

Anyway, there’s the thoughtstream for the week. Hope you have a lovely and peaceful Sunday, if that’s what day you’re on, and a wonderful week…

101 – life is an adventure

We’re doing the last walkthrough this morning before signing the contracts for a building in Sanderson, about a half hour south of where we live. The town doesn’t have any amenities, and the population is under a thousand people. There are a lot of reasons why it’s attractive to us as a place to buy, beginning with the fact that there is no zoning in a town this small.

And, when I say “building,” I mean it. We’re not looking at a house–but a building with three office suites, one of which is usable now, plus a 1300 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsquare foot space that would make a very nice apartment (and no zoning means we can if we choose). There’s also a 44 x 40 workshop, which you can’t see in the picture, as it’s directly behind the building. Guess which part Corey’s in love with? 🙂

So, basically we’re buying a strip mall with a garage. No tenants at the moment, or possibly ever.  We haven’t decided whether we want to try to turn it into an income property. There are good things and bad things about renting out space for anything.

We’ve always trusted our instincts–possibly more than we should, but considering our lot in life continues to improve, I think we’re right a little more often than not. And, along the way, we’ve paid a little bit (OK, a fair amount… OK, quite a bit) of what I call “stupid tax.” Most of it was before we met–but we did get into a one-year lease when we went up to Oregon, and on reflection, that was a mistake.  And we paid for it.

But we learn–when I went to Alpine to take on the managing editor job, I only signed a three-month lease, which turned out to be a really, really good idea in the end. Who knew that, less than a month after I started, I was going to be offered a job that paid twice the money for half the hours and that I can work from home? I couldn’t even think about turning it down. It effectively doubled my salary, because one of my two editor paychecks a month was going to the rent and utilities. Here at home, of course, that doesn’t apply.

There are other things in the offing–am in discussions about starting my own business as a subsidiary of the business I’m working for now. Don’t know if it will work out in the end, but it’s something to think about really hard.


Also looking at a van much like the one in the picture. We had to get rid of the big F350 truck once we got to the ranch, for a number of reasons, but it basically bought the little Chevy Cruze I’m running around in now.

But with a building to renovate, plus some post-retirement plans to RV around the country with a bumper pull trailer someday, a vehicle that’s a tad bigger than the Cruze will be necessary.  We’ve been looking for one for months now, as we knew we’d need one. Not intensely, just looking. And we may have found one yesterday. Looks a lot like the one in the picture, but it’s a 2003 with a 7.3l diesel engine. The year model means no computers to futz with, which means that Corey can pretty much fix anything that goes wrong with it, which is very reassuring.

It will tow pretty much any trailer out there, albeit with gas mileage that is pretty sucky, but then they all are.  The key for us is that with that roof rack and the internal space, it gives us the ability to haul any construction materials we need right now… And the price is good.

Thinking about all this is much like standing on the diving board at Balmorhea. Scary, but a good scary. And the chance that we’re going to turn around and walk away from the building are approximately zero at this point unless we see something like a portal to hell behind one of the doors in this morning’s walkthrough. Corey will be able to look at the engine in the van and drive it this week Tuesday.  And becoming my own business again? Well, that will come when it comes. Or not.

Every one of these things could fall through–or they could all come true. Or any combination thereof.  You know, life’s an adventure, peoples… and we continue to live it at our pace and no one else’s.

98 – specialization is for insects

For the long-suffering who are nearly to my hundredth post with me on this exploration of my narcissistic, navelicious exploration of my not-so-tortured psyche, you know that the ttaadd in the title of the blog stands for the deliberately tongue-in-cheek trials and tribulations of the adult attention deficit–look, squirrel! set…

But in my current insomniac iterative process, as I was going over the order of business for tomorrow morning, it occurred to me that it was less about attention deficit (deficit being defined as “the amount by which something is too small,“) than attention fracture. Admittedly, part of the attention issue is span–but I am honestly capable of moving into that state of “flow” characterized by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a form of hyperfocus. I’ve done it for hours at a time in both work-related and personally-oriented activities or projects over the years.

However, at the moment, I have both the time and space for my mind to bounce from one focus to another… and am in a position where I can actually track that. I’m working part-time from home, and part of that commitment is tracking my time by project. And, since it’s part-time, I have the luxury of also working on things that are personally interesting to me in between, as my commitment to my work is four out of approximately sixteen waking hours, and not at a particular time, but of my own choice.

So this morning, I began with my usual Internet flippage, popping around various things that interested me… then did some database cleanup for work. Then I revised a resume and cover letter for a friend-in-law. Then worked on an afghan that I’m finishing up. Then some work-work, going through a matrix submitted by a bid writer. Then getting an experiment set up in free-motion quilting. Then back to the afghan.

Then lunch.  Then submitting a bio and a poem for publication for the writers’ group I’m in, then more work-work, to get a qualifications spreadsheet set up… and I won’t bore you with the rest–you get the idea. Tomorrow, throw in making bread, writing a quick qualifications letter for submission with the spreadsheet, plus job descriptions, and running for an hour, as well as the rest, except the afghan, which is finished. But I’m working on another one already, so keep it in the list. And I’m back to actively writing again, as well, more than just the blog. It’s an itch that needed scratching.

It seems chaotic, no? So does my workroom, which at one point today had a laptop on the ironing board beside the quilt squares, and another laptop directly opposite on a TV tray, and there is still the free-motion piece in the sewing machine ready for the next experimental pattern…

And oh, glory, I’m happy. And as unstressed as I can remember being in my adult life.

The quote in the graphic below is from one of my favorite characters and one of my favorite authors. It’s something Corey and I have discussed a time or two–specialization in any species can be and often is the death knell for their existence on this planet. The omnivores (like us) and the raccoons and the coyotes–we thrive on almost anything.

Just a thought.