128 – and the beat goes on

Oh my word, I haven’t posted here since August. Since no one is protesting, I’ll just have to assume y’all haven’t missed me. That should make me sad, but it actually makes me feel a little less pressured.

So, since August, I:

  • Completed the contract at the restaurant, and handed it over to a new manager. My opinion of him will remain unwritten–he’s still there as I’m writing this, so it’s been seven weeks, as he started right at the beginning of October. I hope, for the Mitchell’s sake, he makes a success of it. Scuttlebutt around town is not good, but then, it seldom is about most things.
  • Am 11,000 words into Flak Be Nimble, the sequel to This Little Pig, which makes me very happy and annoyed at the same time. I used NaNoWriMo to jump into it, and have struggled to get in gear. I did great for the first week and a half, and been just eking it out ever since. Minor proof is… I’m writing in this blog for the first time in THREE MONTHS, because I’ll do anything to not be writing in the novel. I should be 40,000 words in, and I’m just over a quarter of that…
  • Bought a warehouse with Corey. And an RV storage lot, as the property came with a half-acre lot, hurricane fenced, triple-strand barbwire headed. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Still standing empty… but that’s not really why we bought the property anyway.
  • Stopped writing my column for the 90 days I was at the restaurant–as I know I suck at multi-tasking and might not have time to do the column justice. Jody Bailey Day, one of the most amazing people I know, ably stepped in and did a Mayberry serial, which was awesome.
  • Went back to writing my column a couple weeks back, and totally spaced that this week was Thanksgiving, so just wrote an everyday column to turn in this Sunday… 🙂 Corey and I don’t really plan to do anything but bake a ham on the day, and otherwise kind of ignore the whole thing. He is busy-busy with stuff for the ranch and will probably work through the four-day weekend… and I have to be in town on Friday evening anyway.  Hmm…

So, it’s been an interesting 90 days. Life never stands still, does it?


81 – designing irony

In cprototype1ontact with an old friend in the business, who reached out to me last night to ask if I’d write a continuity/disaster recovery plan for his business.  I gave him a bid, and he’ll be getting back to me soon, one way or the other. I find myself distinctly neutral–oh, I’ll absolutely do it for him; it will take me at most a couple of days and a some research, plus sitting down with them for an hour or two to get the bits of information I have to have. I’ll enjoy it, actually, and it will be the best it can possibly be, and satisfy all governmental and other requirements for the document.

The irony, and of COURSE there is irony–I apparently live at the corner of north irony and southbound mule these days–comes from the fact that the one thing I find myself utterly uninterested in doing these days is writing. Creative writing that is, as opposed to technical writing.  I belong to a writers’ group that would probably actually like to see my face on occasion, whether virtually or otherwise, and since I’m not writing, I don’t go… And no, I don’t count this blog. Not sure what that says about me.

However, what is truly flipping all my creative switches at the moment is design. I’ve dabbled in it some, with designing furniture which my husband built with me and made into reality.  In fact, the purse shown above is hanging on the hall tree we created. The purse is also of my design, and completely of my making. The spurring event was that I actually broke down and bought a grown-up woman’s wallet, and needed something to put it in. I’ve always carried a wallet that would fit in the back pocket of my jeans.  The only time I actually carried a purse was to smuggle a bottle of water and some string cheese into movie theatres… sorry, but I’m NOT paying $4 for a 50-cent bottle of water. Anyway,  the two purses I actually own are both ugly as sin… and when I complained about that, my husband shrugged and said, “So make one.” So I did.

prototype2The ickiest thing about purses is that we drag them everywhere, set them down on floors, bathroom counters, etc., and there’s no way to clean most of them. So the first requirement was that it would have to be washable.  Second one was that, if I got tired of looking at the design, I didn’t want to have to go make or buy another purse, so I really wanted it to be reversible, with a completely different look inside.  So I made it that way.  There are some things I want to add into the design, including integrated pockets for cellphones and/or reading and sunglasses, but that will be on the second one that I’m working on now.

Oh, and I’m in the middle of putting together a queen-sized quilt. When I hit a snag on the purse thing, I go back to the quilt for a bit, which is more straightforward.  The design process… That’s where my mind stays these days. When I’m silent, that’s probably what I’m thinking about.  What’s most fascinating about this to me is that for decades of my life, I’ve refused to carry a purse, even when I probably needed to… now thoughts about their design occupy a fair part of my waking life. Irony…

One of my all-time favorite authors, Spider Robinson, through one his characters, said: “If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron.” And of course, because I apparently cannot escape the concept today… in order to quilt anything well, you better know how to iron.  I’ve probably used an iron and ironing board more in the last few months than I have since I first went in the military and had to iron everything all the way down to my t-shirts.

I’m going to go turn on some loud music and work out and quit thinking about anything except the music and the sweating. I think all this solitude may be making me loopy. Onward and upward, peoples.

60 – silence of the yams

Did you know that sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing?  Oddly enough, I did.  Never actually cooked a yam, but I love sweet potatoes, and seriously, there are things made from sweet potatoes that should be banned in every state. The worst offender is the candied sweet potatoes (often mistakenly called “candied yams,”) that so many people serve at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.  Throwing mini-marshmallows on top of canned and chunked sweet potatoes that have added brown sugar compounds the sticky sweetness in every layer.  It’s also texturally challenging, the final straw  for me.  Not sure why, but it always felt like eating a boneless finger.  Ish.

Half sweet potato, half russet/white potato, mashed with butter, milk, parmesan, salt and pepper.  Oh yes, and some steak.
Half sweet potato, half russet/white potato, mashed with butter, milk, parmesan, salt and pepper. Oh yes, and some steak.

The absolute best way to cook a sweet potato is to wash it and put it on the top rack of a gas grill with the cover closed.  Leave it there about 30 to 45 minutes before you begin to grill your meat or other vegetables. Smaller ones will cook faster, bigger ones need more time.  When it’s done, you can wrap it in foil to keep it hot while everything else gets cooked.  To eat, cut a slit in the peel, or completely remove the peel and add butter and salt to the bright orange flesh, to taste.  That’s all.  Nothing else.

Please raise your right hand and solemnly swear to never candy a sweet potato again.  Ever.  Under pain of having to eat the buggerty things. Yuck.

If it’s too blustery or rainy to grill, you can  also add sweet potatoes to your white potatoes to make mashed.  Peel both kinds, and cut into cubes that are one or two inches on a side.  Add them to a pot of boiling water.  Turn down to a simmer, cook until a fork goes into a chunk of white potato very easily.  Drain the water off the potatoes, then add a little milk, a lot of parmesan cheese, butter, salt, pepper and anything else that you like in your mashed potatoes. Gives mashed potatoes an amazing richness, depth of flavor, and slight sweetness. Very yummy.

I honestly did not start this blog to be a recipe fest–this is just where my mind has been of late.

My layoff in October from my high-pressure, high-stakes job came with a severance pay that enabled us to be finally debt-free. Yesterday, we received the title to the truck, our last debt finally paid. It’s quite an accomplishment.  Both of us have lived with debt our entire adult lives. This job of his, coming with a house, all expenses paid, and a company truck, now gives me the time and the space to decide what’s next for me, with zero pressure to do so. I don’t even know how to act without debt AND without a job.

I’ve found that, for me, the highest purpose of my days has been the care and feeding of my entirely amazing husband.  After a 12- hour day yesterday, he is also working today, Saturday.  Watched him drive off an hour ago, hauling a bulldozer on a flatbed semi-trailer through these single-lane dirt roads, with precipices galore. He’s headed to a site about 30 miles south of the house (and still on the ranch we live on, which always boggles me).  Nothing worthwhile is ever easy–but he loves his job, not least because he has great respect for his boss. It’s something we both have found to be quite rare.

As for me, when I’m not baking bread, sewing, cleaning, cooking, or doing laundry, I’m writing, as you can tell by this blog.  I am also working out, and losing weight (six pounds in the last three weeks) and thinking a lot while I’m getting sweaty.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

54 – highly divisible

I’ve been enjoying myself so much writing out the recipes in these blog pages that I decided to purchase a couple of domain names to give myself a place to post them.  I’m now the proud owner of reluctantcook.com and reluctantrecipes.com.  With these and my book review site, and of course, this site, I will be able to write to my heart’s content.

When I went to purchase the first of the domains, I ran across a site called reluctantgourmet.com, and that’s exactly the opposite of what I want to post.  It appears to be a place for the foodies to go to learn how to be a gourmand. My idea is a blog that has recipes for the non-pretentious.  It will be for those who don’t subscribe to the foodie outlook, but are tired of eating fast food.  People who want to eat and to make for their friends or significant other some regular people food… like tuna casserole, taco bake, enchiladas, fresh bread, home made pizza, spaghetti sauce.

The last post I put up was number 53, a prime number.  Have I mentioned that I’m kind of a numbers freak? Prime numbers always seem to set off a cascading set of changes, directions, movement.  Or maybe I’m just a geek.  Once I’ve put together a set of recipes, I’ll link the new site to this one. Such fun!

48 – Sunday morning coming down

If you listened to country music growing up, the title of this post started a tune in your head… I’ve always felt it was one of the most mournful songs ever, in any genre–Kris Kristofferson wrote it, Johnny Cash sang it…you can hear it here, if you don’t remember it.

clouds used to symbolize blue-sky thinking, now it's about where your stuff is stored... for me, it's both
clouds used to symbolize blue-sky thinking, now it’s about where your stuff is stored… for me, it’s both

That’s exactly how I don’t feel.  Not sure why it was in my head.

This is Sunday… I’ve got the washer and dryer going, can hear them from my office space… my second cup of coffee is nearly empty, the tippity-tap of the keys gets yet another song stirring on the soundtrack that underlies my life these days. Our biggest chore to finish today is hanging up pictures, clocks, the TV, and so on.

Corey and I have done an awful lot of talking over the last few weeks, as I’ve gotten the Views & Reviews website up and running. Am I going the right direction?  Good grief, I don’t know. But, I’m going to stop picking at it and just do it…Corey is handing me on a plate the best possible opportunity to work for myself, to do what I choose instead of what I must.

Oh, I’ve tried before–I started a technical writing company in 1996 with a college friend, ended that as I left Las Vegas when I graduated. Started my own web design company in 2002 but couldn’t support our house payments on the salary my ex was making, so had to branch out into consulting. Started a bookselling business in 2006 that ended ignominiously, a casualty of my divorce. None of them were failures as such, they just didn’t end up being raging successes–other than the first one, and its success was more to my partners’ credit than mine.

However, as Corey reminded me yesterday, my consulting work is the reason we are where we are–I don’t have to make money right now, because we were able to pay everything off while I was working.

So, here I sit trying to figure out what I must do, when I need to figure out what I WANT to do.  I want to write book reviews.  I want people to read them and decide for themselves whether to go buy the book–if they use my links, that fine, but I don’t depend on those links to make a buck.  I want to review what’s interesting, not what’s selling most.  I want people to believe me when I say that none of my reviews are paid for… I won’t review something to make a buck.

In the e-publishing world, it’s getting harder and harder to trust what you read–but you can trust what I write. That’s what I want to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.

Back down from the cloud now, I think I’ll go change the laundry over. Happy Sunday, my peeples…


Image courtesy of Levy News Network.

47 – working hard, doing what I love

logo for the new website
logo for the new website

Just finished my third review for Views & Reviews by Lisa C Hannon, my new website.  Had two mini-epiphanies today.

First–I read, have always read, voraciously.  I’m kind of a reading omnivore–I’ll read most anything, although I tend to draw some lines.  I don’t read scary stuff–but I have read more than one Stephen King novel.  I don’t read children’s lit… pretty much because I don’t have to, and that’s that.  I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey – I read a couple of pages in the bookstore, and it was truly horrible writing, so I put it to the side and never thought of it again.

But, to get to my point–what I’m setting up here, if the website works, is a job whereby I read for a living. And then I write about what I read.  Holy crap, Batman.  Reading for a living would be AWEsome.

Second mini-epiphany… remember writing book reports in school?  Everybody hated them, except me.  Loved ’em. Never told anybody that, it would have been unforgivably geeky, and I hung out with the geeky girls.  But  I loved ’em. Early training for something that gives me great hope.  There are a lot of people I love and have loved that don’t read for relaxation or fun. I’ve never understood how they can do without it.  It’s like breathing for me, I always have at least one book in progress, often as many as three or four.

So, visit Views & Reviews if you like, but if you’re not a reader, it won’t be too fascinating for you. If you are a reader, though, let me know what you think, please!

Wish me luck.  It’s certainly worth a try.

46 – leaping into some future or other

My eyes are so tired that they can barely blink.  Spent the last eight and a half hours straight working on my brainchild, my new website, Views & Reviews by Lisa C Hannon. I couldn’t be prouder of it if I’d given birth to it myself. It’s a beginning.  And the future is going to be as good as I can possibly make it, however good that may be…

Once upon a time, more than 15 years ago now, Douglas Unger, professor of my short story writing course at UNLV, got me to the side after class and asked me if I’d ever thought “about thinking as a career.”  I told him that as soon as I found someone who’d pay for it, I’d give it my best shot.


This is me–best shot in progress.