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There are so many fascinating blogs out there–makes me kindasorta glad I don’t have high-speed internet service; if I did, I don’t know how I’d force myself to stop surfing. As it is, the freaking, everloving BOREDOM and IRRITATION of waiting fifteen minutes for a page to load sends me shrieking off to pound some bread dough or pull a weed or something.

One blog I enjoy, I’m lucky enough to be part of: The Write Type – Multi-Author Musings, run by Canadian author Cheryl Kaye Tardif. Her post yesterday was about a novelette she has on Smashwords and Amazon. I left a comment so I would be entered in a drawing for an e-copy of her critically acclaimed novel, WHALE SONG–AND I WON! I love it when I win. 🙂

I bought a copy of the novelette, REMOTE CONTROL, and I’ll download it and my prize the next time I’m in town with a high-speed connection.

Visit Cheryl’s website to see how awesome she is and for links to her books!

MA

writing prompt: Have a character win a prize, then have difficulty collecting it. Does he/she persist? Give up? Go Librarian-poo or Bursar (Terry Pratchett fans, you know what I mean!)?

Jade green, stripes of white,
Spiked without yet soft within.
Tomato hornworm.

Ick. It’s almost time for the tomato hornworms to start showing up. I loathe the rotten baskets more than Farmer Allen loathes sweet little white butterflies. These pests start out teeny and grow to be the size of teacup Chihuahuas. You could put leashes on them and take them for walkies, if you didn’t mind spending a fortune to keep them in fresh produce.

For, as their name implies, they eat tomatoes. They eat tomato leaves, they eat tomato stems, they eat tomatoes. They can defoliate a plant, and that’s not one of my exaggerations. Then they start chomping on the tomatoes. Like many other pests *cough*turtles*cough*, they don’t eat a whole one, they just take enough bites to ruin it for anybody else and then move on to another one.

This is one reason I love wasps. For wasps lay eggs on tomato hornworms.  Actually, this is NOT a fate I would wish on anything, but Mother Nature is not as sweet and gentle as I am. The larvae suck the ever-living life out of the hornworms, which is absolutely ghastly. I mean, the larvae don’t even sparkle, for goodness sake!

Back when we kept chickens, I would pluck the hornworms off the plants and toss them into the arena with the chickens. The chickens almost always won, but at least the hornworms had a chance for life and glory. The chickens actually preferred the ones with little white sprinkles on, but I usually left those so the wasps could hatch out and protect the next year’s crop. That, children, is organic gardening, red in tooth and claw.

Our #2 daughter keeps chickens now, but she’s vegetarian, and I don’t know how she’d feel about my feeding her chickens tomato hornworms. I mean, she knows that chickens aren’t vegetarian, but she has to eat those eggs, and it might make her queasy to condone deliberately putting animal protein into her food chain.

Life is full of quandaries, isn’t it?

MA

writing prompt: Write a scene in which a character, new to gardening, first sees a tomato hornworm on a tomato plant.

Can’t access the internet from home for some unknown reason. I’m at church with my laptop. I can connect to the router, but can get NO signal. So I’m connected to the router at the coffee shop a couple of blocks away. The signal is weak, but it’s there.

The upside is that Charlie is so irritated with being unable to connect, he’s actually talking about getting high-speed. heeeee!

Sky clear this morning, but tiny sparkles of snow filtering out of somewhere. It looks like cheesy special effects, only pretty.

I have four stories ready to submit, but no reliable access at the moment to submit online or check the most recent submission guidelines. If the connection doesn’t heal itself by tomorrow morning, I guess I’ll go into town and go to the coffee shop for real.

Now I need to get off and write my communion prayer. I’m Bread Elder this morning.

MA

writing prompt: How does your main character access the internet?

Okay, so I came home from a hard day shopping and eating and stuff and the land-line phone was dead. I have dial-up, so Internet was dead, too. So I whipped out my handy dandy Tracphone and called  my mother, who lives next door, on her Tracphone. Her land line was out, too. So was the line of our #1 daughter, who lives on our other side. With this information, I called Verizon’s “help” line.

I got a recorded lady who thought she was real. After she told me I could get help over the internet (no, recording lady, I cannot), she goes, like, “Okay, let’s see if we can figure out what the problem is.” (I know what the problem is, recording lady–my phone doesn’t work.)

RECORDING: Okay! In order to help figure out the problem, I need some information. Please enter or speak the phone number you’re calling about, beginning with the three-digit area code.”

CHARLIE: Ask them why didn’t they ever come fix that line that’s been down ever since the ice storm?

RECORDING: Okay–You said 988-697-6094. Right?

ME: No!

RECORDING: Okay, please enter or speak …

ME: <speaking correct phone number>

RECORDING: <repeats it correctly>

More chirpy, down-home friendliness from the recording, with my leaving the room so she won’t pick up Charlie’s remarks (he didn’t realize I was speaking to a recording). Finally, she started telling me about tests I could do to make sure the problem wasn’t in my house. I freakin’ KNEW the problem wasn’t in our house, because the whole neighborhood was out.

RECORDING: I’ve entered a report. If your line is still not working by tomorrow at–

ME: NO!

RECORDING: Help!

I am not making this up.

ME: What?

RECORDING: Help!

ME: What?

RECORDING: If you require additional help, or wish to speak to a live representative, say, “representative”.

ME: REPRESENTATIVE!

After holding for some minutes, while dollars tick away on my cell phone, which I only use for emergencies, a real lady comes on. She, too, tries to tell me that the problem lies in my home line. Charlie grabs the phone and gives Verizon what for, apologizing several times to the lady, personally, for her having to hear what he thinks of the company she works for.

LADY: Could I speak to the missus again, please?

CHARLIE: What are you implying?

LADY: Could I just please speak to the missus again?

ME: Ye-es?

LADY: I’ve reported the problem. The local technician tells me they’re running behind there, but he’ll certainly have you back on line by the 16th.

ME: …Today is the 5th! What happened here, that there’s that much damage?

LADY: Please, ma’am, I’m only the messenger.

And on that sad note, we parted. Our phones came back on line on the 7th… and another part of town went out. I heard that a farming accident cut a cable. Did ANOTHER farming accident cut ANOTHER cable? Is this the Green Revolution we keep hearing about? Time will tell. Time alone will tell.

MA

writing prompt: Imagine having to deal with people who were irritated to begin with, and have been driven to distraction by trying to explain a complex circumstance to a pre-programmed recording.

Full day today. Taking Mom to eye doctor, then going to the grocery. Looks like a pretty day, in spite of the forecast of storms and thunderstorms for the next 40 days and 40 nights. They said it was going to storm all day yesterday, too, but we had some drizzle once and a cloudburst, and the rest of the day was fine.

Charlie’s family came over for their monthly get-together, which it was our turn to host. Charlie and #3 daughter worked like dogs–a hell of a lot harder than any dog WE ever had–to get the place looking great. They repainted the playhouse and cleaned it top to bottom. The kids had a blast in it.

That Dog was here, of course–Forrest. I would call him my bete noir, but he’s white, and bete blanc just doesn’t sound as scary. He isn’t exactly a scary dog, unless you’re between him and foodstuffs. A nice dog, but single-minded. I still have the scars. He and our dog, Joe, kept me up until about 3 this morning, fighting over who was going to sneak onto the porch and rub mud on it. Every time I would drop off to sleep, WHUFF! WHUFFWHUFF! Apparently, Forrest won, because I got up this morning to find Joe sitting in the middle of the driveway so I could clearly see HE was the GOOD one and was NOT on the porch. Neither was Forrest on the porch, once I reasoned gently with him by means of an umbrella. I called his daddy on him, and he’s gone for the moment.

Now that I’ve missed the deadline for SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIV, I feel as if a load has been lifted. I really really wanted to be in it again this year, and I really really like the story I’m writing, but I started it too late, and I felt like I was pushing it. I can usually write a story quickly when I need to–professional, and all that–but I’m kind of fragmented right now. Need to get my ducks in a row, my beans counted and my head on straight. Need to clean out my chiche closet and swap for some new ones.

MA

writing prompt: Have a character open the door and find a strange dog on the porch.

Joanna and Samantha and I were going to meet for lunch today. Samantha went to her dad’s out of state for the weekend, where the house got hit by lightning. Yes. Everybody was okay, but electric power and electronic devices were fried. She could text but not phone. Joanna can’t text.

Sam and I texted back and forth and I called Joanna and read her the messages.

The company Joanna works for fired her co-worker, so she had more work to do today than she had planned on AND she had a dental emergency. She does not have dentures. I think she would want me to make that clear. She has great teeth, which live in an enchanting smile. But one of them has betrayed her, and she has to Deal with it.

That left Sam and me. (Yes, that is grammatically correct.)

txt txt txt Our first choice, when I found it online so I could get directions… has closed.

txt txt txt Our second choice is still there and I have directions. txt txt txt Time agreed upon just in time for me to leave.

On the back roads heading for the interstate, my BRAKE light comes on. I pull over. I hit the parking brake and release it. Nope, that’s not the problem. txt txt txt Can’t make it after all.

Instead of driving home, I drive to John D’s Auto. It’s way past time for a tune-up anyway. Call Charlie to pick me up. No answer. Talk to John D and Pat. Call Charlie–no answer. Talk some more. Call Charlie–No answer. Phone rings–it’s Sam. Phone switches off for no discernible reason. Call Mom and ask her to walk next door and ask Charlie to pick me up. Text Sam. txt txt txt She is just as glad to get some sleep–had a bad night after the house was STRUCK BY LIGHTNING. Oh, really? Hopes my car is okay. Phone rings–it’s mom telling me that Charlie is on his way.

Had leftovers.

MA

Writing prompt: Give a character something she/he REALLY WANTS TO DO. See how many obstacles you can throw in the way. How many, before it’s funny? How many, before it isn’t? Which comes first?

Okay, I’m slacking today. I need to get ready for Magna cum Murder this weekend. I’ll try to blog from Muncie, but they keep us pretty busy at Magna–in a good way–so I may not be able to. Besides, somebody talked me into joining Facebook and it’s a full-time job figuring out what all the plants and eggs and things are all about.

Here’s a recipe I’m giving out through World Wide Recipes today, special and free just for you, you wonder three people who ever read this blog. Big squishy hugs!

This recipe came from my precious late mother-in-law, one of the world’s best cooks.

<!– @page { size: 8.5in 11in; margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –> BUTTERMILK PIE

cooked pie shell
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp flour
1/3 cup buttermilk *
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup whole pecans

Cream sugar, butter, flour. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. Place pecans on pie shell. Add batter. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes.

Enjoy!
MA

writing prompt: You are trying to get something done and EVERY TIME you start to accomplish something, the freaking phone rings or somebody comes in the door.

That’s the sound of me, trying to post to my blog with dial-up access–not to say YARRGGHH! AIIIIII!! Bang! Bang! CRASH!!! Patience is not my long suit. Still, I can’t bring myself to shell out for high-speed access at home when the library is only 15 minutes away. I’m determined to grit my teeth and outwait the bastards who are bait-and-switching us simple rural folk because they think we’re too dumb to understand that they give one price in the ads and another price when you ask all the questions and figure it up yourself. Just because we have straw in our hair doesn’t mean we have it in our brains. America is so far behind other countries in high-speed access (and the speed of our so-called high-speed access) it isn’t even funny.

So go ahead–slow my dial-up until I could drive to Columbus before I could access Context’s web site. If I’m hard-headed enough to train a Dalmatian, I’m hard-headed enough to put up with your shenanigans.

Rant, rant.

I went to Louisville today and stopped by Carmichael’s on Bardstown Road and by Destinations on Spring in New Albany, two most excellent independent book stores. I was pushing a project which I’ll give its own post tomorrow, something I’m very proud to be part of.

At Destinations, I bought another Jasper Fforde book and the fabulous poet Sheri L. Wright’s NUNS SHOOTING GUNS. Looking forward to some good reading as the days close in. I can keep them by the computer to while away the time while I wait for web pages to load.

MA

Writing exercise: Select or create three characters. What different ways do they react to frustration? How do they react differently when they’re alone, with long-time friends, with people they want to impress, with the preacher?

WHAT am I doing wrong? I’m trying to set up WordPress on my web site server so I can flog my product (oooh, that sounds dirty)–I mean, so I can sell my books and stuff, but I can’t get it right! I can’t even log in. Keep getting messages that my password is incorrect. I even had the password automatically generated, and they say THEIR password is incorrect! I’m a-doing something wrong, but I don’t know what. *sigh* I’ll figger it out, eventually. Fortunately, I got my hair cut yesterday, so I can’t get a good enough grip to pull it out by the roots, and I got it cut all jaggy, so I totally can’t mess it up any worse than it’s supposed to be.

I’m at the Cafe on the Square this morning. I can’t seem to access my cPanel from the library–don’t know if it’s just coincidence or what, but I had no problem from here. Not that it’s done me much good…. Here is a picture of me at the cafe making a face of despair and frustration. Meh. At least I got a delicious chocolate mocha out of the visit. Also, Butchie was playing guitar. I didn’t expect that. They have live entertainment on Friday and Saturday night, but Butchie was here this morning, noodling around and playing classical pieces and improv on the guitar.

Whee! I did figure it out! Well, actually, I read my email more carefully and saw that something was case sensitive–duh!

Nathan just came in. He’s the young man who tried to get me started in wine making, the time I ended up with cherry glop instead of cherry wine–not his fault, by the way. Another case of my thinking I had read something when I had only half-read it. I need to get used to the idea that my old brain doesn’t work as well as it used to, and I can no longer assume that I’ve taken in all the meaning from a quick glance. I used to be able to do that, but I obviously can’t anymore. I never moved very fast, physically, and now my synapses are slowing down, too? What am I–turning into a tree?

Anyway, that’ll do for this morning. Now I need to get to work. Oh–in case your laptop ever stops typing the letter H and won’t backspace, try turning it upside down and giving it a good shake. It just worked for me.

MA

writing exercise: You misread something and confusion ensues. Does it lead to a happy ending or a tragedy, a mystery or a farce or a romance or a close call?

I’ve been wrestling with installing a printer, and the printer has won.  I’m running Linux Mandriva 2006 and my old printer died, so I bought a new all-in-one.  I researched it first, and learned that it’s compatible and well-supported by hp and the Linux community.  Downloaded the driver.  Downloaded the dependency packages, all of which took about eight hours over my dial-up connection.  And the installation failed.

So now I’ve bought Linux Mandriva 2008 and hope that the driver for my printer is in there.  Please don’t tell me that nobody should run Linux unless they know what they’re doing–please don’t.  If I only did things I know how to do, I never would do anything.  At least this program comes with a manual.  I only hope it doesn’t start out assuming I know things I don’t know.  Linux for Dummies, that’s what I need.

Meanwhile, I installed a driver for some other printer, and my printer prints and copies, but it won’t scan.  Two out of three is better than nothing, I suppose.

I also made a meatless loaf for supper and it was very good, except that I seem to have gotten a bit of walnut shell into it along with the walnuts, so it’s rather like eating real meatloaf complete with chips of bone.  Ugh.

I’m not vegetarian, by the way, just prefer slabs to mince and bones I can see and remove before they make it into my mouth.

WELCOME TO MY BLAHG

Here is where I ramble on about whatever happens to fall through my mind. I also have a professional site, where I post about my books, stories, news and appearances. Every month, I post a “Hot Flash” there–a story or prose poem of about 50 words. I hope you enjoy your visit. –Marian Allen

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