Intro: Annie Oakley

She’s a wee thing still, just 2.5lbs and approximately 9 weeks old.

Looks little in Lorna’s hands!

Attack of the Killer Strawberry

A clerk at the post office where Lorna works told us that a kitten was at her husband’s body shop the other morning. She, the kitten, must have belonged to someone at some point because she is so tame. We took her to the vet Thursday and she checks out fine. Wormy but all kittens are.

So far her life is limited to Mike’s Big Boy Crate in the living room. We let her out today for a while (the dogs were outside) so she could explore and get into trouble. She did both just fine. She’s a quiet, calm kitten but I know that it will all come exploding out of her some day soon. She’s just not gotten to that chapter in the Manual yet.

We hadn’t come up with a name until Lorna said she caught herself thinking about “playing with Annie”. We already had a Calamity Jane so an Annie Oakley just seemed to fit.


I have a crick in my neck. And, quite surprisingly, I don’t have a matching headache.

Usually I get a massive headache anytime I “overuse” my neck from doing silly things like turning my head while I go down the aisle in the grocery store. Or keeping my head bent for more than two pages while reading a book. Or turning my head more than a few times while driving. Silly me for abusing myself that way.

I can turn my chin to the right all the way and can turn it to the left about 1/3 of the way. I can bend my neck until my right ear almost touches my shoulder but can barely go left of center in the other direction. I can bend my chin down most of the way but only a little way backwards. When I try to walk, my head is tilted to the right and looking down. To hold my head upright while walking is horribly painful, even by my tainted standards. So the few times yesterday and today that I have to walk through the house, I put on my neck brace (I have a new one that is awesome!). It helps some but mostly helps me keep my head level. I can sit with my head and neck supported and manage to keep it fairly level without the brace.

Because when I keep my head in that position, you guessed it, I got a headache! Luckily it was a very minor one that I caught way early. I’m also taking high doses of muscle relaxers so that helps, too.

Today I read the Oath of Gold, book 3 in the Deeds of Paksinarrion series by Elizabeth Moon. Good read. The books are a big influence on my writing of Simple Sarah although in re-reading it (for the fourth or fifth time) I can see how much the two differ as well as how they are so similar. I re-read it to try and find where and how Moon “shows” instead of “telling”. Her infodumps are subtle but there. I like how she describes things using all the senses and not just visual. She likes smell the most.

Lorna will be home tomorrow and can keep me entertained. I may send her to the library after some more books. Any suggestions?

Time in the Dark

Our power went out last night from just before 7pm until nearly midnight. We sat out on the back porch to read and play with the dogs. The normally quiet neighborhood was filled with the sounds of kids (and adults!) playing outdoors. Once it got too dark to see, everyone went inside. We lit some candles (we have a cool lantern but I spilled fuel everywhere so we didn’t light it) and sat in the living room, listening to the silence.

And silence is loud.

No fish tanks. No whirring laptop fans. No window fan. No refrigerator or freezer motors. Silence.

There was the drip from one of the fish filters. And there was a ticking clock (which promptly was put outside; I can’t stand that sound). There was the wind in the bamboo. The sounds of traffic.

Lorna and I sat and talked about what would the night sounds be in Whitehaven, the fictional town in my Fantasy novel. Families would gather in one room until they went to bed. Unless they were rich, you’d not take a candle to your room and sit with it lit. What would you do? A single candle is very hard to use as light to read. What would the family do? They’d hear doors opening and shutting. They’d hear the occasional loud sounds coming from businesses open after dark, like taverns and maybe from the lobbies of hotels or boarding houses.

When you’d be ready for bed, you’d take your candle up to see your way. And since you’d get up long before the sun came up in order to be ready to start work, you’d bring your candle back down. Where would you keep it? Or would you use a very small lantern?

How would businesses light up their spaces? Lanterns, candles, fireplaces. There’d be someone who sold loads of wood to everyone. Where would you keep it? There’d be the candle maker, the glass maker, the potter – all businesses to support the lighting. Would cook/heating stoves be made in town or made elsewhere and brought in? Would you go to them all individually or would you purchase what you need from a mercantile type of store?

This made me realize I never envisioned a heat source for Sarah’s family shop. They had the cook stove in the kitchen but I didn’t have anything in the shop where they worked. Primarily this never came up in my visualization of the place because she’s not there when it gets cold. But when I describe (via the “show, don’t tell” method, of course) the shop, I never mention the heat source. Would it be necessary to do so?

So we discussed what we’d hear and why. What we’d see and why. And why not for both. It was a quiet talk between us but sadly took up only about 45 mins or so.

The power company called my cell phone at about ten to say it was going to be much later before the power was back on. I drug out the deep cycle battery and hooked up the air pumps for the fish tanks. Didn’t want to get up to a bunch of dead fish.

Then I went to bed. At 10:30. I wasn’t sick, either. I don’t think I’ve gone to bed that early in a very long time. I wanted to stay up and write. But the laptop drains the deep cell battery quickly, especially with the air pumps going at the same time. I laid there, staring out in the darkness, wide freakin’ awake. I did fall asleep several times but woke myself up snoring. My CPAP doesn’t have a battery back up. A little before midnight, the lights came on and I got up to turn everything off, fix the air pumps, etc etc.

And it was very loud in the house again.

Signs of Spring

Ah, Spring is here!

And it brought along the sneezing and watery eyes.

But there’s other, more subtle signs, at least here at our house.

In the unheated bathroom, the shampoo comes out of the bottle with less effort. No more squeezing hard gel or warming the bottle in the shower’s spray first. And the adjustment of hot and cold water is changing. We aren’t quite turning the hot water level down but are definitely turning the cold water down less.

And today another major sign appeared: I got a haircut. Lorna took the shears and trimmed my hair down to 1″. I let my hair grow longer in the Winter. For one it’s too cold to sit out on the back porch to while Lorna cuts my hair. I used to have long hair, as in all the way down to my butt long. But I got tired of the knots and the flying hair when the window was down so off it came. I wish I had known about Locks of Love back then.


Okay, so, like, I live in The South. You know, the warm South? Someone left the gate open up at the Mason-Dixon Line and allowed the cold air to come down here. If you look at a weather map that is showing temps with the cool color blobs, you’ll see that the cold air from up Nawth leaks down along the mountains and ends just this side of Georgia. So while others around us may not be so cold, we are.

Here’s proof:

11:41pm on Jan. 16th

2:03am on Jan. 17th

and at 8:36am

It is hard to read (I think the camera was refusing to work properly), but that last one says it is FOUR BELOW ZERO!

Our water froze. It’s been years since it was cold enough to do that. It was the second night with temps below 10F and with highs in the daytime not making it above 30F. We had a lot of errands to run this morning so we took the heater from the kitchen and put it in the cellar (a small, scary room under the kitchen) to attempt to thaw out at least the kitchen’s water. When we got home, the bathroom’s water had thawed, too. We left the heater down there tonight to keep the pipes clear. If the low temperatures stay in the 20s, we don’t have any problems. But when it stays that low and/or gets lower, then the core temperature of the house drops. Our house is “air-ish” and “well ventilated”. Add in the winds we are getting, and it is almost impossible to keep warm.

Holiday Blues

Is it just me, or was this just a flat holiday time? Probably just me.

Santa skipped over our house this year. He said we’ve spent far too much money on critter care and must wait until January. He did give us a rain-check on a new fridge, though, so perhaps I can forgive him for noticing our lack of a proper budget.

Mary at Asheville Pets did give us a big bag of stuff for the critters, though. We’ve shopped there for going on 15yrs and know each other quite well. The stuffed toys were traded between Jo and Mike until Jo settled on the Nylabone. Sam isn’t allowed stuffed toys since he de-stuffs them in mere seconds so he had another Nylabone. The stuffed gorilla had a sound thing in it that I removed but Mike loved it anyway. He also loved the tree even though the squeaker was muffled.

PopCorn pouted all day since she is having to wear the helmet. She keeps licking the stitches on her foot and leg. She’s not happy at all about it. I keep telling her they will only be in there for another week but I don’t think she really is listening.

Other than being entertained by the dogs, it was a quiet day.


My back is out (for lunch, I think) and sitting-up time is limited. The shoulder is doing better, the knees are improving, and the headaches are roaring along just like always.

Mike is doing well, still not house trained, though. (check out his website)

Lorna went up Nawth and safely returned. Her sister got married! (congrats Karin and Chris!)

The truck needs a transmission. Anyone with $2000 dollars they can spare?

PopCorn had the growths on her foot removed in a tough 2hr surgery on Friday. She was rather stoned so we didn’t get to bring her home until Saturday. She’s doing good and is putting weight on the leg. It looks nasty, though.