New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

The chimney—is, well, not falling. But…

our neighbor urgently fears it will. What we have is two loose bricks.

We had a chap assess it. We really don’t need another bill this year (my endodontist appointment is next Wednesday, to be followed by a dental appointment, etc) but—we did figure that rain and ice up there with a cracked flue surround do pose a future problem—to us, not our neighbor, in any sense. We have a guy with a good record on Angie’s List (which is an online review by customers) and the means to head off any problem with the chimney for the future. So we’re having a proper cap put on it and the loose or someday-to-be-loose bricks fixed.

It’s August, it’s hot, we’re walking when we can, but not in the heat of the day. I figure if we don’t go out to eat for several months (like that’s going to happen), that will pay for this, at least. If I can avoid having any more dental issues, that will help. Also helping is the fact that our favorite watering hole is having ‘cook’ issues at the moment, and so you takes your chances.

So…well, I’m learning to use this nice stove in proper fashion, and not to burn things. It’s one of those glasstops, and it’s a good range—not chef level, but a good GE range. To my delight, you can program the thing: you get yourself an oven thermometer, and you can actually adjust the oven thermostat to correspond to reality. This is the most brilliant idea since sliced bread. If I tell it 350, it’s actually 350.

We also are taking advantage of the fact we can handle garlic if it’s real garlic and not powdered. Jane ordered this at a restaurant and I can fix it at home: spaghetti and garlic meatballs: pre-done meatballs, frozen, [Costco], in a small saucepan with about a quarter cup of olive oil, half a teaspoon salt, teaspoon black pepper, heaping teaspoon of oregano, heaping tablespoon of dried basil with about 2 heaping tablespoons of chopped garlic in oil. That’s all there is to the meatballs and the sauce. Killer flavor. And popcorn chicken (frozen: Tyson’s or Foster Farms) baked with a drizzle of Frank’s Original Sauce (hotwings) over a green salad with lots of random veggies and Caesar dressing. I add a dash of Fig Balsamic vinegar to mine, but Jane can’t take vinegar. Anyway, a sample of how we avoid eating out. We eat out, get the recipe, and cook in. 😉

Picked up 2 new waterlilies today…

A yellow, Texas Dawn, and a dark red, Midnight Ruby…hardies, to live in the deep end of our pond and take the place of the winter-shield during the summer. A tangle of lily roots and pads and blooms is an anti-predator measure that’s pretty besides. We have as many as 6 lily blooms at any moment this year, really nice, and the shallow end of the pond is mostly covered with them. The lotus the raccoon tried to eat is now two plants and going strong: blooming, and very pretty.

And Jane and I had a story conference today that is going to nudge me out of a stuck spot in fine fashion, so all in all a good day.

There’s a medical clinic with a very large parking lot a little up from us, and we decided to drive up there, park at the far end of the lot, and take a walk up the sidewalk and back—a level, predictable surface. Jane’s been having a very sore hip, and me, I’m incredibly out of shape. I did that walk and have been gimping about the rest of the day. We are resolved to start doing this and get ourselves back in shape.

Not much going on—which is a good thing.

We hired the gutters cleaned. We hired the trees trimmed.

We are concentrating on the maintenance only we can do—like actual gardening and garden plumbing. We had only one glitch: our gutter cleaners were supposed to bag the refuse and they did—in 80 lb bags which cannot be moved. Jane didn’t call me to help, darn it, but she had to open the bags and shovel, and is exhausted. Two very nice strong young guys, who probably haven’t a clue that we’d have to lift those bags to shoulder height to get them into the bins. They’re going to hear about this one.

I swear, Jane’s cat. The half-Bengal. I’m crossing the living room where he’s lying, and he reaches out and hits me. Hard. Then gets up and head-butts my leg, as in, pet me, feed me, I’m your friend. Just now he’s lying on my dresser, right under the telly, not bothering the telly. If it were on, it’d disturb him, and he’d get up and claw the screen, darn him—but he likes sitting there, warmed by the electronics, and watching out the window.

And why is he there? So he can be aware when I move, whenever I go near the kitchen…because—food!

OTOH, we do have him on a reduced-portion diet with a diet kibble. And it is working. He now has sort of a waist.

So today I cleaned the fish sump…


I disconnected all the equipment, pumped it dry, took it out and hosed it out.

Talk about a job postponed for 10 years. It should make maintenance easier.

What I dumped stopped the utility sink, and fool I, I reached in to unclog the drain—which involved a bristleworm, which has my fingers swollen—been stung way too often in my years of marine tank keeping. You don’t feel it at the time, but a few hours later, ow, ow, and it’ll be that way for a couple of days. Silly me. You don’t do tank work without gloves. Not even when it’s tank residue.

I’d have rescued the worm, if I could, because, well, I don’t like to demise things, but he was down the drain, and not in great shape. They arrive on rock and such and multiply in the tank, some as long as a foot. But—well, it’s running again, it doesn’t leak, and I think the tank will be happier.

Sigh. I had an endodontist app’t this morning…

…and had waited since the last visit to get in.
He x-rayed, agreed, and set the actual appointment for 10th Aug. Meanwhile I still have a sore tooth. And now I have a headache.
The air here is wretched, second-hand from somewhere: I haven’t had allergy this bad since Oklahoma or the heart of fire season. I really need my brain.
It’s just one of those days. Grump.
I should go out and sand down the baseboards for my room and varnish them. I haven’t the energy. Grump.

On the other hand, the sun hasn’t gone nova, nothing has hit the planet, and there’s not as much off as could be, on any given day, so I suppose I’d better pick up and get busy.

Bee-stung. I swear…

I have this absolutely wonderful hand-face-whatever cream I picked up on the trip to Chicago. Don’t laugh. Carmindy of What Not To Wear swears by it. It’s from the Prairie Soap Co, in Deadwood, (actually from a town near) and what I’ve got uses real buffalo tallow and lavender and sage. I can attest it’s real, since a bee very regrettably decided I was a flower, and when I tried to shoo him off, the poor thing gave his all, and stung me right above the elbow. Not in the joint, for which I’m grateful, but I went ahead and finished out the job I was on, at least for four of the eight filter pads that take algae out of the pond, before I decided it was getting painful and I really needed to treat it. So, topical Benedryl, internal Benedryl, and ice. I’ve discovered the bands you use to correct patellar tracking are real good for keeping an ice cell-pack in place, so here I sit. Mid-scene, and I have to take a med that makes me stupid.

Alas, poor bee. I do all I can to cultivate things they like and they liked me better. I won’t put on that handcream just before garden work again.

Had another demise, too: Huey, last of the EcoSphere shrimp, in the little glass egg I’ve nursed through 3 moves and an 8-day winter power-out, demised at the age of 16. Jane says I should get a new egg. I think I may. 16 years is a good lifespan for a shrimp. I could get the EcoSphere recharged, but it would be as pricey as a new one, and it’s serious postage. Amazon carries them.

I got the little fellow (and five others in the egg) when I sold off my marine tank and all the freshwater tanks when we moved up from Oklahoma. And I’ve had him ever since. When I was in University, my room mate dated a guy who was a son of one of the German rocket scientists, whose ‘thing’ was developing life support for space; and we used to help him (both of us being aquarium geeks) figure out how to balance an ecosystem that would run on sunlight. Well, his name isn’t on the project that finally produced the EcoSphere, but it was out of NASA tech, and I was intrigued. Originally I had Huey, Dewey, and Louie, Winken, Blinken, and Nod. Huey lost his last room mate Dewey a couple of years ago, and he soldiered on eating his algae and bacteria alone, but with a lot going on outside his pod, until his 16th year, almost exactly, since I got him in early summer of 2000.

Getting out from under the load…

We’ve hit a natural cycle of a rain-rich year in a maturing garden, to the extent that even our gutters have foot-high weeds growing (thanks to the gutter shield which admits seeds) and trees are out of bounds as well.

So Jane and I have finally admitted there ain’t no way we are climbing on the roof and the weeds along the street have gotten entirely unreasonable and we can’t wait another year for the trees.

I got on the phone and internet, reading reviews and company statements and have found a) a licensed, bonded arborist, one on the city’s list of such for the storm damage. b) a company that maintains weed-free beds by pre-emergent spray and gets rid of noxious weeds, and since they are a garden company we have some confidence they know what they’re doing. We’d rather not spray, but we’d rather not spread noxious weeds, either, and they’re too tough to pull. c) and somebody to clean the gutters and bag the contents, leaving them gutter-guard-free for the next year. We are not having spray near the fishpond: back yard, we can handle; but the side and front, oh, yes.

If these people work out, we will be happy to have them back. Rates are not that bad, and having those jobs off our plate, including the spray people saying they can delicately spray pre-emergent on the pathways in spring and leave us just the beds to maintain—

This and other sanity-saving measures.

Getting real tired of dental issues…

But I think we are finally on track to fix things. The hitch is, I have to put up with this (mild) headache, I fear, until the 20th, when I can get the endodontist to fix something another dentist did ten years ago. This is good, understand, but I am real tired of painkillers, pain, headaches, jaw aches, antibiotics, and appointments.

The good news is that through a chain of improbable connections I have finally gotten a dentist that has located the problem. So this is fixable. Just kind of drawn-out.

Meanwhile I’m making progress, just not as much as I’d like.

Dental woes.

Oh, woe!
First a bridge came unglued. Then I got an appointment with my old dentist in another town, who now has moved, and couldn’t be found once I got there.
So I got ‘worked in’ by a local dentist I found on the internet…and they (quite reasonably) took xrays and discovered an abscess. Oh, joy. Extract, root canal with a new bridge (4000.00), or implant? If an implant, five of them, because of the bridge. And they’re costlier than the bridge.

Well, I decided to spring for option B. And faced a root canal with a completely unknown dentist who sort of specializes in root canals. It truly was an abscess: I asked to see the xray.

Today I went in for the procedure, and I’ve had worse discomfort from fillings. Wonderful job, very fine doc, very meticulous, and the best news—he was able to temp-glue the old bridge back in, and it looks as if that 36-year-old bridge is going to work fine. The doc said that bridge was a real work of art, to have lasted this long, in that shape.

So I’ve got a sore jaw and am reduced to soup, but that’s from the strain of a long procedure, no pain from the tooth.

IF I’m not going to have to spend for a new bridge, I may have another one looked at. I had a bad accident back in the 80’s, pitched headfirst over the handlebars on a downhill—the city had installed one storm grate the wrong way, and I dropped a tire into it after a car veered over at me (stupid joke—and when I fell, they ran like rabbits). The result for me was a lot of dental work and jaw troubles. But the good news is—my original dental team were aces. And the fact that this one didn’t hurt at all, except the pesky little xray tabs, says I’ve found another good one.

Jane’s got new pix from our travels…Miscon came after…

but it’s easier to do the pix for, so here they are.