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All contents copyright 2009 by C.J. Cherryh

One of those questions a writer gets asked (a lot) besides the one we all dread, "where do you get your ideas?" is "how long does it take to write a novel?" Well, I thought it might amuse my readers to know. First, how long is a novel? 80,000 words up to infinity. A book 3/4 of an inch thick is about 80,000 words. A book an inch and a half thick is about 120,000 words. How many words on a page of manuscript? About 325, doublespaced.

So---say that your target length is about 100,000 words or more.

And how much does a writer write a day? Bear in mind that sometimes you go backwards, and rip out 10,000 words. Sometimes you go forward, and gain 3. Words, that is.

Sometimes it's fast, sometimes it's slow. Sometimes you don't get anything done. Bear in mind I write full time. But I have to do other things, too. So I thought I'd just let you see for a while how progress goes.

11/19/08: Wednesday. 93924....stand by, people. After 2 experts and weeks of trying, I have finally gotten my confused web server to figure out why I have been locked out of my website since September. I'll try to do an update real soon. I just have to be sure this works!

11/21/08. Friday. 93924. I was absolutely exhausted yesterday...hardly woke up all day long. Here, however, is the promised update, such as I could manage. Frontpage still isn't working as I'd like, but it's a whole lot better than it was, and I'll kick it into shape pretty soon. I just have to find the right toggle: for some reason it's not remembering its most-recent setting and keeps re-pointing at my on-disk storage. But I'll make it work. Meanwhile, I'm up early. It's 5 AM. Jane and I have to run a friend to the airport this morning, then get to the rink. It's cold out there as I write---the pond is frozen over and I was hoping for more rain than we got, but there's a little more due tomorrow. The update follows: We’ve lost a major portion of time. I didn’t get things recorded daily, as I’ve been wont to do—and I was doing so well at getting back into the habit.
The writing’s been going well—there’s that.
I’ve been acquiring a few calluses. Did I mention a dumptruck full of dirt—14 yards—and another half truck of mulch. Sharon’s helped us. And thank goodness when we bought a wheelbarrow, we got a good one, with an inflatable tire. That matters, when moving heavy stuff. We got the fence painted—got the gaps in the fence fixed. The adjacent yard fence stood off from ours about a foot and a half across a brick wall, and with the new pond, we needed to make that a full enclosure. So we learned to build a fence. It’s amazingly not that difficult technically-speaking, and I know now if I had to, I could build a whole fence. Ours, a plank fence, as opposed to pre-formed stockade sections, uses hardware and 2x4's to create a frame, and then we screw up some thin planks. So we now have a complete fence. We're letting the raw wood cure before painting it.
We’ve been collecting rock for the pond from the highway roadside: probably that’s amounted to half a truckload, too. We can’t get as much as we’d like bebcause there’s a limit to how much we want to weigh down our little Forester’s back end. But it makes a nice rim around the pond, and will make a rim around the berm, too, so we still need a lot of rock.
I’ve calculated how to build an arched bridge, and our pond turned out to be a precise 10 foot gap across its narrowest point, (no accident! I worked hard to get that!) so a 12 foot plank can bridge it with a one-foot footing on either side. I need 2 of the 12 foot 12x2's, which will run us about 30.00 each. Two 2x4's, and some 1x4's for decking. That’s going to be a lot cheaper than the 1500.00 they wanted for a similar bridge in the catalog, and I'd still have to assemble it. I thought I would use pressure-treated wood, and then heard on some random program—House, I think—that the process involves arsenic. I think I’ll skip that. Best I can figure the arc of a 12 foot bridge is off a 134 inch radius. We’ll know if that's accurate when we mark it, and if not, I'll recalculate. The top of the bridge will be a 12 foot arc segment, and the underside will be a 10-foot. But that’s for the spring.
Jane’s proved brilliant at rockwork. She arranged the whole waterfall with round rocks and flat, so that once we get enough warm weather to apply the black foam between rocks, to stabilize it, it should be beautiful. It falls about 3 feet to the water surface, and as potent as that pump is, I'm only hoping it flows down rather than shooting straight out like a firehose. If it does, there's still a fix: I can install a ball valve to restrict flow.
The pond ended up being 10 feet wide at the narrowest, 3 feet at the deepest, 1 foot at the shallowest, about 20 feet at the widest, shaped like England, and it’s about 21 feet between John o’Groat’s house and Dover. I love looking out in the morning and judging the weather by whether our pond is reflecting a clear sky, is rippled with wind, or—lately—frozen solid.
We’ve found a way to secure the patio furniture against the winter storms, just by jamming it up against the house. We have covers on all of it. It took a couple of dings until we learned this, but so far so good.
We haven’t put in the pump and UV filter, and won’t do that until spring, either. All the lines and pipes are dry, and that’s how we hope to leave them. We’re going to need one more layer of good dirt, which will mean another 7 yards of it, and then we can start (next spring) doing some plantings of evergreen and evergreen azalea, ferns and the like.Plus little koi, when the weather warms.
Skating’s gone well—I’ve finally gotten my boots broken in—it’s only the second year—and I’m starting to get the feel of what it is to lean outwards and back and rely on my edges to carry me backward safely: it’s scary, but it’s exhilarating when you feel that arc take hold. I'm doing the waltz jump with some confidence, even chaining 3 of them together. And I've made some progress on the Mohawk (a forward to backward foot trade) and the inside 3-turn. Outside is a piece of cake. Inside requires that backward outside thing be really good and steady.
Ysabel and Efanor are both well, thank you, those who’ve worried. They’re obnoxious as ever.
We had a lovely Halloween. The house is still done up in black cats—Jane collects them, being a Halloween baby, as she puts it. We’re aiming at Thanksgiving with a menu that should let us keep our diet.
I’ve missed being able to keep this blog, frustrated as can be that I couldn’t update for so long. My computer lost touch with the printer when I tried to download an Adobe file off the pond website; that was one kink that developed. And then the server did a security upgrade that blew me offline and wouldn’t let me back into the site...and two of the server company's experts and a lot of hassle later, I now understand a lot more what happened and why, and took notes, so hopefully if they do another security upgrade, I’ll know exactly what I have to call and ask them for—since their experts took several tries to figure it out, and still wouldn't if I hadn't persisted with the simple question---pu-leeze let's leave the other issue, guys, and just see if you can help me log onto your website...which had been a third issue. Once we fixed that, I could get at the controls and fix the other issue. Myself. Finally! Amazing how everybody wants to fix the complicated stuff first instead of solving the simplest.
I hope you’ve all had a happy fall. It’s turning colder here. We’ve already seen about ten flakes of snow a week ago, and now snow is forecast as possible Thursday.
Odd animals have passed us. Spokane currently has a moose loose in one of its neighborhoods, but nobody has been able to catch it. I often sit by the front window to drink coffee at 5 am before starting to work—and I spotted 3 yellow–bellied marmots jogging along our front lawn, headed across the busy arterial and on further, possibly, I thought, taking a shortcut between two loops of the Spokane River. A full-grown marmot, mind, is about the size of a fat sofa cushion. A week later I saw a lean and slouchy dog go by on the same track, and wondered what breed that strange dog was, until I focused hard, blinked twice, and realized it was a coyote. In the last few days a family a few blocks from us unfortunately lost a family pet to three coyotes working we are being careful to keep the garage door shut these days. I don’t care to confront a panicked pack of coyotes in a closed space, thank you. We have yet to hear from the hospital district’s annual black bear (in midtown, no less) and the annual valley swimming pool moose, not to be confused with the neighborhood moose aforementioned: that one is a newcomer.
We also have elk, grizzlies, foxes, eagles, osprey, and the occasional cougar---all of which have ventured near our former-former apartment, but the only aerial visitor of size where we now live has been a great blue heron, and the only cat we’ve had to extract from the premises was the very nervous tabby from down the block who’d been locked in our garage over a three day weekend.
So all is well here. I’m back on line and will attempt to stay that way.

11/22/08. Saturday. 94122. Got up late, got a bit of work done, went on a mission to the valley---one of the local wineries has a holiday sale on, and we went there, then to lunch at Scotty's in the valley---mistake: the big football rivalry was on, but we did get fed. Then we came home and had a call from our friend who has the country place with the rocks that she had some rocks for us...big ones, too. She was kind enough to truck them over. So we offloaded those and settled down to watch a few episodes of Bleach, one of our current favorites. The weather is going colder, but dryer. I wish it would precip. But there we are---at least it's not hot. Having had lunch at Scotty's, we had dinner in the form of a handful of nuts, and that will be that. We're so trying to keep within guidelines and not blow our diet.

11/23/08. Sunday. 95211. Jane's doing filing---a heroic operation. We've moved 3 times counting the move in 2000, and our files are a royal mess. We can't find numerous things we know must be in the files---we've been sunsetting old boxes of business stuff, hoping they'd turn up. We've thus far found the instructions for the Dremel, but various other things remain in limbo. I'm working. And one of our DVDs went bye-bye last night, mid-Bleach. It was one of our better machines, too. At least it's not our one and only, but I hate using our RW for regular playback. So I think I may put the one from my room into the living room. It's cold today: the pond froze last night before dark and remains frozen. And I'm beginning to suspect I turned the AC on instead of the heat off. We rarely use heat during the day or night, just about an hour in the morning, when the outside temp hits below 30. I've got to go check that. Not much else. All our friends are otherwise engaged and we just stay here and work. Jane called me down to the basement to identify the current aquarium chemicals and I did port several buckets of discard sand upstairs to dump into the driveway (we have a gravel drive, and it works well to kill weeds.) Oops. I turned on the reverse osmosis filter down there, too, and forgot to set the timer: that can make a mess. Got to get my head organized. I had an emergency a few weeks ago as the main pump in the tank stopped for the second time and Jane was outside building the waterfall while I had to break down the sump (again), pull all sand, clean out the skimmer and the lines, and vinegar the pump (dissolves deposits). Turns out we'd had a test kit expire, and hence the unusual demand for calcium and alkalinity buffer that had been driving me crazy and causing precipitate in the tank the last 6 months. But it left a legacy of clogs that work themselves into bad spots now and again and that was one. I managed to break one fingernail off halfway up the nail trying to find a cussed fighting conch lost somewhere in the sand---I finally got the little blighter rescued, but I had my finger in a real mess for several weeks. At any rate, that was the mess I was attacking down there, and have cleaned most of it up, thank goodness. Not convenient to use the outside hose to rinse it now that winter is setting in---oops, and I have to pull the winter plug in the basement lines that feed the sprinkling system now. I need Jane standing by with a bucket for that one---in case I've got more in the line than I think I have.

11/24/08. Monday. 96183. Back on the ice. Now and again I have a lesson that just really fixes something. For a long time---like 2 years---I've been trying to control my 3-turn, ie, do it on command and exit smoothly. Joan 'fixed' my hand position on start-up during the Waltz-8 pattern, just shifted everything over cross-body about 8 inches, but not quite as far as the final 'reach' as you hit the outside edge and go into the turn. That 'reach' determines your timing, but is so small it doesn't pull you off-line. Which is to say---on time, on cue, and with a sustainable balance during exit. Smooth! I've been making some progress even on the curs't Mohawk. On the home front, I'm trying to catch up, and get a little bit of progress.

11/25/08. Tuesday. 97237. Ditto yesterday, re progress on the ice. It feels so good. I had to get off early, because I've been doing so many turns it's stressing a knee, and that's not good. I have 2 football knees and do try to take care of them. Meanwhile we're doing a little cleanup in advance of Thanksgiving, which we intend to spend at home.

11/26/08. Wednesday. 97929. And again---the ice wasn't bad and the rink was just us adults, which was good. I guess the kids are still in school until noon. We got to the store---that was a zoo---and picked up the last few items I need for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm actually baking a dessert and am trying using Splenda to keep it within bounds for us. I hope it works.

11/27/08.Thusday. Thanksgiving. 97929. We decided to do no work at all,, except I fixed dinner and Jane cleaned up. And it began to snow. Over all a perfect day. We had ham (a success), the infamous green bean casserole (we fortified ourselves with meds: we're both allergic to onions---but the ones we use are very well cooked, even to a crisp, and that helps), and Magic Pudding Cake, which was sort of a success. At least it was low carb, and if that recipe fails, at least you can use it for ice cream topping. It didn't quite fail. Here's the recipe: one cup of sugar, one of flour, 3/4 cup of milk and 3 t. baking powder, stir up into batter. Heat 8x8 dish to melt 1/2 cup butter or margerine, pour batter in atop melted butter. Drain can of tart cherries or other fruit, use spoon to distribute same fairly evenly over top of batter. Bake about 20 minutes at 325. Batter makes cake that rises above fruit. It's fun to watch it through the oven door. Outside of eating way too much, we built a gingerbread house out of a kit from Costco, which turned out looking better than the picture on the package. And we worked a deuce of a puzzle involving a lot of black cats against a dark grey background. We're both quite good at puzzles. Jane had so much fun at it, she worked part of it sneakily after I went to bed.

11/28/08. Friday. Black Friday. 97929. There is no way either of us will go out into the madding throng of shoppers on this beginning of Christmas sales. It's insane. We have agreed to give each other one small gift for Christmas, and otherwise, I am doing most of my shopping for friends and extended family. We have spent on the pond, and the new appliances this year, and we are now conserving. So we finished the puzzle, had breakfast of oatmeal (a treat, normally not on our diet) and noshed on ham all day. Jane took down the Halloween decor, and prepared for Christmas. We did find Sharon's glasses, but she was already on her way to work, and we hope she stays safe on the roads, which are not in good condition. We watched anime and played Oblivion until late.

12/26/08 Friday, 96540 words. I apologize to everyone. I no sooner got that mess straightened out than the server did it to me again and I can’t get up on the site to update. I don’t know how to recover all the lost days, but this is probably a fitting end to a strange year. We got the pond dug. We discovered a credit card snafu that threw us way short of cash and savings and have sort of fought our way out of that by budgeting tightly—as I’m sure we have that in common with a lot of people this year.

        The server had its repeated moments. I no sooner recovered the site from one disaster than they arranged another. Frontpage just can’t keep up with this situation: every time they change the codes I have to go in and sort it all out again, and I’m just going over to Namo Webeditor, which is not as wysiwyg and not as transparent, but I can type in my word processor and get Namo to serve as a simple FTP software. So updates may become more frequent.

    We can’t find our pond at the moment, because it’s under more than a foot of snow. Total snowfall in December has been 43" with another big storm on the way. We’re hoping the roof holds out, but I’m not convinced a ground-based roof rake that leaves a bit weight on the rooftree is the best approach: destabilizing a load never helped anyone carry it well. Jane and I have been working hard with the shoveling, and we didn’t want to get a snow thrower, because of the cost, but on the last weekend before Christmas I made an executive decision and ordered one from Amazon. It was supposed to be here on the 22nd, having shipped from Sharps NV to Spokane WA, right? Nope, UPS flew it to Louisville KY, and not satisfied, shipped it to Mathers CA before sending it to Spokane. It made it here ok—having traveled some 5600 miles. But then—UPS shut down deliveries because of weather. So we kept shoveling right through Christmas Eve, a 4 foot, 20 foot long berm on boths sides of the driveway, not to mention the back walk and patio and the front walk, and reaching our poor buried baby blue spruce, and having to do the driveway and front walk over and over  every time the plows would go by. I reached a point where I literally couldn’t straighten up after bending over as I rose from a chair. My left arm was getting tendonitis. And we’re in shape.

    Well, it came. And more snow is due, from a storm that reaches from Korea to Seattle, so we’ll get dumped on again, but at least we have the machine. It’s an 18" Toro electric, and works like a charm.

    Christmas day, one of our laptops popped and died. And trying to sort that out, we dropped the one that we fixed a year ago. It runs, despite a few chips out of the case.

    The new one doesn’t, but Jane has negotiated a new motherboard from Dell. I’m so impressed.

    We learned how to remove and install a hard drive in a laptop (2 screws). And we learned there is an adapter cable that will let you slave a laptop drive to another, desktop, computer, so we can bleed info off. But in the meanwhile, we are getting that baby fixed. Hurrah for that.

    I got the genealogy project part I off to relatives. I’m giving one to each branch of the families. It comprised 720 pages, and that’s only 1 of 3 parts.

    We still haven’t gotten all our Christmas packages from family, nor have all of ours gotten to their destinations. We’re still looking for them.

    It’ll start snowing again this evening. There’ve only been 2 days in the last 2 weeks it hasn’t snowed.

    We haven’t been to the rink. We’ve been too exhausted from shoveling.

    Christmas Eve we watched our Christmas movie, “The Lion in Winter,” and had bubbly. Christmas morning we exchanged prezzies and sat around and played video games most of the day.

    Today we’re back at work.

    And I’m about to load Namo onto this machine. If I can find the disk.


12/28/08 Sunday, 89270 words. [I clipped some outline off and this is the real count.] Yesterday it warmed up to 40, and that means melt—and potentially ice, but we were lucky, and the 40 degrees stayed all night and into today. It’s due to get colder, and will freeze, but we are hoping some snow falls very soon after the temperature drops back into the deepfreeze. We used the new snowblower to clear all the walks and drive (gotta be very careful with a gravel driveway and a snowblower: it can really launch pebbles!). And then I made spaghetti—we’ve got to reform and get onto the diet soon. But we’re bad until New Year’s. We heard from Sharon, who returned home to the Big Dig at her place. And I still haven’t found the Namo disk. My office is definitely under a different kind of snow—paper, lots of paper, mine, Jane’s, and stray stuff from the post office. Jane’s trying to pack the last Christmas mailings, I’m writing, and right now there’s no snow anywhere it needs shoveling, a strange condition for this month. We don’t know what to do with ourselves. We need to get back to the rink—when I do I’m going to wear one of our big black poofy coats, because the last time I tried to skate in deep cold, I pulled a charley horse that still kicks up a bit, and I want to skate warm, thank you, and try to work off some of those cookies. To all of you who faithfully check this site for updates, I apologize. I’m going to have to totally change my procedures and use a software that’s unfamiliar, but I understand I can upload all this at once, so I have hopes of doing that soon (with Jane’s help.) I hate to be such a wuss about a new software, but I am a bear of small brain when it comes to uploads and downloads, and have gotten FTP going in the wrong direction so many times with disastrous results that I am really antsy about this notion. We opened up the house today: both of us are feeling dull and stupid, and I think having the vent pipes on the roof blocked is causing some of the stuffiness in the house: so we are breathing cold winter air and hoping to have a brain.        


12/29/08 Monday. 90956. Well, it started to snow again. It was supposed to snow 2". It passed that by 8 am and kept going, wet, soppy snow, the kind you *don’t* want on your roof. We decided against going skating, because it’s still the holidays, and I hate skating with unsupervised kids who are over-sugared and on holiday from good sense. So we decided to do some final holiday mailing, and Jane got that ready to go. Meanwhile the snow is getting thicker, and we needed to get a routine prescription filled for Jane and get to the USPO, so I took a hot shower, and Jane industriously hauled out the snowthrower and started throwing. All fine—until Jane, working alone at this stage, hit the berm the plow had thrown up. Ice chunks the size of a horse’s head. I arrived out there and started pitching in, using the pronged mattock to break loose the chunks, and then throwing them onto the far side of the berm parallelling our drive. It occurred to us we should be throwing them onto the side the plow will hit second, not first, so as not to get them nudged back into our drive. So Jane hacked and pitched until she was blue in the face and I got the blower going and cleared the drive and back walk/patio. Then we headed for our errands, which was a snowy, sloppy mess of streets: holes worn by the 40 degree yesterday, and new slick wet snow atop. We got everything done, however, and got home to do it all again. Jane worked out front, which is hand-work, I worked out back, which is machine work, and then we lost each other. I got quite worried because I couldn’t find Jane, who had been helping a neighbor get her car up her drive—and I hadn’t seen her since. Plus when I came inside to make a phone call, I hadn’t heard her go through the house. I had shut the garage door, which would effectively lock her out from the back; and I discovered no Jane in the house, and the lock on the front door. I called. I searched. There were no tracks on either front or back walk. And the garage door was still shut. In the great comedy of life, I apparently looked just before she opened the garage door, and the snow was coming down so fast it had already blotted out her footprints, because she did turn up later, after I’d been out searching the front and re-clearing the front walk of 2" of snow. I heard the blower going again and went out and there she was, competely unaware I’d been imagining her flattened by a city plow and become part of the berm. So we settled in to try to get some work done, but we are exhausted. And the wind picked up, the sky cleared a bit, and a 34 mph wind began blowing snowballs from the trees and roofs. At last count we had about 8-10" of snow this morning, and hopefully, though snow is forecast for the rest of this week, it will be moderate and maybe colder and not so wet. My leather jacket is soaked through, my tam is soaked, I’m soaked, and I opted for another hot shower. Meanwhile we did get a call that the part for Jane’s computer is in town and they are going to fix it tomorrow.


12/30/08 Tuesday. 91222. More snow. And we shoveled and snow-blew again, fighting through the berms. We waited all day for the computer repairman, who finally got here at 6:45, in the dark, via the driveway on the arterial, because the front street is nearly impassable and the berm out there gives little space to park. He worked over two hours getting the laptop apart, (very little remaining once you remove the motherboard tray) and reassembled with a new motherboard. My brother, during the same time, didn’t fare so well: he got 18 hours of on-phone time with various Dell people before finally getting a repairman—so I have now formed a rule: I’ll talk to ONE Dell person, but if they start into the second round, reiterating what the last guy did, I’m asking for a supervisor. No complaints about the repair guy—except that we hadn’t had supper yet. I was pretty well hungry before we finally finished up near nine o’clock and got him safely through the back and out the drive. The laptop lives!


12/31/08 Wednesday. 92186. We have had some very sad news during this period, which I hesitated to mention without Sharon’s leave, because it involves other people, but our friend Sharon’s mother passed away, and Sharon and Steve and others of their family, one from Canada, had to drive to the south of the state to be there, in absolutely wretched weather, one of the worst and most dangerous storms of the season. So we have been very worried about Sharon and Steve on several accounts. We heard from them yesterday, inbound to Spokane. Hugs, Sharon and Steve. It made it a good new year’s for us just knowing you guys are back and safe.


1/1/09. Thursday. 92186. We watched a little of the Rose Parade, had blue corn waffles (the mix was a gift from our former real estate agent, who travels about with little goodie bags during the holidays. She caught us trying to knock snow off our porch overhang—up on a ladder with bamboo pole and shovel.) We spent the rest of the day playing video games and watching anime.


1/2/09. Friday. 93211. Making some headway. Did I mention this roof collapse thing is getting scary in town. One of the groceries we use lost its roof: there was a loud crack, shoppers abandoned carts and ran for the exit just in time. Something like 15,000 square feet of roof caved right over the produce section. They had only one injury, thanks to fleet-footed shoppers and workers. Other businesses have had the same, usually at night, thank goodness. And carports are pancaking all over town. We’re a little worried about the rink. I am meanwhile quite frustrated at this internet thing, and am going to have to switch softwares. I am definitely going with Namo. We have a disk for that—somewhere. I finally gave up and ordered it from Amazon, the newest version. I can so change—not willingly, where it comes to software, but some time or another, you have to change your procedures. Anything that lets me update in a sane and frequent manner. I’ve had it trying to manage Frontpage with our server’s craziness. So by next Wednesday (the next big scheduled snowstorm) I may be able to post this. The good news is I didn’t gain weight over the holiday, not from fruitcake (thank you, Lynn!) And not from Russian teacakes. I’m right where I was. There’s something to be said for getting off sugar and starch altogether for a while: when you do go back on it for a brief fling, it’s as if your body has re-set its youthful ability to handle it and get rid of it.


1/4/09 Sunday. Sharon came over last night and we had a little belated Christmas as we exchanged gifts and did in the last of the blueberry bundt cake. It’s hard to get about with the roads as they are. And Steve, bless him, called up and volunteered to try to get the snow off our roof before the next big storm dumps another foot on us, as it is supposed to do tonight. It’s getting serious for roofs, since this will likely be ‘wet’ snow (higher temps) and heavy, and we already have 2 feet of snow on the ground, about 20" on the roof (compacted) and some of it is heavy snow, which just makes ice. So we’re hoping he can help us out. You risk a little roof damage from someone working up there, but nothing to what happens if your snowload exceeds safety. We’re going to owe him bigtime for this one. I’m almost more worried for our garage, which is separate, and much lighter-built. We’re just crossing our fingers if he can’t do it—we did get up and clear one 7x7 porch roof, where it juts out with minimal support, and that was hard work. Doing the whole roof is just beyond us. Did I mention we found Steve’s Christmas present? It’s in Hialeah FL. But it’s coming. They swear it is.


1/5/09 Monday            Well, Steve didn’t make it. His own roof was frozen and thicker than ours. He did come by to take a look, and promised to come if we hear creaks from the roof, but so far so good. It snowed another 8 inches, and we should pick up 4 more tonight, to make a full foot before it starts to rain. As to why we have so much snow in the yard and not so much on the roof, it’s this: heat from the house, (and ours is well-insulated, so we don't get as much as most) melts the snow and causes the crystals to collapse into ice; so does its own weight; plus the sun, when we get it. We have 72 inches of snow fallen, but it looks like 24, it's so compacted. The snow in the yard is on cold ground, so it is less compacted. The snow on the roof also oozes downward, so it overhangs the backyard by about 10", just because its own weight has flattened it and suspended an ice-sheet from the edge of the roof, sort of like a second roof. When a plow picks up snow, it disrupts all the crystals and agitates it, so even fluffy snow, once hit by a plow, freezes as it lands and becomes pretty solid. This is the same reason people can't dig their way out of an avalanche: once moving snow picks up energy, it partially melts, then sets like concrete around whoever it landed on, and that person can't move. Sand is mixed into this messy berm, and just adds to the fun---along with big ice chunks picked up by the plow from splash from the street edge. It's just lovely. And they toss it about 4 feet into your driveway, so you can't let it really set: you've got to get out there and clear it before it sets up totally solid. Once it sets, a pick will bounce off it. And despite the fact I was sweating so my hair was soaked, my core temperature had dropped so far once I came in, it took one more hot shower to get it back. Those are the tricks this weather plays on you. And why do we worry? Our roofs can handle 30 lbs of water per foot. Each foot of snow that lands when the temp is below zero is very 'dry': its crystals have long arm-spines and it's very light and fluffy, what they call 'powder'. As the temperature rises and it's snowing, the snow crystals come down stubbier, and clump up, and the moisture content of the snow per foot of snow doubles. So to calculate the snow on your roof you have to know how much of what kind of snow landed on it. We got two feet of powder, before we began getting the heavy stuff, and have gotten lighter snow now and again. So our roof can be calculated to bear 120" of powder, but only 60" of 'wet' snow. And we have reached a point at which it is useful to worry. Our roof is pyramid-shaped, and this helps. People with flat roofs have a real headache. Our grocery had its roof fail while shoppers were in there---and people heard a loud crack and knew and ran for it: so did the employees. Only one minor injury. But if your ceiling develops cracks or you hear groaning or cracking of your roof beams, you are in trouble. Steve has to work today, but he has said if we hear or see anything amiss, call him. Going up on a roof that is about to collapse is only for the brave, but he would at least try to help us. I hope we will be all right. This house is built 'above' code in many respects, has a good roof, and there are worse in town, for sure. It is due to warm up and rain, and you might think this is good news, but rain can add to the moisture on your roof if it doesn't succeed in washing some of the snow away. So it can worsen the problem before it makes it better. We have our fingers crossed that we warm up long enough to shed some of this. This is an all-time record for Spokane.

1/6/09 Tuesday. One more time, out to clear about 3" of snow. Yesterday I made myself sick from cold: just got chilled and couldn’t get over it until late evening. This time I did all the snow-blowing and Jane did all the shoveling. Easy to see how you can think you can do something in the bitter cold and get into real trouble by exerting and panting: your core cools down despite the fact you’re sweating, and it gets worse and worse. I really pushed myself way too hard. Today it’s warming a bit, and we are forecast for several days of rain. Another building collapsed just north of us, an office-strip building. It’s really something. Yesterday I was too done in to work. I am feeling the effects of just what I’ve done today and hope to feel better in about an hour.


1/07/09 Wednesday. The melt has started. It’s 40 degrees, and pouring off the roof. We went back on the ice—the rink this time, and passed the local Hancock Fabrics, which had collapsed, and several other businesses that have collapsed. One restaurant is advertising that it has a clear roof. We are opening the house access to the attic in hopes of hurrying this melt along before we get cold weather again. The new internet software (I am tracking it) is now somewhere in Kentucky. I’ll be anxious to get my hands on it so these updates can be more frequent.


1/8/09. Thursday. Skating again. I’m still not up to the time on the ice that I could manage before this long hiatus. I tell you, when you reach my age, you give up a little ground and it’s hard to take it back—but I’m working on it. The ice was somewhat crowded with kids, too, from schools still being out: it’s too dangerous for kids to walk, because sidewalks are covered and they’d be walking in the mucky streets, out with the cars. Plus one school bus barn has partly collapsed and the National Guard is out shoveling school roofs—about time, I’d say.


1/09/09. Friday. The melt continues. But now there are ice jams and floods, some quite serious. Over in Seattle, the major interstates are cut off by avalanche danger in the Cascades and outright flooding in the south. Travel is still hard and dangerous. Sharon’s mother’s services are today down in south central Washington and our thoughts are with her. Stay safe, Sharon and Steve!

1/10/09 Saturday: 96780. Getting some creative, non-editorial work done finally—trying to write the ending to this book, or at least head full tilt toward it—and the galleys came in on Deceiver. I won’t sacrifice the momentum of this book to try to fix a handful of typos likely to occur in Deceiver. I just can’t do it. Jane’s going to help me out on this one. It’s incredible timing. Sigh. But the software to get the webpage up and running has actually arrived, in the dark last night. Couldn’t believe it. This software really scares me. I’m used to Frontpage. The only things I’ve ever done with direct, undisguised FTP, I have screwed it up so badly so often that I have lost text, blown my website offline, totally lost it from existence, disassociated all the links—just a laundry list of foulups. I am congenitally unable to distinguish an upload from a download or to figure out where I am, and am always overwriting the one I mean to post. Why don’t they call it: Post this? And Erase that? Eh? But Jane is going to help me, and I mean actually write out the procedures so I don’t screw it, and you may actually see this text soon—if the website survives

1/11/09 Sunday. We appear to have survived and actually updated. I still haven't fixed the hit counter: I have my eye on a couple that may work. I don't mind a discreet ad for the service, but I don't want it up in the design. It snowed last night---but in a quiet, civilized, melt-off-the sidewalk sort of way, for which we are duly grateful. We suffered a little from the extreme weight of snow: a copper fountain has bent; and the wonderful 'dancing frogs' hose guards Jane got me for my birthday mostly broke off their foundatons, so she has mended those and we will use them for their whimsey, not their hose-directing potential. I think they were, being resin, too fragile for the purpose anyway; and Jane is a very good mender.//I am about to make my peace with this software: it popped up with the correct info and rememered its connection with my site, so I am mollified. We had a little initial trouble, because, as you know, my site is a couple of decades old and has some 'undocumened features' buried in its structure. Namo will actually help me do some cleanup on that score. My site map is absolutely shameful. Frontpage is nothing if not given to redundancy, and its code is, well, sloppy describes it.//We start the new year at least on line and functioning, after a very hard December. I'm no teenager, and the amount of shoveling and just running the snowblower was pretty hard. It was a really record snow. Counting that Seattle vicinity got 15 inches of rain, we can only be grateful that that didn't all get over here, or we'd be camping under canvas in a maze of toothpicks. We have resolved we won't begin to take down the Christmas decor until Valentine's, and we're just skating a bit and recovering.//The book is going well, now. And I'm feeling fine. Had that rough go in December,  days when I was just too exhausted to work on anything delicate. But now is a lot better. Until the galleys arrived. Sigh.//Like everybody else, we're feeling the financial pinch and trying to economize, which means I cook and we don't eat out. I like cooking. But it does take a bit of energy, too, and I love going out. But we're gaining on it. We'll pay off one card this next month, and that'll leave us with only one to pay off. We were good for Christmas: gave each other only one gift at Christmas and one at New Year's. Jane gave me 2 skating skirts and a set of blade guards, and I gave her a Toscano fairy---and a second one for the garden, because she loved the little piper-fairy in the catalog, and they offered a 2-fer. The tank is a mess: that got away from us, too, but we're going to fix that. Over all, I'm very glad to be back on line and updating. Now watch: I get to figure out how to make sure I have a copy [save] and that you do too. [publish].

1/12/09 Monday. 99000 approx. Making some progress now. Sometimes you get to a spot in a book that you know has a sequel where in order to do the story where you are, you have to plan some of the next book. Which is what's been slowing me down. I took to the ice again today: I need that exercise. I'm doing fairly well at getting my feet back under me after the long holiday, but we are already forewarned that Monday next is a school holiday. Read: the thundering horde, half unable to stand up and the other half unable to brake. Scary beyond belief. I think I'll sit next Monday out. Sharon came over after work this evening: she and Jane went off to their ballet class. I am not, it is well known, a balletic person. I'm fine on the ice, but gliding around on boards hurts. A lot. We have had a computer kind of day. First we went over to Joan's and got her back online, after a power glitch blitzed her modem connection. Then Jane volunteered to help me get actual e-mail onto my personal computer. This was important for two reasons: I have a live shipment coming in: the fish tank. I've ordered a sea slug to attack this caulerpa. Google that. It's a worldwide plague, and anybody who deliberately puts it in a fishtank, or worse, looses it into the wild, is nuts. So I need to track that. Naturally---they haven't shipped it yet, never mind their promises. And two, I had signed up for a new hit counter for the website---which you may have noticed. Getting that up there took being able to cut and paste and guess which of several blanks to check both on the hit counter provider AND on my own software. I finally, as you note, got what I think is the right combination. So we are finally patched up and running. I'm sitting here watching Jurassic Fight Club and hoping the updates will go on working. Crossing fingers. I still don't know when I'm getting the sea slug, but I definitely have the hit counter.

1/13/09. Tuesday. The rink ice was really great today--- but I just wasn't doing too well. Just wasn't feeling too spiff, and stepped onto my heel, oh, about four or five times. At my stage, a heel pivot and recovery is just not the sort of thing that's good for your adrenaline levels. So I decided to get off the ice after about half an hour, before I killed myself. So I sat and read for a bit. Jane, who shoveled more of the berm clear yesterday, and had ballet, was so sore she could hardly walk. I should note, about the update dates: I still haven't found a way to replace the bot that automatically updated the date of a page---so if I get absent-minded, the date-updated note on the splash page may or may not be exactly accurate. I try to catch that when I see it. Or maybe I'll find the right little bot to handle this. The only one I can find posts all dates in GMT, which not everybody figures easily. Meanwhile work goes on, and the snow still melts. Terry showed up at the rink: she's been digging out ever since the Big Storm, and where she lives, on an elevation, that's no easy job. Myself, I woke with a splitting headache for no good reason, unusual for me: didn't even party the night before. I'm getting anxious for the pond to re-emerge from the snows. We have a few stones showing here and there.

1/15/09 Thursday. 100,000 plus words. Work is going well.. My endurance on the ice is increasing. Made it to about an hour today. I used to go 2 without a problem. But there were a lot of people with recreational blades on the ice today, and it seemed a little 'soft', too, so it was getting diced into trenches. I don't need adrenaline-laced surprise detours (the result of your blade getting into somebody else's trench) that much, so I finally gave up a little early. Sharon and Joan and Terry and Colleen and Jane and I all went out to lunch for our belated holiday/birthday event, and had a good time. I also had a dessert, which I shouldn't do: I don't normally eat a lot of sugar. Meanwhile, yes, I know the unarchived file is getting pretty long, but I'm still getting used to this software and don't want to lose anything. I'll archive soon. And I *have* gotten those accidental multiple loads of the segment I did on my wordprocessor deleted, so that should tidy things up a bit---thanks to the reader who called my attention to that. It's that new software and getting it aimed correctly.

1/17/09. Saturday. 101918 words. Yesterday we did go in to skate, despite a dusting of tiny, tiny snowflakes that could have made things slick on the roads. Went out to lunch with Sharon, and pretty well relaxed the rest of the day. Saturday, today, we went to the closeout at Circuit City, but the discounts were only 10%, not enough to tempt us on our budget, and if you check the number of people leaving empty-handed, pretty much the same for most. We'd love to have one of the new blu-ray players, but our HD tv is about 8 years old, and doesn't have HDMI: a converter is pricey, and when you look at the technicals, the input of a component input is pretty well what it is, la! and you're stuck with it, no matter what you started with. We have a really lovely HD when we can get a signal, but the cable only delivers a 480i, and that's that, too. Bummer! We used to get a lot better off DirectTV, but it used to require me to brush it off and reset the unit every time it snowed, and it was one thing when it was on our balcony. Now it would be on our roof, and considering the Dish network dish that is up there was buried a foot deep in snow for, oh, about a month, that's kind of dimmed our enthusiasm for satellite. So here we are: we're just going to be content with what we've got, and we should be. I remember looking through your eyelashes to make the distant signal from OKC to Lawton OK resolve into something like moving figures. I can abide a little fuzz in my video images, particularly as my eyesight isn't 1080i, either. Jane's in there trying to figure if there's a converter, but I think the short answer is that they're going to push this HDMI thing until it's all there is, and then somebody will figure how to hack that copyprotection and the whole waltz will start all over again. Ourselves, we watch mostly anime, anyway, which isn't that demanding, and we should just be happy with it. Meanwhile the weather today is hat it was yesterday, except the hemlock outside is mostly melted of ice, and I see a little bit more of our roof. My computer has renounced its connection with the printer (again!)but seems to hold the website connection, so all is well here. Probably Sharon will visit us today. And my sea slug that is supposed to eat all the caulerpa I am not currently picking out of my tank is still on backorder. We still have hopes for it.

1/18/09. Sunday. 103021 words. Not too much going on today, except work, which is good. It's warm out, at nearly 40 degrees, but thanks to Sharon bringing us our Costco order yesterday, we're snugged in and working away zealously. Lord! It's one of those sleepy winter days when you just can't muster any zip at all. But the cloud deck is thinning. I actually saw the moon near dawn, sort of a ghostly moon that came and went a lot---and there was a bright blue sky at noon. It immediately clouded over again. If you look at the unusual configuration of the jet stream, sweeping down almost to Mexico and then up to near the Canadian border, a very deep swag that leaves us and everybody in that loop clouded in, you understand what's going on. Moisture is headed east, ultimately, as that wave migrates. I'm not sure what's going to come behind it---I should check out Siberian weather for that, I suppose. But we are probably not done with winter yet, and we have not yet moved the snowblower from its position obstructing the mudroom door.We are still prepared.

1/19/09. Monday. 104382. We laid out of skating today because of the holiday. The kids being out of school are going to be like a band of otters hitting the ice, and hitting the ice is not an uncommon event. The really scary ones are the kids practicing falling, and careening wildly among other skaters. So we stayed home and worked, and we also tackled the accounting, which has gotten a little backed up. Jane is trying to rescue me. I am the world's worst mathematician. String theory I can almost figure. The naturally understandable concept that checks carried over at the end of the year have to be handled as outstanding debt has not always occurred to me naturally, I mean, it's last year's date, isn't it? And I wrote them. So they're handled, right? Logic deserts me when confronted with an accounting snafu and I stare at it helplessly. Occasionally I have searched check registered for a number, found it, only to discover it was pure coincidence and the number I was looking for actually was the sum of five other numbers I did not in the least expect. So thank goodness Jane, an ex-math-major, does not allow me to lead her into flights of fantasy. I managed to lose a paycheck. I'd written it. I'd deposited it. I'd paid taxes on it. I hadn't recorded it, but it wasn't in the month in which it was missing from the account I could find, but from back in September. This is what makes me crazy. If it was missing in September, how could I not know it until January, and have it look as if it was in December? Ah, well. Foster/Smith has located my sea slug, and the poor thing is now airborne somewhere over California, as we speak, so it seems as if I should prepare tomorrow to receive this creature---which means not skating. It's called a sea hare, and some people find them cute. I find them creepy beyond belief, not being fond of slugs myself on land or sea, but if it successfully removes the caulerpa from my system, I swear I will kiss its little rabbity ears.

1/21/09. Wednesday. 106182. We just had a very special skating session today---sharing public ice with Todd Eldridge, John Zimmerman, and Jennifer Robinson for an hour and a half...and if you don't know them, google the names. They're amazing. They were coming back from Osaka, Japan. Stars On Ice is this Friday, and they wanted to get their feet on the ice and recover from jet lag, and happened into our lesson sessions today. The kind of look you get at the technique when you're on the same ice with a skater on that level is just amazing: edges so deep the side of the boot is only half an inch above the ice, spins that go on and on, perfectly centered---we were delighted. I felt a little guilty having a lesson and having a little concentration trouble on a new figure---hard to concentrate while you have one eye on John Zimmerman and are hoping he's not needing to come down-ice in the next move. But I finally got the point---simple, once I got it through my head I'd been rehearsing one piece of it for 2 weeks---and what a session we had. Just me and Jane and Hank, so they had a fair amount of room, and needed it. // And my sea slug came. He's healthy and active, about the size of a golf ball, brown spotted, with the appearance of rabbit ears, hence the name 'sea hare'. As yet I can't prove he's eating that cursed caulerpa weed I got him for, but I have hopes. He's rather cute, and we call him Kumagoro, after a certain anime rabbit.

1/24/09 Saturday. 106694. It's been a wild couple of days...can't say why, just things got a bit behind. Skating's been iffy---trying to work on a new pattern and the ice has been crowded---this is two steps to a 3-turn and a radical lean into the edges on exit, lean the other direction and back-crossover, then step out onto the same lead and another 3-turn, repeat, total of 4-6 of these patterns from end to end of the rink. There are a lot of things to remember, and you're going backward and trying to remember your balance and simultaneously be in position to see whether you're about to run into somebody---which some beginning skater who doesn't know how to analyze what you're doing may also be going backward and plow right into you. So you try to snatch some coherent practice (two of these connected is aout all I can do currently, but I am trying for three) and try not to get killed by a six-year-old hockey hopeful or a 3-year-old with a push-bar. The good thing was much of the old gang showed up Friday: Sharon and Colleen, Dawn and Becky, Stacy and Hank and Larry: we were missing Terry. Then Friday night was Stars on Ice, where Zimmerman, Robinson, and Eldridge performed. We were seated in row A center ice, which should have been great seats, but then some genius in management used the risers under the on-ice seating, which meant we were looking through a forest of heads, and it was a real struggle to see---but we enjoyed it all the same: it's a good thing to be with friends who don't suffer the same sort of meltdown as one lady at the Customer Service window (we were buying our tickets for next year during intermission) who was also in Row A and very upset, never mind the lline of people trying to finish their business before intermission was over. We just accepted the limited vision and enjoyed what we could see. And Sharon caught one of the toss-goodies they threw from the ice: a stuffed Smucker's strawberry. ;) What can we say? It'll join Sharon's plushie collection. We got home lateish. We'd gone over to Anthonys On the River to have a huckleberry slump (a little cobbler with ice cream) before the performance, so that was supper. And the performance itself was a little different than prior years: first, we were sorry about the crowd: ordinarily Spokane fills the seats---but not last night. We filled most of the lower tier. But the recent weather, the economy, all of it has hurt ticket sales. And the cast was smaller than usual, and there was a general lack of lights and props and sets compared to other years---but it had the feel of an old-fashioned ice show, in which the performers, including all the above, plus Sasha Cohen, Jeffrey Buttle, Dubreil and Lauzon, Shen and Zhao, Yuka Sato and Michael Weiss---just cut loose and skated. They were a few falls: but there were spectacular lifts (Shen and Zhao) ---and spectacular prettiness (Cohen as a butterfly)---and spectacular acrobabtics. Spokane is the start of the tour, so there may be other elements added before it comes to your city, but turn out and support this show! We're sitting here today watching Nationals, which are going to come back to Spokane in 2010, so consider that, too, if you live in driving distance. Kumagoro still thrives, and does seem to be eating caulerpa weed. And they say we're going to get snowed on again. They've only just cleared the wreckage from the Hancock Fabric store just down from us, and I see construction materials stacked ready to use. I don't know how they're coming with our grocery store. But here it comes again.

1/27/09 Tuesday. 107291. I honestly meant to update on Sunday, but Sunday was pretty blah. We're working like madwomen trying to get the Conspirator galleys done...and still are. We sent off most of it by fax this morning, kind of an appeasement gift---You just can't do galleys for another book while trying to write the ending of the current book, and thus far it's been a madhouse---not that the weather has turned: it stayed relatively good. I reached into the tank and managed to put my wrist (I wear gloves) into the torch coral, which produced something like densely-packed measles on my arm, and it itches like poison ivy. Fortunately it's not contagioius like poison ivy: it's because little stinging cells shut little calcium carbonate harpoons into my arm. Vinegar and hot water help, and Sharon said to try OTC cortisone cream---well, we went to the store today, and guess what I forgot? It still itches like mad, and Ysabel has determined there is something wrong with that hand and she is going to cure it. She is perched on my arm right now as I try to type, washing it like mad. Curious thing, it actually seems to help a bit. We spent Saturday and Sunday watching the Nationals, and we actually agreed with the judging. We're really looking forward to seeing the Nationals here in 2010. Let's see---the weather was good enough, since the snow fizzled, for us to get down to our chiropractor, who tried his newest machine on us---and it did seem to help. Jane went off to ballet afterward, silly her, but she seems to have survived it. And we are officially trying to diet. We're going to be at Midsouthcon come March, and we want to fit into our convention clothes...too many Christmas cookies for both of us. The Palouse, on the drive, by the way, was gorgeous, all stripes of snow all over the hills---and surprisingly little on the ground, compared to Spokane, where you still see snow piled twice as high as our Subaru. We did go skating today, but we had a large family on the ice that seemed oblivious to the fact their offspring were running push-bars madly right between a coach and her student, and also kept hanging around skaters trying to practice, generally right where you had to do something else or knock them flat. Some people! But we were polite. It's nice for the little kids to enjoy the ice. We just wish the parents, who were also out there, had a clue. Well, best I bail off before Ysabel washes the skin off my arm.

1/31/09 Saturday. 107291. I got the book finished on Wednesday, and Jane also helped me finish the galleys for Conspirator, which I understand is now officially scheduled for May. She'd helped me by reading behind me and making her suggestions on the current book. Which means that now I start reading from the start and go over it in my own pass. We usually do this on the road, me reading aloud while Jane drives and delivers commentary, (I do it for her books, she does it for mine) but the weather's been too bad. So she started reading and just put her comments in bold type. So now I'm finding them. This is a fun way to be sure I don't miss anything. Or that we miss as little as possible.//The weather in general is getting warmer. We've had a couple of below 20 nights, but not often, and the snow and ice are just slowly melting, though the piles in parking lots are still two cars high.//We got a call from the rink that Thursday was going to be a mess with about 40 kids, so we laid out that day. We did go in to skate Friday---after we both got the annual cholesterol checkup, which meant not eating or drinking anything but water from seven pm Thursday night. Jane had it rougher than I did, because she's taking that Thursday night ballet class, which means she has to spend energy like crazy and then come home to no supper.// We had lunch with Sharon, and then went home, after which Jane actually got some work done and I just caved in and took a long nap, preparatory to having supper and going to bed...big lot I got done. I'm just real tired, nothing much to show for it in the way of work, but I'm tired, I tend to procrastinate things when I'm tired, and things stack up and don't make me feel any better. But I'm up this morning at 5 and back to work, or trying to. We do need to get the Christmas decorations taken down and back in the garage. It's going to be a relatively warm day, around 40, and high time we did that. So I'll try not to fall asleep while boxing ornaments.

2/1/09  Sunday. 109382. Typically, an edit gets longer. Supposed to get shorter. Ah, well. This book is a little short, but I have a feeling by the time I stop filling in missing words, it's going to be about typical of this set of books. I'm liking it on re-read. That's always a nice feeling. And some of you may have noticed that my site was offline for a number of hours today. Go figure. It wouldn't let me in, either. has some hitches in its getalong, but I certainly hope this doesn't herald yet one more 'security revision,' which has usually ended up locking me out more than any person of ill intent.//We thought Sharon might come over today (and did record the Nationals Exhibition, Sharon, me friend) but she's probably up to her armpits in aardvarks.//We did get the Christmas stuff down and into the garage---it makes a 4x4x6 foot stack when compacted, and we got the stuff put away.//Meanwhile there's this guy that comes by with an elderly and infirm father in his truck and wants to haul stuff, and he's found it pretty lean pickings this season; so I let him haul away the hemlock branches that have fallen---thanks mostly to the dumptruck with the pond dirt that managed to ram our tree as it elevated its bed. Sigh. I hate it. We have one driver that never misses---well, except the time I had to run up and pound on his truck before he took out our fence---but he's good, mostly; and the other guy they send just cannot manage to get all the way in, and damages the trees when he hoists the bed.//I am trying to cure myself of glumness and lack of energy lately. I really cannot manage to wake up in the morning. I am really anxious to be at this next book, which will finish this arc in the Foreigner set, but I am mersed in edit.//Anyway, all is well, we are going to the rink tomorrow in the hopes it will not be filled with 400 five year olds, and I am going to make another assault on the inside 3-turn. I'm gaining on it. We have not watched the Superbowl. I usually do, my one football game for the year, but we were hauling boxes. I am waiting for the baseball season, and the possible resurrrection of my team...sigh, again. I do enjoy a good baseball game. But salutations to all of you for whom the Superbowl is a great delight.

2/7/09  Saturday. 111290. Finished! I got through all of Jane's read of Deceiver and all her notes, and made my own changes, and there we are. Done! This will go off to my agent Monday. Official date for Conspirator is April 28th. So Deceiver should be out maybe as early as this fall. I'll tell you, Bren's got a problem. ;) But I'm setting to work on the next one, which has no title as yet. I know, I know, I get the suggestions. ;) //I've been hard at work all week, taking not too much time off, except, well, Monday I came very close to actually nailing the inside-edge 3-turn, which has been particularly hard for me, and I practiced it around and around the rink over the next couple of days---so much so that I pulled a tendon in my left shin. Wednesday we had no skating because the rink had a big passel of kids in, so Sharon and Jane and I headed off to the Valley to do some fish store and wine shopping. And here's where it got curious. The assistant at the wine shop asked about the signing Thursday night, when I knew it was Friday---and I didn't say anything. One of my worst habits. I hate to contradict people when it seems a little off topic. I knew it was Friday. I've had it marked on my fridge forever, ever since I talked to the local bookstore. Thursday, I was still limping, so I didn't skate: Jane did. And Jane thought she was going to go to ballet, and we got halfway there, and she decided she was just too tired, so we U-turned and came back home. We had supper, and I'd just finished, when the phone rang: the bookstore, with a "Where are you?" I told them it was agreed to be Friday. Well, they'd advertised in the newspapers, and I don't get a newspaper. They hadn't called me. I offered to get down there---it would take me about 15 minutes counting getting dressed again. But they said no, they'd think of something. I said, well, I was set up for the following night. So they asked everybody if they could come back, poor people, and then called me back and asked if I could go ahead and come Friday. So I did. We actually had more people than showed up Thursday. I don't know why it happened, except I said "Sixth," and apparently the person who'd called me said "Fifth," and we agreed. I thought it was Friday the 6th, and that was the way I marked it on the card they'd sent me. Sigh. I get so upset by things like that. But it was sort of a no-faulter, just a misunderstanding. I don't know. At least I got the book done! Hurrah for that! The weather has spat a little snow at us, and will deliver more Sunday and next week, but today is another melt day. We keep losing a little. The pile by our driveway that we couldn't see over at its worst is now just waist high.

2/08/09 Sunday. 1593. Well, I have started on the new book, where Deceiver leaves off., and the opening went very smoothly: this is a good sign. Bren is in fine form and he's talking to me. The weather is moderate, but it's still icy out there. I did get the new lights for the fish tank installed: they're tricky, and I forget in-between-times how they go in, but they're fine. I have to run them on a shortened schedule so the corals don't sunburn: new metal halide bulbs are fierce at first. And the little yellow watchman we got last Wednesday still has not put in an appearance, but they're capable of hiding for 2 months, easy. I like the 'cryptic' fishes, the little guys who dodge into holes, but the yellow watchman goby carries it to extremes. I just hope he's ok: I'm very suspicious of the pistol shrimp. You want a real science-fictional creature, look up 'pistol shrimp' and 'mantis shrimp.' Right up there with clams. Anyway,  hopefully the shin I did in practicing the 3-turn will behave itself tomorrow, and I can get back on the ice. Our coach gave us a phone call---she was lazing beside a pool in Vegas, sipping mai tai's. We still haven't located the pond under the ice. And what else to say? Oh, there's an interesting-looking program on National Geographic tonight: Morph. This one is how dinosaurs turned into turkeys and wolves became whales. We're going to get a recording of this one for our favorite waitress at the Swinging Door...last Thanksgiving we wished her Happy Dino Day, and when she blinked, we cheerfully explained that this holiday very clearly celebrates the revenge of small furry mammals on dinosaurs, who evolved into turkeys. This really freaked her out---and to this day she occasionally mutters things about dinosaurs in our presence. So we are going to give her a copy of this program. She'll laugh.

02/11/09 Tuesday. 1829. Well, trying to work---and do the stacked-up year-end accounting. Makes you want a flat consumer tax in this country: if we had back all the man-hours and creativity we invest in trying to produce records on income and outgo, our GNP would climb by a good 10%, I firmly believe it. It throws me so completely off my work and out of my ordinary track it takes me a whole day to recover from just contemplating the regulations and reports, and  the report for the accountant, and printing out and faxing---I do not ordinarily live with office equipment and just the mental exercise of trying to prepare faxes is way out of Bren's world. I'm as helpless as he is without is Jane. It's a total shift of gears to run that sort of thing. We missed Sharon today at skating. The yellow watchman goby has put in an appearance, by the way. He is alive and well.

02/14/09 Saturday. Valentine's Day. 4168. I  managed to mess up my left foot and my right shoulder somehow, so I've been off the ice for a bit, though the week started well. Joan is back from Vegas. And it's been snowing intermittently, but melting more than it's snowing. I sort of hit the psychological wall this week, realizing how many things I still have to get done---this is the end of our fiscal year, and I'm just fried, trying to keep going with the writing, but there are 10,000 little ragtag things ranging from dying house phones and the need to do something about that to car servicing and bills to be paid and tax records to get turned in and just a ton of them. Jane and I made a list and have set to work to whittle them down---both of us. Real friends help you with lists of procrastinated items, eh? Friday was supposed to be a late skate with decent ice so I dropped Jane off, but it turned out the other half of the rink was having a hockey tournament, and the smell alone was offputting. (Hockey locker room doors being fanned back and forth)---so while I hied myself off to Costco to do some shopping, Jane had already u-turned off the ice to go to Freddy Myers across the street: her phone was at home recharging, so after shopping, then paying off my bill at Lowes, I showed up at the rink, battled my way to the locker room, and discovered she'd left, so I decided to go across the street. I figured I'd find Jane either in shoes, jewelry, or the electronics department, and there she was: jewelry. :) So we headed home---I'd picked up some dim sum meat buns, an offering at Costco, and y'know, those things are good? Anyway, we spent the rest of the day putting together the phones, going to the bank, getting some stuff done, figuring out the car warranty, and trying to fax in five different issues to our accountant, along with records, and also our lab results from the recent annual workup, which we couldn't figure: something in our phone numbers is not right; but we'll get it. It was just one of those 'detail' days. And this morning, Valentine's, I found Jane had left a stuffed critter, a toy cat, and a card in the chair I sit in every morning to brush Ysabel---and she'd gone back to her room. I retaliated by propping her valentines, from me and the cats, on the bathroom faucet, but eventually since I found out she was reading in bed, I just went in and handed them to her...with the question as to whether it would be eggs (she hates eggs) or pancakes (we're on a diet) or meat buns for breakfast. I wasn't too suprised. I'd love to go out this evening, but I'm pretty sure Jane will say she'd rather eat in, so I'll probably cook the steak I've thawed. Meanwhile Sharon is off at Radcon---good thing it turned out we couldn't afford the hotel room, because we were so behind we really needed that time to try to straighten things out. Now I only have about 5,000 little items hanging fire. At least the foot and the shoulder are better, but we have no school Monday, and I don't think we're going to go risk our necks on a mass-skate of kids on holiday. You can't get any good practice in while just looping the rink, and that's no fun, or not nearly fun enough, so I think we'll lay out and maybe whittle that list down some more.

02/15/09. Sunday. 4712. Chapter One done, and I'm happy with it. Well begun is half done, eh? Not quite. About 1/24th part done. How do I define a chapter, you ask? I try to keep them about 5000 words long. Occasionally I'll do a monster, and have to figure how to divide it---it's not fair to the reader, who may say, mmm, I'll just read a chapter before I go to bed, and then handing him a 20,000 word chapter? Cruel. So I try to keep it regular. We worked yesterday: I'd have loved to go out, but hey, it's expensive, so we stayed in. Jane had given me a Mounds bar for Valentine's, and we split it: split, it's ok on our diet, as long as we keep the carbs down elsewhere. It was better than the pancakes, which were the alternative sweet.//Observation: our city has banned phosphates. This is a good thing: phosphate in the water breeds algae growth, necessitating more alum flock to treat the water for algae, which is not good for us to ingest; and it harms fish and inverts, so they're healthier without it. Drop in the bucket: most lawn and agriculural fertilizer is heavy with phosphate, but at least we're trying. The downside isn't so bad  for laundry---but in a dishwasher, you have to use twice the water, because you have to use the rinse cycle to set up the dishes for the phosphate free detergent. Bummer. But good for the environment. Someday maybe Proctor and Gamble will figure out a phosphate free detergent that actually cleans dishes.//Observation 2: I am doing better about the procrastination thing: we have actually made some headway, and maybe I will pick up my bedroom/office, which right now has a manuscript that the cats had a squabble in the middle of. Dear cats. We've had them on a diet, because so many kitties get diabetes if you let them get too fat: they're losing weight and getting less complacent. Last night Ysabel got thrown out of bed three times because of rowdiness.//Observation 3: I've seen the cover for Conspirator---actually, they sent me a proof. I think this time it's Tano and Algini with Bren.//Observation 4. About 30 of my backlist are now available in electronic format, for those of you with readers. This was a surprise to me, but here's how it happened, and why. Back about 10 years ago, DAW made a deal with Peanut Press, for an electronic edition of these titles. Peanut was somehow connected with Seattle-Something-or-Another, which sold to somebody else. So I think Peanut is gone, though it may live on in some Palm versions, but the book printing rights were sold on, and that's how my books have ended up available on Kindle and on So these are not pirate editions. They're also not quite official yet, but we are confident that these entities will pay us as soon as various pieces of paper change hands, which should be done in days, not months. Also Penguin itself, which is the company inside whose operation DAW itself is an independent company, is doing E-Book versions, which I think are readable on the Sony Reader. I'd be interested (though I can't respond to every e-mail, please understand) in how many of you now have electronic readers and what format; and also in how many of you intend to get one someday soon and what you think you might buy. If you fit into either category, please e-mail me as with the subject line READER and I'll summarize the responses for this blog, in case you're curious.

02/16/09. Monday. Presidents' Day. 5905. A holiday for the schools and we are not risking our necks on the ice...I'm just home working, doing some housekeeping. It snowed last night, about an inch, but it melted by noon, which only leaves us with the 8-inch icecap, which is about 2 feet of really compacted snow, on our lawns.// I've been receiving info from some of you on readers. Of the 14-or-so who've reported in, we note that about 3 have the Kindle, about 5 have Sony e-book, and others have a variety of other readers or devices. Particularly of note is the fact that Kindle is not available for Europe, which seems to use the Sony E-book format...which explains, I think, why Penguin is E-book. It 's a British-based company, and DAW is within its American arm. Well, I am still receiving information, and this has proved interesting already. I'll keep you posted. One thing, by the way, that I do note about the new Kindle: it can read a book aloud to you. What kind of dramatic expression it manages I have no idea---and I have a feeling that Hunter of Worlds, or even Foreigner, might really throw it.. I'd be interested to know. But it would be a great boon to sight-impaired people, no matter the expression or lack of it.// It all seems a field in rapid flux, for sure. If Kindle can read to you, I'm betting some of the other formats will figure out how to match them.//Meanwhile Jane just arrived with an armload of laundry---one joy is that this new washing machine can actually wash a comforter. So everything is getting laundered, and I have shredded a batch of papers from the geneology project---I'd like to start that up again soon, but right now I am just trying to get this book underway in good order. And thus far it is going SO smoothly I have to worry. ;) // Sigh. I'm getting bored with my cooking. I'd like to go out tonight, but we probably won't. I'll think of something.

02/20/09. Friday. 6592. And I'd been so good about updating. This has been a crazy week. Tuesday we got back on the ice. I'm having to be careful. I made several stupid mistakes of balance, didn't fall, but scared myself. We're making some headway with the accounting. And I've been doing some spring cleaning. Plus working, of course. And Wednesday we brought Sharon home with us---she's getting a new car. And it was supposed to have been delivered Wednesday, but after waiting all day to get the car---it turned out to be the wrong car sent over from the Missoula dealership to Spokane. Pricier. Real nice car. We saw it after dark, when they offered to take Sharon home. Well, Thursday morning the dealership got on the phone with the Missoula dealership, and they worked out a deal and called Sharon, and Sharon ended up getting that car. It's the top of the line Subaru Forester, a very pretty red, quite spiff, with a hood intake and every whistle and bell known to man. She's very happy and we're happy it all worked out.//Meanwhile I've made some progress with my backward edges, and the pond is actually beginning to melt some of its 8" icecap. This next week it's supposed to sock in and rain for about 5 days, and that should diminish the snow considerably.//The reader survey continues to draw mail, and it seems about a 3-way split between Kindle, Sony, and Other...other being a wide variety of readers.//Today we are going in to skate---we think---but they have a horde of preschool coming in and no time for an ice cut before we take the ice in public---meaning it's not going to be great ice. I'm trying to work on a precision edge and that's not going to help at all. But I suppose we'll go.

02/26/09. Thursday. 10652. It has, in fact, rained. A lot. Today it snowed for about half an hour, rather thickly, then gave up again. We are forecast to have more snow, then more rain. It's that season. We spent the weekend first getting Deliverer printed out---it is now mailed, as of today, instead of Monday, when we'd planned to mail it---which indicates, yes, that things have been chaotic. No sooner had we done that, and gotten off some more communications to my accountant's newly hired and very confused assistant---than the main computer dropped off to sleep and refused to wake up. That was the point at which we realized our automatic backup had been going onto, yes, the same disk. So...Monday we scurried around and got the computer in to service---which is now, since demise of both Comp USA and Circuit City, landing on the independent shops, bigtime. It cost us 50.00 extra to get to the top of the heap, which---counting I have an accountant badgering me for info and no printout---seems like something we needed to do. We really thought it was the power source, but power sources can blitz hard drives, so we were very happy when the disk checked out and we were good to go, on Wednesday, with a new power source. I, meanwhile, have not felt so good---aches and pains---and we're too busy to get to the chiropractor. And then---well, things just have been behind. I'm trying to get the accounts in order. And that's always a pain. I love tax time. And this is the finish of our fiscal year, so all that is landing on us. We've got to take the car in for routine maintenance. And meanwhile we're trying, like everybody else, to budget and cut corners: it's going to be tight this year. But the good news is the new book is going well, and I'm hopeful I'll be able to get out three books this year, to make up for my slowness of last year, and that will help.

03/01/09. Sunday. 11263. We skated for a while. Then we took the car in to the shop Friday, down in the Valley, with Sharon's help as auxiliary transport. We're just a little behind in getting things tended to---and they project the bill for this will be 700.00. Plus the oil change. Sigh. This we didn't need. But our faithful Forester (Subaru) soldiers on, and since we plan to keep it no few years, best we bite the bullet and get things fixed. The good news is that the tires are fine. We drove about in Sharon's new red chariot---Forester, vintage 2009, and quite the pretty thing. We went over to the fish store while waiting for a call from the mechanic, and still no pickling lime---I'm going to have to order that online. We had lunch at Scotty's, and got the bill from the shop. Aagh. So that's how it will have to be. Meanwhile I have a ton of things to get mailed, accounts to do: today marks the start of our fiscal year. I'm still trying to communicate with the new accountant my regular accountant asked to do the payroll reports. And we had to enter the credit card charges. The tank skimmer decided to go on strike. I had to clean and fix that. That's done. I had to get things ready to mail. Answer correspondence. Fix the tank chemistry. Clean up the room. Do the laundry. Re-fix the skimmer. And re-re-refix the skimmer, which is now running very well. I have to print out all the financial reports for our accountant. I have to make out the February bills and accounts and make the corporate deposit at the bank (corporate taxes). And, and, and....Got some things faxed off to the accountant. I have a bunch of title pages I have to sign for Easton Press: they're doing a special leatherbound, signed edition of Conspirator. Which means I have to sign all the title pages which will be bound into the volume---that's 3 reams of paper, signed. It'll be an edition of about 1000, so if you want one, you'll have to hunt it down---you can query Easton, I suppose. I just sign the pieces of paper. So I have that sitting on the couch to do while I watch telly in the evenings. But they're fussy: they want it done in other than black ink, because apparently people who don't bother to look for the slight impression on the reverse of the page have accused them of graphically printing the signature in such volumes. So I'll do it in blue ink---which took a search. Almost all my own pens are black ink. I found two that aren't, and the job will pretty well use those up. I do try, whenever I sign things, to use ink that won't fade out or go pale, but by what I know, you'd be better off with black ink in that regard: nice black carbon pigment tends to stay put. Look at the cave paintings. Carbon black.

3/10/09 Tuesday. 15153. It's been a week---what can I say? First of all, my accountant assigned a newbie to the simple job of preparing our employee reports, which are now 2 months overdue---after 5 e-mails and finally explaining to this young woman, yes, there are two of us. I just got the envelope from her and I'm scared to open it. Then there was the doctor visit. Both Jane and I got blood tests, annual routine, but this time on the suggestion of a medical friend, we included vitamins and thyroid. Well, I'm low in 2 of the vitamin/mineral lot, and the thyroid showed possible Hashimoto's disease---that's sort of an allergy to your own thyroid, so your body blitzes its output. Cure? well, none, but you take a supplement to give the antibodies something to gnaw on, and you end up with some left over. And Jane registered just low-output. So we got an appointment, each, with a pretty highpowered endocrinologist. Who wanted us each to get another blood test. So we did, at another lab, the same day we saw him and each got the same prescription (levothyroxine). We get a call later that the lab readings are different, and really not that bad, but we are both taking the meds anyway, in the theory that we'd just rather know if they'll do any good. I can say they do---immensely. Pain in neck and back: gone. Skin dryness: going. The list goes on into ten or so physiological changes, all of which check-check-check. I don't know if it'll help the weight loss thing, but the relief of pain and stiffness is huge. It's kind of an inconvenient dose: has to be taken in the morning on an empty stomach and all our other meds shifted to evening, but I have high hopes for this stuff. If I can get rid of that neck pain I've lived with for two decades, I'll be pretty happy. If my skin has moisture that doesn't come out of a bottle, great---I'm tired of buying bottles. In the meantime we're trying to do taxes, or at least get them off to the accountant. I'm readusting skate blades again---one had slipped a quarter inch out of alignment, and now that I've got that one perfect, I'm looking critically at the other one. Of course, when I took the ice with the readjusted blade I nearly killed myself in the first 20 feet.//And it's snowing again. We were supposed to get half an inch. We got 3 inches, but it's far from what we had before. I don't think we're going to have to shovel this. Maybe. This may, however, be the last of winter. I'm seeing 50's in the weekend forecast.

3/13/09. Friday. 15153. If you detect I've not been getting much done, it's because I've been packing and trying to get business stuff in order. We've gathered up the cats and a lot of baggage, loaded our faithful Forester and headed out. Our first leg is the worst: Spokane to Casper, with the loss of an hour to a time shift. We got out in good season, but it's just a long drive. The mountains were still snowy along the way, and pronghorn antelope and mule deer were abundant, down in the flat prairie between the snowy heights. This meant an uncommon hazard as night came on, and one mule deer doe scared the daylights out of us, standing right at the very edge of the road as our headlights found her. She was an older doe and too smart to go out, but I braked, and we had baggage and cats going every which way. It's a hazard of the range country---a very serious one. People have been killed by hitting a deer. We got in to barbecue at Banjo Bob's in Casper WY, which is only the best barbecue in the northwestern US, and settled in for a too-warm night. We'd actually been quite lucky to have a room: it seems it was basketball tournament time locally, and the room we got had apparently belonged to a less fortunate team, which had gone home.

3/14/09. Saturday. 15153. Onward to Las Vegas NM, note, NOT Nevada. That's right down I-25 from Casper, through all of Wyoming southward, then through all of Colorado, and about 80 more miles past Raton NM. To our great disappointment, the Inn on the Santa Fe trail has suffered greatly. Blackjack's, their restaurant, is closed for 'renovations,' and the office is now back in one of the rooms, and things just weren't right: add in the rather garish Kentucky Fried Chicken shop now sprung up like a red, white, and blue mushroom next door, and it's not the ambience it used to have. We split a Subway sandwich for supper, and kind of think we won't be going there again. We traveled on to old Route 66, connecting to I-40, on to Amarillo and then slanted on down to Dallas. We visited my mother and my brother, held consultations on art software---plus David was kind enough to spend a number of hours teaching Jane some of the nice points of Photoshop, at which he is a pro. We spent a few days there, and then on Thursday took out to Memphis, Tennessee, another 8 hour drive.

3/19/09. Thursday. 15153. Onward to Memphis, and to, it turned out, a new hotel, which was actually in Olive Branch, Missisippi, for Midsouthcon...thank goodness for the GPS, or as we refer to it, Cyber Sally. We found the place. The convention had been put to a late change of venue, and then a change of management, and our first problem was getting through the lobby with two cats. It seems this hotel wouldn't allow pets. Well.....our brave liaison pointed out we'd driven in from Washington, and we couldn't exactly go back, and with a number of phone calls to the manager, they agreed for a hefty refundable damage deposit, and we got our room. Since when we take the cats with us to a convention we use a ferret cage (admirably constructed to prevent escapes) that stands about 3x4 high x4 long...on wheels. It folds flat in very short order and can contain a litter box and their food and water. We set them at the window and they were happy and relaxed, and so was the hotel. Lynn Abbey drove up from Florida to join us, and we conventioned for several days with Mike Resnick, Vincent di Fate, and various others, and had a great time. The weather was a perfect 72 degrees and mostly sunny, only one little rain shower on Saturday morning. On Monday morning, we checked out, had our room certified undamaged, got the damage deposit returned to our host, and moved to a cheaper hotel, a very nice Motel 6 in Horn Lake, MS.

3/23/09. Monday. 15153 The beds in this Motel 6 are awful. They're memory foam, a first, and they're hot, and you can't turn over, and I really, really, really detest memory foam. But Jane and Lynn and I got to talking and doing business, and you, dear readers are going to see a lot of what we were talking about. Remember my questions about e-books. This was one topic. We have backlist. The market is no longer supporting backlist---it just falls out of print---and new readers don't get the books. The publishers tend to be "what have you got new?" and can we tie it to some 'trend'. Well, we're going to  become proactive. More about that soon. We also talked about modernizing our web presence, and I know, I know, change is scary, but I'm going to be guided somewhat by you, faithful readers. I'm going to, first of all, start cleaning up my website. We're also changing servers, getting rid of our too-pricey one, and going to one we've agreed on. Jane is getting her own domain, and all three of us are doing major web updates. Mine will consist of dumping some old things and adding new, so if there's a part of my current site you want a copy of  and think might be threatened by a change, download it. Things that will be safe: the advice to writers; the artwork, the timeline; the Universes, and the Progress Report archives. I am going to go over to a true 'blog', with an RSS feed, for your convenience (if you don't know what that is, neither did I before this meeting, but I'm getting a little orange icon up on the top of the blog that will be convenient for you to subscribe to the blog and find it easily.) Make the acquaintance of the Google Reader for blogs. That will be useful. It manages those little orange icons (RSS). And you will most likely have the ability to post comments to me or to each other once this gets going. There'll be, I hope, more pictures. More features. Most of the old will remain, but the links will all work, and the features that have gotten creaky with age will either get new functionality or go bye-bye.

3/25/09 Wednesday. 15153. On the road again....and since I now know how to access hotel internet, I have learned that our 2 day business conference probably saved us from big trouble, because we'd ordinarily have cut across I-40 from Memphis and headed up I-25. We'd have been in Sheridan---if we were lucky, because we'd decided on our return route, we'd go via Oklahoma City and on to North Platte, Nebraska, to Valentine, Nebraska, then to I-90, on to Wall, South Dakota, Spearfish SD, then on to Gillette and Sundance in Wyoming and then Sheridan WY. Well, it turned out I-90 was closed by a blizzard and people who were there were lucky not to be frozen in a snowbank. So...we went off to Norman, south of Oklahoma City, spent the night in a lovely Motel 6, which had flat-screen TV and is pet-friendly---all Motel 6's are. I logged on and found out the storm had dived south, and while we had, hearing of the situation up by Gillette WY, thought of going I-40 straight west, even to Nevada and up to Spokane via Las Vegas, Nevada and a lot of connecting roads, we now heard that the storm had cut us off from that: it was coming down on western Oklahoma. So our best chance was to head north in the morning. And floor it. If we were lucky, we'd skin past before the advancing cold turned the rain up there to snow. Plus there's yet another front rolling in from Spokane.

3/26-27/09. Thursday-Friday. 15153. We drove like bats, through rain at Wichita, and up I-35 as far as we could, then up some other roads to reach I-80, which took us on to North Platte, which, yes, had a Motel 6, kind of iffy-looking, but it proved very nice, and cheap, at 46 a night for 2 people and 2 cats. As we pulled around to parking, we ended up behind a late-model Solara which was totalled, and covered in ice. It had Colorado tags. I couldn't log on here, but Cyber Sally found us a wonderful restaurant, The Depot, which turned out to have the best fish and chips I've had since England. Jane's pasta dish was equally wonderful. We may have found a route to replace Las Vegas. And the next morning someone was loading an icy object that turned out to be a U-Haul trailer, and he had come up from Denver. Seems there'd been a huge wreck on the interstate, 30-50 cars involved. The Solara had a hanging black coat and grey vest that made me think of a morning tux, and maybe a wedding...poor chap. But we pulled out, dry and safe, drove over to Casper, had lunch at Banjo Bob's (the Sidelines Restaurant) and then headed up to Sheridan, and the priciest Motel 6, at 76 a night. We did have internet, however, and I checked out 'go' as the best plan, because Sheridan was due for a blizzard on Sunday. And all of Montana, where we had to go, was under a winter weather warning with the new front on its way..

3/28/09. Saturday. !5153. We drove like blazes, and got over the continental divide at Butte, Montana. We ate junk food, salt, grease, anything for energy to keep going, and shifted drivers every hundred miles. We were driving into the front, and we wanted to get over 2 more passes before dark. So on we went, and ran into heavy rain, a mist-out, in which piggish drivers with high-wheeled trucks would cut in front and blind you, then slow up---I swear, there's a hot spot in the hereafter for behavior like that. But we got over Lookout and Fourth of July passes, and then hit only hard rain, heading in. We had a supper of chili-spaghetti and turned in, absolutely exhausted. The caulerpa has taken the tank, our pond is thawed, and Sharon, bless her, has attacked us with pigs. Last time it was goldfish. This time a beautiful winged pig was on our hearth, with balloons, pig posters were on our bedroom doors, on our icebox---appropriate. And then little plastic pigs are strewn about as a challenge to find them all. We love Sharon! She's been keeping our fish, watching our house, and arranging a piggy surprise...what more could you ask?

3/29/09. Sunday. 15153. Did I mention it's snowing? Coming down steadily. And on to refurbishing my site. And, well, here is another question for option for cleaning up the website is Frames. Do you like frames? Do you have trouble viewing a Frames site? Write to with FRAMESNO if you want to protest Frames in the site. (Basically it's like pages where you have a big box for scrolling text up and down and pix across the top and usually buttons conveniently placed on the side. Most commercial webpages use them. You can also write to me if you have comments on my proposals for the site (see above). Use the subject line SITECHANGE. I won't be able to answer individually, but you'll help me make some vital decisions.

3/30/09. Monday. 15153. All the snow has melted and it's spring break---only a crazy person would go skate while the 11-year-old hockey amateurs are trying to find their feet and remember how to stop. I spent the day working on the site, and have gotten most of the changes going in. I've decided, having gotten a raft of "Oh, not Frames!" letters, to do a major revamp without Frames, and possibly to do some late trim-up with WordPress, which is going to be the blog software. Of course, just as I start to work, I lost the confounded hit counter---again---thus proving my expertise. I'll get it going. I'll figure it. I'm down to 32 broken links, 30 of which are all one pesky little bullet-gif that I can't locate, it's so small. But there are 30 instances of it. Of course. It's a dot, for gosh sakes! But it's messing up my site. And then---we do an update, and a migration, and I am making multiple backups. The Newsletter is toast, ditto the New Releases, and the What I'm Working on Now pages, which are replaced by the blog: so are the current excerpts from the Lois and Clark book, from Cyteen, and from something else I can't recall. There will be new ones. There's going to be a new Look at Books feature. And a proper blog. My blog title will be Wave Without a Shore, and it will be RSSed. Jane's doing the same thing: she's incorporating some new features you may like---but they're her surprise. Not everything is going to happen all  at once, but I am mostly through with my website modernization, and ready to start constructing the blog. The last day of the Journal will be the day before, but I will keep it all as an archive.

4/01/09, Wednesday, April Fool's Day. 15302. I've done some preliminary things---and first of all, dear people, tell me if you have button troubles. Test the one on the splash page, if you would, and then test those atop this file. Let me know if this is going to be a problem. I'd rather use the pretty blue buttons, but they're no good if they won't display. I'm getting back to work on the new book. And I do appreciate all the help and advice from many of you who have written with opinions and links. We're not quite prepared with the Look at Books content, which will be sparse only at first: oddly enough, the same harried writers who are trying to learn modern web-siting and blogging are also the ones who have to prepare those texts---so give us time! Ps...I tried to fix the counter. I have edited code and reloaded 20x, and still get an echo. Be patient!

4/02/09. Thursday. 13907. Sometimes you know when you get out of bed that things are odd. The first clue was a thick snowfall which is going to prevent us getting to Pullman for our chiropractic appointment. The second was the huge TV tower transmission truck parked in front of our house, with cameraman focused on our street. The third was the other transmission truck and tower parked across the intersection, and the weathergal bouncing up and down and trying not to freeze while her camera man set up. Then there was a city truck, marking lines in orange dye on the snow. And another city truck in the church parking lot across the intersection, probably a supervisor. Then the fire truck showed up, all this while I'm brushing Ysabel and enjoying my morning coffee. I rousted Jane out of her room---this was too good. She got her camera out of the car in the garage. And we tuned to the TV station in question, KHQ Spokane. There are, by the way, some odd loops of wire lying in our flowerbed by the curb, below the retaining wall. And, come to think of it, our big power-pole is a little crooked this morning. We checked out the report on the telly, and sure enough, there we are, our corner, and some unlucky soul had hit our pole last night, causing the whole major thoroughfare to be shut down for a while---I hope they don't tear up our juniper bushes when they straighten or replace that pole. Welcome to life at Castle Chaos.

4/02/09. Friday. 14404. It's snowing again, but very lightly and not sticking. Have you noticed that article on the solar minimum---the very deep solar minimum we're in? The Maunder Minimum, recall, was otherwise known as the Little Ice Age. Old Sol might solve our global warming problem faster than we think, if this sets in long and deep. Of course, back in that day snow was later and deeper in the northern hemisphere, mountains piled up snow, the North Pole was definitely frozen, and there were no auroras, for several centuries. I'd be sad about the auroras, but we could use a nice solar minimum to straighten out our own stupid mistake. We didn't get down to Pullman: there's one tiny curving hill down there that presents an amazing challenge for trucks, especially local semis. We know it quite well, having been stuck there for hours. So we stayed at home and fixed our websites. You won't see a radical change, but there'll be more buttons. If buttons won't display, you'll need Flash for your site. If you're still stuck, use your back button and complain to me. I'm preparing one of our first e-books: you'll laugh---I had the notion a wider audience might appreciate these annals, so I'm prepping this journal as e-books. It's so large I'm going to have to divide it. But I think I should do dramatic readings from 2003 at conventions. I can't believe we lived through that year, and I can't believe Jane stayed sane. I'm going to use that project as a learning experience and then get on to prepping, maybe, one of the Faery books. While, of course, keeping up my regular writing schedule. What it requires is basic typesetting, and because I know my wordprocessor very well and Adobe not at all (besides the high cost!) I'm going to try to do it on Word Perfect and convert to PDF. Last night we had a phone conference with Lynn Abbey about the site migration, and that will happen about as soon as I can lay hands on some live person at my current server. This can take days, which is one of the reasons I'm moving the site. The other, of course, is that if the three of us are in a joint venture, it's useful to have all the sites on the same server. So...onward and upward. And thank you, to the reader who pointed out that the HTML code was duplicated in the counter on the site. I checked: it was. It wasn't in my web editor. I'd uploaded that half a hundred times in various ways trying to fix it: I dumped "Noscript" off Mozilla Firefox: and then Jane and I set to work. We noticed the "script'" checkmark on the counter-server, checked that: then Jane noticed that the counter kept displaying in the graphic of my web editor even when it was erased in the HTML code box. So we got into the graphic wizzywig and nuked that display, reloaded, and it works! Our 'ghost' was in the graphic, can you believe? Now our number looks a little less like a billion visitors, but it rolls on as it should!

4/04/09. Sunday. 14404. The site change is, if not complete, at least underway. I've decided Flash Buttons are not the way to go, since they mutated, and what had been 'Main Menu" suddenly mutated to lead to "Panel Room" throughout the site. I located a means to do Link Buttons, which  is the current attempt. Let me know how that's going. {mail to: Again, I can't answer all letter, but I do appreciate them. Temperature has hit the 50's here. The medication I'm on---did I mention the thyroid thing?---has helped me peel off the five pounds I put on being very bad for three weeks on the road (Lord, I do not regularly eat biscuits and gravy, or drink beer, or eat Fritos!)---and suddenly, this morning, I'm now six pounds down, meaning better than when I left. I have been soooo good in my diet for years now and couldn't make any diet work. But all of a sudden with just a little good behavior, weight is going in a good direction. This is good! And every St. Paddy's Day, I treat myself to corned beef and cabbage. But we were on the road, in New Mexico, not the place to try to get this dish---so I decided to try it myself for the first time. This got funny. I have the larger Crockpot, and the instructions that came with the corned beef said cook two hours! Hah! I should have known better! I bought a head of cabbage, a single potato, and a small bag of mini-carrots. And discovered I couldn't get the lid on the Crockpot. You know the old gag about the cook trying to do rice, who uses every pan in the kitchen as the stuff expands? Well, it wasn't expanding, but it certainly wasn't cooking down, either. And it will---but not if you can't get the lid on. So I took about half of it and boiled it in another pan, then dumped it back in...but now I have enough corned beef and cabbage in that pot to supply half of Dublin. I learned a nice trick with that recipe: add a half teaspoon of nutmeg to the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef. On the computer front, I'm so anxious to get this site remake going. And anxious to start this book-download business. You people who have been with the Journal from the beginning can of course download the whole mess with my blessings for free, but I am tidying up the files into a book format, and offering it as our first download, with some emendations that straighten up some of the sparser passages. The 2003-4 section alone is 200 pages in 10 pitch format, in trade paper size, and I'll offer it, I guess, for 5.00---for people who want a neat-ish copy of it..I'm still thinking on that matter.Note: I am undertaking a new project---if I can't read the text size in my pages, I think it's time to up the size of the print. Has anybody got a suggestion on that? I'm getting smart now---I'm asking before I go and do the work.

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