Feeding My Inner Brat

I usually try to eat a healthy diet (except for a once-a-week indulgence in beer and deep-fried food on Friday evenings). But I adore all types of food, and I especially love that glorious full-tummy feeling after a big luxurious meal.

So my food intake has always been a balancing act. I’m lucky to have a forgiving metabolism, so I rarely gain more than a few pounds before realizing it’s time to (re)adjust. But I have a definite cycle:

  1. Healthy food in healthy portions
  2. Healthy food in portions that slowly increase until the plate looks comfortably full
  3. Generous portions of mostly-healthy food with frequent treats
  4. Big satisfying portions, with unlimited snacks and treats, woohoo!
  5. *sound of squealing brakes* …and back to healthy food in healthy portions

Unfortunately, there’s a big ‘culture shock’ between steps 4 and 5. When my portions are suddenly reduced to normal, the plate looks sadly empty; and it takes a while for my brain to adjust to how ‘normal’ looks.

Part of the problem is that I don’t actually want to adjust. My inner spoiled brat is perfectly happy with lots and lots of food and treats, so she constantly tries to undermine the efforts of my inner (and rarely-displayed) adult. Last week I thought I had everything under control, but then this happened:

My inner brat is definitely getting trickier, but I think I’ve got her subdued… this time. Please tell me I’m not the only one with an inner spoiled brat!

Book 17 update: I’m on Chapter 26 — over half finished the book, hooray! Bullets are flying, and the guy Aydan just saved might turn out to be an enemy. There’s always something…

Alien Volleyballs And Other Garden Lessons

Well, another gardening season has come and (almost) gone.  I’ve been gardening for decades, but every year I learn something new.  For example:

  • Never let Hubby start the tomato plants unsupervised.  Each spring we talk it over, decide which varieties we want to grow, and figure about twenty plants should do us. Then Hubby plants the seeds in their little cells (allowing a few extra in case of germination failure).  This year we had forty-three tomato plants, up from thirty-seven last year.  ’Nuff said.
  • Chickweed is a cover crop.  I’ve finally accepted that chickweed springs up to form an impenetrable carpet in the winter here no matter how I try to stop it.  So now I’m embracing it.  Chickweed conserves nitrogen and protects the soil structure, it’s cheery bright green all winter long, its fragile leaves and stems till easily into the soil in spring; and it’s even edible.  Win!
  • We rarely eat as many beets and carrots as I think we will.  If Hubby’s weak spot is tomato plants, mine is beets and carrots.  We still have carrots in the freezer and beets in jars from last year, and four long rows of each await me in the garden.  Anybody want twenty or thirty pounds of nice fresh beets and carrots?
  • Pumpkins have a twisted sense of humour.  Last year I planted four hills of pumpkin seeds and got four pumpkins.  This year I planted two hills and got thirty pumpkins.  WTF?!?
  • “Naturalizing” tulips don’t.  They’re gorgeous the first year, smaller the second year, and they vanish without a trace in year three.  But they’re so beautiful, I just keep planting them.  Some folks never learn.  (Other folks buy botanical tulips, which do naturalize. So I planted some of those, too.  You can’t keep a good addict down.)
  • Wet cabbage leaves are SLIPPERY.  One moment I was strolling over a layer of discarded cabbage leaves; next thing I knew I was on my knees in cold soggy mud, laughing like a lunatic.  Fortunately no cabbages were harmed; and I’ve never been particularly attached to my dignity anyway.
  • No amount of spring bulbs is “enough”.  I planted another couple of hundred crocuses, tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths this fall.  That makes over 2,000 bulbs we’ve planted on our property in the four years we’ve lived here.  (I need more bulbs…)
  • I have zero ability to manage outdoor projects.  They always take three times as long as I think they will, and something “more important” always comes up. This summer I completed projects I didn’t even intend to start; and didn’t finish projects I’d sworn were top priority.  But they all need to be done, so I’m hoping it’ll even out in the end.
  • Superschmelz kohlrabi is da bomb.  I love kohlrabi even though it looks like it was conceived by a green alien with an irresistible attraction to volleyballs.  This year I grew Superschmelz for the first time:
No, this isn’t Photoshopped – that kohlrabi really *is* almost as big as my head.

Any alien veggies in your garden?

Book 17 update: I’ve started plotting, woohoo! Stay tuned for regular progress reports starting in two weeks…

This Post Doesn’t Suck

Well, I thought I was over it, but apparently my attention-deficit dyslexia is back. When I first started misreading words almost ten years ago, I figured I’d be doomed to unintentionally discover psychological vomit, lap-dancing, kiss-ass guitars, fanfarts, and killer raisins for the rest of my life.

Maybe I got used to my reading glasses, or maybe my brain finally got its shit together; but my “Wait, WHAT?” moments gradually diminished, and it’s been quite a while since I misread anything. Until last week.

I was skimming an ad for e-books when my gaze snagged on a description that began, “In this absorbing sex bot

Wait, WHAT?!?

Some of the sci-fi books I read are a little risqué, and this wasn’t the first time I’d encountered the concept of sex bots. So I eagerly re-read *ahem*… that is to say, I ‘disapprovingly revisited’… the titillating offending text. Much to my disappointment relief, I had mentally transposed the first two letters of the words. In fact, it was a ‘box set’, not a ‘sex bot’. Damn.

(I meant ‘whew’. Honest.)

But since my mind was already in the gutter, it decided to wallow around a bit. I began to wonder: Why don’t we have sex bots?

New technology frequently copies science fiction. After all, flip phones were basically Star Trek communicators; and it wasn’t too long ago that the X-Prize was awarded for a Star Trek medical tricorder. So why not sex bots?

But communicators and tricorders were pretty clearly conceptualized on the show, so maybe the scope of the sex-bot project is too vague. Or maybe the potential consumers of that technology are justifiably skittish after reading about encounters with repurposed appliances like vacuum cleaners, which necessitated awkward explanations in the emergency room.

I don’t know the true reason; but I’ll leave you with a joke that landed in my email this week and made me laugh uproariously. (Thanks, Ethel!)

Hope you all have a week that doesn’t suck… or does; whichever you prefer. I won’t judge…

I Fear The Eagle

I don’t know why, but the Internal Revenue Service strikes fear into my heart.  It’s weird.  I mean, hell, I’m Canadian.  I have a justifiable wariness toward the Canada Revenue Agency, but the IRS shouldn’t even be on my radar, right?

Wrong.

Maybe it’s because of my innate problem with authority figures.  Maybe it’s just from watching too much U.S. television during my misspent youth, or maybe it’s the fact that the eagle in their logo issues a subliminal promise to cheerfully rip out my entrails and snack on them.  For whatever reason, the IRS scares me worse than the CRA.

This wouldn’t be a problem if, like most Canadians, I never had to deal with the IRS.  But when I published my books, I began to receive royalties from none other than the U. S. of A.  Which meant I had to creep out of my comfort zone and confront The Eagle.

Navigating the government forms didn’t bother me – after years of dealing with legal contracts and business documents, the red tape felt comfortingly familiar.  But then, completed forms in hand, I had to actually phone the dreaded IRS.

Knees knocking, mouth dry, I dialled with a trembling hand.

When the agent answered I nearly hung up in a funk.  Unlike CRA agents who answer with their first names, IRS agents identify themselves with intimidating formality as ‘Ms./Mr. LastNameOnly’, and then they spew out a big scary-sounding number.

When I managed to summon my voice and explain what I needed, Miss Weebles turned out to be efficient, friendly, and helpful despite her long scary number.  My questions were answered, my account was quickly set up, and I hung up thinking, “It can’t be that easy.”

But apparently it was.  Several years passed without incident and I gradually overcame the fear that the IRS was lurking around the corner waiting to swoop down and gut me.

Then last week I had a terrifying thought:  I’ve never filed a US tax return.  I don’t owe anything since I pay income tax on my royalties to the Canadian government, but here in Canada you still have to file a return every year even if you don’t owe anything.  What if the IRS required that, too?

Ohmigod.  The IRS was finally going to get me.

Cue up the telephone scene again, with me looking even more scared than before.

I got a male agent this time, which somehow seemed more ominous.  Mr. Hartman snapped out his name and his long scary number and I nearly fainted before managing to stammer out my question.

And everything was fine.  Miss Weebles had done a bang-up job, everything was in order, and I don’t need to file US tax returns.  Mr. Hartman was pleasant and friendly.  He even joked a bit and was kind enough to ask about my books.

I hung up the phone with a feeling of unreality.  Has my fear been completely unwarranted all these years?  Or is the IRS just lulling me into a false sense of security before they unleash The Eagle?

Or am I just a paranoid freak?  (Never mind; don’t answer that.)

* * *

P.S. The new cover art is ready for Book 1!  At first glance it looks the same, which is what I wanted… but it’s all in the details. Now it’s a middle-aged woman, the gun is actually a Glock (though not the correct Glock 26 because it’s prohibited in Canada), and I own the images.  No more stock photos, woohoo!  It’s a slow process, but I hope the cover art will be updated for all the books within the next couple of months.  Here’s the new Never Say Spy cover:

Not A Cartoonist. Obviously.

not a cartoonist

…but I’ve been having fun drawing cartoons lately anyway.  And I figured, what the heck, why not post them?  I don’t know if I have enough time or inspiration to do regular Sunday funnies, but I’ve got a few floating around my computer.

Here’s one for today:

pants

The Happy Hoer

As I mentioned a couple of years ago, I’m a hoer.  Very few people are willing to discuss this lifestyle openly and fewer still can comprehend enjoying it, but as you probably know by now, I’m a freak.  I love being a hoer.

Last week found me sweating in the hot sun at the side of the road, waving at passing cars as usual.  And I’m not ashamed to admit I’ll be doing it all summer long, as often as I can.  It’s a way of life for me.

But simply waving at cars seemed a little too passive, so I added pole-dancing to my repertoire just to attract a little more attention.

It was not a pretty sight.

If you’ve been following my Facebook page, you’ll know we spread approximately 10,000 pounds of compost and peat on our big vegetable garden about a month ago.  Hoeing in that beautiful, fluffy soil is pure joy.  Thanks to some perfectly-timed rain, almost everything has germinated, and last week it was time to put up the trellises for my snap peas and scarlet runner beans.

Since snow is unlikely (though not unheard-of) for the next couple of months, we use our snow-fence stakes to support the trellises.

(For those in warmer climates, snow fences are flexible fencing made of slats or perforated plastic and supported by six- to eight-foot-tall iron stakes pounded into the ground.  During the winter the fences control drifting snow by breaking the wind slightly, which causes snow to swirl and collect on the lee side of the fence.)

If you’ve ever tried to swing a 2½ pound hand sledge over your head hard enough to drive in a tall and heavy iron stake, you’ll see the difficulty here.  So, thanks to my nice soft soil, I push the stakes in first so I can reach them more comfortably with the sledge hammer.

It takes a lot of pressure to push those stakes in.  Fortunately, I’m no lightweight.  Put 155 pounds behind an iron stake, and it’s going somewhere… though not necessarily where you want it.

So there I am, hanging off the top of the stake with my legs drawn up to make sure I’ve got all my weight on it.

A car drives by, catching me in the act, and I start to giggle.  This does not improve my balance or coordination.

No, I didn’t fall on my ass.  That would have been decorous.

Instead I flailed my legs madly to maintain my balance without letting the stake topple.  And I laughed harder.

Then I realized how I must look, and I lost it completely.

Since I’m apparently quite allergic to dignity, I decided this was too funny not to share.  So, I give you:  The Happy Hoer.  (Yes, snow-fence posts are ribbed with iron protrusions every couple of inches.  I’m not sure why, but I can only surmise it’s “for greater sensation”.)

happy hoer

This Poop Requires Cultured Decoding

Yes, it’s that time again!  I’ve mined the rich vein of entertainment that is my blog spam.

Earlier I noted that my spam seemed to be getting more hostile, but fortunately that trend has flatlined.  Maybe they read my blog post and took my jibes to heart?

Nah, I know.  Spammers never actually read anything, as this one admits:  “I like to party, not look artilecs up online. You made it happen.”  – Glad I could be of service, though it’s unclear whether I influenced his/her propensity for partying or looking up artilecs.  But at least I’m good for something.

This spammer agrees:  “Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to far added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?”  – All I can say is ‘How indeed?’

But it’s nice that they want to keep in touch.  This spammer did, too:  “Would you be fascinated by exchanging hyperlinks?”  – Well, “fascinated” wouldn’t be my exact word…

But they’re encouraging:  “If you keep up the great work I’ll visit your weblog again.”  – Am I the only one who spots the logic problem here?  How will they know if I’m keeping up the great work unless they visit again?  What if they visit and I’m just spewing useless crap?  (Well, more useless crap than usual.)  Have they found a way to retroactively un-visit my blog?  If they have, I hope they share, ‘cause there are a few experiences and visuals I’d love to be able to un-visit.

Like this one:  “When you change the timing belt, dressed in pink with a pink Hermes leather on the playground…”  – Wait, you guys have been spying on me, haven’t you?  I knew I should have worn my black leather the last time I changed my timing belt.  Pink shows the grease so badly.

And here’s more proof that I’m under surveillance:  “You look absolutely stunning with your natural hair!”  – Remind me to save my unnatural hair for Halloween and full moons.

Sometimes my spammers wax informative:  “Not we are all born with a backbone but you can turn just one in”.  – Good news for the spineless wimps of the world.

And speaking of good news, “The good news is, bonobos”.  – Well, thank heaven!  Without that knowledge, I just don’t know if I could have gone on.

But there’s more good news:  “I have read so many articles or reviews on the topic of the blogger lovers…”  – Wait, blogger lovers?!?  We get groupies?  Why haven’t I heard about this before?  And where are mine?  Please don’t tell me I’ve been missing out on major groupie action.  I mean, seriously, we all know bloggers are the rock stars of the internet… um, the sex symbols of cyberspace… um… eh, never mind.

Some spammers look up to me as a valuable source of advice:  “What Happens To A Boy If She Takes Viagra?” –  Erm… I think we may have to start with the basics here.  You see, there’s this thing called “gender”.  Boys are “he”…

Which leads nicely into a discussion of the birds and the bees:  “Your individual stuffs nice. All the time deal with it up!”  – At least I think they’re referring to the birds and the bees.  It certainly sounds suggestive.

But it’s hard to be sure.  After all, as my latest visitor sagely observed, “This poop requires cultured decoding.”

And ain’t that the truth?

Sometimes Words Fail Me…

…and then I draw stick people.

miracle cartoon row01 miracle cartoon row02 miracle cartoon row03 miracle cartoon row04 miracle cartoon row05 miracle cartoon row06 miracle cartoon row07 miracle cartoon row08 miracle cartoon row09 miracle cartoon row10 miracle cartoon row11

This post is a prime example of the Little Guy With Pitchfork in action.  The exchange went something like this:

Me:  Time to write a blog post!

LGWP:  You should draw a comic strip instead.

Me:  I’m a writer, not a cartoonist.

LGWP:  You can draw stick people.  C’mon, it’ll be fun!

Me:  Well… yeah… I can draw stick people… kinda…  *yells*  Little Guy With Wings!  Where are you?  I need you!

*distant sound of the theme song from Jeopardy*

LGWP:  Ha!  Don’t be such a wuss.  I bet you’re too chicken to even try.  (Note:  The LGWP is a tricky little bastard, and he knows how to push my buttons – see Doin’ It On A Dare.)

Me:  Why you little…  I’ll show you!  *grabs felt pen*

The trouble is, the LGWP is not only tricky, he’s frequently right.  I do want cookies and popcorn.  The house and the laundry do need attention.  And there are only so many omelets you can eat because they’re easy to make at the last minute.  (Though I did have a particularly yummy one last night, with bacon, zucchini, onions, peppers, salsa, and feta cheese…)

Anyway, it was fun drawing this strip, but it also took me about ten times as long as writing a regular blog post.

So where was my LGWW all this time?  Drinking beer and watching Jeopardy, apparently.  I never saw so much as a feather.

It’s so hard to get good help these days.

Does anybody else have an LGWP?  Or a better LGWW than mine?

In Praise of Piss

*F-BOMB ALERT* – CONTAINS (more) COARSE LANGUAGE (than usual)

I’m a connoisseur of rude and vulgar language.  I collect it, use it frequently, and occasionally dust off some of my truly one-of-a-kind pieces to lovingly share with the world.

Hey, everybody needs a hobby, right?

But I started thinking about the nature of obscenities the other day, and after considerable reflection, I just don’t get it.

Why do we designate certain words as “offensive”?

They’re just collections of syllables and sounds.  I mean, normal phonetic sounds.  I could understand it if there were swear words that included, say, fart sounds or something – those would be offensive.  But there aren’t any words like that.

Though now I’m feeling inspired…

Back to my point:  “Ay”; “ee”; “oo”; whatever; as long as you’re not including “pbphltttt” as a phonetic building block, they’re all pretty innocuous.  We use them in millions of different sequences, so why should certain combinations make people blush/titter/freeze you with a look of outrage?

I know, I’m zooming past the obvious.  It’s not the phonetic sound that offends, it’s the meaning behind it.  I see how someone with strong religious views might have a problem with exclamations they consider blasphemous, so I’ll leave that topic aside for now.

But what about our good old Anglo-Saxon four-letter words?  Shit, piss, fuck.  These babies have been around for a long time.  They’re short, simple words for perfectly natural body functions.

Why should “shit” be more offensive than “bowel movement”?  Seriously, the words “bowel movement” make me cringe.  And what about our other euphemisms?  Drop a log, pinch a loaf, take a dump – they all sound pretty vulgar.  By comparison, “shit” is quick and tidy.

Ditto “piss”.  What’s so doggone special about the word “urine” that makes it somehow less offensive?  It’s still the same stuff.  And I’m sure those folks with the surname “Uren” would prefer people to use the Anglo-Saxon alternative when referring to bodily functions.  I’ve never met anybody with the surname “Piss”.

Or take “pee”.  (No, I didn’t say “take a pee”.  Well, unless you need to.  In that case, fire away.  Though I’ve never really understood why we say “take” when we really mean “leave”, either.)  But digressions aside, why is it cute when little kids say “pee”, but everybody gasps if they say “piss”?  What’s so cute about “pee”?

Many talented folks have already outlined the versatility of “fuck” as verb, noun, adjective, adverb, interjection, and so on, so I won’t belabour that point.

But think about this:  “Somebody fucked up the copier” is instantly comprehended by virtually every English-speaking person on the planet.  We hear that, and we know we won’t be getting any copies of our document today.

But if we eliminate “fuck”?  Look out.  How about:  “Somebody had sexual intercourse with the copier”?

Bystanders flee screaming, faces contorted in horror.  Those with sensitive stomachs vomit into the nearest receptacle.  Scrub your hands, bleach your brain, stuff yourself into a haz-mat suit and never, ever make copies EVER AGAIN.

A simple F-bomb could have averted that entire disaster.

They’re all perfectly good words:  short, easy to spell, and universally understood.  And we’re not supposed to use them.

I just don’t get it.

Pbphltttt.

Rorschach Poster Child

I’ve mentioned several times that I tend to misread text.  I’ve speculated that it may be some latent form of dyslexia, or maybe just a combination of carelessness and a twisted mind.  After the picture I just saw on Facebook, though, I’m leaning toward the probability of a terminally twisted mind.

When I first saw it I thought, “That is a seriously weird picture.  It looks like a little bald alien being throttled from behind by a gorilla”.  Even after staring at it for several seconds, I still couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to be.

At this point, I’ll offer my sincere apologies to the photographer and to whoever posted and/or enjoyed this on the internet, because it was actually a soft-focus silhouette of a mother kissing her child.  Or chewing its throat out; it was hard to be certain.  It was accompanied by a touching text on motherhood, so I presume it’s the former.

Anyway, that’s when I realized there’s a tiny possibility that my mind might be wired just a leetle differently than everybody else’s.

So I did what any self-respecting geek would do:  quantify.  I went looking for Rorschach inkblots on the internet.

And guess what I found?

A troll riding a chopped Harley.

Here he is, with his big ugly feet propped up on the highway pegs, his leather handlebar fringe flying in the breeze:

rorschach harley

According to Wikipedia, this is a “nonstandard” response.  Most people interpret it as a bear-skin rug or some other sort of animal hide.  But it’s definitely a biker troll to me.

This one looks like two of Santa’s elves high-fiving over their recent foot amputation:

rorschach elves

Though when I looked at it again, I could see two bears dancing upside-down on their forepaws while balancing a traffic hazard cone on each of their butts, squishing pomegranates with one paw.

When I read the first part of the wiki on that one, I thought I might be coming a little closer to the norm; it does actually mention references to blood.

But then they diverged into discussions of sexual overtones and though I pride myself on my dirty mind, that reference sailed right by me.  It’s either dancing bears or elves, and neither of those makes my socks roll up and down.

The rest of the inkblot images are little more ambiguous, and apparently the final one gives most people trouble:

rorschach garden

According to the wiki, “people who find it difficult to deal with many concurrent stimuli may not particularly like this otherwise pleasant card”.

Well, I can’t multi-task worth shit.  I can’t even work on the computer and listen to music at the same time.  I get intensely stressed when I’m in a situation where two people are talking to me simultaneously.  Ergo, this card should bother me.

My immediate reaction: “I love it!  It’s a happy little undersea garden with coral and seahorses and fish and blue crab-like critters, all tucked underneath the Eiffel tower.”

Go figure.

So I have to know:  What do you see in these photos?  (I won’t ask if you think I’m abnormal.  I already know the answer to that.)

P.S. I just discovered that WordPress has been displaying ads here on my blog.  I didn’t even realize it was happening because logged-in users don’t see them.  Please accept my apologies – I loathe the thought that you’ve been ad-spammed on my blog!  I just hurried off to pay the pound of flesh that will prevent WordPress from doing that again. 

I don’t know what they might have showed you, but I definitely DO NOT endorse any product or service they’ve advertised here.  I’m very sorry if it appeared that I did. 

Grrr! *stomps off to read the fine print more thoroughly*