Author Archives: Kristine Smith

Still here

Summer has zipped by. I’ve been having work done around the house–deck repaired and stained, dishwasher installed. Thought I’d catch a break for a bit, but the handyman called this evening–he has an opening, so he’ll be by tomorrow to fix one of the walls in the bathroom and repair some tile. So I cleaned out the cabinet that is going to be removed, then vacuumed because doesn’t everyone clean before workmen come to the house?

Oh well. It upsets the day, but it has to get done.

Nothing to report on the reissue of CODE etc as ebooks. Struggling with some short works–I start them, and think, who would want to read this? It’s been done before. The thing is, just about everything has been done before–I could write a one-sentence synopsis and likely be able to think of several already-published stories that fit it. And they would all be different. Because it isn’t the idea, it’s the execution.

If I keep telling myself this, I might come to believe it.

In exile

This morning at 4am or thereabouts, the first skunking of the season.

Herself was exiled to the deck after a scrub-down with Natures Miracle. She spent the day at puppy playcare being deskunked (read: fussed over by the groomers, who adore her). Then she got to play with her buddies for a few hours.

I’m not sure that she sees the downside to this….

Banished

You talkin' to me?

Still kicking

Damn, but it’s been a while.

Almost a year since I retired from the day job, and I don’t miss it a bit. I’ve been dealing with house repairs, though not as quickly as I would like. The worst job, going through all the worldly goods and disposing of what I no longer want or need, has been a slow go. I did get rid of a mess o’ unwanted weed killer, non-organic lawn care stuff, and acrylic paint a couple of months ago, but clothes, books, collectibles, furniture and assorted junk remain unsorted. Last summer I said I would do it during the winter, and during the winter I said I would attack it in the spring. Now, July is winding down. I did schedule some decks repairs–the guy who started the work last fall never finished and wouldn’t return my calls, so I needed to find someone else. That contractor will also be doing some work on my cupboards so I can finally get a dishwasher installed, which will be cause for much excitement in the realm.

As for the junk, it will get sorted. It has to. But I’m not looking forward to it.

Seven years today since my mom passed. I am not an anniversary/memorial person as a rule, for whatever that says about me. But today I had to do a lot of running around in the area around the hospital where mom was treated and the hospice in which she passed, and it got to me. Memories of driving from hospital to hospital to pick up records or to restaurants to pick up treats that she said she wanted and then wouldn’t eat–the spirit was willing, but the appetite was no longer there.

A restless day.

No updates concerning Jani e-bbok conversions. I thought I had something set up, but that may have fallen through. I may need to simply buckle down and do it myself.

Currently playing in the background is an old episode of Rick Steve’s Europe. Tuscany and Umbria. So gorgeous.

Someday….

Brownies!

It was time to bake something sweet, so I settled on brownies. My usual recipe is one from Recchiuti made with melted unsweetened chocolate. But I uncovered some Callebaut cocoa that had been in the back of a cupboard for way too long, and decided to find something to use it in. Hence, Mexican Brownies, courtesy of Aaron Sanchez from the Food Network. They’re spiced with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. I also added a teaspoon of espresso powder to boost the chocolate flavor, used white whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, and added a half-cup of bittersweet chocolate chunks because I could.

Mexican brownies

Mexican brownies

I was reluctant to bake with cocoa because I assumed the flavor would be weak. But these brownies are really good. Different flavor because of the spices, with the cayenne pepper adding just a touch of bite. I added the 1/4 tsp that the recipe stated, but if you like really spicy chocolate, you could add 1/2 tsp. Or as much as you wanted, because you have thumbs.

My morning in pictures

Walk?!

Walk?!

There's a deer in there somewhere

There’s a deer in there somewhere

Defrosted lake

Defrosted lake

Exploring

Exploring

Drive-by post

Busy busy for the next week. Did take time out last night to listen to the latest Welcome to Night Vale podcast.

The thing with Welcome to Night Vale is that for the most part it’s weird and loopy and Twilight Zone Meets Mayberry until every so often it hits you with a touch of sadness or even downright horror. Not enough to put you off. Just enough so that after the episode ends, you sit quietly for a few minutes before moving on to whatever else.

Pesto and stuff

Busy morning. Took Gaby to playcare. Then it was off to the dentist.

After that, farmers’ market at the place from which I’ll be getting my CSA veggies. It was a very small market–it would fill only a tiny corner of the Sauvie Island market. But they had small freezers of beef and pork, honey, popcorn kernels, eggs, spinach and salad greens. I stocked up on said spinach and greens, and added a small bag of popcorn, pork chops, Italian sausage, and uncured bacon. A dozen eggs.

Of course, I had bought a pound of arugula just the other day. It wasn’t going to make it through the week, so I jammed it into the food processor with 4 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, half a cup each of grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts and olive oil. Presto pesto.

Arugula pesto lacks the weighty flavor and aroma of basil pesto. I find it brighter–some folks complain that it’s “grassy”–and lighter. The pound of arugula rendered down to about 3 cups of pesto, which is a good amount for breaking down into single/double serving sizes in either tiny containers or ice cube trays. I went with tiny snap-top containers because I wanted to protect the stuff from freezer taste as much as possible.

It’s still cold–upper 30s today–but we’ve had some thawing and rain. Most of the snow is gone, and the sump pump has been working its little heart out. No sign of sprouting greenery yet, and most nights are still below freezing. But maybe, maybe, we’ve turned the corner.

Lunch was a toasted half a whole grain ciabatta roll with smears of homemade hummus and fresh pesto. It was really good. Garlicky, but really good.

Mud season

‘Tis the season where I have to towel off Gaby’s feet before letting her in the house. Except today we awoke to rain, which added in with temps above freezing for several days in a row and the resulting thaw and someone named Gaby’s overwhelming desire to bury something…

MUD. I mean, paws like snowshoes except snowshoes made of MUD. I tried toweling them off. Then I tried wet paper towels. Then dipping paws in a pan filled with warm water.

I finally gave up and bundled Gaby into the tub. Directed the detachable shower head at her paws, and marveled at the never-ending stream of filth. Dried Gaby off, then cleaned the tub. The floor. Bundled towels into the washer. Vacuumed.

I should learn to ignore the muddy footprints until they dry, at which point I can vacuum the resulting fine dirt. But then I need to put up with a floor dotted with paw prints, like a canine Marauders Map.

I will have to admit that once I got Gaby into the tub, she stood still like a good girl, and needed to be urged to jump out so I could dry her off. I gave her a cookie. She is dozing on the couch now, where she will remain until July.

Unfortunate spam juxtaposition

Two spam subject lines, located one after the other in my Junk folder:

6. Your permanent solution to that nagging Herpes problem

7. You might be married but you can still have a little fun can’t you?

That’s all I got. It snowed overnight, AGAIN. Still awaiting any signs that Spring will not be very cold and buried in frozen white.

A nice thing

…on a rainy, cold, grey winter day.

NYT bestselling author Jack Campbell had some nice things to say about the Jani Kilian books in the latest issue of SFSignal:

an excellent read steeped in espionage and double-dealing that captures the reality of it all better than most thrillers set in the modern day.

It always makes me feel good when folks who know say that I nailed aspects of Jani’s life/experiences.

Still trying to work out a deal to reissue the books. When something finally works out, I will scream it from the mountaintops. Or dune tops, seeing as this is NE Illinois.