3/13/15

R.I.P.

You will be missed.

Sir Terry Pratchett.
28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015

How do they rise up, rise up high?

3/5/15

Bigger Things to Worry About

As some of you know, our property here isn't exactly what you would call "flat."

Appalachia being what it is, we live in a holler with a creek running down the bottom of it. The land itself is best described as "steep." I usually describe it as "vertical."

Before I bought the farm and moved here, I didn't quite understand the non-horizontal nature of Appalachian land. Having grown up in the central valley of California, where you can drive down the street beside a levee, look UP, and see a boat sailing along above your head, I made a point of asking the realtor if the house here was in a flood plain. I was worried about flooded basements and such-like.

He laughed at my question and replied, "If that house floods, you have bigger things to worry about!" When I finally saw the house for the first time, I understood his amusement. The house sits about 250 feet upslope (a vertical rise of probably 75-100 feet) from the creek and well away from any drainage culverts. Anything short of a Biblical flood wouldn't even wet the foundation. I felt a bit silly for even asking the question.

Until today.

Danny slaughtered 4 chickens yesterday. After letting them rest in the fridge for 24 hours (makes the meat tender and keeps them from being stringy--they're all year old roosters) I sliced the breasts off of them to use for other meals, bagged the rest of the carcasses to boil up later and gave them to Danny to put in the basement freezer until I had time to process them.

A few moments later, he was sloshing through water at the foot of the basement stairs.

There are no underground pipes anywhere near where the water was pooled. Our immediate assumption was that the water had leaked under the basement door, even though the floor between the growing pool and the door was dry. Danny got a bucket and a manual siphon pump and started trying to clear the water.

15 buckets of muddy water later, it finally dawned on all of us that this was no ordinary leak. In fact, it wasn't technically a leak at all.

Remember reading Macbeth in school? Remember the part about the prophecy that Macbeth would rule until Birnham Wood came to Dunsinane Castle? And Macbeth was certain that could never happen, because Birnham Wood was 'way downslope of the Castle?

Just like my creek.

Just like Macbeth never imagined soldiers cutting down trees in Birnham Wood and using them as camouflage to storm Dunsinane, it never occurred to me that Biblical floods weren't the only way to flood a basement halfway up the side of a hill.

A spring has opened up in my basement. We're hoping it's just a result of the water table rising due to the rain/snow we've been having. With any luck, once the ground dries out, the spring will quietly do the same.

But as of right now, the spring is producing about 1-2 gallons in less than 5 minutes. We have a sump pump merrily sucking up the water flowing into the basement. It's spitting it out through a garden hose into the gutter/downspout overflow that discharges into the drainage culvert. Unfortunately, the spring is flowing slower than the pump pumps.

We have to let the pump empty the depression the water is flowing into, shut the pump off, let the spring refill the depression and turn the pump back on (it doesn't have a float.) Danny and I are sleeping in shifts to monitor the pump. I'm half-way through my 2-am-to-6-am shift. Later today, we're going to see if we can rig up a manual siphon so we don't have to monitor a pump.

I guess the realtor was right after all.

2/25/15

New Computer

I've been lost in the no-man's-land of a dead computer.

Couple of weeks ago, my computer decided to give me not just the blue screen of death, but the multi-colored screen of death. Admittedly, it had been going downhill slowly, so its death wasn't exactly unexpected. In fact, there were times I felt like hastening its death...like the time Word ate the same paragraph for over an hour, freezing after each attempt to save it. Or the times my cursor would suddenly go walkabout, leaving me to resort to a hard shut down. Or the times that it randomly shut down on its own, dumping my work. So I wasn't exactly heartbroken to see it go. It just died at an inconvenient time...although to be fair, there really isn't a convenient time for a computer to die.

Thanks to tax returns and Best Buy, I am now the proud owner of a new computer. Let me re-phrase that: I am the proud owner of a new RED computer! (I feel like such a girl saying that...) Complete with shiny, new version of Office!

It's good to be back.

P.S. It's still cold. They're calling for around 3 inches of snow tonight. I am SO done with winter!

1/7/15

Note to Self

1: DON'T get the flu on New Year's Day. Just...don't.

Now that we've covered that subject, here's what I really wanted to say:

I finished the book!!

Okay, when I say "finished" I mean first draft, but...still. It's done. Plot holes, disappearing characters, bad syntax...that's all "editing". The "writing" is done!!!

If I were a puppy, I'd be wagging my tail hard enough to clear the coffee table right now.

And to continue the theme for 2015: It's cold (10* and falling). I'm going to bed.

1/1/15

Happy New Year!!

It's cold. I'm going back to bed.

12/25/14

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, all y'all in blogger land!

You know the tradition that animals can speak at midnight on Christmas Eve? This year, our animals apparently wasted their sixty seconds on planning break-outs.  The problem is, they're not really good at comprehending the whole "picture."

When I woke up this morning, the pig was banging around in the basement. Did he plan his escape from the dog yard through the fence, maybe burrowing under the gate to freedom? No, he unlatched the basement door.

Peeg looooves the basement. Until we finish the greenhouse cough*we'rebroke*cough, the dogs and Peeg, the pot belly who thinks he's a dog, have access to the basement door.  Peeg discovered long ago that if we're careless in latching the basement door, he can get the door open using his nose.So in his mad burst for liberty, he ended up trapped in the basement, trying to climb back into the dog yard through one of the basement windows.

Despite what people say, Pigs are not that smart.

After fishing Peeg out of the basement, I went down to do the rest of the daily chores (the girls are spending Christmas with their dad and Danny is working today) and found out Peeg wasn't the only animal going cage-free for Christmas. One of the boy bunnies had escaped his cage and dug out of the barn...straight into the goat pen. I went out to catch him, and he ran back into the barn and cornered himself under the corn sheller.

Rabbits are not smart, either.

My Christmas is going to be lazy this year, now that the animals are securely back in their respective pens. I'm three chapters from finishing my book (65,000 words written! Whoop!!) and I'm determined to finish it before the end of the year.

So while I'm writing away over here at Kentucky Hollers, I wish you and yours a joyful, peaceful, and merry Christmas!!

12/11/14

Lists, Goals and Other Improbables

I don't know about you, but I'm a big fan of lists. I make lists of what to do, what to buy, what bills to pay, what meals to fix....well, you get the idea. Lists are one of my favorite things.

My family has...issues...with my list making. Not the lists themselves, mind you, just my interpretation of what a rational day's list should consist of. For example, one of my daily lists may read as follows:

(Disclaimer: not an actual list, despite Danny's claims to the contrary)

Pay phone, pay electric, buy groceries (with its own secondary list), buy feed (a tertiary list), get gas for truck, make bread, go walking at lake, work on house project, take girls to class, do laundry, WRITE.

Danny insists that it is not possible to do all of the above and not go crazy. I say it is possible; all I need is the Tardis and a sonic screwdriver. Besides, anything on a list that doesn't get done on one day just gets carried over to the next day's list. Heck, I've had things on my list for years. These I refer to as "Goals". Sounds better that way.

 Besides, crazy is a state of mind. 

But this post really isn't about lists...per se. See the last item on the above list, the one in ALL CAPS?
That one? Yeah. 

The reason I haven't been here much is due to that one little, bitty word. I've been working on a novel. No, not the Great American Novel(tm) or a multi-tome treatise on Donald Trump's hair. Just a simple cozy murder mystery set in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. 

I'd always wanted to write a book. But when I was young, everyone said, "Don't be a writer. You'll starve to death!"  I got a little older and it changed to, "You can't be a writer without a Bachelor's/Master's/Ph.D." Well, now I'm even older and the ubiquitous 'they' says, "You're too old to write. That's a young person's game." Instead of writing my own book, I spent my life reading books others had written.

Well, I'm heading for fifty. I'm tired of reading someone else's list. Dammit, I wanted to WRITE. 

So this year, I put WRITE on my list for my New Year's "Goals", right next to LOSE WEIGHT. They're "Goals" because they get re-written on the list each and every year.

And I started writing. 
I plugged away at writing the only way I knew how--a bit here, a bit there. Lots of time sitting at the local Mexican restaurant, typing away on Word Starter (MicroSoft wants like $200 for ONE official copy of Word personal. Who has that kind of money?!) while munching chips and salsa (which isn't so good for LOSE WEIGHT). I figured I'd never be able to write 70,000 to 90,000 words but at least I could give it a shot. I figured WRITE would end up like LOSE WEIGHT: Something that sounds good but ain't never realistically gonna happen, despite the size 6 dress hanging in the back of the closet. In other words: Improbable.

So imagine my shock last night, when I looked at my word count and my outline and realized...I only have 5 or 6 chapters left to write. I've already written just shy of 60,000 words. I have about 15,000 left to go.

I'm thisclose to having actually written a book! And I'm all excited about writing the second book in the series. And have started making notes about a third book. I'm a writer. I'm having the time of my life. How the heck did this happen?

Now I just need to do the same with LOSE WEIGHT.