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!


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.


Happy New Year!!

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


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!!


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.


Take THAT, Polar Vortex!

For the first time in many, many, many years (I say that because I'm not sure how many years) we are ready for winter BEFORE it hits!!

The harvest is in and dehydrated (we didn't plant much this year; too much other work to maintain a garden), the wood box is full, the plants are in the basement, and the animals are taken care of.

In all years past, we've ended up closing in the barn in sleet, snow, rain, cold and/or dark.  Not this year.

Yesterday was a balmy 70+ degrees, sunny and clear. We spent the day finishing closing in the chicken coop (including putting the lumber part of the roof in place--the actual tin has to wait for next year. Tarp for this year.) They should make it through the winter warm and dry. We also closed in the last of the barn, so all the animals down there should be cozy, too.

All I have left to do is stock up more hay (which has to wait for next paycheck) and get some sort of parking area graveled so the Durango doesn't go sliding sideways down the hill at the first snow.  And neither of those is really urgent or weather-dependent. We have some hay now and I can always park the Durango at the top of the hill like I have for the last 8 years.

Today is cold (high of 40 degrees), grey, and drizzly. It's supposed to freeze for the next week with snow forecast on Monday. Bring it on, Polar Vortex! We're ready for you!!


Wood, Glorious Wood

For the first time ever, we are heading into winter with a full wood shed!!!

The first building we built on the farm here, actually my first attempt at building anything EVER, was the wood shed (I don't count the barn, because it was assembled by the company I bought it from and I just screwed boards to the metal support poles to make the stalls.) I made lots LOTS of mistakes building it, but hey, that's what first buildings are for, right?! It was officially finished last year...which means that it finally got its tin roof instead of a tar-paper-over-plywood roof. Anyway, it is roughly 16 x 8, with the dog boxes and the kindling storage box tucked into one side. The roof is about 5 feet high on one end, and about 8 feet high at the other, due to the slope of our "level" ground. It holds give-or-take 5 or 6 cords of wood. And it has never been full of wood before.

Yeah, previous winters we bought wood. One year we even managed to fill one whole side of the wood shed. (That took three dump truck loads at $160 a pop. Wood here is expensive. "Why," you ask? Well, let me tell you...almost every home out here has some sort of wood/coal heater. And in many cases, that wood/coal heater is the only heat in the house. And there are quite a few people on public assistance (retired/handicapped/unemployed). Which is a perfect storm for expensive wood. The state help agencies provide wood/coal for the people on assistance out here, which is a very good thing. The bad thing is that the price they pay for wood/coal ends up pricing the working-and-just-getting-by people out of the market. A pickup bed full of wood can run as high as $80 out here. I feel very fortunate to have found our wood guy...and even he is raising his prices next year to $175/load. But we don't have much of a choice; the one promise Obama's actually kept was to "necessarily raise our electricity rates" and propane is as expensive as wood. Okay, rant over.)

But I have to say, it is a good feeling to walk into the dining room, glance out the back window, and see a wood shed full of wood looking back at me. We've never been able to figure out exactly how much wood is needed to heat the house for one entire winter before. We've always run out February-ish, and had to resort to heating the house with a combination of propane heaters, electric heaters, and whatever wood we could scrounge. I am convinced that this year that won't happen. This year we will have wood until spring! We will be warm all winter! This year will be AWESOME!!

Just don't ask about how much hay we have stored for winter...