Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Suicide Love Tryst on the Eldership

It's that time of the year on the Eldership when all two of us on the crew go in for our annual physicals. Going in for a physical on the Eldership is kind of like going in for your annual review at work - except there's NEVER any good news. The good doctors serving Elder Fleet Command (ElFeetCo) never say things like, "Oh you've done so well this year" or "I so happy to see your (fill in the blank) numbers are so good, or "For a person of your age this is just fine." No what your going to hear is "(Sigh) I'm not happy about these (fill in the blank) numbers at all" or "You realize this is a precursor for (fill in the blank) horrible thing that will happen to you" or (the most dreaded of all) "I think you should give up (fill in the blank) which I realize you love but is killing you."  The official mission statement of the ElFeetCo Medical Corp is "Damn the Quality of Life - Live as Long as You Can!"

So it is that Captain de-I and First Office Wife (it being my turn this week to have command) have been told in no uncertain terms that we need to get off of white bread. Now I think you know the culinary standards we set here on the Eldership de-I so I'm not talking about your crappy grocery store bought white bread. At the Officers Mess (and the Enlisted Mess too since we fill all the roles), we loves our artisinal French style breads. Much better quality stuff, wonderful to eat, and just as bad for you because it's just white bread done right.

So we are moving on to various types of 3000 grain bread, rye breads, spelt bread (not the good stuff you get in Amsterdam, the stuff that reminds you of really expensive cardboard), etc. However, when we did our inventory of the food storage we found a number of pieces of French bread left in the freezer. Now most normal people would respond to this merely by throwing them out. But seeing as both Wife and I have the hardest time throwing anything out (For God's Sake people are starving in Southern Sudan - eat it!), a discussion (argument?) ensued as to who should finish it.

This led to mutual accusations that one was trying to kill off the other to secure permanently the top command on the ship. As Wife and I really do love each other (when we are not trying to bump each other off to get command of the ship), we resolved this by agreeing to share the remaining bread of death. As we were assured by our doctors that eating this bread was going to do us in, we decided to make this a romantic last meal thing with profuse expressions of love, candles burning, using plenty of butter, jam and honey (it's our last meal you know, why worry), eating the bread ensemble and then giving each other a last kiss with crumb coated lips. Sigh, the way one should want to go.

As fate would have it we, nothing terminal happened. We just gained a few pounds when we weighed ourselves the next morning.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Update

I know I've been offline lately but life here continues at a good pace.

We are busy at work planning our next big trip. We're going to be gone from mid-September to the end of October in Europe again with a focus on Austria, Italy, and maybe Slovenia, Croatia, and Hungary.  We had a whole different agenda in mind but life interfered and people who we though would be with us couldn't make it.

We took a short (in time) road trip to Omaha Nebraska for Wife to attend and provide major genealogical support to a reunion of cousins on her Mother's side of the family. Wife's Mother came for a very large family so their are scads of cousins in this line. Wife's Mother also was the primary cataloger of information for that family and she passed all those records on to Wife when she passed many years ago. Wife took up the torch in recent years as her interest in genealogy grew.  We left Albuquerque on a Wednesday, got to Omaha on Thursday, spent Friday and Saturday at the reunion, left on Sunday and were home on Monday.  It's interesting driving because you don't stay on the interstates very much. You take I-40 east for a little over 200 miles (that doesn't even get you out of New Mexico) and then you head diagonally northeast on US highways through the Texas panhandle, the Oklahoma panhandle, all of Kansas and into Nebraska until you get to I-80 for about 80 miles to reach Omaha.  It's actually pretty easy driving with not much traffic and pretty low stress...except when certain family members who will remain unnamed to protect this blogger decide to pass trucks and find there's not as much time as they thought...then it's more like a stress test.

The semi-retired life is great. I've got this workout routine that I think is doing good things in terms of my overall strength, balance and flexibility - all things that we older folk need to be paying attention to.  Meditation and spiritual life is strong and deepening. I have plenty of energy. One side effect of this is that in the evenings I'd much rather be reading or writing rather than watch TV. I work just enough to keep me engaged especially with those people who actually have lives and aren't just talking about their ailments or latest doctor visits (that would be all my peers which includes me when I'm with them!). And I'm making pretty good money since I don't invest anything into 'growing my business' which pushes the financial margins out enough that we can do the things we want.

The home decorating continues.  After some test runs with the new lounge we decided that the seating wasn't going to work for four people so we're researching something else. We're on to work on the living room. We purged our library of almost half its contents (we still have a hell of a lot of books!).  We have some things that need to be done to the yard still and are looking for a maintenance person.

And the book is done! Once I had all the back stories figured out I only had a couple of big re characterizations to figure out and when those were done the rewriting just flowed.  It is a very, very curious thing because not only has the ideas for this book flowed but there is this gusher of ideas that have led to me outlining two new books (prequel and a sequel). Especially when I do my hiking/solitude workouts, the stuff just comes. I'm not even trying to think about it.  I get back from those and I will put down all the ideas that came out in the new book outlines. Very strange.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mid-Westing

Wife and I are driving through the plains.  From New Mexico east then north easterly through the Texas Panhandle, the Oklahoma Panhandle and on into Kansas.  That was yesterday.  We spent the night in Dodge City, went to a bar for dinner and didn't have to defend ourselves via a gunfight.  We'll have to skip Boot Hill however because we have to be in Omaha, Nebraska this afternoon for yet another variety of a reunion of Wife's family - this time the Cousins on her Mother's side.

It's a very interesting driving off the interstates through the countryside though unlike when I'm in Europe and I get unlimited data on T-Mobile, I am roaming on other carriers here and have already used up all my data allotment.  No TripAdvisor or Booking.com apps used on this trip :(

Monday, June 15, 2015

Book Breakthrouhg

I was able to block off some serious time for my rewrite of the book this week and in the process started dealing with one of the most difficult aspects of the project.  I have these two characters who in the original story are fairly prominent but not dealt with in a serious manner.  They provided a lot of the sexual humor that was a big part of the story at that time.

When redesigning the story for this project, I shifted the tone to a deeper, more emotionally focused story but still trying to keep the humor as before and with a more mature attitude toward sexuality.  I was able to see ways to make that change in most of the book but there's this one section in the beginning where these two characters meet and start their relationship that was way, way off from the new focus.  I struggled with this for months.  Finally when I did the back story work last month, I saw how this relationship could be altered to meet the new focus but retain some of the humor and sexuality. 

I just got through the rewrite of that section and have read through it a couple of times and am very pleased with how it has evolved.  It has also given me some additional story line threads to weave into later sections of the book.  So we're finished with the first confrontation and establishment of key persona and its time to make it over the mountains to the next culture and key persona.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

About Books

A lot seems to be revolving around books these day.

On one hand we are moving our books back into our rearranged library (we had all our bookcases and chairs in that room moved when we did the Lounge).  We're using this as a major opportunity for us to 'purge' tons of stuff - mainly tons of books that are never looked at.  This has proven to be a big task.  Not counting just the physical work (books are heavy!), the decision-making process of what to keep or not keep is a lot.  I think we've overcome our tendency (particularly mine) to hang on to things.  We've identified about 50% of our inventory to get rid of.  We're still trying to figure out the best way to do that. 

Then there is reading books.  When I was working full bore, by the time I'd made dinner I would have been exhausted.  I didn't have energy to do anything other than plop in a chair and put on the TV to just fill the void.  Now I have lots of energy at the end of the day so I'm reading tons.  I've got three books going at once - two history books and a novel. The TV is rarely on except to watch recorded rugby or soccer games.

And there is MY book.  I am in the rewrite process in earnest.  I'm working through one of the hardest sections - one that requires major changes from the original - and I think I've got the story line revision worked out.

So here's to books!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hanging Up The Hiking Boots

Not physically but metaphorically.

I've come to the conclusion that hiking as a major activity in my life has come to an end.  I still go out into the mountains a couple of times a week but it is as a part of my exercise program rather than as an activity I'm doing in its own right.  It is a an interesting study in how the transition process can affect what goes on in our life even if we're not quite aware of how those effects unfold. 

In this case it was result of a number of factors.  Previously hiking had been one of my major outlets for the type A, accomplishment driven part of my persona.  Hiking was about going longer, higher, faster, deeper into the mountains.  Exploring new places and finding new gems.  Gradually over the last couple of years along with the other transitional issues I noted that I was physically finding it harder and harder to do the longer hikes without a significant increase in the amount of time and effort.  I also have noted a deterioration in leg strength and balance (never a strong point). 

The transition had created new outlets for my type A personality traits most notably travel which is a great outlet for exploration and planning and adventure that filled the same types of desires I got from hiking before.  Other factors have been the desire for more and more solitude - it's not wise to go deep into the mountains by yourself - deciding to keep working half-time which uses a a big chunk of time, and wanting a more balanced exercise program that focuses on frequency of doing exercise rather than doing great, demanding exercise (like the long hikes).

Everything has its time and place and I'm very happy with the new balance that I find in the transitioned, semi-retired space.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Book Report & Smoking

Taking a quick look at the title you might think that I had gone back to school and was knocking back a pack to get some homework done in time.  Wrong.

I committed the three day Memorial Day weekend to working on my novel.  During the trip to Europe I had done extensive work reviewing the book and coming up with a long list of pre-rewrite projects in order to clean up logical inconsistencies, answer backdrop questions that the story brings up put doesn't provide any frame of reference, and research certain things that are part of the fantasy world to ensure accuracy.  I've been thinking about these issues for some time and in my own mind I had answered them but I'd not gotten it all written down.

I'm happy to say that I was able to get all the major back stories written and figured out.  I'm pretty happy with the logic of how things work and the sequence of historical events that lead to the situation I'm writing about and the workings of the fantasy world.  I still have one tricky relationship and scenes related to it that I have to work out.  Initially it was done in sort of an adolescent humor style (think Ferris Buehler's Day Off) but I've made the relationship much deeper and I've got to change the scenes accordingly.  But there is also I humor component I need to maintain.  Oh the trauma of it all!

The smoking refers to my ongoing attempts to master my Yoder Smoker and create real BBQ.  Wife loves pulled pork.  Last time I tried I ended up with tasty roast pork but nothing close to pulled pork.  This latest attempt was fraught with challenges.  I took my meat out Friday night with the intention of doing it on Saturday.  However Saturday morning arrived and it was still solid!  Pushed the attempt to Sunday.  Got up early.  Started the machine.  An hour later I figured out it had not ignited properly.  Trouble shot the problem.  Got it started but this cut out a couple of hours from the time I had to get things cooked.  Still cooked it for 10 hours.  This time I was closer.  It was like good sliced pork BBQ but not done enough to get pulled pork.  But at least we're making progress.  I think I need to put the heat up a bit and aim for 12 hours for a 5 pound piece of meat.