Wednesday, January 18

In Memorium

Last Saturday saw the passing of a beloved companion. Ruger, our furry nephew, slipped the surly bonds of earth to rejoin his sister Chloe beyond the reach of the pain and strains of this mortal life. He was almost fourteen - a respectable, noble age for a border collie, but such a short time for those of us who loved him and now must continue without.

Whether your furry children are cats, dogs, or other, will you give them a little extra love (and maybe bacon?) today on his behalf?

Tuesday, January 17

Beef and Pumpkin Stew

Just a quick post today to share a new recipe I found in December and am loving... Beef and Pumpkin Stew from Meatified.

This ends up more of a soup consistency for me than what I associate with stew, but it's incredibly clean and healthy and delicious! Best of all, it only takes about half an hour to make and stretches an entire pound of ground beef over several generous meals.

Tip: Use your biggest pot... it makes a lot! Enjoy!

Monday, January 9

An Important Note for Dog Owners

I was hoping to keep all my initial posts for 2017 unequivocally positive, but this is important so I'm going to make an exception.

If you have a dog, please be aware that a Federal Court recently ruled that police are authorized to shoot any dogs present when they enter a home if they feel the animal is a threat. The dogs do not have to attack them in any way, or even be jumping or growling - just barking is enough. 

Kaine, a GHF baby.
No justification, compensation, or anything else is required, and there is no legal recourse. The police do not have to be in your home looking for you, either - they can be there for anyone who might be staying with you, etc. 

Obviously, this is of tremendous concern to anyone who has a large and/or naturally intimidating dog or a breed that is notoriously subjected to prejudice or considered dangerous (i.e. pit bulls, German Shepherds, etc.). That said, small dog owners need to aware as well, since many small breeds make up in noise what they lack in size. 

Conversations we've had with people who are/have been in law enforcement, as well as recent experiences a family member had with EMTs, bear out that this is not a one-off thing: law enforcement and other public servants who may enter your home are predisposed to consider dogs a threat and react accordingly.

What You Can Do:

Obviously, first and foremost, be discriminating about who you allow to live at, use, or store things on your property. The less cause anyone has to be on your property, the lower you risk of being presented with an unfortunate situation.

Second, if you have a gate or other barrier across your driveway use it. Although this will not always keep people off your property, it does represent a legal barrier that in many situations cannot be crossed without your permission or a warrant, and buys space between law enforcement and your dog. (Otherwise, your front door becomes that barrier, and that doesn't leave much room to intervene!)

Third, talk to the people in your household and make a plan to secure any dogs before law enforcement, paramedics, or others enter the home in the event that you know that they're coming. (I.e. you call for an ambulance, officers are canvassing your neighborhood regarding a crime, etc.)

If at all possible, select a location that is easy for you to get the animal to in a hurry, and one that completely - and visibly - removes their ability to be a threat. [Example - gating your dog in the kitchen with a baby gate is not a good option, as there is still the theoretical possibility of them jumping over, and they are visibly barking, jumping, etc., and may be perceived as a threat. A crate (if you use them), or behind a closed bedroom or bathroom door (as long as your dog can't open these themselves!!) is a significantly better alternative.]

Don't forget to include specific directives to that effect in your emergency plans, so that friends/family (who may not live with you or be familiar with the issue) can act accordingly if you are injured or incapacitated!

While I fully respect the need for the law to protect officers, medical professionals and others who put their lives on the line to do their job every day, our pets have no legal rights and are fully dependent upon us and our awareness, attentiveness, and protection in situations like this. As you make or update plans for the new year, please make sure your furry companions are are covered!

Thursday, January 5

What Worked For Me: 2016

How are you doing on your new year's resolutions? Good, I hope? Did you indulge in an end-of-year-review before you chose them? I know most people got this kind of thing posted in December, but I thought I'd throw mine up now anyway.

I grappled with a lot of things that just didn't work for me in 2016 and what to do about them, which wasn't fun. At the same time, I (re)discovered/ implemented a few things that turned out to be amazing. Here are a few of the good things I stumbled on that I'm rolling forward into this year.

1. A Rotating Menu (Full of 'Peasant Food'). Food is a big thing for me. When I've got it under control, it makes me feel better about everything else. When it's not under control, all of life instantly gets more stressful; it's just how I'm wired. Enter a rotating menu. By plugging favorite foods in to cover dinner three days every week, I instantly (drastically) simplified planning, shopping, and prep. That, in turn, bought me time and energy to explore and play with new things on the other days. It's stupid simple, but totally working for me… and there's a lot to be said for that.

2. Asana. Generally speaking, I'm a pen-and-paper kind of girl when it comes to organization. I still use a paper planner, sticky notes, and colored sharpies to keep my life in order most of the time. But Asana (a free online project-management program) has been a huge help in working efficiently when there's been a lot of little stuff going on. Best part? I can make multiple sub-lists (e.g. 'must do', 'ideally do' and 'reminders') under one main heading ('stuff to get done this weekend'), and one click swaps items between columns if plans or timing changes.

3. AO3. Archive of Our Own is like the perfect book club for writers and busy introverts. Tags (both standardized and customized) make it easy to see what you're getting before you click, and easy to sort when you're in the mood to read something in particular. It's free (always good), and the comments sections can easily evolve into the kind of involved, intellectually stimulating conversations you wish you could find at book clubs. As a bonus, you get to engage from your own couch (wearing your pajamas if you want) while completely avoiding the pitfalls of obnoxious people and bad book club selections, and you can do it all on your own time schedule.

4. Take No Prisoners Snow Tires. Because I live in an area that does a terrible job of plowing. Always. And I still want/need to go places between October and May.

5. Couch Coffee. There is no substitute for time spent with something really good to drink, someone you love beside you, and deep, rambling conversations. Period. 

What's working for you right now? 

Monday, January 2

Happy National SciFi Day!

Image credit

This is a public service announcement to let you know that today is National Science Fiction Day.

I've written before about the very real value to contemporary life of reading science fiction, above and beyond the sheer joy of reading. With Carrie Fisher's passing, the tributes to her serve as a fresh reminder of the bountiful and beautiful ways SciFi can impact real lives.

So, before today is out, consider adding a new scifi book, movie or blog to your reading list, or just send a mental thank-you to an author, actor, or artist in the genre who has blessed you.

Geekery is good for you - celebrate it!  : )

Sunday, January 1

Happy New Year (Plus a Resource for Your Resolutions!)

Happy New Year!!

Does anyone else think that Sunday is an awesome day to start a new year on? I mean, we had a Saturday (which most of us had off) to wrap up the old year. If you're like me, that meant stuff like running errands and finishing projects. If you're the go-out-and-celebrate type, it meant lots of time to primp and then free rein to stay out late because you could sleep in today.

Now we get to start the new year on another day off. Whether that means curled up on your couch dreaming new dreams with the people you love, or jumping in to fresh projects, I hope you're making the most of it!

Whichever way things go for you, I'd like to kick your new year off right by sharing my new favorite resource for fueling projects and dreams: Coffee AM.

If you live somewhere with good coffee already, this may not be super exciting for you. If you live in a decent-coffee-desert like me, this will make your year. Coffee AM ships coffee the same day it's roasted. (For non coffee snobs, that means it's top notch and you can taste the difference.) I genuinely 1/2 to 3/4 as much of this stuff per pot as I do grocery store coffee because it's that much fresher and more potent (and I drink light to medium roasts, so I'm talking flavor, not dark level).

[Note: I am in no way getting compensated for talking these guys up. I am just sitting here, drinking their amazing brew, and wanting to share it with everyone else who could use something good to start their year.]

That's it for now. Whatever you have planned for the new year, may it be a good one!

Thursday, December 22

All's Well That Ends With A Well (Part II)

One of the great ironies of the Well Project was that connecting the piping and power supply between the well and the house involved getting our new tractor out and digging a (four foot deep) trench diagonally from the corner of the house, through the yard, and across the driveway to the side of the garage… exactly where we'd already planned to dig one to run power to the garage. (Regrettably, garage power and well power aren't allowed to share a trench. * sigh * See: Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal.)

The second portion of that particular irony is that although we were equipped to do that portion of the project ourselves, we couldn't do it until the giant rig holding the pounding equipment was finished and moved.

Just to round it out, we threw in a third bit to that irony: the weather. Almost two full weeks into not having any water, the Well Guys promised they were really close to done. That Thursday, they showed up but only stayed long enough to drill 10 feet. Then they decided the weather it was too distasteful (cold rain) and they were going home. Now, I sympathize, I really do, but it had been all over the news that the weather was going to be nice and Friday and then take a very nasty turn that Saturday. Ergo, I was more than a little frustrated about that let's-just-go-home decision.

As predicted, that Friday was nice, and they showed up around nine in the morning and drilled a whopping 5 feet before they hit the gallons per minute they needed to be done.

So what did they do? They went home!!

Never texted or called either of us to say “hey, we hit what we needed to, FIY.” Even though they knew we needed to finish digging the trench once their truck was out of the way, and the weather was great, and we all knew the weather was supposed to turn horrible on Saturday. We had no idea until we got home that afternoon and we called them! I may have been slightly not happy over the fact that both of us could (and would) have left work immediately and had the trench done by dinner time, if only we'd known. Blarg!

Anyway, obviously we got started asap and worked until it was too dark to keep going Friday night, but we still ended up out there in freezing rain and snow Saturday morning desperately trying to finish. Finally, soaked to the bone, with everything coated in mud, we were able to get everything finished, up, and running that Saturday. (Then spent the next day Sunday out there finishing up getting the giant trench in our front yard/across our driveway refilled.)

We were officially without water for 14 days, and the entire fiasco was gruesomely stressful across the board. It was also thought-provoking and, in a few unexpected ways, reaffirming. We came through, learned some things we hadn't expected (or necessarily wanted) to, and crossed one more enormous project off the list for 2016.

Muddy Arthas, muddy floors, mud everywhere!
All's well that ends with a well, I suppose!