Serial Story: Live With Me, Part 5

This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. Each installment will be available for one week, and new installments will be posted every Friday. Miss one? Joining in late? Email me and I’ll send you the previous installments. Enjoy!

Live With Me

Part 4

Candace was shaking as she leaned against her bedroom door and listened to Emmett move slowly down the hall. She was a world-class bitch for making him go that far on crutches when it was clear from the sweat on his ashen face that he was about to fall over from pain, exhaustion or both.

Not to mention her guest bed was too small. Hell, even her own king-sized bed wasn’t really big enough for a pro-basketball player, but at least he’d fit on the diagonal.

She opened the door to call him back, but the guest door was already closed, and after a moment, she decided it would be more cruel to make him move again. Shutting herself back in her own room, she changed clothes and washed her face before she ventured back out into the hall.

Barely audible snores were drifting from the end of the hall, and she tried not to think about his feet hanging off the end of the bed, putting stress on his healing leg. Grabbing the handles of his bag, she dragged it into her room and stared at it for a long minute before she started rifling through the contents.

She wasn’t being nosy, she told herself. Just looking for whatever medications he needed. And if she couldn’t help salivating a little over what he probably looked like in those boxer-briefs at the bottom of the bag, well, no one really needed to know.

Her search turned up two orange plastic bottles with different pills in them, a couple pages of instructions from his doctor and another couple pages with exercises on them that she assumed were from a rehab specialist. Leaving the bag in her room, she took the medications and information out to the kitchen and finally got the cup of tea she’d been making earlier before settling at the kitchen table to read through the doctors notes and medication information.

When she was done, she sat back in her chair with a sigh. As a personal therapist, her first instinct was to refer him to a colleague who could help him work through this on an emotional level. She’d seen it before, even worked with some atheletes who had been at the top of their game and then lost everything in one horrific swipe. She couldn’t work with Emmett, of course, being too close to the situation, but she could certainly refer him to some great doctors who would listen and help.

Her own emotions were at war as well — part of her wanting to feel vindicated that the boy who’d made a laughing stock of her in school had finally gotten his payback. The other part wanted to take care of the boy who’d been the object of her first real crush and the one who’d given her that first kiss to measure all others by.

She looked at the notes, and then at the exercises again. He was going to need help with them, and she wondered if he planned on hiring a personal trainer — or maybe he already had. She wondered too when he’d last taken his medication…judging by her watch, it had only been an hour since she’d talked to him, but surely he’d taken it well before that.

The phone rang and she scrambled to get it off the kitchen counter before the noise woke Emmett.

“Oh good, I’m glad I caught you,” Angela said, not bothering with niceties. “I was calling to check up on our boy. How’s he doing?”

“He’s sleeping.” Candace wasn’t sure what to say next. I’m sorry, but I yelled at your son for something he apparently doesn’t even remember doing? Or maybe, your son is sleeping on the too-small guest room bed because I was a bitch and kicked him out of my bedroom? 

”Well? How is he? Did you two talk? I wish I could have been there to see it when you first saw him. After all these years. What did you think?” Angela sounded…happy. Too happy for a woman whose son was currently sleeping in a too-small bed and was probably going to need therapy to help him get over not only his injury and all that entailed, but his hostess too.

Deciding against letting Angela know that her first glimpse of Emmett in years had included a full frontal, Candace tried to play it cool.

“We did speak, but not much. He was tired, and I was…” Shocked? Smitten? Sixteen all over again? “I was tired too, I guess. We really didn’t talk much, Angela.”

“Well, there’s always tomorrow,” she said, sounding distracted. “Get some sleep, honey, and take good care of my boy. I’m trusting you with him, you know. “

“I know. I’ll take care of him.” Candace disconnected after a few simple goodbyes and put the phone down on the table.

“So does that mean you’re going tell me where to find a glass for water, or you’re going to smother me in my sleep?”

Candace looked up, and Emmett was close — too close, actually. How he’d snuck up on her with those crutches, she wasn’t sure, but the smirk on his face told her it hadn’t been an accident.

“Try the cupboard to the right of the sink for a glass. Then I think we should talk.”

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On Quirky Tech, TV, & Lifestyle Check…

It’s been a little over a week since I got my new laptop, and I’m very nearly finished “moving in”. As with every piece of tech I’ve ever bought, this one’s not without it’s quirks, but I’m getting to know them and how to work with and/or around them (as we do). The backspace key still trips me up until I’ve been typing awhile, but I’m getting there. I finally found instructions on how to deal with the trackpad online, and turning off the “tap to click” function saves me from deleting paragraphs when my thumbs travel across the trackpad while I’m typing.

I did suffer a bit of confusion when I plugged in my external DVD drive and it wouldn’t autoplay the disc. Windows has included a media player by default since…well, since I was in college, I think. As it turns out, they stopped doing that with Windows 8 – apparently they expect everyone to just download all entertainment now? I still like to own media here and there, thank you very much. In any case, a quick search of the internet turned up several freeware options for DVD player software, and my problem was solved in about 5 minutes, thank goodness.

So, just one more thing to get installed/working, and I think I’ll be good to go. The only other thing I need to do is crochet a sleeve for the new laptop, as I’ve already scratched the aluminum case carrying it in my bag, and the top of my bag is open, so it needs a little extra protection from the elements. I’ll probably put a skin on it as well – at least on the wrist rests, because as much as I love the all metal chassis, it’s cold to rest my hands on. A polyvinyl skin will make it feel a bit warmer.

Speaking of new tech, we finally replaced our basement TV this weekend. We were still using an old analog square monstrosity down there, and the picture was getting quite fuzzy. We found a nice LED flatscreen to replace it with, and the digital tuner in the new TV is way better than the box we were using with the old TV (we don’t have cable – just a rooftop antenna). Needless to say, the picture is so much nicer…it’s really quite nice. And now I have one less excuse to get my butt downstairs in the evenings and do a half-hour workout.

Which brings us to a recent “lifestyle check” I’ve been doing. I need to pull things back into balance, as they’ve become a bit skewed – though oddly enough, it’s not the day job that’s the culprit this time. I’ve actually been incorporating bits of the day job into my personal life, not enough to be overwhelming, but enough that it just feels like any other part of my “whole” life, rather than a distinctly separate entity, and I have to say, it’s actually less stressful to have it that way than it was when I was very rigid about keeping them separate. I know it seems counterintuitive for a lot of us, but after reading several articles making the argument for letting the lines between personal and professional blur last year, I decided to give it a try. And I have to say, I’m happier and more satisfied with my job having done so. It’s weird, but whatever works, you know? Obviously that can be taken too far, but I think I’m keeping a healthy-enough boundary in place. For now, at least.

No, the two things I need to pull back into balance now is health, and hobbies. And the thing that has supplanted them isn’t even really a “thing” at all, but rather that insidious laziness that keeps me cemented to the couch after dinner at night, staring at both the TV and my computer screen, thinking I’m going to both relax (with TV) and get something done (either writing or marketing/pub stuff). In reality, I stare at the TV, ignore my computer for the most part, and pretty much do my best zombie impression until it’s finally time to get up and feed the dogs.

This sort of laziness isn’t really benign. I sit at a desk most of the day, and for the last month and a half or so, I haven’t even been taking a break and walking the stairs twice a day. I do still get a yoga workout in every morning, but that’s really not enough movement in general for the human body to stay in optimal condition. So it’s not just that I’m “doing nothing”, but that I’m actively sabotaging my own health. Not cool.

I have reminders for nightly workouts…I’ve just been ignoring them. I could get more creative with them, but really, it doesn’t matter. What matters is not ignoring them – getting up off the couch and actually working out. And not being lazy at work either – it only takes a few minutes to walk the stairs morning & afternoon.

I’ve been ignoring portion sizes too, so that’s another thing I need to pay more attention to. None of this is difficult at all, it just requires that I make the right choices. And I’m perfectly capable of that, honestly. I just…haven’t been. Getting back to making those right choices is at the top of my list for this week.

I have plenty of excuses, but none of them are valid at the moment, so…time to get back on the wagon, so to speak.

Anyone else gotten lazy with a healthy habit lately? Wanna join me? Brave enough to admit it?

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On Laptops, Orphan Black, & Stuff…


This past Friday, I got my longevity check. Saturday, I went shopping. Long story short, I’m typing this on my brand new HP Spectre 360 laptop. It’s a 2-in-1/convertible model, so the screen will fold all the way back into tablet mode if I chose, or it works just like a regular laptop as well. The only thing that’s slightly concerning is that due to the hinge system, there’s a bit of screen wobble when I really get to typing away on it. But it’s not all that bad, and considering I have to stop and think more often than I’d like, it should be okay.

The other thing about this particular laptop that I’ll have to get used to is the backspace and enter keys are wide, but they don’t register if you just hit them on the side, so I’ll have to adjust my reach a bit. That’ll come with time (and errors, in the case of the backspace key, which I’m already hitting with far more accuracy just after these two paragraphs).

Old vs. New

Old vs. New

The key caps are metal like the rest of the chassis though, which I think will be good, considering the wear and tear I tend to put on keyboards. My old keyboard is pretty much on its last legs, as you can see. The new keyboard is backlit too, which isn’t something I really need as a touch typist, but it’s cool nonetheless. The keyboard is comfortable enough to type on…it’s a little more shallow than I’m used to, but considering how much I type, I dare say I’ll adjust quickly.

This laptop has Windows 8.1 on it, which really is just an amalgamation of Win 7 and an Android OS. It was a bit confusing at first, but after a couple days of use and customizing, I actually really like the tiled start page, and it’ll be especially handy in tablet mode. I’ll grab Win. 10 once it’s available.

As you can see from the photo, this machine is a bit smaller than my old one. I’ll need an external CD/DVD drive, but those aren’t too expensive. At 13 inches and seriously thin, this laptop is actually portable, which is something I really wanted in my next computer. Because being able to haul it around with me on a near-daily basis means I can write anywhere, anytime I have time. It’s also got a solid state drive, so it boots fast. No long waits to get working, which is nice.

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with it so far. I’ve got all my files copied over, and I just need to install a few more programs and make a few more connections before I’m finally finished “moving” my digital life from one house to the other. It’s a lot of work, I tell you what. But that’s also one of the nice things about the writing program I’m beta testing. Just install the program, sign in, and voila! All your stuff right there and ready to be stored back in the database. Not that my Scrivener files were all that difficult to move.

In any case, that was most of my weekend – moving files and installing programs. The other thing we did this weekend was start and nearly finish Season Two of Orphan Black. That show is genius, really, and incredibly intense. The lead actress is simply amazing to play all those different parts at once, and so well! It’s one of the few shows that grabs my attention so completely that I really can’t do anything while I’m watching it. Excellent show, in my opinion.

This week should be a bit quieter than things have been lately, and my husband will be out of town for three days too. So I plan on getting a lot of writing in, as well as getting back to my knit and crochet projects. I thought for sure I’d have my sock done by now…alas, I didn’t get back to my knitting all week last week. Much more focus on relaxation this week, which will be very good for me, I think. Maybe I’ll even finally get a reading post up on Wednesday. Miracles do happen occasionally…

And with that, I’m off to bed. Happy(?) Monday!

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On Social Oddities, Boxing & New Books…

*cautiously looks around, keeping a close eye on the shadows*

My last few Mondays haven’t been exactly stellar, so I’m approaching this one with a healthy dose of caution and skepticism (much like a normal Tuesday). But my weekend was good – very productive, and I’ve got my schedule and workload(s) back under control, which should help me deal effectively with anything that comes up (or goes down, which actually happens more often in my world, sadly).

In any case, something odd that I noticed about last Monday was the high percentage of red shirts being worn. We’re talking several of my co-workers, my husband, and more than a few people I saw randomly walking on the streets. Why did I even notice? Because I’d nearly reached for a red shirt myself (a color I rarely wear), and then decided against it because red is an aggressive, active color, and I didn’t want that sort of “vibe” around me for a Monday. I wore blue (calming, trustworthy), but I think I ended up dealing with the fallout of “red” by default, given how many other people in my immediate circle were wearing it that day.

It does make me wonder what was in the air, so to speak, to make everyone reach for a red shirt that morning (including myself)… *cue alien invasion music*

This weekend, of course, the big “thing” was a boxing match on Saturday night. I’m not a boxing fan…it makes me physically ill to watch two people beating each other to a pulp for nothing other than…money? Fame? Whatever. And yes, I’ve been informed that there wasn’t much actual boxing during Saturday’s match, which is a bit ironic, I think.

I can normally at least appreciate the intricacies of pretty much anything if I understand the underlying logic to it, even if it involves physical violence/danger, and even if I don’t necessarily enjoy whatever “it” happens to be. An old-fashioned duel for honor, for instance…still seems like overkill to me depending on the circumstances, but I get the underlying motivation, so I’m okay with it. Most serial killers, I get (I probably shouldn’t admit that). But I admit to being completely perplexed by boxing. I want to understand, and I do understand how a lot of people get into it, I just don’t get why people keep doing it, considering how high the percentage of giving or receiving a life-altering injury is. It…makes no logical sense. And yes, I know that makes me sound like Spock.

I always was partial to Spock, even as a little kid. Which is no surprise to anyone who knows me, I’m sure.

What else? Oh right! BeauTEAful Summer, the collected edition of three romantic suspense shorts I wrote last year is finally available (sort of a buy two/get the third free deal), and one of my alter-egos has a new book out today as well. My other alter-ego has a new audiobook out, so something for everyone – I’ll be setting up contests for free copies here and there this week…

And now, to bed (it’s 12:30am as I write this). I skimped on sleep every night last week, and paid dearly for it. Not going to make the same mistake twice (at least not two weeks in a row)!

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On…Random Stuff

Monday was rough. Part of it was me not being properly prepared because I didn’t use my weekend wisely (take this post, for example…). Part of it was just me being an idiot (the last couple hours of the workday, mostly). All in all, it added up to a day I’d rather just forget, though parts of it are going to spill over into Tuesday by necessity. But my Tuesdays generally suck, so no big surprise there. I expect them to be bad, so I go into Tuesday pretty much resigned to the fact that whatever’s going to happen, will, and surviving the day is all I can really reasonably ask of myself.

A couple of groovy things that happened this weekend:

I turned the heel on the sock I’m knitting and started decreasing the gusset


I got a bunch of fun stamps from the Monthly Postcard Exchange


A third groovy thing for the week: Saturday is Free Comic Book Day!

Now, I’m off to bed because it’s past my bedtime yet again, and I’m gonna need my wits about me tomorrow…

Here’s hoping your week’s off to a much better start than mine!

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On Reading, Writing, & A New Serial Story…

Happy(?) Monday!

First up, the Jasmine plant I bought a couple weeks ago and was worried about killing? As I was doing my weekly “plant check” on Sunday, I noticed that the new vines have flower buds. How cool is that? A good sign, methinks…

I’ve also been reading more again…thank goodness. On the rare occasions that my life gets really hectic, I have no mental energy left for much of anything – even reading. But things are evening out again, and I’ve been reading more regularly, and I have some books I’m excited to recommend. So look for the return of the weekly reading post coming this Wednesday.

In writing news – I finished a draft this weekend! Woohoo! It’s an upper middle grade adventure story that I wrote for submission to Black Wolf Print, a brand new small press just opening up this year. It’s book one of five (or six, maybe), and it was a challenge all the way through because it was completely out of my normal comfort zone. But I think it turned out well, and I’m looking forward to continuing the story in the next book (not until sometime next fall – I have a lot of other books to write before I get back to this series!).

I’ve been beta testing a new writing program for a few days, and I really like it so far. It’s called Shaxpir (shakes-peer), and while a lot of features are still in development, I can see this replacing both Scrivener and Evernote for my writing needs (I’ll still need Evernote for a host of other things, of course). We’ll see, but so far, I’m excited about it.

It’s kind of funny, but while I move deeper into technology for my writing needs, at the day job, I’m actually moving back to more…traditional project management methods. Just Friday, I asked my boss for a whiteboard and markers, because I need a place to write things out and color code and do it all by hand just for that better memory recall and the constant visual reminders. I don’t know how it will work, exactly, but I think it’s gonna be good. I’m excited about that too, in a different way altogether.

And last but not least, I’ll be starting a new serial novel here on the blog on Friday. Yes, I know…not going to do them anymore, etc, but…it’s my blog, and I can change my mind if I want to. And I do. So if you’re interested, check back Friday for the first chapter of Live With Me – second book in the Be With Me series. Wanna read the first book? Sleep With Me is available in digital and print formats at your favorite online retailers. A great summer read, if I do say so myself.

And for those of you who follow my alter-egos, keep an eye on those blogs too. Similar announcements are coming…

That’s it for now…here’s to a hopefully productive and spring-like week for all of us!

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On Jasmine, Change Cycles, & Spoiled Wine…

A couple of weeks ago, I found two jasmine vines at the grocery store (in the plant department, of course). I love jasmine, but I tend to have a hard time growing it as a houseplant. Most of the time, that stops me from buying, but there were only two, and it’s pretty rare to find it around here at all, and in a moment of weakness, I brought one home.


Jasmine plant with dying leaves & new shoots.

I wasn’t really all that surprised when leaves started to shrivel up and die, even though I paid pretty close attention to it and took care not to over-water it or let it dry out. I figured that would happen, but it did kind of bum me out that it happened so quickly. Still, I kept it, because sometimes plants go through an adjustment period where they act like they’re gonna die and then spring back to life just because their environment changed.

Sure enough, a couple days later, I spotted new vines coming up among the dying ones. And this week as I was doing my Sunday “plant check”, I noticed that the new vines don’t seem to be dying. Yet.

I don’t really consider this “pessimism” – more just “realism”. I’ve killed enough of these plants to know that the chances of keeping one alive long-term aren’t good. At the same time, my naturally optimistic nature really, really wants to believe that this time, this one will be “the one” that I grow into a beautiful, healthy, strong jasmine vine that will eventually bloom and set off my allergies like crazy (life tends to balance like that…).

The whole changing of the leaves/out with the old/in with the new is relevant in many ways to my life right now, from the day job, to the writing, and a bunch of matching internal philosophical upheaval. Things and thoughts evolving and sometimes even going in directions I didn’t really see coming. With the changes come many decisions to make and…”things” that must be dealt with. It’s normally a stressful time, and there’s really no way out but through.

This current cycle of change seems different though, somehow. It’s still a bit stressful and I’ve fallen way behind, but mentally I feel like I’m keeping things in better perspective, which is helping me to cope in a healthier, more “zen” manner. Yes, I still feel the stress, but there’s this underlying calm as well that keeps me focused on what could be if I can hang in there and get to the other side. Change will never be my friend…I love stability and routines far too much for that. But at this particular point in my life, I feel like I’m able to embrace this time for what it is: a period of transition that will eventually yield to a positive outcome.

Or so I hope, anyways.

Unlike the wine we bought a few weeks ago to restock our wine cooler. I left the box of several bottles on the dining room table, because I hadn’t gotten around to adding them to my stock list yet. I finally got them added and we opened one up last week and…it was horrible. Another and another and another and…you get the idea. All different wines and labels, all apparently ruined by sitting for a week in the hot sun that comes in my southern dining room window.

Mea culpa. Needless to say, we went and bought yet another “stock” for the cooler this weekend, and I got them cataloged and into the cooler post haste. Often my laziness leads to more efficient means of doing things, but in this case, it just led to a bunch of spoiled wine. A sad, somewhat expensive lesson to learn, but I won’t be lazy putting the wine away again!

I know I’ve been skimping on the blog posts lately, and it’s because every spare moment I get lately, I’ve been spending either recovering from a mentally exhausting day, or working on drafts (sometimes both). Things are settling down a bit though, and I’m hopeful that this week I’ll have more mental energy to spare, which will enable me to get back on the blogging wagon, so to speak. I hope. If that does happen, watch for a special announcement coming this Friday (if you don’t see it, you can safely assume I’m just brain-dead again this week – it’ll happen eventually!).

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On Problem Solving & The Magic of Showers…

Believe it or not, I’m glad it’s Monday (yes, it’s 12:30am as I write this, but still…Monday). I know, I know. It’s completely preposterous, but Mondays are actually rarely bad for me (Tuesdays are generally my “bad” day of the week), and I solved a programming problem in my head while in the shower on Sunday, and I’m excited to get back to work and see if my solution will hold up in a test. Excited, I tell you. It’s a most frustrating/perplexing problem I’ve been trying to solve.

The thing is, the solution was right there the whole time (as they generally are). Staring me right in the face and waiting for that “ah-ha!” moment to finally kick in (after which the solution laughs and points and makes fun of how long it took me to find it). But I’ve found that there are several things that have to be in place before that ah-ha moment can happen:

– The mind has to be relaxed
– The actual root of the problem must be discovered
– The problem has to be examined from all sides, not just one or two

In my case, I had to get away from my normal work environment (hence my mind chewing on it this weekend). It’s been a bit more stressful than usual lately, and I just needed to be away and without pressure for a little while. I also had to “lead” myself into finding the root of the problem. There were many symptoms masking it, but when I finally did find the actual root cause of my problems, that’s what pointed me toward the proper perspective to attack the problem from.

Once I switched perspectives, the solution I needed suddenly just popped right into my head. And it was so simple that I actually spent quite a bit of time thinking about all the potential reasons it wouldn’t work because it just seemed so easy.

We shall see after I’m able to set up a test, but I’m very, very optimistic.

The million dollar question here is: If I hadn’t taken a shower yesterday, how long would it have been before I came to this solution? Not that it really matters, but…I’m willing to contend that the shower was integral to finding the solution when and how I did.

Because showers are magical, of course.

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On Life, Writing, & Pressure Valves…

Before I forget, I need to announce the winners of the Flame & Stone Newsletter Prize Packages (this month’s newsletter should be in your inbox by now):

Congratulations to
Lorraine Richmond & Dolly Garland!

You’ll both be hearing from me by email this evening, ladies. Thanks for being subscribers! :-)

There’s a BeauTEAful Summer Tea-Themed prize package up for grab next month, and it’s only for newsletter subscribers. If you’re not signed up, what are you waiting for?

Now to answer the question I’m sure is on everyone’s mind…

Yes, yes we did get the new dishwasher. And installed it over the course of two nights. And about 20 minutes of my Saturday too, finishing up the hose & electrical box hangings. Which sounds far more interesting than it actually was.

Life sort of took a not-so-unexpected-yet-still-unwelcome turn last week, leaving me very little energy (mental or physical) at the end of each day. It’s a temporary situation as they generally are – things always tend to find a way to come back to some sort of balance eventually. The annoying thing about being worn down that far is that there’s no room for anything else until the mind’s had a chance to rest. Including writing.

I get crabby when I don’t write, and not just because between that cold I had and these “things” going on, I’m extremely behind on several deadlines at this point. I know it all sounds like excuses because they do to me too, but that doesn’t solve the issue of just having no brain power left to do one more thing. Doesn’t make it any less frustrating either.

But the main reason I get crabby when I don’t write is that writing is an outlet for me. It’s like a pressure-valve, and when the pressure builds up too high, it gets rather uncomfortable. Even worse, when it’s been a few days since the valve has been open, it gets cold and hard to open at all.

And last week, I barely got a chance to even look at the valve, much less open it. (Okay, that got a little weird. Sorry.)

Anyways, my main goal for this week is to make a point to “release the pressure” at least once a day, regardless of the chaos that the next five days are very likely to bring. Of course surprises will happen, and there’s nothing I can do about that except to just deal with them one-by-one and hope there aren’t too many left to be sprung. But the more organized I am, and the clearer picture I have of what needs to be done when, the better I can deal with curve-balls, and that’s what determines how much mental energy I have left at the end of the day.

As you might imagine, I’ve been prioritizing and scheduling all weekend long in the hopes of getting out in front of things this week. My control-freak nature freaking right out. Don’t mind her. She does that occasionally…

Actually, she’s been screaming at me for the last 15 minutes that I really need to go to bed and get some sleep so I can roll with whatever happens.

She’s always a pain in the butt, but sometimes she’s right…

I wish you a non-chaotic, boring week. Or if you happen to run into chaos, by all means, feel free to keep her/him/it/whatever…I certainly don’t need her back.

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On Housekeeping, Dishes, & the Power of Three…

I dusted and mopped this weekend.

I know, I know – you’re all thinking, “Seriously? That’s all you’ve got? It’s like saying the sky is blue or grass is green (or brown, or white depending on where you are)!”

And you’d be right, except for the fact that those things “you” listed are true all of the time, and I can’t even tell you the last time I mopped the hard floors or dusted. I only dusted part of the TV stand, but I tell you what – there was probably a thick enough layer to measure with a ruler.

I may have mopped the floors twice since we moved in. Ten years ago.

Now that you all know I’m a total slob and never want to visit, here’s the thing. Last weekend, I felt like crap, and hubby had the flu, and the whole house was just…not well. I had no motivation to do anything, much less housework. So nothing got done – not even the weekly vacuuming, which is basically what keeps us both breathing through our respective allergies during the week. Today (yesterday, Sunday, whatever), I actually felt good for the first time in two weeks, and I finally managed to get the housecleaning done, including mopping and a little dusting. It’s a red-letter day, people. Cause for celebration!! << See that? Two exclamation points, even…

Know what else is cause for celebration? There’s a new dishwasher on the way, and it should be in town by Tuesday. Thank God (and my husband), because I’m really sick of doing dishes by hand. It even has a dedicated silverware rack at the top! Seriously cool – I can’t wait to get it!

3BagsOn a completely different subject, I got recently is a new “laptop” bag. Finding the right bag to carry my Alphasmart (and/or a smaller laptop, when I upgrade) has been an ongoing battle since last December. I decided back then that I didn’t want to have to carry two bags to work anymore – I wanted to consolidate my drinks/breakfast/snacks into a bag big enough to carry my Alphasmart for writing on breaks or whenever going somewhere it’s common to have to wait. And I also wanted it to be large enough to carry a smaller laptop, because I’m thinking of “upgrading” my big, heavy one to something smaller and more portable later this year.

This is where the Power of Three comes in. I don’t know why…maybe it was my art professor drilling the whole “odd is good, threes are artistic” thing into my head, but I’ve noticed my subconscious is a bit obsessed with sets of threes. I tried three cases for my Note/cell before settling on one I like, the draft I’m currently editing is full of threes (3 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 months), and it took me three tries to find the perfect new bag that is *just* the right size and shape to hold everything I need it to.

The Big Green Bag was first, but it’s not balanced right, it’s just a tad bit too tall, and the straps are too short. Not long after I got it, I tweaked my shoulder pretty badly with it (don’t ask) – an injury that took around 6 weeks to fully recover from. It would be nice for traveling, but that’s about it.

The Red Book Bag was next, and it’s a little smaller, and has a nice long cross-body strap, but the outsides are hard (like, um, a hardcover book), and I’m not really a cross-body strap girl, so carrying it was unwieldy and uncomfortable. Good novelty bag for certain situations, but there are no outer pockets either, which was a huge turn-off.

Finally, the Peacock Bag – which is perfect. There are three compartments and another padded compartment inside the center one meant for a laptop. It’s not too big, but just big enough to fit what I need it to, and functionally, it’s comfortable enough to carry as a large purse when I’m not using it for work. It has a nice long shoulder strap that’s very adjustable, two shorter handles and plenty of outside and inside pockets for…stuff. Found it on ebay for a total steal – still more than I wanted to pay, but it’s full hand-painted leather, and I plan to use it for many years to come.

Goldilocks and her Three Bears have nothin’ on me…

Actually, now that I think about it, the new dishwasher will be my third in this house. Here’s hoping it’s perfect and will run for many, many years. Or more than three, at least…

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