bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
2014 was going to be the year I finally started a) finishing writing projects, instead of just falling out of love with them and consigning them to electronic purgatory, and b) actually sharing a few things. And, yay! I think I did well on both counts, for which, in addition to patting my own back, I owe huge thank yous to the TGS comm for being extremely kind and encouraging.

2014 List and Totals, etc... )
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Work may be best attempted on drugs
I’m thinking of changing my job title to professional Cat Herder and Tilter at Windmills. Don’t think the bosses will go for it though. Part of my job is corralling incredibly creative, free spirited technophobes and teaching them to use our company’s technology. On the up side, I am dealing with absolutely lovely people most of the time. On the down side, it’s a challenge, an impossible dream of sorts, in fact.

I gave Thursday’s training sessions completely loopy on migraine meds, a fact I confessed going in – honest, I’m not usually this spacey, I’m just a bit drugged, you see – and they were very sweet about it. In fact, as it turns out, I didn’t do that badly. And, hey, there is an unexpected benefit to running a training session a wee bit drugged out: I didn’t get twitchy afterwards, not that I intend to make this a regular thing. Ugh.

My medicinal situation did me no favors later when the Education team began loudly going over a new product they’re teaching in the salon end of our business – express facials. At my best, part of my humor will always be about 13 years old and any innuendo, no matter how juvenile is no end of hilarious. So, oh yes, by the time they got to the discussion of the salt scrub and making sure our students received specific instructions on proper application, I was on the verge of dying. Thank Bob for high cubicle walls.

Unclear on the concept of tease
I’m a bit of a connoisseur of TV and movie trailers, which is weird I realize, but I love the puzzle of how to tease a story to draw an audience in without mischaracterizing the story or giving too much away. Some do this exceptionally well, others quite terribly and, yes, sometimes the terrible ones are the most interesting.

BBCA’s trailer choices for Musketeers, however, are just on the bad end of strange. I’m in the odd position of having watched the series on DVD before watching for a second time on BBCA (Thank you, thank you, no end of thank you, for airing each episode uncut at least the one time.) and they give away entirely too much in the trailers. The trailer for Commodities, for example (last week’s episode, and I’m just quoting the trailer, so no additional spoilers here), shows Porthos growling, “He’s a slaver!” 9 seconds in and Aramis summing things up, “You were the Comte de la Fère, a son of the nobility?” 15 seconds in and there’s still 15 more seconds of trailer. I believe they are unclear on the concept of tease.

It all started with dime novels…
It was doubly funny for me when Tom Burke mentioned Lonesome Dove (the mini series) fondly in an interview. I’ve been thinking about another of my favorite McMurtry books all week, Anything for Billy. The imaginative version of Billy the Kid’s adventures is narrated by Ben Sippy, a wealthy ‘Back East’ dandy in search of the real ‘Wild West’. The impetus for this search is an addiction to dime novel westerns, which he read so voraciously that he tore through the publishing companies’ entire back catalogs and then swiftly outpaced their publishing schedule. When his favorite writers couldn’t possibly feed his habit quickly enough, he started to write his own…

My own relationship with fanfiction, much? Why, yes, as a matter of fact it is, though I tend to stop writing for a bit whenever someone posts something new. It’s usually more relaxing to just curl up and read someone else’s better written creation…but then what I read is inspiring and there isn’t any more for a while, and the whole cycle starts all over again… *grins* Oh well, there are far worse obsessions hobbies? Nah, I got it right the first time.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Work is, in fact, a four letter word.
I am about to travel 450+ miles round trip in one day (again), through not-quite Steinbeck country, to spend four hours trying to solve computer program woes for the enthusiastic but clueless. On the one hand, if we can eliminate the user errors, this is actually a really cool project that I am mostly enjoying and the program will help some potential students with special needs. On the other hand, the more complications that arise from the cluelessness, the more I find myself muttering “Next time, Jack, write a goddamned memo!’ under my breath because, yeah, I’m travelling at my own suggestion.

Oh…and I am not an IT professional. I’m just a corporate writer with an ever expanding millinery collection and a knack for landing odd but interesting projects. At least they’re enthusiastic. It’s often easier to train people with less experience/natural ability but a good attitude than the other way around. More fun too.

Musketeers, Now That’s the Way to Make an Entrance
I am only two episodes in, but I am giddy definitions of smitten – very well done from the characters, to the dialogue, to the storylines, costumes, actors, everything. The Three Musketeers is one of those stories I loved so much as a kid that I’ve happily followed it through all of its many incarnations, well done and less so. For this reason, I am a bit amused at their idea of a stunning reveal. Are there really people who gasped in shock at the end of episode one? Yeah, probably. *shrugs* Still, so far I love how they’ve blended cannony bits with new adventures so much that I am hardly complaining. The writers got the feel of this right. They pretty much had me at the fork.

Angst-less Writing Stuff
I actually finished one of my WIPs and I posted it – both of which are kind of monumental for me, especially in the sense of occurring together. And, hey, it wasn’t greeted with crickets and no one politely asked me if I wouldn’t prefer to consider their fandom more of a spectator sport – you laugh, but these were actual thoughts in my brain before I hit post that first time. Yikes! But, I did it, truly lovely people gave me even lovelier comments, I pretty much bounced all over the house with silly amounts of happy over this fact, and it was a lot less difficult to hit the post button the next time.

Next time? Ah, yes. There were next times. Two of my initial three WIPs, including the ungodly long WIP of doom, remain WIPs. But, you see, in the middle of all of this, there were these bunnies. Other bunnies. Highly compelling bunnies. And they were so cute and fluffy. Oh, and did I mention that they lied? Yes, they said they were much shorter and faster than they really were, so I wrote them too. *shrugs* I think I'm starting to agree with Anya on the whole bunnies being evil thing. I'm just far less inclined than she to refuse to associate with them on account of it, twitchy little noses being kind of cute and all.

More Procrastination Fodder?
To Tumblr or not to Tumblr. That is my social media conundrum of late. Be practical and stick to the myriad of online distractions I already have at my fingertips, or play with the new shiny toy, too?
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Master & Margarita

‘Dostoevsky is dead.’ ‘I protest! Dostoevsky is immortal.’
Last week a fellow Russian lit fiend friend sent me the image above and absolutely made my week. Sometimes I honestly am just that ridiculously easy. But, but, it’s a The Master and Margarita inspired prank street sign. So what if it happened in 2012 and I’m only just hearing about it now? At the time it happened, at least, the city council apparently decided the sign and the prank were a worthy tribute to Bulgakov and allowed it to remain up. For me, this qualifies as one of those ‘suddenly one more thing is right with the world than I gave it credit for’ moments.

All for…well, anyway.
We finally got a real preview for the Musketeers on BBCA last week. I’d decided not to buy the DVD because they’ve been saying April for months now and, hey, it’s April. Why not save a little cash? However, at the end of the preview they said June. June? Really? Oh, no, no, no, June is simply unacceptable. Soooo, the DVD should be here in a few days and I shall be spending some time unearthing the old multi-region DVD player from the garage. Problem solved.

Curse of the drinking writing classes
I usually define a good week at work as one packed with a lot of variety. By that barometer, these past few weeks have been stellar, which definitely keeps my interest levels high but, holy crap, am I ever busy. Websites and audits and a multitude of eclectic copy assignments, oh my!

Drouble, Dribble, Toil and Scribble
I am an addict! Many, many thanks to the TGS mods for the Spring Challenge. I am having so much fun playing with any crazy idea that pops into my head – something I am perhaps a little too loathe to try in a longer format. I was only going to tackle a few of the prompts but, yeah, see the first sentence of this paragraph.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town…
You know that thing, where you write something at least in part to work on things you know you’re bad at and then you read over what you’ve written and, yup, you’re still bad at them? Okay, maybe this is just a me thing, but ugh! Dialog. Multiple POV. Pacing. Better, I guess, but still not good. Frustrating.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I went to work with a nasty migraine today – because, let’s face it, most days you just don’t have a choice – for a big project meeting and to meet a tight deadline on another project. Yup, it was a putting the FU in fun kind of a day.

But I came home to Legos and cookies so, really, it wasn’t all bad. Not at all, at all actually.

My grinning husband greeted me at the door with gentle hugs and a ‘how are you feeling?’ and then he said, ‘for you, one rogue’ and handed me a Lego microfighters Millennium Falcon. Um, wow! I do like flowers, but they’re so ephemeral that buying them always seems wasteful somehow. But spontaneous Lego purchases are forever…or something like that.

*gentle, non-head shaking, happy dance*

See, I have a massive thing for well written rouge characters – a proclivity of which my husband is well aware, he being my forever rogue and all – and I often say that my first rogues were Han Solo and Alan Breck. So a Lego Han Solo is just so many of favorite things all in one place. And after I passed out for two hours with my meds and a heating pad on my head, we built Lego fighters and he baked cookies. Yes cookies!

I could have seriously done without the pain, but the evening turned out to be a really nice one – a really nice one, actually. And, as a side benefit, I now know that Legos work great for me post-migraine. Once the pain is gone, I get the shaky hands, really uncoordinated, fuzzy brained thing for up to a day after and this seemed to help...sufficiently so that I have written something more or less coherent here at any rate, though my typing is highly suspect. Cool beans.

Now if only the personal writing were going so well. I’m having a lot of fun with it, but definitely in between bouts of ‘I am a complete and utter hack and I hate every word I write.’

I started out writing one TGS fic that I figured would be a good, short-ish, getting my feet wet sort of fic back in October. Somehow, my short-ish idea has become 56k words and counting – 32.5k of it is even consecutive at the moment, the rest is very Lot 666 as we say in my house (a chandelier novella in pieces). And, yikes! I love it. I hate it. I’m kind of stupidly proud that I’ve at least gotten this far. I’m smitten with some of my own ideas. But I also worry that, in the end, I’m going to turn around and find that I have written some 75k words of absolute crap.

In the middle of writing the big, crazy thing (which does actually have a real name now, so I suppose that means I’m keeping it) my plot bunnies had plot bunnies – because, well, bunnies – and I started writing two shorter TGS things, shorter meaning probably 8 to 10K words. This is good because a) maybe I can finish something soon-ish and b) the big, crazy thing is angsty, so it’s nice that one of my shorter things is just post race happy sexings. In fact, the post race happy thing (which has a real name now too, just this week actually) is almost done…should be almost done…but I’m frankly terrified of the ‘after I finish it’ part. I think this is why I’m dragging my feet so much finishing it – once it’s finished I should probably post it and that’s just plain scary. That and I’m definitely in a hack-feeling phase this week.

Aaaaaand another self-imposed deadline whooshes by and I don’t post anything in March either. Love that sound…grumble, grumble. But I guess what I really should be taking from this is that I’m writing and I care enough about what I’m writing to be thoroughly annoyed by it…oh, and I have Legos. *nods*
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
20140301 Cake - online

(Okay, okay, to the very, very short layer cake. AKA, I generally only post food pics when it’s funny. Roger Rabbit rules, and all that.)

Because doesn’t everyone decide, ‘it’s after 10, it’s pouring rain and wow do I want cake’? Real cake. With many layers and perfect oozing icing and, well, you get the general idea. The you have to bake it yourself kind.

Lately, Friday nights at our place have been up late, both writing (him with annoyingly more productivity than I, *sigh*) and listening to music sorts of nights anyway so, hey, why not start something that I won’t finish until 1 am or so? No, that’s not sarcasm. That is actually my logic. *nods* And even if the cake isn’t absolutely perfect – it was a thrown together pantry sort of affair, necessitating several substitutions – it works.

Moment of Zen from the baking:

I only use milk to bake. I don’t drink it. It doesn’t really like me. At times I will, however, drink soy milk, so I got confused and was shaking the non-soy milk before I measured it out for the cake. Enter my husband, looking to help…

Him: You don’t have to shake the milk.
Me: *laugh at myself, facepalm, finish measuring the milk into the bowl and start whisking*
Him, laughing: Stirred, not shaken?
Me: Ha, ha. No, Mr. Bond. Whisked, not stirred.
Him: Right. Whisked. Milk should be neither shaken nor stirred….unless you’re making a martini for Alex Rider.
Me: *Sporfle*

Oh, and none of this should be construed as me procrastinating from writing one bit. Nooooooooooo. (Okay, yeeeeeeeeeeees). Because it’s not like I’m stuck or any…*mumbles* Mmmmm…you know, this cake is pretty good. *nods, looks around searching for train of thought* Was I typing something? ;)

bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
WPA era posters and brilliantly trashy old school pulp geek out, and I am head over heels for the end result! The posters were a birthday surprise from my husband and, as the subject line says, I felt they just had to be shared:

2014 Fantastically Geeky BDay Posters - LJ

Just in case you can’t read it and would like to, the tagline on the Princess and the Scoundrel is “She loved him and he knew it. But would it be enough?” *silly, giddy grin*

The artist behind the posters is Timothy Anderson who has a website with many other lovely, clever things I am now drooling over...especially the Star Wars done in the style of Spaghetti Western posters.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
It’s raining. Has been off and on all afternoon and evening. And it’s glorious!

I love it. Southern California needed it. And it’s even the perfect kind of rain – steady, constant and not too hard for half a day and then back again a few days later for the last week. Exactly what this drought hardened and, in large patches, fire-stripped of all of its protective ground cover, land needs in order to actually absorb the water like normal landscape instead of rejecting it all in a flurry of flooding and mudslides. Ah, California! Blue skies, gorgeous weather but, from time to time, the state will actively try to kill you. ;) But I digress…

So, right. Rain. Lovely, beneficial for all concerned today and adored by me. I was already working from home today, so I got to curl up with my laptop in front of the living room windows with tea and good coffee. I put on Dark Side of the Moon and Minstrel in the Gallery and a lot of Duke Ellington and Miles Davis even though hardly any of that goes together outside of my head because, well, I feel like it all goes with the rain. And I wrote and wrote…okay and I also answered a metric f-ton of email and random requests, so it wasn’t quite as productive a work writing day as it could have been but, even so, projects moved forward and I finished a couple of pieces I’ve been needing to get to, so truly a good day all around.

Then this evening after dinner, I curled back up with the not work laptop to work to meander my way through a little not work writing with a glass of wine, still listening to the rain fall. Today was also just the barest hint of the beginning of Spring Training which, once the games start, is basically the baseball equivalent of coffee from the Heart of Gold – almost, but not quite entirely, unlike… – but it does mean that real season is right around the corner. And the new series of Top Gear starts here on Monday and I have new books. So, this is basically just a run by posting of general contentment. *happy sigh*
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I’ll admit that my personality leans a lot more toward the cynical side of things than the bright and sunny. A lot, a lot more. I tend to think of this as being practical rather than anything negative and I suppose that speaks volumes. But I don’t usually think that the Universe is just plain out to get me. Not usually. This week and change however? Yeah, this week made me wonder.

So, last week a big scary wildfire more or less ended at our doorstep. It’s Los Angeles. We have so many wildfires here that we’ve named an entire season for them and I do live tucked up in a canyon one highway turn below Angeles Crest Forest, as do many people across the northern border of dozens of cities the entire breadth of LA County. So, while this was our closest call yet, it does happen from time to time and none of this is anything remotely special. Unpleasant, frightening in the moment, but no more than that and our house and 99% of the others are all still standing so, yay!

It follows then that this week started with the aftermath of that unexpected little adventure. Coming home after two days evacuation, the house reeked of smoke because, hey, the hills that end right across the street were still smoking, and looked like it had been ransacked by two people in a twenty-minute frenzy for anything important and easily portable because, well, that’s pretty much what happened.

I was expecting all of that. Unpleasant, yes, but in a weird I’m really fucking grateful kind of way. That I could have dealt with. Unfortunately my poor cat is quite elderly and the shock of the whole thing plus breathing all of the ick in the air was too much and crashed her system. We had to put her to sleep on Tuesday and I just – we weren’t – that was just too much. We only lost her sister in October and she was fine – for sixteen-year old cat definitions of fine – just before the fire and, wow, unexpected and kind of brutal, really.

So that set the tone for a week filled with seemingly nothing but varying degrees of ick, from the anniversary of the death of a very close friend that’s recent enough to still be a pretty raw wound to just the garden variety work level of ick – too much work on my end, too little on his – to the lingering, prickling kind of sad of going through the daily household routine without my usual calico shadow alternately purring and scolding me.

We’ve all been there before and no single piece of it is anything I just can’t handle. Hell, I can even handle all of it at once, I just really, really, didn’t want to. Especially with all of the petty, little stuff mixed in, my week sounds like some sort of early Hollywood serialized melodrama, one too stupid to even be a campy kind of good, so it’s shown in the earliest reel before most of the audience has filed in. It is to the point that, when my tire blew coming home from the office Friday night on particularly bad for this sort of thing stretch of freeway – Naturally! – once I found enough shoulder to pull over to and landed there I just started laughing. Really, Universe?! Really?

But, it’s Saturday so this should all be over now and next week has simply got to be better, right? Thank Bob for a quiet Saturday brunch with my husband and books. And for sangria, lots and lots of sangria. And probably for more wine later, most likely lots and lots of that too. And for a quiet weekend in where nothing more can get us.* Cheers!

*Editor’s Note: Bourbonneat would very much like the Universe to note that her assertion should in no way, shape or form be taken as a challenge. Bourbonneat is already quite thoroughly impressed with the Universe’s powers of messing with her life and requires no further demonstrations of same, thank you very much.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Be it ever so smoky and weird-moonscape-looking-hill-surrounded, there is no place like home and, as of yesterday evening, we are back in ours. Yay! Toasting this fact last night with a nice glass of wine, I tried not to make the obvious jokes about smoky notes but eventually gave in because, hey, you’ve got to laugh. And if something actually scares you then you’ve got to laugh even harder.

There are many wonderful things about living in Southern California and, sadly, the wildfire danger is certainly one of the ways we pay for all of our benefits. I live close enough to the mountain that I have been in the fire danger zone many times before, but this is the first time we’ve actually been in one of the evacuated communities.

So, um, yeah. Anyway. That happened and in the end it fortunately just amounted to a few days of stress over what thankfully turned out to be a near miss – a very near miss looking at the large burnt areas on the hillside across the street – rather than a tragedy (heartfelt thanks to our local emergency services.)

What fascinates me in the aftermath is that I’ve talked to coworkers, friends and family over the last few days and, to a person, they all ask how you pick what to take with you in such a situation. I understand why – the thought of losing everything and starting over is pretty universally frightening. We started with practical things we would need right away – clothes, medications, cell phones, laptops, chargers and such – and, of course, the cat and her supplies. When we still had time, we grabbed less practical things we hoped never to part with, but we didn’t have a lot of time even though we were chucking things into clothes baskets to carry quickly to the cars.

Interestingly enough though, that evening as I tried to fall asleep in my old room at my parents’ place and my brain spun over everything we left behind, there are only a few decisions I would have made differently, only a few extra things I would have tried to grab. As much as I would never want to start over and replace any of it, especially those much loved things that simply can’t be hauled out quickly in an emergency like all of our books, when it really comes down to it, most of it is just stuff. Useful stuff. Interesting stuff perhaps. Enjoyed stuff. But still just stuff.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I have done battle with countless pots of molten sugar and steaming vats of pickling liquid this past weekend-plus-a-day and emerged victorious!
20121213 Making Marshmallows - online
Ray. Ray? What did you DO, Ray?!

Christmas, I am ready for you!! Of course, this is all somewhat less than impressive with Christmas being, well, basically now and all that. Oh well. Still, prepared is prepared and at one point I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near that this year - I was away for work the first weekend of the month and then ill for the second and several days on either side, so all the holiday cooking was condensed into last weekend only.

Instead of the traditional cookie baking, my husband and I make candy for gifts. Well, candy and pickles – not for consuming together, naturally. Different gifts for different people. It started when he made me a homemade batch of salted caramel (for which I am a mad, mad fiend) for my birthday that disappeared long before the end of the party and when the in-laws starting asking for my pickled carrots.

Now the caramel has become this absolutely sinful brown butter, sea salt caramel of his own devising and our confectionary endeavors have branched out into homemade marshmallow (Aztec hot chocolate – because if the spice must flow, I’d prefer it be into my mouth), cranberry orange bark, cherry pistachio brittle and whatever else makes us say, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to try…’ Also now I pickle onions too. And sometimes fruit. And I’m working on a good recipe for bread and butter pickles. Oh, and this year, bitters as well... Yeah. Project bunnies. Much like their cousin the plot bunny, they have a tendency to multiply when you’re not paying attention.

Anyway, it’s all done and wrapped now. I feel terribly accomplished and the kitchen needs to be destroyed by fire, which is really about par for the course when it comes to playing with molten sugar. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you scour, you’re going to have to do it a few more times…and then a few more times again. Sugar is sneaky like that. Oh well.

Merry Christmas to all out there in LJ-land! I hope your holidays are enjoyable!

As for me, I love the crush of family that is about to come my way with all my heart and should have a very nice time. But when it’s all done, wonderful though it will be, I’m going to need some serious snark to cut all that sweet and heartfelt. I see my December 26th and it is full of fic writing (because this is turning into a monster and still is nowhere near done – yikes!) and some of my favorite non-cloying Christmas movies: The Ref, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight. Maybe even some Die Hard if I’m in the mood for mind numbing but fun.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
The Tattle Tale Calico

Oft upon an hour early, while I sit word-stuck and surly,
Trying desperately to pry the copy from my head,
My fingers eager to be typing, while my brain continues sniping,
Suddenly there comes a griping, from the cat upon the stair.
An obnoxiously loud demand from the cat upon the stair.
Yowls the calico, “Go to bed.”

Quiet, I call, I know the hour, but her mood remains quite sour,
As words finally begin to flow to the page from my head.
But my concentration she is breaking, with the demand she’s loudly making,
My husband she is surely waking, this plaintive cat upon the stair.
This annoying little tattle tale cat upon the stair.
Yowls the calico, “Go to bed.”…

Yes, yes. I totally mixed my Poe references here. But, let’s be honest. Reading this, you know that’s the very least of the apologies I owe the man. ;)

Anyway. My cat. I have a large calico cat with a larger voice and an even larger self-imposed sense of responsibility for the hours the household keeps. She really feels we all ought to be in bed – all including herself – by midnight and begins sighing, huffing, and attempting to lead us to the stairs about that time every night. But she graciously concedes that we are night owls and doesn’t really begin her loudest demanding until about 2.

It’s hysterical…and annoying. Any time someone is still awake at 2 – which in my case is nearly every night – the cat will come to the stairs and begin yowling with increasingly louder volume for us to come up to bed. So clockwork is her behavior, that our friends have come to rely on her for timekeeping when we have game nights. ‘I bid 500 florin on recruitment card.’ Or ‘Any takers on these sheep? I really need some brick.’ And then the cat starts yowling and we all know it’s 2…time to open another bottle of wine, game for another two or three hours and really piss off the cat. ;)

She is especially bad when only I am still awake and trying to write. Then, not only does she come to the stairs to yowl at me, but she periodically runs to the bed to yowl in my husband’s ear, seemingly trying to alert him to the fact that I am still awake and really ought to be asleep. Obnoxious little tattle tale. It’s not like he doesn’t know his wife is an insomniac and the poor man certainly deserves to be able to sleep without a loud furry interruption. Oh well. At least she cares?
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Although most years I love cooking up a storm for Thanksgiving, the nicest part of my parents offering to host this year is readily apparent today. My husband and I do not have mounds and mounds of dishes still left to do in a kitchen hastily put only to barest rights the night before! Oh delicious, lazy Friday off!!

I love Thanksgiving – getting together with family for an elaborate meal with a chance to relax, chat and just enjoy one another’s company. It’s like all of the best parts of Christmas in a warmer, more casual configuration. But I can’t help but feel the holiday would be better if more folks would drop the weird, borderline fetish with an overly rosy revisionist history vision of the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving.

I have been to Plymouth Plantation, site of the Plymouth Colony, around Thanksgiving and while the view out over the sea is stunning in its rough beauty, at this time of year the land itself is stark, inhospitable and really farking cold. I mean icy wind cutting through every layer of coat, sweaters, scarf, hat and gloves you have piled upon your body to forcibly pull up gooseflesh on your extremities so tight is actually hurts cold. You know, not unlike the sort of cold one also gets on the other side of the Atlantic, so it’s not as if Pilgrims couldn’t possibly have known better. Oh, and the late November in which I visited is a full month earlier and warmer than the timeframe in which they landed.

Suffice to say, the whole experience simply served to confirm my feeling that England really cut out the middle man, Douglas Adams style, when the Pilgrims left for the new world. (Now there’s something else Thanksgiving celebrants can all be thankful for this weekend: that many, many subsequent waves of colonists and immigrants also arrived to dilute the Pilgrims’ eventual influence on the character of the country. ;)  ) Not to mention, the Pilgrims were absolutely charming people:

'We’re seeking religious freedom! Nah, just kidding. Had you going there for a bit, didn’t we? We’re seeking our religious freedom. The rest of you weirdos can all go to hell…er…well, I suppose Roger is calling it Rhode Island these days, but you get the general idea. No, seriously. Start walking now or we’ll start shooting.' (Is it weird that in my brain I hear this alternately in the voices of Eddie Izzard and Louis Black? Nah, didn’t think so.)
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Paso Fall Colors 1 - online

Behold, fall colors in California! Granted, yes, per our largely deserved reputation for oddity, these fall colors are in fact in a vineyard, not occurring in more traditional foliage. I took the photo in question last month at one of my favorite vineyards in Paso Robles, far out on the west side. Now, if I had actually remembered to pack my camera for our trip last weekend, I could show you entire fields of harvested grape vines with leaves gone crimson, russet and gold instead of this small beginning. But, still. Fall colors. California. See, we have seasons beyond fire, earthquake, and sunny and 75…though that last one is an awfully nice “season”.

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend in one of my favorite places, but we’re back in town and it’s back to the grind of work now. The wine has all been cataloged and put away and the sum total of the “collection” is, as usual, more than moderately ridiculous. Of course, just recently there was news of a for-sure/possible/maybe/imminent/several years down the line/oh no we’re all doomed!/oh yes, we got better, global wine shortage, so the next time the amount of wine in the house raises eyebrows I’ll just claim that we’re stockpiling in preparation. ;) 

Somehow, I only found out about the Oz and James Big Wine Adventure in California earlier this year. James May, one of my favorite witty, explainers of things, visiting my pet wine region (and the rest of California’s wine country)? How this escaped my attention, I have no idea. But the outcome is that on my last few visits to Paso Robles I’ve had the show fresh in my mind and it is a lot of fun to have the reminder of both how much and how little things have changed. I was also pleased to see that James and Oz visited a few of my favorite vineyards. Eberle is indeed phenomenal and the Anarchy James waxed poetic over at Four Vines (now renamed Cypher, but still run by the same delightfully quirky, incredibly talented guy seen on the show) is an absolutely luscious blend year in and year out – and that vineyard has two newer blends that I like even better! Many of the wineries that were small and inexpensive at the time James and Oz visited the region have grown large or gone boutique – not that that’s a bad thing – and newer wineries have cropped up to fill the small and inexpensive niche. But the overall feel of the region remains the same, quirky, creative and oh so friendly.

Once, trying to explain the difference between California’s more well-known Napa and Sonoma regions and Paso Robles, to a friend, I said that Napa/Sonoma is wine, cheese and trendy tunes, while Paso Robles is wine, street tacos (or something delicious off the winemaker’s grill!) and classic rock. Both are truly lovely, but I’m much more of a Paso girl…and, let me tell you, I would certainly prefer to be back there this week than back at my desk. Pour me another glass of red!
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
To be California lady with a love for British television is, all too often, like being a member of secret club that absolutely baffles you with its persistence in remaining a secret. I mean, it’s not as if this club’s members are trying to keep the secret. Quite the contrary – we’re dying to find someone, preferably a great many someones, who want to chat about our favorite shows.

If I want someone to commiserate with over the latest evilly delicious Grimm cliffhanger, yes, it’s a little on the geeky side for some, but I still have plenty of takers among my circle of friends and around my office. But when I wanted to giggle over the jokes in the Top Gear Africa special? No dice. I had to go online.

Having resources like BBCA and Netflix has made things easier over the years. I mean, back when I was in college (*snerk* and we walked to class uphill…both ways…in the snow…and oh, by the way, you kids get off my lawn ;) ) we only had access to gems like Red Dwarf if friends who studied abroad had the foresight to record shows to share back home. And, for my much older cousins, finding Monty Python’s Flying Circus on TV in those dark, dark days before anyone had a means of recording television (The horror!), required staying up until the wee hours of the morning and keeping the volume on both the television and mad cackling laughter to a minimum in order to avoid waking mom and dad.

So, yes, things are better. But even airing on BBCA on a regular basis is no guarantee that you will know anyone who watches the show. Witness my Top Gear example. I am a happy little geek who moves in happy little geeky circles, so it’s pretty much a given that most people I know have at least heard of Dr. Who and many of them watch it. Sherlock has also caught on with a number of folks I know. But move much beyond that and I at least find myself back in that oddly secret club territory and finding another “member” who lives locally makes for exciting times indeed.

So, when my guy invites an old friend over, and the conversation drifts to books and television. And then that old friend hesitates a moment in a way you just know means he’s going to mention something which, in his experience, is obscure. And he then says “Well there is this show I’ve been catching on YouTube…you’ve probably never heard of it but you might really like it. It’s called Quite Interesting,” his pronunciation of the t in quite, unconsciously crisper than it would have been were he using the same word in any other context. Well, then you will understand my coming to full attention, ears perked like a cat. “You watch QI?!”

And, in the grand scheme of things, if one must be a member of an annoyingly secret club, I guess that’s as nice a password as any.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
…or, rather, one bitters fest coming soon.

Bourbon, a comfy armchair and a sinfully good book, right? Normally I reserve the sinfully good book descriptor for works of fiction, but I do think this one happens to live up to the moniker in a number of different ways.

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas

Bitters 9781580083591_p0_v1_s600

Part cookbook. Part bartenders’ manual. Part thorough history of a quirky subject. This book offers sinfully good recipes for alcohol, traditionally the most wicked of ingredients ;)  and is truly also a sinfully good read…if, you know, you like lovingly detailed histories of minutiae, which I, for one, absolutely do!

The subject matter also pertains somewhat to Bourbon, so clearly it fits my theme. Because Bourbon neat is truly a lovely thing, but Bourbon used properly in an old school cocktail, heavy on the bitters, or simply Bourbon with bitters, can be even better.

We’re handy do-it-yourselfers in this house. He brews beer. We both cook and bake a lot. I make pickles. He makes jam. So naturally, after pouring over this book, making my own bitters was something I had to try. Bitters require nearly a month of various infusion stages and I am only two weeks in on my first two attempts. But even at this proto bitters stage, both smell absolutely divine. The apple cinnamon is already welcome in my Bourbon any time. Ditto the key lime in my Dark and Stormy. Suffice to say, this book is already a winner and, barring anything unforeseen in the next two weeks, well on its way to becoming a much loved and well used kitchen companion as well.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Finally. Writing accomplished! Well, some of it anyway.

Just when I was getting ready to send out a search party for my lost creative spark, train of thought and, indeed, most basic ability to put pen to paper and yield results, who should come trooping back out of the ether but my muse. Guess I don’t have to put those posters up now, eh? Yeah. I’ll save them for the next…er…just in case:



Hair: Highly dependent on point of view
Eye Color: Somewhat inspiring (Hey, I didn’t say she was a great muse.)
Height: Intriguing…ish
Last Seen: Dying of boredom while I tried to make federal copyright law comprehensible to humans. Hmmm, when put that way I suppose the whole disappearance thing is understandable after all.

If seen, please contact right away.

Although there are certain aspects where I can let my imagination out to play a bit, the writing I do for work is far more of the legal/news/technical-ish variety than creative. By necessity of being, well, work, it always comes first even when that means too much, say, policy writing temporarily dulls any lurking creative spark.

But when writing even the most simple of work projects becomes like pulling teeth, I am one miserable lady. I don’t even feel like myself. And that’s where I’ve been for the last few weeks…until, *poof* suddenly this weekend, things just started flowing again. I wrapped up my current projects, got a little blog writing done and even some scribbles that may or may not eventually turn into something more. All in all, an excellent weekend. *sigh* This feels so much better.

Now, how to entice my muse to stick around for a bit longer this time?
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Murphy’s Law, Section 342, Paragraphs 1 through 4: The Writers’ Clauses

(1) The words will come unstuck and begin to flow easily at roughly the same moment you finally decide to give up for the evening and try for some much needed sleep.

(2) The piece you should be writing will become the only piece you need to prod your brain over – suddenly it’s virtually bombarding you with ideas for all of your other pieces.

(3) Setting aside a day to write is the surest way to guarantee a day full of fires that need putting out, unplanned emergency projects and non-stop email requests.

(4) The writing you wish to be doing is seldom the writing that will pay your bills -- unless you are very, very lucky indeed. Oh well, something to aspire to then.

Hey, you can now read it on the internet so, of course, it must be true. *nods* Lately paragraphs two and three in particular have been banes of my existence. Fortunately the happy truth of the matter is that when the words are flowing freely, Murphy and his damned law take a hike, and the reality you create on the page actually matches the ideas taking shape in your head, none of this matters and the world is a very good place indeed. Now. *rubs hands together eagerly* How to get back to that place…
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)

Not a Pipe

Ceci n'est pas une LiveJournal…well, not really anyway.

No, this is more of a necessary means to a desired end. I may or may not ever post beyond this initial introduction. However, apparently an LJ account is required to access some pretty great content. So be it. That is sufficient excuse for me.


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January 2015

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