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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 6 comments

Achievement Unlocked: Daughter in Law!

Saturday was the big day, and nobody ran off at the last second (although one of the bridesmaids went missing for a while). I ’d have been happier with more of our side of the family there, but The Boy also had a couple friends show up and that made him pretty happy. The wife did a video, a sort of chronological thing of the two of them growing up, then some of them together at the end. It was really nice.

So anyway, here they are…

Dearly Beloved…

As you can see, this was an outdoor affair. In August. On Planet Georgia. Needless to say, we sweated like race horses. This is why I insisted on a winter wedding for us.

A lovely bunch
Daughter Dearest was one of the bridesmaids. She told us she was sure she was going to pass out, because her dress was a bit tight. But she underestimates herself. Not only is she a strong girl, she’s been trained to stand under hot lights (chorale concerts), so she held up without any trouble. She was really pleased with how well her hairdo held up; I guess they used epoxy on it or something.

It was the bride I was worried about. She was swaying for a little while, and I was trying to whisper “bend your knees, bend your knees.” She didn’t hear me, but stayed on her feet anyway. Turned out she put on a little weight (as skinny as she is, a little weight can be a lot of difference) since they got the wedding dress, and it was a little tight on her as well.

Me and the boys
The Boy asked me to be in the wedding, and to be the best man —that was a pleasant shock. I was there with Cousin Splat, Brand X, and the bride’s brother… and Mason. Mason was in a bit of a mood, as he’d spent a long time just before the wedding doing photography poses. He heard “just one more” a few times too many, and by the time of the actual ceremony, he was ready to quit. I ended up carrying and holding him, and he fussed (quietly) until I started indicating people in the crowd and asking him if they were zombies (Traffic Cone zombie, Buckethead zombie, etc.). That got a smile out of him, but after a while he went to sit with the wife. But he came back up and did the thing where the three of them poured different colored sand into a jar. The sand can’t be separated, and so neither can they, is the idea there. Touching, really.

Newlyweds! (sweaty newlyweds)
So, woohoo! We all survived, even if we smelled like a herd of dead water buffaloes by the end of the evening. We slugged down lots of water, and then we got to do some dancing and celebrating. The happy couple is off to Orlando for a few days, and now things can settle back to the normal abnormal that is life at FAR Manor.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3 comments

Guest Post: Loni Flowers, “Witness to My Heart”

Since the writing brain just got back from vacation, about a week late, there isn’t much for me to wibble about this week. Fortunately, my friend Loni Flowers has a new romance novel out, and I invited her to talk about it! So take it away, Loni…

• • •

It’s my first time here at FAR Manor, and I must say, it’s an honor!

Larry was extremely nice and invited me to tell you a little about myself and my new book, Witness to My Heart, that just hit cyberspace yesterday. I tell ya, I’m so stinking excited about it, I can hardly stand to be around myself!!

This will be my third published novel, and I have to say that after a year and half of working on it, I’m actually excited to be finished and on to the next project. I’m still shocked I’ve managed to write three full length novels. I was never a reader growing up. I hated English class, too. If I could reverse the hands of time, I would have tried harder, actually gone to the library and picked out a “good” book, and picked a completely different career path. But since that isn’t possible, I’m thankful for a friend who convinced me to read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (before it was popular).

I know, I know.

You’re probably moaning and groaning about that decision, but say what you will… it opened my eyes and had me obsessed with books… any book, no matter what it is, if it has the ability to engage readers… awesome! From that series I moved on to Harry Potter and learned the true meaning of what “sick days” should be used for when you finally make it to the last book in the series! (Shhhhh don’t tell my boss!) As you can guess, the rest is history. Reading sparked a creative side in me I didn’t know I had and before I knew it, I was writing my first novel at the age of 30… while working a 40 hour professional job, managing 2 kids, 2 dogs and a husband. I still can’t believe I did it.

But enough about how I got started… and let’s get you to the details of Witness to My Heart! This book was a challenge for me. Though it’s a contemporary romance, I mixed elements of suspense and mystery into it. It is a different mood than my other books, but it was so fun to challenge myself.

Here, have a peek at the synopsis:
Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.

Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.

Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.

Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.

Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.
If you’re intrigued, I have an exclusive link (not released to the public yet) that will let you read the first 3 chapters.

Now if you are truly intrigued, be sure to grab a copy today… and if you’re interested in winning a few things, I have a big giveaway going on over on my website, http://www.loniflowers.com/

Good luck, if you enter.

Thank for taking a moment out of your day to read a little about me and my latest obsession. And Larry, thank you so much for having me over!!

• • •

Aha, now I know why we get along so well: I was another one of those people who hated English classes (although the College English class I took as a senior definitely did not suck), and I avoided literature classes like the plague. I was an avid reader, though, but Fantasy and SF were not on the curriculum in those days. Ah well, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood, right?

Maybe you want to go grab a copy of Lori’s new book, right? Here’s some links that might help with that:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Witness-my-Heart-Loni-Flowers-ebook/dp/B00MLN4IFW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407873663&sr=8-3&keywords=loni+flowers

B&N (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/witness-to-my-heart-loni-flowers/1120108466?ean=2940150704220

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/461981

If you want to add it to Goodreads, here’s the book page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056608-witness-to-my-heart

And, you can link up with Lori on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy reading!

Saturday, August 09, 2014 4 comments

Harvest Time

On Planet Georgia, the harvest begins in earnest in August. The mother in law, who was the major garden person around here, departed a couple years ago. Still, the wife attempts to at least put some garden stuff in.

It didn’t help that we ended up with a huge amount of tomato plants this spring. One of the local banks does a customer appreciation day, in which they have a cookout with free hotdogs, and give out those six-pack trays of tomato plants. This year, they arrived close to the end of the day… next thing she knew, the bank people carried three entire flats (12 six-packs each, which meant there were 216 plants) over and dropped them in the back of the van. I took one of the flats to church, where several of the church ladies snapped them up, but the other ones were still there. I didn’t help matters; I wanted some Roma tomatoes to put on the dehydrator, so I bought a six-pack (this was before the “load 'em up” incident at the bank).

In addition, there were melons, a couple rows of corn, a handful of okra plants, and a few other things. It wasn’t as much garden as the mother in law planted, but it was more than enough.

This week, the piper paid us.

I came home from work to find the drainboard completely full of Romas. I got to work Thursday night, and roughly half of them were enough to fill the dehydrator. I tackled the rest today. Now, I have two quart freezer bags full of dehydrated tomatoes. The basil we bought is doing well, the oregano is sprawling all over the place, and I have enough tomatoes to make plenty of sauce.

Prepping for the dehydrator is easy enough. Drop them in boiling water for about 15 seconds, and the peel comes right off. This year, I got smart and added a pot of cold water for a quicker cool-down. Cut them in half, drop them on a dehydrator rack, repeat until the rack is full or until you’re out of tomatoes.

That was just the Romas. The wife dropped off a pretty good load of larger tomatoes, both ripe and green. I had made some noise about wanting to make green tomato salsa again, since the last batch I made didn’t last very long. So last night, I was off to the races… or rather, in the kitchen. Blanch, peel, chop up, add some other stuff like garlic, jalapeƱo, cilantro, onion, vinegar, a dab of sherry, and some “taco” seasoning. Then I dumped the whole mess in the crock pot to simmer overnight.

This morning, I grabbed four pint jars with lids, scooped salsa into them, and screwed the lids down. Despite the lids being used, they sealed. I’m still putting them in the fridge.

But gee, there’s still all these red tomatoes to deal with! I’ve always been curious about gazpacho, so I looked up a recipe. When I took +E.J Hobbs to work, I picked up the stuff we didn’t have around the manor, and came home and got to work on that.

This took a little longer than the 45 minutes the recipe page said, especially with regard to the “take the seeds out” part. I won’t be surprised if a handful of seeds managed to sneak past my diligence. Still, I’m looking forward to trying some of this, come tomorrow’s hot afternoon. If it’s any good, and EJ and I leave any, I’ll take some to work Monday.

The only downside is, I used less than a fourth of the ripe tomatoes to make the gazpacho. And the wife opined that there’s probably as many more tomatoes coming our way next week. She’s already made salsa (much milder than what I like to make), and she thinks she’s getting a rash from eating too many of them, so I need to figure out what to do with this bounty. I suppose I could give them away at work easily enough…

Oh, and lest I forget. You know I like big melons; I’m a guy. Get a load of this (it was a load, all right):

45 pounds. Can’t wait to get my hands on that!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 4 comments

Maintenance Monday

A vacation in Michigan is wonderful, but then there’s the return to the routine and outright misery that is FAR Manor. Nevertheless, I took an extra vacation day yesterday, partly to get a little rest before getting back to work and partly to take care of some things.

Vacation was altogether lovely. We stayed at the Ramada Plaza, at 28th St. and East Beltline, the heart of the retail district and a 10-minute drive from both Other Brother’s place and the place where Dad is now staying. The Plaza has a shallow pool with a high waterslide, and Mason loved the pool. He finally worked up the nerve later in the week to take the waterslide, first with Daughter Dearest and then with me, and then on Friday (our last night) he unlocked the “go it solo” achievement.

The day before we left for Michigan, my phone (iPhone 4) began acting up—powering down and restarting whenever I tried to do anything that involved the display (and that’s why I have no pix to share for now; DD will share soon). I assumed the phone needed to be restored, and worked through it that night with no luck. During the week, I figured out that I could use it for hours if I left it plugged in, which pointed to the battery. Fortunately, iFixit has parts and entire replacement kits (which include necessary tools), along with extensive instructions and videos, and the kit was $25 including shipping. Fighting the Ramada Plaza’s thoroughly crappy hotel wifi, the biggest downside to the place, I managed to place the order and the kit arrived on Monday.

But the mail runs around noon at FAR Manor, so I had the entire morning to change the oil in the Miata. This was something that needed doing a few weeks ago, so it got priority. Turned out I already had enough oil, and just needed a filter. (And an oil drain plug gasket, but we’ll get to that shortly.)

Changing oil is pretty straightforward: put the car up on ramps, loosen the filler cap on top of the motor, the drain plug underneath, and the filter on the side. The top and side can be done by hand, the bottom requires a 19mm wrench. You want a pan to catch the oil, a few rags to wipe up spills… and a new plug gasket. I’d neglected the last part, and ended up with the car spitting a cup of oil on the garage floor when I started it for the leak-check. Off to the parts store for a replacement, which required the van. Since the van needed new wiper blades, no problem. I lost another cup of oil when I loosened the plug, although that was expected. I kept a thumb over the drain hole and put the new gasket on with the other hand. Sloppy, but not difficult.

Then, I figured out what was needed to fix the windshield washers—a Y-connector had come apart and the fluid was going down the rain drain. Since the wife was going that way again anyway, I tagged along to get a replacement.

With the car dealt with, I finally got to the phone surgery. I have a floor lamp with a magnifier, and at my age it’s not an option for doing detailed things like this. To keep tiny screws from escaping to freedom, I did everything inside the shipping box. I was struck by the similarities between the battery swap and the oil change: three screws, a couple of specialty items (ramps vs. plastic pry tool), a little care when reassembling… and each took about the same amount of time. The differences were primarily those of scale and sloppiness.

The insides of an iPhone4,
with the new battery ready to install.
With repairs effected, and vacation over, things can get back to normal. Ouch.


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