Category Archives: Personal

My GOD, I Woke Up Productive

So far today, I have:

  • Cleaned the master bathroom (swept the floor, dusted everything, cleaned the toilet/tub/shower cubicle/sinks, cleaned the mirrors, wiped down all the counters and cabinets, bleached a few places where the J Crew kinda missed with the litter box)
  • Put clean sheets on the bed
  • Washed both duvets
  • Put the Christmas decor (3 storage boxes), a drill, the kneepads, and other items back in the garage
  • Put my Workmate portable stand away so that I could park my car in the garage
  • Cleaned off and dusted the foyer table
  • Put my backpack/laptop bag away in the bedroom closet
  • Shredded the 2015 bills and receipts so that I could start filing this year’s receipts and bills
  • Tossed out two garbage bags full of shredded paper and other garbage from my office
  • Made dinner
  • Vacuumed my office and the upstairs
  • Sewed 2 motifs for the quilt
  • Did more editing on Shifter Woods: Claw
  • Made a list of everything I have to get done tomorrow morning before the freezing rain hits in the afternoon

Frankly, my dear, I’m pooped.

The Gen X Woman’s Romance Hero

Note: the following contains generalizations about romance trends. If you do not fit these generalizations, be content with the fact that you’re a loner, Dottie, a rebel, and you want what you want. Just don’t @ me about it.

I’ve been a good indie author and taking a look at what readers want in their romance heroes, and I’m noticing a definite divide between the generations. Millennials and Gen Z seem to be very big on hot, ruthless heroes who know what they want and take it, much to the delight of their female counterparts. Dark romance, monster romance, bully romance—they adore these subgenres, and the sales of romance writers who work in those subgenres reflect that.

And that’s fine. Romance is all about fantasy, and Millennial and Gen Z readers are dealing with the fact that they don’t have the advantages and rights the generations before them had (not to mention that the world is going to shit) by wanting heroes who are big and gruff, will kill to protect them, happily rail them until they pass out from orgasms, and look damn good in a Henley and a pair of jeans while doing it. They want their stories to feature women being claimed by dangerous, implacable aliens/shifters/monsters/Russian bratva hitmen and swinging from a chandelier in flagrante delicto.

Then there’s my generation. Generation X likes the idea of big, buff romance heroes as well, don’t get me wrong. But we’re also old and tired. A lot of us are in perimenopause or menopause and are more likely to reach for a cast iron skillet than swoon if a man tries to order us around. We like our heroes gorgeous and protective, yeah, but we also want them to know when to back off and let us do shit, and how to do things like clean the house/take care of the kids/do the food shopping without us having to hold their hand through the process.

And that’s kind of a challenge for a Gen X romance writer. Do I write stories that only appeal to my generation, or do I write stories that appeal to readers in their forties and younger? If I write both, do I risk pissing off one set of readers who were expecting hot young bully wizards and got a cinnamon roll hero in his fifties? I’ve already gotten horrified reviews from someone who read my solitary contemporary romance and then read the SF romance that indirectly inspired it (they are … very different in tone and subject matter. Let’s leave it at that).

I don’t have an answer to this, nor do I think that there is one (at least, not one that I would enjoy implementing. Remember, I have problems coloring inside the lines). But it’s one of the things that’s been on my mind lately.

Is It Executive Dysfunction or Do I Have Too Much to Do?

I decided that in 2023 I was going to give myself the weekends off unless I was on deadline and had to deliver a certain date. The goal was that having the weekends to relax and unwind would help my writing.

Yeah, not so much. Yesterday was occupied with taking down the Christmas tree and all the decorations, shopping for the lighted winter garland on the mantelpiece so that JJ has more light at night, doing the endless amounts of laundry caused by His Nibs not making it to the litter box, and doing some work on the quilt, topped off with an impromptu visit to our favorite Mexican restaurant. At 10 PM I was literally in the middle of sewing a quilt square when my body abruptly said, “Yeah, no, you’re going to bed.”

Which I did, only I read until midnight. And woke up at 2 AM, then at 4 AM when I realized the smoke alarm in the bedroom was peeping and I could hear it through my earplugs. Since I’m sound sensitive I was having problems going back to sleep after that so I got up, had a bagel, fed the cats, then took a couple of Benadryl in the hopes that powerful antihistamines would knock my sensitive ass out.

Which they did. Until noon (also, the alarm stopped peeping around 5 AM. Go figure). Talk about screwing up your day. My plan for the day had been:

  1. Take down the outside Christmas lights and put everything in the garage
  2. Fix two loose fence posts in the back yard
  3. Make some blueberry pomegranate ice cream
  4. Do a test run of my Pizza Chelsea bun recipe
  5. Do more laundry
  6. Vacuum the living room
  7. Pick up some 9 volt batteries
  8. Finish Motifs Five and Six for Column Two of the quilt and sew both together

But it’s colder than I like out there and I’m retaining water weight from last night’s indulgence at our favorite Mexican restaurant (I cannot eat tomato anything these days without swelling up like the Michelin Man). The fruit for the ice cream needs to be sugared down, the dough for the Chelsea buns needs to be mixed, kneaded, and left to rise, I haven’t vacuumed the living room yet, and I don’t wanna put on a bra and go get 9 volt batteries. About the only thing I’ve achieved so far is finishing Motif Five.

So I’m sitting here feeling fat and pissed off at myself, which I’m sure is entertaining as hell for you, sorry. People keep telling me that I get so much done and they wish they had my energy, and I keep telling them I’m three goblins in a trench coat pretending to be a competent adult so don’t be fooled.

In any case I’m gonna try to fight this feeling by walking for fifteen minutes around the house, then get stuck in on the bun dough, then sugar the fruit while that’s rising. The weather will be warmer tomorrow so I’ll do all the outdoor chores then, and I may send Ramón to the store for the batteries (we need to replace them in all the smoke alarms anyway).

So how’s your Sunday?

And So This Is Post-Christmas…

Due to a bug I picked up on Christmas Eve we didn’t make a holiday meal or go to my editor’s for Christmas dinner like we usually do. My sinuses are currently draining like you wouldn’t believe and I’m feeling moderately better so I think I’m going to cook up the turkey breast in an hour or so and make our festive meal (also I need leftover turkey so that I can make some more Holiday Leftovers Chelsea Buns for Ramón, who adores them. Gotta admit, I like them, too).

But today kicks off the post-Christmas period where I don’t have to worry about any more cleaning, decorating, or (once this evening is done) preparation of holiday feasts. Which means I can concentrate on what I want to do.

Yes, that means writing—I still need to get Shifter Woods: Claw finished and the Esposito County Shifters omnibus edition put together. But it also means tackling some long-neglected craft projects that have been languishing in my office closet for years, mainly quilts (at right are two baby quilts I made for a coworker back in 2005, which means that their recipients must be about 18 or so by now). As of an hour ago I finished a baby quilt for my new nephew R—said quilt is currently chugging through the washing machine to get rid of all the pencil marks. I have a twin-size quilt top done for my niece J and since I don’t have a longarm sewing machine I’ll have to hand quilt that one. There’s a wall hanging that has been pieced and now needs to be quilted, and I have another baby blanket in the closet that’s halfway quilted so I may throw that on the machine next.

For me, any sort of craft work is part of my writing process—when my hands are busy my mind gets to work on current writing projects and I work through plot issues, characterization, or even come up with totally new stories to keep myself entertained while I sew/crochet/knit/make jewelry/etc. I haven’t been able to quilt for a number of years now due to a project that was clogging up the pipeline. Now that it’s been finished and sent off to its owner it’s like a dam has broken and I have all this creative energy swirling around inside me, ready to be used.

Which is freaking awesome as you can guess. I fully plan on taking this energy back to the writing desk and hammering out the rest of the Paladins of Crystal and Olympic Cove series in 2023, and then getting to work on more Hidden Empire and Two Thrones novels. And with any luck I should finish some very pretty quilts, afghans, socks, and jewelry along the way.

So, I have some news…

Those of you who follow me on social media will already know about this but on April 20th I received a Total Knee Replacement for ShitKnee. I kept this quiet until after the surgery because, well, I was nervous and I didn’t want to make anyone else nervous. I’m giving that way.

But it was all surprisingly … well, easy isn’t the right word, especially seeing as I threw up in recovery, then twice in my room from the opioids in the anesthesia. Let’s call it routine. Ramón got me to the hospital at 6 AM, we were shown to a pre-op room where I got gowned and bonneted up and they got my IV started. I was pleasantly surprised when my surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the internist who would be monitoring my recovery, and the charge nurse all stopped in to say hello and answer any questions I had.

I then handed my glasses over to Ramón and they wheeled me off to the OR (which was way more brightly lit than any OR on a medical TV show) and I sat up while they gave me an epidural block. The procedure now is to give a spinal block and a couple of locals in the knee in addition to the general anesthesia, all of which help greatly with pain mitigation. I laid back down, blinked, and the next thing I knew I was in a hallway and my mouth felt like the Sahara.

A nurse came along and gave me a cup of ice chips, which I slowly sucked on until my stomach decided that it was not having with that and promptly regurgitated a gush of fluid that felt way more voluminous than a handful of ice chips would have produced. One nurse said, “Oops, there she goes,” so they took me back to the pre-op room and got me cleaned up, bless them. A little while after that I was transferred to my own room.

And holy crap but hospitals have improved since my last knee surgery 38 years ago. I had a private room with a bit of a view, a nice big bathroom that was easy to hobble into, and a pair of awesome nurses named Gail and Abe who took splendid care of me. My thigh muscle felt a bit crampy from the tourniquet used during the surgery and the muscles along the back of my knee were burning from being manually straightened on the operating table, but the pain meds kept everything down to a dull roar.

Unfortunately I threw up two more times, but this time they had emesis bags nearby and I was able to hurl into those (Gail said that she was impressed I was able to hold it in until she could get me a bag. After I stopped throwing up I explained that I didn’t like making unnecessary work for people). After they gave me Zofran in my IV and my stomach calmed down I got a nice chicken sandwich for dinner and all the water, ginger ale, and jello I fancied, along with a PT session and an OT session. The PT walked in during my second hurling and he told me later that he felt so sorry for me because I looked like I was throwing up my toenails.

The next day was spent having a bagel for breakfast, walking the length of a hallway and back to my room, and learning how to use the ice machine I would be taking home with me. This is a genius little dingus that is essentially a modified cooler with a pump in the lid that pumps ice water (or in my case water that has been chilled by the addition of frozen water bottles) through a hose to a bubbled pad that you can velcro around your knee or other joints. This kind of cold compression therapy reduces blood flow, nerve activity, swelling, and inflammation in the joint, and helps a lot with pain. I had the pad wrapped around my surgical dressing and ACE bandage while I was in my hospital bed, and the nurses would disconnect me when I needed to pee.

By that afternoon my early morning bloodwork had come back all clear, I’d dressed myself and gotten ready to go, and my surgeon blessed my departure. Ramón drove me home and poured me into the guest room bed, where I was supposed to spend two weeks recovering. That being said, I was well ahead on the curve due to my pre-hab exercises (the hospital therapist was surprised that I could lift my leg without assistance and shocked that I’d walked the length of the hallway the day after surgery). When I couldn’t get comfortable Saturday night I decided to very carefully climb the stairs to our bedroom, where I’ve been sleeping every since. I now set up a routine where I sleep up there and spend the day downstairs so I’m only going up and down stairs once a day. I use the guest room for resting, napping, doing my home PT exercises, and reading when Ramón wants to watch anime.

As for the last ten days, I’ve spent them relaxing and letting my knee heal but getting in enough activity to encourage said healing and stop the joint from developing any adhesions or other issues. My surgical dressing is now off and the incision looks extremely good and should heal beautifully as long as I keep it clean and tend to it. I still have a fair amount of bruising around the knee and down the leg, but that’s to be expected, what with the ends of two bones being carefully cut off and replaced with titanium bits.

More importantly, I’ve had two outpatient PT sessions so far at the therapy place connected to my surgeon’s offices and they’ve been extremely pleased with my progress so far. My surgeon was a little concerned about me straightening out the knee and keeping it straight, but I have this hard foam cushion with a U cut out of it that I insert my heel into when I’m lying down and let gravity pull my knee straight. Yes, it’s unpleasant as it sounds, but it works.

I was even kind of naughty this morning. Technically I’m not supposed to drive for at least two weeks and preferably six weeks, but that’s mainly to make sure that 1) you’re not driving with opioid painkillers in your system (I haven’t had any since 4/24) and 2) you can bend your knee adequately and put enough pressure on the brake and gas pedal to operate the car. Well, Ramón was still asleep and we were out of wet cat food for the J Crew, so I went out to the car to see if I could get in and work the pedals without pain. When I found out that I could, I drove to the pet food store and brought back a week’s worth of food. Ramón just grinned and shook his head when I told him about it later on. Mind you, that one little trip wiped me out for the day so I’m not going to be doing the food shopping any time soon, but it’s nice to know that if I do have to drive, I can.

So that’s where I’ve been for the last two weeks. I have to say, I am so happy I got this done. I can already feel the difference in the knee, and once it’s fully rehabilitated I’m going to be more mobile than I’ve been for 38 years. After that, look out.

Hoo, boy…

This is going to be one Christmas that I will be very glad to have over and done with.

A little over a week ago Ramón started complaining of increasing mouth pain, to the point where I was searching his gums with a flashlight and improvised tongue depressor to see if he had a canker sore. I didn’t see anything, but ran out anyway to get maximum strength Orajel because surely that would work.

It didn’t. And the pain got worse, to the point last Tuesday night where it was throbbing and he couldn’t sleep. I did the only thing I could do and promised that I would get up at Oh Dark Thirty, call the dentist, and see if I could get him an emergency appointment.

Which I did, only to find out that one dentist was on vacation and the other was home with his sick wife. But since the staff was there they said I could bring Ramón in and get him X-rayed by the hygienist, which would at least give them an idea if something was wrong.

So I woke Ramón up, poured him into the car, took him to the dentist, and waited outside while he went in for the X-rays. Around a half hour later he came out with the news that he had an abscess under his right rear molar (the films had been sent electronically to the dentist who wasn’t on vacation, and blessings be on that man for being willing to check X-rays while he was taking care of his wife) and needed a root canal by a specialist because his roots were “weird.” He also had a scrip for amoxicillin which was called in to our local Walgreens.

All this was happening on December 22, mind you. Three days before Christmas. Whee…

Luckily the dentist’s office gave us the number of a specialist, and I called as soon as we got home and scored a root canal appointment for the morning of December 27. But that meant that Ramón would have to get through five days on nothing but antibiotics and OTC painkillers because nobody is handing out opioid pain meds these days. (Not to mention that getting him to take a single ibuprofen has always been a challenge because he doesn’t like painkillers of any kind, even the OTC ones, but I digress.)

At this point I knew Christmas dinner at my editor’s house was a no-go. There was no way he’d be able to sit for long enough or eat anything that required chewing, and he’d be too miserable to enjoy it anyway. So I ran out and got a slew of sugar-free puddings, jellos, and yogurts, put the Christmas Eve dinner I had planned on hold, and we hunkered down to wait out the weekend.

Except that I had heard nothing from Walgreens about the phoned-in ABX scrip. When I headed over there to check on the status, I learned that their pharmacy was closed because there was no one available to work it. The clerk at the front register said that a pharmacist from another store would be there by 2:30 PM, but I couldn’t risk it. I called the dental office again and asked them to call in the scrip to the Walmart where Ramón gets his meds, explaining the situation. The office manager quickly agreed and we had the antibiotics by 3:30 PM.

You would think this would be quite enough disasters for one holiday, but you would be wrong. This was the point where my left hip flexor, which had been bothering me for a week or so, decided to flare up like a bitch and cause a full-fledged sciatica attack. So while Ramón was peering blearily at his work monitor in between lie-downs where he could hold an ice pack on his jaw and wait for the ibuprofen and ABX to kick in, I was hobbling around the house on my cane cursing my stupid legs, the stupid chair which had caused this problem, and the fact that we had a two-story house where the master bedroom was on the second floor. I spent Wednesday through Friday night sleeping in the guest room because there was simply no way I could make it upstairs, and let me tell you that I have been spoiled rotten by our Purple mattress.

Christmas finally arrived, but frankly I don’t remember a lot about it apart from the exchange of gifts, after which both of us staggered off to our separate beds and tried to get some sleep in between ibu doses. By Sunday, however, the antibiotics were finally starting to do their job on Ramón’s abscess, and me not climbing stairs multiple times a day and staying off the Torture Chair had caused my thigh to calm down.

By the time Monday morning rolled around, both of us were feeling at least semi-human again and after two hours at the specialist Ramón came out with a freshly root canal-ed and packed molar and instructions to return in two weeks to complete the procedure. I called our dentist to make an appointment for the crown that would be needed on that molar (all I can say is, thank God Ramón opted for an HSA and has been tossing some money into it every two weeks because that’s going to cover most of our out-of-pocket costs for all of this), then had the brilliant idea to break out the shiatsu massage pillow that I’d received for Christmas and try it on my thigh.

As I remarked later on Twitter, it felt like angels with warm hands massaging my thigh, and I still don’t care how dirty that sounds. Thanks to that wondrous little pillow I was able to walk fairly well without the cane by Tuesday, which meant I could make our delayed Christmas Eve dinner (it was that or we had to put the turkey breast in the freezer), including the miniature mince pies that Ramón had been craving. Granted, a lot of prep work was done sitting down, but I’m still impressed with myself that I put together a full holiday meal without requiring a handful of ibuprofen or a bottle of tequila.

And now it is Wednesday, I made word quota today, we have a buttload of turkey and fixings in the fridge, and I’ll be making Paul Hollywood’s Leftovers Chelsea Buns on Friday. Of all the Christmases we’ve had together, this genuinely isn’t the worst (that honor is held by Christmas 2010 when our plane to Heathrow got diverted to Paris due to a major snowstorm in the UK and we had Quite the Adventure™ getting back to England).

But I’m definitely hoping that 2022 is an improvement. Because damn, we need one.

Well, this blows

I’m trying to get the house in some kind of order before my sister gets here at the end of the month. Since it needs a LOT of in-depth cleaning and ShitKnee prevents me from doing a lot of that before I’m forced to sit down, I’ve got an every-other-day schedule where I focus on a room and get it clean (writing during rest breaks), then take the next day off and dedicate it purely to writing (and yes, Ramón is helping — he cleaned the library over the weekend — but he also has a day job calling on his time whereas my boss is a bitch but also lets me have time off to clean).

Yesterday, I cleaned our downstairs bathroom. This included moving everything on surfaces out of the room, vacuuming and washing the walls, vacuuming every flat surface in the room (remember, we have five cats so there is hair EVERYWHERE), vacuuming the extractor fan cover and light fixture, dusting all the picture frames and washing the glass, washing the window and mirror, vacuuming the floor, washing all flat surfaces, scrubbing the sink/sink cabinet/toilet/shower enclosure, and washing the floor. With breaks, it took about five hours. I figured I’d be a little tired today, but it was a day off so that was fine.

Today, I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. Just getting my muscles to function at all makes me want to cry. I can’t even get my fingers to work right — I dropped the cap from my pop bottle, then had a hell of time getting it screwed back on the bottle. All I want to do is crawl back into bed, but I’ve got word quota to meet. This getting older thing is absolute bullshit, people.

As for the bathroom, there was litter on the floor this morning (because of course there was). I swept it up and dumped it back in the litter box. The rest of it looks pretty nice, though, so I’ve got that going for me.

Okay, writing — today I’m working on the outline of The Crimson and the Black so that I can start plowing through that at speed, and I’d really like to get Shifter Woods: Growl done and out by the end of the month (it’s halfway done). Also, if you’d like to read my new alternate history mystery A Most Mysterious Murder (aka Edgar Allan Poe and Lewis Carroll team up to fight crime!), it’s available on all platforms as well as print.

Sunday Thoughts

On March 13, 2020, I was sitting in a Starbucks off of 121 in the Colony with two friends from my writing group. We met there on Mondays and Fridays to write for a couple of hours (and to get out of the house for a bit).

But that Friday was different. The place was almost empty, as it was becoming clear that the COVID pandemic had reached the US, and cases were popping up in Texas. When I went to the counter to get my drink, the barista confessed that she was terrified of getting it–she couldn’t take time off if she got sick.

When the three of us finished our writing session, we decided that it would be the last time we met at the ‘Bucks until things had improved. At the time I genuinely thought it would maybe be a couple of months at most. I mean, we lived in the United States–the country that came down like a hammer on swine flu and SARS. The CDC had a plan for a pandemic, right? They would be able to get everyone to work together and starve COVID of new victims, no problem.

It’s now one year later, and I haven’t seen either of my friends in person since that day (our writing group started Zoom meetings a few weeks afterwards). In the last year, the universe outside our house has dwindled to five stores, our doctor’s and dentist’s offices, and the vet. We started wearing masks immediately because I had access to a good fitted Fu mask pattern and a shitload of fabric in my quilting stash (wound up making masks for a lot of people until commercial mask production got off the ground). We started washing/sterilizing anything that came in the house from a store, and changed clothes/showered after we got home (I was already a regular handwasher).

We managed to avoid COVID, mainly due to the above actions combined with the facts that we don’t have kids and we both worked from home. Unfortunately, our friends and family weren’t so lucky. Four family members caught it, and we just found out that Ramón’s best friend and his wife caught it in January of this year. Nobody we know in our immediate circle died from it, however, which is a huge blessing.

Finally the vaccines started to become available. As soon as I found out that our county would be offering COVID vaccinations for people in tier 1b (which included us–it’s the first time being fat and having two endocrine disorders worked in my favor), I signed us up. Ramón had his first Moderna vax shot on 3/4/21 while I got my first Pfizer shot on 3/11/21. By mid-April we should both be fully protected. We keep talking about what we want to do after that. Ramón wants to start doing a biweekly date night where we try places we’ve never been to before. First stop will be our favorite Tex Mex restaurant, but after that I’m eyeing some of the Koreatown spots in Carrollton, followed by various Asian restaurants here in Plano.

Me, I want to travel. New Orleans, Cancun, Chicago this summer, maybe even a cruise this winter if it’s safe enough. I want to go on a road trip so badly I can taste it. I daydream about driving to Las Vegas again and enjoying the amazing scenery in New Mexico.

But what I want to do more than anything is just be around people. Sit and people watch, go shopping in a mall, eat in a restaurant–just be around other human beings and settle that primate genetic demand that wants to know where the hell my troop is. I think it may be why I’m having such a hard time writing this year––I’m burned out with being in the house all the time and I need something, anything different. I’m honestly not that much of an extrovert to begin with, but I do enjoy being around people and picking up on the energy of a crowd. I miss that badly, more than I’ve wanted to admit.

By 4/18, both Ramón and I will be fully vaccinated. We’ll still take all necessary precautions when we go out because we know what the vaccine does is make sure we won’t get seriously ill or require hospitalization if we catch COVID. The last thing I want to do right now is be asymptomatic with COVID and pass it on to some poor schmo who isn’t vaccinated. But by God, we will be doing something that week to celebrate. He’s suggested we rent a convertible and go on a day-long ride somewhere. I like that.

So, about that weather in Texas…

First off, we’re okay. I’m a veteran of blizzards so we did a humongous food stock-up for all house residents, we never lost power (we’re three blocks away from a police station and a corner ER so I’m assuming we’re on an essential grid), I shut off the sprinkler system and winterized all the outside taps so they came through without a hitch, and none of the inside pipes burst (although we did have a near miss with the hot water tap upstairs, of all things––luckily Ramón caught it and we left it on stream until the ice clog dissolved. Since that tap is NOT on an outside wall I’m a little confused about what was going on there, but whatever).

The worst thing that happened was spending five days nervous about the possibility of losing power and having a pipe burst, and the fact that our pool vacuum hoses became brittle due to the cold and had to be replaced. Considering how many people I know lost power, or have to replace burst pipes, or wound up with some kind of major residential problem, I will take temporary anxiety and buying new vacuum hoses any day.

Also, I must stress that the fact we came through without any real problems is because we never lost power. If we had, all of the trickling taps in the world wouldn’t have stopped the pipes from freezing due to the extremely cold temperatures. The ironic thing is, the picture in this post shows how much snow we got. Maybe six inches in total? But it wasn’t the snow that wrecked Texas so badly––it was the temperature. Houses down here are simply not set up to handle days of temps below freezing, much less temps that go down to single digits.

On the plus side, I have now ordered a combo tool that will let me unlock the water meter box and shut off the water, so if this ever happens again and we do lose power, we’ll fill up every available jug/tub/bucket/2 liter bottle we have with water, then shut off the sumbitch and drain the pipes. Especially since the Railroad Commission, may the fleas of a thousand camels infest their groin hair, isn’t going to force power companies to winterize their equipment, which would have stopped much of this from happening.

Stores down here are still recovering, but we’re also still eating out of the stock-up I did on 2/10 so we’re good. Ramón picked up some extras on Monday, and I figure I’ll hit the store and the butcher’s tomorrow and do a proper stock-up for the weekend. The stress from the storm cut into my writing because it’s kind of hard to focus on a story when you’re waiting for the power to go out, but the nice weather this week has helped with that. I mean, I spent Tuesday writing on the patio––go figure.


As you may know, dear reader, I’m deep in the weeds of what is now known as perimenopause, that hilarious period of a woman’s life where she essentially goes through a second round of puberty, only this time various systems shut down instead of turn on. The amount of hormonal hijinks, however, are the same, and the effects of being on a hormonal rollercoaster can include brain fog, tiredness, bloating, hot flashes, night sweats, and a whole other passel of fascinating experiences (and yes, I am being as sarcastic as I can at the moment).

Now, I started getting hot flashes a couple of years ago, and they got to the point where I was getting them three times an hour or so. Imagine walking from a cool house into an absolutely sweltering day, plus you’ve just eaten ghost pepper chili. That is a fairly close description of what a hot flash is like. They also made me nauseous as hell, and since I hate throwing up I did some research and found out that OTC progesterone cream would help.

Lo, it did, and for the last two years I haven’t been bothered with hot flashes. But 2020 had an extra little rotten cherry to put on the shitpile of this year, and it was the return of the hot flashes. The progesterone cream wasn’t stopping them anymore, so I did some more research and came up with black cohosh. It is a herb native to North America that behaves much like estrogen in some women’s bodies and can help reduce or eliminate hot flashes (DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor and am not dispensing medical advice, I’m simply relaying what I’ve learned and what works for me. Do your own research if you want to consider taking this, and speak with your physician before you start a new supplement).

Seeing as I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in about two weeks due to waking up at least twice a night feeling like I was on fire, I got up today and figured what the hell, I’d try the damned stuff and see if it worked.

But first, I had to take the Great Orange Lump in for his shots, then take him home, then go to the store and actually buy some black cohosh along with some other stuff (pro tip–you can usually find black cohosh in the vitamin aisle near the women’s vitamins and supplements), then stagger home, eat a belated breakfast, and take my new best friend (my life, you know you want it).

Then I went back to bed because, yeah, I needed it. Ramón pretty much patted me on the head as I staggered towards the bedroom and told me to have a nice nap, and 3/5ths of the J Crew joined me in bed.

People, I had the loveliest four-hour nap with NO HOT FLASHES. I even dreamed, and woke not wanting to kill people for the first time in two weeks. Once again, I refer you to the disclaimer above, but for me this stuff works.