ksmith: (Default)

I’m in the midst of a slam dance here. Articles and an interview due over on the Alex Gordon side of the street. Reformatting Contact Imminent in preparation for ebook conversion and proofreading.

Adjusting to the fact that 2016 is almost 1/6 over.

NE Illinois will get a taste of Spring this weekend. Sunny. Highs in the 50s. Then Winter returns because this is the Midwest in March that we’re talking about.

Just finished breakfast. Time to take Gaby to puppy playcare, then settle in and get some work done.


Mirrored from Kristine Smith.


Feb. 2nd, 2015 01:01 pm
ksmith: (snowsuit)

Yes, it did. 14.5 inches officially, according to the recording station nearest me. Turned out to be the fifth largest snowstorm in Chicago history, with an official O’Hare tally of 19.3 inches.

The wind pushed things around and made them pretty uneven. The roof looks like someone did a really messy job of frosting a cake with stiff frosting, thanks to the wind. Meanwhile, 7-8 inches in some parts of my driveway, well over a foot in others. A foot and a half or so up against the garage and of course, at the end of the driveway thanks to the snowplows. Behemoth chewed through it all, bless his 2-stage heart. I just wish he didn’t handle like a bus with flat tires.

After I finished the driveway, I dug out the front steps and the rear sidewalk. Part of the deck. This way, Herself has plenty of room to maneuver. She was the little supervisor through all this.



We are apparently supposed to get a few more inches Tuesday evening, which will be just dandy. Not sure when I will be able to take Gaby for a walk. The park district usually plows the bike trail, but I doubt that it’s a priority at the present time.

Stay safe and warm, if the storm hit you or is headed in your direction. If you avoided this brush with Old Man Winter, well, lucky you.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (utensils)

Busy morning. Took Gaby to playcare. Then it was off to the dentist.

After that, farmers’ market at the place from which I’ll be getting my CSA veggies. It was a very small market–it would fill only a tiny corner of the Sauvie Island market. But they had small freezers of beef and pork, honey, popcorn kernels, eggs, spinach and salad greens. I stocked up on said spinach and greens, and added a small bag of popcorn, pork chops, Italian sausage, and uncured bacon. A dozen eggs.

Of course, I had bought a pound of arugula just the other day. It wasn’t going to make it through the week, so I jammed it into the food processor with 4 cloves of garlic, salt, pepper, half a cup each of grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts and olive oil. Presto pesto.

Arugula pesto lacks the weighty flavor and aroma of basil pesto. I find it brighter–some folks complain that it’s “grassy”–and lighter. The pound of arugula rendered down to about 3 cups of pesto, which is a good amount for breaking down into single/double serving sizes in either tiny containers or ice cube trays. I went with tiny snap-top containers because I wanted to protect the stuff from freezer taste as much as possible.

It’s still cold–upper 30s today–but we’ve had some thawing and rain. Most of the snow is gone, and the sump pump has been working its little heart out. No sign of sprouting greenery yet, and most nights are still below freezing. But maybe, maybe, we’ve turned the corner.

Lunch was a toasted half a whole grain ciabatta roll with smears of homemade hummus and fresh pesto. It was really good. Garlicky, but really good.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (snowflakes)

…like heavy machinery, a clatter like a slow train trundling down the track, but you know it’s not possible because you’re alone. Then you climb a dune and look out over the lake and realize that what you’re hearing are sheets of ice crashing and shattering on the shore.

The lake

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.


Jan. 7th, 2014 12:04 pm
ksmith: (snowsuit)

Yeah, it was cold. Snow blew and drifted and crackled underfoot. The wind bit. The house creaked. No exciting frost quakes, just loss of cable internet for most of Monday. Given what other folks went through–stranded on roadways, in train stations, etc–not going to complain. Well, not much. I did get cranky as the day wore on and the lack of instant news/stock market/publishing gossip got under my skin. I fear I am an addict.

I struggled to assuage the longing by baking brownies. Pondered a wip. Started reading Over Sea Under Stone by Susan Cooper, an older YA series that folks online had been raving about as a classic winter reread. I’m halfway through and have put the rest of the books in the series–5 in all–on hold at the library because yeah, the story is pretty good.

But hey, the warm-up has begun! -3F currently, but the wind has died. Saw a squirrel for the first time since Sunday, gnawing on the fresh suet block. A few hardy birds had gathered throughout the onslaught–the usual crew of jays, cardinals and juncos and even a pigeon or two–but more today, because HEAT WAVE!

I was worried about the car, since the garage is detached/uninsulated/unheated. But air temp in there is routinely 10 degrees warmer than the outdoors no matter what. That meant it was close to 10F in there this morning, which in turn translated to yes, the car started and I was able to get out of the house for the first time in 4 days. That lightened the general mood considerably.

Hope everyone affected by the polar vortex–that is so the name of my next band–is staying warm. I’m looking forward to spring, but there is still so much winter left to live through.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

A week

Jun. 25th, 2013 02:38 pm
ksmith: (kane_toews)

Okay, not quite yet, but it has felt like one. Maybe, two.

MacBook Air has been acquired. His name is “Airy,” because. Lightning fast. Pretty much out of the box, since the Apple Store folks took care of porting over the contents of the MacBook. A few Mail glitches, but other than that, all good.

15 hours battery life is doable if I stay away from internet (surfing okay, but videos not so much), music, and turn down the keyboard backlighting. It is as light, if not lighter than, my 1st gen iPad. I really didn’t want to spend the money now, but I had no choice and as far as the system is concerned, I think I made the right choice. Really liking the quiet and speed of the solid state drive.

Not to be outdone, Kuro-the-Forester decided on Friday that he wanted some attention, too. Noticed weird smells emanating from under the hood after visit to Apple Store–not gas/oil, but lighter chemical smells. No leaks, smoke, drips, red lights on dash. Still, I worried about things like, oh, brake fluid, and made an appointment at the garage. Verdict–torn axle boot. Smell was due to leaking grease hitting the exhaust and burning. Front boots replaced, for an amount not as bad as, say, a head gasket, but still. Kuro is happynowIhope. Now hoping that House doesn’t take it into its pointy little head to make it a three-fer.

Gaby had an infected toe a few weeks ago that required antibiotics and painkillers, so I think she’s good wrt Crisis of the Day for another month or two. I hope.

::fingers crossed::

Lost a small tree during the recent round of t-storms. It needed to come down anyway because it was an accidental tree, not an I-planted-you-here on-purpose, tree. Too close to the back fence and up in the power lines. I’m lucky wires didn’t come down when it fell…well, actually, it bent. Still needs to be cut. I shall add it to the list.

There was a robin in my garage, but I think it’s out now. It had been in there for a while, clattering about the eaves, leaving dropping everywhere. I was concerned that it had built a nest, but I think it was just frazzled by the enclosure and the storms. Hoping, anyway. I will keep an eye out in case it comes back.

Backyard has taken on a primeval aspect thanks to the heat and rain. Really need to cut the grass, but there’s too much standing water.

In other news, BLACKHAWKS!! I love the moment when the guys pass around the Cup, the speculation as to whom the captain will hand it off first. In 2010, Toews handed the Cup off to Marian Hossa, who had tried to win it with so many other teams and come up short. This year, he handed it to Michal Handzus, who played for, iirc, 14 years w/o playing on a championship team. Handzus them passed it to Jamal Mayers, who had played 15 17 years. Mayer then passed it to Michal Rozsival, the last of the old timers. Then Rozsival passed it to Dave Bolland, who scored the winning goal.

Hockey. I think preseason starts in a couple months….

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (snowsuit)

Memorial Day Weekend approaches. Today, it’s sunny, but windy and *cold*. Outlying areas could drop to mid-30s tonight, and folks at the hardware store were talking about a possible freeze even closer to the lake. I hope not–tomatoes and basil are in and they’re not going anywhere. We received some much needed rain over the past few days, about 1.5 inches, but the accompanying wind blew the blooms off a couple of the crabapples. The prairiefire is still hanging in there, but it’s lost about half its flowers. Petals all over the lawn, like pink snow.

In more conservative times (back when we were Zone 5), Memorial Day was the planting weekend around here. Now it’s a few weeks earlier seeing as we’re now Zone 5.5, but this weekend will make that a lie. 60s. Cloudy. 40s/50s at night. I ran the furnace this morning. A few days ago, I was running the A/C. I know–spring in Illinois. But it’s getting a little late for this.

Harvested a handful of mesclun for the dinner salad. One bright spot amid the chill.

Hit the hardware store on the way home. Bought some pink and white petunias in a basket, and a lime hydrangea (pale green flowers that turn pink as they age) for the shady side of the house. Some solar lanterns to hang about the backyard. Gaby had a grooming session–bath and summer clip–and looks very spiff.

I’m taking off Friday. Looking forward to the long weekend, even it stays cloudy.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (teashop)

Been here since yesterday. A long weekend writers retreat with a few other, well, writers. Writing exercises, brainstorming, business talk. More on the exercises in a few days, when I am home and have digested the results. It’s been an interesting process so far, though.

We are staying in a place with kitchenettes in the rooms, so we bought groceries and are doing most of our own cooking. I thought I would miss eating out, but I am finding I don’t. Except we did have high tea at the Drake today because that is one of the things one does when one is in Chicago and has the chance.

The weather has finally, finally been lovely. Coolish because we are near the lake, but sunny and dry. It’s even supposed to warm up as the weekend continues. The long-awaited spring one hears about in song and fable.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.


Apr. 18th, 2013 11:57 am
ksmith: (brollie)
4.6 inches since y'day morning, added to the 2.4 that fell last week

4.6 inches since y’day morning, added to the 2.4 that fell last week

Finally seeing a gap in the rain. Hoping to avoid the winds and thunderbumpage that are supposed to arrive later. It’s calm, currently. Still chilly–it’s the continued chill that is holding off the more active weather.

4.6 inches of rain since yesterday morning. The gauge reads 4.7, but that includes the little bit that fell over the weekend. Not as much trouble in the basement as I feared. But the ground is completely saturated, and I really really hope we get a couple days’ reprieve before anything else takes it into its watery little noggin to fall from the sky.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (brollie)

Vacay day day. IT STOPPED RAINING! Took Gaby for a walk, which consisted of her sniffing and marking and sniffing some more because the ground has released All The Smells thanks to the rain and the thaw. Saturday errands–groceries, etc–will be run today. Soon. In the next few minutes, in fact.

2.3 inches of rain over the last 2-3 days, according to the hummingbird gauge. To my amazement, the ground is taking it up rather quickly. The backyard is still sodden, but the lake is gone. Seems to be gone. Not inclined to walk out there and check lest I get sucked into the mire.

The mesclun is finally popping up in the raised bed, almost two weeks after seeding. Yes, it has been cold, but I thought lettuces liked that. In any case, I will probably plant another row this weekend, keep the crop going.

In web news, spam is showing up in the filter again. So spammers have started registering? I will shorten the comment time, and see if that helps. It’s not a lot of spam–nothing like before. It’s just the principle of the thing. Don’t like giving them a toehold, not even a little one.

In life news…barring global financial meltdown, I will be retiring from the day job in September. Going to give the writing life a good shot. Going to give life in general a better shot.

Something about King’s illness triggered it. Not getting any younger. It’s time.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (gaby1)

Temps in the 30s today. Windy, cloudy, with a few flakes in the air. I spotted dandelion sprout around the honey locust, a ring of spring consisting of inch-high greenery, some of it frost-burned. Nothing on the east side of the yard yet, but that area is still under some snow. They’re calling for 50s by weeks end, which will likely mean 40s near the lake. I’ll take it, for now. So hungry for warmth, I can’t stand it. And greenery. Sick of brown and leafless.

Also spotted deer scat near some of my yew bushes, which look as though they have been chewed. I may need to spread some repellent. Also considering getting rid of the yews. I could replace them with planters that I would fill with something bright during the summer, like begonias. The area doesn’t get much sun, being a northern exposure, so plant varieties are limited and yews are a common fallback. But, they’re boring. So I will think about the planters, maybe calculate how much landscape brick I would need to build them. They would be pretty.

Gaby is still eating just enough and no more. I’ve tried chicken breast, and miss as often as I hit. Today, I tried bacon along with a bit of drippings, and garnered a little interest. She still has some padding around her ribs, so I probably shouldn’t worry yet. And it has been only three weeks since King. And she is still experiencing change, whether it’s trips to daycare or simply rides to the pet store big box. Her regular food had a consistency hiccup with the last lot–meat paste rather than moist burger. That hasn’t helped. I emailed the company to lodge a complaint, and did a search for other brands of duck-based canned food. They’re out there, but online places either want you to buy by the case, or charge so much for shipping that I wind up paying more for that than for the food itself. So, I found a couple of local, new-to-me stores that carry some of the brands. I’ll get hold of a can or two and have her try them. I want to have options in case she shows signs of going off the current brand entirely.

And yes, I know that raw may be an option, but I am reluctant to move Gaby away from duck until I know for sure that she won’t relapse into IBD hell.

No, her behavior hasn’t changed. She barks. She plays, both with me and at daycare. She just isn’t eating much.

She does enjoy her walks. If I take too long to eat breakfast in the morning, I am soon dealing with a head resting on my leg and tail-wagging wiggle butt. Once outside, she sniffs everything, marks the interesting stuff. Tried to give chase to some deer the other day, pulling and twisting the lead. I started fitting her with a harness after that–she has slipped out of a collar before, and if she ever took off after a deer, I doubt I would see her again. There are coyote in them thar woods.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (Default)

…because MONDAY, dammit.

“Wintry mix” to look forward to in the morning. Last March at this time, we had record high temps, but this March at this time, we have “wintry mix.” And tomorrow, I’m getting a needle stuck in my arm because blood draw, which means I have to drive through the “wintry mix.” Which sounds like it should be made of spangly star snowflakes and little ice pellets that bounce right off the road and land safely in a ditch but is in reality made of freezing rain and *splat*, a rain/snow mix that hits your windshield like translucent birdshit.

And now I need to make up my bed because the mattress pad, which was in the dryer at the time when I discovered that cleaning the vent hadn’t helped and the dryer was not really drying anymore, should be dry now.

Monday started on Sunday this week. NOT FAIR.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (snowsuit)

Yukon Gaby

The general Chicago area is supposed to get 1″ to 4″. I’m in a “locally heavier accumulations possible” region. Judging from the way it’s falling, I’m thinking “probable” instead.

I believe this is the storm that’s going to wind up and pitch itself all over the Northeast. You guys take care of yourselves.

Herself did finally deign to come inside, after a final patrol of the backyard. She and King have just lunched. It’s a dog’s life.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (snowsuit)

Looks like we got a couple of inches. Still falling lightly. Could get occasional fallage over the next few days, which means that we will have something that approximates snowpack.

Oh well. This is the Midwest in February. I knew the snowfree state couldn’t last.

I am at the garage, getting Kuro’s ::check engine:: situation sorted out and getting a new side mirror installed (to replace the one that got clipped/broken by a passing jerk last week). The drive wasn’t near as bad as I feared–main roads were just wet, with a little mushy churn at the intersections. After I get out of here, to the grocery store I will hie. Then to home.

King had his monthly check-up on Thursday. Still maintaining.

Pasta of some sort for dinner, I think. It’s a red sauce and meatballs kinda day.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (christmas tree)

Spam babble of the day: Accord stands out as the Coptis groenlandica which will jewelry this paper hearts with the earth.

Over at Lisa Mantchev’s website, Lisa has posted about her experiments with Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookie recipe. Her apotheotic–is that a word/it is now–recipe involves soaking the ginger in bourbon for at least an hour, the result being her Boozy Woozy Timey Wimey cookies. I liked the sound of that, but alas I have no bourbon. I do, however, have dark rum. The ginger has been soaking since yesterday afternoon and the level of the rum has dropped a bit, which implies soakage. I will be baking later in the week, Thursday or Friday. I will post pictures.

King update: you still wouldn’t know he’s sick. He’s bouncy. Eating well. Barking at me when he wants his foods, dammit–I’m never fast enough. Likes to be outside in the cool. At his last checkup, his liver enzyme results came in just a hair above normal. He has a follow-up on Jan. 3 that will include an ultrasound to see how things look. The oncologist told me that it will just tell us where we’ve been, not where we’re going. Yes, I know. But right now, we’re at happy, bouncy, and eating, and that’s all good.

Snow. We haven’t had any yet. It’s been 288 days since measurable snow fall around here, which is a record. However, we are supposed to get hit on Thursday into Friday with anywhere from 1-5 inches. On the other hand, if the snow line twitches, we could wind up with rain instead. I wouldn’t mind a little snow. Snow means clean puppy feet. Rain means mud.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (keanu)

The spam onslaught continues. It’s reached the point that I don’t even bother checking to see if anything legit got snagged in the net. Usually, Akismet will let through the odd piece of spam rather than filter out clean mail, but anything is possible. If you tried to post a comment on my site and find it never showed up, it’s likely gone. Try again.

Not a lick of snow yet this winter. On average, this means that snowfall for the season will be well below average. That’s good for day to day life, but bad for the Lake level, which is already near historic lows. I’m wondering what it means for next year, and whether it’s worth planning a vegetable garden. The blast of heat we had last summer battered the hell out of the tomatoes–I wound up with about a quarter of the usual harvest. Basil sucked. The only thing that did well was the Indestructible Chive, the cockroach of the veggie kingdom.

Kind of a disjointed post, but there’s not much more to report. Pondering changes around the house in the coming year that I can do myself–painting bedrooms, replacing curtain rods, rehabbing the kitchen cupboards. I’ve been gleaning ideas from This Old House, HGTV. Trying to decide which paint colors might work best.

And finally, midweek happiness is poking through the deep freeze and finding stashes of lamb chops and cranberry cake. And finding CONSTANTINE playing on SyFy, and getting to watch Tilda Swinton as Gabriel one more time.

It’s the best film for hair. Swinton’s and Rachel Weisz’s. If I could have just one fourth of Weisz’s hair in place of the dark lint currently stuck atop my head, I would be happy.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (King2)

Kill Bill Vol 2 soundtrack in the background, that slow, dreamy version of “She’s Not There.”

I have doors and windows open, and it’s December 2. Temps hit the 50s yesterday. Then came nighttime rains. It is now off-and-on sunny and edging up on 60F. It won’t last, but I will take the opportunity to air out the house.

But oh hell, it’s December. I hope 2013 doesn’t fly past as quickly as 2012 has.

King appears to be doing well, fingers oh so crossed. He’s peppy, and his appetite is great. He’s moving better thanks to the Meloxicam. He’s also on a new joint supplement called Dasequin. He had been on Glyco-Flex 3 for years, but the oncologist recommended Dasequin and given the struggles King was experiencing with his hips I decided to switch him. Don’t know if it’s helping in addition to the NSAID, but he’s getting up more easily and running a bit more. He has a check-up on Thursday, and I’m hoping his bloodwork results match what I’m seeing.

That said, I know how quickly things can flip from “all’s well” to “oh shit”, so I’m just keeping a watchful eye.

Gaby, meanwhile, is her own Gaby self. The mouse body count continues to rise.

Excavated leftover pot roast from the deep freeze, so a decent dinner will be had without my needing to do much more than warm things up. Time to get some work done.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.


Oct. 23rd, 2012 06:38 pm
ksmith: (brollie)

Getting pounded with spam these last few days. We’re talking hundreds a day, with dozens of new variations turning up in the Akismet net to be added to the filter. Thank ghod for Akismet. I think that without it, I would have had to shut down the blog months ago.

Well over an inch of rain has fallen since Sunday. It has finally stopped for a while. Sun peeked out for a few minutes, which was cause for much rejoicing. Temps will bump up close to 70 or higher the next few days, but of course they will plummet on Friday because I am taking the day off–it’s King’s first doctor visit since starting chemo. If all goes well, errands will follow. The excitement never stops.

Trying to not feel too bummed about missing WFC. Folks are starting to talk about their schedules and such, and that always makes me feel a little down. I did do a decent amount of traveling this year, at least for me. But I would have enjoyed the drive to Toronto, and seeing Julie Czerneda, Michelle Sagara West, and other folks. Oh well. There’s always next year.

The pups just finished their after-dinner shenanigans. I don’t know why, but that’s their chosen time to run around, wrestle, and create mayhem. They’re both petered out now, stretched out on the floor around my chair. I’ll straighten out the living room rugs later.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

ksmith: (brollie)

It’s raining. Gonna rain most all the weekend. We do need it. The Lake is down 14″ to the lowest level since the mid-60s while closer to home–as in, my basement–the sump pump well has been so dry so long that it has become quite the spiderarium. But the lawn has thinned enough in spots that the pups track muddy footprints when they return from bathroom breaks, and chilly&soggy is just my least favorite weather condition ever. Which makes one wonder why in hell it’s my dream to move to the PacNorWet.

All I can say is that mountains trump chilly&soggy. Portland&Seattle trump chilly&soggy.

Weekend point to ponder–am I the only person who has absolutely no issues using both Macs and PCs? I switched from PCs to Macs in the early 00′s in order to avoid infestations, and had no difficulty making the OS transition. Used PCs at the day job, and never felt a speedbump. OK, the backspace keyless MacBook keyboard trips me up every so often. When I return to PC-ville, I lose half a sentence before I remember where I am, but I think that the deletion of the MacBook Backspace key was done for space-saving reasons rather than to accommodate differences in language.

Anyway, I know some people have Definite Views–no need to restate them here. Mine have faded over time. In the interest of economy, I would even buy a PC laptop as a back-up system if I decided to return to Word or write purely in rtf or found some other word processing program that worked seamlessly between Mac and PC. I like working in Scrivener, but I’m not 100% committed to it.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

Cold snap

Oct. 6th, 2012 10:31 am
ksmith: (orange leaf)

On Thursday, daytime temps brushed 80F. Then the cold front moved through, and the bottom fell out. Temps in the 50s, with daytime highs in the 40s over the weekend. Threat of frost along the lake, and hard freeze inland.

That meant that I needed to do something about the tomatoes still on the vine. I hadn’t felt the push to harvest to this point because temps were still reasonable and there weren’t enough reds to do anything with–no batches of marinara or crushed tomatoes this year. But there were a fair number of Black Cherry left, as well as a few largish fruits on each of the Italian plants and the Arkansas Traveler. So last night, I donned a barn coat, dug the snips out of the garage, and undertook the last tomato picking of 2012.

I filled a largish box–18x12x7 inches–with whatever tomatoes looked decent. There were a few reddening bigs, many greenies that may or may not ripen, and a bunch of ripe Black Cherry that may wind up in a batch of scalloped tomatoes even though they’re the Wrong Type for a casserole. Too watery. Maybe if I add more bread crumbs and bake a little longer….

Autumn has descended. Leaves are turning at speed–lots of yellow and gold so far. Half the backyard is covered. My favorite begonias are withered, and the hydrangea are browning. Sparrows and finches are hitting the feeders hard and stripping the last of the seeds from the bolted lettuces and chard.

Guess I need to set up an appointment for the furnace guy to do his annual check.

Mirrored from Kristine Smith.

April 2017

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