I think I’ve uncovered my real motivation for wanting to write a book – I want to play with the cool software that was developed for people who are writing books.

Not kidding, either!

However, I am definitely working on the book itself too – otherwise it is impossible to justify the software that I’m looking at. Not that it’s expensive, just … why spend that money if you’re not using it?

And the book thing is definitely fun, and it’s definitely eye-opening. I can see why people say that writing is the process of discovering more about yourself.

So far I think I’m up to 6 pages. What’s that, 1/50th of the book done? :)

I still don’t have a plot. It’s still just a couple scenes with a couple characters.

One thing I’ve found is that the pictures I have in my head are much much harder to put into words than I thought they’d be. I suppose this is why I am a photographer not a writer!

Actually, I am not very surprised that the scenes are hard to adequately reproduce in words. I’ve always had difficulty putting words to images in my head. I’m what I describe as a “visual thinker”. I don’t know if this has an official meaning by some official person somewhere. If so I probably mean something different. I just mean that concepts and ideas tend to be shapes and colors, and things that I see as a picture in my head. When I try to explain these things – even something as simple as “this water bowl goes under that specific tree over there” – I have a hard time.

It’s easier for me if it’s something I’ve read or talked a lot about already. Or something that I never had a picture in my mind for. I guess in that case it’s always been words.

But when it’s a picture in my head, I always have this frustrating feeling that I wish I could send the picture in my head instead of trying to translate it into words.

You wouldn’t think it would be so difficult to describe which tree I’m talking about, after all.

When it comes to things having to do with characters and events, something that I am conceiving in my mind for the purpose of translating into words…it’s definitely a challenge.

A fun one, one that I’ll hopefully learn from, and I have hopes that the process will be rewarding.

We shall see…

I think I might write a book. I don’t usually have this urge, but I do have a curiosity about it. I just wonder what it would take to write a 200-300 page novel, and whether I have it in me. It would be tough to manage if I have no ideas, so hopefully I’ll come up with something. Mostly, though, I am curious about the process.

Curious what it is like to organize it. Curious whether it makes sense to write bits here and there. Curious how you’d keep track of the details. Curious if I’d be able to finish.

I’m probably going about this in a weird way. I have an opening scene in my mind, but absolutely no idea what I’d want to happen in the book. What’s the point of it, where’s the plot? No idea.

But since I am not going to try to get it published, or even let anyone else read it, I suppose it doesn’t matter. I can write a book full of scenes I enjoy imagining, and leave it at that.

It will give me something for my mind to work on during my bike commutes, or in slow times at work.

Not sure I have the free time to attempt this, but then again, does it matter if it takes years? The trick is to keep at it. I’m not sure my curiosity about the process will last long enough.

So far I have about 2.5 pages written. 1/100 of the way through!

I was writing to a friend tonight and I found myself typing something I didn’t realize I was going to type. Typing something I didn’t actually mean to type.

I was talking about job things, and about my only alternative dream, and I found myself typing, “but I don’t know if I’d feel like I was making a difference doing that either.” What I’d meant to say was “but I don’t know if I’d like it as more than a hobby.”

Whoops.

Weird typo, isn’t it?

What’s funny is that I started with this “clackity noise” posting as an experiment, as practice, as … I don’t know, exactly. But it was largely because of things Merlin Mann says in the Back to Work podcast, and part of what he says (when he quotes others, whose names I’m not remembering off the top of my head) is that we learn about ourselves through writing.

It’s funny, because writing usually feels like a very conscious thing that we do. We decide what we want to say and how we want to say, and we say it. But sometimes we might write something different from what we thought we were going to, and that’s where writing becomes a means of discovering things about ourselves.

That’s what happened tonight, I suppose. It isn’t exactly a surprise, that I’d want to feel like I was making a difference, it just surprised me that it was lurking in such a way that it came out when I thought I was writing something else altogether.

Gives me something to think about.

Oh, Jake.

When I adopted Jake, I wasn’t considering much about his own needs, his own personality. I wanted a companion for Tristan, and I was interested in a “special needs” cat…a special need on the easier side of the scale, it is true, but for much of the public something as simple as a kinked tail (like Tempest has) or wariness of strangers (like Tristan has)…anything that makes them not perfect makes them less likely to be adopted.

So, easy “special need” or no, it would make a difference.

When I saw Jake come up on a website that published information about deaf animals around the country, I contacted the rescue right away. With so many animals needing homes, it’s hard to know how to choose one. So my criteria: young (for Tristan’s sake) and special need (for my sake) and local (for convenience) made the choice for me.

I brought him home, and he was best friends with Tristan right away. They love to play together, wrestling, chasing, co-playing with some of the toys, or just curling up together. It’s been a lot rougher going with Tempest, though slowly (almost 2 years later) things are getting a bit better.

Jake has been a huge challenge in other ways. His personality is giant, his curiosity endless. He is athletic and nimble and has a drive to get as high as possible, to climb everything possible. He gets into cabinets and closets, he gets into everything.

I’m constantly Jake-proofing more and more areas. I have to be careful about anything I put on the counters. I sneak into the kitchen to prepare my breakfast and lunch for the next day because if Jake is awake and knows I’m in there he’ll try to steal some of my cereal.

He has broken so many bowls and plates and glasses and pots (with plants in them!) that I call him the smashtivist.

He broke another plate tonight. My fault, I’d left it on the counter.

He is a trip. He loves to climb on my bike like it’s a jungle gym. He has incredible balance, it always amazes me. He jumps on my back and uses me as a launch pad to higher places. My fault, I encouraged this at one point, not imagining the day when I’d be cleaning the litter box or getting something from the fridge and have him jump onto my back.

He has a purr like a little motor, and when he gets on top of the fridge while I’m cooking (something he’s *slowly* learning is preferred, though sometimes he hangs out in the sink instead…keeping him out of there completely can be accomplished only by shutting him in the bathroom), he half rolls over to try to entice me to scratch his chin.

Everything he does, he does with unbridled enthusiasm and focus. It’s my habit to give them treats when I leave for work in the morning. I use hard treats, and break them into small pieces, which I “hide” throughout the condo. The cats all know where “their” spots are to search for the treats. Tristan purrs like mad the whole time. Jake pounces on his treats, as if they’re about to run away from him. Of course this belief of his is justified, as his pounces often send the treats flying. I keep hoping that someday I’ll figure out how to get video of this behavior of his!

Jake has ended up as the star of my three cat household, stealing a lot of attention from the others. It makes me laugh to think about that, since I didn’t give him or his individual personality that much thought when I adopted him. He fit certain criteria that I had in mind. And the most important one – that he be a good buddy to Tristan – he fulfilled from the first second they met. It still makes me smile to remember the way Jake went straight to the patio door to look out over the patio, and Tristan shadowed him, uncertain but curious. They sat next to each other, identical postures, but one black and one white, and they have been buddies ever since.

All the rest…well, it’s obvious to me that Jake’s deafness is the easiest part of his personality to handle. It makes me laugh. I thought his deafness was his “special need”, I thought his deafness would make him hard to adopt. It turns out that his special need was for someone who could be patient. Someone who would be exasperated while she cleaned up the latest thing he broke, but who would mostly be concerned with making sure he didn’t cut his food (again) on the shards of his latest disaster.

Shards can be swept and vacuumed, plates can be replaced. His life is precious, yet we all know that plenty of people would have dumped this precious challenging cat at a shelter because they just wouldn’t have wanted to deal.

I had to be at work at 4am this morning, which meant getting up at 2, getting on the road at 3. I am not a fan of waking up that early, but boy am I a fan of being on the road at 3am!

It’s funny because my coworkers often will express concern when they realize that I plan on biking in even on the days when I have to be in super early like that. I guess they think it’s more dangerous because it’s dark.

Or maybe they think it’s more dangerous because I’m a woman traveling through this mean mad world when it’s dark.

But the reality is that most everyone is asleep. There is almost no traffic, which makes for a very stress-free commute. The world is quiet. And if there are lurking predators waiting for a lone female, vulnerable in the night…well, I don’t see them lurking in the bike lane. And even if they were lurking in the bike lane, I’m more than capable of changing lanes to avoid them.

As for it being dark, I’ve got a lot of lumens in all directions. I bet I’m more visible to drivers when it’s dark out than I am when it’s bright sunlight!

So today was a good day. In by 4am, out at noon.

I stopped by the bike shop on the way home. After spending a couple years frustrated with one bike shop, I met a mechanic for a different bike shop last November while participating in a bike light giveaway run by a local advocacy group. I decided to give his bike shop a try, and I’m so glad I did.

I have been very happy with my new bike shop. They’re more on the way home from work, though still a couple miles out of the way. There is almost no turnover in mechanics, and they are very much on the same page as me when it comes to my biking. At the other place, they never really seemed to get the needs of the commuter.

At the new place, there’s one mechanic in particular, Ricky, who is amazing. He loves bikes, and really cares about making sure my bike is running great. He also has a magic hand when it comes to adjusting brakes. I make it a point to go to the shop on the days I know he’ll be there.

I needed new rear brake pads, and the front adjusted, and I needed to order a new rear wheel. Bike shops in the winter are so much fun – every customer treated like royalty. In the summer they make you feel like you need to beg to get on the waiting list. The new place is better, and willing to work with commuters, but they’re still busy so there’s only so much they can do. The winter is a completely different story.

It was a great feeling to leave and have brakes working so well. Of all the different aspects of the bike to be princess and the pea about, I’ve discovered that it’s brakes for me.

I was talking to the guard this afternoon at the building I work at. It’s become pretty common for us to have a conversation as I’m on my way out the door. She’s a very interesting person. Very strong, and sure of herself, but open minded and interested in other people’s perspectives too.

Today I learned that she’d supported herself for 20 years with a business doing hair, and that only relatively recently with the economy as bad as it is did she have to get a job “outside”, as she called it. She has the kind of confidence that I’d always assumed came from years on the job, but now I think it comes from years of being her own boss.

Her hair business is still up and running, it just doesn’t bring in the income it used to. Fancy hair is something that many people cut out of their budgets.

But she’s still doing well enough with the hair business that she only has to work as a guard four days per week. Technically it is full time, so she gets benefits, but she doesn’t need to work the full 40 hours, so she doesn’t. Our conversation this evening was sparked based on that.

Today’s society is so strange, really. Many of us make more than our parents made, but we can do less with that money. I don’t just mean because of inflation, either. These days people have certain expectations, things they will spend money on without thinking twice, and which they call necessities, but which even 40 years ago would have been absurd luxuries.

Cars. I know people who have 3 cars for two people. I know others who get new cars every few years because they get “bored” with what they have. The amount of money that goes into this is astonishing.

And then there are the electronics. Growing up, I think we had two TVs in that entire 18 years. These days it seems like people are getting new TVs ever couple of years. I’ve never been into TV, and so I don’t have one. I used to laugh because when people find out that I don’t have one, they often offer me one. If I’d accepted all of these TVs I’d have about a hundred.

But most people don’t have just one TV! It’s one for each kid, one for each room. The only place you don’t see TVs is in the bathroom.

And then, holy smokes, the cost of the cable or the fios or the satellite or whatever it is that people use to get the gazillion channels! The guard, who uses an antenna to get the “free” channels…like we used to when I was a kid, said her friend reportedly pays $170/month for whatever tv channel stuff she gets.

I find it absurd to think about how much I pay for my cell phone plan, but I pay it anyway. It’s become something that feels necessary, yet I know it’s really really not necessary at all. My phone has gone mad in the past couple weeks, with what are often called ghost touches. In other words, if I unlock my phone’s screen, it selects things on it’s own. If I fight it to, for instance, check my email, as soon as the email program comes up it will select random emails, scroll through them, etc. It’s 99% unusable.

I’ll be replacing it, once I decide what I want to do, but for the past two weeks? I might as well be walking around with a fancy paperweight that tells time. And it’s been okay. The smartphone is a choice, not a necessity.

And the truth is that much of what we spend money on without thinking – the new cars, the tv, the cable, the phones – they are choices we make. They are not necessities.

It’s sobering to acknowledge that if we’re in the rat race, it’s because we’ve chosen to participate. It’s helpful to be honest with ourselves about the choices we’ve made, and the ones we’re faced with, so that whatever we decide is our priority when it comes to our time and our money and our lives, we’re deciding consciously. We’re not just buying the new car, the new tv, the expensive million-and-one-tv-channels and the smartphone because “that’s what you do”. Nope, if we’re buying all that stuff, if we’re spending our money on *that*, it’s because that’s what we have chosen to do.

It’s empowering to realize all the ways we make choices, and even more empowering to realize that we often have a lot more options than we might think.

In programming we have a term that we use, called “the happy path”. This refers to testing the programs we write, with the happy path being the most common and most obvious “path” through the application. In our daily lives, and in society, there are similar well-trod paths, and there are a lot of expectations surrounding these paths. However, I don’t think it’s truly a happy path for most of us. Not when we’re walking that path *only* because it’s the one that everyone else has walked, and the one that people expect us to walk.

I have Enchilada Burgers in the oven.

I love cookbooks. I have a lot of them. More than I can reasonably use, but I justify it by rarely using the same recipe twice, and by periodically donating the ones I’m not using (and have come to believe I will never use) to the sanctuary for one of their fund-raisers.

One thing I tend to do is stick with one cookbook for a while. Each author has their own style, their own go-to ingredients, and I find it’s all just a little easier when I’m hanging out with one author’s recipes for a while.

Lately it’s been The Best Veggie Burgers on the Planet.

I started with this cookbook largely because I wasn’t a burger maker. In fact, I typically would avoid anything that required it to be formed into patties. This aversion came about after a few recipes that didn’t work out too well – I just didn’t trust my patty-making abilities.

So an entire cookbook dedicated to patties was a bit of a stretch. But it sounded *so* good! Who would have thought there could be so much variety in veggie burgers?! I’ve made things like 3 bean chilli bugers, coconut rum burgers, sweet potato chipotle burger, log cabin burger, noochy burger, curried split pea burger, and tonight it’s the enchilada burger.

There are so many more recipes I want to try! I will be with this cookbook for a while longer, I can tell. I mean, who could resist trying a ravioli burger or a pizza burger or ethiopian berbere burgers?

There are also recipes for buns and even a bagel recipe. Bread is another thing I have little confidence in, and bagels are something I’d never thought to try before.

All I can say is that everything turns out the way it is supposed to, and I’ve enjoyed everything and loved most of it.

Definitely a successful cookbook for me.

One thing I’ve found is that I really like cookbooks that are specialized like this. An entire cookbook just for cupcakes? Yes please! I liked that one so well that I also got the cookie cookbook and most recently the pie cookbook by the same authors who did the cupcake cookbook. Cupcakes were another thing I had never really made before getting Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World. And pies? I made my first apple pie just a couple weeks ago – the first time as an adult making a pie crust. That sounds so weird when I say it – pie crust, how could I not have made a pie crust in the past 20 years?

I have a cookbook that is all waffles, and it reminds me of the burger cookbook in a way. I haven’t tried it yet, but there are dinner waffles and lunch waffles and your more typical breakfast waffles. It fascinates me! I mean, pizza waffles! A friend’s reaction was, essentially, that if she wanted pizza she’d just have pizza. heh. I can understand that, but…I’ll be trying the pizza waffles at some point, you can bet on it.

I hear rumors that there is a cookbook in the works that will be all sandwiches. I’m looking forward to that one too. I don’t think I’d have been as excited prior to getting my feet wet with the burger cookbook, but then I wasn’t much of a typical lunch person prior to the bike commuting. Even after I started the bike commuting, lunches were leftovers from dinners I’d made. That still works for me, no doubt, but burgers make great bring-with food when you’re bike commuting. Sandwiches likely will work really well too.

But you know what I want? A salad cookbook. Or, okay, not cookbook, but assembly book?

I need to eat more green leafies, it’s always something of a challenge for me, something I always feel I need to work on, and that’s partially why I’d love a recipe book dedicated to salads. Mine tend to be really basic. Greens, maybe a bell pepper, a tomato or cucumber, whatever I have. And dressing, which sometimes is just olive oil and balsamic vinegar splashed over everything.

It’s good, but I know that a recipe book dedicated to salads would be an eye-opener for me in the same way the cupcake and burger and pie cookbooks were. And yes, most regular cookbooks have salads in them, but there’s just something about those specialty cookbooks.

It sort of cracks me up to remember that I didn’t cook really at all until I went vegan. I’d gotten exactly one cookbook in my entire life up until then. I hadn’t really cooked anything even from that on my own, though my mom and I had fun doing some of the recipes. Recipes From the Vegetarian Goddess was the name of it. It’s since been re-released as something like Cooking Through The Seasons, and with a completely different cover. (I like my old version better.) I love the way she describes the recipes, very earth magick-y. I don’t use that cookbook much these days, but I still remember the day I bought that book, my first cookbook.

I was living in Arizona, in Tucson, finishing up my second BS degree – this one in computer science. I had gone up to Phoenix to visit an old college friend, and between hitting less traffic than expected and my friend having to work a few minutes late, I had about 30 minutes to kill. I did my typical – went to a nearby bookstore. I love bookstores.

I hadn’t been to that particular one before, so in wandering around getting oriented, I found myself in the cookbook section. That’s a section I beeline toward these days, but back then…it was the first time I’d ever actually looked at books in that section. I saw with pleasure that there was a whole section on vegetarian cookbooks, and the Vegetarian Goddess’ cover jumped out at me. Flipping through it, feeling foolish that I was in my mid-20s and still didn’t do more in the kitchen than boil noodles and use jarred sauce, I was captivated by the descriptions of the recipes.

Poor college student or no, I bought that book.

My mom couldn’t have been more surprised when I showed her! But she made sure we picked out a recipe and made it that very weekend. It quickly became a well-used book, and that’s when my interest in cooking, and in cookbooks, began.

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