altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Roth trades information with Rory, and gets the train going toward Chatton. When he finds Brent Cutwood waiting for him aboard the train, he has to keep his promise and allow an interview. Then on arrival at Chatton, the stationmaster tweaks him for failing to report the track defect yet again, even though he had done so at Dermouth.

Installment 25 is here

Cumulative word count: 51385

The Nano is completed, the story is not. I do intend to finish the draft and then go back and do a lot of technical editing on it. This year I have set a goal for completion, and that is the end of March, 2012. I hope to release an e-book version in several formats sometime after that, possibly even with illustrations. A paper edition is a possibility provided that I receive enough expressions of interest. I've heard encouragement from a couple of readers, but the counters on Furrag.com tell me that I have somewhere between 30 and 40 who have followed me through the entire 50K words so far. Now is the time for you to speak up. Do you want to read the entire story, polished and assembled as a finished novella? It's up to you.

Please remember that what you see at Furrag.com right now is not anywhere near a finished text. It is an incomplete first draft that will be enhanced, expanded, and revised before final release. The climax of the story hasn't even been reached at this point. There may be a small cost for the finished book, but as an ebook it will be under $3 US. Paper copies, if I go that far, will inevitably be more expensive. Just how much depends on demand and the publishing route I eventually might find. Note that ebooks would be readable in multiple formats, for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Sony, and computer and tablet reading software. I definitely plan to use Smashwords as a distributor, but might be able to get it onto Amazon or other channels as well. Let me know what you think.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
But much closer. Roth and Hiller continue their discussion of possibilities. Then Hiller takes it up with Rory, who supplies some information about the connection between Tommy Firkin and Jake Sisson.

Next installment is here.

Cumulative word count: 49293 (So close, but another 707 to go)

Much work to be done on the story, but the stage is set for the surprise climax. Will hit 50K tomorrow for sure, still a day early. On the whole, this has been the easiest NaNo I've done so far.

Turned turkey leftovers into turkey tetrazini this evening. I think turkeys exist to justify this dish. Unhealthy, rich, luxurious, and a bit fussy to prepare, but indescribably delicious. And now there's leftover tetrazini...

Realization that details of the story hang on the operation of early telegraph systems at a level with which I had only rudimentary understanding. Fortunately, what I wanted to allow is indeed possible. No need to clutter up the story with technical details, just making sure no one can come along and say "Hey, wait, they couldn't do that because..."

Now comes bed, thank goodness.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Discussing the skunk's arrest and murder charges leads Hiller and Roth to some new ideas that will require further examination.

New installment here.

Cumulative word count: 47303

We had a Moroccan dinner today. At least, somewhat. I had a recipe for orange and olive salad that @WolfWithCoffee passed to me, and it sounded worth trying. Especially since I had all the ingredients at hand with one exception. The dressing called for "argan oil" and I have no idea where to get that. After reading about it on Wikipedia, I don't think I want to get it. The traditional source is, well, unacceptable. Anyway, it said right in the recipe that olive oil was an acceptable substitute so I used that. Decided to bake ksra, a flat bread flavored with anise seed that is a Moroccan tradition. We've made that before, so it was just a matter of pulling out the recipe. And I made a soup that, while not exactly Moroccan, isn't too far from the spirit of North African cooking. It uses cooked, mashed pumpkin (or any other hard squash) with red beans, onions, and curry. All in all, three simple recipes turned into quite a bit of work but it was worth it. All three were delicious, and we will make that orange salad again. The combination of ingredients may sound unlikely, but there's no arguing with the resulting taste.

No snow. The weather service finally retracted the snow forecast this morning, though it's down to 29F or so at the moment.

This week is going to seem very long after one that was only 2 3/4 work days. Guess I'd better get to bed.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
The false Hiller shows up on the train, but Roth has time to get a message telegraphed ahead to Dermouth. The skunk is arrested as he gets off the train, but not on the charges that Roth expected.

New installment here.

Cumulative word count: 45464 (On pace to finish a couple of days early)

Things are starting to fall into place now, though I hope the places aren't quite what the reader may be expecting. ;D

We decided to join the "support small businesses" movement by ignoring the chain stores and their black Friday nonsense to visit some local retailers of interest. Went to a hobby shop in Woodstock to check on some model train materials, but didn't buy yet. Then the local feed store to get dog food for Red, and onward to a one of a kind local restaurant in Crystal Lake called "Around the Clock" for lunch. After that, Joseph's Market (a really great local grocer with excellent produce, just coming back from an 8 month closure due to a roof collapse) where we bought apples and cheese. Stopped at two other hobby shops, or maybe one and an empty storefront. Name still on the door, but completely empty. Checked the web when we got home and found they have moved one town over but are still open.

On the way to Crystal Lake, at something like 12:30, we passed an odd scene in a cornfield along US14. There were photographers and a film or video cameraman standing on the other side of the road snapping away. Police cars, and people walking back and forth across the field. Some small debris and what looked like the remains of a hot air balloon or a big parachute lying about and dangling from trees. I thought it was a plane crash, but there didn't seem to be anough wreckage so we concluded that a hot air balloon must have come down there, perhaps too abruptly. Balloons do pass over that area occasionally, though this was a drizzly, cold rain and not the sort of day you'd choose for ballooning. Only when we got home did we find out that it was indeed a plane wreck. Four people killed in a small plane flying out of a club airport in Indiana. Once again I'm reminded why I have no interest in flying machines. I'll keep my hooves on the ground, unless of course a willing pegasus comes along.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
J.B. Hiller (the ferret Hiller) takes on a disguise in order to ride the train without being recognized, and giving Roth a break from the routine trip.

Next installment here

Cumulative word count: 43121 (with four days left to read 50000)

Weather was decent today, and we got chores done early then headed over to Woodstock where I sat in on a rehearsal of Gary's Kishwaukee Ramblers. Managed to almost make up to Amy's new dog. At least she let me pet her a bit before we left.

Did not have turkey for dinner. ;p

Forecast calls for possible snow on Saturday night into Sunday, though it's hard to believe with things as warm as they are.

We've been seeing rats in the yard coming for the seed thrown from feeders by the birds. While we generally prefer not to interfere with the wildlife, this is unacceptable and especially so since where you see two rats there are probably 20 or more. Gary put out some traps and in broad daylight he caught four, just in the space of an hour or two. We'll set the traps out again overnight, but can't leave them out all the time lest they catch dogs or cats or perhaps even a bird or two.

I'm once again appalled at the news stories from "black Friday" as people fight each other for so-called "bargains" using their fists and in one reported case, a can of pepper-spray. The childish and uninhibited greed represented by this behavior is simply unbelievable. The lack of conscience on the part of retailers who goad people into such actions is unforgivable. I know Target, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy don't care what I think about them, but I won't be shopping there any time soon. Tomorrow we are going to see about giving some business to local independent retailers instead.

Turkified

Nov. 24th, 2011 09:57 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Well, the food all turned out well, and we did the annual trek to Chicago with it which also turned out well enough. Our friends Rob and Dawn joined us at Gary's Mom's house so there were five of us for dinner and I think everyone enjoyed it. That also let us divide up the leftovers so we didn't bring home quite so much.

All of this means I still got no writing done today. I did sit down to try at about 8 pm but promptly fell asleep at the keyboard. Fortunately I was far enough ahead of the pace that I can still make 50K without any great pressure, and in fact may be able to get there before the weekend is over.

We avoid black Friday shopping, but will go out to a rehearsal tomorrow afternoon. Otherwise the weekend is pretty much free time.

Turkeying

Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:36 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Got off work at 3 pm and by 4 I was already elbow deep in dinner prep for tomorrow. This happens every year because we cook most of Thanksgiving dinner here and then haul it into Chicago to Gary's mom's house. Consequently, I prefer to get as much done as possible the night before, including even carving the bird, and chill it all overnight before transport. It is easily rewarmed for serving there. Big (17.5 lb. is big for us anyway) turkey this year because Gary thought his brothers would come to dinner. They aren't doing that though. Big turkeys take longer to cook. I expect this to be in the oven for nearly 5 hours, as opposed to the 3 hours my usual 12 pounder takes. I really hate carving turkey, it's such a messy job. I also have pumpkin pie to bake, but that's fairly simple. Gary baked bread this afternoon and will make cranberry relish and green bean casserole. I still get to make gravy. The stuffing was already created of course.

Gary's mom will do the potatoes and traditional barley, jello salad, and supply the wine.

As you might guess, I don't expect to finish any writing tonight. Fortunately I'm far enough ahead to miss a day. If I do write, it still won't get uploaded until tomorrow. Have a good turkey day everyone.

On Friday, we stay home. No way do I go out in that ridiculous "black Friday" nonsense. And my condolences to anyone who has to work retail in it. It's the stupidest festival of greed ever invented in my opinion, and I don't believe it makes the year end retail figures any better. We'll hear the retailers bellyaching again this year that sales aren't good enough. People are still being cautious and understandably so. Who wants to be beholden to a giant faceless bank that steps on customers just as if they were ants?
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Or something like that. Roth discusses the latest turn of events, first with the train crew and then with the real Hiller. Hiller seems to have a plan but doesn't reveal it.

Today's installment here

Cumulative word count: 40943 (Entering the home stretch!)

And tomorrow is a short work day, though I'll be spending much of the evening cooking I guess. Gloomy wet weather made the trip home unpleasant tonight, but it should improve by tomorrow.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Only this time it happens aboard a moving train.

Next installment is here.

Cumulative word count: 38850 (Regaining the lead I let drop over the weekend)

Only a day and a half to the long weekend, and I think I'm gonna need it by then.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
An unexpected and unexplained flaw in the track outside Westvale gives Roth something more to worry about.

New installment here.

Cumulative word count: 36360 (Lost some ground this weekend, but still ahead of the pace.)

Made black bean dip this afternoon, always yummy and even reasonably healthy. Then made a pot pie from leftover pot roast and vegetables. Not so healthy but certainly tasty. Done with cooking and with writing for the evening. In fact, we have so many leftovers in the fridge now, that I would not have to cook all week. Except that Thursday is Thanksgiving and as always, I'm making the turkey, stuffing, and so forth for Gary's family celebration. I don't mind, that's easy enough. But I'm glad he'll do the driving into Chicago to deliver it. I hate driving in Chicago even when it isn't a big holiday with lots of traffic.

Birds and squirrels have been in a frenzy all weekend, but there's no snow on the forecast. Do they know something that NOAA doesn't? Wouldn't be the first time, that's certain.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Here they are: Swiss chard, the frost resistant greens.

The last greens of summer


The other greens in the background are romaine and fennel, from the market. Those went into the salad. The chard came from our hot frame, but the cover hasn't been shut down yet. Twice they looked like they were frozen into mush, but after a day or so they stood back up. And here's what I made from them, a veggie lasagna.

Veggie lasagna


Easier than the traditional purist dish, this has only a single set of layers: broad egg noodles, a cheese white sauce containing ricotta or cottage cheese and a couple of eggs with pizza herbs mixed in, bake that to set the sauce, then add the veggies (sliced zucchini, steamed chard or raw spinach, sliced mushrooms) and pour pasta sauce over that. Top with shredded mozzarella and some parmesan, drizzle on a little olive oil, and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cheeses start to brown. Let stand a few minutes before service. It was good. Plus there are leftovers for a couple of additional meals.

No Nano installment yet, but it's in progress at least. Probably ready tomorrow morning.

The grumps

Nov. 18th, 2011 09:34 pm
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
I'm having an attack of them. You know, when nothing pleases you and no had better come near you unless they want to be bitten.

Stressful and wasteful day at work, no lunch break at all so no writing got done. I was supposed to go to a house concert with Gary tonight, and I did meet him for dinner as planned but I backed out. I just couldn't face being social and staying up until midnight. I needed to be alone, where I could scream (I haven't) or smash something (I haven't) so I came home. Still in a bad mood, which is very unusual for me. It rarely lasts so long.

In other news, the duck is still laying eggs. She hit number 40, that is 40 days straight of one egg every day, and then we thought she missed a day and started laying again the next day. However, that may not have been the case. Gary found two eggs this morning, number 42 and 43. So we guess she had one hidden under the straw or something and he didn't find it that day. So that's 43 days straight, and heading into the dark of the year. This is one khaki campbell duck who lives up to her breed's reputation as egg layers. I'm going to have to make a sponge cake to use up half a dozen eggs at once, looks like. We have almost two dozen in the fridge and she's laying faster than we can use them.

I got to poking around on Google maps looking for some specific information a couple of days ago and I've kept at it, looking at places where I used to live, etc. They aren't all on street views, but some that are shocked me a bit. The house we lived in from when I was born until I was 9 years old is still there and looks almost the same (though there's some unidentifiable structure in the back yard between house and garage.) The elementary school that my younger brother and I attended though, that was brand new and built the year I started kindergarten, is gone. Demolished. A patch of weeds with a playground and parking lot. You have no idea how old that makes me feel. It was built in 1955 at a cost of $375K and now there's not even a photograph of it left on the internet it seems. The downtown intersection of that city, where the two largest roads crossed, has nothing left that is recognizable. All of it has been demolished and rebuilt to look like every other suburb, with McDonald's and Burger King and strip malls. Eeeeyuck! There used to be a 1500 seat movie theatre there, built in 1942 with a sort of art deco moderne style. A bowling alley with live pin boys instead of robot pinsetters, and a corner drug store with a soda fountain. A variety store in the style of the old Woolworth's, where everything was in little wooden bins and there were ceiling fans. A post office built probably during the depression, with brass bars over the windows. A really old bank building with walls six feet thick and a walk in vault and tellers in real cages. Gone, all gone. Not a trace of it left. I remember it all, but who else does? The abandoned railroad tracks that a friend and I used to walk down on our way to school (I know now that it was a single track siding of the Michigan Central RR, which had already been nearly forgotten when I was a child, eaten up by New York Central which was merged with the Pennsylvania RR which in turn went bankrupt and ended up as part of ConRail. All we knew was that the tracks were coated with rust so no train had been that way in a long time, and we used to walk down the middle between the overgrown saplings and bushes and it was like a tunnel through the foliage. You can still see that straight line on the satellite view, running about five miles and coming to a dead end, as it did, right near the school that isn't there any more. The rails aren't there any more either, but the ghost of both the school and the railroad is clearly visible from the air. One thing that does remain, though, is a broad mainline track of what was once the Detroit, Toledo & Ironton RR. It ran past the school, right next to the playground. There was, of course a tall cyclone fence with barbed wire on top to keep us from getting onto the right of way, but we used to wave to the train crews and they would wave back. It was a busy line serving the Ford Motor Company's River Rouge Plant, and there were always trains. The plant is still there, but I don't know whether it is active or mothballed. The huge switchyard right behind the high school my older brother attended is still there too. Formerly Wabash RR, now operated by Norfolk Southern, it also served the Ford plant. Many of my childhood memories are associated with trains, even seeing live steam locomotives at work on that DT&I line. Hearing steam whistles and later Diesel horns lonely and late at night when I was in bed and the lights were out. They used to scare me and made me imagine huge beasts like dragons fighting or challenging one another in the night. The sound of freights passing a couple of miles from our farm now seem so tame in comparison with what that was like.

Looking at that old neighborhood through Google's bulbous eyes was interesting, but left me with no desire to go back and see it again. There is so little of it left that it hardly seems to be the same place. Like Ray Bradbury's Greentown, Illinois, the town I remember so vividly is gone into the past, beyond reach, populated by ghosts.

No new installment tonight. I'm far enough ahead to skip a night without harm, and I fear what I might do to some poor character in my present mood. Story to resume tomorrow I hope.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
First the newspaper publishes an article that seems critical of railroad safety, and then the train hits a hard bump as it rounds the same curve where the freight derailed three days earlier.

Draft of next installment here.

Cumulative word count: 34386
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Writing time this afternoon aborted by the discovery that the sheep had knocked down part of their fence and were wandering about in the arena and outside the doors. It took me nearly 45 minutes to round the silly critters up and get them into a pen.

Did get 1025 words written after supper, but the next installment is not yet complete. I can't keep my eyes open, so perhaps I'll be able to finish it tomorrow morning as I did with yesterday's piece earlier today. Hint: Westvale's semi-weekly tabloid newspaper gets onto the train incident of Friday, forcing Roth into damage control mode.

Now for some beauty sleep. Well, sleep, anyway.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Cleaned up and posted this morning: Roth and the real Hiller return to Chatton and dine together on Hiller's expense account. Hiller warns Roth to beware of possible sabotage to the rails or equipment.

New story installment here.

Cumulative word count: 32323

And now I have to go to work again. This dumb stuff about earning money just gets in the way. ;p
altivo: Horsie cupcakes (cupcake)
No installment of Rolling Stock tonight. Not quite ready with the next one, maybe in the morning early. I need to sleep.

Work was a zoo for a while tonight. We had a program with the country coroner giving details of some murders a few years back. It bugs me that people are so interested in gory gossip about some criminal madman, yet can't muster enough attention to act in a rational manner on political issues.

It's cold outside. Guess I'll go snuggle in bed with the plush wuffies.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Here's the new adoptee about to be rescued from his shipping box:

Box birth


And after he had a few minutes to decompress, here he is with a couple of his new packmates:

Family shot


I'll get the entire muttley pack together for a candid shot later. The new guy is a Wild Republic Natural Poses wolf (30 in.) and is now the biggest wolf I have, slightly larger than the Cuddlekins guy. I love his huge paws. [Edit: Here's the whole pack in one plushpile.]

And in other action, Roth and Hiller (the real one) arrive in Westvale by bicycle to exchange notes with Sergeant Rufus.

Today's installment here.

Cumulative word count: 30127 (now three days ahead of schedule)
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
No trains on a Sunday? Need to get to Westvale to trade information with the police there, but don't want to let any railroad employees know what you suspect? Why, just rent a bicycle, of course. Roth and Hiller do just that.

Today's installment here.

Cumulative word count: 27984 (Still gaining on the deadline, two days ahead of quota.)

Exceptionally busy day at work even for a Monday. More waiting to be done tomorrow, but I did manage to squeeze out about a thousand words at lunch which helps keep ahead of the deadline and quotas. The statistical analyzer on the NaNo site tells me that "at this rate" I'll finish on November 25. Nice, if I can keep it up.

My plush wolf that I ordered on sale last week has made it to the local post office, according to the tracking information. He should get here tomorrow at last.
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
Heavy winds today made a lot of noise but did no serious damage, thank goodness.

Roth arrives home at his second floor walk up apartment only to find someone unwelcome and unexpected waiting for him. As if that weren't enough, the next morning he learns that the skunk detective was a fake, when the real J. B. Hiller (a ferret) comes knocking on his door.

New installment is here

Cumulative word count: 25846 (Two days ahead of schedule now and past the halfway mark.)
altivo: From a con badge (studious)
The crew finish out their week and head home to rest until Monday. K.C. and Roth discuss the puzzles of the previous day without coming to any conclusions.

New installment here.

Cumulative word count: 23894

Warning: stage is set now, action to follow fast and hard...

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