UFO over desert

(no subject)

The semester starts tomorrow, but I've been so busy there's been very little sense of a break. My time has been filled with the second half of an online genealogy class (offered through FutureLearn, taught by instructors associated with the University of Strathclyde, the first MOOC I ever loved, see more on my genealogy blog), visiting my dad in El Paso, and becoming involved in the PCC STEM Innovation Challenge. My involvement actually started when I met Dr. Hughes, a speaker for the first of the challenge's associated Learning Workshops as we both waited for the doors to the Downtown Campus Library to open, but it looks like I'm going to be doing some volunteer work with them this fall. So, between working at two campuses, working for our shop, working on the STEM project, and trying to fit my writing and genealogy into the cracks, I'm expecting this semester to be super busy, but looking forward to working with students, faculty, and community members in the coming year.

Those of you who aren't following me on Facebook might enjoy following me on Tumblr or Instagram. I tend to share my pictures from Instagram everywhere, so if you're following me on just about any of the social media sights, they'll probably show up. On Facebook I'm one of those people who's likely to post and comment on politics and the state of the world, so if you want to avoid that, try one of the other channels. Some of my pictures on Instagram, and therefor elsewhere, may be associated with the Etsy shop I share with my husband (we sell vintage postcards and photographs, mostly), but I also take random pictures on walks, on trains, or anywhere else I find myself, so there should be a little something for everyone.
UFO over desert

Why LiveJournal? Why?

So, there's this thing that happens when I'm commenting from my PC. I'll get about 3 or 4 words out, then WAM!, suddenly, even though I haven't clicked a thing, or so far as I know hit any key combinations, LiveJournal posts my comment. All 3 or 4 words in my unfinished sentence.

Now, I'm a pretty good typist. Not perfect, but learned how to touch type back when that was a pretty standard high school class. Also, I type faster than many people, but I'm still in a pretty normal range, somewhere between 40-60 wpm, I would guess, with pretty high accuracy. So, it doesn't seem like I'm doing anything that should cause strange behaviors in my browser (Firefox) or in LiveJournal.

I will note that this doesn't happen when I'm using my phone, either. But, of course, that's a completely different interface. Not only that, but my speed is pretty slow when I'm using a touch screen keyboard.

So, if you've noticed these strange, truncated messages from me, that's why. My apologies for any confusion this may have caused you.

Mobile Features

Am I the only one who finds that the mobile LJ app is lacking in a few features we take for granted on a desktop computer? Or, am I just being clueless, and missing them?

First and foremost, imho, is the ability to select a user icon for posts and comments.

ETA: I just posted a reply via clicking a link in an email, and I was given the option to select a user icon. So, maybe the app has been updated. Or, maybe the functionality is being added gradually.


Hello from Me on My Smart Phone

Nearly two years ago, my son Keith gave me a smart phone for my birthday. He pays the monthly bill, too. A few days ago, my phone was stolen. My replacement, supplied by the insurance on the phone and  $150 from Keith, arrived today. For much of the afternoon, I have been reestablishing various accounts. But, I have only just connected the phone to LiveJournal for the first time. So, this is my first hello from my phone.

I have a wonderful son. Thank you, Keith.

the lady or the tiger

Sassafras, A Tale of a Kitty

When my husband and I got together, we knew that we would never have children together. We were both in our mid-40s, plus I have two sons from my first marriage and he has three, so our family was already going to be a large one. We also had between us a rather large assortment of animals, but somehow another pet didn't seem as daunting. So, when someone came into PetsMart carrying a laundry basket with four tiny kittens, we looked and instantly fell in love with one in particular, a little tortie with a color line right down the middle of her face. Sassafras came home with us that afternoon. We called her our daughter.

We weren't really certain how old Sassy, as she soon came to be known, was, so I supplemented her diet with kitten milk, which I fed to her out of a bottle. Her sharp milk teeth made short work of the nipple. We also didn't feel she was ready to face an entire household of dogs and cats, so her first home was the master bathroom, which doubles as a sort of kitty dormitory for newcomers to the household, after ensuring that the middle-aged, orange and white tom cat awaiting neutering in that same space would not be any kind of danger to her. As it turns out, Ginger, the tom, was not only not dangerous, he was so besmitten with her that he allowed her to nurse. Yes, our male cat nursed this tiny kitten and even, we believe, produced milk.

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I will miss her.

P.S. I've disabled comments. An emotional story can be hard to respond to, and I don't want you to feel obligated.
UFO over desert

New Words

Thanks to gillpolack, I learned a new word today: "idiolect."
What does this mean, you ask? (You did! I'm sure I heard you.)
"In linguistics, an idiolect is an individual's distinctive and unique use of language, including speech. This unique usage encompasses vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Idiolect is the variety of language unique to an individual" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiolect).
Which makes me wonder what the linguistic term is for a family's usage. I know my birth family had/has some vocabulary that was rather unusual, at least for the region in which I grew up. I know that many of the more distinctive features of my idiolect are things I "inherited" from my father, who grew up in the Florida panhandle, but are modified by my mother's origins in Ohio.

Alter Egos

So much of my friends feed is filled with people at Sirens in Denver, Colorado. Traveling is not in my budget, so I am not in Denver. Instead, I'm at work, taking a brief break because there's only one student (nope, as soon as I wrote that he checked out, so now there are no students) left in the learning center. Or, at least, none looking for help with reading or writing. The math tutors still have a few students.

Over at writerunboxed there's a post on alter egos.

Like many folks, my childhood alter egos were all about action; they were fearless investigators and explorers, ready to solve mysteries one day, climb mountains or ford raging rivers the next. But, as an adult, I see things a bit differently. I've realized that I wear different personas for different situations.

My unnamed alter ego as a mom is always calm and collected. She always knows what to do and what to say. She's fantastic at getting things done, so there's never a need to panic over impending deadlines or sudden guests. All the linens in her linen closet are carefully layered with lavender flowers and never develop moth holes; to this day I prefer lavender-scented laundry detergent. The original was a mom in a book I read when I was a teen; as a mom, I've never managed to live up to her example, except for brief moments when channeling her helped me to get through a few parenting crises.

Interestingly, I seem to draw on her for my tutoring work, as well. This week is National Tutoring Week (aka International Tutor Appreciation Week), and my supervisor shared the following note with me:

I can hardly believe she's describing me!

Then, there's the alter ego associated with the little shop my husband and I have on Etsy. There, we take turns with various shop tasks, including writing posts and answering "convos" from customers. For that, we try to do a bit of a mind meld and write with a single voice. Not that we're necessarily all that successful at maintaining the same voice, but we do seem to have at least some of our customers guessing at which one of us is responding to their messages.

But, what about my alter ego as a writer?

When it comes to writing, I try to celebrate my creativity. Here's the ultra-short version of my standard writer's bio:

Pamela D. Lloyd was born to a witchy alien fortuneteller and a mad scientist. A sock salesman once tried to buy her in exchange for two suitcases of socks and a realtor later offered an entire house, but her parents, not knowing when to cut their losses, held out for more, only to get stuck with her. It’s no wonder she turned to writing fantasy and science fiction. It was either that, or take over the universe, and the keys to the spaceship had fallen down a rabbit hole.

The details of that bio are amazingly close to reality. (No. Really. My mother claimed the severity of her allergies were because she came from another planet; my dad was an organic chemist and pret-ty darn strange; and various people really did try to buy me when I was still a baby.) It's the breezy, carefree attitude that's the expression of an alter ego.

I wish I had that kind of blast ahead, all engines running, take no prisoners temperment when it comes to writing. Instead, I'm most likely to drag my feet all the way to the keyboard and sit there moping, every word pried from my mind with all the generosity Scrooge showed doling out coins to the Cratchit family before that notable Christmas so delightfully documented by Dickens. To make matters worse, I have a terrible time sending stories off. One motto my children heard many times was, "If you don't ask, the answer is always, 'no.'" But, when it comes to asking if publisher XYZ would like to include one of my stories in a magazine or anthology, I'm terrible at asking. This is especially true when I've scraped up the courage to ask once and the story has been returned. Please, please, don't tell me about how I need to write and submit. The message has been received. Thoroughly. The problem is, it's also been chewed and mangled by my psyche. I'm working on it.

My Facebook alter ego might be said to have multiple personalities. I rarely share personal news there, especially when it's bad. I don't feel comfortable sharing news in that space, in large part because I've got two or three complete strangers on my friends list for every friend I've actually met in person, and the ratio's far worse when it comes to people I know well. So, it sometimes becomes my soapbox for expressing myself politically, and sometimes for sharing stuff I find amusing, interesting, or useful. And, now that I've got a decent camera in my phone (thanks to my wonderful son, Keith), I sometimes even post pictures of food I'm about to eat. Really yummy, made-from-scratch food requiring discipline to stop long enough to take a picture before digging in.

So, who am I, really? Some days, I'm not entirely sure myself. I'm complicated.

ETA: This post was started at work, but completed from home. I don't get that much free time, even on Saturdays. In fact, during the week, I find it difficult to find time to take even the smallest break. Also, I was thrilled to discover that at least a few of the songs by one of my favorite albums are available through the Internet Underground Music Archive(IUMA). I highly recommend that you use the link provided in the Music field to listen to the beautiful and haunting song, "Still My Thoughts."
ETA2: Just in case it's not entirely clear, when I say my alter ego as a mom was always calm and collected, I am absolutely not trying to suggest that my actual parenting style bore any resemblance. I'm sure my kids would be very amused at the very idea. Or, indignant. Their mom, calm and collected?! Nope. Didn't happen. Except when she was. Which happened about as often as a supermoon eclipse.
japanese mushroom plate

A Good Day, with Recipes

Recently, I spent the day with my oldest son. Our visit was centered around food and discussions of creative projects, so it was a really satisfying day.

I'm a vegetarian; my son is not. He's become very interested in finding meals he can serve me, but that also meet his taste and that of his roommate. Our menu: broccoli & tomato quiche in a potato crust, paired with cream of mushroom soup. A bit rich for everyday fare, but wonderful as a treat.

The recipe we used for the potato crust we found at Taste of Home, in their Potato Crust Quiche Recipe. We lined a large, round, deep casserole dish with this. The crust turned out okay, but was not as good as we had hoped. The coursely grated potatos weren't as suited to a crust as mashed potatos might have been, and the crust seemed a bit undersalted. I'll admit, too, that I would have preferred a pastry crust, even though I was willing to experiment.

The quiche filling we put together blended elements from a couple recipes and made a few adjustments of our own. The primary recipes we started from included Broccoli Garlic Quiche from epicurious, and Tomato Quiche from Taste of Home.

Broccoli & Tomato Quiche Filling

  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 cup broccoli florets

  • 1 cup pear tomatos (like cherry in size, but more oblong), cut in half; plus, 2 pear tomatos, sliced (used as garnish)

  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped fine

  • 6 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups half and half

  • 1 1/2 cups sharp white cheddar cheese

  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese; plus more as garnish, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme


Preheat oven to 375°F.Saute the onion in the butter until translucent and golden. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the broccoli, tomatos (reserving the sliced tomatos), salt and pepper, nutmeg, and thyme and continue sauteing for 2-3 more minutes. Take the pan off the heat. In a bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended and a little frothy, then add the half and half. Blend the cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese into the egg mixture. Put about 1/4-1/3 of the vegetable mixture into the crust, then blend the remaining vegetable mixture with the egg mixture and pour this on top. Gently lay the tomato slices on the surface of the filling and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 40 minutes, then check for doneness. Custard needs to be golden brown and set, with only a slight jiggle. Let sit 20 minutes before serving; custard will continue to set as it cools. (We needed to cook ours for an additional 20 minutes, or so, probably due to the depth of the dish we cooked the quiche in.)

The mushroom soup we made was based on the Food Network's Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup. Our budget didn't stretch to wild mushrooms, so we just used 16 ounces of plain white mushrooms; we used dried thyme, instead of fresh; and, we'd managed to miss the need to buy leeks, so we substitued 1 cup chopped onion for the 2 cups of chopped leeks. Oh, and we didn't have any white wine, so we used 1/8 cup of gin.

The quiche and the soup were both out of this world. 
lady with cup

Student Essays and Learning to Lie

A student came into the writing center, distraught over an assignment. The assignment was to write about the most traumatic event of their life and how it had changed them. I suggested that perhaps the teacher would be willing to let the student write an alternate assignment, but the student had already asked, and the instructor had not been willing to do so.

The student showed me the attempted essay. Yes, it was personal and traumatic. It was also choppy and disorganized, not so much stream of consciousness as tiny pools of consciousness scattered randomly across the pages, which fits with what little I know about how people may react to truly traumatic events. One of the hardest aspects of my job is being faced with therapy-grade outpourings, but being constrained to adress only the writing aspects of the story. It can be very difficult to separate content from style, discussion of story from discussion of a personal nature.

I suggested that the student didn't have to tell this story. "But, that's the assignment. That's what we're supposed to do."

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I think I may have created a writer.
tea for brains girl

Editing Writers

As a writing tutor at my local community college, I've learned a tremendous amount about how to help beginning writers discover what they have to say, as well as how to say it clearly. I hope some of that skill has found its way into my own writing and editing process, too.

But, I'm not planning on writing a long post tonight, It's been a big day, it's getting late, and I really should be off the computer and getting ready for tomorrow. So, I'm just going to point you to writerunboxed's recent post Editing, Uhh! What Is It Good For? in which Tom Bentley discusses this process from the perspective of someone who has worked as both an editor and a writer.