morning, schmorning

Back to the NaBloPoMo prompts today! This one is kind of lame, but hey…you get what you pay for!

Prompt for Monday, November 9:

What is the first thing you do every single day (I mean, after you hit the snooze button)? When did that step in your routine begin?

My alarm clock, usually, is our dog Junior:
"Mahm? You in there?"

“Mahm? You in there?”

He starts whining just about the time it starts getting light outside.  He doesn’t have a snooze function per se, but sometimes I can quiet him down for a few precious minutes by petting him, which I usually do while picking up my phone and squinting to see what ungodly time it is.

So I suppose technically the very first thing I do most mornings is pet the dog, which certainly isn’t a terrible way to start the day.

Dog-petting, pants-putting-on and stumbling to the bathroom aside, the first actual functional thing I do every day is either make breakfast or walk the dog.

If it’s my turn to walk the dog, that has to happen before anything else because the poor little thing has been holding it for like 12 hours and I feel horrible making him wait any longer than that.  Back before I lived with my husband I was the ONLY dog walker, so walkies always happened before breakfast no matter what.

If it’s not my turn to walk the dog, I’ll go downstairs and start breakfast.  I’ve always been a breakfast person, even when it was just cereal and milk as a kid.  I am mystified by people who can skip breakfast and still manage to function.  I think they might actually secretly be aliens, in fact.  It’s the only reasonable explanation.

Breakfast at our house is usually eggs, bacon or sausage of some description, some veggies, and tea.  Sometimes I go through phases of having steel-cut oats for breakfast (I make them savory, with cheese and black pepper and maybe an egg on top), but my husband is of the opinion that any meal that does not include meat is not actually a meal (and further, that eggs do not count as an adequate meat replacement no matter WHAT literally the rest of the world except maybe people who are allergic to eggs say), so even when I have oatmeal I end up cooking him eggs and meat anyway.

tactical error

Last night on the way home from Carnage we stopped at the Long Trail Brewery for dinner and drinks with friends.  I really like Long Trail’s pumpkin ale, which is one of their specialties this time of year, but when I tried to order one the waitress informed me they were out.  Sadface.  Then she mentioned that they did have plenty of the Imperial Pumpkin and asked if I wanted to try that instead.  It sounded good to me so I said sure, and off she went to get me one.

It’s worth mentioning here that “Imperial”, when it comes to American-made beers at least, usually means that the alcohol content is higher than normal beer – generally somewhere between 8-12%, which is double what normal beer usually runs.

Long story short, I ended up drinking two glasses of the Imperial Pumpkin, plus about half a pint of my husband’s hard cider, by the time all was said and done. WHEEE!  By the time we were ready to leave I had decided that I really needed a growler of the Imperial Pumpkin to take home.  We bought the growler plus a bottle of a fancy stout that my husband wanted to try, and then headed home.

When I got home, I started reading the printed info on the back of the growler bottle at home, I noticed that it said it should be consumed within 72 hours of bottling…and within 24 hours of opening.

A growler, for the record, is 64 ounces. 64 ounces of beer is a LOT. I was definitely thinking this bottle of beer was going to last me the better part of a week, not A DAY. There’s no way I can drink it all tonight, certainly…especially given that I have to work tomorrow.  I’m just going to have to hope that it keeps ok for another couple days.

Moral of the story: don’t go beer shopping when you’re already drunk.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Rhubarb Swank (@ealachan) on

I’m on a mountain.

I’m way up on a mountain today, playing cards at a gaming convention. Wheee!

No snow, but plenty of wind!

No snow, but plenty of wind!

The last few years we’ve come up here there has already been snow on the ground but it has been unseasonably warm this past week so this is the brownest we’ve ever seen Killington.

Sorry, I know this post is lame but I wanted to keep up with NaBloPoMo and knew I wouldnt be anywhere near a computer until late tonight.

Also, how cool is it that I’m on top of a mountain in Vermont and can still post this to the internet from my phone?! Technology, man.

pretty sure I just secured my spot on the Guaranteed To Be Abducted list

Prompt for Nov 6th: What was your biggest fear as a child? Do you still have it today? If it went away, when did your feelings changes?

We had this set of Time-Life books called “Mysteries of the Unknown” when I was a kid.

I think they were actually something that I ordered off an infomercial at one point and then my parents were stuck paying for it.  I did that…uhh…more than once when I was a kid.  *shifty look*

Anyway.  These books were actually really interesting, at least to seven or eight year old me.  There was one about Mystic Places, like the Bermuda Triangle and Stongehenge.  There was one about psychic powers, ESP, astral projection and the like – that one was my favorite.  There was one about mythological monsters, one about mind over matter, etc.  There were a whole bunch of them (although I just looked the set up and there were 33 total but we definitely only had like six or eight so apparently my parents wised up and got the subscription cancelled sooner rather than later.  Bummer.  I had no idea I was missing out so much!), including one about aliens and UFOs, which fucking PETRIFIED me…

…but of course I read it…

…and was promptly reduced to a total mess who couldn’t sleep without the light on for months (because aliens can only get you when it’s dark, duh…).  It got to the point where I actually had to hide that book on myself because even seeing it on the bookshelf when I was going for one of the other ones would freak me out.  If the book was out of sight, I could stop thinking aliens were coming to get me and maaaaaybe sleep at night.

At least, until the afternoon my parents put Close Encounters of the Third Kind on the T.V. and then both fell asleep.  I was probably 9 or 10 at the time.  I was so engrossed in the story (because really, it IS a good movie) that I couldn’t really make myself turn it off once I realized they were asleep even though it was scaring me.  That was good for another few months of needing to sleep with a light on right there.

So, as you can see, I already had an excellent base of alien phobia built up over the course of several years by the time the movie Fire In The Sky came out and my mom talked me into watching it with her.  And then…you guessed it…fell asleep.

If you’ve seen Fire In The Sky, you have a pretty good idea of why this was An Issue for me.  If you haven’t, well, take my word for it, it’s FUCKING DISTURBING.  To make matters worse, they made a huge deal about it being based on a true story.  I was probably 14 when I watched it and I was pretty into horror movies at the time – stuff like Poltergeist, The Omen, Friday the 13th – if it was creepy and bloody, my friend Christina and I were ALL ABOUT it.  So it’s not like I was just an all-around wimp about creepy stuff – it really was just alien stuff that truly bothered me.  Fire In The Sky, in particular, is a movie that I still can’t even think about without getting the willies even 20+ years later.  Even looking it up on Wikipedia so I could link you to it just made my brain weasels go into overdrive for a few minutes.  Ugh!

I’m not really sure quite when I started getting over the alien phobia.  It was still pretty strong circa 2002 when Signs came out because I flat-out refused to go see it with a couple different groups of friends even though they said it was really good and assured me that there was very little actual alien content.  Some time after that it started to slowly ease up, though.  I still get kind of creeped out at the idea of human-like aliens, particularly the ones with the big heads and almond-shaped black eyes, but I don’t have a panic attack every time I see a weird light in the sky like I used to and I don’t (generally) have to sleep with the light on anymore.

The thing is, I believe.  I believe even more today than I did as a kid that there has to be SOME kind of other intelligent life zooming around the Universe.  It feels incredibly arrogant to think otherwise.  And not only to I believe, but I find the idea truly fascinating.

So long as no one tries to beam me up.
You hear that, aliens?  I AM NOT VOLUNTEERING!

an important lesson

Prompt for Thursday Nov 5th: What is the most important lesson you learned as a child, and who taught it to you?

The most important lesson I learned as a child was to be independent.  I had no siblings growing up and my parents worked a LOT, so independence was something I had to learn pretty early on.  I don’t want to make it sound like I was abandoned or anything because that wasn’t the case, but I was pretty mature as a child, (which came to a screeching halt at about age 15, as you have probably noticed), so my parents trusted me to stay out of trouble when I was alone or when my mom was asleep.  Mom worked nights so she was usually just getting home and going to bed when I was leaving to catch the bus in the morning and would still be asleep for an hour or so after I got home in the afternoon, and my dad was often gone at work from 6 or 7am until 5 or after in the evening.

Independence wasn’t just about being able to feed myself and not burn the house down, though.  My mom indirectly taught me about financial independence by balancing her checkbook at the kitchen table every week.  I understand now that she was probably doing it because money was really tight and she was trying to find a few extra bucks here or there for things we needed, but as a child what I saw was mom sitting there managing HER money, paying HER bills, taking care of HER business.  That had a pretty profound effect on me.  I learned to balance a checkbook when I was 16 and it’s still a habit that, 20 years later, I don’t feel right if I’m not doing at least every other week.

Technically, I got my first job at 13 years old, but I worked for my dad on weekends and time off school from about the time I could push a broom and pick up sheetrock scraps.  My dad taught me to be independent by showing me how to do something and then leaving me alone to do it…and giving me hell if I did it half-assed.  He wasn’t afraid to let me fail and learn from the failure.  I was never Daddy’s Little Princess.  I was Daddy’s Helper.  I was the holder of wrenches, the finder of sockets, the cleaner of paint brushes, the mixer of joint compound, the stacker of wood.  It taught me that there’s no such thing as “men’s work” and “women’s work” – there is only work that needs to be done and if your hands are the closest, they’ll do just fine no matter your gender.

When I got older, my parents taught me independence by not giving me money or things that I wanted and instead making me get (and keep!) jobs.  Some of my friends had parents who paid them an allowance for doing chores around the house, or just bought them things that they wanted when they asked.  I had chores I was expected to do because it was helping out, and if I wanted money I had to get a job.  This taught me not to look to rely on other people for things I wanted but rather to go out and earn them myself.

Now that I’m in my mid 30’s (I’m holding onto the “mid” until I’m 38 and a half and you can’t make me do otherwise!), the independence that my parents instilled in me helps me not be afraid to think for myself and do my own thing.  I have some pretty eclectic beliefs and interests and the older I get, the less I care what anybody thinks about them.  I don’t necessarily PREFER to be alone, but I’m not AFRAID to be alone, so I’m not obligated to try and please others just for the sake of keeping them around.  The older I get, the more I realize just how valuable that trait really is, at the very least in terms of self-preservation.


late as usual

A bunch of people I know are doing NaNoWriMo this month, and someone just asked me if I was going to participate as well.

The answer to that question is “HAHAHA, NO”.

I heartily salute all the people trying to write novels this month (or any month!), but I’m pretty sure I couldn’t organize enough words to write a novel if my life depended on it.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I like being alive, so if it was to come down to WRITE OR DIE, I’m sure I could come up with…something.  It would probably involve wiener dogs and unicorns and a lot of swear words and terrible grammar, though.  If it was a matter of having to write a GOOD novel or die, I’d definitely be toast.

There is, however, this thing called NaBloPoMo, which involves posting on your blog every day for a month.  I think I could probably handle that.  By rights, I should have started November 1st, but I’m basically never on time for anything so it seems fairly appropriate to start the challenge five days late.  The website says their cut-off date for being included on the November blogroll is the 5th, so maybe I’m not that tardy after all.

I think I’ll try using the provided weekday writing prompts, unless I run into one I don’t like, at which point I’ll be like:


So, with that in mind, I’m going to do the first few prompts all in one go as penance for being a late-coming slacker.  Here goes!

Monday 11/2: What was the one toy that a friend had that you wished you had when you were little?

When I was a kid, Koosh Balls were a huge deal.  I remember having a couple of normal-sized ones, but one of my friends had a really BIG one that was rainbow-colored and I was just…obsessed.  I wanted one SO badly.  Every time we went to the local shopping center I would trawl KB Toys, (which dates the fuck out of me right there, because didn’t KB Toys go out of business in like 2000 or 2001?), searching high and low for the giant rainbow Koosh of my dreams.  Sadly, I never found it.

Tuesday 11/3: What did you think was the coolest job in the world when you were younger? Do you still feel that way now?

I was SUPER into animals as a kid, (some things never change), and I thought being a zoologist was pretty much the most amazing job in the universe.  Who WOULDN’T want to hang out with critters all day every day AND get paid for it, you know?  I harbored the desire to become a zoologist right up until 9th grade when we started having to talk with the guidance counselor about what we thought we might want to do after high school.

As an aside, my high school had one of the LEAST helpful guidance counselors EVER.  He would basically look at your test scores and decide whether or not you were “too smart” to go into the vo-tech program.  In 10th grade I walked into his office and said, “I’d really like to be a cook. I’d like to go to the vo-tech program and then culinary arts school”.  His reply was that I was “too smart” for vo-tech and that someone like me really should go to a “REAL” college, not culinary school.  So that paints a little picture for you of the ass-hattery we dealt with.

Anyway, so in 9th grade the shitty guidance counselor did this thing where he’d ask you the top three jobs you thought you might be interested in, then he’d look them up in this gigantic book that would tell what kind of degree you needed for X, Y or Z job, average salaries for those jobs, growth expectancy for the next 10 years, etc.  I had him look up zoologist right off the bat and he said basically I’d either have to become a zoo-keeper (which is NOT up my alley – zoos make me sad), or go into academia (in other words, a million years of school and become a professor), and that neither job made any money so I probably shouldn’t pursue them.  Again – total ass-hat who had no idea what he was talking about.  But, at 14 years old in Bumfuck, New Hampshire, I didn’t know any better so I bought his line of bullshit and gave up on the zoology thing.

I still think zoologists have really cool jobs.  I don’t know that I’m cut out to like, hike through the jungles of Borneo trying to study orangutans, but there are plenty of animals that don’t live in jungles that I think it would be amazing to observe in the wild and learn about.  “Why don’t you quit your accounting gig and go to school to be a zoologist”, I hear you asking.  I appreciate your boundless optimism, but there are these things called paychecks, and I can’t really get by without mine unfortunately.  You can scoff that it’s a lame excuse all you want, but I’m nothing if not a realist.

Wednesday 11/4: When you were a kid, did you want to have the same job or a different job than your parents when you grew up?

My dad was a sheetrocker, carpenter and painter, and my mom was a telephone operator – first at AT&T for many years, then at a gigantic medical center a couple towns down from where we live.

I never really had much interest in my mom’s job except for the times when she’d say she got to talk to someone from another country – that always fascinated me.  Other than that though, her job (as I understood it, anyway) consisted mostly of sitting in a chair and being hooked up to a switchboard all day, punching buttons and answering questions.  It sounded pretty boring.  The irony of the fact that I now do a super boring job that mostly involves punching buttons and answering questions all day is not lost on me, of course.

My dad’s job was something that I actually got plenty of experience in as a kid because I’d often go to work with him on weekends or during time off from school.  He usually had me filling screw holes with compound and a trowel, or painting trim if he was at a painting job.  Neither of these were things I particularly enjoyed because they both take practice and I’ve always hated having to practice things to get better at them.

As an adult who has been chained to a desk pushing other peoples’ papers for the better part of 20 years now, I appreciate my dad’s job a lot more.  He basically gets to create all day, every day.  I mean, it’s not like he’s painting murals on peoples’ walls or anything, but he’s physically MAKING – building walls, entire rooms, entire HOUSES.  He can turn around at the end of his day and see that he’s further along than he was yesterday.  In my line of work, there’s very little of that.  The most tangible result I get from my job is shifting a pile of paper from one side of my desk to the other.  I didn’t want to do a job like my dad’s when I was a kid, but I envy a lot about his job now.


That’s all the time I have for right now. I’ll do today’s actual prompt a little later on.