Resolution Update

For anyone curious about the outcome of my big places to record my reading a story as a test run last weekend, I did set all up and give it a try. I have so much clutter in my little home office that I don’t Feb Cabin audio setup lighthave the optimum noise abatement, unless stacks of old college papers and piles of paper detritus collected over the years are acoustic help. That makes me perch my laptop and microphone on the edge of the spacious but largely inaccessible desk. Lucky for me, the cabin in the woods has no traffic noise, no noisy neighbors, no sirens.

All I have to beware is Ma with her radio. I have to wait for her to go out on the porch or fall asleep so I can have the noise turned off. Last weekend she wasn’t feeling well, so she slept lots (no, I was not happy she was sick!). Now that’s she’s feeling better and this weekend will be warm and sunny, I can probably get more recording practice in. I shall make her lounging on the porch as comfortable as possible!

I must not forget Barky, Feb Cabin mutated barkyeither. Mostly she barks at night but if a strange person or animal gets near it sets her off. Once she gets started, Fudge joins in. If it’s a distant hound, they’ll bay back and forth and give me the urge to take a coffee break. I do not holler at my watchdogs for barking!

Okay, what happened: I got the Sony  Sound Forge program registered and working and did the tutorials that don’t require internet as the cabin is off-line. I plugged in my Blue-brand Snowball microphone. I recorded reading the first half of Otto and Socks in Outpost 1 and had some inevitable mistakes. I was pleasantly surprised her hear my reading sounded like a real narrator, to me at least.

That’s where I got in trouble. I thought I could make a new file, snip the correction and paste it in the original. Not so easy. I finally got so tired of trying to edit the first file, I started over. The second try went better, and when I made a goof I stopped, backed up Outpost Snipand started from that point. That seemed to come out better. I was marginally encouraged, so I went on to read part 2. The entire sound file is just over an hour. It is in a ‘wav’ file and I didn’t know what to do with it. Obviously I needed more education in production, so I accessed the ACX Audiobook site help from my work computer (over lunch, of course); they have lots of info on making a sound file good enough to be an audiobook. This weekend I’m going to apply some of what I learned there and see how that turns out.

One thing I discovered when I tried to listen to my file is that the volume is way too low, and that is covered in the ACX Audio Scientist files. Thus, no samples this week, no voting. I have purchased a Feb Cabin audio setup darkgood pair of headphones and now know how to test for acceptable background noise. One really annoying thing was having to use the on-screen audio controls at the same time I had to scroll through the text of my story…cumbersome and the source of most of my needed corrections. I have printed out my stories now, so that is solved. I have hope! Wish me luck!


Spring MUST Be On the Way!

Last weekend got up to the low 70’s F and I had to walk about to see how nature fared. Oh look! The Spring Flowers (narcissi) are coming up through the leaves!Feb Cabin narrow narc emerging

Feb Cabin narc field sharperFeb Cabin narc from leaves 3







See the buds! And one single bloom on the entire bank. These are massed halfway up the vertical part of my driveway. It’s shady there; the Spring Flowers at the gravel road turn-off are already in full bloom. That’s not on my land, though…I love what’s in my front yard best.Feb Cabin narc bloom

Feb Cabin narc almost ready bud Feb Cabin narc emergingFeb Cabin narc bud












The peaches, nectarine and plum are swelling their buds…I sure hope a hard freeze doesn’t kill them.Feb Cabin blurry peach limb


Feb Cabin peach plum buds






The ferns are getting green and the strawberries are escaping their bounds. Last but by no means least, the twig with the yellow ribbon is a lilac…it’s getting buds too. Spring MUST be on it’s bright and sunny way!

Feb Cabin escaping strawbsFeb Cabin ferns skinnyFeb Cabin lilac buds

Get Serious About Those Resolutions or Quit!

Last weekend, the great 3-day President’s Day Weekend, I was Run-OverMe worried -By-A-Train sick and got slim little done at all. A sad waste of precious time. I managed to make a batch of currant-oatmeal cookies Saturday afternoon and survived by drinking copious amounts of Yerba mate green tea. I knew I was on the mend late Sunday night because I didn’t lose my cookies!


Snoball MikeAll better now, I have great plans for this weekend. Sure I have that treasure trove of fantastic parcels of satins and rayons and cotton blends, and let’s not forget the fur. Defer! I Have that painting upstairs calling plaintively to me, pick up a brush PLEASE, or a sponge if you prefer! Defer! My big goal is to learn Sound Forge, the sound editing software, and get some use from my Snowball microphone. I shall experiment on creating a Podcast!


I have five short stories in the Otto and Socks series in the final draft stage. I plan on making several different versions of me reading one. Perhaps one with an introduction and follow-up, a  fore and aft commentary. Maybe one with just reading followed by one with reading in a more lively, story-telling style. I’ll do as much as I can while Ma is basking on the porch and I can have quiet in the house…I hope I can get the hang of it without excess anxiety.

I am certain I have the key ingredient for mastering this obstacle to greatness, the one thing that will Coffee obliqueensure success in this instance and beyond, the catalyst for merging creativity with technology. This one item will boost my butt into orbit and my sci-fi will fly. You know what I’m talking about; ebony, searing hot, mug-staining Coffee! And lots of it, guaranteed. (FYI, I designed the mug graphics using Zazzle, great place.) I’ll probably need to whip up another batch of cookies as an acid absorber (never a store-bought cookie!). I may post a couple versions next week and get votes, if I’m brave enough.
Coffee coffeeCoffee gator

Brushed sideOf course when Ma does come in and the radio goes on, or my brother comes over, or (dread) I get too frustrated, I’ll already be upstairs, near the studio. How long can I listen to the poor painting whimper without going to make it all better?

Navy Days – Danger on the High Seas!

I happened to see a post about a sailor from my old ship saying the USS Dixon had a severe corrosion issue. No kidding! I remember the ship being caught in Pacific storm that busted a hole in the hull.
We were on a Western Pacific 6 month cruise out of San Diego California. I had met the ship in Honolulu, the first port of call. I was directly out of Nuclear Power School and had never been on a ship before…what an experience. Not being at sea, but being on a ship full of crazed sailors! Command wouldn’t let them off the ship the first day, so when I arrived they were in a frenzy. I heard that ‘the ship was welded to the pier’ ‘We would never go on Westpac’ so many times, but somebody must have changed his mind because I met it in Hawaii, already underway.
Cabin June 2015 063
I toured Oahu with some of the guys from my Division and they treated me to my first hard liquor, a Tiki Liki (souvenir cup in the header) from Trader Vic’s…Gee Wiz, enough of that!
The Dixon had a rounded hull, as it was a repair ship and we needed all available space for machinery and supplies for fixing up the submarines at sea. After Hawaii, we went to the Philippines, a whole book in itself. From there we had to cross the mighty South Pacific to reach Australia, passing through the Straits of Malacca at night to see the lights of Singapore. Far from any island, we rammed smack into a vicious storm, with swells so high all you could see was a midnight blue wall of water all around, electrified with thick and close lightening bolts; could be terrifying unless you were brave and stalwart like me.
We would ride a swell up, the entire ship would rise from the water and  shudder (yes, actually shudder) from prow to stern, then whammo ! We bammed down, over and over. Then suddenly it felt like a detonation. All our guts fell to our boondockers (boots). Alarms! Flashing lights! All hands shut those watertight hatches! Run Dammit! The ship was sinking! Honestly, I never found myself worrying. There was only one other person I knew on the ship of 1300 that wasn’t barfo seasick, and we went around with forks asking green sailors for the big chunks. We passed the word around the Psychic Jean Dixon had predicted a ship with her name on it would sink.  It’s a wonder one of them didn’t throw us overboard.
USS Dixon and Subs
USS Dixon AS–37, with the SSN Gurnard and SSN Pintado

Right after the storm they put divers over the side to keep us from actually sinking, with guys aiming rifles at them, ready to kill the hungry Great Whites. They put an emergency patch over the gaping rusted hole so we could carry on.

The ship laid on it’s side all the way to Sydney, where they wouldn’t let us dock close because we couldn’t confirm or deny the presence of nukes. I loved Rushcutter Bay where I had fish and chips for the first time. Maybe I should write a book on all this?

Cool Stuff From JPL and NASA!


NASA and JPL have a very neat set of travels posters for Solar System and Interstellar vacation destinations at

You can download these as poster-quality PDFs!

ceres is one on the menu, a nice one.

If you download a poster, you’ll come to this screen that has more goodies.

I used Planet Quest by JPL often when researching for the first book in my Elise t’Hoot series; I wanted to get the latest facts on the exoplanets. FYI, exoplanets are the worlds that orbit suns not our own and it’s amazing how many they’re found. They have lots if the latest news on planets, asteroids, satellites, space, and have many helpful pictures to illustrate the concepts. Now they have lots of interactive stuff as part of the “Exoplanet Travel Bureau”.

All the pictures for this post are from the NASA JPL s1te, I hope you try it out and have fun!

Amway and Appaloosas

Snow on tree vineYesterday I forgot Ma’s medicine at the cabin and didn’t realize it until I got all the way into town. Idiot! Thus I had to drive back with Ma in the swirling snow last night. Of course my brother was there taking full advantage of my not being there, his big old truck blocking the driveway. Surprised him!

Anyway, I set the alarm very early to get in to work this morning as it takes well over an hour to get there from the cabin. The county had the roads cleared well, we only got a couple inches. I cruised up the ramp onto the Parkway, four lanes with little traffic. I set the cruise control on 70 and relaxed some. I pointed outJanuary Cold Geese snowplows to Ma, I pointed out chilly flocks of birds. Then a big pick-up passed me.

This huge black Guzzlero 350 had prominent mirrors on either side. I told Ma those giant mirrors had turn signals incorporated, so the guy must pull a trailer. To have them that nice installed instead of the clip-on kind, he must haul something valuable, regularly.

The pick-up wasn’t the newest model, but had the appearance of being kept up. The black body gleamed, the chrome shone through the crusted snow, no dings or rust. With those mirrors he had to pull a long trailer and have enough money to maintain the truck, the trailer and whatever he hauls. Horses. Maybe he had a line on some horses for sale and was on the way to give them an experienced look.

Snow UPS leaving farmMeanwhile, his wife accepts yet another Amway box from the UPS carrier that knows her name and asks how her sniffly rat dog is doing. “He died”, she told him, and then thanked him for her wonderful package. She wanted to sell Amway but all her neighbors avoid her anymore. She gave Shelly artful make-up sets, lip glosses and blushes for her wan face every Christmas, birthday, Easter and Earth Day and many cologne arrays to her son; he’s only 12 but was growing into it.

Shelly opens the front door, sees the boxful of all night mascaras and pineapple candles and feels the strong urge to go right back out before Ma looks up. Too late. “Hi, Ma.”

“Look honey, I got you these nice gloves that match this bracelet that matches this necklace that goes with this combination flashlight and Pumpkin Spritzer for your purse!”

Dad walks in and shakes off the snow, a rotten habit that makes the carpet soggy and it Snow Close foot printscatches so much dirt. “Hey Shelly! Arnie Butz up in Fordsville has a spunky appaloosa that he’s gotta sell to get his wife some kind of exotic medicine. Dunno, but he’s selling it rock bottom. Help me hook the trailer up and let’s go get it!”

Shelley slumped, ‘There goes more of my meager inheritance.’ Aloud, she said, “Sorry Dad, Ma and I were heading out for breakfast. It’s the eleventh anniversary of my braces coming off and I need to celebrate. We might get some shopping in after that. Want to come along?”

“Hell no! You girls have fun, I can get this myself.” He goes out mumbling.

After a country ham and scrambled egg breakfast, Ma insists on going to the Goodwill. Shelly knows better but relents. Surely all of the Amway plunder Ma had sent her over the years and had donated was off the shelves, in some other ditzy woman’s house.

Ma got a cart because she didn’t like using a cane, it made he appear old. She leans on it and starts wandering. In the geegaw aisle, there laid in a perfect row, were the 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016 versions of Santa’s Favorite never-opened lip gloss in hot pink. “Shelly, looky there! I wonder why some are missing?”

Shelly knew…


Ah, end of the Parkway, click off of cruise control, coming into town and traffic. Isn’t funny how a mirror on a passing truck can make a tedious drive more bearable?

The Wind In The …Oaks

End of Sept Cabin 053Cabin Curved treeTrees skinny leaning

We had severe storm/tornado watches around the cabin in the last few days, which made me think of the thousands of wind-twisted and hard-weathered trees around here. Heck, let’s just make this an Odd Tree edition! All of these charmers are in my woods, and the pictures are my own from last September. Enjoy!

Cabin Crossed trees Cabin Crooked tree Cabin June Forked tree Cabin Vine tree End of Sept Cabin 025

End of Sept Cabin 013

Story Problem Disintegrates!

The other night when reviewing my Otto and Socks storylines, I could have sworn I had a Me puzzleddisconnect between the 2nd episode and the 3rd. This weekend, I set time aside to resolve this annoying problem. There was no problem. Why I thought there was is beyond me…I be mystified. Maybe that shows why I shouldn’t attempt to write in town after my job and fixing supper and watching TV with Ma because she wants me to: brain drain.

Saturday I did a more final draft on the second episode, renamed Two Peaceful Maidens after the cult that has Otto experiencing visions. Then I wrote out half of the next one, Hooch. Sure, it required a preface paragraph, but it seemed to flow okay to me.

Sunday my brother came over and STAYED, so no more writing, phooey. Instead I took that stained glass piece of satin I got last week and, seeing no suitable pattern, cut it by intuition and made a fabulous two tiered skirt Ma adores. Success! I know, I should have taken some pictures…Sorry!


On a sad note, I did not see sweet Bridgette last weekend nor the Tuesday before. Her food dish in her little cozy Download 090915 072cat-house had plenty left. I fear Bridgette either went away as cats do when they get really old, or she was too slow for a coyote or bobcat. I have not seen the secretive and shy Scaredy Cat either, so maybe that bobcat got them both. Scaredy Cat showed up one day and my brother caught her so we could get her fixed. Apparently she harbors a deep resentment because she runs furtively anytime anyone gets near. I did dream about Scaredy Cat last night; she walked up to me shyly and looked straight at me. That would have been very uncharacteristic. Hmmm.