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Let me try to catch up on the few days since I last posted.

Wednesday was my once-fortnightly day off, and I spent it productively. I went to Au Coquelet in Berkeley, one of the many homes of my heart, and sat against the back wall in the front room drinking good coffee and listening to jazz. I took the laptop, but found that typing was a lost cause -- I hated every sentence I wrote, and deleted every line as soon as I'd finished writing it. So I decided to write longhand, thus eliminating the usefulness of the laptop's backspace key. Once I started writing longhand, things went well, and I got about 2,000 words done on "Bluebeard and the White Buffalo", my new approach to the "Rangergirl" story I've been trying to write for lo these many months. I've continued working on it this week, writing another 1,500 words. I expect to finish the first draft today (Sunday). It's good to be writing.

Yesterday my writing group met at my house, so Heather and I spent Saturday morning doing our usual weekend-housecleaning, but under a mid-afternoon deadline this time. It's nice having a clean and reasonably-uncluttered house! Writing group met, and we hung out and ate snacks and chatted and eventually critiqued. Then Heather joined us, and we went out for dinner to Spettro (which has new menus featuring an image of a tentacled monstrosity crawling out of a grave, and the words "I like it when you're quiet because it seems as though you're absent" written in Italian). I had some of the best stuffed shells I've ever had.

Then Heather and I bid everyone adieu and returned home for an evening of lolling about, watching Northern Exposure, and playing Buffy video games. Good stuff!

I got a couple of contracts, and a couple of checks, this past week, which is nice -- writing is still slowly but surely leading to money and publication, if not exactly wealth and fame. It's still endlessly satisfying to get money for stories, to be paid for something I love doing.

There are some sadnesses and annoyances, naturally. Jack, our mantis, is molting -- and we think he might have died in the process. He's hanging upside-down, half-out of his skin, but he's not moving anymore or responding to stimuli. We're going to wait a while to see if he starts moving again, because we've never seen a mantis molt and don't know what it's supposed to look like. But I'm not hopeful. Apparently molting is a very vulnerable time, and it's not unusual for nymphs to die in the process, especially if the humidity isn't high enough or they've been overfed. I mist his environment daily, and his cage is warm, but we may have been overfeeding him. Or it might just be one of those things. Sigh.

Also, the handle on the toilet is broken, which is irritating, but at least I'll get some minor handyman-job-satisfaction out of doing the rather simple repairs. And the stupid, lazy painters failed to completely cover one of the front windows before they sprayed paint, so now there's paint on one of the windowpanes. Grr.

So, that's what's going on. Life, with its usual array of good-and-bad.

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