A Year in Scribbles

As is tradition in every media – print, electronic, television, radio, extra-telepathy, etc – it is required that one puts together something that reflects on the past year. Seeing as how I’m not one that’s willing to tempt fate, here is the past year at Scribble Scribble and the Hughes household as pulled in part from our Christmas letter:

Is it here yet?  No?  How about now?  No?  Okay, well, since 2010 isn’t here just quite yet, it’s time for our annual letter to our friends and family.  And by annual we mean once every three or four years.

The year 2009 was an interesting one here at the Hughes household, way up in the remoteness of Northeast Iowa.  We keep running, gardening, eating, making cheese, knitting, and writing.  Here’s some of the highlights:

On two weeks notice, Steph and I jetted away to Florida for a week at Walt Disney World.  Had a great time and finally managed to get into Canada at the EPCOT World Showcase for dinner (Pumpkin Pie Sorbet is fantastic).  Despite her every effort, I was successful in returning to Iowa with Steph.  She has yet to forgive me for this.

Lots happened in June – for starters, we didn’t get evacuated for another 500 year flood.  Good thing since having two of those in the past fifteen years has proven to be quite enough.  It also meant that our five (yes, five) gardens remained intact.

Oh, we also celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss.  (Steph informs me that this bit is very important and should probably be above the lack of floods.  I’ll catch it in the editing process).

On the job front, I marked six years of employment at Luther.

Steph would have also marked six years on the job at Seed Savers Exchange, but decided that a recession was a perfect opportunity to go looking for a new job.  And she found one.  She’s now a Quality Assurance Engineer for Morse Data Corporation based out of Chicago.  She gets to work at home and enjoys the job.  Her biggest complaint is that one of her office mates is getting frisky and likes to sit on her lap.  Human Feline Resources has said they’ll talk to Tim Tam.

Record potato harvest!  Seriously, we filled the back of a pickup truck with the potatoes we harvested this year.  On top of that, our four dozen tomato plants produced prolifically as did the squash and beans.  The pantry is full.  We also tried our hand at making homemade Apple Cider out at the farm with Steph’s parents.  Yum.

I started this month off by hoping on a plane and flying to Martha’s Vineyard for Viable Paradise.  VP is one of the top Sci-Fi/Fantasy workshops in the nation and I was extremely lucky to get accepted.  I had the chance to spend a week meeting and learning from eight of the best writers and editors in the Science-Fiction and Fantasy field.  I had an awesome time and made a lot of good friends.

So that’s it – 2009 in a nutshell.  Will 2010 be any more exciting?  Who knows?  Tune in to our 2012 letter to find out!

Home for the Holidays

I am apparently on the Naughty List.

This is, of course, the only explanation for the large amounts of snow and rain that have hit Northeast Iowa.  Our expected trip to Dubuque has been postponed until the chances of us sliding off the road, crashing into a ditch, and surviving for three days on Gingerbread Men and melted snow until a snowplow driver stumbles across us are reduced.

In a word – bummer.  I haven’t seen any of my family in almost three months (since returning from Viable Paradise actually) so I was looking forward to it.

Still, in the spirit of the season, some good may come out of this.  Some of Steph’s friends aren’t able to make it home for the holidays either.  She’s invited them over for a Christmas Eve dinner so that we won’t be alone tonight nor will they.

So from ours to yours, Happy Holidays.

Matt & Steph (Not Shown - Tim Tam and Tucker who ate theirs)


This is how productive I am today.  Rather than do anything like writing or brain storming or or doing the laundry or, hell, even playing a computer game, I am instead taking pictures of a cat under a blanket.


Yeah, it’s one of those Saturdays.

Some Friends, I Tell Ya

A conversation with several friends this afternoon.

Avery : are you /sure/ you want that honey?

Click for larger image

Me :   Okay. I’m gonna see that in my sleep tonight, thanks.
Jon :  Middle of the night, gonna call Matt and go “Hey, got any honey?” just to freak him out
Zamenhof : Hahaha.
Dhivael : Doooooooo eeeeeeeeet.
Me : I will keeeel you.
Dhivael : Doooooooo eeeeeeeeeet!
Me : I hate each and every one of you on a deep, personal level

Ladies and gentlemen, these are my friends.

This Week…

The holiday slow down has begun and not much is happening around here.  Only two things noteworthy:

One – A major project of mine this past year has been a renovation of our spaces here in the Library at work.  That all went well.  Yesterday, my co-workers and I sat down to discuss the project and what we thought needed attention, adjustment, etc.  It came down to this – “We need a sign over here.”  “Can we get a cordless phone?”  “A power strip under this counter would be nice.”

As I was going over the stuff to make sure I got everything, one of the people said “Man, this is all just nit-picky stuff”.  I replied with “If we’re nit-picking, that means we’ve done things right.”  We’re not moving entire desks or putting up walls.  No, we’re focusing on the little details.  That’s good.  It means everything else is working.

That fills me with no end of glee.

Two – I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut.  This happens on occasion and I’m not surprised given the time of year.  It gets busy at work, busy at home.  When I get home at night, sometimes the last thing I want to do is write. In short, the Writing Moose has drunk a little too much eggnog.

The writing I’ve been doing hasn’t been much fun, either.  It’s all been revisions and I went over the past nine chapters to get it done. For minor things, I’d let it slide but these were major revisions.  They had impacts on characters and plot lines.  I knew that would bug me until I got them done so I sat down and did it.

I sat down last night and decided I’d tried to throw out a few plot structures following the lines of Three Act and Five Act plays.  That’s helped a bit.  Re-listening to pod casts from Viable Paradise has helped as well.  I’ve got tomorrow off of work and I hope I can sit down in the morning (which is turning out to be one of my best writing times) and crank out a new chapter before the weekend is over.

That is if I can sober up the Moose.


Winter showed up this week and announced its arrival by dumping 14 inches of snow which it then promptly blew around with 30 – 45 mph winds.  I can’t say I’m terribly fond of this guest’s method of arrival, but he’s here to stay.  Here at the Hughes household, we each deal with the snow in our own way.TuckerSnow

Tucker, our little Sheltie, loves the snow and wants outside every 15 minutes to prove his devotion to the snowflakes.  Knowing that this is a hassle for us, he also attempts to help us clear the driveway by eating as much as possible.  He’s a little dog and despite his best efforts, he has been unable to eat as much as he’d like.  It doesn’t stop him from trying.

Tim Tam, well, he’s a cat.  He doesn’t much care for anything, let alone the snow.  He’ll sniff our boots, maybe lick some snow, but in the end he just waits for someone to sit down and then jumps on their lap.  It’s cold out there after all and he’s willing to pitch in to provide some body warmth.

Steph decided to celebrate the snow and strongly hinted that she would love to take advantage of all this glorious whiteness with a new pair of snowshoes.  So she got her Christmas present a bit early.  She also got herself a new pair of gloves to keep her warm.  In return, she gave me a new hat to equal things out.

Myself?  I used this opportunity to go into work early every day and open up the Library.  Since everyone else in my department was snowed in, I also declared myself de facto head of LIS, issued proclamations,  and attempted an overthrow of another department within the college.  Unfortunately, my boss was able to make it in and thwarted my attempts.  Drat.

I’m looking forward to Saturday where Steph and I can test out our snow shoes and the new hat.  It is a really good hat.


Click: Hughes Unplugged

As of midnight on December 29th, the Hughes family will no longer have television (or in our case, Dish Network).  Why?

Image from faqs.org Photo Dictionary
Image - faqs.org Photo-Dict

Well, the plain and simple of it is that we don’t watch television.  We don’t watch news (national or local), we don’t watch sitcoms or reality television (thank God), sports or most of the hundreds of channels available.  Most of the stuff out there is brain drain.

We watch maybe 3 hours of television per week.  That includes Good Eats, Mythbusters, PBS, and some animation.  When NASCAR is in season, I’ll watch that but to be honest,  I don’t pay attention to anything except the last laps so let’s count that as another hour.

That brings us up to 4 per week  or 16 hours per month.  Our bill comes to around $50 not including electricity (the television takes a surprising amount as shown here).  We end up paying right around $3 per hour of television.  I can’t say it’s that good of a bargain.

Hulu.com takes care of about half of those shows – The Simpsons and other animated shows that I enjoy.  Good Eats and Mythbusters will probably be the two shows that we miss.  Hulu only has small episode clips and not the entire thing.  If Hulu got the full shows, I would sign up for a subscription in a heart beat.  NASCAR  is on the radio and highlights on the web within twenty minutes of the live event.  In my opinion it’s better to listen to it anyway.  I can do other stuff like write or housework.

What do we hope to get out of this?  I’m not sure.  It’s not a groundbreaking decision.  Lots of people do it but for us, I really don’t see it changing our lifestyle too much.   It’s not as if we don’t read enough books.  Steph plows through War and Peace before breakfast and I’ve been on a kick of 3 – 5 books a month (that’s fast for me).  We’ll still watch our Netflix movies.  Maybe I’ll write a bit more or we’ll spend more time together.

In any case, it’s nice to have it done.  I just hope I don’t end up like this guy.

Got Chicken?

Tonight, we had a rather nice dinner of local chicken, local BBQ sauce, home-grown beets, sauteed garlic scapes, and steamed rice.  Carving the chicken is my job and while doing so, I had the following conversation with our ‘children’:

Tucker:  “Are you cutting chicken up there?”

Matt: “Yes.”

Tucker: “Can I have some?”

Matt: “No.

Tucker: “Please?”

Matt: “I said No.”

Tim Tam: “Might I have some chicken?”

Matt: “No … wait, where the hell did you learn to beg?”

Tucker: “I taught him!”

Tim Tam: “Don’t make me come up there, human.”

They got chicken.


Today’s PSA

Dear Neighbor:

If your Christmas light configuration causes seizures or can be used in landing aircraft or is personally responsible for requiring two new nuclear power plants to be installed, you might want to think about toning it down.

Thank you.