Coffee heat rising

Loafing at the Publishing House…

DCP_1186So I’ve gotten three, count’em (3) publishing enterprise-related activities done today. And that’s about it. Can’t quite say I’ve been totally loafing. But it’s close.

This morning I typed up and emitted our newsletter to those hardy souls who kindly subscribe. (You know who you are! ) Sounds simple, looks simple enough. Doesn’t it?


DCP_1358It consumed the entire morning, from about 8:30 to almost 1:00 p.m. Let the dogs out after they rousted me at 7:00; turned on the heat, fed the dogs, and then climbed back into the sack with the laptop to wait until the chill was off the refrigerated air.

Read the news on the Internet. Played a computer game. Filled in a crossword puzzle. Then figured I’d just flow the copy I’d drafted into MailChimp, tidy it up, add a picture or two, and ship it off.


DCP_1497Should’ve known better. Once sucked in, I was like a fly in a vacuum cleaner: there was no escape.

Item: Do not, ever, paste copy from Wyrd directly into MailChimp. At the very  least save your file as an HTML file. But don’t. Best choice: Paste it into a WordPress post, edit it there, and then copy and paste from WordPress into MailChimp. This will cause relatively little conversion wackiness.

DCP_2079Failing that, paste it into a plain text editor. Do the best you can to edit in that, then paste into your MailChimp page and edit copy and add your images there.

After merging content from two draft sources, pasting the resultant Wyrd copy into MailChimp, and fiddling around ad nauseam to make the result vaguely coherent, I tried to format heads, subheads and body copy and add an image or two. Holeee crap! What a nightmare.

Hours of fighting with MailChimp later, I finally gave up and sent it out. And what did I see in the version MC kindly sent to me?

DCP_2486Let me assure you, it looked nothing like what MC was showing me at its site. Crazy type fonts in the subheads — some look sort of like Copperplate Bold (huh?????), some like Tahoma. The bulleted lists? The bullet points appear in the middle of the second character in the first line of each list item! Like that character overwrote the bullet point. Wha-a-a-a-a?

I had set the whole damn thing, blanket-style, in Times New Roman 12 points! Each subhead was formatted using Mailchimp’s “Styles” function. The bulleted lists were set using “Styles,” too.

DCP_1554If I tried to pull up extra space between a level 2 head and the following paragraph, sometimes the paragraph would morph into 18 point boldface. Sometimes it would not. Sometimes the graf would appear flush left, no first-line indent; sometimes it would appear indented. No rhyme nor reason for these quirks was evident. It was all catch as catch can, trial and error.

So I spent the larger part of the morning dorking with that, to not very good avail.  Would’ve been a lot better off to have printed out my draft from Wyrd, dropped the print-out next to the computer, and transcribed the entire thing character by character into MailChimp. Would have saved a lot of time by doing that.

DCP_1558Oh well.

Then it was off to the church to drop off a couple of small donations.

From there: a straight shot into the scariest part of South Phoenix, where the printer has his plant.

Somewhere near there, according to a couple of hand-lettered signs, are a couple of living spaces. One is described as barato; the other as barrado. Spelling variation?

DCP_1260Hm. Barato means “cheap.” Or it can mean “trashy.” What is this person trying to say to us?

Barrado means “barred.” Now that would be a selling point. But corduroy can be described as barrado; so can striped fabric. Maybe the joint has a fancy paint job.

And if you happen to be in Chile, barata, which around here means “sale” (as in “at the sale”: en la barata), can also mean cockroach. Personally, I rather prefer la cucaracha. Much jazzier. I’ll bet the person trying to unload the real estate has the same thought. 😉

Picked up the page proofs, which show that on the new equipment the cookbook’s cover will have to be tweaked. That’s frustrating: I’d expected to walk in, say “uh huh, fine,” and order ten copies.

DCP_1556So….if you’re waiting for your copy of the cookbook, it’ll be a few more days. {grump!}

Back at the Funny Farm, I could not face another session of fiddling with the computer. So decided to do some yard chores that have been neglected since before the start of the first Adventure in Medical Science — damn near two years ago. Though the  yard is fundamentally minimalist, the plants have been suffering.

DCP_1765Occasionally I look at old iPhoto images and see the spectacular flowers I used to grow. No more of those around here! Usually at this time year and also as the weather cools in the fall, one has an attack of spring fever and wishes to do nothing other than garden. Haven’t gotten into that in…well, way too long.

Pruned three roses, two of them climbers.

The recent long, soaking rains have revived many of the plants, among them the roses. I’d thought the beloved climbing roses were dying of old age. But apparently that’s not the issue. Apparently the issue is, between the gawdawful heat and the drought they haven’t been getting enough water.

DCP_1720Lo these many years ago, when my parents dragged me here to Arizona, the climate was altogether different. Every winter, we had what the Indians used to call “female rains”: days of slow, soft, soaking rain that did not run off, but rather soaked into the ground, deep-watered everything, and eventually made its way to the water table. Each summer we had what silly Europeans call “monsoon” rains: crazy hard showers pouring out of thunderheads, much of whose water rolled off the hard desert floor, made its way to the nearest riverbed, and eventually ended up in the Sea of Cortez.

P1000793The summer rains would roll through late in the afternoon, around  4 or 5 p.m., and they could easily drop the ambient temperature by 20 degrees. So a hundred-degree afternoon would soften to an 80-degree evening. A high of 110 was unusual, 112 was strange, and no one ever heard of a 118-degree day.

Good times.

DCP_1991Now the weather here is not conducive to plant life. Nor, we might add, to human life. The water table has dropped to Hades’ front door, and we almost never see a hard rain in the Valley unless it comes out of something that looks alarmingly like a tornado cloud.

But of course, there’s no such thing as climate change. Our legislators assure us that’s true. 😉

P1000758After two or three years of neglect, the “perfume delight” rose that used to be so beautiful was now scrawny, rangy, and as big as even a Mr. Lincoln can get. And a Mr. Lincoln is a big hybrid tea rose.

Only two more roses to prune, and one of them is in a pot located in a hot place with a lot of reflected glare, so shouldn’t be trimmed back very much. Then I need to cut the dead stuff off the blue plumbago and prune back the orange thing that wants to take over the galaxy.

P1000266And I really should soak the flowerbed by the pool, dig out every piece of plant life in there, and replace it with something beautiful. But I’m not going to. Right now there’s a mat of Mexican primrose in there, interlaced with bermuda-grass tentacles. The heck with that. With any luck, the Mexican stuff will suffocate the crabgrass (good luck with that). If it doesn’t…well…no one sees it, anyway.

So it goes.