The Joys of Back Pain

Blog Picture Sept 11 2014


I managed to badly wrench my back Monday evening while hand edging the grass and removing the rose bush in front of my fence, so I haven’t done anything terribly interesting since then.  When you wake up and can barely walk but insist on going on a run and walking the dogs, that’s a special type of stubborn.  I now have a deeper relationship with my chiropractor and am learning to love icing my back several times a night.

Obviously this has infringed quite a bit on my exercise and dog walking since I get tired more quickly thanks to the damaged muscles.  It took me about an hour and a half to get everyone walked this morning instead of an hour although that was partially because the big girls had to settle for a walk and no running.

I have to skip yoga this week per the chiropractor, which makes me sad.  I really enjoy the class, and I’ve gotten to know the other regulars.  However, I can’t deny that doing twisty things with my back and lower body would NOT be in my best interest this week.  The two mile run with my twinging muscles and nearly immobile right leg was enough extreme sports, thank you!

Akane seems to have perked up after last week’s sad post although she insists on chewing her flanks to pieces (she’s given herself the beginnings of two hot spots.)  Hopefully, my sister will get me the Advantage I requested (she gets a discount for working at PetsMart, so it’s a great help if I have her buy expensive stuff and just pay her back) today since that may help with some of the old girl’s itchiness given that I found one flea on her last Sunday.

Basically we are all getting along even if Akane and I are gimping it up and the others wonder why we’re not as perky as usual.



Posted in exercise, update | Tagged | Leave a comment

The End of An Era is Coming

Before I get into the kind of depressing, existential part of this image heavy post, I learned last week that a major customer of my dad’s business will be closing next summer (probably…they’ve thought they were being shut down before). What this means is I really have to find another job. For a variety of reasons I’m mainly testing the waters right now, but in January the job search will have to kick into high gear. I’ve worked with Dad for fourteen years, and while I don’t always love the work I do appreciate the flexibility of my hours. If anyone here’s of a decent paying job in North Austin (hoping to kill the commute hopefully) let me know. My main experience is in admin type stuff, but I also am comfortable with international and domestic shipping with UPS and FedEx, can use the Schedule B, and am comfortable filing AES online for international shipments. Of course, I’m also willing to train for something a little different from my previous jobs, too!

Now on for my self-involved pity party…

All of the photos below of Akane are from several years ago (we’re talking 2008/2009) when she was younger and stronger. Don’t get me wrong; she’s still her sassy, loud, opinionated cattledog self, but she’s not bounced back from her neck injury the way that I hoped.

Lots of dogs 044

Her back end and legs have been too weak to jump onto furniture of late, and she barks at me to be lifted onto the bed at night instead of being able to jump up. Yesterday morning Akane’s back legs went out underneath her twice on our walk, which both startled her and caused her to stare at the offending limbs with irritation.

Dogs and Cats June 27 2013 001

She turns fifteen this month, so I know she’s not a young dog, but no one wants to think about their pets not living forever, even when they’re difficult beasties who complicate life.

Dogs and Cats January 1 013

Yesterday I realized that Akane is fading. She’s mentally still there, but her body is beginning to fail. Weak back legs aren’t the end, but they’re a sign. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have with my cranky girl, but I can sense that a clock is clearly ticking.

Dogs and Cats February 27 022

Akane’s not sick (at least she wasn’t back in July when she had her neck injury), so there’s no set timeline or anything I can do for her other than to keep her as happy as possible. Things may change, and I could have a few more years with a fragile, crabby dog while the other oldsters may go first. All I can do is love them for the time they have left with me.

Posted in Animals, job, update | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Beth Cato’s ‘Clockwork Cookie Tour’ Stops By for a Day!

Clockwork Cookie Blog Tour: Cheap Korean Style Beef


Hi! I’m Beth Cato. I’m here to share some savory goodness and to introduce you to my book.



comes out September 16th from Harper Voyager. It’s a steampunk novel with airships, espionage, and a world tree that seriously plays favorites. Here’s the back cover summary:

Orphaned as a child, Octavia Leander was doomed to grow up on the streets until Miss Percival saved her and taught her to become a medician. Gifted with incredible powers, the young healer is about to embark on her first mission, visiting suffering cities in the far reaches of the war-scarred realm. But the airship on which she is traveling is plagued by a series of strange and disturbing occurrences, including murder, and Octavia herself is threatened.

Suddenly, she is caught up in a flurry of intrigue: the dashingly attractive steward may be one of the infamous Clockwork Daggers—the Queen’s spies and assassins—and her cabin-mate harbors disturbing secrets. But the danger is only beginning, for Octavia discovers that the deadly conspiracy aboard the airship may reach the crown itself.

You can also read the full first chapter over at It can be found at Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and most any independent bookstore.

Now, on to the dinner recipe!

I’m an author, but I’m also somewhat infamous for my cooking. Every Wednesday over at my site, I post a new recipe in my Bready or Not series.

Cheap Korean Beef2_sm

Meat prices are horrid right now, and ground beef is one of the cheapest options. That’s one reason why I like this dish. It’s has a sweet, deeper beef flavor that’s nothing like teriyaki, and it enables you to make something different than the standard taco filling.

Serve it up with some noodles or rice and vegetables, and you have dinner in no time flat!

Cheap Korean Style Beef
Modified from Elizabeth Bryant

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 Tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder or 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/2+ teaspoon crushed red pepper
salt and pepper
diced green onions

1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in sesame oil and garlic, stir, then add in the hamburger and brown it. Drain most of the fat.

2) Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper., and red pepper. Simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

3) Serve over rice or noodles, and top with green onions.


Beth Cato’s the author of THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER, a steampunk fantasy novel from Harper Voyager. Her short fiction is in InterGalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Daily Science Fiction. She’s a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat.

Posted in reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2014 ZERO Prostate Run/Walk Austin


Many of you have seen my links to my fundraising page for the ZERO Prostate Cancer Run/Walk Austin go out on Facebook and Twitter. My dad is a prostate cancer survivor, and he’ll be walking in the event while I’m running in the 5K. The Austin event is sponsored by Urology Austin and will take place on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at Camp Mabry. The race is part of the ZERO Prostate Cancer Challenge – the premier men’s health event series in America – coming to more than three-dozen cities across the nation in 2014.

I’ve set a modest goal of $101 because I know that many of my friends have budgets like mine where money hemorrhages out much faster than it comes in. If I can get 20 people to donate $5 each, I’ll meet my goal (I started it off with a $5 donation on top of my registration fee). That $100 will go to test a man in need to help people survive like my dad thanks to early diagnosis!

All dollars raised are split 50/50 between our local community and national efforts to fund research, testing, and education for men and their families.

50 cents of every dollar raised stays in the local community to fund research, testing and support.

50 cents of every dollar funds national advocacy efforts to increase and protect federal dollars for prostate cancer research. Every dollar dedicated to advocacy is converted into $9 for research!

Since 2008, ZERO has awarded $1.5M toward research and local prostate cancer programs and provided more than 50,000 free tests.

If you can help out, please check out my donation page! . Every little bit helps!

Posted in exercise | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trying to Bring a Little Lightheartedness to a Sad Week

Earlier this week I thought about making a post about depression or my feelings surrounding Robin Williams’ death. I also experienced mild side effects from restarting a B complex supplement and learned that a dog I had worked with in my volunteer work at a local shelter had bolted his adopters’ front door and was hit by a car and died. However, talking about these things extensively would just put more sadness into the Internet world, and I don’t think I’m helping anyone by dumping online rather than talking privately with friends.

So…despite my saying at the beginning that I’m trying to not use this as a pet story blog I’m going to share an amusing and annoying story from last night because it’s just downright funny.

The star of this short tale is:


Akane, my nearly fifteen year old ACDx.

We’ve moved on since her release from cage rest on July 25 although Empress Aka still wants to be lifted onto Mommy’s bed since her aging back legs don’t jump so well (I have dog stairs, but my animals act like they’re some sort of insult), and I’ve discovered that I can usually get Akane to pee if I carry her outside and make her stand in the grass (fewer accidents in the bedroom while Perdy is out!).

Around 7PM last night Akane began barking at me while I watched TV in the living room. I ignored her because my beloved oldest canine barks for any number of reasons including she wants cookies, she wants my attention, she wants something she thinks one of the other dogs has, she wants up on the love seat, she’s exhaling, etc. I managed to momentarily distract Her Estimable Queen of the Universe by brushing her itchy flanks until she tried to attack my hand/the brush (have I ever told you how lovely Aka’s personality can be?), but she began barking when I understandably stopped touching her.

“Just wait for this episode to be over,” I bargained, assuming that Akane was bugging me for the food puzzle and cookie she gets around 7:30 when Perdy comes out and the little girls are confined. The Fuzzy Evilness wandered off towards the sofa under the windows, and I thought that I’d momentarily won. Movement near Suzu’s crate drew my eyes away from the TV, and in horror I saw Akane carefully climb onto Suzu’s prized dog bed (not the new one, just one she likes in the living room), shoot me a withering, challenging look, and deliberately squat and pee all over the dog bed!

I jumped into action, grabbing Aka and rushing out to the backyard in case her tiny, geriatric bladder had anything else to release. Apparently, my actions triggered relaxation of Aka’s sphincter muscles because she promptly pooped four times within seconds of hitting the ground. Keep in mind that at NO point during her tirade did Aka go near the back door! Apparently, Mommy is meant to be psychic in all the languages of the animals especially Bakaese…

Thank goodness for decently sized washing machines and gallon containers of Nature’s Miracle!

Posted in Animals, humor | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Mastering the Marquess Blog Tour, Review, and Giveaway!

Mastering the Marquess - Blog Tour Banner FINAL

If the banner isn’t enough of a clue, Mastering the Marquess by Lavinia Kent is erotica meant for mature readers. If you don’t enjoy explicit sex, mild kink, and exploration of sexuality I suggest passing on both this review and this novel. However, if any of these sound like your reading catnip, blaze ahead! You may just find your new favourite book!

Louisa, Lady Brookingston, married the love of her life at nineteen after he returned severely injured from war and became a widow at the tender age of twenty-four. Due to the nature of her husband’s injuries, the marriage was never consummated, and faithful Louisa can’t bear gossip of her husband’s inability to get out when she decides to seek a second husband two years later. The intrepid lady asks the owner of her husband’s preferred brothel, Madame Rouge, for aid in losing her virginity, which throws her into the path of Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston. While their first encounter is entirely anonymous the two lonely people connect in a way that will follow them into the salons and dance floors of high society. Can they find their way to their public personas to forge a bond that will last beyond just one night, and can they reconcile their beliefs about what sex should be like in a marriage?

Obviously, the first reason I, and most readers, pick up a novel billed as “erotica” is because I want steamy sex, and Lavinia Kent’s Mastering the Marquess delivers in spades. Even the non-sex scenes set up a degree of anticipation for the ultimate goal, and the eloquent writing kept me on the edge of my seat wondering how each encounter would top the previous ones! At the same time Louisa and Geoffrey were not flat, faceless individuals with no character development. While the focus is definitely the main couple’s heated bedroom romps, they have enough background, personality, and motivation to avoid being nothing more than reader stand ins. I found myself rooting for them to work through the misunderstandings, secrets, and general difficulties of couplehood and eagerly waited for a happily ever after in the final pages. As an added bonus the couple does not have a surprise pregnancy to make everything perfect, although they both yearn for children; it felt like a nod to Geoffrey and Louisa needing to work things out with each other before bringing youngsters into the mix.

For me Mastering the Marquess stood out from many BDSM themed erotica because of its focus on consent that threaded throughout the novel. In their anonymous first encounter Geoffrey explicitly tells Louisa that she should only do what she feels comfortable with, and while she should try various behaviours (given she is a virgin and has no baseline), if she truly doesn’t like it to say “no,” and he will respect her boundaries. He refuses to force her to do anything despite his natural inclination for control in the bedroom and creates a safe environment for Louisa to learn about her sexuality. The consent line becomes blurred later in the story, due to lack of real discussion about sexual activities, which disappointed me a little, but the couple redeemed themselves by having a frank, detailed conversation about what type of BDSM play Louisa was open to as their relationship progressed. Also, Kent emphasizes the trust between her main characters as a factor in the less obviously consensual scenes, and even secondary cast condemn those who force kink or sexual encounters onto others, which becomes a major plot point. With consent being a huge issue in modern society I was thrilled to find a novel that both embraced sensuality/sexuality and the importance of clear permission in pursuing either with a partner.

I’m not a huge fan of the virgin widow trope in romance and erotica, but Louisa’s scenario made sense and was a huge factor in getting the plot rolling. I especially appreciate the care Kent took in revealing that John, Louisa’s late husband, had tried to dissolve their engagement because he knew his injuries would prevent normal marital relations.
With the exception of one extended sex scene most of the kink in Mastering the Marquess is fairly tame and avoids more extreme examples of what can occur in BDSM (no pony boots, blood play, etc, here), which gives it just enough zip to intrigue both more vanilla and experienced readers alike. The focus is on one partner relinquishing control to the other, not a desire to hurt or be hurt.

I ripped through Mastering the Marquess in about four days, and it felt like the novel kept me at a fever pitch the entire time. The heat pouring off my digital pages made it a guilty pleasure, and I would definitely read more from Lavinia Kent in the future. She knows which of my buttons to press for satisfying erotica.

4.5 Brightly Coloured Silken Ties out of 5

Mastering the Marquess[1]

Written by Lavinia Kent
Published by Loveswept
July 29, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-39416-0


One night of fierce passion and unbound pleasure leaves two strangers craving much more in Lavinia Kent’s sumptuous novel of sensual discovery.

The time has come for the widow Louisa, Lady Brookingston, to move on, but she refuses to remarry at the cost of shaming her late husband’s memory. Their six years together were wedded bliss—even if a war injury prevented him from fulfilling his marital duties. Only one woman can help Louisa: Madame Rouge, the discreet proprietress of a club where London’s elite explore their wildest fantasies.

Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston, has no intention of agreeing to deflower an anonymous virgin. But when Madame Rouge tempts him with the absolute power he’ll have over a woman who knows nothing of carnal delights, he’s intrigued. Control is the one thing he cannot resist—and control is what he loses during his night with the blindfolded beauty. He longs to take her further, to leave his mark upon her perfect behind, but the mystery woman refuses to see him again. Instead Geoffrey reluctantly agrees to take a wife, the widow of his dear friend, Lord Brookingston—fating them both to a wicked surprise.

Mastering the Marquess is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo | Other retailers

Lavinia Kent - Author Photo

About Lavinia Kent
Lavinia Kent is a former two-term president of the Washington Romance Writers and a four-time Romance Writers of America Golden Heart nominee. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her family and an ever-changing menagerie of pets.

Connect with Lavinia
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Connect with Loveswept
Website | Facebook | Twitter


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

“All Girls are Born Princesses?”

Born a Princess

I was watching anime last night, and the sentence “All girls are born princesses” floated across the screen in an almost humourously out of context scene (the show is pretty dark and gothic overall). While anime/manga shouldn’t be held as a gold standard for feminism the implication of girls being princesses initially made my skin crawl. However, if I think about it a little it can also be used to support feminism if interpreted correctly.

My gut reaction to “all girls are born princesses” was the sense that women and girls are something precious that must be protected, put up on pedestals, and generally objectified. It made me feel that females held a less valuable role and were solely defined in connection to their relationship with men (see many of the Disney princesses blindly waiting to be saved by a mostly characterless man). Being a princess may have been better than being a peasant historically, but they were still political pawns without a lot of agency. Girls being born princesses in this sense isn’t really a positive thing, is it?

However, I forced myself to step back and think about “reclaiming” the word princess. It’s easy to condemn the princess boom as creating women who think that they should be rescued by men, but if we move away from the obvious imagery and meaning “princess” can be a good thing. If we teach girls that they are born to be respected, treated well, and valued for their abilities that is also a form of being born a princess. Self-respect, confidence, and the belief that you are worthy of a certain degree of chivalry gives a girl power. This type of princess can navigate the world without being constantly mistreated and dependent on others for her identity. In this sense all girls are born princesses; society just strips the title away.

I’m not crazy enough to think that my anime was implying the latter, but I’d like to believe we can embrace powerful, self-confident princesses as much as the frilly ones who dream of a Prince Charming. Adult women owe it to ourselves and to the little girls who look up to us to remake the term and make princess something strong, not just a pejorative.

Posted in opinion | Tagged , | Leave a comment