Diana Pharaoh Francis | Diana P. Francis | Diana Francis

Archive for the 'my life' Category

Wednesday, July 4th, 2018
It’s been a hard few weeks

It’s been tough at the Francis house for the last month or so. First there was a situation with my daughter at school. That’s ongoing but hopefully working out. Then one of our corgi boys died. We took him to the vet because he wasn’t feeling so good, and turned out his entire stomach and chest were full of cancer. We had to put him to sleep and it was horrible. I did not take it very well, I can tell you. But then we got a miniature blue heeler puppy. My husband really wanted him and we hoped Voodoo would like him. Voodoo has never been alone in his life: Viggo was his littermate. But Voodoo hates him. I’m hoping he gets over that. We also plan to get another corgi puppy in a few weeks. A great nephew of Viggo and Voodoo. He may be good company for Merlin (mini-blue heeler). His name will be Crowley. (Sensing a theme?)

And then, just when we thought things were evening out . . . . A couple days ago my husband fell down the stairs in the house and broke five ribs in six places. He’s in a lot of pain, as you might guess. It will be four to six weeks at least before he heals.

So things have been difficult here, though I’ve tried to keep writing and doing my work. It’s slow going.

Sweet Viggo. I miss him so much.

Voodoo

But I will leave you with some dog pics because of course you want to see them.

Merlin

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018
What Diana Doesn’t Understand

Viggo studiously not paying any attention to the tugging of the war.

I’ve recently discovered that I don’t understand the rules of tug-o-war with the dog. I’m not the only one. Viggo doesn’t understand the rules either. Or maybe he doesn’t understand the point of the game. Either way, when Voodoo decides he’s up for a game, Viggo just sort of stares with a kind of vacant look of confusion and then puts his head down and goes back to sleep.

Voodoo grabs his squeaky toy (I’ve learned the game is only fun if the toy squeaks–who knew?) and then invites me (orders/invites–it’s a fine line) to yank on it while he holds on to the other side. I shake it back and forth and pull, and he just sort of hangs on and leans back. He’ll keep it up forever. What I don’t get is why we are doing it. Why is it fun?

Voodoo wondering why I would write about him and wondering when I’ll be free for another game.

Is there a winner? If so, how do we know? On occasion, he’ll let go so I can throw it and he can chase down the hall after it and bring it back, and then we begin the tugging process again. Mind you, he doesn’t play fetch outside, nor does he fetch anything but his squeaky tug-o-war toy.

I have to admit that I don’t last long in the game. Maybe that’s how you win. You just have to not get bored and keep holding on. Voodoo is a master of the game. He can hold on forever and he never gets bored.

I have noticed that I am the opponent of choice. He won’t play with the kids much at all, though he will play with my husband on occasion. But if he does play with my husband, I have to be in the room and I have to be watching. Otherwise he’s over it.

 

 

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018
Crazy

That is, I’m feeling crazy. I’ve had so much going on. My husband has been looking for a job and having a bunch of interviews. We’re getting work done at the house again. I’m close to deadline and behind. I’ve been teaching. And mothering. And running errands and trying to figure out why my ocular migraines are getting worse. I wish I knew someone who had them too so I could talk about it.

I’m still losing weight. I don’t remember the last time I was at this weight. It’s been super hot (for the time of year–up in the 80s) and I’m soooooo glad I’ve bought shorts. I’ll be heading off to RT (Romantic Times Booklovers Convention) in May, and from there I’m heading up to Miscon, and then home. I’m not sure where all my time is disappearing to, but I’m working hard to stay on track. Anyhow, what’s crazy is how much my fingers are shrinking. I didn’t really expect them to shrink so much.

I’ve got a huge pile of clothes that don’t fit anymore, and I”m not sure what to do with them. I could donate them, but I’m trying to figure out how to give them to someone who might actually need them. Not sure what the best venue for that is.I’m also trying to figure out what clothes that are still in my closet that are too big, but I’m not sure I should get rid of. I don’t wear a lot of fancier stuff any more. Mostly I”m super casual. Some of the shirts that I’m trying to figure out are the kind I can wear over other things–like jackets, but shirts. They still look good, but I’m trying really hard not to hang onto the stuff I don’t need, or that I won’t wear much.

I also am woefully behind on getting my newsletter out and doing some updates to the website. I’ve got to get on both of those.

I have been doing some sketching. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, and then I kind of stopped. I’m doing animals, and working off pictures from online. I’m working toward being able to do a corgi, and I’d like to do some mythological creatures.

My tennis elbow is better. Not knitting yet, but I’m getting closer. I think.

I’ve got a bunch of tomatoes and peppers started in my kitchen. I’ve got some grow lights and a heating mat and things are progressing nicely. Now I just have to get out into the garden. And I have to spray my roses with Neem oil to stop the black spot. I’m hoping it will work. My plants have a fair big infestation.

When we moved here, I managed to mostly get over my whole: keep everything that’s still good because it’s too good to get rid of attitude. Then we moved and now I”m back to keeping more stuff than I should. So I’m trying to get rid of things. I’m hoping to do a garage sale. I hate doing them, but it would make it easier to get rid of stuff. And maybe get some money back. But mostly get rid of stuff.

Now I have a corgi pointedly rolling on his back and waving his paws in the air. It’s bedtime and he wants to go.

 

Friday, January 26th, 2018
Things that are going on

A lot has been happening recently, some good, some bad. I want to thank those of you who’ve contacted me with such positive encouragement on my books. I love you so much.

I’m 8 weeks post op, and I feel pretty good. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight since last May (which is when the process began–presurgery stuff). I’m feeling pretty good when I go out and walk. More energetic. I want to get on my elliptical, but my tennis (knitters) elbow is giving me trouble and so I haven’t gotten on it recently. I’ve tried resting it, icing it, heating it, using different bands and elbow supports, but nothing is really working. Yet. I’m doing some muscle exercises and hoping they are helping.

I start teaching online in an MFA program for creative writing program at SNHU in a couple of weeks. I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve been wanting to get back to teaching and I really like the SNHU program and their approach to online learning. I’m excited to be a part of the program.

It’s been raining something fierce here. For days. This is good, since we’ve not had the usual rain in November and December. Some of the storms have had pretty incredible winds and that makes me so happy that we cut down the tree we had out front next to the house. It was my favorite tree–big and leafy. But the big limbs coming out from the trunk had cracks in them and once we had it cut down, we discovered that two of them were rotted pretty well through, which means these storms we’ve just had would likely have brought them down on the house.

In the meantime, my son was invited to join the honors society at the college he’s attending as part of his Early College High School program (he’s a junior in HS but taking a full load of classes on the college campus). My daughter has been doing super well in her classes and making me really proud of all her progress. She’s always felt like she’s not as smart as her brother, not understanding that

he’s three plus years older than she is, and therefore of course he knows more things because he’s farther along in school. I think/hope she’s finally looking at herself and feeling strong in her abilities. She’s very smart, but now she’s hopefully starting to believe that herself.

The corgi boys are doing well. They are spoiled (more spoiled?) and enjoying forcing me to do their bidding. I’m such a sucker. This is a little selfie of them and me. Voodoo (whiter face) is trying hard to keep Viggo off me (he doesn’t like to share), but Viggo has flung himself down on top of Voodoo and is inching up onto me. Voodoo is very jealous. I think of it as Viggo’s revenge for Voodoo not playing more games with him. Viggo loves to play run and chase and Voodoo always quits before Viggo’s ready.

In a few weeks I get to go to the Rainforest Writers Retreat, which is near Lake Quinault in Washington, and it’s a lovely chance to focus on writing, be in nature, and enjoy the company of other writers. It’s one of the prettiest places on earth. It’s in the middle of a rainforest and the cabin where I’ll be staying with my roomie has a fireplace and right outside is a babbling brook. I love to open the window and just listen to the sounds of the water.

 

Saturday, January 6th, 2018
Five and a half weeks post surgery report

I eat too much. It’s really hard to connect the visual of how much I can eat with the actuality of what I can eat. So I end up feeling a little bit sick and too full and I’m working on that. Other than that, I’m down about 25 lbs since surgery, almost 50 since May. I feel good. Energy is up. I have recently had some intestinal issues which I am not sharing here, but I’m figuring those out and hopefully all will be good soon.

I’m looking forward to my next blood test results. I don’t know when that will be, but I really want to see how my A1C numbers are, as well as some of the others.

One of the keys of post surgery life it to make sure I get enough protein and water each day. So far I’m nailing those numbers, usually getting more water. So this makes me happy. And I’m getting my vitamins as required. So basically, the upshot at this point is so far so good. I just got cleared to lift more than 10lbs, which is really good. Though I still am working on curing the tennis elbow. It’s getting slowly better. I bought a nighttime elbow splint that I started wearing last night and that should help.

In the meantime, I’ve begun work on the next Horngate book. It’s a Horngate world story, so it’s set in the world, but at this point doesn’t include the characters from the first books. That also means that people coming in to the story with this book will hopefully feel situated. I do want to bring the characters over, or else write a further about those characters. I’m not really thrilled with the beginning, but that’s because I’m info-dumping and I’ll have to clean it up later. But right now I just need to get a skeleton down.

 

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017
Post Surgery report–end of week 2

I feel pretty good right now, except for being itchy. I’ve had some sort of allergic reaction and have hives on my stomach and sides and they itch like crazy. I also had a weird possible allergic, possible infection around all of my incisions. My doc put me on antibiotics, which has helped, or else the allergy is receding. Hard to say. I’ve also had a little bit of a skin yeast infection that doesn’t want to go away. I’m not sure why it’s happening, but it doesn’t want to leave, despite medication and various topical applications.

I’ve lost about 13 pounds in the last two weeks. It’s very strange. I eat about 500 calories a day, give or take. I’m usually not hungry. Tomorrow I’m hoping to get off the thick liquid diet and onto soft foods. I expect that’s what I’ll be doing. I’ve also been trying to get my exercise. Unfortunately, my knitting has given me ‘knitter’s elbow’ which is the same as tennis and golf elbows. I’m supposed to not knit and not use the elbow for awhile and ice. I still need to finish a few projects, but hopefully they’ll be quick to finish and then I’ll be able to rest it.

Overall feeling pretty good. Getting in all my protein and fluids, as I’m supposed to be at this stage. As my stomach heals inside, I’ll be able to eat a bigger variety and get back to salads, which I miss.

Finally getting around to watching Star Wars: Rogue One. Not far into it yet, but so far liking it. Next I have to watch the prequel to The Last Jedi, which is the Force Awakens. Yeah, I know. I’m way behind. Haven’t seen Guardians of the Galaxy 2, either.

I haven’t been as tired as I expected and as predicted post-surgery, but I haven’t been terribly focused either. Working on that. I managed to get some work done yesterday, though. That was good.

Tomorrow it’s off to the doctors for my second week checkup. Then hopefully get some final Xmas shopping done. My family still doesn’t want me driving. Hopefully I’m cleared for that tomorrow. My son has been chauffeuring me. He’s very sweet and doesn’t complain about it at all.

I read a really good book by Alysa Day that I need to review for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, December 10th, 2017
One of my #MeToo stories

I’ve decided to publicly tell the story of my last job and how I was harassed on numerous occasions in numerous ways, and how I had to watch the harassment of colleagues. It’s a long story and there were multiple events, so this is a long post. I’ve debated for years about saying these things, since I still have ties to the university, but I’ve decided not speaking publicly about it is cowardice and it allows the harassment to continue. Silence is not the friend of the victim, but of the abuser.

In 1999, I graduated from my PhD program and also got an offer to teach in Montana, at the University of Montana, Western. I was so excited. It’s unheard of in the English world to get a job so fast out of college, but they really seemed to like me and I thought I was a perfect fit. I’d be teaching a variety of courses and getting to participate in a small department. Two men, two women (we had an open position) and then adjuncts. Everybody seemed so nice and welcoming, I couldn’t wait to get started.

Skip forward a few months. All was going well, except we had an adjunct teaching with us. She was petite and blond and smart as hell, but one of the department members insisted on making insinuations about dating her, about having sex with her, about her love life, and everything under the sun, but always revolving around her sex life. He seemed to think it was funny, but it was relentless. It happened during meetings nonstop. Almost every time he addressed her. I wanted to speak up, but I didn’t have tenure and I was afraid I’d lose my job. (And that fear is justified later). So I, I am very disappointed to say, stayed silent. She couldn’t speak up either, because she had no protections and needed the job. Complaining would only have resulted in getting fired. She and I both knew that.

S. continued facing that harrassment for as long as she remained. Eventually she got out because she couldn’t take it anymore. Jump forward to the next year. I got pregnant in my first year and my son was due in the beginning of my second year. I planned to take off two weeks. I didn’t think I could get away with more. My colleagues would have to cover my classes. L., an adjunct, volunteered to cover my two freshman writing classes. My two male tenured colleagues (one of whom had been the one to pursue S. so relentlessly) would take my other two. In an effort to make things easier, I planned everything out carefully and then provided assignments and everything else I could so they wouldn’t have to do much work. I didn’t want them angry with me for taking time off for having a kid.

Unfortunately, one of them decided that my preparations were an insult. That he knew damned well how to teach the class and he didn’t need anything from me to do it. At the end of my two weeks, I didn’t want to come back, but when I asked for another week, they said no. They would not continue. By law I could have had the time; by job standards, I’d be let go: non-renewed. Until I had tenure, they could just decide I wasn’t a good “fit” and I’d lose my job.

I came back, only to find nearly my entire class of students at my office door. They told me my syllabus was too hard, they shouldn’t be required to do that much, and I needed to change things. Of course, my disgruntled colleague had stirred them up and sent them to me en masse. I had to cave to them. I had no choice. I knew that my professional life was in the hands of my tenured colleagues. The two men ran the show. My female colleague did anything they told her to. She thought they they were amazing and wonderful and she’d do anything for them. I found out how much, when she pulled something highly illegal.

At the beginning of the next semester, she called me into her office. She said she’d reviewed my evaluations for the last semester and if I didn’t pull them up, they’d have to let me go. It was code for “don’t have any more kids on our time.” I got the message loud and clear. Now you might ask why was that illegal. At that university, chairs had no power. Not to hire and fire, not to evaluate anybody, not to assign courses, nothing. They were glorified secretaries, providing a conduit between the administration and the department for disseminating information, and for doing whatever scut work the admin decided to demand. They were uncompensated for the privilege. I refused to take the ‘honor’ because were the lowest paid teachers in the nation for comparative sized and degree-granting institutions. After fifteen years there and at full tenure, I was making 52K a year. As other colleagues in other universities will note, that’s tremendously low.

But to continue on with my story . . . . My female colleague, as chair, should never have even looked at my evaluations. This wasn’t legal. Nor should she have used them to threaten my career. But she did. And I took it to heart. The next time I got pregnant, I made sure to shoot for the summer window.

The next thing that happened was in the hiring of our next colleague. When he came in, the others embraced him. He was a man, and funny, and interesting, and British. I liked him, too. But when he came in, the others shunted me aside in every possible way. I had become supremely unimportant. It burned, but what could I do? It didn’t affect my relationship with my new colleague, who I still count as a friend, as well as his very talented wife.

I can’t remember how long it was before the honeymoon ended for M. He challenged the others in some way, differed from their ideas, or otherwise broke one of their silent commandments. That started a feud that was exacerbated by the huge popularity and success of both M. and his wife. Students adored them both–and for good reason. They inspired and they involved students in ways that I still find so amazing and admirable.

At one point, one of the senior men got into a public email argument with M’s wife in which he called her “Lady Macbeth.” At any rate, it wasn’t long before the senior members tell me that M. has been non-renewed, i.e. fired. They apparently had a meeting about it, and they told me, and I quote because I distinctly remember the conversation: “We didn’t invite you because we knew you would support him and we didn’t want you to risk your tenure.” Yes, a not so veiled threat. Toe the line or get fired. By that time, I’m the sole breadwinner for my family and I have two young children. I had no choice but to comply.

It happened again to another colleague, G., though that time my senior colleagues claimed the administration had made the decision without their input. But I knew better. The administration would never have done that. Another warning.

So I kept my head down until I got tenure. Then I got mouthy.

The first issue came when I suggested bringing a writer to campus. I’d planned to take charge and make all the arrangements and such, but a senior colleague decided he was the creative writer guest guy and he just took over. I was more than angry. I complained. So began months of nasty emails from him telling me that he was a senior member of the department, I was junior, and I should behave better and so on. I took his emails to the admin who eventually put us in mediation. My colleague was stunned to hear how I viewed his behavior and apologized. That surprised me, but the damage was done. I’d been looking for a job and had asked him to be a reference (before all this started and I’d applied to this job before the situation blew up). I’d had an interview in Colorado, and when they called him, he gave them an angry reference. The only reason I even know about that was because one of the search committee members told me. I did not get that job.

So because he was angry at my uppityness, he sabotaged my career. Would have I got the job without his negative input? I’ll never know. But I do know that he knew what he did would sabotage me and he did it anyhow.

After that, the friction rose and ebbed depending on the moods of my senior colleagues. We hired in more people as others retired or left, and these people were . . . unpleasant. I’m afraid that I have a lot of respect for all people, no matter whether they have an education or not, no matter they have a Ph.D. or not. These other colleagues did not. They targeted an adjunct professor because she was so popular and because they decided she wasn’t good enough because she “only” had an MFA and of course, she was a woman. The woman thing became obvious when they chose to strongly support a male PhD adjunct–with less seniority and he was more inclined to play their game–aka, kiss their asses. I don’t blame him in the slightest–they’d made it very clear how willing they were to destroy people to get their way.

But it wasn’t just my immediate colleagues. The Vice Provost didn’t like confrontation. At all. He also tended not to obey the policies of the student handbook and the faculty contract. So on more than one occasion, students complained about their grades to him, and he would call me in and make me justify them. This, first, was against policy and illegal according to the contract, but when I went to get help, I couldn’t get any support. The recommendation was to just let it go and do whatever. Why be bothered? It’s just easier than challenging him, so go along to get along. Basically they said that I hadn’t done anything wrong, so it wasn’t a big deal.

But it was. Because he didn’t do this to any of my male colleagues. But because I was a woman, and because I didn’t cause a public stir, he came after me. I remember one advanced fiction writing class, where I’d specified certain rules in the syllabus. Two students didn’t do as they were supposed to and I docked their grades as specified in the syllabus. One got a B+, the other a B. And they complained about their grades, accusing me of not actually grading properly and I didn’t even keep track of some things. Except I did. I produced my gradebook and all the documentation. The Vice Provost had nothing to say. Nothing he could say.

To be honest, this only happened about four times, but it didn’t happen to my male colleagues whatsoever, and I knew for a fact students had complained about them. They didn’t face the same “prove yourself to me” demands as I did.

I’d also decided that I would make every effort to protect the women adjuncts in my department. I became their voices. I refused to attend faculty meetings that they weren’t invited to (something the elitests decided to do). I refused to let them run those colleagues down in front of me. I was not well liked by certain colleagues for my actions. I do not regret it. I was able to protect these talented and hardworking women on some small level, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

These weren’t the only instances where my job was threatened, or harassment in the department, but these were the major ones for me.

To be fair, this wasn’t the only reason I left. Severe toxicity entered the campus during contract negotiations in the last years and collegiality failed. The Chancellor was absent most of the time–leadership was simply a black hole. Then during negotiations, a member of the admin repeatedly said that the faculty was dispensable, that we already got paid too much for what we did, and we should be grateful for whatever they gave us. It was frustrating and demoralizing, because the rest of the admin echoed that sentiment, even while telling students we were the best faculty ever and this school was only as good as it was because of its tremendous faculty.

There were other things too, like faculty misbehaving with impunity. After I left, one professor had a restraining order against another in his department and they had to have offices in separate buildings.

Anyhow, the first seven years of my journey in academics was an exercise in fearing for my job. I swore after that that I’d never not voice my thoughts and stick up for myself again. I would always demand fairness. That caused me some problems at another job, but I don’t regret it. I was polite, but insistent on answers and holding my superiors accountable for their actions.

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017
Day 6 post surgery

I ITCH!!! And I cannot scratch. Misery, thy name is itchiness. But it is a sign of healing.

I’ve been out walking today and I feel pretty good but for the itching.

Other than that, not a lot new to report. I have made some more progress on the new Horngate book. I’m enjoying it. I’ll give you a snippet soon.

I’m also hugely angry about the tax bill and about the GOP support of Roy Moore. I am so angry I don’t have any polite words right now to say anything about it. But on my FB page, I have been posting more stuff.

The family and I get to go see an pre-screening this Friday of Jumanji. I’m really excited. I love the actors and can’t wait to see them. I haven’t been into a movie theater in ages, so this will be fun as well. And this theater is one of those that serves food and such, so while I probably won’t be eating anything, the fam will be able to.

We’re also at the beginning of an extended sunny spell for the area. I’m excited because I’ll be able to get out and walk outside without rain. In my particular situation right now, that’s amazingly nice.

Now . . . back to work. And not to itch. No. No. No.

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017
Day 4 post surgery

It’s interesting what I’m discovering about my body and brain. I haven’t been actually hungry. I eat because it’s time and there are rules–specifically at least 60 grams of protein–and 64 oz of liquid. That’s for the first two weeks. No, that’s actually forever, but for the first two weeks, it’s where I need to concentrate, with liquid being the priority. Because my new stomach can take in only limited amounts at a time, catching up on hydration can be very difficult without an IV.

I eat (drink because that’s the diet for healing) on a schedule. But yesterday I found myself craving. This is mouth hunger/brain hunger, not real. It happened when everybody else was having dinner. I tried to figure out why and that’s when I realized that most of the protein I ate yesterday was not savory. I think I was craving salt/savory flavors. So today there’s going to be soup/broth on my menu. Plus I think I might make white chicken chile. I’ll make it a bit more ‘loose’ or liquidy than usual, so I can pull some of it off for myself and the fam can eat the rest.

I’ve lost weight since surgery–no surprise. But what’s amazing is that I haven’t been hungry. That is crazy. I found out that standing up too long is bad. I’m supposed to walk, which I am doing, but I have to go in shorter bursts because gravity pulls at the incisions and even with a binder for support, it gets to hurting. For the most part though, my incisions don’t hurt a lot and I’ve been using just Tylenol to keep the pain under control. Plus come ice. And of course dog love.

Believe it or not, I’ve also been plotting the next Horngate World book. I think I’ve got it sorted out and I’m really looking forward to getting started on it.

So that’s the update and now your gratuitous corgi pics:

 

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
lowfat cheesecake recipe

This recipe is obviously from a book, since I’m posting images of the pages. The book is amazing, and it looks like you can only get it used, but I recommend you get it if you can. It’s called, Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fate Desserts by Alice Medrich.

I’m posting jpegs of the ingredients followed by nutrition info, and then three pages of instructions. Keep in mind it’s not low sugar. To do that, you need to substitute. Also, when it says keep the food processor going on the cottage cheese for at least two minutes, do that. I’m serious.

The texture of this cheesecake wasn’t really like cheesecake. It’s more silky. And delightful.                                                                                                      

So first, the ingredients list:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now Nutrition

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the recipe:

 



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