Wrapping Up a Novel Is Like Urgent Macrame

I’m in the home stretch of rewriting The Tiny Giant. I am deleting whole paragraphs in favor of the better writing I’m capable of after 150,000 words of practice. I am crying, sometimes, when the clever bits turn out to be irrelevant, or a sweet moment slows down the action, and they have to go.  I am fist-pumping at the ceiling when the new section is funnier, more adventurous, or just actually makes sense.

In these last few chapters, the whole of the story has to come together in a way that is both interesting (complex) and organic (not distractingly complex).  It makes me tense.  I’m preoccupied with it.  A bit obsessed.  This is where I run into issues.

See…I’m at home all day with the Two Things.  My kids are 4 (almost 5) and 7 (almost 82, he’s wonderfully odd).  I get up and write for a couple of hours if I can manage it before they get up.  Once they stir, there is no more writing.  This doesn’t happen at a nice stopping point.  Right now, at the climax, I’m juggling all the cords of this macramé masterpiece, trying to get the knots connected so the plot doesn’t just crash to the floor.  When I “stop” for the day, I still have these mental threads precariously wound through my imaginary intellectual fingers.  All day.  All I can think about is NOT LOSING MY PLACE.

I take notes, and I leave markers for myself.  I know what’s going to happen (thanks, outline!), and I know what I need to do to get there.  It doesn’t stop me from worrying that somewhere along the way, I’m going to leave a cord out, or tie the wrong knot, and this big piece of mental macramé is going to end up looking like the actual macramé I made in the 7th grade.  I urgently need it not to be as amateurish as my 7th grade plant hanger.  I urgently need to be done.

I will not rush through this last bit just to be done.  There are still 7 chapters left, and they deserve the same attention as all the others, if not more.  I’ll spend the next two weeks tying knots and balancing strings and probably snapping at my family (sorry, family) to see it through to what I hope it can be.  If I seem a little preoccupied, well, it’s just that I’m trying to remember if the blue cord is an over or under cord…


Now….what was I thinking with this one?

I Stopped Fooling Myself, Since I Wasn’t Fooling You

I updated my About page recently to include my name.  After three years, I was still reluctant to do that.  I realized a couple of things, though…

I’m going to need to connect with my real name in preparation for releasing a book, whether it’s traditionally published or self-published.  This means that any distance I thought I was keeping between myself and my online persona is probably counter-productive.

Also…there really isn’t any such thing as privacy when you decide to have a presence on the internet.

You Should Be Happy is now going to include the humor that I’ve been posting, and my author’s blog.  I won’t bore you to death with daily updates about The Tiny Giant, but I will be talking about the process and teasing some of what the book is about.

Major milestones, too.  I’m getting close to the end of the big heart-rending rewrite.  More to come on that soon.

So…hello.  My name is Rebecka Ratcliffe, and I’m a writer.  Nice to meet you.



Well, I spent a couple years,
Pilin’ up a mess of words,
But when I read ’em back,
I didn’t like what I heard.

Those words were too simple,
Those too flowery.
These sound like I made ’em up,
And those don’t sound like me.

I grabbed my inky editor
And marked them pages up.
I bled all over those suckers,
Man, I really changed some stuff.

I beavered away at the pages,
Started feelin’ like a pro,
Until I read the new version
And saw how far I had to go.

Well, I sucked it up, my friend.
I wrote the whole thing over.
I worried about the “central conflict”
And what “motivation” drove her.

At the end, I could see
My mess of words was clearer.
So, promise me, you’ll buy my book
When I finish it…late next year.

A Note From Me:  I know some of you have been through the process of writing and rewriting novels, and let me tell you, it’s quite a process.  The good news?  Two-ish years after I started using my 3 hours a week on The Tiny Giant, I finally know what the finished product looks and feels like.  This 4th Draft is the last draft before I edit and send the manuscript out.  It has come a LONG way in that time, and I have a mess of work left, but I can see and feel the main arc of the story, and I know the characters as well as I know anyone.  I’m excited to get there, and honestly a little tired of looking at it.  I’ll be happy to see it out the door, then turn to some stories aimed at adults while I wait for responses.

What do I expect?  Nothing.  Hope for everything.  The young adult fantasy market is more open than ever before, I think, and more crammed with competition as a result.  But…back to the work, which I need to get done before I do any dreaming…

(Bonus points to you if you heard Baxter Black in your mind as you read the poem.)

Everyone Will Have Reservations at Your Holiday Party

Sometimes I like to be topical and trendy.  Right now, it seems like everyone is talking about holiday this, party that, oh, I’m gonna make these cheese balls with quinoa all over them and not eat them because I’m lactose intolerant, but you go ahead.  Since I don’t really have “parties,” because that would involve a lot of “people,” I thought it might be fun to help you plan your party.  

 I spent some time thinking about a theme, because no one wants to have the same party as everyone else, right?  I spent some time focusing on the word “hospitality.”  I laid down in the middle of my floor and chanted that word for an hour using the voice of my ancestors.  The long line of introverts behind me declined to help.  “Hospitality,” I whispered.  Inspiration struck.  Hotels!  A hotel themed party would be the very essence of hospitality.  Looking around my suburban home, however, I couldn’t make it work.  I just didn’t have enough rooms to give everyone their own room and still call it a party.  Plus, some people might not be entirely charmed by spending their evening in the bathroom or the basement crawlspace.  If you have a 40 room mansion, this might not be a problem you have, but you wouldn’t be talking to me either, so whatever.

 How could I get more people in a small space?  I still wanted the hospitality feeling, but I needed efficiency.  I scrunched my knees up, covering my ears so I could think, and lightning struck!  I could take my inspiration from the airlines!  Read on to see how you could throw your own party just like a major airline. 


First, you have to invite all your friends to the party, of course.  You’ll want to make sure you set your groundwork here.  Make a list of all your friends.  Then, divide up the list between your Best Friends and your Other Friends.  For maximum efficiency, I suggest something like the example below. 

Be sure to check the appropriate box before sending to prevent confusion.

Be sure to check the appropriate box before sending to prevent confusion.

Handling RSVPs

When your friends RSVP, you’ll want to make sure you exchange some important information.  Absolutely confirm if they are bringing a date or any other baggage.  This is the perfect time to let them know they need to arrive at least two hours early. 

Greeting Your Guests

Your guests should start arriving long before the actual party is to start.  Have them form an orderly line outside the front door.  You will want to put the Best Friends closest to the house to ensure they get inside before anyone else.  This is a good time to make sure no one has brought an unexpected guest.  If anyone in line is not covered by a confirmed RSVP, inform them they are on Party Standby.  If there is any room after all confirmed guests have entered the party, these unexpected guests can enter on a first-come/first-served basis. 

Walk down the line and observe what people are carrying.  Anyone with a hostess gift should be pulled out of line and searched for other contraband.  Since most people don’t have metal detectors at home, you’ll have to improvise here.  If you’re curious about what your coworker has in that stupid designer purse, or you want to see if Bill from high school is still carrying joints in his pocket, make a high-pitched whining noise as you “wand” them and insist they dump out their purse or pockets.


Weeeoooooweeeeooooweeeoooo. Sorry, I'm going to have to search that.

Weeeoooooweeeeooooweeeoooo. Sorry, I’m going to have to search that.

No matter how clear you are on the invitation, there are always latecomers.  At the time the party is scheduled to start, lock the door and don’t let anyone else in.  That’s the price of being a Rude Roscoe, my friend, see you next year.

 Party Down

The key to a party that everyone enjoys?  The atmosphere and the refreshments!  First, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s comfortable.  Because we’re trying to get as many guests in as efficiently as possible, I’ve done a model layout for you.   

You may want to have a special area with larger squares for your Best Friends.

You may want to have a special area with larger squares for your Best Friends.

 The refreshments are another area requiring careful planning.  It’s important to have enough for everyone, but not necessarily the same things for everyone.  I suggest creating multiple areas for drinks and food.  Find your Best Friends and quietly suggest that they might want to check out the refreshments on the linen tablecloth, behind the curtain. 

Please enjoy all this, my Best Friend, and let me know when you need a refill

Please enjoy all this, my Best Friend, and let me know when you need a refill.

Holler “Grub’s on!” loudly to the Other Friends and gesture to the folding card table where you’ve set up the cheap stuff.

One per guest, please, if I have extras you may ask for another

One per guest, please, if I have extras you may ask for another.


Let’s face it, people are not coming to your party for the entertainment.  Go to a Redbox, close your eyes, and point to the display of movies at random.  Rent this movie.  Play it with the sound completely off in your living room.  If someone cares about what Vin Diesel is saying, they can stand very close to the screen and read his lips.

 Winding Down

If you’re following along, you should be having a really adequate party at this point.  People will be awkwardly mingling with the person in the assigned seat next to them.  Your Best Friends will be drunk and joining the Mistletoe Club elsewhere in the house.  It’s important to end the party with the same tasteful efficiency as you began it.  Put on a pair of blue nitrile gloves and carry a small wastebasket liner to each party guest.  Grab their cups out of their hands and throw them away regardless of contents.  Once you’ve done this, announce to everyone that the party is over, thank them for coming, and wish them an enjoyable holiday season at their own homes. 

 Important Last Note

Once you’ve signaled that party is over, make it clear that everyone is to leave as quickly as possible by standing at the open front door with a basket of party favors.  Hand one to each guest as they leave, counting as they depart.  It wouldn’t do to have a party guest stranded in your house overnight!

 This may sound like a lot of work for a couple of hours of party time.  While I’m sure you’re sold on the money-saving refreshment tiers, you might wonder if it’s worth going the extra mile for your guests.  Yes.  You have to stop focusing on the journey, and look toward the destination.  You’ll avoid the “same old holiday party” trap.  People will be talking about your party for years to come.  Bonne fête! 

Thanks for choosing our party. Please come again.

Thank you for choosing our party. Please come again.

She Couldn’t Believe It When She Saw What You Believed!

There’s been a lot of back on forth lately (mostly forth) about some really outrageous things in the news.  You may have been tempted by the delicious aroma of moral superiority.  You may have even taken a bite.  I’m sure it tasted oh-so-good, but I have a question for you.

Do you even know where your outrage was manufactured?

Most people assume that because they are personally having the outrage, it’s locally sourced. But how do you know your outrage is wholesome organic outrage, not some pre-packaged, processed frankenfit?  For all you know, Big Aggro is importing your outrage from an overseas factory server farm!  They aren’t even required to label it!

Manufactured outrage is full of toxins that slowly poison you from the inside out. These toxins may make your outrage look better, or feel better, but they’ve been proven to cause tight sphincters, jerking knees, and hurting butts.  Did you know that compounded outrage is addictive, just like heroin?  It’s no mistake that they call it website “hits.”

The healthiest course of action is probably to avoid outrage altogether. It’s not necessary to anyone’s well-being, and the risks of it being a processed, additive-laden nightmare are high.  If you just can’t go without a little outrage in your life, though, here’s an alternative to supporting Big Aggro:

Be outraged about things within a 25 mile radius of yourself.

Locally Sourced Outrage

Support local outrage, and know that your outrage is genuine, organic outrage grown right in your backyard.

Unlike Blogging Consistently, I Seem to Actually Write A Novel

About 18 months ago, I decided to start this fantasy novel thing.  I’d had an Idea, and it wasn’t letting me ignore it (much like the two-year-old I also had), and I thought I’d better just write it so it would stop pestering me.  Much to my surprise, I seem to have cobbled enough stolen hours together to finish it.

I’m not done yet, but I am coasting into the last chapter, and the big climactic scene went in the file today.  I also have three pages of notes on Book Two, and a rough idea of Book Three, and there’s Four and Five, if I get there.  Cart, horse, I know.

In a couple of weeks, I’ll be editing.  I. Love. Editing.  I know I need to rewrite the whole beginning (of course, and for the second time), and the rest needs continuity and serious improvement.  I wrote it an hour at a time while the little girl was at preschool two mornings a week…in all honesty, it’s probably a hot mess.  So much room for improvement! That excites me, because I’m really, really strange.  

My goal of a readable draft by Christmas is doable.  I’ve been hanging out admiring myself today over that.  I know that when the handful of early reader copies go out for big picture feedback, I’m going to be a nervous wreck.  Then rewrite, then figure out the crazy publishing world and see if anybody wants to take a chance on it.   If not, figure out the crazy self-publishing world, I think.  

Thanks for hanging around to see what happens.  You helped.

No, I Don’t Eat Sushi

A lot of people I know eat sushi, and I can’t really capture the essence of why. They’re not all doing it to look cool, because I know some of them care about cool as much as I care about One Direction. They are not restricted to sushi because of some allergy to everything else. Many of them claim to “enjoy” it. I think they maybe just haven’t really gone to the trouble of understanding what is motivating their food. No, I didn’t leave off “choices.” What does your food want? Specifically, how does the food feel about YOU?

Deep down, on a literally visceral level, I believe all meat and seafood is trying to kill me. This is not some kind of granola theory about “toxins” or some medically based cholesterol or whatnot issue. I think meat is just waiting for its chance to get you. If you don’t handle it like a bomb counting down to zero on your countertop, BOOM! Cross-contamination!! I mean—it’s not even 100% dead until it’s cooked, people. There is still some tiny vestigial spark of life in there, and it hates you. Meat will poison you faster than a Weird Sister and to hell with iambic pentameter.

Seafood is the absolute worst. It remembers the freedom of the ocean, and it wants to get back into the sea as quickly as possible. If it hurts you a little on the way out…all the better. Given the high level of bad feeling toward you, it seems pretty irresponsible to eat it raw. One of the most common food poisoning bugs is salmonella. It’s not a mistake that it says “salmon” right in there. The salmon can hate you so much that you get sick from some lettuce.

Because I believe meat is harboring a grudge, I allegedly overcook it¹. I am not overcooking it. I am cooking the revenge out of it. A piece of meat that has been heated through to the recommended temperature is not only properly dead at that point, but it will not come back as a zombie chop or tilapia walker. It has been neutralized. There is plenty of barbeque sauce at Costco to rehydrate your meat, so I’d really rather not hear any complaints about my nice, safe chicken.

Oh, and before you accuse me of knocking something I haven’t tried, I have eaten sushi. In fact, I ate sushi in Japan. Sort of. It was on a Japanese airline, anyway, which is the same thing. No, it didn’t make me sick, but it didn’t make me happy, either. Since I can assert my womanhood with just the wasabi, thank you very much, I’ll continue putting it in my cocktail sauce and mashed potatoes. If you “like” sushi, all the more for you. Don’t ever forget, though, that your harmless indulgence is seasoned with the collective vengeance of millions of tuna. Tuna never forget.


[1] Citation: My husband, who thinks those temperature recommendations from the USDA are just suggestions, not THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP HIM SAFE.

On Being Thankful That I Am Not Getting Paid To Do This

I’ll start off by letting you all in on a big thing.  I have written thousands of words in the last few months.  Some of them are very cleverly put together.  Some of them are put together as if the dictionary had the stomach flu, but I’ll fix that later.  But… BUT…If I’m writing all these words, WHERE ARE THEY?!?  Right?  And why am I writing about writing when I said I wasn’t going to do that?

I’m not publishing anything because I am writing a novel.  Given that I am also caring for Things One and Two full-time, this is being accomplished in the three and a half hours a week that they are both in preschool at the same time.  It *is* being accomplished, though.  As I dig my way through Chapter 3, one stolen prison dining hall teaspoon at a time, I believe it’s actually going to make it all the way to Chapter 12.  It’s a fantasy novel.  I’m not at liberty to go into detail, because the idea is…well…novel.  I don’t want to spill the beans until I actually have the thing in hand.  It’s outlined, timelined, and I know what the two follow-up books would be in major plot strokes.  I love the main characters.  I think fantasy readers will, too.  I can’t even say it’s “insert famous book”-like.  It’s new.  It’ll be interesting as long as I just let it be what it needs to be.

Given that I have the opportunity to take a wonderful idea and fully realize it (at least to the extent of my capability), I’m putting the blog on official hiatus.  I’ll post a thingy here and there when the mood strikes me, but I need to reserve those three hours a week to work on the novel.  At the rate I’m going, I expect to have a first draft in about a year and a half from when I started writing.  If I can speed that up, I will, but hey….that really isn’t that long.  I’ll leave the blog open, and if something strikes me funny, I’ll share it.  I probably won’t be doing any of the long pictures and humor posts for a while, though–while I love those, they take a lot of time.  It takes me hours and hours to sound quite that slap-dash, and even more time to carefully plan and stage those most professional pictures.

So… I’m not really writing about writing.  I’m writing about how glad I am that I can just say, “Not this year, honey,” to the blog without impacting my financial outlook.  If there’s someone who is disappointed that they won’t see more of the humor pieces…I hope you’ll like the novel.  There’s plenty of wry humor in it so far.

I also wanted to say how thankful I am for this blog.  I was encouraged to do this by several friends, one in particular, and it made me think that writing was something I wanted to make time for.   That opened the door to the bigger possibilities… I think if I hadn’t already been writing, I would have let the idea for the novel wither off into the ether.  For everyone who is following me, or has liked or commented on something–thanks, man.  You’re the best.  I also know that you’ll understand why I am choosing to spend my limited time where I am.

Light a candle for me every Thursday and Friday between 9:00AM and 10:45AM PST, excluding holidays and teacher inservice days.  That’s when my Martha Stewart lifestyle gets put on hold while I live the dream.

Regretfully, I Am Not Qualified For Your Position

I spent a lot of time yesterday cleaning up dog vomit. The dog has bad ears and they get infected without my noticing because I am a terrible dog owner.  Since she is twelve, and blind, she doesn’t do much normally—so “lethargy” and “inactivity” are sort of her natural states.  Hard to notice when her activity level goes from .5 to .2.  Antibiotics to cure the disgusting ears have all kinds of other disgusting side effects.  Poor doggy.  Anyway…  I don’t often think, “I have a college degree and 15 years of experience, and I am doing THIS,” but it crossed my mind more than once during Festival de Papertowel and Rugcleaner.  Let’s stipulate that I am slightly overqualified to clean up dog vomit.  There are, however, a list of things in the world that I am not qualified, nor will ever be qualified to do.


  • Consignment Boutique Fashionista: This was what started the whole thing. A consignment shop had a “Fashionista Wanted” sign up, and I thought, “Well, they don’t want me.” I treat my clothes and my cars the same way. I find something reliable and use it until every single last drop of goody has been wrung from its sad, tattered carcass. My 2007 Honda has 125,000 miles on it and I’m hoping for at least two more years. Some of my shirts probably have almost that many miles on them. It’s not a successful garment experience unless you’re too ashamed to give it to Goodwill. If an actual “Fashionista” went through my closet, I’d probably have to foot some therapy bills or call the police.
I put this on right after I took the picture because it was slightly chilly.

I put this on right after I took the picture because I was slightly chilly and it’s still perfectly functional.

  • Hoarder: Now you’re probably imagining that my closet is just one massive pile of rags. NOT SO. I am not constitutionally capable of hoarding stuff. I also lack the mental self-trickery to think that I will need *that* someday, or that I won’t ever have another one of *those* again, or that I can fix *this* up and it will be worth something on eBay. No, no, and NO. It’s all just crap. Throw it away. If you need all those things to preserve every precious memory, then maybe a couple of them aren’t as precious as you think.  I get mental when the trash can is full and the possibility of throwing something away doesn’t exist. Really mental. Like…if we forget trash day, Mr. YSBH has to take to can to the transfer station or it ruins my week. My career as a professional hoarder would be cut short about three times a year when I looked around and said, “What is all this junk??? Gah! Get me a shovel!”
We keep moving this box of unopened organizers because we don't have anything to put in them.

We keep moving this box of unopened organizers because we don’t have anything to put in them.

  • Physics Instructor: I’m a smart gal[i]. I learned and learned when I was in school, and I embraced all the learny things. Except trigonometry and wave theory. To be honest, I decided not to. I am certain that I am fully capable of learning those two things (really, they are sort of the same thing, you can’t get one without the other), but I would have to memorize it. It doesn’t make logical sense to me. Trading in financial derivative futures, and the required reporting? SURE. Light waves bouncing all over my room? Nope. I decided that it’s MAGIC. The idea of things bouncing all over my room all the time makes me uncomfortably crawly. Just writing about it now is making me restless. Magic in the air (which is also not moving unless there is a breeze, thank you very much) allows the sounds and sights to enter my head as needed. This also explains why Mr. YSBH has “selective hearing.” HE’S IMPERVIOUS TO MAGIC, YOU GUYS. While this theory works really well for me, I betcha it wouldn’t go over that well in a high school science class. Then again… kids today, they might not know the difference.
I don't even really understand this, and I made it up myself.

I don’t even really understand this, and I made it up myself.

  • Parent: Speaking of kids, I am completely unqualified to be a parent. This is the one job on the list that I actually have, and I can’t even quit. “Sorry, kids, but this gig isn’t working out for either of us. I’m just going to move on so you can hire somebody who is a better fit.” I took Child Development in high school. For the assignment where you were to come up with fun games for preschoolers using household objects, I turned in “Look at the Man in the Sun,” which you were supposed to do with binoculars. I was the one person the preschoolers did *not* want to read to them during the field trip to the day school. Somehow, they let me bring two of the little snowflakes home from the hospital, though. Amazing. I’m setting the bar pretty low on this one, honestly. Were they clothed and sort of fed when I dropped them at preschool with their buckets? YES. Gold star for me, because they both had buckets and snacks and shoes on the correct feet. As for the more advanced parts of this job, I’m totally winging it until I get my performance review. Which I am still waiting for, BY THE WAY—do you know when those come out again?
Run away! Run away!

Run away! Run away!

[i] Yes.  I said “gal.”  I’m taking back “gal.”  I don’t actually know what’s wrong with “gal,” except maybe it’s a little familiar.  In the wrong context, sure, that would be offensive, just like a man can be called “buddy” in an aggressive way.  I’m a gal, she’s a gal, wouldn’t you like to be a gal, too?

Mommy Is Relaxing … Her Standards

Burning question of the day: Why wasn’t my house always spotless before I had kids? Seriously, there was, in hindsight, no legitimate reason why it couldn’t have been clean all the time. I guess I was just really lazy. And happy. I was lazy, and happy, and I played video games and worked a lot.  Now, when I talk about what I’ve been doing all day, or better yet, what I got DONE, I find that I’m … fudging it a little? What I say…doesn’t seem to mean what I used to think it meant.

“I cleaned the floor.”
Used to mean: I picked up every single thing and vacuumed and mopped the entire house.
Now: I picked up most of the things, and kicked the others around the carpet so I could vacuum. Then I squinted my eyes to simulate an older person who doesn’t see well, and paper towel spot-cleaned anything on the laminate that was glowing green or creating texture.

This is where they live, because they are mine and I clean the floor.  Put yours away.

This is where they live, because they are mine and I clean the floor. Put yours away.

“I cooked dinner.”
Used to mean: I spent at least 45 minutes cooking some spicy, complicated creation from scratch, using every pan and spoon I owned.
Now: We are eating anything besides take and bake pizza.

So, 45 minutes to make the meal, and an hour to wash every dish in the kitchen? *does math, frowns*

So, 45 minutes to make the meal, and an hour to wash every dish in the kitchen? *does math, frowns*

“I did laundry.”
Used to mean: I spent all day Sunday washing and drying all the things, so that I could spend my time watching X-Files, folding the laundry, and putting it away during commercial breaks. Voila! All the clothes clean for Monday morning.
Now: I washed and dried some clothes, many of which are small and annoying to fold. They are sitting on the bed RIGHT NOW. If I can sneak off after dinner, I will fold a few of them, then the rest will get smashed into the giant pile of wrinkles in our bedroom. Sorry, dear.
“I cleaned the bathroom.”
Used to mean: The bathroom was ready for a picnic. You could eat off any surface you desired. Everything was sanitized, shiny, and the end of the toilet paper was folded into a little triangle just to make you feel fancy on the john.
Now: Visible signs of the small people have been hurriedly scrubbed off with a disinfecting wipe, and a flushable brush has been swished around the toilet to remove whatever it will remove. Notice I didn’t mention the tub. That’s what shower curtains are for. If you look, it is your problem—why are you looking in my shower? Weirdo.

Pin This!  Effort-free growth chart for the little ones!  Smear their hands with a different color of sidewalk chalk for each year.

Pin This! Effort-free growth chart for the little ones! Smear their hands with a different color of sidewalk chalk for each year.

“I’m ready to go.”
Used to mean: I’m ready to go, except I need one more thing that I forgot. There, now I’m ready.
Now: I might be ready to go in about 15 minutes, after I get the other 17 things the children *need* to be happy, find the other shoe, tie them into the carseats and then run upstairs and “fix” my hair. That is conditional. If anyone needs to use the potty, flips out over a sibling saying the wrong thing, or comes down with a flash virus, all guarantees, implied or otherwise, are forever cancelled.
“I did the dishes.”
Used to mean: Who are we kidding? I never kept up with the damn dishes. It pretty much means the same exact thing now as it always did: We’re expecting company.