Beating Facebook’s Bots – How To See The Content You Want

If you’re not a marketer, you might not know this, but Facebook is hiding things from you.

I won’t bore you with the details (search online for  “page likes” and “Facebook algorithm” to hear the small business howls of protest), but Facebook has changed the way they serve information to your newsfeed.

What does this mean for you?Even if you have ‘liked’ a page (say a local business or a charity you support), you won’t see all their posts in your newsfeed. You’ll have to remember to click on their link to see their page and all their posts.

Which kind of defeats the purpose of the Facebook newsfeed, don’tcha think?

How To See What YOU Want To See

There is a really easy way to customize your news feed so that you see ONLY what you want to see, and you see EVERY post.

But it does require a couple of clicks.

(Another advantage is that you can corral all those quirky blogs you like to read but keep forgetting to check. Using the method below, you can have them all served up to you on one page, every time they update. No more ‘losing’ favorite voices online!)

Introducing FEEDLY

I use Feedly to slurp content from all my favorite sites and let me read them all in one ‘news feed’ at Feedly.com.

Here’s what it looks like:

Feedly home

Say What?

The Short Story: You’ll have to train yourself to check another site as well as FB every day,  to get the content you want. But it’s worth it.

The Slightly Longer Story: Behind every blog is a stream of code called an RSS feed. (It stands for Really Simple Syndication, and its a way your browser can slurp all the content you want into one place. But no, you don’t need to know any code.)

You tell Feedly what sites you like to have updates from, it slurps the content in, turns it into a pretty News Feed, and you turn up and read it.

(Yes, there’s an app for your phone.)

Yes, you’ll have to check Feedly as well as FB, but the upside is that you won’t have to scroll through all the pictures of puppies and the political outrage of your casual acquaintances, unless those are the kinds of sites you like to read.

How Do I Use This Magical Service?

1. Go to Feedly.com and sign up.

You can use your Google account (if you have one) or your Facebook account, if you really want to hitch your wagon to the FB star.

2. Enter the address of the webpage of a blog/organization you care about.

Feedly will find the RSS feed on the page, if it has one. (Most sites use blog software for their news and updates, so it probably will).

For example, to see all the updates on this page, you can just type in ‘www.julieduffy.com‘ and it’ll subscribe you to this blog. To see every post from my StoryADay May challenge, type in ‘www.storyaday.org‘ and it’ll pull up that blog.

3. Subscribe

Feedly Add Content

See that little green button that says “+Feedly”? Click it.

4. (Optional) Put Things In ‘Collections’

A collection is like a folder, in old money. (Or a ‘directory’, if you’re really old). This is optional but something you’ll appreciate once you have more than a few subscriptions.

When you click “+Feedly” it will pop up a little window like this, which lets you add the site to an existing collection or create a new one.

Feedly collections

I have some collections called things like ‘art’, ‘blogs about life’ and, not surprisingly, ‘writing’.

5. That’s All, Folks

Ok, it’s not all. There are lots of things you can do, like change the way you view the page, download an app, integrate Feedly with IFTTT and Evernote and suchlike, but for now? That’s all you need to do.

How To Find The Addresses of Pages You Like on Facebook

Go to your Facebook Pages feed in the sidebar (and yes, you could just train yourself to do this everyday instead of using Feedly, if you’re happy to keep suckling at the warm Facebook teat and are reluctant to emancipate yourself from their whims).

Click on the name of an organization you like. Click their ‘about’ page and look for their website address.

A Disclaimer

Many organizations have fallen into the trap of using only Facebook for their updates. Now is probably a good time to send them a note saying “hey, I’ve subscribed to your blog in my RSS Feed reader. Please remember to update the blog as often as you update Facebook, so I don’t miss your news”. You’ll be doing them a favor, helping them assert their independence!

Some Sites I Follow

The Happiness Project

XKCD

PostSecret

ZenHabits

Ali’s African Adventures

 

 

Blue Riband

So, I’m gearing up to write this big climactic series of scenes in my novel. They’re set at a country faire, the kind where people enter jams and cakes and flower arrangements and knitted layettes into contests and are judged under tents by ladies in hats and men in clerical frocks.

Apparently I’m a little bit Method in my writing because I’ve been obsessively doing this for the past few days:

Cake

Cake, sliced

After a few false starts, I now honestly think I could give Mrs Pattmore a run for her money….

images

Rote, Routine, Rout

I don’t do routine.

Luckily, my lovely husband does.

Coffee in the morning

He has imposed a routine on our mornings that ensures everyone is up, clean, caffeinated-where-appropriate, clothed, fed and out the door on a timeline that does not require panic, screaming, name-calling and/or recriminations. It’s like voodoo.

This morning I woke up at the appointed time, told Lovely Husband about my dream (Céline Dion? Really?) and then—in flagrant disregard of The Routine, he suggested maybe I’d make the coffee this morning. (That should have been a clue.) It was not an unreasonable request, so I began to lever myself out of my nice warm bed.

At which point…I woke up. Told Lovely Husband about the dream I’d just had. He handed me my coffee, as usual.

###

My conscious brain loves our morning routine and the benefits it brings.

I strongly suspect my subconscious of planning a prison break.

 

A Love Letter To My Library

Posted as part of The Guardian‘s Love Letters To Libraries campaign

Dear Troon Library,

Troon Library

I’ll be honest: I’ve been in a lot of libraries that are prettier than you.

But you were my library.

Your ugly, low-ceilinged children’s room was inviting, on my scale and stuffed with books for me to devour. I have no idea what happened to my parents whenever we visited, because all I remember is hunkering down with my new friends: Flicka, Ann Shirley, Emily of New Moon Farm, the folks in Narnia…and when I discovered your audio book section? Well, that was the start of a love affair I’ve now been able to pass on to my own children.

Now that I can afford to buy books, I still use the library. Otherwise my reading would become an echo-chamber of careful investments chosen because the reviewers made them sound like something I’d agree with. There would be no casual stumblings-upon, no cost-free I’ll-give-it-a-trys, no delightful discoveries.

Thank you for giving me companions, new worlds and all my best dreams.

Love,

Julie

Not Forgotten

I hate this patch of grass.

It’s not even good grass. It grew in, scraggly and clover-filled, over-seeded carelessly by the new owners and left to fend for itself. I watched as it filled in, obscuring the scar of bare earth that used to be where the kids soared on yellow swings and hauled themselves across the monkey bars and cried because no one would go on the seesaw swing with them and shrieked with laughter, playing Squeeze The Lemon on the bumpy slide as we watched, all in a row, heads cocked, narrow-eyed, holding back, but ready to intervene if one of them looked at us with sudden, panicked eyes.

The grass was worn away by feet sized 3T-big kid 2, trampled by women’s 7s and 9s. Even regular drenchings from water balloon wars weren’t enough to save it and it gave up, leaving a rectangle of hard won, hard-worn earth in its place.

Until that summer.

When the swingset was empty and the silence rang through the neighborhood. A few kids would stop by from time to time and swing for a minute, wondering if it was OK to be there, but no-one was home to care. I just watched them, over the fence, and waited.

That fall, every time I walked out of my front door the empty swing — the one furthest to the right was her favorite — was like a kick in the guts. And then, when they’d all gone, the bare patch of earth was a memorial of sorts.

The next spring’s thin weed-ridden growth was an insult: Life goes on. But this lush coating of green three years later?

I hate it.

ForgeTown Cover

ForgeTown 1.16 – Sleep Tight, Stella

Buoyed by her success in settling down her restless and homesick son, Kath crossed the hall and knocked on Stella’s door. A baseline thumped spasmodically behind the door. Overtones of a whiny pop diva’s voice bled through like a mosquito on speed. Kath winced. Stella knew she couldn’t stand that song.  It was, she realized, probably why Stella listened to it incessantly. As acts of rebellion go, it wasn’t the worst. Deeply irritating, of course, but Kath could do irritating too. She grinned. You’d have one less problem without me, girl? Ha!

She knocked as she pushed the door open.

“Mo-om! What about privacy? Why can’t I have a lock on that door? What kind of hell is this you’ve brought me to?”

Kath raised her hands in front of her to fend off the attack.

“Woah!” she said. “A, I knocked; B, who said you couldn’t have a lock? The fact is the door doesn’t currently have a lock, that’s all. And C, what kind of tone is that to take with your mother, missy?”

Oh God, she sounded like her mother. In the bad old days. Still, she couldn’t back down now.

“And could you please turn that ‘music’ down? My ear drums are going to split.” Had she really just done the air-quotes thing around ‘music’? Yes, she had.

Stella, curled up on her bed, looked small in this big new room. She was clutching her iPod. Her ever-present notebook was beside her on the bed, its pages scrawled with tiny writing. She flipped its cover closed as Kath approached. It took all Kath’s self-control not to reciprocate the preteen’s eyerool. Stella did, however, turn the volume down on the auto tuned mosquito noises.

“Thank you”

“I’m never going to get to sleep. It’s too loud out there.”

Kath mentally pictured the street outside: empty sidewalks, roomy yards, token streetlights dripping weak spots of light onto the sidewalk for the occasion late night dog walker; a far cry from the busy Waterville sidewalks that had nudged up against the kids’ bedrooms bringing city lights, thumping baselines from vibrating, pimped-out Honda Civics and snatches of shouted conversations that had been an education in colorful vocabulary for every neighborhood kids down through the generations.

“Too loud?”

Stella bolted out of her bed and stood, hands on hips by the window.

“Listen,” One palm up, she indicated the offending outdoors as if her mother must be not only hard of hearing but also hard of thinking.

Kath listened.

Nothing. Well, apart from the insects doing that come-and-go chirping thing she associated with movies about country life. There were some shirrings of air conditioners too, but apart from that…then there was a scuffle as if something was digging in the flower bed outside.

“What’s that?” she asked. Stella dropped the drama queen act and stared back at her, wide eyed.

“Cats?”

“Maybe it’s a possum,” Kath said. “Out here in the wilds of Pennsylvania, they might have possums. What is a possum anyway?” Kath struck a dramatic pose. “What does a possum even look like? Are they carnivorous. Are we on the menu?”

Stella looked like she might crack a smile.

“Possum!” she repeated, letting the smile break through, briefly.

“Would it help if I let you have the iPod and headphones for tonight?” Kath asked.

She thought she saw a hint of the little girl Stella had been until about two months ago, when this move had come up and she had vaulted into the teen years. A wave of softness flooded over her, then Stella arched an eyebrow at her and mumbled. “thanks,” and the moment was over.

“It’s going to be–“Kath began.

“Fine. I know. So you keep telling me.” Stella threw herself back down on to her bed and scrolled studiously through her music, her back to her mother.

Kath slowly and silently counted to ten — which, she remembered somewhat belatedly, only ever served to make her angrier — then decided to let her Angry Young Woman stew. A thousand opening lines died on her tongue and she turned back to the door.

“Sleep tight, Stella,” she said.

After she closed the door Kath waited for a moment on the landing. From behind the closed door, she thought she heard the faintest, “And don’t let the bugs bite.”

ForgeTown Cover

ForgeTown 1.15 – Good Night, Rob-A-Tron

All Kath could see of Robbie under his covers, was a fan of black hair and two very large brown eyes. They looked like thy might go on growing wider and wider until his face was nothing but eyes — and possibly a hint of quivering bottom lip, under that sheet.

Kath pick her way through the scattered contents of moving boxes (tomorrow!) and sat on the edge of her son’s bed.

“Hi buddy.”

“Beep.”

“Beep, yourself.”

The little piece of his face that had been showing slid under the sheet. She reached out and stroked the tuft of hair.

“You had such soft, fair hair when you were a baby,” she said. “And look at it now.”

A hand emerged from under the sheet and batted hers away. A muffled but decidedly disgruntled “beep beep” accompanied the gesture. One beep for yes, two for no. Kath pulled back the covers.

“You have to use words, Robbie. Remember?” Her voice was carefully soft.

The ‘beep’ was barely audible and followed by a louder,

“Yes. Mom”

“So, what do you think of your new room? It’s a lot bigger than your old one, right?”

Robbie stared up at her, still saucer-eyed. His gaze flicked around the room and came back to her.

“When are we going home, Mama?”

He never called her that anymore. Kath fought to keep her face from scrunching. She was definitely not going to let her eyes fill up.

“We are home, Rob-a-tron,” she managed. “This is our lovely new house and I’m sure it’ll start to feel like home as soon as we make some new memories to put in it.”

Robbie sat up, blinking.

“Is that what happens? The memories live in the house?”

Kath was just about to congratulate herself on engaging him when he cut across her private party with a rush of questions.

“What happens to all our memories from the old house? Are they still there? Can’t we bring them with us? Am I going to have to forget about Bobby and Cole and my little cubby and the climbing tree? And what about Santa and the Tooth Fairy? Are they going to know where we’ve gone? And how can I go to sleep without rubbing the little flap of wallpaper by my pillow?”

He ran out of breath and stared at Kath, forehead creased.

What could she say? That it’d be OK? (It would, by not necessarily tonight). That she knew how he felt? (Even though this was the first she’d heard about the wall paper? It did, however, explain a few of the quick fixes she and Don had had to execute after the big orange moving truck had packed up their lives and carried them away).

She did the only thing she could do: hug him until he squirmed. Then she snuggled in beside him, as she had every night of his life, book in hand. Nowadays they took turns reading paragraphs to each other. She had cried silently, on the last night when she had read to him in what he just now learning to think of as his ‘first bedroom’. She hadn’t been able to picture reading him bedtime stories anywhere else. Now, this strange new room was auditioning for the new role of ‘home’. With the lights low and their voices filling the air, Robbie and Kath took turns closing their eyes and willing this new place to do its job.

Me and The Nobel Prize Winner

I don’t know for sure how I’d vote if I still lived in Scotland, but this is a very interesting article, quoting Nobel economics Prize winner (and former Us Govt adviser) Joseph Stiglitz.

I wholeheartedly agree with these statements:

“One of the things as an outsider I’ve looked at the debate, particularly from the No side, I’ve been a little bit shocked how much of it is based on fear, trying to get anxiety levels up and how little of it has been based on vision.

“There is a vision on the Yes side that I see – what would an independent Scotland be like, what could it do that it can’t do now.”

He’s not saying “vote yes”, but rather pointing out the more positive approach of the “yes” campaign.

And on the issues, I agree again:

“The main issues here are not currency, they’re probably not even North Sea oil. I think the main issue again as an outsider, and not wanting to intervene in any other country’s politics, the question is the vision of society, what do you want to do.”

I particularly liked his point (following on from the second quote) that, by following the American model in education (higher fees), England has become a society of greater inequality, like the US. Scotland has gone the opposite way (no cost to the student for tuition), and it is illustrative of the differences in priorities in the two societies. Likewise the differences in funding the NHS (the govt picks up prescription costs in Scotland).

I don’t see how you can have two such different approaches being governed and funded from the same pot. Surely it will lead to massive resentment from the English about how many benefits the Scots get, and from the Scots that their priorities are being hamstrung by the fact that political decisions on finance are shackled to the contrary English approach to public money and social justice.

Looked at from that perspective I think that, in answer to the question, yes, I think Scotland should be an independent nation.

An amicable split, then? Maybe the Scotland and the rUK would be like one of those divorced couples who get along much better once they remove the stress of trying to live together and constantly comprise their individual needs and values.

“There are risks always in any economic course, there’s risks of doing something and risks of not doing something.”

Further reading:
Canon Kenyon Wright on the The Scottish claim to self-governance and the Road of Fear
– What our UK compatriots will ask for if we stay

Forgetown 1.14 – The Fight For St. Stephen’s Begins

The news was out, of course.

It would have been un-Christlike to say it, but both Fr. Tom and his right-hand woman Jean McGinty knew that the leak about the parish merger could only have come from St. Stephen’s. From their point of view Fr Andrucyzk and his staff thought of it less in terms of a leak and more as ‘the best defence’.

Fr. Andruczyk ‘didn’t do email’, so all his commmunications were intercepted by Sal Lezek who — in this case — gasped thearically, attracting the attention of the Women’s Spirituality Group meeting in the dining room. They all put down their study guides and watched, wide eyed, as Sal rolled past the open door on her way to the kitchen where Fr. A was embarking on his second helping of the donuts the ladies invariably brought for him.

“They’ve gone and done it,” Sal wailed. “They’re closing us down and we’ve all got to go to St. Therese!”

Well, from there, the Women’s Spirituality Group had forgotten all about the Psalms and the meeting broke up in a cacophony of exclamations and half-formed memories, plans for the future and not a few dabs at moist eyes with crumpled Kleenex pulled from the depths of a purse or a sleeve. The ladies all — eventually — went home, stopping along the way to share the news with Flo in the Dollar Store (because her uncle had been a St. Stephen’s priest back in the day, God rest him) and with Andre Marek, who could always be found in Pat’s Kitchen on Steel St at this time of day and who knew more about the history of St Stephen’s than any man alive. Tones of outrage sang down the telephone lines and by the time Fr. Tom was arriving at the St. Stephen’s Parish House for lunch, the “Save St. Stephens” Facebook page had received an extra 754 belated “likes” for a total of 1027. Not impressive numbers, Andre would later comment, but his accountant’s heart coldn’t help but swell at the thought that it was — a quick doodle on his napkin told him — a 73.4% rise on the disappointing number it had stood at for most of the past year, and almost 200% more than the number of people at mass on an average weekend. That had to mean something, didn’t it?

Andre peered at the flat screen of hs phone. With the font bumped up to accommodate his weakening eyesight, he could only see three or four words on each line of the Facebook app. Most of them were in all-caps.

SAVE OUR CHURCH, the screen screamed. The comment came from someone whose name he didn’t recognize.

THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

Andre stabbed at the ‘Read More Comments” option and let his eyes drift down the screen.

[outrage]
[bickering]
[more outrage]

Heat rose to his face. Fumbling, he thumbed into his phone:

“If you care so much where have you been for the past year?”

He stared at the screen. What he had ACTUALLY managed to produce with his arthritic thumbs read,

“If you all. Cars so much where have you been dorky be teas….”

He sighed. He should, he knew, probably take this as a sign that God didn’t want him to add to the vitriol being spread around in His name. His thumb hovered over the ‘delete’ key for a second longer, then he pressed down again until he was left with nothing but an empty comment box and a blinking cursor.

A gum-snapping teenaged waitressed sidled over, waving a coffee pot.

“What’s happening in the world, Mr Marek?”

He looked up at the girl. She was unmistakably kin to Pat-of-Pat’s Kitchen. Probably a granddaugther at this point. What a thought. He didn’t know her name, though he felt he should.

“Change,” he said, laying his phone on the formica table top.

The girl sighed deeply.

“I could go for some of that,” she said, pouring his coffee and turning away.

Andre blinked and watched her go. I got old, he thought. When did that happen?

ForgeTown 1.13 – Lisa Weaver Comes To Call

ForgeTown Cover“Hi-hi!”

A perky, petite blonde lunged at the window in the front door as soon as Kath got near it, and began waving like a hurricane warning flag that takes its job very seriously. Later, Kath would wonder why that particular image had sprung to mind. She added this coincidence to the “pro” side of the ledger that she’d begun to keep in her head for the arguments for and against the existence of a divine being. The woman herself she would later add to the column tallying the ‘con’s.

But all that was in the future.

For now, all that Kath Rodriguez knew was that there was a very excitable stranger on her front door step and she was carrying a sheaf of leaflets and what looked like an honest-to-God picnic basket. And she could swear there were brownies in it.

Oh what the hell, Kath through. She doesn’t look much like a serial killer. Plus: brownies. She opened the door.

“Hi-hi!” the woman squeaked again, even higher than before. “I’m Lisa Weaver. I saw the moving truck this morning so I guess that means we’re neighbors! That’s us over there,” she pointed to somewhere behind the house, on the diagonal. “Not the awful red house, but the Orchid White one — you’ll be able to see us from your deck. The people before you never used the deck much, but we are always out on ours. Can’t get enough of the fresh air. It’s so good for the kids to be outside, don’t you think?”

Bustling forward while she spoke, the woman had managed to end up inside the front door and was charging towards the uncleared kitchen table that cowered in a corner of the dining room, surrounded by packing crates.

“Oh, look at me! I feel quite at home. We have the same model, only ours is flipped from this, our door is over there and our family room is here. And of course we upgraded our kitchen last year, you must let me give you the name of our contractor. They were just the best. I can’t believe the Patels never did anything with this kitchen in all the years they lived here, but you know how those people are. Never want to pay for anything and always moving in more relatives until the house is overflowing. I mean, I’m don’t mean to sound racist, but, sometimes these stereotypes get made for a reason, you know what I mean?”

Kath, who had been trailed after Lisa Weaver, sweeping up cheesesteak wrappers as she went,  started to laugh. Then she stopped, realizing Lisa Weaver wasn’t joining her. Had she just imagined that? Or had Lisa Weaver introduced herself with a casual crack about 20% of the world’s population?

I should tell her that’s unacceptable, Kath thought. I should ask her to leave and come back when she’s got a civil tongue in her head. I should tell her I’ll get my friend Monisha down here to set her straight on a few choice issues and then we’d see where we stand. But none of these things came out of her mouth. In truth, she didn’t have the words to deal with this. In Kath’s circle you hid your prejudices, pretended they didn’t exist and felt guilty about them until you trained your brain to (over)compensate for its bad behavior.

“That’s better,” Lisa Weaver said, placing the basket down on the table. “Now, I didn’t catch your name.”

Kath stared. What was her name, again?

“Kath,” she managed at last. “Kath Rodriguez.”

“Well, hi Kath!” Lisa Weaver chimed in the tones of a support group leader. “And I saw a handsome man and some gorgeous kids running around this morning?”

Lisa Weaver blinked expectantly at Kath.

Suddenly Kath didn’t want to tell this woman anything about her family. She didn’t want the names “Don” and “Stella” and “Robbie” (or was it “Robert” now?) coming out of that mouth. Somehow she knew that Lisa Weaver would be spending the rest of the day wearing her badge of First Contact With The New Neighbors and polishing it up in front of everyone she met, telling them all the little details she’d manage to winkle out of Kath, speculating and judging and packaging and popping them on a shelf. No matter where you lived, no matter where you worked, there was always one.

She briefly flirted with the idea of telling Lisa Weaver that she had hired some actors to play her family in order to seem more acceptable to the Home Owners’ Association. Or maybe she could tell them that Don and she weren’t married and those kids she’d seen had been bought from gypsies and kept only for household chores. She pictured the pert little face forming a horrified ‘o’ and then reassembling itself into fake friendship. Then she heard herself saying,

“That was my husband, Don Morris, and the kids are Stella and Robbie. Eleven and nine.”

She even smiled.

“Oh!” Lisa Weaver said, eyebrows arched, blue eyes widening. “You’re a Rodriguez, but he’s a Morris. Do you hyphenate? Isn’t it mostly an African-American thing? Oh, and it sounds like your son will be in fourth grade, right? How wonderful! He’ll be in my Loren’s grade. It’ll be so great for them to have each other right here in the neighborhood. It’s a good school, of course, but Loren hasn’t really hit it off with too many of the boys — he’s so bright, you see, it’s hard for them to communicate on the same level — but he has plenty of friends of course. Will Robbie be signing up for football in the Fall? I can have a word with Coach Tony and see if we can squeeze him on to my Loren’s team. Of course that’ll mean you can’t go away for Labor Day — were you planning to? — Because they have mandatory practice for their first game that weekend, but it’s so worth it — such a great team, division champions every year — and it’s never too soon to start thinking about that college scholarship, is it? I think Loren will be QB this year, he’s such a fast little thing. Oh! We can carpool, that’ll be just great, because Kaelyn’s soccer schedule conflicts sometimes — she’s the youngest in the club but the coaches keep asking if they can move her up to the competitive teams because she has such a gift for the game. It’s hard because you know you want them just to have fun, but on the other hand you don’t want to hold them back.” At last, Lisa Weaver paused and took a breath. “You know?”

Kath’s grip tightened on the greasy foil she had scooped up from the table. She was holding on tight because otherwise she a feeling that her world would spin away from her somehow. All she managed in response was a noncommittal nod of the head.

Lisa Weaver brightened again and pointed at the leaflets she had strewn across the table.

“Oh, and I picked these up for you at the visitor’s center in Valley Forge Park. There’s SO much to do in this area, and then of course, there’s sports for the kids and all the festivals that they run in town these days. I keep my kids so busy that there’s no time for them to get into trouble! Good practice for when they’re teenagers, don’t you think? I’m so happy we’ve met and I’ll be glad to be your Welcome Wagon. I’ll make sure you know about all the neighborhood happenings,” (she said ‘neighborhood happenings’, Kath would later tell Don. She really did.) “and we must-Must-MUST get the boys together soon!”

Getting no further response from Kath, who looked as dazed as she felt, Lisa Weaver nodded briskly and said,

“Well, I can see you have a ton to do here.” She cast an appraising eye around at the packing crates and mover-strewn furniture. “I’ll let you get on. But if you need anything — ANYTHING — just come on over. Or you can always stand on your deck and yell. We’re always out there! See you soon, neighbor!”

And with that, she was gone.

If Kath had felt marooned before, now she felt utterly shipwrecked. And possibly beset by pirates.