lydamorehouse: (yaoi)
I have written here, in the past, about how I have suspected that some of my International Pen Friends, who have sent me "rejection" letters, after a few back-and-forths, might have done so because I chose to come out to them as a lesbian. I have no ACTUAL proof, of course.  No one has ever written to say, "I'm sorry I can't write to you any more; you are a disgusting queer."  Mostly, they say, "Oh, jeez, look at the time. I committed to writing to you, but suddenly I can't because.... uh, BUSY.  HONEST." Yet, these letters (I've gotten two) would IMMEDIATELY follow my telling them that, yeah, actually "Shawn" is a lady, and my wife.

Now, I should be clear, I've had a number of success stories. My pen pal in Netherlands who loves "F.R.I.E.N.D.S." has a lesbian daughter, so coming out to her was a no-brainer. Both of my Australians could care less. Another one of my German pen friends is clearly a LITTLE prickly about it, but my sense is she's kind of prickly about a LOT of things. :-)

But, here's a new piece in the puzzle of "What is up with the conservative streak in pen friends?"  

A couple of entries ago, I explained FBs (Friend Books).  Several days ago a random person in Maryland who found my name on a FB, sent me a pile of them.  Most of them were half-way full and this Maryland correspondent had included her name in all of them, like you do.  However.  One of them was from that someone I shall call "Cass," who started one for herself.  She had a long entry on her front cover about the various things she was interested in and things she'd be willing to swap, all very typical stuff.  Then she adds, "I am bi, open-minded pen pals only, please." 

No one had added their name.

Not one soul.

Not even the person who sent it to me, who had put her name in literally every other FB.

Despite a plea from Cass that the FB be "passed quickly." 

I know I live in the era of Trump, when people boldly and proudly wear their bigotry on their sleeves. Yet, pen palling, by its nature, seemed to me to be the sort of hobby that would naturally attract people who were interested in other people. It's a hobby that requires you to talk to strangers. The entire POINT of pen friends is to reach out, sometimes across international borders, with a hand out in friendship.  

Of course I wrote to Cass. I sent her a picture of my family, a short introductory note that suggested that we could be pals, and sent her a pile of FBs to "swap," hoping that somewhere in all of them, she would find someone else who would write back.  I added my name to the FB that she started and sent it on to a friend who I know is open-minded, even though she isn't part of the pen palling community.  

But, I don't entirely understand it.  I mean, yes, pen palling is an old-fashioned kind of hobby. I guess maybe that 'old-fashionedness' lends itself to certain stereotype of a stay-at-home mom, who is lonely... but I still don't see how that lends itself to "eew, gay!" Also what are these people worried about? That we're going to write long letters detailing our sex lives?  No, I'm just as boring a pen pal as anyone else. I talk about my failed garden projects and my cats.  Do you suppose other pen pals are worried about being hit on?  Even though I explain I am MARRIED with kids.

It's weird and baffling, and it makes me sad.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Did I read anything this week?  I'm actually not sure. I _do_ have a pile of things that I'm planning on reading, however.  Does that count?

What did I do INSTEAD of reading? I wish I knew. Part of this, I think, is getting back into the "Back to School" mode.  Mason was sick with a cold late last week (he missed school on Friday), and then Shawn promptly caught it.  So I've been doing a lot of nursemaiding.  

Ugh. Work just called. They wanted me to go into New Brighton's' branch tonight and work 5 to 8.  I probably should have said yes, but I work both tomorrow and Friday.  

Also? It's MasterChef's finale tonight.

I know this sounds stupid, but ever since Mason was very small we have, as a family, been fans of MasterChef.  It's the one network TV show we actually tune in for.  All three of us gather in the TV room upstairs and adjust the rabbit ears so that we can watch the show.  It's not even all that great. Most people would probably prefer The Great British Baking Show or Iron Chef.  Not us. We're faithful to Gordon Ramsey and his disappointed looks and rants about things that are "rawr." 

For once, too, the contestants left standing at the end are all weirdos.  There's one white guy, but he's fully tattooed, bleach blond, and heroin-addict skinny... and a super-odd, with very Italian-American from Brooklyn accent.  Currently, I'm rooting for Jason, an Asian-American guy who comes with a male partner, kind of BECAUSE he's gay (though he is one of the most cheerful people they've had on).  The other contestant is Eboni, a black woman from Chicago.  We like them all.  This is one of the few times where we won't be disappointed with whoever wins.

Skipping work for TV, though?  Probably I'm going to hell.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Today, in the mail, I got a thick envelope from someone I didn't know in Revere, MA. Most of my pen pals from the International Pen Friends (IPF) are, well, international... so I was curious what this thick envelope might contain. I opened it up and out came a veritable ton of what are called "Friendship Books" (FBs.)

I couldn't figure out how I'd been gifted with this "bounty," until I discovered that one of the FBs was started for me, by one of my German pen pals.

Friendship Books are hard to explain. Wikipedia has an article about them, but it doesn't entirely do them justice. The ones I've seen are small, a quarter of a sheet of paper in size. They're handmade, often very crudely--nothing more than colored paper, side-stapled together.  On the front is a person's name and address.  This little booklet is then sent on to pen pals, each of them writing their name and address in it, and passing it along to one of THEIR pen pals, almost like a chain letter, except the idea is to fill the booklet up with people interested in receiving new pen pals. Once the book is filled, it's sent back to the person whose name is on the front/top.

EXCEPT.

There's all these unspoken rules.  Sometimes people send FBs just to see how far they'll go around the world before they come back, so, if you're using the FB to find more pen pals, you have to examine each entry carefully. Some people will just sign their name and something like, "Waving from Cleveland Ohio, and passing on!" 

There are all these codes involved: SNNP (Sorry No New Pen Pals) or NPW (New Pen Pals Wanted) or LLW (Long Letter Writer) or AS (Answers Some), as opposed to AA (Answers All).  They will often include date of birth, because a lot of pen pal seekers want to converse only with people their age. They'll also list the languages they're comfortable writing in--which has been frustrating for me. I've been trying to land a Japanese pen pal, but the ONE I spotted in a FB only wanted pen pals in Korean.  (You may be scratching your head, but international pen pals often use correspondence as a way to practice/keep up on their English/foreign language skills.)  I also actually saw someone who listed, and I kid you not, Esperanto as one of the languages they'd correspond in.  People will include lists of interests: puppies! Unicorns! Heavy Metal music! (or, another one I saw from a different Japanese FBer "I love Jesus!")

But, so I got this huge pile and for the first time went through several of them looking for the words "FB and slam swappers needed" which meant that they were willing to accept FBs, because, honestly, I kind of hate the pressure of having a bunch laying around that I haven't sent out yet.  This is the other way in which these remind me of chain letters, honestly. I have this weird sense of "AH, I should do something with this immediately!"  Anyway, I managed to unload a bunch of them that way.

I have to admit to enjoying reading through these things, strange as they are.  When I was showing these to my friend Naomi today, I read one of the longer ones in which this person wanted to swap: "FBs, postcards, teabags, magnets, bookmarks, pocket letters, ATC, flip books, washi." And, suddenly we were like, "What are pocket letters??"

So we Googled it and found that pocket letters are a crafter's answer to pen palling. You thought this was about writing to people? NOPE. This is a f*cking art form!  Pocket letters are where you fill up a nine-pocket trading card protector with cute things, like stickers, tea bags, pictures, or whatever you like and then send them to someone who will send something similar to you. You collect them in a three-ring binder, kind of like scrapbooking for strangers.

It seems kind of cool.  I may have to try it.

I feel like if I go deep enough into this pen palling culture, I'll be ready to write an exposé for Vanity Fair or Teen Vogue.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I just found out that AO3 has a Trick or Treat Fic Exchange

Every year I participate in one way or another in Yuletide, which is an annual fan fic gift exchange that was, according to Fanlore, started in 2003.  I've only been doing it for, maybe two or three years, being, as always a latecomer to fandom.

I often forget to sign-up on time, so the past couple of years I've enjoyed being what they call a "pinch hitter." Yuletide is very strict about gifts. If you're supposed to be getting one, they do NOT want you to wake up on Christmas morning with an empty in-box.  But, life happens. Sometimes someone who promised a fic literally gets in a car accident or finals week crushes them.  So, there's a hoard of volunteers, myself included, who take up the slack. A gifter is supposed to default by a certain day and the pinch hit lists start showing up in my in-box. But, batches come all the way up to the night before.  It's kind of an amazing process. I also use the pinch hit list to write what are called "treats" where you can just go ahead an write something to someone's request as an extra.  I have done this in the past for very weird fandoms, like the person who really, really wanted a Munchkin Cthulu fic (although that may actually have been assigned).

Point is, I love pinch hitting. I often write fic fast enough that getting an assignment for 2,000+ words the night before is no big deal. 

The Trick or Treat Exchange also looks fun. The requirement is tiny, 300 word minimum?  The other thing that seems to be fun about the Trick or Treat Exchange is that, unlike Yuletide, there is no popularity restriction.  (Yuletide focuses on fandoms that have less than 1000 works of fic posted on Archive of Our Own.)  So, for instance, I saw that Bleach was listed for the Trick or Treat Exchange (thanks to me, Bleach has WAY TOO MANY fics otherwise... and, I'm kidding, of course. It wasn't just me, I'm sure Bleach had over a thousand fics years and years before I joined.).  The point is, for the Trick or Treat Exchange, I could potentially ask for or write a Bleach fic.

So I am tempted. The exchange i currently open and I am considering.  I'll have to read the rules carefully to see if it's something I'm really up for.

I'm pretty sure the fans of my never ending fic soap opera would be furious to find me off writing treats for other people, when they've been so patiently waiting for an update.  

Anyway.

Happy Friday everyone.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
QSF Renewal-Print

QSF has a new book out, the latest in our series of flash fiction anthologies:

Re.new.al (noun)

1) Resuming an activity after an interruption, or
2) Extending a contract, subscription or license, or
3) Replacing or repairing something that is worn out, run-down, or broken, or
4) Rebirth after death.

Four definitions to spark inspiration, a limitless number of stories to be conceived. Only 110 made the cut.

Thrilling to hopeful, Renewal features 300-word speculative fiction ficlets about sexual and gender minorities to entice readers.

Welcome to Renewal.

Mischief Corner Books (info only) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Goodreads





Renewal Banner

Excerpt

Because these stories are only 300 words each, we’re not supplying long excerpts, but here are the first lines of several of the stories. Enjoy!

“Griselda pulled the weeds from between the rows of Valerianella locusta plants in the garden, careful not to disturb the buds that would grow into the babies that were her only real income-producing crop.” —The Witches’ Garden, by Rie Sheridan Rose

“I didn’t know how truly the world was in trouble until I went journeying to look for Anisette’s bluebonnets.” —Bluebonnets, by Emily Horner

“The ship’s drive malfunctioned at the worst possible time.” —The Return, by Andrea Speed

“Before we continue, there’s a rather macabre fact about me I should share.” —Rejuvenation, by Christine Wright

“When I died they buried me at the bottom of the garden and returned to the fields.” —Below the Hill, by Matthew Bright

“The world is ending and I can’t look away from your eyes.” —Sunrise, by Brigitte Winter

““Losing one’s superpowers to your arch nemesis sucks donkey nuts, I tell ya. And trust me when I say I suck a lot of them.” —Rainbow Powers, by Dustin Karpovich

“The day I was born again was damp, rainy—a good day for rebirth, all things considered.” —The Birthing Pod, by Michelle Browne

“Intwir's twelve eyes roved over the container, taking in the cracked outer lock and the elasticated fabric stretched tightly over its exterior.” —In a Bind, by S R Jones

“‘You’ve reached Androgyne HelpLine. Press one to start service. Press two to interrupt or cancel service. Press three—’” —Auto-Renew, by Ginger Streusel

“The doctor tells me that my wife is dying, but I already know.” —I Will Be Your Shelter, by Carey Ford Compton

“‘San Francisco was the first to go dark, followed by Los Angeles.’” —When Light Left, by Lex Chase

“My fingers lingered on the synthetic skin, trailing soft patterns across my work.” —Miss You, by Stephanie Shaffer




Included Authors

'Nathan Burgoine
A.M. Leibowitz
A.M. Soto
Abby Bartle
Aidee Ladnier
Alexis Woods
Andi Deacon
Andrea Felber Seligman
Andrea Speed
Andrea Stanet
Anne McPherson
Bey Deckard
Brigitte Winter
Carey Ford Compton
Carol Holland March
Carrie Pack
Catherine Lundoff
CB Lee
Christine Wright
Colton Aalto
Daniel Mitton
Dustin Blottenberger
Dustin Karpovich
E R Zhang
E.J. Russell
E.W. Murks
Ell Schulman
Ellery Jude
Eloreen Moon
Elsa M León
Emily Horner
Eric Alan Westfall
F.T. Lukens
Fenrir Cerebellion
Foster Bridget Cassidy
Ginger Streusel
Hannah Henry
Irene Preston
J. Alan Veerkamp
J. P. Egry
J. Summerset
J.S. Fields
Jaap Boekestein
Jackie Keswick
Jana Denardo
Jeff Baker
Jenn Burke
Joe Baumann
John Moralee
Jon Keys
Jude Dunn
K.C. Faelan
Kelly Haworth
Kiterie Aine
Kristen Lee
L M Somerton
L. Brian Carroll
L.M. Brown
L.V. Lloyd
Laurie Treacy
Leigh M. Lorien
Lex Chase
Lia Harding
Lin Kelly
Lloyd A. Meeker
Lyda Morehouse
M.D. Grimm
Martha J. Allard
Mary E. Lowd
Matt Doyle
Matthew Bright
Mia Koutras
Michelle Browne
Milo Owen
Mindy Leana Shuman
Naomi Tajedler
Natsuya Uesugi
Nephy Hart
Nicole Dennis
Ofelia Gränd
Patricia Scott
Paul Stevens
PW Covington
R R Angell
R.L. Merrill
Rebecca Cohen
Redfern Jon Barrett
Reni Kieffer
Richard Amos
RL Mosswood
Robyn Walker
Rory Ni Coileain
Rose Blackthorn
Ross Common
S R Jones
Sacchi Green
Sarah Einstein
Shilo Quetchenbach
Siri Paulson
Soren Summers
Stephanie Shaffer
Steve Fuson
Tam Ames
Terry Poole
Tray Ellis
Vivien Dean
Wendy Rathbone
Xenia Melzer
Zen DiPietro
Zev de Valera
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I'm beginning to realize why I previously never participated in these. Okay, the honest truth is that I didn't entirely realize they existed, but, the other part is that, because I hang out with science fiction/fantasy fans who tend to be voracious in their reading habits, I always feel woefully under read.  

Once again, which is, as I have noted in the past, very typical of me, I did read a graphic novel.  I read volume 5 of Ten Count

I have on my TBR pile a couple of manga that I have actually been dreading reading.  My beloved manga Gangsta. had a spin-off called Gangsta.: Cursed.  I read the first few chapters when they appeared online, but I gave up on them because the format they were being pirated in was hard to read and, more importantly, they were so, so violent and bloody.  The mangaka wrote them, but she did not illustrate them.  Since they don't follow a character I much cared for, I let them go. But the library had the complete two volume run, so I thought: "Okay, I should be a completist and finally read these."  

And yet there they sit.

I will probably bite the bullet and read them next however.

Mason also really wants me to read Scarlet, which is the sequel to Cinder, which I listened to the audio book of years ago and liked. He's a big fan of the series, so I agreed to try to pick it up.  That's probably the big book I'll be reading next.  Since I work at the library today, I will probably troll Locus Magazine for more recommendations.

How about you?
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Yesterday was a fun mail day.  

One of the very best parts of being a member of the International Pen Friends (IPF) is that, occasionally, the postal carrier delivers FIVE personal letters, all addressed to you.  Two of them were from my regular Canadian pen friend. She's an actual friend who became a pen pal, and her letters are always a delight. We didn't actually know each other terribly well when we started corresponding, but we knew each other from exchanges in Bleach fandom.  She's a lot like my friend in Seattle, who I knew passably before we started corresponding (she was a writing student of mine) and we've become closer thanks to years of letter writing.  I got my Seattle pen friend by asking Facebook for volunteers. 

Of the other letters that arrived were:

1.  A letter from Malta.  MALTA, you guys.  The other nifty thing about my Maltese correspondent is that she got my name not from IPF, but from one of the various FBs that I've participated in.  I had genuinely never HEARD of Friendship Books until one of my German pen pals, Petra, introduced me to them. I still think they're kind of weird. Just slips of paper or homemade booklets with people's addresses in them and odd codes. Seriously, SNNP (sorry no new pen pals) and NPW (new pen pals wanted) that are passed in the mail a little like a chain letter, without the pressure, because you can always return it to the original sender. 

But, Malta, that's cool. I hope my reply entices another from her.

2. I seem to have finally snagged a correspondent from the UK.  You would not think this would be SO hard.  English/UK addresses easily make up a third of what's on offer for an English-speaker like myself on any given IPF list.  Yet, despite faithfully writing to all of them, I have only ever gotten one previous reply from anyone in England and that was a "rejection." Somehow, I seem to have passed muster with someone there finally. Fingers crossed this winning streak continues. Interestingly, in my grand experiment of "should I come out right away or not?" in the introduction letter I sent this one (Kate) I decidedly did NOT. So, I should probably return to my strategy of, "wait until they know you pretty well before you reveal that you're a big, old butch lesbian." I already took a chance revealing to Kate that I'm an otaku.  Let's see if I can weather that storm!

3. The last one was also a new IPF member, this one from France. I have a couple of other French correspondents, but they seem to have slowed down.  The thing about IPF is that it's like any kind of blind matching site.  Even when you're willing to try anyone, some people click better than others.  This is why I sprang for a half-year renewal because I wanted another list so that I could keep throwing out feelers.  

Anyway, I know all of this stuff is likely only really fascinating to me.  I have always been interested in other people's lives and this is a fun way for me to explore that.  I was writing to my Maltese pen pal last night explaining how I got into pen palling.  I have discovered that many of the people who are in IPF have been members since they were teenagers. It's a hobby that they've kept all their lives, unlike me. I hunted up IPF because I remembered being assigned a pen pal in 4th grade or thereabouts. There was a time in the 1970s when pen palling was kind of the 'it' hobby, particularly among teenage girls. At least, that's how it seemed to me back then, at any rate.  I wasn't into it then, though the idea intrigued me. I was a fairly terrible correspondent, too, when I did have the opportunity, probably because I imagined that somehow I would have an instant foreign friend, with whom I could share the secrets of my soul, etc., etc.  In 1970, I would have killed for a French pen pal. Instead I got someone from Japan. Ironically, I found that annoying at the time. Japan? Who's even heard of it?  Why is this girl sending me all this crap with a weird kitty on it??

Ah, things that are wasted on the young, eh?

I wrote a lot of letters to friends and family when I was in college.  To be fair, that was how we communicated before the internet, but I have always liked the feel of pen on paper.  There is something, too, about sharing your thoughts with just one person at a time.  Obviously, you can still do that with private messaging and e-mail, but a letter is more sensual--in that it appeals to all the senses.  

Plus, shit shows up in the mail.  I love when shit shows up in the mail.  Did I mention I got 5 letters yesterday??? FIVE!
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
With Labor Day and our very brief trip back to LaCrosse, I completely forgot to post anything.... and I'm not entirely sure which day of the week this is. Thursday? Yeah, that seems right. I guess I missed Wednesday Reading, but the only thing I managed this week was all 48 chapters of Kiss Him, Not Me / Watashi ga Motete Dōsunda by Junko (no relation, despite the fact that Junko is my fan pen name) a shoujo, reverse-harem manga that I actually really enjoyed.  Normally, I'm not a fan of either sub-genre, but this was very well done. Though I spent a lot of time having deep introspection about how much of an otaku I am, and whether or not that's actually a GOOD thing.  (The heroine is an otaku who is into yaoi and shipping her male friends with each other.)

You?

But, so for the rest. I went back to LaCrosse only for a day because my parents are in the process of moving their house and so didn't have a huge amount of time for our usual Labor Day visit. We stayed at an AmericInn, which was possibly okay--we had a kind of crappy room, right off the pool with a vending machine just outside our door (thus a high traffic area), PLUS we were the very first room off one of the entry doors, which meant when people went out for a smoke it was right outside our window. That sucked and felt deeply unfair, since thanks to our big Yellowstone trip, we're VIP AmericInn members.  Probably we should have hassled the front desk for a better room, but we were only there for one night and didn't want to bother.  

It took us forever to get to LaCrosse for some reason. We left right at the usual time (around 8:30), but didn't roll in until nearly 12:30.  LaCrosse is not that far away. We did make an extended stop at Lark Toys to play a round of mini-golf, but I would not have thought that we were there THAT long (but apparently we were.)  We went to Rudy's for lunch, which is another last-of-summer tradition, which was nice.  Rudy's is one of those old-fashioned drive-ins and still has waitresses on roller skates to bring out your food. The food is decent, but it's an experience more than anything. From there we went antique shopping in the quaint section of the North Side called Old Towne North. There's not actually THAT many stores here, but the Sweet Shop (which really does have awesome ice-cream and a fountain soda dispenser) is there, too.  It is a neat little part of town. My only disappointment is that they've never quite been able to keep a coffee shop going there, though it should be an ideal location.  

Then we went to see my folk's new place and said good-bye to the old. Dinner was at the Pizza Hut that I swear has not changed since I was in high school (1980-1985.) I was pretty exhausted from the road, so I didn't even notice all the foot traffic in the hallway outside our hotel room and promptly crashed ridiculously early.  At some point, when we visit LaCrosse again, I would actually like to experience some of its nightlife, of which there is a TON.  

On Saturday morning we had breakfast at the Hungry Peddler. My folks joined us there. The Hungry Peddler is a big nostalgia trip for me, since my dad and I used to go there a lot when I was younger.  Then my family and I attempted to do a tourist thing in LaCrosse and find the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I have linked to a blog of someone who had a wonderful time there.  We did not. I kind of think that they could sense we were pagans trespassing, and so we only really saw the interpretative center and couldn't figure out how the heck to get up to the actual shrine.  We left disappointed.

Then we drove back in record time.  In fact, we zipped back to St. Paul so fast that I managed to miss seeing my friend Paul who was headed down to LaCrosse for a funeral.  I did managed to catch up with Paul on Tuesday, which was nice. Paul is probably one of my oldest remaining friends... that I actually make time to see. I mean, I have a ton of old high school pals that I'm in touch with on Facebook and other social media, but Paul is someone I will actually seek out to hang out with in person.

We hung out with Rosemary and her mom on Sunday because Mason wasn't sure if he was going to end up with ANY classes with his BFF, but it turns out they have Foundations (Washington's answer to homeroom) and debate together.  Mason came back from his first day of school absolutely bouncing.... literally. At one point I had to tell him to stop, I was afraid he was going to shake plates off the shelves in the kitchen.  But, he LOVES high school--as I knew he would. Things start to get interesting and challenging now and he's been kind of waiting his whole life for classes like that.  (Luckily, he's had a few, having been advanced into a couple of high school classes while he was in middle school.) He did not have to change school, which was nice, especially, as I said, he's already been doing some high school classes.  

So, that's me. I'm sure I forgot some of the things we did, but I will try to be better about posting here.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 The weirdest thing about being a member of the IPF (International Pen Friends) is that occasionally, the people you reach out to feel compelled to write back to tell you they don't want you as a pen pal. Part of how IPF works is that, once you pay your membership fee, you're given a list of names and addresses. They're all also members of IPF, of course, but it's your job to write to each one of them and to basically try to be interesting and clever enough to provoke a response.  

With my first set of pen friends, I never mentioned being gay.  I mean, in all honesty, it's both a really huge part of my life and nothing much at all. Literally, all it means is that instead of writing 'my spouse, he', I write 'my spouse, she.' It's not like by coming out I'm hoping to write the sordid details of my love life in erotic detail.  But, at the same time, it has felt disingenuous to be silent.  So, with this mid-year list, I've been trying to just casually let it drop early.  

Very casually.

And, of course, I have no idea whether or not this recent rejection is because of that, or because, in fact, the person on the other end wanted to be clear that it was NOT that.  

Regardless, I find this compulsion weird. To go to the effort to send an aerogram?  (I honest-to-gods did NOT know those things still existed!) Just to say, "I won't be writing back"?  Why not just not write back. Most people don't, honestly. This is partly why I opted for the 15 name list.  Out of fifteen, I expected to end up with two or three decent, consistent pen friends.... and that seems about right.

It's also just kind of mean. I mean, I went to the mailbox yesterday and saw an AEROGRAM! I was like, "Oooh! What is??" and then it's all, "I regret to inform you that health issues keep me from being your pen friend. Best of luck."  

V. sad.

Ah, well. 

My foot is achy today, but I'm able to put more pressure on it. Before I head out to my usual Wednesday gathering, I'm going to take a couple more ibuprofen and try to stay off it. I know that I'm probably still pushing it. Sprains take FOREVER to heal.  But, of course, now that I HAVE to rest my foot, I suddenly want to paint the house and do all the projects!  That's just how it goes, isn't it?

Oh, and today is reading Wednesday, isn't it???
 
I'm a little more than a third of the way into Witches of New York by Ami McKay.  It's a dense read, so it's slow going.  I might be on this one for some time yet.  Otherwise... boy, it's been a tough week. I've been finishing up watching the anime of "Pandora Hearts," while I do the dishes. I've got about 5 more episodes left, then it's on to something else. I'll have to decide what. I think I have a To Be Watched list of anime that's about a mile long.

How about you? Reading or watching anything interesting lately? 

lydamorehouse: (aizen's return)
 Yesterday I managed to sprain... my instep? the arch of my foot?... doing nothing more than bending down, while gardening.  I'm doing R.I.C.E.(Rest. Ice. Compress. Elevate.)  It hurt like CRAZY yesterday, but after a good night's sleep and a bunch of ibuprofen, I can put a decent amount of pressure on it now without feeling like I want to scream.

I have no idea what I did. Twist wrong? Step down funny? Stretch?

It makes me feel old. But, I'm going to keep resting it, and if I can feel the same amount better that I did between yesterday and today, I should be back to new (or old, as the case may be) in no time.

This is what I get for attempting to sweep and clear out the front gardens a little.  Lesson, children?  Don't do any more housework than absolutely necessary. You could hurt yourself.
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
We spent a lot of time baking this weekend.  Shawn made pumpkin & cranberry muffins, some pecan pinwheels.  I made cinnamon swirl bread, pizza dough, and French bread.... Oh, and we both made a blueberry pie:

blueberry pie with a moon cut-out

The artist flair happened when I realized I'd cracked the pie crust. So, I decided to repeat the design intentionally around the crust and then add the moon cut-out. As my friend [personal profile] jiawen says it's sort of a reverse eclipse pie.

I do a lot of things like this when the politics suck. Remember how right before the election I spent days and days on lawn care? Well, it's been raining here a bunch (though nothing like Houston, HOLY SH*T) and so I couldn't get out to do any weeding or mowing or raking. Thus, much baking.  This current administration is going to make me gain five thousand pounds.

On the flip side, the house smells AMAZING. And there are a lot of leftovers.

The other thing that happen is that on Friday, a gift arrived in the mail! At CONvergence, I promised my friend in Oregon,[personal profile] offcntr ,  that I would send him a signed copy of Seanen McGuire's Rosemary and Rue.  In exchange, he offered pottery.

handmade poetry, looking down, with a falcon visible painted in the well of the bowl

This is what I got!  Lovely, isn't it? It is now displayed prominently in our dinning room next to my stamping things.  A place of honor!  If you like the look of this, you should check out the rest of Frank's wears at: www.offcenter.biz !!

The other stuff that happened this weekend is that Mason went to the State Fair with his friend Rosemary.  Rosemary and her mom always run the 5K "Milk Run" at the crack of dawn (sometime after 7 am?) and Mason is their official "purse holder." In exchange, they get him a free ticket to the State Fair and they all hang out together for as long as my little extroverted introvert can take it.  Mason is extroverted enough that he likes going to things like this, but he's an introvert at heart and he leaves the party early with decreased energy, if you know what I mean. When he came home he had to hide in his room for several hours just to recharge his people-battery.  We had been hoping to hit the Munchkin Tournament  at Mischief Books & Games, but Mason just could NOT any more people.

This ended up working out just fine for me, because we had planned a big Sunday roast chicken dinner, and the timing would have been difficult if we'd run off to do the tournament.  The food was amazing. The French bread and blueberry pie, both HUGE successes.  I tried a simple roasted Brussel sprouts recipe that was... okay. Both Mason and I like Brussel sprouts, but I have been struggling to find a recipe that's tasty.  I swear I make them differently every Thanksgiving. Everything else was delicious. Shawn is only moderately fond of mashed potatoes so we ended up having hominy as our other side.  It worked pretty well, but I missed having an extra thing to slather with gravy and so had to do with extra helpings of "gravy bread."  :-)

So. Many. Extra. Pounds.

Though, if they all come from such good food, I will pat my round belly and sigh in happy contentment.  


lydamorehouse: (Default)

dream daddy:

 If you're at a bar and get talking to this guy.  Don't go home with him right away. Yeah, you'll get laid, but you'l regret it. It's such a bad idea. He won't return your messages. And I get the feeling I broke his heart. I think maybe he's deeply a big softy.  

So, yeah, I fell into this game: Dream Daddy.  Dream Daddy is a video game for Steam. It's a dating simulator that was developed by some YouTube gamers known a The Game Grumps

In Dream Daddy, you play as the single dad to Amanda, a decent, if slightly troubled teen. The two of you move to a new town and, BY CHANCE, settle into the gayest cul-de-sac in the history of ever.  All of your neighbors are hot, single dads, all of them, to some degree or another, dateable.  (There is one married guy, but he's so classically repressed that I'm not sure I'd touch him with a ten foot pole. Youth minister. Sure, buddy. Plus? I ran into your wife at the bar and she was all over me!)

There are things I don't like about this game, but a lot of things I do. I like that you can chose to be a gay single dad from the start. You can have adopted Amanda with your husband. OR you can be bi, having been married to a woman and birthed her in the traditional ways. I initially went with bi. When I restarted (I'm playing two games concurrently because of my deep shame at my sluttiness. I'm fairly worried I can no longer go after the guy pictured above, having had my one night stand with him).  I was sort of hoping for slightly different storytelling if I was out as gay from the start, but that's the case, alas.  

Currently, that's my biggest issue with the game. A lot of the dialogue is exactly the same, no matter what you choose. When I restarted, I had to fast forward a lot, which makes the replay value kind of low.  

You also don't get a many choices as i'd like, and your character is pretty set to be one way no matter how you might prefer to play him.  For instance, I would have loved the option to say "MARRY ME RIGHT NOW" to the Goth guy the instant I found out he had Naruto slash in his LIBRARY.  You're actually kind of insulting to Damien (the Goth) in unnecessary ways.  You're not allowed to understand high tea and you say, "well, that's odd" to things *I* would have said, "OMG, so charming! I'm in love a little!"

I'm also personally  not introverted, but this character is. I found that annoying because the default is to be like, "Oh, I'm sorry, I don't like crowds" when real me is like, "WHY WON'T YOU GO THERE, ME-DAD!?

And, after I slept with the bruiser above I didn't have the option, when messaging him on the Dad Board, to APOLOGIZE.  I would have loved to have had an option there of, "act like nothing happened" or "awkwardly apologize" or "ask for round two! Va-va-voom!" (You usually get three choices on what to say, kind of all in this sort of range.)  But, instead the character defaulted to 'act like nothing happened' and that was when I decided to re-start the game and NOT BE SUCH A SLUT.

That being said, the dialogue is pretty funny (the first time around, at any rate) and at several times when Mason was watching me play over my shoulder he looked at me and said, "Ima, this guy is kind of you. I can hear all of this in your voice."

So, there is that.
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
I think the ONLY thing I managed to read this week was SKIM by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. It was a good, if a bit depressing. I mean things turn around by the end, but getting there was kind of rough.  Read more... )

But, yeah, I don't know what happened to me, otherwise. I started THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF HOPE by Claire North, despite the fact that I bounced out of her THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST. I'm not feeling it so far, but I'm also not very far in. I will give it my traditional 50 pages to make or break.  

I know a lot of people who will slog through a book that they've started because they're just that sort: they're completists or stubborn or deeply optimistic (hoping it will turn around at some point!).  With my dyslexia, mild though it may be, I can't do that. If I'm struggling with getting into a book, that slows me down to a crawl and, because I'm also a serial reader, that means I'm not reading anything else.  

So, I've developed a litmus test.  If I'm still enjoying at 50 pages, I'll keep going. If I'm struggling, I'll still give it 50 to change my mind.  I do realize this means there are books I miss because they really pick up after page 150 or whatever, but see above. I just don't have that kind of time. I have give up books later than 50 pages, but 50 seems like a good amount of time for me to get used to a writer's voice or style, in case that's the only thing I'm cold to, you know?

What about you? Are you a stick to it no matter what person? Or do you have some arbitrary number of pages? Or do you just give up whenever? I know that Shawn, for instance, won't even give 50 pages if she decides the book is not for her for any reason. She reads really fast, though, unlike me, and, also unlike me, has several books going at once.  So, giving up on one does NOT necessitate hunting around for the next one (like it does for me.)

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 Look, don't judge, okay?  Sure, it's 9 am, but I've already been up for four hours and borscht looks really good to me right now.  I'm sure there are places in the world where stew for breakfast isn't _that_weird. In Japan, I could have miso first thing in the morning and no one would blink.

When I have borscht again for lunch in another few hours? THEN you can judge me.

What can I say? I really like beets. And cabbage.  But, especially beets. Borscht is one of the few times in my life where I look at a stew and think: "Are potatoes REALY necessary???" (If you knew the depths of my love of potatoes, you'd be pretty shocked right now.) I've also accidentally made this particular borscht recipe without cabbage and I still loved it.  I don't even put beef in my recipe, so it's just kind of a giant mess of beets and spices.  

Okay, I'm judging myself: pathetic beet lover.

If you're curious, I got this recipe from the St. Paul Farmer's Market Produce Cookbook, 2005 edition. It's from Evelyn Kaiser, and it goes like this:

5 cups of water
1 1/2 cups beets, peeled and diced
1 cup potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup carrots, peel and diced
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp utter
1 onion, chopped
2 clove of garlic, minced
1 cup of green cabbage, shredded
1/2 put of tomato, chopped (or one can of diced tomatoes -or- one can of tomato sauce. Not being a huge tomato fan, I use either of these.)
1/2 cup beet, peeled and grated
1 tsp. dried dill (and a sprinkling of fresh, if available.)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper (I add a beef bullion or two instead of the salt, because I like the meaty undertone that gives. Plus any bullion is super salty so I can skip any of the added salt.)

The rest reads:

Bring 5 cups of water to boil ad add diced beets, potato, carrots and salt (or bullion, in my case).  Reduce heat an cook covered over medium heat for 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.*

In saucepan, heat butter and sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add the cabbage and sauté for 3 minutes. Sir in tomatoes, grated beets, and remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add sauté mixture to boiled vegetable. Simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. 

*adding the potatoes at the same time as beets often ends with completely mushed potatoes. I would recommend dropping them in 10 minutes later or so, IF you want firm and not completely pulverized potatoes. I suspect this is why the recipe suggests peeling them. I'm usually throwing things into the pot that I've gotten from the farmers' market THAT DAY, so it seems silly to peel the potatoes.... until I forget i should have waited and end up with mush attached to skin. The other option is to skip them entirely, of course, though, despite all this, I rarely do that.  Probably because I feel guilty admitting that what I really want is a giant bowl of boiled beets and the potatoes makes me feel like I'm making a stew.

:-)

I have served this to others and have been met with mixed results. Beets and cabbage are definitely an acquired taste.  It's hard for me to tell if this recipe is as good as It think it is, since literally it could read: peel and dice beets, boil until tender, add salt, and I'd be like WHAT IS THIS WONDEROUS CONCOCTION??

Milage may vary.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 It looks like we will be rained out, alas. 

On the other hand, it's so dark out there right now the sun might as well be eclipsed. :-)

A lot of my friends are eclipse chasing.  I'm.... a little jealous. Of course, we could have done the same, I suppose. I certainly had the opportunity. A friend of mine invited my family to join hers in St. Louis. But, at the time, I would not have predicted rain and it seemed like an unnecessary expense, since we'll have near totality here, as well.  I am, of course, feeling (currently) very bummed out.  The sun is now being a tease, so who knows if we'll see anything or not.  I've got some plans in case it does clear up. We bought our eclipse viewing glasses some time ago, at least. So, we will either take them up to Mirriam Park library and join the crowd there, or hop in the car and head to Roseville Library for their program.  Worse case, we can always lives stream. Nasa will be live streaming the event.  Gizmodo also has a good article about what can be experienced even if the sun isn't visible.

At least total eclipses aren't a once in a lifetime event.  In fact, I only have to wait until April 8, 2024 for the next one.  The path of totality passes pretty close to us again (if I'm reading the map right, it looks like we could go visit Shawn's mother-in-law in Indiana and see it.)  And I've seen a number of partial solar eclipses before.  I remember one, when I worked at the Immigration History Research Center, where we borrowed welding helmets from a nearby shop. I also did a pinhole viewing while Mason was alive at Kuk Soil Wan, our old martial arts dojo.  Obviously not as impressive, I'm sure, as totality.  

I'm anxious enough about missing this event that I had a very weird dream about it last night. I dreamed that I went to an event at Shoreview Library and ran into my friend Sean Murphy there. He's actually eclipse chasing IRL, so I asked him why he was in town. Apparently he burned out his eyes somehow... that part had dream logic that made no sense, but when I started to offer our eclipse glasses I realized MASON WAS STILL AT HOME ASLEEP, and so the rest of my dream was me running around while the eclipse was happening trying to get to Mason. At one point, during the darkest faze, dinosaurs came out of the sky, but they were friendly so it was fine.

Happy eclipse 2017! Hope your day is dinosaur free (or not, as you like!)

Obon 2017

Aug. 20th, 2017 06:02 pm
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
 Eclipse? Shemclipse! Today was Como Park's annual Obon festival. Bon is, of course, celebrated differently here in the US and Canada than it is in Japan. If we had stayed until dusk as we have in past years, we would have seen the lantern lighting festival.  But, today is TOO HOT and we decided, instead, what we wanted to do was eat our way through the park.


shaved ice

We started with shaved ice (kakigōri) and octopus fritters (takoyaki).  Takoyaki is Mason and my ALL TIME favorite Japanese street food/appetizer.  We then when on to have 'burned chicken' (yakitori), several types of dumplings, and a few misses like the chicken sausage skewer.  I really wanted to get taiyaki, afish-shaped pancake, usually filled with adzuki, red bean paste--BUT the local vendors all make the taiyaki pancakes into ice-cream cones--and ice-cream is a no-go for me, alas.  

I stopped by the calligraphy booth to see my former-language instructor, Tetsuya and he wrote out 'rakuda' (camel) in Japanese for me.  (There's a story and it involves me breaking down and shouting in class, 'Exactly WHEN will I use the word, sensei??!!") There were a bunch of demonstrations, but it was ungodly humid and hot and so we watched a few taiko (the big drums) performances, but did I mention how miserable it was?  

So we raced back to the air-conditioned car and home.  
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
 Our neighborhood, Midway, is often, as we say here in Minnesota, "interesting." Last night, around 7 or 8 o'clock we heard a lot of swearing outside.  Now, I have to admit, this is a common enough of an occurrence that I didn't think much of it at first, but it went on and on and on. To the point where, if nothing else, I wanted to stick my ear to the open window to find out if it was the kind of argument where the cops might have to be called.*

Of course, my whole family, being terrible gossips, all joined me as we strained to hear what our neighbor is yelling about.  We quickly determined that it was "Boat Guy."  We have nicknames for all our neighbors that we know by sight, but which we haven't yet had an opportunity to be introduced to. Boat Guy lives at the end of the block, opposite us, and has a fishing boat that he dotes on. Unfortunately, he always parks it in the street. This is a little annoying, because, lately, our block has been filing up with the cars of the people who work at Hour Car and NEC (the Neighborhood Energy Consortium.) I particularly hate the NEC people because they drive their cars into our neighborhood, park in front of my house, and DRIVE OFF IN COMPANY VANS. I might also be less annoyed with an Energy company's employs parking their cars all over, if their business weren't a block and a half from a Green Line stop and a bus didn't have a stop LITERALLY on their corner.  

So, anyway, we can clearly see Boat Guy roaming up and down the street swearing up a storm because some f*cker f*cking had his f*cking boat f*cking towed and he was f*cking mad about it.  He was literally trying to call people out by saying "I know who you are!" and "I'll make you have to pay $200 by slashing all your tires."  He raged up and down the street, even once turning on his radio super loud to try to get people's attention I'd guess, until his wife came out and said, "That's enough, honey. Come in."

I feel for Boat Guy, honestly.

It's not okay for him to park his boat on the street. It takes up two spots AT LEAST and I'm pretty sure there are regulations about where boats are supposed to be stored.  But, if his house is anything like ours, he doesn't have a decent garage, IF he has one at all. Hardly any of the houses in our neighborhood have off-street parking options.  In fact, a lot of my neighbors on this side have been using the empty grass lots on the other side of the alley to park their cars in because parking is SUCH a pain around here.  His alley, like ours, ends in a pretty abrupt t-interection so I'm sure it's a pain to even try to get his boat up and down the alley... even if he did have space for it.

I can't speak for the rest of the neighbors, because obviously someone called the parking police on him, but I'd take his boat over all the stupid strangers parking on my street.  He's usually very conscientious about moving it around so that it's not always blocking the same house.  

This is only going to get exponentially worse when the soccer stadium goes in.



-----
*A note: There was a time when I used to call for anything that seemed long-lasting. Now, given the current climate, I rarely do this unless someone actually threatens violence or the other person involved says something along the lines of 'don't you dare hit me.' 


lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
i can't actually say it's been a slow reading week, since I plowed through the remaining 21 volumes of Pandora Hearts. I also read an on-line, one volume, one-shot yaoi called One Yen Man / 1-en Otoko as well as got through volume 2 of another manga called Bunny Drop last night, which I mentioned here previously (and I have volumes 3-6 on my TBR pile).

It's funny how, despite the number of pages that the above represents, I always feel like I've read NOTHING when I've only read manga.  That's kind of sad, because, obviously, graphic novels and manga are just as "real" reading as any traditional novel.  I don't really know why I buy into the idea that somehow they're 'lesser.' 

Speaking of my my TBR pile, on it is a graphic novel called Skim by Marika Tamaki / Jillian Tamaki, a traditional novel called The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North, the second collected volume of Bitch Planet, Bitch Planet: President Bitch by Kelly Sue Decconnick / Valantine DeLandro, and a graphic novel The Stoneman Mysteries: Book One by Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple / Orion Zangara.

We'll see how much of this I get through in a week.  I need to at least get though The Stoneman Mysteries since I told Twin Cities Geek that I'd review that one for them.  Adam is, of course, a local author and Twin Cities Geeks likes to highlight the local interest stuff whenever possible.  

Meanwhile, I still have a pretty intense case of the blahs.  I blame the weather and the Nazis.

lydamorehouse: (shield)
Let's see. What's been going on with me?

Last night Mason and I went to a vigil for Charlottesville at Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun,) over in Minneapolis.  Did we end racism by gathering. listening to a few speakers, lighting candles, and singing a few songs?  No, of course not.  But I needed to get out of the house and be with likeminded people, and that helped. The Minneapolis weather witches kept us dry, providing a break in the drizzle. Once we were safely home, the sky opened up and all the rain came down. It was a howler, as they say.

It's been very rainy here and that has done very little to improve my mood.  It's supposed to rain all week. It's also a busy work week for me, I work Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon (and maybe Saturday, too. I'll have to check the calendar.) 

So, I dunno, just sort of blah. You?

Reading

Aug. 9th, 2017 08:43 am
lydamorehouse: (swoon)
 It's Wednesday already again. It was a good week for reading, probably because of our extended stay up at our friends' cabin.  So, stuff I read:

Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. A book I didn't expect to like, but ended up falling into easily.  It's about a Russian-Canadian witch and berserker/werewolf/vampires (?) I'm not quite sure how to explain the Kin, and that's the part I figured that I'd find stupid, but I really didn't.  It's one of those pseudo-literary novels where it's kind of also about families, both blood and made.  I ended up enjoying it.  

Then, I read half of Emmi Itäranta's The Weaver, because I was hoping for a sequel to The Memory of Water, which I really loved. Alas, this is not what I was looking for and so am giving up on it.  It's just a little bit TOO poetic for me.

I also read a graphic novel called Just So Happens by Fumio Obata. It's about a Japanese woman who has moved to London to pursue a career in some kind of design work. She's struggling with settling in, and then gets the call that her father died in a hiking accident.  She returns to Japan to try to figure out if she still belongs there.  It's kind of a non-story, in that nothing is resolved.  Our heroine never entirely feels at home anywhere.  The art is pretty, though.  It's a fast read. 

I got through half of the Pandora Hearts manga volumes that I took out of the library. (I took out six, read three so far). Pandora Hearts by Jun Mochizuki is about... huh, how do I describe this thing? There's a rich/tragic little lordling named Oz, who gets caught up in a supernatural adventure, probably because he's the key to some mystery involving "the Abyss," and ends up in a contract with a devil.  I'm still not sure how I feel about this series. I watched the first 7 episodes of the anime on Hulu and am finding it compelling... enough. I think my problem is with the main character.  His daddy issues really just don't interest me, and my sympathy for royal dukes only goes so far.  I'm kind of the opposite of your average romance reader (at least the ones who seem to get a lot of books targeted at them, at any rate,) in that you really have to work overtime to get me to give ANY f*cks about rich aristocrats and their "tragedies."  Just slapping a title on a character does nothing for me--well, other than infuriate me. Luckily, our poor little rich boy has a companion that I like better. Sadly, it's turning out that he's a lost prince with a tragic backstory, too, so possibly there's no one in this story that will appeal to me. The only thing that's keeping me hanging on ATM is that there's a scene with the character I like (Raven) wherein his overlord accuses him of feeling "abnormally" towards Oz, which is Japanese code for gay, so here's hoping that Raven is queer AF.

Hoping a manga/anime character will turn out to be canonically gay never ends well, so probably this is an exercise in frustration all around.  Ah, well, I have nothing else to watch while doing the dishes currently, so I will keep with this.

You?

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