lydamorehouse: (Mistaken)
 I'm going to have to keep this fairly short as I need to head out early to pick-up Mason from his job because 1) he texted to say they might be let out five or ten minutes early and 2) we're out of canned cat food AGAIN.

I swear now that we're down to three cats (two of which are elderly--technically, "geriatric,") we go through more food than ever.  

There was an interesting discussion on someone's FB feel about 'true' morning larks, vs. whatever you call the people for whom the 9 to 5 world is designed to accommodate.  This person noted that night owls like to complain that the world is built around larks, but it really isn't. I mean, yes, me much more than them, if only because being to work at 9 am isn't a hardship for me.  BUT, I naturally wake up around 6 am (our alarm is set for 5:30 am, though, because of Mason's early start time of 7:20 am.)  Waiting for stores to open feels like half of what I do as a lark.  Science fiction conventions are even worse for me, because most of the "action" starts well-after I'm ready to head to bed. People always say to me, "Well, just stay up late and sleep in!" Thing about being a lark? Sleeping in, for me, is 7 am. I often _can't_ go back to sleep, no matter how late I was out the night before.  

Still, I wouldn't trade. Mornings are still my favorite time to sit and write and get things done. It's when I have the most energy and feel most creative.

My family just sits in bleary-eyed silence while I yammer on about everything on our morning drive into school. This, it should be noted, is me BEFORE I've had coffee.

Anyway, you may have noticed that I'm not reporting my spell-of-the day progress. I may start up again, but I just hit a wall with Llewellyn when I got to the "Youthful Appearance" spell for the new moon. Y'all _know_ what the new moon is, right? It's a night with basically no moonlight.  The moon is virtually invisible to the unaided eye.  This spell wanted me to go outside with a mirror to "catch the new moon's light." You know, okay, for an anti-aging spell, I suppose I could catch some "anti-"light, but then the author wanted me to also imagine my face "being flooded with moonlight."

THERE ISN'T ANY MOONLIGHT ON NEW MOON. NONE. ZERO. NADA.

Yes, yes, the moon is still there, but the point of the dark moon is that it's dark! Invisible! 

So, I just set the book aside and haven't much felt like going back to it yet. I think I will, if only because having a project like this amuses me, but seriously.... wtf, Llewellyn?

Snow Selfie

Feb. 7th, 2019 09:14 am
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
At some point today, I have to leave this warm, snuggly house and go and get Inky's cremains. They called yesterday and said that he'd come back. 

It's really coming down out there.

Mason has a debate tournament this afternoon that he's judging over in Minneapolis. As a judge, he's a volunteer, so I have to transport him there and back again.  Given how quickly the inches accumulated already this morning, I'm not looking forward to trying to race him across town at 3:00 for a 3:30 meet.  I told him to see if he can't get the cell number of someone at the competition, just in case we run late.

My Broad Universe mentee and I had an interesting conversation last night about iGen, Mason's generation.

She's doing some kind of coursework or other that has her considering the various "personalities" of the generation and she said that iGen is supposed to be go-getters, but her experience showed them to be fairly incapable of things once considered standard, like addressing an envelope or keeping a budget.  She's very likely right about those last things. We've had to work overtime to make sure Mason has gotten skills that I KNOW I was taught in school, like how to write a check and read/write cursive. (I blame standardized testing, not this generation or its teachers, however.) At any rate, I noted that Mason absolutely fits the "stereotype" of a self-starter. I never even heard that he'd signed himself up to be a volunteer debate judge until yesterday when he asked for transportation to the meet.  Mason is required as a gifted an talented student to have volunteer hours and he found some in an area he ADORES. I told her, too, how he found himself a paying job that continues to be a perfect fit and the various times that we've found out, after the fact, that there was a scheduling snafu with his coursework that Mason just took care of--often in fairly brilliant and innovative ways, like how he finagled a TA position in English as ungraded coursework.

Obviously, Mason may be atypical. He certainly does prefer his video games over a lot of other activities--but again, I don't see this as a problem. From what I can tell, Mason has found himself a good community. They are all GLBT+/queer kids and, while I hear some trash talk in his comm, it seems very good-natured and not the kind of toxic stuff parents of gamers have to have CONSTANT VIGILANCE about. He's got himself on a team that plays in an amateur Overwatch league and it 'sparks joy' for him, clearly. So, I mean, sure, kids these days and their E-lect-TRON-ics, but I think we are all better served when we consider how such tools are being used by the generation that owns them.

Whelp, there's the call. They've cancelled afternoon activities for SPPS (Saint Paul Public Schools). I texted Mason to have him double-check that that includes his tournament, but I suspect it will.

Now we just need &!*%ing St. Paul to call a snow emergency so they will plow the &!*%ing streets.

My street is nearly impassable. WEIRDLY, where the rich people live, Summit Avenue appears to have been plowed curb to curb. It's almost like there's a socio-economic division in how the city choses to clear its streets. $10 says Highland Park is plowed, too.

But, so, the whole mentee thing via Broad Universe is going well, I think. We've done a bunch of checking in. She seems pleased with my level of critique (which can be intense and daunting) and as a mentor, I feel like my job is offer routes, but, ultimately, to go where she wants. Speaking of volunteering, it's been an interesting gig so far. 

Huh, apparently I just have to wait long enough... now St. Paul has finally called a snow emergency. Yay!

A friend of mine in Canada and I were trading selfies, and, while I normally don't post selfies, I thought this one perfectly captured my resting MURDER face in response to this weather....

me, looking decidedly murderous, and a snow covered tree behind me

I should probably go out into this mess to make sure we have something for dinner tonight, in fact. 

*sigh*
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 I feel like I've forgotten how to write. 

Which is weird, since I wrote about 2,000+ words of fan fiction yesterday.  So, it's not the actual act of putting words to page that I've forgotten how to do, but something else.  I've got a deadline fast approaching for an author guest slot in an invite-only magazine called Boundary Shock Quarterly, my issue will be about apocalypses that I was invited to contribute to, and I've been doing a LOT of thinking about stories that feature after the fall/the end of the world and what appeals to me about them.  Shawn and I even re-watched "Logan's Run," which surprised me by mostly standing the test of time. But, Mason challenged me to put some words to paper today and I have started numerous times only to be frustrated with the results.

I've gotten some good advice about how-to write short stories from the people in my writers' group, so I'm not necessarily looking for that right now. But, you know, if you really want to point me to writing blogs or whatnot, I'll definitely read anything you link to. I'm not so proud that I'd turn away a good resource.

What I'm really stymied about right now is something different, however. I was counseled to consider writing a story within a story, where there's something else going on and the end of the world is kind of more of a backdrop. Something like what [personal profile] naomikritzer did with "So Much Cooking."  (An amazing story, if you haven't already read it, you should.) This is excellent advice because a good short story is always operating on a number of different levels, but... okay, here's the thing that's really been hitting me _today_ as I sit down to write. I'm not sure that's me, the writer who writes brilliantly about the human condition clothed in science fiction. Think it's absolutely what most people are writing write now--most successful short story writers, anyway, given what I've been reading in prep for the Nebula Award nominations. I am a gigantic fan of slice-of-life manga, butI was re-reading some of the stuff I wrote to promote the launch of Resurrection Code, which very much is my "after the fall" novel, and it's all apocalypse travelogue with action.

And I'm wondering if I'm doing a disservice to myself by not just writing an adventure?

Eh, I should just write SOMETHING and stop overthinking the whole process.

Mason's right about me. I can talk myself OUT of any idea I have... and end up with nothing.

Well, I'm picking him up at 5:15 pm tonight (unless robotics gets cancelled due to the snow), so I have time to get something down. Probably I should just start writing ANYTHING and see where that takes me.

Or... I could do the dishes... or vacuum.

See, I'm a writer. I know how to avoid writing!

---

UPDATE: 325 words written. Ha! It's not a lot, but I'm exceedingly happy that words made it onto page. Go me!
lydamorehouse: (cap and flag)
 ... to try to write about mundane things after Inky's death, but life goes on, I suppose.  

Shawn ended up doing a ton of research into "elderly" cats and discovered that Deliah, who is 16, and Ms. Piggy, who is 18, are considered BEYOND elderly and into geriatric. You can kind of see it on Ms. Piggy, she's been cranky and stiff for some time now, but Deliah? She still acts like a kitten!

Shawn sent me a lot of the articles she'd read and it was comforting to read that we're doing everything right by our older cats. It's absolutely correct to be feeding on demand (small amounts, often,) and looking for foods high in protein and fat.  Of course, this is doing NO GOOD for our fatty orange boy, Buttercup. But at this point, I'm very much looking at our cats and saying "WHATEVER YOU WANT, MY PRECIOUS BABIES."

Today is Imbolc, but my family is going to celebrate tomorrow. Normally, in our tradition, we dedicate ourselves to work with a particular deity for a year. No one in this household has had he wherewithal to do the requisite research, so our plan is to make something yummy for breakfast (I'm thinking cinnamon buns) and spend a little time as a family planning out some of the rituals we all want to do together.  That seems 'close enough' to the spirit of the holiday for us right now.

I made some piroshki for dinner tonight at the urging of my family.  

piroshki on a plate

This is a recipe that Shawn got from her "Recipes North Dakota" FB group. Shawn has the best FB groups. She's in "Liberal Preppers," "Recipes of North Dakota," "Simple Vintage and Homemaking," "Stocking our Shelves," and "Weird Thrift Store Finds."  All my FB groups make me vaguely annoyed, and meanwhile, she's showing me pictures of strange things found at Good Will. To be fair, Shawn spends a LOT of time curating her feed. She has a modest number of friends that she follows and she is very fast with the hide, snooze, block, and unfriend buttons. Meanwhile, I friend anyone. Part of that is because: writer.  I never know who is following me because they've read my books and they just want to know what might be coming out next.

Mason had work today at KAYSC. He said they had an open discussion about various projects they're considering undertaking. It sounded very much like baby's first meeting. He came home and bonded with Shawn about various buzzwords, "fostering synergy" and such like. 

He's now playing D&D on Discord with a bunch of people he's in an amateur Overwatch league team with. I'm so glad he found his people. I have no idea who I'd be if the internet had existed when I was his age.

Otherwise, I spent part of my day going through old DW journal entries updating my tag set. It started because Shawn and I had one of those arguments couple have about the timing of various things in our collective memory. Did this thing happen first, or that other thing? Both of us were SO SURE we were right, and I knew I'd blogged about the events in question.  BUT, it took me forever to figure out how to track down the whole story because I'd been really sloppy with my tagging. So, I spent an hour or so reading through the old entries from 2011 and making the tags consistent.  

It was really funny to watch my comments numbers drop precipitously after I became a Bleach fan.

Ah, speaking of finding one's tribe, if only I'd known about Tumblr back then (or whatever other fan communities existed.)  

Otherwise, it was a quiet day. I've been a bit more spotty with my Spell-a-Day, but I did manage yesterday's. Not much to report, however, just a renewal spell/meditation. 
lydamorehouse: (cranky aizen)
 Last night, completely unexpectedly, we had to say good-bye to Inky.

Big, old black cat on a comfy chair

I'd noticed he was kind of poking at his food and water, but he is our quiet, retiring boy, so, while I was worried, it didn't seem dire. Until yesterday. He was hiding more than usual and seemed to be limping a little. After how fast we lost Ball, I thought: nope, get him in right now.  So, rather than wait for an appointment, I took him to the emergency veterinary last night around 6 pm. 

By 9 o'clock, he was gone.

I don't know what the f*ck is happening with this house, but it needs to stop. I can't take this. 

Doctors say it was a fast-moving cancer, a lymphoma or pancreatic. What the actual hell. How did this happen so fast that we never saw it coming? Doctor assured me that some cancers are like that and that cats are terrible about letting you know when they're ill--moreover, it probably ripped through him in no more than a couple of weeks.

Just like Ball.

I looked at her and said, "Okay, but you're sure this isn't something contagious? Because I can not." She told me there was nothing like that in cats. (I mean, there is Feline Leukemia, but they've all been tested and no one goes outside...)

We have sat down with our remaining three cats and explained to them that they are simply NOT ALLOWED to get sick.

Yesterday, we also found a bird frozen at our bird feeder. She may have gotten her head stuck in the feeding tube, or... who knows, but she was hanging there, dead, and it was awful, and so f*ck right off, everything is awful, and I am done with dealing with death, and so NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO GET SICK, Y'ALL TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES.

And, especially: JANUARY, GO HOME. YOU'RE THE WORST. I DO NOT WANT TO SEE YOU AGAIN FOR ANOTHER WHOLE YEAR. GOT THAT???

I could not be happier that we have started February.  February is time for renewal. We're going to renew our house blessing and celebrate the renewing spirit of Imbolc, because we're done with this bullsh*t now, k?

Here's a picture of Inky (the black one) and Buttercup (orange/sandy) playing together on the iPad in a rare moment of harmony. Buttercup was always very much "Notice me, sempai!" about Inky, but Inky never much wanted much to do with the "new kid" so this was a photographically significant moment.

Inky and Buttercup playing with the iPad

Gucci, gucci Inky. You were a good cat.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 ...than using up my leftover homemade French bread for bread pudding.  I don't know why, I probably should feel more like someone who lived through the Depression (Captain America?).  

For those following along, it's a bazillion degrees below zero here. Mason's school is cancelled AGAIN for tomorrow. As he pointed out, now the only day he will have school is Friday and then it will be the weekend again. He says, "It's going to feel less like going back to school and more like a break in my winter vacation."

It's been lovely to have both him and Shawn home. We've done a whole lot of nothing all day; none of us is out of our PJs and it's 5:37 pm.  I did some stamping, but mostly I've been cooking and eating... and napping. I really have to say that this cold weather is working for me. I'm also really glad that several local businesses have taken it upon themselves to close. My coffee shop closed. The postal workers didn't try to deliver. People who could, should stay home, inside, and warm.

In less lovely news, my Loft class was officially cancelled.  I was really looking forward to it, but alas. I only got 4 people interested. (Worse, we could have used the money. Ah well.)

On the other hand, Broad Universe is trying out a mentoring program, and I signed up to be a mentor. I've got myself a mentee, and we've started working together. By chance, she's written a fantasy novel involving the sidhe and Irish politics. Considering that I wrote something similar (my first novel, which got weirdly published via a pay-as-you-go outfit: https://tapas.io/series/sidhepromised), I'm VERY excited by her novel.  So, that's a yay. 

I am reading something, but I'm not enjoying it. I decided to try to pick up the books that are up for the Philip K. Dick award and I started Claire North's newest book 84K. I'm... not much liking the fact that she leaves sentences trailing off, unfinished, and there are a LOT of fragments and fragmented scenes. I'm not QUITE ready to give up on it, but, man. It's tough going.

What are you reading this fine Wednesday?

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I guess we only ended up with 4 inches on the ground, but St. Paul Schools shut down early last night. You might wonder WHY the capitol city in a state that often prides itself on toughing out temperatures and conditions worthy of the arctic panic closed when the forecast looked bad. You only have to look back one year to find out: www.mprnews.org/story/2018/01/23/many-students-stuck-in-schools-buses-hours-st-paul. (Last year, some students' buses didn't make it home until LITERALLY after midnight. Might be fine for high schoolers, but imagine kindergartners....)

Pretty sure our superintendent is going to close early and often, rather than let something like that happen EVER again.

I know closing school on a day like today makes a lot of parents mad and inconveniences them, but I kind of get it. I mean, I can say that, because, of course, our family is fine. I'm home today, anyway. Having Mason here is a feature, not a bug. Of course the superintendent might get in Big Trouble again, since the temperatures are supposed to plummet dangerously low over the next couple of days and schools are required to close if the temps drop into the 'your face/skin ACTUALLY freezes within a minute of exposure" range. So, people have implied that we could end up with several days off this week, given the forecast.

Honestly, I can't believe this kid's luck. He needed a mental health day on Thursday, had Friday officially off (some kind of end of quarter grading day for teachers), a weekend, and now this. It's like he really gets a Christmas break do-over, like we wanted. It's only too bad that we had to take Mom in to work, or we could have had some lovely, much needed family time.

As it is, we're probably going to spend the day filling out the Yale Global Scholars application. Mason finally finished the last of the THREE essays required for the program (and we gathered up all the documents needed for financial aid.) Whee.

All right, I promised to catch you all up on my spell-a-day project. I have skipped a few here and there, but part of that is being determined not to do anything ill-advised again.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 24 & 25) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 26) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 27) )

lydamorehouse: (cranky aizen)
My family has a very unusual attitude towards truancy. We encourage Mason to practice it from time to time, as needed, to blow off steam and to have a 'mental health' day/practice self-care. I don't ask a lot of questions or make any requirements for him to use these days. Mason just knows that he's allowed to say that he needs a day now-and-again.

On Thursday, driving in to school, Mason said, "You know how we sometimes just take off and drive somewhere? Today would be a good day to do that."

So, we turned around, I called him in sick, and we went home so he could catch up on a bit of sleep. Then, we talked about what kind of adventure he wanted, and, since it was really cold and there was supposed to be a winter storm moving in around us, we decided to stick close to home. After a comforting lunch, we headed out to Como Zoo. We spent most of our time in the Conservatory, because it's warm in there. Here's the view looking up at the glass dome.

looking up at the Como Conservatory's glass dome

This was just what the doctor ordered. Mason and I chatted about what's going on in his life, while strolling through the heat and the humidity of the conservatory. Because of the time of year, a lot of the tropical plants had fruit. We saw a Buddha's hand, coffee beans on the coffee tree, several ripening cocoa pods, and a bunch of other stuff that made me think that maybe I should try to take over the Conservatory when the apocalypse comes. I mean, they have COFFEE!

Then, because we're insane, we decided to see which animals might be out enjoying the sub-arctic temperatures. No surprise, perhaps, but the Siberian tiger thought it was lovely out.

Siberian tiger in the Minnesota snow

As I wrote on Facebook: 'Not the polar bear, surprisingly, she was sleeping. The Siberian tiger was out, as were the wolves, the reindeer, the bison, and the arctic foxes which I have LITERALLY never seen at Como Zoo before, despite having walked passed their labeled area for YEARS. The two foxes were prancing they were so happy that the temps were sub-zero windchills."

I couldn't get a good picture of the arctic foxes because probably all you'd see would be two eyes and a nose. They are MADE to perfectly blend with the snow, after all. But, they were very, very adorable. Potentially worth braving the temperatures to see, honestly. The Como Zoo is still kind of the sad zoo (as opposed to the MN Zoo, which we just call "the big zoo"), in that a lot of their "enclosures" are still little more than chain link fences, but they've been slowly renovating the place to improve the animals' quality of life. The foxes, unfortunately, are still in a very small-sh space, so that's why I'd say "potentially" worth a visit. Your enjoyment would totally depend on whether or not you can stand that kind of zoo.

Then, on Friday, Mason was officially home from school, but I let him sleep in while I met a friend on Friday to go to the Science Museum. As part of his job, Mason gets free passes to the museum and this friend had been looking for cheap/free things to do during the day. I ended up cancelling on my usual ladies to hang out with her, but I had previously planned to go on Tuesday, but that was the day the plumbing broke. What I would say about our trip to the museum was that, if you go, you totally should spend some time in the Race exhibit. It's... well, I mean, parts of it are heartbreaking and awful, but it's extremely well done. Anna and I probably spent the majority of our time in that room. It was a moderately quiet room, not being a favorite of the countless screaming argonauts (aka other people's children), which was also nice for us, as Anna is deaf/hard of hearing.

But, also, there are dinosaurs! This is a "compi" from Jurassic World (Compsognathus).

a Compi!  (Compsognathus)

Anna and I don't know each other terribly well--this is the third time we've done something together, though the first time it was just us. I would definitely hang out with her again. She's lovely company. 

In other news, I continue to try to find a plumber for our upstairs bathtub. The good news is that we have a fully functional bathroom on the first floor that has a tub, so we're not out anything while we figure out what we're doing. I had one set of plumbers out already, Ryan Plumbing, whose estimate was 1,500 - 2,000 bucks, as they figured they'd have to rip up the kitchen ceiling to get at all the pipes. Weld Plumbing called back and would like to wait and talk to their owner about whether or not they think they're the right people, which I told them was FINE as we're in a buyer's market, as we can just let it sit there until we get the right people with the right price. Weld was the first group who said that they thought there might be a way to McGyver it, if we wanted to try a fix for ourselves... which made me like them a bit more than the Ryan guys, but the chances of them calling back seemed kind of slim, you know? As soon as "I have to talk to the owner" comes out, it either means they think your job is too small for them or they otherwise don't want to do it at all.

BUT. I'm going to keep calling a couple of outfits every day because seriously, we have all the time we need to figure this out. It's a BIT WEIRD to take a full soaking bath downstairs while the rest of the family is hanging out in the living room, but it's definitely not the end of the world. 

I've been mostly keeping up with my spell of the day, but I'll catch up on posting about those the next entry. I've got to wrap this up as I need to run off to pick up Mason from his job in about five minutes.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I know many of you would counsel me to toss my Spell-a-Day book in the open river after the pipe incident, BUT y'all have to know that today's "spell" was really quite spectacular.  It was actually just a meditation that wanted me to go for a walk.


Winter view of como lake

Since I had to go out to Roseville DMV to collect my tabs for the car, anyway, I stopped on the way home to make a brisk walk around Como Lake. Right now, it's 17 F / -8 C, though I suspect the windchill makes it quite a bit colder. I hadn't intended to go the whole distance around the lake (1.6 miles / 2.6 km), but you know how it is once you start. I kept thinking, "Oh, I'm probably halfway around now..." 

The picture doesn't do justice to how sunny it got. The sun broke and was so bright that I wished that I'd thought to grab my sunglasses.  There are always people walking their dogs, jogging, or strolling around Lake Como, so I nodded a "good morning" to about a half dozen people and several puppers/doggos--including two Huskies that looked like they thought this was the BEST TEMPERATURE EVER, even as I was wondering if I would ever regain feeling in my thighs.

I spotted a couple funky little nests hanging like purses from the branches that I've asked my birding friends for help identifying.

purse like nest. Seemed to be made partly of moss?

Google gave me the option of red-eyed vireo, which is a kind of warbler that does seem to live around here at least part of the time.  But, I really don't know anything from birds, so I hope my friends will have a clue. My friend Sharon "Bird Chick" Stitler, says that's an oriole.  I didn't know we had those here, but that's awesome. 

After my walk, I stopped at Kowalski's because I work tonight, and the current plan my family has to deal with my absence is to "have something frozen" for dinner. But, they couldn't give me anything more specific than that to work with, so I picked up a variety of frozen options for them. 

Mason has work tonight, too, so he's going to have to make his way home via the light rail.  Shouldn't be a problem for him. He's gone on several walkabouts that have taken him far enough afield that he just hopped the light rail back home.  (Free range kids are the best!)  

Meanwhile, I can't remember the last time I had a library shift. I'm a little concerned because I think they changed the time sheet process during my absence, so that may require some poking around on the emails.  (This is why I stay home. It's too difficult out there in the real world!)  But, Shoreview is often fairly chill in the evenings, so I should have time to figure things out.

Hopefully, I didn't just jinx it, by suggesting that, however.

Right, well. I'd best hop up and get the rest of the around the house chores done before I have to pick people up and then turn around and head off to work. 
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 ...that went down the drain? THIS drain?

a snapped lead pipe on a dusty floor.

Magic works, people. Magic WORKS.

Unfortunately.

I think, at least, I reversed the spell soon enough that it won't cost us the full amount that I had written on the paper, but holy hell.

So, what happened? Well, Mason went to take his bath last night. A wash cloth fell behind the tub. He couldn't reach it, so he thought, "I'll shift the tub a little." The other pipes going into the tub are clearly flexible, so he didn't even consider the 110 year old lead pipe connecting the tub to the drain pipe. SNAP! And a, "Ummmm.... mom? Ima?"

He feels terrible, but we all talked about THAT SPELL, so no one is blaming him. Or me, for that matter. We're all pretty cranky with Llwellyn's spell proof reader, but you know... the truth is, if it snapped that easily, it was bound to happen. My reversal of the spell may have saved us from the "what if" of had Mason not noticed until it was time to drain his bath.  That might have cost us a new pipe, a new bathroom floor, and, as this is our second story bathroom, a new kitchen ceiling as well.

As we say here in Minnesota: Could be worse.

Today I was supposed to meet my friend Anna D. at the Science Museum, but that will be postponed until Friday, as I have to ADUT today and secure a plumber.  Fun times!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Though not by too many days!

Hello, hello! How's things? I don't have a huge amount to report. Friday was the day of forgetting things. I was just leaving the coffee shop when I got a text from Mason. He forgot his iPad at home. So, I headed home, picked it up, and then went back to school. As I was half way to school, he wanted to know if I could also grab earbuds? But I didn't get that in time to double back. I left his iPad with the school but then remembered we might have earbuds in the car, so I quick texted Mason to come back and grab them. He'd already headed back, but was able to turn around. That was all before 8 am!

Then, when I was getting ready to go to the coffee shop, I got a call from some guy trying to sell us on a paint job that made me unreasonably angry for various reasons, and I was so wound up about that that I brought my cord to the coffee shop, but forgot my laptop. I think that worked out okay, however, because it meant I was less distracted during the conversation we had about a story that [personal profile] naomikritzer was writing, which opened up a lot of interesting questions to me (none of which she was actually writing about, but hey) like: what's it like to know you're related to a criminal or a murderer (which I am) and any number of similarly fascinating philosophical questions.

What else... oh! Shawn finally watched "Infinity War" and we all saw "Solo." We ended up doing two movies because "Infinity War" was such a downer AND I had earlier tilted during a game of "Trivial Pursuit" that spilled over into another little snip. "Solo" was just what the doctor order. Y'all think it sucked, but I thought it was fine--entertaining, even.

Saturday Mason worked and I had my first session of a new Star Trek RPG game with a bunch of friends: [personal profile] jiawen [personal profile] bcholmes John T., and Sabs. MUCH FUN. As I've said earlier, I haven't role-played for some time and I had so much fun I ended up writing fan fic (in the form of my character's personal log) about our adventure.

Sunday we spent the day hanging out. Mason had an in-person D&D game, Shawn made a disastrous pie (it was a cannoli pie). Shawn notes that the "Idea" of the pie was good, but the flavor didn't suit us (me less than her). I did a lot of stamping, which I enjoyed.

This morning I woke and chatted a bit more with [personal profile] jiawen about life and the super, blood, wolf moon eclipse. Most of which I missed, because I CAN NOT with the late nights now that I'm old. (Shut up. 11 pm is late for me, okay??) Anyway, chatting with [personal profile] jiawen always fun, we can talk about anything for hours.

Then I did a lot of cooking. I tried to make cheesy puffy ball bread things, but they collapse. They were tasty though!

my sad cheese things

Very much like eggy popovers, which was fine since we ate them with lunch (spaghetti) with a hot marinara sauce dip.

Then we decided to have a big chicken roast, so I started roasting the bird around 1:30 pm, made mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, corn, cheddar bay biscuits (from a box), and chicken gravy. I managed the timing pretty darn perfectly, if I do say so myself, and the meal was a huge success.

So. LOTS of food today.

I managed to mostly keep up with my spells over the intervening days. I will give you a series of quick updates under the cut. I will note that I did spend the day after the DOWN THE DRAIN money spell, undoing it, and decided that was enough of a spell-of-the-day for that day, since it was supposed to be a day to get rid of something.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan 18 & 19) )


Spell-a-Day (Jan 20) )
lydamorehouse: (Aizen)
Today was the day I'd signed up for a friend's meal train.

She was coming back home from fairly complex surgery yesterday and I'd agreed to bring "chili, and maybe bread, If I'm not too lazy." (Actually, I wrote "bead" on the form, but I meant "bread." I'm not sure how one would eat bead.) That meant that I started making bread around 8:00 am, right away when I got back from dropping everyone off. Bread is one of those things that is both time-consuming and takes no actual time. 4/5ths of the "time" bread takes, it's just sitting in a bowl doing its own thing. I put the bread in the oven at 10 am and started the chili, with the plan to drop-off precisely at noon.

The nice thing about making this particular bread (which these days is in the cookbook as "Lyda's French Bread,") is that it makes two loaves. I planned to give one to my friend and save the other for dinner tonight. I'd bought pork chops, thinking it would be a nice meat and potatoes + bread kind of meal... but that's a later story.

My friend lives in Minneapolis, so I got everything ready around 11:30 am (I'd bought flowers for her when I was at Kowalski's this morning, too,) and headed over probably a bit too early--but I'm like that. I'd much rather arrive five minutes early than five minutes late. Plus, now-a-days, I tend to get lost going into Minneapolis... which is weird, since it's the city I first moved to. But, apparently, I've been rejected by the Minneapolis fairy (and adopted by the St. Paul trolls.)

I only made one wrong turn and so drove around aimlessly, wasting time a bit before pulling up to the house.

I was really surprised to see her up and walking. Did I mention major surgery?? But, good on her. She and her wife were getting rid of some books and so I looked through those and chose a few for the little free library (Full Metal Alchemist light novels!) and myself (yaoi!). Their kitty inspected me very closely. Much sniffing. They have one cat named Uryuu, named after Bleach's Ishida Uryuu.

But, I wasn't there to have lunch WITH them, so I made my excuses and headed home.

For myself, I ate a couple of bowls to the chili before going over... so it was kind of breakfast/brunch (?) --though, ostensibly to taste test them. I'm not sure what to think of the fact that I gave myself heartburn. Mmmm.. Hopefully, my friends did not suffer the same. I'm telling myself that I got heartburn because it was the first thing I ate, and I had TWO bowls of it.

Dinner turned out to be "ah... no one really wants that" when I picked my family up, so now Shawn is in the kitchen eating bread and butter (and complaining that we don't have milk for cereal,) Mason took himself to Culver's just up the road, and I had a sausage sandwich at Caribou Coffee. I've had a little bread and cheese and butter, too, along with my tea. But, it's sort of sad "yoyo" (you're on your own) dinner. I probably should have put my foot down and declared the pork chops a "shut up and eat it" meal. But, bah. Thing is, I really like making food that people WANT to eat. Thus, when people don't want what I'm making, I don't want to make what I'm making, if that makes sense.

I'd rather save the pork chops for when everyone is in the mood for them.

In other news, last night's spell-of-the-day was the first one I've actively decided to 'unwind.'

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 16) )


Hump Day!

Jan. 16th, 2019 08:08 am
lydamorehouse: (Mistaken)
I have a few days that I need to catch y'all up on.

Let's see... Monday. What did I do on Monday? I know I did a lot of household chores, because Monday is both garbage day and recycling for our alley. We amass a LOT of recycling. I also went to the pet store again. Since Ms Ball's illness, the rest of the cats got very used to the idea that wet food might be available to them at all sorts of hours. Plus, as I'm sure many of you recall, I was trying ANYTHING I thought she might eat a lot of. So now the rest of the cats are very, "What is this, hooman? This is not the good gravy stuff???" Thus, I bought a bunch of the good gravy stuff as well as some other cans of things that everyone seemed to enjoy, because why not? At this point, I look at my fat cats and think, "GOOD. There will be lots of time to figure out what's wrong before you waste away, should disease hit!"

So my memory of Monday = errands and housework.

Yesterday was far more pleasant. Even though Shawn had a migraine and ended up coming home early, the day started and ended well. As a family, we all go out to bagels on Tuesday mornings. At some point, I made a comment that I felt that Tuesday were worse than Mondays, because everyone EXPECTS Monday to suck, as it is the first day back to work after a weekend. But, Tuesdays are like stealth Mondays. They're too early in the week to start having happy thoughts about how soon it will be the weekend again, and so they're really like Monday--only without any sympathy. We decided that in the spirit of this, Tuesdays would be a day we would treat ourselves because Tuesdays are hard, too, but no one is going to say, "Ah, yeah, man, TUESDAYS, am I right?"

Then, after picking Shawn back up and bringing her home early, I went to visit my friend [personal profile] naomikritzer at her place. I was able to stay a little later than usual because Mason is in full-swing of robotics, but we had also all earlier agreed that since it was payday, we would go out to Indian at our favorite place: Taste of India in Maplewood. Taste of India is one of those places that a surprising number of people we KNOW frequent. In the past, we've run into our friends the Murphys and the Fox-Manns. This time, it was just us, but it was also just what the doctor ordered.

With Ms. Ball's illness and death putting a literal pall over our holiday vacation, my family and I have been in desperate need of quality family time. I'm fortunate, in that my little nuclear family all really love each other and enjoy each other's company EVEN OUR TEENAGE SON. Which, is kind of miraculous, I've been told. So, dinner was perfect. We all got comfort foods and caught up on life, the universe, and everything in a much need fashion.

Then, when we got home last night, Mason and I played Smash for a half hour or so. I have to report that this button-masher is starting to learn a few combos. I have one character "Cloud," that I can consistently remember how to use. This is starting to excite Mason, as it means that he has a player in the house who isn't a complete push over. He still wins every time, but I'm making him have to fight for it a little.

In other news, Mason has been having a lot of fun watching various colleges start to take notice of his early PSAT scores. Mason took the test early, as practice here in 10th grade, and did extremely well. Every day, after school Mason will update us on the various folks that have started spamming him with "hey, when you get serious about university, don't forget we exist!" emails. The other fun thing he got was an invitation to apply to a summer program at Yale. It's Yale Young Global Studies Program. There is a 20 page application that includes financial aid (because holy moley is this thing EXPENSIVE.) But, we figure we should give it a try, even though the deadline is nipping at our heels already (Feb. 6.) Because, why not? Nothing ventured, as they say. Given how many people apply, it's probably a long shot at any rate.

It's really f*cking cool spam, though, you have to agree, neh?

I also spent a good part of yesterday starting to plan for Mason's PSEO (post-secondary education opportunities) next year. Washington Technology Magnet is OUT of math for our child. So, he's going to have to continue on at university (of some sort, though we are crossing fingers to get into the University of MN's program.) To that end, we are planning on attending the very first informational meeting on Feb. 18, I think it is. (It's on the calendar). I also went ahead and booked a tour of the Science and Engineering department, because, again, why not? But, there are a lot of forms to figure out and things to do for that, too--though, much like with the Yale thing above, my job is not to apply, but to heard our smol into applying for himself.

Still a full time job, if you ask me.

I also spent a lot of time on Monday and yesterday trying to get some hours set for my library job. I tried to pick up an extra shift this week, but someone got to Shoreview before I could nab it. Alas. At least I got my Feb. schedule to my boss, who was able to give me some shifts for next months. Yay.

Luckily, I don't need to pick up too many shifts. This month got covered by a surprise royalty check that was mid-triple digits, the likes of which I haven't seen in a long, long time. (Audible.com, I LOVE YOU.) Next month, my Loft teaching will carry us, too, although I won't see that money until the work is done and dusted, so not until March or April.

I did manage to do all my spell work. I will post under-the-cut below, but I do want to share the one funny observation: I thought for sure that when these spells started calling for various herbs and oils, I would have to write some scathing commentary about how NO ONE HAS THIS STUFF JUST LYING AROUND. And, yet, last night when I was shaking my head thinking, "Oh, right, like I'm going to have camomile flower heads sitting on my shelf," there, in our witchy cabinet, was a vial of camomile flowers that I harvested several years ago, dried, and carefully preserved. I have actually yet to be stumped!

To be fair, I did have to do a couple of substitutions. A spell below called for hyssop, which I didn't have, but lavender is a common substitution, and I have several jars of lavender (to be fair, we grow it and harvest it ourselves, just like we had with the camomile.) I had to make my own dragon's blood oil, but I actually HAVE dragon's blood resin in my cabinet, so there is that.

My witches' pantry is actually surprisingly well stocked!

Spell-a-Day project (Jan. 13) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 14) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 15) )
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
On Saturday, after taking Mason to work, Shawn and I decided to check out the ReUse Center of the University of Minnesota. That place is kind of a trip. Check out all the--I assume, abandoned--bicycles

an ungodly number of bicycles hanging from an industrial ceiling

There were all sorts of other things, too, like all the weird old science equipment that a mad scientist might want:

microscopes

And, of course, books that had been culled from the University libraries:

books!

We didn't find anything to take home, alas, but it was really fun to see all the stuff. We had much better luck at our earlier thrifting spot, GoodWill. Shawn found a few baskets, including a big wicker basket for laundry (something she always covets.) Also, she found more of a set of dishes that we'd picked up earlier. We swear that GoodWill has the whole set, but it only putting out a few pieces at a time.

So, while the rest of you fools are decluttering, Shawn and I are digging through your castaways.

Why? Because it brings us joy.

Saturday was actually a very good day all around. Mason came back from work and we had a lovely dinner. Shawn and I watched "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" (2018) which we had on DVD from Netflix (because we still get DVDs from Netflix.) I... didn't hate it? Shawn seemed to enjoy it, but woke up this morning to inform me that she'd had epiphany: "They should stop making sequels of these." I mean, she's not wrong? But, as I pointed out, DINOSAURS. Like, how else are we going to get a dinosaur movie in the future? Pretty much anything you do is going to seem like a rip off the Jurassic franchise. So, let them keep making them? I honestly love any movie where I can root for the dinosaurs. But, I will say that "Fallen Kingdom" had some moments that made me VERY SAD. Spoiler )

But, at the end of the evening, Shawn turned to me and said, "This was actually a *good* day." I had to agree.

Today, Sunday, was pretty good, too. We didn't do a lot, played Smash and hung out. I've been writing a lot of fan fic, some of which I posted today.  Then, we were going to have pot stickers for dinner tonight, but Mason's GF had to cancel last minute, and so we randomly decided to have fried chicken fingers and onion strips a meal we make while literally sitting in front of the deep fat frier.  Such a terrible meal. SO GOOD.  

I still need to do my spell of the day tonight, but, otherwise, I'd say it was a lovely weekend. 

How've you been?
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
...so this might not be a very long post.

Yesterday was weirdly exhausting. We all ended up in a huge fight. It was dumb. Most of the arguments my family has are not over anything significant, but, in the way of fights, they will spiral into All The Things that are WRONG, Everywhere, ALWAYS. Last night it was over some timing around diner and a text that Mason failed to answer promptly. Simple stuff, really, easily straightened out--but thanks to being hangry and all of us in various states of hormones (Mason is in puberty, Shawn and I are menopausal), there was wailing and gnashing of teeth and much sobbing all around.

We got through it, of course.

But, then I had to bundle myself off to Wyrdsmiths, which often goes until 10:00 or 11:00 pm.... which is way, WAY past my bedtime. We had an excellent meeting, however. All of us came, for once, even the elusive Kelly. We reviewed two pieces, and spent a good deal of our time trying to convince Adam that while his memoir was fine and good, what it really needed was Elder Gods... or possibly dragons. Then, I went on an odd sort of rant about why not doing the dishes is NOT a crime against humanity based entirely, I think, on having too much time to think about one of the critique pieces while waiting on rugs to wash at the laundromat.

But, between the argument and the late night, I have spent today in a kind of fog, even though today is the day that I usually meet up with Eleanor, [personal profile] pegkerr, and [personal profile] naomikritzer . We had a nice time at the coffee shop chatting about life, the universe and everything, actually, but, MAN, I would rather have been napping at home.

So... tired...

I managed to NOT do my spell yesterday, but I did get it done today.

Spell-a-Day (Jan. 11)... )

Now my wife has talked me into re-watching "Highlander" (the TV series) because it appeared on Amazon Prime. It's objectively terrible... though I remember ADORING it in the 1990s.
lydamorehouse: (cranky aizen)
Admittedly, I have been procrastinating on setting up my work email so that I can view it from home. Several months ago, Ramsey County experienced a payroll hack that had IT scrambling to plug holes. One way in which they did so (inconveniently for _me_) was to set up a two-point authorization for those of us who need to check email remotely (i.e., from home.) This required an app and, thus, obviously, a smart phone, which I didn't have until very, very recently.

Even so, I've had my smart phone for a couple of months and I only just (after some good-natured harassment from my family yesterday) decided that today would be an excellent day to make all the various calls to the IT folks and Get It Done. First, I forgot my password enough that I locked myself out of the log-in page that would get me started on the process. Then, after calling to change it, I discovered that it didn't matter because I had been dropped off the official list of people who needed to access this whole deal. So, I had to call AGAIN. And, then wait an half hour.

So, I took full advantage of my half hour and I went to the library to return a book that was about to be due and to pick up another on hold. I then, went to the grocery store and picked up victuals for dinner tonight. (Mason really wanted "meat muffins"--which are basically individual meat loaves in muffin tins.)

Back at home I downloaded the app and thought I had it all set. Well, for reasons unknown to me, the process got hung up in the verification step and so I had to call IT AGAIN. This time the guy was one of those people that you sort of wonder how they keep their job because he was so inarticulate, while also insulting my intelligence ("Did you try to scan the QV code from the PDF?" To which I said, "Do you THINK I'm a moron?" He chuckled but added, "You'd be surprised how often that's the problem.") But, he also left me with the "instruction" to wait for a call back from IT when they were done resetting my account.

Good f*cking thing I didn't wait for a call before I tried again, because I'D STILL BE WAITING.

Instead, I thought, surely it's been long enough and I went through the process and this time it worked, no hitches.

Good news, everyone: I appear to still be employed by Ramsey County and I now have access to mail at home.

Woo.

Otherwise, I printed out all of the submissions for tomorrow night's Wyrdsmith's meeting (for those of you who are new subscribers, Wyrdmiths is an in-person writers' group that I founded back in 1997-ish[?] that has been on-going ever since. We meet on Thursday nights at a local coffee shop and talk writing.) We have one very short story from Adam, and new novel bits from [personal profile] naomikritzer I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing both of those tomorrow while I sit at the laundromat washing all of the rag rugs that poor Ms. Ball ruined with her Hell PoopTM .

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan 9) )
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
The phone rang just now and it was our old vet, Dr. Holly.

We stopped going to All Paws some time ago for various reasons, including issues of money, but when the Lap of Love people asked us if we had vets that should be informed, we told them to let both Como *and* All Paws know, since it seemed right. All Paws had seen Ball for years before we switched.

I can't get over that she called, but Dr. Holly is just that good, just that caring. She was devastated by our loss and was desperate to know what had happened. It was hard to have to tell her that we ultimately had NO IDEA what killed Ms. Ball in the end. I could tell that she was trying very hard not to be incensed on our behalf that Como wasted time with a mistaken first diagnosis. I had to reassure her that this was a mystery that even Dr. Ralph had no clue about when he did the ultrasound, and, given that we were racing against time with Ball's weight loss, Como did the best they could.

Which I really do believe.

Even though she never pressured me to say anything about it, I told her that we absolutely would have brought Ball to her, but she's basically become unavailable. She works one day a week, starting at 3 pm, and then ONE Saturday a month. Otherwise she exclusively does animal surgery and dentistry. My problems were with the other main doctor there (and I couldn't tell Holly that, as the other doctor is not only her colleague, but her WIFE.) We needed someone who could see Ball ASAP, someone who wasn't half way across the metro area. St. Louis Park isn't the end of the world, but we were ALWAYS fighting highway traffic, even during the best of times. I feel badly about this, because everyone in this family secretly believes that Dr. Holly would have moved heaven and earth to find out what was wrong with Ms. Ball.

I need to remind myself that Dr. Holly saw all our previous cats, and none of them lived any longer than our current eldest cat, Ms. Piggy, who is easily closing on 18. Also, sometimes these things just hit like a storm and there's nothing to be done.

I'm glad she called, though. She's such a good person. Shawn and I did some calculations and we'd been seeing Dr. Holly exclusively for 29 years. Almost as long as we've been together, Shawn and I. (Shawn and I met in 1985; we started seeing Dr. Holly with our first cat, Artemis, in 1990.)

Other than that, it was a low-key Tuesday. [personal profile] naomikritzer came over for lunch and I fed her hot dish (as provided by the Randalls.) I'm always impressed by the range of conversation Naomi and I can have--everything from professional jealousy, mastectomies and reconstructive surgery, to Star Wars movies. I guess that's what it's like with a good friend.

The only other thing that's worth reporting is that Mason's PSAT scores (he took a practice practice test, as it were, in 10th grade) went public and now a bunch of colleges are emailing him, letting him know that, you know, when the time comes, they'd sure like to have him. That's fairly gratifying. I feel proud, even though the only thing I did was help prod Mason to prod his school into letting him take the test early.

So that's cool.

Spell-a-Day (Jan. 8) )
lydamorehouse: (Default)
The Lap of Love folks have their own memorial page for pets and so I decided to add Ms. Ball. If you'd like to see a bit more about how Ball got her name and came to us, there's a short bit of a story about her under the "about" tab: www.lapoflove.com/pet-memorial.aspx. You are welcome to leave a "candle" there, if you like. (It all appears to be free.)

But, there's no need to make a special effort. I have very much appreciated all the comments left here for her and in support of our family during this horrible time.

In other news, because life goes on, I've decided to take on a rather unusual project for the next year. One of my Solstice gifts was Llewellyn's Witches' Spell-a-Day Almanac. Even though I'm getting a late start, I thought I would attempt to do each daily spell for the rest of the year. I will report on them here, probably a bit like I did with Ms. Ball's update, under a cut, in case my pagan practices aren't terribly interesting to you. But, nearly every year I vow to be "more witchy" and this seemed like a fun project to undertake. Plus, I have long followed the Tarot for Yourself practice of figuring out my personal "year" card, and, by chance, this year I have Temperance.


Aquarian Deck:Temperance


Which, according to Greer (my Tarot book author) means when applied to the year: "Developing health and haling practices, testing and trying out your beliefs and philosophy, creative combinations." (emphasis mine.) Seems like a good year, then, to try something like this.

I should probably put out there, before I begin this, that I'm very much aware that Llewellyn is in the BUSINESS of magic, and so, I will likely be critiquing some of these spells based on how much their ingredients might cost a newbie who might think they need the exact oils, herbs, soaps, etc., and will be offering cheaper alternatives (or practices that involve buying NOTHING.) I have, myself, been practicing witchcraft since the early 1990s, so I will be taking a lot of these spells with the proverbial grain of salt. If there are ones that I feel are ill-advised I will post about why I think so and see if the previous years' almanacs have alternatives that might work better.

But, even so, there's no harm in trying a project like this. I think it will be a fun away to be more mindful in my practice.Test out my beliefs, think about my philosophy. These are good things.

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 6) )

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 7) )
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Ball in a box

Details about Ball's passing... )

Ball being a ball

Weird (interesting) stuff that happened afterwards... )

cat on a chair

Gucci, gucci. We will miss you Ms. Ball, our mouser extraordinaire.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
A friend of mine pointed out that she's been anxiously awaiting cat news, so I suppose I should catch you all up on it.

You may not want to read this, the news is grim and potentially disturbing... )

So, that sucks.

Yesterday, I skipped being with my usual ladies for our Friday writing gathering to stay home to be with Ball. I let her sleep in my arms while I watched a sappy Japanese soap opera called Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light. Its a Netflix original about a young man who tries to reconnect with his dad through video gaming. I ended up reviewing it on MangaKast, if you're interested in reading my take on it.

Mason is currently at the robotics kick-off. (He's the one in front second from the right with the gray hoodie and dorky smile.)

robotics brainstorming

He had to chose between work and robotics today, so that was tough--especially since work was team kick-off. So it was robotics first day or first day with his new work team. He handled the choice well (doing all the due diligence about informing his team leader, etc.) and I think, ultimately, this was the right pick. Work will be there. Robotics season is temporary.  Both are worthy STEM projects, so....

I should try to eat lunch.

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