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?
lydamorehouse: (Renji talking smack)
 We went to Whole Foods yesterday, thinking to have a nice lunch after soap shopping. It was a disappointment.

I don't know what I was expecting exactly, but Mason had been looking forward to samosas and chicken marsala, both of which he's had before at the Whole Foods deli and really enjoyed. They didn't have any samosas and their chicken marsala was watery and the chunks of chicken were so big that they didn't absorb very much flavor.  It was kind of a bust. (My sushi was good, but...)

We did manage to find some fun soaps, however. There was even a scent called "dirty hippy." Mason was surprised when I guessed that it was basically patchouli.  He didn't buy it, but I could see he was tempted just because of the name. 

Since we were out driving around, we decided to head out to the Ramsey County Library to pick up the books that had come in for me. I requested the first four volumes of Pandora Hearts, which is an anime I started watching.  I figured I might actually be able to plow through it a little faster if I read it.  I'm not very good at binge watching, alas.  Binge reading? Yes. Watching, not so much for some reason. At any rate, I picked them all up and also found a few more on the shelves, so now I have the first seven to read.

From there, Mason talked me into stopping at Game Stop and picking up "Street Fighter" because we've been looking for a game that we can play together. I really like racing him in Mario Carts, but I think he feels bad for me because I'm SO TERRIBLE at it. He'll come in #1 and I'll be dead last. The point is, even though *I* found that fun, he really wanted something we'd be more equally matched in. "Street Fighter" totally works, because a button masher like me can totally win.  In fact, I easily won half of the time.  I think we've found our game.

Because Mason really craved samosas, we managed to talk Shawn into going out to the Indian place for dinner last night. (We like "Taste of India" in Maplewood.) Mason tried vindaloo chicken, Shawn had her usual chicken marsala, and I had curried veggies.  By chance at the restaurant, we ran into our friends Sean Murphy and Katherine Carlson who were coming back from Mankato, after having, unsuccessfully, tried to get into see the Viking's training camp.  They'd also stopped at "Minnesota's Largest Candy Store" on the way back, though Katherine thought the amount of candy on display was almost "obscene." I'm not sure I disagree, but, for me, that's half of the fun of that place. (I'm guessing they managed more virtue than we did. We left with a huge bagful, which was pretty obscene all by itself, after all.)  So we kind of chatted over the booths for a while, but we'd gotten there earlier, so we left after a few minutes.  Still, it was neat to see them. It's been a while, and Sean is one of my very best friends. (I was reminded, seeing him, that we still haven't made it to "Spider-Man: Homecoming.")  

I think I fell into a food coma after that.  I read a little bit in bed, but next thing I knew it was morning.  :-)

Tonight: Twins Game! We should have good weather for it. I will take a lot of pictures.
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Just in under the August 11 deadline, I got my proposal in to the Loft for an intermediate/advanced adult science fiction/fantasy class.  Fingers crossed that they decide to take it.  Apparently--at least according to the front matter for the submission process--the Loft is going to offer fewer classes in the hopes of promoting them better. I would feel slightly better about my chances if the Loft had any real sense of just how many science fiction/fantasy geeks live in this town and/or how to reach out to them. But, fingers crossed! I would certainly help them find folks, if they asked!

But, I feel good for having gotten that done. It's been on my to-do list for over a week. Earlier, I submitted a workshop for teen writers, at the request of my Summer Youth Class Coordinator, which HAS already been accepted into the catalogue.  So, provided that people sign-up for that, I should have work in 2018, even if the adult class doesn't make the cut.

Otherwise, I've kind of forgotten how to Monday.  Having three days up at our friends' cabin was so blissful that I've kind of lost track of all the stuff that needs doing. Let's see, tomorrow is the Twins game against the Brewers that Mason and I decided to go to. We'd actually had tickets for last Thursday, but that was the really blustery day/night AND Mason managed to get a stomach bug.  He was pretty upset having to miss it (especially since there's really no cancellation policy and we were out $$), so we went ahead and made plans for tomorrow. Should be fun... I mean, I'm not a huge sports fan, but I've learned to enjoy baseball, as it is Mason's sport, and pro games are always kind of amazing (as opposed to amateur, I mean.)  Anyway, that's one thing on the agenda this week.  

I also reserved tickets for LATE (10 pm!) Friday night to see my friend Naomi perform in her show at the Fringe Festival.  I'm only disappointed that my other Fringe performing friend, Commarrah, has a show on the same day at the EXACT same time. (Part of the deal with the Fringe is that you have to have a day pass and I was really, really hoping that Commarrah's show would be same day, only, say, _earlier_. Alas. I may still have to contrive to see it. Her show has been getting great reviews.) But, I have never done any part of the Fringe before, so this should be... interesting, as we say here in Minnesota.  We'll see how it all goes. If any of you local folks have advice, feel free to leave it in the comments.

One of my goals for this week is to write up a nice proposal for the thing I'm currently working on and send it off to Martha, my agent.  I should probably have an outline at any rate, so writing up something like that is never a bad idea.  

Mason and I are probably going to go to Whole Foods for lunch. We've been meaning to get Mason over to Whole Foods to check out their fun soaps (something he'd wanted for a stocking stuffer, but we kept forgetting to get for him....and then we decided it might be nicer for him to pick out his own scents.) The new location has a large buffet area, so we can kill two birds and all that.

Yeah... so, that's me. How's your Monday going?


lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
 We got our annual invite to spend a weekend up a our friends' cabin in Wisconsin's northwoods.  It's soooooo relaxing up here.  The water was a bit cold, but we managed.

mason floating on an inner tube, reading

Also, there were hummingbirds:

hummingbirds in the monardia

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
It's late for me, but I'm just back from work at the Maplewood Library. Plus, I am trying out my new computer, a Lenovo. I'm trying to get used to the keyboard. There is a funny positioning of the shift key. But, I'm sure I'll adjust. PLUS, it turns out that my Mac was fixable. My friend Patrick played around with it today and got it up and running. Hooray!

So, let's see, what have I been reading? I actually managed a real book the other day. I read Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel. It read really quickly, but the entire thing was mostly written as a series of interviews (and a smattering of journal entries and news clippings) instead of an actual narrative voice. I never quite decided how I felt about that. On top of that, there was also a very weird intrusion of the "male gaze." The lead scientist is a woman who has become convinced that the giant alien statue they're assembling (not a spoiler, this is revealed on the very first page,) is female. She gets really excited when they find the torso, because it has breasts. I object to none of this. What I found... unnatural was her long description of the statue's breast, using words like "perky" and saying things like, "she was likely the envy of all the other girl statues!" I won't go so far to say that no woman I know talks like this about boobs, because there are always exceptions, but this very much had the feel of those things I'm sure you've read where a male author describes a female character putting on her sweater and thinking to herself about the sexy contours of her body in long, loving detail. (See current Twitter storm over John Updike.)

I'm half way through the first volume of a josei manga called Bunny Drop by Yumi Unita, which I am enjoying so far. It's about a young salaryman who ends up adopting his grandfather's love child. I'm weirdly a sucker for these kinds of stories, where adults who normally don't deal with kids, suddenly have to. It's kind of trope in yaoi, actually.

I also started Spells of Blood and Kin by Claire Humphrey. I'm not very far into it, but I think I'll enjoy it. Like Bunny Drop, it starts with a funeral, only instead of grandpa dying, it's grandma.  

That's me this week. You?
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)

 One nice thing about having old technology is that I'm not nearly as tempted by the shiny that is the interwebs.  

On a side-note, do you suppose this happens to Captain America a lot?  Tony: "Steve! Where the hell were you? We texted you a half dozen times!" Steve: *glances at iPhone* "Oh! That's what all that beeping was! I forget about this thing all the time." Because, he would. He grew up, like I did, without the internet, but he also grew up without TV, which is almost impossible for me to imagine. Captain America must have the concentration abilities of a GOD. I would also bet you money that movies give him heart palpitations and possibly motion sickness (mostly this guess is based on Mason's first reaction to a "normal speed" movie--previously, as a kid, because we didn't do TV, he liked really slow animation, like Bambi).

Anyway, the point is, and I do have one, that I've been able to get a lot of writing done. As I mentioned in passing, I have this project from my agent that I'm working on. I don't know why, but she'd really like to sell something more of mine to Tapas Media.  I'll be honest, she probably just wants to sell ANYTHING of mine to ANYONE, since it's been a long time since I've had anything to give her. I suspect that was why the idea of another trunk novel, however bad, excited her. 

It's just... this trunk novel.... it's not just "oh, I wasn't all that into it" kind of bad. It's the kind of bad where, because I was writing for a proto-NaNoWriMo type thing where I was just trying to get a certain number of words done in a day, I have actual sections that read like this: "His eyes were blue, not just a run of the mill blue, but the bluest blue like the bluest blue sky ever." That's a paraphrase, but I was basically just willing to repeat words in order to get words on the page.  On top of that, I had not done the kind of pre-planning that's required for a successful NaNoWriMo and so, when I got bored of the main love interest, I randomly replaced him with his evil twin, with no set-up or foreshadowing or anything. 

This is not a novel I want to put my name on.

I don't even think it COULD sell, even if we sent it to someone.But, Martha also handily sent me a list of "features" that Tapas found successful, and so I thought: I'm not writing anything for-profit right now. Why not just try writing something to spec?  

So far, it's working. That is, I'm feeling good about the words going on the page which is more than I can say about a lot of the writing projects I've started in the past several years.  Anyway, wish me luck.
 

lydamorehouse: (ichigo hot)
 Hello from 1998 or thereabouts.  No, I'm not actually time traveling, alas, but my computer is. I'm on a super ancient (in computer years) Gateway, which I am using as a stop gap replacement until we can figure out a cheap new laptop for me.  

So what happened to the Mac? I wish I had a story as good as the time I dropped a frozen turkey on my laptop, but, alas, I think what killed my Mac as a combination of age and... abuse. Yes, it fell off something while it was running... But, thing is, I have dropped this particular Mac from the distance of my chair cushion to the floor multiple times and it's survived just fine. This time? Alas, this time it decided "Nope. Peace out."  Can I blame it? Not really. It's lasted far longer than a lot of my computers.  I'm hard on technology, fam. I just am. I drop phones into rivers in South Dakota and I pummel laptops with 24 pound frozen turkeys.

And, until Shawn can do some research into the best, cheapest laptop, I will be without... well, mostly Skype, it seems. Pretty much everything else can still be run from the 1990s. Once I downloaded a more up-to-date version of Chrome, I seemed to be able to  function pretty well on Facebook without freaking out every time I hit a graphic bundle. I have not tried Twitter or Tumblr, both of which might be beyond the capabilities of this machine.  Tumblr, I suspect, will be too graphics-heavy, though, with the new Chrome,, this guy was able to survive the new .gif and video things on Facebook... so maybe?  Not that I've been going to Tumblr much these days, but it is nice to check in now and again.

No Skype is a bummer. But, I'm hoping to have a new laptop before the week is out. 

I lost nothing of consequence, except a bit of the stuff I was trying to do to salvage a trunk novel for my agent who, for reasons known only to her, really wants me to to try to sell another novel to Tapas Media (that place where we sold Sidhe Promised, the app that made you pay as you go).  I had foolishly started working on that in Word.  But, most everything else I do these days I do on Google Docs, so it's automatically saved on the cloud or inside the brains of Google HQ or wherever that stuff goes.  At any rate, it was not ON my computer, per se, and that's good because it means I still have access to all my works-in-progress, even my Loft course proposals.

Yesterday was just bad technology day because Mason couldn't figure out how to get his Nintendo Switch remote charger to work.  (It may just be, we discovered, that Zelda sucks more energy than the charger can recharge, so he might have to just connect to the console or whatever if he wants to keep playing that particular game.)  But, there was a lot of swearing and reading obtuse manuals, etc. 

We also tried to do our usual Skype chat via Skype on Mason's ROG laptop, but Mason has disabled cameras (for reasons of being 14 and cyber savvy) so between that and issues on my folks' end, we had to give that up after a lot of swearing and reading Skype help pages, etc.

I am hoping today will be less technologically stressful. 

The good news is that my needs are low. I like to be able to check a few social media site, read a few on-line articles, and write in Google Docs. I can do all that from here. It's slower and clunkier, but it's very do-able.  I could complain, but why?
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 Oops, I forgot that yesterday was "What Are You Reading? Wednesday."  This week has been very weird for me.  But, enough of that.  I will simply move my Wednesday list to today!

I picked up a nonfiction book at the library called Gnosticism and Other Vanished Christianities by Richard Valantasis.  I've been interested in the Gnostics since reading Elaine Pagels, plus this one promised to talk about other wacky early Christian cults.  I'm about halfway through the book and I'm a little disappointed in the surface treatment of everything, but the this is a Belief.net publication, so I probably should have expected as much.

Otherwise, I've been doing my usual yaoi reading. I read After Morning Love by Fujii Mitori, which I actually liked better than most.  I feel like the official translator missed the boat with the title though, I think you'd get a slightly better sense of the plot if it were called, "The Morning After Love," just a very slight change that tells you that this starts with the classic, "Wait, why am I hungover? Who is in my bed?" and leads to romance.

But, I speak almost no Japanese, so, weirdly, no one has hired me to be a translator.

Speaking of Japanese study, I've been terrible about keeping up with it, BUT I started watching "Pandora Hearts" on recommendation and I actually had to pause at one point because I distinctly heard the hero ask, "Kimi wa?"  (Who are you?) Given my native-speaker Japanese teacher's reaction to someone offering 'kimi' as a word for 'you,' (he turned BEET RED and literally could not speak for several seconds. I had to be the one to tell the student, "Um, that's a little rude? You've shocked Tetsuya-sensei."), I thought--okay, either this person is extremely rude or... maybe we're supposed to presume previous intimacy, despite the fact he doesn't recognize this demon-woman?  

"Anata wa?" is even fairly rude for an opening gamut, in my understanding. I feel like a polite person would ask, "Dare desu ka?" (lit: "Who is?') leaving off any rude pronouns.... which are most of them, so there you go.

To be fair, this guy is freaked out, and anime heroes tend to be rude as a rule (at least in shounen). Ichigo, for instance, is not someone you want to learn Japanese from because he starts out using the pronoun "tamee" which is akin to shouting out 'Yo, a$$hole' to people you meet. But 'tamee' ...you hear it a lot in anime speech.  You hardly ever hear 'kimi' spoken (or rather I should say, *I* haven't noticed it as often since I started paying attention) except in love songs, where it seems to be used almost exclusively, because of the intimacy it implies. My gut sense of 'kimi' is that it's not the normal sort of word you'd use WITH A STRANGER.

I had a long talk about this with another friend of mine who is studying and eventually, with the help of Google, we learned that 'kimi' as a you-pronoun can be used by men of a high status when addressing an underling without being considered rude AF.  Apparently, in the right context, 'kimi' implies a strong hierarchy, and, thus, tells us a LOT about this character, in that he can presume that the person he's addressing--a STRANGER--is automatically and significantly below him in the social pecking order.  This fits with the character, in that he is presented as a lordling of some sort, though after this pronoun use, I'm going to have to assume PRINCLING of some sort, or possibly even THE prince of all the land.

Things you can glean listening to a program in a language you barely speak.... kind of fun. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, because I am absolutely NOT one of those anime fans who will lecture a fellow fan that subs (subtitles) are superior in every way to dubs (dubbed)--BUT, I will suggest to anyone who is able to handle /comfortable reading while watching to give subs a try once, if you never have, because I do believe that it is possible to pick up extra content subconsciously.  Obviously, the above is an example that only works for someone like me, who is trying to learn the language.  BUT, previous to this, I FELT things about some characters in "Bleach" based only on my impression of their voices--their inflection, etc.  Without knowing ANYTHING about Japanese, I picked up on the fact that one character had an unusual accent (Gin for those in the know) and that it was likely Significant.  I do not know what they did with Gin's voice actor in English.  Ideally, American/Western voice actor casting would have a native-speaker on staff consulting about regional and class accents. (Please don't pretend we don't have class accents in American English. You KNOW what an upperclass East Coast accent is compared to a dirt-poor Southern drawl...) I know likely don't have a person like that on staff, but in my ideal world they would, because this is the stuff I feel you get by listening to the foreign language often enough, even without ANY study.

That being said, if, right now, you're feeling like I just dissed you because you prefer dubs.....  Honey, no!  I am so happy you're watching anime!!  I would never, ever tell you that you MUST do subs. If dubs is what works for you, yay!  I watched all of Full Metal Alchemist and Black Butler dubbed and J. Michael Tatum (the voice of Sebastian in the English BB) is an amazing dude and I would FIGHT anyone who says he's not an awesome, seductive Sebastian!

Besides, if you've been watching anime long enough, there used to be things you could ONLY get dubbed.  I have no idea what the original Starblazers sounds like, but my anime fan cred is strong because, kids, I was watching that LITERALLY before many of you were born: in 1978.  Deslock was my first anime husbando. 

Wow, this turns into a long screed. My apologies.  Gomen, gomen....

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