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.


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: 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.
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
This morning as my family piled into the car to head off to work and school, we discovered we'd been robbed. Someone had gotten into our car and rifled through the glovebox and the various compartments. They absconded with my adorable kitty change purse and about $1.50 in loose coins, most of them pennies.

I hope that $1.50 was useful.

Though I want my change purse back, you b*st*rds, That was a Solstice gift!

If you're wondering if we also suffered a broken window, we didn't. I have a 50/50 chance of remembering to lock the car doors and last night was apparently one of the times that I forgot. I should know better, as this has happened to us numerous times before. But, there's just so little to steal.. I mean, seriously, the cute little zip purse was probably worth more (to me, anyway,) than the collection of odd change within it.

We have to park outside, on the street, because, though we TECHNICALLY have a garage, it's so old that it still has "barn" doors. Currently, it's function is as junk storage/a potting shed.

I used to feel weird to see all of our stuff tossed around the front seat, knowing some stranger sat in our car trying to find something useful, but it's happened enough that now I just feel vaguely annoyed and sort of sad for an individual who is so desperate that a $1.50 makes it worth the effort/chance of being caught. Seriously, whoever you are, you missed the big payload on New Year's Eve. There was probably a whole two or three dollars in dimes just sitting on the steps outside of our house. Think of what you could have bought for three dollars! A whole Slim Jim! (maybe.)

This is why this is sad to me. I hope the other cars this person rifled through last night actually netted them enough money to buy some French fries at Wendy's, if that's what they needed.

Speaking of the car, it's currently at the mechanics. Our car's dash has been flashing an oil change warning for over a week now, and yesterday I called to see if our usual place, Dave's, had any time this week to slide us in. They told me that 8:30 am today would work, which is why I am writing to you all from the Dunn Brother's Coffeeshop in Roseville, which is kitty corner from the auto repair place (and attached to the Roseville library).

With all the vet bills, I really didn't want to have to take care of the car, but it's our only car and if it stops working with the kitty in it on the way to the emergency clinic... that would be more than bad. An oil change SHOULDN'T break the bank, either. It's just a hassle and it means I'm away from home and Ms. Ball for however long it takes.

Continued kitty saga for those following along at home... )
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
All I know is that it's 2019. I have no actual idea what day of the week it is. Wednesday is my best guess.

My family all went back to school and work. I stayed home with kitty, who is still with us, but it's unclear how long (more under the cut at the end.) I was extremely grateful when [personal profile] naomikritzer reached out to offer to bring lunch and chat. She brought some potato/leek soup that was left over from a New Year's Eve party that she'd gone to. I supplied some day-old French bread, and she also brought a spinach and cheese stuffed naan that needed to be rescued from a freezer that apparently stopped freezing and used up. All and all a lovely meal, made more lovely by the chance to chat with a dear friend about anything OTHER than a sick cat for several hours.

It is also "What Are You Reading" Wednesday, and I can report that I read another short story last night. "Sour Milk Girls" by Erin Roberts which I kind of hated. There's no hard and fast rule that stories have to have a happy ending to be satisfying. Lots of people will tell you that they sometimes feel that grim endings are more realistic, but what "Sour Milk Girls" felt like to me was "mean girls being mean, the end." There was a clever sort of word-building going on, but one of the main plot points (memories being wiped) was never explained in context of the world. What was the point of it? What did the people doing the wiping (institutionally, and then, later, individually) get out of it? What was the benefit? And, then it was just "ha, ha, we were mean."

Or, so it seemed to me.

Well, I will keep hunting. I have five slots I can fill in my nominations for the Nebula, and I only have three filled so far. There are lots and lots of eligible short stories out there.

I'm also revisiting Starhawk's Truth or Dare.; Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, which is a book I tried to read when it came out in the late 1980s. I'm not sure how this type of book bills itself. It's not non-fiction, though it tries hard to be, with footnoted research and a lot of academic language. It's kind of like creative nonfiction, maybe? With a dash of memoir and a lot of poetry? Starhawk (a native St. Paulie!) is one of those people that a lot of pagans my age read back in the day. She's probably best known for Spiral Dance, which is a bit more of a how-to. Possibly my revisiting of Starhawk should have started there, because I'm finding Truth or Dare tough going. Reading it has made me think about how little has changed and how many revolutions are still needed.

When I need something lighter (or to pass the time at the vet's office), I've been SLOWLY making my way through the first Longmire book, The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson. Shawn and I really enjoyed watching "Longmire," and Shawn found a copy of this at on the library friends bookstore's free shelf.

Cat update (not good) )
lydamorehouse: (ichigo irritated)
New Year's day is the day we take down our Christmas/Yule tree and pack away the decorations.

This year is no exception. Though we did start in on the process a little bit yesterday, since we knew any big undertaking all at once would be too much for us. Normally, I find this process a little sad and emptying, but, this time, it restored a small sense of order.

Partly because we often use our downstairs bathroom as a place to store all the boxes and bins that the Yule stuff comes out of. Normally, this is a temporary hassle that is tolerable and makes more sense than dragging everything back up to the attic, only to drag it all down and back up again in a matter of weeks. However, with the very much needed addition of an emergency downstairs litter box, it was impossible to keep the floor clean of litter bits and everything just felt chaotic any time I needed to change the box or even just didn't want to bother to go upstairs to do my own bathrooming.

The decoration bins are now staged to migrate upstairs over the next day or two and then be tucked back into their corner in the attic. The rocking chair is off the porch and back in its spot as the guest chair. It was never MEANT to only belong to guests, but... well, funny story about that:

I have a friend Theo, who, when they were buying a house for themselves, got really into the theory of interior decorating. They read a book that talked a lot about what your furniture and style choices say about you and your family's values. They took one look around our cozy little living room, the three overstuffed chairs pointed towards each other in an intimate circle, and the weird, almost out of place rocker and nodded and said, "This house is house for three."

And they are absolutely right.

We happily entertain others, but in the end of the day, this house is a house for three. Possibly three HOBBITS, given the amount of food around the house. We have little stacks of books at our feet and blankets (and snoozing cats) everywhere. The house often smells of something baking.

In fact, I took bread out of the oven only a few minutes ago. I have a French bread recipe I always make as an accompaniment to our traditional wild rice soup for New Year's day. Wild rice soup became the tradition because the recipe we have--from my late stepbrother Mark--calls for BOTH turkey and ham, and we always have leftovers of each in the freezer from the holidays.

We have a pagan ritual we do every morning of the new year, too. Last night, some time before midnight, we find a dime minted in the current year and add it to our collection of dimes that are wrapped in a gold silk square. We put this symbolic "silver and gold" outside of our house and then, in the morning, we bring it in over the threshold to symbolize the act of bringing fortune to us in the new year. This has been our good luck tradition for years (we could probably count the years, given the number of dimes. At least 20, at a guess. I can't remember if we were doing this when we lived in Uptown before we bought this house or not.)

Do you have something personal like that, something to bring you luck in the new year?

I have to say, this is the first year that I've even heard of the whole "rabbit, rabbit" thing. But, I had two FB friends discussing it this morning. Despite my surname, I'm clearly not British (or American?) enough for this whole tradition.

Quick cat update for those interested... )
lydamorehouse: fish obsession (makoto)
ms. ball in better days

This is an old picture of Ms. Ball hiding out in the fabric basket that Shawn uses for her rag rugs. I have more recent pics of her, but mostly they're of her sleeping and I wanted folks to see her awake (albeit sleepy.)

As my subject today says: knock on wood, it's been a quiet day.

Last night around 2 am, there was much crying again. It really did NOT seem as if the meds were helping and, in fact, they seemed almost as if they were making things worse. That 2 am Hell PoopTM was... hellacious and so MUCH that I just sort of broke. I ended up staying awake from about 2 am until 4 am, anxiously cleaning the house (people who know me, know how BAD things have to be for me to find comfort in any kind of housework.)

I woke up to give her her meds and then went for another run to PetCo, because yesterday we found a great soupy food that she seemed to really, really love. So, I picked up more of those and more cans labeled "gravy lover." A side note about PetCo? I think I know why I stopped going there regularly. It's literally impossible to tell when they will be open. What do you mean, Lyda? Surely, their hours are posted on their website. Oh, yes, my friends, there are hours posted there, but THREE DAYS IN A ROW, THEY'VE BEEN WRONG. Yes, I am looking at the store that matched my location. It's just... I swear to god they post their hours this way: "Oh, Lyda wants to be here at 8 am and our website says we'll be open then, let's open at 9 am! Now it's Sunday and she's double checked that you'll be open at 9 am? HA! We will open at 10!" I SWEAR TO GOD THIS IS PERSONAL AND THEY HATE ME.

If I had remembered to bring my phone with me, I would have taken a picture of the hours posted on the door, because those seem to actually be accurate.

Anyway, I digress.

After much sobbing last night, I was steeled for another rough day.

Yet... so far, so good. We had one Hell PoopTM around noon, but nothing since. I am moderately hopeful that she will make it until some ungodly hour again tonight. Ideally, of course, she'll go even longer, but Murphy's Law predicts somewhere in the middle of the night. Possibly just as I've entered the most restful sleep cycle, because sleep? What's sleep?

However, I've been able to relax enough today to make not only dinner, but lunch, too.  If things proceed like this, our household may be back to its regularly scheduled three squares a day.  

Wacky, right? 

Who knows, if things continue this way I might actually be able to only mention the cat's health in passing and actually write about other things again.
lydamorehouse: (temporary incoherent rage)
I started a fight on the internet today.

This, my children, is never advisable. To be fair, I stand by my impulse (if not some of my exact words). But, as a consequence, I spent a lot of today being really annoyed by people I only barely know in real life, and... I'm pretty sure that, thanks to a literal case of mistaken identity, my FB "footprint" has changed in some people's minds. Now, because there was a PM resolution (and apology) that didn't appear in public, all that remains of the fight is weird and disjointed and potentially makes me look like someone who is well-known in other venues as an absolute horrible VILLAIN.

Thanks, internet.

I guess it served to distract me from our sick kitty, but I can't say that, in the end, I even ever managed to MAKE MY POINT.

Which is: don't be a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) in front of me, end of story.


Sick kitty remains sick, so read only if you want the continued updates )

I think I will get up now and make dinner for my family and maybe write some long form, snail mail letters.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today, despite waking up to freezing rain, I took Shawn into work this morning, got myself some coffee, and made another quick run to PetCo for a bunch of cat food for Ms. Ball.

Friday is normally the day that I go meet my writing friends at Claddaugh Coffee. It was looking like it might get cancelled, since Eleanor is out of town and [personal profile] pegkerr was visiting family. But, [personal profile] naomikritzer and I decided to meet, anyway. I really, really needed to get out of the house and think about something OTHER than Ms. Ball and Mason is perfectly capable of looking after her while I was out for a couple hours. (I will give y'all an update under the cut, below.)

Hanging out with Naomi bolstered me enough that I was able to make a normal dinner for my family when I came home--something I really had NOT been up to for the last few days. To be fair, I made a staple: Indian chicken (sauce from a box), rice, and homemade (fake) naan. And, I fell asleep in my chair while waiting for the naan to rise. But, getting everyone to the dinner table felt like a real accomplishment.

I've been thinking ahead to the new year and one of the things I really want to get back to is my regular reading habit. It feels very weird not to have read much over the past few months. If any of you have suggestions for books, I'd love to hear them. Currently, I'm looking for new-ish authors (preferably PoCs, queer/trans folks, and/or women) who write science fiction/fantasy. I'm fairly well read in the last few years' SF/F award winners, as I challenged myself to read those a couple of years ago. But, even if you have something you love that doesn't seem like it would fit that, I'd still love to know what you've been reading and enjoying. There is no genre I won't read. I'm currently reading a Western, so, seriously, offer up anything! I'd even be up for a good non-fiction book.

The only thing my brain has had energy for over the last few days have been novelettes and short stories. I'm a SFWA member (smartest thing I EVER did, career-wise, was buy a lifetime membership) and so I've been prepping to nominate for the Nebula Award. Things I've read so far and enjoyed are:

A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E Harrow

You Can Make a Dinosaur, but You Can't Help Me by KM Szpara (has a trans character and is #ourvoices)

Cherry Wood Coffin by Eugenia Triantafyllou (Horror)

The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births by José Pablo Iriarte (has a non-binary character)

The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer

I read several others, including: "The Court Magician" by Sarah Pinsker, which I enjoyed, but which felt like the author had discovered Orson Scot Card's book on writing and particularly the section about "the price of magic" and didn't really have much else for a story. I also read "Mother Tongues" by S Qiouyi Lu, which I liked quite a bit, but it actually HAS to be listened to via the podcast as there are large sections of untranslated Mandarin. I also listened to "Dandelion" by Elly Bangs, which I felt mostly 'meh' about, but that might be because everything was starting up with Ms. Ball about the time reading that one.

There were a number that I started, but gave up on, too.

I haven't read any manga in weeks. I need to get back into that habit, too. But, to be fair on that front, I did participate in Yuletide this year as a pinch hitter, so I was busy reviewing some of my favorites.

Okay... and now for the Ms. Ball update (TMI warning) )
lydamorehouse: fish obsession (makoto)
 To anyone who kept Ms. Ball in their thoughts: IT WORKED. IT F*CKING WORKED.

Technically, Ms. Ball is NOT out of the woods yet. I just got back from the vet and I wrote this to my friend [personal profile] naomikritzer  I am 100% frazzled.  You know our dying cat?  Well, she's gone from "pretty sure it's bladder cancer" to "yeah, or maybe an infection?" To be fair, we finally got to talk to a real expert, an ultrasound guy that I've actually met before, "Dr. Ralph." Dr. Ralph is a hippy nerd who goes around in blue mini cooper and carries his fancy ultrasound equipment on a push cart from vet clinic to vet clinic and he cost us only $300, which is kind of astounding. Anyway, he ruled out OBVIOUS cancer.  What he found was a lot of liquid in her bowels and at first he expected to find an obstruction, but didn't. He looked for carcinoma of all sorts, including bladder and felt pretty confident that even though her lymph nodes were a bit swollen he didn't see any.

So, last night at two am we were crying and looking for in-home euthanasia and now we're like, "This antibiotic is all we need? WTF."

I kind of blame our first doctor. He was very cagey and wouldn't commit to a diagnosis, but the only words we heard more than once were bladder cancer. And, it was in his printed notes.  His bedside manner was... well, okay, the thing I've learned about myself and about my family is that what we like in our medical professionals is ALL THE SCIENCE. We need words. We need people who are comfortable bouncing theories around in front of us or even, more importantly, WITH us. We like running commentary. We REQUIRE details, specifics, and _words._  

Luckily, the second doctor we got connected to on the phone had the science. We met another one today who also worded good.  

We used to have a vet we LOVED out in St. Louis Park, but she's gone into semi-retirement and their clinic is the sort who treats first and then presents you with the bill and our financial situation has changed substantially since I was writing full time and before we had Mason.  So, we can't have a doctor who (true story) says "Oh, I'm just going to take Inky into the back and take a look at this lump under his skin" and then when we're paying the bill discover that the "look" was actually an aspiration, which counts as a procedure and COSTS AND ARM AND A LEG.

Como Park Animal Hospital is the sort of place that comes out with an itemized bill for you to go over before they do ANYTHING, even a routine vaccination.  You can cross things out or ask for them to be delayed or check the box that says "would like to discuss payment plan" because they are in a very urban setting and deal with a much wider swatch of the social-economic spectrum.  

But, we haven't really seen many people at Como Park Animal Hospital and we literally took the first appointment available for Ms. Ball and it happened to be with Dr. No Science.

A crisis is not really when you want to be learning about whether or not you have good chemistry with your vet but OH MY GOD IS IT IMPORTANT.

It was kind of funny, because when I right away suggested that I would much rather have a different doctor take over Ms. Ball's care the entire room started nodding their heads and saying what seemed like a practiced phrase when I hedged a bit and said that I would understand if Dr. No Science wanted to follow this case through, though I would rather he took a secondary role, "Please don't worry about it, it is ENTIRELY up to you." 

Anyway, lesson learned. 

And Ms. Ball is NOT out of the woods. She has lost significant weight and we are still NOT sure what the hell is going on with her.  But... maybe an infection and not IMMINENT DEMISE?

Finger crossed and now I may go collapse in a heap.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
It's been a rough couple of days for Ms. Ball, though she seems to be having a good morning, so far.

Potentially TMI Cat issues under the cut )

Okay, so somewhat brighter news.... Of course, my whole family and I spent much of Christmas day worrying about our cat, but we still did our usual round of Christmas eve/day presents. 

Shawn's family has a tradition of the big meal on Christmas Eve followed by present opening. We have morphed this tradition over the years and now open presents as soon as consensus is reached. This year, with Ball's initial appointment and extremely bad news, we ended up delaying opening presents until 1:00 pm.  

Mason got more D&D books, plus a fantasy series he wanted, the Grishaverse trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. We got him "Luigi's Manson" for the 3-DS and several gaming related gift cards, which he promptly spent on games for the Switch. He had also been covetous of an electric blanket that his girlfriends' family owns, so we bought him one of his own. And, of course, socks. Everyone should get a nice pair of socks for the holidays, IMHO.

Shawn turned out to be a trauma this year. I had ordered the presents I wanted to get her ahead of time--two different earrings from a catalogue that specializes in Native American art.  Unfortunately, because each piece is handcrafted, they almost didn't arrive in time and this causes me to turn into one of those deadbeat spouses who wandered around all the nearby stores that were still open wondering if she would like an air-freshener in the shape of a tree or a tin of sardines, you know? Luckily, I was actually able to find a meaningful gift card (when Mason has robots we often have mini-dates at the Caribou near his school) and a gag present of some cookie cutters in fun shapes (a unicorn! A dragon! Stegosaurs!)  And, then, ON CHRISTMAS EVE AFTERNOON the earrings arrived so I was able to quick add one under the tree--after we'd opened, but, hey, the day wasn't over, AND surprise her with the second one in her stocking (she'd only known that I might be buying one of her two choices.)  SAVED FROM DEADBEAT SPOUSE-ING.

I was too frazzled to make a yeast bread with our ham dinner, but I whipped together some popovers last minute. The ham was good, we had mashed potatoes, wild rice hash, and roasted root veggies for sides.  

Christmas morning is when my family used to open presents, so we always reserve one or two for Mason 'from Santa' (yeah, he's fifteen, but he likes the tradition, so we keep it up.) And, then some time in the middle of the night I fill up stockings with candies and small things--normally this is when everyone gets socks, for instance.

Of course, this was the one time Ball's illness worked to our advantage. I was up checking on her at 2 am, anyway, so I took care of the stockings then. I got up again at quarter to six, because that's when we've scheduled her prednisone dose (6 am + 6 pm).  

Christmas day, as noted under the cut above was a hard day for Ball, so I can't say it was our best ever Christmas. Normally, I look forward to having so many days off with my family. We all get along really well (minus hormonal surges.)  And, with nowhere to go and nothing to do, there are usually lots of board games and eggnog.  Shawn is off yet today, so perhaps we can have a day-after Christmas Christmas celebration.

I set up our altar to Bast and we've been keeping a candle going for Ms. Ball. I hope whatever happens, Bast keeps Ms. Ball safe in Her arms.
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
Ms. Ball is sick... and recovery is extremely iffy.

The doctor isn't a hundred percent sure what's wrong with her, but he's worried that it may be bladder cancer.  They did radiographs/ultrasound today and the vet could clearly see that the bladder wall was thickened and lumpy. Combine that with the fact that her weight decline was lightning fast and a urine test showed abnormal amounts of "transitional bladder cells," the prognosis is poor and points quite strongly towards cancer.    

Until we get some more information--radiographs are headed to the University of MN and should be back on Wednesday--the treatment plan is prednisone for anti-inflammatory/cancer inhibition, anti-nausea pills and appetite stimulants.  

But, it's never a good sign when the doctor's notes end with "At this time we can make her feel better with medications."  You don't have to go very far down the internet to find out that transitional cell carcinoma in the bladder is not only fatal, but it's fast-acting.

So, that sucks. Not the news any of us wanted on Christmas Eve.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
And, I'm waiting for Mason to get dressed so we can take Ms. Ball to the vet. 

The more I've been watching her, the more hopeful that it will end up being her teeth (an expensive dental surgery, perhaps, but a one time and your fixed kind of deal.)  Thing is, she leaves food and seems to struggle to eat some fairly soft treats. But! We'll find out what's up for sure in a matter of hours, with any luck.

In the meantime, I can tell you about Yule/Winter Solstice.

As I said in earlier posts, Shawn took the day off work and Mason turned down offers for D&D. We had a kind of a crazy start to the day, partly because there were a few last minute errands in need of running--and of course with Christmas approaching, everyone and their dog was out shopping.  Mason and I also had another little bickering session, wherein I found out that he rarely feels that talking resolves arguments. I think we came out of the other side of that one, if for no other reason than that we TALKED about it without incriminations, etc.  I tell you. Having a smart, perfectionist kid can be a surprising challenge at times. 

Even though we got over it, this threw a wrench into the festive mood for the day. We decided to remedy it by opening our presents at noon. Normally, as this is a solar holiday, we wait until the sun goes down (which, here in Minnesota can be, like, 5 pm or even earlier, I swear.) Shawn and I made rosettes, which breaks for ima/son bonding over Smash Bros.

Rosettes are tedious, but worth it.

rosettes close-uo

Eventually, we had our traditional feast in front of the Yule log.  We like to order Swiss Colony sausages and cheeses for Yule, so the no one has to cook.  The cats were surprisingly non-disruptive, which is amazing since we usually lay out our spread, picnic-style, on the floor.  Perhaps my ploy to feed everyone beforehand ACTUALLY paid off this time.

Then we opened presents.

Yule is the time for small, inexpensive, meaningful gifts. I bought Shawn a pair of earrings that she asked for, which are made by an artisan who uses pieces of vintage plates to make jewelry.  She had stumbled across a pair in the design of a set she loves and sent me the link. I got Mason an "ugly sweater" with Karl Marx on it that says, "All I want for Christmas... is the means of production." That's meaningful for us, since it's part of the litany of things I say to him every morning when I drop him off for school.  "Okay, love you, son! Smash the patriarchy, seize the means of production, and punch the Nazis!" (Sometimes I add, "But remember punching is assault, so I will go your bail!")  We also got him a Player's Manual for D&D and another shirt that has a line from a silly song he introduced us to, "Seagulls, Stop it Now" by Bad Lip Readers. It's kind of a visual experience, so you have to watch the You Tube video.  Shawn got me a coffee mug from a tarot artist who is making a crow tarot deck that just says "Witch" on it, but has a lovely crow on it. 

We then took a candle outdoors and lit the "bonfire." The candle blew out on our first attempt, so we tried again.  We kept the fire going for a while, but not as long as some years. We brought the flame in and put it in an overnight safe container to keep it going.  It pooped out sometime after midnight.

It's been gray here, ever since. 

Take that for what you will.

Right. Have to grab the cat and go~
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
Things are starting to roll in for 2019 and I thought I would make an initial list of some things I will be / am considering doing:

February 2 through March 23 (Saturdays) 10 am to noon, I will be teaching science fiction writing at the Loft (The Loft Literary Center
, Suite 200, Open Book Building, 1011 Washington Avenue South, Minneapolis): Mars Needs Writers: Writing SF/F for Publication. As far as I know, there is still space in this class, so if you are local to me and interested, check it out. I will say that (IMHO) the Loft's prices are fairly steep, but they always offer one scholarship per class.

On February 19th at 8 pm, I will be one of the featured erotic fiction writers at the Not So Silent Planet Open Mic at Kieran's Irish Pub (85 N. 6th Street) in Minneapolis. I have no earthly idea what I will read for 12 minutes, but that's never stopped me from accepting a gig before in my life.

I don't know if I'll be attending MarsCON this year or not. (March 1-3, Hilton Minneapolis/St Paul Airport/Mall of America, 3800 American Blvd. E., Bloomington.) Obviously, if I go, I'll have to miss part of the Saturday of this con, as it overlaps my Loft class. Every year, I wonder if I should do MarsCON, and then someone invites me to do programming and I agree because it's one of the first cons of the season and I just kind of get caught up in the momentum... and then sometimes, afterwards, I think... "Am I getting tired of this one? Should I have taken a break for a couple of years to see if it feels fresher, later?"

There is also Anime Detour (March 29-31, Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Minneapolis) to consider.  At one point, I was talking to a Bleach fan friend on Discord and we discussed a IRL meet-up at something like Detour, complete with old lady (me, not them) cosplay. I attend Detour (and any other anime cons) entirely as a fan, so that could be fun, if I were going with/going to meet-up with a friend. I think I would be V. SAD to do Detour entirely on my own--especially as I am 50+ years old and Detour is the kind of con that has a "letter to parents" because their median age is 14.


Right. That's it for the moment.

I'm sure others will roll in. The other local con I often attend is CONvergece (July 4-7), but that's another ?? for me, as our family vacation is going to shifted around this year, thanks to my nephew's wedding.  I also always hold out hope that [personal profile] naomikritzer will be nominated for another Hugo, and that will "force" me to attend WorldCON, which, this upcoming year, will be in Dublin, Ireland. (August 15-19) I am sorely tempted to try to convince my family to go to this, if only because we have family in Dublin. (Not 'blood' relations, but the more important kind of family--MADE family.) It would be fairly amazing to visit them 'in situ.' They have made the overseas trip to us at least twice.


Mostly, I wanted to post that Kieran's Pub gig because I haven't put it into my calendar yet and I don't want to forget that I agreed to do it. They are planning on paying me a small amount, so it would be very gauche of me to skip out due to nothing more pressing than a brain fart.

There's not a lot else to report around these parts. I have to deliver Mason's Switch to school tonight, as they are having their robotics holiday/end of year party. I'm also, apparently, bringing a couple of liters of some soda/pop or other, but that's such normal mom-duties, it's hardly worth mentioning. Though I have no idea how my child is even functioning right now, as he was up until 3 am working on his AP Human Geography project. This was, I suspect, a question of time management gone awry, but Mason also DREADS any project that involves art. He also tends to underestimate how long it takes him to draw _anything_, as he hates it so much that he never draws and so his lack of skills/practice combined with a RAGING case of perfectionism means he struggles with every second of it. 

But, whatever. He has no school tomorrow and can literally crash as soon as I bring him home and sleep as long as he likes.

Our whole family has taken Solstice (tomorrow) off, so we will be doing our festivities. I have to buy a few things yet--a Christmas (as opposed to Solstice) ham as well as a cheesecake for the same. But, otherwise, I think we're going to spend the day time indoors making rosettes, the last of the holiday cookies, and then the night tending our fire/the light.  I will try to remember to give a full report afterwards.

Right. I'd best run off to the store to grab that pop--and maybe see what might be had for dinner.

Blessed Solstice to those who celebrate. Happy Friday to the rest of you.
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
 A complete dork in an even dorkier hat

You guys have no idea HOW LONG I have wanted a hat that mimics Renji's forehead tattoos and hair. I have met many knitters in my life and BEGGED all of them, bribed, cajoled, even attempted to seduce them to make me this hat. All to no avail.  Finally, my friend Anna in Canada took the plunge. She is also one of the last remaining Bleach fans in the world, so that might have helped matters.

Anyway, I think I look awesome and you can NOT convince me otherwise.

Yes, I wore this in public.

Also? The "hair" comes with a scrunchy, so it is fully play-with-able. I can braid his hair, or wear it down, or experiment with style, because, face it, my deeply jealous friends, this fancy-ass hat DEFINES style. (Not "defies," defines. This, my covetous friends, is the gold standard to which all style aspires.)

Yep. This is pretty much all I need to say today. Other than, ANNA, YOU ARE A GODDESS AMONG WOMEN, THE QUEEN OF KNITTERS.

Sick Kitty

Dec. 18th, 2018 07:58 pm
lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 Ms. Ball, who is Mason's kitty, has suddenly become quite thin.

We have a vet appointment scheduled for her ASAP, so we'll find out what's going on then, but in the meantime feel free to keep her in your thoughts. Here she is in better days, sleeping in her usual spot, on Mason's arm.

Ms. Ball sleeping

But, I didn't sleep terribly well last night, worrying about her.

You know how it is.

Otherwise, I spent a good portion of the day dealing with our internet/phone providers. Our landline suddenly stopped working, probably some time on Sunday. Like most people in this day and age, our landline normally only rings when a spambot is calling, so I didn't entirely notice we were offline until we missed the normal Sunday night robocall from Mason's school. Every Sunday, at 7 pm, Washington Technical's principle sends out a canned message informing us of various goings-on at the high school, like which of their sports teams did well and things like that. At that point we realized something was up. Shawn checked the neighborhood group and since other people who had Centurylink were experiencing problems, we waited to see if it would resolve itself.

It did not.

This morning I called and had a guy come out to investigate the situation. Turns out, we had never actually had our phones shifted to fiber and were still running copper to the house. It was supposed to have been disconnected and removed when we got fiber YEARS ago.  So, the technician took care of that for us. Our barbaric, old-fashioned landline is once again up and running.

Spambots everywhere may rejoice.

The guy was at our house for HOURS though. It turns out, a large part of his time was spent on hold.... to his own company.

APPARENTLY, Centurylink requires its technician to use the exact same horrific phone tree that customers use.  He apologized for taking so long, but apparently the first person he got connected to, didn't understand the issue, told him the line was fine, and hung up on him. So, he had to go through the whole rigamarole of WAITING ON HOLD AGAIN until he could talk to someone who could _properly_ test the line.

As my mechanic Tor would say: "What the fuck. Excuse my language, but What. The. FUCK."

The worst part? This guy spent several hours of his workday in our "Silence of the Lambs" basement, looking around at all the weird ass stuff we have collected down there. I wonder what he thought of my ceramic head? Or the sad, empty gerbil cage that we haven't quite gotten the nerve up to part with yet, despite the fact that the gerbil has been gone for years (I mean, it's a cleaned out cage, but still.)

I, meanwhile, had a lovely afternoon. [personal profile] naomikritzer came over to chat and we gossiped like old women over lunch (I made homemade pizza in a cast iron pan), while the technician sat on hold in my basement. 

Mason came home late today because his robotics team is having a bake sale to raise funds. For health safety reasons, they have to cook/bake everything they sell themselves, in the school's culinary arts classroom.  So, the whole team was there making cake pops until almost 7 pm. The team (@4229Magnetech) posted a picture of their efforts on Twitter (Mason is in the maroon shirt in the middle, mostly obscured by other people):

team in industrial kitchen setting

In other news, I _finally_ formally accepted a pinch hit for Yuletide, so if I disappear for several days, it's because I am frantically writing that. I actually already wrote a couple of treats for people this year, but I hadn't accepted an actual assignment.  

Wish me luck!

Hope you are all doing well!
lydamorehouse: (writer??)
 gingerbread people "trapped" inside glass jar

I see that the last thing I reported was that gingerbread cookies were on the agenda for Thursday night. I am happy to report, they were made. We have successfully captured the gingerbread people (including the rare cyclops ninja)  and trapped them inside this cookie jar.  Resistance is futile.

As you can see, we had too much fun decorating these. Initially, I thought I'd stay out of the kitchen and let Maria and Shawn catch up. Maria is a former colleague of Shawn's. She used to work at the Minnesota History Center, but has now moved on to records management, maybe? (I wasn't entirely paying attention early on), at Thrivenet, formerly Lutheran Brotherhood.  BUT, when it was clear that what they wanted to do was drink wine and chat, I let them settle into that and did the rolling and baking. At this point, it's second nature to me, so I could join in the chat while getting things together.

When the cookies were cooled, everyone did the decorating.  

I had bought the "googly' eyes from Micheal's along with a bunch of other odd edible bits, including lips and mustaches--they all came in a packet for a couple of bucks. I also bought a few frosting tubes because I was there and decided that I was feeling too lazy to do the frosting from scratch on top of everything else.

They're quite whimsical, so I'm very happy with them.

Tasty, too.

I got together with the usual crew on Friday afternoon, except for Eleanor, who was off getting her hair cut. [personal profile] pegkerr brought along her holiday cards to label and stamp. It's interesting to note that Peg's family has always done a Christmas family newsletter. She and I had both come across recent articles talking about how fewer people are writing these sorts of things any more and how this is a concern for historians, as sources of 'mundane' life.  The article I had read was from the Smithsonian and was called "The History of Our Love-Hate Relationship with the Christmas Letter".

I happen to enjoy a well written holiday letter, myself. But, given that I still enjoy the long form of blogging, that's probably not a surprise.

But, otherwise, we were all fairly low-key on Friday. [personal profile] naomikritzer is still, in many ways, recovering from her trip to Taiwan and China. And, I think we were all suffering from a lack of sunshine (though it's been more sunny here starting on Friday. Previously it had been gray with gray sauce.). These dark nights have been tough on me. I'm already an early to bed sort and when it's dark at 5:30 pm, I think, "Okay, great! Time for bed!" Except, yeah, it's like 5:30 pm.

Saturday was a busy day for our family. I took Mason into his job at the Science Museum at 10 am. I was able to say "hello"/"goodbye" on a hangout with [personal profile] jiawen , but then had to take off to go to Mason's work's "open house" that they had scheduled from noon to 2 pm. The Science Museum is not normally more than 10 minutes from our house, but we have gotten in the habit (thank goodness) of leaving a bit earlier because it always seems that there is something happening at the Xcel Center. Saturday seemed to be no exception. There was a Minnesota Wild (our hockey team) game happening and we ended up having to pay $20 for parking. (Outrage! Except, that Shawn pointed out that we could think of it as a donation to the Science Museum, which we happily support in all of its endeavors.)  

The open house was cool.

The program that Mason works for is called KAYSC, which stands for the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center. They're a nifty little organization that focuses on bringing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills to high schoolers in underserved communities. Mason goes to one of their target high schools, which is how he ended up able to apply. Washington Technical has a predominantly Asian-American student body, with Caucasian students making up only 6%. At KAYSC, Mason gets an opportunity to get paid to learn STEM and project management skills, with a focus on using the sciences to served local communities--something the KAYSC people call "STEM Justice," which is a term I adore. Honest to gods, I would have killed to have a job like this when I was Mason's age. Heck, I'd love one like this _now_.  

At the open house, we got to see some of the areas of interest that the students had identified for themselves. They had set-up various presentations (some static/interactive displays, a couple of video programs, and one tour). I wanted to do the tour, because they were going to talk about gentrification, but we also didn't want to miss the big team reveal at the end of the open house, where Mason would find out which project leader he would be assigned to. They have four "tracks." There's an environmental sciences and sustainability one, which is where Mason ended up, a Engineering and Design, a Biological Sciences and Public Health, and a Media and Technology one. There were some really well put together displays, including Mason's which focused on stereotypes in storytelling.  I was also really impressed with a team that had micro greens growing and talked about ways in which low-income houses could cheaply incorporate more nutrient rich foods.  Another group has a display about the problems GLBTQIA+ students have in high school.  

So you can see the sorts of things they focus on.
Mason seems very happy with the assignment. Engineering and Design had been his first pick, but Environmental Science was his second. Given that he has an engineering track at his high school, I imagine they factored that into their decision where he might learn the most.  Because, getting serious, this job is 100% about getting paid to learn, which is why it is SO awesome and probably the best first job any high schooler could hope for. 

But, the event was high energy and full of people moving around and OMG, even this extrovert needed a NAP after that. 

Mason, meanwhile, had us stop at home to pick up some gaming stuff and headed over to his friend's house to play D&D with his robotics crew. He was there, with them, until almost 10 pm. 

Shawn and I came back and collapsed into a heap, but we got back up to make homemade pizza for dinner. Shawn had a work holiday party at a house on Summit Avenue (fancy!) which I bowed out of for a bunch of reasons, but not the least of which was that I am staring up some RPGing of my own. 

I had such a lovely time doing a Star Trek: Discovery one-shot with [personal profile] jiawen and [personal profile] bcholmes at CONfabulous this last year, that we decided to try to make it a regular thing. We spent Saturday night rolling up our characters, and I'm already very happy to watch everyone's character histories comes through my e-mail feed. We're doing this online, as our players are scattered across the globe. I'm looking forward to the campaign beginning in earnest. It's been some time since I had a regular gaming group... probably college, which is going on 30 years ago. Though to be fair, I did keep up with some folks a few years after that, so let's call it 25 years ago?

Even so, that's a long time ago.

I had gone cold-turkey from gaming about the time I started concentrating on novel writing as a career because, for me, I felt it used a lot of the same mental muscles. I felt I could EITHER use those muscles to write _or_ RPG. I'm not sure I was right about that, however--I know a lot of pro writers who could do both.

But, that was the choice I made. 

I'm excited to get back into it, regardless. I also love that in the twenty-five or so intervening years the demographics have flipped. The STRONG majority of us are women (4/5ths). There's only one guy gaming with us. That's amazing. I can't wait to find out what that's like. In the past I was always the only woman or one of a very few... I met my wife gaming, but we drifted together partly _because_ there weren't many women in that campaign... though I think there was at LEAST one other. (To be fair, it was actually love at first sight, since when she asked me to draw her character and said that they should have blonde hair and brown eyes, I told her I thought that was an unusual combination, and she said, 'that's what I am,' and I looked up and literally said, "Oh. You have the most beautiful eyes I have EVER seen." So, you know....)

Anyway. I'm not sure exactly what happened on Sunday, except that Mason and I got into a hormone fueled bickering session that ended with us marathoning several hours of the new Super Smash Bros, Ultimate game on the Switch in order to work it out (which we did. Gaming as therapy is real in the house of hormones, which is what we call our house as Mason is in puberty and Shawn and I are both in various stages of menopause.)

So, that's me. How's by you?
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Tonight, Shawn will be having a friend over to make gingerbread cookies. 

I'm going to go ahead and put this out there: I don't think, at this point, we NEED more cookies. 

But, in all honesty, this get-together is about doing a thing with a friend. Shawn doesn't really _like_ gingerbread cookies that much, so I think her plan is to make them in order to bring them to work to give away. I, however, have been tasked to go look for decorations for gingerbread. I made a glance around Kowalski's when I was there earlier, but there wasn't much, surprisingly. I think I will try Michael's cake decoration section later today, on my way to pick up Mason. (It's at least in that general direction, so why not?)

Speaking of cookies....  when I was at the post office yesterday sending off the care package to my cousin, I ran into my old friend Harry LeBlanc. We chatted a bit and he invited me to join him on his lunch break at a nearby Chinese buffet. So we did!  Harry was my first writer friend. I met him in the 1990s in a science fiction writing class we were both taking at the Loft. Together, he and I formed Wyrdsmiths, an in-person writers' group that's still meeting regularly to critique writing. 

Harry has mostly moved away from writing science fiction, though he just got his PhD in music therapy or some such recently. His dissertation was a rock opera. So, he's still doing high creative work. He's been working with convicted child sex offenders, as a therapist, and I'm impressed as hell that he's stayed at it because that's got to be draining, to say the least. 

Anyway, it was really lovely to catch up with such an old friend.

I used to see Harry regularly when I worked at the Immigration History Research Center and he was an IT consultant who could make his own hours. We would get together at the Egg & I and talk for hours, and that's not really much of an exaggeration. I was supposed to only have an half hour for lunch, but I would often be gone for an hour and a half EASILY. (It is well known that you never want to hire me for a traditional 9 to 5 job. My work ethic is very "you don't pay me enough to care.")  Those were fun days, though. Harry and i could argue about the craft of writing until we were blue in the face. I'm sure that's partly why we haven't seen much of each other since he left to do his art therapy thing and let the writing dream merge into a different creative venture. 

I have a couple of friends who made the conscious choice to walk away from trying to sell their writing and picked another, stronger, artistic call. Harry went to his music and my friend Sean to his photography. I both feel the loss of their writing and completely sympathize with and support their choices, you know?  

I mean, look at where I am. A dozen or so books published and not much to show for it any more. It's not like I can say to someone: "Hey, writing is a GREAT CAREER! So fulfilling!"  I mean, it _is_, but it's also deeply flawed as a thing to do for the rest of your life. You kind of always have to have some other way to make money, a fall back. That's really a tough way to try to do... anything, really.  It's such a shame that art and artists are not more supported in our culture.


Anyway, I hope you all are well and are out there doing your art.

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