lydamorehouse: (renji has hair)
 Last night was the speculative fiction smut reading at Kieran's Pub.  I spent much of the day, yesterday, feeling very nervous about the whole thing. Nervous probably isn't the right word. I do a lot of public performance, much of it off the cuff, but I'm NOTORIOUSLY bad at reading naughty bits, out loud, in front of a crowd. I have _literally_ hired stunt readers, while rolling around in embarrassment under the table at cons during slash readings.

So...

A friend of mine who is an actor in New York volunteered to listen to my pieces and give critique to help improve my performance. They are also a Bleach fan, so we probably spent more of our time together lamenting the ending of the manga.  But, it was really neat to finally see them in person (we did a Google hangout) and put a face and a voice to text, as it were. But, knowing I was going to read to Taylor meant that I practiced both pieces several times, even before talking to them over Hangouts. 

Then, [personal profile] naomikritzer came over and, my random luck, I made an amazing "pot roast hash" out of some leftover rump roast and some veggies.  We chatted for a bit, but both of us had errands to try to get in before the snow started, so we said goodbye early and I headed out with Mason's laptop to Computer Revolution.

I totally recommend Computer Revolution in Roseville to local folks, btw. First of all, they did what we wanted the "Genius Squad" to do at Best Buy, which was test the cord with a voltmeter. The cord, they determined, was shot.  It is, of course, still possible that there is more than one problem going on with the ROG, but we have an easy place to start. Shawn ordered the cord as soon as I told her what I'd learned, since she'd already done all the research in case we might need one. I asked the guys, though, if the cord doesn't solve the issue, are there other options that don't involve replacing the motherboard as Best Buy seemed to suggest would be the only other issue (and far too expensive a prospect). They had lots of options, several of which were very potentially reasonably priced.  So, that's a huge YAY.

Mason came home a bit early from robotics, despite it being "stop build day," the day they have to literally wrap up their robot and put it away until competition, because he was feeling kind of sick. He seems to have caught a cold.  

After picking up Mason, feeding him, etc., I got dressed and headed out.

I got lost at least twice, mostly because I don't know left from right, but I managed to get there by 7:30 pm, which was perfect, as it gave me a chance to find a place to park and get in and get the lay of the land.

Kieran's pub is kind of beautiful. The Not-So-Silent Planet folks managed to have their own private section, a part of the pub that is legit called "The Poet's Room" and it has its own doors, own bar, etc. I was really sad to hear that they will be having to move the venue next season, because it could not be a more perfect place for this kind of event.  It's both public, but very intimate and private.

interior of pub with painted mural on one wall, a small stage in the corner and a few people at tables

The structure of the show was that the first 3/4th were open mic, which... with erotica was.... kind of hoot? I mean, the first person up did two pieces, the first of which was revenge porn with implied rape and I thought "OH SH*T, MY HUMOROUS STUFF IS GOING TO BOMB" but then they did a second piece which was a clever story about an app that allowed you to experience other people's fetishes.  

The whole night was like that--some of the pieces were very INTENSE, some hilarious, several of them were body horror, a number were more traditionally romantic, and then, a few were... well, HOT.

I was horrified to discover, however, that I was scheduled to be the finale. I'm NOT finale material. So. NOT.  But, I did my best. I read a sweet/sensual piece from the sequel to Precinct 13, which is the book I just sold to Wizard Tower Press.  That seemed to go over well. I only stumbled over one line at the very beginning.  

The second piece I read (the first one clocked in at 4 and a half minutes, and I was booked for twelve, so I had to read something else) was actually bit of fan fiction of mine that involves kinbaku, the Japanese art of rope bondage. As noted at the start of this, I get very flushed and flustered reading anything erotic out loud. For a while, when I first starting writing sex scenes as part of my profession as a romance writer, I had to touch type them while LOOKING AWAY FROM THE SCREEN, I was so embarrassed. So, I decided to ask for some help from the audience--audience participation, if you will. So, I asked people to shout out a word for anatomy that starts with "c" and sort of looks like a single finger when I raised one finger, and another part of anatomy that is plural and is usually connected to the first one when I raised two fingers. The audience was very enthusiastic about this. 

But what was funny? I think they were quietly getting into the story, which was kind of unexpected?  I mean, it's out of context and there's some bits that can not possibly have made any sense, but the first time they did their bit and shouted out the words for me, I tried to make a little editorial comment about how wonderfully enthusiastic they were, but the vibe I got from the audience was very "yeah, yeah, get back to the STORY!!"

Which I mean... I guess it never occurred to me that the audience might be very _into_ the story.

I still think it worked pretty well. Having other people say the stuff that I find particularly difficult to say out loud without giggling or stammering awkwardly certainly made the reading more fun for *me.*  

But the unexpected reaction was just sort of funny.

Hopefully, it all worked, I don't know. Personally, I would not have had *me* go last, but people seem to expect great things from me. (You win one second place Dick....) In all seriousness, the other guests were much more polished and professional than I was and I was super impressed with them all. [personal profile] catherineldf read an amazing bit about being a temp worker in an office full of SUPER HOT vampires, which she delivered with her usual style and grace. Laura Packer performed (and I mean PERFORMED) this spooky, mesmerizing retelling of Snow White, where Snow White is the monster of the story. Tom S. Tea read tentacle porn to DIE for.... and then I bumbled in.  Still, the show was super. I am seriously considering making Not-So-Silent Planet a regular thing next season.

And now it is snowing buckets. 

Oh, and school was cancelled for today. Whee!
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
Do you ever have events on your calendar that you look at for a long time and then suddenly it's THAT day?

We've had PSEO Informational Meeting on our calendar since forever, it seems. I also scheduled Mason an campus tour for this morning, but that was more of an informational session for incoming freshmen and he was anxious about his gaming computer (the ROG--it's real name "The Republic of Gaming" ASUS stopped taking a charge,) so we skipped the tour part of the tour in favor of a rush to The Genius Squad. That's part of the reason I fee like I've run around all day, but I'll tell that story next.

The Informational meeting was uplifting, honestly. I kept leaning into Mason and excitedly whispering, "You are SO ready for this" and squeezing his knee with barely restrained excitement. PSEO at the University of Minnesota would basically give Mason access to a college education while still in high school. He can fulfill his remaining high school requirements, at a much higher level. And, because one college semester counts for a full high school year, he could take any number of electives, too. I can't even tell you how excited I am on his behalf. This is really an incredible program and he's such a good fit.

Now, we just need to get him in.

One step at a time, so... first is the on-line application. He's actually already got some other things ready to be sent in, so we're going to give it our best, as they say. Cross fingers for us, please. It's a competitive program.

Meanwhile, with the computer, we dashed out to Best Buy only to be told we needed to schedule an appointment. So, I made one for 8:20 pm, just because I did NOT want to be at all rushed coming back from the PSEO meeting (which was 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm, so I maybe was being a little paranoid). We went BACK out to Best Buy only to have to wait for the one guy on duty while he settled a bunch of people who all seemed to be walk-ins, which pissed off, honestly, because all we needed was for someone to be able to tell us if the problem Mason was having with his ROG was on the power cord end or the machine end. The Best Buy guy was pretty sure it's on the machine end, which was not the answer we wanted at all. Now the question is: is it the mother board or is it the power port. (Or the cord, because, honesty, the guy seemed a little frazzled and I don't entirely trust that he had a similar enough power cord to be certain.) So my job tomorrow is to take it to a local shop which might have the ability to check that power port quickly. If it turns out to be the motherboard... well, I'm not sure what we're going to do.

Mason has recently gotten into an amateur Overwatch League and his team plays competitively. Without the ROG, he's off the team. These are his friends, too. He has a very serious community he's developed with them. But, when we bought this computer we dropped a couple thousand dollars on it.

If we had a couple thousand dollars to spare, we'd have a working upstairs bathtub by now.

Mason is feeling really devastated. As he told me on the way home: it seems like every time we rush somewhere for a prognoses we hear, "it's time to say goodbye" and there's no hope. I can't blame him. Literally, with both cats, we barely even got, "we think we can fix this," but instead it was, "sorry, there's nothing we can do."

And now his beloved, irreplaceable computer seems to be suffering the same fate.

It was a day of highs and lows, that's for sure.

Speaking of other things that have been on my calendar forever, tomorrow is my erotica reading with The Not-So-Silent Plant folks. Check out the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/347306035861095/

The details are: "The country's only recurring open mic dedicated to speculative fiction returns Feb 19 with a star-studded show devoted to the themes of love, lust, romance and passion, with invited guests Lyda Morehouse, author of the Garnet Lacy series (as Tate Hallaway) and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award's Special Citation of Excellence, Catherine Lundoff, two-time Goldie Awards winner for erotica whose stories have appeared in over 80 publications, and Twin Cities writer/performers Laura Packer and Tom S Tea!

Got some romantic or erotic speculative fiction you want to perform or know someone who's a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural horror, or tales of alternate realities? Sign up starts at 7:15 pm in the Poet's Corner of Kieran's Irish Pub. Stories, stand-up comedy routines, poems, and musical pieces are all welcome, just as long as the material is speculative fiction and under seven minutes. Sticking to the evening's theme of Love & Lust is strongly encouraged.

$5-$10 suggested donation. Hosted by Ben San Del

This is an adults-only show. "

See you there?

lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Indicative of my day yesterday, I started a "What are You Reading Wednesday?" post, only to discover this morning that I hadn't finished it...it was still sitting here, in a tab, in draft form, on my computer.

*sigh*

I mean, to be fair, I haven't had much to report in terms of reading lately beyond "my Broad Universe mentee's manuscript," but I did finish My Solo Exchange Diary by Nagata Kabi, which I reviewed here: https://mangakast.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/my-solo-exchange-diary-hitori-koukan-nikki-by-nagata-kabi/ Thanks to a VERY QUIET night at Maplewood on Tuesday, I also have a bunch of books being pulled for me at the Ramsey County Library from the most recent Locus Recommended Reading List. So, hopefully, I'll have a better list of things I've read soon.  

Yesterday, I was also unaccountably sad to have heard about Opportunity, the Mars rover.  I know it lasted much longer than expected and it's _just_ a robot, but I feel like maybe a person is a little bit inhuman if they don't shed a small tear at its final communication: "Battery dying. Everything is going dark."  Jesus F*cking Christ, NASA. 

Then, on top of that, this morning I turned on the radio to AM950 and heard about the horrific destruction scheduled for the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, as Trump's bulldozers and border control are seizing PRIVATE PROPERTY with immanent domaine.  I'm planning, on payday, of becoming a member in order to help them fight this, legally... even though I don't have a lot of hope that they'll win. And that's it, the frogs and the butterflies and the tiny little owls are all going to die because we're all a bunch of racist pig-sh*ts.

And, Shawn says to me this morning, "Hey, happy Valentine's Day, BBC is reporting that Taiwan voters rejected same-sex marriage."

It's honestly this sh*t that's going to break me.

Ugh.

In happier news, Mason really enjoys judging debate tournaments. He had one last night, at Washington, and he came home almost giddy with stories of the middle schoolers he critiqued and graded. "I'm SO PROUD of them!" he says to me, beaming. 

Next Monday we go to the informational meeting for PSEO (Post-Secondary Education Opportunities, a program that allows public school students to attend university for free, particularly if there's need--like for Mason, he's exhausted high school math, as of this year. Technically, he was done with the official HS math curriculum last year, but Washington Tech has a "College In Schools" Calc I class that he's in this year.). Mason also talked to his school councilor who is really supportive (especially after his early PSAT scores) of him going full-time PSEO next year. We're still debating the merits and the drawbacks to that, but the idea that Mason could basically be in college next year is kind of amazing. I think it could potentially be really good for him. He's a funny kid. The more rigorous the class, the better his grades tend to be. If he's in any class where there's a lot of busywork that most people would find to be "low-hanging fruit," (ie easily done), he struggles to do it, because he can't see the point. We tease him that he's the only person who get A+s in Calc I, but can barely pass "Independent Living." 

In much happier news, I have a book contract on the horizon.

It's a kind of funny story about how that happened. So, as reported here, Wizard Tower Press has put out an omnibus edition of all 5 of my AngeLINK books. As I was going around posting all the various self-promotion things one does, I came across an email from a fan complaining that she could not get a copy of Song of Secrets a book that Rachel Calish and I wrote together (but which has since been removed by the publisher for various reasons) AND she wanted to know when he heck I was going to get around to publishing that sequel to Precinct 13.

Those who have been following along at home know that i have a large portion of a sequel already written. I was posting it in installments on Wattpad for a while, but then I ran out of steam and never finished it.

WELL. I thought to myself, I wonder if Cheryl Morgan, my publisher at Wizard Tower Press, would be interested in that. Plus, if Cheryl gave me a deadline (and a contract), I might actually get off my depressed BUTT and finish it.  

Turns out, Cheryl was more than willing to send me out a contract... so, I now have a deadline of September 2019 to get things into shape. Should be very doable.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK CHERYL BEFORE. Thank you, random complainer! Without you, it would NEVER have occurred to me that I could just see if Wizard Tower Press was up for a new novel by me.

So that's kind of big news. It's not official-Official yet, per se, so I'm not shouting it from the rooftop--but, dang near. I have a draft contract in hand and everything looks very much green to go.

It's crazy, but just having this in the works has lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I feel like a _real_ writer again.

Snow Selfie

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

It's really coming down out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*sigh*
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 ...than using up my leftover homemade French bread for bread pudding.  I don't know why, I probably should feel more like someone who lived through the Depression (Captain America?).  

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

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

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

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

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

What are you reading this fine Wednesday?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 24 & 25) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 26) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 27) )

Hump Day!

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

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

So my memory of Monday = errands and housework.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still a full time job, if you ask me.

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

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

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

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

My witches' pantry is actually surprisingly well stocked!

Spell-a-Day project (Jan. 13) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 14) )


Spell-a-Day Project (Jan. 15) )
lydamorehouse: (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: (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.

Annnnnyway....

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.

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: (nic & coffee)
 I'm staying home from con this morning because I'm wiped out. Two nights in a row, I stayed out way past my bedtime. And, I mean: until 2 AM.

On Friday night, I showed up at con (which was at Crowne Plaza near the airport) around 10 pm (for those of you who know me, this is already past my bedtime, but I had napped earlier in the evening because we were all tired from having gone to the KAYSC parent orientation/dinner, which I'll write about in a moment.)  I brought my laptop because [personal profile] jiawen and her friend BC wanted to join a Star Trek: Discovery RPG game that John T. was running at the con.  Initially, I thought I'd mostly sit out the game and only act as technical services. But, of course that's no fun. 

I had an amazing time. John ran a good campaign--very doable in a short period and the pre-made characters all had really well-developed backstories that were easy to find a theme/personality to play.  Our players were all into it, too. I probably could have played all night.

In fact, it made me miss role-playing. I told Shawn that I'd really like to get a local group together again.

Saturday morning, I brought [personal profile] jiawen  back for a panel she wanted to see on game design, which was possibly the only dud of the con. To the presenter's credit, it is VERY HARD to hold forth on a panel when you're the only panelist.  Without a moderator to guide the conversation, it can be easy to ramble.  I know, because I feared this for my Queer Eye for the Yaoi Guy panel and it was only mitigated by the fact that I talked Don K in to staying at the panel table and acting as an impromptu moderator.  So, I mean, possibly the panel just needed more panelists.  Rachel and I hung out (she was Google hangout-ing in from Taiwan) chatting before and after, which was lovely.  She had maybe wanted to see another panel, but I begged off because I really felt like I needed a nap before coming back for the 5:30 pm panel I needed to moderate and, of course, the dreaded slash "midnight" reading at 10 pm.

The yaoi panel went... okay.  People always tell me that I make a good panelist and normally I agree with them because who doesn't want to believe they did well? But, I really felt scattered and all over the place, despite having actually organized my thoughts in a blog on Mangakast. So, if you're curious about the topic, you can feel free to read my far more cogent thoughts there.

One person in the audience gave me a mission. I'm going to see if I can find any yaoi with actual "coming out" stories as part of any plot/romance.

Then, I hung around the con chatting with John T. and I ended up following him to his panel about sex in RPG gaming and even though there was only one other person there (Rae) we had a really interesting discussion about all sorts of interpersonal issues in RPG table top gaming. I invited Rae to dinner with John and I and we were joined by Jason S. and Joe A. and, then later, by Kate J. 

Thank all the gods for Kate because she made the slash reading into a HUGE success.

As many of you know, I have a lot of trouble reading the sexy bits OUT LOUD. I have, in the past, employed audience participation and, like in this case, a stunt reader who takes over for me when things get rough. I would love to do this again at the next Gaylaxicon or ConFABulous, but NOT ALONE. I'm pretty sure the audience is getting super tired of *my* porn.

But, then I ended up chatting with Kate until 2 AM again.  Not that I think I made much sense after 1 AM, but Kate is such an interesting person that I could probably have talked to her all night, too.

Now I am brain dead.

The KAYSC dinner was great, though entirely less informative than I'd hoped. Shawn and I had hoped to get a behind the scenes tour of the Science Museum out of it, but the dinner was actually at a community center.  But, the food was good, catered by Boca Chica. The presentation as good, though slightly less informative than we wanted. Our take away was that, in a lot of ways, the actual projects that the kids do are kind of actually secondary to the learning to do them.  Which is fine? I mean, seriously? Getting paid for what amounts to research training?  Yeah, that's possibly the best job, ever.  

It's been an amazing weekend. 

Now I go sleep.

Busy Day

Oct. 16th, 2018 09:29 am
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Today has started out busy and is going to remain that way.... a lot of it is a GOOD kind of busy, but still busy.

This morning, after dropping everyone off at their various locations, I rushed home to meet our Rainbow Tree arborist, Lieben, who I was consulting regarding some of our "trash trees" in the back.  One of them, an elm, has decided to grow over where the power line connects to the house and over our garage. We would never want to trim that close to a power line ourselves, but this is made extra difficult for WHOEVER undertakes it because our garage roof is deeply unstable. Plus, since he was coming, we're going to have him trim back some of the maple tree branches that are brushing up against the house. 

Rainbow Trees folks remember us because, when they accidentally over trimmed our front maple tree, Shawn called them in TEARS. Trees are very important to Shawn. She doesn't come off like a tree hugger, but she really actually is. 

So, this was a very intense, serious consultation, because they DO NOT WANT Shawn to call in hysterics about her trees.  

Then, I had to quick run to Kowalski's after Lieben left because last night at around 8 pm, Mason informed me that his robotics team was having a potluck and we were on the hook for something. I offered vegetarian chili, and so, after Naomi and I go to the farmer's market, I'm going to whip that together and bring it over in a crock pot around 3:00 pm.

Of course, when I was at Kowalski's, I forgot to pick up cash, which I will need for the farmers market. The days are numbered for the market and I want to be sure to get some good veggies--I particularly love farm fresh potatoes. My family doesn't much eat veggies, but I still like to put them on the table for myself, if no one else.  

After all that, tonight, Shawn and are are headed into downtown Minneapolis to meet up with Shawn's cousin, Kerry, who Shawn hasn't seen for about 20 years. We're going to have a late night dinner with her, since she's in town for a conference.  Shawn two brothers--Greg and Keven, who both also live in town--bailed.  So, it's going to be the three of us (we're leaving Mason to subsist on his pot luck food and a ride home from his GF, Rosemary.) Shawn did a tiny bit of cyberstalking on her cousin, so we'll see how the registered Republican rolls with the married lesbian couple. :-)

lydamorehouse: (renji has hair)
...so that means I'll probably get nothing else done today.

Though to be more accurate, I started the day out feeling extremely stymied.

We seem to have developed a slow leak in one of the rear tires of our car. Mason, who would like to practice driving, had been bugging me to take care of it for days. Today, I finally decided that I would drive to my mechanic and see if they could just do that quick thing where they check for leaks, slap on a patch, and you drive away. ALAS. Tor told me that they can't get me in, even for something simple, until Monday. Poo. So, I drove home and made myself coffee.

Determined to get something done today, I decided to try to log-in to my work e-mail account. Ramsey County was hacked some time in September and so they briefly locked out all of us who were remote accessing. I thought that I had been keeping up on all the memos as to when/how it would be fixed, but apparently I missed a critical one that told me some instructions to get reconnected from home. So, when I attempted to log-in this morning from home (I wanted to figure out my work schedule for November as I missed most of October and, you know, a paycheck is important,) I got the weirdest message which was, paraphrasing, "Yep, your info is good, right log-in and password, but we're not letting you in because you're on a browser." I was like, "WTF." So, I called in to my supervisor and left a rambling message, because I had wanted to check in about a half-dozen things: my schedule, the up-coming Inservice day, and also now this whole "what is up with my email thing."

I thought, man, I need more coffee.

So, just as I sat down to complain to my online friends about how everything I tried to do today was blocked, I got the call from Amber at work and the fix is in, as it were. Whoo! I will still have to follow some instructions on my email to figure out how to log back in, BUT I now know when and where the inservice is and I have several dates to work in November.

Since I felt like I was on a streak, I texted a friend that I have neglected to get back to in a while and hopefully he and I can connect this upcoming Sunday, as Shawn and I are signed-up to do the "fall colors" tour in Lakewood Cemetery at 2 pm. It goes rain or shine, but I sure hope we FINALLY get a break in the rain.

In other news, Mason brought home a rather curious award from one of his debate tournaments last week:

award that says "Fifth Speaker"

The award reads "Fifth Speaker" which felt to me as if it were missing the word "BEST," but, because I first posted a jokey post about this on social media, I was inundated with explanations as to what this means in debate. Probably the best one came from my FB friend Laurinda Holm: "As a high school (and college) debater, I can tell you the 'best' is assumed and this is really good. It means he had the 5th most speaker points in his division."  My family, of course, just finds the wording humorous and Mason has been running around telling people silly things like, "I don't know who you think you are, but I'm Fifth Speaker." :-)

It does seem like he got an award for speaking fifth in a row, you know? Like, hey, you went fifth, so here's an award!

Anyway.

Otherwise, the New York Times thinks all y'all should catch up with us cool kids and write hand-written letters via snail mail. "We Could All Use a Little Snail Mail Right Now.'

My birthday is coming up in about a month (Nov. 18) so y'all have time to write to me.
lydamorehouse: (temporary incoherent rage)
 I mostly managed to stay off the internet today because I knew what was coming. 

Today was Mason's first day at his new job at the Science Museum. When I picked him up around 2 pm, there were a lot of other parents waiting out front in their cars. This program hired 80 students, I think. Most of what I know about what Mason will be doing is still fairly vague, but it seems like he's enjoying it. Today, apparently, they did a lot of getting to know you exercises and got a tour of the Science Museum (and the special employee tour which included the cheap, slightly broken vending machines.)

Shawn and I went to Menard's to pick up some plastic bins. We're continuing to deal with the fallout of Mason's reorganization of his room. He wanted a desk, which we bought for him some time ago, but moving the desk in meant moving OUT a bunch of books and disassembling (and selling) the top part of his bunk bed. A number of the books that got moved out will go to the little free library. But, there are also a lot of sentimental favorites that will be saved for the next generation of Morehouse-Rounds, and so those are getting put into bins and hauled up to the attic. (Which of course also necessitated a slight re-organization of the attic, because: of course.)

By the end of this we were all tired, cranky, and hangry. We ended up having a spat about dinner, which resulted in a drive through Culver's and a trip to Cafe Latte for gigantic pieces of PIE and CAKE because f*ck everything.

It seemed clear to me that we all had short fuses because we knew what had happened in the Senate.

It's been an awful week.

And we have only just begun to fight.
lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 We're all sitting around at home waiting for the pizza delivery guy to show up from Davanni's.  It's a pseudo-celebration (also no one liked my dinner plans for tonight, which were going to be potato soup and popovers*) because we stopped off at the Science Museum to get Mason's paperwork done. He came home with an official KAYSC lanyard and badge. His first official day of work is Saturday. I can not WAIT to hear how it goes.

Besides that, the most interesting thing that happened today was that Naomi and I went to the Farmer's Market. We actually go fairly regularly on Tuesday mornings.  There's one in Roseville in the parking lot of the Corpus Christi Catholic Church that runs from 8 am to noon.  I try not to go overboard when I shop there, because my family is not super crazy about veggies. But, I couldn't resist the green beans, jicama (which I was meant to share with Naomi, but she forgot her half), potatoes, lettuce, and a bouquet of flowers for Shawn. I should really bring my camera next time, just because I think half of my impulse buys are based on how pretty everything looks.  Maybe if I took pictures I could resist spending money on food that only I will eat.  I think I still have leftover daikon, sweet potatoes, green onions, and a lovely giant eggplant from two weeks ago.

This was always the problem with the CSA, too.

I'll eat it all eventually, but my family will ingest very little of it, alas.

I think I'm talking about all this mundanity because I can't stand to think about the travesty of justice that is the whole nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh... especially since resistance really feels futile in this circumstance. The Republicans have stopped pretending like they care and we're in the minority.  I just don't see how this isn't going to end up as a done deal and it's making me feel helpless and soul-crushed. If anyone out there has some advice for survival techniques let me know? I was looking through volunteer opportunities thinking that maybe I might feel better if I were somehow more engaged in triage--stuff on the ground that will make real world/real life differences to people's lives. Yelling on the internet isn't cutting it for me. 

Probably we'll get through this, but I sure would like the revolution to start soon.


---
*I should note, this will likely be tomorrow's dinner. Everyone was just in an "tonight?" mood about it.


lydamorehouse: (ichigo being adorbs)
 Mason got the job!

We've been waiting to say until all of the applicants were notified, but we can happily (pridefully) boast that our baby got a job at the science museum through KAYSC (Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center). He got the offer last Tuesday night, and paperwork has arrived for him to fill out. This Tuesday at 4 pm, Mason gets the whole HR treatment.  Sh*t just got real!

What is cool about this job, from what I can tell, is that he can keep it until he graduates. That would be amazing, if it works out. 

I still don't ENTIRELY understand what his job will be, exactly. This is something he found for himself, filled out the application for completely on his own, and the only thing either Shawn or I did for him was buy him a nice set of "business casual" clothes and drive him to the interview. So, my pride runs very deep on this one. I was fairly self-motivated when I was Mason's age, but I dunno. I THINK MY KID IS EXTRA SPECIAL, DON'T YOU?  ;-)

It's kind of been a whirlwind introduction into adulthood for Mason, this year.  He's learning to drive; he got his own checking account; he's starting AP (advanced placement) and CIS (college in school) classes; and now he's got himself an actual job that pays real money.

If we did any kind of magic to help this job happen, I think it was opening up a teen checking account for him this summer. We made sure to get a direct deposit slip as part of the deal, even though, at the time, we joked that it'd probably be awhile before he needed _that._ 

In other news, Shawn, Lisa, and I did the Summit Hill House Tour yesterday.  

First, of all, it needs to be said that I am a gigantic snoop. I LOVE looking in people's houses. I'm not really one of those people who gets off on judging and criticizing people's interior decorating (or housekeeping) so much as I think it's the writer part of me that really enjoys the peek into how other people live.  This is true across the board: fancy house to modest house, historic house to brand-new  

For instance, I'm not keen on shopping, but Shawn can ALWAYS drag me along to estate sales because they are a chance to go into someone's house and look at all the stuff they've collected over the years.

If you don't know about estate sales, they're kind of amazing. An estate sale is sort of a combination of an open house and a rummage sale, with many of the things for sale laid out in the rooms they came out of. So, like all the bed linens are in the bedroom, the furniture is all still where it was placed originally--only there's a price tag on it all. Sometimes there's even bathrooms that are open with bathroom items for sale in them.  So, you REALLY get a sense of how people lived. And, you usually get to go into every part of the house from the basement to the attic to the garage. Some rooms are blocked off, but pretty much you get to check out every nook and cranny. You're not supposed to open drawers, but that's really about it.  

Snooper's paradise.

The Summit Hill House Tour is like that, only without the stuff for sale.  The houses, too, are actual mansions. Many of the ones we visited were built at a time when people also housed servants--some of them SEVERAL sets of, or entire families of servants. A lot of the houses, too, were built by famous American (and some foreign) architects. So, not only are they fun to snoop, but many had a bit of history to them.

We turned in our tickets and got a map and guidebook that served as our entry to the houses. We were given a swag bag that included booties to wear as we entered each house. There were a dozen addresses open, but we only managed 5 of them. They were fairly spread out and, honestly, after a while, they started to blur together. A lot of people sign up for this, too, and there are long lines (aka queues for my UK friends.)



The first house we visited is known as "The Griggs House." (If you click on the link, you can get a virtual tour, including rooms we weren't allowed to see.)

It's a 1862 Italianate Villa. It's on the National Register of Historic places and used to be owned by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Architect Clarence H. Johnston remolded the "front hall." The thing I remember the most about this house was that the dinning hall had "sea floor marble," which meant that there were fossils embedded in the marble--which, I honestly originally mistook as scuff marks, though if you looked closely you could see where things like horseshoe crabs and fish. The dining room also had paintings that are "attributed to" Flemish painter Jan Frans van Bloemen (I don't know if that means they don't have provenance or what, but they were nice enough if you like that sort of thing.) The other room that was unique as the Drawing Room/Mirror Room which was a room in which the walls were mirrored panels...not like a hall of mirrors hung on the wall, but where the walls were ENTIRELY paneled in mirrors.  The tour guide said that it was quite blinding certain times of year.  Why this was fashionable, I have literally no idea.

We stopped in at the designated bathroom spot, the University Club, and snooped around there, too. This is one of the many buildings I have driven past for the last 20 odd years that Shawn has worked at the Minnesota Historical Society, and I've always been deeply curious about what it looks like on the inside. We were given free reign to explore and so we did. The view out of the windows overlooking the Mississippi River Valley was SPECTACULAR.  They also boast a lending library that looks straight out of Harry Potter.

The next stop was a house known as the "Carl T. Schuneman House" which was actually NOT on Summit Avenue, but still "on the hill" on Grand Hill. This house was actually built after ours, in 1925 in the Tudor Revival style. 

goofy lion statue outside fancy mansion

This house was apparently commissioned by the architectural partnership of Allen H. Stem and Roy H. Haslund.  The thing I most remember about this house was how stuffy it was--I mean as in, I broke out a sweat walking around in the place because the air was just not moving. Also, this house had been very "modernized." The current owner was a fan of Downton Abbey and commissioned a replica of the bell board you see on the show for the third floor hallway.  This was the only time I had a disparaging thought about the kinds of people who can afford houses like this, because... sure. I mean, we all want to pretend to have someone to bring us tea to the "small library" but it's a whole other thing when you actually can AFFORD to have someone bring you tea AND have a "small library," you know??

The next house, however, was our favorite. All these houses are named and this one is the "Cyrus B. Thurston-Rudolph Schiffmann House." It is a brick Victorian Queen Anne mansion built in 1881.

summit avenue house

Apparently the architect of this house is unknown, but suspected to be the German architect August Gauger. The appeal of this house is hard to explain. The owners kept most of the original features in amazing shape, including these intricate parquet floors on two of the three stories of this house. We were allow nearly everywhere, even up to the third floor artist studio. The spaces were classically Victorian, with lots of funny little hallways opening up into massive rooms. Shawn and I walked out of this one and agreed that it was the one we'd buy when we won the lottery.

The funniest story about this this house is something I overheard on the self-guided tour. I think we were in the library, which has this amazing mahogany paneling and built-in bookcases and one of the women behind us asked the tour guide, "Do you know if he's single?" referring to the current owner.

I had to laugh.

Shawn, Lisa, and I took a break at this point and had a refuel of caffeine at the Himalayan Java coffeehouse on Grand Avenue. It was a weird weather day because it was cold and rainy-ish enough outside that we needed jackets, but all of the houses were just a little too hot--probably due to all the people moving in and out and ancient ventilation systems. So, I ordered a hot honey latte and my companions both had iced Chai, which I was told was very good. (Thumbs up on my latte, too.) We sat for a while outside and tried to decide how much more we wanted to see. I really wanted to try to get into see 599 Summit, which is an 1889 Rowhouse, but is most famous for having been the home of St. Paul native, F. Scott Fitzgerald.  But, we drove past that place several times and the lines literally went around the block. So, we picked out a couple of out of the way places to try. 

At this point, however, it started to feel more like a "Parade of Homes" and less like an historic mansion tour, you know? I really quite enjoyed the 1910 Craftsman style house on Oxford street, but not because of anything profoundly impressive about it, but the owners had painted the walls brilliant colors, including a fire-engine red. I walked in and saw the bright color and sighed, "Ah, I like these people already," to which I was greeted with a "Good, because that's me!" Turns out the owners were acting as tour guides and so we talked to all of them about their house and how soul soothing it was to have brilliantly colored walls in the dead of a Minnesota winter. The thing I remember the most about that house besides the walls is that they had a scale model of a steamboat big enough to play in in their basement that had apparently come from the Minnesota Children's museum. It was clear that the family had structured the house to be the most amazing place for their grandchildren. Their carriage house had been turned into a playhouse, even.

We hoofed it up to Osceola Avenue to check out a fairly mundane American Foursquare built in 1908. At this point we were getting out of the "I could never afford a house like this" territory and into "If this were in my neighborhood I could have bought it" space. Which, doesn't mean that the houses weren't neat to snoop around in, but we were also getting physically tired from the constant shift between feeling overheated and walking in the brusque autumn air.  So, when we saw the long line outside of the next house (an 1892 Victorian on Fairmount Avenue) we bailed completely and headed home without even going inside.  

I feel kind of badly that we didn't even make half the houses on the tour, but I have no regrets. It was a tremendously fun way to spend a Sunday.
lydamorehouse: (ticked off Ichigo)
 I'd been waiting to follow-up on Mason's Saturday interview at the Science Museum until I posted the picture of him in his fancy outfit. We had to buy fancy shoes, too. He'd grown out of EVERYTHING.

Mason in a pollo and dress pants and shoes

It seemed to go as well as possible. From what he told us about the answers he gave to questions, he did as well as he could. Now it's up to luck and fate.  

I'm going to cross fingers for him because I've come to the conclusion that it really does sort of matter what kinds of first jobs you take.  Maybe not _so_ much in high school, but, when I was in college, I ended up taking a receptionist job because it was available and I figured "any work experience is good experience." Yeah.  Except guess what I was doing twenty years later? Same work. Same crappy pay. Every time I looked at a job outside of that area, I looked at my resume and realized that I had no experience to prove I'd be good at anything _other_ than answering phones.

If I hadn't had such crappy jobs that I could write novels while working them, I'd STILL be answering phones. Probably, in fact, I would have gotten a demotion because _no one_ needs secretaries to type their letters for them any more or file them. That's what Word does. (Go ahead and tell me that I'm wrong about this, but you know what I _mean_.)

The point is, had I to do it again, I might have been more picky about the things that went on to my resume. I would have found a way to focus more on the kinds of work I liked, teaching ESL, the cartooning classes I taught, etc.  I ended up where I wanted to be eventually, but I notice that Shawn's arc towards professional work started early. She was almost always better paid than I was, because she was almost always (except for those few stints at the Bookhouse and HalfPrice Books) doing work that was considered professional, rather than clerical.

I mean, maybe, if I went back in time and changed my resume, I would never have written a novel.  

But, it's hard to say. 

I still think it'd be nice if Mason started off on a more professional bent--I think, if nothing else, it gives him options. Shawn was always ABLE to land those gigs at bookstores, and then bounce back to professional work. I could NEVER break out of clerical---except in very narrow ways.

Probably I should have just taken the plunge and gotten a teaching license. 

Ah, hindsight. 
lydamorehouse: (ichigo freaked)
 I have to leave for work in a half hour. Normally, I wouldn't take a Friday afternoon shift (or try not to) since Fridays is now the day that the women of Wyrdsmiths+ meets. (The plus is because the group now includes other women writers who have never been Wyrdsmiths.)  BUT, everyone had to cancel for various reasons, and so when Maplewood called while we were out shopping for dress pants for Mason, I agreed to come in today.

We were at JC Penny's trying to find dress pants that fit our ridiculously tall and skinny young man BECAUSE Mason has a job interview on Saturday!  

Baby's first job interview!

This is a job he's tried for before--it's some kind of work with the Science Museum that I honestly don't entirely understand, but which appears to be a program that's offered to science-focused teens?  Washington Tech gets the notice about this every year. Last year, Mason applied but didn't get to the interview state. Likewise, his girlfriend applied last year, got an interview, but didn't get the job---so it's HIGHLY competitive. He's really going into this with the attitude of, "Well, no matter what happens, the interview is good practice." As part of that, Mason wanted to be sure to dress appropriately and, OF COURSE, he'd outgrown his previous set of dress pants.

It's been a good start to the year for Mason, actually, as we got a notice from the school a couple of days ago to inform us that he will be letting in Academics. I have no idea of letter jackets are still a thing, but we're totally getting him a jacket because BABY NERD LETTERED IN ACADEMICS.

I think the closest I got to something like this during my high school years was drama? I'm not sure you _could_ letter in drama, but I nearly won a school/drama club award for... well, basically participation, but it was more: you've been in x many plays, done x amount of stage hand work, etc.  The thing I remember about that is being DEEPLY BITTER about the award going to someone else because there was accounting for regional plays/theater done outside of school. So, I wasn't in the spring musical two separate years because I was performing with adults at the Community Theater in downtown LaCrosse.  

There's not a lot I remember about high school, but that feeling stuck with me.

The other big Mason news is that he's decided to rearrange his room and so we moved out one of the big bookcases in order to make room for an oak desk we found (on his request) through the neighborhood group.  He very SPECIFICALLY wanted a solid wood, antique desk of some sort. We'd been thinking we might luck out at an estate sale, but Shawn just happened to surf through our neighborhood group and found a guy offering his son's old desk with the promise of "free delivery." Given the size of our car, we were like, "SOLD!" He probably would have helped us wrestle it up two flights of stairs, but it's currently parked in our foyer waiting for Mason to finish getting his room ready.  And... for someone with muscles to volunteer to help us. Shawn would do it, but she shouldn't. The will is there, but her back is not strong enough. But, once all the various Jewish holidays are over, we've got a call out to our friend Sean M. Murphy, who has promised to be our "dude." We have often used Murphy in this function. He's the one who helped Mason pick out a good razor for his face, so... Murphy has long been our substitute "man around the house."

Ah, the trials of being a non-traditional family, eh?  :-)

Right, so I'd better go get dressed for work.

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