lydamorehouse: (Default)
Ugh, I have not had a chance to really sit down and finish the story of our trip to Chicago. It was amazing, honestly. The only other thing we did before leaving was go to the Shedd Aquarium.

a giant crab looking out of the aquarium at the camera.

This lovely crab is not the star of the story that i'm about to tell, but I didn't actually think to take pictures of the murder in progress that we observed in the tank two doors down, as it were. There was a crab that Mason and I watched that had cornered--pincered, really--a sea urchin and was greedily munching on its tank mate. We initially thought, "Oh, maybe that's crab food?" but then Mason noticed a picture of that exact urchin on the list of tank inhabitants and we were like, "Oh. Oh MY." Mason, who, when he was four of five would tell you that he wanted to grow up to be a marine biologist, was enraptured. I mean, I was, too? We must have stood by that tank watching the carnage for a good two or three minutes and Mason was like, "Okay, I want to come back to this, so let's look at other stuff and circle back around."

When we came back, the urchin had made a break for it (somehow!) and the crab was desperately trying to fish it out of the crevasse it had snuck into.

Such drama!

Also, Mason could NOT have been more excited to see an isopod and a ratfish, both of which are denizens of the very deepest, darkest parts of the ocean. A place Mason has longed to visit since he was a toddler. Other kids dream of the moon; Mason, the deep ocean.

Isopods, I should tell you, look like deep-sea pillbugs (or sowbug or rollypolly.) We sort of attracted a lot of "??" attention when Mason was like, "OMG, ima! An isopod!" Literally, everyone in the throng around us was like, "What's so damn exciting about a sea bug?" If anyone had asked that out loud, however, I'm SURE Mason would have been happy to tell them.

The drive back was uneventful. I managed to take a "wrong" turn leaving Chicago, so we ended up heading home via Milwaukee, but that wasn't the end of the world. Even as I veered off, I thought, "Eh, 90 / 94 both lead where I'm going, what's the difference?" And, sure enough, it wasn't much. We saw some slightly different scenery, is all.

Mason was back to school Monday and I worked at White Bear Lake from 10 to 2, which was only exciting because when I went to take the recycling out--Buttercup got out. Most of the time, this is no big deal. I nab him and toss him back inside.

This time, as one other time that I remember, Buttercup FREAKED OUT. He hissed at me when I approached him and growl/whined like I might hurt him. When I picked him up he got so scared that he basically ran over my face using his claws to get away from me. The cuts were not deep, but foreheads BLEED like a m-fer and I literally had to change my shirt before work because of the fountains of blood pouring off my face.

The reason I think Buttercup was having some kind of weird post-traumatic stress (he was stray before he came to us) is because when I opened the door, he ran in ahead of me like he was so, so very glad to be home away from that scary person trying to hurt him. He wound around my legs when I came in as though to say, "Ima, there was some scary sh*t out there, I barely escaped with my life, I love you so, so much!" My only other thought is that the other time he hissed at me like this and freaked out until I opened the door for him was another time when he got out and I kind of corned him between me and a wall. This time, it was me and a fence. Makes me think something really nasty must have happened to him that's lodged in his subconscious.

Poor baby.

I'm also deeply angry that, despite all the blood, I barely look injured. If you look closely (or I point to them) you can see the various scabs, but damn it. I was mauled in the FACE! I wanted to tell people some wild lie about how I was attacked by a bobcat!! My mutant healing factor has cursed me again. I never black eyes, either, damn it.

And now, three days later, everything just itches... and I can't scratch because they're all still so new and surface.

Sigh.

Anyway, I don't have much to report in terms of reading. I'm currently reading a manga called Hinamatsuri by Ohtake Masao, about a magical girl who falls (like literally, out of the sky) into the life of a low-level yakuza thug. She's from an alternate dimension/other world where telekinesis is a thing and so she's got superpowers that come in handy from time to time, but she's also like 11? So, the yakuza guy kind of becomes a trying-to-be-tough/secretly-softy foster father for her. I'm on chapter 40 or about 83 and I'm not sure I'm going to finish it? I don't hate it--in fact there have been a lot of fairly touching scenes so far and some humor that I could appreciate, but this kind of light touch is always a tough sell for me. I love humor in manga, but I tend to really prefer humor as a side note to more serious material? 

Anyway, a friend of mine also let me know that there is a second season of "Morose Mononokean" available on Crunchyroll, so I've been watching that. It's yet another story of a high schooler who can see yokai (this is apparently a MAJOR epidemic among high schoolers in Japan,) but I really have been digging the world-building around the yokai and the Mononokean (a kind of living, temple/tea house that moves through space, and, of course, currently occupies the folded space inside the high school.)  And the relationship between the master of the Monokean (Abeno) and the aforementioned high schooler. 

So, that's me ATM. I am working again tomorrow, from 9 to 1 at Shoreview.  But, we now have to pay for the trip to Chicago, so that's how it goes.

In other news, it's April 10th and it's snowing BUCKETS outside.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 We were headed down to Chicago to visit the University of Chicago. Mason got some early recruitment spam thanks to having taken the PSAT early, so we signed up for the University of Chicago's open house. There was going to be a half day program (from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm) program on Friday. So, we booked our hotel for Thursday and Friday nights. Going from a list provided by the U (with U visiting discounts), we ended up booking the London House: Hilton, with a view of the Chicago River, and... it turns out, this monstrosity:

Trump Tower (Chicago)


But, I get ahead of myself.

We headed out fairly early on Thursday morning.  But, rather than eat on the road, we stopped at Grandview Cafe and fueled up before hitting the highway. This meant we had a leisurely breakfast and probably didn't leave town until almost 9:30 am.  Usually, when traveling with Shawn we would have left at LEAST an hour earlier. We also would never have done what we did for a late lunch, which was drive into Madison, Wisconsin, to State Street and have a sit down meal at Taiwan Little Bites:

interior of a restaurant

The food here was really pretty amazing. Mason lamented that Madison was too far away to make this restaurant a regular. We are going to be hard pressed to drive past Madison now on our way to Indiana and not BEG Shawn to let us detour. Though, I think it could potentially drive her nuts (much as it did Mason) that I sort of drive into Madison by feel and muscle memory (I used to go to WisCON a lot and can still find the Concourse Hotel without much trouble.)

Then, we got checked into our fancy hotel and then promptly took a taxi out to the iO theater (Kingsbury Street) to watch "Improv Shakespeare."  The venue reminded me a lot of Bryant-Lake Bowl. There was a main bar area, complete with too-loud music and a fairly decent burger menu with the stages off down weird narrow halls. I had bought the tickets ahead of time and picked them up at the will call window (which always makes me feel like a fancy urban theater-goer). Even though it was general seating, the usher showed us to TERRIBLE seats. We were in folding chairs in an added row between two sets of tabled seats. It was like if someone had a regular restaurant set-up and then just added a row of chairs right behind the seats at the tables. So, like the two ladies in front of us felt compelled to introduce themselves to us because we were basically breathing on their necks, like odd, vaguely uninvited guests. I did not like that part much, but the show was actually quite hilarious. I tend to really enjoy improv, anyway, and it is recognizably one of the hardest forms of theater. But, these guys were great. There were a few absurd moments, but there were many, many more, "How did you manage a rhyming couplet about how Burgundy is in France?" 

interior of small theater

I was a little concerned about how to get a taxi back. A friend of mine said that the bar could call me a cab, but the bar did not. Their suggestion was "walk towards the translation" and hope. It had started raining, but that's what we did.

And I hailed a cab like a f*cking BOSS.

The cab drives were both memorable. The first one was memorable for that classic big city white-knuckle, grab the roll bar, "did he just jump the concrete median? Yes, he did!" kind of ride. The drive home was far more stately and relaxed, but filled with an honest to god character who wanted to complain about the city's corruption and had the oddest vocal tick. He ended every sentence with either, "You know what I mean?" or "Yeah, I know what you mean." 

Today, Friday, we spent the largest portion of the day doing the program that they had for us at the University of Chicago's Open House. We listened to a lot of talks, got a campus tour, and generally got star-struck by the amaze that is the University of Chicago. Mason would love to go there... for all sorts of reasons, but not the least of which is that the main quad's architecture is gorgeous. I think any kid that dreamed of going to Hogwart's would be happy to go to a school that looks like this...

Gothic building at the University of Chicago

But because I screwed up and mis-read the agenda, Mason and I survived on only coffee until almost 2 pm, when we finally had lunch at a noodle shop not far from campus. 

Parking around the U is also kind of a nightmare. Possibly, I should have figured out how to take public transport in, but instead we ended up at a parking ramp that was not only expensive, but weirdly hard to figure out how to get back into as a pedestrian. We figured it out, but there might have been some yelling.

Things kind of went pear-shaped from there. I probably should have had a better plan for us, to be fair. Normally, I do. But, I wasn't able to get any good Chicago guidebooks before we left town, so we were kind of dependent on the kindness of strangers to tell us what cool things we should do and see. Everyone seemed to think we needed to see Millennium Park. Well, first of all, we might have enjoyed it more, if I had listened to the GPS and kept driving to find the right place. Instead, Mason and I ended up wandering about in some other, very uninteresting park muttering. "Where the heck is the bean?" forever. Finally, we got back in the car and found the right place. By that point, everything would have had to be on fire to impress us. So, we were very, "Meh, a bean," and annoyed by how much it cost to park in the official lot.

obligatory bean shot

Mason and I went back to the hotel after that and Mason promptly face planted on the bed. 

I am happy to say that I have a plan for when he wakes up hungry. I researched late-night food places, so I'm going to treat him to a short walk down Michigan Avenue to a fun place (Safehouse) that is open until 2 am. So, no matter when he wakes up (presumably) we can still do a fun thing... unless he sleeps through, in which case, ah well. Next time.

Tomorrow, we pack up and check out, but we've got tickets to the Shedd Aquarium (free, thanks to a friend who volunteers there) and so we're for sure going to see that before we leave town. We may try to see a few other things, that'll be completely up to Mason. I don't really care when we leave time, though I would like to be home before midnight on Saturday. But, we're not likely to do Chicago again overnight like this for a long while, so we might as well live it up.

chicago skyline with corn cob building
lydamorehouse: (Default)
 I volunteered to be part of a pop-up library at Anime Detour this weekend, though MELSA, the over-arching library organization to which Ramsey County Libraries belong. The gig was short two-hour shifts, and I thought why not? If nothing else, it's essentially a free past to the con.  They encouraged cosplay, so I dug out my old Aizen cosplay. The picture is blurry because the only full length mirror we have in our house is behind a door that we almost never close and even though I washed centuries of dust off the surface, the glass is still wavy with age. But, I wanted to show a full length picture because frankly, the footwear is my best part. The tabi (the two toed socks are PERFECT). The rest is borrowed or thrift store finds.

blurry picture of a dumpy lesbian in a soul reaper cosplay

Finding the convention was kind of trip. I had not gone last year when they moved venues, so finding the Hyatt on Nicollet Avenue was a lot of me cursing while making u-turns in downtown Minneapolis. I have long joked that since moving to St. Paul the directional faeries of Minneapolis have rejected me, because things I used to find with ease now completely baffle me.  So, I'm glad I left a half hour earlier than I normally would have given myself to get into downtown, because... yeah.

The pop-up library was fun. They had a tables set up with a bunch of different activities. There were, of course, manga to look through and read (but we weren't checking any out,) comfy spots to read, etc., but we were also hosting a raffle drawing and a button for a fact table. I ended up staffing the button table. The idea is, that if you write down a fact (any fact, doesn't have to be manga or anime related, it can be like, "I am attending Anime Detour") and in exchange you can pick up a fannish related button for FREE.

somehow I look fatter and dumpier in same outfit but now I am in front of a table with buttons on it

Somehow I look ten times fatter in this picture. Ah, well, such is life. You can at least see the table with the buttons on it.

I had to pick up Shawn right after my shift, so I didn't get much of a chance to wander around the con. I went into artist's alley, and glanced at stuff but decided I'd better get going, because rush hour. 

And then I couldn't remember where I parked my car.

Like, I was standing around in downtown Minneapolis thinking, "Oh my god, which one of these bazillion parking ramps is the one I went into???" I have a pretty good directional memory, so I knew approximately what street (turns out I had the right parking lot on the first guess, but I went in the wrong door so the interior looked different.) At one point I was thinking, what do I even do if I can never figure it out? Do I take the bus home and wait for them to impound it?? We only have the one car!  But, after much panicked searching, I did find it. I even SOMEHOW made it across town in time to pick up Shawn at the usual time.

So that was my day. I do it again tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, Mason is still roboting. He's got tomorrow, as well. I heard from Shawn that their team won a few rounds and seemed to generally have a good day. I won't probably head out to pick him up until after 6:30 pm. Long days for that kid. I'll have to post more of the pictures that they shared on their twitter feed.

lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
I have a bunch of things to report, for those interested.  

First, I booked a hotel room for Mason and I in downtown Chicago for our trip in early April to attend the Open House at the University of Chicago. We're headed down on Thursday, April 4, for a Friday, half day presentation.  The tentative schedule of events includes "model classes," which, I mean, *I* will totally enjoy, even if Mason does not. Because the Friday programming starts so early, I booked our hotel through until Saturday morning so that we could have a little time to generally explore Chicago, which is something Mason has been wanting to do since forever. We go there fairly often, but almost always straight to the Field Museum, and I think he'd like to see some new stuff, if at all possible. To the end, I booked us some theater tickets. Since Chicago is known for its improv comedy, I found us a show called "Improvised Shakespeare" to go see on Thursday night.

I plan to hit the library in the next few days and raid it of any and all books on traveling to Chicago that they might have, because I love playing tourist pretty much anywhere.

Continuing with Mason-related news, Mason found out this morning that he did NOT get accepted to the Yale Global Studies Youth Summer Program for this year, alas. He did get the option to go on the waiting list, but since we were always on the fence about how the in living f*ck we were going to pay for this and the fact that Mason actually really ENJOYS a program free summer, we're letting him decide whether or not he's going to request to be on the waiting list or not. I feel pretty good about this outcome, despite an initial wave of disappointment. Had he gotten in, there would have been massive panic to rearrange our summer schedule, figure out whether or not it was worth a loan, etc., etc. Moreover, Mason only heard about the program two weeks before the application deadline. The fact that he got as far as being wait listed, seems pretty darned good.

Besides, because it's Yale, one of the many schools caught up in the pay to play scandal? I can totally just mutter, "Humph, I'm sure some rich family just paid to get THEIR kid on the top of the list." ;-)

Continuing on with things Mason is up to... Today is the first day of Mason's robotics tournament at the University of Minnesota (Williams Arena).  It's a three day thing, with inspections and warm-ups today and competition tomorrow and Saturday.  Mason left for school this morning saying, "Well, today the team gets to re-learn how to tolerate each other in a 10 x 10 space for 8 hours  without restarting to actual murder," which when he puts it like that i wonder why he likes this activity at ALL.  :-)

Shawn's birthday is coming up, on the first of April. Today, in fact, I need to take some time to get my butt to the store and get her the present she's been asking for. I meant to do that yesterday, but she ended up staying home with a terrible migraine. I could pretend that I stayed home to nurse her through it, but I actually left her sleeping to go hang out with my friends Harry and [personal profile] naomikritzer at a Chinese buffet for two hours to talk Marvel movies and rock operas.

For myself, I have to remember that I signed up to work/volunteer at the MELSA pop-up manga library at Anime Detour both tomorrow (from noon - 2 pm) and Saturday (6pm - 8 pm). 

Wow, we have a lot going on.

How's you?
lydamorehouse: (Aizen)
I turned in my apocalypse story yesterday morning. I will let you all know what, if anything, becomes of that. It was a good story for me to write. I normally DON'T use writing as therapy, but this one was a good vehicle to work out some of my feelings about my cats' deaths. It was kind of a "the world ends, but you go on anyway" sort of apocalypse.

Now it's time to turn my attention to Unjust Cause and getting that thing in order for Wizard Tower Press.

Last night, we had a guest. Mason has several close friends on his Overwatch Team. One of them is a young person named Græ (pronounced like Gray, and might even be spelled with a 'y' also. That is their online persona, but what Mason calls them, so...), who just happened to be in town with their parents visiting Macalaster College. Mason and Græ arranged to hang out and play video games in the basement. We ordered pizza, because of course, and also Græ is a vegetarian. We got to meet Græ's parents, who I absolutely ADORED. I mean, do you ever have that experience where you start talking to someone and you think, "Oh! This is one my people!" It was like that. Græ and Mason already knew each other, so they got on like a house on fire, as well. I think Græ was here from 4 pm to almost 10 pm, and then we all stood around the living room hanging out for another half hour when it was supposed to be time to pick-up because, yeah, they were all that great.

So that was a lot of fun.

While it Mason and Græ played video games and chatted in the basement, Shawn and I went upstairs and watched "Ant-Man and Wasp," which Shawn hadn't seen before. We started watching some Hong Kong drama called "Iceman," about time traveling Chinese warriors, but Shawn found that just too silly (many wires, much weirdness) and so we switched over to the MCU. Shawn had NOT seen the first Ant-Man, but was introduced to him via "Captain America: Civil War." She really loved the character Luis, so we're going to try and hunt down that first Ant-Man, because I do think she'll like the Luis bits, if nothing else.

Speaking of the MCU, I saw "Captain Marvel" and loved it. Only really a spoiler if you are living under a cave, but I respect cave-dwellers so... )

Over the weekend, we made a double batch of fleischkeukle, which, as my parents pointed out when they called, is something we seem to be doing more often. This is true, partly because we made the decision to make smaller batches more often. Otherwise, it takes ALL DAY. It only took MOST of the day this way.

Uncooked dough meat pockets, like slightly larger pierogi lining a baking pan

People on Facebook asked me what we fill these with. Shawn's family traditionally fills them with hamburger, onions, and spices. Very simple. The dough is really only special because it's a cream-based dough. They still manage to be very delicious, IMHO, particularly when eaten, piping hot, right out of the deep-fat frier.

Same meat filled pockets only deep-fat fried to a golden brown

My D&D group got cancelled on Saturday night, for reasons of a death in the extended family of one of our members. That made me sad for a number of reasons. I really look forward to playing, if nothing else, but the situation reminded me a lot of my (still living) first lover and all those complicated feelings that I will probably carry around my whole life, much like what our member described. 

The only other news is that we moved Shawn in to her new upstairs office on Saturday, while Mason was at work. Mostly this involved carrying plants and all the delicate things not normally trusted to workplace movers. I think her new office looks very nice, very IMPORTANT, befitting a State Archivist and Director of Library and Archives. The only thing she needs more of is art for the big beige industrial walls and she'll be set.

I think that's everything I know. I mean, I could squee at you all about my fannish life, wherein I have a fan of my fan work, who happens to be an artist and who has taken it upon themselves to make a manga-esque comic book out of on of my Bleach fics. As someone who always wanted to grow up to be a comic book artist herself, it thrills me no end to see my words put to pictures in this particular way. In fact, yesterday, I finished another chapter of this work and so I made sure to send a sneak preview to my artist ahead of time in the secret hope that they will feel inspired to draw something from the upcoming action. :-) I don't expect anyone here to be all that curious, but if you are, the permalink to my reblog is: http://junko222.tumblr.com/post/183671888942/aysmiro-comic-for-junko-and-her-story-forever (a note for those who are regular manga readers, this one reads English-language style, left to right.) The story of mine that 'aysmiro' is illustrating is linked to at the bottom of the three page panel spread, too, if you're inspired to check out my work, as well.

So cool.


lydamorehouse: (nic & coffee)
 Okay, wow, I forgot to post anything for a week. Gomenasai. My bad.

I did have some stories I wanted to recount, too. First of all, I worked at Shoreview Library on Saint Patrick's Day proper, last Sunday. For some reason I thought that the library opened at 10 am, and, as I was scheduled for 11 am - 3 pm, I waltzed in the door (using my beep-y lanyard thingie) and promptly set off the alarm. As it happened, my colleagues were coming in right behind me and so someone was able to put in the code to turn off the blaring. But, that was... interesting, as we say here in Minnesota.

I've always wondered what would happen if I just randomly tried to go into a library after hours with my official employee badge door opener.  Now I know!

I ended up working at Shoreview again on Monday night, which was fine. I continue to like library work and it gave me an opportunity to discover Polar Bear Love, a ridiculous manga about cross-species love. 

I spent a lot of the rest of the week playing taxi for Mason. He has been volunteering as a debate coach and there were two big tournaments at the U (Anderson Hall, West Bank) this week.  He ended up taking the light rail home last night, because his matches went late and I had Wyrdsmiths--which I couldn't skip as they were reading the apocalypse short story of mine which is due April 1. Speaking of which, that's all revised. I need to look over it several more times before I send it off, but I feel really quite good about it. I took some risks and i think they paid off. We'll see. 

Today is Friday, and so I hung out with [personal profile] naomikritzer and [personal profile] pegkerr at the coffeeshop and talked politics and water in the basement and all that sort of stuff.

And... now I can't remember what else I wanted to report, so I guess I'll close now with a promise to be better in the future.
lydamorehouse: (Aizen)
 Mason and his team working the robot

Team Magnatech 4229, with Mason in the olive green shirt, working on their robot in Grand Forks, North Dakota. 

We haven't heard very much from Mason while he's been off roboting, but their schedule is packed with one competition after another. Shawn has managed to watch a few of the matches on their Twitter livestream, but it always looks like unconstrained chaos to me, honestly. I can never remember our team's number (4229) and following the action is difficult. However, they were last ranked 26 or 24, which is pretty good, upper middle.  Though their feed reports problems with the controllers this morning, which means they currently can't get the robot to respond. (I swear this happens to them once a competition.)

Meanwhile, I've been humming along. I agreed to work at the library tomorrow from 11 am to 3 pm.  I may regret it for a number of reasons: 1) I might miss hearing some of Mason's stories firsthand about the trip, since he'd due back tonight at midnight, and 2) it's St. Patrick's Day official, which.. I mean, I can't imagine that libraries are a big destination on St. Patrick's Day, but who knows? 

I've got a St. Patrick's Day party myself tonight, and, since I have to be awake to pick Mason up at midnight, I can go and hang out as long as I like. 

I'm sure I have other news, but the caffeine hasn't hit yet.

Standing around watching a robot be unwrapped
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
We got Mason off for his robotics trip to Grand Forks, North Dakota. Alas, not without some static, when I thought I was being helpful. But, Mason is resisting ANY form of mothering me at the moment. It's like he's a toddler again with the whole, "IMA, I CAN DO IT." Even when, what I think I'm doing isn't mothering at all, but what i would do for anyone, like grabbing him a drink from the fridge.

But, I mean, we worked it out. I even got an apologetic "You do a lot for me. I'm sorry, I should appreciate you more," text. Which is huge. He is, really, as my friend Josey put it, a good lad. If I think back to my terrible teens? I was holy terror. Pretty sure I never told my mother i appreciated the things she did for me.

To be fair to everyone, this trip kind of came up suddenly, despite being on our calendar since forever.

Hell, I feel like March kind of came up suddenly, despite the natural progression of the calendar. Is it just me? How is it already the 13th?

But, it's Wednesday, so that means reading! I actually have some things to report, holy crap. I read SEMIOSIS by Sue Burke. At first I wasn't sure about it. I loved the first chapter and then felt a little dismayed when the second chapter jumped ahead a generation. I have, in my life, been very burned by time skips *cough*BLEACH*cough* *cough*HARRY POTTER*cough* But, I pushed through and discovered that EACH chapter is a different generation, which, in the end, worked out. I ended up enjoying the whole ride. So, ultimately: would recommend.

I'm now finally on to A RECORD OF A SPACE-BORN FEW by Becky Chambers, which I am likewise ambivalent about, but I'm rolling along with it because i have long been a fan of Chamber's narrative voice. There are some people who just READ well, in my head, and Chambers is one of them.

I haven't read much in the way of manga, which is.. I'm running out of new things to pick-up at the library, I think. I read the first two volumes of a manga that the library had about a serial killing magical blade, (Durarara!! Drrr!! Saika arc by Ryohgo Narita) but I didn't even review what I read because I just kind of went 'meh.' Which is weird, I should probably go back and do some kind of review, but I don't know. I did review From Green Kitchen by Ueda Aki (which I had read on-line), but I also read My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness finally, and I didn't review that.

I guess, I need to do a little review work and catch up.

Any-WAY, what are you all reading?
lydamorehouse: (gryffindor)
 To be fair, I stopped to get a cup of coffee from Claddaugh before I spent 20 minutes on the phone telling my credit card company that, yeah, no, I did not want $99 of Proactiv sent to Jamie Sanabria in Miami, Florida. 

Thank all the gods that not only did Jamie need to provide a delivery address for their purchase, but ALSO that Proactiv had whatever the f*ck they wanted on backorder, because WE GOT THE NOTIFICATION OF DELAY. The purchase had not yet shown up on our credit card statement and without Proactiv's lovely note informing us that our shipment to Jamie was going to be late by 2 to 3 weeks, we would have had no idea that someone was using our credit card.

Thanks to stunning incompetence all around, we were spared.

And now we're getting new credit cards. Whee!

So, that was my morning. How are you?

Let's see, the last couple of days have been kind of busy, but all in a good way. I spent yesterday morning having a lovely chat [personal profile] jiawen about a recent trip she took, Tiawan in general, and life. Oh! But, I forgot to ask her the question I've been asking everyone since hanging out with [personal profile] naomikritzer on Tuesday, however!

Naomi and I were chatting, like you do, about the various interesting things seen on social media, and she left me with this lovely question: Is there a childhood event that you would consider most "on brand" to who you are today?  

This stuck with me because I felt a little stumped. I could only think of something I'd done as an adult/post-college, that I would considered on "brand."  I mean, part of what's interesting about this question is that you sort of also have to define what you think is your BRAND.

For me, I picked a story from when I worked at the Immigration History Research Center at the U of MN, where a colleague and I detected what smelled like a potential gas leak.  That rotten egg smell?  I told my boss about it and there was some discussion about what to do. When it seemed like the answer was going to be, "Meh, it's probably fine, everybody go back to work," I announced that I was walking off the job. I would be going next door to dial 9-1-1 and wait somewhere safe. I was told to sit down and get back to work. I refused and looked my boss in the eye and dared them to fire me. Three hours later, I was the only one who did not have to ride in the ambulance because along with the natural gas there was a MASSIVE CARBON MONOXIDE LEAK. There was well over 400 parts per million in the air.

When I asked Shawn and told her that I couldn't think of anything that was from my "youth," she said, "Well, promise not to be mad, but..." and reminded me of the story I told her about when, in high school, I was in Paris on the senior language class trip and I talked a friend of mine into to going into a fancy restaurant because I noticed that escargot was on the menu. We sat down, ordered, ate the escargot (salty! yum!) and then walked out. It was only later did we realize we had walked out of an eight course meal, having only eaten the appetizer. Shawn said she figured that my "brand" was "adventurous, but kind of foolhardy."

*shrugs*

Seems also accurate.

For Shawn, I could think of two incidents from when she was very, very small. Apparently, her very first full sentence as a toddler was when she was reaching for something, she stopped herself and said, "Oh hell, that's a no-no."  I find that both very adorable and very Shawn. Also, when she was fighting with her older brother Keven, she, apparently, got super mad and the WORST thing she could think to do was write "HELL" on a piece of notebook paper and slide it under Keven's locked door. (She's still mad that her much older brother narced on her.) 

Mason didn't really want to play this game, and, to be fair, he's not entirely settled on a brand.  We have stories we love to tell on him, but it's not clear yet which of those will be the most likely to represent his future self.  I'm hoping it's the story of, when, in kindergarten, the teacher was talking about compound words to get the kids using longer words, and she asked the class to think of the biggest word they knew. When they got to Mason he said, "Antidisestablishmentarianism." She told us she blinked at him and said, "What?" And Mason with a pained sigh, slowly repeated "anti-dis-establish-ment-ari-an-ism." She said, "is that a word?" He said, "It's the longest word in the English language." (in a tone that implied that he was vaguely mortified that she didn't know.)

The reason he knew, of course, is that we were heavy into a video game called "Bookworm Adventures" where you get points making super long words and he'd wanted to know what would be the longest word we could potentially spell. So, we looked up the longest word. I think there are chemical compounds that are longer, but this one I'd also heard of.  We brought in the dictionary's definition to show his teacher.

Those are my family's "on brand" moments.  What's yours? 
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!

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