lydamorehouse: (Bazz-B)
 Mason's friend Rosemary had never been to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival before, so, despite the 90 F / 32.2 C degree temperatures, we decided to take her on Sunday.  Likely filed under "things you didn't know about Lyda" is the fact that, back in the late 1980s, I used to work as a performer out at the Ren Fest. I wore a big, red, curly wig, a costume sewn by my mother, and went by the stage name "Nut Meg."  (You can't actually see my face very well in this photo. I may have to find another one. But this is me, in either 1987 or 1988--I believe those are the only two years I worked as a performer out there.)

old photo from 1987 of Lyda in costume out at the MN Ren Fest

But, at any rate, because I used to work out there, I made two teenagers get up early so that we could arrive in time for 'opening gate.'  One of the things Rosemary, who is a HUGE fan of the Minnesota State Fair, wanted to know is, why did Mason and I like Ren Fest better?  Her point, which is a valid one, is that they're a lot the same: crowded, expensive, food oriented, and full of stuff you don't really need to buy, but that is fun to look at.  For me, the answer is the entertainers.  The shows--but particularly things like opening gate--are these dorky, improv experiences.  Opening gate is a free show and, technically, so are all the others (though the performers pass hats because at lot of them do make their living doing the Ren Fest circuit.)  There isn't anything quite like that at the State Fair. 

Plus, my people are there.

In fact, Mason summed up the difference pretty succinctly:  "It's nerdier."  

And, that's really it.  I would probably like the State Fair, if it was the nerd fest Ren Fair is.  Don't believe me? While we were waiting for the opening gate show to start (I always miscalculate how long it will take me to get from St. Paul to Shakopee.) I noticed this guy:

Ren Fair Deadpool

Ren Fair Deadpool is exactly the kind of person who would never cosplay at the State Fair. What does State Fair Deadpool even look like?  (Okay, probably now that I've asked, someone has done this and knows EXACTLY what Minnesota State Fair Deadpool would look like.) But, the point is, Ren Fest is like a science fiction/fantasy  convention with a middle ages theme, outdoors, that lasts for several weekends, plus great food.  I literally don't know why anyone would go to the State Fair, when you can have the State Fair x Nerds = Ren Fest.

Plus, what was the thing that Mason and Rosemary loved the most?  "Zilch." Zilch is this performer who tells fractured fairy tales in Spoonerisms.  This is such a nerd thing, I can't even.  There's so much to see, too.  We also watched Fandazzi do their fire dancing:

A woman in Renaissance costuming dancing with a fire rope--or a rope on fire, however you'd like to imagine it.

It's kind of hard not to have a good time out at Festival, IMHO.  I mean, it was so hot I was SWELTERING, but I really wanted to stay until 4:30 pm so the kids could see Zilch do his version of Romeo & Juliet, since they're both studying that in English this year. But, I just couldn't make it. How I used to pull full day performances out there, I have no idea. This may be why I only lasted a few years. (Actually, I know it's why.  Working Fest was the only time in my life that I had a doctor hand me a prescription with one word on it: "Sleep.")

Also, for the first time since the 1980s, I actually sat through the entire jousting show. That's actually a kind of amazing thing.... they really do run at each other in full gallop and break their lances. It's very clear that some of it is staged, but, even knowing that, doesn't diminish the excitement of it.  

Alas, I only got a still shot:

the jousting show, wth one of the "knights" on the ground spoiling for a fight.

Anyway, that was my weekend. How are you?
lydamorehouse: (??!!)
We spent a lot of time baking this weekend.  Shawn made pumpkin & cranberry muffins, some pecan pinwheels.  I made cinnamon swirl bread, pizza dough, and French bread.... Oh, and we both made a blueberry pie:

blueberry pie with a moon cut-out

The artist flair happened when I realized I'd cracked the pie crust. So, I decided to repeat the design intentionally around the crust and then add the moon cut-out. As my friend [personal profile] jiawen says it's sort of a reverse eclipse pie.

I do a lot of things like this when the politics suck. Remember how right before the election I spent days and days on lawn care? Well, it's been raining here a bunch (though nothing like Houston, HOLY SH*T) and so I couldn't get out to do any weeding or mowing or raking. Thus, much baking.  This current administration is going to make me gain five thousand pounds.

On the flip side, the house smells AMAZING. And there are a lot of leftovers.

The other thing that happen is that on Friday, a gift arrived in the mail! At CONvergence, I promised my friend in Oregon,[personal profile] offcntr ,  that I would send him a signed copy of Seanen McGuire's Rosemary and Rue.  In exchange, he offered pottery.

handmade poetry, looking down, with a falcon visible painted in the well of the bowl

This is what I got!  Lovely, isn't it? It is now displayed prominently in our dinning room next to my stamping things.  A place of honor!  If you like the look of this, you should check out the rest of Frank's wears at: !!

The other stuff that happened this weekend is that Mason went to the State Fair with his friend Rosemary.  Rosemary and her mom always run the 5K "Milk Run" at the crack of dawn (sometime after 7 am?) and Mason is their official "purse holder." In exchange, they get him a free ticket to the State Fair and they all hang out together for as long as my little extroverted introvert can take it.  Mason is extroverted enough that he likes going to things like this, but he's an introvert at heart and he leaves the party early with decreased energy, if you know what I mean. When he came home he had to hide in his room for several hours just to recharge his people-battery.  We had been hoping to hit the Munchkin Tournament  at Mischief Books & Games, but Mason just could NOT any more people.

This ended up working out just fine for me, because we had planned a big Sunday roast chicken dinner, and the timing would have been difficult if we'd run off to do the tournament.  The food was amazing. The French bread and blueberry pie, both HUGE successes.  I tried a simple roasted Brussel sprouts recipe that was... okay. Both Mason and I like Brussel sprouts, but I have been struggling to find a recipe that's tasty.  I swear I make them differently every Thanksgiving. Everything else was delicious. Shawn is only moderately fond of mashed potatoes so we ended up having hominy as our other side.  It worked pretty well, but I missed having an extra thing to slather with gravy and so had to do with extra helpings of "gravy bread."  :-)

So. Many. Extra. Pounds.

Though, if they all come from such good food, I will pat my round belly and sigh in happy contentment.  

lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Ah, it's already Monday and I have to go to work in about an hour. (I work at 10 am at the White Bear Lake branch, and it takes me a little over a half hour to get there.)  Somehow I got through the weekend without doing my homework for class tomorrow night.  I have a feeling that there will be much panicked reading this evening. :-P  

On the other hand I did manage some gardening.  I should take a picture of the amazing bleeding heart that we have in our faux Japanese garden.  (I would love a legit Japanese-style garden, but I think the closest thing I can hope for is to emulate the aesthetic of one. I'm just not that tidy and organized a gardener.) The bleeding heart is huge and gorgeous, and inspired me to pick up a couple more bleeding hearts, because: damn.  I should also connect the hose to water the new plantings.  Last week I didn't have to remember to do that because I was basically gardening in between the rain showers.  This week looks to be fairly dry and sunny, so I'd better get out there and water things. It'd be stupid to do all the transplanting and planting just to have everything croak.

Sunday, Mason's baseball team did a fundraising gig at the Cub Foods on Larpenteur Avenue.  Nine of them working as baggers raise a couple hundred bucks.  When I picked up Mason, coach made sure to let me know that Mason "had good hustle."  

Here's a picture our friend Sean Murphy (SMM Photo) took for us at last Thursday's game:

SMM Photography

Pretty good action shots.  Of course, Murphy is a serious sports photographer and you should have seen the size of his specialty lens!  Huuuuuge, as 45 might say.

Speaking of fundraisers, though, Mason is going to suggest the whole bagging thing to his Wind Energy Teacher/Advisor. His wind team still has a couple thousand dollars to fundraise to make their goal, and so they're looking for ways to make that difference up in the next few weeks.  My friend Naomi thought of a rummage sale for charity, and so we've cooked up something with one of the other moms from the team.  Gods know, Shawn and I have a ton of stuff to contribute.  We don't really have a great place to host it, but the other mom does, so fingers crossed that we can raise a few more bucks for the kids that way.  I mean, obviously, having made it past their deadline, Washington Tech is committed to sending these kids to Anaheim, but it would be nice to continue to lighten the school's burden.  (You can still donate here:  They leave on the 23rd of this month.  We're hoping to have the rummage sale that Saturday RIGHT BEFORE they leave, May 20th.  I'll post details about hours and location here and on all my other social media outlets once we have everything firmed up. 

That means we're starting to eye everything in the house with the "can I sell that???" look.  I think the cats will be lucky to escape without being tagged "$10 OR BEST OFFER."  ;-)  

Right. I should go get dressed for work. See y'all on the flip side.

lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
This morning started out rough.

We have a cat who has bathroom issues. I came down stairs to start a breakfast for Mason (normally, he just grabs himself a bowl of cereal, but today is his first day of swimming practice and so I thought I'd start him off right with eggs and bacon!), and I saw Inky, the problem cat, crouched very suspiciously over a paper grocery bag we'd left out. Sure, enough, he was doing his business.

I blame myself. Inky has pills that he takes to help with this problem, but I keep forgetting to pill him. Plus, I slacked a bit this last week on the boxes. But, so not only did I have to do emergency clean up and pilling, but I also decided I'd better get off my butt and change a few boxes.

All this before my morning cup of coffee.

Plus, it's just gray outside. Gray with rainy gray highlights.

The only silver lining in all this gray is that I still have some birthday cash leftover so I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Claddaugh, to get a fancy latte. I chatted up a guy there who was playing Pokemon Go. I don't play myself, but I think it's fascinating, but a bunch of my friends play and I'm familiar enough with the DS Pokemon that I can have a passably intelligent conversation when I see other people playing. Anyway, I asked him what he was catching in downtown and he said "Mostly Pidgeys." (I'd known from another friend that downtown St. Paul is pretty much Pidgey territory.) But he wasn't too bummed by it, because they'd released Ditto and rumor had it that Dittos were hiding among the Pidgeys. So I wished him luck Ditto hunting.

Once here at home, I had a ton of yesterday's dishes waiting for me. Last night was our traditional, post-Thanksgiving making of the knoephla with the leftover mashed potatoes. They're basically homemade potato noodles so there's a lot of pots involved, especially since Shawn's family traditionally eats them fried in bacon grease.

I decided to watch another episode of "Yuri on Ice," to help lighten the load. If you're looking for an respite from the current political climate, you really can't go wrong with an competitive ice-skating sports anime with SUPER GAY subtext.

Speaking of TV, Shawn and I binge watched the new "Gilmore Girls." We were fans back in the early 2000s and so we thought it'd be fun to catch up. I had mixed feelings, but I think it was a perfect echo of the earlier show. This sequel just reminded me of all the issues I had with the original. (Rest of my opinions have been removed for the moment, pending an article for Bitter Empire on the same theme.... because Rory Gilmore can SUCK IT. Seize the day, Motherf*cker~!)
lydamorehouse: (crazy eyed Renji)
 Mercury's backwardness* continues to affect my household.

Last night, Mason was hit by a terrible bout of insomnia.  Normally, if he can function at ALL, we send him off to school.  Today?  We decided to let him catch up with his sleep.  The semester is almost over and it's the day after a long weekend. He should be fine to catch up, particularly once he's gotten a decent amount of sleep.  

Consequentially, the whole household was delayed getting out the door.  Normally, this makes me a little cranky, if only because, even without a regular job, it still messes up my routine.  Today, however, I was glad for it, because I've been meaning to get to the bank to finish off a transaction that will FINALLY finish setting up my account on ACX and I can get the whole ball rolling with my voice actor friend, Jack, and the audible versions of my AngeLINK series.  We dawdled.  I bought coffee.  I waited patiently through traffic lights, drove the speed limit....


Even after all that noodling around, I still ended up having to go home for a half hour before heading back out.  Again, none of this is fatal, but gosh darn it, it's irritating.

On the other hand, yesterday was extremely pleasant.  For any overseas friends reading this, yesterday was what you would call a bank holiday here in the U.S.:  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  Schools were closed, as were all federal businesses.  Shawn had the day off work.

Since it was also supposed to be a bazillion degrees below zero (the scientific term), we decided to make the day a game day.  It would have been also a pajama day, but at 8:30 am our doorbell rang.  It was our neighbor, Ruthie, whose car wouldn't start. She needed a jump.  After running upstairs and throwing on some jeans, I pulled the car around and waited while they got it going.  (Ruthie is a nurse and doesn't get holidays like the rest of us and had a shift starting at 9 am.) But, outside of that tiny bit of excitement, we spent the day quietly.  We played two games of Munchkin (we have a lot of sets and we found a fun combo in Apocalypse and Mission Impossible/Spy,) and a seriously cut throat game of Monopoly.  I posted a picture of our game board on Facebook because by the end the board was RED with hotels. Ever since the time I quietly became the slumlord of Mediterranean/Baltic and brought my fellow gamers to their knees with the crushing rent of those awful properties with massive hotels on them, Mason has become obsessed with building on his monopolies. So, it was a fun game.  I actually survived paying $750 in rent. TWICE.

It was a good day, honestly.  I've been doing a lot of stamping, as I call my stamp collecting.  I'm still baffled as to why I find this activity fun.  But, it's very companionable, since Shawn will often sit next to me at the dinning room table, sewing together strips of cloth for the rugs/loom, and we will just hang out, chat, or watch/listen to a show.  She's been watching some British show (some soapy thing, I can't remember the name of it ATM)  that I've been experiencing mostly as an audible book, as it were, since it's too much trouble to try to watch and look through my stamps.  But, that's pleasant, too. Very old-timey, in a way.  Like listening to a radio play.   

Okay, well, it's just turned 9 am.  I should zip off and see if I can get my business sorted at the bank.  See you all later!

*In case you're wondering, as I often do, when will this madness end? The answer is:  Mercury goes direct on the 25th.
lydamorehouse: (Renji 3/4ths profile)
Rachel contacted the people in charge of setting up the blog roll, and the issue seems to be resolved. So that's a yay.

There are two more reviews of Song of Secrets up: For the Love of Fictional Worlds and Reading with Pixie, which is, of course, MY favorite because the blogger called out Gabe as their favorite character.

I had a very brief, drive-by, attendance at Diversicon this weekend. Eleanor invited me to sit in on the MCU panel and, as I said on Twitter, I geeked out so hard that people were checking with me about authors for certain runs of comic book titles. (I'm good, but not THAT good. :-) Still, that made me feel like a super-geek and I appreciated it, deeply.

The rest of the weekend was eaten by birthday related activities including several hours at the Mall of America herding pre-teens around the amusement park. I did get to see my friend Frank who stopped by to hang out on the porch with my folks on Mason's birthday actual, which was very lovely.
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
Uffdah, as they say around here.  Mason is back at school after three weeks hiatus, and every SINGLE Crossroads parent seemed to have forgotten how to use the parking lot. I'm lucky I'm not still there (or responsible for some car/child accident!)

This weekend, Mason spent part of his time at KidCON, which is [ profile] naomikritzer's gaming gathering of friends.  Mason came back really wanting to play Munchkin with us.  We have a basic set, and I've now been tasked to pick up a booster packs, if they have them, at MarsCON.  It was, admittedly, a lot of fun and totally got me jonesing for my RPGing days.  And Mason is the kind of person--not unlike myself--who actually ENJOYS hearing the tales of campaigns past, so I got to tell him about Fred Fumble, the Moon-Moon of the elf world, who routinely stumbled into his campaign mates and did THEM damage during a fight.  Fred's other name could have been Friendly Fire Fred.

It makes me wonder.... am I still one phone call away from a game?  If I asked around, could I find a D&D/RPG going down  RIGHT NOW to hook up with???

I used to joke that RPGs were my drug of choice, because if you go down the "Are you an Alcoholic/Drug Addict?" AA/NA pamphlet check list, "Do you have a hidden stash?" etc., my answers were often YES, if bent to include words like "of dice" or similar.  Do you think about gaming when you're not gaming?  OMG YES.  Do you schedule your life/change plans with others so you can game?  OMG YES.  Have you ever skipped work to game?  OMG YES.  The big one was always, "Could you get your drug of choice with one phone call/within the hour?"

Could I?  I used to be able to.  I had at least two friends on speed dial that were GMs who I probably could have talked into gathering something RIGHT NOW.  Actually, I bet I could... I still know gamers and their husbands/partners.

The other thing we did over the weekend was finally watch "The Wolverine."  True confession time: I can't remember every single detail of the Japan Saga.  I'm not even sure I ever read the Claremont & Miller original 4(?) issue miniseries in 1982 or if I caught up with Logan and Yukio later when Buscema penciled.  I have only the vaguest memories of those issues, and they kind of go like this: Yukio = kick ass; Makoto Mariko = tragic love interest (wife?); Silver Samurai = cool and adamantium.  The rest is lost to the annals of time or have been replaced by Bleach trivia.

Even with so little, I still feel like the movie betrayed my SACRED MEMORIES.

I will say, the filming on location, that was beautiful.  I wanted to live in all the houses they were in, particularly Mariko's bolthole in Nagasaki.  I also wanted her to feed me the nabemono she cooked Wolverine when they were there.

But the rest?  How did they make a cool arc so uncool?

I mean, Japan is just cool.  I don't know how you mess up Japan.  They even go to a love hotel and it's not nearly as funny and awkward and 'WTF, Japan?' as it should be.  There is talk of honor, but, I think, ultimately, it's hollow....particularly for the one person it should never be: Wolverine.

Shawn, half way through the film, turned to me and said, "They're making Wolverine nothing more than a brutish thug."  Casual fans of Wolverine might say, "And?" Isn't that his character?  No, it's really not, nor has it ever been.  Shawn is a much, MUCH bigger Wolverine fan than I am, but I can tell you the simple Marvel formula that sums up what Wolverine is about:  Wolverine is a beast struggling to be a man.

Wolverine stories, when they're at their best, tap this core issue.  I feel like (and I may be misremembering since I, frankly, remember almost nothing,) Claremont's Japan Saga and subsequent Japan arcs deal with this in a unique way--the idea of Wolverine as a ronin, as a masterless samurai.  They said those words in "The Wolverine" but they never meant them.  The writers of "The Wolverine" seemed to think this meant ronin = wild, lawless thug.  When, in fact, ronin should equal a lost soul that desperately craves honor and a code to live by.  This is a good analogy for Wolverine's constant struggle to tame his inner demon. Claremont knew that (I think.)  Or, if he didn't, subsequent writers who took on the Japan Wolverine really hammered that into my subconscious.

"The Wolverine" screwed this up a number of ways.  They did that thing modern superhero movies often get wrong, they focus on the super and not the HERO.  At one point Wolverine comes across one of the baddies and LITERALLY thows him over a hotel balcony.  We see that he's survived the fall by landing in a pool, but Yukio says, "How did you know that pool was there." Wolverine says, in full-on badass mode, "I didn't."

But, see, right attitude, WRONG MOVE.  Of all the Marvel heroes, Wolverine is most-likely-to-thoughtlessly-slaughter, but a good writer makes him suffer those moments because Logan/Wolverine doesn't WANT be only a beast.  Similarly, there's a moment when Wolverine sticks his chopsticks upright in the rice bowl and Mariko explains the chopstick taboo to him (which has to do with funerals and being considered bad luck/bad taste), but then he does it again.

I mean, okay, Wolverine is a brute.  This is one of the reasons I never entirely cottoned to him as character in the comic books.  However, I always felt that Mariko/Japan was one of the things that civilized him in a very sympathetic way.  I mean, it's classic, right? The love of a woman tames the wild man.  I'm pretty sure that started with Enkidu and is a total trope, but it's a good one... and it works with Wolverine, IMHO, because sometimes the love is slightly more platonic, like his relationship with Kitty Pryde.  And with Mariko/Japan there was (at least in my head) this lovely combination of love and HONOR.

The movie didn't seem to even try to go there, which is weird, because it was kind of slow in places.  If they were going to skip the character stuff, just SKIP IT, and go right into the ninja pile up, you know?

Ah, well, opportunities lost.  Once again, Hollywood neglected to call me.  I'm not sure what they're thinking when they don't tap me, honestly.

In other news, if you're curious about the other members of my writers' group, Wyrdsmiths, today on our blog Kelly McCullough is the featured interviewee.  Check it out:


Feb. 15th, 2013 07:53 am
lydamorehouse: (more renji art)
I woke up this morning feeling very dutiful. So I went downstairs, made coffee, and put in a thousand words on Samurai High (my current WIP, of which I'm trying to get sample chapters ready for an editor who showed interest in the proposal by early March.)

This is a good start for me, because we're planning to spend most of the day as a family having a "Staycation" at the Waterpark of America.

Last summer, Mason participated in the Roseville Library's "Book-a-wocky," wherein he vowed to read for 20 hours over summer vacation (which for him is only the month of August.) The deal was that if he made good on his promise, he'd receive a bag of goodies from the library. In that bag of goodies were several free passes, including an all-day pass to said waterpark. This, of course, is Mason's biggest scam. Reading is never a chore and, if he choses to focus on it, it can he read about 20 hours in three days.

But neither Shawn nor I think rewarding Mason for reading is ever a bad idea, even when he'd do it anyway. Finding a time when we can all go to the waterpark (and have the money for two extra tickets), however, has been a chore. So the day has finally come. Mason has been hopping up and down singing, "Water park day! Water park day!"

I, on the other hand, have been having PTSD about the water slides.

Actually, the slides aren't that bad. But, as an adult/old lady, I find I suffer vertigo a lot easier than I used to even at, say, twenty.

So that's going to be be my day. I wonder how my hair will do--it's been dyed several times now and clorine is never nice to hair dye. Perhaps all this rusty red will turn Yachiru pink! Then I'll just have to get a different hairstyle (and, if I felt clever, a captain's haori. If I were going to cospaly Yachiru I'd have be her as an adult.)

Last night was Valentine's Day and we watched "Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix" as a family with popcorn and lemonade. I spent the whole movie wondering why the Doweger Countess was being so... NICE. ;-)
lydamorehouse: (Default)
First of all, I'm completly bummed out.  We bought two new shubunkins (calico goldfish) at PetCo and happily brought them home.  They've been doing great after what seemed like the inital shock of being in a new place where the lights go on and off.  We named them Thor and Loki. 

Thor is dead.

I was so shocked to discover Thor's lifeless body this morning after dropping the family off at school and work.  I mean, he was swimming happily a few hours ago!  I have no idea what happened.  My only thought is that the fish either brought some disease with them or, somehow, despite several thorough water changes, there was still something lurking in my tank from the previous fish. 

The only good news is that PetCo knows that fish are risky, so there's a 30 day "return" policy.  If your fish croak, they'll replace them free of charge.  So, if Loki pulls through this, I will go back and get him a new companion, and perhaps name the new fish something that would make Loki happier... perhaps Fenrir?

In other less depressing news, I started the sequel to Precinct 13 (and it's hillarious!).  Having talked to [ profile] haikujaguar off-line a bit aout this, I think I'm going to try the serialization model.   The plan is that once I get a couple of thousand words written, I'll post the first part "for free."  After that, I'll follow with an offer for more, if folks are interested in paying for it... or maybe, I'll just link to a tip jar for a while until I'm sure I have an interested readership.  I think besides some of the nitpicky deals (like setting up the tip jar icon through paypal), the challenge is going to be getting the word out. 

I thought I'd post here as well as the vastly under-used tate hallaway blogspot blog, and promote it via twitter and facebook. If you folks have ideas, now would be a great time to send them along.

It's going to be an interesting experiment, at any rate.  I've been writing like this (in small installments) for fan fic, so I'm not worried that I can push myself to continue to post every several days and that the story will be coherent.  What worries me is that these stories will go out into the world with a resounding thud, as they fall from the nest completely unable to fly.  I have a hard time believing I have enough fans to make this work. 

If nothing else, I should have something resembling an e-book at the end.

And, it should be fun, regardless of any profits made along the way.

Meanwhile, I've gotten several pages written on my next stab at a military SF proposal for my editor.  This time I'm going for a much simpler, straight-forward story with an uncomplicated hero.  As Shawn said to me the other day, "Think: Captain America."  That very well be the peice that's been missing from the other tries, and, as they say, nothing ventured.... I've been stuck on some plot points for that, but I've decided to let my brain turn things over and percolate a bit.  Still, I hope to have something for Wyrdsmiths to look over at the next meeting, which I think is this Thursday.

Oh, yeah, and I spent all day yesterday painting the foyer.  It's a tiny space, really, but this included painting the crown molding (which the previous owners sprayed over with that bumpy plaster crap), and the door and a bunch of other picky bits.  Still, it looks marvelous now.  I'm quite pleased... and tired now.
lydamorehouse: (Default)
I've got a lot to catch y'all up on. Friday was Mason's parent-teacher conference and, no surprise to anyone, Mason is a good student. I only wish he enjoyed school more. You can see in some of his assignments a certain lack of enthusiasm, though this semester, at least, he had one writing assignment he really enjoyed. He's discovered the Warrior books by Erin Hunter, and when asked to write fiction for his writing class, my baby wrote his first peice of fan fic! His story is called "Dusttribe Rising." The best part? He told us that it was the first time that he didn't want to stop writing.


On Saturday, my singing went OK. I wouldn't call it great, but, frankly, I blame the weather. It was gorgeous outside, so I suspect some people who might have come decided it was more enjoyable to play in the garden or whatever. I would have too, honestly. Though, as with any signing there were one or two surprise shows -- a parent of one of Mason's friend's came, which was great. I love when I can pull people out of their usual comfort zones into the world of SF fandom. The other was a high school friend of mine (Mary), whose daughter is a big fan of the Ana series.

So it wasn't jam packed, but it was nice enough. I only hope Don wasn't too disappointed. I'm just glad anyone came, given that I had two signings so close together.

Speaking of books, though, I have to make a brief commerical interruption. My friend [ profile] naomikritzer has a new short story collection available through Kindle.

This one is called Comrade Grandmother and Other Stories and I have to make a special plug because two of my favorite short stories by Naomi are included. The title story, of course, but also "The Golem," which is a story I've taught in my Loft classes. AND, for those of you Lyda Morehouse completeists out there, a short story (novella?) that I co-wrote with Naomi, "The Long Walk" is also included in this collection. So, you really MUST buy it early and often. (Kidding.)


Saturday afternoon, Mason tested for his yellow belt in kuk sool wan. He did awesome. I plan to post a picture or two later. The funny part about that is that my little seven year old has his very first muscle ache. They did a lot of crunches as part of the train/victory dance (their new location is near the Amtrack station so they do something special every time a train comes along.) Being seven, he'd never experienced this before and I had to explain that he probably actually strained something a little. :-)

Sunday was Mother's Day, which, because Shawn and I are both selfish, we decided could be Shawn's day to lie around like a princess (I get my own in December, on the day I adopted Mason, December 5th). In celebration, we painted our front storm door bright purple. (Look, folks, it's what she wanted to do.) We also had cupcakes and presents and napping. It started out a bit rough, since Mason had almost no sleep the night before, but the nap fixed everything. As naps often do.

So, that's it. How's by you?
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The weekend at chez Morehouse was delightfully uneventful, even with the welcoming in of the new year.

Mason really wanted to stay up to see the ball drop in New York, so Shawn and I managed to prop our eyes open until midnight. Mason, I should note, had no problem whatsoever. He's actually managed to pull an all-nighter already. As a treat, we ocassionally let him stay up and read as long as he'd like. Mom and I go to bed, and let him do his thing. Just last week, he managed to stay up until 6 am. So staying up was not a problem for little boy, only for us grown-ups. But at the stroke of midnight, we got out the faux champaign (sparkling apple cider,) and put it in these novelity glasses we bought at Walgren's that have lights in the stem of the flute. We gave midnight smooches, toasted, and sang "Auld Lang Syne."

We have two official traditions for the new year. The first is one that Shawn started many years ago, after reading about it in Llwellyn's Witch Almanac, I think. We put "silver" (actually dimes) on our doorstep on new year's eve, and bring it ritually into the house the next morning to symbolize bringing prosperity and money into our house. We add a dime every year we've been doing it (for inflation? fun?) and try to have the dime be minted in the year passing. We couldn't find a 2010 dime this year, so we put in one from 1967, the year both Shawn and I were born.

The other official tradition is that the Christmas/Solstice tree comes down on New Year's Day. So part of the day on Saturday, we spent putting away ornaments and decorations and dragging the tree out to the alley. I managed to break two glass ornaments, alas. Hopefully that doesn't counteract the prosperity magic of the dimes.

We decided on a whim over this vacation, on Friday, to start watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on DVD. Mason wasn't interested at first, but got caught up when Aragorn fights the ring wraiths and Frodo gets stabbed. When Boromir dies we all wept like dogs, and Mason was totally hooked. After that, it kind of became a thing. We met upstairs in the afternoon and sat down to watch the next one. Which went along fine until Sunday night, when --right at the point when Frodo is stung by the giant spider queen, Shelob -- the DVD flaked. We washed it. We tapped the DVD player. But the disc would spin no more.

So began my quest.

I drove out to Target just up the street on University, but they didn't have it. I called Borders on University, but they only had "Two Towers" in Blueray. Moving northward, I tried Barnes & Noble at Har Mar, called HPB in Roseville, went to Best Buy, called the Borders in Roseville Mall... NO ONE had it.

The guy at Barnes & Noble thought that there might be a copy in Maplewood, but he wasn't sure. I was losing hope. Then, I remembered who I was. I am a proud geek, member of the nerd herd. I got the phone and started calling my friends. Someone that I know must be a fan of the LotRs enough to have a copy! Or at least, maybe they would know someone who knew someone. I mean, come on, this is fandom, I figured I was probably only seven degrees of seperation from Peter Jackson himself.

When I called, [ profile] naomikritzer happened to be talking to friends who had a copy. I could meet them at their place and they would "but lend it to me." (Remember the scene in Fellowship with Boromir and Frodo? "If you would but lend it [the ring] to me...")


So we were able to watch the end last night. Now Mason is thinking we might do a "Harry Potter" with the Lord of the Rings -- which means read each book out loud and at the end of each book, watch the movie again. I'm totally up for that. I'd forgotten how much I loved the movies and how well I remember the first book. Speaking of fandom, it is my utter shame that I have, in point of fact, never read beyond Fellowship. What can I say? I was thirteen and dyslexic... still, I've always been embarrassed by this and usually deny it, if pressed.

Kind of cool, too, that today is J. R. R. Tolkien's birthday. It's almost like we planned this (only we didn't.)
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I have a new book to write (Tate's YA book #3), and I've been having a hell of a time getting motivated (or, as my family likes to say "motor-vated") to write it. I think the truth is that I've fallen out of the habit. [ profile] naomikritzer and I have talked about this before. Even after however many years publishing books, it's still easier for me to write if I DO IT EVERY DAY. Writing *isn't* like riding a bicycle. I seem to totally forget how to write/have discpline if I take too long a vacation from it.

One of my big goals today is to actually put words on screen.

The weirdest part of this fallow period is that, although I have been doing quite a bit of "in-take" as I talked about before, I'm actually kind of excited about the proposal that I sent in. Book #3 should be fun to write. I just have to start it.

The weekend was busy. Friday was Mason's half-day, and we had a lovely fire and Mason read a lot in front of it. I did some more yard work, because we as many trees as we have, the raking is never done. I managed to put the herb garden to bed, which is a big project.

On Saturday was Mason's continuing swim class. He's still having a great deal of fun with it, and really seems to be on the brink of really, for real swimming on his own. Saturday, despite the wind, I did a little raking -- though the front could use another pass, since our really-late to change maple finally dumped most of its leaves. (With the early winters we have been having lately, this tree usually sheds onto snow.) I must have bagged about a dozen bags. Can I just say the compostable bags SUCK. It takes almost no pressure to rip them to shreds, so all I can say to the St. Paul garbage folks who will be picking them up: "sorry! But, dude, you brought this on yourself!" (The compostable bags are required now, or they won't pick up at all. It's awesome that the city picks up our lawn waste, but, man, the bags are whimpy.)

Saturday afternoon we did an exchange of junk with Shawn's brother Keven, with whom we've been estranged for two years. We reached a kind of truce via e-mail, which is... good? It's all very complicated and not something I really want to go into with great detail, because, honestly, the various problems we've had with Keven have spanned the entire twenty-five years Shawn and I have been together. Still, that first meeting in two years was nicely anticlimatic, but it still left Shawn and I exhausted. I think we'd had a lot of anxiety leading up to it, so we crashed hard afterwards. We ended up watching BBC's "Planet Earth" (a small bit of the several disc set) and eating Red Savoy's pizza in a daze.

Sunday we spent more time in the attic, which we are still trying to clear of roofing detrius. Not exactly a fun-filled weekend, and it was made somewhat less pleasant by the fact that the sudden change in barometric pressure gave me a sinus headache most of Sunday.

But tonight should be fun. Mason has an afterschool class called "staying safe at home." And, then, if we're not too pooped after that, we're going to try and hit the later kuk sool wan class for white belts/kids (we usually do the 5:00 pm class, but I don't think we can make that one with Mason's schedule tonight.) I feel badly that we haven't quite settled into a routine with karate yet, but I have faith that we will.

Okay. No more stalling. Off to write and then excercise.
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Shawn arrived home safely on Friday night. The only thing that went awry while she was away was that I totally forgot to go pick up our very last CSA box. I blame MEA or whatever reason it was that we didn't have school. I managed to remember that it was Thursday in terms of recycling, but we were picking up Donte for the sleepover right about when I should have been collecting the box.

And it had spinach in it too. sigh.

We spent much of Saturday recovering/decompressing from the sleepover/business trip. I had a gig at the Roseville Public Library at 3:00 pm, which was a dud. They were having me speak in the middle of their "Harvest Festival" which included things that were a lot more awesome than me, like henna tattooing, storytime, etc. Plus, they put me in a very forbidding white room. Two people came. I talked to them anyway, and somewhere near the end of the hour four other people trickled in. We'd already devolved into talking about famous people we'd met, and I was telling my story of crashing Neil Gaiman's Guy Fawkes party (and how I peed in the same stall as Ursula K. LeGuin at WisCON.) If we were at a science fiction convention, we would have retired to the bar almost right away. :-)

But, the library was beautiful and the librarians were awesome. I so don't blame them -- or even the patrons for their disinterst. There was just too much other cool stuff going on at the same time. I mean, for God(dess)'s sake, they had a Wii in the teen scene room on a widescreen. If it were me, that's where I'd have been hanging out too!

Sunday, we celebrated full moon (which was actually Friday night) and then I spent the day cooking a chicken for my nephew Jonathan. I made some very odd, but ultimately sort of tasty coleslaw of the rutabega and turnip that were left over from the previous CSA box. It was strange, but it had a nice tang that I ended up enjoying. My mashed potatoes were so creamy they almost seemed fake, you know? My bread was perfect too, so, all round it was excellent food and even better company -- though I wasn't terribly focused for some reason. I think it might have been the rainy weather and the slowness of the weekend. Also, I spent a lot of my day reading and that can turn me rather introspectively quiet.

I finished up GRACLING by Katlin Cashore. Normally, I'm not a fan of BFFWMs (Big, Fat Fantasies with Maps,) but this YA was extremely compelling. Our heroine, Katsa, lives in a world where people like my mother (born with two different colored eyes) are graced -- they have some kind of superpower. Katsa has one blue, one green eye and her grace is killing. She's being used as a tool by her uncle, the king, and meets her match one day when she runs into Po, a foreign prince graced with fighting.

Or so it seems.

This book is new enough that I don't want to spoil it, so I won't tell you much more other than things are wonderfully complicated -- in a way that made me depressed that I hadn't thought of this idea first, you know?

At first I had a hard time relating to Katsa, but I eventually got used to Cashore's storytelling style, which reminded me of what I've read of Eleanor Arason's unfinished YA (the bonus of being in Wyrdsmiths.) Also, having just read HUNGER GAMES triology, I kept expecting something REALLY AWFUL to happen, and I was estaticlly relieved when it didn't. That might make it sound like nothing happens in this story, but that's not true. The story isn't typical hanging-on-the-edge-of-my-seat kind of exciting, but I was entirely engaged in the characters and what was happening in a way I haven't been in a long time. So I enthusiastically recommend it to anyone who hasn't picked it up yet.

Also, and this is perhaps a weird comment, but I think I liked GRACLING because Katsa might be a courtly lady in a fantasy world, but all the things that bug me about fantasies bugged Katsa too. The court politics (while there and part of the story) were uninteresting to her. She found women's place in society wrong and unjust (and she eventually does something about it.) She's determined to remain unmarried and childless in a way you don't usually find in such an incredibly romantic story in a pastoral fantasy, you know? I found that utterly awesome. Plus, she's very obviously straight, but she cuts her hair like a boy and ocassionally passes as a boy in society. She extraordinarily butch, and I like that because as a teen I would have adored having this role model to consider among all the other character's lives I was "trying on" as part of my coming out process.

In fact, she's kind of who I was in high school before I realized that I didn't thrill to men quite the way I did to women. (For those who don't know, I like boys. I dated boys all though high school and into my first few months of college.) Anyway, Katsa is very admirable throughout. She's the kind of heroine that I often complain about not seeing enough of -- a tough woman who is still complicatedly human in her relationships, etc. She ends up having a child to protect (one of my bugaboos particularly of strong women in film) but their relationship ends up being richly complicated as well.

Anyway, I'm afraid I'll give the whole thing away if I talk too much about it. Maybe if we meet at a science fiction convention -- and you've read it too -- we can put our heads together and really discuss the book.

That'd be fun. See you there.
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Mason has started taking swimming lessons again. He had a breakthrough this last summer, when he spontaneously figured out how to back float on his own. He's had lessons on and off throughout his life (starting in a baby class when he was only six or eight months old,) but he's now got a certain amount of confidence that may have been previously lacking. He was FEARLESS with the kickboard/back float they had him do on Saturday morning. I could hear him shouting from across the pool, "I can do it on my own!" And he did. He was so good, in fact, that the instructor, who follows along for safety, had a hard time keeping up with him.

Of course, this was the first and only time Shawn skipped. The nice weather has been playing havoc with her sinuses, sometimes triggering migraines, so she stayed home at my insistance when she said she was feeling a bit under the weather. Of course, wouldn't you know it? Saturday was also the day that they let the kids jump off the diving board... in the deep end!

Mason has been doing cannon balls off our friend Gerriann's dock all last summer, but the diving board was a bit more intimiating. Even so, he did extremely well. Only a little hesitant, and no one had to push/drop him in. I'm only sorry Mommy missed it, and I didn't think to bring my camera (what? Usually they do the same stuff over and over again! How was I supposed to know?)

I had to take the cat, Deliah, to the vet after swimming class where we got the startlingly good news that the diet seems to be working! My personal theory is that the cats so HATE the dry food that they only eat the 1/4 can of wet they get every day... with only a few nibbles of the dry when they're desperate, but hey, if it works, this is good.

The rest of Saturday was spent preparing some furnature my folks brought up on Friday. I spray painted a foot stool -- it was a dingy brown wicker, and now it's shiney white! Yay! Shawn stained a battered wooden cabniet, and I picked up some fun drawer pulls from Menards (shape of... a frog! Form of... a leaf!) I also took advantage of the nice weather and mowed and did a bit of yard work. We topped the day off with a cook out of brats and hotdogs!

Sunday I hung out with Eleanor as part of the St. Paul Art Crawl. Wyrdsmiths purchased a table, but, it turned out, none of us really wanted to staff it all weekend. Eleanor would have been able to do it, but, by chance, she had family in town until Sunday. So we compromised by agreeing to just have the table on Sunday and not bothering with a reading or anything else. I misunderstood the time things started and showed up about forty-five minutes early, so instead of hanging around twiddling my thumbs I wandered over to the St. Paul Farmer's Market. Of course, I ended up buying fresh dill and cucumbers, as well as some handcrafted soaps. I don't think we had many visitors to our table, but it, for me, at least, turned into a very nice afternoon.

I was very impressed with the St. Paul Farmer's Market. I'd never been. (I know, for such a stalwart St. Paulie, you'd think I would have.) I think I was expecting the chaos that is the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and so shied away. I wish I hadn't waited so long! It's really quite managable. I think even Shawn, who has been known to faint in large crowds, might enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of the St. Paul Farmer's Market.

Otherwise, I don't know much. How's by you?

Up North!

Aug. 16th, 2010 09:22 am
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I had a busy weekend. I had a talk at Midwest Fiction Writers (the local chapter of the Romance Writers of America) about ALMOST TO DIE FOR's "journey." I ended up babbling about a bunch of vaguely unrelated stuff, including telling the story of how weird it is to be on TV. I was only disappointed that I couldn't hang around for the regular meeting because their guest speaker was none other than Lois McMaster Bujold.

BUT, I had to pick up my cat, Inky, at the vet. Turns out my vet and the MFW meeting are about two minutes from each other, as opposed to the twenty it takes for me to get home and back again. So I dropped off poor, yowling Inky at 9:00 am, went off to my meeting, and back again for the 11:30 am appointment.

I didn't get home until nearly 1:00 pm, and I hadn't eatten all day. So I took Mason off to a park and we had Subway sandwiches and buried our feet in the sand. The rest of the day was much more mellow.

On Sunday, we went up to our friend's cabin in Siren, Wisconsin. It was downright CHILLY, but that didn't stop our little water baby!

And that's pretty much how we spent the day: doing cannonballs off the dock and intermittently running back inside to warming up and reading more of the HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. (We're at Slughorn's Christmas Party.)

Must go!
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Just as we had on the way up, we made the trip home an adventure all its own. I was in full-on lavender-dad mode* -- including making us make a few u-turns when we missed our turn-offs. However, with one exception all our side trips were worth it.

The first stop was a short jaunt up Highway 1 off 61 to see Illgen Falls, made slightly longer by the fact that our guide book 61 GEMS ON HIGHWAY 61 noted we were to turn left just after the sign that read “Devil’s Rock,” but neglected to mention that the sign was _tiny_ and really easy to miss. We sailed right by it, but luckily the book also said we were to have seen it after only 1.5 miles. Even though I hadn’t watched my odometer, it was clear we’d gone much further since we entered Finland (the town, not the country, but cue jokes about being REALLY lost right about now.)

Shawn “Eagle Eye” Rounds spotted the tiny marker the second time we passed it and another set of u-turns got us into the pull-off. We had a brief argument about whether or not we could actually park in the no parking spot by the locked fence marked “State Park.” But Shawn suggested, and I think rightly so, that the pull-out was a better spot. It was clearly the right choice when we noticed the trail right next to where we finally parked.

The guide book promised that the trail was narrow and steep, but short. Turns out they weren’t kidding about the steep part. If we hadn’t come to a set of man-made stairs, I would have believed that the whole thing was just a deer trail that people had used on occasion. The trail got us out at the top of the falls.

A bit of scrambling, and we got the money shot. The best part was that the guide book was right. It was impressive as hell. The picture they shot was during a drought, so I wasn’t prepared for this:

Satisfied that the little spat of arguing and getting lost was totally worth it, we all climbed back into the car and set off for our next destination, Iona’s Beach. The reason I wanted to see this beach is because the book said that if, conditions were right, the sound of the waves hitting this unique shoreline of flat, shingle-like “pink rhyolite and felsite bedrock” makes a tinkling, bell-like sound. It’s also designated a scientific research area, which just added a whole extra level of potential awesome, I thought.

Here, the guide book out and out LIED. It said that turn off to the beach was clearly marked near mile marker 42. We zoomed past mile marker 42 because all that was well marked was a sign saying “public water access” which is a dime a dozen along the North Shore Drive. We made yet another u-turn and pulled into the lot, where more confusion set in. We parked. We looked over at a beach and a breakwall. The beach was clearly marked, “Private Property, Enter at Your Own Risk.” Hmmm, not the friendly, inviting beach the guide book suggested we’d see. Plus, it was decidedly not pink, which was supposed to be one of the more striking features of Iona’s Beach.

We looked around. There was a path leading north, and Shawn remembered reading something about a short hike to the beach. Okay, what the hell, we thought. After all, Illgen Falls seemed hard to find, but had panned out as well worth the hassle.

A short walk revealed a rather stunning beach. There was a rock formation that looked, well, fake, and Shawn suggested that it might be lava flow (which we knew from our other reading was a definite possibility along the North Shore.) This, however, still didn’t seem right. Could this be Iona’s Beach? Where were the pink rocks? The magical sound of the waves hitting rock? This was a seriously awesome beach, but I wasn’t convinced this was Iona’s.

Shawn and Mason were quite content to explore. I was, as previously mentioned, in Adventure Mode, and so was on a quest to find THE BEACH (fill in “lavender farm” or other ridiculous sounding destination.) I noticed that the path continued, and that there appeared to be a sign post at the top of the nearby cliff. I yelled that I was off to investigate. Sure enough, here, quite a distance from the pull off was the “well marked” sign indicating that just beyond was the famed Iona’s Beach.

It’s definitely weird. I’ve never seen a beach quite like it, what with gigantic dunes of perfectly flat blue, green and pink stones. But, was it worth the hassle of discovery? Iffy. When Shawn and Mason joined me, Mason enjoyed tossing the rocks back into the water, but the lake couldn’t have been more glassy and still, so there was no tinkling or magical bell-like sound to hear. But, we also explored a nearby cavern carved by the waves, which, when we tossed rocks down it, made a FANTASTIC splooshing sound. In the end, as Shawn noted later in the car, the first beach was way more interesting. Iona’s Beach seemed desolate and alien in comparison.

Our next big destination was food. When we finally stopped at a fast food joint and filled up the car at the gas station, I remarked that we’d gone approximately 100 miles in four hours. And, we skipped stopping at Flood Bay again, though very regretfully. We’re going to make that part of our annual trip, however. Unsuccessful agate hunting is much more fun for us, and, really, a bit more Mai Tai,* as it’s very relaxing.

With all the driving and side-trips, I was exhausted by the time we got home. I’ve been slowly recovering ever since. The time at the lake was very relaxing, but I need a vacation from the drive back! I don’t regret making the stops along the way, but I think it was more fun on the way up because once we got to the cabin, it was relaxation time. On the way home, we came back to unpacking, unopened mail, etc., etc.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year. We already booked our cabin for next season.

*see earlier post (part 2) for explanation.
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Do you ever watch the show “Modern Family”? We love it. It features three families, all very different, connected by blood relation. One of the families is two gay men and their adopted daughter, Lily. It’s weird, actually, how much we have in common with the gay guys. There was one episode where they were trying the “cry out” method, which Shawn and I attempted with Mason for about as long and with as much success. One of the dads kept bursting into tears, while the other complained about not wanting to always be the “teach-y dad.” That was so us – with me and Shawn being clown dad or teach-y dad at some point or another.

One of the last episodes we saw before heading up was about the entire extended family’s trip to Hawaii. The gay guys bit was about how people vacation. One of the dads was all about events and doing and Adventure, with the capital “A.” The other just wanted to sip Mai Tais by the beach and relax. This all came to a head when the adventure-loving one, Mitchell, had it in his mind to go to a lavender farm. “The biggest in the world! Five different varieties of lavender!” The other dad finally broke and said, “No. I’m not doing it. Lily and I will be at the beach.” This trip I’m kind of in lavender farm mode; Shawn is all about the Mai Tais.

So we’ve been doing a bit of both. Moose View Trail satisfied a lot of my lavender-dad-ness, as does the occasional canoe/kayak around the lake. Mason is perfectly in-between, spending a lot of his time making his own fun on the main lodge’s tiny beach front/boat landing. I’ve also spent some time sitting on the dock and reading. In fact, I finished Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES while up at Bearskin Lodge, not knowing it was a cliffhanger ending! Argh! Worse, the other books I brought I’m not entirely in the mood for, though I think I will finish up Laura Resnick’s DOPPLEGANGSTER.

While in Mai Tai mode, we saw this hen duck nosing around in the weeds by the shore very close to our dock. At first, we were very quiet, trying not to spook her. But after a while it became clear, she was totally playing us. When I brought out a bit of trail mix bar to coax her with, she came zooming up and even took it out of my hand. At one point it apparently took me too long to tear off the next bit, because she flapped her waddle-ly self up onto the dock and just grabbed it. We were quite amused by her antics and even fetched her more bread from our cabin. Shawn and I dubbed her “tourist duck” because the lodge couldn’t have entertained us more, if they’d arranged the whole experience.

I saw her trying it on with the folks down the trail earlier today. She’s got quite the racket.
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Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for twenty-odd years now, I’ve never been “up north” past the Iron Range. Well, I guess I went somewhere close to the BWCA once before with a friend from high school, because I have a very strong memory of flocks of seagulls in Grand Marais. But, like a lot of high school, that memory is utterly wiped from my mind. (Side note: if I knew you in high school, even if we were BFFs, I wouldn’t recognize you now if my life depended on it. Apparently, to make room for other things deemed more important like episodes of “Firefly,” my brain dumped high school in its entirety. Thank goodness I kept a daily diary. Of course, looking back on it is like trying to read code. Who? What? Wait, I dated _boys!?_)

Eh-hem, back to the story at hand.

As most of you already know, I will not be going to WisCON this year. Instead, we came here. Here is the Bearskin Lodge off the Gunflint Trail as you head into the BWCA. Not in the BWCA, but close. We could canoe there if we had to, but we don’t have to. You see, Shawn is not fond of the kind of camping that involves tents or bugs or sleeping bags or pooping in the woods. I will admit that while I enjoy the occasional waking-up-with-frost-on-your-hair kind of trips, there is something to be said for a hot shower and a flush toilet.

Because I don’t remember my last trip this far north, we decided to take it easy and sort of spend the day meandering toward the lodge. Shawn picked up a book called 61 GEMS ON HIGHWAY 61 by Kathryn & William Mayo at the History Center, and read to me on the long drive up 35. From it, we picked a couple of destinations. The first was Two Harbor’s Breakwall. It’s just what it purports to be – a big, old wall into the harbor that protects the docks from the waves of Lake Superior. You can walk out to the point, where there is a small, electric lighthouse. Mason was a little nervous because there’s only a railing on one side, and the lake looks like the ocean. You can only see blue-black water to the horizon line, and the day we were there it was overcast and windy. It was easy to pretend we were old sea hands coming to shore from one of the big ocean-going vessels we saw unloading at the huge docks.

The second place we stopped at was a favorite and has been earmarked for a second visit on the return home, Flood Bay. Flood Bay is supposed to be good agate hunting, but we didn’t find any -- at least not that we could easily identify. I did find the lake version of sea glass, which THE ROCK PICKER’S GUIDE TO LAKE SUPERIOR’S NORTH SHORE (by Mark Sparky Stensaas) calls fairy tears. I couldn’t really tell you what was so awesome about Flood Bay, but we spent a good hour there hanging out and combing the beach. Mason splashed about in the ice cold water of Lake Superior and chased the waves back and forth. I found a magical rock that had a hole all the way through, worn away naturally by time and water.

We got to the lodge at 5:00 pm, just in time to pack, check out the place, and make hot dogs for dinner. Staying here is less expensive per night than in the Governor’s Suite at the Concord, and we have our own private dock, a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and a fireplace (not to mention that indoor plumbing!) Because we came up at the end of the cheap season, we also got a free canoe rental with the lodge.

Bearskin Lake is huge. The lodge is at one corner of it, but Mason and I kayaked today for a good hour and didn’t even make very far on the map. What’s cool is that unlike most of the lakes we frequent, you get out for a bit and suddenly there’s no sign of human habitation. AT ALL. In fact, on our big trip today (Sunday), I accidentally freaked Mason out by noting how easy it would be to get lost and end up in Canada (you couldn’t really, not without an intentional portage or two, I believe.) At any rate, I suspect the reason he actually got worried is because landmarks are hard to come by up here. It’s just woods and more woods.

Anyway, on the drive in that first night, we saw a sign that said “Moose View Trail.” We noted that we should come back in the morning and look for moose. So, on Saturday morning, after waking up at dawn --(damn birds! I thought they were an alarm going off! Seriously!)-- and checking out the frost on the dock, we headed out. I know we’re city slickers, but we didn’t actually expect to see moose on Moose View Trail. But we thought it would be a fun short hike out to a lake. The Bearskin Lodge brochure said it also featured a “mysterious car.”

The mysterious car was cool, actually. It looks like it’s from the thirties or maybe forties, and it’s been there so long trees have grown up out of the trunk and what not. The mysterious part is that is has a rather large boulder on top of it. We thought long and hard about this, Mason postulated that perhaps the car was dumped from an airplane and a second airplane dropped the boulder. I thought it might have gone way off road, though I couldn’t come up with an even half-way plausible explanation for the boulder (space aliens?) Shawn thought the whole thing was a Rune Stone-esque prank and that a bunch of frat boys/girls carried in car parts and staged them and then dropped a big boulder on the car just to confuse and mystify people.

At the lake there was an observation platform and several moose/deer trails that lead to a swampy (or, as our lodge guy called it “moosey”) lake. Mason and I checked out the lake front, while Shawn settled in at the observation deck with her purse book (meaning, of course, the book she always has with her, in her purse.) Mason, as I have mentioned on this blog before, is easily amused in the woods. He will, as he did on Saturday, spend HOURS collecting rocks to sploosh into the lake. At one point we tossed in a bit of birch branch and used it as target practice. We left quite happy, though moose-less, sometime just before lunch. Shawn teased us though that if any moose had wanted to come along we scared them with all of our loud shouting and carrying on. We started laughing about how all the moose must be stampeding toward our cabin, freaked out by all the crazy noise those city folks made at Moose View Trail.

We were still laughing about this in the car on the drive back to the lodge when a moose came up out of the ditch. Luckily, I was not driving anywhere near speed limit; (I’m that driver you get stuck behind on all the scenic roads going ten miles under.) And, I spotted it’s massiveness in time. We stopped. It got half way into the road and stopped. We stared. S/he squinted. (Moose have notoriously bad eye-sight.) Shawn spent the entire time trying to find her camera, I kept talking nervously about how sometimes moose mistake cars for mates, and eventually the moose got bored with us and hoofed off into the underbrush. (Before, of course, Shawn could get its picture.)

We figured that was our moose view at Moose View Trail, though we decided it was fun enough just throwing rocks that we’d go back again today (Sunday). Shawn suggested that maybe if we were a bit more quiet we might actually spot moose (ho, ho.)

Except, we did. Two of them.

We came back to Moose View Trail a bit earlier today. Mason and I brought three gallon baggies full of rocks we collected around the lodge. Shawn had her book. We were ready to settle in for another morning of rock tossing and hiking. We got to the main spot, past the mysterious car again, and were half way through our second bag of rocks when I heard a splash. It was much bigger than the sound of the rocks Mason was tossing, so I looked up. Across the small lake, I saw two moose going into the water for a swim.

As the guy at the lodge said, “Moose on Moose View Trail. No way.”

lydamorehouse: (Default)
I'm writing to you from the Bearskin Lodge just off the Gunflint Trail, not far from the start of the BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area, for those non-Minnesotans who might be reading.) We've decided to extend our stay here another day, so I won't be back to blog about life, the universe, and everything until Wednesday.

Despite what you see before you, internet does not come easily here. It's a short hike to the main lodge, but I'm not planning on sitting here when I could be out there with the pristine lake, moose, and more.

See you when we get back!
lydamorehouse: (Default)
If you weren't at Uncle Hugo's at Saturday at 1:00 pm, you missed out on a rare sighting of Tate Hallaway in full, er, drag. Probably the best picture is actually up on Facebook provided by [ profile] haddayr. Maybe if you ask her really nicely, she'll post it on her LJ as well. But here is me, pre-event:

Take a good look at those heels. They're genuine f--- me pumps, clocking in at four inch heels, at least. Yes, I could stand in them.... walk, not so much, but I mostly sat at the signing -- giving everyone an awesome view of my not-unsubtantial cleavage.

The signing itself went pretty well. At this point in my career, especially with the last book in the series, I'm happy if anyone comes. I probably pulled in a dozen or more, which is okay, though nothing like a diva like me dreams of, or like I drew when it was the first novel. I guess the blush has worn off. *sigh*

It was respectable enough, apparently, for Don to invite me back in August. So ALMOST TO DIE FOR will have a signing venue. Hooray.

Other than that the weekend was pretty nice. Mother's day went well. Long ago, I decided that I was too selfish to share Mother's day, so we made up a holiday for me:
"Ima/Adoption Day" which is Dec. 5th, the day I legally adopted Mason. So yesterday was all about Shawn. She got breakfast in bed -- crepes, with homemade lemon custard and fresh strawberries -- and a booklet that Mason made in school, complete with pictures of mama's curly mop-hair. (Super-cute!) I remembered to call my own mother. Shawn called Grandma Margaret. Then for dinner, Shawn requested jambalyah (sp?) and homemade bread, which I made. It was a lot of yummy food, which is what I think Mother's day should be all about.

Friday was Mason's teacher conference day. That went well enough, too. Perhaps you will be stunned to hear this, but Mason isn't perfect. His handwriting needs work and he tends to opt for the quick and dirty solutions to English homework, (ie., where he could write a paragraph, he'll instead write something short and that barely fufills the assignment.) We're going to work on that with him, of course, but I recognize it as a problem with kids who are bright, but not necessarily what they call "high achievers," which means motivated by grades and getting teacher approval.

But, you know, if he were perfect what would we have to do, right? :-)

Hope y'all had a great weekend.

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