Friday, December 18, 2009

Forty Three. It's a Prime.

I am in my basic makeup a huge wuss, a softie, and probably a hippy. I would do amazing things to help those in need, including accidentally spending all my Christmas money on donations, thus forcing me to MAKE Christmas gifts for my entire family since I couldn't afford it. My family doesn't know this, and will probably be surprised to read this. But December 25th, 2006 probably makes a lot more sense now. I got carried away and the Arbor Day Foundation, the Audubon Society, the North Woods Alliance, Heifer International and the Penn State research project to preserve and protect bees from Colony Collapse Disorder thank you all VERY much for being willing to give up gift cards so they could do their work.
I have since guarded very carefully against something similar occuring, but it does give me significant relief to hear someone utter the phrase "Just donate to X charity, I don't need a gift." Because helping out does my heart good and gives me a happy-high the way crack cocaine does for a Jersey addict.
You guys probably remember the call for Keyboard Cat Artwork to benefit a no-kill shelter in LA, for which I spent several hours crafting some mediocre trippy artwork. It was my hope it would be good enough to be auctioned off to help the cats out, but in the end it did its part by helping to bring attention to the whole thing and garner donations and views for the shelter. I consider that a success even if my Keyboard Cat is at the bottom of a landfill in LA as we speak. He done good.
I only this morning learned about The Penny Experiment, and immediately deemed it to be something that absolutely must succeed even if I have to get out and push by myself. (Incidentally, it was linked off the Hello Kitty Hell website, which I go to because I LIKE Hello Kitty and therefore enjoy the irony, so this is doubly awesome in a meta sort of way). The basic premise is that a penny picked up off the street could be warped in to one million meals for the homeless by use of sheer will power and creativity.
To that end, there was a call for artists, 100 of them, to create individual works of art using the number they were assigned and an image of a penny somewhere. The artwork is going to be auctioned off (or sold, I can't really tell which) to raise money for that goal.
Today is my last day at the job I've mostly enjoyed for the last 2 years, give or take. I am looking at a span of time in which I will not really be contributing to my household or society, and not helping the economy recover by being a good consumer, as I will have no money to do it with. It is a somewhat compromising place to be in, and I was thinking happily on the possibility of getting to focus on my homework, but really... not so very happily, that.
There are people who will be happy to have the stuff I make faces at on the bottom shelf of my pantry. I am warm, I am clothed and I am loved. I have my family and friends close by. And even in the midst of being jobless, I have the means to give back through my art. I volunteered to contribute some artwork to the cause and immediately had inspiration for it. There was a short time of nail-biting as I considered the possibility that they might have had a rush of people at the last minute and I'd missed a spot. But it was all wasted energy, for I received a message later telling me that I was to have spot #43, and welcome on board.
I am excited. I can't wait to help out with this, when I know for sure that it will be helping a cause out and bringing in money to help.
I may call on you guys to bid on mine, or bid on others that you like. The important thing is just to get attention for it and bring in funds. But remember that if I start showing you random art cards. Don't look at me funny when it happens. You've been warned.
Perhaps this is something I should do full time. I enjoy creating items for charity and donation. Maybe I should pick a project a month and just go all out for it. It would help curtail some of that creative energy that goes nuts if I don't make use of it. I have Mad Skillz in Weird Things (my skill tree reads like a Rorschach test), and they SHALL be utilized.
And on that note, I've just been told to leave early since it's dead. It has been real, SPX. I appreciate what you've let me do here.

"It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy. Let's go exploring."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Actual Conversation #83 - strategic use of cheese

gru: So, what do you think half a baby bel cheese will work in a martini? Just asking.
me: ....
did you put cheese in a martini?
gru: Don't be silly. I'm at work. I only wish I could put cheese in a martini here.
But..I theory. The blue cheese in the olives holds up. But is that only because they're constrained by the greater olive shell?
me: WEll, that and the fact that alcohol isn't a really good solvent against organic oils
babybel cheese would work just fine in a martini. IT would just be fucking bizarre.
gru: Okay. Well.... forget I asked it. If you see it later, forget you saw it.
me: sigh
Why did you ask me if you already tried it?
gru: Huh? I haven't tried it.
(conversation redacted to remove section about nifty feature on Google's page. Go press the "feeling lucky" button between now and New Year's. You'll see.)
me: I thought I would come home to a martini glass with a babybel cheese in the bottom of it that you were using as a tes to see what the vodka did to it.
gru: No. After spending 2 weekends, 16 hours on Monday, postponing christmas tree shopping 3 times, and several conversations in which yelling was involved at work, as well as the stress of 6 different indivudials were compounded only to have it tossed aside in a 10 second conversation with a project manager, I wanted a martini. Also, I like cheese. I figured I could multitask that one.
If it benefits science too...rock on.
me: \m/

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bento Escapades volume #4 - husband edition

A quick viewing of Bob's bento in the happy new Totoro container I got for him!

He was kind enough to take a picture of this on his new droooooooid!!! phone and send it to me.

2 pink onigiri triangles (was going to make Xmas trees but couldn't find the nori) sprinkled with black sesame seeds, 3 falafel balls, some grapes, several baby carrots, some chili cheese dip, a baby bel cheese, and a small container of soy sauce for his onigiri so it wasn't horribly bland.
The theme I was going for was Xmas.... well, got the color scheme down and the cheese is reminiscent of an ornament, but I think I can do better than this. Either way, it was fun to put together!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bento Escapades volume #4

I am seriously proud of this one, folks. This one ROCKS. It rocks so hard, when my coworker glimpsed it they were immediately made to have hunger and dashed to grab something to gnaw on, even knowing it would be horrible and unfulfilling in comparison to my super awesome bento lunch.

First off, let me show you my newest darling, The Miffy Box!
As you can see, it is a two-tiered bento box with clamps and handles and adorned with Miffy the dutch bunny rabbit. Miffy is awesome. I fully intend to enjoy the bajeebers out of this thing, because there's LOTs of room to do totally creative stuff. In this case I decided that I really wanted to make a theme of fruit; then upon seeing how much rice I accidentally made last night, I changed it and decided I would make it cherry blossoms instead.
The cool thing about this is that I have gone to great lengths to make sure I can do clever things like disguise items as fruits using leaf-shaped picks, and rice presses that'll smash perfectly good rice in to whatever shape you can find. So I broke those out and reduced 6 tomatoes to 2 sets of twin "cherries" w/two loners, 4 rice balls shaped like sakura blossoms, a cherry-shaped sauce bottle full of shoyu sauce (aka Japanese soy), and then stuck the remaining falafel balls we had on the leaf picks as well. That transformed them in to berries of a sort. I lined the whole top part with lettuce, and it looked just awesome. I can't believe how well it turned out, in fact.
The bottom layer was a cup of hummus, a stack of carrot sticks and a few clusters of grapes. A lot of fruit and veg, not a lot of fat. It's an awesome lunch. It's also a bit too big, unfortunately. I find myself unable to finish it.
This is the kind of thing I've been hoping for, to be able to make something that looks wonderful and gets you excited about eating it. I've been thinking all morning about it, in fact, and eagerly awaiting prying it open. I couldn't resist popping it open to tame a few quick shots, honestly, then reluctantly closed it back up.
Pictures of Bob's bento will be forthcoming. I didn't have a chance to download them from the camera when I took the pictures of them last night. I couldn't sleep, it was very late, and I decided I would just make some awesome lunches instead. His was a Christmas theme, so it looks very different from mine (and not what I intended at ALL, but oh well.)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Life Goes On

It would appear that I am laid off for the second time come the 18th.

In another odd twist of fate, I find that I am also without college classes until the 5th of January.

I'm really hoping I don't waste all that glorious empty time when I could be doing a million things that have backed up in my life. Also, I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't looking forward to it. This place makes me tired deep in to my bones and I need to heal. I look forward to the chance to stop being exhausted and cranky upon reaching home, commuting 86 miles every day, and listening to people bitch constantly about small things because they're afraid of the bigger ones.
Also, I will really enjoy getting to sleep a little past 6 am.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Shiny new Totoro bento box and matching chopsticks! In manly subdued colors for Bob this time. :D

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My Lunch - because you need to see these things...

...when I'm testing out mobile uploads with TEXT.

~Garlic green beans, rice and orange "beef". The smell made me drool like bonkers.~

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The Continuing Saga of Me Doing Something Else With My Life

A few quick updates -
My "Miffy Box" showed up last night. There will be pictures forthcoming and you'll know what I'm talking about. I'm a little bummed it ended up being gray and not light blue like in the picture, but I'll live I guess. *SIGH* It's adorable, and exactly what I need for lunch. Maybe too much, in fact.
Zen is still awesome, but farts a lot. We think it's the generic milkbones he's eating, so we're going to cut those back and pray for fresh air.
I'm missing all of my friends spread out all over the world right now (why IS it that they're all 50+ miles away, anyway??) and hoping I get Xmas gifts to them in time. Most worrisome contender? Japan. Yeah. It's not going to happen. *sigh*
I redid the 2 Hopeless Gaijin's color-scheme so it is now 100% less likely to ensure seizure while reading. It's now a very calming shade of green, and I'm going to leave the .xml and javascript to the pros out there.

I'm finding the film spool a bit more difficult to wind in the Diana than the Holga, and I'm not sure if it's because I'm not used to it or because the film is off the spool, but we shall see shortly enough. Having to reach that far forward for the shutter button takes getting used to, but overall I think I like the format. Mostly I love the red light that begins to glow like something out of Battlestar Galactica on the back of my flash when it's ready. Or perhaps more appropriately, like one of the turrets in Portal. Because with the white and chrome, that is exactly what it looks like.

How cool would it be if my camera came to life and starting scanning around with lasers, calling out "Hellooo? Is there anybody theeee-eerrree?" Except for where I wouldn't have a Portal gun and I would have to bitch slap it off of wherever it was sitting, only to dodge bullets as it shoots wildly, then dies....
Okay, so maybe not so awesome in that end part. But it would be awesome on YouTube.

That aside, I've been doing some research in to what can be done with Holgas, Dianas and a beautiful roll of IR film with an affixed IR filter. I think I might try to work with that next. IR film can be rather expensive, and thus far not easy to obtain. I found a few auctions on eBay with it in 120 format, but I'll have to hang tight on it for now. We've got a lot going on and I can't be shelling out $8 for a single roll of film. That's before the IR filter and the jump ring I'll need to afix it to my Holga. I'll also need to find out a time and place to do IR photography because it requires being totally still to work while you expose the frame for several seconds, and that means carting around a tripod. I still ~really~ want to try it, though.

I've begun winding down on my acquisition of bento items for the making of lunch. My one remaining problem is that there are so few "masculine" items for bento. I'm going to guess that's because men don't tend to want cute or creative things, they just want a box with their food in it, and then eat it. It's the women, and the children mostly, that drive the industry. So I think at some point Bob will have to deal with opening his lunch bag to find Cinnamoroll staring up at him with a plastic molded belly full of chicken nuggets or something for him. I really don't want him to take a hit on the macho scale, but if nothing else is clean, he may just get sent there with it. Of course,I'd have to have one first. So now it must be purchased (I was looking for an excuse anyway)
I've noted that I'm actually tending to organize lunches so they even present themselves better when being pulled out of bags, or when you open up something like our tupperware, and this amuses me. There's no reason for a lunch to look like slopped-together ugly if you have 2 extra minutes. I'm proud that it's snuck in unconsciously and started to affect how I set up even leftovers.
There's actually a few items coming aside from the "carp" Bento I'd originally snagged for him. It's very, very cute, but also very, very small. I can slip other items in there with it in separate containers but in the end... really... I'm OCD and I need to have a SET for him to eat from. It pulls the whole thing together. Thankfully, a set is coming. It has Totoro on it. And I will get a matching "girlier" set so we can have his and hers Totoro bentos. It is amazing that I can do stuff like this in the middle of a recession and speaks to my good fortune as of late, really.

Finally, and probably most important, something huge happened today. About 5 years ago I slid across a double yellow line in an ice storm. My first car I'd ever owned was totaled and I bought a new, minimalistic economy car to get me around in the world. I looked at the price tag on the loan and thought oh god, I'll never pay this off...
This morning I dumped the finally few hundred in an account and closed out the loan. The car is mine, the title is mine, and the last of my old debts are paid off officially and forever. It also means that somewhere I managed to earn and not spend 15k to pay for the car, and that's huge. Everything from here on out is me standing on my two feet moving forward. It feels indescribably awesome.

My next quest is to find an mp3 of "Unthought Known" by Pearl Jam. It seems to not be available if it isn't on iTunes. I hate iTunes for no rational reason, but have the helpful argument of not owning an iPod to use with it. It's good to have little things on the agenda for the time of being.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Just testing the mobile posting ability of my phone. This was Tsukimi Soba from the other night, except I goofed and put 2 eggs in. There was supposed to be only 1 so it looked like the night sky, but we had 4 eggs left. Both our bowls looked like Tattoine. My bad.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Actual Conversation # 82 - Proper use and harvesting of wildlife in regards to alcohol consumption.

(been a while since we had one of these!)

me:... Want burritos tonight?
Or I can make somethin' else...
gru: Sure!
me: kk
Omma nom noms...
You know I just realized something. I occasionally suffer from over-confidence.
...I do not know how to make burritos.
gru: Heh, we can look that up though
me: This is true.
And also funny.
I can make French cuisine, but burritos.... we will have to look up.
gru: To the burrito wiki!
me: That is my new favorite magical phrase.
Best phrase EVER.
gru: Thankee, I was fond of it
me: "burrito wiki"
It makes me think of unicorns and margaritas.
gru: Oooooo
What's in margaritas? Rum?
I'll just get margarita mix or something on the way home :-)
me: Yes. Clear rum.
and we need limes or lime juice.
And a blender. And ice. Get ice.
and a small downy yak
.....I might get cold from the ice.
gru: Okay, clear rum...and ice....and a yak
me: A small downy yak.
Not the big ones.
We won't use a whole yak.
gru: We could freeze wait that defeats the point
me: You can't freeze a yak, they LIVE in Tibet.
They're made of butter. That stuff just gets stiff, it doesn't freeze.
gru: Okay, so that's right out
me: Right. So...a SMALL downy yak.
gru: I'll see what they have.
And lime juice of some sort
That size
Yes, and lime juice.
Honestly, I didn't intend to have to google an image, but I'm glad we went there.
gru: It helps to illustrate the point, I find.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bento Escapades, vol. 3

Bob now has a shiny new bento box shaped like red fish, but alas the camera is missing so there is no photo of it yet. there will be, though!
as far as the continued attempts at putting together bento, here's my 3rd try... unfortunately sans any pictures of Bob's because, well, I hate taking them with my camera phone. So I only took a picture of mine. Behold:

This one was a lot of fun to pack up, and ended up using leftover soba noodles from the night before, the last of our sesame daifuku, and the last of the fresh kiwi fruit, so it was an excellent setup. Unfortunately that box is a lot smaller than it looks, and there wasn't enough for me to munch.
BUT... it was really cool to get a chance to put a bento together that was for the most part Japanese, and that even let me do the color coordination attempt on it.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Weekend Roundup

There's this odd drawing of breath that feels deeper, less pressed, less like it's being gasped between pit stops in my life. With the weight of National Novel Writing Month behind me and victory staring at me from a 5x7 certificate, it seems like the expectations are loosed and I'm free to do whatever I damned well please with the rest of my life, from here on out. Until next November, anyway.
In the light of a Monday morning the next thing I damned well please should probably be cat boxes, Christmas shopping and my homework for school. And cooking dinner and making lunches and doing all sorts of wonderful every-day boring things.
Ironically, even as I type this I find myself checking for any place where I can increase my word count by splitting words up and removing hyphens. It will be funny to see at what point that ingrained behavior drops off.

I have spent the past half hour looking up people struggling with their NaNoWriMo saga on Twitter and sending them notes of encouragement in the hopes that it spurs them on to complete the seemingly impossible. Or if not that, then at least that someone in the universe understands and feels for them even if they don't pull it off. I know the unexpected messages I got from people on Twitter offering tips, websites or encouragement were wonderful brief moments of contact. These were people that sat down in front of a blank canvas and did their damnedest to throw 50,000 words out in to the world that sort of formed a rough approximation of a story. We had a kything for the type of irritation and exhilaration that comes from it. I was more than a little surprised that Twitter came in useful this way. Occasionally social networking actually does what it sets out to do and connects people. :)

Thanksgiving was a wonder of planning and family and happiness to be home with people we'd missed and cared about. Bob and I spent it on a whirlwind 3 days of road tripping, usually with McGruntypants in the back seat trying to behave himself and not heave his doggie dinner all over the seat. He's 1 for 2 on that, btw.
Thursday, aka Thanksgiving proper, we traveled up to my Dad's and spent the afternoon there with Pat's boys, their wives, and their offspring along with Nick and Sean. The children all proceeded to swarm and play with Zen, who in proper doggy fashion played until he collapsed happily on the carpet, occasionally getting up the energy to rise again for a few pounces before lying down once more. He was even well behaved while sitting around the table, hooked to the chair by his leash. For being so good, he got turkey and peas and some biscuit.
It was good to chat with Dad and Pat, and to take a moment to set up a date in the future to go hang out (even if it's tentative). I'm hoping we get together to run around Longwood Gardens. I know he would enjoy it and I want the opportunity to take some photos with my Holga. OR... my Diana, actually! Would love to see what came of it. Maybe a shoot-off there, ooooo... that would be so much fun! Zen played with all of the kids while there and passed out, overjoyed and exhausted on the way home.
Thanksgiving at Bob's folks' house was nice. We chatted and had leftovers that were made in to patty form and then pan fried, which is something superly awesome I wish I could do with left over mashed potatoes but have never quite mastered.
Saturday was the road trip to Mom's wherein Zen politely barfed in the far corner on the towel so it was easy to clean out of the car. How he barfed food he ate 6 hours ago, I don't know, but he managed it. Talented pup.
We got to chat a bit with Mom before the Eibinettes descended and brought their dog Delilah with them. It was a fun time. Lots of food was made and we watched old home movies of Julian and his kids. Cody was his grumpy self, and I got to pet him to assure him that all the hyper younger dogs would be leaving soon.
For the record, I have discovered that Julian had hair like Neil Gaiman, and it freaked me out.
Delilah and Zen played to the point of passing out asleep near the table again, and we enjoyed waaay too much fun and conversation and food. By the time dessert showed up we were all VERY full and all smiling. It was nice to be able to connect and reconnect and meet some new faces.
Mom sent us home with a big stack of leftovers (thankfully, for we had none and had returned home twice already to a house with no food in it because we'd had Thanksgiving elsewhere... doh).
The rest of the weekend was spent with me catching up on NaNoWriMo and watching Zen systematically destroy any of his soft toys. We took a lovely long walk and talked about what was to come, and I finished my 50,000 words and then some (feeling slightly dirty that the last 5,000 were a ginormous sex scene that will probably be cut out because, well... my Mom and Dad might want to read it some day.) Celebration of this was promptly undertaken as we went to Applebees for nachos, drinks and dessert. Bob finished up a tough bit of coding at the same time, so we had our dual victory dances rockin', it was a rather splendid confluence of events.
The Diana F+ glow is on its way now, and I find myself ~wanting~ to return to the realm of Alice the clockwork girl and a world that must hide its technology to survive. I loved the story. So maybe in a month when I've hit equilibrium -or unemployment- I'll take it on again.
For having a 4 day weekend, there was remarkably little time to actually rest. I'm hoping to remedy that with Christmas coming up!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo Final Count - 11/29

My final count and official verification was this evening at 8:30 and rung up at 51,576 words.
I have surpassed the 50k word count for the month and done it a full day early, something I've never managed before. It is nothing short of hyper-actively exciting to me to have accomplished this.
Today alone I wrote 11,344 words of fiction in between 1 pm and 8:30 pm, taking a break around 6 pm to walk the dog for 45 minutes. There was a 5 minute break to make dinner after we got back from the walk. After the math was all said and done, it turned out that I wrote somewhere around 1500 words an hour, and I officially gauged myself as being able to crank out 1000 words every 30 minutes with a pause to go get water and play with the dog.
I will be printing up the certificate in the next day or two and getting another frame to put it in, and I will be proudly hanging it next to my winning certificates from 2007 and 2008. I feel immensely good right now, like I could just go out and do anything. That anything should probably be my schoolwork at this point.
Interestingly, the story has only begun. If I had to gauge I would say I've only written the first fifth or so based on story progression and what I'm trying to tell in my head. So this begs the question of whether or not I continue and edit it, or let it drop.
This is the first story I've created that I've actually felt has potential. I think I may return to it during down times to write over the next few months, and I might even edit it and make a proof from it. I didn't bother last year because I felt it was so horrible. It's very different this year.
Every year I choose something to reward myself with for being willing to forgo most social situations, physical interaction with my family and husband, and even a bit of personal hygiene to some extent. It's a way of rewarding myself for buckling down and taking on a personal goal, which I then achieve with (so far) resounding success.
This year's was the Diana F+ Glow, and Bob told me to go ahead and snag it with funds from our dual-checking account so it would arrive faster. He knows how much I've been wanting it and how excited I am about it. The man is wonderful.
It's strange to suddenly have no more self-imposed duress in the form of a goal to write. It seems like such a short time ago that I opened up a blank Word document and started to write, as well. So funny how much difference a month can make in a life. I hope I can carry this new-found wisdom with me in to the months ahead when I try to make more small changes in my life.
Hello, December. I am for you. Let's rock this.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Bento Escapades, vol. 2

Just wanted to include a shot of the latest bento attempt, put together on Tuesday. I love making these things SO much! And Bob has even officially sanctioned my new hobby of construction food art for the purpose of consumption.
Firstly, here is my latest construction for him:
There are a lot of things going on here. He has cantaloupe on skewers, kiwi fruits cut out in sakura blossom shapes, Star fruit marinated in orange juice lining the back, carrots, a cup of edamame hummus for dipping stuff in, broccoli with some nori furikake seasoning sprinkled over it, a container of Greek yogurt with honey, and a small side salad consisting of couscous, feta, pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. I was damned proud of this setup. You can see the use of my new furikake seasonings and the blue silicon cup for holding sauces (at least until I get sauce and mayo containers)

Then I made my own. And was equally proud of it:
It consists of virtually the exact same things but with a few differences. First, it's in my official Okinawan Hello Kitty bento box. Secondly, I have no broccoli or star fruit but I do have more kiwi fruit. Thirdly there is a little silicone heart-cup filled with asiago and artichoke spread for dipping the carrots in to. And finally, you can see that my cantoloupe was impaled on picks with adorable little animal heads and off to the side for the very slippery kiwi fruit I included a bunny-topped plastic pick-fork. I gave myself the same salad, and I tossed in a clementine orange to eat with everything else.
Every time I do this I am incredibly excited about it, I love how it turns out, and I think of new creative ways to work with what I've got, along with what I'd need to pull things off in the future.
Tonight I went out and purchased what are called oshibori or small cloths that are used while hot to wash ones hands before and after a meal. At some of the more authentic Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, you've probably received these. I also grabbed a few bento boxes specifically for hauling onigiri triangles around. They're so disgustingly easy to make that I decided they would be a good default lunch staple. I can't wait to make some up for Bob.
And just to confirm that I am a complete addict and do not intend at any point in the future to give up my habit, I bought a craft supplies box with lots of small boxes and drawers to store things like food picks and forks and sauce containers and cookie cutters. I'm hoping to consolidate all of it somewhere that will be easy to get to and not take up a ton of valuable shelf space.
One final thought before hitting the hay, I have discovered a website called BentoTV, which has several hundred short videos about setting up, storing, cooking and separating food for your bento. The host is the cutest person I have ever seen, and I say this with no exaggeration. Her voice and demeanor are adorable. I'm sure she capitalizes on this, in fact. It's a wonderful website, though, and I intend to go back to it for more tips and tricks on how to do this stuff.
I love creating food artz. I can't wait until I've got everything I need to set it up properly and move forward! There's something almost meditative about choosing foods based on taste, texture, health, and color... then setting that off by picking a theme or choosing a way to arrange the food that looks attractive. Those Japanese, you must love their dedication to being complicated in their simplification of things!
In the near future I am looking forward to the arrival of several new bento boxes, some furoshiki (the cloths you use to create a "bag" for the meal so its easy to carry) and a few final tools to round everything out. To the left here is Bob's new light blue furoshiki and the Hello Kitty bag I bought to contain my Hello Kitty bento box. The furoshiki is tied in a traditional manner, but looks like a huge lump because I was trying to balance tupperware, a short dish, and a weirdly shaped yogurt container. Normally it would look a lot more streamlined.
I'm exhausted. There will be more about Thanksgiving tomorrow. Adieu, world! Bon soir!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo total for 11/25

Final word count for today was 38,226. The official total was 41,667. That's right, we are less than 4,000 words away from being caught up.

I fully expect to surpass this over the holiday and probably hit 50,000 2 days early, which would be a new record for me. I'm usually waiting until 10 pm the night of to do my winning. It'll be a nice change.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FINAL NaNoWriMo total for 11/24

I hit 32,000 at midnight. So. Much. Awesome.

I'm really proud that I'm accomplishing my goals as I'm setting them. This means I will not fail to meet my goal for 50k!

For the record, I literally hit 32,000 at the end of a sentence. And this was the sentence:
"One would eventually be a crimson Masdevalia, with pointed petals reminiscent of old monster tales and vampire’s teeth."
Ii love writing. I really should do it more often.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NaNoWriMo word count for 11/24

I'm at 30,219 words currently. And damned proud of it. I'm going to see if I can finish up 32,000 before the night's done. If I hit 32,000 early, I'll shoot for 35,000. Definitely coming easier right now. Also, once again proving to be altogether too short a goal to accurately bang out the entire story. This might be one of those half-written attempts I never get back to, but I'm enjoying seeing it come to life for now.
Less than 9,900 words behind now!

NaNoWriMo word count for 11/23

Current word count is 26,946.

I have hit that "bored and trying to just get the story moving along" phase, which means a break away from my usual prose to whip up phrases like the following:

"Ashera took to arc welding with some crazy ass motherfucking abandon, and Scott did his best not to get caught coercing cat’s brains encased in a half ton of steel and the latest in computer and bio-technology to perform loop de loops. It was pretty epic."

And you know what.... that right there? THAT is pretty epic.
Why yes, we have also devolved in to utter silliness because that's what it's taking at this point. At least I'm laughing.

Official word count for today? 40,000. I'm aiming for 30,000 before bed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lomo Luv pt., uh, 9 and 3/4.

A few of you might remember that I lamented the seeming disappearance of the girliest lomography camera on the planet (of which I can't find a decent image or web page on to save my life now, so just go with me here.)
Oh wait, I stole a picture. Here. This thing:
It has reappeared on the internets. I have never been happier in my LIFE to see a giant hunk of pink plastic.

This WILL Be mine.

**edit** - Totally snagged it off eBay. Can't wait to see it in person! In 10-15 days after shipping via international air mail. *sigh* Cuz it's coming from Korea.

NaNoWriMo word count for 11/22

26,127 words and a panic-run to Wawa for an ice-cream-and-cookie sandwich, followed by some tea. But it got me to crank out 4,360 words of English, so perhaps it was not really as silly and self-indulgent as I now think it to be.
Either way, there's still a bag of Doritos at home on the counter and I swear by the unholy gods that I will decimate whoever thinks they will open it before I do. Why? Because it is writer fuel the way they have gamer fuel, which is generally acknowledged to be utter shite in the eyes of a community that loves to laugh when people try to market things to them. However, in the interest of full disclosure, yours truly DID try the Halo 3 gamer fuel and can actually recall the bizarre and somewhat astringent aftertaste the soda left in her mouth even to this day. Gamers need Mt. Dew or equally high levels of caffeine to keep their twitch-reflexes going for epic knife kills in MW2 or whatever else the cop-op kiddies are playing these days; writers need access to things that taste good but are mind-numbingly easy to consume, and usually involve sticking your hand in a bag up to the elbow to obtain so that you at least get the occasional external stimuli of a bag rustling to keep you connected with the outside world.
Which now makes me realize there is a flaw in my plan, since I'll be attempting to type while constantly reapplying Dorito-cheese dust to my fingers and potentially my laptop keyboard. This is rather uncool. I'm going to have to a damp cloth nearby while stuffing my face, I guess. Unless I want an orange keyboard.
Back to writing, though.
I have officially leapt over the halfway point and am hoping to spend the rest of this week catching up in small batches. I procrastinate, aye, and this is my biggest issue most times. But I really think that I can pull this one out, as I always do, at the last minute.
Today's official goal to shoot for is 38,333.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Greyhounds in Need of Help

It's an ugly little secret that once greyhounds are done running, they're considered to be "useless". While not so many are euthanized as they once were, they are still considered to be a nuisance at the end of their careers. Hence why there are so damned many greyhound adopting services out there, which is a damned shame.

Greyhounds make awesome pets, being big, lazy and calm. They rarely bark and have been proven to be excellent with children. With all that in mind, you would think more people would adopt them and let them grow to old age somewhere with a soft sofa and a bowl of food.

Sound like a public service announcement? That's because it is. You see, the Dairyland Greyhound race track in Kenosha, WI has decided to close its doors, putting several hundred greyhounds out in the cold. I've seen estimates of everything from 300 to 900 animals in need of help, foster homes, and people willing to adopt them.
Want to read more? Clicky you right here. Or for a bit more info on how to help out, you can check out the original Craigslist add right here.

I love greyhounds and have ever since I saw my first few rescue hounds at the PA Ren Faire, where they have a permanent booth. They're gorgeous animals and have about them a stately aura the likes of which you just don't see outside of medieval tapestries.
You don't know it, but you have wanted to have a greyhound all your life. Even if your idea of a good dog is a Pomeranian or a Doberman, you'll get along smashingly with your new adopted friend.

Don't let a business decision kill several hundred animals. Make Christmas awesome for them, too.

My deepest, most heartfelt thanks to any and all who help out, even if it's only by spreading the word.

I has a s-m-r-t b-o-o-k.

Courtesy of an uberly awesome website that was brought to my attention via the NaNoWriMo Procrastination Station, I was able to input my novel and have it review the text. Using some strange arcane dowsing it could then tell you based on several different tests it ran just how hard to read your novel was. Or rather, what level of education you would need your reader to have before they could grasp what the hell you were talking about.
On average you would want around a 6 to an 8 on the Gunning-Fox Index, wherein it suggests the education level of the individual that could read and appreciate it.(The exact definition is: "Indication of the number of years of formal education that a person requires in order to easily understand the text on the first reading.") A 5's not bad. An 11 means that you're writing for the Wall Street Journal. A 20 or more means you're a government website, although I'm thinking probably that was a joke thrown in by the author. So for the sake of finding out if my work was as simplistic as I thought it was, I tossed the portion I had with me in to the generator and let it run.
Seven seconds later it spat out a wash of numbers at me. And I was really very surprised. For you see, I rated a 10.11 on the Gunning-Fox Index. Further review showed that using something called the Flesh Kincaid Grade level, I rated an 8.42. So basically what it's saying is a really smart 8th grader could grasp this, or someone with 10 years of education.
Considering the books that I was reading when I was in 8th grade, I'm a bit astonished and I'm wondering now if I haven't over written the book a bit. Perhaps there's too much jargon and now it's too difficult to read for the average person? But at the same time I really, really wanted this to be a high concept piece, something where I fleshed out the whole world and all of its marvelous achievements, along with the sudden stop enforced on them, like humanity and its technology hit a wall at 75 miles an hour, recoiled, then realized they needed the very wall they hit to stay safe and only dared peek around it briefly to make sure the boogeyman was not on the other side. THAT is the world I want to portray. And you know... maybe I have. It's not even fully created yet, there are only 30 pages to this dream. It'll all have out in the editing and finishing anyway.

But yeah, I'm proud of my 30+ pages so far. It r SMRT. ^_^

NaNoWriMo total for 11/18

Managed to break 20k with a total of 20,672. Yeehaw!

Official total for the day was 30,000.

I do now feel like I can catch up. Got my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NaNoWriMo total for 11/17

Word count was 17,507. Going to write more tonight and try to break the 20,000 mark.
Official goal for today is 30,000. At least I'm more than halfway.

Bento Escapades, vol. # 1 -addendum.

Bob's lunch:

Composed of baby bok choy for dipping in the edamame hummus. Also for the hummus was a single whole-wheat mini pita cut in to quarters and artfully arranged. A collection of seedless green grapes and two cherry tomatoes on a sword-shaped pick (Yarrr!) finished up the main portion.
To make sure he had enough fruit there was a salad of strawberries and pineapple over which I layered three slices of star fruit/carambola that had been marinated in orange juice. To make sure he had enough dairy and protein, the green yogurt with honey was added.
I'm told it was all very awesome. I'm rather proud of this arrangement and hope to put together more like it in the near future. It was a lot of fun dropping a variety of items in there like that!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bento Escapades volume #1

Well, I tried yesterday to put together something that was bento-esque for Bob, but really it didn't come together too well. So last night I went all out and decided to make do with what I had, fashioning two bento meals. One more masculine and arranged, artfully done and with lots of very healthy things. And then there was mine. And you KNOW... you know... that I used the bento box I got from the trip to Japan. Oh yes you do.

The left side is a giant strawberry backed by two slices of carambola that I'd had resting in orange juice to keep them from oxidizing. For those not familiar with the term carambola; it's also called star fruit. The whole thing is decorated by some frisee lettuce that is also edible and I later found a way to utilize quite nicely.
The right hand side had edamame hummus with 4 cherry tomatoes and a small army of pearlini mozzarella balls.
Mom was nice enough to surprise me with a set of Hello Kitty snack bags that worked well carrying over the theme and held 2 whole wheat mini-pitas, torn in half to make 4 pieces. I also had a clementine orange that I was counting as "dessert" mostly because I forgot to grab some of my growing collection of Japanese candy to put in there.
I had originally intended to just scoop up the hummus with the pita halves and eat it that way, but I quickly realized that I would be missing out on a major opportunity. I could split open those mini pitas and load them up, and I would have four sandwiches of cute and adorable stature.
So I did it. Thusly.

Do you dig that sparkly font as much as I do? I thought it was the only way to really convey how epic the entire experience was, the dawning realization, etc.
It was cute, it was fun putting my own meal together, and I loved that it was all vegetarian and all healthy for me! I got to try star fruit, which I'd never had before, and eat a meal that was 80% vegetables.
I will post Bob's illustrious concoction later, as those were taken with the digital camera and I was too forgetful to upload them. Needless to say, I'm rather proud of all of these, and am now firmly in the camp of "people who take pictures of their lunch" as they are sometimes mocked online.
All you haters out there can bite me. This was FUN. FUN! Anything that can make preparing and eating it fun is totally worth it.
Just wait until you see my Jizo eggs and my recreation of Fushimi Inari out of carrot sticks. No. I'm not kidding. It will happen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

NaNoWriMo total for 11/16

16,576 words.

Resident Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Holy fardlin' sea dogs and shanties... this is awesome. It's amazing what fans can do when they love something so much! Ironicially I think this was actually longer than the original Dr. Horrible.
I so hope they make this canon. :D

Horrible Turn from Horrible Turn on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NaNoWriMo total for 11/15

Wordcount as of 1 AM Friday night/Saturday morning was 13,313. As of 11:20 PM tonight it was 14,316.
Going to bed when I hit 15,000. :)
(Today's "official" total is 25,000.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

My NaNoWriMo Novel Picture

There's this awesome website out on the net that will take a website or a block o' text and converts it in to a visual based on the number of times certain words are used. It had different fonts, colors and backgrounds to use and you could customize if you wanted. I thought it was an awesome idea, myself.
So awesome, that I decided to turn all 17 pages of my novel currently in existence in to one. This is what my story looks like right now:

You can click it if you wanna see more in depth. Don't worry, there are no spoilers. :)

NaNoWriMo word count for 11/13

At this moment sitting at 9,245 words. Official required word count for the day is 21,667. Quite alright, almost halfway there and gaining. I intend to cross the halfway mark when I get home this evening and throw down another 2500 words.
In order to recover I'm going to have to have a handful of 5,000 word days, but I think I can do it.

There's a special surprise coming to egg me on, and I've promised myself a Diana f+ Glow should I cross the finish line. If I don't, I'll have failed and let everyone down who was excited for me. That can't happen.
Also, I still think the story is worth writing. This one might actually be worth cleaning up and attempting to publish. I think that is what I'll do with my time unemployed, in fact.

Only 40,755 words to go.

**update -10,097 words as of 4:05 pm. Yay!**

**final update - 11,667 words as of midnight. I am now only 10,000 words behind the total for the day. It feels like I might catch up!**

Like another hole in the head...

I have really done it now. I went and got myself another hobby in the middle of the tens of hundreds I already have (we may be able to say tens of thousands at this point, actually.) You see, I am often frustrated with throwing together a lunch and having it look like sloppy muck when I reheat it. With everything going on, Bob and I are both crazy-busy, and having something organized to eat would be nice.
So I did a bit of research and quickly determined that not only could bento be adorable, but it could also satisfy that part of me that always wondered "hey, is it possible to make a lunch that is both healthy AND face-meltingly adorable?"
The answer is yes. I give you exhibit A:

Now when you look at it, your first thought is well, awesome, it's Xmas themed and that's great for the holidays. Except it isn't. It's actually just an every day thing that people in Japan do. As you get older it's a little more stately, but when you're young Japanese moms tend to go all out to decorate lunches like their favorite cartoon characters or for seasonal things. I have seen some of the most gorgeous stuff in the world that would be an utter crime to eat.
So for this reason I'm collecting multiple tiny items for the purpose of making food art that will get us excited about eating vegetarian. I will apply my great artz and mad skillz to the creation of visual feasts of animal kindness, all inside tiny tupper wear containers taken to work each day. And it will make sure we have enough, that it's healthy, and that I'm poking my former blood-sugar issue in the eye with a stick each time I get to eat something shaped like Hello Kitty.
God help us with the cute explosion that's about to occur. God help us all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Actual Conversation #81 - The importance of proper lunch sacks re:coworker interaction

me: I would like to officially retire the purple lunch bag.
It's torn on the inside and smells rather....unique.
gru: Okay, do we need a salute of some kind or just stage some sort of 'accident'
me: Stage an accident? We have a dog.
gru: Ah yes
me: *laugh*
It was a good bag, but really it's not insulating that well anymore and I worry about food warming up.
I appreciate you letting me use it.
gru: Okay, hurl it out and we'd get a new one, or you can use the other one. Since I'm driving back and forth I'm not using it. But, you deserve a clean new bag if you want.
me: I will do research.
Then we will banish the demon bag from our house.
gru: nods That sounds reasonable
(redacted for wandering off topic to Paranormal Reality and any possible innate canine abilities to thwart evil by purely being cute.)
me: *SQUEE*
gru: *laughs* It had to exist
me: Oh wait...fuck that. THIS is it:
gru: Wow, that is indeed a righteous lunch bag
me: It comes with a thermos!!
gru: Score!
me: I could drink my juice from that!
gru: Yup!! or bring soup
Honestly I just figure if it was Hello Kitty nobody would steal it, or if they did it would be pretty obvious.
But... wow. Yeah. Even at a new workplace the Mystery Machine is noticeable.
It would be known immediately if that was ill-gotten.
gru: Yup, and if it was, it could investigate its own disappearance
me: LMAO!!!!!! XD
gru: :-)

Monday, November 9, 2009

NaNoWriMo total for 11/8

6,937 words (most of that written today between 10 am and now).

Today's scheduled total - 13,333. I am over halfway to the total.

I intend to have a few 3,000 word days to make up for the gap. Tomorrow is supposed to be a 15,000 word total. Such a nice round number, I'm sorry I won't be able to reach it on schedule!

Really enjoying the story so far. The Fox Yip Hat is really doing the trick. I plop it on the head and it immediately signals to my brain that it's time to write!

I'm freepin' exhausted. Time to sleep. 43,063 words to go.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo word count for 11/3

1,667 words per day minimum to reach the goal and I am currently already 2 days behind (3,333 words). In order to be considered up to speed I would need 5,000 words by midnight tonight.

I have a good story idea. So far 2,024 words. This seems like a good start to me.

47,976 words to go.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Clearing out the attic.

A quick summary of The State of Things In My Skull:

~Zen is probably a boxer. I love this, because of all the dogs in the world, I decided I did NOT want a boxer because they are so bulky. The Universe, in typical fashion, deemed that I don't get to set such limits on my own existence. In an effort to keep me free-flowing and unjudgemental it brought Zen in to our lives. I love him dearly, pray he won't get the severe end of the ridiculous pugged noses found in the species, and don't give a damn that he is at this point. I have often thought the puppy would be my teacher concerning Buddhist principals and his mere presence in our life starts out in this tradition. Zen-sama, I welcome you and await your further wisdom.

~I didn't have a story to write for NaNoWriMo this year and was getting antsy. Redoing last year's story felt like cheating, as did laying down anything I'd thought about prior to November. For me, National Novel Writing Month was about the act of pure creation from the void, having no plans and no pre-conceived notions. Even as I acknowledged that this is what I wanted, I felt like I was possibly being too harsh on myself for thinking to redo old stories, or ones awaiting birth. It isn't like I'll sully this grand tradition by not doing it how I did before. It's only my third year of doing it, pretending there is any pattern that might be irreparably destroyed is me just fooling myself.
I get a kick out of the pure rush of coming up with something that didn't exist and that hasn't been living on borrowed brain-space for months. It feels cathartic, astringent, and generally freeing. It needs to happen, and maybe I need to taste failure this time around. I need to understand that the perfect version will NEVER be written the first time, and last year went a long way to do it. I hated the main story and loved my secondary characters. In fact, if I can ever talk myself in to making the time, I want to sit down and revisit the secondary characters. That will require an entire rewrite of the story. A second draft. And I am not flipping out about it for the first time in my life.
All that aside, I had invested quite a bit of angst and energy in to all of these thoughts without even having a story yet. I spent all last night in the Cat Hat of Inspiration (wondering if the Fox Yip Hat of Inspiration might do a better job) and nothing came to me. I sat wondering dolefully if this might be a week that went without a story idea, or if I gave up and wrote a story pre-conceived in my head, beating myself up the entire time for it. I was even dwelling on that as I drove to work today, and found myself coming to a complete stop in the middle of a residential street so a cat with a single white paw could cross in front of me safely without being hit. He was young, only 6 months, and grey with black stripes. And in that moment of watching him cross and seeing him turn back to stare at me, I got my story idea. It seems so silly to go through all of that now, but perhaps it was necessary so I could be at my wit's end when the cat crossed? Who will ever know. Either way, I intend to sit down tonight and write my 3,400 words to catch up.

~I sometimes worry that with each day I do not do zazen or yoga I am losing more and more control over my body and my mind. Some day I will be old, ill and senile and just beg the nurses to let me sit and breathe, as I could not do it properly yet...such a scene. Yeesh.

~I was ready to give up on Heroes based on the really crappy first few episodes of the season. I wanted to, almost, as there were so many good shows and my TV viewing schedule was getting ridiculous. Heroes had hurt me in the past and I wanted to just write it off once and for all as something capable of greatness that just never fully materialized.
But then we watched an episode we'd recorded, the one I was going to use as the final axe-blow to justify ignoring it forever....and god damnit, it was good! Then Bob mentioned that a recent article had said the last 2 (the 2 we'd had to DVR and hadn't seen when they broadcast) were actually very good. GRR... okay, so maybe I'll finish watching what's recorded, catch up, and go from there...

~I miss Japan. I get a wicked case of ennui any time I recognize something from there, and I want to go back really really badly. But I also want a house with a yard for Zen-dy to run in. Unless the lottery is won in the future, I don't see the two happening anywhere near one another. Perhaps I should just suck it up and sally forth. It's just that it's been bothering me a lot lately. It reminds me of how I used to feel sad about Seattle, except I've never liked in Tokyo and I barely speak or read the language. I don't know how to remedy it, and it only shows up when I see something that reminds me of the trip. Perhaps I should just travel somewhere else that's closer and switch my ennui to that where it'll be more convenient to dream of.

~We have tickets to Pax East. I am hella excited. Something about having plans again for the future that are beyond calculating when the puppy last went outside makes me feel like there will be more to life. So much for living in the moment. On the other hand, it's nice to know there'll be a tomorrow, and that this tomorrow will involve awesome video game goodness in a city that my beloved knows and that I've come to love parts of with him. I look forward to geeking out, but also to weaving a new story with him in Boston amid the places of his youth.

~I want to paint. I want to draw. I have too many projects going. 5 months until school is completed. After that I can do whatever I want with my evenings and weekends. Nothing will be clean, but everything will be creative!

~I'm craving veggie burgers. Something seems odd about that, but I don't care because they're delicious. I'm also craving spinach, bell peppers, and portabella mushrooms in a good cream sauce. Praise Italian, Indian and Chinese food for making our lives easier during the switch over to vegetarianism!

~Halloween didn't feel like Halloween. Maybe it was the road trip that ate up most of the day to NJ. Maybe it was because everything was so hectic I didn't get to really decorate anything. Maybe it was the fact that I didn't put on a costume, or get to watch my traditional scary movies this year (The original Halloween and Nightmare Before Christmas being foremost). Halloween evening felt weird. I loved handing out candies. Zen escorted me to the door and hung out as costumed kids came and went. But somehow it just didn't feel like Halloween. And now it's November 2nd, All Saint's Day has even passed, and it's another 364 days until we do this again. I am a bit depressed, but I also enjoyed what ~did~ happen in all the confusion. I just hope next year I get a chance to go all-out again. Maybe even have a Halloween party that friends attend. I think part of this year was remembering last year's fruitless Lovecraft Party. I'm still bummed even a year later. Perhaps we need to work on letting go of the past a bit more.

~Can't wait to walk with Bob around Longwood Gardens for Christmas again. Also can't wait for a few family things coming up, but very glad they'll be spread apart so we (and Zen) get a chance to relax. We probably need to have fewer things occuring in November as a family unit, though.

~The autumn has been beautiful, and I will be sad to see it give way to the grey days of pre-winter. I'm hoping we have a beautiful snow-ridden season I can recall clearly following the blaze of colors that erupted. It would be nice to have a year fully recalled and behaving appropriately like in my childhood before the global warming bullshit struck.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Proof is in the pudding...or the burgers. Or the steak...

Hoooo boy. I am so sorry that I slipped and decided to consume meat last night.

You see, every Tuesday had been "cheese steak night". I was craving some serious comfort food after my day and couldn't think of anything else. But I also knew that I just wanted the "comfort" part of the food and not the cheese steak in particular. But as I got home and grew more tired because of the puppy and having to get ready for a vet appointment (that later turned out to be scheduled for today) I found I couldn't think. It was probably low blood sugar combined with cutting caffeine out of my diet again. My brain became prune-y and didn't want to work. It was for these reasons I decided that it might be I was tired because of lack of iron and amino acids and decided to get a cheese steak. With fries, of course, and a coca cola.
Had they a vegetarian alternative I probably would have gone with that. But my mind was too far gone at that point and just wanted to relax.
Upon going to pick dinner up with the husband I was overjoyed to see that the place sold veggie burgers, something I plan to take advantage of in the future as the place has bitchin' french fries and other items. We saddled up with our meat n' cheese on a roll and went home.
Having not tasted red meat for the better part of 3 weeks meant that having meat now would allow me to really experience what I was eating from a taste and texture standpoint. So to that end I was interested in seeing how I might feel about something if I was completely conscious of it going in my mouth.
Meat is greasy, salty, and tangy. It was good for the first 2 bites, then the rest of it was sheer hunger taking over. I chawed through that thing like there was no tomorrow, then promptly decided that I was okay with not having another one for a very loooong time.
Following on the tail of this I dealt with a myriad of intestinal disturbances that had not bothered me since we'd begun the purely vegetarian diet, and I had a rather unfun evening being totally aware of what damage a simply cheesesteak with soda can do to me. I have also decided to limit my soda intake in response to this. One a month now. Maybe.
I like that I now have a good physiological reason for not consuming meat. It felt a bit wimpy of me to say "I just can't support the treatment of animals in the agro-businees complex, and I hate the idea of taking a life that could suffer before I consume it." Why don't I eat meat? Because I really hate being doubled over with stomach cramps for 20 minutes while I'm missing my favorite TV show. Also, yeah, I think I could be putting healthier stuff in my mouth than a slab of red beef.
I feel like a sellout that I couldn't just be okay with my emotions on the matter, though.

Edit -upon realizing how well such an experiment worked in convincing me NOT to consume it again, I waited a few days to rebalance and then promptly tried some McDonald's. Aversion therapy worked beautifully in this case, I no longer crave fast food and love that there's a Saladworks within driving distance. McDonald's tore me up badly and it took 2 full days to settle my stomach from it. I can't believe I downed this stuff as a kind!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Am Overcome....

So we got a puppy. Exhibit A:

He is unequivocally better than your dog. Also cuter and smarter.
And this means that I don't need to do any crazy alchemical-blood shit as previously mentioned. I'm actually quite relieved. While I was totally willing to hew a beast from unnatural magics for my husband, I had this sneaking suspicion it would've gone Cujo on us after it was out of the adorable puppy phase and started to slake it's unquenchable hell-thirst on the blood of the living. So to recap, yes, non-arcane magical puppy attainment is in the column marked "positive".
He is a sweetheart to say the least. Normally really well behaved until he has to go in his crate, then he throws a fit if he can't see us. Makes sense, as he was utterly surrounded by cats and dogs and other puppies and chickens and horses and a handful of emu in his prior incarnation as rescue hound. I imagine it's probably a welcome quiet, but he's in new surroundings and therefore downright worried about how much companionship he'll actually have. There is, after all, a void that goes along with the sudden quietness of the place.
I would like to take my slice of humble pie now and say that the people at La Mancha Animal Rescue are utterly awesome. You can tell they love the animals, and I feel bad that I was fuming over their abrupt responses to our email inquiries previously. They were abrupt because they were busy. And they were busy because they really care about these animals in their care. They had volunteers coming and going all over the place and there was no end of the work to take care of all of these animals in need of a better life. I sincerely wish I had that kind of energy to dedicate to a cause I truly believed in.

In light of the awesomeness we experienced there and how awesome the puppy turned out to be we've decided to make a yearly donation to these guys to help them continue to do the same for other families and other animals in need.

We took him home, played with him, showed him his crate, and let him rest. an hour later we took him to Petsmart, and he proceeded to make friends with the entire building. This is actually not hyperbole. I tried to walk outside to let him get some time to calm down, but it took me 12 minutes to walk 50 feet because he kept getting stopped by people with dogs, or people asking if they could pet him. He was awesome and didn't jump (part of why parents brought their children over) and only barked once when he was barked at. He's excellently socialized and friendly, and we didn't even have to do anything for him.

His name is Zen, so named because when we were adopting the little guy my spousal unit looked down at him hanging out calmly and said "Wow, he's very laid back, very zen!" It just seemed perfect. He's mostly maintained that calm, expect when faced with a barking dog or something he couldn't identify. Then he either gave as good as he got with the barking or planted himself against my calves in a show of "save me Mommy!"

When we first went to meet the puppies we'd played with a couple before he and his sibling were brought in. So far we'd seen one very cute one and 2 that really didn't want to bother with us. But then the two mystery mutts came in and we played with them for a bit. Bob had thought he might like the white one with tan ears, but upon inspection that one ran around and didn't really care for us too much. The other one, mostly brown with a white stripe up his face and across his shoulders, would walk around, then would come sit on our feet, or lean against our legs. He just looked around and calmly hung out by us while his sibling was in to ~everything~. I looked up at Bob and told him I was pretty sure that one was our dog. He came home with us 25 minutes later, and he continues to do the leg-lean trick!

It's amazing to see a creature that has utter faith that you meant well towards him even if you have just accidentally boot stamped him backing up in your own kitchen. (Not an actual incident but behavioral patterns would bear it out). He makes me want to be a transparent, honest person worthy of someone having faith in. Rolling over so we can scratch his belly also helps his case, too.

He totally falls asleep in my lap when we drive anywhere in the car. He's adorable and always happy to see us. I'm not even happy like that to see BOB all the time. It's a small wonder to behold and I feel I'll probalby be learning a lot from this wee beastie.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wag the Dog

Bob says "I would like a puppy in the house for my birthday. I'm not sure it's all going to work out, but if I must ask for something, that would be it."

If I have to kill someone for a puppy, it's happening. I've watched him get sad every time we have to delay submitting applications, or it looks like we might be rejected for some reason. We have a giant pile of toys that's been waiting, unplayed-with, for going on over a month now. It has been depressing the hell out of ME as well. Puppy toys, after all, should have owners.
If I have to draw forth dark alchemical charms and birth a necro-pup from cursed clay and the blood of my own veins and give it life with unspeakable magics, it is going to friggin' happen. I love this man, and he will get a puppy for his birthday. If I have to go to jail for stealing someone else's, he'll get one.

Then he says "Oh, and cheese fries."

That's all? Hell, we can do that too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I've been trying something over the last few days out of curiosity over how I would react to it. That is to say, I am only trying to consume one type of media at a time.

It started with a drive home where I turned OFF the radio and just watched the scenery and the play of light. One of the more fascinating drives home, honestly, as the sun was at that perfect angle and cutting through the late afternoon sky like a bronze blade, lighting up the half-assed changing leaves along the road and staining them all dark brown. I've done it for 3 days now and found that when I get home I have far more energy than I'd had in the past. I was able to cook dinner and pick up and clean up, then focus on what needed to happen next.
I then decided to stop multi-tasking with things like TV and movies (ie-knitting or tweeting or journaling). I discovered it was VERY hard to sit still, but that I enjoyed the show or movie a lot more. It was so bad that I was organizing the coffee table during commercial breaks just to get rid of the excess energy. My brain, it would seem, has been programmed over the past several months to do multiple things while seated on the couch and in the absence of it grows extremely anxious at being unable to fulfill this duty.
By night 3 I was able to sit most of the way through an hour of TV without going nuts. When I finally gave in and picked up a project I noted that I DID miss far more details in the show, and even part of what my husband was saying to me. It hadn't been quite so cut and dry up until that point, hence why I didn't think it was that big a deal. I'm of a far different mind now.
Now comes the difficult part. Do I continue with this, knowing how much it helps me focus? Do I start back up with the thought to be mindful in what I"m doing and listening to with the promise to shut it down if my brain's going mooshy? I tried it on Friday and noted I immediately tuned out, falling back in to the pattern. I'm not sure that's a good answer.
I know that the major stumbling point will be the feeling that by not multi-tasking I am somehow wasting time. At some point in the past 2 years I suddenly started caring about how much I was getting done with my time and that led to having multiple things on at once.
Instead, I think I shall teach myself that time can be made if truly necessary or wanted and I'll just throttle that urge until it shuts up. Ever since I started this I am loving how much calmer, less tired I am. My memory is getting sharper -something I was seriously worried about- and I would really far rather have that than listening to the drone of bad market news or crappy sit-coms as background noise for my homework. I like that my head feels depressurized. And to the guy who wrote "Getting Things Done", seriously. Learn the value of downtime. You're gonna die of a heart attack with a million stomach ulcers. Most of the planet found a way to put down time in to its biological do not know better than nature.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Actual Conversation #80 - Self Discovery and Vampires are explored, albeit unwillingly

me: You know, I suffer from a certain viewpoint that is incorrect about the human species.
gru: How so?
me: If they ask you something and you over-answer the question, it does not make them shut up. Instead, it opens the floor for "sharing time" where they give you information back. Information I didn't really care about, but is now handed to me because I accidentally made a friend.
Based on high school reactions, throwing too much information at someone for a simple question resulted in them looking at you funny, feeling intimidated, and leaving you alone, possibly permanently.
But in the REAL world, people think you are looking for commonality.
That was it.
I'm an ass. I just figured out what I've been doing wrong. *laughing*
gru: *chuckles at your observation*
gru: And yes, if you've seen me intereact with anyone you should know that simple, direct answers are the best way to get someone to wander away. :-)
me: Yes, but I didn't realize that's what you were doing at the time.
gru: It's not entirely intentional, but that's the general effect
me: I'd wondered.
[Redacted - conversation enters discussion about the sound of acronyms pronounced literally]
me: Remind me not to tell anyone I'm spending NOvember writing.
A coworker just tried to tell me in detail their vampire story.
gru: *laughs*
me: I was like... um... thank you but I'm supposed to write, you know, a story ~I~ thought of. I know, 'sweird, right?
They asked what plans I had for November.
I did the info dump.
And got 15 minutes of a vampire story, promises that if I wrote the story he had a friend who could push a book deal on it... (Awesome, YOU write it) and then they launched in to talking about True Blood, 30 Days of Night and the Lost Boys.
Really if it's not Garry Oldman or Bela Lugosi, I do not care.
I told him there was Lost Boys colored yarn. This distracted him and confused him long enough for me to tell him I needed to focus. at least got him off the vampire.
It was fascinating. Like... even after I said eh... vampires aren't my think, other writers could do them better, I'm on a different tangent personally....
Anyway...I love you. *laughing*
gru: I love you too. :-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

"You suck at dharma..."

I am going to be the worst Buddhist ever, and I've just come to terms with it.

That being said, I am now liberated to be a good one, because I'm not trying to decide how I SHOULD be acting as a Buddhist.

But I suspect later I will probably yell at myself because I didn't wash the sheets this weekend, then get freaked out when my husband gets intense over cleaning something RIGHT THAT VERY SECOND.

And when I learn to forgive myself for that, too, I'll probably be halfway to enlightenment.


Actual Conversation # 79 ~ Overly subtle football innuendo fails to score.

Football Announcer: "...and the player has sixteen sacks...."
Me: Sixteen? Is that healthy?
Bob: *giving 'The Eye'* Tiny thoughts, dear... tiny thoughts.
Me: So small you can't even hear them?
Bob: Don't make me turn this thing around.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nothing with Eyes...or maybe a Soul...

First off, I must say that despite my fear of zombies, we went to see the midnight showing of Zombieland and it's so awesome my face hurts from the awesomeness. You who know me know I am not given to devolving in to high-school exhortations of this degree, but that should tell you how much my mind was blown. I'm reduced to my 10th grade vocabulary to describe the epitome of amusement that I experienced last night. I command everybody who reads this to go see it at least ONCE in the movie theaters. This sort of wit and light-heartedness should be rewarded with gobs of cash handed over by the American public, and I was happy to do so. I am even smiling favorably on the popcorn husks still lodged in my gums from the popcorn crunched last night while Woody Harrelson beat the tar out of a zombie with a banjo. It just works, y'all. Just go SEE it already!
And in an amusing dichotomy we go from cannibals to the topic of vegetarians. Which is what my dear husband and I have opted to try. Again. Twice now for the two of us as a couple, and probably the 6th time in my personal life. We fall off the bandwagon shortly after I faint, something I am determined not to do this time.
I had always enjoyed vegetarianism. Interesting and healthy ways to prepare fresh greenery and grains was always fun, and I am in the bad habit of collecting recipe books for the purpose of eventually some day maybe using one or two recipes out of them. But at the same time, this already reflects a change in attitude and lifestyle. We expect to have to cook when we eat vegetarian. This means being more active in the selection of ingredients and in thinking about what we eat. It means spending less, enjoying more, and wandering around the kitchen preparing the meal. Being mindful of our time and our food, basically. It will be very hard to just order from a menu and get things that are okay for us to eat.
I like the idea of being mindful about what goes in to me. I've been feeling tired, which has led to me saying Oh let's just order something upon arriving home. What arrives is fat-laden and unhealthy.
I'm looking forward to combining things in interesting ways, instead of using vegetables as a cheese delivery device. I strive to turn everything in my everyday life in to art on some level. I've been able to produce several rather involved dishes, but not simple things that taste good. It will be nice to have a volley of meatless things to use that are quick so even when I'm tired and cranky we can have something good to eat.
I dunno why I'm going on at length about this. I just feel good about it. I feel good that it'll make me stop and pay attention to things, especially to how it tastes and how my body feels afterward. I'm proud to say I'm not light headed and haven't had a low blood sugar episode so far, but it's only really been a week. Week 3 is usually the demarcation. I look forward to that and seeing how we do this time around.
The hardest part will be giving up sushi. But maybe finding creative alternatives will be an interesting and fun little mini-game to persue. :)

Actual Conversation # 78 - where F*ing ZOMBIES interrupt a perfectly good budding philosophical discussion

gru: And, that's done and moving along
By the way, did you ever read the Garfield strips at any point?
me: I don' t remember.
I think I went over to read it but I don't remember doing it.
gru: You know the strip though, yes?
You've seen it like once?
me: Oh yeah, I used to read it every day. I used to dig it out of the newspaper after I was done delivering them.
gru: Oh okay.
Well, someone mentioned something on a podcast I checked out, and it's pretty cool. 'Garfield minus Garfield'. It's Garfield strips, with garfield photoshopped out. What's left is a surreal examination of what I can only describe as a man going totally insane.
me: LOL
I remember hearing about that.
me: I've seen one or two of those.
........and you may laugh now, becuase I didn't get it.
gru: Didn't get what?
me: What was going on. *laugh*
gru: Ahh
Eh, humor is subjective. I wouldn't laugh at that. :-)
me: I would!
It's actually more amusing because it brings up the point that without a point of reference or knowledge for the reason something persists, we tend to just stare at it like a drunken mule and go "bwhah?"
At least, that is what I did.
I also began the meticulous study of the interactions with inviso-Garfield trying to extract the ultimate in Zen cartooning.... what was NOT being said in the picture. :)
gru: I just thought it was a neat picture into someone's mind when no one was there.
btw, I just heard World War Z is in development to be made a movie. No idea what stage that means it's in.
me: *squeals and hides* Nooooooooo....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I don't remember what I've said when, and really I'm not in a place to go back and trace all my words over the last month, but there's a good chance I'm about to repeat myself. I thought I should warn you in case you see a pattern repeating itself and got concerned you were in some weird sci fi short story suddenly where the Hadron Collider magically directly impacted your life. No, friend, it is not that. It's just that I am this freakin' tired and I just want to run a constant stream of consciousness on to the page here. My thoughts, and therefore my words, tend to be circular. So we may revisit some old topics here.
My grandmother died. I know I mentioned that somewhere. I believe I even ruminated on death and how that just appears to be "it", for lack of a better word. Everything that you are just stops cold. If there's no one else around to recall that or pass it along, then that's it. Just like the end of Blade Runner, which always brings me to tears. Tears in the rain, as it were.
September has been a hell of a month. I am usually incredibly busy in September but this just took the cake for wtfscheduling. It was a combination of forethought and planning, last minute additions, and at least one "Well, this happened and we have to deal with it RIGHT NOW." Went to Maine with my now-husband (which makes it sound like I intend to have a different one in a few minutes. Funny, but not true.) for 4 days of romance and reminiscing that I'm glad we got to have. My grandmother died, so we got together as a family and put her in the ground and I watched grown men cry who have never done anything but been sarcastic the majority of their lives. We drove around to see old schools and houses, and it was fun to get a feel for the area and see everything like this. There was a thin veneer of goodbye as much as there was one of passing info along to the next generation. I did wonder in passing if my Mom was attempting to butt up against the eventual loss of information by showing us everything. I did that before with Bob, showing him my old report cards and items from kindergarten and dance outfits from past recitals. I understand that.
The house I was born in, by the way, was probably flooded out in the rains this past week, and it was fucking eerie to know and be reminded of that on the news. I had newfound concern for something weather-related. It's not my house, but I feared it would be destroyed. Silly, isn't it?
I got married, on top of everything else. It was incredibly fun, but even as I sit here I worry that I didn't spend enough time with people individually or properly thanked them all for coming. At ~some~ point this week I would like to sit down and write thank you notes to people for coming. But all that aside, the end result is that I am hitched to an awesome man -and I mean the dictionary definition of awesome, thanks much- who I love and who appears to really think highly of me in return.
I became a vegetarian. I decided to NOT cut all ties with my family because they were not, as imagined, jerks to me when I showed up in Georgia. In fact, I'm wishing to reach out to all of them, just no idea how. We both got sick and spent our first week hacking and coughing and being miserable. We decided we wanted to rearrange our lives around a puppy, the first level of scary responsibility. I may take up NaNoWriMo again in November. I may knit the hubby a sweater, which I have never done before. And all the meanwhile I'm still going to school and changing topics every 5 weeks with blinding speed. Yet I'm managing a B at this point.
In short... I am doing a LOT. I'm doing it all within a short time span. And I appear to be surviving it.
I'll keep you posted on how this all goes. Now that I've had this brain-dump to get it all sorted and in writing actual thoughts might return to me instead of reactions to things going on, and that would be nice. Leads to smiling more often.
I'm tired. I think there's more but for now... at'll do. That's what my brain wants to part with.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Caught a Lite Sneeze

I really didn't plan for any of this to happen, I must be honest. When I set out umpteen billion years ago (really, I'm that old) I thought to myself that just because there's no path doesn't mean there will always not be a path, and surely something will arise. Surely. That's what they promise in the books they sell and the music they sing and the shows they broadcast. Your life's purpose is filled with Joy and Laughter and will Just Feel Right when you hit it.
It is, my friends, utter bullshit. It is also an alarmingly popular industry to tell people they need to have a point to exist. It isn't that they don't have a point, it's that the existing pre..well...exists... the point. You already ARE. You are HERE. You are NOW. So... do something with it. If it's scratching your ass, penning an Aria or flipping someone off in traffic, you know... that is THE point. Whatever you're doing right now is pretty much what you're meant to be doing. Everything on earth and in the heavens has converged on that place in time and space and all roads have led to whatever action you take. Do whatever. There is no "right" path. There's only the path you choose to forge ahead on because it seems like the best direction to go. Become a senator, become a stripper, don't work at all and live off your parents. Whatever. It's a moment in time perpetually and it's YOURS.
Just... try your best not to hurt anybody with it, it's the best and most we can ask of and do for each other.
I have made no secret that my path doesn't exist. I have come to believe that in this life I reflect more of those around me and the location I have currently come to rest in than I have actually had personal will or means. My hobbies come and go, my interests come and go. I collect knowledge like some philatelists store bits of paper and glue in large tomes heavy with the weight of time and history. I just know stuff and remember stuff. It's what my head does best, acquiring tricks and talents and bits and bobs of knowledge for use later on. It has never NOT come in useful later on, something that to this day amuses me, but not so much as it scares me a bit. There's no path, yet I'm always prepared with skills I needed, learned years before. I sometimes wonder if predestination isn't something I should've dismissed out of hand years ago when these things happen.
All of this seems like a build up to something big and scary and momentous, and on one hand Yes. The other, No. Parts of me are well aware that I wander because I enjoy it and love the freedom to pick up and leave things as I needed to know or be known to them. This included people, to a degree, though they have proven far harder to pick back up again and forced a revision in how I act towards them. They aren't resources like books, you see, to be re-checked out of the library. People remember when you disappear for 3 years and are shocked when you're suddenly happy to see them again. It's hard to explain, and I'm fairly sure few will understand that it was a Big Stupid Misunderstanding on my part.
An outgrowth of this free-flowing form was that I dropped my degree as easily as some people set down the jar of mayonnaise they decide not to buy at the supermarket. I couldn't deal with it, didn't like it anymore, and learned everything I thought I could from it and moved on. Per usual, the true lessons of the time made themselves known later and had nothing to do with the schooling itself.
See...I got married. And it was beautiful and joyous and happy and I have never been so certain that I wanted to stay with another person in my life. Everyone has agreed that it's an excellent match, and I am grateful to have found another human being that can keep up with me tit for tat and give as well as he gets. I'm not a religious person, so it carries weight when I say that I am blessed to be with my husband and share a life with him. There is a level of intimacy that I haven't experience with another human being since I physically separated from my mother's body at birth and something that was, until I met him and was willing to open myself up to him, incomprehensible to me. I was me. The rest of the world was there to be experimented with and learned from then on to the next thing. Rinse, repeat.
Except that somewhere in the last few months something that might be called a miracle happened. I stopped. I slowed down. I held out my hand when he held out his and agreed to stop in this time and place and just be. Be happy. Be safe. Be friends and lovers and philosophers together. I was resistant to the idea, thinking of the freedoms I loved, the ability to just drift off to something different and test drive life there. But not this time. This time he was there and I realized I wanted to come to rest. And in his arms, next to his heart, was the best place I could conceive of.
What I didn't know in my wanderlust was that I had a great overview of many things, but a depth of knowledge in none of them. The longer I stay the more I see that it isn't really giving up one thing for another, just adjusting how I intercept my data, run my experiments, gather my knowledge. You see, despite what many women grumble about with men making them settle down, I didn't. I asked him if I could stop and be with him, and he agreed. We talked, realized it would be a nice thing to start drifting more slowly, together, and tied the knot.
I could go on about the kind of person it would take to bring me to a screeching halt, considering the normal life of a house, a dog and kids. These thoughts weren't even a part of my life until I met him. It's scary, but the "what if??"s are having a field day and I still enjoy the thrill of future-prospecting in my spare time. Me as a mother. Me as a homeowner. Me as an equal partner with a man that challenges me and makes things fun. Uncertainty is a nice bedfellow and I am enjoying it even as it makes me stumble in doubt. Seeing a general outline of a plan has given me pause for once.
That being said, I am very happy to be where I'm at. Overjoyed, in fact. I had no way of knowing I would be here when I first started to wander in my teenagedom. And even as I rest here I know that what appears to be permanent is not. Small things will shift, move, disappear, reappear and just bugger off entirely. Right now, though, it's wonderful to be a part of something that relies on me for gestalt, but could get along without me.
As an aside my first weekend spent with my husband was done in bed, but for less than salacious reasons. We were both very sick and spent most of it sleeping near each other, hobbling about and getting each other tea or theraflu or hot foods to try and make ourselves feel better. If the Universe is listening, we do not need to stress-test the rest of the vows, we're good here. Thanks.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's in a name?

Hard to believe I'll be married in 4 days. Never have I been so happy to get rid of a collection of letters in exchange for others. Learning to write my new name should be interesting.
The part of me that's a feminist wants to rail about changing my last name. Why should I just because it's traditional?? that part of my mind thinks. Are you his property? Is his name better?? Why are you just going along with the flow on this when you fought against every other wedded and married convention just to DO this whole act?
And I sit back, completely at east, and smile. Why? Because I did it once before while trying to go through the whole juggernaut of the wedding industry, holding on to tradition, and I'm stuck with the awful moniker that I have to look at every day.
My new last name will be beautiful and lilting. It'll hint at Europe, take up the beat and phrasing of my first name, and rolls off the tongue in a friendly dual-syllabic song. It announces itself sharply, then trails off in to softness. I'd like to think it's indicative of my life as a whole. It will replace the stentorian mono-syllable bark that is my current last name, and good riddance.
It is with that thought that I tell my inner femininst to sit down and shut up. You see, blindly following a tradition is stupid. Knowing that it's there, knowing that you have the ability to NOT follow it, but are choosing to, completely negates anything negative that might cling to it. I want his name because I love him and it's the single best way I can show I truly want to be one with him.

I could write an entire other post on the funeral I attended last Friday. About family coming together, and seeing things I've never seen before. Also about the nature of assumptions and the refusal to follow the teachings about change in all things. It'll probably never get entered, since so much is going on this week, but I wanted to mention it, in case it triggers my brain at some point. I've made a mistake and I have no idea how to fix it, but it'll have to be done for a lot of people.

I think that's enough for now.