cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
As someone who's lived in Minnesota for over a decade, it was time. Time for tater tot hotdish, AKA tater tot casserole.



Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, minced
1 lb. ground beef
2 large cloves garlic, minced
salt
pepper
1 1/2 cans french-sliced green beans
1 can cream of celery soup (condensed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (condensed)
frozen tater tots, about 2/3rds of a bag
1-2 c. cheddar cheese, grated

Requires: skillet, 9x13 pan.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter and vegetable oil in medium skillet on stove.
3. Saute onion until lightly browned.
4. Add ground beef and minced garlic. Saute until meat is brown.
5. Spread ground beef mixture in bottom of 9x13 pan.
6. Salt and pepper to taste.
7. Layer 1 1/2 cans green beans on top of beef mixture.
8. Spread cream of mushroom and cream of celery soup on top of beans, attempting to distribute evenly.
9. Place one layer of tater tots on top.
10. Bake 50 minutes or until tater tots are browned.
11. Remove from oven. Sprinkle cheddar cheese all over tater tots. Put back in oven and bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
12. Remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Retro Future Wants Love-Themed Pulp SF. All the details plus more market news: http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
For the last part of 2016, I was posting three good things daily on Facebook. It helped my mood, and it helped me notice good things despite stress and sickness. I wanted to keep doing something like this. The plan is to post 10 good things weekly on Monday. This one is a little late. Oops!

The kids went back to kindergarten and preschool on Tuesday! This was a surprise, because my calendar had contradictory information so I was braced for a whole 'nother week of them both being home all day long. Surprise!

1. Theia was happy to go to preschool. Hopefully this means the long break has allowed her to forget that she was not wanting to go for a while.

2. I got summoned for jury duty! This has never happened before. I'm excited.

3. Cardinals in winter. Worst camouflage. Best bird-watching. The certified urban wildlife habitat beside Cassius' school bus stop has three or four pairs of cardinals living in it or nearby, so I often see them flying across the street, perching on snow-covered branches, and otherwise being photogenic.

4. Phil got me a new battery for my laptop. He used some of his Amazon reward from work to help *me* do my work. :) Now I'll have more than 10 minutes of battery life again. Such luxury!

5. I got the My Little Ponies of the Apocalypse t-shirt that I ordered as my reward for hitting a weight loss benchmark (thanks, pneumonia!). The kids think the t-shirt is of pirate ponies.
Ponies of the Apocalypse

6. I finished the final draft of my high fantasy novella, "The Unkindness of Ravens," and submitted it to Tor.com. Yay! That is the most rewritten piece I've ever created. It's about 29,000 words long, and only about 10,000 of those words are from the story I started with when I decided to do this. And there I was, thinking that all I would need to do was change the beginning and ending a bit and add a few thousand words. Ha.

7. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest contacted me out of the blue, to ask MinnSpec to spread the word about the 2017 Minnesota Writing Workshop. I enjoy reading his blog, so that was pretty cool! Also, for pity's sake people. Have a website, and put a contact form on it!

8. I went back to the gym for more than just the sauna! It's been a while because The Sickness meant I couldn't breathe well enough to exercise. Saturday I did a yoga class, and it felt great.

9. First sale of 2017--a reprint sale of an eco-horror short story to an upcoming anthology. Huzzah reprint sale!

10. I started Project: Clean All The Things. Picking up went on my Not-To-Do List while I was cramming to get "Unkindness" finished, so I promised I'd spend the first two weeks after finishing it using my regular writing time to CLEAN (and catch up on emails).
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
It's time for ... drumroll ... the annual awards eligibility post! This year I only have one thing, so it's easy. And it's a short story, so it's also easy to read!

Escape Pod published "In Their Image" in February 2016. You can read the story or download the MP3 here: http://escapepod.org/2016/02/04/ep519-in-their-image/

This is a sci-fi story about religions on alien planets and finding your purpose. It contains philosophy, fuzzy pink murderbears, and good intentions.

Readers say:
"thought-provoking"
"just that fantastic"
"... Speaker for the Dead which this reminded me strongly of, in a good way."
"What a great story about social pigeonholing. I could write stuff about how much that happens in real life, but it would come over as preachy, and one of the (other) great things about this story is that it isn't preachy. "
"Great fodder for discussion, especially among the inquisitive and open-minded."

Read it! http://escapepod.org/2016/02/04/ep519-in-their-image/

I did write a fair amount last year, but it was mostly longform and so it didn't result in many published short stories (although I've already sold 2 that will most likely be coming out in 2017). Stay tuned for posts about what I was writing last year and what's coming up next year.

(SFWA folks, Nebula Awards nominations are open until February 15th. The Hugo Award nominations are also open. You can nominate if you have/had a membership to the 2016, 2017, or 2018 Worldcons.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Scout wants near-future hard SF, pays $.08/word. More details and other updates: http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
What's your creative process?

I write fiction, both novel-length and shorter forms. The bulk of my published work is short stories. I have slightly different creative processes, depending on what I'm working on.

I write down story ideas, elements, and characters as they come to me. I tag them by what kind of thing they are (genre, subgenre, theme, character, plot element, setting, etc.) and how high potential I think they are. That way I can find specific ones again.
I always need to figure out what the (at least) two plotlines of the story are before I can begin to outline. I start with an overarching "big plot" story arc idea. Then I need to figure out at least one personal story arc. This is where I start to get ideas about the characters and gender, culture, societal roles, etc. Setting and worldbuilding usually occur organically during the research and writing process.
When I want to write a new short story, I usually look at current open calls for themed submissions, research the editor's personal tastes and the publication, and see if anything connects with an existing short story idea or an idea that occurs to me as I read the open calls.

I listen to several writing podcasts and occasionally read articles/newsletters (less so now that I don't have as much reading time). When I find a really good podcast, I save it. When I find a useful article, I keep the link on my "Shiny or Useful" page at http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/shiny.html. I plan to use short stories more as practice labs for working on some of these techniques, but I rarely do so now.

For short stories, I also figure out two more elements before I start writing. One is what thing will be useful or awesome new knowledge to other people. The other is what Big Question, if any, I want to bury deeply in the subtext.
For novels, I usually go in with a Really Big Idea and do a lot of research and snowball/spiderweb method brainstorming by hand before I start linear plotting.

I outline by hand in my notebook. The book- or story-length outline is relatively short, usually only a few pages. I outline each scene in more detail immediately before writing it. At about the 1/3-1/2 point I usually have to stop and tear the big plot apart and entirely redo it. Sometimes this involves extensive rewriting of what was already written.

After writing, I gather as many critiques as I can get and work through making revisions. Then I start submitting. I often make significant changes depending on what editorial feedback I receive or what publication I am targeting (for short stories). Some of those are only for submitting it that one time, but others will permanently change the story that I submit from that point forward, whether it is to the same editor or a different one.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Four Twin Cities authors discuss being women in science fiction and writing female protagonists, along with a brief reading!



Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1805144003095811/
Magers & Quinn event page: https://secure.magersandquinn.com//index.php?main_page=event

About the panelists:
Victorya Chase is a writer and educator living in the the Midwest where she works in medical education teaching the importance of narrative competency and understanding the various cultural and personal stories at play in the exam room. Her writing has appeared in Cemetery Dance, Lamplight, and The Unlikely Journal of Entomology. She is the author of Marta Martinez Saves the World.

Kelly Barnhill writes novels for children and short stories for adults and poetry that she whispers in the dark when no one is listening. Her first novel, The Mostly True Story of Jack, received four-starred reviews, and her second, Iron Hearted Violet, received a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Her most recent novel is The Witch’s Boy. Kelly lives on a city street in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with a field and a creek behind her house. A coyote runs by every morning at six a.m. and a heron flies over her yard just before the sun sets on slow summer evenings. Kelly is a fast runner and a steady hiker and a good camper. She also makes delicious pie. She has received grants and awards from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, Intermedia Arts, and the Loft. She has three very smart kids and one very smart husband and a dog who she believes might be one thousand years old. No one can say for sure. (The dog, incidentally, is very smart too.)

Abra Staffin-Wiebe has sold stories to publications including Jim Baen's Universe and Tor.com. She specializes in optimistic dystopian SF, modern fairy tales, cheerful horror, liquid state steampunk, dark humor, and heartwarming grotesqueries. She spent several years living abroad in India and Africa before marrying a mad scientist and settling down to live and write in Minneapolis. Discover more of her fiction at her website, http://www.aswiebe.com/, or find her on the social media site of your choice.

Lyda Morehouse writes about what gets most people in trouble: religion and politics. Her first novel Archangel Protocol, a cyberpunk hard-boiled detective novel with a romantic twist, won the 2001 Shamus for best paperback original (a mystery award given by the Private Eye Writers of America), the Barnes & Noble Maiden Voyage Award for best debut science fiction, and was nominated for the Romantic Times Critic's Choice Award. She followed up Archangel Protocol with three more books in the AngeLINK universe: Fallen Host (Roc, 2002), Messiah Node (Roc, 2003), and Apocalypse Array (Roc, 2004). Apocalypse Array made the short list for the Philip K. Dick award. She lives in Saint Paul with her partner of twenty years and their amazingly adorable son, Mason.

Welcome!

Nov. 2nd, 2016 06:15 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Hello there!
I'm Abra Staffin-Wiebe, a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I've had short stories appear at publications including Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. When not writing, I shoot photographs, collect folk tales, and wrangle two small children, three large cats, and one medium-sized mad scientist. You can find out more at my website: http://www.aswiebe.com/.

Upcoming events and appearances

4th Street Fantasy Convention
St.Louis Park, MN, June 17-19, 2016

CONvergence Convention
Bloomington, MN, June 30 - July 3, 2016

Térata Extravanganza!
Big V's Saloon, St. Paul, MN, July 24, 2016
http://www.meetup.com/MinnSpec/events/232398314/
A delightful event filled with music, art, and dark fiction!

Submit It Now! Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Short Stories
Teaching 2-day workshop at The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis
August 6th AND August 13th
Openings are limited. Register now!


MidAmeriCon II (AKA WorldCon 74)
Kansas City, MO, August 17-21, 2016

Other Places Online

Note: I don't usually post the same thing in multiple places, except for my market list updates, new publications, and other major news (writing-related or not).

http://www.aswiebe.com/ - The best place to find things I've written.

Livejournal - Here! I don't post as often on Livejournal as I used to, but I tend to keep my longer daily life posts and the important updates over here, along with the occasional photo or recipe post.

Facebook - Short updates about my life, bemused writing-related comments, as well as random links I enjoy or find useful. You know. I use it like most people do.

Twitter - Mostly SF/F and writing-related posts these days.

Goodreads - Strictly business. This is my author account on Goodreads, not the personal one that I deluge with my to-reads.

I also occasionally post on Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and Ello.

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I occasionally use this for more than just a recipe repository, I swear! Anyway, cabbage fried rice. I'm pretty happy with this recipe because both kids liked it as-is, including the extremely picky eater, and it got veggies (cabbage, carrot, onion) and protein (egg) into them. And I used the leftover lime cabbage from chicken fajitas with lime cabbage and avocado, so winner winner leftovers dinner.

Serves 3.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. uncooked rice or about 3 c. cooked
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
vegetable oil
2 c. chopped cabbage (about 1/2" squares), packed in the measuring cup
1 carrot, finely grated
1/2 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
2 eggs, beaten
salt
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp. fish sauce

Directions:

Cook rice with:
butter
salt

Meanwhile, chop, mince, beat, and measure all the things.

Heat oil over high heat in a wok or your largest pan. Add:
cabbage
carrot
onion

Stir constantly until vegetables are beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add:
garlic
ginger

Stir for another minute.

Make a well in the center of the pan by pushing rice to the sides. Lower heat. Pour eggs into center and stir eggs constantly until mostly cooked. Then stir all the contents of the pan together.

Combine in a small bowl:
soy sauce
lime juice
fish sauce

Drizzle sauce over rice and mix.

Enjoy!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Pete Sutton's Sick City Syndrome is now out! "But Abra," you may ask, "what does that have to do with you?" Well, Pete included some material from other authors in his book as part of the worldbuilding. My contribution, "Dear Miss Dilemma," is near the middle of Chapter 1. Conveniently, that is within Amazon's "Look Inside" free sample. Go, read my piece, and get a taste of the rest of the book for free!

Dear Miss Dilemma,

I've followed your column for years, but I never expected to be writing to you for help! I hope you can advise me as to what I should do. I am very worried about my nai nai. She has always been an independent and strong-willed woman, but I know she feels lost since my grandfather's death. In her grief, she has become irrational.

She denies that my grandfather's ghost exists.
Read more.



Sick City Syndrome is currently available as an ebook, with a paperback version to follow in late October.

About the book:
What if it was accepted that there really were ghosts? That mediums could actually talk to the dead. That your dearly departed continued to exist on a spiritual plane and that at certain places, or in certain people they could manifest?

Susan is living in a fog of grief after the death of her fiancé. When she is given a dossier that promises answers as to why he died she starts to investigate.

Susan is about to discover that the city is sick and things are much weirder than she ever imagined.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)


Helios Quarterly wants SF, Fantasy, and Horror about *secrets*. All the details and more publishing news here: http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html

Thoughts in Passing

Now that the kids are in school (the littlest one for only three mornings a week), I'm struggling with the eternal question: how do I budget my time? Writing is one of those things where almost every aspect of it will expand to fill up however much time you give it. The famous productivity metaphor of putting the big rock in the bucket first doesn't work as well when instead of rocks and sand you have seven fire hoses! We'll see how it goes.
What I've been up to lately, writing-wise:

Presentations and novella revisions, mostly. I also heard back about my tiny part in a project that was tabled a while ago--because they needed to pay me because it's going ahead! That was a delightful surprise, like finding $20 in your winter coat when you take it out of storage. You'll hear more about this once it's out.
Read more
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
This is a pretty basic recipe, a solid kid-pleaser (other people's kids, not mine) that's packed with vegetables. I'm writing it up because I had a recipe request and so needed to write it up anyway.

Use a 9x13 pan (no greasing needed) with tin foil. Recipe may be halved and cooked in a 9x9 pan, instead.
Pie ingredients:
1 pkg. spaghetti
vegetable oil
salt
olive oil
1 small to medium eggplant
3 Tbsp. butter
1 onion
1 pkg mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
5 eggs
1 c. cottage cheese
1 c. Parmesan, shredded
3 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 c. spaghetti sauce, separated (2 + 1)

Cheese topping ingredients:
1/4 c. Parmesan, shredded
2 c. mozzarella, grated
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
2 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, minced
Mince onion. Chop mushrooms. Mince garlic. Slice eggplant into thick rounds (about 1/3") and salt lightly.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Start salted water boiling in a large pot. When boiling, cook 1 package of spaghetti (about 8 cups prepared*) to al dente. Add a bit of olive oil to keep spaghetti from sticking together.
In your largest skillet, heat about 1/3" vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add eggplant slices and fry on each side until browned, turning every couple of minutes with tongs. When browned, remove and set on paper towels to drain.
Meanwhile, melt butter in medium skillet. Saute onions and mushrooms until reduced in size. Add garlic and keep sauteing for another minute or so. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add 2 c. spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Combine.
Take cooled fried eggplant, lightly salt, and chop into 1" squares. Maybe eat a slice or two yourself because freshly fried eggplant is delicious.
In another bowl, combine all cheese topping ingredients. If necessary, use your hands to work it together.
Take 9x13 pan. Put 1/3 of cooked spaghetti in the bottom. Sprinkle with 1/2 the mushrooms and 1/2 the eggplant chunks. Pour 1/2 of egg combination on top.
Layer another 1/3 of spaghetti on top. Sprinkle with the rest of the mushrooms and eggplant. Pour the rest of the egg combination on top.
Put the rest of the spaghetti on top. Drizzle reserved 1 c. of spaghetti sauce across the top. Cover with the cheese topping.

Put tin foil on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove tin foil. Bake for another 15-20 minutes or until done in the middle.**
Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.
* I used leftover spaghetti that had been boiled with split habanero peppers to make it slightly spicy. Regular spaghetti should be fine, though.
** The potluck version had been reheated in the oven as well, so it may have been cooked for an even longer time.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
A crust of flour tortillas and a filling of refried beans, and/or shredded rotisserie chicken and salsa. Top it off with some taco sauce and cheese.

Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 oz) can refried beans (you may not need the entire can)

  • (optional) 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

  • ½ cup salsa

  • vegetable oil

  • 8 flour tortillas, fajita or taco size

  • taco sauce (to taste)

  • 8 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese or cheddar

  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced

  • 8 Kalamata olives, sliced thin

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.

  2. Warm up beans in a small bowl in the microwave. If using chicken, combine chicken and salsa in another bowl and warm it up in the microwave.

  3. To toast the tortillas, heat oil in a skillet and fry both sides of the tortilla.

  4. Lay four of the toasted tortillas on a large baking sheet. Spread thinly with refried beans on each tortilla. Add tomatoes. Top with the salsa/chicken mixture, evenly dividing it among the four tortillas. Top with another fried tortilla.

  5. Spread a thin layer of taco sauce on the top of the top tortilla. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, evenly dividing it among the four pizzas. Sprinkle olives on top. Bake in preheated oven for 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

  6. Cut into triangles and serve immediately. Enjoy!

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Book Smugglers wants stories of gods and/or monsters, pays $.06/wd. All the details and more new markets:
http://www.aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html


cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
New market list updates! Brave Boy World anthology wants SF with trans male protagonist, pays $100. All the details and more new markets: http://aswiebe.com/writing/markets.html.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

I poke at my writer's bio and make tiny little adjustments all the time. This is the latest version, written to accompany a forthcoming article on ...drumroll... writing bios!
...
Abra Staffin-Wiebe loves dark science fiction, cheerful horror, and futuristic fairy tales. Dozens of her short stories have appeared at publications including Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Odyssey Magazine. She lives in Minneapolis, where she wrangles two small children, three large cats, and one full-sized mad scientist. In her mythical spare time, she writes, collects fairy tales, and photographs whatever stands still long enough to allow it.

This August at The Loft, Abra Staffin-Wiebe will guide writers through the process of submitting their short stories in Submit It Now! Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories. (This class is open to writers in all genres, although it focuses on science fiction and fantasy.)
...
So that's me!

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
As part of Smashwords' July Summer Sale, A Circus of Brass and Bone will be 75% off through July 12, 2016, and then 25% off through the end of July. This deal is available through Smashwords only. They offer many formats including epub and mobi (for Kindles). (You must USE THE CODE below the buy button to get the discount.)
That means that RIGHT NOW, A Circus of Brass and Bone is available for the low, low price of ONE DOLLAR.

About

It's the end of civilization, but the show must go on. When a traveling circus returns to Boston after a tour in British India, they discover that an aetheric calamity has sent a wave of death rolling across post-Civil War America, killing a third of the population and rendering basic technology dangerously unstable. In such desperate time, what use is a circus?

Reviews

"Read if: You would love to read about circus freaks, espionage, war elephant golems, intrepid female ship captains, monkeys finding true love, and the authentic smells of large cities."

- Heidi Waterhouse, Goodreads

"...the world has a texture and a past that appeals even as it appalls ... The characters have a lot of bad stuff happening to them, but they retain both agency and their moral sense. The darker scenes never devolve into hopelessness or pointless gore."
- Marissa Lingen, Novel Gazing Redux

A Circus of Brass and Bone

cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I'm an invited local pro at CONvergence, and these are the panels I'll be on this year! Tell me--what questions do you have on these topics? What concerns would you like to see addressed?

Friday, July 1

Risk of Going Nowhere
As a safety and headline driven nation, how will we explore dangerous, distant places that are inherently unsafe without losing the public will or disrespecting the lives of those who go? Panelists: Desiree Schell (mod), Sarah Prentice, Jim Tigwell, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Rebecca Watson

Westerns in Sci-Fi and Fantasy
These days, the Western is the genre equivalent of peanut butter: not often served on its own, and yet it seems to go with just about everything. Why is the Western so appealing and adaptable, and what are the best examples of great Western fusion? Panelists: William Leisner, Camille Griep, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Bradford Walker, Eric Heideman

Saturday, July 2

Diversity in Writing
"If you want more diversity, you should go out and create it." That's just part of what needs to be done to get more representation in fiction. We will discuss the importance of creation, good representation, and support. Panelists: Michi Trota, Briana Lawrence, Jessica Walsh, Mark Oshiro, Abra Staffin-Wiebe

Face Value: The Truth is Trickier Than You Thought
That thing you posted? It's not real. Why do humans keep believing false things over and over, even though it's easier than ever to check the facts? We'll discuss the history and psychology of false beliefs and how they apply to the modern digital era. Panelists: Siouxsie Wiles, Kavin Senapathy, Brianne Bilyeu, Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Stephanie Zvan
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Deep Magic is a new publication of family-friendly SF and fantasy, and they pay better than pro rates! More details and all the new writing market listings at
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)

It feels like this week has been full of socializing, although that's partly because any week where I see friends more than once feels crazy-busy!

It also feels like this week has been horrible for productivity, and that is true for a couple of reasons. Primary among them is that I have been a bit stuck in the two novels that I'm writing in parallel. Not stuck as in I-don't-know-what-to-do-next, but stuck as in I-need-to-plot-the-next-bit (side project Codename Dragon Succubus) and I-need-to-do-lots-of-research-first-and-I-don't-wanna (main project Real Name Scorpion Dance). And I've been feeling somewhat stressed and responding to it in my usual unhelpful avoidance way. Grr.

Speaking of which, notice how I'm writing a journal entry now instead of writing? Sure, my goal is to write a journal entry every week and it's been over a month since my last one, but that doesn't mean it isn't avoidance. It just means I am super-well-supplied with other things to do. Like sort through the thousand-plus emails in my inbox, which is next on my avoidance plan for the day. Oops, sorry, this is my Mother's Day Away. Make that my "Relaxation Plan." There, that sounds better.

I've started using my gym membership to the YMCA, which is going pretty well. During the week, when Cassius is in preschool, timing doesn't work out so well for me being able to go and take a full class and use whatever's left of the 2 hours of free babysitting to write, so I usually just hit the machines for a while, shower, and then edit for a half-hour before I have to pick up the kids and get on a bus to take Cassius to preschool (his preschool is in the afternoon). I do like the working out part, though, even if I wish I could make my time usage there more efficient to take advantage.

Also, annoyingly, even though we won a month of "Whole Family" membership, that doesn't mean I can get the member rate for Cassius' swim lessons. You have to register about a month in advance for that, and you have to have the child be a full member both IN ADVANCE when you register, and AT the time of the lessons. Grr. Ripoff. Still getting him lessons, though. Just not sure if family membership is going to be worth anything more than my individual membership, because it doesn't really get us anything extra.

Our poor girl kitty is slowly improving. We found out a couple of months ago that she had kidney failure, which led to near-lethal high blood pressure, which led to lethargy, refusal to eat, and one of her eyes having blood vessels rupture inside of it. She already had cataracts and so was mostly blind, but with that, she became completely blind on that side. I don't know if her sight will come back (even slightly) once the blood has all left the eye. It was totally black, filled with blood. Now I can see the rim of her iris again and there's a pale pink cloud in the center of her eye where the blood is slowly being reabsorbed. Her blood pressure is under control with 2x daily medication. And apparently cats can live with kidney failure for several years, although it's best if they eat a special diet for animals with kidney failure, and she's picky.

Lots of fun with socializing lately.

A pack of Phil's female relatives came up from Wisconsin to visit. We drove through downtown looking at all the lights that turned purple in memory of Prince. We went bra shopping at the Mall of America (so much not fun, but necessary). We ate at IKEA and they went shopping while I lounged on a couch and fiddled with edits. We went to Surly Brewery, where they were sad that they could not purchase growlers and I learned why they have so many glasses from drinking establishments they've visited on "girls weekends." Then we went to Betty Danger's Country Club (by the owner of Psycho Suzi's), enjoyed the ferris wheel tremendously, ate the delicious foods, and utterly failed in our attempt to visit her other two establishments, partly because the designated driver doesn't parallel park ... and this is the city.

Dave had a biking pub crawl birthday party where he asked the guests to be made up as "subtle" clowns. I was able to make it to the Eastlake portion of the night. Our whole family went to the Sabathani Prince block party earlier in the afternoon, where we mostly watched the kids go down bouncy house slides and bounce around in the bouncy maze. Total madhouse. Cassius also asked for a snowplow balloon animal, which was a real challenge for the balloon clown. I asked for a snake with pop eyes, which I gave to the birthday boy later. Also managed to get face paint done for the clown birthday party at the prince block party. Multitasking!

The rest of the week(ish) in brief:

May in Minneapolis means the May Day Parade. Thanks to Drew's friend Anna for letting us join the house-and-lawn party that she throws during the parade. I took many pictures.

Cassius brought home baby chicks from preschool, and we successfully kept the cats from eating them during their overnight visit. Cassius is good and gentle with chicks. Theia not so much.

Cassius lost Theia and I in the library, freaked out, and ran out of the building, only to be caught a block later. So scary. Spouse yelled at me a lot. Full story from Fb: We were at the library in Uptown. I took Theia into the bathroom to change her, and when I came back out, Cassius was GONE. Not in the kids' play area, not among the book shelves, not in the sitting area. Turns out, he didn't hear me tell him where we were going, freaked out when he didn't see us, and RAN OUT OF THE LIBRARY (after us, he thought). Thank God for the concerned stranger who came back to find me, the ones who pointed which direction he'd gone, and the ones who stopped him and helped. He made it about a block away, in the direction of his preschool (also in Uptown). Most of us have that "I lost my parents" (in the grocery store, etc.) memory. I think this is going to be the one that sticks for him.

CenterPoint repair guy actually had the part required to make our dishwasher mostly functional again. Amazing.

Thursday, I made it to Electra's graduating senior art reception, admired the art (hers was sealife-themed), and took lots of pictures that I now need to edit and watermark. Then we went to the Riverview Cafe and chatted over yummy brownies.

Friday, I went to my old friend Jason's birthday party, tasted kava for the first time, and saw it prepared ... burlesque-style. More pictures were taken. The stuff looks like off-colored, watery milk, smells like dirt with an acrid undertone, and tastes like nothing much although the aftertaste is pretty awful. The first effect is a tingling tongue. The effect it had on me seemed to be a sharpening and clarity of sight and sensation. No idea if that's how most people feel, as I had to leave then. Silly buses and their schedules.

Saturday, I was peopled out. Morning, went to the gym. Took a weightlifting/body pump group class. Afternoon, went to coffee shop, plotted/adjusted the plot for the rest of the side project (Dragon Succubus), and wrote some. Spent the night fighting with trying to figure out watermarks and custom brushes and why it wasn't working damn it. Figured it out, eventually, but still need to manage batch watermarks for things I don't edit before uploading (like May Day photos).

Today is Mother's Day. I slept in a lot. Made myself French toast. Left to go to a coffee shop until dinner, which is where I currently am. Cassius being in two preschool classes meant I got two Mother's Day presents from him! I got a shiny bead-and-button bracelet that has a whole lot of gold buttons and some red and green flower beads, and a bar of soap that he felted with sheep's wool during their field trip to Gale Woods (which he loved--he says he likes spinach now).

Oh, and also the car died in the middle of the highway and Phil had to get it fixed. So that happened.

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Abra Staffin-Wiebe

September 2017

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