cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Various things have me thinking about how friendships attenuate and renew. Time spent in proximity is so critical, although other forms of communication--letters, social media, phone calls--can keep the thread from breaking. Some relationships can lay fallow indefinitely but spring back up with only a little watering, with people like old school friends or family that lives far away. I'm pretty lousy at phone calls and letters, and very small children plus Phil's often-into-the-evening work schedule has made it difficult to socialize at times. I'm working on it, but it's definitely a work-in-progress, and there are so many other things on the to-do list!

Last weekend, we had a chance to see a friend who moved out of town a few years ago, back to celebrate !finally! selling his house. It was good to see him, but it was definitely in passing, and his spouse couldn't make it--miss you, Gen!

From there I went straight to a baby shower filled with awesome people, including those I know but don't see "as often as" and those who I'm pretty sure are awesome but whom I am unlikely to get to know much better, because, well, life. There were awesome squiddy things, though!

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Then we were sick, beginning with Cassius and moving on to me and Theia, and finding Phil just in time for him to infect others on Monday. So--not so much going out of the house to see others this weekend! With the respiratory infection that's making so many kids sick right now, I've also been keeping the kids home from church (One of those places that people just *go anyway* when their kid is sick!), storytime at the library (Drool on *all* the toys!), and Wee Wednesday at the Midtown Global Market (Um--people. Yes. There are people there.). So they've kind of been isolated, too.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
I am not a big fan of the heat, as the latest 85+ degree Minnesota "heat wave" shows. Tooo hot.

Cassius' 3-year doctor appointment was this week. He's exactly 1 meter tall and weighs just under 30 lbs. This puts him in the bottom 1% for BMI, which makes us very concerned parents. Not much we can do that we aren't already, though. It's just--I desperately want to fatten him up. The doc also recommended getting him assessed for verbal problems (enunciation, basically--his vocabulary is fine) and for pronation in his feet. No shots this year! Still waiting to hear back about test results. In general, however, it was a cranky-making doctor's visit.

Oh, and I got back the results from the parapertussis test: negative. So no, I no longer have an active infection, but I'm still coughing and dealing with symptoms, and I may continue to do so for another two months. Grr.

Here, have a random water droplet photo. Waterfowl feathers are neat.
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I got to game again! It's been so long, I had to hunt around to find my dice. But I found them. Except for my D4s, which Phil had stolen. And I got to go out for a few hours and play a Deadlands one-shot. It was a lot of fun, although my character was a mad scientist with an impulse control problem that made it difficult for me not to "accidentally" kill all the other party members. Le sigh. And I had to leave a bit early, because I'd been there from 1:30 PM to 6:00 PM, and I really couldn't stay away from Theia any longer.

We got important house stuff worked on! My plan was to paint the back hallway, which is lead paint that has chipped slightly and is generally in need of remediation paint before I will feel comfortable with my kids walking on the stairs in that area again. I got as far as cleaning everything for the painting, and then while I was out at a movie with Electra, Phil taped up all the things that needed taping and got 3/4s of the first coat done. So awesome! He also said that painting there was basically hot-boxing yourself.I'm not allowed to do it, because I'm still breast-feeding and so what I get, the baby gets. Progress is great. Progress made by not-me while I was out seeing a movie? Even better!

Good read: The Girl With All the Gifts.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
We weren't sure if we would be able to drive home from my family reunion in Michigan in one day, but we were! Theia slept miraculous amounts. This is very good, since it meant Phil was able to sleep in his own bed for one night before he had to turn around and catch a plane to San Diego for work. Which he did. He got home around 1 AM Friday night/Saturday morning. So I've been single-parenting it this week.
Despite this, I did manage to get out of the house a little. I took the kids to Wee Wednesday at the Midtown Global Market. It happened to be the Como Zoo week, so there was a very excellent storyteller there, and she performed a kids story, supervised a craft, and then brought out the (not poisonous) poison dart frogs, the (no, really, not poisonous) snake, and the (it might bite your finger off) parrot. I also learned that the Produce Exchange there has all the non-dairy substitutes. This is good to know.

That evening, I arranged a little babysitting from my sadly neglected church "parenting partner" and bused out to the U of M to see a Fringe show. So I achieved my "collect Fringe button" goal for the year! Some year, I may actually manage to see more than 1 show. I do not think this will be that year. I saw "Jumpin' Jack Kerouac," a show with a choreographer reading essay answers from writers, and writers dancing to the choreographer's music. It hit the level of "professionally awesome" only a couple of times; mostly it was sweet and occasionally funny, and much less about writing than you might expect.

In the bad news division, we learned that no, the bank won't refinance or otherwise do a home loan for us to deal with the balloon payment due on our second mortgage this fall. Used to be, they just extended the terms. Now, since they don't do that kind of loan anymore, they don't. Yes, it took us five months to get that answer, due to the blatant inexperience and disorganization of the banker we dealt with. Yes, I have a much longer rant about that that I am not going into. Financially, this is going to suck a lot. We are probably going to have to take out a loan against our 401K to pay this. The bank does have a personal loan option, but the percentage charged would be very high and painful and adjustable. So no thank you.

Also got a response from one of the new super-pro magazines saying that my story was shortlisted . . . but they're having funding issues and don't know if/when they will proceed with the publication launch. I could really use those couple thousand dollars about now. Le sigh. Ah, well, I'll wait a few months to see what happens next.

In more entertaining news, Theia has learned to clap her hands. So adorable! And she is taking very well to oatmeal cereal mixed with mother's milk. Blended steak, on the other hand, she thinks is yucky. And she makes whiskey face every time she gets apple or pear. Which is also entertaining, if not so useful in getting her full of food.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
As I am writing this, it's very weird to realize that today is only Friday. 4th of July, yes, but Friday! I've been existing in the weirdly timeless dimension of sick for the last week. Phil has been home for much of it, which hasn't helped (with the disorientation--it's helped a *lot* with keeping the household running!). Last week, both kids got sick with congestion, coughing, and fevers. Last week Friday, I started to feel sick. Over the weekend, I got all the congestion, coughing, and fever. I was so wobbly and lightheaded that I put Phil in charge of carrying the baby up and down the stairs and even--when I felt particularly bad--of moving her from the playmat to my arms to nurse.

Theia's church dedication was on Sunday, so Phil took her to church and I stayed home sick with Cassius. This was probably a very good thing, as it turned out, since Cassius and I were the most sick and probably most contagious at this point. She looked adorable in her little satiny white dress with red flowers; that's all I know.

My fever went away on Monday, but Phil still stayed home to help and because I'd made a doctor's appointment for Cassius. You see, even before this latest bout of sickness, he had a minor but persistent cough that wouldn't go away. He'd had it for three weeks, which seemed a bit long. We talked to the nurse practitioner. They took swabs for various tests. They used the water pic to clean earwax out of his ears so they could make sure he didn't have an ear infection (since he'd complained of ear pain the previous day). She said that perhaps he had seasonal allergies, we should try medication for that and see if it cleared things up.

Tuesday, Phil went back to work. I managed okay with the kids, but I was exhausted and so slept as long as the kids did during naptime, which was a really long time that day (we were all sick). That's how I came to miss the nurse practitioner's urgent attempt to call me with Cassius' test results. He tested positive for parapertussis, which is like whooping cough junior. It's less likely to kill you or cause severe complications. It's also not vaccinated against (see: less likely to kill you). So I called the triage nurse on the night shift, and she referred me to the doctor on call, and the doctor sent in a prescription for antibiotics for both kids and told me to get the adults in the family to a doctor so that we could get treated too. So that's what we did the next day.

We are all highly contagious until we've taken five days of antibiotics. So certain things had to happen--or not happen. Phil called in sick to work through next Monday. We're avoiding social events. We had to cancel our annual 4th of July party for the first time in, um, well, since before we were married. Phil was very sad. I'm pretty glad that I wasn't planning on going to CONvergence, anyway. Parapertussis would be a nasty addition to the con-crud mix that usually brews at these large events.

So instead of a 4th of July party, we had a back yard picnic (Cassius corrected Phil when he called it a party). Just family, hanging out in the back yard for most of the day. Everybody came indoors for naptime, though. Cassius ran around in his red-and-blue plaid shorts and his caped Superman shirt, eating all the raspberries, swinging in the hammock, and generally having a great time. Phil grilled and posted links and analysis of his favorite heavy metal music of the year (his "ponies"). Theia crawled off the blanket we put her on a lot and generally required a whole lot of attention, but she appeared to be enjoying herself just fine. I ate and lounged in the hammock with Theia and watched House on my tablet and generally was kept rather busy by my offspring.

On top of all this, in a feat of rare and remarkable clumsiness, I managed to trip over a stool and fall in such a way as to sprain my ankle and bruise my knees badly, right on top of the scar tissue from my knee surgeries. Ouch. Ouch ouch ouch. Moving my ankle hurts. Going up and down stairs hurts. I am extra sad that I can't take ibuprofen because all the brands have lactose and Theia's allergic to it.

Other (better!) things have happened since my last diary update, too.
* I had a 4th Street (Fantasy Convention), about which there will be another few posts.
* I finished a short story that became unusually long! "You May Also Like Gas Masks" is over 12,000 words. Yikes.
* I finally figured out the part that makes my next notebook story work. Turns out the problem wasn't the mystery or the A.I. part, it was that I needed to figure out the character's spine: grief.
* I emailed a pro-paying magazine editor to ask for a different, less rights-grabby contract--and got it. Like a pro, oh yeah.
* Cassius is having nightmares on a regular basis. I feel so bad for him. He's also become very focused on figuring out when things (people, monsters, cars, etc.) are "bad."
* Theia has mastered an army crawl that gets her across the room in much less time than you might think.
* Phil has finished selecting what he thinks is the best music of the year for a Ponies disc . . . or two.
* I've been experimenting with an easy, delicious microwave (vegan!) fudge recipe. I am happy to continue experiments, I just need an unlimited supply of coconut cream, cocoa, and powdered sugar.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
This weekend (for a fairly flexible definition of weekend that stretches from Thursday night through early Monday morning) we attended 4th Street Fantasy Convention 2012 en famille.

4th Street is single-track programming, so there are a whole bunch of panels in a row with breaks in-between. It's not quite like, say, CONvergence, where there are a ton of things going on at once and you sort of pick and choose whether you want to go to a panel or watch a movie or go to a craft room or play games and then you take a nap at some point and circle around all the themed parties in the evening. 4th Street is all about the panels, and attendees are at least 80% writer-related: editors, reviewers, professional writers, and aspiring writers.

This year, Phil and the baby also went to the hotel and we got a room. During panels AKA all day long, Phil took care of the baby. I would sneak back during breaks to feed the baby, and I had my tablet with me so that Phil could email me updates like, "Baby asleep. Do not come back to the room and risk waking him up," and "Baby awake and fussing. Will hold the fort until the break," and "Oh God. Baby super-pooped. We may need a new room." I would feed baby at the beginning and the end of the meal breaks, and go out to dine with people in the middle. In the evenings, sometimes I wandered out to socialize on my own (this may seem like a contradiction, but it is a sadly accurate reflection of the way I socialize in large groups--I am more of a drifter than a joiner), sometimes I took care of the baby in the hotel room so Phil could have a break, and sometimes I wandered out to socialize and took the baby with me. It was a good dry run for WorldCon, and I'm feeling more confident about doing these things with Phil and baby in tow.

I had a good 4th Street. The panels sparked shiny thoughts. I have more story ideas to add to the list. I have new aspects of the writing craft to explore. I talked to some people, if not as many people as I would have liked. There were things different from previous years, and some of them were good, and some of them were not so much. I did not (I hope) say anything to an editor that will forever blight my writing career. (Phil: "Because you didn't talk to them. Cojones mas pequeño.")

Enjoyable things to remember:

* Seeing Mary Robinette Kowal give her introduction in both "the phone sex voice" and "the gnome voice." Yes, that is what the next two pictures are of.

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* Ellen Klages auctioning things off with the authority vested in her by the finger-tentacles.

* Delicious frosted sugar cookies shaped like computers and books and cauldrons and dragons and swords and Minnesota.

* Mary Robinette Kowal, puppeteer extraordinaire, manipulating a shoe that seemed to have a complex relationship with Scott Lynch (to illustrate a point regarding body language and movement in the writer's workshop). "What did you say?"

* Seeing Cassius meet Connor, who is about four months older. Cassius: "It is a person my size! I must follow him! Mama, let me hold your fingers so I can walk after him!" Babies do not understand the idea of personal space. Cassius stalked Connor the entire time. I did have to explain that we do not strangle other babies upon first meeting them, however. (If you think about it, when reaching out to another person, the neck is a convenient place to grab!)

* Getting photographs of people sitting in the seats lit by spotlights. I usually have a camera with me, but at 4th Street I swap that out for a writing notebook, and it has always felt strange to attend such an enjoyable event and end up with no pictures! This year I have pictures. On the other hand, wanting to take pictures did slightly distract me from musing on writingy things, so I think it is not a thing that I should plan on doing for more than a couple of panels. But I am happy I did it. Even if I did forget the low-light telephoto lens I wanted to use (grr).

* Trying dim sum for the first time! I had always supposed it was another type of Chinese food, instead of a serving method for trying lots of different types of Chinese food. Variety-seeker that I am, I liked it very much.

* Sitting on the edge of the pool with Cassius and watching him kick his feet furiously to make the water go splash.

* Discovering that Phil left our front door at home unlocked and open for a couple of days while we were at the hotel, but nothing bad happened because of it! We also forgot to take the trash out when we left (Would-be burglar: "Ugh! What's that smell? Is there a dead body in there?"). The cats enjoyed spending time in our covered front porch (WBB: "Those cats look really well-fed. They've been eating the dead body! I'm outta here!").

* Boggling at the variety of options at the buffet that ate three other buffets (Golden Moon something-or-other?) and trying new foods like snails (They were crunchy! What?!) and frog (pretty tasty).

* Seeing Janet Grouchy in the auctioned-off golden-cream shawl that the 4th Street attendees as a whole bought for her.

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* Sipping scotch and learning that (you guessed it) MRK has somehow gotten John Scalzi to agree to wearing a regency dress (possibly with bonnet) at WorldCon if certain fundraising conditions are met. There was also talk of Scalzi and Cory Doctorow doing a Rocky Horror Picture Show dress-up. This was when Phil came out to get me because the baby had woken up fussy (did I mention he was teething?) and needed Mama. Phil took the scotch; I took the baby. Phil may have gotten the better end of that bargain....

* Hearing "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" (okay, but why is everyone acting like they're in agony?) and then seeing the video (brain processing overload! does not compute!).




(All my 2012 4th Street posts, of which this is the first.)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Congratulations, Hannah and Aaron Barnett! I went to this wedding planning on taking a few photographs--and ended up taking a whole lot, at the request of the bride's mother.

Photography notes: I got to try out my new 85mm 1.8 lens, which I bought specifically so I would have a fast lens that I could use in low light and weird lighting situations, like reception halls. Conclusion: it does what I bought it for. I brought my standard zoom lens along, thinking I would switch between them. I tried switching to my zoom, taking a couple of shots--and I promptly put the 1.8 lens back on and used it exclusively for the rest of the night. I'm happy with it. I think I got some great shots. Getting used to the telephoto effect takes a little time, and I have to remember to really pay close attention to where the focus is because it has such a shallow depth of field. But I like it, I'm happy I have it, and I'll definitely use it again!

Highlights:

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Read more... )

The full set of photos is here.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (spacecat)
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This is one of my favorites from the non-baby photos that I've taken recently. It's all about the textures and the shadows. Taken at [livejournal.com profile] birdfigment's muppet-themed party--she was Super-Grover.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (self-evolving system)
The weekend does not seem to have been very weekend-like.

I got a work project dropped off on my doorstep late Friday afternoon, so I've spent a fair chunk of the weekend working on that (as they wanted it back Monday). Work is good, money is good, it's not too many hours, but I wish I didn't have to do it on the weekend.

Saturday we had the hospital's "All About Babies" class, and while it didn't cover absolutely everything, it did seem to cover the important stuff. I took about three pages of longhand notes in addition to the handouts they gave us. Though I was a bit annoyed by the "women already know all this stuff because they all love babies and talk about it with their girlfriends all the time, but men don't have that innate knowledge" approach of the guy who stopped in to push the just-for-men baby class. For one thing, Phil apparently talks about child-rearing with his coworkers way more than I ever have with anybody. For another, I wish I could get into that class, but I lack the external genitalia. Ah well.

Then we went to the newly open Taste of Asia Restaurant (or was that Fresh Taste of Asia?) on Nicollet, near Market BBQ, and I had one of the more confusing dining experiences of recent experience. I left unsure if this was a very good restaurant, or a not-so-good restaurant. Let me explain. The decor, the ambiance, is fantastic. They did a great job with the space. The staff are excellent, very attentive, very friendly, clearly eager to please since they are just opening the restaurant. The menu is like 10 pages long--ridiculously ambitious. The prices are moderate, comparable to any hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant. The portions will feed you for 3 meals. The cook really knows what he's doing--all the ingredients are of very high quality and cooked to perfection in a way that I haven't encountered outside of white-tablecloth dining. The thick Chinese-style eggrolls were crispy and not heavy or leathery--something hitherto untasted. The cream cheese wontons were light and crispy and delicious. The noodles were cooked to exactly the right texture, and the vegetables were fork-tender. This is not your gloppy takeout Chinese food. But! The flavoring and sauces are so light as to be non-existent. There wasn't that complexity of flavor. The things we ordered spicy really, really weren't. Clearly they do not have the crack sauce that, for example, the Red Dragon--though in every other respect the food was vastly superior. All they need is for someone to go in and tweak their recipes a bit to make them more flavorful. We were both conflicted as to whether it was a good restaurant, or a bad restaurant. Definitely worth going back to try the sushi (which is more dependent on quality of ingredients and preparation than saucing or seasoning) and the hibachi. By the end of the visit, I was rooting for them to be a good restaurant, to become successful--I just don't know if they are/will.

[livejournal.com profile] sinister_dr_x had his movie day on Saturday as well. We missed the movie I'd wanted to see because of a scheduling mix-up. Can we say I never react well to my plans being disturbed for any reason? Apparently my "attempting to not be irrational and fussy" is not actually the same thing as "not being irrational and fussy." Ah, well. I'll give myself points for the attempt. But it was great watching Faster and Predators in air-conditioning with friends, so it was all good, even if I did have to leave to go back to work on my work project.

Today was more work and some trying to get other stuff done.

Oh, and Phil trimmed my hair today, which took all of three minutes. Three cheers for hair-cutting scissors and long hair! Totally easy to have the husband cut four inches off (at the longest point--probably about two at the shortest) in a straight line.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode 12


New words: about 400
Total words: 75,207
Overused word: savaged
Gratuitous Freudian slip: lifting chests
Type of scene: the impetus
Challenge(s): Getting any writing done at all. Though truly, I think a lot of the problem was that I was hung up on one scene. Once I got past that, it got better.
Which line is it anyways?She smiled noncommittally and dutifully returned her attention to her bowl of mush, which seemed unlikely to do anything improper or even remotely interesting.
Researched: Zoos, the feeding habits of large cats, yoga, and the feeding habits of 1870s American travelers.
Notes: I just need to get a little transition in there, do the horrifying thing, and then the episode will (finally!) be done!
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log.
* Submitted “Missing You In Pieces” to Pedestal Magazine. Somewhat concerned about the copy-and-paste format into the form.
* Submitted “Warmth in the Cold Time” to Moonlight Tuber.
* Did a Critters critique--time for me to get active there again.
* Submitted “Demons of Disease” to Raygun Revival. Three cheers for another online submission form! And dayumn but do they ever have detailed story format guidelines.
* Read WritersWeekly newsletter.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (candy)
Right. Now that I've finished up the work-from-home projects that have kept me busy for the last month (though there are more on the horizon), I may actually get some other stuff done. So what have I been up to lately (aside from being in the last month of pregnancy, which is a Thing in and of itself)?

Cleaning! There was a lot of cleaning up for the 4th of July Party, and a lot of cleaning after...for values of "a lot" that are less than previous years but significantly more than was getting done without party-motivation. Phil has figured out that he needs to take the lead on some of the to-do-type items, like the planting of the tomatoes. This is how I have tomatoes in pots in the front yard (though they're not really thriving, and I'm not sure why--maybe they just need more time to establish themselves) and two magnificent upside-down tomato plants hanging from the branches of the Russian olive tree in the front yard. They seem to be doing very well, and it looks really neat, so I think next year I will want to festoon all my tree branches with upside-down vegetation.

The 4th of July party was great. I think at peak we had maybe two dozen people, which is about the right amount for our backyard. Four of them biked here, which always makes me happy. I really enjoyed seeing people and being able to hang out and chat without really having to do anything active to make it so. Like go somewhere else, because that's so not happening. And there were many tasty eatables (special notice goes to Moffat's fantastic peach-and-berry pie), and a giant sparkler duel at the end of the night. The freezie-pops were also a good idea, and the Viking bocce ball did well. Phil was the only casualty that I know of. I was a bad hostess a few times because I thought Phil was taking care of things, when in reality he'd crawled away again. Ah well. These things happen.

Things started to die down when it got dark around 9, as predicted, though [livejournal.com profile] discoflamingo stuck around and chatted and watched Wire in the Blood with me for a bit longer. I've been meaning to post about that show for a while--I found it on Netflix Instant and I've really been enjoying the heck out of it. It falls under the "eccentric specialist helps police in their investigations" template--if the eccentric specialist specialized in serial killers, the show was grittier and more realistic than Criminal Minds, they were given a DOP/cinematographer far better than a TV show deserves, and the director was exposed to lots of Dario Argento films at an impressionable age. In short, it's pretty fantastic. And it's in the British model where each show is an hour and a half long and good enough to be released as a movie on its own merits.

I've been slowly whittling away at the massive to-do list--I'm down to only having three levels of urgent to-dos. I got a bunch of insurance bills straightened away, figured out who I wanted our pediatrician to be, got myself a physical therapy appointment that may help with the pain I've been having, and wrastled baby carriers (the baby carriers won).

There were other major events. Somewhere in there were two baby showers and a 4th Street Fantasy convention. I passed on CONvergence, though--I may be pregnant and crazy, but not that crazy.

I also may have lost the second job doing senior-sitting. The elderly lady had a bad fall (not while I was present) and wasn't doing well, so they checked her into more advanced care at least for a while, possibly permanently depending on if they think her husband is no longer still capable of taking care of her on a day-to-day basis in their apartment. It is sad for them. Although it was nice having the job as a back-up, the amount of work I've been able to do from home recently has been reassuring to myself and Phil that we will not be totally fiscally screwed now that I'm *only* working from home.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


I've been able to get more writing done. Not great amounts by my normal productivity standards, but at least a few hundred words a day. And I've sent a half-dozen stories out that were just lurking menacingly on my hard drive instead of doing anything useful, so that is *also* good. I am feeling better about things, even as I blow past writing deadlines. Well, I did give notice that I'd be doing that!
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Really, the post subject line says it all.

I have a month and a week to go until the baby's due date. For statistical accuracy, that's +/- 3 weeks. This is the time when most women just want to be done, because everything becomes awkward, exhausting, difficult, and/or painful. I spend a lot more time than usual in sleeping, eating (6 meals a day takes time!), and feet-up breaks to prevent excess swelling. The rest of the time, I move in slow motion.

No, really! I have two ways of walking--the duck waddle, and the articulated Terminator-in-slow-motion. The Terminator is more comfortable and arguably faster, but requires concentration. Anyway. (Did I mention I'm also more distractable?)

In a day, I seem to be able to put in about 6 hours either doing day job work, writing, or preparing for baby and keep our household from devolving into the chaos that eats all things. Used to be, I'd put in a full day on either day job work or writing, and then spend some time bringing order out of chaos.

I think if I try scaling everything down to part-time, expecting about half as much per day, I may be able to keep up. And scaling back day job hours will allow writing again! And paying bills! And working on that really really long list of to-dos! (My to-do list? Has the following categories: Urgentest To-Do, Urgent Urgent Urgent To-Do, Urgent Urgent To-Do, Urgent To-Do, and Action Needed. It used to just have Urgent To-Do and Action Needed. Oy.)

Practically, what does this mean?

* I'm going to try to cut back on day job hours/day--which is probably doable right up until I get projects with solid deadlines.

* I'm going to be stressed about not having baby stuff and chaos under control. Just don't expect me to be coherent about anything. Stress + baby hormones = unpredictable reactions.

* I may not be socializing much, and if I do, I'll almost certainly punk out early.

* Writing and writing-related things are going to be getting done more slowly (although faster than they have been for the last month, when I tried working full-time hours and then found writing impossible!). I'm still hoping to get Circus of Brass and Bone out about once a month, but specific dates are mirages. For example, this month's episode? Probably going to take another week or so.

So why make a big huge post out of this? Well, this way I might have a chance of remembering....
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
No picture because I was in a hurry.

Spring salad

* 1 bag salad mix
* 1/2 bag baby spinach
* 4-5 medium radishes, sliced thinly
* 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thinly
* 3/4 c. parmesan, in large shavings
* 5-6 spears asparagus, grilled (next time, might try brushing with butter/oil before grilling - did fine without, though)
* Romano-cheese-based salad dressing (keep to the side for people to add themselves)

Combine half the salad mix and the spinach. Add half the toppings. Mix slightly, trying not to let all the toppings sink to the bottom.

Add the rest of the salad mix and spinach. Add the rest of the toppings. Mix gently.

I actually took the asparagus with us to the BBQ, grilled it there, and then snipped it into bite-sized pieces and mixed it into the salad. Also, that was a huge bowl of salad and it all got eaten. As Phil said, our social group eats pretty damn healthily these days.

CSA for salad mix, spinach, radishes, and asparagus.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
I am sitting at my desk, working on writingy things, listening to my "Non-Ambient Electronica" station on Pandora, and Foundling is sitting on the back of my desk chair and occasionally pouncing on my braid when it swings too close. Life is pretty good, despite the lack of NgithOwl work for the last week+. Ah well, soon enough I won't even be *able* to do the on-site projects. So I am grateful for both the senior sitting job and the work-from-home NgithOwl projects, both of which I have had this week. Phil and I still need to sit down and really hash out our financials, though.

As I said, mostly no work. Naturally, I have been doing other things.

Friday, the dice kept rolling ones. Over and over and over. If I'd been gaming, my character would have been so dead. Instead, I did lots and lots and lots of cleaning, including paying bills, baking banana bread, starting to organize hall closet, and figuring out that yes, the roomba is really broken and no, I cannot swap the battery into an older model in our basement. ::sorrow:: It's on the list to either buy a battery for one of the ancient-and-iffily-functional roombas, or to get a new one. The list, however, will take some time to get through. I think a new toaster oven probably comes first.

Saturday morning was at the senior center. I had my excitement for the day when the lady got too over the edge of the bed when she was trying to get up and so she started to fall. I could ease her down so she sat down gently on the floor, but I couldn't get her up to her feet on my own. So the home sent a resident to help, and that was good. But they also called the husband to tell him they were on their way, and that was bad. He had no idea what was going on but was already on his way home, so he had an unpleasant ten minutes of worry that wasn't really necessary.

The afternoon was more pleasant, since [livejournal.com profile] tesla_aldrich hosted tea over at her place. There were cookies and tea and fruit and hummus and I brought banana bread (that Mr. V appeared to enjoy particularly) and generally it was lovely to see friends. I have spotted a drawback to having "coffee shop" at somebody's home, and it is that people may go expecting to talk and socialize the whole time instead of working on projecty things. So less gets done, albeit in a very pleasant atmosphere.

Sunday, I got to try something new! [livejournal.com profile] traladeda and I went to the 331 Club's Crafternoon Delight. $5 gets you access to a ton of crafting supplies appropriate for whatever the craft of the month is, and there's $5 Bloody Marys and 1/2 price bottles of wine for those who choose to indulge. It was a fun outing for a low cost. I got a good start on a "book of books" shadow box that (alas) I'll have to finish later. I will see if I think it's worth keeping when it's done (it is clearly a first project!). Tips: Go at or a little before the 2 PM start time to make sure you get your materials, plan for things to wrap up around 4-5 PM, bring any particular tools you think might be useful, and get a booth if you can. The small tables really fill up fast when crafting!

Next month is terrariums, so I'm definitely going to that. I have wanted a terrarium for, well, quite a while. Anybody else?

Writing

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode 12


Other writingy stuff:
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Finished redmarking CoBB (except for one tricky paragraph)
* Best practices for Amazon ebook sales: http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2011/best-practices-for-amazon-ebook-sales/
* Word meanings shift over time. When you can still use the originals: http://www.slate.com/id/2290536/
* Getting To Know You: http://obscurekidlitauthors.blogspot.com/2011/04/getting-to-know-you-meeting-main.html
* First, a Radiolab podcast about creative urges and other things that feel like a separate entity. Worth a listen for the reporter who talks about how Tom Waits deals with his muse:
http://feeds.wnyc.org/~r/radiolab/~5/B86iAT79Aqg/radiolab030811.mp3
* Next, the text of the article she wrote (not much on creativity, but a pretty awesome portrait of Tom Waits):
http://www.tomwaitslibrary.com/interviews/02-june-gq.html
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Phil and I)
Phil and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary this weekend. I think this is pretty fantastic, and I attribute it to us both being extraordinarily stubborn individuals.

On our actual anniversary, April 1st, Phil brought home ten roses (1) and then we took each other out to dinner (2) at Crave (3).

(1) They were actually selling roses by the 10-pack. We can only guess that they needed to increase profits but didn't want to raise prices for a bouquet--so they took two roses out of the classic dozen. But it made it the perfect number!

(2) He chose the restaurant, and it was a surprise, but we paid with the credit card, so I'll eventually end up paying for it. Ah, well. It feels like I haven't gone out in ages.

(3) Yes, the restaurant in the Mall of America. It is possible that there was some, "Wait, you actually want to go out on our anniversary?" on the day of. Also some issue with his work blocking most restaurants' websites, making the figuring out of a restaurant and a reservation difficult. So a coworker recommended it.



The overall ambiance was not so great. We got seated out on the balcony area, which meant we were basically eating in the mall, but it was a lot less noisy than inside the restaurant, so we were able to talk at all. Pluses and minuses! Some of the food was fantastic. We split a bunch of orders. The rosemary herb bread? Amazing! The hand-cut fries with truffle butter? Crack-tastic! Worth a special trip. The grilled Caesar salad? The grilled flavor was interesting, but I think I'd prefer a more classic Caesar. The pasta with wild mushrooms, bacon, and chicken? Should have had more mushrooms, less chicken, and any bacon. Not that it wasn't good--it was fine, it just wasn't amazing. The chai creme brulee? I was too full to try. Sorrow. Phil had a fizzy bottle of pink sake, and I had a virgin mojito with blueberries. I gotta say--these days I'm really happy with any menu that actually includes interesting non-alcoholic drinks.

On Saturday afternoon, we had the first BBQ of the season to celebrate with friends. The weather cooperated with a pretty nice sunny 50 degree+ day. It made me happy to have a chance to hang out and talk with a couple dozen friends. There were burgers and chips and pretzel thingies and cinnamon rolls and pasta salad and pickles and Izzy soda and other wonderful things. And a hammock and bocce ball! (Phil thinks he can fix the Xmas lights pretty easily by reconnecting the string in a different order.) Things wound up around 2 and wound down around 7, as it started to get cold out. And now Phil has a cooler full of beer(4) and we have burgers and veggie burgers for grilling for later in the summer(5).

(4) Which he can't just drink. He's still taking pretty heavy daily doses of ibuprofen to deal with the swelling and joint pain of Mystery Illness, so he's not supposed to tax his liver with booze.

(5) And we can store them in our new deep freeze! That was our Christmas/anniversary gift from the in-laws. I don't really know what to do with it, but I'm excited to have it.

There was a mad scramble to clean before the party (and after), particularly since I had to work all morning at the senior sitting job. By all morning, I mean beginning at 7 AM that Saturday. I am still amazed that I did not fall asleep at my own party.

I've pretty much been working regular hours, meaning 40+, between NgithOwl and the senior sitting. I have to leave NgithOwl early on Thursdays to get to the senior sitting job, but it balances out with the usual weekend work. But there was no weekend work needed at NgithOwl on our anniversary! And on the days when there is no NgithOwl work but I need to get to the senior center, I can just bike up to Bryant, which is a nice short bike ride and very convenient. (I figured out that I can't bus and bike to NgithOwl as I usually do in the summers, because my bike weighs much too much for me to be allowed to lift it, and putting a bike on the bus bike racks involves real lifting. Sadness. But then again, that's the crazier part of town to bike in, so I'm probably safer not doing it anyway.)

It might be quieter at NgithOwl now, but I've earned enough to pull us most of the way out of the financial hole that no work for four months put us in.

I've also been wrastling with paperwork (including figuring out that a toaster oven warranty was not worth using, because it would cost us lots just to send the darn thing in and get it back, and there was no guarantee of fixing or replacement--stupid fake warranty--so no toaster for us), and setting up stuff for my baby showers (one in Minnesota, one in Wisconsin).

Between working on writingy stuff at the senior sitting job and my hour of writing minimum, the writing proceeds apace.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode 11

And Episode 11 is complete! Thanks to a convenient ending hook that I hadn't planned in advance.

New words: 1,900
Total words: 67,390
Overused word: Doom
Gratuitous hardware: Colt Navy revolver
Type of scene: a hive of scum and villainy
Challenge(s): Not getting in my own way when I'm feeling a scene.
Which line is it anyways?He didn't know of any ladies who filed their teeth like that!
Researched: tooth sharpening (gah! too many junk links on the internets!), sailing ships, major arteries in the human body, Civil War-era weaponry
Notes: An interesting side-benefit of the daily no-matter-what writing hour seems to be that my story is "living" more in my mind, even when I'm not writing. This can be distracting and frustrating when I'm not in circumstances to write when a scene starts playing, but it's also good for figuring out plot kinks ahead of time.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted last writing log and freewriting
* 10 Ways to Start Your Story Better: http://writersdigest.com/article/10-ways-to-start-your-story-better/?et_mid=245443&rid=2957480
* A great wrap-up of “how to live” advice for artists: http://www.austinkleon.com/2011/03/30/how-to-steal-like-an-artist-and-9-other-things-nobody-told-me/
* Finished redmarking The Iron Dragon Dilemma, and figured out how to fix the plot. Probably another 1,000 words of writing in there. Gah. Story will be so loooong.
* Modern handgun basics for writers: http://www.sff.net/people/sanders/rrdws2.html
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (beauty)
I am so delighted that Spring seems to be making inroads into Minnesota! At last! Enough snow has melted that we can open the back gate again. Soon it will be warm enough to start planting things. Our CSA will start soon!

Today I am wearing a buttercup-yellow skirt. Yay, Spring!

This week I have been getting things done, I just haven't been as good about writing down what I have, because, you know, documenting takes away from doing time! Most of the week has gone to day job work and to getting a couple of overdue writingy projects out the door.

I've been working full-time all week, mostly at NgithOwl, but also starting the new companion job. NgithOwl is the same as usual--a huge rush to get projects out the door, all due on the same day. It was very good to have the weekend off, though many people did work overtime on the weekend. I wasn't asked--not sure why, though we didn't have enough computer stations, but I don't mind having the break after working some of last weekend too. I've been writing longhand in my notebook while taking the bus, so the work transit has also given me some extra pages on my letter-game side project, Platinadar.

The elder-sitter job is okay. I've gotten to work on writing stuff while I'm there, which is ++good. And it's pretty straightforward. I'm a little concerned about what happens if the old lady needs more physical help getting out of bed, etc., since I'm not allowed to lift human-sized things at this point. The son stopped by to make sure I wasn't some suspicious character who would steal the silverware, which is him being a good son. ;) How long she'll need this (minor) level of care and when she'll need more than I could provide are questions that nobody knows the answer to.

And Saturday night, I got to and socialize over at [livejournal.com profile] half_double and LtS's house. Socializing is good, even if people did get a bit over-excited about the whole baby-naming thing (still not naming him Glaxo-Kline or Montana). No, but really it was great to see old acquaintances and chat with current friends and eat some delicious salsa.

Phil did not go, as his joints were hurting him again. He has spent most of this weekend on the couch to keep the inflammation from flaring back up to severe levels. However, basketball's on, so I don't think he minds too much! Hopefully this will go away soon--we're all ready for him to be healthy again.

Aside from that, between rededicating myself to "writing comes first" and what I've been able to do at the elder-sitter job, I've done pretty well for writingy stuff this week. Most of my time went to polishing off this last episode of Circus of Brass and Bone and getting my writing market list out.

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode 11


Other writingy stuff:
* Writing on a Platinadar letter on the bus to work, got a number of pages done.
* Marked up Circus of Brass and Bone Episode 10, made editing changes, recorded podcast, and loaded it up.
* Updated market list from Ralan newsletter.
* Nine Ways to Give a Better Reading: http://pimpmynovel.blogspot.com/2011/03/nine-ways-to-give-better-reading.html
* Cleaned out old market listings, uploading new market spreadsheet, wrote newsletter and sent it out/posted it.
* Began revising "Charity from a Thief." My old problem with beginnings struck again in this story, but I think I've figured out a fix.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Phil is still sick. He's doing a better job juggling acetaminophen and ibuprofen to keep the fever down, but whenever he waits too long, it goes right back up. Yesterday his hands swelled up like an arthritic old man's--a quite common effect of having a fever. If he's still ill tomorrow, it's back to the doctor for him! Because Phil does the grocery shopping, we are running out of staples. I've picked up a few things from Target on my way home, but it's still quite ingenuity-testing. Tonight's dinner will be chili, because chili = beans + [just about anything].

Thursday
Worked. Came home from work and climbed upstairs and fell asleep, not even eating first. That last bit says a lot. The sprogling demands SLEEP. After I woke up, I made dinner, prepped dinner for tomorrow (got things marinating), did laundry, dishes, and a snippet of writing.

Friday
Worked. Can't remember what else I did, but writing appears to not have been involved.

Saturday
The day began unfortunately, when I remembered to check the bus schedule (which changed that day), but forgot to check the Saturday section instead of the default Monday through Friday section. So there was waiting outside in the cold for an extra twenty minutes for my bus. And then I discovered I'd forgotten the post-it note with the door codes written on it (on the weekends, building doors are locked and you need the code to get in), but fortunately I was able to remember it. Otherwise I would have been sitting outside hoping somebody took a smoke break soon.

Worked until 1. Then I left to go to a job interview for being the companion to an elderly woman. Ten hours a week and I could work on other things while there, but I was competing with a couple dozen college students, so we'll see how that goes. They thought they'd be making their decision yesterday, but I haven't heard anything, so my hopes are not up.

ES&TS decided to host "coffee shop" at their house that Saturday, so then I bused over to their place (Saturday involved a whole lot of transit). There, there were wondrous things like tea! and chai! and cookies! and black bean salsa! and people to talk to! There was much socializing, and some editing of CoBB. It is always hard for me not to just chatter away at people when I haven't seen them for a while (like since, say, yesterday), but at least I fixed the opening, which Phil had diagnosed as crap, and which I had had severe problems trying to figure out how to fix when I first made the attempt a couple of days ago. So that was good (but the black bean salsa was better).

The "coffee shop at home" idea is a lovely one, and generally cost-saving. Also, then we could invite people more in advance. And once ES and I have our sproglings, well, public coffee shops become slightly more of a hassle. Although it also would mean losing the "somewhere else!" of it all. And I'm definitely a fan of novelty-seeking behavior. Hrm. Pondering. I suppose the two would not need to be mutually exclusive.

Circus of Brass and Bone Total


Combined Writing Log
* Various smidges of writing on CoBB.
* Assorted freewritings.
* Edited CoBB episode opener.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (editing despair)
Monday was--why can't I remember Monday? Alas, the mindwipe drugs have--

Oh. Wait. There it is.

Phil was still home sick and still feverish. Much like today. Don't worry, though, I have made him a doctor's appointment for tomorrow. Turns out it's the first time in two years he's been to the doctor...that whole "routine appointments" thing does not apply. Guess I need to add that to my to-do list. His temperature seems to stay in the range between 100.5 and 102.5, which is worrisomely high. I tried to keep him full of fluids and acetaminophen and to encourage him to take his temperature regularly. Without actually entering the infectious zone, you understand.

Despite the husband-pandering, I still got lots of miscellaneous things done:
* listed ATI TV Wonder on amazon, craigslist, etc.
* finally ordered RAM upgrade for computer (should have done that months ago)
* basic cleaning
* continued sorting books (this will go on *forever*--not even through one bookshelf yet)
* balanced bank account ::wince::
* finally put away miscellaneous Christmas stuff (a couple of items of which I had just fixed! yay, craft afternoon!)
* pandered to ill husband

In the evening, I got to go play bridge at [livejournal.com profile] susanofstohelit’s, where I was reintroduced to all the basic concepts since it was the first time I'd made a game since before Christmas. Good hangings-out (and tasty molasses cookies) were had.

The writing I had less success with. I only managed to write a snippet, and when I tried to edit the episode my brain just wasn't working that way. Very frustrating--editor-brain is usually quite easy for me to locate.

Circus of Brass and Bone Total


2/28/11, Monday
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Sent out a recorded snippet as a PodCastle narrator audition. I have audio equipment; I should use it, right?
* Wrote a snippet on CoBB
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (experiment)
[livejournal.com profile] fayde has been doing these craft afternoons one Sunday afternoon a month. I am not really a crafter sort of person, but so far I have managed to scrounge up things to do. And perhaps I will become more crafty over time. This would not be a bad thing as long as it did not also become a time-consuming thing.

This Sunday I did a lot of gluing of things together and a little sewing. I mended:
* a desk gargoyle
* a Santa house Christmas decoration
* a Christmas bells doorknob-hanger/cat toy
* a hairstick that snapped in half in my hair
* a high school ceramics project
* a shiny tea-light holder, and
* a coaster

I reclaimed half a shelf in my study by finally fixing all these! And I learned some valuable lessons about Krazy Glue. Lesson 1) Wear latex gloves before you lose skin. Lesson 2) Figure out how you will balance the object to keep the glued parts together before you do anything with the actual glue. Lesson 3) The newspaper you are using to protect the table is an object, and it is rather easily glue-able to other objects.

Sewing--I mended/decorated/blinged out a wonderful knit maxi skirt that I love (the level of love that sent me back to the store to find another one and made me very sad to find they were gone) but that had sprouted holes that made it improper wear. Strategic diamonds of blue fabric and bonus application of bling made the patching look like intentional decoration. I hope. After fixing it and putting everything away, unfortunately, I discovered another hole near the hem. Looks like I have a project for next craft day!

There was also discussion of Facebook invites when one friend revealed that she pretty much ignores all Facebook invites (she gets a ton of them). This was upsetting for me. It's never nice to think that your attempts to socialize are being ignored, and the mindset behind it as initially explained was hard to square with how I see socializing. (And also that as far as I can tell, event planning is the one thing Facebook actually does really well!) But we hashed it out, which is good, because Unresolved Things are Unresolved. A large part of it is how large her social network is, and her desire for more personal socializing instead of large events socializing. It's good it came up, because it got me to finally set up that "Non-Facebook Invites Preferred" email group for peoples not on Facebook and, apparently, those who don't like using the Facebook events features.

If you want on the list, speak now!

And then I came home and Phil confessed gloomily that he felt sick again, and it did turn out that he was running a high fever. One day last week he was feverish too. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Fevers are things pregnant ladies are supposed to avoid, and so he is doing the sleeping on the couch/no physical contact thing. No hugs or kisses for me. Very sad. But he is home from work today, so I get some extra time in.

I got a little writing stuff done in the evening.

2/27/11, Sunday, writing log

Total


* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Persuaded Phil to read and critique the next episode of CoBB
* Wrote a snippet on CoBB and promptly accidentally deleted it, though I jotted down what I could remember of the best bits. There was much gnashing of teeth.
* Read 3 Critters and 2 Duotrope newsletter and updated market list from them.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (self-evolving system)
I didn't get much done on Friday, because Friday was go-get-interviewed-at-PoorStaff day. So I pulled on my new suit-dress, decided it didn't work, changed into a pair of old dress pants and one of the new stripey dress shirts, applied makeup, and went. I was as perky and professional as one can be with unbuttoned pants. The interview went quite well, I think, though there is always the "wait, I don't understand your current jobs situation" moment. Neither do I, lady, neither do I. And I only had to obfuscate a little about why I wouldn't be available after mid-July. Legally, they can't ask certain clarifying questions, although when the lady asked why, she did have something of the same look my mother-in-law used to get when she would ask why I wasn't drinking, etc. Then there was the filling out of ridiculous amounts of paperwork (side note: their benefits are actually decent, including a 6% 401K match if you stay more than a year). After that, several hours of testing on computer programs. My scores were pretty good, most above the 70th percentile, so I think that should do okay.

Saturday, there was the moving of CValenti into new digs three blocks away, with his goylefriend. Something finally got him out of that building! It's a miracle! And the new place is lovely, with all the character of Victorian-era buildings, hardwood floors, and lots of light from the windows. There was the traditional repayment of pizza and (root) beer.

I also scheduled the various pre-natal classes I should attend, so that's all lined up.

And that evening, there was M's birthday dinner/drinks at Grumpy's. A bit loud for conversation, but it was good to see and talk with people that I haven't for a while. As per our budget restrictions, we stayed for (1) beer and (1) soda and then absconded. The whole "no spending extra money on things like food" means that we really have a 2-hour socializing limit, because that's when I need to eat, or bad things happen.

As you might guess, this left not much time for writing stuff, but! I finished Circus of Brass and Bone, Episode 10. However, I didn't get any actual writing in on Saturday, which broke my chain of 13 days of writing. Curses!

I am using the X-on-the-calendar when main project writing is accomplished (even if only a couple hundred words) method to motivate me. The power of the chain compels you (to write)!

2/26/11, Saturday
* Read iTunes’ full podcast manual. Blech. I basically have to redo the whole feed.
* Worked on fixing the broken links on my main website (that I broke myself, when I tried to change them a couple of weeks ago).

2/25/11, Friday

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log

Total


Episode X


New words: 775
Total words: 60,980
Overused word: corpse
Gratuitous word: acrid
Type of scene: How you gonna negotiate with that, huh?
Challenge(s): Wrapping up the episode at a good point.
Which line is it anyways?The other passengers pressed past them, swarming up the wide stone steps to the imposing brick building.
Added to spellchecker: salvagers
Notes: Didn't get as far into the city plot outline as I'd hoped this episode, but I think this was important texture stuff. Hrm. At least the next episode will have action.
Other writingy stuff:
* Posted freewriting and writing log.
* Marked TweettheMeat as a dead market. ::sniff:: RIP.

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