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 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)
Things that go together: stomach flu and bathrooms. Things that don't work so well: stomach flu and non-functional bathrooms. This Tuesday I got sick with the horrible stomach flu that the kids had last week. It was ... horrible. I started feeling sick while I was getting Cassius to his Uptown preschool for a special morning field trip. The plan was to stay in Uptown so I could pick him up after his field trip ended, get him lunch, and then bring him back an hour and a half later for his regular preschool to start. We stuck to the plan, but by the end I was entirely miserable and also grateful for the cleanliness of the public library bathroom and the bathroom at Potbelly. :(

I started feeling actually health several days later, on Friday. In the mean time, Phil stayed home to help when he could and went to work when he couldn't, the kids watched way too many episodes, and the plumber and contractor came and went.

Our bathroom still isn't fixed, but by Friday our shower at least had walls again, even if it has no fixtures. On Monday they'll come and put those in. However, we could use our bathtub again this weekend, thank goodness, at least for bucket baths. You know it's bad when you're really grateful for a bucket bath.

I'm also grateful for good friends who live nearby and let me use their shower! So grateful. Thursday night, Electra let our whole family go over to her house and I got to wash my hair (and the rest of me, but the hair was the worst because I really can't do anything about that in a sink) and bathe the children and she fed Phil (and Theia) spaghetti, which I know he was really grateful for because we went over around 8, right after he got home from work and before he had a chance to eat a proper dinner.

What else this week? Friday Theia and I went to the library storytime and she saw a little girl that she usually plays with at the coffee shop nearby. Friends! Saturday Phil started getting sick, but he seems to have the congestion-and-coughing version without any of the digestive problems. Theia has been accepted to preschool for three mornings a week beginning in September. I will be alone in the house. This is shocking. Cassius has Scottie Bear home from preschool, so he gets to take the bear everywhere and then we write a story in a notebook about what we did while Scottie Bear was here. I learned that Cassius likes my chili, as long as I put it in a chapati for him. We're trying to get Theia to start potty-training, but even having her sit on the potty for two minutes is a challenge. This has become more urgent lately since she's started taking off her own dirty diapers (including the poopy ones). Danger Danger.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Two big changes and one irritating mistake. Okay, the changes aren't THAT big. Practically speaking, they're quite small on a lifetime scale. But big on a weekly scale!

The biggest thing in my life lately has been my inability to shower or bathe at home. Our shower went from decrepit but sorta functional to entirely non-functional. It no longer has hot water, and using the shower is also bad because the walls aren't as waterproof as you would want shower walls to be. We figured this out when Phil looked up at the ceiling of the kitchen and saw that there was water damage. :(

My solution for this has been to take advantage of all the gym trials available that include childcare (and one that didn't, even though its website said it did). This way, I can take the kids, get a workout, write for a bit while the kids stay in childcare, and then wash my hair (the big problem with normal bucket-bath solutions) and the children. It's been fun. I don't have disposable income on a monthly basis, so I won't be able to permanently join a gym-with-childcare and do the short workout, longer writing game plan that some other writer parents and members of gyms-with-childcare have. Sadface. But I've learned that I like group classes and weight machines, and I really like being able to work out again.

Monday the plumber comes and starts the process of retiling the shower alcove, replacing the fixtures, and installing a new toilet while he's at it. I'm very happy about this. I'm just sad that we didn't have the budget to have them also tear up the wood floor and put in tile while we're at it. Alas. Wood floors look great and wear well in many rooms, but bathrooms aren't one of them.

Other things that happened this week(ish), briefly:
1. Tried writing with The Most Dangerous Writing App (change #2), liked it, and beat my weekly word quota for the first time in a long time;
2. Went to preschool auction, got one month's gym membership cheap(!), and collected lots of compliments on my candid portraits of the kids;
3. And, finally, messed up communicating with Cassius' school bus about me taking him to school instead (after gym time in Uptown), leading to confusion all around and a cranky school bus chaperon. Oops.
4. Wait, that's not the end after all! Last Sunday, the children became miserably sick, complete with 105 degree fevers (Cassius) and vomiting (Theia). That was no good. The combination of vomit and nonfunctional shower was particularly unfortunate. I forgot about that earlier, even though the kids are still coughing and congested. They're no longer feverish and they seem to be back to normal energy levels, though, so no more sick days watching videos for them!
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!


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.

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)
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 (park)
Writing this at 6 AM on a Monday morning while waiting to see if my stomach is going to rebel against the cereal I just put in it. Usually I would have written this yesterday, but I was huddled on the couch hoping to feel better. I did start feeling better about 8:30 PM, but you see, I was sick on Friday, fine on Saturday, and sick again on Sunday, so I have no idea how I'm going to feel today. Seems likely that this is food poisoning from the Daiya cheese on the pizza luce I ate Thursday night. Which is very unfortunate, since Pizza Luce is one of the few "easy" places to go out to eat dairy-free and soy-free. So yes, that has been my last few days. Food poisoning. Or stomach flu. Something along those lines. As late as Friday, we thought Phil might be going to California on Sunday, and I was not looking forward to that. Then that was postponed. Whew!

On the plus side, slathering Theia with lanolin 2x/day seems to be working well. Just last night I noticed a couple of new rough spots that I'm worried about, but the old ones seem to have cleared up fine. They are soft and smooth and no longer angry red. Mostly, I can't even see them any more. I did get a message back from our regular doctor (she was on vacation), in which she countermanded Dr. Not You's prescription and said, "No, do this instead." We didn't do that instead, though, since it took her a couple of days to get and respond to our message, and by that time the lanolin seemed to be working. It is made of costolium, but it is also the only lotion treatment that doesn't warn me to call the poison center if the baby gets any of it in her mouth. She's five months old. She puts *everything* in her mouth.

She has also mastered rotational movement and rolling over from front to back and back to front. I think she's actually going to be a crawler, unlike Cassius. We have procured cushioned mats for her to practice her rolls and crawling on. This is something I really wish we'd done with Cassius. Would have saved on skull trauma.

There is a new coffee shop that just opened up on 38th St & Nicollet that I'm pretty excited by, not least because they plan on sourcing their pastries from Patisserie 46. Sure, I can't eat anything *now*, but once Theia's weaned, the world of pastries will be mine once more! Five Watts is their name, and they're by the owners of Bull Run Coffee. It's a skinny little coffee bar with interesting looking blends. Sadly, I can't drink their specialty drinks because they mostly involve milk. And they don't really have space for a big table of 6+ people, which is how I tend to do coffee shops. But I may try and go there solo sometime, and I do like that that cross-street is getting restaurants and coffee shops moving in.

Almost got a black lab puppy from Phil's aunt, but fortunately he asked me first to check if I thought I could take care of a puppy now. Young dog: yes, maybe. Puppy: no. I have raised puppies before. They are delightful, and cause nearly as much work, cleaning, and sleep-deprivation as an infant. I already have one of those.

What else? Saw Only Lovers Left Alive with Electra on Tuesday. Went to Tea and Writers on Saturday, had a story idea, but one that is not of the tone that I want next. Mothers Day happened sometime, and now I have a miniature rosebush that I am not sure will live.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Skipped a week! That week that I skipped? I went to the Minneapolis May Day Parade for the first time EVAR! And it was awesome. Cassius liked it, and Theia managed napping and nursing during the loudest, sunniest parts. I took many gorgeous photos. Seasonal things keep the world turning and the sun rising and setting, right?

This week? Is lots, I will sum up. Medical issues. Tea and kid-wrangling with friends back from the Peace Corps. Story publications and submissions ticking along nicely, writing less so. Vegan mac 'n cheese really just doesn't work, but I keep trying. Devoured the most recent three books in the Chronicles of Elantra in one gulp. Beautiful, refreshing bike ride along Minnehaha as part of MinnSpec writers group meeting. Homemade rye bread surprisingly tasty. Mother's Day--hey, I'm one of those! And now I have a new stepmother, and the kids have a new stepgrandmother (or would that be grandstepmother?), so there's that too.

This week--well, this week there has been a lot of dealing with stressful but not life-threatening medical stuff.

About two weeks ago, Fu Manchu got a shot of antibiotics and a cone of shame (Cassius: "Fu Manchu party hat!") to keep him from worrying at a skin irritation that had become a sore on his tummy. It was getting better. Then he figured out how to lick it *while wearing the cone*, and also how to use the cone to scrape at it to relieve itchiness. This made it get dramatically worse again. And we don't really have an extra $100 lying around for yet another vet visit this month. Managed to talk the vet into prescribing an antibiotic and a steroid magic healing pill for Fu Manchu, without another vet visit. Pills are cheap. We're gonna need a bigger cone, though!

We've been dealing with a new, unpleasant skin condition on Theia since a couple of days before we left for my dad's wedding, almost a month ago. It's as if her body thinks that once we get one medical condition cleared up (her blocked tear duct), it's time to add another one. Initially, it was diagnosed as ringworm--we had it looked at while we were out of town. We treated it as such for a couple of weeks, but although the distinct markings on the first couple of spots faded, new red splotches showed up all over her body. Took her to our regular clinic (but not, alas, our regular doctor*) and the doctor thought it looked like eczema but wrote us a prescription for a treatment that would cover both ringworm and eczema. Got prescription filled. Read prescription information. Saw "not recommended for under 17 years of age." Looked on internet and saw not recommended because it may cause growth problems. Said, "What the fuck? Not okay for my 5-month-old, and why didn't the doctor mention this when I asked him about potential side effects?" Planning on calling clinic on Monday and asking for second opinion from our regular doctor. In the meantime, busy being horrified and helpless in the face of red spots. We are (desperate and) hopeful that switching laundry detergent and going back to the Johnson&Johnson Naturals baby wash that we were using up until shortly before this developed will clear it up. Maybe she's just having a bad reaction to Aveeno? That would be much more manageable than steroid cream regimens and a potentially stigmatizing medical condition.

* I do not like the doctor we saw. I specifically scheduled an appointment with "the resident" because it was Not That Doctor. When he showed up in the clinic room I was like, "What the hell? I made an appointment with Not You." This doctor is the same one who didn't know to tell me that I should avoid dairy AND soy to see if that was causing Theia's bloody stools. And who at this visit was confused and dismissive about why non-cow dairy might also be an issue (it usually is, for a protein intolerance). I think this doctor is not very well-informed. This may also explain why he's always available for last-minute appointments.

13 Years!

Apr. 6th, 2014 05:47 pm
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (park)
Our household has been afflicted by The Sick for the last 2+ weeks. First Phil was sick, so I was doing as much solo parenting as possible and certainly not leaving the house while he watched the kids. Then I got the sick. At first, I hoped I was going to get a milder version than what he had--basically just a sore throat and snuffly tiredness--but as it turns out that was just my immune system putting up a losing battle. I got the full sickness, with the headaches and feverishness and general muzzy-headedness, it just took four extra days to manifest. You know, just in time for the weekend last week. So I didn't leave the house then either. I finally started to feel better as the kids got sick. Really, it's better than us all being sick at once. I guess. Poor sad feverish toddler got to watch a lot of Thomas the Train and Winnie the Pooh (AKA "honey movie!"). Poor sad feverish infant had a lot of trouble sleeping and woke up several times in the night (all the nights). I also now know what Theia's "whiskey face" looks like, because that's how she reacts to infant acetaminophen. It looks a lot like mine, actually! Complete with the full body shiver.

I did eventually escape the house this week! On Wednesday (?), I went out to watch a movie with Electra. Our first plan of seeing Robocop was changed because her car has started smoking, so the first plan of driving on the interstate to get to a theatre seemed like a bad idea (because as everybody knows, smoking totally destroys the stamina). Instead, we went to the much-closer Lagoon in Uptown, where we saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. In the end, I decided that I did not like the movie, in part because it threw in unnecessary downer postludes that kinda ruined it for me, and in part because there were a handful of jarringly brutal moments in it. Animal cruelty, I am not a fan of you. BUT! I also learned that the Lagoon sells vegan, dairy-free, soy-free chocolate cookies! SO excited by that.

On Tuesday, Phil and I celebrated our 13-year wedding anniversary by staying home and having a quietly romantic day while taking care of our poor sick kids. He came home early, bringing me tulips and salmon and Udi's double chocolate muffins that are allergen-free. Salmon is a really unusual thing to find in our house, so we stared at the instructions on the packaging and succeeded in making a special dinner out of it. Afterwards, Phil sat on the couch and looked through our wedding album with Cassius, who Phil says, "liked seeing pictures of his younger, skinnier parents." Given the people near and dear to us who we've lost since then, our wedding album is a bit of a tear-jerker. Later we danced to our wedding song--"Standing (Still)" by VNV Nation. Cassius wanted to dance, too. :)
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (shadow)
My "catch up" list after the last few months. You will notice that last item on the list has the potential to generate an even longer list. Also, getting anything else done assumes hitting that writing amount, which is not easy for me coming in with limited time after a long cold season. ::headdesk::

Freewriting every day
Submissions out as needed
Start writing!--250 main project minimum--every day
Email Minnspec crits from May
Complete Works update
Prep for 4th St panel
CoBB hiatus notice
Update website with ebooks
Minnspec podcasts, incl. Old Blood’s Fate recording
ebook experiment post
type up Platinadar letter
Next Big Thing Post
Flag pertinent “urgent” action need writing
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Poor Phil is sick. He started feeling sickly on Saturday, yesterday was particularly bad, and today he's staying home from work--we'll see how long this lasts. It started out as just a cough, but now he's coughing and hacking and running a fever. The latter is particularly bad. If babies less than 3 months old get sick enough to run a fever, they're generally hospitalized. So we really, really, really don't want Cassius to get sick--or me, since I'm in such constant contact with the baby that he'd surely catch it from me.

Phil has quarantined himself. He is now essentially living in the attic--sleeping, eating, and staying up there day and night. With, you know, the television, his laptop, and the gaming system. Poor guy. Although it is also the *hottest* room in the house, so it's not all fun and games.

But we really, truly, fingers-crossed hope the baby doesn't get sick. Phil did take care of the baby on Saturday, including giving him a bottle, but hopefully the baby didn't catch it then.
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


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:
* A great wrap-up of “how to live” advice for artists:
* 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:
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 [ 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


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:
* 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 (Phil and I)
Phil may no longer be feverish, but he's been having severe arthritic pain and swelling in his joints since the fever went away, and it isn't getting better. It's bad enough that he can't do some things and he's being woken up in the middle of the night by the pain when the painkiller wears off. This is Not Good. Husband is broken, and that is unacceptable. Worried Abra is worried. He has a doctor's appointment for tomorrow, where hopefully they will either figure out and treat what's going on or at least give him Flintstones chewable morphine.

Aside from that small detail, it's been a pretty good few days. I got the companion job, I got a lead on a good-paying temp job, and I worked some overtime hours this weekend, so finances are vastly less worrying than they were a couple of weeks ago. I finished the phone info part of the HARP refinance application, and we have the documents to sign and send in. Once that's done, it's just a waiting game.

The in-laws drove up from Wisconsin with a truckload of baby things, including a crib, a high-chair, a changing table, and even more second-hand baby clothes (we already had like six bags in the attic--like I said, they subscribe to the cargo cult theory of new babies). Oh, and a love seat that matches our current couch, inherited from the grandparents when they moved into assisted living.

So on Saturday afternoon, after I worked my overtime hours, they picked me up from work and we drove off to Home Depot, where they bought us an upright deep freeze as a combination Christmas/10-year-anniversary present (yes, it's been that long). They were also introduced to the joys of chain LeeAnn Chin Chinese food (they liked it).

The Joint

Saturday night, we went to the new Psycho Suzi's, a locally owned, tiki-themed bar and restaurant that just moved into vastly expanded quarters. Now they have a reception area with an indoor waterfall behind it, four theme bars, and a separate floor for the eating area. The indoors roughly quadruples the total space of the old place, including the patio. Outside, tiki torches flame alongside the Mississippi River. They were packed. The bar area is seat-yourself and only has appetizers available, so if you want real food, you have to get on the list and wait for seating in the dining area (which is less interestingly decorated, but does have the full menu, so, you know, trade-offs). The in-laws had a great time, and I think my m-i-l is planning on bringing the ladies of her card club there when they road trip to see the new baby. Apparently this is a tradition among them.

Sunday morning I fed them my fabulous yogurt-blueberry pancakes and we sent them on their way. Then I bussed to the Seward Cafe for [ profile] birdfigment's birthday brunch. There were hangings-out and tasty foods and then running to catch my bus to Uptown to join my writing group (partway through the meeting, but that's what happens when you do multiple things in a day). I got my mic back after the presentation portion was finished (we do a podcast now!) and delivered variously harsh critiques during the workshop section.

Then I came home and went thud. Well, after selling some CDs to Cheapo, mostly for the shelf space because CDs are selling for $.50 apiece today. Apparently, everybody and their brother is switching to digital and selling the physical, so it's not such a profitable thing to do.

After Phil woke me up by assembling the crib (which is large, sturdy, and roughly the size of couch), I made bean burgers for dinner and then did my hour of writing.

3/8/11, Tuesday, through 3/13/11, Sunday

Circus of Brass and Bone Combined Writing Log


Episode X

New words: 1,019
Total words: 62,814
Overused word: monkey
Gratuitous word: pineapple
Type of scene: How they figure out where to go next.
Challenge(s): Keeping it interesting without getting too zany.
Which line is it anyways?Wind whistled a counterpoint down the alley.
Researched: Elephant feet, "devolve"
Notes: It may be too zany. Or have too much dialog.
Other writingy stuff:
* Shamed by Sherilyn Kennyon’s 8 hrs of writing plus other hours of writingy stuff (the woman only sleeps 4 hrs a day, which is totally NOT an option for me), began the 1-hr of writing no matter what experiment (if I feel totally wasted, Ican work on non-primary writing project).
* Various freewriting warmups.
* MinnSpec critiques.
* Attended MinnSpec writing group meeting--well, at least the crit portion.
* Recorded intro for MinnSpec podcast, episode 3.
* Wrote four pages longhand on Platinadar while traveling to and from work.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (crazy)
(Oh, and Mom says, "I read your friends/readers comments on your blog and am grateful for their interest and support." She is getting treated with Taxitol on Monday, which I believe is the second-round treatment. I think one of the deciding factors was being able to start treatment immediately instead of delaying it for a week+.)

In happier news, I got the job! The job I posted about a few days ago, sitting with an elderly woman when her husband has to leave and making sure she's okay? It's 10 hours/week, and it doesn't pay really well, but it has a couple of major bonuses:
* It's a little over a mile away, and right on a bus line, so I can bus or bike it easily.
* I can work on my own thing while I'm there, so this can be writing time.
* Once I have the baby, I can take it along, so I won't have to pay for daycare out of this.

I start next week.

NgithOwl has been slammed by the super-large project. It's been keeping all 3 shifts busy, but it's due at the end of next week. I expect the work to go away then, back down to the low levels. Right now we're running 3 shifts, which means that work enough to keep *everybody* with hours is rare. I think that's part of the problem that caused the 3 months/no work situation.

PoorStaff has called me about a position at Target headquarters that would begin later this month and last for three. The pay is very good. It would involve writing procedures and doing database stuff, and in general, doing things that I'm good at. But it would interfere with the scheduling of the senior-companion job, which is more important in the long run because I could *keep* it in the long run. I still told them to send my resume. We'll see. First comes resume, then comes interview, then comes sorting out schedules and priorities.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (alas)
Tonight Mom gets to make the decision: second-line chemo, or an experimental trial?

Her blood tumor counts have skyrocketed since she stopped chemo a couple of weeks ago, proof that conventional chemo isn't working for her. She's been in a lot of pain. The "standard of care" is that then she would now go to second-line chemo, which operates differently, but which also has more side effects.

An experimental trial might be better. In the experiment her doctor recommended, the control group gets "standard of care." The drawback is that she would need to get another CT scan to qualify, which might slow down her treatment another week. She would be getting a second-line chemo treatment on Monday.

It is a hard decision. She saw her doctor and got her blood results today, and she needs to decide tomorrow.
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Phil is no longer feverish! Huzzah! This doesn't mean he's well, precisely, but it does mean he's going in to work today. Although the fever's gone, the joint pain and swelling remain. We're going to give it a couple of days and then make a doctor's appointment if that symptom doesn't go away too.

This meant I didn't have to make a doctor's appointment for him yesterday, after all. So I had a pretty routine day, with work all day and then coming home and blueberry yogurt pancakes for dinner (so delicious, so easy, so my favorite) and dishes and laundry.

I also listed Dichroic Mirror's Nocturnal Garden CD on ebay. It's kind of classical goth music, so if you're into that sort of thing, you should check it out:

Circus of Brass and Bone Writing Log Total

3/7/12, Monday, full work
* Posted writing log and freewriting.
* Worked on MinnSpec crits.
* A shnibblet of writing on CoBB.
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].

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.

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

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 (Phil and I)
Okay, so it's not quite that bad. But Phil has an unpleasant respiratory cold that I may also be starting to come down with.

It's not that we don't want to see people, or go hang out in coffee shops in this lovely long weekend--it's that we don't want to infect you. (It's not that kind of plague.)

This is quite sad. I've been working way too much lately, and I'd really have liked to go hang out in coffee shops and socialize with people while working on writing stuff. Alas. Well, we did see people NYE--and hopefully didn't infect anyone else....
cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
  • If you need a toilet, there's one on 38th St with a "Free! (it works)" sign attached.
  • NgithOwl bossman already had swine flu, if only for a week.


cloudscudding: Photo of Abra Staffin-Wiebe (Default)
Abra Staffin-Wiebe

March 2019

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