[sticky entry] Sticky: one point of divergence

Dec. 7th, 2015 02:47 pm
thanate: (bluehair)
This journal is mirrored at thanate.livejournal.com, with comments imported sporadically. Feel free to read either place, but thus far more discussion still goes on over there, when there is any.
thanate: (Default)
Well. 2 or maybe that's 3 months of successive rounds of minor illness later...

I don't journal anymore, do I. Bah. I've read about three books off my giant TBR stacks, a few library books, and a lot of bits out of backyard habitat books. Maybe I should do a review of those at some point, but that would involve taking notes. I have an online css course queued up, which is the major obstacle between me and remaking my website into what I think I want instead of how grauwulf interpreted what I said I wanted and adding a backyard naturalist blog component. Tho it would probably be easier to give up and do a wordpress blog which I hate for amorphous personal aesthetic reasons that are most likely pretty stupid. (Well, that and the lack of lj-style reading aggregations.)

We're working on buying 13 acres of hillside and stream conservation woodland near Liberty Reservoir out west of Baltimore, slowed up slightly by our bank's saying when asked that of course they do lot loans, no problem! up until the final check of paperwork before submitting at which point they say, no we can't do anything without a house on it. Thanks guys. So we're on round two of paperwork with somewhere else and less excellent terms, but we're still on the probably worth it side of the equation.

Dithering has gone roughly as follows:

*Woods!!! I don't even have a mental concept of how huge 13 acres is, and it's full of trees with a very nice stream at the bottom. 100 yr+ woodland, mainly tulip & red & white oak, some hickory & a couple beech trees (by my not terribly practiced once-over in winter) with some deer sign, but also some non-invasive understory.

*also full of invasives, including fields of lesser celandine which we'd have to hire someone who's certified to buy Rodeo (the wetland-safer version of roundup) to herbicide for us some February, ugh. May lose the skunk cabbage when we do that.

*3 or so acres of buildable land on kind of steep hillside at the top. But we could build a house into the hill!!! (grauwulf, thinking of hobbit holes, was skeptical, but I dug him up some more modern earth-sheltered designs & I think we're at least on adjacent pages now.)

*for the short term, we'd be looking at a prefab weekend cabin/writing retreat, with larger building to come later & possible "retiring" to there when the Megatherium gets done with school.

*What kind of idiot retires to a house with no level ground? Almost-40 me is cool with living in a tower. Most likely 60-year-old me will be also, but should I live to 80+, this may not be the convenient place to be.

*It's well above the predicted levels of the sea coming to get us, and if I walk up and down that crazy steep slope daily, I'll be/stay in far better shape than any other future presently on offer.

*There is basically not anywhere more convenient to live than where we are, certainly not this property, in terms of access to everything.

*It's only about a half hour drive from home. Can I do enough good with 13 acres to justify driving back and forth for 20+ years? Nobody else is stepping up to do that good, tho...

*I could plant chestnut trees!!!

*There are entirely unauthorized & in fact illegal 4-wheeler trails down by the stream, so we'd have to address that.

*When we got 2" of ice pellets this week, they got 8" of real snow. But buying here basically means I'll never be moving to where it really does snow in the winters, wherever that'll be in 20 years anyway.

We basically concluded that even if we end up never doing more than having a tiny cabin out there & improving the habitat a little it's worth doing. Probably. So we'll see.
thanate: (bluehair)
Well, began the new year with my first stomach flu in 30 years, so that was less than ideal, and current events is full of far more people than usual that I'd happily wish stomach flu upon.

After scouring Craigslist for used cubby shelves and coming up entirely blank (and hating every minute of trying to e-mail people and mostly not hearing back anyway) I got 4 of the 4x4 Kallax cubes from Ikea while they were on sale for $20. (So, supporting new construction, & offgassing toxic MDF chemicals in our house, but low hassle & no chance of getting smoke-infused ones...) Anyway, several problematic organizational problems have now been solved-- the amount of crap that lives on my child's bedroom floor is greatly reduced-- and I have discovered the extent of another problem.

This is my TBR shelf:

It hasn't really changed much in the last several years, because this is the bookshelf I assembled last night and populated with most of the stacks of unread books hanging about in my room:

Not pictured are a couple library books and the stack of things I was more than a couple chapters into that remains on the floor by my bed. And a forgotten shelf & a half of hand-me-down paperbacks on one of the gaps among the read & approved to stay paperbacks....

It is possible that I have a bit of a problem here. (The name of this problem is "if it doesn't come with a library deadline, I may never get to it.") It is time to declare a Year of Using Everything Up on the bookshelf: read it or get rid of it. I have 97 non-picture-books in my reading log from last year, so I could theoretically clear the new shelf handily and still get to enjoy some new releases. (Also about a third of the new-shelf books are freebies from WFC in 2014, so I'm sure I'll bounce off some of them & be able to re-release them into the wild.) So far, however, I've been staring in glassy-eyed choice-paralysis and then being dragged away by my child.

(The Year of Using Everything Up may also get extended to the craft room; so far I've been cleaning in short segments until I find that I've wound down to just staring at things-- half an hour at most-- and blocking off the door with the sewing machine table I just moved out of the Megatherium's room so that she doesn't come in and restore chaos while I'm elsewhere.)

My brain remains mostly spun down, but I have signed the Megatherium up for 5 mornings/week of preschool for next year. Today is not eternal.

ETA-- also, the toilet situation has progressed; praising her for noticing she needs to go and running to the toilet seems to be what was needed. Now it's just getting her to finish up and get out of the bathroom again that's a challenge, as she's teaching her invisible class from the potty and finding letters from Santa on the toilet paper.
thanate: (octopus)
(which *cough* stunningly inane bit of doggerel has been floating about in my head for a day or two, but I have managed to resist singing it where my child might overhear and demand that I sing it over and over and over again. As she would. I likewise managed to avoid incessant demands for figgy pudding.)

So, 38. We've got another round of minor sick going around, so I've been more than usually spacey and staring at walls today. Tried to go see Moana, but I had underestimated the mad theater crowds on a post-Christmas Christmas holiday Monday, so I guess I'll go see it with my mother on Friday instead. Which is ok too. Instead I came home and did some more pruning of my winter garden so that all the paths in the backyard are passable and maybe the squirrels won't be able to get to the screen on the dining room window so they can climb up it towards the bird feeders, leaving little scuffs and holes with their claws.

Then we went out for Thai food followed by ice skating. Her Megatheriosity had a grand time sliding about on double-bladed training skates clinging to a stack of buckets, a parent or two, or occasionally the wall. She flips between trying to walk and not trying to balance at all with other people dragging her, but so far so good. Neither grauwulf nor I had been skating in almost 20 years, but we managed to keep our feet and have a good time also. If we do this many more times, tho, I need to look for a pair of used figure skates that aren't built like ski boots & rub holes in my ankle.

Goals for the new year of me... I am backing off of writing for a while because my writer brain is kind of buried underneath a giant pile of introvert/life-stress. (my child went to preschool and then stopped napping. Followed by stopping using the toilet. So my time to be a solitary grownup has noticeably decreased.) But I want to do more projects-- both craft things & naturalist things. Maybe add the naturalist section to my website that was part of the plan when I launched it before the Megatherium was born. Continue donating to causes that make the world a better place. Probably continue pestering politicians (tho my congresspeople are about as with me already as it gets so far) in the hopes that it'll help, or at least get easier to do. Continue trying to balance self-care and productivity and parenting without falling off any of them. Teach the cat to use his new puzzle feeders. Reteach my child to use the toilet always. Eventually relocate my writing brain. Do fun things, do important things, do good things, drink tea, get sleep. We're also considering acquiring some property somewhere a little higher up and farther inland in case the ocean comes for Baltimore sooner than presently anticipated. Live.
thanate: (whirlpool)
Twitter serves the button-pushing addiction far better than lj ever did, of course, but writing long-form feeds the soul rather better. Besides that I hate (have always hated!) politics as played out by modern governments, and deeply resent it when the world gets so stupid I have to be one of the people yelling about it. (This is me being a spoiled brat, but it's also about as deeply rooted in my psyche as long hair being good. Why haven't the people who *want* to worry about this stuff fixed it yet??) Anyway, my twitter-crowd is buzzing about all the wrong with the world and whom one ought to call about it today, which makes it rather less of a mental support network than previously.

I have sorted out a weekly donation budget, and am occasionally delighted when something I would otherwise have donated to meets its goal & closes before I get there. I've made some phone calls, though not so many as I might have if the Megatherium didn't periodically try to climb on my head when I'm on the phone. There are Christmas presents; I have so far not fallen back into sobbing on the kitchen floor levels of melt-down while dealing with a demanding child who wants to play endless games of present wrapping (and unwrapping, and leaving the unwrapped toys scattered in the walkway) and fielding high levels of not-my depressive meltdowns. Finally made it into the super-secret behavioral health phone-only-access system on our healthcare & talked to a therapist-- I've only seen her twice, so the jury's still out on how helpful this really is (especially when I can't schedule appointments online) but it's nice to make the occasional designated space to complain about things.

The Megatherium and I have been playing Skylanders: Giants, which is obviously better when you have someone to leap up enthusiastically and swap figurines for you, and I really like that it has a "set all the fighting to easy" mode. Still disappointed that I can't chop Flynn-the-creep to bits, tho.

Not writing. Reading a bit. Let my SFWA membership lapse because I'm feeling so not-currently-writerly that I don't even want to go to cons and then while the renewal e-mail was sitting in my inbox there was another round of organization-specific poorly managed drama. I just went up to the loft to plug in my laptop at my supposedly-for-writing desk and discovered that the calendar is still on September. I was going to take writing time while my child was in pre-school, but then she stopped napping (and when she does nap, then she's awake half the night, so it's not much of an improvement.) Signing her up for 5 mornings a week next year, but that's not until next fall. In the mean time, I'm trying to remember to do more things that are me-like and wouldn't be entirely alien to my 12-year-old self. While still working to keep idiots from destroying the world.
thanate: (darkkerrigan)
When I'm asked about religion, I usually start by explaining that I was raised by a vocal atheist & an occasionally observant christian, and I've never been quite comfortable with Believing in things. I spent a bunch of time in my early 20s singing in the UU choir directed by my housemate's father, and while I loved the choir part, the services never quite stopped making me vaguely uncomfortable. They all began with a statement of "You are welcome here despite [a list of what sounded like all the things that might be *wrong* with you.]"

Nearing-40 me has a little more patience with the things that other people need to hear iterated, even if I retain my vast oceans of self-confidence about my own personhood & that of others. I hope to retain that, despite efforts of horrifying people to regress a lifetime's worth of social progress. (My mother's lifetime, if not my grandmother's.) I also hope that we don't sit here arguing bitterly about who gets to be Real until the ice caps melt & the oceans come for us all. There's at least someone who thinks there's still hope: There will never be a better time to save the planet.

It's a nice vision, anyway. And he's right about it not being a battle where we can just give up. I hope there's provision for wildlife in those walkable densely packed city transit corridors he's proposing, tho.

Anyway, I am still mired in my toddler-bound, depression-laced world, with a spouse who's spent the last month intermittently sick & a child who's given up on peeing in the toilet again, but I have been meaning to do a little more boots-on-the-ground naturalist & climate outreach for years, so we'll see if I can manage to share a little of that.

Hang in there, people. It's a scary world right now (or maybe it always was one) & I already know one person who chose not to continue living in it. Eat, hydrate, sleep, do the stuff that needs doing, and do your best to be furious about the right things.
thanate: (bluehair)
I just updated my website! (er, to include the story that came out two months ago...) But this means that after more than a year, I finally have an FTP program that works on my computer again, so theoretically I can post pictures here as well as on twitter. (For those who are looking for Megatherium pictures & effluvia, it's here) I also rediscovered a set of notes for a thinky post I was going to post months ago, which I might even still be able to reconstruct. (This is still not that post.)

We have achieved potty trained!!! I eventually had to resort to saying that children who pooped in their underwear didn't get read books, which lasted for about three days and then once she actually used the potty I could do the positive reinforcement thing. (And then we had three days of peeing where she stood before I managed to get across that this was not ok either, but we got there, thank goodness.) She's rocking the boy underwear-- we got two day-of-the-week sets with tools on them, which are grand, fit pretty well, and are sturdy enough that she can pull them up by herself. We have our toddler-included preschool orientation night next week, and then jump on in the day after Labor Day. Other people keep expecting the Megatherium to be nervous about it for some reason, but she is quite excited. Other children!! Yay!! One of them lives right down the street from us and was born 4 days after she was, but we haven't caught them at home since we got the class list.

We weathered Pennsic-- first week mainly, as grauwulf's amazing moving work trip to Germany finally settled on the week we were supposed to be on vacation. Her Megatheriosity had a blast after she figured out about tent pegs the hard way and had her eyebrow glued back together. (Fortunately we were camped two blocks from the EMS station, & she's a very good patient-- she spent the rest of the war reminding us that "there's where the water is, and the misting tent, and that's where we went to get my boo-boo fixed." (She named it her boo-boo; the terminology was not adult imposed)) The new camp (Ravenstreet) is full of cooks, which confuses me; I am used to wandering about & buying snacky things or ice cream for lunch, and they have 3 meals a day in camp, but no firepit. Anyway, we're already planning on going for both weeks next year. Though, there was also talk about the Helsinki Worldcon, so we'll see.

We have been escaping the heat (kind of) by visiting mall playgrounds so the Megatherium has something to climb on that isn't me-- she bonded with a slightly-larger boy last week & they played self-initiated hide-and-seek and some run around & jumping games before his adults took him elsewhere; we came out of the mall & she announced that she "wants a boyfriend who lives right down the street from us." (I mentioned child-in-her-preschool-class, but we still haven't met him yet.)

Meanwhile I have been reading Greta Eagan's Wear No Evil-- in the mall, no less, for extra irony. On the whole I like the concept of eco-fashion, but like so many of these things I am not quite the target audience. About half her fashion needs just don't apply to my life, and her basic wardrobe evaluation techniques don't take into account the possibility of making one's own. So my closet is about 90% "eco-fashionable" already, since that's how much of it is either secondhand or made by me (or both, or in a few cases made for me as a gift, or made in USA by independent crafters.) My dresser is mostly split between thrifted and 100% problematic cotton things. So, I guess less buying cheap t-shirts is about where I go from here. Or investigating organic or low-impact dyestuff sewing fabrics. (tho, mostly not buying more fabric for the next year is on my goal list. Gotta sew some of it first!)

I also tore through rereading Rose Daughter the other day and am now wishing that McKinley would write something pastoral with sisters in. All this beast and ancient sorcerer's battles nonsense was getting in the way of the family gossip! (Also, did anyone else find the marriage bit kind of tacked on? I don't think it's explained why this solves anything...) And then I started reading Binti which was very much Not That. Yeah.

Green fashion leads to green beauty stuff, & I've been poking at where to find what (and what beauty products I'm actually interested in, which is mostly not a lot, but it's in the interesting kitchen chemistry sort of field, and maybe when the Megatherium & friends grow into starting to experiment we can do make & take parties?) and also fancy mocktail drinks. Toddler cocktail parties!! (I mean, this is really for me, since I don't like alcohol, but hey, excuses to dress up and stab appetizers with tiny forks! What's not to love?) I got vanilla stevia on someone's pinterest recommendation and while I like having a liquid sweetener where I can dose a whole giant mug of limeade with about 5 drops, I then go and add a teaspoon of vanilla as well. Plus usually using the chilled sun tea in the fridge instead of water. And I'm squeezing my own limes, very glamorous, and nobody else in the family is actually that interested. Whatever. I also got Republic of Tea's vanilla dandelion tea which I quite like.

So, things, as advertised.
thanate: (whirlpool)
My pregnant insomniac meets the Wild Hunt story is up at Beneath Ceaseless Skies today: Mortal Eyes, also with surprise(!) audio edition.

...I guess I need to update my website. *cough*
thanate: (bluehair)
So we're pre-registered for Pennsic in a grauwulf-approved camp (Ravenstreet) and I have sewing to do so that her Megatheriosity has got more than two short tunics and a cloak to her name. Also I get to break out the glorious de Gheyn pattern and swear at it some more (I hate-hate-hate working with Reconstructing History patterns; they are always badly aliased, insufficiently labeled, and full of confusing instructions. Fortunately for this one I've already done a doublet, so I can refer to that for any confusing bits of the cassock, which is what grauwulf wants.)

Meanwhile, the Megatherium continues to fight tooth and nail against potty training, which is going to be a *problem* if we don't sort it out before she's supposed to start pre-school in the fall. Of course if she does actually potty train, I'm going to have to find her some underwear that's not massively too big for her, since the smallest standard size is still too big in the leg holes. I am taking out my frustrations this week by buying books I haven't actually got time to read, all of which will probably arrive when we're out of town for my family reunion. Because of course. Grauwulf is currently asleep on the living room floor because he's done something unfortunate to his back and was convinced he wouldn't be able to sleep, & so couldn't go to bed.

And also Hancock Fabrics is closing. We made a last pilgrimage to pick over the dead whale carcass this afternoon (actually there's still rather a lot there) but I want to wander around waveing my arms and explaining that it's like Borders dying all over again. Also the Jo-Ann in Columbia is always majorly understaffed at the cutting tables.

Apparently I'm cranky. Maybe I should go to bed.
thanate: (bluehair)
I wandered Balticon on Saturday, and do not approve of the new venue (not that anyone asked me...) It's beautifully convenient for me in that I can take the light rail & walk over, but somewhat appalling in terms of parking, and (since I know the inner harbor decently well) I hopped over to the super secret crepe place in the Harborplace mall for lunch (and then they put canned mushrooms in my crepe, eew!, so yeah.) But the venue was slightly smaller than the old hotel, with no lounge space in the con public areas, so if you wanted to mingle either you had to go to the bar or stand around in the hallways, which made for ridiculous crowding. There *were* stairs, but they were super secret service stairs that were hard to find and very narrow between the two floors the con was on, so passing people on them was awkward to problematic, and there was a constant line for the elevators. So while I did get to chat with some people I wanted to see, there were a couple others I waved to once as they rushed by, and some I didn't manage to see at all, and the whole thing was overcrowded, poorly lit, and too loud. Woe.

Anyway, aside from sitting crossly in a hallway & penning some more of my break-up letter from the Bog Goddess to humanity (until my pen ran out of ink), it also occurred to me that I want to read more SF with xenobotany and/or terraforming. I've been doing all this naturalist stuff and learning the weird and still-new or still-being-discovered things about my biome! I'm interested in what other people do with imagined ones.

Things I've read and liked so far include Bujold-- particularly the recent bits with Sergyaran fauna; I loved the concept of investigating entirely unstudied ecosystems-- or the crazy terraforming from the second Steerswoman book. (The third one didn't work for me as well, but partly b/c the whole plot was tangential to the series plot.) I prefer non-awful main characters and to avoid horror/grimdark/dystopia and all that crap.

So far on my radar:
*Janet Kagen's Hellspark (presently sitting next to me!)
*MCA Hogarth, probably starting with Mindtouch

and suggestions from twitter today:
*Elizabeth Moon, Remnant Population
*Nicola Griffith, Ammonite
*Carol Ives Gilman, Dark Orbit
*Julie Czerneda
*Joan Slonczewski

(Partly recorded here so I have a list to refer back to) Anyone else have recs that spring to mind? A little "this book (or story!) is cool/related because it has X" is also appreciated!
thanate: (octopus)
Once again I seem to have managed to let not getting to the long thinky post I meant to make (and even outlined!) prevent me from posting anything else.

The Megatherium, little extrovert that she is, had a brief conversation with a slightly older girl (who happened to share a quite uncommon name with her best friend's mother) at the park today, and then loosely followed her around for the next hour, in that toddler manner of playing or veering off to do something else and then asking me, "Where is my friend?" & heading off to find her. Anyway, the other child was with a group of friends, siblings, & mothers, and so she didn't take particular note of the Megatherium until M gave her a small handful of buttercups and then wandered off again while Other Child was still telling everyone about the flowers.

Three minutes later, she passed the Megatherium again, and they had the following conversation.

Other Child: I know you! You're the one who gave me flowers!
Megatherium: Yes.
Other Child: Why did you give me flowers? [slight pause] Is it because you love me?
Megatherium: Yes! I love you.

...And this was the end of the interaction. M went back to climbing on a dinosaur, & the Other Child set her flowers down on a bench & forgot about them.


We have also reached the stage where cause & effect *almost* makes sense, so she'll run and hide where she can't see me before chewing on things she's not supposed to.

Leap day!

Feb. 29th, 2016 04:28 pm
thanate: (bluehair)
Part of the Megatherium's third birthday presents included refiguring her crib so that the front is open and she can get out of it by herself. (She opted to keep the crib walls, rather than swapping to a Hello Kitty plastic toddler bed, so that the absurd quantities of stuffed animals she keeps in there wouldn't fall out.) She's doing quite well with not hopping up when she's supposed to be sleeping, and has mostly been napping, too. (The new rule is that she's got to stay in bed-- realistically in her room-- for the duration of whatever CD she picks.) But yesterday morning she turned up in my bed at about 7:30 (ten minutes after grauwulf went downstairs) with Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel in tow, demanding that I wake up and read it. This morning she crawled in between us around 6:30.

Mike Mulligan is the latest CD craze; after eight or nine months of Sandra Boynton CDs, she just got an audiobook one that has Mike Mulligan twice (once with steam whistle page turn cues, one without) followed by Katy and the Big Snow, followed by the trolley one I didn't know existed before. So it's a reasonable Mommy-gets-a-break length even if she doesn't nap, but now she wants us to read her about Mike Mulligan last thing before bedtime and first thing in the morning, too. I've put holds on Katy, & the little house one, and the trolley, and something about an engine that runs off without it's train, (the first two I like better, & the second two I don't think I've read) so perhaps there will be some variety.

But in any case, my plans for 6:30 in the morning did not include being crawled over by a book-carrying toddler (and subsequently also the cat.) And then we went to the zoo, where we walked around in the windy 60-degree sun for several hours, saw all the things, and I actually sold the Megatherium on going up to another little girl and introducing herself instead of running after her and wondering why she wasn't making friends. Progress, of a sort. The other child's mother said they just got a membership, so perhaps we'll even see her again.

Meanwhile, I have been wandering around fuzzy-headed and feeling the need for better calibration as to whether I'm out of focus because I used it all, because my chemistry is out of alignment (which comes in several causal flavors), or just because I'm out of practice and need to do the "just do the thing" thing. There have been moments when I had that at least partly figured out, but this month doesn't seem to have included any of them.
thanate: (Default)
Fair warning: this post is me complaining about how modern/American/pop- culture does exercise. Also my brain is set on extra lazy/abstracted this weekend, so there may be a bit of weird shorthand.

In these enlightened days when large proportions of the workforce earn their money mostly by sitting or standing still, exercise is sold as a marketable commodity. You perform it as a duty by going to the gym (for which you pay money!) or buying a machine specifically to exercise upon... which is a pretty poor substitute intellectually for hunting or building or carrying things or just walking all day in the course of your activities. The idea that exercise is an end unto itself for which you should pay money has always seemed like a terrible idea to me. Or to put it the other way, if you're not enjoying it and you're not accomplishing anything with it, why?

Now there are some legitimate things to get out of gym-style exercise: addressing particular health concerns can be worth performing a type of exercise you don't like in and of itself. Combining boring-but-personally-useful exercise with TV or audio can make two experiences that only take part of your attention into a better use of time. Specific exercises can be worth it to improve your ability to do something else you really enjoy. I'm sure there are other things I don't remember or haven't run into. But these take a particular sort of time and willpower that I'm pretty short on just now.

I've been thinking about children's games, and how many of them are effectively interval training. One of the Megatherium's favorite activities this week is to climb up on her toy box, step to the steamer trunk next to it, jump from there to the couch, and then leap off onto the exercise mat. She's made this loop probably upwards of a hundred times since she came up with it a few days ago. I remember turning on the demo mode for the electric keyboard and making a circuit of the living room furniture with my brother, leaping from chair to couch. (The music was important, I think, but not for any explicable reason.) Things like hop scotch and throwing balls around can be excellent exercise as well as fun, though some of the kid-style games age better for those in later developmental stages than others do.

But the thing is, if you're at a point of thinking it would be a good idea to get more exercise because you've been insufficiently motivated to do so thus far, a gym membership is probably not the way to go. The input energy is too great to overcome the inertia (and in my case dislike of gyms...)

So I've been contemplating what's fun; what is a thing I want to do for its own sake, that also provides better activity levels than I normally get on my own. I've got a couple categories of answers. There are toddler-enrichment things. (Go to the zoo! I will always get my 10k steps on zoo days, but it's weather dependent, and requires a mostly-free day. We also play some leaping around games at home, but they're sporadic.) There are things that require groups of people or at least partners and scheduling. (Contra dancing is fun! I've done very little of it b/c schedules & leaving the house... Fencing, rock climbing-- I miss climbing *so much* but not enough to network & schedule & drive to the (rather expensive) climbing gym.) And there are things you can do solo, or in a class group, or in a simulated group. (Yoga, Zumba, Jazzercise! Ok, I'm a little scared of jazzercise as a concept, but it looks like it could be fun?)

Someday it'll be spring-like, and then I need to get outside and muck about in the garden, which counts for applied exercise, or it'll be warm enough to go take a walk after bedtime. (Grauwulf has been doing this anyway, but it's too cold for me.)

Mostly we've been throwing balls around and playing pretend hop scotch. And I joined the Megatherium in a few of her toybox/couch jumping circuits. It was kind of fun.
thanate: (bluehair)
One of the interesting things about mentally decompressing from a not so helpful place* is that I'm rediscovering a lower grade of failure modes. I no longer want to sit on the kitchen floor and cry (yay!) but I feel utterly no incentive to get up in the morning. (Once I get moving, I'm fine, but the bed-gravity is strong, and not assisted by the cat lurking, ready to climb onto my lap the moment I sit up.) I'm sleeping better, but have had a couple nights of clenching my jaw in my sleep. Stuff like that. It's peculiar.

The Megatherium is bipping along, mostly unsick (finally!) but now she's going off afternoon napping and getting her NO on. (No means no except for toddlers, for whom it might mean anything; we're presently getting nos as she does the thing she's saying no about.) The house is full of imaginary friends-- half the time she's talking to someone else, who might be Cowgirl Kate (when she's not being Cowgirl Kate; it goes back and forth a lot), or Frances, or some other book character, or her hands or feet might be having a conversation. Usually they'll be arguing with each other. ("Can we come in? No! Ok, then, we'll go home. No, you can come in.") On the occasions when her silly parent butts in (there are sometimes longish pauses in the conversation where I can ask things like, "Who's going home?") she will stare blankly at me for a minute before answering. ("My left foot." [subtext: why are you asking me weird questions, Mommy?]) Although it was grauwulf who was solioquising loudly to the kitchen cabinets by way of complaining about work when she came up to him and said very seriously, "Don't do anything odd, Daddy."

The most recent thing is a pair of little red traffic cones (probably from the little people parking garage) that she asked permission to liberate from her grandma's house yesterday, and she's been carrying them around upside down and pretending to fill them up with ice cream ever since. The box of fake pearl necklaces also recently came to light-- there was a spate of putting them on & insisting that she wanted "to dress up in high heels and nightgowns!" and have a ball. I explained the difference between a nightgown and a ball gown, at which point she gave up the adjective entirely. (I think she got the concept out of Christina Katerina and the Box, a picture book I highly recommend to anyone inclined towards that level of literature.)

We finally went to see the new Star Wars movie before grauwulf left the country, since we both managed to be free on a day my mother was up to look after the Megatherium. Egregious conservation of mass & orbital rotation issues aside,** I thought it did pretty well with appropriate Star Wars-y feel. Totally with TexAnne about wanting Maz merch. <3 the quirky old lady whose ruleset splits the difference between my grandmother and my toddler. I hope someone helped her put her temple back together. (Leia continues to be that cool lady who's about 20 years older than I am. Huh.)

*I read an article recently that mentioned apparently the spacey/non-hyperactive (usually female & late onset-- tho not always, as my brother's had it pretty much forever) kind of ADD is pretty closely linked with depression/anxiety. Not only because apparently the popular image is of the hyperactive sort which leads to non-diagnosis. And yeah, that kind of is the crux of my problems with toddler parenting; the Megatherium is at the best of times a decision fatigue vector, and my brain burns out on that sort of thing a lot faster than many peoples' do.

**I might have leaned over and muttered, "...so they just kind of moved the sun over?"
thanate: (Default)
Well, we haven't got the cold where you don't cough up enough ick and get bronchitis or pneumonia. But we have got the one where the toddler never gives up coughing, and that was the *last* one. Mostly on the recovery side now, tho, and I even managed to shovel out a parking space for my mother to come up for grandma day without coughing my lungs out.

And now grauwulf is off to Japan (Tokyo-ish) and Hawaii (Oahu) for a week and a half. (Mostly work, several days vacation because once you're already there.)

Does anyone have recommendations for what one ought particularly to go see? He's interested in tech-geekery, history, nature/geology, and dusting off his scuba certs. Or that awesome thing that nobody thinks to ask about. Anyone? (Or, what should I ask him to bring back? A Sanrio outlet has already been located for toddler shopping.)
thanate: (Default)
I just finished rereading Diana Wynne Jones's Enchanted Glass, and continue to be a little bit "Wow, how did she get away with that?" about a couple things. It's a kid's book, with two POV protagonists, and the first one we meet is 30. The 12-year-old doesn't even get introduced for a few chapters.

I've been thinking about this for a while, partly because we go through so many picture books at the moment, and a bunch of the early-reader levels in between full-sized picture books and real no-illustrations chapter books. There are a lot of picture books about kids, or animate toys, or animals both anthropomorphized and not, but there's also a reasonable subset that's about adults. Some of it is expectation setting (here are ways to be when you grow up), some of it is adults doing silly things so the kids can feel superior, some of it is folklore retellings. But it's there; you have books where the identification character is all grown up.

The early reader books that we've had so far are a little more kid-skewed (Cowgirl Kate's parents are referred to a few times, but portrayed in one flashback illustration), but there are preschool-friendly versions of adult franchises (so far we have avoided easy reader Avengers and Star Wars, and also the girl-target equivalents, though the most grown-up of those is Barbie.) And there's Cynthia Rylant/Arthur Howard's lovely Mr Putter & Tabby series, full of mundane adventures about a stodgy old guy and his cat, and their enthusiastic new-thing-loving old lady neighbor Mrs Teaberry & her "good" dog Zeke. Also some folklore.

And then we get to mid-grade, and I can't think of anything else with adult POV. A bunch of proto-YA (Mercedes Lackey, some earlier Robin McKinley, the stuff we read in the 80s/early 90s) has teen-to-adult transitions or 20-somethings. I can think of a couple technicalities (a character who starts off identified as 15, but it turns out to be more complicated...), some older love-interests, and there's a lot I haven't read. Am I missing anything? Is this a marketing category thing, or assumed kid disinterest thing, or what? Do you have to be DWJ to get away with having a full adult main character in a kids' book?

Now I'm curious.
thanate: (bluehair)
So the Megatherium spent most of a month insisting that she was Cowgirl Kate (from the Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa books-- very generic modern cow herding, ranch, & horse care things, plus a talking horse that's part mustang & part little brother) and I got her 5 of the books for Christmas, and she insisted we check out the 6th one from the library (Horse in the House, which I like the least, hence why I didn't buy it) and then after having it read to her five times a day for a couple days she's moved on to the Princess in Black.

There are two Princess in Black books so far (the second subtitled "and the Perfect Princess Party") which are basically the Zorro myth recast for 21st century little girls. Perfect pink-garbed Princess Magnolia runs to the broom cupboard and dons a black costume and mask when called upon to fight potentially goat-eating monsters. No attempt is made to explain *why* secrecy is necessary except that "Princesses don't wear black," but they're cute and fun, very light-hearted and neither prose nor illustrations take themselves at all seriously, and the second book includes a lovely cast of global princesses. These are also the very politest goat-denied monsters you will ever meet.

After three days of reading these over and over, the Megatherium has announced that she will be the Cowgirl in Pink and assist with fighting monsters. Jesse Bear (from Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?) can come too, she says.

(Meanwhile, I am secretly wishing for an alternate ending on the second book where Princess Sneezwort-- a charming & slightly dusky everygirl with glasses and pink chucks-- discovers Magnolia's secret and says, "Oh, we had one of those doors to Monster Land. I boarded it up ages ago." and we subsequently discover that *all* the other princesses have been secretly fighting crime and not telling anyone because this didn't occur to anyone else.)

How to food

Jan. 3rd, 2016 03:48 pm
thanate: (octopus)
One of my Adult Competency Failure Modes is food. (On the one hand, I'm cross that a species with climate control & solar panels & ridiculous conspicuous consumption items like light-up toddler shoes hasn't sorted out a workaround for having to eat yet. On the other, biology: all the so far proposed workarounds for food work far less well than the real thing. So, whatever.)

Anyway, I have good food-and-laziness systems for when I remember them: these are easy, usually take a maximum of 30 minutes input time, and don't dirty a lot of dishes. I also tend to forget most of them under stress, and Grauwulf gets all cross when I don't have a *name* for what I'm making for dinner. So this is a how-to post, but also intended as a brainstorming post: please comment with ways you food! Or spins you'd put on these that maybe I haven't thought of!

Basics )

Pasta and )

Other stovetop things )

these things take a little longer to cook )

I used to do tuna noodle casserole, which is stove (for the egg noodles) & microwave. Cream of soup, a couple cans drained tuna (carnivore pets love the water), bell peppers go well here. Add some pickle juice or olives or a splash of vinegar. Heat all the other bits in a big microwave-safe casserole dish (I know, you can just call it a casserole, but I still think that's food) & add the noodles when they're done. Cook it a little more; basically you're just going for all the way warm. I don't like tuna, but I like this.

Any curry or other meat & veggie dish that you can put over rice can also be served over pancakes. My mother does this sometimes. (Pancakes are awesome! Do people want to read about pancakes?)

Waffles or pancakes (with pecans in!) with plain yogurt and maple syrup almost feels like a meal. You can serve them with fruit, too.

Leftover rice with (rinsed) black beans and coconut milk and maybe nuts in makes a decadent breakfast/snack with shades of that sticky rice & black bean dessert I always get at Thai restaurants. This is another thing I freeze in 1 cup portions for times of comfort food. (don't freeze the nuts, just add them after you've reheated.)

Remember the adage my father used to quote about "If you like it, it goes." The important thing about feeding a household is finding the intersection of your likes, and remembering what other things to pull out when a particular person isn't joining you that day.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Favorites?
thanate: (bluehair)
A few years ago, I put out peanut feeders and only got native birds. Then I added sunflower seeds in hopes of seeing something else, and while I do occasionally get goldfinches (yay!) I also get all the house finches (invasives from the other coast) & house sparrows (little english jobbies that are now invasive just about everywhere). They even come to the peanut feeders.

We refilled the peanut feeder on the deck on Christmas, and there were cold puffy sparrows mobbing it this afternoon, and then I looked out and discovered that one of them had got his head stuck in the hook that holds the feeder onto the porch. I have no idea how, but his neck slid too far down between two 1/2" steel bars, & he was futilely pushing with both feet and a wing trying to get out.

I was on the phone with my mother at the time, so I lifted him back out one-handed, told him he was an idiot, and did not attempt to put the phone down to snap his neck (the textbook recommended form of most humane sparrowcide.) He was very polite about it, too; not visibly afraid, just stared up at the big scary creature who was holding his entire body in one hand, and then fluttered down to the ground long enough to straighten out his flight feathers before departing.

I'm still both utterly amazed at the idiocy, and trying to decide if not dispatching a sparrow while I had the chance is compromising my principles or not. On the one hand, invasive bird gangs; on the other, killing things shouldn't be comfortable.
thanate: (Default)
I have a vague recollection I posted something about new year goals being to clean the toilets more often last year? Which I've done; having a toddler who doesn't *always* follow one into the bathroom helps there. (Independent play is a marvelous thing! Now she needs more friends...)

Slightly more ambitious goals for this year. depression, things to do about it )

So, goals!
*Exercise more consistently. I'm not sure what this looks like yet, but have some ideas to try.

*Post here, ideally at least once a week or so? I miss journaling.

*Write at least 3 sentences of fiction, at least any day I don't journal. This may go up if I get back into the swing of things, but this was working pretty well at the beginning of December, so we start back there.

*Have friends. (Correspond, get together with people, possibly find a knitting group or something?? I mean, not that I ever knit. Maybe quilters...? Anyway, I want to have craft days! And tea parties! And go to cons with writer-friends! There has got to be some way to make a little of this happen, even if it's only a few times a year. Sitting here wanting is not it.)

*Enjoy parenting more. We tried co-playing Boom Blocks a couple weeks back, which would have worked better if the Megatherium's hands had been big enough to hold the wiimote & press buttons at the same time, but then I coaxed her outside for a walk the next day by saying we could wander around the neighborhood scouting for things that, were we playing Boom Blocks, we could knock over with the bowling ball. (She wanted to throw pretend bombs at people's houses, but that seemed like a bad idea.) So, this kind of thing: co-operative world exploration & inventing silly games. (also, if anyone has suggestions for toddler-friendly wii games-- I made her a wii fit profile, & lied about her age to get her on, since you can't play if you're under 3, and she liked the balance board, but so far the ordinary controller is just not quite there yet. Maybe something where she can steer with the nunchuck while I point & click at things?)

*Accomplish at least one ridiculously overdue task a week. (Perhaps starting with passports for me & the Megatherium; also wills, though I admit I still have no one even to ask about literary executorship, so I'll theoretically have to do that again later. But making sure that if horrible things happen to grauwulf & me the Megatherium goes to her "and Grandma is my third parent!" rather than the side of the family that doesn't believe in education is something we should have done years ago.) Things of a less bureaucratic and monumental nature are also fair game.
thanate: (bluehair)
One day there will be posts with real content. (I never did the capclave roundup, either; most of it was the Megatherium sending me off with several pieces of advice including the classic: "Don't throw up in the car, Mommy!" and the nagging question of whether if people come up to you after a panel to say they appreciated your comments it's more praise of you or frustration with other people on the panel. But overall good, & there are at least some cons where I've reached critical mass & spend more time chatting with people than wandering about all lost-like.)

Anyway, we did toddler bestickered hallowe'en cards, and I have located (mostly) non-horrible holiday stickers in large assortments, and so I was going to send some holiday cards this year, only after three years of not getting to it, I don't even know who I send cards to. Or who I *want* to send cards to, anyway.

Does anyone want a silly card with stickers on every-which-a-way? (If so, have I got your address?)

Some day perhaps I will draw tarot-style cards. (last year's would have been "Drowning in Babydolls" for the Megatherium, "The Shark who ate Santa" for grauwulf, but I don't remember what one I had. "Festival of Lights" maybe.)
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