wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
The news, when I got up today, left me feeling pretty depressed about the human race, and about this country in particular. But I'm feeling better now.

You see, a friend of mine has a kid in grade school, and the school also has a small transgender child. To help the students understand that child's transition, the school planned to have a reading of I Am Jazz, a book by a transgender child, Jazz Jennings, and co-author Jessica Herthel. Then a Florida-based hate group threatened to sue the Wisconsin school district and the event was cancelled. So far, there's nothing in my story to speak of rekindled hope. But the local high school discussed the issue, and some of those students decided to hold a public reading of the book at their flagpole at 7:30 a.m. I heard that over two hundred people attended that reading, despite the dreadfully early hour and Wisconsin-in-December weather.

I wasn't there, of course. But in addition to that event, parents of students actually attending the school in question arranged for a public reading at the local library in the evening. My Angel and I decided to go. We really didn't know what to expect, but we've both dealt with protesters in the past and we figured if there was unpleasantness, a tall obviously transgender woman with practice dealing with that kind of stuff would be a better foil for protesters than small kids or the parents whose first job is to protect said kids.

We drove from Milwaukee to attend, a drive of about two hours, extended a bit by rush hour and by some traffic incidents. The library was totally packed by the time we arrived. The street leading up to the library was lined with cars parked bumper-to-bumper. A tall, gangly police woman gave us a startled look and then a smile as we walked in.

Jazz' co-author had flown in with only a single day's notice to do the reading herself, and both the reading and the brief talk afterward were well received. There was a community room for people to make "Jazz hands" and glue them to posters to voice their support for the child making the transition, and there were copies of the book to be given to anyone there who wanted to get a signed copy. There were cookies--though the organizers admitted they had underestimated how many people would attend. Based on the number of chairs and the additional number of people packed into the various areas around the seating, my friend guessed they had over 500 people in that little library.

There was not even a single protester inside or outside. There were no ugly chants, no one interrupted the presenters, everyone was polite, and there were a lot of smiles. There were people of all ages, and lots of little kids. There were smiles and people holding kids' homemade construction paper signs of support for the little transgender child in their community. And not a single person gave My Angel a judgmental look or word.

Not one.

Wow.

There's a lot in this world that needs to be changed. There's still a lot of prejudice and hatred. But we can make meaningful and substantive changes for the better. This evening was just a little bit of the proof of that.



wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
When I was a kid I loved fall. Lovely, beautiful leaves, harvesting whatever I managed to grow over the summer, a chance to dress up, to dream past the narrow paths thought safe for a schoolgirl.

Now, I'm not so fond of fall. It means the season of asthma-exacerbation and ice-underfoot is coming. But now that Facebook is showing me my posts from years past, I see how much of it is really about my personal experience of the season--fall is cold/flu/bronchitis/sinus infection season, rather than just anticipation of winter. I don't post about being sick much, because it's boring and really, when I feel crappy, I want to come online to be distracted from it. But still, there've been an awful lot of posts lately from however many years ago that mention me being sick.

It would tempt me to just be a hermit until the new year, except this is also the season of OVFF, Windycon, Chambanacon, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and inevitably additional chances to spend time with my blood and chosen family. And there's never enough of those.

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
I've been thinking of checking out #FutureChat on twitter for a while now. Today, I was finally at my computer during the chat. I'm sorry to say I was disappointed.

The people seemed interesting enough, but when I tweeted a polite hello and a friendly question about the chat in general, no one responded. I waited a few minutes, then asked if my Tweet had gone through. Still no response. Finally, I tweeted a goodbye. I know that one got through, since someone not actively involved in the conversation favorited it.

The lack of a welcome seemed especially odd since the topic of the day was using social media to reach more readers.

So, much as I'd like to find a new chat now that #sffwrtcht has been retired, I can't recommend #futurechat. That makes me sad.

But today is Friday, so #SciFiChat is happening later, and that will be fun. It always is.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
So, I've been thinking about this mass-shooting thing.

There's a few things I think are self-evident, that apparently aren't.

1. I have a lot of friends who own guns, and who have shown me every evidence of being responsible gun owners.
2. I have a lot of friends who do not own guns, who have also shown evidence of being responsible people.
3. I think that all of my friends are good people. In fact, I think most humans are good people.
4. I think demonizing gun owners and demonizing gun non-owners are both bad things.
5. I think we all agree that mass shootings in peacetime are terrible, whether they happen in schools or malls or places of employment or homes or parks or any other place.
6. I think it is morally bankrupt to say, "So, America has more mass shootings than anywhere else in the world, excepting only places actively at war, and I'm OK with that. Let's keep everything exactly the same and watch the killings and their aftermath on the nightly news." (I also think it is morally bankrupt to act like it's OK while saying it's terrible. Doing nothing is, essentially, acting like it's OK.)
7. I do not think any of my friends are morally bankrupt. In specific, I do not think responsible gun owners are morally bankrupt.

Therefore, I believe the gun owners and gun non-owners in this country can find a common moral ground to address this terrible problem.

I know we cannot eliminate all murder or even all mass shootings. But look at the numbers! Mass shootings in this country have gone from rare to commonplace. That is evidence that we, as a society, have screwed up!

Perhaps we need to shift the conversation from "guns" to "violence". What makes a person more likely to be violent? How can we address the things that make a person (whether otherwise mentally healthy or mentally ill) more likely to be violent?

Another thing to look at is responsibility and awareness of consequences. What makes a person able or unable to behave responsibly? What prevents a person from being aware of consequences to his behavior? Maybe more importantly, what makes a person stop caring about consequences?

Empathy is important too--punishment doesn't stop crime, we have more people in jail than ANY other country in the world, and we still have plenty of crime. But a person realizing in the moment that his or her behavior will hurt somebody else, and caring enough to not want to do that--I've seen that stop a lot of people from acting on an angry impulse.

But addressing these basic lifestyle issues is hard--a lot harder than chanting pro- or anti-gun slogans.

But we have, over and over, led the world in succeeding at doing hard things. And we are not a morally bankrupt people.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
The news today had a story of a beautiful house that burned. The local police chief said the fire was hottest in an area where there was a TV and computers, and he is ruling it an accidental electrical fire.

It feels like the shadow of a personal alternate history at the moment.

You see, when I woke up, the snakes' terrarium was dark. This isn't good--reptiles are cold-blooded, and we use heat lamps to avoid burning their skin since they don't have the reflexes to get off the nice warm spot if it gets too hot. My first thought was that a fuse had blown. Several trips up and down the stairs from second floor to basement and consulting the "map" for what's on which circuit convinced us that wasn't the case. But there was no power to anything plugged into the surge suppressor.

The next hypothesis was that the surge suppressor had blown. I'd put the surge suppressor there because the terrarium is way too big to let us access the outlet without moving it away from the wall, and with a couple of nails I could plug things in off to the side of the terrarium. Much more convenient! And it's an old house. A little extra isolation between my electronics and the house might be a good thing during a thunderstorm, right?

So we pulled the terrarium away from the wall and put a different surge suppressor (one I'd been using as an extension cord in my office) there. We started plugging things in and cheered--they worked. Well, all but one. Ok, we have replacement bulbs. That didn't help. OK, the lamp itself was dead;they're designed to screw together around a satellite-dish-shaped metal shade, to aim the heat into the enclosure. I unscrewed the parts and found that the had suffered a catastrophic failure, hot enough to turn the modern insulation in the ceramic bit to ash.

I am very glad indeed that I was using a surge suppressor there instead of a simple extension cord. All we lost was the doomed lamp and one surge suppressor--and a surge suppressor's highest honor is to die in the line of duty. The still perfect-looking shade is in the cabinet until we buy a new heat lamp for it, the plastic terrarium is quite unscorched, the snakes were more disturbed by us moving their home around than the potential disaster, and the electric lines in the house were protected from the surge.

So, I'm feeling lucky. Also, the clouds cleared so we could watch the eclipse and the Cubs' season isn't over yet. Maybe we'll get to read how Harry Dresden banished the curse on the Cubs this year! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
So we went back to the pharmacy today to get the remainder of the prescription for Mystique that they had to give us a partial fill for, and the one that they said wasn't due yet. And got two partial prescriptions--the rest of the one, and five days of the next one. So now we have to go back yet again, even though they knew three days ago that we would be wanting to fill it today. But apparently the computer doesn't check inventory for a thing until the insurance will pay for it, so (the pharmacist explained) the fact that we told them we wanted to pick up the medication today didn't matter, because they didn't know they didn't have enough of it until we got there to find that they hadn't even tried to fill it until we were waiting at the window. Oh yeah, apparently telling them three days ago that we wanted the pills today didn't even get them to schedule filling it, the computer's not set up for that either.

The whole point, for me, of getting three months' prescriptions is that I can sit down and fill a month or more worth of weekly things all at once, when I'm rested and focused, and be sure they're right. 5 days worth (the most Walgreens will give if they have to give a partial) wouldn't let me fill even one week.

The things that work, more or less, when someone takes one or two pills a day just aren't functional for someone who has to take a lot of pills.

*sigh*

At least I don't need to set up all the meds today, and I can hope they'll get the rest of the pills in tomorrow.

In better news, I'm trying to train the kitten to play fetch. She actually brought the crinkly toy to me three times in a row. Now, she's looking from my hand to the toy, but not bringing me the toy. Was the run of three an accident? Or is she getting the idea, but also getting tired? Only time will tell.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
So, there I was, happily writing on the current novel, when I realized we had to leave right away (in the middle of a climactic scene!) or we'd miss Mystique​'s doctor appointment. The sun was shining, the cats were playing, and all was well with the world. Well, the outer world. In the world of the novel, all was definitely not well, and was quickly getting worse. I was excited to see how things would play out, and my fingers were flying on the keyboard.

Oh, well, no help for it but to get up and go. Good doctors are like mothers. The more you reliably show up when they want to see you, the easier it is to convince them that there is a real emergency when one happens.

So then it was drive and drive and wait and wait and see the nice doctor (who really is a nice woman) and talk about all the routine boring things that people with chronic illness have to talk to their doctors about.

After that, a quick stop at the natural foods store that is just a couple of blocks from the doctor's office (well, that was the plan). This trip was mostly for my food, so a "quick stop" meant reading all the ingredients (in temporal duplicate) to make very sure there's nothing in the food that I'm allergic to and none of the manufacturers have changed their recipes. Then get in line. Wait and wait. Tell the checker that the fruit isn't black or red plums, it's pluots. Pack stuff into the bags we brought. Then to the pharmacies.

Oh, but first, rush hour traffic. Drive and wait, drive and wait, and then drive and wait some more. I've read that some people plan out their novels while driving; I don't know how they can do that. I'm just fine with talking on my cell phone (hand-free) while driving. That isn't more distracting to me than talking to someone who's physically in the car. But plotting novels? I tried it once, and I got so very, very lost. I do zone out while reading, and apparently also while writing, even the purely mental part of the process. Being totally uninterested in experiencing an automobile accident first-hand, I'm not trying that one again. So, when the rush hour traffic devolved into coast and brake, coast and brake, over and over and OVER again, all it did was waste time.

Then the pharmacies. (Wait--I said that already, and now you're wondering about the plurality.) One pharmacy has a pharmacist who's very helpful, but a computer system that loses one of the doctors' prescriptions. They're not perfect; the pharmacist has been unable to get one of my medicines for over a month, unless I want to buy the brand name at full price instead of the generic with the help of my insurance (though if I was completely out of it, they might approve me making a copay for the brand name at this point). But the nice pharmacist is working on that. The other pharmacy gets the one doctors' prescriptions reliably, but is less helpful in other ways. Happily, Mystique's insurance will cover prescriptions at both locations (unlike mine).

Recently, Mystique's insurance suggested she move to getting most of her meds on a three-month basis instead of every month. That's a good thing, except there seems to always be one or another prescription that gets filled for one month, either due to pharmacy error or a doctor's error in filling out the electronic prescription form, which apparently defaults to a one month prescription. So, go to one place, wait while they fix the one that was filled for only one month, then to the other to find out they didn't fill all of the prescriptions, only about half, so we'll have to wait a half hour while they do their thing. While waiting, get a call from the first place that one of the bottles didn't get put back into the bag when they were fixing the one filled for 30 days instead of 90. Circle back to get the missing bottle, then back again to get the last of the prescriptions, but one of the newly filled prescriptions was only filled for one month! *sigh* How on earth do people who are too sick to think straight or who just lack mental spoons manage?

Eventually, we got home to put groceries away and figure out dinner, and I was very pleased that my reusable cloth bag collection includes a couple of insulated zippered things designed for carrying cooked or cooled stuff to parties or picnics. The stuff we got frozen at the grocery store was still frozen when we finally arrived home.

The cats, who think we should stay home and pet, play with, and feed them on demand all day, were not impressed.



Now I'm yawning, a reminder that I need to make an appointment to try on CPAP masks, since I lost enough weight that the one I've been using isn't fitting so well any more. But it's too late to do that today!

And my poor characters, who are in the middle of confronting the faceless opponent who has been causing them misery for many chapters now, are likely to stay that way until tomorrow. Hang in there, folks, you'll figure it out, I have faith in you.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
I went to a memorial service on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, and a beautiful service, but it’s hard to write about. It wasn’t someone I was close to, though only because we hadn’t met until recently. I liked him. I knew he was gay and that he enjoyed dancing, though he wasn’t graceful or strong. I knew he was having hard times, since he volunteered for a while at the Habitat for Humanity Restore to have something current on his resume. He was also Hispanic, and suffered from mental illness.

He died because he got drunk and upset one night and took out a decorative sword and someone called the police. Neighbors said they heard 6 or 7 shots. The police said they told him repeatedly to put down the weapon. They said they feared for their lives, though none of the articles I read or TV reports I heard claimed he was attacking the officers or any other person.

I thought of him as a skinny kid, though he was in his 20s. He always struck me as being kind and gentle. I have a very hard time imagining him, holding a sword, as a credible threat against two police officers with guns. He didn’t have either the self-confidence or grace that comes from martial arts training.

I think about the number of friends I have who have swords, people who have had them in hand while drunk and upset, and lived to see the dawn (and suffer the hangover).

I think about the fact that his neighbors reported so many shots. How many bullets can you possibly need to stop one skinny drunk guy from endangering anybody else with an antique, decorative sword? Were these police officers trained at all in de-escalating situations? Did they have any training in how to identify and deal with a person who has mental illness? Did they do anything but bark orders and shoot?

There’s so much I don’t know about what happened. I don’t even know why he was upset.

But I can’t help but think that if he had been white and straight he would still be alive today.

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
It's hot out tonight, and the new kitten is delighted that a moth has found its way in through the window that lets the cats play on the second floor porch. While it's leaping around, trying to catch the moth, I'm sitting here pondering memory, fandom, the nature of proof and the various qualities of internet bullies.

Back in High School, I had a best friend. We talked about everything, even the classes we didn’t share and the books we didn’t both read. Maybe especially those things. We certainly read and loved most of the same stories, each of us lending books to the other. While we shared a similar taste in fiction, it wasn’t identical. There were certain books that were very popular at the time that she enjoyed, but I didn't. After talking with her, I felt blessed that I could properly understand fannish conversations about those books without devoting my limited free time to finishing them. (You don't, after all, have to read an entire book to be certain it's not to your taste.)

It being High School, there were also opportunities to do things like compete for scholarships. One of these competitions was a SAT-like test that included a lot of questions about topics not well-covered in the average high school class, and one of this college's concentrations was philosophy. I scored very high on that test and was offered a small partial scholarship to the sponsoring college. The thing is, I didn’t take even one philosophy course in high school. I didn’t read any of the texts. But because my friend did, and because she enthusiastically talked about how foolish this or that dude was and why, I knew the answers to the philosophy questions on that test.

Now, you say, that’s all very well and good, but what does it matter? Why am I blogging about a long-ago test for a scholarship that I didn't accept because it wouldn’t have covered travel costs to and from the distant college?

Well, you see, there’s these trolls on Twitter who have claimed that I am a liar etc. etc. etc. They assume that I must not have read read certain Hugo nominees because, when asked to name a character in a Castalia Press-published story, I interrupted my work on my WIP to say that I didn't want to play trivia games.

I could simply laugh off the trolls. I'm female and my partner is transgender, so there's no way I could avoid being lumped with the SJWs, after all. But I also heard someone at Worldcon suggesting giving a simple “test” to see if a person had actually read all the nominees as a requirement for voting.

Now, having entertained myself at many convention parties by quietly listening to fans argue passionately about what really happened in one or another book or TV show, I have to say that any such test is inherently flawed. I have heard people argue about the names of characters, the sequence of events, who said what, and even how stories ended. People’s brains work very differently. Some remember names well, others can describe every detail of how the characters dressed, others analyze the plot and ridicule plot holes, others can recount dialogue in detail, and so on.

Forgetting an author’s or character’s name is not proof a person didn’t read something. And the offer of that scholarship (or if you discount my personal experience, the existence of Cliffs Notes) shows that knowledge about a writer's work isn't proof that a person did read it.

As to the bullies--nah. I have better things to do than write about them.

I'll just say that having gotten to sample so much of the output of Castalia House this year in the Hugo voter packet, based on the qualities of the content, I am not the least bit tempted to send any of my money that way in the future. (And no, I am not going to review or discuss those stories. While I enjoy writing reviews of stories I loved when time and energy allows, I have no interest in putting down other writers by publicly panning their work just because I didn't like it.)

Your tastes may differ from mine. That's all right. I never thought that I had to agree with all of my friends about whether a book is worth reading, much less whether it is worthy of an award.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
So I got up last week and wanted to wear shorts and something sleeveless (but not one of my fringed t-shirts, which are fun, but not so much when I'm out with garden snips). The urge to shorts was prompted by the fact that controlling blood sugar has led to a somewhat thinner me, enough so that my skirts that used to be out of the way now are loose enough to hang low on my hips and be in danger of being stepped on going up stairs or trying to use a large shovel. (Also, cutting all the gluten and corn out of my diet means I'm not always afraid that putting on something that's tight around my belly will end up being painful or exacerbating gastrointestinal discomfort. I still love skirts and dresses, but other things are less likely to be uncomfortable now.)

Now, I could do a bit of sewing and put new waistbands on the skirts, but that takes time and is only worth the effort on skirts that I plan to wear for something more fun than digging up weed trees, painting my porch, and pulling smaller weeds. So I got in the car and drove to the thrift store, where I gathered a bag of cool things (some cool in terms of summer comfort only, and others cool in terms of being styles I am very pleased to wear. I then came home, my head full of images of the kinds of clothes that I can now fit into or will soon be able to fit into if I keep losing weight, and attacked my closet, pulling out quite a few things that are now too big and relegating them to a new destiny, that of being heartlessly abandoned at the thrift store.

It's not as if I didn't know, before, that I had reached a size where a lot of the fun clothes I love just weren't made in my size, but that knowledge didn't inspire me to eat differently.

You know, I always would have told you that I cared more about my brains than my looks, but didn't realize the proof would be so easily acquired once a doctor told me I had blood sugar problems and I realized (by changing my diet drastically in the weeks before I could get a new primary doc and get that treated medically) that the high blood sugar was affecting my higher brain function. I am writing more now, because my brain is once again holding all the bits needed to shape a story properly; heck, I can even see the difference in my facebook comments!

I'm well aware of the dangers of diabetes--I have a friend whose mantra in the gym, repeated rhythmically, is, "I want to keep my feet." Not getting the blood sugar under control is not an option if I want to continue to be able to walk and do art and see. But bringing it down had an unexpected and immediate effect on my mental acuity that (in my mind) trumped all of those other things. Now, when I look at simple carbs, it's a lot like looking at wheat and corn--when I feel tempted, I think of the results of eating the way I used to and the temptation vanishes. I do sometimes feel sad, but not tempted. I have no doubt at all that it's not worth the consequences. That never happened when I looked at cute dresses and thought it would be nice to be thinner so I could wear them. I guess I have my priorities!

But that doesn't keep me from enjoying packing away all the fat lady dresses (wait--where did that phrase come from? Oh, never mind, it's apt enough, and I'm not judging anybody, not even my former self) into plastic grocery bags and then into the trunk of my car. It also doesn't keep me from feeling glee at going through the old clothes I couldn't fit into but couldn't bear to get rid of (after washing the attic mustiness away) and finding I fit into clothes that haven't been seen on my body since before I became a Mom. Some of those are going into the trunk too, but a lot are going into drawers or my closet so I can enjoy them again.

And as I look at all of the clothes, I'm seeing them differently in other ways too. All the drab office casual stuff that served as a work costume, telling people I was competent and serious and professional, all that can go now, since I'm aiming to be a totally different kind of professional, one where a drab disguise isn't necessary. Not that I wasn't professional and competent and taking people's legal issues seriously, of course I was--and still am--all of those things. But I am so much more than that, and there's joy in embracing that as well.

Later this week, after I finish going through the stuff I dragged down from the attic, I'll take a trunkload (or more--the trunk is nearly full already) of stuff to the thrift store. I hope those clothes will bring someone else joy, as they did me when I needed them, but even if no one else wants them, I'm glad to be giving them away. I have no regrets and no doubts about moving into a future without them.

And that's pretty cool, in and of itself.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision, I'm seeing people post "Straight Pride" things. Now, I have no objection to straight people being proud of their sexuality and their families, but posting that probably means that they don't understand why queer people feel the need to assert their pride publicly. It probably means that they are not aware that straight people have always been able to casually show pride in their sexuality and in their loved ones. They never had to fear flirting with someone in a bar or at a party would lead to them being attacked. They never felt obliged to date someone they had no interest in to look "normal". They never had to fear the consequences of talking about their love at work, at school, at church, at the grocery store, or at Christmas dinner.

I remember being on my first day at a new job, and a very young attorney there was obviously embarrassed to say the word "lesbian". I wanted to say, it's OK to say it, it's not a bad word, but I was afraid that if this was a place where it wasn't OK to even say the word, speaking up could lead to me losing that job. I needed to keep that job so I could support my daughter. I kept my mouth shut (though I didn't feel good about doing so).

I remember when people called their LGBT friends in far away cities to say, "I'll march in your pride parade if you'll march in mine" because the parades were mostly covered by local news, which made marching in your own city much more dangerous than marching a few hours' drive away. I was asked to the first Milwaukee Gay Pride Picnic, not because I am bi, but specifically because I was a college student attending school in a different state, so my face on the Milwaukee news wouldn't mean I would lose my job or be outed to my family.

Straight people have always been free to speak openly about their sexuality, talking about their spouses and other romantic relationships, their weddings and anniversaries and breakups, their loved one's health and welfare, and so on. In short, straight people were always allowed to be proud about and open about their sexuality. They never had to worry they would lose their jobs if they even briefly mentioned their loved one--heck, they could bring a spouse or romantic partner to company parties (even if said spouse was a doofus). They never had to prevaricate about the nature of their primary relationship to keep a job or a friend. They never had their child not want to invite friends to their home because the friends would realize Mommy isn't "normal", and said child reasonably feared that would lead to social consequences at school.

Maybe in the future, now that marriage equality is law, we will get to a point where it is not an act of bravery to say, "I'm queer", but we're not there yet. Saying that IS still an act of bravery, an act that risks the person you say it to trying to shame you or harm you (or your family) in some way.

The pride movement isn't a narcissistic "I think highly of myself" thing. It is a reaction to being told, hundreds or thousands of times, that we should be ashamed to be who we are and of loving who we love. It is proactively fighting all those negative words and actions, fighting for the right to be simply yourself despite valid reasons to fear the consequences of people knowing who you are--and fighting for the next generation, hoping for the time when people like us won't have to be afraid, when we will be able to be as casually and innocently proud of our relationships and families as anyone else, without fear, without harassment and certainly without risk of financial ruin or physical attack.

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
All my life, I dreamed of being able to take pictures of fireworks. As further proof that I'm living in the future, now I can not only read books and play games on the phone, but I can, indeed, take pictures of fireworks with it.

On Saturday, we went to Milwaukee's Pride Fest and listened to various bands while wandering through the shops (I got a great brand-new $5 t-shirt because they printed last year's date on it instead of this year's), and then I danced during almost all of Ani DiFraco's concert, after she got on stage, said hello to Milwaukee, and told us when she saw the schedule, she hoped "Fireworks" was a band name, because she didn't know how to follow a fireworks display. Of course, she did just fine.
(A few more pictures) )



I'll put more pictures up over on Facebook.

Though I do want to share this one, which was a huge sign by the bathrooms, which made me smile:

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
Happy Rose Moon, everyone! My roses are a bit behind the times this year, unfortunately. But the moon keeps her own time.

It's been a while since I did a card draw, and the full moon seems like a perfect time. Also, Summer is starting, flowers are starting to bloom in my yard (I've been remiss in posting pictures here, but you can always check out my facebook to see what I've been up to that didn't feel like a whole LJ post when I wrote it. Also, when I went to Indiana for my daughter's college graduation ceremony, I stopped at the game and book store that was one of my havens when I was in college and picked up a new deck--and you have to use new decks. It's like a geas.

So, you're welcome to ask for a card or ask a specific question. You can also request inspiration for a creative project, a reading for one of your characters, or just something to meditate on.

I will leave this post open for free readings for at least a few hours; when free readings are closed, I'll edit that in here, so you don't have to guess. If you tip, it's helpful to mention that here and also to put your LJ name in the comments when you tip so it's easy for me to match the request and the tip.

I've written before about why I do readings and some of the decks I use here, feel free to hop over and check me out. I'll wait.

Today you can pick from my new deck, the Londa Tarot, the Shapeshifter Tarot, or the Faeries' Oracle. You can ask a question or just ask for a card. If you tip, you can also ask for an additional card, or a card from any other deck I have. Not sure if I have a particular deck? You're welcome to ask.

Alternatively, I can draw you (or your character) a Guide for the season (or a project or some other period of time) from my combined deck of Susan Seddon Boulet art cards. You can ask for this as your free reading if you don't ask for a card from one of the decks listed above.

Finally, you could ask to have my Torn World character, Rai Kunabei, do a disk reading for you or for a torn world character of your choice. This will take the form of an imaginary visit to Torn World and will feature the divination disks I designed for that world. Feel free to include some details about yourself to help me portray you in this world.

Please consider dropping something in the case! Readings take time and energy, and I am currently funding home repairs. (Yes, I was doing that last time too, but between then and now, the city inspector added things to my to-do list.) Signal boosts are also appreciated. If you are tipping, please include that in your reply here, so I'm not guessing when I sit down to do your reading. If you tipped or boosted the signal, feel free to request a clarification card if you want one.

I understand all too well that sometimes people don't have cash or spoons, and it is generally during those times when people most need inspiration! Don't be afraid to ask for a card if you can't tip.

Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees) or at least one Torn World credit. If neither of these work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

You can get a private reading if you tip; I'll send the reading to the e-mail you use for tipping or you can send a private message to make other arrangements. I'm also open to doing longer paid readings, for instance Celtic Cross or Wheel of the Year; again, please send a private message if you're interested.

I will do readings promptly, but I irritated the degenerative tendon disease in my right shoulder and intermittently typing hurts, so if I get a lot of requests I may need to rest the arm, and if so it may take a little time. I will reply to all requests. If the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this One Card Draw rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Thank you!

As always, in accordance with federal law, these readings are for entertainment and inspiration only. See my "Dandelyon's Readings" page if you have questions.

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
I've never been nominated for a Hugo, never even come close, not in all the years I was a fanzine writer, not as a storyteller, and certainly not as a filker.

The filker thing is a sore point for me. There are fan writer, fanzine, and fan artist categories, after all. Why are fan musicians ignored? But it's more than that, really.

Like I said, I used to do fanzines. I stopped--and I can pinpoint when, in retrospect. It's when all the "friends" I had who thought fan writing was a big deal not only were unwilling to support a filk Hugo, but they were really nasty about it. Laughing in my face was the least of it. It was like getting a series of slaps in the face, though actual hands weren't swung. It made me flinch away from those people, and focus my energy in areas of fandom where I wasn't being ridiculed and belittled.

Still, the dream remains. Someday, maybe, if I get good enough, I might win a Hugo. It's a very long term dream--not a goal, really; for a lot of reasons, but mostly in my mind, "goals" is a label for things that are more in my control. But still, the Hugo is one of the markers high on the speculative fiction mountain, and knowing it's up there helps keep me focused on writing and learning skills to keep climbing toward my goals.

In the last year, that dream has seemed a little more real to me than before, not because I was doing anything different, but because for once the Hugos weren't dominated by people who happened to be heterosexual white men. Over and over I've seen the hype (in Hugos and elsewhere) go mostly to men, despite the huge number of very talented women in the field. Even back when I was talking about a filk Hugo, there was a distinctly misogynistic aspect to the comments people made to my face. I can only imagine what they were saying behind my back.

So this whole "sad/rabid puppy slate" thing feels just like another set of slaps in the face. Not only are these "puppies" unwilling to welcome people like me into the fold, they chose to to reach out to people known for trollery and death threats to try to keep us from even getting on the ballot. Like, you know, those were their natural allies.

In looking to see who was on the slates, I also saw that "for a small fee, you can vote". In a world where women make significantly less than men (even women nurses earn less than men nurses, and that's a traditionally female field), the fee is a larger part of women's budgets. I can't speak for all women, but I know that the fee isn't "small" to me. As much as I hate it, I've mostly resigned myself to living in a world where gender matters more than competence, but this was just one more slap. These guys are apparently happy to use their bigger economic power to further the goal of keeping us down.

The whole thing bothers me. This is an aspect of life that I don't want in my politics, much less in my fandom.

So, I saw posts about the slates and the Hugo nominees, but I was trying not to think about it much. I was doing the real work of a writer--planning stories while I reviewed paperwork and worked on my taxes. Then I saw someone saying (and I paraphrase), "I'm not a sad puppy, I worked hard." That's what led me to seeking out the slates. I found, to my dismay, that he was on both of them.

To be fair, I believe he did work hard--but so did the people in his category who weren't on the slates. So did all of the people who were qualified to be nominated in the other categories too. I do art and writing and, as a musician, dramatic performance. Doing any of those well requires hard work. Heck, doing them even at a mediocre level is hard work.

So now I am left wondering, is this guy really one of the puppies, who is trying to further game the system by claiming otherwise? Or was he put on the slate and didn't know? It's possible, despite his connections in the field, that he was just as clueless that he was on those slates as other people were clueless that there was a conspiracy to keep certain kinds of people off the ballot. If so, it's possible that he still didn't know about the slates when he accepted the nomination.

If all of that is true, then this situation is unfair to him. By putting together a slate and by going outside of the community to get more votes, the people who made the slates ensured that he will never know if he would have been nominated without their scheming. They ensured that if he does win a Hugo this year, people will always wonder if he deserved it. They are the reason people are already wondering if he deserved the nomination, or if he's on the ballot because the slate-makers approve of his politics.

Similarly, it is unfair to the people who were put on one or both slates, and who removed themselves from consideration from the Hugos only because they were unwilling to benefit from what they (and I) feel was an unfair nomination practice--though they, at least, get (and deserve) kudos and recognition for their integrity.

I don't need to mention why this was unfair to the people who didn't get recognition they did earn and would otherwise have received, had the slates never happened.

I'm so sad about the whole thing. It isn't fair to anyone, and it wasn't the kind of unfairness that's unavoidable (for instance, disease or bad luck). Someone engineered this unfairness on purpose. And I hate it when people go out of their way to be unfair to other people.



I started this post needing to express this overwhelming sadness, but as I got to the end of my ramblings, I realized that underneath the sadness I am angry--those rocketships are supposed to be fueling my dreams, not making me sad.

Oh, well, they're just a signpost along the way. Those people may be able to steal or deface the sign (temporarily) but no matter how much they try to own the whole mountain, speculative fiction is way too big for any one faction to own it.

Now, that I can set the sadness aside (at least temporarily), I'm off to claim a bit of that mountain the proper way--by doing the work, writing and submitting the stories, and hopefully enriching a lot of people's lives thereby. And if a bunch of those words are fueled by my anger, well, that's a constructive use for that kind of energy. I can live with that.
wyld_dandelyon: (guitar gloves)
In fact, I can see it from my window. How cool is that? I won't get to watch the whole thing--the moon will drop below the horizon all too soon. Still, I got to see it with my eyes, and without the intermediary of a computer or television screen.

That's something I couldn't do during the last few eclipses due to cloud cover. I had to satisfy myself with other people's pictures, taken in other parts of the world. But just as there's a special magic in being able to do that, there's also a special magic in being able to see it here.

(pause for sleepy moon-watching)

So, I had to go to the attic eventually, since the moon dropped behind the houses across the street, and then watched it vanish--not at totality, really, just slivered to the point where the pre-dawn light and the tree limbs between me and it obscured it quite handily.

(pause to watch the total eclipse online, and to fall asleep on the couch, to be awakened by the wise advice that it's better to sleep in bed, and by a day's work of chores and errands)

I wonder, if I could live forever, or at least for thousands of years, would I reach a point where I was bored by things like eclipses, or tulips opening in the spring, or the taste of a perfectly ripe strawberry?

I don't mean, if I reach a point where I can't see or smell the perfect beauty of the first rose of spring, and can't taste the butter melting into my potato, and can't enjoy sleeping and waking due to pain and infirmity--it's not boredom if the body can't take in things properly, that's something else altogether.

But would I get bored if I were perfectly healthy, but had just experienced so many meals and flowers and strange phenomena that I didn't care?

I don't think so. It's a very personal answer, of course, but looking back, the times I didn't appreciate the little things as much as I normally do were all times, in retrospect, that I was sick or exhausted (and usually both). And even then, it was more like not seeing the sun rise because of the fog.

You'd think I'd remember this faster, when I'm having trouble focusing and finding the joy in getting things done, with all my experience with chronic illness--but that's the thing about chronic illness, it's sneaky. It's not like breaking your leg, it's like an eclipse. Things seem perfectly normal, then just a little off, and you never quite see a moment of discontinuity, a moment when there's a big change, it's just at some point, you realize not only have things been changing, but the change is dramatic and significant.

And unlike the eclipse, chronic health issues don't just go away. You have to do something about them.

But that's another post altogether.

This post is about appreciating the good things in life--the playfulness of a cat, the taste of halapeno jack cheese, the green smell of spring returning to the world, and soon, the soft gold of dandelions in the sun.

And stories--stories of cats and dragons and magic, of love and truth and kindness, and always, always, stories of people.

But for tonight--check out that moon! Isn't it cool?
pictures! )
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
I found the perfect desk at the Milwaukee Restore this morning. It's big enough for art projects, has two small drawers for pencils and pens and the like, and instead of blocky drawers at both or one end, has legs like a table. It's covered with glass and is a beautiful walnut (the wood, not the stain). And there's the rub. Because it's old and walnut and in good condition, it's way over my budget for a table.

perfect desk

Even if I wait until Thursday, when the store has a general 20% off price, it's well over my budget, and there's no guarantee it will be there that long. The Restore is a place where people donate furniture, tools, and building supplies to benefit Habitat for Humanity, so when they get something in, it's gone when it's gone.

So, if you're willing to help me buy my dream desk and benefit Habitat for Humanity, I'm willing to do Card Readings (for fun and inspiration, as per federal law), write, or do art. If we don't raise enough or if this desk sells before I can buy it, I will reserve the funds until something else suitable shows up at the Restore, so your donation to me will still go to the same place eventually.

The sticker price for the desk, which would probably be more than $1000 in a regular, for-profit store, is $495.

Current funding level: $25 of $495 (This total includes donations from people here and people elsewhere)

You can send gifts to me at deirdremmm at aol*com or use the Paypal button below to tip. Paypal does take a cut of the donation if you use the button.

Thank you!








Please post here to let me know what (within reason) you want as a thank-you for your assistance in furnishing my writing office. I do reserve the right to refuse a request and refund your money.
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
It's been a busy day so far. We ran around town doing errands, deciding to leave the last one for tomorrow because the snow was getting heavier and heavier. I also do want to write about Capricon, which was focused mostly on art and music for me, but first, it's the new moon, and I promised a One Card Draw.

Are you starting something new? Feeling stuck on a creative project? Want a reading for one of your characters? You can ask for something specific or just ask for a card.

I'll do a limited number of free readings, and an unlimited number of paid ones. I will leave the post open for free readings for at least a few hours; if free readings are closed, I'll edit that in here, so you don't have to guess. If you tip, it's helpful to mention that here and also to put your LJ name in the comments when you tip so it's easy for me to match the request and the tip.

I've written before about why I do readings and some of the decks I use here, feel free to hop over and check me out. I'll wait.

Today you can pick from the Shapeshifter Tarot, the Whimsical Tarot, or the Faeries' Oracle. You can ask a question or just ask for a card. If you tip, you can also ask for an additional card, or a card from any other deck I have. Not sure if I have a particular deck? You're welcome to ask.

Alternatively, I can draw you (or your character) a Guide for the season (or a project or some other period of time that you specify) from my combined deck of Susan Seddon Boulet art cards. You can ask for this as your free reading if you don't ask for a card from one of the decks listed above.

Finally, you could ask to have my Torn World character, Rai Kunabei, do a disk reading for you or for a torn world character of your choice. This will take the form of an imaginary visit to Torn World and will feature the divination disks I designed for that world. Feel free to include some details about yourself to help me portray you in this world.

Please consider dropping something in the case! Readings take time and energy, and I am currently funding home repairs. Signal boosts are also appreciated. If you are tipping, please include that in your reply here, so I'm not guessing when I sit down to do your reading.

I understand all too well that sometimes people don't have cash or spoons, and it is generally during those times when people most need inspiration! Don't be afraid to ask for a card if you can't tip.

Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees) or at least one Torn World credit. If neither of these work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

You can get a private reading if you tip; I'll send the reading to the e-mail you use for tipping or you can send a private message to make other arrangements. I'm also open to doing longer paid readings, for instance Celtic Cross or Wheel of the Year; again, please send a private message if you're interested.

I will do readings promptly, but I have other work and commitments, so if I get a lot of requests or if I have internet problems, it may take a little time. I will reply to all requests. If the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this One Card Draw rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Thank you!

As always, in accordance with federal law, these readings are for entertainment and inspiration only. See my "Dandelyon's Readings" page if you have questions.

wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
It's been a busy week, what with necessary paperwork (already blogged about) and getting ready for Capricon. What I thought would be the easiest thing proved to take hours--finding the black paper for the Midwinter Faire workshop. I'd put it on a shelf with other crafting stuff when I brought it home from my Aunt's house, but then that shelving unit had to be moved, and I set it up as a place to sort stuff instead. So I ended up spending hours cleaning and not finding the paper anywhere.

Until I realized that the cats had made a mess on the sheets I used to cover my daughter's bed when she was off at college. The sheets are in the wash as I write, and I went to grab something else to cover the bed and found the paper. Thank goodness! So, now I'm mostly packed, with art to put in the art show (if there's room), and two very full recycling bins are waiting to be pulled to the "curbside" of the alley for pickup on Friday. We already managed to fill the trash bin this week (I tossed some old shoes and relegated some plastic dishes to the "donate" bags), I wrangled some doctor's appointments, went to the bank, and got someone in to look at the leaky pipes and get them fixed. Not a bad week's work, so far, though more expensive than I had hoped. And I still need to get boards on my front porch repaired, but at least I've got someone planning to do it soon now. There's still more I'd like to have gotten done, of course, but that's nothing new.

Next Tuesday is New Moon, and I've decided to do another One Card Draw. I hope it will help defray costs of home repairs, and I'm certain it will help get my writing flow going. At least it did last time.

So, if you want a reading, or know someone else who might, I'll look forward to seeing you then!

So, do you have a favorite deck or decks, whether it's one I've used here or not? If so, why?
wyld_dandelyon: (Feeling Creative Cat)
I've got new icons! [livejournal.com profile] djinni finished the last set of icons, and a new "icon day" is open for requests. If you want a new icon, his LJ has a link to his website. The first one is this cat with paintbrush, and the second is:

rainbow kitty running 100x100

It's fun just scrolling through each batch of icons, and even better to add to my personal trove of Djinni-art. It's a good break from the more drudgerly parts of life.

I always dread February bureaucracy. Taxes are no fun, and I always worry that I missed some important detail. The addition of Obamacare deadlines hasn't helped that. Reading through just one insurance plan's details is overwhelming. Trying to compare them is beyond that. I finally resorted to calling the insurance plans, trying to figure out important things like whether my allergist and asthma meds would be covered.

I hate it when it looks like my medicine will be covered, but when I try to figure out exactly how much it will cost, I find a message that it isn't in this plan. Right. Another call. I looked up and told My Angel that there has to be a better way!

Well, this insurance company put me in contact with an insurance agent, who made multiple calls on my behalf before I made a decision--but the decision is made. The next bit of paperwork is taxes, but I'm still awaiting a 1099, so I can put that off at least until after Capricon.

I'm going to be doing the Midwinter Faire at Capricon again, and in honor of my Aunt, who left some black paper behind, I'm going to do spacescapes with whoever stops by my table (unless they request something different). So, I'm going to share some in-progress shots of the painting. I started with a canvas that my Dad had primed with black long ago. I have no idea what he was planning, but I started with a little hint of a nebula and then added a planet.

nebula planet

After I started adding more to the painting, I figured I should back up a bit and get the whole canvas for today's in-progress picture:

space

And now, I should head to bed. There's more to do tomorrow!

But hey--if you'll be at Capricon, stop by the Midwinter Faire and we can art together! I may also be set up in the Capricon Cafe at some point. If you haven't painted before, I'll provide intsructions, and if you have, maybe I can learn something from you.
wyld_dandelyon: (Disintegrations and Defenestrations! by)
We've been working on the goal of Making Room lately. It's hard to not feel overwhelmed, we bought this house from a family of hoarders, and while they removed a lot of stuff, they didn't get rid of it all. One of the ways we have made things manageable is to have smaller goals. One is to fill the trash bin every week.

We did fail to do this the week we both had the flu and it was sub-zero temperatures outside. I really wanted to do it every single week, but hey, either one of those things would justify a week off of going through old, dirty stuff.

But otherwise, we have succeeded in throwing a bunch of stuff away every week. We have also been designating stuff that's still usable to be donated to The Restore or one of the local thrift stores, and metal stuff that's not usable (or not worth cleaning up) to be sold as scrap.

It being winter, we had been piling the scrap metal by the back door, mostly blocking the corridor that leads to the room that used to be a bathroom down there. Who wants to carry old dehumidifyers, broken pipe, and other heavy, rusty stuff out to the car in snow and ice? We could go sell the scrap metal in the Spring, I thought.

Then I started draining the bathtub and headed down to do laundry and my ears were assaulted by a soft, but very unwelcome sound. I really didn't need to hear falling water back there! And it was totally inaccessible. It was only 3 or 4 years ago that we replaced a bunch of those old pipes, so we didn't expect to need to mess with them again already. But we didn't replace all of the old pipes, just the ones that were leaking, so...lucky us. Time to take the metal away.

This morning, we filled the car with what turned out to be about a quarter-ton of old crap. It netted us about enough to go have lunch or a movie, not exactly a good payday for the work involved, but at least the metal will be reused instead of rusting away in a landfill. We'll need to make another trip soon, since the hallway isn't clear yet, but we can now go around the remaining stuff to get to the room where the pipes are leaking, so at least we can find out how bad the leak is and maybe get a bucket under it. I remind myself that slow progress is still progress.

In other news, I've had a lot of fun writing up One Card readings for people. In light of the need for plumbing repairs, I haven't yet closed the window for free requests (though I plan to limit free requests to whenever I head to bed tonight); I will keep the window for paid requests open for a few more days. If you haven't stopped by yet, you're welcome!

Tomorrow, I hope to have a bit of flash fiction (as yet unwritten), and this weekend is Sketchfest and the Torn World Muse Fusion, so I'm planning to put creative things to the forefront for a couple of days. Hopefully I'll see you around!

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