wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
Status: Still Open

The furniture is interestingly shuffled, right now. I'm gathering stuff in the living room to give to the Habitat for Humanity Restore. We'll see how much of the attic I can clear out before their scheduled arrival date. It should be a substantial declutter, if nothing else.

Outside, the roses are blooming. Oddly enough, this year they started blooming before the day lilies, which are just getting started. If you come by and don't see me right away, come around back and tell me I can stop weeding around the tomato plants for a bit! The weeds are quite tall, as I've been busy with indoor tasks and runs to the Geek Squad, glasses place, and other such tasks.

Computer follies have continued, the car acquired a large screw in a non-repairable part of one tire, and when I went in to get the replacement "temple" (arm) of my glasses replaced, they broke the still-functional old one, so my glasses are still kind of wobbly on my face (the spares they found to loan me in the meantime have a "spring feature" that, in my opinion, is a "spring bug").

But still, it's summer and nice out (here, anyway--no 100 degree temps this far inland so far).

I'm going to continue offering a five-card reading for $25, or if you want a larger reading we can discuss costs. As always, a signal boost will allow you to ask for a clarification card on some part of this reading, if you wish. Alternatively, you can ask for a Torn World reading and get an in-character reading in Affamarg or the Breidalam Mountains using that world's standard layout for the divination disks.

Or, of course, you can simply ask for a single card (with the usual clarifying card for people who tip or signal boost). The guitar case below is my personal PayPal link, featuring my own artwork, which still inspires me even though it isn't Tarot-related.

So, let's see if I can offer some some inspiration or spark some creativity for you. You can ask about real life or a creative project, or even a game. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts, and I can modify a more-traditional five-card spread into a prompt for a story focusing on plot or characters or a little of both.

New friends and old are very welcome. The grass is shaggy, and weeds are keeping the tomato and squash plants company, but some of the roses have started to bloom, and I'm happy to have you visit.

For free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, the Daughters of the Moon Tarot (one of the round decks), or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide or for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips (including requests for longer readings) also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, including but not limited to my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards and my Fantasy Showcase Tarot deck where each card was done by a different artist. Tipping can also be used to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card. I'd love to do a bunch of readings, under the circumstances!

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response. However, I intend to stay open through the weekend, and longer for paid readings.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
So, the computer follies continued for so long the Geek Squad guys told me they were tired of seeing me. I realized several days after the New Moon that I'd missed posting. I do apologize about that! Life's been busy, and making multiple trips to the computer store in between getting help online didn't help my focus at all.

Eventually they diagnosed the core problem--there is a tiny solid state hard drive that has failed and needs replacement in the computer. It's is invisible to the user, but that the operating system relies on. Urgh. Every salesman I talked to said those break less than the regular ones. Now that computer is off getting the drive replaced, and I'm praying that's all that's wrong with it. I miss having a computer that's all set up for the stuff I want to do. The good news, however, is that so far they've found no problems with the main hard drive, so I shouldn't get a blank slate back. I backed up all the files, but it's a pain to set up the programs.

In better news, I've signed up for an in-person writer's workshop with some fabulous teachers and an online course in anthology construction, so I'm hoping to build up my Paypal account to cover expenses. Therefore I'm offering a five-card reading for $25, or if you want a larger reading we can discuss costs. As always, a signal boost will allow you to ask for a clarification card on some part of this reading, if you wish. Alternatively, you can ask for a Torn World reading and get an in-character reading in Affamarg or the Breidalam Mountains using that world's standard layout for the divination disks.

Or, of course, you can simply ask for a single card (with the usual clarifying card for people who tip or signal boost). The guitar case below is my personal PayPal link, featuring my own artwork, which still inspires me even though it isn't Tarot-related.

So, let's see if I can offer some some inspiration or spark some creativity for you. You can ask about real life or a creative project, or even a game. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts, and I can modify a more-traditional five-card spread into a prompt for a story focusing on plot or characters or a little of both.

New friends and old are very welcome. The grass is shaggy, and weeds are keeping the tomato and squash plants company, but some of the roses have started to bloom, and I'm happy to have you visit.

For free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, the Daughters of the Moon Tarot (one of the round decks), or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide or for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips (including requests for longer readings) also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, including but not limited to my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards and my Fantasy Showcase Tarot deck where each card was done by a different artist. Tipping can also be used to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card. I'd love to do a bunch of readings, under the circumstances!

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response. However, I intend to stay open through the weekend, and longer for paid readings.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
So, I got up today with the intention of posting this early, but my computer kept freezing. I closed it down and restarted it--repeatedly, with varied results. Eventually, when I couldn't even get the shut down menu to come up (much less work), I took it to the Geek Squad for a thorough internal scanning. Of course, the menu came up for them, but I think the hard drive is probably dying. The computer has been acting been flaky for a while, on and off, which prompted me to back up everything on it a couple of weeks ago. I added a bit to the backup before heading out, but there wasn't a lot that was new that hadn't been sent off via e-mail.

I might or might not have the old computer back, but not 'til this weekend at the earliest. In any case, I no longer trust it with my writing--I don't always have a beta reader to e-mail stuff to, after all. I also just started a new project, one that I actually have outlined (it's a cozy mystery, and mysteries seem, to my hindbrain at least, to need outlines) so I had planned to get a bunch of writing done over the next few days. I really don't want to lose momentum on it. So, when I dropped the old one off I crossed my fingers that nothing else will blow holes in my budget and picked out a new one.

Thus it is that I'm finally sitting down to offer to do readings, in between trying to get the new computer set up and changing passwords that the old computer knows (just in case). Here's hoping the full moon didn't bring you any similar surprises!

So, on to the readings.

As always, I hope to send some good energy out into the world, to spark some hope and creativity. You can ask about real life or a creative project, or even a game. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts--starting something new is a traditional use of New Moon energy. But ask what you will, because now is always transforming into a new moment.

New friends and old are welcome.

For free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, the Daughters of the Moon Tarot (one of the round decks), or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide or for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, including but not limited to my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards. Tipping ca also be used to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Please consider dropping something in the guitar case below. Readings take time and energy, and even though the Milwaukee winter, like everything else, has been affected by global warming, winter heat is pricey and old houses always need repair somewhere or other.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card. I'd love to do a bunch of readings, under the circumstances!

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response. However, I intend to stay open through the weekend, and longer for paid readings. The weekend will be busy, so if you get your request in after noon on Thursday, I may not draw your card until Sunday night. If that's all right with you, it's all right with me!

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
It's a Full Moon tonight, and it was unseasonably warm for a couple of days. I wanted to go running and catch pokemons, but the garden needed tending and the taxes need attention, so I didn't get as much done on any of the things I want to have done, but did make some progress. Then it got windy, and cold, and the thunder came, and so I returned inside.

I divided out some of the tomato and pepper plants (where more than one seed grew in the same pot), and I scraped at some of my old pumpkin-squash seeds and soaked them in a tea of organic fertilizer. Maybe I'll have better luck with them having provided a little extra nutrition and made it easier for the seedlings to break free. I also soaked and planted some seeds from our iris and/or lily plants from a couple years back. I don't know if they'll germinate--those plants rarely even form seeds. But I figure it's worth trying to bring a little more beauty into the world.

And now to cards--I hope to send some good energy out into the world, to spark some hope and creativity. You can ask about real life or a creative project, or even a game. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts. Play is sacred; ask for what you need, or just for the fun of it. Both new friends and old are welcome.

I hope you will stop by my garden. Dodge between the raindrops or come after the rain, when we can walk and see the buds on the lilacs and on the earlier rose bushes. We'll also see the weeds in the garden plot, of course. I haven't pulled them yet. And we can see the day lilies starting to push through the ground, and maybe a tulip or two. Then we can head inside for refreshments and, of course, your reading.

For free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards, or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide, ask for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Please consider dropping something in the guitar case below. Readings take time and energy, and even though the Milwaukee winter, like everything else, has been affected by global warming, winter heat is pricey and old houses always need repair somewhere or other.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card.

I'll leave the new goal open--if donations reach $50 or more, I will use one or more of the cards drawn today as inspiration for a new acrylic sketch/painting, which I will share here, so you can all see how you inspire me.

I'll periodically update progress on that goal here. So far, I have received $6 of the $50 needed to prompt a sketch-level painting. If we go over that amount, I will put more time into moving the painting onward from the sketch stage.

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response. However, I intend to stay open at least for several days, and longer for paid readings. I've got a bunch of things going on, and I know you do too, and I want to give you time to find the post.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
There was a full moon this morning, but also a Tammy Baldwin town hall meeting (more about that later, here or on FB), so I put off this post until after getting home and eating. I am once again offering to draw cards with the hope of sending some good energy out into the world, to spark both hope and creativity. You can ask about real life, of course, or about a creative project. For instance, I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. Alternatively, I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts.

There is a Torn World Muse Fusion coming up later this month; if you want a taste of that world and if you tip, you can ask for an in-character reading in that world for yourself or for a Torn World character. These readings take me more time and energy, which is why I don't offer them for free.

Daylight Savings time "sprung back" overnight, so it isn't getting dark quite so early, always a welcome thing. My "green room" has little pots, some with seedlings and some without. My work space is currently cluttered with acrylic paints, brushes, and canvasses that hold some very incomplete paintings. But come in, be welcome, whether you've visited before or not. I won't try to resist showing off my in-progress work, which includes the very start of a painting inspired (but not required) by the last two readings. The frog has a sore foot, and I envision adding at least Ffaff the Ffooter, examining the frog. Or perhaps the frog is a statue, and Ffaff is doing something else here...I'm not sure.



If I get at least $50 in this drawing, I'll do a separate painting for this drawing, as I said. If not, the readings here might be used to expand my vision of the Frogg & Ffaff painting.

But it's time to put the paintings aside for a bit, pay bills, and if you drop by, do some readings.

Until Wednesday, for free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards, or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide, ask for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

If I get $50 in tips, I'll use the cards I draw to inspire a painting, and I'll post progress drawings here for you all to see. So far I've received $17.50 of $50 for this drawing.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Please consider dropping something in the guitar case below. Readings take time and energy, and there are still squirrels that think my house is their home tree. I will soon need to pay someone to undo the winter's damage.

Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card.

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something else out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
I went to see Wisc. State Rep. Fred Kessler talk about the case (Whitford v. Gill) against the Wisconsin redistricting that was recently ruled unconstitutional, and which Wisconsin's GOP government is appealing to the Supreme Court of the United States.

He first introduced himself, talking about his history and how he got into politics. He was first elected to serve as a representative in Madison in 1960, when he was a very young man, and he has also served as a Judge before returning to working as a politician.



He gave us this background so we would understand why he immediately recognized how unfair the current electoral map in Wisconsin is. He immediately started talking to people about whether a legal case could be made to challenge it. I don't have all the names, as most of the notes I was taking were in the form of sketching the speaker, but it was interesting to hear how the case developed. Little things mattered--for instance, one of the people invited to a meeting brought his then-girlfriend, who agreed that this was a big issue, and who volunteered to do some fund raising, as she knew people who she thought would agree that this was an issue of basic fairness and very important to the continuation of our democratic form of government.

She came back to the group at their next meeting with pledges for over $150,000.

Now you have to understand that this money did not go to the lawyers--they are donating their time, and won't get paid unless they win--but this money meant that the lawyers could start the process, doing all the little and big things that are needed for a lawsuit, from the trivial (filing and serving the lawsuit) to the most vital and most expensive--paying for copies of documents as part of the discovery process, hiring experts, paying them to do the research necessary to have a properly informed opinion, depositions, and so on.

He talked about the importance of choosing plaintiffs who were representative of the various different districts in the state--and the importance of having one of those be a lawyer and law professor very familiar with the process and with the implications of the various choices that would have to be made in the course of the lawsuit. He talked about his worries that a Republican-appointed judge was assigned to their case, and how that Republican judge ruled quite clearly against the unconstitutional gerrymandering that the GOP created in Wisconsin.

He says that if the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs in this case, upholding the lower court's ruling that Wisconsin's districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered, he thinks that this case will prove as important to our country as Brown v. Board of Education. He talked about GOP efforts in a number of states and admitted that the Democrats had done some gerrymandering, though not to as severe an extent, in Massachusetts. He said that it is very important that a standard be established. In his opinion it doesn't much matter who is tasked with drawing up the maps if there is a very clear, fair legal standard.

As to that, another thing that happened early on was that someone knew about then-unpublished research that would allow a non-subjective test of the fairness, a way to measure whether a map was fair not only by race, but by party affiliation or political philosophy. He felt it was essential to winning this case that this study existed, and that it was accepted as a valid test by the Court.

He also said that there were four important legal points that had to be met in order to win the lawsuit--the courts had to find the following:

1. That members of a political party (or perhaps it was people who lean one way or another politically) are a protected class
2. That the map did deprive said members of a protected class of their rights
3. That the map was drawn with the intent of depriving members of a protected class of their rights, and
4. There was no other justifiable, legal reason to have drawn the map the way it was drawn.

Now, my lawyer readers should keep in mind that I'm doing my best to report his words accurately, but I am not a legal scholar and did not record the meeting. I am relying on my memory and a few scribbled notes on the back of the meeting agenda, so I might have gotten some important nuance wrong. But this is accurate to the best of my recollection and understanding.

At the end, he took questions.

One person asked if this government in Wisconsin was elected unconstitutionally, then are they legitimately in office? Rep. Kessler said that is a very interesting question, and no one knows the answer. For instance, if they are not legitimate, then no one knows whether some of the more outrageous laws that were passed by the people elected using an unconstitutional map can be challenged in Court as invalid.

I asked if there is support for eliminating the Electoral College. He said that he is not convinced that is a good idea, and talked about the chaos that the Republicans caused trying to make sure that the Florida recount could not be accomplished in a timely and accurate fashion, and said that he didn't want to see that chaos on a national scale.

In answer to another question, he noted that, now that the GOP has instituted their very restrictive voter ID law, he anticipates that they will try to eliminate Wisconsin's election day voter registration and early voting provisions, to further suppress the vote.

It was a small group, perhaps in part because of the Women's Rally today, but clearly there were more questions at the point when the regular Southside Democrats' agenda had to be hurriedly finished, since the public library was about to close. Some of the attendees headed to a local pub for more discussion, but we had other errands to do and one of the stores we needed to stop at was closing shortly.

The meeting was definitely interesting, and I was very glad to hear from such a careful and informed person that he is very optimistic about what the Supreme Court ruling on this matter will be.
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
Yeah, the con report is a little late. Such is life.

I got to the hotel later than planned (the dentist trip the day before slowed me down), and piled the stuff I would need to teach people painting in the Midwinter Faire onto the little luggage cart I mostly use to take a few of my many instruments to filks, got to the usual area only to see no evidence of that event happening. Well, I thought, maybe they moved it. After a quick walk to programming ops, I found that they'd cancelled the event (too bad they didn't tell me, I would have brought less painting stuff). I also found that they were looking for people to add to several panels I was very interested in, one of which started immediately, so I took my paints and canvasses and spare paper and table cover and all to that room to talk about the allegation that there are only 7 stories (well, seven plot types, as it turned out). It was an interesting panel, and I did some sketching underneath my notes for the panel.



It turns out my in-panel doodles are much better when I expected to spend that time teaching art than they are when I am gearing up my thoughts to talking about writing, though I think I held my own on that front too.

Afterward, the art show found me space to hang some art (in addition to the Capricon Challenge piece) and I did that. This pic was taken before they printed the bid sheets.



The next morning, I got up very early (for me) to talk about Libraries in Space--or more specifically about what a library of a new colony on Mars would be like. That sounds like a planetary library to me, but that didn't make the topic any less interesting.

The final panel I was on was Theology in SF, which was fascinating. It was very different from the other excellent religion in SF panels I've been on at various cons in past years, which was due, partially, to the focus on deity rather than religion. I think it was also partially due to the fact that the panelists this time were primarily people fascinated by the study of religion, rather than primarily people who write science fiction--not that the two are in any way exclusive, because they're not, but the focus was more on views of God or Gods and how that affected various science fiction works, and less on how to make a fictional religion believable. I enjoyed it very much. I was also thanked afterward for representing the Pagan worldview, a thing the audience member in question said she hadn't seen much of. I guess either the popularity of Paganism at conventions is down or, more likely, the rise of the Religious Right and the "alt right" has made a lot of us back at least partway into the closet.

After that, I spent time painting and doing all the things that I go to cons for--chatting with people and filking and panels. One of the highlights was working on my painting of Cathy during her concert (and teaching some painting there, after all). During the filks, I sat with my sister. She painted, being of the firm opinion that a filk provides her with a good excuse to do art. I also painted during the filk, in between singing and playing songs myself and playing along with other people.

Here's a new detail from Cathy's painting. She suggested I add a sea horse, but when I saw a pic of an adult sea horse with a young one, I knew the painting needed more than one.



The con wasn't perfect, of course. I had to tell the Green Room staff how disappointing it was that they didn't keep the ingredients of the stuff in the room so I could tell if I could eat it or not (I've been eating in the green room with these food allergies at Capricon for years now, and in past years, they kept the ingredients panels from boxes in a spiral notebook). So I didn't eat much there. The ice cream in the con suite wasn't safe--but to my shock the hot dogs were (they still had the box!). Also, I brought some food. So I didn't starve, and more importantly, I didn't get sick, which I can't take for granted when I'm not cooking from scratch at home. So that has to count as a win.

And I sold a piece of art -- my Resist! black cat-eared hat. It didn't net me much income, but was a little more than the hanging fees, so overall, also a win. And to think I put the hat into the auction more as a political statement than expecting to sell it!

I guess I should go get some pink t-shirt material and make at least one more hat.
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
It's a New Moon tonight, so I am once again offering to draw cards with the hope of sending some good energy out into the world, to spark some hope and creativity. You can ask about real life or a creative project. I can draw a card for you to meditate on, to represent the Guide you need right now, or to get you unstuck. I can draw a card for a character or can draw a card or cards for you to use as writing or art prompts.

I hope you will stop by my garden. It was wonderfully warm for a few days, but then a storm blew in with thunder and rain, and now it's snowing. But it's nice and warm inside. I have a little round glass table that's etched with a dragon design; we can sit there by candle light or turn the lava lamps on. You and I can share hot chocolate or tea and chat, and you can get a reading if you would like one. Or we could make art together, or sing songs. Both new friends and old are welcome.

Until the end of the weekend, for free one card readings, you can pick from the Brian Froud's Faeries Oracle, my combined Susan Seddon Boulet Animal Spirits and Goddesses cards, or the Shapeshifter Tarot. You can ask a question, ask for a Guide, ask for inspiration, or you can just ask for a card. I don't need to know what your question is, but you are welcome to share it with me if you like.

If I get $50 in tips, I'll use the cards I draw to inspire a painting, and I'll post progress drawings here for you all to see. So far I've received $25 of $50 for this drawing.

The first card is free (though tips are always appreciated). Tips also let you ask me to use any of my other decks, to request a private reading, or to draw a clarifying card. If you want a longer reading, send a direct message so we can agree on the type of reading and rate.

Please consider dropping something in the guitar case below. Readings take time and energy, and even though the Milwaukee winter, like everything else, has been affected by global warming, winter heat is pricey and old houses always need repair somewhere or other. Signal boosts are very much appreciated, and also earn you the right to ask for a clarifying card.

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

If you tip, it's helpful to me for you to mention it here so I can connect your paypal information with your request. Tips should be at least $1 (Paypal charges fees). If that doesn't work for you, drop me a message and we'll work something else out.

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.

I will reply to all requests. In the highly unlikely event that the number of requests nears my limits, I'll close this card draw by adding a clear note at the top of the post rather than risk leaving anyone without a response. This weekend, there's a rally for health care and a house filk on Saturday, so there may be a bit of a wait if you leave your request while I'm out. However, I intend to stay open at least through Sunday night, and longer for paid readings since, between the holidays and being in these days of low LJ usage, people may find the post late.

Thank you, and Blessed Be!

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

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
After the dentist and dinner, I stayed up later than planned last night, finishing this. If no one buys it, I'm tempted to add a girl curled up, reading a book, in the biggest bubble, but I like the painting as-is, and besides, I can't paint up a decent person anywhere near as fast as I can do a flower or tree!

If you'll be there this evening stop by the Midwinter Faire and paint with me! Or maybe we can find time to get together in the Cafe and paint--there'll be musicians playing there on and off, if previous years are any indication.

And sketchfest is this weekend, so even if you're not there, we can, perhaps, do some art together virtually.

Here's the finished painting, with watermark. I think the photo is a little blurry--some of the details just aren't showing up. Oh, well. Maybe I can get a better photo (or at least some detail photos) at the con.

wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
A few days ago, I picked up some seed starter and some plastic thingies to turn flats of plastic pots into little greenhouses. I also picked up some Brandywine tomato seeds, but held off on getting more seeds because I knew I had some leftover from recent years, as well as a few I'd saved from organic produce this last year.

So, I planted some of the Brandywine tomatoes, and the some older seeds: The last of the Black Cherry Tomato, Chocolate Stripes Tomato, and Northern Lights Tomato. I also planted some Cherokee Purple, but not the last of my seeds, and some older Lemon Cucumber, and from last fall, the seeds of some mild Habanero peppers I got at the local organic food store.

The last thing I planted was a surprise. Quite a while ago, I had a volunteer squash plant that tasted like a cross between pumpkin and spaghetti squash, both things I'd grown the previous year in that garden. It was good enough that I saved the seeds, hoping to plant them the next year, but life happened. I thought they were long lost. In amongst some older garden stuff, I found the envelope of those seeds! It's probably a lost cause, but I planted some of them, with a prayer.

Planting older seeds is always a gamble, of course, but it's early enough in the season that I can put too many seeds in each pot and hope that at least one of them will sprout. And if not, I'll plant something else in that pot, only a couple of weeks behind the newer seeds. But that hybrid was really tasty, so wish me luck!

Here's the little babies, who are hopefully starting to awaken in their new soil beds.




(Of course I used the purple pots!)
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
So, we have this room off the TV room, either a very large closet or a very small room. The ancient carpet in it resisted being pulled when we moved in, so we left it there. We put the cat box in it, and plants, and some logs for the cats to climb on. Sadly, eventually an elderly feline started leaving messes there when the cat box wasn't as clean as he wanted. So the carpet had to go.

I've been working at cleaning the remaining carpet pad, which was glued (by intent or entropy) to the wood, up, a little every day. I got mad at something the current tweeter-in-chief did and overdid it a few days ago, and had several days where my wrist hurt. Last night, I got back to the painting, but not for long--after a while, even painting with my tiniest brush was more than I could do. But, I got her face and the imaginary friend roughed in.



Today, after getting the headlight fixed on the car (and it's 100,000 mile tuneup), I picked up some potting soil and seed starter (I have a lovely garden plot to plant in, after all), paid the bills (it hurt to write and type even more than it hurt to paint, over the last couple of days), and got back to painting.

The photos aren't great--I was holding the painting in one hand and the cell phone in the other--but at least you can see the progress I'm making.



So far, I have the goat and the necessary three of the other items for the challenge: the humanoid child, the imaginary friend, and the bubbles. I'm considering whether I should bother with the flag or the balance-scales. The humanoid kid does need a bubble-wand and jar of bubble-soap still, and work on the face. There will also certainly be more bubbles. I'm enjoying the bubbles.

And I'm really glad my wrist isn't hurting any more! It might even have healed faster if I wasn't too angry at watching Mitch McConnell officially silence Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor for milder language than all the guys get away with using. That man needs his grandma to tell him she's ashamed of him. I sent a fax, but somehow I doubt it will have the same impact as a nice visit from Grandma Marley's ghost would. Or am I mashing up my stories too much? Still, it's not a bad daydream, and a better thought for bedtime than dwelling on the reality.

But regarding the painting, as always, comments and suggestions are welcome.
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
So, I'm still working on the Capricon Challenge painting. I now have a goat and part of a child-satyr. She did have a face, but it was out of proportion with the body and not very good, so I've painted over her poor face.

She looks very awkward and sad this way, but the covering paint has to dry quite thoroughly before I try again or the background will blend into her skin tones, so she'll have to wait a bit for my new attempt.



The goat isn't too terrible, I guess.



I tried to find a spot where my shadow didn't fall on the goat; somehow that led to a much greener picture than we got for the kid, though I took the photos within a few feet of each other. The colored plastic shades on my lights must have more effect on the light than I realized!

I also dropped my brush and got paint on my skirt, a thing I normally manage to avoid. It (the skirt) is nothing special, so I didn't drop everything to go wash the paint out, but still, it's annoying. I'm used to painting in clothes I love without painting them--a much easier thing to do with real acrylics than with wall paint acrylics, I should note. That stuff is diluted for easy spreading and to still be spreadable if it's open to the air for hours and hours. So it's not really that impressive that I don't normally get painter's art acrylics on my clothes.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I can get the girl done, or at least more done, and start adding at least one imaginary (or not so imaginary) friend.
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
My sister, Dragon, and I made a plan to go march with the women in DC, because the voices of women and minorities matter, and if our new President understands anything, it's ratings, and I am hoping he will see all the women and QUILTBAG people and other minorities and allies who care enough to travel to his city to send him a message, and that he will want to earn our vote. If not, well, our other elected representatives will see us, and will remember we care. The house and cats and fish are well-tended, just not at the moment by me.

As I often do when I get together with this sister, we sat and painted together, each on our own projects, but with conversation and critique, sharing of supplies, and cheering each other on.

So, here is the revised (and still very much unfinished) painting:



As always, your comments & suggestions are welcome too (meaning, not just my sister's)!
wyld_dandelyon: (Creative Joyous Cat)
This Thanksgiving, I am thankful, primarily, for my friends, here and elsewhere, from the closest loved-friends to the casual acquaintances. I count myself lucky to know and interact with so many people, people who are different from me and from each other in so many ways. I love having friends from so many different ethnic backgrounds. I love having friends who are introverts and who are extroverts. I love having friends who follow so many different religions—and some who follow none. I love having friends who live in red states and blue, and who live in other countries altogether. I love having so many women friends, and so many friends of other genders. I love having friends who are unrepentantly out about their orientations, their quirks, and their passions, and I love having friends who are just starting to experience and express new passions and new things about themselves. I love having friends who are curious about everything, from people who find an unusual color of mold on their pie and grow more to try to identify it to people who relentlessly fact check internet memes. I love having both friends who are comfortable with the role they were told they should fill as a child and people who forge new ways to live their lives despite those expectations. I love having friends who care about the world and the people in it, and I love it when they come to my page to discuss politely their differences regarding how to best move forward in the future.

I love the people who post cat memes and snarky internet comics. I love the people who write, who paint, who draw, who edit, who publish, who dance, who drum, who sing, and who quilt, and the people who do not. I love the people who stop to help strangers in the grocery store or on the street, the people who share kickstarters or go-fund-mes to help someone make a new thing real or just to help someone they know pay medical bills or care for a stray cat. I love the people who share recipes and pictures of their families and homes, the people who garden and sew, and the people who share their babies’ milestones. I love the people who share their travails with home ownership (and inevitable maintenance) and the people who share techie tips. Just as much, I love the people who share stories of their explorations, whether those are making something new or wandering the world in body or in imagination. I love the people who share cool stuff, from comments that glitter or display in mirror writing to cool stuff I’ll never be able to afford to restaurants that can safely feed people with weird food allergies. I love people who share our world’s history and people who share new discoveries. I love people who share their delight in cool stuff even when, or maybe especially when I never saw that particular stuff as delightful before.

I love having both friends with strong opinions and friends with questions.

I love the people who help me understand those who are unlike me in some way and the people who understand some facet of me so well because they feel that thing too. Your diversity enriches and delights me.

Thank you all for being a part of my world, in whatever ways you have chosen to do that. Thank you for sharing some part of who you are and what you love with me.

I hope that your winter holidays (regardless of which secular and/or religious holidays you personally celebrate or try to ignore) are not too stressful, and I hope the season brings you delight both in the fashion you hope it will and in unexpected, life-enriching ways.

Peace.
wyld_dandelyon: (Creative Joyous Cat)
Take out frozen bacon (a wonderful left-over partial package of Deirdre-safe bacon gifted by my sister Siobhan) because it's at the top of the freezer, and I'm hungry and don't want to rummage to see what else is in there.

Take one of the only 2 delicata squashes salvaged from my garden that has to be used right away because of wildlife damage, cut off parts gnawed by said wildlife (racoon, possum, or squirrel), peel and cut into pieces. Grumble once again about the half-dozen or more squashes they got away with.

Get impatient with frozen bacon and put it into the pan, cutting across it to make bite-sized pieces before it's fully thawed. (One advantage of cast iron pans is you can cut things in them and not worry about damaging the surface.) Peel and cut an onion and add to pan as soon as the bacon has created some grease to cook it with.

Cook over low heat with the lid on to speed things up, except for removing lid frequently to stir.

Peel and cut two small potatoes. Smile at the cat who thinks peels that miss the compost bucket are funny-smelling cat toys. Add squash pieces to pan. Notice that it lacks contrast. Go out and pick green beans by the light of the cell phone's built-in flashight; rinse, cut up, add potatoes and green beans to pan.

Chop a clove of garlic very fine and add to pan with thyme (also originally from the garden, but grown last year) and white and black pepper. Add a little butter because the food is starting to stick (the onion, potatoes, and squash used up all the bacon grease?!?) and because the potatoes want some butter flavor.

Retrieve the now-neglected cat toys from the floor and add to the compost bucket. Stop cooking as soon as potato pieces are soft, because I'm hungry.

I have no idea what you'd call it, but it was tasty!
wyld_dandelyon: (Default)
A few days ago it was Mother’s Day, and—as is usual on my Facebook these days, because I have friends who care deeply and passionately about our world and the people in it—there was a lot of politics on my wall. One of the things on my wall was a friend (admittedly not a Clinton fan) who expressed horror that Hillary was willing to accept support from Republicans. In her mind, that was proof that Hillary doesn’t share any values with liberals.

And I cringed. This was, after all, Mother’s Day, a day when we all—liberals, conservatives, the apolitical, and people whose politics are best described on some other axis—celebrate our marvelous mothers or console our friends who had the misfortune to be born to mothers who aren’t so marvelous. We all value family, just as we all value warmth when it’s cold. Like today—cold and rainy, prompting me to reach for something warm. I tried a sweater, and it was too scratchy. With all the political uproar, I wanted more comfort than that.

There’s this old silk jacket I have. I bought it at the thrift store years ago even though it was a bit threadbare because the colors—purples and blues and greens—are marvelous and it fits gently around me and it’s so soft and sensual. It feels good, like a warm hug made of rose petals. It was old when I bought it, and now the outer silk is pulling apart in strips and shreds. Periodically, I pick this jacket up and give in to the illogical urge (why not just replace it?) to take satin scraps or shapes cut from old silk shirts and patch the areas that are the most tattered.

I pick it up today and put it on long enough to warm up a little, and rip it some more trying to put my phone into a place that, as it turns out, is not the pocket after all. I look again at my Facebook and see more vitriol against that other mother who hopes to help the world from the big white house in DC, and I take the jacket off again. I cut a bit of purple from a ripped silk sleeve I’ve been using to clean my glasses and start stitching it to the coat, and I feel comforted.

Our social fabric is tattered right now, pulled apart by low income and bigotry and fear. But we can’t just throw it away and buy a new one. Someone has shared a quote showing that Trump thinks he can get the nation through hard times by not paying our debt. I sigh. I so very much don't want to see more things like that, so I switch over to Live Journal on the computer and read a poem where a policeman tries to help a person with superpowers who has PTSD. Then I listen to an interview of Hillary, so I can close that tab on the web browser. I enjoy listening to Hillary when she can actually talk about her hopes for what she can accomplish if she’s President, and it’s easier to sew when I’m listening instead of reading. I reflect that our world is kind of like the poor super-kid in the poem, broken and traumatized and scared.

The bit of purple silk stitched firmly to the sleeve, I go looking to see what I can find that’s suitable to put next to it. Our youngest cat, Nebula, is sleeping in a box of material, and is quite bemused when I pull the box out and dig through things around and under her. She blinks at me, strange human, and I rub her under her chin. I find a scrap of white brocade not much more than an inch wide, and some blue satin and green brocade, and part of a tie whose off-white lining could work. And a hairball. Ugh. I brush the old dried mess into the trash and consign that bit of cloth to the laundry, along with some clothes that will probably be donated.

Then back to my old jacket with safety pins and material. I cut and lay down several more pieces and pin them in place. Some of them will doubtless get moved around as I stitch, but it’s a plan. I thread the needle again and continue. The lovely smooth texture of the silks and brocades calms me. It feels as if each stitch is sending healing energy out into the world, a gentle prayer or bit of kind sympathetic magic to help us all in our quest to make the world a little healthier, a little less ragged, and a little more beautiful.

I use up the thread on my needle and tie it off. Next is a spot where the original fabric is just gone, the rough lining showing through. It reminds me of the places where lies and hatred have hurt me and people I care about, but I smile, because here on this jacket I can fix things. More green, I think, to cover this spot. Green would look good. We could use more green in our politics too, and fewer lies. More kindness and less fear. I pin and I stitch, and I send my good wishes out into the world, and in my head is a line from science fiction that has, contrary to all expectations, become popular culture: “Make it so.”
wyld_dandelyon: (Creative Joyous Cat)
A couple of days ago it was Mother’s Day, and—as is usual on my Facebook these days, because I have friends who care deeply and passionately about our world and the people in it—there was a lot of politics on my wall. One of the things on my wall was a friend (admittedly not a Clinton fan) who expressed horror that Hillary was willing to accept support from Republicans. In her mind, that was proof that Hillary doesn’t share any values with liberals.

And I cringed. This was, after all, Mother’s Day, a day when we all—liberals, conservatives, the apolitical, and people whose politics are best described on some other axis—celebrate our marvelous mothers or console our friends who had the misfortune to be born to mothers who aren’t so marvelous. We all value family, just as we all value warmth when it’s cold. Like today—cold and rainy, prompting me to reach for something warm. I tried a sweater, and it was too scratchy. With all the political uproar, I wanted more comfort than that.

There’s this old silk jacket I have. I bought it at the thrift store years ago even though it was a bit threadbare because the colors—purples and blues and greens—are marvelous and it fits gently around me and it’s so soft and sensual. It feels good, like a warm hug made of rose petals. It was old when I bought it, and now the outer silk is pulling apart in strips and shreds. Periodically, I pick this jacket up and give in to the illogical urge (why not just replace it?) to take satin scraps or shapes cut from old silk shirts and patch the areas that are the most tattered.

I pick it up today and put it on long enough to warm up a little, and rip it some more trying to put my phone into a place that, as it turns out, is not the pocket after all. I look again at my Facebook and see more vitriol against that other mother who hopes to help the world from the big white house in DC, and I take the jacket off again. I cut a bit of purple from a ripped silk sleeve I’ve been using to clean my glasses and start stitching it to the coat, and I feel comforted.

Our social fabric is tattered right now, pulled apart by low income and bigotry and fear. But we can’t just throw it away and buy a new one. Someone has shared a quote showing that Trump thinks he can get the nation through hard times by not paying our debt. I sigh. I so very much don't want to see more things like that, so I switch over to Live Journal on the computer and read a poem where a policeman tries to help a person with superpowers who has PTSD. Then I listen to an interview of Hillary, so I can close that tab on the web browser. I enjoy listening to Hillary when she can actually talk about her hopes for what she can accomplish if she’s President, and it’s easier to sew when I’m listening instead of reading. I reflect that our world is kind of like the poor super-kid in the poem, broken and traumatized and scared.

The bit of purple silk stitched firmly to the sleeve, I go looking to see what I can find that’s suitable to put next to it. Our youngest cat, Nebula, is sleeping in a box of material, and is quite bemused when I pull the box out and dig through things around and under her. She blinks at me, strange human, and I rub her under her chin. I find a scrap of white brocade not much more than an inch wide, and some blue satin and green brocade, and part of a tie whose off-white lining could work. And a hairball. Ugh. I brush the old dried mess into the trash and consign that bit of cloth to the laundry, along with some clothes that will probably be donated.

Then back to my old jacket with safety pins and material. I cut and lay down several more pieces and pin them in place. Some of them will doubtless get moved around as I stitch, but it’s a plan. I thread the needle again and continue. The lovely smooth texture of the silks and brocades calms me. It feels as if each stitch is sending healing energy out into the world, a gentle prayer or bit of kind sympathetic magic to help us all in our quest to make the world a little healthier, a little less ragged, and a little more beautiful.

I use up the thread on my needle and tie it off. Next is a spot where the original fabric is just gone, the rough lining showing through. It reminds me of the places where lies and hatred have hurt me and people I care about, but I smile, because here on this jacket I can fix things. More green, I think, to cover this spot. Green would look good. We could use more green in our politics too, and fewer lies. More kindness and less fear. I pin and I stitch, and I send my good wishes out into the world, and in my head is a line from science fiction that has, contrary to all expectations, become popular culture: “Make it so.”
wyld_dandelyon: (Creative Joyous Cat)
So, I've been thinking about politics, which will be no surprise to anyone who's reading my Facebook. Lately, a number of friends have shared the post where Bernie talks about creating a grass-roots political movement to take back our government, which is, after all, supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people--all the people, not just people of one color or one religion (and certainly not a government of billionaires, by billionaires, and for billionaires).

So, first, to the Bernie supporters out there--Bernie is right about this thing.

Yes, as a woman who has liked Hillary for years, I am standing up publicly to say it.

Bernie is right. We need an influential, a humongous (I won't say "yuuuuuuge") grass-roots movement. I love it that Bernie is working to create a community of empowered voters. But--and it's an important but, for reasons I'll go into below--I have online friends who cringe when faced with Bernie supporters because in their experience, in recent days, any dissent (and especially any support of Hillary) has been met with such bad behavior that they felt they had to shut up to be safe. Think about that for a moment. That's no way to build the legacy that Bernie has asked you to build. Now, not all Bernie supporters are like that. But each one who is diminishes Bernie's legacy!

Bernie is right that we need a broad grass-roots movement. To get big money out of politics, we need a movement that is, at least for a few years, so big that no politician has any hope of getting elected without it. It takes time to build a community. That means that Bernie is absolutely right to stay in the race to the convention no matter what his numbers are, because that lets him keep the spotlight on building the political "capitol" to make the changes we need. (Or at least he's right so long as his supporters are engaging in community-building rather than deliberately alienating likely allies this grass-roots movement needs.)

To the other Bernie-lovers out there (and yes, I'm a Bernie lover even though I have admired and respected Hillary for a long time), I have to say, let's see what you can do to build a movement, to bring in women and minorities rather than telling us to shut up and know our place. Because without us, you are too few and your movement is too small to defeat the big money.

I'd say it's kind of like a union, except that the billionaires have managed to convince so many voters that "union" is a bad word. But the concept is sound--if you don't have the money, you need to have a way to negotiate with the people who do. In politics, that comes down to votes. Each and every vote counts, whether it's inspired by a slick, expensive commercial or a grass-roots community working together for the good of all.

To the Bernie-lovers out there, I point out his record of reaching across party lines and working with people who he mostly disagrees with, for the purpose of doing good for the American people, little bit by little bit. I suggest you take his example, and every time you're faced with someone who disagrees with you on something, treat them with respect and reach out to work with them. Bernie can't build a community all by himself. Even Jesus couldn't do that!

If you love Bernie, don't you think he deserves to have you build his movement and take back the government whether or not he wins this Presidential primary? If you love him and his plans for our country, then ask yourself how can you use your words to help build his legacy. Whether or not he wins this battle, it's possible to win in the long run. We can build Bernie's legacy one person at a time, and in the end enjoy Bernie's legacy for many years to come--but only if we reach out and build a coalition, only if we have sufficient numbers that money can't buy the votes that the rich dudes have come to count on.

And with each and every interaction you have with someone who doesn't think Bernie is the best candidate, you have a chance to make a person feel respected and listened to and valued and a part of a community of people that is devoted to getting big money out of politics, a community devoted to promoting human dignity and American opportunity.

Or you can make that one person feel disrespected and scared of the very movement Bernie has asked you to build.

Every single time you talk to someone who isn't already a Bernie supporter, you have a chance to build his legacy or harm it.

Your choice.
wyld_dandelyon: (Creative Joyous Cat)
Every January, the Rose and Bay awards are open for nominations. The Rose and Bay awards are for excellence in crowdfunding, and the categories are fiction, poetry, art, webcomics, other projects, and patron.

I know I've missed this chance to express appreciation for some of my favorite content providers in the past. Things were busy, I got sick, you know life happens, and sometimes it gets away from you. But today I'm adulting--paying bills (I've got the mortgage check written, but others still to write) and paying a bit of recognition forward for the people whose crowdfunded work I appreciated in 2015. I'm going to check what I bookmarked and see what I shared on Facebook and sit here in the quiet and think about whose work made me smile or think and who inspired me to set aside the computer games and write.

If you can read this, you can nominate too!

I know that often people don't have money to send to their favorite creators. We talk about signal boosts as a way to let creators know you appreciate their work--well, your nomination is kind of a super signal-boost. It tells people who've never heard of you that you think this creator is worthy of their attention.

When you're busking in cyberland, you don't know if anyone is listening. I can tell you, as a creator, I very much value every tip and comment I receive--it lets me know somebody is out there. And I've been very proud of the times I've been nominated for the Rose and Bay award. If you make a nomination, I know the people you nominate will feel the same way.

So, who do you think deserves more recognition than they're getting?
wyld_dandelyon: (Polychrome Wizard)
It was at a fannish gathering--at my house, I think--that I first heard the term "Mary Sue". Some large person with a beard was using it to put down the work of a female writer. I protested. I didn't see anything wrong with the very competent female character he was taking exception to.

Oh no, he said, it's not because she's female, it's because the author has inserted an unrealistically idealized version of herself into the story. It's bad writing, he said. The character isn't interesting and is too perfect and that hurts the story.

Well, ok, I thought, reluctantly. It's kind of like a deus ex-machina critique, but about a character rather than the plot. But it didn't sit well that the critique was given a woman's name, instead of something descriptive of the alleged fault. Why make the critique inherently gendered? Oh, well, I thought, whatever. A name is just a name, and the definition isn't gendered at all.

But over and over, I've heard that particular critique aimed at a woman writer who created a competent woman character. The critic was nearly always male. And the critique was leveled at all very competent female characters, not just the ones with a demonstrable resemblance (beyond gender) to the writer. I have even heard that complaint when the writer wasn't female. The term came, more and more, to be just a generic complaint about very competent women being "unrealistic".

But wait--our genre has a long history of unusually competent protagonists. When the world is at risk and the odds are against you, you need a very competent protagonist. The stories we tell demand one. And we've loved many super-competent characters. No one ever, in my hearing, called Luke Skywalker a "Larry Stu". Or Valentine Michael Smith or Superman or Paul Atreides or Ender Wiggin or Gandalf or James Tiberius Kirk or Dr. Who. In fact, although I am aware of the alternate term to use when applying that critique to male characters, I can't remember ever hearing someone bring that complaint against a male character except in the context of having been asked why it's only women characters who are so labeled.

Now, I certainly have not been a party to all conversations about characters in speculative fiction! But I've been an active party to a lot of them and have overheard or read a lot of critiques of fiction as well. So I think it's safe to say that overwhelmingly the term "Mary Sue" is the term in active use, and that it is exclusively used to belittle and dismiss kick-ass female characters and the female writers who created them. (If the term truly applied to any character, why would someone coin a rhyming term to use when the character is not female?)

The more I think about it, the more I think this isn't due to a change in how the term is used. I believe the term arose out of the unconscious conviction that women are not exceptional. All of the big names in science and politics and engineering (and religion and literature and, well, everything) have been men, right? Certainly that's the impression my textbooks seemed designed to give. The rare woman mentioned was presented as the exception that proved the rule.

But I know better. A lot of women are exceptional. I find more and more of them when I look, both in history and in today's world. Periodically I share a story about one of them on Facebook. I could share a dozen a day and not run out of exceptional women to talk about, if I wanted to post that much. Many of them have had men take the credit for their work, crediting them only with the status of "assistant" and characterizing their work as merely "clerical" or "supportive". Other women were given credit at the time, but quietly and briefly, their presence glossed over as soon as practicable. Others, like Joan of Arc, were discredited or even punished for daring to surpass the roles approved for women. But one way or another, exceptional women have been--and are too often still being--consistently and systematically belittled and dismissed.

I look at all those male heroes in fiction and in history--men who are loved and admired and celebrated. Little boys are encouraged to take them as role models and to attempt to emulate them. Never mind that they are arguably aspiring to more than they will ever achieve, they are still encouraged to dream and to work hard and to excel. They and their heroes are not belittled and dismissed; instead they are praised.

The contrast is pretty obvious.

It's time for us to discard the term "Mary Sue". It carries with it a heavy baggage of sexism, regardless of what an individual critic means to convey by it. If there is a valid critique about authorial insertion or poor characterization, then let's use non-gendered terms for those things.

And above all, let's stop complaining every time a female character is exceptional in a genre which has always focused on heroes. Instead, let's embrace and celebrate all of our heroes, regardless of the gender of the author, the character, or the reader.

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June 2017

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