Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ireland the Beautiful

Rock of Cashel

We're taking our first down-time break of the trip.  Not exactly a pub crawl, though that may come later.  

Blarney is a lovely village beset by tourists.  This time of year is usually crowded, but the economic downturn has kept away all but the most determined tourists, and many of them are avoiding the rain at the moment.  So things seem pretty 'normal' for a place this size, at least to me.  It's quiet, peaceful, and people are just going about their business.  At about 2pm our local time, the buses will stop running quite so often and the owners of the White House, where we're staying, tell us that we'll have Blarney Castle pretty well to ourselves.

Still not sure about kissing the stone.

So far my favorite place has been Cahir Castle.  Dungeon cells, tower refuges, walkways with no safety rails (take that, poopyheaded overprotective gov'mints!) and plenty of nooks and crannies, plus a healthy dose of history, made the castle very special.  I could have spent twice as long there, but as it was they locked us in and we had to be let out with one other tardy group of German tourists that ran around one of the walls taking pictures of each other hanging precariously out of various crenellations.  We wouldn't do anything nearly that silly.  Much more sensible to tickle each other while going up steep staircases or climbing onto narrow ledges off of towers.


The Rock of Cashel was also fun, but more crowded, and we weren't able to get up into the kewl parts.  They're still restoring the poor thing, which has seen better days.  Despite this, some partial paintings (!!) survived and were restored in pieces.  Others were so fragile they were sealed behind an opaque covering for future generations more clever than us to restore.  The Rock has a beautiful view of a Cistercian Abbey that we didn't have time to see, and besides, it looked like a long, muddy trek to it and it had been sprinkling off and on.

So many places to visit, all old, all beautiful and mysterious and interesting.  I'm looking out at Blarney Castle from our window, hoping the rain will give up soon.  The weatherman (aka morale officer) has been telling the locals we'll have better weather any time now.

Any time.  Really.

But honestly, it hasn't rained as hard or steadily as it does at home.  If they think this is bad, boy, they're got another thing coming if they visit our neck of the woods.  And yet, I hear tell that we have sunshine.  My garden has probably exploded!  I'm looking forward to the rest of our vacation, but I have to admit that sometimes I close my eyes and remember how my roses and peonies looked last year, and imagine Wizard in my lap purring up a storm.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ireland Interlude

I love Ireland.

Lots of castles, cathedrals, old towns, water stained by peat, hills, sheep, and one magnificent cave.  Weirdly, I love black pudding, and white pudding isn't bad either.  I feel like the only one who isn't local that likes it.  Staying at B&B establishments has been great.  Everyone has been kind and friendly.  
Driving on the left, not so much, but we're likely to survive the experience.
More later, when it's not, er, late.

Friday, April 17, 2009


By the time you read this, I'll be in stranger climes, drinking wine and tasting the sea salt that's settled on my lips each time I sip.  I might even be relaxed.

Travels (by kzmiller)

The drift, the swift lift, the breathless drop away
The sea, the bright sky, the boisterous, idle play
To wander, to see
emerald, sapphire and gold
To listen, to be
more than can be told 
All in the moment, today
Tomorrow we'll go another way

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Joys of Flying Away

It's the final countdown for my incredible journey or amazing race or whatever it is I'm going on.  The last minute details  are popping up, but I'm knockin' 'em down, with massive help from my friends and family.  This is one of those times when the downside of having lots of animals becomes very readily apparent.  I'll miss them lots, probably about a week in.  I'm a little nervous about how they'll get by without mommy to love them, but that worry is starting to be overshadowed with push-pull.  The push is that they'll be in good hands.  The pull is that my focus is now on flying with everything we'll need.

Ah, travel.  This is one of those times when my nerves start to tingle and my palms start to sweat.  I'm not a regular flier, which my DH takes delight in by teasing me (to keep me laughing, I think.)  Every time I drive by the airport now, I get flutterbelly.  It's not just being up in the air.  It's knowing that if I've forgotten something, things can get really hellish really fast.  Passports.  Tickets.  Boarding passes.  Luggage.  Money.  Having to run in an unfamiliar airport if our flights don't match up just so due to weather conditions or problems on the runway or a flight check that doesn't clear.  I don't mind waiting, even for a very long time.  I mind missing a flight.

I will post pictures and stuff, maybe while I'm there, maybe not until I get back.  Which reminds me of another set of details that make my head hurt.  The amount of electronics I pack these days is weird.  Laptop.  Digital camera.  Cellphone.  Ipod shuffle.  And they all have different power requirements.  And converters, of course.  Remember back in the day when all you brought was a camera and some film?  I'd sigh wistfully, but you know, I remember that I could handle only so much reading while I flew, and that making phone calls home was a challenge to say the least.  Operator, can you get me someone who speaks English or who can understand my broken Czech?

No stress, deep breaths, this is fun, we want to do this, remember?

[palms still sweating]

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Norwescon 2009 Pt. 2

I have to lead this in with the comment that by now my recollection of Norwescon is pretty hazy.  I'm in the throws of prepping to travel to a women's retreat and Ireland (squee!!) and that's where my focus has been.

Saturday morning I got up waaay too early for Cat Rambo's writer's breakfast, and I sat right in the middle so I could listen to multiple conversations if I wanted.  Great stuff.  Then at 10am I met with Sonia Lyris and had second breakfast with her.  We fired up Skype after a bit and my DH was able to attend breakfast as well.  Steve Barnes dropped by but he couldn't stay--he was waiting to meet someone else.  And Richard Threadgill also popped in.  So that turned into the three hour breakfast, not nearly as long as the five hour dinner Friday night, but just as fun.  Lunch was not necessary under the circumstances.  Richard nicely helped me pick out which story to read at the Broad Universe reading for later that night.  I ended up not reading Inner Skull, but my hard SF paranormal "Advances in Science."

I had my picture taken with Darth Vader and a couple of stormtroopers (sorry, it's not digital and I still don't have my scanbed working!) then crashed the Fairwood Writers social.  Not sure crashed is the right term since I'm pretty sure I was welcome, but I'm not a Fairwood Writer and I haven't been part of their workshop, so ... anyway, all the usual suspects were there, and it was fun to be an atypical suspect, since I'm not a regular at Seattle cons.  If they didn't travel to Portland, I might have been a curiosity, but I'm slightly too familiar to be that.  

I dashed off to lurk in the hall outside a panel so that I could catch up at last to Mary Rosenblum, and we went to the Green Room to talk.  I know pros have kids too, but you know, it was not relaxing to have kids running around screaming in there.  Not sure what the best thing to do in that situation would have been except to grin and bear it, so that's what I did.  I got to meet one of Mary's students from Longridge, which was cool, and we got to chat with a ballista maker (he had a ballista with him, btw) and talked about potato guns and fun things to launch.  I also met Steve Barnes again, and we talked about life and death and physicality.  One of these days I'm going to have to get over to Mary's for a drowning of sorrows, and get a chance to talk much longer to Steve about Stuff.

I went to grab something to eat and saw Cat Rambo and her husband.  I pounced and we got to talk about animals and stuff.  (hand waving something else I did that I can't remember) and then I went to Talebones Live!  If you can make it to one, please do.   At the end the sad announcement came--Ken Rand would no longer be with us, as he had requested the machines that sustained his life for so long be switched off.  (If you know Ken, he and his family have requested privacy at this time, so feel free to spread the word, but don't try to contact them.)  One of the first books I had recommended to me as a new writer was Ken's 10% solution.  I've recommended it countless times myself, and loaned out copies, and when the copies don't come back (as is sometimes the case) I just get a new one.  This chapbook is worth every writer's time.  Ken, many blessings upon you and yours.

Sobered, I went to the reading.  We had some folks turn up that were not Broads, and I think the stories were all great, but then again I was adrenalized.  Not as badly as the first time I read.  I practiced some breathing techniques, and imagined that I was teaching rather than reading.  How weird is that?  I'm much more comfortable showing people stuff they don't know how to do than reading something I wrote.  My brain can be very weird and poopyheaded sometimes.  After, some of us had some absenthe and navan.  I wanted to hit the Reno Worldcon party and the dance before the Radcon party, so our group temporarily split up.  This caused me to miss hanging out with Lizzy Shannon--drat!  Anyway, I must have been dehydrated or something.  I was at the dance all of fifteen minutes when I suddenly felt very ill.  I drank lots of water and went to the room for some quiet and fresh, cool air.  Some balcony time and quiet reading fixed me up famously.  

The others showed up, so we headed down to one of the best dances I've ever been to that didn't include my DH.  The fact that they mostly played retro didn't dampen things too much, though I would have preferred more techno.  Dan shouting that he was with the two hottest chicks at the con, and dancing with an amazing gentleman with a powdered face, elegant clothes and a crystal cane were highlights.  We closed it down and helped wind up the hundreds of feet of electrical and sound cords before calling it quits.

Sunday we said goodbye to folks and parted ways with Mary Hobson after reiterating that she was the most awesome roommate a gal could ever have.  C.S. and I had breakfast, and then we drove home.  I managed to make it to my mom's birthday party without falling asleep at the wheel coming or going, and thus concluded a stellar weekend.

More stellar journeys to come.  Stay tuned, but be warned--posts will be very sporadic.  

Monday, April 13, 2009

"Adult Content" #amazonfail

Here's an interesting article that points out the inadequacy of Amazon's explanation that the sudden disappearance of rankings on thousands of books was some sort of glitch.  Commentators and authors observe that when someone receives an email from Amazon claiming their book was removed from rankings due to adult content, and then later claims that it was a glitch, something isn't right.  

This brings us to the troubling subject of adult content.  Should adult content be restricted?  If so, is America willing to give up its Playboy magazine?  I'm thinking no, and the fact that Playboy didn't end up glitched off the ratings system is a clear sign that this is more sinister than Amazon's explanation allows for.  (It also suggests that white male power is alive and well.)  Many have noticed that male-oriented sexually explicit material didn't go away, including those that included sexual violence.  But gay titles did 'mysteriously' disappear, even if they had no sexual situations in them.

I'm interested to see what develops from this.  In the meantime, I expect Amazon to begin dodging liability.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Norwescon 2009 Pt. 1

There may not be parts 2 onward--I have a lot to do this week in prep for Ireland, so I may not have time to blog.  But I had to at least talk about how awesome Norwescon was!  There were some quirks, but nothing that made me feel bitchy.

C.S. and I came in Thursday afternoon.  Check in went smoothly, but immediately we realized that there would be insufficient parking for everybody, so no moving the car once it was parked.  The closest parking spot we could find was somewhere in Canada--it was a long hike back to the Tower.  No fridge in the room, so we put our booze and food on the deck.  C.S. managed to get the very last roll-away bed!  Thank goodness.

I grabbed food at the bar, clam chowder and salad (with drinks.)  I wish all my meals were that good.  The rest of the food was okay, but that clam chowder was a great start to the weekend.  I did commit a sin, though.  I ate alone.  Then, dancing.  Yes, a dance was held on Thursday night, and I was a very happy camper.  The music rocked.  I noticed that new luggage had appeared in our room, evidence that the wonderful M.K. Hobson, our roomie, had arrived.  We ran into each other later, and I commenced to talk her ear off.  Luckily she had more than one ear, so I was able to talk more ears off later.

I liked the techno to dance to, and there was plenty of that on Thursday night.  As much as it's fun to go down memory lane, as we did on Saturday night, it can't compare to the intoxicating rhythms of music designed to induce a euphoric melding of mind and body.  Saturday night's music would have been greatly improved if it had more techno mixed in.  Anyway, I got to see for the first time 'balloon man.'  The story (rumor) goes that he had to lose a lot of weight to save his life, so he started dancing.  He chose a unique way that's sort of a cross between rhythmic gymnastics and tai chi.  He alternates between using feathery wings and a giant, translucent ball that he manipulates with grace and zen-like focus.  Every time I landed at the dances, he was there.

At 11pm, Jeff Soesbe held a kewl spelling bee.  Wookiee has two ees.  Really.  I would have gotten it wrong too!  Oh, and when someone asks you to pick a number, don't pick 3.

Friday was Ken Scholes day.  I went to his infamous class for writers.  We had some pros appear, both to provide input and, it seemed to me, to listen and learn.  If you're a writer and get a chance to go to a Ken Scholes presentation/workshop/lecture on writing, do yourself a favor and go.  He had three hours for this class, and we ran out of time.  I took lots of notes.  

Afterward I parked my butt in the bar to eat, and started running into people.  Before I knew it, I'd been introduced to and spoken with many wonderful folks including members of Fairwood Writers (a fantastic pro writing group,) the excellent Cat Rambo and her car-kewl and mellow husband Wayne, the amazing Kelly Robson aka kelly_yoyo, the awesome A.M. Dellamonica.  and others.  I was in the bar for five hours.  Finally I got my numb butt out of the chair and headed up to the room, where I talked M.K.'s other ear off for a bit before going to Jeff Soesbe's reading (described on his blog, and yes, they were well received and I enjoyed the stories a lot.)  I also stayed for Mark Teppo's reading.  The stories created openings for much discussion later and will continue to do so.  Jeff came over for absenthe (it's spelled many ways, more usually absinthe but that's the way it's spelled on my bottle--maybe it's a French thing) and Navan.  

Lots of fun.  Saturday and Sunday to come, if I have time to go over them.  I'm sure I'm forgetting kewl stuff (including a pro party I remember crashing at some point,) and I probably got some stuff out of order, but that's what happens.  Best thing to do if you want to experience a con is to go and grok it.  Grok.  G, R, O, K, grok.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Sporadic Blogging Warning


This is a test, this is only test of the emergency blogging lapse alert system.  If this had been an actual blogging lapse, you wouldn't be reading this entry.

In all, or some, seriousness, I'll be busy at Norwescon this weekend, so blogging may be even more uneven than usual.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled web surfing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The List Continues

I didn't get as much done as I wanted, but I felt that writing after dinner was important, since I didn't do writing the whole rest of the day, and that went on until the bedtime meltdown.  I can't go into too much detail because it's about the girl, but I will say that autism continues and will always continue to affect her life.  The focus of the meltdown was a change from the norm.  She's learned to cope with all kinds of changes, but a brand-spanking new one that she has never dealt with before in another form, that threw her.  No basis of comparison.  She was so shaken up by it, she couldn't sleep.  

The child who can sleep regardless of what's going on at the same precise time every day, even weekends (she does love her routine) couldn't sleep.  

It actually felt really good to play mom in a way I haven't played mom in a long time.  I got her to do three things.  First, develop a mantra.  Hers was, "I don't have to do this if I don't want to."  (The change was an optional thing.)  Second, warm glass of milk, and we talked about the biology behind that.  Third, pick up a book she's read before and loves, and give herself some time to read quietly while the effect of the warm milk take over.

Worked like a charm.

I'm curious how the first airplane thing will work out.  Really well, I think, because she'll be surrounded by familiarity.  She's been to the airport several times.  She's had fair warning, months of it, so she can work it out slowly.  She's going to be with me and her brother, always comforting even when we bug the crap out of her.  And she's studied our destination extensively, with added bonus that we'll be meeting my DH there.  So it'll all be good.

Onward to the poopyheaded list:

done Dishes
done Laundry (especially bedsheets and workout clothes)
done Pack for Norwescon
Finalize itinerary for Ireland (taking with me)
Book the castle stay (at Norwescon)
Put books together if I have time (not gonna happen)
done Practice reading Inner Skull for Norwescon
done Pack bag for workout tomorrow and put in car
done Put Norwescon bags and booze in car
done Get kids to clean catboxes thoroughly
done Put garbage out to curb in the evening

That should have me set for this weekend.  Then it'll be on to next week, which will be probably the busiest and most stressful week of my life, followed by pure and absolute bliss bliss bliss.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Still Sore

I'm still sore, but recovering.  Once I get moving, I'm fine.  It's just the getting moving in the first place after, say, sitting for five seconds.  That's way too much staying still, apparently, and the legs refuse to work without shouting chants like "hell no we won't go!" and waving banners and generally putting up a fuss.

Tough, I say.  Time to get back to work.

Oh, and you legs are not getting fed today.  It's a fast day.  I don't want to hear anymore whining--this happens every other day, it's not like it's a surprise or anything.

Huge to-do list today, and I was tempted to put it online, and then I thought no, it would be boring and dumb, and then I thought hey, accountability, and then I thought no one gives a darn about accountability, and then I thought no one cares about all my personal stuff anyway so why do I bother blogging, which wrapped me back around full circle to the people who are at least vaguely interested in my life check in here and might be interested in a dumb list so might as well post it:

done Workout
done Redraft cover art so the shell looks less like a spine and the ear is lower
done Mail box 
         and manuscripts
done Make photocopies onto kewl paper
Laundry (especially wash bed sheets)
Start packing for Norwescon
Finalize some sort of itinerary for Ireland
Pick a castle and book a night there
Build twelve front and back book covers from photocopies
done Buy office supplies
Practice reading Inner Skull for Norwescon
Pack bag for workout tomorrow (decided to skip workout to get stuff done)
done! Garden if there's time (yeah, right)
done Write after dinner
done Ack, almost forgot--shop for my mom's birthday present
I'll mark things I got done if I have time, or relist tomorrow so y'all can see how lame I am.  Today, that's literally lame.  [limps off to start list]

Here's the final (reverse) image of the cover I'm doing--it's meant to be coloring book style so that people can personalize their book covers.  My scan bed is out of touch with my confuter, so this is a photobook image.  Just as well ... less likely that the author of Russet Noon will steal it like she stole the cover art of the book she will fail to produce.  Oops, was I snarky just now?  Oh well.

I'm leaving the rest of the list for tomorrow.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Painmaster

I had something happen today that I haven't had happen in a looong time.  I had my leg muscles seize up from lactic acid.  Not muscle exhaustion--I could, and did, do more reps, but I did them with that achy, crampy feeling dogging me and as soon as I stopped moving even for a few seconds the muscles didn't want to move again.  They bit me and bit me hard when I went to the next set, and then resigned themselves until I stopped, and then again insisted that I really needed to not move anymore.  

I expect to be sore tomorrow, to say the least.  

(whining idle postulation alert)  I may decide to live downstairs tomorrow rather than climb stairs.  I'll have the kids cook and bring me food, and if they're at school, well, I won't eat.  I can drink from the bathroom faucet, I have internet access, books, writing materials, art materials--I can live here quite comfortably for some time, thank you.  There's the iffy part about sleeping on the 3' padded chest, but I'll make due.

I'm not super-sore yet, but it's been only 7 hours.  Teh sore, it waits.

Unlike the first two times my trainer F. worked with me, this time I had only two short breaks, and he kept adding weights, laughing sadistically.  Okay, I'm making up the laughing part.  He said things like excellent effort, but I know he was laughing inside, especially when he helped me up from the ground.  I could get up right away, really.  I just didn't feel like it just then.  Really.  

No, really.  I was contemplating getting up when he offered his hand.  So much for a few seconds break before the next set of weight hefting.  

This is what trainers are awesome for.  He knows my brain, too, weirdly because hardly anyone knows my brain.  He said stuff like, let's do just five reps this time, you're tired and I (stupidly) said I think I can do eight, and he said excellent.  If you think you can do ten, go for it.  (D'oh!)  Which of course I can do ten.  Would I do ten on my own?  Would I push myself hard on any of this stuff?  When I'm on my own I tell myself I did a hard workout, but let's face it, the answer would be no.  Compare the 25 minutes with F. vs. Kami on her own 'pushing hard' for an hour, and there's really no comparison in effort or results.  I have voices in my head that tell me I'm doing great, and then they're all puffed up with virtue when I leave the gym all sweaty and gross.  The voices that come from F. are encouraging too, but he knows the voices in my head are full of bs, pretty much like most people's.  Even he has a trainer.

Anyway, when I expressed interest in Boot Camp, he said "we'll see if we can work you up to that" and I thought dang!  Every time I hear him say good effort now, I also hear in my own head, "and if you work hard enough long enough, you might be able to join in the Boot Camp class."  I'm pretty sure that was on purpose.

He pulled another good one today too.  I'd mentioned that I'd done some sort of training off and on all my life, and that I had no excuses as far as getting and being in shape: my father was an alternate on the Olympic skiing team (his specialty was the giant slalom.)  My sister and I were expected to be active and outdoorsy in a variety of sports all our lives.  So when I was struggling with a sadistic exercise known as the row pull-up, he said, "you're doing great!  Those olympic athlete genetics are coming through!" and I thought dammit, I have to make daddy proud.

BTW,  with the row pull-up the closer you are to horizontal, the harder those things are, and I was about halfway closer to the ground than the model in the link.  Yowza.  I also held onto a bar with my hands shoulder width apart.  I don't know if it's harder that way than with the grips but I'll say it is just 'cause I'm still in whining mode.

So now I have kewl new things to do in the gym, thanks to my painmaster at 24 Hour Fitness.  It's never the specific club, it's the people, and they have good people at the club.  

I'll be back there Tuesday, because I'm like that.  If I can still work the clutch on the car.  Maybe with some ibuprofen and some deep tissue massage, I'll manage it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's Quiet ...

But not too quiet.

I've been enjoying an evening home alone.  Considering the amount of time I have to myself, and how respectful the kids are of my space, it amazes me that this should feel special.  It does, though, in that 'only have to do my own dishes and laundry,' 'don't have to make dinner for anyone but myself' kind of way.  Any mess made is a mess I made myself, and any mess cleaned up stays cleaned up.

Ahhh, bliss.

There are many kinds of bliss, so I don't feel a need to cling to this.  I do appreciate it, though.

In other news, I got a heap of writing done.  As much as writing on novels feels rewarding, writing on short stories and non-fiction feels more sane at the moment.  Is it the sense of quick response?  I don't know.  The novels are not abandoned, but they are resting for the next little bit, possibly until after Ireland (though just typing that fills me with anxiety.  No working on novels until mid-May?!!  Really?!!)  I've also got a heap of reading done.  Lots more to do for the master's class and the literary award I read for, but I see lights at the end of the tunnel, and I hear a strange, uplifting music that summons me closer ... 

Cave sirens.  Such a menace.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I give up

I've decided that writing is a waste of time.  I'm going to erase all my writing off the hard drive so that there's no turning back.  

I think I'll become a stripper.  I was planning on losing a few pounds anyway.  Maybe get some breast augmentation and lipo with our savings.  I bet I can make a ton in tip money.  My DH can become my kept man at last!

I knew in the back of my mind I'd never make it as a writer anyway.  Reality has come home to the farm.  I'm more likely to win the lottery than become a bestseller.

I wonder how many years I can work as a pole dancer before I'm too saggy to get good tips?