Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh deer ...

Just for fun ...
No, it's not photoshopped. This is just life on the hill.

Copyright © Kamila Zeman Miller, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WorldCon Reno: Renovation Memories

Fast forward to my first day of work after Worldcon, and then going home to zucchini sauce on squash ravioli (delicious, btw.)  I'm really tired but I want to spend all my spare time either writing or gardening, preferably both.  What I really could use is a way to dictate stories while I'm gardening.  There are ways to do it.  I just can't afford them (yet).

I learned a lot from the panels I attended at Worldcon, and I got to talk to some really fabulous people.  I'll write about highlights in no particular order on the blog until they no longer seem interesting to anyone, even me.

Convention Highlight One

I went through the art show early on.  I was impressed by the quality and quantity of art, so much so that I suffered a kind of burn-out thingy that made me feel like I was skimming Shakespeare and not getting the important parts.  And then I reached the Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell panels, and realized I was looking at cover art.  Something went ping in my brain.  

I'd been looking at cover art with an artist's eye for composition, rather than a graphic designer's eye for where the hell will we put the title and author's name.

I'd just about finished processing the wow moment (it took about 48 hours) and I thought I had it all figured out, when I attended a panel about book covers.  

Naturally, my world flipped another 180 degrees, and because art is magic, I didn't end up in the same place I started.  It was like coming home after a few years and finding that nothing is quite as I remembered it.  

If you can imagine this (assuming you care):  You can plan your art to include the title and author sections and get a really nice, capable and striking cover, or you can compose a spectacular piece of art and in the process of trying to figure out where to put the damned title and byline, do something really creative and get a spectacular cover.

There's also plan C, where you leave opportunities for text on the cover, but do whatever you want to make things full of awesome, and then place the text in creative and unexpected ways that will often make people take a second look as much if not more than the art itself.

Part of it is luck, and part is design, part is time constraints and part is what energy you have to devote to this stuff.  I took notes in the form of sketches because I couldn't write adequate descriptions fast enough, but I can do a halfway decent 30 second sketch thanks to life drawing.

Personal convention highlight one:  Having a double hot chocolate with the extraordinary Chris York and her wonderful husband.  Good times, good conversation, fun, learning, sadness (I didn't let her know at the time that I still feel pain at my father's passing after almost twenty years) and much talk about Sydney, literary agent.

Non-convention highlight that's conceivably anyone's business but my own:  playing in a warm pool with my DH, remembering what it was like to pretend that I was a mermaid.

Good times.  I could have stood for at least one more day in the area.

Alas, now it's back to work, and double-alas, not the work I want to do.  But it's necessary.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Gambling with Life

Naturally, my ideas about what I'd be doing today went out the window (which opens, but not wide enough for someone to defenestrate themselves) starting out first thing in the morning. But it worked out great. Tomorrow I'll have to do some careful picking and choosing--lots of panels and events that I'm interested in are going on simultaneously. We all try to make the best use of our limited as we can, but just how limited our time is becomes highlighted when we're at a multi-track event. Or, more grimly, when we get bad news at the doctor's office. I can make myself crazy trying to make the 'best' choice, so I just try to go with my gut. If that fails, I just pick and hope it works out, knowing full well that I might have spent my time better doing something else. You've got to live with what you choose, and live with what you get from what you choose.

The casinos highlight that, in a way. Choosing to play one more game, hoping for a better outcome than the last dozen. Choosing to play one more game after a win, hoping for a 'winning streak.' Either way, the day is spent in a chair while waitresses feed you cocktails ...

I'm not judging, though it may sound that way. Our everyday lives are often just like that, even though the setting is the same. The daily job grind. Commuting. Doing the little daily things that make you happy, like having sex or eating dinner in front of the television or surfing the web. The only thing that makes the ritual of daily life bad is regret. There's a balance between pleasure/contentment and consequences. For me, I wouldn't get enough pleasure from gambling to balance against the pain of losing precious resources that feel tighter than I like as it is. As for the time I'd lose--that's a no-brainer. I don't value gambling enough to spend the time to engage in it.

Well, maybe a dollar and a few minutes.

But I do value sitting in on panels, and wandering through the art show, and swimming and hot-tubbing, and drinking exotic, silly drinks. For someone else, these would be a total waste of precious time and resources. I can't say that they're wrong--for them. The best thing, I think, is to occasionally check with yourself to make sure that the equation truly balances the way you think. And if you're wrong, well, that's life. We can't always be right, and we can't always win. But we can learn, and maybe even change for the better if we think it's worth the effort.

It sounds like unusually (silly) philosophical stuff considering I started out talking about what I'm going to do tomorrow, but it isn't. It's pretty simple, actually. Too simple to be wise. I don't think it has enough elegance to qualify as common sense. If choices become too much of a big-deal, then the joy and simplicity of daily life gets bogged down by too much weight. But I think that choices are best if they're active and awake choices, rather than wishful-thinking and passive. Either way, though, once made, those choices lead to experiences that are dictated in-part by chance. And that, my friends, makes gamblers of us all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Roughing It

Here we are at Worldcon in Reno, Nevada. So far I've gone for a swim, ate dinner, and met a couple of great friends in the hallway. We got to the convention center too late to pick up our badges, so I have a temporary Thursday thingy. Not that I'll use it. Exhaustion has set in.

I love our room. It's so ... tacky. Normally I'm all over the gilded mirror, elaborate tile and big beds but partly because it's squeezed into a relatively small space and partly because it's not very well matched up stuff, I feel like I'm staying at a Victorian-meets-pseudo-Roman bordello. It's wonderful. I especially like the huge jet tub (almost as big as our bed) that's right next to the bed. And the jet tub has a mirror over it--gilded (of course!) Our shower doubles as a steam room.

I would love to peek into their giant suites like the bridal or presidential just so I could giggle. And yet, in its own tacky way, it's almost kinda gorgeous.

If you've stayed in this hotel you know exactly what I'm talking about. I'm not going to out them, though. I don't want even the slightest chance of anyone feeling bad, though I'm sure they're not exactly blind to the shortcomings of their decor. And those shortcomings are offset by the fun.

Tomorrow: more pool time, silly drinkies by the pool, meet-up with some wonderful writers, gawking at art, writing, etc. But first I have to go to reg and pick up my badge. I come all the way out here and it's nothing but work work work ....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Slowly Getting Weirder as Exhaustion Sets In

I have three days off in a row, so naturally I'm working hard enough that I hurt all over.  All in the name of getting the house into some sort of decent shape.  I'm so tired, though, that I'm not even sure what that means anymore.  Maybe I just want to get the walls painted (ceiling all done, yay!) and the floor put in upstairs so that I can pretend that from here on out all I have to do is write, show up at my day job, and eat bon bons.  

But of course there's always one more thing.  For example, I'm totally ignoring the fact that our deck is in dire need of maintenance.

La la la I didn't just type that I'm ignoring everything else that's languishing because of this dumb floor-replacement-turned-upstairs-remodel project.  

After tomorrow I'll start setting up to do the floors and then everything will be unicorn farts and fairy dandruff.  Yay!  I'll never have to work on the house again.  Weeee!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Can be Good when a Kitteh Sprays

Tom Riddle

We have this cat that hangs out around outside.

I refuse to adopt this cat.

This cat is an unaltered male and sprays everywhere.  This is extremely helpful to me, as I'm far less likely to let this cat that I absolutely will not adopt into the house.  I mean, I'm not even thinking about it, although it would be easy to do, since we're feeding him.

But we're not really feeding him that much.  Just a wee bit.  He catches rats and mice in the barn, and that's what I'd like him to do--to remain healthy and happy catching rats and mice in the barn, as opposed to hanging around so much on our deck cutely touching noses with the Poop and napping on the deck chairs.

Not that he's cute.  Well, okay, maybe he's a little cute.  But he sprays!  And, I haven't named him, so we're safe.
Actually, he has a name but we did not name him.  I was telling my friend R about him (not that I'm interested enough in this cat to actually talk about him to my friends that much--just a couple of mentions here and there) and she said, so you're not naming He Who Shall Not Be Named.

So I blame R that we call him Voldemort and Tom and Tom Riddle--which, I should mention is particularly fitting, him being a tom and all.

But we didn't name him.  That was R.  Just because he has a name now, it doesn't mean we like him.  We don't.  We just like what he does.  And I don't (usually) talk nice to him or anything, nor do I take any pleasure (well, okay, some) in the fact that I can get closer to him now before he runs off.

But, in the highly unlikely event that I put hands on this cat, he is not coming into the house.  Because, yay!, he sprays.  And even if we fix him, assuming we can put hands on this cat, it would not stop him from spraying.  

So we're never adopting this cat.  He'll stay outside, un-named (by us), forever.

I really, really mean it.

Even if it starts to snow really hard and his ears are folded down and he's staring in outside and we have a snuggly fire.

Because he sprays.

Thank gawd he sprays.

Sunday, August 07, 2011


The dogs were going bananas and they just wouldn't quit.  I looked outside.  All their noses pointed in the same direction--the veggie garden.  Oh noes!  The young doe who's been nibbling on my trees and grapes was probably brazenly flicking her tail at them while decimating something even more precious, like my three small blueberry shrubs. 

I dashed out and--

It wasn't a deer.  It took me a while to count them all.  Six raccoons--two adults and four older babies--had made themselves comfortable in one of our silver maples.  

I got the girl and we snapped some photos before I let Chase out so she could sniff around the base of the tree and bark at them.  Then I sprayed them all with water.  We waited about a half hour--shower, rinse, repeat in another half hour.  One of them actually hissed at me.  But soaked raccoons are so cuuuute!  We brought out a stick and a sword just in case they attacked us, but although they were peeved, they didn't get riled enough to want to come down and teach us a lesson.  

The next night, about 3am actually so I guess that would be dang o'clock in the morning, the dogs started up again so I went out.  Just one adult raccoon, as far as I could tell.  I got the hose and sprayed him good.  

I haven't seen the raccoons since.  I hope they stay away.  The hens are safe at night in the coop, but our neighbors have their chickens loose and I don't want another slaughterfest.  Cute, but very, very destructive.

And darling when wet and hissing.

I may add pictures to this post later.  (Posted 8/8/2011)