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We remembered today that Mom owned a handgun that my dad bought and customized for her.

It's mine now, I guess.

This is weird, owning a handgun.

Actually I've long wanted to learn how to handle, care for, and shoot a firearm. Seems like one of those skills that can come in useful in life. I'm not so much concerned with defending myself as I am with knowing how to safely manage potentially dangerous objects.

Another weird thing I discovered: I'm not all that attached to this house. Mom and Dad separated when I was four. We moved around a lot after that, till I was 12 and we moved in here. I always thought I'd be very emotional about this place, but it turns out that it mainly felt like home because she lived here.

A few years ago, though, Mom and Dad finally sold the old place where we'd lived before they separated. That was emotional. Did I ever write about that? Because there's actually quite a story involved with that house.

Actually, let me know if I did. Because I thought I remembered doing so, but I went back and tried to find that blog entry and couldn't spot it.
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Dad's got a new difibrillator implant and he's on track to be released next week. Woohoo!

Now will begin the Herculean task of getting him through cardiac rehab. >.> This is going to be interesting...

Oh. Oh ho ho. And cleaning his house. >.< Wow. Well, part of me looks forward to the challenge of organizing the place. I've kind of been itching to scrub down his kitchen for years.

Dad's turn

May. 9th, 2010 10:10 pm
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And now my father has had a heart attack. I was visiting my mom on Saturday when he called and asked for a ride to the hospital. He's doing well; says he feels better than he did before the event, in fact. Recently his appetite had been poor and he'd been sleeping badly, and now he seems to be more perky than he's been in a while. Which really makes me *facepalm.*

The attack seems to have been caused by his cardiac arrhythmia. When it started acting up, he dismissed it as the usual symptoms until he suddenly realized he needed an ambulance. He got treatment before any lasting damage was done, so hopefully they'll be able to get this under control.

In the meantime, despite his protests that he's "fine," I'm going to sic all our relatives on him. He's the kind of guy who toughs things out all by his lonesome because he's convinced that asking for help is "being a burden."

I'm beginning to feel like the only way I get to see my family is in a cardiac ICU. :P
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Back to work today. I feel sort of like I stepped off to a different world for a while, and I sort of keep expecting everything to have changed while I was gone.

Mental weirdness aside, everything is going extremely well! Sis finally got a decent night's sleep last night, which did wonders for her. Her appetite is strong, her incision is healing, soreness is fading, and she's got iron supplements to start replacing all the blood they drew for tests. Her next couple of weeks is laced with doctor's appointments and labs, of course, but I expect her to be rejoining the human race sometime this weekend.

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Next day, and all is going well. She's up and around. They've gotten her disconnected from most of the tubes and wires, and today she sat up in a chair next to the bed for much of the day. Her back and chest hurt from the surgery, and since she's resistant to pain killers, she'll generally have to put up with it, but she says it's feeling a little better than yesterday. Sitting up helped, stretching muscles abused from the operation and shifting points of pressure around.

She ate a bit, but her stomach is queasy from anesthesia, lack of sleep, and a day of taking medicine on an empty tummy. Hopefully she'll feel better tomorrow. Also hopefully she'll get a good night's sleep. Hospitals aren't always the most restful places. But her energy is good for what she's been through, and her vitals are excellent. Tomorrow they think they'll move her to a regular room out of the ICU, and she'll get a visit from the physical therapist, who will show her how to put pants on when you're not allowed to bend over.

Most remarkable, for me, is how she looks. Always before, when she's been in hospital she has been completely wiped out, exhausted to the point of apathy, and her complexion has tended toward an unsettling almost corpse-grey. So when they let us see her after the surgery, the first thing I noticed was that her complexion is a healthy, rosy color and for the first time ever her hands and feet feel warm! She always had very poor circulation. Also, despite how understandably lousy she feels, she really is quite perky. Comparatively speaking, at least. But her eyes are bright and she's got the energy for irritation and humor, which if you've ever been in hospital for something serious enough to get you near the OR, you know is not a small thing.

I am also doing well. I'm not getting all freaked out, I'm remembering to take care of myself, and this hotel really is quite nice (and inexpensive!). I wish I'd remembered to bring my swimsuit; they have an indoor pool, and it'd be a nice way to relax in the evening before I go to bed. The hospital is astonishingly nice as well. It almost spooks me how it has an almost resort-like feel to it. It's very strange. Hospitals have always weirded me out this way. It's like they have two faces: there's the public face, with all the well-appointed visitors lounges and cafes and lobbies and what have you, and then behind the scenes there are the operating rooms and patients' beds and nurses' stations. I know they're trying to dilute the coldness and sterility, but it feels like human suffering being hidden behind an attractive facade, and the effect is more pronounced the nicer the public areas of the hospital are. At least at this particular one it's minimized. It helps that the staff really do go out of their way to make patients feel welcome and as cozy as they can. It feels less like they're just hiding the ugly side and more like they're honestly trying to improve it.

I bought and already finished Rob Thurman's new book, Roadkill. I enjoyed it very much, though the pacing was a bit odd and I can't claim much in the way of twists. It rather read like a character piece wrapped in an external plot, but given the characters I can deal with that. :)

When Sis is feeling better, she's next in line to read it.

Night, all!
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As of 7:30 am, Sis is in for surgery. I'm told it'll probably run somewhere around five hours, so we ought to hear something sometime around noon.

In the meantime, I've found unexpected distraction in the hotel landscaping. It has a pond. With ducks. They are technically wild mallards, but spoiled rotten. They seem to have caught on that if they follow humans around the parking lot for a while, the silly primates will eventually catch on and pop a quarter into the birdfeed machine for them. I suspect most people would be slightly unsettled by a flock of about 20 ducks following them around, but I find them cute, and also thoroughly unintimidating. When you're used to being bitten by irritable parrots who can generate enough force to crack nuts open with their beaks, being pinch-pecked by a duck loses its terror.

More this afternoon, most likely. In the meantime, I have acquired the new Rob Thurman novel (after a thorough hunt through the Harrisburg Barnes & Noble, which had apparently sold out of all but four copies of her book by the afternoon of the first day), and plan to Not Think for a while with its help.
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Starting tonight, I'm going to be largely out of touch, or more accurately not reliably online, for the next week. My sister is having her heart surgery so I'm going to be at the Hershey Medical Center, playing medical proxy. My laptop will be coming with, and there's wireless both at the medical center and at the hotel, so I will be checking my messages at least once a day. But if you want to reach me, you will be best served to drop me an email or LJ message or something rather than trying to catch me on chat.

No, you won't be disturbing me. In fact, I will welcome distractions. I just can't schedule them.

For those of you who are o.O or "WTF?!": this is A Good Thing. Sis had this aortic deformity diagnosed when she was six. It has affected her health and energy her whole life, we've always known she would need this surgery, and she's having it done when she's still in young and in good health, before complications have begun to develop. Her surgeon is one of the best out there (literally, one of the best in the world--her cardiologist has connections!), who has done this surgery so many times he has used the word 'routine,' and she's still young enough to take full advantage of the benefits that will accrue from a fully functional heart. Still. Heart surgery. You know. One gets nervous about these things.

The surgery itself is on Wednesday. I will post an update afterward for those of you who want to know the outcome.

Me :)
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In memory of family and friends who have lost the battle with cancer; and in support of the ones who continue to conquer it! Post this on your LJ if you know someone who has or had cancer.
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I baked some pretty awesome blackberry muffins last week, except I forgot to put in baking powder. Pretty tasty, anyway, and as experimental textures go...well, it was experimental. In the sense of, um, oops.

We took Mom back to her place this weekend. She's doing well enough to take care of herself. Huge relief! And a bonus weekend with the family. After that grueling slog through medical emergency, everybody was kinda down for the count, and I wanted out anyway, so I volunteered to walk the dog all over town (got to revisit some old haunts I don't usually get out to) and then spent a day puttering around in my uncle's garden. Came home with a whole produce aisle's worth of harvest, along with two venison steaks (score!). I made amends to the parrots, who were cranky about having had no one to play with for three weeks (my aunt feeds them, but let's just say they don't see eye-to-eye on the definition of "quality time").

In possibly related news, I've developed a weird sensation in my throat since my visit. It feels like I'm trying not to cry, only all the time. Now, I'm aware that this could be a harbinger of some serious medical conditions, but betting it was instead a harbinger of autumn allergies, I gave it a week of benadryl. No dice so far, so I'll get it checked by a doctor next week. Next suspect on my list is mild asthma. I wouldn't be the first person in my family to develop it.

Then again, now that the emergency is all over, I suppose it's possible that I just want to pitch a good fit. I prefer to put off the histrionics in the midst of crisis because you never know when you'll need a clear head, but...well, I've never been in the position of approving medical procedures on other people before. Hearing the doctor rattle off a list of long-shot but potentially devastating consequences of inserting a chest tube and then being asked for permission was a bucket of not-fun. Maybe I should rent the most depressing movie I can get my hands on and have an embarrassing crying jag some night this weekend.

But I'll visit the doc anyway; no sense taking stupid chances. And hey, while I'm there, maybe I can see about getting that EKG pushed forward. I don't really feel like waiting till November.

Finally (I know I'm repeating myself) OMG SUPERNATURAL TONIGHT! Last year I had three shows I took the trouble of catching when they first aired on TV. Now I'm down to one, because Fox moved Fringe to share Supernatural's slot like a bunch of jerks and Siffy-Yiffy bailed out on all that is good and moved Eureka to Fridays. Those're two separate things, by the way. They bailed out on all that is good AND they moved Eureka to Fridays. Not that I'm surprised. Anything they do right at this point is a happy accident and probably evidence that God does exist and works miracles.

PS: Yes, you may feel free to also call it Siffy-Yiffy. In fact, let's try to make it a meme. It's slightly less stupid than the real name, anyway.

Messy week

Mar. 17th, 2008 01:01 pm
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This week:
A friend died of lymphoma, only three weeks after it came out of remission;
I went to his funeral;
I reconciled with some estranged friends there;
I had dinner with another friend I haven't seen in three years;
I finally met another friend's girlfriend, who may or may not be crazy (he has what may be understatedly referred to as 'poor taste in women,' but at least this one can speak in coherent sentences);
I discovered my aunt and uncle are getting a divorce, leaving my 12-year-old cousin feeling rattled and adrift;
I found out said uncle (and his two large dogs) will be moving in with my mother, prompting a sudden and...let's just say drastic reorganization of the house.

Adventurous, to say the least.

It is, I suppose, one of those "good out of bad" situations. I won't whine about life not being fair, because I don't expect it to be fair. If life is anything, in fact, I suspect it's a learning experience, which to my mind is an epithet something like the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Because frankly, learning experiences may be useful, but they tend to suck. But still: Hard and messy, but maybe in the long run it'll all work out.

My friend died far too young (only a year older than me, and that is doing interesting things to my perspective), and I know it's a silly thought because it's really fairly irrelevant, but of all the people I know, he was simply the least likely. He was one of the straightest shooters. Responsible, organized, honst, friendly, clean living, active: in no way was he the sort of fellow you'd expect to come down with cancer at a young age, and it first struck him at a time when his life literally seemed to be opening up to all its potential. He was just about to pursue the job of his dreams, he had just been able to afford a vacation he had always wanted (which he never got to go on, because all that money then went to the chemo treatments), his adored little niece had just been born. And I feel so much compassion for his brother, because they were each other's best friends, always always there in each other's lives, and I know how I'd feel if I lost my sister. Their family has suffered so much already this past year, from losing other relatives to the baby being born with skeletal deformities.

And yet, in the wake of his death, his brother and sister-in-law are pulling their marriage together and stepping up to take responsibility for their lives. Bereaved friends and family are reconnecting and reconciling over old fights. A lot of long-needed readjustments are going on in a lot of peoples' heads, and I suspect that in the long run, a number of Steve's nearest and dearest will come out of this with better lives for the experience. Steve...well, I wouldn't entirely put it past him to willingly make this sort of sacrifice for them, if he could know what the results would be. He was that kind of guy. Certainly it's the best memorial I can think of for him, and would make him happier than anything else conceivably could.

As for my aunt and uncle (whose name is also Steve, ironically), I don't even know why this is happening. Still, it doesn't surprise me entirely, because I know him, and I've watched them, and my cousin has said things a few times when I've talked to her (always listen to the kids; they know what's going on, and they're the least likely to lie). I suspect it has to do with stubbornness, and inflexibility, and maybe a bit of self-sabotage. Mainly I worry about my cousin, who's a good kid--the kind of kid who might try to take this on her own shoulders, when she's only 12 and shouldn't have to bear that kind of burden, and couldn't do anything about it if she tried. If me talking to her about it will help, I'll be happy to do so, and also our family is the sort where we'll willingly crack her parents' heads if they make this harder on her than it has to be. They're good people, and usually self-controlled, but possibly not above a certain amount of pettiness in a divorce, and neither of them deserve that any more than she does.

But in the wake of this, Mom's getting a kick in the pants. We've worried about her for the past year. Since losing her job, she hasn't been able to find another, money's getting tight, and without anyone else around to motivate her, she has the habits of a hibernating sloth: not a good picture when you throw in a slight tendency toward depression when she doesn't have something to distract her. Her brother moving in with her solves a myriad of problems on that front, plus it'll be good for him because she knows how to deal with him, and it's close to Grandma, who's not getting any younger, AND it forces Mom to finally do some work on our old cluttered, half-dismantled house. The only real question there is how easy it'll be to deal with two large, frisky black labs in a fairly contained space, where four small parrots also live. A certain amount of segregation may be in order here. Sorry, two questions: the other is, Will Steve be able to cope with his other sister, who lives with Grandma, or will they enter into a to-the-death cage match armed only with obnoxious quips, serrated razor-sharp elbows, and steel chairs--and if so, WHO will WIN? But that's more of a betting pool situation.
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Sometimes you come across things that you just have to blog about. We were...Alice, this might be traumatic for you, it involves dead betas and weirdness...we were celebrating our boss's 50th birthday this morning, when her assistant dives into our break room kitchen and hauls out a small lunch-pail-sized box. "Shall we go out and bury Bert?" she asks. Well, half of us had no idea what she was talking about, till my supervisor explained to the room in a desert-dry tone, "Bert is our department fish who died years ago and has been sitting in the freezer ever since." Apparently Bosslady has been having trouble letting go.

Man... I've eaten food out of that freezer!

She also insisted on hugging each and every one of us, shortly before announcing that she had acquired a flu while visiting Gettysburg over the weekend. Wow, thanks. Nothing says "I care" like germs.

Anyway, Thanksgiving was super-fine. My hermit-like father actually came out of his burrow to visit us at our humble abode, and the three of us--Dad, Sister, and I--had a lovely Thanksgiving all to ourselves. Making a holiday dinner for a family can be grueling and tedious. Making it with a family is fun.

I made my first-ever completely solo turkey, which was beyond awesome. We brined it, which essentially means we soaked it in a bucket of salt water overnight. Holy crap. It took two hours to cook, and we didn't have to baste it once, and when I carved that sucker, it nearly exploded with juiciness. So freaking easy. I will never cook a turkey a different way again. Here. Do it. I swear it will convert you. You don't actually need any of the herbs, spices, or aromatics on that list if you don't want them. They're a matter of preference, though I do recommend using the vegetable stock and the sugar in the brine. And when you brine the turkey, there's enough salt in that water that you don't have to be concerned about bacteria in the food. I've talked to people who've brined their turkey for up to three days, though doing it even for a couple of hours makes a definite difference. It doesn't come out super-salty at all; just perfectly juicy and seasoned with every bite.

I think Dad'll come back to visit just for the shopping. He's a huge bargain hound (the thrill of the hunt!), and we nearly had to drag him from the stock surplus store we have here because every time he turned a corner, he said he kept finding more things that he suddenly found he needed desperately. :D I admit, it was pretty tempting. I bought a full-length cashmere/wool blend coat there for $20 (Albert Nipon, holy cow! Probably why it was so cheap; do they do anything besides perfume these days?). Almost got a leather duster for $30, but the wool coat was too perfect a fit to pass up.

Anyway, done babbling. How about some art? )
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A bunch of randomly amusing stuff today, since I was in a bad mood yesterday and am recovering by lifting my spirits this morning/afternoon.

When I check job postings in my area, sometimes an ad will request a "dietary aide." They're asking for a nutrition expert, of course, but every time I read it, the first thing I think of is an ad for a volunteer pot roast.

Colbert Report funny: Absinthetinence. You like tongue twisters? Then watch the master at work.

Co-worker S likes to tell stories about her crazy mother. Last night, they got into an argument on the phone over buying a crib for S's baby girl for the grandparents' house. S pointed out that the baby barely uses a crib as it is, they already have a portable baby-sleeper, Mom has awful taste in safe baby devices, and it would overall be a waste of around $800.
"This isn't about you or the baby!" retorted S's mom. "I just feel like I need a crib around the place!"
"But...why?" asked S, completely perplexed.
"Other babies might need to use it."
"WHAT other babies? Nobody else in our family has a baby!"
"If I have one, they might come."

If you don't know who Chet Baker was, he was a kickass jazz trumpet player in the 50s to 70s who had (like seemingly all jazz musicians) trouble with drugs, and eventually died by falling out a window. Presumably while high.

Dad is bombarding me with Chet Baker jokes.
The night Chet Baker went even more horribly wrong than usual
Here's Chet Baker at a very young age, cracking up under the strain of standing next to Charlie Parker. You can tell it won't be long.
Another time, he went absolutely apeshit with crayons.

Ganked from everyone's favorite [ profile] dgg:
A personality quiz )
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This weekend, it being Father's Day and all, I went up to visit my dad for a grand day of fishing. It was quite the adventure!

First we had to actually get to the river, which was easier said than done, let me tell you. We hiked about a mile each way along the railroad tracks, looking for a way over the bank, but everything was either pitched too steep to climb down, or else clogged by brush and scrap. Finally, we followed a powerline cut that led us true, except that we had to wade through a whole flood plain's worth of grass as tall as I am. Kept an eye out for copperheads, but generally snakes aren't a problem if they can tell you're coming. It's not like we were hard to miss.

Anyway, we got down to the river where a creek empties out into it, hopping along the rocks, slogged through the water, fished with was wonderful, actually. I don't get to tromp through the wood and stuff enough anymore. I've missed it deeply. We saw herons and a family of ducks, and our one chance to catch any respectable fish was thwarted by some guys charging through in a power boat. But the point was not so much to catch anything as it was to have fun and get familiar with the area again.

So, I'm fishing with a lure, which I don't usually do (I prefer live bait). This thing's an orange critter with about ten thousand hooks on it, so I spend more time unraveling the damn thing than I do casting. It gets caught on everything--the line, rocks, river weed, itself. After untangling it yet again, I flick back to cast...and it gets caught on the pole, sproings off and stabs a hook straight through my ear. Right about halfway up, just where the cartiledge begins.

May I say, ow.

Actually, I've had my ears pierced, and this was a very similar sensation. Except that the hook had a barb on it, which turned the whole scenario suddenly more complicated. After pondering it briefly, Dad cut the spine off with his wire cutters (which, OW) and then I pulled the damn thing out. After that, I just sat and sulked/enjoyed the sunshine for a while.

Eventually, Dad decided he'd like to hike up along the creek and see if there was any better fishing to be done. I get stuck in sucking mud (after which I warned him that if he led me into sucking mud again, I would create a scene--this is humor), and then nearly fall in where the stream bank rose and turned into mud. This is a good thing. If you fish or enjoy generally wandering across the landscape, then you know that it would've been a letdown to come back without being covered in mud to the hips.

We had a crisis when we hit the railroad bridge, though. Dad wanted to follow the bank up beyond it, except there wasn't really way way to get past the bridge, what with the way it'd been laid. But we'd sort of backed ourselves into a corner by clambering over the rocks to get there. Turning back was a risky proposition. I ended up having to ninja/mountain goat my way around and over the bridge to find a way back up to the railroad tracks. It all felt very daring and death-defying, though if it'd been anyone else, the risk of pitching oneself off would've been minimal. As it was, I had to help Dad haul himself up (he's not as spry as I am) and then, rather than climb up the dangerous gravel bank with the 20-foot precipice at the bottom or clamber over a series of fallen branches like a circus acrobat, it turned out that the side of the concrete abutment had been conveniently built like a little staircase that we could trot up and over easy as you please.

So we hiked the mile or so back to Dad's house, triumphant, fishless, and covered in mud, and I've scheduled a tetanus shot for this afternoon because, um, I haven't had one since I went off to college. I am, shockingly, allergy-free after parading around in more weeds and grass than I can shake a stick at.

Dad emailed my sister when we got back, telling her only that I "got a fishhook in the ear and he had to cut it out." It would primer for the story, he said. I knew she'd freak out. And indeed, when I got home, she was spastic with thoughts of my gruesomely maimed ear. When I waved it off, she decided I meant that Dad had been making it all up (he occasionally does things like that), so I had to show her the puncture wound and explain that, no, I really had got a fishhook in the ear but it wasn't the crisis she'd been envisioning.

Once it heals up, I am tempted to mark the site of my Wound of Honor(TM) with an earring (done by a legitimate piercing shop, not a, uh, fishhook). Or possibly it'll scar in nifty fashion and I can point it out to future generations with dire warnings about fishing lures. Seriously, though, probably not. You can barely even see the wound from the front.

So, danger, blood, and feats of derring-do. All told, the best weekend I've had in ages. I feel like I had a whole week off! Hopefully we can do it again next month.
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Was a great weekend!

I spent Saturday with my dad, who I think I might've mentioned finally realized that he lives right by the river. A river with fish in it.

Guess who likes to fish? We do! We do!

I'm very excited. This might seem strange, to be excited about something that is, frankly, frequently so boring, but the thing is that fishing is how I've traditionally spent quality time with the men in my life. I fished with Grandpa all the time, I fish with friends. I haven't fished with Dad since I was about knee-high to a grasshopper (some might say I still am; to such individuals, I say "Nyah!"). So to me, this is significant.

Also, Dad is a spectacular cook, and the Susquehanna's got some damn good eating-fish. I will clean and cook what I kill, and it shall be tasty!

I already have one, but he got me another pole--lovely thing, open reel, nice and flexible, just the right size for me. He helped me restring my current rod, which definitely needed it. He taught me how to use a lathe, since he has one in his basement. Dad's a shop fanatic; love to tinker, especially when it comes to making things multipurpose. And then we hung out and jawed about computer software. Speaking of which, I have a couple of recommendations for you lot:

PDF xChange--the first downloadable on the page--is a PDF viewer a la Adobe Reader. What it is, however, is smaller and far more polite than Adobe. Remove that bloated, invasive monstrosity from your hard drive and use this instead. It's something like 7 MB, and delightfully fast. Reminiscent of Acrobat Reader back in the old days.

Cheetah is a bit of disc-burning sweetness. If you're familiar with Nero Burning Rom, it works a great deal like that--except that Cheetah is about 7 MB, doesn't get in its own way when burning, and costs $75 less.

On Sunday, I got to see my best friend, her mom, and her little boy. He's a sweet little baby. I like children, but I sometimes find them intimidating. What if I drop them? What if I upset them? What if they barf on me? Jonathan, however, takes much of the work out of it. Here, Friends, have a picture. )

In the last few days, I've also gotten several pictures done. I laid off the art for a couple of months, there. I suppose I needed to recharge or something, because I didn't feel like drawing anything. But now, aside from the kung-fu Eshu, which I exhibited in a previous post, we've got:

Sonya Berzin, Shadow Lord -- first time I've ever drawn a werewolf all wolfed-out. I'm pretty happy with it for a first try, but it doesn't seem very ferocious.

Sonya, sort of colored -- I envisioned her as a glaring-eyed, black-furred monster. That bit was easy, but then I had to do *something* with her human form because it looked pretty stupid just sitting there as lineart with the rest of the picture all dark and brooding. I got lazy, sue me. :) But I do like how the spirit-bird came out.

Dr. Ambrose Quintrell, Son of Eather -- I wanted to draw this guy because about half the time he looks like a dapper, well-mannered professor, and the other half he's a wild-eyed loon dressed like Indiana Jones if he'd been to visit the Matrix recently. I don't feel I gave him enough weird gear. Perhaps next time...

Doc the Warforged -- And that which I am, perhaps, most proud of: my first art commission! Just recently, I've begun feeling confident enough to start taking a couple of offers. I don't know Eberron, but I'm told Warforged are a sort of sentient golem. The pictures I've seen of them don't look much like this, but the commissioner wanted a fresh, uninfluenced take. I suppose that taken objectively, he's not all that impressive (he will be getting some color later on), but I'm getting paid for it!

Speaking of which: Glacialis, I have not forgotten. I've been working on designs and poses!
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Yesterday, my sister and I discovered the Ninja Equation: the power of ninja is inversely proportional to the number present. We figured out that this is because any given "flock" of ninja only have so many dice bonuses to go around. The fewer ninja there are, effectively the more bonuses they achieve to all rolls.

The same may well hold true for Pirates, and possibly Zombies.

After getting hit by something like a foot of snow a few days ago, it's now warm enough to go without a jacket (I nearly typed "without a shirt," but sorry, guys, no dice). This morning, I walked past crocus and snowdrops poking their pointy little heads out of the earth, which means it's time that I renovate my LJ layout for a more Springy feel. In pursuit of this, I have a question, which demands a poll.

If I can figure out how to do a poll.

That'll be later, I guess.

Anyway, before I go, have any of you seen...this? Those who hate Pirates need not click.
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I've mentioned my dad on here before: how he periodically teaches himself entire careers, how he's the weirdest guy I've ever known, and all that. But he's also the kind of guy who thinks of and writes things like this. It's all true, by the way. That little boy he's talking about is himself.

Fifty years ago here. we had eccentrics that we called hermits. None were religious, except perhaps for a tacit and inherent pantheism; the term had lost all mystical conno. They just lived in isolation and crude conditions. They got downtown once a month to cash Relief checks, so they could score a couple jugs of table wine and some beans.

Danny Benjamin lived in a refrigerator on the hill above Camptown. He supported himself by welfare payments, seasonal farm work, and vigorous hunting in or out of season. Scofflaw hunting and fishing behavior was held morally blameless in people of his class. They needed the meat. Nobody bugged him about it, although a fish warden might have felt compelled to react had he flaunted a big string of walleyes on the street or otherwise got smart. But he didn't, and they didn't.

The refrigerator was an abandoned meat truck body, which he got from the slaughterhouse for the taking away. He asked my father for help in getting it to his spot. He probably had permission to put it on an unprepossessing site in the woods. Some farm equipment proved adapatable; the task was done as I watched in withering envy. Nobody ever badgered Danny to clean up his room or himself; he had never spent more than a few hours in a school; he wore the same comforting thing for months in a row and went fishing every minute. It was a life God would covet. His refrigerator truck proved dead easy to heat, as he had predicted. He later said that on many winter days, the body heat of the dogs was enough. Hermits had dogs the way you or I might have lice.

Our hermits all talked funny, a thing which may have contributed some amount to their becoming hermits in the first place. I was too little to note it, but once when he was working for my father, he ate two entire pies to top off the huge noonday dinner. Some spectacularly hearty eaters at the table were awed. When asked if he would like another, he replied with his customary lack of grace: "Naw, Roofie. If t'were pumpin,' I'd have another. Ain't never liked apple pie too good." My mother's name was Ruth, and he was especially fond of her. She could convince him of things others could not. The pie story was told often for decades, and in moments of high jocularity, pumpkin pies were called "pumpin' " from that point on.

I suppose such a "hermit" would have welcomed a respectful visit. He would have had many a remarkable story to tell and lots of knowledge about how to get meat free. A godsend pipeline of experience for a "modern" kid to tap. But by my day, youths would never have considered approaching one of them. We may have been afraid of them, or too bewildered by such a thing to react sanely. To some extent, I suppose we were respecting what we thought was their privacy. But life must have become increasingly and intolerably awful as they approached death in their refrigerators and came to be shunned by up-to-date folk. We never even thought of the matter. They had gone socially invisible and lost human-status almost entirely. And shame on us.
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Today, I am back at work. The week and a half-long break was splendid. I didn't do much, but really, who cares? Christmas rocked. We all ended up cooking Christmas dinner together, and cooking together is fun. The Christmas haul wasn't all that great, but it included some things I needed and, more importantly, lots of baking equipment for my sister (I count that as a present to me, partly because I use it, but mostly because she does).

I almost got the best present, which would've been my brother coming down to visit his family, but they ended up putting that off. They'll be down in February. Yee! Nephew-sign!

We spent the day after Christmas with my dad. It's funny how the little things seem to pop out at you, isn't it? I helped him out with a couple of problems he's been having on a musical piece he's composing. Now, I love Dad, but he's hard to socialize with. Tends to keep his distance because he's not good at interacting with people. So being able to spend time with him at one of his favorite hobbies means a lot to me...especially because I think it means a great deal to him, too. I've always suspected that he's constantly afraid he's secretly boring us and that we're just humoring him.
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They can't find anything wrong with my car. You'd expect this to be good news, except that it means there's something wrong with my car and no one knows what, which means it might well do whatever-it-is again...possibly on, say, a long trip home for Christmas. Blarg.

I forgot to submit my time card last week, and didn't notice till last night, which means I'm missing a pay period. I'll be January. *sigh* My own stupid fault. It's all right, this is why we have savings accounts. But it's annoying, and stupid, and I have embarrassed myself in front of the entire Human Resources department. Not my benchmark week.

Well, well. Not all is despair and bleakness. Office party yesterday; it was great fun and the pizza was top-notch. Also, I have an honest-to-god idea for a story. A novel! It's got a plot and everything! (Plots are my weak point, I've found.) I've learned not to promise such things, but if I can get it together enough to produce coherent samples, I could share some with you lovely folks. It wouldn't be a bad idea to get feedback on it anyway, just in case it starts shaping up to be embarrassingly cliched. They do have a way of sneaking up on you unnoticed, do cliches, and having extra eyes to spot them is no bad thing.

In the meantime, for those of you who enjoy such things, I'm putting together another gaming blog, for my sister's Iron Kingdoms game. Shhhh, it's a secret. I'll share the link when there's more to look at than a background. Iron Kingdoms is an amazing setting (it's d20, but one of those customized d20 games where it's been jiggered to fit specifically with the needs of the--extremely coherent, atmospheric, and balanced--setting), and my sister is a thoroughly spectacular GM. I hope great and probably overweening things for this blog, involving edgy piratical writing styles you should probably hope I don't get around to trying. Sometimes, fading attention spans are a good thing.

The Star Wars gaming blog, again for those of you who enjoy such things, is now prominently displayed in my Links list. *points upward* ( It's up-to-date. I caught up on a couple of entries I'd fallen behind on, and the new sessions are posted.

My Twerp* has a revolting flu that deserves to be kicked in the face like a space-hobo, from which my other roommates are only now on the mend. Poor things, all of 'em. Not a one of them has a lick of sense when it comes to taking a day off work, but I love the poor sods nonetheless. Foolish creatures that they are.

* That's my sister, remember?
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Man, this is not fair. So much crud and sorrow in the lives of all my friends. My heart goes out to all of you, along with whatever strength and comfort I can telepathically send your way.

The news from my own little world:
I missed Supernatural this week. I like the show, but I'm not as bent out of shape about missing it as I am about the general apparent incompetence of CW, or whatever relays in our area are responsible for handling it. It simply remained completely blank for the entire hour. CW has had more problems with airtime than every other network I get combined. And of course, in that cosmically ironic way things have, it always happens when my show it on. One of the three I bother turning the TV on for these days. *kicks the CW*

Speaking of kicking...ow. I busted my knee up somewhat impressively.

Actually, funny story: This began a few years ago. One day, I was doing your average everyday leg stretches when something in my knee gave a gentle pop. Naturally I was concerned, but though I kept an eye on it, it didn't do anything until about three days later, when I was walking along and all hell broke loose in my joint. Locking, popping, sudden stabs of pain. Without recourse to a doctor at the time (no insurance), I was left to put a brace on it and avoid walking too much. It took over two months to heal, and it's never been quite the same since. Not problematic, just...a little weaker, maybe. I can feel that something's different.

So, a few days ago, I found out what this was about. Apparently, I had torn cartilege in my knee. I learned this because it gave out on me again as I was trotting down the hill to the mechanic's on Monday morning. My foot came down and BAM! my right knee screamed at me with that special "Don't DO that or you're going to break me!" yowl that body parts reserve for imminent catastrophe. This time, I have health insurance, so instead of waiting around like a chode till I'd wrecked it completely again, I went to the doctor at the first opportunity. X-Rays were taken, though I don't have the verdict on those yet, and I have a therapy session scheduled for Wednesday. So long as I don't mess it up more, it seems unlikely--to me, whose opinion isn't exactly professional--that I'll need something as drastic as surgery. It healed by itself the first time (mostly) and this time I've been cautious. It doesn't hurt or lock or anything unless I'm careless, and the doctor seems to think that the lack of swelling or pain is a good sign.

Till my therapy session, though, I have to care for myself. The knee is still reasonably functional, so long as I avoid certain movements--which, trust me, I'm doing. I am thinking of getting a cane. I gave a brace a try briefly, but that only seemed to make my tendons grumpy. This is exactly the sort of thing a cane would probably help out with...and really, how cool is that? Having an excuse to use an actual cane is a rare thing in this day and age. I'd get a lot of funny looks, naturally, but then I do anyway, and it'd give me a reason to dress up snazzily. Because let's face it, you can't use a cane with any dignity unless you look at least reasonably sharp.


Jun. 25th, 2006 03:44 pm
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Grandpa died last night. The service is Tuesday. Grandma is holding up well. We all are, really. Everything is very normal, in fact, though the world seems like a slightly different place without him. It's funny how that works.

The weirdest part is how...natural it feels. Grandpa lived the kind of life that I think we all know we should live, but so few of us ever do. So this...this is more closure than loss. It's gentle, kind of graceful, with that bittersweet feeling that comes with all the big changes in life. That's not to say that I'm not crying as I write this, of course. We'll all miss him terribly, but it's okay.

And to think I'm off to Origins on Thursday. This'll be a hell of a rollercoaster week. I'm determined to enjoy myself. I know he'd be disappointed if I didn't.

I just wish you all could've known him. I wish my journalist friend and I could've written that book of interviews with him that we always wanted to do. I never got to tell him he was my hero. I hope he knew. Maybe he can hear me now.


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