Month: July 2007

Ups and Downs

UP: The interview went well.

DOWN: No new jobs worth applying for.

UP: A library in Louisiana is checking to see if they can fly me down there for one or more library workshops.

DOWN: More book woes.

UP: Made four quarts of beautiful yogurt for roughly 1/3 the cost of buying it. Will freeze three and eat one.

DOWN: Ate and drank way too many empty calories today.

UP: Finished a pinup for a friend.

DOWN: Had to wrangle with both the Insurance company and the Unemployment office this morning.

UP: Survived both wranglings unscathed.

Yeah.

Renfairin’

Tomorrow we’re off to the Silverleaf Renaissance Faire, which is a really great fest, and my favorite outside of Bristol Faire in Kenosha/Racine. I ran out to the thrift store last night and got a bunch of fun little accoutrements for my outfit: leather belt, wooden cup, paper fan, and a new basket which I’ve already packed with Sarkozy bread and cheese and apples for our lunch. Overnight, my amazing neighbor Katya whipped me up a magnificent long blue skirt out of scrap fabric, and she and her husband Stephen are going to be joining us in full pirate regalia. Tish and Thew are also coming out, and it promises to be a whole lot of fun. I’m looking forward to getting another year’s worth of incense from my favorite incense-seller, and seeing the Raptor show, Ric Rock (a street performer who’s actually good) and the amazing Bellydance troupe again — maybe this time we’ll get to see them do live fire…

Yes, renfaires are hokey. They’re goofy and silly and we all look like dopes when we go. But dang, they’re fun, especially when the performers are really good, and you don’t have to wait in line for food because you were smart enough to bring your own, there’s no advertising (no commercial food or drink of any kind, for that matter: no Pepsi or Budweiser, only homebrew rootbeer and mead!) and you have a pack of good friends around you — friends who aren’t embarrassed to get into the spirit of things. Plus, this weekend’s the big jousting tourney, which should be a great chance to photograph.

Yay, Fest!

Running Update

This morning, rather than just walking, we went down to the WMU track to do some laps. Each lap was 800 yards, so four laps make a mile. I alternated running and walking laps, for a total of four running and seven walking. Then we did stretching and situps. I was not nearly as winded as I expected. I think I’ll repeat this pattern and then try running two laps to each one I walk.

It was nice to have an actual benchmark for how far I could run without dying. Now if I could just lay the hell off the cookies, I’d be a lot better off.

Also, I have my first actually promising interview on Monday. Wish me luck.

M$ Office

Does anybody have a used copy of Microsoft Office they’d be willing to sell me? I have recently acquired a Dell Lattitude D500* for use in library presentations, and the occasional writing trip to the coffeehouse. It’s running Win XP Pro.

Thanks in advance…

*Yes, this is still a devoted Mac household. This was an acquisition, not a purchase. Plus, it’s way more likely to work with the LCD projectors we encounter in libraries.

Crafty.

So other than wrestling the basement into submission, I have also been doing some crafty stuff. Most of it has been darning socks and hemming jeans and the like, but I’ve also had a chance to do some neat, fun things, like this watch jewelry:



I got the parts from craft stores, ebay, and a collection that Tish sold me. Thanks, Tish! I’ve got your box of parts ready to come home. I didn’t wind up using as much as I thought I would; there’s plenty left over for future crafts.

Oh, and also:

God help me, I’ve bought running shoes. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sustain interest, but I’m going to give it a college try. There’s a local Beginner’s 5K sponsored through the awesome store where I bought these, and if I’m still unemployed, I think I’m going to give it a shot. If nothing else, now I have a good pair of workout shoes and a new jogging bra. Best of all, everything I bought was made in the USA, and supports a great family-owned business. Woo!

Sporadic

Sorry for the quite sporadic posts of late; our internets have been down since Saturday, and I’ve been spending the majority of my time painting the basement. What a massive pain in the butt that job’s turned out to be. Based on our hands-on findings after painting 13 rooms of our house, I budgeted about four full days for this project, including moving all the stuff away from the walls, and back again. It’s turned into about twice that many — and twice as much paint as I’d hoped, too. I’m up to ten gallons of Drylok, and God help me, I don’t think that’s going to be enough. I’ll be really glad when it’s all over.

The good news is that once it’s done I’ll be able to move a bunch of crap out of our vestibule and out of plain sight, and we’ll also (hopefully) be rid of our Oubliette. Okay, okay, it’s an old coal bin, but I swear to you, when we were being shown the house, our real estate agent actually referred to it as the place where “It puts the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” (If you’re wondering, that was also the precise moment we knew we’d picked the right real estate agent.) So, with that gone and the cinderblock hauled away, we’ll have an additional ten feet of wall space. If we need to dispose of any bodies, we’ll have to use one of the two cisterns out back. I suspect that method will smell much better, besides… nothing’s worse than tipping your murderous hand to the neighbors thanks to a foul odor.

Other updates: Still looking for work. Still doing lots of catching up. Not much else to report.

Weird dream.

I had the weirdest, scariest dream I’ve ever had last night — made even weirder by the fact that it couldn’t have lasted longer than 30 seconds. I had just woken from another bad dream, went to the bathroom, lay down again, and rolled immediately down into unconsciousness again. Against a dark grey field (sky?) I heard a deep, booming authoritarian voice say “This is the Armed Forces Military Control Network.” A long grey object — which was either my hand tuning a radio by twirling a long aerial or the long barrel of a gun, I can’t be sure — rotated from an off-camera fulcrum, like a cannon training on a distant target.

Then I heard the Loudest Sound I’ve Ever Heard. In the dream, it was an absolutely deafening version of the “Civilian Defense” alert signal, only a hundred thousand times louder. I assumed, from inside the dream, that I was hearing (Through the radio? Tuned in by mistake?) either a military broadcast signal used to send messages to warplanes or submarines or missiles or something, or some sort of horrendous DARPA mind control system.

The dream-sound was so loud, and so visceral, that I struggled awake with all my muscles tensed and knotted. I had heard it as plainly as though someone set off an airhorn right next to my ear. When I awoke and found Paul sleeping peacefully next to me, I could hardly believe it — I thought for sure he must have heard it, or that I should have cried out or kicked or something as I awoke. No, instead I pulled out of the dream with that horrible sluggishness that falls on dreamers right before the monsters get ‘em. I finally had to force myself into consciousness with will, listening to Paul breathe and forcing myself to do the same, and then refused to allow myself into a deep sleep for the rest of the night, too afraid I’d hear that noise again.

Brrr.

I’ve never had a dream that involved sound to such an extent, and I’ve only had such a physically involved dream once or twice before. Creeeeepy. And honestly, given some of the weird-ass shit that DARPA’s been up to lately, it’s not horrendously far-fetched for dream-material.

Links Galore!

First off, I got way busy, and slacked off in letting people know about the last few Comics Are Open Source columns — so here’s links to all of them:

Second, at the 2007 ALA Annual Conference, I was interviewed by Joseph Wink for a YALSA Podcast, along with YA author Sara Ryan, and a librarian from Georgia, Brijin Boddy. Talk about good company!

Third, before I forget, here’s a link to this really fun Canadian short film I kept telling JimO about, Pretty Big Dig.

And fourth, you really really need to listen to this interview with Brad Bird and Patton Oswalt as they talk about Ratatouille. They’re both such a pair of super-nerds, and listening to them nerd out all over one another is like listening to Paul’s and my dinner conversation. Oh, speaking of which, Ratatouille is a really incredibly awesome movie. You should all go see it right now.

Back again!

I’ve been out of town since last Friday night, taking care of a bunch of different things on the other side of the state. First off was Jim and Kat’s annual porch party, which was a huge amount of fun. Then I went back to my mom’s house for several days of indentured servitude, including cleaning her basement and garage, and taking two big loads of recycling to their various stations. I warned her that she’s used up all her vouchers till her birthday in October.

On Monday, JimO and I also went out to Highland Township for a library talk. We had such a great time — the attendees got really involved and kept Jim and I on our toes, even pointing out a bunch of information on my Egyptian Book of the Dead that I didn’t know! I feel so lucky to have such great audiences. I only hope they had as much fun as we did.

Then it was home, late, and an immediate crash into sleep. Back now, and finally attending to a million little things. Y’know, like blogging.

Ride ‘em Cowboyhouse. . .

I’ve been feeling vaguely unsettled the last few days. . . I haven’t felt this far off my pins since right before I got married. I think that all the changes in my life are finally starting to sink in. In just a few weeks, I’ve lost most of the direction in my life: my job and my book both finished at the exact same time. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a ton of work to do — mostly leftover stuff that got shoved aside during the mad race for ALA — but it’s all little tasks, and none of them really belonging to a larger structure. I’m having to make lists in order to keep myself busy.

In the cracks between things, the self-doubt’s really starting to creep in. I think it’s kind of like having my mental immune system compromised; when I don’t keep busy enough, I start to be able to hear the piping little failure-voices at the edges of my consciousness. It also doesn’t help that I’ve dropped a couple balls recently (not going to talk about them here, but if you want to know, drop me an email or a phone call) and it’s left me a bit shakey on trusting my ability to keep on top of things.

I know the way out of this is to get prepared and re-lay the organizational structure that got trashed during the last six months, but even as I do so, I see all the places where I only kept things together by spit and baling wire. So, lots of notations in MS Entourage. Lots of lists. Lots of notes.

And also — If you’re reading this, and I’ve said I’d do something for or with you in the last four to six months, and I haven’t come through yet, or haven’t responded, please do ping me now and remind me to get back to it. Pretty much everything non-essential got buried under mounds of ALA-centric tasks, and I’m only now starting to get caught up. I’ll do my best to get to you as soon as I can. And also, if you can spare any think-positive or re-organizational tips, or even just some good vibes, send ‘em this way. That’d be really super awesome, and much appreciated.

Windfall

So when we got back from ALA, there were two envelopes addressed to me, each announcing that the government owed me money, and that these two companies could get it for me. Of course, both of them set off my “scammer alarm”, and I almost threw them out.

Just out of curiosity, I opened both and compared the dollar amount. Oddly, both reported the same exact figure. I did a little Googling for government refund databases, and after a few tries, I found my name on one of them — next to the exact same dollar amount in the two envelopes! I called the number on the site, and I’ll be darned if it wasn’t legit. Turns out I’m owed money on the FHA loan I took out when I first purchased this house. They’d been sending refund applications to my old Ann Arbor address for the last two years, so I never knew. Now they’re sending another application to this address, and all I have to do is sign my name, get it notarized, return it, and the government will send me a check. It’s enough money to keep me afloat for an entire month if I don’t find work.

Let’s hear it for minor miracles. Woo!

Productive!

Today was a gorgeous stunner of a summer day: 75F, no humidity and clear blue skies. This morning I was back from the farmer’s market by 10am, loaded down with a huge haul of tart cherries, blueberries and gooseberries. Paul helped me pit four quarts of cherries, and then I froze blueberries and cherries, made cherry jam, cherry juice, dried cherries and gooseberry jam.

The day was spent relaxing and puttering, walking Zoë with Becky Cooper and Paul, and just letting off some steam. I need about another week of this.

This evening I drove out with Zoë to my in-laws’ farm to do weeding in my garden, and she romped and played while I pulled up humongous purslanes and ragweeds. I separated the purslanes and gave them to Nora, who was glad to have them. Weeding done, Zoë and I lay on our backs and watched the stars appear and the sun set, and a million jillion fireflies flash and dance. A huge orange punkin of a full moon rose as we drove home.

After we got home and gave Nora her weeds, I came in and made a nice batch of onion-garlic-sauerkraut. In three to four weeks, it’ll be ready, just in time to can it up to make room for the fall harvest of cabbage.

And now it’s very late and I’m going to bed.

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