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Just a PSA for anyone who knew velvetwhip over on LJ -- her mother passed away quite suddenly, and she has a Gofundme page up to help with funeral costs. Gabrielle is one of the nicest and most supportive people I've ever known in Buffy fandom, and I know all too well what she's going through. If you can afford to contribute anything, it would be an enormous help.

More information here:


Gofundme here:


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Got about four hours of sleep last night, as we very stupidly stayed up late after getting back from our local RPG group. (I think we were mad with power because they've decided to switch to meeting on Fridays instead of Thursdays.) We went to bed at midnight, I lay there staring at the ceiling until one, and then I woke on the stroke of five and lay there staring at the ceiling again until the concrete guys rang the doorbell at five-thirty.

So I'm exhausted, but now we have a glorious DRIVEWAY! True, we were advised not to actually drive on it for a week, until the concrete cures completely, but in theory, DRIVEWAY! Also a slab in the back yard to put the shed on, so it doesn't have to be right next to the back door. The only downside is that I had to move absolutely everything out of all the sheds to move them out of the way while the concrete guys did their thing, and I can't put them into their new and vastly superior configuration until next weekend (this slab, being much smaller, may cure faster, but I won't have an afternoon off to move everything back until next weekend anyway). So all our stuff is heaped up by the side of the house, being a huge mess for the next week. In the larger scheme of things, that we have no rain forecast for the foreseeable future is a bad thing, but for my personal selfish purposes, it's excellent.

In less glorious news, a few weeks ago, my desktop computer began giving me ominous warnings about the immanent dissolution of the hard drive. I was hoping I could nurse it along until June, but last week it started throwing up unmountable boot volume errors and has been more or less a brick ever since. I managed to revive it briefly by resetting it, but that didn't last long. Sigh. Since the laptop is still fine, I can hold off replacing it until June anyway; it's just inconvenient. I made sure everything was backed up the moment I got the first error, so the only important thing I'm missing is some of my old email archives, as I inadvertently backed up the wrong directory for those... and my accounting spreadsheet for Mom's estate. Which I DID back up, but for some reason, it didn't sync correctly, and the copy I have is from some time in February. Argh. Hopefully once I get a new desktop, I can plug the old drive in as a secondary and retrieve them.

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This weekend just zipped by. We spent a lot of it cleaning out closets -- a necessity, as we had reached Maximum Closetage, and something had to go. With much weeping and gnashing of teeth, we got rid of such items as all the round tablecloths that don't fit our rectangular table, and the huge stack of vinyl records we've picked up over the last twenty years and have never actually listened to. There are still a couple of closets to go, but one can only dispose of so many treasured keepsakes at one time.

We took Bo out to Piestewa Park this morning, and while we didn't quite wear him out, he was happy enough to lie down and pant for awhile when we got home.

I made good progress modifying the leather coat, too -- Friday I got an email from Tandy Leather about a super cheap sale they were having on a random assortment of garment-weight leather seconds (hides with minor flaws), so I drove over to see if they had any left. There were only three left, but one of them was a damned near perfect match for the coat. So I got it, and made the placket and the new pockets, and managed to get most of the other alterations done as well. I still need to do the buttonholes on the pocket flaps, make a belt, and sew on the buttons in their new locations. (Sewing buttons onto leather, yay.) But it looks really, really good, so long as no one inspects the buttonholes too closely. My buttonholes suck, but luckily they are mostly hidden behind the buttons. Plus at Goodwill I found the absolute perfect shirt and leather vest to go with it. I already have the boots and the hat, so all I need now is a better pair of pants than the ones I've got. Pants are hard, as the ones that fit me rarely look remotely period. But overall, I'm well on the way to having yet another costume that's far too hot to wear!

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Birthday blues

Today is my birthday. I've been struggling to feel festive, and not really making it. I'm not mired in the depths of depression or anything, just... not really in a party-party-party mood. My wonderful wife brought me flowers and a small cake, and we might go out to dinner, and that's about all I feel like doing.

Easter was never a big holiday for us since we're not religious and we don't have any small children around to hide eggs for. We usually just had Mom over for dinner, and that was it. Now, of course, there's not even that. Which made me think gloomily about the fact that I don't have any local family to have over for holidays ever again – there's Kathy's half-brother's family, of course, but that's not the same.

I like holidays, is the thing – I enjoy decorating and making special meals. But without someone to make the special fuss for, it seems a little more pointless. I don't want to feel like that, and perhaps six months from now, I won't. I don't know. As I said, it's not as if I'm mired in depression all the time. It's just that whenever it occurs to me that oh, yeah, Mom is dead, it bums me out. When I catch myself getting into one of those "If only I'd..." patterns of thought, I forcibly redirect myself; I try not to wallow. I tell myself that it's normal to have regrets, but obsessing over might have beens is both pointless and unhealthy. But it still happens. I feel as if I'm simultaneously caring too much and not enough, and it's weird.


In slightly less depressing news, I'm working on a better coat for steampunk costume #2. I have a brown leather coat I got from a friend who was clearing out their closet. In many ways it's superior to the coat I'm replacing – it matches the rest of the costume much better color-wise, it's leather, it's got full length sleeves, and it looks awesome with my airship hat. It's got some issues: no real pockets, only those fake flaps; the sleeves are way too long for me (with non-functional, decorative versions of those straps that are supposed to hold up rolled-back cuffs); and the closures are just hook and eye things, as all the buttons are decorative rather than functional. So I'm going to see if I can find some scrap leather at SAS which more or less match it. If I can, I'll make real pockets, take the decorative straps off the sleeves and make the too-long part into real cuffs that button back, make the straps into epaulets, and make either frogs or a placket (depending upon how much matching leather I can find) to close it more securely.

Also, we will have a real driveway on the east side of the house soon-ish, I hope. Our next door neighbor put us in contact with the guy who did their driveway, and he came out over the weekend to give me an estimate. Hopefully we can get it scheduled and done by the end of the month.

Also I finished the second scene in the next chapter of POM. The ending of the scene is a bit weak, but that's what revisions are for.

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Battle of the Park Part II

Well! The Parks and Recreation Board voted on the organic farm project last night. There were probably around two hundred people there, far more than the meeting room was designed to accommodate. I think the Board members were a tad stunned at the brouhaha; I got the impression that normally, they might get half a dozen onlookers fro the general public at best. There were fifty requests to speak, about forty of which actually got to the microphone (the meeting ran so long a lot of people had to leave early.) Of those, only half a dozen or so were against. Judging by the amount of applause each speaker got, there weren't more than a dozen people there against it, ad the people who were for it were an extremely various lot – local parents, disc golf players who were excited at the prospect of moving and redesigning the course, soccer dads who looked forward to having someplace to take the kids after a game, teachers from local schools, members of the Phoenix culinary scene. People of every possible description.

After the presentation by the Parks and Recreation Department staff, and all the speakers, and some debate and questions by the Board, the motion passed 4-1. The one against was the chairwoman of the Board, who brought up a number of issues with the process of submitting proposals which bothered her. The other four board members kind of looked at her, and responded, essentially, "These may well be valid points, but the time to bring them up was two years ago when we laid down the conditions for the proposal. It's neither practical nor fair to retroactively add new conditions now." The little group of opposition people stormed off in a huff after the vote, and immediately went home and started posting on the neighborhood website that they were going to find a lawyer who was willing to work pro bono and sue the city to stop the project.

Walking Bo in the park today, I saw that someone had very maturely defaced the sign about the project with "LIARS!" and assorted other pleasantries in red marker. I'm betting it was the woman leading the charge against the project, because the stuff on the sign was word for word the same things she was posting on the website. If she weren't so darned annoying, I'd feel sorry for her; she's completely obsessed. There are things I think are worth committing my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor to, but preventing a popular organic farming project in a local park is not one of them.

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Thwarted, sort of

I've been having really weird, complicated dreams lately. They fade quickly after I wake up, but it's disconcerting.

Still twiddling my thumbs waiting for Mom's non-existent creditors to make any claims against her estate that there may be. The only thing I've gotten since January is a bill for three dollars, because I accidentally wrote the wrong amount on one of the checks I wrote out the week after Mom died. The last day of the waiting period is May 31, so I'm hoping we can wrap this whole probate thing up ASAP after that.

Back when I realized that we would be inheriting some money from Mom, I made a list of Serious Home Repair Projects that we could use it for. One of them, and the most expensive, was to enclose the back porch and make a storeroom of it. Sadly, that idea has been scuppered, as we've discovered that due to the weird way our house is placed on our lot, the house runs too close to the property line offset on that corner to extend it any. While I'm disappointed, that means we can use the money for several smaller projects instead -- replace the crappy old chain link fence around the back yard with a block wall, lay a real driveway where Kathy parks her car, and maybe finally tile the floor in the living room and bedrooms. I called a couple of places that do fences last week, and they're supposed to send someone out around the middle of May to do an estimate. In the meantime, I need to see about finding out exactly where our property line is, because I'm pretty certain that our existing fence is a couple of feet inside it, and I'd like to enclose those few extra feet if at all possible.

We've wanted to get rid of that chain link fence for so long -- we installed it ourselves, and we did an ok job for amateurs, but it's got some quirks. The back gate is on the street rather than on the alley (our house is on a corner). Some time back a drunk driver rammed into the street side of the fence, and the guy who fixed it cut corners, unbeknownst to us until it was too late to do anything about it. (Amateurs or not, we could have fixed it better ourselves.) A couple of the poles on that side are actually sheared off at ground level and are being gradually pushed down by the bougainvilla bush. And the stretch along the alley, while still in good condition, gives us a lovely view of the giant trash receptacle that serves the three or four houses on this end of the alley. I'm hoping we can do something a little more visually appealing than the bog standard grey cinder block, and maybe incorporate the Cool Iron Thing we acquired last year.

We went to the Ren Faire today -- I got a puffy shirt, and ordered some custom boots, which are going to be the one frivolous thing I'm getting with my inheritance money. We watched the falconry demonstration and Kathy did a dance thing (I watched) and we ate Faux Medieval Fair Food, and listened to the carillon and bagpipe players (not at the same time.) We didn't see the joust this time, which I kind of regret, but it's always difficult to get a seat for it unless you stake it out an hour a head of time, so oh well.

I've got to rethink the costume I wore, though. It's one of my steampunk ones, and it's OK, but A) it's really difficult to manage bathroom-wise, and B) the shirt and jacket have three-quarter sleeves, which drive me nuts. Have to see what I can do about that.

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Home again

Kathy's mother invited me out for the second, non-cruise week of their vacation in Florida as an early birthday present, so I have been gone for a bit. We drove up to St. Augustine and Savannah, just in time for the cold front pushed down by the storms in the northeast. Savannah and St. Augustine are beautiful and full of interesting history, but we only had three days to look at them, two of which were quite chilly. I'd really like to go back some day when it's warmer and we have more leisure to look around. I managed to lose my favorite knit cap while we were there, and then I left my jacket on the plane when we came home. Sigh. I put in a lost and found form with the airline, so hopefully they'll find it.

I managed to get all the furniture shipped to my brother and my cousin before I left, and the stuff going to my brother was delivered today. There was a message on my phone when we got home today saying that the table going to my cousin was on its way, so Linda, if you're reading this, expect it soon!

The cats are all fine, and tomorrow I can go pick up Bo (we got home too late to get him today.) Thursday I go back to work, and we have an appointment to do Mom's 2017 taxes.

I finally got around to reading the Queen's Thief books, which I like a great deal. They've got engaging characters, thoughtful worldbuilding, and a lot of juicy political intrigue. I think they're advertised as YA novels, and the first one might qualify, but the rest of the series tackles some very dark and adult situations, and they're smart books. The one thing that kind of bugged me was SpoilersCollapse )

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The real pressing issue of our times

I have learned that there is no national issue so divisive, no argument so vicious, as the battle over whether or not the city should be allowed to lease four acres of our local 26-acre park to someone who wants to put in an organic garden/farm-to-table restaurant. Mind you, our local park is not especially picturesque. It was originally an olive grove owned by Arnolds Pickle Company, and it looks... pretty much like an old olive grove with a playground plunked down in the middle. It alternates large bare areas, where soccer is played, with areas peppered with scraggly, underwatered olive trees, where Frisbee golf is played. It's a perfectly cromulent park, but it's not going to be winning any landscaping design awards.

To hear the anti-farm contingent, though, one would think that the city was proposing to chainsaw the last truffula tree standing in the entirety of Phoenix and replace it with seventeen square miles of oil-stained concrete, merely for the vile glee of destroying the happiness and well-being of everyone involved. Because that's what city planners do, apparently. The proposed plan calls for planting two new trees for every one that's removed, relocating and expanding the Frisbee golf course, and renovating the playground. It seems to me as if it's a win/win proposition all around; the worst outcome would be that the restaurant would fail, and then the city would get the buildings and could do as it liked with them. But no; if it goes through, the park will be ruined forever, local businesses will fail due to unfair competition, traffic will snarl for miles around, and hell will generally reign upon the earth. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of comments have been spent upon this battle on our neighborhood NextDoor website. Dire insults have been flung, reputations lie in ruins, and none dares post that their cat Fluffy is missing lest they be caught in the swirling maelstrom of park controversy.

The final hearing is March 22. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Kathy's in Florida visiting her Mom. I'm going to fly out and join them next Thursday, but until then, I've been left to my own devices. Friday I met my old boss for lunch (brief saga of Old Boss: let go in the Massacre of Ought Sixteen, went to work for a different nonprofit, moved to a much colder state, realized this was a terrible mistake, moved back here, came back to work for us again in a different department.) It was really nice to see him again and catching up on various work gossip. Saturday I took Bo in to the vet for his flu booster shot, and he got to meet an elderly golden lab/shepherd mix who was strikingly reminiscent of our old dog Sinji. Went out to dinner with Maggie, and went to bed at a more or less decent hour for once.

Today I spent most of the morning cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, and doing laundry, and being ruthless with accessories. Any scarves and belts I haven't worn in the last year got chucked. I had a bunch of kerchief-type scarves which I inherited from Mom, who never wore them either -- it was just that when we were kids, any time we couldn't think of a good birthday present, we got her a scarf. Many of them are quite pretty, but they have no particular sentimental value and I will never, ever use them, so out they go.

I'm trying to get the furniture which I'm sending to my brother and my cousin taken care of before I leave, as I'd rather not leave it on the porch while we're both gone. I've gotten a couple of bids through UShip on the table going to my cousin, but no bites yet on the shipment to my brother, which is larger and has to go farther. I may just have to hire someone outright for that one.

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Ick ick ick

That major creeper Thrawn left a comment on one of my stories. I feel unclean. I want to delete it, but then he might start spamming me, and AO3 oh so helpfully doesn't allow you to ban or block particular users from commenting. And it's not a flame or anything so I can't report him for abuse. Ugh. I am seriously reconsidering my life choices; how could I have written something that slimeball would like?

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