Thursday, August 28, 2008

A wonderful weekend

I've been all week recovering from it, alas, but I really did have a great weekend.

It involved an SCA event up in Nebraska. Yes, I hear you say, Nebraska is at the end of the world and is filled with naught but corn and corn farmers, but at the same time I tell you, it is awesome.

I almost didn't go. I had a long and stressful week, was tired and feeling a little ill as I packed up the car. I knew this was going to be a small event and I could only hope that I made enough money to cover my expenses -- not inconsiderable with the price of gas as high as it is. I also knew that I'd get there well after dark, despite all of my efforts to the contrary, and I find setting up after dark to be extremely stressful.

But I went anyway. And after a half hour or so on the road, I found myself in a pretty good mood. Kitten asleep on my lap, good music on the radio, driving fast through beautiful country. And northern Colorado is beautiful.

Western Nebraska, I thought, not so much. I mean, Nebraska is flat, right?

Actually, no, it's not.

This is where we camped. It was gorgeous. I indeed got there after dark, but got offers of help with setting up and with holding Loiosh. Camp took about ten minutes and I left the booth for Saturday. My helpers went back to bed and I took Mr Wiggly Pants for a walk.

I have not seen so many stars in years. And years. The sky was bright and crowded with them.

We walked about on the plain, Loiosh hunting bugs and God knows what else, me watching the stars, until the moon rose, and then we went to bed.

Up far too early the next morning -- these folks get up with the sun! Farming community, I suppose, though I don't think any of them actually farm. I got the booth up in good order and settled in for the day.

I spent some time watching the fencing -- on a wooden bridge so narrow it bounced as you walked on it -- and quite a bit of time hanging out with folks. The merchants next to me had a bored teenager who channeled her boredom into artwork (of which, alas, I got no pictures) and allowed me a piece of foam stuff to make a bit of wearable art of my own.

He wore them pretty much the rest of the day.

Sleeping angel.

His first set of garb -- I'm so proud *wipes tear*.

Of course, then he became horrible.

Yes, that's taken from inside my tent. No, he didn't actually rip the mesh.

But it was a close thing. Amazing thing is he made it up there with his wings still on!

He wasn't entirely sure about the whole thing, so I rescued him.

I wound up having an amazing time -- the folks there were so welcoming! Even though I hadn't paid for feast (I love feasting, but money is tight) they invited me to eat with them anyway. I was also invited to the autocrat's camp for both Saturday morning breakfast and Saturday night dice. By the end of the event we were teasing each other as if we'd all known each other forever.

And I made more than enough money to cover expenses.

I highly recommend events in the Shire of Hinterland to anyone who might be close enough to attend. I had a wonderful, wonderful time.

Health insurance

I don't talk about politics here a lot, because, well, it's simpler that way; I leave it to others. But this one, I couldn't resist.

In reference to a report that Texas leads the nation in percentage of residents without health insurance:

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain's health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

"So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime," Mr. Goodman said. "The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

"So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."

I am appalled at the level of ignorance and privilege this man displays. Clearly he's never depended in an emergency room for care when he hasn't got that magic insurance card -- because then he'd know that, law aside, as often as not they will turn you away if you're not insured. And how are you to get the money to hire a lawyer to call them to account?

Clearly he's never lacked for routine checkups and preventative care, none of which are available from his much-vaunted emergency room, none of which are affordable without health insurance; all of which are far more effective at maintaining your health than waiting until the last moment when you have to go to the emergency room.

Clearly he's never had to choose between paying for vital medication -- required to be able to breathe, to take an example from my own life -- and paying the rent, or buying food. An emergency room isn't going to help that dilemma at all.

I can only pray that McCain doesn't get elected -- lives hang in the balance, and that's no exaggeration.

Original article here. Might post a more reasoned response later, but right now I am so angry I'm about managing coherent.

What's do be done about it? I don't know. Vote, I suppose, in the hopes that this time they'll actually count. Move to Canada, possibly, which I've been considering anyway. I don't know.

But something's got to be done.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A little something to contemplate...

...for those of you out there with actual, y'know, congregations.

Consider a triangle, with the corners representing God, the congregation (tzibbur), and the prayer leader (shaliach tzibbur). Which line in that triangle do we usually talk about? Bringing the congregation closer to God. And which is the one line in that triangle that we aren't connected to? Yeah, that. We think that's our job, but we can't do anything about it, really. Instead, she said, consider the indirect effects of working on our own relationships with God on the one hand and the congregation on the other. If we get that right, maybe that helps with the third line indirectly.

From a Jewish perspective, obviously, but I think it applies to anywhere you have 'person leading service' and 'everyone else'.

Schwinked from my friend Monica who got it from her friend Julia.

I'd love to see some discussion on this from those of y'all who've led services.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A little unnerving...


A couple months ago my apartment building caught on fire. I'm fine, cats are fine, everyone in the building including pets is fine, but there was a fair bit of damage on the other side of the building.

Today it came time to replace the roof. It's been loud and distracting and since I don't have a curtain in my bathroom and the main thoroughfare up and down runs right outside it, I'm still lacking a shower. But I happened to glance outside this morning and see this.

Apparently part of the burned-out roof was just too fragile to take apart in place, so they lifted it off wholesale. I grabbed a camera and flew outside barefoot (hi, construction site, but my feet are fine) and got a bunch of pictures.

And, just to be completist, a video.


...but AWESOME.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Two Days Later

It's odd. He spent most of his time hiding in a closet or under a table -- there were whole days I didn't even see him -- but it still feels too empty and quiet around here.

In the meantime, things I have learned from my cats:


When you're hungry, eat. When you're tired, sleep. Play all the rest of the time.


The best way to get someone to walk along with you is to ask.

Goes for tree-climbing, too.


Snuggles make everything better.


Kisses too.


It's amazing the places you can find to take a good nap.



Anything can be a toy. Anything.


You can find friends anywhere.

...but okay, not always.


They're helping, each in his own way. And today I'm feeling a little better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

More detail

Thanks to all of you who've commented. I don't know if I'll have the energy to reply to each individually; I'm running pretty low at the moment.

Taltos had been sort of slowly fading for a while -- getting skinnier at any rate, though as energetic as always in running to hide. He was always afraid, see, and I never managed to convince him he didn't have to be. I decided against taking him to the vet, because changes were it was just age, and adding the stress of vet visits and medication would likely negate any good the medications might have done.

I still don't know if it was the right decision, but it's the decision I made.

There have always been whole days when all I'd see of him was a pair of eyes under a table. He was always _afraid_, and I tried and tried and tried to teach him he didn't need to be, and I never managed it. So I mostly left him alone, except to check on him every once in a while.

A few days ago he was fine.

Yesterday he ran past me into the closet -- stumbling, almost dragging himself along, I went in after him immediately.

He still had the energy to scratch me up pretty good, but it was clear he wasn't okay. His legs weren't working right, his tongue was stuck partway out of his mouth and wouldn't go back in. Stroke, or possibly a brain tumor that finally got big enough to push on the wrong things. I held him for a bit (and the fact that he let me told me everything I needed to know) and then went over to Tim's and had a meltdown.

I knew he had to go. It was time. But he's always hated the car, hated the vet's; I was stressing him enough just leaving him in the bathroom, though he wedged himself behind the toilet and seemed somewhat serene with that.

Tim, bless him, made all the arrangements. I wouldn't have been able to talk on the phone -- could barely talk in person. I stayed in the bathroom with Taltos and tried to think of a way to make it easier on him. I got a syringe and got a little water into him, which he seemed happy about. And I got out the bottle of valerian and rubbed a little on his nose.

That seemed to calm him down a lot. I got him curled up in a cat bed without him fighting it, and he relaxed once he was in it. He didn't cry in the car, didn't panic at the vet's.

All I'll say about that was they let him go easy, and I'm glad I thought of something to help with that. I can't bear to think if he'd been terrified.

Loiosh isn't letting me get too down. If I get too depressed he bites me on the nose ("I trained him; he bit me"). Chocolate is being extra-loving, Samson's being his normal hateful self but that's fine.

I hardly ever saw Taltos but the place still feels empty. I miss him.

Here's a much less Demon Cat picture:

Rest in peace, big guy. You don't have to be afraid any more. Wait for me by the Bridge if you want -- but don't feel you have to. I'll look for you there either way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My big cat...

Taltos, 1997-2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Come to the Green Wood

I normally post these over at my shop blog, but I figured I'd give y'all a chance to see how I make my jewelry.

In the green wood you know anything that you see
Could be ancient gods in some disguise;
In the green wood you touch on the last mystery,
And you can't put your trust in your eyes.
In the green wood surrender the things that you know,
Let your heart tell you just what it sees.
In the green wood take all that you are, and let go;
Put your faith and your light in the trees.

Seanan McGuire, Come to the Green Wood

I picked up these lovely carved stone beads at my favourite local bead shop, The Bead Lounge. They were tagged as 'crazy stone', which as far as I can tell is their way of saying 'we're not quite sure what it is, but isn't it awesome?'. And I'm not sure either, but they're awesome.

And a few weeks ago -- perhaps as long as a month, now -- I read the lyrics to a new song by Seanan McGuire, filker extraordinaire. And as I read them, a necklace took shape in my mind.

It was a while before I actually got the chance to let it come out properly, but today as I worked it made its slow way to the forefront.

Before I started the necklace I made a couple of paternosters (about which more later). During that process I happened to lay the carved beads next to the few jade beads I had left and voila! Yeah, those look good together.

I needed more -- I only had seven of the jade beads left, and it was still not quite right anyway -- so I dug around until I found the gold-dyed pearls. There were just enough of those left, too, proving that this necklace is a truly karmic piece!

...okay, that might be laying it on a little thick.

I've had these wood beads for a while and never found the right piece to use them with -- well, this was the right one. That's when I realized which piece I was making, and which song it was for. The tiny gold-coloured seed beads added the perfect finishing touch, just enough to brighten the necklace and set everything else off.

It's a good long piece, too, at twenty-six inches. Luxurious, one might say. Or at least, well, long. I'm pleased with it.

If you're interested (and you should be!) the rest of the lyrics to the song are at Seanan's LiveJournal. Amusingly enough, it's part of a group of songs she's written to prompts from yet more jewelry -- pendants with bits and snatches of quotes on them, made by the brilliant Chimera Fancies. I can't find the post where the pendant this is based on (if indirectly) appeared, but have a look here and here to see some of her lovely work.

Kitten not included.


Every once in a while I actually manage the time to take a bath.

Yes, I should be doing this more often. It's my own stuff after all! But somehow it's still hard to make time for it.

Anyway, it was a lovely relaxing bath (in Queen of Hungary Bath Salts, using Tea Tree Calendula Soap, for those who're interested), save for one small, confused, very anxious kitten who spent the whole time right next to the tub (when he wasn't on the rim) crying at me as if to say 'but Mom, that's WATER!'.

'Don't you realize that's wet?'

'Please get out, that's just not right!'

...he's mightily relieved now.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My work area

I recently finished an interview (to be posted later) in which the interviewer requested, among other things, a photo of my work area. I sent her another but after I sent it off I found this scene, and just had to take a picture:

Kinda says it all, doesn't it?

What I Do on the Weekends

I go camping with my kitten.

This last weekend we went to an SCA event near Florissant. It's up in the Rockies maybe a couple hours south of here, really pretty country. Due mostly to me messing around earlier in the week and not getting things done, we got there just around sunset, leaving me (once again) to set up in the dark.

Fortunately I found help right away -- someone to help me set up camp and someone else to watch the kitten. Loiosh went off with a friend of mine while I started to unload the car. Halfway through setting up the tent said kitten-watcher showed up, sans kitten, to inform me that my kitten was at a party without me. Something called a Pamper Party. Complete with salmon and a masseur.

I half expected the guy to jump out from behind a bush with a camera and big lights yelling 'This Is Your Life!'.

So, I finished setting up camp. Made my way to the party, and retrieved my kitten. Had him for no longer than five minutes before the Queen arrived and promptly stole him from me. So there he is, in the presence of royalty, getting fed cheese, while I float around the edges and try to look small.

Alas, I didn't get any pictures of him with the Queen.

Eventually I got him back, whereupon I fed him salmon (half the salmon was gone, but people had left a lot of crumbs), and ate a lot of blueberries, and got a lovely backrub. So all in all, I felt better about having missed the earlier parts of the party.

Woke up the next morning and got the shop set up. No pictures of that, either. Kitten only!

Tangled in his leash! I even have a video on Youtube.

He woke up and was Evil Kitty, so I lent him to a bunch of small children for about three hours. 'Don't bring him back until he's asleep!'. He wasn't quite asleep when I fetched him but it didn't take him long.

A new friend was kind enough to take a couple of photos of me with my baby -- these are for Aunt Ann, who specifically requested them:

I love the attitude of 'Moooom! People are looking! Stoppit!' in the second one. Note the paw, firmly placed against my chest. 'Do not kiss me in public!'


In other news, I sold a bunch of stuff, slept better than at previous events, and decided I want a canvas round tent. Probably will have to wait until sometime over the winter. But really, that's not the exciting part. I know you; y'all want more kitten!

In other news, yet another Etsy Treasury.