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12th-Oct-2014 09:10 pm - In no particular order:
*The Megatherium remains obsessed with hats and hair; I am making her a fish hat, which she is very excited about. We also went out and bought her some brightly colored hair ties and she is rocking the toddler antennae look.

*She is also bidding fair to horse-mad already (though other animals are good too.) There was a brief pony ride at the end of August which she still claims to remember fondly (& does things like point out pictures of other things riding on ponies and then points to herself. This appears to be the pre-vocal toddler for "I rode a pony!")

*Have traded the SC house with attendant mortgage for a significant chunk of the short-term savings account, so we're trying not to spend frivolous money for a couple months. Which means of course that I immediately discovered this pattern, and the matching girls' version and am vaguely pining after them.

*Up to five vocal words from her toddlerosity: Ma-ma, Da-da (or occasionally a very careful "Daddy," but not upon request), (c)at, dog (sounds like "ugh"), and hair, tho she's having a hard time with the r. We've had a couple more things once or twice but not recurrent. If everyone's feeling patient you can talk her through sounding out words one phoneme at a time, but she's just not that interested in combining them. Stubborn child is stubborn; helpful mommy is far too good at figuring out what she wants.

*In news of the weird, there's reportedly another girl just down the road who was born the same day as the Megatherium; I've spoken with her father briefly and we just missed them going by on a walk last week, but the toddlers have not yet managed to make contact.

*After stupid schedule incompatibilities I finally contacted the WFC people and discovered that they are happy to issue complimentary badges to children of the smaller persuasion, so the Megatherium and I are going to be there at least for a bit of Thursday afternoon (she with a badge that says "Megatherium" on it, even!) before repairing to Grandma's for overnight and Friday babysitting.

*Naptime pursuits include some haphazard weeding of messy meadow bits, collecting useful seedbank to share with Masonville Cove, working on a crow coat for M's hallowe'en costume, re-reading Raksura books (after the first of the novella pairs came out...), and starting an ello because people on twitter kept going on about it. Then I got there & everyone I know seems to be waiting to see what everyone else is going to do with it, so I started posting obscure nursery rhymes.

*Still both intorvert-stressed and lonely for other adult conversation, phoey, but doing a little better with some of the other loose ends. Am "playing" a thing that calls itself HabitRPG in which you gain gold/stats for completing the task lists you fill out, & it works well with my tendencies to prioritize externally imposed deadlines and my compulsive dislike of losing hit points ever. It's all self-set and self-reporting, so it does require a certain intrinsic honesty to do any good whatsoever, but if having a ticky box helps to remind you to clean the cat box (or that yes, it really does need to be done tonight instead of tomorrow, or that if you clean that cat box you'll get another gold coin...) then it might be worth looking into.

*After a period where two naps merged into one nap around lunchtime, we seem to be easing back to a 1:30 or 2pm kind of naptime and maybe one day it will be safe to drive more than 10 minutes around lunchtime to try to meet up with people for lunch again.

*One day I may also reclaim the coffee table from the seas of picture books that come and go across its surface.

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4th-Oct-2014 10:22 pm - What I want from a writing group
All the writing groups people talk about are critique-focused, which is all very well, but I don't actually like in-person critique that much, and I'm mostly not writing at the moment anyway, and most of my options are probably online which means definitely working with e-format documents, which I'm also not wild about. So I sat down the other day and made a wishlist of what *I* actually want, and it sounds a lot more like an informal con panel than a critique group.


*Once a week or so, to begin not before 8:30 PM EST and probably ending by 10:30 because her Megatheriocity isn't going to sleep in to suit my follies.

*Either hyper-local, or online. (Ok, realistically, that means online.) Would be willing to look into giving in on the G+ battle (ugh, google's annoying proprietary login crap) if their chat feature is the cross-platform option on what's going. Something chat-based seems more useful to me, but I gather there are a lot of talk/text hybrid things out there, which might also be worthy?

*Not too big, maybe 5 to 7 people maximum with space for an occasional drop-in or variance as people's schedules allow. Probably 4 would be a comfortable minimum. People with similar levels of writing/analytical abilities (whatever that means) will probably work best together.


*Mostly, I want to discuss the craft of writing; I finally *have* the sort of writing brain that's occasionally capable of analyzing metatextual elements instead of staring blankly at people who mention them, and I'm presently stuck in a sea of the same stack of picture books seven or eight times a day which has thus far been antithetical to my writing process. So, build-you-own writing salon/book group for writers, something like that.

*I'd be up for the occasional writing exercises (a la Steering the Craft) if other people want to try that, but that's not really my thing either.

*I'm thinking a structure of deciding on a topic the meeting beforehand so there's time to think about it/track down loose ends. Topics could range from large (let's talk about characterization!), to small, to process-based (how do *you* revise?), & maybe even a round exchanging favorite books of writing advice.

*Spoilers ok, to draw examples from things not everyone has read/seen.

*Questions and/or examples from your own work also fair game. (Either "I did this, which worked/didn't..." or "I'm working on X, and want to discus [problem/aspect of it]")

Ground Rules include:

*Opinions are just that, and everybody gets one; this isn't the place for big emotional arguments. (Within basic standards of not-being-a-horrible-person-whatever-that-means, of course; if your opinion involves planning on murdering people then that's probably an issue.)

*That counts double if you're bringing up your own work.


Does this sound interesting to anybody? Or like a can of worms I ought to be leaving at the fishbait store? Thoughts welcomed.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
Miss posting. Miss having time/brain to post. Working on re-organizing life so that maybe some day I will, tho we still have about 3 weeks of grauwulf on business trips to get through. (and that's two and a half of it all at once, ugh.)

Meanwhile, here are some of the picture books we've been enjoying. Many of them are even new!

Books!! Each of which I've read at least five times, and mostly more, which might be part of why my reading log for me contains six books finished all summer...Collapse )

Also, Sandra Boynton! Has music CDs! Parodies of pick-your-music-genre with silly animals and songbooks. I'm not sure there was ever a time I didn't need a love song to the chocolate cookies that are stuck in the jar out of reach. ("Faraway Cookies" from Philadelphia Chickens). Attn heuchera if you haven't heard of these; at least you & your dad need to look them up.

And a dis-recommendation: the Musk Ox (A is for Musk Ox and there's a counting one) series is stereotypical frat-boy humor packaged for toddlers, and both Grauwulf and I found them appalling. (Which should tell you something, as we often have pretty divergent takes on mainstream humor.)

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I am semi-seriously considering printing up cards to hand people with "Please do not be creepy at my toddler" advice, if I can figure out how to frame it so that people will read all the way through. Most of you are fine-- most of you reading this actually know me, and so the rules are different. But here are the things that are really not ok:

*Ok anything more than a smile or wave with the parent first. Don't try to have a long conversation with my pre/early-vocal child while ignoring me, especially if I happen to be holding her at the time.

*If you're not on terms to touch me (and if I have to tell you this, you're not) it is not ok to touch my child. With the exception of high-five or shaking hands as ok'd with me first (see above.)

*If you don't know me, you don't need to know my child's name. Slightly older kids have been socialized not to tell their names to strangers for at least 30 years. Just because you (think you) know you're not the problem doesn't mean you get to train my kid that this is ok. (Ok, I'm totally going to teach the Megatherium to tell people she doesn't trust that her name is Zoltara, Destroyer of Worlds or something.)

That's the ranty version, and can probably be pared down, but seriously, people. Ugh.


In more cheerful news, we have returned to the land of home and blueberries (I've harvested about a pint of the things since we got back, and the Megatherium has eaten two thirds of that-- in a couple years we may have enough to store & bake with) and are reading a couple of the Jane Yolen/Mark Teague Dinosaurs books obsessively; I've put several more on hold at the library. The child is as fascinated by the pets and parents as with the dinosaurs, and I hope we are not inadvertently going to give her the idea that she might one day end up with a dinosaur for a little brother.

Also, in new frontiers of the unexpectedly painful, I highly disrecommend having a small child stand on the top of one's bare foot for a little added height, and then lean slightly so that you've got her full 20 lbs pulling the skin sideways.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
I find that my mental allocation for writing has been sufficiently overrun by parenting and other more concrete tasks that I'm now having trouble with blog posts and e-mails. Bah.

Went to Fourth Street Fantasy. Was on panels. (madness!) I even appear to have managed reasonable coherence, despite unnecessarily small amounts of sleep. (Packing stress plus solstice insomnia, followed by one night's good sleep, followed by the Megatherium turning suddenly cold-symptomatic and needing to be picked up every hour or two to wipe her nose or just be held upright for a couple minutes.)

panels, for the curious. (most people do this ahead of time, but I don't think this information would have changed anyone's behavior & I didn't get to it.)Collapse )

The "Advice from New Writers" panel was particularly interesting to the participants, as we had an entire conversation about it beforehand that a few of us left feeling a little like we were going to end up repeating ourselves-- and then the actual panel was entirely different.

On the whole, I would recommend the con-- it's single track programming and I pretty much managed to get to everything, thanks to grauwulf's dedicated child-wrangling. It stayed pretty well in the range of interesting rather than done to death or cringe-worthy which puts it all in the top quarter or so of con panels I've been to overall.

(In notes to self, however, I think I have hit the point where further listening to other people talk about either revisions or co-writing constitutes cat waxing.)

There is also a long list of things I find I cannot recommend, beginning with the Dollar car rental at the Minneapolis airport and ending with taking a stuffy-nosed child who has already disgorged one set of half-digested pretzel and carrot bits upon her other parent onto an airplane at bedtime. (Note to other parents-- if your child sucks on fingers/thumb, this is a behavior to encourage through pressure changes. I have no idea why I didn't think of this until after she sorted it out for herself.)

Would do again, probably not until the child is a bit older and less Mommy-dependent. Not sure how WFC is going to go, but five months from now is another world, doesn't involve airplanes, and there wasn't any plan to take family along for that one.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
22nd-May-2014 02:47 pm - Cons & suchlike
I will be at Balticon on Saturday-- probably from around 10:30 or so until not too terribly late. Is there anybody I ought to be looking out for? My only fixed point so far is the Classical Historical Hairstyles presentation at 11, but I'll be wandering & probably going to some fiction-related stuff too.

Also, the world fantasy award nomination period is rapidly drawing to a close-- does anyone else have brilliant thoughts, particularly for the Life Award category? Most of my usual suspects are either on the list already, or not really fantasy writers per se, so I've got a bunch of blanks for which good suggestions I haven't thought of would be welcomed.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
...which sounds like it ought to be a euphemism for something, but actually it's a line from Fox in Socks. I find I am too good at Fox in Socks, as I only occasionally leave out words when Someone starts trying to close the book mid-sentence, rather than getting entirely muddled by the tongue twisters. Also I continue to find Dr Seuss worlds deeply creepy and disturbing-- they're full of pushy people and very unsettling physics, not to mention substances like oobleck-- and after half a week of "Ben's band bangs and Bim's band booms," my subconscious has hooked that but up with the drums in Moria. One assumes that the latter were not actually played by pigs, but who knows, really. But on the whole I find Fox in Socks pretty entertaining, and the Megatherium likes any book she can wander about with, and things with a good balance of words & pictures per page are just a bonus.

Toddler miscellania and a few picturesCollapse )

Meanwhile, I keep meaning to post things with actual thinking to them, and they dissolve like the ephemera they are in the face of migratory naptime schedules (we're transitioning from 10am/2pm to a single nap at 1pm, but scheduling on the ground is always a little messier than it sounds) and peremptory demands to go outside. And while I was entirely ignoring the calendar and flittering about being stressed about paint fumes (the bedroom ceiling is fixed, but has only just left off toxifying me) like the canary I am, my subconscious apparently kept track of what day it was and popped up with several hours of 3am insomnia for the anniversary of my father's death. In the middle of the random mental monologues to various people-not-present (what, don't you spend unwilling hours of wakefulness explaining the middles of things to random people?) I came to the realization that I have managed to plug into an awesome support network for writing-related things (not that I'm generally good at making proper use of it) but can't manage to figure out how to find a local babysitter even when someone gives me helpful advice on how to do it.

Some ways I fail at being a grown-up, and it's also occurred to me recently that at 35, there is not only no further up to grow, but the next societal milestone is the beginning of "old." Heh. (Admittedly, with an actual child around I am a little closer to outgrowing the habit of addressing myself as "kiddo" or "girl.")

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9th-May-2014 09:51 pm - apparently I complain a lot.
*The roof got fixed the Monday before last, which was almost immediately followed by three days of ALL THE RAIN. We had a bit of road wash out down the street and the liquor store at the bottom of the hill had three feet of standing water, and then there was that block of 26th St (I think) in Baltimore which flounced out of its retaining wall and sprawled down across the freight train tracks. But my bed stayed dry. Next week someone comes to tear apart the ceiling and fix that bit, which may be less the thing, but has to be done. The Megatherium will probably be highly entertained.

*We are going to 4th Street Fantasy, for which I bought tickets a month ago, and not to my MIL's 4th wedding, of which she informed us last week. (That would be two events occurring on the same day.) We are even mostly done with this round of the resultant angsty "ARGH, THINGS!" and have moved on to my trying to figure out what I should make as a wedding gift. Probably I will start by checking out the local fabric stores in search of motorcycle prints to see if they lend themselves to either quilts or fleece & crochet afghans. Probably I will not draft up a cross-stitch pattern for sheep riding motorcycles to embroider on sheets, because while grauwulf and I would find it hilarious, the joke probably wouldn't share well.

*The zoo has morphed into a mad summertime monster, but fortunately the Megatherium still enjoys kid-heavy crowds. I trust the joyous screaming from this evening is not something she picked up from the hordes of screaming children and is going to make a habit of, however.

*We have a Cope's Gray Treefrog living by the pond, recorded it singing, and given it the exciting opportunity to sing duets to itself. Also a probably-Eastern American Toad, and a large black rat snake that was (I think) deterred from eating the baby cardinals in the azalea by a sudden downpour. And today there were fledgling Carolina wrens on the giant woodpile. Oh, and we actually saw a woodchuck in the back yard (and scared it under the shed) instead of just rabbits and nibbled plants. Wildlife!

*I made exciting garden things in clay class (and vast quantities of buttons, and teacup charms), only now I can't find my heavy duty twine to hang them up with. Also apparently registering for the next installment of clay class involves calling someone on the phone, because the instructress forgot to put it into the system in time. I am even less inspired to call people on the phone now than I was before having a small child around. But clay class is nice in that it involves leaving the house to do physically creative stuff in a non-baby space, which is good to have a little of. But the prospective classmates are less restful. (I mean, they're enthusiastic. In that way where they want to keep admiring what I'm working on instead of just leaving me alone to work on it.) I'm torn.

*Child is up to three sort-of words-- we've got a pretty clear "Ma!" or "Mama!" which even once got all the way to "Ma-mee" which is almost "Mommy." There's an incipient "daddy" (again not really there on the end, but recognizable) and "up" which is more "ub" or "ab" and can also mean "out" (as in outside).

*Am working on a thing based off of The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo, only with American Cheetah. I find that writing things that put together pieces rather than creating whole is something where I can co-opt my poetry writing process and scribble bits in a notebook and even take it with me for the times when I'm letting the Megatherium nap in her car seat on the way somewhere & wake up in her own time. Possibly some day something will even make it out of the notebook. We shall see.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
What we find is that my pattern for "healthy adult immune system" requires some discretion regarding what one picks up and chews upon. The Megatherium's idea of how to explore the universe continues to involve eating acorn caps and chewing on rocks and sticks and (eep!) last year's pokeweed stalks. (The pokeweed is *I hope* now removed from her sphere of interest.) So now she's begun picking up nice pathogens and incubating them for me-- toddler sneezes make a fantastic delivery method-- and I have been sick more in the past six weeks since she stopped nursing than I have in the previous several years. Ugh. Spent all but about three hours of yesterday in bed with a fever, creating new metaphors for immunoresponse.

There was some study years ago-- it must have been when I was in high school, because I remember knowing about this in college-- where they determined that if you visualize your immune system working that actually helps it work. And as it's one of those weird willpower/placebo effect sorts of things, you don't actually have to know how your immune system works to manage-- you can have your five-year old picture little fish swimming about in his/her blood eating the disease, and it'll work just as well as contemplating your white blood cells. And when you're in that state where you're a little too sick to read because it involves keeping your eyes open, it makes a nicer diversion than worrying about all the things you wanted to do with your Saturday (which happened, in this case, also to be our 5th wedding anniversary. Bah.)

So I pictured little clay warriors with exciting helmets tromping about in my bloodstream fighting back waist-high amoeboid alien plant things with torches and fire arrows. I briefly considered making them like that burning minotaur guy in Thor 2, because that was pretty cool (though that was what grauwulf was watching on Friday night and I didn't stick around long enough to find out what killed him b/c when you get to the point where you're wishing you could get another full-body shot of what whats-her-name is wearing instead of all the CGI strafing runs, it's pretty clear you and the movie have diverged in field of interest & the sick would be better off sleeping. Also, I didn't care much about either of the main characters. Unless you count Loki, who I mostly want to pat on the head & find a good therapist, maybe a lover, and then a fulfilling job in some kind of super-twisty spy universe. Because that really sounds far more like his thing than being king anyway.) But imposing metaphors involving irreversible burn-out on my white blood cells seemed like not so much the thing, so I ended up tweaking my clay warriors to include little furnace doors in their abdomens, and supply lines to the nearest fat storage centers...

It is possible this got a little excessively convoluted.

However, at this point I'm feeling almost human again, and tomorrow theoretically someone is coming to fix the roof so that it stops raining on my bed. (Um, turns out insurance claims for wind damage take about fifteen steps to process, and then because it's April, it keeps raining. Which presently leaks down above our lovely cathedral ceiling and drips right where my feet go when I sleep.)

Also the last few times I've put the Megatherium to bed, it's gone about like this:

Me: It's bedtime. Do you want me to read you a story?
Her: Yes!
Me: Ok. If you lie down, I'll read you a story.
Her: [immediately stands up] Ma-Ma!
Me: [putting her down again] If you stand up, I'm going to go away and turn out the light.
Her: [immediately stands up again] Ma-Ma!

And after a round or two of this, I put her down again, turn off the light, and tell her goodnight, sleep well, & I'll see her in the morning. The last couple times, she's lain down and gone to sleep pretty much immediately. (Wednesday night she wanted to scream about it, but I was so tired I went to bed pretty much immediately after her anyway.) She doesn't do this to her father, but he was also out of town for much of the week.

So that's where I've been instead of talking to people.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
So, let's see. I think I mentioned to someone (as opposed to posting here) that my hormonal cycles kicked back in with a lovely new depressive spike for a week or so every month. So some failure to post may be related to that-- we're still at the point of waiting to see if that bit goes away again or if I need to go talk to someone and find out if there are useful options besides "deal with it."

*The Megatherium's "no" grew in about two weeks ago, and then we had a lovely week of extremely accurate reporting on the diaper situation, followed by several days of attempted dissembling because she'd rather go outside now-now-now than have to go back upstairs & get changed, and besides, shaking her head is more fun than nodding. We're starting to equalize, though there are still some yes-no-yes moments about food which make it very difficult to figure out what she actually wants.

*Outside is awesome. Fun activities include moving rocks & bits of mulch, removing fallen maple blossoms from the sidewalk, pulling the heads off of flowers, and eating acorn caps. This last one might be my fault-- her first acorn cap experience was at the zoo, in the middle of a string of my telling her, "That's a very fine leaf, now can you drop it off the pathway?" and I unwisely said, "that's a very fine nut," and into her mouth it went. Oops. We are slowly working towards consensus on things like beheading dandelions but not daffodils or bloodroot.

*Grauwulf borrowed the neighbor's truck & brought back half our pallet of flagstones last Saturday, and my mother and I unloaded them, mostly by way of constructing a dry laid pathway between house & cars. Most of the stones still need to be cut in, but they're not too much of a problem to walk on and far less muddy. While grauwulf was fetching rocks, the Megatherium & I went off to a baby sale and found her a marvelous chair, and then to a native plant sale and got half a fruiting hedge, which I put in on Sunday. Then there was a brief excursion to Robot Fest while I was playing with rocks where reportedly the Megatherium had a mad flirtation with a remote control R2D2.

*I'm semi-consistently "Mom" "Mam" or "Mamam", and there's some motion in the direction of other standardized vocalization (though outside!outside!outside! was yet another distraction.) Most of the Megatherium's communication at the moment is through pointing at things, though, which... has its drawbacks. Grauwulf deciphered the one where she points at my feet as "sit down so I can climb in your lap," which I don't know that I would have figured out on my own. But there's also pointing to foodstuffs (all of which live in about three locations) and DOWN which also means outside as well as "sit down, Mommy." I am trying to push nouns, but we've so far got MILK, BERRIES, and HAT to work with.

*What with the outside and the wandering, I'm trying to do Project Budburst monitoring. Despite being down to three mature trees, plus the elm I planted 5 years ago which does now outmass us, I've got 30+ species of shrub & baby trees to observe, and I'm not counting anything that hasn't been here for at least a growing season, on the grounds that the new plants don't know what to expect. We're still a kind of pitiful habitat in terms of cover, but the biodiversity isn't too shabby. And anywhere her wiggliness chooses to plop down for a minute or two, there are (sigh) plenty of little english ivy plants for me to pull out.

*The roof (after the ridgeline blowing off incident, which was fixed, but apparently only mostly) is leaking just enough to muck up the drywall seams over our bed. If we are crushed by falling sheets of drywall in the middle of the night, it's been nice knowing you. (As yet, the drywall itself is fine; it's just the seam tape peeling up. But it's been pouring off and on all day, so there's no fixing anything until it all drys out.)

*Really enjoying the "Writing Process Blog Tour" meme thing (see Marissa Lingen & Alec Austin for starters) in that way of being fascinated by how other people's brains work. More people should write about it. I would, except [lack of time/brain] and I'm working on sanity & parenting right now, instead of writing anything.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
14th-Apr-2014 09:02 pm - "You want shelter, I get a room."
will-post-again-someday-maybe (We've spent a lot of time outside, & the last time I tried to answer an e-mail on the Megatherium's time she chewed a hole in the cover of her father's spanish workbook. Um.) But in the mean time:

If anybody knows someone who's looking to rent a place in the Baltimore area, my neighbor is in semi-desperate need of a renter, preferably ASAP. (She just split up from her wife, & the whole mortgage is staring her in the face.) Anyway, nice neighborhood, potential to collaborate on food gardening, walking distance to the light rail & easy access a bunch of the south-of-Baltimore major highways, plenty of street parking. Cute toddler & wildlife habitat on one side (us), smokers who hang out on the porch a lot on the other (boo), ping me or grauwulf for more info.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
One for the files of writing topics that don't get talked about as usefully as one might like.

whiny me-contextCollapse )

There was a conversation on twitter the other day about revising one's fiction, and how one actually *does* that, anyway. I am not particularly good at revising things, but anyone can start a discussion. Here are some things that seem to work for me, and some things that don't yet, and anybody who has thoughts or different angles/sets of questions is encouraged to chime in.

some things that workCollapse )

things I have not got yetCollapse )

**There are many more things, but darned if I can think what they are right now and I started this post almost a week ago. Talk to me about your revision process, people! I am with the curious or maybe that's nosy!

Xposty from dreamwidth.
I continue to have the cold that will not die, though except for the first day or so I've been mercifully able to function despite it. Unfortunately, now the Megatherium has got it (or some other cold-- it's totally possible that my problem is I had two colds back to back) and today she is Cranky Baby!!! Poor thing. She decided to be weaned last thursday, and of course turned up all dribbly-nosed by Saturday now that she's all on her own for immuno-function. Now I get to start worrying about making sure she actually is taking in complete nutrition all by herself. (I mean, I was trying to do so before-- hence the asking about toddler foods, and thank you to all of you who responded!) I am rediscovering garments I haven't been able to wear for the last year or two, and contemplating bra shopping with unenthusiasm. (I have a couple non-nursing bras that aren't quite dead yet, but if anyone has recommendations on where to find actually supportive non-underwire bras for the smallish bust, I'd love to hear about it.)

The weather continues in its wild mood swings-- today it's snowing again, last Thursday was up to 70 (and we went to the zoo!) and next Friday is predicted to be back up there again. This child continues to want to go outside and either trot up and down the sidewalk or watch the excitement of the world while strapped to my chest. (Did I mention we found an outward-facing carrier with actual back support for the adult at a price I was willing to pay? Baby Bjorn. It's a hit.) She can even pick which option she wants. I say something like, "Go to the door if you want to walk by yourself, or you can bring me the carrier if you want me to do the walking." And she makes a choice. Madness. Other choices, such as "which book would you like?" don't always work as well-- hold out two books and she's liable to grab both of them.

And now cranky baby of crankiness is awakening, so I'd better go see about that.

Xposty from dreamwidth.
17th-Mar-2014 09:31 pm - Some day I will not have a cold again
Today we had about six inches of snow (though it was an odd sort of snow that mostly melted off the pavement & stayed extra fluffy and deep on everything else) which just goes to show why the only things showing more green than a little basal rosette are evergreens or non-natives. The plants know this is a perfectly normal contingency. We've also added white breasted sparrows to the yard & feeder list, which make a nice change from the stupid english sparrows.

When the weather is nicer, the Megatherium & I have been wandering the neighborhood, either up and down the sidewalk with the pitter patter of little feed and a joyous waving of little arms (I'm working on teaching her that when she picks up sticks and leaves they get carried over and dropped on the grass again) or somewhat longer distances with the new outward-facing sling. She's mostly got over the joyous waving of hands at all times, but after a while she'll start to sing.

I, on the other hand, have been reading Sara Stein's Noah's Garden, and am therefore even more inclined than usual to look balefully upon the vast wasteland of lawn, pavement, and imported ornamental shrubs. I've started visualizing the Diary of a Migratory Bird:

Day one, entering suburban wasteland. The woodlot where I stopped last fall has been clear cut; found a seed feeder in a backyard five miles further on. Very tired.

Day two, detoured slightly to fly over parkland; high traffic, and most of last year's berries are already gone.

Day three, lovely stopover in wildlife garden, but very crowded...

And so on. It ought properly to be a silly little video game a la the Oregon Trail where you get to pick your species and start dates, and possibly migration routes.

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So, we had a lovely early March snowstorm where it snowed nice light flakes and birds. Ok, maybe not, but it sure looked like it. We got two new birds for the yard list (redwing blackbird & common grackle) and saw a lady redbellied woodpecker for the first time in a few years. There are now two juncos who have figured out how to eat from the peanut feeder when the ground isn't available, and the flock of cardinals got some more of the pokeweed and virginia creeper berries. A few of them kept trying to figure out what the fuss was about this bird feeder thing, and being disappointed that it only had peanuts in it.

Then it was cold, and I had weird bouncy "want to go jogging" sort of energy (I don't want to go jogging; it only seems like a good idea until my lungs start seizing up from lack of sufficient cardio.) and just about as it warmed up to be lovely out I came down with a stupid cold. I'm sufficiently functional to do whatever I've got to, but beyond that I either have enough energy to answer questions or to do stuff, but not both. And I don't seem to get to pick which. Not with the fun, and furthermore this makes it difficult to plan things for later, since I'm in that bit about not being able to imagine wanting to do stuff.

The Megatherium, besides not yet exhibiting any signs of illness (yay), has got spring fever. Not only is she continuing to haunt the front door (not a good idea!), but she's taken to bringing me her leash carrier by way of telling me that we should go for a walk. I promised her we would do something fun today, as I was a particularly not-fun Mommy yesterday, but fortunately "fun" does include things like a trip to the hardware store, or wandering around the neighborhood. Even better if I let *her* walk down the sidewalk all by herself, though it's a little difficult to keep hold of her hand, as this gets in the way of waving her arms about joyously.

We have also pretty-much accidentally created the peculiar phenomenon of a toddler who says "yes" but not "no"-- her father taught her to bob her head up and down in the midst of being silly a couple weeks ago, and I shamelessly co-opted it for nodding. And she does nod yes, rather the way the stereotypical toddler says "no!", with some enthusiastic indescriminacy, but not when she's actually opposed to something. Pretty useful. Now to get her to say "berry" when she hasn't been prompted...

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28th-Feb-2014 08:47 pm - hydradynamics
There was a brief exchange on twitter involving giraffe hydras and whether they would eat ash trees or be convinced to eat emerald ash borers. The usual silliness, but in between helping the Megatherium figure out how to get her plastic chain links back into their bag,* my brain went off on a tangent.

-Most herbivores aren't as strictly vegetarian as all that; they'll cheerfully eat & metabolize whatever insects happen to be hanging out on the plants they're eating because insects are concentrated little packages of protein and nutrients.

-Mammals (see: giraffe) do most of their early/formative growth while nursing. (Biologically, humans are designed to nurse for somewhere around six or seven years, though obviously we don't have to.) Baby songbirds do most of their growing on a diet of huge quantities of insects (see above.)

-The only terrestrial creatures I can think of offhand that regrow severed body parts (tails) are salamanders & skinks, most of which are insectivores or omnivores who eat insects.

-Therefore, I think one could make a case for a mature mammalian hydra having increased insectivorous habits to support the metabolic demands of growing extra heads.

*Just because you can see through it doesn't mean you can pass the link through the side, even if you put your other hand into the bag to grab it with. Good try, though.

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21st-Feb-2014 02:43 pm - Happy Megatherium Day!

A year ago this tiny thing was getting ridiculous nicknames from the people in the well baby nursery and sleeping all the sleep. Now she runs and climbs stairs and pesters the cat and eats whole bananas for breakfast. Crazy.

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20th-Feb-2014 09:40 am - Pilgrims
My story Pilgrims is in the issue of Beneath Ceaseless Skies that came out this morning; there's also audio for those who are interested. (I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet.)

It's a Pennsic story, by which I mean a product of that phenomenon in which one goes to Pennsic and sits in a couple classes with people talking about interesting medieval cultural things one hadn't run across before, and then comes home, starts typing, and finds oneself pausing to read plot summaries of Marie de France tales on wikipedia in search of suitably era-appropriate Drama.

(Also, for those few of you who've read The Witch, the Weaver, and the Wood, this takes place about 200 years previous, a few countries south and east.)

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15th-Feb-2014 02:46 pm - Ok, internets...
...What do/did you feed your toddler(s)?

We need more variety in real food (ie, not purchased jar food) that works for someone with no chewing teeth. Further details re: household favorites available upon request, but initially withheld in an attempt not to bias the suggestion sets.

Also any stories you're up for sharing about weaning (mechanics, motivations, when/how you did so) welcome.


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14th-Feb-2014 09:40 pm - more birds
It's Great Backyard Bird Count weekend! Sometime between now and Monday night, try spending fifteen minutes looking out your window at the birds. It's for Science!

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7th-Feb-2014 09:32 pm - micro conversations
I've been contemplating micro conversations-- the kind you have with the checker at the grocery store or waitstaff at a restaurant; complete strangers who are sharing space and possibly nominal goals with you for a few moments. Obviously the first thing that stands out is that having someone small and cute around wildly skews the average interaction towards children, though I still get people who want to tell me about my hair. I lost count of how many people have told us about another child who sucked on his or her middle two fingers after five or six, and that was a while ago. I'm constantly asked for her name (um, aren't we socialized not to share that?) and/or age, and some people just skip talking to me and talk to her instead, which is also a bit creepy.

But beyond that, there are also the weird little bits that make it clear that you're tracking parallel universes with the person you're talking to: the waitress who assures you, "Oh, no that's not weird at all!" as if she expects you to be worried what she (or the universe at large) thought about what you'd like to eat; or the use of "that was totally my fault" instead of "I'm sorry." (These things do not actually mean the same thing.)

I feel like there is characterization potential in the tension between the not-quite-sensible thing that the stranger says to you and the reaction to it; possibly something a little more subtle than that thing ursulav just put up, but possibly in the same family.

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3rd-Feb-2014 09:29 pm - toddlerdom
Between dinner at six (which can often take up to an hour) and bedtime at eight, there's a nice hour or so to run about the floor shrieking and making a mess and appreciating the existence of both parents. Tonight we were both sitting on the living room rug and the Megatherium was tottering about (she's getting quite speedy, and catches herself *most* of the time when she stumbles) when she wandered off with the two smallest stacking cups-- her favorites-- and dropped them well out of arms reach for those of us whose job it is to restack things for her to take apart or knock over.

Grauwulf pointed to the littlest red cup and asked her to bring him the stacking cup. (This is not something I'd tried recently; I've been working on, "drop this over here" which hasn't taken off at all...) The Megatherium trotted off, not to the cup he'd asked for, but instead to the little green (more distant) stacking cup, picked it up, and brought it back to put into his hand. And then, when asked, went and got the red one to do the same.

There's totally a little person in there, who knows bits of what we're talking about and how to act on it. Which I pretty much knew, but sometimes you just have one of those moments where you see it happen and it's suddenly real.

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1st-Feb-2014 11:08 pm - February
I now own an actual book with my name and a little bit of my actual work in it, not to mention actual work from several other people I know. And I took far more than my share of time reading my story aloud at the book launch (most of the readers were restricted to 5 minutes, on account of not being in this print volume) and signed other people's books in brightly colored pen. Madness.

Now I need to go read the rest of Ansa and the Lost Thing.

Also, and only semi-relatedly, I've got myself on several people's lists for the month of writing letters, so in quest for universal fairness, anyone who would like a Thing mailed through the mails, please say! (And message or e-mail me your address if I haven't got it.) I make no promises for actual letters, but I will send you something interesting and even attempt not to let the Megatherium chew on it first.

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/For Daddy has money
But Mommy has none.

This ghastly little gem brought to you by my grandmother (over thanksgiving; apparently it was given her by a neighbor in NYC when her eldest daughter was tiny and she thinks it's nice) and my subconscious, which dredged it back up recently. It has even settled into a tune. We have been adapting lyrics wildly to suit the moment.

baby stuffCollapse )

Other things:

*purged hordes of unused closet contents before they started galloping their war ponies over the bedroom floor, and then VVA sent us a note saying they were doing a pick-up today, so I didn't even bother asking if I knew anyone who wanted any of it.

*However, I still have some SeedSavers packets-- mostly tomato & squash, I think? that I'll be happy to mail to a good home. A few years old, so I don't know what the germination rates will be, but probably good for at least a harvest or two. Let me know if you're interested in what those are.

*I am currently wearing a blouse chopped up and resewn out of my favorite turtleneck from high school, which I had not worn in years and on which the cuffs were going. It has become sort of crop-top/peasant-blousy in a style that I find fits nicely under tank tops to make them winter-friendly. By next fall, I suspect it will also work well under (less nursing-friendly) T-shirts as well. +2 to productivity, -1 from last night's bedtime.

*Not only am I going to be reading at the Rocket Dragons Ignite launch party (the only link is to the book-of-faces, I'm so sorry) but I have what I believe to be my SFWA-qualifying story coming out shortly. Watch this space & all that. Now to decide, um, if I want to leap into that weasel pit or not.

*Still have not even tried to have a useful discussion about going to cons. I mean, I'll be at World Fantasy. Some other things would be nice, but planning is an issue. Ok, about three different issues, actually, and one of them is my worrying about the other issues rather than doing something.

*Ordered breadmaker. Panasonic thinks it'll turn up tomorrow. Then there will be Adventures in Baking. (BabyToddler approves of bread. Will even eat things she's not wild about this meal if I spread them on bread. I am also fond of bread, and the ability to make higher protein/fiber versions without all the weird crap they put in commercial bread to make it shelf-stable seems like a nice idea. Then we will see what other nutrients we can add, too.)

*Irritated by continued existence of last ~5lbs of obsolete pre-baby support system. Treadmill continues frustratingly on the blink, weather continues dangerously cold 5 or 6 days a week. Trying to find mild stomach muscle exercises that actually work my stomach muscles instead of mucking up back/neck/other overcompensating things-- so far leg lifts & fake sit-up curls (the kind where you just touch the knees with extended arms) sort-of work if I put a pillow under the small of my back first, and leaning back with arms upraised seems to work fairly well. Any other suggestions? Also could use good things that stretch out the backs of the calves besides, um, walking on the level on, say, a treadmill that trips the breaker about two in every three times we try to turn it on. (sigh)

*Got ridiculous tea magazine at the hardware store when we went for towel racks & child thwarting devices. 90% glamorous staged pictures of tea tables, 5% silly descriptions, 5% intro & brewing advice, plus several pages of cake flour advert recipes upside down on the back. I find this vaguely calming and entertaining, & am sort of considering subscribing to the related magazine that's actually all about [the American conception of British] tea, instead of just being a single special issue. There's this check for audio rights on my desk...

*Need to e-mail Real People regarding lunch and/or tea and/or other dates for further actual adult conversation that is not with either grauwulf or my mother. Have got as far as opening a blank e-mail, then getting distracted by twitter and/or end of naptime. This is unhelpful. (The blogotwittersphere is shaping up to be one of those coping mechanisms for lack of regular adult conversation that is very helpful in the short-term and leads to crippling inertial habits in the long-term.)

*Apparently I had Things to Say in excess of having time to write tonight. Phoey. Though comparisons with molasses and winter apply to writing at the moment anyway, which is a pity as I'm running short on things to send out or the usual places to send them.

*And I was going to talk about children's books, too. Perhaps later.

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Weekend with inlaws went more or less as they usually do, except that it was cold enough that the MIL's boyfriend went out to sit in his car every 20 minutes for another cigarette instead of standing about in the open air, thus creating a smoke retention chamber which shrouded him and the MIL in toxic fumes. I survived one day of it more or less fine, but two days in a row meant that I got enough of a dose that it triggered my smoke allergy, which hasn't actually happened since the poisoned book the summer after college. 12+ hour delay, burning stomachache. Kind of like a migraine, only centered on the abdomen rather than the head. Fortunately it kicked in about the time I went to bed, so I slept through a lot of it, and was just shaky and cranky today. [additional reasons for crankiness redacted. Basically I could use a couple days never to talk to anyone again-- or more to the point never to *listen* to anyone again-- but baby.]

Anyway, the Megatherium got to meet her great grandma's medium-smallish dog which she began by being distressed by and ended by walking up and patting joyously. And we went to see one building of the Butler Institute of American Art, and wandered through an eclectic set of collections including hyper-realistic people sculpture, various technology & art things (the coolest of which was cement standing-stones with tiny point fiber optic lights in), and a whole gallery of Elbridge Ayer Burbank's amazing portraits of American Indians in the late 19th century.

Now I shall toss a coin for whether I play a silly video game for a bit, or just go to bed. Both have merits...

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