Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


When a night out turns into a night in...

Today was a day that really did not go as planned. It started in the wee hours of the morning when I was unable to sleep and gave up after four hours of restless dozing. The wind howled and threw sheets of pelting rain against the house, punctuating the mess with rumbles of thunder. It kept up with this weather all day occasionally letting up so a momentary patch of sun or blue sky could peek through just long enough to be remarked upon... then back to the windy and spluttering.

I was pretty crushed with fatigue before my day even started. I drove south this morning to drop Pramas at Norwescon for his panels then turned right around and went pick Kate up to take her to drop her off with her dad. Our usual selection of Zipcars were unavailable. I had to go out of my way to pick up the Zipcar and took a wrong turn, got lost, and wasted about 45 minutes with that whole mess. Even so, I was only about 30 minutes late arriving at the meeting spot but then Kate's dad let me know that there was a huge back-up at the border crossing. He arrived three hours later. I was very lucky to be able to extend the Zipcar rental as long as I needed it I ran up against another's reservation and couldn't have extended it any further.

The weather made for difficult driving conditions, I could really feel the wind buffeting the car around on the wet freeway. I felt utterly drained when I got home and realized the day was gone. As I had plans to go out I got myself cleaned up and changed but with the rain and wind still beating down I touched base with my friend, who was of the same mind: it would be nice to see each other but the thought of venturing out again was, well, daunting. Being in agreement, we called it off and stayed in. Off came the "going out clothes" and on came the pajama pants. I had a little lie down and accidentally had a three hour nap. Leftovers for dinner and what remained of the day I spent with Netflix and my sweetie.

Not exactly what I thought the day would be. I think tomorrow is going to be low key.



Improving the home

I've always loved a good project. I like to credit my Grandpa Lindroos for that as he was always willing to have me hanging around in his workshop when I was a youngster. He was genius at figuring out ways to keep me busy, like the time he let me look through a pile of wood chips and shavings for pieces that looked like animals, then handed me glue, a board, and a black chisel-tip permanent marker and let me build a "farm scene", or the times he let me "help" him create No Hunting signs for his property (the "Please don't shoot the bunnies" signs went over well with the neighbors). In the same way

For the longest time my projects had to be limited to things like putting together shelves. When we first moved into our house, I was thrilled to be able to do a few projects like putting in our garage door opener, staining the porch, hanging a pot rack, replacing our garbage disposal or putting our attic ladder in. I don't actually have a garage workshop but boy would I love one, with power tools.

Last spring I hired a company to put in a patio for us and that was a GREAT idea. We got a grill, I found a fantastic table and chairs on Craigslist, I built some raised beds and had a successful summer of gardening. It was all quite invigorating.

Of course, this just makes me want to do more. Now's not exactly the best time to be laying out for home improvements. We've already had some unfortunate expenses, like putting in the fix for the defecting heating system this winter and with Green Ronin as our sole income our means are decidedly more modest than when Chris was working in the computer game industry. Still, it's hard to tamp down on my brain and all the ideas that keep popping up.

We've made incredible strides in clearing out the garage and my primary fantasy is to finish the garage. It's only a one-car garage but in my mind there's still enough space to put in a craft table for Chris, where he can work on minis; set it up with a drum set for Kate, so she can practice and play to her heart's content; and where I can organize my tools, my gardening equipment, perhaps even my own little crafting corner where I could set up a sewing machine. Insulate that mother, put in a ladder to the rafters where we could have our storage, add a heater, extra lights, put in a router with an old TiVo, our old Xbox, and a cheap TV and our "livable space" is suddenly SO much bigger. *sigh* Long term dream, we'll get there sometime.

I'm also keen to pull out our ten-year-old carpet and replace it with flooring (which I've been told would be better for my allergies), finally paint a few rooms something other than the original "putty grey" the house came with, and put in some different window treatments instead of the rather ugly cheapo blinds that came with the house. These sorts of things are largely cosmetic. They'd make me feel happier about the house but it's not like my blinds aren't functional. Part of me feels a little queasy about wanting to make chances that aren't strictly necessary. I mean, it's not like I'm living in a mud hut and part of me feels I should just be happy that I have what I have. On the other hand, I work from home (and have for the last *mumble mumble* years) and my world is often distressingly small. Changing up my environment to feel more open, more creative, brighter... well, it's appealing. Very appealing.

I do feel like I could make many of these changes on my own and even enjoy it. On the third tentacle, after my experience both with having the patio put in by professionals and having my heating system/water heater issue handled by professionals I'm finding myself really leaning toward getting someone in to do a lot of the work.

Anyway, I've got a list of things that I'd like to accomplish eventually. I'd like to finish the landscaping in the back yard (tilling and planting the borders around the yard, put in about 400 sq. ft of new sod, put in stone cover in the side yard around the raised beds). I really need to re-paint/re-stain the porches before the HOA gets on my case. I want to do some painting, some window treatments, figure out some better options for storing our books and games. My next project is expanding the garden for this year but I should be done with that in the next few weeks. What's next is the question.

I'm not sure what's next but it will be SOMETHING.



Life Marches On

Although I've been up to a few things since my last update I find that I've been having a hard time putting my brain in gear to do any writing of substance. I've been popping off a few updates via Twitter or on Facebook but I've really got to make a change if I'm going to get back to any blogging of substance.

Even though blog-wise things have been a bit dead, I have still been up to a few things. I've managed to reconnect with a few friends, get out of the house with my husband for a little adult-time, still trying to figure out what we're going to do with Kate for high school, preparing to chaperon Kate's class on their Alaskan cruise in May. Since I'm still procrastinating on diving back into "real" blogging, I thought I'd do a little recap. Here's what I've been up to in the last couple of weeks:

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
OK Go / Notre Dame marching band - This Too Shall Pass
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Chickpeas with Broccoli Rabe and Bacon
Szechuan-Style Tofu with Peanuts
Tuna Noodle Casserole with Leeks and Fresh Dill
Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara
Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
Brown Soda Bread
Beef and Guinness Stew
Turkey Sloppy Joes on Cheddar Buttermilk Biscuits
Overnight Blueberry Muffins
Crockpot Butter Chicken

A Morning for Flamingos
Escaping the Endless Adolescence
True Compass: A Memoir
Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking
The Enchantment of Lily Dahl
Summer Knight
Death Masks
The City & The City
Child 44

Protesting Health Reform, GOP Attempts To Bring Senate Hearings To A Standstill By Blocking All Proceedings
Tea Partiers Call Lewis 'N****r', Frank 'F****t', At Capitol Hill Protest
Health bill protesters jeer at man with Parkinson’s disease
Dennis Hopper dying of prostate cancer
Alex Chilton dead in New Orleans

Planning my garden
Haircut and color
Baking up electronic files
Planning another Freezer Cooking Party
Playing Dragon Age: Origins
Playing Dragon Age: Awakenings
Playing Mass Effect
Playing Mass Effect 2
Roasting coffee

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Summer Recap

The last couple of months have been pretty active for me and I haven't really written about anything overly personal in months. Figure it's about time to mend that.

June was Pramas's 40th birthday. I threw him a party, saw a bunch of old friends and had a really nice time. The following week I went to Portland and camped out at an RV park in my mother's RV so Kate could attend Rock Band Camp for Girls. I videoed Kate's performance from the side of the stage but when I pulled it off the FLIP there was no sound (though there is sound if viewed on the camera) so I've got to figure out what's up with that so I can post the video of her band rockin' out. But I haven't yet.

In July I hosted a friend's 13-year-old son for a week. He's a total gamer and within minutes of his arrival he and Kate were talking Star Trek (or was it Star Wars?) and Xbox. We visited the EMP and the Sci-Fi Museum (which had a bonus Jim Henson exhibit going on), visited Starbucks (the kid likes mochas), stopped at Golden Age Collectibles, introduced him to sushi, and culminated with a visit to the Microsoft Game Studio. I tried to organize a visit to Wizards of the Coast but despite a bunch of advanced notice and call-outs to multiple people there we just weren't able to make that happen, but my friends at Microsoft more than made up for it with the tour they gave the kids of the Game Studio. Kate then went on a week-long trip to Hawaii with her dad and Pramas and I hunkered down to get some work done before GenCon.

My brother returned from his stint doing medical work in Haiti and suggested that we try to go up to Minnesota together to visit my grandpa (who turned 92 this year) with our dad. I was able to book my GenCon flight through Minneapolis to make this happen and it was a really lovely time. The weather was good, the rest of the family golfed (or followed along in a cart) and I got lots of walking in on the golf courses and great face time with the family. It also took my mind off the fact that Ropecon 2009 was going on. Instead I rolled into GenCon feeling as relaxed and happy as I've been in years. Where my brother and I really did not get along as children and I moved in with my dad in 10th grade while he continued to live with my mom, we've grown up and grown into a much happier relationship and I'm really enjoying knowing him as an adult after being either at odds or separated from each other for so many years. Valuable stuff.

August gave way to September and PAX here in Seattle. I attended again this year and reconnected with many good friends from the game industry that I don't get to see nearly enough of. I saw good friends who have moved away for computer jobs and pen-and-paper designers who otherwise don't have reason to visit Seattle. My most popular friends were hard or impossible to track down or only able to speak to us in passing and I left wishing the event had been a couple of days longer so I could have seen more but for me this year was totally about the people and largely not about the content of the event. Sadly, I was also one of the hundreds of people who caught the "PAXflu" and lost more than a week to laying around the house coughing, sniffling, and napping feverishly. I got over the worst of it just in time to head down to Portland to help my mom out as she underwent and recovered from nasal surgery. Even now I still have a very slight cough that pops up and it's been three weeks since the onset of my symptoms. Tomorrow I'll write up that trip in more detail.

That brings us to the beginning of Fall. Kate started back to school for her eighth grade year while I was down with the flu, her last year at Orca. Pramas and I will be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary in a couple of days, the bronze anniversary Google tells me. This weekend is the annual Green Ronin summit and the bulk of the boys will be arriving over the course of the day Thursday. The following weekend is the Diamond/Alliance open house in Baltimore which I'll be traveling to this year and by the time I finish that we'll be well into October and less than a month out from my 40th birthday. This is the year that FIVE of the Green Ronins turned 40 with me closing out the pack as the last of the year. It's also a year that has me feeling like a stone skipping across a pond, spinning along with an external momentum and only briefly coming into contact with the real "surface" of my life.

More later, for now I must sleep.

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Snapshot of my day

I'm not one who ever posts a summary of my Twitter activity as a substitute for a blog entry but I'm making an exception today because I think these give a pretty good snapshot of my day.

Chris is gone for the weekend, playing games at Enfilade in Olympia. The weather is supposed to be really outstanding this weekend so I hope to hang with Kate and get a lot accomplished on my yard and gardening projects while the sun shines. Also, barbecues!

Here's the snapshot of my day:

I have a family of Bewick's wrens living in my birdhouse. I think this is the first time it's been used instead of my laundry room vent. Yay (12:25pm Pacific)

http://twitpic.com/5pplv - Sunny day 'office'. (12:57pm Pacific)

A boy just walked past chanting/singing happily, "Yipee Yi Ay, mini sirloin burgers!" I can hear him fading into the sunny distance. (3:17pm Pacific)

Text message from my daughter: "Can I have a squirrel?" Uh... no. (3:25pm Pacific)

Kate and I grilled burgers, watched birds and talked anime. Next: movie night! (8:52pm Pacific)

Just overheard Kate telling my plan to eventually have her drums in the garage. "Then we could have a real garage band." (8:54pm Pacific)

Eavesdropping on teen phone call: "Awsome...awesome...that's,like, triply awesome...sounds awesome.... That would be totally awsome." (8:56pm Pacific)

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I spent a lot of time the other night reading up on the Gilded Age because I was thinking about writing up a political post. Found I don't quite have the stamina to wade into that right now.

Instead, Chris and I spent a Kate-free weekend at home. Because Zipcar has removed virtually all Zipcars south of I-90 and I was driving Kate up to her dad's,in honor of the rare sunny weather, I chose a fun little Mini Cooper car from a U District location. Chris met up with me when I returned the car and we had a nice walk and dinner out before heading home together.

Saturday the weather couldn't have been more different! Unfortunately arm and shoulder injury prevent me from doing many of the things I normally handle solo, so Chris had agreed to spend Saturday helping me get our yard in order before the HOA "make sure you're up to code" spring deadline this week. The day was rainy, cold, and windy and not at all good weather for handling our landscaping plan but it couldn't be helped and Pramas was such a good sport. He pushed heavy carts, ran the lawn mover and trimmer, carried heavy bags of mulch, pulled up old weed barrier fabric, and anything else I needed. We removed weeds and nuisance plants, laid new weed barrier, spread a bunch of bark. This morning I was able to remove my formerly beautiful trailing rosemary bush that died after the winter storms and trim back a few bushes and trees in the back yard before I ran out of time. Chris and I spent a couple of hours together, had a little brunch and then it was time to pick up Kate.

Despite my previously stated desire to go to Belize for my 40th birthday this year, in order to do that trip the way I would really want to do it we'd have to spend far more than I'm comfortable committing to this year. I talked it over with Chris today and we're going to spend our saved vacation money on putting in a proper patio and a barbecue so we can enjoy our house over the summer instead. Kate is only spending two weeks of her summer vacation (and not even consecutive weeks) with her dad this year and aside from Chris heading to Book Expo in a couple of weeks we personally have no convention travel booked until GenCon. I don't don't want to be all smarmy and say we're planning a "stay-cation" but that does seem to be how it's shaping up and I'm plenty happy with that. Belize can wait until I can do it the way I really want to do it.

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Where did April go?

Wow, I've definitely been AWOL on the blog front for the last several months but April has to be the worst blog month in my history of blogging!

I suppose it all started back in 2008. Many things popped up to cause me stress and anxiety last year. There were multiple family health problems and crises. There were challenges, irritations, and difficulties with the business that went beyond the sorts of things I've come to expect in my two decades of hobby game industry experience. Friends changed jobs, split up, and/or moved away which shook up every aspect of our lives from work to play. Even our game group was decimated and barely continues to lurch forward, zombie-like, with the two members who remain and like to at least come over fro dinner and drinks even if we can't agree on a game to play. Someone I thought I'd heard the last of over twenty years ago made a very unwelcome return to my life and stirred up a lot of horrific memories that I'd been perfectly content to leave deeply buried, untouched and unexamined. Even my food blogging all but stopped after my camera was stolen from Kate and we found our increased life expenses contracted our dining budget. 2008 was my year of withdrawal.

I thought I was starting to come out of it a little but then I looked at the calendar today and realized April has gone. The first week of April was Kate's spring break and I tried to spend a little extra time with her because I'm aware the days where she thinks it's fun to hang out with her old mom are probably numbered. The following week I took Kate to Sakura*Con here in Seattle while Chris flew the flag out at Norwescon, then as soon as that was over I flew out to Las Vegas for the GAMA Trade Show. Back to Seattle where I had to handle everything I didn't get to before I left, those things that came up while I was gone, and generally just catch up. In the midst of all this I finally got my painful arm problem diagnosed (combo of rotator cuff impingement and tendinitis, yay hooray) but the "try this for six weeks before we escalate to MRIs and surgery" therapy hasn't yielded any results at all for me so far and I am still in pain. Carrying a basket of laundry, twisting a tight lid off a jar, or even just vigorously chopping something for a recipe sets it off and that's meant that I've had to pull way back in both yoga and weight training, two things I was really enjoying and seeing good results from. Sadness. In much happier news, Kate was accepted to Rock Band Camp for Girls and I just need to figure out how exactly we're going to get there and where we're going to stay (as it's a day camp only) but she's one happy girl and we're all very proud of her.

Last weekend Kate and I visited the Portland area. I had plenty to do down there but wasn't sure we'd pull of the visit until the night before we left. I was able to get a deal on a hotel through Hotwire and a cheap last-minute rental car. We packed a lot in: visited with my doctor brother before he leaves for Haiti to do doctor things for the summer, stopped in on an old friend from my junior high/high school years, connected with one of The Moms and her daughter (a nationally ranked fencer who was competing in Portland over the weekend), and paid a short visit to my mother and her husband, the first time I've been down since he had a stroke a month ago.

Now April is nearly gone and here comes May. Tomorrow is the first Columbia City Farmer's Market. The days are longer again and it's about time to shake off this introspection and withdrawal, I think.

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Reclaiming My House

We're making some changes around the house.

Before the Green Ronin Summit I did some serious cleaning and reorganizing that will be ongoing through the fall and into the winter. We've gotten rid of a couple dozen boxes of old books, a few VHS tapes, and I'm seriously eyeing many of my CDs now that I've ripped them to MP3 (and backed them up to boot). Chris has been going through the office with an eye toward paring down our gigantic game collection, and Kate and I went through the books, toys, clothes and miscellaneous items of hers that were taking up the whole guest bathroom and making it unusable over the last couple of years. Yet more obsolete electronics were recycled, seven giant boxes of Styrofoam peanuts were donated to our local UPS store, and I managed a trip to the dump for things that were truly garbage as well.

I also moved and organized a lot of Green Ronin's files. Contracts that were spread out between multiple file boxes are now largely concentrated in a single filing cabinet and one file box and located in the upstairs office. We're now moving on to the next step of reclaiming our garage and possibly the attic as well. In an ideal situation I would like to install an attic ladder for both our house attic and the yet-to-be-finished garage attic. If we can significantly clear out the garage, I'd also like to insulate and finish the garage completely and turn it into a usable room. My mother's house has a converted garage that was a laundry room/family room with a carpet and a wood stove and a small area divided off to be a pantry/storage area with shelves and a chest freezer. In my fantasy, it could be a place where Chris could set up big minis games or where Kate could keep a drum kit.

Why yes, I do have a rich fantasy life, why do you ask?

Anyway, even if I don't accomplish everything I'd like to I do plan to move to separate the Green Ronin parts of the house more from the everyday life parts of the house. My daughter is going to be 13 in a couple of months and I'm all too aware that the time I get to spend with my family is precious and fleeting. I'm really, really trying to keep GR business out of my carved out "personal time" even as we're constantly under the gun to make up for lost time cost to us by flaking freelancers, or slow approvals, or incommunicado third parties, or whatever. I have a zillion things to handle for GR and I'm chipping away at them but that balance thing just has to happen for me to keep my sanity and not look back on my personal life with regrets.

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In Arizona

Sunday night I got a text message from my mother, saying that my grandma was in the hospital. Monday I got an update: my grandma had a 97% blockage in the left pulmonary artery and was facing three choices, none of them great. They could do nothing and she would have a massive heart attack at any time (hours, days, or months but more likely sooner than later). They could try to do a bypass, but the area of the blockage is particularly hard to bypass and grandma's other medical conditions made it highly unlikely she would survive that surgery without other serious complications (including risk of losing her leg or not making it through the surgery at all). They finally decided to put in a stent as the third option. There was up to a 25% chance that she wouldn't make it through this procedure, especially after she fell into a coma a few years ago after another procedure. I got this news at 7:00pm on Monday night and was on a plane by 9:00pm. I had to come.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a direct flight, or even a flight to somewhere like San Diego or Phoenix or Tucson. Instead I flew to LAX and drove the rest of the way to Yuma overnight so I could be by my grandma's bedside before she went in for her procedure. I made it in time to spend a good few hours with her before she went under and I'm really glad about that. She was so happy to see me, even as sick as she was.

She made it through the stent procedure alright and was more or less lucid, though in pain and very groggy, most of yesterday. Her husband, my mom and i took turns sitting in the room with her and keeping her company (or just being nearby). Before the procedure, there was talk of having her on a balloon pump for a few hours after the surgery, but that turned from 6 hours, to "until 6pm", to "overnight" and they finally did remove it late this morning. Unfortunately all this meant that my grandmother was very uncomfortable and has spent her time today almost completely sedated. She has several gruesome and painful hematomas. After removing the balloon pump today they had to apply hard pressure to the wound for over 2 hours to keep the wound from bleeding.

I have to leave tomorrow evening to get back to the LA area so I can make my Friday morning flight. I was really hoping that she would be in much better shape by the time I had to leave. When we left her tonight the nurses were saying she might still be looped on the drugs until "afternoon" tomorrow. At this point I'd really like to be able to say goodbye and have her remember that I was there. Seeing her in the condition she's been in, I also hope this is the last time she's in this situation. While I don't wish for her death in any way (and she's told me she's not ready to go... "I have to get better, I told that little boy [that would be the x-ray tech] in x-ray that I was going to come dance the tango with him!") I don't want her to suffer anymore, either from the symptoms from her failing body or from the effects of the interventions. This has been an emotionally draining trip, with some really good bonding moments for the family and a lot of stress and difficult feelings too. I hate uncertainty.

Even so, glad I came. I hope for better news tomorrow.

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It's Wednesday and I've crossed 22 things off my To Do list for the week. That's almost one whole legal page, which would be inspiring except that almost everything I've handled so far has been the easy stuff. It's going to be slower going now as I tackle the more time intensive items.

I ordered The Bank Job through Amazon Unbox almost a month ago and haven't watched it yet. Since it's a rental I have one month to watch it or it'll expire. I tried to watch it with Chris last night after a late dinner but Kate was still roaming around and all the nudity and deviant sex just wasn't appropriate so we had to bail on it (and by the time Kate went to bed I just didn't have it in me to start up again. Unfortunately, once you start watching an Unbox rental you have 24 hours to finish watching it before it automatically expires...and Chris is out tonight playing 40K. Looks like I will have to watch it alone and before Kate gets home. I'll probably park myself in front of the tv with my laptop and try to get some reports and stuff generated at the same time. Multitasking, woo.



Out from under

I think I'm out from under the worst of the sinus infection and getting my workload back under control. Just in time, of course, to jump back into the thick of things as Green Ronin is exhibiting at two shows over the same weekend! Steve and Hal are taking off for Origins in the east and Chris and I are handling the American Library Association show in the west. Plus I have to get Kate to her dad's in Canada and make sure she has everything she needs to practice and be ready for Rock Band Camp in July.

Today was making sure everything is settled for travel and the shows, plus we squeezed in dinner with Daniel Perez and his wife who are in Seattle for a little vacation. Then it was rushing back across town to try and make our yoga class. We tore into the parking lot just as our yoga instructor was giving up and getting into her car to go home! She was so nice and went back in and opened the studio for us. We were the only students who showed up tonight for the new Tues-Thurs night class. I was really itching to get back to the studio after taking a couple classes off to let my sinuses recover and would have been really disappointed to miss, so I'm really, really glad she was still there when we arrived.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll have a chance to write about something remotely interesting to anyone. Tonight, to bed!

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Game Night again

Our game night has been pretty sparse since Jess and Tim both moved to California within a month of each other. The last couple of weeks it's been down to just three of us getting together, four if we're lucky. Tonight it was three again.

Luckily for us Kate is getting to that age when we can play adult strategy games together and still all have fun. Tonight we played 3rd edition MagBlast. We've been MagBlast fans through all the editions. It's been a little jarring to go from the more 'serious' science fiction version of MagBlast to the most recent version with the Kovalic art and the more 'wacky family game' feel but we're still all on board. Kate was very excited to play as this is one of her favorite games ever. We had fun but had to gang up on and kill Kate once it got to be 11:00 since it's still a school night for her. Poor kid, someday she'll be able to stay up as late as she wants. Heh.

Ev's currently on a restricted diet as he tries to sort out some allergies and whatnot so I went to Metropolitan Market and just let myself be inspired by what was available. Between all members of the group we've got to be carb conscious and avoid wheat, soy, dairy, and seafood at the moment. I was going to make some of my favorite sesame noodles with shredded chicken with some rice noodles but remembered there was also soy in the dish and decided to look elsewhere for dinner. Instead I bought a bunch of Indian-inspired ingredients. I made a Sri Lankan eggplant curry from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian, some peppered cauliflower, some packaged Neera's Urad & Channa Dal (a hit, will definitely try again, along with others in this line), rice, Sharwood's papadums, and a round (or two) of tamarind martinis. Kate helped a lot with the food prep tonight, which was great! She helped with something in every dish and made several things largely on her own (including the cauliflower, the papadums, and the dal). She also made dessert, a rosewater and strawberry sorbet. Good meal!

Tomorrow Pramas is headed for Enfilade in Olympia. I have to get up for 6:30am yoga. Kate and I are staying home for a "girl's weekend" with Rosie (the World's Sweetest Pitbull [tm]). Monday we're having people over to play Descent. Next week looks to be busy as I continue to catch up from the Month of Travel ad prep for Book Expo. I fly out on Thursday!

Not too bad of a day, I'll say.

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Summery Weekend

Friday turned out to be such a beautiful day it was little surprise to me that Ray and Christine summoned the usual suspects to inaugurate Grilling Season at Chez Pominger. A little more surprising is that we all made it. I came straight from dropping Kate with her dad and wasn't even the last person to arrive. Grilling was done, gin and tonics were made, I even got to carry the fussy Miss Vivian around the block so she could cool down and decide that she really did want to sleep. Felt triumphant and as if I hadn't lost that baby touch (especially since I found handling someone else's baby much less intensely stressful than dealing with my own wailing infant from back in the day) but ruined the effect by trying to put the sleeping babe back into a reclined position in her carrier. All hell re-erupted that I dared try such a thing (just as it used to with Miss Kate... I never did master that) but I think J&J had a slight rest and Miss V and I got to know each other better. She reminds me A LOT of Kate as a baby: bright, curious, observant, a little intense, quite physically strong. It was a pleasure.

Saturday was busy. I wasted time playing some online games with friends the way some might do a crossword puzzle over breakfast or something. Then we hit a lunch date (and found, to our disappointment that Stellar Pizza opens later on the weekend than on weekdays...but that Calamity Jane's will step up as a substitute lunch place in a jam) and conducted a marathon podcasting session, and went to Marc's party a little late for good food, good sangria, good conversation, and some fun Rock Band action. I ended the night by MacGuyvering a fix to a CPAP problem that had been irritating Pramas. He confirmed this morning that my fix (involving an old velcro watch band and a large binder clip) may indeed have solved his issue. Fingers crossed for a repeat good performance tonight!

Today was a leisurely day, but still summery and nice. I slept late and played more online games (the only thing I use Facebook for) before squeezing in a little Green Ronin work and some minor household chores. It was beautiful again today, a little more comfortable temperature-wise, so I took the bunnies out to the back yard for an hour or two and watched them romp and dig and kick up their heels. Had a good laugh that Bonnie spent an hour digging a hole for herself to lay in only to lose it to Sammy, who threw himself down in it the moment her back was turned. There's something so fun about scampering bunnies.

Today I also confirmed for myself that I'm loving yoga. Georgetown Yoga is so awesome! I highly recommend it to all my Seattle peeps. Sandy's only been in this location since October and I'm so glad we decided to go there instead of going to Columbia City or elsewhere. It's a lovely space and she's a gentle, attentive, calm and lovely instructor. I find myself feeling great when I leave, even if I'm just doing beginner's stuff and thinking about improving my form and technique on the days I don't have classes. I look forward to going and think about whether or not I can fit in an extra day during the week... I figure that must be a good sign that I've picked the right fit for myself. Yay! I'm definitely going to miss going to the class while I'm traveling during convention season. Sundays I have an evening class, and I found it such a nice way to end the weekend.

Came home to find Kate watching Angel again. Thanks to re-runs, Angel seems to be Kate's equivilent of The Brady Bunch or Hogan's Heroes or I Love Lucy or the numerous other shows that I grew up seeing because they were on before or after school. Thanks to the generosity of a particular video hound we know, Kate now has a bag full of the early seasons of Buffy and the entire run of Angel so she can start watching from the beginning and learn Angel's full story. We watched a couple eps of Buffy tonight to get things rolling. I even busted out a little Laphroaig to toast the weekend out. It was that kind of summery, relaxing, enjoyable weekend. Nice!

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A Day in the Life

Kate's substitute bus driver failed to pick her up for the second day in a row and I had to drive her to school this morning. We were significantly late because I had a conference call scheduled for exactly when she should have been arriving at school to be on time.

Pramas and I drove together so we could talk over the conference call. We stopped at the Columbia City Bakery for americanos and baked goods. We also made a stop at the bank before heading to Queen Anne.

I stopped at Arvey for shipping supplies, where the older gentleman who works there was keyed up about something and kept muttering "Oh no, don't do this to me, no no no," and calling me "precious" and "sweetheart" and thanking me profusely for waiting. He's a nice old guy and I love going in there and letting him check me out so it was no trouble at all to wait patiently while he sorted out his morning crisis. I hope his day went better.

The afternoon was filled with mail orders and invoicing. I put together over 40 invoices today, and a couple of bins of mail.

Tonight was, in theory, game night. Only Evan could join us but I cooked anyway. We had an improvised white bean and chicken soup in homemade fennel broth that I whipped up in the pressure cooker. Adding chicken to the fennel broth adds a bit too much chicken flavor (and takes away from the subtle-but-luscious fennel flavor of the unadulterated broth) but everyone seemed to like it okay anyway.

We even busted out with Thurn und Taxis and got a whole game in. I'd never played before but I won the night's game so I guess I picked it up successfully. A couple glasses of wine, a little chocolate, some fresh strawberries, and a new board game on a warm spring night! Pretty successful if you ask me.

Tomorrow we have doctor appointments to attend, plus I'm intending to get up for 6:30am yoga. I also have to drive Kate up to drop her off for the weekend with her dad. We have a busy weekend planned. Here's hoping I feel up to everything.

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Topsy Turvy World

Today it was 52 and raining. Friday they're predicting record highs, 89-90 degrees. The teachers at my daughter's school briefed them on "appropriate dress" which included lots of warnings about tank tops, muscle shirts, and shorts that are "too short" (more than one inch above the knee). Yow.

Meanwhile a friend of mine was telling me about a situation that had cropped up with a foreign exchange student that is staying with her. This nice German boy was called into the principle's office because a girl had complained about him. He had tapped her on the shoulder (to get her attention, as people do) and this apparently violates some "no touching EVER" rules at the school. I was stunned that there are such rules. I know schools have rules against fighting, and rules against "sexual" contact (including boys and girls holding hands in the hall) but NO touching, EVER? Yep, and not only at that school but all over the country. Another mom I know then told me that her 12-year-old son was warned that he'd be sent to the office because he and his friend high-fived about something. NO HIGH FIVES! NO tapping someone on the shoulder to get their attention. No showing legs, arms, collarbones, or wearing clothes appropriate to the heat on a record-breaking hot day.

What the hell?

I find myself looking around at this kind of thing and feeling sick and fatigued by it all. Is it possible to find myself one of those exclusive communities made of people who hare MY beliefs and aren't, uh, C-R-A-Z-Y? Somewhere where the future doesn't look like Cory Doctorow's Little Brother and the Prison Industrial Complex isn't eagerly rolling out new and better ways to tase us, bro?

Probably should just keep this sort of stuff to myself these days but hey, I haven't been blogging much lately so it was either this little rant or another day of no content.

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Holy Cow

I just looked at my Friday and then at my Saturday. This is definitely not going to be a restful weekend!

Friday morning I have my first morning yoga class: 6:30am. Not all of the classes are going to be that early but Fridays are early. Then it's back to the house, where I have to help Kate transport her gigantic Brooklyn Bridge project to school. Lunch I believe I have a lunch date, though times haven't been confirmed. After school Kate is bringing home three friends for an overnight party, a make-up party since she never gets to have people over for her December birthday because of holiday conflicts. The girls will be staying until Saturday morning and I've promised Kate they can make their own personal pizzas, watch movies, and play Rock Band in the time they have.

Saturday after the girls leave for home I'd planned to take Kate to Bikeworks' 12th Annual Bike Swap to see if we can get rid of her small bike for a bigger bike that actually fits her. She's grown a ton since we got that old bike for her. Saturday is also Emerald City Comic Con.

Also confirmed today that I will be heading down to LA on the 29th for Book Expo. I guess I'm going to remain busy after all...



What the heck is up with Nikchick anyway?

Wow, I've had so much going on that I can bring myself to Twitter a little, or take a break for some mindless Facebook game or other but I haven't had the time or energy to get back to blogging. Sorry about the sporadic content, I hope to get back in the swing of things soon!

What have I been doing in the meantime? Well, Pramas already posted a bit about a couple of failed culinary excursions. I've done a little cooking but not as much as I would like to be doing. Did make some fine goat riblets for game night dinner the other night but Chris and I were the only takers willing to try them. I may have to stick to things a little less adventurous for what remains of our game group. When I get back into the swing, I'll get back to posting more recipes and food photos.

Things are busy at work as always. I'm thinking of going back on my vow to stay home until June and try to fit in a trip to Book Expo at the end of the month. Still waiting to see if that's going to be necessary. This week continues to have me playing catch-up, with the weekend promising Emerald City Comic Con followed by the Ion Conference next week. Even where we're not actually involved in the shows there are people coming to town with whom we want to meet.

On the home front I'm trying to get caught up on chores, new and old. Last week I replaced both the squealing shower head in the master bathroom and our completely dead garbage disposal. I've also scoured the house for things to give to my regular charity (Community Services for the Blind") which is doing spring collections. I'm also trying to balance a couple of new medications that are not necessarily going to play nicely together. Fingers crossed on that one as I'm fully ready to stabilize on the prescriptions thing.

As if I'm not busy enough I'm also signing up for some yoga classes because I need to find a regular activity that gives me both some physical challenge and some scheduled "me" time where I can force myself to let go of a lot of the distractions, stress, and isolation that come with my job and my life in general. There's always something else to sign up for, some committee at Kate's school that needs something, some committee or crisis with the Neighborhood Association or the Homeowners' Association, some work that I "should" be attending. While I don't need to be quite as busy as I was in April, I do need to make time for social outings with friends and, more importantly, I need to take time for myself that doesn't involve me doing for others. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Mother Theresa, out in the world constantly doing deeds... but I too often let myself slip into Nik Does It All mode, taking care of friends and family and coworkers and customers before I take care of myself. That shit wears a person down.

Plowing forward, trying to get back to blogging a bit at least.



Preparing for silence

Had a lovely, somewhat impromptu weekend away with Pramas last weekend. He picked the restaurants and we had a great time while Kate visited her dad. He's already blogged about the food and our brush with Mark Dacascos (aka Chairman on Iron Chef America). I have photos but haven't had time to get them up. I'm taking a trip next week and I have a gruesome list of things that need to be taken care of before then. When I get back I turn around again two days later and head to New York for Kate's class trip. Yow.

Last night we went to see Girls Rock! and Kate is now absolutely dying to go to one of these camps and learn to play the drums with other girls. No chance of going to the camp in Portland this year but there's supposedly a Seattle camp forming, though I can't find any information about it. The movie was great and I highly recommend it, especially if you have daughters but even if you don't. Funny, poignant, engaging, inspirational.

I expect that I won't have much time to blog for the next couple of weeks, what with the travel and so on. I don't know if I will be computer-enabled next week, but I doubt it. Possibly more likely to be on the web in New York but only marginally.

And with that, I'm back to work. Game night tonight and I'm cooking to boot.




My friend's little nephew succumbed to leukemia earlier this year after quite a fight. More than once she broke the news to us that it didn't look good for little Heiko and we set about to praying or meditating or wishing well across the miles in the hope that things would turn out differently. We followed along when there was anything to report and cheered when Heiko went through two miraculous, if short-lived, recoveries. Las Friday Heiko's father's tribute to his son appeared in The Globe and Mail. I'm reposting it here because it's such a vivid and loving testament to their son.

Son, brother, nephew, grandson, dragon-slayer, preschooler, beloved little friend. Born April 26, 2003, in Toronto. Died Jan. 3 in Toronto of acute myeloid leukemia, aged 4.


March 14, 2008

We almost lost Heiko last May. Over the course of one weekend he went from being an ordinary four-year-old to a leukemia patient on life support.

Again in July we were told he might only have hours to live, ravaged by a brain infection brought on by chemotherapy. All we wanted was to see him conscious and aware of us.

Our prayers were answered; we were lavished with almost four more good months. Heiko regained most of his strength and spirit. We went for fall walks and bike rides, played at the wooden castle in High Park, and when snow came went tobogganing and skating. He learned to switch from his left hand to his right because of brain damage, and soon resumed his magical drawings and kindergarten letters.

He was a real boy, with a boyish love of pirates, spaceships, knights in shining armour and dragons. Yet he had a gentleness more characteristic of a younger child. For Halloween, friends donated Batman and Spider-Man costumes, but he insisted on being a bunny. "I don't want to be scary," he said.

Heiko loved details. When I read him stories written for older children and paraphrased the more complicated parts, he gently corrected me and filled in the missing words from memory.

He loved fairness. When someone won a bingo game, he would not allow us to stop playing until everyone had won and all the spaces were filled in.

When his strength returned, so did his pranks. Putting on his pyjamas always meant chases around the house confronting imaginary barriers for which we had to learn secret passwords. He loved hide-and-seek. Sometimes my car keys would turn up in his pockets. Or he might pull off my slippers and I would find them days later in a random drawer.

The only time sadness welled up for him was when he saw old friends. It pained him to see them run and play so effortlessly while he had to relearn how to hold a crayon, climb stairs and walk.

If Heiko struggled with his illness he never talked about it. Instead, we sometimes got the feeling he was more concerned about us; he would cover up his sores, tell jokes if we looked at him with concern, and as a last resort try to tickle us out of our seriousness.

There may have been moments of prescience. Once he told us, "You will have to get another Heiko." He knew we would miss him grievously and felt sad for us.

We will never have another Heiko. So soon after celebrating Christmas, a time of hope and new birth, we and his older brother Langton turned to grieving the death of our child, our star of wonder.

Even as a distant bystander to the family's ordeal, I was very sad to hear of Heiko's death. I've been reflecting on how very fortunate I have been: my family is intact, we have our health, we are reasonably secure, we live in a beautiful city, in a safe and healthy home, with food and clothes and belongings that would not be considered extravagant in American terms but are a wealth of riches and luxury when contrasted with much of the world. Yeah, I have my share of problems and stresses but I can only hope I'm fortunate enough to keep my own troubles and continue the relatively smooth sailing I've enjoyed up to now. I am afraid to face the depth of grief something like the death of a child or a spouse.

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No, this isn't a post about Gary Gygax.

Sorry to be so selfish but this one is all about me.

I have very few close friends who have known me for any length of time in my life. I spent my childhood moving around, city to city, school to school. Even in my adult life, I spent a few years in Georgia, a couple years back in Minnesota, a few years in Vancouver and so forth. Seattle's been the place I've sunk my roots for the longest ever and that's a mere 10 years.

This is not to say that I haven't had friends in all the places I've lived, just that when I moved away from wherever it was I inevitably lost touch with people. My best friend in Georgia got divorced and moved away to start over, which included losing touch with me. The guy who was my best friend in Minnesota fell in love, moved away, and we lost touch. In Vancouver, Nigel Findley was the guy who held our group together and when he died and I moved away I lost touch with many of those guys. Life happens.

Life is happening again. In the last several years, many of my game industry friends have ended up moving away. One of the guys who stood up as a witness for my wedding fell in love, moved away, and I think we received a Christmas card once... others have gotten jobs and moved to distant lands (England, Canada, far southern California). I was gutted when Foxbat left us for a job. Codrus is taking some interviews soon and it's all too likely that he'll be leaving us as well.

Today I heard some really devastating news, though. News I predicted a few weeks ago and then Pramas convinced me that I was being overly pessimistic so I decided to be all cool about it. But no. My gut doesn't steer me wrong on these things. I was accursedly correct and our number will be diminished yet again. I have three or four people I refer to when talking about "my oldest, dearest friends" and I'm losing another one. Even having predicted it, I definitely, selfishly, did not want this to happen. I am torn up over this one, wrenched, heartsick. I will be the good friend, I will support my dear friend in his endeavors, but I am very, very unhappy and feeling very sorry for myself right now.

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A sliver of my day

Today was like driving the wrong way down a one-way street. Or rather, I was headed in the right direction but inexplicably everyone around me was going the wrong way. The world outside my house is in retrograde!

I tried to go to the post office this afternoon. For some reason it was a complete zoo. Bumper to bumper cars in both directions trying to turn into the parking lot, people going the wrong way into parking spots, utter craziness. Upon seeing the state of the parking lot and the line snaking through the building and past the door, I gave up and decided to try again tomorrow and it still took me ten minutes to exit the lot and get back out onto the street (and that's after deciding to turn in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go because it would be faster). Replay of a similar scenario at UPS, the bank, and the grocery store!

My favorite Bizarro-World moment of the day, though, had to be the one where I was trying to figure out if a medical supply company was covered by our insurance. I went to the insurance website. No love. Having had this same problem finding my primary care physician (who is a "Preferred Provider" and is in their system) I called customer service who gave me a couple "tricks" for finding info on the website (most of which I was doing already) and they couldn't find anything either. Bummed, because this place would be very convenient, I did see that Swedish Medical Center as a whole was listed, along with a DBA name for a medical equipment provider, though not the one I was looking for. Deciding this was an okay second choice, I called the number... and heard "Hello, [Company Name You Were Looking For All Along]" which was a pleasant, if somewhat baffling surprise. I let the woman know they aren't actually listed by that name or the DBA name, but as "Swedish Medical Center" which had caused some confusion. She laughed, "Oh, I know, we should be listed as..." and rattled off a third name. I suspect this will not be the end of the road for this case of insurance confusion and Bizarro-land but for now I'm willing to go with it.

And, where I thought I might make it through the week with no doctor's appointments, it looks like I was wrong. Appointments on Wednesday and Friday this week after all. Then Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week. Third week of March looks clear for the moment, though... at least for now. Hopefully the world outside of my house will be through retrograde by then!

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Food Blogging

I'm desperately behind on updating my recipe pages because I'm also desperately behind on a bunch of stuff that is way more important. Still, I'm continuing to try new things. Earlier this week I made seared sea scallops with a side of the tabbouleh we made at Ray's and some broiled fennel with Parmesan and lime which was simple and really, really good. Last night it was shrimp and papaya salad over spinach (from Pacific Flavors) and tonight it was leftover salad plus a curry udon pot (from Super Natural Cooking). The udon pot was really quick to make and pretty delicious, though Kate objected because it contained flavor. She prefers her udon in an artificial chicken flavored salty broth. Will be eating that for lunch this week. Yum!

One of these days I'll get the recipes (and my various modifications) posted. Right now I'm struggling with some new medications that are knocking me for a loop, cutting into my already tight schedule. I absolutely had to take a nap this afternoon because I was so devastatingly tired, a side effect from the new medication that I started yesterday. On the good side, I got some much-needed sleep. On the bad side, I awoke feeling groggy and I lost two hours in the middle of the day where I'd hoped to be productive.

Kate's class play is over at least. Now it's just the distraction of getting her class trip to New York sorted out. The teacher swears he'll get me their itinerary tomorrow. As we leave in less than 30 days, I'm increasingly anxious about not having the details in place. I finally just had to make my own plane reservations because I couldn't stand not having that part sorted out less than 5 weeks from the travel day. Luckily I got a really good rate for us so it won't be any more expensive than flying with the group (and probably less).

Fingers crossed that I can make some progress on things this week without too many distractions, crises, doctor appointments or general wackiness.

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My Rhy-Husband

This has been a little joke around our house since Green Ronin published Blue Rose. Pramas and I are in tune in a funny way. It's not uncommon for us to say the same thing at the same time, or to independently think of something and act on it (sending an e-mail to the same person to ask them the same question). The "rhy-husband" crack was made by GR Webmaster extraordinare SassyRonin after one too many times of getting duplicate requests... he knows the score.

Today we had another one of these moments. Completely independently, on opposite ends of the city we each went into different grocery stores and left with something neither of us had bought before: Greek Gods Greek Yogurt.

We each tried this yogurt for a snack this afternoon and I brought a couple extra cartons home. After dinner tonight I brought out a carton of the fig flavored yogurt, knowing I just had to share it with my sweetie, which is when the story was revealed.

We're a pair, a team. We know each other so well... I love it every time this happens. Just love it.



Weekend Seattle-stylee

Pramas arrived back home on Friday early enough that we were able to attend Michelle's birthday. Enjoyed reconnecting with Jason Carl and meeting Michelle's other friends, had good food at Columbia City Ale House and a riotous good time at the Columbia City Cabaret (though it really made me homesick for the Can Can and their current Castaways... Miss Indigo Blue rules the night but my heart belongs to Fuchsia Foxxx when it comes to gothy belly dancers and the Can Can's Jonny Boy can't be beat in his Juan Carlos guise or any other). I may have to organize a field trip to the Can Can again.

Saturday was a lovely, loungy day with my sweetie, a modified and much needed Bed Day. We did manage to make ourselves presentable and venture out into the false-spring weather for a little barbecuing followed by Rock Band with Ray and Christine. (They even let me play bass on a couple of Rush songs and Molly Hatchet!) I left with a pointer for a really great kefte and a recipe for some darn good tabbouleh, and Chris busted out his homemade hummus. We started things early enough in the day that we were able to pack in several hours of fun and still leave for home before midnight.

Today was less fun. I slept poorly for the first time in a while, despite taking a sleeping pill and spent the day feeling on the edge of unwell. I had to drive up to get Kate much earlier than usual (her dad's headed out for business tonight) so I had barely enough time to run down to the Hangar Cafe for breakfast. That was a bad plan, as it turns out. We were at the Hangar for an hour and a half and only had our breakfast in front of us for the last ten minutes or so. I ended up having to take half of my crepe home because I no longer had time to finish it. During that time we managed to flag the waitress for a single coffee refill. Lame. Note to self: stick to weekdays for breakfast. I was thinking of trying Squid and Ink for some vegan breakfast in the future but reviews on yelp are pretty unforgiving.

Tonight I tried the Green Stir Fry from Super Natural Cooking (spinach, asparagus, green onion, lime, ginger, garlic, tofu and a little hoisin sauce) over brown rice. I think my "juice of one lime" was from too big a lime because it was a bit too limey for me this time but it's certainly fast and easy in addition to being healthy. I'll give it another go sometime. I played a little Mass Effect but I'm not sure how I feel about the game yet. Too shooty for me, too much exposition about "new" races that frankly would be much more interesting if it could just be about Star Wars, and I'm afraid the plots that seem to be afoot are going to be disappointingly obvious through the rest of the game if what's been dangled in front of me so far is anything to go by. Reserving judgment the time being but I'm not as engaged yet as I'd hoped to be.

Tomorrow starts the week of constant appointments. Ug. Here's hoping I can at least get a little better sleep tonight if nothing else.



Things for Today

Chris is home. This makes my heart sing. I love my husband.

I caught up on a lot of things this week. I know there are people who are still waiting for things from me, who are pissed off because I haven't answered their e-mails or sent them their Character Folios or whatever. I'm doing what I can do and I did a lot this week, but I'm not "all there" yet.

My fucking computer problems aren't yet resolved. I haven't been able to make the Vista machine work, haven't been able to "roll back" to XP on the new computer yet, haven't gotten the new Office, haven't been able to get Sharepoint to be fully functional, had to manually re-enter the information for every single solitary damn freelancer we used all year so that 1099s could be generated (*after* I went back to using my "locks up and fails randomly" machine since the Vista machine can't print), blah blah, yadda yadda. People are pissed at me for various things that seem like they should be simple to resolve but they have no idea. (People also seem to think I have "minions" or a "customer service department" or an "IT department". Should I laugh or cry? Dunno.)

Outside of work there are other things stressing me the hell out. Without getting into specifics, I'll just hold up my schedule next week as an example of my life and preoccupation lately: next week the family has two doctor's appointments on Monday, one on Tuesday, one on Wednesday (plus a bonus meeting of the cluster-fuck committee for my daughter's 6th grade trip to New York City), and Chris's overnight CPAP study Thursday night and Friday morning. I don't really want to get into it except to say that I have a hell of a lot on my mind lately in the personal realm.

Thankfully, tonight was Michelle's birthday celebration and I can't speak for anyone else but I had a marvelous time. Good food, good company, excellent entertainment. Only at one point in the night did my cohorts threaten to cut me off (and that was totally unfair, burlesque demands people yell out!) and Michelle at least didn't seem offended by my shenanigans.

Which reminds me: Chris is home. This makes my heart sing. I love my husband. I go to join him now instead of sitting at the computer like a dope.



Work and Play

Pramas and I tried to go to the movies this weekend but apparently so did every other person in Seattle. Juno sold out as we were in line for tickets and there was nothing else to jump into right at that moment so we headed over to Can Can for a bit. I thought I was getting in nice and early, which I would have been if they hadn't started doing an early show on the weekends! Instead of getting in early we arrived halfway through the early performance, were told it was standing room only, and found that they've also added a curtain that blocks the view from the bar... though you still have to pay the $10 cover. Well, I thought we'd stay through and catch the later show so I didn't worry too much and we just grabbed a table in the bar, occasionally peeking around the corner to see what was happening as the various acts took the stage. That plan was shot, however, as we stayed right up until "showtime" only to have the hostess chick come over to say that there was not going to be a late show because they hadn't drawn in enough of a crowd... but they would really like us to stay and drink because they're open until 2am. Um. No. I was done. We stopped off at Stellar Pizza on the way home and had a snack and a drink and called it a night.

Yesterday we got off to a lazy start but I took the opportunity to hit the Hangar Cafe with Pramas for brunch. Kate's with her dad for the first time in a month so I wanted to have as much alone time with my sweetie as I could manage and we have few chances to hit the Hangar Cafe during its Breakfast/Lunch schedule. I had a great crepe the kept me filled up for a good six hours, it was awesome. The rest of the day was lazy puttering (putting away Christmas stuff mostly).

Today I had a meeting with Evan at his house to formulate a plan for Green Ronin's new Sharepoint server. I also got a present from Zoey (and family) of an awesome new coffee grinder (my old one is older than my kid and isn't that great). Zoey was very happy to hear that I have a birthday present for her and not as happy to hear that I hadn't brought it with me because I'm saving it for her birthday. In addition to working out some general Sharepoint stuff I also got to hold a chubby happy baby, play the most hilarious game of hide and seek ever, read a book to the kids, help Zoey draw a clown, and have some apple cake (a recipe from Super Natural Cooking, another winner I think). I almost drove away and left my wallet on the table, which would have been bad as I had to stop for gas on the way home but Evan saved the day.

Tonight I satisfied my craving for queso dip (which had been relentless for a full 24 hours... too much to be ignored) and watched the first episode of the new season of The Wire. Over all my weekend was a heck of a lot more play than work and pretty much what I needed. I could use one more day of sleep but that's probably getting greedy.



Scarring my child

Kate was supposed to be in bed already. She's been dawdling and trying to draw bedtime out longer and longer... and it heading into that stereotypical teenager biorhythm (which accentuates her natural-born night-owl tendencies).

I chided her (again) about going to bed and getting enough rest and secretly counted myself lucky that I was able to browbeat her into finally taking a shower. (The spontaneous desire to take a shower just for the love of being clean thing hasn't kicked in yet.)

Reading my e-mail I see I've received an update from Patty Murray about Washington flood relief. "Oh, those poor flood victims," I say to Chris, "Did you hear about the farmers who couldn't save their cattle because the waters came up so fast? They had to listen to the cows bellowing and crying and they couldn't do anything."

A moan from the other room, where Kate was lingering instead of heading to bed as requested. "MOM! Stop telling these sad stories!"

I don't spend a lot of time dwelling on ghoulish news stories, I really don't! But through circumstance, over the last couple of weeks Kate has managed to hear a series of horrific stories from me. The sick child whose miniature horse (through Make A Wish) was killed by pit bulls, a missing girl (former piano student of a friend) first missing, then found but unable to move her legs and still in hospital, then topped off by the drowning cows. Poor Kate couldn't take it.

"Well, you should be in bed anyway," I offered.

Seriously, though, I'm the sap who gets teary-eyed over the Mr. Whipple Tribute Commercial or those coffee commercials where the son comes home for Christmas and makes coffee. I'm a HUGE sap and generally disinclined to dwell on horrible stories. Hell, I flat out cried watching the footage of the fall of Saigon during some history channel show Chris and Kate were watching, thirty-two years after the fact. It's unusual for me to even be aware of a string of horrible stories, let alone be reciting them. Kate has just had unfortunate luck in being around at all the wrong times recently!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm sure it will be cold comfort when it comes time for the therapy bills...

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Day of ups and downs

Solved a nagging distribution error. Yay!
Still no progress on several other fronts. Boo hoo!
Made a batch of really good sweet/spicy pecans (2 minutes to mix while I nuked something for lunch, 25 minutes to bake) Yay!
Took Kate to Queen Anne for "holiday Magic" but it was a bust (aimed at small kids and way crowded) Boo.
Picked Chris up, since I was on Queen Anne anyway. Yay.
Couldn't get seated without reservations at several places. Boo
Found a sweet, free parking spot. Yay!
Walked all over creation looking for anywhere to eat. Boo.
Was able to get a seat at Jalisco. (Yay for Tortilla soup!)
Walked all over looking for Vera Project because of bad directions. Brrrr.
Took the family to the Speaker Speaker show. Yay!!
I was, without a doubt, the oldest person there. Boo, hiss.
Speaker Speaker rocked out. Double yay!
I got to meet Danny in person after corresponding with him online for ages. Yay!
We walked straight back to the car, which was mere blocks away and hadn't been towed. YAY!
Sleep in my warm bed and no getting up early tomorrow. Hooray!

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Kate is home!

Very glad to have things back to normal.

Pramas is out at Wargame Wednesday with Rick so it was a girl's night out tonight. After making the usual rush-hour "enhanced" drive I'm rarely in any shape to cook when I get home. I convinced Kate to get wacky and go out to dinner with me at somewhere unusual. We finally tried Kallaloo instead of resorting to pizza or some other off-the-bat Kate-friendly location. WOW! Loved it. Kate was not so keen on it, mostly because it was all unfamiliar stuff (she sniffed suspiciously at the fried plantains but liked the macaroni pie because it was essentially a block of baked macaroni and cheese) but I found it all quite excellent. I had the Barbados oven fried chicken which came with a side of macaroni pie and callaloo (think creamed spinach with a stronger, almost artichoke-like note to the greens). Pramas would have liked the chicken. Next time, I'm definitely in to try some goat and I hope they have the stuffed plantains (which they were out of tonight) because those sounded excellent. Topped off with a nice strong ginger beer and I was full and happy.

We're a week away from Kate's birthday and the Festival of Children (on the same night). Kate is performing in the Festival of Children with her dance and cheer squad (who I'm told "don't have any idea what they're doing") and singing with her friend Gloria (they only found out last week that they made it and haven't had a chance to practice together at all since). Somewhere in there we have to have an actual birthday celebration for the girl. I haven't even started to think about how we're pulling that off yet.

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Kate is still in BC. I drive to pick her up tomorrow. Weather should no longer be an impediment.

My mom called my cell phone tonight and scared the crap out of me because she never calls unless there's some horrible news (or it's my birthday... whether that's horrible news or not varies from year to year). She was just calling to check on us because of all the news reports about the weather. Weather where she is has been bad but she's personally safe and sound.

Chris and I ate out tonight at the "Steelhead Diner. The beet tartare (yes, BEET not BEEF) was outstanding and the porcini linguine was a great match to the Jigsaw Pinot Noir the waiter recommended. Chris said his chicken sandwich was also quite good. Even though it's the Market (and therefore touristy and rather expensive) I would go back. In fact, I look forward to it.

We then caught a show at the Showbox SODO (formerly the "new" location of the Phoenix Underground which itself was formerly of Pioneer Square) and saw Flogging Molly, who put on an excellent show. We missed hearing who the other opening Celtic-punk band was (they of the wild-haired accordion player). In between Celtic-punk bands we heard Murder by Death whose Wikipedia entry claims they play "an eclectic range of music, from eight minute ethereal instrumentals, to driving punk rock, to alt-country" but at this show they played everything in one dirge-like down-tempo "Morphine with all the goodness stripped away" manner. I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for a couple of songs but by the end I was answering e-mail on my cell phone and begging for it to end. I wanted to like them, to be charitable, but I just couldn't. What downers Murder by Death were! They claimed they were going to "shred" for one of their songs but it could only be considered shredding if by "shred" you mean "beat to death in slow motion under water". As Chris quipped, "I've seen cheese 'shred' faster." Well, anyway, the Mollies put on a good show to an enthusiastic and packed house. I'd never been to Showbox SODO before... it seems a little too classy for punk shows but I enjoyed the venue (and 2/3 of the bands) just fine.

I was going to stay up late upon returning home to sort out some nagging issues for the company that aren't related to the ongoing utter hell I've been living with regard to Miva, Quickbooks, 6000 individual customer entries, several hundred SKUs and 8000 individual orders that need my personal attention in two separate virtual locations in order to be at peace with the world. I've tried very hard to maintain the separation between the "work day" and my private life, which is so, so hard to do when I'm "at work" virtually every waking hour (and doing stupid things like checking my e-mail on my cell phone when I'm supposedly "off" work). No exaggeration, I could work for Green Ronin every waking hour, every single waking hour, and still not get everything done that I "need" to get done... especially when dealing with things like this stupid web store break down or delinquent distributor accounts or products being listed as "unavailable" with Amazon when they're in print and in stock (and have been for months or years in some cases or...or...or...

I'd better stop now before I do or say something I'm going to regret. Tomorrow will come soon enough and I can always work myself to death then. Tonight, for what's left of it, I will try to sleep and maybe not wake up ridiculously early in the morning with fucking stress dreams. It hasn't worked terribly well so far but hey, one can hope.

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Long day.

Kate had a dental appointment this morning. I was out of the house with no coffee and definitely not looking forward to the dentist. Even thought Kate's great pediatric dentist is the sweetest dentist I've ever met, my dental phobia runs deep and into direct conflict with my love of Kate and my parental responsibilities. The good news was that Kate had no new cavities, which (after the four silver crowns from a few years ago was a real relief. The bad news was that she needed a tooth extracted to prevent one of her permanent teeth from continuing to come in through the side of her jaw. Way better in the long run but a bit sad and scary for Kate at the time. And me, in the middle, trying to balance the mom with the screaming fear in the back of my head.

We both made it through and Kate was happily munching away on mini rice cakes while we played Clue tonight, so I think she's recovered.

After the dental trauma and a nice lunch, we also squeezed in a parent-teacher conference (Kate's currently top of the class in math, doing really well in her classes but struggling with organization and we need to put in extra work on spelling and "writing conventions" with her because she's not going to get any additional help with that stuff at school) got the PIF in for an emissions test and title transfer.

We ordered in for dinner, played Clue, marveled at the hailstorm (got up to covering the street in pea-sized hail, which is pretty good for around here), watched Sammy charge around the living room and up and down the stairs... ah, even Pramas can't resist the appeal of a joyful bunny.

Tomorrow: more progress.




It's been an exhausting and action packed week around here!

Last Friday was the birthday extravaganza and all that I've already shared about that.

Saturday Kate and I shopped IKEA and started on the revamp of her room. Since then I've put together a new dresser, a new computer desk and one of two sets of shelves. We've gone through all of her clothes, sorting into piles for donations and keeps. I relocated her computer set-up, removed the closet doors from one side of her double-wide closet, mounted a light fixture on the wall and helped her organize several large boxes of random crap into the categories of junk, donations, and keeps.

Sunday Chris surprised me with brunch at Serafina. The owner recognized me (from having brought the Green Ronin staff in during the summit), welcomed me back and sent out my dessert item with a birthday candle in it. Awww.

This work week has been intense, as I was able to get Miva Synchro working (thanks to the dedicated brainstorming of Steve P.) just in time for our new merchant service account to demand attention. Argh. If it's not one thing, it's another... but I've seriously spent weeks chasing down these problems and at this rate I'll be lucky to have it sorted before Thanksgiving.

I've also taken possession of my new couch, found a home for the old couch (by the skin of my teeth), successfully Freecycled Kate's old dresser, and spent several days dealing with Whirlpool, which culminated today in FINALLY receiving my new washer! It's installed and functional and everything. (I was beginning to think I'd never see the day.)

In the midst of all this, the family managed to sneak out for a night and have dinner with John and Jenny, see their palatial new retro-pad, witness for ourselves the progress of their latest project. They surprised me with an abundance of birthday cupcakes, a book I've been wanting to read, and, joy of joys, the key to the car we've been referring to as the Pay It Forward car.

Tomorrow I have to squeeze in a call to Payquake about our converted Miva account before meeting Michelle for lunch (postponed from my birthday) and then take Kate up to her dad's for the weekend. Saturday my old couch is scheduled to be picked up (and thankfully removed from my kitchen!). Sunday it's retrieve Kate. Monday it's a dentist appointment for Kate that I'm trying not to freak out about and parent/teacher conferences in the afternoon.

Tonight I'm treating myself to some red wine and pork ragu over pasta. This week has produced the solution to two big problems, a couch, a car, and (FINALLY!) a washing machine. Whew!

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Deliveries: the continuing saga

Kudos to Macy's! They gave me the date for my delivery up front. They called with the time the day before, just like they said they would.The delivery guys arrived on time and had my couch unloaded, in the house, and set up in 10 minutes. No fuss, no trouble. It's exactly
what I wanted, where I wanted, and when I wanted. Even made in theUSA. Yay Macy's!

I flip the double bird to Whirlpool, though! After giving me the wrong date originally and then standing me up and making me wait anotherweek, scheduling me for delivery yesterday in a time slot that I couldn't accept, after offering me the 3-7pm time slot tonight... they showed up! On time! I met the two guys at the door and suggested that they might have an easier time of it if they pulled around back and happily said that yes, this was going to work great... they took my
washer off the truck, unwrapped it and IT WAS DAMAGED. They couldn'tdeliver it after all because it was dented in in the back! OMG, can you believe this?!

The guy was very cautious with me when breaking the news. I don't know if he expected me to go ballistic or what. I'm pretty sure all the people at the local delivery center know my name by now. I shocked him because I just started laughing. I couldn't help it... it's gotten SO ridiculous at this point. He promised me that he would get back to the person at the office and they'd get something worked out for me, yadda yadda. And, to his credit, he seems to have called her right away because I just got a call from a very dour woman who also clearly expected to be read the riot act or something, too. She is going to "get the order to drop first thing" with the ordering people in Memphis so that they can have a washer for me tomorrow, somehow, and "if we have to have someone bring it by in a pick up truck, that's what we'll do." So they say.

Meanwhile, Steve at Miva Merchant continues to get high, high marks for customer service. After three weeks of chipping away at my Miva Synchro problem tonight marked what appears to be the end of the ordeal. I've successfully synched the 8000 orders that couldn't synch before, I've also updated all outstanding customer and product information. They've also gotten our conversion to the new payment processor set up. I just have to familiarize myself with all the bells and whistles. Tomorrow I can begin the long-delayed "step two" of my "fix the Internet" plan...bwah ha ha ha ha.

Now I'm going to open a bottle of wine, zap my new Nature Creation shoulder wrap in the microwave for a minute, and snuggle down on my new couch to watch some TiVo.

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Sunshine, blue skies, and the stars are right

After yesterday's fiasco of nothing going right, today is quite the opposite!

Three weeks into a labyrinthine tech support puzzle, I am finally seeing Miva orders syncing with Quickbooks. It's ticking away, 2325 of 8000+ and counting. This is the first step in a multi-step process to fix some recurring errors that have cropped up in our online store but I'm not even going to think about that now! For the moment, I'm basking in the success.

Whirlpool called promptly this morning and scheduled the delivery of our washing machine, for a day and time when I'm actually able to be here! Soon, soon I can banish this mountain of laundry.

I received a payment for an overdue invoice: the customer sent an additional "late fee" of his own accord because he felt bad for letting it go overdue. Wow, how often does that happen?

Pramas paid for the repair on the Pay It Forward car and we can pick it up tonight.

All before noon. Off to a good start!




Miva Synchro still isn't working. The tech guy has been able to reproduce my error on his machine (and wrote to me last night because he was working on the problem at home) but they still haven't been able to fix it for me.

I learned last night that Guitar Hero III has the wireless guitar I've been holding out for but that they added a stupid "beat the guitar legend to advance" step. Goddamn it, I SUCK at that kind of thing and I have NO desire to do it. What were they thinking? I just want to sit around and play songs with my little girl which was precisely what was fun about the previous version. Bah.

I've researched the hell out of new washing machines and I want to just GET one already.

Last night I had to deal with a sulky, whiny Kate because a few weeks ago I finally put the cactus pinata that she'd received for her birthday A YEAR AGO out in the recycling and she finally realized that it was gone. There was no candy in it (she dumped all the candy out long ago) but it had never been broken, either. This resulted in at least half an hour of her clutching the remaining donkey pinata and whimpering whenever I came within earshot. This does not bode well for my plan to clean the CRAP out of this house... and it makes me angry. I do not intend to deal with that crap over every piece of junk we get rid of. Argh.

Because Kate is now playing soccer at school on Fridays, I have to pick her up and start the drive to her dad's later (5:00 instead of 3:15) and in the heart of rush hour. Tonight is the first time I'll be making the trip and I'm not sure what to expect but I'm really not looking forward to it. Making the drive in heavy traffic really sucks.

Today would be a good day for me to crawl into bed and ignore the world. Too bad I can't do that.



Just when I thought all was calm

For weeks I'd had it in my calendar that my in-laws were coming to town yesterday for a week-long visit. Tuesday, as I was taking Pramas to Flying Lab (a slight detour before picking up Rob and Bill and getting them to the airport) he told me, no, it was the 17th they were coming. I breathed a sigh, had the guys over for an abbreviated game night (exhaustion hit hard about (9pm but we held out until 10) and started planning ahead to make Thursday "Bed Day".

Returned the rental van yesterday and with all the screwing around I only managed to get about half a day of actual work done. Dinner was baked potatoes with various toppings and/or left overs. I fell asleep around 9:00 again watching Ace of Cakes with Kate and woke up at 10:50 when someone called wanting to do a telephone survey about micky fricky movies I've seen in the theater! WTF? I told them I haven't been to a movie in months, which may be true or not, I honestly couldn't remember in my muddled state.

Happily, all of this led up to me being awake when another call came in at about 11:30pm. It was my mother-in-law. I did the quick time zone conversion in my head and thought "Uh oh, it's 2:30am her time, what's up?" only to hear her cheery voice telling me they'd arrived safely and were in Seattle and just wanted to let us know.

Ah. So no "bed day" tomorrow after all.

Kate is home with a sore throat that I'm going to try to get tested today in case it's strep. There's no school tomorrow, and next week she's supposed to spend the week at OPI so I want to be sure she's healthy before sending her off.

Meeting my in-laws at Panos Kleftiko for yummy yummy Greek food. Unless Kate has strep throat.




Back to work! Best thing about post-summit activity is that the summit always reinvigorates me. Decisions have been made, directions chosen. I have things to do and starting something fresh (even if it's an old project that has a new set of decisions applied to it) is where I do my best work. I love the possibilities laid out before me at the start of things.

Another good thing about post-summit: leftovers! Hooray for leftovers. I will eat well at lunch this week.

Chris informs me that his parents aren't coming to town until next week, so I have a week to recover. This is excellent news. I may need at least one day of working from "the soft office" (to steal from Steve and Christopher) before I'm ready for the full treadmill of daily life.

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Busy Day

In addition to generally catching up on things work-related (or at least making some headway), I also:
  • confirmed my brother is not dead in a ditch somewhere, just swamped with his surgical rotation
  • made a dentist appointment for Kate (can't get in until November 19th!)
  • made a doctor's appointment for Kate (needs immunizations updated)
  • arranged with my mom to send Kate to her house for Labor Day Weekend visit
  • made three Flexcar reservations
  • arranged to return Kate's defective shoes to Land's End (second try with these, same problem both times, getting a refund this time)
  • took Kate to 6th Grade Orientation at her new school building
  • went grocery shopping for the first time in weeks
I still have to arrange to have our washing machine fixed, replace the garbage disposal, and mow the weeds before the HOA notices them, but I really felt like I made some progress today. I'm very much looking forward to being home, eating my own food, sleeping in my own bed for a while.

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Will it be a month of no lunches?

Ah, 4:10pm and once again I've had no lunch. It's not as bad as it could be, I guess, since I didn't have "breakfast" until noon...

Preparing for GenCon is always insane for us but this year seems to be worse than usual. I was a very bad girl this weekend as I didn't work but read the last Harry Potter book on Saturday instead. Of course, it's still a little over three weeks until GenCon and there's no way in hell I can work every single day between now and then and still have any sanity at all.

There are always the little inefficiencies that make things even more tedious and time-consuming, like the guy who titles his customer service request "Online Catalog". Does the subject "Online Catalog" scream out to be handled RIGHT NOW? Predictably, the message has nothing to do with the online catalog but with an order gone wrong and his increasing desperation to fix it... Or the people who contact me by fax (by FAX? Really?) which I don't notice (the Fax being in Chris's office on the second floor) until three days too late to respond. Or several of Chris's e-mails to us just flat never arriving.

The completely sucky un-summery weather so far this year (mostly 65-70 and rainy except for a blast of 95-100 for three days out of the blue) has done nothing at all positive for my disposition and being so busy that I forget to eat lunch is certainly not making me feel any better. Very growly and short-tempered about a lot of things right now. I want a sunny beach, a cabana boy, and some frozen drinks with little umbrellas. You can even keep the pony.

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