omorka: (Asherah Presides)
So this weekend was CMA's annual Beltane festival. Our plan was that the Spouse was going to pack the car Thursday during the day, and then he would pick me up at 4:15 after work, we'd swing by the house for me to drop off my work stuff and pick up my electronics bag, and we would drive out there in time to get on site just before sunset. We would put up the screen house, unload the car into it, and then spend Thursday night in the car, putting up the tent on Friday morning & finishing setting up camp over breakfast.

The best-laid plans o' mice and men )
omorka: (Default)
My favorite Filipino-Viet fruit stand at the farmer's market had some large yellow fruit they called Manzanilla lemons. They don't really taste like lemons, or at least, not just like lemons; they taste like citrus - with notes of lemon, orange, tangerine, and grapefruit, and they're shaped like uglifruit, which I suspect means that they're hybrids, probably mostly citron and pomelo with a little bit of mandarin mixed in.

So of course I bought two and ran them through the mandoline; they've been simmered with a cinnamon stick and are going through an overnight soak, and tomorrow they'll be boiled into marmalade.
omorka: (Default)
The combination of my joint issues (some related to gout, some apparently just deciding to show up as I age) and the Spouse only being happy if he has his entire music collection and six different devices to play it on with him at all times (and, to be fair, his CPAP) means that tent camping is no longer really an attractive option for us, especially during Texas's rainier seasons. Unfortunately, our vehicle, while capable of carting around everything we need out at the Land, is not quite large enough for us to put an air mattress down in the back. I think we are going to need to seriously look at getting the smallest available used camper trailer in the very near future, or at least finding a good way to rent one.

I have been running hot and cold on CMA lately. I think the failure of the organization to even contemplate dealing with the prevalence of binge drinking during festival is the biggest issue I'm facing, but one of the other prominent members has a Christian spouse and has been doing everything in their power to suck the actual Paganism out of the public face of the event, which actively makes me angry. I'm contemplating trying to put together a gathering of specifically Polytheists and Polytheist Pagans, possibly renting the Land for a weekend for the purpose, but finding a good weekend when the weather won't kill us is still difficult. On the other hand, hotels are air-conditioned but expensive.
omorka: (Default)
So, I don't know if this has gotten any traction outside of the Houston area, but basically there's been a major pollution event going on all week, originally in the form of a giant plume of toxic smoke and now mostly as a water contaminant spill. On Monday the smoke plume was blowing directly over my workplace (thankfully at a sufficiently high altitude that it was't mixing with the surface air) and blotting out the sun for part of the day.

It also happens to be oakbloom here, so all our high-allergy kids and asthmatic kids have been having terrible weeks and it's not possible to determine what's tree jizz and what's fine particulates. I've been having an awful joint week, myself, but again, not clear if that's related or not (February and March are generally bad joint months for me anyway, for reasons that remain obscure).

Both local and state officials have been making rumbling noises about punitive fines and other consequences, but Texas does not have a great record on holding polluters to account and Harris County isn't necessarily a whole lot better. (It's a little better. Not a whole lot.)

On the bright side, Bugcatch is out of the hospital (again).
omorka: (Avengers Assemble)
We went to our local comfy cinema for the matinee showing of Captain Marvel yesterday. I am pleased to announce that it holds to the tradition of the space/cosmic MCU films having excellent soundtracks. In the interest of not spoiling anyone, I will only say that (a) being firmly in the Target Demographic for once was nice, and (b) if you haven't watched Kevin Smith's YouTube video about his reaction to that particular Stan Lee cameo and you can stand Kevin Smith at all, you should - it's an interesting reflection on conversations between creators and their works, and it is also 9 minutes of Kevin Smith trying not to cry on camera and only partially succeeding.

Why we didn't see it earlier and a digression about P!nk lyrics )
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Achievement unlocked: Muscadine grapevines planted in their very own large pots in the backyard. If they survive but do not thrive, I will look into putting something closer to a planter back there. The wild mustang grapes are eagerly climbing over the back fence again already, so I have pretty good evidence the back yard is grape-growing territory.

Also put a pair of tomato plants in the patio planter, next to the volunteer; purchased new basil, replacement thyme, and a sage plant and potted them on the porch; dome some minor soil remediation on the potted kumquat tree.

Still need to do: bribe someone else to dig two 3' holes for me and plant the grapefruit and blood orange trees in the front yard, mulch all the fruit trees.

My reward for getting the muscadines done is banana pudding. Of course, I had to make the banana pudding, but as desserts go that's an easy one.
omorka: (Default)
I have a volunteer tomato plant growing from last year's planter. I am letting it grow because I am curious whether it will bear fruit worth eating, but I am also picking up a couple of patio tomato plants because I am not optimistic enough to bet on it.

A month ago I bought a bundle of spearmint at the farmer's market, used one sprig of it, and stuck the rest in a jar of water to stay fresh. Being mint, it put down roots instead. That bunch just got put out into a large pot on the porch today.

I need to replace my thyme and basil plants; everything else, including the oregano that I thought might have gotten frostbitten in our one freeze, seems to be leafing out for spring just fine. I'm going to try lemon balm one more time before giving up on it ever surviving the summers here - it makes it to August and then turns into sad brown sticks.

On the list of things to do this week: pick up some planters/large pots for the two muscadine grapevines I bought on a whim at the fruit tree sale, pay someone with a stronger back than I have to dig holes for the two new citrus trees, mulch all the things.
omorka: (Default)
This next week is Spring Break for my district, and for once I didn't have to bring home tests of projects to grade! I did bring home a stack of small stuff (mostly understanding checks & memory drills), and I do need to write a test over break, but all my major grades and quiz grades are in except for a handful of makeups and retakes.

Now I need to hit the farmer's market tomorrow morning and at least two grocery stores in the next couple of days, because my larder is bare and has been for the better part of two weeks.
omorka: (Default)
One of a dozen things I need to do over Spring Break is purge my occult/religious/Pagan/Wiccan bookshelf. I have literally dozens of books that I picked up in the '90s and early Oughts that I read a third of and realized I knew more about the subject than the author did. Not sure I'm feeling hauling them all to Half Price Books, though. Anyone know of a Houston/Texas org that could use the donations?
omorka: (Default)
I don't wanna go back to Tumblr. I really, really don't. I don't like it, and I don't feel like I have an audience there.

But it seems like all my fandoms that have any action only have it there.

Dang.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Last Thanksgiving Day, the Spouse and I delivered Thanksgiving dinner to RA-no-LJ (or, I guess, RA-no-DW now), since his spouse, [personal profile] stardreamer, was immobile and only intermittently responsive. We dropped off the usual turkey, pie, potatoes, cranberry relish, bread, and green beans, stood around and said hi to her, made small talk with RA, and then left at around 9:30 PM. She died at around 11:30 PM. Fuck cancer.

For a variety of reasons, including but not limited to both her and RA's lack of affiliation with any religious or faith group (Stardreamer had attended First UU Church for its CUUPs group briefly, a long time ago, around the time of my first experiment there - that's technically how we met - but none of the ministers who were there then are still around, and RA is about as atheist as you can get), no memorial service was held at the time. A small one was held at a recent SF/fantasy con in Dallas, as Stardreamer and RA were both mainstays of the Texas convention scene for the last 20 years. But the closest thing she's going to get to a proper one is tomorrow. Every spring for the last couple of decades, she had held a Chocolate Decadence party, in which she prepared some sort of chocolate dessert and asked everyone else to bring one, or a fruit-based one if they couldn't have chocolate. A friend of hers and RA's has offered her house to host the last one, at which we shall toast her with desserts of all sorts and offer fond remembrances - a sort of theobrominized wake, if you like.

I have no idea what I'm making. I may cheap out and make a blueberry-chocolate-chip crumbcake with some of the frozen blueberries, if only so I know there will be something there that isn't 80% cacao dark. I'm kind of unhappy that this is it for her as far as memorials, but I can't argue that it isn't fitting, and in her case, if she had wanted something bigger she would have made her wishes explicitly known, so - it will do.

I'm not so old that funerals are a common occurrence for me yet, but losing two old friends (I've known Stardreamer since the very early Oughts and Silverdragonknight since the late '90s) so close together was rough indeed. Along with some other endings, it was a tough holiday season from Samhain through Yule.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
So right now Bugcatch is in the hospital. He managed to have a partial-blockage heart attack back on Sunday and just graduated out of the cardiac ward into a regular hospital room today. They're hoping to release him tomorrow; the Spouse and I went up to see him and JKC (his wife) on Monday after school (and to bring JKC something real to eat instead of hospital cafeteria food or snacks from the coffee bar), and if he doesn't get out tomorrow we'll probably offer to do so again tomorrow, because JKC does not deserve to have to eat that all week.

---

On October 8, Silverdragonknight (whose LJ did not carry over to DW and I don't want to link to LJ from here; hereafter SDK) messaged me at around 10 PM to complain about not having been able to make it to Pagan Pride Day and his general stress level. He mentioned that he was having tension in his chest that was exacerbating his allergies and making it difficult to breathe. I told him to get off the damned phone and go to urgent care. Instead, he asked me to call him; I did, and he said it wasn't a heart attack, that he'd just had a checkup with his cardiologist and things were okay. I told him then it was pneumonia and he still needed to go to urgent care, or failing that, the hospital. About an hour later, he texted me saying that he'd given in and was going to the ER.

On the morning of October 9, he messaged me just before I got to work, saying that the bloodwork they'd done overnight showed evidence that it was a heart attack after all. I texted back that I was sending energy, and asking which hospital and what visitor's hours were. I blazed through the day with my mind half in the classroom and half with him.

At the end of the day, I got out my phone to see if he'd managed to text back. There was one from his phone, but it wasn't him - it was his wife. He'd had another heart attack in ICU, and they hadn't been able to save him; he'd died at around noon. Her text had arrived just after my lunch break was over, so it had been sitting in my pocket through three hours of classes.

I don't want to sound like SDK was family to me, exactly. He was a friend, a close one. Moreover, he's one of the first people to not only call me priestess but treat me as one. And despite being a loudmouth in every possible sense, he had a heart of gold and a spine of steel; I never once asked him for help when he didn't deliver in spades.

I miss him terribly. His daughter (who is now 21) misses him even more.

---

Heart disease can go four times to hell.
omorka: (Hypercube)
Owlcon is wrapping up; I've moved out of the Grand Hall into the lobby so I'm not in the way of dealers packing out.

Last night's LARP had two major issues, although I think we overcame them both. First, none of us in the Keeper corps had enough time or energy to devote to being Head Writer for this one, so it was effectively written by committee. As a pragmatic matter, this means that Tacemus and I are effectively co-heads, with him keeping all of the practical effects, props, and timelines, and me keeping all the characters and worldbuilding, and neither of us really wanted that, but the other Keepers kept asking us to make decisions anyway. Tacemus in particular had a major work explosion about two weeks ago (because that's always the way), and then two of the other Keepers came down sick - one of them made it but was running at about two-thirds strength, and the other didn't make it at all, which required a minor recast. One of the other Keepers had a last-minute brain flash and wanted to introduce a new plot element-cum-macguffin, which we tried to tone down but didn't convince him to eliminate.

Second, our player corps was down significantly - we had about 22 people in a game designed for 40-60. We had to trim a few character-specific subplots because there just weren't enough people to run them. On the other hand, that meant that we had one keeper for every four players instead of one keeper for every eight-to-twelve, which was nice for running smaller-scale stuff. We think this is because of two issues: first, the con itself didn't do enough advertising this year, so general attendance was down and the pool of potential newbie players was smaller, and second, more younger people entering gaming as a general hobby right now are entering through board & card gaming and then staying there, rather than graduating to TTRPGs, minis wargaming, or LARPing. Nothing wrong with the latter, but it means that our dice and live-action roleplaying games are both losing players to age, death, relocation, and other issues that aren't getting replaced with new ones.

I'm reasonably happy with what we got; everyone who was there gave it all they had and it was generally fun. (Even though one of our returning players managed to kick/step on my foot and ankle, and now it's bruisy and sore and I lost part of a toenail.) But our games are better when one person has the whole game in their head at once, and we need to work on recruiting some of the young cardfloppers into proper roleplaying.
omorka: (Monkees '68)
Lots of people have said more moving, more personal, and more insightful things than I could regarding Peter Tork's death on Friday. I mean, "Fuck cancer" comes to mind, considering recent more local events, but that hardly seems sufficient.

I was at work when I found out, so I couldn't have a proper cry. The Monkees were not my first fandom, but they were the first fandom that I interacted with other people in a fannish way with - squeeing and talking about fandom crushes. I was 13; it was during the MTV revival of the series. In a lot of ways, that was my introduction to the modern idea of fandom, even though it was eight years pre-Internet-As-We-Know-It. And while I am a Dolenz fangirl from crown to heel, Tork was in a lot of ways the musical vanguard of the group. He embodied the experimental spirit of the late '60s while still valuing the folk and blues traditions from his own past. The band would not have sounded the same without him, and would have been much the poorer for it.

Io Evohe Peter! Io Evoke Tork!
omorka: (Default)
So in staring down the barrel of a school year that is likely to be intensely stressful, at least in terms of planning and grading load, what did I do? I volunteered to reboot an old TTRPG game I was running with three players, one of whom has since gone off the deep end (and now won't go anywhere unarmed; I refused to allow her to bring her piece into my house, so that was the end of that), in a new system (FATE Core, which I have played in but not run before) with a new group of seven people (several of whom are even less familiar with this system than I am).

We had the first session last Friday (the 3rd). It went . . . extremely poorly. FATE, as a system, really requires that the players be proactive and on the same page as the GM regarding tone. Four of my seven players were playing extremely reactively, three of them to the point that they nearly failed to be noticed by the two characters carried over from the previous version of the game. And of my three active players, one of them kept trying to do things I had not yet written the rules for, because it had not occurred to me that someone would just flatly break Masquerade like that. (FATE doesn't have a default magic system, and this is a modern urban paranormal game; this person is playing a mage, and just - started casting spells in front of a 200-person crowd.) One of the remaining two was doing something extremely stupid, but at least they were doing something!

Part of this is that FATE Core is a system where mechanics follow action, rather than the other way around - part of the point of playing through the opening scenario is to see which skills and aspects the players find that their characters need. Most of us, though, are used to either D&D, where a lot of character generation is traditionally random, or GURPS, where you build your characters from your initial point pool first and then figure out what you can do with the numbers you have. In either case, action follows mechanics. And it was like pulling teeth to get the players to attempt things that weren't already on their character sheets.

It's going to be a very different experience, and I suspect I'm going to have to give up a lot more control over the ultimate arc of the storyline than I'm used to. But at least they seemed to want to stick around for the next session.
omorka: (Default)
It's the DW version of the Ao3 Stats Meme again!

Top 5 Stories By Hits:
Not For Sale (Firefly, Mal/Simon, Porn Battle IX): 7416
Programs and Users Have a Common Descent (Tron x Eureka, gen, Sci-Fi Fantasy Big Bang 2011): 3919
Bar the Door (Firefly, Jayne/Simon): 2618
Visions of Futures Passed (Star Trek (2009 movie), Bones/Spock Prime, Porn Battle IX): 2478
Spun Right Round (Eureka x Buckaroo Banzai, gen, Sci-Fi Fantasy Big Bang 2009): 2283

The next story is another Mal/Simon fic; nothing else has over 2000.

Top 5 Stories By Kudos:
Not For Sale (Firefly, Mal/Simon, Porn Battle IX): 306
Endless Beat (Singin' In The Rain, Cosmo/Don/Kathy, Springkink 2010): 176
Grist For the Rumor Mill (Singin' In The Rain, Cosmo/Don): 171
Visions of Futures Passed (Star Trek (2009 movie), Bones/Spock Prime, Porn Battle IX): 142
Good Vibes (Ghostbusters (1984 movie), Egon/Ray, SmallFandomFest Round 5): 127

Two repeats - not surprising, given that higher views mean more potential for kudos. Shoutout to the SitR fandom; there aren't a lot of fics, even fewer that aren't AU, and they are appreciative of the ones they get.

Top 5 Stories By Bookmarks:
Not For Sale (Firefly, Mal/Simon, Porn Battle IX): 31
Endless Beat (Singin' In The Rain, Cosmo/Don/Kathy, Springkink 2010): 27
Falling Into Grace (Transformers, pre-Optimus Prime/Starscream, Springkink 2010): 20
Visions of Futures Passed (Star Trek (2009 movie), Bones/Spock Prime, Porn Battle IX): 15 (tie)
Leaking the Secrets (Ghostbusters (1984 movie), Egon/Peter, Rounds of Kink Round 12): 15 (tie)

Oh, hey, my lone Transformers fic, good to see you here. Otherwise, three repeats and another GB entry.

What almost all of these have in common is that they're old - all but one of these are from 2008-2010, and the exception is 2011. So they've had more time to build up hit counts and everything else that comes with them. Several of these are from larger fandoms (Firefly & Trek, in particular) than I normally write for. I'm a little surprised that the entries for what is still by a nontrivial margin my largest writing fandom are both GB rather than RGB, but I suppose any RGB fics with an M or higher rating are potential childhood-ruiners.

I haven't uploaded anything yet this year. I should try and fix that.
omorka: (Ariloulaleelay)
On the bright side, Atop the 4th Wall was accepted as a Yuletide nomination. So that's something.
omorka: (Literary dragon)
I am vaguely contemplating attempting Yuletide this year, after skipping it two years in a row.

Mostly this is because I think Atop the 4th Wall, by itself, is eligible if it isn't crossed over with Channel Awesome more generally.

I don't know when I think I will have the time to write. I'm head writer for Mythos Houston's Owlcon game again this year, and I know how much time and energy that sucks up. Then again, not having to wait on other people is likely to make that less stressful even if it's the same amount of writing time overall, and a chunk of that will fall after the Yuletide deadline anyway.

On the gripping hand, I don't know how many people in my social circle will have major medical crises between now and then, either.
omorka: (Autoharp & Case)
Why is the drum solo/fill from "Tighten Up" not one of the heavily sampled ones? I mean, it's not "Funky Drummer," but I think it's in the same league as the Amen Break.
omorka: (Doc Shocked)
Help, they cancelled the first day of school due to the hurricane and I can't handle this.

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