May 24, 2013
April 15, 2013
It’s snowing. What a spring we’ve been having, a snowstorm a week for like six weeks now. My crocuses bloomed, then froze… After a weekend of t-shirts, my snuggly sweater feels itchy. Sigh.
It’s also Tax Day here in the U.S. My mother’s a CPA, and I spent eight years as an administrative assistant in a tax prep office. Given that background, here’s the most important thing I’ve learned about tax returns: get them done as early as possible. It’s the only way. Mine were done at the beginning of March.
The Cormac novel is past 40,000 words now. I’m at the messy middle part, where I have to stop and revise everything I’ve already done in an attempt to figure out where I need to go from here. I even had a big outline for this one, dammit, and I still have to stop! Every single time!
With the snow, this sounds like a good day to stay inside and muddle through it. *rolls up sleeves*
February 25, 2013
We finally had a real honest-to-goodness blizzard over the weekend, with snow and wind and drifts and everything.
This is fantastic. It’s a huge relief, in fact. In the past we’ve had two or three of these big snows each winter, along with at least one really big snow, that gets measured in feet. For my area of Colorado, the Front Range, this is our first big snow of the year. Everything else has been a dusting, or a couple of inches at most. We’re so dry, so drought-stricken, we needed this very badly and I’d been starting to think we wouldn’t get it. Which would make next summer’s fire risk even worse than last year’s. And last year’s was so very bad.
As it is, I’ve taken “water trees” off my to do list, which is nice. But if we could get one more of these big snows in before spring, that would be even better. It’s not unheard of — Starfest in April nearly got snowed out a few years ago. Fingers crossed.
The Oscars: I wouldn’t mind them cutting off acceptance speeches so rudely quite as much if it wasn’t so blazingly obvious that the actors are exempted from the time limit.
January 4, 2013
My dog is what trainers call “reactive.” She barks, she gets freaked out when things are different or chaotic. I got her as a rescue, and near as we can figure she had no socialization as a puppy. Which is really unfortunate, because she really does like people and cuddling, once things settle down. She just has no idea how to act around people. Or dogs, or loud noises, or alarm clocks, or… You get the idea.
So, this Christmas I was worried about how Lily would do with my almost-year-old niece, who is toddling with conviction these days, and grabby, and all the other things that year-old toddlers are. I was prepared to keep Lily in her crate the entire holiday if I had to.
In fact, she did fine.
(I know the picture is dark, but you get the idea.) At first Lily was very curious — I imagine Emmy is the most interesting thing she’s ever smelled in her life. When Emmy got a little too grabby, Lily did what she was supposed to and left the room whenever the kid appeared. I was pretty proud of her. We had to watch them both and make sure Lily was out of the way when she got stressed (she was very good about letting us know she was stressed, so we could swoop in for a rescue). But you always have to do that when animals and babies are involved.
Also during the holiday break, I went with my Dad to the Air Force Academy to visit the new(ish) Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion, which was funded by Dad’s Academy class (1970) to memorialize grads who were killed in the Vietnam War (including one of his roommates).
It’s not quite finished yet, some of the informational displays aren’t there yet. But it’s a beautiful and poignant structure, and seeing it with my dad was pretty special. If you’re ever visiting the Academy, you might take a few minutes to check it out.
December 21, 2012
I think all the presents are acquired and wrapped. (Niece Emmy’s birthday is in a couple of weeks, and I’m making something for her. I’m trying to get it done so I can give it to her now, before she goes back to Oregon, but no worries if I don’t.)
The cookies are baked. (No Colorado pot jokes, please.)
Holiday cards mailed. (Except for a couple the need to go overseas.)
White Christmas watched. (I heart Danny Kaye.)
Muppet Christmas Carol watched. (This is the very best version, I think. Michael Caine is a genuinely intimidating Scrooge, and it’s got all the wonder, humor, and language of the Dickens original. What do you mean, you haven’t read the original? Go read it, now! It’s short! You’ll like it!)
I haven’t been to the mall yet. I like going to the mall at Christmas, not to actually do any shopping, but just to look around and take in the atmosphere. Maybe Sunday.
Revised Kitty in the Underworld turned in. Yeeeha!
So, I think I’m just about ready. I’ve got two parties to go to over the weekend. I plan to enjoy myself immensely.
Oh, and also, for no particular reason: dear Ancient Aliens, I don’t think ancient peoples were quite as stupid as you seem to think they were.
November 2, 2012
(I reserve the right to change my mind.) I’ve avoided posting about politics and the presidential election this year because emotions are just too high, the discourse is too nasty, and I don’t want my comments section to explode with vitriol. Lots of other people have already written about pretty much anything I could possibly discuss, and more thoughtfully. So I will refrain.
I’ve already voted. And can I just say how exciting it’s been, being registered independent in a significant swing state this year? I answered almost every single robo-poll, hoping to swing Colorado far enough blue that the GOP would decide to give up and stop running ads here. It didn’t work.
October 24, 2012
Over the last week, the aspen trees in my yard have gone full golden and are now shedding all their leaves. I’m not sure I’m ready for this! This is the time of year when I think of everything I want to get done by the end of the year, and realize there’s only a couple of months left. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to not be so locked into these structures? I mean, the calendar is ultimately pretty arbitrary. Then again, without deadlines — self imposed or otherwise, I’m not sure I’d ever get anything done. So yeah. I’ve got my list. We’ll see how I do with it.
Another hard thing is thinking about what to do next year. I have to start planning. I’m going to Anomaly Con. I’ve just booked a vacation in a warm place with beaches for next fall. I have to make decisions about Worldcon and Dragon Con, which I’m still trying to get back to after my one and only expedition there five years ago. I need to make a research trip to Yellowstone. I just don’t have time for it all.
I must plan as if I will have time for everything, eventually. I can only cross things off the to do list one at a time. So that’s what I do, one thing at a time, step by step.
September 21, 2012
I went to the Denver Gem and Mineral Show last weekend for the first time. I’d been wanting to go for years, but something else always came up, SCA event or convention or whatnot. Well, this year I went, and walked out muttering to myself, I do not need another hobby. Between knitting and costuming and birdwatching and gaming I already have more hobbies than I can keep up with (I haven’t gamed regularly in a couple of years…my dice are rusty, dammit!). I do not need to start rock hounding, even though I live in a brilliant rock hounding state and bought a Colorado rock hounding book before I left the show. I can love sparklies — and essentially, a gem and mineral show is all about the sparklies in both their pre and post sparklie form — without, you know, being obsessive, right? The other mantra of the day: use the beads I have before I buy more, use the beads I have before I buy more. Because yes, there’s another hobby I’ve already started that I really should spend more time with before I start yet another hobby. But come on, tell me this stuff isn’t just so awesome! Pretty things made by the planet itself. LOVE.
Did I mention I was two classes away from minoring in geology in college? I took the first class because it was available and fulfilled a science requirement. I took the others because I loved hiking around and looking at rocks so very much.
The show also had fossils. FOSSILS!
I do not need another hobby, I do not need another hobby. . .
August 3, 2012
Due to the illogical chaos of the American political process, this will be the most political thing I’ve written on the blog in months. And it’s about horses. No, I don’t get it either, but here we are.
Here’s a summary of why the equestrian sport of dressage is suddenly a topic of political conversation. Basically, dressage is being painted as a symptom of Mitt Romney’s wealth and tax-deducting shenanigans. And when Colbert spends the first ten minutes of his show on dressage, you know it’s a talking point. (The truth is, I’m very proud of Colbert for actually getting on a horse and trying it out.)
This negative attention is totally not fair to dressage. My proposition: Dressage is not inherently elitist.
Exhibit A: Me.
This is me, competing at training level dressage, with my Colorado-born Appaloosa Rosie. I supported my horse habit with my bookstore job and by working at the barn. Not a lot of money there, but we went to local shows and did okay.
A brief history of the sport: The earliest Olympic competitors in dressage were military cavalry officers. Like, actual cavalry officers who were showing off the skills they needed and practiced as part of their military service. (Men like Alois Podhajsky, who is credited with saving the Spanish Riding School during World War II, and who won the Olympic individual bronze in 1936.) The development of dressage as a sport mirrors the development of fencing as a sport: during the Renaissance, when gunpowder made armored knights on chargers obsolete, swordsmanship and horsemanship both became slimmer, sleeker, faster, more agile, and more about skill and precision than about brute strength. Horsemanship began to emphasize communication between the horse and rider, and riders realized that by fine tuning this communication, they could do amazing things with their horses. Piaffes. Pirouettes. Flying lead changes. Half passes.
These movements all had practical applications in cavalry warfare from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries, until cavalry warfare itself became obsolete during the First World War. By then, horse people discovered that they really liked working with horses on these amazing skills, and the competitions continued even when the cavalries did not. The Spanish Riding School of Vienna has been showing off these skills to impressed audiences for centuries, and the fundamentals of dressage are in some ways the fundamentals of riding in general. If you’ve ever taken a riding lesson in an English saddle, you’ve probably been exposed to dressage. It’s popular because it makes people better riders, and trains horses to be better athletes. And it’s beautiful, elegant, and otherworldly. If you’re in the U.S., there’s probably a dressage show happening this weekend in your region. Like this one in Parker, Colorado.
The Romneys’ finances are a legitimate area of interest, but because they participate in what’s seen as an arcane, inaccessible sport, the sport itself is being derided. They could just as easily be spending that money on NASCAR or baseball, like so many of their economic peers do, and no one would think a thing of it.
This bashing of dressage is making me sad because I enjoy dressage both as a spectator and a rider. It’s very zen, because if you’re not calm and focused and in the moment you won’t do well. It’s an entire philosophy that sees horsemanship as a set of building blocks, a series of skills, all of which are important. You have to master the basics before moving forward. I never did anything in competition beyond walk, trot, canter, and halt. But really, practicing those skills was enough. And in our short career Rosie and I had some brilliant moments. (We once scored an 8 out of 10 on our “trot up center line.” Our best score on an individual movement ever. I’m still ecstatic over that. I can still remember what it felt like.)
It’s also making me sad because the accusation of elitism ignores the fact that all sports at the Olympic level are elite — elite in the sense that they’re the best, not that they’re snobs. That’s the whole point of Olympic competition. No matter what sport you’re in, it takes a lot of time, support, effort — and money — to get there. And just like all those other sports, for every elite, Olympic dressage horse and rider you see, there are thousands of normal people with normal horses just tooling around in their local competitions because they like it. Just like there are thousands of little girls taking gymnastics, or swimming at the Y, or casual runners racing in their local 10k. The discussion surrounding Rafalca has completely erased that aspect of the sport from the conversation. It’s giving dressage a bad rap that it doesn’t deserve.
End of Rant.
July 20, 2012
I’m fine, I wasn’t at the theater, since some folks have asked. Still waiting for more news. This is going to end up hitting the Denver geek/fan community hard. Well, it already has.
I haven’t been to a midnight showing in awhile, but I used to be an avid fan of them. That could easily have been me and my friends there, so I’m heartsick. My condolences to the victims and their families.
Now I think I’m going to go reread the Batman issue of Planetary.