I’m being really good and drinking tea during programming, rather than the Old Fashioned I was thinking about. No booze until after I finish programming. I don’t normally have to make these decisions when I’m at a convention and don’t have the kitchen literally ten feet away.

I’m enjoying Worldcon so far, even though I’ve only dipped my toes in. But it’s also a bit strange. Conventions are usually literally a different world — I’ve traveled, I’m in a hotel, I’m in a strange place, it’s an adventure!

At Virtual Worldcon, I have to remember to take the trash out because it’s trash night and make sure I walk the dog before my programming item starts and maybe no one will notice if I’m eating a cheese snack off camera. And while I’m not going No Pants, I’m definitely not wearing my usual convention polish.

Not good or bad, just an observation.

One thing that I’m not sure I mentioned:  I entered the masquerade. We all know I love costuming, but I’ve never entered a Worldcon masquerade because, well… no time. Transporting costumes takes more energy than I usually have, and managing a masquerade on top of my other programming is a bit much.

Well, this year it’s all via video. No transporting costumes required. I submitted the material last week, and I can do all my regular programming without worrying about showing up all dolled up in person. The masquerade is tonight, AND I’M VERY EXCITED. I might have to sneak an Old Fashioned in for this one.

Eeeek!

 

Global Big Day 2020

May 11, 2020

Saturday was the Global Big Day bird count, in which birders all over the world try to spot as many bird species as they can in a 24 hour period. I’ve participated for four years now. I really look forward to it, even though every year I end up feeling like I’m not a very good birder.

This year, I was worried about going to my usual birding spots, which are popular public parks and likely to be crowded. So in the interest of social distancing, I picked a spot on private land that I’ve been wanting to birdwatch at for awhile:  the farm where I ride horses. It’s got a stand of cottonwoods along an irrigation ditch, which is excellent bird habitat. I got up early, was out there with my binoculars by 7:30 am, which is virtuously early for me.

It was a good plan. Then the wind started blowing. Then it got cold. The sun was shining, but I was shivering and battered within an hour. And the birds just don’t come out when it’s that blustery. Only logged 14 species, and I was a bit disappointed. Highlights:  western kingbirds and a blue-gray gnatcatcher.

I seem to be doing worse and worse at this each year. But hey, at least I got out there at all, right?

I’ve just about decided not to wait for the next official Big Day, but at some point pick a nice, warm, sunny, beautiful day and do my own personal Big Day, no pressure.

 

masks

April 27, 2020

Like lots of cosplayers and historical recreationists, I have been sewing masks. It takes me a long time to sew them, so I haven’t been making a lot. But I managed to get my whole family masked up, and now I’m making them for donation.

I haven’t had to buy new supplies to do this. It’s all from the pre-existing stash. I might finally be making a dent in it! Which feels pretty good, especially for such a good purpose. I’m making my own bias tape, which is tedious (even with the tricks I’ve been learning, and the bias-tape gadget a friend 3-D printed for me), but it’s saving me from having to order or track it down elsewhere.

I’ll probably keep making them, a few at a time, since we’ll likely be at this for awhile.

quarantine cosplay

April 16, 2020

I found a fun game to play. It’s a pale substitute for actually being at conventions and hanging out with my friends, but it’s something.

Question: What new character can I pull together to cosplay with stuff I already have at home?

Answer:

happy holidays 2019

December 24, 2019

I have a confession:  I’ve really been enjoying the holidays this year.

And I’ve been trying to figure out why, so I can maybe replicate this feeling. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

I’ve focused on the process rather than the day itself. So often it feels like the holiday season is a frenzy aiming toward this single moment, this single destination — Christmas, or Yule, or whatever — and it turns out to be a bit of a let down to spend all that stress and preparation for a single event that is over and done with just like that. All of us sitting there with the chaos of wrapping paper and presents and cold spiced cider thinking, That’s it? It’s done?

Instead, I did a lot of baking and thought about enjoying that. Putting together gift bags. Wrapping presents and eating food and going out with friends — it’s all part of the holidays. It’s all part of the celebration. There is no preparation — the preparation is the holiday, if that makes sense.  All of this is what I like about this time of year, not any one moment.

Which brings me to. . .why? I’ve been thinking about why I actually go through all this gift giving and decorating and music and concerts and parties and the rest. And it really is about the time of year, about distracting myself during the dark of winter, giving myself something to look forward to during these short cold days. Giving myself a stretch of time that isn’t ordinary, that marks a transition between this year and the next. A liminal space to mark the passage of time. To put away what was and prepare for what will be, and celebrate all the good things in my life.

“The holidays” aren’t a thing. They’re a process. It’s ongoing.

And just like that, a weight comes off, and I can enjoy all this a whole lot more.

Happy Holidays. I hope you all get a chance this season to take a moment and breathe and simply be.

 

the trees have eyes

October 28, 2019

In the category of “do something that scares you,” I signed up for an online nature journaling and drawing class. I’m looking for ways to be more engaged with my birdwatching, and also to practice art — I haven’t really done anything with the visual arts since I was a teenager. So, I’m dipping my toes in.  It’s been a little frustrating and slow going — the class started in early October, the same month that I had trips/conventions for three weekends and I’m on deadline for a novel revision. And the weather turned utterly crappy, so I haven’t been able to get outside to actually, you know, nature journal.  But slow going is still going, and my backyard is pretty cool. The juncos are back at my feeder, so some time this week I hope to sit by the window with a cup of tea and my sketchbook and see what I can record.

One of the points of the class is that through observing, journaling, and sketching, you’ll notice things that you wouldn’t otherwise. By taking time to really observe, and really look at and record details, you’ll see things you wouldn’t by just taking a photo and moving on.

For example, I did a sketch of some of the aspen trees in my backyard. And discovered that my aspens have eyes. This whole time they’ve had them. I can’t not see it now.

 

this year’s cosplay

October 21, 2019

I’ve been cosplaying at MileHi Con for several years now, and I really love it. I went to my first conventions way back in high school and college and dressed up a lot then, and I missed it, and now I’m back.

This year, a friend of mine really really wanted to be Crowley from Good Omens.  I wasn’t going to let her do it by herself…

Lebowski Thor

July 8, 2019

I’d meant to post about this earlier but then June got completely out of control. So I’ll post about it now. By far the most popular cosplay at Denver not-Comic Con was “Lebowski Thor” from Avengers: Endgame. There were dozens of those guys walking around in bathrobes and overgrown beards, guts hanging out over pajama bottoms.

It’s as if thousands of dudes with the proverbial “dad bod” watched the film with growing elation realizing that yes, finally, they can cosplay a superhero who looks just like them!  (And as I saw pointed out elsewhere, now maybe some of these guys understand the importance of inclusion and representation just a little bit more now.)

I guess San Diego Comic Con is this weekend. I won’t be there, but maybe someone can let me know if “Lebowski Thor” is as a big a thing there.

 

 

 

Deadwood

June 27, 2019

Deadwood, South Dakota, was a little more like Black Hawk Colorado than I expected or would have liked. More casinos and motorcycles than anything else, and not much of the Old West town left. Although there are “shoot-outs” staged three times daily for your entertainment, and you can pay $10 to sit in the spot where Wild Bill was shot while holding a hand of aces and eights.

However, the Mt. Moriah Cemetery, where Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock are buried, was quiet and chock full of the history I was looking for. This statue of Wild Bill is a more recent addition, but I was amused at how admirers are still determined to keep him well stocked.

 

 

So the thing about Robin Hood is there are dozens and dozens of versions of the story going back 700 years, and new bits and pieces to it are added all the time, and the earliest stories aren’t really anchored in any historical moment. Then when you do try to anchor it history, it turns out all those bits and pieces that got added over the course of 700 years don’t really fit.

This is why every Robin Hood novel has a long author’s note explaining — defending, justifying, whatever — the decisions the author made about what bits to keep and what to leave out. (Seriously, “Author’s Notes in Robin Hood Novels” is almost its own genre.) They usually talk about longbows and whether or how much they were really being used at the time of Prince John.

But here’s a bit I’ve never really seen anyone discuss before:  Friar Tuck cannot exist at the time of Prince John. “Friar” as a title refers specifically to Franciscan and Dominican monks. Turns out, Franciscans and Dominicans didn’t reach England until after 1220 — four years after King John’s death.

I mean, it’s a tiny little thing, we can call him “Brother Tuck” and make him a Benedictine and that works just fine.  But who knew?

I can just tell I’m going to be getting really judgey about Robin Hood stories after all this research.