Easily Distracted By Shiny Things
Meanderings from the City of the Red Castle
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25th-May-2015 10:32 am - Chapter One(s)
As stated a few posts ago, I did in fact start sifting through my to-read books by reading the first chapters. It did help, but not as much as I had hoped. (I'm nowhere near done, either, though, so we'll see. But I'm somewhat on hold while I read the finalists for the Hugo awards instead.*)

I found the process more interesting than the individual reviews, though I kept notes for myself on the latter.

1: Almost none of the opening chapters were objectively bad. Opening chapters tend to be one of the parts of a book any writer will have practiced endlessly, far more than endings, so the likelihood of reading a chapter and throwing it aside as Badly Written is very low - even though I covered a genuinely broad range of styles.

I also, in examining this aspect, realized that the last book that I read to the end and basically hated - Shifra Horn's The Fairest Among Women*** - would have been kept based on the first chapter test. Not necessarily with enthusiasm, but not set aside. So a good hint why this is an imperfect tool.

2: Most of them also do set up, very well, the idea what sort of story this will be. Which is much more of a giveaway. Two examples:

- The first book to make my "definitely Not going to keep this one" pile was one where I caught myself starting in on the second chapter, because the breezy quick style was easy to read. The reasons I was not going to continue had to do with the sort of story it promised to be - one where the most sweeping generalizations about male or female behaviour are truisms, the war of the sexes permeates the supposedly loving central relationship, with both man and woman trying to out-alpha one another and use underhanded tricks to get their way, instead of talking. These were irritating me even as the word choices flowed.

- Two fat epic fantasies that promised relatively typical settings and probably overly straight white and male casts. One I'm keeping and will read, one I won't. The difference is:

- the first chapter of one was about the kid about to go off adventuring. Gave an idea of his personality, of his work ethic, and of what and why he's not happy at home (oh, and his parents were neither unloving nor murdered.) And some idea about this world's magic system and its rather elaborate concept, but only as integral to his dilemma and his parents' worldviews.

- The other offered a high stakes event - an assassination attempt from the assassin's pov - that, while it dropped a handful of character details, was mostly there to showcase "here's my cool concept for a magic system and here's how a clever magic-user would manipulate it." And some of the fight description seemed to coin phrases that I could tell I'd be seeing as shorthand in many future fights.

A LOT less happens in the first book's opening chapter, and the political consequences of the second are clearly going to matter hugely in the upcoming plot. But I cared, a little, about the kid in the first book, even though he was just a bored teenager. The weeping assassin and the king were just sorta there.

3: Short books get passes more easily than long books. Which is kind of depressing considering my own tendency to run long. (I also grant that this is countered somewhat in a bookstore by the price-point issue - a short book with the same price tag as a longer book looks like a worse deal). This only applies to books in the middle ground, of course. At least one short book went poof, at least one long one stayed.

Most of the shorter books are kids' books, which tend to a quicker simpler style where more happens fast. I'm wondering if it would be as true with all adult genres. But I know John D. MacDonald's almost-all-dialogue opening is the kind of writing style I'd feel highly daunted to be forced to follow at Jordanesque length.

4: Familiar authors don't necessarily get as much leeway as I'd expected. For the most part, if they're familiar enough that they would get a pass just for who they are, they were already set aside from this project. The ones getting looked at are ones I've enjoyed but not loved before.

The exception was a Charles de Lint, who had failed to get into the auto-read pile because I've been put off some of his growing flaws. But the flaws in the opening chapter (an excess reliance on the cliches of how High School works) are not his traditional flaws. In his case, his style felt so familiar I ended up taking the book off the heap and finishing it when I needed a comfort read and didn't want to reread something. Turned out okay, too - some of the high school cliches got less painful, and while a couple of his other flaws cropped up - inevitable cameos by his beloved characters from other stories - they weren't the ones that had put me off him.

5: UNfamiliar genres get more leeway. Because I know I don't know their bad book warning signs nearly as well as I do fantasy's warning signs. So a less awesome lit-fic or thriller opening might still get a yea. This follows: I AM more picky about certain kinds of fantasy these days even in the bookstore. Some other genres I'm reading to expand my horizons, and that leaves some obligation to try books that don't hit my buttons right away (or at all). I still reserve the right to throw aside anything actually awful, of course.

6: It's rare that I decided yea or nay right after finishing the first chapter. Because at that point I am mentally in the book's style. Unequivocal 10/10 yesses are the only ones to happen immediately, and they're a lot more rare than they feel like they should be (the first one was Doris Egan's The Gate of Ivory). It feels a lot like the way the top 5% of the slush pile has been described: all the actually bad work is filtered out, you're reading "good" and "great" and "we should maybe buy this" -- but the ones that make the editor leap and say "we must buy this!" are still to be treasured.


* About which, you can safely skip all the short story nominees and know you didn't miss anything you'll regret. even the ones that are passable stories are not even close to the best of the year. Damn the puppies.**

** If you don't know what this means? It means DRAMA. OH SO MUCH DRAMA. Some people decided the Hugos were getting too Liberal and Feminist and decided to try and Fix that. Google some string like "Sad Puppies Hugo Awards" and you'll no doubt find a few cogent explanations and a lot of drama. Just don't risk looking up Rabid Puppies" until you have the gist of the story.

*** Interesting literary style, and at first I liked having a fat AND beautiful lead. But ultimately it fell into grotesque. And not for the weight.

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4th-May-2015 02:28 pm(no subject)
It's official.

Joseph had his language assessment 2 weeks ago, and his general assessment last Wednesday. His speech issues are exactly as we thought, no surprises.

His general assessment really wasn't a surprise either, to me. Apparently either I have been extremely negligent in discussing my concerns and thoughts with my husband, or Colin tried so hard to put the possibility out of his mind so as not to trigger his anxiety disorder that he let himself be blindsided instead. (Colin is the one who suggested the latter, not I. I have to confess, between discussions with his mom and mine, I might well have thought he and I addressed it more than we did.)

Joseph has autism spectrum disorder.

He's what they would call high-functioning, and not just because he's obviously smart - he does express affection at times, and even as we got him assessed, his language use is improving, with more spontaneous sentences, and more mimicry (touch is still his best tool for communication). But even some signs of his brightness are themselves flags - his level of interest and obsession with numbers, his ability to memorize and cite songs and books. It helped that there's a boy in his class who's also high-functioning autistic, and bright and interested in Joseph, and when she and I discussed our boys, we described a lot of the same behaviours and tendencies. (she also remarked on how much she sees her younger daughter doing that she didn't see with her son, in hindsight.). Those conversations I know I didn't share.

Another tool helping to prepare me is, well, seeing others go through the same process in public. So yes, posts like that matter.

In spite of this not being a surprise to me, and in spite of the fact that an accurate assessment will help provide services and tools for teaching him how to cope with his weaknesses, it left me fretful and depressed, a reaction I suspect is more based on the bogeyman version of autism than the reality, at least as far as our boy's level and degree.

Colin's anxiety shot through the roof on the spot, and he feels he has a lot more catching up to do. I really feel like I failed on good wifing. :P

That's where we stand until we have a chance to get to some information sessions and further appointments. Probably steady through the summer.


Alexander is doing very well, for a one month old. I think he's learning to smile.

(And on a whole other topic, yes, [personal profile] leonacarver, that's your book that snuck in the picture. Finished now, and liked it better than Piper.)

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31st-Mar-2015 11:38 pm - Follow-up thoughts
There is a HECK of a lot beyond the birth itself that ends up significant, and I don't mean the baby as such (That's not only significant, it's a whole new universe of its own); I mean follow-up to the process of giving birth.

Some stuff:

- There were something in the order of 8-9 paramedics in the house. Colin felt like it was a dozen - and outside was a fire truck, two ambulances and a couple of other vehicles. But since, in his own words, he was having trouble answering their difficult questions like "what's your phone number?" he wasn't in a state to ask. I, on the other hand, was on a hormone high that had me chatty, and had nothing to do for quite a while but lie there and hold Alexander whenever he wasn't being examined in his own turn. So I got the explanation why so many:

- the fire station sends the very first response, since they're literally up the street where the hospital is a 5 minute drive across the river. (Probably less in ambulance time but even so)
- they ALWAYS send two ambulances to a birth, in case of a complication where the baby is in distress enough they need to rush it to the hospital ahead of mom. (Or possibly vice versa but generally the baby first.) In our case, we got to ride together in one while one guy drove the other back.
- I presume the last vehicle(s?) would be the equivalent of the fire chief - the guy most in charge of coordinating all the others.

- You REALLY don't care about your possible state of undress or cleanliness. Really. You don't. Even with lots of cute paramedics around. besides, they were outcuted by the baby, and seriously outmatched by "My own husband delivered him" for appeal.

- Some medical TMI. You"ve been warned.Collapse )

- Once again, I had a struggle with milk coming in. This time, though, Alexander lost enough weight the very first 24 hours (And popped up with a bit of jaundice as a result) to keep us in the hospital while dealing with it. I really didn't need to go through that exact horserace again, but for the first bit, at least, it was probably the right call to stay. I'm not as sure about the last overnight, but I also don't think it hurt anything. Still, way to make me regret thinking that with Joseph, we could have stood another day of hospital time.

- And it's resolving faster. We've already NOT had to use formula with the supplementary bottles for a day or so. With Joseph, that was more along the lines of 5 weeks on, not 6 days.

- So far, I seem to have had a big hormone crash, usually with a few relatively quiet tears, at *exactly the same hour* three days in a row. Well, if anything, it makes it easier to cope with, because I can convince myself the supposed trigger really isn't when it's doing a clockwork thing. I've had other smaller snappish moments, and big guilty feelings about beign snappish, and other such effects, so it's not exclusive, but it's good to know when to brace myself, too.

- And yes, there are some hormone highs, too, though they tend towards "I love this baby!" not so much just plain laughing or feeling happy.

- Joseph has noticed his brother, and that he takes up mom's time, but he's not doing too badly getting on with things, and I have made some special time for him when I can. (I did feel a bit badly about giving him a kiss goodnight last night with a crying baby in arm, but tonight I got a whole bedtime moment of the sort *I've* been missing. (and by his hug, so has he. Grandma is awesome but not identical.)

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
29th-Mar-2015 04:24 pm - In Short...
Went to bed Wednesday night/Thursday morning past 1.

Woke at about 3 with a weird and distinctive backache/abdominal pressure many women would recognize. (Didn't check time until I decided I needed to get up, after; it said 3:11.) I considered having a shower, but the 4th or so contraction was a bit too strong to be safe alone.

At 3:45 or so, after MAYBE 6 contractions, I woke Colin telling him the last two were 5 minutes apart and getting serious. We talked about how soon we might needed to leave.

THE VERY NEXT ONE, just after I slipped off the bed to try and ride it standing, my waters broke, the urge to push started. I could not move (literally, though I could actually bend the knees and the back, as I demonstrated trying to ride the contraction. Taking steps down the hall? Nope.) and told Colin we weren't making it to the hospital. He asked what he could do. I said Call 911.

They asked if we could feel anything. I reached down and I finally understood; the baby was CROWNING. At 911's behest I managed, barely, the herculean effort of getting back onto the bed and rolling onto my back on the towels Colin grabbed. And the next contraction, the baby's head was far enough to have started crying.

At 4:04 by the 911 dispatcher, my husband delivered our second son, Alexander William, wrapped him in a towel, handed it to me, and went downstairs to let in the paramedics (who got to cut the cord.)

7 Lb 8 oz.

All healthy, all home safe.

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24th-Mar-2015 08:20 am - Picture
No, not yet. Here's what i did yesterday instead.

Last date I touched this was apparently October. I feel rather better if I *have* to leave it for months with a mostly finished grey and a blue roan foal who's at least substantial enough you don't see her through it.

Got another project to charge through for today. I keep thinking if I make specific project and get-stuff-done plans it will hasten things. :)

Picture hidden because sometimes they come out too big on others" feedsCollapse )

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22nd-Mar-2015 10:01 pm - A random idea for the next while
No, no baby yet. I feel like I need to preface everything everywhere with that.

In the case of this weekend, we therefore got to have a good Saturday evening game night with some friends, a nice lunch out with relatives, and I got a sit-and-chat with a lovely woman of my acquaintance.

So, [personal profile] rachelmanija has lately been doing a pretty sensible thing to winnow down her to-read stacks; she's reading the first chapter - and only that much, in most cases - of each book in the stack in succession (Or rather, each book that isn't a self-evident keeper, I suspect), and using that as the basis of whether she will keep or discard the book.

This had me thinking. A: I have a lot of books to winnow down, too.

B: Focusing enough to read a whole book while dealing with a newborn is an impossible task. A chapter would often be about the peak of skill.

Therefore, while I may need two weeks or so at the start of just baby and nothing else, I think I might borrow her idea as a way to get through the first few months sanely and still do something useful for the house.

I'm mildly worried that lack of sleep will cause some books to be winnowed that might not otherwise have lost my attention, but not badly concerned. When Joseph was that tiny, I sometimes read him to sleep from Terry Pratchett's Nation, and I followed it well enough (And slightly regretted the choice in the early and death-filled pages of the book, but I doubt Joseph noticed anything but the gentle voice); it's still one of Sir PTerry's best.

I can't promise to publicly post my results as often or snarkily as she does. Although it might help me post some, too.

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19th-Mar-2015 10:45 pm - Orlando.
We went, with my in-laws (including Colin's sister - and two visits from a cousin of theirs who lives in the vicinity). We had fun, sometimes with and sometimes without Joseph. You can probably skip the words and just look at the pictures and get all you need to out of this. :)

Hiding pics for obvious possible size reasonsCollapse )
I got allergies. Since I had been *almost* recovered from a bout of bronchitis, I spent the trip hacking up lungs. I had fun anyhow. Colin also spent extra time, going on the thrill rides that his pregnant wife, toddler son, and sister with the inner ear problem couldn't go on. Since we also had a hot tub and outdoor pool area, and a jacuzzi in our suite, mellowing out as needed was easier than it might be.

My main souvenirs were a shirt which is more India-themed print than obvious Disney souvenir (I haven't worn yet because belly, though it fits otherwise), a rather nice Alice in Wonderland themed tea (Which to my annoyance cannot be bought in any form other than a souvenir tin of some kind, so replacing it when it's gone will be hard), and a book - specifically Martha Wells' Razor's Edge, her Star Wars book mostly about Leia. (Set between A New Hope and Empire) Which, since the other book I had brought was her "The Siren Depths", meant at least I was consistent in my pleasure reading.

The biggest problem - well, let me quote myself from an e-mail.

...At the theme parks and outside in general, Joseph had a backpack with a leash, and was closely watched, or in a stroller, or carried around. He was if anything easier to watch.

But the resort proved a problem. Joseph figured out early on how to open the door to our suite and run out; sometimes he'd go to the centre area, with the store and playground and pools (which are behind gates and he couldn't get into alone, so no drowning worries) but most often he'd go into the elevator (right next to our suite) and play by pushing the buttons and going up and down floors. And while it never happened, in theory he had direct access to the parking lot via elevator or stairs, and from there out into the neighbourhood.

So he kept trying to escape. His grandma or one of the other adults (including me) would sometimes take him out to let him run around the building or the centre court (We tried to convince him the place to be was the play structure), but otherwise we just kept a reasonable eye on him.

On our last morning in Florida, I woke to hear Joseph talking to himself, and checked on him to find him still lying in bed. I figured I had time enough to go to the washroom first, but when I got into the main room again, he was gone, though the chain was still on our door. Thankfully, I didn't stop to check the suite, I just went straight to the door and caught him before the elevator arrived. Afterwards, I figured out the issue; he'd slipped through the connecting door to his aunt's suite, and HER chain had been loose (Since he almost never even tried the connecting door, this whole thing was a surprise.) She'd woken up when he passed through, but hadn't had a chance to get up or dressed enough to check before I reached him.

What was even more a surprise was that nobody else had been awake yet; Joseph's grandparents were virtually always the first up any morning.

However, while Colin, S., and I were out in the afternoon, he got out on his grandparents during the roughly 5 seconds W. had the chain undone and her back turned (She'd just let E. back inside from an errand.) And he had figured something out; if he stayed in OUR elevator, he got caught. So he took it down to the first floor, ran through the centre court and got in the elevator the next building down. Leaving W. a couple of minutes of genuine fear (someone did spot him right away - she found him by hearing someone asking "And where's your mother?")

Which, eek. Joseph does that at home, too, but the cold weather was dissuading him from stepping out until very recently, and we've installed a new safety device that's equivalent to a chain, but openable by an adult from outside, too. And he can't get downstairs at night, period."

Anyhow, the flight home was long and hard, and got us to Winnipeg at 1 AM. or so. We slept late.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
19th-Mar-2015 09:35 pm(no subject)
Hi, I'm Lenora Rose and it has been 67 days since my last entry...

Oh, wait, LJ is a habit I didn't especially want to break.

This is officially my due date for the baby, but he/she is still internal for now. No obvious complications, the baby is head down (She double-checked with a mini-ultrasound, since the last time she thought Joseph was, and we found out she was wrong at eight centimetres dilated...), so no rush just yet.

Quick summary:

January: Not much else but what i posted about already, and the trip to Orlando ate the reast of the month. Well, Colin added a series of kitchen cupboards we thoroughly needed. My teas are all in order! :)

Orlando, Florida: Even the quick summary kind of warrants its own post, so I'll do that.

Event immediately after: The SCA even was a lovely coffee-house themed event, low key but pleasant. Colin and I traded off chasing Joseph, then, for the sake of our sanity and staying at the event at all, Colin drove him to his grandma's house, and came back for feast. Next time, we arrange to do something like that beforehand.

Rest of February: Spent recovering from the lingering cough (December flu turned into bronchitis, also faded, got exploded in Florida, and while it got noticeably better the moment we flew back from the allergy-state it hung on), and not getting much done, it felt like. Did a fair bit of walking.

March: Not too much different, except that the weather has turned lovely, and mroe of the arrangements for new baby have been made, and some more house cleaning, and an ongoing craft project. After about 2 weeks cough free, at last, I caught a cold, but it's feeling like it will recover much faster. And didn't get as much walking in this last week or so, because ow. Joseph is up to 3 days a week at nursery school and still enjoying it, and taking occasional days with Viking Nanny, a friend's new child care venture. His current musical favourites are the Sing-along cd his aunt bought him from Disney, with his name inserted (Not as bad as we feared but far from good from the adult perspective), a few Sesame Street based songs - C is for Cookie especially - and Beethoven's 5th Symphony. And the Lulu and the Tomcat version of Wynken, Blynken and Nod, which used to be his least favourite thing of theirs.

Writing: Virtually not happening at all, other than e-mails and the like. I did work some on getting a coherent plot synopsis for Labyrinth, but other than that, my word count for the last 3 months has been on the hundreds. I've been roaming through old project after project (Which has included some mostly very minor bouts of editing), and nothing has been sticking. I think I've decided what I *should* do, and how to get myself going on it, just in time to likely be derailed by baby. :)

Crafting: I've also been working on a semi-secret craft project alongside Colin - I'm being outclassed by my husband. Of course, he's doing things like running off to the makerspace to do fancy laser etching, where I'm at home arguing with a sewing machine... My only hint is that it started with me making a bunch of new sketches of elephants. Elephants are weird, when one has spent all one's animal time drawing birds, mostly hawks, and more usual mammals like foxes and deer and horses. Elephants are made of some distinct and easy shapes from a drawing perspective, but when you really look at how they're assembled, that is one strange beastie. Still pretty cool, though.

My mother in law arrived yesterday, to help be ready for the baby. We were going to wait for the actual good news, but they found a last-minute seat sale, which is getting less common.

I have 2 tentative plans with friends for the weekend, and more semi-secret work to do. I really hope I don't pop *quite* yet.

Everything is crossposted to DW and LJ until further notice. Post comments here or there. (Comments at DW: comment count unavailable)
12th-Jan-2015 12:24 am - Travel, and parental fretting
Feels half pointless to say so when I haven't exactly been blogging as much as I used to, but I almsot certainly won't in the next couple of weeks. We're headed to Orlando as of Wednesday for a family trip/visit (We'l;l be seeing my in-laws, including Colin's sister, again). At the time the trip was planned, it was assumed we would have maybe seen my M-i-L in November and nobody else since summer or longer, not that the loss of a family member would cause them all to visit in December.

Mostly we're planning the expected touristy things - some of the more toddler friendly with JoJo, some with just Colin and I (or with his sister as well) while JoJo stays at the resort with the grandparents.

Travelling while fairly heavily pregnant is something I'm not entirely looking forward to, but we are all planning carefully around, and I suspect the result will be the same increase in physical activity I've been wanting anyhow. And I have the sense to monitor my need for down time.

Joseph saw the doctor for a check-up, just because he hasn't been since he was around 18 months and needed his last vaccination until he's 5. And the Doctor strongly suggested, just from his behaviour in the office, that we have someone from Child Development Clinic look at him. Because some of it struck him as very abnormal for Joseph's age. He was, I admit, being especially bad at the doctor's office, being bored and restless, and thus even less responsive than usual, but not so far outside his normal range that I could shrug it off as just a bad day.

I can see it. Joseph is bright, and physically active, and displays high intelligence. Yet he often doesn't pay attention. He's got excellent memory and a good vocabulary but still doesn't always do dialogue or respond. He's missing some social skills and social cues, and even his lack of fear or shyness around strangers, which I consider a plus in most cases, could be symptomatic.

One oddity that has stood out for me for a while is, he knows Mommy -- especially, but also Grandmas and Daddy -- give him kisses. But he has never, or at best extremely rarely, tried to reciprocate. He's always been bad at imitation games, at copying things other people do. Usually because he stops watching them, not because he can't understand when he does look and think about it.

I would not be surprised if any look at him determines he falls inside the range of neurotypical, even if he has a few outlier traits (That's where I am, after all, especially re the outliers). I would be not at all surprised to learn it's mostly ADD, with the social skills mostly a matter of distraction -- a result rather than a symptom. (His uncle has, and one grandmother almost certainly has, ADD). I would be a bit more surprised, but consider it well within the realm of possibility, that there's a bit more going on and that some of those are symptoms of something in the range of low-grade autism or Asberger's. (He pretty definitely doesn't, at least at his age, have any sign of Colin's family's depression and anxiety disorders.)

I would be HUGELY surprised, and deeply skeptical, if anyone thought it was something serious enough to require medication.

I can say that there's nothing serious enough that he couldn't have learned to cope in a time period where forcing kids to cope or fail was the norm. I consider it plausible that, in these days of more awareness and accommodation, there are ways me might be happier and more able to learn if a diagnosis can be made.

And yet I fret. Is he having these problems because of times I didn't pay him enough close attention? I love him dearly, I try to express it daily, I try to give him social time. I also try to give him time to learn to play alone, while I work on other things (lunch, or a puzzle, or a book of my own.) He's seemed to be good at coming up and asking for attention or for a specific thing he needs while I'm doing this, but did I overdo the "mommy is doing other stuff" moments and underdo the rest? I don't think so, I think I struck a fair balance between over-hovering and under-attending, and one that doesn't seem too different from most other parents I've seen -- except apparently in my deep anxieties.

And yes, I know the "refrigerator mom" theory has been pretty heavily debunked (unless you're talking levels of isolation and non-socialization that would be visibly abusive), and that that's pretty much what the anxieties are pressing.

But I'm not a perfect mom. I get horribly frustrated when he does the things he knows are wrong and that we've said no to for the fifteenth time in 2 days. I get frustrated he doesn't do things I think he should know how to do by now, because he's been shown dozens or more times (especially when there are other things, things that play to his strengths, that he has learned how to do in a snap.) I get frustrated, period. I fret about not getting to do my own thing, when frankly, I DO, a fair bit (And a number of times when I don't, it's self-inflicted.) I fret about doing too little for him. I fret about doing too much for him. I fret about paying less attention to him while we have guests over (Even though the guests often also help with him, or pay attention to him that's new and different.) I fret about him not spending enough time with his Daddy as caregiver. I fret about asking Colin to do too much when he's tired from work and I don't have a solid reason. I fret I don't clean enough (I'm right about that one).

All of which means, of course, that if something is wrong that will be an issue for his whole life, not just a brief hitch in his early years, my brain has ample fodder for ways to blame me.

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20th-Dec-2014 10:46 pm - Kind of a downer.
It's been a long week. At the tail end of a long month. I am so totally not feeling Christmas is here.

Colin's aunt passed away earlier in December of pancreatic cancer - it was a decline of about a month, sharp and fast as these things go. In a way, it was as good as such a thing can be; it lasted long enough for a lot of out of town kin to come in and say goodbye, and short enough she didn't suffer horribly. She actually passed on in the presence of her brother (my father in law) and a friend - literally the day he returned to Winnipeg to help with funeral arrangements and packing away her apartment. Her funeral was well attended and there was a lot of sincere respect and love expressed, from family, from people who worked with her, people who went to church with her, friends in the community, people she volunteered with. She was 83.

We usually spent Boxing Day with Colin's aunts, and found a day on the Easter weekend, and some other occasions. He visited slightly more often to help with her computer issues, or other things of that nature. She wasn't a huge presence in my life specifically, but she was the one of Colin's kin we saw most often after his parents.

This week in particular was mostly about being sick. I took Joseph to Children's Hospital last Friday for a false alarm (He'd got into a bottle of Tylenol, but there was, it turns out, only one pill left in it; the one he took out of his mouth and offered to me still intact when I found him).

Thanks to the 2 hours and up of waiting surrounded by 20 other kids and their parents, he picked up a flu bug from someone. I'm pretty sure it was there and not as school earlier the same day, but of course it could be either.

So yeah. Fevers, aches, and while the worst only lasted a day or so each, the cough lingers. Ever had a cough while 6 months pregnant? Let's just say you spend a lot of extra time on the toilet because the bladder is already under serious pressure.

So we were well enough yesterday to feel up to getting to a friend's Christmas party and not worrying too hard about infecting the whole room. I REALLY hope I'm right about that> otherwise I owe most of the people I like best some serious apologies.

Also, I don't know if I'll be up to singing for the Christmas Eve service, because between this and the family stuff, I've missed all but one practice this month AND I don't know how I'll be cough-wise by Christmas Eve. (And the one practice I *Made* it to I had to pass over a favourite alternate activity to get to.) So argh.

I'm not a soloist, I don't think *the choir* will lose a lot for my absence, but I did want to end my singing with them with the big day, and it meant something to *me*. Because I've been losing breath control rapidly as I get more pregnant, so I wasn't really intending to press on in the new year.

I'm not even sure we'll make their Christmas party tomorrow. Because we kinda pushed our limits this weekend.

At least the Christmas Eve service is early enough i think I'll make it to See it.


We're also not doing anything resembling the family get together with all the aunts and uncles and cousins. For several different reasons, nobody is up to hosting, and some aren't up to attending. Not doing Thanksgiving, as we didn't, is one thing - we've missed that before as a family. But Christmas and Easter are sorta bigger deals.


And, tiny and petty as it is compared to the rest, my brother and I haven't been able to do our annual shopping session together yet - it got put off to Tuesday because mom is also sick so no Joseph-minding was available Friday - and I have even less idea when I'll go shop for *him*.


AND we're not doing our new Year's Eve cabin retreat, but this one I think was a good choice, and we're *hosting* a New Year's Party with the same suspects instead, possibly bookended by another friend hosting related activities to attempt to get the same "2-3 days of escape" feel. I also think we need to suggest an outdoorsy session of something during that stretch. IF it bothers to snow a bit more by December's end, instead of giving us freezing drizzle. Sledding, skiing, snowmen, quinzy-making and skating are ALL better with actual snow (Or rather, skating is better when the only ice is the ice deliberately meant to be there, not the stuff that makes you fall on the way...) Even just a quick romp through a park feels better if it's in snow proper.

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1st-Dec-2014 12:59 am(no subject)

At about 11:20 PM November 30th. I half expected it to be 39 minutes later...

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22nd-Nov-2014 11:34 pm - NaNo.
I've been doing NaNoWriMo, part of the reason I haven't been posting. It's been overall a different experience from last year.

Last year I was plunging through the rough draft of a story where I already had around 40k words written and had been thinking it through and working around the idea for a few years, had revised and rejected any number of alternates and options in the daydreaming, plot summary, and planning stages. So while it was raw text, I retained a pretty good idea how it ought to go. AND, it's in a secondary world of a sort that doesn't require a lot of research I didn't already know. (The very very last thing I looked up during the revisions of it sticks out for me; the air dates of certain Doctor Who episodes. Not exactly what one would call deep research...).

This time I'm doing the zeroeth draft of a story where I have only the vaguest outline of what will be coming, have been thinking about the plans and characters for months at best, many of which months were eaten creatively by Labyrinth's revisions. I have a total of 3700 words of plot summary and character sketch (And some of that added after I started NaNo), and already know I need to do multi-book intense research on some very basic aspects directly related to the plot. And no time now as I pour on words, so this time it's fake it with the most shallow Wikipedia glance, write, and research later. Meaning that I might end up realizing whole sections simply need to be scrapped or replaced wholesale because the Boat/Surgery/Arachnid Doesn't Work Like That. (It helps to have a couple of relative kids on board. They get to not know stuff.) But it feels a lot more like wading through fog and mud with a hand-drawn map whose ink is running from the wet, with a dying flashlight. In the company of strangers.

Just starting a story with no plan beyond a neat idea is something I did in my teens a lot, but while my style of laying down prose is Still closer to pantser than to planner, and while I still tend to store more notes in my head than on paper, I tend to leave a lot of stuff churning in the backbrain a lot longer. For instance, I have a whole chunk of the third book of the Serpent Prince series wholly unwritten - but I started the first draft of the Serpent Prince itself back in 2002. I've lived with even the newest characters for a few years now. When i turn to that project, *even though* there are some key plot things in the climax I haven't figured out (There were for Labyrinth, too), it's not going to feel this lost. I'll be heading there WITH Ketan and Rosor and Teo and Jes, and I KNOW them.

The last, closest thing to this I've done was probably that first draft of the Serpent Prince, in fact. Which, again, 2002. And that was with medieval daily life as the key not-researched enough area, which is one where my knowledge, pre the rest of the research, was already at least enough to make it unlikely I'd fall into the worst "you learned that from Hollywood" pits.

So this feels alien, outside my comfort zone a bit, in a way last year's NaNo wasn't, because even Labyrinth as an idea that dates back at LEAST to 2010 (That's the last saved date relevant to it I can find in my files. I'm pretty sure if I scoured LJ I'd find evidence from 2008-9).

So I'm not enjoying pouring on the words quite the same (Tonight I'm ahead enough I opted for a break to write non-fiction, IE LJ posts, instead. In part because I actually do know some of the next scene, which means I'll be able to add words at a good clip.)

Also, as I confessed already, I had one night where I was so frustrated and stuck on the next scene that as I sat there, thinking, "I don't know what to do now, I don't want to write this, I'm horny but Colin is off to bed and his MOTHER is in the house..." and I switched to a new file and ended up awake far too late, with 4400 words of extremely naughty PWP (With unrelated unnamed characters). Which, since the next day I managed to pour on the words on the real project quite happily, I think was useful in unjamming the story itself, and EVERYONE to whom I've mentioned it said Go ahead and count it as NaNo Words, it's fiction and 4400 is a HUGE single-day word count, which fits the spirit... but still feels half like I cheated.

Well, if I make 54400 words at month's end, I can stop fretting it. If I just make 50k, well, then I can worry.

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22nd-Nov-2014 10:29 pm(no subject)
Life has been busy. Joseph just turned three, in the course of which we've taken the crib out of his room and apart, because he really didn't want to switch to the twin bed. (We're months from needing even the bassinet, and I suspect a bit longer before we move on to using the crib again and making Joseph share his room with Sibling. But I still want him well past trying to crawl in with Sibling.)

Speaking of which, we don't get to be more specific about the baby to come. The ultrasound was beyond inconclusive as far as gender goes; the baby was turned the wrong way and had its legs folded in front. (They got clear views of everything else, which looked normal and confirmed it's exactly the age we thought it was.) Ah, well, we just need two conversations about baby names then. I have already vetoed Derek Eric Yorikk Patrick.

There's another family crisis happening, alas: Colin's aunt has pancreatic cancer, which hits fast. On the one hand, this meant we got extra visits from his father and sister and even some of his cousins. While those visits were focused on aunt L., they did take time to see us and visit (My father-in-law and sister-in-law both stayed part time at our house; the cousins only came for dinner, with their two kids near Joseph's age. A fact which pleased him greatly.) which made it a sort of a silver lining. On the other hand, it's also had the opposite effect on my mother in law's long-since-planned visit to see us and Joseph in the vicinity of his birthday, in that she's also been taking some days over there. Colin and I (and JoJo) were dealing with colds which mostly meant not wanting to infect an elderly and ill lady, we're not only due to visit, once everybody else has gone, we're likely going to be among the few left who can see her as regularly (She has a goodly passel of friends, as well as family, though.) Her sister lives in Steinbach, and while she's been staying over in the city a lot, it's a hard job for an 80-some year old.

(And within 2 days of learning about that, I learned that one of my own Uncles - not much seen as an adult but a notable influence on my childhood - had a fatal heart attack. It's not the same as it might be if it were a relation I see several times a year, and not one far off in Northern Alberta, but it made a sad time sadder)

And of course, my hips decided to give me a crisis moment over the last weekend, when I was having trouble crossing a room. All muscle spasm stuff, not worse, but the heavy-duty relaxants they normally prescribe are contraindicated for pregnant women (The normal ones are, too). They've eased some since, and a physio has given me some useful stretches assuming I keep being good and doing them.

And I realise all this makes it sound like it's been more of a downer lately than it has been. And really, it hasn't (I suspect things with Aunt L. will get much more real much closer to the end, and after.) I mostly feel good, at least when I get sleep. Speaking of which....

(I had a pile of writing related thinkies I decided warranted their own post.)

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1st-Nov-2014 05:54 pm(no subject)
Joseph's first Hallowe'en with a costume and a Trick or Treat run about the neighbourhood.

He did okay. We sang the Cat Came Back between houses. I managed to get him to say trick or treat a few times, but always in a little voice and almost never once the door was opened. I got him to go "Rawr!" a few times at people, though, which I suspect they thought was cuter.

I kept it very short (Something you can see by our use of his little sand bucket for candy); our side of our short block, and both sides of the next one down, which is just as short and broken up by apartments and construction; about ten houses and one open apartment, whose manager at least knows HIM by name. (We say hi a lot and talk about things, but I honestly have no idea if she knows my name. I blank on hers roughly 50% of the time so I'm fine if she doesn't). Most of the houses open were neighbours we knew or at least had seen. It was especially satisfying on the way back to stop at the house of the person who'd been on her front step locked out when we started, just so I could say i was glad she got in.

Most of the candy is within what he can eat and there were a few suitable non-candy things.

We also have a metric ton of peanut butter cups and their ilk left over, and a smaller amount of the just-in-case nut and gluten free things. So i feel no shame that I'm going to steal the 2 Coffee Crisps. Joseph loves, and has been demanding, peanut butter cups.

We also went to his godmother's place afterwards for the later evening - we even brought our pumpkin, so it could be on a step where it could stay alight. He fell sound asleep on the car back, though he was pretty active and cheerful there.

Only oops; we got a a call while there that our alarm went off. I considered this, and mentioned that when I turned off the front hall lights and brought in Kermit, I didn't think I locked the door. I blame pregnancy brain. Nothing was missing when Colin checked, even the candy, so I fear I probably frightened some poor local kid who was a bit too eager to try even the unlit houses.

Hallowe'en pics below, though all repeated from Facebook.

Read more...Collapse )

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This story is rocking, practically screaming in some venues, across Canada. I suspect it's hardly a blip in the US.

CBC fired a major radio personality with a highly popular show with no public explanation.

Ghomeshi himself then proceeded to publish a lengthy post (Mostly on facebook but disseminated elsewhere as such things are) which said: I'm into BDSM. *** I did some consensual things with a woman. After we broke up, she started claiming we did non-consensual abusive things. She took her invented story to the media. I told CBC about her wild accusations, presented them proof everything was consented to. They fired me anyhow, to cover their own arses.

This is I should say an unfair rendering of his letter, which on the surface is a remarkably convincing document. It rang all the right bells; big corporation fires perfectly nice person for being part of a subculture it's okay to vilify.

At first I was inclined to believe him. I thought about how rare are false accusations - but rare is not absent, and those real false accusations really hurt, too.

Also, his story version was first out of the gate, which tends to create and set the narrative in peoples' minds unless there's an overwhelming counter-response.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then the Toronto Star's first news story broke. With not one but THREE women - asking to remain anonymous - reporting non-consensual beating or choking. A story the paper had apparently been working on, and sitting on, for a year, and might not have released now if Ghomeshi hadn't put forth his narrative.

And I was given some pause. ONE accuser leaves a lot of room for wondering. Three false accusations, even in collusion, even anonymous, seems - unlikely?

Still, my attitude was "Let's wait and see." I got at least one highly heated comment for being that moderate, from someone who was SURE he was innocent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Around now, this comment from a friend of his came out, but I read it rather later in the sequence. Owen Pallett's take.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Then another woman came forward. Then another was interviewed, on CBC's afternoon show. Both still anonymous, but now we had at least one voice speaking directly. And yes, the interview was highly disturbing. No consent - the cornerstone of BDSM. Of ALL sex. Of ALL physical interaction between adults able to consent.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Another very familiar line: people had known; people had whispered. But without anything that could be taken to a court, or a boss.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person created a twitter account back in April about Ghomeshi that's coming to light again now.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

We are now up to NINE women who've stood up - two of them have allowed themselves to be named.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

The first one named, Lucy DeCoutere, was interviewed on CBC, again, but this time, AFTER she had come forward to other venues. Her story was over 10 years old, but contained most of the same elements. Abruptly hit and choked - not during a sexual encounter, not after any discussion of BDSM, barely inside the door - by someone who afterwards treated the rest of the evening as perfectly normal**. How she could not process it at all, at the time, certainly not enough to come up with any clear response. How sudden unexpected abuse isn't easy to react to.

How, and this is significant, how hearing the other womens' stories convinced her to speak up. But she was the first to put a name to it.


Innocent until Proven guilty.

On the wrong comment threads, she, and all eight other women, have been called liars, and bitches, and attention-mongers, and whores. Or all at once.

There seem to be a number of people who want to believe one man's testimony over that of nine women, some of whom spoke up independently and don't even know the names of the others, making collusion difficult.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

At least one person has cited that there are more false rape accusations than real rapes (Do I even need to say this is a pure lie?), and this is more of the same. I don't want to know if there are more of these than I've personally witnessed. One was enough.

At least one person has said that the fact that so many women are jumping up now is evidence the whole thing is being railroaded.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

Several people have said that they're in it for easy money - what money? - or for fame, or for revenge, or for just about any motivation other than "Maybe he did something wrong and should be investigated."

Several people have suggested at least some women might not even know him before they're telling these stories, something they seem to think a reporter doing due diligence might somehow miss.

Multiple people keep asking why they can't keep this whole thing private, and only a few acknowledge that Ghomeshi's letter, not the women speaking up since, is the reason it's in the public eye to this degree.

The fact that nobody went to the police or any other authority* prior to the media story breaking -- even the ones who came out to the media BECAUSE the media broke the story and they would now be heard, a pretty obvious causation - is brought up over and over.

Innocent until Proven guilty.

I've seen some ugly racism crop up against Ghomeshi - mostly to say he could be guilty because he's "one of THEM", not one of us. A way of making him a monster, an OTHER, an equivalent to the rapist in the bushes. A creep whose scary Middle Eastern culture taught him to be evil. Not a liberal Canadian. Not a normal man like me/my husband/my boyfriend/whoever it is we're desperately not trying to vilify today. Notallmen.

(I have no trouble distinguishing my own husband and brother from Ghomeshi without reference to anyone's ethnic origin. Neither of my relatives would beat a woman, and I know more than enough of their exes to know nobody will ever be coming forward making such accusations. I cannot say the same with confidence of Ghomeshi.)

Innocent until Proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. innocent until proven guilty.

Nobody is allowed to suggest he can do wrong without a court of law. Never mind that this is one way to GET him to a court of law.

Do I think he's guilty? I think the evidence is tending strongly that way. That's not a yes. It's a we don't know but we have good reason to believe. It's an I refuse to disbelieve nine women without evidence against THEM, either.

Do I think he should be investigated and charged? Damn straight. That's how you find out the answers.


At least, it should be and I want to believe that of our courts. We've certainly had proof this isn't always the case. Sometimes, even after conviction.

Do I think it was wrong or inappropriate for these women to go public in the media first?


Not when the alleged abuser has already had his say in the media.


I feel like I've seen this before. Maybe more than once. Maybe more than that.

And one thing these cases have in common? GOING PUBLIC FORCES ACTION THAT WOULD OTHERWISE NEVER HAPPEN. And I don't mean that by way of "if you don't report your abuse, it's all your fault if it happens again". That's BS, even if the person making the accusation weren't always treated as a liar, a whore, a gold digger out for wealth or fame. Not treated worse for speaking out or dealing with it..

I mean "Now that you've spoken, others speak."

I mean, "Oh, crap, people are watching. Now that we have witnesses, we're obliged to take this seriously, to not dismiss it the way we really want to. We're going to do it, and with luck, do it right."

Of course, I can't help note, all of the things I mentioned above didn't get dealt with right by the relevant due process. And I don't mean because I didn't like the verdict. The verdict was guilt. What happened afterwards was not just.

They got revisited, sometimes, after public outcry at a blatant, screamingly obvious miscarriage of justice.

So maybe I'm a bit cynical. A bit worried that even the courts won't answer. Even if the evidence is there and the guilt determined.

But we'll be able to watch. Because when it comes to the safety of the people targeted by a probable abuser, the priority isn't perfectly determining legal guilt. The priority is protect them and prevent more abuse. Because the law court can't provide that protection to victims, and future victims are entirely out of its purview. And the whispered warnings that have been happening for years absent that publicity only protected those few who happened to know someone who knows Ghomeshi.

But we'll know at least that here's someone to watch, someone not to trust. Because someone went public. Public knowledge protects everyone.

* One of the first four anonymous ones had reported she made a sexual harassment claim while he worked for CBC, and nothing came of it.

** There's a moment in Labyrinth where a character is telling a story about how she had something similar happen - an unexpected abusive turn in a previously mostly-normal situation, which then reverted to normal and left her half doubting it had even happened. I was worried it was going to ring as extreme and unrealistic to readers. I wrote that scene last November. I could almost have lifted that moment from Lucy DeCoutere's account verbatim. I was chilled.

***I'm not going to further address this side, because while it led to some interesting side conversations, and the public examination of an interesting point of law, it's a red herring.

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27th-Oct-2014 10:54 pm - Final Verdict
It took me about a week longer than I anticipated to do ALL the tweaks and stuff I wanted to do to Labyrinth. Mostly because I had to rewrite so many bits.

(Not ALL in the long run, I desperately need another title still...)

Amused that the next-to-last thing I did was fact check when certain Doctor Who episodes aired. Especially since MOST of the cultural references are to Buffy.

Final draft total: 152,788 words (Although that word count technically includes words like "Chapter Twenty-four" which I'm never sure if they should count... and with thity-one chapters that adds up).

Lower than I expected this time last week. I started with a draft of 152,372 so I didn't reduce it any whatsoever, but considering at its peak it was 155,949 I think I did okay for cuts. The fact that it ended close to where it began is what happens when you have to add a full chapter to the beginning and a new scene in the climax. When you say you want to cut.

Still could use a couple more betas. (I have 4 people on offer, but 2 haven't done it much before.)

Also, I inquired among a few writing friends, but -- the main character is a Japanese Canadian. Multiple-generations here and she talks like a Canuck (By the second page she's called someone a douchebag and she has an f-sharp count) but it would be nice if anyone could recommend me an SF/F writer with some Japanese ancestry who'd be willing to look and tell me if I over or under-did the bits meant to be based on her ancestral culture. (It doesn't come up as much as all that, what with this being a portal fantasy.)

Otherwise - life goes on. Stuff happened I can't talk about because it isn't me, which sucked but is getting better, and stuff is happening I shouldn't discuss yet, which will suck. Family visits soon, which will be good.

Toddler outside me and baby within keep growing -- the former has a lion costume for Hallowe'en. I've thought half-seriously about decorating the belly and saying I dressed the baby up too, but then I'd have to be willing to show it off, and, no. I'll probably stick to the Italian Ren, which has an almost-Empire waistline and thus no problem with baby.

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